Scan and Blade Guitars Welcome New Endorsee Steve Gordon of Morcheeba

Steve Gordon is the latest artist to join the Blade family. His weapon of choice is the Blade Tetra Bass.

The Tetra has been Blades iconic bass since 1989 when it won Innovative Instrument of the Year in Italy. Whether your preference is for vintage growl, piano wire slap or thundering cutting mids, the Tetra Bass will deliver. The BVSC-3 on-board electronics gives you full tonal flexibility – no matter what your music style. The Tetra Bass took all the classic features of the past and added more of what you require: unrivaled play-ability, versatility, tone – and style.

Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon followed the traditional hard earned musician’s journey. He began his career as a bass player and song writer in his home town; forming and performing in several local bands. This eventually led him to London where he concentrated on playing for other artists such as: Desert Eagle Discs , Christine Levine, Julia Fordham  and Just Jack.

In 1999 Steve began playing with Morcheeba and continues to write and play bass on Skye Edwards solo albums.

Steve with Skye Edwards onstage together with the Blade Tetra Bass in May 2018.

Gary Levinson is delighted that Steve has come on board; joining the growing number of musicians choosing Blade Guitars for their live and studio performances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Volt Pedals Surfing Bear Overdrive – A great sounding “808” style pedal!

Nine Volt Pedals have already been on the scene for a while but having had their Surfing Bear Overdrive pedal on my board for the past few months, I thought it’d be worth a shout out as I can honestly say it sounds (and looks) fantastic!

Whilst it is based on that classic green pedal we all know very well, there are some subtle differences which in my opinion makes this pedal stand out! Stick it in front of a solid-state amp and it’ll sound great but where this pedal will truly excels is in front of a tube amp. When used to push your clean tone which is just on the brink of breakup, that’s when it really does shine!

As you’d expect the emphasis on the mid-range is apparent. Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of controls with the standard Volume, Tone and Drive knobs but what is noticeable is the tonal range you can get from these allowing you to go from a smooth boost to a satisfyingly warm crunch tone. The tonal variety makes this pedal extremely versatile and would certainly be a very nice addition to anyone’s pedal board.

Aside from it sounding great, it also boasts some pretty cool artwork too! Swedish artist, Jonas Claeson is responsible for the artwork across the entire range of Nine Volt Pedals and I must say I love what he’s done with them.

The Surfing Bear really is a sweet sounding overdrive pedal and comes in at a fraction of the price of the TS-808 reissue. If you’re in the market for a wonderful sounding “808” style overdrive pedal at a really affordable price, then this little gem could be just for you!

Surfing Bear Overdrive pedal @ Scan

Specs:

– Drive, Tone, and Volume controls
– True bypass
– 9V battery or standard 9VDC negative tip adaptor
– Current draw 15mA
– Input impedance 500K ohms
– Output impedance 10K ohms
– Designed in Japan by One Control

Superbooth: IK Multimedia Announce The UNO Analog Synth

After a teaser campaign lasting a couple of weeks, the first day of Superbooth ensured that a number of eyes were already peering in IK Multimedia’s direction. After all, why would a company with a mostly software heritage be heading to the mother of all hardware synth shows in Berlin?

As you would expect, this time around it got physical as they unveiled the UNO mono synth.

Uno Synth main top shot
IK Multimedia Uno Synth

Boasting an all-analogue signal path the UNO synth lays out plenty of options for generating and shaping your sounds including  2 VCOs, a noise generator and resonant multimode VCF and VCA.

The 2 independent VCOs feature Saw, Triangle, Pulse waveforms with continuously variable shape including PWM of the square wave plus a separate white noise generator. To help shape the sound it includes a 2-pole OTA-based analog resonant sweepable multimode filter with low pass, high pass and bandpass settings as well as a dual stage overdrive section and effects.

The synth holds 100 presets and includes an easy-to-play keyboard with selectable scales and an arpeggiator to make this an easy to handle performance synth, no matter what your skill level may be.

IK Multimedia UNO synth Rear
Round the back of the UNO synth.

The I/O round the back includes both a mono in and out as well as midi connectivity too. The unit can be USB or battery powered using 4 XAA batteries and the synth is a diminutive 25.6cm/10.1″ x 15cm/8.9″ x 4.9cm/1.93″ and only 400 grams.

The UNO should be arriving with us within the next couple of months and should be doing so for the bargain price point of around £200 when it does.

