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Review: Positive Grid BIAS Desktop


When Positive Grid released BIAS for iPad I, and to be honest I think anyone that tried it, was blown away. While I’m sure amp modelling software companies had tools like this internally to tweak their amp models, never before had the public had access to such an amazing piece of software to create and share your own creations. Not only does BIAS sound great it looks great too, that’s the beauty of the app it looks like you are really inside the amp tweaking settings and swapping tubes.

The only issue with having an app as iOS only is that it isn’t the most convenient when recording on your desktop computer, so much to the delight of guitarists all over the world and many bedroom and professional producers Positive Grid have created a plugin version of BIAS to use in your favourite DAW called BIAS Desktop.

I know my demonstration is fairly long but I wanted to run through BIAS Desktop’s various types of amp models and show how powerful the editing features are. I did include a demo track at the end which I think sounds amazing (the tones I mean). I plugged my Cilia CGA7 into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 which is connected to my iMac running Reaper. In the demonstration this is exactly the setup you are hearing. For the demo track I double tracked the rhythm guitars, added a lead track with slightly more gain dialed in, doubled the lead track toward the end of the solo and octave lower and added my Ibanez 5 string bass (also using a BIAS amp model) and finished it off with Superior Drummer.

Because I know some people won’t have the patience to watch my entire demo video here is the track I wrote and recorded using BIAS Desktop:

BIAS Desktop

I can’t get enough of the Mark IIc+ model! I’d actually happily pay for BIAS if this was the only amp to edit, of course there area actually plenty of different amps to choose from to cover any situation and if a model doesn’t sound exactly like what you’re looking for you can change a myriad of settings, switch out the transformer, add an EQ after the preamp stage bias the power tubes, add or remove tube stages for more or less gain or switch the cab and mic placement. With the 36 models included you have every amp tone at your fingertips and to top it off you can download thousands of artist and user created and matched amp models from Positive Grid’s ToneCloud!

Now just one thing I feel I should point out, BIAS does not include effects such as overdrive pedals, chorus, flanger etc. which you get with some amp modelling software. BIAS concentrates on doing one thing really well. You will have to use your own effects plugins with your newly created amp creations. This is no big deal to me, I’d rather they concentrate on getting the amp models as close to the real thing personally.

One of the coolest new features of BIAS Desktop is the Amp Matching module which takes a sample of a real amp and makes internal changes to a ballpark model amp you have chosen to create a tone that is close as possible. Ryan Bruce has recorded a number of videos demonstrating this feature and he did such an awesome job with this Mesa Boogie Mark IV video that I thought it better to include here.

If you are someone who records a lot at home or in a studio Positive Grid BIAS Desktop is an absolute must have. If you use modelling apps live you will be better using the iPad version in conjunction with JamUp Pro. Either way PG have you covered and have created an amazing app which with the newly added Amp Matching feature moves their product into the realm of the super expensive hardware amp modelling units at a fraction of the cost.

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Fender & Hurley collaborate for Waves For Water Auction

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Press release
LOS ANGELES (October 15, 2014) – Through a unique blend of artists and musicians – including Donald Edward Hardy, Brandon Boyd, Thomas Campbell, Johnny Marr and Shawn Stussy – Hurley and Fender will recognize the unparalleled heritage of the world’s most popular guitar on its 60th anniversary. Twenty American-made, hand-painted Stratocaster guitars will be auctioned off to raise money for Waves For Water, which in turn will save lives through water-based initiatives.

STRAT: 60 Years of the Stratocaster is a collaboration between the two unique brands and pays homage to the iconic Fender Stratocaster® guitar as it embarks on its seventh decade of existence. Each Strat® guitar will include individual designs and artwork by a featured artist and will be auctioned on eBay, October 22 through November 1. Proceeds will benefit Waves For Water, an organization that brings access to potable water to nations in need.

A charity art show will take place at Hurley’s headquarters in Orange County on October 24 to bolster the financial efforts of the project, and will be the only exhibit to see the guitars in person before they’re sold via eBay Givingworks.

The featured artists each designed their own unique guitar – the list includes: Shawn Stussy, Don Ed Hardy, Craig Stecyk, Christian Jacobs, Natalia Fabia, Ryan Adams, Johnny Marr, Brandon Boyd, Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, Wes Humpston, Lance Mountain, Tim Armstrong, Tim Biskup, Dan Smith, Albert De Alba, Russell Crotty, Tokyo Hiro, Cryptik and Thomas Campbell.

