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Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




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Welcome to Guitar Interactive Issue 40

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Welcome to GI 40, a very special issue that
weve been hoping to bring you... well, since
we first planned the magazine!
Brian May is a unique figure in Rock guitar
and he has been interviewed on many
occasions in many different publications,
so when we were finally able to arrange an
interview with him, we decided to take a
different route. Instead of sending a mere
journalist (!) to interview him and his highly
regarded tech expert, Pete Malandrone, we
sent Jamie Humphries, who as our features
explain has a unique inside approach to
the Brian May team. We like to think weve
produced the definitive Brian May special as
a result.
Also on board is Zakk Wylde, making a
welcome return to GI, telling us why hes
going into the guitars and amps business!
Dont forget the usual abundance of
reviews, columns and this issues stonking
competition opportunity to win a complete
set of Moogs Minifooger pedals - in our
estimation some of the finest effects pedals
money can buy!

Gary Cooper - Editor

Got an iPad? Check the

latest Guitar Interactive
Edition - out now!

Editor Gary Cooper
Contributors Stuart Bull, Gary Cooper, Jamie Humphries
Review crew Michael Casswell, Jamie Humphries, Andi Picker,
Giorgio Serci, Bob Thomas, Lewis Turner, Tom
Quayle, Dan Veall
Columns Sam Bell, Michael Casswell, Tom Quayle, Giorgio
Serci, Lewis Turner, Jaime Vendera, Andy Wood
Advertising Manager Helen Bavester
USA Media and Sales Lisa Spiteri
Design and layout Simon Gibbs
Animation Dwight Sicobo
Video Editors James Masterton & Dave Kidd
Sound Engineering Martin Hayles & Gwyn Mathias
Cameras Rich Jones & Mike Thorpe
Social Media Managers David Jones & Dan Smith
Publishers Guitar Interactive Ltd
Publishing Directors Kim Waller and Stuart Bull
Contact Sales and Information line:
+ 44 (0)1708 757 337
Fax Line: +44 (0)1708 757 528
twitter. @iGuitarMag
Address: Unit A, Chesham Close,
Romford, Essex, RM7 7PJ, UK
(c) Copyright 2016 Guitar Interactive Ltd. No part of this publication
may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior
permission of the copyright owners. The views expressed in Guitar
Interactive are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of
the Editor or Publisher.





Brian May -


Pete Malandrone


Zakk Wilde


Tech Session

Jamie Humphries meets one one of the most

significant and gifted guitarists of the past 50 years.
Gary Cooper examines what it is that makes
Brian Mays playing unique, while Jamie adds his
thoughts on working with a living legend

Its not often that a guitarists Tech becomes a major

figure in his own right but Brian Mays right hand
man, Pete Malandrone, plays a major role in keeping
one of Rocks most idiosyncratic collections of gear
working, as well as helping to grow the range of
instruments in the Brian May Guitars stable. Jamie
Humphries interviews and offers a definitive guide
to the many variants of the Red Special.

Filmed live at this years NAMM show in LA, Zakk tells Stuart Bull about his plans to
launch an entiure range of guitar-related products. Gary Cooper adds the background.

Brian May Tech Session

Jamie Humphries shows you how!


Tone on a Budget
Jamie Humphries on
affordable tone

Competitions/Book Reviews/Winners


WIN all seven Moog

Minifooger FX pedals
in our great free entry


Beatles Gear
- the ultimate
edition! + Win a
free copy!

In GI 38 we gave away a complete set of Red Witch effects pedals and a genuine Manuel
Rodriguez classical guitar. Find out if you won!

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Gear Reviews
088 Brian May Guitars Super


098 Brian May Guitars Special

148 Panama Inferno 100 & Shaman

20 amps

106 Brian May Fryer/Knight and KAT

Strap Treble boosters

Brian May Deacy amp

120 Vox AC30 c2 Custom

126 GJ2 Select guitar


Hagstrom Impala guitar

Taurus Stomp Head 5 amp

160 Moog MiniFooger Flange & Chorus

166 Pigtronix Ecolution 2 Ultra Pro

Neo Instruments Ventilator II

GJ2 Inspiration Concorde guitar

Live Sound

Making Tracks

178 Jaime Venderas Vocal Bootcamp

Season 2

206 Andi Picker on Archiving your Projects

186 LD Systems MAUI 5 PA system

216 Presonus Eris 4.5 monitors

192 Wi Digital Systems AudioLink Pro &

Sure-Ears in-ear system

220 Tascam Celesonic 20-20 interface

210 AKG C314 LDC microphone

200 Studiomaster Drive 12a active speakers

The Quiet
Room - Extra!

The Bassment
260 Mayones BE4 Ash
264 MTD KIngston kz5 5-string

226 Brian May Rhapsody

232 Guild F1512E Westerley 12-string
238 PRS SE Alex Lifeson Signature
244 Art & Lutherie Folk Spruce
248 Takamine Pro Series p3ny
252 Giorgio Sercis Creative

268 EBS Reidmar 750 head & Classic

Line 4x10

276 Tom Quayle
280 Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts
284 Sam Bell - Rock Improvisation
290 Lewis Turner - Back To Basics
294 Andy Wood - Country guitar




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Brian May -

Dr Brian May - astrophysicist, animal rights campaigner, songwriter, rock legend,

above all the guitar voice of Queen - is one of most distinctive and gifted guitar
players of the past 50 years. GI has put together our biggest ever tribute issue,
featuring interviews with Brian and his long-serving guitar tech, Pete Malandrone,
plus reviews of as many Brian May-related products we could get our hands on!
First Gary Cooper offers an assessment of a career still very much in progress, then
Jamie Humphries offers his unique insights.

ne of the measures of a really great guitarist is that you can recognise him from
just a few notes. It may not be universally true, but think of some of the players
it works for - Jeff Beck, Django Reinhardt, Eddie Van Halen, Pete Townsend,
Jimi Hendrix, Alan Holdsworth and Chet Atkins among them. As rules of
thumb go, it isnt a bad one. One guitar player you can definitely add to that list is Brian May.
Just a few notes from Dr Mays fingers is all it takes to tell.
It isnt (just) about tone and it certainly isnt about the number of notes played per second.
Its about feel and musicality and the ability to endow guitar playing with personality. If an
aspiring guitarist is looking to do anything that will ensure a successful career, then sounding
like him (or her) self is far more important than being able to argue scales and modes with a
music theorist.


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



That ability to be instantly recognisable is

one of the qualities that sets Brian Mays
playing apart. Another is his sheer musicality
- in fact its that quality that I personally
think makes him a great player. When
Queen first arrived on the scene, it might
have been the amazing layering of vocals
and bizarre juxtaposition of styles (one
minute hard Rock, the next camp operatic
extravaganza) that captured the publics
attention, but for a guitarist it was listening
to the finely wrought guitar parts, each
perfectly complementing one another, that

Here or Bohemian Rhapsody, the only

way to do it was via slaved-up 24 track tape
machines, with pass after pass after pass
removing the precious oxide from its backing
to such an extent that the tape ended up
almost transparent. The hours of work
that went into making a Queen album are
unimaginable and the sheer determination
taken to record a track like one of these
is truly mind-boggling. But that, too, is a
hallmark of Brian May - he is an extremely
determined man, with a definite willingness
to go completely against the flow if that is
what he wants to do.

None of that came easily. Back in the

1970s, when Brian May was recording
tracks like Good Company, Now Im

Take, for example, his idiosyncratic choice of

gear, which undoubtedly helped him stamp
his individuality on Queens sound. Had

Brian May Interview - Part 1


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




And Freddie Mercury? How would you eve

begin to describe his influences?
he played a Les Paul or a Strat through a
Marshall or HiWatt he would have sounded
very different - or, rather, much more like
everyone else. By deliberately choosing a
guitar made with his father in the family
shed, plugged into a (by then pretty much
completely out of fashion) amplifier (an
AC30), a similarly antediluvian effects unit
(the Rangemaster treble booster) and to
cap it all, playing with the milled edge of
a sixpence, he gave himself a head start in


the instant recognisability stakes. It may not

be the first advice youd necessarily give an
aspiring guitarist, but do your own thing even to the point of stubborn idiosyncrasy
- does have a lot to be said for it! Keeping
those old AC30s on the road was hard work,
as was all the money and love spent on the
various Red Special replicas that have been
made but it paid off handsomely, both
creatively and commercially.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


Brian May Interview - Part 2



Then there is the song writing. If there is

a lot to be said for individuality, Queen
certainly had it by the bucket load, and
it equally certainly caused tensions in the
band. Brian May and Roger Taylor could
make an awesomely powerful sound at
times (anyone who witnessed Queen at
their peak will have heard a very hard Rock
band!) and were pulling the band towards
a heavier sound (I remember the penny
dropping when May admitted to me (a
fellow admirer) that he was a Tony Iommi
fan. This was back in 76, when that was
about as uncool as it could be. So much for
fashion!). Brians songs often (though not
always!) reflected that hard Rock leaning.
John Deacon, on the other hand, though
he didnt write much, wrote some of the
bands biggest hits and he was a Tamla and
Soul fan. And Freddie Mercury? How would
you even begin to describe his influences?
These differing styles tugged the band apart
at times and various interviews reveal one
member or another admitting they didnt
like such and such a track. Sensibly, they
played on them despite that and the result
made Queen something far more important
(and popular) than yet another 1970s/80s
Rock band with a bag of riffs, a cloud of
hair spray and not a lot else. In that sense,
Queen had something in common with the
Beatles - they were impossible to categorise
and beyond prediction. Something for
everyone, if you like.


Stubbornness had a lot to do with that.

The band wasnt always the most popular in
the business at its height - in fact the word
arrogant was occasionally used, though
thats not a word anyone who has met him
would ever use of Brian May, but Id prefer
to say the band was determined. After a
rotten start with a terrible management deal
(listen to Death On Two Legs), and despite
visceral opposition from a music press that
had decided anyone who could sing in tune
or play more than three chords was getting
above himself, Queen knew what they
wanted to do, knew how they wanted to
do it and werent prepared to let anything
stand in their way. It takes that level of
determination to reach the top.
And so to our Brian May feature. Inevitably,
we relied on Jamie Humphries for the
majority of it. Jamie has been with Guitar
Interactive since we began (when he hasnt
been on tour), has played in Brians bands,
worked on both the London West End and
German productions of the We Will Rock
You musical and was the only choice for
both our interview with Dr May and the
Tech features.
Our thanks to all those who helped finally
make this feature possible: Jamie, Pete
Malandrone, Andrew Guyton, Barry
Moorhouse, Nigel Knight and, of course,
Dr Brian May C.B.E.!

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Brian May - and me.

Jamie Humphries, one of GIs longest serving contributors, has
worked for and with Brian May since 2006.
There is not much that can be written
about Brian May that hasnt already been
written. Thats not surprising when you look
at the facts: lead guitarist in arguably the
biggest and most popular band in the world,
composer of some of the biggest songs of all
time, revered and respected lead guitarist,
influence to some of rocks greatest,
revolutionary guitar builder, successful solo
career and countless collaborations. And
thats not all! Add to this list animal activist,


a Doctor of astrophysics, author and an

expert on stereophotography, you can see
why Brian May is so popular today with all
When I was asked to contribute to the text
piece for the Brian May feature I wondered
where I would go with it, and decided to
look at how Brian has impacted on me as a
musician, and to put forward the things that
I feel make him so unique as a guitarist.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Jamie Humphries; Brian May, Queen,

WWRY and Queen
related shows and tours.

2006-2014 We Will Rock You London guitar

1 sub
2009 We Will Rock You UK tour, guitar 1 sub
2011-12 We Will Rock You Germany,
Switzerland tour guitar 1 principle
2014-2015 We Will Rock You Germany and
Austrian tour guitar 1 principle
2009 to present Champions of Rock Queen
tribute Swedish concert tours
2010 Brian May/Kerry Ellis BBC Proms Hyde
2011 Brian May/Kerry Ellis Anthems UK tour
2011 Queen performance for Freddie Mercurys
65th Birthday London; with Brian May, Roger
Taylor, Jeff Beck and Mike Rutherford
2014 We Will Rock You 2 workshop
performances, principle guitar



Something that I loved about Brians playing

influences me is his orchestration, and arra
variety of tones.
My introduction to Brian May came at
the tender age of four years old, when
Bohemian Rhapsody was number #1 in
the UK charts in 1975. I was bought up
on good music; my father always playing
vinyl records in the house by the likes of
Santana, Focus, Genesis, Pink Floyd and
Led Zeppelin. Brians memorable solo in
Bohemian Rhapsody forms the basis for one
of my earliest memories, a Sunday visit to my
grandparents in Putney, London. We would
always listen to the Radio 1 top 40 show,
whilst my grandmother prepared Sunday
evening tea and sandwiches. Hanging on
the wall in the kitchen, my grandmother
had a chopping board that with its handle
resembled the shape of a guitar body and
neck. I would entertain my parents and
grandparents by miming to Brians solo on
this chopping board.
This obviously was a precursor for a lifelong
passion and career choice for me. My desire
to play guitar was fuelled even more by
the music video for Bohemian Rhapsody.
Seeing Brian May in his flamboyant stage
clothes, shrouded in smoke made his appear
like some kind of superhero. I knew from
that point that I wanted to do that!
I was always into more progressive music in
my formative years, and didnt start listening


to the more technical guitarists until I was

about 14 or 15 years old. I was drawn toward
guitarists that were different, and that didnt
just play stock blues/rock licks. Brians
sound and style had a huge impact on me
when I was first learning electric guitar,
and still does to this day. I was drawn to his
melodic style, with his solos being almost
like extensions of the song; little musical
pieces in their own right. I was also drawn
to his sound; it was distorted and heavy, yet
unlike the heavy metal that other kids at
school were listening to the sound had space,
a crispness, and a definition I hadnt heard
before. His solo sound was so distinct, with
a vowel like quality, and often harmonic
over tones, which as hard as I tried I was
unable to replicate. This was of course down
to the fact that Brian had custom built his
own guitar, the Red Special, with pickup
switching capabilities unlike any other guitar.
Something that I loved about Brians playing
which still to this day inspires and influences
me is his orchestration, and arranging of
guitar parts; as well as his wide variety
of tones. I often feel that Brians unique
virtuosity gets overlooked; listen to the
beautifully arranged harmonies on Killer
Queen, along with Brians regal sounding
phrasing and pre bends.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

g which still to this day inspires and

anging of guitar parts; as well as his wide

For me the track that defines Brians sound

and virtuoso style is Good Company
from A Night at the Opera. This track is
often over looked by guitarists, but as well
as being a perfect example of Brians very
quirky composing style, includes one of the
most ingenious, and revolutionary pieces of
recorded electric guitar, especially when you

consider this was in the early 70s! Using

only his home made guitar, a treble booster,
and the John Deacons homemade Deacy
amp he arranged multiple guitar layers to
emulate a Dixieland style Trad Jazz band.
Listening to the recording you hear flutes,
oboes, trumpets and trombones, yet all of
them are created on Brians Old Lady. And




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

its not just the sounds, its the arrangement, and how the individual lines play counterpoint
melodies, weaving in and out of each other; the recording is a land mark in Rock guitar.
I began working as a sub/dep on the Queen musical We Will Rock You in London in 2006.
This position lead me to perform as a cover on the 2009 UK tour, and eventually to hold the
position of principle guitarist on the German touring production of the show. This show was a

challenge, with not only the task of emulating Brians style, but also working with equipment
very similar to what he uses, but in the controlled environment of a musical production.
Getting use to the switching on the guitar, using the just the volume control to go between
clean and dirty tones, using a sixpence. I really immersed myself in the role, modifying my
guitar with more authentic parts, and really trying to get inside Brians style and technique.



In 2010 a dream came true for me, when I

was asked if I would join Brians new band
with singer Kerry Ellis. For me it felt like
full circle, working alongside the man who
as a child I mimed to. I got to spend time
with Brian, working on learning the guitar
parts closely with him. I learnt so much from
these intimate up close guitar sessions. I was
surprised at how lightly he played, gently
brushing the strings with his first finger of his


right hand. I got to see how he manipulated

the Red Specials controls; going from glassy
cleans, brushing the sixpence across the
strings, to cranking the guitars volume up for
long sustained noted. I learnt so much about
the value of a good note; letting the note
breathe before adding a gently subtle vibrato.
Watching and listening to Brian play so close
up was such a privilege; I was overwhelmed
by just how alive his guitar sounded! END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

TC Electronic



Pete Mala
r view

When it comes to a detailed knowledge of

Brian Mays guitars and rig requirements,
Pete Malandrone is the fount of all
knowledge. For more than 20 years he has
been Brians right hand man, responsible
for keeping an idiosyncratic array of
products working for some of the biggest
shows in earth. Jamie Humphries met
with Pete to look at some of Brians guitars
and discuss the fascinating development
and history of the many Red Special
replicas and derivatives.


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Pic by James Masterton



ow do you go from one day

being a British Telecom
engineer to the next being
the guitar tech for one of the biggest Rock
guitarist in the world? Well thats what
happened to Pete Malandrone, who holds
the title of having possibly the most coveted
guitar tech gig in the industry. Its Petes role
to know exactly what Brian May wants when
it comes to his guitar set-up and his rig so
it goes without saying that he knows the
world famous Old Lady guitar inside out,
and is responsible for taking care of what is
probably one of the worlds most instantly

.009 Optima Gold strings in case you were

wondering), general maintenance, and the
various guitar changes called for in a set. On
top of this Pete is responsible for switching
Brians effects during a live performance,
essentially becoming part of the performance

Andrew Guyton with Brian May and the doubleneck

On a personal note, Ive known Pete for

many years, and have toured with him when
I was in the Brian May/Kerry Ellis Anthems
band, and over the years Ive been fortunate
enough to have seen quite a few of Brians
guitars and play them. Brian even lent me
his Green Guyton RS replica that I toured
with for several months. After chatting with
Pete about putting this feature together we
decided it would be great to look at how
the Red Special replicas have evolved over
the years, and get as many of them out as
possible for our video shoot. I also felt it
would be great for readers to have a chance
to hear the kind of things that a tech for a
world-class guitarist has to do.

recognisable guitars. Petes role also includes

setting up Brians rig from show to show,
as well as maintaining it, and also handling
guitar teching duties; changing strings,
(Brian uses his own signature set of gauge


Pete is kept busy working for Brian

constantly. When hes not on the road hes
working at Brians studio on the outskirts
of London. Hes also involved heavily with
Brian May Guitars, overseeing R&D, and
production, and also looking at ways the
guitars can be improved.

Before looking at the replicas let talk a little

bit about the Old Lady herself. We decided
not to feature the original in our video,
incidentally, as Brian spoke about the iconic
guitar in his interview section. I felt it was
important just to look at some of the key
differences between the originals and the

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

reproduction guitars, albeit that the Fryer

and Guyton guitars are pretty much exact.
The original Old Lady was constructed
from a variety of woods; the body is built
around a thick piece of oak that takes the
strain of the neck, while the body shape
is made from block board. The body is
largely hollow, and was originally going to
sport an F hole. The hollow body was
a deliberate choice of Brians, to make the
guitar more alive and aid controllable
feedback. The body was completed with a
mahogany veneer, with the edge binding
made from plastic shelf edging. The body
was stained with a wood dye, and then
coated with Rustins Plastic Coating.
Between coats Brian would polish it with
fine sand paper, and eventually worked
it to a high gloss finish. The three Burns
Tri-Sonic pickups are mounted directly to
the body, with the six switches, three on/
off and three phase in and out switches
mounted to a metal plate, fixed inside the
electronics cavity. The scratch plate and
tremolo spring cover plate are made from
black Perspex, with the lathed aluminium
volume and tone knobs mounted to the
scratch plate, that covers the cavities.
The tremolo features a knife-edge floating
design that made use of two motorbike valve springs that are balanced against the pull of the
strings. The straight string pull resulted in zero friction, giving fantastic tuning stability. Brian
designed and hand tooled a roller bridge system that eliminated friction at the bridge end.
The neck is made from a thick piece of mahogany sporting a painted oak fingerboard, with
mother of pearl hand-filed shirt buttons as dot markers. The headstock and nut design were
also an integral part of a low friction based design at the opposite end of the guitar. Brian
designed the placement of the machine heads and designed a nut where the strings pretty
much floated in the slots, all to minimise friction. The truss rod was fixed to a large bolt



that was screwed through the guitar body.

The neck joint at the body included a
hoop shape carved into the wood that the
hooped end of the truss rod slotted into.
The only production shop bought parts of
the guitar were the machine heads and the
replacement Burns pickups; Brian originally
wound his own pickups.
As you can see from this very brief overview,
the guitar was designed with performance,
tone, and tuning stability very much in
mind. You can also see how unique it is,
with pretty much everything being made
from whatever Brian and his father Harold
could lay their hands on. With this in mind

you can now appreciate how hard it is to

produce a cost effective replica. Sourcing
exact materials would be pretty much
impossible. There are some very close and
incredibly impressive replicas available,
however. Andrew Guyton, for example,
produces incredible official replicas, but they
carry a price tag for the serious Brian May
Andrew very kindly supplied us with superb
quality photographs of the original Old Lady
as well as the replicas and developments of
the original theme he has made and receives
a major round of thanks for having done so!

Pete Malandrone Interview - Part 1


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



If your appetite has been whetted for even
more detail, I highly recommend the official
Brian Mays Red Special book by Simon
Now lets take a look in order at the RS
replica timeline, with a brief overview,
as a more in depth look is featured in the
accompanying video.

John Birch Red Special

Although there was an earlier unofficial
RS replica produced by Greco, (you can
see Brian using one on the Good Old
Fashioned Lover Boy Top of the Pops
performance) the first official replica
commissioned by Brian was the famous John
Birch RS. This guitar can be seen in the We
Will Rock You and Spread Your Wings
music videos (YouTube is your friend!).
It featured a solid maple body and neck
construction, and although it resembled the

Old Lady, it fell short in performance, and

suffered from dreadful tuning instabilities.
The guitar met its end during Brians solo
spot on a show in Chicago on the Hot
Space tour. Brian threw the guitar in anger,
resulting in it snapping in three places.
Andrew Guyton eventually fixed the guitar.
For some inside info on this instrument; you
can read more at http://www.guytonguitars.

Guild RS Replica
For a long while Brians only backup that
resembled the Old Lady was the John Birch,
which was now in pieces and in the hands
of John Page, who worked for Fender. There
was talk of Fender producing a replica, but
this never materialised. Brian experimented
with a Strat, a Les Paul and a Flying V as
backup solutions, but none of them came
close to his beloved Old Lady.

John Birch Red Special


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Eventually, Guild collaborated with Brian

during the early 1980s, releasing the BHM1,
the first official production Red Special style
guitar. This guitar was produced in a limited
run (around 330 of them) and featured
a solid mahogany body, ebony board,
Kahler tremolo and Brian May signature
DiMarzio pickups. This guitar is famously
featured in the One Vision video, and
was Brians backup for a number of years.
The production models featured a slimmer
neck profile, although Brians featured a
large neck. I myself play a replica of one of
these guitars, and although this Guild wasnt
featured in this video, I have played one of
Brians prototypes.
Around 1993 Guild released the BMH01,
a more authentic replica of the original,
featuring a chambered mahogany body, a
closer replica of the trem, and Tri-Sonic style
pickups produced by Seymour Duncan.
Around 2,000 of these guitars were made.
These models featured a slimmer neck and
Brian occasionally used these live. Both the
93 and the 84 Guilds were used until the
Fryers were built.

Fryer RS

tried to match the woods as best as he could,

and only made one modification to the roller
bridge. With the introduction of the Fryer
Brian had a much more authentic backup
and drop D guitar, producing the same
sound, and offering pretty much the same

Burns BM Guitar
The Burns BM model was introduced
around 2001, and offered a more cost
effective version of the famous Old Lady.
Alterations were made to make the guitar
more affordable, but for the first time a good
quality affordable instrument was available.
Constructed from mahogany, the Burns
featured acoustic chambering, three Burns
Tri-Sonic pickups, a slimmer profile neck,
and an ebony board. The main difference
was this guitar was fitted with a Strat style
tremolo. The body dimensions were similar
to the original, with Burns working closely
with Brian to produce a high quality guitar
with an attractive price. The Burns BM was
a highly successful guitar, winning various

Brian May Guitars

Brian was approached by Australian luthier

Greg Fryer about building him a replica
RS. Brian gave Greg the go-ahead, and he
produced three exact replicas of the Old
Lady - John, Paul and George! Brian kept
two, one of which is his main backup. These
guitars were produced around 1995, with
Greg spending time measuring the original
to get the replica as close as possible. Greg

Around three years later, production of the

Brian May Special swapped over to Brian
May Guitars; a company set up by Brian
May, Barry Moorhouse of House Music
fame and Pete Malandrone. The idea was to
prioritize production, as well as make some
changes to the instruments in looks and
performance. Check out the guitar in this


video, and compare it to our review BMG
Special in this issue; you can really see how
the guitar has evolved. BM guitars continue
to grow and flourish as a company, with
many variations on the famous Old Lady
available. See our reviews in this issue!

Andrew Guyton RS Green

The next guitar of Brians I am very fond of!
When I toured with Brian May/Kerry Ellis,
Brian actually lent me this guitar. I took it
home with me and used it to practice on for
the run up to the tour, and subsequently
used it for much of the tour. Andrew
met Brian when Pete approached him to
restore his old Egmond acoustic. Work
began on building a replica of the Red
Special, which resulted in a limited run of
production guitars. Not only did Andrew
measure and photograph the original, but
he had it X-Rayed at St Barts Hospital in
London. The result was the most authentic
reproduction of the Red Special to date.
Brian now has a variety of Guyton Specials
in his collection, with a new archtop
version now available.

built, that was meant to follow the Red

Andrew experimented with a stunning
RS style guitar but included a scalloped
fretboard. Scalloped boards are renowned for
a lighter touch, and are fantastic for speed,
string bending, and vibrato; not to mention
access to the higher frets. This stunning
guitar uses the same woods and construction
techniques as the other Guyton RS
guitars, with the exception of the scalloped

Andrew Guyton Scalloped

Like Brian, Andrew is a very clever and
inventive individual, always striving to
come up with new ideas to aid and inspire
Brian, as well as complete tasks that Brian
never completed. These include a Red
Special with an F hole - something the
original was intended to have - and the
space age Spade Guitar, a guitar that Brian
and his father Harold designed but never


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Current BMG Super

Brian with his Andrew Guyton rebuilt original Egmond

fingerboard. Brian first showed me this guitar

backstage at a Queen gig in Vienna, Austria
in 2015. He favours this guitar for warming
up before a show.

Andrew Guyton Badger Guitar

The Badger guitar was built for Brian to
use on the Queen and Adam Lambert tour.
This guitar followed the original drawings
produced by Brian and Harold May, to
include the original F hole design that never
made it onto the Red Special. Something
that was new to the design was the stunning
Archtop, and the way Andrew managed to
shape the Perspex scratch plate to follow the
Archtops contours. This guitar features a
piezo bridge, producing authentic acoustic
sounds, with the magnetic and piezo signals
sent out of two separate outputs. The guitar
also features a small mother of pearl badger
on the scratch plate.

BMG Super
The BMG Super was introduced as Pete says
to bridge the gap between the BM Special
and the Guyton. The Super was the result
of a collaboration between Fryer and KZ
guitars. The Super was a close BMG replica,
to satisfy the fans that wanted something
more authentic than the Special but without
being a handmade custom instrument. Some
compromises were made in terms of wood,
and some of the hardware, but this was a
much closer affordable replica. The guitar in
the video was actually used by Brian on the
Queen and Paul Rodgers Tour. The Super is
no longer built by KZ, and is now produced
by a Czech company for BMG.

Guyton Double neck

Heres another example of Andrew Guytons
vision for pushing the boundaries - a double
neck RS! This guitar came about after



Andrew showed a design to Pete that was

finally put together in time for the first Queen
outing with Adam Lambert. This guitar uses
the same construction materials, oak and
block board body, mahogany veneer, and large
profile mahogany neck with an oak board.
Like the other Guyton RS guitars it features
the Adrian Turner custom wound Adeson
Burns Tri-Sonic pickups. Brian originally used
this to perform Under Pressure.
Our grateful thanks to Pete Malandrone
and Andrew Guyton, who provided the
pictures as well as information - http://www.

Pete Malandrone Interview - Part 2


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Zeus Pedal



The Green Guyton

The Badger g


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

BMG Super




Scalloped neck Guyton


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



Going Wylde
Zakk Wylde may have had a career-long association with Gibson and its sister
Epiphone brand, but now the great man has launched out on his own, in
partnership with Schecter. Stuart Bull quizzed Zakk about his new venture,
Wylde Audio, at the recent NAMM show in Los Angeles. Gary Cooper adds
some background thoughts.

t was no secret that Zakk

Wylde was restless about his
gear. Many guitarists have
associations with favourite brands
and models but few were more
closely associated than Zakk and
his trademark bullseye Gibsons and
Epiphones, which we have both
reviewed and discussed with him
in previous issues. But despite that
close relationship with Brand G,
Zakks intentions were signalled as
long ago as 2014 and now at this
years NAMM show, held in LA this
January, Zakk unveiled the first results
of his collaborative project with rival
US guitar brand Schecter.


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Though guitars had centre stage,

Wylde Audio is promising amps as
well, confirming the stories that he
had moved away from another longstanding association, this time with
Marshall. Zakk is on record saying
he has had no problems with either
Gibson/Epiphone or Marshall and
that Wylde Audio is simply a natural
extension of his career as a player.
Its certainly a bold move, because
he is promising a full range of guitar
related and recording products
including effects, microphones,
outboard gear and even plug-ins.


How long all this will take to
come to fruition remains to be
seen. At the time of writing,
Wylde Audio doesnt even have
fully functioning website, just a
form inviting you to subscribe,
but the Schecter Guitars
deal grants the US company
distribution rights in over 70
countries, which means that
when they finally arrive, you
should be able to find one in a
guitar store near you.
For the record, the models on
the Schecter stand included
the Odin, War Hammer and
Viking, all of which Zakk has

Zakk Wylde Interview


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




actually been using on Black Label Society gigs. In a press release, he said: Im
very excited for the launch of Wylde Audio in 2016. For me, its the next logical
step. You start as a player, manager, VP of Team Operations, then Team Owner.
Ive surrounded myself with super talented people to make this vision become a
reality and having Schecter on board as our distributor is going to allow me to
bring Wylde Audios boutique quality of craftsmanship to the next level.
Will the big man pull off such a big deal? Who can say? It takes a lot of money
and tremendous amount of effort to establish a new brand - especially across so
many different groups of products. Watch this space for reviews as production is
cranked up. END >


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Rotosound Strings




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40








Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



With a unique and instantly recognisable voice, Brian Mays

guitar style offers a world of ideas and approaches.
Jamie Humphries, who has spent years working with both
Brian May himself and on many Queen related shows and
tours, offers an exclusive track inspired by some of Brians most
memorable pieces. If youve ever wondered how it is done heres your chance to find out!



rian Mays guitar playing is as

individual and unique as his
approach to his equipment. He
fuses powerful rhythm playing
with emotive melodic lead lines. Brians voice
on the instrument is multifaceted, complex
yet utterly beautiful.
Brians rhythm playing blends gently
chiming clean chords, often performing
them as chord arpeggios, brushing the
serrated edge of the sixpence he uses instead
of a conventional guitar pick, across the
strings producing a very distinct tone,
especially on ballads. His Rock rhythm

playing makes use of power chords and slash

chords. A slash chord is when another note
other than a chords root not appears in the
root position. For example, Brian will often
perform a two-string power chord, its root
note either on the 5th or 6th string, By simply
dropping the root note by a semi tone he
achieves a 1st inversion of a major chord
either a 5th higher or a 4th lower.
His lead playing is powerful, dynamic
and majestic, playing solos that are often
extensions of the vocal melody. He makes
use of such phrasing tools as pre-bends
and a very subtle vocal style vibrato. Brian

Brian May Tech Session Performance


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Brian May Tech Session Part 1

often layers several lines to form rich

harmonies, or musical canons,
which he replicates live with either a
harmoniser or multiple delays, enabling
him to play off of each line. He also
outlines more complex chord sequences
with very regal sounding arpeggios,
demonstrating his appreciation
and deep knowledge of a variety of
musical style and influences. And
lets not forget his remarkable ability
for arranging guitar parts, forming a
pseudo orchestra or brass band. He will
arrange counterpoint melodies, and


with the use of his unique tone tools,

the Red Special, Vox AC30, treble
booster, Deacy amp and the humble
wah pedal, sculpt a broad pallet of
tones, enabling each line to sit perfectly
in its own space with in the mix.
Brians technique is also very light.
He often simply brushes across the
strings with his index finger of his
picking hand to achieve a very gently
sounding rhythm style. He also uses a
unique technique that almost resembles
tapping; where by his index finger of
his picking hand almost appears to

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Brians technique is also very

light. He often simply brushes
across the strings with his index
finger of his picking hand to
achieve a very gently sounding
rhythm style.
hammer on the string, before laying
back to rest to mute. Listen to the
final lines in Bohemian Rhapsody
or the descending verse line in
Killer Queen for an example of this
As well as his gentle dynamic
melodious style, Brian is no slouch
when it comes to technique. He
employs such techniques as two
handed tapping, fast alternate
picking through both major scale
lines and chromatic scales and
performs fast left hand hammer-on/
pull-off pentatonic phrases. Check
out the solos on A Kind of Magic,
Invisible Man, One Vision, and
Princes of the Universe.
For our track I have drawn
inspiration from several Queen tracks
to demonstrate various rhythm and
lead techniques he employs. These
include Hammer to Fall, One

Vision, Now Im Here, Keep

Yourself Alive, Killer Queen,
Bohemian Rhapsody, and Friends
Will Be Friends. Ive tried to
demonstrate various techniques that
Brian uses with in a music setting.
But remember, Im only scratching
the surface, and I would suggest
studying his huge catalogue of
recordings. Trust me; I feel like such
a better player since I had to really
get inside Brians playing style for the
various Queen associated projects Ive
been involved with!

