Available in August 2012
For trade enquiries or to find your nearest dealer call Pro Audio - SA (011) 822-1430 | email@example.com | www.proaudio.co.za
EDITION 21 | AUG/SEPT ‘12 | Proud Supporters of SA Music!
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Editors Note and Index Cover Feature: Behringer Digital Mixer X32 Gear News Studio Review: JBL LSR4326P Studio Monitors Gear Review: Allan & Heath GLD-80 Gear Review: PRS SE Custom 24 Gear Review: The Tul G12 Dynamic Guitar Amp Microphone Special Feature: Tully McCUlly- A Frontier Spirit Instrument Review: Warwick Rockbass Corvette Gear Review: JB Systems PL-15D System Guitar Maintenance with Alan Ratcliffe Play Better Bass with Alistair Andrews Play Better Guitar with Kurt Slabbert Your Private Universe with Jon Pike
ur focus, this edition, aside from a regular flow of instrument tests, seems firmly placed on studio and live gear. It’s wonderful for us to have the market dictate what new gear is available as there always seems to be such a synergy with every edition. We bring you not one, but two new digital mixers that have recently been introduced to the market. Our cover features the brand new Behringer X32 Digital Desk which sports Midas preamps and brandishes the Midas badge which will peak many a sound engineer’s interest, no doubt. Reviewer, Greg Bester, has termed it a potential ‘game-changer’ in the market place. Reading his synopsis, it certainly sounds like it. Greg also had the opportunity to test drive the new Allen & Heath GLD-80
digital mixer by actually using it at a live gig featuring Van Coke Kartel and Taxi Violence; a better test of a piece of gear than that you will not get. You can read all about it on Pg. 12. Sticking with studio gear we also feature a legend of South African music, Tully McCully, who has quietly developed his own range of boutique microphones at very reasonable prices. You can read about this wonderfully infectious personality on Pg. 21 as well as a review of his G12 guitar mic, currently gaining traction in LA amongst some pretty heavyweight musicians and engineers. We also look at JBL’s new LSR4326P studio monitors, a serious contender in the upper market of loudspeakers, but at a very competitive price and feature packed. Then for gigging musicians be sure
to check out the JB Systems PA rig. A neat setup that won’t break the bank! Music instruments are always a big focus for us and this issue sees Nic Roos test drive the awesome PRS SE Custom 24. We also welcome new reviewer, bass player Kalin Pashaliev, to our writing team; he got to jam on the Warwick Rockbass Corvette. Both the PRS guitar and Warwick bass are significant as each of these brands are known for offering high-end gear; these instruments on review are from their more ‘budgetfriendly’ range but it’s clear from the reviews that they still kick some serious booty! Dave Mac Errata: Last edition we reviewed the JGS Africaster. Unfortunately we included the wrong contact details. The correct contact is: www.jgsguitars.com
Cover Feature | BEHRINGER DIGITAL MIXER X32 | words: Greg Bester
BEHRINGER DIGITAL MIXER X32 “The X32 is immense, it has a host of powerful processing options, and its I/O capacity is staggering.”
n interesting and surprising thing happened in the last breaths of 2009. The German-based audio mega-giant, Behringer, bought acclaimed console manufacturer Midas along with Klark Teknik, from Bosch for an undisclosed amount. Gasps were heard across the globe. They then created a whole new holding company called The Music Group which oversees the three brands and seeing that Behringer has primarily offered entry level equipment to the audio industry, one could say that this was a giant leap in the right direction for the now omnipresent corporation. One could also wonder whether this move would not so much as enhance Behringer's reputation, or hurt that of Midas; the brand new X32 goes a long way to prove the former. Behringer, while now a household name when it comes to affordable, entry-level audio gear, is no stranger to the digital console market either. Indeed, the now discontinued DDX3216 digital mixer has had its fair share of success and
has been around for years, lurking in such places as small broadcast facilities to club installations. But truth be told, it did not make massive waves in the pro audio community as it was competing directly with the Yamaha O1V, which is a mighty mite of a console with many features that few brands could contend with. Now, however, that’s all over. A new digital console from Behringer that is set to hit our market very soon is the X32 and there are many who are very excited to get their hands on one because it bares the magic words “Midas” upon it. This one word is enough to get most audio engineers coming out in hot flushes so let’s get into the nitty gritty of what’s on offer.
Features On paper the X32 stands up to most other digital consoles many times its price and all the advanced features one expects from a professional desk are available. It has 40 processing channels, 32 local microphone inputs, 25 mix busses, six mute groups and eight DCA’s. It has MIDAS-designed, fully-recallable mic preamps, which is a huge selling point for this console as there are many fans of the Midas preamp out there, including myself. You can mix and match any of the 32 local
console inputs or the networked digital snake on stage, which is a flexible option. The channel strip section supplies 17 backlit buttons and 13 rotary controls with LED collars for full manipulation of the dynamics section, four-band EQ and aux sends. All parameters are reflected on the 7” day-viewable colour TFT screen for clear representation. Probably one of the most notable features of this console is that it uses 40-bit internal precision which claims “no internal overload and near-zero overall latency”. Of course anybody who knows digital audio technology fairly well will know that there is no such thing as a 40-bit, or even a 32-bit AD/DA converter. This means that when the signal hits the output it still needs to be under 0dBfs in order to not clip the analogue stage of the console. The only advantage to having a higher internal precision is to avoid truncation distortion on low level signals such as reverb tails. That being said, more bits are always better than fewer bits, from a noise point of view. Too bad you’ll never get a reading of more than around 20 bits on any given output, due to the thermal noise of the analogue components. Moving on, the console also has 100mm motorized faders which allow for quick recall and DAW control. The DAW control function caught my eye most as this is a feature many will find useful and opens up a whole new door of functionality for the console. I might even consider one myself, given this feature, as this means the X32 can fit in nicely in both the studio and live domains. There’s also an iPad app that you can download free of charge, requiring no host PC, which you can use to control the console’s parameters remotely.
7 The X32 offers what it calls the Virtual FX Rack, which is now a common feature of most advanced digital consoles. All in all you get up to eight stereo effects (or 16 mono effects) and in a typical show application you can run up to four stereo reverbs and eight 31-band graphic EQs concurrently without having to plug in a single piece of outboard. In terms of I/O you get the aforementioned 32 local Midas preamps, six balanced line ins and outs on ¼ “ TRS jacks and 16 balanced omni XLR outputs which can be assigned a feed from anywhere. As seen in many higher end consoles, there is also an option to run a single CAT5 network cable on the AES50 to the stage to connect up to the stage boxes on Ultranet for 48-channel bi-direction operation. Additionally, 16 monitor feeds are available which are all compatible with Behringer's new P16 Personal Monitoring System (as featured in Muse Apr/May ’12 edition). There are also two AES50 ports provided for connecting up to six S16 stage boxes, or for cascading multiple consoles all with low latency. The S16 stage boxes themselves offer a USB port, two AES50 ports, an Ultranet port, 16 ADAT outs, and MIDI in and out, which is impressive for such a small box. A huge selling point for this console is the fact that as mentioned before, Midas was involved in its design. Another noteworthy fact is that Klark Teknik was also involved in designing the X32’s GUI. They also utilized their experience in FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) coding which enhances the lowlatency digital channel patching, which gives the X32 the mindblowing capability to handle up to 168 sources to 168 destinations, including the dual AES50 ports. This is a massive advantage in their favour and no doubt a huge reason why many, including AV companies, will want to get their hands on one.
