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#291 — JULY 2018



INTERVIEWS — Pagan, Albert Lee, Rackett, Kaki King, Van Larkins

REVIEWED — Line 6 Powercabs, Fender Player Series Vox AC30 S1 Amplifier, Audient ID4,

Faith Blood Moon Acoustic, Line 6 Spider V Combo, Sterling By Music Man AL40 and more!

CONTENTS 08 10 11 12 18 20 21 22 24 32 33 34 35 36 68 70

Giveaways Industry News Music News Product News Cover Story: Bullet For My Valentine Pagan Van Larkins Albert Lee Rackett Kaki King Features Musicology Electronic Music Production Guitar Bass Percussion Product Reviews Directory Show & Tell /MIXDOWNMAGAZINE


Bullet For My Valentine PG. 18




PG. 20

PG. 22

Let’s be honest, guitars are just so damn cool. I’ve been playing for over 20 years now and I’m still yet to tire of it, or run out of new things to learn. As you may have guessed, this month’s issue of Mixdown is all about the guitar. With the Melbourne Guitar Show as well as the Sydney and Adelaide Guitar Festivals coming up in a matter of weeks, we wanted to make sure our July issue was packed full of great features, news and reviews all about the stringed wonders. This is a big one, so dive on in. Thanks for reading! NICHOLAS SIMONSEN - EDITOR

PUBLISHER Furst Media 3 Newton Street, Richmond VIC 3121 (03) 9428 3600 EDITOR Nicholas Simonsen

For breaking news, new content and more giveaways visit our website.




CONTRIBUTORS Rob Gee, Peter Hodgson, Christie Elizer, Nick Brown, David James Young, Adrian Violi, Michael Cusack, Augustus Welby, Luke Shields,

EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Alex Watts, Jacob Colliver, Will Brewster, Tex Miller

Alex Watts, Jessica Over, Aaron Streatfeild, James Di Fabrizio, Adam Norris, Alex Winter, Will Brewster, Eddy Lim, Lewis Noke-Edwards




6 405 Brunswick St, FITZROY. ph 03.9419.5070 128 Sydney Rd, BRUNSWICK. ph 03.9448.8635

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GIVEAWAYS IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic Stage Giveaway The IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic Stage is a compact microphone, preamp, and processing unit which recreates studio-quality sound on stage. Simply clip the device to the sound hole of your guitar and enjoy full, rich acoustics no matter where you’re playing. Thanks to our friends at Sound & Music, we’re giving away an iRig Acoustic Stage to one lucky reader.

Harron’s Deluxe Guitar Care Kit Giveaway Harron Custom is making it easy to take care of your guitar with its Deluxe Care Kit. The cleaning process is simplified with Harron’s multipurpose Speed Wipe, high-quality carnauba wax Body Butter, and lemon oil Board Sauce that will leave your guitar totally spotless. Thanks to our friends at Harron Custom, we’ve got two Deluxe Care Kits to give away absolutely free.

JVB Strings Giveaway

Last Month’s Giveaway Winners Aston Swiftshield Giveaway Combining Aston Microphones’ Swift shock mount and Shield pop filter into one handy bundle, the Aston SwiftShield gives you the perfect set up for your studio vocal mic. Its universal mic mount and ultra-swift proprietary mounting system will take your home studio to the next level of ease. Thanks to our friends at Link Audio, we had an Aston SwiftShield to give away last month and the winner is: Gareth from Melbourne. Congratulations!

Vox MV50 AC Mini Amplifier Giveaway Vox’s MV50 adds a new level of innovation and a touch of modernity to a classic amplifier design, boasting an incredible 50 watts of power for authentic tube tone at a fraction of the usual size. Designed with an emphasis on analogue, the MV50 is the ideal solution for serious guitar tone reminiscent of old tube amps. Thanks to our friends at Yamaha Australia, we had one to give away absolutely free and the winner is: Belinda from Brisbane. Congratulations!

JVB’s premium polymer coated strings offer all the finesse your guitar could need. With a thin coating that's perfect for tonal changes, these strings are built to last three times longer and make staying in tune a breeze. Thanks to our friends at JVB Strings, we’re giving away a bunch of quality string sets this month.

For your chance to win any of these prizes, head to our giveaways page at and follow the instructions. *These giveaways are for Australian residents only and one entry per person. For full terms and conditions visit


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INDUSTRY NEWS MTV Australia Goes Unplugged MTV Australia is producing original episodes of its Unplugged series for the first time in this country. The first two will be filmed in front of a live audience on Wednesday July 25 at Melbourne’s Cobblestone Pavilion at Meat Market, Gang of Youths and Amy Shark. Two more events will be announced for 2018and all Unplugged episodes will premiere on Foxtel and Fetch later in the year. Simon Bates, Vice President and head of MTV APAC, said, “MTV is distributed in 790 million plust homes, so it’s an exciting opportunity for Australian artists to potentially reach a new global audience.” Peter Bingeman, CEO of Visit Victoria, said, “Melbourne is the home of live music in Australia, and we also have more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the world. MTV Unplugged Melbourne will help us share our stories to new audiences, not only with regard to our music credentials, but also the neighbourhoods, restaurants, cafés, events, arts and other cultural experiences in a city full of surprises.”

Major Names At Indie-Con Some of the biggest names in the independent sector will be at the second Indie Con, held Thursday July 26 and Friday July 27 in Adelaide. These include Charles Caldas (Merlin), Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, artist manager Michael McMartin, A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess, Dean Ormston (APRA AMCOS), Chris O’Neill (APRA AMCOS), Riot Grrrl movement pioneer Molly Neuman, Justin West (Secret City Records), Vincent Fenice (PIAS), Kill Rock Stars’ Portia Sabin, Dom Alessio (Sounds Australia), Harvey Saward (Remote Control Records), Steve Cross (Remote Control Records), Tom Mee (Spotify), Henry Compton (The Orchard), Leanne de Souza (AAM), Linda Bosidis (Mushroom Publishing), Lisa Bishop (Music SA), Lynne Small (PPCA), Mardi Caught (Annex) and Matt Tanner (Native Tongue Publishing). They’ll discuss the challenges, solutions and opportunities for the indie sector. The conference also offers advancement in professional and business development skills, one-on-one networking potential, and insights into the latest innovations and technological advancements in products, services and strategies.

Study #1: Aussies To Spend $1.7B In Four Years PwC’s 17th annual Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook report forecasts that spending by Australians on music will reach $1.7 billion by the year 2022. Digital music spend will leap 10.2 percent from $589 million in 2017 to $959 million in 2022. The spend on live music, including concert tickets and merchandise, is estimated to expand 2.7 percent from $677 million to $775 million.

Study #2: Smoking Weed Makes TV More Enjoyable US media and brand consultancy Miner and Co. Studio has found that smoking marijuana not only makes people want to watch more TV, but it also gives them a greater experience and even allows viewers to relate more to ads. Of those surveyed, 75 percent admitted they watched more TV after a toot, and


86 percent of these thought it a greater experience, arguing the ganja gave them a greater attention span when bingewatching and made them more attuned to trying out a new show. Other findings show 60 percent are more likely to buy the products that were advertised during the breaks, and 77 percent watched the ad all the way through.

Study #3: More National Pill Testing Needed At Festivals A report from the consortium which held the first pill testing at Canberra’s Groovin’ The Moo in April has urged the federal government to take a leadership role in the issue, saying it will save lives. Safety and Testing and Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE) revealed that only 46 percent of the tested drugs were deemed relatively pure, while 70 of 83 participants who tested MDMA tabs found that only 42 contained some MDMA and just 32 tested high purity. STA-SAFE called the Moo test an “overwhelming success” in that festival patrons were willing to allow their stash to be tested even when there was still a grey legal cloud over whether they could be grabbed by the blueys.

Study #4: When Do You Stop Listening To Music? According to music streaming platform Deezer, we stop listening to music at the age of 30. From between ages 12 and 22, our brains go through a lot of changes and we’re more receptive to the songs we hear. But at 30, we’re engrossed with other things. Apparently, the peak age to discover new music is 24. The survey of 1000 Brits said at that age, 75 percent listened to ten or more new tracks a week, and 64 percent sought out five new artists per month. After hitting age 30, 60 percent were grinding their wheels in a musical rut listening to the same songs over and over, while 25 percent wouldn’t bother to listen to any style of music apart from their favourite one(s). Nearly half (47 percent) wished they had more time to dedicate

to discovering new music, and 41 percent hope to spend more time in the future checking out new artists.

Label Nominees For AIR Awards Up for Best Independent Label at this month’s AIR indie awards are ABC Music, Milk! Records, Dot Dash Recordings, Bad Apples Music and UNFD. Thanks to independent Australian ticketing agency moshtix, the recipient will receive a digital marketing package valued at $20,000 to help showcase their talent to the public. The awards are held on Thursday July 26 at the Queen’s Theatre.

ACT Govt. Gives Canbeera Live Music A Boost The ACT government has given Canberra’s live music sector a $108,000 funding boost. To be run through peal music association Music ACT, the money will be used to build up skills in artist management, recording, touring, and promoting, as well as to kick-start more all-ages gigs in the region. Minister for the Arts and Community Events Gordon Ramsay said,“ We want to encourage a dynamic culture and improve vitality in our city, and this program is a step in the right direction to achieve this.”

Coaches For Live Music Professional Development Program Victoria’s peak music association Music Victoria has chosen the ten music industry coaches who will be engaged in oneon-one coaching sessions with the 20 successful participants in the Victorian Government-backed 2018 Music Works, Live Music Professionals program. It’s a free professional and business development program for independent promoters, venue owners, venue managers and band bookers that will run from Tuesday July 3 through to October. The 2018 coaches are: Ashlea O’Loughlin (Social Seasons), Ben Thompson, (venue booker at 170 Russell), Brian Taranto (Love Police Touring, Boogie, New Years Evie, Out On The Weekend), Emily Kelly (Deathproof PR), Moira Mckenzie (Sanicki

Lawyers), Nigel Melder (Live Nation, Download Festival), Sally Mather (Corner Hotel, Northcote Social Club), Sharlene Harris (ALH Group), and Tom Harris (White Sky music accounting). More info at

triple j Unearthed High Returns Triple j’s Unearthed High is back for its 11th year, scouring the best high school act in the land. The winner will be flown to triple j in Sydney to record, mix or master their music, which will be played on triple j and triple j Unearthed. They’ll also receive music industry advice and triple j will visit their school. The best Unearthed High entry from an Indigenous artist, as well as being eligible for the major prize, will win ongoing mentorship from the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) and a songwriting workshop at their school by the APRA AMCOS Songmakers program. Deadline is Monday July 30.

Green Music Working On Plastic-free Events Green Music Australia is intensifying its campaign to remove single-use plastic water bottles from festivals and venues. This month is Plastic Free July, and the latest ambassadors to come aboard are Gang of Youths, Alex The Astronaut, The Teskey Brothers, Luca Brasi and Moreton. Their roles will be to stress to venues and festivals where they perform that they don’t want disposable bottles, asking for jugs or water stations to refill their own bottles instead.

GYRO To Open Up Globe For Indie Acts A new Australian GYROstream wants to change the game for independent music distribution. GYRO stands for Get Your Record Out. It does so with various artist services and competitive pricing, offering vinyl production, playlist plugging and sync opt-in, plus publicity, grant writing and entertainment insurance for Australian and New Zealand artists. More details at

MUSIC NEWS Statue Of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham Unveiled In His Hometown Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham has earned a sculpture dedicated to his music career in his hometown of Redditch, England. The sculpture, which stands 16 feet wide and weighs more than 5,000 pounds, was unveiled on what would have been Bonham’s 71st birthday. Designed by Mark Richards, the memorial piece features Bonham at his drum kit alongside his full name, date of birth and the date of his passing next to the Led Zeppelin IV symbol. A tribute on the sculpture reads, "The most outstanding and original drummer of his time, John Bonham's popularity and influence continue to resonate within the world of music and beyond."

Ben Harper And Charlie Musselwhite Embark On Australian Tour

Albert Hammond Jr. Arrives In Australia For Two Intimate Shows

Splendour In The Grass Takes Over Byron Bay This Month

Blues legends Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite are setting off on an Australian tour in support of their recent collaborative album, No Mercy In This Land. The duo will play shows in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Sydney in addition to performing at a sold out Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay. The tour kicks off on Wednesday July 11 in Melbourne before a huge closing show at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday July 22. For tickets and tour dates, visit the Live Nation website.

Albert Hammond Jr., songwriting powerhouse of The Strokes, is heading to our shores for two intimate performances in support of new album Francis Trouble. The record takes on heavy themes relating to Hammond Jr.’s stillborn twin brother, whose existence he only learned of two years ago. Sydney duo CLEWS will join The Strokes guitarist on the road for two exclusive Australian shows at Sydney’s Factory Theatre on Tuesday July 24 and Melbourne’s Corner Hotel on Wednesday July 25.

Let the road trip to Byron Bay begin because Splendour in the Grass is arriving this month – and it’s going to be big. This year’s festival boasts a massive lineup showcasing local and international industry heavyweights, headlined by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kendrick Lamar, American rockers Vampire Weekend, and teenage sensation Khalid. Plan ahead to ensure you don’t miss performances from The Wombats, Chvrches, and homegrown heroes like Gang Of Youths and Angus & Julia Stone at North Byron Parklands from Friday July 20 – Sunday July 22.

The Teskey Brothers Prepare For Biggest National Tour To Date

Sydney Guitar Festival Returns With Huge 2018 Lineup

Polaris Hit The Road For ‘Dusk To Day’ Regional Tour

Melbourne soul/blues four-piece The Teskey Brothers will take their phenomenal live show across the country this month with eight of their biggest Australian shows to date. They’ll be touring in support of their acclaimed 2017 album Half Mile Harvest, which has already seen its live adaptation begin with performances at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest and Port Fairy Folk Festival through to SXSW in Texas and New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall. The tour kicks off on Thursday June 14 with tickets available from the band’s website.

After enjoying an enormously successful inaugural event last year, Sydney Guitar Festival is back with an impressive lineup for its 2018 festivities. Renowned Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and Grammy-award winning musician Albert Lee lead the lineup, alongside American guitarist and composer Kaki King, classical guitar duo the Grigoryan Brothers, Marc Ribot, and Pedro Javier González. The festival is also hosting a world record attempt for the largest electric guitar ensemble. It all goes down from Thursday August 9 – Sunday August 19.

Polaris are set to kick off their Dusk to Day tour this month, bringing their live show to a regional venue near you. The metalcore favourites are taking their latest LP The Mortal Coil around the country with stops in Hobart, Geelong, Frankston, Mooroolbark, Canberra, Newcastle, Miranda, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. Polaris are bringing their mates Justice For The Damned along for the ride, with tickets and tour dates available from the band’s website.


PRODUCT NEWS Mackie Announces Two New Models In Its DL Digital Mixer Series AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU Mackie has announced two new DL Series digital mixers: the 16-channel DL16S and 32-channel DL32S Wireless Digital Live Sound Mixer. With Onyx+™ mic preamps, fully loaded DSP on each input and output, plus four effects processors, the DL32S and DL16S deliver the mixing power users need to sound great every night. They also have a whole new suite of effects like chorus, flanger, rotary, auto-filter, and more. The DL16S and DL32S are perfect for bands, venues, clubs, and anyone that needs the benefits of a digital mixer in a versatile form factor that won’t break the bank.

Warwick Releases the Limited Streamer LX LTD Bass

Charvel Expands Pro-Mod Series With Two New Guitars

Renowned UK Brand Faith Guitars Arrives In Australia




This year, Warwick is releasing a Pro Series Teambuilt limited edition model–the Warwick Streamer Stage I LTD 2018 – as part of its Custom Shop MasterBuilt Limited Edition basses. Available in four or five-string versions, the bass is built with a swamp ash body topped with a one-inch top of select European ash burl and a matching headstock. Its neck is a seven-piece laminate of wenge with maple stripes and is fitted with Aguilar DC-D2 pickups matched to an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp.

Charvel has announced the addition of two new guitars to its ever-popular Pro-Mod DK24 collection. The DK24 HSH 2PT CM and DK24 HSS 2PT CM ups the ante for the Pro-Mod DK24 line, adding newly updated appointments and modern features to the series. Both models feature a two-piece bolt-on caramalised maple “speed” neck with graphite reinforcement, sculpted heel, and Luminlay side dots. Other elements worthy of a mention include a five-way blade pickup switch, Stratocaster-style speed knobs, and a Gotoh Custom 510 recessed tremolo bridge.

Faith Guitars is an English company specialising in high quality acoustic guitars. Comprised of a small team of master luthiers, Faith is headed by none other than the awardwinning Patrick James Eggle. Faith exclusively uses solid tonewood in the construction of its handmade instruments, as it’s widely believed that this improves both tone and durability. The aim is an instrument that is both desirable and playable in equal measure, while remaining affordable at the same time.

Gruv Gear’s GigBlade 2 Pro Gig Bags Are Now Shipping CMC MUSIC AUSTRALIA | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU Premium accessory manufacturer Gruv Gear is now shipping its updated GigBlade 2 range of top end gig bags. The GigBlade 2’s unique side-carry approach offers a quick, practical and user-friendly way to carry your instrument. Staying closer to the ground, it keeps a low center of gravity so it feels more stable and natural. The support and protection inside is durable and customisable for your instrument and additions like an anti-slip shoulder strap, plenty of storage, and a wet-weather cover make the GigBlade a revolutionary gig bag.


PRODUCT NEWS Albert Hammond Jr. Earns A Signature Stratocaster From Fender FENDER MUSIC AUSTRALIA | FENDER.COM.AU Fender has unveiled a signature model for guitarist and songwriting powerhouse of The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr., as part of its Summer NAMM introductions. The Albert Hammond Jr. Stratocaster draws influence from the 1985 ’72 Strat reissue and features quite a unique pickup pattern, adopting replicated Hammond Jr. customised pickups switching. Elsewhere, a ‘70s-style headstock features Hammond Jr.’s signature, plus other era-specific elements including a bullet truss rod nut, three-bolt “F” stamped neck, and a logo reminiscent of those seen in the 1970s.

Fender Unveils Flea Jazz Bass Active At Summer NAMM

Fender Introduces Player Series To Inspire The Next Generation

Morley Announces Three Limited Edition custom Shop Mini Wah Pedals




Introduced at Summer NAMM, the Fender Flea Jazz Bass Active allows fans to use the same model the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist plays live. The bass boasts a satin finish with matching headstock, custom-shaped body, and a Fender humbucking pickup with an Aguilar OBP-1 18-volt preamp. Designed by Flea and Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Jason Smith, the Flea Jazz Bass Active provides a hypermodern aesthetic to cleverly contrast against the vintagestyle of Flea’s previous signature models.

Debuting as a revamp of the Standard Series, the all-new Fender Player Series has arrived to kick-start the learning process for a new generation of guitarists. The entry-level series sees updates for classic Fender models, such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Precision Bass, and Jaguar. The collection boasts 21 new guitars and basses, with notable updates across the range including Alnico pickups, satin-finished maple necks, 22-fret necks, upgraded bridge hardware and an updated body radius.

Morley has announced three limited-edition Custom Shop mini Wah pedals for Mark Tremonti, Michael Amott, and DJ Ashba. Michael Amott’s pedal is obviously made with a heavier sound in mind and comes equipped with Morley’s custom MQ2 Inductor and a striking blood-splatter design. DJ Ashba’s Skeleton Wah has its own internal wah level control, plus the entire pedal glows in the dark. Mark Tremonti’s Power Wah features a boost knob for 20dB of Wah boost, plus artwork taken from Tremonti’s latest album, A Dying Machine.

RME Releases Updated Take On The ADI-2 Pro

Ashdown’s New Geezer Butler Signature Head Lands in Australia

sE Electronics V7 MC1 Microphone Available Now




The ADI-2 Pro FS is an updated version of the ADI-2 Pro high-end AD/DA converter and features the new femtosecond clock technology of the ADI-2 DAC. The innovative product combines several devices in one – a high-end studio-quality AD/DA converter, dual headphone amplifier, multi-format converter with monitoring features and more. With this range of functions, the new ADI-2 Pro FS presents itself as one of the most flexible converters on the market.

Ashdown’s new Head of Doom bass amp head was designed to cater to the specific requirements of Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and is ideal for bass players who seek classic, driven bass tones with phenomenal power. Pro Music Australia has landed a limited number of these incredible heads, which feature a sophisticated nine-band EQ that provides a huge range of tonal variation. The sub level is independently controllable, thickening the sound and providing more ‘doom’ to your tone as required.

The V7 MC1 brings the powerful sound and performance of the V7 handheld wired dynamic microphone to your favourite Shure wireless transmitter, so you can take your V7’s sound with you wherever you go. This new model is now in stock in Australia.






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Based in SYDNEY or surrounding areas you will be servicing existing sales territories in NSW, ACT & SA selling our comprehensive catalogue of instruments and accessories whilst maintaining the highest level of customer service and support our company is known for.


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PRODUCT NEWS PRS Announces Two New Limited Order Guitars ELECTRIC FACTORY | ELFA.COM.AU PRS has announced the arrival of two new limited order additions to its line – the PRS Special Semi-Hollow Limited Edition and the McCarty 594. Featuring a fiveway blade switch and two mini toggles that tap the humbuckers, the Special can handle a myriad of sounds and styles and adds a welcome depth to your tone. Meanwhile, the McCarty 594 can seamlessly master rich, vintage humbucking tones or nuanced, sweet single coil sounds thanks to 58/15 LT pickups and push/pull coil taps on the tone controls.

