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This page is dedicated to product reviews of music gear, tips, and hints to help others get the most out of their musical equipment and further their music careers.
I receive no compensation from any manufactures, makers, artists, record labels, or companies featured on this page.
These are all products that I have personaly purchased, used and abused for years both performing in concert and in the recording studio. I currently use such brands like Epiphone and Gibson Les Paul's, Crate Amplifiers, Shure microphones, Boss, Roland, A.R.T. effects units and stomp boxs. So feel free to check out this lens I've written several gear reviews, and music tips. I have also collected some of the best deals on the featured music gear on ebay and amazon.com!
How to Break Less Guitar Strings
on your Gibson and Epiphone Guitars
I'm a lover of Gibson and Epiphone guitars, especially Les Paul Standards. But as any Gibson or Epiphone guitar player soon finds out the fixed bridge can lead to a lot of string breakage after regular playing.
Years ago while jamming with an ex-brother in-law who was also a Gibson guitar fan. I broke a guitar string; he showed me how he strung up his guitars and basses. By simply inserting the string in the opposite side of the bridge, and wrapping the guitar strings over top of the bridge it reduced the angle that the string normally sat at.
When strung the standard way the strings sit at about a thirty five to forty five degree angle, thus creating a strain on the metal in the string which leads to breakage after heavy use.
But by stringing it in the opposite side (as pictured) and wrapping the string over the bridge it reduces the problem of a sharp angle on the strings. Thus extending the life of the strings and adding a little more sustain to the guitars sound.
As any pro, semi-pro, and amateur guitar player will tell you strings breaking can be costly, and time consuming especially when playing live on stage, and during studio recording sessions.
If you don't have a spare guitar already tuned and ready it can delay a concert or recording studio session anywhere from five to ten minutes, while you restring the guitar. It also can blow a great studio take, and throw the guitar player as well as the band off during a live performance when a string breaks suddenly.
This tip came in handy once I started performing live in concert, and in the recording studio on an almost daily basis. Already on a strained musicians budget, reducing the amount of strings I needed to buy for each gig was a major cost saver. It also saved on those embarrassing and time consuming moments when a string would normally break during a set or recording session.
The only negative result of stringing a Gibson or Epiphone guitar by this method is that because the strings are now sitting on top of the bridge so it can and will mar the chrome finish on the bridge and after time leave small grooves on top of the bridge. On older Gibson, and Epiphone guitars were the bridge is made of nickel, a much softer metal the grooves can be much more noticeable.
This side effect can be eliminated or slowed down by simply coating the bridge piece with a coat or two of clear finger nail polish, or other chrome friendly clear lacquer.
I hope this tip comes in handy to all those Gibson, and Epiphone Guitar and bass lovers out there who also suffer from excessive string breakage. This same tip can also be applied to any guitar that uses a similar bridge system, I've noticed over the years E.S.P., Ibanez, Paul Reed Smith, and several other guitar manufactures have adopted the Gibson style bridges in their guitars.
Epiphone Guitars on Amazon each sale through this page raises money for charity!
Epiphone has been known for almost half a century for making high quality yet budget priced electric and acoustic guitars.
Their most popular line is the Epiphone Models of famous and higher priced Gibson guitars like the Les Paul Standard and Gibson SG.
Order Guitar Strings on Amazon
Guitar Strings come in a wide variety of brands, styles and gauges to fit any guitar players style. Here I have compiled a list off the best selling brands of string on Amazon.
BOSS TU-2 CHROMATIC TUNER
So many years ago when I was playing bass guitar for a touring punk rock band, I was in need of a guitar tuner to help me tune my bass guitar before each performance. I found it was almost impossible to tune a guitar by ear in a noisy and crowded bar. I tried a few pocket tuners and such but most tuners were hard to read in dim lighting as most venues we performed at was dank and dark underground punk rock venues. I looked at rack mount tuners but most was insanely over priced and far out of my meager starving artist budget at the time.
