Category: Gear

American metal brothers

Digging through some boxes I found these gems at the bottom. The original American Metal (on the right) FX-59 was given to me for free from an eBay seller that I bought a 90’s Rat from. The Super American Metal was mine from when I was younger. I picked it up used when I was 15 since I wanted to get that “Justice for all” sound. It nailed that mid scooped, overly bassy sound perfectly.

Mastery Setup

I am super excited to get my JP Jazzmaster dialed in and back to shredding. Over the last 3 years this has been my primary player and I have had nothing but issues with the setup. My buddy Timbo even did an amazing setup on it but it soon fell out of place.. It all comes down to using the vibrato and everything goes to hell. I am no Kevin Shields or Thurston Moore but I love to use my vibrato from time to time. The more people I talked to on OffsetForums and Reddit, they all seem to steer me towards the Mastery setup.. so here I am. All I need to do is put some flat wound 12’s on it and I will be happy again.

What I ordered:

  • M2 – Mastery Bridge
  • OMV (Offset Vibrato)
  • MVAT-S (Machined arm tip)
  • MST (Machined String Tree)

Before:

After:

NPD: Keeley Effects Loomer

So what is this and why does it exist?

This is a pedal by Keeley to nail some of the more notable shoegaze/dreampop tones. From a wall of fuzz (Big Muff Style) to 3 distinctive types of reverb.

Is this a “My Bloody Valentine in a box” pedal?

Not really. This can get you close to the sound to some degree. You have to realize, Kevin Shield’s sound is not from one specific pedal (he has MANY on his multiple boards) but a combination of pedals/rack gear, tone shaping and shear volume. This being said, its great to dime the fuzz and put it on reverse reverb and strum away and get a nice wall of sound and look at the floor and pretend your Kevin.

What I like about it:

The Fuzz side has some great tone controls (Flat, Full & Scooped) and can get a nice array of BMP fuzz tones. The focus reverb setting is really unique with its reverb being very dense and 2 very short delays in parallel (one set for 250ms, the other set for 380ms). The reverse setting is something you don’t find often in a pedal form, It is mostly in rack effects. The reverse is based on the Yamaha SPX90 which was/is known to be used by Kevin Shields. The modulated/pitch bend in the reverse mode is really fun to play with and does not feel gimmicky at all.

What I’m not crazy about:

I wish there was a way to switch the effect order so I can do the reverb side into the fuzz side. Not else really jumps out about this pedal.

Conclusion:

The fuzz side of things, I did have a good time with the built in fuzz but I found that the reverb settings can take other pedals with no problems. I really like using my Fuzz Factory clone into the reverse setting.

I have a Yamaha SPX90 that I got from a pawn shop on its way and I will love to put it through its paces to see its a better option for the reverse effect or can this pedal accomplish that need. For now, this pedal scratches the tone itch I was after and will minimize the amount of gear needed to achieve that tone.

NPD: Ditto X4 Looper

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I am not new to loopers by any means but, i never had a looper that allowed me to record/loop so much. I started with a DL4 years ago and had a blast with that but then upgraded to a Strymon Timeline. The 20 second limit was never a real problem since I alway did 4 to 8 bar loops. It wasn’t long that I really wanted to have something more, like more parts/phrases and more control. My father picked up the original Ditto when it was released and fell in love with it. He would take advantage of the full 5 minutes it would let you record and loop. I was amazed by the recording quality and how they packaged all that madness in a small package (Hammond 1590A sized).The only downside I found was having to control all these neat functions with one foot switch. I na-sayed it for some time until I saw they X4 announced. It looked like exactly what I wanted BUT.. it still had multiple controls on single footswitches. I decided that, like my Strymon Timeline, it will just take a little time and messing with to get used to it.

I love that fact that you can have 2 independent loops playing (like having 2 ditto pedals playing at the same time in sync) or I can have one loop playing at a time and go back in forth in time. Having the ability to use MIDI to sync a clock to is also exciting and I can use my Strymon pedals to set the master clock or even my Macbook with Logic. The ability to save your loops as WAVs and transfer to a PC VIA USB is amazing also. Also able to add WAV loops as a backtrack to play against.

I have a total of 1 hour play with this thing so far and I am really liking it.

Roland Space Echo Service

RSE-201 Service Done

I spent some time this weekend doing a service check on my much loved Roland RE-201. Here are some of the things I did to it during the process.

