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NEW GEAR 3/24: “Budweiser” Fenders, Deuce Coupe Drive and Rack Compressor from GainLab Audio

Those who are ready are not caught off guard. Welcome to our next weekly roundup of new gear and trivia from the world of music, where we try to sum up everything essential that's currently hitting the market that we should know about. Fender's Japanese division has started offering a Telecaster and Mustang bass emblazoned with Budweiser brewery graphics, Double Pickups is coming out with a comprehensive pickup/effects system for acoustic guitars, Italian boutique Jad Freer has a new CAPO Tim Lefebvre bass preamp and Germany's Meinl has kicked off the year with its Pure Alloy Extra Hammered cymbal series. For Eurorack owners there are reverb and filter modules from Eric Synths, Gainlab Audio has launched a top-of-the-range studio compressor, US manufacturer Mr Black has revived the iconic Deuce Coupe drive and rival Spurr Audio entices the customers with the Orbit-2 fuzz.

Fender Wasted Youth: Telecaster and Mustang Bass with Budweiser graphics

Fender's Japanese division launched a limited edition Wasted Youth some time ago, featuring a Telecaster and Mustang bass in a design style referencing the brewing giant: American Budweiser. The graphics were designed by Verdy (VK Design Works), creative director of the Budweiser brand owned by Anheuser-Busch, whose art project gave the Wasted Youth series its name. The Telecaster features an alder body, a maple neck with a U-shaped profile, a rosewood fretboard with 21 frets and vintage single coils. The same materials were used for the Mustang bass in Blues Sparkle lacquer, equipped with a half single-coil. The fretboards of both models bear special inlays and the instruments come with a t-shirt, picks, stickers, etc.

Mr Black Deuce Coupe: a modern classic is back

The Oregon-based brand has added an overdrive to its portfolio that follows the 13-year-old Deuce Coupe pedal from the workshop of designer Jack Deville. Like its predecessor, the new version boasts an amp-like response, great dynamic range and transparent tone with detailed articulation. In addition to the distortion section, equipped with Level, Tone and Gain controls, there is also an integrated booster with its own volume and a separate Ultra footswitch. Both branches feature high volume/gain lift (Drive: +40.8 dB, Ultra: +56.5 dB) and quiet Click-Less true bypass switches using relays. The first batch of Mr Black's Deuce Coupe Drive is already sold out, with the second issue hitting distribution in January.

High-gain fuzz Spürr Audio Orbit-2

The successor to the Orbit-1 has once again been given a space-themed design, backed by a miniature globe, and this time a small OLED display showing volume levels, harking back to the vintage computers of early spaceships. A high-gain circuit built on operational amplifiers produces a wide range of distortion and offers three basic controls: Fuel (volume), Pressure (tone shield) and Launch (gain). The fuzz in an impressive retro-futuristic style is priced at around 180 dollars.

Spurr Audio Orbit-2

Double Pickups AcoustiFex GO Pro complex pickup system

A next-generation detachable pickup system for acoustic guitars that attaches behind the edges of the instrument's soundhole, it includes a magnetic dual-coil pickup, condenser microphone, effects section with 4 programmable presets, wireless communication and OTG recording interface. You may choose from a compressor, reverb, delay, chorus, equalizer and notch filter, power is provided by a Li-ion battery rechargeable via a USB port. The AcoustiFex GO Pro also features Bluetooth technology for streaming or pairing with the X2 mobile editing app, including a tuner, metronome, looper and drum machine. Thanks to the wireless UHF module, there's no need for an instrument cable, while the system has a range of up to 50m and comes with a jack receiver, again powered by a rechargeable battery.

Double Pickups – AcoustiFex GO Pro

SSE Half Day: compressor for guitar and bass

New York-based small-volume manufacturer Summer School Electronics has expanded its effects portfolio with the addition of the Half Day, a hand-assembled compressor suitable for use with both guitar and bass, featuring a lever-operated Guitar/Bass mode switch with different input circuit capacities. In Guitar mode, the lower frequencies are suppressed, allowing the instrument to stand out in a band mix, while Bass mode lets more of the lower bands into the signal, making it ideal not only for bass guitar, but also for synths, or lower tuned and multi-string guitars. Straightforward controls consist of compression, tone shutter and volume parameters with a boost circuit tied in.

