Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Valve amps VS Solid State amps. Let the fight begin!

To first get into the subject, here is some basic background information.

Since the dawn of the almighty electric guitar, valve amps have been present throughout,  where as solid state amps were introduced in around 1970. Primarily, the distortion sound from valves were not wanted when the amp was cranked up, which is why someone designed solid state amps which runs much cleaner in higher volumes. For years, guitar enthusiasts have argued over which is best. Both have advantages and advantages in all areas.

1) The first round, will be about value for money. If you have £300 pounds budget for an amp, and need an amp with enough power to compete with a drummer at a gig, a solid state amp has your back. You'll most likely get a channel switching, built-in effects and a good range of tones in a package that won't put a permanent curve in your spine, along with good headroom.

In the case of valves,  £300 may buy you a fine five watt amp, (which is very loud for 5 watts) like the blackstar HT-5 which is what I have, or a Marshall class 5. You're not going to get a fire-breathing gig monster, but the amp will be easy to crank into harmonic distortion overdrive (will talk more about this later), and it is easily miked up if you have the extra gear.

Who wins this round? Up to you, and your budget!

2) The second round, will be about consistency and reliability. Solid state amps are often lighter, do not run as hot, and sound pretty much the same (tone wise) at any volume, apart from when it is cranked to the very max. Valves on the other hand, run hot, are heavier and the valves are vunerable to breaking if dropped. On saying this,  I know many people who have had valve amps for over 10 years with the original valves still in. Myself? I have had my blackstar HT-5 for 3 years, with no faults. My solid state amps (line 6 and fender) have only had minot faults.

Who wins this round? I'd say it's a tie.

3) This round goes to pure tone! This is where valve lands the sucker punch. When valve amps distort into overdrive, they distort harmonically (twice) which gives the sound and tone a feel of natural warmth and crunch. Also the bass mid range frequences generally sound clearer always triumphs over the tinny sound from solid states. On saying this, there are plenty of decent solid states that still sound quite good, such as the Randalls, which are hybrid amps, which combine the technology of both, using "mosfet" tubes.

Unless you're using pure clean tones, (buy a fender if so), valve amps will generally always sound nicer.

In conclusion, most guitars agree that if money was no object, a backline of valve amps would be their choice. Many heroes such as Slash, Paul Weller, Dimebag Darrel (rip, and yes he endorsed valves in 2004 before he died),  Brian may, and the beatler used and preffered valves. And even so, many solid state amps try to base their sound around classic valve amps. Still, in the end, the ref's final word counts for nothing.

Go down to your local shop, try many different amps! I hope this review helped, any questions will gladly be answered.

 Amps used-

Blacstar HT-5
Line 6 spider IV 75watt
Fender frontman 15R
Marshall JVM 215C
Vox AC30

P.s - Who knows? Maybe in the future we'll be arguing Solid state VS Valves VS Digital? But hey, that's a fight for another day.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Hey guys, sorry (again) about not posting lately, I will be doing reviews on the following things!!

- Asus monitor vh242h 24" widescreen HD

- Home made/built computers. advantages and disadvantages

- Guitar picks, what sizes and which to use and opinions.

-Headphones vs earphones

-Valve amps vs digital amps

I hope you'll enjoy them when I eventually write them :)

Happy blogging.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Gaming and other things.

So recently I've been playing my guitar as usual, but also got quite into gaming, usually in the late hours at night when I can't sleep and don't have the energy to rock out, and per sides I wouldn't want to wake the neighbors.

I'm absoloutly shocked by the quality of graphics in full HD and the modern games are so well thought through and entertaining.

So my question is, what do you do before you go to bed? And if you do game, what console an games, or what do you like about gaming?

Sorry about such a short blog, I will be writing more reviews and ideas about music soon, anyone have any requests for topics?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Great news! My local guitar shop moved to a bigger store, it's simply amazing! The layout is great and spacious and there is loads of room for testing :)

Just remember to support your local store, instead of buying off the Internet or from official shops such as "banks" or "gak".

The reason for this? Well firstly, they're more likely to give you an honest opinion about a product, and suggest other alternatives, secondly, if you're lucky, the store may give you a discount as they would rather sell to you than not sell at all. For example, I bought my Jackson rr3 for £600 when it was supposed to be £750! Also you could haggle a good £5 off a tuner or cable!

Thoughts & Opinions?

May put pics of the new store up sometime :)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

String Gauges And Tips

Greetings! Today I am going to be doing a small blog about, String Gauges! Tada!

Basically, string gauges is the thickness of your strings, and depending on the thickness can change the tone and style of playing.

The thicker the string, the fatter the tone tends to be, whilst the thinner the string, the tone tends to be more treble orientated. In addition to this, thin strings are often easier to play faster on, and are easier to bend as there is less tension (unless of course you have gigantic hands). For people who are into drop tunings, thicker strings are recommended as it will provide a better fatter tone for those drop D or drop C power chords, as well as not buzzing against frets as the strings aren't slack, however some people find thicker strings are hard to bend.

