Line 6’s Catalyst collection is the current in a generation of amplifiers bridging the space between digital modeling’s numerous gamers and also massive opportunities’ desires for old-school simplicity. These amps supply in-depth, convincing amp versions– but few of them– in a compact, vintage-style layout that makes evasion of alternative tiredness a concern. The really accessible rates additionally make the series a straight competitor to Boss’ ultra-successful Katana amps. The Catalyst is offered in three versions: Catalyst 60 and also Catalyst 100( both of which have one 12 “audio speaker ), and also the Catalyst 200, which has two 12” speakers. For this evaluation I tested the Catalyst 100, which sells for a very small $399. Straightforward Complexity The Catalyst has lots of bells and also whistles. Externally, however, it looks a whole lot like an easy, standard 2-channel amp. There are knobs for increase, gain, bass, mid, treble, existence, network quantity, reverb, master, and also impact quantity.
There’s likewise a handle that lets you select from six initial amp models: clean, boutique, chime, crisis, dynamic, and also hi gain. Mini switches allow you save and also pick in between two channel presets or engage hands-on setting, where what you see is what you get. Other mini buttons permit you to engage increase, faucet tempo, and also choose impacts and also a receiver. On the back panel is an outcome power handle that lets you select from mute, 1/2 watt, 50 watts, as well as 100 watts. There’s also a USB jack, a DI out, as well as an impacts loop.< iframe course=" rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id =" fb890ac1b0ff2b05c6580ca062a45773" frameborder=" 0" elevation=" 300 "scrolling=" no
” src=” https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https://soundcloud.com/premierguitar/sets/line-6-catalyst-100-review” width= “100 %” > Six Amps in One There’s not enough room in this testimonial to cover all the amp models in depth. And I think that for several players even simply a few used with the complete series of their clean and also unclean variations will be every little thing they ever before need. Still, the Catalyst’s capacities and potential– particularly about its price– will certainly thrill any type of potential user.I started my own try outs the store voicing at the 1/2- watt output setup. Naturally, there’s not a lot of output in this setting, though it’s a great deal of enjoyable as a technique amp. At the 50-watt output setting, though, I can feel the amp and listen to in a much more total means. There was clearance to spare and it’s responsive and also remarkably dynamic to selecting nuance. And also it was remarkably very easy to get SRV-style bite out of otherwise clean, blues-tinged phrases– once more, really outstanding. The helpful boost knob lets you dial in extra kick, and, thoughtfully, each amp version has actually an especially tailored increase articulating. In store mode higher increase setups included a lot more gain to the amp design’s cleanish audio, as well as the saturation sounded as well as felt natural.
The chime model, loosely influenced by a Vox amp, is warmer as well as thicker than the boutique design in cleaner setups. But when I engaged the boost (with the handle at noon) and set the gain handle around 11 o’clock, the amp positively screamed– producing a hostile as well as at times piercing audio that would certainly compensate a gamer with a commanding strategy like Eric Gales or a 1960s-influenced guitarist who likes the potency of single-note lines.The high-gain model
, on the other hand, is a fire-breathing monster. With the gain at 11 o’clock, there is a lot of lower end, and also the feeling of the amp moving air comes to be extra obvious. Involving the boost softened the attack somewhat, that made soloing extra fluid. But there wasn’t much of a difference via the series of the increase handle from noontime to max. The amp version is rather saturated to start with.There was headroom to
extra and also it’s impressively vibrant and also receptive to choosing nuances.No Jumping Through Hoops Running Loops Making use of the tidy model, I
ran my Yamaha UD Stomp hold-up via the results
loop. The results were usually sublime and dimensional. The power-amp-in feature lets you plug in a pedalboard and play it directly right into the Catalyst 100’s power amp. I made use of an additional configuration, with a Mesa/Boogie V-Twin preamp pedal, straight through the Catalyst’s power amp and it appeared incredible. And also although the preamp is bypassed in this mode, the increase function is still active. Evaluate 10 o’clock, it included a good final touch to the Mesa/Boogie preamp’s clean channel, making it audio discernibly richer. In my simple point of view, simply the power amp and speaker cabinet alone deserve the $399 price.Though Line 6’s well-known HX technology is installed in the Catalyst, the firm did a great task of keeping alternatives very easy to browse and also handle. There isn’t an unlimited buffet of results, as you could anticipate. There’s a standalone reverb, and also apart from that you can just make use of one extra impact concurrently, unless you bring your pedalboard to the event. In complete there are 18 effects, organized right into three classifications: inflection, pitch/filter, and hold-up– each with an equivalent LED in green, blue, or purple, respectively. If you’ve utilized Line 6 products previously, many of these excellent impacts (and the color coding) will be familiar. There’s the magnificent vibrant “eluding” delay, some modulation versions based on renowned pedals like the MXR Phase 90 and also others, as well as some traditional Line 6 pitch/filter results like growler synth and synth strings. If you do intend to utilize even more impacts concurrently, the results loop is a superb means to spot in external effects.The USB connection, by
the means, enables link to a computer so you can make use of Line 6’s modifying software program, which allows you to dive deep into tone modifying or simply fine tune a few points. I visualize that, in truth, many customers will certainly simply identify exactly how to get a number of core sounds straight from the amp, save them, as well as simply opt for that. Yet it’s always terrific to have choices, as well as if you’re somebody that really makes best use of the capacities of editors and modelers, you’ll have a field day with the app.The Verdict For any guitar player looking for an all-in-one, plug-and-play arrangement for practice sessions, live programs, and also recording (you can videotape directly utilizing both USB and the built-in DI with taxicab simulation), the Catalyst, at $399, is quite difficult to beat. It’s obtained more functions than lots of players will require, yet what will certainly count for a lot of the target audience is just how much you can achieve without diving too deep. And also though the rate might recommend or else, Catalyst isn’t simply for novices or intermediate gamers. Any kind of expert guitarist that’s tired of dealing with tube related maintenance and also expenses will certainly be happy with much of the sounds below.
