High Gloss Finishes On Our Guitars

A while ago I was asked about different types of lacquer and how luthiers are able to get their guitars to look as glossy as they do. Sometimes they look as if they’re dipped in glass! In this article we’ll take a close look at how luthiers prepare the guitar for finishing and the final processes of making the lacquer as shiny as possible but first, let’s take a closer look at the various types of lacquer, varnish and finishing products available. We’ve discussed the various types of lacquer in depth a while back, but it doesn’t hurt to recap some types of lacquer and finish.

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My Favorite Pickups for Fender Stratocasters®

charvel71I was a humbucker-kinda guy for years. Sparkle, chime, glassiness and notched tones? Not my thing. I needed power, aggression, tightness, harmonics, articulation! But when I finally got a great Strat I understood the attraction. Personally I still can’t cope with the standard bridge pickup in a Strat. The way I use a Strat and my amps (I only use single channel amps, set up with a decent amount of gain and I roll down my volume pot if I need to clean it up) I need the bridge pickup to be a humbucker and the neck and middle pickups to be single coils. That being said, there are a few nice pickups to go in the bridge position of a Strat, real single coils, that put a smile on my face. Let’s take a look at the pickups for Strats that really work for me! Continue reading

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Meet The Vise Grip Guitar Compressor Pedal

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Meet the newest member of the Seymour Duncan guitar effect pedal family: the Vise Grip compressor. It’s an all-analog soft-knee compressor pedal with more than a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s designed to give you studio-grade sound and it’s carefully engineered to give you an extremely fine level of control in an intuitive way without requiring lots of set-up time.

There are four knobs (Blend, Attack, Sustain and Volume) plus a Mid/Full/High switch. Let’s start at Volume: you can use it to match your ‘effect-on’ sound with the level of your bypassed sound, of course, but you can also use it for a boost, so you can put some extra oomph into your amp while tightening up the attack, or simply to boost clean your signal a little louder for solos and fills. The Sustain knob sets how long your notes will ring out for, the Attack control governs how quickly the compressor reacts to your initial note attack (from 2.0ms to 50ms), and the Blend control lets you balance the ratio of compressed and uncompressed tone. This is a great way to add dynamics and transparency to your sound even when heavily compressed. It lets you take away the dullness that most compressors add to the tone, and it’s something you won’t find in most pedal compressors.VISEGRIP

Another important feature is the Mid/Full/High switch. It lets you select specific uncompressed frequency bands to dial back into the compressed signal. For example, you can use it to restore sparkle to the high end for increased harmonic overtones, fattens up the compressed signal for thick and heavy reggae tones, or to simply make sure your effected sound remains consistent with your bypassed guitar tone.

Unlike most compressors with hard-knee thresholds, we’ve designed the Vise Grip with a soft-knee threshold that gradually enters into compression at a lower ratio prior to the signal reaching the threshold. This slower onset of compression is much more difficult to detect and provides a more natural, transparent compression. The compression ratio is adjustable from 1:1 to >20:1. It also has automatic gain compensation: most compressors require manual gain compensation to balance input and post-compression output levels, but the Vise Grip automatically compensates for input gain loss as the compression control is adjusted, which helps you get set up quicker and get on with playing.

The Vise Grip is designed for any guitar player wishing to limit the dynamic range of their guitar sound, whether you’re in the studio and you want to lay down a very even-sounding track, or if you’re on stage and you want to reign in the high-end peaks of your sound so you’re not fighting against the cymbals and vocals, so you can find your own place in the mix. And it’s great for country chicken pick’n, where you want all of your notes to have equal loudness and strength without being overly bright. And you can also use it for creating smooth, even, endless sustain without needing huge amounts of overdrive and distortion to get there. It’s also useful on keyboards and other instruments. You can even use it on a mandolin, acoustic guitar or ukulele to get more of your instrument’s body and fullness to the audience.

You can check out more info on the Vise Grip – including some suggested settings for different musical styles – here.

