Latest equipment news from the States
You've only had your new guitar two months and already you've changed the pickup and now you want to change some of the electronics.
Well, Ron Lukowski and Steven Menconi, like thousands of other guitarists, have gone through the same thing many times. Now they're starting their own company, LM Guitars, to fill a market niche somewhere between the mass-produced sameness of regular factory guitars and the totally individual uniqueness of custom guitars.
"Why pay twice for something?" asked Ron. "Why buy a Gibson and then put the Duncan pickup on it you want? We've created a hand crafted guitar that will bridge the gap between stock and custom guitars."
What Ron and Steve have done is designed their own solid body electric guitar which comes in two different body styles. The guitarist then chooses all the hardware and electronics as well as the finish. The models are made of hard rock maple and have rosewood fingerboards. But Ron and Steve will not make the hardware and electronics themselves. Instead, the hardware and electronics will be selected from those made by other companies and the two have been in touch with some 50 manufacturers to arrange direct wholesale purchases.
"We ask guitarists questions such as, what sound are you looking for? What kind of pickups do you like? Who makes your favourite vibrato? Is there specific machine head that you like? Do you prefer jumbo or thin frets?" Ron said.
Even if a guitarist selects "top-of-the-line" hardware, Ron and Steve say they could be able to finish the guitar for less than $1,000.
They've dubbed their line the Blueprint Series and say it will be introduced in January. Meanwhile they work part-time at two different music stores in the suburbs of Chicago, build more guitar bodies, and play in local rock bands.
Ron plays bass as well as guitar and his new electric bass appears, at first look, to be a Steinberger, until one notices the word "Alien" on the body. It's one of a growing number of near-copies of the Steinberger bass and the Steinberger guitar.
Although the Steinberger bass has been out for several years, the Steinberger guitar was first introduced at last June's National Association of Music Merchants Music & Sound Expo at Chicago's McCormick Place. By the first weeks of September, imitation Steinberger guitars were on the market.
"We got our first Steinberger guitar imitation in the store I work at in early September," commented Ron. "Kramer, Hondo and a couple other companies make them."
Ron's Alien bass is made by Hondo and has a list price of $390, compared with $1,800 for the real Steinberger. It also has an ash body and maple neck, while the Steinberger is crafted out of a blend of fibre-reinforced epoxy. The fingerboard is imitation forced epoxy. The fingerboard is imitation ebony and the neck has an aluminium shim instead of a rod. Clearly, all that it has in common with the real thing is the physical design, and the balance that comes with it.
Fretted Industries has introduced a new semi-hollow quitar, the Washburn HB-35, which co-owner Oscar Schmidt says avoids the 'wolf tones' or dead spots usually associated with the temperamental instrument. Wolf tones occur when body resonance cancels out certain frequencies, which leads to dead spots at certain places on the fingerboard. For increased tonal shading, the HB-35 features a two-band parametric EQ which is powered by two 9-volt batteries. Select, highly flamed, book-matched maple in eight ply binding is utilized for both the back and top while the five piece neck construction uses rock maple and rosewood laminates. To provide an extra kick for more aggressive playing styles, the strings are fixed through the body. The suggested list price for the HD-35 is $899.
A new version of the famous 'Rockman' headphone practice amp is now available called the Boss HA-5 Play Bus with Boss RH-11M Headphone/Mic.
Two musicians can hook up and play together with the HA-5 and the addition of the headphone/mic enables them to converse with one another. When practicing, the HA-5 can be interfaced with a cassette player or rhythm machine for the accompaniment. And when used between an instrument and amplifier, the HA-5 becomes an effects box suitable for live performance. A full Stereo Chorus has adjustable rate and depth while a 35 mSec stereo short Delay furnishes a doubling effect. The tone can be adjusted with individual bass and treble controls. There's even a built-in fast response noise reduction circuit. All connections can be made simply with a ¼-inch patch cord.
Microphone volume on the headphone/mic is turned off when it is raised or lowered out of speaking position so that undesired sounds are not picked up. The retail price is $180 for the HA-5 and $90 for the RH-11M.
For more traditional amplification, Ampeg has a new line of lead and bass model amplifiers with power ranging from 10 watts through 60 watts rms. The 30 watt (EG-30L) and 60 watt (EG-60L) models include full voice reverb systems while the bass models (designated EG-30B and so on) are equipped with Line Out facilities and extra pull-switch tonal variations and 15-inch speakers. Other features on various models include 'over-drive' type master volume circuits, middle controls, and presence controls.
For greater ruggedness, all amps in the EG series include poly covers, deep textured black vinyl, steel reinforced strap handles with chrome end caps, full-wrap black corners and a ¾ inch thick cabinet. Prices begin at about $100.
Ampeg also has a new addition to its "V" series line of tube amplifiers, the Ampeg V7SC, with a conservative rating of 100 watts. Features include remote switching of each channel, reverb, a 3-way foot controller with three LED indicators, dual-in-line, full length, EQ shift, mid boost, and separate pre/post volume control and master volume control.
Both Rane Corporation and Biamp Systems introduced new equalizers recently, the Rane Model RE 27 combines a precision third-octave equalizer with a third-octave real-time analyzer housed in a single 3½-inch high rack-mount steel chassis. The RE 27's display consists of three LEDs above each equalizer slider - red, green and yellow from top down. After activating the built-in pink noise generator, each slider is moved up or down until the green LED above it is lit. When all LEDs are green, the system is normalized within +/-1 or +/-3 dB accuracy, switchable.
Additional features on the Rane RE 27 include a switchable curve select for "Flat" or "House Curve" for smaller clubs and lounges, calibrated flat-response condenser microphone and transformerless auto unbalanced/balanced/floating input and outputs. Suggested retail price is $799.
Biamp's new professional equalizer are the EQ/140 parametric, the EQ/220 graphic and the EQ/230 two-third octave graphic.
The EQ/140 is a single-channel, four-band parametric equalizer engineered to function at very low levels of noise and distortion.
The EQ/220 is a 10-band is a 10-band professional graphic equalizer designed for portable or fixed sound reinforcement, studio recording, broadcast, monitor speakers or home hi-fi use. Features include gyrator-simulated inductor circuitry, EQ bypass switching, two independent channels and overload peak indicators.
The EQ/230 is a 30-band two-third octave graphic equalizer designed for professional applications. Features include 10-segment LED ladder on each channel, tape monitoring pre/post, overload peak indicators and floating and balanced circuitry on all inputs and outputs.
A solid state digital delay loop, with a delay range from one-fourth second to four seconds all at full 16 kHz bandwidth, is featured on the new Delta Lab Echotron ADM-4096. The unit also offers infinite repeat capabilities, sound-on-sound and can be synchronized to most drum machines.
Polytone Musical Instruments has introduced a new model of its single unit Modulator/Octave Divider which has twice as many stages as its predecessor and offers a 90° phase shift rather than a 180° phase shift, for a smoother Doppler effect in its modulator mode. The modulator can be switched on and off remotely and a speed pedal is available to alter the speed of the clock while an instrument is being played. The octave divider, which is controlled by a master remote footswitch box, allows instruments to sound one octave below the note being played.