Bars 1-5

kick off with the first half of our

verse riff. A pretty straight ahead
Rock riff here based around a few of
Brians favourite power chord and
slash chord voicings. Pay attention to
the G notes on the 3rd fret 6th string,
that are raised a quarter tone bend by
simply pulling them down slightly.



Bars 6-9

introduce the second half of our

verse riff, with the first two bars
based around the first two bars of the
opening of our riff. The second two
bars feature a different set of power
chords, included for some harmonic

Bars 10-17

repeat the above sections, concluding

our verse progression, which now
leads to a bridge progression.

Bars 18-21

feature a short bridge section, as well

as introducing a new key signature,
that uses an eighth/sixteenth note
galloping rhythm. I recorded this
track using a sixpence piece, and you
really appreciate the tone achieved
by the coin brushing the strings. Pay
attention also to the palm muting,
as this is vital to the dynamics of this

Bars 22-25

introduce our chorus progression,

as well as a new key signature. This
section has a lot going on including
power chords, slash chords, and


Hybrid pentatonic scale riff ideas.

Pay attention to the rests between
the chords, to keep the riff sounding

Bars 26-29

repeat our previous section, although

you should pay attention to the
pushed chord that ties over to the
first beat of bar 26.

Bars 30-33

feature the start of our pre solo

section, and introduces a trip feel
to the rhythm. This section features
multiple layered harmony guitar
parts, producing a lush harmonic
wall of sound! For this section I
experimented with the various pickup
selections, and phase switching on my
Guild BHM1 replica, as well as using
the wah pedal as a tone control.

Bars 34-35

conclude this section with a cross

rhythm descending figure that is
performed in harmony. We conclude
with a harmony trill performed on
the 3rd string.

Bars 36-39

feature the open line to our main

solo, and make use of various string
bending figures, and staccato cross

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

rhythm licks. This section is based

predominantly around the G major
scale and its diatonic modes, with
the exception of bar 39, where the
F natural note is used over the G7
chord, implying G Mixolydian; a very
typical harmonic vehicle in a Queen
ballad progression.

Bars 40-43

include some very musical lines

used by Brian to outline chord and
harmonic movement. Using a mixture
of string bends and slides, you can
really hear how he constructs melodic
variation to outline the various chord
changes. Once again this section

Brian May Tech Session Part 2



includes some very majestic sounding

phrasing, with more staccato cross
rhythms and trills.

Bars 44-47

introduce a new familiar sounding

finger as we enter the second half of
our solo section. Once again Ive made
use of BM style phrasing, including
string bending and cross-rhythmic

Bars 48-51

include some of Brians signature scale

runs, kicking off with an ascending
figure that includes some tricky
bending ideas to conclude. This section
concludes with a triplet descending
sequences, that shifts through various

Bars 52-53

include an example of how Brian forms

runs using the major pentatonic with a
lick based around D major pentatonic.

Bars 54-56

conclude our study piece with a D

minor pentatonic phrase, creating a
bluesy feel that ascends, concluding to
the major 3rd of our resolving G major


For the Video and backing track

session I used an RS Custom Guitars
Model 84, BM Guild replica fitted
with original 1984 BHM Signature
DiMarzio pickups. This was plugged
into a KAT strap treble booster, and
then into a TAE Tube Amp Emulator
pedal, direct to the recorder. On the
backing track I used an MXR EVH
phaser and a Dunlop EVH wah, for
some tonal variation on the backing
guitar parts. I also recorded this track
with an old sixpence piece from the late
1950s/early 1960s. For the rhythm
parts the guitar volume was set about
half way, producing a mild crunch with
plenty of bite. For the lead sections, I
turned the guitar volume up full, and
also experimented with various pickup
selections, and phase settings, giving
each harmony voice its own space. I
also used the wah as a tone control on
one of the harmony lines. For the clean
rhythm part, I back the guitar volume
right down, and gently brushed the
sixpence across the strings, creating a
bright chiming rasp. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Searching for that unique Brian May tone? Want to do it without
breaking the bank? After countless hours spent with the We Will
Rock You show, Jamie Humphries probably has more experience
than anyone at getting the perfect sound. Heres Jamies guide to
doing it the affordable way.



The origins of that sound

rian Mays tone is without a doubt

one of the unique voices in Rock
guitar. Its almost like a mystical
chain of events resulted in the
equipment that came together to produce his
sound. Although that sound has evolved and
changed slightly over the years, it has always
stayed faithful to Brians initial vision of how
he imagined his tone to be. I think that in
itself is a very interesting fact that, from the
very conception of the Red Special, he knew

in his mind how he imagined his voice on

the guitar.
Right from the outset, he wanted a rich
smooth distortion that would produce
feedback, inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Jeff
Beck. Originally, in fact, the Red Special
was going to have an F hole, a design
that was actually used by Andrew Guyton
when building Brians Badger guitar. He
also wanted to produce a wide array of

Brian May - Tone on a budget


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Strings & Things



tones, from thick resonant crunch,

to screaming overtones. This came
from experimenting with the pickup
selection and phasing options.
When it came to producing the
distortion and amplifying it, he chose
the Dallas Rangemaster treble booster;
a unit that produced gain boost fed
into the front end of the amplifier.
Additionally, the treble booster cut
bottom end, while simultaneously


boosting upper midrange frequencies,

producing a clean, cutting distorted
Brians two major influences when he
started out were Hank Marvin and Rory
Gallagher, both of whom were Vox AC30 users.
Brian loved the clean loud sound of the Vox,
but found that when he drove the amp hard, the
overdrive it produced was too thick and muddy.
Driven with the treble booster though (as Rory
Gallagher had proved) the Vox amp reacted
perfectly, producing a defined clear distortion.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

When it came to his live rig, for a

long time Brian had looked for a
way of reproducing his studio
sound live.

But there was a lot more than just a

desire for a certain sort of distortion
going on in Brians head at the time.
He was also inspired by classical
music, as well as traditional seaside
Trad Jazz played by the likes of the
Temperance Seven that had been
briefly popular in the UK during
the early 1960s. He found that he
could create those using the pickup
phase switches on his Red Special,
along with a wah pedal being use
purely as a tone control. Running
his guitar into a treble booster and
then into the home made Deacy
amp, built by John Deacon (see our
review of the Deacy amp in this
issue - Ed) he was able to create
an array of imitation brass and
woodwind sounds and an example
can be heard on the classic Queen
recording Good Company.
This studio approach became very
much a part of Queens voice, with

Brian arranging multiple guitars

performing contrapuntal melodies
and harmonies.
When it came to his live rig, for a
long time Brian had looked for a
way of reproducing his studio sound
live. He introduced a second amp to
which he fed tape echo delay from an
Echoplex and eventually a third amp;
the two outer amps with different
delay times, and the middle amp
dry. He even rebuilt his tape echo
units, to enable him to get longer
delays. The result was that Brian
could perform a canon whereby he
would play a musical phrase which
would then be repeated by both amps
at a set different time. This would
also provide Brian with three part
harmonies live.
I should also point out that at
different points in his career
Brian has used different types of



DigiTech Artist Series

photograph 2006
by Ross Haln/Idols

even signature sounds

with fourteen unique
variations, spanning over
thirty years of tone. From
the umistakable solos of We Will Rock You
and Bohemian Rhapsody to the one and only
Deacy amp, the Brian May Red Special Pedal
lets you walk in the footsteps of one of rocks
most inuential guitar masters and achieve one
of guitarists most sought-after tones.

Keep Yourself Alive

Rich tape-anged intro or
solo with anging.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Vocal-like tone with tons of sustain or Heavy Rock Rhythm

and Finale Orchestral Fanfare with Deacy amp.

Tie Your Mother Down

Intro with moderate sustain and distortion or solo

close-miked with higher gain for more sustain and distortion.

We Will Rock You / Champions

Creamy distortion with a churning phaser effect.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Acoustic guitar model with delay, or
clean rockabilly tele tone with reverb and delay.

Brighton Rock Solo - Live

Solo with delay (3 amps) and tight chorus or
with 3-part Orchestral Harmonizer effect.

Deacy Tone / Winters Tale

Raw tone through treble booster and Brians Deacy amp

or delay and reverb added as a post effect.


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

modulation. Originally he favoured phaser

effects, mainly the Foxx Phaser, but later
he moved to using chorus, which was very
apparent during the mid 80s.
Brians rig nowadays includes three modified
Vox AC30 TBXs, although he has nine on
stage the remaining six are spares. The two
outer amps are all effect, delay and chorus,
while the middle amp is totally dry. This
creates a very wide stereo tone, but at the
same time its very direct and punchy; the
advantage of running a wet, dry, wet rig.
The guitars are all fitted with KAT strap
treble boosters (also reviewed in this issue Ed), with the exception of the semi acoustic
Guyton Badger Special. From the strap
booster the signal goes into the wireless
pack, and is driven hard by the booster. The
rack contains the wireless receiver, two TC
Electronics G Major 2 effect processors, and
a Dunlop rack wah. There is a Mike Hill
custom built switcher that routes the signal to
various sources; the effects to the outer amps,
plus a main signal feed to the dry centre
AC30 or the Deacy amp. There is also a KAT
treble booster in the rack for the Badger
Guyton guitar, as this guitar is on a double
lead. Also in the rack is an Avalon pre-amp
for the piezo acoustic pickup on the Badger
guitar. There is also a power unit that could
power a small village, supplying clean spike
free power to the rack wherever in the world
Brian is!
The entire system is operated by a KAT
MIDI switcher which sits on top of the

rack; the rack is like a work station for Pete

Malandrone, Brians long serving guitar tech,
as he is as much a part of the performance as
Brian, switching in and out Brians effects,
and routing his signal to any desired amp
or effect in the rack. The final piece of the
puzzle is the sixpenny piece - the sixpence.
Brian loves the sound of the serrated edge
of the coin against the strings, which is
especially apparent during clean passages
when the guitar volume is backed down. For
younger readers and those abroad who are
scratching their heads over this, the sixpence
was a legacy from Britains pre-decimal
coinage, replaced in 1970. Uniquely, Brian
has always used these as picks.

The budget
When I was given the task of creating this
Tone on A Budget I knew it was going to
be tricky and had to make some decisions
about the type of guitar I was going to us,.
Also, would I use an amp, stomp boxes or a
modelling unit? There are several things we
need to consider when creating Brians tone:
Single Coil pickups
Versatile pickup switching/phase reversal
Smooth overdrive/distortion



Reduced low end, boosted upper

Two independent delay times
Modulation; chorus/phaser
Wah pedal (tone only)
I would favour a single coil pickup
guitar over a humbucker to achieve
Brians tone. Although it doesnt switch
in the same way, with a Strat you
can have both the bridge and middle
pickups engaged. To my mind, other
than a Brian May guitar, the only other
guitars I know of that are capable of
the unique switching are the Fender
Elite Strat, The Musicman Reflex Game
Changer and the Gibson Nighthawk.

now possible to get a great guitar sound

using your smart phone! Companies
such as IK Multimedia, with Amplitude,
and Positive Grid with Bias, Bias FX
and JamUp, make apps that really will
enable you to choose authentic amp
and pedal models. I have apps for
both my Mac and my iPad by both of
these companies and Ive successfully
managed to produce great Brian May
tones with them. This approach is
seriously worth trying for bedroom use.

But for our first rig Ive chosen to go

the secondhand eBay route for a quite
brilliant modelling solution that bears
Brians signature: The DigiTech Red
Special pedal. This pedal has been
discontinued, but they can be picked
up pretty cheaply on the secondhand
market and they are fantastic. With the
help of producer Eddie Kramer, who
I have chosen to use the BMG Special
was the consultant for the modelling,
for this demonstration, as I feel it is
and Brian May, DigiTech produced a
an affordable guitar, and is obviously
modelling pedal that replicated Brians
based on the original, albeit it has a
AC30/treble booster tones, his Deacy,
few variations to make it more wallet
and his Red Special and Trisonic
friendly. This is a great guitar; visually
authentic, it captures the correct sound pickups. For the money, this is by far
the best BM tone solution I have seen.
and feel, and with such hardware as a
This pedal is designed to be used with a
Wilkinson trem, Brian May branded
pickups, it performs superbly. That said, Red Special, but the Old Lady has also
been modelled. Depending on whether
if you were trying to get somewhere
near the right sound and couldnt afford you use humbuckers or single coils, the
want to buy a BMG, then a Strat would guitar control will transform the sound
of your regular guitar into the sound
do as well as just about anything.
of the Red Special! It sounds totally
authentic, and if you are on a tight
Now for amp choice. With the rate
budget it means you dont have to trade
that technology is being developed, its


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

in your favourite Fender for a BM! The

amp models are brilliant; The Vox tones
are authentic, and the Deacy sound
is uncannily accurate. As well as this
the pedal offers multiple delays, and
modulation, and an acoustic emulator
for those 39 moments. The delays
sound great, the more you push down
the pedal the more delay is increased,
giving you the perfect Brighton Rock
tone. Check out the modulation at the
start of the video lesson; straight off of
Keep Yourself Alive, fantastic stuff.
The pedal is fully programmable, and
the heel/toe footswitch also activates
other effect combinations. The pedal
comes with selected BM tones based on
a handful of classic Queen songs. If you
are serious about a BM tone, and even
if you dont own a BM guitar I would
start scouting for one of these. Check
out the video to see why!

existing amp into a close replica of a

Vox. You can also run it with a power
amp into a cab, or as I did direct to
the desk, as the output is a beautifully
voiced speaker emulator. I used a BMG
Special, into a Fryer treble booster, and
also added an MXR chorus, then into
the TAE and straight out to the desk.
This is essentially what we used at Rock
You, but with a Vox instead of the TAE.
The final piece of the tone puzzle is a
sixpence piece coin. These are vital in
achieving that rasp across the strings,
as well as the correct pick attack. These
can be bought in bags of 100 via eBay.

Finally if you rather go a route not

covered here, either with your own
existing equipment, or an app, try
opting for a light classic crunch and
boost the front end. You dont want
to add distortion from the pedal,
just boost to drive the amp. Roll off
For our final rig selection I went the
bottom end and boost the mid range,
analogue route, and based my choice
and some top end presence, but avoid
on a similar idea to what we use at
making the tone thin and fizzy. Adding
We Will Rock You, but with a twist.
some chorus or phaser will also add to
Buying a Vox AC30, or another brand
the authenticity of the tone. Finally
of EL84 loaded amp is going to push
remember, if you are going to get a
your budget through the roof. With
clean tone, dont touch the pedals or an
that in mind I have replaced our amp
amp switcher; to achieve clean tones,
with a wonderful pre-amp pedal, the
Thundertomate TAE pedal, (www.taefx. back off the guitar volume. Good luck!
com) (a review is planned for the near
future - Ed). This pedal is basically a
Brian May Vox in a pedal, all analogue.
It can be placed in front of your amp,
or in the effects loop, turning your




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





There are pedals... and then there are pedals!
When Moog brought its legendary audio
expertise in creating new sounds to the
guitar FX pedal market with the launch of
the analogue Minifooger range, it added a
whole new dimension to the term!


Beautifully made and with classic analogue

circuitry, we have two Moog Minifoogers
on review in this issue - the Chorus and the
Flange. As our reviewer, Tom Quayle, says:
Both of these pedals are fantastic, analogue
units that not only sound superb but are
superbly built and represent good value


considering the quality on offer and the

option of stereo or mono operation. They
are easy to operate and offer a far wider
range of tones than you might expect, so
if you want the best that analogue pedals
have to offer, youd be crazy to not check
out these two excellent examples. Highly
One lucky Guitar Interactive reader is going
to scoop the pool this time as we are going
to have just one winner, who will receive all
seven: Flange, Chorus, Ring, Trem, Drive,
Boost and Delay.

1/ All entries must be received by 17th April 2016. 2/ Only one entry per person is allowed 3/ All entrants must be registered readers of G
Music Inc are ineligible for this competition. 5/ One winner will be chosen, at random, from registered readers of Guitar Interactive who
entrants must respond to email notification of having won within 10 days, otherwise prizes may be forfeited and alternative winners chose
will not always be possible. 9/ Prizewinners must consent to having their name and city/country (e.g. Andres Segovia, Madrid, Spain) pu

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


How do you win? Its easy! All you have to do is click to enter, simply answer the
simple questions (tick A, B or C) and fill out the form! One lucky winner with the
correct answers will be chosen at random and will end-up with these amazing Moog

Q1. Moog Music Inc was founded by
which pioneering New York born
synthesiser designer?

Q3. The first Moog modular

synthesisers appeared in which

A/ Dr Bob Moog

A/ 1940s

B/ Dr Fred Moog

B/ 1960s

C/ Dr Terry Moog

C/ 1980s

Q2. Moogs Minifooger pedals are:

A/ 100 per cent digital
B/ All analog (aka analogue)


lucky winner with the correct answers will win all seven of the Moog
Minifooger effects pedals. The winner will be notified by email. Be sure to
check your emails regularly and dont use a throw-away email address. We
have had unclaimed prizes, which have been reallocated to other entrants!

Guitar Interactive 3/ No cash alternative is offered instead of the stated prize. 4/ Employees of Guitar Interactive, Source Distribution or Moog
provide the correct answers. 6/ The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding this competition. 7/ Winning
en. 8/ Winners may be responsible for import duty where levied. Where possible prizes will be despatched from the winners own country, but this
ublished in a future issue.



Beatles Gear - The Ultimate

Author: Andy Babiuk
Publisher: Backbeat Books (Hal Leonard)
Format: Hardback
Did you know George Harrison once played a
Burns bass? That on one session Paul McCartney
used a left handed Fender Esquire through a
Selmer Thunderbird combo? If thats the sort of
minute detail that gets you going then the latest
updated edition of this book by compulsive
gearophile, Andy Babiuk, is going to be a must
have. Last year, we reviewed Babiuks Rolling
Stones Gear and wondered how he had managed
to pull together all the detailed information it
contained. Its a little more obvious how he did
it with this one, as the Beatles recording sessions
were surprisingly well documented at the time
in a regular monthly magazine and there is a
wealth of other research material that the author
has been able to mine. None of which takes
anything away from this monumental updating
of his original, 2001, volume. As he says, a lot
has come to light since then so a second edition
was overdue.

ISBN: 9781617130991
Price 40.00/$60.00
Format: Paperback
Price 24.00/$29.99

For example, vintage Vox nuts are possibly goin

to want more detail of that sometimes chaotic
companys products than is available here, but
thats really a quibble. For anyone who loves the
Beatles music and appreciates the enormous
influence the band had on the guitars and amps
we use today, let alone the music itself, this is an
essential purchase.


If there are any criticisms to be made they would

be that one wonders just how accurate some of
the notes made back in the 1960s were, for what
was a fan magazine, and perhaps whether the
author could have mined even deeper in places.


1/ All entries must be received by 24th April 2016. 2/ No cash alternative is offered instead of the stated prize. 3/ Employees of Guitar Inte
from registered readers of Guitar Interactive who provide the correct answers. 5/ The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be e
may be forfeited and alternative winners chosen. 7/ Winners may be responsible for import duty where levied. Where possible prizes will
country (e.g. Andres Segovia, Madrid, Spain) published in a future issue.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




We have three copies of this amazing book to give away. If youve ever wondered
what guitar was used on a particular Beatles track, which Gretsch was used by
whom and how George Harrison came to make the Rickenbacker 12-string an icon,
this is book is, as its title proclaims, the ultimate guide!
All you have to do is click to enter, simply answer the simple questions (tick A, B or C)
and fill out the form! Three lucky winners with the correct answers will be chosen at
random and each will receive a copy of Beatles Gear - The Ultimate Guide!

Q1. Paul McCartneys Hofner

violin basses were made in which

Q2. Author Andy Babiuk has a

companion volume on The Rolling
Stones gear?

A/ True
B/ Sweden
B/ False
C/ Germany

lucky winners with the correct answers will be chosen at random and
each will receive one copy. Please Note: Be sure to check your emails
regularly! Winners will be notified by email and we have had unclaimed
prizes, which have been reallocated to other entrants!

eractive, Hal Leonard, or Licklibrary, and their immediate families, are ineligible for this competition. 4/ Three winners will be chosen, at random,
entered into regarding this competition. 6/ Winning entrants must respond to email notification of having won within 10 days, otherwise prizes
be despatched from the winners own country, but this will not always be possible. 8/ Prizewinners must consent to having their name and city/




Back in GI 38 we offered our first ever classical guitar as a
competition prize and, naturally enough, started with a model
from one of the worlds most celebrated makers, Spains Manuel
The guitar we had up for grabs was a limited edition Manuel
Rodriguez MRC4MEB, reviewed in that issue by our very own
classical specialist, Giorgio Serci.
As Giorgio says in his review, Manuel Rodriguez has been one of
Spains most acclaimed guitar makers for over 100 years and the
instrument we were offering is a typical product of this family
owned companys dedication to the craft of guitar making. With
stunning Macassar ebony back and sides and a solid western red
cedar top, this is a traditional classical guitar of the highest quality.

So who was the winner?

n from Billericay, Essex, UK

Our Manuel Rodrigu
itar). Congratulations, Phil!
(pictured here with his prize gu


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


In GI 38 we gave away a complete set of Red Witchs amazing Seven Sisters effects pedals - to a
predictably huge response from readers desperate to get their hands on them!
As we said back then, Red Witch pedals have exploded onto the scene in recent months as New
Zealander Ben Fultons range of premier class, true bypass stomp boxes gains the worldwide
exposure it deserves. Weve reviewed the Seven Sisters in two batches (youll find them in Guitar
Interactive issues 32 and 38 - back issues available via and theyve all passed
our scrutiny with flying colours.
There are a lot of things that single Red Witchs Seven Sisters out as something very special. The
tiny size makes them perfect companions on a pedal board, the audio quality is superb and the use
of a lithium-ion rechargeable battery makes them unique and ideally suited to life on the road. No
batteries and no mains power needed!

So who won our complete set of

Red Witch Seven Sisters pedals?

tzoglou of Wirral, Cheshire, UK
And the Luck




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Compatible with both Windows
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Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ar Interactive subscribers!
Our TAB downloads are FREE for all subscribers in both PDF and Guitar Pro 6 Format.
To get your hands on this month's notation tablature, subscribe or download now!
Lewis Turner - CAGED chords



Tom Quayle - Creating Interesting

Chord Progressions



Giorgio Serci - Study 27



Andy Wood - Double Stops



Brian May - Tech Session





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Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





BMG Super

or many years guitarists

have been asking for a
totally authentic replica of
Brian Mays legendary Red Special
guitar. A very early attempt at this
was by luthier John Birch, who
famously built Brian a blonde/gold
replica of the Red Special as a backup. The guitar never worked for
Brian, suffering from terrible tuning
issues, and eventually was snapped
during a frustrating solo spot at a
Queen concert. The next attempt
at a more authentic replica came in
the early 1990s when Guild released
the BM01. This was a more accurate
version than the first run of Kahler
loaded Guilds produced around
1984, in both construction and
styling. But although the new Guild
featured a more authentic tremolo
and a chambered body, it still fell
short of the fans expectations, with
a lack of attention to detail being
betrayed by unauthentic features
including a smaller neck, edge binding


Jamie Humphries assesses the top of the range Sup

crafted replica of the Red Special one for the dedicat

on the scratch plate

and Seymour Duncan
replica Tri-Sonic
Later came the release
of first the Burns Special
and then the BMG
Special, so it seemed
that a totally accurate
production model was
never going to be. Some
individual luthiers built
Red Special guitars with
Brians endorsement,
including Greg Fryer,
and Andrew Guyton.
These builders offered
exquisite totally accurate
replicas that Brian
himself played, but
they were restricted to
limited numbers, and
would cost you as much
as a small new car if
you ordered one. So the
fans turned to unofficial


Even closer to the original! Excellent build Pic

Exceptionally versatile


Its not cheap Still a very individual choice (wh

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

per model from Dr. Mays very own guitar brand. Is this hand
ted Brian May fan only? Or is this a guitar with a wider appeal?

BMG Super

builders who offered a more authentic version of the Red Special at more
sedate prices. One such luthier from Japan was Kazutaka Ijuin of KZ Guitars
who was producing very accurate and beautifully built unofficial replicas. BM
Guitars enlisted him and along with Greg Fryer they designed the original run
of Supers, that were manufactured by KZ in Japan.

ckups are superb Fabulous to play Body mounted pickups help sustain & tone

hich could be a pro!)


That Original Super was hugely
successful with the fans, and
Brian himself used one on tour.
But the guitar was only available
for a short period before
production halted.
Fast-forward to 2015 and
a new builder in the Czech
Republic joined forces with
BM Guitars, and the second
edition Super became available.
I had personally been talking
to Barry Moorhouse at House
Music (which looks after BMG)
since the tail end of 2014 when
I heard that the new Super was
going into production. I had
been using an original KZ/Fryer
Super on the We Will Rock You
German tour since 2012, and
was very keen to see and hear
how the new Super would stand
up against the original Super. As
you can imagine, I was keen to
get the guitar into the pages of
Guitar Interactive to give you
a closer look and compare it
to the original, along with the
BM Special, which has its own
review in this issue.

As you can imagine,

I was keen to get the
guitar into the pages
of Guitar Interactive to
give you a closer look
and compare it to the

Comparisons are never easy

but I have been lucky enough
to have played the original Red
Special, built by Brian and his
father, on numerous occasions
and I have also played one of
Brians Fryer replicas. As well as
this I have also borrowed Brians


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



green Guyton replica when I
toured with Brian May and
Kerry Ellis, so I have a pretty
good idea of how all of them
feel and play, which Ive borne
closely in mind while playing
this latest Super.
To start with, visually the
BMG Super is very authentic
looking, with a more accurate
red colour than the BMG
Special boasts. For the real
devotee, this shade is based on
the red wood dye and layers
of Rustins Plastic Coating
that Brian and his father had
applied to the original. The
scratch plate and tremolo are
also pretty much the same as
on the original. As with the
BMG Special, there are few
differences that make that
make the guitar more cost
effective, as you might expect.
BM Guitars say the Super
is meant to bridge the gap
between the very affordable
BM Special, and the exquisite
and reassuringly expensive
Starting with the body, the
Super is constructed from twopiece quarter sawn mahogany,
with a two-piece quarter sawn,
book matched mahogany top.
The dimensions of the body
are faithful to the original RS,
with some slight modifications


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

to the acoustic chambers and the

control cavity. The body is coloured
with an attractive antique cherry
stain and features a white double
edge binding.
The headstock and fingerboard
radius are also faithful to the original
Red Special, as is the neck profile,
which is very chunky! The neck
however is glued on, as opposed to
the single large bolt on Brians Old
Lady. BM Guitars has also opted
for a clear lacquered ebony fretboard
as opposed to painted oak on the
original - a choice not many would
argue with!
The guitar features 24 frets and a
zero fret which are Dunlop 6130s,
with a Graph Tech Black TUSQXL nut. The fingerboard features
attractive mother of pearl face and
side dot markers; Brian made his
dot markers from shirt buttons from
his mothers sewing box, saving the
most colourful markers for the 24th
fret! The headstock matches the exact
dimensions and angle of Brians Old
Lady, which aids straight string pull
for excellent tuning stability. The
headstock houses six Gotoh Magnum
Lock machine heads, three on each
side. The headstock is decorated with
a mother of pearl May Star decal
and the Super Brian May signature.
The truss access is located on the
headstock with the cover matching
the scratch plate.

A huge difference between the

Special and the Super is that on the
Super neither the pickups nor the
six slider switches are mounted on
the scratch plate, as they are on the
Special. This scratch plate is identical
to the one on the original guitar, with
the pickups being mounted directly
into the body, resulting in both a
more resonant sound and a neater
less cluttered looking design.
As for those pickups, they are three
Adeson Burns Tri-Sonic single coil
pickups, constructed by Adrian
Turner under license to Burns. These
are exact recreations of the Burns
Tri-Sonic pickups built between
1960 and 1965, using original
components, and wound on an
original late 1950s Burns winding
machine. These are the same pickups
used in the Andrew Guyton RS,
and are exact to Brians pickups.
The sound of these is not as hot
as the standard Tri-Sonic pickups,
or the Brian May branded pickups
found on the Special, in fact its a lot
warmer and fuller, with that direct
mounting aiding sustain.
The Super is fitted with six
Switchcraft slider switches, three to
engage the pickups and three acting
as phase switches. These six switches
are fitted directly to an aluminium
mounting plate under the scratch
plate. The Super is wired in series,
and can produce a wide range of
tones thanks to its unique switching



To play, the Super feels nice and light

and is very well balanced...
capabilities. The guitar features two rotary
controls, one volume and one tone, with
authentic lathed aluminium flying saucer
knobs, and 250k pots.
The knife-edge tremolo tailpiece is an exact
replica, built to Brians original design
and specification by Kazutaka Ijuin of KZ
Guitars, with the bar crafted from Greg
Fryers templates. This tremolo and tailpiece
is visually stunning, and the performance is
fantastic, with an accurate response, fantastic
pitch return and tuning stability.
One of the design compromises you will
find on the Super is the bridge, however,
with Brians roller system being replaced
with a custom modified Wilkinson roller
bridge. The bridge on the original is a totally
hand made unit that Brian designed, hand
tooled from a block of aluminum and to
manufacture units such as this would again
effect the retail price drastically, pushing it
into the realms of the Guyton.
So the Super is visually stunning - a really
beautiful looking guitar, and having played
Brians Old Lady on numerous occasions I
can tell you that it felt every bit like the Red
Special. That said, one has to remember that
there was something Zen like, or magical
about how the original was built. Would
Brian have produced a second guitar that felt
exactly the same as the original if he had the


exact same materials? I think not; my point

is, that many people get very picky when
discussing Red Special replicas. The only
guitar the truly feels like the original Red
Special is the original; but this guitar does a
bloody good impression of it!
To play, the Super feels nice and light and is
very well balanced, which is surprising when
you consider the thickness of the neck. Thick
and sturdy, its sheer size obviously goes hand
in hand with the chambered mahogany
body helping the production of long sweet
sustaining notes. Unamplified, the Super was
zingy, vibrant and loud. Plugged in it was
heaven. You really can notice a difference
between the standard Brian May branded
pickups and the Adeson Burns, as well as the
fact theyre screwed directly into a chambered
mahogany body.
Engaging the bridge and middle produced
a thick growl, but with plenty of space and
highs. I used a Fryer treble booster (and a
sixpence!) into a TAE pedal for the demo,
and I think youll agree the tone is superb.
The neck pickup is much more mellow than
the Specials, and has a rich warm character,
that morphs into a creamy sustain as the
guitar volume is increased. Start combining
pickups and knocking one out of phase and
the Super screams with plenty harmonic
overtones - wonderful!

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

This is a magnificent guitar, and I loved

playing it; and coming with a hard shell case
and a numbered certificate signed by Dr.
May makes it a very special and collectable
package. Personally I wish BM Guitars
would go the whole hog and use an authentic
bridge, but thats me being ultra picky. How
does it compare with the Special? I think the
Special holds its own very well - especially
bearing in mind its price - but there are just
a few details that make this feel like the real
deal. How does it compare with the original
Super? If anything I felt that this guitar
performed better than the original Super
production that I had played close to 1,000
shows on; I loved it!!

