Jump to content

Ara Ajizian

Members
  • Posts

    1,330
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Converted

  • Location
    Medford, OR

Ara Ajizian's Achievements

Newbie

Newbie (1/14)

6

Reputation

  1. Thanks for the review Phil! I happen to be in the market for some cans in the $100 range, mainly for monitoring and for late-night sessions in the home studio, and it seems like these are a good option to look into.
  2. There's too much value in the Gibson name for it to go away forever. Just like Hostess...the Ding Dongs and Twinkies took a short hiatus but now it's like they never went away. Hopefully whoever is in charge of it next focuses on what made the brand iconic in the first place.
  3. Hey Phil! Great to see ya too! Things are good on my end, just working my tail off but I guess that's what I signed up for right?! Hope you're doing well my friend!
  4. Rogue was an MF-designed and manufactured "house brand." If memory serves Wayne Philipp and the MF guitar team spearheaded it and oversaw design and manufacture in China. The goal was to make innovative designs at a low price point but maintain a level of quality that would allow players of all skill levels to find something they like. Like most things at MF after GC formally took over in 2011 (the company was owned by GC but allowed to run independently), it fell by the wayside as GC got most of the resources once things were moved from Medford to Westlake Village.
  5. No Speak No Slave by The Black Crowes has one of the best endings ever. From the time it starts double-timing at about 3:27 is great, but the last 7 or 8 seconds are just perfect. [video=youtube;amApZCVHcOc]
  6. New for 2015 from Michael Tobias Designs (MTD) is the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe bass guitar, a jazz-style monster that's not only a tonal powerhouse but a superbly playable instrument as well. Essentially a beefed-up J-bass at its heart, by combining the advantage of passive/active switching, MTD has crafted an instrument suitable for really any style of playing and any genre of music. The Saratoga Deluxe takes many of its cues from its popular, non-Deluxe sibling: carved basswood body; a one-piece, bolt-on maple neck with an asymmetrical profile; Buzz Feiten Tuning System; MTD quick-release bridge; sealed die-cast tuners; shielded electronics and both 4- and 5-string options with choice of rosewood or maple fretboard. The model I was sent for review was a 5-string with maple fretboard and gloss transparent black finish. The fit and finish were exceptional and the bass was set up and ready to play right out of the case. Passive/Active Aggressive Last year I decided to upgrade the stock pickups in my aging Fender® Jazz Bass, after I introduced an active instrument (an Epiphone Thunderbird Pro V) to my lineup and wanted a little more balance between the two when switching instruments during a performance. After a little time with the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe, I feel like it's the spawn of those two instruments, combining the best features of both in one. That's because with the flip of a switch, the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe goes from passive to active, with a comprehensive control set that makes getting the right tone as easy turning a couple knobs. The controls are as follows, going counter-clockwise from the knob closest to the bridge pickup in the image below, which is a stacked volume and tone control (for passive setting): bridge/neck pickup blend, active/passive selector switch and low, mid and high tone controls for when you're in active mode. The result is an instrument that offers a huge palette of sounds and the flexibility to access them all on the fly. Let's start at the base level, which is the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe in passive mode. It is, quite simply, a beast. The stock hum-canceling pickups are beefy and deliver incredible warmth and fullness, while at the same time cutting through in the midrange and upper registers with clarity. For general rock playing, I found the passive mode to be quite formidable with plenty of punch. A little EQ adjustment on my Ampeg combo and I had plenty of volume and dynamic tone to work with. I like to dig in when I play and hit the strings pretty hard, and dialing back the tone knob cleared out any unwanted pick noise from my (lack of ) technique, without entering into muddy territory. Switching over to the active circuit really opens up what the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe can do and shows what a tonally diverse instrument it truly is. The 3-band EQ controls affect a broad spectrum of frequencies to suit any number of playing styles and techniques. One of the things I enjoyed most about playing this bass in active mode was being able to tweak quickly when engaging effects. I use an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi, which already has loads of settings, but you can't exactly stop playing, bend down and start