< iframe class=" rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id=" fb890ac1b0ff2b05c6580ca062a45773" frameborder=" 0"
height=” 300 “scrolling=” no” src=” https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https://soundcloud.com/premierguitar/sets/line-6-catalyst-100-review” width =” 100 %” >Six Amps in One There’s not enough room in this testimonial to cover all the amp designs in deepness.I started my own experiments with the store articulating at the 1/2- watt result setup.The high-gain version, meanwhile, is a fire-breathing monster.No Jumping Through Hoops Running Loops Using the clean version, I ran my Yamaha UD Stomp hold-up through the results loop.The Verdict For any guitarist looking for an all-in-one, plug-and-play arrangement for method sessions, live shows, as well as recording( you can tape-record directly using both USB and the integrated DI with taxicab simulation), the Catalyst, at $399, is quite challenging to defeat.
<aYamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T Review
While the Yamaha name is renowned in circles past the guitar globe, they’ve made first-class guitars because the 1960s. And also while they don’t let loose new launches with the frequency of some larger guitar brand names, from time to time they boil down the hill with a brand-new axe that advises us of their ability to build wonderful electrical 6-strings. In 2015, Yamaha presented the first generation Revstar. With a good-looking aesthetic influenced by the firm’s motorbike auto racing heritage, the Revstar incorporated sweet playability and also classic design touchstones. This year, Yamaha gave the Revstar an overhaul– including body chambering, updated pick-ups, and new changing. What’s impressive is just how these changes enhance the already remarkable playability and flexibility of the original.Keyed-Up Cruiser At
a glance, the newest Revstars
look a whole lot like the originals. And streamlined controls suggest little distinction in between the Yamaha and a lot of various other simple 2-pickup electrics. There’s a volume knob, a tone knob, as well as a pickup selector. Simple? Not necessarily. The control design is cost-effective, it conceals a chest of tone possibilities. The pickup switch is currently a 5-way selector. Positions 1, 3, and 5 are neck, neck/bridge mix, and bridge pickup setups. Placements 2 and also 4 deal awesome out-of-phase noises. Yamaha additionally made the tone knob a push/pull pot which turns on a passive increase called the emphasis switch. It successfully kicks up the mid and also reduced arrays and also slashes off the higher frequencies. When it comes to our evaluation guitar, the revised circuit is paired with a collection of Yamaha-designed VP5 P-90s with alnico 5 magnets. A humbucker-equipped version is also available.The build high quality on our gorgeous sundown burst Revstar is very good.
The double-cut body, which tastefully mirrors vintage Yamaha style aspects with a trace of ’60s countered lines, is constructed around a layer of maple over chambered mahogany. And though the building and construction really feels considerable, it’s still light at nearly 8 extra pounds. The carbon reinforced neck is developed around a 24 3/4 “range as well as features a 12 “radius rosewood fretboard. The tastefully subdued pearloid inlays are positioned in between jumbo, stainless-steel frets that will weather years of roadway rash prior to showing any type of wear. Unlike the deep glossy finish on the body, the rear of the neck is completed in satin. It’s an absolute dream to hold and also really feels much faster as well as more accurate for the lack of gloss.In the context of a complete band, the emphasis switch is additionally a convenient solution when you need to duck right into the rhythm pocket.Shifting Gears on the Open Road Yamaha succeeded in their efforts to makethe Revstar extra comfy. Compared to a Gibson SG Classic, the Revstar feels a hair larger however a lot more well balanced.
Hanging over my shoulder from a strap,
it really did not exhibit any type of tendency toward neck dive. This isn’t the only advantage of Yamaha’s chambered style, but it pays a big reward in this respect.With the Revstar out in front of an Orange OR50 and also a 4×12, added comparisons with the SG classic were informing as well as enlightening. As a whole, the Yamaha’s P-90s have a reasonably lower outcome, are much less loud, as well as exhibit greater
overall clearness. While the pick-ups on both guitars sound likewise hefty playing campfire chords, the Revstar’s output was more express playing barre chords further up the neck. Lead lines from the Revstar likewise brandish a bit much more midrange honk that begs for funk riffs. Combined with a glass slide, the Yamaha gladly changed into a blues monster.Pulling up on the focus switch kicks maintain right into high equipment. That maintain comes with the price of some information in the leading end, yet it’s definitely perfect for long, drawn-out lead lines as well as slide. In the context of a complete band, the emphasis switch is additionally a helpful solution when you need to elude right into the rhythm pocket. It’s also a breeze to turn in between the two expressions. Eventually, the focus switch shines most with high-headroom amplifiers. With smaller sized amps, like a 5-watt Champ, the increased lows as well as mids cause audio speaker break-up as well as some mud at moderate quantities, while the “undistinct” result continued to be gritty, yet eloquent.The Verdict At just a shade under$ 800, the Yamaha Revstar is a large amount. The range of offered tones is impressive. And the sharp, one-of-a-kind looks promote themselves. While the P-90s are a natural fit for traditional rock and also blues riffage, the total capacity for selecting information, the out-of-phase switching capabilities
, and the low/mid increase function significantly prolong the guitar’s vocabulary– making the new Revstar an excellent buddy for many pedals as well as very with the ability of being the only phase guitar you require. Whether you desire crystalline, single-coil chime or punchy, bottom-heavy power chord tones, the Revstar handles everything as with dignity as a café racer leaning right into a sweeping contour, and also really feels fantastic doing it.Yamaha Revstar Standard RSS02T Demo|Look < iframe frameborder =" 0" height= "car" lazy-loadable=" true "scrolling =" no" src=" https://www.youtube.com/embed/-yuNsTAt6dY?rel=0 "design=" position: absolute
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Keyed-Up Cruiser At a glimpse, the latest Revstars look a whole lot like the originals.The construct quality on our gorgeous sundown burst Revstar is really good.With the Revstar out in front of an Orange OR50 and a 4×12, extra contrasts with the SG standard were edifying and also enlightening.Pulling up on the emphasis switch kicks sustain right into high gear.The Verdict At just a color under$ 800, the Yamaha Revstar is an excellent deal.
