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BD "bigdave2020" (UK)

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Ultrasport Yogamat/Universal Mat - Black
Ultrasport Yogamat/Universal Mat - Black
Price: £19.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic quality Yoga/exercise mat for the tall people among us, 28 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this as my old Yoga mat was past its best, and decided it was time for an upgrade, and I wasn't disappointed.

I've been attending various Yoga classes for several years, and like many had initially purchased a cheapo effort for around a tenner from my nearest generic out of town supermarket. It was blue, it was thin with 'Yoga' diagrams on it and slightly too short, but it was a start. After this early effort, I bought a thicker softer mat which was more comfortable, but I found this didn't have enough grip for the floor below when performing stretches or balances, and it stretched too much.

This Ultrasport Mat offers me the best of both worlds with an almost indestructible feel to it. Measuring 210 x 66 x 0.5 cm (approx) with a slightly tacky feeling surface on one side and the other having slightly raised dimples, I have no issues with slippage of the Mat on a wooden floor or my feet or hands losing grip on it at all. The Mat is approx 2 metres long so at 6ft 3ins, I finally have a Yoga mat which can accommodate my full length. The padding is also more than adequate to protect my knees and toes during more strenuous routines which my previous thin supermarket sourced item failed at dismally. They seem to have used a material or construction method which offers grip and cushioning but doesn't stretch/lose shape or get dented with foot or hand marks during exercise. Brilliant.

The full retail price is around the £50 mark, but is currently on offer for less than £15 which for an exercise mat of this awesome 'tank' like quality is an absolute bargain. The trade off for the undoubted quality of this product is that its noticeably heavier than any other mat I have come across, but when you consider the re-assurance of size, comfort, grip and durability, I think some extra weight is not a concern. The lesson learned here, is sometimes it is best to spend a larger amount up front on a quality item, instead of repeated purchases of cheap ones.

An easy 5 stars.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2013 12:09 PM BST

Varta 3W LED Indestructible Torch with 3C Battery
Varta 3W LED Indestructible Torch with 3C Battery
Price: £20.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A product that actually delivers, 28 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nothing bad to say about this torch from Varta. Very solid, well made and a very bright beam. Not sure why they felt the need to have a mode where you can make it dimmer to save 'energy' though as LED's by design consume a lot less than a conventional bulb. Just an on an off would have been fine.

From a practical point of view, I like that the switch is on the bottom and not along the body of the torch as it doesn't get switched off accidentally. Also unlike other high bower beam designs which can be a bit bulky, this Varta torch has a nice slim design so it fits into a kitchen drawer without hassle and sits in the hand easily. We have not had cause to test the dropped from 9 metres claim, but it feels very substantial so it should last a long time.

A top product easily recommended.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2013 11:39 PM GMT

Washburn AB10BK Acoustic / Electric Bass Guitar - Black
Washburn AB10BK Acoustic / Electric Bass Guitar - Black
Price: £329.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great sounding well built acoustic bass spoiled by a poor action, 9 Nov. 2012
As an experienced bassist of over 20 years who has owned a wide variety of bass guitars, and played in various styles and genres of band, I purchased a Washburn AB10 electro acoustic bass as a back up to my usual rig, and for home 'unplugged' practice. Upon delivery initial impressions were good, and the Washburn reputation for a well built and finished guitar for the price was evident. However over a short period, frustrations with the basic design spoiled what could otherwise be an awesome bit of kit.

Sound 4.5/5

For me this is the major strong point of the AB10 which could explain why Washburn still makes such a deal out of its 'As used in MTV unplugged' credentials. It has a very pleasing tone and sound quality (especially when plugged in) which never failed to impress. Due to the patented unique design of sound hole and thinner than standard acoustic body depth, the noises it produces are tight and punchy and definitely suited to Rock and Metal. I only experienced feedback when plugged in, with the bass level on the on-board EQ set to silly levels in a loud gig or rehearsal room setting, but this is really pretty much it in terms of sound quality issues. The sound even connected to a small practice amp has a good even crisp tone that only occasionally suffered from a touch of over brightness (which losses it half a mark), but I found after some experimentation with roundwound strings installed, this was reduced. I found D'Addario EPBB170 strings worked particularly well.

