Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings: The Future of Electric Guitar Strings?

Claiming to be 22 percent more magnetization that nickel based electric guitar strings, does the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar string represent the future development of electric guitar strings?

By: Ringo Bones 

Endorsed by both seasoned guitarists Slash and Dream Theater founder John Petrucci, it seems that Ernie Ball is really serious about promoting their new line of electric guitar strings and getting the word out there that it is not only represent the future of electric guitar string development, but also it is able to cater the needs of musicians with very particular needs. Given the nature of contemporary pop music in comparison to late 1980s hair metal and older Blues-based rock, I started to wonder – when I first saw the advert more than a year ago – if the “tone” of the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings maybe just “too radical” for old school guitarist that I grew up with – i.e. Slash and John Petrucci. So, I’ve waited a guitar playing friend of mine to test it out given her old strings are starting to get a bit frayed a few months ago. 

If your weary of electric guitar products produced during the last 20 years that tended to sound “too radical” when you use them for relatively clean toned classic rock and 1950s era Blues. But then again, I’ve kept an open mind when I and my friend auditioned the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings. The “claimed” 22 percent more magnetization means this string will play louder than more conventional counterparts on the same guitar amp gain setting. This also means it will distort sooner than its conventional counterpart at the same gain setting which it did by a few decibels. Sound wise – the Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar strings tend to make your “vintage 1950s or 1960s era” electric guitar and electric guitar amp set-up sound as if it was an early 1980s era MTV direct to the mixing desk rock guitar recording or something in that direction timbre-wise.  

But if your playing style tends toward old school stuff – i.e. early B.B. King and John Lee Hooker – I advise you to carefully audition the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar string because the inherent tone it produces, while richer than its conventional nickel alloy based counterparts, the rich wideband tone may not be to your liking when playing B.B. King’s Lucille on a NOS Sylvania 6L6 vacuum tube equipped 1965 Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp via a Gibson ES 335. The Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings, especially when paired with the EMG DG-20 David Gilmour set-up – just sounds too modern when playing vintage tones. But its relatively high output means it is advantageous when playing in an electrically noisy environment without resorting to humbucker pickups like doing hard-disk recording sessions with your electric guitar near old style computer monitors.      

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Boutique Electric Guitar Amplifiers: Unknown Tone?

A trend started around the early 1980s to find worthy replacement to hard-to-find tone worthy amps like the Fender Champ, has the boutique guitar amplifier scene – then and now – a still largely undiscovered country? 

By: Ringo Bones 

It is somewhat weird and disconcerting while Ronald Reagan was calling on Americans to return to “old values”, any electronic equipment – especially vacuum tube electric guitar amplifiers – from that era Ronald Reagan wants Americans to return to were getting scarcer and scarcer the longer he stayed in power. Tone-worthy electric guitar amplifiers, like the 1958 Fender Champ, were not only acquiring hyper inflated second hand prices, but were also increasingly getting scarce that by the mid 1980s, A “battered” 1958 Fender Champ with a hum problem that gave it a signal to noise ratio of around 40 decibels were selling for nearly 1,000 US dollars on the second-hand market. Given the dilemma, electric guitar amplifier manufacturers quickly exploited the need, but sadly, the boutique amplifier scene is still largely an “undiscovered country” to the uninitiated. 

During the early 1990s, the increasing scarcity of 1950s era Fender Champs finally started an industry that sets to replace them with modern built equivalents that not only sound as good but also as good as the built quality of the original at prices reasonable enough to avoid you from questioning your own sanity once you’ve decided to buy one upon hearing how great it sounds after a few choice chords. Even though every high powered Marshall amps “secretly” wants to sound like a Fender Champ while still being able to play at loud arena-filling labels, modern boutique amps now have their raison d’ĂȘtre near the end of the 20th Century as a recording session amp in a space restricted home studio. 

Around the early 1990s, the Kendrick 2410 Electric Guitar Amplifier got the rave reviews It deserves for delivering what it claims to be able to – and even more. The claim of raw tone and rich harmonics at your fingertips was entirely justified at the time. It might be the “Holy Grail of guitar amps” says guitarist Tery Oubre, but it can be hard to open and check inside when compared to other boutique amps. Interested parties could check out their catalog at Kendrick Amplifiers, PO Box 160 Pflugerville, Tx. 78660. 

While I’m more inclined to use and own the Belov Dragster not only because it is easier to open in order to check out the circuit during vacuum tube replacement time even though the circuit doesn’t run its output tubes at the very inch of their lives thus they tend to last longer than most but also its parallel single ended circuit configuration that uses either 6L6 and EL34 output tubes makes it closer in tone to the original 6V6 output tube equipped Fender Champ. Even though the parallel single-ended output circuit configuration of the Belov Dragster is more at home at Hi-Fi World that at Guitar World, the Belov Dragster electric guitar amp has something to offer to both the guitarist and the hi-fi enthusiast.