This time I'm diving even further into the general ignorance on guitar related subjects; do you own an MG halfstack or a JEM555, consider not reading this.
-The cheap solid state half stack:
Marshall and Line 6 are best known for these. By crossing a cheap practice amp with a half stack they have created the MG and Spider half stacks repectively.
These amps aren't as nice as they may look though; a quick glance at the Marshall shows the famous name on a classic looking-amp; on top of that, the image of famous rockstars playing in front of huge walls of amps has been burned into our memory.
There is one problem though; despite being priced considerably outside the beginners amp range they are essentially still the same amp.
You're paying a lot of money for a cheap solid state amp.
The main difference? It's louder.
But to make matters worse, solid states don't really like being cranked, unlike for instance a nice tube combo (some of which can be bought for roughly the same price as these half stacks).
With a solid state amplifier, the sound breaks up after a certain point, making this amp pretty useless; why buy a half stack that sounds even worse when turned up?
Add to that the fact that most venues have excellent PA systems, rendering huge amps pointless, their habbit of breaking down and the difficulty involved in transporting a halfstack and you have one bad deal.
-The uninspired signature model:
A signature model offers an artist a chance to be creative.
Some of them come up with original guitars which add something to the line-up of a certain brand.
My personal favourite? The PGM301; unlike other Ibanez guitars thanks to a maple board, a hardtail bridge, classy looks and stock DiMarzio pickups. It's even quite affordable.
This is just one example of a cool signature model.
However, not all artists put as much thought into it as some of the others. Usually this leads to the dreaded stock guitar with different pickups and paintjob.
Examples would be the Ibanez MBM1; an RGA121 with EMGs and a graphic or the Schecter Zacky Vengeance model.
What i don't like about these guitars is their price tag. Priced far beyond what they're worth, these models have no value for money whatsoever.
Another type of signature model is the cheap spin off.
Take a Korean Ibanez RG, add DiMarzios and a few cosmetic touches and you have the JEM555. Being a cheap RG at heart, you're paying Prestige prices for a non-Prestige guitar.
Like this one, there are many other examples of cheap spinn offs from the original models, still costing quite a lot.
The main reason why I don't like them, is because people still buy them.
You put an artists name on something and people will buy it. It's perfectly understandable from a corporate point of view, but it still bugs me that some people save up for ages to buy a KH202 whilst kirk uses them as his smash-guitars, going through 30 to 40 per tour....
Right, I'd like to use this blog to get a few things of my chest, so beware:
-The "New Amp First"-mafia:
In almost any thread where a person asks for advice on a new guitar some people show up with the standard "get a new amp first" posts.
Now, I'm not saying amps aren't important; in fact, i believe, like most others, that an amp is responsible for the biggest part of your tone and that having a good amp is the best way to achieve a nice tone.
But, and this is a very big but, this doesn't mean that anyone looking for a new guitar that does not own a tube amp should get one first.
Like many people I love my amp, but I like my guitars even more. Where an amp shapes your tone and is responsble for most of your sound, the guitar is the actual thing you make music with.
Therefore, it's very normal for people to have a better connection with their actual instrument than their amplifier. A new guitar can be a very inspiring thing, despite it being used with a cheaper amp.
Now, an argument constantly presented by the "New amp first" mobsters is this one:
"A 3000$ guitar through a cheap amp doesn't sound nearly as good as a cheap guitar through a 3000$ amp."
While this may be true in some cases, there is one big mistake here: the bulk of these threads aren't about three grand upgrades.
Whether you like it or not, not everyone is after the best tone on earth. Crusades like this are best left to people like Andy Timmons and Eric Johnson, but most people just want a nice sound and a good guitar; and whilst some are perfectly content playing their old Squier for years, others like something new after a while.
So, as great as a good high quality amp may be, it might not be nearly as inspiring as a new guitar.
The point? When someone asks for advice on a new guitar, don't automatically suggest a new amp. Sure, if the person already has a few different guitars, but a very cheap amp, feel free to suggest it, but don't go overboard...
-The neck-through construction:
I'd like to make one thing very clear:
The neck-through construction is not the ultimate neck joint.
As a regular in the EG forum, I constantly see threads about people asking for neck-through guitars, recommending a guitar on the basis that it has a neck-through construction or dismissing a guitar because it has a bolt-on joint.
The notion that a neck-through is superior to other neck joints is absolutely not true.
For some reason, certain people see them as the ultimate in playability, upper fret access and sustain, but why?
A properly carved neck-through joint does have nice upper fret access, so much is true, but a bolt-on like the Ibanez AANJ offers about the same comfort on the higher end of the neck, as do good set-in joints.
Hell, even on the original Ibanez neck joint, or the joints on the Fender Tele and Strat, which have to be the mother of all bulky neck joints, the upper fret access is still quite good.
The same goes for sustain; maybe if you take a very properly constructed neck through guitar you will notice slightly more sustain, but not only is this not certain at all, with today's amplifiers, compressors and effects, who cares?
A neck-through construction itself does not mean better overall quality or sound of the guitar.
My point? As nice as they may be, don't treat neck-through constructions as the best neck joint available and don't be too set on getting a guitar that has one.