Features 4/5

The AB10 has a slim cutaway design body which includes an on board preamp with adjustable volume, presence and 3 band EQ. It also features the options of two balanced outputs (XLR or 1\4 jack). Strap buttons are also included as standard, only one of which is screwed into the body, but both have stayed in place. The reason for only four and not five marks in this section is the omission of an inbuilt tuner. This is featured as standard on many of its similar priced (and also cheaper) rivals. I own another electro acoustic bass with this feature and it is very useful.

Quality 4/5

Overall for the money it the AB10 is pretty good, but I have found a couple of areas to mention. Firstly the bridge. As standard it is set way too high. Factory fresh an action height of over 10mm really isn't acceptable in my book. I tried to remedy this but with limited effect. Additionally, the area of the bridge that retains the ball end of the strings has a design which has the strings not retained by pins that go into the body of the guitar, but in open slots at the back of the bridge. The slot openings are quite narrow and they potentially limit your string options. I bought a nice set of phosphor bronze Trace Elliot strings for it, but due to the amount of binding material in the ball end area of these particular strings, they would not fit through the ball end slots. Now you could argue that this is the fault of the string manufacturer, but the other Ibanez electro acoustic bass I own was able to use them (and all other flavours of strings I have bought) without issue. Secondly, the Truss rod adjustment is awkward. The cover is simple enough to remove with the strings removed but when in place (and slackened off) two of the screws are fiddly to access. The rod itself is buried very deep and it is only just possible to get the truss rod adjustment tool into the head to attempt adjustment.

Playability 2.5/5

Other reviews of this bass have mentioned the action being a little high straight out the box and the example of an AB10 that I owned was no exception, in fact if I am being honest (and it genuinely pains me to say this about a Washburn) it had the worst action of any Bass I have ever bought new or used. I wish I could award more generous marks to the AB10 in the area, but it really isn't very good. I tried to resolve this by altering the bridge height and making truss rod adjustments, but I was never able to get the action to a place where it was 100% (or even 75%) comfortable to use and play. Considering the pedigree and reputation of Washburn instruments (I also once owned from new a Washburn electric bass which had a lovely low action from out of the box) this was a huge disappointment. As I mentioned earlier, I am an experienced player of over 20 years who is used to setting up and servicing an instrument, but the AB10 I had just wouldn't play ball. I found string slip off occurred far too easily and the high action lead to too many duff or missed notes and chords. I still own a Chinese made Ibanez electro acoustic bass (see my other reviews) which is so superior in this regard and it was significantly less money to buy.

Overall 3.5 /5

It really is big a shame that such a nicely finished and well made instrument that has the potential to sound so good, is spoiled by its playability problems. I accept that you may not agree with me, but for me this was enough to spoil the party. I gave it a fair chance, tried hard to resolve its problems, and I had a genuine desire to stick with it, but an AB10 is no longer part of my setup. Perhaps the design and manufacture of electro acoustic basses has moved on over the 20 years this bass has been on the market? The truth is that other electro acoustic basses available from other well known established known brands can out perform the AB10, and have additional useful features for the same or less outlay. Perhaps it is time for Washburn to revisit the design and tweak it to improve it? As it stands with the AB10 in its current form, ultimately for me, a guitar which has the 'credentials' of 'As used in MTV unplugged' that looks cool and sounds good is all well and good, but is of no use to me if it is a pig to play. Maybe if you get lucky and take delivery of a good one, your experiences will be different, but for me, thanks to the action height issue and lack of adjustment to remedy this problem, I can can only offer a lukewarm recommendation to the AB10.

Ibanez AEB8E-BK Acoustic Bass Guitar 4-String
Ibanez AEB8E-BK Acoustic Bass Guitar 4-String
Offered by Omega Music (UK) Ltd
Price: £307.00

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a great feature packed bass for the money that sounds the business..., 6 Nov. 2012
As an experienced bassist who has owned and played mainly Gibson and Fender guitars over 20 years (and their cheaper Epiphone and Squier equivalents too) in various styles and genres of band, I was a complete newcomer to the Ibanez brand until I bought an AEB8E. I purchased this electro acoustic bass as a impulse purchase after my band at the time decided we would go acoustic in local pubs to attract a bigger 'following'. Considering how little research I did before handing over the cash, I was very pleasantly surprised by the Ibanez AEB8E, and continue to be impressed by it almost 5 years later.

