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Jeff Loomis & Keith Merrow demonstrate Bias Desktop by Positive Grid


Jeff Loomis and Keith Merrow recently teamed up to create an exciting new instrumental Metal band called Conquering Dystopia which they are having a lot of success with, and rightly so!

In this video Keith & Jeff amp matched the original amp tones from Conquering Dystopia using Positive Grid’s new Bias Desktop plugin (check out my full review here) with amazing results.

“The amp matched tones were professionally engineered in Keith’s studio using the same mics and cabs used on the album. Jeff and Keith amp matching presets will soon be available for download on ToneCloud.”

The amp:
• Peavey 5150 (Signature) head, tube modded

The cab:
• Modded Randall ISO with 1×12 Vintage 30, upgraded baffling (Aurelex).
• Cab mic’d with Shure SM-57 (off-axis)

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New PRS All-Mahogany S2 Models

prs s2 mahogany
PRS have added 3 new guitars to their mid-priced, made in Maryland US, S2 range. Previously PRS boosted the range with 3 slick looking semi-hollow models which made the total up to 8 and the new all mahogany S2 models pushes that number up to 11, so clearly PRS feel that this is an important price bracket.

Here is more info from PRS about these new guitars:

Weeks before announcing their 2015 line up, PRS Guitars is introducing three new all-mahogany S2 Series guitars: the S2 Standard 24, S2 Standard 22, and S2 Singlecut Standard. These guitars feature the subtle aesthetic of mahogany and pickguard-mounted electronics for a vintage vibe with modern versatility and playability that is perfect for the gigging musician. All three models have solid mahogany bodies, set mahogany necks, versatile electronics, and tried-and-true PRS quality.

Known for its warm, woody tone, mahogany provides the S2 Standard models with a strong fundamental that has been built on to create guitars that play as well and sound as good plugged straight into an amp or run through a modern pedalboard setup. The set neck adds to the tone of these guitars by providing remarkable resonance and lasting sustain while the addition of PRS-designed pickups and push/pull tone controls gives players access to authentic singlecoil sounds in addition to strong, punchy humbucker tones.

The only 24-fret model in the lineup, the Standard 24 is a classic PRS reimaged for players who prefer a stripped-down approach to their music. The Standard 22 goes in a more vintage direction, but remains a bare-bones workhorse for the player who needs to cover a lot of ground with their music. The Singlecut Standard boasts a classic body shape and control layout, with volume and tone controls for each pickup and a 3-way toggle pickup switch on the upper bout, giving players plenty of options to dial in flawless tone.

As with all S2 Series guitars, the Standard models feature S2 locking tuners, PRS-designed bridges, as well as PRS nuts, frets, and strings. This means PRS fit, finish, and attention to detail all at a more affordable price. With solid build quality and versatile electronics platform, the S2 Standard lineup can effortlessly go from high gain punk and metal to low, bassy blues, making these guitars a solid choice for players who prefer a straightforward approach to a variety of different musical styles.

For full specifications and to see the rest of the S2 Series, visit www.prsguitars.com.

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Interview: Nili Brosh

nili-brosh-a-matter-of-perception
Nili Brosh has just released her second debut album, ‘A Matter Of Perception‘, an incredible instrumental guitar record featuring world class musicians that illustrates just how far she has come since her Berklee College days. I caught up with Nili while she had some downtime from her hectic schedule touring as guitarist in the Tony MacAlpine band to chat about ‘A Matter Of Perception‘.

GN: A lot has happened since the release of your debut album including touring extensively with Tony MacAlpine, how has this influenced your writing and playing for this record?

NB: I’m not sure how much it influenced the writing, because a great deal of it was actually done several years ago when I had just first met Tony… but I can tell you that the extensive touring, in addition to playing with so many high-caliber musicians has greatly improved my playing for sure. It’s hard to tell where my playing would’ve been today without the push that playing with Tony has given me, and I don’t even really want to think about it! I just know that it pushed me to a much higher level than I was at before, and I think it’s definitely audible in the difference between my first record (“Through The Looking Glass“) and my new one.

GN: You have also moved to 7 string guitar as your main instrument a while ago do you still play 6 string guitars?

NB: I actually don’t! I don’t even have any 6 string guitars in LA with me – they’re all left back at my parents’ house in Boston, nor do I own any 6 string Ibanez guitars to begin with. To be honest, since having switched to the 7 several years ago, I find it very difficult to play a 6. I always find myself trying to play lines that make their way down to a string that ends up not being there! Having the low B there has just become a very natural part of my playing now. However, when I do pick up a 6 string, I notice how much smaller the neck is, and it makes my hands feel like a giant’s! That part is cool in a silly kind of way… my hands are really not very big.

