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G R E AT G E A R N E W S & R E V I E W S F O R M U S I C I A N S

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YAMAHA’s Grand New Showroom Reviews on...

Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer

Beyerdynamic BTG V71d Dynamic Vocal mic

Hardwire Stereo Phaser Samson Meteor USB Mic TC Electronic Toneprint Pedals

GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS TUTORIALS by ALAN RATCLIFFE | ALISTAIR ANDREWS| KURT SLABBERT & JON PIKE

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CONTENTS Proud Supporters of SA Music!

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EDITION 15 JUN/JUL ‘11

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Editors Note and Index Cover Feature: World of Yamaha Cover Feature: World of Yamaha Gear News Gear news Instrument Review: Beyerdynamic TG V71D TC Electronic's Toneprint Pedals HardWire SP-7 Stereo Phaser Instrument Review: Samson Meteor USB Microphone Instrument Review: Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer Instrument Review: Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer Industry Feature: Emendy Installs Avid Academy of Sound Graduation Ceremony Mediatech Guitar Maintenance with Alan Ratcliffe Play Better Bass with Alistair Andrews Play Better Bass with Alistair Andrews Play Better Guitar with Kurt Slabbert Play Better Guitar with Kurt Slabbert Your Private Universe with Jon Pike

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EDITOR’S NOTE ne word. Mediatech. Attend if you can. This year’s Mediatech Exhibition is shaping up to be a grand affair and if you are involved in music in any way at all – from bedroom DJ to aspiring guitarist, a professional maybe or a local band playing the circuit – you should make an effort to attend if you can. With many top companies displaying their products and services, plus workshops and networking, this is an important place to be in July. On page 28 you will find a FREE ticket to the event so this makes it even more appealing to attend. Yamaha has recently opened their brand new showroom and I was fortunate to get the grand tour. It is quite a sight to behold from the interesting, bold architecture to the flawless interiors, café, auditorium and of course all Yamaha products under one roof. Sergio visited them too and gives us the lowdown as our cover feature. Reviews by Alan, Kurt, Nic and Mat take us through some interesting gear both for live performance and studio use. Then we also have quite a bit of industry news this month with Academy of Sound’s graduation, Midi Music decking out Emendy College with Avid gear and the aforementioned Mediatech which I, once again, urge you to attend if you can. Finally towards the centre of the mag you’ll find the usual high standard of cool tutorials to push those creative boundaries. Speaking of gear don’t forget to keep an eye on the Muse website for daily tech news of new products, videos and other cool stuff. Find us @ www.museonline.co.za. Dave Mac


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FEATURE

By Sergio Pereira

World of Yamaha

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restige. Excellence. Hightech. Unique. These are just some of the superlatives that come to mind when trying to accurately describe B i d v e s t ’ s Wo r l d o f Ya m a h a , t h e n e w e s t showroom for the Japanese powerhouse brand Yamaha. In what is not just a first for South Africa, but also the world, Yamaha have put all their product lines under one extraordinary roof for your browsing convenience. No longer do you need to visit individual product stores because you can now look around for all your musical instruments, audio visual equipment, power products, motorbikes and intelligent machinery requirements in just one sole location.

All for one, and one for all Yamaha Music CEO, Mike HardyBrown, explains that the move was an expensive and ambitious exercise, but a sound long-term investment, as it will unquestionably assist in brand strength and brand building by putting all their divisions and franchises together; therefore, also giving Yamaha a

stronger marketplace presence. “There is now a lot of synergy with the service departments, and, in terms of sales and marketing, we’re all under o n e r o o f. I t m a k e s [ i n t e r n a l ] communication much easier, and, logistically, it has been quite an advantage for us.” From a customer perspective, Hardy-Brown believes that this building opens up the doors to a bigger and broader product range, as well as the esteemed and celebrated Yamaha lifestyle or culture. “It’ll create a higher demand for the Yamaha brand per se [not just the individual product lines]. We’ve already received a positive reaction, and hopefully it continues to create a bigger demand [for the brand].”

Live shows and events Viewable from the M1 highway (actually, it’s rather unmissable) and just a few minutes away from the business hub of Sandton, the extraordinary building is a marvel to behold, as the massive structure encompasses Yamaha’s core values of being first-class, modern and ahead of the pack in its striking appearance. It

consists of: a luxurious, spacious showroom with built-in sound systems (which can be controlled remotely via an iPad); a retail outlet for Yamaha branded clothing and accessories; a middle section coffee bar that can cater for 100-700 guests; a full industrial sized kitchen; specifically designed sound rooms for product testings; and a state of the art auditorium/theatre for approximately 200 people, which has already been christened by one of South Africa’s favourite rock bands, Prime Circle. Music fans are undoubtedly licking their lips at the possibility of more live events and functions in the future, and Hardy-Brown confirms that many more will be hosted in this professionally lighted, pitch-perfect theatre. “It’ll be [a] very regular [occurrence]. We have planned for it to be a commercial theatre, which is also rentable, so, we’re going to be having quite a few events and we are looking to feature a lot of bands and artists. The theatre will also be used for our internal launch events. For example, if we’re launching a motorbike or new piano or Clavinova, it’s going to be used for that, as well.”


“This is a first for South Africa and the world. There's nothing else like it…” Show and tell There is hardly anything more frustrating than walking into a showroom and not being able to find an in-house specialist who can answer all your relevant questions and product queries – especially when you are looking to part with some hard earned moolah. However, valuing the “knowledge is power” ethos and offering nothing but the best in customer service, Yamaha’s inhouse music specialist is a true master of his craft, who is more than capable of answering all your questions and perhaps teach you a thing or two. “On the music side, we have a qualified classical pianist, who took part in various Japanese competitions, and is very knowledgeable on piano, synthesisers, keyboards and instruments right across the board. He is really a specialist in his field,” Hardy-Brown declares. Looking around the music section, it’s certain to become a little piece of heaven for musicians, hobbyists, collectors and occasional jammers, as it showcases the “Rolls Royce” of guitars, pianos, drums and other instruments. Apart from the retail store on the premises, which sells official Yamaha branded clothing and accessories (the store also has the official bike of multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi on display; just for all you racing and bike enthusiasts), the showroom does not sell directly to the public. Hardy-Brown explains how the showroom works and what the process would be if you wanted to purchase a product. “Firstly, we run the customer through all the features and functions of the product, explain the significance of the brand, and then link them with one of the retail outlets in the customer’s area. So, for example, if someone comes in from Limpopo, we’d put him/her in touch with one of our dealers up there, finalise the deal telephonically, and then leave it up to the customer to decide if he/she wants to pay here or there.” In other words, Bidvest’s World of Yamaha is a sophisticated showroom and not a walk-in, buy off the floor retail outlet – so, don’t go there and plan on buying guitar strings or something…

