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> Guitar/gear Reviews, Reviews of Guitars and Gear that I've owned/used for gigging/recor
Todd Simpson
post Oct 4 2010, 08:55 AM
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JACKSON KELLY PERFORMER

I recently bought a JACKSON KELLY PERFORMER that had been upgraded with EMGs. Here are some pix. Review to follow!
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In this review I"m going to talk a bit about the ROCKTRON G300. This unit is a multi-effects pedal that makes use of some very sophisticated internal processing to create lush soundscapes and big guitar tones. This is the top of the line in this range of units. There are two units beneath it that feature the same internal features but have fewer stomp buttons, smaller case etc. I bought my unit from musiciansfriend.com and and it arrived in perfect shape. The list price is about $560 U.S. but the street price is bout $400 U.S. Here is a link to the manufacturer web site product page.
http://www.rocktron.com/products/floorprocessors/utopiag300/
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Let's break this down in to a few areas.

1.)Sound Quality
2.)Build Quality
3.)Value for your Dollar/Euro

SOUND QUALITY:The overall sound quality on this unit is just amazing. It's got very little noise, all the effects are very natural and clean sounding and the built in presets will cover about 90 percent of every tone you will want to have at your finger tips. The delays are particularly good as are the chorus and flanger. The distortions sound very convincing and there is a cabinet simulator built right in so that you can run to a PA and skip the amp or record direct via USB out or Optical out.

****The bad news is that even though this will get you 90 percent of the way to tone heaven right out of the box, it's that last 10 percent that kinda wrecks it. The presets are all pretty good, but there is not a preset for hardcore/extreme/metal type gain/distortion suitable for leads and rythms that require it. You can tweak the presets, BUT there is a limit to how far you can tweak them. For example, you can adjust the amount of bass, mid, etc. But you can't select the frequency being manipulated. It's as if they expect you to just leave the presets in place and not really mess with anything.

BUILD QUALITY: Excellent. The build quality is frankly the best I've seen in a pedal board in this price range. Pro level build quality through and through. The unit is solid, stable, heavy, and rugged. The wah/volume pedal is very solid and the foot switches feel sturdy as well. This unit looks like it could take a serious beating and not miss a beat.

VALUE: Overall, the street price of this unit makes is a really good value. It's very flexible, and very well built. It looks, feels and sounds like a Pro Level unit. For most players this unit would make getting good tone very easy. However, if you are looking for a unit that will let you tweak your heart out in search of perfect tone, or if you are looking for a Death Metal/Thrash/Super High Gain Lead Shred tone, keep looking as this unit will not give you what you are looking for.

Here is a Quick Vid from GuitarPlayer Magazine walking you through some of the tones.


Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jan 21 2011, 03:36 AM


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Fran
post Oct 4 2010, 04:28 PM
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Great review Todd, just addd it to the knowledge base here:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/inde...RON_G300_Review


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Todd Simpson
post Oct 7 2010, 04:05 PM
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ADDING A MIDI KEYBOARD (Reviewing the M-Audio KeyRig 49 USB/MIDI Controller)

At some point, you may need/want to add a MIDI keyboard to your home studio. One way to go is to get a "dumb" MIDI controller. These can be had for about $100 for a nice unit. Keyboards used to cost wads of cash as they used to be stand alone units with expensive hardware inside. Thank goodness, most Keyboard sounds/samples/virtual instruments can be done entirely in software. Whatever DAW you are using, you can probably use virtual instruments right away or just by downloading some free software or buying what you need. LOGIC has some amazing virtual instruments as does GarageBand and many other DAWs contain similar features.

A keyboard is a handy way to trigger string/symphony samples, drums, or anything else you can trigger with MIDI control. Even if you can't really play the keyboard, it still makes a handy device for triggering samples and laying down custom drum beats.

