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Orange Amplification has announced a pioneering new technology to match, test and grade valves--the Orange DIVO VT1000 Valve Tester. This ground breaking new product will help every guitarist, rental company, valve amp manufacturer, guitar tech and guitar/hi-fi store across the planet.

The compact and extremely easy to use VT1000 is a fully automatic valve tester, which performs a wide range of tests quickly and accurately. The benefits of using the VT1000 are clear and wide reaching; users can quickly and simply match and test valves, plus receive a reliable health check as to whether their valves are good, bad or worn.

Orange Amps developed the world’s first fully automatic, portable, digital valve tester, the VT1000, to make it easy to test amp valves. Until now testing valves with little or no knowledge of valve theory was difficult, expensive and often unreliable. This new product will test all popular power and pre-amp valves. Its ease of use will appeal to all valve users whether amateur, professional or in the music retail trade.

The unit has one octal and two nine-pin valve sockets for different valve types; simply insert the valve to be tested into the correct socket, select the valve type from the list on the unit and press 'Start' to test. The results are displayed clearly and concisely using LEDs and will test for a wide range of fault conditions, which could easily cause damage to other components. The simplicity of operation belies what is going on 'inside the box,' where a CPU controlled testing system is in operation, allowing full control over all inter-electrode switching and measurement operations.

The VT1000 really opens the door to everyone to have an extremely simple, portable, reliable, inexpensive and safe way to test valves.

Wilko Johnson, former guitarist with 1970s British rock band Dr Feelgood, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas.

His manager wrote on the musician's Facebook page that the 65-year-old had chosen not to receive any chemotherapy, but was "in good spirits".

Despite the diagnosis, Johnson plans to finish a new CD and carry out a short tour of France.

There are also plans for a series of farewell gigs in the UK.

Manager Robert Hoy said: "He is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity."

"Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career," he added.

"From those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience."

Although he was not a household name, Johnson was considered one of the most influential guitarists for his signature choppy guitar playing style - thought to have been one of the major influences for British punk rock.

After leaving Dr Feelgood in 1977, Johnson joined Ian Dury's Blockheads and formed his own group, The Wilko Johnson Band.

Johnson appeared in the 2009 documentary film Oil City Confidential where he recalled his memories with Dr Feelgood.

It sparked a revival of interest in the guitarist and a box set of all four Dr Feelgood albums Johnson wrote and played on, was released last year, as well as an autobiography.

Johnson has also had a recurring role in US fantasy series Game of Thrones, playing a mute executioner.

Yesterday, David Bowie stunned the music world by announcing his first new album in a decade, The Next Day.

If that wasn't enough, Bowie also released an official video for the album's first single, "Where Are We Now?," a plaintive, piano-based number on which the 66-year-old singer sounds world-weary. While a more mellow approach might be fitting for Bowie's 24th studio album, producer Tony Visconti says the lead single is in no way indicative of the rest of the album.

"It's a very reflective track for David," the producer told the BBC of the track. "Maybe the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. It's quite a rock album, the rest of the songs, so I thought to myself: 'Why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful ballad? Why is he doing this? He could come out with a bang.' I think the next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different."

Visconti revealed that the album has been in the works for a couple of years now and should please Bowie fans of all stripes.

"I've been listening to this on headphones, walking through the streets of New York, for the past two years," Visconti said. "I have not tired of a single song. I think the material on this album is extremely strong and beautiful. If people are looking for classic Bowie, they'll find that on this album. If they're looking for innovative Bowie, some new directions, they'll find that on this album too."

While the world his been waiting for the glam-rock legend to break his silence for some time, the announcement, in typical Bowie fashion, has in many ways prompted more questions than answers. Why the long wait? Will he tour? Is he healthy?

Questions about Bowie's health have dominated conversations about the reclusive rocker ever since Bowie underwent emergency heart surgery for a blocked artery. While even his biographer was certain of Bowie's quiet retirement, Visconti assured readers that what we'll hear on record is a very healthy David Bowie.

"He's a very healthy man," Visconti said. "I assure you. I've been saying this for the past few years. I couldn't explain how I know that, but I worked with a very healthy David Bowie in the studio and a very happy David Bowie in the studio."

The Next Day is out March 12.

After nearly a decade of relative silence, David Bowie has announced his first new album since 2003's Reality. Titled The Next Day, the album is slated for a March 12 release date.

"Where Are We Now?," the album's first single, is available now on iTunes. A haunting music video for the track, directed by Tony Oursler, can be seen at this location.

