Who's Where, What's What
Not only was December 8th's Yamaha X Series Convention, held at the London Tara Hotel, Kensington, an overwhelming success in its attendance (over 1,000 visitors, both members of the DX Owners Club and others, came to this Sunday event) but it was also the first opportunity for most of us to see the newly unveiled Yamaha DX100 and DX27. These two new synths, both available now from local Yamaha stockists, are basically lower priced digital programmable synths for inclusion in the all-conquering DX range. With an RRP of £349, the 49 key battery-powered DX100 offers 192 pre-set ROM voices accessible through two separate play modes, FM tone generation (4 operators, 8 algorithms), voice programming and cassette storage. Specs and facilities on the full-size DX27 are virtually identical, although it provides the performance-orientated player with 61 keys for an RRP of £449-£499 (the final price had yet to be announced as we went to press on this news section). Meanwhile, back to the convention, which gave visitors the chance to get hands-on experience on the whole gamut of X-Series gear, as well as providing demos on the latest Yamaha products by Ken Campbell and both a lecture and demo by long-term Yamaha aficionado Dave Bristow. Also well attended was an invaluable lecture by Dr. David Wessel of IRCAM on the hellish subject of computer and MIDI interfaces.
In addition, several other manufacturers with useful add-ons for X Series gear had their products on show, among whom were CompuMusic, with their UMI-2B 16 track real-time/step-time MIDI sequencing software. Digital Music Systems were also in attendance with their new CX5M dedicated DMS real-time 8-part sequencer. Electro-Music Research, meantime, had an impressive range of software for DX7/BBC/Commodore/Sinclair combiners.
Also taking part were Rittor Music (UK) with their alternative to Yamaha's FM composer package, the FM Music Writer, plus other fascinating goodies like the Music Data, which turns a CX5M into a digital music player. Skyslip Music, on the other hand, had new ROM and RAM packages for the DX7.
To cap it all, three competitions were run, the first a 'lucky programme number' event sponsored by Yamaha, with both a KX5 remote keyboard and a TX7 FM expander as prizes (won by Mr. Buckley from Cheshunt), the second, sponsored by the DX Owners' Club, for a DX100 (won by Jeremy Green of Bedford), the third, run by Skyslip Music, for a TX7 (won by a lucky Mr. Hallet).
Obviously IN TUNE was there in force, meeting existing readers and signing-up a few hundred new members of the family into the bargain!
Started in 1983, the DX Owners' Club now has nearly 2,000 members and provides invaluable (and independent) help, info and support for owners and users of the whole Yamaha X Series product range, including the CX5M, QX, RX drum machines, X-series keyboards and so on. The club also offers the chance for mutual swapping of both FM and MIDI info, and we have to take our hats off to both the club and its secretary, Tony Wride, who certainly showed the group's muscle-power at this event.
Readers can get more info on the DX Owners' Club direct from Tony Wride at the DX Owners' Club, (Contact Details). Readers wanting more gen on Yamaha, Rittor, CompuMusic, Digital Music Systems, Electro-Music Research or Skyslip Music should either tick the appropriate boxes on this issue's free info request form, or fill in the product names in the 'any other info.' space.
Already among the best-selling small mixers on the home recording market, MTR have announced a major update on their range, all of which now become Series 2 versions. Extra features on the newcomers include low noise input circuitry, centre detented Eq and pan pots, LED illuminated mains on/off switches, monitor volumes, pan control on the inline channels and facelifted cosmetics. There are now three models in the MTR line-up - the Six-Four-Two, Twelve-Eight-Two and Twelve-Two. The basic model in the range (the Six-Four-Two) is ideal for use with 4-track recorders (either cassette or reel to reel types) and has an RRP of just £270 inc. VAT. It offers 6 mike and line inputs, 4 send and returns to a 4-track tape recorder, breakjacks, 3 band Eq, Aux 1 switchable pre/post, Aux 2 post, monitor vol and pan on in-line channels, PPIs, 100mm faders, separate mix and Aux 1 phone sockets, and two track playback through monitors.
The Twelve-Eight-Two sells for £510 inc. VAT and offers balanced XLR mike inputs and 8 sends and returns to an 8-track recorder, and duplicates the facilities of the Six-Four-Two apart from having PFL, Master Aux 1 send, Vu meters, talkback, master monitor vol, stereo/mono switch and 'PFL active' LED.
