Noteworthy Guitars Series

This is the second installment in a series of blog posts highlighting some really cool guitars and gear I’ve come across.

The Fender American Performer Series launches today, just in time for the holiday season. While most Fender models don’t deviate too much from the norm that they’ve established over the last sixty-something years, this series does indeed add some interesting elements to their classic designs.

All of the American Performer Series models have a new pickup—The Yosemite. Having not yet heard it, I’ll spare you the verbose manufacturer’s explanation of what it sounds like. You’ll just have to play and see. The Yosemites are backed by the already established Greasebucket Tone Circuit, an innovation from Fender that lets you lower your treble tone without the addition of bass, so you don’t muddy the waters too much.

The American Performer Series guitars also sport ClassicGear tuners, which are vintage style tuners with an upgraded 18:1 gear ratio. They’re a little smaller and it’s kind of a personal preference whether you’re into that look or not, but they are made to more accurately tune the instrument, so there’s a plus regardless.

Aside from those generalities across the American Performer Series guitars, here’s the real cool stuff that Fender added to some of their most famous models:

American Performer Stratocaster

Fender added a push/pull tone circuit to the classic Strat model. With three single-coil pickups and a five-way selector switch, you’d normally have five voicing options. But now, with the push/pull tone pot, you can engage the neck pickup in positions 1 & 2. This adds a Bridge/Neck combination and a Bridge/Middle/Neck combination, for a total of 7 voicings.

American Performer Stratocaster HSS

The humbucker at the bridge has always given the Strat a beefier tone for the rock players who want to crank it up a bit. But now, the HSS Strat gives you the option to return to single-coil tone at the bridge with their new DoubleTap Humbucker. Not quite coil-tapping, nor exactly coil-splitting, this patent-pending technology from Fender wires one of the coils extra hot, then engages that single-coil by itself when the push/pull tone pot is activated. The new technique from Fender claims to maintain complete volume, which is commonly diminished with other methods of going from humbucker to single-coil. With one overwound coil, both the humbucker and single-coil voicing likely have a real cool sound.

American Performer Telecaster Hum

While the standard Tele in the Series doesn’t have any wild electronic innovations, the Tele Hum also sports the DoubleTap technology cited above in the humbucker neck pickup. So again, you can basically have a Telecaster with a humbucker OR a single-coil at the neck, in the same exact guitar. Makes you wonder why anyone would go for the Tele or Strat without a DoubleTap…

So there you have it—a new Fender line, with much of the same foundation that makes Fender the iconic brand that it is, but with some pretty cool additions that show they’re willing to innovate a little bit more. I’m told that a few Fender models in the past have had coil-tapping and even a push/pull knob that adds the bridge pickup to amount to 7 voicings, however the Double Tap technology is all-new and the neck pickup has not yet been added by a push/pull tone pot.

If you’re a Fender fan that likes a little modern innovation, you’ll want to check out these American Performer Series models.

Noteworthy Guitars Series

This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting some really cool guitars and gear I’ve come across.

Fender Limited Edition Meteora Electric Guitar

Fender has been getting pretty interesting lately. Always known for their quality, they’re stepping into the unknown a bit and pushing their previously solidified boundaries (I’ll have more to talk about in that regard in just a few weeks, but I can’t divulge anything yet). They’ve recently come out with the aptly named Parallel Universe Series of guitars. These guitars look like they might already exist in a slightly bizarre version of our own world. Fender is basically combining features from their most famous guitar designs to make some hybrids that give you an oddly familiar feeling—like when you face swap with your best friend on Snapchat.

meteora-body

The Meteora may be the coolest design in the series. This guitar looks like a Telecaster that got stretched out when Chewy made the jump to light speed. It’s kind of a Jazzmaster body/neck, but the features are clearly Tele. Designer Josh Hurst stated that this guitar evolved from a Jazzmaster neck (Mid ’60s “C” shape – 9.5 inch radius), so some of the specs are similar to that model. But it’s got Tele single-coils and an American Professional Tele Bridge with three compensated Brass saddles, not to mention a Tele pickup selector and volume/tone knobs.

meteora-pickups

Like many Fenders, the Meteora’s body is cut from ash and sports a maple neck and fretboard. The finish is a cool Butterscotch gloss nitrocellulose lacquer that allows you to see down to the wood grains if you squint hard enough. The black pickguard is pretty wild, stretching in a seemingly wavy motion from the upper bout top corner to the lower bout bottom corner. Being a Limited Edition, it doesn’t seem there’s other finishes or the option for a Rosewood fretboard. That’s okay with me – I personally prefer the look and feel of maple, and I’m really digging the way the Black Block Inlays stand out with the lighter wood.

