Author Archives: martinberka

Review: Ogre Magnox-M1

MM 2015 – Ogre all-magnesium guitars

There was this strange booth at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2015 that had everybody stop and take notice:

A company called Ogre displayed a variety of very goth-looking effect pedals, but the real show-stopper was a medieval-looking electric guitar made completely out of magnesium alloy, called the Magnox-M1.

Thanks to Finnish distributor R-Jam Group we were able to take a closer look at this intriguing new concept.


Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – full front LRG

The all-metal Ogre Magnox-M1 (current price in Finland: 1,399 €) truly is a sight to behold. It isn’t often you get to see an instrument that looks like old metal, and which features beautiful rose-and-thorns reliefs on its body.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – full front LRG

The twin-cutaway Ogre Magnox-M1 has a scale of 25.5 inches (64.8 cm), and its thin body is partly hollow.

Our two review instruments both come with a pair of humbuckers, but there’s also an HSS-loaded Magnox-M1 available.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – full back LRG

The back of the body sports a deep ribcage bevel.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – full back LRG

The output jack sits in its own recess.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – headstock

The top nut is also made from magnesium alloy. Even though it looks a bit like a locking nut, the strings aren’t locked.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – tuners

Ogre go for top-drawer quality in the tuner department by using Sperzel locking tuners equipped with Ogre’s own metal tuner buttons.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – fretboard

The pewter-coloured Magnox-M1 sports black dot markers.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – fretboard

The position markers on the bronze-coloured Ogre are golden.

The Magnox comes with 22 medium jumbo frets.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – neck joint

Ogre’s neck joint is very smooth, so you can widdle your way up to the dusty end with ease.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – bridge

The wraparound bridge is Ogre’s own design, its base cast from the same metal alloy as the rest of the guitar.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – pickups

Twin-humbucker equipped Magnox-M1 models are available with two different sets of pickups:

In our case, the pewter Ogre sports a pair of the company’s own PAF-style ‘buckers.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – pickups

The bronze-coloured Magnox comes with a Seymour Duncan ’59 at the neck, and a JB model at the bridge.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – controls

These Ogres are equipped with a three-way toggle switch, as well as master volume and tone controls. There’s a push/pull-switch hidden in the master tone control, which allows you to split the humbuckers for singlecoil tones.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – control cavity

A close look under the hood reveals quality parts and clean workmanship.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – cases

A fancy graphite-composite hard case is included in the price.


Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – back beauty

Thanks to its semi-hollow body the Ogre Magnox-M1 only weighs a very comfortable 3.8 kg. Despite the fact that the neck and fingerboard are not hollowed out, the M1 stays perfectly balanced .

Ogre’s expertise in the finishing department is really something else:

Both guitars look old, rusty, and oxidised, and some parts even look coarse and scratched, but this is all a very cool illusion conjured up by the excellent finishing job. In reality the Magnox-M1 feels very smooth and friendly, even if it’s a tad cool when pulled out of its case. The only things that are real are the beautiful reliefs on the front and back of the body (as well as on the control cavity lid), all other dings and scratches are an optical effect.

In my opinion Ogre’s not-too-chunky C-profiled neck feels really great. The fretwork is excellent, and the fretboard’s edges are comfortably smooth.

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – body beauty 1

Ogre’s own PAF-style humbuckers have a very dynamic, crisp and open sound, thanks to their moderate output levels. The split-coil settings sound remarkably Fender-like.

The sound clips both feature the split humbuckers first, followed by the full humbucker settings, both starting with the neck pickup:

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – body beauty 2 from PS

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – body beauty 1

The Seymour Duncan set is higher in output, and the sounds have a fatter mid-range character. Played into a clean channel, the bridge humbucker can sound a bit honky at times, but using crunchy settings will make the JB model rock even harder than the Ogre bridge humbucker.

The sound clips both feature the split humbuckers first, followed by the full humbucker settings, both starting with the neck pickup:

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – body beauty 2

Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – beauty shot 1

The demo track features the pewter-hued Magnox-M1 exclusively for the first half, while all the guitar tracks in the second half have been played on the bronze Ogre model.

• rhythm guitars (split pickups) – left channel: both pickups, right channel: bridge pickup

• lead guitar – full neck humbucker

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – beauty shot 2


Ogre Magnox-M1 – S – beauty shot 2

The Ogre Magnox-M1 is a very fine electric guitar, which offers a viable alternative to traditional wooden instruments. I really like the visual design of these guitars, too, but some might disagree. The best thing about the Magnox-M1 guitars, though, is the great sound they make. These are very inspiring instruments, indeed!

