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Summer NAMM 2015: New Earthquaker Devices Pedals

Tentacle • Analog Octave Up
MAP: $125.00 USD

The Tentacle is a classic analog octave up effect taken from the Earthquaker Devices Hoof Reaper pedal who received so many requests to make it a stand-alone unit that they just decided to make it a reality. Check out the demo below:

Dunes • Mini Mega Ultimate Overdrive
MAP: $185.00 USD

The Dunes is a condensed version of Earthquaker’s popular Palisades pedal (ED’s take on the classic 808 overdrive). It features the same Gain, Tone and Level controls along with EarthQuaker’s favorite voice and bandwidth settings as well as the “Normal/Bright” toggle. The selectable voices are: “MOSFET” for a tight crunchy sound (Setting 3 on the Palisades), “Silicon” for the classic 808 sound (Setting 5 on the Palisades) and “None” which goes from clean boost to gritty, pure opamp distortion with a massive volume boost (Setting 1 on the Palisades). The two bandwidth settings are “stock” for the classic tone (Setting 3 on the Palisades) and “full range” for more low end (Setting 5 on the Palisades). The Dunes has all the great tone of the big boy Palisades but with a simplified interface and a smaller footprint

http://earthquakerdevices.com/

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Source Audio Vertigo Tremolo Pedal Announced

source audio vertigo tremolo
Press Release
Source Audio has released the Vertigo Tremolo, a powerful tremolo pedal with three onboard tremolo effects, stereo inputs and outputs, tap tempo (with Source Audio’s external tap tempo switch), and MIDI functionality when coupled with the Neuro Hub (formerly the Soundblox Hub). The Vertigo is the first pedal in Source Audio’s new One Series line of effects.

The One Series is a collection of streamlined, plug-and-play ready pedals with enhanced editing and preset saving capabilities when connected to Source Audio’s Neuro Mobile App (a free download for iOS and (coming soon) Android). “During our company’s ten year existence, we’ve come to understand how musicians interact with their effects,” says Source Audio President, Roger Smith. “There’s really a very wide spectrum – at one end there are the players who like to simply grab a pedal, plug it in and have it sound great. On the other end there are those who want to dig deep and intensely sculpt their sound. With the Vertigo Tremolo and the rest of the pedals in the One Series line, we truly believe that we’ve created a group of effects that will excite and inspire both sides of the spectrum and everybody in-between.”

The Vertigo offers three distinct tremolo effects. Normal tremolo delivers a precise renewal of the thumping “opto trem” amplitude modulation found in vintage Blackface Fenders. Harmonic tremolo revives the gentle sway of the Fender Super’s “Vibrato” effect from the early 60s – this vintage tremolo ping-pongs between a low and high frequency boost, creating a swinging phaser-ish effect. The mildly overdriven Bias tremolo creates the swampy “bias wiggle” of early tube bias modulation. The Vertigo takes the tonal possibilities a step further with its Shape knob that allows users to morph the tremolo’s wave shape from square, to sine or opto, to sawtooth.

Out of the box, the Vertigo Tremolo offers tremendous tonal range, but when connected to the Neuro Mobile App, the Vertigo gains additional functionality and effect possibilities. The Neuro App provides access to Source Audio’s free library of progressive tremolo patterns and hybrid modulation effects – each additional effect can be tweaked and stored in the user’s personal library of presets, shared with other Vertigo owners, or burned directly to the pedal. The App also offers an extended set of adjustable parameters including parametric EQ, wet/dry mix, tap tempo, low cut, and stereo separation.

The Vertigo also works with several of Source Audio’s external controllers and can receive MIDI messages. Plugging the Source Audio Tap Tempo Switch into the pedal’s Sensor Input engages the Vertigo’s tap tempo function. The tap tempo rate can also break down into beat divisions: quarter notes (one pulse per tap), eighth notes, triplets, and 16th notes. Similarly, the Vertigo’s tremolo rate will sync to MIDI clock messages sent from digital recording software via the Vertigo’s USB port or the Neuro Hub. External expression control is also possible with Source Audio’s Dual Expression Pedal as well as the Hot Hand 3 Universal Effects Controller. Expression control can be assigned to a single parameter or multiple parameters simultaneously. When coupled with the Neuro Hub, the Vertigo is fully MIDI compatible, giving the pedal the power to save up to 128 presets easily recalled via MIDI program change (PC) messages.

http://www.sourceaudio.net/products/one_series/vertigo_tremolo.php

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James Ivanyi Demos The Friedman BE-100


Friedman amps really don’t need any introduction, Dave Friedman has become a legend in the guitar industry thanks to his company Rack Systems Ltd. building incredible rigs for the likes of Steve Lukather, Jerry Cantrell, Slash and Joe Bonamassa. Aside from his legendary rack and rig building company Dave Friedman also makes amazing amplifiers including signature models for Steve Stevens and Jerry Cantrell.

