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PRS DAY AT GUITAR FACTORY PARRAMATTA The Guitar Factory in Parramatta is presenting a PRS guitar day Sunday 25 November from 11am to 3pm. Join the Guitar Factory team, Brett Kingman and Peter Peric for a day of Paul Reed Smith guitars appreciation, in which they will have all of their stock proudly displayed along with some very special private stock that will be flown in especially for this event. This is a great opportunity to choose from a large variety of hand-picked, some even extremely limited edition PRS guitars at prices never to be repeated! Demoing the PRS guitars on the day will be two respected Australian players. Peter Peric is a Sydney-based black/death metal guitarist best known for his work with Nazxul, Rookwood & Infernal Mehtod. He’s toured the globe extensively and shared stages with bands such as Satyricon, Watain, Anathema, Possessed, Dark Tranquility among many. His unorthodox approach to the guitar is a must see for true metal maniacs! Also appearing on the day will be Brett Kingman, one of Australia’s busiest players. Inspired by ‘70s classic and glam-rock guitarists and beginning his professional career at the age of 12, Kingman has become one of Australia’s better known hired guns and has spent time touring and recording with Australian icons such as James Reyne (presently touring), Daryl Braithwaite, Ross Wilson, Renee Geyer, Joe Camilleri, Vika & Linda Bull, Peter Andre, Jenny Morris and dozens of others. Visit www. for more information

CREDITS MUSO. ISSUE 3 - NOVEMBER 2012 PH: 03 9421 4499 FAX: 03 9421 1011 584 Nicholson St Nth Fitzroy 3068 WEBSITE: EDITOR: Greg Phillips DISTRIBUTION ENQUIRIES: LAYOUT & DESIGN: Matt Davis IPAD EDITION: Dave Harvey CONTRIBUTORS: Reza Nasseri, Baz Bardoe, Sean Pollard, Christopher Steller, Michael Smith, Marcel Yammouni. PHOTOGRAPHER: Kane Hibberd Published by Street Press Australia PTY LTD PRINTED BY: Rural Press


Greek six-piece symphonic metal band Nightfall recorded their new album, Cassiopeia, in four different places, with vocals and keys recorded at Soundflakes Studios and Cyberia in Greece, the drums tracked at Soundlodge studios in Germany, and guitars and bass at Boomcave studios in Nashville, Tennessee. World’s End Press have been working on their debut album with Tim Goldsworthy (DFA, Mo Wax, The Rapture) at Rockfield Studios in Wales and Massive Attack Studios in Bristol. San Franciscobased Thao & The Get Down Stay Down recorded their third album, We The Common, with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, The Walkmen) at his Elmwood Recording studios in Dallas.


In a world of rapid change, it’s great to know that some things remain the same. Chris Voce, proprietor of Guitars Plus in Victoria’s bayside suburb, Sandringham, first served customers from behind his counter in November 1982. Thirty years down the track he’s still there (with his team) doing what he does best. Chris is one of the most knowledgeable retail guys in Australia when it comes to guitars. Chris has been thinking about celebrating the milestone, however claims he’s been too busy to do anything about it. A nice problem to have after 30 years’ service in the local music gear industry. Guitars Plus is well known for its excellent repair department. It’s not everyone you can trust your cherished guitar with but it’ll be safe and sound in the hands of Guitars Plus. The store also has an excellent reputation for guitar tuition with the likes of Simon Croft teaching. Simon is about to head to Europe at the request of Queen’s Brian May to perform in We Will Rock You. Visit www. for more information or better still, call into 5 Melrose St Sandringham in Victoria and talk guitars with Chris.

ENGADINE MUSIC DOES COLE CLARK Engadine Music in NSW has been appointed as a specialist store for locally-made guitar brand Cole Clark. Cole Clark produce quality instruments featuring some of our country’s finest tone woods and construction techniques. All guitars come with an internally-fitted ABS hard-shell case. A D’Addario 3D 3 pack of acoustic strings is included with any Cole Clark purchase. Engadine also offers a free setup adjustment and check three months after purchase. They also offer a 14-day ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ period. The Cole Clark deal runs through until Christmas. Engadine has an extensive range of Christmas giftware lines suitable for all musicians too. As an encouragement for personal shoppers to visit the store, from now until Christmas Engadine is offering guitar string sets for just $4.95, an offer which is not available online. Visit www. for more information.

n this issue, The Living End look back at a stellar career during their Retrospective Tour while others such as Deep Sea Arcade, who are just starting out on their musical journey, very much look to the future. It was quite inspiring to still see the excitement in the eyes of Chris , Andy and Scott from The Living End as they reminisced about days gone by. Although it didn’t make the final story cut, one of the more interesting discussions was about their worst gig ever. Scott immediately claimed Bakersfield, California where he feared for his life during set-up as crack addicts roamed the foyer and the venue owner waltzed around with a baseball bat for protection. Chris on the other hand saw it differently. Even though the venue was next door to a prison and the dodgy audience was virtually in his face as he played guitar, he remembers the gig as a triumph because they dug deep and won them over. They have played every kind of gig possible from weddings to funerals to bikie compounds

Cameron Webb (Motörhead, Danzig, Social Distortion) mixed the new album, Now And Forever, from Swedish glam-metal four-piece Sister Sin. The eponymous debut album by Melbourne six-piece Money For Rope was recorded and mixed by Steven Schram (The Vasco Era, Devastations, Little Red). Perth psych folk rockers The Morning Night called in The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Ricky Maymi to produce their debut album, Otis. Perth-born Melbournebased producer Anna Laverty is currently working on the debut solo album from The Panics frontman Jae Laffer, having recently finished producing an EP for triple j darlings Dirt Farmer.

and are still selling out nearly every gig they play. You gotta admire those guys! Also in this issue, Kerri Simpson and Crystal Thomas typify the spirit of the indie musician, where life tries its best to get in the way of their art. Paul Noble speaks with pride about the new range of Casio synths. A playful Grace Potter (or pottymouth as I discovered) tells of her excitement to be playing Bluesfest on the same bill as Robert Plant, and we road test a bunch of amazing new products. The common theme running through this issue (or any issue of Muso really) is the enjoyment the artists still get out of their music, whether they’re new to it professionally or have been doing it for years. You won’t find any jaded rock stars in this title!


Gear News

EMAIL FOR CHANCE TO WIN A STERLING MUSIC MAN RAY35 BASS Sterling’s Music Man Ray35 bass body is contoured for playing comfort with a maple neck attached via a solid six-bolt neck joint. Sterling use a swamp ash for the body that’s light weight for percussive lows, subtle mids and expansive highs. Music Man-designed components include three-band active preamp, humbucking pickup and bridge, standard equipment for all Ray series basses. The low B string remains tight and solid along the 34” scale. The tone is all Music Man Sterling by Music Man, gig bag is included. Valued at $1,395, Muso readers have the chance to WIN one of these basses and entry is simple. All you need to do is email your contact details and the codeword ‘Muso” to info@cmcmusic. between Nov 19, 2012 and Jan 5, 2013. Winner will be announced on the CMC Music Facebook page on January 10, 2013.

FREE EFFECTS UNITS WITH TC PURCHASES There are some amazing TC Helicon and TC Electronic deals happening for the months of November and December. From TC Helicon for vocalists, purchase any VoiceLive Play, VoiceLive Play GTX, Voicetone Mic Mechanic or VoiceTone Single before December 31 and you get a FREE MP-75 Vocal Performance Microphone. The other deal is from TC Electronic and is for guitarists. Buy any two TC compact pedals and you’ll earn yourself a TC Electronic Spark Booster pedal for FREE. or purchase a BG250 bass combo, BH250, BH500,RH450, RH750 or Blacksmith bass amp and receive a FREE Corona Chorus pedal.

