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Issue 154

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Dear Musician:

warning.jpgSOPA-riffic! The loose but vocal collective that are the denizens of cyberspace achieved a small and perhaps temporary victory last week when several prominent bipartisan members of Congress—and the White House itself—withdrew their support for the proposed House of Representatives bill known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). The bill will now have to be re-drafted.

All of this was the result of the great hue and cry sounded not just by individual cybercitizens but many big organizations (like Wikipedia and Google), some of whom took their sites offline for a day to register their protest. At issue with SOPA, and its Senate counterpart, PIPA (Protect I.P. Act), is how much power the government should have in punishing those who allow access to websites that engage in piracy (the “P” in SOPA), or the illegal trafficking of copyrighted material, most of which is in the form of movies, TV shows, and music.

No reasonable person is in favor of piracy. And many people were reacting to the source of SOPA’s authorship—the entertainment industry—rather than the content of the bill itself. After all, Big Media (including movie studios, networks, and the record companies) are notoriously parochial and primitive in their attempts to deal with the illegal copying and distribution of their properties.

But whether you begrudge the entertainment industry their profitability or not, you darn sure don’t want them in control of the Internet, nor do you want them to be the authors of the legislation that enables their ham-handed tactics. (My longtime favorite example of this is the anti-piracy warning that precedes rental videos, where viewers must sit through an insulting and non-fast-forwardable screen—complete with FBI logo—about how you’d better not be stealing this movie.)

That doesn’t mean the points raised in the now-scuttled bill aren’t without merit. The movie industry doesn’t profit unless it can make money for its Spielbergs, Lucases, Woody Allens, and Michael Bays—the creators and artists behind the industry. This obviously trickles down to the mere mortals—writers and film score composers, session musicians who play on these recordings, and everyone connected to the entertainment business in which we all strive to succeed. No one wants their stuff given away for free. Not if you hope to be a professional at it.

But protecting copyrighted work doesn’t mean that industry-drafted regulations are what’s called for, either. Imagine YouTube not existing because some material wound up being posted that hadn’t cleared the copyright bar. Or shutting down Facebook and Twitter because someone posted a link to a copyrighted video. What next—sanctioning Google for returning a search result that lists a torrent site in Russia? That’s what the broad language in SOPA’s submitted form was calling for.

Swift justice for wrong-doers might be appealing, but the other side of that coin is the “law of unintended consequences”—the phenomenon where passing a law to address one problem results in a greater detriment somewhere else. (Consider 1920s prohibition, Africanized bees in South America, and our own vicious political climate, courtesy of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.) That’s what people are afraid of here.

We need to protect the content producers and their publishers. I don’t want to be in a profession that doesn’t do that. And to be sure, there has been misinformation in the protest language, too. But we musicians—as the ones who are ultimately affected by copyright laws—must be fully informed as to when our rights are being protected versus when our industry overlords are overreaching in their authority. Because one thing’s for sure: that legislation is coming back, just in a different form. And when it does, we need to be ready, and we had better be educated.

—Jon Chappell

This Week on HC

Announcing the 2012 Winter NAMM Content Extravaganza!

ThisWeek\\_154.jpgOur NAMM coverage is now complete, edited, uploaded, and ready for your delectation.

We humbly offer more than 150 videos shot from the show floor (which can be found at our dedicated Official Video Thread as well as on our YouTube Channel and the Video category on harmonycentral.com), hundreds of photos (from the Official Photo Thread and Phil O’Keefe’s Photo Diary and Blog), and numerous discussion threads begun by people looking for specific gear or asking pointed questions related to the show (see our 2012 Winter NAMM main Forum page). You have plenty to keep you busy here, and plenty of media formats to choose from in your quest to learn about all the cool gear released and emerging trends that transpired at the latest NAMM.

We’d like to give a shout-out to two significant video pieces hosted by our special guests. Mats Nermark, our Senior Swedish Correspondent, came through once again with his now-famous “Hall E Crawl,” and Reek Havok, musical Renaissance man and percussionist, took us on a walk-though of his own, for which the only appropriate title we could come up with was “Reek Havoc’s Wacky, Wild World of NAMM.” Thank you, gentlemen, for your insight and inimitable takes on this year’s goings-on, and a big thanks to our readers for contributing to our Forum pages and YouTube channels by watching and posting. And remember to check back often, because though we’ve got all the content up, the discussions will go on for some time to come.

