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NEW GEAR 13/24: Victory, Epiphone Firebird, Line 6 POD Express and Katana:Go

Those who are ready are not caught off guard. Welcome to our next weekly roundup of new gear and trivia from the music world, where we try to sum up everything essential that's currently hitting the market that we should know about. A collaboration between Epiphone and Gibson's Custom Shop division has resulted in a pair of 1963 Firebirds, guitarist Rabei Massaad's signature Music Man will soon be in distribution, German Palmer boasted a new load box, LR Baggs introduced an innovative pickup system for acoustic players and British brand Victory expanded its lineup with two luxury amps designed by Martin Kidd. Novelty by Efnote is the Mini electronic drum set, bassists can try the Ashdown Roasted instrument edition, the EBS box or the Line 6 POD Express processor, which the company also releases in a guitar version, and we can also recommend the Boss Katana:Go personal headphone amp.

Epiphone Inspired by Gibson Custom 1963 Firebird I and V

The Epiphone and Gibson Custom Shop teams have teamed up again to create a pair of additional models in the Inspired by Gibson Custom series – authentic replicas of the 1963 Firebird I and V versions that were designed by legendary automotive designer Ray Dietrich. The two pieces have a through-body neck glued from 9 layers of mahogany and walnut, mahogany body wings, Laurel fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets, Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary machines, CTS potentiometers and Mallory condensers. The Firebird I is fitted with only a Gibson USA Firebird Mini Alnico 5 bridge humbucker and a single wrap-around bridge, while the Firebird V variant adds a neck humbucker, matching electronics with Switchcraft switch, binding plus pearl fretboard trapezoid markers and the hardware has been changed in the form of a Maestro Vibrola tremolo with ABR1 bridge.

Music Man Rabea Massaad Sabre

The long-awaited signed Music Man model built for British guitarist Rabea Massaad made its official debut at NAMM. The instrument comes in two transparent finishes with rosewood or maple fretboard and is stylistically based on the Sabre series, from which it differs with a special neck profile, milled edge of the lower corner of the body for more comfortable access to the higher positions (22 frets), a more rounded body where the right hand rests, luminescent side fretboard markers and a pair of signature Bare Knuckle Silo humbuckers with balanced sound and push-push coil release. The company's tremolo has also been modified and the hardware has a black lacquer finish. A Vileblood Burst finish is standard, while the Frenzied Flame Burst version with maple fretboard must be ordered directly from the manufacturer as part of the Music Man Vault program.

Boss Katana:Go headphone amplifier

The Boss Katana series of combos and heads, which have become worldwide bestsellers in their class, have been given the smallest representative in the form of the Katana:Go headphone amplifier designed for guitar or bass practice. The software-editable model delivers the authentic sounds of the Katana series, with integrated features for wireless music streaming or instrument lessons via smartphone. Stage Feel spatial technology provides a 3D playing experience, the Boss Tone Exchange app offers a sound library, and the USB-C port can be used for recording. An OLED display provides tuner display including a total of 30 preset labels, and the rechargeable battery lasts approximately 5 hours of operation. You can choose from 60 effects and 10 types of guitar plus 3 types of bass amps. The official price is just below 140 euro.

Palmer Supreme Soaker: analogue attenuator and load box

After the popular PDI-09 and PDI-03 speaker simulators, Palmer comes up with the latest innovation for demanding guitarists – the Supreme Soaker model combining the features of an analogue attenuator and load box, allowing to maximize the potential of a tube amplifier up to 150 W (8/16 ohm). The new product, which, in the manufacturer's words, scores with "unrivalled precision, dynamics and clarity of the resulting sound" at any volume, has rotary controls for attenuator and Line EQ/Speaker Tone sections, each with five finely tuned modes, plus potentiometers for mic and Aux inputs plus line or headphone outputs, stereo EQ loop, reamping, etc.

LR Baggs HiFi Duet: a pickup system for acoustic players

Promising a new era in acoustic guitar sound, the HiFi Duet system consists of a pair of small HiFi pickups and a Silo microphone with TRU-MIC technology and a modified capsule, which the manufacturer claims should deliver studio-quality sound, resistance to feedback and faithful reproduction of the instrument's character. The self-adhesive pickups and microphone are installed inside the body just below the bridge, and the same mounting system is used for the control module with discrete preamplifier, located at the inner edge of the soundhole. A multi-pole crossover is integrated, controls include volume, mix, mic level and 9V battery control with over 180 hours of operation. An installation jig is included for optimal placement. The new product is likely to hit the market during the summer.

