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Scam From NAMM

Article from Making Music, February 1987

Highlights from America's West Coast instrument expo. Hot scoops.


NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants, an American organisation that holds two enormous international music exhibitions each year in the USA — we went to see the west coast one, held in California in January. It's the most important place to see new musical instruments and gear outside of this month's Frankfurt show in West Germany. This is what we found (and it's worth bearing in mind that some products mentioned don't have UK distribution yet).

ROLAND MADE a big hit at NAMM with their brand new D50 synth, the first to feature their Linear Arithmetic (L/A) Synthesis. Roland told us that this newly developed system allows fully digital synthesis in combination with PCM sampled sounds (delivered in suitably languid west coast style). Blimey, that's amazing, we replied. They offered more: LA synthesis is built from blocks called 'partials', which come from either synth or sampled sources. On-board effects (parametric EQ, chorus and reverb) make things even weirder, and a new storage medium saves the lot (IC Magnetic Cards, giving four times the memory of Roland's M64C cartridge). We pinched ourselves, but it was still there. UK price should be about £1,500.

FENDER SHOWED OFF a new Strat at NAMM, would you believe, the US-built Fender Strat Plus. There are some new features to beef up the 33-year-old design, including Lace Sound Sensors (otherwise known as pickups). They're designed by Don Lace to eliminate hum and noise, and as a passive system are claimed to outperform active setups. Sperzel machine heads lock the strings to the string post of each machine, the claim here being eliminated 'backlash', no post movement and, crucially, the absence of string slippage when wanging. The nut was designed by Trev Wilkinson and features needle-bearing rollers. All the indications are that Fender consider this the ultimate Strat.

FOSTEX HAD a big new 4-tracker at NAMM, the Model 460. At first glance it's like an expanded-mixer version of the four-channel-mixer 260. The 460 has eight mixer channels, offers phantom powering on each channel for condenser mikes, three-way EQ per channel, normal or double tape speed with suitable playback EQ for each, and two-position autolocater. Significantly, the 460 features SMPTE/EBU sync capability that gives musicians the potential for MIDI triggering from tape (the facility will also endear the machine to those wanting to sync the 460 to their video tracks). Fostex were touting this machine at NAMM as "simply the best multitracker made". UK price - if it comes here - could be about £1,600.

Hipshot, known for their instantly retuneable machine head for bass, showed a new six-string version for similar low E to low D switching... Award for most unsubtle name for a Strat-type guitar goes to the Kalamazoo-based Heritage guitar company and their three-pickup tremmed "Stat" model... Stars seen loitering included Jon Bon Jovi, Allan Holdsworth, Chick Corea, Tom Scholz, Rick Derringer and Bill Bruford... cack-handed Elliot Easton of The Cars designed two new guitars for Kramer, the EE Pro I and EE Pro II, replete with Floyd Rose trems and Seymour Duncan pickups... Boss now give a five year warranty in the US for all their products — can we expect the same here in blighty, Mr Boss?... American Showster Guitars had a, er, wonderful looking guitar, the AS Chevy, which they reckon transforms the look of the classic 1957 Chevrolet tail fin into a high tech guitar. It apparently sustains like mad, too... A new name to us in Yamaha-Casio small keyboard land was Suzuki, who showed five little synths, including one with a 'Jazzman Autosolo feature'. Hmmm... A small guitar-head-mounted device claiming to give infinite sustain was introduced, from Sustainiac Systems. It was still going when we left...



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

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Making Music - Feb 1987

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