Gibson ES-339 Review - How Versatile Is It?

By R. S. Rasnick

The Gibson ES-339 is a semi-hollowbody instrument that is a cross between a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson ES-335. While the ES-335 is admired by guitar players for its rich semihollow tones, its body size is comparable to an archtop guitar and is cumbersome for some. Enter the ES-339, which marries the Les Paul feel with the ES-335 sound.

Let's talk about the construction details, first. The instrument's top and body are laminate (maple & poplar) and the neck is mahogany (rosewood 22 fret fingerboard) with a 30/60 profile. The bridge is the standard Gibson tune-o-matic and stop tailpiece. Kluson tuners are standard, as are '57 Classic Humbuckers and chrome hardware. The instrument also features "Memphis Tone" electronics.

The practical value of the "Memphis Tone" electronics is plain. For starters, when you turn the volume down, the instrument's highs stay seamless throughout the taper. Normally, you lose high end when you decrease a guitar's volume, so this is a welcome add-on. The volume decreases logarithmically, so the volume lessening is real smooth and even, corresponding with the actual volume knob numbers!

Another differentiating feature of the ES-339 is the 30/60 neck, which is a 60's style neck and an extra .030" added to the depth. This particular profile is at once comfortable and orthodox, helping maintain both playability and the semi-hollowbody tone we're all familiar with.

When we strapped on the ES-339, we were pleased at the ease of play and comfort, especially likened to larger semi-hollowbody guitars such as a Gibson ES-335.

All of the sounds of a nice Gibson semi-hollowbody are here, though. We played everything from Eric Clapton to Larry Carlton to B. B. King, and it all sounded great!

Feedback was useful and easy to control when we cranked it up. We just couldn't get a bad sound out of the ES-339. From rock and blues to jazz and country, this is one of the most complete and well-playing guitars we've critiqued in a while.

We particularly dug the "Memphis Tone" feature. Call it what you will, it's no marketing ploy. We truly enjoyed getting different settings out of the volume and tone control settings.

We thought we might have to swap out the Classic Humbuckers for some "real PAF" pickups, but we had no need to do so. Likewise, the 30/60 neck profile was extremely comfortable and made the ES-339 a real delight to play.

If there's something that could be improved about the ES-339, we'd like to know what it is, because we sure as heck couldn't find any faults. If you're looking for a semi-hollowbody guitar that's not just the same old thing, give the Gibson ES-339 a try. You'll be glad you did! - 32370

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Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster Review - The Most Versatile Guitar Ever?

By R. S. Rasnick

Unless you've lived in a box for the past 15 years, you know that Fender has had no deficit of Artist-inspired instruments. One of their earliest offerings is still one of their best, the Eric Clapton model Stratocaster. Though it's had a few refinements over the years, its versatility and quality remain extremely high.

Since most folks shopping for a Clapton model are already informed with the basic Stratocaster features, it's probably best to concentrate on what makes the Clapton Stratocaster different.

Maybe the most fundamental if not most evident difference is the electronics package. Since ol' Slowhand has used a number of instruments throughout his renowned career (including everything from a Gibson SG to a traditional Fender Strat), he needs a guitar than can imitate a variety of different instruments.

Fender has obliged with an amazing amount of sonic versatility in a single guitar. For starters, there's an active mid-boost control (powered by a 9-volt battery).

Coupled with the Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups and the master TBX tone control, this mid-boost affords this guitar unheard of tonal versatility. In fact, the Eric Clapton model Stratocaster is one of the most versatile instruments we've ever played, bar none.

But it doesn't end with the sounds. Clapton selected a V-shaped neck with a 9.5" radius fretboard, and this neck is just plain smooth. While the Clapton model favors blues and classic riffs due to its origins, I would guess that some shredders would find the shape and ease of play preferable as well.

If it seems like we love this instrument, you'd be right. You'll have to explore a long time to find a guitar that has the variety of sounds coupled with the playability that this guitar has.

Still, there are some minor suggestions we could make if Fender was listening. We would value some more modern tuners. Sure, the vintage tuners add to the instrument's charm, but locking tuners would be better for an instrument as innovative as the Clapton Strat.

