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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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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!
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!”
The Halla Custom SG fuses design aspects from…
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“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 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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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.
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.
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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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 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!
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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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.
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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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’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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Dream Theater’s guitar wizard John Petrucci has a long and very fruitful association with Music Man. Over the years, the company has released several signature models, both US-made and as part of their less-expensive Sterling brand.
Last year Ernie Ball/Music Man have released a new top-of-the-line John Petrucci signature instrument – the Music Man Majesty (Majesty was the original name of the Progressive Rock band that became Dream Theater).
The first thing that will strike you about the new package is the sensationally low weight:
When I went to pick up the Music Man Majesty for this review (from DLX Music Helsinki), I had to open the case and check, because I suspected the guitar was missing. No, it really was in there…
Music Man’s Majesty (current price in Finland approx. 3,900 €) is a modern top-drawer signature model, which conveys the artist’s clear vision of…
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When the Fender Custom Shop introduced the La Cabronita Especial in 2009, nobody would have thought that this Telecaster and Gretsch mongrel would go on to become the huge hit it is today.
The Cabronita Tele’s success can be seen in the way new, more affordable versions of the model started creeping up – first as Fender models, and now as very affordable Squier guitars. At the moment of writing there are, in fact, two Squier-versions – one with a Bigsby vibrato, and one with a hardtail bridge.
The Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita Telecaster (price in Finland approx. 300 €) is basically a hot-rodded Telecaster.
The body of the Squier Cabronita is made from a plank of several pieces of basswood, while its classic one-piece neck has been crafted from hard rock maple.
There is no separate fretboard, instead the instrument’s 22 medium jumbo frets have been…
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You could call J. Leachim Guitars Finland’s answer to Nash Guitars. Just like the American maker, JLG, too, don’t make their guitars from scratch, from the raw wood. Instead, J. Leachim assembles guitars from bought in unfinished necks and bodies, as well as parts and hardware sourced from a number of reputable sources. J. Leachim Guitars’ forte lies in their finish work, and the relicing of guitars.
J. Leachim’s main man, Jan Merivirta, supplied Kitarablogi.com with an example of his Jazzcaster model, which sports a pristine, “NOS” nitro finish.
The J. Leachim Guitars Jazzcaster (prices start from approx. 1,300 €; hard case incl.) is a very enticing mix of different classic guitars:
The Jazzcaster’s maple neck has been sourced from Northwest Guitars. It’s a Tele-style neck sporting jumbo frets, as well as a modern fretboard radius of 9.5 inches.
The Guitarbuild body has been crafted from…
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