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Reader's Poll Results

Who you (the readers) voted as best musician, and what you (still the readers) voted as best gear. We shake the world.

AS RETURNING OFFICER for Making Music I hereby give a funny little cough, drop my notes, stare at the camera crookedly and announce the results of...


In October we presented you with a large form on which to scribble your votes for the most important musicians' election of the year. We sought your views on the best instruments and the best players, and as the biggest musicians magazine in the country we reckon we've come closest to defining the most popular and admired men and machines. As mentioned on the original form, we were looking for the instruments that made the most impact in 1986.

We understood that some of them may have been released in 1985 but taken time to reach the shops where you could try them and form opinions. That's why you'll notice a few old hands among the winners.

Elsewhere in the poll - for musicians, albums and singles - the votes were purely for this year's efforts. So without more faffing about, Joan Collins will now read out the awards dressed as a kipper.


Marlin Sidewinder
Strat System I
Stepp DG 1
Charvel Model 4
Squier Strat

At only £140 quid the K34 Sidewinder is well below the cost of a couple of its fellow competitors. Good to know that sensible and discerning Making Music readers hand out awards for value rather than flashness. It's a down to earth attitude from realistic musicians which runs through all of our poll results. A comfortable victory and a gratifying one.


Westone Thunder 1A
Hohner B2A
Jaydee Mark King Model
Roland bass guitar synth


Yamaha DX27
Yamaha DX100
Yamaha DX21
Roland Alpha Juno II
Casio SK1

If there had been a category for greatest keyboard of the decade it would have gone to the DX7 which gained a healthy share of the ballot box even though it was launched a few years ago. Too long ago, in all fairness, to qualify for keyboard of '86. So it goes to the DX27, probably for bringing the FM sound started by the DX7 within the reach of so many ivory bashers.

Drums acoustic

Premier APK
Pearl Export
Yamaha 9000

A very hotly contested one this with all the action at the top end. Only a handful of votes separated the APK and Export, and drummers went for one of these two in a big way. In fact there weren't enough votes for any other kits to enable us to settle on a clear fourth or fifth position. However, Honourable Mentions went to the Sonor Performer, Premier Projector and Pearl Professional.

Drums electric

Simmons SDS9
Simmons SDS1000
Roland DDR =
Simmons MTX9 =
Tama Techstar

Drum box

Roland TR505
Yamaha RX21
Korg DDD-1
Casio RZ-1
Roland TR 707 =
Yamaha RX11 =


Carlsbro Rebel
Session SG75
Peavey Bandit
Carlsbro 90 keyboard
Marshall 12 lead

The Session SG75 has been a steady seller for a couple of years since its introduction, but this year's arrival of the Carlsbro Rebel stole its thunder in a conclusive manner. As in the guitar category, readers have made awards for reliable, well priced, down to earth gear, rather than the huge Marshall stacks they see on rich band's stages. Reassuring to know you're practical types who genuinely use the stuff.

Four track

Tascam Porta One
Yamaha MT1X
Fostex X-15
Tascam Porta Two
Fostex 260

We were slightly surprised at this one. The Porta One and X15 were pre-1986 by many months. Could this mean that none of this year's new four-tracks has given them a run for their money? Or that the secondhand market in cassetting is stronger than we think? Or that the four-track market is smaller than a lot of other people think? Whatever, no denying the sweeping success of the Porta One.

Blank tape


We never knew there were so many types of tape until your votes came in. Because the vote was so widely split — and because so many readers voted for a brand rather than a specific model — we decided to make the award to the companies rather than a single cassette. Even so there should be Honourable Mentions for TDK AD and TDK SA, as both did very well individually, and the left field entrant of Sony HFS which also did well in the hustings.


Audio Technica

What we said for tape, only more so, but with one notable exception. The Shure SM58 still appears to be the country's most famous microphone. Its individual vote was colossal. Honourable Mentions go to the Shure Prologue series, the Ramsa WMS10 which has had a high profile this year and seems to be building a fast reputation, and the two PZM styles from Tandy and Realistic (though we wonder how different they might be).



And once again, an award made to companies rather than individual models. Studiomaster was in fact miles in the lead (it took 50 per cent of the total vote in this category) with several desks making up its aggregate score — Series II and the 16/8/2 were the two top contenders. Considering the clear positions of the top four, the judges felt there was no equally positive choice for fifth, so made no award. We should like to mention the Boss BX800, because we felt sorry for it. It did well individually, but no other Boss mixer was nominated, so there was no collective score to place it among the winners.