Sound 5/5

For me the AEB8E has a sound quality and depth which punches far above its price. Yes you have to be careful with the onboard eq bass setting to avoid feedback in a loud live or rehearsal setting, but this is really pretty much it. The sound even connected to a small practice amp has a good deep tone that does not suffer too much from over brightness (zingyness!) which is something I have experienced on other electro acoustic basses I have owned (and now sold!). The bass also seems very tolerant and consistent with various makes of Strings. So far I have used Rotosound, Trace Elloit and D'Addario strings, and the bass was pretty happy with all of them. The AEB8E has also received praise for its looks and deep sound at gigs with punters coming up to me and asking about the bass, which is a compliment to Ibanez for producing such a great instrument.

Features 5/5

The Ibanez AEB8E has a full depth full sized body which has included an on board Ibanez SPT preamp with adjustable volume and EQ. It also features the options of two balanced outputs (XLR or 1\4 jack) Strap buttons are also included as standard which are both screwed (not glued) into the body. As if this wasn't enough, the added cherry on top (which gives it the 5 stars for me) is the built in tuner. I have found this last feature invaluable as it saves having to use a seperate tuner. Switching the tuner on also disengages the output which is so useful in a live gig setting. In other words, packed with features for the money and no complaints.

Quality 4/5

Overall for the money it almost feels nit picky to complain but I have found a couple of areas to mention. Firstly the lacquer has quickly worn away in a couple of areas (back of the neck and near the rear strap button) and the paint is a little thin especially on the top around the sound hole. Now whilst i have used the bass fairly regularly, it has not been abused or thrashed into oblivion, so the weakness of the lacquer is a little concerning. The other area for concern is the bridge area. The pins that locate the ball end of the strings are very cheap feeling and the pins that locate the thinner G and D strings have on accasion failed to secure the strings properly whilst the bass is being re-strung. My solution to this is to pre kink the bottom of the string before putting the string into the pin and pressing it home, but this doesn't work 100%.

Playability 4.5/5

I think the other review of this bass mentioned the action being a little high straight out the box and that is certainly true. But also like the other reviewer, I was able to resolve this with some adjustment (half a turn) of the truss rod which bought the strings within comfortable playing distance. I have only had to adjust the neck twice since I bought it, which for a Chinese made acoustic instrument is impressive. I have found the bass does need regular tuning checks during sessions though as it does not hold its tune quite as well as i would like. The great sound I have previously mentioned is no doubt helped by the full depth body, but this can also take a bit of getting used to reaching around if you are used to playing a much thinner bodied electric bass (especially if you attach a strap and play it standing up), but after a while you will get used to it.

Overall 4.75 /5

Minor quality and playability quibbles aside, I am very very impressed with the AEB8E. Compared to other more expensive brands of electro acoustic bass I have also owned (and now sold) it stacks up very favourably and in one instance out perfoms them completely. The fact that 1. Other electro acoustic basses have come and gone from my 'collection' whilst the trusty Ibanez stays put and 2. that whenever my band decide to do an acoustic live gig it is my default instrument of choice says a great deal about the high regard in that hold the Ibanez.

100% recommended. Buy one and enjoy!

Bottled at Source - The Best of the Source Years
Bottled at Source - The Best of the Source Years
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £8.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb standards of song writing and musicianship spanning their first decade..., 11 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Turin Brakes, remember them? Well I first became aware of Turin Brakes during a BBC broadcast from the Glastonbury festival back in the day (not sure if this was 2000 or 2001) where they performed an intimate acoustic set with Jo Whiley and Mark Radcliffe looking on in attendance, and I have followed them ever since.

After their first two commercially successful albums, the Optimist LP and Ether Song, those who thought Turin Brakes had disappeared after their second album, may be surprised to learn the band went on to release a further 2 original albums (excluding downloads and mix albums) on the source record label, with the release being reviewed here the fifth and final release for the Source label (hence the album title), and it marked the end of a decade of being signed to Source.

What I like about this album the most (aside from the immense song writing talent on offer of course) is that this isn't just an unimaginative chronological order `hits' list of their singles. A significant number of the tracks included here are not single releases, and the songs are sequenced so they sound the best as a new whole not just a lazy list slung onto a CD. Yes the early `hits' are there such as Painkiller, Underdog (save me) and Emergency 72, but go beyond this and arguably the standard of song writing standards whilst perhaps less obvious commercially, reached even greater heights on subsequent albums Jack in the Box and Dark on Fire, and I am very pleased that the title track from the Dark on Fire album is included here as for me (especially live) alongside the songs Mind over Money and Feeling Oblivion, it is one of their finest moments.

