Page 1

G E A R R EVI E W S ❘ I N T E RVI EW S ❘ GUITAR LESSONS

SATCH’S NEW MARSHALL HEAD!

360

ISSUE 360

THE GUITAR MAGAZINE

October 2012

www.guitarist.co.uk | £5.50 | October 2012

EXCLUSIVE

www.guitarist.co.uk

Inside

The Guitar Magazine

Dedicated Follower Of Fusion?

Improve your playing!

Guitar lessons in blues, acoustic, theory PLUS: Foo Fighters style file Fulltab&audio

+

Evorelicupclose REVIEWED

Rickenbacker 650C Peavey PXD Devin Townsend Strymon Flint Peerless Leela 40 Providence pedals AND MUCH MORE!

£5.50

INTERVIEWED RIVAL SONS SIMON McBRIDE GARY ROSSINGTON GARY CLARK Jr

All-new interview and video OCTOBER 2012

Steve Vai Carvin Holdsworth & Gambale Marshall JVM Satriani

Carvin Frank Gambale & Allan Holdsworth signature models Reviewed & demo’d

the mind of


Frontend

Need this? Try this…

And also…

Add a shot of sonic spice to your guitar sound #16 Tape delay simulators

1 BossRE 20 SpaceEchoDelay£209

NOEL SAYS NO Noel Gallagher has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to play an acoustic rendition of Wonderwall at the Olympics closing ceremony. “They wanted me to mime,” he told XFM. “I’m all for miming in TV shows – I’m all for that – but if you’re in a stadium with 80,000 people and you’re pretending? I can play live! In the end, I was just like, ‘You know what, I’d rather watch it on the telly.’” MARS ROCKS NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been enjoying some classic rock music as it explores the Red Planet. NASA’s Eric Blood said the ‘wake-up calls’ for the robot have included Beatles, Doors and even Anthrax tracks. Blood said Curiosity was: “less cranky with a good wake-up song.” BLUR BOW OUT IN STYLE Blur’s recent Hyde Park Olympics concert performance has been released as a live album download. Entitled Parklive, a three-CD live album with accompanying DVD and bonus CD of recent live shows will follow in November. BEATLES (MANSION) FOR SALE The Weybridge mansion owned by John Lennon between 1964 and 1968 is available to buy – for a cool £15 million. Agent Knight Frank describes the home as a: “luxuriously finished family home, formerly owned by John Lennon, set in about 1.5 acres of exquisite gardens within the renowned St George’s Hill Estate.”

24 Guitarist October 2012

Few effects can stir the soul quite like the decaying, fluttering repeats of tape-echo delay. The RE-20 recreates the prized 1974 RE-201, adding expression pedal input, tap tempo and longer delay time. The original is warmer, but it’s rare and pricey. www.roland.co.uk

3 StrymonElCapistan£279

2 FulltoneTube TapeEcho£999

The TTE is an actual tube tape echo: but blends retro chic with Fulltone’s modern design know-how. It features two 12AX7s and a 12AT7, a hand-wired audio path, three stereo modes, sound-on-sound and aims to improve on most key aspects of the original. www.fulltone.com

Picks

Strymon claims its dTape technology: “models all of the complexities of tape machines: wow and flutter, tape friction, bias adjustment, oscillation, saturation and delay-time adjustment artefacts.” And it does so very well, too – it’s flexible, fully featured and a great all-round take on the magic of the tape. www.strymon.net

Highlights from last issue

Acoustics

Amplifiers

Effects

Bass

£2,539

Seagull Entourage Grand Rustic £455

We said: “A resonant, pro-quality guitar with huge potential for the modernminded player”

We said: “The Grand’s full scale and balanced tonality is perfect for home and recording use”

We said: “Grown-up tones, sonic versatility and good looks… For recording, this could be all the amp you ever need”

We said: “The APP-1 is a pedal-sized preamp with a vast breadth of tones, great features and an excellent boost function”

We said: “If you like classic Ampeg bass sounds, you’re going to love this. Small it may be, but it doesn’t skimp on sound”

Electrics

Music Man Reflex Game Changer

Vox AC4HW1 £778

A/DA APP-1 £339

And Finally… Dumble amps – those elusive boutique boxes created by Alexander ‘Howard’ Dumble of Los Angeles for an A-list of star guitarists – retain their rarity, mystique and their exorbitant prices to this day. Dumble’s tonesome alumni include Santana, Robben Ford, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan among a select few others. However, even we were taken aback when we came across a recent trade round-robin email advertising a humble Dumble 1x12 speaker cab for sale for a not so cool £11,995. We duly did a quick search for Steel String Singer head to go with it. $125,000, anyone? Now where’s that Lotto ticket?