CONCLUSION The X32 is exactly what Behringer needed to propel them safely into the future. Granted, they make a slew of gear that is used from everybody and
their grandmother, but there’s only so far a brand like this can go on that ticket and it was clear they needed to make a well thought out move into something different and more substantial. The X32 is immense, it has a
host of powerful processing options, and its I/O capacity is staggering. I would say that Behringer has a game changer on their hands and I am, for one, interested to see how this digital console impacts on the market. A winner for sure!
Supplier: Proaudio Tel. No: 011-8221430 Expect to pay: R 32,000.00 incl. VAT
Gear & Industry News | FOR DAILY GEAR, INSTRUMENT AND INDUSTRY NEWS VISITS MUSEONLINE.CO.ZA
Gear News NEW PRODUCTS ANNOUNCED BY AUDIOSURE Kinetic 215A & 18BA Wharfedale announced the launch of two new additions to its Kinetic Active Series in June: Kinetic 215A and Kinetic 18BA. The all new Kinetic Active Series offer the latest technologies and innovation in the Pro Audio industry. The Kinetic Active speaker range promises to live by Wharfedale Pro’s legendary status that is known the world over. The Kinetic Active Series loudspeakers are the result of many years of research and development by Wharfedale in the professional audio industry. “We take great pride in engineering and building every Wharfedale Pro loudspeaker and sincerely thank you for entrusting us with your sound solutions,” they say.
New Delta 10 The all new Delta 10 offers the latest technologies and innovation in the Pro Audio industry. It is a passive loudspeaker that offers next generation performance, for which Wharfedale Pro is known the world over. This model offers professional features such as Titanium Compression Driver, Elliptical Waveguide Technology, Dual Angle Pole Mount Receptacle, and High Power, Low Distortion Cast Frame Woofer thus ensuring perfect compatibility and seamless integration with both professional and beginner equipment. The Kinetic Active series, like its passive counterpart and the new Delta 10, are both suitable for a wide range of
WANT TO RECORD BUT DON’T HAVE ALL THE GEAR YOU NEED? A SOLUTION IS AT HAND... Recording your band at home or in your own project studio is fine in the beginning but ultimately every band grows out of this and realises that better gear is needed to get the sound down right. What are one’s options? Save up and buy the desired Mic for example, (or in the case of drums – drum mic set) eventually. This could take several months of skipping on your rent to
applications, making them ideal for portable DJ’s and small brands where heavy duty sound reinforcement is a must within a budget price
New Connect 1002FX & 1202FX Whardedale recently added a new professional mixer in the Connect Series – 1202FX & 1002FX. The all new Connect 1202FX & 1002FX mixers offer the latest technologies and innovation in the Pro Audio industry and is suitable for a wide range of applications. This professional mixer features some of the best researched technologies in the professional audio industry. Wharfedale values research and development of its products above all priorities and the Connect Series has been at the centre of professional mixer development. The Connect 1202FX & 1002fx houses balanced XLR microphone inputs, which give you full functionality and great sound in an ultra compact and cost effective package that is ideal for live sound, home studio recording and fixed installations. The Microphone preamplifiers use the same high quality components and construction methods that are employed in our flagship mixers. The Connect 1202FX & 1002fx models are intuitive and an ergonomically designed user interface that is excellent for beginners and professionals alike. Comprehensive connectivity ensures that a Connect mixer will integrate with any systems on hand. Audiosure | (011) 790-4600 www.audiosure.co.za
acquire that suitable piece of gear. Or find a suitably equipped studio and work under pressure (not ideal) to get your recording down, paying of course for studio time. Well here’s a third option and it is one that makes perfect economical sense. Rent what you need for only how long you need it! Media Gear, a Cape Town based company has introduced a novel and very useful new service. They stock a continually growing inventory of popular Studio Microphones, Studio Monitors, Audio Interfaces, DAW Controllers, Preamps, Recorders, etc - all for rental. This means, that you can get your hands on a silky Neumann, a handy sE Reflection Filter, or a pair of Adam A7X's for the day - all at a rate that would buy you less than 2 hours in an average
Kinetic 215A & 18BA
Connect 1202FX South African recording studio. Their rental stock caters for entrylevel such as 2-channel interfaces, vocalists that would love to be dialed into a boutique preamp or seasoned engineers looking to do their final mix on monitors of their choice. All equipment is available at daily and weekly rental rates so you only pay for the days you need them. Media Gear is currently running a great introductory special offer. Here’s the deal: When you hire your first item, suggest something else they should add to their inventory and you may get up to as much as 50% off that first rental. Pretty cool, we say! Check them out online. Media Gear | (021) 802-0709 firstname.lastname@example.org
9 BARITONE BOMBER FROM THE HEART OF AFRICA JGS Guitars has just begun production of a new multiscale, short baritone, 7string Africaster that its creator describes as the tonal equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The new 26.5 to 27.5 inch scale guitar, based on a T-style body, is crafted predominantly from selected African hardwoods, in keeping with its Africaster moniker. Customers who commission an Africaster can select from a wide range of woods for their guitar’s body, top, bridge, arm bevel, fingerboard, neck and headstock laminate. The prototype of the guitar (shown here) sports a sapele mahogany body, a tamboti top and African blackwood arm bevel, fingerboard, bridge and headstock cap. John Soderlund, sole luthier at JGS Guitars, says the new design is an attempt to give guitarists the flexibility to carry the bass line while not sacrificing the ability to turn on the twang should they unexpectedly find themselves in red-neck territory. The shorter treble
side scale length, at 26.5 inches (673mm), allows the use of almost normal string gauges, while the longer 27.5 inch(699mm) bass scale length carries a 0.070 inch seventh string to ensure deep, cocoa-laden basslines. Soderlund recommends a tuning of DGCFAD, one tone below the normal EADGBE. The pickups are a Kent Armstrong 7-string tele in the bridge and a matching, strat-style single coil in the neck position, which, together with the multiscale build and high-density tone woods, allow for a wider tonal palette than any guitar he has created to date, says Soderlund. The guitar can be seen and heard at http://www.jgsguitars.com/ BariAfricasterPublishToWeb/ JGS Guitars www.jgsguitars.com
LINE 6 JTV 69 JAMES TYLER VARIAX “Every now and then, a piece of technology is released that addresses several consumer needs in one device. In the same way the iPhone is capable of housing a phone, still camera, video camera, web browser, and a slew of other applications in a single pocket-sized apparatus, the James Tyler Variax JTV69US by Line 6 packs banjos, resonators, sitars, and classic electric and acoustic guitar tones into a single instrument.” – guitarplayer.com
sessions. JTV-59 gives you an endless variety of guitar sounds - from classic acoustic and vintage electric tones all the way to sitar and banjo in a single-cut, set-neck, 249/16" scale-length guitar designed by one of the world’s finest luthiers.
