Reviewed: Fender Parallel Universe Jazz Tele
You know that particular look of elation marathon runners get once they finally schlep through that bastard ribbon? The well-deserved yet borderline smug grin that painters get when they finish whitewashing an entire interior? The way the electricity in the air changes when someone cleans up a table in a pool hall? If Fender guitars were suddenly anthropomorphised into human form then the Parallel Universe series would be its wry smile. With their oldest arch nemesis out of the running for all intents and purposes, they are freer than ever to stretch their inimitable wings and feel the heady creative breeze that encircles the top of the food-chain flow languidly over every pore and feather.
Reviewed: Hagstrom Guitars Paramore Artist Project Series
Karl Hagstrom began producing accordions in Sweden in 1925. After a trip to the United States in the 1950s and an introduction to rock n’ roll, Hagstrom decided to expand his business to producing and manufacturing electric guitars. According to Hagstrom’s website, the guitars were produced with materials traditionally used for accordions, but the influence goes further. Hagstrom has found a modern market for its distinctive guitars in Swedish black metal rockers Ghost, as well as the Foo Fighters and Dweezil Zappa. More recently, Justin and Taylor York of Paramore have designed three guitars in conjunction with Hagstrom’s Artist Project series: a solid body electric and two hollow body electrics. Hagstrom’s accordions inspire the new Artist Series Impala, designed in conjunction with Taylor York.
Reviewed: Sterling by Music Man Axis AX3
The Sterling by Music Man range is Ernie Ball Music Man’s answer to Epiphone and Squier: well-made instruments from a reputable company at a budget price. The Axis looks great and feels solid, but loses some points in playability, build quality and tuning. The guitar sounds great, even with stock pickups, but the edges of the frets can be a little harsh. These issues aren’t unfixable, but it’s not what you’d want straight out of the box.
Reviewed: Fender Player Series Telecaster
Let’s use much loved ‘90s cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an analogy for a moment. Imagine Leo Fender’s famed Stratocaster is Leonardo, a wise leader, the oldest of the crew and ready, willing and able to take any situation in stride. That would make his Telecaster the equivalent to Raphael—an emotionally raw, younger upstart with as much anti-authoritarian angst as it has a tendency towards its softer side. Leo himself then becomes Master Splinter and a certain other rival builder with evil robotic attachments, The Shredder, but I digress. Since their inception, the two at the top of every Fender catalogue have always had that hand-in-hand yet push/pull relationship. Even as individual as they are, you rarely think of one without thinking of the other.
Reviewed: Cort G260DX Electric Guitar
Cort’s G series of electric guitars has undergone somewhat of a revamp, further refining their specs and looks. As a nice priced double cutaway guitar, they sit in the affordable entry/mid level bracket with some additional appointments to add some extra tweaks into the mix. Cort has always been popular for its value for money instruments—let’s see if the Sea Foam coloured G260DX keeps the trend going.
Reviewed: Fender Player Series Stratocaster
It feels like lately the kind folk at the Fender dream factories have decided to smarten up their already spiffy act. Gone are the modern appointments, nay quirks, of the Blacktop and Highway One series. Workhorse American Professional models have well and truly planted themselves in the hearts and minds of players from all walks of life and their classic era builds have those of us with nostalgia on the brain tied up in knots.
Reviewed: Line 6 Shuriken SR250 Variax Guitar
The Line 6 Variax Shuriken is the latest Variax guitar, created in conjunction with 12-Foot Ninja guitarist Steve “Stevic” Mackay, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. It connects via VDI to Line 6’s Workbench HD software and allows the user to endless tweak presets that can be turned on and cycled through very easily. It’s available in 25.5” and 27” scale lengths, and feels like a solid, well-built guitar.
Reviewed: Sterling by Music Man Albert Lee AL40
Albert Lee is undoubtedly guitar royalty. Best known for his remarkably clean and lightening fast country chops, the venerable guitarist has been in partnership with Ernie Ball Music Man for over 40 years, with his signature offset guitar receiving rave reviews worldwide. As such, it was no surprise that when the Albert Lee signature model by Sterling was announced in early 2018, it turned the heads of adoring fans worldwide. Just like the St. Vincent, John Petrucci and James Valentine signature models, the SBMM Albert Lee signature successfully manages to balance both the spirit and elegance of its more expensive counterpart with the affordability of the Sterling series.