Revolutionary In this day and age, the word “revolutionary” gets thrown around quite a bit, but there really is no other way to describe Bidvest’s World of Yamaha. “This building is really unique, and can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. We’re the only agents [worldwide] that have everything that Yamaha manufactures – from motorbikes to boats to grand pianos to audio systems to even robotics. This is a first for South Africa and the world. There’s nothing else like it,” Hardy-Brown concludes. Without a doubt, Bidvest’s World of Yamaha will change the way in which you look at other showrooms in the future – it’s simply not about glass panels and shiny showroom floors anymore; it’s about the entire experience… The Yamaha experience. Remember, Bidvest’s World of Yamaha is a high class showroom, not a retail outlet. Bidvest’s World of Yamaha 19 Eastern Service Road | Eastgate | Marlboro | Johannesburg | Tel: 011 259-7700 www.yamaha.co.za

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FEATURE


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GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS

For daily gear, instrument and industry news visit museonline.co.za

Samson Releases Q2U Microphone Recording Pack Samson Technologies has released the Q2U Microphone Recording Pack with HP20 headphones. Samson designed the Q2U as a quality microphone to meet all live sound and digital audio recording needs. A dynamic handheld microphone, the Q2U features both an XLR output and a USB I/O allowing it to be plugged directly into a live sound console or any computer with a USB input. The microphone’s on/off switch controls the XLR output, allowing anyone to perform in a live setting and record to a nearby computer or laptop. The Q2U also features a built-in 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack output with volume control for no-latency monitoring during recording. Plus, a cardioid pickup pattern and a quality A/D converter with a 16 bit, 48 kHz sampling rate. Distributor: Audiosure | 011 790-4600 | 021 555-1617 | 031 569-9260 | 051 430-4455 | www.audiosure.co.za

Taylor Guitars Announces new Limited Edition Signature Series Serj Tankian T5 Model One of rock’s most compelling frontmen, Serj Tankian helped propel the band System of a Down to multi-platinum success from the late ’90s through 2006. The band’s exotic musical influences, which drew in part from the members’ shared Armenian-American heritage, filtered into their hardcore/thrash metal/avantprogressive rock sensibilities. Their resulting sound was fiercely original, marked by dynamic mood shifts that juxtaposed ethereal melodies with pummelling speed riffs. Together with Serj’s socially conscious lyrics and soaring vocals, System’s mix of tension and release connected deeply with listeners and earned widespread critical acclaim. The band’s five studio records have sold more than 16 million copies, and their prodigious artistic output peaked with the double studio releases Mesmerize and, later, Hypnotize in 2005, making them the first rock act in chart history to debut two No. 1 new studio albums in a calendar year. Distributed by Marshall Music | South: 011 435-1631 Woodmead: 011 804-1362 | Cape Town: 021 426-6325 Midlands: 033 347-2553 | Hillcrest: 031 765-8450 www.marshallmusic.com

Wild and Marr's JBL Vertec Workshop Wild and Marr’s first and official 3 day JBL Vertec training course took place in the second week of May in conjunction with the opening of their new in-house training room in Johannesburg. Alex Sanfilippo, one of SA’s best system engineers and a true Harman ambassador, compiled a unique South African, JBL Technical Vertec syllabus. The syllabus is made up of three modules of which module 1, ‘JBL Vertec User Fundamentals’ is currently being taught. The aim of the course is twofold. That is to enhance and empower current and potential Vertec system owners, users and engineers and to maximize and optimize deployment of the JBL Vertec Touring Line Array Loudspeaker System. The attendees were enthusiastic from the start of the course and by the third day were impressed with the benefits and knowledge the workshop was able to provide. Wild & Marr | 011 974-0633 | 021 787-9378 | 031 564-3877 | www.wildandmarr.co.za


PreSonus Announces Budget-Priced StudioLive 16.0.2 Digital

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GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS

Following up on the runaway success of the award-winning StudioLive™ 16.4.2 and StudioLive 24.4.2, PreSonus™ has announced the new StudioLive 16.0.2 digital recording and performance mixer. Compact, portable, and rackmountable (optional), StudioLive 16.0.2 is ideal for small bands, personal studios, intimate clubs, small churches, community organizations, rehearsal spaces—any application where you need a compact, high-quality live-mixing and recording system at a bargain price and don't need advanced features such as mixer subgroups and channel inserts. The StudioLive 16.0.2 offers the same superb audio quality as the two larger StudioLive models, with high-headroom, 32-bit floating-point processing; critically acclaimed XMAX™ mic preamps; and 24-bit, 48 kHz digital converters with 118 dB dynamic range. The new mixer also sports a pair of programmable, stereo, 32-bit floating-point effects processors, loaded with reverb and delay presets and assigned to dedicated FX buses. [Read more @ www.museonline.co.za] Distributed by Tuerk Music Technologies | 011 792-8402| www.tuerkmusic.co.za

Hammond launches new light weight, full-featured organ SK-1 & SK-2 The Hammond SK-1 is the first “Ultra-Portable” organ in its history, weighing in at just 15 pounds, and the first Hammond portable to feature a wide range of Extra Voices. The “Drawbar” section is a complete Hammond Organ with all the traditional features: Real Mechanical Drawbars, Chorus Vibrato, Touch-Response Percussion, and the most authentic Digital Leslie we have ever offered. “Vx” and “Farf” combo organ models are also available, as well as an assortment of fine classical Pipe Organ voices derived from our 935 Church Organ. Acoustic and Electric Pianos, Clavs, Accordions, Vintage String Synth, Wind Instruments and Tuned Percussion round out the specification. The SK Series aren’t clones of other Hammond Organs even if all the classic features that make a Hammond are included: Real Mechanical Drawbars, “Waterfall” Keyboard, Touch Response Percussion, Chorus Vibrato. In two words you can say that your eyes see portable but your ears hear and your touch says B-3. Distributed by Tradelius Music Group | 031 502-3080 | www.tradelius.co.za

Yamaha's MOTIF Xf8 Play and Perform - The Best Sounds Just Got Better • the 741 MB of internal Wave ROM features ultra-realistic pianos and acoustic instrument samples, and the latest hip hop sounds. • The Motif XF Series features a sophisticated 8 element synth architecture with XSpanded articulation and 18 different filter types let you shape your sound anyway you want. The 8 front panel knobs and sliders make it easy to do all of this even in real time. • 1664 Voices and 97 Drum Kits put more sounds at your fingertips than ever before. • A Category Search function to make the sounds you need easy to find. Create and Produce - Lightning Fast music production tools • 512 Performances combine 4 Voices and 4 Intelligent Arpeggios so you can instantly create backing tracks with Yamaha’s intuitive Direct Performance Recording feature. • A 16 track Integrated Sampling Sequencer and the built-in 128 MB of sample RAM facilitate • The loading of new sample libraries • Adding of Vocals and Guitars to your MOTIF Sequences • Slicing Audio Loops to playback at any tempo • The use of Real Time Loop Remix to create new grooves • Easy back and forth movement between the loop based Pattern Mode and tape machine style Song Mode. • an integrated Yamaha Digital Mixer features a 3 band EQ for each part, 8 Dual Insertion effects, 2 System Effects and overall Master effect and Master EQ, which lets you create finalized mixes of your songs. • Direct to USB recording &playback lets you record your final mixes as CD quality • wav files to any connected USB memory device. You can play back .wav files created on your computer on the XF. Distributed by Global Music | (011) 259-7700 | www.yamahaproaudio.co.za


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GEAR REVIEW

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Beyerdynamic TG V71d Live Dynamic Vocal Microphone

By Nic Roos

“Built like a tank, the V71d has a hypercardiod polar-pattern, progressively damped capsule suspension, rear-attenuation and a humbuck coil to avoid unwanted stage and handling noise...”

stablished in the 1920’s, Beyerdynamic is well known in the recording world for their legendary microphones. When it comes to microphones for the sweaty, loud and bumpy world of live sound there are many good old workhorses such as the ubiquitous Shure SM85 and entering this market requires bringing something new to the table. This is what Beyerdynamic aims to do with the release of their Tour Gear series, which is aimed at the touring live musician and is set to match the quality of their famous M 88 and M 160 studio mics. The TG V71d is a dynamic vocal mic designed to counter the many problems associated with live sound such as feedback, unintelligibility and bleed, and to deliver clear, hi-quality sound on extremely loud stages, making this mic ideal for rock and metal gigs.

