JHS PG 14 Paul Gilbert Signature Distortion Pedal Review

NOT a bad looking pedal

Cost: $199.00 from Reverb.com, click here to get your own!

How it Works & Final Score: 9.2

Not only the is JHS’s PG-14 a great looking pedal, but it’s also incredibly diverse and versatile. The PG-14 is designed around a FET based distortion engine. This engine used to provide a classic, pushed tube amp tone through any rig. The volume, mid, and tone controls are pretty standard, but after that it gets really interesting!

The “Mid Freq” control acts as a preamp in front of that FET distortion engine. This gives you additional (and incredible) opportunities to sculpt your tone to your exact specifications, be that Paul Gilbert’s tone or not. Then, as you move into that FET engine portion of the circuit, you have your drive and push controls. The gain is fairly straightforward, adjusting the saturation of your distortion tone. The push knob is something special, where it emulates that pushed response of vintage tubes. This can help shape your distortion tone from crackle to hiss to stadium-sized stack tones. Playing with this knob with the gain low shows just accurately it emulates that beloved tube amp breakup.

Was that enough tone shaping controls for you? I hope so…

The PG-14 matches up pretty nice with this Schecter Ultra III huh??

Sound: 9.5

This is one of the best sounding distortion pedals out there, plain and simple. The only thing that could possibly be a criticism is that when playing I want to constantly tweak my tones between songs, which is hard with 6 tone controls. In the studio though, this pedal will absolutely shine.

The tube breakup emulation in the PG-14 feels so authentic. The touch response and sensitivity is there, with light pick strokes creating the quietest, compact distortion tones that quickly fade away. Start hitting harder and you get gushes of sustain and thick overdrive and distortion. It literally allows you to play so so much more dynamically without touching the volume knob on your guitar at all. It’s crazy.

The other big thing that the JHS PG-14 claims is that it can recreate these tones and overdriven sounds in any rig, high out put or low output. This was one of the most rewarding parts of the pedal. Whether it went into a small, solid state Orange Crush 20 or my louder, tube powered Vox combo amp, it sounded rich and responsive. It’s a phenomenal pedal full of stage worthy sounds.

Durability: 10

So it’s always hard to judge a pedals durability when you’re only playing it for a week or even a month, but JHS pedals have a sterling reputation and my full confidence. Some of my past reviews have been recently edited to reflect pedals that suddenly stopped working and weren’t as advertised, but the JHS line is not one of them. The JHS PG-14 is far more compact than equally versatile and complex distortions and is well built to stick on anyone’s pedal board in my humble opinion.

Value: 8

The only downside to JHS pedals is that you have to pay for all this quality. Not that that’s really a criticism anyway. The deal here is that the PG-14 sounds so dang good and is really worth all the hype, it just can’t really fit in everyone’s budget. Much like their amazing Muffuletta fuzz, the sound will not let you down, but you have to want and need this thing to shell out $200 for it. If budgeting is an issue, there are plenty of more suitable distortion/overdrive pedals in the under $100 range, which is the only limiting factor here. Otherwise, the PG-14 is still a great value in that it comes in less than a lot of high end, boutique pedals and blows pretty much every other distortion out of the water!

Demo clips and Ultimate-Guitar.com review up soon!

Morifone Quarzo Electric Guitar Review

Credit: Morifone Guitars

Cost: $3,999.00 new from Morifone.com

Huge thanks to Ren, the creator of the Quarzo for lending me this top notch instrument for review!

Overview & Final Score: 9.3

The Morifone Quarzo is one beast of a guitar and has quite a bit to unpack. Handmade in Canada from the finest tone woods, Morifone Guitars is a relatively new company that’s bringing sweeping change to a classic design. The Quarzo is a bit like an offset Les Paul with huge technological updates. The Quarzo comes with a Mahogany body and neck, and can have your choice of a figured or plain Maple top. The long tenon body-neck joint provides a ton of neck stability, as well as increased sustain.

Better yet, this guitar features a new, patent headstock design that looks like upward wings, called the “Aileron”. The reasoning is simple, because the tuning pegs are never in contact with a flat surface, the tuning stability is far improved. This design also boosts playability, as well as natural sustain.

The high quality features don’t end before reaching the electronics too. A traditional 3-way selector switch lets you control the pickups, which you get to choose from the Lollar product catalog. This one came with two vintage-voiced Lollar humbuckers that gave the guitar a real Les Paul flavor. Two dedicated volume CTS pots are matched with just one CTS tone pot, but you do get a coil split function accessible by pushing in the tone pot, much like Fender’s S1 switch.

If all that wasn’t enough, there is also stunning binding, Schaller tuners, a Bell-Brass tune-o-matic bridge, and a Graphtech TUSQ nut. I’m probably missing more amazing features, but everything on this guitar is designed to top of the line!

Look how gorgeous this thing is??

Sound: 10

It’s hard to find much at fault here, as Lollar pickups are some of the best, if not the best, options on the market. Morifone is just another in a long line of truly phenomenal luthiers I know using Lollar’s only. To me, the neck pickup sounds like a clone of a ’59 Les Paul, it’s buttery, creamy, all the adjectives you hear Joe Bonamassa use.

