Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tech 21 NYC Trademark 60 + BOSS GT-10

Dr. M's Studio Rig! Tech 21's Trademark 60, Fender Stratocaster played through the BOSS GT-10. Hear the three combined in the video below! Fender is resting on a Stage Player II, guitar cable is a Spectraflex FatsoFlex.

Tech 21 NYC's Trademark 60 (first amp pictured) was the amp of choice for Les Paul during his stint at the Iridium in New York City until his death in 2009.

The Trademark 60, (1x12) offers amazingly warm tones especially for a solid state amp. Fully reliable and roadworthy, this is an open back 2 channel amp with true spring reverb and footpedal included. It is my studio amp and what you hear on the HD music videos produced for Eclectic Sound TV

BOSS GT-10 vs Digitech RP-90 Review

The link above will show you some of the many features of the BOSS GT-10 as compared to DigiTech's RP-90. The video above will show you how easy it is to getting a gig-worthy tone! The BOSS GT-10 remains the flagship unit for the BOSS line of guitar multi effectors. It is a serious powerhouse of effects, cabinets and pedals. The GT-10 can be intimidating but the best way to jump right in is to start with the factory presets. Yes, they can be a little obvious but it is totally within your power to manually adjust many of the parameters to your liking. With something like 400 presets, you will surely find something close to your liking and then take it from there. The GT-10 has a USB port so it can easily interface with your Garageband or Cakewalk studio computer software. The lights are extremely bright and work well in a dark studio or on a dimly lit stage. In the lead photo, I have it in my custom Tarcase Pedalboard Case so it can definitely travel!

Enter Eclectic Sound's MAY Guitar Gear Give-Away! Great premium guitar prizes from Planet Waves, Martin Guitar, Farley's Musical Essentials so check it out and enter to WIN!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gibson Les Paul Axcess & Fender Deluxe VM

This past weekend, I had the sublime joy of playing this sweet Les Paul in black off the floor at Russo Music Center. So what sets this Les Paul apart from all of the other models bearing his name? One of the things that makes this electric different from others is the lack of a heel cap in the back. The guitar lays closer to your body because it is flatter in the back. It also allows you to get at the upper frets more easily. According to Gibson:

"While the Axcess sports what looks from the front to be a traditional Les Paul neck joint, the neck heel and portions of the back and neck joint at the upper cutaway have been contoured to provide a “heelless” feel and an unimpeded reach right up to the 22nd fret."

Other specifications and appointments befitting this new model’s pedigree include:
- One-piece mahogany neck with fast, rounded profile
- 24 3/4" scale length with 1 11/16" nut width
- 22-fret rosewood fingerboard
- Kluson tuners
- Single-ply cream binding on body top
- Pearloid trapezoid fingerboard inlays
- Carved maple top with nitrocellulose lacquer finish in Iced Tea Burst or Gun Metal Gray

This Gibson guitar model has a very fluid body shape that reminded me more of my Fender Stratocaster than a Gibson. None of the bulk was there. Fluid sculpted lines that hug your body especially around the ribcage. VERY comfortable playing! The added Floyd Rose tailpiece makes this guitar truly "custom" as the vibrato is factory installed by Gibson as part of the manufacturing process. So how did it sound? Really incredible! It sounded especially good through this Fender Deluxe Vintage Modified amp. The delay on the Fender Deluxe 40 watt amp is unreal.
At 40 watts, it was plenty loud and delivered all of that true Gibson tone with ease. Street price on this amp is $799.99. Relatively lightweight for a 40 watt amp with a 1 x 12 inch speaker, it is easy to carry to gigs and won't embarrass once you get there. PHOTO: Fender Deluxe Vintage Modified Amp in Blonde. Here is what makes this Fender amp unique:

"The Deluxe VM amplifier takes the sought-after Deluxe formula into a new era of “Vintage Modified” performance by combining a real tube amp with a complement of essential effects. The 40-watt tube platform provides a foundation of great tone to build on, and the versatile tube preamp offers a wide range of tone and gain settings—from world-standard Blackface Fender clean to aggressive overdrive with post-gain EQ.

An all-new high-quality DSP platform adds reverb, chorus/vibrato, and delay effects with the convenience and “tweakability” of standard stomp boxes, without the need for extra cables or power supplies."

The effects are often the downfall of most combo amps. They are either too obvious or difficult to control. The adjacent dials on the Deluxe VM allow you to tone them down to your liking.

