Thursday, July 18, 2013

DOD FX55-B Supra Distortion


Below is a video demo I made to show some tones that you can get with an old DOD Supra Distortion. The pedal is Made in USA and it can create some very interesting fuzzy distortion tones. Demo was recorded with a Crafter Electric Guitar (Humbucker pickup) into the Fender Mustang (Twin Reverb Digital Emulate).



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MXR Micro Chorus


Once upon a time I decided to buy a chorus pedal, I cannot remember why because I am definitely not thrilled by chorus. I think I wanted to try it with distortion for some kind of effected leads.

So I saw the MXR Micro Chorus, an all analog chorus that happens to sound amazing and has only one knob to dial rate. That is what I liked the most beside how it sounds, the simplicity, and as all MXR pedals, feel and look is professional. Another thing to note is that it blends nicely for clean and over driven sounds, also, it does not add a volume boost when engaged (like a Phase 90 does) and that is a good thing (for me).

So if you are looking for a Chorus pedal that is more on the cheap side of things, a pedal that will support professional use, will sound good and keep things simple, I think this is it.


Electro Harmonix Muff Overdrive

I got the chance of trying out the EHX Muff overdrive, so here's my review:

The Muff Overdrive can be powered by a 9V Battery or a BOSS PSA type adapter. Feels robust as all modern EHX Pedals enclosures. The Muff has only one knob: Volume. After turning it on, I set up the volume to match my clean signal. Since there is no gain knob, I find out that the guitar volume knob does a good job when turned down, that also turns down the gain, but not the overall volume. With the guitar volume down, the muff acts killing sustain fast with a characteristic fuzz with a dying battery, sounds cool, but certainly is not a versatile characteristic since it will not deliver as expected for a low overdrive effect.

Turning up the guitar volume to 10, it sounds pretty like a mix of overdrive and little bit of fuzz. The drawback is a lack of low end. The pedal is in the treble side and does not deliver the punch you get with a big muff.

So, I think it does sound good, but not to every song that need an overdrive effect, it may fit nice to one and other song only. It is cheap, but if you are not EHX fanatical and need a good overdrive with bottom end, you will be better off choosing another pedal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fender Blacktop Telecaster HH - Specs and modding guide information

Here I will post some gathered information about the Fender Blacktop Telecaster (HH). As many want to modify this guitar for better pickups and bridge, as well the other hardware parts I hope I can help and we can share our mod knowledge for all the parts in this post. Here's some great information from Fender on how to set up the Telecaster.



First, let's have a look at the Blacktop Tele HH specifications from factory:

Headstock:
*Tuners are American Standard (Standard Cast/Sealed).
*String Tree is a vintage Stratocaster type.



Neck:
*Tele maple neck with gloss urethane finish. Maple or rosewood fretboard. Has 9.5" radius (241 mm), scale length is 25.5" (648mm) and 22 medium jumbo frets. Width and Nut are 1.650" (42mm).

Body:
*Tele alder body with routing for two humbuckers (neck and bridge), control plate cavity is routed for an inverse Tele control plate. It also has a "belly contour" on the back like the one you find on every Stratocaster.



Hardware:
*Pickguard is a three ply Black-White-Black with modern screw hole position. At the bridge it is slightly wider opened then the traditional Tele pick guard, that's for the bridge humbucker mounting ring to fit.


*Pickups are two humbuckers, Fender says: "Hot Vintage Alnico Humbucking Pickup with Nickel Cover", both are reported to measure 13k and it is made in China (I guess) by BHK.



*Bridge Strings-Through-Body Hardtail with six Cast Saddles.
*Control Plate is reversed with Black Amp knobs, three position switch, two 500K JS pot controls and a ceramic IC 503Z capacitor (.05 uF).
 Strings
*Comes with Super 250L’s, NPS (.009 – .042 Gauges).





MODDING 

String Tree - My first mod is a very unusual I think, the string tree. I noticed that the original string tree started to get rusty. So I bought the Graph Tech string tree made of "man-made ivory" TUSQ XL. Since the vintage style string tree from factory is very low, I had to sand the GraphTech string tree until I got the desired height. It may not look as good as the original in chrome, but it certainly does not ruin the look. What do you think?



Pickups - I just ordered today (01/nov/2012) a neck pickup from Guitar Fetish, the GFS Surf 90. The stock Blacktop Telecaster Humbucker doesn't sound bad, but also doesn't sound like what I want. So, I decided to buy this single coil for the neck p.u. I hope I will get a nice single coil bright tone with it. As soon as I receive and upgrade (I hope this will be an upgrade), I will post here sounds of the neck pickup humbucker and the Surf 90 for comparison.
The GFS Surf 90 is supposed to sound like a DeArmond Single Coil inside the Humbucker sized enclosure. As for the specifications, it has Alnico II magnets, 7.2K (neck p.u.). I asked GuitarFetish support and got a reply very fast about which pot should be used to make the Surf 90 sounds good, John from GFS said to use 500k pots.

