Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews

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VHT Introduces the Lead 40 Tube Amplifier

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 26, 2009 at 4:48 PM

VHT Lead 40BRISBANE, CA - VHT is proud to announce the release of release of the Lead 40, a powerful 2-channel all-tube amp perfect for both classic and modern overdriven tube tone. The Lead 40 has been carefully designed and tested in VHT's Brisbane, CA workshop.

The Lead 40 is a powerful 40 Watt RMS 2-channel amp with separate Clean and Overdrive channels. It has reverb and a master volume. Both channels have a shared EQ. VHT engineers have carefully voiced both channels so that they can effectively share the EQ. When switching channels, the frequency response is unaffected, so no EQ adjustment should be required when channel switching.

The VHT Lead 40 is based around the same design as VHT's Lead 20, with double the tubes, providing 40 Watts RMS from 4 EL84 tubes. The cabinet is fitted with one 12" Celestion G12H30 speaker and one 12" VHT Special Design speaker, deliberately chosen for their complementary sound. The Celestion's great midrange sound fits perfectly with the VHT speaker, which has been specially designed to reinforce the highs and lows of the amp. An 11-ply birch plywood cabinet covered in classic black tolex houses the chassis and speaker.

The VHT Lead 40 is a loud, great sounding, versatile amp. The Clean channel stays crystalline until it is turned all the way up, when it starts to color the sound with a little grit. The Overdrive channel picks up where the Clean leaves off, allowing for a highly overdriven, crunchy sound perfect for today’s modern rock music.

The VHT Lead 40 lists for $1,699.99 and is available now.

For a complete list of products available from VHT, visit

MICHAEL JACKSON "King of Pop" 1958-2009

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM mourns the passing of Michael Jackson, one of the greatest pop stars in music history. Jackson was rushed to UCLA Hospital yesterday (6/25), where he was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm PST. He was 50 years old. Jackson is survived by his three children, ages 6, 11, and 12.

Why are we writing about Michael Jackson at a "guitar" site? If you're not familiar with Jackson's career, the list of guitar players he worked with is more than a little impressive. Jackson's breakthrough album, 1979's Off the Wall, featured Larry Carlton and Phil Upchurch on guitar.

For 1982's Thriller, which is the biggest-selling pop album in history, Jackson brought in perhaps his most famous guest guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, who laid down the scorching guitar solo for Jackson's #1 hit "Beat It." But did you know that studio legend and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather recorded the rhythm guitar and riff on that tune? Or that Luke also played guitar on "The Girl Is Mine" and "Human Nature" on the album as well?

At his web site today, Lukather issued the following statement:

"I am at a loss for words right now. I dont know what is in the air but I am hiding. Phone and emails are off the hook from the press. I dont know why or what to say. I pray for his kids and family. I wll process this and let the family speak first as they should."

When Jackson recorded 1987's Bad, he recruited noted L.A. session monster Paul Jackson, Jr. (who also played on Thriller), L.A. and Nashville ace Dann Huff, and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Top Gun theme) who can be heard on "Smooth Criminal" and was famously featured in the video to "Dirty Diana."

For 1991's Dangerous, Paul Jackson, Jr. again puts pick to strings, but the marquee guest this time is Slash, whose gritty guitar work can be heard on "Black or White" and "Give in to Me." Slash also made several appearances with Jackson on the MTV Video Music Awards and similar shows.

For Michael's final studio recording, 2001's Invincible, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana lends his smooth licks to the Latin-tinged "Whatever Happens."

"I was very honored that he called on me to work with him," Santana told MTV during the album's recording sessions, "and I love the song."

And finally, there was tapping sensation Jennifer Batten, who was part of Jackson's live band for the Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory tours, as well as for the Super Bowl XXVII half-time show, which aired to 1.5 billion viewers worldwide.

So today, as we mourn Jackson's passing, we also should celebrate his music and the enormous pop legacy he leaves.



