In a world that's constantly changing
Jim Marshall, the man behind what is perhaps the world's best known amplifier company, recently got involved with a different kind of Rock than the kind he is usually associated with. The rock — or rather, cement — in question was outside the Guitar Centre music shop on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Taking their cue from the world famous Graummans' Chinese Theatre just a few hundred yards away, the management of the Guitar Centre have opened their own Hall (Pavement?) of Fame, 'Rock Walk', which will bear the imprints of Rock's legends. And just to get things off on the right foot (literally), the gala opening ceremony was attended not only by Mr Marshall, but by fellow luminaries Remo Belli, inventor of the first synthetic drum head, Robert Moog, father of the synthesizer, Bill Ludwig of Ludwig drums, and Frank Martin III of Martin Guitars.
Representing the players side of the biz were Les Paul, guitar and multitrack pioneer, Stevie Wonder, and Eddie Van Halen, all of whom dutifully made their marks in the mucky stuff. A star-studded audience featuring, amongst others, Twisted Sister, actor Robin Williams, Pat Benatar, bassist Stanley Clarke and Sammy Hagar were on hand to hear Jim Marshall as he acknowledged the accolade: "I am very flattered and touched to be honoured in this way," he said. "My wife and I haven't been away from the plant in more than six years, but we would not have missed this for anything."
This concrete evidence of Jim Marshall's fame testifies to a life in the music business spanning 50 years. Born in Kensington in 1923, Jim began his career doubling as a singer and drummer in 1942. By 1946, percussion was winning out over singing, and he decided to pursue it full-time. By 1949 he'd got good enough to start teaching other people... a list that was eventually to include such notables as Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Micky Waller from Little Richard's band, and Mick Underwood, who went on to play with Gillan. But that was still in the future...
The crucial move for Jim was opening his first retail shop in the mid 1950s, specialising in drums. Due to demand from his clientele he began to expand his stock, moving out into guitars and amps. And then, in 1962, the first Marshall amp, designed for bass guitar, was produced. The clientele, which by now included quite a few top names, loved it, and demanded more. Jim quickly established a reputation forgiving musicians just what they wanted; his first lead models were produced in consultation with The Who's Pete Townshend, and Brian Poole from The Tremoloes.
The next significant step forward came in 1965, when Pete Townshend asked Jim to cut his recently purchased Marshall 8x12" cabinet in half, to make transportation easier. Hence the first Marshall stack was born... TR
Whilst last month's DX Convention at the Tara Hotel in Kensington may not have been an event of world significance, it did, however, provide a forum for many owners of Yamaha instruments like the DX7 and the CX5M computer to get together and have a natter and a bash.
In addition it provided the scene for the London premier showing of Yamaha's new wonder keyboard, the DX100. Ken Campbell demonstrated the DX100, getting a range of sounds using the hand controls and the breath controls as exciting as those available from traditional frontline instruments like lead guitar and saxophone. In fact, so impressive was it that Chris Holland-Hill — our guitar playing editorial assistant — left the room ashen faced, horrified by its capabilities.
Also demonstrated at the convention was David Pierce's CX5M program that makes dual voices, performance memories, an extended library and footswitch options a possibility on the CX5.
The DX Owners Club who presided over the event were very much in evidence and those wishing to find out more about the club should contact: DX Owners Club, (Contact Details) RW
We fixed it, yes we fixed it. Once again the IM offices became a scene of tearful gratitude and hysterical incredulity as the winner of the October competition for the much coveted Mesa Boogie amp came to collect her prize. Pictured with her winnings is Mrs Diana Pepper, whose correct entry was the first to be picked out of the mountain loads of entries we received. The Boogie was presented by Mr Phil Kazamias, who runs The Music Bankbackline hire company and who came along on behalf of Mesa Boogie to give away the goodies.
Having got up at the crack of dawn and battled through blinding rain all the way from the wilds of Luton, Diana and her husband, who run a record shop in Hitchin and manage a three piece band in their spare time, were treated to further beneficence in the form of a slap up meal on board a boat in the nearby docks.
And the reason for this all-round generosity? Well because we received so many entries for this competition (a larger number than we've ever received) we have been able to make certain economies in our sanitation budget. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. RW
The various likely purchasers of PA systems — professional bands, cabaret artists, discos etc — will very likely build their choice of system around the performance of various units which they have either hired, borrowed, or used in an already installed club situation. Their judgements would very likely have been impeded by haste, technical hitches and quite probably, alcohol.
With this in mind, Bose have been concentrating over the last few years on establishing locations where their PA systems can be tested at leisure, with the relevant technical expertise on hand to sort out any misleading problems. So far this has led to the establishment of four 'Soundshops' one each in Bradford (at Dial Design Ltd) Birmingham (Tec Ltd) Newcastle (Sound Electronics) and Manchester (at Hazel Grove Music).
To this chain, which it is hoped will finally run to eight altogether, is being added another Soundshop at Robert Luff Theatrical Hire in Peckham, South London. The new Soundshop is a discreet room, with all Bose's available PA equipment ready set up. Bands and artists will be able to make appointments to test the equipment, bringing in their own gear and musicians, and taking as much time as they need to make a fair assessment of the equipment's true performance.
The last three Soundshops planned will be in North London, Bristol and Glasgow, making it easy for bands etc to call in along their touring routes.