LIMITED AVAILABILITY MUSIC MAN MODELS Music Man have opened order windows for two new releases for November only – ie when the date rolls over to December 1, you’ll be unable to order these models ever again: This year, at the US Arlington Guitar show, Music Man introduced a limited run of Silhouettes with Ash bodies, custom-wound humbuckers (as featured in the Axis and Albert Lee HH models), and Floyd Rose tremolos. A huge success, they decided to offer them to their international distributors. Colours include Black, Trans Purple, Trans Teal, Pacific Blue Burst and Natural These guitars can be ordered with matching or non-matching headstocks and with either rosewood or maple fingerboards. The other limited offer is the Music Man Sledge.




t couldn’t have been more straight forward. The original idea was to play their debut album in its entirety at a gig or two. But the more the band and management talked, the bigger the concept became. All six albums, all cities and let’s take a swag of support bands along for the ride. The Living End’s The Retrospective Tour has become one of the most successful Australian tours by a local band, ever. As gig after gig sold out, the band were hunkered down at Melbourne’s Deluxe Studios bringing to life the 80 or so songs from their back catalogue. Again, it would have been much simpler to take one set of standard TLE gear out to nail these songs, but that’s not The Living End’s way. “We want to try to play the albums as true as possible,” said bass player Scott Owen. Guitarist and TLE main man Chris Cheney agrees. “When there are 80 songs to learn, we don’t want there to be 80 songs with the same guitar tone for every single tune.” Such fastidiousness comes at a price though. Not only did they have to go back and learn the back catalogue, they also had to try to recall what gear was used on each track. “We’ve been like, ‘I can’t remember what delay that was, put the record on!’ So we’d tweak it and try to match it.”

Chris has dusted down some old guitars for the tour and is keen to give them some stage time to help emulate the original album tones. “I have an old 1962 Double Anniversary Gretsch which is just beautiful. It’s kind of like an old car, when it’s up and running. It’s nice but it takes a little bit to get going and doesn’t really compete that well with my newer Gretschs. I’m dialing in a few little sounds here and there on my effects board but otherwise it is still pretty bare bones. It’s still a basic rock n roll foundation and not many effects… a lot of delays! Scott is also excited to be hearing Chris rip out some classic Living End riffs. “It’s awesome to hear all of that stuff again,” he said. “Chris is being fucking shy, he’s rather meticulous about his effects and getting them all perfect like they are on the record.” Their gear has actually changed over the years, as they discovered during rehearsals. “I was looking at a photo of Scott and I and our first drummer playing at the Yarraville Hotel back in about 1993,” recalls Chris. “I had two Fender Twins behind me, a Tube Screamer and a digital delay pedal, which I used to adjust the increments on as I went. Now I have this pedalboard in front of me which basically has a whole lot of buttons on it which are like patches, which then go back through like a brain, which then engages certain pedals and delays and it is very convoluted. Basically, now I am running like a C3PO-like Millenium Falcon pedalboard! We started out with a direct line in, maybe a delay pedal, Chuck Berry style and it’s kind of gone more U2 as we have gone along. I’m [pretty] strict in getting the delays right. Some of the songs depend on that. My biggest thing is that I can’t remember half the shit that I was playing with on those earlier records. We’ve got an extra guitar player now, Adrian Lombardi, so I not only have to learn what I used to play, but I have to learn the overdubs too. He’ll be like, ‘How are you playing that bit?’



Look back, gear up and go for it! it and I’m like, ‘Dude, I don’t know… I’m just trying to figure out my own bit.’ Adrian has been our touring rhythm guitar player now for almost two years.” It’s not just Chris and his original guitar tones which needed to be recreated. The same issues befell bassist Scott and to a lesser degree drummer Andy Strachan. Often it took a flick through photo albums to find clues as to what gear they were using at any given time. “Those old photos that I found, you had three milk crates and you had that cube on top, another little speaker on top of that then a tweeter thing,” Cheney recalls of Scott’s bass rig. “It looked like a little robot. That was like ‘93, ‘94, we were just out of school and you went through a lot of pickups.” Like most musicians, Scott has always been on the quest for a perfect stage sound but for someone who plays a

The Living End are a third of the way through their massive Retrospective Tour, in which they’re playing all six of their albums to sold out crowds in five cities. They were conducting final rehearsal when Muso’s Greg Phillips caught up with the band. double bass, it’s never been easy. “It always been a major thorn in my side, playing an instrument in a manner it wasn’t supposed to be played,” said Scott. “Then getting it to be amplified and sound like a quality instrument on a rock‘n’roll stage, is a real mission. I’m always getting closer and closer to what I’m seeing in my mind. It’s hard. It’s not like going into a guitar shop and saying, ‘I’ll have that sound’. It’s something that I have to make up. I went through all these weird and wacky ideas of getting the pickup inside the bass, mounting pickups

inside them in which case you need to cut a hole in the bass to get in there. There’s been one luthier who has tended to my every whim with [the] double bass over all the years I have played, Ben Puglisi, and I appreciate him so much. Even when I have ideas like, ‘Why not cut a hole in this section? He’s gone, ‘Man, you are going to regret that so much one day… I’ll do it for you just to appease your curiosity but you’re going to fucking regret it, I swear to God.’ A year later I’d bring it in and ask him to patch that hole up but yes, it’s been an endless search.”

For Cheney, the quest for the perfect sound is part and parcel of what being in a rock band is all about. “You’ve got to search for those things because there wasn’t a template for what we were trying to do at that early point,” he said. “There’s parts of us that wanted to be this but also a modern rock band, not a traditional rockabilly band – we want to be able to play at volume. I’ve got extra struts in my guitars from trying to play at high volume… extra things that I have put into my guitars over the years to try to handle the fact that we’re this rockabilly band that wants to be The Who!” Looking back, Andy Strachan believes he has gone smaller and quieter with his drum kit. “My drum tech and front of house guys over the years have said to me, ‘You don’t need cymbals that make your eyes bleed’, but that’s what I thought back then,” he said. “On

the Big Day Out stage or whatever, I thought you needed cymbals that were louder then amps. You don’t. That’s what microphones are for, so that’s the only lesson I have really learnt. Other than that, I try to get new drums to sound like vintage drums. They’re all thin shells, mahogany and maple. It’s a Pearl Masterworks kit. Masterworks is apparently like … whatever you want. Their idea is that they’ll build you whatever you need. To that degree, they’re right on the money and will pretty much do whatever you want. Instead of having 8 ply maple and 3 ply birch, I go for 4 plys of mahogany with maple blue rings and that’s as close as I have found to a vintage drum kit. I try to make them sound as old as possible. The cymbals are a big thing I learnt. They’re thin and quieter cymbals and actually sound a lot better, especially when you have the vocal mic open, like a Z Custom is just going to bleed all over the stage and ruin the front of house guy’s day. That’s where it all stemmed from, the front of house guy and drum tech saying that it doesn’t have to be that loud. The snare drum either; you can play quietly and let the mics do the work. With the cymbals, Zildjian K Hybrid Crashes is what I have been playing, quite thin but 18s and 19s, 21” sweet ride which is what I have been playing for five or six years now; and a pair of 15” Hybrid hats, K Lights so they are quite thin – way quieter than they used to be. I used to play all Z Customs and A Projections, cymbals which tore your ears apart.” As the beers chugged down and the memories become more vivid, the guys revelled in stories about how the band has given them the opportunity to meet some of their musical heroes, and how bizarre it has been that some of them such as Richard Clapton, Brad Shepherd, Daryl Braithwaite, and Neil Finn bother to come backstage or even compliment them on their music. After all these years and a new record breaking tour, it seems The Living End deep down are basically just music fans. “It’s why we’re here,” said Chris. “It’s gotta be why we’re here: a) because we are patient, b) because we are ambitious motherfuckers and c) because we are music lovers. We still get along. We have been through everything a band could possibly go through. We’ve been through drug issues, girlfriend issues, issues where I don’t want to see you or be around you, musical direction issues. We’ve been through everything like that and we are still around. A lot of bands don’t have that patience. We’ve always felt that we can go on and do something a little better.” Andy’s eyes light up too and chips in. “There was a moment a couple of weeks ago and we were playing How Do We Know and it felt fantastic. The whole rehearsal went for about five hours playing together and going, ‘Yeah, that was fine’. Then there was this magic moment where, even after all this time… we have played that song a thousand times but it just felt so exciting and so good. That’s what it is all about… those moments.” “It’s not about the accolades or how many payers or much merch we sold,” Chris says in summary. “It’s really about, ‘Shit that felt good when we played’. You hope that never leaves you.”

Deep Sea Arcade laid Outlands on us this year, an album full of dreamlike ‘60s-influenced pop rock gems. Sean Pollard caught up with the band at soundcheck in Melbourne during their recent national tour.


olling into the Corner to begin yet another nationwide jaunt, Sydney psych pop outfit Deep Sea Arcade have been riding a huge wave of success since the release of their debut album, Outlands, earlier this year. Almost five years of recording time and experimentation has paid off for these boys as Outlands seems to have spawned more singles than your average Rihanna album. Tracks like Girls, Seen No Right, Steam and the latest offering, Granite City, have seen

pretty much all of the first record, especially See No Right. I’ve also got a Juno 60 but because I don’t tour with that; it’s mapped across the keyboard as well. There’s also a Roland Jupiter and a Hammond through a Leslie speaker in stereo. I also sampled stuff off vinyl records. I have this old sampling module at home that you can do really good pitch shifting with, so I use that all the time as well.” So, to get down to brass tacks, McKenzie has attempted to take a small universe of instruments and sounds on the road with Deep Sea Arcade – and is succeeding due to the versatility of his MPC-1000 set up. When teamed up with a MIDI keyboard, this enables Deep Sea Arcade to faithfully replicate the psychedelic washes and pumped up guitar hooks of Outlands without having to lug weighty keyboards all over the country.