This is a good match really. The Gibson Axcess truly shines with a tube amp with a bit of bassy warmth like the Fender Deluxe VM. Really it is very similar to my vintage USA made Crate amp only well, WAY better. A combo amp like this gives you a few stomp box effects built in for the road which means you can leave a few more pedals at home. Definitely worth taking for a test drive!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jackson Warrior vs Ibanez Xiphos Video

Dr. M visits Russo Music Center, Hamilton NJ and picks up a (heavy) Ibanez Xiphos Axe! Visit them online at Ibanez

Ibanez Xiphos XP300FX
Street Price $399.99

The Ibanez Xiphos is a knock off of Jackson's WRMG Warrior which has an Alder body (with flame maple veneer on trans finishes), bolt-on maple neck, compound radius rosewood fingerboard, EMG® 81 (bridge) and 85 (neck) humbucking pickups, Jackson® low-profile double-locking tremolo and black hardware.

The Real Jackson WRMG is below!

Street Price $899.99

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Fender Passport 500 Pro Review

Fender's NEW Passport 500 Pro builds on the old PD-500 Deluxe model but how does it stack up?

I have the original Fender Passport PD-500 Portable PA System which I reviewed along with my Roland SA-300 Stage Amp here:

Fender PD-500 and Roland SA-300 Pro Reviews

If you read the article review, one of the issues I noted was the sheer size and weight of the unit. It appears Fender listened and the new Passport Pro is a full 9 pounds lighter than the previous model, (44 lbs vs. 53 lbs). They were also listening to the concerns of bulkiness of the PD-500. The Passport 500 Pro model now offers smaller dimensions but still snaps together in suitcase fashion for transport.

So What's New?
Released earlier this year, some upgraded features of the Fender Passport 500 Pro include a port to record directly via (.wav, Mp3) to a USB flash drive. This can save space over storing large music files on your computer and is an easy way to record your live performances. The previous model Passport has high quality Celestion Speakers but the new Passport Pro 500 only says it has speaker cabinets each with 10" woofers and a 1.2 horn loaded tweeter. There is no mention of the type of speakers they are using in the new model although a Fender engineer claims they were "designed" by Celestion. Celestion speakers are some of the best I've heard in a live setting. The original Passport PD-500 has 8" Neo-Precision Celestion speakers and one titanium compression driver with horn per cabinet. This one technical aspect makes a HUGE difference in the system's quality and tone. One of the complaints I read from a musician who purchased the new Passport 500 Pro was that the sound from the speakers was" thin and lifeless and the amp very easily clips at moderate volume."

The first 6 Mono channels on the new Passport 500 Pro offer 48 V phantom power and the last two are stereo channels with connections for RCA cables such as would be used with our Gemini 3600 DJ Dual CD Workstation or a CD player. This is standard with the original Passport PD-500 as well which additionally offers Feedback Killer on all line level channels and phantom power switchability on the first 6 channels. There is also an onboard mixer with Digital FX controls for each channel on the old Passport PD-500. The new model only has reverb, not a full on Digital FX panel as before. The speaker cables with the original Passport PD-500 included the Neutrik locking Speakon connectors, (pictured above), which are some of the best available. The new Passport 500 Pro does not have the Speakons but cheaper speaker cables included.

Wireless Applications?
One of the features I did see carried over to the new Passport is the Wireless Docking System which is installed in the storage compartment of the unit. The Fender Executive Wireless Kit which is purchased separately, includes headworn and lavaliere mics PLUS and wireless guitar connector. This is unique because you did not need to bring along a separate, external wireless system. The Fender Passport Wireless runs off of the amp's power. The wireless application expands the versatility of the Passport, allowing you to travel light. PHOTO: Older Fender Passport P-150 hard at work in a Cafe setting. Vintage USA made Crate GX-20M Guitar Amp out front.

Included Accessories?
The original Fender Passport PD-500 Deluxe came with two decent quality Fender P 51 dynamic mics with cables. Each mic came with a zippered carrying case. They all fit neatly in the storage compartment of the unit. The older system was complete and road ready right out of the box. While I prefer Audio-Technica's condenser mics, the Fenders were not bad as dynamics go. The new Fender Passport 500 Pro does not come with any microphones or mic cables.