Ampeg Micro-CL Bass Stack £435


Music

Jon Herington

The Steely Dan sideman on Gibsons, Guytrons and the quest for the perfect solo…

F

or a player who’s normally associated with pristine tone, it’s heartening that Jon Herington still enjoys adding a big dollop of filth to his sound. Although the New York player is best known as the superbly able guitarist in Steely Dan’s touring band, he’s just cut a sharp new solo album, Time On My Hands, that “allows room for me to stretch out on the guitar in a way that I’ve never done before,” he says. Blending urbane guitar pop with savvy New York jazz-rock, Herington says he set boutique amps to one side in order to achieve the fried-transistor fuzz tones of the opening track, Shine Shine Shine. “There’s a guy named Robert Keeley who makes fancy stompboxes, including one called a Fuzz Head,” Jon says. “So I went into the Fuzz Head and then into this old Sony boombox that I keep in my studio. I put a mic on one of the speakers and tried to make it as kind of ratty sounding as I could, because it starts the whole record and I thought it’d be kind of a fun game to play with people.” It’s a move typical of the off-the-cuff wit of the album. Nonetheless, Herington’s playing is no joke. Through cascading phrases of crisp, imaginative lead guitar, Herington shows off the high-class chops he’s honed during more than a decade with the Dan. “I admire players who somehow manage to get the details right from measure to measure, but also where the whole solo has a certain arc and a certain shape, with peaks in the right place,” Herington reflects. “But it’s one of the most difficult things to do to narrow the gap between the perspective you have when you’re in the middle of the music, trying to play, and a listener’s perspective.” Jon adds that if he makes a mistake while improvising at home, he’ll often stop, make a mental note of where he was trying to go and then ‘learn’ the fully developed solo he heard in his mind’s ear. “I’ll go back and practise that as if it were a study, so that in case my ear goes to that same idea next time I’ll at least have one solution that I worked out. And what I find is that if I do that repeatedly on a song, it makes me a better improviser. Even if I’m not going for the same line but I’m going for another line, it’s an idea.” Wacky fuzz tones aside, Jon also spent a lot of time selecting the gear he took into the studio for Time On My Hands, as he explains: “The amplifiers were my main ones – there’s a Guytron GT100-FV and the other one is a Bludotone amp, which is a newer one for me, but it’s a beautiful amp, 36 Guitarist October 2012

too. The guitars I used were a Gibson CS-336, which I’ve been using live for years with Steely Dan and others. Also, the Fender Tele must have made it on there, but maybe not as a solo instrument. A quite new Custom Shop Gibson SG is on there and I liked that quite a lot. And also a reissue Goldtop Les Paul: it’s a copy of the 1954 model with P-90 pickups. And that’s one I don’t bring out on the road, because it hums a lot due to the P-90 pickups it has, and that can be a problem.”

Do It Again

Although Jon’s new record shows off aspects of his style that don’t get aired during his work with Steely Dan, his playing on tracks like the sassy blues of I Ain’t Got You is clearly informed by his time with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Rather than being staled by repetition, Jon says his guitar work has thrived during his longterm gig with the duo. “One of the greatest gifts of the Steely Dan gig is that year after year we’re doing the same songs. Just to have, like, 12 years to play Kid Charlemagne… I played it last night and I’m going to play it again tonight with the Dukes Of September [Rhythm Revue, Fagen side-project] here in New York City. I mean, I really have gotten to know that song over the years and it feels freer and freer all the time. It’s the secret to a certain kind of success in a way. “Look at a guy like George Benson, who I’ve always been a serious admirer of. He’s athletic and lyrical and just flawless technically, but never at the expense of the music. And I used to bang my head and go, ‘How does he do that?’ Well, it dawned on me, after many years on the Steely Dan gig, that one of the ways he did it is by having played the same music, basically, with the same kind of guitar, from the time he was a teenager. He plays gigs all the time and he’s been doing that for like 50 years. “That’s what it takes: it’s that kind of focus and that repeated exposure to the same music that gives you that kind of effortless amazing, magical sort of playing.”