ANATOMY Built like a tank, the V71d has a hypercardiod polar-pattern, progressively damped capsule suspension, rear-attenuation and a hum-buck coil to avoid unwanted stage and handling noise, and feedback. It is optimised for very close miking, compensating for proximity effect. This means less colouration when singing with one’s lips touching the mic. A major feature is Beyerdynamic’s Sound Channeling Technology or SCT which is supposedly responsible for the “Beyerdynamic” sound. It involves specific sound geometry behind the diaphragm, special acoustic fabric, a two stage treble resonator for optimal high-frequency reproduction and special sound holes for a frequencyindependent polar pattern.

SOUNDS A mic check over a PA revealed very little self noise, probably due to the hum-bucking coil, and while the

frequency response shows a considerable boost between 5-10 kHz, I could not hear any over-hyped presence or harshness in that area. Further tests in a simulated gig situation, (actually a recorded rehearsal) showed that the V71d has a very natural tone. The singer was always intelligible, not unlike a Shure SM58 although a little smoother in tone, less susceptible to plosives and a lot less handling noise. Designed for very close miking, it still sounds very natural with the mic right up close. Impressively it handles a lot of level from a singer without much change in tone. Whether or not ‘SCT’ is just a marketing catchphrase, something makes this mic very smooth and natural yet very present. Some may say it lacks colour but neutrality is good in live situations. Often in a live mix one finds the need to compensate for a vocal mic’s tone with EQ but with the V71d I found myself EQ-ing to bring out certain nuances in the voice, which was rather nice. Feedback was not an issue and took quite a lot of PA volume without a peep. The off-axis bleed was impressively low even with excessively loud drums nearby thanks in part to the frequencydependant polar pattern. The mic’s Achilles Heel, however, is that its off-axis noise rejection and tone are greatly reduced when in the hands of anyone who learned their mic technique from watching Hip-Hop and Hardcore videos. This may be a little unfair, as any mic‘s performance suffers when one covers the rear phase ports by holding on to the capsule, but in the V71d’s case it is particularly noticeable. It is a minor point but one worth mentioning considering the number of people who don’t know how to hold a microphone properly.

is debatable but it is, in my opinion, sonically superior. From a performer’s perspective it allows greater expressive freedom thanks to its neutral tone, substantial noise-rejection, reduced proximityeffect and wide dynamic range. The TGV71d is a performer and live engineer’s dream and would be of great value on tour and a worthy addition to ones arsenal of sonic tools.

SUMMARY While certainly not the cheapest mic for its application, it is incredibly solid and will last a long time. Whether it lasts as long as the virtually indestructible SM58

Distributor: Technology Innovated Distribution (TID) | +27 10 5000 111 | www.tidistribution.co.za Suggested Retail price: R 2,578.00 inc. VAT.


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TC Electronic TonePrint Guitar Effect Pedals

By Kurt Slabbert

REVIEW

Recently I had a chance to play around with three of the new TonePrint guitar pedals from TC Electronic.

Construction At first glance the TonePrint pedals each look like a mini brick and picking it up I couldn’t help thinking “okay I could build houses out of these if I had enough of them.” They have a steel chassis and are built really solidly. There is one screw at the bottom of the pedal that can be opened with any coin and gives you easy access to the battery compartment, so from a build perspective these pedals are great and I reckon they would be flight proof if you are a travelling musician. The switch on the pedal looks to be high quality and should sustain many hours of being stood on. The 3 stomp boxes I tested were; the Flashback delay and looper, the Hall of Fame reverb and the MojoMojo overdrive...

Hall of Fame Reverb The controls on the reverb unit include; tone, decay FX level and a rotary knob to select the type of reverb you would like to use. There are 10 different reverbs to choose from. There is also an option called TonePrint where you can download some presets of other well known musicians via a USB cable. This is a stereo pedal so there are 2 ins and 2 outs. There is also a pre delay long/short switch; this changes the time between the direct sound and the reverb. The Pedal runs off a 9v battery that is inserted by removing one screw in the back of the pedal. Here you will also find 2 on/off switches which switch between true bypass and buffered bypass mode. Buffered bypass works well if you have a long cable and don’t want to lose quality. The actual sound quality of the reverb is what you would expect from TC Electronic; exceptionally warm and the guitar tone really comes through.

Flashback Delay Pedal The Flashback delay pedal has a decay, feedback, FX level and rotary knob; it’s also a stereo delay pedal with 2 ins and 2 outs. There are 10 delay choices as well as the TonePrint option mentioned

earlier. This pedal also has a switch where you can choose between the rhythm of your delay. It has 3 settings; a quarter note setting, a dotted 8th note setting and a quarter plus a dotted 8th note setting. So first of all with all these options you end up with an extremely versatile stomp box. You can also set the tempo by holding down the switch and set the timing by playing it on the guitar which is very different to the tap tempo that most other pedals have but is also very effective. The quality of the sounds are great and once again deliver the kind of quality TC are renowned for.

MojoMojo Overdrive The MojoMojo has drive, level, bass and treble knobs as well as a voice switch; when the voice switch is in the up position the signal is true to the input, with the switch in down position you get a bass boost. The pedal runs off a 9v battery and once again one screw in the back of the pedal allows easy access to the battery compartment. This pedal definitely has tube amp characteristics where the sound cleans up by lowering the volume of your guitar. I must say I was using single coils and I also found that running the bass and treble at 12 o’clock on the pedal worked best with my amp which was a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. I was running the level at about 1 o’clock and the drive at about 11 30 and found this to be a great setting controlling the drive from my volume control on my guitar.

Hall of Fame Reverb

Flashback Delay Pedal

Be sure to go check these pedals out – there is a whole range to choose from and they are extremely robust and high quality products. Distributed by Prosound (Pty) Ltd Tel: 0861 4SOUND www.prosound.co.za

MojoMojo Overdrive


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By Nic Roos

GEAR REVIEW

HardWire SP-7 Stereo Phaser

Any pedal where at least half the emulated models sound great and are usable is a winner in my book and in this case each model is rich and clear.

H

ardWire is a relatively new high-end guitar pedal manufacturer that until recently was distributed under the Digitech name. HardWire straddle the boutique and mainstream markets, producing rugged, hi-end digital effects pedals that, as their name implies, all have true hardwired bypass and constant high-voltage rails to maintain tonal clarity. They have become quite popular locally. Their latest design is the SP-7 Stereo Phaser which offers seven classic phaser types, with true stereo I/O and with a taptempo speed control.

