Warren Ellis'' signature Eastwood is a 4-string tenor electric that opens sonic frontiers typically ignored by 6-string acolytes.
|Download Example 1|
|Download Example 2|
|Clips recorded through a 1973 Fender Champ.|
As a member of Grinderman, Cave’s most straight-ahead and hard-rocking project in years, Ellis has thrashed at both Fender Musicmasters and Fender electric mandolins. Doubtless, it was a love of these two instruments—plus a dose of Ellis’ irreverent, free, and Frankenstein-ian musical sensibilities—that led him to develop his signature Eastwood. The result is a most uncommon electric 4-string tenor electric that not only suits Eastwood’s reputation for embracing oddball instruments and Ellis’ unorthodox approach to guitar, but also opens sonic frontiers typically ignored by 6-string acolytes.
It ain’t no banjo!
The tenor guitar has a muddled history at best. Its rise in popularity in the first third of the 20th century is probably attributable to the popularity of the similarly strung and tuned tenor banjo, which had enormous appeal in early jazz circles because of its cutting timbre. While the 6-string guitar ultimately eclipsed banjo and tenor guitar in popularity, major builders kept the tenor guitar alive. Gibson and Martin were both big tenor builders. And when the guitar went electric, Guild, Gretsch, Gibson, and Rickenbacker made electric tenor or tenorinspired instruments. Today, Ellis—along with a few other high-profile tenor freaks like Neko Case—is helping to keep the instrument alive and in the public eye.
The 23"-scale Warren Ellis Signature Tenor is a cool-looking little guitar. It’s flawlessly built, too. The alder body is cut into a shapely Musicmaster-/Mustang-/Duo- Sonic-style profile, only in more compact dimensions. The pickguard and chrome control-cavity cover are almost identical to those on a Mustang. And the body, neck, and headstock are all painted in a glossy vintage crème color—which looks fantastic with the faux-tortoiseshell pickguard. The chrome bridge is a hybrid of Telecaster and Mustang design philosophies, with four barrel-style saddles that are adjustable for height and intonation. Kluson-style tuners look very cool and well proportioned on the compact headstock, which is adorned with Ellis’ signature and karate-kick logo. And the rosewood fretboard is capped with narrow-profile vintage fretwire.
Burly Little Beast
I tested the Ellis tenor through a Fender Champ and a Vox Pathfinder, and it yielded a world of surprises right off the bat. First, the guitar was shipped tuned to proper tenor tuning—a set of fifths, C-G-D-A. The string spacing is also much wider than what you feel under hand on a 6-string, and the neck is slightly wider than your average tenor—a design that Ellis felt would better suit modern bass players and guitarists.
But string spacing accounts for only part of the odd feel. Unlike the fourth string on a 6-string—which is typically around .025 mm—the lowest string on a tenor is a .042, and on a short scale tends that tends to have a very elastic feel and perceptible sonic heaviness. The rest of the strings are on the heavier side too—with a .013 on top, and .017 and .030 on the second and third string, respectively.
Toying around with the few banjo chords in my vocabulary and using the C-G-D-A tuning, I immediately tapped into the unique merits of a tenor guitar. The string spacing makes fingerpicking this thing a delight. And adapting clawhammer banjo techniques to electric guitar tones resulted in some very interesting approaches to both composition and cool-sounding versions of old folk and country standards. Needless to say, it’s a real kick to lend a new feel to an old log like Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway” by playing it banjo style through an electric- guitar pickup and Vox amp.
Tuning the Ellis to D-G-B-E—the same as the highest four strings of a guitar in concert tuning—gave the guitar a unique and interesting sonic signature that would sound very cool as an overdub or accompaniment to a 6-string. The heavier D string lent a basic, first-position D chord an unmistakable girth and an extended frequency range. It’s not as easy to move from chord to chord, given the wide string spacing—and you’re not going to use this axe to do any lightning-quick pentatonic runs—but with a little practice I was able to flatpick arpeggios at a pretty aggressive tempo and could keep up with a buddy’s flattop accompaniment.
I got my favorite sounds from the Eastwood when I toyed with alternate tunings. Ellis has been known to tinker with amplified bouzouki, so I thought I’d try some Middle Eastern-tinged tunings with drones, doubles, and fifths, which really brought the little Eastwood to life, particularly with a little delay in the signal. The surprisingly hot single-coil positively bloomed with the muscular drone of the thick fourth string and the overtones from the sympathetically tuned first and third strings. It’s a potentially massive sound. And it’s easy to see why Ellis, who often embraces a sort of anti-technique involving clanging chords and single-note lead lines, would embrace this little guitar’s articulation and impressive resonance in the low midrange.
Not every player will find a use for the Eastwood Warren Ellis Tenor. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a million potential sounds for imaginative and adventurous players to work with. It’s easy to imagine this guitar becoming an X factor in the studio because of its ability to lend such harmonic richness to say, an ordinary C chord. It’s also well designed to take advantage of the intrinsic advantages of tenor guitar, with a pickup that brilliantly highlights the huge harmonic and overtone potential of the heavier fourth and third strings, and the biting first and second strings. Despite its no-frills appearance, this is a guitar of remarkable versatility—one that can lend thrilling new flavors to roots music, Americana, and internationally flavored jams, as well as worlds of texture to the music of boundary-obliterating experimentalists (like its namesake). The tenor guitar may be an old concept, but this particular take on the form, and the collaboration between Eastwood and Warren Ellis, are truly inspired.
you’re fearlessly intrigued by new techniques and styles, or want to create unusual textures in the studio.
unknowns freak you out or you prefer sticking to standard 6-string tones and techniques.
Street $499 - Eastwood Guitars - eastwoodguitars.com
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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
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The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
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Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
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This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.