Since my very first encounter with DV MARK back in 2011, when I helped developing the Triple 6 (a compact 120 watt metal head) I was impressed by their ability to make things light & compact without compromising tone and headroom.
Their German distributor reached out to me and asked if I could take a look at one of their latest products, focused towards players that rely on pedals to create their sounds. The DV MARK DV “Raw Dawg” EG was created in close cooperation with the incredible Eric Gales, one of the world’s most recognized blues guitar players, using pedals pretty much exclusively.
The Raw Dawg Head is super light & compact, sports a 250 watt power amp and comes with the most straight-forward front panel ever. Volume, 3-band EQ, Reverb and a footswitch connector.
And here’s how it sounds, just using a simple overdrive in front of it:
Something I didn’t have on my radar and it’s pretty good!
A while ago I was browsing around on Reverb.com because I was bored and I am always out searching for stuff I might not know about. I like to get surprised by new gear. And in this case, I was really lucky to find what I found.
I had never heard about Black Widow Audio as a company, but there it was…this really intriguing rack unit called MGP-1A. I checked a video from NAMM that was already 2 years old where Brian, who invented the preamp, talked about the concept and the idea behind the MGP-1A. Now I was more than curious.
I contacted Brian right away and asked about the possibility to test and demo the unit. After a few emails we exchanged details and the MGP-1A was on the way to me.
Unpacked, connected and go!
The greatest thing about the Black Widow Audio MGP-1A is that you don’t actually have to read the manual, if you want to start playing. The front panel tells you what’s going on for the most part. 3 channels, 3 amp models per channel, modded versions of the amp, Bright, Deep, EQ shift and alternative EQ. It’s so easy to handle and to dial in tones. Theoretically speaking, the MGP-1A is a modeling preamp…a tube modeling preamp. If you think about modeling, the first thing that comes to mind is a learning curve, dialing in and fine tuning sounds will take some time, because let’s be honest: most of the stock presets are not what you’re looking for.
Here’s where the MGP-1A closes the gap! No learning curve, no sub-menus for fine tuning, just a couple of buttons and knobs that will give you that amp-like instant reward feeling.
So, here’s a first video of a small series I will be doing with the MGP-1A, going over the basic concept and playing a song obviously. Stay tuned for more on this great piece of gear!
At least that’s what I thought back then when I tested the Diezel Zerrer, which had just been released as Diezel’s first ever pedal product. But Peter told me that he was working on something more simple and affordable to get that Diezel VH4 Channel 3 sound.
And he delivered! Because the Diezel VH4 Pedal is definitely the closest recreation to that very sound. You’ve heard it on recordings from so many artists, not matter what kind of genre we’re talking. And that’s because the VH4 takes literally anything and it sounds right, regardless of guitar type, tuning, pedals in front or not.
The VH4 Pedal comes with a simple set of controls, but they have a huge impact on the overall sound. You can select to use the pedal as an overdrive/distortion in front of your amp or just plug it into a power amp or the FX return on your amplifier.
For this video though, I decided to put the VH4 Pedal to the test for direct recording…which worked out great. Straight into my audio interface and with two cabinet IRs. All the tracks you hear in the video were recorded like this. Enjoy and be sure to check this pedal out yourself.
While the Heartbreaker I tested recently is a full-blown British rock amp in a small pedal format, Thermion’s Gasoline is a complete different beast – with the emphasis on beast!
The compact and handmade pedal recreates the sound of American high-gain amps, using high-quality components. Thermion Engineering really took their time to not only find the right parts for the Gasoline, but also make it as versatile as possible. Three modes (Vintage, Raw & Modern) offer different gain & tone shapes in addition to the very effective 3-band EQ plus Deep and Presence controls.
Since the Gasoline also comes with the SE2 technology, I connected it directly with my audio interface and applied to of their cabinet IRs to record all the guitar tracks in the demo song. I was really impressed how good that sounded. I didn’t even have to use a boost oder overdrive pedal in front to tighten it.
If you’re into British rock & blues sounds, you have to check this out!
Thermion Engineering is a Spanish company that started out in 2012 as a local technical service, repairing and modding amps and pedals. After a long time of working with musicians from different genres, Thermion decided to come up with their own designs, based on the years of experience.
The Heartbreaker is a faithful recreation of a classic British-voiced rock & blues amp and can be used in a variety of scenarios. Thanks to the mode switch (Vintage, Raw, Modern) it offers three different voicings, which can be further adjusted with its 3-band EQ. Pre-Amp and Master will recreate the sound and response of a half- or fully-cranked amplifier. Level works as an overall master control.