Ogre Magnox-M1 – B – beauty shot 1


Ogre Magnox-M1

1.399 €

Finnish distributor: R-JAM Group



+ cool design

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ different pickup options available

+ sound


Review: Digitech Trio – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog


We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s a Wednesday evening, and you want to jam; but the drummer’s at the hairdresser’s and the bassist has to babysit all evening long.

So what do you do? You get bored to tears sitting on the sofa with your fingers widdling away idly on your favourite couch guitar…

Actually, now there’s a better, much more creative way to spend your spare time – Digitech’s brand-new Trio Band Creator pedal lets you jam and work on new song ideas by supplying an indefatigable rhythm-section-in-a-box.


Digitech Trio full front

The Digitech Trio (current street price in Finland approx. 240 €) uses a learn function that detects the chord changes (and tempo) of a part straight off your guitar’s audio signal. There’s no need for complicated step-by-step programming or an expensive (and fiddly) MIDI-pickup – just plug in your guitar lead, and you’re ready to go.


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Review: Markbass Mini CMD 121P + CMD Jeff Berlin Players School – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

This time takes a look at two different Markbass bass combos – one is already a bona fide classic, while the other is a brand new, affordably-priced signature model.


Markbass Mini CMD 121P – front

The Markbass Mini CMD 121P (current price in Finland: 799 €) is one of the company’s best-selling combos, as it manages to put all of Markbass’ trademark features into a compact, hard-to-beat package.

The Mini CMD 121P comes loaded with a lightweight, but powerful 12-inch neodymium speaker with Markbass’ cool yellow cone, as well as a piezo tweeter in the top right corner.

Markbass Mini CMD 121P – back

The back-ported cabinet is covered in a hard-wearing carpet style exterior, and comes equipped with sturdy plastic corner protectors.

Markbass Mini CMD 121P – top

The whole combo measures only 38 x 43 x 36 centimetres (w x h x d) and weighs in at just above 13 kilos, which makes it easy to carry around by its single top…

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Review: DV Mark Little Jazz + Jazz 12 – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

DV Mark Little Jazz + Jazz 12 – Soundcloud pic

Marco de Virgiliis’ company Markbass has made its mark spearheading the use of Class D power amps, which have made it possible to pack an amazing amount of output power into very small and lightweight bass amp heads. Markbass’ sister brand, DV Mark, concentrates on guitar amps, for the most part.

Markbass and DV Mark have recently changed their distributor in Finland. Their products are now distributed by Musamaailma, which celebrates its 30th year in business in 2015.

The combos in DV Mark’s Jazz series – the DV Little Jazz  (current price in Finland:393 €) and the DV Jazz 12 (462 €) – are very lightweight guitar amps, meant for professional use, and designed to concentrate solely on one thing – a top grade clean tone.



The DV Little Jazz is a surprisingly small combo in the shape of a cube…

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Review: Halla Custom Instruments SG-Style – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Halla Custom SG – body beauty reverse

Halla Custom Instruments is one of a number of cool small instrument makers in Finland. The company is run by trained luthier-artisan Ville Mattila and specialises in one-off custom electric and acoustic string instruments. Ville Mattila is a member of the Guild of Finnish Luthiers.

Kitarablogi received a stunning Halla Custom electric for testing. The guitar may look like a tribute to the Gibson SG, but there’s more to this Halla than meets the eye!


Halla Custom SG – full front

Just looking at the Halla Custom SG (price approximately 3,000 €) I had to catch my breath. This is a turquoise bombshell of a guitar, with a healthy dose of additional glitz added by the golden hardware.

But the fantastic paint job (using very hard acrylic lacquer) is only part of the story: “It’s an SG, Jim, but not as we know it!”

Halla Custom SG – back beauty

The Halla Custom SG fuses design aspects from…

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Review: Fender American Standard Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Fender Am Std Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker – in case

What – yet another Stratocaster model!? Who needs another Strat? Yeah, man, I’ve noticed there’s a ‘bucker at the bridge position, but that’s been done before, hasn’t it!

True, but this is a new American Standard model you should definitely try out, because the guys at Fender R&D have come up with a couple of nifty improvements that haven’t bee available on HSS-Strats thus far.

