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The Gibson Les Paul, hailed by many as the holy grail of rock guitars, and when you consider that the Les Paul was the “weapon of choice” for talented musicians such as Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Slash, Ace Frehley, Stone Gossard to name but a few, it’s massive following is hardly surprising. However, if you’re looking to add yourself to the list of Les Paul devotees, it's important to understand that these gorgeous and toneful instuments don't exactly come cheap. In fact, the retail list price of a Gibson Les Paul can be anything up to $15,000 and beyond. Thankfully, for those who want a Les Paul, and currently don't want to spend more than you would for a small family car, there is an excellent solution in the Epiphone Les Paul Standard.


Made in Korea, this Gibson-designed Les Paul copy looks and feels like the real deal. If it wasn’t for distinctive Epiphone headstock you’d be fooled, although even this bears the familiar Les Paul signature. Coming in a variety of colour options, the Epiphone’s two-piece, maple top is beautifully figured, and the cream-colored binding, pickup surrounds and pickguard compliment its finish lending that authentic appeal you’d hope for.


The Epiphone Les Paul Standard’s neck is a similar “clunk-free” type found on the classic and universally acclaimed 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard. As you would expect, the fingerboard is rosewood and the fretwire is sufficiently wide to make Slash inspired string bends a breeze.


Using it’s powerful bridge pickup, modelled after Gibson's 498T, the Epiphone gives a satisfyingly low-end, a midrange that cuts nicely and a high-end that’s pretty darned smooth.  Switching to the neck pickup, the guitar produces an expected deep, dark, fluid tone, easily nailing some very pleasing clean, crunch and lead tones.


For Epiphone to have made such a low cost, good-looking, good-sounding guitar, there obviously must have be a downside somewhere, and there is. The stylish maple top is actually a glued on veneer facade, whilst the new Gibson Les Paul Standard bodies are all crafted from a single slab of mahogany, the Epiphone body is actually made from several pieces of mahogany, laminated together, as is the same for the neck. However, laminating the body and neck allows the guitar to weigh in at just 8.7 pounds, almost 1.5 pounds lighter than it’s Gibson Les Paul Standard cousin.


What we have in the Epiphone Les Paul Standard is a well-made, eye-catching Les Paul copy  that plays well, sounds as good as it looks and won’t force you to re-morgage to afford it. If you're looking for a Les Paul but don't have the funds, or simply the best Les Paul copy, this affordable Epiphone is one of the best options around.

 

Fender are set to release a new line of Vintage Modified basses, including this beautiful little tobacco burst number - the Vintage Modified Mustang. With a retail set at £347, it looks to be very affordable for the discerning bassist looking to reach (literally) into the short scale section of low-end goodness. The official press release from the guitar masters reads as follows:

"A truly classic Fender bass guitar model from the mid-1960s returns in the sleek, short-scale form of the Squier Vintage Modified Mustang Bass. The instrument honors its 1966 ancestor with a basswood body finished in Black or Three-color Sunburst, 19-fret maple neck and 30-inch scale perfect for players of all kinds who appreciate the comfort of a short-scale instrument. Other features include a Duncan Designed split single-coil pickup, three-ply pickguard, chrome tuners and distinctive Mustang Bass four-saddle bridge. Superior tone, smooth playability, great comfort and fantastic value."

 

Since its inception in 1960, the Fender Jazz Bass has become the staple instrument of bassists spanning a wide variety of music genres. Despite the 'Jazz' name tag, this bass excels in much more, from blues and country, through to rock and metal. Noted for its smooth playability and rich, versatile tonal spectrum, Fender had a strong platform to build upon when bringing the bass into the modern day with its Standard Jazz Bass.

Coming in a variety of colour options, the body is built from fine pieces of Alder with a polyester finish. Solid and reliable, it'll be able to withstand even the most careless of bassists. The body has an offset waist contour, allowing it to sit comfortably while you play.

The necks are carved from maple, and all come with a 20 medium jumbo fretted rosewood fingerboard. The Jazz neck is of the Modern "C" Shape, and comes in slightly thinner than its Precision Bass brother, so we found it a lot more comfortable to play with smaller hands. The four strings are fed through a Standard Vintage Style bridge with individual saddles, and are wound on the headstock by Standard Fender machine heads, all of which provide reliable tuning and great sustain to feed through to your amplifier.

Two Standard Jazz Bass, single coil pickups are dropped into the body, along with a Volume control for each, and one Master Tone control. This proves to be the key in finding a tone suitable for a number of genres. If you want a warmer sound for jazz playing, roll back the bridge pickup volume, and turn the neck one up. Alternatively, should you be providing the low-end to a rock band, then maxing out the bridge pickup volume, whilst turning down the neck by a quarter turn gives the bass a very punchy sound.