Bose Soundshop, (Contact Details). RW
Pearl have recently come up with their version of the double bass-drum pedal for single bass-drum use. (For anyone in the dark on this development, the unit allows one to sound like Billy Cobham while only carrying around one bass drum.) Pearl's is based on a brand new middle-weight foot pedal which has twin posts like your old Gretsch/Camco with a hexagonal axle shaft fitted with a slightly moveable bike-type cog.
This footplate isn't like any other I've seen from Pearl — it's made in two pieces and is stretched to the frame itself by a 'U' shaped piece of thick wire. A pair of sprung spurs are tapped into the base of the frame to help to halt any forward movement. The pedal uses that tried and tested open jaw mechanism to join it to the bass drum hoop, but in this case it's cast and much more substantial than ever before. There's a cam for the action itself which is as usual hanging down from the beater axle. This cam locates into a heart-shaped piece of wire which eventually joins to the expansion spring.
The left hand pedal, which is meant to be situated by the side of the hi hat, is identical but without the stretcher underneath or the jaws or the spring. Instead there's a substantial metal plate which stretches the pedal and gives it some more mass to stop it from moving. So far so good. Pearl very cleverly pick up the drive from the cam end of the pedal (it's on the right side and the assembly there has been removed to leave the shaft exposed), and they fit a knuckle joint here with a rubber gaiter over the top. This knuckle joint is affixed to a telescopic shaft which carries the axle movement to the main pedal. Since this shaft is telescopic you have a good deal of adjustment for left pedal positioning. A pair of drum key operated screws fix this length solidly.
At the other end of the rod is an identical knuckle joint which is joined permanently to a spring, cam and short axle assembly which attaches ingeniously to the left hand post of the main bass drum pedal. A pair of drum-key locked clamps are joined to a rectangular cast framework measuring 6"x2" and the gubbins all fits inside it. An identical beater holder block is fitted to the short axle and it's joined to a cam, and of course an adjustable spring as per usual. All the same adjustments may be carried out as on the pedal fixed to the bass drum hoop. It would appear to be reasonably important to ensure that the connecting rod and the main beater's axle are at the same height so that everything runs smoothly. Now all you need to do is insert your beater into the rectangular assembly and replace the original main beater with a cranked one so they don't both hit the head at the same position and you're ready to thunder! This cranking puts the two beaters equidistant either side of the centre of the head.
Now the beauty of this pedal is that by and large it can be persuaded to fit anybody's footpedal providing it has a twin post, or at least a thinnish single post on the left hand side.
So, since it's available as a 'conversion' kit without the main pedal for £115, it may be just your cup of tea. It will undoubtedly fit Cameo, Gretsch, Ludwig, and many of the other less heavy pedals, but should you have one with double springs (like a Slingerland) you'd need to remove the left hand spring to fit the clamp. At the moment it would appear that any left-footed drummers amongst you are not going to be able to use this unit because the spring invariably is joined to the right side of the framework and this is where the con-rod's knuckle joint needs to attach.
In conclusion I think this is a very flexible idea with great potential, my only query is why it's based on such a lightweight pedal. I asked Pearl this and they informed me that they had noticed that throughout the world drummers were beginning to switch to less cumbersome footpedals. I must admit to being a trifle sceptical about this, but that notwithstanding, Pearl's double pedal is very easy to use and it ain't particularly expensive. BH
Of late, Simmons have been doing a little work on updating their SDS7. For a start, all of its samples have been changed. If you buy a new one, which I suppose we must now refer to as Mark 2, you will find that the inherent sounds are now much bigger and better, and generally more 'drummy'.
The bass and snare drum now have dual samples; as you increase the strength of your hit, another sound is triggered. In the case of the bass drum it is very slightly rounder, but with the snare it's more ambient, as if it had a gated/plate effect working on it. The tom samples too have been changed for the better; they're still digitally sampled like the bass and snare, but as before you may add analogue sounds to widen and lengthen them.
All these new '7s' have zif sockets fitted to their modules to allow you to change chips without mishap should the mood take you. But, for £6.99 you can buy a zif to fit to Mark I.
All of these new sounds are available to retro-fit to the original SDS7. (If you wanted the dual-sounds, though, you'd need to buy the whole module complete with zif which would cost you £189.99. (It is possible to use the snare drum pad from SDS9 with this setup to trigger the two sounds via a 'Y' lead but I'm not convinced that this would really do the job for you.)
Besides the new voices Simmons have other new ones at a bargain price. They come in a blister pack and a kit of voices (five drums) will cost you just £29.95. Their sounds could be described very quickly as big, bigger and biggest! If you were to buy the new dual samples you'd pretty soon discover that the controls don't work in the same way for them. Therefore to familiarise you with the new way of changing sounds Simmons supply an overlay card which shows exactly what needs to be done.
The company have also changed the incrementor on SDS7. It is now notched so will not slip inadvertently to another voice as you play. I always found this to be something of an embarrassment with the old Mark I. I also didn't go for the remedy which utilised a matchstick or a piece of gaffer tape. Anyway,this is all behind us now.
The pads are also different nowadays. Those new ones are those already used as standard for SDS9. They are less hard on the wrists and really, I suppose, superior in every way. The only difference between the 7 and 9 pads are in their connectors. The 7 has XLRs, whereas the other has the usual jacks.
Simmons have managed to keep the SDS7 at the same price it always was: £2,156.25. I think they're to be commended for this because it must be more expensive to produce the Mark 2.
Off the record Simmons would appear to be working on a rack-type stand for their pads which is evidently going to sell at a truly reasonable price. Otherwise there has to be an amplifier in the pipeline! BH
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