OK I got my GFS Surf 90 up and running yesterday, it does sound better than the stock humbucker, cleans are super bright. Soon I'll post some sounds. But let me show you first some trouble I got when I was swapping the pickup:


In the video below I compared the tone of the stock humbucker vs the Surf 90, I know it's not the ideal comparison because one is in the bridge and the other on neck, but I think it's possible to get the idea of how it sounds. The tone of GFS Surf 90 can be really bright, but on this video I played it all with fingers, so ... take a listen:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Apogee jam vs IK Multimedia iRig

There is a lot of guitar adapters on the market to connect your guitar/bass to the iPhone or iPad. This post is a quick comparison of the two most famous adapters: Apogee jam and IK Multimedia iRig.

Before anything else, I can say with no doubt that Apogee jam is far much better. Here's why:

iRig: 


*Connects to the analog Phones/Mic in IO on iPad.
*Since it uses the headphone connection, the iRig has its own phones output for monitoring.
*Works with all iPod, iPhone and iPad versions.
*The design has some flaws, one is that when recording on GarageBand with a Headphone plugged in on iRig's output, "song/track bleeding" happens on the track background, recording not just what you are playing, but also in less volume the sound of the other tracks already recorded.
*Expect noises, buzz, hum, zzzzzz.
*Looks like a toy.
*It will not help you get professional results.
*Expensive for what it does.

jam:
*Provides clean recordings with zero interference.
*Light shows green and yellow when sound is at a good volume, and goes red when clipping.
*Does not work with iPod Touch 3rd gen. Before buying check out the compatibility.
*Works with iOS and OS X, Lion will be happy!
*More expensive (USD 99.00) than iRig, but you get better quality built device plus noise free playing.

I made a musical video of GarageBand tones recorded with Apogee jam:


Thanks for reading my totally unbiased review.

Friday, April 20, 2012

MXR Classic 108 Fuzz

It's a Fuzz Face built on a modern box! This pedal has a BC108 NPN Silicon type transistor providing great fuzzy tones. 


The box is pedal board friendly, has the option (unlike the classic Fuzz Face) to power it by a 9V center negative plug like most of modern pedals, the option for a 9V battery is there too. It also has a buffer button, when it's on, the pedal makes less noise and tones are brighter. When using a Wah-Wah in front of it, turn on the buffer to eliminate the oscillation.


This fuzz sounds awesome from low to high gain, everything you expect from a Fuzz Face. The only thing I dislike is that the volume knob has to be around 2 or 3 o'clock for matching volume with the amp clean tone, so it not provides too much boost.

So, if you want a Fuzz Face, but not the big round face that does not fit your pedal board and drain your batteries, I do recommend this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fender Blacktop Telecaster


I have always liked Fender guitars, the way it looks and sounds. So about one year ago I received an e-mail with a 15% discount on Fender guitars at an online store, immediately I got into the web store at 2:00am, and made a search for the cheapest Fender available at that time, the results were the Fender Blacktop Stratocaster and Telecaster. The Stratocaster was sold out, so I went for the Telecaster, nice looking sparkling silver alder body with black-white-black pick guard, glossy finish on the maple neck, rosewood fretboard, and ... two Humbuckers!


The Blacktop series from Fender is designed for heavier tones compared to the classics. This guitars have some modern characteristics like a body contour on the Telecaster shape and a reverse plate for easy access to the volume knob. The Stratocaster has a five way switch that allows you to coil split the humbuckers, that's a plus as you also get to play with a single coil tone. The Telecaster has a three way switch and no coil splitting is available.

The Guitar: Made in Mexico, clean and well-built, alder body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard provide the expected tonality. The body has a contour body shape for playing comfort, like you find on a standard Stratocaster. It came well tuned from factory but not perfect, neck is straight and plays nice. It has a good solid body and neck finish looks awesome, but there is a minor flaw on the neck: the skunk stripe is a little bit lifted where it begins near the headstock side, almost unnoticeable . Unfortunately the hardware provided is not that great: the bridge feels cheap, it's like a generic Chinese hard tail Strat bridge with bent saddles. The humbuckers cover have some kind of stain all over it which I could not get rid of. The string retainer is not one of the good ones and the jack input is already failing and needs to be replaced, although it still works with some cables like the planet waves lock system stuff.

The Tone: Clean tone is warm, not on the treble side like a classic Telecaster, when the neck humbucker is the only pickup in use there is a slightly lower output volume. I wish it had more treble, if ever going to mod this guitar, a better humbucker for the neck I will look for, or maybe I will have put a single coil on the neck instead for a brighter tone. When distortion is being used, the guitar sounds all good!

Price paid: $381.65