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Article from Making Music, July 1987

gets better


And it's bigger than George Michael's pay slip. This year the country's instrument industry spills over into Olympia's National Hall in order to display its brand new wares to us eager folk. Admission to the British Music Fair is up from '86 (£3.50), but there's a far greater number of manufacturers and distributors exhibiting gear. Go, it will be deeply fabulous, see our first story for the public days, and doors open at 10am and close at 7pm. (If you're a trade type person it's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, but this year you'll be charged £1.50.) We're on stand N86 in the National Hall, and it's a black coffee, no sugar, if you were wondering.

Details are trickling in for this year's super soaraway British Music Fair, to be held on Friday July 31, Saturday August 1 and Sunday August 2.

The organisers tell us that one of the highlights will be the appearance of our own Guitar Guru, Paul Day, on the Saturday (see Guru page). We already knew that, of course. So what's everybody else doing?

Yamaha's competition to find the best amateur band in the world will be a highlight in the BMF's theatre. Seven bands will battle it out on stage, having been whittled down from the hundreds of tapes auditioned by Yamaha's panel of judges. Celebrity judges are promised for the British final on the Sunday, but no names as yet.

Casio make guitars, shock. We would describe the DG10 and DG20 (about £225 and £280) as push-button phones with stepped necks. They do all that usual Casio nonsense like preset sound and autorhythms, plus guitar related effects like transpose, mute, pitch, sustain and reverb effects. In addition, the 20 has MIDI, and body-mounted drum pads with cymbal, lo-tom, hi-tom and snare sounds. The dearer two (MG500 and MG510, £550 each) are better made guitars (they look like guitars) and significantly are usable as MIDI controllers. Can't wait to get our hands on them when they're previewed at the BMF — they won't be on sale till at least September.

The big news on the Rhino stand is a 35 per cent price cut in their DOD range of FX pedals, bringing them well below Boss, a principal rival. They also boast "the world's first" digital reverb in a footpedal (see Roland story).

At the other end of the price scale is Rickenbacker's most expensive guitar ever, the 381. This beast features a hand-carved maple front, twin truss rods, and a 21 fret neck. Available from the middle of this year, it weighs in at a handsome £1,170.

Slightly more approachable for the mortals among us is the 1998 Pete Townshend model, of which only 250 will be built. It features three pickups, a double-cutaway semi-acoustic body, and is identical to the guitar made famous by the beaky guitar-smasher back in the 1960s. £896.82 to the man there in the parka.

Peavey have a special new Euro PA range, designed with us little Europeans in mind. Small but loud is the motto. Theirs, not ours.

Peavey have also made an entry into the FX pedal world with a range including digital delay, choruses, distortion, and compressor/sustainer units. All incorporate facilities for MIDI assignment control.

Still under wraps but definitely due for an appearance is the new Fostex X30, a £399-ish Dolby C four-tracker. The X15 will be retained as the starter model in the range.

Bags of stuff is promised from Arbiter/Fender, principally the return of full-valverised amps from Champ up to Dual Showman stack. Fender and Remo will be running clinics.

Soundwave (Trace Elliot and Status) will be at their first BMF, showing the MP11 programmable bass pre-amp, the C500 4 x 10 500 watt combo, and several other new items, including a budget priced 1 x 15 cab. Whackier things are probably the Trace Elliot Multistack cabs, 200 watt wedges in either 2 x 10, 1 x 15, or 1 x 18 sizes. There's even a 4 x 5in "bright box" for really deaf gits. There's a new Status bass too — the Series 300 headless has a bolt-on graphite neck, two octave phenolic fingerboard, two humbuckers, active circuitry and a price of £795 including case. The Series 2000 has new MB low impedance pickups.

Back to Peavey for a moment. Their new Microbass 15 watt practice amplifier (for bass players, dimbo) has built-in compression, three band EQ, a headphone socket, and an 8in speaker. And it's only £110. Could this be Bible-bound, we ask?

Mr Roland says the BMF will mean lots of new software for D50, MC500, and S50 owners. There'll be a new tuner, a micro-rack panning delay, and the Boss RV2, a digital reverb footpedal. For the home market there are new HP pianos, and an LA synthesis multi-timbre eight voice MIDI module with digital reverb for £450, called the MT32, that could excite interest elsewhere in keyboard land. Other unconfirmed stuff includes a rackmount S50 module.

Washburn UK's stand will boast evidence of the company's new distribution deals: Seymour Duncan amps, including the new 60W combo, a snip at about 800 quid; Hamer guitars, including two Steve Stevens models; Frazer Wyatt powered cabinets, with a promised 'fresh, new look'; and Bartolini pickups, best known for their fab bass models.