After searching for what seemed to be the elusive Holy Grail of an inexpensive guitar tuner, I finally found in the pages of the Musicians Friend catalog the Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner. This tuner was the answer to my prayers, so to speak. It was compact enough to fit in my bass guitar case, and had a bright digital display and LED lights to show what note I was tuning to and if it was sharp or flat. The Boss Chromatic Tuner is made of rugged metal and painted with a tough white enamel coating, so it's easy to see on stage. Featuring one standard quarter inch input jack, and two quarter inch output jacks. The first output jack mutes the output sound so you can silently tune your guitar onstage, the second output jack is a bypass feature to keep the sound flowing through even if the tuner in turned on or not.
The TU-2 pedal runs on a standard nine volt transistor battery, or you can purchase a D.C. adaptor for a few bucks more. It also features a second D.C. 9 volt output jack to daisy chain the power to other pedals in your arsenal, which came in handy on many occasions. When using a nine volt battery it will keep charged up for several gigs, I roughly had to change batteries maybe once a month under normal playing conditions. But if you leave the guitar cord plugged into the input jack when not in use it will drain the battery virtually over night if you're not careful.
The Digital display and LED lights has several built in options, you can set it to tune in different pitch for those who play in different keys. This feature is handy if you have to tune other instruments like a piano, banjo, or mandolin. I even plugged in a microphone with a quarter inch plug adapter once so I could study what key I was singing in and adjust my vocal pitch accordingly. The LED lights also have a stream feature you can select where the lights chase each other. This makes for a little extra flash and flare while performing on stage, but it will drain more power from the battery when using this feature.
For the beginning guitar or bass player it also features the option of selecting from chromatic mode to bass or guitar mode. In bass or guitar mode it simply displays one through four for bass guitar, or one through six for standard guitar so the beginning user can simply pluck string one for the E string, and follow the arrows to adjust tune sharp or flat until string one is in tune. Then they can move on to string two and so on, until the instrument is completely tuned.
In addition to its rugged outer casing, the TU-2 pedal features and rubber pad on the top foot switch to guarantee that when you hit the pedal with your foot or shoe it will engage or disengage the tuner. It also has a rubber pad on the bottom of the pedal to keep it from slipping around almost all surfaces like carpet, tile, concrete, and yes even the most beer soaked stages.
At the time I bought the Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner pedal it was on sale in the Musicians Friend catalog for around seventy dollars. These days the price has inflated to about ninety eight dollars, but still a great value for someone who needs a rugged and reliable guitar tuner.
When I say rugged, I do mean it, this pedal has had pitchers of beer, and bottled water spilled on it and still kept performing. Once a many years later in another heavy metal band I was performing with, I loaned the TU-2 pedal to my guitar player. He promised he would take care of it and return it in a few days. Later that night he called me up apologizing, he said after leaving practice he had placed the pedal on top of his car while he loaded his guitar in the back seat. Then him and his girl friend at the time drove off, unknowingly the TU-2 was still on top of the vehicle. He didn't realize the mistake until the reached the highway speed of seventy miles and hour. He reported to me that's when he looked in the rearview mirror and saw the pedal fly off, bounce several times on the asphalt then once more off a semi-tractor trailers tire and land in the ditch. He went back to retrieve the pedal for sure that it was destroyed, only to find a small crack in the metal casing and a few chips of paint was missing. He later returned the pedal to me as promised still apologizing for his mistake. I promptly plugged in in and tested it, to mine and his amazement the Boss TU-2 pedal was still perfectly functioning. So no harm no foul I guess, I simply patched the small crack with some tape and returned the pedal to my guitar case.
After that I became a diehard Boss pedal fan, its very rare to find a product that can handle that much abuse and still work properly for several more years.
I whole heartedly give the BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner a rating of TEN PLUS STARS!
Order your BOSS TU-2 CHROMATIC TUNER on Amazon save money and the royalties from each sale go to our selected charities!