FriedmanBe100

The BE-100 is the modded plexi head that has become one of the most sought after amps over the past few years, I had the chance to play one over at the Cilia Guitars workshop a couple of months ago and it is definitely worth the hype! Until now there haven’t been any metal demos of the Friedman BE-100 (at least I haven’t seen one) but I think this is the ultimate metal demo for Friedman from yet another incredible Aussie talent (see my earlier post on PLINI for another), James Norbert Ivanyi. Every time I hear James Ivanyi play I am stunned, he has incredible accuracy and a writes impossibly complicated riffs and yet he can play beautiful melodic passages too so he needs an amp that does it all. From what I experienced the Friedman has an incredible amount of gain on tap when you need it but cleans up nicely using the guitar volume, it is touch sensitive yet an absolute monster. Great demo Mr Ivanyi!

http://friedmanamplification.com/

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PLINI & The Helix Nebula Australian Tour Announced

Plini, one of the most exciting instrumental guitar players to emerge over the past few years, has teamed up with fellow Aussies The Helix Nebula (another band overflowing with talent) for a tour – “The End Of Everything” Australian Tour.

Press Release
After years tucked away creating bedroom epics, PLINI has emerged as a living & breathing musical entity, set to embark on his first Australian headlining tour this August. PLINI will be joined on stage by the powerhouse drum-sensation that is Troy Wright and a selection of members from the tour’s special guests THE HELIX NEBULA, who will also be supplying their flavour of technical wizardry every night.

Following a recent sold-out live debut in Sydney (check YouTube for a taster) and a special appearance in England for the UK Tech-Fest, PLINI will present an array of material from his Trilogy of EPs at concerts in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

The wildly-positive reaction to his first two EPs (“Other Things” and “Sweet Nothings”) led to enthusiastic contributions to the trilogy’s finale, “The End of Everything”, by renowned prog-virtuosi Marco Minnemann (drummer for Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson) and Chris Letchford (Scale The Summit). Experiencing these compositions as performed by some of Australia’s finest young musicians is a wild ride that will stir happiness in the heart of any fan of guitar-playing, prog, metal, fusion or post-rock.

What began as a two-piece studio project, THE HELIX NEBULA has now evolved into a monstrous quartet, bringing on tour for the first time their fierce blend of ridiculous complexity and masterful musicianship as documented on the debut EP “Meridian”.

plini-tour

In case you can’t read my resized flyer here are the dates and also links for tickets:

Friday 14th August – Sydney – The Factory Floor
http://bit.ly/PliniSYD
Sunday 16th August – Brisbane – Crowbar
http://bit.ly/PliniBNE
Friday 21st August – Adelaide – Enigma Bar
http://bit.ly/PliniADL
Saturday 22nd August – Melbourne – The Workers Club
http://bit.ly/PliniMEL

Plini – ‘The End Of Everything’ Full EP Stream:

The Helix Nebula – ‘Meridian’ Full EP Stream:

https://www.facebook.com/Plini
https://www.facebook.com/thehelixnebula

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Kiesel Passive Lithium Series Pickups

kiesel-lithium-pickups
Kiesel Guitars have recently announced their new line of passive Lithium Series to coincide with the rebrand of Carvin Custom Shop Guitars to Kiesel… at least I think that’s what they’ve done. The Kiesel Lithium pickups have been used in some of Carvin/Kiesel’s new models such as the DC800 and Vader. Bridge and neck models are available, in 6, 7 and 8 string configurations.

“Lithium Series humbucker pickups were made for the demanding modern music where clarity, focus and articulation is needed. From standard to drop tuning, this series offers great versatility and has an excellent balance between power and clarity. Patented six point star headed (also known as Torx) adjustable pole pieces give the proper amount of mass to add the needed focus and get amazing attack. The expensive Alnico V magnets produce a rich, powerful sound with warmth that is not available from less expensive ceramic magnets. The Kiesel pickups were designed in house and are proudly made in our Southern California Custom Shop. These feature one coil loaded with adjustable pole pieces and the other coil loaded with non-adjustable slugs.”

The Lithium pickups are available in black, white, cream and zebra coils (white/black or cream/black). The 6-string versions can also be ordered with black or cream mounting bezels.

For more info: http://www.carvinguitars.com/group/kiesel_passive_pickups.