So here you have it, a superb collection of songs that takes you on a journey across a decade and four studio albums of a much underrated British band, who are still recording, touring and releasing material up to the present day on their new label Cooking Vinyl. If you enjoyed this collection, then I recommend checking out the four Source albums in their own right and their output on their new record label, as there are many more gems to discover.

Live On Air
Live On Air
Offered by muzicmadnezz
Price: £7.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars *Warning* this poor quality product is not endorsed by the Band or their Management and only 33 minutes long!, 3 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Live On Air (Audio CD)
It genuinely pains me to say it, but speaking as a huge fan and supporter of Tom Petty and his output with or without the HeartBreakers over the years (I also have been fortunate to see them live) this album is a poor blatant cash in on a great song writer and performer. I did not realise until I had purchased it that the product was NOT an official Tom Petty release hence my warning to you in my review title.

The very slim (a single page) album sleeve notes make a statement about how they are rare 'Live to Air' US performances with no overdubs etc etc... The problem with this approach is the sound quality is pretty woeful. All of tracks sounds lumpy and compressed with sound levels all over the place resembling bootleg quality at times, and some of the false fades at the end of the tracks are harsh and poorly executed. In some cases instruments or final flourishes are cut short whilst still in progress.. To add to this audio quality and editing insult, you only get half an hours music for your money.

I honestly couldn't recommend this to a fan of Tom Petty, I am that disappointed. Even the great song writing present throughout his career is not enough to save this album.

If you want a good live album by the great man, and by that I mean really good, then my recommendation for only a few quid more is the Live Anthology 4 CD set. It will only cost you half as much again, but honestly it is more than double the album compared to this inferior and poor value release.

Remember I am not reviewing Tom Petty & The HeartBreakers who's output I love, this is only a comment on this specific album. Don't be suckered like me and save your money.

** Update December 2012 - Another review has appeared for this item, which is clearly a blatant riposte review against my own in order to falsely boost the rating of this inferior product. I will say it again, this CD is neither a licensed or authorised released by the band or its management. It is a very disappointing poor product with awful sub standard sound quality and production. But then I would know this, as I suspect unlike the other reviewer, I have actually bought it.

The Bible
The Bible
Offered by the_record_factory
Price: £14.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a much underrated band and Boo Hewerdine..., 17 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Bible (Audio CD)
The 80's, oh yes, an era of decadence, brashness, loadsamoney, flouro socks, shoulder pads and synthesiser based bombastic tunes. Well if that was the case, nobody told Cambridgeshire based Boo Hewerdine, who from the ashes of his previous band The Great Divide, formed The Bible and composed songs of a maturity and brilliance with a standard of story telling and wordplay that would rival Roddy Frame and Lloyd Cole and to some ears, surpass them.

Lloyd Cole and Roddy Frame both as solo artists and with their respective groups The Commotions and Aztec Camera achieved a good level of chart and commercial success during the 80's but what of Boo and his band featured on this collection, The Bible? Well they achieved a strong cult following when signed to an independent label, and once signed to Chrysalis, achieved a couple of minor top 40 'hits' with the re-released singles Graceland and Honey be Good and the dizzy heights of an appearance on Wogan no less, but as far as mainstream success goes that was it, and only two albums in, The Bible called it a day (apart from reforming for anniversary gigs in 2011 and 2012 that is!) and Boo embarked upon a solo career which saw him release several solo albums and many collaborative works over the next 20 years, including being asked by long-time friend Nick Hornby to contribute music to the soundtrack of the film, High Fidelity. Boo's status in the industry was also increasing as a song writer with his material being recorded by other artists such as Eddie Reader, KD Lang, Heidi Talbot and Suggs amongst many others.

So enough of the history and what about the tracks featured on this Chrysalis released collection of tunes. Well essentially this is a compilation released back in 1989 of singles released (and their respective b-sides) and stronger album tracks from the Eureka album. The only exception to this is the opening track which is the re-worked and re-released 7" remix of Graceland featured in its original form on earlier album, Walking the Ghost back home.

