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And what news there is. A special preview on the Frankfurt fair, lifting the veil on 1987's most important gear.


Frankfurt. What does it mean to you? West Germany, yes. Longish reddish sausages, yes, yes, yes. But to the musical instrument industry, it means the biggest annual exhibition of new gear and an absolute must-be-there underlined reminder in the diary every February. So important is this show of new lines for 1987 that nearly all the stories in our extended news pages this month feature instruments and equipment that will have their first public airing at the Frankfurt show, so you should bear in mind that some of it will take some time to reach your music shop. We'll have more detailed news of the most important new stuff in our full-colour Frankfurt review in next month's issue; in the meantime, get ready to say "I want one" quite a few times.

GUITARS



If you've ever fancied a graphite-neck on your guitar, Hohner are fitting such a thing to one of their 'ST Lead' Korean-made Strat copy range. The neck, which includes a truss rod for the more nervous amongst you, will be available as an add-on for other Strat type guitars.

Also new from Hohner are a five string B2 Steinberger bass, a conventional bodied headless bass called 'The Jack', and two guitars with humbucker/two single coil configuration, the ST Scorpion (not unrelated to the Jackson Soloist), and the SG Lion (cf Paul Reed Smith guitars).

These guitars and the existing headless B2 and G2 range are now available with special Select pickups — you may remember from last issue's News story that Select are low impedance pickups made in Korea under licence from EMG. Well, we got it wrong: they're actually high impedance. Sorry...

Fernandes have announced four new guitars, and one new bass. The FRB55 bass is at the bottom end of the Revolver range (under £400), with an angled head, alder body, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and two pickups.

There are two white-only single pickup guitars, the STJ90, and the STJ85. The former has a Jackson-style angled head, but doubled back the other way (cf Richie 'Bon Jovi' Sambora's guitar); this is the more expensive of the two, with FGI (low impedance-style) pickup, sharkfin fingerboard inlays, no scratchplate, and Headcrasher tremolo. The STJ85 has straightforward Jackson head, and the same trem, but dot inlays, an ordinary VH6 scratchplate mounted pickup, and a lower price.

The RTE40 is a '59 Telecaster copy with bound body, and rosewood neck. No prices available as yet.

Best-looking of the lot is reputedly the STF125: fine-tuning tremolo, one humbucking and two single-coil FGI pickups, all-gold metalwork, including scratchplate, and a body in black, white, or red. A further interesting development on the STF125 is the return of wider frets. No price for this yet, either...

Rickenbacker are re-issuing a six-string they first put out in 1964, the Model 1997. They say that in the 1960s this model was "exclusively distributed in England", though it looks to us exactly like the US Model 330. Confusing, isn't it? Suffice to say it's the classic Ricky six that you may well have seen Paul Weller, Tom Petty or Peter Buck (REM) using. It's a 21-fret, full-length neck Rickenbacker with Vintage pickups and a price of around £800 (or about £850 with Vintage vibrato). Rickenbacker also reckon that the same craftsmen who produced the guitar in 1964 will be working on the re-issues — we will of course refrain from any uncalled-for ageist remarks...


JAPAN



Big hot steaming news story this month is of the first 8-track cassette recorder. That's right, like a portastudio, but with twice as many tape tracks. The TOA MR8T has dbx, pitch control, a digital tape counter, a rewind memory, recording level, monitor pan, monitor level, a sync input, headphone level, and eight-bar LEDs. According to our Tokyo correspondent, Yuki Saito, the MR8T runs on standard chrome cassette tapes; he has yet to hear any recordings made on the machine. The yen price is just over a grand, so UK equivalent would be around £1700, we believe. It's too early for TOA UK to say if or when the machine might turn up in Britain. But we wait with bated breath...

In their Spring array of equipment, announced in time for the Frankfurt Fair Yamaha have piles of new goodies. Highlights include two new drum machines, the 64 sound RX5 (£900-£1,000), and the 26 sound latin/traditional RX17 (£320), with stereo outputs only. Synthists will be pleased to hear the TX81Z, a four operator multi-timbral sound module for around £450. There's an eight channel rack mount mixer, the MV802, for about £340.

