NEW GEAR 6/24: Ibanez Guitars and Effects, Laney BCC, Tama Snare and ZIO Bass Preamp
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. Ibanez has expanded its AZ Premium guitar line with four models and added two Pentatone pedals, UK's Laney has upgraded its Ironheart amplifiers with the BCC collection, FM Guitars entices with new Esphera boutique basses, D'Angelico has unveiled a pair of Excel series fully-hollow guitars and Akai has new MPC Stems sampling technology. We can also recommend the Seymour Duncan Brandon Ellis humbucker, Source Audio's bass preamp and Tama Mastercraft's brass or rosewood snare.
D'Angelico Excel EXL-1 and Excel Style B modified fully-hollow guitars
The American manufacturer has announced the return of instruments inspired by John D'Angelico's original designs, which have been slightly modified but still honour the vintage style and offer a rich, woody tone, evoking the traditional sound of mid-century New York jazz. The Excel EXL-1, with its 3" body depth and cutaway, is based on the 1947 version, with a newly modified neck profile for more comfortable playing and an ebony fretboard carrying Jescar frets. The Dark Iced Tea Burst version features a Seymour Duncan 59 neck humbucker, while the Amber lacquer version is fitted with an SD Johnny Smith "floating" mini-humbucker. The Excel Style B version, based on the original from the 1930s, features a classic body shape, a Throwback headstock and the iconic DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1000 single-coil pickup.
Four new Ibanez models in the AZ Premium 2024 Series
The following four models have been added to Ibanez's AZ Series Premium Edition Superstrats: AZ42P1 in Prussian Blue Metallic, the seven-string AZ427P2QM with a cloud maple top in a transparent Twilight Blue Burst finish, the AZ24P1QM with a black pickguard and identical maple top in Deep Ocean Blonde, and the luxurious-looking AZ47P1QM version, whose top is finished in a transparent Dragon Eye Burst lacquer. The common denominator of all models is the American basswood body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard with genuine mother-of-pearl markers complemented by side luminescent dots, Gotoh MG-T locking machines, Gotoh T1502 tremolo (AZ427P2QM - T1572S), Graph Tech zero fret and 25.5" length scale. The sound is transmitted by Seymour Duncan Hyperion and DiMarzio pickups in various configurations. The instruments are supplied with a gig bag and service keys.
Mooer Harmony and Tender Octaver from the X2 series
Mooer's X2 Series effects collection has expanded with the addition of a new programmable harmonizer and octaver that utilize an advanced DSP engine. With slots for 14 presets, the Tender Octaver X2 allows you to quickly select between the lower and upper octave or activate both octaves simultaneously, changing their colour (Tone controls) and volume ratio to the clean signal. The Harmony X2 pedal is fully stereo (2x input / 2x output) and features dual circuitry independent of each output. For the L/R channels, the volume can be independently adjusted and then selected from 12 chromatic scale tones, while any of 11 different interval modes (thirds, fifths, sevenths, etc.) can be added to their main note. A pair of footswitches switches the left and right channels, or the Mixed/Individual output modes. The L+R circuits also work in mono and classic stereo.
Ibanez Pentatone PTEQ and Pentatone PTGATE equalizer and noise gate
Taking advantage of the potential of last year's Pentatone PTPRE guitar preamp, Ibanez has launched the Pentatone PTEQ and Pentatone PTGATE pedals, offering the equalization and noise gate sections of the preamp as separate effects, with both models receiving some improvements. The five-band Pentatone PTEQ retains the backlit tension faders as well as the classic pots determining the operating frequencies (total range 30 Hz - 14.5 kHz), to which the Q parameter controls are now linked, making the PTEQ a full-fledged parametric equaliser. The modification of the PTGATE noise gate with Threshold control and High/Low toggle lever mainly concerns connectivity to the instrument I/O and Gate In/Out connectors, which significantly increases the possibilities of connecting the noise gate to other components of the signal chain.