Tune Your Guitar Automatically With Roadie 2

Swedish Guitar Brand .strandberg* Launches Direct Sales in Australia

Vox Revisits Iconic ‘60s Amp Designs With the Mini Superbeetle




Tuning just got a whole lot easier thanks to the innovative Roadie Tuner, an automatic guitar tuner with newly updated in the form of Roadie 2. The device works on almost any string instrument, fine tuning it automatically when you place Roadie 2 on a peg and strum any string. The tuner also has a mobile companion app offering the ability to store profiles of your instruments, refine tuning options, and keep track of tuning stats.

Distinguished by its modern design and ergonomic guitars, Swedish brand .strandberg* has announced the launch of a direct sales operation in Australia. The company has evolved with a lineup of off-the-shelf guitars catering to the needs of the contemporary guitarist. Based on the original ‘Boden’ shape, the models Original, Prog, Metal, Fusion, and Classic cover the modern end from contemporary rock to raging djent metal, and the newly launched Sälen range is the .strandberg* take on the legendary first solid body electric guitar from the 1950s.

Vox is turning back the clock to the days of Beatlemania for its latest innovative offering to the amplifier world, the Mini Superbeetle. The Vox Mini Superbeetle 25 takes a classic ‘60s aesthetic and updates it with modern functionality, including all-new analogue Nutube circuitry for authentic tube tone. It features the iconic Vox colour styling and chrome stand in a compact unit that delivers classic Vox sound with ease.

Markbass Ships Marcus Miller Signature 1000w Head CMC MUSIC | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU

IK Multimedia Debuts First Full-Analogue Synthesiser SOUND & MUSIC | SOUND-MUSIC.COM Capable of creating sounds anywhere from vintage classic analogue synth noises to more modern tones, the IK Multimedia Uno comes with your staple two-oscillator setup, and high-low-band pass filter suite, as well as seven LFO waveforms, amp, filter and continous oscillation wavetables for modulation purposes. Whether you're an amateur working on a passion project, or a professional putting together a serious production, this could easily be the perfect tool for you.


Markbass is now shipping the most powerful member of its Marcus Miller signature head range – the Little Marcus 1000. Markbass’ Little Marcus 1000 is a proprietary design that not only delivers the tone and performance that Marcus Miller requires, but the right sound for any bassist who needs a head with clarity, definition, punch and dynamics. That 1000W isn’t necessarily about filling stadiums, but it is definitely about providing the headroom every bass player needs to maximise their dynamic range.





out now

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE STICK TO THEIR GUNS With the release of Bullet For My Valentine’s sixth studio album, it seems a weight has been lifted off the Welsh-bred metal mavericks’ shoulders. Led by vocalist and guitarist Matt Tuck–otherwise affectionately known as ‘The General’ by his band mates–they’ve made a triumphant return with Gravity. “I took charge of everything again,” he says. “I had a vision of what I wanted, so I stuck to my guns and didn’t deviate.” To understand the might and legacy of the band from Bridgend and their current frame of mind, we need to look into their celebrated past. Originally known as Jeff Killed John, Bullet For My Valentine have been luminaries of the metal/hardcore genre for almost two decades. By the time their debut album, The Poison, was released in North America on Valentine’s Day in 2006, metal fans around the world had already fallen for Tuck’s intensely powerful yet controlled vocals and intricate guitar solos that have become the band’s signature sound. One such fan of BFMV in their early days was our own Margot Robbie, and to show their appreciation for her support at a recent performance in Saskatoon, Canada, Tuck dedicated one of their break-through singles ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ to the surprised Aussie as part of BBC’s Radio 1 Heart Rate Monitor series. “That video of the tribute has made waves globally. I think it has over one million views on YouTube,” says Tuck. “We just thought it was a really cool thing to do and her reaction to it was just incredible. It was so sweet to see her revert back to a 16-year-old metalhead, you know? So hopefully one day we will get a chance to say hello in person.” Along with legions of fans around the world, BFMV soon started to earn high praise from peers and critics alike. They were awarded the Metal Hammer Golden Guitar Award for Best British Band in 2006 and 2010, and dominated the Kerrang! Awards for five years running. However, after a mediocre reception for 2013’s Temper Temper, the tensions that had been brewing within the four-piece reached boiling point and led to the departure of longtime bass player Jason ‘Jay’ James. “It’s definitely a painful experience when you lose a member of a band like Jay.” says Tuck. “It’s a little bit daunting and little


"WE LISTENED TO OUR FANS AND LEARNED A LOT, AND WE FEEL LIKE IT’S FINALLY PAYING OFF.” bit worrying.” Never one to admit defeat, The General rallied his troops and set out to win back the adoration the band had enjoyed during their heyday in the mid2000s. “We listened to our fans and learned a lot, and we feel like it’s finally paying off.” 2015’s Venom was a return to form for Tuck and fellow founding member Michael ‘Padge’ Paget. Bassist Jamie Mathias proved to be a welcome addition to the camp, and although saddened by drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas’ decision to leave the band late last year, Tuck believes former touring member Jason Bowld has what it takes to sit behind the kit permanently. “Having these two boys involved has made the band as strong as it’s ever been, on every level. So far it’s been a really positive experience.” Gravity marks their first album release under the Search and Destroy/ Spinefarm Records umbrella and sees a fearless BFMV elevating their sound to new heights. “It’s always nice to have a new lease on life and a fresh vibe in the studio. All our highs and lows have helped ignite our creative juices. Having new guys in the band just brought a different energy which is definitely needed in this point of our career.”

Tuck says he knew right away who he wanted to work with on this landmark release, which was recorded between international tours. “We chose a guy called Carl Brown who was the co-producer of Venom. We’ve worked with him on a lot of projects but this time around, because of the direction we wanted to take the band, we needed an injection of strength in our music production.And Carl is really up for that. “I sat down with him and told him what I wanted the band to sound like, the direction I wanted to go, what I wanted to incorporate, and he was really on board… He was the guy for the job, and there from the very first day of writing on April 1 last year until we kind of put it to bed at the end of February this year. Carl’s been an integral part of the writing process and recording process. He’s just a very intelligent guy, super musical, super talented and he was all into making this band fresh and new, and taking us into the future.” As for whether we will see the revitalised Bullet For My Valentine shredding on a stage near us this year remains to be seen, but Tuck did offer a small ray of hope. “I can’t give too much away because nothing is announced yet, but we’ve definitely got something brewing in the pipeline for 2018.” BY NATALIE ROGERS

Gravity is out now via Search and Destroy/ Spinefarm Records.

PARLOR ©2018 FMIC. FENDER, FENDER in script, JAGUAR and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

MUSIC INTERVIEWS Their debut album, Black Wash is a collection of 11 songs that serve as a loud and cathartic 35-minute burst of energy. “Either myself or Xavier will come up with an idea and we’ll make that as extensive as possible before showing everyone to make sure there’s something to work with,” Bonnici says. “We don’t argue as a band but we do tease things out and question whether an idea is actually good. When the band agrees not to use your riff, it can be a bit heartbreaking but we’re good at filtering out what’s gonna make a good Pagan song.” Black Wash is something that Pagan have been building towards, intending it to stand as a statement and a body of work that they could be proud of. “From the start to the middle when you turn over the record, and then till the very end, we wanted to make it a consistent album,” says Bonnici.

Pagan on Dad Rock and Not Breaking Up On a beautiful June afternoon, Dan Bonnici sits in the Flagstaff gardens on his break from working at a life insurance company where in his words he “gives money to grieving families.” A contrast then, to his other job as the bass player in one Australia’s noisiest and rowdiest blackened rock bands, Pagan.

After things came up in their producer Mike Deslandes’ personal life, a spanner was thrown in the works. Recorded across two different studios at varying intervals, the band did whatever it took to make it work. “There was no one else in the world we wanted to make that record with. For pulling it together the way he did, we owe him the world and we’re so happy he got to do it with us,” says Bonnici.

Larkins’ technique is a fluid motion of beauty in sound. Some of his extended techniques include using the palm of his hand to create a beat and emulate the sound of a snare drum when he brings his hand down onto the strings, the whole concept meaning he can echo the sounds of a whole band. It’s easy to think Larkins is using a backing track – he isn’t. “I concentrate on original compositions and arrangements of other people’s music,” he says. “I put my own spin on it.” At the Melbourne Guitar show, “the standout event of the year for guitar nerds” as Larkins puts it, he’s looking forward to exchanging ideas and performances with other players. “The calibre of players there is outstanding,” he says. “You get bang for your buck – all the gadgets and gizmos, all the players that are showcasing, and I’ll be representing Tanglewood Guitars as well as doing a couple of performances.” His own compositions already stand out and Larkins is sure to leave a mark on Australia. The word needed to be spread further, however, and Larkins has been hard at



The hard work has paid off, as sitting down with Black Wash for its entirety is indeed a cohesive journey. Interestingly, although it feels as if the music has been recorded in a specific moment in time, according to Bonnici the recording process was not without its difficulties. “We cut up those sessions so much I was worried it wasn’t going to work,” he admits.

“I think that type of performance is a masterclass in guitar,” says Larkins. “Fingerstyle guitar, the reason why I love it so much, [is that] it might be classed as a genre now but when you define it, it can be inspired by any genre which I think helps it to appeal to a wider audience. That type of performance is really a masterclass in how to perform and break the boundaries of what’s traditionally known as acoustic guitar playing.”

He’s the fingerstyle guitar virtuoso who’s been making big waves as a solo artist, and Van Larkins is out to continue to break boundaries and cover new ground for the intricate playing style. With a massive itinerary of playing ahead, including the Melbourne Guitar Show, on this particular mission it’s important for Larkins that his music is a shared story.

‘We didn’t know if we wanted [‘Wine and Lace’] on there or not,” says Bonnici. “For me that song marks a turning point for us in terms of songwriting. It was the first song we experimented with dance beats and implementing that into our music. A time when we realised we wanted to be a band that tours and makes records and not just play The Tote once and break up.”

“We wanted to make it stand up as an album in its entirety. That comes from listening to a lot of ‘70s dad rock and sitting with a record for an hour and letting it be an experience. I don’t know if that’s the best way to make a record in this modern climate but we really wanted to make it a consistent body of work.”

In the past, Larkins has said that, “Aussies tend to associate the acoustic guitar with genres like bluegrass, country and blues, but fingerstyle covers every genre on the planet… It's the next big thing in the live music industry – people just don't know it yet.” The confidence of his statement says it all – fingerstyle can encompass every genre, which makes his work as much an education for the audience as it is an education for Larkins when he sees how his performances are received.

Van Larkins on Breaking Boundaries

Longtime fans of the band might notice two familiar songs on the record, ‘Wine and Lace’ and ‘Imitate Me’. These songs were released prior to the album being recorded and have been given a facelift for Black Wash.

Black Wash is out now via EVP. Pagan are touring nationally in August.

with filmmaker and guitarist Drew Roller, who has created the world’s first fingerstyle movie, a documentary called Acoustic Uprising. A fingerstyle player himself, Larkins says Roller was inspired to make this movie after travelling around the world to interview guitarists making their mark at the moment. Larkins makes an appearance on the film, talking about YouTube and how the social media platform has changed the way players learn. “I’ve seen people use gimmicks to boost views online,” he says. “With YouTube and Facebook, you have to pay for views to spread the word, unless you throw a gimmick in there which is where people start using different parts of their body and gadgets. But that’s just for fun, really. “[YouTube] is an infinite library of anything you can imagine, including guitar playing, composition, technique – it’s just a motion now.” Larkins’ mission to maximise the popularity of his genre doesn’t stop there. He’s preparing to move to Nashville in a couple months, confident he’s done enough within his craft to stand out among some of the best musicians in the music-making capital of the world. “I think it will fit because it’s acoustic guitar,” he says. “There’s been a massive wave in the fingerstyle movement in the last few years. I’ve tried to stage through the composition and translate all the experiences I’ve had and the places I’ve been, all those inspirations into a song. The acoustic guitar will help me fit in, but the compositions will help to stand out.” BY ANNA ROSE

Cinder Moon is out now. Van Larkins will perform at the Melbourne Guitar Show on August 4th and 5th.

MUSIC INTERVIEWS Lee will be celebrating his 75th birthday in December this year and shows no sign of slowing down at an age when most people would be embracing a 'pipe and slippers' lifestyle. You only have to see him perform to know that he is playing better than ever, and he’s never been short of astounding. “I don’t get much chance to relax,” explains Lee. “I guess that’s what keeps me in shape, really. I’m doing 200- 250 gigs a year.” Born in Herefordshire, Lee started playing piano at age seven, but switched to guitar after hearing early rock and roll artists like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers. At the time, Lee would never have guessed that he would later play with The Crickets, replace James Burton (Elvis’ guitar player in the ‘70s) in Emmy Lou Harris’ Hot Band, and play with the Everly Brothers as well as Eric Clapton. The rest, as they say, is history.

Keeping in Shape With Albert Lee When you look at the long and illustrious career of Albert Lee, one thing becomes apparent – he’s equally at home as a sideman, session guitarist and leading his own band. In a career that goes back to the ‘60s, the humble, softly spoken musician first came to prominence with English rockers Head, Hands and Feet, before moving to Los Angeles in 1976 where he joined Emmy Lou Harris’ Band. He’s called LA home ever since.

Of course, conversation naturally veers towards equipment. Lee almost exclusively used a Telecaster since the ‘60s until the early ‘80s when Ernie Ball purchased the Music Man company and redesigned a guitar from scratch – the Silhouette – which he played for a number of years. The guitar that now bears his name was actually their second effort. “I immediately adopted it,” says Lee. “I just fell in love with it. They made them with humbuckers and P90s but I keep going back to the original with single coils.” In terms of amplifiers, Lee has made a recent shift in his touring rig. “More recently, I’ve been using a Fender Tone Master with a large cabinet with four twelve-inch speakers, and I’ve cut ports in the back. I like an open back cabinet. At the Guitar Show I’ll be using a couple of [Fender] Twins, because you can depend upon those. “I’ve been using the same effects unit for about 25 years. It’s an old Korg A3, a multi-effects unit. I have about five or six of them – they’re not all in working order. Korg don’t make them anymore. I’ve tried other things, but I really do like them. “

As for what attendees at the Melbourne Guitar Show can expect, Lee suggests audiences can look forward to hearing the styles he’s renowned for alongside some playing fans mightn’t expect from the country guitarist. “Even though I’m known as a country player and I love that kind of music, I started out playing rock n’ roll and RNB in the ‘60s, so I’d like to think that I’m fairly versatile. I’m not a big fan of shredding. I like a nice, clean sound, but I’ll probably surprise a few people because maybe they’ve got preconceived ideas of what I do. There are still a few people out there who confuse me with Alvin Lee [of Ten Years After fame], which I’ve had to deal with for forty years,” he laughs. On previous tours, due to logistical constraints, Lee has used local musicians to back him; however, this time he’ll be bringing his own handpicked band, a combination of English and American musicians – Will McGregor on bass, John Greyhouse on keyboards, and Ollie Sears on drums. Having such a formidable reputation as a guitar hero, how does he prepare for a show knowing that the audience expects him to be blazing from the very first downbeat? “Well, I don’t practise very much, I have to say. We’ll do a soundcheck and if it all sounds fine, then I’m happy. I’m lucky that with the technique I have, I can usually pull it together without having to do much practise before hand.” BY MATT DWYER

Albert Lee will peform as part of the Melbourne Guitar Show on Saturday August 4 and Sunday August 5 at Caulfield Racecourse.

“I just think we’re pop,” says Bec Callander, the band’s notedly outspoken lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. “I’ve been resisting that label for a while by doing all of these other genres, but really, pop gives you the ability to do all of those things anyway. I’ve been listening to a lot of different artists – moving away from garage rock and towards bands with a higher quality of production, and I’ve been seeing that there’s still so much creative flexibility in pop. It’s not strictly candy floss stuff: pop music is The Rolling Stones, its The Black Keys, its The White Stripes – that’s pop music!” Callander is quick to point out that although we shouldn’t expect a dubstep-country-funk Rackett song any time soon, absolutely nothing is off the table when it comes to their potential. “There are no rules in Rackett,” the frontwoman says. “We have a code of ethics in the band, and we have an agreement between us that we’ll always deliver the best show possible to our fans, but that’s where the rulebook ends.”

Rackett are soaring to infinity and beyond The mark of a true critic is their ability to pigeonhole even the most outlandish of artists into one neat, all-encompassing genre label (often to the artist’s chagrin). But even for the strongest music snobs amongst us, Rackett are a tough band to nail down. The aptly named Sydney quartet have been described as everything from punk rock to indie pop and psychedelic fuzz – though, as it turns out, the most accurate tag might be a lot more simple.

Rackett’s live shows are a true testament to their vast and varied scope of talents. Costumes, narratives and artistically layered sound mixes are cornerstones of even their lowkey pub jaunts, and come August, they’ll be showing it off at the Melbourne Guitar Show alongside icons like Albert Lee, Phil Manning and Nick Charles. It’s an opportunity most bands would foam at the mouth over being offered, and the gravity isn’t lost on Callander. “By nature, the girls and I are always interested in the latest technology and the latest equipment we can use to improve our performances,” she beams. “Y’know, Kat [Ayala, lead guitar] is a complete guitar nerd – we were going to go to the Melbourne Guitar Show anyway, so to be asked to play is amazing. We’re excited to see what’s new, what guitars and pedals are on the market and what’s been tried and tested and stands the test of time. We’re always looking for new ways to create new sounds, so we’re stoked.” The standout cut of their current live set is recent single 'Space Cadet' – a song that shines with bright, searing guitar

The show is an audio-visual spectacular, in which King’s compositions are complemented by a stunning set of lights and visuals, projected directly onto her signature guitar. It’s unlike anything she’s ever done before – and yet, she dismisses any notion that she was bored with the traditional set-up of a solo guitar performance. “I was enjoying what I was doing – I had gone back to being a solo performer after many years,” she explains. “It literally just came up one night when someone suggested I try out lighting design for my shows. Just because it seemed like it would be nice, y’know? I had no idea where to start – I literally googled ‘lighting design’, that’s where I started. Through a bit of research, I discovered projection mapping. When I read a bit more about that, I started to wonder whether or not I could use projection mapping by projecting onto my guitar. Once I had the logistics in order, I knew that I had to make a show around it.”

The Vibrant Light of Kaki King Kaki King is regarded as one of the greatest creative minds working today as far as the old six-string is concerned. Across a 15-yearplus career, King has scored the praises of everyone from Eddie Vedder to John Darnielle and back again. Her most recent work, however, may well be her most ambitious and impressive yet. For the last four years, King has been on the road with a stage show entitled The Neck is a Bridge to the Body.


King collaborated with Glowing Pictures, a production company that is no stranger to forward-thinking musicians – its collaborative alum include the likes of David Byrne, TV on the Radio and the Beastie Boys. The performance premiered in 2014, and has taken King around the world a couple of times now. It’s a performance that she is still very much enamoured with. “There are definitely times where I still catch myself in awe of seeing the guitar lit up,” she says.”

solos and crackly, cantering drums. Callander describes it to us as “an intergalactic journey from planet to planet” wherein the instrumental sections represent the stages of an astronaut’s adventure. “Ally’s [Gavin, bass] section is where you’d just be floating through space,” she says, “And then Kat’s guitar solos are all engines go, lift off. We wanted to create the experience of space travel through sound, with all its ups and downs. It’s also a metaphor for, dare I say, when you take illicit substances – the highs and the comedowns.” 'Space Cadet' arrives as Rackett’s second tune for 2018, following the groovy and upbeat 'Alive'. Releases have been staggered casually thus far, but that’s all soon to change with Callander teasing a new single set to drop later in August. “It’s actually a track that came about three years ago when I was playing in a punk band in Melbourne,” she says. “The idea only just came back to me in the last couple of months, so we’ll be dropping that soon, and then we hope to release another single every month up until January. After that, we’ll be doing a series of all-ages fundraising shows to create an album. So hopefully the debut album will be out around the middle of next year.” Keeping in line with the idiosyncratic storytelling of 'Space Cadet', Callander says a full-length Rackett concept album is a very likely possibility. “I’ve been fantasising about an album that focuses on humanity for a while,” she notes. “I’m an animal rights activist and I’m an activist for equality, and I guess I’m just waiting for people to accept us at face value from as far and wide as we can before we move forward with something like that – just to prepare them for it.” BY MATT DORIA Rackett are currently on tour around Australia. They will perform as a part of the Melbourne Guitar Show on August 4 and 5.

things to learn. “Midway through the first tour, we started to play more theatres and performing arts centres as opposed to clubs and the kind of places I usually play,” she says. “These spaces were a lot more accommodating to the nuances and the needs of the show we were doing. It helped that I had a video engineer out on the road with me – a guy named Max Bernstein. I feel like, since he came on as a part of the show, he’s really helped to make The Neck... a lot more lively and a lot more performance-oriented. It’s a solo show, but with Max it felt like he was performing with me the whole time. It became so much more tight, and the transitions became so much quicker.” In August, King returns to Australia for the umpteenth time as a part of the Sydney Guitar Festival, with headlining shows around the country booked around it. This possibly spells the end for The Neck... before King goes to work on her next show, so seeing the show now means Australian audiences will experience the best possible version of it. “I don’t worry at all when I go out there now,” says King. “When I first started doing the show, I was so stiff and worried that everything would just go wrong. Now, I feel like it’s in a place where it’s really loose and I can explore a lot more.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

“Every night, you’re literally seeing the guitar in a new light. Obviously it’s already a 3D object, but the projections obviously add another dimension entirely. There’s such a vibrancy to it that I’m still so drawn to, even after doing this performance for years now. I’m playing a guitar that has never looked like any guitar ever has before it... it’s amazing to me.” Since its debut, King has likened performing The Neck... to second nature. Its one-of-a-kind nature, to her, cannot be overemphasised – and nor should it. As the show has developed, so has King’s performance – proving that, even as a guitarist with over 30 years of experience, there are still

The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body is out now. Kaki King is touring Australia in August, including performances at both the Sydney and Adelaide Guitar Festivals.

