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Archive for the ‘guitar accessories’ Category

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Sennheiser ew 172 G3 Wireless System

Summary: If you’re looking for a great instrument wireless system that is both easy-to-use and a snap to set up, look no further!

Pros: 1680 available frequencies make this ideal for busy RF venues. Super easy to set up sensitivity levels. Transmitter sports a metal housing, so durability shouldn’t be an issue. Integrated guitar tuner in transmitter – works great! 25Hz low-end response – great for bass!

Cons: None.

Features:

  • Sturdy metal housing (transmitter and receiver)
  • 42 MHz bandwidth: 1680 tunable UHF frequencies for interference-free reception
  • Enhanced frequency bank system with up to 12 compatible frequencies
  • High-quality true diversity reception
  • Pilot tone squelch for eliminating RF interference when transmitter is turned off
  • Automatic frequency scan feature searches for available frequencies
  • Enhanced AF frequency range
  • Increased range for audio sensitivity
  • Wireless synchronization of transmitters via infrared interface
  • User-friendly menu operation with more control options
  • Illuminated graphic display (transmitter and receiver)
  • Auto-Lock function avoids accidental changing of settings
  • HDX compander for crystal-clear sound
  • Transmitter feature battery indicatation in 4 steps, also shown on receiver display
  • Programmable Mute function
  • Integrated Equalizer, Soundcheck mode and guitar tuner
  • Contacts for recharging BA 2015 accupack directly in the transmitter
  • Wide range of accessories adapts the system to any requirement

Price: $499 street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I waited a LONG TIME to pull the trigger on a wireless system, and while I could’ve gotten a cheaper one that would work well, but it was hard to argue with the frequency coverage of this unit. The added features of a guitar tuner and EQ are great, but the ease of use factor really hit home with me as well.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been holding out a long time to get an instrument wireless system. When I finally pulled the trigger, I decided upon the Sennheiser G3 Wireless system; first and foremost because of the number of frequencies it has on tap, but honestly, also because it’s a name I trust as my performance mics are Sennheiser. I’m not being a cork-sniffer here. I swear by the brand because of the years of great performance I’ve gotten out of other Sennheiser equipment, so it stands to reason to trust it for something completely new.

As it turns out, true to my past experience with Sennheiser gear, there was absolutely nothing to be disappointed about with the wireless system. I took it to my church gig yesterday and it well, just worked, with no tweaking on my part; save for adjusting the sensitivity levels which I didn’t even think to do when I first opened up the box. In fact, I didn’t even read the manual when I took it out to try in my studio. I just attached the antennas to the receiver and plugged in the instrument wire into the transmitter, popped in the batteries, and let ‘er rip. It literally took less than a couple of minutes to get up and running. Insofar as my church gig is concerned, it was a great venue to put the unit through its paces, as there are potentially several wireless units in operation at one time, including my own wireless headset mic. I’ll talk more about the system’s operation below.

In any case, since this isn’t something that actually makes music, my review areas are going to be a bit different from my normal reviews.

Ease-of-use

As I indicated above, the unit’s pretty plug and play. But of course, you should check the sensitivity of the transmitter and receiver to make sure you’re not overdriving the unit. The LCD’s on both the transmitter and receiver makes setting sensitivity of either unit a snap. Both have an active meter and navigating to the sensitivity menu is just a couple of button presses. Sennheiser did a great job with the menus to make them only two levels deep, so you won’t have a problem getting to the parameter you need to set.

Durability

Both transmitter and receiver have very sturdy metal housings, so you needn’t worry about the units cracking. The transmitter has a real solid feel, and that instills confidence that you don’t have baby the unit, though of course, it’s always good to take care of gear.

Performance

Despite having 1680 UHF frequencies to scan, the receiver locks on to a usable frequency almost instantaneously once you turn it on. That is such a boon to using the unit. You switch it on, and you can use the unit.

One of the tests that my sound guy and I did was for me to walk a distance away from the receiver to see if it lost connection. I honestly don’t know what the maximum range is, but no matter how far I got away – I got about 100 feet away – the transmitter and receiver didn’t lose their connection to each other.

To save battery life, when I’m not playing I always switch off the transmitter on my headset mic. I did the same with the G3 in between songs. Every time I switched it back on, making a connection to the receiver only took a couple of seconds.