GN: So I assume all of the new tracks were written on a 7?

NB: Some of them were, some of there weren’t. As I said, much of the writing was done right around the time I met Tony and picked up a 7 string in the first place. However, the songs that weren’t written on a 7 evolved and were adapted to be played on one over time. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to play any of them on a 6 now…

GN: You’ve also recently switched to EMG pickups, were these used on the record?

NB: They were used on one song, I signed with EMG in January of this year, and most of the album was actually recorded during the summer of 2013. You can, however, hear my 57-66 EMG pickups on the song Yolanda, and on the live performance of Silence of Saturday and A Matter of Perception at EMGtv.

GN: What other gear was used on the new record?

NB: I mostly used my main rig, a Peavey JSX head with an Egnater Tourmaster 2×12 cabinet recorded with a variety of microphones. I take a very simple approach when it comes to guitar recording – I’ve always been pretty old-school as far as the “put the mic in front of the cab until you get a good tone” method goes. With the right mic’s and the right room, I believe it can work.

GN: You mentioned that these tracks were actually written a while ago, did you feel you needed to live with them for a while before committing to tape so to speak?

NB: Absolutely. The songs were in fact written (as far as a basic melody line and chord changes are concerned) a long time ago, but I wasn’t very happy with them until… pretty much the end of the recording process! I felt as though much rehashing and reworking on the lines and arrangements was necessary to really get these songs to come alive. It took a long time and it was a challenging creative process at times, but I’m very glad I took the time to go through it, because it can be extremely rewarding to go from the point of frustration to the point where you’re truly happy with the material. Not to mention, it makes it a lot more desirable to share it with the public at that point.

GN: The track Eli I immediately picked up on being a tribute to Jason Becker (Eli being his middle name), but interestingly the DLR era Becker (my favourite Becker material). Was this your “It’s Showtime!”?

NB: Yup – sure is! Good catch on your part! I’m not sure how many other people may have picked up on this, but it might have been a bit more obvious to people who have seen my “It’s Showtime!” YouTube cover from a few years back. The DLR era Becker is my favorite material of his too, and – as many others have done before me – I figured what better way to pay tribute to one of the greatests ever than writing an instrumental in the style of one of my favorite songs?

GN: You have some amazing musicians playing with you on this album such as Bryan Beller, Marco Minnemann and Virgil Donati. Have you played with any of these guys before?

NB: I have, in fact. Marco played a few songs on Tony MacAlpine’s last album (self-titled, 2011), and therefore he was the drummer on my very first gig with him, in July 2011. A few months later I was invited to sit in with The Aristocrats at their performance at Berklee College of Music, on a song Bryan wrote called “Cave Dweller” (you can see footage and hear Bryan talk about it in his interview in my album documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydyqMhSDB0A). That experience, as you might imagine, was one of the most memorable and exhilarating musical experiences I’ve ever had. As far as Virgil goes, we actually have a slightly longer history – I joined a band with him and Tony called Seven The Hardway in the beginning of 2011, and we’d rehearsed extensively but had never actually toured. So Virgil and I since joke about how we’ve played together so much, but have never played together. Soon, hopefully, we will get an opportunity.

GN: So were the tunes fully written when you had them record their parts?

NB: The basic ideas were all there, yes. Of course, the guys enhanced my demo rhythm section ideas greatly, which was my reasoning for hiring them. I knew how much these virtuosos had to bring to the table, obviously, and I wanted to use it as inspiration to rework the material and take it to the next level.
I gave all the players early demos of the material in the anticipation of wanting to hear what they give back to me and feed off of it before finalizing my parts. I looked at it as an opportunity to grow and collaborate as best I can without actually being in the same room with any of them. I knew that this was an incredible learning opportunity, and the key to making this record the best it could possibly be. In other words… these songs could’ve never been where they are today without these guys.

GN: The final track Yolanda reminded me of Andy Timmons but a little more jazzy, was this tune influenced by any guitarist in particular?

NB: Surprisingly enough, I can’t say that I can pinpoint it to any particular player. Yolanda is actually the oldest song on the record – I wrote it around 2008-2009, when I was still going to Berklee College of Music. I remember being slightly surprised at the time that I had come up with those ideas – being as they’re so different from what I usually write. My guess is it probably came about from the exposure my ears had to a lot of jazz at school back then.

GN: You have always been an extremely proficient guitar player but it does seem that since your time touring alongside Tony MacAlpine you have really developed technically and musically, do you feel that in yourself?

