#1
Last weekend I took part in a local guitar playing competition...and won! My prizes you ask? Let's take a look!



That's me, directly after winning with bounty in hand. The highlights were a Fender American Special Stratocaster and an Orange Micro Terror! Honestly, I was never really a "Strat guy", at least in the S/S/S configuration, before I won this guitar. That was then, though, and holy ballsatchel Batman, I've since been converted!

More pics of the Strat. Note that my photography skills suck, the camera I was using isn't anything all that special, and these pics were re-sized in Paint.






None of those pictures, especially the four I took, really show just how sexy this guitar is. My god, it's gorgeous. I want to take it out on a nice dinner, whisper sweet nothings in its ear (or pickups), buy a fancy hotel room, and proceed to make swe....ok, you get the picture by this point.

I'll get to the Micro Terror later, probably in the second post in the thread. First though, let's talk about the Strat!

I feel the need to preface my review and thoughts on this guitar with the following:

- I'm not your prototypical Strat/Fender player. My playing style and the genres I mainly play could be summed up in the blanket term of "rock music". More specifically heavy, alternative, progressive, fusion, blues-rock, and straightforward flavors of rock.

- I really don't have a whole lot of prior experience with other Fenders or S/S/S style Strats other than some demoing.

In a nutshell, my thoughts and opinions on this guitar are based on how I use it and the needs I have for it, rather than comparisons to similar models.

SPECS

Alder body as you'd probably expect with a Strat. The two-tone sunburst model I have is just gorgeous! White pickguard with standard Volume/Tone/Tone controls and a five-way pickup selector. Maple neck and fingerboard (Modern C neck profile), jumbo frets, and black dot fret markers. 22 frets, 25.5” scale, 9.5” radius, a satin urethane nick finish, and a 70's style jumbo headstock.

Chrome hardware, 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo, Synthetic Bone nut, and Standard Cast/Sealed tuning machines.

Three Texas Special single coils and the Greasebucket tone circuit make for a very nice electronics package in this guitar! The tone controls are connected to the bridge and neck pickups, the middle does not have a tone knob.

PLAYABILITY

The Satin Urethane neck on the American Special is spectacular! I really enjoy the smoothness of the finish compared to a glossy or painted neck found on many guitars. For a guitarist like me who plays a lot of leads, the smoothness of the neck is just fantastic for sliding around the neck with ease. I'm really enjoying the feel of the jumbo frets as well!

My guitar was set up perfectly when I received it. Perhaps the tech at the store where I won the competition might have fine tuned the factory setup, but this would just be a guess on my part. Either way, factory setup or setup by a the store tech, it plays flawlessly. The action is spot on to my playing style; low enough to facilitate fast runs and legato, but not too low to make bending a hassle. Simply put, I have no qualms about this guitar's playability. I suppose it's worth noting that the guitar was well intonated, too.

SOUND

I have to admit, I was concerned about how a guitar loaded with single coils, or at least a single in the bridge position, would suit me. I hadn't owned a guitar without humbuckers since my first guitar, a Squier Strat, and that was about a decade ago. However, those concerns went out the window minutes after I plugged the American Special in for the first time!

I really, really like the Texas Specials that come stock in this guitar. For my needs (primarily rock-oriented), they do everything I need them to do.

I've played this through both of my setups, both with my pedalboard in front. The board consists of (in order of the signal path):

Digitech Bad Monkey - (My mid gain drive. Think “Classic Rock&rdquo
MI Audio Blues Pro - (My heaviest drive. Think “more modern, Marshall-y tone&rdquo
Behringer Hellbabe Wah - (cheap, reliable, and only used for some leads.)
Behringer Vintage Delay - (cheap, reliable, and used only for a slight, barely audible bit of “fattening delay&rdquo
Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor

Amps are:

Main rig (gigs, rehearsals with my band)
Jet City JCA20H
Fender 4x12 cab (modded w/ speakers from a Marshall cab by previous owner)

Practice rig (Home use, perhaps small gigs in the future)
Orange Micro Terror (review later!)
1x12 Celestion, which is actually the speaker in my Legend Rock N' Roll 50 combo.

