Gear News

You'll have to be quick to be able to grab one of these rare bad boys

This year Ibanez will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of  seven-string guitars, through the release of the highly limited 1990 Reissue Universe, with its number one endorsee, Steve Vai.

The uniquely ‘swirled’ seven-string guitars will be available in “highly limited numbers” according to Ibanez (though they have yet to reveal how ‘highly’ they mean) and are replicas of the many models Mr Vai had made for him in 1990.

Sporting the amazing paint-swirl design that epitomises the trippy creativity that Steve Vai is so famous for, the guitar features a basswood body, rosewood fingerboard, five-piece maple neck and a slightly tapered ‘C’ shape to the neck contour.

On the hardware side of things this seven-stringed sensation is loaded with two DiMarzio BLAZE humbuckers (in the bridge and neck positions) and a single-coil version in the middle pickup. Topped off with a Ibanez Low-Pro floating bridge, the guitar really opens up loads of playing possibilities.

These psychadelic axes are the holy grail for Steve Vai fans

A video released on Steve Vai’s official YouTube channel tells the story of how he collaborated with the guitar giant 20 years ago. In it, he explains how he stumbled across the idea of a seven-string purely by accident.

“I was sitting in a room with one of the guys from Ibanez and he was telling me about a guitar he had that had eight strings, and I said […] ‘Seven strings I can understand’ and it was then I thought up the idea of putting a seventh string on a guitar.”

Steve goes on to say how the mere idea of a seven string, and particularly when he finally had some killer prototypes in his hands, really opened up a huge number of possibilities in his playing.

Some of which are incredibly apparent on the album he was recording at the time, Passion And Warfare.

Check out the video, as well as the product page on the Ibanez Japan website and the cool ‘1987-2010 JEM & Universe Chronicle’ which let’s you feast you eyes on Steve Vai’s immense array of guitars over the past 23 years.

Given the highly limited nature of these axes, and the way they’re produced, they’re not gonna be cheap so you best get saving now!


March 17th, 7.30pm - be there and you could win an HT5 too!

 Blackstar make arguably some of the greatest valve amplifiers and pedals that money can buy, and with their new HT Venue range right around the corner they’ve decided to host a demo night with one their prized endorsees – Jamie Humphries. 

The event is taking place next Wednesday, the 17th March, at the Stoke Pub Function Room in Guilford – tickets cost £5, and are available here.

It’s being held in conjunction with Andertons Music and string/guitar producer extrordinares Ernie Ball who, to show their gratitude, will be giving everyone who attends a free pack of EB strings. 

Finally, freebies we can use! Makes a change from all those wafer-thin guitar picks…

The showcase will run from 8pm-10pm (doors at 7.30pm) and will have neck-master endorsee Jamie Humphries showing off the whole HT Venue line, using an array of Ernie Ball Music Man guitars.

The man himself is a real expert of guitar playing who, in addition to all his promotional work with Blackstar, does scores of instructional videos for the highly-revered Lick Library website and DVD collection.

Check out the man himself shredding on his YouTube channel.

Blackstar have yet to showcase their fancy new HT Venue range of amps in the flesh, which include 20, 40 and 60 watt combos, (as well as various head versions and matching cabs) that should plug the gap between the high-end Series One amps and low wattage HT-5 amps that the company produces.Jamie Humphries, along with other Blackstar reps, will be on hand to demo the amps and show you the way around the new gear.

If you want a preview to what you can get your hands on at the event, then have a watch of this Andertons video demo of the HT20 and HT40 combos.

A fiver for an evening with some of the best valve amps available, demonstrated by a truly talented player. Throw in the free pack of strings and it’s a pretty sweet deal!

For more info and to purchase tickets, visit the Andertons product page here.

We all know how much of a pain learning from online tabs can be. It often means  printing out page after page of tab and carefully laying it out so you can see it all. And that’s if you’ve even got any printer ink left from the time you printed out the full tab to Freebird.

So when I stumbled across news that ‘there was an app for that’ (ugh!)  I sat back and basked in the glow of yet another technological revolution.

Or so it would seem.

Yeah, it’d be great to eliminate the forest of tabs we all inevitably have lying around and it’d be even better to avoid the panicky page turning when you’re playing along with the song’s record.

But is the best way to do that by shrinking it all down onto the iPhones teeny tiny screen? It’s nice to have all these features in our pocket and not have to strategically paper over our bedsheets in tablature, but it looks (for want of a better word) naff.

Memorise these two bars while you can - they're not hanging around long.

You seem to get all of two-bars worth of on the iPhones pocket sized screen, with tab that moves so fast there’s no way you can read it and play at the same time.

It seems kinda useable for rhythm work, but what happens when you want to learn a blisteringly fast solo? The tab won’t be on the screen long enough for you to even know what key you’re in.

Not to mention you won’t be able to see what’s coming. Impromptu key change? Position shift? You’ll have absolutely no idea, with the revolutionary TabToolkit!

Call me cynical and old fashioned, but I’ll stick with the paper. I can fit more on a page, look at it for longer than two seconds and (most importantly) I can annotate to my heart’s content.

Want some fingering in there? Want to know the chord progression under a solo. Boom, here’s my friend the pencil.

I nailed Panama this afternoon perfectly fine with good old fashioned paper tab/score. In fact, I’ll wager it was easier learning.  A4’s a damn sight easier to read than a lightning-fast 3.5 inch screen.

Paper 1, technology 0.

(And here I was hoping the first item on this blog would be a positive one – cynicism rocks!)