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INSIDE THE ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN FACTORY For decades now, Ernie Ball Music Man has been at the forefront of innovation and quality in the guitar and bass industry. From the legendary StingRay bass, through to signature guitars for game-changers like John Petrucci, Steve Morse, Albert Lee and St Vincent, the brand is synonymous with incredible quality and forward thinking ideas. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Music Man factory in the heart of San Luis Obispo, California and get the inside look on how their instruments come to life. With 160 employees on staff, Ernie Ball Music Man is far from the biggest guitar company around, but that need not be their concern. It was clear from the moment I walked into the factory that their focus is most certainly quality over quantity. With up to 15 people working on each instrument in their respective roles along the production process, it’s safe to say that by the time something reaches the warehouse to be shipped out, every fine detail has been checked to ensure it is up to the strict qualities of craftsmanship the brand is revered for. This was also clear when stumbling upon a few reject bins around the factory: even the slightest of imperfection won’t make it through complete production and is discarded without hesitation. The building process begins with a number of CNC machines, including Big Bird, the big yellow robot that takes the raw wood and carves the body blanks in the blink of an eye. From there, the bodies are sanded to perfection, painted, buffed and dried to ensure they are set and stable. The necks are carved out from blanks then given the personal touch and sculpted by one of the craftsmen in the workshop. They are then sanded down and the frets are applied by hand. Believe me when I say that this entire process is incredibly meticulous and every employee ensures that their respective part is done perfectly. Once the bodies and necks are all finished and lacquered, the really nerdy stuff begins. Music Man engineer and plate their own bridges. These bridges are designed for maximum comfort and durability. They also design and produce their own hand wound and custom voiced pickups. These pickups can be found in the StingRay, Cutlass, Valentine and St Vincent models. With the electronics all


"ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN AREN’T CONCERNED WITH BEING THE BIGGEST GUITAR COMPANY IN THE WORLD. THEY’RE FAR MORE CONCERNED WITH THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN MUSICIAN” wired and the hardware installed, the final stage of production is the rigorous testing and setup each instrument receives. Given the amount of high quality materials used in the construction, it’s of the utmost of importance that the instruments play and sound like a dream. I am fortunate enough to own a few Music Man guitars myself, and was completely blown away that they were so perfectly setup straight out of the box after travelling from the other side of the world. Seeing the instruments come to life was without a doubt amazing, but the coolest part of visiting the factory was the environment. Every staff member I spoke to on the factory floor was so excited to be working on the instruments and proud to work for the company. The design and marketing team were filled with passion and eager to talk about ideas for the future.

It was plain to see that Ernie Ball Music Man started as a family business and that even though they have grown in size, those family values are still very much in place. It’s clear that Music Man has no interest in resting on their laurels or getting complacent, which is plain to see when looking at the guitar lineup. The Valentine and St Vincent models show they're trying new things and focusing on the needs of modern players and innovators. The return of classic Music Man models like the StingRay and Cutlass show the vast legacy the company has built, but with a practical and modern approach. The continuing development of the John Petrucci guitar models and the StingRay bass show that even though they’ve nailed them time and time again, they’re still looking for ways to take things to the next level. It’s simple: Ernie Ball Music Man aren’t concerned with being the biggest guitar company in the world. They’re far more concerned with the needs of the modern musician and ensuring that their pristine legacy of incredibly built instruments continues to prosper for many years to come. WORDS BY NICHOLAS SIMONSEN IMAGES BY P1XELS

Ernie Ball Music Man are distributed by CMC Music in Australia.

INTEGRATE 2018: GIVING LIVE EVENTS PROFESSIONALS A LEG UP Whether you’re putting on a rock concert or a production of Richard III, you’ll need a firm grasp of the latest AV technology to keep things running smoothly. But keeping up with new and emerging technology can be a challenge for busy professionals. This year, the Integrate expo will give live events professionals a peek at newly-developed audio, lighting and staging equipment, along with a chance to network with industry insiders. “This show needs to be experienced,” says Stephanie Bleakley, marketing manager for Integrate. “It’s more than just stalls and stands and products… In the live events industry, they’ve always got a gig, they’re always on the road, so it’s nice for them to have an opportunity to come together as an industry to network not just with their peers, but to meet some of these people who are pushing the boundaries of live event experiences.” Now in its tenth year, Integrate is attempting to shine a light on future developments in the live events industry. “This is an event for the industry to come together, not just to celebrate the last ten years, but to help drive the industry forward for the next ten,” says Bleakley. “The industry’s moving at such a rapid pace that it leads to the question of where the market’s going to take us in the next ten years. At Integrate, we have the leading manufacturers in the field. We have the people who are designing solutions for sets, audio and lighting that are really going to define what comes in the next one-to-five years. That’s where you really see the difference with Integrate – it really defines what’s going to come next in the industry.” This August, Integrate is bringing together over 6,500 live events professionals for a series of seminars, classes and networking events. Over 1,000 brands, from giants like Google and Microsoft to Australian tech mainstays like Avid and Focusrite, will be represented at Sydney’s International Convention Centre. “The Australian and New Zealand markets aren’t as big as the American or the European markets,” says Bleakley. “What we find in Australia is that [companies in the] Australian industry are


"THIS IS AN EVENT FOR THE INDUSTRY TO COME TOGETHER, NOT JUST TO CELEBRATE THE LAST TEN YEARS, BUT TO HELP DRIVE THE INDUSTRY FORWARD FOR THE NEXT TEN” early adopters. We’re the first to invest in new technology. In some respects, we’re more creative in our application of new technology, because we have to be. That really reflects on the type of products that you see on the show floor… There’s going to be genuinely new products on the show floor, as well as new applications of existing technology. That’s what people should expect to see.” The Integrate LIVE program, featuring speakers experienced in behind-the-scenes sound and visual work, will be of special interest to venue managers and stage technicians. Any live events technician or planner should benefit from attending, says Peta Moore, who curates programs for Integrate LIVE. Among the speakers is Pete Lynn, head of creative projection for the Technical Direction Company and an expert in

projection mapping. Lynn’s previous credits include Melbourne’s White Night and Christmas building-side projections, Vivid Sydney and the Dubai World Cup. At Integrate, Lynn will examine new advances in projector technology and the challenges of large-scale projection mapping. Lighting designer Ziggy Ziegler will also share his knowledge gained through 25 years of learning how to make concerts, expos and rooftop soirées look as good as possible. In his seminar, 'Future Vision – Inspirational disruption in light,' Ziegler will explore how to harness new lighting technology successfully, and how to get a return on increasingly high-dollar lighting equipment. “I have found all sorts of fun ways to bring the human connection back into the process of a digital world,” writes Ziegler. Of course, looks aren’t everything. Handling the audio side of Integrate’s LIVE program is Gert Sanner, regional application and educational manager for d&b audiotechnik. Drawing on his 20 years’ experience as a system technician and front of house engineer, Sanner will explain how to put together a sound system for any space, whether it’s a small classroom or the Sydney Opera House. “They’re quite intimate sessions, so you get that one-on-one access where you can ask that burning question,” says Moore. “There are a whole bunch of interesting conversations to be had in terms of learning and inspiration… To have that access, to pick their brains and share ideas, is an opportunity second to none.” An unmissable event for industry professionals, registration for Integrate is free on the expo’s website to ensure your place in an ongoing conversation is secured. “As we move into a more tech-savvy world, we move into a more connected world,” says Bleakley. “The underlying fact is that you will interface with that through an AV platform… When you go to a gig, it’s not just a band on a stage anymore – it’s what kind of AV is behind them. It’s the quality of the whole experience. Integrate’s going to help move that conversation forward.” BY ZACHARY SNOWDON SMITH Integrate will be held at Sydney’s International Convention Centre from Wednesday August 22 – Friday August 24.


Proudly distributed in Australia by Dynamic Music

AUDEARA FINDS THE PERFECT BALANCE Musicians are renowned for being a reckless bunch. If there’s something we’re especially good at, it’s being sweaty, wearing tight pants, sticking it to the man, and playing way too loud. Often we’re too busy shredding to take care of our precious ears, or maybe you’re a hard nut who considers wearing earplugs ‘soft’. Either way, few of us stop to consider the impact that our craft as relentless noisemakers can have upon our livelihood. As a musician, you’re four times more likely to develop issues such as tinnitus in your lifetime. Are we really willing to put our ears at risk just for a bit more ‘me’ in the mix? Have we not learned from Beethoven? “Audeara’s about trying to make music perfect for everybody,” says Dr. James Fielding, CEO of Audeara, a newly minted name in the headphone market with an emphasis on preventing hearing loss and creating a unique listening experience for every user. “Few of us realise that we all hear differently, so we tried to create a pair of headphones that would change the way people listened to music.” Unlike other big-name headphone impresarios, Fielding is actually a real doctor, boasting an impressive background in audiology as well as being a professional musician himself. Drawing from his illustrious medical experience as well as painful onstage memories, he and co-founder Dr. Chris Jeffrey launched Audeara in 2014 with the intention to create a meticulously tailored headphone experience and educate music lovers on the woes of hearing damage. “When we started up Audeara, it was all about making health sexy,” Fielding says. “The people who love music – musicians who play and listen to music every day – they’re the ones going deaf, and that’s what I wanted to fix. You’re going to have a better experience by knowing your hearing habits, and tailoring the sound so it fits better, not louder.” By implementing a sophisticated software interface linked to a smartphone app, Audeara headphones run a listening test upon their first use, saving the data of the test within the headphones themselves and adjusting sound signals to suit the listener’s own hearing profile. This results in a personalised reproduction of sound to create a refined musical experience for the listener, with


"IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR INSTRUMENTS, OR CARE ABOUT HOW YOUR MIX SOUNDS, YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CARE ABOUT YOUR HEARING” the headphones also saving an audiogram which can be used to track and prevent long-term hearing loss. “Our headphones actually run a full graphic EQ hearing test, whereas most other hearing tests tend to just focus on the six point frequency range deemed important for hearing human speech,” Fielding explains. “Audeara’s hearing test can target up to 32 points per ear, so you’re basically running a mixing desk for your headphones, with the results being completely different for every single person.” Audeara’s unique fusion of medicine and music can also be pinpointed through their use of a unique attenuation model, just like the one you use to tame your big old beefy Marshall stack. Instead of increasing overall gain and red-lining across the frequency range, Audeara’s attenuation model effectively maximises the overall intensity of your musical signal without any distortion, resulting in enhanced clarity and richness even when listening to the murkiest of mixes.

“By using an attenuation model, we’re essentially turning all the frequencies down and finding a perfect balance between what you hear really well and what you struggle to hear,” says Fielding. “This basically makes everything sound better without increasing the overall volume, which is obviously a precursor to prolonged hearing loss.” In addition to designing game-changing headphones, Fielding is also determined for Audeara to crush the stigma surrounding hearing protection, appealing for musicians and audiophiles in particular to help him pave the way. “What we want to usher in as a company is how important it is to care, because it shouldn’t have to reduce your experience – caring should make it better. There’s just as many thirty year olds with hearing problems as there is seventy year olds, and it’s just stupid ultimately, because it’s preventable,” says Fielding. “If you care about your instruments, or care about how your mix sounds, you should definitely care about your hearing. If you’ve got green tea in your dressing room, you should be wearing earplugs.” Evidently, people are listening to the virtues extolled by Audeara, with the company’s first batch of headphones launching to huge success through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter last year. Although Audeara headphones are currently only available online and in Attune Hearing audiology clinics across Australia, Fielding expresses his desire to move into the consumer market before the release of their next models. “Our KickStarter launched on March 1st 2017, and people really saw the value in what we were doing, which was incredible. We hit $100,000 in pledges on the first day, which was really quite amazing. Twelve months later, and we’re shipping to over 60 countries around the world. We really wanted normal people to care about their experience and get involved with us, and it obviously worked. “Audeara’s a mix of the things I really love – medicine and music – and I’ve essentially built a job where I get to do both.” BY WILL BREWSTER

For more information on Audeara, visit

FEATURES A self-taught luthier who started at the tender age of 17, Nick Carpenter toiled tirelessly in the early 1990s to hone his craft. “There was very little in the way of tuition or apprenticeships back in Western Australia where I grew up, so if you wanted to make guitars, you did it yourself,” says Carpenter. “I learned from books, a few tips from other luthiers and a lot of trial and error. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, I did a bit of work in antique restoration, wooden boat building and furniture making before focusing on instruments. It was a hobby for a good many years, but it slowly grew to consume me and it was obvious that it was the only career path for me.” Carpenter officially registered Wildwood Instruments in 1999, and began crafting his unique guitars in a shed hidden away in the suburbs of Western Australia. However, Carpenter realised he lacked the means and understanding of how to market and sell his special wares. As such, he decided to take Wildwood Instruments in another direction.

The Story of Wildwood Instruments Founded in 1999, Wildwood Instruments has since been on a gentle but constant snowball towards success. Nick Carpenter, the sole luthier and owner of Wildwood Instruments, has had an illustrious career in the construction of not only guitars, but other uncommon creations such as flat top fiddles, bodhráns, and more.

“The new approach was to create smaller, more affordable instruments that would sell at music festivals and markets,” says Carpenter. “I soon learned that it was the folk festivals that were the most responsive to my products, so I tailored my instruments to suit, adding dulcimers and bodhráns. There were a limited number of festivals in WA so I headed east on road trips to the bigger festivals on the east coast.” Carpenter set up shop in Brunswick in 2008, and added more instruments to his lineup—including his very own creation, the Weissenbaby, which was released for Wildwood’s tenth anniversary in 2009. “The Weissenbaby, as the name suggests, is a mini Weissenborn guitar,” says Carpenter. “It really packed a punch for such a small instrument. The compact design fitted in with our range very well. The fretboard markings were stencilled onto the soundboard so that the whole top was free to vibrate, without the need for a solid fretboard timber being attached to the top. I no

longer make these, but there must be a hundred or so of them out there floating around, and hopefully still being played.” After spending over a decade hard at work, Carpenter decided that it was time again for another change. Come 2013, he packed up shop and relocated to Mount Franklin, just outside of Daylesford, and built a workshop to host electric guitar making courses. Wildwood Instrument’s courses offer 11 different guitar models to choose from, and cover a wide variety of popular designs. In addition to walking away with a handmade electric guitar, students will also learn essential skills to ensure their guitar is playable at their absolute best, including adjusting the neck relief, action, pickup height, and much more—all over the course of a single weekend. “I wanted to provide a short, affordable introductory course in instrument making, as no one else in Australia was offering such a thing,” says Carpenter. “Most courses you will find cost thousands of dollars and weeks to complete, building acoustic guitars from scratch. The Wildwood course is different in that it runs over just two days and will show you how to correctly put together an electric guitar or bass. There’s a fair amount of work to turn guitar parts into a fully functioning instrument, including sanding, shaping the headstock, fret levelling, dressing, and so on. It’s a great introduction into the world of luthiery.” BY EDDY LIM

Visit Wildwood Instruments at the Melbourne Guitar Show, held at Caulfield Racecourse from August 4 – 5, where players can demo the very guitars they can build with the master luthier himself. Stay up to date at

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The History and Rebirth of Bounce Music If you, like millions of others around the world, have listened to Drake’s new album Scorpion in the few weeks since its release, you will have heard the tracks ‘In My Feelings’ and ‘Nice For What’. Even if the double album behemoth from hip hop’s equivalent to Ed Sheeran passed you by, you will have heard N.E.R.D’s minor hit from November ‘Lemon’, or failing that Beyonce’s monster single ‘Formation’ from 2016’s Lemonade. All of these are examples of tracks that contain elements of bounce music, the distinctive New Orleans sub-genre of hip hop and dance, and are sure signs that the once strictly underground style has crossed over into mainstream culture. Musically, bounce fuses elements of New Orleans and Southern music, including a heavy reliance on brass instruments, call and response vocals reminiscent of the Mardi Gras ‘Indian’ chants, and the dark yet often aggressive beats that move between the sounds of Southern hip hop breakbeat to more involved dance beats. Designed primarily as a form of hyped-up party music, bounce places little emphasis on lyrical content and more on chanted phrases that the crowd can repeat, although there are many exceptions to this. The main lyrical themes generally used are intentionally sexualised and big on local pride, often shouting out specific New Orleans neighbourhoods. Bounce owes much of its genesis to a single loop known as the ‘Triggaman’ sample from ‘Drag Rap (Triggerman)’, a 1986 single by forgotten New York rap outfit The Showboys. The single itself, which referenced the theme to the TV show Dragnet, failed to make an initial impression until it, or its instrumental B-side, was heavily sampled in what is regarded as the first bounce song, MC T. Tucker and DJ Irv’s ‘Where Dey At?’ The track was a rough recording that was sold at shows on cassette in 1991, and utilised the ascending and descending bells, the 808 drum beat, a snippet of the Dragnet synth sound, and some vocal samples from The Showboys single, morphing it into an upbeat and playful track that is at once memorable and un-fussed about traditional hooks. Then came DJ Jimi, who essentially covered the song and released his own, more polished version of ‘Where Dey At?’ in 1992, which became widely known in the New Orleans area, and basically gave birth to the entire genre. Alongside ‘Rock the Beat’ by Derek B, the ‘Drag Rap’ loop is an essential part of bounce culture and has been used by Southern hip hop artists such as T.I. with his 2012 hit ‘Ball’, Lil Wayne with 2007’s ‘Triggaman’, Twista, and Big K.R.I.T to name a few. The original Showboys single was re-pressed and distributed thanks to this notoriety. Digital production changed the sound of bounce in the early 2000s, most importantly with the chopped vocal technique and fast drum sounds pioneered by producers such as BlaqNmilD, who used the program Acid on early tracks made for Money Rules Entertainment.


“By me having that program, I was able to create my own bounce sound,” said BlaqnMilD in an interview with Red Bull Music Academy. “I changed the tempo, I changed the way the breakdowns went, I made things hit a little harder. I started chopping up the artist’s vocals. That was a big ol’ change in the bounce game as well. Once I started chopping the artist’s vocals, it went crazy.” As the most famous and visible bounce artist, singer Big Freedia is credited with helping to popularise the genre, with the artist appearing vocally in the ‘Formation’ video and, by way of a pre-recorded vocal, as the opening to Beyonce’s Formation world tour every night. Having liberally used the loop herself, Freedia paid homage by bringing out The Showboys to perform ‘Drag Rap (Triggerman)’ during her set at New Orleans’ Voodoo Festival in 2014. Freedia is also the most obvious example of bounce music’s strong ties to queer culture, which in itself adds an element of political affirmation to the celebratory tones of the music. Though lyrically the music does not have an overt political message — outside of examples such as the “Fuck David Duke” chant of the original ‘Where Dey At?’, a non-sequitur referring to the former Klu Klux Klan leader — as with other music from New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina bounce music’s proudly defiant rallying cries could be seen as a celebration of endurance in the face of adversity, and thereby inherently political. The fact that the hurricane left so many people displaced also meant as they moved across the country, so did their music. With much media attention suddenly on New Orleans following the hurricane, adding to the fact that so many displaced people were proudly celebrating their culture whilst residing in other cities, bounce became an emblem for the city’s colourful and defiant spirit that began to seep into mainstream popular culture. This happened not only musically, but also through the popular bounce dance style of twerking, a term which had been coined by DJ Cheeky Blakk on her 1995 single ‘Twerk Something’, although the dance itself has reportedly been traced to West African rituals.

most streamed song on the Canadian singer’s Spotify page. Despite the song sounding nothing like bounce, it’s an unmistakable nod from one of the world’s biggest artists, a sign that not only has bounce infiltrated the mainstream, but that the mainstream would now like to be associated with bounce’s cultural cool. BY ALEX WATTS

Both BlaqNmilD and Big Freedia contributed to Drake’s ‘Drag Rap’-sampling ‘Nice For What’, which is currently the


Phaser vs Flanger vs Chorus As well as being really fun to play with, modulation effects are a great tool to add movement, dimension and colour to your sounds. Their sounds can be heard on the biggest albums of modern music history, but having the freedom to slap a phaser on a drum-loop in Garage Band from the comfort of your bed is a relatively recent occurrence. I thought I’d arm you with a little knowledge to help you better understand what’s happening to your audio, as well as the differences between the commonly confused Phaser, Flanger and Chorus effects. All three of these effects are based on duplicating your audio signal, but the difference lies with what’s done with that signal. Phaser A phaser could be more accurately called a phase shifter, as it duplicates and moves your signal out of phase. As this shifted signal interacts with the original signal, due to phasing, it simultaneously cancels out and emphasises different frequencies, creating the ‘swoosh’ effect—like an additional wave surfing along your soundwaves. To vary the frequencies emphasised in the cycle, phasers use an LFO (low frequency oscillator) to continually shift the point at which these wave-peaks occur, so that different frequencies are emphasised and de-emphasised at each pass. You might have seen phasers like Moog’s MF-103 pedal advertised as 12-Stage phasers. Each stage rotates the phase 180 degrees, so a 12-stage phaser will rotate the phase

differently six times before it resets— great for a more organic sound, but more difficult to predict. Chorus The chorus effect was designed to make your single instrument sound like multiple ones. To achieve this, the effect duplicates your signal with a short and usually unnoticeable echo, the delay time is then modulated slightly by an LFO. On analogue delay circuits, this creates a satisfying small pitch wobble—like speeding up/ slowing down a record—similar to hearing two players play the same part with everso-slightly different tuning. Chorus really shines on a stereo signal, creating a sound that tricks your ears into thinking it’s coming from various directions.