29 Amazing Instruments in One By combining patented, industry-leading Line 6 digital modeling technology with boutique-style craftsmanship, James Tyler® Variax® delivers a complete collection of instruments within a single guitar - 28 vintage instrument models, plus the James Tyler-designed guitar itself. No more dragging piles of instruments to gigs or recording
18 Vintage Electrics | 10 Amazing Acoustic and Eclectic Instruments | 1 Finely Crafted Guitar | Access Alternate Tunings - Instantly | Create Custom Instruments with Variax Workbench | Designed by James Tyler, Master Luthier Active Music | Tel: (011) 466-9510 music distribution
Studio | JBL LSR4326P | words: Greg Bester
tudio monitors have always been a highly personal preference. There have been many adjectives used to describe what a studio monitor should sound like, such as “flat”, “precise” and “unflattering”, but the truth of the matter is that nobody has agreed on what any of those things actually are for the last sixty years. Making things a little more complicated is the fact that even if you audition a pair of monitors in your local gear shop where you perceive them to sound great, there’s no guarantee that they’ll sound just as great in your own room. Speaking of the room, this is a central issue in both the recording and listening domains. Just as your recording room has to have a consistent tone in order to accomplish a consistent recording, your listening room should also be consistent and as “acoustically tuned” as possible in order for your ears to receive the right information for you to make correct decisions. A simple way of putting it is that if your monitors and room are lying to you, you will always be left guessing. There is just no way around that. Or is there? The LSR4326P studio monitors are an attempt by JBL to offer high quality studio monitors that incorporate intelligent room correction DSP and system networking for the professional and project studio.
Construction and Features The LSR4326P’s are heavy, gun metal gray and extremely well made active studio reference monitors with a 6.25” low frequency driver and a 1” soft-dome tweeter. The “LSR” in the model name stands for “Linear Spatial Reference” design and this technology ensures a flatter response when you are off-axis to the speaker for greater mix position clarity. The LSR4326’s have many features that are unusual in monitors in this bracket. Firstly, they have two sets of digital inputs outputs on the AES/EBU and S/PDIF protocols in addition to the standard analogue XLR line input. They incorporate 24-bit, 96 kHz digital processing and their reference standards are factory calibrated. Secondly, all the LSR series speakers are fully networkable on JBL’s proprietary HiQnet™ protocol via CAT5 cable and configurable via LSR4300 Control Center Software where all system parameters can be manipulated directly
from a computer including surround sound configuration. Yet another interesting feature, and probably the central selling point of the LSR4300 series monitors, is the RMC (Room Mode Correction) system, which aims to provide the user with a means to correct problems in the low frequency range, where most room problems occur and the algorithm is configured to receive data from a test pulse which then automatically notches out erroneous frequencies anywhere from 20 to 160Hz. This is done at the push of a button after attaching the RMC microphone to the rear of the enclosures.
In Use The LSR4326P’s are very attractive monitors. I was quite excited to hear them since I haven’t used JBL monitors since the late 1990’s when I was an aspiring newbie to the industry. Comparing them to my Genelec 4030A’s, I noticed was that they sound vastly different to the comparably polite Gennies. These monitors have a lot more top end and the upper midrange around 3 - 4 kHz is a lot more pronounced, giving them more of an “American” sound and more attack on transient sources. However, the midrange is very smooth and the low end full and tight, even without a subwoofer. It’s clear that JBL went for an “expensive” sound when engineering these monitors and it really shows. The RMC facility is easy to set up and configure and the networking facility
is fantastic - once the LSR4300 Control Center software was downloaded, it was a matter of minutes before the speakers were networked and configured. What’s great about the Control Center software is that it negates having to probe around with the front panel buttons and actually offers even more functionality, such as specifying specific frequencies for the low and high frequency EQ’s instead of them being fixed, which is 2 kHz for the HF and 500 Hz for the LF.
Conclusion The JBL LSR4326P’s are fantastic monitors with many great features. They can either be used as-is, right out of the box, or can be configured ‘til the heart’s content. I can’t think of very many studio monitors on the market that offer such control either and this is definitely a huge plus in their favour. The price is reasonable for what you get, too, which makes them a lot more attractive than more expensive specimens that do not have the advanced features they offer. I would say that JBL have got some great contenders here in the active monitor market and now, after returning them to the supplier, I somehow wish I had a pair.
Suggested Retail Price: R 9,600.00 ex VAT each
Supplier: Wild and Marr Tel. No: (011) 794-0633 (021) 787-9378 | (031) 564-3877
Imported and Distributed by
Audio | ALLEN & HEATH GLD-80 | words: Greg Bester
ALLEN & HEATH
is one of them. They too have made a huge venture into digital and with the success of their iLive series, they have set a very solid and well-respected foundation to build upon. It is no surprise, then, when they release other products to fill the gaps in their market and one of these products is the new GLD-80 medium format digital mixing console. I was given one by the SA distributor of A&H, Midrand-based Audiosure, for this review and, as it just so happened, I was able to take it with me to a gig in Boksburg where SA rock icons Van Coke Kartel and Taxi Violence were set to perform. Let’s see how it fared.
ritish-made consoles are undoubtedly the leaders in live sound reinforcement. If I had one rand for every Midas XL or Soundcraft MH series console requested on international tech riders, I would undoubtedly be a rich man. Of course, those aren’t the only console brands on the market and certainly aren’t the only options. One console manufacturer that I’ve always put in the same bracket is Allen & Heath, the Cornwall, England based company that has been manufacturing professional audio products since the early 1970’s. Indeed, all of their early consoles were hand-built in a small factory in London for such high profile acts as Pink Floyd and The Who and they have continued to build on that legacy as they are now a massive multi-national company that stands for both quality and
reliability. Their heritage is solid, and the progeny of their consoles proves it. In the last ten years or so, there has been a massive move into digital. There are now myriad digital consoles on the market; some incredibly powerful and sophisticated and some basic but the main goal is the same in all variants: compact design, power and efficiency. However, there has also been a massive debate raging about the merits of analogue vs. the downfalls of digital and there are many who would argue that analogue consoles sound better and digital sounds sterile. Given this, there has been a large effort from digital console manufacturers to combine the convenience of digital with the sound of analogue so now we have a slew of next generation products that have been manufactured in this vein. Having said that, there are also a few manufacturers whose brand name implies a certain standard of quality beyond debate, and, to me, Allen & Heath
The Allen & Heath GLD-80 is slick, well put together, and lightweight. Carrying the boxes around, I started to doubt whether there was actually anything in them but sure enough, the three packages I was given for this review contained what is called the Control Surface (the mixer part), the 24-channel GLD-AR2412 stage box, and the 8channel GLD-AR84 expander unit. All stage box peripherals are connected via CAT5 cable for easy, onecable connection, which is a complete pleasure. A full GLD-80 system can accommodate a maximum of 48 input channels, which breaks down to 44 microphone inputs and four line inputs, including input from a USB stick. As far as outputs go, it can supply a whopping 30 which breaks down to 12 on the AR2412 stage box, four on each of the two possible AR84 expanders for a total of eight, and a further eight on the surface itself. Two stereo digital outputs on the AES/EBU and S/PDIF protocols are also offered as standard along with an option slot which supports the following cards:
! ! ! ! ! !
ACE (Audio and Control over Ethernet) Dante (Multi-track recording) MADI (64-channel, bi-directional i/o) M-Waves (server-based DSP processing) Ethersound (low latency networking standard) Mini Multi Out (24 channel ADAT, Aviom and Hearback)
The GLD-80 is a stellar addition to the Allen & Heath range. It's compact. It's powerful.