The note to note clarity is superb, even with layers of drive and distortion on top. Especially nice was the coil split sounds, which made the guitar feel far more versatile than I expected. They don’t have the chime or bright highs associated with single coils, but they were far more percussive than the humbuckers, making them great for rhythm tones.

The bridge humbucker was great too, it just didn’t instantly bring back the ’59 Les Paul tones I was told to expect the same way the neck did. The coil split was again lovely though, making it a bit more versatile and modern sounding. The bridge also head great clarity and note definition, but with a ton of bite and output. It quickly pushed my Vox AC15’s tubes pretty hard and sounded great.

Now to be fair, all those features are pretty common on guitars under $4000. But what really sold me was the sustain. The perfect 10/10 rating is highly influenced by this guitar’s ability to just sing. That to me is one of the most inspiring features on a guitar, along with how it sounds unplugged. The Quarzo sounds beautiful when played acoustic, you just get this rich, full sound. When you check those two marks for me, it’s a 10/10.

Playability: 10

I think the “Aileron” headstock really lives up their description. Even with heavier strings on, the Quarzo is just comfortable to play and perfectly intonated. Bends truly were easier than on other Les Paul-style guitars I’ve played, and the neck feels really fast to me. In fact, the creator of the Quarzo told me that the guitar I was sent has the least slim neck of them all, and it still felt super fast! The tuning stability was great, I think I’ve tuned it twice in about 4 days of playing it?

The Quarzo is just well built and I really appreciate this update on the Les Paul design. As many know, Les Pauls, and many other Gibson guitars, can have a ton of tuning issues because of the break angle of the strings over the nut. Poorly cut nuts from Gibson’s questionable QA/QC didn’t help either. So for me to feel like I can get that classic feel and tone, in a genuinely modernized and better engineered package, I’m sold.

Finish & Construction: 9

I was also told that the Quarzo I was sent was probably the roughest of the bunch, so I tried to go easy on it for a few, very minor cosmetic flaws. I have no doubt that the new, customer built ones I probably flawless. Sticking to the positives, the gold top finish is well done, and seems fit to last through countless shows. The neck pickup seemed to be screwed in just a little bit wonky, but I’m gonna leave that up to this prototype getting a lot of abuse. Otherwise, this guitar is well constructed with really high quality parts. The control knobs feature excellent sweep, the long tenon construction really makes it feel almost like one-piece instrument. There’s a lot of good stuff here and I’m starting to sound repetitive.

Value: 8

This is probably the closest I will come to saying anything really negative about this guitar in the review. It’s just pretty damn expensive. Yes, you get a really unique guitar with an awesome patent head stock. But realistically, the 8/10 (which is still freakin good) score comes from the fact that if you put an LP style guitar with half the price tag from Eastman, Gibson, or Rock N Roll relics, I’m not sure I would instinctively go for the Quarzo. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t end up buying it, but when you buy from a smaller, boutique company you have to be comfortable paying for the privilege.

Now if you just got this guitar, you will be 100% happy with it, which is why it still gets such a high score. The sounds, feel, and design are really phenomenal and unique in a lot of ways. I’m always going to be biased towards saving a few bucks, but this is certainly one of the few, not vintage $4000 guitars that’s probably worth the price tag.

Good for: Blues, Classic Rock, Any Les Paul Tones

Stay tuned for some demo clips & separate review for Ultimate-Guitar.com coming this week!

Playing Authentic Just Got Harder Thanks To Eastman Guitars

Credit: Eastman Guitars

One of my favorite parts of running this website is getting to highlight my favorite guitars or companies, especially ones I think you should know about. My love of classic Gibson models, and suspicion of the Gibson company, are two of the more talked about topics on this site. I love so many of their guitars, but can’t get behind how much they charge for QA/QC that’s all over the place. These feelings have made me search far and wide for a way to get all the things I love about these guitars distilled into a better package and I believe Eastman has done that perfectly.

Check out more from Eastmanguitar.com!

Eastman prides itself on top notch attention to detail that is displayed in each and every guitar. Eastman is also unique in that they’ve really capitalized on the overseas market, where they can keep costs down but still produce really fantastic guitars. This aren’t some large scale, factory mill productions. They are carefully designed and built just like a USA Gibson would be, just overseas where we all know companies can save a ton of money.

Started about 25 years ago by Qian Ni after he graduated from Boston University’s school of music, it’s been an impressively successful quarter decade for the brand. Eastman has quickly gained the attention of players and the guitar media horde while simultaneously inspiring many other overseas builders to step up their game. In my opinion, you don’t see the highly successful Shijie or 10S guitars without this precedent being set by Eastman to some degree.

What you end up with is an instrument that may cost more than the lowest Gibson model, but plays more like a Gibson Custom Shop model. Take their new SB55DC/v for example, this is a premium Les Paul Jr guitar that looks decades old thanks to their antique varnish and is basically my dream guitar.

