Pre-1990 Ibanez SDGR SR300/SR400 Bass

Scored this Ibanez SDGR bass a couple months ago.  The serial number dates it before 1990 but it’s  not been easy identifying the model.  Pickups, controls and output jack all suggest it’s a pre-1990 SR300 or SR400 but the flamed maple top and gold hardware toss this theory out the window.  I’ve seen a SR400 with a quilted maple top but it didn’t have gold hardware.  Either way, this is a great bass that plays and sounds better than all mid-range Ibanez basses I’ve tried.

Specs: Basswood body, 3ply maple neck, active pickups, adjustable bridge.  The neck is really slim, nice countoured light weight body with a sweet flamed maple top, matching headstock and AANJ (all access neck joint).


Ibanez SDGR SR400 bass guitarIbanez SDGR SR400 bass guitar
Ibanez SDGR SR400 bass guitarIbanez SDGR SR400 bass guitar

Vintage Pedal Day: Maxon VOP9 Overdrive and CP101 Compressor

What we have here are high-end reissues of two classic Maxon pedals – the VOP9 Vintage Overdrive Pro and CP101 Optical Compressor. Maxon VOP9 and CP101

The VOP-9 is basically an OD-820 in a nine-series chassis with the same JEC NJM4558D op-amp and negative feedback loop clipping diode.  I am not a fan of tubescreamer pedals (stock, modded or clones) and the VOP-9 is nothing like a tubescreamer, which is what got me excited when I heard Dave Weiner review it here.  In fact, I was sold on the pedal based on a few of Dave’s Riff Of The Week videos.  Since no retailer in England stocks the VOP9, I could not try it before I plonked the money down for one, so a big thanks to Dave for doing a brilliant job of demoing the VOP9.  I’m completely blown away at the warmth, headroom and clarity of the VOP9.  I’ve owned an Xotic BB and Fulltone OCD before and while they were high quality boutique pedals with amp-like characteristics, they didn’t really bowl me over or inspire.

The CP101 is an optical compressor unlike any compressor I’ve owned or tried, with it’s optical circuit for low-noise operation.  When turned on, you notice this really smooth and transparent compression.  Without the hiss of normal compressors it’s hard to tell, just by listening, whether it’s turned on or not but it does an excellent job of keeping those levels in check.  It was either the CP101 or the Barber TonePress but as I was looking for a compressor with a subtle effect on tone, the CP101 made sense.

Detailed reviews with audio samples to follow, meanwhile you can check out Dave Weiner’s review of these pedals here.

Continue reading

Old Guitar Day & Review: 1987 Ibanez RG550 RF

Pics from previous owner:

Ibanez RG550 RFR rg550rfr

Pics after restoration & setup:

Ibanez RG550RF Ibanez RG550RF Ibanez RG550RF

1-piece original Wizard neck (quartersawn maple), square heel joint
17mm 1st fret – 19mm 12th fret
430mm radius rosewood fretboard
43mm nut width
Jumbo frets
Light-weight basswood body
Edge tremolo with die-cast saddles

It’s unbelievable how well this 22+ year old guitar was maintained before I bought it off a Jemsite member in September 2008.  The price wasn’t wallet-friendly but when you come across an original RG550 in good condition, you don’t negotiate! :)  No cracks in the neck pocket or behind the nut which is pretty common with old RG’s.  The only signs of age are a few paint cracks. Continue reading

New Pedal Day: Eventide TimeFactor Delay

After owning a bunch of delay pedals – Boss DD-5, DD-20 Giga Delay, DigiDelay, MXR Carbon Copy and Vox Time Machine – and trying many others, I may have found the perfect delay solution for my needs.  From the list above my favorite was the Time Machine because it was so easy to use and the vintage mode sounded warm, but the lack of trails was a real bummer.  I liked the DD-20 for it’s functionality – easy of use, presets, tap tempo out – but I found only 2 modes usable, dual-delay did not sound good and the warped/twist modes were pretty useless.  The modes that I liked in the DD-20 were achievable with my DD-5 at the time so I sold the DD-20 when pedalboard space became an issue.  The other delay pedals I kept for short periods of time because they either had issues or did not work well for me.

