Maton have made a guitar out of reclaimed timber from Melbourne’s most iconic music venues

Maton have made a guitar out of reclaimed timber from Melbourne’s most iconic music venues

A Maton electric guitar made from timber from some of Melbourne’s most iconic music venues has been revealed as part of Support Act and Mushroom Group’s Made From Melbourne project.

Read all the latest in Music News here.

The Maton MM3000, which is modelled on the Australian guitar manufacturer’s BB1200 JH signature model for Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, is crafted from reclaimed wood from seminal local venues such as The Corner Hotel, The Espy, The Tote and Cherry Bar, celebrating the legacy of each venue and their role within Melbourne music culture.

The guitar was commissioned as part of Support Act and Mushroom Group’s upcoming Made From Melbourne project, which was originally spearheaded by the late Michael Gudinski as a means of raising funds for the local scene to assist in their post-pandemic financial recovery.

Directed by Matt Weston (The Chats, Cosmic Psychos), Made From Melbourne will be released to streaming services in the days ahead, with punters being able to watch the film for a yet-to-be-disclosed price. All proceeds raised from the film will be donated directly to Support Act.

The film features appearances from local identities such as Adalita, You Am I’s Tim Rogers and former Recovery host Jane Gazzo, who can be seen discussing the city’s vibrant musical culture in the trailer below.

It’s also been reported that the Maton MM3000 will also travel to various venues and studios around Melbourne after the premiere of the film, with members of the general public being able to play it for free.

“Based on Maton’s BB1200 JH model, the MM3000 blends a variety of timbers, infused with the blood, sweat and spilt beers of Melbourne’s live music scene and stands as an enduring symbol of the importance venues have in building a thriving music community,” a statement to the press reads.

“Once launched, the Maton MM3000 will live on in the venues and studios of Melbourne – free to be played and used by local and visiting artists – and stand as an enduring symbol of the importance venues have in building a thriving music community.”

Find out more about the guitar via the Made From Melbourne website. 

Studio Essentials: Billy Davis

For the better part of five years, Billy Davis has repped Melbourne’s musical leanings on the world stage better than almost anybody else.

A virtuosic keyboardist, masterful composer and a cunning producer to boot, he’s toured the world and lent his instrumental talents to zeitgeist-defining artists such as Joey Bada$$, Goldlink, BROCKHAMPTON and Tones and I, all while proudly representing local crew The Operatives and building up a rock-solid solo catalogue that draws from gospel, future-funk, R&B and hip-hop.

Read all the latest artist features, columns and interviews here.

On his latest full-length effort This Is What’s ImportantBilly improves on his instrumental and production chops even further to present what can only be described as his most definitive creative statement to date.

Sonically, it’s about as textured and funky as you’d expect from the man – and perhaps even groovier than you’d previously assume it to be – while thematically, Davis dives into notions of love, life, family and loss as he comes to turn with the passing of his own mother.

Tracks like ‘She Is Always Going to Be Important’ and the album standout ‘Dream No More’ with Ruel and Genesis Owusu showcase Billy’s tender songwriting, while cuts like ‘Wilderness’ with Phoenix, Jordan Dennis and EMRSN and the VanJess and Matt McGhee team-up of ‘Shoulda Known’ demonstrate the danceable, hard-hitting take on hip-hop and R&B Billy’s been honing in on over the course of his career.

With the album out into the world, we linked up with Billy Davis for an insider peek at some of the most essential gear in his studio, giving us a glimpse at his creative process employed while crafting This Is What’s Important.

Steinberg AXR4 Audio Interface

Some call me crazy, some call me insane, but I’m a creature of habit.  The same interface I use whilst onstage or performing is the same I use whilst in the studio (which makes packing up and stuff really annoying) but it works for me.

I love the Steinberg AXR4 because it gives me ability to route all my different sounds through different inputs, which is important for me having so many different keyboards, vocalists, instruments etc. All the internal ability is good and helps me to be able to put forward a hot sound.

UVI Ravenscroft Piano VST

In my opinion, this is one of the most slept-on piano VSTs in the game.

