All posts by Stu M

Zoom G5n, G3n, G3Xn or B3n user? Software Update: Guitar Lab 3.0

If you happen to own any of the Zoom pedals in the title then Guitar Lab 3.0  really is worth your time to download, get to know and put to good use. An excellent way to edit and create new patches for your unit and visually a treat to use.

If you do not own one of the aforementioned pedals just click the units below for all the information you need on each of the pedals.

 

 

 

For G5n, G3n, G3Xn and B3n users Zoom’s Guitar Lab software has been a one-stop shop for free, instant downloads of patches, effects and amp/cabinet emulators. With regular updates, creators have had access to a constant stream of new, exciting tools. The simple UI made even new creators comfortable experimenting.
Now, Guitar Lab 3.0, a break-through version of the classic software is making patch and effects management even easier.

Guitar Lab 3.0 includes new features such as:

  • A totally new Patch Editor which allows users to add, edit, rearrange, delete effects to create their own patches
  • Patch Clips enabling users to store, share and quickly build new patches from their favorite effect combinations.
  • Enhanced effect processing display in the Effect and Editor views to help users select the best effects to maximize their sound and optimize hardware CPU
  • An integrated News view to keep users informed of the latest patch updates with new content being downloaded from Zoom each time the user runs the app and clicks the News
  • An updated Effect View featuring detailed parameter descriptions for each effect, eliminating the need for users to download and reference the Effect List file

https://www.zoom.co.jp/news/GuitarLab_v3

 

Guitar Tuning Issues and the Perfect Fix

I think that guitar players and guitar techs would all agree that there is nothing more frustrating than a guitar that will not stay in tune.

Your guitar going out of tune can be the thing of nightmares whether on stage, half way through a song or after a few string bends. You hit a chord that sounds something akin to the first chord you ever tried to play.  Your fingers are in exactly the right place, you’ve spent years practising and honing your guitar skills but now you look and sound like a right (insert your own choice of insult here).

There are many reasons for a guitar not staying in tune: old strings, new strings that you haven’t stretched, strings on the wrong way (you’d be surprised!) badly cut nut, the list goes on. Assuming that your guitar is in half decent condition and set up ready to play, I would always go for friction being your issue and the lovely people at Big Bends have a solution for that.

Ladies and Gentlemen I Give You Big Bends NUT SAUCE!!!

(Ok stop sniggering……….I do not find the name of this product in the least bit funny and I have never made any childish comments at all.)

Back to business. As a guitar tech and a guitar player I have tried many different tricks and products to keep the string moving freely through the nut and this product is the best I have used. If you are tuning up and you hear a metallic “ping” or if you find any string slightly sharp after bending, the odds are on that the string is catching in the nut slot. Loosen the strings and clean the slots of the nut on your guitar and apply a small amount of nut sauce into the slots then tune your guitar back to pitch. It really is that simple! Use this every time you change your strings and your guitar nut will stay lubricated and clean. Application is easy thanks to the………erm….. applicator and it does not spill anywhere it is not wanted. It is also ideal to add to your string saddles as this is your next point of friction. Here it can help to reduce string breakage and will also reduce the wear on the saddles. Tremolo systems, from vintage to Floyd Rose styles, benefit from a little nut sauce on the pivot points, keeping everything moving freely with reduced friction, which increases tuning stability at all points on the guitar.

You are now free to bend that g-string as much as you like, in the knowledge that it will always end up back where it’s supposed to be. (You can’t have expected me not to have gone school boy humour at some point!)

All the guitars at Scan are inspected and set-up before they are sent out to you the customer and Big Bends Nut Sauce is always on our set up benches to be applied as part of our set up routine.

Sometimes the smallest purchases can make the biggest difference to you guitar; this is definitely one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

The Plexitone. The Three Channel Pedal That Provides All The Basic Crunch and lead Tones You Guitarists Need

Over the years I have met and provided advice to many guitar players. It is true to say that while many were accomplished players some of the tones that they were using were, to be totally honest……bloody awful!!

