New products from the States
The popularity of the portable 'slab' piano began with a smiling Billy Preston walking about the stage, pounding the Crumar hanging from his shoulders during the instrumental breaks in his vocal solos. Crumar has now introduced its most up-to-date version of the original slab piano played by Preston, Edgar Winters and others — The Roadrunner 3.
This 61-note keyboard features three piano voices — acoustic, clavichord and harpsichord — which can be played alone or in combination and also has a two-octave bass circuit which can be fed through a separate amplifier to give a stereo effect. In addition, each voice can be channelled through a built-in phaser with speed control which gives a fattened sound for more varied sound colour. Controls include pitch, volume and a wide-range tuning knob. The Road-runner 3 also comes with a music rack and a sustain pedal.
Other new compact keyboard units, if not quite as portable as the Roadrunners, have been introduced by Buchla, Korg, General Electro Music and Kawai. They range in price up to $10,500.
The top-priced Buchla 406 incorporates a five-octave, weighted action clavier. Six orchestrally differentiated voices can simultaneously be displayed, auditioned and edited through a musical score editor that functions in real time. A high resolution graphic display employs linear-time notation and instrument definitions, dynamics, tempi, registration and tunings are all completely programmable. The Buchla 406 can decode, display, and track a SMPTE time code signal, facilitating film, video and multitrack composition.
Employing three computers, the Buchla 406 assigns user communication, data handling and executive control to one, and processing of time-varying parametric data to another, while the third computer applies digital pipelined techniques to the generation of sound.
The instrument also offers dynamic waveshaping techniques, multiple complex envelope generation, pressure-sensitive joysticks, control voltage inter-connections, analog modifiers and a capacitance sensing technique to achieve accurate response to both force and pressure.
The Buchla 406, which has its circuitry on plug-in cards for easy expansion and servicing, also provides two high level music languages — MIDAS, which is most appropriate to those applications calling for relatively traditional keyboard organization, instrumental responses and scoring technique, and PATCH V, which is quite general, allowing the user to define the role of each individual key in terms of musical detail, form and/or structure.
The instrument, which comes in a hand-finished koa-wood case, can be divided into two sections for ease of transport and set-up.
Unicord has added two new electronic pianos to its Korg line — the Korg SP-80 Symphonic Piano and the Korg SP-80S Symphonic Piano with Strings. Each features a 76-note, dynamic-weighted, touch-sensitive keyboard with a front panel keyboard dynamics control that allows the performer to shape the keyboard's response to his own touch. Twin extended-range speakers provide stereo sound while a stereo headphone jack allows the user to play or practice late at night without disturbing others.
There are built-in stereo tremolo and chorus effects and a key transpose switch on both the SP-80 and SP-80S. The two instruments also offer six different piano voices, including electric piano, acoustic piano, vibes, harpsichord and clavichord, while the SP-80S also includes a string section that can be played separately from the piano section, or combined to play along with the piano section for layering effects. Individual note articulation allows each string note to attack and decay separately. The string section controls include two mixable voices, fast or slow attack, fast or slow sustain and a separate string volume control which allows the performer to mix strings with keyboard sounds in any desired proportion.
The GEM Insta Piano 73 from General Electro Music Corp. features a 73-note touch-sensitive keyboard and presets that include piano, electric piano, funky piano and harpsichord. The Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF), which can be automatically turned off by the SEC, makes a large number of special effects possible. Other features include tone, resonance, attack and volume controls, chorus and phaser animation, speed and depth controls on VCF modulation, built-in amplifier and speakers, and soft pedal and sostenuto pedal to control the VCF.
The GEM PK 4900 digital polyphonic synthesizer has a 49-note keyboard and a digital monophonic synthesizer with presets which can play polyphonically by using the Poly Mode control. Presets include synthy wah, reed, funky solo, jazz pulse, pop synthy, trombone, trumpet and pan flute, and effects are frequency modulation and filter modulation.
The Polytron section of the PK 4900 has polyphonic preset synthesizer with Brass I, Brass II, Horn, Chorus and Vibrato Delay effects, while Instastrings with polyphonic sections play viola and violin ensemble effects with built-in modulation. The Solo Ensemble Control (SEC) automatically cancels Polytron and Instastring sections unless three notes are played simultaneously. Other controls include potentiometers for volume, tone, string attack and tune control. Outputs provide both mono and stereo amplification.
Kawai has brought across the Pacific its SX-210, a 61-note polyphonic programmable digital synthesizer with a suggested retail price of $1,600.
