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Media Round Up: Gear Reviews

Published: Sat January 05, 2008  News Feed

In what we hope will become a regular feature on our site, we'll have a look at some recent magazines and bring you what they have said about gear you can find on Dolphin Music. Today: find out what are the "super guitars", and what gear was the "essential purchase" for Kele Okereke of Bloc Party...

Guitarist Magazine's "Super Guitars"

Fender VG Stratocaster

Guitarist magazine, who recently launched it's excellent new site musicradar.com, gave 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) to the new Fender VG Stratocaster, in its Januray 2008 issue. It was described as a "super guitar" alongside the Taylor T5 and the new Ovation VXT and, by the sounds of it, can give the (deservedly) hyped Gibson Robot Guitar a run for its money.

The VG Stratocaster gives you several alternate tuning modes, like the Robot Guitar, but also five Strat sounds, three Tele and Les Paul sounds as well as acoustic and 12-string options too.

"A glimpse of the future as the first digital Stratocaster rolls off the production line. The VG is unquestionably the most forward-looking Stratocaster since Fender launched the model in 1954. Yet aside from one extra knob and a sliver of discrete electronic augmentation in front of the bridge, it could be the same guitar that first appeared all those years ago. Fender - perhaps more than any other musical instrument company - knows that guitar players tend to like things just as they were.

"As a digital modelling guitar for the masses, Fender and Roland have got this pretty much spot on. Using the platform of the American Series Strat is perfect because it’s a pro spec guitar that’ll last. The VG side offers just enough of a glimpse of the potential benefits of digital modelling without any of the drawbacks. "

The Music Radar website has a more detailed review of the instrument and you can read it here.

Ovation VXT Hybrid Guitar

The new Ovation VXT Hybrid guitar came a close second next to the VG Stratocaster, and also received a 4 1/2 stars rating from Guitarist magazine. The VXt has a new concept - it allows you to pan from sweet acoustic finger style to hard driving power chords with just a turn of a knob. Or, discover a near infinite range of exciting new sounds by combining electric and acoustic in various amounts.

From the magazine:

"We'd wager a few blues guys would love it...the twin PAF-alikes take us back and the sounds are rich and soulful - very hollow ES335-esque - but it definitely feels and sounds more solidbody than the T5.

"...with its esay-to-use tonal access it has to be a very serious contender for the journeyman musician wanting to cover some solid/semi-style electric voices with a smattering of acoustic. Yet in the hands of a creative musician you could turn it on its head."

Taylor T5 Standard

Guitarist magazine also awarded the other super guitar, the Taylor T5 Standard, with a 4 1/2 stars rating. It was obviously hard to tell which one was the best guitar! That's because they all do similar things but in different ways. The VG Stratocaster is for the electric guitarist who might want an occasional acoustic sound, whereas the T5 has more of an acoustic feel, and is recommended for those who'd like a good electro-acoustic guitar with the option of also having some electric guitar sounds. And the VXT sits somewhere in the middle.

The Taylor T5 was described as "truly innovative" by Guitarist, and it's worth pointing out that it's been originally released in 2005 - but it still looks and feels like a new, revolutionary instrument! Guitarist magazine says it actually inspired the VXT, according to Ovation themselves.

"The T5 captures a very engaging electro tone with plenty of sparkle, depth and realism; like a proper full-bodied acoustic, it'll pick up body noise and strap squeaks...Position Four, for example, is a great hybrid rhythm sound: a little Tele/Ricky-like and a jangler's dream.

"The Taylor will surprise many with its electric voices, old-style and rootsy, but still able to handle gain..."

What Kele Okoreke (Bloc Party) Told the NME

Here's a big surprise! Even though Bloc Party are probably one of the most creative guitar bands in the UK right now (with a rather big collection of Boss FX pedals!) singer Kele Okoreke revealed to the NME, in this week's issue, that his essential gear purchase of 2007 was a Korg MicroKorg!

"I guess [the essential purchase was] the Korg Micro synthesizer that we use on 'Flux'. That was something that I bought when we came back to London in the middle of the year. We were messing around on it and we kind of wrote 'Flux'."

The MicroKorg has been an enduring success, being used by artists as diverse as Jean Michel Jarre, The Prodigy, The Killers, Royksopp and, now, Bloc Party, amongst many others. Korg also released a limited-edition MicroKorg last December, with cool black keys, which is still available from Dolphin Music as we write.

Visit the Bloc Party Myspace page to hear "Flux".

Korg Limited-Edition microKORG Black

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