Fender Am Std Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker – The Shawbucker

A Shaw-what?

Fender calls its newest bridge humbucker the Shawbucker in honour of the man who designed it, Tim Shaw. Mr Shaw is a genuine living legend, and held in high esteem amongst people in the know. In the 1970s and 80s he worked for Gibson, and helped to turn around the company’s flagging fortunes and decline in quality. As the resident electronic guru he played a pivotal role during the design of models, such as the Gibson Les Paul Heritage…

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Review: Blackstar ID:Core BEAM – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – front

Blackstar’s ID:Core BEAM (current price in Finland: 299 €), which was introduced at this year’s NAMM Show, is one of a new breed of amplifiers:

The BEAM is a so-called “lifestyle amp” that combines a practical solution for living room practising with a Bluetooth stereo system with a suitable Rock look.


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – angle right

The Blackstar ID:Core BEAM is a genuine ID:Core-combo, which means that all its parameters are accessible via Blackstar’s Insider software.

The newcomer is a stereophonic amp with its 20 watts of power running into a pair of three-inch speakers. Blackstar’s Super Wide Stereo-effect – a feature taken from the company’s larger ID:Core combos – can also be applied to the BEAM’s music player, with its own, separate width adjustment.

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – back

Apart from the power switch, the ID:Core BEAM’s back panel features the input jack for the (optional) footswitch. The rest of the combo’s controls and…

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Review: Carvin MicroBass MB 10 – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel

Carvin’s series of extremely compact MicroBass bass combos is built using the company’s lightweight BX 250 MicroBass amplifier sunk into four differently-sized speaker cabinets. Thanks to some clever design work – as well as lightweight modern bass speakers – even the largest of the MicroBass-combos, the MB210 (equipped with two 10-inch speakers and a horn tweeter), only weighs 16 kilos.

Kitarablogi received the smallest member of the MicroBass-family for testing. The MB10 is small enough to take with you on public transport, should the need ever arise.


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view

Carvin MicroBass MB10 (current price in Finland: 577 €) is compactness incarnate:

The combo’s dimensions are only 47 x 33 x 28 cm (h/w/d), and it weighs in at just below 12 kilos!

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – side view

Despite its diminutive size the Carvin’s build is roadworthy and sturdy.

The 10-inch speaker and the horn tweeter are safely tucked away behind a chunky metal grille.

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Review: Morley M2 Wah, M2 Wah Volume + M2 Passive Volume – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Morley M2 – group shot – final

US brand Morley are best known for their pro-quality wahs and volume pedals that many players – like Steve Vai, George Lynch and Mark Tremonti – rely on in their setups. Morley’s original series uses electro-optical electronics, instead of traditional potentiometres. The big advantage in going electro-optical lies in the fact that such a pedal won’t ever become scratchy or intermittent, because there is no mechanical control pot to wear out or become dirty.

There are quite a few guitarists, though, which – for some reason or other – prefer the “feel” and “sound” of a mechanically controlled pedal to that of an electro-optical one. Morley’s new M2-series is a nod to the more traditional players.

Morley M2 Wah Volume – nylon string

Nevertheless, Morley still likes to do things their own way, which is why the company has come up with a different type of mechanical control for their M2-pedals:

Traditional pedals (and their descendants) use…

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Review: Yamaha LL6 ARE – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

Yamaha LL6 ARE – label

Yamaha has recently upgraded its very successful L-Series of steel-string guitars.

The most important update, at least in terms of sound quality, is the use of A.R.E.-treated spruce tops across the whole range of models. Yamaha’s proprietary Acoustic Resonance Enhancement is a wood treatment that uses heat, changes in humidity and pressure, to artificially age tonewoods. The aim is to produce brand-new acoustic instruments, which sound played-in from the get-go.

L-Series guitars come in three body sizes – LJ (Medium Jumbo), LS (Small Body = Folk-sized) and LL (Original Jumbo = Dreadnought-sized).

Kitarablogi had the pleasure to take a Yamaha LL6 ARE (current price in Finland:534,90 €) for a spin.


Yamaha LL66 ARE – full front – large

Yamaha’s Original Jumbo body style is the company’s own design, set apart from a traditional Dreadnought by its slimmer shoulders and its more rounded lower bout. The result looks nicely balanced.

Yamaha uses solid Engelmann spruce

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