A Midi Keyboard that I use and can recommend is the M-Audio KeyRig 49 USB/MIDI Controller. These are about $100 new from any music retailer. The keyboard has "semi-weighted" keys so it does not feel like a real PIano. However, for the price, you would not expect fully weighted keys. The keyboards in this price range use spring loaded keys that are "semi-weighted" or in other words, counter weighted by springs. So if you are a hardcore keyboard player, skip this unit. But if you are a guitar player wanting a good midi controller this is worth a look. Here is a link to more info on the vendor site.

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/KeyRig49.html
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The unit connects to your PC/MAC via USB cable so no midi interface is required. Also, it's driverless so just plug and play. I recently started working on Movie Soundtracks and this keyboard came in very handy for triggering string section samples using SAMPLE TANK. So grab some software, get a keyboard and add some depth and new instrumentation to your tracks!

Here is a link to some free virtual instruments to get you started.
http://www.vstplanet.com/Instruments/VST_Synthesizers.htm

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Oct 7 2010, 04:05 PM


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Fran
post Oct 14 2010, 05:03 PM
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Review added to the knowledge base:
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/inde...ntroller_Review

Keep them coming Todd smile.gif


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Todd Simpson
post Oct 28 2010, 12:26 AM
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EZ DRUMMER / DRUMS FROM HELL :

If you are doing home recording, you have probably run in to the problem of creating drum tracks without a drummer. There are many solutions to this problem. You can pre-record your drums with a drummer at a studio, (a bit pricey), you can use a midi drum kit or drum triggers or a Dpad to put in beats manually. You can use a midi keyboard with a drum patch to put in drums via finger tip. Or you can use something like EZ DRUMMER.

EZ Drummer can run as a plugin or as a stand alone application. If you are using something like REAPER or PRO TOOLS or LOGIC, EZ Drummer is a great way to get drum tracks created that sound great with a minimum amount of fuss. You launch the plugin from within your DAW and preview hundreds of drum patterns and fills that were created by killer drummers from great bands from all over the world and recorded in a pro studio. The sounds are great. The patterns and fills are great. Over all this is an amazing product that you can buy for a song, if you excuse the pun. The newest version, SUPERIOR DRUMMER 2.0, is even better and also costs a bit more. It's more flexible but also a bit more complicated. So EZ Drummer is a great place to start if you are new to the world of software drums and it's much cheaper than their flagship product. Here is a video from the company that makes EZ Drummer to introduce you to the interface.



If you play Hard Rock or Heavy Metal, right after buying EZ Drummer, RUN don't walk and buy the DRUM KIT FROM HELL expansion pack. Worth every penny. If features drummers from top Metal bands and wads of killer tracks and fills. Here is a little demo I put together in about 30 seconds.
Attached File  dft_todd.mp3 ( 396.86K ) Number of downloads: 383

And here is a video from Toontrack introducing DFH and all the killer drummers that it features.


In short, this is a great product and well worth having. If you have yet to take the plunge in to software drums, this is a great way to go. Best of all you can get EZ DRUMMER and the DRUMS FROM HELL EXPANSION for $99 for BOTH!

http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/produ...sion?sku=485953

Practice!
Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Oct 28 2010, 12:44 AM


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Todd Simpson
post Nov 2 2010, 03:25 AM
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JACKSON KELLY REVIEW!

After playing this guitar for a while I can comfortably say the following. AVOID THIS GUITAR LIKE THE PLAGUE!

I was drawn in by it's flashy good looks and brand name and incredible price! $200 U.S. I first saw it in Guitar Center here in Atlanta and thought it was a pricing mistake, but no! It was really that cheap! I bought it without even touching it. I got it home and plugged it in and that's where things started to go wrong. I plugged it in to my rig expecting hot, searing, Jackson Monster Tone! Sadly, I got limp, weak, buzzy, outright lame tone. The pickups in this thing are just crap.

The clean tone was no better. Thin, weak, no punch. Utterly just bad. Then having given up on the pickups, and figuring I could just put in EMG's and still have a great axe for cheap! Sadly again no.

