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Guitar Musician e-zine     09/20/2006


In This Issue:


  "Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule."

                                                                                    -Samuel Butler


Some Humor

 

A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. "What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."


A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar



 
Click here for all products by ART.
 

ART Pro mic processors

Bringing warmth to the world of digital sound

By Chris Wood

Bringing warmth to the world of digital sound

Applied Research and Technology (ART) can put analog warmth back into your cool digital sound. ART, based in Rochester, NY, has been designing and building audio processors for over 20 years. The company is made up largely of musicians, recording enthusiasts, and audio pros who have designed and created a line of products that they take pride in using themselves. We�ll take a look at how four of ART�s recent innovative processors can give your sound the timeless quality found in classic recordings and performances.

Pro Channel Tube Preamp

ART�s Pro Channel gives you a single channel of sound that rivals that of the most elite high-end processors at a fraction of the cost of an entire console. Harnessing the power of three of ART�s pro audio processors�Pro MPA, Pro VLA, and Tube EQ�the Pro Channel delivers the goods.

You can select between ART�s award-winning optical/tube compression or a VCA tube circuit that produces the warm tone made famous by coveted vintage broadcast limiters. The tube circuit acts quickly and rather aggressively to produce classic sound quality�fat, beefy, and warm.

The four-band parametric EQ includes two sweepable midrange bands like the finer British-made consoles. Top studio and live-sound specialists were brought in to assist in the fine-tuning. If you�re looking for the ultimate in sound quality and sophisticated controls in the studio or onstage, Pro Channel is a good place to start.

ART PRO VLA 2-Channel Tube Compressor, ART Pro Channel Tube Mic Preamp
ART PRO VLA 2-Channel Tube Compressor, ART Pro Channel Tube Mic Preamp


 

Pro VLA Tube Mic Compressor

One of the most difficult tasks in music is managing the sound�s dynamics. Some sounds are invariably too loud and others are too quiet. The Pro VLA (Vactrol-based Leveling Amplifer) gives you two channels of tube compression to control dynamics by establishing a ceiling to limit the loudest sounds and a floor to increase levels of quieter signals. Pro VLA�s compression can also be used to add increased punch and presence to instruments and vocals.

Pro VLA circuitry uses a hybrid advanced tube and solid state design with optical (Vactrol) electronics for faultless signal integrity and extremely low noise. A 12AX7A tube gain stage keeps the effects natural-sounding and musical. The Pro VLA easily provides a "squashed," or extremely compressed signal, but is really designed for musical performances requiring subtle, transparent operation. Compression is also often used to make a signal louder and more "in-your-face." The optoelectronics allow you to add compression without making the signal sound too squashed. With Pro VLA you don�t hear the pumping and breathing effects found in heavier-handed compressors. The sound has a superb character found in no other compressor and is remarkably quiet.

ART MPA Gold 2 Channel Mic Pre with Variable Impedance, ART DMPA Pro 2 Channel Mic Pre with Digital Outs
ART MPA Gold 2 Channel Mic Pre w/ Variable Impedance, DMPA Pro 2 Channel Mic Pre w/ Digital Outs


 

MPA Gold 2-Channel Mic Pre

MPA Gold is favored by live sound and recording engineers for imbuing vocal performances with warmth, clarity, and presence. MPA Gold makes both dynamic and condenser microphones simply sound better. Three knobs on each channel respectively adjust channel input gain; vary the impedance from 150 ohms to 3,000 ohms; and control the analog output. Other switches control phantom power, high-pass filter, and the tube plate voltage. The variable input impedance changes the load against which the mic has to push, and variation here dramatically alters the sound. MPA Gold�s input impedance is infinitely variable, rather than stepped, allowing you to match the impedance of all kinds of different mics accurately.

The tube plate voltage control provides tonal variety, using a pair of 12AX7A vacuum tubes to put additional gain on the signal while preserving original tone and controlled overload. Tweaking the input gain and the tube plate voltage produces a round, overdriven sound that gives vocals and acoustic instruments more presence in the mix and enhances instrumental harmonics. Two large, vintage-style VU meters monitor output levels and LEDs monitor display peak history and average levels of tube saturation.

Vocalists, players, producers, sound engineers, and digital studio owners will love the MPA Gold for the warmth and character it brings to any signal.

Digital MPA Pro 2-Channel Mic Pre

The digital version of MPA Gold, DMPA Pro gives you not only analog outputs, but a full battery of digital I/O. These digital connections include AES/EBU, S/PDIF, TOSLINK, and ADAT interfaces, allowing you to connect all the latest digital gear. The Digital MPA provides 24-bit support or it can adapt to 16-bit applications with the push of a button. The A/D is front panel adjustable from 44.1 to 192K or syncs to ADAT or external word clock (32kHz to 100kHz). If you�ve got an all-digital studio, DMPA Pro is the one to pick.

