Music companies continue to develop and release new synthesisers and electronic keyboards faster than confectioners come out with new candies. And although the music products are just as sweet, the prices are a bit more steep, ranging upwards from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Two new models recently came from the Korg lines - one a keyboard with various piano voicings and the other a polyphonic synthesiser.
The EPS-1 Korg Strings Keyboard is a 76-note, 6½ octave portable instrument with six different voices, selected by LED push button switching, that range from rich acoustic piano sounds to mellow electric piano, vibraphone and funky 'clav' sounds. The EPS-1 also offers string layering effects. A front panel variable keyboard dynamics control allows the performer to shape the weighted keyboard response to his or her own touch. A built-in three-band equaliser tailors the sound for any musical situation and a special overtone boost control renders a totally different sound by variably emphasising the harmonics portion of the selected voice.
The separately articulated string section features touch sensitive string attack time and strings may be layered with piano sounds or used separately. Other features include a key transpose switch and stereo tremolo and chorus effects, with variable speed and intensity controls.
The Korg X927-B Trident Mark II features the same programmable polyphonic eight-voice capabilities with triple-layered sounds as its predecessor. Totally independent synthesiser, string and brass sections, split keyboard, built-in flanger, four-way joystick controller and stereo outputs are also featured. Added to this new model is more programming capability, double the amount of program storage space, and full edit and tape interface capability. Also included is an all new synthesiser section featuring two ADSR envelope generators per voice, programmable attenuator and auto damping, plus improved 24dB/octave filtering and enhanced signal-to-noise characteristics. The memory has been expanded to hold up to 32 programs. The tape interface operates in eight seconds and has partial load capability to allow mixing or programs from different tapes. Price is $4,595.
Synthia, a computer-based electronic keyboard instrument designed for both composers and performers, has been introduced by Adaptive Systems. Programming can be done three different ways - each key can be programmed individually, or one or two keys can be programmed and the computer will then automatically program all the other notes. The single 61-note polyphonic keyboard is both pressure and velocity sensitive and can control voices and effects on key up as well as key down. Its eight-voice system can be expanded to 16 keyboards and 64 voices, with eight harmonics per voice.
Each voice may also be assigned a full range of effects including envelope, noise, vibrato, tremolo, portamento, pitch offset and a new ASI development, Time-Slicing Voicing, which allows the performer to change the character of the note in segments as small as 10 milliseconds each. Under this change, which can be subtle or radical, a note can become several different instruments as it is held.
A wide range of string and chorus effects, including an accurate duplication of the old tape loop keyboard string sound, can be produced on Howard W. Cano's new electronic string synthesiser. Each key on this completely polyphonic instrument has its own waveform generator, envelope generator and VCA. Other features of these individually hand built and tested synthesisers include a specially designed chorus circuit, two VCFs, adjustable vibrato, an octave switch, a sustain pedal and a hand crafted, oiled walnut case. The $1,750 price includes a flight case and one year warranty.
Hohner's new P100 portable electronic keyboard can be powered by either AC current or batteries. Through its self-contained speaker, this 49-key instrument delivers 12 different pre-set sounds, including Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Accordion, Vibraphone, Strings, Brass, Clarinet, Oboe, Guitar, Trumpet and Flute. Its auto-rhythm capability produces the sound of drums, including snare and hi-hat, and other percussion instruments, providing waltz, rhumba, bossa nova, swing, disco, rock and slow rock rhythms. Other features include auto-arpeggio, single finger chords, auto-bass/chord with built-in memory, bass variations and separate volume control. The suggested price is $695.
Moog, which has introduced several synthesisers during the past year, is now making available a series of artists programs for one of them, The Source. The digitally recorded cassettes for this micro-processor controlled, programmable monophonic synthesiser contains pre-sets as programmed by such artists as Jan Hammer, Devo and Gary Wright, along with written explanations and suggested applications.