Final Verdict

I haven’t even begun to explore all the different features that this system has; one of which is a cable emulation mode that simulates a cable’s capacitance to ensure consistent operation of your effects and amp settings whether you’re plugged in or wireless. This a great feature. Admittedly, I didn’t use this, but my rig sounded pretty much the same with the same dynamics once I dialed in the sensitivity of both transmitter and receiver. Or it could be that the only thing I obsess about with my tone is if it sounds good and I’ve got dynamics. Minute changes due to changes in my chain don’t really bother me too much. So if I got a slight change in tone, since my sound with the G3 system was good with no loss in dynamics, it didn’t trigger anything displeasing with me.

But other than performance and sound and all the other stuff I discussed, going wireless is simply fantastic. I like to move around a lot when I perform, and not being tied to a spot by a cable is so freeing! It really boosted my ability to lead musical worship, and that is so COOL!

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Wow! I didn’t realize how fun doing videos would be! Expect to see more video reviews in the future! In any case, here are some key points:

Tone Bone Rating 5.0
Notes I LOVE this stand! I’m going to get a couple more! Very well built and lightweight, it’s a perfect stand not just for the stage, but also in the studio where its small footprint won’t take up much space!
Price $34.95
Pros Very easy to fold up and lug around
Cons May not work for bass – it works for mine, but fat basses may not fit (this is not really a negative, just a warning)

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Click on the picture to see an enlarged view.

Wicked Woody “Original” Pedal Board

Summary: Handmade with carpentry-grade wood, this is one gorgeous pedal board. Nothing like making something so utilitarian a virtual work of art!

Pros: Completely handmade with high-grade wood that doesn’t only look great, it’s lightweight as well! Platform is reversible so you can configure the board to have your volume or wah pedal on either right or left sides. Lots of space under the platform to fit a power brick and stow your plug, and the routing on the top makes it easy to run your cables.

Cons: Could use some rubber or silicon feet to protect the bottom from scratching and elevate it above possible spills (think bar gig).

Features:

  • Elevated pedal platform. With an elevated platform, it is both easier to see, and easier to reach all of your pedals.
  • Handmade, of the highest quality certified hardwood plywood. Durable finish that will protect your woody for life.
  • Easy cable management, with the cable chanels routed into the platform it is a cinch to place your pedals in any configuration you desire, and wire them however you would like.
  • Alternative storage, under the platform for your power supply or other storage needs.
  • Measurement: 24″ X 15″

Price: $80 direct

Tone Bone Score: 4.75 ~ I’ve never seen a pedal board that looked so nice. Despite its looks though, I really would’ve liked to see some “feet” on the bottom for some extra protection. Something that looks this good should be really protected. That said, it’s easy to get some hardware that’ll do the job with minimal effort. But if it had that right off the bat, I’d give this puppy a 5.0!

For Goodness’ Sake! It’s Just a Pedal Board!

I would venture to guess that most players don’t really put to much thought into the “look” of their pedal board other than if the cables are nicely arranged and out of the way. But lots of players obsess over the look of everything in their rig; even down to their pedals’ paint jobs. So why not put them on a platform that really shows them off, as well as being useful? Aesthetics are a good thing. Myself, I tend to be far more practical to even consider something like this, but hey! Cool is cool in my book, and although I may not normally consider having a board like this, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one gorgeous piece of functional hardware!

From my point of view the Wicked Woody pedal board is like a nicely shined pair of shoes. Most people wouldn’t normally notice them, but they do notice that there’s something “nicer” when you wear them. Such is the case with the Wicked Woody. It’s not a showy and sparkly, but it just looks well, nice. Besides, there’s nothing sweeter-looking to me than nicely grained wood, and all Wicked Woody pedal boards are made of high-grade woods, with a nice, smooth finish. In other words, the provide a sweet presentation platform for your pedals!

Setting Up the Board

When I received my evaluation board today, I was amazed by how lightweight it was, but it was absolutely solid. The plywood used would not bend or give at all! But in addition, it looked fantastic! I know, it’s kind of hard to be excited by something so utilitarian, but this board looks so good – it kicks ass!

Luckily, my evaluation board also included some velcro strips, so it was a simple matter of attaching them to the board. I got a fairly long length, so I just cut it in two and laid the strips straight across the board. If I were to actually keep the board, I’d be a lot more meticulous and place strips so the they don’t show at all. But for my evaluation, I just wanted to be able to easily arrange my pedals.