Outlandish riffs this four-piece garner more than a cult following as they pick up festival slots and sell out venues all over the country. Their sound is rooted in the experimental pop of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but also harks back to a time when Oasis, Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays ruled the world and Manchester was the thriving epicentre of a jangly guitar-based pop scene. One look at frontman Nic McKenzie on stage gives this influence away as he struts about, points at the audience and delivers a note-perfect tribute to his Hacienda-loving forefathers. Deep Sea Arcade are no mere rip-off though, and it’s the sheer strength of their songwriting combined with a loving attention to detail when it comes to equipment and recording techniques that has led to their burgeoning success. We find singer Nic McKenzie out front of The Corner on what has become a rainy Friday afternoon in Melbourne. While the rest of the band busy themselves with the vagaries of postsoundcheck life (setting up the merch desk, checking the door list, eating parmagiana) McKenzie is more than happy to explain the various gear and techniques Deep Sea Arcade use on stage and in the studio to create their sound. He’s certainly qualified as, as he explains, the bulk of Outlands was created in collaboration with bassist Nick Weaver as the rest of the band dropped in and out of various studios as needed. Far from a control freak, it’s clear that McKenzie has a singular vision about where he feels the band’s sound should go and what kind of equipment they need to replicate their sound on stage, especially when it comes to the most crucial element of any pop band - the guitars. “Jimmy uses a 2002 Les Paul and runs it mainly through a Marshall Reflector Reverb,” McKenzie explains with a little help from his new guitarist, over his shoulder. “He also uses a pretty simple DS-1 Boss Distortion pedal, which is pretty much the same setup that I play through when I’m at home so it’s easy for him to replicate the sounds I normally get. On top of this he also has a Jekyll and Hyde Overdrive pedal as well as a Soviet Small Stone Phaser and a DD-20.” As a live outfit, Deep Sea Arcade’s twin-guitar attack is a little different to most bands, predominantly due to lead guitarist Simon Relf ’s use of a 12-string guitar. Often perceived as a notoriously unreliable instrument live, especially when it comes to tuning and consistency of tone, Relf has honed his use of the 12-string down to an art. The guitar itself is an Eastwood Classic 12. Often unfairly written off as a secondary copy of the old Gretsch 12-string guitars, it generally features two EW-Retro Humbucker pickups to recreate a classic twangy ‘60s sound and, in the live arena, can prove to be a versatile and great sounding tool. Relf normally runs the Classic 12 (as well as his standard Fender Telecaster) through a Fender Stage 100 amplifier which, as he tells it, “has this beautiful sound and is really reliable but it’s broken for the first time in five years. So I’m playing through a Blues Junior tonight. I normally tour with a DeVille because you can never really hire those stage 100s through any backline companies or anything. Those Blues Junior’s are pretty nice though.” McKenzie himself is a bit of an audiophile and really perks up when quizzed on the small keyboard-based rig he employs onstage and in the studio. Rather than relying on a Nord or any other standard keys setup, McKenzie uses a MIDI keyboard to control an Akai MPC-1000 into which he’s plugged in a galaxy of samples picked up from studio to studio, record to record or even instrument to instrument. “I’ve got about twenty or thirty keyboards mapped onto it. Every time I go to a studio I’ll map something onto it. I’ve got mellotrons, strings, violins, flutes, choir, brass, so if I’m in the studio or even on stage I can just dial through. I’ve also got about six different types of Casiotone mapped across it. We were in a bunch of different studios and every time we’d go in and track stuff at Megaphon (a famous Sydney studio based in St Peters that has witnessed the likes of Midnight Oil, The Cruel Sea and more recently The Jezebels through its doors) and Carlos was tracking on drums and it was taking ages – I’d just go in, look around and sample all their keyboards.” It’s not just keyboards that McKenzie has dialled into this setup though, and closer inspection reveals he’s been extremely creative with the way he’s put his rig together. “I’ve also sampled guitar sounds and mapped them across. I’ve got that thing where you play out a tremolo thing... like (sings Pulp Fiction theme tune)... I don’t know what it’s called,” he laughs. “I tracked that all across every key so I can play that chord and it sounds like a Hammond Dulcimer - but it’s actually guitars. That sound is on


Crystal Thomas has released her second album, A Chance In Hell, and chats with Greg Phillips about its origins, the recording process and the future.

BEN BUNTING CRYSTAL’S LIVE GUITARIST “My live set up for Crystal is a Fender Jag through a 1968 (Australian-made) Wasp amp head. I just use a Boss delay pedal and an ‘80s Boss dual overdrive. My own style is a bit looser and unhinged than the CD. I decided to play more off Crystal’s voice and her vocal melody rather than follow the notes or structure on the CD.”


t was an Arts Victoria grant in 2009 that allowed Crystal Thomas to record her second album, A Chance In Hell. “The plan was to hunker down and write fifteen songs as quickly as I could, without rushing them so much that the quality was compromised,” she explains. Her first album, Crystal Thomas and The Flowers of Evil, was recorded in spasms over a three-year period, a

Taking her chances production practice she wanted to avoid this time around. “I set aside five weeks to write fifteen or as many songs as I could. With the first album, I was working at a call centre and had saved $150 to get the engineer out to Matt Walker’s studio. I’d record two drum tracks, pack down, go back to the call centre, save up for another few weeks, get the engineer out and so on. This time around I wanted more of a raw thing, coming from a place of emotion rather than any particular precision feel.” Crystal also wanted her second album to be more of a collaborative effort. She assembled some respected Melbourne players - Spencer P Jones, Matt Walker, Matt Green, Tim McCormack and Phil Collings - to both write and record with. She even had lyrical contributions from her mother and grandfather. For an album possessing so much raw rock emotion, loud, swaggering guitar sounds and sometimes sordid subject matter, the method in which Crystal wrote the songs was comparatively conservative. “As loose as my writing style may appear, my roots are firmly placed in my admin past. I had appointments set up with Spencer, Matt Walker, Greeny and Tim, who I wrote with. All my lyric

ideas were typed up, in folders and labelled. I’d be there with my pen and paper and folders going, okay, I’m ready to rock now! It was hilarious. I very much research and plan songs like it is a day job. I have drafts of my lyrics saved on my computer and I write them independently of the music.” The songs on the album are quite diverse in style, which isn’t surprising considering the different writing collaborations, but

also the style in which Crystal sings from track to track is varied. I wondered who her vocal influences were and who she borrows from. “Yeah, there are probably different personas of me on the album,” she suggests. “I guess it depends on the song but Spencer converted me to Amy Winehouse. I was never really a fan but then again, I’d never paid much attention to her. So I guess the song I Could Die Right Now is kind of a tribute;

obviously this was before she died. The song itself is actually about addiction, not to drugs or alcohol. The lyrics are shrouded in metaphors to do with drug and alcohol addiction but it is actually exploring the idea that you can be addicted to a person. Also that you can be addicted to music or chasing the dream and that it can be just as much of a rollercoaster ride with euphoric highs and devastating lows and scrounging together a gig. It plays out the same way.” An artist’s second album is often referred to as the ‘difficult’ one, and for good reason. For Crystal though, it wasn’t an issue. “I had a pretty tangible set of emotions to work off. Some pretty traumatic things had just happened. Life was my muse. I guess the second album was written primarily from experiences which happened during that year. There were still some of the old themes filtering back through. I am very much in the vein of confessional lyricists. I guess it’s dark because I am trying to write music which is cathartic. When I first listened to Nick Cave’s The


t’s a pretty good life here in Australia for the music fan. With so much amazing and varied talent to choose from, we’re incredibly lucky. For the artists themselves … not so much. Our lack of population generally means the majority of acts don’t get anywhere near the recognition or financial rewards they deserve. Melbourne-based singersongwriter Kerri Simpson is one of those artists. She’s often dubbed a blues singer, but her discography

Simpson plays guitar too and owns an impressive sunburst tone Epiphone

A fortunate life The new album is the second in a trilogy of recordings (the Knockin’ At The Backdoor series), made possible by a grant she received from Brunswick’s Thirty Mill studios. The generous grant allowed Kerri to record up to 50 songs, from which she then grouped tracks into either the country-flavoured Maybe By Midnight album, the new blues/rootstinged Fortune Favoured Me or the yet to be complied jazz and gospel-style record. For Fortune Favoured Me, Kerri called on a bunch of guitar-slinging guests to stamp their personality on a track or two. Contributions came from Geoff Achison, Shannon Bourne, Matt Walker, Jeff Lang and Charles Jenkins, some of Australia’s finest musicians. “Each song was a bit of an essence of each guitar player involved,” Kerri explains. “Not necessarily about their nature or character, just trying to capture a little bit of the ambience of the artist. Geoff Achison’s song is about


Crystal, who has just completed a diploma of professional writing and editing, chose to record the album with her band in performance mode as opposed to doing separate vocal takes.

