New keyboards, guitars and effects in the US
Synthesisers, especially polyphonic synthesisers, have been costly investments for musicians who are just getting started or who want to add a synthesiser to the multitude of instruments used by their bands in order to increase the voices and colours.
But as with everything else electronic or computerised, prices have been falling and among the latest synthesisers are instruments that range in price from Star Instruments' electronic wind synthesiser, Star-wind, priced at $195, to Korg's six-voice polyphonic PS-61 synthesiser at about $1500. In between are instruments from Syntauri and Roland.
Starwind, which responds to both touch and breath intensity, features a five octave range. Two left hand operated keys transpose the instrument by one or two octaves while internal tuning can transpose the Starwind an additional two octaves. A third key is used to select the pitch source and the two remaining keys are used to brighten the sound by breath controlling the synthesiser's filter or oscillator waveform.
Trombone slides are available using a glide control, breath can produce stacatto notes or swelling passages and pitches can be bent. Options include an FM transmitter for $19 and a custom case and recharger, also available for $19, for use instead of the 9 volt battery.
Korg's PS-61 is a six-voice, two oscillator per voice, programmable polyphonic synthesiser that features a 64 program memory with full edit and program move capabilities, polyphonic and chord memory/unison playing modes, high speed tape interface with interactive display, and a versatile arpeggiator with memory latch mode.
The PS-61's 12 digital controlled oscillators combine the full sonic capabilities of regular oscillators with the superior pitch stability of digital control. The arpeggiator automatically memorises and sequentially plays note and chord sequences in three different patterns and ranges and can also be synced to external devices such as rhythm machines, sequencers, footswitches and other synthesisers.
In addition, a four-way joystick controls pitch bends, vibrato and filter tremolo effects; poly, chord memory/unison and hold key assign modes provide parallel harmonies and monophonic bass and solo-ing sounds; and release and program up footswitch jacks offer foot controlled sustaining and program change capabilities. Yet the synthesiser weighs only 24 pounds.
New effects devices have been introduced by Pearl International and Roland Corp, while MCI has introduced a new Sanox unit that provides power for up to four effects devices.
Pearl's new Sound Choice series consists of a chorus ensemble, an analogue delay and a phaser. The CE-22 Chorus Ensemble features, dual-programmability with stereo output, user-variable chorus rates and delayed vibrato which can be varied in rate, depth and delay time.
The AD-33 Analogue Delay is a complete electronic delay device that uses BBD (Bucket Brigade Device), provides stereo output and a wide range of time variation effects such as delay, echo, reverberation and voice doubling, and reduces poor transient response.
The PH-44 Phaser offers slow phasing rates (0.3 to 0.8Hz), fast phasing rates (6 to 8Hz) and rotating speaker effect. The rate change of the rotating speaker effect is not instantaneous, but winds up and winds down.
Roland's Boss DM-300 Delay Machine is an analogue echo delay unit for chorus and echo effects that produces its delay effect by means of a noise-reduced BBD circuit while a frequency controlled filter creates natural reverberation decays. The DM-300 can also be switched to create a chorus effect that has its own set of controls independent of the echo section to facilitate switching during a performance. The unit features two inputs, one strictly for microphone and the other for either microphone or instrument, each with its own input volume control.
MCI's Sanox 98SX Pedal Driver provides power supply for up to four 9 volt effects devices which have AC adaptor jacks and features an LED indicator. The unit provides a maximum of 200mA current with less than 50mV ripple. One connecting cable comes with the 98SX which has a suggested retail price of $45.
Roland's Boss J-44 Multiple Jack is designed to simplify the interface between professional musical equipment and home audio equipment. The J-44 has two channels, each of which contains four jack connections (two phone, one RCA and one mini-phone), making possible almost any kind of connection. With the J-44, a monaural instrument signal is easily converted into two channels for connection to a stereo cassette deck, or other two channel pieces of equipment.
Meanwhile, Fender, Pedulla, Hamer and Melobar haven't forgotten that instrument that is so basic to rock, the guitar, and have introduced new models.
Fender has added three new guitars to its Bullet line, and redesigned two earlier Bullet models. They also now have two Bullet basses. All are aimed at the younger player or semi-professional who, according to marketing director Dan Smith, "probably covet a Telecaster or Stratocaster or Precision Bass, but can't quite afford one". Suggested retail prices range from $259 to $349.
New are the Bullet H-1 which features one humbucking pickup with a coil splitter switch and a one-piece high-strength powder coated aluminium bridge and pickguard; the Bullet S-3 which features three single-coil pickups, a 5-position pickup switch, Strato-caster-style bridge and laminated pick-guard; the Bullet H-2 which features two humbucking pickups, a 3-position pickup selector switch, two coil-splitter switches, Stratocaster-style bridge and laminated pickguard.
Redesigned were the Bullet, which features two single-coil pickups and a one-piece high-strength powder coated aluminium bridge and pickguard, and the Bullet S-2, which features two single-coil pickups, chrome-plated Stratocaster-style bridge and laminated pickguard.
The new Bullet Bass B-34 offers a 34-inch scale length and full-size body while the new Bullet Bass B-30 utilises a shorter 30-inch scale and slightly smaller body.
Pedulla's new MVP Rock guitar features a harmonically positioned Bartolini LC humbucker with silicon steel laminations, high-powered ceramic magnets and special winding techniques for added resonance. The pickup also has a unique four-position rotary switch which allows the player to choose the series or parallel mode, or to use either of the coils individually. The MVP Rock also features a single-piece neck design and body of select maple, an easily accessible 24-fret ebony fingerboard, brass nut, and Schaller bridge and tailpiece. Suggested price is $825.
Melobar Guitars' new SB-10 model line features an innovation that has nothing to do with the pickup, bridge, or neck construction. Rather, they offer a soft, flexible body that will conform to the contours of the player's body, rather than force the player's body to conform to it. Coverings for the soft body guitars range from conservative leather and crushed velvet to dramatic tiger and zebra designs.
Finally, Hamer has introduced the Phantom A5, one of two guitars Andy Summers has been trying out, and Paul Hamer has been redesigning, since early 1982. The Phantom A5 — the "5" comes from the fact it was the fifth prototype designed, built and tested by the two while working together — features a new nut, the Lubritrak Nut, which is made of a highly resonant material permanently impregnated with a lubricant which, Hamer says, eliminates nut friction, a major cause of tuning problems. Designed for both studio and stage performing, the Phantom A5 permits sounds to be changed quickly while performing.
Manufacturers and companies mentioned:
CBS Fender, (Contact Details).
Hamer Guitars, (Contact Details).
Korg/Rose Morris, (Contact Details)5.
MCI, Inc., (Contact Details).
Melobar Guitars Inc., (Contact Details).
Pearl International Inc., (Contact Details).
M. V. Pedulla Guitars, (Contact Details).
Star Instruments Inc., (Contact Details).