About strataminor

Born in Brisbane I am a bedroom guitar player, although having played in front of churches (tough crowd!!) for quite a few years so some understanding of band dynamics, timing, gear (private use compared to public use) and melodic structure, instrumental breaks (okay leather pants solos....) and of course amps! Besides from my love of guitar and the G.A.S that goes with it (hey email me I am always offloading gear!! lol) I love languages, and can converse in basic Japanese, and study biblical Greek. I live in Logan with my young family (so not heaps of time at the moment) and will be contributing gear reviews based on a lot of gear I have or still currently have.

Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker

Happy Belated New Year all you bedroom rockers, may Peace be with you, if you of course live in peace where possible! Okay, I am very guilty as I promised Mr J to do more reviews, but unfortunately I have been busy painting my house and doing many other put off jobs that only seem to get done at the end of the year!

Anyway… on with the review of the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker.

Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker

Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker

The Big Muff Pi needs no real introduction, I have reviewed the standard Little Big Muff already, which to summarize I felt was a great unit for the Big Muff tonal range. It worked very well with the Little Vox AC4 amp I had at that time and did my Gilmour thing really well.

Now a slight variation in this model is the tone wicker. This pedal still has the standard Big Muff Volume, Tone and Sustain knobs but adds a ‘Wicker‘ and ‘Tone‘ toggle to it.

So… What is a Tone Wicker? you ask…

Well the premise of this pedal is that it allows greater versatility, with the “Wicker” mode giving enhanced presence and sustain to an already cool pedal.

Actually being able to add extra presence can be a good thing for a Big Muff that can get dark and a bit ‘heavy‘, so some extra presence can certainly help you cut through a bit better.

You also have a tone switch that allows the tone stage to be bypassed for an even more scooped middle tone and some reviews claim a chunkier distortion. I would definitely say that when the Tone switch is off there is a big volume jump, a real boost and a more edgy ballsy fuzz sound.

It gets a little less smooth, a bit more raspy but yet still usable and fun. So really you have 3 or so tonal options, and for a fairly cheap pedal (around $100 which is not bad for USA made) it will satisfy most fuzz heads.


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Digitech Screamin Blues – Another Polarizing Cheapy from Digitech

Oh I love Digitech stuff, partly because some of it is (I have to say), actually quite good! It also has the effect of polarizing some people who insist on boutique gear and can’t believe that a $50 pedal will produce an effect that’s really, really good or at worst good enough.

Digitech Screamin Blues pedal

Digitech Screamin Blues pedal

This is my second review of a Digitech overdrive, so if your in the market for a new overdrive pedal, make sure you also read my review of the Digitech Bad Monkey that I wrote a while back.

Okay, so the pedal itself is a nicely colored cool blue, with minimal graphics and the same controls as the Bad Monkey…

  • Level
  • Low
  • High
  • and the essential Gain.

The 9volt power input is at the top of the pedal, which I think should be standard with all pedals…, along with the standard left to right input output configuration.

Similarly it has an extra output (Output 2) so you can go straight into a mixing desk and use this pedal sans amp (no amp) ala Tech 21 Character pedals.

So it comes with all the features you could need and to top it off it’s built like a tank, seriously tuff steel case that you just won’t break!

DigiTech Screamin Blues Distortion Guitar Effect Pedal

$39.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-24-2017 13:11:41 PDT
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Laney Lionheart L20H Tube Head – Okay I am in love!!

Now I admit the title is a little dramatic, but other reviewers were correct to describe this amp as “wonderfully rich and complex in tones” and with a fair few mentioning it was one of the best amps they had ever played… and You know what?

Laney Lionheart L20H Tube Head Front

Laney Lionheart L20H Tube Head Front

I am going to go out on a limb and agree…!

This amp, which is made in the UK by Laney is amazing! Why?

Well after buying and selling TOO MANY AMPS you start to get a little jaded and after a while they just start sounding so very, very similar, which is probably why they come and go so often…

But then you get one that not only looks amazing, like the Laney Lionheart, with it’s blue tolex and wheat colored grille, but when you strum out a chord, it is just absolute tonal bliss!

Laney (Rainy) Guitar Combo Amplifier LIONHEART-L20T-112

$2,758.26
End Date: Friday Oct-6-2017 7:52:25 PDT
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Digitech RP155 – Multi Effects Doesn’t Have to be a Swear Word!