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Victory Amps VX The Kraken – 50 Watt High Gain Amp

Victory The Kraken
Victory Amps are continuing to expand their lineup this time with a high gain 50 watt head called the ‘VX The Kraken’. This amp is switchable down from 50 watts to 15, 9 or 2 watts making it a very versatile amp for gigging as well as home use. The VX The Kraken is powered by 4 x 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 x 6L6 power tubes.

“Two footswitchable modes cover classic modified British rock sounds and contemporary American high-gain grind.”

A useful feature are the dual footswitchable master volumes so that you can maybe use the 2nd volume as a lead channel. There is also another footswitch input that switches between the 2 gain modes. Aside from these 2 features you can also switch the effects loop on and off too, so lots of control available with your feet. Finally there is a Bass Focus switch to create a tighter, more focussed bottom end, or if you prefer, more loose and resonant.

Victory Amps VX The Kraken Rear Panel:
Victory VXH rear panel

Lots of features on the Victory Amps VX The Kraken especially considering it is only 342mm(w) x 185mm(h) x 185mm(d), although it still weighs in at 8.2kg but that’s tube amps for you!

For more info head over to http://www.victoryamps.com/.

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Diamond Amplification & Custom Audio Electronics Jointly Develop the Dual Amp Selector

Dual Amp Selector
The Dual Amp Selector is a new product from a joint venture between Diamond Amplification and Bob Bradshaw’s Custom Audio Electronics. I have actually been looking online over the past week or so for something that will allow me to switch between two amps into a single speaker cabinet and then I suddenly get an email about the Dual Amp Selector, sounds ideal!

“For years, guitar players have wanted a way to switch heads into one cabinet (or even two cabinets run in parallel) to expand what they can do live, or even make things much more convenient at home, but there simply hasn’t been an effective, or quality solution,” stated Diamond’s President and CEO, Jeff Diamant. “The Dual Amp Selector allows a player to safely connect two amps to one cabinet and switch between them with the click of a switch and give them access to the full array of tones from both amps,” Diamant continued.

The Dual Amp Selector boasts a healthy array of features including: switch two amps (including combos) into a single cabinet, passive and buffered inputs, two parallel speaker outs, footswitchable, separate “direct” out, isolated outputs, high-end components and construction and the ability to use it for tube or solid state amps through an on-board switch. As important, the Dual Amp Selector poses no risk to either amplifier with trailing effects, which other devices warn against.

And most importantly, the Dual Amp Selector is made completely in the US in Diamond’s Houston Custom Shop and priced to compete with a $399 street price.

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TC Electronic PolyTune Plug-In Released

“TC Electronic announces PolyTune plug-in, the new polyphonic tuner plug-in for the recording musician.”

I’m a huge TC Electronic fan, the PolyTune Mini (and previously the PolyTune) has had a permanent place on my pedalboard ever since it was released. Now TC Electronic have announced a plug-in version of their polyphonic tuner so that you can launch it directly from within your DAW. Now I have mixed feelings about this (for the first time in TC history) only because almost every Amp Sim plugin that I use has a built in tuner. I think they might actually find it a bit tricky to sell this plugin which has an introductory price of $39 and a regular price is $49. But having said that it does have features that no other tuner plugin have:

  • Polyphonic Tuner
  • Chromatic Tuner (+/- 0.5 cent)
  • Up to 5 semi-tones flat tunings
  • Change pitch reference
  • Mute button for silent tuning
  • Support for Audio Units-, VST and AAX-plug-in formats

For more info – http://www.tcelectronic.com/polytune-plug-in

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Gear demo: Xotic USA SP Compressor


I was first introduced to the Xotic USA SP Compressor watching the excellent YouTube channel Daniel TheGigRig, in case you haven’t seen Daniel’s videos please check out his channel as Daniel really knows his stuff and is the creator of the amazing looking GigRig G2 switching system. This man knows effects so when I see and hear a pedal on one of his demo boards I sit up and listen. I have owned an Xotic BB+ Overdrive pedal in the past so I am well aware of the quality of their effects and wanted to experience the SP Compressor for myself to see if it would live up to the hype, I can say with all honesty it didn’t take very long for me to realise that yes, it does.

SP_Compressor-1

Mini pedals are a growing trend and with good reason in my opinion, if you can pack all of the features into a smaller enclosure guitarists can either use much smaller pedalboards making it easier to transport, or more importantly, can squeeze more effects onto their boards! The SP Compressor is tiny, as you will see in the video above it is roughly the same size as the TC Electronic PolyTune Mini and is deceptively, yet reassuringly heavy. The one thing that has always bothered me about Compressor pedals is how complicated they are, no two pedals use the same terminology (even though studio rack effects do) and some have 6, 7 or more controls on the pedal face. Xotic have managed to distil the most important features of compression into a simple yet powerful user interface, a Volume knob with +15dB of boost and a Blend knob that controls the amount of dry signal blended into your signal enhancing the initial attack of the sound that can be lost with heavy compression. Finally a mini toggle switch sets the amount of compression to be applied, Lo/Med or Hi.