changing those settings mid-song. Using the active EQ controls on the bass, I was able to effortlessly address any areas that needed it once the effect was on. The delay I use sounds great, but it can suck a bit of life out of a less-formidable bass. With the Saratoga Deluxe, simple adjustments were all it took to beef everything back up. All-in-all it makes for a very satisfying playing experience, knowing that any nuance you want to coax out is at the ready. True tonehounds will be happy to know that MTD offers a Bartolini upgrade option on the pickups. Players' choice There are several features of the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe that make it a very comfortable bass to play. The carved basswood body is sleek and contoured for great balance and feel, and avoids being a back breaker in the weight department. I haven't had much experience with asymmetrical necks, but quickly realized why they're becoming more and more popular. The overall feel is that of a low profile, but the thickness of the neck is variable—thicker behind the lower strings and thinner on the bottom portion of the neck. At first the difference from a traditional neck is subtle, but the more you play, the more you feel the benefits of reduced fatigue and enhanced accuracy. More for less Michael Tobias Designs has really packed a ton of killer tone into this instrument. With an active circuit available at the flick of a switch and a passive circuit full of vintage thump, there's no limit to what you can pull out, and it's easy to tailor to your exact taste and style. On top of that, it's a pleasure to play even for extended periods of time thanks to design elements like the asymmetrical neck profile, contoured body and lighter weight. With reasonable pricing options for both 4- and 5-string models ($819 and $899, respectively), the Kingston Saratoga Deluxe is a fantastic option for players who don't want to compromise quality for price. Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  7. In the world of musical instruments, there are only a handful of companies that achieve legacy status. It usually takes world-class craftsmanship, unique designs that capture the imaginations of players, and superb playability that lets players tap into their creativity and write timeless songs—for starters, anyway. Along the way, it helps to have associations with famous musicians who create iconic music with your products. Not too tall an order, right? So you see, there's a reason why only a few brands are instantly recognizable and revered by nearly all musicians: it's really, really, really hard. If you're a fan of anything Fender® has done in the past 60 years, a reference like The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures and Inside Information is just the kind of reference you want within arm's reach, whether it's to better understand all that this iconic brand has contributed to music or simply to impress your friends and fellow musicians with a stunning reference guide. What You Need To Know • The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures and Inside Information is a must-have book for Fender aficionados, with 96 full-color pages documenting the entire history of one of music's most iconic brands • "Treasures" is the key word here, as this book represents an insider's look at the mojo that has made Fender a household name around the world • Foreward written by "Master of the Telecaster" James Burton • Via an incredible collection of photographs, schematics, internal memos, letters and other reproductions of actual historical documents, The Fender Archives presents the story of the Fender brand in incredibly rich detail • The book covers the entire history of the Fender brand, and several of its inimitable instruments and amplifiers • Not just focusing on the glory years of the Fender brand, Wheeler also details the "dark age" of CBS ownership and the brand's renassaince under Larry Thomas • As much as the book is a celebration of the Fender brand, it's also a history lesson, diving into the world in which Leo Fender grew up to provide context to his innovations in the musical instrument industry Conclusion You don't have to be a Fender devotee to appreciate the attention to detail that Tom Wheeler put into The Fender Archives. With its in-depth and personal look at the inner workings of the company, this book is fascinating on countless levels that will intrigue any fan of the electric guitar and popular music. It's a treasure trove of documents, photographs, handwritten letters, schematics, price lists, advertisements and much more, delivered in a way that really lets the reader experience that history firsthand. The presentation is impeccable, with embedded envelopes throughout that make you feel like you're raiding the Fender vault, finding artifacts like the Western Union telegram from Gretsch in 1951 informing Fender that they were infringing upon the "Broadkaster" trademark, which resulted in the mythical "Nocaster" models. For Fender