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Speed Rating May 2013: Four mini-reviews

April 22, 2013
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PROVIDENCE
STAMPEDE DT DISTORTION
$249 street

Plenty of distortion pedals promise “stack-like tones in a box,” but, while Providence’s new Stampede DT delivers that admirably, its fun factor lies in its other more varied capabilities. This yellow box with Gain, Output, Bass, and Treble controls excels at bringing big crunch and singing lead tones to your clean amp. But roll the Gain knob past noon and it also segues into gritty, crackling fuzz tones that are a blast to play thanks to more clarity and low-end girth than most vintage fuzzboxes deliver. The Stampede DT is a great, characterful tone tool for those times when a standard distortion pedal is just too tame. providence-ltd.com
—DAVE HUNTER

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ILITCH ELECTRONICS
BACK PLATE NOISE CANCELING SYSTEM
$250 retail

Love your single-coil pickups’ tone but can’t live with the hum? The Back Plate Noise Canceling System includes a coil wound into a Strat-style back plate that, when wired up with your traditional Strat pickups, nukes the noise completely. I loaded the system into a loaner Fender AVRI Stratocaster and, wow, suddenly I had a guitar that was as quiet as any with humbuckers, yet with no discernible change to its single-coil tone. Pricey, perhaps, but extremely impressive. Tele, Les Paul, and even a splithumbucker noise canceling system are also available. ilitchelectronics.com
—DAVE HUNTER

ZYMÖL
GUITAR FINISH PRODUCTS
$19 retail (each)

Known for its automotive products, Zymöl has turned its attention to guitar finishes by offering a trio of formulas made from plant oils, cocoa butter, pure vanilla extract, coconut oil, and carnauba. Spraying on a little GBC# Gloss Finish Restorer and Glaze put a glistening sheen on our test guitars, while the GBCb Natural Finish Surface Protectant gave a silky feel to oiled wood surfaces when applied by hand and lightly buffed with the included micro-fiber cloth. The Bridge Fret, Bridge, and Fingerboard Protectant also enhanced the look and feel of these often-unattended areas. zymolmusic.com
—ART THOMPSON

D’ADDARIO
EXL110BT NICKEL WOUND STRINGS
$5 street

The “BT” in the name refers to Balanced Tension, whereby each set comprises mathematically optimized string gauge combinations that the company says “offers greater dynamic control to provide evenly balanced bending, strumming, fretting, picking, and plucking.” D’Addario XLs already have a signature bright tone, but the balancing of the 10/46 set that I tested (which specs .010, .0135, .017, .025, .034, .046) provided an improved feel over the standard XLs that I’d had on my PRS Custom 22. After significant use, the tones have remained crisp and well defined, with a top-end sweetness that works beautifully for clean and overdriven tones. Available in a variety of gauges, Balanced Tension XLs are an excellent option to consider next time you’re in re-stringing mode. daddario.com —ART THOMPSON

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