Squier 40th Anniversary Stratocaster Review
Premier Guitar doesn’t often review anniversary edition instruments—most of them being marketing exercises in disguise. But the Squier 40th Anniversary Stratocaster genuinely seems to embody much about where Squier has been and the reliable source for quality, affordable, and, yes, beautiful guitars they have become.
At $599, the 40th Anniversary Stratocaster lives on the higher side of the Squier pricing scheme. But there is much—in terms of both style and substance—that makes this Stratocaster feel special. The mash-up of 1950s design cues (gold anodized pickguard) and 1970s elements (block inlays) really works in spite of how easy it is to screw up a Stratocaster’s graceful lines. And the spots where Squier added flash, like those inlays and neck binding, reflect a genuine concern for craftsmanship and executing the little details.
In practical terms, the 40th Anniversary Strat specs out and feels quite like a Classic Vibe Stratocaster, which is a good thing. The body is nyatoh and the fretboard is laurel, but apart from the 9.5″ radius fretboard, which always feels a bit flat on a Strat for me, neither result in major deviations from classic Strat weight or touch. Output from the alnico 5 pickups felt a little more contoured, less edgy, and less punchy on the treble side than the pickups in the Vintera ’60s Stratocaster and ’80s E Series Stratocasters I used for comparison. But apart from missing that micro-trace of extra spank that cuts through an intense spring reverb signal, there was little to upset the surfy state of very stylish bliss this Squier induced each time I plugged it in.
Gretsch Electromatic G5420T Review
Though big hollowbodies like the Gretsch G6120 are beautiful and an essential ingredient in countless classic records, they can be a tricky playing experience for the uninitiated. Navigable fretboard space is limited by solidbody standards. Big bodies can feel bulky. They’re sometimes feedback prone in high-volume situations, too. Consequently, I’ve watched many solidbody-oriented chums who rarely play hollowbodies handle a big Gretsch with the baffled look of a spacefarer deciphering an alien tongue.
This latest affordable, mid-line evolution of Gretsch’s classic 6120, the re-designed Electromatic G5420T, smooths navigation of those intrinsic challenges. A new approach to trestle block bracing and FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups give the guitar a zingy, lively, and surprisingly feedback-resistant resonance. And the ultra-smooth playability makes it relatable for the average solidbody player. Together, the improvements make the G5420 a welcoming and intuitive-feeling vehicle for the less-orthodox modes of guitar expression that big Gretsch’s enable.
New Shoes in Blue
Trestle bracing, as a name and design concept, graced Gretschs beginning in the ’50s. That system utilized a bridge-like pair of laterally oriented braces. Trestle block bracing is different. It situates a slim, light center bock that is shaped like a bridge arch at a 90-degree angle between two straight, lateral braces. In one sense, the construction is akin to a center-block semihollow body. But the Gretsch trestle block has much less mass and a smaller footprint than the center block in, say, a Gibson 335, making the design a great compromise between rigidity, stability, and resonance. The effects, at least to my ears, are audible. And one thing every staffer that touched this guitar agreed upon was that this was the liveliest affordable Gretsch that any of us remembered playing.
The G5420T also feels like a dream underneath the fingers. The 12″ radius makes string bends extra easy. Hammer-ons, pull-offs, and, yes, fleet-fingered Chet Atkins picking feel effortless. And in general the playability is so nice you often forget that notes much past the 17th or 18th fret are a pretty uncomfortable reach. The control layout is a familiar take on Gretsch convention. The master volume control on the treble-side horn is always a blast to use for volume swells. And while the bridge volume is situated pretty far aft on the body, it’s easy enough to reach for fine tuning adjustments and corrections to the neck/bridge blend. The Bigsby, meanwhile, is both fluid, smooth, and, in relative terms, pretty tuning-stable if you’re not too aggressive.
You don’t achieve playability and intonation like that on our review model without sweating the details, and the 5420’s neck, nut, fretboard, and frets all feel very much of a piece.
Construction quality is typically very good in Gretsch’s more affordable Streamliner and Electromatic, and the G5420T does its part to hold up the family reputation. You don’t achieve playability and intonation like that on our review model without sweating the details, and the 5420’s neck, nut, fretboard, and frets all feel very much of a piece. Little details like the binding around the f-holes are also flawlessly executed. One of the only overt signs of the G5420T’s mid-priced status is the polyester-azure-blue finish, which, while dazzling, looks a bit ripply and thick in spots. Even so, in sunlight, it reveals traces of pearlescent turquoise and lake placid blue, depending on the angle from which you view it.