Apart from the RGX and RBX cheapo Taiwanese guitar and bass range (as reviewed hereabouts), Yamaha promise a new look to the SE series, with a modified body shape...

Our ever-active Japanese correspondent Yuki Saito was on the blower from Tokyo the other day saying he's seen some rackmountable effects units, including a digital reverb called the MUR201, with the name Sony on the front. As far as he knows it's the first time the electronics giant has been involved in such musicianly things. He also reports that these Sony effects were built after a collaboration between Sony and Hoshino engineers — Hoshino being the chaps who build Ibanez effects. As a result of all this Oriental meddling, expect a new Hoshino effects brand name soon (something to do with the H of Hoshino, says Yuki) which will be brought into the UK by current Ibanez effects distributors FCN. The tireless Yuki also says that Akai will soon have some MIDI wind instruments, one with valves.


Over in Japan, Mr Roland and his band of workpersons have been Letrasetting names and numbers on pieces of new equipment. They've used a lot of 'M' letters for their new keyboardless synth expanders, the MKS50, MKS 'Super JX' 70, and all-singing, all-dancing, all-sampling MKS100 digital sampler. They used the smaller letters on the micro-rack sized RRV-10 digital reverb, and they added an extra 'P' to the much loved TR505 - presumably to indicate that it had two new stereo mini-jack outputs on the back.


They've written DEP-3 on a new rack-mounting digital effects processor, a 99 memory digital reverb and delay (sort of DEP-5 without the modulation).

They've etched RD200 and RD300 on two new digital pianos, and they've embossed 'Roland' on the interesting looking GK-1 Synthesiser Driver, with its hexaphonic pickup and four knob control unit which actually fits onto the guitar.


Unfortunately, Mr Roland ran out of numbers, so he couldn't put the prices on any of his new instrumenty things. Shame, but we expect well see them at Frankfurt, so well tell you about them next month.

TOURS



Deep Purple on the road again, with Bad Company. Revisit the early seventies on March 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th, at Wembley Arena (first two) and Birmingham NEC (second two). Tickets are £10/£9 in London and £9/£8 in the NEC. Postal applications should be made via (Contact Details), with an SAE and a cheque, made payable to Deep Purple Box Office...

Important American saxophonist David Sanborn (if he's that important, why didn't he make the Downbeat poll, then?) is doing a one-off UK showcase for his new "A Change Of Heart" album. He's appearing at Hammersmith Odeon on February 28th; tickets from £7.50 up, via usual agents...

Top long-haired Liddypool gets The Mission are touring in March. Dates are Glasgow, Barrowlands - 21st; Nottingham, Rock City - 23rd; Bristol, Studio - 24th; Manchester, Apollo - 26th; Birmingham, Odeon - 27th; and Brixton, Academy - 28th...

London gig-goers will be interested to hear of an event at the ICA between 10th and 14th of February, co-ordinated by The Conceptat Group, aka WEA signing Sudden Sway. This total sensory experience involving films, videos, models, and performance from the group themselves, is intended to illustrate the delights of living in Heavenly Springs, an archetypal new town (presumably modelled on SS's birthplace, Peterborough). Full marks to Sudden Sway for trying to break away from traditional live performances. The installation at the ICA is open from 8pm in the evenings, and 2pm on Saturday...

AMPS



Moving away from the recurrent trend towards transistorised amplification, Fender have just released the all-valve Champ 12. This 18W practice amp-sized package comes with 12in speaker, footswitchable overdrive, reverb, pull-mid-boost control, plus line input (for jamming along with records, drum machines, etc), line out for power amp, and headphone socket. It weighs only 30 pounds, but costs a bit more than £200...