The Custom Shop of the renowned pickup manufacturer has launched a humbucker designed for the guitarist of the band Black Dahlia Murder. The pickup is offered as both a classic humbucker and a Trembucker with extended pole spacing for Floyd Rose-style tremolo guitars. The system combines coils from the SD Crazy 8 and Parallel Axis Trembucker Distortion pickups and is fitted with the Alnico 2 magnet from the RTM model. The result is a humbucker with a strong signal (18.3 kOhm resistance), rich harmonic response, and detailed, articulate pick attack. In addition, the pickup can be used in reverse to achieve different character in the mids. Four conductor wiring is installed, and you can choose from versions without logos, or with one or two logos. Price: approx. $180.
Laney BCC Ironheart amplifiers, combos and plug-ins
Three new guitar amps and a matching plug-in from the Laney BCC Ironheart series premiered at this year's NAMM. The latter basically includes three-channel tube heads BCC-IRT60H, BCC-IRT120H (60W / 100W) and a 30W BCC-IRT30-112 combo from the British workshops of Black Country Customs, which took care of, among other things, modification of the boost circuit, line output and other modifications that distinguish the BCC series from the previous Ironheart series. For the first time ever, Laney is also entering the plug-in realm, with the Aurora DSP Ironheart software featuring BCC virtual amps, two proprietary IR impulse boxes with microphone settings, BCC Monolith and Steelpark pedals and an effects section with compressor, EQ, delay, etc.
Esphera: custom bass from FM Guitars
The Californian boutique brand has expanded its portfolio with new luxury basses from the Esphera series. Both Traditional (4 to 7 strings) and Dual-Fretboard versions (8, 10 or 12 strings) are available. The choice of alder, basswood or ash body is complemented by a bolt-on neck with Slim-D profile, glued from maple and mahogany. Ebony fretboard carries 24 stainless steel frets, and you can choose single-coil and humbucker soapbar pickups: J, PJ, MM type or passive and active variants from EMG, Fishman, Seymour Duncan and other renowned manufacturers. The basic control consists of volume, tone pot, blend and push/pull, but the company also offers different setups including various preamps, etc.
Source Audio ZIO analog bass preamp/DI
A flexible pedal preamp and DI box with straightforward controls in the form of volume potentiometers, a two-band active EQ and a high-pass Focus filter, plus a pair of lever switches with Grit (light distortion) and Scoop (midrange offset) functions, this offers a fully analogue signal path with a very low noise. A high-quality Burr-Brown OPA1656 chip has been used, allowing the preamp to produce a wide dynamic and sonic palette, from a warm vintage sound to a modern, punchy and assertive tone. In addition to the classic jack output, there's a headphone jack and a balanced XLR output with custom gain (passive/active bass) and detachable ground. Price: approx. 250 dollars.
Introduced in 1980, the Tama Mastercraft Bell Brass snare drum has become one of the most sought after and prized vintage snare drums over time. Now, on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary, a faithful reissue called BB-156 has been released, measuring 14 "x6.5", with a body made from 3mm thick sand-cast bell brass, giving the drum a harmonically rich and pure tone. Also harking back to the 1980s are the Mastercraft Rosewood models, nicknamed "Terminator", which in their day represented the first rosewood snare, providing a warm sound with a dark timbre. The 14 "x5" or 14 "x6.5" RW-255 and RW-256 reissues feature a body glued from 15 layers of 7.5mm thick Indian rosewood, Superstar Original rims, period mechanism, One-Touch dampers and REMO Ambassador Coated bellows.
Akai Pro MPC Stems features: a new era of sampling?
MPC Stems technology is a new feature for Akai's MPC software and hardware range, which the manufacturer says is set to change the established ways of making music based on samples. The new method is capable of extracting up to four "stems" - vocal lines, bass, drums or other musical components (melodies and chords) – from any given sample, eliminating the need for external instruments, imports and other procedures. Once separated, the freely combinable "stems" are automatically assigned to a given pad, and then parameters can be set independently or the Chop + Create Stems function can be used, etc. Everything is seamlessly integrated into the familiar MPC platform workflow. The new feature should appear first in software versions of MPC, with MPC Stem being added later for hardware models.
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