It had to happen, a multi-effects unit has finally come my way! The Digitech RP155 is a smallish unit, which comes in a sheet metal steel enclosure packed with over 100 effects, including amp and cab simulators.

Digitech RP155 modeling guitar processor

Digitech RP155 modeling guitar processor

Ideally, this effects unit is great for those on a budget and have very minimal floor space and need a good variety of effects such as delay, reverb, chorus, phaser/flange, distortion, OD, and the list goes on.

So before I get too far into my review of the Digitech RP155 I would like the opportunity to state that I am a little biased when it comes to effects, and my preference definitely leans towards individual pedals, and from what I gather a lot of guitarists feel the same…

So initially I approached this unit with that type of discriminating attitude before trying it out!

Okay, since I am used to simple stomp boxes, I found the controls a little hard to use.

So after I watched some YouTube clips to figure out how to dial this thing in, I had to put in at least 30 mins before getting about good 12 sounds set up, but after that it was pretty easy.

So when I was relatively happy with my set up I thought I’d try an A/B tests against a Big Muff and a couple of other pedals, and I must say that this unit did better than I originally thought it could do.

Actually, if it were a blind test (I am running into a Valvetone handwired amp so a very good quality tube tone is helping!!) and this was set up with the right settings dialed in, you could probably be fooled on quite a few of the settings when comparing this unit to their stomp box equivalent.

Brand New Eventide H9 Multi-Effects Guitar Pedal

$499.00
End Date: Monday Oct-16-2017 16:34:45 PDT
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Laney – LIONHEART L50H Valve Head – Another underated Gem from Laney!

Okay time for some more guitar amps! Groovy… and this one today is very nice indeed!!!

Unfortunately we don’t have our own video demo, so I thought I would grab the official Laney video. I must confess though, I don’t think the Laney video does the amp any favors… So read on to find out what I really think of the amp!!!

Laney L5T Lionheart / Earlier Made in England version/ Spring Reverb/ Greenback

$599.00
End Date: Friday Oct-20-2017 11:34:21 PDT
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Fernandes the Revival Black 70s Strat Copy – Another Japanese Beauty

Over the years I have seen the Fernandes brand pop up from time to time and I have often thought that these Japanese made “Law Suit” guitars looked pretty cool.

So recently, I managed to get my hands on a late 80s (possibly early 90s) black on black 70s Fender Stratocaster copy, which we’ll obviously be looking at. So let’s dive in, I’ve got a heap of cool pics for you to checkout, but first off, lets hear how she sounds….

In this first video Darren is playing through an all original USA made 1980s Silverface Fender Twin Reverb. The tube Screamer mentioned in this video, as with the rest of the following videos is the made in Japan TS9DX Turbo Tubescreamer version, the Rat pedal is the USA made version with the LM308 OP chip.


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Valvetone Impact Mark 3 Valve Amp – Handmade Aussie Gem!

Okay we all love amps, pedals and tube powered stuff, that’s why we’re here right? So today I am very happy to rave about my little Valvetone Impact Mark 3, which is a point to point handwired, handmade amp by Darryl Hoy, who is based in NSW Australia (and I got my signed too!@!).

Valvetone Impact Mark 3 Valve Amp Front

Valvetone Impact Mark 3 Valve Amp Front

Darryl is certainly no fly by nighter, he has been making guitar amps since the 70’s (e.g.Scion amps), Every Valvetone amp he builds is handmade one at a time, all point to point wiring, no PCB boards and he only uses nice vintage mustard caps and proper vintage spec components.

Now as you can see by the pic, it comes in a simple steel head chassis, so if you want to pimp it up a little, you will have to spend a bit of money on a cab or make one yourself if you are handy with tools and ply…

The Valvetone Impact Mark Three has three basic controls…

  • Volume
  • Tone
  • Master

…with toggle switches for Gain and Bright.

On the back of the amp you have the standard speaker out (8ohms is optimal but it can also go to 4 or 16ohms) and a line out. Pretty standard in this regards.

de Lisle King Baby 5W 12AX7 EL84 Hand-Wired USA Tube Valve Amp Amplifier

$549.00
End Date: Monday Oct-2-2017 14:09:54 PDT
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Wren and Cuff Box of War – A Big Muff Civil War Clone for Boutique Muff tones

Okay, let’s enter the boutique zone for a while (don’t worry, I definitely can’t afford to live there!!) with the Wren and CuffBox of War‘ which is a Big Muff ‘Civil War‘ clone.