For me, growing up in gospel music and listening to cinematic music for most of my upbringing, being able to harmonise emotively and also match that emotion sonically was so important. I totally believe this piano gives you the ability to do this!

It sounds so crisp and is worth the investment, as I don’t think a lot of people have this sound. For me, the sonic uniqueness is so important when it comes to pianos and patches.

Spitfire Audio LABS Soft Piano VST

Get this piano, and the tears will follow: it’s that simple.

When it comes to the sad side of things of music to the hopeful side of music, this piano is able to transmit it all. This is actually my top secret so I’m scared of sharing this, but heck, we are here now.

Reaper64

As I said before, I am a creature of habit. I have used Reaper since I was a teen and this DAW hasn’t failed me.

Each to their own, but I’ve been able to make my last album and my brand new album with this program. It’s pretty straight forward, and simple and easy to use.

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

I always thought I would be an onboard producer / keys player but I’ve slowly come across the line when it comes to synth VSTs. Now, look no further than Omnisphere 2: the thing covers synth basses, synth leads, pads, atmospheric sounds – all of it.

If you want to take your songs to another level sonically, I highly recommend Omnisphere. The amount of content on it is amazing.

Yamaha CP73

When it comes to expressive playing and music, it’s not only about the harmonics and sonics, but also the action which is tied into the expression of the instrument.

For me personally, the Yamaha CP73’s piano sounds, Rhodes sounds and effects ability has made it the best piano-action keyboard in the game at the moment. I was a longtime Montage user for everything, but with me using more VSTs and other synths, this keyboard has become my number one right now.

Access Virus TI

I remember being at a gig a couple of years ago and seeing one of Australia’s greatest keys players, Grant Windsor, playing this keyboard. The sounds he was pulling legit blew my mind that night and I remember immediately going on the hunt for it.

Not a lot of people know about this keyboard and thats why I love this keyboard so much. The sounds and sonics on this keyboard are so amazing: the synths, pads, everything on it is completely unheard of and there are just so many sounds, especially when it comes to synth basses and leads. This thing is king.

Sequential / Dave Smith Prophet 12

Again, this thing is king. The synths, arpeggios and pads I’ve pulled from this are amazing. If you know Dave Smith, you know the history behind all these sounds and how high quality they are. This is one of the most important synthesisers in the game today, and especially for me personally with my music.

This Is What’s Important, the new album from Billy Davis, is out now via Sony Music Australia. Catch Billy on tour with Tones and I around the Australia this April and May. 

Hiwatt, Modal Electronics + more: our top five gear releases of the week

With so many brands to keep up to date with, it can be easy to lose track of all the latest equipment launched into the gear-sphere each week.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the best product releases that you might’ve missed over the week, including a 4:20 themed release from Hiwatt, a down-sized synth from Modal Electronics and new gear from Gibson, Frederic Effects and Ibanez. Dive on in!

This week’s top picks:

  • Hiwatt Hi-5 420 Head
  • Modal Electronics Skulpt SE
  • Gibson Marcus King 1962 ES-345
  • Fredric Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz
  • Ibanez JSM20TH John Scofield Signature

Check out all the latest Product News here.

Hiwatt Hi-5 420 Head

Rise up smokers! In what seems to be an extremely logical move when considering their own brand name, British amplification gurus Hiwatt have pandered to everybody’s favourite stoner holiday with the launch of the Hiwatt Hi-5 420 amp head, available in either green tolex or traditional black with a green badge.

Boasting two independent channels for Clean and Overdrive, each of which feature their own volume controls in addition to a master Gain knob, the Hi-5 420 amp makes use of a simple two-band EQ for tonal control, offering a no-fuss solution for recorded guitar tones.

The amp packs five watts of power and utilises a 12AX7 valve in the preamp section and an EL84 for the output, while a 3.5mm AUX input lets you plug in your smartphone, laptop or tablet to play along with tracks.

There’s also the option to purchase the Hi-5 alongside a Hiwatt HG112 420 speaker cabinet, which features a birch ply frame and a 420 badge emblazoned on the front of the cab. Gnarly, dude – this one’s also a Reverb exclusive, so head there if you’re keen to pass that dutchie.