Like the Special, this is a guitar with hidden

depths. If you suspect it is only for Queen
tribute bands or dedicated Brian May fans,
then you are wrong because it offers a level
of versatility you simply wont get from the
obvious alternatives. Choosing a Brian May
Special or, even better, a Super, will set you
apart from the crowd in a way that may, or
may not, appeal - but that aside, you will get
a fabulous guitar in either case and one that
will go places other guitars simply cannot
venture into. END >

Brian May Super

MSRP 2.950 US $3,502.14

Clear Lacquer Coated

Made in: Czech republic

24 + Zero Fret (Jim
Dunlop 6130)

Back : 2-Piece Quartersawn
Mahogany with Acoustic
Top : Book-Matched, Quartersawn




1-Piece Quartersawn

Gloss Antique

Face + Side Dots
Neck Join


Original RS
Shape with Mother-Of-Pearl
MayStar + Super Signature
3 x Adeson/
Fryer Custom Modified Burns
Tri-Sonic Series Wired, Single




Switchcraft Slider Switches - 3 x
Pickup On/Off + 3 x Pickup Phase
Master Volume
+ Master Tone with BM Replica,
Lathe-Turned, Billet Stock,
Aluminium Control Knobs
Modified Wilkinson Roller
Designed BM Replica Knife-Edge
Tremolo + Custom BM Replica
Trem Arm
Gotoh Magnum Lock Tuners



Graph Tech Black

Neck Width @ 12th Fret

51mm (2.00)
Neck Depth @ 2nd Fret
26.5mm (1.04)
Neck Depth @ 14th Fret
29.8mm (1.17)
String Spacing @ Nut
40mm (1.57)
String Spacing @ Bridge
50.8mm (2.00)

Approx 3.22kg

DAddario XL120 Super Light (Plain Steel .009
- .011 - .016 - Nickel Wound .024 - .032
- .042)

RS Replica Main Control Plate +
Half-Moon Tremolo Tail Plate +
Matching Truss Rod Cover

Quality Brian May Guitars Hard
Shell Case

Body Depth

Handcrafted By
NBE Corp. s.r.o., Horovice, Czech


610mm (24)

Fingerboard Radius
184.2mm (7.25)


Neck Width @ Nut

46mm (1.81)

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Certificate Of Authenticity,
Numbered & Personally Signed By
Dr. May




BMG Special

As part of our Brian May special issue, we thoug

great mans name. Plenty of guitarists have signa
themselves! Jamie Humphries, who knows the
But is it just for Queen tribute acts? Heres where

rian Mays home made Red Special

guitar is one of the most distinctive
looking and unique sounding
guitars in Rock history. Constructed
totally by Brian and his father Harold, the
Red Special has graced pretty much every

recording made by Brian that features

electric guitar. Over the years he has been
involved in several collaborations with
various guitar companies, to produce a close
replica at an affordable price. Early attempts
by US manufacturer Guild resulted in the

BMG Special




Unique sounds More versatile than traditiona


Do you want to stand out from the crowd?

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ht it was time to take a look at the unique signature guitars that carry the
ature models but few, if any, have them based on guitars they actually made
e original well, takes a look at a very affordable replica.
e you find out...

first official Red Special style/replica guitars. Following

a departure from Guild, Brian next collaborated with
Burns, producing a highly successful replica of the original
guitar. This version introduced variations on the original
that made the guitar much more affordable than the high
end, totally authentic, replicas produced by luthiers like
Greg Fryer from Australia, KZ from Japan, and Andrew
Guyton from the UK.
Brian eventually moved production of the Burns over
to his own company, Brian May Guitars, which he set
up with the help of Barry Moorhouse of House Music,
and Brians long time guitar tech Pete Malandrone. The
company now produces several variations of the Red
Special including various BMG Specials in a variety of
finishes: the BMG Super, the BMG Vision, a stripped
down twin humbucker version, the BMG Mini May, the
BMG Bass, the BMG Rhapsody Acoustic, and the BMG
Weve actually reviewed a BMG Special in Guitar
Interactive before, way back in issue 14, but we felt it
deserved a second glance in a feature which is bound to
spur readers to wonder what this surprisingly affordable
instrument could offer them that they arent already
getting from other guitars. It also seemed pretty much
essential to compare the BMG Special with the BMG

al favourites Wilkinson tremolo very effective Well made Helps you stand out from the crowd



The neck and neck joint are one of the

biggest differences between the BMG
Special and the original.
Super, which we are taking a first look at in
this issue.
To ring the changes at least a little, BMG
sent us something a bit different from the
normal Special everyone will immediately
recognise and we were delighted to open the
box to find a BMG Special Limited Edition
in striking Windermere Blue - a pale metallic
blue that gives the Special more than a hint
of retro chic.
Visually there is no mistaking that this
is a Brian May guitar, with the look and
construction faithful to the original. There
are obvious differences, though, which have
all been considered to produce the highest
quality replica of the original guitar that
wont break the bank. Another interesting
point that came up when I was talking with
Pete Malandrone (see our interview in this
issue) is that he discusses how BMG is trying
to produce a guitar that isnt just for Brian
May fans, but is something that stands up on
its own against other popular brands.
The body shape is faithful to the original,
and although is constructed from different
wood to Brians Old Lady, it features
a chambered mahogany body with the
chambering based on Brians original design.
This is finished off with a book matched
mahogany top, with a six-ply pinstripe front
and rear binding. The body and neck are


finished in a high gloss lacquer and I have to

say the finishing and binding are exquisite;
no finish bleeding into the binding and no
roughly finished edges. The guitar features
a 24 scale one-piece glued-on mahogany
neck, with an ebony fingerboard loaded with
24 jumbo frets. The neck features a D
profile, and measures 45 mm at the nut. The
neck also includes a graphite nut and a zero
The neck and neck joint are one of the
biggest differences between the BMG Special
and the original. The original neck was
constructed from a huge thick piece of 100
year old mahogany, with a huge profile, that
is attached to the body with a large bolt that
secures to the truss rod; the end of the truss
rod being a hoop that hooks round the bolt.
The neck of the BMG Special, on the other
hand, has a very modern, contemporary
feeling profile, which is both stable and
comfortable to play on, especially for long
periods of time.
Moving further down the neck we come to
the headstock, which is authentic in design
and shape to Brians original. The headstock
finish matches the body and sports Brians
signature as the guitars decal. The angle
of the headstock is minimal, to aid straight
string pull from the bridge through to the
machine heads, which minimises friction

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Mesa Boogie



Experimenting with the out of phase switc

various pickup configurations produces so
interesting tones.
and tuning instabilities. The headstock is
loaded with six Grover Rotomatic internal
locking cam machine heads. These offer
fast and tidy string replacement and
solid tuning stability, as well as a smooth
accurate rotary motion. The headstock
also includes the truss rod access, which
is covered matching the scratch plate and
half moon decorative plate.
Back on the body, the pickups and six
pickups switches are mounted onto the
scratch plate. There are three pickup on/
off sliding switches, and three pickup
in and out of phase sliding switches;
two switches per pickup. Once again
the scratch plate is one of the slight
differences between the BMG Special
and the original. The original features
a plate where the screws holding the
switches are hidden, whereas the plate on
the BMG Special has the screws exposed,
front mounting the switches. The pickup
mountings are also slightly different to
the originals, with the pickup height
adjustment screws visible on the Special.
These slight differences help to keep the
cost of production of the guitar down.
The guitar includes a single volume and
tone control that globally controls all
three pickups. Once again there is a slight
cosmetic difference with slightly smaller


plastic chrome finished knobs, as opposed

to the larger aluminium flying saucer
knobs. The BMG Special also uses 250k
Another difference is the pickups found
on the BMG Special. The original features
Burns Tri-Sonic single coil pickups, which
Brian purchased to replace the pickups
he had hand-wound himself. The Burns
Special featured genuine Burns Tri-Sonic
pickups, although they were a modern
equivalent. The BMG Special features
Brian May branded Tri-Sonic style
pickups, which are based on the original
60s Burns pickups. These three single
coil pickups are wired in series. With
the aid of the six switches, myriad tones
can be produced, with countless pickup
configurations, both in and out of phase.
These pickups also add to the authentic
look and styling of the guitar, keeping it
close to Brians Old Lady. Once again,
the production of Brian May branded
pickups helps to keep the cost of the guitar
Probably the biggest difference between
the BMG Special and the original
Red Special is the tremolo. The
original features a floating system that
balances the pull of the strings against
the tension of two motorcycle valve

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

springs se
the body!
from part
with the
down. A
into the b
would pu
Special co
May Gui
tremolo s
Burns vin
with tuni
brass sadd
rear of th
plate has
close to t
matches b
truss rod

I am very
sound of
Special fr
run, arou
wound A
as found
played we
the Quee
I know h
Specials u
keen to p

ches with
ome very

et under a plate on the front of

! The arm of the bar was made
t of a bicycle saddlebag support,
tip being made from one of his
larger knitting needles, filed
beautiful brass bolt fixes the arm
body. To produce a similar unit
ush up the price of the BMG
onsiderably. As Burns did, Brian
itars opted for a traditional vintage
system but, unlike the original
ntage trem, which suffered
ing issues, BMG opted for the
on WVP Knife Edge system, with
dles and a custom BM bar. At the
he bridge a half moon decorative
been added to keep the styling as
the original as possible. This plate
both the scratch plate and the

y familiar with the feel and

the BMG Special. I own a green
rom a slightly older production
und 2009, which has had some
tions made, including hand
Adeson Burns Tri-Sonic pickups,
in the BMG Super. Having
ell over 1,000 performances of
en musical We Will Rock You,
how to get the most out of the
unique electronics, so I was pretty
play this more up to date model,


as it features some slight improvements and
First off, the guitar balanced perfectly when
seated and standing; its not neck heavy at
all. The guitar feels relatively light, due to the
chambering, and when playing unamplified,
it produced a loud vibrant sound. Plugged
in, the guitar really came to life. I ran it
into a Fryer Brian May treble booster, and
into a Thundertomate TAE pedal, direct
into the desk. I started off by switching in
the individual single coil pickups before
experimenting with combinations. The great
thing about the way the Special is wired is
that when the bridge and middle pickups
are engaged, they act like a humbucker. This
is one of Brians favourite combinations,
producing a rich warm tone, with a crisp
clear top end presence. Backing down the
volume, the guitar cleans up beautifully, ideal
for the clean shimmering chord arpeggios
of Under Pressure and Days of Our
Lives. Cranking the guitar volume up aids
a thick overdriven tone and I cant help but
launching into Hammer to Fall and One
Vision. The neck pickup has a warm woody
quality, and with the volume set around half
way you get the smooth solo tone of Killer
Queen. One thing I will say is that it takes a
little while to get used to the position of the
volume control as its set above the tone. Also
the six pickup switches can be a little fiddly
and may take some getting used to.
Experimenting with the out of phase
switches with various pickup configurations
produces some very interesting tones. When
reversing the phase a lot of harmonics and
overtones are produced, and with the guitar


fully cranked with a treble booster you can

achieve some screaming leads! One of Brians
most favoured out of phase combinations is
using the neck and middle pickups, with one
of them reversed. This is the solo tone for
Bohemian Rhapsody, which produces high
octave harmonics, especially when attacking
the strings with a sixpence. Another great
combination is the bridge and neck pickups
engaged, with one of them reversed. These
two pickups really pull and fight against
each other, with some very interesting tonal
results. Just sitting with this guitar and
experimenting for a short time you get to
hear how much of a useful studio tool it is,
The Wilkinson tremolo system fitted on
the BMG Special is one of the best vintage
tremolos I have ever used. Fully floating, it
allows upward and downward motion, and
is equally at home adding light vibrato to
chords as it is dive bombing and wrenching
up screaming out of phase harmonics.
You can even flick it to get the Steve Vai
blubber effects. The stability is fantastic,
returning to pitch from a healthy dose of
abuse. This is obviously aided by the guitars
straight string pull construction and locking
I have used a variety of Brian May signature
guitars over the last 10 years of working on
the show. In London I started out using
Burns version, and the first incarnation
of the BM Special. Touring in Europe I
used the original KZ/Fryer Super and, as
I mentioned, I own a 2009 BM Special,
which had a huge amount of build and
hardware improvements from the original
first generation Special, so I had plenty to

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

compare this production guitar with.

And the verdict? The BM Guitars team
has yet again made further improvements,
making this a very well constructed, versatile,
and unique sounding instrument, offering
great build quality and fantastic playability,
at a very budget friendly price. It also comes
with a premier padded gig bag with a
stitched Brian May logo.
Perhaps the $64,000 question is, does this
guitar only work for Brian May fans? My
answer is no - it has a lot more potential.
Most working guitarists reach for either Les
Paul or Strat style guitars, both producing
specific tones in their own right. The BM
Special has its own unique voice, and is
capable of producing a wider range of tones
to most guitars. This guitar would make a
great addition to any working guitarists tone
tools. END >

Brian May Special

MSRP 749 US $1,067.03 (see
website for offers)
Made in: Korea
Acoustic Chambered Mahogany


Two-Piece Scratch Plate

Set-In Mahogany Neck
24 Scale - 24 Fret Ebony

Dual Truss Rod

Graphite nut
Wilkinson WVP Knife Edge
Tremolo Bridge with BM Custom
Trem Arm
3 x Tri-Sonic Style, Series Wired,
Single Coil Pickups
Original BM Style Electrics Individual Pickup ON/OFF + Phase
Switching System

Grover Locking Rotomatic Tuners



Brian May Fryer /

Knight Audio Treble
Boosters & KAT Strap
Treble Booster

In his formative years Brian May

listened to all kinds of guitar music. His
favourite guitarists included the master
of clean sounds, Hank Marvin, but he was
also drawn towards distorted tones of Jimi
Hendrix and Rory Gallagher and was curious
about how he could achieve these himself.
The answer came after seeing Rory at a
performance at the Marquee club in London.
Brian and his friends waited behind to talk
to Rory. Rory graciously informed Brian that
he achieved his tone by plugging his guitar
in a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster and
a Vox AC30. It was from that point that
Brian started using treble boosters, and has
continued to do so throughout his career.
Over the years Brian has used numerous
treble boosters; Guild even produced a
number of signature treble boosters for
him at one stage. For many years however,
Brian used Pete Cornish treble boosters
that were based on the original sound of



Treble boosters a
Rangemaster Tre
notably by the gre
footsteps was Bria
Jamie Humphri

the Dallas Rangemaster. Enter Greg Fryer,

who as well as building replica RS guitars
for Brian, and who started building a variety
of treble boosters, some with gain controls,
some without, but based on the Cornish
interpretation. Fryer was building these units
by hand, and with more and more requests
for a signature BM booster from the public,
larger scale manufacturing began with the
help of Nigel Knight of Knight Audio
So what does a treble booster do exactly?
The treble booster doesnt actually produce
a sound itself, but it helps to push your amp
into a smooth overdrive/distortion. The
treble booster produces a set amount of gain
boost that hits the valves harder, pushing the
amp to distort. But there is also some clever
EQ going on, with the treble booster rolling
off a certain amount of low end and boost
upper frequencies; in the case of the Fryer/
KAT (Knight Audio Technologies) boosters


Versatile Very well specced Great sounds Go


New to the market and yet to be proven

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

are woven into the legend and lore of effects pedals. Back in the early 1960s, the Dallas
eble Booster was one of the only effects units on the market and was widely used eat Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher, who paired it with his Vox AC30s. Following in Rorys
an May, whose use of treble boosters has become an integral part of his unique sound.
es looks at four versions of Brian May endorsed TBs.

Brian May Fryer /Knight Audio Treble Boosters & KAT Strap Treble Booster

ood looks


around 2.7Khz. But it also rolls off some
top, around 5Khz, because boosting top end
creates a fizzy tone. Rolling off the top helps
keep the sound of the treble booster full and
warm, while the boosted upper-mids creates
a cutting tone that sits in the mix, and
rolling off bottom stops the sound becoming
muddy and woolly. A treble booster will
give you a great sounding tone that makes a
guitar sit where it should sit.
Fryer/KAT produces three signature Brian
May treble boosters, Treble Booster Touring,
Treble Booster Deluxe, and Treble Booster
Plus, all three of which do something

quite different. Nigel Knight of KAT also

produces his own range of treble boosters,
including the very small and compact strap
booster, which Brian May uses pretty much
exclusively. Ive had all four to film for this
The Fryer boosters have been demonstrated
on the same guitar so you can really get a
good idea of how each one notches up the
gain, and alters the tone. The KAT booster
I demoed on my RS Model 84 fitted with
original 1984 Brian May signature DiMarzio

Fryer/KAT Treble Booster

Great EQ curve
Plenty of Gain boost
Rich smooth distortion

Battery power only
Lack of on/off switch and gain and EQ


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



First lets take a look at the Treble Booster
Touring, which was the first booster the
Fryer designed and built for Brian, and is the
one that he used for a number of years. This
is also the choice of booster that we used on
We Will Rock You shows in London, and
Germany. The pedal is housed in a sturdy
red metal casing, with the in and output
sockets situated on the top of the unit. The
unit is battery powered only, with the battery
compartment on the left side. This pedal
doesnt have an on off switch - yep thats
correct, its on all the time, just how Brian
uses them. For some this may be off putting
but if you play off the guitar volume control
then it really does work. The unit produces
31db of gain, and with its EQ voicing will
go from very glassy expressive cleans with the
guitar volume backed off, to a rich crunchy
rhythm sound volume half up, great for
producing a crunchy sound with plenty of
space, and not at all muddy.
Crank the guitar volume up to maximum,
and youll get a smooth lead distortion,
great for articulate defined passages and long
sustaining bends. This unit will also produce
wonderful feedback tones. One thing to
consider when buying a Fryer BM treble
booster is that you cannot alter the tone
or gain; this is a pre-set tone. Brian doesnt
adjust pedals or ever stomp on pedals; all
the tone shaping he does is done on the Red
Special. This unit will also work in both
transistor and valve amps; for the demo I
had it plugged into a Thundertomate TAE,
which is a tube amp emulator, a transistor
pedal (well be reviewing one of these in a
future issue - Ed)


I am very familiar with this booster, and I

love it. I prefer using boosters to overdrive
or distortion units, and have found myself
leaning more towards treble boosters because
they just get the guitar tone in the correct
place EQ wise.

Fryer/KAT Treble Booster

A very well built no frill booster
Expressive vowel-like EQ curve
Extra gain boost, aiding more distortion
Produces a very clear clean drive tone

Battery power only
Lack of on off switch and gain and EQ

The Treble Booster Deluxe is the next

booster up, and is a slightly different beast
to the touring. The layout of the Deluxe is
the same as the Touring; in- and outputs
on the top, battery compartment on the
side, and no on/off switch or controls; the
only obvious difference being the magenta
coloured box. So whats the difference inside?
First, this little box gives you extra gain 35db - and has had some low end dialled
in. By adding back the low end the gain has
been increased, and tonally this makes it
sound very different. The sound of this treble

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

booster has been compared to Brians mid-1970s

tone, and has a distinct vowel like quality to the
sound. Once again, to alter the tone you do not
use the box; the gain and EQ is all pre-set, and
non-adjustable. Instead you work your guitar as
Brian does, and the result is a set of very organic
tones. Once again this unit cleans up nicely, and
responds to pick attack. As I wind up the guitar
volume more you really start to notice the EQ
difference, and the extra gain. This really is a
fantastic sounding booster. This unit will work
with valve amps and transistor amps, and will
also work with humbucker guitars.

KAT/Fryer Treble
Booster Plus
Plenty of gain boost for added flexibility
Very full thick EQ voicing
A very rich smooth distortion
Very dynamic pedal, reacts to subtle
guitar volume changes

Battery power only
Lack of on off switch and gain and EQ


This is our final Fryer booster, and Ive saved
the best till last. Once again the layout and
construction is the same as on the previous
two, but soundwise its very different. Based
on Brians late 70s tone, this booster gives
you 36db of boost, so its quite a noticeable
jump from the Touring booster. The low
end as been bought in more, aiding the gain
boost, and more of the mid frequencies have
been pushed, giving you a very full warm
sounding booster. To be honest this booster
floored me, and I love the tone voicing and
gain structure of the Plus. Once again this
pedal will work with both single coil and
humbucker guitars, and both valve and
transistor amps.

Brian only uses a treble booster between his

guitar and his amp, but prefers the booster
before his wireless, driving the wireless hard,
which actually adds to his live sound. Prior
to the development of this product he had
been using some small custom-built strap
boosters, a regular treble booster being too
bulky to strap mount, but had been having
trouble with RF noise, and interference
from stage lighting. Nigel Knight stepped in
with the task of building a strap booster that
would eliminate these issues. Brians tech,
Pete Malandrone, also requested an on/off
switch to conserve battery life and to save
him the task of unscrewing the boosters on
all the guitars before each show to change

KAT Strap Mount

Treble Booster
Lightweight multi-purpose treble
On/off switch and adjustable gain tr
Battery indicator
Plenty of clean dynamic gain:
Virtually noiseless

Boutique price, but totally hand made
and worth it!

batteries. The result is the KAT strap booster,

which I have to say is a boutique work of art.

Our final booster is Brians main choice of

live treble booster, and is also the booster
that I predominantly used on the 2014/15
We Will Rock You German tour, and the
2015 Champions of Rock Swedish tour.

Nigel has achieved the impossible here,

hand building each of them, he compares
it to building a ship in a bottle. He has
managed to design a small, compact strap
treble booster that is quiet, and versatile. The
booster is housed in a small metal box that
attaches to the guitar strap with a very strong


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Velcro and Velcro straps. The top of the

booster has a small on/off switch, as well as a
battery indicator light. There is also a small
screw that can be used to increase or decrease
the desired amount of gain. This screw is
recessed so it wont get accidentally turned
during use. The bottom of the booster has
a moulded shielded guitar cable attached,
with a Switchcraft right angled jack plug
that attaches directly to your guitar. Next to
this is the output that can be fed to either a
wireless pack or to an amp. This booster can
be used with or without a wireless unit, and
works great as a standalone treble booster
with a huge advantage over pedal board
mounted units. Because the cable built into
the strap booster is short, it means you have
a run of just a few inches from your guitar to
your booster.


Normally the first run of cable from the

guitar to the first pedal on your board is
considerably longer, which results in signal
loss and diminished high-end frequencies.
With the KAT booster the high frequencies
are not affected, so your tone remains
pure and defined - genius! The unit is
perfectly shielded so you wont get noise
or interference when using high gain. Also
being strap mounted, the strap booster can
act as a line driver to boost signal through
long runs of cable to the first effect on your
pedal board.

For our demo I ran the strap booster from

my guitar into the TAE pedal and straight
to the mixer. The tone of the strap booster
is based on the touring booster, Brians
preferred booster tone, with a variable gain
between the touring and deluxe. This booster
produces a wonderful tone - very defined
dynamic drive, with plenty of crisp high
end when cleaned up. The strap booster
is very dynamic and reacts to the slightest
adjustment of the guitar volume; from clean,
to crunch, to drive, to full smooth distortion,
with minimal compression when the guitar is
turned fully up.

This has been quite a tricky review to rate.
Each of these boosters does something in
its own right very well. I love all three of
the Fryer boosters, but if I had to choose
one to take with me on a session it would
be the Plus, as the tone is richer and there
is a little more gain to play with. But for
me the winner, if there has to be one, is the
strap booster. It is small and lightweight,
well shielded, and sounds fantastic. Having
it strap mounted eliminates that initial cable
run from the guitar, so you dont lose highend frequencies. Also having it on your strap
as a line driver to your first pedal is a great
idea. I have been using one of these for well
over a year now, and have just ordered a
second; but dont take my word for it, listen
to Brians live tone and hear for yourself! END >

Treble Boosters

3 399)

Price: Touring, Deluxe and

Plus - 129.99 each (Box set of

Specifications and ordering: See text

and website:

KAT STB Strap-Mount 220



The Deacy Amp

rian Mays tone is

one of the most
recognisable in
Rock and consists of some
very unlikely components. If
having a totally home made
guitar that was built using
any materials he and his
father could lay their hands
on wasnt enough, many
of his finest moments were
record using an amplifier
built from parts found in a
skip (aka dumpster)! Songs
such as Good Company,
Killer Queen, Bohemian
Rhapsody and A Winters
Tale, to name just a few, all
contained sections recorded
with this very distinctive
sounding homemade amp.
Combined with the Red
Special and a treble booster,
the Deacy, as it was
dubbed, produced a very
cutting crisp distorted tone,


which when manipulated

with the pickup and phase
switching capabilities of the
Red Special, different mic
positioning, and the use
of a wah as a tone control,
enabled Brian to produce
symphonic orchestral like
sounds from his guitar. The
Deacy became very much a
part of Queen and Brians
voice in the studio.
Brian wasnt the only
academically gifted member
of Queen, nor was he
the only one to have
experimented building
musical equipment with
anything that came to
hand. Queens bassist, John
Deacon, was an Honours
electronics student studying
in London and found the
circuit board that formed
the basis for the Deacy amp
discarded in a builders skip

in 1972. His attention was

drawn to the wires hanging
over the side of the skip,
and on closer investigation
he discovered the circuit
board attached to the other
end. John decided to use the
circuit board to build a small
practice amp for playing
guitar through. He mounted
the circuit inside an old
bookshelf speaker he had
lying around, and mounted
a jack socket on the rear of
the speaker. There was also
a power lead coming out of
the back of the speaker that
connected to a PP9 battery.
The Deacy amp was born!
It had no controls and
produced a warm, slightly
distorted tone, but history
was about to be made when
John took the little amp
along to a Queen rehearsal.
Brian May was intrigued

PROS 100% authentic reproduction Simple design

moments in Rock history!!


It may be the strangest amp weve ever

amp has featured on some of the most
ultimate Brian May sound with the hel
you want one youll have to move quic

Expensive for an amp with absolutely no contr

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

r reviewed. It may be one of the strangest amps being made for guitar! But The Deacy
t listened to solos in Rock history. Jamie Humphries continues his search for the
lp of an amp based on a discarded circuit board liberated from a roadside skip. But if

and plugged in his Red Special and treble booster. Driving the amp with the treble booster
pushed both the input and output stage, producing a very unique distorted tone that Brian
has never been able to achieve on anything else, analogue or digital. From that point on the

Great size and tone for studio recording Tone tried and tested on some of the greatest




Brian took part in a blind test, resulting

in him choosing the replica when asked
which one was his original!
Deacy amp became part of Brians arsenal of
tone tools; often blending it with his darker
AC30 tone.
Brian and his tech Pete Malandrone
eventually decided that they wanted a replica
of the Deacy made as a back up for Brian,
as well as producing a unit to sell. Around
thirteen years were spent painstakingly
researching and building an exact replica;
Brian even allowed the original Deacy to be
taken apart to match the speakers, circuit

board and transistors correctly to produce

the legendary Deacy tone. This task was
originally undertaken by Australian Greg
Fryer and ultimately concluded by Nigel
Knight, who has an extensive knowledge
of vintage electric components. Everything
was researched and analysed to the utmost
degree, even down to cabinet thickness
and the weave of the grille cloth. Experts
at Celestion Speakers aided Nigel, with
extensive analysis of the speakers that
would eventually result in exact recreations.

The Deacy Amp


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



Eventually the finished replica was sat with
Brians original Deacy, and Brian took part
in a blind test, resulting in him choosing
the replica when asked which one was his
I had been lucky enough to see the original
Deacy at Brians studio when I was there
for a rehearsal once, although I had never
heard it in the flesh, so this was a first for
me. For our review, Pete Malandrone very
trustingly allowed me to use one of Brians
spare Deacy replicas, that had in fact been
used on the Queen and Adam Lambert
tour. Brian integrates the Deacy amp into
his live rig, and uses it on such songs as
Last Horizon.
As previously mentioned, this is an exact
replica of Brians original amp, as handbuilt
by John Deacon and is constructed from
veneered chipboard, with a sapele finish.
The cabinet is a sealed box, with mitred
corner joints; the interior features a front
and rear chipboard baffle. The push-pull
0.75 Watt four transistor amplifier drives
two speakers; a 6 low/midrange frequency
30 Watt twin cone speaker, and a single 3
paper cone high frequency speaker. The
amplifier can be powered in two different
ways; either a 9V DC PP9 battery or with
the KAT Deacy amp battery Simulator
unit. I used the battery simulator for
our review, which faithfully emulates the
battery supply conditions of the PP9. The
battery emulator is mains powered and
features a control that lets you adjust how
much power the battery has, for example
Brian prefers the sound of the Deacy when
the battery is running out. With the battery


emulator you simply turn down the battery

level control.
For the demo, I used the BMG Super
(reviewed elsewhere in this issue) into a
Fryer/KAT treble booster deluxe; I also
used a sixpenny piece. Straight away
from the first chord I hit you could hear
the distinctive Brian May tone. The
distortion is very saturated, and with
a moderate compression. Even though
this amp is transistor based and has no
controls at all, the tone is rich, and has a
very distinct top end. Turning down the
volume, the amplifier cleans up, and as
the guitar volume is increased there is a
steady gain increase. For the main part I
used Brians most favoured tone, with the
bridge and middle pickups, creating a thick
humbucker style tone. But switching to the
neck and middle and kicking one pickup
out of phase creates some very familiar
To sum things up this is an excellent amp
for several reasons. First, its the Brian May
tone in a box, so for the fan/fanatic this
really is a must have. Second, its simplistic
design is one of its winning features.
Guitar amps are often so over the top with
way too many controls, that they become
confusing and intimidating. The Deacy
on the other hand just sounds fantastic,
with no controls. The only variables are
the pedals in front, and how you operate
your guitar. Third, if like me you have a
home studio this is a great low wattage
amp for recording, with a tone that is just
perfectly designed for placing the guitar in
the correct position in the mix. Lets face it,

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

years! Knight Audio says it is now on the

last 20 that will be produced. The obsolete
components used are now unobtainable so
rather than compromise with make-dos and
maybe good enoughs, Knight Audio has
ceased production and says it will build no
more. END >

if you look at the hits it has been used on,

thats not a bad track record at all!
However - and take this as a warning - if
you have decided you really want one of
these unique amps dont delay, thinking
you will be able to pick one up in a few

The Deacy amp

Price: 799 (battery simulator optional extra)
LF/MF Unit - 6 Twin Cone 25mm
Voice Coil 30W

Made in: UK
Amplifier Section
Form - Four transistor, transformer
coupled push-pull amplifier

Cabinet Section

Output pair Operating Class - B

Construction - Sealed box. Mitred

corner joints

Output Power (Undistorted) 750mW (RMS)

Finish - Sapele

Power Requirements - 9VDC (PP9

not supplied)

Cabinet walls - Matched A/B

veneered Chipboard

Reverse Polarity Protection - Yes


HF Unit - 3 Paper cone 15mm Voice

Coil 15W

Front Baffle Material - 12mm bare


Transistor Compliment - AC125,

AC126, 2 x AC128
Speaker Section

Rear Baffle Material - 12mm bare


Form - Twin driver/passive


Internal damping - 25mm acoustic


Loading - Infinite baffle, sealed box



Vox AC30 C2 Custom

he final link
in Brian Mays
signal chain is his
faithful trio of Vox AC30
amps. Brians love affair with
AC30s began at a young
age, witnessing his two of
his heroes, Hank Marvin
and Rory Gallagher, both
favouring the combo to
produce very different and
unique tones. It was Brians
after gig conversation with
Rory that prompted him
to head into London and
purchase two rather beaten
up AC30s for just 25 each
(those were the days! - Ed)
Brian has used many AC30s
over the years, and he has a
huge collection of them. He
even had his own limited
edition signature AC30
released a few years ago
and today favours three
modified AC30TBX amps



in his set, with the middle

amp dry, whilst the outer
two heads have the effected
signal. This together with
his Red Special, a treble
booster - and lets not forget
the sixpence as a pick - all
go together in creating his
majestic tone.
The AC30 C2 is an up to
date take on the classic Top
Boost model, and features
some very welcome features,
whilst retaining its classic
Vox styling. We opted for
the C2 over the hand-wired
AC30 for two reasons; the
first being affordability,
and the second being a
purely cosmetic slant when
comparing the amp to Brian
Mays favourites.
The amp features two 25
Watt Celestion Green Back
speakers, with the traditional

The Vox AC30 has had as

relatively affordable C2 C
gear, Jamie Humphries

choice of EL84 power tubes.