Brand new is a development of the Twelve-Eight-Two, taking MTR into the small PA mixer market for the first time - and with a beautifully competitive price/performance spec. This model is the Twelve-Two (RRP £461 inc. VAT) which also takes balanced XLR mike inputs and offers breakjacks, 3 band Eq, 3 aux sends with master sends, mute, PFL, PPI, 100mm faders, Vu meters, phone monitoring for both main mix and Aux 1, talkback, output limiters with bypass, tape replay switch and a mains on/off. Importantly for a PA mixer, the Twelve-Two also features the essential RIAA Eq curve on channels 1&2 and 3&4, which enables these to be used for playback from the record decks.
Details from MTR at (Contact Details). Alternatively, tick the MTR box on this month's free product info request form.
Heading Peavey's range of stereo amps is their latest model, the Stereo Chorus 400. Carrying an RRP of £569.25 inc. VAT, the new Peavey looks like a huge handful of combo, combining as it does two separate 130 watt RMS amp sections, which drive two of Peavey's own highly regarded Scorpion speakers.
Each channel in the stereo package offers Peavey's DDT compression system and offers individual inputs, pre-gains (with 'pull for bright' functions), post gains and pre-amp out/power input jacks. Channel one also features Peavey's 'Saturation' circuit, 3-band passive Eq, active presence and 'pull for thick' settings. Channel two, meanwhile, offers 3-band active Eq with a parametric mid and shift system plus an active presence control. A master reverb is included along with a full 'twin clock' built-in chorus effect, also delivering vibratos. In addition, this latter feature has individual rate and depth controls. Auto-mix channel switching from a footswitch (which also provides reverb and chorus defeat functions) is indicated on the new combo by active LEDs which indicate channel selection.
For more details, contact Peavey Electronics (U.K.) Ltd., at (Contact Details).
Leading drummer Danny Gottlieb - well regarded for his work with, among others, guitarists Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola - is the latest recruit to the team of top players actively endorsing Premier drums and accessories.
Danny's kit is a Premier Black Shadow, comprising 16x22" and 16x24" bass drums, 16x16" and 16x18" floor toms, 9x10, 10x12", 11x13" and 12x14" mounted toms, plus one of Premier's new 2009 14x6½" Project One snares. ProLock hardware is also part of this mammoth kit.
Word has it that Danny won't only be playing Premier, but that he will be one of several endorsees actively involved in new product development.
More Premier info from Premier Percussion, (Contact Details).
Salt Lake City's DOD have just announced yet another fine-looking FX pedal. It's the DOD PDS-1700 digital Flanger/Chorus - boasting a full frequency bandwidth operation (20Hz-40kHz 'dry' and 20Hz-16kHz 'delayed') with up to 51 milliseconds delay.
DOD are using a dual footswitch system on this unit, making for fast changeovers between Chorus and Flange settings, switching between these two effects being achieved by activating the Left footswitch. The Right switch, meanwhile, both introduces and cancels both effects. Complete with mono and stereo output facilities, the new DOD features twin flashing LEDs (operating at the modulation rate) to show the speed control settings. The Chorus effect is governed by speed, depth and delay facilities, and offers a delay time of 4-51 Msecs. The Flanger facility, on the other hand, is covered by speed, depth and regeneration controls, and offers a shorter delay up to 12.8 Msecs.
Recommended for guitar, bass and keyboard uses, the new DOD PDS-1700 will have an RRP of £199.95, inc. VAT. More details from Rhino Music Spares, (Contact Details).
Luton's Don Larking Audio Sales have just been appointed a 'full-range' dealer for Soundcraft. This extends the range of Soundcraft pro recording mixers stocked by Don to include the Series 2400 and TS24 in-line console, making Don one of the only two full range Soundcraft dealers in the U.K.
Don is now able to supply complete Soundcraft studio packages (including tape machines and mixers) to his numerous customers.
Don Larking Audio Sales are at (Contact Details).
Genuine Turkish-made cymbals, called 'Istanbul', are the latest hot line to have been taken on for U.K. distribution by rapidly-expanding importers John Hornby Skewes & Co.