Balance and Brawn
As Gretsch tells it, the new Filter’Trons are designed for stronger bass output and more articulate high end. I don’t know if I would call the low-end exceptionally robust. But 6th string notes exhibit a concise, classy punchiness that resonates with just-right complexity and gracefully adds balance and ballast to chords. Some players expect low notes on a Gretsch hollowbody to explode with the heft of a grand piano. But the chiming low notes of a Fender Rhodes electric piano are a more apt analogy for the 5420’s present, overtone-rich-but-understated bottom-string output. This same knack for balance translates to awesome, articulate overdrive and fuzz tones (though, needless to say, it is important to mind the feedback when messing with the latter).
High-end output, meanwhile, is beautiful. First- and 2nd-string notes ring presently and in graceful balance with the rest of the strings, lending a kinetic but not-too-hot edge to leads and chords. And anyone with an affinity for vintage rockabilly or late-’60s West Coast psychedelia will love the way these high notes hop, quaver, and sing with a waggle of the Bigsby. For this author, anyway, it’s a visceral, addictive thrill—particularly with a big Fender amp and a heap of spring reverb and slapback echo.
Any player well versed and at ease with the idiosyncrasies of a Gretsch hollowbody will love the way the 5420 sounds and feels. And on the latter count, certainly, the 5420T is the equal of many much more pricey guitars. It’s very easy to imagine an upmarket or vintage Gretsch owner who sweats gigging with an expensive axe taking this guitar out instead and feeling right at home. The pickups are very well balanced, present, and detailed. And the Bigsby is smooth and invites all manner of twitchy or surfy vibrato moves. Most important is how these factors conspire to offer an uncommon playing experience with an upmarket feel. “Riff machine” may be a term that you could apply to many guitars, but the combination of the 5420T’s playabililty and open, detailed, and balanced pickups add up to a deep well of habit-smashing inspiration—all at a very nice price, to boot.
Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody Demo | First Look
Riversong Glennwood TS6 Review
The first and perhaps most important thing to know about Riversong’s Glennwood TS6 is that it aspires to hybridize elements of electric and acoustic guitars. This is not a new idea—certainly not in the amplified acoustic era, where the straightest route to eliminating feedback is by reducing the resonant elements that cause feedback in the first place. Some acoustic/electrics achieve these ends by slimming bodies down to electric-guitar thickness. Riversong, however, sticks to traditional acoustic formula by making the TS6 a full-sized instrument. Its dimensions are a little bit atypical: the 16″ wide body and 4 3/4″ thickness are about the same size as Martin’s “jumbo” J body and the Taylor Grand Pacific. The pretty silhouette also echoes the curvaceousness of those larger guitars. Those similarities sometimes feel like an exception, though. At nearly every other turn, the TS6 very happily breaks the acoustic design mold.
A Nuts-and-Bolts Approach
You don’t have to look very hard or be an acoustic guitar construction expert to see that there is a strong deconstructive thread in the Riversong’s design. The gap in the top behind the bridge, the slim heel, and, above all, the bracing and neck-through build are major breaks from classic acoustic design philosophy. These very overt differences are also a clue to how the Riversong stretches the definition of what an acoustic guitar is.
Most tradition-minded acoustic builders would consider the small space aft of the bridge detrimental to a resonant top. And few would opt for the bolt-on neck and through-body re-enforcement that runs the length of the body. These obvious deviations from acoustic design dogma are just the start. Peek through the side port and you’ll see “skeletized” bracing that looks like sections of a cantilever bridge in miniature. Adjustment to the action and neck tilt? They’re made with an Allen key that you place through an access cavity on the back of the guitar at the heel.
All these very unconventional elements are executed at a very high level of workmanship. I failed to find a construction miscue anywhere. The fretwork is pretty much perfect and the solid wild cherry back and sides, Sitka spruce top, maple neck, and walnut fretboard are all shaped and put together with obvious care.
Considering that the TS6’s primary mission is that of a hybrid electric/acoustic—and that so many of its fundamental design elements would traditionally be considered detriments to acoustic tone—the TS6 sounds pretty good unplugged. If I had to guess, I’d venture that the Jumbo-like dimensions were adopted, in part, to offset the diminished volume and overtones that could result from the neck-through design. Yet the TS6 is notably resonant, particularly in the low-midrange, and exhibits nice sustain. It may not be as loud or detailed as a dedicated acoustic of similar dimensions, but it holds its own, and the combination of projection from the side port and soundhole creates a nice composite sound image that would be well worth miking and doubling with the pickup signal in a studio or on a quiet stage.
The combination of projection from the side port and soundhole creates a nice composite sound image that would be well worth miking and doubling with the pickup signal in a studio.
The TS6’s amplified qualities and its electric-like playability are the main attraction, though. The Fishman Flex undersaddle pickup and preamp hold up pretty well to hard strumming without getting quacky, but the guitar and pickup work best together in dynamic fingerstyle settings. I tended to work from fairly tame tone settings on both the TS6 and the Fishman Loudbox I used for amplification, but the TS6 left ample headroom for adding sparkle to the basically well-rounded tonal foundation. Playability, as advertised, is excellent for a flattop. The 16″ fretboard radius and jumbo frets make it easy to fret with a light touch. The 1 5/8″ nut width and the neck profile (which to me felt at various times like a 1960s Guild or a Rickenbacker) also conspire to lend a very electric-feeling experience. The neck-thru system’s ability to facilitate and withstand pitch-bending neck wobbles also checks out just as Riversong claims. I can’t remember using an acoustic in this fashion so readily, dramatically, and with such negligible effect on tuning stability.