Zoom G5n, G3n, G3Xn or B3n user? Software Update: Guitar Lab 3.0

If you happen to own any of the Zoom pedals in the title then Guitar Lab 3.0  really is worth your time to download, get to know and put to good use. An excellent way to edit and create new patches for your unit and visually a treat to use.

If you do not own one of the aforementioned pedals just click the units below for all the information you need on each of the pedals.

 

 

 

For G5n, G3n, G3Xn and B3n users Zoom’s Guitar Lab software has been a one-stop shop for free, instant downloads of patches, effects and amp/cabinet emulators. With regular updates, creators have had access to a constant stream of new, exciting tools. The simple UI made even new creators comfortable experimenting.
Now, Guitar Lab 3.0, a break-through version of the classic software is making patch and effects management even easier.

Guitar Lab 3.0 includes new features such as:

  • A totally new Patch Editor which allows users to add, edit, rearrange, delete effects to create their own patches
  • Patch Clips enabling users to store, share and quickly build new patches from their favorite effect combinations.
  • Enhanced effect processing display in the Effect and Editor views to help users select the best effects to maximize their sound and optimize hardware CPU
  • An integrated News view to keep users informed of the latest patch updates with new content being downloaded from Zoom each time the user runs the app and clicks the News
  • An updated Effect View featuring detailed parameter descriptions for each effect, eliminating the need for users to download and reference the Effect List file

https://www.zoom.co.jp/news/GuitarLab_v3

 

Ryzen Generation 2: 2600X & 2700X On The Testbench

Looking back over the rather hectic first few months of 2018 in the PC industry, it’s clear that a lot has changed since the last CPU benchmark session late last year. In the space of 6 months, we’ve seen security concerns and the resulting software patches swing windows performance back and forth as they’ve arrived with us thick and fast. I’ve largely been trying to wait it out and see how the dust settles in the interim, but with the release of new hardware, it’s time to get back into it.

My last bench was based on a build of windows frozen in late 2016 and associated drivers have gone through a number of revisions during the time since, so with the launch of Ryzen 2 it’s very much the time for an all-new software bench to be set up.

Cubase has moved from 8.0 to 9.5 and Reaper too has advanced a number of builds to 5.79 at the point of testing being initiated. This time around we also see the introduction of the newer SGA build of the DSP test, replacing the older DAWBench DSP test and the latest build of the DAWBench Vi test too.

Before getting underway please note that the new results are in no way comparable to the older charts, other than looking at the rough performance curve differences between certain chips which do appear to be in line with prior results. They are certainly not directly value comparable with all the bench changes that have taken place and it’s always key to keep the playing field as level as possible when doing these comparisons.

This time around I’ve tried to run each chip at its turbo frequency across all cores once again. Moden chips will tend to be rated with both a stock clock and a turbo clock, although what isn’t always clear is that the max turbo rating is often only over 1 or 2 cores by default.

Historically it’s been relatively easy to run most CPUs with those cores being pushed and locked off at the turbo max. However, in the event of a platform being pushed too hard, then this isn’t always viable. For instance, I saw this in testing some of the higher end i9’s, where I would choose to all core at 4.1GHz, rather than leave it at stock and let it 2 core to 4.2GHz with a far lower average leaving me open to possible audio interruptions due to clocking.

It’s also the case here with the 2700X where the overclock would hang the machine if trying to push everything to the 4.2GHz rated turbo speed. Instead, I tried to clock it up both manually and using the AMD tool, both of which topped out around 4.1GHz. After speaking to my gaming team and realising this is fairly common (a number of other reviews have picked up on it as well) I ended up using the utility to set everything up with the slightly lower all core turbo at 4.1GHz and testing there.

DAWBench DSP SGA 1566 Test - Q2 2018
DAWBench DSP SGA Test – Q2 2018 (Click To Expand)

So first up is the newest variation of the classic DAWBench DSP test, now making use of the SGA1566 plugin from Shattered Glass Audio to apply CPU load until the project starts to crackle and break up. 

The 2700X here slots in behind the 8700K which leads by just short of 20% extra overhead at the tightest buffer setting, and both chips look to scale upwards in a similar pattern as you increase the buffer setting. The 8700K seems to be the most suitable comparison here as the price point (at time of writing in the UK) is around £30 more or about 10% more than the cost of the 2700X at launch.

The story of the performance curve scaling looks to repeat when we come to examine the 2600X and by comparison the 8600K from Intel. However, this time around the results are reversed with the Intel chip lagging behind the AMD model by about 5% across the buffer settings whilst the AMD costs around £25 less which makes it roughly 12% cheaper at launch.

