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zZounds' Guitar Experts' Product Picks: July 2014

zZounds' Guitar Experts are on call Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm, offering expert advice, service and product recommendations for customers seeking professional insight into their own rigs. Every month, our guitar experts choose their favorite zZounds gear, and every month we bring you those selections here. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for our latest product picks!

If you have any questions, or need some additional assistance, simply give our Guitar Experts a call at 1.800.460.8089!
Guitar Expert Product Picks: Bert (1.800.460.8089 x299)
Martin D12-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar, 12-String with Case
When it comes to 12-string acoustics, some players are only thinking about cramped hands from the last unwieldy neck they strummed. The Martin D12-28 is a 12-string with an easy-playing neck that features a comfortable taper and a string spacing any 6-string strummer will find agreeable right out of the case. While other models at a fraction of the price sacrifice a balanced tone, this Martin's Sitka spruce top sings in the high-end with a very articulate note bloom and has a mellow low-end that doesn't compress or choke out your bass notes with heavy strums. The woody Martin tone you've heard for decades is not lost here, but instead is taken a step further with a different voice for this classic body shape. You'll get accustomed to the 12-28's low action in no time, and a quick strum will have you rearranging your set to incorporate this guitar in to more of your tunes for a thicker, more vibrant presence on stage or in your mix. The Martin D12-28's choice cosmetics and construction come together for a perfect marriage of a vintage voice with a modern feel that seals the deal. Adding one of these to your collection would do well for your next strumming session.

Gibson ES-390 with P90s Electric Guitar (with Case)
The Gibson ES-390 is one of the less common "Electric-Spanish" models in the Gibson catalog of hollow-body guitars. I had the pleasure of playing one of these before their release, and it quickly impressed me, even unplugged. The vintage-style "AVR" bridge is screwed directly into the top to make a solid contact, and when paired with a hollow body, it helps this box resonate perfectly when plugged in. If you're not familiar with Gibson's naming conventions, get ready: the ES-390's comfortable, thin body takes the fully hollow body from the 330, and combines the body depth of a 335 with the narrow waist and lower bout of a 339. Still with me? Ok, rad. Even though I am not the jazz cat in the guitar gang here at zZounds, I can absolutely appreciate the slick tones from this little body, and now even more so with these re-voiced P-90's. The folks over at the Memphis factory spared no detail in recreating a '60s P-90 as they have in the past with some of their dead-on reissues of PAF and '57 Classics, and I feel this model's sound is in stark contrast to the ES-390 offered with mini-humbuckers. As someone that plays with more overdrive and distortion, my first reaction was to crank the volume to ten on these pups, which while not incorrect, isn't the best voice for my heavier attack and chording style. For all practical purposes, your sweet and mellow tones are not going to be coming from these pickups wide open, but the jazz rippers out there will appreciate that little bit of grit when swelling up on the volume. This blend of the best Gibson Memphis models makes me want to add a jazz lick or two to my book of tricks, and is sure to complement our fast-fingered-friends' playing.

Boss LS-2 Line Selector and Power Supply Pedal
Maybe you are like me when it comes to pedals. Maybe you're doubling up on fuzzes, delays, and pitch shifters, because you know they've got a different touch response, or a different grit. And, hey, maybe it sounds better with both on. I might be splitting hairs, but you pedal tweakers know what I'm talking about. I'm not saying that the Boss LS-2 will be cleaning up your pedal board, but it sure will make for a lot less tap dancing around your pedal board (or boards) during your set. When it comes to pedals, everything plugs in to everything as far as I am concerned. Fine tuning pedals and knowing which ones play nice with others is part of my rehearsal and pre-gig routine and this further adds to the fine tuning regiment for the tweakers that have to have it perfect -- without breaking the bank. While not the most detailed line switcher out there, the LS-2 has combinations of effects loops most players will find practical and user-friendly right away. This one's really simple, but an often overlooked piece that can clear up your tone and change the nuances of your performance.

Eventide Space Reverb Pedal
Every guitarist can use an awesome reverb effect, but it's not like you're really going to get a rackmountable studio reverb and lug that around to all your gigs. Luckily, with the Eventide Space Reverb, you don't have to. This gem puts control of space and time at your feet and lets you tweak until your heart is content. If you are as picky about your pedal presets as I am, and you demand real-time control from song to song, the Space Reverb is sure to win a space on your board. Sonically, digital delays can often come off as lifeless and sterile; this stompbox delivers those dead-on classic 'verb tones all the way to those super-dreamy ambient soundscapes. When you've spent time and money getting your signal chain how you want it, be sure to complement the tail end of it with one of the most customizable reverb pedals on the market. Best of all, zZounds bundles this bad boy with a free M-Audio expression pedal.