  • Removed any dirt/dust from inside: I used a small shop vacuum to remove dust from inside the enclosure. It was actually very clean inside.
  • Cleaned all pots, switches and jacks: I used DetoxIT Fader F5 for all the pots and switches and used some 1000 grit sand paper on all the jack contacts.
  • Replace burned out VU lamp: This is pretty common over the years and is really easy to do. I had a green lamp that I soldered in and its good as new.
  • Restore/Clean rubber roller: I used CaiKleen RBR Liquid to clean and restore the rubber pinch roller. Mine seems to be in good shape. No need to replace it at this point.
  • Reverb tank: I cleaned and tested the RCA jacks on the reverb tank to make sure they had good continuity and were grounded properly.
  • Demagnetized heads: I got to use my trusty Nakamichi DM-10 tape head demagnetizer. Always fun to use such an outdated piece of technology in this day and age.
  • New tape: Topped off the servicing with a brand new 1/4″ tape loop I got from Analogman a few years back.

Whats left to do?
I would love to replace all the felt on the tape guides. I will order the felt and work on that in a few weeks.

Pictures:

RSE-201 Service

RSE-201 Service Pots

RSE-201 LampRSE-201 Lamp done

 

68′ Fender Princeton Reverb Custom

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I have wanted a nice smaller sized amp to use around the house and at friends houses instead of hauling around my Twin Reverb for some time. I was looking at Vox’s and my attention was turned to the Fender Princeton series by Timbo and other members over at Madbean Forums. They were considerably more expensive but had a lot better reviews and seem to be more consistent in what sound I was going for. I headed over to Guitar Center and tried a few out and really liked the overall sound of the 68′ Custom. With a visit to Sweetwater.com and 6 days for shipping I was in Buisness. I sold an extra Bassman head I had to fund this purchase and could not be happier.

I first tried the amp out with my late 80’s Epiphone Riviera with humbuckers and it sounded so fat. Had great sounding low end and not piercing highs. I then gave my Partscaster a go with its single coils and it nailed that classic Fender classic amp/strat sound perfectly. I decided to toss a few effects at it and it did not skip a beat. I tossed a 1776 Effects Multiples delay on it with a Madbean La Vache and they sounded great. I look forward to breaking the speaker in some and turning this amp into a daily player for sure.

Partscaster almost done

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I got this Squier Classic Vibe body I got in a trade and have been sitting on it a few weeks. The neck is the matching Classic vibe neck I picked up cheap and it got here today. Just finished putting this together and setting it up (which I am still learning how) and I love this thing so far. I went to Guitar Center yesterday and played a few American and Mexican strats since I wanted a baseline for the setup and I wanted something to compare it to. This thing blows a Mexican Strat out of the water with its build quality and over all sound but I still love the necks on an American Strat.

What I like:

  • The finish is great looking and the gold anodized pickguard is the standard official Fender 50’s 8-hole sold on the Fender store (Item# 0992143000)
  • The neck does not feel cheap and soft/flimsy.
  • The guitar is a nice weight and definitely feels solid. This is one of the things I love about the Squier Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified series, the weight of the guitars.
  • The stock pickups do not sound bad at all. Pretty easy to dial in that “Strat” sound. They do seem to lack some of the low end I’m used to with my Jaguar (Might be the tone cap).

Not fond of:

  • The bridge feels like pot metal and not a “long term” part. This and the saddles have to be changed out ASAP.
  • If the tone cap replacement does not help the low end, I will be replacing the pickups with either some GFS or Tonerider pickups.
  • Not a fan of the antique white knobs and pickup covers against the olympic white body. I will replace it all with white plastics.

Looking forward to making this a very playable guitar and learning about properly setting up a guitar along the way. There are some great resources for the Squier series guitars and lately I have been trolling the Strat-Talk forums Squire section.

What things am I looking at changing?

All in all I am only $160 dollars invested in this guitar so far. I do not mind sending some money on it to turn it into a “daily player” by any means. Remember, a Mexican Fender 50’s Classic series Strat goes for about $799 retail.

New strap for the SG

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My wife ordered me a new Couch strap for my Gibson SG and I think she picked out a perfect one. I was very surprised when it showed up today as I was not expecting it yet. I simply love the quality of Couch straps and they are so comfortable.

Time for new knobs and truss rod cover.

NGD: My Gibson SG is here

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Got my new Gibson SG from Sweetwater today. This thing is really fun to play and setup surprisingly well from the factory. Now I’m off to the work bench to finish my Marshall Plexi pedal and these will be a perfect match.

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