Courtney Cox’s signature shred machine extracts shreddy versatility from a streamlined control set.
Excellent craftsmanship and playability.
Expensive. Some might want a tone control.
Caparison Horus-M3 CC
Caparison Guitars is, at this point, sort of an elder statesman among high-end metal guitar makers. Founded in 1995 by ex-staffers from Charvel/Jackson’s Japan division, Caparison was bought by a British company in 2011 and is now owned by George and Gabriel Ösztreicher. But original founder and designer Itaru Kanno is still onboard—personally inspecting and setting up every guitar before shipping.
Caparison builds weapons of choice for Killswitch Engage and Mattias Eklundh. And now their artist roster includes Courtney Cox of the Iron Maidens, whose namesake instrument, the Horus-M3 CC, is reviewed here.
The CC’s body is built with a maple middle section sandwiched between mahogany wings. Our guitar came in an arresting pink sapphire finish that, combined with Caparison’s signature “Devil’s Tail” headstock and the fretboard’s clock inlays, elevates the guitar’s already ample ’80s-shred-machine aura.
Premium parts are used throughout the CC, including a CTS master volume knob, a Switchcraft 3-way pickup selector switch, a Schaller locking nut, and Gotoh tuners. The guitar is strung with DR Veritas strings (.009-.042) and comes with a shock-absorbent, semi-soft Reunion Blues Voyager case.
The guitar’s Schaller floating tremolo is a nice piece of hardware, too. It has a FU-Tone brass block for added mass, FU-Tone Titanium string lock insert blocks, and stainless steel saddle-mounting screws. It’s a light-yet-solid-feeling tremolo, with easy-to-maneuver fine tuners that have great sensitivity and range. You get all the dive-bombing ability you’d expect, but the tremolo is set from the factory for extreme pitch-up maneuvers, too. On the 3rd string, I was able to pull up a perfect fourth to C, and could almost make it to C#!
Elsewhere, the Horus-M3 CC’s construction is excellent. Fretwork and the factory setup are both superb. The only minor issue I noted, a cosmetic one, was slight unevenness in the paintwork in the tremolo’s top recessed cavity. (Although it’s possible it may have been done intentionally as a design element.)
The 5-piece, maple-and-walnut bolt-on neck is not as thin as those you see on many shred machines, but it’s very comfortable. It features a maple fretboard with a 14"–16" compound radius and 27 jumbo nickel silver frets that give you access to two full octaves and then some. The oil finish on the neck provides a slick, fast feel that makes shredding easy. Having access to so much fretting real estate is a lot of fun. I have an old Washburn EC36 with access to 36 frets, so I’m familiar with the tiny space between frets that high up, but if you’re coming from the conventional 21-to-24-fret layout, the tight quarters might take some time to get used to.
Playing in the upper stratosphere of the CC reminded me that while extreme upper-fret ranges are sometimes considered a novelty by the uninitiated, they are ripe with musical potential when used judiciously. Of course, to make extra-high fretting work, playability is a must, and I was amazed that the absolute highest note on the guitar rang true and sustained easily. I was even more surprised that I could bend up a step-and-a-half on that note without fretting out. Impressive.
The neck joint heel cutaway allows access to the 27th fret, but, realistically, at the highest part of the fretboard it was most playable on the high E through G strings. From the D string down to the low E string, it’s hard to get a comfortable angle without weird fretting-hand contortions.
Flight of the Horus
I tested the Horus-M3 CC through Mesa/Boogie Tremoverb and Fender Prosonic amps. The Caparison pickups—SH-27F blade humbucker in the neck and PH-bc humbucker in the bridge—deliver distinctly classic metal colors that also manage to be a refreshing change from the sound of active pickups so prominent in modern metal. The neck pickup is quiet, exceptionally clear, and is free of the woofy qualities that plague some high gain neck pickups. The bridge pickup is tight and crunchy, and lends itself to chugging riffs like the intro to Iron Maiden’s “22 Acacia Avenue” and singing harmony melodies like the riff to “Aces High.” Interestingly, the sonic differences and volume ranges between the three pickup positions are not worlds apart in some high-gain settings. The upside is that changing between the three positions delivers very organic shifts in tone color.
There’s no tone control on the Horus-M3 CC, but—while having one would increase the guitar’s versatility—the instrument’s signature sound is very balanced, in general. The highs are not shrill or grating, and there’s a lot of tonal variation available just from manipulating the volume control. Knocking the guitar volume down to 8 tames high-gain tones noticeably. Down at 6, you can go from clean to dirty by varying your pick attack.
With a price tag of $2,799, the Horus-M3 CC is a splurge. But there’s no question that the Horus-M3 CC’s impressive build quality and surprising tonal range will justify the cost for many metal-in-the-veins players.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.