Reviewed: Jackson Guitars X Series Kelly KEXM & KEXQ
The Jackson Kelly shape is well and truly iconic. It was designed and named by Bradford Kelly from the Australian metal band Heaven in the early 80’s, and found its biggest fame in the hands of one Mr. Marty Friedman during his time with Megadeth. But Marty’s use of the shape didn’t narrow its appeal to just Megadeth fans; it’s one of those designs that stands on its own. Far pointier and more aggressive than the Explorer that clearly influenced it, the Jackson Kelly shape is easily adaptable to a variety of styles.
REVIEWED: JACKSON GUITARS X SERIES & JS SERIES SIGNATURE GUS G. STAR
Last month we looked at the unashamedly metal Jackson USA Custom Shop Gus G. Star. It’s a beautiful guitar but – how do we put this – it costs about as much as a used car. If you’d like to tap into Gus’ vibe without spending a jillion dollars, Jackson offers two more models in the X series and more affordable JS Series.
REVIEWED: JACKSON USA SIGNATURE GUS G. STAR GUITAR
When Gus G. switched from ESP to Jackson, it was a big deal. Gus has a dedicated fanbase who love to collect every piece of gear he uses, and a brand change like that tends to make headlines. Gus had two main lines with ESP – an Eclipse-based model and a star-shaped one – so what form would his Jackson model take? It turns out the answer is the latter, and it’s available at several price points: a budget-friendly JS Series, the more pro-spec’d X Series and this, the USA Signature Gus G. Star made in the Jackson Custom Shop.
Reviewed: Guild T-Bird ST P90
A favourite of rock revivalists The Black Keys, Guild's T-Bird has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance of late. However, unless you want to chance it on a vintage model, these rare birds can be quite hard to come by. All that is set to change though, with the heritage brand returning the T-Bird to the market – capturing the best of what made the original great with some contemporary appoitments that will suit the modern player.
Reviewed: Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH FR in Natural Ash and Transparent Charcoal
It was a sunny, late winter afternoon. Two earthy cardboard boxes stood like sentinels in the lounge room of a tiny studio apartment in the city somewhere. The tension was palpable as a box-cutter trembled cautiously along the tapeline that held back the lid of Pandora’s box. Somewhere in the distance, the seagull-swooping guitar lines of Don Henley’s ‘The Boys Of Summer’ can be heard. This could very well be San Dimas, California; the mood of unbridled energy nestled quietly inside these two solemn packages belongs solely to that golden period of bleached white beaches, gaudy coloured swimwear and nimble guitar work that is the mid to late ‘80s. Printed bold on the side is the unmistakable guitar shaped Charvel logo that belongs to two PM SD2 shredders.
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.