So, as you can see, the connectivity issue with the GLD-80 is, well, actually a non-issue and as I alluded to before, the GLD-80 has also got a USB I/O bus that can perform a stereo recording, playback from input, and storing and recall of scenes. Now, let’s take a closer look at the control surface. The GLD-80 has a slick and straightforward design and includes 20 faders, 4 layers and 80 channel strips in total. The input section at the left side of the console has 12 faders and the master section to the right of the console has 8 faders; both with four layers. The GLD80 incorporates an 8.4 inch colour touch screen that is the centrepiece to the console’s control GUI and setup. It has high-end 1dB-stepped recallable head amps and eight stereo RackFX that all return to their own separate stereo strips with their own PEQ (they do not have to be routed to input strips on the console) and a huge range of FX are available for easy assignment. There is full processing on all input strips including gain trim, polarity, HPF, insert, gate, 4-band PEQ, dynamics, and delay and likewise, for each output strip you get a PEQ, a GEQ, compression, and delay. Mix modes include LR, None (for studio use), LR+M (sum) and LCR. There are 16 DCA’s which double as mute groups and a total of 30 assignable buses which can be designated as aux, group, matrix, main or FX send buses. There is a built-in talkback, RTA and signal generator as well, along with 10 user definable “soft keys” and colour coding for all input and output strips.
IN USE At the Van Coke Kartel / Taxi Violence gig at Stones in Boksburg, the console took about 10 minutes to connect and start receiving signal. After connecting the AR2412 stage box via a single CAT5 network cable, the GLD-80 instantly saw it and we were good to go. Being that this was my first time using it, I decided to go with Show Template 1, which gave me six DCAs, six auxiliaries, four preset effects buses with returns, and a LR bus. The first thing that struck me as we started the sound check with “Kick!” was
that there was a certain warmth to the console that was lacking in many of the other ubiquitous digital consoles that I have experience with. Since I had worked many years prior with Bomb Squad Sound and Lights, the company that had supplied the familiar DAS line array for the event, I knew what to expect, which was actually key to this review. The GLD-80 seemed to almost sound like it was analogue and since A&H is a company that has never let me down, audio quality-wise, my expectations were heading towards fulfilled. Another thing that struck me about the GLD-80 was how easy it was to navigate. Chris, one of Bomb Squad’s senior engineers, had no problem at all picking up the consoles’ operation and in no time he was wizzing around its interface with ease. Stage monitoring was also accomplished without a hitch and there was absolutely no feedback with days and days of headroom available to us. However, here and there we were obliged to make tonal adjustments and accessing the GEQ on the relevant output channel was as easy as selecting it and pressing the GEQ flip button. Instantly we were supplied with a 31band GEQ represented by the position of the faders. Probably the most helpful feature of the console is the channel strip section, complete with all the parameters that you need to process an input. Every parameter is available at the push of a button and a twist of a knob. As long as the “Processing” button is pushed, all parameters are reflected on the touch screen. The EQ sounded precise and “British” in nature and the compressor was accurate and effective. Once again, the EQ sounded very “analogue”; very similar in sound to the legendary Mh3000.
Perhaps my single gripe about the console is that despite it having a +27dBu maximum output level, the meters show peaking beyond +12dBu at the output meter and +6dBu at the channel meters. This, I suppose is their attempt to encourage engineers to practice proper gain staging, but gives the impression of clipping which is not occurring. This, however, is quite minor.
CONCLUSION The GLD-80 is a stellar addition to the Allen & Heath range. It’s compact. It’s powerful. The connectivity options are wide and varied, and not to mention simple, and the interface is slick and straight-forward, making it inviting to almost anyone that has a basic knowledge of audio mixers. Most importantly, however, is its sound quality, which is absolutely fantastic. I, for one, was highly impressed by the GLD-80 and I’m sure anyone that uses it will have the same experience.
Suggested Retail Price: GLD-80: R 79,995.00 AR2412: R 22,995.00 AR84: R 10,795.00 Supplier: Audiosure Tel. No: 011 790 4600 Website: www.audiosure.co.za
Instrument Review | PRS SE CUSTOM 24 | words: Nic Roos
PRS SE CUSTOM 24 “Based on the first ever model produced by Paul Reed Smith back in 1985, the SE version is a whole lot of guitar for the asking price.”
aul Reed Smith is one of the dominant guitar manufacturers of the world. With a mere 30 year history its name has become synonymous with elegance, precision, clarity and silky tone. Their SE (Student Edition) range Custom 24 model has received a bit of a facelift this year, making it more consistent with the updates made to PRS’s Maryland made line. This narrows the gap in quality between their premium and mid-to-lower priced instruments, which is already considerably smaller than that of some other brands. Based on the first ever model produced by Paul Reed Smith back in 1985, the SE version is a whole lot of guitar for the asking price.
ANATOMY This gorgeous instrument features: ! PRS designed tuners ! 24 medium jumbo frets ! A 25’ scale maple ‘wide thin’ neck with a rosewood fretboard and bird inlays ! A mahogany double cutaway body with bevelled maple top ! Twin humbuckers – SE HFS Treble in bridge position and SE Vintage Bass in neck position ! A single tone knob with push/pull coil tap (a first for this model) and volume knob. ! An updated 3-way blade pickup switch ! A floating, PRS designed Strat-styled tremolo bridge The review model came in a beautiful flamed ‘WhaleBlue’ finish with a clear wood binding around the body. Whereas older models had flat tops the new Custom 24 tops are curved.
PLAYABILITY Holding it in my hands, there’s a strange sensation of it being well worn-in, yet still new. The neck is especially comfortable with softened edges and, while its thinness facilitates fast playing, it is just wide enough to make chord shapes comfortable too. While not my favourite shape aesthetically, the body is also comfortable and lightweight, being thinner than a Les Paul but not as ‘planky’ as a Strat-styled guitar. Strumming chords, the typical PRS elasticity is present in the string response. It doesn’t fight back, it just
sparkles and sings. The floating tremolo system works very well and doesn’t seem to negatively affect sustain. A good divebomb workout also doesn’t seem to knock it out of tune. Some players may find that the longer scale takes some getting used to, but overall this guitar is incredibly easy to play.
SOUND Unplugged the Custom 24 has tons of sparkle, character and sustain, revealing PRS’s exceptional build quality. Also, and I know this may sound strange, there’s an almost vocal quality to the tone that makes it very expressive to play. Pickups are a large component of a guitar’s sound and can colour its natural tone. But here both the HFS Treble and Vintage Bass pickups maintain the natural acoustic sustain and smoothness admirably while accentuating the balanced overtones and the note clarity very well. It’s always fun playing dense dissonant chords on a PRS. It’s almost comical how clear and un-jarring each note is even at high gain. In humbucking mode both pickups display a punchy, bright tone with a woody low end and sparkly metallic highs. With Coil Tap engaged, which turns the humbuckers into single-coils, there’s a slight drop in mids and volume, as expected, but a brighter, sharper attack, hinting at a Telecaster’s ‘spankyness’. Playing through a number of tube amps I was happy to discover that I could, with minimal effort, dial in the typical PRS sweetness and just as easily find the level of grit and attitude that I often feel is missing from PRS’s with distorted tones. Its clarity, sustain, sweet tonal options and easy, fast neck make this one incredibly versatile tone monster.
CONCLUSION In my experience PRS guitars have a distinctively silky, elegant flavour and they rarely stray into grittier, rougher territory. It is a pleasant surprise to me then that the SE Custom 24, a simple and elegant design, does this and more, making it the most versatile PRS I’ve had the pleasure of playing. And for a midpriced guitar that’s really saying something.
