Archive for July, 2016

Pete Townshend Strat

Known for his pummeling guitar work with The Who, Pete Townshend introduced a new sonic and visual vocabulary to rock ‘n’ roll with his masterful playing, inspiring countless guitarists to pick up their guitars and play. His innovative songwriting powered The Who’s rise to the forefront of the British Invasion and his auto-destruct-powered live performances set the standard of showmanship for rock guitarists. Since 1989 Townshend has played a Fender Stratocaster modified to meet his unique needs—and now the Fender Custom Shop is proud to present the limited edition Pete Townshend Tribute Stratocaster to players and fans.

One of Townshend’s hallmarks as a songwriter is his use of intertwined electric and acoustic guitar sounds. At his request, Fender incorporated a method for him to easily access both voices without switching guitars. A two-post Fishman™ Powerbridge tremolo bridge provides a palette of acoustic and hybrid acoustic/electric tones for Townshend to easily access as dictated by his needs.

Townshend has never been one to shy away from incorporating technology into his sound; the Townshend Tribute Stratocaster uses three Lace Sensor Gold™ single-coil pickups for noise-free performance inspired by classic, crisp, bell-like Fender tone. The pickups’ signal is boosted by an onboard Fender preamp to drive a tube amp into gloriously creamy and harmonically rich overdrive.

Designed to meet Townshend’s wide-ranging needs while performing his classic catalog, this instrument is the perfect palette for guitarists who need both acoustic and electric sounds without switching instruments. Blending modern musical technology with Fender’s timeless guitar design, the Pete Townshend Tribute Stratocaster is perfect for players who need a flexible guitar that will easily stand up to a few windmilled chords while sounding great all night long.


 

Meet The Pedal That Makes Your Guitar Sound Like An Orchestra

Check out the MEL9, its the latest creation from the creative folks at Electro-Harmonix.

This peda will extend your imagination as it simulates those classic sounds of the Mellotron, the early synthesiser which used rows of tapes to emulate sounds like orchestra strings.

You know those flutes at the beginning of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ by The Beatles? Yeah, that’s the sound of a Mellotron. You’ve likely heard similar types of sounds all throughout rock and roll and pop music. particulary the sounds of Genesis and the Moody Blues.


Mellotrons are quite a coveted item amongst studio and recording geeks, but they’re pretty pricey and require regular maintenance. Since people well-versed in Mellotron maintenance are hard to find these days, that’s also expensive. But Electro-Harmonix have put a Mellotron in the palm of the hand of any guitarist. As Mixdown reports, the MEL9 has settings for nine different sounds inspired by the Mellotron, including orchestra, cello, flute, and strings.

No modifications or special pickups are necessary for the MEL9 to work, you just plug in, and it can even track bends and slides, so you can actually make your orchestra rock a sweet shredding solo.

One of the best ways to improve as a musician is to record your own playing. Sure, it can be frustrating and disappointing when you hear that you’re out of tempo, out of key, or out of tune. But knowing your weaknesses is the first step to improvement, and hearing a well-played number is its own reward.

I can remember when decent-quality recording was complicated and expensive, but today inexpensive flash-memory recorders—at most every price point and with any feature set—are capable of remarkable fidelity. Every music recorder I’ve researched can capture in so-called high-resolution formats, using sample rates and bit depth greater than the CD standard of 44.1 kHz and 16-bit depth, although it’s hotly debated whether these formats offer any improvement in audio quality. All of these recorders can record compressed audio using the MP3 format and uncompressed audio in WAV format. Compressed formats take up less room and are handy for passing around on the internet, while uncompressed formats provide higher quality and are preferred if you plan to process your recordings to create audio CDs or add such effects as equalization, reverb, and compression.

In addition to sound quality, you’ll also want to consider ease of use (the navigation of settings can vary considerably), storage capacity, and battery life.

The Memory Game

The devices discussed here all use solid-state memory in the form of standardized flash cards. Flash cards come in three sizes: CF (compact flash), SD (secure digital), and micro SD. The capacity of these cards has increased over the years, along with improvements in read and write speed. The original SD card had a maximum capacity of only 2 GB (gigabytes). The SDHC (secure digital high capacity) standard increased the maximum size to 32 GB, and the newer SDXC (secure digital extended capacity) can reach a maximum of 2 terabytes, or 2,000 GB. Some recorders are limited in the class of SD card they can use, so check carefully when purchasing a recorder and flash card. (Manufacturers generally provide a list of confirmed compatible cards with the documentation for their recorders.)

Large capacity cards are great for video and even high-end photography, but for audio recording, even the smaller flash cards store a lot of music. CD-standard WAV files take up about 10 MB per minute, so a 2 GB card will hold more than three hours of music in uncompressed WAV format. Compressed MP3 formats are even smaller, and the size can be adjusted by selecting different compression levels, specified as bit rate in kilobits per second (kbps). For instance, five minutes of music would create a 50 MB WAV file, while a 128-kbps MP3 file would be only 5 MB; at the highest bit rate of 320 kbps, the compressed file will be about 10 MB. There’s a quality tradeoff for smaller file sizes, of course. In general, the 320-kbps MP3 is audibly the same as a WAV file, while the 128-kbps file may have audible artifacts.

Budget Constraints

With so many recorders and a wide array of features available, finding the right tool for your job can be a challenge. Your first step in filtering the choices is to determine your budget, then evaluate the features you need for your recording goals. Most of the recorders have built-in mics, but most also allow you to attach external microphones. Most portable recorders have a stereo 1/8-inch jack that uses a microphone powering system called plug-in power, and there are a wide variety of mics that can be connected in this way; however, the usual stage and studio mics will not work with this connection because they require an XLR input, and condenser microphones additionally need phantom power to operate.

The least expensive recorders designed for music have a street price of less than $100. Both Tascam and Zoom make high-quality, affordable flash recorders in this segment that record in stereo using built-in mics or external mics through the 1/8-inch stereo jacks. The Tascam DR-05 offers features including a limiter and clip editing, while the Zoom H1 is equipped with directional mics for an improved stereo image.

If your budget extends to $200, the choices really expand. In this range, you can find recorders like the Zoom H4n and Tascam DR-40 that support condenser mics requiring XLR connections and 48-volt phantom power. Only a short time ago, these features were limited to professional studios, but today they’re in the palm of your hand. Other features in this segment include overdubbing and multitrack recording, although the user interface for such features in a compact recorder can be a bit challenging. Zoom offers surround recording in their H2n with a combination of XY and mid-side mic arrays, while Tascam has recently released the DR-22WL with Wi-Fi control and file transfer using your smartphone.

When you look at the next segment, up to $300, there are some very interesting tools. The Zoom H5 lets you swap attached mics among XY, mid-side, and shotgun modules, along with two XLR inputs and four-channel recording. TheTascam DR44-WL adds Wi-Fi control along with four-channel recording using attached stereo mics and dual XLR inputs. The Sony PCM-M10 is known for its amazing battery life and low self-noise.

Above $300, you get to some real powerhouse recorders. The Zoom H6 andRoland R-26 are six-track handheld recorders, great for capturing small groups. The Marantz PMD661 MKII, Fostex FR-2LE, and Sony PCM-D100 capture two channels of pristine audio. Only the Sony includes built-in mics in this group, but the other two are worthy of the finest external condenser mics and offer XLR inputs and phantom power to operate them.

In this golden age of compact recorders, you can buy an impressive device for the price of a nice instrument case—one that fits in your hand and captures every nuance of your playing.