Passing Notes Out now: Time On My Hands More info: www.jonherington.com Download: I Ain’t Got You

Herington’sabigfanofsemis,suchastheGibsonES-335andCS-336


Crosby, Stills & Nash

CSN 2012 HHH

“I admire players who manage to get the details right from measure to measure, but also where the whole solo has a certain arc”eJon Herington

CSN Records

Echoes of Woodstock as CSN revisit landmark tracks Filmed in San Luis Obispo, California, CSN 2012 sees the legendary trio return to some of their best-loved material. Watching them deliver a slightly tentative version of Marrakesh Express at the outset of the performance, we wondered if the passing years might have robbed CSN of their ability to generate excitement onstage.We should have known better. Okay, some of the high notes of yesteryear seem hard to reach, and Steven Stills’ work on a sunburst Strat is scrappy at times. But when the trio unite on classics such as Wooden Ships, the effect is still magical. As they return to some of their strongest material, such as the captivating Guinnevere, you’re reminded of what a deep well of musicality these three can draw on when they want to. Graham Nash straps on what looks like a Custom Shop Esquire for much of the evening’s performance, while both Stills and David Crosby rely mainly on vintage Strats for workmanlike riffage. But it’s when they slow the pace for acoustic numbers such as Stills’grizzled cover of Dylan’s Girl From The North Country that they reveal the unity of sound and spirit that has always set them apart from lesser troubadours. [RG] Extras: Double audio CD, band and crew interviews October 2012 Guitarist 37


46 Guitarist October 2012 2011


Cover Feature

http://vault.guitarist.co.uk

Steve Vai’s new solo album, The Story Of Light, is his first in seven years and it’s one of his very best. The ‘little Italian virtuoso’ – as Frank Zappa once dubbed him – gives us a personal account of some of the tracks, revealing technique and recording secrets along the way, before talking Whitesnake, Zappa and life on tour with David Lee Roth…

steve vai cuts an impressive figure as he strides purposefully into our London studio. With trademark shades perched on his angular face and his towering, pencil-thin frame clad in authentic Rodeo Drive rock clobber, he glows with an effortless star wattage. There’s no aloofness, however, as he offers warm handshakes all round, each accompanied by a “Howya doin’?” that still carries the nasal twang of his hometown, New York, even after years residing in California. He plugs one of his touring Ibanez JEM guitars, Flo III, into a rig powered by a Carvin Legacy 3, and proceeds to throw out lick after lick of classic Vai-isms for our exclusive video shoot. It’s truly mesmerising, just as it should be.

WORDS SIMON BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY JOBY SESSIONS October 2012 Guitarist 47


J just about every sound that comes from his guitar reminds us of a point in his illustrious career, be it a gurgle akin to that played during the The Attitude Song from his first solo album, Flex-Able, a grubby David Lee Roth-style riff, or a legato run that resembles a part from Answers, taken from arguably his defining release as a solo artist, Passion And Warfare. What’s more, when witnessing him play up close, it’s plain that he’s become one with the instrument. It almost seems to envelop him from within, and we’re certain he’s not pulling those shapes and facial expressions, usually seen on stages across the world, for our benefit. “I think I got it now,” he says, as he comes back to the here and now with a satisfied smile. Somewhat dazed, we blithely nod and lead him to the green room for a coffee and a chat. Among other things, Steve is here to talk about his new solo album, The Story Of Light, and we begin by asking how he begins what must be an exhaustive process of conception, writing, performance and recording. How do you know when it’s time for a new Vai album? Does a light go on in your head?

