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Article from Making Music, April 1986

Cheap guitars, new samplers, drum machines, synths and more - plus free details if you want them

Here is The News, with Making Music's unique added attraction. Our special Reader Response Card (between pages 8 and 9) will help you get extra details on any of the gear mentioned. But remember, as these are such hot news items there may be a short wait before makers get all their details finalised. Now read on, and have your pens ready...


If the guitar is as high tech as the press release... An elegant-looking, headless six string for use either as a guitar, or MIDI synth controller (synth not supplied). A hex pickup, plus onboard controls for Sensitivity, Velocity (for string attack, rather than faster solos), guitar/synth Balance, and most interestingly, a Parameter Intensity, which allows the player to MIDI about with one of the source synthesiser's own parameters. From what we interpret of the brochure, the wang arm may look and feel like the real thing, but is electrical and can be assigned to control pitch bend, modulation, portamento, glissando, and other wobbly pitch-type effects. Marillion-man Rothery liked the prototype so much he ordered one immediately. But it wasn't ready for demonstration at the Frankfurt Trade Fair, so we'll comment on performance and value when we've fingered a working one; still, rumour bodes well.


Seven and a half inches of MIDI sequencer? So what if it's monophonic, and only holds 512 notes? The Korg MP-100 Music Programmer is a virtually pocket-sized musical notepad which allows you to notate a single melody line onto a stave. It offers step-time writing and editing, note lengths, ties, and slurs, and both MIDI and DIN sync outputs. For playback, simply MIDI the MP-100 to a synthesiser and go. But remember to take it out of your trousers.


Panasonic, currently best known in this country for hi-fi equipment, are launching a range of PA gear under the brand name of RAMSA. Tried and tested already in Japan, RAMSA are rapidly developing a reputation for quality in the West.

First off the slipway here are three vocal microphones (£60/£100/£120), the tiny 10w Micro Monitors at £70, and a range of compact monitors and PA cabinets. Wooden boxes aren't intrinsically too exciting, but RAMSA look set to become a common name on stages around the country.


In a rare low-tech moment, Yamaha have released some analogue equipment: six cheap foot pedals, known as the Sound Device Series. With prices ranging between £40 and £54, the distortion, overdrive, compression, stereo chorus, flange, and seven-band graphic are obviously aimed at the bottom end of the market. "No frills", Yamaha claim, quite justifiably, "just straightforward quality at an affordable price." Who are we to argue?


Some clever new boxes from Simmons, most notably the MTM programmable interface, which will convert audio signals (from miked drums, for instance) or electronic inputs into accurate trigger and MIDI code, allowing you to trigger a Simmons from virtually anything. It can store MIDI data, trigger routing, and all the parameters of its own built-in delay and sequencer. Also out now is the TMI, a cheap trigger-to-MIDI interface, allowing any Simmons kit to drive the equally new SDE Simmons drum voice expander (featuring marimbas, glocks, etc).


Charvel guitars, recommended by virtually every recording artiste in the USA, are shortly to be on sale in Britain. J.H.S. will be importing these brightly coloured six and four string items.


The first Casio drum box is out now, lurking on your dealer's shelves. The RZ1 is a largish digital (PCM) unit, with 12 preset sounds, each with individual audio out, a 100 pattern/20 song memory, MIDI in/out, three accent levels, and most importantly, four sampling memories for your own boom, thwack, or fart. These memories last 0.2 seconds each, or 0.8 seconds when linked together. Cheap at £395.

To play the RZ1, or any other MIDI-equipped source including Simmons, Casio have produced a set of five touch-sensitive pads, with memory for four different MIDI set-ups.


Although the DS4, (16 bit eight voice sampler), is not available until June, Greengate are taking orders already: the 12 second version, including Apple computer will retail for £2650, while the 24 second version costs a further £250. Which is nearly £100 per second. The AMS 24 second delay/sampler costs £1000 per second.


Not a Kray twin, but a large list of new goodies from our Oriental mentors. Starting off with two sampling keyboards, the S-50 and S-10. The 61 key S-50 is 16 voice polyphonic, has a sampling rate variable between 32kHz, 15kHz, and 7.5kHz, and will give 17.5 seconds of sample at its most efficient setting (same as the Emulator II), with a bandwidth of 20Hz-13kHz. Price will be less than £3000.

The S-10 has 49 black-and-white things, is eight voice polyphonic, and will do 4.4 seconds of samples at 20Hz-13kHz for around £1000.

Both samplers are MIDI compatible, have built-in disk drives, and a whizzy Roland-style alpha wheel for modifying your sounds. Clever stuff, but not available here until May, at the earliest.


Not only have Zildjian introduced a computer designed cymbal range (the Z-series) without tonal grooves, but there's also a new carrying case available, called the Cymbal Safe. The Cymbal Safe is made of light, tough plastic, will hold up to 12 cymbals of no more than 22in diameter, and costs roughly £70. Write to FCN, (Contact Details) before June for a £10 voucher.


A brand new range of British amplifiers is on its way from Cougar Amplification Technology of Tonbridge. The first amp to look out for is the CBX100 Bass system, which promises high quality and value.

Speaking of which, Westone are introducing a new range of guitars by the name of Pantera. Distributors FCN tell us that they promise "a greater combination of sounds and quality". They'll be here next month.


Home recordists are among the only people who use cassettes for legitimate purposes (ie not recording other musicians' records). If the Government introduces a levy on blank cassettes, home recordists will be out of pocket.

The money gleaned from a tape levy will go to the major record labels, not the struggling independents who help promote new bands. Does an industry that can afford the fatuous 'Life Goes Better With Music' campaign really need any extra profit?

If you are opposed to the idea of a tape levy, write to both your local MP, and the Prime Minister. Do it now, before it's too late.


Have you ever played a Radio One session? If you have, you might be able to help...

Did you ken John Peel (ahem) was planning to release a selection of his programmes' sessions on record? Strange Fruit Records have reached agreement with the relevant parties for their release on three or four track 12 in singles. With an archive stretching from Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green) to Half Man Half Biscuit, via T.Rex, Bowie, and The Banshees, it's obvious that Peel has access to an enormous wealth of recorded material.

The Strange Fruit series won't just feature the best known acts - the choice of groups is John's personally, and features lesser known bands as well as Joy Division and The Cure.

However, of the 150 or so groups on the preliminary selection (back to 1977), there are six that Strange Fruit have been unable to locate. So, if you were in BLOOD & ROSES, BRIGANDAGE, CULTURE, FRANTIC ELEVATORS, DIAGRAM BROTHERS (now there was a good band), or THE STIFFS, please call Strange Fruit on (Contact Details), where you will learn "something to your advantage".


Two new boxes from MTR: Vesta Fire have a combined compressor/noise gate double footpedal with a send & return loop linking the two, allowing you to use the effects individually, with other pedals inbetween.

MTR themselves have announced the own brand DNG-One Dual Gate, a stereo noise gate with internal/external triggering, filters, variable attack, hold, and decay, and stereo link for auto-pan and fade. The price of £274 indicates that it's aimed at the market currently dominated by Drawmer...

Lastly, watch out for Fernandes guitars, a new Japanese copy.

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Smoke: The Gossip Column

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

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Making Music - Apr 1986


Previous article in this issue:

> It's Like This

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> Smoke: The Gossip Column

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