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Gearcheck: September 2011

Jazzed Magazine • GearcheckSeptember 2011 • September 20, 2011

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Fishman Blackstack Soundhole Pickup

The first product to be introduced from the new “Larry’s Garage” series, the Blackstack passive soundhole pickup allows acoustic musicians to be heard on stage with electric instruments without feedback. Fishman refers to the tone of the pickup as a “vintage roadhouse sound.”

Blackstack offers the cutting vintage sound of a double-stacked humbucking magnetic pickup in a modern, battery-free design. It features adjustable pole-pieces that enable perfect string balance adjustment and help compensate for varying string heights between instruments. A premium TA4 mini-XLR connector is integrated into the housing for easy installation, removal and connection to the included 5 ft. cable so users can create their own custom endpin mounting solution. Retail price: $249.95

Pearl Maracabasa 

The new Maracabasa combines the functionality of a maraca and a cabasa in one hand-held instrument. With the mold of a standard maraca, the ribbed fiberglass body is wrapped in shekere-style beads, which gives the Maracabasa a vibrant and versatile sound when played. This shaker comes complete with stylish foam handles for a comfortable playing experience, and is sold in pairs. Simply shake to use as Maracas or twist to use as a Cabasa. Retail price: $49.

Zoom H2n Portable Recorder

The is the only portable recorder with five mic capsules onboard. This design enables the H2n to offer four unique recording modes: Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90° X/Y stereo, 2-channel and 4-channel surround sound. The H2n is the first handheld recorder to offer Mid-Side stereo recording, a technique used for many years in film and broadcast, where ambiance and surrounding noise are crucial. Mid-Side recording combines a uni-directional Mid mic that captures sound directly in front of you and a bi-directional Side mic that captures sound from your left and right. By increasing or decreasing the level of the Side mic, you can control the width of the stereo field, which gives you incredible flexibility over your recordings. If you record in RAW mode, you can even adjust the stereo width after recording. Using the H2n’s Mid-Side and X/Y mics together, you can create stunning 360° surround sound recordings. Choose between 2-channel mode, which combines the Mid-Side and X/Y mics, and 4-channel mode, which records two separate stereo files, allowing you even more post-production capability.

The H2n also houses an arsenal of comprehensive functions, including Auto-Gain, a compressor/limiter, time stamping and more. The H2n provides over 20 hours of continuous operation on just two standard AA alkaline batteries. Steinberg’s WaveLab LE 7 can be used for audio editing and professional-quality mastering. By using its precise waveform editing and high-quality processing, you can refine your recordings into finished works.

Michael Pluznick Shows You How to Play Afro-Cuban Congas

This DVD from Earthcds Partners features conguero Michael Pluznick’s instruction of conga fundamentals. Viewers will learn how to play traditional and original variations of many of the most popular Afro-Cuban rhythms and rhythm arrangements including Rumba, Bembe 6/8, Mozambique, Guarapachanguerro and Songo. Pluznick offers comprehensive instruction for each and every part of a rhythm, including bells and palitos. He employs group ensemble demonstrations and slow-motion sequences for hard-to-learn parts. Pluznick lived in Cuba in 1985 and 1995, studying from Cuban percussion masters, and he has 35 years of performing, recording and teaching experience.


A Cool Approach to Jazz Theory: A Step by Step Guide to Improvising with Scales, Chords and Progressions

New York saxophonist and flautist Erika von Kleist introduces her first instructional book, a tool designed to help kids of all ages learn the basic concepts behind jazz harmony. Kleist uses a step-by-step lesson plan on how to play chords on any instrument and decipher their symbols, understand progressions, and create improvised melodies that fit the harmony of a song. Students with intermediate ability on any instrument, know some major scales and the chromatic scale, and have had an introduction to jazz are great candidates to tackle the material in this book.


Learn from the Piano Masters of Pops, Blues, Jazz from the Big Band Era

From Bill Irwin’s personal collection of big band sheet music comes this valuable anthology of some of the era’s classic tunes. Including the work of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Nat “King” Cole and more, the book provides analysis of the style and techniques used in each piece of music.


D’Addario Zyex Double Bass C-Extended-E String

This Zyex C-extended-E string will augment the standard Zyex set. Like the standard set, the string uses a synthetic Zyex core that provides gut-like rich and complex tone, combined with power and clarity. Pitch stability is excellent after minimal break-in time, and a thicker string diameter and an overall lower tension make this set ideal for baroque, jazz and free styles.