meteora-inlays

I really liked the aesthetic of this guitar, but haven’t yet had a chance to play it. However, the only thing that could rival the satisfaction of getting to play it myself is watching Jim Root from Slipknot try and figure out what it is after Fender blindfolded him and dropped it in his hands. Behold:

As a Fender lover, it’s hard for me to not be enamored with stuff like this. I trust their quality, so when I see innovation, I doubt it’s a gimmick. But regardless of how well it plays or how cool it is, it may not be around for long. We’ll have to see whether it stays in our world or returns to the parallel universe it came from.

The guys over at Divide and Conquer reached out to me a few weeks back about reviewing Unlearned Lessons. They have a pretty solid amount of quality reviews coming out everyday and so I was pretty stoked to be one of them. Plus my music had never been rated numerically before…so yeah, I guess that’s a decent bucket list item to be able to check off?

Well, it’s finally here – I didn’t break any records, but hey, with this grade, I would have passed math class. And insight into my songs is always interesting.

After all the effort that goes into making music, it’s just cool to know people are taking the time to listen. That’s really what matters to me.

If you’re interested, you can check out the review here.

And if you have your own “review” of the EP, or just want to talk music and guitars, hit me up anytime.

Peace,

Chio

My friend Allie (a.k.a. Posemanikin) is a talented designer who created the album cover for Unlearned Lessons. When I saw the image that is now the cover, I knew immediately that was it. I still look at it and think how damn cool it is, and no, it’s not just because it’s mine. She just made something that I found really aesthetically cool and meaningful, and I can’t thank her enough.

In addition to her design talent, she has a blog where she recently posted a Q & A she had for me. It was a lot of fun to answer and got me thinking about things I hadn’t really thought about before.

You can check it out here

Thanks again Allie!

ECLECTIC MUSIC LOVER

Chio EPChio is the artistic name of singer/songwriter Anthony Chiofalo, and this is his debut EP Unlearned Lessons, which dropped in August. The New York City-based artist plays rock music influenced by a whole assortment of alternative, grunge and garage bands, but with a style all his own. He recently had this to say regarding his sound: “People continue to ask specifically what artists my music sounds like. Fair enough, but I’m usually at a loss with that question. I had come up with some answers, but nothing that felt accurate. I also didn’t like to try to fit what I did into some other artist’s slot. That’s missing the whole point of writing original music. I have influences. Tons of them. But I never want to imitate, replicate or steer too close towards someone else’s creations. Otherwise I might as well just play their songs.

Well, to these old…

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I recently did an interview on Rock Talk USA with Aimee. We talked about my first EP, musical inspiration, and a bunch of other stuff, music and non-music related. She’s a really great host, with a really great show. She was cool enough to play three of my songs after the interview.

You can check it out here.

A big thanks to her for having me on.

Don’t miss her show every Tuesday night on Armed Radio, or stream it on her website shortly after at rocktalkusa.com.

Unlearned Lessons is the title of my first release, a five-song EP I recorded in the Spring of 2018. Some of the songs were written in whole or in part a while back – like a decade. Nonetheless, they seem to have timeless relevance to me. That’s where the significance of the title comes from.

Unlearned Lessons was pulled from one of the tracks on the EP called “Into the Waves.” The full line in that song is:

“We all still feel it, subtle heat. Unlearned lessons, always repeat.”

The song as a whole is about growing up and feeling the pressure of so many different aspects of life, and getting fed up to where you just want to get away from it all. In the chorus, I use surfing as a metaphor for escape, singing “I just want to jump into the waves.”  Surfing’s my metaphor, but the line itself represents anything that helps you get away from the seemingly endless challenges we all have to deal with.

It seems that until we figure out how to remove ourselves from whatever cycle we’re playing out, and find a way to move past the continuous and familiar problems we face time and time again, there is only temporary escape in whatever you do to get through it. Until you understand why you’re going through the same patterns and what’s at the root of it, your “unlearned lessons” will always repeat.

The line and the idea really hit home for me. So much so that I wanted to use it as the name of my first EP. I hope it’s just as significant in your own experience as in mine, and that the music resonates with you in a meaningful way.

But really, I’ll just be happy if you think it rocks.

Peace,

Chio