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Cilia Guitars Custom Halo Build Diary – Part 1

As my new Cilia Guitars is nearing completion it is time for me to start a build diary so that I can share the build process with you. As you probably know I already own a custom Cilia Guitars CGA 7 and posted the progress shots in a series of posts back in February 2013. Last year I decided I needed another of Charles Cilia’s exceptional guitars in my collection so I went over to his workshop to sit down and plan my 2nd Custom Cilia. First of all I knew I wanted a 6 string guitar and because I already own a 7 string superstrat style guitar with a floyd rose, a Suhr S4 which is a sort of modern Strat style guitar, a Patrick Eggle which is PRS-like I wanted something a bit different. Over the years I have played many Cilia guitars and have always loved Charles’ Cilia Halo which is a singlecut design with his own custom pickups that sounds and feels amazing. The Halo has a 25″ scale length giving the strings a little more tension than a Les Paul and a touch less than a Fender Strat and it has a single volume and tone control to accompany the 3 way toggle switch.

This guitar is going to look stunning, I have already decided on a transparent black finish with gold hardware. When I was at the Cilia Workshop Charles showed me all of his current available supplies of Maple tops, he knows me well so he had a couple of pieces that he had in mind for me and when I saw the burl Maple slab pictured below I knew it was the one. It is quite similar to the piece I chose for my CGA 7 but even more irregularities which are going to look amazing once there is some stain on the wood. As you can see below Charles also picked out the other tone woods, Mahogany for the body and neck and Rosewood for the fingerboard. I wanted to stray away from the traditional singlecut feel so I am actually getting the CGA 6 neck carve (because I love my CGA7 so much) and Stainless Steel frets. The neck is already finished and with the split block inlays that I chose it looks really cool and feels fantastic.


More updates to follow soon once Charles gets some time to send over more photos. In the meantime I would encourage you to check out his Facebook page to see more of his stunning guitars –

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Kirk Hammett Signature Overdrive Pedal – KHDK Ghoul Screamer

KHDK ghoul screamer
The Ghoul Screamer is the new signature Overdrive pedal for Metallica’s Kirk Hammett who, up until now has only ever had a signature Wah pedal from Dunlop (some of you may think that is more fitting!). I’m not sure what has suddenly sparked Kirk’s interest in pedals but if the company name and KHDK website is anything to go by it would appear that he is a partner in the business. So far KHDK have announced three pedals, the “No. 1 Overdrive”: tube sound in a pedal, “No. 2 Clean Boost”: warm, tube-like boost and the “Ghoul Screamer”: a true utility knife of overdrives.

The Ghoul Screamer has 3 knobs, Drive, Tone & Volume like most Overdrive pedals but Kirk Hammett wanted this pedal to do more than your basic Tube Screamer so KHDK added five switches to control the essential components of your sound: EQ, dynamics and pick sensitivity. Plus the pedal features artwork by San Francisco tattoo artist Tim Lehi.

For more info:

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Two New PRS Baritone SE Guitars for 2016, SE 277 & SE 277 Semi Hollow Soapbar

PRS have announced a couple of Baritone guitars to add to the SE range for 2016 which will no doubt be on display at Winter NAMM 2016 this January, the SE 277 and SE 277 Semi Hollow Soapbar.

So why are they called SE 277? That is thanks to the whopping 27.7” scale length of the neck, to put that into perspective my baritone 7 string is 27″, almost 28″ for a 6 string is an incredibly long neck and would probably allow you to drop lower than the B tuning without losing any tension. The semi hollow body version looks pretty cool, especially with the soapbar pickups. This is what PRS have to say about it:

“The SE 277 Semi Hollow Soapbar takes the traditional mahogany back, maple top platform to new territories with its chambered back, f-hole, and dual soapbar pickup configuration. The semi-hollow body provides increased acoustic resonance and clarity while the soapbars deliver a balance of transparent, uncompressed clean tones and thick growl.”

Baritone guitars are an interesting instrument useful for Metal, Rock or even Blues (check out The Ballad Of John Henry by Joe Bonamassa). As Rich Hannon, PRS Artist Relations puts it: “They are comfortable to play with a shred-worthy feel and handle alternate tunings like a beast.”

Additional specifications for both the SE 277 Semi Hollow Soapbar and SE 277 include a beveled maple top with flame Maple veneer, Mahogany back, 22-fret Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard with bird inlays, PRS-designed plate-style bridge, PRS-designed tuners, volume and tone with a 3-way toggle pickup switch.

Available Finishes:
SE277 Semi Hollow Soapbar: Gray Black and Vintage Sunburst
SE277: Black Cherry and Tobacco Sunburst

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Tosin Abasi Demonstrates His New Ibanez TAM Prototype

ibanez tam protoype
Well, well, what do we have here? It appears that 8 string guitar virtuoso, Animals As Leaders founder, Tosin Abasi is working with Ibanez on a new signature TAM model and these sneak peek videos are just a couple of months before Winter NAMM 2016.