At around $2,000, the TS6 is a flattop for players committed to the unconventional or performers that can also afford to keep a classic flattop around for recording pure acoustic tones (if they are concerned with such expressions). It’s a niche instrument, but it does a brilliant job of blurring the lines between acoustic and electric.
Martin 000-18 Modern Deluxe Review
It would be easy for a company of Martin’s stature to coast every now and again. Maintaining brand mystique is exhausting in an age when hype rules the day. Keeping quality and substance intact—and maintaining commitment from the folks on the shop floor that deliver it—is even harder. But year in and year out, Martin continues to make instruments that simultaneously dwell in the realms of the practical, the musical, and the exquisite.
At nearly $3,600—a full $1K more than a standard 000-18—it’s a good thing the Martin 000-18 Modern Deluxe looks and feels as luxurious as it does. But while details like a pearl-inlay, 1930s-style script logo, EVO gold frets, and flawless lutherie and woodwork at every turn will make even the most cynical function-before-form grump pause, it’s the functional facets of the 000-18 Modern Deluxe that impress the most.
Building on Perfection
The 000 body (which shares dimensions, more or less, with the OM) is a cornerstone of the Martin line. Mating it to the “18” tonewood formula, which combines mahogany back and sides, adds up to a guitar that, to many ears, is the essence of balance and sweetness. So how does one refine something that’s so near perfect to begin with? Well, even in the case of an architectural masterpiece there’s always room for a little tasteful landscaping, and Martin has done a fair bit of that here. The 1930s-style logo is inlaid in pearl, while the body binding is East Indian rosewood—a very subtle but rich contrast to the mahogany and beautiful wheat-colored torrefied Sitka spruce top. The bookmatched, 2-piece top has a beautiful grain pattern with medullary rays that add a sense of almost watery depth and a classy, not-overbearing hint of flame out at the edges. I’d imagine our review guitar will be a joy to watch age. The gold, open-gear Waverly butterbean-style tuners may be the most overtly “deluxe” appointment on the guitar. But they are a stylistically cohesive element and feel super smooth and precise.
The additions to the 000-18 that put the “modern” in this very deluxe model include enhancements that appeal to tone scientists that work at the microscopic level: Liquidmetal bridge pins and a carbon composite bridgeplate—components said to improve sustain and volume. Such benefits can be very hard to qualify without a raft of test equipment at your side. But I did sense a more immediate, sometimes explosive, response, which also seemed to expand the guitar’s already considerably dynamic range. If you’ve ever checked out a 000-18 and been at all disappointed with its capacity for fast response, this version could alter your perception. Other non-traditional elements have more tangible effects, like the asymmetric neck, which puts a little extra mass on the bass side and shifts the apex of the neck in that direction as well. The effect is subtle, especially given that the neck is a bit slim. But with its ability to offer more support for the thumb when barre chording or fretting bass notes, I felt less fatigue—and I was testing this instrument at a time when my hands were feeling like a mess. However subtle the effect, I was grateful.
Song from a Siren
There’s another reason that the 000-18 Modern Deluxe feels easy on the hands: The guitar is incredibly even in touch responsiveness and output along the whole length of the fretboard. You’re never squeezing a bit extra here or there to get a note to ring true or free of buzz. Making the connection between thought, instinct, and execution of a note or chord feels like a more fluid and effortless sequence of actions. This quality can have a real upside as you formulate or play melodic sequences, as can the OM-style 1 3/4″ nut width (most 000 guitars have a slimmer 1 5/8″ spacing).
The dynamic response is also superb. Softly plucked notes have substance, body, and complexity. And even a gentle touch with flesh on string gives individual notes blooming, ringing resonance. Approach the 000-18 Modern Deluxe with a more forceful touch and it surprises with big-time headroom and fast reactivity—the kind you more readily associate with rosewood-backed 000s and OMs and bigger bodied D-series dreadnoughts.
Though I tried, I didn’t hear many, if any, weaknesses in the 000-18 Modern Deluxe’s tone makeup—which is what you should expect for (gulp) $3,599. I suppose you could make a case for a sort of new-guitar antiseptic edge in some harder-plucked notes—the kind a torrefied top should help avoid. But I heard nothing that sounded like it wouldn’t mellow over time. And the dynamism of the instrument makes it easy to work around any trace elements of harsh overtones, which are very, very few. Playing a flattop that you feel at one with—ergonomically, tonally, and responsively—is a treat. The 000-18 Modern Deluxe makes it extraordinarily easy to tap into that well of sweetness.
Fender Hammertone Reverb, Overdrive, Flanger, Chorus, and Delay Reviews
Fender’s most important gift to the effects cosmos is spring reverb. That legacy, however, tends to obscure other high points in the company’s effects history, which is dotted with a few classics—if not runaway commercial hits.
At appealing prices ranging from $79 to $99, the new Fender Hammertone pedals could easily be huge sellers. But what makes these effects extra attractive is that they don’t have the functional or operational feel of generic entry-level pedals. Most have a strong, even distinctive, personality—at least compared to other inexpensive effects. They each come with extra features and voices that stretch the boundaries of the foundational tones. And if the voices aren’t always the most refined or lush when compared to more expensive analog equivalents or expensive digital units, they are fun and prompt a lot of musical sparks.