NB: Thank you! And yes, absolutely. Oddly enough, I have somewhat recently revisited a bunch of old videos of mine, an activity which usually results in a mixed bag of emotions for me: amusement, delight, embarrassment, searing pain… anyway, this coincidental, educational trip down memory lane led me to the conclusion that the year I met Tony, my playing clearly transformed completely. I don’t know if anyone else knows my playing well enough to be able to pinpoint it down to those particular few months, but to me it was very obvious. As I’ve mentioned earlier, It’s incredibly scary for me to wonder where my playing would have been today had I never had the great privilege of learning from him. I’m very lucky that things worked out the way they did.

NB: So what is next for you? Any Nili Brosh solo tour dates in the pipeline?

NB: Actually, yes! I’ve recently put together a band to play my solo material with for the first time since my first CD release party, FOUR years ago! We’re starting with some shows in California:

December 10th, 2014 at The Baked Potato in Los Angeles
December 11th, 2014 opening for Maragold at M15 in Corona, CA
December 13th, 2014 opening for Maragold at Ramona Mainstage in Ramona, CA

I will be posting more dates periodically as they come up, so I hope you keep in touch with me through my social media!

You can follow Nili Brosh on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and of course you can also keep track of her latest news, tour dates etc. on her website – http://www.nilibrosh.com/.

To purchase ‘A Matter Of Perception’ go to the Nili Brosh online store – http://nilibrosh.spinshop.com/.

Check out The Story Of A Matter Of Perception on Nili’s YouTube Channel:
Part 1
Part 2

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Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster

Squier vintage modified baritone jazzmaster
Press release
Tuned A to A and featuring the 30” scale length of a short-scale bass, it lends a rumbling baritone sonic character all its own to your sound and features the authentic vintage-style look of Fender’s seldom-seen Antigua finish, with a matching pickguard. Fingerboard binding and white pearloid block inlays impart even more elegance, and that deep one-of-a-kind twang rocks loud and clear from a pair of Dual Duncan Designed™ single-coil Jazzmaster pickups. All together, the Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster makes for a singularly exciting Squier playing experience.

For more information, and to locate a dealer near you, go to squierguitars.com.

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Equipboard.com – An artist gear database

Equipboard
Equipboard.com is a community-built database of artists and the gear they use, it is not only limited to guitarists but obviously this was the area of the site that interested me.

“Launched in late 2013, this growing community of gear-obsessed music fans have already made the connection between 13,147 products and 4,480 artists – everything from Jimi Hendrix’s guitars and amps to Aphex Twin’s arsenal of electronics.”

As an example I chose a guitarist who I know has some pretty impressive vintage gear, Robben Ford:
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As you can see you can follow an artist board for more updates, share buttons and some info about the artist’s band history. Below that are a list of guitars that have been added, below is another screen grab taken on my ipad of some of the guitars currently entered into the database:

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If you are a logged in member you can also add any missing pieces of the gear puzzle to your favourite artists! Below the guitars are of course amps, effects and other peripherals as you can see in the screenshot below:

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As a member you can click on the “save to your list” button under each piece of gear and either choose “I have it”, write a review and choose how many stars out of five to give it, or you can choose “I want it” to add to your equipment board for your profile.

I think Equipboard is a cool idea, it’s a visual wiki of artists and the guitars, amps & effects they have used throughout their career. I think a lot of guitarists will spend a lot of time checking out the gear porn on this site!

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Andy McKee’s Musicarium Camp

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I’ve reported on these music camps with top guitar players from around the world quite often, it definitely seems like a good source of income for the musicians and amazing experience for the attendees to get up close for a few days with masters of their craft and absorb as much as possible. This is the first acoustic camp I’ve seen and it features some incredible talent, Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour, Stephen Bennett. These guys are true innovators of modern acoustic fingerstyle music.

Press Release
Internationally renowned master acoustic guitarist Andy McKee has created “Andy McKee’s Musicarium”, his first ever music camp that will take place August 3rd through 7th 2015 at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY in the Catskill Mountains.

The 4-day experience will be an immersion in music, guitar playing and all things creative. Led by Andy with his handpicked guests and instructors including top players like Antoine Dufour, Stephen Bennett and Billy McLaughlin, plus a special appearance by master guitar builder Michael Greenfield, the ‘Musicarium’ will be filled with workshops, breakout sessions, jamming, open mics, concerts, and music in every way, shape or form. Additionally, camp sponsor Ernie Ball will be on hand to help set up participant’s guitars and also give a special presentation on the making of acoustic guitar strings.

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Registration for “Andy McKee’s Musicarium” is now open and packages can be purchased at the official website.

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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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