- Bert, zZounds Guitar Expert

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Guitar Expert Product Picks: Justin (1.800.460.8089 x384)
Martin DCPA1 Plus Performing Artist Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Martin DCPA1 Plus acoustic is a phenomenal guitar, with the looks to match. The solid East Indian rosewood back and sides of this guitar give it such a rich and nuanced tone. The depth that it gives chords make it a joy for me to play. Because I'm really into fingerpicking, I gave it a shot and it sounded great on this guitar. The lows are firm but not overpowering, and it gives the guitar a good amount of tonal balance. The DCAP1 Plus projects very well and is nice and lively. On top of all that, the aesthetics are insane and are sure to impress, like the Arrows and Squares fretboard inlays or the beautiful solid ovangkol wood body binding. This is a remarkably nice guitar and is an all-around gem.

Breedlove USA Oregon Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar (with Case)
The Breedlove USA Oregon Dreadnought has it all: a unique look thanks to its myrtlewood back and sides, and a killer tone to boot. I loved the bass resonance of this guitar, but its crispness and dynamic sensitivity is what really sold me on it. It's not hard to coax great tone out of it, and I especially loved how loud it was when fingerpicked. It has a surprising balance of tone, and even when playing denser chords it has amazing clarity that you sometimes lose with other acoustics. When strummed, you hear the guitar's brighter side -- a nice complement to the rich bass I mentioned earlier. Clarity, balance, and projection are what make this guitar great, so I give it high marks and would recommend it to friends.

Gibson ES-339 Electric Guitar (with Case)
The ES-339 is a great guitar in construction, tone, and feel. Reasonably priced for a Gibson, it doesn't feel like a budget guitar by any means. The tuners are very nice and hold tune well, the cream binding gives it a sharp look, and the mother-of-pearl fretboard and headstock inlays also lend it a more upscale appearance. As a close cousin to the ES-335, the guitar of course comes stock with the Gibson '57 Classic PAF humbucker pickups, which are some of my favorites for all-purpose playing or handling just about anything you throw at them. It has exceptional resonance and was pretty loud even without amplification. Because this guitar has a smaller body size, it is a perfect option for someone seeking the sustain and vibrancy of a semi-hollow without as many feedback problems as a larger bodied semi-hollow design.

Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Have you ever longed for a Gibson Hummingbird but just don't have the cash for it? The Epiphone Hummingbird Pro is a fantastic recreation of that classic Gibson guitar. The combination of great looks and tone at a very affordable price make this guitar a huge value for beginners or more advanced players alike. The guitar is often chosen by strummers who want a sizzling high end to their chords and a sharp attack. I noticed that open chords were indeed very bright and sounded pronounced when I strummed. The guitar has the characteristic hummingbird pickguard design and double parallelogram fret inlays that really do belie its price, which is hard to come by in a budget-friendly guitar. Though the guitar does have a nice high end presence, its bass is balanced and does not overpower or muddy the overall tone. Fingerpicking produced good results as well, once again proving that the dreadnought acoustic body shape is a versatile and smart addition to your arsenal.

- Justin, zZounds Guitar Expert

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Guitar Expert Product Picks: Martin (1.800.460.8089 x347)
Tech 21 SansAmp RBI Bass DI
I have found the Tech21 SansAmp is a standard in the industry. I see it time and time again on pedal boards and in racks. The SansAmp RBI is the rackmounted version. The first time I ever encountered this in the wild was while sharing rigs on a gig. I didn't get much time to play with it before our set started, but I was able to dial in big beefy tone pretty much instantly. To me, the control options are what really set the SansAmp RBI off. You can run wet/dry mixes, engage the preamp via footswitch, and overdrive it from grit. As a tone control freak, I think the Tech 21 SansAmp RBI is one of the best preamp/DIs out there. I recommend this for anyone looking for easy tone control at their fingertips.

Eden D210XST Bass Cabinet (500 Watts, 2x10")
Most gigs I play do not require my full 4x10" cab. In fact, my half stack rig doesn't fit in the space I usually have to play on during gigs. If I still need some power and tone in a smaller package, I go for the Eden D210XST. I have found it consistently delivers what I need for most of my gigs. It sounds great for electric, as well as upright basses. My favorite aspect of this cabinet is its full sound. The low end smoothly transitions into the mids, which smoothly go into high end. This is something I think is really important in speaker cabinets. I find too many speakers to be very separated in the way they reproduce highs, mids, and lows. Such a small package still has no problem getting a thunderous bass response from my low B string on my 5-string bass. This is a great cabinet for someone looking for powerful tone in a smaller package.

