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Everything posted by BDJohnston

  1. There certainly is an if, since I stated it. The poster did NOT indicate acoustic or electric. Not sure what problem you have with that. I merely gave a recommendation IF the poster wanted an electric. And you can import a Harley Benton for cheap enough that it's still a good buy compared to something of its league found at a local store (where there's a markup for the middleman). If you have something against HB, then fine, but try to find negative reviews on HB (for the price and what you get).
  2. Any inexpensive guitar will not fetch much money on resale. As for the other issues, know they are issues. Two other things... the poster did not indicate whether the person is playing steel still or nylon acoustic OR electric. I gave an opinion on electric since others posted about nylon (that's why I clearly stated "IF ELECTRIC..."). Also, Harley Benton produces acoustics (including nylons)... and I would put up a $200 HB over a $200 from another brand. Hope that clarifies and have a good evening.
  3. If electric, possibly something from Harley Benton... very decent pricing and you get a very decent guitar. I've seen some for only a few hundred bucks and they could stand up to something double that price.
  4. I'm really enjoying this amp... love the lead tones:
  5. The best I've tried is the clean channel on The Countess (by Victory Amps). You can buy this as a pedal pre-amp if you don't need the power amp section (and simply go into your amp's fx loop to bypass your amp's preamp). This clean channel is thicker and slightly warmer than the Fender recommendations, resulting in a nice full sound.
  6. I used to have one... paid $500 at the time. Some very unique effects on it, and one that I've yet to replicate with today's technology.
  7. Popularized by Jimmy Page, this plug-in is based on Eventide’s H949, its first de-glitched micro-pitched harmonizer. You can operate it as a single unit, but also in Dual mode for stereo widening, doubling and reverse link pitch alteration. Besides micro-pitch shifting (including reverse pitch-shifting) and intervals (e.g., octave, minor second up, perfect fifth down, etc.), there are great sounding delays (randomized and reverse), flangers and special effects, with presets ideal for human voice and instruments.
  8. Features The Classic AC has a 24.75-inch scale length, and a chambered mahogany body with a flamed maple top (it comes in natural and green, whereas the model I’m reviewing is natural). The top is natural with white edge binding (and three black pinstripes), whereas the sides and back are transparent cherry. The Classic AC has a mahogany set neck design, a zero fret (set above the other frets to reduce buzz), a 1-5/8” nut, and a rosewood fingerboard with unique Shark’s Teeth inlays. The bridge is an adjustable Tune-O-Matic wrap around, which matches the Gotoh style nickel/chrome hardware. The pickups are two EW-Retro (Eastwood) Humbuckers, controlled by 1 tone and two volume knobs (one for the bridge and one for the neck) and a three-way switch (bridge, bridge + neck, neck). It comes stock with #10-#46 strings, whereas a gig-bag or case is extra. Action/Fit/Finish The guitar’s action is relatively low and the string bend easily (even on the highest frets, which is not always the case with higher priced guitars). The entire body (and back of neck) has a quality gloss shine without any perceivable flaws. There does not seem to be any flaws in the binding and there are no visible rough edges or cracks around the pickups. There are no rough edges to the frets (all appear to have a slight bevel for smoothness) and the neck binding (with side dots) appears to be well done. The headstock, and its binding, also is of good quality. The one minor flaw is the sharks tooth inlay at fret 17 – when bending the lowest strings you can feel a slight edge of that inlay, although not sharp or uncomfortable.