It started almost as an acoustic blues thing.” Howl features an intense scream-like vocal, so I wondered if the emotion may have come as a result of a bad day at Kerri’s day job as a librarian. “Ha, no. I was sort of thinking about the Marianne Faithful song, Why’d Ya Do it. I was thinking about the intensity of the vocal. By the time we got into the studio Langy just ramped it up and I had to match that intensity.”

Melbourne-based blues diva Kerri Simpson releases the second album of her Knockin At The Backdoor trilogy and speaks to Muso’s Greg Phillips.

proves she’s much more than that, having dabbled in many genres. She can sure as shit belt out a tune, that much is certain, and when she ventures into a New Orleans-style voodoo vibe, Kerri can scare the pants off you too. I offer track 3, Howl, off her new album, Fortune Favoured Me, as evidence.

Good Son on cassette when I was fifteen, it transported me to this alternative world. It was such an amazing experience to feel. I was at a girls’ school and it was all a bit nice and boring. So I put on this cassette and was transported to this dark and dangerous world. I wanted to do for others what that cassette had done for me.”

being out on the road and missing his beloved partner. With Pirates Are a Girl’s Best Friend, I was sitting around with band members Dean Addison (bass) and Ben Grayson (keyboards), talking about the Caribbean and Cuba and different rhythms.” Matt Walker shone his fretted light on the track Silver’s Last Stand. “He came and put all those beautiful ambient guitar lines down, so it was really just a matter of running a vocal and not doing too much

to it. All the guys put down a lot of tracks and we could edit what we wanted and leave bits in or take them out. With Howl, Jeff Lang’s track, there was much more layering and editing and manipulating of sounds. Matt’s track is untouched and Jeff ’s we played with a lot more. With Geoff Achison, he put down several guitar parts and we turned the song around after he had left. Geoff did it in one groove and Colin and I turned it into another.”

Shannon Bourne played on three tracks and co-wrote Insatiable with Simpson. Bourne’s dirty fuzz tones compliment Simpson’s dark, soulful vocal perfectly on this track. “We both share a great love of very dark heavy music and sounds,” Kerri says of her musical relationship with Bourne. “He knew the vibe I was going for … the spooky, haunting psychological thriller. Shannon and I have known each other for a long time and we can play off each other and match each other’s moods in terms of feel and intonation. He gets where I’m coming from and I tend to explain things more in imagery and sound rather than technically.” The brief Simpson gave the guitarists was quite basic: come in, jam with her band and do something roots-based. There was rarely a rehearsal before the record button was pushed. The state a song begun in wasn’t necessarily how it turned out. “Jeff Lang’s track started off as a Delta blues thing and ended as Howl, which is the most full-on track on the album.


“For these recordings I did Kerri’s album (Insatiable and Mr. Wolf), I used my 1962 Champagne Sparkle Gretsch and my Ulbrick Arena 50 head with a single 1x12 speaker box. For the fuzz tones I used a ZVEX Fuzz Factory with a little delay. The clean tone on Mr. Wolf was just my Gretsch straight into the Ulbrick. ” - Shannon Bourne

However, she wasn’t in the same room as the band when tape rolled, the vocal booth which Matt Walker had set up at his home studio being in his toilet. “It was very reverb drenched. It had a concrete floor and wooden walls. Matt’s studio had recently been refurbished so the toilet was the vocal booth. It actually had a little glass window. We set up some curtains and various bits and pieces. At one point I wanted to get all atmospheric and set up a whole bunch of tea lights. Everyone freaked out and came running saying you can’t have tea lights next to cloth and electrics. I just wanted a vibe. I had to either sing in the dark or with the toilet light on. It is important that the album represents an emotion or experience. “The first album was melancholy and pretty and poetic. The second was, I dunno, sexy, angry, playful. I’m not sure what the emotion will be for the next one but Ben (Bunting, her stage guitarist) and I were talking about it being more narrative driven.” www.crystalthomas.

Sheraton guitar as well as an Ovation 12 string. “When I first started playing on stage, I got a 12-string because it filled out the sound a bit and hid the fact that I couldn’t play solos. When I started playing with great bands, I just needed something to play rhythm on.” Kerri doesn’t own any microphones but in the studio used an AKGC12. She was also thrilled to be the first guinea pig to test the studio’s new desk. “At Thirty Mill they just installed a new Neve desk, Custom series 75. Neve made it to Colin Wynne and Mark Opitz’s specs. It’s like a world first they’re trying out for Neve, which is pretty exciting, we got to finish the mixing on that. “I’m not big on technique. I just love anything that is heartfelt. Australian artists, I love Chris Wilson. In full flight nobody goes near him. Any blues or soul singer, he can match. There’s a myriad of female vocalists I work with … Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Kylie Auldist, Monique Brumby and Rebecca Barnard who are all incredible.”




Nord Stage keyboard. then you have all your PCM based stuff as well, all the gig-ready stuff, piano, strings, brass sounds, as well as all your percussive stuff, drum kits, electronic kits, ethnic kits, everything you would expect to find on a pro keyboard.

Casio’s Paul Noble chats to Muso about the new XWP1, XWG1 and how they both figure in his own music making.


t’s kind of a badge of honour for musicians. You align yourself to a particular instrument brand and find yourself defending it as a Holden fan would against a Ford fiend. Paul Noble has been a professional musician for around 25 years. He has played some big gigs with John Farnham and Pseudo Echo, to name just a couple, and by day is a product education specialist for a keyboard company. His chosen brand, the one he believes in, is Casio. It’s

Noble synth the eighties the company which came to prominence in the ‘80s for producing hi-tech family keyboards. The same family keyboards which are showing up so often today on the latest hipster’s albums. More recently however, Casio has belied it’s dinky keyboard image and put some serious time, effort and money into the development of performance grade synthesisers. The result of their toil is the recent release of two powerful and affordable instruments, the XWP1 and XW G1, and indeed, these are pioneering times for Casio. Speaking to Casio’s Paul Noble, you get the impression he has some pride in working with these synths, can chat at length about them and more importantly, speak in truth about them. Not that anything pre-dating the XWP1 or XWG1 was not talkworthy, it’s just that there seems to be a genuine buzz around the company for this gear. Paul’s association with Casio goes back a long way. His first ever synth purchase was another brand, an Ensoniq ESQ1, quite a hi tech buy first up. Then soon after, he acquired a Casio CZ1000, the famous 80s model … he’d caught the Casio bug. With such an ingrained perception of what their keyboards are known for, it was a tough ask for Casio’s development team to come up with something


the pro players would stand up and take notice of. Paul believes they’ve got things right with the new synths and hopes people open their eyes and ears to give them a go. “I would say that people are going to be quite surprised when they experience these things because that isn’t traditionally Casio’s reputation,” he said. “Especially when you look at the package you get with these synths and you consider the fact that they are both under a thousand dollars, you would expect them to be sub-

pro market product, as I did to be honest. However, to play them, I honestly believe they would cut it anywhere on any stage. They are absolutely brilliant.” Paul loves the ‘80s sounds these keys have to offer and uses them to the max when he can. Noble’s current music projects include Gener8tor, an originals band and also Gold Chisel, a Cold Chisel tribute act. “I am a classic ‘80s Muso,” Paul said of his influences, and he finds it easy to emulate those sounds with these new Casio releases.