The action on the guitar was just terrible. I thought it just needed a setup and I proceeded to give it one. I whipped out my tools, adjusted the truss rod and bridge, tried to get the intonations roughly right (nearly impossible) and re-tightened the strings. To my dismay, the guitar played no better after the setup and I started noticing that the frets, actually extended off of the neck. Yes, that's right, as you run your hand along the neck, the misaligned metal frets actually poke in to your hand. As a result, some of the notes on the low strings buzz quite a bit as the fret is seated a bit far south.

So to conclude. I hate to say it but this guitar is crap. If you bought one of these and yours is amazing, please take no offense at this review. It's just one guitar and one guys opinion. Maybe I got a bad one? I certainly hope so
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Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Dec 20 2010, 07:03 AM


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Fran
post Nov 2 2010, 12:16 PM
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It's on the knowledge base smile.gif

https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/inde...ly_JS32T_Review

Sorry to hear it was so bad, at least it was cheap... nice read anyways smile.gif


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Todd Simpson
post Dec 20 2010, 07:32 AM
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Nady Rack Mounted Power/Line Conditioner RF/EMI Filter

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I recently puchased a NADY AUDIO PCL-800 POWER CONDITIONER and I must say I'm impressed. The unit is rock solid and can be had for under $40. I bought it from Musicians friend on clearance and they are out of them, but I also found it at Amazon.com for $39, here is a link.



I've got my guitar amp, a separate mixer/amp, two racks full of gear, and a computer plugged in to this thing and it has yet to fail in any way. The power is always clean and free of noise. Something I can't say for my previous off brand unit. There are 8 power plugs on the back and a lighted switch on the front. It's a simple device but very handy for powering your gear with a single switch. If you are looking for a new power strip/power distribution unit/power conditioner, give this one a try. It's a great unit and the price is hard to beat. Here is the feature list from the Nady Site

Features:
*Triple mode varistor surge and spike protection
*Eight rear outlets (with room for four “wall warts”) controlled by front panel switch
*15 amp rating (1800W) with rear panel circuit breaker (UL)
*Rugged single-rack space metal housing for maximum reliability
*EMI/RFI filtered, spike/surge protected and switched

Here are some more pix.
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Here is a pic of the back of the unit.
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Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Dec 20 2010, 07:51 AM


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Fran
post Dec 20 2010, 12:47 PM
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Added to the wiki Todd smile.gif
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/wiki/inde...I_Filter_Review


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Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
Have a good time reading great articles and writing your own with us in our GUITAR WIKI!
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Todd Simpson
post Apr 4 2011, 08:28 AM
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BEHRINGER - ULTRA-DI PRO DI4000 (Active 4 Channel Direct Box)

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Original Author: Todd Simpson

Weapon: Direct Box/Pre-Amp

Make: BEHRINGER
Model: ULTRA-DI PRO DI4000

Price: 85 € (Thomann.de)
http://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_di4000_ultra_di_pro.htm

Introduction

If you are interested in using software like GUITAR RIG or AMPLITUDE, you may have noticed that it's sometimes hard to get enough gain to make the emulation sound like the real thing. The device is an answer to your prayers. It turns your guitar signal in to a "Balanced" signal and then puts +20DB of gain on it without adding wads of noise. The result is that your emulation of a Marshal Stack finally sounds like a Marshal Stack!

The DI4000 gives you four first-class DI channels in one rack space. With two inputs (XLR and 1 /4 " TRS), a balanced output (XLR) and a 1 /4 " link output per channel, up to 40 dB of switchable input attenuation and up to 20 dB of gain, the DI4000 is equipped to deal with virtually any input signal, while our OT-1 output transformers ensure clean, powerful output.

Under the hood

The unit converts unbalanced line inputs (your guitar signal/jack) into balanced outputs while retaining highest signal integrity. In addition, it has some very handy features.

