As small independent record labels proliferate in the States, it sometimes seems that every rock band that has played even one high-school dance or one weekend in a lounge at a run-down motel now has a record out. Even if the record doesn't get air-play or get stocked at a record store, musicians can at least sell their record, usually a single, wherever they play and hope that eventually it will get into the hands — and ears — of a major record company executive who will promptly sign them to a contract. However, making a tape, even at the least expensive studio, is costly. But now companies have been releasing various recorders and mixers that are designed to meet the budgetary requirements as well as technical needs of musicians and professional recordists.
A four-track cassette mixer/recorder combination has been introduced by Studiomaster Inc. Called the Studio 4, it features six electronically balanced XLR mic input channels switchable to line inputs, each with the Studiomaster three-band semi-parametric E.Q., two auxiliary sends and direct in/out effects jacks. The recorder section features a special-design head allowing for simultaneous four-track recording utilizing fulltime Dolby "B" noise reduction.
Studiomaster's system has some of the same features offered in two four-track cassette systems introduced here by Tascam, the professional audio division of TEAC Corporation of America. With its Portastudio Model 144, Tascam offered the first integrated four-track mixer with a built-in four-track sync cassette recorder. Now Tascam offers even greater flexibility and better performance with its new Portastudio Model 244. It has built-in dbx noise reduction to eliminate tape hiss and lower distortion and has four-track simultaneous recording capability which, together with the four-channel tape outputs, permits cassettes to be copied from one unit to another. Also new to this unit is a second headphone jack, a stereo tape cue output and a stereo auxiliary mix that can be used for echo/effects or for an additional cue feed. The mic/line-tape switches now have a third off/mute position and there are peak overload LEDs on each input and on the mixing busses.
Peavey Electronics Corp., which has been adding simplified and down-sized units to its lines, now has its no-frills M-2600 power amplifier. Rated at 130 watts RMS per channel (both channels driven), it features a unique DDT compression circuitry which electronically senses the onset of clipping and automatically activates to maximize headroom and prevent clipping and distortion. The M-2600 is designed for both a medium powered full range system and for the high frequency section of a two-way or three-way system.
Crest, a division of Dallas Music Industries, now offers a complete line of professional power amplifiers ranging in power from 55 watts per channel up to 1600 watts and intended for sound reinforcement, professional recording and selected MI applications. The line starts off with the compact and efficient Series 1001 model which offers 55 watts per channel into 4 ohms. Moving up through the wattage range, there is the Series 2001 (120 watts per channel into 4 ohms), the Series 2500 (300 watts per channel into 2 ohms), the Series 3000 (400 watts per channel into 2 ohms), the Series 3500S (800 watts into 8 ohms mono) and the Series 4000 (1600 watts into 4 ohms mono).
Two limited-edition Crate amplifiers have been introduced by St. Louis Music Supply Co. to commemorate its 60th year in the music business. Although St. Louis Music's affiliate, SLM Manufacturing which produces Crate amps, was not started until 1978, the parent company began in 1922 with the creation of Alvarez guitars which were built to their design and specification, and a special anniversary edition of Alvarez amps will also be introduced this year. Only 650 of each of the two anniversary amps will be made. Each model will have a special anniversary band on the oak grill strip of each amp and will feature a special vintage-looking ivory vinyl covering. The CR212-AV Twin Twelve will carry a list price of $449.95 and feature 60 watts RMS, two 12 inch specially-designed speakers, reverb and channel switching. The Crate Sequential Cascading Gain will be included for tube type tonality. The CR-160AV commemorative Crate will list for $399.95 and feature 60 watts RMS with one 12 inch specially-designed speaker, reverb, channel switching and Sequential Cascading Gain.