“I love all the Polysynths… that typical sawtooth type sound or anything clavinet-like. So I’ll get a clavinet sound and you can add up to 200 DSP effects to any sound onboard and you can multi layer the DSPs too. You can layer up to six at a time.” It’s not only the ‘80s sounds on the XWP1 and XWG1 which Paul is impressed with. “The versatility is huge and also the ease of use is outstanding,” he said. “There are some classic, big fat 80s analogue sounds as well as having all the modern day digital samples on them too.,” he tells. “There are two models, the XWP1 which is what we call the Performance synth. For real players, guys who are quite skilled who want great sounds, the P1 is the go. It features multiple sound engines which I think would appeal to any pro musician. You have a six oscillator, monophonic analogue synth. Then you have a Hex layer polyphonic synth which allows you to lay up to 6 different patches at one time and mix and control each individually. You have a drawbar organ sound engine, with nine drawbar organ sliders, as well as fast and slow Leslie, percussive effects, all the stuff that you might see on something like a

“It also gives you features like the step sequencer, which allows you to put grooves together really quickly and easily. It has a phrase sequencer, which you can sequence a phrase into and then loop. You can key assign, so you can trigger it to play in any key by simply touching a piano keyboard. You can use that or any sound in conjunction with the onboard arpeggiator. It’s a powerful instrument and you have realtime control over everything, your envelopes, frequency cut off, and decay.” Noble is equally excited about the XWG1. “With the groove synth. We probably see a bit of an integration into the DJ market. The way I use this synth is in integration with things like the iPad, iPhone, computers. It actually has a rubber pad on the side of it

where you can sit your iPad or iPhone. The big feature with that model is the sampler. It has the ability to take ten samples internally, without adding extra memory which you can do easily by adding a SD card, they take up to 32 gig. So it can store up to ten samples at full quality, each up to 19 seconds long. “What you hear go in is exactly what you hear come out. With your computer, you can sample a drum loop, then you can add through the sampler, some realtime parts which you might play in yourself… then record in some vocals. You get this great integration between your audio parts with your live keyboard performance.” It’s rumoured that there will be a special edition gold version of Casio’s new synths landing in limited number prior to Christmas and don’t be surprised to see new releases soon. Casio is committed to the new direction they have taken. As for Paul, try to catch him at a Cold Chisel gig at a club near you soon. www.soundtechnology.


a moment occasionally to freak out, but for the most part I just like to create slide tones.”

After three invites from the Bluesfest promoter, Grace Potter finally gets to bring her band to Australia for the Easter festival next year. Greg Phillips reports.

Grace is somewhat of a gear nerd and has kept most of the instruments she has played during her career, with some of them now a little more road weary than others. “The first guitar I ever bought was a (Gibson) J45 from the 1930s, which I don’t take out on the road anymore,” she explained. “Then later I got an ES125 which is a smaller body cutaway semi hollow body Gibson that has some intonation problems so I keep that at home. It sounds great for recording. Has a great old Sun Studio sound to it.”


race Potter and The Nocturnals have been invited to play Bluesfest three years running, yet due to their busy dance card, could never tweak their schedule enough to make it down. At next year’s event, Australian audiences will finally get to experience their show. There are many reasons why Bluesfest crowds should devour this band. Firstly, because in the great tradition

Potter gold for Bluesfest of rock touring bands, they’ve been at it solid for ten years, came out of America’s roots music festival circuit and are as rockin’ tight as they come. Secondly, it’s Grace herself who has such wonderful stage presence. As for her image, she may give the impression she’s off to a cocktail party, often wearing high heels and a tightly fitting mini skirt, but she’s also usually armed with a Gibson Flying V (her own signature model) slung over her shoulder or ripping licks from behind a Hammond B3. “I think it’s a good trick to play on people,” said Grace. “They see this little Barbie doll come on stage or whatever I may look like on any given day, but then we kick in and it can be surprising for people to hear the noises that I can make.” The noises she refers to have been compared to iconic female vocalists such as Janis Joplin. However, it’s the male rock singers which have had more impact on Grace’s vocal style. “I admire Robert Plant,” she said. “I’m very excited that he’ll be at the Byron Bay music festival. He was a huge influence on me. When I was just learning how to tour, most of my influences were men. Freddie

King, Steve Winwood ... for his organ playing and his singing. The Allman Brothers... a major influence was Ozzie Osbourne... AC/ DC was a big one for me. I felt more affinity to the sexual energy of the men on stage than the more timid phrasing of women. It’s not that I don’t love women vocalists and I think there are some great ones, but there are not that many great female rock singers.”

Potter is equally adept at both guitar and organ, and was chuffed when Gibson guitars acknowledged her musical prowess with her own signature model Flying V. “I have been a huge fan of the Flying V ever since I first picked one up,” she said of the honour. “It’s mostly to do with the weight distribution. I think part of the influence is, even though I love to play the guitar, I love to dance. I love

movement and certain guitars are too weight-centric, especially Les Pauls. It felt too heavy all in one place, almost like a pendulum. With the Flying V, if I set it down it kind of stands on its own. I can really flail around and I’m not going to kill myself with it.” In the early days of the band, Potter ran her guitar through a ‘71 Gibson Goldtone, but years of stage abuse has relegated that amp to the studio. She now runs her Flying V through a Fender Vibrolux. “I like the Vibrolux a lot, it has a good dimension to it,” she said. “When I run it through some reverb, it really creates Black Beauty (Neil’s famous Les Paul guitar), Neil Young crunchy tones that I like. I have two amazing guitar players, Scott and Matty. When it comes to solos or creating beautiful textures, I’m just there as meat and potatoes. I like to think of myself as very rock-steady rhythm guitarist. I certainly like playing the slide and a lot of open tunings. I’ll take

It’s no surprise that Grace’s gear exists in differing states of health. A photo is brought to her attention which depicts her standing in heels on a beautiful old Hammond organ. “At least it was mine!” she exclaims. “When I first started playing the B3 I broke a lot of keys. I have really strong hands and am really muscular with the way I play. I got it from Billy Preston and his style of organ playing. I’d break a key every night. I was very frustrated that day, I remember the

show and the photo. It doesn’t happen all the time but you’re right, it was a sad night for that keyboard.” Among her collection of instruments at home, Grace also owns a ‘56 Hammond A100, two B3s and a 1972 Hammond Porta B, which her band bought for her as a 21st birthday present. More than anything, Potter is proud of the many hours her band has played and takes a dim view of artists who don’t experience that same collaborative joy on stage. “It pisses me off when I meet musicians who are talented but don’t have that joy of camaraderie with other people, sharing music... people who have worked hard and can really appreciate what it takes to get to this place. Scotty and Matty and I have been together ten years now. To be able to say that I did it with these people, it’s a rich part of the rock’n’roll blanket. I’m very happy to have my family with me as part of it.” Grace Potter & The Nocturnals play Bluesfest, Easter weekend 2013

Buy any two and get Spark Booster for free*

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Purchase a BG250 bass combo, BH250, BH500, RH450, RH750 or Blacksmith bass amp between November 1st and December 31st, 2012, print out and mail in the rebate form, and you will receive a FREE Corona Chorus pedal by mail. Visit holiday-rebate for complete details and rebate forms.

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Troy Sanders - Mastodon




THE TOUGHEST, SMARTEST AND MOST IMPRESSIVE EON EVER The EON515XT was engineered for durability, high performance and ease of use. We have extended the reach of the current EON technology by improving input sensitivity, lowering the noise floor, adding user selectable EQ control, and re-voicing the system for peak performance and enhanced audio precision. The sturdy construction and superior ergonomic design will guarantee a lifetime of reliability and simplicity. Put it all together and the EON515XT is the toughest, smartest and most impressive EON ever.

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“I tried coated strings like everyone else; I didn’t like them. Cleartone are so bright and responsive, I forgot they were coated. Bend them in good health.”

-Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Virtuoso

Hate Coated Strings? We know why... Coa Coated strings you’ve played in the past use tone killing layers of material. The coating gets in between the winds and inhibit vibration. Instead, Cleartone feature the thinnest coating in the industry. At one micron, they feel and sound like traditional strings but with Ins the th added benefit of 3-5X string life. In fact Cleartone’s were tested to be up to 36% louder than the leading coated string brand according to an independent sound lab. For more information visit a




lvarez guitars is one of the biggest guitar brands in the USA, having been at it for over 45 years. The company has a strong affiliation with master luthier Kazuo Yairi who, at 80, still oversees their daily operations in Japan. The Alvarez AD60 CE is part of their Artist series, offering a truckload of features and exceptional value for money with each model. This particular guitar is a full-size gloss-finished cutaway dreadnought fitted with a B-Band Sys 650 preamp. The specs are rather impressive: a lovely warm sitka spruce top, chocolatey mahogany back and sides and a dark, tight grained rosewood fingerboard and a bi-level rosewood bridge designed to maximize sustain. A dovetail neck joint sets the neck to the body, increasing sustain and the note transfer, with notes jumping out into you. Alvarez consider this guitar their best value for money to date, the quality of materials, construction and


Alvarez AD60




craftsmanship normally unseen at this price. Visually, this instrument looks solid and smart with a darker coloured top, unique bridge design, cool pickguard and authentic abalone and mother of pearl inlaid on the headstock, rosette and even on the tips of the bridge pins. A cool cream pinstripe binds on the top to the body and a smooth satin cream binding surrounds the back and sides.