If you are a real purist you
may wish to track down
one of the Alnico blue
speakered versions, but that
is going to cost you a hefty
premium. The amp features
two independent channels,
which arent foot switchable,
but includes two high and
low independent inputs.
The channels consist of a
normal channel and a top
boost, which includes bass
and treble.
We also have a reverb section
that includes tone and
level plus a tremolo section
featuring speed and depth
controls. Both the reverb
and tremolo can be switched
by a footswitch that is sold,
a bit disappointingly, as an
optional extra. The master
section includes tone cut, for
rolling off top end, and the


Great mix of tones Retro styling with modern f


Foot switch not included Vox purists may not

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

s many reincarnations as a Tibetan Llama - some good, some less successful. The
Custom is one of the most recent. For the final part of our examination of Brian Mays
assesses how well it does in comparison with some of the classic models.

master volume. The controls are mounted onto the chassis, located on the top of the amp, and
maintain the traditional vintage look with chicken head knobs. The top panel also houses the
standby controls and indicator lights.

features Good price point

take to the C2s modernisation



With the help of the master volume I

was able to push the normal volume
to start driving the tubes..
The rear of the cabinet is partially open
but differs quite a lot from genuine vintage
AC30s by being quite well guarded. This,
we assume, is for safety reasons (it will
keep careless fingers off your glassware!) so
thats fair enough as it has no impact of the
amps performance. More significantly, the
C2 includes some welcome new features
including an effects loop; this is a plus point
when wanting to emulate Brians use of delay
and chorus, without having an elaborate
switching system. There is also an additional

speaker output for adding an extension

cabinet, and also the foot switch jack socket.
Performance wise the amp produced some
beautifully rich warm tones, with a classy
boutique feels to them. The normal channel
was ideal for twangy Hank-style cleans. With
the help of the master volume I was able to
push the normal volume to start driving the
tubes, giving me a convincing Link Wray
tone, especially when I dialled in some
tremolo and reverb. The reverb produces

Vox AC30 C2 Custom


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



a very lush ambient effect, and with the
tone control you can tailor the tone of
your reverb to your choice. The top boost
channel can also produce clean to crunch
tones, but is slightly more flexible due to
the EQ. The sound of both channels also
changes depending on whether you are
using the high or low inputs. When driving
the level of the top boost channel whilst
plugged into the high input, thanks to the
master volume I could drive the amp and
get a Brian May like tone at a level that
wouldnt get you kicked out of your band!
To my mind this is a great AC30, and
mixes a wide range of classic Vox tones with


modern features and build quality. Some

die hard fans may dislike the PCB build,
the master volume and the lack of a valve
rectifier. But what you get is an amp at a
more affordable price, capable of mixing
60s inspired cleans with classic Rock
crunch and with which, when driven, you
can achieve much more modern sounds.
The addition of the master volume aids
getting crunch tones at a more sedate level,
plus with greater headroom you can drive
this beauty on miked pub gigs. If youre
looking to start a Brian May inspired rig,
the C2 is a great starting point; highly
recommended! END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

VOX AC30C2 Custom Specifications

MSRP 922.80

US $1,540

Made in: China

FX SEND jack

Output Power: 30 Watts RMS into

16 Ohms

Dimensions (W x D x H): 702 x 265

x 556 mm / 27.64 x 10.43 x 21.89


Speaker: 2 x 12 8 ohm Celestion

G12M Greenback
Inputs: Normal input jack (high
and low), Top Boost input jack
(high and low), FX RETURN jack,
Footswitch jack

Weight: 32.2 kg / 70.99 lbs.

Options: VFS2A Footswitch


Outputs: External loudspeaker

jack, Extension loudspeaker jack,



GJ2 GJ Select SMT Trans Emerald - 4AFMT, RW, FR, HH, CHW

rover Jackson is a heavyweight

name in electric guitar history,
with strong ties to the Charvel and
Jackson brands, which were everywhere in
the 80s. When Wayne Charvel and Grover
Jackson got together, we saw the birth of
the infamous pointy headstock superstrat.
They were good times, full of back combed
hair, locking tremolos and ripped jeans, all
of which I did, but I never quite crossed the
line by owning or playing a guitar with a
pointy headstock. In 1985, Grover sold the
company, which ended up in the hands of
Fender, while Grover himself worked as a
freelance consultant for other guitar makers
before starting out under his own steam
again in 2012.
Today, Grover Jackson has quite a range of
GJ2 models, the flagship versions of which
are the Select series. We peered hard at the
GJ2 website, trying to work out exactly
what the difference is between these and
the Premium series and, frankly, ended up
none the wiser. It would probably help if the
website explained all that.



Also special to the Select models are

added luxury appointments such as hand
picked tonewoods and the highest quality
components. These guitars are all made from
scratch in the Laguna Hills, USA and each
GJ2 Select guitar is personally inspected and
played by Grover himself before it leaves the
Our review guitar is called the GJ Select
SMT Trans Emerald and if you are into
green guitars, then this one is for you. The
highly flamed maple capped body is stained
a rich translucent Emerald Green which
certainly makes a visual statement and would
get you noticed even before you have played
a single note. The flame cap on this one
sits on an ash body rather than the more
traditional mahogany, but other guitars in
the Select SMT range offer the mahogany
body, maple cap spec, if your heart is set on
it. Grover has opted for a roasted maple neck
on this one with a rosewood fret board. The
roasted maple trend has recently swept the
industry and apparently it does nice things to
the stability and tone of the wood. On this
guitar you would be forgiven for thinking


Highest build quality Highest wood quality Be


Stiff competition and choice in this price range

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

GJ2, the rebirth of Grover Jackson as a major name in guitar building, is reaching
for the top with a range of distinctive guitars that runs from handmade pro-class
stunners to surprisingly affordable Korean versions. In the first of our look at the
two extremes of the GJ2 range, Michael Casswell considers the hand built GJ
Select in vivid Trans Emerald.

that its a solid rosewood neck, because

the maple has turned almost as dark as the
rosewood board which sits on it, but it is
definitely maple. The 24 fret rosewood
fretboard has Grovers own take on a
compound radius, which makes the guitar
effortless to play with a wide and flat feel
to it that gives it a real nice modern feel,
able to cater for any of todays advanced
techniques. Specifically the compound
radius is 10 to 14 which I dont think
you will easily find on any other brand
name guitar. It goes without saying the
guitar plays exceptionally well, helped also
by large tall frets. Everything is effortless
and comfortable.
Its good to see a real Floyd Rose on this
guitar, which I personally feel very at home
with, though I know is not for everyone.
Using a Floyd or any good trem system
properly is an aspect of playing that many
players ignore or simply cant grasp, but
in the right hands it adds a whole realm
of musical coolness. The guitar is also

est components Comfortable and Versatile

Its Green



Add a GJ2 Select to your audition list if

you win the lottery!
back routed on the body, so the trem is fully
floating, allowing huge upward pull. For
my playing style, the back route is a great
and welcome addition. The association with
Floyd Rose and Grover Jackson goes back
decades and its good to see the tradition
carrying on. This guitar will not go out of
tune, because not only does it have the Floyd
locking nut, but it also has a set of locking
Hipshot tuners, which is certainly leaving
nothing to chance at the headstock end! Of

course, these are all options and you can

pretty much pick and choose the hardware of
your dreams.
Pickups are two Habanero humbuckers
and these are handwound in house. They
sound nicely voiced, expressive, and are very
controllable from the guitars volume pot.
The five way switch splits the pick ups in
position 2 and 4, and gives a combination
of both neck and bridge in position 3. You

GJ2 GJ Select SMT Trans Emerald - 4AFMT, RW, FR, HH, CHW


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




dont get truly authentic Strat tones, but it

certainly is in the ball park. The neck and
bridge pick ups are warm and defined with
a medium output that can roar or twang,
depending on your mood.
The pale blue hard case this guitar comes
with is one of the prettiest I have seen, and I
think I would actually get a little disturbed
as time inflicts its marks and scars that cases
unfortunately accrue.
So the GJ2 Select range are in a market where
demanding players want the best. In the same
price bracket we are looking at Suhr, Tom
Anderson, James Tyler, Charvel and new guy
on the block John McGuire (son of Mike, of
Valley Arts and Gibson fame). Its for players
who probably own all the usual industry
standard guitars, but that are looking for
something a little bespoke and something that
can deliver on many levels. That makes this
is a real players guitar and a very significant
purchase at a fairly eye-watering price.
However, if thats the league you are in and
this is the sort of guitar that appeals, then you arent going to go wrong here with a beautifully
made, fine-sounding guitar that competes with those other brands on equal terms. Add a GJ2
Select to your audition list if you win the lottery! END >


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

GJ2 GJ Select
SMT Trans
Emerald 4AFMT, RW, FR,
MSRP 3,359 US $3,960
Made in: Handmade in USA


Ash body with AAAA flamed

maple top

Rosewood fingerboard with mini

bulls-eye fret inlays
10-14 compound radius neck
Nickel Habanero humbuckers
1 x Volume Control, 1 x Tone
Original Floyd Rose
5-way pickup selector
Hipshot staggered locking tuners

Transparent Emerald finish

Chrome hardware

Original Floyd Rose locking

tremolo bridge and nut

Custom GJ2 Hardshell Case


Roasted flamed maple neck



GJ2 Inspiration Series Concord

his GJ2 Concorde is part of

the Inspiration series from the
great Grover Jackson, which also
includes guitars called the Shredder and the
Hellhound in the series. The Inspiration
series guitars are manufactured in Korea
and come on to the market at a fraction of
the cost of the US handmade guitars, but
still deliver great quality and great attitude.
Some of you may recognise the shape of the
Concorde as the white sharkfin guitar that
the late Randy Rhoads played with Ozzy
back in the day. That original guitar was
built in 1980 by Grover, and was the first
guitar to have the Jackson name on it. The
Jackson brand is now owned by Fender and
it must be odd for Grover Jackson to be

fighting for a share of the market place with

other guitars that bear his name.
So lets get one thing straight from the start:
sitting down with this guitar is out of the
question, as the shape simply slides off your
leg and away from you. You need a strap
to sit down with it, but why would you
sit down with a guitar that has this much
attitude anyway? The body is solid white
with black stripe highlights. If white is too
conservative for you, youll be glad to know
the Concorde also comes in a vibrant pink
or green. The solid paint colour means we
dont know how many pieces of wood are
used to make that large body shape but it
is apparently made of basswood, which is
a great sounding tonewood. Also lurking

This guitar inherently has a nice vibrant an

that is very useable in real world situations,
music you play



Well made Value for money Nice tone Big at


Could suffer serious depreciation Love or hat

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


A genuine Grover Jackson-made GJ2 a bit out of your price range? No worries! The
GJ2 Inspiration Series sees the great mans guitars made in Korea (home of the best
second line guitars, still). Michael Casswell checks out the very Randy Rhoads
style Concorde.

under that paint job, according to the

specs we were sent, is apparently a flamed
maple top - which left us scratching our
heads. Sure, put a maple top on a guitar to
influence the tone, but why choose flamed
maple? And why cover it with solid paint?
Obviously, we werent about to scrape the
paint away to check, so well just have to
assume it has what it says it has - even if we
cant work out why! Whatever the reasons,
the resonance of the guitar is actually very
good, so whatever is happening under the
paint is fine.
The body shape gives super easy access to
the highest frets and the three piece maple
neck is very comfortable in the hand. The
neck and body are glued together much

nd resonant character
, no matter what style of


te looks


like a flying V or an SG and even acoustically
the guitar sounds vibrant and alive. The big
frets make it very easy to play and our sample
was set up well with a nice low action that
still rung.
Handling trem duties we have an onboard
Floyd Rose and this being a guitar of Korean
manufacture, its the Floyd Rose 1000 series,
no doubt used as opposed to the original
German version, to keep costs reasonable.
In my opinion, these less expensive Floyds
tend to suffer from premature wear, but
at the moment, everything works great. A
Floyd trem system does add a lot to a guitars
versatility when it is used well. Not only does
the Concorde have a Floyd locking nut, it

also has Hipshot locking tuners, so going out

of tune is not an option on this guitar!
The twin (presumably US-made) Habanero
humbuckers are voiced very well. The guitar
has a nice mid-range sweetness that doesnt
sound harsh in the high end and the pickups
clean up nicely when you roll down the
guitar volume.
How much you pay for a guitar is no
guarantee of good tone and many a mid
price guitar out there can sound way better
than a top of the price range version. This
guitar inherently has a nice vibrant and
resonant character that is very useable in real
world situations, no matter what style of

GJ2 Inspiration Series Concorde


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

music you play. Although you may get

some interesting comments if you turned
up to your local Blues jam with this one!
Due to the attitude and look of the
Concorde, I doubt it will be snapped up
by seasoned pro players, especially when
ordered in pink, but I could be wrong,
after all, a vibrant pink guitar can look
great if you have the correct shade guitar
strap! There is no denying that this is a
well built instrument that has to stand
up to close scrutiny and the reputation of
its American counterparts. I would hazard a guess that this will appeal to the younger rocker,
or the older Randy Rhoads fanatic. Either way the GJ2 offers good value (it even comes with a
case) and a big attitude. END >

GJ2 Inspiration
Series Concorde

2 piece maple neck - neck thru

MSRP 839 US $999

10-14 compound radius neck

Concorde FR Antique White w/


2 x Habanero Special humbuckers


Made in: South Korea

Basswood body with AAAA
flamed maple top
Antique white finish with black
Floyd Rose 1000 bridge

Bound rosewood fingerboard

1 x Volume Control, 1 x Tone

3-way pickup selector
Hipshot staggered locking tuners
Chrome hardware
GJ2 Hardshell Case included




Rosewood CHM

nown primarily
for its guitars
aimed at high
gain players, ESP and its
LTD sibling also produce
a great range of more
vintage inspired designs
that rarely get as much
attention as their pointy
horned brethren. The
latest such product is
the LTD SN-1000W, a
traditional S-type shaped
guitar with just enough
subtle design changes to
give it a visual style of its
own and featuring a great
combination of both vintage
and modern appointments.
The SN-1000W features a
classic combination of an
alder body with a bolt-on
maple neck and rosewood
fretboard, our review model
being finished in a very
attractive Charcoal Metallic



paint that matches very

well with the white threeply scratch plate. LTD has
gone for a contoured neck
joint, referred to as star cut,
allowing excellent upper fret
access and a modern twist
to the classic bolt on design.
The body shape is slightly
sleeker looking than the
traditional design too, with
thinner horns and subtly
modified contours delivering
a lovely looking guitar that
is both comfortable to
play and easy on the eyes.
The Thin U neck shape
is extremely friendly for
all hand sizes and 22 large
XJ (extra jumbo) frets
and 350mm radius ensure
a modern feel and easy
ESP has chosen professional
level hardware throughout
the SN-1000W with LTD

Always been tempted by a wa

Tom Quayle finds the very th

locking tuners, a Wilkinson

VSVG, six-screw, floating
trem, pair of Seymour
Duncan SSL-3 single coils
and a Seymour Duncan TB14 Humbucker in the bridge
featuring a chrome finish. A
five-way switch and single
volume and tone controls
complete the design for a
guitar that feels immediately
recognisable but is much
more versatile than the
classic S-style guitar, and
features modern tones and
As youd expect for an LTD
at this price point, build
quality is impeccable and
the guitar feels great straight
out of the box (an ESP/
LTD case is available for
the SN1000W but is not
included in the price). The
metallic paint job is superb
with a lovely sparkle in


Excellent example of a Modern/Vintage S-style g


Not very original No coil split for the humbuck

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

walk on the wild side with one of ESPs LTDs but wanted something a bit less pointy?

the light, giving the guitar

a high end look that is
reflected in the quality of
the fretwork, construction
and hardware choices.
The floating bridge works
extremely well, returning
to pitch flawlessly and
exhibiting very good tuning
stability in combination with
the locking tuners which
themselves are high quality
and allow for accurate tuning
with ease and fast string
changes. For easy set-ups
the guitar also features a
wheel-type truss rod adjuster
that is much easier to access
and adjust than one in the
As mentioned before, the
SN-1000W plays very nicely
indeed with a modern feel in
terms of both the slim, but
not skinny neck profile and
XJ fret size. Thanks to those

large frets and flatter radius,

the action can be set very
uniformly across the range of
the guitar, giving this LTD
instrument a very consistent
feel across the neck. ESP has
opted for a satin finish on
the neck and this aids the
fast, sleek feel even further,
producing a guitar that is
well suited to a plethora of
different styles from full-on
shred to Funk and Blues and
even heavy riffage.
Opting for neck and middle
single coils and a bridge
humbucker gives arguably
the most versatile tonal
setup for an S-style guitar
and the SN-1000Ws
Seymour Duncan pickups
give an excellent selection of
sounds. The middle pickup
is reverse wound for low
noise operation in positions
2 and 4 and both single coils

guitar Professional level hardware Great playability and tone Affordable for a Pro level guitar




The key point here is just how versatile

this pickup set is.
feature a hotter output that works really well
for higher gain situations without becoming
overpowering for subtler tones or losing that
classic glassy quality that we all know and
love in a Strat. The TB-14 Custom 5 bridge
humbucker is slightly more on the vintage
side of the spectrum, with Alnico 5 magnets
for a powerful sound without too much
output that works well for both drive and

clean tones. The key point here is just how

versatile this pickup set is, making this guitar
suitable for almost any scenario except where
massive amounts of gain and active pickups
are required. Its a shame theres not coil split
for the humbucker though.
ESP hasnt reinvented the wheel with the
LTD SN-1000W and of course there are a
lot of modernised Strat-derived designs on

ESP LTD SN-1000W Rosewood CHM


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




the market from a plethora of different companies that all aim to give you the best of vintage
and modern features. The ESP is an excellent example of this concept though, and comes at
a price that is very affordable for a professional level guitar with this level of hardware and
construction. If youre looking for this kind of guitar then you really ought to check out the
LTD SN-1000W as, whilst it might not be as exciting as a boutique, custom-built S-type
guitar, it does the job just as well! END >

ESP LTD SN-1000W Rosewood CHM

826 (street) US $899 (street)
Made in: Unknown

Hardware Color Chrome

Construction Bolt-On-Neck

Strap Button Standard

Scale 25.5

Tuners LTD Locking

Body Alder

Bridge Wilkinson VSVG Tremolo

Neck Maple

Neck PU Seymour Duncan SSL-3

Fingerboard Rosewood

Middle PU Seymour Duncan



Fingerboard Radius 350mm

Finish Charcoal Metallic

Bridge PU Seymour Duncan TB14

Nut Width 42mm

Electronics Passive

Nut Type Molded

Electronics Layout Vol/Tone/5Way Switch

Neck Contour Thin U

Frets/Type 22 XJ


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Hagstrom Impala Guitar

wedens Hagstrom
may not have been at
the forefront of guitar
design but for a while back
in the 1960s, the company
did have a following and,
particularly in Europe,
achieved some success.
Originally an accordion
maker, by 1958 it had got
into the spirit of Rock and
Roll and was making its own
idiosyncratic guitars. Theyre
much liked by the sort of
people who like the design
of Italian guitars of the early
1960s but, not to put too
fine a point on it, they were
much better made and far
more playable than most of
the Italian rivals. In both
cases, however, think sparkly
finishes, pearloid plastic and
stamped metal logos!
Hagstrom had a number of
firsts too - including the



first 8-string bass, the H8,

which was made a bit of
a legend by Jimi Hendrix.
They also made a number
of semi-acoustic and Jazz
models, some of which
command quite high prices
today on the vintage market.
One feature the company
was particularly proud of
and which is still is in use
is its H-Expander truss rod
So Hagstrom certainly
played its part in guitar
history and has been
bubbling around once again,
since it was reintroduced as
a brand a few years ago with
a range of models inspired
by those 1960s guitars. They
are very much aimed at the
Indie player who really does
not want to be seen with
a superstrat, a Fender or a

Looking for a g
following in th
Turner takes a

The model were reviewing

here is the Impala, heavily
based on a model launched
in 1963 - and doesnt it look
it? Lets say now that liking
the looks of this guitar (or
not) is really an aesthetic
decision. You either get it
or you dont! Our reviews
concentrate, as far as
possible, on the objective
points of a guitar, so well
leave the decision about
whether or not you like the
Impalas looks to you.
Pulling it from the case it
certainly is a unique looking
instrument and one of the
first things you notice is the
array of switches, leaving
you wondering what they all
do, and probably whether
they are they all necessary!
This was a common
design feature at the time.
European guitar makers


Good tones Excellent upper fretboard access


Issues with the nut on our example Flimsy tai

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

guitar that sets you firmly apart from the same old, same old? Hagstrom had a strong
he 1960s and is now back on the world scene with new and revived models. Lewis
a trip back to 1963 with the Impala.

decided that the more switches and knobs you

put on a guitar the better would-be players
thought it was - a design feature which went to
some pretty absurd lengths at times! Mind you,
Fender might have caught a dose of the same
bug at the time when they designed the Jaguar
and Jazzmaster, so no one was immune.
The finish on our sample was of a pretty high
quality though, personally, Im not a fan of
the stamped metal name on the body, but,
again, it fits with the tradition. The neck is
mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard, and its
a set neck - in other words a traditional glued
joint, so theres no bulky neck joint to get in
the way and the perfect marriage between body
and neck. As with all Hagstrom guitars, the
Impala uses the companys unique H-Expander
truss rod. Providing tension at both ends and
running the entire length of the neck, the rigid
yet light-weight alloy truss rod allows for a very
low action and thin neck, the company says.
The Impala does actually have a very thin neck
making it an easy to play guitar, however, our
sample didnt have a particularly low action - not
that thats necessarily a bad thing. The slightly
higher action meant there were no fret buzzing

Well balanced and comfortable

ilpiece Awkward and hard to figure out control set-up



The Hagstrom Impala is a good

sounding guitar and for the most part
well made
issues or intonation problems, for example.
I did have a slight issue with the nut on our
example, though. Exuberant bends on the
high E string tended to pop the string out of
the nut, which was annoying. This could be
sorted easily with a little light file work, but

you dont expect to have to do that kind of

thing on a new guitar.
The mahogany asymmetric double cutaway
body was comfortable to play and the use
of mahogany throughout gave a warm
tone while making the guitar fairly in light

Hagstrom Impala Guitar


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



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weight. The Impala is fitted with a Hagstrom

Vintage Tremar tailpiece which looks kind of
cool and very vintage, but it is never going
to stand up to much abuse. If dive bombs
and whammy bar tricks are your thing this
is definitely not the trem for you, any more
than would be a vintage Bigsby. On the other
hand, if you like a light shimmer on chords
then this should hold up fine and I didnt
have any tuning issues.
The two Alnico 5 Retro S pickups deliver
good quality sound with clarity, depth and
sparkle, which leads me on to all those
switches... Getting your head round all the
options is going to take some time, and
annoyingly there was no instruction book
that outlines this switch does this which
means trial and a lot of error. From what
I can make out, you can switch between
pickups, or a combination of both, there is a
mute switch (but this only works depending
where the other switches are) and a bass cut
which, although useful, seems to drop the
overall volume too, which is unfortunate.
There is absolutely no doubt that you can get
a great number of different sounds out of this
guitar from the multitude of options and to
be fair the tones are very good, from cutting
highs to deep lows, but boy its a complex


set-up! I can also see that switching whilst

playing could be a bit of a nightmare. Its
not like just switching a pickup selector with
your little finger: here you have a row of SIX
switches and you have to be aware of where
they each are to get the sound you want and
not inadvertently switch the mute on! This
will be right up the street of players that like
complex control options like those found on
a Fender Jag, but if you want a pick up and
play type thing then this may well just annoy
and frustrate.
The Hagstrom Impala is a good sounding
guitar and for the most part well made
(hopefully the nut issue noted above was a
one-off ). It plays well and the set neck makes
upper fret access a breeze, the body was
comfortable to play and the overall balance
was very good. I would be nervous about
giving the tailpiece too much stick however
and the switching options are a bit to over the
top and not clear enough for this reviewer.
If you like something unique with options
above and beyond anything you could dream
of, and you like that vintage look then the
Impala could just be what you are looking
for but this is one you are definitely going to
want to audition for yourself before you buy.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

MSRP 629. US $ Unknown
Made in: China
Material: Mahogany
Style: Asymmetric Double

Pickups: 2 x Hagstrom AlNiCo-5

Pickup Selection:
Neck Pickup On/Off
Neck Tone On/Off
Bridge Pickup On/Off
Bridge Tone On/Off

Binding: None

Mute On/Off


Top (Bass Cut) On/Off

Joint: Set Neck

Controls: 1 x Volume with R/C Tone


Material: Mahogany
Binding: None




Truss Rod: H-Expander

Bridge: Long Travel T-O-M Roller


Fingerboard/Nut Material:

Tailpiece: Hagstrom Vintage


Radius: 15
Inlays: 6 mm Pearl Dot

Machine Keys: Hagstrom 15:1 Ratio

Die Cast

Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo

Strings: DAddario EXP 110 (10-46)

Scale Length: 24.75 (628 mm)

Nut: GraphTech Black Tusq XL


Nut Width: 43mm



Panama Inferno 100

and Shaman 20

am honoured to be one of first players

in the UK to get to try out this new
range of amps from Panama. They
have arrived here through distributor Strings
and Things all the way from the jungles of
Panama at the base of some volcanoes, which
is not something you get to say very often
when reviewing guitar equipment! We had
two amps from the range to look at, the
Shaman 20 and the flagship Inferno 100,
which both have their own character and
places in the market.

A new range of tube amps

something very interestin

clean to super dirty. The obvious, most

workable, way to have your channels set
is to be able to go from the clean sounds
through to crunch through to full on gain
with each channel a bit dirtier than the one
before. The Inferno does this all very well
and the 6550/6L6 output tubes give huge
bottom end with clear sparkling highs and is
usually my output tube preference in amps
that I own. Six 12ax7 pre-amp valves allow
a cascading gain stage to take you from very
clean to huge amounts of filth and dirt.

Panama Inferno
Lets start with the Inferno, which would
be classed as the top of the range offering.
We are talking a big 100 Watts, with
six 12ax7 pre-amp valves, two 6550
power amp valves, four foot switchable
independent channels each with its own
EQ, two switchable master volumes,
switchable depth-boost controls, two level
controllable effects loop, in a box finished
in Spanish cedar and red zorrowood!
The four channels on the Inferno give
you ultimate versatility in terms of super



Versatile Very well specced Great sounds Go


New to the market and yet to be proven

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

s is always interesting - but a new range of tube amps from Panama? That has to count as
ng indeed. We sent for GIs very own Pumaman, Michael Casswell, to check them out.

A great addition is the ability to switch between two master volumes, so you can have a
volume boost preset on any channel which is great for your moment in the spotlight to get
above the mix of the band. With a 100 Watts to play with you wont run out of headroom to
take full advantage of this and thats the advantage of high power amps: you keep your cleans
clean and your solo sounds crisp because the headroom gives you that capacity. In fact I dont
associate Watts with volume, I always equate it to headroom, but obviously it is crazy loud if
you want to turn it up. The amp has good stage presence too with its red exotic wood front
and red and black tolex. There is a cool onboard depth-boost switch which gives extra low end
thump and high end sparkle and although its quite subtle at low volumes, you really get the
benefit of it at rude volumes.

Panama Shaman 20
The Shaman 20 combo is switchable between 20 and 10
Watts. Its a two channel amp switchable from most generic
amp footswitches and it runs five 12ax7s in the pre-amp stage
and two EL84 tubes in the output stage. It has a tube effects
loop with the option to bypass it. Although it officially gives
two independent channels, each channel has an optional
voicing mode, so you really get four sounds to choose from.

This little amp returns bags of character and the low wattage
makes some creamy smooth tones available at modest
volumes. You can dial in some Fenderish cleans to some fat

ood looks



This little amp

returns bags of
character and
the low wattage...

Panama Inferno 100

...makes some creamy smooth tones

available at modest volumes


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Dont wait any longer....


go to
and sign up today!



Panama Shaman 20

Marshall-like crunch, on to modern high gain

overdrive and all this would add up to the
Shaman being a great studio amp, giving a
huge range of tones in a portable package. 20
Watts is possibly on the limit of working in a
live band situation, but in the room it sounds
very capable and obviously live situations vary
in what is needed from a back line amp.

that can be a bit antisocial for other band

members, so a cab that gives you the option
is very welcome. Another fantastic addition
is each cab has an onboard attenuator, so
you can drive your amp loud to get the full
goodness of the valves, but you can then
turn it all down to whisper volumes with cab
attenuator. How cool is that on a guitar cab?!

Panama Cabs & combo features

The onboard drivers are apparently Panamas

own; based largely on Celestion Vintage 30
speakers but they are smoother in the upper
mids. They also have baffles made from
tonewood for a nicer transient response. Both
amps and cabs use only sustainable and ecofriendly tonewoods, the maker says.

The speaker cabs that come with these amps

have some great design features. One is the
ability to change the cabinet from closed
back to open back. I much prefer open back
cabs, which fill a stage much more than a very
directional closed back cab, but sometimes


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

The verdict
All this tone and versatility comes in at a reasonable price compared with what you have to
pay for equivalent specced amps from a boutique maker. They sound great and offer huge
flexibility so lets see if the guitar masses snap them up, because they should. Of course, a new
product from a new maker always makes you wonder about potential resale value and whether
they will stay the course - but every brand was new once and one of the advantages of tube
amps is that even if the worst ever happens and the brand disappears, they can almost always
be repaired, which is not always the case with transistorised amps. Definitely worth trying!

Panama Inferno
100 and
Shaman 20
Inferno 100 1,259.99 US
Shaman 20S 674.99 US $699
Made in: Panama



61 lbs


28 x 11 x 11




SHM20 / SHM20-S












Loop Tube FX Loop w/ Bypass

Channels 4


Speaker output


6x ECC83 / 12AX7, 2 x

Loop 2 assignable FX loops w/

level control
Footswitch 5 button

Channels 2
5 x ECC83 / 12AX7, 2 x

Foot Switch 1 button channel

Speaker output

4 and 8

15.5 lbs


14.5 x 7.25 x 8.25



Taurus Stomp Head 5

aurus Amplification is a Polish

company which has been innovating
in the amplifier market for some years
now, producing fully fledged amplifiers in a
lightweight floor unit form factor, designed
to sound and function just like a standard
head or combo but at a truly portable size.
The Stomp Head 5 is the latest iteration of
this concept and features a three channel
design, each with independent EQ controls
and a large number of tonal features that
put most full-size amps to shame. The unit
is surprisingly light in weight at 2.65kg and
at only 330x205mm will fit on the average
pedal board with ease. This small, but fully
featured, all analogue amp gives you a 12ax7
pre-amp stage with Clean, Classic Lead
and High Gain Lead channels matched to
a 90W power stage running Taurus own
Master Tube Design technology that allows
for this level of power output in a small
chassis. The power can be dropped to 40W
for smaller venues or recording via the
speaker outs or the included record out with
Celestion Vintage 30 style speaker emulation
built in. This line out can be run both


with and without the speaker simulation

The Stomp Head 5 is laid out in a very
intuitive fashion with a slew of controls
that are very easy to use. The clean channel
features Bass, Middle and Treble controls
plus Gain and Volume for sparkly cleans
up to light crunch tones. Also included are
Bright and Mid-Range push switches for
further tone shaping. The Classic and High
Gain Lead channels each have Drive, Treble,
Middle, Bass and Volume controls plus the
same Mid-Range push switch and a threeway Dark to Bright switch for lots of tonal
control. The master section contains a very
effective Noise Gate (although the amp is
very quiet in operation, even at higher gain
settings), Boost and overall Master Volume
Five high quality footswitches select between
each channel and operate the Boost and a
Mute function, producing an amp that has
a lot of controls but is very straightforward
to use. Around the back youll find the usual
speaker out with automatic selection for 4,

PROS Small footprint, fully featured amplifier All ana

with speaker simulation 90W/40W switchable Great val


Taurus is one of the mo

has been innovating an
best yet product - the St

None at all

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ost interesting newcomers names in the amp business. Based in Poland, the company
d winning converts around the world. Tom Quayle tries out what could well be their
tomp Head 5.

8 and 16 Ohms, the line out, serial effects loop, external control inputs for channel selection
and boost switching plus a power (90W/40W) switch and a selectable +6dB input gain boost
for low output guitars. The final switch selects between Normal channel operation and an

alogue design for superb tone 3 channels with independent controls Effects loop and line out
lue for money



Taurus has crafted a really superb

solution here for a genuinely portable
amplifier that can fit onto a pedal board
without sacrificing features and tone.

extremely cool Mix mode where all three

channels are mixed together at once for some
unique sound options.
The build quality is superb, as it needs to be
with an amplifier that lives primarily on the
floor. The fully metal casing and chassis are
pretty much bomb proof and feel like theyd
survive some serious abuse on the road. The
controls and switches are all very solid and
well mounted, giving you the reassuring


feeling that this thing is built to last and

wont fail in the middle of a gig. Channel
switching is immediate and feels good with
no pops or clicks and all the dials are very
responsive with easy to read settings and a
good range of motion for precise dialling of
your tone.
Plugging into the Stomp Head 5 is a great
experience. Starting with the clean channel
plugged into out studio 4x12 cab loaded

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

with Vintage 30s it was immediately apparent

that this is a great sounding and feeling amp.
The cleans are highly dynamic and responsive
with access to super clean sparkly tones and
edge of breakup loveliness to dark Jazz tones
and light crunch tones all from this single
channel. The bright and mid range switch
are great for extra options making this a very
versatile channel that gives a great impression
of things to come with the Stomp Heads
other two channels.
Moving on to the Classic Lead channel you
are presented with some lovely crunch and
bluesy tones that are full of low end thump
without getting muddy and retain all the
dynamic response of the clean channel. The
three-way bright/dark switch is superb for
taming the highs or adding brightness to
different guitars and the channel has a very
usable amount of gain that never strays into
the realms of fizziness at all. Channel three
has an insane amount of gain available and
definitely has much more of a footing in the
modern, mid-scooped metal territory. Super
thick saturated lead tones can be achieved
here too by using the dark setting and even
at the highest gain settings the Noise Gate
wasnt required. The Mix mode is a superb
idea, offering all three channels together for
developing some amazing tones where clean
definition can be added to high gain tones
with whatever channel mix you desire, adding
even further weight to this amps already
impressive tonal portfolio. All in all, the
Stomp Head 5 is a fantastic sounding amp
with a great feel and a huge range of tones on
offer, covering almost every tonal base you
could require.




