Tag Archives: Rock

The making of ……. “Air Ekseption”




I made a cover of “Air” version of Ekseption. In case you don’t know, originally it is a number of Bach (BWV 1068).

However, the famous Dutch rockband made a transition of this classical song into a pop/rock number. Rick van der Linden is a well noticed keyboard player who made 99% of the arrangement. You’ll hear drums, bass, piano, clavecymbal, organ etc.

I made my own arrangement and uses the following instruments of plugins:

  • Logic X
  • Fernandes Revolver guitar with sustainer
  • Avid Eleven guitar effect processor
  • Digitech Harmonizer
  • Session Drummer
  • Native Instrument Rickenbacker plugin
  • Notre Dame the Budapest organ
  • Pianoteq plugin
  • Izotope mastering software

Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36 Amp Head

Hughes & Kettner’s Tubemeister has a few new tube heads. The 5 watt mini amp, the 18 and 36 watt. I was impressed of the feature set and huge sound of the 5 watt. The  Tubemeister 36, with 36 watts of output and three channels, offers considerably more features in a compact package that’s only about twice the size of the Tubemeister 5. The Tubemeister 36 may still qualify as a mini amp, but the only things small about it are its physical dimensions and affordable price. It offers versatility, performance and functions that aren’t available on many three-channel amps nearly four times its size.


The Tubemeister 36 is a stylish amp head featuring chrome handles on its sides and a clear Plexiglas faceplate that lets you see the transformers and glowing tubes inside. The interior is also illuminated with cool blue LEDs when the amp is powered up. Four EL84 tubes drive the power amp section to provide 36 watts of output, while three 12AX7 tubes drive the preamp section. To keep the size as small as possible, the Tubemeister 36 features onboard digital reverb instead of a bulky spring reverb tank. The reverb is also programed to sound full and lush with clean tones and become less pronounced with crunch and distortion tones to avoid the smeared mush that often occurs when using reverb with high-gain sounds.

The front panel is logically laid out. It has separate gain and master volume controls for the Clean, Crunch and Lead channels, three-band EQ (treble, mid, bass) controls for the Clean channel, and three-band EQ controls that are shared by the Crunch and Lead channels. Each channel has its own push-button selector switch, although you can also switch channels with an optional footswitch controller or via MIDI. The rear panel reveals most of the Tubemeister 36’s “secret” weapons, which include its Power Soak feature, Red Box DI output and TSC (Tube Safety Control) self-adjusting bias feature.

The Power Soak reduces power to 18 watts, five watts or one watt and provides a speaker-off setting that allows guitarists to use the head without an external speaker cabinet or load box. The Power Soak is also MIDI programmable, allowing users to program different settings for each channel (such as 36 watts for the Clean channel for maximum clean headroom, 18 watts for the Crunch channel to produce full-bodied power amp overdrive and five watts for the Lead channel to generate singing sustain at lower volumes). Up to 128 different combinations can be saved. The Red Box is an XLR DI output with 4×12 speaker emulation for sending the preamp and power amp tone to a mixing console or recorder. The TSC automatically adjusts optimum bias, and rear-panel LEDs indicate if the power tubes are malfunctioning.

A MIDI input lets guitarists use an external MIDI controller to switch channels, reverb, effect loop and Power Soak settings, and a MIDI Learn switch makes it easy to assign amp settings to a program-change number. The seven-pin MIDI connector also provides up to 20 volts of direct current for powering a MIDI controller without an external power supply.


I thought the Tubemeister 5 sounded huge, but the Tubemeister 36 sounds absolutely colossal, especially when connected to a 4×12 cabinet. Like most Hughes & Kettner amps, it has its own sonic personality, so you’ll want to try a variety of cabinets to find the best match. With 1×12 cabinets, the amp sounded best through speakers with scooped midrange characteristics, as the Tubemeister 36’s inherent midrange is quite pronounced and assertive. I use it with the Carvin Legacy 2 x 12 speaker cabinet.

The Clean channel offers more than ample undistorted headroom, and it can generate lush, gorgeous tones with the reverb dialed in. The Crunch and Lead channels deliver plenty of supersaturated gain and sustain, but if you prefer muscular power amp thump you can get that even at low volume levels thanks to the Power Soak. Don’t let the Tubemeister 36’s small size and 36-watt output fool you—this is a truly gigworthy amp that’s more than loud enough for the stage. And if you need more volume you can feed its glorious tone to the house PA via its impressive Red Box DI.


The Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36 may be a mini amp head, but it provides outstanding tones, versatile professional features and distinctive innovations that many full-size amps don’t offer.

Ibanez UV70P (Universe 7-string)


Product Description

Inspired by Steve Vai, Ibanez has created another excellent playing guitar which is the Universe UV70P. Featuring DiMarzio pickups for great tone and jumbo frets on a Wizard 7 neck, the UV70P Universe guitar has easy playability and an awe-inspiring tone. The iconic Steve Vai has influenced guitar players all over the world and now the UV70P Universe is designed to break boundaries.



– Neck: Wizard-7 5pc Maple/Walnut with KTS TITANIUM rods
– Body: American Basswood
– Frets: Jumbo with Premium fret edge treatment
– Fretboard: Rosewood
– Inlay: Green dot
– Bridge: Edge-Zero II-7
– Hardware: Cosmo black
– Pickups: DiMarzio Blaze

Gig FX Megawah Stereo Multi-Wah Pedal


One of the best wah these days is the Gig FX Megawah. Not only a wah, but it has also five other features.

Product Description

The Gig FX Megawah is much more than great-sounding classic wah. You can adjust the gain, resonance peak, bass response and trigger sensitivity to produce the ultimate in wah sounds. And with two independent channels, you can run your signal in stereo for one-of-a-kind wah sounds.

The Megawah is Six Wah’s plus a volume pedal
– Classic Wah: The original analog classic Wah sound, mono or STEREO in a lightweight, noise-free optically controlled package
– Mega-Wah: Gig FX took the classsic wah and put it on steroids. Tons more OOOMPH on the bass frequencies and a tooth-rattling upper end
– Trig-Wah: The Mega-Wah sound triggered by a note. Sounds awesomely funky
– Auto-wah: Auto-wah: Why buy a pedal wah, envelope filter and auto-wah? This…pedal does them all
– Stereo-Wah: Two circuits give twice the Wah and can be used in a stereo effects train
– Stereo-Reverse-Wah: Flick a switch and reverse one channel for a neat melodic effect
– Foot-volume control: At the flick of another switch, the pedal becomes a foot volume control

Fed up with trying to master the wah pedal? Turn it on auto-wah and set the tempo as you wish. Don’t want to be limited by tempo and want every note to be wah’d? Set it to trig-wah and every note will trigger a wah so you can fire your synth player.

Then you can switch it to become a volume pedal. Keep pressing and it adds up to 3dB of clean gain. Even the cleanest amp will start to rip and burn (with no loss of frequency response that distortion pedals give).

Bored with all that? Hook it up in stereo and switch to reverse the wah on one side…CHECK IT OUT. This is no ordinary wah. It is the ultimate in wah and volume / gain pedal technology.

For the most extreme wah tone ever, plug the output of the left channel into the input of the right channel and hear the most extreme wah sounds on the planet.

How it works
The Megawah has two entirely independent Wah circuits in one package giving stereo in, stereo out capability. The effect also will accept a mono input signal automatically provide a stereo output. If the pedal is stepped on and rocked from the off position (all the way back), the optical linkage will automatically and noiselessly turn the unit on and then provide the classic wah or wah of choice as pedal is pressed down. The resonance control allows adjustment of the peak value of the wah determining how much wah range the pedal provides. The gain control allows control over how much gain the pedal provides to allow soloing at higher volume levels.


(Author: zZounds)

Biography steve vai


Steven “Steve” Siro Vai (born , 1960 in Carle Place, New York) is an Italian American instrumental rock guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, producer, beekeeper, and actor. After starting his professional career as a music transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, Vai would also record and tour in Zappa’s backing band starting in 1980. The guitarist began a solo career starting in 1984 and has released 13 solo albums as of 2008. Apart from his work with Frank Zappa, Vai has also recorded and toured with numerous musical artists including Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. Vai has been a regular touring member of the G3 Concert Tour which began in 1996. In 1999 Vai started his own record label Favored Nations with the intent to showcase, as Vai describes: “…artists that have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments.”