I started by plugging in my Shure Beta 58 and sending the XLR out to my mixing desk, threw on a pair on phones and jumped in for a quick taste of the presets. Immediately levels, compression and EQ sounded right. The reverbs and delays offered in the first group of settings sounded stunning, with the “Cathedral” preset displaying a nice long tail, perfect for a solo performance or ballad. These tones were so great I jumped on over to YouTube for a quick karaoke session to see how they‘d sit in a mix. After having blown my lungs out after a few songs, I noticed that this unit is essentially a Swiss army knife for vocalists, a real quick fix that can work both live and in the studio, and perfect for adding multiple layers to a mix. The “Ensemble” setting provided a good doubled/chorused tone, but it was the “Double Voice”, “Four Voice” and “Unison” patches that were truly outstanding. The “Four Voice” uses harmony doubling in conjunction with a short delay to create four separate voices, and I love this sort of effect live as it really makes the vocal stick out of a mix.


Harmony and Pitch Correct both sounded fantastic, but harmony processing lacks a key input (from say an acoustic guitar or keyboard), so complex pitch shifting based around different chords and multiple keys is a lot harder to coordinate, but if you’re using the harmony for simple songs, you’ll be happy. The effect tracks beautifully and the inclusion of the “Gender” function changes the formant in your voice so your harmonies sound like a different person singing - brilliant! Pitch correct is a lot of fun too. Not only do you get to use it as a contemporary effect, but also for very subtle, natural pitching, making you sound better than you really are (very important for me).

Roland VT-12 Vocal Trainer


he Roland VT-12 vocal trainer is a wonderful tool to develop your singing voice. This handy device comes with a built-in tuner and metronome to aid pitch and timing, as well as 12 warm-up tracks and 186 exercise tracks to turn you into a seasoned veteran. You also have the ability to record tracks via the “Record In” mini jack, as well as evaluating your performance afterwards with the “Review” function. Also bundled in is Vocal Workouts for the Contemporary Singer by Anne Peckham from the Berklee College of Music, acting as a comprehensive guide for the unit, well laid out and easy to understand. I tested the VT-12 with a pair of headphones using the in-built mic to see how well it detected pitch. The mic is very sensitive, showing all the little slides and vibratos surrounding notes you sing. Hitting the “Pitch” button starts you off with an A, and the “b” and “#” keys



raise or lower pitch respectively. Hitting the “Metronome” button engages a click track that’s either changed manually or tapped to a specific tempo. The warm-up exercises have you doing a whole bunch of fun things like buzzing noises and “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” over full backings with real instruments. What’s especially cool is there’s no compression on the voice so you can hear how the singing teacher projects and alters his/her voice to hit certain notes. Each exercise is followed by a backing track so you can practice without the teacher. After you’ve finishing singing, you can analyse your performance with the “Review” button as every exercise automatically records your vocals. After you’ve warmed up it’s time to get into real workouts. Workouts are divided into separate categories for voice type, vocal experience, harmony singing and the famous 50 Concone Opus 9 lessons for medium classical voice. The basic workouts for Low and High Voices are the same, except elevating to different pitches depending on voice type. The exercises have you performing different styles like Rock, Latin, Gospel, Jazz and minor scales, and are a lot of fun, making practice enjoyable and effective. Often you’re just singing phrases, going up by half steps to work on extending your range, checking the note display to for key, or singing in harmony with the teacher, which is especially enjoyable. Advanced workouts are obviously a lot harder, featuring trills that are more intricate and runs, with wider steps between notes. Nevertheless, remember, practice makes perfect so don’t be disappointed if you don’t nail these straight off the bat. Harmony practice is so awesome, as voices are separated in each headphone, so you can isolate either the top or bottom harmony and learn how to pitch against another voice. Finally, there are the 50 Concone Opus 9 lessons for the medium voice. These exercises are even fun if you’re not into classical music, and you can invent opera gibberish like me if your feeling a bit loose on a Friday night. These lessons are world-renowned and will undoubtedly call out to your inner “Bocelli”. The Roland VT-12 is a great tool for any sort of vocalist, and comes with a great book, and superb audio tracks.


he Boss VE-5 is a cool little multi-effects processor that’s simple to use and a lot of fun. It’s essentially a plug in and play unit with 30 well thought-out presets, onboard looper and built-in mic. You can overwrite the presets and access an additional 20 banks for up to 50 patches, with the ability to save three “Favourite Sounds” for fast recall on the fly.

This guitar feels great, as a lovely cutaway provides easy access to higher frets and the silky smooth neck allows you to glide up and down effortlessly. String tension is strong, allowing you to slam the strings with a heavier pick for massive projection and a strong mid-heavy voice. Tuning is an absolute joy as the bone nut and bridge eliminate snags and further add to the tone, the chrome machineheads roll smoothly and the onboard tuner (on the B-Band) is awesome, changing from blue to bright green when the string is in tune. Out of the box, this guitar was almost perfectly in tune, only a couple of cents short of A440. The sound was strong and focused with clear tops and bottoms, with the AD60 sounding a bit bigger than your average dreadnought, producing a solid bass and natural hi-fi tone that’s perfect for recording. Action was at a medium height allowing notes to ring clearly, but making it difficult to play fast single note runs, but finger-picking yielded a smoother tone. Electronics-wise the B-Band SYS 650 is an absolute gem of a pickup, featuring an onboard tuner, controls for Bass, Middle and Treble as well as a midrange notch that scoops out annoying feedback at 330Hz. Ther AST and UST pickups (above saddle transducer/under saddle transducer) sound completely different to each other. The AST sounds very natural highlighting the lower mids, whereas the UST highlights upper mids and presence. You can achieve a killer tone just by blending the two sounds together, without going near the EQ. The Alvarez AD60CE is a professional instrument worthy of high-quality recordings, stadium-sized gigs or your own personal enjoyment. It’s the perfect instrument if you’re at the stage where you want to start gigging or you’re a seasoned pro and open to the idea of using a mid-priced instrument.

Boss VE-5 Vocal Performer





ne of the age-old dilemmas with learning the guitar (or any stringed instrument) is the initial pain associated with fretting down strings, especially when you’re just starting out and playing a guitar with old rusty strings and an action a mile high. Previous solutions have involved the use of ointment (and by ointment I mean alcohol), glues, bandages, turning your amp up way too loud and not caring, the use of fake finger tips like Tony Iommi (who of course had to because of an industrial accident) or simply not caring, full stop. If you are however quick to give up on this fine instrument because of fingertip pain you may need some help … you may need some (enter booming voice) “Rock Tips” (pun intended). I’d honestly have to say the whole idea of liquid calluses had me worried at first. It had me thinking of a science experiment where you actually grow the callous like a carrot or potato in water, and I was afraid I’d end up like that guy in Stephen King’s Creepshow where the guy turns into a plant. Cast your fears aside; this stuff is a great alternative to solutions of the past, working much better than band aids, or household glues like superglue which are really hard to get off and completely desensitize your fingers. Trust me, once you’ve become immune to the smell, it actually works amazingly well (help me I’m turning into a late night TV commercial announcer!). That’s because Rock Tips claim this product has been developed from a medical adhesive for the skin. The solution takes about a minute to dry and comes off with soap and water.


You can select from Soft, Hard, Electric 1, Electric 2 and Robot functions, with the latter snapping everything to a single selected note. I was a real fan of combining the pitch correct and harmony together, using the pitch correct with a specific key and turning the gender back to deepen my shrill Anglo-Saxon voice, while adding the harmony for a unison effect for the sort of “Auto-tune” that saturates the airwaves. Other outstanding presets were “Radio”, for a band-pass radio/ telephone effect, “Heavy Scream”, which pitches down a high scream for a brutal death metal, “Space Lounge” for a flanged robot effect, and “Opera Queen” instantly turns you into a soprano. The onboard mic was okay, though if anything a little honky, and the looper killer, perfect for beat-boxing and adding multiple layers with ease. As a whole, the Boss VE-5 is a superb tool for vocalists wanting to get started with using effects; so much under the hood at this price!