fanatics, electric guitar enthusiasts and music fans in general, The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures and Inside Information is a must-have reference. Resources Pricing and purchase info on The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures and Inside Information at musiciansfriend.com Learn more about The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures and Inside Information at halleonard.com Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  8. It's always a bonus when pedal makers add a killer visual treatment to a pedal. What that won't change, however, is what's inside, and in the craft of making music, it's better to sound good than to look good. No amount of custom silkscreening is going to change that. When a tried-and-true favorite gets a custom treatment, like VOX has given to their V847 Wah, it's even better. To celebrate the British legacy of VOX and the contributions of their iconic wah, they've released the limited edition Union Jack Wah that delivers the trusted sound of the V847 in an eye-catching new finish. VOX's Union Jack Wah blends the tone and sweep of the V847 with a striking finish VOX Populi Since the original VOX V846 Wah pedal found the feet of rock musicians, wah has been one of the most recognizable effects in modern music. Though it had been used elsewhere, with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," Hendrix cemented in the minds of future generations of musicians the power of the effect, and its legacy can be found across every genre going on a half century later. So while there are plenty of options out there when it comes to wah pedals, there's a reason why VOX wahs continue to dominate in the category. The legacy of that original pedal still shines through today. Today's V847A wah is designed to the specs of the '60s original, with a couple of modern enhancements, namely a buffered input jack and a redesigned inductor that's closer to those used on the original pedals. The V847A also allows for an external power supply. The V847A is among today's standards thanks to its dynamic response and sweep, that takes you from a nice, throaty low end through articulate mids and an enhanced higher range that works particularly well with overdrive and distortion effects. Across the sweep are Jacked Up The British flag, AKA the Union Jack, is as iconic on a global scale as the Stars and Stripes, particularly in music. Pete Townshend single handedly made it a fashion statement (which culminated in those unfortunate Def Leppard outfits—you know the ones I'm talking about). In music, the Union Jack reminds us of the contributions that countless English musicians have made to rock and roll since The Beatles invaded. So to bring it to a VOX wah makes perfect sense. The design is put on the pedal using a water transfer printing process that gives the decal a smooth, painted-on look and feel and brilliant finish. The rocker pedal is white and topped with a blue tread, making for a pedal that looks great from any vantage point. It's as solidly built as it's standard sibling, meaning it's ready to stand up to the demands you put on it. Join the Union The V847 is already a wah that you can't go wrong with. If you're after some flash on your pedalboard as well, then the Union Jack V847 is a no-brainer. Even more appealing is that this limited edition finish costs the same as the standard model ($89.99 street). For something that's functional and bound to be a collector's item once they sell out, the VOX V847 Union Jack is a solid choice when it comes to the world of wah. Resources Read more about the VOX V847 Union Jack Wah Pedal at voxamps.com Pricing and purchase info from musiciansfriend.com Water Transfer Printing Process Demonstration Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  9. Ahh, the theremin. It still captivates us with its eerie, warbly sound, not to mention the touch-free method by which it’s played (it just looks fun, doesn’t it?). Although some might say the theremin’s time came and went, it left an indelible mark on the late, great Bob Moog. His love for electronic instruments began with the theremin, spawning every incredible innovation and instrument that he gave us during his lifetime. And of course, those innovations continue today at Moog Music, so it’s fitting that they have re-imagined the instrument that started it all and brought us the Theremini, a superbly musical and intuitive instrument that incorporates the classic playability of the theremin with a sound engine based on the Animoog. That, and a host of other modern features, deliver an amazing amount of musical potential in an instrument that’s truly inspirational and fun to play. Touchy-feely One of the things that makes the theremin so intriguing is the fact that you don’t actually touch it in order to play it. Every instrument up until the theremin required physical contact with the player to create sound. Even though there are buttons and switches on the Theremini, it’s controlled just like a theremin: there’s an upright antenna for your right hand that controls pitch as you move your hand up and down and closer and farther away; and a loop antenna for your left that controls volume via proximity. The physical response of the Theremini to your movements is outstanding thanks to the analog heterodyning oscillator it employs to control pitch, just like a standard theremin. The Theremini provides you with left/right ¼” audio outputs, a USB connection for handling MIDI data and an analog Control Voltage output for interacting with other analog gear. The ability to use the Theremini with other synths and effects makes its sonic potential limitless. But make no mistake, what it can do out of the box is nothing short of amazing. An LCD screen at the front keeps you abreast of everything you need to know as you play, including preset, scale, root note, and a real-time tuner that shows you exactly what note you’re playing. There’s also a headphone jack and onboard monitor speaker, but let’s face it…you want to plug this thing into something LOUD and explore outer space! I know I did. Sound without limits Where the Theremini really takes the theremin concept into overdrive is with its Animoog-derived sound engine, which essentially makes it a powerful synth with theremin-like controls. 32 editable presets get you started right away, and you can tweak and save them (along with several other parameters) via Moog’s MIDI editor for the Theremini. With names like “Wondertron,” Glockenspiel,” “Strange Stuff” and “Ethersaw,” it’s a wide array of sounds to get started with. From there, you have the ability to adjust the scale and root note. There are 22 scales you can select, from major and minor blues to chromatic, as well as more eclectic choices like Gypsy, Arabian, Egyptian, Dorian and many others. As if all this wasn’t enough, also onboard the Theremini is a stereo ping-pong delay effect with three settings and a blend knob, making its sounds even more otherworldly if you so desire. Perhaps one of the Theremini’s best features is its built-in pitch correction. Because playing a theremin takes some getting used to, Moog added this feature to ensure you always hit the right note. You can have zero pitch correction, where the Theremini functions as any theremin would, leaving it up to you to play the correct notes. As you dial the knob up, pitch correction kicks in to your desired level, all the way to only allowing the notes in the selected scale to be played. It’s a very helpful way to learn your way around the instrument and incorporate it with your music right away. As you improve, you can dial back the pitch correction to take advantage of the effects you can create with your hand movements. Full circle The Theremini is yet another in a long line of innovative products from the folks at Moog Music. In revisiting their founder’s first love, they’ve taken the theremin concept into the 21st century by including classic Moog synthesis for an entirely new palette of sounds while retaining the response of the original instrument. Options for controlling other analog equipment and MIDI capability further its versatility, making this a viable option for countless bands and musicians looking to introduce new sounds and ideas into their music. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air in an instrument that anyone can play, look no further than the Moog Theremini. Resources Learn more about the Moog Theremini at moogmusic.com Pricing and purchase information on the Moog Theremini at musiciansfriend.com Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  10. As musicians, we're always looking to get the most for our money when it comes to gear. More power. More tone. More flexibility. Because all that "more" leads, hopefully, to a rig that inspires you when it comes time to create and play. Unfortunately, for decades we've trained ourselves to think that when it comes to amps and speakers, all that "more" you want also means more weight. Back-breaking weight,in many cases, especially when you think of the monstrous tube heads and 8x10 cabs that bass players have grown accustomed to. Gallien-Krueger has mastered the art of removing the weight from heavy tone, so I was thrilled to have a go at the big daddy of their MB Fusion Series of heads, the MB Fusion 800. They also sent an 8-ohm version of the NEO 410 cabinet, which was an ideal partner for the head. Fusion-powered tone The MB Series of heads from GK embraces a design that aims to put maximum power and tone into amps that are the epitome of portability. All models, including the two MB Fusion heads, utilize a digital power amp to achieve this goal. Where the Fusion models differ from their standard MB Series brethren is the preamp—both Fusion models employ a 3x12AX7 all-tube preamp running at high voltage. The result is dynamic, warm tone you can shape to your liking with the MF Fusion's extensive control set. The MB Fusion 800 from Gallien-Krueger offers 800W of power, an all-tube preamp and much more A tube preamp and