1970s and 1980s

In 1974, Vai took guitar lessons from guitarist Joe Satriani, and played in numerous local bands, one that took the name, “The Steve Vais”. He has acknowledged the influence of many guitarists including Jeff Beck and jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Vai followed those lessons by attending and graduating the Berklee College of Music, afterwards recording a promotional piece for them, speaking about auditioning for Frank Zappa, at age twenty.

Steve Vai (on guitar in between the drum set and keyboard set), Frank Zappa and band during a concert at the Memorial Auditorium, Oct 25, 1980 Buffalo, NY

Vai mailed Frank Zappa a transcription of Zappa’s “The Black Page”, an instrumental song written for drums, along with a tape with some of Vai’s guitar playing. Zappa was so impressed with the abilities of the young musician that he hired him in 1979 to do work transcribing several of his guitar solos, including many of those appearing on the Joe’s Garage album and the Shut Up ‘n’ Play Yer Guitar series. These transcriptions were published in 1982 in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book.

Subsequent to being hired as a transcriber, Vai did overdubs on many of the guitar parts for Zappa’s album You Are What You Is. Thereafter he became a full-fledged band member, going on his first tour with Zappa in the Autumn of 1980. One of those early shows with Vai on guitar, recorded in Buffalo was released in 2007. While touring with Zappa’s band, Vai would sometimes ask audience members to bring musical scores and see if he could sight-read them on the spot. Zappa referred to Vai as his “little Italian virtuoso” and was listed in liner notes as performing “stunt guitar” or “impossible guitar parts”. He would later be a featured artist on the 1993 recording, Zappa’s Universe. In 2006 he returned to playing music composed by Frank Zappa as a special guest on his son, Dweezil Zappa’s ‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ tour, alongside old friends from his early years who he had performed with when Zappa was alive.

After leaving Zappa in 1982 he moved to California where he recorded his first album Flex-Able and performed in a couple of bands. In 1985 he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen as lead guitarist in Graham Bonnet’s Alcatrazz with whom he recorded the album Disturbing the Peace. Later in 1985 he joined former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth’s group to record the albums Eat ‘Em and Smile and Skyscraper. This significantly increased Vai’s visibility to general rock audiences, since Roth was in a highly public battle with the Van Halen members and Vai was favorably compared by many commentators to Eddie Van Halen.

In 1986 Vai also surprised everyone by playing with ex-Sex Pistols John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd on their album Album (also known as Compact Disc or Cassette). Then, in 1989, Vai joined Whitesnake, replacing Vivian Campbell. But, when Adrian Vandenberg injured his wrist shortly before recording was due to begin for the album Slip of the Tongue, Vai played all the guitar parts on the album. Vai also played on the Alice Cooper album Hey Stoopid along with Joe Satriani on the song Feed my Frankenstein.

1990s and 2000s

Vai continues to tour regularly, both with his own group and with his one-time teacher and fellow guitar instrumentalist friend Joe Satriani on the G3 series of tours. Former David Lee Roth and Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan also joined him for a world tour. In 1990, Vai released his critically acclaimed solo album Passion and Warfare.

The song “For the Love of God” was voted #29 in a readers’ poll of the 100 greatest guitar solos of all time in Guitar World Magazine.

In 1994 Vai began writing and recording with Ozzy Osbourne. Only one track from these sessions and “My Little Man” was released on the Ozzmosis album. Despite Vai penning the track he does not appear on the album. His guitar parts were replaced by Zakk Wylde. Vai’s band members throughout the 1990s included drummer Mike Mangini, guitarist Mike Keneally and bassist Philip Bynoe. In 1994 Vai received a Grammy Award for his performance on the Frank Zappa song Sofa from the album Zappa’s Universe.

Vai playing a twin-necked Ibanez

In July 2002, Steve Vai performed with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan, in the world premiere of composer Ichiro Nodaira’s Fire Strings, a concerto for electric guitar and 100-piece orchestra.

In 2004, a number of his compositions and orchestral arrangements including some previously recorded pieces, were performed in The Netherlands by the Metropole Orchestra in a concert series entitled The Aching Hunger. In 2003, drummer Jeremy Colson joined Vai’s group replacing previous drummer Virgil Donati. Vai’s latest album, Sound Theories, was released in 2007.

Steve Vai released a DVD of his performance at The Astoria in London in December 2001, featuring the lineup of bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarist/pianist Tony MacAlpine, guitarist Dave Weiner and drummer Virgil Donati.