SUMMARY: If you're looking to upgrade your starter instrument to something more reliable, or transferring across to bass from guitar, the Fender Standard Jazz bass should certainly feature at the top of your options.


Instrumania provides you with the resource for comparing products on offer from a wide variety of online musical instrument shops, allowing you to find the cheapest Standard Jazz Bass for sale.

Shure SM58 Microphone Review

 

Since its introduction in 1966, the Shure SM58 microphone has become known as possibly the best microphone available for live and studio applications, and after picking one up and testing it extensively, it’s easy to see why.

 

The SM58 is a cardioid (unidirectional) dynamic mic geared towards live vocal use. It has been produced in two versions, wired or wireless, and made either with or without a switch, should you feel the need for one. The wired version connects via a balanced 3-pin xlr plug, and all versions have a frequency response from 50 to 15,000Hz - ideal for even the highest pitched vocalist. With its recognisable silver steel mesh grill and slim profile, it weighs in at approx. 298 grams (or 10.5 oz), making it a superb lightweight option.


The first thing we noticed when plugging it in for a band rehearsal, and at several gigs, was the sheer clarity the microphone adds to the vocals, whilst cutting out a lot of surrounding noise from the rest of the band. It also does superbly well in cutting out pop and wind noise. The midrange to upper frequencies shone through in the lead vocal, adding warmth where other microphones leave many a vocal sounding tinny and ‘lacking’.

 


What we also came to notice through extended use was how the microphone sat in our hands. Its slim profile and light weight ensured no discomfort by the end of a 1-hour set, even whilst moving vigorously on stage. As with all clumsy front men, there were occasions when the mic was dropped, however, the worry of breaking such an exceptional microphone was soon washed away as it kept on coming back for more. This was also true whilst being carted between venues and rehearsals inside a gear case full of other microphones and leads.

 


Whilst reviewing, we were also lucky enough to test out its performance in the studio for laying down vocal tracks on several recordings. The warmth from live use was thankfully not lost in the studio either, allowing the natural vocal to flow into the recordings. The clarity was more obvious in the studio, as there was no interference from the other instruments.

 

The SM58 is a fantastic microphone well suited to rock and powerful vocals. It performs best when up close and personal with the singer’s lips, due to the increased bass at close range from the proximity effect, so remember this when picking up and plugging in!

 


SUMMARY: This microphone takes a (literal) licking, and keeps on ticking! Whether it’s studio application or live performances, you need a reliable and clear microphone, and this is it. It won’t break the bank, or anything else given its lightweight, slender design. Every vocalist should own one (or two, just in case).



For a cheap Shure SM58, use Instrumania.com. We compare dozens of retailers to find you the lowest cost musical instruments and accessories.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to get to close grips with Ibanez’s slender RGA42 FM fixed bridge guitar offering, and have been putting it through its paces at home and on stage. Here’s how it lines up.

 

The solid mahogany body with stained flame maple top of the RGA42 is extremely light, and available in Transparent Grey Burst, Bright Blue Burst or Transparent Red Burst. It features a Superstrat style body with Ibanez’s trademark sharper and deeper cutaways for edgier looks and improved access to the higher frets.

 

Hardware consists of “Cosmos Black” Gibraltar Standard through-body strung bridge, one volume control, pickup rings, strap buttons and machine heads. All of these are accompanied by an active EQ switch which acts as a switch to cut out mids, and a 3-way selector switch to flick between the pair of LZ3 humbuckers, or a blend of both.

 

Ibanez’s 3-piece Wizard II bolt on neck is finished with a bound rosewood fret board, pearl dot fret markers and 24 jumbo frets.

 

Out of the box, the guitar is reasonably well setup, with pickup height requiring little adjustment. The neck needed no truss rod adjustment, and in all received action adjustment to suit, and minor intonation adjustments.

 

The Wizard II neck lends itself to budding new guitarists and experts alike, plus everyone in between. It has a comfortable and thin profile allowing it to fit superbly in hand, whether you’re practising chord shapes and scales, or shredding a tight sweep picking solo.

 

The hardware is a very solid set, and kept tuning well, even when tuning down to lower tunings. The sustain through the body, bridge and the active pickups is fantastic; and the LZ3s produce little to no noise at high gain – just very crunching overdrive, while the neck pickup is perfect for blues-inspired playing, or for warmer lead lines. Between both humbuckers and the EQ switch, the pickup configuration provides a very wide range of sounds.

 

SUMMARY: Whether you’re walking through light blues rock, strumming some good ol’ fashioned rock and roll, or shredding heavy metal, this guitar is able to handle it all effortlessly, and comes back for more.


For a Cheap Ibanez RGA42 use Instrumania.com. We compare dozens of retailers to find you the lowest cost musical instruments and accessories.

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