“Having had a relationship with both Fender and Hurley for years, it seemed natural to bring them together; both are two seminal Southern California brands that have become leaders in world culture,” said Curator and Participating Artist C.R. Stecyk III.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Waves For Water. To learn more, see the guitars, and place a bid on a one-of-a-kind Stratocaster, visit http://ebay.com/stratauction, and wavesforwater.org.

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Spicetone 6Appeal Analog PolyFuzz. Say what?!


Hexaphonic fuzz-overdrive with an active breakout box and modulation effects with full MIDI control. Ok we need to break this down as some of you may not have even heard of Hexaphonic pickups. So if you ever seen a Roland equipped MIDI guitar used usually in conjunction with their MIDI effect unit that can turn your guitar into a synth, you’ve seen a Hexaphonic pickup in action. These pickups isolate each string into its own signal so that the strings can be affected individually.

What Spicetone have created is a unique Overdrive unit that takes advantage of Hexaphonic pickup loaded guitars, you can modulate the sound, applying different modulation rates and types per string. For the modulation, there are two Low Frequency Oscillators (LFO) and a Sequencer. The modulation section can control any pot on 6Appeal.

You can modulate drive and level in opposite phase, and get supernatural tremolo.

There is also a powerful Filter Section on three ¼” jack outputs; modulating the Filter produces autowah style effect.

Everything in 6Appeal can be controlled by external MIDI, including the modulation tempo. It is also an outgoing MIDI controller – you can send MIDI messages from 10 pots and 3 footswitches. “Internally, 6Appeal is high end product with more than 1000 components,” tells Taivo Saarts, Spicetone’s technology head. “It’s costly but you have the power of several stompboxes in one pedal. What I like the most is that all settings can be saved. A guitarist has 144 preset memories for one’s own custom presets. I’m also very fond of how we manage to indicate actual pot positions, using illuminated pots.”

If you’re into digital post processing, 6Appeal works as a Breakout Box for 6+1 channels. You can send all channels separately to you DAW, overdriven or clean. The output signal can be boosted to strong +4dB signal level, so you don’t have to turn up your soundcard’s input level.

6Appeal is currently available is Spicetone’s webshop. The international retail price is EUR450 (USD595). Here’s a 10% discount code valid for Guitar Noize readers until 24 Dec 2014: GuitarNoize14.

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Bogner enter the pickup market

Bogner Pickups
Bogner Amplification has partnered with renown and highly respected Arcane Pickups for our exclusive line of PAF vintage style humbuckers.

“Designed by Bogner and built by Arcane Pickups here in Los Angeles, each pickup is hand wound and features the finest quality components. Our PAF’s deliver clear, balanced and sweet cleans. When pushed hard, you’ll hear and feel dynamic, articulate and harmonically rich overdriven tones.”

More pickup styles and models to come soon. Available direct at http://www.bogneramplification.com

I actually think this news is a little sad, as I did when Bogner announced their first effect pedals as it means that they are not selling enough of their $3500 amps to concentrate solely on these products that made the company legendary among guitarists. Also Bogner are outsourcing the pickup building to to another company which to me dilutes the brand? I’m not saying the pickups don’t sound good, just listen to the demo below the combination of these pickups with the Bogner Helios sound amazing, it just makes me think Bogner must be struggling?

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A Little Thunder – Revolutionary Humbucker Pickup adds Bass to Electric Guitars


Imagine being able to flick a switch on your guitar and your bottom 2 strings become a Bass, well Andy Alt’s new invention A Little Thunder is a very clever new Humbucker design that does just that! I’ve chatted to Andy many times over the years (check out my interview with Andy for The Guitar Noize Podcast), he previously told me about his invention but I didn’t understand how it worked, he has obviously fine tuned this pickup for years and finally has a pretty remarkable prototype that does something that no other pickup on the market does. Just check out the video above to hear how it can be used in different situations an genres. Andy Alt used to play in a duo called ‘Swimming In Trees’ alongside a drummer and I think this is where the idea started to come to fruition, as a singer songwriter Andy was able to add a bass line to fatten up the sound of his guitar and make the duo sound like a trio.