Modal Electronics Skulpt SE

The Modal Electronics Skulpt was a compact, cleverly designed digital desktop synth that was released to positive reviews back in 2019. Now, the company have revised the unit and stripped it down even further with the new Skulpt SE; a tiny four-voice unit with some pretty impressive sound design potential.

With two Wave groups per voice and four oscillators a piece, the Skulpt SE lets you easily move through waveforms without missing a beat, while an additional oscillator modulator lets you play with some wonky, moving textures.

State-variable two-pole filters allow you to trim the fat from any harsh frequencies, while three envelopes let you shape the sound of your signal’s filter, modulation and amplification. There’s also two LFOs that can be synced to internal or external tempo clocks, plus inbuilt delay and distortion and onboard arpeggiator and sequencer capabilities.

For a unit that’s barely bigger than your average iPhone, Modal Electronics look like they’ve tapped into something special with the Skulpt SE, and we can’t wait to hear it in action.

Modal Electronics · 000 Sauce Bass

Gibson Marcus King 1962 ES-345

Here’s another fancy Gibson Custom Shop signature model! This time, it’s blues boss Marcus King who’s received the signature treatment, teaming up with Gibson on the new Marcus King 1962 ES-345 – a guitar based on the family heirloom used by King throughout many of his live sets.

With a ’60s Cherry VOS finish and era-correct six-position Varitone switch, the Marcus King 1962 ES-345 offers two Custombucker humbucking pickups, with CRS potentiometers and Black Cat capacitors ensuring only the best in the wiring department.

Elsewhere, the guitar features an ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic bridge with a sideways Vibrola tremolo, plus gold Grover milk-bottle tuners and aged hardware. Of course, models like these do come with a fairly heady price-tag to contend with, but it’s definitely a pretty cool looking signature model.

Fredric Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz

Upon first glimpse, you might assume the Frederic Effects DuoFace Vintage Fuzz is just another Fuzz Face clone, right? Well, yeah – it is. However, it does come with a pretty sophisticated design that combines two different circuits in parallel to make it all the more versatile, bringing the classic tones of the Fuzz Face smack bang into a modern era of guitar playing.

With a negative ground Silicon transistor fuzz and a positive ground Germanium transistor circuit running in parallel, the DuoFace Vintage Fuzz features a toggle in the centre position of the pedal to let you flip between each circuit. There’s also two micro-control knobs to adjust the bias of each circuit – a really nice touch in our books – while a Gain and Volume control assumes responsibility for the rest of the pedal’s endeavours.

Ibanez JSM20TH John Scofield Signature

John Scofield is an absolute titan within the field of jazz-fusion. He’s worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, John Mayer, George Duke and Herbie Hancock, and has proudly touted an Ibanez signature guitar onstage and in the studio for 20 years now. To celebrate that 20 year milestone, Ibanez have revealed details of an anniversary model, decking out his classic ES-inspired double-cut hollowbody guitar with a crisp black finish and gold hardware.

Featuring a 24.75″ scale length with a maple body and mahogany set neck with a bound ebony fretboard, the JSM20TH boasts 22 Ibanez Prestige frets for an ultra-smooth feel, while acrylic and abalone block inlays help add a touch of class to the neck.

For pickups, the guitar features two JSM Special humbuckers with eye-catching gold covers and twin volume and tone controls for each one, while a three-way selector switch lets you flip between neck, middle and bridge positions. In the hardware department, the JSM20TH offers up a Gotoh 510BN bridge, GE101A tailpiece and Gotoh 510 tuners, while the nut is a bone/brass composite for optimum tone and tuning stability.

Catch up on all of last week’s hot gear releases here.

Review: Samson Q9U XLR/USB Dynamic Broadcast Microphone

Samson Technologies operate out of Hicksville, New York and produce accessible and reliable products that fulfil a variety of uses for professionals and amateurs alike. 

The Q9U bridges a gap in being a large diaphragm dynamic microphone that can be used via USB and XLR alike. It features some on board sound sculpting options and an internal shock mount to insulate the capsule and prevent audible bumps that may ruin an otherwise exciting and engaging podcast.