In February 2005, Vai premiered a dual-guitar (electric and classical) piece that he wrote called The Blossom Suite with classical guitarist Sharon Isbin at the Ch?telet Theatre in Paris. In 2006, Vai played as a “special guest” guitarist alongside additional guest Zappa band members, drummer Terry Bozzio, guitarist-singer Ray White and saxophonist-singer Napoleon Murphy Brock in the “Zappa Plays Zappa” tour led by Frank’s son Dweezil Zappa in Europe and the U.S. in the Spring as well as a short U.S. tour in October.

On 2006, Vai made a special appearance at the Video Games Live concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California. He played two songs with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; Halo Theme, and a second song for the world premier trailer for Halo 3.

Steve Vai made an appearance at the London Guitar Show 2007 on the 28th April 2007 at the ExCeL Center. In late April 2007, Vai confirmed the release of his most recent record, called Sound Theories, on . The release is a 2-CD set consisting mostly of previously released material that Vai rearranged and played in front of a full orchestra. Vai says that the project was a great joy because he considers himself to be a composer more than a guitarist, and he is happy to see music he has composed played by an orchestra that can play it well. A DVD followed the record but was not released until later that year. He guested on the Dream Theater album, Systematic Chaos, on the song “Repentance”. The appearance was vocal rather than instrumental, as Vai was only one of many musical guests recorded. The song features contributions from many artists, with the aim of apologizing to important people in their lives for wrongdoings committed in their pasts.


Vai is set to release Where the Wild Things Are on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray on Sep 29 2009. This is a live recording of his performance at the Minneapolis State Theater from his 2007 Tour.

Video games

“Juice” was featured on the 1996 video game “Formula One” for the PlayStation.

In 1998, “Erotic Nightmares” was featured as the menu music in the video game WCW/nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64.

Two different songs featuring Steve Vai’s guitar playing appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Both Yankee Rose by David Lee Roth and God Blessed Video by Alcatrazz are featured on the game’s soundtrack.

In 2004, Steve Vai was featured on Xbox’s Halo 2 (a game by Bungie Studios) Volume 1 soundtrack, performing a heavy rock-guitar rendition of the Halo theme, known as Halo Theme (MJOLNIR Mix). He also performed on the track Never Surrender. He later featured in the second volume of the soundtrack, where he performed on the track Reclaimer.

In 2008, Steve Vai’s For the Love of God and Halo Theme (MJOLNIR Mix) were featured as downloadable tracks for the game Guitar Hero 3.


Steve Vai’s music has been featured in a number of feature films, including Dudes and Ghosts of Mars. He appeared onscreen in the 1986 Ralph Macchio movie Crossroads, playing the demonically-inspired Jack Butler. At the film’s climax, Vai engages in a guitar duel with Macchio, whose guitar parts were dubbed by Vai and also Ry Cooder, who played the initial slide work in the duel and Macchio’s earlier performances in the film. The fast-paced neo-classical track entitled Eugene’s Trick Bag with which Macchio wins the competition was also composed by Vai. The body of the piece was heavily based on Paganini’s Caprice #5. He later borrowed the opening riff from the track Head Cuttin’ Duel for a song called Bad Horsie from his 1995 EP Alien Love Secrets. Later the Crossroads duel reappeared on the 2002 album The Elusive Light and Sound, volume 1.

In 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey the introductory riff to KISS’ God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II, as performed by the Wyld Stallyns in the Battle of the Bands was performed by Vai. He also composed and performed the soundtrack to PCU (1994), and made contributions in 2001 to the score for John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, performing on the tracks Ghosts of Mars and Ghost Poppin. His track “I’m the Hell Outta Here” can be heard during 1992’s Encino Man in the scene where Brendan Fraser is taking a driving lesson.

His guitar is starring in the animated short film “Live Music”.

Playing style

This section may contain original research or unverified claims. Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (March 2008)
Vai performing in 2001

Vai is widely recognized as a highly technically advanced rock guitarist and has been described as a virtuoso in the world of guitar music . His 1990 album Passion and Warfare and the ballad For the Love of God in particular received a significant amount of press and are often cited by critics and fans alike as amongst his best work to date .

Vai’s playing style has been characterized as quirky and angular, owing to his technical ability with the instrument and deep knowledge of music theory. He often uses exotic guitars; he plays both double and triple neck guitars, and is regarded as the first to use the 7-string guitar in a rock context. Along with Ibanez, he designed a signature 7-string guitar, the Ibanez Universe.


