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NEW GEAR 26/24: Ibanez TQM2-CUF, Epi Mandobird, Darkglass 500 Edition and Korg KR-11

Epiphone has introduced a bluegrass collection that includes a special electrified version of the Mandobird in addition to several types of mandolin and banjo, Ibanez continues to produce signature guitars with another Tom Quayle model, Gator has launched a pedalboard that fits in most guitar soft-shell pockets, Seymour Duncan has designed a new pickup set for Jeff Loomis, and the UK's Blackstar has introduced a small ID:Core 10 V4 combo equipped with a Bluetooth module. For bassists, there's the Phil Jones X2C compressor, the EHX Lizard King octave fuzz and Darkglass combos, Korg should start distributing the compact Rhythm Box KR-11 in August and the Orange brand has added the unusual Pyramid Hi-Fi set to its portfolio. Welcome to our regular review of new gear and interesting news from the world of music.

Superstrat Ibanez TQM2-CUF Tom Quayle

Ibanez has begun offering another signature model from British fusion guitarist Tom Quayle, fitted with new TQM passive ceramic pickups in HSS configuration, replacing the original Seymour Duncan Hyperion set used in the previous TQMS1 version. Based on the successful AZS series, the Superstrat features an alder body with a 4mm thick flame maple top, a rosewood fingerboard carrying 22 stainless steel frets and a roasted maple neck fitted with an AZ Oval C profile. There is a high-quality Gotoh T1702B tremolo and Magnum locking tuners from the same manufacturer, and the electronics include a Dyna-MIX9 circuit with an Alter Switch, expanding the possibilities to 9 different pickup combinations. Colour: Charcoal Black Burst Flat, price including hard case: approx 3000 dollars.

Bluegrass Collection by Epiphone

Epiphone has added a new Bluegrass Collection to the Inspired by Gibson Custom series, consisting of six instruments in total, including the Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe Banjo, Mastertone Bowtie Open Back Banjo, Mastertone Classic Banjo, F5G Mandolin, F-5 Studio Mandolin and a somewhat unusual new addition called the Mandobird. As the name suggests, it is a mandolin with a Gibson Firebird-type construction – of course in a scaled-down form, with a solid nato body, mahogany neck, hardtail bridge and reverse headstock fitted with four Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners. The sound is transmitted by a neck mini-humbucker fitted with a nickel-plated cover.

Minicombo Blackstar ID:Core 10 V4 BT

The smallest representative of Blackstar's ID:Core V4 series of modelling guitar combo amps shares with the previous version 10 V4 a stereo concept supported by a dual 2x 5W power amp connected to a pair of 3-inch speakers, Super Wide Stereo function, six voicing modes, the same number of presets, patented ISF parameter, effects section with delays, modulations and reverbs, USB-C port, emulated CabRig output, etc. The main addition to the new product is the wireless Bluetooth module, and it is the first time that a product in the series has received this improvement from Blackstar. The official European price of the ID:Core 10 V4 BT version with convenient audio streaming is just under 220 euros.

Gator GPB Pocketboard

The GPB Pocketboard from Gator Cases is a compact but sturdy pedalboard designed to fit in the main pocket of most gig bags Gator and other popular brands. The storage area measures approximately 270 x 260mm, so there's enough space for 6 regular-sized effects or up to 8 pedals in mini format. The board with integrated handle and wiring holes is made of 4.3 mm thick metal and comes with a 2-inch wide self-adhesive Velcro. Price: approx 50 dollars. For a simpler signal chain, the separately sold GTR-PWR-1MAX power supply (9V / 1700 mA) can be used, complete with a daisy-chain voltage cable with eight plugs.