Explore all the latest microphone, mixer and headphone reviews here.

Podcasts and broadcasting such as gaming and social media are seemingly where the Q9U was designed to be used, but as a full-range, dynamic mic, it can really do a lot more. 

Low pass filters are great for the spoken word, but they can also be great for recording a majority of sources, and the mid bump can help you commit to present, articulate sounds while recording. The Samson Q9U is a robust, professional microphone designed to make easy work of recording, sculpting and monitoring your sound source, whatever that may be. 

So what’s in the box? The Samson Q9U arrives in a well-packed and double wrapped cardboard box that protects the foam insert which grips the microphone. Included is a second windshield, keeping in mind that the metal grille enclosing the capsule is designed to prevent wind, breath and plosives, while the secondary foam windshield will ensure that nothing else gets through. 

The microphone itself is secured to a short clip with a thread to screw it onto a mic stand. The stand itself is robust and malleable, but solid enough to support the weight of the Q9U, even at the obtuse angles sometimes required to capture the best sound. The Q9U also includes a USB 2.0 to USB-C cable, as well as a cable with USB-C at both ends. 

In use, the Samson Q9U is weighty and solid, much like many Samson products. It feels well-built and like it can handle the consistent use of a variety of professional needs. While using the mic digitally via the USB output, you can record at 24bit/96kHz and monitor latency free via the 3.5mm headphone output on the mic itself. 

These kinds of additions make the Q9U a no-brainer for those dipping their toes into recording, as there’s no need to worry about headphone mixes or latency, as your sources can hear themselves crystal clear. The Q9U also has a handy ‘Mute’ button on the body of the mic which is especially handy for streaming where other sound sources need to move into the spotlight. 

The microphone is very directional and records very clear signal, thanks to the cardioid pattern and humbucking coil within the mic to eliminate or ‘buck’ hum. It can capture sound from 50Hz right up to 20kHz, so the Q9U is a really good choice for someone who may only have a need for one microphone. 

This is because the USB capabilities make it very portable and easy to use, but the addition of the XLR output means that as your skills grow, and you may decide to bring in some external processing like compressors or EQs, it can grow with you, your gear and your skills. The XLR output also makes it a great choice for recording music, as the response is fairly flat and you can toggle the little mid-bump or low-cut switches to taste. 

The Q9U weighs just under a kilogram and is constructed from zinc alloy and steel. The grille on the mic is metal, and will handle most plosives or explosive sounds, but the foam windshield include will handle everything else, though admittedly darkening the sound a little overall. 

The capsule offers a low-cut and mid boost, more specifically a cut of 3dB below 200Hz, so be weary when recording music incase you filter out too much of the good stuff. For spoken word, however, this is ideal. To my ears, the mid bump also offers a boost of about the same at around 1kHz, so again this is ideal for cleaning up a voice or muddy instrument.

The mic sounds very true to the source, and offers a little proximity effect when your source is super close, which can be handy for capturing music or alternatively the excitement of an enthralling story or anecdote in an interview. 

Ultimately, the Q9U really is a great tool to have in your arsenal, and Samson have once again demonstrated their understanding of the needs of musicians, artists and creators. While USB microphones are increasingly popular due to the ease of which they can be used, XLR microphones are a cut above that offer the user many more options to ensure a sound is captured clearly and concisely. 

The Q9U is both of these, offering beginners a mic that they can learn and build with, and for more advanced users, it’s a super portable mic that offers a bunch of different options for capturing a great sound fast. 

Everything you need is either in the box or featured on the mic, so thanks to Samson, there’s really no excuse not to start that podcast, streaming channel, song, interview, video or voice-over. 

Check out all the specs via Samson Technologies. For domestic availability, hit up Electric Factory.

Review: M-Audio BX8 D3 Studio Reference Monitors

Producing music from home is an increasingly accessible endeavour.

Companies like M-Audio are producing quality products to fit a budget without sacrificing the user’s ability to produce the best music they can make. From interfaces to MIDI controllers to monitors, you could easily put together a professional-grade recording rig with entirely M-Audio gear. 