We’re going to be digging into their most well known model, the SB59 shortly so stay tuned for more on that! In the meantime, dig through their website and see the kind of praise these guys have accumulated. It may just make you want one of these instead of a real deal Gibson…

What Lies Ahead for GuitarsForIdiots In 2020

The first year of running this site went just about as well as I could have imagined. Honestly, it probably even exceeded expectations. In no way shape or form did I expect my guitar and music journalism career to take off to the point that Fender would be sending me their newest guitars to review. I also never expected to be hanging out backstage with my favorite band, SWMRS, after interviewing them for Ultimate-Guitar.com. The point being, 2019 is gonna be hard to top in 2020. As we set out to make this year even better, let’s take a look at what you can expect of this site in the new year…

Make sure you’re following us on Instagram!

More Affordable Guitar Reviews

Surprisingly, all of the most successful posts on this website had one thing in common: they were affordable guitar or bass reviews. That’s not to say that other mod articles or pricey gear reviews were unsuccessful, but cheap clearly resonates with many of you out on the internet.

Glarry’s cheap GP Bass, Squier’s Affinity Telecaster, and Orange’s Crush 20 amp were all some of the most viewed articles of the year. You can be sure that I’ll be including even more affordable gear this year and very soon. Keep an eye out for some new Squier, Epiphone, Firefly, and Goldfinch reviews coming your way. Hopefully, these will help you know where the best places to spend your money are while still making sure you end up with gear that suits your needs!

Being Annoying On Social Media

While I’ve never been good at social media whether it was my personal accounts or for journalism, I plan on stepping it up in 2020. Having huge social media followings and great, creative content is one of the primary ways for me to attract companies attention. Once I attract their attention, that means more gear reviews for all of you.

I don’t buy gear to review, I don’t get paid by companies to say nice things about it, no one even sponsors any articles of mine. All of that makes the success and widespread engagement I got in 2019 all the more impressive (and shocking) in my eyes. So this year, like, comment, and share everything you can to help us get the following that will allow this site to really thrive. I want to make this a place where readers feel listened to. My dm’s are always open and when people ask me to review something, I do. I’ve already had several people recommend gear that is now en route to me in 2020 for review!

More Advanced Mods & Partscasters

To be fair, while I am very proud of the mods and builds I did this year, there is room for improvement. My stance has always been this: I’m a bad guitar tech, therefore if I’m saying that I did this, it sounds good, and is easy then you can definitely do it. I’m in the process of upgrading my tools, knowledge, and fine motor skills so that we can put together some really cool, truly unique guitars and better inform the public without coming off as pompous as some of the most popular YouTubers and journalists do at bigger publications.

A Surprising Amount Of Cool Guitar Reviews

While I’m definitely going to emphasize reviewing more affordable and accessible models, I also want to get my hands on some crazy, out-there guitars that a lot publications don’t talk about. Whether it is because they are expensive, rare, or just weird, I want to document them so you know a thing or two when you win the lottery or finally save up enough to buy one. It could be high end LP replicas from a smaller brand, it could a new up and coming company, or it may just be something ugly! But I’m going to mix a ton of cool guitars into the pool, so don’t be afraid to dig through the pile of Squier, Epiphone, Schecter, and Ibanez beginner model reviews.

NAMM 2020: Yvette Young & Ibanez Debut Her YY10 Signature Talman

Credit: Ibanez

A longtime underrated guitar model, the Ibanez Talman might be best known as The Offspring guitarist Noodles’ guitar of choice. However, tapping sensation Yvette Young may just be taking over the Talman world just yet.

Her new signature model, coming in Slime Green Sparkle (wow), features three Seymour Duncan Five Two single coil pickups. Wilkinson WV6-SB tremolo is matched to Gotoh MG-T locking tuners to provide top flight tuning stability and performance. The YY10 Talman also features a U-shaped neck and comes tuned to FACBGE out of the factory, making it a guitar just as unique as the namesake!

Visit Ibanez.com for more information on this gorgeous signature model!

NAMM 2020: Ernie Ball Music Man Reveals The Sabre Electric

Credit: Ernie Ball

Not wanting to be left out of the new guitar fun, Ernie Ball Music Man, or EBMM as I prefer, unveiled their new Sabre (on the left) solid body guitar model. A super lightweight Okoume body is matched to a carved Maple top with binding. Two custom EBMM humbuckers bless the front of this almost offset Strat-style guitar. Flanking the Sabre on the right side above is their new JP model as well as Steve Lukather’s new model. All these new guitars match their incredible feel and engineering with some new twists and finishes. These will no doubt be fun to play, even if they cost an arm and a leg!

Dunder Mifflin is a part of Sabre

NAMM 2020: Vox Is Making Electric Guitars Again, Here Is What They Look Like!

Credit: Vox Amplification

Despite being best known for their all time great amplifiers, Vox does have a long, rich history of guitar production. While it has slowed in the last decade or so, they are making a strong first impression in 2020 thanks to their new Bobcat models. Inspired by the British Invasion era, these two new semi-hollow guitars pack a ton of vintage tones and looks! The Maple Plywood body has a Spruce center block, paired to a Mahogany neck and Indonesian Ebony fretboard. The guitar comes in two varieties, the V90 with its dual P90 pickups or the S66 that sports three single coils!

Head over to their site for more info on these new Vox guitars!