Supplied by: Rockit Distribution (021) 511-1800 Suggested retail price: R 8,995.00 incl. VAT
Gear Review | THE TUL G12 DYNAMIC GUITAR AMP MICROPHONE | words: Nic Roos
THE TUL G12 DYNAMIC Guitar Amp Microphone
t can be notoriously difficult to capture the broad range of sound of an electric guitar, often also so dependent on the style of music. There are frequencies you want and others you can usually do without. It’s a careful balancing act, often requiring multiple mics and careful placement. Hand-built by South African music legend, Tully McCully [featured opposite], the Tul G12 is a dedicated guitar amp microphone, designed to capture all the warmth without the mud, all the bite without the
more ‘modern’ tone. While a retro-looking production model [pictured above left] will be available soon, on review here is the prototype version [pictured right], which is housed in the capsule of a cheap SM58-styled mic. Despite its nondescript look it functions as promised: amazingly!
and a lush Laney LC50 II, I played at squeaky clean settings to high gain filth. Listening back, one thing was immediately apparent. The recording sounded like what I heard standing in front of the amp but with the punch, clarity, attack, crackle and thump of a mic right on the cone. In ‘Classic’ mode it captures a warm, clear tone, like a ribbon mic with more sparkle. It definitely is a lot more generous with the low end than a SM57 (which has a low cut-off frequency of around 200Hz), while retaining that mic’s slightly pronounced presence range, and it gives you all the bite and crackle without fizz. In ‘Bright’ mode there is plenty of high-end that even Dimebag Darrel would have been happy with, and yet still no unpleasant harshness. I recorded some chunky riffs through the Blackstar at mid-gain, playing along to a recording that had drums, bass and two other guitars. Simply put, it sounds huge without taking up too much sonic realestate. The separation really impressed me and I hadn’t yet done any processing of any kind, while the other guitars seemed to pale by comparison. These qualities are also very much in evidence over a PA system in a live setting. I was fortunate enough to try the G12 at a club show. Total rich clarity! Sadly for the other guitarist in the band, the engineer struggled to keep him equally as present in the mix. I was honestly blown away!
“You'll never have to sweep for the sweet spot again.” fizz, giving you the sound of the amp as you hear it in the room. It has been receiving praise from the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Greg Wurth (Steve Vai, LA Guns), Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dream Theatre and Aerosmith. The range of styles of these artists should give some indication of the mic’s broad appeal.
ANATOMY The G12 is a dynamic microphone modelled after three popular mics often combined on hi-end sessions - the ubiquitous Shure SM57 dynamic, the Beyer M201 dynamic and the expensive Royer R121 ribbon. Tully’s design uses resonance to shape its response instead of clogging the signal with many components. “It’s so simple. It’s like free energy!” he says. This involved tailoring the capsule to match the resonance of a typical amp speaker in order to efficiently capture the tone and reject the resonance of the fizzy high-end, leaving you with the tone you hear in the room. A single switch allows you to choose between ‘Classic’ mode, which has more fizz rejection, and ‘Bright’ mode, which gives a brighter,
It is suggested that you put the mic dead centre on the amp’s speaker cone, which with conventional mics, like the SM57, will result in a screechy, biting sound that can be useful but is usually too harsh and lacking in bottom end. Recording my Les Paul and Strat through a great sounding Blackstar HT5
Obviously great tone is dependent on the quality of amp and guitar but when you have a great sound the Tul G12 captures it beautifully in studio and on stage. You’ll also never have to sweep for the sweet spot again. This is a real treasure! And at R 2,200 it’s more than just a treasure, it’s an absolute steal!
Expect to pay: R 2,200-00 | Supplied by Tul Microphones www.facebook.com/TulMicrophones | TulMicrophones@gmail.com
words: Nic Roos | TULLY MCCULLY – A FRONTIER SPIRIT | Special Feature
TULLY MCCULLY A Frontier Spirit
hen guitar gods Joe Bonamassa, Greg Wurth (Steve Vai, LA Guns), and huge bands like Dream Theater, Aerosmith and Crosby, Stills & Nash started raving about an amazing dedicated electric guitar amp microphone, I was intrigued. When I found out it’s the Tul G12 that was designed and hand-built down the road, here in Cape Town by Tully McCully, I was scrambling to find out more. Soon I was off to chat to Tully, the South African rock legend who, for decades, wrote and produced countless hits with his band McCully Workshop and many others. At his studio, Spaced Out Sound, near District Six he showed me around, his effervescent warmth and enthusiasm making me feel both comfortable and excited as I anticipated the Audio history lesson that was about to unfold. Ask him a question and you glimpse the vast knowledge in his head, much like the way his studio is packed with vintage equipment. My eyes wander over a heap of 70s Neumann U87s here, a Goldtop Gibson Les Paul there, a spaceship-full of mixing desks and synths, and in one corner a Studer 2-inch tape machine that I lust after. Tully grew up in the resourcedeprived SA during the 1960s and had to build his own equipment in order to record his hits. “In the beginning you just had to do this stuff yourself,” he reminisces. Equipment was incredibly expensive, so he built a home studio in his garage, which gave rise to the name McCully Workshop. “We’d record and every time a train went by you’d have to hang on till it passed,” he laughs, “but we also just hated the sound of the studios that the record companies owned. We were the first local band to work independently.” With his out-of-box thinking Tully built his own mixing desks and turned tape machines from 4 to 16 tracks. “We even used a water tank as an echo chamber. It sounded fantastic and we used it on many songs. Then we’d get complaints from neighbours about ‘Banshee wailing in the middle of the night’ coming from this water tower,” he chuckles.
“People are emailing me saying they’ve recorded entire albums using only these mics, which is nice to hear.” His DIY ethic continues with today’s digital audio. He has digitised a beautiful sounding plate reverb which he had recently built, in order to use it as a reverb plugin on digital recordings. “You’ve got to add some flavour to digital. It’s all about adding character!” he adds thoughtfully. Which brings us to the mics. I am very curious as to what initiated the design and building of his range of Tul Mics [see the G12 reviewed on the opposite page]. “The whole mic thing started years ago when I decided to copy an old Neumann U67 and I got pretty close to matching its sound.” His nephew, James, suggested he build a guitar mic that combines the three mics most often used on big productions. “I analysed those three mics, using graphs to match them mathematically. Once I got close, I just used my ears. I also hit upon the idea of using resonance instead of clogging the signal with many components. It’s so simple. It’s like free energy!”
The results are the aforementioned G12, as well as the F47 and T12 (Tully’s recreations of a 70s Neumann FET U47 and an AKG C 12 respectively). He gave some G12 prototypes to world renowned producer Kevin Shirley who in his formative years worked for Tully at Spaced Out Sound. Shirley loved the mics so much he used them exclusively for all the guitars on Joe Bonamassa’s most recent album Driving Towards The Daylight, and word spread from there. Tully’s passion for music is infectious as he demonstrates his condenser mics, doing vocal comparisons (his always come out tops), or making drums sound huge using only one F47 and two T12s. “People are emailing me saying they’ve recorded entire albums using only these mics, which is nice to hear. The point is if I can put good quality mics that are going to add character at a reasonable price into demo and home studios, these guys are going to get better results.” It’s a testament to Tully’s character that even with big name support he wants to give people starting out, like he did, access to these great tools. He is certainly a legend of SA music and is still making his mark today.
For trade enquiries or to find your nearest dealer call Pro Audio SA (011) 822-1430 | email@example.com | www.proaudio.co.za
For trade enquiries or to find your nearest dealer call Pro Audio SA (011) 822-1430 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.proaudio.co.za
Instrument Review | WARWICK ROCKBASS CORVETTE
| words: Kalin Pashaliev
n the last 30 years Warwick has become synonymous with legendary bass players like Jack Bruce, Robert Trujillo and Bootsy Collins, making the brand a stalwart to behold by the bass playing public. Of course, Warwick’s flagship models are reserved almost exclusively for those who exercise their talent on a professional level – or for those lucky enough to have secured comfortable jobs (largely not a musician thing). Recognizing this, Warwick has made room to offer a budget-friendly version in the guise of the RockBass Corvette, a formidable instrument that won’t have you skipping rent for a few months to afford it!
