Seemingly out of nowhere, it looks like Rage Against The Machine will be making a comeback in 2020 with a handful of live shows. While no comment has come yet from the members, a close associate has confirmed the news. All of this comes after an Instagram account for the band popped up and announced the following shows:
Hopefully the band members confirm soon because this is huge news for music fans in the USA!
Some of these we’ll review, some I will beg the companies to let me review!
Ernie Ball Music Man Mariposa
Another off kilter design from Music Man, the Mariposa is a signature model for Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta. Ernie Ball Music Man is slowly becoming one of the best signature model designers on the guitar market, as well as one of the most forward thinking builders out there. The Mariposa comes loaded with two humbuckers that are designed to retain clarity, even at the highest gain settings, and can be outfitted with gold or chrome hardware. Schaller locking tunings, a one of a kind body shape, and a tethered tone circuit wrap up this beauty into one ultra-playable beast.
PRS SE One
Sadly re-released only in Europe for the time being, the PRS SE One is their ultra playable take on the Les Paul Junior design. The LP Junior has always been one of my top 2 guitar designs of all time, mostly because of Mick Jones, but also because of how simple it is. It’s hard to mess up a resonant piece of wood, six strings, and a noisy pickup. Sure, maybe I’m cheating because this isn’t new, but it’s out new right now, and I want one!
Reverend Sensei RT LE
I just posted about these sparkling double cuts the other day, but they are no doubt one of the most eye catching guitars on the market right now. I’ve wanted a Sensei since I first saw one of the LP Junior-style models pop up on YouTube. Now that they’ve added their take on Filtertron pickups and a bigsby to the mix, I had to talk myself out of buying one several times. This is a must try guitar from one of the most underrated companies out there!
Xaviere Pro 845 Series
Another repeat, I’m actually very excited to say I’ll have a review of these up on Guitars For Idiots and Ultimate-Guitar very soon! For those of you who are more budget minded, this guitar has uncompromising quality for a sub-$300 price. With four finish options, and your choice of a Rosewood or Maple neck on each, you will find no shortage of inspiring designs. Plus, those GFS Golf Foil Humbucking pickups are an almost perfect marriage of single coil brightness and humbucking output and quietness.
Island Instruments Galo
Based on the Danelectro Dano Pro and the Fender Jaguar, this short scale monster can come with 3 single coils, 2 humbuckers, or 2 Jazzmaster-style pickups. With a Hipshot bridge and Descendant vibrato, this ultra playable guitar should provide a myriad of retro sounds. Not only does the guitar look unique, but it is one of the few, really high quality re-makes of a classic Dano design. Engineered for ultra-playability and versatility, you won’t find a more retro looking guitar than this.
Cost: $1499.00 street, prices may vary so check Reverb.com before you buy! When purchased new you do get a lifetime labor warranty however!
How it Works and Final Score: 8.3
Devilcat Amplifier’s Jimmy is a 50 watt tube combo amp that is huge in stature and sound. Jimmy is somewhere between a 3 and 4 channel amp, with 3 true channels labeled “dirt”, “clean”, and “overdrive”. However, with the included foot pedal, you can kick on the “dirt” channel as a boost for both the clean and drive channels, giving it 4 distinct sounds. You do get some nice extras like a true spring reverb and an effects loop, but I have to say the first thing you’ll notice is how large and heavy this is for a 1×12 amplifier. Other features include an external speaker out that can be set to 4 or 8 ohms, a Celestian Vintage 30 speaker. You’ll find 5 12AX7’s, a 12AT7 phase inverter, and 2 6L6’s giving you huge tube amp tone.
The highlight of the Jimmy has to be the tones you can coax out of it. It’s both straightforward and varied in how it can be used. If you’re a simple guitar into amp rocker, just keep the overdrive channel on and use the pedal to click on thick walls of “dirt” channel boost. That’s where this amp may be most practical, as the 50 watts is loud and built for live settings. Don’t let the vast number of knobs confuse you, it’s really an easy amp to use and produces everything from warm, vintage overdrives to more modern, saturated distortion. It really can be quite diverse, it all just depends what you need the amp for.
While I think the amp is more practical for live use and earns a living through the overdriven sounds, don’t sleep on this clean channel! In some ways, the heavy and bulky size of the amp may make it best suited to be left in a studio, even if the tones and volume are more suited for the live stage. When you pull out the master volume switch, you activate the “bright” mode, giving the amp more of a chime, especially useful at lower volumes to add character to your sound.