Line 6 POD Express and POD Express Bass compact processors

Both the POD Express guitar preamp/multi-effect and its bass version, POD Express Bass, are compact, easy-to-use pedal models with a friendly price tag of around 220 euros, adopting modelling technology based on the high-quality processors from the HX family, which is a bit surprising given the purchase price of both PODs and, of course, welcome news for future users. There are 7 types of virtual machines to choose from, the same number of cabinets and a total of 17 effects including a looper. There is a storage for 21 presets, 5 multi-function encoders, a pair of footswitches, a USB-C sound card (also reamping), a tuner, a noise gate, stereo outputs, a jack for external drivers and a headphone minijack with custom volume. The news can be powered by a 9V adapter or a trio of AA pencil batteries.

Victory MK Clean and MK Ovedrive tube amplifiers

In addition to the signature The Deputy, designed for guitarist Pete Honoré, the British company has prepared a pair of MK Clean and MK Ovedrive compact heads, developed by legendary engineer Martin Kidd, who previously worked for Cornford, Ampeg, Fortin and PRS. Both hand-built models represent the cutting edge of current Victory Amps production – the 100W MK Clean version offers premium clean sound with massive projection, switchable between a pair of voicing mods, integrated Accutronics spring reverb and more. The MK Overdrive version is based on the Cornford MK50 and features a high-quality clean channel complemented by an independent distortion section with a choice of Gain 1 / Gain 2 modes to achieve musical crunch or more aggressive high-gain registers. Both branches are also equipped with Voice 1/2 switches. Pricing: MK Clean approx. 5550 euros, MK Overdrive approx. 5800 euros.

Ashdown basses from the Roasted series

The Ashdown Engineering team has prepared four models from the Roasted bass series, representing quality and affordability. The collection takes its name from the heat treatment of the maple necks and fretboards, which, like the poplar body, are common throughout the product line. The Roasted Capri version, with a short 30-inch bore, uses a hand-wound soapbar pickup, while the shape-matching Roasted Saint Soap variant differs from the Capri with a classic 34-inch bore, The Roasted Saint version features a Jazz Bass-style Alnico single-coil bridge pickup and a Precision-style single-coil split pickup, and the Roasted Low Rider model, referencing the Gibson Thunderbird in design, offers two active humbuckers evoking the familiar Music Man pickups.

EBS S212CL bass box from the ClassicLine collection

The new S212CL bass cabinet with 500 W RMS and 4-ohm impedance has been added to the ClassicLine series from Swedish company EBS. The vertical box, resembling a smaller sibling of the classic 8x10 "fridge" type, is this time equipped with two 12-inch diameter woofers and a two-inch tweeter. The latter can be adjusted from -3 to +3 dB or switched off via a control on the back. Input and parallel output is provided in the form of two Speakon drivers, low-band projection is supported by two rear round bassreflexes, and wheels and handles embedded in the sides and top edge of the skeleton are used for convenient transport. The sensitivity is 97 dB and the frequency range is 35 Hz – 18 kHz. Price including padded case: approx. 1000 euros.

EBS S212CL ClassicLine

Efnote Mini electronic set

The smallest representative of Efnote's electronic drum kits is designed for beginners or as a practice kit for advanced drummers and will do the job in the studio. The compact kit, which takes up an area of about 115 x 70 cm when unfolded, consists of a 14" x 10" bass drum, a 10" x 4.5" three-zone snare, an 8" x 6.5" tom and a 10" x 10" floor tom. Fitted with double-layered mesh membranes, all drums have birch bodies covered with white glitter foil. The basic version of the kit includes a 12" hi-hat (3 zones), 8" splash/crash, 16" three-zone ride and the necessary hardware Additional cymbals (14" / 18") and an additional 8" tom can be purchased. The EFD-MINI module, powered by an Elise processor, offers authentic sounds with good dynamics, in addition to a touch screen, 2-in/8-out USB card or Bluetooth interface, there are also various training programs.

Tagy epiphone Ernie Ball Music Man Line 6 boss Efnote Palmer Victory Amps Ashdown EBS LR Baggs

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For Insounder, I am mainly responsible for the news section and articles covering the gear of well-known musicians. I have been playing guitar in various bands for years and I also teach this beautiful instrument.