Flanger The line between Flanger and Chorus is quite blurry as they essentially use the same mechanism for the effect—which is why you’ll commonly find units doubling as a chorus and flanger. However, a flanger is traditionally a much more dramatic effect than chorus, utilising very short (1-10ms) delay times with an increased feedback on the echo, which puts it somewhere between a phaser and a chorus. When combined with your original

signal this creates multiple peaks and valleys on your soundwaves—known as comb filtering—travelling along them via an LFO. Kind of like a phaser on steroids basically, but best used sparingly as it’s quite an overbearing effect. BY MICHAEL CUSACK

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Learn The Fretboard – Chords Gig and Gig Bag Essentials From Scales and Modes Keeping up with the chord theme from the last few issues, let’s take something a little meatier than major or minor and use melodic minor. Starting on A would give us A B C D E F# G# A (Figure A). You can think of it as the natural minor with a raised 6 and 7, or as A major with a lowered 3rd. Practise the scale a couple of times to get your ear used to the sound and perhaps try and move it into different positions on the neck.

Following on from last month for all you gigging guys and gals, I thought we’d continue the discussion of some extra things that can make your life a little easier–just some general thoughts on gear/ personal stuff and headspace.

Remember from previous issues that making triads with A natural minor creates – Am Bdim C Dm Em F G7. Let’s now do the same with A melodic minor (Figure B) and see what we come up with - Am Bm Caug D E F#dim G#dim. You might be surprised to see an augmented chord and two diminished chords (as well as D and E Major).

BEING PREPARED IS A BIG ONE This can be in terms of knowing tunes, having the right equipment and actually being there on time, or even early. What does this mean though? A lot of things, really. You can apply this to composition, theory, improvising and more. As a starting point for our chords it means we can use some of the above shapes wherever we want to use A melodic minor. Where do we use A melodic minor? Often we can play melodic minor shapes over the five chord – in this case E (or E7 to add some extra interest). So creating a standard chord progression (blues/jazz/funk/pop/Latin) of Am to E7 (Figure C) we can then play any of the above chords as substitutions for E7.

LEARN THE TUNES If it’s a gig with a setlist make sure you learn the tunes; know them as best as you can and if needed, write charts. These can be full transcriptions, chord charts or little cheat sheets to sit next to your set list. Sometimes when you know the tune or have heard it on the radio a few times all you need is a little kick start, like the first note or lick. In this day and age it’s easy to have these written or printed, or on an iPad or device. There’s really no excuse. HAVE YOUR GEAR AND SOME EXTRA STUFF Throw in a distortion pedal, extra mic stand, power board, gaffa tape and the like. Sometimes the little things really help, like adding the OD pedal into your rig for the second set if you can see that it’s needed, or having a spare mic stand if some extra BVs are needed. An extra power board for the keyboard player’s wedge can win you some points and show that you’re doing more than just going through the motions.

After trying any of these triads in place of E7 you might prefer some over others. This is normal and some of the chords possibly sound like they don’t fit. In that case perhaps try playing them with an E bass note (open E on the top string is a handy one to use). It creates a bit more of a reference point towards the ‘E’ sound and hopefully helps you hear the changes in sound. C aug, F#dim and G#dim work particularly well, adding tension that then sounds great when it’s resolved (Figure D).

KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING Look it up in advance if you haven’t been there before. The internet knows everything, so there’s no excuse these days. No need for flipping through pages of the Melways on your lap in the dark, just Google Maps and you’re there. Being on time makes everyone’s job easier, yes it can be stressful if you’re late, but don’t forget that it affects the rest of the band too and then of course this can impact on whether they even book you again for a gig. BEING READY TO PLAY

Next try moving these chords around the neck. There are tons of voicings, I’m sure at least some of them you won’t have used or discovered before. Start slow with just one key/scale/mode and then try applying it like we’ve just done. Make your plan for the week to try and incorporate some of the A melodic minor chords as E7 chords to really solidify your knowledge and stretch your ear. Then move on to other keys/modes and you’ll start to discover more uses for them too. More next month!

Being able to set up quickly is a bonus for everyone. Fold up trolleys are readily available and can handle lots of weight and slide into your boot or backseat. Gigs where you can’t park super close – no problem. And when you get to the gig, be flexible. It might not be an ideal stage setup, but make the most of it. Negative attitudes can really grate on some people and drag others down. And if it’s a set break, take note of the time and be back ready to play, don’t just disappear. Make your life easier, and in turn everyone else’s too… and then good things happen and you can play music and not worry about all the little stuff. Often the seemingly relaxed guys are actually really prepared too. BY NICK BROWN




Hand/Foot Combinations I thought I would share some ideas for some hand/foot groupings over triplets that I’ve been messing around with lately. For the record, while these fills are certainly adaptable and expandable, my standard set up is a four-piece kit with one mounted tom and one floor tom, so all fills have been designed around this. Furthermore, I’m only using single strokes in the hands. A final point pertains to where the bass drum is used. As part of a grouping, it is only played as a single stroke. As for the fill themselves, the concept looks at using semi-quaver triplets (groupings of three or six) and messing around with other groupings including four and five within that subdivision. All groupings are marked with brackets and the number of notes in that grouping. To start with, it would’ve been easier to just play groups of six within this subdivision to make it all nice and even, but that’s not really the point. To kick off the match, I thought I’d start with a grouping for four notes. The reason for this is that most drummers learn to fill in 16th notes (semiquavers) and it’s a familiar grouping. I’m also going to include the kick drum right off the bat and it’s going to be the classic sticking RLRF. If you look at Figure A, you’ll see a basic groove for three bars and our RLRF sticking played over snare, tom, floor tom and kick. It’s a classic fill, but needs to be comfortable to move forward. Next we see the same fill played as 16th note triplets. Still a grouping of four, but now it’s played faster with a gap between each lick – just to further familiarise the motif. Taking the idea further, Figure C is our same motif

again, but immediately repeated after the first bass drum. You start to really hear the crossing that happens by mixing groupings of different strokes. I’ve made the fill slightly rounded off by making the last two notes standard semiquavers. This is actually a sticking Steve Gadd used in his solo from the Up Close book. Stepping it up a notch is Figure D. Now we’re staying completely in sextuplets – 16th note triplets, but grouped as six instead of three. We have the four-note motif followed by new grouping of five notes (RLRLF). It’s merely one extra single stroke with the hands before the bass drum. I’ve simply repeated the two groupings again. You’ll notice I can now fit another grouping of four, but then had only two notes remaining in the bar. You’ll see also that the hands in the grouping of five

are only played on floor tom. I wanted a real ‘double bass drum’ sound during this fill, and this combined with the different sized groupings creates an interesting illusion. This does depend on your tuning too, however. The last two figures (E and F) are the same rhythm with only minor variations in the hands as to where they’re orchestrated. If you look at the groupings, you’ll notice groups of three, four and five played sequentially and repeated (3+4+5=12). What do you know, exactly half a bar! While the crossing the bar feel isn’t as strong with these two figures, they’re still cool and have a great sound when performed cleanly. Figure E really capitalises on our main four note sticking. You’ll notice each figure starts on the snare, moves to the first tom and then to the floor tom before

the bass drum strikes. I went for more of the ‘all on floor tom’ vibe again in the last figure as before. Don’t forget, you can truly go nuts with this. There are heaps of variations you can try. For example, try adding doubles on the bass drum, re-orchestrating for a five-piece drum kit, using the hi-hat for a different sound frequency, mixing and matching the groupings around, changing subdivisions, moving the groupings over two or more bars, or adding double strokes in the hands to alter direction around the drums. BY ADRIAN VIOLI



MVX150C1 Combo and MVX150H Head and Cab YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | YAMAHA.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $MVX150C1 - $1799, MVX15OH - $1399, BC112-150 - $699

Is there a way to be everything to everyone? Is it possible to please every comer no matter what his or her particular predilection may be? Is there even a point trying or is it simply too much to ask? These are the basic questions behind much of the research and development that has poured into the design and manufacture of most, if not all of the musical instrument, effect and amplification products available on the market today. Nine times out of ten a product will take a specific bent, with the sole intention of doing one thing and doing it well. There are, however, a number of products, particularly of the digital persuasion, that have a ruddy good crack at the spread. The digital age has brought on wave after wave of advancements where the distillation of the spirit of analogue componentry is concerned and while most fall flat short of the finish line, increasingly over the last decade or so others have come as close as anyone before to getting the whole thing right. Vox entered this arms race a long time ago with the advent of their Valvetronix range. Hot on the heels of the then fledgling Line 6 modelers, these amps used a combination of analogue, solid state and digital thinking to pack more sounds


into the same box than ever before, to varying degrees of success. Skip ahead a number of years and it seems they have turned their attention partly away from modeling, back towards the classic tube realm. Enter the MVX150, a whopping 150-watt combination of PCB and proprietary Nutube technology. Developed in a collaboration between KORG and the Noritake Itron Corporation, Nutube harnesses the tonal juiciness of the humble vacuum tube in order to rectify the sonic limitations of ones and zeroes. Vox first used a Nutube in the output stage of their VT and AV lines which were impressive enough, but it wasn’t until they unveiled their MV50 micro head units that people really started to sit up and notice. Both the MVX combo and head/cab units take the successful thinking of these previous iterations and apply it to a more performance-based approach. The first thing I thought when I pulled the impressively lightweight combo out of its box was that it reminded me of my first big-box, only with more switches and dials. With all the lights off I’d be tempted to put it next to Peavey Bandit 112s and the ilk in a shop.

Powered up though, it is a much more flashy and searching experience. There are two foot-switchable channels, each with a designated master volume and two-stage gain switch. Channel 1 is either bell-like and replete with headroom or mildly overdriven and crunchy depending on your mood and dialed in with a combination of a single tone knob, bright and fat switch. Channel 2 is the angry one. Go from beefy, ‘90s-friendly overdriven sounds to searing high gain at the flick of a switch. Zero in with both the three-way EQ and mid shift switch and you have just about every type of clip from transparent overdrive to flat out distortion at your fingertips. To the left of the panel you have the aforementioned master volumes as well as a swelling, spring style reverb. There are also presence and resonance knobs that allow you to wrap your tone up in a warm, rich, thick blanket of energy. On the back panel there are further enhancements that you can make. Dial in a healthy dollop of vintage charm on either or both channels with independent voicing knobs and keep your housemates happy with the six-way attenuator. The Celestion Redback speaker in both the combo and the separate BC112-150 cabinet is perfectly equipped to handle just about everything this amp can throw at it.

In the MVX150 range, Vox has made an excellent attempt at the above rubric— everything to everyone. While it may not have the inbuilt effects, amp models and user preset banks of it’s Valvetronics cousins, it is an incredibly versatile unit with the unmistakable warmth and distinguished air of a real tube amp. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Chiming, clear, clean and light crunch tones in a portable and snappy looking box MISSES ∙ There’s nothing better than the real thing and no shame in being a one trick pony


Albert Lee AL40 CMC MUSIC AUSTRALIA | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $995 Albert Lee is undoubtedly guitar royalty. Best known for his remarkably clean and lightening fast country chops, the venerable guitarist has been in partnership with Ernie Ball Music Man for over 40 years, with his signature offset guitar receiving rave reviews worldwide. As such, it was no surprise that when the Albert Lee signature model by Sterling was announced in early 2018, it turned the heads of adoring fans worldwide. Just like the St. Vincent, John Petrucci and James Valentine signature models, the SBMM Albert Lee signature successfully manages to balance both the spirit and elegance of its more expensive counterpart with the affordability of the Sterling series. The first thing I noticed when this guitar was unboxed was its eye-catching body shape. Sporting a black-on-black body and pickguard, the ‘retro-modern’ offset style body boasts sleek angles and a thin profile; this translates to an incredibly light guitar, constructed with a body of mahogany, hard maple neck and jatoba fretboard. The mahogany body resonates notably well, and its black paint makes for a stark contrast with the pale maple neck. The jatoba fretboard played smooth and didn’t feel dry at all – almost like a midpoint between rosewood and pau ferro. While the guitar was built in Indonesia, the final inspection and set up takes place in a Praxis facility in

Orange, California, resulting in a hassle-free experience out of the box. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lightly sanded satin-finished neck, which gave it a raw-wood feel to its entire length. The 9.5-inch radius C-shaped neck felt slick and brand new every time I picked the guitar up, making traversing up and down the fretboard an absolute breeze. However, the outermost fret edges felt slightly rough in some areas, and could use a touch more filing down. Sterling by Music Man opted to produce the dual humbucker version over Albert’s preferred SSS setup. The five-way pickup selection wiring is copied directly from its Music Man counterpart, and allows players to freely choose between the neck, middle, bridge, or the inner and outer coils. The neck pickup in isolation is pure warmth and sonic butter, while the bridge humbucker provides plenty of twang and responds extremely well

with all manner of gain. The polished silver lip on the two-point fulcrum tremolo ingeniously doubles as a comfortable palm rest, and even allows creative players to generate some vibrato without the tremolo arm installed. The 4-over-2 standard non-locking tuners are one of the areas where SBMM cut costs, but still manages to keep tuning stability at an acceptable level. The controls on board offer simplicity at its finest – a volume and tone knob hold sway over the two hum-free humbuckers. Even when rolling the volume down, the pickups manage to maintain the bulk of their tonal integrity, which is a commendable feat. While differences exist between the Music Man Albert Lee signature and the SBMM version, it’s difficult to ignore the many positives about this guitar at its appealing price point. With its lightweight body, it’s a

great choice for players of smaller stature or players with aching backs or shoulders. Its conspicuous offset body is refreshing and is a buoy of originality in a sea of Strat and Tele copies. Sterling By Music Man has done a laudable job in converting Albert Lee’s signature guitar into a more budget-friendly option for their customers, and offers an ideal choice for beginners and pros alike. BY EDDY LIM HITS ∙ ‘Retro-modern’ offset body ∙ Extremely playable neck ∙ Great sounding pickups MISSES ∙ Fret edges could use slightly more filing


Pro Series Streamer CV 4 White AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $3949 Every day people come into the music shop I work at armed with all of the research in the world. Whether it is their first instrument or their 17th, they charge in with a sense of purpose, cocksure in their affirmation that the image they have on their smartphone screen is the perfect choice for them. I’ve definitely been guilty of this more than once and it’s a natural reaction to the intimidating rabbit hole of choice that the stringed instrument world presents. More often than not though, they stand before the wall of guitars and basses and have that certainty knocked out from under them. However, sometimes the instrument picks the player rather than the other way around, which is exactly what happened when I picked up this cloud white Warwick Streamer CV4. As I mention in another review in this issue, I was guilty of having a preconceived notion of what it is to wrestle a Warwick before I picked either model up. One of the things I liked most about both, particularly the Streamer, was how happy they were to calmly and without a hint of malice prove me wrong with every note. I am admittedly a guitar player by trade, so I guess to a point my fingers look for different things

than those of someone with a deeper native tongue, but nevertheless I was enamoured with the way the one-piece maple neck and its accompanying rosewood fretboard sent my hands sliding like an air-hockey puck. Said neck is baseball-bat-round across the back but narrow in girth providing a seamlessly confortable yet not at all claustrophobic glide along all 21 frets. The contour of the body allows unlimited access and the balance of the clearly carefully selected piece of US swamp ash kept that infamous upper horn safely stapled to my sternum where it should be, as opposed to diving towards the headstock like other, long scale modern builds. Sonically, the Streamer sits firmly in the J Bass camp. Its twin, single coil passive pickups are controlled by a separate volume knob for each and master treble and bass knobs affording just the right amount of

focus without being too heavy handed. In all its organically lumpy glory, the contemporary aspect of the facade says little of the classic, to the point of vintage voicing therein. The top end attacks your preamp stage with vigour, allowing a tube amp plenty of 1200-1500Hz to chew on while the 100-500Hz characteristic sneaks through clear and undimmed as a brand new light bulb. There is plenty of attack on board but not enough to sound icy or harsh, which is mostly what made it impossible for me to do anything but pull out my best Fripp friendly, ‘70s prog rock moves for a little longer than I’d care to admit. Warwick basses are undeniably player friendly. With their gourmet characteristics and immaculate body and fretwork, they sound and feel a lot less divisive than they look. The Streamer CV 4 in particular harks back to an era long before snotty six-

stringers began their derision, where bass players commanded respect and played as tastefully and meticulously as anyone else in the band. Buttery in both neck feel and tonal warmth, with a distinction and clarity that few can lay claim to, forget everything that you thought and let this suit wear you. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Warmth and directness in spades with a vintage sense of distinction MISSES ∙ Those lumps again



Blood Moon Venus Cutaway Acoustic Guitar CMC MUSIC | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $1895 Faith Guitars has been a staple in the acoustic guitar industry for years, and the Faith Blood Moon Venus Cutaway Acoustic does nothing to tarnish this reputation. The guitar was awarded UK’s Best Acoustic Guitar in 2016 by the Music Industries Association, and I can see why. The Blood Moon Venus is lightweight and comfortable, while still being very wellbuilt and hugely resonant. A Fishman Ink pickup completes the guitar, with an onboard tuner and EQ. Right out of the luxurious, furlined hard case, this guitar is a winner. The first thing I noticed was that the satin finished neck differs from the glossy body and headstock, and helps the player quickly change chords as glossy necks can get grabby. The guitar was well intonated out of the box, and the tuning was very stable thanks to the Grover Rotomatic tuners. The Blood Moon is beautiful to look at, right down to the mother of pearl ‘F’ at the twelfth fret. The Fishman Ink pickup is practical, classy and out of the way. The Blood Moon Venus is made entirely of Indonesian Trembesi, and looks and feels elegant. The rich stain and glossy finish, coupled with mother of pearl and abalone

inlays, rosette and binding makes for a classy guitar. The body is resonant in the most pleasing way i.e. without being overbearing or boomy. The Macassan Fingered ebony fingerboard sounds and feels good, adding to the consistent sound produced acoustically. Chords are rich and strumming away at it is easy, while the cutaway provides good access beyond the 15th fret.

I’m perfectly in tune). The backlit LED flickers to green from blue when in tune so it can be easily be read on stage. The EQ (bass, middle and treble) sounds great, producing a usable sound even when maxed out either way. The additional hard case is well made, fur-lined and lockable. It’ll keep this guitar at an even temperature when travelling and safe when knocked around.

The internal Fishman Ink pickup does a great job of reproducing the sound of the guitar and would be ideal for smaller gigs, recording, or using effects pedals without sounding spanky and produced like most other acoustic guitar pickups. The controls on the Fishman Ink are easy to tweak as well, with little handles on the pots for changing settings on the fly. It also features an on-board tuner, which isn’t as accurate as I’m used to, but it gets the job done (I don’t trust any tuner that tells me

Overall it’s a very comfortable guitar to play; however, while big chords sound full, fretted notes and more intricate playing begins to lose some definition. This may not be a dealbreaker for all, but you’d struggle to use this for a lot more than strumming and rhythm playing. In saying that, the Blood Moon Venus sounds great for rhythm. The guitar reacts really well dynamically, and sounds great whether playing big rich chords or plucking away at quiet chords and passages.

string can be cycled through at increments of a semitone. I love this because I’ve always struggled with how different tunings feel. A guitar tuned, intonated and set-up in standard never feels right in a dropped tuning, etc. The Shuriken does away with this problem, because the guitar is always set-up and tuned, but the software changes the tuning. Further to this, Workbench HD can change the volume of each string. I’m a fan, and I haven’t even got to the guitar model reproductions.

if required. Something that struck me about the reproductions was how accurate they are, in that they can sound unpleasant. At times the acoustic was too boomy, and some pickup options made the guitars sound too thin. I love when gear can be pushed too far, and this is a testament to how accurate the Shuriken and Workbench HD software really is.

