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Review: Scuffham Amps S-Gear 2

Scuffham S-Gear 2
Scuffham Amps were brought to my attention a few months ago and I was immediately interested in checking out their Amp Modelling plugin S-Gear (S-Gear also runs as a standalone app) after reading the backstory on the company, more of that in a moment, I got in touch with the company and was added to their beta tester list for the latest release 2.4 which is available to purchase now from their website.

What makes UK based Scuffham Amps so interesting to me is that it was set up by Mike Scuffham who designed the legendary JMP-1 MIDI Preamp whilst working for Marshall Amplification in the 90′s before moving on to work for Akai and a Finnish video processing company and eventually founding his own software company.

S-Gear is a collection of amps, speaker cabinets, mics and effects available for Windows PC or MAC. What I really like about S-Gear is the simplicity of the interface, features and the ease of use. Some amp Modelling apps have all the bells and whistles whereas S-Gear 2.4 has just 5 amps and 3 rack effects but combined with the excellent ProConvolver MKII cabinet emulator it is possible to create a huge array of fantastic guitar tones.

Let me first explain what ProConvolver MKII is. ProConvolver uses Impulse Modelling to capture detailed frequency responses of speaker cabinets. There is even a second convolver channel so that you can pan the two channels in stereo. Scuffham have teamed up with one of the leading companies in Impulse Responses, Redwirez who have provided a fantastic collection, including 1×12″, 2×12″, 4×10″ and 4×12″ cabs, ribbon and dynamic mic options and a range of mic placements. When I was taking about simplicity of the UI this follows through to the cabinet selection and mic placements,
Scuffham Amps worked with Redwirez and made specific choices of speaker and mic combinations that they wanted to include in S-GEAR. New in version 2.4 are Scuffham cabinets that have been measured in-house, these include a different mic placement UI allowing you to graphically place the mic in relation to the speaker.

The effects rack has 3 available modules that you can add in, Mod Thing, Room Thing and Delay Thing. Mod Thing is obviously a modulation effect that covers Flange and Chorus effects as well as Vibrato and Leslie style effects and you can add multiple versions of Mod Thing to stack Modulation effects. Room Thing is a Reverb unit and includes all sorts of natural and spring reverb effects. Delay Thing is, well a Delay effect but it has 2 modes, Tube and Analogue, mono or stereo modes and Triangle or Sine wave forms to choose to modulate the delay trails with.

Now onto the main reason most people will buy or at least try this software, the amps. There are, as I said before, 5 to choose from. I have recorded demonstrations of 4 of the amps below, the one I have left out is called the Jackal and is a high gain amp. The Jackal is loosely based on a Soldano but as with all of the amps you can configure them to cover a lot of ground, especially with the cabinet combinations on offer. I just didn’t bond as well with the Jackal amp as I did with the other models, I felt the other models were exceptionally good, especially for Blues and Rock so I wanted to concentrate my efforts on those models. For the following demos I picked a few Jamtrackcentral.com backing tracks that covered different styles and solo’d over the top using S-Gear 2.

The Duke Amp model demo

The Stealer Amp model demo

The Stealer Amp model demo 2

Custom ’57 Amp model demo

Wayfarer Amp model demo

Scuffham Amps S-Gear 2.4 is available to purchase and download via the company website, but you can try before you buy with a fully featured 15 day demo. Give it a go, I guarantee if you like low to medium gain amps you will be impressed. If you are a Metal only kind of guitarist then I would say you would be better purchasing TSE Audio X50 V2, which, while it only has a single amp model it is the ultimate High gain amp plugin for me. If you want a full selection you can buy Scuffham S-Gear 2 and TSE Audio X50 V2 for a total of $165 and have a complete recording toolkit!

Scuffham S-Gear 2
Scuffham Amps were brought to my attention a few months ago and I was immediately interested in checking out their Amp Modelling plugin S-Gear (S-Gear also runs as a standalone app) after reading the backstory on the company, more of …

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Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster Pedal

seymour duncan pickup booster
Seymour Duncan continue their plans for global domination with another pedal added to their growing 2014 line up with an updated version of their sought after Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster. The new graphic treatment is a massive improvement, not that it should matter what it looks like but admit it, you want pedals that look as good as they sound right?

