Thursday, April 23, 2015

D'Addario NS Micro clip-on Tuner Review

The importance of having your guitar in tune can't be overstated. If your out of tune nothing sounds right. Lucky for us there are a plethora of tuners out there, they are on your phone, pedalboard, and over the last few years small headstock tuners have become very popular. I have a TC Electronic Polytune on my board and but I don't always plug in when I'm just running some scales or practicing a technique. I had a tuner on my phone but when a friend showed me his headstock tuner it just seemed so easy and practical. So I picked up the D'Addario NS Micro Tuner 2 pack

These things are tiny, and packed with features. On top of that they are very user friendly. It can be mounted a variety of ways and adjusted to make it easier to read. They are chromatic meaning they can read any note, this is important because I use different tunings at times and I can't stand tuners that only recognize the 6 strings in standard tuning. The lights change color depending on how close you are. Green is dead on while yellow and red means your getting away from being in tune, pretty simple. You can see the mounts in this picture and they are very easy to use, the tuner itself can swivel or be taken off and mounted on the D'Addario Artist Capo which I've found pretty helpful. There is also a blinking metronome. Like I said lots of features. Plus with the 2 pack one stays on my main guitar and the other on my Artist Capo.

The tuners are very accurate and fairly quick.  They are small enough you can leave them on the guitar when you place your guitar in a case or gig bag. I was wondering how well I'd be able to see these tuners on my guitars that had tilt back headstocks but it's not a problem at all. In comparison to other headstock tuners one thing I really like is that the clips don't leave a mark on your guitar. A friend of mine left another brands tuner on the headstock of his guitar and it left an indent on the finish! These will not do that. Also the battery in these things are a standard battery similar to what is in a key fob. 

So how does it compare to the TC Polytune? Well I don't have to pull out my pedalboard if I want to tune my guitar but the Polytune is faster, we're talking slightly here but it is noticeable. Also the NS tuner is not great with down tunings. Lately I've been tuning one of my guitars down to Drop B  and the NS tuners seems to struggle with anything under D. But there is a work around, simply fret at the 12th and the tuner works fine. Also I personally find the blinking metronome worthless. I tried it but I miss the clicking sound. Once again not a big deal I just don't use it.  These things are not big issues, I'm sure as the technology gets better these things will be addressed. If your looking for an easy to use tuner check out the NS Microtuners from D'Addario.

This review was completely unsolicited and any opinion is my own. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Aftershock Designs Hybrid Iso Enclosure

File this under things I don't need but think are a great idea. I've never heard of Aftershock Designs but I was looking around at custom 4x12 builders and found them. Aftershock Designs has a hybrid guitar cabinet that looks like a 4x12 but has 2x12 and an 1x12 IsoCab built in! IsoCabs are great for low level recording, but also for controlling the quality of the sound on stage. You get a more consistent sound from stage to stage so mixing becomes easier. This is a fantastic idea for guys playing clubs, outdoor festivals, and even the P&W crowd. It's almost like going direct except it's still your amp sound and you can set up your microphone the way YOU like it.  

Here is a direct link to the Hybrid Iso Enclosure page but check out some of their other options, including custom toltex and paint, grill cloth, and even LED's. 

Just for the record this is not a sponsored post. I just saw it and thought it was a great idea. Plus it looks like these guys do some very cool stuff for those of us that want something a little different. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The ADHD Tweak Fuzz Review

If you have never listened to Blues Saraceno (yes Blues is his real name) you have no idea what your missing. Blues broke out of the late 80's early 90's shred scene and gets lumped in with a lot of those guys but Blues has a groove to his playing that a lot of his technical peers didn't. While he can shred with the best of them, he also has an amazing feel and swing and boat loads of tasty chops. These days he focuses his efforts on selling songs for commercials and video games. But he and his father also have a company named Dirty Boy Pedals. Mostly these are small batch boutique pedals built to extremely exacting tolerances. A while back Seymour Duncan approached Blues with the idea of taking one of his Afro Fuzz pedals and doing a less expensive mass produced version.

The circuit of the Tweak Fuzz is essentially a silicone fuzz face but with an added six position tone switch that changes the overall character of the fuzz. The six position tone knob doesn't just roll of the highs but also cuts low frequencies making the Tweak Fuzz sound like several different fuzzes. You can go from full on crazy over the top doom metal fuzz face sounds to LoFi AM transistor radio sounds. Add to that the re-activity with your volume and tone knobs and you have a lot of sounds available to you. It pairs well with low output humbuckers as well as single coils.
Seymour Duncan Tweak Fuzz
So lets talk about some of the bad reviews I've seen. 1) It doesn't deal well with buffers... well most fuzz face based pedals don't. 2) the Volume knob doesn't have a boost, unity is at full on volume...  yes some people don't like that but old school fuzz faces were built that way. 3) it sounds awful and thin or basey.... this is a beginner complaint, the thing about most fuzz face clones is that they need to be driven hard through a cranked amp to sound good. 4) My extra special boutique fuzz sounds better... well yeah I'm sure it does, but who cares you can pick this thing for next to nothing on the used market, seriously check Reverb or Ebay and you'll find them for $30.