Unfortunately we don’t have our own Guitar Gas video demo for the Box of War, so I grabbed this very good demo from Pro Guitar Shop. Take the couple of minutes to check it out, it’s worth it…

Wren and Cuff Elephant Skin Troy Sanders of Mastodon Signature Fuzz

$370.25
End Date: Wednesday Oct-18-2017 17:53:52 PDT
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Big White Monkey Howler Distortion Pedal – A Keely RAT clone!!

Okay, so recently we had a look at an original mid 90s ProCo RAT2 Distortion pedal, so let’s see how the Big White Monkey Howler Distortion Pedal stands up!

First up, let’s have a listen to how she sounds. Today we have Darren playing a Fernandes Super Grade Les Paul, fitted with Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers. He’s playing through the Big White Monkey VT5 hand wired amp.

Boutique Fuzz Distortion Pedal No10 Handwired USA Made factory face clone

$80.00
End Date: Sunday Oct-1-2017 11:01:59 PDT
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Digitech Bad Monkey – A Pedal that Polarizes!

The Bad Monkey Overdrive pedal by Digitech, is probably one of the most famed and well-known cheapo pedals out there, but funnily enough it polarizes a Lot of guitarists, and in some cases quite vehemently too.

Digitech Bad Monkey Overdrive Pedal

Digitech Bad Monkey Overdrive Pedal

The problem with the Digitech Bad Monkey is that, for about $45 or so, it actually sounds very, very good! You see, because some guitarists invest $200+ on a boutique pedal, they often feel obliged to defend their investment (who can blame them?) and the Tone Wars continue!

Digitech used to be known as DOD and they do have some pretty cool gear, but unfortunately they are not known for being a high-end company.

Perhaps having ‘Digi‘ in their company name doesn’t help, making them sound all digital and cheap or something, maybe if they changed their name to, ‘AnalTech‘ it might make them sound all Analog and high-end and pure…;-)

Okay, enough waffle… The Digitech Bad Monkey is a pretty straight forward pedal, finished in green, with controls being…

  • Level
  • Low
  • High
  • Gain.

So straight up this is a TS9 Tube Screamer type pedal with the usual mid hump that you get with these pedals. But the thing is with this pedal, it gives you some extra tone sculpting features so you can raise the Lows a bit, or give the Highs a bit more sparkle which can help iron out that hump that some guitarists don’t like.

Modify your Digitech Bad Monkey Tube Overdrive Mod Only (No Pedal) Alchemy Audio

$39.95
End Date: Saturday Oct-7-2017 5:15:52 PDT
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Big White Monkey Kong 5 watt Valve Head – A little Tweed number!

I have done a few reviews for Big White Monkey’s gear, mainly their effects pedals, so lets take a look into their 5 watt valve head, the Big White Monkey Kong.

Before I share my thoughts, lets first have a look at our Guitar Gas video review. Darren is playing a <a< span=””> title=”Check out all of the Made in Japan posts…” href=”http://guitargas.com/2/made-in-japan/”>made in Japan Fernandes ‘The Revival‘ 62RI Stratocaster Copy fitted out with Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s pickups. The Kong is plugged into a Fargen 1×12 speaker cab fitted with a 30watt 70th anniversary special edition G12H Vintage Series Celestion speaker.

Magnatone Twiligter Guitar Tube Amp 1-12 Combo - Free Shipping - Free Cover !

$2,599.00
End Date: Saturday Sep-23-2017 14:40:25 PDT
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CMATMODS Super Signa Drive – One Versatile OD!!

Well, I like to dabble now and again with some boutique stuff from the USA, and Cmatmods Effects definitely qualify for the Boutique classification.

The Super Signa Drives are all hand-made one at a time in the USA by Chad Matthews, who gets rave reviews not only for his products but his awesome service and down to earth approachability.

Chad started producing pedals about 10 years ago, and his business has slowly grown over that period, mostly due to word of mouth because of his seriously good pedals, which by the way are surprisingly affordable (as compared to Wampler!) for a hand-made effect pedal.

Unfortunately, we don’t have our own video for this review but for you visually stimulated people, here is a fellow Aussie, Shane from InTheBlues reviewing the pedal…

Cmatmods Super Signa Drive Pedal

$100.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Sep-26-2017 20:10:22 PDT
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