We also wish that the vibrato unit wasn't blocked. However, that's Clapton's preference, so we don't think it'll change any time soon.

These niggles aside, the Eric Clapton Stratocaster is a world-class guitar and one we commend highly. Go get yours today! - 32370

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Dimebag's Legacy: The Dean Razorback DB Review

By R. S. Rasnick

Metal guitar master Dimebag Darrell partnered with Dean guitars before his unfortunate death to design the ultimate metal guitar. This instrument, known as the Razorback, is as deadly sounding as it is deadly looking. The jagged design makes it clear that this is no old-fashioned instrument!

Dean makes several Razorback guitars to appeal to a wide variety of different budgets. The features and construction of the guitars dictate the cost. Our current review model, the Razorback DB, is perhaps a more budget-oriented instrument, but don't mistake inexpensive with cheap.

The Razorback DB that we explored came in "Classic Black," but you can also get the axe in Metallic White if you want. It has a rosewood fretboard with a fitting razor inlay at the 12th fret and a mahogany body. The Razorback DB also includes Grover tuners, Dean-designed pickups, and a tune-o-matic style bridge.

Regarding the instrument's action, the Razorback DB has low action without much buzzing at all, once we tweaked the bridge and neck slightly. The guitar lends itself to super-fast fretwork. Dimebag would be proud!

The sounds we got from the Razorback DB were very well-suited for metal and shred guitar, great lows and cutting highs. The humbuckers designed by Dean are quite good and won't have you rushing for replacements just yet. It's not the most versatile guitar on the block, though.

That's not really a slam because one look at this guitar, and you know it's not mean to play "How High the Moon." It's a one-trick pony, but that's to be expected. It's quite a good pony, though!

If we have any complaints, it's that the included case doesn't look like it would stand up to heavy usage. The guitar is also pretty dang big, so it's not a guitar you're going to play around the house casually.

However, for the price, it's a pretty serious metal machine and highly recommended for metal and shred guitarists on a budget. - 32370

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The Changes Of Types Of Electric Guitars

By Jake Zertosky

Choosing One of the electric guitars may be difficult. Throughout all genres of music, people know the electric guitar. Musician Gage Brewer in 1932 had given us one of the earliest recorded performances with this instrument and changed music from that point forward. First styles of music that used the electric guitar were the Western and Hawaiian styles. As they were the first to use the electric guitar, they were not the last.

The next genre of music to start using the electric guitar was Jazz. What Gage Brewer did for the music industry, later on George Barnes did for Jazz music. George Barnes played jazz with a hallow guitar. Jazz evolved to Fusion Jazz by the nineteen seventies which was a turning point as guitarist started to use solid body instead.

The creation of distortion with the electric guitar became widely used in what is known as the era of rock. In the mid sixties, bands such as the Yardbirds & Led Zeppelin made some of these sounds by the use of bows for violins and guitar pedals. Eddie Van Halen had even made unique sounds with the use of an electric drill. Over the years and technology updates, these sounds have been created digitally.

If you are interested in purchasing an electric guitar, then you will want to know what kind of guitar it is you are looking for. There are several styles in which to choose from depending on what it is you want to play and how you want it to sound.

A solid body may be one to choose from. Before the steel strings are put on and the guitar is molded and lacquered to it final design, the wood used to make this instrument must be cured by sitting in a heated room for three to six months. Although, a string through-body is similar in design, the basic differences between them is that the strings tie off at the base of the guitar. Both designs use a pick-up to make the sound heard by changing the vibrations into electrical signals.

A semi-acoustic guitar, a lot like the solid body, but has a hallow body. Due to the hallow design, the semi-acoustic guitars pick ups uses the body vibration mixed with the electrical signal. A semi-acoustic guitar can have 1, 2, or no holes in it. These guitars also come in metal. The music that comes from this guitar does not come from the vibration of the strings directly rather it comes from body and the top of the guitar.

Where as electric guitars are typically six string, there are also seven, eight, nine, ten, and twelve string. Other variations of the electric guitar are guitars that have a third bridge and double necks. Double neck guitars are designed to be played as guitar and bass or a twelve string.

