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Article from International Musician & Recording World, September 1985

No, snippets aren't a tasty cereal snack at all. They're what this bit is full of


Gladden All Over



Guitar model's own

Every guitar company wants their instruments to be played by the stars, valuable advertising you see. Dave Gladden is different. A chum from way back wanted a guitar made, no problem. That chum is doing very nicely now thank you, you may know him — Nik Kershaw. Dave is also doing OK, he's not as famous as his chum but he doesn't want to be, in fact he doesn't advertise his wares and believes, "people will find me if they want me".

Judging by the amount of work Mr Gladden has at present his methods cannot be questioned, and his techniques typify that of the custom guitar builder. He has no set shapes, he'll build you anything you want if he thinks it will work. He does have some very interesting things up his sleeve, notably the use of phenolic resin fingerboards either fretless or fretted combined with flamed and bird's eye maple which he imports himself from the States.

A recent development is a passive two control Eq designed primarily for Strats but which can be used on any electric. The two controls work together to drastically alter the sound of the pickups. At an extreme setting the twin filter system produces a sound like a phaser without the oscillation. Dave has promised to send one for an in-depth check in the near future. The system also incorporates very fine click-stops which enable you to finely set the two pots for extremely subtle tone settings. This tone system will be available as a retro-fit for a round the extremely affordable price of £25.

Dave's background in live sound engineering has resulted in his concern for excellent sounding instruments but that is not to say that electronics are his main bent. The woodworking on his guitars is superb, and like his personal manner, is very precise and well thought out.

Prices for a Gladden guitar or bass start around £375 and interested parties should contact him on (Contact Details). As with most small makers Dave also takes on repairs and improvements with equal care and attention. DB



Beatbox



The old Dr Beat has been superseded by a new more sophisticated medic with a digital read-out for Tempo and time signature. It still has the same click facilities as before with faders for crotchets, quavers, semiquavers and triplets, but it's now possible to ascertain a tempo (and get a digital read-out), by tapping a button in time with the music. (The Dr. Beat will also give you an average tempo if you tap on for a further bar). Once you know the tempo's value, simply press buttons until that number appears in the window. Down and Up buttons are fitted which will advance or retard the tempo by one number, if you want to go more quickly to a new tempo, you simply hold down the relevant button first then press the one which controls the opposite function.

These push-buttons replace the old rotary, radio-dial-type tempo control of the DB 33 and allow the machine to go faster and slower than before. Obviously there's a speaker to allow you to hear the metronome as well as a headphone socket. There's also a volume control slider for overall level and another called beat level which will change the volume of the downbeat tone. This downbeat by the way shows up as a flash on an LED whilst alongside it, another light will flash the other beats of the bar. These beats can be changed by the beat control button which goes from 1 to 6 to setup different time signatures which will be shown digitally in the LCD window.

It's simple to set up polyrhythms by simple use of the faders and this of course makes it a very handy practice tool.

Because of its tap facility to enable us to find and then recall tempos accurately, Dr Beat 66 (for this is the name of the beast) would be of tremendous benefit for studio players and their producers. It could also double as a click track and if you ask it nicely it will give you an A440 tone at the press of a button. Like most Roland products an AC adaptor socket is incorporated to save buying those batteries used by those drumming bunnies. BH

The Boss Dr Beat (DB66) costs £83 inc VAT



The lasting Friendchip


The Friendchip That Everyone Needs



The Friendchip SMPTE Reading Clock which, from its arrival onto the market, has been nothing less than a godsend to anyone using a variety of differently specified sequencers and drum machines has recently had two new developments available through Syco systems. The SRC which reads and generates SMPTE code (a tape code first used in video) was designed with the idea of being an intermediary between programmable machines whose driving codes were different, and can thus read or generate virtually every type of trigger code used by the various manufacturers today. In addition the 'intelligent' nature of the SMPTE code enables cue and delay type data to be programmed into the unit, and also means that tracks do not have to be started from the beginning whilst a band or musician is doing overdubs, all of which make recording of modern music a great deal less problemmatical. The SRC has made possible much music by UB40, Eurythmics, Scritti Politti and Stewart Copeland to name but a few. The unit has as much application in live work as it does in the studio and is an indispensable feature to look for in any studio that hopes to cater for electronic or drum machine based musicians.

With their eyes fixed on the constantly changing face of music technology Friendchip based the SRC on software and early buyers of the unit can now benefit from their foresight with the arrival of a software upgrade which enables the SRC to read and generate every SMPTE format — 24/25 (EBU) 30 drop frame and 30 non drop frame. The software accommodates 32 cue points and 8 programmable tempo changes and this data can be stored to tape via the SMPTE in and out jacks. A fully specified MIDI clock output is also provided and the update is retrofittable to existing units.

The other development, which represents a big advance in humanizing sequencer based music is the long awaited SRC input module which will not only read any click or FSK input, but can also read and lock to any "natural" drum track. The module enables sequencers to "breathe" with a recorded drum track and also provides audio to trigger conversion and enables punch in even when working without SMPTE.