ANATOMY & SOUNDS The SP 7 is housed in a boss-style stomp box with 4 controls: Speed – sets the LFO rate. Depth – sets the phase depth. Modify – sets the bias, feedback and sensitivity depending on the type of phase selected. Type – sets the phase type. Phase Models: 2 Stage – A smooth, subtle vintage phase sound that I quite enjoy. 4 Stage – Reminiscent of the MXR Phase 90 or EHX Small Stone, depending on which way you set the modify control. Modern – A very deep and wide phase reminiscent of an MXR Phase 100 or a Mutron Bi-Phase depending again on the Modify setting. Think Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd or early Smashing Pumpkins. Boutique – If you’ve ever heard Incubus you will recognise this type of phasing immediately. It is very deep and swirly. I am not a big fan of this sound but it is well represented with richness and colour. 10 Stage – Similar to Boutique in its depth but sounds more like the guitar is trying to talk to you with pronounced vowel type sounds when playing on the lower strings. Higher up the fret board it adds a nice colour to distorted leads. Envelope – Each note triggers the LFO starting frequency allowing the phase to be triggered with each note much like an auto-wah does, although a lot more tasteful and subtle. Dynamic – Interacts with your playing dynamics. Allows you to strum hard and hear no phasing then play delicately to bring out the swirl. What strikes me about the SP 7 is that even at full depth there is little to no loss of definition, unlike even some classic phasers. It is, after all, a high-end digital unit and the sound is very clean yet at the same time very rich and detailed. Even though the unit offers a variety of phaser types, each type has a wide spectrum of sounds thanks to the great range of the Speed, Depth and Modify controls. A very unusual feature, especially for a modulation type effect is the tap tempo function which, as on many modern delay pedals allows hands free control of tempo matching during a gig. On the SP 7 this is achieved by holding down the engage switch for 3 seconds, tapping the tempo, and then

holding down the switch for another 3 seconds. The retained definition that sounds great in mono really lets it down in stereo. No epic stereo swirls, or crazy psychedelic whooshes - just a polite jitter between speakers. There was, in fact very little difference in modulation between left and right.

SUMMARY The SP 7 is an exceptionally good stomp box... in mono. Any pedal where at least half the emulated models sound great and are usable is a winner in my book and in this case each model is rich and clear. It may be too clean sounding for analogue-Nazis, but the retained note definition is a strong plus for me. The Tap Tempo function is also an ingenious addition. That said, this is marketed as a stereo phaser and as such it is far too subtle for my liking. In any case, there are very few guitarist I can think of who are willing to lug around a second amp to play in stereo. The SP 7 gets a big A+ for sound quality and flexibility but a D- for neglecting its main feature.

Distributor: Rockit Distribution 021-511 1800 | Suggested retail: R 1,795.00


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REVIEW

By Matthew De Nobrega

Samson Meteor USB Microphone

Usability is excellent, and the zero-latency monitoring through the headphones works perfectly

T

he Samson Meteor Mic is a very good-looking piece of kit designed to offer high quality large-diaphragm condenser recording in a small and convenient package – one of an expanding range of ‘prosumer’ items targeting ‘musicians on the move'. First impressions out the box are very good – the Meteor is solidly constructed, chrome plated and very well designed, with all the controls easily accessible. The fold-out legs are stable and tweakable, and make it very easy to set the Meteor up on any flat surface. The microphone can also be mounted on a stand for more 'traditional' recording. Connection to the computer is via USB, and there is a headphone out for monitoring. The front panel has a power light (which doubles as a clip indicator), a mute button and a volume control for the headphones – all you need for recording on the run. Installation is trivial – for Windows 7 everything happens automatically, and XP requires a couple of mouse clicks before the automatic installation kicks off. I wanted to get a rough guitar/vocal

harshness, and the vocals have a ‘weightiness' that will be excellent for voice-overs. Handling of plosives and wind noise is about the same as the Nt1a (without pop-shield) – fine as long as you don't overdo things or get too close. & Low register vocals tend to get a little muddy. Proximity effect is well judged though, with no boominess or ugly resonances. & Results on acoustic guitar were very serviceable – not as bright and open as the Nt1a, but fairly close to the source and with a pleasing overall tone. I would have preferred slightly more detailed transients, but for generalpurpose use this sort of thicker tone is more versatile. sketch down, so I fired up Live, selected the Meteor as my input, and was ready to record. I ran a Rode Nt1a - Focusrite pre as my comparison setup – many times more expensive than the Meteor, but the sort of rig that Samson would be looking to replace. Usability is excellent, and the zerolatency monitoring through the headphones works perfectly. The recording level is set in Windows audio setup – I found this a little unusual but it works well enough. Comparing recordings between the test microphones led to a number of observations:

& Overall presentation is fairly neutral – with less air and sparkle than the Rode. This is great for spoken word or laying down simple ‘authentic' rock tracks, but it would be difficult to get the vocal to cut through in busier pop mixes. & For medium to high register vocals the Meteor sounded great. This would be its bread-and-butter application, and it is obviously set up accordingly. The tone is good, there is detail without

Unfortunately for Cubase users there is a bit of a snag – the plug-and-play audio standard that makes the Meteor so easy to install does not provide ASIO functionality, so it's not possible to use the Meteor with newer versions of Cubase (which only use ASIO). There may be a workaround for this but it didn't work for me and a quick Google search shows I'm not the only one. So basically the Meteor does what it is designed to do extremely well – it's very compact, looks great, is easy to install and set up, and is capable of making some very good recordings in its ‘design role' – sitting on a table wherever you happen to be, plugged into your laptop, capturing whatever you lay down. The headphone output is an added bonus and turns it into a portable sound card. It shows some limitations when you try to get too much out of it, and won't replace a good largediaphragm condenser/pre combo for studio pop vocals just yet, but for the price it sounds brilliant and fulfils it's design role admirably.

Price: R 995.00 | Supplier: Audiosure (Pty) Ltd | Tel: (011) 790 4600 | Web: www.audiosure.co.za


D.A.S. Audio Loudspeaker components have been a part of the D.A.S. product compressions drivers, tweeters and horns are the result of constant D.A.S. Components power

Speakers 12G

15G

R 1,883.00

R 2,083.00

* 12 Inch * Low-Mid frequency loudspeaker * 1400 W program power * 4” Voice coil * Ferrite magnetic structure

* 15 Inch * Low-Mid frequency loudspeaker * 1400 W program power * 4” Voice coil * Ferrite magnetic structure

15SX R 2,350.00

* 15 Inch * Very low frequency loudspeaker * 1600 W program power * 4” voice coil * Ferrite magnet structure

Compression Drivers M-30

M-50

M-75

R 758.00

R 1,042.00

R 2,350.00

* 100 W program power * 1.75" Titanium diaphragm * 1" exit * Ferrite magnet

* 100 W program power * 1.75" Titanium diaphragm * 1" exit * Ferrite magnet

*160 W program power driver * 3" Titanium diaphragm * 1.5" exit * Ferrite magnet

For trade enquiries or to find your closest retailer tel. 011 2503280 | luis@hybrid.co.za | bernard@hybrid.co.za | marco@hybrid.co.za | www.hybrid.co.za | www.hybrid.co.za


Components line from the beginning. An impressive range of cone transducers, research and development. Designed and manufactured in-house, systems all over the world.

