Gibson Flying V

Gibson Flying V

Year: 200x

Made In: USA

Specs: Mahogany body, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Gibson 496R and 500T pickups

Controls: Volume x 2, tone & 3-way switch

I picked this up, along with an Explorer, in exchange for the PRS McCarty covered elsewhere on the blog. It seemed like a decent deal at the time. This guitar was perfectly ok but, in truth, nothing more. There was nothing specifically poor about it, it was just underwhelming in every way and got eased on out the door after a short while for a Bigsby-packing Telecaster. There’s not much more to say about it, really.



Bacchus JST

Bacchus JST

Year: 2003

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Yuta single-coil x 3

Controls: Volume, tone x 2, five-way switch

There’s business and there’s serious business. This one surfaced in Cork, of all places, for very little money but I didn’t have the cash at the time and tried to wipe it from my mind, thinking it would be snapped up immediately at that asking price. A month later, I noticed the ad again and it had the usual tyre kicker comments but looked like it hadn’t sold. I contacted the seller and, to my amazement, it was still available. I travelled down the next day. He opened the case, I saw the three-digit serial number and the deal was done straight away. I’ve contacted Bacchus looking for information but all they could confirm was it was a custom order.

At the risk of not making absolute sense, this is the strattiest strat I have ever played. It encompasses everything, in my mind, which defines a strat to the absolute maximum. It’s hard to articulate, to be honest.

It feels great. It has meaty C shaped neck, small frets, super thin finish with a real old vibe to it. Accordingly, the bridge pickup doesn’t go to a tone control and, while bright, is not unbearably harsh. The one modern concession made is a five-way switch. It’s stratty to a ridiculous level and entirely charming as a result.

This is serious business.

LTD H-207

LTD H-207

Year: 199x

Made In: Korea

Specs: Alder body with ash top, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x Duncan Designed pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Volume, tone, 3-way switch

I’ve log been a disciple of the sound of a downtuned guitar and picked up a H-207  in the early 2000’s to see what the fuss was over seven-string guitars. These were pretty cheap at the time but surprisingly good for the money. I could never find a set of strings with balanced tension, though. The B was always looser than it should have been. Every set I found should have had a heavier B but it was a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. I never really settled on a seven,  finding sixes more suitable to what I play and what my hands like. In the end, I just went back to tuning down six-strings and eased it on out the door. Nice guitar, all the same.

Alembic Orion

Alembic Orion

Year: 2004

Made In: USA

Specs: Mahogany body with purpleheart & maple stringers, walnut top, five-piece maple & purpleheart neck, ebony fretboard

Electronics: Alembic MXY pickups, 2-band EQ

Controls: Volume, blend, bass cut & boost, treble cut & boost

Every Alembic is a one-of-a-kind. They’re very special instruments and that’s obvious from the moment your eyes land on one. I think it’s fair to say this one has a lot going for it even if the set-neck Orion isn’t one of their more exotic models. This is one of the few Orions made with their Crown headstock and not many come with the fretboard ovals either. It was commissioned by a shop in the Netherlands originally.

Unplugged, it sounds very different to your average ash/alder body & maple neck bolt-on. It’s a much, much tighter sound with great projection. It feels a little different too. It’s got a seriously solid vibe to it, without being overly heavy, everything about it has substance. The Orion is a great body shape, I think, which balances well. Upper neck access is incredible and the neck is quite traditional in terms of size and shape. It’s really nice to play.

As Alembics go, this is pretty straightforward, electronically. It doesn’t have filters (yet), just a relatively standard 2-band EQ with high and low end cut and boost. Having said that, it’s not short on variety, there are a huge range of tones at your fingertips. The pickups are slightly further apart than a J bass, for example, the neck pickup is closer to the neck, the bridge pickup closer to the bridge. This gives you a naturally wider scope of sound to play with. A lot of the money you pay for Alembics goes into the electronics and, even at a high level, this is readily apparent. The blend pot is useful to the full extent of its travel. Really small tweaks make really big differences. This is also reflected in the other controls, minor changes have a big influence on the sound. There’s a huge amount of low end naturally, and the whole thing reeks of quality. The MXY pickups really reflect the tight sound you hear unplugged. It’s a really clean, articulate sound but there’s enough output to drive any amp into delicious dirt.

We call this one “El Presidente”.

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Year: 2002

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: EBMM humbucking pickup, 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, Bass cut & boost, Mid cut & boost, Treble cut & boost

This arrived as a trade for the Bacchus Venus. It’s hard to go wrong with a Stingray. This was the three-band EQ version and, to be honest, I found the much maligned mid control quite useful. A small boost really helped cut through without losing the classic Stingray tone. I liked this bass but, once the Godlyke arrived which covered much the same ground, it fell down the pecking order and I eased it on out the door.

Ibanez RG3270

Ibanez RG3270

Year: 2003

Made In: Japan

Specs: Mahogany body with maple top, 3 piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: DiMarzio PAF Pro humbuckers x 2, Blue Velvet single-coil.

Controls: Volume, tone & 5-way switch

This one, despite being a decent guitar, didn’t stay long. It had the neck from the RG550 on it when I picked it up. I returned each neck to the right guitar and it turned out the RG550 was clearly the better player, despite this one being very easy on the eye, so I eased it on out the door. It helped fund the white Bacchus strat, so I am still somewhat fond of it for that reason.

Warwick Streamer LX

Warwick Streamer LX

Year: 2004/2009

Made In: Germany

Specs: Maple body, three-piece ovangkol neck, ebony fingerboard

Electronics: MEC P & J pickups, MEC 2-band preamp

Controls: Volume with push/pull for active and passive circuit, Pickup blend, Bass cut and boost, Treble cut and boost

A tale of two Warwicks. The Streamer is, in my mind, one of the great basses. It’s a wonderfully balanced and comfortable design with a lovely, aggressive tone which cuts through the thickest mix. I’m very much a fan.

This fretless is a mix of two basses. Originally, the body was a black and with a fretted neck, made in 2004. It was my first Warwick. It had seen a fair bit of action and needed a bit of TLC but it converted me to its wondrous German ways.

A few years later, I picked up the Streamer Stage 1 covered elsewhere and the two were tonally different, but close enough still to cover a lot of the same ground. A few years later again, I was fortunate enough to pick up a fretless Streamer Jazzman LX made in 2009.

There were some problems with the finish on the black body, so I decided to have it refinished in white and, when it returned, struck upon the idea of swapping the necks. It worked well, I preferred the sound of the P&J with the fretless neck and the Jazzman offered a range of new fretted Warwick tones I hadn’t had before. I think I’ll leave them like this for the foreseeable future.

The neck was originally unlined, but had been lined by the time I got it. This sometimes comes in handy when the standard of my fretless chops have slipped, even if it does feel a little like cheating. I think the classic Warwick growl works really well in the fretless context, even moreso than the classic Jazz tone we all know and love.