I have to say that I’ve never seen my pedals look so good. 🙂 Here’s a picture:

A very cool thing that I liked immediately was that the platform fits my back line of pedal risers perfectly! Four pedal risers fit exactly flush to the edges of the platform. The folks at Wicked Woody say you might not need pedal risers, and based upon the space between the front and back lines and the nice angle of the platform, I’d tend to agree with that. But with my clumsy, double-E feet, I need every advantage I can get, so it’s very convenient that the platform fits the pedal risers so perfectly.

You can clearly see the route in the center. There are actually two routes, but the upper one is obscured by my pedal risers. But both are very conveniently placed. The platform has a round hole on each side to run cables through as well. That is very convenient as I was able to run the power and connector cables underneath the wah. Then to connect the wah to my next pedal, I ran the connector through one side hole, then out the other side hole to connect to my CE-2. When all was said and done, I was impressed by the arrangement. Plus, the big base board really creates a nice spacious effect.

Now I know there’s a lot of debate with the placement of a wah pedal. Should it be before or after the drive pedals? I happen to prefer mine to be placed after my drive pedals, so the default arrangement, with the wah pedal on the left was perfect for me. However, for those who prefer it to be on the other side, the platform is reversible. You just have to unscrew the platform from the bottom of the board, turn it around, and you can place your wah (or volume or expression pedal) on the right side.

I didn’t take a picture of the back of the platform, but there’s plenty of room underneath. I placed a fuzzy strip underneath the platform, and put my Dunlop DC Brick there then ran the power connectors to the pedals through the routes. Having those routes is a real nice feature because it keeps your power cable runs nice and neat – and hidden from view. There’s also plenty of room underneath to place a spare pedal or two (as long as they have a low profile), and of course, you can stow your plug underneath during transport.

The eval board didn’t come with a case, so I’m not sure if there is one available. Hopefully there is one available because I’d definitely want one to transport the board to and from gigs if I owned one of these beauties.

So… overall impression? I dig this board. It looks fantastic, but it has some very nice features that make setting up your pedals a breeze. It literally took me less than 10 minutes to get everything hooked up. Granted, if I owned one of these, I’d take a bit more time to make everything perfect, but one could do a lot worse.

Update: April 1, 2010

Just got a message from the folks at Wicked Woody. They don’t have a case for their boards yet, but should have one as an option within the next couple of weeks. This is great news!

For more information, go to the Wicked Woody site!

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Click on the picture to see an enlarged view.

Radial Engineering ProDI Direct Box

Summary: Need to plug your acoustic guitar or bass directly into your mixer or DAW? Don’t do it without one of these units.

Pros: Completely passive DI, requires no internal or external power sources. Super-transparent, the ProDI adds no artifacts to your tone. Used with an acoustic guitar, it makes your guitar come alive!

Cons: None

Features (from the Radial web site):

  • Full range passive direct boxes
  • Isolation transformer eliminates noise
  • Very low harmonic and phase distortion
  • Compact and rugged design
  • Ideal for live sound and studio
  • Mono (ProDI) or stereo (ProD2) models

Price: $99 street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ Talk about having my acoustic guitar just come alive! If you’re not using a DI when plugging into a board, you need to get this!

For my solo acoustic gigs, I’ve been using my DigiTech Vocalist Live 4 for the last couple of years, and it has been terrific. But back when my Ovation got damaged (which I’ve since fixed with a little wood glue), I’ve been using my Fender Stratacoustic with the Vocalist. Unfortunately, the Vocalist doesn’t like input gain of the Stratacoustic, and driving hard on the strings would cause the Vocalist to overdrive, and cause a pop in the PA system. Not good. Luckily, the Vocalist Live has a Guitar Thru jack, so I could route the signal to another channel on the board.

But that meant that I was going to be plugging direct, and I knew that plugging an acoustic directly into a board doesn’t sound very good at all. Not only is the sound muddy with way too much midrange “goop,” there’s also a huge loss in dynamics, ultimately making the guitar tone flat and lifeless. While I don’t completely understand the electronics, the problem apparently lies in the impedance mismatch between guitar and board; and if I’ve learned anything impedance mismatches from working with attenuators, impedance mismatch is a big culprit for loss of tone and transparency. Enter the DI, or direct input box.