Pearl Jam's Ten: A Classic '90s Music Review
Pearl Jam's Ten: A Classic '90s Music Review
With great rock anthems like "Alive", and "Even Flow" to beautiful ballads like "Black", this album proved Pearl Jam's place as amazing song writers and set the cornerstone for their amazing career for years to come.
Great Stuff on Amazon
Guitar picks on Amazon
I've found some great prices on several brands and sizes of guitar picks.
Bass Guitars, Tuners and more on Amazon
Great Savings on Shure Microphones on Amazon
Ibanez guitar products on Amazon
For over 30 years Ibanez has been manufacturing quality electric, bass, and acoustic guitars at reasonable prices. In the last 20 years Ibanez has grown from being a company known for producing knock off style guitars to developing a outstanding and origional line of Guitars, basses, stomp box effects, and smaller value priced guitar and bass amps.
Gear Review: Crate Blue Voodoo 120 watt Guitar Amplifier Head
I bought my Crate Blue Voodoo 120 watt head and matching 4-12 speaker cabinet a little over 12 years ago. I was wanting a half stack since I was gigging a lot at larger venues. I needed a rugged sturdy amp and cabinet but needed a bit of stage flash with the wattage and tone to back it up with.
So I researched amps with in my budget, and the Blue Voodoo just fit the bill. I ordered the head online from a Music gear dealer in California and quickly realized amps this size (the head alone weighs over 60 pounds) cost a bit more in shipping. So when It came to ordering the cabinet I went through a dealer in my home state of Missouri and just made a day trip to St. Louis to pick it up.
With it’s steel frame, face grills, birch wood shell covered in a pretty tough Blue vinyl covering, this amp and speaker cabinet has held up well for being hauled to gigs, Recording studios and such over the years in the back of trailers, trucks, and bumped around concert venues.
I always transported the head in a giant padded plastic Tupperware type tub. It was a much cheaper method than a actual road case and since it’s a rubbery plastic case it does less damage to other equipment/cases when being bumped around in transport.
So any way this 120 watt amp boasts 4 12AX amplifier glass tubes and 4 6L6/5881 metal pre amp tubes. Class A wiring from manufacture Crate it was easily comparable to big brother Ampeg’s more pricy models that shared the same specifications and components.
This is a great amp if you need stage volume it’s got more power than most musicians even need live in concert or in the studio. I rarely had to push the volume on either channel more than half to 3/4ths to cut above the heaviest of percussionists in both punk and metal bands over the years.
The Crate BV120 Head features 2 channels 1 being the nice warm clean channel and 2 being the distortion side, it’s got a great amount of gain for any taste of overdrive or distortion.
Each Channel as a separate reverb control, 3 band equalizer for boosting or cutting the high , mid, and low tones. Separate volumes for each channel and a overall master volume. I like to play in drop tunings like D and C so this amps equalizer handles shaping the mid and low to bring out the drop tunings kick.
It features a effects loop with a 12 decibel boost/cut pad switch, a auxiliary/line out and Mono /Stereo outputs to push single or stereo cabinets. I’ve been happy just using it to push a single matching Crate Slant Cabinet, but has more than enough power if you ever want to go stereo or run as a full stack.
Overall this Crate Blue Voodoo 120 Half Stack has lasted 12 years of regular gigging and recording with out fail. The original tubes that came with the amp when I bought it are still installed and have just now started sounding overly noisy.
Just in the past few years Crate before discontinuing the Blue Voodoo line it has offered more updated models in 300 watt 3 channel heads, combo amps, Sammie Hagar “Red Voodoo” models and such so the chances of finding a great amp at a fair price online or at a pawn shop is a good chance.
So if you need a reliable, durable amp for gigging with lots of power I’d recommend tracking down a Crate Blue Voodoo 120 head and slant cabinet.
Stomp Boxs and other effects on Amazon
For years musicians each have found individual combinations of effects to create and inhance their musical style and sound. Here on Amazon.com I've compiled some great and highly sought after effects pedals to fit your taste in sound.
From basic gritty distortion, singing chorus, swooping flange or a mix of everything topped off with a cry baby wah wah, your gonna love the effects available today.