Remember, there is no right or wrong string gauge or brand! Everyone has individual tastes and styles, so mess about with different pairs to find yours. Just be sure to not harm your guitar when changing from extremely thick strings to thin, ( from say 9's to 13's) as it may cause harmful tension in the neck. Also, if you have a floyd rose, putting a different thickness on will cause the bridge to change from its floating position, so be you are experienced enough to alter it to its original state if you do.

As well as string gauges, string brand can make a difference too, personally at the minute I am using the Dunlop Heavy Core (pictured) strings, where the top string is a string higher to the others, so for example when the strings should be:  010 - 014 - 018 - 028 - 038 - 050, they are:  011 - 014 - 018 - 028 - 038 - 050.

I have also used brands such as D'addario, Ernie ball (found they rotted too quickly) and many more.
It is also important to clean your strings  (preferably with a string cleaning product) as when you play , your hands release sweat, which over time corrode the strings, which leave them eventually sounding dull.  Even if you clean the strings, I find I have to change mine every 1-2 months.

There is a brand known as Elixir "Nanoweb" strings, which actually last a very long time (I've had mine on the Les Paul for around 2 months and still sounding great).

One final thing, different brands of strings are best for different types of guitar bridges, as some are better for different stringing techniques and less-slipping when playing, ask your local guitar shop!

I hope this has helped, if not, I apologise. Any questions- feel free to ask below :) Thankyou.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Digitech T L 2 Distortion Pedal

So a few months ago I decided my guitar rig sounded a little bland, only just breaking into a heavy rock sound. I purchased the Digitech T L 2 distortion pedal for £50 (ex-display), and was not disappointed.

I have tried around 4 Distortion pedals, ranging from the Marshall Guv'nor2 to a  Ibanez Ds7, and I have to say the versatility on this pedal is just simply astounding.

The pedal features a loose mode, and tight mode, changing the all round tone to a fatter, bass-ier sound (loose) and tight which is a more controlled and harsher, crunchier sound. Tight Mode gives you a responsive, percussive low end with smooth high frequencies. Loose Mode features a low EQ that best suits detuned guitars and produces a massive amount of low end grind.

In addition to this, it features the usual adjustable bass,treble, (high & low), mids and freq, gain and level. The frequency shifts the contour of the sound, and can really transform the sound.

The pedal is run through a standard 9v charger or battery, and the quality of build is also great, very sturdy, extremely reliable due to stomplock knob guards and true bypass circuitry.

The only real downside I can think of is possibly not being able to change to different sounds on the go, but this doesn't bother me.

I rate this pedal 10/10, well worth the money, sounds great, versatile for rock to extreme metal, possibly even blues with loose mode and a amp fiddle. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Jackson RR3 Guitar review!

The Jackson Pro Series RR3 Rhoads™ - Alder body, bolt-on maple neck and compound radius rosewood fingerboard.
The Jackson Pro Series RR3 Rhoads™ comes equipped with Seymour Duncan® humbucking pickups, Jackson low-profile double-locking tremolo and black hardware.
Jackson Pro Series RR3 Rhoads™ main features include:
  • Black Finish
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Bolt-On Rock Maple with Scarf Joint Head Stock
  • Neck Dimensions: 1st Fret: .745”, 12th Fret: .810”
  • Tuning Machines: Sealed Die-Cast Tuners
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood with Compound 14” to 16” Radius
  • No. of Frets: 22 Jumbo Frets
  • Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan® JB™ TB4 Humbucking Pickup
  • Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan® Jazz™ SH2N Humbucking Pickup
  • Controls:
    Master Tone
    Volume (Bridge Pickup)
    Volume (Neck Pickup)
  • Bridge: Floyd Rose® Licensed Jackson® Low Profile JT580 LP Double Locking 2-Point Tremolo
  • Pickup Switching: 3-Position Toggle:
    Position 1. Bridge Pickup
    Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup
    Position 3. Neck Pickup
  • Strings: NPS, Gauges:
    .009, .011, .016, .024, .032, .042
  • Scale Length: 25.5” (648mm)
  • Width at Nut: 1-11/16” (43mm)
  • Jackson 6-In-Line Pointed Headstock
  • Compound (14” to 16”) Fingerboard Radius
  • MOTO Shark Fin Position Inlays
  • Ivoroid Binding on Neck and Headstock

The price varies from £500-700

The guitar is absoloutly amazing for all metal heads out there, however there are minimal disadvantages.
The first being the Floyd Rose, if you have never had one, they are extremely difficult to maintain, and do not allow alternate tunings without ruining the setup, unless you either block the bridge, or look into products such as the tremol-no.

If I were to go back in time, I would personally buy the Jackson dinky, as the V shape does get boring after a while and becomes annoying for playing, (you have to sit in a classical position). Either this, or a Ibanez S-series, without a Floyd Rose. Although don't get me wrong, with a Floyd Rose you can create some pretty amazing dive bombs and new tones, however it'd be likely you'd keep it one one tuning.

For further details just ask! :)

My rating - 8.9/10, as it sounds brilliant, plays well and is just amazing. Downside - not versatile at all, and doesn't feature EMG pick ups