We read ’em, so you don’t have to, that’s our monthly motto. It’s mid-April, again I’m buying May mags so here’s what happened in print publishing land this current month. Some interesting features for your reading pleasure.
Great cover story, “Son of a Burst.’ This feature compares a 1959 Gibson goldtop Les Paul original owned by rocker Bernie Marsden and worth $475,000 with the new Gibson Les Paul Classic Custom ($2,225, American-made) and the new PRS SE Bernie Marsden ($460, Korean-made). Check out the great A/B video above, showing Bernie playing the Beast and its Korean signature copy.
Peter Eggle Guitars - Berlin Evo '50
It’s fascinating in that it takes apart all three (to some degree), shows you the inside of the ’59, named the “Beast,” and gives you a rundown on the Classic Custom and the PRS SE BM. Hands down, no surprise, the original surpasses. And the Classic Custom is a nice guitar, tried one yesterday, very sweet appointments and tones. The review of the PRS SE in this article has it sounding more like the ’59 beast than the more expensive new Les Paul. That said the new Les Paul, at more than 5X the cost of the PRS, is likely the better overall guitar of the two new ones. But tone-wise, according to Bernie and the editors, nice job Paul Reed Smith and the PRS team. Glad they overturned that 2001 lawsuit Gibson filed in 2005.
Also on tap, review of Flying Colors release and interview with Steve Morse; review of the PRS Stripped 58, review of beautiful Patrick Eggle Guitars Berlin Evo Legend ’50, only $5,000! – a Brit luthier who came up with his own version of the PRS Custom 24 20 years ago. Boy, I crave a quilted and figured top like this one.
This mag is consistently thorough with long-form articles and eye-candy intermingled in a balanced manner. My fave U.S. guitar magazine I find. This month has a unique feature, part of their Studio Legends series on Iconic Engineers, on Alan Parsons and his recording of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. If you don’t know him from his hits in the ’70s from the Alan Parsons Project (Eye in the Sky, anybody?), his first work as a 19-year-old assistant engineer at Abbey Road was to track Let It Be and Abbey Road, the last two from The Beatles. Wow, that’s the way to learn the ropes.
Alan Parsons at Abbey Road Studios
He was promoted to full engineer and recorded the Pink Floyd magnum opus, Dark Side of the Moon. It took nearly a year of recording, hit the charts in March 1973, made the top of the charts within a week and grew to one of the best-selling albums of all time. Interesting series from PG, Insights from Iconic Engineers, and Parsons sure qualifies. Noteworthy tidbits from an engineer who has recorded the guitar tones of David Gilmour and George Harrison, to name just a few (ok, The Hollies, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, and on and on):
- Uses condenser mics vs. dynamic on guitar amps (Neumann U 87 or U 86’s), “Dynamic mikes tend to accentuate what I would call “hard” top-end frequencies…and that’s just the area you generally don’t want to accentuate on an electric guitar.”
- Parsons avoids close mic placements on guitar amps, disagreeing with live sound engineers, saying that he starts eight to nine inches away from amp in live settings and maybe even start a foot and a half for studio settings. He notes that this placement is helpful “…because if you mic a speaker of an amplifier in a certain location, you’re just hearing that part of the speaker, not the whole speaker.”
- “David Gilmour was often in the control room with his amp in the studio…his whole rig was out in the studio…we ran a long guitar cable, which I found out later was probably not a good idea [laughs].”
- Parsons final thoughts: “Never be afraid to add bottom end if you’re a guitarist. Electric guitars can sound thin and hard, and rather than remove that hardness, I add some bottom end on the console to smooth it out.”
Guitar & Bass
Strong issue with great roundup of NAMM 2012, including mention of over 100 new models promoted at the winter 2011-2012 show this year. Included mention of an amp I pre-ordered from Sweetwater.com. It’s called the Vox AC4C1-BL and it came and sings beautifully to my ears, especially for $299. It’s a new version of my current AC4 with gain and mains knobs, bass and treble EQ, without the wattage attenuation of the AC4. Great tones.
Richard Thompson & his Danelectro
This issue has a solid three-page piece on Richard Thompson and the release of a new live Blu-Ray recording. Nice photo of RT and a cool baby blue Danelectro! Inset box memorable for this quote:
I think there is a time that as a songwriter you say: things are so bad I’m going to write a song that names names. You don’t hold back…you just say: things are shit, it’s time for the revolution, let’s kick out the despots…There is a time for that kind of song./ I think otherwise you’re better served by writing under a few veils with political songs, so you write political allegory, you write a political song as a love song, or as a kind of satire, where it’s a little softer and not so in your face. I think if you do that the songs have a longer shelf life.”
Gibson Novoselic RD Bass
And because, I have neglected to cover any magazine’s work covering the world of electric basses, for an online friend of mine in Georgia, there’s a review of a sweet looking new Gibson bass in this issue. It’s a reissue of the maple RD Artists model that Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic used on Nevermind, called the Gibson Novaselic RD Bass. Here’s the build specs: “Maple body, set maple neck with 20 medium nickel frets on an obeche fingerboard, Grover shamrock tuners and Gibson three-point string-through bridge with chrome hardware; passive pickups with one Seymour Duncan Basslines STK-Jn and one STK-Jb pickup; comes in black ebony only and weighs about 12 pounds with a 34” scale. According to reviewer, its 12.2 lbs make it “one of the heaviest four-strings we’ve ever played.”