The huge number of knobs present are actually all simple to use. It’s literally just basic EQ for the clean and drive channels, gain control for the “dirt” channel, and master volume and reverb. You can get a huge number of sounds from shimmering cleans to warm jazz tones and modern distortion sounds. The clarity and crispness in the clean channel is phenomenal, and as you increase the volume and push the tubes, you get amazing touch response. The 6L6 tubes give it a very American, almost cranked Fender sound that was really inspiring.
Construction & Reliability: 8
I debated going higher or lower here a lot, and I’ll try to explain my reasoning without being too repetitive. The construction of the amp has some premium highlights, the effects loop and speaker out included. Furthermore, the finish is just killer, I mean that ’57 color scheme draws eyes and screams vintage American tone. Lastly, the build quality is top notch, there isn’t a lot of excess noise, nothing sounds loose, the amp just seems built to last! But it’s so damn heavy for an amp that only has one speaker…It’s listed at 68 pounds, but I have an almost 68 pound dog that was way easier to pick up than this thing. The sonic options are superb, but I’m not sure I’d realistically want to lug this thing from venue to venue, and it’s tone wouldn’t get the face time it deserves locked in a studio. Not a big deal, but honestly something to consider for picker players, especially at this price range of $700 (used) to $1000+.
Even though this amplifier is in the higher price points, you just get so many sonic choices with it. It’s really a good value overall, and that’s coming from someone who thinks the best amp ever costs $800. No matter how hard it is to move Jimmy around, the tones are awesome. Plain and simple, if you can afford it and need a big volume tube amp, the Jimmy has got to be one of the top choices out there. Especially if you get it in that ’57 finish, I’m sad to see it go back to its rightful home!
Just this morning, Reverend Guitars shared the release of probably the most beautiful guitar’s I’ve ever seen. Their latest limited edition Fall release is their popular Sensei RT model but with an intriguing palette of sparkle colors. Shown above is the stunning lime finish, but you can also get this rocker in purple, black, orange, and aqua!
The Sensei RT comes loaded with Reverend’s Revtron Mini humbuckers, their take on that classic Gretsch/Toaster Top jangle. These sparkling Sensei’s also feature a Bigsby paired to their signature Soft Touch Spring system, providing the ultimate tremolo experience. Other features to know about include the locking tuners, set-in neck, and ultra-light Korina body! Check out some more of the finish options below! Head over to their website to find your own Reverend today and learn more about their many great models!
Cost: $1099.00 but price varies depending on specs of each Ashlee made, search for one on Reverb or visit CMGguitars.com to find your own!
Overview and Final Score: 9.25
The CMG Ashlee is probably the nicest guitar I’ve had sent to me to date, and I doubt it would disappoint any of you! The model I was sent has a few specific changes from the standard Ashlee model but generally, the specs are as follows…Available in 15 standard colors, you can also custom order the finish of your dreams through CMG’s website. The Ashlee features masked binding, which lets you see more of the wood’s natural finish and a deeper cut horn that they refer to as the E bend cut, this lets you bend a whole step up even on that last fret.
The body and neck are made of Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard that sits atop the set-in neck. The top of the guitar is Arched Maple, and the guitar comes standard with Frog Dog humbuckers, but you can choose DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan add ons. A tune-o-matic style bridge, Grover tuners, and nitrocellulose gloss finish round out this 24.75 scale length beauty.
CMG’s Ashlee is best described as loud, especially thanks to (purposely) heavy body on the guitar I was sent. The guitar is rich, warm, and full, pretty much making it one of the best Les Paul derivates you could purchase. Specifically, the sustain was phenomenal thanks to the heavy body weight and air-tight construction. Notes rang out full, adding tons of dimension to soloing or lead lines, as I was inspired to not force notes in to fill the space.
The pickups sounded great, especially the neck setting, which was creamy and bluesy as hell. The extra sustain really came in handy with the neck pickup as I always feel the fatter, bassier sound doesn’t ring out quite as long as the treble. The bridge pickup had a surprising amount of sparkle to it and I really enjoyed seeing what clean sounds I could get out of it and the Devilcat Jimmy and Vox AC15 amps. Rolling off the tone knob provided incredible control of the sound, it’s always great to find the knobs have great sweep. Even at this price point, you would be surprised how many tone pots can still be sketchy. Overall, this guitar is a Les Paul through and through, but with a bit more sustain, at least on the heavy model I was sent.
The Mahogany neck on the Ashlee was smooth, finished beautifully, and even had this stunning grain pattern to top it all off! It felt pretty chunky to me and the action was perfect out of the box. The tuning stability has also been off the charts, with the guitar taking bends, finger picking, and heavy down strokes like a champ for hours on end. The neck isn’t finished quite as heavily as the top of the guitar, which I love because it never feels like your going to get stuck when you move around the neck. Overall, the playability is near perfect and the easy access to upper frets is the cherry on top.