The SX-210's keyboard assigner features chord memory and eight-note polyphonic, four-note polyphonic or mono. Also featured are continuous editing of on/off control sand adjustable parameters, with the adjustable parameters settable via a 99-step increment control with instant readout on a two-digit, seven-segment LED display. In addition to 32 memories, there is a tape interface which allows the performer to record, load and verify any combination of memory banks. Individual memory settings can be named through a unique voice identification feature. Activating the keyboard's touch button turns the normal keyboard into the data entry mode so that each key will yield one of 51 alphanumeric characters. Readout for the voice identifier is a 10-segment six-character LED display.
Keyboards aren't the only compact instruments around. Kaman has expanded its Stuntman line of mini guitars which will now also be available in Cherry Red and Tobacco Sunburst finishes. New models in standard black finish also will be introduced later this year.
A new line of guitars, the Roadstar II Series, has been introduced by Ibanez. Each guitar features advanced machine heads and string guides, 'Dead End' strap posts, 'Sure-Grip II' control knobs and Ibanez's 'Hard Rocker-Pro' vibrato bridge system.
One of the new Roadstar II Series guitars is the Ibanez RS100, a 25½-inch instrument with a solid maple neck and ash body. Available in either Brown Sunburst or Natural finishes, the RS100 also features three 'SB' pickups, a five-way selector switch, a phase switch and volume and tone controls.
Guild has introduced two new guitars, the EG-50 and the EG-60, and a new electric bass, the X-702. The Madeira EG-50 features three specially designed single coil pickups, selector switch, phase switch and volume and tone controls. The EG-60 offers identical styling and hardware and electronics configurations but utilizes two humbucking pickups instead of a single-coil pickup. The Guild X-702 bass, which has the same body shape as the X-79 guitar, features include two Guild DP-8 eight-pole pickups, a pickup selector switch, a BT-4 bridge, two tone controls and 22:1 gear ratio. A single pickup version, the X-701, is also offered. Finishes for both versions include Candy Apple Red, Metallic Blue, White, Black and Black Sparkle.
Electra Phoenix Guitars has introduced a professional technology series of electric guitars that feature special high-tech pickup arrangements, two dual coil Super D pickups, one single coil Super D pickup, black high-tech hardware, black epoxy coated tremolo bridge and a red gloss finish. Suggested retail price for the Model 185RD is $369.50.
Sierra has introduced its Cyber Series of pickups for guitar, pedal steel, bass and other string instruments. They may be mounted to most instruments without the use of screws or clamps, and may be used in conjunction with, in addition to, or in place of existing pickups. According to Sierra, the low impedance differential designs have resulted in high common mode rejection, flat frequency response and top line driving capability. The Cyber Series pickups for guitars are available for 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 string standard guitars that use steel strings.
Roland has expanded its Boss family of effects devices with the addition of the new Boss CE-3 Chorus which combines the compact size, improved signal-to-noise ratio, dual powering options and FET switching of its highly popular Boss CE-2 with the stereo split capability of the original Boss CE-1.
The CE-3, which can accept a mono signal input and create a stereo effect through its two outputs, features delay rate and depth controls and has a switch for adjusting the stereo mode of operation. In Mode I, both the A and B output jacks have an effect plus direct signal, but with the B output adding the effect signal in reverse polarity. In Mode II, the effect signal is assigned to the A output only, and the B output remains unmodified. Both outputs have a 90dB signal-to-noise ratio.
Finally, for those interested in high gain guitar amplifiers, Randall Instruments has introduced the RG40-112C as a follow-up to its highly successful RG80-112SC switchable high gain amplifier. This 40 watt RMS high gain guitar amp features an all discrete FET pre-amp with an input impedance of one megohm, an input sensitivity of less than 1mV, footswitchable gain boost of 15dB and post master gain control for maximum tonal range. In addition, it has footswitchable reverb, an extension speaker jack, a signal output jack and Randall's new Constant Current Power Amplifier.
The RG-40 is also available as a Power Head only for use in conjunction with Randall's new R-212TC and R-212BC mini stack cabinets.
Manufacturers and companies mentioned:
Buchla & Associates (Contact Details).
Crumar, (Contact Details).
Electra Phoenix Guitars, (Contact Details).
General Electro Music Corp., (Contact Details).
Guild Guitars, (Contact Details).
Ibanez, (Contact Details).
Kaman Music Distributors, (Contact Details).
Kawai Corp, (Contact Details).
Randall Instruments Inc., (Contact Details).
Roland UK, (Contact Details).
Sierra Guitars, (Contact Details).
Rose-Morris/Korg, (Contact Details).