I am not someone who uses a lot of heavy compression so I found the Hi setting too much for me, it introduces too much noise and loses any subtlety in your playing. Of course this can be very useful sometimes especially for funk playing but for me the sweet spot was having the Blend at around 1 O’Clock and the Lo or in some cases the Med mode engaged. The internal dip switches allow you to tweak the sound further using the low cut filter and input pad switches to lower the amount of distortion caused by my guitar’s humbuckers and giving them more of a spanky single coil sound. I have tried to convey this as best as possible in my demo video above. I found with this setting that my clean tone was incredibly articulate and it made me play in a different way, it was like having my amp absolutely cranked so that you can hear every touch of the strings. Whether I had the SP Compressor setup with a totally clean tone or with Overdrive, in the Lo mode with the dry Blend at around half way I felt like it unlocked the potential of my rig without deafening my neighbours.

I have used Compression a lot when recording using plugins but have never found a Compressor pedal that I have felt comfortable adding to my pedalboard before (I own a few!) but I have to say the SP Compressor is the first pedal I can see having as a permanent addition to my pedalboard. The pedal works equally well when placed before an Overdrive pedal too and added yet another great tone to my clean channel. So yes, I do think this pedal is worth any hype that it has received since it was released and while it may lack all the bells and whistles of some of the other complex Compressor pedals on the market it delivers with it’s simplicity and more importantly tone. I hope that my YouTube video does it the justice it deserves because the combination of my Cilia CGA7 guitar with Seymour Duncan SH-2 & SH-16 humbuckers and my MI Audio Megalith Gamma amp is magnificent.

http://main.xotic.us/effects/sp-compressor

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The Quest For The Perfect Pick – Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra

Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted
When I first picked up the guitar I had a Charvel pick that I bought from One Way Music in Wolverhampton which I’m pretty sure I used for about 2 years!? I honestly can’t remember what I replaced it with but it was probably the same pick, a hard glossy standard sized guitar pick. No frills, nothing special and you know what? I was perfectly content. Then something happened to me, I became consumed with the evil that is guitar pick obsession syndrome and in the last 6 or 7 years I have tried hundreds of different picks trying to find “The One”. My quest started with variations of Dunlop standard sized picks that had varying thickness and material, Delrin, Celluloid, Tortex, Ultex… I also tried many other manufacturers such as Red Bear (great picks but super expensive), Graph Tech, Dava, V Picks, the list goes on and on and on.

Over the past couple of years the picks that I have been gravitating toward are Ultex and Celluloid, I have a heap of different shape Ultex picks but never really get on with default Jazz III size so tend to stick with standard size or Jazz III XL. I am constantly trying new picks to get something similar to the Red Bear without the hefty price tag and wait time and recently purchased a few Graph Tech picks from BMusic Australia in the hope that their self-lubricating composite material might have that tortoise-shell smooth attack, now unfortunately they don’t and I wasn’t particularly that impressed however BMusic were kind enough to throw in a heap of other picks for me to try including the ‘Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra’. Bit of a mouthful that one and kind of confusing because the original Dunlop Primetone picks (which they still make) are completely different material, look, shape, everything!

The Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra (or Picks) that I received that took my fancy were the standard size and shape (as opposed to the Jazz III or Triangle shape) without the grip, I tried the grip variation which has a raised logo and is kind of similar to a Dunlop MaxGrip but surprisingly the other pick felt more comfortable and had enough grip. I do suffer from having trouble keep picks steady between my fingers so I thought the grip version would be preferable but Ultex is quite a grippy material once your hands warm up a little. The best thing however about these picks is that they don’t actually feel like the Ultex picks I’ve used over the years they have a glossy finish that feels more like Celluloid or the Red Bears. The “hand-burnished sculpted edges” mean the picks already feel broken in and aid with the smoothness of attack as you pick, the string doesn’t have any sharp edges to get momentarily caught on making it easier to pick with more speed.

Now these picks aren’t the cheapest Dunlop picks but you can buy, packs of 3 for AUD $12.95 from BMusic or if you are in the states you will probably find them in your local guitar store. However, if these picks really do become “The One” for me then at least they won’t bankrupt me unlike some of the boutique guitar picks on the market… I’ll keep you posted, but if the last few days are anything to go by I’m feeling pretty hopeful about these!

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