For the purposes of this review, I'll mainly be focusing on the sounds I'm getting when using the American Special with my main rig. The Jet City is set to a slight breakup, which provides me with a nice base to boost from with my drives for dirty tones, or to roll off my guitar volume for a clean tone (but even at that, I don't really require an absolutely clean tone).

Keeping in mind the Jet City's controls only go to “9”, the settings on the amp I'm currently using are:
Pre-Gain - ~3.5 Bass – 7 Mids – 7 Treble - ~4.5 Master Vol. - ~ 5* Pres. - ~2
(*This is the master volume I use at practice, which is actually a bit louder than I need for gigs since amps are almost always mic'd)

For the majority of my band's set I'm using the Blues Pro for the dirty tones I need, and mainly using the bridge pickup or the bridge/middle combination. This is where the Greasebucket tone circuit really comes into play! For the ballsiest tones I need, I'm finding that rolling back the tone knob for the bridge pickup back a bit (to maybe around halfway) really hits the sweet spot. This cuts back on some of highs and because of the Greasebucket also prevents the lows from becoming muddy. Even with the tone knob rolled back, I'm getting a nice punchy blend of highs, nice fat mids, and lows. The Texas Specials, for my tastes, work very well with the level of gain I need and are a very nice match with the Greasebucket tone circuit, especially if you're seeking rock tones from single coils.

Comparing the tone I'm getting (and loving!) with the Strat as compared to the humbucker loaded Ibanez RG470 that was my prior main guitar, I'm obviously losing some crunch. However, I really haven't found that to be a bad thing! If anything, I feel like my tone is better with a little less gain, and it's certainly more articulate! The guitar cuts through the mix well and really sings when it comes to playing leads.

Speaking of leads, this brings me to the middle and neck pickups. I'm digging both of them for certain leads where I feel they're appropriate. The neck pickup is big, bluesy, and fat. The middle/neck position really gives me that SRV, Kenny Wayne Shepard vibe. In addition, for leads where I roll back the guitar volume for something with maybe a jazzier feel, this is the selector I go to. The middle pickup, I've discovered, is nice for those leads where I might want a little less bluesy girth of the neck pickup but something other than the bridge, too.

Oh, and something I just realized I hadn't mentioned yet, zero problems with noise! One of my worries was that I'd have an ungodly amount of hum noise, but that's not been an issue at all, even at gigging levels! I'm sure the NS-2 helps a bit, but unless I turn both OD's on simultaneously for a lead, I'm not getting any level of hum that I wouldn't consider as negligible.

OVERALL (and TL;DR)

I'm absolutely loving this guitar. The Texas Specials suit my mainly rock-oriented needs very well. The neck plays like a dream! This is a well built guitar and I'm totally happy with it.

ONE LAST THING; A COMPRESSOR?

At the end of my review, you may have noticed that I mentioned with both OD's on at their current settings I can get some noise/feedback. Instead of either (a)changing the settings on one of the pedals depending on the song or (b) getting another boost, even a clean boost, I'm thinking a compressor might be what I'm looking for. All I really need is a subtle bit of "oomph" to couple with either OD, and some warmth and compression for leads. Thoughts?
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
#2
Orange Micro Terror

Let's start of with some pics of this lil' bastage



The close-up



And here's how I've been using the MT, running into the 1x12 Celestion housed in my Legend combo. My cat, Guthrie, is Orange as well. He also goes by the names "Fluffrie" and "Guthrington Cat, Attorney at Paw".

This post about the MT is going to be more brief than the one concerning the guitar.

The Micro Terror is a 20 watt hybrid head. It has a single 12ax7 in the preamp section and a solid state power section. The simple controls are a volume, tone, and gain knob. The MT also has an auxiliary input to jam along with an MP3 player or the like, and also a headphone output. The output says 4 ohms minimum. The power cord reminds me of a laptop power cord.