Vai is an accomplished studio producer (he owns two: “The Mothership” and “The Harmony Hut” ) and his own recordings combine his signature guitar prowess with novel compositions and considerable use of studio and recording effects.

Vai also helped design his signature Ibanez JEM series of guitars. They feature a hand grip (fondly referred to as a “monkey grip”) cut into the top of the body of the guitar, a humbucker-single coil-humbucker DiMarzio pickup configuration with several different types of pickup including Evolution, Breed and EVO 2. He also uses the Ibanez Edge and Lo-Pro Edge double-locking tremolo systems (the current production JEMs have the newer Edge Pro), as well as an elaborate and extensive “Tree of Life” inlay down the neck. Vai also equips many of his guitars with an Ibanez Backstop, a tremolo stabilizer that has been discontinued. Lately Vai has also equipped some of his guitars with True Temperament fretboards in order for his chords to sound completely in tune. Vai also has a 7-string model designed by him named Ibanez Universe. The Universe later influenced the 7-string guitars used by Korn and other bands to create nu metal sounds in the late 1990s. He also has a signature Ibanez acoustic, the Euphoria. Before Ibanez, he briefly endorsed Jackson guitars, but this relationship only lasted two years.


Steve Vai has also worked with Carvin Guitars and Pro Audio to develop the Carvin Legacy line of guitar amplifiers. Vai wanted to create an affordable amp that was unique, and equal in sound and versatility to any guitar amp he had previously used. Over his long musical career, Steve Vai has used and designed an array of guitars. He even had his DNA put into the swirl paint job on one of his signature JEM guitars, the JEM2KDNA, in the form of his blood. Only 300 of these were made. Nowadays he mainly uses his white “Evo”, a JEM7V, and his “Flo”, which is a customized Floral Jem 77FP painted white. They are both inscribed with their names in two places, mainly in order to allow him to distinguish between the guitars he uses onstage. “Flo” is equipped with a Fernandes sustainer system.

He also has a guitar named “Mojo” in which the dot inlays are blue LED lights. Additionally, he has a custom-made triple-neck guitar that has the same basic features as his JEM7V guitars. The top neck is a 12-string guitar, the middle is a 6-string, and the bottom is a 6-string fretless guitar with a Fernandes Sustainer pickup. This guitar was featured on the G3 2003 tour on the piece I Know You’re Here. Vai’s effects pedals include a modified Boss DS-1, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Morley Bad Horsie, Ibanez Jemini Twin Distortion Pedal, TC Electronics G-System, Morley Little Alligator Volume pedal, Digitech Whammy, and an MXR Phase 90/Phase 100 on the Passion and Warfare album. His flight cases are labeled “Mr. Vai”, or latterly, “Dr. Vai”. He used a number of rack effects units controlled via MIDI, but used a floor-based TC electronics G system instead for the Zappa Plays Zappa tour.


In 2005, Vai signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in public schools throughout the U.S.A. He sits on LKR’s Honorary Board of Directors.

Vai was a judge for the 3rd and 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.

Vai is also the founder of the Make A Noise Foundation. The foundation’s goal is to provide funding for music education and programs for those unable to pursue music-related activities due to limited resources.

Favored Nations

Vai owns Favored Nations, a recording and publishing company that specializes in internationally procuring and maintaining recording artists. Favored Nations is separated into three sections, ‘Favored Nations’, ‘Favored Nations Acoustic’ and ‘Favored Nations Cool (Jazz style)’


Artists with whom the Favored Nations label works or has worked include Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci & Jordan Rudess, Mattias IA Eklundh, Tak Matsumoto, Andy Timmons, Johnny Hiland, Tommy Emmanuel, Vernon Reid, The Yardbirds, Larry Coryell, Mimi Fox, Eric Sardinas, Dweezil Zappa, Dave Weiner, James Robinson and Johnny A.

Personal life

Vai is married to Pia Maiocco, former bass player of Vixen, who can be seen in Hardbodies. Vai and Maiocco have two children; Julian Angel and Fire. In his spare time Vai is an avid beekeeper – his bees regularly produce a crop of honey that Vai sells for his Make a Noise Foundation.