The original Ibanez TAM (Tosin Abasi Model) was basically an 8 string version of an RG model with a few custom appointments, what the TAM mark II appears to be is a complete redesign based on guitars that Tosin has played over the years including the Strandberg Boden 8 and maybe the Rick Toone “Sketch” 7 string and possibly the Jesse Hall 8 string guitar featured in this video.

Here’s a little demo Tosin posted up to YouTube:

And here’s another little snippet from Tosin’s Instagram account:

A video posted by Tosin Abasi (@tosinabasi) on

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Emerald Guitars Tibetan 9 String Composite Guitar

Emerald Guitars Tibetan 9 string
I have featured a few Emerald Guitars creations on Guitar Noize over the years and they often have an interesting story behind them, this Tibetan painted composite acoustic guitar is no exception, in fact this guitar’s story is exceptional. Alistair Hay, founder of Emerald Guitars, travelled to the Tibetan region of China to have one of his custom guitars decorated with Eastern philosophy art for a customer in Chicago. How is that for service!

Alistair first met Canadian artist Kristel Tenzin Dolma Ouwehand in Donegal over two decades ago while she was travelling the world funding herself through her art. In 1992 Kristel had left Alistair’s St Johnston home leaving him with a painting which had a profound effect on him. Alistair felt that Kristel was the only person who would do this unique project justice and so, accompanied by cameraman, Alan McLaughlin, he set out for China.


The Amdo Art Project, located in the monastery town of Labrang, hosts eight full-time students, young Tibetans of nomadic decent, who join the academy for a five-year term honing their skills as artists under the tutelage of Kristel. The artist took the brief outlined by Alistair’s customer and completed a beautiful mural on the guitar, taking inspiration from various sources.

Alistair said: “Brendan had a vision for a guitar with Asian artwork depicting his favourite philosophers. We chose a Shan Shui-style with a river running through it as the central theme. The inspiration for the river design came from a 300-year-old mural inside the Labrang monastery, giving it a strong local connection.

“The artwork, philosophers and styles span various different cultures reflecting the global nature of this guitar spanning three continents in its creation.

“Water, being the central theme, became very significant as this guitar led to us being able to help install water facilities for the academy.”


Alistair said: “I have always said we are not just a company that makes guitars, we’re a company that makes stories. We always work with our customers to make a memorable experience and create something special for them.”

Now back home, Alistair will complete the unique guitar before its new owner visits Donegal in person to pick up his masterpiece in the coming months.

Click the link for more information on Emerald Guitars.

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Benefit Concert For Tony MacAlpine featuring Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde & John 5

Tony MacAlpine has unfortunately recently been diagnosed with Cancer, this is obviously terrible news but made even worse by the fact that his wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in June. Aside from the physical and mental stresses just dealing with the treatment for their conditions it must be an incredible stress living in the US where medical bills are astronomical. Thankfully some of Tony’s close friends have organised a benefit concert to help relieve some of that burden.

This special event will take place at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on December 12, 2015, at 7:00pm, featuring performances from John 5 & The Creatures, Zakk Wylde with Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian; Steve Vai and band, and culminating in an all-star jam with house band Portnoy, Sheehan, Sherinian, and featuring special guests. Eddie Trunk will serve as master of ceremonies for the night.

tony macalpine benefit concert

In addition to this extraordinary musical event, Steve Vai, John 5, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Stevens, Paul Gilbert, Steve Lukather and Joe Satriani have all graciously donated personal guitars to be auctioned during the event. Simon Philips has dontated a signature snare. Tony’s gear manufacturers Ibanez, Hughes & Kettner, EMG Pickups, Ernie Ball, Source Audio and Voodoo Lab have also generously donated equipment to be raffled.

Tickets are on sale Saturday November 7, at 10am PT through, with all proceeds going to help Tony and his family. A GoFundMe campaign will be set up for fans who can’t make the show, but still want to contribute. More details about that as soon as I have them.

To purchase tickets –

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The new Blackstar Artist Series Combo Amps

Blackstar Amps have just announced 2 new all tube combo amps called the Artist 15 and Artist 30. Both amps feature a 2 channel design with 6L6 output tubes and a single Celestion V type speaker in the Artist 15 and two Celestion V type speakers in the Artist 30. The combos feature Blackstar’s ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control which works in conjunction with the Tone control to allow you to choose between a more American sound with a tight bottom end and more aggressive middle, and fully CW is a British characteristic which is more ‘woody’ and less aggressive.

blackstar artist 30

The clean channel is beautifully simplistic with a single volume and tone control while Channel 2 includes a gain control, 3 band EQ and the ISF control. It also appears that the digital reverb (which has 2 reverb types available from the back panel) and master volume are for channel 2 only. Finally, the amps include an effects loop, speaker emulated output and footswitch.