With one eye on 1960s and ’70s stylings (Hammerite-style paint, chrome- and candy-colored knobs) and another on concessions to modernity like mini toggles, smart one-screw back-panel access, top-mounted jacks, and smooth, sturdy pots, the Hammertone pedals are nice design pieces. They also seem very well made for the price. I’m usually skeptical about an inexpensive pedal’s ability to hold up over the long haul, but the Hammertone series seem put together right.
Fender Hammertone Pedals Demo | First Look
Hammertone Reverb Review
The Hammertone entry in the reverb sweepstakes, strangely, comes with no spring emulation. It hardly matters, though. I was able to dial in convincing spring-like sounds using the pedal’s hall mode. It fared well in an A/B test with a splashy sounding black-panel Vibrolux Reverb. Like a lot of the Hammertone pedals, the Reverb gives you an extensive range to work within, so the hall setting, for instance, can shift from spring-ish sounds to a vacant, massive gymnasium. The room mode is great for fast and subtle reflections and a nice way to add a little body to overdriven tones without creating an overbearing wash. The plate mode is home to loads of treats, too, and, like many pedals in the Hammertone series, has a pleasing, almost-metallic range of overtones that suggest vintage reverbs.
At more radical, high-to-maximum time and level settings you start to hear a lot of cool, odd reflections and overtones.
Each of these voices sound pretty great at mellower or more traditional settings. At more radical, high-to-maximum time and level settings, you start to hear a lot of cool, odd reflections and overtones. At times though, you can also hear digital artifacts and some less-than-flattering high harmonic content in the decay. These qualities are more obvious when the damping control, which controls the length of the reverb tails, is set for a long trail. Exceptionally wet blends, too, can betray digital origins. But there is a bit of hidden treasure among these most extreme sounds: If you max the level and use the most open damping setting, you can almost use the Reverb as a freeze pedal. Additionally, some players may dig these sounds—particularly those that evoke shimmer reverbs without sounding entirely like a shimmer reverb. Even if you rarely explore these corners of the Reverb’s tone collection, the less extreme sounds are plentiful and full of personality, and you can dial in many in-between shades that blend big spaces and cool understated facets.
Like most pedals in the Hammertone line, the Chorus generates an impressive palette of sounds for the price. That includes a lot of tones you can safely file under “weird.” It takes a little practice to walk the fine line between radio-friendly chorus tones and odder fare. The Chorus starts to get pretty woozy sounding past 3 on the depth knob. Initially, that can feel constraining. But it’s also a source of surprises once you master the ways in which the Chorus’s controls interact.
The Chorus’s sounds are rooted in the three basic modes. The single-voice mode is focused and airy—leaving ample room for picking dynamics and clear transients, even at high depth settings. The two-voice setting is thicker and sounds more flanger-like at many positions. The two-voice structure produces more unusual phase-cancelling patterns that can give the output a honky midrange focus that cuts as it drifts through waveforms.
The two-voice mode produces very liquid ’80s vintage chorus, including Kurt Cobain/Small Clone-style submarine modulations.
It’s less naturalistic and peakier than the single-voice mode, but it also produces very liquid ’80s vintage chorus, including Kurt Cobain/Small Clone-style submarine modulations when the depth gets to about 4. The 4-voice mode combines four lines with base delay times of 14, 23, 29, and 35 milliseconds. This creates a complex voice that adds subtle motion to prevailingly dry effects mixes or can make wet settings sound like a demented high horn in a rotary speaker.
First impressions of the Chorus’s controls are that they can be twitchy. And the boundary between pleasantly aqueous modulations and downright seasick ones at certain depth settings can be hard to navigate until you get a feel for how the depth and level controls work together. Ultimately, though, the Chorus provides intuitive routes to many modulation ends.
One initial impression of this Fender Delay is that it’s a lot more fun than most inexpensive digital delays. All three of the Delay’s voices have a very present EQ profile with just a hint of almost mechanical, spring-like overtones that feel appropriate for a Fender pedal. The effort Fender put into sourcing smoother, sturdier-feeling potentiometers pays fun dividends here, too. The feedback control, for instance, is really responsive and easy to ride right at the verge of oscillation.
The analog 1 voice generates soft tapering echoes that blend into the background as they decay—a treasured facet of genuine bucket brigade delays. It can be genuinely subtle, even at advanced feedback, level, and time settings. And at equivalent feedback levels, analog 1 will yield many fewer perceptible repeats than the middle-position digital voice. Analog 1’s washy, less distinct repeats shine at certain extremes as well. Long feedback settings, delay-heavy mixes, and super-short delay times yield a weird blend of metallic spring reverb and Abbey Road automatic double-tracking tones. The more subtle repeats also mean you can crank the feedback without making a total mess.
Clear repeats also expand the potential for punchier beat-centric and repetitive patterns and riffs.
Things are different over on the digital voice. In this domain, repeats ring with clarity, and the ghosts of bum notes will haunt you if you’re not careful. But the clear repeats also expand the potential for punchier beat-centric and repetitive patterns and riffs. Analog 2 is my favorite voice. Its mid-forward repeats excite a more prominent, shimmering set of harmonics. It’s a great environment for enjoying the mix of those extra overtones and a dose of extra motion from the pedal’s modulation section.