“There’s always a light on and it’s always saying, ‘Make a record.’ A lot of times I throw a curtain over it, but that little light 48 Guitarist October 2012

Flo III, Steve’s Fernandes Sustainer-equipped Ibanez JEM, accompanied him to Guitarist’s exclusive photoshoot in London


http://vault.guitarist.co.uk

keeps tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘You know how long it’s going to take; you’d better start thinking about this.’ So, I start thinking about it, and the light goes, ‘You’re thinking about it, but you’re not doing anything about it right now. Hey, I need to be born!’ Then everything else goes to hell and I just focus on the record. “Frankly, that’s when I’m really in my element, and one of the things I’ve discovered for myself through the years is to not get involved in anything else: just make records. It’s such a laborious process that sometimes I procrastinate, but, for me, there’s nothing like it.” You’ve said this record is connected to your previous solo album, 2005’s Real Illusions: Reflections. How so?

“Back before I started Real Illusions, I wanted to do an unconventional concept record. I had a story in mind, something esoteric but entertaining and funny, with deep spiritual stuff, too. It’s all about struggle and redemption, finding yourself, but I wanted to spread it out over a long time. So, the whole thing is called Real Illusions, and the songs aren’t in a linear order. The goal is to have three records, and one song may appear [on the third] that actually happens at the beginning of the story.

Even Flo StevegiveshismainIbanezguitars theirownidiosyncraticnames, thusinstillingintoeachtheirown uniquevibe.Here,heintroduces ustojustoneofthem,FloIII “I don’t bring [the original] Flo out on tour any more because she’s very special, but Evo I take because that’s my favourite guitar. Flo is second and it’s not even that it’s a great player or anything; it just has a vibe and a sound to it. It’s not that easy to play, either, because you have to fight it a bit, but I like that. If something’s too easy to play, I’m actually more sloppy. “This is Flo III, a standard [Ibanez] JEM, and the only thing custom about it is the Sustainer, and there was a period where I wrote a lot of songs using it. Also, it has a new tremolo bar that we’re fooling around with. The original bars are just too small. I needed something with some girth, and Ibanez just sent me about 10 of them; I chose this one. It’s really light, too, but it’s not going to break. I kept breaking whammy bars, and this is made out of some kind of titanium billet.”

SteveVai Cover Feature

“So, The Story Of Light is the second instalment, and the idea is, after the third instalment, to take all the songs and put them in the proper order. I’ll add some songs and some tracks will be narration like a glorified rock opera, although I don’t like using that term because people will always say ‘Oh, like [The Who’s] Tommy?’ No, not like Tommy.” Let’s talk about tracks. What language is the intro narration on The Story Of Light?

“It’s Russian. The main character of the story is named Captain Drake Mason, and he writes this big, thick book called Under It All that’s the story of his redemption and reality, and, in the last scene, he presents this book to all these people in the town. “So, the first chapter is called The Story Of Light and it’s narrated over the song. I didn’t want to use English, so I tried a lot of different languages, but Italian sort of sounds like music, French is a little too romantic and German has a lot of sharp edges. Languages have dynamics to them – Russian was perfect for this application. I thought it worked really well, and you don’t have to know what it means to like it; it sounds like a melody or something.” How did you approach your version of John The Revelator? Rock guitar and ultratraditional gospel are unusual bedfellows.

“I came across the Anthology Of American Folk Music [a collection released in 1952] and I was knocked out by it. No disrespect intended, but I’m not a big fan of white-boy blues; it’s like watered-down Melba toast to me. But when I go back and listen to the guys that were there before the blues – it’s the kind of old Americana from people in the fields who didn’t even know what recording was. [They were] just singing about their lives – you get this feeling that history books can’t really describe. Blind Willie Johnson, who sang this song John The Revelator, completely knocked me over, so I went and got all of his music, and there’s a song of his [Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground] that’s on the Voyager space probe. That’s how profound this guy’s work is. “Once I heard him singing this song, I immediately heard it with all these massive guitars and gospel singers, and I just had to do it. That’s what I wanted more in life than anything else at that point because I couldn’t wait to hear it.”

Beverly McClellan also sings part of the song. How did you find her?

“Right when I’d finished it, I needed the right singer and I didn’t know who. I was hosting this event at The Recording Academy and Beverly took the stage. She was a finalist on a TV show called The Voice – I don’t watch that stuff, really – and totally captivated me. She’s one of the rare singers whose personality has a magnetism, and I thought, ‘That’s my singer.’ I didn’t know if she’d be interested, so I went right backstage to find her, and standing in my dressing room was one of her representatives with a CD for me. Turns out she was a fan of mine, and I was like, ‘Aaah!’ She was very happy to do it and she just ripped it up.” The following track, Book Of The Seven Seals, has obvious similarities with John The Revelator.

