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NEW GEAR 15/24: Explorers Gripen, Keeley Drives, Mesa Boogie Cabinets, Pearl Snares and Warwick Basses

Boutique brand Kauer Guitars has produced an unusually shaped Explorer-inspired series, Gosh has introduced a single-channel tube amp Problem Solver,  the MXR Gran Torinoboost/drive boasts a transparent sound and Mesa Boogie is launching a trio of new Rectifier cabinets to the European market. Bassists can look forward to four Darkglass combo amps in the 112 and 210 versions, the Sire Marcus Miller Z3 active four-string bass and the limited edition Warwick MasterBuilt and TeamBuilt 2024. We can also recommend the Casio Celviano AP series digital pianos, the trio of Keeley "4-in-1" drive/distortion pickups and the same number of premium snares from Pearl. Welcome to our regular review of new gear and interesting facts from the world of music.

Cubist Explorers Gripen by Kauer Guitars

The California-based brand has introduced a series of boldly modified Explorers from its Gripen collection, featuring angular, cubist-style contours. Spanish mahogany (Hispaniola) was used for the body and neck construction and the wenge fingerboard is fitted with 22 jumbo Jescar frets. There's a choice of Wolfetone Kauer90, KauerBucker, TV Jones Powertron or Lollar pickups, plus Magnatron and Powertron+ bridge variants. The hardware consists of locking Hipshot tuners and a combination of a TonePro tailpiece with a solid tune-o-matic bridge. You can also choose different neck profiles, fingerboard binding colours, left-handed variants, etc. Prices start at around 3550 dollars.

Gosh Problem Solver Boutique Head with Age Function

This hand-built 50W tube (3x 12AX7, 2x EL34) amplifier is inspired by the classic Marshall JCM 800 2204 but offers wider sound possibilities, terminals for bias adjustment of the tubes and, last but not least, premium components including top-quality Mercury Magnetics transformers. The single-channel unit features a mid-boost, master, gain and a five-band EQ with a Depth potentiometer reserved for the lowest frequency bands. An interesting feature, accessible along with the lever switch of the mid-boost on the back of the chassis, is the rotary Age switch with '63, '66, '81 and '23 modes, allowing you to get the '60s to '80s to contemporary sound out of the amp.

Boost / overdrive MXR Gran Torino CSP033G

The successor to the Custom Shop II Torino pedal is produced in a limited edition and provides a wide sound palette ranging from dynamic boost with subtle compression to more saturated distortion evoking the warm character of classic tube amps. Design-wise, the distinctive drive features a three-band EQ and a small knob for selecting Boost/OD modes, in addition to the standard gain and volume controls. The main mosfet circuit is complemented by a high-quality, low-impedance Class A output buffer, preserving tone integrity and preventing signal loss in long effect chains. The power supply is handled by a 9V adapter or battery, with a current draw below 5 mA. The MXR CSP033G should be available during May.

Three new Keeley  "4-in-1" series drive/distortion pickups 

Following last year's Nobel Screamer pedal, followed by the Muse distortion pedal designed for guitarist Andy Timmons, there's a trio of new drives from effects guru Robert Keeley whose flexibility is indicated by the "4-in-1" designation. All versions feature Volume, Drive and Tone potentiometers, a pair of lever switches for selecting tone stack plus clipping, and a footswitch that also allows you to choose between true and buffered bypass. The Blues Disorder model combines the features of the Marshall Blues Breaker and Fulltone OCD drive, the Angry Orange variant offers the features of the classic Boss DS-1 mixed with the EHX Civil War Big Muff fuzz circuit, and the Super Rodent pedal is inspired by the Boss SD-1 overdrive and Pro Co Rat distortion circuits. Price: 199 dollars.

Guitar cabinets Mesa Boogie Rectifier 1x10, 1x12 23” a 2x12 Diagonal

Mesa Boogie responds to the trend of minimising guitar set-ups with a new trio of more compact Rectifier series cabinets, consisting of the MB Rectifier 1x10, 1x12 23" (cabinet width) and 2x12 Diagonal models, made of high-quality birch plywood coated with Black Bronco vinyl. The 1x10 version, fitted with a Celestion G10 Vintage, delivers solid, focused projection even with its small size, the 1x12 23" version with its "Widebody" design and Celestion Vintage 30 provides plenty of bass, while the 2x12 Diagonal is a vertically designed mono cabinet with a pair of Celestion Vintage 30s, 120W of power, 8 ohms impedance and wide acoustic dispersion. All models also get a parallel output jack and include a carrying case.

Mesa Boogie Rectifier 1x10, 1x12 23” a 2x12 Diagonal

Signature Marcus Miller Z3 by Sire Guitars

Miller's Sire Z3 series delivers a wide sound palette thanks to active equalisation and aims to appeal to players looking for a modern "groovy sound" supported by a 2-coil pickup. A C-profile maple neck is bolted to a mahogany Z-bass body, partly inspired by the shapes of the Music Manu StingRay, and maple is also used for the Edgeless fingerboard with a 12" radius and 22 medium jumbo frets. The sound is carried by a Sire Standard MM humbucker in Music Man style, connected to a Marcus Heritage-3 active preamp with volume control and three-band EQ. European price: approx. 500 euros.

Warwick MasterBuilt and TeamBuilt Limited Edition 2024

Warwick is targeting demanding musicians or wealthy collectors with the MasterBuilt Thumb NT and TeamBuilt Thumb BO basses, which are available in both four and five-string versions. The luxurious MasterBuilt range features neck-through models with necks made from 5-ply maple and wenge, a solid flame walnut body, a tigerstrip ebony fingerboard fitted with 26 brass frets, passive Bartolini MM and Jazz Bass pickups, complemented by an active company preamp with rechargeable lithium battery and Graph Tech Ratio tuners. The TeamBuilt edition is mainly distinguished by a bolt-on neck glued from 3 pieces of wenge, a two-octave fingerboard, MEC electronics and a body combining a walnut base and top made of the same material with a flame pattern.

Combos Darkglass Infinity 500 a Microtubes 500

The Finnish bass and effects specialist has added a total of four combo amps to the Infinity and Microtubes series in versions 112 and 210, equipped with the eponymous preamps. The 500W models feature custom Eminence speakers and an external cabinet output. The fully digital Infinity DG112D and DG210D offer a compressor, a distortion section with Leo Bass, Vintage Microtube, Microtubes B3K, Alpha-Omega and Noise Gate modes, a Drive/Octave Blend function, a five-band graphic EQ, Master and the ability to store 5 presets. The Microtubes DG112A and DG210A variants with analogue preamp and Vintage Microtubes / Microtubes B3K distortion modes received a four-band EQ with a pair of parametric mids (Low Mids / Hi Mids) and input sensitivity selection. Both combos also have an effects loop, Aux In, DI XLR output, etc., and Infinity adds a MIDI In jack and USB-C port.

3x luxury snare Pearl from the 2024 product line

A trio of high-end Pearl snare drums from the UltraCast, StaveCraft and Reference editions are hitting the market, designed to cut through the band mix with ease, whatever your preferred style. The Reference One MasterCast Brass version (14" x 5" or 14" x 6.5") with a solid attack is made from 3mm thick brass, complete with STL100 lugs and an SR-1000 Glide-Lock snare wire. The hand-built StaveCraft Ashwood variant, again in 14" x 5" or 14" x 6.5" sizes, has double-layered shells glued from vertically oriented blocks of ash and exotic Makha wood with a total thickness of 25 mm, an SR-150 snare wire and cast MasterCast hoops which increase the resulting tone volume. The company has also returned to the popular UltraCast 14" x 6.5" model, which produces a clear, warm sound with a sensitive response thanks to its die-cast aluminium body (3mm walls) and SR-1000 snare wires.

Digital pianos Casio Celviano AP-S450, AP-550 and AP-750

The Celviano digital piano collection has expanded to include three models featuring an improved 3D effect sound system, a SHHA (Smart Hybrid Hammer Action) keyboard with white Austrian spruce keys, a new information panel and a recording unit with Instant RePlayer function. It also includes a WU-BT10 Bluetooth adapter supporting wireless audio, MIDI or communication with Casio's Music Space editing app. The manufacturer has included the Hamburg preset in the sound bank "faithfully reproducing the sympathetic resonance reminiscent of traditional grand pianos", the AP-550 version with 4 speakers and 26 sounds also features the New York Grand, and the flagship AP-750 with Grandphonic sound system (8x speakers) has a total of 39 presets to choose from, including the Berlin Grand, Vienna Grand, etc.​​​​​​​

Tagy Kauer Guitars MXR Sire Gosh mesa boogie Keeley Electronics warwick Darkglass Pearl Casio

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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.