Each to their own I hear you cry? Who am I to be telling you that your guitar sound is cobblers?

“I can’t help it!” is the answer to that question. I love the guitar and all the tonal possibilities that it and the surrounding paraphernalia can achieve. Creating a great tone in this modern world shouldn’t be that difficult should it? Depending on your budget you have access to a plethora of amplifier companies, more pedals than I ever thought could possibly exist and just how many single and double cut pieces of mahogany and alder are there!?

You can spend a fortune on tone chasing, new guitar, new amp, new pedal, new tattoo………….well okay, not the new tattoo but you get the idea.

Getting your basic tone right is a key piece of the puzzle. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many fancy delay pedals and multi effects you see guitarists using, that when they are switched off their basic clean and crunch tones are bland and lifeless.

Here is where I bring in the Carl Martin Plexitone.

 If ever there was a pedal that gave you such a perfect range of crunch and lead tones this is it. I personally love this pedal and have used it and recommended it for many years.

The drive tones available are very much as the name would suggest, plexi through and through. Old school plexi tones are here on the crunch setting covering Hendrix to AC/DC . The crunch side of the pedal has extra gain on tap and takes you into hard rock territory with ease but maintains fantastic clarity thanks to the extra headroom of the circuit running at 12 Volts. Modded plexi tones just ooze from the high gain setting. Huge sounding chords and  modded lead tones to die for pour from this setting (think natural compression and “sag” ) and provided the perfect lead channel you could be missing.

And then there is the independent clean boost that sits under the switch on the left hand side. This is just the perfect addition and takes this already fantastic drive pedal into the perfect tool for creating that great basic tone.

The clean boost works independently within the pedal. With the crunch or high gain engaged, the boost gives you up to 20db of a kick, more than enough to let your solo be heard. (make sure you practice as you really will be heard!)

But here is another use for that clean boost. I always like to kick the clean channel of any of my amps just to push them a little and give them more presence and bite. With the boost being independent I leave it on all the time so that my clean has that extra sparkle and punch, then I just switch on the gain side of the pedal when required. If your clean channel is a little flat or lacking power then trust me that this clean boost will bring it to life.

Don’t forget also that if you are running a twin channel amp with a clean and dirty channel, the boost into your dirty channel will add that extra punch here as well, hey presto, four high quality tones to start building on all for well under £200.

So I love it and recommend it, Pete Thorn who knows more about tone than the rest of us put together loves it.

Remind me why your tone is lacking again?…………………………….

 

 

 

 

Boost That Mid Ladies and Gentlemen

Guitar players as a rule have lots of friends, that’s a fact. It comes with playing the coolest instrument on the planet. Another fact is that we guitar players all have one friend in common……….MID.

Mid is where we live, mid is where the components of our treasured and hard sought out tone come from and most importantly, mid is where we can always be heard.

There are many so called mid boost pedals on the market  but the Purple Humper from One Control really is like no other mid boost pedal I have tried.

Originally the pedal was developed as a request to match the mid-boost circuit fitted inside a stratocaster in a pedal form that could then be used with all guitars. It then developed from there into the pedal that is available today which I have to say is is one of the most versatile single knob pedals I have ever tried.

This pedal is neither an overdrive nor one of those half cocked wah wah sound creators (as a side note, if you want that sound use a wah wah!!)  One Control themselves state that the pedal sounds “British” and I have to agree wholeheartedly. I have tried this pedal into everything from a basic transistor amp to a rather expensive and tasty valve amp and found the pedal to work in all situations which as we know is not a common experience.

It took that hard edge off  the transistor amp and gave me a usable tone straight away. Through my cranked JCM 800 I could achieve a fantastic smooth lead tone that after I added a little delay to the tone was just fantastic. Through that same Marshall a twist of the knob gave me that 80’s metal lead tone.

So no matter what amp or guitar I tried the pedal gave me usable tones and was a consistently useful pedal that just didn’t sound bad at all.