Finish & Construction: 10
First things first, the finish on this guitar was stunning! Look at that Zebra wood down the middle! And even if you get a more standard color option, the nitro finish is smooth, spotless, and seems ready to hit the road. The guitar came packaged very securely and is flawless from my inspection. The E-bend cut makes access to the higher frets so comfortable and the back body contour is way more suited for playing while sitting than most other LP’s. Overall, it seems this guitar was constructed and built to be more of a players instrument and not just another attempt at replicating a LP from a boutique source. The tuning stability is top notch and this thing is studio or tour ready out of the box.
It might seem odd to give such a high value rating to a $1000+ guitar, especially because you know I love cheap stuff! But with even the baseline Gibson Les Paul’s setting you back $1000, this guitar just stacks up so well comparably. You can get a more unique finish option, the pickups felt more diverse in tones than any PAF-style Gibson, and the E bend and contour are just so comfortable. There is a lot of that same LP goodness here, in an American-made package, at the same or cheaper price than so many of the wallet-draining carbon copy Gibsons they keep churning out. If you’re an LP buff looking for something new, the Ashlee should top your list!
The big brother of the best selling TC Electronic Ditto Looper, the Stereo version adds a few helpful tweaks to help you get the most out of your looping experience. The pedal adds a stereo I/O (or dual mono) functionality and lets you connect the pedal via USB to your computer. This way, you can upload backing tracks or import/export saved riffs. You can save riffs and loops thanks to the “store” switch that sits atop the pedal. To save a quick demo or riff, hold down on the “store” switch, export it off the pedal, and then delete it by simply holding the switch up. This pedal can be as complicated or as simple as you like, running exactly like the simpler Ditto Looper or taking on a bigger part of your digital footprint. Oh, and did I mention that stereo setup means you could have multiple rigs (bass + guitar) running into the same pedal for live shows? Imagine how tight a band could sound with that much control…
When discussing the sound of a loop pedal you want to look at a few key features. First off, how is the output level of the pedal? Is it useable for live use, do you lose a lot of sound volume? How sensitive is the control, etc..Next, you want to look at the sound quality and make sure the sound it is spitting back out sounds like the original, true guitar signal. In the case of the Ditto Stereo looper you get amazing sound quality with little to no noise or buzz. It’s incredibly inspiring as a songwriter to be able to layer long, repeating chord sequences or riffs while trying to form lead lines or melodies. You can record and loop up to 5 minutes of total audio with the Ditto Stereo Looper, all with unlimited tracks. That’s a whole lot of music to create.
The only downside I noticed is that at the lower end of the volume knob, you don’t have as much control over the sound. It quickly goes from loud to too quiet. I’m not sure if all the pedals feature this (only) decent volume sweep, but for the price I was expecting a bit more control. However, it wasn’t a major issue and the pedal still provided ample amounts of playable and useable sounds and volumes.
The metal case on this thing is so damn rugged, it’s probably the pedal that takes the biggest beating on my board and it still looks good as new. This pedal has now made it through 4 years on my board without a single issue, all the input jacks and connections are rock solid with no adjustments necessary or signs of wear and tear. Usually, the power connecter jack goes first on all my pedals, so far this one has had the longest life. It’s just a well built, reliable pedal. It’s as simple as that!
While it’s no where as expensive as some of the most complex looping systems out there, the Ditto Stereo Looper is almost $30-40 more expensive than the Ditto Looper. So unless you feel you need the USB interface or dual mono functionality, you may be better off just getting the little brother. This limits the overall value to the average player, making it a reliable if not overly complicated option for people who just play in their bedroom. Overall, I think it fits my needs perfectly and I have never regretted my purchase or looked to upgrade. I would only recommend either of the Ditto Loopers to players looking for a simple, around the house looping pedal. While the live functionality on here is great, people playing in bigger bands may want to have more control over multiple channels.
Well if you’re looking for a cheap Telecaster-style guitar, your day just got way more exciting! Guitarfetish.com, or GFS as it is more well known, just added an exciting product to their Xaviere guitar line. Retailing at around $429, you can get these direct from GFS for only $229.
These stunning thinline Teles come in 4 great finish options; surf green, sunburst, vintage cream, and gloss black. They come loaded with GFS Gold Foil humbucking pickups, which provide plenty of jangle and top end! I’ve written at length about these awesome GFS products for both Guitars For Idiots and Ultimate-Guitar.com and can’t say enough good things about them!
Other important specs to know include solid Alder bodies, and either Rosewood or Maple fingerboards, making these shockingly quality products for a fraction of the price you would expect!