Fender Road Worn Stratocaster and Telecaster

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Blog, Guitars | 0 comments

I’m a huge fan of Fender guitars in general and there’s a good reason for that. Actually, there’s all the reasons. Who ISN’T a fan of Fender guitars? Their classic designs are responsible for a ridiculous percentage of all our favorite tones on all our favorite albums- but you know all this already. Fine. So why even interject my thoughts on them? I really could just tell you that I use strats and teles on the road and in the studio all the time. No one would really need me to justify that. However, I think it’s worth mentioning particular models I like and why since they do have a gigantic product line. I have owned a bunch of different Fenders over the years. My first guitar was an early 90’s Mexi standard strat that absolutely ruled for its incredibly meager price. That’s one of my favorite things about the Fender company. You can go into any guitar store and grab a US or Mexi standard strat for a reasonable and affordable price and it will be great. Sure, you may find you want to change some things on it but that’s part of the beauty of Leo’s design. Easily changeable parts make for an easily customizable guitar to its owner and also for easy repairs and thus a damned near infinite life-span on the cheap. I’ve changed things out on a lot of my Fenders over the years. For THIS review, I’m concentrating on my Road Worn guitars. I own (and use constantly) a Road Worn 50’s Tele and a Road Worn Player Strat HSS. I got my tele first a couple of years back and immediately loved it. It’s good wood with a real nitro finish and solid hardware in a fantastic price range. What more do you need? I DID do a couple mods to it right off the bat but they were easy to do. I need it to be said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it right out of the factory- I’m just a picky fella. First off, I like black pickguards on blonde teles so that went on. Secondly, I’m a stickler for the sound of brass saddles so I just changed out the whole bridge to a US tele bridge. While I was in there, I dropped in a set of Fralin blues special pickups (and rewired it old school with a CTS switch and pots). They are my all-time favorite tele pickups and they absolutely kill in this guitar. Truth be told, years later I bought a late 90’s US ’52 reissue tele just because it came up for a great price. It was dead sexy and felt great but the road worn blew it completely out of the water. It was no contest. It wasn’t even close. The road worn was light and open and airy and had...

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Paul Reed Smith Mira 25th Anniversary Soapbar

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Blog, Guitars | 0 comments

This is the second in the growing list of PRS guitars that I love but let’s make no bones about it- this guitar is a Les Paul Special double cutaway only way better. I don’t know how the legal stuff works in the gear world and I doubt I ever will. I don’t know which design elements of a guitar you can copy and which you can’t but Gibson has always seemed to be one of the most aggressive companies out there in attacking copyright infringement so something about the Mira must be on the level. It’s not like PRS is based overseas and skirting the laws here- this model was built in the good old US of A. Normally, I’m bothered by copycats but in the case of Gibson, I’m all for it. I make no attempt to keep my opinion of their guitars a secret- they originated nearly all of my favorite guitar designs ever but in the last 20 years, their quality has plummeted while their price has skyrocketed. Frankly, I now love to see other companies building guitars that are, in many main elements, copies but with a quality level twice Gibson’s custom shop at half Gibson’s price. If Gibson’s not going to build killer versions of their classic designs at an affordable price like they used to do, then somebody else should and PRS is the perfect candidate. Otherwise, Gibson’s just a half-dead old man holding those awesome copyrights hostage from the music world. There. Rant over. So- let’s talk about the Mira. Like the Starla and so many other PRS models, this thing is an absolute pleasure to play. Light-weight, well balanced, great neck, great finish, and excellent fretwork. I find I can play it for far longer periods of time than other guitars of mine with no hand fatigue (something that becomes more of an issue for me the older I get, sadly…) I haven’t directly compared the body shape to an LP Jr double-cut but it feels dead on. Even the neck joint looks and feels right to me. The body might be a touch thinner but it’s probably just an illusion caused by the very comfortable bevel around the edge of the top that is a definite departure from the blocky body shape of its Gibson counterpart. It’s got the same 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way switch controls that I’m used to and a single wrap-around tailpiece bridge. Aaaaand, let’s talk about that bridge for a minute because I love it. I don’t know what they make theirs out of but it’s very light-weight and resonant. And in STARK contrast to my 2001 Gibson Les Paul Junior, the bridge on my Mira is dead-freaking-on in its intonation compensation and placed correctly on the body for overall adjustment. I’ve found that Paul Reed Smith’s hardware is like the Apple of guitar...

