Effects Basics: The Compressor


visegripI am often asked by students about compressor pedals. What do they do? Do you use them for solo boosts? If I want a lot of sustain, do I crank the sustain knob? Sustain is good, right? I always tell them more or less the same thing: Compressors aren’t sexy. They don’t make your guitar sound like a spaceship, and they don’t make it swirl, echo, spin, distort, or cry. Why buy a pedal that doesn’t affect your sound in such a dramatic way? To answer that, we have to understand what a compressor actually does to your sound. You actually can feel a compressor working more than hear it, and if you are hearing it, it just may be set wrong. Continue reading

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The Daemoness Valkenbyrd VII

Daemoness pickups

Here at Seymour Duncan we love seeing where our pickups wind up (pardon the pun), whether it’s a set of vintage-accurate Antiquity single coils finding a home in a Stratocaster or a one-off Custom Shop set in a unique custom guitar… such as this Daemoness Valkenbyrd VII. It’s finished in “Skeletorburst,” echoing the hues of the foreboding skies above Eternia’s Snake Mountain. The scale length is a demonically appropriate 666mm, and the neck carve is the Daemoness “Shredator” shape. And the pickups are from the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop (a Black Winter/Nazgul-inspired bridge pickup and a Distortion neck pickup), with custom engraved covers. (If you’re ordering Custom Shop pickups you can upload the artwork for your own custom covers here). Continue reading

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The Vintage Charvel Overhaul Project

"Oh, but we're just getting started..."

“Oh, but we’re just getting started…”

Once people learn I build my own guitars, they usually ask what I’d do to trick out their guitar. It’s always fun to talk shop and make suggestions. But recently my best friend Darren from high school offered me his prized early 80s San Dimas pointy-head Strat. Only the second pointy headstock Charvel to make it to our small town (Charleston, WV) back in the day and, unbeknownst to us at the time, one of the last American-made ones we’d see for a while too. “How about I send it to you and you do your magic?” Needless to say I jumped at the chance. Continue reading

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Should I Change Pickups or Buy a New Guitar?


As a guitar teacher, I get asked this question a lot. Since pickups can radically change or expand the tonal options available from an electric guitar, would it be better to just change the pickups or save up for a whole new guitar? As a guitar tech, it’s tempting to always suggest new pickups, as I might be the one installing them (even though it’s an easy process). As a player, I usually give this advice: it depends. This article will focus on what it actually depends on, and how you might reach a conclusion that is right for you, your budget, and your expectations. Continue reading

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P-Rails Now Available With Triple Shots

P-Rails-with-Triple-Shot-flat-Set-Black_BEAUTYLet’s face it, we can’t all have a half dozen guitars with us everywhere we go. We’d all like one for the rude and and fat single-coil sound of a P-90 that is perfect for blues, rock and punk; another with single-coils with the brightness and snap for rock and blues; and yet another for the fat and warm sounds of a humbucker. The P-Rails with Triple Shots give you the ability to access as many tones as all those guitars combined, and then some. The P-Rails themselves let you switch between P-90, single-coil and humbucker tones, and the the Triple Shots make it easy to switch between these options without having to install push-pull pots on your guitar. And they also let you choose between series and parallel options (explained here).

You can now get your P-Rails pre-wired with Triple Shots in either LP and flat versions. With a regular 3-way switch you’ll get the possibility of 24 unique tones. Continue reading

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The Anatomy Of Single Coil Pickups

We discussed the anatomy of humbuckers in a general sense a while back, and because there are so many varieties of single coil pickups, we thought it was time we should take a look at single coil designs too. Let’s have a look at the internal structure of the single coil in general as well as the various main design ‘families’ of single coil pickups. Continue reading

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Cage Match: Vintage vs Modern Guitar Designs


You know what kind of player you are. The one that grew up staring at the Led Zeppelin poster that had Jimmy Page playing that sunburst Les Paul. One day, you knew you would own a Les Paul, and every guitar you owned until then would just fill your time until you acquired the magical talisman taking you to the gates of Kashmir. For this kind of player, only a Les Paul would do, and it has to be sunburst. Of course, there are similar stories of guitar heroes with Teles, Strats, and striped mongrels, but all of these qualify for the label of ‘vintage design.’ Continue reading

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#AprilFool2015 Introducing The Acoustic Slug

If you ask acoustic guitarists what they’re looking for from their guitars, they’ll all tell you the same thing, whether they play folk, country, blues, country-blues, blues-folk, folk-country, or even classical; they all want crushing brutal distortion which can stun small animals, shock medium-sized ones and plunge large ones into a deep existential crisis. Today’s acoustic guitarists are really pushing the boundaries of tone, and we figured that the perfect way to take their sound to the next level was to adapt one of our most unique electric guitar pickups to make it better suited to acoustic guitar.

Meet the Acoustic Slug.

Acoustic Slug

The electric version of the Slug is an imposing beast with a DC Resistance of 48K, designed specifically with Stoner Rock and Doom Metal guitar tones in mind. It provides an immensely thick tone that retains just enough articulation for individual notes. Continue reading

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The 1970s: The Lost Decade in Guitars


While I wasn’t playing guitar in the 1970′s, I certainly was around. I mean, I started playing in 1979 on a cheap nylon string (I still have it) and progressed to my older brother’s late ’60s Japanese electric that never quite played in tune. In the 1980′s, a friend of my parents got me a stash of old Gibson and Fender catalogs and old Guitar Player magazines. Boy, did guitars look different back then! There is a reason for those, um, questionable decisions made by the big two electric guitar companies,, and as we look back, I am happy some of those ideas didn’t stick. Continue reading

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Do It All: 2 Humbuckers And A 5-Way Switch


Some people want a specific guitar for each tone. Perhaps some chime and cluck from a Strat, or low-end chunk from a Les Paul. Maybe you want the ring or a Rick, or the aged darkness of a hollowbody. This is all well and good if you can own all the guitars you want and have a safe place to keep them all. In the studio it is nice to have the option of all of the right sounds for every part. Live it is great to bring the right guitar for every song too, but sometimes it isn’t practical. Rather than a boatload of different guitars, most working bands get by with a main guitar and a backup capable of many different tones. This article will explain how I like to wire my guitars that have two humbuckers, one volume, one tone, and a 5-way switch so I can get five distinct tones capable of covering a wide variety of sounds. Continue reading

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