Taurus Stomp Head 5

Taurus has crafted a really superb solution

here for a genuinely portable amplifier that
can fit onto a pedal board without sacrificing
features and tone. For a fully featured three
channel amp the price is very attractive too,
representing great value for this level of
control, tone and build quality. Taurus has


been producing the Stomp Head series for

a while now but the Stomp Head 5 is easily
the best amp the company has produced
so far and is a seriously cool, professional
product that deserves a lot of recognition.
Superb!! END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Taurus Stomp
Box 5

controls: DRIVE, BASS, MIDDLE,


MSRP 1,197 Euros US $1,364



Made in: Poland

Power output - 90 Watt / 4ohm,
Power brake to 40 Watt
Speakers impedance auto

BOOST: fast access to two different

volume levels
Serial effect loop

3 channels: CLEAN, Classic LEAD,

High Gain LEAD

LINE OUTPUT with speaker

The ability to send the linear signal
with or without simulation or both
at the same time

5 footswitches: CHANNEL 1-2-3,


INPUT for external channel




MIX-MODE all three of the amps

channels can be mixed and used


controls: DRIVE, BASS, MIDDLE,

Power Output selector


Weight: 2.65kg

Tubes: 12AX7


Input GAIN (switch +6dB)

Dimensions: [H x W x Dl] 90 x 330 x

205 mm



Moog Minifooger Flange

and Chorus pedals

oog is a name that needs no

introduction to any musician,
the company being synonymous
with the best in analogue synth and effects
design for decades now. The companys
Minifooger range is based around a series
of compact, all-analogue effects units in
a foot pedal format, housed in a rugged
cast-aluminium case and with high quality
components for uncompromising tone.
Moog sent us the Flange and Chorus
Minifooger pedals to check out.
Both of these pedals feature 100% analogue
operation with Bucket Brigade chip based
modulation, true bypass, mono or stereo
operation and expression pedal input. The
whole range is built to survive a bomb blast
and feels superb in operation thanks to
their intuitive, solid controls and excellent
construction. Both pedals are powered by
a standard centre negative 9v DC input
and feature a single in and out for mono
operation or stereo via a TRS cable, using
an internal switch to move between the
two modes. Internally the pedals are very
impressive, with an incredibly clean design


Moog? They
company, To

and a back plate that is very easy to remove

for battery access. Particularly impressive is
the battery housing itself, designed so that
the battery simply pushes into place, locking
into the case with no extraneous wires that
could be damaged over time.

Moog Minifooger MF Flange

The MF Flange features four main controls:
Rate, Depth, Time and Feedback, plus a
two-position type switch that moves between
alternate flange modes - vocal or traditional
flanging. Due to the analogue design the
controls are very interactive and can produce
a huge range of different sounds that cross
into chorus and almost ring-modulation
territory. The rate dial allows you to control
the rate of the modulation sweep, from
very slow at the minimum value up to very
percussive pulsing sounds at the highest. The
Depth control is assigned to the amount
of modulation and can give a wide array
of light and subtle sounds up to complete
tonal madness if required. The Time dial
allows you to craft either traditional flanging
sounds at the maximum position to warmer


Excellent analogue tones Built like tanks Easy

Stereo or Mono operation


None at all

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

y make keyboards, dont they? If keyboards are all you know about the iconic Moog
om Quayle has some very good news for you!

Win All 7 Moog Minifoogers!

sounds as the control is dialled back for tones
that approach chorus-like qualities. Finally,
the Feedback control can take the effect from
a smooth and subtle sound at the minimum
position adding more frequency peaks and
metallic tones as higher settings are dialled in.
The expression input is mapped to the Time
control for further shaping of your tone.
The sheer range of sounds on offer is staggering
and even subtle changes to the controls can yield
new results that sound consistently fantastic.
These are undoubtedly some of the best flange
sounds you will hear in a pedal format with
thick, lush modulations all the way up to crazy,
uncontrolled textures plus all the classic flange
sounds we know and love!


y operation Massive range of sounds Great value for money Easy battery changes



As with the MF Flange, the MF Chorus repre

some of the best analogue modulation ton
are likely to hear from a pedal

Moog Minifooger MF Chorus

The MF Chorus features exactly the same
control layout as the MF Flange with Rate,
Depth, Time and Feedback controls but
with a three-way Mix switch for even more
tonal options. The Rate and Depth dials do

exactly what youd expect, controlling the

depth and rate of the chorus modulation.
Combined with one another these two
controls allow you to dial in gorgeous, subtle
analogue vibrato and chorusing all the way
up to rotary style effects and fast modulated
craziness if required. The Feedback control

Moog Minifooger Flange and Chorus pedals


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

nes you




gives the chorusing a resonant peak that increases as the dial is

turned up for more extreme sounds whilst the Time control can
take the sound from brighter chorus sounds at the minimum,
fattening the sound in the mid position before turning the
pedal into a great modulated slapback delay effect with higher
feedback settings. Finally, the Mix switch allows for three
different settings with open and natural chorusing in the lowest
position, fatter and warmer chorus in the middle and Vibrato

Moog Minifooger
Flange and


Flange: MSRP 159 US $209

Chorus: MSRP 159 US $209


effects in the upper position w

The expression input is mapp
creative possibilities.

As with the MF Flange, the M

best analogue modulation ton
pedal with incredibly lush and
to play, great slapback delays o
modulations depths and rates

W=3.25 (8.3 cm) H=2.25 (5.8 cm)

DELAY TIME: <0.540mS 16mS
(0.340-20mS with modulation)
LFO RATE : <.025Hz - >11Hz
LFO SHAPE: Exponentiated Triangle

Made in: USA

EXPRESSION: Controls Time (Max

Input level +5VDC)

MF Flange


SIGNAL PATH: 100% Analog

BYPASS TYPE: True bypass





WEIGHT: 18oz (0.5kg)


ENCLOSURE: Cast aluminum

CURRENT: 18mA Nominal / 22mA


DIMENSIONS: D=5.75 (14.4 cm)

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

where only the wet signal is heard.

ped to the rate control for further

MF Chorus represents some of the

nes you are likely to hear from a
d warm sounds that are a pleasure
or even tonal madness at higher

Both of these pedals are fantastic, analogue units that not only
sound superb but are superbly built and represent good value
considering the quality on offer and the option of stereo or
mono operation. They are easy to operate and offer a far wider
range of tones than you might expect, so if you want the best
that analogue pedals have to offer, youd be crazy to not check
out these two excellent examples. Highly recommended! END >


TYPE SWITCH UP - Left (Mono)
Output = Dry + Wet / Right Output =
Dry - Wet

DELAY TIME: <3.2mS 60mS (2mS

70mS with Modulation)
LFO RATE : <.05Hz - >13Hz (>25Hz
With expression)


Output = Dry - Wet / Right Output =
Dry + Wet

LFO SHAPE: Exponentiated Triangle

MF Chorus


SIGNAL PATH: 100% Analog


BYPASS TYPE: True bypass



ENCLOSURE: Cast aluminum


CURRENT: 16mA Nominal / 20mA

DIMENSIONS: D=5.75 (14.4 cm)

W=3.25 (8.3 cm) H=2.25 (5.8 cm)

OUTPUT STEREO: Left (Mono) = Dry

+ Wet / Right = Dry Wet

EXPRESSION: Controls Rate (Max

Input level +5VDC)



Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pr

ll singing and all dancing delay

units that include everything
but the kitchen sink have
become a common staple of the
guitar effects industry these days, with
most units offering more sounds and
presets than you could ever possibly
use in an attempt to compete with
each other. Most people end up using
just one or two sounds, leaving the
multitude of other settings as little
more than impressive sales devices
in the music store. The Echolution
2 Ultra Pro from Pigtronix bucks
this trend somewhat, offering a ton
of very useful features but without
overwhelming you with options and
sounds youll never use.
As with all of Pigtronixs range,
the E2UP is built from the highest
quality components offering all the
benefits of analogue circuit design
and tone but with a very sophisticated
digital control system. There is a
huge amount on offer here, this
being the most complex product the


company make, but if youve ever

been overwhelmed by having a delay
pedal with more modes than you can
shake a stick at, the E2UP will be a
refreshing change. This unit features
true stereo ins and outs, MIDI in and
out, Expression and remote control
inputs and a USB input for updating
the firmware and editing presets via
the excellent software editor that will
be a revelation for people who hate
using the onboard controls to create
Speaking of controls, Pigtronix has
taken care to give you only what you
need with this unit, offering a series
of dials for the most commonly edited
controls such as Repeats, Mix, Time
and Modulation Speed and Depth
and any of these dials can be easily
mapped to the expression pedal input.
Eight small multi-function buttons
allow for further editing with long and
short presses offering different options
and LEDs to show what settings are
on or off. There is quite a bit to get


Exceptional, best in class delay sounds Easy to

or line level 60 presets Very well made Midi control Go


Expensive (but worth it!)

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


Serious about delay? Tom Quayle gets to grips with the emperor of echoes...

your head around but the manual is excellent and its really just a case of remembering
where everything is. For basic functions, you are up and running in seconds and even
more advanced editing is very easy once youve figured out which settings are mapped
to which controls!

o use despite a huge number of features Great Software editor Stereo operation at instrument
ood quality remote control available



The install was pretty easy, with good,

clear helpful instructions
The E2UP offers superb analogue delays
from 10ms up to 10s, selectable via the Time
dial which can be set to short, medium or
long settings for more accurate control or
dialled-in with the non-latching tap tempo
footswitch. Once delay time is set you can
choose to alter the time of the delay line as
a ratio of the tempo, using 1:1, 3:4, 2:3, 1:2
or even as PHI setting (based on the Golden
Ratio) for further creative control. A second

delay line can also be added that can be

based on any of these ratios for a wide range
of cool multi-tap rhythmic delays. Each
repeat can be pitch shifted independently
with further options for a Halo shimmertype octave effect or ping-pong stereo
sounds. The delays can then be run through
one of four filters, Low Pass, Tape, Comb
or Sweep to further shape the sound. LP,
Tape and Comb can be combined with the

Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pro


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Sweep setting and Pigtronix even included

a Bit Crusher setting for adding grunge and
distortion to the delay line.
Further tone shaping can be applied with
a very extensive LFO modulation section,
featuring Triangle, Square and Ramp and
random waveforms. The LFO can be run
freely or can sync to the delay time tap
tempo and subdivision or even to MIDI
clock if required. For extra creativity users
can select reverse delay and ducking delay
modes plus a dry kill mode and the ability
to switch trails off or have the unit listen
to your playing while in bypass mode, so
that once switched on youll hear delays for
what you played in bypass mode. Using a
Pigtronix remote switch allows for even more
creative expression with access to a freeze
function that can even function like a looper
and jump function where the delays will
cascade up in a chosen musical interval while
the footswitch is held down.
The delays on offer here are truly exceptional
and your original tone remains intact thanks
to no analogue to digital conversion. From
pristine repeats to gorgeous tape modulated
delays, rhythmic multi tap madness and
shimmering, pad-like ambient textures, the


E2UP does everything you could want from

a delay pedal without ever making you feel
like you are paying for features youll never
use. Delays simply dont get better than this
and although its an expensive unit you are
getting the highest quality components and
signal path here and that doesnt come cheap.
With this much on tap, you need a way
to organise everything, so Pigtronix have
included space for 60 presets that can be
selected using the preset dial, the Pigtronix
Remote Switch (purchased separately) or via
midi/USB. The software editor is free and
runs on both Windows and OSX machines
and even Linux for the real tech geeks out
there! Also included is an 18v DC power
Pigtronix may well have created the ultimate
delay pedal here, especially for those that
dont want masses of special effect delay
types theyll never use, but would rather have
superb sounding delays that can be filtered
and shaped in truly useful ways. The price is
up there with the other high end delay units
on the market and should be high on your
list of things to check out if you are searching
for the ultimate in delay sounds for you
pedal board. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Echolution 2
Ultra Pro

Expression pedal control of all

Envelope control of all parameters
Ping Pong

MSRP 499 US $449

Octave Jump Delay

Made in: USA

Halo Shimmer Effect

10ms 10sec delay time

Freeze Effect

True Stereo i/o

Delay Line Bypass

15 multi tap patterns


Independent pitch shifting of delay


Dry Kill
Trails / Listen

Tap Tempo or Manual Control

Remote Preset Selection

8 Modulation Waveforms

Complete MIDI control

8 Filter modes

MIDI out

LFO Sync to Tap and MIDI

60 presets

Bit Crusher Destruction

USB connectivity

Reverse Delay

Free PC / MAC Editor


18VDC power supply included



Neo Ventilator II

ne of the truly great sounds

in contemporary music from
the last 50 years is that of a
Hammond organ spooling up through a
cranked 122 Leslie cabinet. Many guitar
players such as Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh and

Michael Casswell reviewed the orig

(though only of the pedal). Is this the

George Harrison realised the potential that

this great swirling effect has on the guitar
and were among the first to utilize it on
iconic recordings such as Claptons Badge
or George Harrisons Something. Wouldnt
it be great if there was a pedal out there that

Neo Ventilator II




Comprehensive adjustability Attention to deta


12 volt rather than 9 Expensive

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ginal Neo Ventilator rotary cab simulator way back in GI Issue 5. Now theres a version II
e best rotary FX in the world?

recreated this amazing sound so

closely that you would be hard
pushed to tell the difference in an
A/B comparison? Well (big fanfare),
there is!
This Ventilator II by German
company Neo is the latest version
of the Ventilator that has been
around for a number of years
and that I got to try for Guitar
Interactive many issues ago (in Issue
5, to be precise - Ed). The original
version was pretty amazing and it
is hard to see how they could have
improved it, but this latest version
has been tweaked to give you even
more fine tuning detail.

No stone has been left unturned into how close you can get it to the real thing, and this would
probably benefit the expert Hammond organ users out there who know what and how they want
their Leslie effect to sound in very fine detail, whereas most guitar players just want to plug in go
and would be impressed that their guitar instantly sounds like a fantastic swirling 122 Leslie cab.
It also says a lot about the difference between how most keyboard players and guitarists brains are
wired - mine especially!

ail Very well made Truly amazing Leslie effect simulation



This is almost certainly the ultimate

rotary effects pedal.
So, the Ventilator II is both a huge tool for
guitarists and keyboard players alike and
it certainly saves the need to lug a massive
Leslie cab about. The pedal has an expression
pedal capability to speed up and slow down
the rotors if you cant place the pedal in a
situation where you can reach the onboard
switch that does this. As a keyboard player,
you might want the pedal sitting on top of
your keyboard so you can manually tweak
the settings as you go, but have an expression
pedal on the floor continually controlling
the speeding up and slowing down of the
top and bottom virtual speakers. As a guitar
player, though, you would probably want
this pedal somewhere close to the front of
your pedal board so you can get easy access
to the fast slow rotor function, the on off
function and the stop rotor function, which
slows the sound of the spinning speakers to
a complete stop ending up facing front. This
is a great detail and it sounds fantastic as
the effect goes from a complete stop to full
speed. The Ventilator II is also true bypass,
so will not interfere with your tone in any
way, no matter where you put it in your
pedal chain.


The attention to detail is endless with

this new Ventilator. You have complete
tweakability over anything you can think of.
If you use it in stereo, you would hear how
the top tweeter rotor is miked up left and
right and how there is a single directional
mic on the lower rotor, which is the ideal
configuration for the full stereo effect. You
even have control over how close or far away
you want the mic placement. This has the
effect of balancing hi or low speakers, in case
you want more or less of one or the other. In
mono, it still is an ear catching sound and
can be just as effective in a band context.
If you are recording though, you definitely
want to use the stereo in and out to full
You also have a drive function to simulate
pushing the valves in a 122 cab to give more
grit and dirt to the sound. Think Jon Lord
from Deep Purple if you are an organ player,
and think added fun if you are a guitarist,
because the interaction with your valve guitar
amp can lead to even more sonic options!
Another fantastic programmable detail is
how you can preset how fast or slow you
want the top and bottom rotors to end up

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

at their max and minimum settings, and

how quickly or slowly you want them to get
there. The in between sound as the rotors are
revving up is really addictive, with the added
fact that the lower rotor would take longer
to speed up or slow than the tweeter, so how
they interact is a great midway effect and is
true to the original 122 Leslie cab.
A 12 volt power supply comes with the unit
as do adaptors for each world territory and
it would have been the icing on the cake
if you could have powered the Ventilator

by your average 9 volt power which most

guitar players are geared up for in their pedal
boards. A small niggle indeed for what is a
truly fantastic product by the guys at Neo.
This is almost certainly the ultimate rotary
effects pedal and for most players would
probably count as a luxury purchase - after
all, you can get very good rotary FX for
guitar for a lot less money. On the other
hand, if this is a key effect for you, or you
just insist on the best, you know where to
come! END >

Neo Ventilator II
MSRP 349 US $649
Made in: Germany
New features include:


Smaller enclosure (160 x 140 x 57


Separate Mix / Distance Control for

Lo and Hi Rotor
Level Control
Speed or Mix Control via

Stereo input
Internal Stop switch


Separate Slow and Fast Speed






Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40






Season I

Everyones favourite Rock vocal coach, Jaime
Vendera continues his brand new season!
All about lyrics
All right, singers, its time to talk about
the creative side of your craft. Im
talkin bout song lyrics. While its your
responsibility to deliver the message
of the song through the variation of
your vocal range, tonal quality, and the
emotions you can portray with your
voice, it is also your responsibility to
make sure your listeners understand the
message of the song through carefully
chosen words. In this Bootcamp were
going to discuss how to begin crafting
those song lyrics. As I said in the video,
a song does have a basic structure which
usually contains some combination of
verses, B-sections, choruses, bridges, etc.,
but the lyrical structure helps to glue all
of the song parts together.
Ive written songs and lyrics for 30 years
now. Well, if were being technical,


I started writing song lyrics at seven

years old, which is nearly 40 years ago
(Im telling my age, ha-ha). As I had
my nightly bath, I started singing and
making up my own song. What was
it about? Oh, I cannot remember, but
knowing me, it was full of rhymes about
Godzilla, superheroes, or flying monkeys!
After my first song, I hung up my
pursuit of poetic prowess for almost a
decade until I joined my first band at 16
years old. Sadly, my teenage lyrics werent
much more advanced than my flying
monkey song. Headstrong in puberty, I
wrote songs with titles like, Wet with
Sweat, Shotgun Lover, and Finger in
the Pie. Luckily, as I matured, so did my
lyrical abilities.
Though I fell in love with lyric writing
in my teenage years, it took me much
longer to develop my own lyrical flow

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





and learn to write better lyrics. I did this
by writing tons of songs and by keeping
song notebooks for jotting down my song
title ideas and various lyrical line ideas as
they came to me. Ive always loved stringing
words together like small pieces of art. When
a line popped into my head, Id write it
down in my notebook. For example, the line,
the scars on her heart crack and peel like the
paint on her face popped into my head one
day and I knew it would tell an important
part of a story someday. It eventually became
part of the song, She Suffers Alone which
well cover in a future Bootcamp.
Eventually, I evolved from a notebook lyricist
into full-fledged songwriter. That is when
my approach to writing lyrics took a U-turn.
I then began to listen to the music I was
writing on piano, as well as listening to the
song structure that my songwriting partner
Scott Stith pieced together on his guitar. I
developed an ability to let the music speak
to me, let it tell me what the song was about.
The feel of the music of each song would
guide me emotionally until it unveiled the
name of the song and lead me to the basis of
the story that needed to be told. This may
sound a little New-Agey, but I assure you it
is not. Each piece of music portrays a certain
set of emotions, and if you listen closely, you
can hear what is yet to be played and sang.
Once I knew the name and story, I had the
job of finishing the lyrics to tell the tale of
each song in a conversational way, using the
emotions of each song to spark my lyrical
Youve heard a few of my songs already and
know that songs like Lisa and Casual
Suicide do portray certain emotions. The


lyrics were guided by the music of the song.

You might have also noticed as you listened
to these songs that while the songs do rhyme,
certain lines, if read without hearing the
actual music and vocal melody, might not
make sense to a person reading the lyrics.
That is because Ive discovered that you do
not have to make every single line rhyme.
To me, it is more important that you tell
the story, whether it is about the death of a
loved one or living your life to the fullest.
Ive realized that my vocal phrasing can give
me some bend and flow to pull away from
making lines continuously rhyme. (Still,
rhyming is an important part of the telling,
so theres nothing wrong with picking up a
rhyming dictionary.)
Enough rambling, lets move onto your
homework. As per this Bootcamps video,
whether youve never written a song in your
life or youre a songwriting veteran, you have
a 30-day assignment to write lyrics for 15
original songs from the first verse to the last
chorus. This assignment might feel a little
uncomfortable for some songwriters who,
like myself, are used to listening to music
and then writing the lyrics. However, as I
mentioned above, that is not how I started
and I only made the U-turn as I developed
as an artist. So, for this assignment, I want
you to experience my path by focusing your
main efforts on lyric writing only so youre
not overloaded with the entire production of
the song.
My goal is to get you to work on the craft
of piecing lyrics together in phrases. So,
your first goal is to become a storyteller and
string each line together. But remember,
you have two days to write a song, so dont

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

be too stressed if you arent popping out all

the lines in a day. When you start a new set
of lyrics, think of different situation and
scenario. Maybe on Day One youre writing
about your loved one, Day Three you write
about the end of your childhood, Day Five
you write about the weekend...You get the
picture. Bottom line, the goal is to get into
the habit of writing lyrics. With each song
you write, youll become a better writer, and
eventually, when you get the point of writing
and listening to the actual music, and then
allowing that music to speak to you and
unveil to you the song title and the story of
the song.

Speaking of unveiling, if, as you write a

set of lyrics you notice that little melodies
start popping into your head that go with
the lyrics youre writing, PLEASE grab
something to record those ideas with,
whether it is a full-fledged DAW or just the
audio recorder on your smart phone, because
I dont want you to lose any of that creative
spark. Sing the lines and save them for future
use. After all, you need a melody to bring
those lyrics to life and I dont want you
losing a great melody line just to stick to
the assignment. I promise we will do a Part
Two to this Bootcamp in the future where
the lyric meets the melody. But for now, start
your main focus by writing as a storyteller



and record little vocal lines only if a melody
pops into your head. Record them and get
back to lyric writing.
In ending, Ill leave you with the song lyrics
for two songs youve already heard in the
Bootcamp: Lisa and Casual Suicide. If
you havent heard them, check them out at Well be adding
mores songs to SoundCloud which well
cover in future Bootcamps. All I ask is that
you first read the lyrics below for each song
BEFORE you listen to the song. Some lines

might not make any poetic sense to you,

but once you listen to a song and notice my
phrasing, it will all make sense. This can be
applied to your songwriting process as well.
Once you find your own flow, go with your
gut on the lyrics youve written because once
you learn to sing it, it will fall into place. So,
read the lyrics below followed by listening to
the songs as you re-read the lyrics, and then
start your 30-day assignment! Ill see you
next Bootcamp.

Jamie Vendera New Season Part 5


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

TC Helicon



I cant take the silence do with me what you will
I cant claim her innocence or face the coming storm
Welling up with anger as Im crying out at God
}If religion is the answer, then save me from myself
I feel as if Im drowning as Im sounding out these words

And Ill meet you on the other side

And Ill count my days for the rest of my life, Lisa

In helpless desperation I search for truth in lies

This facade that I am wearing is such a poor disguise
Reckless and confused Im dying day by day
Try to embrace seclusion to chase the storm away
I scream while my hearts pounding as Im calling out her name

And Ill meet you on the other side

And Ill count my days for the rest of my life, Lisa

I know shes gone, I pray to God to let her heart still beat inside of me to
define me once again
I bare my scars upon my soul, a crown of burden I wear to remind me she
might find me once again
Oh, I need her now

And Ill meet you on the other side

And Ill count my days for the rest of my life, Lisa
I feel as if Im drowning


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Casual Suicide
I hate to look inside myself, too many years of guilt and pain
Im so afraid of what Ill find, knowing my sins are mine alone to claim
And so Ill stare into the sun, my eyes blinded by what Ive become
My reflection distorted by this lifeless haze, and so I pray for better

Days go by, I cannot find the pieces I want to leave behind

When I die will I have lived? Will I have loved? Will I have lost?
Or am I just a hopeless soul, a casual---a casual suicide

My days are numbered and I fear my every choice will end the same
So suffocated by these ghosts that haunt my past as well they curse my name
Self consumed by starless skies, my thoughts play tricks they whisper lies
Alone I stand before myself to face my fears, so many nights fade into

Years go by, I cannot find the pieces I want to leave behind

When I die will I have lived? Will I have loved? Will I have lost?
Or am I just a hopeless soul, a casual---a casual suicide

Time goes by, I cannot find the pieces I want to leave behind
When I die will I have lived? Will I have loved? Will I have lost?
Or am I just another hopeless soul---a casual suicide

Check out Jaimes video lesson in this issue and make a

point of visiting his websites too! END >



LD Systems MAUI 5 PA with

Germanys LD Systems enters the mini-rig market with a bang. Bob Thoma

ermanys LD Systems, part of

the Adam Hall Group, has been
around for a decade or so and has
established itself as a major player in the MI
and pro-audio markets worldwide. The Maui
5 column PA system is one of LDs latest
products and has recently gained the brand a
2016 IF Design Award for design excellence.
As youll have seen in the video, the Maui 5
is an extremely compact system physically,
weighing in at only 11kg total, however
size isnt everything as it delivers 800 Watts
at peak power, giving a maximum SPL of
120dB - which is very loud indeed!
The Maui 5 is made up of a three-piece
column, the uppermost part of which
contains the speaker array of 4x3 drivers
and a subwoofer in an enclosure that
contains the Class D amplification - two
100 Watt RMS amplifiers that drive the



column array and the 8 woofer - plus a

relatively basic four channel analogue mixer
that allows you to balance the units mic,
line, instrument/mp3 and Bluetooth inputs,
all of which can be used simultaneously. As
with all array-based loudspeaker systems (no
matter their size) digital signal processing
(DSP) is used to control dispersion
(coverage) patterns, suppress feedback and
to protect the system. In the Mauis case,
LD Systems own proprietary LECC system
(Limiter, Equaliser, Compressor, Crossover)
takes care of those essential tasks.
Adding to its versatility, the Maui 5 also
features Bluetooth connectivity, enabling you
to stream audio to it wirelessly, enabling you
to use a suitable mobile device to play not
only tracks stored on it, but also those from
web-based streaming services.


Compact, lightweight and easy to set up Soun


Not enough bass for a Rock band

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

h Mixer and Bluetooth

as assesses the award winning new MAUI 5.

nds good Onboard 4-channel mixer Audio playback over Bluetooth Attractive price



The Maui 5 is one of the easiest systems
to set up that Ive come across - put the
subwoofer base in position, slot the three
column elements - two spacers and the
speaker array - together in the appropriate
order, plug in the mains and signal leads
and I, apparently, become your uncle.
Joking aside, setting up the Maui 5 is,
quite seriously, that simple.
The input setup has been pretty well
thought out. The line inputs - those
that youd use if you were feeding the
Maui 5 from a mixer - are a Stereo/Left
Mono pair of XLRs. The stereo pair
sums internally, which is useful if youre

only using one Maui 5. If youre using

two Maui 5 with a mixer for FOH, then
youd normally use the Left input on each
and drive each one from your mixers
LR stereo outputs. On the other hand,
if you were using one as a monitor, you
could plug the mixer monitor feed into
the Line input and run a split from your
instrument and/or vocal mic into their
respective inputs and, using the Maui 5s
integral mixer, balance these and the Line
together for a bit of More Me when
Alternatively, if youre a solo artist using
just one Maui 5, you can plug your
microphone into the jack/XLR combi
connector, guitar (or keyboard) and mp3

LD Systems MAUI 5 PA with Mixer and Bluetooth


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

backing track player into these

sockets and balance them up
together. Doing this does expose
one of the Maui 5s shortcuts
since, somewhat surprisingly,
the instrument and mp3 inputs
share a common level control,
so you have to balance that
pairing together using their own
respective volume controls and
think of the mixers level control
as the master volume for the
combination of the two sources.
Mind you, for many of us,
the incorporation of a wireless
Bluetooth input that has its own
level control, more than makes
up for the slight restriction on
the instrument/mp3 input.
Pairing is simply a matter of
pressing the Maui 5s Bluetooth
Link button, and selecting the
Maui 5 on your mobile device.
Once youve plugged everything
in and start sound checking,
youll appreciate the presence of
the 100Hz high-pass filter on
the microphone input, the Maui
5s high-frequency shelving boost that will help compensate for an acoustically dull
environment and its separate subwoofer and master level controls.
To keep you informed of its status, the Maui 5 carries indicator LEDs for Power
On, Signal Present, Limit and Protect. For physical protection during transit,
optional carrying bags are available for the subwoofer and for the column



The LD Systems Maui 5 delivers a very
good overall level of performance. Its two
200W RMS Class D amplifiers deliver
a good response across a wide dynamic
range, sounding both musical and punchy.
The vented subwoofers 8 driver delivers
a tight, fast bass with good articulation
and the columns four 3 mid/treble array
manages to remain smooth and accurate
even at high volume levels.
The tightly-controlled 20-degree vertical
dispersion, coupled with its 120-degree
horizontal dispersion, means that,
although you have to take into account
the fact that the mid/treble drivers need to
sit at audience ear-level, the Maui 5 will
cover a wide area quite comfortably.
To help in positioning the mid/treble array
at the right height, you can set the Maui
5 up using only one spacer element in the
speaker column. This also makes the unit
much less visually intrusive and could be

ideal in a small gig where your audience is

seated or where you are simply providing
background music at an event such as a
wedding reception.