Blackstar are touting the Artist Series amps as perfect platforms for pedalboards but thanks to the clever design of their effects loop you can switch to either +4dBV or -10dBV, which enables you to use it with either pro rack equipment as well as pedals.

With all the modelling and busking amps Blackstar have been releasing in recent years it is great to see them get back to what made the company famous in the first place which is building great tube amps.

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Positive Grid Launches BIAS Pedal – Tone Matching Distortion Modeller App

Bias Pedal
Those incredible boffins at Positive Grid have done it again! If you have tried BIAS Amp, and I sincerely hope you have or you are seriously missing out, you will know that Positive Grid have already perfected an amazing amp modelling app for iOS and plugin for your DAW. BIAS Amp lets you take a classic amp design and tweak the inner workings such as tubes, tube bias, transformer, eq, gain settings etc. to create your own signature amp. BIAS Pedal is the same idea but for overdrive and distortion pedals, start with a preset base pedal such as a Tube Screamer or a DS-1 then tweak the inner workings such as the input volume, distortion stages and gain control, pre and post EQ, switch out the Germanium transistor to Silicon, or JFET or MOSFET or even for a Tube!

BIAS Pedal comes with hundreds of factory loaded distortion pedal presets, from blues to rock, to alternative and metal, to everything in between and it also integrates with BIAS FX. Seamlessly add your custom distortion pedal into dual signal effects and rack chains and dual BIAS Amps.

“Guitarists and bassists are now able to tone match any real life analog distortion stompbox in the world, and capture their favorite distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and boost pedals tones right into BIAS Pedal. Its Tone Match technology analyzes and compares the currently selected pedal and the sound of a target tube pedal. It then executes the tonal compensation and enhancements needed to make any pedal’s sound accurately match that of the target pedal. Positive Grid is working with several artists, engineers, and producers to create a never ending tone match pedal distortion collection.”

Steve Booke demos some rock, blues, and metal stompboxes in BIAS Pedal

BIAS Pedal is now available for free download on iPad App Store ($19.99 in-app purchase to unlock full feature), and for $99 as a desktop plug-in for Mac/Win.

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Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster

If you fancy a little taste of Hendrix the new Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster may be for you. It is not really what I would call an authentic Hendrix Strat due to the fact it is a right handed model with a reverse headstock and bridge pickup angle but it certainly gets you in the ball park of the guitars Jimi played, the Olympic white below for instance is a nod to the guitar he used at Woodstock in ’69.

Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster®, Maple Fingerboard, Olympic White

Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster®, Maple Fingerboard, Black

“The reverse headstock produces a longer string length for the bass strings, creating a tighter playing feel along with easier bending and vibrato on the treble strings. A trio of unsurpassed American Vintage ’65 single-coil pickups includes a reverse-slant bridge pickup, producing uniquely inspiring tone with tight, warm sound and enhanced upper harmonics and definition. The highly versatile 9.5”-radius “C”-shaped maple neck with medium jumbo frets offers a flatter playing surface—ideal for chording while simultaneously allowing you to bend notes to the stratosphere during scorching solos.

Commemorating Hendrix’s unrivaled legacy, the large ’70s-style headstock bears the guitarist’s signature on the rear. A unique neck plate displays a shoulders-up silhouette of the man himself and the engraved inscription, “Authentic Hendrix,” leaving no doubt as to the inspiration behind this guitar. Available in classic Olympic White or Black, both with chrome hardware and including a gig bag.”

Check the Fender website for more info.

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MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive Pedal

mxr 5150
Dunlop’s MXR design team has collaborated with Eddie Van Halen on a drive pedal that emulates the beast that is his signature 5150 amp that Eddie himself has used for years in various forms and all over the world by heavy metal bands who love the crushing tone.

“The MXR EVH 5150™ Overdrive joins hand-adjusted multi-stage MOSFETs with a full complement of controls to deliver overdriven tube-like tones and exceptional sonic flexibility through a wide variety of amps and speaker cabinets. The EVH 5150 Overdrive’s controls dial up the whole spectrum—from Eddie’s groundbreaking early classic tones to the high gain, super-articulate sound he uses today.”

The Output and Gain controls set your volume and distortion levels, and a 3-band passive tone stack EQ section shapes your sound to taste. The Boost switch adds extra gain and compression and the Gate control (powered by the Smart Gate® circuit) tames unwanted noise.

The EVH 5150 Overdrive features true bypass switching and comes in a road-worthy housing emblazoned with custom EVH artwork.

  • Designed in close collaboration with Eddie Van Halen
  • Delivers a full range of powerful saturation via multi-stage MOSFETs
  • Features 3-band EQ section for versatile tweakability
  • Boost switch adds extra gain and compression
  • Gate control tames unwanted noise
  • Sounds great through a wide variety of amps and speaker cabs
  • Expected street price: $199.99

    Check out this demo of the MXR EVH 5150 pedal by Andertons:

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