Mogami Gold Guitar/Instrument Cable
I know cables aren't flashy. It's more fun to talk about a AAAA quilted maple top than a TS cable. Fact of the matter is, cables are an extremely important part of my rig. They literally connect everything together. One of the worst situations is being at a gig with an expensive instrument, expensive amp, expensive pedals, but a cheap cable with a bad connection. It doesn't matter how slick your rig is, if you have poor quality cables, you won't have security in your sound. I have recently changed my rig to all Mogami cables and couldn't be happier with the result. The ends are heavy duty; I never worry about them failing. Also, they have a snug fit in every jack I put them in. There's no point in using poor quality cables, when they are responsible for carrying your sound out into the world. I recommend Mogami cables for everyone.

GHS Bass Boomers 5-String Electric Bass Strings
When someone calls me and asks for a recommendation for bass strings for their 5-string bass, the GHS Bass Boomers are the first name out of my mouth. These are the strings I use on my bass. I have tried so many different strings but the Bass Boomers are my favorite because they have the right mix of brightness. They break in fairly quickly, and stay in their sweet spot for a long time, which is very important to me. Some long-lasting strings are overly bright to compensate for tone loss over time. I have found the GHS Bass Boomers don't do that -- rather, they keep their natural sound intact for the duration of their life.

- Martin, Bass Specialist, zZounds Guitar Expert Team

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Guitar Expert Product Picks: Dan (1.800.460.8089 x310)
SpiderCapo Mini SpiderCapo for Ukulele, Banjo and Mandolin
Want to get that nice open-tuned sound on your folk instruments without having to retune? Look no further than the Mini SpiderCapo. This capo lets you choose which strings get fretted and which don't, so the possibilities are endless. This is a better alternative to conventional capos that cover the whole fret. The Mini SpiderCapo even comes with a diagram to show you possible chord structures you can make with the new tunings. For me this comes in handy when I have to play something on the spot and don't have the time to get another instrument out or change the tuning mid-set. I have always brought this with me wherever I go in my essential accessories, as you never know when you will need it. This accessory is a must have for any one that wants to get more out of their instrument, or even for the guitarist who has plenty in their arsenal but wants that extra piece to finish the puzzle.

Reverend Charger HB Electric Guitar, with Rosewood Fingerboard
If you're looking for something different from your typical Strat- or Les-Paul-style guitar, look no further than Reverend Guitars. Reverend is known for guitars with unique bodies and features, but I was taken by surprise with the quality that I got from the Charger. One thing that stuck out to me was the bass contour feature. This is great for when you need to tighten up the low end. It's great for re-voicing your pickups and giving your guitar a new sound. As someone always looking for gear that's versatile and abie to change things on the spot to product different tones and sounds, I saw tons of potential in the Charger. You also get korina wood on this, which produces great tonal qualities and strong resonance. The Charger definitely is a great add-on to my collection for its unique tones.

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Electric Mistress Flanger Pedal
The EHX Stereo Electric Mistress is one of the newer additions to my pedal collection. Looking to get something different from your typical distortion or delay pedal? The Electric Mistress will suit your needs just fine. The great thing about this pedal is that it offers two different sounds: flanger and chorus. Just like with other EHX pedals, this is made with a metal enclosure and is pretty straightforward in terms of features. Playing different styles of music, this helped me achieve all kind of noises I couldn't achieve with my standard setup. What stood out to me on this pedal was the Filter Matrix feature -- great for when I needed to establish a slightly different tone than a fellow guitar player.

Line 6 DT50-212 Guitar Combo Amplifier (50 Watts, 2x12")
When it comes to amp modeling, the one name I have come to know and love is Line 6. I've had the privilege of playing several of their products, always with great results and the DT50-212 is no different. With the help of Reinhold Bogner himself, this amp truly acheives real tube sound -- because it has two 12AX7s in its preamp and two EL34s in the power section. With just about every parameter made adjustable on the DT50-212, this amp lets me make a lot of on-the-fly changes while performing. One thing that stuck out to me was the voicing option, which helped me achieve any type of amp sound. Its integration with the L6 connection to plug into a POD system really makes this amp and a POD a gig-friendly pair. This has suited me well for when I can't bring numerous amps and need something that is versatile.

- Dan, zZounds Guitar Expert

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