A press release posted on the singer's re-designed website states that the single was produced by longtime Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, and was recorded in New York City. It seems likely that Visconti — who worked with Bowie during his famed Berlin period — produced the entire album.

"In recent years radio silence has been broken only by endless speculation, rumor and wishful thinking ....a new record...who would have ever thought it, who'd have ever dreamed it," reads the official press release. "After all David is the kind of artist who writes and performs what he wants when he wants...when he has something to say as opposed to something to sell. Today he definitely has something to say."

The surprise announcement came shortly after midnight GMT time. David Bowie turns 66 today, January 8.

We'll have more details as they surface.

The Next Day Track Listing:

Standard Version:

01. The Next Day 3:51

02. Dirty Boys 2:58

03. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) 3:56

04. Love Is Lost 3:57

05. Where Are We Now? 4:08

06. Valentine's Day 3:01

07. If You Can See Me 3:16

08. I'd Rather Be High 3:53

09. Boss Of Me 4:09

10. Dancing Out In Space 3:24

11. How Does The Grass Grow 4:33

12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire 3:30

13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die 4:41

14. Heat 4:25

Total (Approximately) 53:14

Deluxe Version

01. The Next Day 3:51

02. Dirty Boys 2:58

03. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) 3:56

04. Love Is Lost 3:57

05. Where Are We Now? 4:08

06. Valentine's Day 3:01

07. If You Can See Me 3:16

08. I'd Rather Be High 3:53

09. Boss Of Me 4:09

10. Dancing Out In Space 3:24

11. How Does The Grass Grow 4:33

12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire 3:30

13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die 4:41

14. Heat 4:25

Bonus tracks:

15. So She 2:31

16. I'll Take You There 2:44

17. Plan 2:34

Total (Approximately): 61: 03

Legendary Slash has filmed a cameo for actor Charlie Sheen's new TV sitcom "Anger Management". Slash writes on Twitter:

"Charlie's working with a great bunch of people of there."

Sheen, a neighbor and personal friend of Slash's who called himself a "Rock Star From Mars" when he underwent a public meltdown amid his firing from the CBS show "Two And A Half Men", spoke at Slash's Hollywood Walk Of Fame induction ceremony in July. He said, "It's quite fitting that Slash is getting a star on the very street Axl Rose will one day be sleeping on."

Slash

He added, "This star is going to be stepped on more than the coke we did in the '80s."

In an interview with Australia's long-running rock station Triple M during his tour with the Soundwave rock festival in March 2011, Slash spoke about the troubles Sheen was facing at the time, Blabbermouth notes.

"I love Charlie," Slash smiled. "Charlie is probably the most rock 'n' roll character in entertainment today. All things considered, he's been having a little bit of a hard time recently with all the bad press and everything. But he's been managing to get away with what he's been doing on that show and get a raise over the last more than ten years. I think that's pretty cool," he laughed.

Monday, 17 December 2012 17:08

TELECASTER THINLINE SUPER DELUXE

Everybody knows a Fender Guitar when they see it.  The look is classic and its no wonder the brand has been around for over sixty years.  Now Fender is back and has introduced the Telecaster Thinline Super Deluxe. But if you want one you better not wait because the Telecaster Thinline Super Deluxe has been released as a limited-edition model.

 

The Telecaster Thinline Super Deluxe model comes in Olympic White and classic Black and include a semi-hollow basswood body that has double bindin and matching headstock.  The fingerboard has a radius of 7.25 inches and comes with pearloid block inlays. The Thinline Super Deluxe comes with 2 Fideli’Tron humbucking pickups.

 

For a full list of all of the features of this sweet looking guitar from Fender check out all the specs on the fender.com website.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 10:38

Top 50 Albums of 2012

From an impending apocalypse to the promise of a new Van Halen album with David Lee Roth, the bar was set high for 2012.

 

Everyone from the Mayans to Nostradamus allegedly prophesied the end of the world in 2012, but who could have predicted Green Day's epic trilogy of new albums, or Joe Walsh's first solo effort in two decades, or Rush churning out their heaviest record this side of 2112?

 

For a year that was supposed to mark the end of an era, it's quite fitting that 2012 ended up being very much a nexus of past and future.

 

Aerosmith and Kiss kept the classic rock flame alive, releasing their 15th and 20th studio albums respectively, and ZZ Top issued their finest showing of fuzzed-out Texas blues in years. Meanwhile, excellent debuts from Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes — not to mention Jack White's debut solo record hitting No. 1 — proved the blues is still a vital force in the hands of true believers.