Overall, this is a pretty nice little amp! On it's own, it can go from clean to what I'd call a classic rock-type crunch. Where I think it really shines though is it's ability to take pedals. With my board in front of the MT it really roars. I'm just using this for practice at the moment, and it provides me a really nice tone to jam and write with that isn't going to piss off the neighbors (or my girlfriend for that matter ). I'll add in that it actually has some balls to it which really helps it take pedals. It's got some warmth to the sound unlike other solid states or hybrids I've played. The tone control is very responsive, although to my ears, it really only provides usable tones (even for a base to use with a board) between about 10 to 2 o'clock or so on the knob. Much lower and things get muddy as hell, much higher and it's an old time radio.

This will be a great backup amp to take along to gigs...or at least I think it will be. I've had an issue with it .

A couple nights ago I took the MT to my band's rehearsal studio with the plan to plug it into my 4x12 and see how it would sound in a band setting. So I get it hooked up, plugged in, and fire it up. As soon as I got to just below where I'd need it to be volume-wise to be heard, it started cutting out! As you can imagine, I was in somewhat of a "WTFFFFFF?" mode. The cab is running at 8ohms mono and the Orange says 4ohms minimum.

I googled this, and it doesn't appear I'm alone in this problem. One solution I've read is to plug it into the stereo side of my cab, which will cut it down essentially to a 2x12. I'm hoping this works when I try it out, because if not, my hopes of having a pint-sized backup amp that I can get a nice tone out of in a pinch might be hampered somewhat. I've also read that the MT is designed internally to cut out like what I experienced to prevent from burning itself up (it's an Orange, not Bugera lulz ).

Other than that issue, I've got nothing bad to say about the Micro Terror. It's a nice little amp for the uses it was made for, which was being a nice sounding, rock based amplifier that takes pedals well and works for practicing and maybe smaller gigs.

To wrap this up, I've seen a number of posts asking the question if the MT would be loud enough for a gig. Although I can't be completely positive yet because of the issue with the 4x12, I feel like I'd had it going pretty loud through the 1x12 and it would do a fine job mic'd up at a gig. I may give it a test-drive at a smaller, party type gig something if the opportunity arises.
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
Last edited by sjones at Aug 2, 2013,
#3
wow awesome
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#4
Way to go! HNGD!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#5
HNGD!

American Specials are pretty cool guitars especially for the money.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#6
We're gunna need evidence of these competition winning guitar skills or we're gunna assume you stole it and have no such skills
Last edited by WholeLottaIzzy at Aug 2, 2013,
#7
Quote by WholeLottaIzzy
We're gunna need evidence of these competition winning guitar skills or we're gunna assume you stole it and have no such skills

Damn it, I've been caught! I shanked everyone in the damn building and ran like hell!!!

Or not. Actually, I've been waiting for some folks who I saw taking videos to upload them to youtube. No luck so far though.
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
#8
Quote by WholeLottaIzzy
We're gunna need evidence of these competition winning guitar skills or we're gunna assume you stole it and have no such skills

Hmmm...

Blonde hair? Check.

Beard? Check.

Slightly scruffy? Check.

Killer axe skills? Check.


HE'S A VIKING! He didn't win it, he got it on a raid!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#9
that's ****ing awesome.


how did they not stick you with a black one?
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#11
Quote by gregs1020
that's ****ing awesome.


how did they not stick you with a black one?

AFAIK American Specials only come in 2-tone sunburst, candy apple red and seafoam green, at least the SSS ones. The HSS ones are available in black, 3TS and candy apple red... I like my black one, but I wish they would have released the red ones a couple of years ago.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#12
Nice job man, HNGD! I honestly couldn't imagine life without my strat... I'm glad you love it!
Quote by JD Close
Piano dick had some good parts, but should have said "As the business man slowly gets boned", would have accented the whole dick feeling of the album
#13
Quote by gregs1020
that's ****ing awesome.


how did they not stick you with a black one?