Explore all the latest monitor, interface, headphone and other recording gear reviews here.

The new BX8 D3 are an 8” active studio reference monitor, designed for rooms of most sizes. The D3 is the flagship of the BX series of monitors, and they feature everything you need in a studio monitor, as well as some improvements to make your critical decision making easier.

The BX8 D3 offer a really balanced response, good bottom end for a mid sized speaker, and a clear midrange. The D3 monitors features upgraded speaker cones and tweeters, and a forward thinking design to maximise the response of the speakers at all volumes. 

The enclosures are constructed from vinyl-laminated high-acoustic-efficiency MDF and feature M-Audio’s fastener-less design to reduce any important acoustic energy being lost as it resonates through fasteners, screws or joints. The speakers weigh in at 11kg, so they’re heavy enough to be a quality speaker (that’s the rule of thumb, right?).

They feature a rear facing bass-port, that assists in providing a balanced response and does not blast the user with bottom end. They’re active, powered speakers that are driven by two Class A/B internal amplifiers, with a separate driver for the woofers and the tweeters (150 watts of power with 80 dedicated to lows and 70 reserved for highs).

The 8” woofer’s cones are constructed from Kevlar, a material gaining consistent popularity for its toughness, rigidity and weight, allowing the cones two move quickly and accurately, for accurate transient response for unparalleled monitoring. 

At the high end, the tweeters are constructed from treated silk and feature a custom waveguide to ensure a clear, accurate and precise stereo image. On the rear of the speaker you have TRS and XLR inputs, an ‘Acoustic Space’ toggle and a master volume. The ‘Acoustic Space’ acts as a bass cut if required in a smaller room, as the BX8 D3s are designed to go right down to 37Hz and up to 22kHz. 

Once plugged in, the D3s are really impressive. Monitoring is a really difficult one to judge, as we often hear things compared to what we’re used to, and are subject to whatever treatment we do (or don’t) have in our listening space.

What the D3s do to combat this, is offer a clear indicator of the ideal listening position. The power LED in the centre of the enclosure, between the tweeter and woofer, shines more brightly when it senses you at an ideal distance and position to be hearing the clearest, most balanced sound emanating from the speaker cones.

The ‘sweet spot’ can sometimes be difficult to distinguish, but the BX8 D3s have got that sorted for you. As an 8” speaker, the D3s give out a pretty reasonable amount of bass, and was initially overwhelming in my modestly sized room.

A quick switch of the ‘Acoustic Space’ toggle and I was happy, albeit maybe more comfortable with a sound I’m more used to. While running through a few different sounds and mixes, I found myself toggling between the ‘Acoustic Space’ settings, and ended up having no bass cut, and feeling like I could accurately hear what was happening in the low end. 

The mids and highs feel clear and articulate, without being overwhelmingly bright, nasal or embarrassingly revealing like some speakers. These other types of monitors have their place, of course, but the BX8 D3 are designed to be a full range speaker for consistent use, and I had little or no ear fatigue after my test. I can see these speakers being great for electronic music and rock, offering plenty of bottom end and low mids, as well as articulate highs. 

The sweet spot indicator is a welcome addition, as the un-stepped pots (that the D3s have) always leave me second guessing if my settings are exactly correct, and whether by placebo or not, I’m usually unable to focus.

Maybe it’s my curiosity at the Kevlar woofers, but the mids feel very articulate and much more detailed than similarly priced speakers, and even monitors beyond this price point. I was able to hear clearly, and felt like my critical decision making was founded on a clear picture. What’s more, my little mix test translated great into my car. 

Overall, the BX8 D3 are a great set of monitors for those looking to get into more detailed and accurate listening, and may be looking to upgrade from a smaller or less professional set-up. M-Audio produce reasonably priced products for entry level to intermediate level users, but the BX8 D3 feel like something more. 

They’re fairly simple when you look at them, but offer everything you may need to get yourself into a good listening position to begin shaping and sculpting sound confidently. I found myself trusting them quite quickly, and the proof is in the pudding, if it translates in a car, you’re pretty close to done. 