The fully hand-built Thermion Heartbreaker can be used in front of any amp, but also works pretty well in the FX return as a great sounding preamp. You can listen to the sound of it in the video:
The guitar amplifier industry has definitely experienced some big changes in the past recent years. While tube amps became way more affordable at some point, with companies like Bugera or Blackheart flooding the market with models at entry-level prices, the big companies followed to keep up in order to not loose market share. We also saw small 1 or 2 men companies slowly emerging as they came up with new designs and solutions for touring guitarists who want flexibility without changing into the world of digital solutions. Driftwood Amplifiers from Germany is one of them!
Purple Nightmare Master Section (click to enlarge)
More like “a dream come true” than an actual nightmare
Like many amp builders, Driftwood started out as a service point for amps & electronics in case you needed something fixed by a professional. After many years of experience in this field, they started creating their own designs, while taking into account what their customers would want to have in an amplifier.
Everybody who knows me and my taste in guitars also knows that I became a big fan of Jeff Kiesel’s designs, since I received my Kiesel Vader V6 in spring this year. When he introduced the new Aries model a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised…not about Kiesel making a 24-fret bolt-on guitar! I was surprised about how they would produce such a rich instrument in a price range, made in the US, where other companies present you their standard model, made…well, somewhere in Asia.
So when I was checking the “Guitars in-stock” section on the Kiesel/Carvin website the other day, I had a hard time deciding which of the available Aries A6 I should be going for. They all had identical features, but all of them came in a different exciting finish. I remembered that a buddy of mine once got himself a Blue Mist Metallic Carvin CT model, which looks stunning. So I got in contact with Kiesel…
First of all… sorry for my absence regarding videos and this blog! It has been a busy time and I have been recording a lot music that I want to put out there soon. Everybody who knows how much effort it is, will most likely understand that…regardless! 🙂
Since Doug from Blackmachine Guitars in London came up with that very unique inline headstock design (which certainly received a lot of attention), many other luthiers imitated or at least came very close to the original. Since Blackmachine decided to keep the production level very low and be as close to the customer’s wishes as possible, companies like Skervesen for example produced guitars with that headstock design in rather large numbers.
Neko is a very young company with only a small team of people behind the operation. But they are fans of that headstock design and clearly express that with the introduction of the Claymore model!
Since I did the Kiesel Vader unboxing video and the full review a couple of days later, I received a lot of messages on all channels. Most of you guys wanted to know more specifics about ordering, shipping and customs handling. But a big number of people were asking me about the Kiesel Lithium pickups, which come standard with every new Vader model (and are currently a free upgrade to every guitar you order at Carvin).
So I decided to examine them a little more detailed, simply because it is very rare that a guitar company designs their own pickups which sound this amazing, that you feel you don’t want to swap them with some brand pickups right away.
Since words can hardly describe how something sounds, I will leave you with some recorded snippets I did in two different tunings, E standard and Drop B. Every clip starts at the bridge pickup and moves through all 5 positions toward the neck pickup.
Headless guitars always have been dividing guitar players into two camps: Some like them, others can’t stand them at all! And every time I read discussions about this topic online, I get the impression that it will most likely never change. Let’s be clear about one point though…90% of all negative comments are about the aesthetics of a headless guitar. Some guys just don’t like a guitar without headstock, period!
On the technical side of things, a headless guitar actually has a lot of advantages. It weighs less than a guitar with headstock, it’s smaller and therefor more travel-friendly and it stays in tune way better due to the fact that it doesn’t need a nut. The zero-fret also makes fretted notes sound equal to open notes, which is something I personally like for my feeling when I play. Don’t get me wrong! I am not totally pro headless and against traditional guitars. I just like the advantages and the feel of a headless instrument, especially when it comes to traveling. Plus, some of the guitar players that really had a impact on me used headless guitars, Allan Holdsworth and Paul Masvidal.
Whatever you think about headless instruments – they seriously have seen a resurrection in the past years. With more technical music slowly rising into various musical genres, players appreciated the characteristics of those “weird looking guitars”.
So why a Kiesel/Carvin?
First of all, for those of you who haven’t heard about the company at all (I actually met some guys who didn’t): Carvin has been around since 1915 and looks back on a long legacy in producing musical instruments, as well as amplifiers and audio electronics. They recently divided the company into several divisions in order to specialize and grow in each sector, guitars & basses, pro audio and amplifiers. To honor their founder, Lowell C. Kiesel, the company started to give this new line of instruments the original family name, Kiesel Guitars.