“With its class A, low-noise circuit design the Pickup Booster is exceptional at emphasizing a guitar’s natural sound while adding some muscle and fatness. The Gain control can now be turned down to unity (0dB).”

The pedal is actually capable of 25dB of boost so great to use either as a clean boost or to add sustain and saturation to an already overdriven tone.

We also added a discrete push-pull output stage that gives you increased drive capability. So even with the Gain knob down at 0dB and a long cable length, your signal chain will sound cleaner”.

A cool feature on this pedal is a Resonance Switch which allows you to make single coils sound like a vintage or high output humbucker. The Pickup Booster is assembled in Santa Barbara, California and is True-Bypass. Check out a demo of the pedal in action below.

seymour duncan pickup booster
Seymour Duncan continue their plans for global domination with another pedal added to their growing 2014 line up with an updated version of their sought after Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster. The new graphic treatment is a massive improvement, not …

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Philip Sayce Demonstrates The Yamaha THR10 Amp


In this video Phillip Sayce demonstrates how the tiny Yamaha THR10 amp sounds when mic’d and run through a P.A. system. The video description also states that “While most modelling amps struggle to work well with effects in the front end, thanks to Yamaha’s VCM component modelling, THR responds exactly like you’d expect a tube amp to, even with Philip’s ‘best of the best’ effects in the front end.”

Phillip goes on to talk about his vintage pedals that work well with the THR10 as well as a new OX Vibe pedal too. Even without the Tube Screamer the amp is generating a really great SRV type tone but with the Tube Screamer kicked in it sounds absolutely killer!

Phillip Sayce’s new album “Influence” is released on August 25th through Provogue Records.

phillip-sayce-influence


In this video Phillip Sayce demonstrates how the tiny Yamaha THR10 amp sounds when mic’d and run through a P.A. system. The video description also states that “While most modelling amps struggle to work well with effects in the front …

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Hal Leonard Albert King and SRV TAB Book Review

byline pic By Pappy

You know who rocks? Stevie Ray Vaughan. Even dead, he’s still showing people how to play and he played like a fiend. He brought electric blues to a whole new crowd that had previously been unaware of it – or perhaps felt a but weird listening to it since so many modern people don’t have the same trials and tribulations to feel blue about like the old blues songs cover.

But in comes SRV, beating the hell out of his Strats (or Tele if the era is old enough), and he out the world on fire with poncho-covered Texas blues and the world rejoiced.

SRV was always vocal about his influences, though, and one of them was Albert King. SRV was huge into live music and tapped his Austin resources as much as possible and threw them in his mind’s blender and poured out what we know as SRV’s music. Albert King was a huge influence and SRV hooked up with him to record the album Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan In Session. The cover shows Albert King, loud and proud playing his trademark Flying V, with SRV sitting down in the background, head down staring at his fretboard, flat-brimmed hat covering half his face which I always thought was cool.

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The album is largely disregarded in favor of SRV’s more popular offerings, but shouldn’t be. It’s filled with great guitar playing and if you’re a fan of that type of blues, you owe it to yourself to check this album out.

Once you do, and fall in love with it, buy Hal Leonard’s note-for-note transcription book. It features standard notation and TAB, with about 180 pages of music. There are no written instructions, no techniques covered, and no included music or audio examples, but that doesn’t matter if you have the album. You can just use that as your example!

