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> Finding The Right Gear
Ben Higgins
post May 3 2015, 08:18 PM
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I've had the opportunity to try some different guitar picks lately, courtesy of our very own GMCer Phil66. Some of them are particularly comfortable to use, especially the Red Bear Lil' Jazzer. Ultimately, though, nothing can tempt me away from my personal fave - the Jazz III XL.

The texture of other picks may be even nicer than the Jazz III but the size might be wrong. A few millimetres makes all the difference (make your own jokes). You see, I don't like my thumb and knuckle joints too close to the strings, it just throws me off somehow. Sure, I can play but not really play to the best of my ability. So, for me, the Jazz III XL stay where it is, king of the picks. I've no reason to change it - it works for me.

Next up, strings. I don't know where you guys sit on the whole issue of whether different manufacturers truly create superior strings or not? What do you think? Do some string brands break more than others or is it just random and we attribute string breakagesit's all a case of confirmation bias. In other words, we had a couple of string breakages with Brand X so we started holding the opinion that Brand X breaks often compared to Brand Y which doesn't break often. We may incorrectly attribute certain occurences to a brand when in fact we choose to notice the occasion where something matches our pre-held belief.

Or maybe some brands truly are better. Either way I've mostly used Ernie Ball 9-46 throughout my guitar playing life. I have had breakages with them but then I've had breakages with Dean Markleys and D'Addarios. I don't necessarily think one is inherently better than other but if I did, I would remember only the bad experiences with other brands and discount the times they performed. Anyway, why the hell am I going on about confirmation bias?

Since I've had the 7 string, I've been using Rotosound. So why have I picked these brands? Price & availability. Plus, I've always loved the Ernie Ball packets. Who doesn't? For me, the jury's out on whether different string brands truly make a difference so I use these brands because... you guessed it, they work.

Leads/Cables...... don't even go there. Planet Waves, I guess. I haven't experimented in this area to tell the truth. We all know that using shoddy quality leads is a recipe for shoddy results but, other than buying decent leads, I'm not brand exclusive.

Amps. Marshall JVM 410H. Over the years I was never satisfied with my guitar sound and I took a gamble on the JVM. I just had this feeling that I'd like it. Over the years, I'd played different Marshalls and, although they gave great crunch, they were never usually juicy enough in their stock state for the kind of stuff I like doing. But the JVM can do it without the need for adding stomp boxes at the front. It's a little on the noisy side and the D.I. output is noway near as good a representation of what this amp truly sounds like. It's not perfect but it's the one for me. However, Guido and his Peavey JSX & XXX have been flirting with me from afar.... must.. resist... their... attentions.......

What's the point of my rambling post. Does there have to be one? Can't I leave it unfinished? A "To be continued..." kind of thing. No, that's not acceptable? Ok.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is an obvious point for all of us.. we search for the gear that helps us get closer to what we hear in our head. For some of us, it's a lifelong quest. It takes years of trying out different picks to find the one that just feels right and when you find it, don't let it go. Same with anything else that just works for you. If it feels right, it is right.

The strings issue, though... what do we really think about that?

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: May 3 2015, 08:18 PM


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klasaine
post May 3 2015, 08:47 PM
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Picks - Jazz III XLs for me too.

Strings - god I don't know (manufacturer wise)? I use GHS Burnished Nickel Rockers 11 to 50. I prefer them because they are slightly darker due to the pure nickel and their finishing procedure - they're polished a bit.
I've tried probably every brand available. I'm putting a set of Augustine 'electric' (new thing for them) 11 to 48s on a Strat right now. Honestly, any 11 to 50 set is fine for me. *.012s for my jazz guitars and sometimes flatwound as well.
I know that many different brands are actually manufactured at the humongous D'Addario factory in NY.

Amps - ? I'm very fickle.

Guitar - Tele is favored ... but ...

Cables (leads) - I have probably two dozen cables that I've collected over the years. Spectraflex or anything with Canare wire is what I choose when I need a new one. I have two high-end Evidence Audio leads but I only take those to rec sessions.
*1/4" jack size and guitar input jack size I'm finding are not as uniform as they used to be. Been having some intermittent issues on stage. My guitar tech also says that many, many of clients are telling him the same thing. I also know that jack and switch quality/failure has been a big topic of discussion for pedal makers.