I pulled the bottle out of the pack and slowly applied the solution to my fingertips and flesh underneath the nails. The smell of liquid is just horrible and may have hallucinogenic properties (no sniffing kids), but I soldiered on into the unknown, on my quest for the perfect callus. The solution dries like clear nail polish in about a minute, then you can start playing. At first, the feeling is a little strange; you lose sensitivity but can still feel the strings. After a little while you adjust very well and begin to realise that even everyday guitar playing actually causes a little bit of pain and stress on your fingertips (even with calluses). One coating wasn’t

enough for me, so I applied another layer. At this point in time I’ve recently returned from a month-long holiday overseas having barely touched a guitar in all that time (except for a couple of impromptu performances with an Asian cover band), so my calluses are pretty soft right now. The Rock Tips formula gave me the feeling of old stubborn fingertips from hours of steelstring acoustic guitar playing, so you get a definite edge when it comes to endurance. The experience is quite enjoyable, so I decided to cover the fingertips on my right hand as well for a bit of fingerstlye. The formula definitely works better on your fretting hand because a lot more surface area is required on your picking hand, so you’ll have to really baste your fingers to get the best results. Just about anyone can benefit from the Rock Tips solution, even seasoned professionals who get cracked, dry skin. So if you’re suffering from pain, here’s a tip, get “Rock Tips”.





wo things immediately stand out about Novation’s new MiniNova. Firstly it has some similarities to Korg’s classic MicroKorg, which enjoys a prominent position in my studio. And the second is that it looks brilliant, and this impression just escalates when you fire it up and all those lights come on. It has a very cool futureretro kind of look, with controls that are obviously durable – this is a synth that will beg to be let out of the studio once in a while.

Below the editing section at the top right, where a combination of knobs and sliders allows you to adjust 24 parameters for each patch, there’s a section with eight pads. These can be used to write arpeggio patterns, skip between favourite patches or make adjustments to patches, depending which mode is selected. It’s a clever and tactile way of approaching a few useful performance attributes. Overall the layout is logical and extremely well thought out. My review unit didn’t have an instruction manual and that wasn’t a problem. If you’ve used a synth before you’ll get the hang of it quickly and there’s plenty of material online at the Novation site. The preset sounds can be navigated alphabetically or numerically, and as mentioned are divided into broad genres. One of these options – ‘classic synth’ – is apt because that is what springs to mind when I play this compact beast. There’s a huge range of ‘classic’ sounds, from biting ‘acid’ squeals to stabs and huge pads. The filter sweeps are seamlessly even, and once you get the arpeggiator going you don’t want it to stop. Sonically it’s every bit as good as it looks – a real pleasure to play and the ergonomics are fantastic. Some companies set the bar high. Novation are one of those. Their kit is always top notch and I’m pleased to say the MiniNova continues in that tradition. Editing software and all the necessary in/out connections means this great synth can integrate with a computer-based system, or standalone. It ticks all the boxes for me.


Next in line is the Tokai ES 148, part of their Vintage Series manufactured in Japan. The 148 is a take on Gibson’s classic ES 335 and Epiphone Casino, both extremely popular semi hollowbody guitars renowned for their unique tone and response. The body consists of an arched maple top, back and sides, onepiece mahogany set neck and rosewood fingerboard. The ES 148’s semi-hollow body design heavily borrows from a 335,

The feel is so soft in my hands; it needs to be played lightly for some jazz lovin’ or maybe with a dollop of drive for some blues. I know many guitarists love the smokiness you get from a 335, so you can really drive your amp or pedal, just don’t expect a tight, slamming bass response for ‘80s-era thrash metal. A hearty D profile (think Les Paul Standard) shapes the neck and the body contours beautifully for sitting down or standing up; it’s a pleasure to play in all positions. A medium action and decent string tension (feels like a set of 10s) removes any sort of fret buzz and makes notes sustain nice and long. Tokai’s setup department have done a bang-on job, making sure you clean up your playing so every note is more intentional and focused, and the Kluson-style tuners actually feel better than the real thing, a bit tighter and less sensitive than Gibsons. Clean tones are exceptionally pleasant. You can really hear the top end sparkle mixed with the long, sweet sustain. In this respect, it sounds just like a 335 should, and marries beautifully with a Fender-style amp for clean warmth. Gain also works well for different styles, adding a bit of overdrive on a clean sound for some blues, a little bit of amp drive for some classic rock breakup, or some fuzz for Eric Johnsonstyle leads and Queens of the Stone Age mud. The semi hollow body design ensures that notes naturally sustain, so not a lot of drive is required.



Functionality is what you’d expect in this price range, with the 7” colour ‘TouchView’ display as your GUI, making parameter access easy. A new menu in the top left of the screen allows you to jump around to the different functions and return with ease. Krome uses EDS-X, another of those awesome KORG acronyms that can leave you guessing for a long time. It’s loaded with nearly 4GB of sounds: Kronos-derived full-length, unlooped piano and drum sounds; electric pianos with eight-level velocity switching; 640 programs and 288 combinations, plus 32 drum kits out of the box, with more memory slots for your own sound creations. It also has 256 GM2 programs and 9 GM2 drum kits, making standard MIDI file playback a breeze. All of the bread and butter capabilities are there: Four types of filter routing, two multi-mode filters per oscillator, plenty of useful effects, EQ for each program or song track, and great drum sounds, with a pattern assigned to each program for instant inspiration/jamming fun.


The on-board sequencer features 16 MIDI tracks plus a master track, plenty of memory and templates for easy setup. The Cue Lists, with up to 99 steps in a list, are a great way to set up jukebox-style playback or assemble a different version of your song.


Tokai ES 148

with a strip of solid wood running down the middle with hollow wings added for that unmistakable tone and response. Two PAF Vintage MK2 pickups (made in Japan) sound like the real deal, warm and thick with an open voicing, and the LS VB bridge, in conjunction with the SSG6 Trapeze Tailpiece, borrows from the Casino providing different sustain, tension and overtones to a stock 335. It’s fair to say this guitar is a real piece of eye candy, delivered in a stunning “Sunburst” (in reality Tobacco-burst) finish that shows off the flamed maple top and creates depth with multiple coats of nitrocellulose, like an old American hot rod. The back is just as nice, with a lovely dark shadowing where the neck meets the headstock and body as well as a teardrop sunburst outline on the body’s back.

Krome Music Workstation from KORG

he newest workstation from KORG continues the Japanese company’s determination to provide more features for the working musician’s dollar. Krome is the next model in line from the successful M50 and also utilises many features introduced last year by its up-market sibling, the Kronos. Krome comes in three models, of course: the 61- and 73-key workstations feature a semi-weighted (synth-style) keyboard, while the 88-key model is weighted, utilising KORG’s NH keyboard, which is graded in weight from low to high notes. The look is simple and efficient. On the back are stereo outputs, inputs for pedals and USB connection to your computer, plus an SD Card slot for data storage.



lot of us musicians (including myself ) feel drawn to the timelessness of classic instruments, that iconic Stratocaster snap, fat Les Paul crunch, twangin’ Telecaster jangle and Rickenbacker chime. What’s even better is that one company does them all and has been doing them a long time. Tokai are the masters of reverse engineering, bringing you uncanny copies of the originals as I found out previously when reviewing their “Love Rock”, (Les Paul style) model a while back.



like ‘resonance’, ‘attack’ and so forth. The sound engine is supposedly the same as its big brother the Ultra Nova, and the MiniNova certainly packs some punch. The sound quality is just excellent. It has 18-voice polyphony, three oscillators, 14 conventional wave shapes, 36 wavetables and 20 digital waveforms; 14 filter types, six envelope generators, up to five effects per patch, a versatile arpeggiator, a vocoder and vocal effects processing. With the option of audio-in so you can run an external sound source through its signal processing and a 37-key keyboard, it offers tremendous value in a very compact and stylish package.

The layout is clear and easy to understand, without a reliance on all those hidden menus some synths suffer from. Like the Micro Korg it has a ‘genre knob’ which helps navigate the generous 256 presets, though the inclusion of a ‘dubstep’ option may date quickly. This knob is near the centre with the LED display to the left and a large filter knob to the right, with four more knobs and six banks of parameters, so you can adjust all the usual suspects



This review was done on the 61-key model, so you’ll have to judge the weighted 88-key for yourself. Krome’s main piano sample had me wanting to actually play piano because of its quality, which is amazing in this price range. As a matter of fact, the Krome piano sample is probably bigger than the entire ROM block in most of the competition’s offerings. The GUI is easy and the layout is efficient, the sequencer works well and there’s a downloadable editor (standalone or VST/ AU plug-in), and the little blue LED in the ‘R’ on the back of the unit is cute. The mini-jack headphone output is a bit annoying (why?), but everything works well and the video manual is a very easy to understand guide to using the features of Krome, presented by product specialist, Steve McNally. Krome is a serious contender for your hard-earned!