In the wake of the recent success of their Rebels, Carlsbro are about to inundate the amplifier market with new gear. Starting out with the updated Wasp Lead 10W practice amp for under £100, moving up through the 20W Scorpion Lead, Bass, and Keyboard combos, past the Sherwood Junior (well, they are based near Nottingham) 50W electroacoustic combo, to the Colt 45 range of 50W combos — Lead (£239), Bass (£217), and Keyboard (£235) variants. They feature Carlsbro's usual comprehensive array of facilities — split channels, pull switches, compressors, reverb, line out and headphone sockets. Above the Colts in the Carlsbro panoply of stars are the new B-150 professional bass amps, rated at 150W, and the slightly less glamorous CP power amp range...

Trace Elliot could justifiably shout, "My bass combo's bigger than your bass combo," to all the other amp makers on the release of their new C500 object. It is as you've probably guessed a 500 watt bass beast, these watts being distributed to the victims/listeners via four 10in Electrovoice speakers which notionally are able to handle 200 watts each. Essentially, this means a bleedin' loud bass combo. Trace Elliot also have a new programmable preamp, the MP11, which has 10 factory memories and 10 user memories that store the settings of the 11-band graphic and the input level control. There's MIDI in/out/thru too, meaning that you can switch the memories in sync with the memories of, for example, an outside MIDI-equipped FX unit — this facility also implies studio uses beyond the MP11's original intention as 'just' a bass player's pre-amp.

Right: a little quiz to keep you on your toes. How long have Marshall amps been around? And how long has their inventor, Jim Marshall, been involved in music? While you guess, here's a clue. Marshall are just about to launch a new range of amplification for 1987 called the 25/50 Jubilee Series.

Got it? Good! Marshall amps have been in production for 25 years, and Jim Marshall has been involved in music for 50 years. Anyway, the 25/50 Series gear is all finished in suitable silver cloth and trim, with an equally gleaming silver front panel. The amps also have a unique power switch allowing the player to select 25 or 50 watts (and 50 or 100 watts) power output, a pullswitch and footswitch set-up for degrees of distortion, and what a Marshall spokesman called an improved tone network.

There are three amp heads: the 2550 25/50W and 2555 50/100W standard heads, and the 2553 25/50W mini-stack head, along with the matching cabs, the 2551A and B (angled and bottom) for standard heads, and the 2556 A and B mini-stack cabs. There are a couple of combos, too, the 2554 25/50W 1x12, and the 2558 25/50W 2x12, both with Vintage speakers.

Each piece of 25/50 Jubilee Series gear has a special commemorative plaque, and there is also the promise of a personal letter from Jim Marshall for any customer who returns their 25/50 product's service card. Happy birthday to both Marshall amps and Marshall, Jim...

KMD have announced two internal improvements to their larger combo amps: new dual tone circuits are now being fitted, and the distortion sound has been improved. Improved to such an extent that Bon Jovi are now willing to endorse KMD amplifiers...

The Sessionette SG75 combo has been so popular, Session have decided to extend its range. As well as the 1x12 that's featured in the Buyer's Bible so often, you will now be able to purchase 2x12 and 1x15 models, at £349 each. Also new from Session is the FS3 footswitch, a three-way knobby LED-lit thing that allows you to mix the clean and dirty channels on the Sessionette and SG amps, as well as switching between them...

With the Frankfurt Music Fair coming up, several manufacturers have tarted up their old gear with go-faster stripes, in an effort to develop a new-look for '87. Apart from the revamped Carlsbros, the Cougar Audio Technology range of amps (the 100W CBX bass and CLX guitar combos) have received minor cosmetic changes. Still, with the rave reviews they received (see November issue for Bassman Bacon and the CBX 1x15), they hardly need to change their internals...

DRUMS



"What the bloody hell was that on page 17 of the January issue?" writes Warren Stocks of London SE25. "You know, the picture of a black MC500-looking thing with a handle. Was it a MIDI version of a Filofax?" To be honest, Warren, we were pretty puzzled too — here in the humble editorial department we see the ads when you do, ie when the magazine appears.