Featured Articles



Craig thumb.jpg

Big Sounds with Virtual Stacks

By Craig Anderton

Use amp sims to create stacks that would be difficult, or even impossible, to do in the physical world

Product Review


Fender Performance Inspired Cables

By Jon Chappell

Many guitarists ignore this vital part of the signal chain, but these cables are not only sonically transparent, they won't kink up on you—and that's something everyone will notice

Hot Tip!

Have You Adjusted a Pickup . . . Lately?

HCC\\_154\\_HotTip.pngHotter is not always better, especially when feeding today’s digital effects, amp sims, and other processors. A plucked guitar string generates a major initial transient, and while a tube amp and speaker will tend to “soak up” the transient, digital devices aren’t quite as forgiving—and that transient could produce a nasty spike, overload the effect or sim, and produce digital distortion. Watching the input meter may help, but not always; the response might be too slow to catch really fast transients.

This becomes more of a problem with heavy gauge strings, forceful playing styles, and if you’re more into playing rhythm guitar than lead. But there’s a simple solution: Lower your pickups slightly with the adjustment screws on either side of the pickup.

A string cutting across the pickup’s magnetic field generates an output voltage, but this is subject to the inverse square law, which means that the output drops off rapidly as you move the pickup further away from the strings. So, lowering the pickup by only a few millimeters might be all that’s needed to give a more input-friendly signal to your effects. What’s more, you may actually find that the sustain increases somewhat with a lower pickup position. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that angling the pickup can help emphasize the lows over the highs, or vice-versa.

There are really only two cautions: Use the correctly-sized screwdriver to avoid damaging the screw’s slot (this is particularly important with Phillips head screws), and don’t force the screw further than it wants to go to avoid stripping the threads. Most importantly, feel free to experiment—chances are a little time spent adjusting pickup height will help improve your tone.

— Craig Anderton

Featured Industry News

This week's pick hits from our News section

Lace Music Products Releases S-100 Lace Sensor Single Coils

PreSonus Ships BlueTube DP V2 and TubePre V2 Tube Preamps

Allen & Heath Launches Two New ZED Models

New! Daring Audio Introduces Bass and Guitar Pedal: a Harmonic Exciter and Natural Overdrive, the Edge Activator HD

Mojave Audio Announces New MA-301fet Condenser Microphone

Introducing the VHT Special 12/20RT

New "Dangerous Source" Monitor Controller Announced at NAMM

Propellerhead Releases Ryan Greene Alt Drums ReFills for Reason

Fret-King Black Label Unveiling Helps Make 2012 the Best NAMM Show Yet for JHS

MOTU Introduces MicroBook II Audio Interface

Forum Watch
A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums

The Official NAMM Show Video Thread: Over 150 Videos from the Show Floor!

Quite a few people find it easier to browse our videos in the Harmony Central forum format than on our YouTube channel—and this is the official thread where you’ll find all our latest NAMM show videos.

Sonuus Wahoo

The Effects forum discusses the new Sonuus Wahoo dual analog filter pedal that was recently introduced at the NAMM show. Come check out the videos, and join into the discussion regarding this innovative new pedal.

Is There a Guitar(s) You Own that You'll Never Sell?

If you’re a certified guitar geek, the pictures alone are worth it.

This Piece of Music Moves Me in Ways I Cannot Explain

We don’t get a lot of classical music threads around here, but this one is really quite interesting—and makes a good case for seeing an orchestra in person while there are still orchestras to be seen.

Do You E-Bow?

Greg Heet’s E-Bow has been around for decades, and accumulated a devoted group of fans. Find out why they like their E-Bows, and how they use them.

Multiband Compression

A discussion on multiband compression—how long it has been around, some of its strengths, and how and where to use it.

Recorded Covers that You Thought Beat the Originals

It should come as no surprise that the majority of opinions in this thread come down on the side of the cover versions. And that’s without considering any Bob Dylan–penned songs!

Fishman Solo Performance System?

The OP wants to downsize. Fishman Solo Performance System? Bose L1? Something else altogether? The Solo and Duo Acts forum speaks from experience.

Fixing the Output Jack of a Semi-Hollowbody

A semi-hollowbody guitar presents the worst of both worlds for internal fixes: too skinny to work within the cavity, yet not offering strategically placed access points the way a solidbody does. It’s real ship-in-a-bottle work, so check out how these contributors brainstorm to help a fellow forumite fix a problematic output jack.

DI Box Suggestions?

Using DI with bass is a common technique, both live and in the studio. But which DI? The Bass Forum definitely has some favorites.

This newsletter was sent by Harmony Central. Harmony Central respects your privacy and will never ask for personal information in a newsletter; for more information, read your privacy rights.

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EditoriaCraig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor

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