Features & Specs:


Pro Channel:

  • Tube mic pre, optical/tube compressor, and tube EQ
  • Precision detented potentiometers
  • Selectable VU metering
  • Tube character and gain LEDs
  • Balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4" I/O
  • Insert points
  • 3 tubes

Pro VLA:

  • VCA-less design
  • Variable threshold, ratio, and output controls
  • Variable input and output Gain Controls
  • Input/output level metering
  • 10-segment gain reduction LED
  • XLR and 1/4" I/O
  • Mastering quality
  • ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN EDITORS CHOICE AWARD

MPA Gold:

  • Variable input impedance
  • Selectable tube plate voltage
  • Large VU meters
  • Tube warmth LED meter
  • Discrete Class A input mic preamp
  • Lower noise, wide freq. response, and low THD

Digital MPA Pro:

  • Precision detented potentiometers
  • Selectable VU meters (mic pre out, compressor out, or main out)
  • Tube character and gain reduction LED arrays

 

GUITAR Q AND A

 

Bi-Dextral Hammer On?

Larry Simmons; Nagoya, Japan

Q: What is a Bi-dextral hammer on? I read this in a product description and it got my curiosity.

A: Those fancy names they put on common techniques really make them sound intriguing.

Bi-dextral means two hand, this is a two-handed hammer on technique that incorporates tapping on the neck with the fingers on your picking hand. Eddie Van Halen is probably one of the best known players for using this technique.

If you want to hear good examples of this technique, listen to "Eruption" or "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen.

Hope this helps!

 

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House



  How to Get Rid of Single-Coil Hum Without Getting Rid of Single-Coil Tone

Turn up your Strat (or any guitar equipped with standard single-coil pickups) and you get a certain amount of hum and buzz, especially if playing under fluorescent lights or near anything that creates a strong electromagnetic field. If you find this sound hideously irritating, as many do, you might consider a guitar with humbucking pickups. That's the extreme alternative... sort of like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because you get rid of the hum problem, but you also get rid of that twangy, out-of-phase tone that single-coils get. The classic Fender tone, as it could be described.

One way to beat the problem (still fairly radical) is to go active. With an active preamp system in your guitar and a set of such pickups as Duncan LiveWires, you cure the problem.

But there is yet another solution, short of trading in your guitar or routing it out to make room for humbuckers or active electronics. There is a group of pickups designed to be hum-cancelling or "bucking," but which retain the essential single-coil sound. Seymour Duncan makes several. The "Classic Stack" has the dual coils of a humbucker, but they are stacked so that the pickup has the dimensions of a single-coil. It also retains the sound of a single-coil, but without the hum. Their Vintage Rail pickup is another that accomplishes the same mission, single-coil sound without the hum. Another pickup that is growing in popularity is the DiMarzio Virtual Vintage.

Fender itself has several new designs that you can use as pop-in replacements on your Strat�Lace Sensors and Vintage Noiseless. Most of the Lace Sensors get a humbucker sound, but the Gold is designed for a vintage tone, a glassy, bell-like sound with crisp highs. Even closer in tone to your vintage single-coils are Fender's new Vintage Noiseless pickups. In this case, Fender's noiseless technology has very successfully minimized the noise while retaining the tone.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but long enough to show you that there are alternative ways to keep your single-coil-equipped guitar "as is" vintagy, but with sweet silence, rather than buzz, between the notes.

 


Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

 
Rory Block, The Lady and Mr. Johnson
By Ian Zack
Tributes to Robert Johnson have become almost de rigueur of late, with Eric Clapton and John Hammond having each released full CDs of Johnson�s music in the past few years. But if the field has grown a bit crowded, it�s still hard to quibble much with Block�s choice, given that she has spent a three-decades-plus career interpreting prewar Mississippi country blues. Indeed, pound for pound, Block has few equals when it comes to capturing this music�s subtleties�its complex rhythms and microtonal shadings�on guitar. She has covered many of the 13 tunes here previously, but in these newly recorded versions her gospel-tinged vocals are particularly ferocious, while her skills on the fingerboard have only improved over time. Her splendid slide work on the opener, �Crossroad Blues,� perfectly evokes both the vulnerability and danger of Johnson�s playing on his seminal 1936 recording. While her from-the-gut singing and percussive picking on �Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)� have the emotive power of a fiery church sermon. And her rendering of �Come on in My Kitchen��from a woman�s perspective�lends the tune some feminine charm and grit, again proving that these old songs have some life in them yet. (Rykodisc, www.rykodisc.com)

 



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