The Faith Blood Moon Venus Cutaway Acoustic Guitar is classy and elegant. It’s well built and solid, but lightweight and comfortable to play whether sitting or standing. The pickup sounds great, the EQ is there for a little boost or cut, and it’s simple to use. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Neptune, and neither should you. BY LEWIS NOKE-EDWARDS HITS ∙ Big, consistent sound ∙ Comfortable & lightweight ∙ Matte neck MISSES ∙ Notes and licks not very articulate


Shuriken SR250 Variax Guitar YAMAHA MUSIC | AU.YAMAHA.COM EXPECT TO PAY: $2599 The Line 6 Variax Shuriken is the latest Variax guitar, created in conjunction with 12-Foot Ninja guitarist Steve “Stevic” Mackay, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. It connects via VDI to Line 6’s Workbench HD software and allows the user to endless tweak presets that can be turned on and cycled through very easily. It’s available in 25.5” and 27” scale lengths, and feels like a solid, well-built guitar. The 25.5” scale length Shuriken is sleek, finished in black satin and feels fast. The distinctive body shape is comfortable to play, but is a little top heavy, and it includes a gig bag that is well padded and would keep the guitar safe in most situations. The Shuriken includes adapters and cables to connect to Line 6’s Workbench HD software, which is where the Shuriken really shines. Workbench HD gives the player the ability to choose from 50 models of guitar and countless pickup and tuning combinations. Once installed, the Workbench HD software left me floored. The guitar itself features single volume and tone knobs, as well as two notched knobs to cycle through tunings and customised guitar models. It has a single bridge pickup, a five-way pickup switch so the player can select different pickups, and further customise the pickup selector itself. One feature that struck me was the customisable tuning, where each


The Workbench HD software allows the Shuriken user to download model, tuning and string presets to the guitar itself. Scrolling through the models, there’s an array of guitars to choose from such as Les Pauls, Gretsches, a big body acoustic, Telecasters and Rickenbackers to name a few. Once a model is selected, the pickup position can be customised, as well as the angle and volume of the pickup. This allows the pickup selector to also act as a killswitch

It’s important to note that while the Line 6 software reproduces the sound of these with great accuracy, it’s reproducing their recorded, direct sound. Similar to the Shuriken’s software counterparts, such as the Line 6 Helix, Kemper or AxeFx, these units will never replace the actual gear they’re reproducing, nor will they sound specifically like whatever amplifier or guitar they’re emulating. But recorded, or played through a real amp, the Shuriken will faithfully reproduce everything it claims to.

it’s very simple to create and save presets. For people who tweak or love to experiment, it’s heaven. The Shuriken can become any number of normal electric guitars at the push of a button (well, the scrolling of a knob, but that’s less poetic). I highly recommend the Shuriken to creative players who want options, or who want to experiment and to create something new. BY LEWIS NOKE-EDWARDS HITS ∙ Easy access to 24th fret ∙ Workbench HD software is great MISSES ∙ Top heavy

In conclusion, the Shuriken is phenomenal. Once the Workbench HD software is installed


ATH-M50x Red AUDIO-TECHNICA AUSTRALIA | AUDIO-TECHNICA.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $279 I became absolutely and utterly obsessed with comic books and music at a young age. Countless hours were spent reading through my comic collection while Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young played in the background. Naturally, the idea of a pair of high quality headphones in a colour scheme resembling Iron Man’s armour was something that got me quite excited. Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x headphones have been around since 2012, but every year since the model’s inception they have released a limited colour run. This particular colourway is a gorgeous dark red with gold trimmings. It’s simple, really: these headphones sound great. They’re extremely clear and flat, making them perfect for mixing and monitoring as well as recreational listening. The highs shine through without being too shrill, and the low end is warm without being overpowering. The sound isolation is solid, ensuring that you’re well and truly disconnected from the outside world. Everything you want and need from a top quality pair of headphones. In my eyes, the true test of over the ear headphones comes down to comfort, so it was very timely that I was heading on a ten hour flight the week these landed

in my hands. The plush leather earcups were soft and comfortable the entire flight, which is what you’d expect from headphones designed for long usage like monitoring and mixing. The headband and the cups are highly adjustable, making it easy to find the right fit for you in a matter of seconds. It’s funny how the simplest of features can also be the absolute shining light of a product. In this instance, the M50x has a detachable cable which is an incredible feature that I never knew I needed so much up ‘til now. If you’re anything like me, the first thing to always go in a pair of headphones is the cable, so being able to replace that without the expenditure of an entirely new pair is an absolute godsend. Three cables are included with the headphones (two straight and one coiled), providing you with great options depending on the application. The soft leather carry bag included is a nice little cherry on top, providing a safe haven for the headphones to collapse down into with ease. The red and gold colour scheme is particularly fitting for the M50x; a bold and regal look for a classy pair of headphones. You’d be hard pressed to find another pair under $300 that even comes close to the quality and comfort these

provide. It’s no wonder these have been selling like hotcakes for the last half decade. BY NICHOLAS SIMONSEN

HITS ∙ Extremely comfortable and durable ∙ Makes me feel like Iron Man MISSES ∙ Does not make me Iron Man


Player Series Stratocaster FENDER MUSIC AUSTRALIA FENDER.COM.AU | RRP: $1199 It feels like lately the kind folk at the Fender dream factories have decided to smarten up their already spiffy act. Gone are the modern appointments, nay quirks, of the Blacktop and Highway One series. Workhorse American Professional models have well and truly planted themselves in the hearts and minds of players from all walks of life and their classic era builds have those of us with nostalgia on the brain tied up in knots. What next then for the biggest name in the game? Why not leave no stone unturned, take a trip south of the border and tweak the whole catalogue from the ground up? It’s about time to close the gap between the made-in-Mexico standard riff sticks and the rest of the family. Say hello to the new and improved Player Series Stratocaster. Over the course of the last few years of cleaning up, Fender has gotten very good at identifying its own faults. Standard Series guitars are probably one of their highest sellers, owing mostly to the price point, and it stands to reason that this is where they should look next in order to get that classic Fender sound into as many hands as possible. I’ve always had a lot of time for Mexican builds. With the Corona, California, factory mere miles from door-to-door there is no reason why anyone should snub one

build in favour of another, aside from the obvious differences in spec sheets and the necessary variation from piece to piece. The Player Series picks a few cherries from their neighbour's tree in order to sweeten its own pie. The most obvious improvement by far is the way these things sound. Again, I’ve always had a lot of time for Mexican guitars but as soon as I picked up this aged Malmsteen yellow axe I knew that something had changed. Side by side the old stock has something of a dimmed, sock-over-themic dullness that has well and truly been replaced by a light, crispy chime much more akin to an American Standard with Texas Special pickups on board. The neck too feels less like an imitation. It arcs gently across a

more vintage ‘C’ shape than its predecessor, making for a smoother ride that is as easy on intermediate hands as it is familiar to a more seasoned Strat-ophile. Simply put, it’s Strat-ier than ever before. Twenty-two frets, a two-point anchored tremolo, ‘F’ stamped neck plate on the back of an alder body and some of the choicest, vintage paint jobs you’ve seen, the only thing that reminds you that it's not actually American is the MX at the beginning of the serial number. Fender remind us once again that there’s classic, and there is classic. The improvements they have made to the entry point of their line are just enough to put the Player Series ahead of not only the old Mexican Standard stuff but streets ahead of any pretender to the throne. If this is

where the story starts then more and more people than ever are going to be tempted to read on. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Improvements are actually improvements, not just changes for the sake of it MISSES ∙ None


AC-Driver Acoustic Instrument Preamp AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $319 Acoustic guitar live sound can be a very different beast compared to its electric brothers. Yes, you can just plug and play and let the sound guy/FOH operator work his magic, but a little initial control can be a good thing too. Radial is known for its super reliable stage gear offering a range of high quality DIs/pedals/preamps for both live and studio situations. Focusing more on the live acoustic instrumentalist, the ACDriver should appeal to a range of players in the acoustic domain. Designed as a live tool, the AC-Driver seems built to last. A tough steel casing with quite a bit of weight feels solid and super sturdy, and the same can be said about the sockets, controls and switches (as seems to be the Radial way). A 9V DC plug on the back powers the unit with your standard input/ output jacks and a Mute footswitch. Further rear plate options include a balanced out (great for sound guys), a dedicated tuner out if you want to keep your tuner on and not in your signal path, and a ground lift switch. Control-wise, on the face of the pedal there are controls for Low Cut, Level and Notch with a switchable option for Off, Normal and Deep, and a Phase reverse switch used to help with feedback by reversing the polarity of the XLR output.


Plugged in, the preamp sounds clean and clear with plenty of headroom. The Low Cut is handy for dialling out extra (often unwanted) bass frequencies. Good for guitars, it could also be super usable for any acoustic instruments (mandolin and violin come to mind). More sculpting can be performed with the Notch control, which allows you to find and target frequencies that are feeding back without hacking into too much of your tonal spectrum – great for live sound where some extra control is needed. More top quality stuff from Radial here in the form of the AC-Driver. I’d imagine you’ll see them in live sound guys’ kits, backline PA setups, and many gig bags as a handy preamp and tonal shaper. Some may be a bit miffed with the power-supply-only deal (no batteries), but in this day and age and as a serious live tool, there’s always power and power supplies readily available on your pedalboard, at a gig or on stage, so it’s really no huge deal breaker. Rock solid and easy to use – win. BY NICK BROWN

HITS ∙ Clean and clear ∙ A serious live tool that’s built to last MISSES ∙ None





PLAYE A R SERIES JAGUAR IN TIDE POOL AYE ©2018 FMIC. FENDER, FENDER in script, JAGUAR and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.


Pedalboard ELECTRIC FACTORY | ELFA.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $1799 The market for floorboard-style digital processors is becoming pretty crowded right now. This has always been a competitive field at the lower end, where I’m sure many of us first encountered multi-effects, but in interviewing bands for magazines like Mixdown I hear time and time again that pro players are ditching their amps and running with a pro-level processor instead. There are lots of reasons for this - practicality, low cost of transport compared to a full amp and effects rig, tonal flexibility. While a lot of players are still reticent to do away with physical amps in the recording studio, they’re faced with more and more choices for how to take those tones on the road. I guess we should address the elephant in the room straight away: to the casual observer the HeadRush looks a heck of a lot like a Line 6 Helix. Everything from the size to the colour scheme to the layout seems very Helix-y. Given the development lead times with products like these, it’s entirely possible that it’s just a coincidence. This happens to be where guitar equipment design appears to be heading anyway, and clean lines, colour-changing LEDs and fullcolour touch screens are certainly logical inclusions on a digital processor in 2017. So when we strip that away, what do we have here? The HeadRush Pedalboard

houses a finely-tuned quad-core processor and is powered by an exclusive Eleven HD Expanded DSP software - Avid’s ElevenRack being a pioneer in hyper-real digital amp models. HeadRush Pedalboard has 33 amp models, with about two thirds dedicated to vintage classics with not-so-subtle names like 66 AC Hi Boost, 59 Tweed Deluxe and 69 Plexiglass 100W. There are also hotter models like 92 Treadplate, SL-100 and RB01B. There are cabinets in configurations from 1X8 all the way up to 8X10, with four 4X12 options, ten microphone types, six different distortion models including 8-Bit Crush, eight rotary effects, five dynamics/ EQ options, 11 modulations, seven reverbs/ delays and five expression effects including whammy and two wahs. And here’s a cool feature: you can load third-party impulse response files to the HeadRush Pedalboard for realistic speaker cabinet sounds. HeadRush teamed up with Celestion to include an exclusive download to get you started, but the HeadRush Pedalboard also supports all common wave formats (wav, aiff), sample rates of up to 192kHz and bit depths of up to 32-bit. Connections include jacks for an additional expression pedal, an aux in, stereo XLR and 1/4” outs, amp/ line switch, phone jack, stereo FX loop with rack/stomp level switch, MIDI in and out/ thru and USB.

Let’s get to the most important stuff though: HeadRush PedalBoard feels pretty damn amp-like. It’s especially noticeable when you go from one of the small amp models to one of the big ones; the dynamic squish of the smaller amps gives way to a full-bodied, full-range roar. The great cabinet impulses no doubt play an important role in this, but let’s not discount the voicing and resolution of the models. There are plenty of processors with more effects, but HeadRush focuses on quality rather than quantity. The effects here sound great and they respond like the real deal, so you can have all sorts of fun running an overdrive into a JCM800 model and getting exactly the results you rightfully expect.

digital control but are more concerned with amp-like response and sound than with making their guitar rig sound like R2-D2. Everything’s laid out to be very gig-friendly, and it makes a great recording setup too. It sits very comfortably among the other prolevel floorboards out there. BY PETER HODGSON HITS ∙ Well laid out ∙ Extremely versatile array of sounds MISSES ∙ Nothing

HeadRush PedalBoard is a great option for players who want the full power of


AC30 S1 Amplifier YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | AU.YAMAHA.COM | EXPECT TO PAY: $1499 As it’s defined by the Oxford Dictionary, in physics singularity is the “point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space–time when matter is infinitely dense, such as at the center of a black hole.” Taken more figuratively it is the position that a thing takes of absolute self hood, where any given object is the most condensed version of itself, leaving little to no room for accoutrements, addendum or paraphernalia; the one and only source of its own characteristic. Metaphorically speaking there are a number of beings that exist in the musical world that could claim to have achieved this solitary state of being. Jimmy Page’s ancient Supro, the first Strat or Nocaster, and Keith Richards’ original skin all hold an absolutely singular place in the great hall of musical artifacts. Given its pivotal role in defining the sound of generation after generation of guitarists, Vox’s inimitable AC30 guitar amplifier has been achingly close to achieving this holy one-ness for decades. Now, in one of the more closely kept secrets of recent times, the AC30 S1 takes this earth-shattering vibration to that higher plane. Now, we’ve all seen, heard, played through and tried to lift an AC before. We all know what they are there for. Heavier than hell and louder than your neighbouring nation could abide, that infamous hazelnut grille-


cloth has long been the dream for anyone with a thirst for tube transcendence. At the same time we’ve all scratched our heads wondering how and why channel jumping works as much as we have wondered whether or not to bother venturing down that path. This is where the new AC comes in. For what feels like the very first time Vox delivers a single channel, single 12” speaker variation on the theme and for me it immediately takes its seat at the top of the hierarchy. Much like the models it joins in the AC council of elders, 12AX7 preamp and EL84 power tubes drive the beginning, middle and end of the S1 story. The expansive, chiming response of the former is beefed up and thrust forward by the latter in exactly the way you’d expect from a Vox build. For what it’s worth, I’ve never found an AC30 I’ve loved as much as I’ve wanted to. I’ve always found the voicing a little too dry and evened out for my taste and wanted more space in the reverb tank to splash around in. That is until now. Immediately the S1 has a vastness, harmonic richness and almost Fender-esque brilliance that I’ve yearned for from Vox for as long as I can remember. I feel like the distilled nature of the single channel design has trimmed a lot of fat from the voicing and allowed it to blossom gloriously, giving that famous tube combination a lot more breathing space.

Driven hard there is a luscious amount of natural compression to the gain stage that opens up as you dig in while retaining a warmth, versatility and transparent grit that blues and jazz players will respond as favourably as your average rock pig. I can now breathe an eternal sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that Vox have perfected their historic AC line. While it might seem like me making a big deal over a simple modification, the proof is in the aural pudding. With a luxurious harmonic landscape and classic design features, the

AC30 S1 is the Holy Grail amp that Vox have been promising for eons. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Harmonic richness like never before MISSES ∙ None


Gauss Tape Echo AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $109 They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If this is so then the air above the battlefield of pedal manufacturing must whistle with compliments flung ad nauseam between gangs of soldering iron wielding engineers, each with eyes on beating the next to the hearts, wallets and ultimately pedalboards of riff warriors everywhere. While pretty much every such hoard makes their attempt at the truest interpretation of any given design, it is the variation between these takes that keeps us, the audience, coming back to the trough, hungry for more of whatever it is they’ve dished up this time. Some companies focus on one specific brand of textural torture, while others like Danish battalion TC Electronic keep a wellstocked armory of just about every device of sonic warfare you can imagine. The newest addition to their sonic smorgasbord is the Gauss Tape Echo pedal. Tape Echo is one of those funny effects where the malfunction of devices originally designed to deliver it is essentially what players crave. Any studio bound audiophile will attest to just how embarrassing and annoying an original Roland RE-201 Space Echo can be if and when it decides to pack up mid-take, and not to mention fiddly to repair. However, when they do work, the lush, womb-like warmth of the repeats emanating from those temperamental tape heads is the stuff of dreams, hence why

there are so many pedals on the market that aim to emulate it. Some definitely go over the top with hiss and crackle and introduce quickly crescendoing self-oscillation to the table, but to me this complicates an already complicated echo sound. This is where the Gauss steps in. Three knobs and a simple switch control the bare necessities atop the spare, army green chassis. Delay controls the time between repeats, sustain the number of times they appear, and volume is a welcome blend of effected and dry signal. The mod on/ off switch instantly ages the ‘tape’ at your behest, peppering your signal with a subtle amount of dreamy warble and almost choruslike sheen. TC has done well, as they usually do, to keep this design as neat and tidy as possible, shying away from the imitationvintage grime that most other manufacturers use to gussy up their models. Gauss gives you the kind of healthy warmth and cleanliness a tape machine would have had straight out of the box rather than acting like a broken down version, which makes for a much more user-friendly tonal fingerprint. There is less mud and inescapable hiss and much more headroom, rendering it perfect for either before or after your drives and other effects. There is a sense of Scandinavian cleanliness and efficiency in the output of every TC

Electronic pedal I’ve been lucky enough to try. They have a real knack for taking something that so many other people do and polishing it up, knocking off all the rough edges to add a sense of order and clarity even when the opposite is what is called for. The Gauss is one of the most easy to listen to as well as dial-in Tape Echo pedals I’ve tried. BY LUKE SHIELDS

HITS ∙ Distinctly Scandinavian cleanliness and efficiency in both tone and controls MISSES ∙ No expression pedal jack



There are a lot of compact digital mixers on the market these days, offering all manner of configurations and various interfacing options. They’re really only limited to the physical connectivity on offer, as the software capabilities can always grow with the needs of the user base. Now, I’ll come out and say it right from the get-go: I have seen and used my fair share of various compact digital mixers, but I certainly believe the one that most took my fancy over the last ten years is the Allen & Heath QU-SB compact digital mixer. For those of you who have not yet had the chance to look at one of these units, I highly recommend it. The physical build of the interface and the software integration make it a standout device in a marketplace that understands quality and knows that meeting the user’s needs is paramount. Allen & Heath has always been known for quality builds in its mixers, and its offerings in the digital realm are no different, with the Qu-SB leading the way for compact digital mixing. I do love the design of the hardware unit. It reminds me somewhat of the classic tilt-back shape of a number of analogue synthesisers I used to own. It’s tough enough to be used on the stage floor in place of a traditional analogue stage box, meaning you don’t need long cable runs and expensive multicores to get the signals from all your microphones to your mixing position. For installation purposes, it can easily be connected to a LAN via network


cables and accessed from any network connection within the building, making it ideal for larger corporate installs and large venues alike. The Qu-SB is very well constructed and offers more I/O options than any other device I have come across for its size. With 16 microphone inputs, it’s going to take care of most live setups, although it can be linked via a dSnake connection to another device expanding the system to 32 microphone or line inputs. The same goes for outputs, with a good selection on offer. Ten mix outputs and a master stereo output are supplied on the device, allowing for front of house and plenty of monitoring options to be catered for. Plus, it acts as a USB interface to a computer for live recording of your performances. This means you can capture every moment of your set to play back later, whilst mixing at the same time. When not performing live, it makes an ideal recording device in the rehearsal room. I don’t usually like to refer to any software platform as an ‘app’, as that tends to leave people thinking it is a simple platform. But with newer computer operating systems changing their labels on what a piece of software is called, the term ‘app’ now means you are getting something far more complex than just a promotional device on your mobile phone. One thing is for certain: this is not a simple mixing app. It is a fully fledged mixing solution

and gives you total control over all physical inputs and outputs, as well as virtual channels within the software. There are a number of different apps that can be run with this device to achieve various goals. The Qu-Pad app gives you instant access to all your mixing parameters on one iPad, so you can roam around the venue and make changes to any element of the mix as you please. You have four effects engines within the software, offering a wide range of dynamic, EQ and creative effects for your mix. Up to 11 monitor mixes can be created, with six able to be reassigned as three stereo pairs. Also, with the Qu-You app, up to seven separate iPads can be run on stage for different monitor mixes, allowing performers to adjust their individual mix to suit their needs, while being locked out from other critical mix functions. Even better, Allen & Heath has teamed up with Sennheiser, Shure and Audio-Technica to create a library of microphone preamp presets ready to suit a wide range of their microphones. Simply select the microphone you’re using and apply the intended purpose, and the software sets up the EQ just right to meet the criteria. Not only can you save your room EQ settings and patches for mix setups, but you can also easily adjust the microphone settings to instantly fit your rig.

musician on any stage, allowing you to add recording to the mixing process without the need to worry about splitters, additional computers, software or a recording engineer. It offers a number of recording options, including a fully-fledged 18 channel multi-track option at 24bit/48kHz quality. Playback is also on offer through the Qu-SB, so you can bring limitless amounts of prerecorded music to you events. In short, this unit is a musician's dream when it comes to live performance and recording. You can be the engineer from anywhere in the room, including the middle of the stage. Save your presets for each venue and setup, and there is very little work involved the next time. BY ROB GEE HITS ∙ Excellent array of inputs and outputs ∙ Well-designed control software ∙ Excellent microphone preset library MISSES ∙ None

The Qu-SB pretty much takes the guesswork out of the equation for those who may not have advanced engineering skills. Digital mixing is now very much an option for every


Profiler Head and Remote INNOVATIVE MUSIC | INNOVATIVEMUSIC.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: FROM $3399 Modeling effects are hardly a new idea. Companies have been trying to replicate the nuances of tonal triumphs for decades, a case in point being the swelling market for clones of prized overdrive pedals. For years the use of professional digital imitators carried a stigma of philistinism around with it, largely due to manufacturers’ inability to overcome the indelible effect that digitisation has on fidelity. It seems like players are realising the potential inherent in some of the more top of the line examples and utilising them in live touring rigs. Cue the rise of Axe-FX as one of the most divisive names in today’s riff game, and the engineers at Kemper have certainly come nipping at its binary heels. With a lot of these units, functionality is the key to success. Often you’re faced with something that’s far from plug-andplay, meaning you spend as much time studying the manual as you do shredding away to your heart’s content. Kemper’s Profiler, however, is only as complicated as you want it to be. You can simply pick a patch from the exhaustive list of factory presets designed by card carrying Kemper alumni and use the buttons that litter the face plate to sculpt to taste, adding stompbox-style effects or switching between faithfully reproduced cab and head emulations.

