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About: Guitars

Along with the piano, the guitar is the world's most played instrument because it combines rhythmic and harmonic richness while remaining relatively affordable… and transportable. Whether acoustic, electric or acoustic-electric, the guitar essentially consists of a fretted neck and a body (or resonance table), over which 6 to 12 strings are stretched, that are plucked to produce sound.

Reviews Guitar


iSolo Acoustic Guitar Microphone Review

Lone pleasure If you are in the audio world you have surely noticed how crowdfunding campaigns have multiplied in recent years. Everyday there are news stories about "groundbreaking" products on platforms like KissKissBankBank and Indiegogo. This tendency seems to only be going up, so we decided to test ride some of the products being crowdfunded. The first one is the iSolo, a microphone system for acoustic guitar that seems particularly comprehensive and customizable. read more…

A review of the Keeley Mod Workstation pedal

Mod About You At this year’s NAMM show, Keeley Electronics showed off their new Workstation line of pedals, which combine the functionality of several Keeley pedals in one. Although recently released, the pedals are in short supply, but we were fortunate enough to get our hands on the Mod Workstation. It’s an analog multi-effects pedal with three independent effect sections: Mod, featuring eight different modulation effects; Drive, with two varieties of overdrive, and Drive/Boost, which offers clean boost or a third flavor of overdrive, and all three sections can be run together. read more…

Review of the Electro-Harmonix Lester G Deluxe Rotary Speaker pedal

Spin Doctor One of the new pedals Electro-Harmonix debuted the 2016 NAMM show was a Leslie-speaker simulator called Lester G. Not only does it offer rotating speaker sounds, but also an overdrive circuit and a compressor. read more…

User reviews on Guitar products

Fantastic Cleans and Gritty Rock (Eastwood Guitars - Classic AC)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 11/10/2019
The Classic AC has a 24.75-inch scale length, and a chambered mahogany body with a flamed maple top (it comes in natural and green, whereas the model I’m reviewing is natural). The top is natural with white edge binding (and three black pinstripes), whereas the sides and back are transparent cherry. The Classic AC has a mahogany set neck design, a zero fret (set above the other frets to reduce buzz), a 1-5/8” nut, and a rosewood fingerboard with unique Shark’s Teeth inlays. The bridge is an adjustable Tune-O-Matic wrap around, which matches the Gotoh style nickel/chrome hardware. The pickups are two EW-Retro (Eastwood) Humbuckers, controlled by 1 tone and two volume knobs (one for the bridge and one for the neck) and a three-way switch (bridge, bridge + neck, neck). It comes stock with #10-#46 strings, whereas a gig-bag or case is extra.

Sometimes you never know what you’re going to get when you order a guitar. Often guitars are purchased based on looks, or maybe a demo video (although you never know what gear and caliber of gear the guitarist is using… and a highly skilled guitarist can make just about anything sound good). Eastwood’s Classic AC definitely was not a let-down. Although it sounded just fine with different gear, I used The Sheriff V4 preamp in the demo as it has a Plexi-sound (and Malcom Young used a Marshall Plexi). Both the guitar and amp responded well together, and although I didn’t play any AC/DC riffs (for copyright reasons), the tone was unmistakable. On the bridge pickup there as some very well-defined raunchy grain that was very responsive to playing. The neck pickup lacked any mud or boom, which I like, and the notes were well-defined. What really surprised me is when I blended the two pickups, particularly with the bridge volume up high and the neck pickup only high enough to be added in the mix. The result was the same raunchy grain, but with added thickness, heaviness (bottom end) and balls.

The guitar’s action is relatively low and the string bend easily (even on the highest frets, which is not always the case with higher priced guitars). The entire body (and back of neck) has a quality gloss shine without any perceivable flaws. There does not seem to be any flaws in the binding and there are no visible rough edges or cracks around the pickups. There are no rough edges to the frets (all appear to have a slight bevel for smoothness) and the neck binding (with side dots) appears to be well done. The headstock, and its binding, also is of good quality. The one minor flaw is the sharks tooth inlay at fret 17 – when bending the lowest strings you can feel a slight edge of that inlay, although not sharp or uncomfortable.

Reliability & Durability
For a guitar made in China, and a selling price under $600 USD, I would place this guitar with others in its price category. It plays well and sounds excellent – perhaps being a consideration for those wanting a Malcom Young tribute guitar of pretty decent quality or those looking to spend within that price point while looking toward Yamaha or other such budget-minded guitars. The electronics are quiet and the knobs/tone pots have a very solid and smooth feel. Overall, it does not play or sound like a cheap guitar. To the trained eye it may not hold up as well (e.g., binding and inlays) as a custom Les Paul, or the original Young guitar by Gretsch, but I’m very content with its quality and sound based on the price and proves you can get a darn decent guitar made in China (if the standards are in place).

Overall Impression
Certainly you can play some good sounding lead on this guitar, since the pickups are hot enough, but for classic Rock rhythm this is one of the best sounding guitars I’ve heard and is so ‘AC/DC’ when plugged into a Plexi-style amp. Although this guitar was inspired by the Gretsch model played by Malcom Young, a vital component to the band’s sound, Eastwood simplified the controls to mimic its Classic 6 model, and definitely headed in the right direction with its Retro Humbuckers for that defined and grainy classic rock response as individual notes ring clearly without mud. The looks of the pickups, natural wood color and headstock design may appear ‘classic’ as well, but the unique Sharks Teeth inlay lends itself to a modern vibe. Somehow it all works. The knobs are easy to control, with knurled edging and the neck pickup’s volume knob sitting on the lower horn (for easy access without bumping into the wrong control, viz., as opposed to having the two volume knobs sitting next to each other). The neck is neither thick nor thin, but a soft C (maybe a D) – enough meat for larger hands, but far from cumbersome for those with small hands.