JesusCrisp is right, the American Specials are only available (at least now) in the Two-Tone Sunburst, Candy Apple Red, or Seafoam Green.

Thankfully the TTSB model was what Fender sent them to give away as the grand prize! Out of all three options, it would easily have been my first choice. Seafoam Green would have been second and I think I would have been "okay" with that color. I really dislike the look on the Red models. I'm so floodlin' happy that wasn't the prize.
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
#14
Quote by JesusCrisp
AFAIK American Specials only come in 2-tone sunburst, candy apple red and seafoam green, at least the SSS ones. The HSS ones are available in black, 3TS and candy apple red... I like my black one, but I wish they would have released the red ones a couple of years ago.

wow i never realized the SSS didn't come in black.

at the store a few years back, anytime we gave away a guitar, it was always the black one.


sjones - just read the MT review.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#15
Quote by gregs1020
wow i never realized the SSS didn't come in black.

at the store a few years back, anytime we gave away a guitar, it was always the black one.


sjones - just read the MT review.

Oh, I also won an Audio Technica Series 9 Wireless system, which I haven't got to try out yet. Also a "History of Yamaha Guitars" book.

I couldn't enter this particular event last year because of my job, but they're known to give away nice prizes. Last year's winner took home an ESP Eclipse in Goldburst.


EDIT: Thoughts on a Compressor anyone? Or what the issue with the MT + 4x12 could be?
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
Last edited by sjones at Aug 2, 2013,
#16
You do realize that for so much good fortune to fall upon one person in a single moment, it means that somewhere on the other side of the world, someone suddenly dropped dead. It's that whole Yin/Yang thing, you know.

Congratulations on winning the guitar contest. The Fender American Specials are fine instruments, and a lot of people seem to love those little Orange amps. HNG&AD! Enjoy the hell out of both of them!
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#17
Quote by FatalGear41
Quote by sjones
Oh, I also won an Audio Technica Series 9 Wireless system, which I haven't got to try out yet. Also a "History of Yamaha Guitars" book.

You do realize that for so much good fortune to fall upon one person in a single moment, it means that somewhere on the other side of the world, someone suddenly dropped dead. It's that whole Yin/Yang thing, you know.


He is CLEARLY pillaging! VIKING!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#18
Quote by dannyalcatraz
He is CLEARLY pillaging! VIKING!

Well, I was voted "Most Likely To Be A Member of Amon Amarth" in my graduating class...

Oh, and an update on the Orange!

As soon as I got home from work yesterday (haha, I posted a NGD from work on the clock) I cranked up the Micro Terror very briefly to see if I experienced the same issues with my 1x12 (using the Legend as a cab, Celestion G12-80 speaker, 8 ohm). I'm glad to report absolutely no issues there! This is good! What this means essentially is that I'm going to confirm that, yes, you should be able to use the Micro Terror as a gigging amp if you desired to.

Word of advice/opinion: If you're looking to use a Micro Terror for gigging, I probably wouldn't do so without a pedalboard in front of it. That's not to say it's a bad amp by any means, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable gigging with it's limitations without some pedals in front.

I'm going to try the suggestion that I found online to plug the MT into the stereo side of my 4X12 to cut it down to a 2x12 and see if that solves the issue.
Quote by Zeppelin71
Umm. . .uh. . .your mom touched sjones' dick. YOUR MOM TOUCHED OUR GUITARISTS GENITALS IN A CAMPER AT A BIKER FESTIVAL! truth.
#20
That's awesome. Well done!

Lots of people dismiss the Strat because of its popularity, but it's the perfect guitar for lots of styles.

I am very interested in seeing your winning performance, please do post it.

Well done, honestly.
#21
Quote by Mephaphil
Lots of people dismiss the Strat because of its popularity, but it's the perfect guitar

Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz