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darkandrew last won the day on April 7

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  1. My recollection of the Super Distortion is similarly monstrous but I prefer a bit more subtlety these days. Have you tried the Air Nortons? I've read about them, etc, and they do sound interesting but never actually tried them myself - I might have to give them a go one day, especially with Bare Knuckle' s prices continuing to creep up.
  2. I've never had to contact Dimarzio but have tried that other well known US pickup manufacturer that you mention and understand your sentiment - the reply took two weeks to arrive and was just a "cut and paste" answer from their website that didn't actually answer my question. Are there any particular Dimarzios that you'd recommend?
  3. Over the years I've tried many pickups from many manufacturers - EMG, Seymour Duncan, Bare Knuckle, Dimarzio, etc. Although different pickups have different roles and suit different guitars, of all the pickups I've used, Bare Knuckle Nail Bombs are probably my overall favourite. They feature Alnico V magnets in both the bridge and neck pickups (BKP also offer a ceramic option in the bridge if you want it) and although they are definitely modern in tone, they do a really good job of bridging that gap between modern and traditional pickups. The bridge pickup has a very bright, hairy, top end and then flattens out very quickly, giving you plenty of pick attack but also a pickup that sits perfectly in a mix - it really is the ideal rhythm pickup. The neck pickup is similarly bright yet balanced with no boomyness and a lovely woody tone. They're not cheap though, currently a new set direct from Bare Knuckle would cost you around £250, and they are very sensitive to pickup height - 1/2 a turn can make the difference between being in the sweet spot and being well outside of it, but if you're willing to invest your hard-earned money into buying the pickups and your time into getting them set up just right then they are definitely worth the time and expense.
  4. I've got ti say that I wholeheartedly disagree with that as a learning / practice technique. It's far easier to learn something than un-learn it. By playing slowly and accurately you will learn far more efficiently than playing at break-neck speed with mistakes, because once you've made that mistake and repeated it, you've then developed a "memory" of it which you have to over-write with the correct version, which is more difficult than actually doing it right in the first place. I'm not doubting anybody's talent but I've got to question playing at 240bpm as a practice technique, it's like bands that go into a rehearsal room and crank every amp, PA, etc up to 11.
  5. As above, I'm no guitar virtuoso so my main influences were those people that I could play along with and learn from. I've always loved the way Gary Numan mixed synths with guitars and I'd say I probably spent more time playing along with his stuff than anybody else when I was first trying to figure out how to play guitar. Once I became a little more competent, I also remember playing along with Andy Taylor's guitar and learning from him - again it's the way that Duran Duran mix punk / hard rock guitar with synths, and of course the way that Andy Taylor also mixes that with funky rhythm playing, which brings me onto my other major influence - Nile Rodgers. Once I'd got the basics of rhythm playing, the only place to go to begin to learn the intricacies of it was Nile Rodgers. So there you go, my 3 main inlfluences as a guitar player - Gary Numan, Andy Taylor and Nile Rodgers.
  6. I've got to say, I'm really loving these Seymour Duncan STK-S4s; all the benefits of a humbucker (which technically they are) but with the tone of a single coil. I've always been wary of single coils due to their inherent noise but these are absolutely noiseles. Thoroughly recommended.