“They were originally one song, but I chopped them in half. The thing I really love is the 80-piece choir that I had to put together. For the beginning part, I hired these really cool LA singers, and in the second part it’s all these very white Midwestern Republican types, and there was such a great contrast there. Then there’s me underneath with these downtuned guitars and octave dividers.” After that thick sound is the far sparser Creamsicle Sunset. How did you get that lovely clean guitar tone?

“I used an Eric Johnson Strat directly into a [Fender] Band-Master head; only Strats can get that sound. When you’re learning, you do all these various exercises and one is to learn chord inversions. I used to do this E triad exercise, and one day I had my iPhone out and, for some reason, I played this nice riff based around that. So, I just recorded it and put it away, but when I heard it again it haunted me and I had to do the song. You meditate on it, keep playing it, and you come up with all this great stuff, different vibratos and picking, and every note has its own ZIP code. “That was for the performance, but the whole approach to the melodic content was different. A creamsicle is an East Coast thing, and it’s this really great ice cream made up of orange sherbet and cream that has this unbelievable flavour that’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. Also, have you ever seen a sunset in

“Back before I started Real Illusions, I wanted to do an unconventional concept record… but I wanted to spread it out over a long time. It’s all about struggle and redemption, finding yourself” October 2012 Guitarist 49


SteveVai Cover Feature

http://vault.guitarist.co.uk

Visit Guitarist Vault for an exclusive video of Steve discussing and playing his signature Ibanez JEM http://vault.guitarist.co.uk

“If you think about what you want the music to sound like, what comes out will be something that reflects the way you’re feeling. How could it be anything else?” Hawaii? It’s really different from any place else in the world, the way the sky looks. There’s this exploding orange and cream against the blue, and it looks like a creamsicle.” So, how do you convey something like that in the music?

“One technique I use is to think about what I want the piece of music to feel and sound like, and I create a mental picture of something that will generate an emotion. “It’s a great tool in the creative process. If I sit and think about what a creamsicle tastes like, and what that Hawaiian sunset looks like and concentrate on that, what comes out of you has to be something that reflects the way you’re feeling. How could it be anything else? It’s like one plus one equals two. So, to me, that song sounds like what it would feel like to be sitting on a beach in Hawaii, watching the sunset and eating a creamsicle.” One of our favourite tracks is Mullach a’ tSí, not least because the harp sounds so beautiful with the acoustic guitar…

“Thank you. There are various types of harp, and the one most people are familiar with is the orchestral harp, which has pedals that change the tuning of the strings. Then there are also lever harps, which don’t have pedals but levers that give you a half step. “Deborah Henson[-Conant], who played the part and who’s also in my band, is an expert. She’s going to tour playing harp – wait till you see it! – but I don’t think we’re going to play that song in the first part of the tour, as I didn’t have time to relearn it. 50 Guitarist October 2012

It’s really difficult, and I want that one to be just right. It’s a real meditative headspace to play it and I want to work into it before [I] perform it.” You take the lead vocal on The Moon And I. Do you still enjoy singing or do you secretly dread it?

“I think I’ve gotten a lot better [at singing]. When I was young, I loved singing, and all through grade school I was the kid that got all the solos: I was ready to sing! But when I heard Led Zeppelin, I just wanted to play guitar, I didn’t think it was cool for a guitar player to sing and play. I mean, Hendrix makes it look so natural, but if I could sing and play, I might have a real career! “But I do like singing and I like my voice. When I’m feeling good, there are songs I’ll sing, but I don’t like to do it too much live as it’s a lot of responsibility, especially on something as fragile as the human voice. When it comes time to sing in the studio, there are things I really look forward to, as when you think of the song and the mood of the vocal, you can create a character or plot out how you’re going to approach it. So, when you get in there and you’re able to put yourself into that character trance of being the person who’s one with the lyrics, that’s a beautiful moment, especially for The Moon And I as they have great significance in my life.” We can hear flashes of your old guitar teacher Joe Satriani in Racing The World. Do you ever hear him in your playing?