No doubt these developments will keep the Friendchip firmly in the forefront of the few existing modules of this type and will continue to transform sequencer music from a science into an art. RW



Entwistle's Bass Tactics



Spiderman spills the beans

If you took the Who apart piece by piece, first chopping off Roger Daltrey's yelping vocals then amputating Pete Townshend's crash-chord guitar and finally silencing the pounding drum assault of either Moon or Jones, the band would still be unmistakably, recognisable.

Because the driving force was the stolid form of John Entwistle. His basslines covered all the ground from earthshaking rumble to twanging lead and crunching chords. And his hugely loud four-fingered attack brought the electric bass upfront and, as all those Rock History books would have it, 'virtually redefined the role of the bass guitar in modern Rock music'.

So now he's recorded a set (two, to be precise) of tuition tapes which, with their accompanying booklet, promise to give you the inside information on how to emulate big loud John. So, combing my little pointed beard, adjusting my spider pendant and plugging in my Explorer-shaped Alembic, I thought I'd give it a try.

First impressions were... well, the three-minute bass solo at the beginning of the tape certainly impressed the neighbours, although it initially confused me as I thought maybe I was supposed to follow it. But when it stopped and a meek voice said "Hi. I'm John Entwistle," I realised that the display of virtuosity was merely showing off rather than showing you how. The advice given thereafter, however, was useful — all about setting octaves, tuning and so on — and the booklet goes into the subject of electronics, strings, basses and amps in great and pleasing detail. A few "less" of the "quotation" "marks" might not go "amiss", though, "John".

Despite occasional fluctuations in sound quality and tone throughout, the exercises and tricks shown were useful and would be extremely handy to throw in as fills and flashy bits for the player that already has a good grasp of the basics. Stuff like harmonics, righthand tapping, chords, slapping, string bending — they were all there for the trainee bass soloist. But — and this must be emphasised most strongly — these tapes are not for the player who's just bought his first Kay bass and practice amp, no matter how Who-fixated they may be. The tone is advanced and quite specialised. You won't get a grasp of how to play any other way than the thunderous continual-solo technique that made Entwistle's name, so look elsewhere for a wide coverage of basic bass.

And talking of tone, the sound of John is no doubt excellent when it belts off a stadium stage at millions of watts, but when you're trying to pick out the individual notes from his flurries of super-fast hammer-ons, pulloffs and string taps a little less distortion would't be bad. It could be argued that his whole technique relies on volume and the sustained, singing tone you can only achieve through having an amp set clean for the low frequencies and one driving the highs dirtily, but it makes the speedier lines mush into a roar punctuated with occasional clangs. Confusing if you're attempting to pick out the finer nuances of his style.

But let's not get too picky. Anyone who's spent twenty-odd years surrounded by smashing instruments, flying mikes and hurtling bits of drumkit should be allowed a few foibles. I would heartily recommend these tapes to any bassist who wants to expand his role from dull booming root-notes to the-front of the band: particularly the Rockers, who could suddenly find themselves able to fill space as well as a rhythm guitarist, swap lines with the lead guitarist, and generally make their band's sound a lot larger.

Whether you think they're worth £21.40 — although that's only a little more than a decent set of strings these days — depends on whether you're a big fan of lead bass guitar. For low-register extroverts, they'll be a must. CM

Hotlicks John Entwistle Bass Tapes are available from Labtek International, Music Products Division, (Contact Details). RRP: £21.40



Pro-Plus



Go Pro

In the April '85 IM I took a close look at the Pro Series GP-2 Steinberger guitar; however the Bass version could not be missed, as anything that Mr Steinberger produces is definitely worth a look.

The Pro Series then to re-cap is an attempt for Steinberger to offer a mid-priced instrument with a wooden body and moulded composite bolt-on neck.

The XP-2 has many different features from its more expensive elder brother. Firstly the moulded neck is bolted to the body with four Allen-keyed bolts sunk directly into the body. Although the scale length and twin octave range of the neck is the same as the XL the neck joins the body at the 19th fret. However the 'V' shape of the body still allows easy access to the top frets. The round feel of the neck is initially lumpy but easy to play — the fretting is typically superb. The double ball strings fitted on this sample don't really do justice to the potential of the instrument, though.

The bridge and tuning assembly has gone through some minor changes too. The four saddles are still locked at the inside of the bass with an Allen-keyed grub screw but now the intonation is adjusted at the front of each saddle.

The famous tuning system differs only in the design of the cover plate which is no longer removable from the front. The action of the 40:1 ratio tuners was typically smooth and precise.

All the electronics are mounted on a scratchplate held to the body with a rather unnecessary number (14) of screws. The pickups are high-impedance EMG-HZB humbuckers wired through two volume controls plusa master volume.

One of the neatest features is the flip-out leg rest which deserves an award in itself for being so simple and effective.