If you really feel like being fiddly you’re afforded unprecedented detail; choose from a swathe of mics and then position them as you please. You can add tap tempos, notch EQs and take to it with any number of other fine-toothed combs. In browse mode you can scour the landscape for all the tools and tricks you need, then save your own patches in the order that most suits the flow of your set. Not only that, but the first thing the unit asks you to do when you light it up is enter your name and the date and time so that it can apply that information to your patches as a personal signature, helping you recall and copyright all your own unique snowflakes. It was quickly apparent that there was little to no limit to the possibilities of what I could conjure myself once I really got stuck in. It’s an experience not unlike moving into a new house; you may not like what the previous tenants had done with the place, but once you move all your stuff in it starts to feel like home. The rotary cabinet sound was one of the nicest I’ve heard in this context and some of the low gain, Fender and Soldano reproductions were quite brilliant.

bottle green housing are second to none. If you’re looking for the simplest way to get a Triple Rec on the same stage as a ’56 Bassman without millionaire status then look no further. BY ROB GEE

HITS ∙ Easy to use ∙ Endless possibilities ∙ Faithful reproduction of tones MISSES ∙ Presets won’t be to everyone’s taste

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Kemper Profiler is bound to get you where you need to go. The faithful simulations in this stylish, pea and


Dingbat Large Pedalboard EGM DISTRIBUTION| EGM.NET.AU | RRP: $939 Voodoo Lab have long been major players in the guitar industry. Effects, power supplies, switchers and more are part of the VL stable with items such as the Sparkle Drive, Pedal Power Micro Vibe and Ground Control Pro all instantly recognisable and widely used. In fact, Voodoo Lab’s Pedal Power line of pedal power supplies was one of the first pro level units to really hit widespread usage and it’s still going strong today. Combining a couple of their items, VL have released the Dingbat Pedalboard packages with this particular model coming loaded with a Pedal Power Mondo and housed in a snazzy padded gigbag. Aimed as an all-in-one, ready to go deal, the Dingbat looks the goods, so let’s take a closer look. Coming in three sizes, the Large is the biggest of the group and measures around 64 x 40 cms. VL suggestS the Large will hold 10 to 16 pedals, depending on size, so it should cover quite a few setups, styles and players. Made from aircraft grade aluminium, the board itself is super light but tough. With rounded edges and multiple cut outs, the Dingbat has a slightly different design and aesthetic to its competitors, enabling you to place pedals almost anywhere and utilise either Velcro or cable ties when fixing them to the board. Another major feature of the Dingbat is the pre-attached Mondo power

supply which offers 12 outlets in a variety of AC and DC settings. Essentially you just have to stick on your pedals, plug in the appropriate power adaptors and you’re good to go—it’s as easy as that. The Dingbat feels solid—really solid. It could easily hold a swagger of pedals combining smaller Boss sizes through to Strymon and the like with the board cut outs making great spaces for running leads whilst still offering plenty of contact space in between for Velcro or dual lock. The Mondo is a beast of power supply and if you’re undecided or unsure of your power requirements, it’s a very impressive starting point as an all-in-one unit. Gig bags are a great lightweight and portable alternative to a road case and the included straps and handles give you enough options to manoeuvre and handle the Dingbat quite easily. A great unit at any level (amateur through to professionals) with pro level gear that is built to last and flexible enough to accommodate a multitude of options and setups. BY NICK BROWN

HITS ∙ Power supply being included means you’re ready to go ∙ Lightweight and tough MISSES ∙ Some may like a hardcase option



LiveTrak L-12 Digital Mixer and Interface DYNAMIC MUSIC | DYNAMICMUSIC.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $1249 One of the most intimidating and confusing events in the life of the budding young musician is that tentative first step into an actual, semi-professional rehearsal studio. The dim-lit, dank, decades old grime on the walls sets the mood as you approach the ancient PA system and its gummed up faders. The task defeats many but once you do get the ‘test one-two’s to emanate from the charred speakers, then comes that lasting feeling that maybe this music thing does suit you after all. That first amplified victory is enough for many to maintain a hunger for mixing and recording via channel strips and preamps to varying degrees of success for decades thereafter. Zoom has, for a long time, been the go-to company for portable devices that aid and abet this addiction. Their latest creation, the LiveTrak L-12, sees them expand this logical approach to everything-to-everyone status. On first glance, the L-12 is a pretty standard offering. It is essentially a 12-channel mixer comprised of the usual eight mono and two stereo strips designed to get your whole band to pass through the eye of a needle. It’s a super compact unit with all the three-band parametric EQ shaping, phantom power in groups of four, individual compression, and in-built

effects you’ve come to expect from such workhorse units. Peek beneath the hood, however, and it reveals itself to be much more. Realistically, Zoom have taken their flagship handheld recorder, the H4, and expanded it to include just about every morsel of functionality ever wished for in rehearsal situ. Boasting some of Zoom’s cleanest preamp stages to date, the mixer itself not only drives speakers but doubles as a DAW interface as well as being ready, willing and able to store your jams on board when the groove catches you unawares. You have at your behest five individual monitor mixes, user preset setting snapshots for lightening fast recording set up, quick-punch overdub function, and any number of other studio tricks primed to make demoing and live recording a breeze. The idea is that it’s a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to make the most out of their space the moment the instruments come out. Instead of trying to recreate the energy later, the L-12 lets you fire up the record engine whenever and wherever the mood strikes. The success and failure of any unit that promises this much is purely and simply whether or not it delivers on said promises. As a simple live mixer, it certainly rises to

the occasion with everything laid out as straightforward as is to be expected. As a quick recording device, however, Zoom has really hit the nail on the head as far as making one of the more complicated aspects of the creative process relatively plug-and-play. There is little to no fiddling around once you know your way around the controls, bringing the idea of simple and effective demoing closer to flick-of-aswitch reality. In a day and age where bedroom recordings and clandestine production techniques are more widely proliferated than ever, it stands to reason that a company like Zoom should bridge the gap between the successful tinkerer and the seasoned studio expert. The L-12 is not just another tool for those in the know, but rather a way for anyone

and everyone’s most spontaneous ideas to pass from conception to actuality. It’s not rocket science, it’s rock and roll, and it should, would and could happen to anyone. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Simple yet effective distillation of mixer/recording hub functionality MISSES ∙ They are yet to bring out a 24 and/or six channel version


Spider V 20 Practice Amp YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | AU.YAMAHA.COM | EXPECT TO PAY: $290 Every time I sit down at my crowded little desk to write I am accompanied faithfully by one of my oldest and most prized possessions. When I was around 12 years old I was given my first electric guitar package for a birthday. While the cable, strap, picks, pitch pipe and even the axe itself have all fallen foul of the intervening years, my first ten-watt practice amp remains plugged into the wall at all times. Although practically worthless as amps go, it has always been my go-to for quick access to ideas or a cheeky shred before leaving the house. I’ve even used its terribly low headroom to record a number of times as it lends a ferocious amount of colour to guitar, bass and snare alike. Loosed of many of the trimmings of its more powerful counterparts yet not at all limited in doing so, the Line 6 Spider V 20 seems custom built for exactly this purpose. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, practice amps are a grossly underrated yet doggedly useful part of everyday musical life. Long gone are the days when you were limited to a cookie cutter squawk box in the search for something to plonk scales and modes through. Line 6 employs a team of engineers and designers who seem to be experts at packing as many options as possible into one convenient housing and for the most part this is what the company as a whole is known for. Like them or lump


them, they have lead the charge in digital imitations for just about as long as that has been an idea worth pursuing. As such it makes absolute sense that the smallest amp in their flagship Spider V range sounds the way it does, worthy of a place amongst its bigger siblings. As I said above, it is essentially a diet version of the rest of the Spider menu. Where the others have over a hundred presets on board, the V 20 has 16 plus three stomp box models opening up each palette, and at 20-watts RMS it is more than enough to fill your bedroom stadium. It is compatible with the Spider V Remote app just like the others, operating on both Android and Apple iOS platforms, and can even be used as a recording interface via the Cubase LE DAW included in the housing. All of this adds up to a pretty powerful little unit, not to mention the extensive and undeniably versatile Line 6 catalogue of models that it cherry picks its tonality from. The 8” speaker has a little bit of a limitation in that you’re not going to be able to hear too much sub bass rumbling your gizzards, but it is more than equipped to handle every riff in your library should you find time in your busy schedule to tear into it. I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader, and pretend that the Spider V 20 is the be

all and end all of tone mining perfection. I am, however, going to admit to you that I had a hell of a lot of fun mucking around with the thing in much the same way as I used to 100 years ago when I was 12. I even managed to remember the intro solo to ‘Sanitarium’, a vintage favourite. If teenage me had this much choice on tap I probably never would’ve finished my homework.

HITS ∙ Just enough preset and adjustable trickery on tap to help you forget it is a practice amp MISSES ∙ The obvious limitations of size


O R I G I N A L D E S I G N S . F E N D E R TO N E .




Hall of Fame II Reverb Pedal AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $319 TC Electronic’s Hall of Fame pedal quickly became a part of pedalboards the world over for its ease of use and great sound. Now, the second incarnation of the best-selling effect is ready to take the stage, taking what the original did and updating it for a new generation of players. The new and improved HOF isn’t a complete revamp of the original, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Players have grown accustomed to the pedal’s parameters and design, so if you’re already familiar with its controls you’ll have no problem getting to know the new edition. And while it does everything that the original did, it also packs some exciting new features that’ll have you covered for multiple playing scenarios. The cutting edge MASH technology essentially integrates all the added fluidity of an expression pedal into a compact format, which adds a whole new level of playability—and most importantly, musicality—to the Hall of Fame. You’re able to control almost every parameter imaginable through MASH integration, including length and decay, which can all be altered in real time on the fly. Paired with the lush, crystalline sounds of the shimmer function, you’re able to craft some ethereal dreamscapes and swells that sound utterly three-dimensional.

So, how do you make the most of the pedal’s expressive qualities and MASH function without actually plugging an expression pedal in? It’s all about the amount of pressure you apply to the footswitch. After a little bit of practise, the feel becomes innate. The harder you press, the more intense the effect. Simple. Effective. Brilliant. Plus, you’ve just freed up some space on your pedalboard for more effects. As for the reverbs themselves, each type would sound fantastic in a standalone unit. The fact that you can get them all in a single pedal without sacrificing ease of use represents fantastic value for money. Church will have your ambient, clean leads sounding like they’ve been summoned inside the largest cathedral imaginable, while the spring function nails the old-school slilverface tone, perfect for rockabilly, blues and classic styles of playing. Mod and lofi settings offer some more experimental tones, while plate, hall and room will get you that crystal clear studio reverb that’ll have you sounding slick and clear. All in all, each function on its own sounds fantastic. Together, they represent a well-rounded selection of reverbs that’ll take you from understated and lush to heavily effected ambience. Capping it off, TC Electronic’s TonePrint technology will allow you to utilise the exact settings and

tones used by artists including Steve Vai, Gary Lucas and Brian Welch. There’s a huge selection available to download via the TC website, meaning you’ll never be short of fresh inspiration. BY JAMES DI FABRIZIO

HITS ∙ Versatile ∙ MASH technology makes for responsive, expressive playing MISSES ∙ Nothing


BIAS Delay Pedal LINK AUDIO | LINKAUDIO.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: PRO - $599, TWIN - $399 Delay is a crucial effect in so many ways. It can help place your guitar sound in a spatial context to help it sit within—or stand out from—a mix, or it can be used as a more overt, ear-catching effect. Alternatively you can go The Edge approach and use it as a rhythmic component of the riff itself. Positive Grid understands that your delay is what you make it, and that’s not just marketing speak (in fact, I just came up with that and I think I’ll hang onto it). BIAS Delay lets you actually design thousands of custom delay pedals from scratch. This pedal seamlessly integrates with BIAS Pedal Delay for mobile and desktop, and is ToneCloud-ready for sharing presets. In a way you can almost think of it as a hardware extension of all the wonderful sounds you cooked up on your digital devices. On the hardware side, there are digital, analogue, tape, space, swell, reverse and tremolo modes, plus three preset slots. There are knobs for mix, feedback, time, mod, depth and rate as well as a reverb control—a great addition because delay and reverb integrate so well with each other. There’s also a tempo subdivision switch between eighth notes, dotted eighths and eight note triplets. There are footswitches for three presets plus a tap tempo switch as well. Around


the back are stereo inputs and outputs, an expression pedal jack for real-time control of any parameter, a USB port, MIDI in-thru and a wireless button to connect with BIAS Pedal iPad via Bluetooth. BIAS Delay is completely workable as a standalone pedal: if you never plug it into a computer you can do a hell of a lot, from warm analogue delays to spacey-sounding modulated ones, and you can easily program and flip between presets. If you’ve always been a bit programming-shy, this is a very worthwhile pedal to own. Ah, but if you live for deep editing, this is going to flip you out. You can design your own custom delay pedal at component level, including things like saturation and analogue tone controls on the incoming signal, a virtual power source, and two graphic EQs to place at various points in the signal chain. Saturation and analoguetone controls add density and girth to the delay stage’s input signal. Adjust your pedal’s virtual power source to deliver 18 volts for a relaxed, supple sound, or six volts. Use the delay stage’s treble and bass controls to shape the tone of only the delay signal from bright to mid-range-y to bass-heavy. Two eight-band graphic EQs can also be placed at various points along the signal chain.

It’s insane just how deeply you can go into the editing stage and that’s where BIAS Delay is likely to find its biggest fans— those who really want to shape and define their own sound. BY PETER HODGSON

HITS ∙ Intuitive and easy to use software ∙ Huge scope for designing your own sounds ∙ Solid build MISSES ∙ None


visit Amber Technology at the Melbourne Guitar Show August 4-5, Stand 7-9

Distributed by Amber Technology Ltd 1800 251 367


BigHead HA-1 Headphone Amplifier EGM DISTRIBUTION | EGM.NET.AU | RRP: $395 A dedicated headphone amplifier is something that you don’t realise you need until you try a good one, and the Phil Jones Bass BigHead HA-1 is a perfect example of this. The hand-sized unit is well-built, battery-powered, sturdy, and simple to use. The box contains everything you need to hook it up to any size setup with an array of cables and different connectors. The HA-1 can be used in a few different ways, and it does all with ease, improving any signal path it’s inserted into. Such a simple unit would be hard to get wrong, but Phil Jones Bass hasn't stopped there. Opening the box reveals a sturdy, compact little unit, packaged in a protective felt bag. The headphone amplifier is powered by an internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery that lasts for eight hours and takes three hours to charge via the included USB cable. Power status is communicated via blue, green and red LEDs on the front face. The HA-1 doubles as a bass preamp and headphone amplifier with plenty of gain, and it features volume and bass/ treble controls that are set at 60Hz and 5kHz respectively. Setting up the amplifier in whichever way you want is easy and it's ready to go within minutes of opening the box. This feels like a solid, well-made,

set-and-forget kind of unit, and its clean, sleek looks make it a welcome addition to any set-up. The HA-1 is primarily a bass guitar preamp with headphone out. It’s compact, and would be great for practising before a gig, on the road, or at home where quiet practise is necessary. It also features an aux in for practise with another source. While using the unit for this purpose, I experienced some buzz when moving the HA-1 around, but unfortunately it doesn’t feature a ground lift switch. As the unit is a preamp, it can be used to record to your DAW of choice by using the balanced headphone out to your audio interface or mixer and again, all the cables you need are included. The preamp itself is clean and transparent, and the gain can offer some colour when really pushed, which can give some grit and life to a cleaner bass sound. This unit could easily be used to re-amp or mix any signal. The EQs are set at good frequencies, and any boost or cut can improve a signal. Finally, I used the HA-1 as a dedicated headphone amplifier from my audio interface, and even with all settings at 12 o’clock the headphone sound was greatly improved. A variety of mixes from different genres of music sounded more clear and

spacious, and the EQ controls could be used to make tweaks for a more pleasurable listening experience. The EQs maxed out either way can help reveal potential problems in a mix when monitoring through headphones. In the same context, the HA-1 could be inserted into a headphone signal chain when recording a musician who can’t get enough gain out of whatever headphone or monitoring set-up you’re already using. In addition to this, the HA-1 is battery powered so no extra power cables or adapters would be required. The BigHead HA-1 Headphone Amplifier would be a welcome addition to any setup - amateur, pro or bedroom musician. The HA-1 has a few functions and it does them all really well. Primarily it’s a bass preamp with headphone out, and an aux in for quiet practise, but this can easily become a clean,

transparent preamp to record to a DAW or mixer. Finally, it can be used as a dedicated headphone amp that can greatly improve signal from an existing headphone out or to provide extra gain when a loud signal is being recorded and monitoring is tough. The HA-1 is a one-stop-shop, and it’s open for business. BY LEWIS NOKE-EDWARDS HITS ∙ Compact ∙ Well built, solid ∙ Rechargeable & battery powered MISSES ∙ No ground lift


Natural Venus Cut/Electro Acoustic Guitar CMC MUSIC | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $1595 A lot can be said about a guitar with a single strum. With the Faith Venus Electro still ringing in my ears, it’s easy to see why they’ve won the UK’s Best Acoustic Guitar awards from 2012 to 2016. There’s beauty in simplicity – the Venus Electro particularly excels in this – and sincerity in consistency. The quality of construction sings excellence at the highest level, and when combined with the range of gorgeous tones available from the Venus Electro, you know you’ve got a winner. All this and much more awaits when the chrome locks on the brown leather case are snapped open, revealing the absolutely stunning guitar within. The Faith Venus Electro Natural series is part of a diverse range of customisation options that Faith Guitars offers. Being the first ever style available from Faith Guitars, the Natural series utilises a beautiful marriage of spruce and mahogany to produce sweet, honeyed tones with an emphasis on the midrange. A glossy sheet of high quality Engelmann spruce tops the Venus Electro, providing a dreamy contrast to the satin-finished Indonesian mahogany forming its back, sides, and neck. Additionally, the guitar is boldly accented by solid rosewood binding and


Macassan ebony for the fingerboard, bridge, headplate and heelcap. A mother of pearl ‘F’ at the 12th fret and a 5mm abalone rosette are the only discernible flourishes present, which direct the eyes towards the guitar’s subtle but exquisite wood grain patterns on both its body and fretboard. Quarter-sawn spruce neatly solidifies the infrastructure of the guitar in an X-brace design, and leaves plenty of room for the Fishman INK3 preamp with its under saddle pickup. The Venus Electro resonates wonderfully with good sustain, and delivers a tight low end bundled with crystal clear mids and highs. It responds well to both sweeping campfire strums and light fingerpicking, and is extremely playable out of the box. The neck plays smooth and is hardly noticeable in the hand. The gold Grover Rotomatic machine heads adorned with dark wooden

pegs hold tuning stability superbly and more than look their part in the entire package. The Venus Electro’s body shape looks to classic orchestral model guitar shapes for inspiration, and is remarkably comfortable when played sitting down or standing with a strap attached. The Fishman INK3 preamp and pickup bundled together with the Venus Electro is incredibly simple and intuitive. Controls include a three-band EQ, volume and backlit tuner, all of which serve to cover every players’ needs when in use. When plugged in, the Venus Electro’s voice is articulate and accurate, and adjusting the onboard controls on the fly is a walk in the park. The Faith Guitars Venus Electro Natural is a quality instrument that relies on honest craftsmanship and high quality tonewoods

to get its point across. There aren’t any fancy bells and whistles or flashy decals emblazoned onto its body or fretboard; it’s a guitar that takes pride in its countenance with no pretentiousness whatsoever, bringing the hands that play it to the front and centre. BY EDDY LIM HITS ∙ Excellent build quality ∙ Lovely tones both acoustically and plugged in ∙ Aesthetically gorgeous MISSES ∙ None


Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV FENDER MUSIC AUSTRALIA | FENDER.COM.AU | RRP: $1549 Even if you’ve never actually read Don Quixote I don’t imagine the blurb of Miguel Cervantes’ defining tome has escaped anyone; stately madman goes roaming the countryside on a hallucinatory quest accompanied by his donkey and faithful off-sider. What a strangely fitting metaphor for the relationship between a guitar player and their amp of choice. We are the lance-wielding maniacs off hunting imaginary dragons while dragging along humble wattage on whatever adventure we see fit. For the better part of a decade now I have had a Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 in tow as the Sancho Pança to my Man of La Mancha and it has yet to fail me in my battles against windmills. As 2018 sputtered into life like an old tractor, Fender unveiled the new and improved Hot Rod series, of which I respectfully introduce myself to its Deluxe IV 1x12. In the Fender building, the Hot Rod family’s door has long been the one to knock on when looking for a resolute workhorse amplifier. Their simple black tolex and aged silver grille cloth have been the image of stage-ready power and pedal-friendly humility since its debut, and the updated version IV is not about to buck that trend. Even in the 1x12 variation there is more than enough power, 40 watts to be exact, for just about any

situation, on stage or off. The EQ stage is as comfortable and flexible as it ever was, with an even more relaxed mid-range and chime behind the presence knob. One thing that has improved in leaps and bounds is the drive channel. Historically a little on the muddy side, there is a revived sense of chirp and clarity on tap here more so than in its predecessors, which is a definite tick in the right box. The spring reverb too has had a tweak; while older iterations tended towards the dry and dark, a pinch of smoothness and shimmering length brings it more in line with the tanks built into the back of Princeton or Deluxe Reverb amps. Having loved/flogged my Deville for such a long time I must admit I was sceptical upon learning about the updated version of this old favourite. My 4x10 has a well-worn-in sense of warmth, heft and sensitivity that for me feels like an old pair of jeans and I would shudder at the prospect of Fender fiddling with a winner for the sake of it. On the contrary, it seems like the oldest name in the game has done nothing but listen to the requests and advice of its pre-existing players in ironing out the remaining wrinkles in this already smooth garment. Straight away this Deluxe IV feels as familiar and ready to get to work as it does refreshed and reinvigorated. As soon as the standby switch was off I

could feel all the headroom I know and love, the clarity and bottomless clean tone that makes my guitars sing, and the sturdy trustworthiness I’ve come to rely on. In the end Quixote and Pança ride side by side into the sunset, having thwarted all the imaginary dragons they could find. With a whole line of new sidekicks ready to go out into the world, it is comforting to know that Fender’s Hot Rod Deluxe is as faithful as ever and as keen for adventure as they come.

BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Sturdy, lightweight and reliable with headroom for days MISSES ∙ None


Rock-Bass Corvette $$4 AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $1599 Where would the world of storytelling be without the humble bridge troll? That stumpy, much maligned antagonist whose sole purpose is to provide the privileged hero a stumbling stone in their road to everlasting grace is at once a source of almost universal disdain and indispensable fictional device. In spite of all the ugliness and trickery there is really only one wicked name to look up if you want dramatic upturn done right. They’ll probably hate me for saying this but I mean it as nothing less than a compliment. Warwick basses to me have many of the same traits as Rumplestiltskin and his ilk; far from beautiful, but irrepressibly and sincerely good at their job. The more I look at the curiously dubbed Corvette $$4, the more it morphs into a heavenly swan. That phallic upper horn riding high on a slim, tapered hip and that infamously lumpy headstock lose their sting once your eyes focus on the lush, matte charcoal body and its sensual revealing of the subtleties of wood grain beneath. This finish allows the ash construction a little breathing space and has a lovely, velveteen feel under your forearm. The maple underside is capped off expertly


with twin Ekanga veneer stripes down its length echoing the variegation in the wenge fingerboard nicely, while the evening dark, cat-hair nature of said fingerboard makes jewelleryof the nickel/silver polished frets. Enough about the way it looks. I have long thought of Warwick builds as exclusively beholden to hard rock due in part to my limited experience of bands who utilised them in the mid to late ‘90s. With memories of the entry level, root note thud of my own brief Grinspoon worship filed away in my long term memory, I was pleasantly surprised at the complex yet subtle warmth that emanated from this black snake once plugged in. In the neck position there is a

peculiar and enticing sense of directness to the low end that almost feels like a hint of compression balancing blanket warmth with mix-friendly clarity. The bridge pickup has none of the honky, nasal blast that many other modern builds fall foul of and is aided along by the same assuredness as its companion. Both active, humbucking pickups are anchored by push/pull pots, triggering either series or parallel wiring modes that further expand your tonal possibilities almost endlessly.

However, that powerful, gruff exterior belies the subtlety and dexterity within. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Unsuspected subtlety and tonal dexterity with a sleek matte finish MISSES ∙ All those lumps

Replete with 24, extra high jumbo frets, a super flat 20” fretboard radius and sleek, chrome hardware, the Corvette $$4 is, on the spec sheet, every bit the rock pig.


iD4 Audio Interface STUDIO CONNECTIONS | STUDIOCONNECTIONS.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $299 We’ve seen a few interesting interfaces from Audient over the past couple of years, always ticking all the boxes and delivering the goods on signal quality and ease of use. This month I got to have a whirl on another model from the Audient range – the iD4, an interface that originally had me thinking it might be something different compared to what it actually had on offer. No, this is not a four-input device. Instead, it’s a clever little solution for the guitarist who wants a simple way to get great quality audio recording. Most audio interfaces on the market are designed for a series of microphones or to be run with a mixer of some sort. The team at Audient knows this and they make different models to suit these needs. But they also recognise that there are plenty of guitarists out there who want a simple, yet high quality, audio recording option. Enter the iD4, a two-input interface that has the discerning guitarist in mind. The first input is offered on a combination XLR/TRS connector and accepts microphone or line level signals, allowing vocals to be taken care of as well as a microphone in front of a guitar cabinet. The second input is located on the front panel of the unit for easy access and comes in the way of a Hi-Z DI input for running guitars and basses directly into a separate channel. This

means you don’t need to fiddle around on the rear of the device every time you want to plug your guitar in, and you don’t need to worry about matching the impedance with a line level input. Acoustic or electric guitars simply plug right into the front and you’re ready to record. The top panel is pretty self-explanatory and makes it very easy to work with your signals going in and out. There is a separate gain control for the microphone input and the DI, and a balance control between the input signal and that coming back from the computer. A clever mute button is included to shut off the speakers when recording overdubs, and an Audient ID button is also included. This is a treat to use as it allows the large volume knob to act as a rotary encoder and change the value of whatever function your mouse is currently hovering over in your software. This makes it really easy to get a quick, hands-on feel for editing certain parameters of effects and plugins. The overall look, feel and operation of this unit makes it very easy to record yourself and not feel like you’re chained to a computer keyboard. Best of all, the Audient AD conversion gives you amazing 24 bit/96kHz audio quality that will allow every penny you spent building your guitar setup to be heard in your recordings.

On top of that, you get a selection of Eventide plugins and Cubase LE9 software bundled with the unit, so you can make great sounding music with quality audio conversion right out of the box. BY ROB GEE

HITS ∙ Dedicated microphone and guitar inputs ∙ Two sizes of headphone output jacks ∙ Clever DAW control with the ID button MISSES ∙ None to report here


iRig Stomp I/O SOUND & MUSIC | SOUND-MUSIC.COM EXPECT TO PAY: $589 Of course, you’re all aware of the machine that is the IK Multimedia iRig revolution. Those Italian designers keep coming up with bigger and better ways to integrate the guitar with mobile devices for use in both the home and live performance environment. When the first iRig Stomp came out, it offered guitarists a rugged pedal housing for the somewhat delicate iRig interface. This has grown through several generations to the latest and greatest device in the iRig Stomp I/O. This is IK Multimedia’s foray into the multi-effects pedalboard, but it retains all of the benefits and ingenuity of the iRig concept as well. It’s a ‘best of both worlds’ concept that works for jamming, recording, live performance or just playing around at home. The biggest limitation with the original iRig was that you had no foot control for playing live and as such, you were essentially locked into using one sound in a song. Later versions improved with the ability to switch effects on and off with a foot pedal, but never really gave the user full control – until now. The iRig Stomp I/O is designed to make IK Multimedia’s Amplitude software a very real contender in the live music and studio market. It’s built with the musician in mind, with a solidly constructed frame and


an easy interface for accessing sounds. With the new Live mode in Amplitude, you can operate the software in a number of ways to best suit your needs. Your iPad will slot into the groove on the board, making it easily visible whilst playing, so you can see what effects are being used at any time. With Live mode engaged, the display changes to ensure it’s easy to see what’s happening even when standing away from the unit. The device allows you to control just about any parameter in Amplitude and set up your sounds as you like. You can use it to browse through various rig setups if you prefer to have all your sounds built beforehand or you can use the four buttons to turn individual effects on and off,

just as you would on a pedalboard with the real pedals. It’s easy to move effects around in the signal chain and store your settings, and if you want, you can use the expression pedal – or another two of your own if connected to the device – to change any parameter on any pedal in real time. This gets a little crazy when you assign the expression to a delay time and ride that pedal through time changes, but it can be used for some clever effects too. As a MIDI controller, it can also operate the software on Mac or PC computers, and can even be used as a standalone controller for other MIDI-controllable effects pedals. The only downside is that the Android crowd get left out on this unit for the moment. We can only hope that as the product develops,

there will be support for the ‘other’ tablet users of the world. Some of them play guitar, too. BY ROB GEE HITS ∙ Rugged build ∙ Works in standalone mode for those who don’t want to rely on a device ∙ Great range of effects MISSES ∙ Sadly, the Android users get left out in the dark again


G260DX Electric Guitar DYNAMIC MUSIC | DYNAMICMUSIC.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: $599 Cort’s G series of electric guitars has undergone somewhat of a revamp, further refining their specs and looks. As a nice priced double cutaway guitar, they sit in the affordable entry/mid level bracket with some additional appointments to add some extra tweaks into the mix. Cort have always been popular for their value for money instruments—let’s see if the Sea Foam coloured G260DX keeps the trend going. One of nine different models in the G series, the G260DX takes a somewhat traditional look and adds some modern touches. The double cut body shape is made from Swamp Ash and has a little more curviness in the bottom of the guitar compared to your standard F shape. Cort have gone for the jack positioning on the edge of the guitar rather than top mounted and the big difference is the contoured neck/heel joint. Both the body and neck joint are countered/bevelled to create a smoother transition between the two, making upper fret excursions easier. Neck-wise, the guitar utilises Canadian hard maple and either rosewood or the sustainable Jatoba for the fingerboard. Frets are medium jumbo, pickup configuration is HSS with a five-way switch and volume and tone controls. You’ll no

doubt also notice the bridge which is Cort’s own CFA-III tremolo featuring stainless steel saddles, a steel plate and steel block. First up the neck on the G260DX feels great. Slender but with some body to it and the cut and finish is spot on with no marks or blemishes. Bonus points for the good intonation and setup too—no sharp fret edges and the guitar seems to hold its tuning nicely after some solid bashing. Seriously, it’s an easy guitar to play and feels as good if not better than a lot of much higher priced axes. Another in-house design is that the pickups are ‘Voiced Tone’ with a 59 model humbucker in the bridge and a 63 in the middle and neck positions. All three-pickups seemed clear and usable to my ears with the humbucker adding some

extra bite and body, as most people like in the bridge position. The neck and middle can do all the ‘S’ type tones you’d expect for clean, round glassy tones or the funkier quack in split positions. All up it’s a sweet playing guitar that doesn’t cost a lot of money. The bridge feels great and the neck heel joint is a nice tweak. Lastly - Sea Foam green is super cool, but there’s also Tobacco Burst if that’s more your thing.

HITS ∙ Some modern touches on a classic styled guitar ∙ Bridge is smooth and reliable MISSES ∙ No gigbag or case included



Powercab 112 and Powercab 112 Plus YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | AU.YAMAHA.COM EXPECT TO PAY: 112 - $119, 112P - $1599 Line 6 take their modeling very seriously. The Helix (and original POD) offer amps, cabs and effects tones to use in the studio and on stage to give you a huge sonic palette with a myriad of tweaking options. Further developing this concept, Line 6 has introduced the Powercab range of active guitar cabinets designed as a live sound reinforcement device. Yes, it takes on the FRFR ethos that many modelers utilise, but it also incorporates specific cab sounds for added tonal flexibility. Going the more traditional look, the Powercab has a cool combo/small cab look to it as opposed to the PA speaker look that many modelers use. Grabbing it out of the box, I was surprised at how light it was – great for those sick of lugging big rigs. Housing a 12” speaker designed in collaboration with Eminence and a 1” high compression driver made by Celestion, the Powercab already has some street cred on its side. Rated at 250 watts, all the connectivity is on the back panel. There are some variations between the Powercab and the Powercab Plus with the latter having additional inputs and a USB interface. Otherwise essentially you get combo XLR/ TRS inputs, an XLR out, MIDI in and out/ thru, ground and low cut switches, power


switch and Line 6 Link/AES in and out jacks. The standard Powercab has a push button to cycle through the speaker emulation options, which are colour coded for easy reference, whilst the top of the Powercab Plus then features a volume knob, home button, backlit display, save button and select knob. This makes it so easy to get started, you can really just plug your Helix in and crank it up as a starting point. In ‘Flat’ mode the speaker emulation is disabled and you get a clean and clear representation of your modeler tones. This is great for reproducing your finely tweaked sounds, but can also be quite confronting at first as it really exposes those sounds you’ve been crafting at home. In the long run I feel this is a good thing as it just means you’ll get exactly the sounds you’ve been looking for – especially with all the effort put into modeling/profiling classic guitar tones. Line 6’s angle with the Powercab is then the speaker emulations which offer vintage, green, cream, jarvis, bayou, essex and Hf off models. The idea now is that you can add some cab emulations to your tones for even more shaping. Line 6 has covered most of the typical speaker faves here too with clean, sparkly F type sounds, rock tones, chimey brite sounds and some American

sizzle. All of these can be accessed quickly on the Powercab’s top panel and saved as presets or easily scrolled through on the standard Powercab. Of course there’s great connectivity when combined with a Line 6 Helix. FRFR mode is great for your modeler tones, with the feel and look of a 112 cab. Add in the speaker emulations and you could tweak 'til the cows come home to really hone in your favourite presets.

HITS ∙ Traditional cab looks with modern functionality ∙ Lightweight and portable ∙ Two models adds choice of features MISSES ∙ Price may exclude some punters


Evolving with you. With a sleek new user interface, a generously expanded switching bandwidth and higher RF output power for the 500 Series, and new multi-channel functionality for the 100 Series, G4 delivers high-quality, reliable audio for musical performances, houses of worship, and theaters.


Quintessence Harmony Pedal AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $319 Just when you thought every possible avenue of weirdness and tone bending had been explored, along come the Scandinavians. There must be something in the water along the northern European coast that makes its inhabitants relentless explorers. From Viking invaders up through renaissance upheaval to the boundless creativity of modern design, there is no frontier too intimidating for these powerful minds to cross. TC Electronic has been to the music world what The Bauhaus was to furniture design, consistently turning preexisting thought on its head to see what else they can come up with. Their takes on classic distortion and delay sounds are concurrently more interesting and subtle than ever before, and it doesn’t end there. In their newest stompbox, the Quintessence Harmony Pedal, TC Electronic have found a way to stretch the outer reaches of pitch shifting technology in such a way as to leave just about every other iteration in the dust. The bane of most musicians’ existence is the seemingly endless monotony of learning scales and modes. Practical as they are, these variations on the notational theme are not only tedious to learn by rote, but they run into each other like watercolours on cheap paper in the minds of many. Compositionally, however, they are indispensable insomuch as they lift music,

particularly solos, out of the pentatonic doldrums. This is where Quintessence steps in. There is a dial to choose the key you’re playing in, a switch to send it sharp, another dial to select from eight different modal presets, and yet another to find the interval your harmony lands on. Dial in your dry signal over the top and you have instant Iron Maiden solos in any and every key, scale, and interval imaginable. Never ones to down tools once the first job is done, TC make this pedal all the more ultimate by offering a momentary/latching switch as well as their new favourite toy (and the real jewel in their horned crown), their patented MASH technology behind the footswitch. When I first started playing around with Quintessence, I struggled to latch onto a practical application outside of the obvious. Harmonised solos aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea these days, and I thought maybe this limited the device to a studio or compositional tool. In my exploration, however, I happened to lean heavy on the footswitch and heard the minor 5th I was fiddling with sail up a step relative to the pressure I applied with my foot. This is where this pedal really comes to life. MASH allows you to use your lean like you would with an expression pedal; heave on your pivot foot while the effect is engaged, and the harmony bends like a

pedal steel guitar would. It is quite sensitive in an intuitive and useful way, and takes the guesswork out of bending through the aforementioned troublesome scales and modes. Working in conjunction with the limitless possibilities that Tone Print opens up in TC’s designs, and there is definitely space on most players’ pedalboards for something this clever. If you’ve ever felt stuck in the bog of boring melody and longed for a world full of chromaticism, then TC Electronics’ Quintessence is the pedal for you. Far from being a one trick pony like some simpler, octave based shifters, this is a quick and

easy way into a world of virtuosic colour and tunefulness. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ Covers any and every scale, mode, and interval you could possibly find useful MISSES ∙ A little digital in the tracking department; it couldn’t keep up with unusual chord shapes


iRig Acoustic Stage SOUND & MUSIC | SOUND-MUSIC.COM | EXPECT TO PAY: $520 I’m not sure if many of you remember when IK Multimedia first launched the humble iRig, but it opened the world up to iOS and later Android integration for guitar players. It was a fairly simple device, but so clever in design. Since it was readily taken up by more users around the world than anyone would have expected, we have seen the development of iRig products continue to grow into areas we wouldn’t have predicted. With stands, clips, microphones, and computer interfaces, there is very little IK Multimedia doesn’t offer the musician in the iRig range. Now, they have given acoustic guitar players the opportunity to simply and effectively amplify their instrument on stage with their clever new device, the iRig Acoustic Stage. Many people find that the guitar they would like to use for a live performance doesn’t have a built-in pickup and preamp system. This results in the quandary of whether to have a pickup installed, which can be costly and can change the feel and sound of the instrument, or whether to consider purchasing a new guitar. IK has now made it easy to amplify any acoustic guitar without permanently modifying the instrument and without expensive installations. The iRig Acoustic Stage takes the already well-received iRig Acoustic pickup and


pairs it with a belt-worn preamp system to generate the best sound from a little unit. The pickup clips onto the edge of the instrument’s sound hole, making installation a breeze. Best of all, it works with both steel and nylon string guitars, and doesn’t suffer the limitations of most magnetic sound hole pickups. The pickup is then connected to the belt pack to allow you to control the sound in the preamplifier stage. This can then be connected to your guitar amp or mixer with a normal 6.5mm instrument cable. This nifty little system comes bundled in a compact carry case along with the connecting cable and belt clip and space for spare batteries, so it can live in your guitar case or bag and always be ready for use if you need it. What the belt pack offers is quite cool. Rather than just the typical three-band EQ that is found in most guitar preamps, you get a number of options to bring your guitar to life. To start with, there is a feedback cancellation button that engages a fairly precise notch filter to calm down any wayward frequencies, while not overly affecting the tone of the guitar. Then, you have a number of preset tone options to change how your guitar sounds. Simply flick through each one, strum a few chords, and you’ll know which setting works best with your guitar. On top of all this, the system

works as an audio interface for both mobile and desktop devices, so you can use it to record your instrument as well as using it for live performances. BY ROB GEE

HITS ∙ Clever concept ∙ Doesn’t permanently modify your guitar ∙ Works with nylon and steel string instruments MISSES ∙ Doesn’t quite match up to some inbuilt preamp systems


Limited Edition 20th Anniversary CTM-30/CTM 112T PRO MUSIC AUSTRALIA | PROMUSICAUSTRALIA.COM EXPECT TO PAY: CTM30 - $1799, CTM112T - $799 Ashdown was founded in 1997 by former Trace Elliot chief engineer and managing director Mark Gooday, and you can tell from a glance that he’s really put his heart and soul into the brand, from the car-inspired logo to the fact that the company uses his wife’s family name. When you have something that special to you, you’re going to want to celebrate those special round-number anniversaries, right? In celebration of two decades, Ashdown is producing this Limited Edition 20th Anniversary CTM-30 Head and CTM 112T cabinet in matching tweed. Each amp is hand built in Ashdown’s UK Custom Shop, and comes tested with a hand-signed label by Mark Gooday. The CTM range is inspired by classic tube heads with a 30 watt EL84 power section, ECC83 and ECC82 preamp tubes, and high and low inputs for use with passive and active basses. (The line used to be called the Little Bastard in honour of James Dean’s Porsche, but Ashdown kept running into uncool folks who weren’t into the name). The control layout seems pretty simple – bass, middle, treble and master, plus Ashdown’s super-cool-if-not-downrighticonic VU output meter – but look closer and you’ll see there’s more going on, with

switches for mid shift, bass shift and bright for further tone-shaping, plus a mute switch for when you need to shut the hell up for some reason. There’s also an effects send and return on the control face rather than around the back, and a balanced DI for studio recording or larger gigs. The matching cabinet is also handmade in the UK from the finest Birch Ply, and it has a custom Blue Line driver, bass frequency port and Speakon/jack connectors. It has protective metal corners, high-quality recessed steel side handles and a black cloth grille – and of course that sexy tweed. The real genius of the CTM circuit is that it’s not a radically complicated design. The controls will change your sound enough to emphasise certain frequencies or rein back others, but it’s not one of those amps that can send you off the road and into a ditch the second you twist a knob by a quarter-turn. The bass shift switch adds more fullness to the low end, but it’s more felt than heard. The mid shift gives you more poke and grunt in this crucial frequency range, but it’s more of a low-mid growl rather than an upper-mid honk, and the treble shift adds more air and detail to the top end, but not to a shrill extent. Of course, being a

valve amp you’re going to get lots of great overtones as you turn it up. It’s a very loud amp though, so be prepared to rattle some teeth. There are other Ashdown amps like the CTM-15 with a similar circuit that add a gain control if you really want to get some growl going at lower levels. This isn’t a subtle amp, especially once you get it to stage volume. And although it’s a limited collector piece, it’s made to be played. It seems it’s happiest with passive basses, where the frequencies really seem to punch and whomp, so it’s great for punk, rock, blues, vintage Sabbath – tones where you really need a full low end and a bit

of harmonic girth rather than hi-fi snap, crackle and pop. BY PETER HODGSON HITS ∙ Distinctively well-voiced, if not mega tone-sculpty ∙ Handy front-mounted effects loop ∙ Everything sounds better when it’s tweed MISSES ∙ No gain control