“Oh, sure. When I started playing the guitar and I was this little 12-year-old kid, he was my guitar teacher for three years

and he was always great. Every time he touched the instrument, music came out, and whenever I watched his fingers on the guitar, they looked beautiful. He showed me riffs, and they were things he was doing, but when you see us play now, although there are things that are similar, our music is really different.” How would you compare your styles?

“A lot of what I do is instrumental rock guitar, and much of it has nothing to do with the formula that Joe uses. Having said that, some of it does, and that formula is very simple: chunky rhythm guitars with melodies on top. I’ve had to go out of my way through the years to not sound like him, actually. The riff for Racing The World wasn’t inspired by anything I know of, I just came up with it. It’s not part of Joe’s musical vocabulary; the melody, though, is very Joe! “You know, there’s stuff I subconsciously rip off from Jeff Beck, because you listen to it your entire life. I remember when Passion And Warfare came out, I did this interview and the guy said that a part in I Would Love To is [Beck’s] Blue Wind, and I was like, ‘What are you talking about? It’s not Blue Wind…’ So, I played it back and I’m like, ‘Oh my God… it’s Blue Wind!’ But what are you gonna do? It’s there.” Finally, the most important question of all: how are the bees?

“The bees are doing great, really good! I have a hive that I just added a bunch of honey supers to, and the garden’s going crazy. I just planted a blueberry bush that I wanted, and that’s going crazy, too!”


PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON LEES

FENDER BLACKTOP TELECASTER BARITONE £598 ELECTRICS

Fender Blacktop Telecaster Baritone £598 This new Mexican-made Fender takes the Telecaster into low-tuned territory via an extended neck and a trio of pickups by Paul Day

E

ssentially halfway between a bass and a standard six-string, a baritone guitar is usually tuned down to A or B below normal pitch. Fender’s Blacktop Telecaster Baritone is a recent addition to the current crop occupying this niche market and, while its roots may be in Fender’s first electric, it’s not just for retro fans, especially in this Ghost Silver finish. The typical Tele headstock carries contemporary tuners, 102 Guitarist November 2012

but tuning is somewhat erratic, and accompanying creaks suggest the nut might need more work. The string guide doesn’t help, lacking any spacer underneath and pulling the top two strings hard down to the headstock, which also makes them difficult to remove. The bolt-on maple neck is longer to accommodate the extended 686mm (27-inch) scale, and although proportions are meatier all round, it manages to maintain a

comfortable handful, with the gloss finish adding a vintage look and feel. The shallow radius 22-fret rosewood fingerboard is equally friendly on the fingers, helping to make light work of the extra reach and heavier strings. The neck may have been stretched, but the alder body stays standard Tele in terms of shape and size. Weight is a fairly hefty 4kg, although waist contouring on the back lightens the familiar chunky lines.

The unusual three-pickup complement comprises Telecaster-type slim single coils in the neck and centre spots, both mounted on a suitably black scratchplate, with a matching, chromecovered bridge humbucker. The metal control plate is inverted, placing the five-way selector below the volume and tone pots. Fender says the pots are topped with black, amp-style knobs, but they’re really more like those seen on some Fender and Gibson guitars in the 70s. The bridge incorporates through-body stringing and six vintage-style bent steel saddles with indented tops that keep strings centred. Careful setting up is necessary to avoid familiar protruding grub-screw problems, and a beefier design might work better with the heavier gauge baritone strings.

Sounds

The three pickups promise a varied sonic menu, although


FENDER BLACKTOP TELECASTER BARITONE £598 ELECTRICS

http://vault.guitarist.co.uk

the aural end results aren’t exactly predictable. The neck single coil sounds smooth and sweet, with plenty of plummy depth. Volume-wise, it’s typically rather polite, but engaging the bridge humbucker instantly increases output. While far from the toppiest of choices, this pickup packs plenty of midrange emphasis and edge for added muscle. It won’t please those expecting Tele-type twang, but works well with gain-induced overdrive, making this more flexible than expected. Pickup switching differs to the stated standard five selections, since the middle position actually provides all three on, not the central single coil only. This somewhat softsounding triple mix is tonally quite similar to the other coil combinations, especially so on a baritone, and a blend of frontplus-back would make a much more effective option. All three of these switch settings have that typically hollow tonality, but none provide abundant treble (which would be useful to improve definition) nor are any of them hum-cancelling.