When searching for a guitar to purchase, then you will want to shop around as electric guitars can range anywhere from less than a hundred dollars to well into the thousands of dollars. Though you get what you pay for, you will need to research not only what it is you are purchasing but where it has been. Always compare web sites, local dealers, or even pawn shops when searching the different styles of electric guitars. - 32370

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Gibson Les Paul Standard Review - How Does It Stack Up?

By R. S. Rasnick

While you have to careful about picking up your music history from "Guitar Hero," even playing the super-popular video game for five minutes will teach anyone that the Gibson Les Paul is an unavoidable part of rock and roll history. Since its introduction, the characteristic design and sound have been part of the landscape of popular music, especially rock and blues. Though the shape and primary sound have remained the same, Gibson has made slight modifications to the particulars, from neck thickness to pickup selection.

In 2008, Gibson presented a Gibson Les Paul Standard that contained more than its modest share of changes, some welcome and some not. Let's have a look at these revisions.

Here's a rundown on the changes Gibson carried out. The new Les Paul Standard now includes Strap Locks (Dunlop), chambered body, Grover Locking Tuners, TonePros bridge/tailpiece, Neutrick output jack, and a setup via Plek. If you're familiar with Les Pauls, you'll right away observe the lighter weight, due to the chambered body.

You might suppose that the change in the body type could result in loss of sustain or tone, but that's just not the case here. It has a well-balanced, thick tone that you'd expect from a Gibson Les Paul. One thing's for sure, and it's that the light weight will make the instrument much more "gigable," since Les Pauls have been traditionally back-breakers.

Since I normally replace tune-o-matic style bridges with TonePros, the upgraded bridge and tailpiece are a welcome addition, as is the Plek setup, which resulted in a solid playing and sounding instrument right out of the box.

Granted, a minor truss rod adjustment was required, but that's usually the case when you receive a guitar via UPS. Out of the box, the Gibson was pretty much gig-ready, a testimony to both the Plek'd setup as well as the TonePros hardware.

We were also very impressed with the finish, which was a flamed Heritage Cherry Sunburst. Try as we could, we found no troubles in the fit or finish. While a matter of individual preference, we're also appreciative they chose to exclude the pickguard, but it is included should you desire to install it.

For the revised Standard, Gibson chose to incorporate an asymmetrical neck profile, and I applaud their choice. The whole point is to have a thicker bass side with a somewhat thinner treble side, and the playability is greatly improved with this profile design.

It's sort of a cross between a 50's profile and a 60's profile, but in one guitar. We don't know if we should thank Gibson or Plex, but the fretwork was the nicest we've seen from a stock Gibson, as was the setup.

Since the Gibson/Marshall combo is so time-honored, I resolved to test the new Gibson Les Paul Standard with a JCM 800 half-stack. While it's definitely hip, the chambered body does add something of a 335-type sound to the mix. It may or may not be your cup o' tea.

We also liked the Burstbucker pickups, which is saying something because we're used to swapping out replacements immediately. The pickups accentuate the Les Paul's heavy sound, and you can easily grab some distinctive Les Paul sounds here. The Burstbuckers combined with the chambered body is a terrific combination.

For all the things we liked, there were still various changes that we wish hadn't been enacted by Gibson. That includes the locking Neutrik jack. Though Neutrik jacks are very high quality, we just didn't like not being able to pull the cord out instantly.

Same goes for the PCB mounted volume and tone pots. In fact, all pots, the pickups, the selector switch, and the jack are all coupled to a main PCB board via pluggable connectors. While it's cool in a way, it could also greatly impede changing a pot or swapping pickups. We were left scratching our heads on this one.

Still, these concerns are minor. Overall, the new Gibson Les Paul Standard is a superb guitar in many ways, and we sense the spirit of classic Les Pauls here. Gibson also now makes a "Les Paul Traditional" that might appeal to individuals who want a more traditional Les Paul. Obviously, Gibson has something for everyone in their Les Paul series. - 32370

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B. C. Rich Mockingbird Elite Classic Review: The Ultimate Metal Guitar?

By R. S. Rasnick

From 1954 onward (the year of the first Fender Stratocaster), most guitar body shapes have been deviations of the Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster. It's not common for a guitar body shape that varies from these designs to make any significant effect on guitar players who are pretty conservative when it comes to their guitar equipment.