Speakers 18G

18SX

R 2,208.00

* 18 Inch * Low frequency loudspeaker * 1400 W program power * 4” Voice coil * Ferrite magnet structure

Horns

R 2,498.00

* 18 Inch * Very low frequency loudspeaker * 1600 W program power * 4” voice coil * Ferrite magnet structure

18LXN R 3,608.00

* 18 Inch * Long-Excursion loudspeaker * 2000 W program power * 4” voice coil * Neodymium magnet structure

BC-1

BC-5

BP-92

R 250.00

R 350.00

R 700.00

* Constant directivity horn * 80º x 60º dispersion * 1" throat

* Constant directivity horn * 90º x 60º dispersion * 1" throat

* Constant directivity horn * 90º x 60º dispersion * 1.5” throat


Roland GR-55

muse | twenty

REVIEW

by Alan Ratcliffe

R

oland has long been one of the fore-runners in the guitar synth market, but in recent years their offerings such as the GI-20 and GR-20 have scaled back features and limited flexibility in an attempt to make them easier to use. The new Roland GR-55 guitar synthesiser is not only a return to form, but has potential to be a real game changer. Roland are marketing the GR-55 as an all-in-one solution, offering GR guitar synthesis with updated sounds as well as VG-series guitar, effect and amp modelling, all in one relatively small floor unit. For many users with complex setups this is an attractive idea, theoretically replacing multiple guitars, guitar synths, amps and effects units.

First impressions The first thing you notice about the GR-55 is the size – at only 40 cm wide and 24.5 cm deep it has a much smaller footprint than most other Roland/Boss floor units. The chassis and footpedal are made of steel and the footswitches are the familiar, rugged Roland/Boss ones. The large rotational control knob is flanked by small but solid feeling press buttons that together act as your main navigation and editing tool. Of special note is the display, which is massive – taking up nearly a third of the top surface space. The rear panel sports a fairly comprehensive array of inputs and outputs for connection, which are all firmly bolted onto the metal chassis as well as a power switch (flanked by standoffs to avoid accidental switching). Notably missing from the rear panel are jacks for external control (additional expression pedals and switches), no dedicated ¼” guitar input and no effects loops. My one big gripe with the construction is the familiar, but unwelcome external “wall-wart” power supply, where I had hoped to see the pro level IEC mains “kettle plug” power receptacle.

In Use The operating system is relatively intuitive and easy to figure out for a fairly complicated system, although there is a lot of room for improvement. The way the left/right, page up/down buttons work is sometimes confusing and takes a bit of getting used to. The mass of screen real

estate is sometimes underutilised and scrolling through longer lists of parameters can be tedious. The lack of dedicated bank up and down buttons is an annoyance and the similar lack of control pedal inputs means that you cannot even add your own foot pedals to do this. Factory settings are however set so that the up/down buttons on the GK-3 changes banks.

Tracking The most important quality of a guitar synth is how well it tracks your playing and follows guitar playing techniques without glitches. Out of the box, the GR-55 tracked very well indeed with the included GK-3 pickup mounted to my Strat. Surprisingly, my Graph Tech Ghost piezo pickup guitar did not fare as well until I had spent some time setting parameters, but once I had tweaked a little, it tracked as well (but not better than) the GK-3. The setup has preset settings for all the major 13-pin systems available, which is nice, and there are a number of other options to tweak specifically to get the best tracking from a number of different guitars.

Sounds The real strength of the GR-55 is the ability to blend the synth, modelled guitar and normal guitar sounds together. It is especially nice to be able to use modelled bass sounds on the low strings (as modelling has no delay on low notes), together with synth patches on the higher strings. The preset sounds are the usual

hit-and-miss of weird and wonderful sounds with overblown guitar tones designed to show the capabilities of the unit. Thankfully, editing reveals a lot more flexibility and very usable bread-andbutter tones. Synthesizer sounds The synthesizer sounds themselves are good, definitely a newer set than those in the old GR-33, but still a little behind the times compared to the newest synths. However having over 900 tones gives you a wide range, covers all styles of music admirably. One thing that I was very disappointed not to find is an arpeggiator, which is a great tool for guitar synths, allowing the player to play sustained guitar chords while the synthesizer sound is arpeggiated behind it. Guitar modelling The guitar modelling tones are a scaleddown set of Roland’s VG tones, 40 in total covering electric, steel, nylon, resonator acoustics, banjo, sitar, resonator, bass as well as a range of analog modelled “synth” tones. Most sounds are quite good and usable, on a par with the VG-99 tones. The acoustic guitar models are a little disappointing, having far too much midrange close-miked tubbiness that I had to EQ out and “Body” settings had to be kept fairly low to avoid muddiness. The 12string setting on any modelled instrument is very nice and is very useful for adding bright, clear acoustic or electric guitar sounds.


Guitar Synth

muse | twenty one

REVIEW

by a MIDI sequencer, so it means recording the audio output if you want to use the sounds on the unit and no MIDI editing will be possible. Guitar Output – You can route the plain guitar sound or the modelled sound from the Guitar Out jack on the rear panel, enabling you to use other effects units or amps for these sounds

Final Conclusions

GR-55 Floorboard Editor Amplifier and speaker modelling If you are familiar with Roland’s amp modellers, you know what to expect here. While not exact copies of the amps they model, the amp modelling rather offers sounds “in the ballpark of…” with lots of editing options that allow you to tweak the sound to sit in the mix properly. This works especially well in this case, as the combined sounds from the GR-55 can be incredibly complex and you need to be able to tweak the guitar sounds to fit. The downside is that you do have to tweak a lot to find the best tones.

File playback & Looping The GR-55 also features a USB stick reader and can playback WAV files for backing tracks or practice. Playback can be started and stopped via the control pedal, but obviously at the expense of other functions such as hold or effect switching – and once again the lack of control pedal inputs doesn’t help. The looper is more than a little limited with only 20 seconds of recording time which is paltry compared to even the simplest loopers on the market.

Other features

Effects Effects are fairly simple and straightforward, but fairly limited. Each of the four source sounds can be routed through one of three signal paths, two of which have one selectable effect each, with a range effect choices. On top of that, there are also three sends for each path (delay, chorus and reverb) as well as a global EQ. Sound wise, they are mostly solid and useful.