This post has been edited by klasaine: May 4 2015, 01:44 AM


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Ben Higgins
post May 4 2015, 08:49 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ May 3 2015, 07:47 PM) *
Picks - Jazz III XLs for me too.

Strings - god I don't know (manufacturer wise)? I use GHS Burnished Nickel Rockers 11 to 50. I prefer them because they are slightly darker due to the pure nickel and their finishing procedure - they're polished a bit.
I've tried probably every brand available. I'm putting a set of Augustine 'electric' (new thing for them) 11 to 48s on a Strat right now. Honestly, any 11 to 50 set is fine for me. *.012s for my jazz guitars and sometimes flatwound as well.
I know that many different brands are actually manufactured at the humongous D'Addario factory in NY.

Amps - ? I'm very fickle.

Guitar - Tele is favored ... but ...

Cables (leads) - I have probably two dozen cables that I've collected over the years. Spectraflex or anything with Canare wire is what I choose when I need a new one. I have two high-end Evidence Audio leads but I only take those to rec sessions.
*1/4" jack size and guitar input jack size I'm finding are not as uniform as they used to be. Been having some intermittent issues on stage. My guitar tech also says that many, many of clients are telling him the same thing. I also know that jack and switch quality/failure has been a big topic of discussion for pedal makers.


Great info, man. The Jazz III XL is just... so right!

Are you finding the jack size issue with cables in general, regardless of brand?


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livoire13
post May 4 2015, 12:32 PM
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Picks : I'm using the famous ibanez grip wizard pick since a while now. But reading your post, gotta try these jazz III XLs picks (eventhough they might be a bit too small for me) ! By the way, how long does a pick last for you ? I usually change it as soon as it becomes too rounded, because I lose on precision.

Strings : 9-42 because of the Floyd Rose. Most of the time, I put enrie ball super slinky strings. Once I tried the thomann strings (very cheap ones) and they were... terrible. They break very easily and provide a bad feeling for the fretting hand. So yes, for me some strings are superior to others. I recently bought elixir which are supposed to last longer, I'm gonna try them soon.
Also, I've been using fastfret for some time. Good product but it gave me grease residues and blackened my maple fret board sad.gif So I change it for xlr8 planet waves string lubricant and cleaner which leaves less grease on the strings. What string cleaner are you using (if so) ?

Cables : plenty of brand different cables. Sure it affects the final sound but it remains a minor element in my gear.

QUOTE
It's a little on the noisy side and the D.I. output is noway near as good a representation of what this amp truly sounds like.


Ben, I guess you use D.I. output when recording, do you ? I was wondering if you ever used a mic in front of the cab ? Otherwise this JVM 410h seems to be a killer amp !
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Ben Higgins
post May 4 2015, 12:56 PM
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QUOTE (livoire13 @ May 4 2015, 11:32 AM) *
Picks : I'm using the famous ibanez grip wizard pick since a while now. But reading your post, gotta try these jazz III XLs picks (eventhough they might be a bit too small for me) ! By the way, how long does a pick last for you ? I usually change it as soon as it becomes too rounded, because I lose on precision.


I don't change them as much as I should! wink.gif

QUOTE (livoire13 @ May 4 2015, 11:32 AM) *
Ben, I guess you use D.I. output when recording, do you ? I was wondering if you ever used a mic in front of the cab ? Otherwise this JVM 410h seems to be a killer amp !


I always used the D.I. for recording ideas quickly and for general recording purposes. For The Reckoning albums, I mic'd it up but it's just too inconvenient (and LOUD) for doing all the time.



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Phil66
post May 4 2015, 01:11 PM
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Ben,

What did you make of the Red Bear tone wise???? It seems a little thicker sounding to me. Deffo not worth the asking price though blink.gif

Did you notice the attacking edges with opposing angles?