Boss DD2 digital delay
Arion Stereo Chorus
Boss HM2 distortion
Yamaha SPX 90 multi-rack
Alesis Midiverb


Roland MC500 =
Yamaha QX1 =
Yamaha QX21
Casio SZ-1
Yamaha QX5

Overall instrument of the year

Stepp DG-1 Digital Guitar
Marlin Sidewinder six string
Charvel Model 4 six string
Fairlight series III

An easy win for the Stepp. Readers had no doubt in presenting it with the award for supplying "the greatest strides forward in music making". A deserved win considering the wealth of imagina five technology that's gone into the development of the Stepp. Mind you, we still don't know how well that technology actually functions. Finished instruments are still thin on the ground. Every time we ask to review one, they tell us they've sold it.


Mark Knopfler
Brian May
Steve Vai
Johnny Marr =
Yngwie Malmsteen =

A dirty great win for Mr Knopfler (though not as vast as the other Mark's). Also good to see the variety of guitarists and guitar playing appreciated by our deeply tasteful readers — from Brian May's six string orchestrations, through Johnny Marr's twanginess to 'Lightning' Yngwie Malmsteens fingers-like-an-Ovett-kneecap. But Brothers In Arms sealed it for Mr K. Your name here in a few years?


Mark King
Pino Palladino
Billy Sheehan
Geddy Lee
Steve Harris

Now this we did like. The largest vote in the entire musicians section went to the God-like talent of Sir Mark King. (We're thinking of re-christening ourselves Mark-king Music next year.) And we of course are completely unbiased, disinterested and fair... and would just like to say you're absolutely right. Another fine spread of talent, from the succulent glidings of P. Palladino to S. Harris' Iron Maiden crunchings.


Howard Jones
Jean Michel Jarre
Mike Lindup
Mick MacNeil
Tony Banks


Phil Collins
Neil Peart
Mel Gaynor
Roger Taylor
Mark Brzezicki

He obviously deserves it, but the truly intriguing Poll-fact about Phil Collins is that he appears in more of our categories than any other musician. He got presentable votes in Singer, Songwriter, Producer, and Unsung Hero (bit of mystery, that last one).


Freddie Mercury
Kate Bush

Why have so many singers had their first names amputated? Fish, Sting, Morrissey? Perhaps it saves their throats as they have to say less when introducing themselves. Whatever, the man with the longest name won, although did you know he was christened Frederick Bulsara? A big and true win, either way.


Branford Marsalis
Miles Davis
Courtney Pine
Weir Bros
Mel Collins

Can't deny that Sting's "The Dream Of The Blue Turtles" had a lot to do with introducing Branford to the public. But anyone who found him there discovered him doing a brilliant job, and last year's gigs proved Marsalis to be a skilled and humourous soloist. He has done more than Sting's album, however, and '87 might be the time to check that out.


Peter Gabriel
Mark Knopfler
Phil Collins

And by now it's obvious that 1986 had half a dozen real musical heroes who could hardly do any wrong. But we'd guess it was Gabriel's ingenuity at all stages of the songwriting process — demos, arrangements, sound creation, production etc — that took him to the top. Knopfler and Sting were close behind (though as far as we can tell, only one of them wrote any songs this year).


Dave Stewart
Trevor Horn
Steve Lillywhite
Hugh Padgham
Martin Birch

The Making Music judges were somewhat taken aback by a bolt from the blue in the form of Dave Stewart. He soared to the top, pipping Trevor Horn who in 1985 made every record that was released on vinyl. Or so it appeared. This year's Eurythmics album "Revenge" shows off the versatility of Stewart's approach to the recording console, and with too many of 86's albums falling into production stereotypes, that must be a good thing.


Jimi Hendrix =
Eric Clapton =
David Bowie
John Lennon
BB King

A tie for first place, we couldn't get an E string between them. And that's how it should be. No more need be said, apart from an Honourable Mention to Paul McCartney.

Worst Motorway


Oh you liked this one. At the end of the day, the young whipper snapper of an M25 — or Maggie's ditch as it's affectionately known — stole the tarmac crown from the 50 mile roadwork that is the M1. We hate them all.