Hamer Califonian Elite (Hamer - Californian USA)

By Oliver Hock, 14/10/2019
My guitar is a Californian Elite from 1991. Ebony board with boomerang inlays, optional solid two-piece curly maple body, and factory EMG's with push/pull knob for coil split. It also came factory with a tone knob. The previous owner had Dimarzio cliplocks installed, I switched to Schaller straplocks, other than that it is still original. The old USA Hamer are quality craftmanship, they offered lots of custom options then, but with those options, these guitars did cost some dollars back then. Though it is made of maple, and maple is known as a heavy wood, it doesn't weigh more than a regular Strat. Well balanced, not neck heavy at all. The neck feels ultra thin, this is the standard thin neck profile Hamer used from 1990 on, they had a meatier neck profile before. With that deep cutaway it is easy to reach upper frets, but don't expect lots of sustain in the highest fretted notes, these are for short precise notes. Well, I am not a "shredder", so I don't use those high notes a lot, I did record some classical pieces at home and there I could make use of the higher frets. The hardware is Hamer-branded Schaller FR II and M6 mini, the locking nut is drilled from above. Now to the electronics, the Californian comes with single coil in the neck/humbucker in the bridge position. In the 90's Seymour Duncan were standard by Hamer,EMG's were offered as a custom option then, and EMG's are what have been used on my guitar. In the neck position is an EMG SA pickup. Well, it is in the neck position, but compared to a Strat it is actually positioned between the neck and the middle pickup of a Strat, and it is slanted. The EMG is actually not a single coil pickup, but a stacked humbucker. It uses an alnico magnet bar. The sound is clean and clear, not unlike a real single coil, but it sounds different than a true Fender Strat single coil. They don't hum and are noise-free. EMG's have many critics say that they sound sterile with lack of character and while I know what they mean, they still sound good. Give a listen to Steve Lukather's guitar tone in "Talk to ya Later" to hear EMG SA in clean mode and decide for yourself if they sound sterile. The humbucker in bridge position is an EMG 89, which is actually a 81 and a SA in one housing. The 81 is EMG's high output pickup, and so is the 89. In "humbucker" mode with volume on full there is no clean signal, the pickup will definitely distort. It is by far not a vintage sounding humbucker, it is quite fat sounding with strong high mids. This pickup in "H" mode sounds best with gain sounds. I liked it in clean mode combined with a wah pedal (Dunlop GCB95). Of course, with the push/pull pot you're able to "tame" the 89 and switch it to SA mode. In SA mode? But the SA is also a stacked humbucker. Yes, in fact the 89 is 3 coils, so you switch from humbucker mode to stacked humbucker mode. And this is also hum-free, nifty, huh? With it's strong upper midrange the guitar fits well into the band mix. It never sounds too thin. The amps I used it with are a Fender Prosonic combo, a Marshall 6100 (EL34) with JCM900 1960 cab (G12-75), a Marshall 6101 (5881) with Celestion Gold S-303 speaker and a Mesa Boogie Mark V:35 head with 1x12" Thiele cab (Celestion C90).

Unusual Gibson (Gibson - Rd Artist)

By Oliver Hock, 14/10/2019
My guitar is a Gibson RD Artist in natural, made in 1978. I bought it used almost 25 years later, it is still in all original condition except for the Schaller straplocks. I think the features of this guitar are well-known by now. Active MOOG electronics with bright/compressor/limiter switch, bass and treble boost/cut. All maple construction, mine is the early version with the Fender-style 25.5" scale. This guitar can sound from tinny-bright to deep. I guess it may work well for some fast country picking. I think with some bass boost and bright switch it can produce jazzy sounds very nicely. As for distortion sounds, this guitar sounds best when keeping the electronics on zero. The gain sound definitely don't benefit from the electronics. Jimmy Page used this guitar on one song on their performance in Knebworth 1979, seems he didn't know how to handle the electronics (you can see a clip of it on YouTube). Also Steve Howe used an ES Artist which has the same electronics as the RD. I think this guitar is well in hands of fast pickers, Tele-players, jazz players who like to use guitars like the Gibson L-5S. It is also well for clean funky riffs. The neck can become sticky with sweaty hands. I think it looks like a great rock guitar, but I think it isn't. Maybe the 2018 RD Artist edition is more of a rock guitar, as it is all mahogany construction, 24.75" scale and without the Moog electronics (which I happen to like, though it sounds dated), yet newer active electronics. It is neck heavy the weight is moderate (which I can't say for the RD Artist Bass that I also own, that thing is heavy!).

News Guitar

Empress Effects releases Reverb stompbox

Published on 05/31/16
Empress Effects has announced their Reverb pedal has started shipping, and requests customer inputs for next feature to be added in a free update.

Feature Articles Guitar

The best brands for acoustic folk guitars

Published on 07/14/17
The best brands for acoustic folk guitars
Today is the turn to list the top brands for acoustic guitars. Indeed, after having done the same with electric guitars, we decided to let acoustic guitar players express their opinion.

The ultimate guide to audio recording - Part 78

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