high-wattage digital power amp are just the start with the MB Fusion 800. With that foundation and the comprehensive tone controls, virtually any sound you can imagine is at your fingertips. At the core are the footswitchable Gain A/B channels which allow you, along with the Level B control, to instantly jump to a dirtier, grittier sound with a simple toe tap. Of course, you're not limited to grit...you can dial in these two settings to whatever needs you have for your instrument and musical environment. The Contour control offers you a quick mid scoop if you need it for your particular playing style. Fingerstyle players, for example, demand a different sound than pick players, and the Contour control helps you quickly achieve the right sound. It also offers a push function that changes the center frequency, and it incorporates some compression to keep volume levels consistent as you scoop out the mids. Moving to the EQ section, with four bands of active equalization it's easy to get precisely the tone you're after. The Treble knob also boasts push functionality that engages a Presence circuit for enhancing clarity and top-end sparkle. Midrange shaping is further achieved by the Lo-Mid and Hi-Mid knobs, which give you complete control over the punchiness and fullness of your tone. On the lower end of the spectrum, the Bass control not only offers boost and cut down to 40Hz, but with a simple push extends that control down to 30Hz, something five-string players will absolutely enjoy (and four-stringers can certainly experiment with it as well). The Master level knob controls the overall output of the amp. It too is equipped with a push function, a limiter that you can engage to control clipping of the power amp. What this all adds up to is an incredible amount of control over a very rich, tube-driven tonal foundation. Translation: the MB Fusion 800 is ready for pretty much any style of music and any playing technique. Whether you're delivering the pop and slap of old-school funk or digging in with a pick on a five-string in a detuned metal band, this amp is ready for the challenge. As a bonus, all the front-panel knobs are lighted, so you know exactly where things are set from anywhere on the stage. The dual-function knobs will illuminate a different color when engaged as well. The back panel of the MB Fusion 800 offers every pro-level feature you'd expect from an amp in this price range: balanced direct out with pre-/post-EQ selector, tuner output with mute function and effects loop. Additionally, the MB Fusion 800 offers a unique output with a selector switch that lets you connect either headphones for practicing, an unbalanced line out for recording or a Gallien-Krueger MBP Powered Extension Cabinet. With all these features and power, it's really hard to believe the footprint of this amp and the fact that it weighs in at less than six pounds. Lightweight heavyweights As much as I was impressed by the MB Fusion 800's power and feature set, a ton of credit goes to the NEO 410 cabinet that GK sent. It's available in both 4- and 8-ohm versions (as are all the NEO Series cabs), giving you the option to explore different setups and maximize the amp's output. Though I've become a fan of 12" speakers for bass, the four 10" neodymium drivers in the NEO 410 provided an incredible amount of punch and depth, and handled the grittier settings on the MB Fusion 800 head. The NEO 410 weighed in at just 64 lbs.—impressive for a 4x10 cab. The construction on the cab was road-ready and rugged, with reinforced corners, spring-loaded handles and included casters. The bracing and construction of all NEO cabinets reduce resonance and standing waves, ensuring unadulterated tone that always sounds accurate and true. Bi-ampable horns with selectable range in all models guarantee gorgeous, full-range sound. With the heaviest of the bunch weighing in at 90 lbs., it's easy to put together the rig you need and still maintain an unparalelled level of portability. The NEO Series of bass speaker cabinets offer portability, pro features and pure GK tone. Conclusion With their MB Series of heads and NEO cabs, Gallien-Krueger aims to change the way of thinking that's led us to bigger, heavier rigs. No longer does musical, reactive and punchy tube sound have to come from an 80-pound head and titanic cabinet. Even in a small-format amp, versatility abounds thanks to an impressive array of equalization and tone-shaping controls and the 12AX7-based preamp. All the connectivity and power you need are also onboard, making the MB Fusion 800 a robust workhorse for any style and any occasion, from funk to rock and metal, from the studio to the stage. Pair it with the GK NEO Series cabinets best suited for your sound and you'When you're ready to experience the ultimate in tone and portability, Gallien-Krueger is a name that should definitely be on your list. Resources Pricing on the Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion 800 Hybrid Bass Amp Head from musiciansfriend.com Pricing on the