  7. I recently posted that I had picked up a LTD M403HT superstrat from eBay and I thought I'd post some brief comparisons between this, my LTD elite Eclipse and my ESP standard series Eclipse, and the work I've done to it since buying it. Now, I know the M403 and the Eclipses are very different guitars but by comparing them it is still possible to gain a bit of an insight into the difference between a full-fat ESP, a top-of-the-range LTD and a mid-range LTD. First off, the general build quality of both Japanese built Eclipses is identically excellent, the hardware is identical (Gotoh bridge and locking tuners, hand-cut bone nut) however the fretboard binding on the LTD elite was a little too angular but nothing that 2 minutes with a cloth and some rubbing compound couldn't fix. The other, and probably biggest difference, is that the body shape of the LTD elite is slightly different, adhering to the 3 knob and shorter bottom horn variation of the American model rather than the traditional Les Paul format found on export models - I assume that having just one body type saves production costs for the LTD but other than this there are no other signs of cost cutting. It's probably worth noting also that the LTD elite range only lasted for about a year before it was superseded by the E-II range. It would be interesting to compare the LTD elite with a Korean built EC1000 to see how they compare. Moving on to the Korean made, mid-range LTD M403 now: hardware-wise it has Seymour Duncan pickups all round - a pair of STK S4s in the neck and middle positions, and a Custom 5 in the bridge. The tuners are Grover non-locking tuners, the bridge is a decent copy of a Hipshot hard-tail and the nut is a similarly decent copy of a Graphtec graphite enriched moulded plastic nut; obviously using non-branded hardware for the bridge and a moulded nut are 2 ways to keep costs down but they seem to be decent enough quality, so all's good so far. However, build quality and finish was a bit hit and miss. The pickups didn't align properly with the strings - the middle pickup was slightly slanted and not parallel to its route, the pickups where packed with foam behind them and without springs, and the nut was playable but cut too high for my tastes and was also slightly wider than the neck so that the edge could be felt overhanging the neck slightly. Finally, the binding on the fretboard was very square and a bit uncomfortable. One last thing, the pickup combination also struck me as an odd choice, with the two S4s being hugely overpowered by the much hotter Custom 5 in the bridge. Anyway, apart from that, it was all fine! Now don't misunderstand me, the M403 was not as bad as all that sounds and is a fine everyday guitar but you could feel the difference in the finish and attention to detail when compared to the LTD elite and ESP. Now here's a good question - with time, effort and some experience of this sort of thing, is it possible to make a mid-price guitar play like a top-of-the-range one? So with that in mind, I set about addressing all the little niggles with the LTD M403 - plugged and re-drilled the holes for the pickup screws, fitted springs under the S4s to work alongside the foam to keep the pickups better supported and aligned, trimmed and re-finished the nut, rolled the fretboard binding, swapped the Custom 5 for a TB59 for a better tonal and volume balance between the pickups, and gave the guitar a damn-good setup. Two weeks later and it's all done, but is it now as good as the other two more expensive guitars? I would love to say "yes" but the real answer is going to have to be "nearly". It's a huge improvement over how it was "out of the box" but the Japanese made Eclipses still have the edge, but bearing in mind that full-fat ESPs now retail for over £2000 and E-IIs for around £1800, I'd say that the Korean LTD, with a street price of around £600 offers fantastic value for money and a good base to build on if you have the time and patience to tweak it a little.
  8. I have been experimenting with pickup heights to get the best tone and the best volume balance between the bridge humbucker and the two single coils - what's the gap between your neck and middle pickup pole pieces and the top and bottom strings? I've set mine to about 2mm on the bottom "e" and then adjusted the treble side so that the pickup is parallel to the guitar body and therefore nearer to the top "e" due to the lower saddle height at that end.
  9. I've recently bought an HSS superstrat but having played HH guitars (mainly L.P. and similar) exclusively in the past I'm finding it difficult to find a position for my right hand. With Les Pauls and similar, I play between the pickups which means that there's plenty of room under the string for the pick, however playing a HSS at this spot leads to my pick hitting on the middle pickup. So, I was wondering where more experienced players of SSS and HSS guitars pluck?
  10. Oooh, that is nice
  11. Bamboo as a sustainable wood, I get, but I'm guessing there must be a lot processing involved to roll-out each piece, cut it to a uniform size and then glue all the pieces together to create the sheet material. I also wonder if it is then left au-natural or whether it is finished with some sort of clear coat - as you say, if it's not properly finished, it will eventually rot and biodegrade.
