FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL STRATOCASTER
The hallmarks of an American-made Fender Stratocaster will forever be a classic combination, embraced by guitarists, and imitated by competitors. There’s no going past the versatility of three quality single-coil pickups, that classic double-cutaway body shape and a vibrato bridge. With rumours mounting in late 2016 that Fender was planning to discontinue the production of the American Standard Stratocaster, a sense of panic was unleashed amongst the guitar community. What we weren’t aware of at the time, however, was that Fender were planning to unveil a new Strat – the American Professional Stratocaster. It’s with this new model that Fender have both honoured and enhanced that of its predecessors – most notably with the instalment of newly developed pickups. For this reason alone it’s a welcomed upgrade from what we have seen in the past.
MERIS MERCURY7 500 SERIES REVERB
This is the second 500 series module from Meris that I have had the pleasure of messing around with and again, these guys have not failed to impress. There are plenty of reverb plug-ins available that will suck the power from your computer and slow down performance greatly, whilst still not offering quite what you want in control and creative input like this unit does. Being a 500 series rack module, you need never worry about the Mercury7 chewing up your RAM and you can use it in a number of ways within your signal path to create some truly ethereal sounds that are more musical than you might have thought a reverb could be.
PRESONUS FADERPORT 8 MIX PRODUCTION CONTROLLER
I first started using one of the original PreSonus FaderPorts about eight years ago and was immediately drawn to just how much it improved my workflow. Right away I used the computer’s mouse a lot less and didn’t have to remember as many keyboard shortcuts. For a ProTools user, it’s always a good thing to be able to drop a few shortcuts from the memory bank to make way for the other eight dozen that you need to use, so the FaderPort was a real blessing. But that was the humble, compact device that eight years ago kept me happy, nestled in amongst the mix bus of my analogue console. Things have changed since then and I rarely sit at the large console now, working mostly form a couple of other computers, more in the box, yet I still need that ‘hands on’ workflow. I got to run my hands over the newest member of the PreSonus family at NAMM this year, but luckily I was able to spend some more time with the FaderPort 8 upon my return.
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL TELECASTER DELUXE HH SHAWBUCKER
Fender is a guitar manufacturer always excited by the prospect of entering new ground, lead by a team intently focused on what will come next. Hence the decision late last year to discontinue their American Standard Series line of guitars, and to replace it with the freshly inspired American Professional Series. Rather than resting on their laurels, with this shift in production Fender have provided us with a newly evolved Tele and Strat, along with the addition of three new models – one which is the American Professional Telecaster Deluxe Shawbucker. This guitar here is an ode to The Deluxe of the ‘70s – when Fender made their first foray into the world of humbucker pickups – and is a reinvigorated upgrade of the Classic Series ’72 Telecaster Deluxe that the company released in 2004. Like the entire American Professional Series, this Tele Deluxe comes with new pickups, a new neck shape and a treble-bleed tone circuit – and as such, a whole lot of intrigue.
Carl Martin Purple Moon Vintage Fuzz n' Vibe Effect Pedal
Where would we be today without some of the wacky stuff they managed to pull off in the 60s? You’ve heard the story a million times before; blues begets rock n’ roll begets teenage rebellion begets illicit substance abuse begets unperturbed sonic exploration. It’s all as trite and affected as a high school production of Hair, but there’s no denying that the ripples of such fierce experimentation are still washing kids down the rabbit hole to this very day. Attn: Kevin Parker.
JBL EON ONE PORTABLE PA SYSTEM
The portable PA idea is not a new one, but it seems that every year it gets improved upon in a number of ways. JBL have always been market leaders in getting new portable PA ideas out there, I was using EON speakers almost twenty years ago, and loved their ease of use and portability back then. Since then we have seen the power increase, whilst the size and weight have been reduced. Now JBL have gone even further, putting the entire PA into one box that still offers maximum sound and clarity, with portability being the focus. The idea of only having to make one trip from the car to the venue is certainly going to appeal to many.
ICON PLATFORM M DAW CONTROLLER & PLATFORM D DISPLAY
Many of you may have used an Icon controller in the past, with their iControl and Qcon series proving to be very popular, and both offering a great range of features at a very competitive price point. Until recently I was only aware of these DAW controllers from Icon. At least, that was until some boxes landed on my desk featuring a couple of units from their Platform system. This is like a compact version of the Qcon, in that it can act as a standalone, fully fledged controller in its own right, but can also be upgraded with other peripherals from the range to expand the size and capabilities of the unit. I was lucky enough to be able to test the Platform M DAW controller and Platform D LCD display.
Carl Martin Dual Injector Twin Boost Effect Pedal
Volume and tone are to musicians what hydrogen and helium are to scientists. They are the two most basic, alchemical ingredients from whence we come to know our world, the alpha and beta of our language and the Adam and Eve to the grand story of ourselves. It’s not often in the course of reviewing gear that you come across something that uses those two things alone in an attempt to eek out a place for itself in the grand scheme of things. Few builders dare to distill their craft back down to its very essence, so when they do it becomes quite a sight for sore eyes, or ears as the case may be.