In the morass of analog and digital delays on display at the January 2013 NAMM show, the Ibanez Echo Shifter’s ($150 Street) retro styling made it stand out from the crowd. An old school sliding fader to adjust delay time? —Cool! The Oscillation switch too aroused curiosity. It only remained to get one in and see if it was as interesting sonically as it was visually.
The b3 Water is part of Gene Baker’s new line of guitars featuring five models based on the Chinese elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Wood, and Metal. It offers a modification of the archetypical semi-hollow double cutaway in the Gibson ES-335 mode.
Tremolo is not just an effect for roots musicians. It can be used in a variety of musical applications, with the choppier forms especially suited to modern guitar playing. Like all their pedals, Jam pedals’ new tremolo is handmade in Greece.
This is the first Guitar Moderne review to feature a dedicated video demo, so be kind.
Last year, Sonuus first showed the programable Wahoo Analogue Dual-Filter/Wah pedal at a NAMM show. Having reviewed their brilliant i2M audio/MIDI converter, I was interested in anything else they might have up their sleeve, and this new pedal, offering Moog-style filtering in addition to more typical wah sounds, looked promising. The fact that note tracking could modify the filter changes was particularly intriguing. Well, I finally got my hands on one. Does it live up to the promise? Read on…
I admit to having been seduced by the current Jazzmaster craze. I have always liked the look of the body, with its asymmetric design offering an implication of motion. Too, as a modern guitarist, I liked being able to play behind the bridge.
Often, the cables that connect our instruments to our amplifiers can be an afterthought; we grab whatever ones work from among the thos we haven’t lost or left at the last gig, and throw them in the gig bag. Of course we have heard that higher quality cables can make a difference in tone, but few of us have had the opportunity to test a variety side by side. And even if we have, we usually discover that the ones that are audibly different can cost as much as that new pedal we covet. That kind of money seems steep for something we are likely to lose, and what the hell, we can always turn up the treble on the amp.
The fact is, cables do make a difference. So when Planet Waves announced that their American Stage cable utilized “exclusively designed technology to ensure optimized ‘sweet spot’ capacitance and impenetrable shielding to achieve [their] trademark transparency,” I figured I should check them out.
If you are looking for a great Fuzz Face or Big Muff clone, skip this review. If glorious noise is your thing, however, you have come to the right place. Benjamin Hinz at Dwarfcraft doesn’t make clones. He specializes in creating unique tones by tweaking transistors far beyond what they were meant to do.
Tired of hauling around that clunky metal MIDI foot controller? If you haven’t checked out the Keith McMillen Instruments SoftStep yet you need to. It might just be the answer to your prayers. Here is a review I did of an early version in 2010. Most of the bugs have been worked out since, though you will want to baby the MIDI cable input, which could use a a stabilizing clip. [KMI reports that they have addressed this issue in later models].
Let’s face it: guitar synthesizers have been largely a bust. Honestly, how many times have you seen a guitarist on stage with a MIDI pickup controlling synthetic or sampled sounds? Once? Maybe? A few famous players have experimented with them: John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, etc. The general guitar public—not so much. Roland has been trying to make the idea user friendly since the Eighties to little avail, despite great strides in technology. Axon makes a terrific Audio to MIDI converter, which when combined with Graphtech’s Ghost system works very well. I have used them all, but when it comes to laying down a synth part I still reach for the keyboard: easy setup, no tracking issues. All the above companies are still in the guitar synth business so someone is obviously buying them, but for the most part it remains easier to get Charlie Sheen into rehab than to get a guitarist to play a guitar synthesizer.
BACK TO MONO
The first inkling that guitar synth might become more appealing came when I reviewed the Sonuus (not to be confused with PreSonus) G2M audio to MIDI converter a couple of years ago. This tiny box, smaller than an iPhone, provided tracking that rivaled the big boys with much less setup muss and fuss. It was only monophonic but that was easily worked around by layering parts and/or synths. What was less appealing was having to use a standard MIDI cable, in these days of USB MIDI, and having to use a separate cable to output audio.
Apparently Sonuus felt the same way and has now come out with the i2M musicport. Barely larger than the cables you insert, the musicport makes the G2M seem gargantuan. Despite its tiny size and plastic construction, the i2M feels solid. USB power lights up the Sonuus logo for more than decorative purposes. The light lets you know which of four Modes you have chosen by pushing the small plastic button below the first “S” in Sonuus.
PAUL TROMBETTA DESIGN
By Michael Ross
In the summer of 2011 I reviewed Paul Trombetta’s Tornita pedal for Premier Guitar. Trombetta built the fuzz to specs requested by sonic explorer David Torn. Based on Trombetta’s discontinued Donita pedal, it is a high gain, fuzz/distortion that can produce self-oscillating feedback.
I discovered Torn also used the Trombetta Mini-Bone fuzz. A quick check of the Paul Trombetta Design site revealed the Mini-Bone was another interesting unit. After sending the Tornita on to Torn at Trombetta’s request, I decided that I needed to have both. A chat with the pedal-meister led to the construction of my very own Feederbone: a Tornita and a Mini-Bone combined into one pedal.