Historically speaking Turkey was probably the birthplace of the cymbal, and the new Istanbul range, we gather, draws on the traditional reserves of design and hand manufacturing skills to be found there. According to JHS, these new cymbals are entirely hand-finished and give a sound which is 'unattainable by any other means and rarely found in machine-hammered, mass-produced cymbals.' Apparently, each Istanbul cymbal is personally signed by one of the Turkish makers' two master cymbalsmiths (take a bow, Mehmet and Agop!) and the results have been impressive enough to have already secured this new brand several valuable endorsees, including Jack Dejohnette, Mel Lewis, Graham Lear and Denny Seiwell.
Around 80 different models are offered in the Istanbul range, from an 8" Splash at £50 retail to a 24" Ride, selling for £192. The series includes various thicknesses, sizes and types, including Crash, Ride, Hi-Hat, China, Swish and Pang cymbals. According to JHS, the number of products which the Turkish factory is capable of producing each year is limited, so if you're interested we suggest that you get details as fast as you can.
More gen from John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd., (Contact Details).
Here at the IN TUNE madhouse our aim has always been to cover as many different musical instrument types and playing styles as possible, so we're delighted to be able to report that we've a new specialist writer coming on board to handle a new area for us. That 'someone' is the well known sax player Gail Thompson (pause for cheers and rapturous applause all round!). Gail, one of the U.K.'s most respected sax players, will be undertaking a wide variety of assignments for us (right now she's working on a feature telling you how to to mike-up saxes), but here, just to whet your appetites, are a few background details about her.
Gail's first major gig was at the Albert Hall (not a bad start!) as a member of her school band, with whom she toured both Canada and the Soviet Union! From there she progressed to the baritone sax chair with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra for two years, and by then she was playing alto, tenor and baritone sax, not to mention keyboards, flute and clarinet! Two gruelling years in the West End production of Bubbling Brown Sugar followed, after which Gail 'retired' to manage one of the U.K.'s most famous music stores - Macari's in Charing Cross Rd.
Since then, Gail has led her two-tenor bebop outfit, Quintet whilst simultaneously fronting Trio, and by '85 she was running three separate bands, including her own Jazz/Funk team, the Gail Thompson Approach, which has appeared at the Camden Jazz Week, on BBC2, and with Gil Scott-Heron. Most recently, Gail was part of the fabulous Charlie Watts Big Band (alongside Charlie, John Stevens, Stan Tracey, Alan Skidmore and a host of other luminaries) who drew massive audiences at Ronnie Scott's Club.
Gail (who, as you can gather is one of those horrible multi-talented types!) just happens to be a fine writer and reviewer too, who's going to be bringing a wealth of talent, experience and helpful advice to IT readers. Welcome on board to another great writer/musician member of the IN TUNE team!
Back in issue 6, we ran a plea for help from the legions of IN TUNE readers. The organisers of 1985's fabulous British Music Fair wanted to know what you thought of it - and, even if you didn't attend, we wanted to know why. This research was designed to make next year's show even better.
The response to our request was fabulous, no doubt helped by the free prize of a JHS ROCKBOX which we dangled in front of you, to be awarded from a draw among all respondents, whether they attended the show or not. Winner of the remarkable little JHS RockBox headphone practice amp (see our review of it back in Issue 1) was Leith, Edinburgh reader David Thain. He'll already be well versed in using his RockBox by the time you read this, finding out for himself why we reckon it's such great value for money!
As it turns out, David didn't attend this year's show, and admits that he probably won't be at next year's either (which shows how honest we were in our random choice of a winner). His reason? Simply the cost of getting down from Scotland to London - and with train fares as they are, who can blame him?
In fact, a quick analysis of readers' comments about the British Music Fair shows that David isn't alone in calling for regional shows to be staged. While those IT readers who did attend universally praised the event, quite a number of you commented that London was just too far away for you to travel to economically. For our part (accepting that the costs of staging several regional shows would probably be prohibitive), we'd like at least to see special concessionary fares arranged for visitors living out of London. How about it, AMI?
Another often voiced complaint was that not enough specialist guitar makers were present - a sentiment we also shared. Yet again, many readers also said (and we agree) that more PA gear on display would have been advantageous, as would even better demo facilities on stands, which were sometimes unbelievably crowded.