PRS Guitars Debuts the Starla Stoptail and 59/09 Pickups

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 25, 2009 at 11:49 AM

PRS Starla Stoptail(STEVENSVILLE, MD) June 25, 2009 – The all new Starla Stoptail has the same retro-inspired vibe as its predecessor with one noticeable difference: it features a two-piece, adjustable stoptail bridge that dramatically alters the look and feel of the original Bigsby fitted Starla model while bringing out more of a mid-range woodiness in the tone. Exclusive double-screw Starla Treble and Bass Pickups are currently standard on all models in the Starla series and offer a bright high-end bark that allows these guitars to cut through the mix.
The Starla Stoptail's solid mahogany body is accented with a 24-½" scale rosewood fingerboard, a solid mahogany neck and dot inlays or optional bird inlays. Proprietary Alnico magnets incorporated into the pickup design contribute to the guitar's unique clean and crisp sound but are also capable of rich harmonic overtones when driven.
Other features include a uniquely shaped black plastic pick guard, tone and volume pots and a three-way pickup selector. Color options include Vintage Cherry, Vintage Mahogany, Vintage Orange and Black as well as the new metallic colors including Gold Sparkle, Silver Sparkle and the new metallic Hot Hues colors Twilight, Catalina Dream, and Sinful Cinnamon. Starla Stoptail models are currently shipping to authorized PRS dealers around the world.
"The Starla is inspiring to customers and to PRS employees. We wanted to open the door to players who might shy away from the tremolo version," said PRS Sales Manager Rick Hodgson.
The Starla model featuring the Bigsby tremolo bridge was originally unveiled as part of the Experience PRS 2008 open house event. Similar in spirit to the double cutaway Mira model introduced at Experience PRS 2007, the single cutaway Starla and Starla Stoptail have many vintage themed appointments.
59/09 Pickup

The PRS 59/09 is the newest addition to Paul Reed Smith Guitars' 1957/2008 Series line of pickups.  Slightly darker and more powerful in the bridge with a touch more clarity and brightness in the neck, the 59/09 provides a tonal alternative to the industry revered original 1957/2008 pickups, known for their articulate clarity and rich harmonic overtones.

1957/2008 Series pickups utilize PRS exclusive wire and incorporate proprietary winding and magnet innovations to produce iconic sounds but with unique tonality.
"Guitarists are delighted by the classic sounds of the original 1957/2008. In the new 59/09 we wanted to provide the same vibe but with additional output for those players wanting to drive the amp's front end a little earlier, while providing a wider spread of tone between the neck and bridge pickup," said Paul Smith.
The new 59/09's feature PRS exclusive wire produced on the original machine used to make the classic '50s era pickups. 59/09 pickups will be available on select PRS models shipping in July to authorized PRS dealers.
For more info, visit


ORANGE Amps Introduces New Crush PiX

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 24, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Orange Crush PiXOrange Amplification has quite a pedigree, having been in the backlines of Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, and other seminal classic rock guitarists in the '70s. In recent years, the brand has experienced quite a renaissance, finding its way into the rigs of Jim Root (Slipknot), Prince, and Daniel Davies (Year Long Disaster), among others. And now, Orange have drawn upon more than 40 years of amplifier construction expertise to improve the range of Crush amplifiers to ensure they are as equally at home on a tour bus as they are in a bedroom.

The new Orange Crush PiX range of amps now extend from the Crush PiX CR12L through to the new 100 watt CR100 BXT, offering a multitude of choices covering a total of eight models. Incorporating all of the style you would expect to see in Orange amplifiers, the Crush amps include genuine Orange grill cloth, miniature Orange crest finish, signature Orange picture frame edging, exterior beading and the unique, easy-to-follow hieroglyph symbols.

 Orange Crush PiX topKey upgrades include:

• More power within the same size frames (e.g., they added 5 watts to the CR15R, which is now the CR20LDX)

• New built-in guitar tuner and integrated digital FX with choice of 16 cool sounds on the CR20LDX and CR35LDX models

• CR50 BXT upwards have Aux input for MP3/CD for jamming along with your favourite recordings

• New CR100 BXT with 100 Watts RMS, class D amplifier, 15" speaker, tuner, and MP3 input.

The new Orange Crush PiX range will be debuted at the Orange booth at the forthcoming summer NAMM show in Nashville.

Visit Orange Amps online here!