Seymour Duncan Noumenon: pickups by Jeff Loomis

The guitarist of Nevermore and Arch Enemy rediscovered the magic of passive pickups and turned to engineer Seymour Duncan to design new signature humbuckers. The result is the Noumenon series of six- and seven-string sets inspired by the sound of the 1980s, with a focus on dynamics, articulation and expression. The pickups for the six-string guitars use Alnico 8 magnets, while for the seven-string variants, the choice fell on classic Alnico 5 magnets, maintaining a full but still sufficiently tight bass and crisp attack. Both sets have four core wiring and triangular feet for direct mounting into the instrument's body.

Dual-band compressor Phil Jones Bass X2C

In addition to dual-band compression, the X2C bass pedal offers comprehensive tone control thanks to its unique dual crossover function, which splits the signal into frequency bands from 100 Hz to 500 Hz, providing exceptional clarity and dynamic tone. In addition to traditional input and output, the effect features send/return for each compression band (Hi/Lo) with independent adjustment of Ratio, Release, Attack and Threshold parameters, giving the player superior sonic flexibility. The two branches can be used in adjustable parallel mode and their signals mixed together.

Bass octave fuzz EHX Lizard King

This vintage-style octave fuzz, optimised for bass, is inspired by last year's Lizard Queen guitar model, on which Electro Harmonix developers collaborated with JHS. The Lizard King has a fixed gain that responds to the instrument's volume and dynamics, so it offers strong distortion when played with the volume potentiometer turned up to the maximum, while it produces a transparent, more subtle-sounding overdrive when played more softly and with the volume turned down slightly. In addition to the standard Volume, Octave, Tone (low-pass filter) and Blend (mix) controls, the pedal features a Sun/Shadow switch to accentuate the midrange, or to provide a tighter expression of fuzz. The effect will arrive on the market during July with a price tag of about 130 dollars.

Analogue and Digital Combos Darkglass 500

Finland's Darkglass Electronics has begun worldwide distribution of a new generation of bass combos, consisting of the Infinity 500 210/112 and Microtubes 500 210/112 models, which were first introduced at this year's NAMM. Both series feature 500W Class-D power amps and are equipped with Eminence ceramic drivers and tweeters. The Infinity 500 series received a programmable digital preamp with Leo Bass, VMT, BK3 and Alpha-Omega drive modes, graphic EQ, noise gate, compressor and octave filter. The Microtubes edition uses an analogue preamp with VMT and B3K distortion engines, a compressor and a four-band active EQ, while with Low Mids and Hi Mids you can choose between two operating frequencies.

Audio system Orange Pyramid

A space-saving Hi-Fi set-up that the traditional British brand, known for its amplifiers and cabinets, claims to provide "room-filling levels effortlessly, offering the warm, natural sound characteristic of analogue audio." At the heart of the Pyramid system is a compact Class-D amplifier (2x 40W RMS) in the shape of a pyramid, featuring Bluetooth 5.0 (Qualcomm aptx), stereo Aux In connectivity in the form of mini-jack and RCA jacks, active dual-band EQ and a volume potentiometer. The signal from the pair of outputs goes to dual-band monitors with Orange Voice of the World speakers and bass-reflex ports. The official price of the stylish set has been set at just under 800 pounds.

Korg KR-11 Compact Rhythm Box

In August, Korg will launch a small, user-friendly rhythm box that allows you to have fun practising, composing or jamming anywhere, anytime. The feature-packed KR-11 builds on the company's Rhythm KR Mini in design, bringing back the legacy of vintage rhythm stations pioneered by the legendary 1963 Korg Doncamatic. Any factory pattern can be edited, there are 16 velocity-sensitive pads, a rotary style switch and each style contains 14 variations, a total of 126 different patterns, as well as 14 slots for user presets. There is a line output, headphone jack, two inputs for external footswitches and also a newly developed sound system with Acoustage Bass technology. Power is provided by a 9V adapter or 4 AA batteries with an average operating time of 18 hours..

Tagy epiphone Ibanez Gator Cases blackstar Seymour Duncan Phil Jones Bass Electro Harmonix Darkglass korg Orange

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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.