Simon and Patrick Woodland Pro Spruce guitar REVIEW: REZA NASSERI INFO: WWW.DYNAMICMUSIC.COM.AU

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There’s also a comprehensive pattern generator, drum tracks and polyphonic arpeggiators for helping with instant inspiration when you’re stuck for ideas.

hen I first heard I’d be reviewing a Simon and Patrick guitar I immediately thought of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sounds Of Silence, tumbleweeds rolling along barren landscapes and seagulls soaring over cliffs. What I really should have pictured was the craft of Robert Godin, the innovator behind his own brand of unique instruments as well as Art & Lutherie and Seagull guitars. While the Art & Lutherie guitars are aimed at the entry level/ intermediate market, Simon and Patrick are a step up, appealing to the intermediate/professional player. All production takes place in Canada, so expect quality North American spruce, fine Quebecan craftsmanship and a proven track record. Under the spotlight today we have the Simon and Patrick Woodland Pro Spruce is a simple, wellput together acoustic that’ll spark some interest. This guitar has its charms because it doesn’t go overboard with the bling. It’s both tasteful and classy, with a selection of eye-catching woods that are still a little modest, a soft creamy spruce top with a tightly uniform grain, elegant mahogany back and sides that’s wonderfully speckled and flamed, and an animal-striped mahogany headstock shaped like a lovely old Martin. The rosewood bridge and fingerboard has a fine grain and is so soft and dark it almost feels like ebony, and there’s even a cool centre strip on the back of the body for something extra. Simon and Patrick go to great lengths to tell you they only use the finest materials. Every guitar comes with “a select pressure-tested top” for the highest levels of stiffness and rigidity ensuring maximum harmonic vibration. The body is a little bit smaller on this guitar than your average at about 51cm long and 12.5cm deep (at the base), so it’s very comfortable and not bulky in any way. The most immediately striking aspect however is the toothpick-thin neck that feels more like an electric guitar. The 24.84” neck and 16” fingerboard make it a delight to play and the soft rosewood and super-slim frets makes holding down notes very comfortable and resistance free. The

action is low, really low for an acoustic, so you can shred it up or play bar chords with the greatest of ease. A Tusq nut and saddle are fitted for snag-free string travel and maximum note transfer and sustain, and the custom 14:1 machine heads sit high taking a bit more string than your average tuner as well as maintaining perfect tuning stability. The review model came without a pickup, but you can also get this guitar with a B-Band AT-3 preamp. Tone-wise, this guitar sounds pretty good. The sound is fairly balanced, with a mild top end, rich midrange and a relatively loose bass that carries the note out for a while. One would have to understand that this is a smaller acoustic so it won’t project as loudly or have as much bottom end thud as your average dreadnaught or jumbo. If you’re an electric guitarist who likes small C-shaped necks, low actions and smaller string spacing you’d love this guitar.



Griffin Technology Studio Connect, Guitar Connect and Midi Connect REVIEWER: REZA NASSERI INFO: WWW.GALACTICMUSIC.COM.AU


riffin Technology is a company devoted to providing accessories, cases, headphones and odds and ends for all portable Apple and Android products. For a guy that does a lot of reviews, it’s always interesting to see how innovation renders a different approach to creating music, and how companies involved with technology, like Apple, end up being an essential part of this industry. Today I’m looking at three products from Griffin Technology: the Studio Connect, Guitar Connect Pro and Midi Connect. All three devices are designed for use with iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. First up, the Studio Connect is an iPad dock and audio interface that charges your iPad and sends and receives both audio and MIDI to and fro. The idea of having this kind of setup lets you have your own little recording studio for use anywhere. Even the Gorillaz recorded their last album, The Fall, completely on an iPad. The Studio Connect features MIDI in and

Griffin Technology makes it easier and more affordable to get your own little recording studio happening than ever before. Now ideas won’t get lost when you’re on tour when you set up a little recording studio in your hotel room.


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I plugged my Gibson Les Paul into the Guitar Connect Pro and went into Amplitube Slash, which is a real tone monster of an app. I had a killer tone in no time with nothing other than a guitar, Guitar Connect Pro and iPhone. The unit performed flawlessly with minimal latency, and I can’t wait for someone to rock up to a gig one day with nothing other than an iPhone, and blow away the guy with a $5000 Mesa rig. Finally the MIDI connect is a great little way to get MIDI into and out of an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. This is a very simple way of triggering sounds via a MIDI controller and worked perfectly with Garageband in the same was Studio Connect did, but with just MIDI in and out this time. I used my MIDI keyboard to access a whole library of pianos, keyboards, synthesisers and drums with the touch of a key.

Timberidge TRBC-4ST Acoustic Bass

he Jade-inspired range of Timberidge guitars have been kicking goals recently, and because I’ve had my hands on the adorable Mini 4 Acoustic and Series 1 Dreadnought, I can personally attest to this. These guys are all about quality with their Australian-designed instruments at a fraction of the cost of their international counterparts.

out, a Ÿ� mono audio input, a 1/8� stereo input, an RCA output and a headphone output. I tested this unit using Garageband on the iPad 2, which is a great app filled with virtual instruments and amp emulators and effects. I plugged in my guitar and MIDI keyboard so I now had full access to all the program had to offer. In no time I was writing a song with a great Fender Twin emulation, delicate acoustic pianos, drums and nice fat DI’d bass. I could even plug in a dynamic mic and work on vocals, but was perfect with my quick composition so far. All I had in terms of gear was an iPad 2, electric guitar, MIDI keyboard, headphones and Studio Connect, all of which could be easily transported and set up anywhere. Next, I tested the Guitar Connect Pro, which transforms your analogue guitar signal into a completely digital one. The device is extremely simple with a Ÿ� input and a level control for input sensitivity. Also, the Guitar Connect Pro can be used with an iPhone as well as an iPad, whereas the Studio Connect is only compatible with iPad.



I now have the pleasure of reviewing the Timberidge TRBC-4ST, a full-sized acoustic bass, a concept that first reared its head in my consciousness during the MTV Unplugged years. I’ve always thought a double bass to be more practical, but in reality most bassists don’t know how to play the double bass (including myself ), and some enjoy the unique tone an acoustic bass offers. The TRBC-4ST features a warm solid cedar top (for a darker tone) and gorgeous mahogany back and sides for visual and audible pleasure. A Tusq nut and saddle ensure flawless tone, sustain and tuning in conjunction with four gold diecast tuners and a set of D’Addario EXP Phosphor Bronze strings. Plugged in, a B-Band A3T preamp, pickup and tuner amplify and shape the sound. Out of the box, this instrument looks impressive. There’s a lovely compromise between a unique body shape, rich blend of woods and subtle, classy design. Standout features include the gorgeous warm grain in the cedar, smoky animal stripe on the back and sides, and the tanned neck-join and the raw grain on the back of the neck. In my hands a satin finish is always a personal favourite (usually the gloss is first to go when making mods), and this bass feels fantastic. The neck profile is great and plays just as well as any acoustic guitar or electric bass, and the shape of the body seems to mould into you also for great comfort. The action is low to medium with some fret buzz when you really slam into the strings and the string tension fairly loose so it’s nice for fingerstyle, thumb attack, bending and overall dynamics. Unplugged she sounds great, with a lot more projection and depth than I thought would be possible. The tone is nice and versatile when you dig in with you fingers, from a slow, warm attack at the neck to a hard, fast note when you move closer to the bridge. Using a pick was also effective and will sit nicely if you’re jamming with an acoustic guitarist

or with a little group. The tone in general is very bright thanks to the fresh set of EXPs, and a loose tension and low action make it less desirable for popping and slapping. Without an amp there’s enough depth and projection for solo players and medium volume jams, but anything more will require juice. The B-Band AT3 is simple and sounds fantastic. This bass really translates well plugged in, and would sound fantastic in place of an electric bass when played with a band. The amplified tone is really broad along the whole tonal spectrum with the added brightness you’d expect from an acoustic instrument. The EQ on the preamp is vital for emulating different electric tones. Rolling back the mids, treble and presence for a good slap tone and pumping the mids will really glue the bass to the mix. I especially liked the inclusion of an XLR input so you can go straight to a rehearsal or a gig with just your bass. The Timberidge TRBC-4ST is such a versatile, well thought out instrument.

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Muso Issue #3  

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