USB connection – lets you connect to a computer to use a patch librarian software available from Roland, which allows you to backup your patches. Also, while there is no official editor yet, but there is a great third party freeware application called GR55FloorBoard, which does the job very well and is far easier to use than programming the unit via the front panel. MIDI output – The MIDI and USB outputs allow you to drive external synths and softsynths and tracking is still very good. For recording, there is one big limitation – the GR-55’s sounds cannot be played back

The big question is can you throw away all your other synth, effects and modelling units if you buy a GR-55? The answer depends on what you need. For many live playing situations, the GR-55 will do a very good job of handling all the tasks asked of it and keep setup very simple, compact and eminently portable. It is also a good upgrade step from the older GR-30 and GR33 units. However for those advanced users utilising units like the VG-99 to their full extent, or those wanting the tonal purity of a real amp and effects setup for their guitar tones, it is more than a little limited. Also, players uncomfortable with complicated effects units are going to find the GR-55 too complex for their tastes (for them, the GR20 is still a good option). Overall, the GR-55 is lots of fun and is a step forward in guitar synth technology – so much so that I bought my review unit within a day of trying it and was gigging with it two days later. More importantly, it is showing the way to go and I for one am hoping that Roland will bring out an advanced version with more powerful amp and effects modelling.

Features .

.

. . . . .

Up to four sound source at a time: two synth tones, guitar modelling and normal guitar inputOver 900 of Roland’s latest fully editable PCM sounds, including pianos, organs, strings, vintage synths, and much more COSM guitar and amp modelling Two effects engines, plus global reverb, chorus, and delay effects An onboard looper Built-in USB audio player with foot control Available with or without GK-3 divided pickup

Suggested Retail Price: R 9,995.00 Distributor: Musical Distributors | 021-799-4950 | www.bothner.co.za


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www.audiosure.co.za


muse | twenty four

SPECIAL FEATURE

R

ecently MIDI Music, the authorised dealer for Avid Technologies’ products in South Africa, helped in the opening of new class-rooms at the Emendy College by installing a range of Avid’s products.

EMENDY Sound & Music Technology College installs Avid products in their new Student Sound Lab.

Emendy’s Martin Willemse explains... Why did you pick Avid products for the college? Firstly, we believe in the Avid products 100%. The brand is well known and used in most studios all over the world. If we teach our students on the selected brands we are confident to send them out in the industry well equipped to work in almost any music setup environment. What is the training room all about? The new computer lab contains 16 student workstations and a lecturer’s teaching workstation. Each student’s station contains an iMac, M-box mini, pair of M-audio Q40 Headphones, Protools Key studio keyboard controller and Pro-tools 9 software. What classes are going to be taught there? As from 2011 EMENDY Sound & M u s i c Te c h n o l o g y C o l l e g e i s registered as a Pro-Tools accredited training Centre and students are mainly taught Sound Engineering as well as to digitally produce different kinds and styles of music.

Emendy Music

Midi Music

012 342-1177 www.emendymusic.co.za

JHB: 011 417-3400 DBN: 031 -5643886


eight

muse | twenty six

SPECIAL FEATURE

Academy of Sound Engineering attracts record sponsor support for 2010 Graduation class

Tanya Von Abo, top overall Academy of Sound Engineering diploma student for 2010 together with John Silver (left) and Chris Andrews (Right) from Audiosure, the Sponsor of her prizes for Top Student.

“The 2010 students were a very special group, and we were all thrilled by the level of support we received from our generous sponsors...�

A

t a glittering graduation ceremony held in April at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg, 77 students were conferred with their Sound Engineering diploma's by academic board head and Council for Higher Education member, Professor Zak Nel. The class of 2010, specialising in such disciplines as Live Sound, Music Production, Broadcasting and Audio Post Production for picture, was special in two ways. First, the group included the highest number of graduates focusing on multiple electives: 20 specialised in two, and a record 3 specialised in three elective areas. Secondly, the outstanding students in the class of 2010 attracted almost R 200,000 in prizes and bursaries from the Academy of Sound Engineering and its corporate sponsors. The sponsors, representing many of South Africa's leading audio retailers and distributors, included Wild & Marr, Pro Sound, Audiosure, Tadco, Segma, AVL Distribution, TOMS, Spescom and Music Connection. Several of these organisations have enjoyed a long-term relationship with South Africa's premier audio training institution. Spokesperson from Audiosure, Mr Chris Andrews stated, " Having our brands and products exposed to and used by the students at the ASE, as well as forging a solid, long-term relationship with the institution, is very important to us. As a private institution, they routinely produce the best educated sound professionals for our growing market, and we are happy to be able to support them in their endeavours in any and every way we can." The prizes sponsored by all of the various Retailers and Distributors included some of the world's best microphones, audio interfaces, workstation and plug-in software, mixers and instruments. Keynote speaker at the graduation Ivor Haarburger, inspired the students with a lengthy litany of South Africa's most famous audio success stories. Speaking on behalf of ASE, head of marketing George Hattingh declared, "The evening was a great success! The 2010 students were a very special group, and we were all thrilled by the level of support we received from our generous sponsors to help make the event so exciting and rewarding for our top performers."

Nick Matzukis (AVL Distribution) with Willem van der Loo Top student Live practical projects

Darren Durbach (Left) from Wild and Marr and Maldwyn Greenwood (Right) From SEGMA, with Jon Awe Top Student in Audio/Post Production practical Projects

Jon Pentreath (Prosound) with Rayne Ramsden Top overall Student in the Live Sound Reinforcement elective


Music and Beyond with the Mediatech 2011 Exhibition muse | twenty eight

SPECIAL FEATURE

20-22 July at the Coca-Cola dome

A

s South African artists chip away at the international arena with notable inroads having been made in recent years by groups such as Die Antwoord, Goldfish, The Parlotones, Black Coffee, Arno Carstens and many others, the musical landscape back home is burgeoning to say the least. More and more people are picking up guitars, learning to DJ or forming bands as we all look to explore our creative side. A clear indication of the popularity in this sector is the large crowds surrounding the musical demonstrations at the last Mediatech Africa Expo two years ago. Africa's top suppliers of equipment and services allied to this segment are exhibiting at Mediatech Africa, which takes place from 20-22 July at the CocaCola dome in Northriding where South Africa’s advanced technology trade expo will exhibit the latest in technology and equipment, without the inherent cost of visiting overseas exhibitions. “There is always something new, always new technology ” says Mediatech Africa’s Exhibition Director Simon Robinson. “The proactive and strategic marketing of the expo, its exhilarating atmosphere and the clear structure of the exhibition makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. These factors, coupled with excellent exhibitors, and interactive workshops and demos are what make Mediatech Africa such a successful trade exhibition.” “We’ve chosen to exhibit at Mediatech Africa this year as it is the biggest audio visual expo in Africa and provides a lot exposure” says Wynand Mans of EMENDY Sound and Music Technologies who specialise in the improvement of South African music and entertainment standards via education. “We are a music technology college, production and recording studio as well as a music technology shop”. He continues, “We exhibited at the previous Mediatech Africa to promote the College and it was a big success and this year we’ll be exhibiting fully functional workstations enabling us to run workshops of our course material to interested parties”.