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Taylor GS7

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Blog, Guitars | 0 comments

My take on this thing is going to have some serious similarities to my review of my PRS Starla. My experience with Taylor guitars has been of much the same sort. For many years I saw the guitars around and had the same reaction- excellent build quality and plays like a dream but both the sound and the look is too shiny and modern. They just didn’t sound or look as good to me as the old Gibsons, Martins, and Guilds that I’d heard for years and based my palette around (side note though- frankly the Gibsons and Martins that I’ve heard in the last 20 years don’t look or sound anywhere near as good as their ancestors either so there’s that and also- in recent years I’ve come to respect their more modern sound as I’ve noticed what acoustic sounds sit best in modern music tracks.) Anyway- on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to take a closer look at their product line and give them a real chance. I quickly realized a few things about them that had turned me off personally and were the reasons I thought I wasn’t into Taylors. Here’s what I found. First off- I really hate cutaways. I just think they’re ugly almost all the time and that’s just me. I realize that that’s completely personal preference but I just can’t seem to get past it on acoustic guitars. Taylor clearly offers a ton of cutaway models but I have found now that they have a ton without as well. Secondly- I found that they have a ton of models with a combination of specs that I find accentuate the modern punch and brightness that I’m not crazy about. Those features being a dreadnought size with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides. It’s killer if that’s your thing but if it’s not, there are a lot of other options that cover other ranges. For me- I leaned towards the larger body sizes (specifically the Grand Symphony, though they have an even larger Grand Orchestra now that I’m excited to hear). It adds bass and midrange that balances the guitar to my ear. Also, a cedar top takes off even more high end and makes the guitar sound better to me. The GS7 I wound up choosing is an inch or so shorter and narrower than the classic jumbo models I love (Gibson J-200, Guild F-30, etc.) but it reminds me of them very much in feel and sound. Only negatives I can mention are 1) that I’m not wild about the gold hardware and 2) it’s a little bit neck heavy. Seriously. That’s about it. It’s a great guitar. I got mine without electronics in it and installed a K&K Pure Mini in it myself. I absolutely love that pickup and it’s killer in the...

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Paul Reed Smith Starla

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Blog, Guitars | 0 comments

My in-depth experience with Paul Reed Smith guitars is only fairly recent. I have to come clean and admit that for years I always considered the brand synonymous with bands like Creed, or with fusion-heads who like their guitars finished to look like a bowling ball (a la the Al DiMeola prism model). There’s certainly nothing wrong with any of those tastes or styles but they’re DEFINITELY not mine. That aside, I can also say that I’ve always considered their build quality and attention to detail to be excellent. So- fast forward to this past year and the brand has come to my attention again. I can’t say for sure whether they’ve had models all along that would’ve been so killer for me and I was too oblivious to see them or whether the stuff I love has only been recently introduced but PRS is now making a bunch of gear that I think is absolutely awesome. Enter the Starla. Mahogany, set neck construction, great feeling neck and frets, classic finish, classic abr bridge, and a bigsby. Man, oh man, do I love a bigsby. The extra string length behind the bridge adds overtones that I am all about. I realize that a lot of people like a more focused sound but THEY’RE WRONG. Just kidding, well, sorta. I really like the focused punch on Les Paul’s and Tele’s but that’s not this instrument. It doesn’t sound anything like those guitars. What THIS guitar basically does is everything that I ever wanted my SG to do- only it does it way better. Now my only downsides on the guitar. I am really not wild about the stock Starla pickups. In conjunction with the stock wiring, I will admit that they have the PRS hallmark of wide versatility and nearly hi-fi spectrum but that’s just not my wheelhouse. I got my Starla with a set of PRS’ new 57/08TM pickups and classic 500K volume/tone pots with no coil tap or any other funny business. I think that is absolutely the way to go with this guitar. Those pickups have a very vintage Gibson-y tone but with a little more power and punch that you need in an all mahogany guitar that is inherently dark and sometimes muddy. I’d liken them to a hotter set of ’57 classics if you need a tone reference. Beyond the pickups, I did find I needed to pop a roller bridge on it for tuning stability and I got my guitar made with the more standard, non-locking tuners. Also, it took me a while to warm up to the bird inlays but I dig them now. They’re very beautifully done and I like that it’s Paul’s tribute to his mom. What a good son. Side note that’s good and bad in one fell swoop. It’s a 24.5″ scale. That’s the shortest scale guitar I’ve ever...

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