I was very impressed by the LD Systems
Maui 5. Its light weight, compact size,
ease of setup, good feature set, high level
of performance and competitive price
point make it excellent value for money.
Although the Maui 5 is never going to
be the answer to a Rock bands prayers,
solo performers and small bands who
play in folk clubs, restaurants and the like
will find it an attractive option - as well
may venue owners who need a compact,
mobile PA system to occasionally
supply background music - streamed
via Bluetooth - in various parts of their
establishment. If youre in the market
for something along the lines of a Maui
5 at around this price point, you should
definitely check it out. END >

LD Systems MAU15 PA with Mixer and

MSRP 425 US $610


Made in: Unknown

Max. SPL (continuous): 114dB
Max. SPL (peak): 120dB
Frequency response: 50 20000Hz


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Dispersion (H x V):
120 x 20
Overall height: 1985mm
Other features: 4 channel mixer,
DSP-based signal processing,


Woofer characteristics
Low/mid driver dimensions: 8
Low/mid driver dimensions (mm):
Woofer magnet: Ferrite
Woofer brand:
Woofer voice coil:
Woofer voice coil (mm):
Cabinet construction: vented
Cabinet material: ABS plastic
Subwoofer width:
Subwoofer height:
Depth Subwoofer:
Mid/Hi System
Midrange size:
4 x 3
Midrange size:
4 x 76.2mm
Midrange magnet:
Midrange brand: Custom-made
Midrange voice coil:
Midrange voice coil:
Mid/Hi system impedance:
Loudspeaker inputs: 1
Speaker input connections:
Custom-made multipin
Cabinet construction mid/high:
Mid/Hi system cabinet material:
ABS plastic
Mid/Hi system width: 82mm
Mid/Hi system height: 535mm
Mid/Hi system depth: 105mm
Amplifier Module (integrated in
Amplifier: Class D

Amplifier Output System (RMS):

Amplifier Output System (Peak):
Protection circuits:
overcurrent, DSP-based multiband
limiter, short circuit, thermal
Controls: Line Level, BT level,
Main Level, sub level, MP3 / Hi-Z
Level, Mic Level, BT Pairing
Indicators: protect (protection
circuit engaged), on, limit, signal
Operating voltage:
Power Supply, 100 V AC - 120 V AC,
50 - 60 Hz, 200 V AC - 240 V AC, 50 60 Hz (automatic conversion)
Line inputs:
2 x stereo
Line input connectors: XLR, 6.3
mm Jack
Mic inputs: 1, XLR, 6.3 mm Jack
MP3 inputs:
MP3 input connectors: 3.5 mm
Hi-Z inputs: 1
Hi-Z input connectors: 6.3 mm
Loudspeaker outputs: 1
Speaker output connections:
Custom-made multipin
DSP characteristics
Bit depth AD/DA converter: 24 /
Internal sampling frequency:



Wi Digital Systems AudioLi


Ready for the step-up to in-ear monitoring? Californian specialist, Wi Digita

Bob Thomas is impressed.

ow that digital wireless

microphone transmitters
and receivers are running
in the worldwide free-for-all that is
the 2.4GHz radio frequency band
alongside microwave ovens, cordless
phones, wifi routers and Bluetooth
devices etc., the benefits of economies
of scale and on-going developments
in those other areas - which are
many orders of magnitude larger
than digital wireless mics - is really
beginning to be felt in the MI and
pro-audio markets.
In the past, innovations in the old
UHF and VHF wireless microphone
market tended to be the preserve of
the big players - Audio-Technica,
Shure, Sennheiser, AKG and the
like - due to the investment needed

Audio Link Pro


to develop new products. However,

with the size of the 2.4GHz wireless
market worldwide driving the latest
low-cost technology, innovation
has become more important than a
monstrous bank balance.
Early 2.4GHz wireless systems were,
in form and function, essentially
digital analogues of their analogue
ancestors. Nowadays, innovative
entrepreneurs are leveraging the
miniaturisation being driven by other
2.4GHz market segments to produce
smaller and, in terms of their feature
sets, ever more powerful digital
wireless mic systems.
One such company is Californiabased Wi Digital Systems, which
was (in their own words)
created to be at the leading edge in


Their AudioLink P
wireless system, cap
USB 2.0 wireless au
(more of which late
designed for live us
instrument - thoug
not acoustic drums
tablet and compute
Complementing th
Sure-Ears noise-iso
monitor headphon

Small and weigh very little Simple to set up C

Core Audio compatible recording software such as Garage
youre not on stage or in the studio Great value for money


the development an
of unique Pocket P
Digital Wireless Sy
Definition In-Ear-C
Monitors, High Pe
Miniature Microph
Wearable Technolo
performers, videogr

None at all

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ink Pro & Sure-Ears

al, aims to make the transition both easy and affordable.

nd manufacture
Portable Stereo
ystems, HighCanal Reference
hones and
ogies for musicians,
raphers and

Audio Link Pro

Pro stereo digital

pable of two-way
udio connectivity
er), has been
se with every
gh probably
s - smartphone,
er in the band.
his claim are Wis
olating, in-ear

Compatible with active and passive guitars Simultaneous 2-way USB 2.0 communication
eband Makes a great USB wireless playback system for audio from iOS, Mac and PC when


Features and Setup
Theres not exactly a lot to set up with the
Sure-Ears. In the box, youll find the SureEars themselves, small, medium and large
ear inserts in both silicone and soft foam,
a TRS jack adapter, a clip to help stow
the cable neatly and a hard case to keep
everything in the one place.
The bodies of the headphones are engineered
in solid, silver-finished, lightweight brass
and carry Wi Digitals 10mm diameter
permanent magnet dynamic transducers.
A Wi-exclusive tangle and kink resistant
cable is used and is engineered with
bendable metal-reinforced ear loops to give a
comfortable and secure fit.
Life gets a bit more complex with the
AudioLink Pro, due to the various ways in
which the transmitter and receiver can be
configured. Presented in a hard-shell carrying
case, the system comes complete with a mic/
headphone adapter for smartphone or tablet,
every audio adapter cable required to connect
the system as per the manual, a USB to mini
USB data cable, a Y-split mini USB charging
cable and a universal mains charger.
The transmitter carries a mono or stereo
minijack input connection with mono preamp, mono line-in and stereo line-in modes,
tricolour (GBR) status LEDs, gain up/down,
mute, link, power on/off and control lock

Sure-ear monitors


The receiver looks almost identical physically

to the transmitter, but its minijack is an
output, not an input, and some switches
have slightly different functions, adding an
output mute and (only when in USB mode)
play, pause and track skip. The receivers
mini USB 2.0 port functions identically to
that of the transmitter.
Once transmitter and receiver have been
charged, youre ready to go as the units are
factory-paired, although re-pairing (should
it be required) is a simple, button-pushing
process. How you connect up the system will
depend on what youre connecting to it and
on how youre using it.
For use as a simple wireless guitar system,
if youve got an electric or acoustic guitar
without any active electronics, youll simply
plug the instrument into the transmitter
(using the supplied TS-mini jack adapter
lead) as the transmitter boots up in passive
guitar/mono preamp mode, indicated by
a slowly-flashing blue status LED. For an
active mono output guitar, youll switch the
transmitter to mono line-in mode and for a
stereo active instrument youll switch to the
stereo line-in mode and use the appropriate


Small and weigh very little Light weight Very

sounds Good value for money


switches. A rear-mounted clip is provided to

allow you to fix the transmitter to your belt
or guitar strap and there is a side-mounted
mini USB 2.0 plug-and-play audio interface
and charging port.

None at all

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Sure-ear monitors


y good audio performance Easy to wear for long periods Really do cut out external



supplied adapter lead to make the required

Youll then connect the receiver either in
mono or stereo to your pedalboard, amplifier
or mixing console using the supplied mini
to single TRS or mini to twin TRS adapter
leads as necessary.
Youll probably have worked out by now
that you can also run the AudioLink Pro
as a stereo wireless in-ear personal monitor
system simply by connecting the transmitter
to your console and plugging a set of in-ear
headphones (such as the Wi Sure-Ears) into
the receiver, which you then clip to your belt.
If being a digital wireless guitar system or
personal in-ear monitor system was all that
the AudioLink Pro could do, it would be
pretty good value for money - but theres
One stunning area of additional AudioLink
Pro functionality requires your smartphone
or tablet to be running a software guitar
amp simulator app such as NIs Guitar Rig
and requires the supplied mic/headphone
adapter. All you have to do first is to plug the
transmitter into your guitar as normal and
plug the mic/headphone adapter into the
transmitter. You then connect the transmitter
to the mic input on the adapter (using the
supplied minijack to minijack lead) and the
headphone output (in either mono or stereo)
to a FRFR (flat response, full range) cabinet
such as a powered PA speaker. This allows
you to play wirelessly into your guitar amp
simulator mobile app and to amplify the
output - which is a very neat trick.


But thats not all!

The two-way, plug-and-play USB 2.0 audio
interfaces built into the transmitter and
receiver open up a whole other range of
operational possibilities by enabling you
to connect to an iPad, Windows Surface,
tablet PC, Mac and Windows PC for
simultaneous two-way 2.4GHz digital
wireless communication. To achieve this,
the transmitter is connected to the devices
USB 2.0 port (youll need to use the Camera
Adapter with an iPad) and the receiver is
where the instrument and headphones get
plugged in (again using the supplied mic/
headphone adapter)
This functionality allows you to connect
your instrument and headphones wirelessly
to a Core Audio compatible software
application running on any of the above
computing devices so you could, for example
record and monitor using Garageband on
your iPad or Mac. You could also connect
your computer or tablet wirelessly to mixers
or other equipment on stage, in the studio
or to your home theatre system when youre
streaming video and want the full audio
Having this connectivity also means that
you can use the AudioLink Pro as a means
of listening wirelessly to mp3 files in iTunes
(or similar programmes) on your computer
or tablet - and you could even use the system
to make VOIP telephone calls on Skype,
Facebook etc.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

The Wi Digital Systems AudioLink

Pro Stereo Digital Wireless
Instrument and Audio Monitoring
System is, to me, an exceptionally
exciting product
Being visually unobtrusive and extremely
light - each weighs only 30.6g (1.08oz) -

there are essentially no physical barriers

to where and how the Wi AudioLink
Pro transmitter and receiver can be used.
I cant think of a single instrument that

Wi Digital Systems AudioLink Pro & Sure-Ears monitors



Sound quality (16-bit, 48kHz, 15Hz-20kHz)

is absolutely excellent, battery-life is four-six
hours from the internal rechargeable pack
and the 30.5m (100) line-of-sight range
is more than adequate for use on-stage.
Operating the system (once any computer is
correctly configured) is simple and intuitive
and the fact that every adapter lead that
youre likely to need is supplied (except an
iPad Camera Adapter) is an object lesson for
all equipment manufacturers!
The Sure-Ear in-ear headphones sound
similarly superb, are extremely comfortable
to wear and really do block out external
sounds, confirming that they are achieving
their quoted -26dB of noise isolation.

The Wi Digital Systems AudioLink Pro
Stereo Digital Wireless Instrument and
Audio Monitoring System is, to me,
an exceptionally exciting product. Its
functionality is well-thought out, it is easy
to use and it leverages the economies of scale
available in the wider 2.4GHz area to deliver
exactly what many musicians have been
waiting for at an extremely attractive price
point. If youre in the market for a 2.4GHz
digital wireless system you really must take a
very close look at the AudioLink Pro.
Wis Sure-Ears Noise-Isolating InEar Reference Monitors are a similarly
attractively-priced proposition. You can
buy (and I have bought) lower-priced hi-fi
in-ears that claim to be noise-isolating but
none of the cheaper models that I own have
performed as well as the Sure-Ears these
are, indeed, extremely impressive. END >

Wi Digital
AudioLink Pro
169.00 US $199


Wi Digital
Systems SureEars
129.00 US $189


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

AudioLink Pro specs:

Transmission Format 2.4 GHz
Digital Wireless
Bit Rate
16-bit, 48 kHz stereo
Quality (Uncompressed Audio)
Frequency Response 15Hz 20kHz
Frequency Selection Auto
1/8 TRS Stereo


these couldnt be used with - even a violinist

wouldnt know one was there and even a
keyboardist (or a drummer with an electronic
kit) might well welcome the opportunity to
play through a cable-free stereo connection.

Input Impedance
1 M ohm
Max Input Level 3V RMS
Output Impedance
<10 ohm
Max Output Level
SNR >90 dB
Distortion 0.12% THD
Antenna Two internal Antennas
Wireless Range > 100 Feet (May
be dependent on line sight, Range
my very due to local conditions)
Input Support
Passive Guitar,
Active Guitars and Stereo/Mono
USB Interface
Full Speed TwoWay USB 2.0 Wireless
Remote Audio Controls
Volume Up/Down, Play, Pause,
Mute, Next/Prev Track, MIC ON/
Rechargeable Battery Life
Hours (10-13 hours with optional
AA battery power booster)
Power Input
5V DC, 500 mA
(USB Bus Power)
Maximum Units Operating at the
Same Time 9
WiFi Safe Yes
MAC, PC Support Yes (Plug-andPlay)
iPad, Windows Surface TabletPC
Yes (Plug-and-Play)
OS Support MAC OSX, iOS, Win XP/

VISTA/ Win7/Win 8
Mounting Metal Belt Clip with 1/420 Tripod Mounting Screw
1.2 x 0.6 x 3.34
0.068 lbs (1.0 Oz)

Sure-Ears Specs:
Earphone Type: In-Ear
Body Construction:
Ultra-lightweight Solid Brass
Input Sensitivity: 97dB at 1000 Hz
Efficiency: 102 dB @ 1 KHz, 1mW
Frequency Response: 10 Hz ~ 22

16 ohms10%

Speaker Configuration: 10mm

Permanent Magnet Dynamic
Noise Isolation:

-26 dB

Input Connector: 1/8 (3.5 mm)

45-Degree gold plated
Cable Construction:
Wi Digitals
exclusive straight-through left
and right channels, low-distortion,
tangle & kink resistant cable with
bendable metal reinforced ear



Studiomaster Drive 12a act

Looking for an affordable PA rig for live sessions? In a market crowded wit
but Studiomasters new Drive 12a is one of the more affordable choices. Bu

tudiomaster is a UK-based company that has a long

history in powered and unpowered PA mixing consoles
and loudspeakers. Now under Chinese ownership, along
with sister company, the amp maker Carlsbro, following some
ups and downs, its current (and expanding) range of products
are rebuilding the companys reputation. The latest Studiomaster
loudspeaker to come to market is the Drive Series, which replaces
their established and successful VPX/VSX ranges.
The Drive 12A is the smaller of the two active speakers in the
Drive Series, the other model being its bigger brother, the Drive
15A. Like its sibling, the 12A features a restyled moulded
enclosure with a more contemporary feel than the previous VPX/
VSX series. The 12As cabinet has three integral handles - on top
and on either side that make handling it an easy task. Weight
isnt an issue either as the new Class D amplifiers - delivering 250
Watts RMS to the 12 bass driver and, crossed over at 2.0kHz, 50
Watts RMS to the treble unit - and other lightweight components
mean that the Drive 12A weighs in at only 19kg.
The Drive Series cabinet redesign doesnt only deliver an updated
aesthetic, but also gives the high-frequency horn a 80H x 40V
dispersion and couples it to the bass driver to give the best system
efficiency. A 34mm voice coil on the 1 HF compression driver
and a 20mm voice coil on the 12 woofer mean that both can



The Drive 12A is a

and good-looking
that delivers a goo
performance at an
price point.

handle their respective power amplifiers output w

Studiomaster accurately specify their RMS watta
RMS total in the case of the Drive 12A - which p
maximum SPL of 126dB.

As the Drive 12A is designed purely as an active

there is no onboard mixer, simply a single input
XLR/ TRS jack input with Mic/Line switchin
control, a 3-band EQ at 60Hz, 1.5kHz and 12kH
control and a XLR Link output with a switchabl
trio of indicator LEDs shows power on, signal pr
overload statuses.


Good sound quality Easy to handle Can go lo


If you want tons of low bass, youll need a subw

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

tive speaker

th active powered plastic boxed speakers the competition is fierce

ut is it any good? Bob Thomas listens hard.

a powerful
g loudspeaker
od level of
n attractive

without breakup.
ages - 310 Watts
produces a

loudspeaker on a combination
ng and Gain
Hz, a master Level
le earth lift. A
resent and peak





In Use


As youd expect from its quoted frequency range

of 50Hz to 20kHz, the Drive 12A performs well
across a wide range of music however, although
its bass delivery is good and solid, youd need
to add a subwoofer if you wanted a lot of low
frequency bass. Unsurprisingly, Studiomaster tell
me that there is a Drive Series subwoofer under
development that should be along in the near
future. The Drive 12As midrange is well-defined
and the high-frequency performance sits well
alongside it.

The Drive 12A is a powerful and goodlooking loudspeaker that delivers a good level
of performance at an attractive price point.
Musicians looking for a cost-effective solution to
their PA needs should definitely take a listen to
the Drive 12A when considering their options.

Studiomaster Drive 12a active speaker


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


Drive 12a active
RRP 218.90 (199.00 street)
Made in: China

12inch two way active

Frequency Response-10dB
Input Sensitivity LINE -10dBV
Input Sensitivity MIC


Crossover Frequency 2.0kHz
voice coil

12inch dia, 50mm

Compression driver
voice coil


Coverage: Horizontal x vertical

80 x 40
Input connections
Jack combo input, XLR LINK
Power requirements

175W Max,

EQ, +-12dB 12kHz, 1.5kHz, 60Hz

Voltage selector 230V / 115V


Dimension w x h x d
390630360 (mm)


Amplifier power, rms

HF 60W

LF 250W,

Weight (net/shipping) 19Kg

Peak system power





Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40






Ever wasted hours searching for that perfect solo you laid down
a few years ago? Andi Picker continues his explanation of why
we should archive our projects with a look at the all important
bit: how.


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


A Bit Of Archive

n the last Making Tracks

column we talked about some
of the stresses of finishing a
project and making it recallproof. The answer starts with A
Bit Of Archive Planning, and like
all planning, its best done early.
When you start a project, even if its
for yourself, you need to understand
what you expect to have at the end
of it. The most obvious deliverable is
usually a stereo recording of the full
mix, but there are lots of other options
that can come back and bite us if we
dont think it through.

The proper stereo mix

At one time this was going to be the
version that everyone would hear
on vinyl, or cassette, or 8-track, or
reel-to-reel, or CD or minidisk or
whatever was popular that week.
The mix would be mastered for the
delivery medium, and manufacturing
would start. Today, the main form of
distribution for new music is either
download or streaming. This can be
a problem, because different services
have different standards, and they do

change over time. A version of your

track thats delivered as a loudness
normalised and highly compressed
stream will sound quite different to an
uncompressed download or CD, and
quite different again from the vinyl
release. What; you want a HD version
too, and theres going to be a 10.1
surround version? Strewth!

The portable mix

Lots of recordings are listened to on
small boxes that do 23 other things
besides music playback, and that get
sold with small earbuds. These devices
are brilliant because they let people
listen to your songs anywhere; when
theyre running, commuting, driving,
pretending to work or study... The
problem with lots of different places is
lots of different background noise, and
quiet detail is a bit of waste of time for
someone who can hear mostly engine
noise or their own heartbeat. These
devices (and these uses) tend to need
a fairly loud mix without too much
dynamic range, so the quiet bits dont
get lost. Too much bass is a waste of
time as it doesnt work very well with
earbuds, and takes up valuable mix



The Club Mix

Depending on your music style, club
playback may or may not matter much to
you. If it does, then you may to want to
make use of the massive bottom end that
club systems have to offer, which is quite
different to what we just figured we need for
the portable mix?!? Come to that, you might
want a Club-Edit with the spoken-wordpoetry bit taken out

The Audiophile Mix

Just as we figure that quality listening is dead
for modern music, the marketing department
notices Hi-Definition and figures that it
might be able to sell you just one more copy
of Dark Side Of The Moon. Hi-Def versions
of music appeal to audiophiles and you can
probably expect them to be played on decent
Hi-Fi equipment or on portable players
with good headphones. These are quite the
opposite of the Portable Mix, and will benefit


from full dynamic range recordings with all

the whisper-poetry sections left in (or even
expanded). Just as a side note - there have
been Hi-Def recording made available that
are just 16bit CD versions re-packaged as
24 bit recordings with the extra word-length
unused - for about 3-4 times the price of the
CD. Buyer beware!

The Notta-mix
The what? The notta-mix is what you get
when a client asks for parts of the mix to be
provided separately. It upsets a lot of mixers
because it means that someone else can mess
up your work, but its actually quite useful if
someone wants to create that kicking clubanthem version, or a karaoke version, or a
vocal-only version to use with a new acoustic
track, or when the singers management
decides that its time to stop paying royalties
to the band and re-record the tracks with
session musicians, or for the trance remix, or
the Rock Hero mix, the TV advert mix, the

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

movie mix, the surround-sound up-mix, or

- whatever it is that we dont know about
There are probably a few that I havent
included, but we all get the picture? This
little lot doesnt include radio edits, jingle
edits, theme music edits, new format that
hasnt even been invented yet versions,
and so on. All of these versions take time,
even if its just bouncing groups of tracks
to create stems; if you have to do it after
the project has been closed, youre at the
mercy of your archive process. Creating all

these versions is going to be easiest done

when youre in the zone of the original
mix, but almost no-one does it, because
theres never the time nor the budget. So,
what to do? Simple - save everything as
a set of simple audio files at the highest
possible quality, and save alternate versions
with and without effects, and with and
without automation, and put it somewhere
safe so that someone else will be able to
find it, identify it, and recover it, in thirty
years time. And how do we do that?
Next Time! END >

Archiving your projects...

You can find more articles about recording,

or contact me on my website at

Or contact me at Guitar Interactive




AKG C314 Microphone

Just abou
ally need

KGs C414 Large Diaphragm

Condenser microphone must be
a marketing departments dream
product. Its been around for decades,
its been used on thousands of top class
recordings and its so visually distinctive
that almost anyone who cares to know can
identify one at a hundred paces. In the

its rounded in just the right places; its heavy enough t

youre trying to stick it in the middle of a drum kit, oh

Well, that used to be the case. In a world

where most LDC mics are cylindrical, the
box shape of the C414 is just too good to
miss for a manufacturer looking to stand
out from the crowd. Others have used the
shape, but AKG has the heritage, and some
years ago they introduced the single polar
pattern C214; and now weve got the multipattern C314. So, copy, clone or something
quite different?

Hold it to the light and you can see the internal shock
frequency response has a quite noticeable bump up in
kHz and a dip at around 2kHz that gives the impressi
giving a crisp and clear sound with a gentle touch of w
levels are all pretty standard for this type of mic and y
get within a couple of dBs of overload (max level is 155
shouldnt be seeing that too often in normal use). Sou
patterns (omni, cardioid, supercardioid and fig-8) gran
effect and off-axis response.

Firstly, in my humble opinion, the C314 is

gorgeous; its finished in grey and gold and

The mic body has good old-fashioned slide switches fo

pad and four polar patterns. The kit has a rigid mount
ships in a fitted case with an AKG logo on the top. Int
a screwdriver or something similar you wont be adjust
mount - but then the locking mechanism is one of the
too much of an issue to just pop it out for a moment. S

So; the question that everyone really wants to ask - is i

material says that the capsule is built on the rich heri
sure that Ive read that its made from the same materi

Hold it to the light and you can see the inte

through the double mesh grille.


Crisp clear sound Well made Good accessori


Upper frequency lift means you might want to

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ut every studio needs a large diaphragm condenser - and even if the owner doesnt actud one, he wants one! AKGs new C314 is one of the hottest contenders from the big name
cturers. Andi Picker has been trying one out.

to feel solid without needing a special stand when

h, and its made in Austria.

or bass roll-off (12dB/octave from 100 Hz), -20dB

nt, suspension cradle and foam windshield and
terestingly, unless you fancy poking your mic with
ting those switches with the mic in the shocke easiest and quickest I think Ive ever used, so not
So-far, so-nice.

k-mount through the double mesh grille. The

the Hi-Fi frequency range at around 1015
ion of a slightly forward mid-range just below that,
warmth. Sensitivity, noise and maximum sound
you even get a warning led that glows red if you
55dB with the 20dB pad in by the way, so you
und is fairly consistent across the range of polar
nting the expected differences due to proximity

it a classic C414 in a cheaper box. The marketing

itage of the C414 XLS capsule and Im pretty
ial used in the 414, but despite claims made on

ernal shock-mount

ies Good Spec Flexible

be careful on bright sources Difficult to adjust switches



AKG C314 Microphone

various forums, its not the same capsule

(its a backplate condenser, also called a
back electret mic - whereas the 414 is a true
capacitor mic). Its a bit less sensitive and
not quite as quiet as the 414 (typical for an
electret design and in no way an issue), and it
has fewer polar patterns.
Sound? Heck, Im not even sure how to
answer this one. There have been so many
versions of the C414 over the years, with
massive variations in capsule design and


materials, with and without transformers

and in standard and bright versions that
its almost impossible to properly define the
414 sound. I dont own one, but Ive used a
couple of them in the past. From memory,
one was fairly flat sounding with a bit of
edge and scratch to it, and the other was
fantastically neutral, but warm and airy and was one of the best mics Ive ever used
(I really should have tried to buy or steal
that one!). I dont think the C314 sounds

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Studio Master



much like either, but thats not the point. It

has a more modern sound, with a mid-range
lift and forward top end thats far more 21st
century, and thats going to work really well
on a lot of sources, but might fight back on a
few others, as almost all modern condensers
I think the C314 needs to be judged on its
own merits as a distinctive, flexible, high

quality workhorse mic t

find a use for on every s
the case, if youre after a
singer you need to try it
to see how it fits. Overa
classy sounding, flexible
albeit in a much more c
than weve seen in the p


AKG C314 Large Diaphragm Ba

Electret Microphone


MSRP 598.80 US $879

SNR: 86 dB-A

Made in: Austria

Max Level: 135dB (

Type: Multi-pattern Large

Diaphragm Back Electret

Indicator: Clip LED

below overload

Polar Patterns: Omni, Cardioid,

Supercardioid, Figure-8

Filter: 12 dB/octave

Audio Frequency Bandwidth:

20Hz to 20 kHz (levels not quoted)
Sensitivity: 20mV/Pa
Equivalent Noise: 8 dB A

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Pad: 20dB


that youll probably

session. As is always
a mic for a specific
t out on that voice
all? Its a well made,
e workhorse mic,
competitive market
past. END >


(155 dB with pad)

D lights 2dB

e from 100Hz



PreSonus Eris E4.5

nearfield monitors

first noticed PreSonus Eris

monitors two or three years ago
when their E5 and E8 models
forced their way into the already crowded
affordable-studio-monitor market. They
seemed to get pretty good reviews, and I
figure theyve probably sold well since. At
the time the E5 was the smaller of the two
options (E8 being the other) and I was
interested to see that the range has expanded
smaller (chaos creeping in? - Ed) to the E4.5.
The E4.5 is a compact and lightweight
speaker and has a quite-different look to its
bigger range-mates. Cabinets are MDF with
4.5 Kevlar main drivers and 1 silk dome
tweeters. The left-hand speaker has all the
controls and electronics, and connects to
the passive right-hand unit with an included
cable. On the front panel is a power switch,
volume control and aux-in and phonesout sockets, and around the back are

Eris (as readers of the

dwarf planet floating
too. Our man on all th

balanced jack and unbalanced RCA inputs,

power input and selector, and a full set of
adjustment controls for acoustic space (-4, -2,
0dB for near corner, near wall or open space
positioning), low cutoff (flat, 80Hz, 100Hz)
and +/- 6dB mid and high end controls. Oh
and a bass port.
I set-up the E4.5s with the Acoustic Space
and Low Cutoff switches flat, and adjusted
the Mid and Upper controls to suit my taste.
The all-important mid-range is surprisingly
clear and well defined, and even with the
High Frequency control maxed-out the
top end behaved very well. Theres plenty
of level for nearfield use, but I did find
that at the highest levels I felt that the rear
port was working just a little bit too hard.
The 80Hz bass cut helped with this, but I
actually preferred the sound with a piece of
foam stuffed into the port. At normal levels
though, the standard settings were just fine.

At the price they are also excellent

value for money.



Excellent sound Wide and solid stereo imag


Rear port a bit enthusiastic at high volume le

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

e immortal Illuminatus Trilogy will know!) was the Greek goddess of chaos. Eris is also a
g around the solar system. Then there is the PreSonus nearfield monitor - thats called Eris,
hings chaotic, Andi Picker has been trialling a pair.

The range of studio monitors available for not-very-much-money is greater today than it has
ever been, which can make reviewing them a bit difficult. Even if we discard all those that are
simply decent or OK, we still have a lot of good speakers to consider. The specs on the E4.5s
are absolutely fine, but I have to say that PreSonus seems to have managed to get something a

ge Comprehensive controls Very good price Dinner recipe in the Owners Manual

evels (stick a sock in it!) Dinner Recipe in the Owners Manual isnt suitable for vegetarians



bit more out of these monitors. Certainly,

the low bass output is limited by the speaker
size and the small enclosure, but I felt that I
could hear into it and understand what was
there; the mid range is excellent, and the
top end is smooth. Stereo image is wide and
solid, and with the Mid and High controls
I could join up the frequency bands just as
I wanted to hear them. Certainly Ive heard
more detailed speakers at higher prices and
in bigger boxes, but at the cost of these


monitors I have to say check them out if you

need a pair of big sounding small monitors.
At the price they are also excellent value for
Oh, quick note - dont confuse the E4.5
ERIS studio monitor with the C4.5 CERIS
multimedia speaker (thanks PreSonus!).
Another quick note - the Owners Manual
has one of PreSonus legendary recipes in the
back. Its actually rather good! END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

SPL Crimson USB Audio Interface and Monitor Controller

PreSonus Eris
E4.5 nearfield
MSRP 169 US $249.95
Made in: unknown
Type: 2 way, active, nearfield
Frequency Response: 70Hz
20kHz, level not quoted

High Frequency Driver: 1 silk dome

Mid/Low frequency driver: 4.5
Controls: Acoustic Space (-4, -2, 0
dB), Low Cut (80/100 Hz), Mid and
High level (+/- 6dB), volume
Cabinet dimensions: 163mm
(width) x 180mm (depth) x 241 mm
Weight: 5.9 kg

Maximum SPL: 100 dB @1m



Tascam Celesonic US-20x2

couple of issues back I reviewed

Tascams Trackpack 2x2 which
includes the US-2x2 audio
interface. I concluded that its a good
package to get a home studio started, but
sometimes you just need more. In the case of
the Celesonic US-20x20 you get quite a lot
The US-20x20 has 20 channels of IO - thats
eight 56dB, high headroom mic pre-amps,
two line inputs and up to 10 digital IO
channels on S/PDIF and ADAT. It uses USB
3 (or 2) and has AKM Audio4pro converters
for sample rates to 192kHz. Its worth noting
that the IO count falls to 16 at double
sample-rates (88.2 or 96 kHz), and to 12 at
quad-rates (176.4 and 192 kHz) as always
happens with ADAT.
On the back panel are the USB, digital,
MIDI, BNC Wordclock, line-in and 10x
line out sockets, plus the DC input for the
wall-wart power supply (with a lightweight
retaining clip) and an Auto-Powersave
switch. More clues about what you can do
appear on the front panel, with a power
switch (thank you) followed by a Mode



button to select Mic Pre, Audio Interface

or Mixer modes. Past that are the eight mic
inputs on combi-sockets with hi-z instrument
options on channels 1 & 2 and line options
on 3-8, bank-selectable phantom power (1-4
and 5-8 - it would have been nice to have a
little more control over this), individual gain
controls for the mic pres with basic signal
present/clip LEDs, line-out 1-2 level control
(for your monitors) and two headphone
sockets with independent level controls.
I reckon you can figure-out most of the
functions by just reading the labels on
the panel, but theres a 44 page Reference
Manual and 104 page Owners Manual
online if you need some additional help (in
four languages to be fair).
Ergonomics are good; the unit ships with the
same type of angled end panels that I liked
for desktop use on the smaller interface and
the box also contains a set of brackets for
rack-mounting. Once youve got your digital
and MIDI gear plugged in and patched your
dedicated line IO as needed, everything you
need to access is where it belongs on the front
panel. Except for the bits that are controlled


Good sound Easy to use Good ergonomics


Would be nice to have individual (or paired)

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


If the Tascam Trackpack 2x2 we reviewed in GI 38 isnt big enough for your
needs, Andi Picker has an alternative suggestion...


by software. OK, download and install (took

about a minute). Drivers are class-compliant
by the way.
The unit was recognized on my Windows10
machine immediately. The software
recognizes the current mode of the device
and gives you the appropriate options. In Mic
Pre mode the analogue inputs are connected
to the analogue and digital outputs and as

youd expect, so stand alone operation is

simple and uncluttered. Mixer mode allows a
surprising amount of control over the builtin 6-bus DSP mixer, complete with gain, eq,
compression and reverb, and Audio Interface
mode additionally lets you choose how to
route your IO into and from your computer.
The mixer screens may take a few minutes to
get used-to, but its really all pretty straight
forward once you get orientated, and when

s Good connectivity Flexible software

phantom power switching



you get the set-up as you want it you can save

it as a scene.
In use - certainly youll find more esoteric
pres and converters with perhaps a little finer
detail, but these are good quality, clean and
quiet just as they need to be (and if you have
access to those top-end pres you can always
patch them in using the line inputs or digital
connectors). Operation was both things that
it needs to be: simple and reliable. Reviewers
are pretty well conditioned to complain that
input metering is too basic, but really, turn
it up till it clips (if it does - these pres have
good headroom) then back the level off and
its fine - beyond that use the level meters on
your recorder.


Pricing is such that its realistic for a project

studio - if you can afford enough mics
to need an eight mic input then you can
probably afford one of these to plug them
into. The digital IO (and lets not forget
MIDI) gives a lot of flexibility, the USB3
connectivity is probably the most futureproof option available at the moment, and
with a laptop you can even use it as a mixer
for your band. Oh, and Tascam includes the
USB3 cable! Overall its good quality, well
priced and very flexible; I can see these units
getting a lot of use in studios and mobile
racks. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Tascam Celesonic US-20x20

Celesonic US20x20 Mic Pre /
Audio Interface
/ Mixer
MSRP 390 US $649.99
Made in: Unknown

OS, Windows, iOS (check web for

current details)
Inputs 2 x mic/instrument combi
sockets, 6 x mic/line combi sockets,
2 x line in, S/PDIF, ADAT, MIDI in
Outputs 10 x Line out (monitor
control on 1/2), S/PDIF, ADAT, 2 x
headphones, MIDI out


Mic Pre Gain 56 dB

Mic Pre / Audio Interface / Mixer

Mic Pre Headroom 20 dB

Format Desktop or 1U rackmount

(ears provided)

Conversion Up to 192 kHz (quadrate) 24 bit

Computer connection USB3 (or2)

Power External power supply

Supported operating systems Mac




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




Brian May Guitars Rhapsody A

Brian May has had a long time love of the acoustic guitar and his guitar brand, Brian M
unique style and sound. But with so many great acoustics on the market today, how do
Brian May, Jamie Humphries finds out.

f youve ever had the pleasure of

seeing a live Brian May concert, or a
Queen performance, you will know
that Brian enjoys intimate moments with
the audience and just an acoustic guitar. His
love of the guitar was born from experiencing
an Egmond acoustic that he received for his
seventh birthday. It was actually from this
guitars looks that the Red Special was born,
with Brian winding his own pickup and
plugging it into his fathers home made radio.

Visually, the Rhapsody is based on the body

shape of the Red Special, making it quite
a unique and striking looking guitar. It
would certainly look great on stage next to
a BM Super or Special. This small-bodied
acoustic features a solid spruce top, with very
attractive (laminated) mahogany back and
sides. The guitar features an oval sound hole
with a linear decorative rosette. The front of
the bridge is rosewood, with an undersaddle
piezo acoustic transducer.