Neck-through doesn't guarantee quality.
-The Floyd Rose Tremolo:
Again, one thing i notice in the EG forum is the amount of people wanting double locking trems.
Inspired by someone like Vai, they immediately want a double locking trem, but forget a few things:
-cheap FR systems; these things have the annoying habit of breaking down or wearing out long before quality trems.
-they're quite a hassle; even the most rabbid whammy bar lovers have to admit these systems have they're down sides, which become very apparent during string changes, set ups or during the event that you break a string. On top of that, even properly set up, quality, trems detune after a period of frequent use, meaning you'll have to start a long and tedious retuning session.
-you might not use it as often as you thought you would; like many, after having seen a Joe Satriani DVD I wanted a double locking trem. After i got it, I started to use it less frequently every month and these days I hardly ever use my trems.
Now, i'm not saying trems are bad, in fact, people like Blues Saraceno and Michael Lee Firkins do some amazing stuff with theirs.
i would urge you to think about getting one though, because eventhough they might look appealing, most tricks beyond basic dive-bombing take more practice than you'd think, they're quite a hassle and they may not be as cool later on as you thought at the time of purchase.
Taking a break from the Gilbert guitars, here's my new Vigier:
After calling almost every Vigier dealer and distributor in Europe,
including the factory itself, and looking around auction sites, I decided to
post a request on the Vigier forum.
After about one day, I was approached by an Italian store
called the Shred Factory. Not too long later and it's here.
Since not too many people own these things, I decided to
make this into more than just a show-off thread by writing a review for it as
Right, only a few days after the guitar was shipped from Italy,
I was quite surprise to recieve this box:
Inside the box was another box:
After opening that one, two things came out:
-a few small Italy-themed gifts from the nice people at the
Shred Factory, where I ordered it:
-a heavy-duty gigbag:
Opening the gigbag revealed the guitar, which was still
Right, after that I went straight to my amp (the guitar was
still in tune) to try it out for the first time.
Then, I returned to take a couple of good pics:
This guitar has Vigiers own tuners, with a little 'v' carved
into the back. This guitar has been shipped from Italy
and when it arrived it was pretty cold, yet still perfectly in tune.
It's basically a simple hardtail design; when you have no
frets, why would you want a trem?
the fret markers:
Thanks to the lack of frets or inlays on the finger board,
finding the right note can be pretty damn hard, so on top of the regular side
dots they also added little stripes to indicate where the frets would be.
They're also present on the bottom (treble side) of the neck.
the 10/90 system:
Instead of a truss rod, they decided to install a strip of
carbon fibre, running down the neck. This means the neck is always straight and
Like many Vigier instruments, this guitar comes stock with
DiMarzio pickups. It has a volume and tone control, plus a five way switch.
This guitar is absolutely amazing. It's extremely well
built, perfectly set up (action is around 1 mm) and the Antique Violin finish
looks even better in person. Also, kudos to the Shred Factory who were very
pleasant to deal with and pretty damn fast as well!
Gilbert has always liked flashy guitars and this gold PGM with red F-holes is a good example.
The pink Destroyer:
Another Racer X guitar. This guitar used to have fringe running from the headstock to the edge of the body. When asked if the fringe got into the way of his playing, he replied that is wasn't too bad and that as an added advantage it wiped the sweat of his hands.
Gilbert once said in an interview he liked collecting unique and rare instruments which weren't necessarily valuable, but simply odd. He always replaced the pickups on these instruments, but sometimes sent the originals to DiMarzio so they could house the new pickups in the original cover, preserving the tackiness of the guitar.
The reason why I used this picture is simple: it shows two of the three things that set this guitar apart from a regular PGM301, being a painted neck and the original Ibanez neck joint. It has an HSS pickup configuration.
Since I already have a blog covering the PGMs available to the public, I thought, why not make one about a few of the customs Paul Gilbert has had made over the years.
So, without further ado:
The PGM seven string:
This guitar is PG's seven string. It's basically a hardtail RG, but with F-holes and a part of the lower horn is sculpted (like the Rusty Cooley signature). If you want to see or hear this guitar in action, check out his song "Let the computer decide", where he has the bottom three strings tuned to D.
Technically not a custom, but this is one of his many vintage Ibanez "law suit" models. This guitar is briefly seen in the intro to Terrifying Guitar Trip. See it in action
The natural doubleneck:
The white doubleneck next to it was made at the last moment before a MR. Big tour. He had heard that Billy Sheehan was bringing a doubleneck, so he asked Ibanez to build him one to balane their look on stage. It was made by cutting up two RGs and glueing them together. The top neck is a regular six string and the bottom one has three E's tuned in octaves.
This guitar is now owned by a member of the Racer X forum and was used for the Intense Rock video (back then it still had a tremolo). See it in action
The twelve string PGM:
A twelve string version of the PGM
This was one of Paul's main guitars during the Mr. Big days. It's a 100, but since the trem has been removed, it can be qualified as a 101 . See it in action
The Dino Rg:
This doesn't belong here for two reasons: first of all it's not a PGM and secondly, it's not a custom. This is a stock Rg he ordered when he was doing clinics for Ibanez. He's using it again these days (with a different pickup configuration than in the picture), so I figured I could still list it here. See it in action
Well, that's it for part 1. Maybe there'll be a part 2, maybe not
Many people aren't fully aware that there is more to the PGM range than the 301. The truth is, it's a fabulous range of instruments, featuring many different guitars.
