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November 2015

Review: Carvin Belair 212 Tube Amp

Carvin Belair 212
Me and my Carvin Belair 212.

I’m reviewing this amp because I’m moving to the city, and I just plugged it in for an hour with my American Tele before it went into storage. If any of you follow me at all, you know that I’m all about my 20-50W combo amps. For 95% of the shows I play, I really don’t need anything heftier than that. Most bigger venues I’ve played mic up the guitar amps, so in my own experience anything bigger than 50 watts is pretty much deadweight..  Anyway, I’ve been holding on to my Belair for several years now and it has reared its crunchy ass on almost every album I’ve played on in some form, and for one reason – it is the most classic sounding vintage tube amp I’ve ever played. That picture above is a Logan’s Run promo shot, so I probably bought it in 2012. The Belair is basically the same thing is a Nomad but with two speakers instead of one. This guy comes stock with four EL84 tubes a la Vox AC30,. It has 2 channels – clean and soak. The clean channel is super clean… maybe too much so for my taste. I almost always use the soak channel – even when I’m playing clean parts – and I just dial it up to get more crunch. At higher volumes and with the crunch past 5, it gets monster lead breakup. I bought my Belair with a busted reverb, and Carvin outsourced the tank to a Korean company of which I forgot the name (I’ve always used reverb and delay pedals anyway and have been too lazy/broke to have it replaced). Maybe one of these days…

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The World Is A Beautiful Place’s ‘Harmlessness’ is a breath of fresh air.

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I’m No Longer Afraid To Die. “What a dumb name,” I told my brother, who first showed me these guys years ago. And yet it was a name that I never forgot. I really can’t believe how much press these guys are getting.. they deserve every ounce of it. When I was in school up in Willimantic, the running joke was that the only artists to ever make it out of that God-awful place were Apathy and TWIAP.. Never would have guessed how big these guys would blow up a few years later. I’m really digging this LP as a follow up to Between Bodies – cleaner vocals, crisper tones. Pitchfork gave it a 7.9. I’m gonna give it the solid 8. Check it out here.

Closure by Logan's RunLogan’s Run limited ‘Closure’ tapes now available at http://logansrun.tk

 

Only about 25 left. Get ’em while they’re hot!

Review: Squier Tom Delonge Stratocaster

Squier Tom Delonge Signature Strat
Squier Tom Delonge Signature Strat

I first became acquainted with this guitar when in 1999. My brother Justin and I snuck out of bed and watched the video for “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink 182 on VH1’s Top 20 Countdown. Here’s a shot of Mark, Tom and Travis naked:

What's My Age Again
“What’s My Age Again?” by Blink 182

Delonge’s iconic guitar was a single pot Strat with one humbucker, usually in surf green. That’s the Fender model in the photo, but the Squier is almost identical. Delonge’s Fenders held either a black or white Seymour Duncan SH-8 Invader, while the Squier houses a Duncan Design Detonator. I’ve been pretty prejudiced toward Duncan Design pickups in the past but the Detonator sounds pretty much spot on like an Invader for $30.

I routinely use my Squier Delonge as a backup for rock gigs.. Here are some of my modifications:

  • re-shielded the pickup cavity
  • replaced the stock machines with Schaller M6 locking tuners
  • new 250k pot
  • new hardware, strap locks & speed knob
  • Switchcraft input jack, flipped inside out (because Fender’s recessed jacks kill my 1/4″ cables)

The style of playing that I use this guitar for lends itself to me using a lot of downstrokes and palm-muting.. The knob is super close to the bridge and I found that I was turning down the volume while I played. So to increase the resistance, I fit a rubber gasket between the knob and the pot.. Problem solved.

The Squier has a super fast maple neck and light, alder body. The Detonator is high output and perfect for ’90s punk rock. But with no tone control, is kind of single-faceted. To be fair, if you’re playing ’90s punk rock, you probably don’t need a tone knob.

Fall Fest 2015 at Purchase College

Fall Fest at Purchase College
Fall Fest at Purchase College

Hey Purch students, put your student activities fee to use and catch some music at The Stood tonight! The PSGA is bringing some dope bands in for Fall Fest 2015 – headliners include rapper Mick Jenkins, Syracuse punks Perfect Pussy and twinkly, Brooklyn-based A Great Big Pile of Leaves (signed to my current favorite roster, Topshelf Records). I’ve seen these guys before and can vouch for a good live show. Music will run from 5pm until 2am, don’t miss it.

Review: Zoom G1Xon Multi-effects Pedal

Zoom G1Xon Multi-effects Pedal
Zoom G1Xon Multi-effects Pedal

The G1Xon by Zoom is a multi-effects processor featuring an expression pedal that can be assigned to a number of settings. Overall, at around 9 inches long, and 5 inches wide, it is a compact piece of gear to either stand alone or compliment an arsenal.

The processor itself runs 24-bit, so although not the smoothest, the tones that it can produce are very clear. One thing I particularly enjoy is the wide variety of effects available, and the ability to use 5 at a time on a single bank.

One of my favorite presets, called “Museum”, is a heavily distorted, solid state rectifier, with a whammy pedal on the end for harmonic pitch bending. Sounds like this can be found in a lot of different styles of music, and this tone in particular is very versatile.

One thing that could be improved upon is the design of the processor. Although it feels sturdy, the fact that the faceplate itself is molded plastic does give a bit of a cheap feel. An aluminum face would fix this, and would not be too much more money.

Overall, for $70, I definitely think this pedal is worth owning, and is a step ahead of it’s competitors. Pick one up from Sweetwater here.

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