Last test…………….did it play nicely with other pedals?

No it doesn’t just like it’s own company as the picture could suggest! This pedal worked incredibly well with every pedal I tried it with from a Friedman Dirty Shirley to a Bogner Blue and an old DOD Chorus. Any where in the signal chain gives you different but   ALWAYS usable results.

Single coils to humbuckers, solid state to valve, clean to crunch to all out mayhem, this pedal never fails to deliver to add that extra something to your tone. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAMM 2018 – Launch of the PRS Mark Tremonti MT 15 Lunchbox Amp and Cab

Lunchbox Hero

“We knew we wanted a low-wattage amp. The challenge was getting a lot of tone and features in a little box. We’re all blown away with how it turned out. It’s going to be great for someone to take it out of the box, set everything to noon, and have it sound great.”

– Mark Tremonti

The rumors it appears are true! NAMM 2018 see’s the launch of Mark Tremonti’s first ever signature amp.

With 6L6 power tubes under the bonnet (or hood if you are in the land of Namm), this is probably the biggest sounding 15 Watt amp you will ever hear.  All the gain you will ever need on the lead channel combined with a bright clean channel  that has a  beautiful chime. Top this off with a host of features including separate eq on both the clean and lead channels,  a master presence control, global effects loop, half power switch, external bias jacks, the list goes on and on………The aforementioned clean channel also has a boost to take you into classic crunch. This amp it would seem has you covered no matter what tone you are chasing.

It also changes colour (or color) when you change channels……..what more could you possibly ask for!?

Mark Tremonti is well known for creating some incredible and iconic lead and rhythm tones. Listen to the most recent Alter Bridge album “The Last Hero” and not only will you hear these iconic tones that I mentioned but you will also hear the prototype of this amplifier because a large portion of those tones on that album were recorded with the MT 15.

A matching 1×12 cab constructed from birch is available to go with the MT 15. Loaded with the revered Celestion Vintage 30, its open back design sounds huge and matches the head perfectly.

 

 

More from PRS below…….

The MT 15 is a commanding two channel amp with balanced aggression and articulation. Powered by 6L6 tubes, the MT 15 has a large, bold sound, so you can dig in heavy with rhythms but also get singing lead tones out of one amp. Whether recording, practicing, writing, or playing a small room, this amp has everything you need.

The MT 15’s design started with heavier players in mind, but in the end, it has a lot to o er players of all genres.
Like the PRS Archon amplifier, the MT 15 features five gain stages before the Master for full, lush distortion. The gain channel gets big, chunky tone with massive, tight low end, never losing its articulate note definition or great lead tone. The clean channel is bright and chimey, good with chords and finger style playing – whether with a pick or not. The clean channel also features a push/pull boost control that adds a little overdrive for old school crunch. No matter what tone you dial in, the MT 15 stays balanced across the spectrum with a sweet, smooth tone that won’t bite your head off

Additional features include an effects loop and bias adjusters that are accessible from the back panel for ease of servicing. Despite its 15 watts, the MT 15 sounds more like 50, so a half power switch that takes the MT to 7 watts is a welcome edition. Bottom line, the amount of features, the hugeness of the sound, and the raw horsepower of the circuit make the MT 15 an impressive lunchbox hero.

The MT 15 is Mark Tremonti’s first signature amplifier.

Happy New Year Everyone and Welcome to the Year of the Tri Chorus

It’s officially 2018 and I declare this the year of the Tri Chorus effect.

It’s time to dust off that twenty unit rack case, fill it full of slightly unstable 19 inch rack units that you’ve been collecting from that four letter auction site, replace your car with a van and prepare yourself for back pain, or………..

Just purchase one of best pedals to arrive in years.

The Neunaber Tri Chorus

Brian Neunaber has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and has been designing audio products since 1994. He designed effects processors for St Louis Music who marketed products under the Crate and Ampeg brands. Brian was also the DSP Architect at QSC, quite the pedigree!

