The Stratocaster is one of the most flexible guitars ever made. When compared to many Gibson models such as the Les Paul or SG, there is a dramatic difference with regard to your customization options. One of the most popular areas of focus for Stratocaster modification is the pickups. This change will have the most dramatic effect on your guitar’s sound. Now, while some may prefer vintage-style / low-output Stratocaster pickups, others may opt for noiseless or active models. There are a zillion options out there for pickups. Some good, some great, and some just plain awful.
Among the “great” options, the “right” pickup depends on not only your budget, but also your taste. This is a very subjective area and opinions differ. There are no right or wrong answers here, just what works best for you. Hopefully this list of some of the best Stratocaster pickups around, will help you get started in making this choice.
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This is an all-in-one package that is impressive. At the heart of the VG-99 are two completely independent signal paths. You can model classic guitars, basses or amplifiers, and then assign up to 11 effects, twice. You can then use those two channels independent of each other, or simultaneously. Using an optional floor-based controller, you can do all of your channel switching or blending.
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It’s amazing how multi-effect technology keeps on progressing. Zoom’s new G5 is yet another impressive unit that delivers an overwhelming amount of value and flexibility. I have to rave about one feature of the Zoom G5 first: the multi-dimensional expression pedal. In addition to moving the pedal up and down, you can twist it to the right or left. Do the math…. yes, significantly expanded levels of expression and real-time parameter changes. The end result is that you can assign up to four parameters to the expression pedal. Nuts.
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The Seymour Duncan SHPR-1s P-Rails is a P-90 and a Strat Pickup in a Humbucker-Sized Package. So, first things first: If you are looking for a full-fledged humbucker, go out and buy a full-fledged humbucker. Just wanted to put the whole “…well, it’s not really a real humbucker” argument aside. This pickup is meant for folks who have a humbucker-fitted guitar, yet are looking to get P-90 and / or Strat tones out of it.
Some might say: “well, why don’t you just put a P-90 or a Strat pickup in the guitar?”
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To understand the relationship between relative major and relative minor keys, we’ll start with Western tonality, in which we use a system of “keys.” Each key has a number of associated sharps or flats that comprise the overall seven-note structure of the key. The exception is C-Major, which has no sharps or flats. An easy way to visualize C-Major is to imagine playing only the white keys on a piano. All of these white keys are in the key of C-Major. Every other key utilizes at least one of the black keys, meaning that they have at least one sharp or flat note.
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Telecasters are great… probably my favorite guitar of all. But when your Tele is stock, chances are that it came loaded with vintage style pickups. Depending on your rig and your style of playing, this may translate to noise (i.e. the dreaded 60-cycle hum), or in the case of the bridge pickup, a somewhat brittle tone, and few options. Here is a list of areas to think through before you make your final decision on your next Telecaster bridge pickup upgrade.
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It’s hard to believe that Fender Texas Specials just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They first made their debut in January 1992 as the stock pickups in the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster. Not too long after, they became available as a standalone product. SInce then, they have become quite popular.
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Vox has dusted off one of their flagship models for yet another reissue that offers a great blend of classic features and modern upgrades. The 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speaker is probably the most notable improvement. You can expect some serious mids and tons of headroom from this speaker. As has been the case for many years, the “Normal” and “Top Boost” channels offer some variety for the overall voicing of the amp. Both of these channels share the master volume and “Tone Cut” controls. This is particularly cool because it means that the Tone Cut control operates on the power-amp level, not the pre-amp. The result is a true tone shaping of the overall amp voice, not the input.
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Catching That Wave
The “Holy Grail” of overdrive pedals is a lot like that perfect wave that a surfer desperately seeks. Well, good news folks; I think I may have found it! The Fulltone OCD is one hell of a little pedal. Granted, there are other ones out there that offer an actual 12AX7 tube, and pretty serious tone-shaping (for example, the Radial Tonebone), but the OCD is just an incredibly simple little pedal that delivers; it sounds great anytime, anywhere!
That Perfect Driven Sound
One of the things that seems to be particularly high on the list of priorities for guitarists is how to achieve the perfect driven sound. There are so many overdrive / distortion pedals out there. You could spend all day and night just trying them all out, to see which one sounds best. Although guitars, amps and even pickups are often candidates for “Best of the Best” ranking among guitarists, the overdrive pedal seems to hold a special place in our hearts, as a critical component to our sound and an item that we keep ourselves in an unrelenting search for.
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