june 2012

Well-known for providing a unique learning tool with LED-lit fretboards, Fretlight''s latest models bundle even more software and tools for beginners while aiming to simultaneously provide a gig-worthy instrument.

Ace Frehley had a guitar that lit up on command, Rickenbacker had its Light Show 331, but the pairing of guitar and lights has rarely been a practical affair. The exception is the Optek Fretlight, which has been around in several incarnations since the mid 1980s. The Fretlight was never aimed for the guitarist looking to impress Lady Gaga at an audition (so don’t call your wardrobe coordinator just yet). Rather, the primary focus of the Fretlight has been the less glamorous world of music education.

The concept behind the Fretlight is simple—illuminate the fretboard to direct the player where and how to play. It seems simple, but part of the Fretlight’s success as a learning tool is attributable to the quality of its software, and Optek continuously focuses on software development. The Fretlight FG-421 reviewed includes some of the most up-to-date software (Guitar Pro 6 Fretlight Ready, Fretlight Player, and Fretlight Lesson Player). It’s also an easy-playing guitar that makes the interactive instruction component of the instrument a lot more satisfying.

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

4.5
5
4.5
4.5

The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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