The main purpose of a DI box is to take one type of electronic signal, convert it to a magnetic signal, then convert it back to an electronic signal again. The  device used for this is a transformer. With a DI, the unbalanced, high-impedance signal coming from the guitar goes into the transformer, which “transforms” the signal into a balanced, low-impedance signal on the other end. The net result is that impedances are properly matched on both ends, theoretically retaining your tone. Now, enter the Radial ProDI.

I knew I had to get a DI, but wasn’t sure about which one to get, as there are many to choose from. But a quick call to Jordan at Gelb Music got me on track right away. I’ve been buying gear from him for years, and he knows my rig. So when I explained what I wanted to do, he had an immediate recommendation: The Radial Engineering ProDI.

Jordan told me, “I just recorded some acoustic tracks directly into a board, and used the ProDI. I was blown away by the tone. It totally made my guitar come to life – even plugged in! And at $99, it’s totally worth it.”

That was enough of an endorsement for me. Yeah, you could say it’s just another sales guy trying to make a sale, but I’ve been dealing with Jordan for awhile, and not only is he knowledgeable, everything he recommends, he plays. That’s Gelb’s shtick. They have an unsaid policy that their sales guys can’t make recommendations on anything they haven’t played, so you can be assured that their recommendations are reliable. I’ve been buying gear from them for years, so I’ve experienced that first-hand, AND benefited from that policy!

How It Sounds

I put together a couple of quick audio clips to demonstrate the difference between going direct into my DAW vs going through the ProDI.

Guitar straight into the DAW

Guitar into the ProID then into the DAW

One of the reasons I chose the Stratacoustic was because of the fantastic Fishman pre-amp and dual pickup system it uses. Plugged in, it sounds incredible. But even plugged in, there’s a detectable (at least to my ears) muffling of the tone, whereas with the ProDI, the guitar sounds richer.

I realize that with these recordings the differences are subtle at best. However, the difference was far greater plugged into the board at the restaurant I played at on Friday. I did an A/B test during sound check, and I couldn’t believe the difference in clarity between going direct into the board, and going through the ProDI first.

Overall Impressions

This is yet another piece of gear that I cannot live without for going direct. It’s a simple box for sure, but at $99, what it brings to the table is so much! For more information, check out the Radial Engineering ProDI page!

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Could this be the last tuner pedal you’ll ever need?

I don’t see how I missed this! I scour the ‘net daily for new stuff, especially from companies that are known to create really high-quality stuff – like TC Electronic. These Scandinavians are incredible inventors, and I haven’t seen or played one one thing of theirs that I didn’t like – though I could rarely afford it. But they’ve come out with a new tuner – yes, a tuner, of all things – that is completely different from any other tuner on the market. It’s called the “Polytune.” As its name implies, it is a polyphonic tuner; that is, the tuner can detect all your strings at once, and you can see which ones aren’t in tune at the click of a foot switch. Unlike traditional tuners that require you to check each string individually, with the Polytune, you strum your open strings. The LED’s will show you which strings are in tune and which aren’t.

In my experience, more likely than not, at any given time only one or two will be out of tune. So imagine the time you save by NOT having to check and tune each string – only the ones that need it! Check out this video to see how it works!

And at $99 bucks… SOLD!!!

Here are some features:

  • 0.5 cent accuracy
  • Standard size box
  • Tune by strumming
  • Can automatically switch between chromatic and polyphonic tuning (it will detect if you’re hitting a single string)
  • Customizable preference settings
  • Has a 9V output jack for powering other pedals
  • True bypass
  • Adjustable reference pitch from 435Hz to 445Hz
  • Supports drop tuning all the way down to B!
  • Works with 4 and 5 string basses as well

It may not have the accuracy of a TurboTuner, but who the hell gives a flying f$%k! .5 cent accuracy is nothing to shake a stick at, and the fact that you can see the tuning of all your strings at once is incredible! Can  you say KICK ASS!!! I’ve never even seen this thing and I want to give it 5 Tone Bones! Check out the TC Electronic web site for some detailed information!