On the positive side, though, the vast majority of our respondents reckoned that the 1985 British Music Fair was a remarkable event, and that they won't be missing next year's!
Well, here's an early warning of the 1986 BMF dates. It's to be held once again at London's Olympia 2, and the Trade Only days will be from Tuesday July 29th to Thursday July 31st, with the Public days being held on Friday 1st August, through to Sunday August 3rd.
Meanwhile, congratulations to David Thain, IN TUNE's first Scottish reader to win one of our great free entry competitions. And, of course, we also send heartfelt thanks to every reader who gave their time and attention to helping such a valuable survey of the views of the British musician.
O.K. IT readers, you can relax now: the winner of our fantastic 2-part Win a Gibson Les Paul Custom competition (run in issues 5 and 6) has finally been chosen - and he's Mr. Trevor King from Reading, Berks. Trevor battled his way through our fiendish first set of questions, got both those and Part 2's answers correct, and then had the good fortune to be chosen first out of the hat when we made the prize draw from all the correct entries we'd received - and there were very many hundreds of them!
A dedicated Blues player, Trevor holds down the lead guitar role in Reading band Old Crow, and tells us that he's a Gibson fan, already owning one much-cherished example of this great guitar family. What's more, just before we went to press on this issue we had a letter from Trevor confirming that he'd received his prize and making the following comments about it: 'This guitar is the finest Les Paul I have yet played. I don't know what Gibson are up to, but since 1981, when my original one was made, and the present, they seem to have managed to make the Custom sound at least 50% better... this one has a deep, throaty Blues sound to it that made my skin creep when I wound it up first time!' Apart from bearing out our own opinion that today's Gibsons are at least as good as (if not often better than) they've ever been, it's nice to know that our much-competed-for Les Paul has gone to such an appreciative home!
And now, for all you IT readers who sweated buckets trying to find the answers to our two parter, here they are. One or two of you might not agree with a few of our required answers (especially relating to the introduction of the twin cutaway Les Paul, which later became the SG), but we've been guided (as we hinted to you in Part One) by those two superlative reference works, Gibson Electrics, by A.R. Duchossoir and American Guitars, An Illustrated History by Tom Wheeler. Where any doubt existed we used these two books - both ultimately deriving from Gibson themselves - as the final arbiters.
PART ONE - The Answers
1 - The Gibson Les Paul Custom has a 24 3/4" scale length. Answer True.
2 - Orville Gibson (the company's founder) was born in 1856. Answer A.
3 - Gibson's designer of the original humbucking pickup was Seth Lover. Answer B.
4 - The current Les Paul Custom's neck is made of Maple. Answer True.
5 - The Gibson Tune-O-Matic bridge was invented by Ted McCarty. Answer C.
PART TWO - The Answers
1 - Today's Gibson Les Paul Custom features humbucking pickups. Answer True.
2 - The current Les Paul Custom has a top made of Maple. Answer B.
3 - Gibson guitars are made in Nashville. Answer A.
4 - The Gibson Les Paul was originally introduced in 1952. Answer A.
5 - A twin cutaway version of the Gibson Les Paul was launched in 1961. Answer True.
So there we are - a lucky winner has been found for what we reckon to be 'the most desirable guitar in the world!'. Every time we contact a winner they always say 'I really thought I was one of those people who never win anything' - so it just goes to show how you're all in with an equal chance! So do have a crack at this issue's great IN TUNE free entry competition, and who knows? It really could be your turn next!
Pete Cornish, Britain's premier electronics design/repair genius, has just moved to a new address. You can reach him at (Contact Details).
Pete, who's worked for just about every major band you've ever heard of, tells us that in addition to his perennial business of making up FX racks and D.I. boxes, plus undertaking repairs on just about any and every piece of electronic gear imaginable, he's recently been finding a growing demand for power supply units, which he's been supplying to top outfits including Tears For Fears, Howard Jones, Level 42 and Pat Metheny. Pete's power supplies enable stable 240 volt U.K. standard supplies to be provided for a whole band's gear, even whilst the normal mains supply (say when on tour overseas) is being delivered at both variable and other than U.K. voltages.
Other conversion work regularly undertaken by Pete includes repairs and conversions to unusual brands of amps like Polytones and those highly popular Gallien-Kruger mini-types which are so popular right now. Quite a few of these latter amps have recently been converted to run on U.K. voltages.