*Ultra-flat frequency response due to renowned BEHRINGER OT-1 transformers.
*Prevents hum and noise pick up due to special transformer decoupling
*+20 dB gain switch for preamplification of low-level signals (This is the SMART BOMB feature of the unit and worth the price of admission all by itself)
*Phase Reverse switch allows you to instantly correct phase problems
*Switchable High-cut filter (8 kHz) for guitar applications
*Ground Lift switch eliminates typical ground loop problems
*Accurate 8-segment LED level meter for optimum performance
*1/4" TRS and gold-plated XLR connectors
*Illuminated switches enable perfect operation in dark stage environments


Sound

The unit has clean, flat, even sound. It doesn't color the signal as it's not meant to. I've found the unit to be quiet, dependable and predictable. A good Direct Box should be pretty transparent and this one is. Certainly, you could spend a lot more money and get a far nicer unit that would be appropriate for a multi million dollar studio. However, for the home studio, this unit works great and is priced right at under 100 Euro.


Overall Impression

The unit is very well built and feels solid. It doesn’t feel cheap and light like it’s made of plastic. It is a rack unit so it slides in to the rack and mounts very solidly. The steel construction of the face place and housing adds to the pro feel. The lighted buttons on the front are a nice touch and handy for dim studios and gigs. The individual level meters are also a great feature.


Alternative Weapon

PALMER PAN 03 (EUR 182)
http://www.thomann.de/gb/palmer_pan_03.htm

Sounds

Here is a sample taken from GUITAR RIG 4 using a custom high gain patch. (+20 DB Gain Engaged)
Attached File  GuitarRigMonsterGain.mp3 ( 1.38MB ) Number of downloads: 368

Here is another sample take from GUTAR RIG 4 using less gain, more of a blues tone. (+20 DB Gain Disengaged)
Attached File  TubeyBluesy.mp3 ( 1.75MB ) Number of downloads: 126




This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Apr 4 2011, 08:29 AM


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zeus
post Dec 7 2011, 09:55 AM
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Hi Todd,

I noticed that "guitarRigMonsterGain" isn't in the tone vault thread.

It seems like without the 20db gain the tones are muddy. I have an M-Audio Mobile Pre which offers a 40 db gain boost to my guitar. I see a little difference. But overall, I am not pleased with the tone that I hear when I record on the PC. I think I may just continue to mic my 4x12 amp, even though I'd prefer to use Guitar Rig because it is easier.


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Todd Simpson
post Dec 10 2011, 05:27 AM
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Well hey smile.gif Have you tried any of these patches yet? Also, notice the BEHRINGER DIRECT BOX review. I'm using it to pump up the gain quite a bit before it hits guitar rig. Also, I'm using a good bit of compression and noise gate to tame it, and I'm not using any of the AMP heads. I always use the sans amp rack module instead. I didn't like any of the amp heads.

Here is a screen grab from the MONSTER GAIN preset.
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See how it's built? Noise cancellation, compressor, transamp, eq, etc. Here is the patch.

Attached File  GMC_LESSON_87_MONSTER_GAIN.ksd.zip ( 5.56K ) Number of downloads: 92


and a sample


Let me know what you think smile.gif


QUOTE (zeus @ Dec 7 2011, 03:55 AM) *
Hi Todd,

I noticed that "guitarRigMonsterGain" isn't in the tone vault thread.

It seems like without the 20db gain the tones are muddy. I have an M-Audio Mobile Pre which offers a 40 db gain boost to my guitar. I see a little difference. But overall, I am not pleased with the tone that I hear when I record on the PC. I think I may just continue to mic my 4x12 amp, even though I'd prefer to use Guitar Rig because it is easier.


Attached File(s)
Attached File  MonsterGainDemo.mp3 ( 762.16K ) Number of downloads: 86
 


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 10 2011, 03:50 PM
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Great thread Todd, these reviews should come in handy! smile.gif


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Michael AC
post Dec 10 2011, 09:50 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Oct 4 2010, 02:55 AM) *
In this review I"m going to talk a bit about the ROCKTRON G300.

Todd


How do you think this compares to the Line 6 HD 500? They are about the same price range.
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Todd Simpson
post Dec 19 2011, 09:39 AM
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QUOTE (Michael AC @ Dec 10 2011, 03:50 PM) *
How do you think this compares to the Line 6 HD 500? They are about the same price range.


