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And here is the rest of the Rockschool news. Repeats of the first series, which achieved an audience not dissimilar to The Tube's million viewers, will start on Sunday 17th June, at 1.25pm on BBC1, and running for the next nine weeks at the same time (assuming, of course, that we aren't invaded by those nasty Russians, or that someone extremely famous doesn't cop it late on a Saturday night).
Then there's the Rockschool tour – a complete live version with your fave twangists and bashers doing their stuff in an on-stage situation. Expect to be arrested in the foyer of many venues by stalls selling the Rockschool book (with luck) plus other tomes and merchandise. So even though most shows are due to start at 8pm, an arrival time of 7pm might be a good idea. Here's the list, then — 8pm start unless noted; £3 entrance unless noted. See you there.
9 June London, Woolwich Hall (Greenwich Festival) £1.50. 17 June Liverpool, Playhouse. 18 June Venue to be announced. 19 June Sheffield, Leadmill. 20 June Bradford, Queen's Hall. 21 June Fareham, Ferneham Hall. 23 June Plymouth, Exhibition Centre (Air Dome). 24 June Exeter, St George's Hall. 25 June Bristol, The Granary. 26 June Swansea, Pen-Y-Rheol. 27 June Bridgend, Leisure Centre. 28 June Cardiff, New Ocean Club. 30 June Central London, venue to be confirmed. 2 July Edinburgh, Queen's Hall. 3 July Dundee, Marryat Hall. 4 July Aberdeen, Art's Centre Theatre. 5 July Inverness, Eden Court Theatre £3.50. 6 July Glasgow, Third Eye Centre. 8 July London, Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
Syco Systems seem to be turning into a full scale workshop judging by the projects in progress at Conduit Place in downtown Paddington. Their present favourite recommendation is linking Simmons SDS8 pads to a Drumulator. The necessary circuit boarding costs £56 inc VAT. The Drumulator itself has seven new sets of chips including two electronic kits, a jazz kit, African percussion, Latin percussion, sounds effects, standard kit and a rock kit. Is that seven? Yup. Most of them run to 12 sounds and cost £225 inc VAT plus another £56 for ZIF sockets. Never heard of ZIF? Where have you been? It stands for Zero Force Insertion. Turn a screw or a small lever and the 16 holes waiting for the incoming chip open wide so it can be easily dropped into place. Turn the screw again and they grip the pins with no threat of buckled connections. Syco have also been doing some personal DX7 RAM pack programming. Look out for silkier string and brass voices (more ensemble-ish); spikey, digital 'tings' with a quality not entirely unlike a certain German synthesiser with three letters in its name; and a few ideas nicked from Yamaha's DX1. About £99 (plus VAT).
Incidentally, we were watching the Oscar nominations weeks ago on the office Baird. On the verge of dashing out and burning the nearest McDonalds, because they kept all the rotten awards for their own ropey films, we spotted one, glorious British triumph. Then, at the top of the teetering bandstand, in brilliant red, was a Simmons kit. Take that, Reagan.
In an economical round the world trip, the American BC Rich guitars have surfaced on these shores with an extra pair of initials and a Japanese production centre. The BC NJs are bolt-on and through-neck copies of the hand carved American originals. In true, entrepreneurial style, it was Mr Bernie C Rich himself who suggested the Japanese do it. Prices fall between £230 and £250. Specs are as you'd expect from good quality eastern construction with Gotoh machines and 'exclusive wound for BC Rich NJ Series humbucking type' pickups. Proper bone nuts and mother-of-pearl inlays, however, so they haven't skimped too much. The quartet of imports prepared for Britain comprises the RBB-0 (a copy of the Rich Bich Bass), RMG-O-T (Mockingbird), RBG-O-T (Bich Six) and RSG-O-T (Stealth). All have trems as standards.
Celestion went to the desert for their most recent inspiration, at least for the name. Their new Sidewinder is a 12in guitar speaker with a 2in voice coil, edge wound with ribbon wire using 'a revolutionary dry winding process on machinery developed and built at Celestion.' Better efficiency means improved heat conduction, equates with cooler coil, leads to louder driver. Does it bite?
Oh to be in England now that the Music Shows are here. Two for your diary. From June 13 to 15 there's the Over The Road Show taking place at the Small Hall, Kensington Town Hall. Plenty of recording gear up and running, including examples from Soundtracs, Trident, Fostex, Teac, AMS, Bel, Drawmer and Applied Microsystems plus a fully functioning 46 track video post production suite set up by Britannia Row. It's public, and it's free. The British Music Fair is a trade only show, but will be the launching pad for all the new gear finding its way into the shops before Christmas. The BMF operates in a series of hotels based around Russell Square and runs from August 5 to 8.
Musimex have been appointed the British distributors for the sophisticated West German made Engl Digital Amps. A true marriage of technologies, the Engls feature valve output stages, but with eight non-volatile memories that can store information on gain, four band eq, effects looping, overdrive and volume levels. The guitarist can call up the patches from front panel controls or a pedal board.
And, about as far from digital science as you could get, Gibson have just announced their collaboration with banjo supremo Earl Scruggs culminating in the Gibson Earl Scruggs Model Banjo. What more can you say?
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