New direct-buy builder combines confrontational looks with expansive sounds
When the guitar bug gets you, the symptoms can take many shapes. Some obsess over a single form and, say, become obnoxiously well versed in the micro-nuances that differentiate one ’59 Les Paul from another. Others revel in the myriad forms the guitar can take, celebrating equally the merits of pre-war Martins and post-CBS Mustangs. Some victims succumb in even stranger ways—like being overtaken by the drive to seek the most obscure and strange interpretations of the 6-string. The founders of PureSalem guitars are clearly among this latter sect, and the aptly named Electric End may be the ultimate expression of their feverish fixations.
Clearly, the Electric End is not a guitar for purists. But this P-90-equipped semi-hollow has copious personality beyond its extroverted exterior. It’s delightfully playable, and capable of delivering tones ranging from jangly to rambunctious.
PureSalem is barely a year old as a company. But, as a quick scan of its direct-order guitar line (and the lo-fi, psychedelic-horror art on its website) reveals, it’s in the business of serving outcasts, misfits, experimentalists, and any other player bored with the rigid acceptance of a few classic templates as the “right” kind of electric guitar.
Obviously, there’s no logical reason for the Korean-made Electric End to assume the shape it does. But it very successfully evokes the exuberant, shoot-for-the-moon design sensibilities that reigned in the ’60s. The most obvious design touchstone seems to be Rickenbacker, which you can see in the crescent-shaped cutaway profile and the slash-like soundholes. But the sheer exaggeration and extrapolation of the End’s body profile is more radical than anything that ever came out of Santa Ana. The hyper-extended bouts are equally evocative of the Tokai Hummingbird’s perversion of the Mosrite shape.
The headstock looks a little like one of the outsized slabs of lumber you’d see on a ’60s Baldwin or Burns 12-string, even though it’s home to just six Wilkinson tuning machines. But that size is essential to balancing out the body’s considerable girth. The rosewood fretboard is decked out with star inlays, which lend a very congruent touch of glam rock to the design whole. Our test guitar came in a very Burns-like green burst poly finish that subdues some of the radical design touches while complementing the mahogany grain of the top.
While the End’s body looks big enough to dwarf a smaller player, it’s surprisingly comfortable and balanced. The extra length in the bass and treble bouts is well out of the way when you’re going for the upper frets, and for all the apparent mass of the headstock and middle section of the instrument, there’s no neck dive at all. A contoured edge on the back of the guitar also means it rests comfortably against the ribs.
Our test guitar is well built on the whole, but there are a few key quality-control issues. The bolt-on neck is flawlessly seated and the binding is seamless, but the synthetic bone nut is misaligned and actually hangs over the edge of the headstock by a small fraction of an inch. It’s hard to say to what degree this contributes to some of the guitar’s occasional tuning instability, but we expect better from an $825 instrument.
Wide Open Expanses
While the Electric End is bound—perhaps even designed—to polarize opinion when it comes to aesthetics, there’s no arguing that the guitar sounds great. It’s always hard to gauge the effect of a particular body style on output, but there’s an unmistakable airiness and resonance to the Electric End’s tones that you have to attribute in part to the big body. In bridge and middle pickup settings, you hear the kind of bright, buoyant, and reactive output you get from a Rickenbacker or an Epiphone Casino. It even sounds great unplugged. A couple of seasoned acoustic pickers who had a turn with the guitar both remarked at how comfortable and responsive it felt and sounded for fingerstyle playing. That might seem like an incidental observation, but a guitar that adapts this readily to an acoustic player suggests a much more expansive blank slate, and a whole lot more tone potential.
The other major part of the tone equation here is the Kent Armstrong P-90s. Sonically speaking, they’re a perfect fit for the mahogany semi-hollow construction, and they help make this instrument a joy to play with nothing but a cable between the guitar and amp. Bridge- and dual-pickup settings are where the Electric End shines. The Kent Armstrongs may not be the most hyper-detailed P-90s, but they work well with the End’s resonant body—communicating a wealth of overtones and a touch of compression that lends a little extra sustain and bell-like chime to arpeggios and melodic leads. The neck pickup sounds nice, too, but it works slightly less well with the extra body resonance. It’s not muddy, by any means, but it doesn’t deliver the amount of detail you hear from the bridge and middle positions. Still, add a touch of overdrive and a little extra top end, and the neck pickup becomes a vehicle for monster blues-rock leads.
Whether you’re playing jangly rhythm or ripping blues leads, just about every style benefits from the Electric End’s slinky playability. The medium-low action is remarkably even over the length of the fretboard, and the medium jumbo frets make deep bends feel effortless.
PureSalem’s affection for oddball guitars and outsider artistic impulses is a welcome dose of energy in a guitar world that often seems a little clone obsessed. And in the case of the Electric End, those impulses yield an instrument with real sonic character. The open-ended agreeability of the Armstrong P-90s makes it a great guitar for experimental texturalists, rhythm janglers, and blues wailers. Arguably, you can get many of the same qualities out of other affordable P-90 semi-hollows, but few will have pickups this nice and nearly none will have the confrontational visual impact of the Electric End. And if musicality and an arresting stage presence are of equal importance to your expression, the Electric End may be the perfect means for communicating your message.
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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