The cabinets feature forward thinking and practical design, modern ingredients and a classy, inconspicuous aesthetic as to not distract from the ingenious power LED to alert you when you may not be listening to the most accurate sound possible.

M-Audio is a brand to be trusted, and so are their monitors. The BX8 D3s are no exception. 

For specs and more details, check out M-Audio’s website. Get in touch with Electric Factory for all questions regarding local availability. 

Review: Zoom PodTrak P4 and P8

Podcasting has come a long way in recent years and nowhere is this more evident than in the plethora of high quality podcast specific microphones and mixer/interface/recorders hitting the market of late.

Gone are the days when podcasters had to make do with equipment primarily designed for music: the modern podcasting production suite is well and truly its own thing, having more in common with small-scale broadcast than it ever did the art of music making, and the medium is all the better for it.

Explore all the latest microphone, mixer and headphone reviews here.

Long heralded as the number one choice for field recording, video work and the like, Zoom was well ahead of the curve with this gradual shift towards podcast specific hardware.

The release of their extremely powerful crossover music/content suite, the LiveTrak L8, was testament to this, showing off the brands capabilities in the podcasting space and becoming a favourite among podcasters the world over, but this was only a sign of what was to come.

For many, the new PodTrak P4 and P8 are the realisation of what Zoom had hinted at with the LiveTrak L8’s podcasting abilities – a versatile, flexible multimedia device designed specifically with podcasting in mind.

All the features we’ve become accustomed to are here with these portable devices, showcasing low noise, high gain inputs and multitrack recording as well as a host of other key features that are sure to pique the interest of anybody dipping in a toe into the rapidly growing medium.

Both the P4 and P8 feature 70dB worth of gain on each mic input, and all channels have access to phantom power. This means you can use basically any mic you’d like, including demanding low output mics such as the SM7B, with ease.

The P4 has four mic inputs and the P8 has eight, and there’s headphone jacks with dedicated level controls for every mic input, ensuring that everyone’s mix matches the impedance level of their headphones.

Unique to this device is USB and TRRS connections, allowing you to connect an external call via your phone or computer for remote participation in your podcast. There is support on both recorders to use Zoom’s BTA-2, to connect your phone via Bluetooth.

It’s worth noting that recording through these two connections on the P4 will take up a channel in place of the mic inputs, whereas the P8 has dedicated channels for these. On all external phone calls, there’s also a mix-minus option to prevent feedback impacting your guests and your recording.

Controlling inputs on the P4 is done via the trim controls for each channel and low-cut and limiter switches are within the menu. The P8 has added functionality with the trim controls accessed via the touchscreen along with the low-cut filter, a combination compressor/de-esser and tone control which either accentuates or dulls the highs and lows in opposition from each other.

Along with these features, the P8 also has eight faders for mixing your podcast in real time. This is also possible on the P4 by adjusting the trim knobs live, but its compact design accommodates for more of a set and forget mindset.

Speaking of live mixing, muting and unmuting panelists is easy with devoted buttons for each channel. The P8 additionally has ON AIR buttons which when deactivated mean that the audio is not recorded or outputted to your stream but still comes through in the headphone mixes.

This is useful for getting mic levels right without your audience hearing ‘one, two, one, two’ repetitively and not outputting unrelated chatter during pre-recorded content.

Both units feature multitrack recording which is a huge win at this price point and the P8 allows you to edit on the device via the touchscreen.

Features such as fades, trim, normalisation of volume and the ability to add background music will surely be enough for anyone using this device as intended as a podcasting hub. All your recordings will be saved to an SD card and both units support up to 512GB card size and can be accessed directly from the USB port.

Using the customisable pads on both units, you can channel your inner shock jock. Pre-load via USB and trigger sound effects, background music or even a previously recorded interview straight from the device and adjust the volume of all the sounds at once with the provided knob.

In line with Zoom’s all terrain approach to audio, all of these fantastic elements can be enjoyed without a wall outlet or wired power supply. Both units can be used with AA batteries or external usb power packs, and if you’e recording for long periods of time, these PodTraks will switch from USB power to battery power without skipping a beat – neat.