Band History – not including guest appearances

Frank Zappa (1980-1982)
Steve Vai (1982-1984)
Alcatrazz (1985)
David Lee Roth (1985-1986)
Public Image Ltd. (1985-1986)
Frank Zappa (1986)
David Lee Roth (1987-1988)
Whitesnake (1988-1990)
Solo (1989-present)


Epiphone Joe Bonamassa Les Paul Goldtop Electric Guitar Review

Written by: Adam Perlmutter (www.premierguitar.com)
It’s more than creativity for a guitarist to forge his own musical identity within the confines of the minor pentatonic scale. Joe Bonamassa is one of the elite group of players who have managed to do so—often with the assistance one of his Gibson Les Pauls, from an original 1959 Standard to recent Historic reissues. To honor Bonamassa and his accomplishments, Gibson offers a costly Custom Shop signature model (MSRP $6491). But for those with thinner billfolds, Epiphone has released a special version of Gibson’s Bonamassa model—retailing for less than a fifth of the price and limited to 1,000 instruments.

Student of the Old School, a Foot in the New…
The Epiphone Bonamassa model is very much a traditional Les Paul, built around a solid mahogany body, a hard maple cap, and a thick mahogany neck with an old-style long tenon that extends well into the neck pocket for strength and sustain. Other traditional appointments on the Bonamassa include a rosewood fretboard with pearloid trapezoidal inlays and single-ply crème binding around the neck and the top of the body.

The Bonamassa departs from tradition a bit too. It’s got a black-painted back where the original Goldtop’s is natural mahogany. And while a ’50s Les Pauls has crème pickup surrounds, pickguard, toggle-switch washer and tip, those parts on this guitar are all black. Instead of Kluson tuners, with their green plastic buttons, the Bonamassa is equipped with higher-performance 14:1 Grovers. Other modern touches include Epiphone’s LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, stopbar tailpiece, and strap locks. And the control panel includes the eccentric combination of two amber ’50s-style top hat knobs and two gold ’60s-style reflector knobs (though in this reviewer’s opinion, the guitar would look better with a matched quartet of black reflector knobs).

Electronics include Gibson’s Burstbucker 2 and 3 pickups in the neck and bridge positions, respectively. The 2, which has a medium output, is wound in the range of Gibson’s ’57s Classic and patterned after the original P.A.F. humbucking pickup. The 3 is over-wound for a slightly hotter sound that works well in concert with the 2. Both pickups are controlled by a standard three-way switch.

Bonamassa’s Epi comes inside a very cool case patterned after the classic Lifton “Cali Girl,” brown on the exterior and pink on the interior, but featuring sturdy modern construction—a scheme that Gibson Custom ought to use in its Historic line of ’50s reissues. It also includes a certificate of authenticity hand-signed by Bonamassa himself.

Craftsmanship on our Chinese-made test model is quite good. The fretwork is super tidy and the slots for the nut and saddles are cleanly cut. The neck is situated solidly in its pocket and the binding is tight and flush throughout. A hint of an orange-peel effect can be found here and there on the finish, which seems just a bit thick, but then again it is not uncommon to find this subtle irregularity on guitars at many times the price.

Heavy Feel, Heavy Sound
When I removed the Epiphone Bonamassa from its case, the first thing I noticed was that it was pretty heavy at 9.5 pounds. (Most Gibson Historics, for reference, weigh in at less than nine.) The neck, with its rounded ’50s “D” profile—the contour that Gibson Custom features on the 1959 Historic Reissue—also felt pretty massive. I generally find this neck to be exaggeratedly large and not very comfortable, but it didn’t take long before it felt pretty natural given the overall heft of the guitar.

The guitar came from the factory with smooth, low action. The 24.75-inch scale neck was comfortable from the open position to the 22nd fret and was hospitable to barre chords with big stretches and rapid-fire single-note lines alike. However, the guitar felt slightly stiff when I bent some strings more than a half step, and the tuning was sometimes negatively affected by the bends.

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The Joe Bonamassa Signature Les Paul features aesthetic departures from a traditional goldtop that include black pickup rings and pickguard, and a black painted back rather than the traditional natural mahogany.