There'll be some new Washburn stuff, too, natch — most interesting are two basses, the B15 (£300) and the well-active B20 (£350), and two six-strings, the revised G2, and the humbucker-and-single-coil G4. Busy boys!

Premier are showing at Olympia for the first time, with pastel kits, Paiste Concept cymbals, snares (see review, page 20), and three demos (3pm Friday, 4.30 Saturday, 6pm Sunday) with Charlie Morgan, Pete Jupp, plus others.

The Columbus brand name is being given a big push with the Series I £85 basic electric, the S2 £110 'vintage' copies, and the S3 super-Strats for £140. Then there's budget Columbus effects, with a maximum price of £80, cheap Columbus leads and accessories. These will all be on the FCN stand at the BMF, as will the new Arion Octaver, and Bass and Guitar Graphic pedals, a £75 headphone amp, and possibly a new Cougar CKX keyboard combo. Progressive rockers IQ will be demoing Westone, Cougar, Tama, and Zildjian on Friday at 6.30, Saturday at 3, and Sunday at 4.30. FCN will also be displaying mock-ups of both Mel Gaynor's and Phil Gould's Tama kits on the stand.

Aria promise several new models for the BMF; top of the line Integra guitars with low impedance pickups, locking trems, and a phenolic fingerbard on the most expensive. Prices between £499 and £699. The Aria XR guitars are not unrelated to Charvels in configuration and will cost £189-£279 depending on extras. The XRBs are equivalent basses, for £189-£249. There's also a possibility that the BMF will see the introduction of a brand new Aria guitar for under £130. More definite are a new £99 DDL in the Bigfoot effects range, loads of new cheap small amps, drums, and the interesting sounding APE2 Effect Programmer, which is a programmable multi-effects in a sophisticated looking footpedal, with chorus, delay, distortion and turbo distortion. Even more brill is the price — £299.

Going on at the same time as the BMF (public days being 31st July, 1st and 2nd August), but in the Hand and Flower Hotel just across the road, is the Alternative Trade Show, which will be featuring mainly goodies for guitarists. There'll be some big names on show, including Jaydee, Kramer, Acoustic, Tom Scholz, EBow, Gallien-Krueger, Hamer, Kincade, Morley, Groove Tubes, and lots others. One thing in particular that impressed us at the Frankfurt Trade Show was GT Electronics stunning Guitar pre-amp — do not miss if you've ever fancied a valve amp.


An interesting telephone call from Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins who wanted to tell us all about some hot news from Japan on the latest Yamaha products.

Most interesting seems to be the REX5O digital multi-FX, a non-rack-mounting item somewhat similar in appearance to the Midiverb.

So what can you do with it? Well, there are reverbs, gated reverbs, noise gating, compression, panning, and (a definite first) nine presets of "digital distortion". Close scrutiny of the Japanese leaflet suggests 30 presets and 60 user-programmed options. Sixteen-bit sampling at a 31.25kHz sampling rate, and a dynamic range of 80dB complete the specifications.

Then there's something called the DX7-S, described as "a new instrument" but looking very like that other well-known FM synthesiser with a similar name. As far as we can work out from the Japanese price it might be a cut-price version of the all-conquering beast, but it's hard to tell.

Bearing a passing resemblance to the REV 7 is an FM tone generator, the TX8OZ which seems to have eight outputs and the number 16 all over it. Not even the perceptive Mr Guthrie could offer much idea about that.

More easily explained is the REV 5, probably the new top of the range digital reverb, but definitely featuring a 44.1kHz sampling rate and an FX bandwidth of 20kHz. This monster will give you reverb, pitch-change, harmonising (which the REV 1 doesn't have), ambience and panning.


Two well-known British musical equipment companies have been taken over by larger operations.

Bandive Ltd, better known under its trading name of Turnkey, has sold out to Harman International Industries, an American conglomerate with worldwide sales of $300m. It is best known in this country for distributing Tascam gear.

The strengthened company will now find itself distributing both Tascam and Fostex: an interesting dilemma.

Meanwhile, Simmons Electronics Ltd has been bought by Carlton Communications PLC, a group of 23 companies involved in TV facilities, video production, digital TV equipment and digital audio. The Simmons name will remain and the new owner is committed to further expansion and diversification of the product range. Simmons itself acquired the assets of its US distributor, forming Simmons Electronics (USA) as part of the deal.

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

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Making Music - Jul 1987


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