Cheers


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Monica Gheorghev...
post May 4 2015, 01:34 PM
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Picks - Jazz III XL (for me this is the perfect pick) and Dunlop Max Grip 0.88 (only for rhythm parts and mostly for the moments when I need to add more crunch to the ton)

Strings - I used D'addario 9-42 and I was very satisfied about this brand. I always change the strings at every 3 weeks and I never had problems with them. But in the last 2 months I heard a difference in sound and also at touch. Everybody told me that I'm crazy but I play at guitar many hours/day and every tiny difference appeared become very annoying for me. Of course I thought that maybe I bought some counterfeit packages (I bought them from a very big musical store from my country). I searched online the authenticity on D'addario site. My code from the package was a good one so, it wasn't a counterfeit. Because this problem became a tragedy for me, I searched, I asked and I found on internet forums some "crazy people" like me which pointed the same difference in sound biggrin.gif Now I use Ernie Ball

Guitars - I tried many guitars but definitely Jackson is my favorite from many points of views but first of all because it's very comfortable for me.

Cables - at this area I'm a totally fan of Monster cables. I tried and I have at home different cables but for me Monster really makes the difference. For my taste was the single cable which gives me: best sound, maximum resistance and minimum handling noise.

Tuners: - I will mention about tuners because for me this it’s an important thing. I’m a maniac to have the guitar in a perfect tuning. That's why I use 2 tuners for a double checking biggrin.gif The first one it's Korg Pitchblack which it's a very good tuner. The second is Seiko which look like a toy but it's insanely precise. I found out about it from Darek which tested millions of tuners.
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klasaine
post May 4 2015, 02:31 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ May 3 2015, 11:49 PM) *
Are you finding the jack size issue with cables in general, regardless of brand?


Sadly, yes.
It's the combination of 1/4" cable (lead) end and effect or guitar input jacks not being perfectly spec'd out. They have to be to work consistently.
A week ago I had a Monster cable literally get stuck in the input jack of a Les Paul (that had recently had the jack changed). In this case it was the (new) jacks fault because the cable was probably 20 years old.

Tuners - IMO the best is any of the Peterson 'Strobo' stomp tuners http://www.petersontuners.com/index.cfm?category=2 (phone app is also xlnt).

Amp DI - Radial JDX http://www.radialeng.com/jdx.php One of the best (and relatively inexpensive) products for getting your amp sound into the PA and monitors. It goes between your head and cab and sends a balanced (XLR) signal to the house.


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Ben Higgins
post May 4 2015, 02:57 PM
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QUOTE (Phil66 @ May 4 2015, 12:11 PM) *
Ben,

What did you make of the Red Bear tone wise???? It seems a little thicker sounding to me. Deffo not worth the asking price though blink.gif

Did you notice the attacking edges with opposing angles?

Cheers


I noticed no difference actually.... it could be that the results produced by that and my fave pick are similar anyway or that my ears aren't as sensitive as some.

I did see them... the only issue I had with the Bear was that it was just a little bit too small, putting my hand too close to the strings. Other than that, I think it's great - really nice texture to hold.

QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ May 4 2015, 12:34 PM) *
Picks - Jazz III XL (for me this is the perfect pick) and Dunlop Max Grip 0.88 (only for rhythm parts and mostly for the moments when I need to add more crunch to the ton)

Strings - I used D'addario 9-42 and I was very satisfied about this brand. I always change the strings at every 3 weeks and I never had problems with them. But in the last 2 months I heard a difference in sound and also at touch. Everybody told me that I'm crazy but I play at guitar many hours/day and every tiny difference appeared become very annoying for me. Of course I thought that maybe I bought some counterfeit packages (I bought them from a very big musical store from my country). I searched online the authenticity on D'addario site. My code from the package was a good one so, it wasn't a counterfeit. Because this problem became a tragedy for me, I searched, I asked and I found on internet forums some "crazy people" like me which pointed the same difference in sound biggrin.gif Now I use Ernie Ball

Guitars - I tried many guitars but definitely Jackson is my favorite from many points of views but first of all because it's very comfortable for me.

Cables - at this area I'm a totally fan of Monster cables. I tried and I have at home different cables but for me Monster really makes the difference. For my taste was the single cable which gives me: best sound, maximum resistance and minimum handling noise.