The quality of Neunaber reverb effects such as the Neunaber Immerse Reverberator below, are without a doubt, phenomenal!

Turning his design knowledge towards the chorus effect has produced what I consider to be the ultimate chorus pedal. I know the paraphrased tag line of,  “If you do not like chorus pedals you will like this  one” has been used before, but here I truly believe at last a  chorus pedal has been created to live up to this statement.

Check out below the list of the  eight available settings.

• Tri — the classic rack chorus effect
• Hex — two tri-choruses paralleled for an ultra-dense effect
• Cascade Tone — two tri-choruses in series create a rich, lush effect
• Cascade Vibe — tri-chorus and tri-vibrato in series makes for a complex sound
• Harmonic Vibe — Low-frequency tri-chorus and high-frequency tri-vibrato, a more subtle effect that works well with overdrive
• Harmonic Detune — low-frequency detune and high-frequency tri-chorus, even more subtle and sounds great with heavy distortion
• +Detune — tri-chorus+detune for that ultimate rack chorus tone
• +Echo — tri-chorus+echo is a classic combo

Not only does this unit provide a fantastic sounding tri chorus, it also gives you the option to add detune for the ultimate, and my own personal favourite, rack chorus tone of the 80’s and early 90’s.

The other six options available are incredibly well designed with each and every variation providing glorious tri-chorus whether your tone is clean, over-driven or heavily distorted.

The header photograph is Dann Huff of Giant, a perfect example of the Tri Chorus tone that I know and love. Whether you are a Dann Huff  fan like myself, reveling in that stereo Tri-Chorus tone, or just a die hard fan of the classic studio tone of the 80’s and early 90’s, this pedal will make you smile every time you press that switch.

Don’t forget that Mike Landau fans will find chasing his classic tone somewhat easier with this pedal!

To sum up, the stereo chorus tones created by this pedal are, in my opinion, second to none. Whether you chase old school rack tones or simply want the best chorus pedal on the market, look no further!

 

 

 

 

Budget Signature Model Guitars. Should They Really Be Called Budget?

Budget Signature Model Guitars

To me the term budget suggests a compromise in quality and design, however the SE range from PRS is as far removed from “budget” as the term would suggest.

We are all used to seeing our favourite guitar players with their signature model guitars. Custom tailored to their playing style and tonal requirements and in some cases decidedly dodgy colour schemes………… Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Zakk Wylde, Mark Tremonti, the list goes on and on.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have played many of these signature models and their less expensive counterparts. One thing I can say for sure is that while there is still and always will be a difference (let’s be honest,  a £4000 PRS and one costing £800 will always differ) between the “real thing” and the less expensive accessible to all models;  the difference is certainly becoming less apparent.

Here are a few prime examples of the signature instruments which I speak of………………….

The above PRS SE Tremonti Signature guitars are not only fantastic instruments in their own right, they are also Limited Edition Models, making them an attractive purchase and that little bit more exclusive.

The advantage to you, the customer, is that these signature models are no longer just an ego boost of musicians using their name on an inferior product that they themselves would not play. These guitars are more than capable of getting their “signature” guitar player from the beginning to the end of their gig. Body thickness is not compromised. The neck shape is what they spec and use themselves. Hardware and electronics, although not always what the more expensive model would have fitted, are more than capable of creating the tone they chase and lasting many years of hard gigging.

Below is an image of a Limited Edition PRS SE Bernie Marsden guitar which is exactly what the legendary musician uses during his live performances. No changes to the electrics, no fancy, outrageously expensive quilt top, just the instrument you can buy for under £1000. What more of a validation do you need for purchasing a PRS SE Signature Model………….a so called “BUDGET” signature guitar!

 

 

 

Guitar Pedal Signal Chain Basics

So you buy your first guitar and amp and start learning to play. I can almost guarantee that it will not be long before you start to become interested in buying some pedals to stick between your guitar and amp and start a lifelong stomp box obsession……….

