Reviewed: Gretsch Electromatic Limited Edition G5420TG, G5422TG and G5435TG
What is it about the phrase ‘limited edition’ that has us reaching so hastily for our wallets? Is it the promise of otherness, of newness and never before seen exclusivity? Or are we just Pavlovian suckers for an entry-level marketing ploy? As a company, Gretsch is no slouch when it comes to a certain level of prestige at the best of times. However, every so often they square their collective shoulders, take a deep breath and pour their work-worn hands all over a virgin block of wood, taking a little extra time and care to create some actual magic. The three bounteous Electromatics I see before me today – the G5420TG, G5422TG and G5435TG – are prime examples of what can happen when luthiers really care about what they’re doing.
REVIEWED: CHARVEL JOE DUPLANTIER SIGNATURE PRO-MOD SAN DIMAS STYLE 2 HH
Gojira’s Joe Duplantier has an identifiable style built on groove-laden riffs, unusual chord choices and percussive harmonic jabs. He needs a guitar that can handle all of these things in the studio while also getting out of his way when it comes to actually performing. You don’t want to be messing with a bunch of controls when you’re commanding an audience of thousands. Duplantier has a USA-made Charvel model, but now there’s an Indonesian-made, more affordable version too.
Reviewed: Ernie Ball Music Man James Valentine ‘Valentine’ Guitar
Ernie Ball Music Man has long been regarded for making ‘players’ guitars. They are a guitar manufacturer that never shies away from breaking new ground, always tapped into the way people play and the guitarists that matter. With a history of pioneering, player-endorsed design that spans over 40 years, Music Man has developed signature models for the likes of Steve Morse, Eddie Van Halen, Albert Lee, John Petrucci and St. Vincent. With the James Valentine ‘Valentine’ guitar – an instrument made to meet the playing demands and design brief of the modern Maroon 5 guitarist – this proud lineage of Music Man signature guitars continues.
Reviewed: Sterling by Music Man John Petrucci Majesty MAJ100
For better or worse, at some stage or another any guitarist who’s ever seen, let alone bothered practising, their scales and modes has heard of the king of progressive shredding, the one and only, Mr. John Petrucci. As the lightning fast, melodic brain behind Dream Theater, he has been object of so many ‘woah’s over the course of his career that he puts even Keanu Reeves to shame. His long standing tenure as one of Ernie Ball Music Man’s most revered signature artists shows no sign of slowing down and as such it stands to reason that Sterling bring out their very own version of his Excalibur, The Majesty MAJ100.
Reviewed: Sterling By Music Man St Vincent STV60
Traditionally the word Sterling refers to a particular grade of silver. A silver medal is bestowed upon second place finishers in Olympic events which, in turn, unfurls ideas of mediocrity and diminished quality upon most audiences. This last part is where the synonymy ends for Ernie Ball’s faithful subsidiary, the Sterling range. As opposed to using this arm of the empire to churn out sub-par variations on a theme, Orange County’s favourite modern guitar manufacturer clearly sees it as an opportunity to put more guitars in more hands without sacrificing any of the unmitigated finesse that players have come to expect from them. Almost every EB branded signature model has a parallel at Sterling whose price tag is rendered more wallet-friendly by several clever design adjustments and a simple shift in factories.
Reviewed: Fender Brad Paisley Road Worn Telecaster
A flash guitar designed for flashy players? Yep, that’s exactly what you’re in for with Fender’s Brad Paisley signature Telecaster. While clearly this isn’t a guitar for everyone, those who are after a Tele built for fast licks and one-of-a-kind appointments that’ll have you standing out from every other guitar player in the country have hit the jackpot.
Reviewed: Fender Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster
Jimi Hendrix is quite possibly the most recognisable exponent of the Fender Stratocaster. Revolutionising the style and sound of the electric guitar, his short lived career featured many highly revered performances including his infamous set at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. This particular gig saw Hendrix sporting a hand painted Strat which he subsequently set on fire and smashed in the last song (what a way to get some attention – especially when taking the stage straight after The Who). Aside from some brief Custom Shop runs in the ‘90s and John Mayer commandeering some remakes, this particular Strat hasn’t been a staple of the Fender lineup until now. Celebrating 50 years since the performance, the Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster is hitting the market very soon.
REVIEWED: FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL TELECASTER
Of all of Leo Fender’s designs, the Telecaster is arguably his finest work. Simple, robust and full of punch — it’s an instrument that has been heard on countless recordings. Flash forward to today and Fender has reinvigorated the iconic instrument within their new American Professional series. But the question remains: is this a step in the right direction for the behemoth brand, or are they simply treading water?