Edwards E-FV-100STD

TECHNIKA SH-A366

Edwards E-FV-100STD

Year: 2004

Made In: Japan/China

Specs: Mahogany body, maple top, one-piece mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Seymour Duncan SH-1N & SH-14 pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Volume x 2, Tone x 2, 3 way switch

TECHNIKA SH-A366

When it comes to being easy on the eye, this Edwards V is hard to beat and that was a large part of why I took a gamble on this one from the U-box. There’s something evocative about the V shape and the 58 design, in particular, is a favourite of mine. Edwards guitars are generally put assembled, I believe, in China, with the electronics and finishing touches done by ESP in Japan. They use quality parts, such as those found on this one: SD pickups, Tonepros bridge and Sperzel locking tuners. It needed minor fretwork and a setup when it arrived and is a very nice piece of equipment. The neck pickup tone, in particular, is as good as anything I’ve played. It’s light, balances well and the chunky neck suits my hands, really a very nice guitar to play. There’s a lot of tonal flexibility. Although not a very high output package, it has enough to deliver a satisfying chug if needed.

After a couple of years, I eased this one on out the door to raise funds for a Bacchus purchase and instantly regretted the decision. Several years later, I saw it for sale again at an absurdly low price, but not before several other people had seen it first and were ahead of me in the queue. Coincidentally, I had been lamenting the decision to sell with friends just a few days before seeing the ad and was suitably distraught. However, realising the pricing error he had made, the seller weaseled out of his sale and immediately relisted it at a higher price, much to the annoyance of the prospective buyers. Everyone took umbrage, except for me, and I bought it back at a price still handsomely lower than that at which I had originally sold it. It had a few more knocks but the fundamental playability and tone were still there, as well as that fantastic top. It remains the only guitar I’ve ever even tried to get back. All in all a superb guitar for the money and one which still gets a lot of use.

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

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Aria Pro II SB-R80

Aria Pro II SB-R80

Year: 1983

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body wings, five-piece maple and walnut neck-through, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x MBII pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Stacked Volume & Tone x 2, Parallel/Series switches x 2

An iconic 80’s legend, the Aria SB series seems to finally be getting the respect it has long deserved. They are generally superbly built, though they tend to be on the heavier side. I picked up this SB-R80 in pretty poor shape, after what appeared to be many years of neglect. The rotary pickup switch was incredibly noisy and, upon further inspection, one of the coils of the neck pickup was dead. The MBII is a great, punchy sounding humbucking pickup but it seems like many have suffered the same issue with one or both of the coils dying over time. Underneath the large pickup cover, the two coils travel the full length of the pickup side-by-side, however, there are pole pieces for the E and A strings on one side and the D and G strings on the other, almost like a Precision setup. When a coil is dead, people sometimes think it’s the switch. In parallel mode, you still get a signal from the live coil and a weaker response from the strings over the dead coil. It’s only when you switch to series that the signal disappears altogether. It’s a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way.

Given the amount of work required and parts needed to be replaced, I decided not to religiously stick to the original design and installed an Aguilar OBP-1 preamp and changed the controls to Volume-Pan-Bass-Treble, keeping the two parallel/series switches. I contacted Aaron (son of Kent) Armstrong to build a replacement pickup and set about the rest of the work required – fret level and dress, replaced the tuners and removed the finish, which was too badly battered, from the back of the neck and oil finished. Eventually, the pickup arrived and, much to my disappointment, it sounded nothing like the other MBII. Aaron’s pickup uses full length blades instead of staggered pole pieces. They didn’t work well as a pair at all, just very differently voiced. A friend had ordered a replacement for a dead MBII he had, so I traded my MBII for his Armstrong, just to get a matched pair of pickups and end up with something usable.

An all-original SB remains high on my wish-list, though finding ones with original, working pickups is getting harder and harder. Though a nice player with a decent tone, the disappointment of the replacement pickup on this one didn’t go away and I eventually eased it on out the door.

ESP 400 Series Jazz

TECHNIKA SH-A366

ESP 400 Series Jazz

Year: 1987-1989

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x JS-130 pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Volume x 2, Tone

TECHNIKA SH-A366

In early 1993 this bass was offered to me for IR£300. I had been looking for a new bass and, at a time when late 70’s Fender Precisions could be bought for IR£250, it wasn’t cheap, even though it was used. I paid the sum, got the bass and, to this day, this is the bass by which all others are judged. Sometimes reproductions can surpass the originals and I’d definitely say this is one. Like the Bacchus P, it does everything you could want from this kind of bass, but it has something extra which makes it exceptional.