Racked D.I. units (working from single power supplies and much harder to steal than conventional D.I. boxes!) plus a full repair and spare tape supply service on Echoplex tape echoes are yet more aspects of Pete's business. Incidentally, despite being so popular with pro bands and players, Pete tells us that he is very happy to undertake work for any customer - you don't have to be a superstar to make use of his prodigious abilities!
Guitar and bass playing IN TUNE readers should definitely get their hands on the latest catalogue from those innovatory guitar accessory suppliers, Part & Parcel. In addition to listing just about every replacement and customising part imaginable for guitars and basses, the 1986 Part & Parcel catalogue makes fascinating reading - we had no idea that so much was available for tarting-up everything from a Gibson to a Woolies' Tat-o-caster!
One of the particularly nice features of this catalogue is the way in which it is so logically laid out. Fender-type instruments and their spares are in one section, Gibson-types in another and the most popular design styles are illustrated with schematic diagrams, enabling customers to order exactly the part they need. The range available includes parts for guitars, basses and acoustics, comprising a huge selection of machine heads, bridges, pickups etc. - even 'cut to order' scratchplates in a variety of colours!
Among the latest additions to this fulsome range are a headless bass kit (enabling users to convert their traditional basses to headless types), locking nuts, EMG pickups, guitar stands and accessories, a multitude of different trem systems, fine tuning bridges, bass tremolo systems and even a reasonably priced offer on the new Gelf Hybrid Mini ('HM') amp, a valve/MOSFET combo delivering 20 watts for just £99.95. Both bass and guitar versions are available.
Copies of this indispensable catalogue are available free from Part & Parcel, (Contact Details).
Never sure which mike to use for a job? Can't decide how to mike-up your instrument or cab? To the rescue come Austrian mike makers AKG, who've just produced a handy new leaflet showing which of their many mikes suit which purposes and how to get the best out of them.
Copies can be obtained direct from AKG retailers or from AKG Acoustics Ltd., at (Contact Details).
New from Soundcraft is a range of four power amplifiers claimed to employ 'some radical new design concepts which enable them to achieve new standards of performance', the makers say.
According to Soundcraft, the new amps 'combine the advantages of both MOSFET and Bipolar output devices' and are 'capable of exceptionally rapid transient response to peaks' - hence the 'Pulse Power' tag the makers have given them. The four models offered begin with the SA 150, designed for full-range audio systems and the HF sections of multi-way rigs, rated at 135 watts into 4 Ohms per side, Soundcraft claim a THD (total harmonic distortion) of below 0.05% and say that the Pulse Power design enables the amp to peak at 450 watts per channel for a 10Ms dynamic peak. RRP is £603.75 inc. VAT.
The SA600 is said to be suitable for studio, broadcast and PA use, especially for LF section driving in a 2-way system, with an SA150 being employed for the highs. Rated at 2x220 watts into 4 Ohms, with a claimed a peak of 700 watts per side for 10Ms, the RRP is £765.90 inc. VAT.
Next up is the SA1000, rated at 2x525 watts into 4 Ohms, with 1,400 watt transients. Forced air cooling is fitted to this model and the RRP is £977.50 inc. VAT.
Top of the range is the RRP £1610.00 (inc. VAT) SA2000, capable of 740 watts a side into 4 Ohms and peaking at a massive 3,000 watts into 2 Ohms.
Details from Soundcraft Electronics Ltd., (Contact Details).
A new guitar and bass from importers British Music Strings are set to be appearing in U.K. shops in the next few weeks. Called 'Marlin', the ML-40 guitar version comes with a new solid brass locking trem system (the Accutone), and has a Rosewood fingerboard on a rock Maple neck with tilt adjustment. Two humbucking (twin coil) pickups are fitted and a range of colours is available, including the now ubiquitous black with red binding and metallic blue with black binding. RRP is to be £225.
The bass Marlin, the ML-60B, comes at the same price and also sports a Rosewood fingerboard on a rock Maple neck. Pickups are in the usual arrangement of one split, one strip type (a la Jazz). The bass comes in a choice of six finishes.
Further facts from British Music Strings Ltd., (Contact Details).
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