So a strong showing for the DSP test, where we’re mostly throwing a load of small VST plugs at the CPU. The other test we run here is the DAWBench Vi test, based on stacking up Kontakt instances which allows us to test the memory response through sample loading along the CPU as we see with the DSP test.

With the Gen1 Ryzens, we saw them perform worse here overall, we suspect down to the memory response and performance. AMD saw similar performance issues across various segments with certain core software ranging from gaming to video processing and the was a lot of noise and multiple attempts to improve this over the life cycle of the chip. One suggestion we saw pay off to some extent in other segments (once again, video and gaming made notable gains) was to move over to using faster memory speeds.

We didn’t see any improvement here for audio applications, although in this instance all testing (both Intel and AMD) has been carried out with 3200MHz RAM, in the interest of trying to maximize the performance where we can as well as keeping things level in that regard.

The headline figure this time around suggests a rough 10% improvement to the IPC (instruction per clock) scores, which of course is promising, although notably, this is where AMD was lagging behind Intel even after bringing Ryzen to the market. In the interim we’ve seen the Coffee Lake launch, which also improved Intel’s IPC scores meaning that whilst AMD has been catching up rapidly of late, Intel does seem to remain intent on clawing back the lead on each successive launch.

DawBench Vi Test - Q2 2018 (Click To Expand)
DawBench Vi – Q2 2018 (Click To Expand)

So looking it over this time, both the 2700X and 2600X look to fall behind their Intel comparable chips.  The 2600X is roughly 20% lower than the 8600K this time although it’s moving up to the 2700X that proves more interesting, if only because it helps to outline what’s occurred between the two generation releases.

The older 1800X stood up well against the old 7700K edition at its launch, and indeed that extra 10% IPC boost we see this time may well have given it a solid lead over the Intel, if not for the Coffee Lake release in the interim in the shape of 8700K which pulls off a convincing lead at this price point currently. Indeed, not only does the 8700K show gains over the previous 7700K chip, but it also overtakes the more expensive although admittedly older, entry-level 6 core 7800X on the Intel’s own enthusiast platform. 

The 2700X is comparable to the 7800X at a far keener price point, although as noted the 7800X more or at least exists as a bit of an oddity by this point, even within it’s own range, so whilst this might have been a more impressive comparison 12 months ago, now it feels like they may have landed it just a few months too late to make serious waves.

Speaking from an audio point of view, the chips are good, but not exactly groundbreaking. If you also work in another segment where the AMD’s are known to have strengths, then the good news here is that they offer reasonable bang per buck for audio and hold their ground well as far as giving you performance at those price points.

But once again, they don’t appear to be breaking any performance to cost records overall at least for the audio market. They’ve got solid gains, but then again so has Intel last time around and this is often how it goes with CPU’s when we have the firms battling it out for market share. Not that this is a bad thing, certainly it benefits the end user, whichever your choice of platform.

As a closing note, I saw in my early generation 1 testing a number of interfaces fail to enumerate on the AMD boards. I reported this to a few manufacturers and interestingly the device that first showed up problems on the X370 boards the first time around (in this instance a UAD Twin USB), is behaving superbly on the X470 platform.

Whilst this is a sample size of approximately “1” unit in a range, it does point towards a reconsidering of the USB subsystem this time around, which can only be a positive. Anyone who was perhaps considering this the Ryzen 1 platform, but found themselves out of luck with interface compatibility, might well fare far better this time around. Obviously, if the were problems known before then please do check with the manufacturers your considering for the latest compatibility notes in each instance.

Looking forward there is a rumoured 2800X flagship Ryzen which is already well discussed but as yet no release date on the horizon. The has been already been discussion, rumours and even some testing and validation leaks out in the wild that suggest that Intel might be sitting on an 8 core Coffee Lake. It would certainly make sense for them to be keeping such a chip in the wings waiting on them seeing the public reaction to these new AMD chips. Similarly, it might turn out that the 2800X will be held back as an answer for those rumoured Intel models should they suddenly appear on the market in the near future.

To wrap it up, essentially we’re in peak rumour season and I’ve no doubt we’ll continue to see a pattern of one-upmanship for the foreseeable future which continues to be a very positive thing indeed. If you need to buy a system today, then the charts should help guide you, although if you’re not in rush right now, I’m sure the will be some interesting hardware to also consider coming over the year ahead.