The Wrap:
While this was a basic first glance over-view, there are some things to note about the Fender Passport Series in general. They are not in the same class as Fender's classic guitar amps. The Passport is first and foremost a PA System but the Celestion Speakers with titanium compression drivers on the previous model gave the system a definite edge. Even with their upgrade being 9 lbs lighter, the weight and shape of the Passport is not practical towards carrying in as you would a "suitcase". I have used a Rock 'N Roller Micro Cart to transport it to gigs. In fact American Musical Supply's catalog has the Rock 'N Roller cart advertised on the same page as the new Passport 500 Pro! You will also need a custom canvas dust cover, (available from Fender), as the molded plastic on the speaker cabinets is easily scratched. (Check out this article on how to set up multi-effects such as the BOSS GT-10 and DigiTech RP-90 with the Roland SA-300 Stage Amp / PA System).

As for reliability, I have seen Fender Passports of all sizes and ages used in a variety of settings from stage plays to cafe concerts. The Passports have a 5 year transferable warranty, which is quite good even by today's standards so be sure to complete registration online or by snail mail. My Fender Passport PD-500 quit on me during a gig due a sub-par diode. It sat in an Authorized Fender Electronics Service Center for 10 months waiting for the rare replacement part to arrive. Passports are made in China so perhaps that and the fact the PD-500 has been discontinued contributed to the wait. Fender is offering the Passport 500 Pro at about $400.00 less than the original PD-500 it is replacing. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Don't be fooled. The new Passport 500 Pro is not the "flagship" of the Passport line or an upgrade in the series. At the MSRP of $1,499.99, $999.99, Street the new Fender Passport Pro 500 appears to offer less in quality components but more technical apps than it's predecessor, the PD-500. Either way, I would pass on the new Passports.

May Guitar Gear Give-Away!

***ANGIE*** Congratulations on being the winner!

ONE winner will receive ALL of these PRIZES in our super drawing to be held on May 1st, 2010!!! Enter by clicking here: COMMENTS or use the link at the bottom of this article. Deadline for entry is April 30th 2010 - 12 midnight. Here's the contest question:

Where is your favorite place to practice playing & why?

This drawing is open to U.S. residents ONLY with a valid shipping and email address.

Planet Waves NEW Tru Strobe Pedal Tuner, hot from the 2010 NAMM Show! Super accurate, adjustable backlight, dropped D tuning and true bypass. The Tru-Strobe will be sent to the winner directly by Planet Waves.

Premium Guitar PRIZES !!!

Planet Waves Dual Action Capo!

Martin Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings!

Mighty Bright Pedal Board Light
from Farley's Musical Essentials!

Sorry pedals and case not included.

Planet Waves Lubrikit Friction Remover!

Sorry, Roland Stage Amp not included.

Co-sponsors of Eclectic Sound's 2010 May Guitar Gear Give-Away are:

Planet Waves & D'Addario

C.F. Martin & Co. - Martin Guitars

Farley's Musical Essentials

Check out their banner ads in the left hand column for more gear and reviews!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Planet Waves NEW Tru Strobe Video

NEW from the 2010 NAMM Show! Planet Waves has just released their latest pedal tuner, the Tru Strobe. Watch the video above as we unbox it and compare size and features to the BOSS TU-2.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Audio-Technica's ATW-701/G On the Road

Isn't it time you freed up your act? We'll be taking the ATW-710/G Wireless Guitar System with us on the road this spring. Freedom!

This is the time of year when you grow really tired of being wrapped up and bundled. All you need is one warm day and you'll see everybody taking off the layers. If that's how you feel when you perform perhaps it's a sign that you are ready to step up to a wireless guitar system. Here is an overview of the wireless system we'll be using on tour this spring from Audio-Technica:

Audio-Technica’s 700 Series Freeway wireless delivers professional features and sound quality unheard of in its class. These easy-to-use wireless systems feature eight selectable frequency-coordinated channels, diversity operation for increased range/reliability, automatic frequency scanning, Tone Lock™ squelch and more. 700 Series Freeway systems come equipped with your choice of handheld, headworn, or lavalier microphones; or choose a system designed for guitar hookup. For multiple-mic applications, as many as eight systems may be used together.