Fender Blacktop Telecaster Baritone

It’s semi-surprising to see vintage-style saddles here. They work just fine

This new Fender low-ender is a sturdy and classy looker of a guitar that offers a lot for the money

Verdict

A pickup problem with the review sample meant a second had to be supplied, but this suffered from some finish flaws, plus a bridge installed askew, all of which suggests quality control could be more consistent – unusual for modern Fender. Despite these criticisms, this new Fender lowender is a sturdy and classy looker of an instrument that offers a lot for the money. Most baritone guitars can be described as either old-school or modern, with the former

favoured for clean licks and lead lines, while the updated alternatives are usually best for dishing out densely distorted, detuned sounds made for metal, thrash or similarly heavy styles. Some models manage to do both, and, contradicting its traditional body shape, Fender’s Blacktop Telecaster Baritone has this ability, making it well worth consideration by anyone who is seeking a serious but affordable example of this specialised instrument.

PRICE: £598 ORIGIN: Mexico TYPE: Single-cutaway solidbody electric baritone BODY: Alder NECK: Maple, bolt-on SCALE LENGTH: 686mm (27”) NUT/WIDTH: Synthetic/42mm (1.65”) FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, dot position markers, 241mm (9.5”) radius FRETS: 22, medium HARDWARE: 6-saddle bridge with through-body stringing, Fender contemporary-type tuners, chrome-plated STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 54mm (2.13”) ELECTRICS: Two Blacktop Tele single coils, Blacktop Tele humbucker (at bridge), five-way lever pickup selector, master volume and tone controls WEIGHT (kg/lbs): 4/8.8 OPTIONS: No RANGE OPTIONS: No LEFT-HANDERS: No FINISHES: Ghost Silver (as reviewed), Classic Copper or Three-Colour Sunburst (latter adds £48) Fender GBI 01342 331700 www.fender.com

The Bottom Line We like: Looks; playability; versatile performance We dislike: Bridge saddles; pickup selections; some quality-control issues with our review samples Guitarist says: The Tele’s no-nonsense nature combines with some neat design ideas to produce an effective baritone guitar

Test results Build quality Playability Sound Value for money GUITARIST RATING

November 2012 Guitarist 103


FENDER BLACKTOP TELECASTER BARITONE £598 ELECTRICS

Baritone Brigade

More new baritone guitars have appeared since 2000 than in the previous five decades put together. These four current examples show the variety of designs on offer

Schecter Eastwood Gretsch PRS SE Mike Hellcat VI Sidejack Baritone Electromatic G5265 Mushok Baritone £349 Jet Baritone Signature £466 £729

The Sidejack’s styling recreates the lefty look of early-60s Mosrites. This baritone’s glued-in neck has a 710mm (28-inch) scale rosewood fingerboard carrying 22 frets, while the reversed body has a bound-edged and carved top. A pair of P-90-like single coils are mounted in a Mosrite manner, and the curvy scratchplate also mimics this maker. The simple controls are also similar.

104 Guitarist November 2012

This guitar from Gretsch’s budget range sports a 756mm (29.75-inch) scale 22-fret bolt-on maple neck, the Black Sparklefinished body adopts a Gretsch take on Les Paul styling, with a shallower cutaway and larger dimensions. It carries twin mini humbuckers, straightforward circuitry and, somewhat unusually for a baritone, a licensed Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.

The Staind guitarist’s signature SE is PRS’s first baritone. This Korean model has a maple neck, a bound, plain ebony fingerboard with 22 frets and a 702mm (27.7-inch) scale length. The mahogany body has a flat front finished in Silverburst with white binding. Noise comes courtesy of two PRS-designed ’buckers, while the fixed bridge has through-body stringing.

£729

This Korean-made baritone is in its third incarnation. The offsetwaist body stays the same, likewise the 762mm (30-inch) scale bolt-on neck, although the 22-fret fingerboard now comes in rosewood or maple and with position blocks, not dots. Seymour Duncan SJAG-1 single coils replace the previous three mini humbuckers, and the circuitry now includes a Fender Jaguar-style switch panel.

Guitarist  

Guitarist Sampler

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you