Pedal order is something that is talked about all the time and nothing is cast in stone and I always say to experiment and if it sounds right it is right!!!

That being said when you first get going you are going to want the basics so that is what I intend to do here. So in no particular order…………well actually in this order…………

  1. Tuner
  2. Wah Wah
  3. Overdrive
  4. Distortion
  5. Modulation (Chorus?Phaser)
  6. Reverb/Delay

The above order running into the front of the clean amp will give you the perfect starting point to experiment.

Hendrix for example was Wah-Fuzz-Uni vibe-Marshall Stack which follows the above starting point with the uni vibe being his modulation at the end of the chain.This is a classic signal chain and lets (fuzz) face it Hendix had a fantastic sound.

The other subject to touch on here in the basics is when you use the amp itself for your distorted tone. This is where you will find the reverb and delays respond differently going in the front end of your amp. Based on the above signal chain if your amp is providing the distortion then you are now running the reverb and delay before the distortion which is a completley different ball game. At this point it is time to find the effects loop on your amp and plug your reverb and delay through the loop to keep the signal path correct as shown below.

Effects Loop Send-reverb-delay-Effects Loop return

Effects loops are another lesson  to explain fully the different types and uses but for now lets just use the basic rule of reverb,delay,modulation(chorus/phaser) etc can all go through the front end or the effects loop but lets just leave overdrive,fuzz,distortion and boosters going through the front of the amp via the input socket and leave them there where they belong.

In the coming weeks I will post some alternative pedal orders and how to set up your pedals for the best results.

Wampler Pinnacle Distortion Pedals. “Brown Sound” Anyone?

The entire range of Wampler Pedals are now available here at Scan and we are just slightly pleased to have them all here under our roof. I say slightly pleased……..as a pedal freak I’m ecstatic that these pedals are here as they are fantastic and I get to sneak off and have a play through them whenever I have some spare time!

I get asked about distortion pedals all the time and often the customer has a particular sound or style in mind. This narrows the search beautifully as a player looking to nail that SRV tone is not looking to buy a high gain pedal and vice versa the high gain lovers are not looking to buy a mild overdrive pedal. This is all well and good but what do you do when you fancy a light crunch for lunch and a high gain thump for dinner? Buy different pedals is one answer and many do for specific tones that they can switch between instantly but if this is not a requirement then a wide ranging drive pedal is probably ideal for your needs. Which after all this rambling brings me to this beauty……

In a nutshell the Pinnacle gives you mild overdrive AND extreme gain all rolled into one beautifully built pedal and its party piece is one of the most convincing “Brown Sounds” in a pedal you will hear. In fact, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tech Zeke Clark played through this pedal and said….

“I’ve played tons of pedals that promised that “Brown Sound”… this pedal NAILS it better than anything I’ve ever heard or played.”

Trust me when I say if you are considering a drive pedal this has to be at the top of your list of must tries and if you love the tone but need extra versatility Wampler has got you covered on this score as well with the V2 pedal below. Full three band E.Q and a boost as well!

Did I mention it does that ”Brown Sound”…grab a PAF and enjoy !!

Wampler Pedals @ Scan

The Providence SDR-4 Has Returned For a Limited Run

It’s not coming soon it’s here NOW and it’s limited to 50 pedals worldwide of which we have secured 2 pedals currently in stock.

Based on the original and highly praised SDR-4, they have retained the original circuit while using updated parts. To say this pedal gives you a full sound that cuts through the band environment is an understatement.

The SDR-4 has a fast attack and an edge to its’ sound that helps create a punchy tone with a thick low mid-range.

That Fat switch is an added bonus. When engaged it raises the gain in the low frequency range which is what gives that fat, aforementioned thick tone. This is really prominent on a single coil pickup and thickens and adds power beautifully to your bridge position.

I love a drive pedal that gives you “snap” and this pedal does it. Use a pick or use your fingers or preferably use both as hybrid picking rocks!

SDR-4 @ Scan