The book covers the following songs:
(They Call It) Stormy Monday (Stormy Monday Blues)
Pride and Joy
Ask Me No Questions
Blues At Sunrise
Overall Junction
Match Box Blues
Don’t Lie to Me

If you’re an SRV fan, an Albert King fan, a blues fan, or you’re just looking to learn from a couple of greats, this is a good opportunity. It retails for $22.99 and can be found either at your local music stores, or online HERE.

byline pic By Pappy

You know who rocks? Stevie Ray Vaughan. Even dead, he’s still showing people how to play and he played like a fiend. He brought electric blues to a whole new crowd that had previously been unaware of it …

Click here to comment

Wall Axe Review

byline picBy Pappy

Wall Axe is a family company here in the U.S. that specialize in making wall hangers for your guitars of varying sizes and accommodations, but they sent me one in particular, the Soloist, to review and I have to say: It’s pretty cool.

Where most guitar hangars are fairly bare bones affairs and even the more elaborate ones are only elaborate in decoration (like a zombie hand or something clutching your guitar), the function remains the same: they hold your guitar. And you may very well say that this is all you would look for in a guitar hanger – I was thinking something very similar – but the Soloist offers a bit more than just decor, increasing functionality and usefulness of the stationary holder.

For one thing, the actual guitar holder isn’t just mounted into a small piece of wood, but rather a large chunk of wood shaped like a triangle. The wood holds the guitar holder, but also has three slots and four wooden pegs.

Why?

Well, the goal is to declutter and keep your essential guitar toys together in the same place so you can spend more time playing and less time hunting for stuff. The pegs, slots, and thick piece of wood (which almost doubles as a shelf) were put in place to hang your guitar cords, capos, tuners, thumb picks, and picks in place.

And your guitar, of course.

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Courtesy of Wallaxe.com

The guitar holder is lacquer-safe (anyone who owns a lacquer-finished guitar will testify to the importance of this – if a holder isn’t lacquer-safe and it’s made of that cheap surgical tubing stuff, it will eat right through your finish down to the bare wood) and it’s a bit more complicated than your standard String Swing to install.

Not that this should scare you. Wall Axe includes some great instructions that are very easy to follow, regardless of the type of wall you are installing the Soloist in, with a drilling guide/template, and chronological instructions based on the type of wall and the mandatory mounting hardware for each mounting option. All you have to provide are the tools and the five to ten minutes of labor. Nothing too difficult, I promise. The reason for all these inductions, guides, and templates, is so your guitar is safely mounted to the wall and if it comes to mounting something easily and quickly, but not securely, and spending a few more minutes to do it right and gain the security of knowing that the guitar – your precious guitar – will come crashing down in the night makes the extra time well worth it to me.

They retail for around $30.00 and be found HERE!

byline picBy Pappy

Wall Axe is a family company here in the U.S. that specialize in making wall hangers for your guitars of varying sizes and accommodations, but they sent me one in particular, the Soloist, to review and I have …

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Seymour Duncan Nazgul and Sentient Review

byline picBy Pappy

When I started playing seven-string guitars, pickup options were limited. Now, there are significantly more options for these guitars, but there are still less than six-string pickups because, like it or not, the 7+ string market it still considered a niche one when compared to the standard six.

But then Seymour Duncan released a set of pickups specifically for seven-string guitars called the Nazgûl, the Sentient, and the Pegasus. Each was developed for a specific type of sound, but specifically engineered for seven strings. Popularity rose swiftly among the seven-string market and six-string players began to take notice. YouTube videos started popping up demoing these pickups and more and more six-string players found themselves occupying the same space that seven-string players usually reside: They want specific pickups, but they aren’t made for THEIR guitar.

Audiences clamored and Seymour Duncan eventually released the pickups in six-string format and I couldn’t resist the call of a Nazgûl/Sentient set. On paper they sound perfect for me. The Nazgûl is supposed to be a brutal pickup that is made for high gain and everything metal while the Sentient is designed to go with the Nazgûl power-wise so there’s no drastic drop in volume, but still steering more toward vintage PAF mixed with modern tones.