For the other end — the input end — of the sound system, Shure Brothers Inc. have announced the return of its Green Bullet 520 microphone, but for its harmonica amplifying qualities, not for its original role as a dispatcher microphone. The 520 initially was in great demand as a base station paging and dispatching unit until it was replaced by the current Shure Model 450. However, shortly before the Green Bullet was due to disappear from the market-place, harmonica players discovered that it had fine tonal qualities for their instrument. With that use in mind, the new limited edition Green Bullet, designated 520D, is conveniently shaped to fit the cupped palm of a harmonica player while providing performance qualities that are ideal for both traditional and contemporary blues arrangements. The Green Bullet, which has a suggested list price of $80, is a dual impedance microphone and comes supplied with a 20 foot non-detachable, two-conductor shielded cable. The unit has a frequency response of 100 to 5,000Hz and comes as the head assembly only.
For AKG Acoustics Inc., the C-414EB Large Diaphragm Professional Studio Condenser Microphone has been extremely popular. Now AKG have developed a new version, the C-414EB/P48, which is designed to meet the high standards of PCM (pulse code modulation) digital recording technology which, in response to success by audiophile record labels, now is increasingly being used for classical, jazz and some popular music by the major record labels. This new addition to AKG's C-414 line has greatly improved dynamic range, an improved equivalent noise level and increased sensitivity. Supplied in satin-black chrome finish for 48 volt phantom powering only, it is available at a suggested list price of $750 on special order for delivery within 30 days.
Audio-Technica have added four models to their PRO-series microphones, all of them priced between the $45 and $215 suggested list prices of the original two models in the series — the PRO 1 and the PRO 5. According to Charlie Winkler, professional products national sales manager: "The four new models were created to fill a void in microphones for the buyer who, despite budget restrictions, requires rugged microphones offering high-performance characteristics."
The PRO 2 and PRO 3 have integral cables while the PRO 4H and PRO 4L have separate cables with XLR/A3F connectors. All four mics are dynamic types provided with an on/off switch. The PRO 2 is a Hi-Z unidirectional vocal/instrument model; the PRO 3 and PRO 4H are unidirectional Hi-Z vocal types, and the PRO 4L is a unidirectional Lo-Z vocal type. Suggested list prices are $62 and $97 respectively, for the PRO 2 and PRO 3 and $125 for both PRO 4 models.
While overall the musical instrument business has slowed, guitars haven't lost any of their popularity. Beginners, amateurs and professionals not only haven't lost any of their interest in the instrument but are still seeking to find newer and better guitars to meet their needs and interests. Guitar manufacturers, as a result, haven't slowed their activities and dozens of new models bearing such names as Gibson, Alvarez, Matao, Kaman, Dean, and Dobro have been introduced so far this year. Biggest news is the start of a new affiliation involving the Gibson Company and legendary country artist Chet Atkins. Since the middle 1950s, Atkins has been identified with Gretsch, some of whose models he has endorsed. Now he has switched his allegiance to Gibson who, in a collaboration between the singer-guitarist and the firm's research and development team under Bruce Bolen, has introduced the Chet Atkins model classical electric. The design is unique in that it is a 'solid body' classic instrument with built-in electronics for amplification. Acoustic resonance chambers are routed through a single cutaway mahogany body. The chambers are sealed with a spruce top and the guitar is finished in high gloss with multiple brown and cream coloured binding. The Chet Atkins model is available in two neck widths — the CE model neck is 1.814 inches wide at the nut and graduates to a width of 2.234 inches at the twelfth fret while the CE-C neck, which is designed to appeal to traditional classical guitarists, is graduated from a 2.0 width to a 2.420 width.
Another guitar which will appeal to country-oriented musicians is the Dobro Lap Steel which is being re-introduced by the Original Musical Instrument Co. Inc. Made of all hardwood materials and finished in a walnut/dark brown sunburst with a one-piece neck through the body, it is equipped with bronze anodized aluminium hardware and chrome-plated screws, individual machine heads, steel guitar pickup and tone/volume controls. The scale length is 23 inches. The 8-string model has a $450 suggested list price and the 10-string model lists at $480.
Kaman Music Distributors have introduced four new guitar models. The new Takamine Koa wood model acoustic, the F379, features Koa wood top, sides and two-piece back joined with inlaid natural wood marquetry, bound rosewood fingerboard, top and back, and deluxe individual machine heads with a 12:1 ratio. Kaman's three other new models are all acoustic electric cutaways. The J15E Jaxx has a fully-bound rosewood arched back with matching rosewood sides, arched top, Palathetic pickup system and antiqued tailpiece. The EF381M Jumbo, a close cousin to the J15E, is available in either maple or rosewood (EF381R) with spruce top and the Palathetic pickup system. The E9 nylon string is from the Hirade signature classic line and has the Palathetic nylon string pickup system.
A new series of five Alvarez acoustic electric fusion guitars, which blend a true acoustic sound with feedback free electronics, has been introduced by the St. Louis Music Supply Co. The fusion guitar has a cutaway body available in either the standard dreadnought thickness or a special 'thin-line' body for players who desire more of an electric guitar feel. An important feature of all five is a specially-contoured bowed back and internal lacquering which provide improved sound projection. A compensated saddle is included for proper string intonation. A balanced phase pickup, which requires no pre-amps, batteries or equaliser devices, produces a natural sound. A special EQ circuit, consisting of a treble/bass control and volume/presence control, is located on the upper bout of the new fusion models. The five models, which have varying woods, inlays and finishes, are the models 5071, 5072, 5073, 5074 and 5075 and the suggested list prices are $585, $595, $675, $685 and $750, respectively.
Six new guitars and three mandolins have been introduced by Matao Corp., bringing their total fretted offering to 63 models and finishes. The new ME-12 electric acoustic guitar, which incorporates the dreadnaught body design with a single cutaway and spruce top, includes a 14:1 gear ratio; an ivory-bound body, neck and sides; transducer with gain and EQ and choice of sunburst or natural spruce top. The ME-22 features a popular body design of solid mahogany and a single cutaway with an adjustable chrome-plated bridge, and stop tailpiece. Two humbucking pickups with exposed coils and individual volume and tone controls, together with a three-position switch for individual or simultaneous pickup operation, comprise the guitar's electronics.
Two of the three new mandolin models feature solid-spruce tops and show exceptional detail. Other features include maple backs and sides, an artist shape peghead, rosewood fingerboards, pearl inlays and bridge and saddle ivory bindings.
A small sized guitar, the Dean Baby, has been introduced by Dean Guitars Inc. While substantially smaller than standard guitars, it retains the standard 24% inch scale. The Dean Baby, which comes in V and Z body styles, features a two-piece body, glued-in neck, a specially made DiMarzio humbucking pickup and Grover tuning keys. Colours available are white, black and red. The suggested list price is $599.
An entirely new line of electric guitars and basses, Walker Guitars, has been introduced by BKL Music Products Inc. Manufactured in the firm's Neptune Plant, New Jersey, 35 miles south of Manhattan, the instruments feature a new concept in neck construction that should interest guitarists who have been plagued with problems of necks splitting, expanding, compressing and in other ways of losing their shape. Quarter-sawn hard maple is used for the back or shaped part of the neck matched with a synthetic fingerboard. A specially designed vertical dual-truss rod adds reinforcement. According to the manufacturers, this marriage of new and old technologies yields a neck which is extremely rigid and immune to many of the normal problems found in conventional necks. Walker guitars and basses are available in six different models, all of which feature brass hardware and various arrangements of pickups. The body shapes range in style from traditionally accepted shapes to classic contemporary ones. All models have Seymour Duncan pickups as optional equipment.
Manufacturers and companies mentioned:
AKG. (Contact Details).
Audio-Technica. J. H. Skewes.
BKL Music Products Inc., (Contact Details).
Dallas Music Industries, (Contact Details).
Dean Guitars Inc., (Contact Details).
Gibson. (Contact Details).
Kaman Music Distributors, (Contact Details).
Matao Corp., (Contact Details).
Original Musical Instrument Co. Inc., (Contact Details).
Peavey Electronics U.K., (Contact Details).
St. Louis Music Supply Co., (Contact Details).
Shure Electronics Ltd, (Contact Details).
Studiomaster. RSD, (Contact Details).
TEAC. Harman U.K., (Contact Details).
News by Jerry De Muth
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