Enough of the past: Enter the Eventide TimeFactor.  I’ve only had it a few days so this is not a review, just a list of reasons why I like and bought this unit: eventide,timefactor

– Two independent 3-second delays in one stompbox
– Studio quality effects (Digital, Vintage, Tape, Modulated, Band & MultiTap delays sound authentic)
– Flexibility: Mono/stereo operation, instrument or line-level inputs/outputs, expression pedal out, aux out for single or 3-button footswitches and full MIDI support
– True or buffered bypass selectable based on your setup
– 100 presets (2 per bank) onboard: I don’t need more than 10 but it’s nice to have
– Global Tap Tempo (optional) so it’s easy to call up presets and retain the same tempo, or dial in a new tempo
– Delay trails when changing presets or going into bypass
– I don’t use much modulation, reverb or filters in my music but if I need some, the TimeFactor can pull it off
– Regular software updates from Eventide with bug fixes and improvements
– Eventide support forum/staff are very helpful

This pretty much sums up why I chose the TimeFactor over the Empress Superdelay which costs the same, £299.  A more detailed review with samples coming up in a few weeks or months :)

New Guitar Day: Ibanez J Custom RG8470F FE

I’ve been a good boy this year so Santa got me this rare Ibanez J Custom, a couple weeks early too ;)

RG8470F pics:
Ibanez JCRG J Custom RG8470F Ibanez JCRG J Custom RG8470F Ibanez JCRG J Custom RG8470F Ibanez JCRG J Custom RG8470F

RG8470F specs:
Mahogany body with AAA flamed maple top and natural binding
5 piece maple/walnut neck with matching headstock and flamed maple binding
430mm radius rosewood fretboard with abalone and mirror J Custom vine inlay
Jumbo frets finished to the highest standard
Cosmo black hardware and Edge Pro bridge with locking studs
Recessed volume & tone controls
Direct mount pickups: Dimarzio Air Norton neck, DiMarzio Blue Velvet mid, DiMarzio D-Sonic bridge
FE – Fire Agate finish

It’s hardly been a week since I scored this beauty and I can’t wait to swap out the D-Sonic for a Tone Zone, string some 10’s on and wail away!  This is the first guitar I’ve owned that is “perfect” straight out of the case, thanks to the flawless fretwork, awesome setup and brilliant craftmanship.  I’ve played many high end guitars before and never felt the urge to buy one because there was nothing special that made them play better than my modded Jackson/Ibanez super strats.  This JCRG is easily on par with my ’87 RG550 in terms of playability, even though the necks and neck joints are different.

The previous owner kept this guitar in excellent condition (thanks Andras), there were only 2 small nicks in the body that is visible at a specific angle.

A detailed review will follow in a month or less so Merry Christmas and I hope 2010 holds another J Custom for me…

New Pedal Day & Review: Korg Pitchblack+ Tuner

I spent the last few weeks reassessing what’s on my pedal board and made some decisions that led me to replace stompboxes I’ve had for the most part of this year. The first was my tuner – I was quite alright using a Planet Waves CT-04 for over a year but it’s tuning accuracy isn’t great and there were times when it would be about 2 cents off forcing me to fine-tune by ear. I chose the CT-04 over a Boss TU-2 because Planet Waves claimed it was true bypass, which I found to be inaccurate on opening the pedal. To kill my curiosity however, I got a TU-2 last month to compare with the CT-04 since they share the same accuracy. In a few minutes it was clear that the TU-2 was more accurate, although I preferred the LED meter on the CT-04, and the buffered bypass of the TU-2 sounded better at higher volume.

Now I’m planning to start repairing and setting up guitars part-time and know that I will need a very accurate tuner for intonating guitars, so I ended up selling the CT-04 and TU-2 and turned my attention to the Peterson StroboStomp 2 which is regarded as one of the best tuners – fast, accurate and easy to use. I could not justify the £150 price tag, however, so I looked for alternatives and remember reading good reviews about the Korg Pitchblack series and DT-10 last year, which are reasonably priced. Their accuracy is pretty good (+/-1 cent) but the Pitchblack+ was more tempting for it’s accuracy that was on par with the StroboStomp and it’s price that was a small step up from the Pitchblack and DT-10.

