A versatile humbucker/single-coil Strat with pickups by tone guru Tim Shaw.
The sonic versatility of guitars with both single coil and humbucking pickups appeals to tone hunters. Moving from the clean slice of the former to the warm growl of the latter is a quick and easy way to make amps and pedals speak in different dialects.
Enter the American Standard Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker, a formidable beast with a bridge humbucker and two single-coils. Fender pickup guru Tim Shaw designed the humbucker with an ear toward bold vintage tones, and there’s plenty of bite and bark in this zebra-colored critter.
Although Shaw’s been at Fender for 20 year—and is comfortable in every facet of the guitar-building business—he started out as an apprentice to famed pickup designer Bill Lawrence before working at Gibson R&D. His Shawbucker is inspired by Seth Lover’s original PAF—and it kicks butt. Like ’50s originals, it’s unpotted—that is, not dipped in wax like most modern ’buckers. It’s also relatively low-output, like original PAFs.
But Shaw adds a cool non-historic detail: an automatic dual-pot volume control. Kick in the Shawbucker and the pot runs at a bright 500K for full spank and breathy articulation. But when the humbucker is switched off, the control operates at Fender’s traditional 250k value.
Wood and Mettle
The HSS Shawbucker delivers pretty much what you’d expect from a well-made American Standard Strat: the classic contoured looks, a vintage-feeling neck, and durable hardware. Our test model has a comfortably thin C-profile maple neck, a 9.5" fretboard, and medium jumbo frets. The light, comfy body is ash.
Our test guitar arrived in dapper black, though the model is available in five polyurethane finishes. It includes Fender’s newly upgraded tremolo bridge featuring bent-steel saddles and a copper-infused block that allegedly provides greater sustain and more fluid bar action. I couldn’t tell whether it accomplishes those missions, but at first, using the bar—even slightly—consistently knocked the guitar out of tune, though tightening the two screws that secure the bridge assembly to the body cured that pronto.
Another nice touch: staggered tuning posts. They descend in height from the low E to high E, increasing the strings’ break angle over the nut. This supposedly improves performance and eliminates buzz, though it won’t counter a poor set-up. The guitar’s strings were so close to the fretboard when it arrived that the low E and A strings buzzed slightly along most of the neck. That’s no deal-breaker though—a pro setup could quickly cure this problem.
Since Shaw’s mission was vintage tones, I plugged into vintage amps: a 1966 Fender Twin, a 1972 Marshall Super Lead, and a mid-’90s Mesa-Boogie Dual Rectifier Tremo-Verb. Buzzing strings aside, I was smitten, especially by the ultra-responsive Shawbucker.
In the bridge-only position, chords and notes seemed to jump from the Twin’s speakers before relaxing into a rich, airy bloom. Unlike most conventional Strats with single-coil bridge pickups, there was no ear-stabbing shrillness, even at bright settings. Tones were rich, powerful, and cutting. Meanwhile, the single-coil sounds provided traditional Strat-thenticity.
Through the Mesa driving a 12-inch Eminence Private Jack 50-watt speaker with all controls straight up, tones were warmer, with increased sustain and power. The overall sound was more harmonically generous than that from the Twin, with nicely developing sonic trails.
But the biggest thrill was the Super Lead pumping into a 1x12 Ted Weber 60-watt speaker cabinet. The warm amp tone complemented the Shawbucker’s bright top end and emphasized its beautiful midrange. There was a wonderful palette of overtones and absolutely killer sustain. Talk about vintage tone! This was the Wayback Machine set to 1969 for a perfect mating of Marshall and humbucker—it’s a marriage the Shawbucker seems meant for.
The American Standard Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker is more than your average Strat. It’s versatile, articulate, and highly playable. Notes and chords come through loud and clear, with a sweet harmonic profile. The Tim Shaw humbucker is a classy-sounding pickup with full-bodied midrange and enough brightness to cut through in any band, minus the potential knife-edge tones that bridge single-coils can produce. This guitar rocks!
Watch the Review Demo:
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This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials