Breaking the silence

I’ve been busy the last two months looking for work while doing a mini project hence the silence.  However, I’m back for a while and will continue working on the site to make it as informative as it used to be.  Will add some lessons, exercises, reviews and guides to help with technique and get you comfortable with the guitar, whether it is setting up or customizing it.

I have also learned that many visitors are following links to the old tech section which are now dead, so I’ll get the old guitar tech section up and running soon.

Pickup upgrade for my Jackson JS30

Last week I decided to play around with the JS30 by throwing in the stock DiMarzio humbuckers from my RG2550E. I wasn’t very excited about how these pickups sounded in the RG so I didn’t expect much. It would obviously sound different in the JS30’s alder body (as opposed to the RG’s basswood) but what I did not expect is how these pickups really brought the guitar to life.

It’s given the JS30 a much warmer tone, dynamic at the same time and really picks up those pinched harmonics. Overall, it has a punchier tone than the active humbuckers I had in there, which were good but a tad too bright at times especially when played through a digital multi-effects unit. Oh, and while I was at it, I shielded the electronics cavity and split the coils in the mid position for a sweet strat tone ;)

With this, I think I’m really done with my pickup experiments for a few months. The focus for the next month or so will be effects and effects pedals I’ve bought and tested recently.

Ibanez RG2550E fully customized and set up

Last weekend all major changes to the RG2550 were complete but it took some tweaking during the week to perfect the setup for my style of playing. Overall, I’d say it’s as good, if not better than many £1500 guitars out there.

The modifications:
1. Pickups: Installed a Breed bridge but it wasn’t as hot as I expected it to be, so I switched back to the Tone Zone. My ears are quite happy with the Evo neck + Tone Zone combo so I doubt I’ll be making further changes.

2. Custom H-H Pickguard: Shielding a pickguard isn’t fun but I’m glad it’s a one-time affair. The smoked gray mirror looks really good against the galaxy black finish, better than the stock bronze pickguard.

3. OTAX VLX91 super-switch: Wiring the OTAX wasn’t as easy as I’d expected and took over an hour – one reason I don’t want to change my pickups again lol. The new coil-tapped switching positions are really sweet though especially for clean guitar.

4. The Edge Pro locking stud mod is awesome and a must-have, providing 100% tuning stability no matter how much I use the whammy bar. Makes you wonder why the hell Ibanez stopped using locking studs in their Edge trem systems.

Before upgrades:

Nut shim – pickguard w/shielding, locking studs, OTAX switch – studs installed:

Customization and setup complete:

Customizing my Ibanez Prestige RG2550

A list of mods planned for my Ibanez RG2550E, parts have arrived but I need a day to complete the work so looking forward to the weekend.

1. Pickups: Been testing a bunch of DiMarzio pickups since the guitar arrived and I’m convinced about the Evolution neck and disconnecting the single coil, but undecided on the Evo 2 and Tone Zone for the bridge position.  I’m hearing good things about DiMarzio Breeds so may have to give that a shot too when I get a chance.

2. New pickguard from Jeannie Pickguards, USA – primarily to lose the single coil in the middle, but it also happens to suit the galaxy black finish better than the stock pickguard.

3. OTAX VLX91 super-switch for new pickup switching config:
         – Position 1: Bridge Humbucker
         – Position 2: Bridge + Neck inner coils
         – Position 3: Bridge + Neck Humbuckers in parallel
         – Position 4: Neck Humbucker, parallel
         – Position 5: Neck Humbucker

4. Nut shim – made a 1mm shim from a beer can lol to eliminate minor open string buzz.

5. Locking studs for Edge Pro trem, thanks Rich.

6. Treat the dry-looking rosewood fingerboard with some lemon oil.

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

Upgrade time… DiMarzio Evolution and Evo 2

DiMarzio Evolution & Evo 2 I bought these DiMarzios a while ago waiting to install them in the right guitar, and when I started to like the RG2550E I had to pop the Evo/Evo2 in right away.

The Evolution neck has been nothing short of impressive with it’s aggressive yet smooth/balanced tone, and maintains great presence even at high volumes. It also produces cool harmonics, which is unusual for a neck pickup. I doubt I’ll ever change this pickup but I’d love to try an Air Norton someday.

The Evo2 bridge does have serious scream and it’s great for instrumental rock, but sounds a bit too thin compared to the high output Evo neck. I have a Tone Zone coming in next week, so I’ll see how well that pairs with the Evolution.

I was surprised that the stock IBZ mid pickup produced nice strat-like tone, but it will be replaced with a Blue Velvet as soon as that arrives from the US. Not sure whether I’ll retain the H-S-H configuration though, since I like to keep it simple with dual humbuckers coil-tapped with a 3-way switch.

Under the hood:
Stock pickups before surgery Wiring after pickguard removal Evo & Evo2 installed

Ibanez RG2550E – an end to guitar woes

I spent the last couple of months looking for my next guitar, primarily for rock but capable of handling some blues and metal too. After going through a string of Jacksons and Ibanez guitars, an RG2550E-GK arrived 2 days ago. It wasn’t perfect (hey, no guitar is!), and the factory setup was a bit sloppy, but I started to like her within a few minutes of playing.

Continue reading