The XP-2 retains the characteristic Steinberger sound, a clear clean tone which really allows this bass to cut through but without sounding overtly 'twangy'. I had no trouble finding a wide range of tones from this bass; it just illustrates the importance of having an instrument with such natural sustain as opposed to trying to compensate with a mass of electronics.

A faultless instrument in all respects (barring rather duff strings) and although obvious corners have to be cut when trying to produce a lower price instrument it's to Steinberger's credit that they chose to re-design the instrument to incorporate cheaper production techniques and materials as opposed to putting out a less than satisfactory bass with the excuse, "Well you can't have everything". DB



All Hands On Neck



Stanley Jordan — tapping his talent

Rarely does a musician come along to change the face of music by totally redefining his instrument.

Charlie Christian liberated the guitar from its rhythm section status, transforming it into a powerful solo voice that stood toe to toe with any horn for volume, drive and clarity.

Jimi Hendrix took the same six-string instrument to the stratosphere with his uncanny, instinctive knack of harnessing electronics to fuel his other worldly ideas.

Rumour has it that the latest member of this innovative elite is a 25-year-old guitarist currently pioneering new ground on the instrument, extending its parameters and taking it to the next incremental step.

Stanley Jordan's claim to fame is a two-handed tapping technique incorporating a pianistic approach on the guitar fretboard that enables him to get chordal voicings and orchestral textures that were previously only possible on a keyboard. With independent use of both hands, Stanley can accomplish the uncanny feat of accompanying himself.

There is almost no strumming or picking in Stanley Jordan's unorthodox technique. Instead, he taps the strings with his fingers in much the same way as a pianist strikes the keys. Rather than anchoring his right hand, as most guitarists do, Stanley's right hand roams the fretboard with as much freedom and conviction as his left hand. In effect, he has ten fingers available for double duty on the fretboard.

With his left hand sounding chords while covering bass lines, his right hand fingers tap-out single note lines and arpeggios. For the average guitarist, whose hands act sympathetically, the effect is awe inspiring. Jordan achieves those multitextured contrapuntal lines without relying on harmonizers or pitch transposers, overdubs or studio tracks, it's all done live on guitar.

Originally a piano student, classically-trained from age six, Stanley picked up the guitar at age 11 after coming under the spell of the late Jimi Hendrix (who passed away a few months before Stanley ever heard him play). By age 15 he began exploring Jazz, absorbing the lessons of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Art Tatum along with guitar greats Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Joe Pass.

His earliest experiments on the instrument involved unorthodox tunings. A significant breakthrough came when Jordan began tuning his guitar in fourths, thereby simplifying the fretboard and allowing him to expand his chordal vocabulary.

"A whole new world seemed to open up after that," he explains. "I could think more about music and less about mechanics. I could get to things a lot quicker so I had more access to all my ideas. I could see straight to the heart of the music."

He began developing his two-handed tapping technique at age 16. While some guitarists (Eddie Van Halen and Adrian Belew, et al) have already toyed with the two-handed hammer-on effects, no one has pursued the potential of this revolutionary approach with as much purpose and dedication as Stanley Jordan has. Rather than resorting to gimmickry or using it merely as a means of embellishing solos, Stanley has evolved a full vocabulary with the hammer-on technique, executing fully realized compositions and complex improvisations that feature independent voices. Furthermore, his advanced technique has allowed him to transcend the idea of being solely a guitarist.

"I always thought of myself more as a composer," he says. "I was really aspiring to do that. Now I see myself sitting inside the music more than sitting inside the guitar. That instrument is merely one way of getting to the music. And when the music sounds right, it feels right too. It's like I'm dancing."

In 1977, he left his home in Palo Alto, California to attend Princeton University. Upon graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, Stanley recorded his first solo album, Touch Sensitive, on his own Tangent Records label. He sold that album off the bandstand at gigs throughout the Midwest and South during a nomadic period of one-nighters and festivals. He moved to New York City in the spring of '84.

After this Jordan played on the sidewalks of Manhattan for loose change, stunning passersby with his unique talent. A few of the awestruck onlookers were connected to the music industry in one capacity or other. He landed at least one gig this way, when the owner of a popular uptown Jazz club happened to be passing by when Stanley was doing his thing on the pavement with guitar in hand and battery-operated amp piping out his perverse sounds.

Stanley's big break came in the summer of 1984. An audition with impressario George Wein led to an announced spot on the New York Kool Jazz Festval bill, opening at prestigious Avery Fischer Hall for Wynton Marsalis. An awed press corps, caught by surprise, raved on about this exciting new discovery. Stanley followed up that important gig with a triumphant showing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, where he captivated European audiences and critics with his novel approach to the guitar. On the strength of these triumphs, club-owner Max Gordon granted Stanley a full week at his legendary Village Vanguard. More accolades and superlatives were heaped on.

But there is little point in raving to the uninformed. Check Stanley Jordan waxing blue on Magic Touch (his debut LP for Jazz label Blue Note, produced by Al Di Meola). It contains no overdubs and proves beyond doubt that two hands are better than one. AD



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Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Sep 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

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