The sounds you can extract from the hyperlight, super-playable, and sweet-sounding guitar can range from beautifully familiar to revelatory—and just might change the way you see and hear the potential in shortscale, Fender-style solidbodies.
Anyone who says there aren’t any new moves left to put in Leo Fender’s solidbody electric concept hasn’t played a Mario guitar. Based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Mario Guitars is run by Mario Martin, who worked in the Fender Custom Shop for five years and knows what makes a good T-, S-, or J-style guitar tick. Indeed, Martin’s guitars are some of the snappiest-sounding, smoothest-playing solidbodies you could hope to encounter.
With the Serpentine, which debuted as a single-pickup guitar at Summer NAMM 2010, Martin revealed his willingness to dabble with some less-explored Fender-style design templates, combined with tonewood and pickup configurations that resulted in a unique sonic signature. The newest two-pickup version, the Serpentine 2 is Martin’s most complete realization of the design, and the sounds you can extract from the hyperlight, super-playable, and sweet-sounding guitar can range from beautifully familiar to revelatory—and just might change the way you see and hear the potential in shortscale, Fender-style solidbodies.
While the Serpentine’s body profile differs subtly, it’s clearly inspired by Fender’s Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic student models on which about a gazillion aspiring rockers cut their teeth in the late ’50s, early ’60s, and beyond. It’s a pleasing, well-proportioned shape that looks as sharp as a little hot rod in candy apple red. Another nice touch is the pickguard that extends along the upper bout in the fashion of an early Precision bass.
One of the most important—and perceptible—differences between the Serpentine 2 and a similar Fender is Martin’s use of paulownia, an ultralight Asian wood that’s also grown in the American South—which is where Martin gets his. Its light weight has made it appealing to, of all things, wooden surfboard builders who cherish it for its durability-toweight properties. But as Mario Guitars has discovered, paulownia can pay sonic dividends too, and it makes the first time you pick up a Serpentine an almost shocking experience. It seems to weigh almost nothing. And at just about five pounds, in guitar terms, that’s very nearly true.
Once you get past the sense you’ve got a bag of down feathers strapped about your neck (a positively delightful sensation toward the end of a four-hour jam session), you’ll notice the cool-looking TV Jones Power’Trons. These humbuckers work really well in terms of visual balance on the Serpentine’s compact body, but also work almost magically with the resonant range of the paulownia wood.
Otherwise, the guitar is as simple as they come. Two T-style chrome knobs and a 3-position switch are arranged in a line just out of the way of aggressive strumming strokes, but close enough that you can pull off volume swells with your pinky.
Power’Tron Tunes and
Playing the Serpentine 2 is a physical, sometimes visceral experience—which is to say it’s a an instrument that invites and responds to body language and a dynamic approach, and feels alive in your hands.
Not all players are willing to tinker with a short-scale fretboard, but it can be a ticket to nimble bends and quick picking when strung up with a set of .010s, or alternatively, a steady, resonant, but pliable platform with .011s. Either way, it’s a beautifully playable guitar. The guitar is so light but balanced that putting a little leverage behind a bend with a downward pivot on the neck is both easy and precise. The medium jumbo 6105 frets on the essentially C-shaped neck also help make bends a breeze. This is a great guitar for expressive players who use movement beyond fretwork to add texture to their tunes.
That expressive potential is compounded by the marriage of the paulownia and Power’Tron pickups, which adds up to one of the more fascinating combinations of wood and electronics I’ve heard in a while. With the Serpentine 2 running straight into a Marshall 100-watt Super Lead, both the bridge and dual-pickup positions sound super lively and percolate with deeply focused harmonic detail.
With just a little bit of reverb from an outboard Fender Reverb unit, the little Mario conveys a spaciousness that belies its dimensions and heft (if you could call it that) and makes a simple, 1st position C arpeggio sound more like a cathedral choir.
Through a smaller Fender piggyback the guitar sounds no less spacious. But exploring the jazzy potential of the Power’Tron in the neck position becomes doubly inviting. Here again, the lively resonance of the paulownia body seems to work with the Power’Tron’s hot, but balanced output and the warm, round glow of 6L6s to create an uncommonly wide palette of neck pickup tones.
Even with the Serpentine 2’s tone knob rolled back significantly, the guitar still communicates a subtle high- and high-mid detail you won’t hear from most humbuckers. At the same time, it delivers more girth than you’ll get from a typical single-coil used in that context. Crank the tone back up on neck or dual-pickup settings and the Serpentine 2 becomes a Texas sidewinder capable of bite and a sweetly detailed, dirty overdrive that works with everything from Marshalls to tweeds.
The amazingly chameleonic Serpentine 2 is capable of serving the Nashville twang dealer, uptown jazz cat, rowdy roadhouse rumbler, or folk-rock jangler. The union of paulownia and Power’Trons is a potent one we expect to see more of in the wake of this axe. And that such versatility comes from a body and scale configuration that’s typically been regarded as an also-ran among traditional Fender-style templates makes this beautifully built Mario a true wolf in sheep’s clothing. The $2,699 price may put a hitch in the get-along of anyone who’s challenged to look past the Telecaster or Stratocaster. For those who have the courage—and the coin—to venture beyond, however, the sonic rewards are substantial.
you’re eager to move past standard Fender-style templates, are unafraid of a short scale, and have wondered about the potential of Filter’Tron-style pickups in a solidbody.
short-scale necks feel like toys to you, or you prefer more traditional designs.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
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.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
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.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
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.