As keyboardists take advantage of this growing variety of instruments and add to the keyboards they play, there is an increasing need for support racks and companies continue to meet this need. While some racks stand on the floor, the latest from Ultimate Support Systems, the KS-88 Keyboard Stacker Kit, is an adjustable rack for stacking keyboards on top of a piano, organ or synthesiser. Standing 13 inches high, the Stacker Kit accepts either one or two tiers and allows infinite height and tilt adjustments. The base is 12 inches but can be angled to fit on instruments with a top less than 12 inches deep. Although the KS-88 kit weighs only 1¼ pounds, it can safely hold up to 100 pounds of equipment. Vinyl feet protect the piano top and also hold the rack securely in place.
The Echo Chorus Vibrato (ECV) and the 747MS Delay are the latest guitar effects from Morley. The ECV is a foot switch control mechanism for a wide range of delay times from 15 to 300 milliseconds. Additional controls are options of a repeat throughout the delay range and a mixture control for a louder or softer echo. The chorus vibrato mode offers more and continuous variability determined by the position of the pedal.
The 747MS is a delay echo reverb system capable of eliminating echo effects caused by distance between speakers in large concert halls, open arenas and other expansive locations. It may be used with any amplified instrument, PA system or microphone. Input, delay and repeat controls offer added adaptability.
To go along with all these new accessories guitar manufacturers keep turning out those instruments in an array of designs. Silver Street recently added three new guitars to their line of fretted instruments. The Taxi features a full 24¾ inch scale, 22 fret rosewood fingerboard, brass nut. balanced 2⅛ inch thick maple body, four bolt maple neck, Schaller bridge, Gotoh Gut tuners, Bourns master volume and tone controls and a choice of Dimarzio pickups. The control cavity is completely shielded with 10 mm lead foil.
The futuristic Cobra's specs are identical except that its maple body is only 1¾ inch thick.
The versatile Spitfire, a traditionally styled double cutaway with a modern flair in body designs, offers nine distinct sounds which are achieved using both three position pickup and coil tap switches. Its maple body is 11 inches wide by 1¾ inches thick for sustain and comfortable performance. Other specs are as for the Taxi and Cobra. All Silver Street guitars are finished with nine coats of lacquer and are available in Silver, Dark Blue, Steel Blue, Gold Top, Green, Champagne, Mercedes Red and Apple Red in metallic colours, plus Sky Blue, Yellow, Turquoise, Black, White, Red and Orange Red In addition custom colours are available.
The popular Flying-V design has been adopted by Melobar Guitars for its Power-Slide series to provide slide and steel players with dramatic stage appearance and mobility. The tilt-neck design enables a performer, using "over-the top" barring with precision control, to play slide in either a sitting or standing position. Other features include two pickups with three-way switch control, Grover tuning machines, chrome-plated brass hardware, standard 10 strings with custom 6 and 8 strings available, and bridge and nut mounted on continuous hardwood stem for added sustain. Suggested retail prices range from $675 to $850, with custom models priced up to $1,200.
Sierra Guitars of California has turned Excalibur from a sword into an "axe", for that's what it has named its new line of guitars and basses. Crafted from top exotic hardwoods for tonal content and structural integrity and designed for superb balance and playability, every Excalibur model has a three-piece laminated neck which goes through the body, 24 frets, Schaller tuners, precision-made chrome-plated solid brass bridges, dual acting stainless steel truss rod and high quality pickups, some of them specially designed for the series.
Personally made, handcrafted custom guitars are usually acoustic models, but Michael Jacobson-Hardy, working in the mountains of western Massachusetts, constructs electric as well as acoustic guitars, tailoring the electronics to individual needs and desires. All details of construction, including body shape, finish and wood, can be specified; woods available for both acoustic and electric instruments include flamed, curly or bird's-eye maple, rosewood, mahogany, koa, walnut, Sitka and European spruce. No plastic is used anywhere.
The new S-500 electric solid body guitar from Leo Fender's G&L Music Sales incorporates three patented single-coil pickups, a five-position selector switch and G&L's patented vibrato. The selector switch allows the performer to choose single coil position on either the rhythm, centre or lead pickup. In addition, two humbucking positions are available by combining the centre and lead pickups or the centre and rhythm pickups. Controls are volume, treble and bass. The S-500 is available with maple or ebony fingerboards and in a selection of nine different colours.