No Bones About the Sound
To test the guitar, I used a Fender Pro Junior amplifier and, in certain contexts, a Freyette S.A.S. distortion pedal. With this streamlined setup the Bonamassa sounded great, and it’s unlikely that a blindfolded listener would be able to identify it as a $700 import.Overall, I find the combination of Gibson’s 1 and 2 Burstbuckers seen in the Historic Les Pauls to be a little smoother than the 2 and 3 package, but the latter really shone in the context of the Bonamassa model. On the neck pickup, it was easy to get a sustaining violin-like tone for blues-rock riffing and soloing. With the tone and volume rolled back, the pickup sounded just warm enough for jazz and worked nicely for some single-note bebop lines as well as some Wes Montgomery–style octaves and chord melodies. In a completely different direction, I was able to get a massive metal sound with an ample amount of clarity by tuning the guitar to drop D and dialing in a crushing amount of distortion on pedal, even with the Junior, a super compact amp.

When played in tandem, the neck pickup took a little of the edge off its bridge-position mate but didn’t blunt the attack. This was my favorite setting; it delivered excellent rhythm and lead tones

The bridge pickup had a nice bite and none of the muddiness sometimes associated with humbuckers. While slightly edgy on account of its higher output, it accurately reported every little detail and worked equally well for a cutting solo in A minor pentatonic, a bit of Brian Setzer–approved soloing, and some crunchy rhythm work in both standard and open G tunings. It sounded great for some slide playing in the latter, though the action was of course a bit low.

When played in tandem, the neck pickup took a little of the edge off its bridge-position mate but didn’t blunt the attack. This was my favorite setting; it delivered excellent rhythm and lead tones and, with adjustments on the S.A.S. pedal, proved impartial to genre.

The Verdict
Epiphone’s limited-edition Joe Bonamassa Les Paul is a smart, affordable guitar that borrows certain features—like a long neck tenon joint and Burstbucker pickups—from its more costly Gibson counterparts. It retails for a fraction of the price of a top-of-the-line Les Paul from Gibson’s Custom Shop but plays and sounds superb. And, given the guitar’s scarcity, it would make an excellent investment for the diehard Bonamassa fan. But whether you’re as Bonamassa loyalist or fan of great affordable Les Pauls, you should plan on moving fast if you’re interested. 1,000 guitars this good, this inexpensive, won’t last very long.

Buy if…
You want a nice Les Paul but can’t afford a USA or Historic model, or if you’re way into Joe Bonamassa.
Skip if…
you only play American-made guitars or you’ve got a stable of Historic Les Pauls.

Read more: http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2011/May/Epiphone_Joe_Bonamassa_Les_Paul_Goldtop_Electric_Guitar_Review.aspx?Page=2#ixzz2DblqLO1d

Carvin VL300 Legacy 3

Compared with the firm’s standing in the US, Carvin has a fairly low profile here in the UK and players are in danger of missing out on some very tidy guitars and amps.

However, such is the furore that surrounds any release from the House of Vai, be it musical or equipment in nature, there’s little chance of this new Carvin Legacy 3 passing anyone by.

“Clean channel three is gorgeous, mixing a Fender-style chime and brightness with a fatter, juicier low-end.”

Vai himself outlines the development of the Legacy range as a whole on page 128, sofor now we’ll point out the salient facts. This is a three-channel, all-valve affair that mixes genuine portability – it’s reassuringly weighty, but easily carried in one hand – with a choice of output levels for live use as well as in the studio.

The amp can run at 100, 50 or 15 watts via a three-way slider switch on the rear panel, and even though the power section out of the box is based around EL34 valves, you can also fit 6L6s and bias accordingly with yet another switch.

Channels one and two are exactly the same – both technically and in use – as those found on the original Legacy. Channels two and three share a three-way EQ and augment the tone tailoring options with individual presence controls. Not only does channel three prove to be by far the dirtiest of the triumvirate, it also has an additional gain stage that can be switched in via the front panel, although sadly not with the optional FS44M footswitch.

“It’s the completely filthy dirty channel,” says Vai. “I use the second channel as my main rhythm sound and then I’ll kick in a distortion pedal, but that means more electronics and it’s hard to find a good one that doesn’t take away the top end and lighten up the bottom. So the third channel is designed to kick in for those really intense kinds of overdrives.”

One feature Vai is especially keen on is the master section, which includes a volume, boost function and reverb control.

“I wanted a master volume that changes the level without changing the tone,” he explains. “You’ve got it to sound the way you like, and then you gotta turn it down because you’re tooloud and you lose all your mojo. With the Legacy 3, you can get your sound, then bring it up and down.”