  12. OK and here it is, my new Ltd M403HT superstrat. As some of you may have seen elsewhere on here, I've been after a guitar for that neck, single coil Strat vibe that wasn't necessarily an actual Strat, and this is what I've ended up with. It's a 2016 Korean model, basically in "as new" condition with a solid mahogany body, flamed maple top, maple bolt on neck, rosewood or pao ferro fret board (the current Malaysian ones are pao ferro but I think the Korean models had rosewood - it certainly looks like rosewood to me anyway), a pair of Seymour Duncan STK -S4 stacked single coils in the neck and middle positions , a TB-14 Custom 5 in the bridge, a hard-tail bridge with through-the-body string anchoring and Grover tuners at the other end. Controls are a 5-way selector, a single volume and a single tone. First impressions were that it looked really good and played OK - the previous owner had the action set far too low, the pickup heights were all over the place, and the tone knob was coming loose but after a quick setup, everything is much better although I'm finding the dead-flat fret board a little unnatural feeling but no-doubt I'll soon get used to it. The Custom 5 in the bridge is a perfectly good pickup but I'd had one of those in previous guitar and knew what to expect with that. The S4s are amazingly quiet with the hidden coil doing an excellent job of cancelling any hum (in fact they appear to have less noise than the bridge humbucker), tone-wise they sound pretty much like your standard single coil pickup, perhaps a little warmer, but I will give them a go one day with this second coil shorted to ground to see if it makes any discernible difference to the sound - if it does, I'll probably then replace the tone pot with push-push or push-pull so that I can have this as a switchable option. General workmanship is pretty good - the fret ends are nice and smooth (more so than my previous Korean made Fenders which needed a mini-workover with a small file and some wet'n'dry), the strings and pickups line up on this one unlike an earlier one that I almost bought, although I can feel the slightest of lips on the nut where it's less than a hair's width out of alignment - one day I'll probably have go at fixing this too (anyone know if it's possible to easily remove the nut and reposition it on these without damaging either the nut or the guitar?). I've got a new set of NYXLs coming in tomorrow and I'll write a more detailed review when I've put those on and given the guitar a thorough setup. Update - it's now been re-strung with my string of choice, the fretboard cleaned and oiled, the pickup heights adjusted and the relief / action / intonation all setup. So what do I think now? The bridge pickup is great for heavier stuff - a little scooped but not too much (the NYXLs help smooth that a little but emphasising the mids and high mids while toning down the bass and extreme highs a little) and the neck and middle pickups are great for the funky rhythm stuff when played together. As I've already said, the build quality is good for the "street price", certainly on a par with my other Korean guitars but it just can't quite match the feel of quality that you get with a full-fat Japanese ESP. It might sound like a cliché but when I play my Japanese ESP Eclipses, they don't feel like guitars - they feel like a part of me while this feels like … a guitar. A good sounding, well balanced guitar but still a guitar none-the-less. The main reason for that, I believe, is the neck - while it's beautifully smooth and shallow, it's just a fraction wider than I'm used to with a flatter fretboard - no doubt if a I give it a chance and play it as regularly as I play my other guitars, I'll soon get used to it, after all I can switch quite happily from a 5 string Spector Euro 5LX bass to a 4 string EBMM Sterling and then to an ESP Eclipse 6 string electric guitar. Update 2 - I've now re-aligned the nut, and the pickups (the middle pickup was slightly slanted and the bridge humbucker was slightly off centre), and now I'm feeling happier. I'm still finding it a little un-natural to play but I've only had it a day so give it some time ...
  13. Just came across this on eBay; a guitar made from bamboo (with a maple neck). What are your thoughts? Edit - I'm not thinking of buying one, I just saw it and was curious.
  14. I've got a new Strat (not a Strat) on the way and will be collecting it tomorrow - pics and review to follow ...
  15. Unless the maple top wasn't put on straight - meaning that everything that was lined up with it would also be out?
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