What’s New In Guitar Stores: Takamine, Fender, and VOX

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Takamine LTD-2000

Sorry to be so long in coming up with this issue but sometimes life’s little day-to-day stuff doesn’t quite work out as you planned. I’m also thinking I should rename these posts as “What’s New To Me In Music Stores.” I finally got up to the music store today and played a wonderful used Takamine LTD-2000, Millennium Edition. What a beautiful guitar.

Check out the sound hole inlay.

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How about that neck?

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It has brass bridge pins, gold hardware and tuning keys of a swirly candy color. The most amazing thing is the onboard electronic package. Tuner, EQ, Reverb (!)… wow.

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An absolutely amazing player. If anyone ever finds one of these in a store, play it, buy it, mortgage your house, whatever. What a beauty this guitar is.

Okay… enough drooling!

Fender Pedals

5The Fender pedals finally made it to the Oregon coast. I’ve been waiting for months and they are finally here. (To the defense of the Oregon coast, they aren’t at Guitar Center online either!) Sorry to say I was a little disappointed. None of the pedals I tested were remarkable. They are serviceable sounds for the price of $69.99 and $79.00 (street) and the price brightens their future a little. Of the 3 pedals I tested, the Delay pedal seems the best in my opinion. There is also a Chorus pedal which Orcoast Music, the store in Coos Bay, didn’t have.

Both the Drive and Distort pedals have “tone, gain and level” controls… pretty self explanatory. The sound is good but my amp does the same sounds, foot switchable, and they came with the amp.

The Delay pedal has “repeat, delay and mix” controls which gave a nice range of delay from almost reverb to almost infinite repeats. The trouble is repeating a setting. A bit of fussiness is needed to find the setting you need once you change it. This is not the pedal you want if you use delay for lots of songs and each is a little different.

Comparing the pedals to some Boss pedals at the store, the Boss pedals were much better, even though they are more expensive. The sounds were the ones I would pay money for. The Fender pedals were right out of the ’80s and I already have them in my amp! They are competent pedals that deliver decent sounds for a decent price, though. They get about an 7.5 out of 10 for that reason.

Vox Valvetronic VT20+

6This is a pretty sweet amp for $169.99. Four programmable channels, 99 presets, 8 user memories, 33 amp models, 33 song models (the sounds used on some classic songs like “Brown Sugar”, “Foxy Lady”, “Sultans of Swing”, “Smoke on the Water”, “Satch Boogie”, “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Hot For Teacher”… to name a few) and 33 affected amps. A tuner, headphone jack and 25 customizable effects are also included.

The neatest thing here is the new Power Level Control, something we’ve seen in a switchable configuration before. This one is like a volume control, though… just turn it up and down to practice in your bedroom or mike up for recording. You still have the volume, gain and master controls to overdrive the 12AX7 in the power amp, so all your sounds are available from about 1/4 watt up to the “+” of 33 watts. Pretty sweet. I would’ve liked a 10″ speaker in there but the 8 seems to handle the load without a problem. The Amp is also available in 40+, 80+ and 120+ models as well. An 8.5 out of 10 because you can turn off all the effects and actually hear the tube in this one!

Vox AC15VR

7Orcoast Music had a very nice vintage Vox AC15CC1 which I used for the pedal tests and then played around with afterwards. This was a really nice old amp that sounded just wonderful – reverb, tremolo and nothing else. Sweet sound with a Strat.

Unfortunately, the new “Valve Reactor” model of this amp is not nearly as impressive as the all tube AC15 Custom. The VR is a 2 channel amp, one normal and one overdrive, that tries to provide all the sweetness of the Original AC15 with a distortion pedal in front. Since the 12AX7 is not a power amp tube and they have placed it in the power amp, with all kinds of feedback circuitry to modify the tube’s behavior, they miss the mark with the sound. To my ears, it just sounds like a solid state amp, not the tube amp they claim. Is it a decent amp? Yeah, but overpriced for the sound output at $379.00. I would buy the VT20+ over the AC15VR in a heartbeat. Better yet, if you want a tube amp, buy a tube amp like an AC4 for $249.00 Yup, it’s expensive but tube tone is hard to get right without a tube or by using a tube in an unnatural way. Sorry, Vox but I didn’t like this amp. A 6 out of 10 is all it rates.

That’s it for now.


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Doug Knight

Our “Man on the Street” reporter, with his “What’s New in Music Stores?” series, resides in Coos Bay, OR. You can find him on Friday nights at The Small Events Center at OrCoast Music in Coos Bay.

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