Farmland FX SIMO Supa Fuzz

Nashville-based guitarist JD Simo is a vintage guitar fanatic. He plays vintage guitars, vintage amps, and when he uses effects they are generally vintage. (He’s even started a vintage-focused guitar blog.)

One of the vintage effects he likes a lot is the Marshall Supa Fuzz, which can be very expensive to purchase if you can find them anymore. To make it easier to find this type of fuzz pedal, Simo has worked with long-time Warren Haynes guitar tech and Farmland FX owner Brian Farmer to create the Farmland FX SIMO Supa Fuzz, which appears to be a faithful reproduction of the original Supa Fuzz.

Check out Simo talking about and demoing the pedal:

The pedal is currently available from Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville.

Posted in: Effects

PRS SE Bass Guitars: Kingfisher and Kestrel

PRS have released new basses to their popular SE import line. The basses are called the Kingfisher and the Kestrel:

Designed in PRS’s Maryland shop, the Kingfisher and Kestrel both feature neck through construction for sustain and evenly balanced tone, but are very distinctive instruments.

The SE Kingfisher is a huge-sounding bass with distinct old-school tonal character that delivers that huge “clacky” tone missing from some modern basses. Featuring a Swamp Ash body, 24 fret maple/walnut neck, and 34” scale length, this bass is instantly comfortable for players old and new. Kingfisher (4B ‘H’) proprietary pickups are deep, thick-sounding humbuckers with plenty of top end clarity and punch. The sparkling highs and the Kingfisher’s high midrange growl allow the bass to cut through the mix while holding down the band with its sweet warm fundamental tone. The SE Kingfisher bass will be offered in a variety of finishes, including Natural, Scarlet Red, and Tortoise Shell. For full specifications, videos, and audio samples, visit http://www.prsguitars.com/sekingfisher.

The SE Kestrel takes a traditional singlecoil bass platform and adds PRS’s fit, finish, and attention to detail, delivering a new take on a classic instrument. Starting with an Alder body, 22 fret maple/walnut neck, and 34” scale length, the Kestrel is instantly familiar. A modern bridge allows you the choice of strings through the bridge or the body to yield even more tonal possibilities. Kestrel (4B ‘S’) pickups are extremely punchy and focused, giving players the ability to walk a low-mid focused blues line, articulate a high-mid focused fretless part rich with harmonics, nail the scooped midrange and sweet top-end sound slappers favor, and wield a razor sharp blistering rock bassline. This bass has growl to burn! The SE Kestrel will be offered in Black, Metallic Red, and Tri-Color Sunburst. For full specifications, videos, and audio samples, visit http://www.prsguitars.com/sekestrel.

“I have been a gigging bass player for 23 years and working at PRS for 17, so I have been not only highly involved but personally engaged in the design and prototyping process of these basses from the beginning. Working with Doug Shive, our SE Project Manager, Paul Smith, and the rest of the team here has been a rewarding, collaborative process. I am truly proud to not only sell the SE basses but am inspired to play them for many years to come. They really are wonderful instruments,” Jim Cullen, PRS Guitars National Sales Manager.

PRS Guitars SE line began in 2001 in an effort to bring high quality, high value guitars to the market. Starting with great design from the PRS Maryland, USA shop and developed with partners overseas, the SE line marries the highest quality components with a rigorous process that ensures playability and dependability. All SE products that are shipped in the USA are individually inspected and play tested at PRS’s Maryland facility before shipping to dealers.

Posted in: Basses, Videos

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Anthony Stauffer and TrueFire: 50 Monster SRV Guitar Licks You Must Know

Anthony Stauffer of Texas Blues Alley has recently created a course for TrueFire called 50 Monster SRV Guitar Licks You Must Know.

Learning SRV ’s licks note-for-note will only get you halfway there, but understanding the underlying harmonic approaches and technical construction of those licks will take you all the way home. And that’s precisely how Anthony Stauffer approaches his presentation of 50 Monster SRV Licks You MUST Know.

Anthony delivers so much more than a versatile, head-turning collection of SRV-inspired lickage — the course reveals the underlying vocabulary, signature phrasing, right and left-hand techniques and harmonic approaches that power Stevie Ray Vaughn’s consummate chops and distinctive sound.