The modulation can be dialed up to amazingly queasy levels of intensity at high depth and repeat settings. In general, though, I like the modulation depth at more modest levels. And the Delay sounds nice enough to require little in the way of modulation dressing. That said, I strongly suggest this mode with the Hammertone Chorus. It’s a yummy combo.
There are more immaculate digital delays and more authentic digital takes on bucket brigade echo. But to me, the Delay’s quirks are big plusses. That they so interestingly color the pedal’s broad range of personalities make it a true bargain.
The Hammertone Flanger is a reliably flexible pedal. It generates great chorus tones (some of which I preferred to roughly equivalent sounds from the Hammertone Chorus), and slow whoosing sweeps can be the antidote to the sick-of-my-phaser blues. But great core flanger tones abound, too, including mind-warp, hit-of-nitrous jet flange, and gentler, less tone-mangling sounds that pulse with a nice, almost tremolo-like modulation.
Coaxing the tones you want from the Flanger won’t necessarily be automatic. The basic voice is, like many of the Hammertone pedals, colored by a high-mid focus that’s evocative of hard-surface reverb reflections. On the Flanger, that voice can read as harsh in places. But the Flanger’s easily mastered controls make it simple to find softer landings. The two mini toggles are key if you generate a sound that’s a bit too intense. The type switch, which here controls feedback polarity, can recast a super-peaky setting with a flick.
The basic voice is colored by a high-mid focus that’s evocative of hard-surface reverb reflections.
The resonance switch is an even more valuable escape hatch—or portal to weirdness. It takes the place of a resonance or feedback knob that you’d see on many flangers. Generally, replacing a knob with a switch that moves between presets means diminished flexibility. But the Flanger’s voices each inhabit a sweet spot that you can modify with the depth and manual controls, the latter of which governs the delay time between the split signals that make up the flanger tone. If there is a downside to abundance of control, it’s that it can be a minor chore to dial in precisely the sound you’re looking for. As with the Chorus, the depth control can move from just-right to wild with a minor accidental nudge. Thankfully, there aren’t many bad sounds to make such an accident too jarring.
If you line up the Hammertone Overdrive alongside other popular overdrives (in my case, a TS9, an inexpensive klone, and a Boss SD-1), you hear a pedal much more aligned with the TS/SD-1 camp—tight, mid-forward, and punchy. But it is still a very different pedal in terms of feel and range.
The Overdrive is most easily distinguished and differentiated by its hotter gain profile. The distortion sounds you hear at gain settings of 1 to 3 on the Overdrive are roughly equivalent to the distortion you get north of noon on the TS, Boss, and klone. There’s also the sense of a touch more compression at equivalent settings. That recipe makes the Overdrive a sort of inhabitant of the borderlands between overdrive and distortion.
At its lowest gain setting the Overdrive still growls and feels ready to pounce.
If you’re not inclined to use your guitar volume control much, the Overdrive doesn’t have a ton of cleanish tones to offer. At its lowest gain setting it still growls and feels ready to pounce. And even significant guitar volume attenuation still leaves discernible grit. That may sound constraining at first, but if you use maximum output and tone, minimum gain, and a dynamic touch with your fingers and guitar volume, you can span a huge range of sounds from explosive to mellow and hazy. The Overdrive’s capacity for dynamism may not always be obvious, but it’s there if you open the pedal up and let your fingers do the expressive work.
Though the Overdrive feels pretty-mid forward to me, there is a pre-mid boost. There’s a lot of utility in this control. It can help the Overdrive span more of the distance between a TS and Klon, and it can make the transition between humbuckers and single-coils easier to manage. In general, though, I found that the Overdrive sounded airiest and best able to breathe with the tone wide open and the mids scooped. Unleash the gain in this kind of setup and the Overdrive sounds pretty beastly.
Walrus Audio Eras Review
The Eras from Walrus Audio is a take-no-prisoners chug machine that offers a few features that would even please the low-gain set. The core of the Eras is a 5-stage mode knob that offers a handful of different clipping options. They range from scooped and tight to compressed and smooth via combinations of LED and silicon clipping. In position 1, you have LED hard clipping, which creates a more focused low end that works great for Papa Hetfield-style rhythm playing. Position 2 uses silicon, and it becomes a bit more scooped (think early Pantera) and seems to be more compressed.
Ease of Use: 4
Walrus Audio Eras, walrusaudio.com
With the remaining three positions, you get a combo LED/silicon setting and slightly different EQs on standalone LED and silicon clipping. I was quite impressed with how the Eras handled single-coil and P-90 pickups, as both came across as possessed by the soul of a cranked-up humbucker. Along with bass, treble, volume, and gain controls, it also has a very handy blend knob that moves from a completely dry signal to totally effected. Dialing in a bit of your dry signal allows you to really sculpt the clarity in some of the more saturated settings. It was also big fun to add just a bit of high-gain fizz in the background of a mostly clean tone—almost like a distorted shimmer effect.
Walrus has a pretty-well-documented history of creating forward-thinking stomps that are more than just what you see on the surface. The Eras will catch the eye of the djent-and-chug crowd pretty easily, but I found just as much beauty in the lower (relatively speaking) gain settings. Overall, this is a pedal that delivers to more than just the target demo.
Test Gear: Fender Cory Wong Stratocaster, Schroeder Chopper TL, Fender Jaguar, Revv D20
Solar GC1.6AFAB Review
Ola Englund, YouTube sensation and guitarist for the Haunted and Feared, started Solar Guitars, his own line of high-quality instruments, in 2017. The company is based in Sant Gregori, Spain, and their guitars are made in Indonesia. But as the marvelously decked-out GC1.6AFAB reviewed here reveals, this collaborative formula is yielding killer results at relatively affordable prices.