Zyex bass strings were developed primarily to offer outstanding pizzicato attacks and sustain, as well as superb bowing response. Zyex Double Bass sets and individual strings are available in Light and Medium tensions and ¾ size. All strings consist of Zyex core with the G string (DZ611) titanium wound, D string (DZ612) stainless steel wound, and the A string (DZ613), E string (DZ614) and C-Ext string (DZ615) tungsten wound. The Zyex Double Bass Set (DZ610) consists of standard tuning strings. Retail price: $125.


Martin Expanded SP Lifespan Strings

Martin has expanded the successful SP Lifespan with three new products. Extra Light Gauge 10-47 Bronze and Extra Light Gauge 10-47 Phosphor Bronze will be able to meet the demands for for smaller body guitars and cutaways, a new extra light gauge will be available in phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze.

Since both plain and wound strings are treated with Cleartone technology, the new Martin Extra Light 12 String 10-47 Phosphor Bronze 12 string set will deliver a balanced sound that is sure to please. With the recent and upcoming launch of several new C. F. Martin baritone guitars, Martin has designed Baritone 14-17 Phosphor Bronze strings to be comfortable in both the traditional B tuning and modern C tuning, delivering a new standard in tone. Gauging is 14/20/30/42/54/70.


Tycoon Percussion Black Pearl Series Cowbells

Tycoon Percussion’s Black Pearl Series cowbells are professional quality bells with an outstanding combination of sound and finish. This popular lineup is made up of four different styles – the Cha-Cha bell, Mambo bell, Low-Pitched bell, and Low-Pitched Hand bell. Each cowbell is constructed with premium quality steel, which allows for a focused fundamental pitch with moderate overtones. The Black Pearl series is designed with a rounded surface for easy playing and a sign designed for live performances as well as studio recordings. Collectively, these bells create a full range of high to low tones with an appealing black pearl finish. All Tycoon Percussion series cowbells are individually handmade and tested to ensure superior sound quality and durability.


Samick Greg Bennett Acoustic Guitar

The Greg Bennett GD100SCE PK guitar features new Thunderflex™ bracing that provides a loud, powerful sound. It also features a Fishman™ Isys preamp, solid Sitka spruce top, Nato mahogany back and sides, multi-ply binding, and die cast tuners. The guitar is available in vintage sunburst finish and is accompanied by a deluxe 10mm padded gig bag and easy-to-read chord chart.


Gretsch G612T-GH George Harrison Signature Duo Jet Guitar 

Gretsch celebrates the legacy of George Harrison with the G6128T-GH George Harrison SIGNATURE Duo Jet guitar, modeled on the instrument that Harrison referred to as his “first real decent guitar,” a 1957 Gretsch Duo Jet which he purchased secondhand in the early 1960s. These include a lightweight mid-’50s-style chambered body, all-black color scheme (arched maple top, mahogany back and sides, and back of the one-piece mahogany neck), Bigsby® B3C tailpiece with a black Phillips head tremolo arm pivot bolt, and an offset strap button on the lower bout.
Other features include three-ply body binding (white-black-white), white single-ply neck and headstock binding, 22-fret rosewood fingerboard with 12” radius and hump-block pearloid inlays, two single-coil DynaSonic™ pickups, vintage-style “rocking bar” bridge with rosewood base, silver plexi pickguard, chrome-plated Grover® V98CM Sta-Tite™ tuners, Gretsch “G” arrow control knobs, chrome-plated hardware, Harrison’s signature on the truss rod cover and a premium tweed case.


Yamaha PSR-S650 Portable Digital Keyboard

The entry-level PSR-S650 now offers MegaVoice enhanced Styles found on higher-end Yamaha arrangers. It can load sample data like Voices, drums and percussion and make it instantly available in FlashROM without reloading at each power-up. Styles with MegaVoices make non-keyboard instrument Voices (like guitars and basses) sound authentic using musical articulation previously not playable from black & white keys.

The PSR-S650 internal FlashROM Expansion can store up to 16MB of sample data, allowing users to augment the existing set of 864 internal sounds. The keyboard also offers 181 built-in Styles ready to perform with players when writing songs or just jamming, and users can also play in custom tunings, like Arabic or Pythagorean, using one of the nine preset scales or even create new ones.

Users can record songs or their performances during jam sessions to the built-in 16-track sequencer and use the PSR-S650’s USB TO DEVICE port to store songs, Styles and custom registrations on a flash drive. Create custom Styles by mixing and matching parts and sections from the internal Styles. The USB TO HOST port connects to your computer and the PSR-S650can be used as a 64-note, multi-timbral tone generator. Retail price: $649


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