Photo Aug 16, 1 07 51 PM

Photo Aug 16, 1 07 54 PM

I ordered the covered set (because I thought they looked cooler) and when I found out only the UNcovered set would fit in my EVH Wolfgang Special – the guitar I ordered them for – I put them in my Les Paul instead. Initially I was worried about how the warmth of mahogany was going to skew the pickups, but after a fairly quick wiring job that was accomplished easily thanks to wiring diagrams from seymourduncan.com and an example already being loaded in my Les Paul (a Seymour Duncan Jazz pickup), I was doing the last minor adjustments for the pickup height and getting the first inclination that I loved the way the pickups sounded.

Once I had the pickup height adjusted for my ear, I plugged it into a Peavey Vypyr 15 and started rolling through the amp’s modeling options. Where most bridge pickups are very bright, the Nazgûl was loaded with way more bass, but there were still highs coming through nicely. It was articulate, with no fuzzing of the notes when I played single-note lines unless I wanted them to blend, and everything had an authority – an oomph – to it. When I started playing punk power chords, I fell in love with the pickup. It’s exactly what I look for in a bridge humbucker when distorted.

Because the Nazgûl was meant for high-gain duties, clean settings were pushed by the pickup outside normal headroom levels, giving quite a bit of overdrive if you used anything but the lightest touch and your guitar’s volume knob to to tone it down. I wasn’t upset, though, because where the Nazgûl starts to show weakness in clean settings, the Sentient jumps in to help.

Like I said, the Sentient was designed to be a mixture of vintage PAF and modern sounds, and it’s obviously not their more vintage-minded pickup, but it blends nicely with the Nazgûl to smooth some of he rough edges the Nazgûl is capable of delivering alone, but when you switch to the Sentient alone, that’s where I found some sweet sounds. Where the Nazgûl and it’s mission are simple to wrap your head around and achieve as a player, I found myself spending a lot more time dialing in the Sentient to see what it can do. Every guitar I have will eventually do jazz, and it needed to figure out how close to my dream jazz tone I could work this pickup. The result was pretty surprising. For a pickup that was mainly meant for rock, I was able to adjust my attack and work my volume and tone knobs to get a really nice jazz sound that worked for single notes and chords. I’m not saying it turned my Les Paul into an ES-350, but it made for a very serviceable clean sound in what would be tasked 90% of the time to do rock and metal tones.

The Nazgûl and Sentient go together incredibly well and I found myself using my pickup selector a LOT more when playing because the difference in tones are so great between them, that they lend themselves to specific passages. When anything does that, it opens up new doors writing-wise and is very exciting to me. The Sentient has a great deal of potential for a player willing to experiment with it because it can function in a variety of tones. The Nazgûl is just flat-out fun. There’s a lot to be said about chugging away on power chords and having them sound full and thick rather than thin and whiny.

Just listen to these sound samples I recorded to demonstrate how the pickups sound in different applications:

Here is a sample of single notes played without distortion:

Here is a sample of chords played with as little distortion as possible:

Here is a sample of single notes played with distortion:

And finally, here is a sample of chords being played with distortion:

If you’re looking for high-gain alternatives to install in your guitar, I recommend these wholeheartedly.

Be sure to visit your local Seymour Duncan dealer to order yours!

byline picBy Pappy

When I started playing seven-string guitars, pickup options were limited. Now, there are significantly more options for these guitars, but there are still less than six-string pickups because, like it or not, the 7+ string market it still …

Click here to comment

Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 Sneak Preview by Toshi Yanagi


US based Xotic Effects make a whole range of excellent pedals with their main focus on a range of drive and preamp pedals. This video sneak peek was just released of the new Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 and it sounds fantastic.

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It has 4 control knobs on the side of the Wah for treble, bass, WahQ and Bias, I’ll be interested to find out exactly how the bias control affects the sound. Other features include a fuzz friendly buffering circuit, LED and a boost control.

The pedal is due for release next month, for more info – http://www.xotic.us/effects/


US based Xotic Effects make a whole range of excellent pedals with their main focus on a range of drive and preamp pedals. This video sneak peek was just released of the new Xotic Effects Wah XW-1 and it sounds …

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Carvin custom shop bling options, Zebrawood fretboards and Gold frets

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Carbon have added stunning Zebrawood fretboards to their custom shop options and if they weren’t fancy enough for you how about Gold frets? Yes I know they aren’t in the photo above those are SS frets, sorry they didn’t supply me with a photo so just put a gold sweet wrapper over your own frets to see how that might look. Also before you get too excited they aren’t made of gold, they are gold coloured German-made Jescar EVO gold fretwire, which is a nickel-free copper alloy similar in color to 12k gold.