“...excellent exhibitors, and interactive workshops and demos are what make Mediatech Africa such a successful trade exhibition.” Rui Valentim, High Tech Product Manager of MIDI Music, a division of TOMS Sound and Music (Pty) Ltd is also a previous exhibitor. “Exhibitions like these are normally a long term investment” he says. Valentim believes that this year his company will benefit from the exposure of the AVID product portfolio, however Midi Music are also agents for Pro Tools, M-Audio, Genelec, Mackie, QSC, Roland, Ibanez, Tama and Marshall, some of which will be on display. This biennial trade exhibition will showcase broadcast, film and production; professional AV, sound, lighting, staging and rigging; DJ and professional music equipment; system integration; animation, new media and web; satellite and signal; computer music and production tools; and musical instrument sectors. The diverse programme will include live demonstrations, workshops, and a business matchmaking programme. Visitors will be able to preregister and be matched to relevant exhibitors. Meetings will then be facilitated between interested parties, allowing exhibitors to engage with visitors on a more personal level. If you are involved in any aspect of the music industry, from bedroom DJ or aspiring musician, to sound reinforcement, studio engineering etc, no matter how or where you fit in, as a Muse Magazine reader you want to visit Mediatech this year. We insist! Which is why we’re offering you a FREE Entrance ticket right here to attend and soak up all the action, the workshops, the products on display and of course the networking opportunities. This is not to be missed. See you there.

For further info go to www.mediatech.co.za


eight

muse | thirty

TUTORIAL

by Alan Ratcliffe

S

ome of the most difficult to understand effects processors are dynamics processors such as compressors, expanders, noise gates and limiters. While we all know effects like distortion, equalisers and reverbs and what they sound like, dynamics processors are not usually detectable unless they are used heavily.

What are "dynamics"? Dynamics are the differences in volume in a signal. Most sounds have parts which are, and stand out louder than others. A piece of music is "dynamic" if there are large differences between the quieter and louder parts. The difference between the quietest and the loudest parts of a sound is called the dynamic range. Take a look at the wave files below of: a distorted electric guitar on the left and an acoustic guitar track on the right:

While they both have the same peak level, the electric guitar track is denser, with less dynamics, while the acoustic is more dynamic. Sometimes you want to make a track more dynamic because a dynamically squashed track doesn't always stand out, while one with good dynamics will. Other times you may want a track less dynamic if the overall track is too quiet and you cannot raise the level without clipping.

What Compressors Do The basic function of a compressor is to alter the dynamics of a track. It does this by boosting the volume of the quiet parts and reducing the volume of the loud parts. The difference between the loud and quiet parts is lessened, so the track's dynamics are reduced helping it to "sit" in the mix so it is always audible, but never too loud. By lowering the dynamics, the overall track level can be boosted, and the track can be louder without distorting.

Dynamics Effects Part 1 – Compressors Compressor Controls Threshold The level above which the compressor starts working the volume. When the threshold set at its highest point, the compressor will not change the sound's volume. As the threshold is lowered, peaks will trigger the volume reduction effect. Ratio Ratio is how much the volume will be reduced. A ratio of 2:1 will reduce the volume of peaks crossing the threshold by a factor of two - this means that a peak 5 dB above the threshold level will be reduced to only 2.5 dB above the threshold level. A ratio of 5:1 and the peaks will have their volume reduced by a factor of five - the same peak will now be only 1dB above the threshold level. Attack Attack is the time it takes before the compressor reduces the volume. A longer attack time lets more of the peak through before compression. Release The time it takes before the compressor allows the volume to return to normal after the peak has fallen below the threshold.

Compressing this track results in the following, which has a more even volume:

Note: I used more compression than I normally would to make the effect obvious: threshold -12 db, ratio 10:1, attack 10 ms, release 40 ms. Controlling peaks Sometimes the track will be fine aside from a few peaks which jump out. Fixing this is easy - use the compressor as you did above, but set the threshold carefully so it clamps down on nothing but the peaks. Accentuating Attack You can also use compression to make a track jump out of a mix. If a track doesn't bite, it's because it doesn't have enough attack. As mentioned, the attack control on a compressor lets a certain amount of signal pass through uncompressed before compression kicks in. Here's a track that had almost no attack before compression:

Basic compressor use Evening levels If you have a track which has an occasional peak which is louder than the rest of the track, sometimes when it is mixed loud enough to hear the quieter parts, the peaks will be too loud and mixing it lower makes most of the track disappear. In short, it is too dynamic. This might look like this:

Note that there is no difference in volume between the attack portion and the rest of the note. Using a compressor with a 5:1 ratio, threshold of -16 db, attack of 100 ms, and release of 10 ms produces this:

The attack of each note now stands out more from the sustain. We just used our compressor to increase the dynamics of the track instead of decreasing it.


muse | thirty two

TUTORIAL

by Alistair Andrews

PLAY BETTER BASS

Bass Styles: Different Styles of Electric Bass Playing Bass Playing styles can be divided into four main categories. ! Finger-style ! Picking (plectrum/picks) ! Slapping and Popping ! Tapping

Finger-style Bass Playing

Finger-style is by far the most popular style. Players alternate between the Index and Middle fingers. (Right Hand for right handed players) You can also use the other three fingers. The thumb sometimes gets used in African Music in a Wes Montgomery type of style. This style should not be confused with “Popping”. Advanced players will also use more than 2 fingers on the right hand. For Double stops and chords you can even use all the fingers. Walking Bass is usually associated with Jazz and Blues, but can be found in other styles of music. It is a good idea to keep a library of walking bass "licks" in order to keep walking lines interesting and not too repetitive. Your right hand is very close to the neck in order to get a fatter sound. (You can find out more about this style in one of our previous editions.) The sound of a walking bass-line is generally ever-

changing rather than a simple riff following chord progression. The walking line can use scale tones, arpeggios and passing tones, and provides an undulating melody that rises and falls in tone over several bars. With funk the bass-lines are more syncopated, and the left hand plays a vital rule in muting strings to play “dead notes”. Sometimes the palm of the right hand can get used to mute strings. This is called Palm Muting and the Thumb, Index and Middle Fingers are used. This is very popular in West African Music. In Rock music you alternate most of the time with the Index and Middle finger. Picking involves the use - obviously - of a pick (or plectrum) and is used commonly in punk and rock styles. Bass picks are normally thicker and bigger than guitar picks. You use up and down strokes, very much like guitar players. This style gives one more attack to your sound.

... Continued on pg 34


muse | thirty four

TUTORIAL

by Alistair Andrews

Bass Styles: Different Styles of Electric Bass Playing ... Continued from pg 32

Slapping and Popping has been used in funk and fusion music for many years but nowadays this style is incorporated into pop, rock and world music too. For this style you have to be able to: 1. Be precise with thumb attacks. 2. Only hit the string you want to sound. 3. Master the art of muting strings. 4. Attack muted thumb notes with the same intensity as sounded notes. 5 Control your Pull attacks that they are not louder or more intense than thumb attacks. Slap techniques are labeled as follows: T=Thumb attack. X=Dead note (String attacked as indicated, but not allowed to ring. These are notated using the open string on which they are attacked.) U=Thumb-up stroke (thumb pulls up from under the string) S=Slide H=Hammer on (no attack with slapping hand) P=Pull string with first or second finger L=Lift finger from previous note to the note with the L above it

pentatonic scale but higher on the neck. It's this rapid alternation of your left fingers and right fingers that gives the Van Halen style its drive and interest. The other method is more like playing a bass and guitar at the same time, or, with the right instrument, it is more like piano playing. Here you are not going to alternate two hands on the same string, at least not very often. Instead you'll play low notes (like bass) or chords with your left hand near to the nut and with your right hand you'll play melodies or rhythmic chords on the strings higher up, closer to the body. It's more like a piano, for example, with chords in the left hand and melody in the right, or like a piano where you play roots and bass patterns low and left-handed, and rhythm chords or melody higher-pitched with the right hand. Michael Manring, Victor Wooten, Stu Hamm, Tony Levin and Billy Sheehan are some of the masters of this style. Hammer-ons, pull- offs and all the other left hand “tricks” can be used in all styles. These days it is vey important to master as many styles as possible.