So, to set the record straight once and for all:
The Ibanez PGM
Paul had asked Ibanez to start putting fake F-holes on his RG guitars, and thus the PGM was born.
Three humbucking pickups, a standard non-reversed headstock and a rosewood board with sharktooth inlays.
The same as the 301, but with a fixed bridge. Paul's main guitars for years now has been a 300 with the trem removed.
The trusty PGM301, with DiMarzio pickups, a hardtail bridge, maple fretboard and a reversed headstock.
Vintage trem bar and non-reversed headstock.
Another red PGM but with a fixed bridge and a reversed headstock.
When Ibanez retrieved the Iceman shape from the closet again, Gilbert jumped at the opportunity to make one his signature model.
This might well be the rarest of them all. This Japan-only limited edition was used in one of the Guitars from Mars instructional videos.
Please excuse the buggy image, but it get's the point across.
Based on the Ibanez Talman, this guitar has two DiMarzio Super '58 pickups, 22 frets and gold hardware.
The Hoshino corporation, of which Ibanez is a part, celebrated their 90th anniversary in 1998, marked by a special concert and a few limited edition guitars.
Released to celebrate ten years of PGM, this one has block inlays, a nice maple top and a 25th fret. This thing was released in 2002.
The Ibanez PGA
While Ibanez has marketed the Steve Vai Euphoria as their first signature acoustic, this is simply not true. In respons to the massive Mr. Big Hit "To be with you" Ibanez released the PGA1000, available in two colours and with tiny F-hole inlays, this is the true first acoustic signature from Ibanez:
The PGA1000TR and the PGA1000MB:
Well, that's it.
Granted, there are the budget models, the 30 and the 3, but these aren't as cool.
Get a thin, cylinder shaped, piece of wood and cut it to the right size; just a few centimeters. Too short and it won't go into the drill far enough, or your picks will be allmost against the tip of the drill, too long and there is a greater risk of the wood breaking or the bit falling out of the drill. An ideal piece of wood for this is the end of a wooden spoon:
Now, get three picks and lay them on top of eachother, so that the ends make a triangle. Drill straight through the picks in the middle and that's it (Fig. 2).
Grab your piece of wood and drill, with a small bit, a hole in the center (Fig. 1)
The reason for this is you don't want the wood to crack when you put a screw in.
Grab your pre-drilled picks, the bit of wood and a screw and screw the picks onto the wood, trying to maintain the triangle shape. You will probably find that the wooden bit is too fat to fit into your drill, so use something like a Dremel to make the end a bit narrower.
Your picking-bit is now done!
To end this lesson I will give you a few helpful pointers:
-use very, very, light picks or you'll snap your strings.
-doing this while sitting down could mean that you have to hold the drill unnaturally, so try this while standing.
-drills are heavy, so the lighter the better.
-be incredibly careful and stop as soon as your arm gets tired; you don't want the drill to slip and damage your guitar.
Now as a final tip, only do this at the end of a show or at least at the end of a song and use a hardtail; this way, if you snap a string the rest of the guitar stays in tune and you won't have a whole gig ahead of you with a broken string (provided you don't have a backup guitar or time to change it).
After writing a reply to a thread about this, I figured I might as well post it here, since many people want a discount or free goodies when picking up a new instrument.
Haggling or bargaining is not that hard and depending on the salesman and store, they'll even reduce
the price on a guitar you have clearly stated you don't want, which
happened to me.
I was trying a Jackson RR and the salesman didn't get why I didn't want
it, eventhough he reduced the price by a couple of hundred, without
asking me whether I liked it or not...
Eventhough bargaining skills are mainly acquired by simply doing it, I'll give you a few basic tips:
-always have a price in your head, it can be quite a lot lower than the
price on the tag, just keep it within reason.
When saying a 2000 guitar
is nice, but you'll only pay 800 for it, they're not going to take you
-when asking for a discount, or suggesting the afore mentioned price,
they will most likely tell you that it is already at the lowest
Respond to this by giving a slightly higher price, but
that you also want something like a bunch of strings, a hardcase etc.
-even if they repond that it is absolutely impossible to lower the
price and you know you're pushing your luck, keep asking for free
-keep it reasonable.
-If you're extremely confident, walk away.
Chances are great that if
the price or offer you suggested isn't ridiculous the salesman will
call you before you leave the door. You might want to leave your phone
number in case they change their minds.
This can be risky though,
because as soon as you come back later, or if you turn back just before
exiting, they now they've got you.
-make some conversation with them before going into the negotiations or
even before you try the guitar. This establishes a connection.
-another trick which occasionally works is to simply pull out the cash
or your credit card, even if they were unwilling to match your offer
before, staring at a pile of bills or a nice Mastercard might change
-make sure you're in charge of the negotiations, not them. If you can,
have them suggest a price, this tilts the situation in your favour.