Jad Freer CAPO bass preamp by Tim Lefebvre

Not long after the debut of the Volta all-tube bass head, the boutique manufacturer delivers a pedal preamp/DI box designed to the specifications of bassist Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, Bill Evans, Wayne Krantz, Tedeschi Trucks Band etc.). Capable of producing clean studio-quality sounds, subtle crunch, harmonic mass saturation and everything in between, the CAPO TL version features a trio of parallel preamp circuits, two balanced XLR outputs and, last but not least, extensive signal routing options thanks to a pair of effects loops (Pre/Post). A three-band active EQ with semi-parametric mids (100 Hz - 10 kHz range), a low-pass filter, Deep, Bite and Tim buttons (alternating Pre Loop / Preamp modes) and other functions are installed.

Meinl Pure Alloy Extra Hammered cymbals

The professional cymbals from the headquarters in Gutenstetten, Germany, include eight models in total: a 15" hi-hat, 16", 18" and 20" crashes, 20" and 22" ride-crashes and a pair of 20" and 22" diameter rides. The Pure Alloy Extra Hammered collection, made from B12 bronze alloy, features a double hammering process in which the company uses computer-controlled hammering, ensuring a high degree of consistency in the processing and therefore in the sound, characterized by superior consistency, complexity and warmth of tone with a pure transparent presentation. Official European prices start at around 260 euros for the 16" crash.

GLA-OC1 Governor: dual studio compression from Gainlab Audio

The high-end rack-mounted optical compressor for studio applications is equipped with tubes and, thanks to its dual-threshold design and steepness curves, allows you to maintain detailed control over the dynamics of your recording. Partially adopting the Bishop preamp/compressor concept, the model also adds the light tube distortion functionality familiar from the company's Empress equalizer, including side-chain filtering and full-spectrum or high-frequency gain options. The Governor can operate in stereo or dual mono mode, and features a trio of mods, providing adjustments ranging from subtle LA-2A-style compression to more aggressive compression not standard on optical versions. The signal can thus be shaped very flexibly and the resulting sound remains pleasing even at extreme settings.

Gainlab Audio – GLA-OC1 Governor

 Expressive E Osmose Synth is heading to Czech distribution

Coming to the Czech market is the uniquely conceived polyphonic (24 voices) Osmose synthesizer, developed by Expressive E in collaboration with Haken Audio, who provided a custom-designed EaganMatrix power engine, including storage content with over five hundred presets or custom macros and sensitivity controls. The French manufacturer has equipped the Osmose with a special AKA keyboard with 49 semi-weighted aftertouch keys that respond to gestures and stroke patterns, which can also be used to change audio registers. Digital, granular, FM, spectral, subtractive or virtual analogue synthesis, arpeggiator, effects unit and extensive connectivity are available. Hailed as one of the most interactive electronic instruments of today, the Synth carries a price tag of approximately 44200 CZK and is expected to appear on the Czech market in February.

Erica Synths Drum Stereo FX and DJ VCF modules

The renowned brand has strengthened its portfolio with a pair of modules for Eurorack systems. The Drum Stereo FX version is based on a new DSP engine controlling the circuitry of three types of delay and an equal number of reverbs, developed in collaboration with 112dB. The reverb time of the delays (ranging from 5 to 3000 ms) can be synchronised with the clock signal, rhythm patterns are integrated, the Patch encoder also acts as a tap tempo and the memory can hold 10 presets. The Stereo DJ VCF analogue module is a low-pass/high-pass filter unit equipped with, among other things, a Resonance function for creating unusual modulations of sound colours that are difficult to achieve with classic status filters. Both modules also have CV inputs, one of which is connected to an attenuverter (reversing the polarity of the signal or voltage).

Tagy Fender Mr. Black Spurr Audio Double Pickups Summer School Electronics Jad Freer meinl Gainlab Audio Expressive E Erica synths

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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.