Quantcast Ryan's Guitars: March 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

G3 Show in Nashville - Gilbert, Petrucci and Satriani!

So yesterday me, Nik and my wife hop into a rental car and take off for Nashville entirely too late because Nik was dumb enough to take only a half day off from work. That meant that he would inevitably be delayed (and he was).

So we get to Nashville with plenty of time before the show, but not enough time to go hit the guitar stores like we wanted. Plus, Nik was in charge of bringing the digital camera, which he did, but he forgot the memory card. Thanks Nik. ;) Luckily, I ran into a guy I know from the Jemsite forum named Wade (who happens to also be from Memphis). What are the odds?! His digital camera batteries were almost dead, so we pooled our resources and took his memory card and placed it in our camera so we could keep taking pictures. Worked out great!

The show started around 7:20pm, which was earlier than originally scheduled. We were there in our seats already, so it didn't affect us. Paul Gilbert opened the show with "Get Out of My Yard" and then went into "Hurry Up". He played a few more songs from "Get Out of My Yard" and then he and Bruce Bouillet started ripping some old Racer X stuff. It was awesome! Bruce Bouillet was simply incredible and played the crap out a Les Paul (of all things to use for Racer X material!) ;) Gilbert was true to form and ripped some amazing licks. His performance overall was less than I expected from an entertainment aspect, but I really do think he might not have been feeling well that night. Still, it was awesome to see him as I had never had the pleasure of watching him perform live before.

Next up was John Petrucci. All I have to say is "WOW"! Holy shit this guy is gifted. His playing was pick melting fast, but all very toneful and melodic where and when it counted. I was so impressed by his performance, and even my wife who isn't a player leaned over to tell me how beautiful John's playing was several times during his set. He started with "Jaws of Life" then went into "Glasgow Kiss". His set ended with "Damage Control". For several songs he was playing his new Music Man "Ball Family Reserve" JP guitars... some 6s and a 7 string.

Then finally Satriani came out and put on a incredible show. He played "War", "Satch Boogie", "Flying In a Blue Dream", "Super Colossal", "Circles", "Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing", "Surfing With The Alien" and "Always With Me, Always With You". I was really close to the stage when he came out and it was just so awesome to get to see this guy up close. I mean, he is one of my biggest influences... I must have listened to "Surfing with the Alien" at least ten thousand times. :) He was flawless, as usual, and seemed to be having a good night despite a mishap with his stage monitor during the early part of the first number. It was quickly replaced and the show went on without a hitch after that.

The end jam was incredible. They played "Foxy Lady", "Purple Haze", "Goin' Down", and "Jumpin' Jack Flash"... at one point with Satch on a Les Paul!!!! Gilbert did his drill thing and John played with a rubber chicken as a joke at one point. :) It was an awesome show, for sure. Afterwards we got to meet Paul Gilbert and get some photos... and also out-of-the-blue I happen to spot Mark Tremonti hanging around outside! So I snapped a photo of Nik and Mark. He was a really nice guy and I enjoyed meeting him and chatting about Alter Bridge and guitar playing.

So, despite our late start and the camera snfau, the night was a success overall. I'd do it again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Guitar!! Gretsch Power Jet Firebird

Yes!! I finally got a Gretsch. :) I have been wanting one for some time now and recently, for some reason, I was really craving a Duo Jet. So I did some research and finally decided on the Power Jet Firebird instead. Basically the same guitar with a few more appointments... and it's red. :)

The Power Jet is a single cutaway Mahogany set-necked guitar with a chambered Mahogany body. With the awesome TV Jones Power'Tron pickups the tone is unreal. I opted for the Bigsby Vibrato tremolo ('cause I love trems) and the Bigsby also has another distinct advantage on this guitar... it adds more coupling and mass to the guitar top thus increasing sustain and resonance (as compared to the fixed trapeze string retainer, which is an option on this guitar). The neck is a nice profile, (not too thick/not too thin) and it has an Ebony board with a 12" radius which is perfect for getting the action low. The 22 frets are medium jumbo and are very close to a Dunlop 6105 profile. I have it strung with D'Addario 10s, but I am considering switching to 9.5s to see if I like them on this guitar. The 10s are a tad stiff for me, but I may be able to get used to it.

The switching controls are pretty bizarre if you're not familiar with Gretsch. First, there are no tone knobs. Tone is controlled via a three-way switch on the top bout, and (looking down at the guitar in playing position) to the left of the Tone Switch is the three-way Pickup Switch. The knob on the lower bout at the cutaway is the Master Volume and the two knobs on the lower bottom are individual pickup Volume Knobs. The Tone Switch works very well, surprisingly. In the middle position (called pos. 1) the switch is "on" or the equivalent of your Tone Knob on 10. The switch in the down position (called pos. 2) is like having your Tone Knob rolled off slightly... and the up position (pos. 3) is a more aggressive Tone Knob setting similar to it being turned almost all the way down. Very effective feature and much faster than having to use a knob to dial in these settings. Otherwise, the rest of the controls are pretty straightforward.

In my next post I'll detail what I had to do to get all the factory "new-ness" off the guitar and what I had to do to set it up. Not an easy task if you've never done a setup on a Gretsch before. ;) But for now let's just say I have it setup like a speed demon and this thing kicks ass! Super low action, good tuning stability (which will get better as all the new parts begin to settle) and even the Bigsby works beautifully without going out of tune. I still have more to learn about fine tuning Bigsbys and stabilizing floating Gretsch bridges (more on that in my follow-up post to come).

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this guitar and it fills a big gap in my collection. The tone is incredible, fit and finish much better than I expected, good fretwork and a beautifully shaped bone nut! I'm not going to be able to put this thing down for a long time. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New CryBaby Wah - Zakk Wylde

I have been needing a wah pedal for my computer-based recording device (Line 6 TonePort UX2). My sales guy at Guitar Center (Devin) convinced me to get the Wylde CryBaby. At first I was skeptical, but once I got it home and heard it on my gear I really love it! I like Zakk Wylde, but I can't say he is my favorite guitarist, so this decision was based purely on Devin's recommendation. He was right. This wah has an insane sweep. I like a powerful wah pedal... one that you know is on when you're using it and this one has it in spades.

If you like a strong wah wah, I highly recommend this one.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New pickups for Deluxe Strat

I was playing my Deluxe Strat recently and finally decided to replace my OEM middle and neck Noiseless pickups with some DiMarzio stacked singles. I got the Virtual Vintage Blues pickups, and they are quite nice. Very good tone and output balance in combo with the DiMarzio Fast Track 2 bridge pickup I put in there when I got the guitar years ago.

I wish I had done this sooner because now I can switch pickups on higher gain patches and keep a consistent tone and volume while playing. The original SCS Noiseless pickups are nice, but they were very bright and had pretty low output. And, to boot, they couldn't be adjusted too closely to the strings without exerting the dreaded magnetic pull that causes loss of sustain and "warbling" notes. The DiMarzios, on the other hand, have low magnetic pull and lots of output. They are a little less bright and sound very full and "mean". Just what I like. ;)