ANATOMY At first glimpse this particular bass guitar looks quite attractive and daring, much like a small destroyer ship that dives under the breakers only to emerge splashing white water in anger. One of the first things I noticed is the two-piece bridge. The first part, the one closest to the back strap button, houses and secures the strings, whilst the second bares the string saddles. Moving up towards the neck, two German jazz-style active MEC pickups give the Corvette its multipurpose capability. Directly under the aforementioned, four controllers: the volume controller in first position; the balance controller in the second, which allows the player to straddle between the bridge pickup and neck pickup; the treble controller third; and the bass controller is placed last. The Corvette brandishes a maple neck and a 24 fret rosewood fingerboard (this model can also be purchased in the fretless and 4, 5 and 6 string options). The fingerboard showcases no tone markers and this adds further points to its sleek appearance. Players will still be able to tell their positioning by the small, dotted markers located on the fingerboard’s dorsal face. The Corvette also employs the Just-a-Nut III nut which allows for its height to be adjusted by the aid of a floating second piece. Another captivating element to the Corvette’s design is the [ergonomicallyminded] slanted tuning key stilted towards the instrument’s neck – this too gives it its ‘dangerous’ appearance. Players can opt for a number of
body finishes including Natural Satin, Colored Oil (Burgundy Red, Ocean Blue, Nirvana Black, Honey Violin) and High Polish (Black or Almond Sunburst).
PLAYABILITY The RockBass Corvette is well-weighted and its neck is smooth and easy to manouevre around, especially when performing slides. Of course the playability of any instrument is extremely dependent on its setup and the Warwick RockBass Corvette makes this particular task much easier with the aid of its effortlessly articulable components such as the Justa-Nut III.
SOUND The Warwick RockBass Corvette is highly versatile in the sounds it is able to produce. Its natural timbre is somewhat honky (in the good sense of the word) and growly (the signature sound Warwick is known for), especially when you play solely on the bridge pickup – this is perfect if you’re searching for that ‘Jaco’ sound. The name ‘RockBass’ is however a bit confusing: the Corvette is capable of operating within a wide spectrum of sounds and not just those of the rock genre as the name suggests. If you are looking for a thicker sound, just turn the balance controller towards the neck pickup, which now finally complements the instrument’s appellation. Since this bass is fitted with an active pickup system, its output is greater than most passive variants, and so is it’s sustain; and we all know how important sustain is in this game. Another great element is that you can set your amp’s settings in the middle and work the bottom and high ends directly from the instrument’s treble and bass controllers (position 3 and 4 respectively). The mid (high mids, mids and low mids) frequencies will come naturally from the pickup balance you choose to go with. The trick to this particular bass guitar is that you play around with its variables.
CONCLUSION The only criticism concerns the compartment reserved for the 9V battery. Actually, there isn’t one. When you open
Basses,Amps&Rock’nRoll. that plastic cover at the back of the body, it’s like the great spaghetti incident: wires and electronics all over the show and amidst all that a little metal clamp that you have to bend every time you want to get a battery in or out of there. Otherwise the Warwick RockBass Corvette can be summed up as an extremely diverse instrument. If you own a studio where you record different bass players all the time, or simply enjoy experimenting about in various genres, the RockBass Corvette is probably one of the best economical choices you can go with. The bottom line is that this bass is no one trick pony and a pleasure to play no matter what your taste may be.
Suggested Retail Price: R 5.795.00 incl. VAT Supplier: Music Power Contact Tel. No: 011-4669510
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Audio | JB SYSTEMS PL-15D SYSTEM | words: Greg Bester
JB SYSTEMS PL-15D SYSTEM The PL-15D is a light weight, heavy duty polypropylene loudspeaker cabinet. JB Systems PL-15D The world of powered speakers is not lacking in selection. You can find them just about anywhere and for this reason there are a large number of variables to consider when you purchase a pair, beyond simply sound quality alone. If price is no object, then sure, the sky is the limit, but for the average working musician, there may be other things to consider, the central idea being â€œbest bang for the buckâ€?. On review here is a pair of JB Systems PL-15D speakers, two MPL-15 amp modules, and an APL-1 USB/SD Card/FM Radio module.
Construction and Components The PL-15D is a light weight, heavy duty polypropylene loudspeaker cabinet. This enclosure is a standard one that we see from many manufacturers sourcing out of China. Unpacking revealed a seemingly sturdy cabinet, indeed light enough to be lugged from club to club if required. First thing to know is that the PL-15D comes standard as a passive enclosure. In order to make it active, you need to buy the MPL-15 amp module and install it manually into the rear recess. This sounds complicated, but it's really just a matter of unscrewing some screws, removing the passive back plate, and replacing it with the MPL-15. One simple connection and you're done. Once you've done that, you may notice that there is a further expansion slot on the MPL-15 amp module and that houses an optional APL-1 USB/SD Card/FM Radio input module.
Once again, all it takes is to unscrew some screws, plug in the single connector into the back of the APL-1, and to screw it back in. Job done.
Features The PL-15D incorporates a 15 inch, high power woofer, a 1.75 inch titanium compression driver and has built in rigging points. A stand adapter, a molded plastic carrying handle and heavy duty rubber feet are standard and the enclosure includes two Speakon connectors at the rear recess. Its power capacity is 300 W RMS at 8 ohms (600W peak), the frequency response is 45 20,000 Hz and it weighs 21KG, unloaded with the amp module. The MPL-15 amp module is a class-D amp and includes one XLR line input, one combo XLR/TRS jack for a microphone or line source, a line volume, a mic volume, a parallel link XLR output, a Speakon daisy-chain link, a two band (low and high) EQ, and a master volume. There is also a button to switch between the amp's inputs and the USB module. The APL-1 has got a USB input, an SD card slot and a built in FM radio. All these are navigable by an array of little buttons on the face of the module's housing or by using the included remote control.
In Use The first thing I will say is that it was relatively easy to install the amp module. However, when I attempted to install the APL-1 USB module, I found the wire had somehow fallen into the amp's housing. I then had to take the amp module out again (more unscrewing) to coax the wire from its hiding place and once that was done there was once again more screwing. By then my hands were very
tired. Where is that darn Mikita? One thing I will say, however, is that the USB module worked very nicely. I can really see how a system like this would aid a DJ or a one-man-band scenario as a one stop solution and for this price, one can't really go wrong. You can run a stereo pair, or, if you've only got budget for one MPL-15, you can daisy chain the amp to another passive PL-15D, which is helpful. The overall sound of the speakers was loud and powerful, although it did have that plastic sound, especially in the lower register. Of course, at this price point one can expect what one is going to get, but I wouldn't say that these speakers sound bad. I would say they sound exactly as intended.
Conclusion The PL-15D with all the expansion modules is a versatile system. What it lacks in actual fidelity it no doubt makes up for in features and because it's so customizable, it's allure weighs up a bit heavier than other systems in a similar price range. The USB input module is no doubt a plus point for a small system like this and I found it quite novel and highly usable. Overall I would say that if you're in the market for an affordable, budget system that can do a lot, then the PLD15D system is for you.