Best Venue

Hammersmith Odeon
My front room
Playhouse Edinburgh
Manchester Apollo

Worst Venue

Cardiff, generally
Any Student Union Bar

Yes it's that old one man's meat is another man's acoustic hell as Wembley scores tops in both the above categories. Trouble is you always associate the venue with the gig itself, and if the band played badly or brilliantly, it can colour your view of the cavern in which they did it. Seems a lot of you have a high opinion of the sonic and seating capabilities of your own abode. Plenty of disgruntled votes centred around Cardiff, and Student Union bars are either lined with glass, or jobsworths, by all accounts. Dishonourable Mentions for the Pavilion Hemel Hempstead, My Front Room again, and Sheffield City Hall.


A Kind of Magic | Queen
So | Peter Gabriel
Graceland | Paul Simon
Eat 'Em And Smile | Roth
Slippery When Wet | Bon Jovi


Call Me Al | Paul Simon
Walk This Way | Run DMC
Sledgehammer | Gabriel
Walk Like An Egyptian | The Bangles
Wasted Years | Iron Maiden

A walkover for Mr Simon, and a feather in the cap for all those who can pick out gifted songwriting amongst record company hype and dubious plugging. Could Run/DMC's link with Aerosmith have helped them get to number two? The judges felt that all the singles which did well in the poll shared a certain something that made them stand out from run of the mill pop — imagination, a twist in the arrangement, a hook. It made them happy men.

Live act

Iron Maiden
Simple Minds
Huey Lewis

No arguments here, another conclusive conquest for Freddie and Co. They were well in the lead, though the rest of the field came closely bunched together. Could have been the Queen TV broadcast that gave them the final shove (almost 40 per cent of the marks). But you've got to have a good gig to start with.

Studio Act

Cocteau Twins
David Lee Roth
Bon Jovi
New Order

Now this presented a far fiercer battle for ascendancy. V. close. And, thought the judges, one of the most strangely polarised results in all the Poll — Bon Jovi and David Lee Roth on one side... Cocteau Twins and New Order on the other. Schizophrenic lot. But Genesis steamed up the middle and took the spool.

TV Show

The Tube
Whistle Test
No Limits
Music Box

Jools, you have captured the hearts of Britain's watching musicians with your slinky body and blonde hair. Oh no, that's Paula Yates, isn't it, the one who plays the piano. Will things be different next year when Rockschool returns to our screens? And why so few votes for Top Of The Pops. (We think we know.)

Unsung Hero

Steve Vai
John Peel
Billy Bragg

Yes, here come the humourists again. Either that, or there are a lot of readers out there planning to become very famous. Still, a vote's a vote, no fiddling, and that's who you elected. How can Costello be unsung? Is it because no one wants to hear his appalling voice? (That's enough personal interjection — ed.)

Who Should Go On The Bus

Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Five Star

The Bus being the one that is just about to drive over the cliff and happily kill all of its passengers. The scriptwriters of Eastenders — impressive though they are at all other times — seem to think that including lots of stuff about MIDI, sequencers and rehearsals etc, will do them a power of good with us musically oriented types across the country. But every band we've ever met/been in/had a drink with wouldn't put up with some of the dickhead actors or the ludicrously exaggerated roles they play for more time than it takes to garrotte someone with an open D. Nice to know you concur. And Nick Berry couldn't write a note to the milkman.


Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Eastenders Band
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Five Star

Well, we're agreed on at least one thing. This category attracted the largest single vote in the entire survey. Just under 50 per cent of ALL the hundreds of readers who sent in their forms took time to fill in this section with that name at the top of the list. If you added together the votes for every other candidate you wouldn't even be 20 per cent of the way towards the winner's score. It was a landslide victory, and we're sure they're deeply proud. Must be lovely to be so popular.

Saddest Break Up


Happiest Reformation


A clear and tragic win for Madness. An ecstatic triumph for Quo, and all you can say about the Police is that everyone's totally grasped the fact that they don't know what the hell is happening. Are they together? Are they apart? Only 1987 will tell. For Saddest Break Up the Honourable Mentions should go to Michelle and Lofty (the East-ender unmarried couple) and the Space Shuttle (sick). Some of you are happy to see Deep Purple reforming. Hmm.

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


Making Music - Jan 1987


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