The addition of the bass feature comes at no physical modifications to your beloved guitar: no drilling, routing, adding extra strings even replacing 9V batteries or using midi. Players will simply remove their existing humbucker and with about 5 minutes of installation time, will have the ability to push a button and add bass to their lowest notes, leaving all 6 guitar strings in-tact. The controls for the pickup are on-board a custom designed pickup ring: an on/off switch, a -1 or -2 octave switch and a polyphonic (2 bass notes at once) or “low note priority mode” (detects the lowest note being played an only applies the effect to that note).

Head over to the A Little Thunder Kickstarter page for a more detailed explanation of the technology used in this pickup and to contribute.

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TC Electronic announce the Flashback Triple Delay

TC Electronic flashback triple delay
The TC Electronic Flashback X4 is a fantastic pedal (check out my review here) but the extremely talented people at TC Electronic don’t rest on their laurels, they’ve found a way to improve it with the Flashback Triple Delay.

“Flashback Triple Delay is the first stompbox in TC history that lets you run three delays simultaneously, opening up an entirely new delay dimension filled with divine sounds. The Flashback Triple Delay also features 11 different subdivision types, and the option of running the delays in parallel or in series, which lets you infuse your delays with distinct and unique rhythmic patterns.

On top of that the Flashback Triple Delay sports 12 different delay types, 4 TonePrint slots for loading in signature effects, a tap tempo switch, stereo I/O, MIDI connectivity and an expression pedal input.”

Check out this video from TC Electronic explaining the features and a few audio demonstrations.

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PRS Announce the Archon 25 Combo

archon25combo_front
A couple of months ago PRS announced that they were adding to the range of their new high gain amp, The Archon, with a 50/25 Watt Head and Combo. PRS obviously decided that there would be a benefit of having an even lower wattage version and have released the Archon 25 Combo which features the same look as the 50/25 and is switchable to 13 Watts via the back panel.

Press Release
The Archon 25 brings the ‘king’ of PRS high-gain amplification to the world of small, low wattage tube amps. The Archon’s lush distortion and singing clean channel tones are all here in a 25 watt package. The Archon 25’s wattage makes the amp easier to push to optimum performance – tube amps sound best when pushed a little – and it gets there at a lower volume, which is a huge benefit not only at home, but also in the studio and on the stage. Recording with an amp at lower volumes allows for a cleaner signal and a truer tone, and keep the soundman happy by not blowing out the other members of the band.

The Archon 25 features Volume, Treble, Middle, and Bass controls for each channel. There is also a Master Volume control for each channel and global Depth and Presence for added control. The Archon’s 6L6/EL34 tube option is replaced here with 5881’s, which offer extended high end while maintaining the Archon’s signature crunch.

PRS Artist Emil Werstler on the Archon 25 Combo, “It’s a pretty surprising amp. One of the main reasons I play this amp is that it has a rare feature for a high gain amp, and that is that it actually has a clean channel. It’s very lightweight, and you can drive external cabinets with it. It feels the same [as the original Archon]. The only difference is it’s obviously very small and you can’t complain about carting it upstairs anymore.”

Visit www.prsguitars.com/archon25 for more info.

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EVH 5150 III 1×12 50 Watt Combo amp

EVH 5150 III 1x12 combo
The Eddie Van Halen signature model 5150 amp has had more success than I ever imagined it would when it was first released in the early 90’s. It has become one of the most recorded amps for metal in history but the 100 watt head is a beast and the original was not exactly that versatile. The EVH 5150 III aimed to achieve the versatility required by many modern guitar players and the mini 50 watt head meant that the amp could be used in smaller venues. Now to make life even easier EVH have announced a 50 watt 1×12 combo version of the 5150 III amp.

Press release
The EVH 5150III® 1×12 is an all-tube combo amp, featuring three channels of pure 5150-III high performance tone (clean, crunch and lead). Fitted with a single 12-inch Celestion®, 16-ohm speaker and powered by seven JJ ECC83 (12AX7) preamp tubes and two JJ 6L6 power tubes, it also features front-panel adjustable power output from 50 watts down to one watt. The adjustable power feature is especially useful in achieving “fully cranked” sounds while maintaining reasonable overall volume levels.

Features include a single input, rear-panel selectable output impedance (4, 8 or 16 ohms), versatile controls (gain, low, mid, high, volume, master presence, rear-panel master resonance, power level, reverb), built-in DSP reverb, rear-panel MIDI input and preamp output, two rear-panel parallel speaker outputs, rear-panel effects loop and headphone jack (mutes power amp), and four-button footswitch (controls all three channels and reverb).