One such luthier who did make a significant impact on the industry with his unique body styles is the late Bernardo Chavez Rico, the founder of B. C. Rich guitars and creator of such memorable guitars as the Warlock and Bich. One of his earliest and most popular models is the B. C. Rich Mockingbird.

Currently, the Mockingbird body shape comes in a variety of versions, including the Masterpiece Mockingbird, the Mockingbird Special, the Mockingbird Special X, the Exotic Classic Mockingbird, the Mockingbird ST, and the Calibre Classic Mockingbird. This review focuses upon our review model, the Exotic Classic.

Current Mockingbird instruments are constructed in Korea to exacting standards, contributing to the guitars' high affordability. While the original Mockingbirds were made by hand in Rico's custom shop, Korean standards have increased to the point where outsourcing the models overseas makes perfect sense. The Mockingbird is still made to very high standards, including neck-through construction, which gives the instruments much greater sustain and tone.

The instrument features an ebony fretboard, which as you would expect lends itself to fast fretwork and is perfectly geared toward the rock and metal player. The 24 jumbo frets were smooth, well-rounded, and polished wonderfully, especially for an imported guitar.

The Rockfield pickups are very nice if you're into classic metal or classic rock and have a creamy, smooth, and well-defined sound. If you desire super high gain from your pickups, you might be in the market for some replacement models (Duncan or Dimarzio), but we found them quite acceptable.

The B. C. Rich Mockingbird has a classic rock look with tones to match. The action and fit are extremely well done, and the stock hardware is solid, though some locking tuners would be a nice addition.

If you want some even more metal sounds, you can opt for the Mockingbird ST, which offers an original Floyd Rose vibrato system. The Exotic Classic, thought, is such a solid hard rock machine that we didn't miss the Floyd Rose one bit, and we recommend the B. C. Rich Mockingbird Exotic Classic without reservation. - 32370

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Information About Caring For Guitars

By Jake Zertosky

A lot of people around the country are own a guitars of some kind. There are some important things that a person needs to think about when it comes to keeping it in the best condition possible. Here we will look at some of those things that should be done.

Keeping them clean and free of dust is something that people should be sure to do on a regular basis. Use a feather duster or a special dusting cloth to get rid of the dust that accumulates in the area of the bridge and underneath the strings. Making sure that a soft item is used for dusting as this can avoid scratches from this form of cleaning from happening.

The strings on the guitar also need to be cleaned from time to time. Dirt and oils that we produce on our hands and fingers will accumulate in these areas. By keeping them clean it will help to keep the deterioration process to a minimum which will extend the length of time that the strings will last.

Now that the dusting is out of the way it is time to take the next step in the process. Now we have to clean the wooden parts of the guitar you own. This can be done with a special dusting cloth as well, but this time the need to gently rub the instrument is what is done. This can bring the look of the finish back to the beautiful state that it had. If not, then apply some type of polish that is designed for wood and the results that you will get will be extreme. Try to avoid the areas of the guitar that do not have a finish on them as the polish can be damaging to areas that are not finished.

Next we look at some common sense things that will help with the care of your instrument. The case that the guitar is held in has a purpose and is designed to be used. The purpose is to provide protection for the instrument from the things that can harm it. This can be dirt, dust, or a variety of other things that can cause damage.

The weather is another issue that can quickly ruin your instrument. Extreme cold or heat can be very damaging to the wood and the strings causing a lot of damage to the guitar that can be severe enough that it can be unable to be fixed. Keeping the instrument in the case can help avoid this as well as keeping the instrument out of these elements when not in use.

The humidity in a room can also play havoc with your guitar. Keeping the level controlled is the easiest way to keep this problem at bay. If the room is comfortable for you, then chances are that it will be ok for the guitar as well.

Many times we find that the damage to the instrument is far more severe then we originally think. This is when a professional will need to be consulted to assess the situation. They can inform you to what will need to be done to get the guitar back into the shape you desire it to be in. This can be quite costly at times.

Use the internet to help you find other information about caring for your guitar. There are many web sites that are dedicated to this and can be the source of even further information for you to look into. This can help you when it comes to ensuring that the instrument that you cherish has the longest life possible. - 32370

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