It all comes down to what you as a player are looking for and your ears, but having said that, I'd say go LINE 6! Personally, I didn't like the distortions on ROCKTRON. It's build quality is the best I've ever seen bar none. However, the tone quality was not up to the level I expected from ROCKTRON. They make some amazing Rack mount units and entire touring rigs for HUGE players all over the world. I realize this is a stock piece of gear. Still, the distortions lacked enough gain for me (again personal call) and there is a very limited control over signal path/routing/compression settings. etc.

In short, a bit to "preset" and not near enough "METAL" in the tone for my liking. There's more to any pedal than it's ability to play METAL, but even without that in the equation. The lead tones didn't impress me and the limited control settings were a let down. So yeah, LINE 6!


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Todd Simpson
post Dec 31 2011, 03:45 AM
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WESTINGHOUSE HDTV 40 inch Class (Replace your Computer Monitor with a MONSTER!)

I recently replaced my two 24 inch Computer Monitors with a single 40 INCH HDTV set in my home studio and I'm shocked at how much better it is. When working on music, reaper, Logic, everything is just easier to see/read/manage/arrange. The screen real estate is just massive. I fist saw Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park using this approach and have since seen others adopting it. It's something of a trend in it's early stages. Even a 32 Inch HDTV would be a good start. You can output directly from your laptop or computer and get a HUGE monitor for a fraction of the cost of an actual computer monitor. The resolution is limited to 1920x1080 but that's actually perfect for me as my apps seem to tiny when i go above that. I have gear on my desk between me and the monitor. So having a huge monitor is just perfect. I could not be happier. You can get one of these for about $349 US which is a killer deal. Here is the link to the product site.

http://westinghousedigital.com/products/lcd/32-40/vr-4030/
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And here is the unit installed in my studio. It's a GAME CHANGER! I Love this thing. I don't know how i managed to work before this but I'm never going back. I thought this was just silly when I first heard about it, but don't knock it til you try it! once you try, you won't believe it.

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QUICK TIP: NOT FOR PC GAMERS! If you are a Hardcore PC Gamer, this monitor may not have enough refresh rate or resolution for you. This is not for PC GAMING really. It's more for Music/Video/Content creation.

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Dec 31 2011, 03:46 AM


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Fran
post Dec 31 2011, 04:16 PM
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Wow Todd, your studio looks like something from a star wars movie, you rock man cool.gif


--------------------
Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
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Rammikin
post Dec 31 2011, 08:23 PM
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That's a really interesting setup. I can see how it eliminates the "tiny unreadable things on the screen" syndrome.

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Dec 31 2011, 02:45 AM) *
I recently replaced my two 24 inch Computer Monitors with a single 40 INCH HDTV ...1920x1080


But does this mean you actually have a net loss in how much you can display (tracks, plugin windows, etc.)



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Todd Simpson
post Jan 3 2012, 05:42 AM
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NEW GEAR! Need a 16 Port USB HUB For Your Studio!

Good news! They are on clearance smile.gif Pricey but made of solid steel and I kept running out of usb ports in my studio. Witch this guy it's not a problem. $80 U.S. from think geek.com

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http://www.thinkgeek.com/clearance/on-sale/cef0/

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Todd Simpson
post Jan 8 2012, 07:24 AM
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FINALLY! THE PERFECT PICK! (FOR ME)

I"ve been working with Vinni from V-Picks and he designed a pick just for little old me and it's WONDERFUL. Comes pre sharpened and beveled along the sides from the factory! Finally. No more carving picks up with a pocket knife! These are really fast picks and I"m digging them. I have to pay for them mind you and don't get any cut when he sells them so I"m not trying to sell here. They are 3.99 each and I made my initial order for 10 of them. They RAWK! Here is a link and a pic.

http://bitly.com/vpicktodd

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RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 19th October 2017 - 12:14 PM