Top-notch construction features a custom-shaped birch cabinet with special and exclusive internal baffling, vintage-style chicken-head control knobs, red jewel, plastic top strap handle and casters. A fitted cover is optional. Available in Black and Ivory.

For more information, go to evhgrar.com

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John Mayer parts ways with Fender, Guthrie Govan plays a Strandberg, Greg Howe playing Carvin, we all go “huh?!”

We’re a strange lot, us guitarists. Whether John Mayer is a Fender artist or not shouldn’t matter. Guthrie Govan playing an 8 string Strandberg shouldn’t matter. Greg Howe suddenly playing Carvin Guitars shouldn’t really be news. But to many of us it is news, it does matter, and why? Because we’ve been brainwashed by decades (in some cases a lot less) of advertising by guitar companies that create some kind of lucrative contract between themselves and a guitarist in order to sell more guitars and make the artist some extra pocket money. Now I’m not saying the Guthrie Govan Charvel isn’t worth buying, it is a very unique offering for Charvel, I just think it’s funny how we all collectively shout WTF?! when these endorsed artists appear with a different brand, myself included. 

Clearly Guthrie felt that the Strandberg 8 string Boden was the best tool for the job in the situation he was using it in, John Mayer on the other hand maybe doesn’t really need an endorsement deal at his level of fame constraining him to certain guitars, he says he will continue to play Fender guitars but his signature model will be discontinued and he will no longer be an exclusive Fender Artist. He cites change to the Fender Corp. as the reason, “I love Fender guitars and will continue to play them, but the fact is that the company as it is today isn’t the same one I started with.” I have seen a few videos of Mayer lately playing various guitars including a Duesenberg and thought nothing of it, now that he’s posted that tweet I’m suddenly interested. Gah! And as for Greg Howe his last endorsement didn’t go so well and the company folded so it makes sense to go with a reputable company known for making some fantastic looking guitars.

Guthrie Govan recently performed at the  Hans Zimmer Revealed event in London with the German film score composer alongside Johnny Marr (which I found an interesting choice). Some video has started to appear online of this event and features Guthrie playing a distinctive Strandberg headless guitar. Now personally I couldn’t see from the video below whether Guthrie is playing a 7 or 8 string model but at 5:47 you get a close up and it does look like a pretty wide fretboard… oh dear, see what I’m doing?! Like I said, I don’t know why I should be obsessed by this kind of thing, I just am. Help.

Finally, check out this video of Greg Howe playing a recent Carvin acquisition that he posted up on Instagram. Also check out this photo of Greg admiring his new custom Carvin that Jeff Kiesel, owner at Carvin Guitars, built for Greg.

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Looks like a cool guitar, I never really understood why Greg stopped endorsing ESP Guitars as they have such a huge following (and advertising budget) but the Carvins definitely seem like a good fit for Greg Howe and look forward to seeing more videos.

So there you go, my obsession with people playing guitars basically on a par with women’s magazines obsessed by celebrity fashion… Please tell me I’m not alone?

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Way Huge announce the Saucy Box Overdrive Pedal

Way Huge Saucy Box
ProGuitarShop.com are asking could the Way Huge Saucy Box finally be the pedal to rival the (ridiculously overpriced) Klon Centaur? Well I’ll let you decide from Andy’s demo but it sounds great to my ears as do all Way Huge pedals, Jeorge Tripps certainly knows how to produce great tones.

“You just heard the Saucy Box, a sassy new do-it-all overdrive from our friends at Way Huge Electronics. Despite its simple layout, the Saucy Box is practically bubbling over with tone, from transparent buffering and rich, juicy boost with the drive knob down, to complex (dare we say “Klon-like”?), overdrive tones with drive at noon, to sweet, creamy musical saturation as the drive knob veers clockwise. It achieves this diverse range of tones with a unique circuit that splits the guitar signal into two discrete paths; one clean and one dirty, which are then expertly blended for an ideal amalgamation of overdrive, compression, and dynamic clarity. Its controls are highly interactive, and the pristine passive tone circuit lets you quickly find your sweet spot, no matter what guitar and pickup combination you’re plugging in. With its versatile tones and rugged simplicity, this saucy box can replace a whole pedalboard full of lesser overdrives. Like all Jeorge Tripps’ designs, the Way Huge Saucy Box is constructed of the finest components available, featuring rugged true bypass switching and standard 9v operation.” – ProGuitarShop.com

http://proguitarshop.com/way-huge-electronics-saucy-box.html

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