Slurs show when notes are sounded without a right-hand attack, as in hammers, slides, and lifts. (Only the first note of a slurred group is articulated with the right hand.) The basic idea of Slapping and Popping is to hit the string with your thumb on the last fret and pop (plug) with your Index and/or Ring finger. Abe Laboriel, Larry Graham, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Flea, Les Claypool and Mark King are all happening “Slappers.” Tapping just means any system of playing electric bass where you touch the string to the fret to sound the note, rather than plucking the strings. Hold your bass as usual, and with your left hand you'll either hold a chord or play some notes. Your right hand will be further up the neck, and as a left finger hits some notes, you'll quickly use a right finger to play a note higher up the neck. One simple way to think it through is just to play your diatonic or pentatonic scale or a given chord with your left hand, and with your right hand play that same diatonic or

‘Happening Bass Slapper’ – Victor Wooten

Till next time, LET THERE BE BASS!!!

Alistair Andrews endorses ROTOSOUND bass strings www.rotosound.com

THE WORLD’S FINEST MUSIC STRINGS MADE IN THE UK SINCE 1958


muse | thirty six

TUTORIAL

by Kurt Slabbert

W

PLAY BETTER

elcome to Play Better Guitar, and yes we are going to talk about the metronome although many people might say “what’s that?” I have been teaching guitar for many years as well as producing guitar in the studio and the one common flaw I find amongst guitarists is the weak rhythm playing and the inability to play in time. Obviously if you don’t have the metronome on, you will always sound like you’re in time. Working with a metronome will give you a strong rhythmical sense. Often I will go listen to bands and most times I find that guitarists tend to consistently rush their playing. Many people might say that this has to do with feel and that you can’t teach feel; maybe not but you can practice it. Even if you are practising your latest licks do it with a metronome and you will find that in time your playing will get a better flow and your feel will change. Many of the artists from 15 years ago say they never used a metronome but they would jam to records and that in itself is like playing with a glorified metronome.

Take it one step further... record yourself playing against a metronome, scales, some strumming, some finger picking and then you be the judge as to where and how your playing sounds and feels. There are many exercises you can do with a metronome. I have found that the most useful way of using it is by putting the clicks on beats 2 and 4, this will give you a very strong sense of the back beat. No matter what your favourite style is, consistent practice with this tool will make you a better player and although I am not saying that this should replace your jam time what I am saying is that it should be added to your practice routine!!! Imagine feeling the groove so well that you could play any rhythmical pattern; this will add another dimension to your performance with great feel. So here is a little exercise; we’re going to take one of the licks from last months lesson and move it onto a different beat; once again make sure you use a metronome and start off slowly.

Exercise 1 This is one of the licks from the last lesson, take note how it starts on beat 4, now try and play the lick starting on an offbeat.

Exercise 2 Ok so here we have the same lick as above except the lick starts on the offbeat. This is the kind of command you can have around rhythms if you practice them properly, and once again listen to players that know how to use rhythm to their playing advantage.


GUITAR

muse | thirty seven

TUTORIAL

METRONOME ….say what!! Exercise 3 Here we have a 5-note pattern played in groups of four, the difficult part to this lick is to put the accent on the correct beat or it would not really matter.

Exercise 4 By doing this we can make old licks interesting by just manipulating the rhythm, so once again that’s why it is so important to have a firm grip on the sense of rhythm and time keeping.

That’s all for this month, I do suggest you go out and get yourself a jam buddy; the Korg ToneWorks is a great tool to keep close at hand or just a simple metronome like the Boss DB-30. What I like about the Korg is the option to use different sounds with a groove, however sometimes the simplicity of a plain metronome is challenging so try both and mix it up. I think the important point is to get something that will challenge your time keeping and try and make a recording of this as this will help “You Be The judge.” Till next time have fun with the metronome, and once again don’t just take my word for it but test this concept and make it your own!!!

Copyright Kurt Slabbert Bluenoise Productions kurt_slabbert@hotmail.com


muse | thirty eight

YOUR PRIVATE UNIVERSE by Jonathan Pike

G

enerally an acoustic guitar is recorded as accurately as possible to capture the natural sound that we are all familiar with. However in this issue I am going to take a look at some rather unconventional recording techniques for acoustic guitar. Whether you want to create some of your own weird and wonderful samples to use in more electronic based tracks, or if you are just looking for a way to make your acoustic guitar recordings stand out from the crowd there is a lot to be said for looking at some different recording techniques. Usually one would mike up an acoustic guitar with a microphone placed in front of the bridge and one placed in front of the 12th fret (of course there are many other common ways besides this to mic up an acoustic guitar). The blend of these two mics will give you a very natural sound. So what can we do to get a more unconventional sound? Well the possibilities are actually endless. Here are some interesting techniques that I have come across. One of the more common methods is to try and capture what the guitarist hears. This can be achieved by placing a mic or a stereo pair of mics over the players shoulder at about head height. This is a good way of giving your musician a sound that he is familiar with as it is essentially capturing what he hears when he plays. Another useful technique is to place a microphone behind or underneath the body of the guitar. This can be useful for capturing some overtones as well as reinforcing some of the lower frequency content of the sound. If your room has a particularly great sound I would set up a couple of room mics to capture the ambience of

Techniques forio the home stud

Unconventional Recording Techniques:

you move the mic away from the sound source the more the ambience of the room will affect the sound. Of course your choice of microphone is going to make a big difference too. Generally speaking a larger diaphragm micro-phone will be better at picking up lower frequencies and a smaller diaphragm will be better at capturing high frequencies. (I must state that this is generally true. For a more accurate understanding of a microphones response you will need to check the frequency response chart of the microphone you intend using). So get out there and experiment with microphones and placement to find just the right sound you are looking for. These are some great ways of building up your own personal sample library. It is always useful to have some of your own-recorded samples for use in composing electronic and sample based compositions. We will continue next issue with some more unconventional recording techniques, until then keep experimenting!

Acoustic Guitar the room, however you can also create some very interesting sounds by placing mics in unconventional places in the room like in a corner or pointing towards a reflective surface. Generally this would be regarded as “breaking the rules” but you can get some very interesting sounding results. There is almost an infinite amount of ways you could mic up a guitar for a less natural sound. Some important thinks to remember is that the higher up the neck of the guitar you place the mic, the “thinner” the sound will become. Essentially you are capturing more of the high frequencies. You will also pick up much more finger work. If you place a mic near the bridge you will pick up more mid to low frequencies and if you place a mic in front of the sound hole you will get a very “boomy” sound. Another important thing to remember is that the further



Musetech Jun/Jul '11