Since starting Stevie Snacks/Texas Blues Alley in 2007, Anthony has been making a name for himself as one of the premier Texas blues guitar educators on the Internet both on his own site as well as with TrueFire, and this course looks like an excellent addition to his catalog.

Posted in: Education, Videos

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Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face Mini

Dunlop and Joe Bonamassa have recently teamed up to create a new, smaller version of Bonamassa’s signature fuzz face, called appropriately enough the Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face mini:

The FFM4 Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face Mini Distortion delivers the same thick, creamy fuzz tones as its big brother but in a much smaller housing with several upgrades for modern convenience. Equipped with NOS Russian military germanium transistors, the FFM4 sports replica top hat knobs and a rich gloss black finish. A bright status LED, an AC power jack, and a battery door bring modern convenience to a classic sound, and like all Fuzz Face pedals, the FFM4 features true bypass switching.

I’ve heard good things about the full-size Bonamassa signature fuzz as well as the fuzz face minis that came out a little while ago, and I’m glad to see them create a smaller version of Bonamassa’s signature fuzz for those of us with pedal board space issues. I’m definitely interested in checking one of these out at some point.

jb-fuzzfacemini

Posted in: Effects

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Gibson Memphis ES-390 with P90s

es-390-wildwood

Photo credit: Wildwood Guitars

Last year Gibson introduced the ES-390 model, which a smaller-bodied version of its fully hollow ES-330 guitar. The ES-390 shares the same body size as the ES-339, which is a smaller-bodied version of the ES-335 model. I own a ES-339 and find it much more comfortable than the larger body size of the ES-335 and the ES-330. At roughly the same size as a Les Paul, it’s a very comfortable guitar. It’s actually much more comfortable than my Les Paul.

When the ES-390 was introduced, it included Gibson mini-humbuckers rather than the P90s found in the ES-330. I can’t really attest to how the mini-humbuckers sound, but I was disappointed that it didn’t have P90s like the ES-330 that it’s based on.

Other people must have agreed because this year Gibson introduced a version of the ES-390 with P90s. I’m really curious to hear how the combination of the fully hollow smaller body and the P90s sound in person.  Here’s Greg Koch demoing the guitar at this past Winter NAMM show:

I’ve been interested in P90-equipped guitars lately, and if I were in the market to buy another guitar, this one would definitely be on the list to check out.

Posted in: Guitars

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The Song or the Gear?

I have a confession to make. When I hear a song I like on the radio or online, I oftentimes become more interested in the gear being used than the song itself. As a gear hound, it’s almost instinctive. I’m not proud of this.

In some ways, learning about the gear can be inspiring. It may open up new possibilities in your mind about gear you already own or help you find the sound you hear in your head.

But, all too often, I find that it’s a distraction rather than an inspiration. I get caught up in acquiring the gear of a song I like rather than trying to apply the techniques that make the song appealing to my own playing. I may spend hours watching demo videos, looking up information, and trying to find the best price for a piece of gear when I could have spent that time playing and improving myself.

Moreover, it is my contention that “normal” people, i.e. non-musicians, don’t listen to a song for its tonal characteristics. They simply want to hear good music, whatever that means to them. A good song played on mediocre gear is going to go farther than a bad song played on the best gear.

I love gear, and I love pursuing the tones I hear in my head, but I’m trying to make a conscious effort not to let the pursuit of gear get in the way of making music. And isn’t making music the reason why we picked up the guitar in the first place?

Posted in: General

Carter Vintage Guitars

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Carter Vintage Guitars here in Nashville. The shop was opened last year by Walter and Christie Carter, both longtime employees of Gruhn Guitars, so they bring a vast amount of experience with vintage instruments to Carter Vintage Guitars.

The shop is a welcoming place with some incredible guitars hanging on the walls and on stands around the building. Near just about every guitar in the building is a seat just inviting you to grab something off the wall and play for a while.

I’ve been in other shops where you weren’t really allowed to touch anything without having an employee first take the guitar from the wall and put plastic on it. I can understand this position, as you don’t want a customer damaging a high-priced instrument. However, it’s frustrating, and a bit jarring, if you don’t know the rules and you touch something only to have an employee chide you for touching an instrument.

This is not the case at Carter Vintage Guitars. I was looking at some of the guitars, and one of the owners stopped by and told me to play anything I wanted in the store.