Previous CPU Benchmarking Coverage
3XS Systems @ Scan

Time To Get Your Inner Vangelis On! Arminator 2 Released by Krakli Plugs

Arminator is a much loved free CS-80 emulation from Krakli Plugs. While not designed to be an out and out pure emulation it sure does a fantastic job of dishing out Vangelis style sounds aplenty.

 

 

After spending  some time last weekend meticulously multi-sampling Arminator for use with the MPC Live, yesterday saw an update on their Facebook page informing the masses of the new and improved Arminator 2 with a whopping 5 banks of 128 patches!

 

Fresh additions include:

The ability to KeySplit anywhere on a key across 10 octaves

Chorus effect

Mono Poly on individual lines

Better scaling of some controls (Filter Freq etc)

Ability to sync the LFO to KeyPress

Keytracking on the LowPass Filter

Sine Oscillator on the Line Amp can now be a 1 or 2 sub octave

Line 2’s Envelope can be delayed by up to 500ms from keypress

 

I absolutely adore the sound of this plugin, and this is of course helped by the amazing patch design.

Unfortunately it is 32-bit only but this can easily be rectified by an app like JBridge if your DAW doesnt include a bridge of it’s own.

 

Krakli Plugs Facebook page:      https://www.facebook.com/groups/Krakli/

Things that Bug…..(An occasional Blog about little things that can plague a guitar players life, and the possible cures we have for them here at Scan…)

LOKNOB:

So you set your board up, and run through at sound check. Everything sounds great, and you know that when it comes to your solo in that certain track, your new killer pedal will let you soar like a bird above the band and melt the faces of all who listen, then , come the night, come the track, come the time for  the solo, you kick the pedal in and wumph… it falls flat on its face….

While you’re in the band room drinking with boys, someone, some well meaning, interested spectator has been checking out your board, and decided to have a bit of a twiddle with your pedals, and your killer settings have gone…..

What’s the cure? Security guard, Doberman at the ready?

Naah, that’s where LOKNOB comes in ….

https://www.scan.co.uk/shop/music-and-pro-audio/guitars/guitar-and-bass-pedal-accessories

 

The LOKNOB replaces one of the knobs on your pedal and allows you to lock the setting into place, where it can’t be changed by a casual kick of the shoe or a curious roadie.

 

Check out the full range and see about having one less annoying little problem to deal with…..

In Praise of Tuners

I declare myself of a certain age, whereby I can remember the days, pre-internet, when gigs were plentiful, and rock music abounded from most hostelries on a Friday and Saturday night.

Some of these bands were ‘covers’ bands, playing soft rock tunes that the punters would know and enjoy, others were ‘original’ bands playing music that appealed mainly to the gang of friends and family that constituted a fan base.

However, there was one common denominator back then, and that was Tuning.

Almost without exception, there would be a mandatory 2 minutes between each song, where the plaintive tones of the open E, B, G, and D strings were played, usually twice, accompanied by the frenzied twisting of machine heads, and cries of “Shush” , Shuddup” as guitarists tried to quieten the drummer whilst trying to hear the top G of the Bass player ( the one least likely to have gone out of tune due to rapid thrashing )

Sometimes they got it nearly right, but I swear I have sat through many hours of spirited cacophony, which taxed all but the loyalist of fans…

Nowadays of course, there is no such excuse.

The cost of a standard guitar tuner can be as little as £13.00

LN82773 

And it seems the only confusing part is the wealth of choice afforded to the prospective tunemeister. Some come with built in metronomes, some with strobes and some with the ability to tune anything from a ukulele to Jet engine. ( OK, probably not the latter, but the Peterson Stomp Classic looks like it could have come from a Pilots dashboard… LN83289 )

 

But seriously, from Banjo’s to 7 string guitars and 6 string Basses, we have a tuner for you, to suit your pocket and your needs.

Check them out here….

https://www.scan.co.uk/shop/music-and-pro-audio/guitar-pedals-and-effects/tuner-pedals

 

Guitar Tuning Issues and the Perfect Fix

I think that guitar players and guitar techs would all agree that there is nothing more frustrating than a guitar that will not stay in tune.

Your guitar going out of tune can be the thing of nightmares whether on stage, half way through a song or after a few string bends. You hit a chord that sounds something akin to the first chord you ever tried to play.  Your fingers are in exactly the right place, you’ve spent years practising and honing your guitar skills but now you look and sound like a right (insert your own choice of insult here).