With the success of the Super and the

Special, BM Guitars has expanded its
product lines with the Red Special Bass,
Ukulele, and now with an electro acoustic
guitar named the Rhapsody. There are
two Rhapsody models available at present,
the natural finished top version being the
flagship, with an antique cherry finished
option, keeping the Red Special flag flying.
The cherry version features a four band EQ
on the pre-amp, while the natural includes
a microphone blend control. Ill talk about
that curious anomaly later.

The comfortable neck is made from

mahogany, with a rosewood board and 24
frets. The headstock is also based on the RS
design, with the six Gotoh style machine
heads situated three a side. The machine
heads are finished off nicely with wooden
bottoms. The front of the headstock includes
a rosewood veneer, with the Brian May
signature decal.



The Rhapsody includes the well known

Fishman Presys Plus pre-amp, which is
fitted in the top of the body. This small unit


Blend works really well Great to play Well ma


A bit neck-heavy Blend control not included o

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


ay Guitars, has an acoustic guitar to capture his

oes the Rhapsody compare? Our expert on all things
features easy access to the battery compartment, as well
as a battery warning light. There is an on board tuner,
which was very accurate, and mutes the signal from the
guitar output, making for speedy onstage silent tuning; the
LED display is bright enough to be seen on the darkest of
stages. The Presys includes a master volume, three band
EQ, bass, middle and treble, a notch control, a filter that
helps eliminate low end frequencies that cause feedback.
It also includes a blend control that enables you to mix
in the condenser mic, which is situated under the battery
compartment, with the bridge piezo system.
On the Antique Cherry version, the blend
control isnt included, instead we have a
brilliance control, which is a high-end filter.
I found this a slightly strange thing for BM
guitars to have done, and felt it limited options
for buyers. Why only offer the mic blending
on the natural? What if I wanted the cherry
colour with the blend? I think BM guitars
should include a choice of having either
pre-amp, or just use one in both guitars!
To my mind, the blend control is much
more useful than brilliance.


on from Antique Cherry finished version



Brian May Guitars Rhapsody Acoustic

All in all this is great acoustic guitar.

Its small body size make it ideal for
travelling with.
The final control is phase, which can be used
to improve bass response at low volume and
again help suppress feedback at high volume.
Again I found this to be a slightly redundant
control as we have the notch that does pretty
much the same thing.


Sitting with the Rhapsody I found the body

shape surprisingly comfortable, but it was a
little neck heavy, possible an inherent issue
due to the guitars small body. Acoustically it
sounded great, with a very full rich tone, and
plenty of volume; not what I was expecting

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




for such a small-bodied guitar. The neck was

very comfortable to play, and the set-up and
playability out of the box was first class.
Plugging it in, the Rhapsody performed
excellently, with a very pleasant sounding
pre-amp, and versatile, responsive EQ. My
point about the blend control was certainly
validated here, as I found that I dialled in
more of the onboard condenser mic than
the piezo, so that the sound of the body
and wood predominated. Im not a fan of
DId acoustics; I find piezo systems sound
thin and two-dimensional by and large, and
having a mic/blend option is a tremendous


advantage over the familiar arrangement you

find on most electro-acoustics.
All in all this is great acoustic guitar. Its
small body size make it ideal for travelling
with, and it loses very little tonal quality for
having a small body. My one niggle was the
one control difference between natural or
cherry finishes, which to me seems slightly
pointless. If youre in the market for a great
sounding acoustic guitar thats not overly
expensive, then I would give the Rhapsody
a closer look. The guitar comes with a hard
case as well, so youre getting good value for
money here. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Brian May Guitars Rhapsody

MSRP TBC US $3,398
MSRP 495 US $705.18
Made in: Unknown
Top: Spruce
Back & Sides: Mahogany


Fishman Presys+ Features

Tone Shaping
Built-in Tuner with LED Display
Phase Switch
Battery Level Indicator
Low Profile Control Knobs

Volume Control

Unique Pivot Design for Instant

9-Volt Battery Access

Bass, Middle & Treble Control

End-Pin Jack Output

Notch Filter for On-board Antifeedback Control

Fishman Sonicore pickup &

PRESYS pre-amp

Brilliance Control for Additional



Guild F1512E Westerly 12-strin

Happily coinciding with our Brian May special issue, one of Guilds new Westerly 12-str
uses the more expensive Guild F512, how does the Westerly stand in comparison? Can
making the definitive12-string jumbos? Tom Quayle asks the questions.

uilds Westerly collection

celebrates the companys 1967
move from their original
Hoboken, New Jersey factory to the Rhode
Island based factory in Westerly. After this
move, the company flourished into the Guild
we know today and this series is inspired by
the success the move helped to generate.
The Westerly F-1512 is part of the higher
end 150 range and combines two of Guilds
specialities, Jumbo guitars and 12-strings for
a large body instrument available with and
without a built in Fishman pre-amp. Our
F-1512E included the Fishman Sonitone
pickup for a small upcharge verses the
pickup-free F-1512 model.
Both F-1512s feature the same solid
Indian rosewood back and sides, matched
with a solid Sitka spruce top and scalloped
x-bracing plus very attractive ivory ABS
binding and purfling for a classic look. The
back sports a lovely inlay while the top has
a three-part rosette with mother-of -pearl,
ivory ABS and black bands giving the guitar


The F-1512 is a definitely a superb looking

and well-built guitar finished in a natural
polyurethane gloss that really allows the
beautiful rosewood back and sides to show
off their lovely grain. The guitar features
exceptional work internally and externally
with excellent fretwork and set-up from
the factory. The guitar arrived at our studio
detuned for transportation and, whilst
tuning any 12 string can be a long process,
the tuners on the F-1512 made the process as
pain free as possible and the guitar retained


Excellent quality 12-string Easy to play Good v

Fishman Sonitone sounds great


a subtle, classy look. The neck is mahogany

with an Indian rosewood fretboard, small
mother-of-pearl dots, 20 vintage sized frets
and a bone nut leading up to a classic Guild
headstock with 12 Die-cast closed gear
tuners, six per side and the Chesterfield
headstock logo, similar to that used on the
wonderful 1960s Guilds. To complete the
design, you get an Indian rosewood bridge
and bone saddle with ivory coloured plastic
pins, tortoiseshell effect pickguard and the
guitar comes with an excellent, lightweight
hard case.

Some may require/prefer a higher end pre-amp

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

ng acoustic-electric

rings arrived for review. Though the great man

n it possibly live up to this makers reputation for

The Jumbo body shape is

surprisingly manageable
too without feeling
its tuning very well indeed, even
despite our studio lights.
This model has a vintage inspired,
C-shape neck profile with a very
comfortable 48mm nut width and
friendly string spacing that makes the
guitar as similar as possible to a sixstring with little adjustment required
in terms of playing technique to
accommodate the 12-string design.
A 16 radius gives excellent access
for the left hand to all 12 strings
when fretting chords and playing
single note lines. The Jumbo body
shape is surprisingly manageable too
without feeling intimidating or like

value for a high-end instrument Included lightweight hardcase



Guild F1512E Westerly 12-string acoustic-electric

youre hiding behind the guitar. Twelve string

guitars dont get much easier to play than the
F-1512 and considering that this is a jumbo
body thats a great achievement from Guild.
From a tonal perspective that jumbo body
shape imparts a massive sound to this
model that projects superbly with a ton
of acoustic low end thump and presence.
Strumming a simple E chord is a truly


pleasurable experience, not just because of

the lush sound provided by 12 strings but
because of just how big the sound is from
this guitar. The guitar is really built for those
big strumming passages that have become
synonymous with the 12-string, but single
notes are equally well represented here and
the guitar isnt necessarily a one trick pony in
this regard.

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

The Fishman Sonitone, included on

the E model is a very nice, no frills
pre-amp addition to the guitar and
is hidden away just under the upper
part of the sound hole. This is a good
way to incorporate the pickup and
electronics, since it doesnt require a
space to be cut out of the upper side of
the guitar and leaves the wood intact
for a nicer look. The controls are a
simple as could be with just a Volume
and Tone dial to set up and a standard
strap button output jack. In use, the
system translates a very convincing
acoustic tone with no plastic or brittle
qualities and a very satisfying bottom
end crispness that represents the actual
guitars tone very well indeed and feels
great to play.
The Guild Westerly F-1512E is
certainly a very good 12-string that
begs to be strummed all day long and
is surprisingly affordable, given the
high quality construction, finishing and
name. Those looking for a good quality
12-string with a Jumbo body size can
rely on the F-1512 or F-1512E to
safely fulfil END >



Guild F1512E Westerly 12-string

MSRP 825

US $1,265

Made in: China

Overall Guitar Length 44 (1118


Body Top Solid Sitka Spruce

Guitar Weight 6 lbs 3 oz

Body Back Solid Indian Rosewood

Body Binding Ivory ABS

Body Sides Solid Indian Rosewood

Top Purfling Black/Ivory/Black/


Body Shape Jumbo

Bracing Westerly Jumbo Sitka
Spruce Scalloped X Brace


Rosette black/ivory/black outer,

black/MOP/black center, black/
ivory/black inner
their requirements. OK, it may not be one
Finish Natural Gloss Polyurethane
of handmade US-produced Guilds but this is
Body Depth
4 (101 really
close and
as such
value for money.
Body Depth Lower Bout 4.5 (114


Neck Material Mahogany

Neck Shape C Shape
Scale Length 25 1/2 (648 mm)
Nut Width 1 7/8 (48 mm)
Nut Material Bone
Fingerboard Material Indian
Fingerboard Radius 16
Fingerboard Inlays Mother-of-Pearl

Body Length 21 (533 mm)

# of Frets 20

Body Width Lower Bout 16 5/8

(422 mm)

Tuning Machines Guild Die-Cast


Body Width Upper Bout 12 (305


Hardware Finish/Plating Nickel-

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



Truss Rod Twin Single Action

DAddario EXP38 Coated Phosphor

Bronze, 12-String, Light, 10-47

Truss Rod Wrench 4mm Hex Key

Bridge String Spacing 2 3/8 (60
Strings DAddario EXP38 Coated
Phosphor Bronze, 12-String, Light,
Electronics Fishman Sonitone with
Sonicore pickup, Volume and Tone
controls, battery bag and endpin
Case included

Case or Gig Bag

Guild Jumbo Polyfoam Case
Ivory Colored Plastic with Black
Item #



Bridge String Spacing


2 3/8 (60 mm)

Indian Rosewood



Fishman Sonitone with Sonicore

pickup, Volume and Tone controls,
battery bag and endpin jack

Bridge Pins
Ivory Colored Plastic with Black



PRS SE Alex Lifeson Signature

PRSs SE range has brought this once luxury brands electric guitars into the orbit of ord
Alex Lifeson Thinline model do the same for PRSs fabulously expensive Angelus acou

f you are seriously into guitar then

you will be familiar with Alex Lifeson
and his work with Rush and you will
also be familiar with PRS Guitars. Lifeson
has been a PRS player for some years and
is one of the relative few who also play the
companys exquisitely expensive private
Stock Angelus acoustics. These are so highly
priced that few can aspire to owning one but
Lifeson and PRS have decided to offer at
least a taste of the experience by marketing
this Korean-made Thinline version at a far
more affordable price. This, let it be said, is
quite an ask! An Angelus is a very expensive
guitar and this isnt - well, not very. So lets
see how it gets on.
Pulling the PRS from its good quality hard
case, its an immediately attractive cutaway

guitar, regardless of the signature on the

headstock. The natural finish, complemented
by the dark rosewood fingerboard and
bridge, make this look a very classy
looking instrument. Carrying over unique
appointments from the original Alex Lifeson
Private Stock Angelus, this SE however
features a thinner body, by some margin.
According to PRS, this Thinline version is
exactly what Alex Lifeson specified and what
that means in practical terms is that the body
depth has been reduced to 3 7/8, which is
quite a notable reduction on the deep bodied
acoustics were all used to. It does, as you
would expect, have some influence on the
guitars sound but not as much as you might

The electrics on the SE are courtesy of an

undersaddle pickup, with volume and tone
controls accessible via the soundhole.



Well made Good looks Fine playability Warm


Soundhole controls can be awkward in use La

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

e Acoustic Guitar

dinary players the world over. But can the signature

ustic instruments? Lewis Turner finds out.

The finishing standard on our sample was excellent,

as always seems to be the case with PRS instruments.
Check inside and the X-Brace/Classical Hybrid
design, which follows the pattern used on the original,
looks immaculate. PRS SE tuners are fitted and are
as solid to use as youd hope, adorning a beautiful
mahogany headstock, again adding to the overall
quality look of the instrument. The mahogany neck
is a very comfortable C shape that fits the hand well,
feeling much like an electric guitars neck, which is a
good thing if you are coming from that background.
The 25.35 scale neck bears 20 frets, all seated and
finished nicely, with an easy going action. Our sample
was set up nice and low to make barre chords and
lead playing easy, but not so low as to introduce
fretbuzz or intonation issues. This model also
features Birds in Flight inlays which is also a
nice touch.
The cutaway gave good access to the higher frets
although, as is quite common on guitars of this
type, the strap fixing gets in the way as its
fixed onto the neck joint. The thinline body,
meanwhile, is a comfortable shape - not big
enough to put off acoustic new comers, and
not too small that you experience a huge loss
of volume and depth. Having a solid spruce

m tone Great amplified sound

aminated back and sides Some compromises due to size



PRS SE Alex Lifeson Signature Acoustic Guitar

top with laminated dao back and sides (dao is

aka Pacific walnut - Ed) yields a certain tone,
offering a midrange heavy voice suitable
for Blues type playing, and ringing chord
work. The mahogany neck and rosewood
fingerboard combination adds some depth,
making this a very versatile guitar, yielding
plenty of dynamic range and warmth right
across the tonal spectrum. You might assume
that the thinner body means you sacrifice
volume and tone but, contrary to some other
opinions Ive heard, I cant say I was bothered
by this. Plenty of volume can be achieved
once you start to dig in and this is not
hindered by the Thinline shape.


The electrics on the SE are courtesy of

an undersaddle pickup, with volume and
tone controls accessible via the soundhole.
This means there is no built-in tuner, nor
the familiar three band EQ you often find
on amplified acoustics these days. In fact,
at a glance you would be forgiven for not
realising its an electro-acoustic at all. Ive
played a fair few guitars with the controls
inside the soundhole and have come to some
firm conclusions about the arrangement.
Yes, it looks neat and tidy, but making
adjustments whilst playing is pretty tricky.
There is no doubting that the undersaddle
pickup on this PRS is of a high quality, there
was hardly any tone loss when plugged in
or issues with feedback, and the controls

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40




worked fine - they are just fiddly to use. It,
of course, looks better than having a big preamp on top of the guitar but Im just not
sure how easy the soundhole set-up would
be to live with long term before you started
taking a jigsaw to it!
The PRS Alex Lifeson SE is not only a great
signature model guitar, its a good all-round
acoustic guitar, that even players who arent
Rush fans shouldnt rule it out. Our sample
was as well made as you would hope any
PRS would be and was very playable. There
are some questions to be asked, however.
The first is that the use of laminated wood
for the back and sides seems a bit borderline
on a guitar of this price. As we have said
before in the Quiet Room, there is nothing
particularly wrong with laminates and used
properly they can be very good indeed. They
are also very consistent in performance.
However, they tend to be used for cheapness
and laminated dao wood is an unusual
choice. This is a very hotly contested area
of the market place and while having Alex
Lifesons endorsement is going to give this
PRS extra clout with Rush fans, others might
discount that factor and if you do, judged
against some of the competition in its price
range, it might not appeal quite so much
to the purist acoustic player. Then again, it
is very playable, so you get the feeling that
Rock players who are primarily into electrics
would like this one very much indeed.


Finally, yes I find the soundhole controls

a little fiddly but eventually I would learn
to live with it, or maybe Im the only one
that has an issue with them anyway? On the
whole a great sounding acoustic plugged in
or not, it comes with a nice case and is well
worth auditioning. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

PRS SE Alex Lifeson Signature

MSRP 889 US $799 (street)

Neck Wood

Made in: Korea



Fretboard & Bridge Wood

15 1/2 Cutaway


Depth (neck block)

Fretboard Inlays

2 25/32

Birds In Flight Inlay

Depth (tail block)

Nut & Saddle

3 7/8




PRS X-Brace/Classical Hybrid


PRS SE Tuners

Top Wood


Solid Spruce

Pickup System

Back Wood
Side Wood

Undersaddle Volume and Tone

with Volume and Tone Controls
Accessible Via Soundhole



Number of Frets




Scale Length

12-53 (Light)


Included Accessories

Nut Width

Hardshell Case



Truss Rod

1 21/32
String Spacing


2 3/16



Art & Lutherie Folk Spruce

Looking for an honest, reliable, great sounding acoustic made by a real guitar maker? M
with the Art & Lutherie Folk. Then we told him the price...

rt & Lutherie comes from a

Canadian hot bed of small guitar
makers situated around Quebec.
Along with Seagull and Simon & Patrick,
these brands all come under the Godin
umbrella and pride themselves on being
handcrafted from 95% sustainable Canadian
wood. And why not! Canada is a huge
country with a lot of space and a lot of trees,
so using local resources keeps the costs down
and the quality up. Its all done in a very ecofriendly way too, because Art & Lutherie use
wood from previously fallen trees in eastern
Canada. No clear cutting or deforestation
is involved, which is very good to know. If
we guitarists actually stopped and thought
for second about what has happened to the
forests of the world over the last 50 years in
order to make our precious high end guitars,
we would hopefully feel a little pang of guilt.
So, no guilt with our review guitar the Art &
Lutherie Folk.
I have to confess to some confusion about
the materials used on this nice looking
guitar. Most of the models in this Folk size



range from A&L have cedar tops but our

sample had an antique stained spruce top.
You can have either a cedar or a spruce
version and we had the spruce model,
though I misidentified it as cedar when I
was filming my review. Its hard to tell under
that finish! Whichever version you choose,
all the tops on these guitars are apparently
pressure tested to give the highest stiffness
and maximum harmonic vibration. Im
presuming this is a process of pressurising
the wood to make it denser and more rigid,
which would have the side effect of making
it very sensitive to vibration, but I dont
claim to be a luthier!
In addition to the pressure testing, A&Ls
guitars are finished in a satin sheen which
the maker calls a custom varnish finish,
and which apparently allows the guitar to
breathe and most importantly, age. A well
made acoustic will age gracefully and sound
better and better as the years go by. This
guitar sounds very nice now, but wouldnt it
be interesting to compare how 30 years of
playing would improve the tone! They also


Excellent woods Solid top Well made Good


None to speak of

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Michael Casswell already thought hed found a winner

have semi-gloss and gloss options, but I like the satin look on this
The back and sides are a very attractive wild cherry, which seems
to be a lovely reddish brown wood that looks great and suits the
whole look of the guitar. Im guessing that wild cherry wood
imparts the warmth and depth of tone and the spruce top gives it
the high end definition. It would be interesting to try his spruce
topped model next to a cedar one to see just what the tonal
difference between the two is.
The body shape is defined as Folk which is a
comfortable size for any player. It doesnt have the
volume and bass of a dreadnought, but is not far off.
Acoustic buffs say certain size acoustic guitars suit
certain playing styles or music, which is true, but I see
no reason why this guitar cant cater for all acoustic
needs. There is an onboard Godin pre-amp which
makes the guitar even more versatile, on stage or
in the studio. The pre-amp sounds great and is
simple and easy to navigate. The spec for this
guitar says its an EPM Quantum 1, but I just
saw the name Godin on it.
The fingerboard and bridge are matching
rosewood, and maybe these are the parts of
the guitar that were not found fallen in the

sound Easy to play Great value



Art & Lutherie Folk Spruce

Canadian forest - still, you cant have

everything. The neck on the other hand is
made from silver leaf maple, which is the
fourth tone wood used on this guitar. The
neck is comfortable will be just right for
most players, being pretty middle of the road
in its dimensions.

should be very stable and be able to take

environmental and temperature changes
in its stride because A&L says that it uses
an integrated set neck system that is very
resistant to warping and twisting. The neck
also has a double function truss rod should
you need to tweak it.

Again, the intonation seemed very good

all over the neck. Some acoustics, even
expensive ones, can be a compromise with
certain chord voicings, but this one sounds
nicely in tune in any position. The neck

We liked this guitar even without knowing

its price - but when we found out what its
selling for, we had to do a bit of a quick
rethink because wed assumed it was twice
the price! At double the money it would be a


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

We liked this guitar even without

knowing its price - but when we found
out what its selling for, we had to do
a bit of a quick rethink because wed
assumed it was twice the price!
very creditable guitar without, perhaps, being
outstanding. But at the asking price, we
think this one is a steal - a Canadian made,
mostly hand-crafted acoustic guitar built
from good quality woods at the price of a
mass produced, factory made Chinese guitar
from one of the lesser known brands. How
could you possibly go wrong?

Art & Lutherie

Folk Spruce


MSRP 299 (street) US $545

Art & Lutherie offers a large range of guitars,

with 6 and 12 string versions, dreadnoughts,
cutaways, folk or parlour body sizes, nylon or
steel strings, and some striking colours and
finishes. If this guitar is anything to go by,
then they certainly deserve your interest and
attention. END >

Finish: Semi Gloss Custom Varnish

Tusq nut & saddle by Graphtech

Made in: Canada


Back & Sides: Wild Cherry

EPM Quantum 1 electronics and

TRIC case

Neck: Silver leaf maple

Top: Spruce (Pressure Tested Solid


Fingerboard & Bridge: Rosewood



Takamine Pro Series P3NY

Regarded by many as the pro players on tour acoustic of choice, Takamine has carve
Now responding to the wider horizons of modern guitarists, the company has expand
bodied market. Lewis Turner checks out a very appealing newcomer.

he P3NY is part of Takamines

New Yorker range, the P3 being
a Parlour-style-acoustic which
is the smallest body type Takamine offers.
Parlour (Parlor in US English) sized guitars
are hugely popular just now as players
who would once have dived straight for
a dreadnought discover that small doesnt
necessarily mean restricted in terms of tone.
In fact, the best guitars in this size range ooze
subtle tones that record superbly.
Another advantage is that they are easy to
handle and this Takamine is the companys
smallest full scale guitar but the body
shape has been designed to make it super
comfortable to play sitting or standing. Fit
and finish overall on our sample was very
good. This is what one has come to expect
from Takamine over the years and its good
to see standards still high from this respected
The P3NYs Classical style headstock and
tuners are a great touch, adding to the overall
quality look of the instrument. The neck is a
very comfortable C shape that fits the hand



well feeling much like an electric guitar neck

and not a miniature guitar. Obviously, this
has distinct advantages for players who are
constantly swapping between electric and
acoustic, as well as being generally easier to
play. The frets were all seated and finished
nicely, with an easy going action, low enough
to make barre chords and lead playing easy,
but not so low as to introduce fretbuzz or
intonation issues.
There is no cutaway on this guitar, as you
can see, but you would probably lose a fair
bit of tonal depth if it did have one, so there
are no complaints there, though the neck
joint and strap button do hinder the upper
fret access a fair bit. Then again, on this style
of guitar you probably arent intending to
visit the dusty end that often!
Constructionally, the P3NY features a
solid cedar top matched with a solid sapele
back and sapele sides and the combination
delivered a very pleasing tone. Despite its
size, the sound it makes is sweet and clear
with a frequency range that makes it stand
out in the mix. Having a mahogany neck


Well made Great looks Great playability War


Placement of electronics is a little awkward Ne

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

d out a tremendous reputation over the years.

ded into the very fashionable Parlor style small

There is no cutaway on
this guitar,, as you can see,
but you would probably
lose a fair bit of tonal depth
if it did have one
and a rosewood fingerboard matches
perfectly with the body wood, probably
adding more depth and warmth to the
overall tonal palette. Its a very versatile
guitar yielding plenty of dynamic range
and warmth right across the tonal
spectrum. Despite its size, plenty of
volume can be achieved once you start to
dig in. Takamines split saddle bone bridge
provided faultless intonation and excellent
acoustic coupling to the top.
The electrics on this guitar are courtesy
of Takamines own CT4B II pre-amp
system. Included in this set-up is a three
band equaliser, volume control, plus

rm tone with plenty of volume

eck joint means limited upper fretboard access



Takamine Pro Series P3NY

built in tuner. The tuner worked well and

all the controls were straightforward to use.
However, they are all placed quite far around
the guitar, near the neck joint, meaning a
fair bit of neck craning to see them, making
adjustment a little tricky on the fly.
There is always an issue with plugging in
an acoustic. It seems that however you do


it, a lot of natural tonal characteristics are

lost as the sound winds its way through the
various systems, but the electronics in the
P3NY worked well, with no feedback issues
and the three band EQ is a great thing to
have at your fingertips. It did lose some of its
warmth and bottom end compared with the
pure acoustic tone but that is to be expected

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

tone compromised. Well set up and easy to

play straight out of the box, the headstock
and saddle are nice design features that give
it a unique look. This is not just a good small
acoustic but a great all round acoustic guitar.
If you want great tone without the size, then
this could be the acoustic for you. END >

and by adding a bit of bass on the EQ you

can claw back some of that. Plugging into
a standard PA or good acoustic amp will
suit this guitar down to the ground, but if
you are recording with it, definitely use a
mic capture its true, and really very good,
The P3NY is a great, small and comfortable
acoustic that despite its size hasnt had its

Takamine Pro Series P3NY


MSRP 1,042.80

US $1,814


Made in: Unknown

Nut Width 1.675 (42.5 mm)

Top Solid Cedar

Electronics CT4B II Preamp

system with 3-band EQ, Volume
control and built in tuner

Back Solid Sapele

Sides Sapele

Finish Satin

Neck Mahogany with rosewood



Giorgio Serci

Study n.27
Hello there and welcome
to Guitar Interactive.
In this column well
be looking at another
composition of mine called
Study n. 27.
This is another bespoke
piece dedicated to
the Guitar Interactive
community, particularly
for all the guitarists willing
to expand their palette of
harmonic, melodic and
rhythmic colours as well as
improving their fingerstyle
In this piece, it is easy
to identify three distinct
parts: The main melody,
with its singing-like


quality, a counter-melody
complementing the main
one and providing the
harmonic ingredients to
imply the chosen chords
with a question & answer
approach and, finally,
the relatively simple
accompanying bass line.
The melody is often
played with one of my
favourite techniques,
called a campanella. This
strategy gives the melody a
bell-like, sustained quality,
which makes the most of
the overtones produces by
each note. In section B
the melody is played with
natural harmonics. (A
Roman numeral indicates

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





Giorgio Serci

the fret number where these harmonics are

achieved, in the PDF provided). In bar 8, the
melody was harmonised using the so-called
parallel motion technique, which consists
of harmonising a melody with another one
following the same direction (ascending or
The harmonic content is very guitaristic, as
it gravitates around the key of Em, allowing
using many open strings. Inversions are
another harmonic ingredient utilised in this
piece. This is evident in bar 4, 11, where a
D7 has been voiced in its 1st inversion (3rd
on the bass) and in bar 14, which features
an Em 2nd inversion (5th on the bass). I love


using inversion, as this strategy shows a

chord in a different light.
As I mentioned in the previous columns, I
like to use different compositional strategies
to write my music. This helps creating
compositions with varied narrative qualities
and less repetitive.
In this piece, for example, the melody was
conceived first by singing it and playing
it on the guitar. Next, I have conceived
an accompanying bass line, including a
counter melody, which followed the chord
progression depicted below:

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40











The first 7 bars (section A) are repeated twice

and the remaining 9 bars (section B) follow
to finish.
As always, I would like to recommend
researching the above-mentioned techniques
in order to be able to use these to compose
your own pieces. We have to allow ourselves
to make mistakes and reflect on the reasons
why we like, or not, a particular sound, a
chord progression or modulation. Eventually,
these sounds will become part of your
musical lexicon and we should be able to use
these effectively and creatively.
The picking-hand pattern is
predominantly as follows:






Next we are going to look at the left hand

part (chord shapes):
Bar 1: Open E and B are followed by index f
on fret 2 of A, middle f on fret 2 of D, little f
on fret 4 of D and open G.
Open B, e and the little f on fret 3 of B.
Bar 2: Open A, index on fret 1 of B and
middle f on fret 2 of D, followed by open B,
ring f on fret 2 of G and open G.
Index on fret 2 of A and little f on fret 4 of
D, followed by middle f on fret 2 of G, open
G and fret 4 of D again with little f still in
Bar 3: As bar 1.

(Please note E=low E string, e= high E string)

p focuses on the bass lines (occasionally a
counter-melody in the bass register), while i,
m, a play the melody and counter-melody or
harmony part.
Play this part in a relaxed and clear manner,
making sure your thumb is a little forward
compared to the i, m, a fingers, in order
to prevent it from colliding with the i
finger. As always, focus on attack and tonal
consistency. The melody and the supporting
harmonies will be played with the i, m and
a fingers, so attack is needed to outline the

Bar 4: Middle f on fret 2 of E, index on fret

1 of Band open D, followed by open B, ring
f on fret 2 of G, open G.
Ring f on fret 5 of A with middle f on fret 3
of D, followed by open e, index on fret 3 of
B and little f on fret 5 of G.
Bar 5: Ring f on fret 3 of E and open B,
followed by open D, G and middle f on fret
2 of G. Middle f slides on the fret 4 of G,
supported by open E, followed by index f on
fret 3 of B, ring f on fret 5 of G and open B.
Bar 6: Open A, index on fret 1 of B and
middle f on fret 2 of D, followed by open
B, ring f on fret 2 of G and open G. Index



on fret 1 of A and little f on fret 4 of D,
followed by open G, little f on fret 4 of D
and middle f on fret 2 of D.
Bar 7: Index and middle f on fret 2 of A and
D, followed by open G, B and e.
(Barre on fret 2) Index in fret 2 of A and G.
Middle f on fret 4 of D and little f on fret 4
of B, followed by index on fret 2 of e, and
again fret 4 of B and open B.
Repeat the first seven bars from the top.
Bar 8: As bar one but with melody played
8va (one octave higher) with harmonics on
fret XII and 7, as demonstrated on the video
and depicted on the transcription.
Bar 9: Open A and descending 6ths played
on the G and e strings with the following
fingers: ring and middle f on fret 9 and 8,
index f on fret 7, ring f and little f on fret 5,
middle and index f on fret 4 and 3. Next,
index on fret 2 of A, G and e with ring f on
fret 4 of B. Little f on fret 5 of e, middle f on
fret 3 of e and fret 2 of e with index.
Bar 10: As bar 3
Bar 11: As bar 4
Bar 12: As bar 5
Bar 13: Open A and ring f on fret 7 of D,
followed by open B, index on fret 5 of G,
and open e. Next, index on fret 1 of A, open
G, middle f on fret 1 of B and little f on fret
3 of e, followed by ring f on fret 2 of B, little
f on fret 2 and open e.
Bar 14: Index on fret 2 of A and open e,
followed by middle f on fret 2 of D, open G,


B. Middle f on fret 2 of D, open G, B and e.

G, B and e. Little f on fret 3 of e (hold this
note). Ring f on fret 2 of e followed by open
Bar 15: Middle f on fret 2 of A, index on
fret 1 of D, ring f on fret 2 of G and open
B. Next, natural harmonic on fret XII of B.
(Mute open E from the previous bar)
Bar 16: Open E, middle f on fret 2 of A,
little f on fret 4 of D, index on fret 1 of G
and open B. Next, natural harmonic on fret
Congratulations, you have completed
Study n.27!
As always, you will be able to download a
transcription by selecting the menu option in
this page.
I strongly recommend experimenting with a
few picking variations, changing the chords
as you wish in terms of voicing (higher or
lower), as well as trying the same picking
pattern on a different chord progression,
or using a capo on fret 2 for a brighter
When repeating any section twice or more,
you may want to play sul ponticello, (closer
to the bridge) or sul tasto (over the frets) for
more contrasting results.
Make sure you highlight the melody (singing
is a great strategy to play the melody in more
assertive and singing-like manner)
Focus on minimum-movement approach, as
this will help delivering the piece in a more
accurate and consistent manner, while saving

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

of my CDs, available from my website:

This will complete this creative fingerstyle


I hope you will enjoy playing this study piece

and that this will give you some ideas on how
to write your own solo guitar compositions.
If you would like to listen to any more of my
compositions, please check the previous issues
of Guitar Interactive Magazine as well as any

You can also find me on twitter @

giorgioserci as well as on
Till the next time, Goodbye!. END >

GIORGIO ON TOUR in March 2016!

GI readers in Scotland will be able to see Giorgio on tour with fellow guitar
virtuoso Jonny Phillips as two of Europes top players take you on a musical journey
following the guitars history, from its Spanish and North African origins along a path
throughout Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Check out the following venues and dates in March!

THU. 10TH: Aberdeen

SUN. 13TH: Dunkeld

Blue Lamp - 8pm 12

Birnam Arts Centre - 7.30pm 12

FRI. 11TH: Cupar

MON. 14TH: Edinburgh

The Amphitheatre, R.Gordon University 11.45am

Traverse Theatre - 8pm 11

Watts - 8pm 10

TUE. 15TH: Dunfermline

Carnegie Hall - 7.30pm 12

SAT. 12TH: Kilbarchan

Performing Arts Centre - 8pm 12.50





Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





Mayones BE 4 Ash Bass

Polands Mayones has been quietly building a tremendous reputation for itself since back
advanced, but they look stupendous, feature high quality components and skilled workm
Whats not to like? Dan Veall tries to find something - and fails.

with varying specifications. As the name sugges

this bass features a swamp ash body with match
swamp ash headstock facing. Looks pretty good
doesnt it?

Success seems to be on the cards for this

manufacturer as its instruments (guitars as well
as basses) seem to be more widely available now,
in many countries, including the UK, USA and
Canada. One or two of the big names should be
taking a look over their shoulder at Mayones!

The highly sculpted body curves are bold and

follow the outline of the bass scooping through
accentuating angles. Ultimately it makes this an
extremely comfortable instrument to play as we
as one that is wonderfully eye catching. I felt th
the bass had a downsized body - and yes its sm
than a slab Precision of course, but those scoop
and cutaways make it feel even more so. Thats
plus point for sure with those who dont share m
63 stature! The BE 4 wont dwarf you. The w
instrument is super light and so well behaved o
the knee. No neck dive, it sat perfectly still.

Beyond the custom instruments that Mayones

offers, the company makes a wide series of off the
shelf instruments - though they are a far cry from
the obvious traditional basses we all grew up with!
Take the BE 4 we had in for review, for example.
There are three models in the BE series. The Exotic,
the Elite and this, the BE Ash, all of which come

Taking a close look at the bolt-on neck, I can te

you that it feels really slim in hand with a famil
and natural profile. It feels like bare wood that
has just been played in for years. I am a fan of
mahogany anyway but more so as it looks great
with the pin stripes of maple making up the fiv
piece laminate construction. The neck is reinfo

olish guitar and bass manufacturer

Mayones (apparently the name is
pronounced Mayon-ez) has been
around since 1982 and has built a considerable
reputation for itself, becoming particularly well
known for using truly stunning top woods on
ultra playable instruments that cater for all styles,
including extended range (six strings plus) basses.
Indeed two of my best friends, professional players,
use Mayones as their instruments of choice.




Fine looking woods Real craftsmanship Grea


Nothing at all

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

in the 1980s. Not only are Mayones highly technically

manship. Oh, and did we mention affordable prices?





with twin graphite rods internally too, for stability.

Over on the front, its a sparse affair with no inlays
on the rosewood finger board, save for some dot
position markers on the top edge. I think it draws
attention to the body grain too. Keeping things
simple with a clean look, the BE 4 features black
hardware, lightweight keys for the headstock
and a quick release top loading bridge takes up
string anchoring duties. Mayones has selected the
articulate Aguilar DCB dual coil (dual rail) pickups
for neck and bridge positions. These are a great
balance between J style pickups and add a certain
amount of the zing youd find in a Musicman
style humbucker, with a great low end. Both are
supported by a great sounding Bartolini pre-amp
featuring a three band EQ. Additionally, the circuit
has a passive tone control too and the ability to
bypass the EQ circuit totally.
A small attention to detail that I really liked was
that the truss rod cover is the same outline as the
headstock itself.
This was just a super bass from start to finish with a
really great tone and great playability. Whats more,

at components Excellent to play Fine sound



Mayones BE 4 Ash Bass

you can choose a four, five, six string, with

fretless options.
This was our first exposure to the Mayones
brand and it has impressed us so much so
that we are going to start looking at the


companys six string guitars, too. If you are in

the market for a modern, up-market yet still
affordable bass, you need to take a look.
Our thanks to Bass Direct UK for the loan
of this bass. END >

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Mayones BE 4
Ash bass

Tuners - WSC De Luxe Mini; BLK

MSRP 1,749 US $ contact

Pickups & Electronics - Aguilar

Super Singles passive pickups

Made in: Poland

Bartolini H.R 4.6. active preamp

Body - Swamp ash (profiled)

Control - 1 x Volume, 1 x Balance, 1

x Middle (push-pull for mid range
selection), 1 x Treble/Bass

Construction - Bolt - on Neck , 5-ply

/ Mahogany-Maple
Fingerboard - Rosewood
Scale - 870mm (34,25)


String spacing at bridge - 19mm

Frets - 24 medium jumbo Ferd
Markers & inlays Plain, no markers
+ side dots
Headstock - Angled; topped with Ash

Bridge - WSC De Luxe Bass

Body finish - Natural Wood / Oiled

finish (T-NAT-O)
Neck finish - Natural wood / Matt
finish (T-NAT-M)
Strings - SIT
Weight: 4.2kg/9.4lb
Additional equipment - Graph
Tech nut, Switchcraft jack, Schaller
Security Straplocks, deluxe gig bag



MTD Kingston KZ 5 Bass Guita

Mike Tobias is one of the USAs top bass makers - but one of his handmade instruments cou
So is the more affordable Chinese-built MTD a sensible alternative for the thrifty player? Da

TD Guitars (the initials stand

for Mike Tobias Designs)
began life in around 1993, but
for those not in the know already, Michael
Tobias has been proving his expertise in
the bass arena since the late 70s. MTD is a
small company hand creating instruments
in Kingston, New York. Like most boutique
makers, however, the cost of Mikes
instrument is prohibitive for many players,
so Tobias has launched quite a large series of
Chinese made basses under the MTD label.
Of these, the Kingston series is said to be
among his most popular. It comes in four,
five and six string versions, fretted or fretless
and we were loaned a five string fretted
model for this review.
This 35 scale bass features 24 medium
jumbo sized frets that are mounted to a
naked rosewood fretboard. The one-piece
asymmetric neck takes no time to get used to
at all and as a further plus point to comfort
is the satin polyester finish on back showing
off a nice maple grain. I love that the model
also gets the full works with the inclusion
of the Buzz Feiten Tuning System too. This



system, if I may borrow directly from Buzzs

website, eliminates sharp notes at the first
three frets and is used for creating balanced
intonation over the entire fingerboard. A
technique that doesnt look any different to
a non-Feiten instrument to the casual eye
and playability is just the same, which is of
course a good thing but certainly adds to
the demand for such a bass having attention
lavished upon it. Oh, and Im pleased to
see that the bass uses a zero fret - Im just a
fan of them. Some say its better to get the
sound of a fretted note even on the open
strings, but I like it as the string height is
optimally set as it rests on a fret, the same as,
well, any other fretted note on the neck (see
our review of the Zero Glide retrofit zero fret
system, which is available for basses too, in GI
39 - Ed).
Moving down the nicely finished fretboard,
you cannot possibly miss what is a rather
tasty finish! Cherry Burst looks great when it
is glossy and rich and on this instrument it is
no exception. Over the top of the body face,
a maple burl slice is responsible for the grain
through the translucent finish. The carved


Handsome looks Buzz Feiten system a real plu


Wed have preferred a high mass bridge A lot

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


uld set you back a lot of money.

an Veall finds out.
mahogany body is comfortable on the knee and, you
could say it is downsized in comparison to a vintage
P bass - so its is likely to be more comfortable for
those with a smaller frame.
Hardware comprises 19mm spacing on an MTD
quick release bridge which is functional, but not
of the heavy high-mass variety. Then we move to
the pickups. Id like to pause for a moment to just
focus on these particular models. Not for what is
inside them, which would be my usual discussion
point, but what is on the outside. Yes, wood covered
pickups. They look ace! Now, this is personal
preference, but for me, its a bit like colour matched
wing mirrors on your motor. Sometimes plain black
is functional, but youd prefer matching collar and
cuffs right? Yes, I know there is a cost overhead, but
matching covers more closely to the instrument
colour scheme I think would be really cool
So thats the looks done, how does the KZ5 sound?
Untethered from an amplifier it is clear and resonant
but not massively loud. A clear, modern tone that
is assisted by its active electronics. Yes, the pickups
are passive soapbars but they feed a five knob preamplifier providing bass, middle, treble, balance and
master volume. All this is in a shielded cavity which

us Good to play
of very good competition around



Have a listen to the video clip and

enjoy the tones from this KZ5.

MTD Kingston KZ 5 Bass Guitar

ensures no extraneous noise and we certainly

didnt have any problems under our studio
lighting. Have a listen to the video clip and
enjoy the tones from this KZ5.
Its back to that usual place in my review
when I have to round up, which can


sometimes be difficult when pretty much

everything we receive is worthy of a pat
on the back. The MTD KZ5 is certainly a
contender, though in this instance, compared
to some other instruments weve had pass
through the Bassment recently (the Dingwall
five stringer looked at in GI 39, for example

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

or even a five string Mayones as reviewed

in this issue) I wasnt quite as blown away
as Id expected to be. Dont get me wrong,
there is nothing about the MTD that is bad
or below spec and it certainly looks great
and plays well, but this is now a very hotly
contested area of the market, so if I were
spending this sort of money I would want to

As ever, our thanks to Bass Direct

( for the loan of
this bass. END >

MTD Kingston
KZ 5 Bass Guitar

Carved mahogany body with

maple burl top Available in fretless
or left-handed models

MSRP 1,130 (street 849) US


MTD active wood covered soap

bar pickups. Shielded electronics

Made in: China

35 scale
24 medium jumbo frets
Weight 8.5lbs


visit a specialist dealer and spend some time

comparing as many instruments in this price
bracket as I could. If I did, Im not sure I
would walk away with this one.

Maple, rosewood or fretless

Zero fret 1-3/4 wide

MTD quick release bridge, 3/4

19mm spacing
MTD soapbar passive pickups
Double acting truss rod
Controls: volume, pan, treble,
midrange, bass
Buzz Feiten Tuning System

One-piece asymmetric neck with

satin polyester finish



EBS Reidmar 750 head & EBS 4

EBS has updated its well respected Reidmar head. It was already pretty good and this time
through its paces. Dan Veall reports.

ack in GI 13 we reviewed the

original EBS Reidmar head and
liked it a lot. Then we paired
it with one of the Swedish companys CL
(Classic Line) 1x12 cabs but this time we
paired the new version with the meatier
CL4x10 cab, which really rattled the rafters
down here at GI Towers!
I will hold my hands up and admit that we
debated a bit about whether to review what
is, on paper at any rate, not such a huge
upgrade to a product weve reviewed before.
Space is at a premium, there is always a lot of
gear to review, and though this was a power
upgrade (from 500 Watts to 750 at four
Ohms) was that enough of a reason? Well,
Im glad we grabbed the opportunity, as
youll see!
Out of the box, the amplifier head feels
solid and sturdy in its metal casing, which
is rewarding. There is a temptation for
manufacturers aiming for the lightweight
Class D bass amp market to opt for flimsy
materials, but EBS has resisted this and the




Reidmar seems to be very well made. Despite

that, and despite the fact that it will now
deliver 750 Watts, it still only weighs under
4Kg (just over 8lbs).
Before the cameras rolled, I decided to take
this rig for a spin. This is where I get to
spend some proper time with each piece
of kit, in the same room to compare and
get used to what an amplifier and cabinet
combination is capable of. Well, lets just say
that one of the digital team was upstairs,
outside of our sound-proofed studio and
wearing headphones. He came down to see
what all the noise was about. So yes, this new
Reidmar head is capable of some big sounds!
If you are also familiar with the sort of tones
that come from EBS bass gear in general,
then I could very easily close the review here
with a similarly big thumbs up!
OK, still here? Great, lets get on to that
front panel. EBS includes a great Character
switch. This pre-shape EQ is just spot on
and would go as far as leaving the active EQ
disabled for a lot of gig situations. Theres

Made for the road Lots of clean volume to play

Absolutely none

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

410CL cabinet

e we paired it with a Classic Line 4x10s to really put the newcomer

enough there for it to be a make your bass

sound great button!
The full equaliser features beefy boost in
the lows and just the right amount of shine
when boosting the treble and bright controls.
Plectrum bite is accentuated nicely and
I adore the sheen that the bright control
can add to ultra new zingy strings. Its not
all about top and bottom though, even if
EBS bass heads are kinda known as being
really clean sounding amplifiers. A semi-

parametric EQ means that we have access

to mid range sculpting via a sweepable
mid-range frequency control. I am a fan of
parametric equalisers and would be happy to
see at least three bands on any bass amplifier.
The Reidmar paired with the 410CL cabinet
does go very loud indeed and all that clean
audio at tinnitus inducing volumes is rather
lovely, but the Reidmar 750 does have a
darker side which you may venture into
with the drive knob. The manual describes

y with Brilliant definition Trustworthy brand Good price



EBS Reidmar 750 head & EBS 410CL cabinet

the function as a volume compensated tube

emulation stage offering up huge gain as well
as compressing the bass signal; at maximum
settings produces pure imitation. Make no
mistake, EBS can do grit as well as pristine!

and a headphone socket as well as a line out

jack. A balanced DI is a familiar addition on
most amplifiers and its nice to see an Aux In
for connecting external audio devices to play
along to.

The difficulty with making a really small

and light amplifier is that some features,
like large power and speaker sockets, often
have to make way for a cut down feature set.
The Reidmar however comes fully equipped
with a range of hook-ups. The mains switch,
and voltage selector are on the left hand
side of a forced air fan keeping things cool
and over on the right hand side, there is a
single Speakon connector for your speaker
cabinets. The 750 also has an effects loop

The 410 CL cabinet we had in for review

with the new head features four 10 speakers
and a 2 tweeter in the middle of the cabinet.
Its multi laminate ply construction means
that it is a sturdy beast and I am pleased to
say comes in at 34Kg (76 lbs) which isnt so
bad for a non-neodymium speaker loaded
cabinet. There are plenty heavier out there - I
know. Ive owned many!


Tonally, its described as being a little warmer

than the EBS Pro Line cabinets and I would

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

The Reidmar paired with the 410CL

cabinet does go very loud indeed
and all that clean audio at tinnitus
inducing volumes is rather lovely



And if you want to make things gnarly and c

through the mix? Well, that will be even ea
be inclined to agree, but that said, the top end
boost on the amplifier coupled to a very capable
tweeter means that you still have access to some
serious Hi-Fi slap tones if you need. On the subject
of the tweeter, I am pleased to say it delivers a
crystal clear top end, even when the amplifier is
working hard.

EBS Reidmar 750 h

Head: 599 US $699.95
Cab: 799 US $1599

It would be good to hear this head rampaging

away on top of a pair of these 410CL cabs but
sadly it seems the 410CL is only available in four
Ohms versions. Of course, if you were feeling really
determined, there is an 8x10 version available that
would achieve much the same thing, but do you
really fancy regular trips to the osteopath?

Made in: China

All in all, this is a great addition to the EBS range

and pairs really well with the 4x10 Classic Line cab,
being capable of a very clean sound with plenty
of volume to keep up with your heavy handed
drummer. And if you want to make things gnarly
and cut through the mix? Well, that will be even

Character Filter Shelving, High/

Low Pass, +7 dB @ 40 Hz, -2 dB @
800 Hz, +3 dB @ 10 kHz

EBS Reidmar 750 head

Input Impedance 1 Mohms // 100
Gain Range -00 - +30 dB

Tone Controls, Bass - Shelving

+/-18 dB @ 60 Hz
Mid - Bandpass Filter 100 6000
Hz+/- 12-15 dB

Im really impressed with this set-up which not only

does the job very well but does it at a very good
price too, considering the quality on offer. END >


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40



Treble - Shelving +/-18 dB @ 6 kHz

Bright - Shelving +15/-0 dB @ 10 kHz
Drive min/max - 0/34 dB
Balanced Output -10 dBv, Pre/Post
EQ, GND Lift


head & EBS 410CL

Remotes Output Remote Jack RING = Mute / TIP = Drive
Filter Jack - RING = Filter Mode /
TIP = Character
Output Power
700 W RMS @ 4
ohms load (350 W RMS @ 8 ohms)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 15.2 x 10.4 x
3.0 (38.5 x 26.5 x 7.5 cm)

3.7 kg (8.2 lbs.)

EBS CL410 cab

Configuration 4x 10 + 2
Frequency Response 55 - 18k Hz
Sensitivity 99 dB
Power Rating 500 W RMS
Impedance 4 ohms
Height 68 cm / 27
Width 64 cm / 25
Depth 41 cm / 16
Weight 34 kg / 76 lbsa





Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40





Tom Quayle






Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Creating Interesting
Chord Progressions Part 2

i Guys,

Welcome back to my column for

this new issue! I hope you enjoyed last issues
content as we started out on our journey to
create more interesting chord progressions.
For this issue were going to be learning
some new skills that will allow you to take
an existing chord sequence and develop it
in a really interesting way using a cool bit of
theoretical knowledge and some inversions.
So, lets get going!
For a starting point Im going to be using a
chord sequence in E minor that should be
familiar to some of you, especially if you are
Hendrix fans. Heres the sequence: Em G Am Em
Ive previously looked at adding extensions
to chord progressions in earlier columns and
for the sake of making this progression a
little more interesting, without adding any
new chords, I decided to play the following
instead: Em9 G Am7 Em9
Now, at this point, we have a perfectly good
chord sequence that is easy to play over
and sounds great, but we can really add to
it using a simple technique that relies on

Western musics addiction to the cadence

- the pull of a V chord to its associated I
chord. Traditionally we think of using a V
chord in its simplest context - in the key of
Em the V chord would be B7 for example.
But in this progression there is no B7, so at
first glance it appears that there is no cadence
in this progression. Youd be correct in that
assumption, but we can add in a series of
cadences by utilising a simple technique
whereby we lead into each chord with its
own V chord.
If we start to allow our minds to think
outside of the key for a moment and look at
each chord as an isolated event, we can figure
out the V chord that would lead into each of
our chords and place it into the progression.
Lets keep the Em9 at the beginning and
figure out which V chord would lead into the
G chord in bar 2. The V chord in the key of
G is D7, so lets lead into the G chord using
this D7. For a more Jazz based approach
lets add a b9 to the chord to create some
tension leading into the G. Well play the
D7b9 on beat four of the first bar, leading
into the G in bar two. This gives us the new
progression: Em9 / / D7b9 | G / / / | Am7 / / / | Em9 / /



Lets do the same thing now for the Am chord in the key of A minor the V chord is E7, so
well play an E7b9 leading into the Am on beat four of bar two, giving us: Em9 / / D7b9 | G / / E7b9 | Am7 / / / | Em9 / / / |

Creating Interesting Chord Progressions Part 2


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Finally lets lead into the Em9 in bar four

by using its V chord B7#5. Ive chosen a
B7#5 chord here as it voice leads very nicely
into the Em9 chord and still adds tension
to the progression. Now we get the final
progression: Em9 / / D7b9 | G / / E7b9 | Am7 / / B7#5 |
Em9 / / / |
The great thing about this sequence is that
it doesnt affect the soloist at all. They can
continue to play in the key of Em using
an Em pentatonic for the majority of their
phrases and these new chords wont cause
them any issues. But if you want to play over
these new V chords you can (although we
dont have time to go over how you would
approach that in this particular column).

To round things off I want to show you a

quick handy tip for making this progression
even smoother by using an inversion of the
D7b9 and the E7b9 chords. If we put the
third of these chords in the bass we get D7b9
with F# in the bass and E7b9 with G# in the
bass. These inversions can be thought of as
F# diminished and G# diminished so if we
add these into the progression it becomes
even smoother and sounds fantastic. Here is
the final progression with those diminished
chords included notice how smooth the
bass movement is: Em9 / / F#dim | G / / G#dim | Am7 / /
B7#5 | Em9 / / / |
Try applying this technique to other
progressions it can really transform your
writing! Hope you found this useful guys and
Ill see you next time! END >





All imagery Louise I

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Pentatonic Hybrids

i everyone. This Pro

Concepts I thought we
could explore what is
possible if we mix together the major
and minor pentatonic shapes creating
a pentatonic hybrid scale. There will be
many occasions where you shouldnt
be mixing the major and minor sound,
but you would be surprised how often
you actually can, and how often it
sounds very musical. Its a concept
that seems simple when you talk about
it, but is much harder to pull off
convincingly and impressively.
The big clue will be that major 3rd
and your ear. I have heard many times
a guitarist playing a minor pentatonic
over a major or dominant sounding
Blues sequence, which is rarely a good
sound and simply shows the player as
inexperienced, or lacking in musicality.
I am also often very surprised how
the minor pentatonic scale gets
years of practice and use, but the
major pentatonic can often be an
afterthought. Both major and minor
shapes and their relative positions on
the neck should become second nature,

to the point where you dont have to

think about it, almost like it is simply
autopilot for your hands. This is easily
achievable, because we are dealing with
just five shapes that slot together like
a jigsaw. It just takes a little applied
time management and practice. Once
you feel you are on top of the minor
shapes and how they are placed on the
guitar neck, all you have to do is play
those shapes three frets lower to get
your major pentatonics. They all slot
together the same way, its just three
frets lower than it was. If you are more
of a theory person than a shapes on
the neck person, then knowing your
relative major and minor keys will also
speed the process up.
For instance, if you have learnt a
position one A minor pentatonic at the
5th fret, and you know that A minor
and C major are brother and sister,
then that same position one pentatonic
shape at the 5th gives you your C
major pentatonic, but your root note
or key centre has moved from the top
E 5th fret for A minor, to the top E
8th fret C major, but the actual shape
you are playing is exactly the same. If



Pentatonic Hybrids


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

you are reading this and it still sounds like

an alien language, then you need to sit down
with someone that can explain and show this
to you face to face, because you need to nail
this concept very early on in your playing
development. The sooner pentatonics major
and minor in every key becomes as easy as
breathing, the sooner you can develop as an
improvising player ready to move on to three
notes per string shapes and modal thinking.
But the humble pentatonic is first on the list.
As I have said, there are many musical
scenarios where you can interweave both
major and minor shapes, and there are some
great Blues players out there that have this
as standard tool to improvise in the Blues
and Rock genres. Eric, SRV, BB, Jimi, Joe
Bonamassa, Jeff Beck all spring to mind and
all have been doing it all their long careers
(those that are still with us anyway). It also
is very common in Country and Funk. Its a
big colour to have in your playing and worth
putting in the effort to work out how at any
point on the neck, major and minor shape
super impose over each other creating a
hybrid pentatonic, although obviously penta
means five, so we cant still strictly call it a

pentatonic any more. Whatever you want to

call it, it sounds cool.
I could have spent the filmed tutorial
running through every position of each
hybrid shape, but those sort of lessons are
soulless and dull, so I thought it might be
more fun to show you some runs that I put
together combining major and minor shapes
in the key of A. You are all intelligent people
and it wont take much effort to work out
your options at each position. You really do
have to know the major and minor shapes
inside out though, otherwise youll end up
guessing at it and sounding strange rather
than cool!
So just to clarify, in this tutorial, we are
going to combine both A major and A
minor pentatonic shapes, to see what we
can come up with in terms of some runs
and licks. Even if you dont get the theory
behind this, I hope you enjoy some of the
ideas I put together. Feel free to contact me
about all this, or general guitar stuff, on my
Licklibrary Q&A column, or my Facebook
artist page. END >



with S
Sam Bell, one of the UKs fastest-rising guitar stars, comes
to the end of his short series showing you how to improvise
Rock solos - with as little jargon and theory as possible! Fear
not - Sam will be back very soon with an entirely new series
on Extreme Shred, so whatever else you do, dont miss the
next issue of GI!

Part Six

i Sam Bell here, welcome to

the final instalment of my
crash course in Rock guitar
improvisation. Up to this point in our
column series we have looked at the minor
pentatonic scale, ways of playing notes
such as slides, bends, and vibrato. We
have also looked into how to cover larger


areas of the guitar neck by extending our

pentatonic patterns and we added some
cool sequences to them in order to get
some new melodic ideas into our playing.
In this issue I would like to close this
column series by looking at perhaps one
of the most important aspects of guitar
playing: Phrasing.
What is Phrasing?
Phrasing is about how and when you
say things, much like speech, it is very
individual to each person and being aware

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40


Sam Bell



of it can make a huge difference to how you
communicate your message, or in our case,
our solo! Phrasing is partly based on what
techniques you use to sound a note. For
example, hammering-on a note will sound
different from picking it. Do you slide up to
a note or bend up to it? The choice is yours,
but it is important to be aware of that choice,
it can make a HUGE difference when you
pay attention to it when coming up with
lines, improvising and writing music on the
The other side of phrasing is WHEN things
happen, when you decide to play a particular
note within the music youre playing or it
could be where you start a long line, the
contour of the line (low vs. high notes
that stick out in the line to the listeners
ear). I would really encourage you to listen
to your favourite guitarists and listen for
things they do that make them sound like
nobody else, dont get too caught up in the
technical aspects, just listen out for things,
when and where they do them etc. You will
find the more you listen the more you can
incorporate into your own playing to create
your own unique voice.
Rut-Busting with Phrasing.
Something else I think is exceptionally
important to address regarding phrasing is it
can bust you out of a rut. All of us guitarists
can suffer from a wandering mind, our
maybe a wandering hand in our case! When
it comes to improvisation, sometimes we end
up meandering around aimlessly if we arent
careful. Whilst that can be great for warming


up and keeping your fingers in shape, being

aware of various forms of phrasing can set
you back on the right track into making your
improvised solos sound concise, musical and
most importantly enjoyable for both you and
the listener. Remember, playing is fun but
if you have an audience, they want to hear
things that they relate tosometimes when
we get stuck meandering around the neck we
can sound a little lost at times, this is often
a result of letting our fingers take control,
running through familiar patterns and licks.
Whilst this is very useful for connecting
ideas or adding some speedier runs into our
playing, being aware of phrasing can really
inject some fresh inspiration into our solos.
I want to run over a few concepts that you
can use to help you practice your phrasing
and also hopefully help you out of those
meandering moments when they occur; they
happen to all of us!
Call and Response:
Perhaps the most common shape of solo
forms so to speak is call and response. A
very valuable concept that has most likely
been around since the first few cave men and
woman discovered they could hit things and
make sounds. It is the same as being asked a
question and answering it or vice versa, we
can use this very human concept to help give
our solos a sense of melodic purpose. This
technique can lead to some very listenable
catchy solos, however as with all techniques,
be sure to mix it up, too much of a good
thing can be a bad thing! But lets move on

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

with the explanation. Call and response in

a very basic sense involves coming up with
a very simple theme as a question, leaving
a short amount of space and responding to
your question with a phrase which sounds
as if its answering the question.
I am not talking about emulating human
speech here! However I am probably hinting
towards how we conduct our conversations,
and after all music is a language. You may
respond with a straight yes or no answer,
or you might even answer with another
questionthe choice is yours, there are
endless ways of doing this, but it all starts
with a theme and because you are relating

your phrases to that initial question the solo

should sound fairly concise, understandable
and entertaining. Of course you can
move out of this call and response idea
in your solo, but you can use the analogy
of conversation in order to spark your
creative phrasing genius in your improvised
guitar solos. Imagine how an argument
would sound on guitar!? Just imagine
if half way through someone else came
into the argument but then somehow the
conversation ended with everyone going
down the pub! You can create solos from
little stories like that, its a great tool to get us
out of our guitar centric frame of mind when
we are in a soloing rut!

Rock Improvisations Part 6




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

In Summary:
There are so many other subtle things that we can learn about phrasing. In
this column I just wanted to introduce it as a real thing you can practice
and be aware of. The best place to go from here is listening to your heroes
play guitar, listen carefully to how they are constructing their solos and
how they are articulating notes. (Listening to one Jeff Beck song can be a
masterclass in itself!) And dont just listen to guitar, its just a tool to make
music! Listen to everything that is going on, listen to the drums, listen
to the singer, listen to anything that piques your interest and work out
whats going on, you dont necessarily have to learn it note for note to learn
something from it. So have fun exploring, the world of improvisation is
waiting for you!
I hope this series of columns has inspired some new ideas in your soloing
or at least given you some new ways of looking at things. I will be back in
the next issue with my brand new Extreme Shred series where I look at
some considerably more speedy and dexterous ideas in order to build some
extreme shred licks. Until then, see you next time! END >



Guitar Interactive reviewer and top session p

Stuck in a rut? Want to get back into playing after




Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40






player, Lewis Turner takes us Back To Basics in his new column.

r a break? Lost in theory? Lewis helps you find the music again.



h, chords! The so important yet

overlooked part of many a guitarists
knowledge! Why is that? As a
guitarist you will spend the majority of your
time being part of a rhythm section, either
playing chords or riffs. Yet many players
overlook this vital area to concentrate on
their shredding lead chops, which is all well
and good but to be a well rounded musician
one must study or at least look into all areas.
The CAGED system is a tried and tested
method for visualising both chords, scale
shapes and arpeggios. In this lesson we are

concentrating on the chord aspect, namely

major chords. Be sure to check out the
accompanying video where I demonstrate the
various shapes, how best to play them and
how they could be applied.
Lets take a moment to look at the humble C
chord. I will assume that we all know how to
play your basic C chord in the open position,
and it works just fine. The CAGED system
will give you five different positions to play
that same C chord. But why!!?? I hear you
cry, why would you possibly need to know
more than one C chord? Well you could



quite happily go through your playing life

only knowing that one shape, and lets face
it no one is going to die, but ask yourself
how versatile is that C chord in its open
position? Does it sound great on an acoustic
strummy song? Yes. Does it sound great in
a funk/punk/rock/jazz context? Possibly not
always. Here is the problem: its all about
sonic space. If you are playing in a Funk
setting then you will have a bass player at
least outlining the root notes and possibly a
keys player playing big chords, so where will
your chord fit in? That big ringy shape that
you know will get lost in the mix, but if you
know a higher voicing for the same chord,
say a D shape around the 12th fret then thats
going to cut through the mix and make
your part stand out much better. Its not just
about learning five shapes to say I can play
C in 5 different places its about learning
how to use them.


CAGED is a system that takes the basic open

chords of C,A,G,E,D and shows you how to
move them around the fretboard using Barre
shapes to get different chords depending on
where your root note is. For example playing
an E shape with a Barre at the 5th fret will
give you an A Major chord. The order always
stays the same, so if you are on an E shape
the next shape along will be a D shape then
C etc. As with all these things it takes a while
and perseverance to get your head around,
but I urge you to get really familiar with the
CAGED system as it will really open up your
fretboard, help your visualisation and make
you more aware of where you fit sonically. I
go into more detail on the video and seeing
it should help you understand it better, you
will also find the shapes written out on the
attached TAB.
As always, start slowly and make the aim
to understand what you are doing not just

Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

learning the shapes parrot fashion, then apply them musically. Next time we will look at the
accompanying Major scale shapes. For all things guitar please visit www.lewisturnerguitar.
com Good luck and see you next month! END >




Developing Technical Ability - Alternate Picking Part 2






Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Country Guitar
with Andy Wood

Guitar Interactive is proud to welcome back Andy Wood with the fifth
instalment of his new column!

Double Stops

strings tuned to a chord with a tone bar. For

us we need to get used to picking out notes
from chords and playing them at the same
time, and this can create both technical and
visualization problems.

here are few techniques more

associated with Country guitar
players than the almighty double
stop. If thats a term thats new
to you, you might find yourself confused,
but a double stop is where you play two
notes at the same time. Terms like double
stop, diads or even mini chords are totally
This technique really does go back way
before Country guitar was a thing, as youll
hear it all over Bluegrass fiddle players, piano
players, or on string instruments that sit in
open tunings like lap or pedal steel guitar.
When doing these things on the guitar we
have a few more problems than a pedal
steel played might have as were not playing

This is definitely one youre going to want

to persevere with though, as when you listen
to any of the great Country guitar players
like Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Danny Gatton
or Brad Paisley, youre going to hear these
ideas all over the place. If you want to see it
taken to the logical end, it would be worth
checking out Cincinnati resident picker
Scotty Anderson who has really taken this
thing to the next level, basically using it to
shred solos with, those he has his own crazy
technique to be able to execute his ideas at



Scotty Anderson - Boogs boogie live


Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 40

Balanced Alternate Picking

After that, what were going to look at is

going to feel simple in comparison, so lets
talk about hybrid picking.
Hybrid picking (sometimes called chicken
pickin) is the art of using the other fingers
on the picking hand to sound notes rather
than just using a pick. This is great for
double stops as it means we can play two
notes at the same time rather than having
to brush them with a pick - this allows us to
get some real spank as were digging in with
the fingers and plucking them away from the
As a starting point, we can take an A7 chord
and play A and G triads (R and b7 triads)

against it. If we use the little triad patterns

found up and down the strings this will give
us two notes we can play consecutively with
the middle and ring finger. If you take your
two note fragment for A and move it down 2
frets youll have a G.
We can also do this on different string sets to
really give us an opportunity to explore the
fretboard, so get experimenting with those
ideas and see what you can come up with.
Next time well look at some more
complicated ideas as your fingers will be
more prepared to play these ideas, so stick
with it and Ill see you then! END >