Suggested Retail Price: PL-15D : R 4,269.00 MPL-15 : R 2,599.00 | APL-1 : R 715.00 Supplier: Sound and Light City Contact Tel. No: 011-312 1001 Website: www.soundandlightcity.co.za
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Tutorial | RESTRINGING NYLON STRING GUITARS PT 1 | words: Alan Ratcliffe
RESTRINGING NYLON STRING GUITARS Part 1
play a lot of nylon string guitar and unfortunately am also addicted to the sound and feel of new strings. The problem with this is that a fresh set of nylon strings usually takes a long while to settle in and stretch. So changing a set of strings on the day of a gig is a foolish endeavour, which usually means you’re going to end up spending almost as much time tuning strings on stage as you do playing songs. So years ago I started experimenting with ways to get nylon strings to settle in a lot quicker and stay in tune longer between tuning.
The Problems There are two fundamental reasons for nylon strings going out of tune: the first is that the strings stretch a lot more than acoustic steel or electric guitar strings; the second is the way the strings are attached to the guitar. The string attachment problem is actually twofold as the strings are attached differently on either end. On one side the strings tend to slip through the tuner capstans until a fairly long length of string is wound up on them (which means a longer length of string to stretch and more windings to settle). On the bridge side of the guitar, the strings are usually wrapped around themselves multiple times to stop them slipping and these winds actually also slow down the settling in process.
The Solutions There are a few things that you need to do to ensure that the strings settle quickly and, just as importantly, stay settled until they reach the end of their
useful lifespan. It’s a bit too much information for this one article, so I’ll split it up into two parts.
The Strings Themselves The problem of strings stretching further as they age is easily improved upon – it is largely down to the material the strings are made from and how well they are made. Not only do I find that better quality name brand strings improve matters, but that modern composite strings do not stretch or slip as much as the more traditional nylon strings. As an added bonus, composite strings also last far longer (typically two to three times as long) as conventional nylon strings, which more than makes up for the added expense and means you don’t have to go through the restringing process as often.
Stretching In Strings Traditional stretching in of new strings is essential, regardless of what else you do. Stretching in is when you fit the strings, tune up and then you grab each string one at a time and pull it
away from the guitar’s body and neck as shown in the picture above, and then follow by retuning and stretching again. This is repeated until the strings no longer go out of tune when stretched. This essentially puts a lot more pressure on the string, forcing it to do the majority of its stretching and slipping right away and ensures that the windings on the tuner and bridge are tightly wound.
Shorter String Length The best thing you can do with any guitar to ensure it settles in quickly is keep the string length as short as possible - the longer the length of string there is, the more string there is to stretch and settle. With a nylon string guitar specifically there is a flipside to this – you need enough string wound on the tuner capstan and bridge to make sure the string
does not slip out completely if you clip off the excess string length. In the next issue we will look at specific methods of tying the strings to tuner capstan and bridge to get the shortest string length possible with the maximum grip to keep them in place.
Tutorial | PLAY BETTER BASS | words: Alistair Andrews
PLAY BETTER BASS WOOD and your BASS
ifferent wood equals different sound (even if the wood is of the same type). It helps a lot if you know what the instrument that you are about to purchase is made off. Your sound is personal, therefore the type of wood you prefer on your bass will also
be personal. Wood plays a major role in shaping the tone of your instrument. Alistair offers some insight as to how different wood can affect your bass. ! Light coloured woods are generally brighter than dark woods. ! Hard woods tend to have a clearer, brighter, more articulate sound while soft woods are more sensitive, allowing you to hear the swelling of the overtones as a note sustains. ! Lightweight wood is also brighter than heavy wood. ! Some basses are created out of a mix of woods (lamination) to balance out the overall tonal qualities of the bass.
Please note that the overall tone characters of a piece of wood are a combination of all these elements. For example, a very hard wood (like bubinga) does not have a brighter tone than maple, which is not that hard, because it is very dense. There are several different woods used for the Body, Neck and Fret-board. This is not a complete list, but rather some of the most popular choices.
BODY WOOD: THE BODY WOOD ON MY WARWICK 12 STRING CUSTOM (ABOVE) IS SPLATTED MAPLE IN FRONT, AND SWAMP ASH AT THE BACK. THE NECK IS AVANGKOL AND THE FRET-BOARD IS EBONY.
Alderâ€™s closed grain makes this wood easy to finish. It is light and gives a full sound. This used to be main body wood for Fender for many years. There are two very different types of Ash: Northern Hard Ash and Swamp Ash (Southern Soft Ash). Northern Hard
MAPLE Ash is very hard, heavy and dense and contributes to a bright tone and a long sustain. I use Swamp Ash as on the back of two of my custom Warwick basses. Avankol is used a lot by Warwick for the warm sound it gives. The original Thumb basses had Avankol bodies and Necks.
Continued on Page 34...
Tutorial | PLAY BETTER BASS | words: Alistair Andrews
There are two types of Maple: Eastern Hard Maple (hard rock maple) and Western Soft Maple (big leaf maple). Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood. This is the same wood that is used on necks. The tone is very bright with long sustain and a lot of bite. Maple could be further subdivided into: Flame Maple, Quilted Maple, Splatted Maple, Birdseye Maple and Burl Maple. The closed grained Poplar is tonally very similar to alder Redwood. Rosewood is warmer than maple, but the highs seem to be dampened somewhat by the oily nature of the wood.
Continued from Page 32...
NECK WOOD Maple is generally used for both necks and fingerboards. Rosewood comes in many types and each produces different types of qualities in tones. Rosewood produces a warmer tone than its counterpart ebony. There are several types of rosewood: 1. Indian Rosewood (the most popular fingerboard wood.) It has a warm tonality. 2. Brazilian Rosewood is very hard and dense wood. Great clarity and articulation in tone. 3. Palisander Rosewood is the wood of choice for making solid rosewood necks and bodies. Very hard and heavy with somewhat open cell structure. It's used for both necks and fingerboards. Rosewood is a commonly used wood on the fingerboards of bass guitars. While it is bright and clear, it has a bit more warmth and darkness than the other common fingerboard wood such as maple.
Walnut is a heavy weight wood but lighter than hard maple and may not be as bright. Wenge features black and chocolate brown stripes and is usually used as laminate tops. The tone is very “sweet” in the midrange area. Zebrawood is another heavy weight wood with very open grain. It has a distinctive look with light and dark brown stripes. Zebrawood is more commonly used as a laminate top. It's weight and sound is similar to hard maple.
Wenge wood makes awesome bass necks with strong midrange tones and warm lows. Combine it with an ebony fretboard for more brightness. Used primarily as neck shafts but may also be used as a coarse fretboard. Bubinga is a very strong stiff wood used primarily for bass necks and in laminations. It is also used by Rickenbacker for fretboards. As a bass neck, it brings bright midrange and a thick well defined bottom. Ebony (my personal favourite, as I play mostly fretless) is very hard, smooth and fast feeling that has a bright, long sustaining tone. Ebony is used primarily as fingerboards. Mahogany is the wood most associated with Gibson guitars. It is not as dense or strong as maple. Good for a warmer, fatter tone. Walnut is the only North American dark wood. It is somewhat softer than maple though stiffer than
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mahogany. Looks and sounds good when combined with ebony fingerboards. Koa is the premiere Ukulele wood. It is fairly similar to mahogany in strength and weight though generally better looking. Limba is very similar to mahogany and is only suitable for neck stock, not fretboards. Purpleheart is used as an accent line in laminated necks. The purple like colour is striking. It is a very hard dense wood. Similar to bubinga in its good bass tone. Satine is a very dense hard tropical wood with a waxy smooth feel and may be used as neck or fingerboard wood. LAMINATION By carefully combining woods, it's possible to focus on particular tone qualities. A maple neck with a maple fingerboard is generally brighter than a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. If you put a hard top on a soft back body, you can make the low end clearer and more articulate but still retain the desired qualities of the softer wood for the high end and midrange. This is by no means the complete list, but I hope that you will be inspired to find out more about the wood/tone relationship before making your next purchase.
