REVIEWED: ERNIE BALL PARADIGM STRINGS
Breaking strings is the worst. It’s the guitar equivalent of blowing a tyre, dropping your ice-cream on the ground or having your parents walk in on you and your Tinder date. Ernie Ball is justifiably proud of their world-class strings, and they don’t want you to break ‘em. They want you to change them only after the eventual tone loss that affects all strings, not after one overly-ambitious bend in the heat of the moment. So, with that in mind, meet Paradigm Strings.
REVIEWED: TC ELECTRONIC PROPHET DIGITAL DELAY
Some of the most iconic delay sounds of the 80s and 90s were created with the help of immersive digital delay, and the prophet has this in spades. From tight, reverberating snapbacks to long-reaching and mesmerising swells, this pedal will have you covered. An essential tool for players looking to add a touch of ambience to their playing, the Prophet offers nothing but a pitch-perfect recreation of your original guitar tone. That means no colouration, no tricks, just an honest to goodness method of fattening up your sound while staying true to the source.
REVIEWED: ESTEVE 3Z CEDAR CLASSICAL GUITAR
Esteve guitars have a long-standing reputation that's built upon prestige, authenticity and traditional craftsmanship that's been handed down from generation to generation. First established by Francisco Esteve in 1957, their workshop has grown from strength to strength since its initial inception – all the while retaining core values of old-world design, albeit updated with modern construction methods. With 52 craftspeople employed in their workshop, the end product is a guitar that feels like a Spanish heirloom, but holds the modern playability and intonation of a new instrument without suffering the shortcomings of mass-produced guitars.
REVIEWED: AUDIO-TECHNICA LP3 BELT DRIVE TURNTABLE
Here’s one for those of you who are have your own space set aside at home for simply listening to a favourite record, and don’t need any of the bells and whistles that a DJ-inspired turntable would normally offer. In fact, you don’t really want a direct drive turntable at all, and would be much better suited with a stable belt driven unit that delivers even and consistent playback. And if you want all this without blowing your entire budget on the hardware, then the Audio-Technica LP3 is certainly worth a listen.
REVIEWED: THE CHARVEL USA SELECT SO-CAL
Charvel’s connection with the Strat hails back to the late 1970s when the guitar manufacturer had a penchant for producing reincarnations of the beloved model. Back then they were referred to as the Superstrat, and regularly featured a Strat-shaped body with a single humbucker and a tremolo bridge system. Within Charvel’s newly released USA Select Series the So-Cal model is the guitar that comes closest to the Charvel Strats of old. And while it’s a loosely tied ode to models gone by, it’s nice to see Charvel revive a long-running relationship with the guitar that helped them reach early prominence.
REVIEWED: THE COLLINGS GUITARS WATERLOO WL-K ACOUSTIC GUITAR
Inspired by depression era guitars, Waterloo by Collings Guitars visits a time of basic and far from perfect instruments. The WL-K is an attempt at the best parts of a rich American past without the rag tag assembly.
REVIEWED: PEARL MASTERS MAPLE COMPLETE SERIES MCT DRUM KIT
Sitting under their flagships of Masterworks and Reference, and aimed at drummers who don’t need umpteenth options and full customisation, Pearl has streamlined things with the Masters Complete Series with just two variants to keep things simple – MCT and MRV. I got a chance to have a look at the MCT and it’s something of a gem in a world of so many choices.
REVIEWED: AURALEX ISO-TONE TURNTABLE ISOLATION PLATFORM
I’ve run into all sorts of issues with operating turntables in all manner of environments over the years. When flying a rig from a warehouse ceiling, or having it supported from the same structure as a stage, you run into a range of various isolation issues depending on the situation. The same goes for setting up turntables at home, be it a single unit for general listening or a pair for DJ mixing in a party or practice environment. I’ve gone through all the tricks over the years and still have found myself resorting to some MacGyver-style techniques to make the best of some bad situations. It’s a shame I didn’t have a pair of Auralex Iso-Tone turntable isolation platforms 20 years ago, they would have solved a lot of issued and saved me a fortune in gaffer tape and other materials.