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Seymour Duncan NAMM 2015

NAMM ShowIt’s that time of year again where musical instrument manufacturers get together from all around the world to showcase their gear and you can bet Seymour Duncan will not disappoint with 9 new products to introduce at the show. We will also be having performances from Nick Johnston and Danny Young daily as well as a host of special performances from the likes of Alex Skolnick, Seymour W. Duncan, Dino Cazares and more! You’ll be able to get your picture taken with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, hang out with Dino Cazares and get your favorite album signed by the guys from Fit For An Autopsy or Keith Merrow, Ola Englund, Mark Holcomb and Wes Hauch.
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Some Hero Worship: Brian May

bowieI have a hard time calling people heroes. David Bowie once sang ‘we could be heroes, just for one day’ and he was totally right. But that doesn’t mean I can’t respect them. Sometimes my respect grows so much it becomes admiration. One step further, it’s nearing adoration and at that point I can’t stop it anymore: that person becomes a hero to me. Brian May, CBE, is one of those few people who hit my ‘Hero’ list years and years ago! I doubt he needs further introduction but for those who lived in a place without radio, TV, Internet or even a record player for the last 40 years I’ll give a small intro anyway! Continue reading

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What To Expect At An Open Jam

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You practiced your scales and the intricacies of the I-IV-V progression. Hey, you even know what a I-IV-V progression is. You practice along with both your own CD collection and your dad’s. You know a variety of songs from several decades, and you have a bowling shirt and hat you are just itching to try out. You’ve practiced for hours in front of the mirror and are ready to go out and show your stuff. It just might be time to go to an open jam everyone at the music store has been talking about. Sure, it is on the other side of town, and when you get home, you will have to take a Silkwood shower to get the smell of stale beer and despair off of your skin and your gear, but you wanna rock! Here is what to expect (and how to act) when you show up in an unfamiliar place, playing unfamiliar songs with musicians you have (likely) never met. Continue reading

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Basics of Internet Gear Forums

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Imagine a world where people talked about things that you were interested in. A meeting place where people were proud of dissecting the very thing you love into the smallest parts, dissecting, rearranging, and debating the subject long after our real-life friends’ and significant others’ eyes have glazed over. Yes, this is your place. I am talking about internet forums. Before them, it was almost impossible to meet up with people that love gear as much as you do. Sure, there was the Saturday afternoons at the local music store, but that was limited to the people in your area. Internet gear forums allow us to access collective information, form lifelong friendships, and realize there are people in this world as crazy about guitars as we are. However, as with any large group of people from multiple backgrounds, skill levels, and cultural diversities, there are bound to be misunderstandings & arguments mixed in with all of those good vibes. Don’t worry though, the benefits of the information and sense of community found in a forum outweigh a few bad apples. Some of the topics here will apply to any internet forum, and if you’ve never been on an internet forum before, this article is just for you! Continue reading

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Theory Basics: What is I-IV-V anyway?

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Understanding some simple musical concepts can go a long way for a guitarist. From playing at open jams, to playing with a non-guitarist, to learning songs quickly, there are a few terms and ideas that allow a musician to quickly communicate ideas. While much of today’s guitar music is riff and pattern-based (those darn kids!), older styles of music are more chord/harmony based, and this series will decode some of the strange terms these old-timers use. Playing with musicians with diverse backgrounds is a quick way to measure our skill and advance outside of our comfort zone. This article will explain what a musician means when he/she calls something a I-IV-V progression, and allow you to navigate the world of the most common chord progression. Continue reading

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New ESP Models For 2015

Our friends at ESP Guitars have unveiled a number of new models for 2015 and there are a few Seymour Duncan-loaded guitars among the line-up. Let’s check ‘em out!

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E-II Arrow

This aggressively-shaped metal beast in Gloss Black was one of the original export-market E-II models, and it will be available worldwide in 2015. it’s rocking a set of active Blackouts, neck-thru-body construction, an Alder body with a thin U-shaped Maple neck and an Ebony fingerboard. Continue reading

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2014: A Year in Review

2014 was a year filled with ups and downs, triumph and tragedy. It seemed busier than normal as far as years go. It was a whirlwind in every sense of the word: socially, musically and in the entertainment world.
So many great things happened, but at the same time changes took place that rocked the world and made certain things will never again be as they were. We lost a couple of Seymour Duncan artists, but gained some amazing new pickups, pedals and tones to add to the collection. We’ll skip the heavy social elements – this is the Seymour Duncan blog, not Politics Today or Time magazine, after all. But let’s take a look back at the music and entertainment industry happenings of the year, both the good and the bad. Continue reading

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