Gallien-Krueger NEO 410 Bass Cabinet at musiciansfriend.com Learn more about the MB Series at gallien-krueger.com Learn more about NEO Series bass speaker enclosures at gallien-krueger.com MB Fusion 800 demo by Norm Stockton Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  11. A few weeks back I reviewed Casio's LK-175 keyboard, the mid-range model in the Lighted Keys Series. The series aims to bring a wealth of sounds, playability and learning features to make learning to play as fun and engaging as possible. This week, I'm looking at the LK-260, which adds to the rich array of features the series has to offer. Casio's LK-260 boasts touch sensitivity and loads of features that make learning fun and easy. What You Need To Know The LK-260 is the second-to-the-top model of the LK Series and has all the standard onboard goodies that make the LK Series great for playing and learning: • 400 realistic AHL tones • 150 rhythms • 110 songs • 48-note polyphony • The Step-Up Lesson System takes you on a logical, progressive course that moves at your pace and gets you familiar with the skills and muscle memory you'll need to be successful, while rewarding you along the way • The lighted keys make the learning process easier and faster, and you can turn them on/off as needed • Onboard sampling via the built-in mic • USB MIDI connectivity • Aux. input for your MP3 or other media player • Headphone output for practicing at any hour • A nice upgrade that the LK-260 has over the previously reviewed LK-175 is touch response on its 61 keys • As you progress, it's a feature you'll appreciate as you further explore technique and how your attack can affect the sound of what you play, much like a real piano Limitations As with the other models in the Lighted Keys Series, these instruments are designed for beginners to playing piano, so you're not going to have the breathtaking realism that a keyboard costing thousands of dollars has. But that should be a given. Conclusion For its price point, the LK-260 is an enjoyable, great-sounding way to learn how to play. You'll also have a ton of fun with its onboard sampling, be able to play your own music through its stereo speakers and enjoy its deep array of sounds. If someone you know is showing an interest in music, the LK-260 is an affordable way to get them going on the right path. Resources Learn more about the LK-260 at casio.com Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  12. There's no shortage of devices out there to interface with your iOS devices for creating music. And that's a good thing, because this whole mobile thing is going to be around for a while, and the devices and apps that fuel our creativity will only get better and better. New to the game is the Jamstik, which bills itself as "The Guitar for your iPad." It's a unique guitar MIDI controller that employs real strings, real frets and the ability to optimize it to the way you play for a more authentic playing experience. It has a lot more going for it too, so let's dive in and check it out. The Jamstik's five-fret neck and real strings offer authentic guitar feel What You Need To Know Getting started with the Jamstik and your iOS device is a hassle- and cable-free process. That's right, this baby's all wireless. Once fired up, the Jamstik will show as a WiFi "network" in your settings, and you simply join it like you would any other for a low-latency connection. Working in tandem with the WiFi connection is the jamstik Connect app, a free download from the App Store. With it, you can manage all settings of the Jamstik, including an advanced HTML editor to fine-tune response to your playing. Basic settings are available and give you a good starting point for understanding the way it plays. The jamstik Connect app also gives you a few models to get your feet wet with. Another contributor to the Jamstik's responsiveness over previous guitar MIDI controllers is its "finger sensing" technology. The fretboard uses infrared light to scan what your fingers are doing, allowing the Jamstik to respond quickly once you pluck the string. The real fun with Jamstik starts when you start to integrate it into your favorite apps (Jamstik claims to be compatible with hundreds). The jamstik Connect app gives you a great list if you need some inspiration, from IK Multimedia's SampleTank and GarageBand to more eclectic ones like Moog's Animoog. Just like a 25-key MIDI controller, you can use the "notes" on the Jamstik to control any instrument, all the while maintaining the familiarity of a guitar. The Jamstik can also be a useful learning tool. Another free app, JamTutor, presents you with different exercises that can really be helpful to a beginning guitarist. It also brings new meaning to the phrase "silent practice," as the Jamstik itself barely creates any sound at all, meaning you can feel free to learn in virtually any environment. It's a fun, interactive way to learn that can help you hone your chops when the real thing isn't convenient. Another free app, JamMix, introduces you