I am happy to report that oh my my, age has served only to re-enforce the awesome standard of song writing and musicianship standard at work here. Album opener Graceland still sounds as chart friendly and wonderful as it did in the day, Crystal Palace still sounds as tight driven along by a sublime bass line and drum part, and Honey be Good still shimmers as wonderfully as it did in 1989 'and if you can't be good, be good at being bad like every girl should'. As for the rest of the tracks which were not singles, well to be honest that is where the great voyage of discovery begins. Away from the magnificent singles, and with less pressure to be commercial perhaps, The Bible really start to relax and the music flows naturally, especially on cover Abraham, Martin & John, Skywriting (their live set and Eureka album opener) and Blue Shoes Stepping (the original Eureka album closer on Vinyl). Cigarette Girls is also worthy of special mention.

Boo and his band The Bible where to provide the template and clues to Boo's later works and Boo has rarely failed to deliver uplifting, inspirational and moving music. This album is an introduction to his 80's band really is a must and highly recommended for Fan and non fan. Some bands are followed and liked as a phase, others are just there in the background in one ear and out of the other, and others stay with you for life and form part of the soundtrack to your lives. For me The Bible and Boo's work fall into the latter category. The world may have changed a great deal in 25 years, but my admiration and love of this music has and will remain with me.

Cheers Boo.

P.S. I believe this title was deleted a long time ago by the record company, so if you are interested in this release, I would advise snapping it up quickly!

No Title Available

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a low price to pay for genuine peace of mind..., 13 Sept. 2012
I owned one of these earlier in my driving career (pre LED version) and it was nothing less than 100% dependable over several years of ownership. At the time of purchase I owned low value `banger' status vehicles, and installing an expensive full Thatcham alarm and immobilizer didn't make financial sense, so I got one of these mainly as a visual deterrent but also to hopefully prevent a scumbag being tempted to drive away with my car. Just because it was a `banger' it still had a value to me, as I needed it for my work and social life and I would have been lost without it.

Within 6 months of purchase my investment was justified. As part of the low paid job I had at the time, I had to work shifts, and this sometimes involved finishing late with the car park on offer not very secure. On a cold November evening, I came out to the car park to go home, only find a crowd of people close to where I had parked. The reason for this was that a car had been broken into. Three cars were parked in a row. My own, a Vauxhall Nova and Austin Metro. The vehicle that had no alarm or visible security was the Nova, and a scumbag (before being disturbed) had successfully broken in to it, and was in the process of hot wiring the car to drive it away. My own car and the metro with visible deterrents were untouched.

Possibly one the best, useful and proven things I have ever bought for a car. The low purchase cost compared to no vehicle? It was and is a no brainer.

Gator G Bone Pedal Board with Carry Bag and Power Supply
Gator G Bone Pedal Board with Carry Bag and Power Supply
Price: £69.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value and versatile for the money, 7 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Purchased to replace an old pedal board I had been using for many years, I couldn't be happier.

The item feels solid and well made and nicely finished. It comes complete with a power supply for up to five pedals, and two generous strips of self adhesive velcro which are the whole width of the board x2, to attach to your pedals. It sits true and square and doesn't dominate too much floor space. The item also comes with its own bag to keep the board and your attached pedals dust free.

If I was being hyper critical though, the bag could do with being padded a little bit better. Also for the novice, there wasn't any guidance or instructions on how to attach pedals or how to use the board. Now if you are an experienced user of such equipment like me, then you may think they are not needed, but a new comer to our chosen hobby, might need a bit of guidance.

My only regret with buying this board, is that I didn't do it sooner. Rehearsals and gigs have been so much quicker to set up since I purchased this. From opening the box to have it up and running with all my pedals on it, took me approx 15 mins, ready to go.

A great product, recommended.

***Update 28.11.12*** I have just edited this review as unfortunately after a period of use, some of the felt has started to come away from the board with a pedal when you take a pedal off it, so instead of 5 stars, this is now a 4 star product.

Stagg SPC015L E Patch Cable
Stagg SPC015L E Patch Cable
Price: £5.06

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value..., 7 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After getting by with a beaten up old pedal board I had used for years, I finally caved in bought a new one, and upon removing my pedals from my old board, it became obvious that my old leads were a bit past it!

So I bought this 6 pack with the hope of restoring the performance of my trusty old pedals. Overall, I am very happy with them, and at basically a quid a lead you can't go wrong. Only one word of advice though. They don't seem to be shielded as well as other leads I have used in the past and I found that I had to move the pedals apart more than I am used to, to avoid clicking or sound effect interference from each other.

This minor performance flaw can be overlooked though, because they are such great value for money.


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