Planet Waves Planet Lock Strap One horrific evening, during a bebop clinic with jazz pianist Bill Bell, one of my guitar strap’s leather ends somehow folded back the wrong way around the strap button and, right in the middle of one of Bell’s mesmerizing monologues, the strap pulled off the button and my solidbody crashed onto the hall’s tile floor. This not only resulted in a deafening, heart-stopping burst of cacophony, but also a broken headstock. It is in the interest of helping players avoid similar experiences that so many locking strap systems have been developed. One of the most highly evolved of the bunch is Planet Waves’ new Planet Lock guitar strap ($25 retail/$19 street). Each end of this strap features a tough, polymer locking unit that fits over just about any strap button and—thanks to a ratcheting dial you simply turn until it stops—absolutely will not come off your guitar until the release button is engaged. The only glitch I encountered with the strap came when I hooked it up to a Malden Karma guitar. While attached to the upper bout’s strap button, the plastic strap end was just big enough to rub against the side of the neck. No big deal, but you can bet that after a year of wild gigging, the constant friction at that point will show in the finish.
George L’s Solderless Speaker Cable While tone gurus have been debating the value of different cable materials and construction geometry for decades, everyone seems to be in agreement that the ideal speaker cable should be no longer than absolutely necessary. With George L’s new solderless speaker cable system, creating the perfect, custom-length speaker cable has never been easier. Designed specifically to accommodate their 16-gauge speaker cable ($1 per foot, retail/street N/A), George L’s new solid-brass speaker cable plugs ($4.98 retail/street N/A) are available in either straight or right-angle versions, and with or without corrosion-resistant nickel plating. Assembly is a breeze. You simply cut the cable to length, trim one of the leads 1/2" shorter than the other, push the cable into the plug, and tighten the screw. In just minutes you’ve made a custom speaker cable that’s the perfect length for your particular application. Need it right now? George L’s also offers ready-made speaker cables in 5-, 10-, and 25-foot lengths ($17, $22, and $37 retail/street N/A).
Fender Standard Tension Bullets Fender’s Standard Tension Bullets ($10.50 retail/street N/A) feature German-made precision brass “bullets” at the end where a standard ball would normally be. Designed to fit precisely into a Stratocaster’s tremolo block, these conical-shaped ends won’t shift in position even during severe wanging sessions. The new Standard Tension Bullets (which are made in Fender’s Ensenada, Mexico factory) are designed to have a looser feel than Standard Bullet strings, which can feel a bit taut on some guitars. (For non-trem players, Fender also offers Standard Tension strings with ball ends.) I installed a set of .010-.046 Standard Tensions Bullets on my Strat and was very pleased with their feel, tone, and rock-solid tuning stability. If you haven’t tried Fender strings in a while, give these new wires a shot. You may find yourself singing, “Gimme Back My Bullets.”
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