  9. The easiest way to use Tone Spot Electric Pro is to select a preset that makes sense for what you’re playing and trying to improve upon. For instance, if playing acoustic or clean electric and you want to boost the midrange, then you would select such a preset in the ‘general’ category, or perhaps something like Indie Chords or Picking would sound better (from the Classic folder). You then can tweak one of those presets if required, or select a ‘default’ preset (with everything flat) and adjust each section, which explanation I’ll keep brief (you can download a trial version of the program, as well as the user manual for more detail). The VOICING section applies legendary EQ shapes used in studios, including Classic (classic rock tones, obviously), Heavy (aggressive and thick, great for rhythms), Choco (lots of midrange), Hyper (modern, e.g., Diezel or Friedman amps), Sing (even more mids than Choco, ideal for lead tones) and V (a scooped curve typical in hi-gain amps). CHARACTER allows you to select how the VOICING should sound, with Vintage, Natural or Modern, but also if you want the tone a bit brighter, scooped or Lo-Fi. And SATURATION allows you to add grit and fullness. SHAPING is the big EQ section, and this really makes a difference. I find a lot of EQ plug-ins a bit hit or miss… constantly tweaking to get the right tone before you get ear fatigue and everything starts sounding the same (or the original tone sounded better than what you eventually ended with). This plugin’s EQ is unique in that the results are fast and each section is relative to its own range. For instance, Boom adds that bass thump, whereas Body increases the thickness of the low and middle range. More mid-range tweaking can be had with Paper and Wood, whereas the upper mids and treble are affected with Steel and Air. SMASH is the Compressor section, and it does a great job without that overly squishy effect (and there’s a boost in that section in case you lose some volume via compression). SURGERY allows you to fine-tune the EQ, and it does this in very fine amounts (for bigger changes you need to go back to the SHAPING section). EFFECTS provide a host of typical guitar fare, including Tremolo, Modulation (phaser, flanger and chorus), Delay and Reverb. These are very straight forward, and so you don’t get a lot of unusual choices (e.g., reverse delay), but they are very solid sounding and will fill the niche of typical basics used by most guitarists in most instances. FINALIZER is the mastering section of your tone, allowing you to add a touch of fatness, tightness or smoothness to the overall result (and you can adjust the mix/boost of those elements).
  10. Easy to operate, just like any basic wah or volume pedal. Give it juice via a 9VDC adapter or with a 9V battery (via the quick clip battery door in the bottom). If using a battery, you will need to unplug the input when not in use to prevent battery drainage. The input and output are standard for this type of pedal, along the sides and with ¼-inch cables. Choose whether you want to use the Volume or Wah aspect of the pedal with the side footswitch (in wah mode the LED lights up). The pedal is switchless, and so simply step on and use. In Volume mode there is no sound with heel fully down, whereas there is full signal strength with toe fully down. In wah mode you activate the lower frequencies with heel down and the higher frequencies with toe down. Moreover, you can adjust the strength of the wah signal with the Wah Boost knob, which gives upward of 20dB of clean boost. Of course, you can use either volume or wah in specific and limited settings, e.g., use the Wah as tone filter by leaving in desired position or set the volume level by leaving in any desired position.
  11. I find this plug-in easily matches any Flanger pedal I have used, including flanging effects in the Axe-Fx II.
  12. A reminder that I used all presets in the plug-in for my demo, whereas there are a lot of editing features possible, including the Add Age button (which really varies the quality and tone of the phaser).
  13. If you're looking for this plug-in and a LOT more, you may want to consider the Eventide H9 (hardware) for $399
  14. A ton of editing options, which can seem intimidating at first, but stick with the presets (and the degree of mix for different result) initially and you will have plenty of fun.
  15. With over 70 presets you may not need much tinkering beyond selecting a key/scale mode. Regardless, there is a lot of complexity with the Octavox if so desired as you can add or delete voices (up to 8), control the loudness of each voice, adjust any degree of pitch, delay and panning, etc. If you don't like to tinker, then there are plenty of presets from which to choose... if you do, then you will have a lot of fund with the Octavox.
  16. Several sound effects that do not require an input (you tweak the controls to make sounds), but obviously hundreds of effects for guitar, voice, drums, synth, bass.
  17. You can request free trial downloads to experience how much this software can wake up a mix and make it POP! https://www.eventideaudio.com/products/third-party-plug-ins/mastering/elevate-bundle
  18. Even up full on a clean channel you would be pleasantly surprised as to how smooth and natural the Val Drive II sounds (being a low to moderate gain pedal). It adds a warm grain with some headroom when on low (e.g., 10-o’clock) with a very acceptable drive and modest breaking up quality when up full. Obviously the cleaner the amp the more you can crank the Drive, which also depends whether you want to add some glassiness to your tone versus making it more of a crunch. With a dirty channel the Val Drive II shines incredibly well, although how much Drive you want will depend on how nasty your dirt channel is (or how much nastier you want it), and for the most part I’ve been keeping it at 10-o’clock, which seems to enhance the dirt channels on my Victory V4 Preamps (I have all three, The Countess, The Sheriff and The Kraken) in a positive way with no added saturation (in fact, the preamps sound even clearer and cutting edge). As for the Tone knob, you can get a lot of bass or treble for those clean channels, but with dirt channels (as least with my gear) the signal becomes more pronounced on the high end that I keep the Tone knob on the Val Drive II dialed back to about 9-o’clock… and on The Kraken (which has a more harsh tone) I dial back the Tone knob all the way to full bass. I’m surprised I had to do this since on a clean channel dialing all the way back made the tone sound dark and slightly muffled.
  19. There are two new features with the Spider V MkII. The first is a new Classic Speaker mode that produces a more organic sound and feel, just like a regular amp. What I mean is, if you were to plug into a typical amp/cab combo you get that true-to-life amp sound and that’s just what this amp offers. Conversely, you can select a ‘produced’ sound, which is ideal when running the Spider direct to DAW, for example, but also when using an acoustic guitar (since this mode uses both the loudspeaker and the tweeter for a more rounded and accurate tone). There are different presets for an acoustic guitar, but suffice to say (as you hear in the demo) an acoustic sounds great coming through this amp. The other new feature with the MkII is the Artist, Iconic Song and Classic Amp presets. At your fingertips are straight-forward clean, crunch and lead tones (that you can customize), but also several Iconic Song presets, like Whole Lotta Love and Enter Sandman, as well as artist presets from the likes of Jeff Loomis, Bill Kelliher, Vernon Reid and others. Those two features not only are new with the MkII (previous Spider V owners can download the new MkII firmware for free!), and definite game changers, but there also several great features built into this amp. These include being wireless ready (with a Line 6 G10 transmitter), a built-in metronome, drum tracks and a preset sampler function (pick a preset and hear it in different genres, such as Blues or Classic Rock). There are 78 amps and 24 cabs that range among Clean, American, British and Hi-Gain (from classic Fenders and Marshalls to Diezel and Friedman). And there are several stomp boxes in the categories of drive/distortion (10), delay (14), reverb (13), modulation (24), wahs (8), filters/synths (15), dynamics (8, including compressor) and EQ (1). And you do get a free license to Cubase LE for recording and mixing purposes, but I recorded my tracks in Cakewalk Sonar X3 with the Classic mode via a Shure SM57 mic… and with very decent results. The various presets on the Spider can be edited and saved, and they range from super clean to crunch to hi-gain. I was impressed with both crunch and hi-gain as they sound punchy, heavy and thick to varying degrees, but many of the clean sounds (particularly the artist presets) are mesmerizing. Although the Spider V MkII is a solid state amplifier, it does have a host of very usable sounds that sit well with both home recording and live gig playing. And when you consider how many different effects accompany all the different amps and cabinets with this amp, you get just about any perceivable sound possible. All elements can be tweaked via USB and the free downloadable Spider software, but also with the hard controls on the front of the Spider V. The Amp and FX buttons switch between the two, so that in Amp mode you can adjust the EQ, volume and drive of the amp, whereas in FX mode you adjust the compressor, amount of fuzz, depth of reverb, tempo of delay, etc. (each color coded, e.g., blue LED around a knob indicates ‘delay’). Speaking of tempo, you can adjust this manually if desired by tapping the Tempo button, or if hold down the button you access the Tuner. This amp also includes a 60-second Looper, a headphones jack and an AUX input to jam to your favorite music. Some optional add-ons (not included with the amp) include an Expression Pedal, ideal when using the internal wahs, filters, etc., a foot controller, and a USB cable (to connect to a computer for editing, recording and firmware updating).
  20. Q allows you to sculpt your tone in real time (although the pedal can be parked without EQ sweeping) while playing guitar, bass or keyboards. The demo outlines some possibilities, but I bet there are several more. With toe down and the Treble and Bass dialed back (or turned off completely) you can achieve a very authentic lo-fi sound. Again with toe down, you can adjust the Treble or Bass to sculpt your tone, but also act as a boost (since there is a 20dB cut or boost with either the Treble or Bass). The real fun begins when you manipulate the treadle, which either cuts or boosts the Midrange by 20dB. This is where you get some interesting tone variations that seem to mimic a volume pedal and/or a phaser and/or a wah – depending how you use it. Get enough Treble and Bass in the mix and hear some very intense growls (without that shrill typically heard in wahs). When working the treadle in the front half of the range the mid scooping is not as intense, and doing so makes for a very good subtle wah-type effect. And whether working in broad or narrow sweeps, I find Q to work exceptionally well as a tremolo or Univibe – but what makes Q special is that you can control how fast or slow you want the tremolo/vibe without having to bend down and adjust any knobs like you would with a typical tremolo… you control the rate or speed with your foot so that you can have slow mixed with fast, etc. Placement is important, as often a volume or wah is at the beginning of the chain; but with this being an EQ pedal with 3-times the headroom of typical 9V pedals, your signal can be overdriven too hard if placed at the front end. Rather, place Q at the end of the signal chain (unless you want to overdrive earlier effects), viz., after distortions, delays, reverbs, etc.