Tuners: - I will mention about tuners because for me this it’s an important thing. I’m a maniac to have the guitar in a perfect tuning. That's why I use 2 tuners for a double checking biggrin.gif The first one it's Korg Pitchblack which it's a very good tuner. The second is Seiko which look like a toy but it's insanely precise. I found out about it from Darek which tested millions of tuners.


You definitely have an attentive approach to details and the discipline to match. I'm nowhere near as disciplined when it comes to the 'little things' rolleyes.gif

I see tuning the guitar as an annoying chore tongue.gif

QUOTE (klasaine @ May 4 2015, 01:31 PM) *
Sadly, yes.
It's the combination of 1/4" cable (lead) end and effect or guitar input jacks not being perfectly spec'd out. They have to be to work consistently.
A week ago I had a Monster cable literally get stuck in the input jack of a Les Paul (that had recently had the jack changed). In this case it was the (new) jacks fault because the cable was probably 20 years old.


Whaaa? That's definitely not boding well for us then.


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Todd Simpson
post May 4 2015, 03:19 PM
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Picks - either my Vonhotch Signature OCTAVIOUS, and or V-Picks Signature Switchblade. Sorted!

Strings - Ernie Ball Super Slinky .9, 6 and 7 string sets, and Ernie Super Light .8 sets for my 8 String smile.gif

Amps - - 11 Rack through a Velocity 300 Power Amp. (Love the Mesa and Bogner sims in the 11 rack)

Guitar -
Anything as long as it's IBANEZ and made in Japan smile.gif

Cables - Spectraflex dual Right angle and HESU patch cables.

That about covers it smile.gif I'm alway trying new bits and always open to new gear, but the more gear I buy and try, the more I find myself going back to the bits listed smile.gif


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Phil66
post May 4 2015, 03:23 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ May 4 2015, 02:57 PM) *
I noticed no difference actually.... it could be that the results produced by that and my fave pick are similar anyway or that my ears aren't as sensitive as some.

I did see them... the only issue I had with the Bear was that it was just a little bit too small, putting my hand too close to the strings. Other than that, I think it's great - really nice texture to hold.


Gab's ear training course must helping me because I never used to tell the difference but I tried it just before sent it and thought i could, don't know if I could blind though unsure.gif

I found it far too small too, Rob Balducci has been using a bigger one with holes in and loves it. I'll see if I can get one for you.

On a similar note, how did SRV get such a beefy tone with, allegedly just a Strat with 15's; a tube screamer and a Marshall? blink.gif

Cheers

This post has been edited by Phil66: May 5 2015, 02:16 PM


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Beat Zbinden
post May 4 2015, 03:54 PM
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Picks -Dunlop Big Stubby 2 mm

Strings - Elixir Nanoweb Light .010 - .046 for my Gibson Guitar and Elixir Nanoweb Custom Light .009 - .046 and Super Light .009 - .042 for my Ibanez Guitars

Amps - AXE Fx Mark 2 Preamp and Matrix GT 1000 FX Poweramp and Matrix 212 Cabinet

Guitar - Gibson Les Paul Custom, Ibanez JEM 7V, Ibanez EGEN 18 TFV, Ibanez RG Premium

Cables - Contrik Swissflex NK1
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SpaseMoonkey
post May 4 2015, 05:51 PM
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Picks - Tortex Sharp 1.5mm and JP Jazz

Strings - D'Addario EXL125 (9 - 46). Tho I have been wanting to try S.I.T. as they are locally made and a bit cheaper.

Amps - - Kemper Direct to interface , Mesa Mark 5:25 into a Marshall 2x12 MC cab. (Hardly use the Mark 5:25, Kemper still trumps it due to effects and ease of recording.)

Guitar - Anything as long as it's IBANEZ and made in Japan smile.gif (Todd say this perfect. Tho I may look into selling my RG470 and the Mesa Mark, as I'm thinking of saving for either a Carvin or a Guerilla)

Cables - Spectraflex for my speaker/interface wiring and Lava Cable for my guitar.


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Ibanez RG920QM (Black Ice) , Ibanez S770PB (Natural Flat) , Ibanez RG470XL (Black Perl) , Squire IV Jazz Bass (Sunburst)
Gear:
Kemper Profiling Amp , Mesa Mark 5:25

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