to making real music with loops, beats and more. The Jamstik also has a few other tricks up its sleeve. One is a concept Zivix calls "infinite frets." Although it only has 25 notes, using the D-pad on top of the Jamstik allows you to jump to a new range, effectively giving you twice the range of a standard guitar. Additionally, the Jamstik's lithium-ion battery gives you hours of play on a single charge, and conveniently charges via USB. Limitations As fun and inspirational as the Jamstik can be, there are certain hurdles that players may encounter. It's priced at $299.99, which could be an issue for players on a budget. There is a learning curve for sure in getting the Jamstik optimized via the HTML editor, but plenty of documentation, how-to videos and demos on the Jamstik website can help guide you through. Lastly, the Jamstik is at its best when it's being used along with music-making apps, which typically cost money. So be prepared to spend some money in the App Store if you pick up a Jamstik. It's money well spent, however. Conclusion The Jamstik has taken advantage of advances in mobile recording to givethe guitar MIDI controller a new lease on life. It delivers a playing experience close to the real thing because it uses actual strings and frets, and allows guitarists to effectively "play" any virtual instrument using the technique they've mastered on guitar. It's a fun way to learn that doesn't encourage bad habits. Once you get past the initial setup and get familiar with the Jamstik, you'll find it's an inspiring and functional instrument that can really spark your creativity. Resources Learn more about the Jamstik at jamstik.com How to do loop recording in GarageBand with the Jamstik Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
  13. The electric guitar has come a long way over the last 50 years, rising up from the confines of the rhythm section in the early days of R&B to a full-fledged, versatile instrument that drives the sound of modern music. And perhaps no element of guitar playing has evolved as much as the guitar solo: from its origins in lap steel passages during the '40s to Chuck Berry's groundbreaking licks in the '50s; through Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page and Townshend in the '60s; through the larger-than-life solos of the 1970s (Freebird, anyone?) and the shredding '80s; into the amalgamation of all that came before that was the '90s and into nu-metal, indie rock and beyond. Imagine what they'll be playing 50 years from now. No matter when or what they've played, guitarists have always sought to play the "perfect" solo. Is there such a thing? It's hard to say, although there are countless solos that sound pretty perfect. Crafting the right solo or lead part isn't just rooted in knowing what scales and notes to play. It's an art, and having a reference that can guide you as a songwriter and guitar player is invaluable. Songs and Solos: Creating the Right Solo for Every Song by Rikky Rooksby is exactly that kind of reference, and it's packed with information that will empower you to write solos that enhance your songs rather than just accompany them. What sets this book apart from most how-to-play guides is that it's wisdom is rooted in the study of hundreds and hundreds of classic songs and solos. In fact, it's not until chapter 6 that scales are even covered. It's not as much about what is played, it's the how and why that make a solo—and the song it's a part of—so memorable. Songs and Solos is divided into 12 sections, beginning with the history of guitar solos and walking you through everything from the basic concept of soloing, how to position a guitar solo, choosing the right instrument (it's not always a guitar) and how that will affect the song and solo, scales and harmony, techniques and much more. In the last four sections, Rooksby combines all the knowledge from the previous eight and put them to practical use. The included CD has over 40 sample solos with backing tracks to demonstrate each concept and help you learn the fundamentals needed to create solos for your own songs. The book closes with a chapter dedicated to quotes from famous guitarists about solos. It's a very inspirational way to bring the lessons full circle, hearing some of the greatest soloists essentially back up what this book is all about. Songs and Solos: Creating the Right Solo for Every Song is an outstanding reference for songwriting guitarists as well as for players just looking to have a better understanding of soloing and how to craft memorable solos that serve the song. We've all sat through a solo and though, "We get it, you know how to play scales." With Rikky Rooksby's tips in this comprehensive guide, you'll learn how to tastefully enhance any song with a solo that goes beyond your own playing. Resources Learn more about Songs & Solos: Creating the Right Solo for Every Song at halleonard.com Learn more about Rikky Rooksby at rikkyrooksby.com Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.
×
×
  • Create New...