There are many reasons for a guitar not staying in tune: old strings, new strings that you haven’t stretched, strings on the wrong way (you’d be surprised!) badly cut nut, the list goes on. Assuming that your guitar is in half decent condition and set up ready to play, I would always go for friction being your issue and the lovely people at Big Bends have a solution for that.

Ladies and Gentlemen I Give You Big Bends NUT SAUCE!!!

(Ok stop sniggering……….I do not find the name of this product in the least bit funny and I have never made any childish comments at all.)

Back to business. As a guitar tech and a guitar player I have tried many different tricks and products to keep the string moving freely through the nut and this product is the best I have used. If you are tuning up and you hear a metallic “ping” or if you find any string slightly sharp after bending, the odds are on that the string is catching in the nut slot. Loosen the strings and clean the slots of the nut on your guitar and apply a small amount of nut sauce into the slots then tune your guitar back to pitch. It really is that simple! Use this every time you change your strings and your guitar nut will stay lubricated and clean. Application is easy thanks to the………erm….. applicator and it does not spill anywhere it is not wanted. It is also ideal to add to your string saddles as this is your next point of friction. Here it can help to reduce string breakage and will also reduce the wear on the saddles. Tremolo systems, from vintage to Floyd Rose styles, benefit from a little nut sauce on the pivot points, keeping everything moving freely with reduced friction, which increases tuning stability at all points on the guitar.

You are now free to bend that g-string as much as you like, in the knowledge that it will always end up back where it’s supposed to be. (You can’t have expected me not to have gone school boy humour at some point!)

All the guitars at Scan are inspected and set-up before they are sent out to you the customer and Big Bends Nut Sauce is always on our set up benches to be applied as part of our set up routine.

Sometimes the smallest purchases can make the biggest difference to you guitar; this is definitely one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

The Plexitone. The Three Channel Pedal That Provides All The Basic Crunch and lead Tones You Guitarists Need

Over the years I have met and provided advice to many guitar players. It is true to say that while many were accomplished players some of the tones that they were using were, to be totally honest……bloody awful!!

Each to their own I hear you cry? Who am I to be telling you that your guitar sound is cobblers?

“I can’t help it!” is the answer to that question. I love the guitar and all the tonal possibilities that it and the surrounding paraphernalia can achieve. Creating a great tone in this modern world shouldn’t be that difficult should it? Depending on your budget you have access to a plethora of amplifier companies, more pedals than I ever thought could possibly exist and just how many single and double cut pieces of mahogany and alder are there!?

You can spend a fortune on tone chasing, new guitar, new amp, new pedal, new tattoo………….well okay, not the new tattoo but you get the idea.

Getting your basic tone right is a key piece of the puzzle. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many fancy delay pedals and multi effects you see guitarists using, that when they are switched off their basic clean and crunch tones are bland and lifeless.

Here is where I bring in the Carl Martin Plexitone.

 If ever there was a pedal that gave you such a perfect range of crunch and lead tones this is it. I personally love this pedal and have used it and recommended it for many years.

The drive tones available are very much as the name would suggest, plexi through and through. Old school plexi tones are here on the crunch setting covering Hendrix to AC/DC . The crunch side of the pedal has extra gain on tap and takes you into hard rock territory with ease but maintains fantastic clarity thanks to the extra headroom of the circuit running at 12 Volts. Modded plexi tones just ooze from the high gain setting. Huge sounding chords and  modded lead tones to die for pour from this setting (think natural compression and “sag” ) and provided the perfect lead channel you could be missing.

And then there is the independent clean boost that sits under the switch on the left hand side. This is just the perfect addition and takes this already fantastic drive pedal into the perfect tool for creating that great basic tone.

The clean boost works independently within the pedal. With the crunch or high gain engaged, the boost gives you up to 20db of a kick, more than enough to let your solo be heard. (make sure you practice as you really will be heard!)

But here is another use for that clean boost. I always like to kick the clean channel of any of my amps just to push them a little and give them more presence and bite. With the boost being independent I leave it on all the time so that my clean has that extra sparkle and punch, then I just switch on the gain side of the pedal when required. If your clean channel is a little flat or lacking power then trust me that this clean boost will bring it to life.

Don’t forget also that if you are running a twin channel amp with a clean and dirty channel, the boost into your dirty channel will add that extra punch here as well, hey presto, four high quality tones to start building on all for well under £200.

So I love it and recommend it, Pete Thorn who knows more about tone than the rest of us put together loves it.

Remind me why your tone is lacking again?…………………………….

 

 

 

 

Computer Based Music & Audio Production