But hold on Dr. Podcast: maybe you’d like to use this device to record things directly to your DAW, seeing as your computer is right there in front of you?

Well my friend, the good news is you can do that also. The P4 also acts as a 2I/2O interface while the P8 boasts a sizeable 13in/2out which will be more than enough for most users. iOS class compliance comes standard and means a seamless plug and play experience for all Apple devices.

All in all, both of these PodTrak units from Zoom are incredibly powerful and affordable options for podcasters in all levels of professionalism. The P4 is better suited for small scale operations where portability is key while the P8 shines with its level of flexibility and onboard editing capabilities.

Find out more about both units via Zoom’s product page. For domestic enquiries, get in touch with Dynamic Music.

What Prince’s struggles against the music industry can teach artists today

Today marks five years since the death of Prince, an artist renowned for his sheer talent as a multi-instrumentalist and uncanny creative vision.

Not only was his music iconic with hits like ‘Purple Rain’, ‘1999’, ‘Raspberry Beret’ and ‘When Doves Cry’,  but he was infamously regarded for his contentious relationship with the music industry. He wanted control over his music and would go to drastic ends to achieve this for himself, giving hope for other artists.

Read all the latest features, columns and interviews here.

Prince was 18 when he signed his first contract with Warner Bros Records. From there, his debut album released in 1978, which he produced and played every instrument on. Being so young, he did everything (bar engineering) on his own terms and with his sixth studio album, he got his first number one with Purple Rain. 

Given the huge success he was having, Warner extended the contract, which Prince signed a six-album contract worth $100 million, at the time being the largest recording contract for a solo artist. But the extended contract allowed Warner to take ownership of his work and transfer all his music under Warner Brothers.

In 1993, almost ten years since Purple Rain, Prince set up his own label Paisley Park Records, partly funded by Warner who handled its distribution for future records, the first being the seventh album, Around the World in a Day.

Prince realised the deal with Warner wasn’t working out and he wanted out of the contract, but Warner Bros. wasn’t going to budge to let him free. This is still a common occurrence with artists today, however contract deals are stricter and don’t allow artists to be vocal with similar situations. 

Prince went ahead and completed the six-album contract deal, by quickly producing albums to fulfil the numbers. “They are what they are, and I am what I am and eventually I realised that those two systems aren’t going to work together. The Deeper you get into that well, the darker it becomes”, he said.

He changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph which the public called him “symbol” and “Artist Formerly Known as Prince”, shortened to “Artist”, as a way to move away from Warner.

“The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipating from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name” he said in a press release. 

The name his mother gave him, but “Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince … I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.” 

Being aware his name was a brand and changing his name could affect sales, he knew when going on stage the name didn’t matter.

Showing artists now to be aware their name can become a brand if a label takes control and use the name/brand to promote and make merchandise.

Though becoming a brand isn’t entirely a bad thing for an artist seeking commercial success, it gives those artists a heads up of what could come if they don’t want to become a brand and feel as if their name no longer belongs to them. 

Prince felt his name no longer belonged to him, it belonged to the label instead, and he’d do everything in his power to gain the rights back to something that was inherently his from birth.

Warner ended its distribution deal with Prince’s label Paisley Park Records which he launched another label ‘NPG Records’. His aim was to take control of his work which is why he started a new label. He had a new deal with EMI Records, allowing him to put out an album when he was ready, instead of the demands of other labels. 

In 1996, he told The New York Times that “music doesn’t come on a schedule … The main idea is not supposed to be, ‘How many different ways can we sell it?’ That’s so far away from the true spirit of what music is.” 

Around this time, Prince moved around between different major labels, releasing albums through NPG with other labels including Columbia, Universal Music Group, Arista and going back to Warner. Prince gives hope to artists they don’t need to be restricted to one label.

Prince accused Warner of treating him like a slave, so he went out in public with “slave” written on his face. He had done this in a video for ‘Dolphin’, a few live shows and for the 1995 BRIT Awards. Making a point to the public about how he felt he was a slave, saying the industry was slavery. 