And, to be clear, this is not a shop where there are a bunch of sub-$1,000 guitars hanging around and a few “good” ones. At Carter, they’re all good ones. I only recall seeing a couple of instruments that were less than $1,000. The rest were more, and in some cases much more. For example, they had a pre-war Martin 000-45 that had a price tag of $125,000 and a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom priced at $60,000.

As you might expect, the Martin was stored in a case, but the Les Paul Custom was hanging on the wall and could be played by anyone, including me:

Les Paul

These are just a few examples of the types of vintage instruments that Carter keeps in stock. There were many other Gibsons and Martins, as well as Fenders, Gretschs, and Guilds, among many other brands.

If you find yourself in the Nashville area, I highly recommend checking out Carter Vintage Guitars. Be prepared to spend some time in there, though, because you won’t want to leave.

Posted in: General

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The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar that Changed Rock

Gibson Les Paul Book Cover

Voyageur Press has recently released a new book about the Les Paul by Dave Hunter, titled The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar that Changed Rock:

Starting with the Les Paul’s history and origins, the book traces the history and evolution of the guitar, from its 1952 introduction to the present day. In addition to the Standards and Customs that guitarists admire so much, author Hunter provides ample coverage of variations like Juniors, Specials, and SGs. The full history is presented in depth—with rare photos of guitars, gear and players—getting into the design and manufacturing from the early years to today. The evolution of the neck, pickups, and body are also explored, for the various models.

Included are profiles and great photos of players who famously played Les Pauls, in addition to the greats listed above. These include Joe Perry, Peter Frampton, Paul Kossoff, Keith Richards, Hubert Sumlin, Mike Bloomfield, and many others. The profiles contain details on the player’s favorite Les Pauls, recorded output and more.

There’s more than 400 images including studio shots of the guitars, rare blueprints and sketches, candid and performance photography of the musicians and a large collection of relevant memorabilia.

I received this book a few days ago, and I’ve been thumbing through it ever since. There are tons of great photographs, and a fairly detailed history of the Les Paul, from the introduction and collaboration between Ted McCarty and Les Paul to the changes made to the instrument throughout the years. The artist profiles, while necessarily brief, include some great photographs and details about the artist’s use of the Les Paul.

If you’re interested at all in the Les Paul or its history, I think you’ll enjoy this book. The history portions are interwoven throughout the book among the artist profiles, so you can consume it in bite-sized chunks if you want or, like me, you might get so engrossed in it that you just keep reading.

You can purchase the book from Amazon or from your favorite bookseller.

Posted in: Reviews

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Anthony Stauffer Demos the Wampler Velvet Fuzz

My Internet pal Anthony Stauffer of Texas Blues Alley posted a video demo of the Wampler Velvet Fuzz pedal earlier this week. I first heard and saw the Velvet Fuzz pedal at last year’s Summer NAMM show, and it’s been on my radar ever since. It seems like a really versatile fuzz pedal that can also get fairly smooth.

Check out Anthony’s demo below. I think he does a good job of showing off what the pedal can do.

Posted in: Effects, Videos

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One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band

one-way-out

One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul is described as an oral history of the Allman Brothers Band and features interviews with current members of the band as well as former members, roadies, producers, and collaborators.

Tracking the band’s career from their 1969 formation to today, One Way Out is filled with musical and cultural insights, riveting tales of sometimes violent personality conflicts and betrayals, drug and alcohol use, murder allegations and exoneration, tragic early deaths, road stories, and much more, including the most in-depth look at the acrimonious 2000 parting with founding guitarist Dickey Betts and behind-the-scenes information on the recording of At Fillmore East, Layla, Eat A Peach, Brothers and Sisters, and other classic albums.

I recently finished reading this book, and I learned quite a bit about the band I hadn’t read anywhere else. The format of the book is a little different, and it was a little jarring at first. The book presents a topic and then includes a series of quotes from people who were involved or had knowledge of the topic being discussed. In this manner, you get all of the different perspectives of the topic rather than Paul’s own interpretation of the event. For example, it’s clear that Dickey and the band have different takes on his ouster from the band, and this book presents each of the perspectives in their own right.

If you’re a fan of the Allman Brothers Band, I would recommend checking out One Way Out.

Posted in: Reviews

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