I've talked about my Mojo Hand Fx Zephyr Fuzz before and it is my main fuzz but if I need something with more edge or a LoFi type sound the Tweak Fuzz is what I use. It doesn't stay on my board but it does make an appearance at times when I need to push myself or just need to experiment with some crazy sounds.  It really is worth putting the time in to find the sounds in this crazy pedal. Other versatile fuzzy pedals include the Zvex Fuzz Factory and the Way Huge Swollen Pickle but know that these are based on the Muff circuit and are completely different animals than the fuzz face.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Andy Timmons on That Pedal Show

So you guys know what a huge fan of Andy Timmons I am. Daniel at The Gig Rig has started a youtube series called That Pedal Show and his latest installment features Andy Timmons talking about his current state of experimentation. Check it out below

One of the most interesting things to me in this video is that in the beginning he uses the Lonestar's lead sound and then later he uses a Keeley modded Boss Blues Driver, and he sounds almost the same! There are some subtle differences but it really proves the statement Tone is in the Hands. For more about getting Andy's sound check out my post HERE, and for more about my thoughts on the Lonestar my review is HERE. Also give Daniel a follow on youtube as he is a very interesting guy with some serious tone clout.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Changes in the Wind

photo credit: @WyldeAudio
What is going on? The other day I posted here about Zakk Wylde and Wylde Audio his new guitar and amp company. They are posting new pics on their twitter page everyday so I grabbed this interesting pic they are calling the Odin. There is also a new pic of a Flying V. We still don't know the whole story. Is this a whole new company? Is Father Wylde doing with Epiphone and Gibson what Mr. Van Halen is doing with Fender and the EVH brand? This remains to be seen but I'm still kind of excited about it. Especially that they are doing an amp. I love a great sounding 800 head.

Next I get an email from Carvin Guitars about some high end re-branding. Here is the Press release.

"Carvin Corporation announces the formation of a new and separate company, Kiesel Guitars / Carvin Guitars, which will take control of the guitar and bass manufacturing and sales of all instruments and related parts and accessories, effective Feb 1, 2015. Kiesel Guitars / Carvin Guitars owners Mark Kiesel and Jeff Kiesel formed this new company so they can focus exclusively on the advancement of instruments. Mark Kiesel has led the guitar and bass division of Carvin since 1970 and will continue to lead the new company as president. Jeff Kiesel brings industry leading designs and advancements in construction and quality to the Custom Shop. The instruments will continue to be produced in the USA at the same facility. 

Carvin Corporation's focus will now be exclusively on our passion for pro audio and instrument amplifiers under the brands Carvin Audio and Carvin Amplifiers. We will continue to provide our customers with industry leading products and customer support. Carvin Corporation will continue to design and manufacture its products in San Diego, California, USA with its team of top engineers and staff of musicians under the direction of the Kiesel family; Carson, Joel and Kristen."

So now it seems you'll be able to order a Carvin Guitar or a higher end Kiesel Guitar with more complexity and better woods and finishes. hmmm ok, not sure I see the point of it but really not a big deal. The founder of Carvin was Lowell Kiesel, and Mark and Jeff Kiesel have run the Carvin Custom Guitar shop for many years. Carvin pro audio and Guitar Amps will still be Carvin. Ok got it, if you want a really nice Carvin you order a Kiesel. (And Jeff Kiesel has been doing some cool looking stuff lately).

Anything else confusing out there? Well here is a pic of Dave Navarro playing a copy of the David Gilmour Black Strat!!! That's not his normal gear!

If I pickup on any more interesting stories this week from NAMM 2015 I'll be sure to talk about them here or at least retweet them at @ADHDguitarist so follow me there.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Introducing Wylde Audio

What in Odin's name is going on?!?!?  A friend of mine noticed in Gibson's roll out at the end of last year that the Zakk Wylde Signature Les Paul seemed to be no more. I've also noticed that recently Epiphone has pulled any Zakk Wylde guitars as well. I just looked at all the big box retailers to find that there are NO Zakk Wylde Signature guitars!!! How can one of the most iconic guitarist in the business not have a signature guitar? Apparently Mr. Zakk Wylde has pulled some partners together to introduce Wylde Audio.

photo credit:@WyldeAudio
There are some guys out there that don't seem to like Zakk's larger than life persona or his blazing riffs and low end pitch harmonics. But I've seen this guy play piano parts on his acoustic (that was a mind blowing and mind expanding moment for me). He can play Al Di Meola style jazz fusion, he can easily cover the greats like Randy Rhoads and Jake E Lee as we all saw with his former employer and friend Ozzy Osborne. Oh yeah and he can chicken pick country riffs till the cows come home. But blazing riffs and low end pitch harmonics is where the money is at for Zakk and why fix what ain't broke. Personally I've always dug Zakk's playing. I love that he respects other guitar players playing. And that he is actively always working at getting better. 

Meeting Zakk Wylde pre-viking-beard
I've gotten to meet the guy on several occasions and he was always very cool and laid back. This is a pic of me meeting the boss man around '97. It was after the criminally underrated Book of Shadows album and before Black Label Society. In fact he told me at this meeting that "everyone keeps asking me when I'm gonna do some real heavy stuff, so that's what I'm working on next, this stuff is going to blow everyone away". Since then I've seen him play live several times with the crowds getting bigger and crazier every time. 

So what's Wylde Audio all about? I don't know exactly. I'm hoping it's Zakk's version of the EVH line. Quality amps and instruments at mostly reasonable prices with a few USA models to keep the gear snobs happy. There's not a lot of information yet but there is a sign up page at and also a twitter page that has a few pics on it. So make sure you check them out. In the mean time it looks like I'll be changing the ADHD Zakk Wylde Gear Guide soon!