The boost function, which at its maximum setting adds a relatively subtle 6dB to the signal, can be selected with the footswitch. It’s an easy method of upping the signal on demand, but you do need to turn it back off manually when changing channels because it’s not automatically bypassed.

The internal lightshow, the hue of which changes with each channel selection, looks great, and it can be altered or even bypassed if you wish. In addition, there’s an inexpensive chassis custom colour option – “the colour for me this year is Seafoam Green,” jokes Vai.

There are a number of cabinet options available too, and of course there’s no real need to use a Carvin cab at all if you don’t want to. But we began our sound tests using the bespoke CT212S, an angled 2 x 12 loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s that stands vertically.


As this is a Vai signature head, we reached for our battered Ibanez Blue Floral JEM and, before concentrating on each channel in turn, we had a quick flick around the three to get our bearings.

With channels two and three, we were struck by the rather muffled nature of the initial drive tones. However, this led to the discovery that the EQ section is among the most responsive we can remember playing with, especially on an out-and-out rock amp.

The trick is to balance the shared bass, middle and treble of the two hotter channels to obtain sounds you wish to use, and then use the independent presence controls to fine-tune. To give an idea of just how sensitive it is, turning channel two’s presence knob from six to just under seven adds almost too much rasp, and although the process of dialling-in and balancing tones is an involved one, it must be remembered that this is a wholly pro amp.

Channel two is where the lion’s share of suitable rhythm rock tones reside and, with the drive set to just over five, there is sufficient gain to enable us to rock out without sacrificing Vai’s characteristic tonal clarity and string separation. The drive compresses markedly around seven, so keeping the setting below that helps to keep the tone transparent.

With identical control settings, channel three is slightly thicker and smoother. The balancing act here is to marry drive settings with crisp presence and the additional gain switch, which heaps drive upon drive to really extend musical sustain.

The footswitchable boost function adds up to 6dB of signal hike and is a gradual rather than immediate effect, which easily allows lead parts or licks to stand out across the whole amp. One downside is that, if you have the boost switched on and then go to another channel, the boost remains, requiring you to turn it off manually. As we’ve said many times before of course, MIDI switching is your friend in solving this inconvenience.

Clean channel three is gorgeous, mixing a Fender-style chime and brightness with a fatter, juicier low-end. The reverb, which is equally impressive, can be assigned to any and all channels and makes clean sections sing, whether using single-coils or mid-powered humbuckers.

The three power options give yet more tonal options, not least for recording, and the usual guidelines apply: 50 watts gives fatter gains at lower volumes, while the full 100 offers the best headroom for clean tones.

Other guitars used during our tests included the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Fender American Standard Strat, as well as a Charvel San Dimas and an EMG-loaded ESP, and each required a given level of EQ tweaks to tick the necessary boxes. However, none sounded as Vai-authentic as the JEM and, if nothing else, the fact that we can get sounds that are anywhere close to those of Mr Vai says a great deal about how sonically impressive the Legacy 3 is.

Don’t be fooled by its size. Unlike similarly tonesome units such as the Orange Tiny Terror, H&K TubeMeister and Hayden MoFo, this is a full-powered, hand-wired, 100-watt amp and represents what we think is excellent value at just over a grand.

The Vai connotations notwithstanding, it’s packed with great tones, not least those of the magnificent clean channel. From those sparkling yet rounded Fender-style chimes to all out high-gain mayhem, this is a versatile and very special amp. The audience is glistening…

MusicRadar Rating

5 / 5 stars

Great tones; lovely clean channel; portable; LEDs.


The assumption that you’ll also need a specific guitar. We don’t think that you do.


Finally, a high-powered, all-valve amp that comes in a more than portable package.



( www.musicradar.com – Simon Bradley )

8 Pentatonic Exercises

Pentatonic scales are a guitarists bread and butter.  They are a must to learn if you want to progress. As the name suggests, a pentatonic scale it a scale with five notes.  We’ll now take a look at whats thought of as the first pentatonic box and discuss some patterns and exercises to practice. You can do these in any key you want.  I’m going to show them in B minor.


exer 1+2

exer 3+4

exer 5+6

exer 7+8

That pentatonic workout should help your technique improve greatly.  If you have any questions please email me at info@farlake.com