  21. With the Internet... if I were a company I would create my own on-line NAMM show... displaying, demoing, etc., both on Skype and recorded for video playback... all new products I'm about to release. Now, that does not allow a person to try it out, but how many people actually attend NAMM vs. those who play instruments and buy gear? The cost of flight, hotel, meals and tickets (besides taking time off work) precludes many from attending, particularly non-USA citizens travelling from another country. To partake in a day or so of Skype and/or later view the videos of those in-house events (I think) would create greater draw for any one particular company.
  22. Straight forward in its use, start with the Level around 9-o’clock and increase thereafter. There’s enough headroom with this pedal, and so start low. Presuming the Bias is down low (all the way counter-clockwise) the signal will be its smoothest. The Fuzz is very intense, even when turned all the way down, and sounds plenty heavy around the 10-o’clock mark. Increasing the Bias obviously adds a heavier, broken-up quality. For rhythm purposes I prefer a low Bias with Fuzz around 12-noon or less, but when playing lead I like both Fuzz and Bias around the 1-o’clock position. Obviously individual preferences may dictate otherwise, and I’m basing this on a very clean and glassy amp channel. Amps with more or less aggression will determine proper settings of the British Bender.
  23. You can access all controls and functions via the OMNI AC’s knobs and switches, but also through the free computer software. The software certainly makes it easier to navigate, providing a larger and clearer representation of the controls that necessitate hooking up to your computer via an 8-inch USB cable, but the onboard controls are easy enough to use (visible via the OLED screen). The pedal has a master volume control and a Function knob. When you turn the Function knob left or right you select a preset. When you press down on the Function knob you enter the menu system, whereby you can make a number of changes (again, this can be done via the computer software). There are 15 presets or options, e.g., steel string, jumbo, dreadnaught, etc. You could have all 15 presets the same guitar with different EQ and Gain settings or each one can be a different guitar/acoustic instrument (and any combination between). Via onboard or through the software you can set the overall preset volume, whether playing an electric or acoustic, and the EQ setting associated with low, mid, high and presence. With each EQ setting you can set the Gain, thereby reducing the bass, upping the midrange, etc. The Footswitch is assignable so that it can bypass, mute, change modes (whether using an electric or acoustic guitar) or scroll up or down the presets. What’s cool about this pedal is that it has a Thru so that you can blend your original acoustic or electric guitar tone with one from the OMNI AC. There’s also a balanced XLR out (to a mixing board, for example) with a ground lift option, a headphones jack and an Aux In (to connect an MP3 player or other device).
  24. It will take a day of discovery to learn all the ins-and-outs, but a little bit of patience will make it all worth the effort as you can produce some utterly unique modulated delay effects. I won’t cover everything, but will go through some general guidelines. The delay knob allows you to select a ‘range’ by pushing down then turning the knob (the ‘range’ places you in a general area, e.g., 500ms delay); you then adjust the knob (without pushing) to fine-tune the milliseconds. Once you have a delay time you like (keep in mind you can tap tempo) you then can add a Reverse to the delay, besides adjust the Feedback (repeats) and even add a Delay Multiply (so that you hear your delay 2x to 5x). The amount of delay also is significant, ranging from 10ms to 10 seconds – add in a Delay Multiply the delay continues for nearly a minute even after you stop playing. Assign the Infinite Repeat to the Hotswitch and the signal will repeat forever (until you press the Hotswitch a second time, thus allowing the effect to trail off). Speaking of Hotswitch, you can assign many things to this footswitch besides an Infinite Repeat – you can use it as a tap tempo, use it to hold the modulation effect or reset the modulation (turn it on/off), and also use it to switch from a Preset’s A and B settings. In regard to the last assignment, if you have an expression pedal you can switch from A and B settings of a preset (heel down vs. toe down), but also morph the two into some fantastic sound-scapes (as you play and rock the treadle). The Modulation aspect of the Rose allows you to add various shapes to the delay tone, including a Sine, Square, Envelope or Random wave. You can adjust the depth of that shape, as well as its Rate (for a very slow wave to a fast pulse, as indicated by the Rose LED flashing to the set pulse or rhythm). Both the Delay and Modulation aspects can have a higher treble or bass response, whether you want it to be prominent and cut through the mix or remain dark and warm. And, of course, you can adjust the overall Mix so that even a complex sounding modulated delay remains nothing more than a hint in your tone.
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