But our investigations have revealed that the sleek black thing with the screen and the tracker ball and the pram handle is in fact the ultra high-tech Simmons SDX. Simmons tell us it is "the ultimate instrument for the recording and performing drummer".

It is an extremely good 16-bit, 16-voice sampler — it can store up to 88 seconds of drum and cymbal samples at full bandwidth and has a built-in disc drive. It has — wait for it — Zone Intelligent pads. Not a parking meter detector, but a pad that will tell the SDX exactly how hard and where you've just hit it. "The sensitivity," say Simmons, "will amaze you."

All the functions can be sorted out with visual help from the on-board screen, and screen-edits are aided by the tracker ball. Simmons promise a library of drum discs commissioned from top drummists and producists, and future expansions already being lined up include a sophisticated digital recording package and a Fairlight-like waveform analysis update. Even as it is, though, the SDX looks destined for pop star ownership. Simmons won't estimate a price yet, though we'd be surprised to get change from six grand. Is that any help, Warren?...

Premier claim to have overcome the problem of overtones associated with deep snare drums with the design of their forthcoming Heavy Rock 9 snare. This 9in deep drum has a brass shell lined with a laminate of Scandinavian birch, giving a sound that combines the ring of the brass and the warmth of the wood. The British drum company also announce three more new snare drums, and tell us of some modifications to improve the ever-popular APK kit, including new finish options, a new tom holder and new front head design.

KEYBOARDS



Apart from a plethora of new home keyboards, Casio have just announced three new samplers, the SK100, SK200, and SK2100, all retailing for under £400. These are a logical progression from the hugely successful SK-1, and retain several features, such as built-in mike, drum-sounds, preset synth patches, and sequencer (pattern memory). All three have the same PCM sampling facilities, four octave keyboards, and powerful on-board memory capable of storing up to 159 chord changes. The SK200 and SK2100 both offer keyboard split, 20 preset and two programmable rhythms, but no MIDI as yet. For more details see our review of the SK200...

New products coming up from Korg in Japan: they promise a "devastating" new synth, known as the DS-8, a 100 program eight-note polyphonic FM-based touch sensitive keyboard instrument. It has RAM card facilities, plus split, layering of sounds and the like, but the most exciting new feature is a built-in multiple effects unit. Price will be around £1000-1500.

The other keyboards include two digital pianos, the DP3000 and DP2000, with built-in sequencer, speakers and stands.

Talking of sequencers, there's a basic eight-track MIDI one called the SQ8 due from Korg in the spring for around £200.

Hohner have four new home keyboards with sampling facilities available this Spring, the PK40, PK60, PK80, and PK100, ranging in price between £100 and £400. Although they're not strictly aimed at the rock musician, the PK100 is definitely worth exploring, as it comes with MIDI...

The long-awaited update of the Yamaha DX7 is on its way: and not just one, but two updates. The DX7 II comes in either D or FD models, retailing for roughly £1700 and £1900 respectively. The FD comes with built-in floppy disk.

Developments include micro-tuning (each key is individually tunable), improved FM technology, and better sounds, a 64 voice internal memory, fractional scaling, buttons instead of membrane switches, dual play/single play modes, and full MIDI implementation, of course...

The DRV2000 is intended as Korg's answer to the SPX90. This will retail for around £500, and will be capable of two effects at a time — such as delay, auto-pan, gating, etc. It will be MIDI compatible, with a 100 program memory...

Here come three new keyboard combos from TOA, the KD-1, KD-2, and KD-3. Not many details as yet, but the KD-1 is mono, while the top-of-range KD-3 comes with a four input stereo mixer with active EQ, effects send, compression, reverb, and two-way 15in speaker system...

OTHERS



In the light of Making Music's own Readers' Poll, it was interesting to note the results of US magazine Downbeat's 51st Annual Poll. Top Pop/Rock Musician was Sting, who polled more than all the runners-up (S. Wonder, P. Collins, P. Rince) put together. Our Gordon was also top Pop/Rock Group by an equally large margin, from Talking Heads and Dire Straits. He would also have won the Album Of The Year, but was disqualified for winning last year, leaving the way free for Whitney Houston to beat Peter Gabriel by one vote. Nice to see the Neville Brothers winning R&B Group. Top Guitarist, by the way, was Pat Metheny, and male singer was Bobby McFerrin...