Down to the Details
At a glance, the GC1.6AFAB evokes great all-around instruments like the PRS SE or even the Tom Anderson Atom. It looks sharp, and even a bit traditional, with its flame maple top on a mahogany body and gold hardware down to the pickups, bridge, and tuners. Only the pointy reverse headstock, lack of inlays (other than the Solar logo around the 12th fret), and glow-in-the-dark side dots betray a possible metal-oriented lineage.
The guitar is meticulously crafted and there are no visible construction flaws. The low-action factory setup is perfect. The GC1.6AFAB’s design is very ergonomic, too. A belly cut adds a nice contour to the backside of the guitar, and the neck-through-body construction with sculpted neck joint allowed easy access all the way up to the 24th fret.
With jumbo stainless steel frets on a graphite-reinforced neck, a dual action truss rod, a 13.78″ radius fretboard, graphite nut, and locking tuners, the GC1.6AFAB is thoroughly modern. The EverTune bridge is another contemporary distinction. It uses a system of floating saddles and springs to keep each string in tune no matter how aggressively you play. It can also be configured in a multitude of ways. On our test guitar, the EverTune was set up to permit bends on the top three strings, while the lower strings were set to resist pitch bends entirely. It was a weird experience to bend away at those strings, or add vibrato, only to hear pitch that never wavered. And I was certainly thrown off when I instinctively tried to make low-string notes growl by adding a little bend. Set up this way, the EverTune will take some getting used to. However, it’s a killer feature if you pick hard or inadvertently pull some of the notes sharp while chording. If you’re recording and need to nail a pitch-perfect take, it can be invaluable. And you can always reconfigure the bridge for a more conventional but still exceptionally stable setup.
It Chugs, It Slugs, It Sings
The GC1.6AFAB’s pickups, a pair of excellent Fishman Fluence Modern active units, also display Solar’s forward-thinking approach. They have independent volume controls with a shared tone knob that has a push/pull function for the Fishman Fluence’s voices: “active” (voice 1) and “passive” (voice 2). (Here, the phrases active and passive refer to voicings rather than the strict definition of active and passive pickups.)
With the bridge pickup and active voice engaged, pick response is crisp and fast on the low strings. With help from with the EverTune’s unwavering tuning stability, individual notes and picking nuances are super articulate. Digging in harder rarely revealed any flubby ambiguities. And fast alternate-picked sequences felt super precise. Be forewarned though: If you’re having a sloppy day, the Fluence pickups’ immediacy can be unforgiving.
In clean settings, the GC1.6AFAB’s bridge pickup sounds very hi-fi, and very loud in both voices. Multi-finger tapping phrases are punchy and pop out loud and consistent along the fretboard. Cascading arpeggio runs have a harp-like clarity and individual notes sound consistent and even across the guitar’s whole range. And while the pickup isn’t overly bright, there is a ton of presence. Until the tone knob is all the way down to about 2, you hear little in the way of “darkness.” The neck pickup in the active voice has more bass focus than the bridge. When I held an open-G chord, the 6th-string resonated with a bottom end that you could call boomy. Comparatively, with the passive voice, the neck pickup seemed a bit more balanced.
If I imagined a shredder creating a custom guitar, it might look and feel a lot like GC1.6AFAB. There’s a lot about the style that feels relatively traditional, save for the many cutting-edge components that Solar included here. At $295, putting an EverTune bridge on an existing guitar (a process that would involve routing and probably devaluing your instrument) is an expensive proposition. Add a set of gold Fishman Fluence Modern pickups at around $260 and you’re looking at well north of a $500 investment even before you pay to have your upgrades installed on an existing instrument. Given how seamlessly Solar brings these elements together in such an impeccable-playing guitar, the $1,349 you’ll pay for a GC1.6AFAB is a pretty amazing deal.
Solar Guitars GC1.6AFAB Demo | First Look
Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive Review
Overdrive pedals don’t often set my world alight—even great ones. But I’ve spent a month with the England-built Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive, and it remains attached to the other end of my coil-y cable. Ostensibly, the Small Speaker is meant to be a variation on the tweed-Fender-Champ-in-a-box theme. However, both the pedal’s name and the Champ associations fail to do justice to how large and alive it sounds and feels tethered to a bigger amp.
For one thing, the Small Speaker has more headroom and low-end ballast than a hot, wide-open tweed Champ. You can certainly summon the focus and midrange-y punch that makes that amp a star in front of a microphone. But thanks to the Small Speaker’s excellent EQ, you can also conjure a substantial measure of tuneful low end that is a perfect counterweight to its open, aerated highs and mids, and makes this little pedal a wrecking ball.
The Small Speaker is also super dynamic. If you set the pedal up for a crunchy, high-gain setting, it gets much cleaner at attenuated guitar volumes—not sort of clean and thin, or slightly crunchy, but full-bodied and sparklingly clean. This characteristic, among many others, makes it a dream pairing for a black-panel Fender. I’ve had the black-panel Tremolux used for this review for decades. It’s flat-out my favorite amp. But in all that time, I don’t ever remember it sounding quite as sweetly crunchy as it does when hooked up to the Small Speaker Overdrive. What an impressive little pedal.Online Guitar Lessons © 2021 Frontier Theme