The guy I bought it off had painted Tank Girl – yes I know – on it which had left some dark shadows in the gloss coat so I sanded most of that off shortly after buying it. It left me with a slightly battered looking bass, but it played and sounded amazingly well. Some instruments are just better than others for reasons you can never quite pinpoint and this is one. Despite being someone who habitually likes to prick around with guitars, modify them and replace bits, this one is still all stock. This is the bass which steered me towards bypassing amp EQ sections. Plug in and go, it has always been the way with this one. I asked ESP to date it but seemingly they lost a lot of documents in a fire a few years back, the closest date they could give me was between 1987 and 1989.

I gigged it all through the 90’s and 00’s and it has taken a fair amount of abuse, it has seen better days but I have yet to play another J bass which even comes close. Many have taken a shot at the title but the ESP remains the champ.

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Year: 2000

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 3 x Fender single coil pickups

Controls: Volume, 2 x Tone, 5-way switch

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When you get the urge for a Strat, and you should at some point, it’s worth investing some time in finding the right Strat for you. A Strat, like a puppy, is not just for xmas, but more like a lifelong companion. No matter what the world throws at you, once you’ve got the right Strat with you, everything will be ok. This is the law.

With this in mind, I played a lot of Strats before finding this white-blonde, ash bodied beauty in Dublin in late summer of 2000. More so than any other guitar I tried, this one just spoke to me and I paid an eye-watering sum to secure it.

For several months, the Strat and I lived in a bliss-like state, secure in our mutual admiration and understanding. No matter what I played, the Strat made it sound good. It was the best of times. However, trouble lay in wait and, after about nine months, a sizeable crack in the finish appeared along the edge of the skunk-stripe in the back of the neck. Concerned, but not overly so, I kept playing but had to concede defeat as several more cracks started to appear in the neck finish. Back to the shop we went and the Strat went back to Fender for examination.

A couple of weeks later I received the call and eagerly went back to collect my Strat.

“Eh, it looks like they replaced the neck.” I was told.

In these days of CNC production, a neck change should be a straightforward thing, swapping like for like. Or so I thought. Try as I might and, believe me I tried, I really tried, I could never set it up as I liked with the 2001 neck. It just never felt right. It didn’t sound right either, I had to set the pickups a lot lower than with the first neck as they were interfering with the string vibration, affecting sustain and intonation. I couldn’t believe it. The 2001 neck was a pale shadow of the original 2000 neck. It was probably a perfectly fine guitar in its revised state, indeed friends told me so, but it simply wasn’t comparable to just how good the original guitar had been. A phenomenal instrument which transcended the sum of its parts was gone.

I persisted for a few years but the experience was never the same, much like a girlfriend with a prosthetic leg, and couldn’t bond with what felt like a stranger. Eventually, I eased it on out the door and embarked on another search for a Strat for life.

Lakland 55-02 Skyline

Lakland 55-02 Skyline

Year: 200x

Made In: Korea

Specs: Ash body, one-piece maple neck, maple fretboard

Electronics: Lakland MM & J pickups, Lakland/Hanson preamp

Controls: Volume, Pickup blend, Bass +-, Mid +-, Treble +-,  3-way coil selection switch for the MM. Volume is push/pull to engage/bypass the preamp.

10

This was a nice bass but, for whatever reason, I never really bonded with it. It’s a clever design built to a high standard, 35″ scale, and plays really well but despite all that, I never really found a real use for it. It covered a lot of ground tonally and perhaps that was the problem. It didn’t really have its own sound, its own stamp of authority which made it indispensable so I eased it on out the door after a year or two.

Bacchus Woodline P Classic

TECHNIKA SH-A366

Bacchus Woodline P Classic

Year: 2007

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: HMC PB Alnico 5 pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Volume, Tone

TECHNIKA SH-A366

Bacchus’ take on a classic design, made from around 2006 to 2009, features a slightly smaller than standard body and is very light. The neck is chunky, in keeping with Precision tradition, and features luminous side dots. I bought this new from Japan on the strength of other Bacchus I had played and wasn’t let down. Typically, the build quality is superb it feels comfortable sitting or on a strap. It does all which could be asked of a P with a tweak of the tone control. This thing has meat!

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

TECHNIKA SH-A366

Basses of 2015

TECHNIKA SH-A366 Clockwise from top left: EBMM Stingray, G&L L2000, Charvel JP, Mightymite Jazz, Hotwire Custom, Warwick Streamer LX, Godlyke Disciple, ESP 400 Series Jazz, Warwick Streamer Stage I, Status S3000, Bacchus 02 Standard 5, PRS Electric Bass 4,  Alembic Orion, Bacchus 24, Warwick LX Streamer Jazzman, Bacchus Woodline P Classic