If you want to learn how to mix the live sound of your band, then listen to how they do it on TV. Quite often you'll hear a perfect example of how not to do it.

So anyway, we tuned in to the first of the new series of "bite-sized" Whistle Tests last month — and heard the worst example of live sound we've experienced on TV for some time (and we've heard some bad 'uns, ho yus). Unfortunate victims were Jason & The Scorchers, captured live in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, and specifically their bass player Jeff Johnson. Jeff was certainly there visually, but as for the sound — no bass guitar at all. Not on our (pretty good) TV, anyway.

Whistle Test told us that the Scorchers clip was provided by Capitol Records, and assured us that there was some bass there, "rumbling around". The sound came from the mixing desk, apparently a strange combination of PA and specialty-done submix. "It's always a bit iffy," said producer Trevor Dann of the concert footage they're offered, "always something of a compromise. I thought we got away with it in this instance, though some of the later footage from the same concert was unusable because of the sound — that was of the Georgia Satellites."

Some bands write Whistle Test letters thanking them for such good quality studio sound (like Clannad, for example), and indeed the BBC's in-house quality is better, given the production team's closer control. "But some bands won't do live TV any more," said Mr Dann. "Like UB40, they've had such bad experiences they just won't do it — they've never done Whistle Test, I hasten to add."...

After the Series II wins Best Mixer in the Making Music Readers' Poll, what do Studiomaster do next? They make a Series III and Series IV.

The III is a modular mixer, with eleven different modules, and an expandable chassis; this means almost any variation between 8:2 and 40:8:2 can be constructed. Facilities include three-band EQ on inputs and outputs, up to six auxiliary sends, recording or PA ins/outs — you name it.

The Series IV comes in two variations, a 12:2 PA model, and an expandable 16:4:2 recording variant. Both have three-band EQ, four auxiliaries and two returns...

STOP PRESS



Frontline Series II effects pedals have all dropped in price by roughly 20 per cent. The stereo chorus that we looked at in December has come down from £62 to £50, and the cheapest distortion is now only £30...

Anyone impressed by our review of the Ibanez SDR1000 twin channel digital reverb in November will be pleased to hear that the price has been cut from £769 to £655...

RECORDS



Gary Moore's next single will be "Wild Frontier", due out on Feb 16th. It's also the title track of his new LP, scheduled for March 9th...

First generation Eric Von Clapton fans might be interested in a recent limited edition release available with the current single, "Behind The Mask" — it contains versions of two Cream songs, "Crossroads" and "White Room", both recorded live at Birmingham on his recent tour...

The new Smiths album, rumoured to be their last as an indie band, is to be a collection of singles, B-sides, and alternative mixes. The LP (title: "The World Won't Listen") will have 16 tracks, and will be out on February 23rd...

BUSINESS



From Easter this year it may be more difficult to tell where new musical instruments were made. A change in British law will mean it is no longer a legal requirement to mark on a product its country of manufacture, meaning no more Made in Korea stickers on guitars or Assembled In Republic Of China labels on effects units.

This change will occur when the Trades Description Act of 1972 is repealed, following pressure from the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC decided that products on sale in Britain with various Made In markings gave unfair advantage to home-manufactured goods, to the detriment of other European-made products, and that they were prepared to take the matter to court. Hence the repeal of the 1972 Act, scheduled to happen around April 1987.

There has already been an outcry from some UK industries such as cutlery and glass makers. They fear that unmarked goods will allow inferior foreign merchandise to undermine their sales. The musical instrument industry has yet to make any public statements. The Department of Trade and Industry told Making Music that they are having discussions with various interested parties in an attempt to come up with new, replacement legislation to satisfy the critics of this change in the law.



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Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - Feb 1987

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