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Tutorial | PLAY BETTER GUITAR | words: Kurt Slabbert
PLAY BETTER GUITAR Technical Facility
have just returned from a trip to America and the first thing you see are these diners and for some reason I would constantly think about horses, cowboys and twang. Country seems to be everywhere in America and appreciated by most of America’s population. During my trip I met many working guitarists and most of them share a respect for Country music, this being a very common thread amongst these guys. I have decided to take the windy road of country music for the next couple of issues and spend some time drawing from this genre of music. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about country music? Is it Boots, Horses and Hats? Or twang and Telecasters? We are going to take a brief look at the origins and history of country music.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN? It has roots in traditional folk music, Celtic music, blues and gospel and evolved rapidly in the 1920s It became an American art form of stories, farms lost, wives lost and then came the cowboy all dressed up, good looking and out to save the world, almost a look of hope. Two of America’s greatest selling artists, namely Elvis Presley and Garth Brooks, were country singers with Elvis heading more into Rock ‘n Roll. Country has remained a huge genre due to the fact that it has evolved over and over again, from Elvis to Shania Twain and fiddles to electric guitars and it’s a genre that is
going to be around for a long time. Country music has managed to cross into sub genres, like pop, folk, bluegrass, rock, country swing, and many more. Like many other styles it has developed into many things including its own line dancing; don’t knock it until you have tried it, I have done it at a party once and I have to say that everybody had fun. The Nashville sound took country to a multi million dollar industry under the direction of producers and people like Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and many others. I’m not sure if they envisioned it to become what it has become today, however the music industry it what it is.
INSTRUMENTS Drums – Were not originally used in Country music, however they found their way in. The early Country musicians never liked the drum set because they felt it to be too loud and overpowering. Bass Guitar – In all forms and sizes. Accordion – Another instrument from Europe that found its way into the Country sound. Autoharp – Found its way into Country music since the 1920’s. Banjo – We all know the Banjo and it has had its place in Country music for a very long time. Dobro – A Guitar that just sounds amazing, used as a slide guitar but not exclusively. Fiddle – Always been one of the primary instruments in Country music, came to America from the British Isles. Guitar – Martin were one of the first builders of the Modern guitar
used by the early Country musicians. Harmonica – Another instrument that came from Europe and found its way into the country sound. Mandolin – An Italian instrument derived from the Lute. Piano – Played a role in the beginnings of Country music. Pedal Steel – The Hawaiian sound that found its way into Country. Washboard – Wow what can I say about this one. Zither – Originally from the Middle East then taken to Europe and found its way to America. Undergoing development it emerged as the Appalachian Dulcimer. So to some up this section one has to draw a conclusion that Country music took instruments that were never intended to be used for this style of music. Once again it really shows the ingenuity of people and their music.
GUITARS AND SOUND The acoustic type guitars were always used in country and are still used today. Then came the Fender Company with its Telecaster first known as the Broadcaster and today the Tele seems to be the number one guitar used in Country Music. As far as sound goes, Bright clean amps are used and usually with a compressor which helps to get the pop sound and even notes. Having said this, although there is a specific country sound as just mentioned, it can also be a personal taste when it comes to gear.
RHYTHM Ok so let us play something; we will start with rhythm parts of country guitar and build our way up to single notes in later issues. Always remember that the type of rhythm you play should be determined by the band situation, if you have a bass guitarist then stay away from being bass heavy. It is so important for musicians to understand arrangement and know where they stand in the band as far as space is concerned. Here is a basic rhythm idea using alternating bass notes, this can be played at any tempo and can be tricky if played up tempo.
Each lesson will build on the next so make sure you can play this striking the correct notes and make sure that your volume is even. Try and play it using both acoustic and electric guitars. Take note that the rhythm is very busy so it might suit a small format band or solo. Next issue we will add to this rhythm and look at a couple other well known country guitar rhythm styles.
Copyright Kurt Slabbert | Bluenoise Productions firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Private Universe | RECORDING BASS: TO 'DI' OR NOT TO 'DI?' | words: Jonathan Pike
RECORDING BASS: To 'DI' or not to 'DI?’
ooking through my previous articles I realised that one instrument that I have not spoken much about is the bass guitar. Despite what you might think, capturing a great bass tone can be a tricky thing to achieve. The nature of low frequencies can often lead to an uncontrolled and muddy bass tone, there are however a couple of techniques you can use to ensure that you are getting the most out of your bass recordings. The first step to achieving a great bass recording is to have a good idea of what tone you are looking for. Each genre will have different requirements from the bass tone so make sure that you find some reference tracks of the same genre, listen to the tone on those tracks focusing on these points: is the bass played with a plectrum or is it finger picked, is the tone clean or distorted, is it punchy or rounded and mellow? Once you have a good idea of the tone you are after you will be able to make some choices in regards to what
gear you will need for the recording. Don’t neglect the tone settings on the guitar itself, if you can get the direct signal coming out of the bass sounding as close to the tone you are after you will have far less work to do with the rest of the gear. One of your first choices will be whether to record the bass through a DI or an amp; my recommendation is to use both as this gives you more choice when it comes to the mix (also you can always re-amp the DI signal at a later stage if you want to try some different amp choices). The DI is a good way to go if you don’t have a nice sounding room to record in as no room sound is captured. The DI sends a clean signal straight out of the guitar pickups so you will need a good quality bass guitar to get the best out of your DI. The quality of the DI itself is of course also important. Palmer make some very decent DI boxes that are affordable. If you have some money however, you don’t get much better than the REDDI tube DI by A-Design.
If you are going to record the bass played through an amp there are a number of factors to consider. Firstly the room acoustics come into play here so make sure that the amp is sounding how you want it to in the room before you put any mics in front of it. If your room doesn’t sound good you want to try and isolate the amp from the acoustics of the room by surrounding it with absorptive materials. You have tone settings on the amp itself so use those to fine tune the tone coming out of the amp, again you need to be working towards your desired tone so your gear choices will depend on that. The choice of amp and cabinet will in large part determine this tone so if you are looking for a nice big bass sound you will want to use a nice big bass amp coupled with a large diaphragm microphone. Place the mic a little distance away from the cabinet anywhere up to about a metre will do, this gives the low frequencies space to develop fully and will give you a nice, full low end. Using a smaller diaphragm mic and bringing the mic in a little closer will capture more of the higher frequency content in the sound. You can of course select a different amp or spend some time with the tone controls on the amp to help achieve your desired sound. I have gotten good results by using two different amps to capture two different tonal ranges; a large cabinet with a large diaphragm mic to capture the low frequencies and then running a split to a smaller amp with all the lows rolled off and the high mids accentuated and micing this up with a small diaphragm mic like a Shure SM57 or even a pencil condenser. By combining the DI signal and the miced up cabinet you will have a wide range of tones that you can blend and manipulate to create the bass tone required.
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Published on Aug 5, 2012
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