Could this be the last tuner I’ll ever want? Until someone comes out with something better – and at a better price, for that matter, probably not. I want to get one right now. Unfortunately, they’re only available for pre-order. Hmm… oh well, I supposed I can wait. 🙂

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Your guitar, that is…

I dig cool, off-the-wall stuff. Remember the Harmonic Capo I wrote about? I actually never got one, but that never reduced its cool to me. But this new, cool thing is something I’m definitely going to have to check out. It’s called the Guitar Hanger, made by the guys at The Guitar Hanger company. As the name implies, this little contraption literally lets you hang your guitar, much like you would a shirt or a pair of pants. Check out the video:

Right now, I’ve got all my guitars in my studio in their cases or gig bags, lined up along a wall, taking up valuable floor space. But with guitar hangers, I can free up A BUNCH of floor space. With guitar hangers, you could do something like this:

How cool is that?!!!! For more information, go to the The Guitar Hanger web site!

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Sennheiser e609 Silver Instrument Microphone

Summary: Need a great mic to close-mic your amp? Look no further! The e609 delivers on all fronts, able to withstand high SPL’s, and still accurately reproduce your tone.

Pros: Flat-face design makes placing the mic a breeze, but more importantly, placed correctly (as you should with any mic), it’ll capture your tone beautifully!

Cons: None

Features (from the web site):

  • Hum compensating coil reduces electrical interference (I can attest to this – it’s super quiet)
  • Neodynum ferrous magnet with boron keeps mic stable regardless of climate
  • Metal construction—rugged and reliable
  • Super-cardioid pick-up pattern provides isolation from other on-stage signals

Price: ~$95 streetTone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ Going back to my “using the right tool for the job,” I don’t know why I didn’t pick up one of these earlier. I have some good mics, but now that I’ve got the e609 that was made explicitly for micking instruments, I kicking myself a bit. Lesson learned yet again!

I told myself that all I would get was a speaker cable for my cab when I walked into my local Guitar Center today. Unfortunately for me, the cables were located in the Pro Audio area where GC has a big case of very nice mics. And, gear slut that I am, I couldn’t resist a look. Granted, most of those mics were completely out of the ballpark for me, costing several hundreds of dollars. But it did get me thinking that I really should be using a dedicated instrument mic for my home studio when recording my clips and songs.

Fortunately, they didn’t have any instrument mics in the case, but silly me, I just had to ask the guy behind the counter if he had an e609 (I had researched this and other instrument mics several months ago). “Oh yeah,” said another sales clerk, “We got those. They rock, and they’re cheap.” Damn! Words that a gear slut should never hear in one sentence: ROCK and CHEAP! That will instantly elicit a fidgety, twitchy response as the pragmatic half of the psyche wrestles with the GAS half. And usually the GAS half wins, as it did today.

So now I am the very proud owner of a Sennheiser e609. And I do have to say that it does rock, and it costs far less than what one would normally expect to pay for a great mic. At less than $100, how can you argue with that?

How It Sounds

I recorded a little blues solo over a standard GarageBand backing track to demonstrate. Give it a listen:

For the solo, I used “Blondie” my Squier Classic Vibe Tele, the insane-sounding Aracom VRX18 amp (it’s customized with an EZ81 rectifier), and my custom Aracom 1 X 12 cab with a Jensen P12N speaker. The e609 was placed about halfway between the dome and the speaker edge about an inch away from the grille cloth.

I added a touch of reverb to the dry clip in GarageBand, but that’s it. No EQ (I don’t like to EQ my guitar parts anyway). What you hear on the clip is what I heard in my studio. Freakin’ amazing! Like I mentioned above, after recording this clip, I should’ve gotten one of these a long time ago. It’s a great mic!

Mixed Reviews

I re-read some reviews today, and interestingly enough, they come back mixed. Harmony Central user reviews rate it at about 7.5 on average. People other love it or hate it. But in reply to the negative experiences, I have to call into question mic placement. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from years of home studio recording, placing your mic correctly is critical to getting a good tone. Maybe they weren’t experimenting enough with mic placement. Who knows?

With the e609, I first went with the recommended placement in the user manual (yes, I am one of those anal people who do indeed RTFM), then moved it maybe half an inch more towards the speaker edge to reduce the highs just a tad. That made all the difference in the world because my amp is pretty bright micked up close, and I didn’t want that to dominate the recording, especially since the mic was only an inch away from the grille cloth.

Overall Impressions

The Tone Bones score says it all. I’m hooked! Frankly, it didn’t take me long at all to dial this puppy in. It’s a truly great mic!

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