I discovered Benn Jordan’s YouTube channel, Benn and Gear through the usual side panel recommendations on the platform. I quickly realized that he is one of the most interesting musicians around. A guitarist who plays upside down and makes extensive use of the Roland VG-99, he is into boxing and MMA, has toured for years as The Flashbulb, combining metal and jazz guitar stylings, electronics, and beats, done extensive music for advertising and museum installations, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Benn Jordan doesn’t actually tell you everything you need to know about MIDI guitar, though he gives you a fair introduction. But he pulls no punches in his review of the Boss SY-1000. His dismay at the presets is more understandable when, later in the review, you get to hear his own presets, which, unlike he Boss ones, sound more like something you might have heard in the last 20 years, and harness the emotive potential of synthesis in a way that the Boss presets fail to do.
One upside of sheltering in place is that it has given me time to get back to playing guitar through my Laptop/iPad rig. I posted some video snippets on Facebook, which prompted some questions about my setup. You can read about some of my earlier experiences here. But the time seems ripe to reveal the results of some improvements in both my technique and the technology.
At NAMM 2020 back in January, the worst thing you had to worry about was getting NAMMthrax (or NAMMonia), that is, a bad cold from shaking all those hands. We live in different times now; hope you and yours are healthy.
What this year’s winter show lacked in number of interesting product debuts it made up for in decibels. Complaints were constant about being unable to hear the gear, or talk to the vendors. (You can experience this in some of the videos). That said, there were a few cool releases that should appeal to the modern guitarist. If April seems late for the roundup, consider that many of these products are just now shipping.
This apparently wasn’t ready for NAMM, and it still isn’t shipping, but it looks interesting. A highly-flexible pedal board with simple controls, Plethora X5 allows you to create and customize up to 127 custom boards with a up to five Toneprint pedals each. Effects include: Hall Of Fame 2 Reverb, Flashback 2 Delay, Sub n Up Octaver, Brainwaves Pitch Shifter, Corona Chorus, Hypergravity Compressor, Mimiq Doubler, Vortex Flanger, Pipeline Tap Tremolo, Quintessence Harmony, Sentry Noise Gate, Shaker Vibrato. Shnobel does a great job of explaining it, or check out the shorter official rundown below. It will be available later this year for $399.