 

On the heavier end of the spectrum, Periphery once again upped the ante as the leaders of the new prog-metal movement, and Meshuggah reminded everyone that the groove can still be mightier than the metronome. Lamb of God and Municipal Waste forged ahead as the heads of thrash metal's new class, while legends like Overkill and Testament continued uncanny, late-career resurgences with solid efforts.

 

But if there's one thing to take away from the 50 albums below, it's this: The guitar is very much alive and well in 2012. It survived the rise of the keyboard in the '80s and the overwhelming bass-barrage of electronic dance music of the early 21st century and shows no signs of waning in relevancy. Whether you're still plugging into a vintage Vox AC30 with your trusty Strat or just got your hands on an Axe FX and a new Ibanez eight-string, the guitar isn't going away any time soon.

 

And with that in mind, the Quote of the Year award goes to one Eddie Van Halen, who summed all that up so succinctly when he said, "I'm just a guitarist in a kick-ass rock and roll band. What more could I ask for?" Amen, and see you in 2013.

 

NOTE: This list pertains to studio albums only.

If you're into autographed guitars and helping to fight hunger, you're in luck.

The 27th Annual Hungerthon by WhyHunger is now under way, and up for auction this year are guitars signed by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, Maroon 5, David Byrne and Mumford & Sons, to name just a few.

You can place your bids at this location, with all the winning proceeds going to raise funds and awareness for hunger and poverty relief.

WhyHunger, which was founded by songwriter Harry Chapin and New York City radio personality Bill Ayres in 1975, works to support more than 8,000 grassroots and community organizations aimed at fighting hunger.

Friday, 30 November 2012 14:32

Gibson's Min-Etune – the basics

You may have noticed the optional upgrade of a Tronical Min-Etune tuning system listed when we posted Gibson's 2013 SG and Les Paul line-up.

But what does it actually do?

We take a quick look... What is it?

As you can see from the video (Scroll down to watch), the Min-Etune is essentially an auto-tune system, similar to the one previously found on Gibson's high-end Les Pauls and robot guitars, such as the Dusk Tiger.

You pick the tuning, strum the strings and the tuning pegs turn automatically. Like the systems found in the aforementioned models, it's built by German firm Tronical Components.

How's it different to previous Gibson auto-tuners?

The key difference is that the Min-Etune is hidden in a black box on the back of the headstock and can be installed as an optional extra on a range of more affordable Gibson models, primarily the forthcoming '50s, '60s and '70s Tribute Les Pauls and SGs. In addition, instead of being operated via the guitar control knobs (requiring more body work/wiring), the Min-Etune has it's own controls built into the headstock unit.

What can it do?

We've yet to get hands-on with one, but Gibson has already posted the (27 page!) Min-Etune manual online. Essentially the unit can store three 'banks' of six tunings – six because the presets in the bank you select are indicated by the same LED-lit letters that are used to display the strings.

The bank that you are using is navigated to via a small D-pad and is indicated by the colour of the LEDs. The red bank is the go-to for most standard tunings, including 'Standard', 'DADGAD', 'Drop-D', 'Low D', 'Double Drop D' and 'Eb'; the green bank is all about open tunings and includes options for open E, A, D and G, as well as 'Dobro' and 'All 4th'; finally, the blue bank has six slot free for user-defined presets. So that's a total of 18 tunings available, via what we hope will be an easy interface.

Will it be worth the money? It's too early to say without trying it out for ourselves. 18 tunings at the touch of a button is an exciting prospect, but the fact that it adds a not inconsiderable $400 (approx. £249) to the guitar's MSRP, requires a (supplied) rechargeable battery pack and, judging from early videos, makes a slightly annoying whirring sound when tuning, could deter some. Really though, Min-Etune will live or die by the ease-of-use of its interface.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 11:26

Joe Satriani announces UK tour and new album

Joe Satriani has announced a UK tour for 2013, alongside a new album and a career retrospective box set.

His first full tour of the UK since 2010's Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards tour, Satriani will have UK blues guitarist Matt Schofield in support.

Tickets go on sale this Friday 2 November, and are available from the credit card bookings line on 0844 888 991, or via Ticketline.

Satriani will be playing the following dates:

Saturday 8 June Manchester O2 Apollo
Sunday 9 June Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Monday 10 June Newcastle City Hall
Tuesday 11 June Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Wednesday 12 June Bristol Colston Hall
Thursday 13 June Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Saturday 15 June Sheffield City Hall
Sunday 16 June Portsmouth Guildhall
Monday 17 June O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Tuesday 18 June London Indigo2

For more information, check out Joe Satriani's official website, or catch him onTwitter or Facebook.

 

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