SHADOWS FALL Reveal RETRIBUTION Album Art and Track List

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 24, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Shadows Fall RetributionMassachusetts metallers Shadows Fall will release their next album, Retribution (album art at right), on September 15, on the band's own label, Everblack Industries, which was created in conjunction with Warner Music Group's ILG, Ferret Music, and ChannelZERO Entertainment. The blistering new album was produced by Zeuss (Hatebreed, Municipal Waste), with vocal production by Elvis Baskette (Incubus, Alter Bridge).
Singer Brian Fair commented on the band's venture: "We learned everything from the ground up. We've gone through the independent metal world to the major label world, and have come to realize that, given the way things are now, it's all about the band re-taking control of everything: music, business, ownership, publishing. Everything."
We were lucky enough to hear the album, and this just might be their best work yet. Being guitar geeks, we of course focused on the blistering fretwork of Jon Donais and Matt Bachand. Trust me, you can't NOT pay attention to them on this record. More than once I couldn't help but think that the lead guitar parts are Iron Maiden meets Racer X. SF has managed to bottle some of that '80s metal magic, but rather than sounding being cheesy or retro, it serves to further expand their musical horizons.
"With each album we've gotten a little more confidence to really let all of our influences show," Fair says. "We're unapologetic about the old-school metal and the '80s influence, as well as the thrash and the melodic death metal. There's really no holding back when it comes to our songwriting. Once the floodgates open, we go all the way."
Here's the Retribution track list:
The Path to Imminent Ruin
My Demise
Still I Rise
King Of Nothing
The Taste Of Fear
Embrace Annihilation
Picture Perfect
A Public Execution
Dead And Gone

Get Shadows Fall guitar tab here!
Upcoming Shadows Fall shows:
6/25/09 - Anchorage, AK - Chilkkoot Charlies
6/26/09 - Anchorage, AK - Club Millennium
7/03/09 – Atlantic City, NJ – House of Blues - w/Clutch



JOE SATRIANI Goes Back to Marshall Amps!

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 24, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Joe SatrianiDespite his longstanding relationship with Peavey Amplification, not to mention an entire line of signature JSX amps, guitarist Joe Satriani has chosen to use Marshall amps in his backline during Chickenfoot's European tour. A Marshall Amplification spokesperson confirmed the move but deferred details to a soon-to-be-released formal announcement.

As reported yesterday by, Marshall UK sent out a news release that reads as follows:

"Marshall Amplification plc is pleased to announce that Joe Satriani will be using a Marshall backline for Chickenfoot. The Supergroup, made up of four rock legends, started the European leg of their world tour 20 June and will be heading back over to the states in August to continue.

"Joe contacted Marshall amps prior to the first show at the Nova Rock festival in order to check out some new Marshall gear. Marshall took some amps to the rehearsals, and Joe loved the tone of the JVM 410.

"Joe used the JVM410 for the show at the Nova Rock festival and will be visiting the Marshall factory this week to have a look around and try out different speaker cabinets."

Satriani himself had this to say to MusicRadar:

"What can I say? I guess I'm crazy... But, I'm just looking to achieve the best guitar sound every moment I'm plugged in, and that brought me back to Marshall Amps."

Of course, the question that is currently unanswered is whether the switch is only for Chickenfoot's European tour, the entire Chickenfoot tour, or for all of Satriani's endeavors. A spokesperson from Peavey said they had no comment at this time.

Get official Joe Satriani guitar tabs here!


Check Out Debut Video From ARKAEA Here

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 23, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Arkaea premiered their first video, "Locust," from their debut album Years in the Darkness this past Saturday night (6/20) on MTV's Headbangers Ball. If you missed the premiere, you can check it out below.

"'Locust' was our first pick for a music video and as the opening track for the album because it really sets the tempo of the album," explains Raymond Herrera, Arkaea drummer. "It is a strong track that shows a great introduction to what Arkaea is all about. We knew that we needed to come out swinging, and 'Locust' definitely offers that punch."

Arkaea, which comprises Herrera and guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers of Fear Factory plus bassist Pat Kavanagh and singer Jon Howard of Threat Signal, will release Years in the Darkness on July 14, 2009, on E1 Music (formerly Koch Records). The album was produced by Christian Olde Wolbers and Arkaea and mixed by legendary Producer Terry Date, best known for his work with the Deftones, Slipknot, White Zombie, Soundgarden, and Pantera.

Track listing for Years in the Darkness is:

Beneath the Shades of Grey
Years in the Darkness
Gone Tomorrow
Black Ocean
Break the Silence
Lucid Dreams
My Redemption
War Within
The World As One
Rise Today
Away From the Sun

The first single, "Locust," is now streaming on the band's Myspace page.

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