“…it will not turn brassy or show discoloration. It’s almost as hard as our stainless steel frets and has a glass-like feel, with a rating of HV 250 (+/-20) on the Vickers hardness scale it will hold up to years of playing.”

Carvin say, “Zebrawood has a very unique and high end look with its heavy dark streaking and pattern, it’s tonal qualities are similar to rosewood.”

For more info check out http://www.carvinworld.com/

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Carbon have added stunning Zebrawood fretboards to their custom shop options and if they weren’t fancy enough for you how about Gold frets? Yes I know they aren’t in the photo above those are SS frets, sorry they didn’t supply …

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Ibanez add 2 new models to the Iron Label Series

Ibanez RGIT27FE
Ibanez have further expanded their popular metal focussed Iron Label series with 2 new models, the RGIT20FE and a 7 string version called the RGIT27FE (photo above). As you can see the body features a blue stain finish that shows how the neck has been constructed from 7 pieces of Maple & Walnut and using neck through construction creating a strong center block to which Ash wings are attached. 

The blue finish is incredibly vibrant and striking which I really like although it seems to be moving the Iron Label series back into regular RG Series territory which, I think ultimately is a shame as they had created this cool niche series from black and white guitars and now it seems they are cashing in on the popularity and diluting the impact a little.

Both the RGIT20FE and RGIT27FE feature Ebony fretboards, EMG 61 & 81 humbuckers, a kill switch, Gotoh Magum lock machine heads and an Ibanez Gibraltar Standard II bridge as you would expect from the Iron Label series, for more information check out Ibanez’s website:
RGIT20FE
RGIT27FE

Ibanez RGIT27FE
Ibanez have further expanded their popular metal focussed Iron Label series with 2 new models, the RGIT20FE and a 7 string version called the RGIT27FE (photo above). As you can see the body features a blue stain finish that shows …

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PRS Guitars Announces New Small Batch Run – The Brushstroke 24

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Press Release
(STEVENSVILLE, MD) August 13, 2014 – Based on Paul’s Guitar, the guitar that Paul Reed Smith is currently playing in the studio and on the stage, the Brushstroke 24 is lacking neither tone nor style. This limited edition model carries over a familiar carved, figured maple top with mahogany back wood combination, the unique “brushstroke” bird inlay design, and adds 24-fret, tremolo versatility to the Core Paul’s Guitar model.

The pickups deliver a full range of tones from sweet, clean highs to full, alive mids and driven lows, and the electronics configuration consists of two narrow 408 pickups with a 3-way toggle switch. Two mini-toggle switches, situated between the volume and tone controls, allow players to move between humbucking and single coil tones with no volume loss when switching from full to single coils for maximum versatility.

“The Brushstroke 24 is where visionary art and master craftsmanship meet,” said Jack Higginbotham, President of PRS Guitars. “This limited edition, with its elegant brushstroke bird inlay pattern and tonally versatile electronic package, is striking and performance ready regardless of whether the venue is a major concert arena or an intimate living room practice session.”

Color options for this small batch run include some of PRS Guitars most popular maple top options: Aquableux, Black Gold, Blood Orange, Faded Whale Blue, Jade, Obsidian, Red Tiger, Violet. For full specifications, visit http://www.prsguitars.com/brushstroke24

Fewer than 200 of these instruments will be made for this small batch run.

image
Press Release
(STEVENSVILLE, MD) August 13, 2014 – Based on Paul’s Guitar, the guitar that Paul Reed Smith is currently playing in the studio and on the stage, the Brushstroke 24 is lacking neither tone nor style. This limited edition …

Click here to comment

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