JVB Tuner 500 JVB STRINGS | JVBSTRINGS.COM | EXPECT TO PAY: $19.99 Where would guitar players be without the humble ‘starter pack’? I remember being 11 or 12 years old, wandering into the local music retailer and gawking like a noob at the seemingly limitless racks of axes. Having only taken up playing (read: hacking away at ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ ad infinitum) less than a year prior, the majority of these dream machines were as vastly out of my price range as they were my skill set. At the very top of the aisle, however, sat several ubiquitous, irregular trapezoidal boxes that housed everything a young player could ever need to instantly metamorphose into Kurt Cobain; that is until the idea of a pedalboard taps your shoulder. Alongside the cheaply made Strat copy comes the first battalion, light infantry of rock: the padded gig bag, nylon strap and of course, the everimportant tuner. Models like Boss’ TU-1, or as it’s more commonly known ‘the long, grey one’, set the standard early on but everyone’s first foray into intonation still populates the vast majority of music-room-desk drawers to this day. JVB has long been the most trusted name in home grown accessories. Their strings especially are renowned for being the more affordable, yet just as reliable alternative to bigger, overseas brands. With that same sense


of trustworthiness comes their TMT 500 3-in-1 Digital Tuner, tone generator and metronome. ‘Yeah yeah, we get it. It’s a tuner,’ I hear you cry and well that may be, but JVB has been kind enough to pepper this unit with some newer demands that the market makes of such a humble contraption. Switch between guitar or bass settings depending on your clef of choice and you’ll find the response time and pitch read as accurate as ever. It has purveyors of more obscure instruments, like mandolin, banjo or anything that sings around between 430 and 450Hz, covered too with its chromatic function and, for the more old school player who trusts nothing but your ear and a pitch pipe, it has an inbuilt tone generator primed to play any sine wave you can stand to listen to. The metronome, too, has just about every time signature, swing pattern and tempo covered so there’s no limit to what you can practice with TMT 500 as your partner. The fact that it comes with an earpiece for late night practice and headstock clip capability only sweetens the deal in a clever new way. The reason tuners like this are included in beginners’ packages in the first place is a twofold gift. Not only are they reasonably cheap to manufacture, but they also set

you off on the right foot straight out of the gate. No guitarist is impervious to the perils of playing out of tune and/or out of time so including a tool for sharpening that skillset is imperative. JVB condense that lesson into one tidy, soft-feel little package here with a few modern updates thrown in to make the experience even easier. BY LUKE SHIELDS

HITS ∙ Compact ∙ Affordable ∙ Reliable MISSES ∙ Not sturdy enough for stage application. A little slow on the pitch uptake


Player Series Telecaster FENDER MUSIC AUSTRALIA FENDER.COM.AU | RRP: $1149 Let’s use much loved ‘90s cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an analogy for a moment. Imagine Leo Fender’s famed Stratocaster is Leonardo, a wise leader, the oldest of the crew and ready, willing and able to take any situation in stride. That would make his Telecaster the equivalent to Raphael—an emotionally raw, younger upstart with as much anti-authoritarian angst as it has a tendency towards its softer side. Leo himself then becomes Master Splinter and a certain other rival builder with evil robotic attachments, The Shredder, but I digress. Since their inception, the two at the top of every Fender catalogue have always had that hand-in-hand yet push/pull relationship. Even as individual as they are, you rarely think of one without thinking of the other. As I have explored elsewhere in this issue, Fender has taken aim at its entry point as the next in line for the continuing spring clean of its entire line up. Replacing the old Standard models, the Player Series makes a blind comparison of American and Mexican builds next to impossible. The Player’s Telecaster bolts a 22-fret neck and either maple or Pau Ferro fretboard into a choice alder body with a newly ‘F’

stamped neck plate. The particular beast that I held purring in my hands was as butterscotch blonde as the cover of a Springsteen record, just as I’d hoped, and with its three-ply black pickguard it is just as classic. I have had the distinct fortune of taking in just about every colour in this new branch of the family tree and I must admit that choosing between this and its black-on-black brother is the kind of thing that keeps a kid up at night. As with the Strat, and indeed the entire line, the pickups are voiced much closer to their northern counterpart. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the unmistakable chiming nature of the lipstick pickups in the neck position. It is incredibly responsive to the nuances you conjure with your pick hand, almost to the point

of leaning back with you in your more delicate moments. Back at the bridge and there is just about enough punch and raucousness to wake up Joe Strummer without the harsh, ice pick sharpness that fader jockeys love to dial out. That amount of characteristic tonality coupled with the minor yet imperative adjustments to the spec sheet make the thing feel bigger and more alive in your hands. It might be psychosomatic, but the impact on the personality of the guitar has a direct connection to the way you approach playing it. Both you and your guitar will play up to each other in a new and inspiring way.

the limitations you’d expect from the price point. It has all the personality and tonality of an American build and is just as full of songs. All I need to do now is figure out which one is Donatello and which is Michelangelo. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS ∙ More Tele than the price point would have you believe MISSES ∙ None

Much like its Stratocaster counterpart, the Player Series Telecaster is more of what you deserve from that name without


CS6 Pedal Power Supply EGM DISTRIBUTION | EGM.NET.AU | RRP: $289 Most guitarists will have used or seen the classic 1 Spot power supply with its streamlined plug that doesn’t hog a power point. For years Truetone let the 1 Spot solely rule their power supply offerings until they saw a need for extra isolation, function and flexibility thanks to the changing landscape of new pedals on the market. This led to the well received CS7 and CS12 power supplies, which can be seen on boards the world over. Extending their wares even further, Truetone have released the CS6 sporting six outlets in a low profile casing. Is size really that big of an issue/selling point/marketing slant? A big yes from myself, and many others I think. Guitarists agonise over pedalboard decisions and pour lots of dollars into trying the latest and greatest or rare stompbox. It’s then fitting that they use a high quality power supply that provides the correct power in a clean and noise-free manner, which isn’t always the case. Six outlets are on offer providing switchable options from nine,12 and 18 volts at 100, 200 and 500mA. These are set via the easy-to-access DIP switches and the unit is powered by your typical IEC cable. While the size in terms of both length and width is smallish, the height of the CS6 is only about 3cms. This gives you options for mounting underneath many boards as well as mounting on your board with the ability

for the CS6 to act as a riser. Truetone also include a cardboard template with clear ‘drill here’ markings for those that want to mount the CS6, making it easy to get your pedalboard underway. Truetone really have hit the mark with their range of power supplies over the last few years and the CS6 is no exception. The options of nine, 12 and 18 volts at anywhere from 100 to 500mA covers a lot of ground and the included converter plugs can hook up a whole lot more if needed. The switching voltage input lets you travel with ease, and of course the CS6’s size and form factor will impress many that have limited pedalboard space and/or specific size requirements. It’s been said before but I’ll say it again now—if you’ve spent a heap of money on pedals and/or putting a pedalboard together, why would you skimp on powering it with a cruddy power supply? Size, reliability, noise-free–or at least much quieter operation–voltage options for the price of perhaps one or two pedals. It’s really an easy answer—and with a great range of units on offer and plenty of pros and amateurs alike sporting them, you should definitely check out Truetone.

HITS ∙ Tough ∙ Smaller size ∙ Plenty of power options MISSES ∙ None




FRFR-112 Cabinet ELECTRIC FACTORY | ELFA.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $599 HeadRush jumped into the market a few years back as a serious competitor in the digital modeling effects market with its popular HeadRush Pedalboard. Utilising technology from Avid’s Eleven Rack, and indeed some of the personnel behind the unit, the pedalboard can be used for both live and studio work giving you tons of sounds, parameters and processing. The usability factor is great with these type of units as you can plug directly into a preamp or DAW for recording, or FOH system or power amp for live use. While this offers plenty of I/O options one scenario is often missing for live guitarists—the feeling and sound of having an amp on stage. Yes, foldback or in-ears can work, but that’s also dependant on the engineer/type of foldback/in-ears and can be very different depending on the gig. Enter FRFR (Full Range, Flat Response): cabs intended to handle the nuances of your modeler in live settings. Of course you can use the HeadRush pedalboard with a normal tube or solid state amp. The idea with FRFR is that it gives you increased fidelity and frequency range with a flat response to maximise all those sounds you’ve spent hours programming. Looking very much like a PA speaker, the HeadRush FRFR has a useful handle recess on the top edge

meaning you can grab it out of the car or move it at a gig fairly easily. Rated at 2000 watts, it contains a 12” woofer and 3” high frequency driver with a tilt back design to sit on the ground like a conventional wedge, upright if you wanted to sit something on top of it and even pole mounted like a PA speaker. The rear panel is very straight ahead with two XLR inputs and volume controls, an XLR output if you wanted to run the cab into another FRFR, a ground switch and a contour switch which has a programmed +3dB low and high emphasis if you need some help cutting through the mix. A power button is located at the bottom of the back panel, otherwise it’s as easy as plug and play. The HeadRush FRFR cab looks slick—like a modern PA speaker with a cool HeadRush logo plate on the front grille and the 2000 watt rating gives you plenty of headroom. I found the cab to be clean and pristine, which is really what you want when running a modeler. The issue here is then if there’s something you don’t like, it's actually your patch setting—realistically not the cab, as it’s just reproducing the tone you’ve programmed. The beauty of this is that you can really tweak your sounds and get them fully honed in. To add some space and warmth you might have to add some mids and verb on your patch to really give some

vintage body to your tone, and of course the HeadRush FRFR can handle it with aplomb. Likewise, to really get your brutal chuggah tones happening you might really have to dig into the EQ settings on your modeler to recreate the serious scooping or notching of certain frequencies. Never fear, the HeadRush FRFR seemingly handles it all, is built tough and is a worthy match for the HeadRush Pedalboard.

HITS ∙ Clean and clear with plenty of headroom ∙ Cab design offers setup flexibility MISSES ∙ None



G2m MIDI Converter and i2M Musicport INNOVATIVE MUSIC INNOVATIVEMUSIC.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: G2M - $119, I2M - $149 UK-based developers Sonuus have developed a name for themselves in providing unique music devices in a market that seems to be awash with ‘me too’ products. In fact, if you ever have one of those, “I wonder if I can do that?” moments, the team at Sonuus has probably already thought about it and come up with a device to help you achieve your sound. That’s why I was pleased to see these two boxes land on my desk this month. The G2M and i2M are reminiscent of the older days of MIDI conversion and thru boxes where all manner of possibilities could be achieved with the addition of a clever little box to your signal chain. These two, however, offer something rather different to a conventional thru box. They are very much worth having a look at. G2M Universal MIDI Converter This device is one of those little boxes of magic that can really change how you look at your guitar setup. The G2M is small enough to slip into your signal chain and make the most of what it offers on the side. The through port means you can still


run your analogue guitar signal to your pedals and amp, but the sidechain output is where it gets really exciting. The five-pin DIN connection sends MIDI note data from what you play on your guitar, bass, wind instrument or even a banjo with an audio pickup. It captures the note data on its way through and sends it out for use with a keyboard or synth engine of your choosing, generating pretty smart tracking results too. This is only a monophonic conversion for individual notes, not chords, but it allows you to really expand your sonic capabilities and bring all sorts of new life to your guitar or banjo–playing. i2M MUSICPORT The smaller of these two devices has a

whole lot to offer, such as CD-quality audio conversion for a high impedance signal like a guitar or bass, ready to run into any DAW. Plus, it offers audio to MIDI conversion for both guitar and bass in a variety of modes. This is a true ‘plug and play’ device, with drivers sorting themselves out in moments. It’s easy to set the mode for MIDI data capture depending on what you are doing, and tracks fairly well for single note playing. Of course, like the G2M, it tracks monophonic MIDI notes and doesn’t chart out your chords for you. If you want that, you’ll need a divided MIDI pickup on your guitar to separate each and every note within a chord. With that said, what the i2M offers is amazing. All USB-powered and compact enough to live on your keyring,

this is the take-anywhere USB audio and MIDI interface for guitarists. BY ROB GEE HITS ∙ Simple and cost effective audio to MIDI data for guitarists ∙ Compact, go-anywhere units ∙ Fast monophonic tracking MISSES ∙ They turned up 20 years later than I would have liked


BIAS Distortion Pro Pedal LINK AUDIO | LINKAUDIO.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: TWIN - $399, PRO - $599 Starting with software-based apps, Positive Grid has gone onto now producing amplifiers (both heads and rack mounted), pedals and software with a serious knack for innovation and expanding their tech work. Whilst their modeling and virtual rigs have gained huge momentum, their slightly more traditional pedals have proven popular to boot. Looking reasonably traditional at first glance, I’m sure the Distortion Pro pedal has a little something extra in store. Let’s take a look. Arriving in a sophisticated black and gold casing, the Bias Distortion looks quite understated with a row of four footswitches across the bottom (marked A, B, C, and Boost). Above are controls for Gain, Blend, Level, Low, Mid, High and Boost, with an additional switch to flick between Treble, Clean and Fat (pertaining to the Boost function). Lastly, to the left is another rotary control with ten settings – (user 1, 2 and 3 and then Boost, Tube, Screamer, Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz and Metal). In terms of connectivity, the back panel has I/O consisting of Input, Output, Expression Pedal, USB, MIDI In and Thru, and a power socket for 9VDC. The whole unit feels sturdy and tough, and I’m sure it would stand up to plenty of gigging. Out of the box, the presets produce a wide range of usable classic guitar tones –

clean with some oomph, slight break up, TS-ish, and then heavier chug. From this perspective it would be easy to incorporate the Bias Distortion as a dirt pedal in your rig, with the added benefit of presets and an additional boost. If you want to dig deeper, you can really get into your own tones. You can connect to the Positive Grid app and create your own sounds, control program changes, tone match and generally get pretty darn deep into things. Of course, these can be saved into your presets and the unit has plenty of MIDI capabilities too. I could muster plenty of usable sounds, and the Blend control is really useful for mixing the ratio of the output stage. I could see the Positive Bias Distortion Pro being a sole gain stage for live rigs, incorporated into existing setups (with the added capabilities of switching and control) and utilised in the studio again as a standalone or with online connectivity. The virtual guitar rig and modeling phenomenon rolls on, and with innovative companies such as Positve Grid continuing to push ahead, there seems to be plenty of cool stuff to look forward to. You can seriously get in deep with the Distortion Pro if that’s your thing, or just plug in, spin some dials and wail away. Cool indeed.

HITS ∙ Both straightforward controls and deep editing ∙ Usable tones, responsive parameters MISSES ∙ Some of the serious editing might seem a little overwhelming at first



Retro Vintage Chestnut Bay Guitar Strap EGM DISTRIBUTION | EGM.NET.AU | RRP: $86 At some stage in your guitar playing career you are going to need to stand up to play and/or use a strap. As humble and innocent as the guitar strap may seem, they are of course not all created equal. There are many variations in material, size, width, length, looks, fastening mechanisms and more with the latter being one of the main innovations in the world of guitar strappage. Numerous companies offer locking type straps and attachments that can involve anything from modifying your instrument to installing locks and clips. Hailing from the US, Lock-It straps offer a solution that gives you locking peace of mind without the need for altering your guitar. Taking the snap-into-place styled locks, ‘Lock-It’ has utilised a mechanism that creates an additional hold over your existing guitar strap pin that doesn’t need modifying and is in fact concealed in the ends of the strap. From a distance these look like your typical strap ends and they use leather, which is a nice touch. Easy to install, the strap is pulled over your strap pin as normal with the thumb button pulled up. Once the thumb button is released a snug tight fit is created with the downward weight of the guitar, and the beauty is how the locking mechanism


slides into place when released, offering a second layer of protection. As mentioned, the whole design is hidden inside the end, which only has slightly more bulk to it compared to normal strap ends. You’d be hard pressed to notice any difference at a glance. Locking mechanism aside, this particular model of Lock-It is from the Retro Vintage line. Named the Chestnut Bay, it’s got a slightly hippy, floral feel with hints of red and greeny yellow gold. Adjustable between 36” and 60”, it’s got most players covered and there are another 11 models in the retro range if you want to explore other colour options. Add in Polypro, Cotton, Bob Masse (as in the famed concert poster designer) and Leather and you’ve got plenty more offerings to check out. In use the Lock-It pops on just about as easily as a standard, non-locking strap and really just feels comfy and normal, in a good way. It doesn’t feel like you’ve just connected yourself to a hi-tech protective device or some bulky design that almost feels more of a hindrance than a help. I tried it on a number of guitars with different strap pins and had no problems. I’m sure there might be some random guitars that might take a little bit of elbow grease to adjust to, but on the whole it really seems like a universal

solution that doesn’t take much work to get happening. A great design that will still please the traditionalists. BY NICK BROWN doesn’t take much work to get happening. A great design that will still please the traditionalists. BY NICK BROWN

HITS ∙ Quick and easy to use ∙ No modifications needed ∙ Good range of models/looks MISSES ∙ None





A | 8/2 Northey Rd, Lynbrook VIC P | (03) 8787 8599 E | W | /evolutionmusicaus

A | 4/2181 Princes Hwy, Clayton VIC P | (03) 9546 0188 E | W | /skymusiconline

A | 1-5 Perry Street, Collingwood, VIC P | (03) 9417 5185 E | W | / dangerfork

(Recording Studios) A | 230 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW P | (02) 9331 0666 E | W | /damiengerardstudios





A | 84 Nicholson St, Abbotsford VIC P | (03) 9416 2133 E | W | /AADuplicationServices

A | 102 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood VIC P | (03) 9870 4143 E | W | /fivestarmusicoz

A | 2065 Dandenong Road, Clayton VIC P | (03) 9545 5152 E | W | /TheAudioExpertsAus

(Screenprinting, Embroidery & Promotional Products) A | Unit 22/7 Lyn Parade, Prestons, NSW P | 0423 740 733 E | W | /MakeMerchandise





A | 1131 Burke Rd, Kew VIC P | (03) 9817 7000 E | W | /Eastgatemusic

A | 87-91 Arden Street, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 9329 2877 E | W | /newmarketstudios

A | 311 High Street, Kew VIC P | (03) 9853 8318 E | W | /kewlearnmusic

(Music Technology & Instruments Retailer) A | Suite G05, 15 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW P | (02) 8213 0202 W | /dsoundseasy













(Music Instruments Retailer)

(Printing/CD & DVD Duplication)

(Music Instruments Retailer)

(Headphone Specialist Retailer) A | Shop 2 398 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 9670 8231 E | W | /jabenau

(Rehearsal Rooms) A | 18 Duffy Street, Burwood VIC P | (03) 9038 8101 E | W | /hydra.rehearsal.studios

(Music Lessons) A | 10 Floriston Road, Boronia VIC 7 Sahra Grove, Carrum Downs VIC P | 0421 705 150 E | W | /easternsuburbsschoolofmusic

(Music Instruments Retailer)

(Music Instruments Retailer)

(Music Production Studio)

(Vinyl and Record Specialist) A | 405 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC P | (03) 9419 5070 A | 128 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC P | (03) 9448 8635 E | W | /vinylrevivalmelbourne

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 525 North Rd, Ormond, VIC P | (03) 9578 2426 E | info@melbournemusiccentre. W | /melbournemusic.centre

(Audio Visual Retailer)

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(Music Education)

(Music Instruments Retailer & Education) A | 48 Bloomfield St, Cleveland QLD P | (07) 3488 2230 E | W | /binarymusic

(Luthier) A | Wynnum, QLD P | 0408 338 181 E | W | /conwaycustomguitars

(Music Instruments Retailer)

A | 393-399 Macaulay Rd, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 8378 2266 E | W | /dexaudioaustralia

A | 55 Bassett Street, Mona Vale NSW P | (02) 9986 0589 E | W | / monavalemusic


(Record Store & Café) A | 268 Victoria Road, Marrickville, NSW P | (02) 9572 6959 E | W | /soundsespresso

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 280 Victoria Rd, Gladesville NSW P | (02) 9817 2173 E | W | / GladesvilleGuitarFactory

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A | 1267 Pacific Hwy, Turramurra NSW P | (02) 9449 8487 E | W | / TurramurraMusic

Not In The Directory? C O N TA C T


J E S S @ F U R S T M E D I A . C O M . A U






Ethan McCann Guitarist for Thornhill What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? My Ibanez RGIF7 guitar. How did you come across this particular item? I came across this guitar in a local music shop, surprisingly. I was in need of a new guitar quite urgently and needed something that could hold our low tuning. I was never a huge fan of Ibanez when I was younger, but I picked it up and fell in love. What is it that you like about it so much? My favourite feature is probably the Bare Knuckle Impulse pickups I had custom fitted. I have always preferred the feel of passive pickups, and to then be matched with a perfectly intonated 27” scale, it plays like a dream. How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music? I use this guitar for all things Thornhill – writing, our live show and some recording. Personally, just having a guitar that holds my tuning accompanied by a good tone is really inspiring when writing. Having an instrument that sounds how you want it to makes the stress of writing just that little bit sweeter. Tell us a little about what you have coming up? We have a whole bunch of stuff in the works, but next up is a national tour in August. We will be supporting Make Them Suffer, Silent Planet and Oceans Ate Alaska.

Butterfly is out now via UNFD. Catch Thornhill on tour next month.

Amos Williams Bassist for TesseracT What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? For me, the Darkglass Electronics Super Symmetry Compressor is a wonderful pedal that has sat in my live rig for years. How did you come across this particular item? I’m going to say circa 2013, when the ubiquitous (and rightly so) Darkglass B7K preamp pedal started to gain notoriety on the bass scene. I think I spoke directly with the designer and mentioned I was on the lookout for a pedal to replace a valve compressor I had in my rig. And well, here we are five or six years later and the Super Symmetry has done just that. What is it that you like about it so much? I find the build quality of all the Darkglass gear I have used is solid. A large part of the ethos for the Darkglass range is aesthetic. Not only does the gear have to sound and perform well, but it also has to look great. More importantly, the quality of signal is superior in my mind. I love how I essentially have a studio grade compressor in a tiny pedal footprint that can, and has, toured the world.  How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music? I really like to leave my attack clean, as the leading edge of my performance is very dynamic, so I’m keen to avoid messing with that side of things too much. I’ll set my attack quite slow, and my release will be set depending on how the room is sounding that day. My goal is to get quite a thwack out of my notes, so they are almost drum-like, punchy, and edgy. Tell us a little about what you have coming up? TesseracT is halfway through a new album cycle, and are touring pretty full on for a year or so. We get to come back to Australia in September, which is actually my favourite place on earth. Particularly Melbourne. I should just take the plunge, pack up and head to Victoria.

Sonder is out now via Kscope. Tesseract are touring Australia in September thanks to Live Nation.


Headrush is proudly represented in Australia by Electric Factory Pty Ltd 188 Plenty Road Preston VIC 3072

Mixdown Magazine 291  
Mixdown Magazine 291