Korg Pitchblack+ Tuner
Korg Pitchblack+ TunerIf you’ve always want a high precision tuner like the Peterson Strobostomp without spending that kind of money, I would recommend getting your hands on a Pitchblack+ for £95. The price is lower in the U.S. (as is the case always) but it would cost the same after shipping and duty had I imported one.

Right out of the box I was impressed by how Korg thoughtfully included a 4-way daisy chain to power other pedals with the Pitchblack+. A 9V DC output is common on pedal tuners but none of the manufacturers bundle a daisy chain so buyers can use this feature right out of the box. Continue reading

DiMarzio Tone Zone and Blue Velvet

Both pickups arrived yesterday so I took them for a spin and the Tone Zone sounded so much better than all the demos I’ve heard of it. While it doesn’t look as cool as the other DiMarzios I own it certainly lives up to it’s name. The Tone Zone nails everything from classic rock to 80’s metal without compromise, which is all I need.

The Evo2 wasn’t bad but whenever I’d switch to/from the Evo neck, it would sound like I was playing a completely different guitar. Put the Evo2 up for sale since I won’t be needing it anymore.

DiMarzio’s Blue Velvet didn’t impress me all that much, maybe because I was hoping for something besides strat tones which I get from the stock IBZ single coil. Nothing more to say here other than I should not have bought this pickup :P

I’ve decided to move forward with my original plan of losing the mid single coil and retaining dual humbuckers, a pickup configuration I’m very comfortable with. I am planning to take it one step further, however, and install a super-switch so I can experiment with some exotic coil-tapping.

Jackson DK2M vs. Ibanez RG1570 vs. Ibanez RG2550E (Part III)

Ibanez RG2550E Galaxy Black:
Ibanez RG2550E Galaxy BlackSince I have already talked a bit about the RG2550E-GK here, I’m going to make this a quick subjective review about why this guitar was worth every £ I spent on it.

What I liked (besides the great build quality):
– Perfect fretwork: Supposedly same frets as the RG1570 but for some reason this guitar had better fretwork
– Acoustically sounded better than the RG1570 which has the same basswood body
– Pickguard mounted pickups: I was concerned how this would affect tone, but it has worked out better than the rear-routed pickups of the RG1570. In fact, the DiMarzio Evo pair will not fit an RG1570 without modding the body because of the increased pickup height
– Stock DiMarzio/ibz pickups sounded good, not as hot as I’d like them, but they’re way better than the V7-S1-V8 pickups on the RG1570
– Cosmetic: Ghost sharkin inlays, Cosmo hardware, Bound rosewood fingerboard Continue reading

Jackson DK2M vs. Ibanez RG1570 vs. Ibanez RG2550E (Part II)

Ibanez RG1570 Mirage Blue:
Ibanez RG1570 Mirage BlueMirage Blue is truly an eye-catching finish and just like other Prestige guitars it is well built but slightly over-priced in the UK :) The Prestige 5-piece Wizard maple/walnut neck was a welcome change from Jackson and Fender necks. The RG1570 is clearly built for shredding but too bad the biggest letdown with this guitar was the terrible fret buzz of the wound strings in the lower frets (including open string buzz). The action was set quite low by the store, which accounted for some of the buzz, so I added some neck relief to reduce the fretted buzz and shimmed the nut to resolve open string buzz. Continue reading

Jackson DK2M vs. Ibanez RG1570 vs. Ibanez RG2550E (Part I)

Jackson DK2M Snow White
Ibanez RG1570 Mirage Blue Ibanez RG2550E Galaxy Black
Among all the guitars I received in the last two months, these were my top three. The one thing they had in common was the exceptional build quality and a very good finish. It was tough choosing one but I eventually had to so I could get on with my recording projects.

At first I was really tempted to buy a used JS1000 or EBMM JP6, not because they’re my favorite guitarists’ signature models but because both guitars are well crafted, play like a dream and are bloody brilliant in general. However, I didn’t think it was a good idea because I knew I’d be experimenting a lot to get the sound I want out of it. Continue reading