  • 8 selectable frequency-coordinated UHF channels

  • Use up to 8 simultaneous systems—all channels compatible
  • Automatic frequency scanning

  • Diversity operation for increased range/reliability

  • LED Channel display plus Antenna, AF Peak indicators

  • Balanced XLR and unbalanced ¼” output connectors

  • Tone Lock™ squelch system eliminates interference when transmitter is off

  • UniPak® transmitter features: separate guitar/mic trim control, switchable high/low RF power, internal channel selector, multi-color battery/power indicator, AA operation

  • Handheld transmitter features: variable trim control, internal channel selector, multi-color battery/power indicator, AA operation

  • Freeway body-pack systems are compatible with all Audio-Technica Wireless Essentials® microphones and cables
The ATW-701/G is the system for a wireless guitar hookup. Really we have been amazed at how easy it is to incorporate a wireless system into our existing rig. If you look to the left in our banner ad section, you'll see that Audio-Technica makes a carrying case for their wireless systems, (3000 Series is shown), so they are made to travel very well.

Pedals With a Wireless Guitar System
If you are worried that using a wireless system means that you'll have to say goodbye to your pedals and stomp boxes, think again! If you want to use your same rig of pedals and effects, here is how you do it:

1. Run the out cable from the receiver to the first pedal

2. Connect all the pedals in their usual order, (45 degree mini cables work great)

3. Run a cable from the last pedal to the amp

Voodoo Lab's Pedal Power II supports all of the effects pedals shown in the photo and would work in powering your wireless guitar receiver too. In fact, you can set up the receiver right in with the effects pedals in the case although the manufacturer suggests 3 feet off the floor. Need to know how to properly link the pedals your own pedalboard in the right order? Check out this article: Guitar Pedals-Get the Effect III

When you think about it, part of your on stage presence is being able to freely move, dance and interact with your audience. Stiff, frozen performances do not cut it. A wireless guitar system gives you incredible access to the crowd and extra mobility on stage. We can't wait to rock this! Visit Audio-Technica Online to check out the ATW-701/G and their other professional wireless systems.

Oh yes, it's coming up! Eclectic Sound's May 1st Guitar Gear Give-Away with NEW goodies like the Mighty Bright Pedalboard Light, Planet Waves Dual Action Capo, their NEW Lubrikit and Coated Light Electric Strings, Martin Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings and MORE! Follow Dr. M on Twitter ! My Twitter Tweets will announce the start of the Give-Away.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Belmar St. Patricks Day Parade

Dr. M. & band-mate Magda pose with a Little Martin Guitar and Oscar Schmidt Centurion Autoharp flanking Belmar's St. Patrick's Day Parade Deputy Grand Marshall, Janet McGrath. "Harp Hymns" entertained parade attendees on the Main Street parade route which numbered nearly 300,000!

SUNDAY, March 7, 2010 Main Street in there! Touted as one the largest St. Patrick's Day Parades and celebrations in New Jersey. Everyone will be there! Eclectic Sound will be on the ground, sampling Irish reels and fiddle tunes as well as all the excitement from the parade itself. Look for our tweets on Twitter, indicating locations of the best Irish pub music and jamming throughout the day. Busking was never this good!

The parade will be covered by Cablevision and re-broadcast on Channel 78. The Asbury Park Press will also have videotape footage from the parade at their website. Come out and meet us at the reviewing stand stage for some seriously rocking good times but with an Irish accent. Visit the Belmar, Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade on Facebook for parade details, routes and other helpful information. Check Twitter by searching #APPSTPAT to get our other parade photos and great places to hear Irish music in Belmar.

Be sure to check out St. Stephen's Green Publick House in Spring Lake Hts. for their Irish Seisiuns every Tuesday night from 7-10 pm. Getting to the parade is easy via the New Jersey rail system. Just take the train to Belmar and you are literally steps from the reviewing stand for the parade on Main Street. In fact the partying on the train is almost as fun as the parade itself! Dom's Pizza right next to the viewing stand stage on Main Street will again have their delicious St. Patrick's Day "green" pizza. Erin Go Bragh!

Photo Above: Magda & Dr. M. at the reviewing stand stage with parade organizer, Fran Griffin who is the creator of the Belmar Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade Official Group linked above.
Photo below: Proud Irish Drum Major leads the charge of kilted pipers during the parade this Sunday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Middletown Arts Center

This Sunday, March 7th from 1-4 pm Middletown Arts Center of Middletown, NJ kicks off its Spirng Festival and Open House! Located steps away from Middletown Train Station on Church Street, come experience all the MAC has to offer during this FREE fun family event.

Meet their instructors, see demonstrations and exhibits, take mini classes, watch performances and immerse yourself in the ARTS in Middletown. Learn about their upcoming Spring and Summer classes, events, exhibits and activities. Come hear the Church Street Ramblers Bluegrass Band between 3-3:30pm! Details at the MAC Website at,