One particularly famous quote he told Rolling Stone in 1996 was that “If I can’t do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. That’s where I was. I don’t own Prince’s music. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”

Prince tried to buy his masters back from Warner after signing the extended contract deal in 1992, but they wouldn’t allow him to, leading him to say he would re-record all his music to gain back his own work. 

Giving the public two catalogues to pick from, saying his (the re-records) will be better, people could “either give your money to WB [Warner Bros.], the big company, or to NPG. You choose”, he said.

When streaming started, Prince blocked the use of his music going on YouTube and any major sites in 2007. Three years later after the release of ‘20Ten’ on CD for free with exclusive European newspapers and magazines, “The internet is completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it … They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you” he said. 

In 2015, he clarified his “the internet is completely over” comment, saying that the internet was over for those who want to get paid respectably.

 

“Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?” He had his music on and off streaming servers, but Tidal remained the one to keep his music. Some of his newer releases were exclusive on different platforms on release day.

Prince wasn’t entirely wrong – in fact, he wasn’t wrong at all. Artists now struggle to get paid decently on streaming services, unable for them to rely on the platforms exclusively. None of them are getting rich off digital sales or streams. They rely on tours, physical purchases of albums and more to be stable as an artist.

Prince’s struggle with the industry through his years can teach the artists today to be careful of contract deals and major record labels. He once said, “record contracts are just like – I’m gonna say the word – slavery. I would tell any young artist … don’t sign.” 

Even with major artists of the newer generation struggling with the music industry, the latest big battle with Taylor Swift and her previous record label, it’s still an ongoing issue within the industry today.

Find out more about Taylor Swift’s battle agains the music industry here.

A Tale of Two Guitars: The Story of Prince’s Cloud and Purple Special Guitars

It’s been more than four years since the world lost Prince and still there are many aspects of this legendary artist that remain timeless.

Not only is the ongoing popularity and relevance of his music a testament to his legacy, but also his innovation, creativity, and the incredible feat of being synonymous with the colour purple.

Read all the latest features, columns and interviews online here.

As such an accomplished musician it’s no wonder one of the most iconic items we associate with Prince is the Cloud guitar used in his 1984 film Purple Rain.

The Cloud guitar was manufactured specifically for Purple Rain by luthier Dave Rusan, who was based in Minneapolis at the time. Rusan was working at Knut-Koupée Music, a store owned by local guitarist Jeff Hill, when he was asked to create the iconic guitar.

“He [Prince] and Jeff went into the back office and they talked a long time, and then Jeff came down and told me, ‘Prince is going to make a movie. He needs a guitar, and you’re going to make it,’” said Rusan in an interview with Premier Guitar. “And I was like, wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

Prince requested the guitar be designed with inspiration from the bass owned by his childhood friend and former bass player, André Cymone. Cymone can be seen playing the original bass in the clip for ‘Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad’. However, aside from this information, Rusan didn’t receive a great deal of guidance from the famously shy Prince when creating the guitar.

“His main requirements were just that the guitar should be in that shape [of the bass], and it had to be white, and it had to have gold hardware,” said Rusan. “I think he specified he wanted EMG pickups, but compared to all the conversations you would have with somebody about a custom guitar, there wasn’t anything else he wanted to talk about.”

As far as specifications go, the Cloud guitar was made with hard rock maple, a neck-through-body with 22 frets, and EMG pickups (as requested). It also featured “[a] single-coil in the neck, [which] is the SA Stratocaster model, and the one on the bridge [which] is a model 81 humbucker like you’d put in a Les Paul”.

Rusan worked on the guitar for 50–60 hours per week to complete it in time for Purple Rain and Prince was so pleased with the result that he requested two more.

The Cloud guitar, thought to have got its name from the cover art for Prince and the Revolution’s Around the World in a Day, remains an iconic instrument to this day, with the original now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC.

“Some years later he had others made by different people,” said Rusan to Alternative Nation. “All the ones you would see in concert, those would be the originals I made that were repainted – pink, yellow, black, blue. He would always throw them to the roadie at the end of show and they weren’t always caught so they’d have to be repaired often. They were hard rock maple, but couldn’t always stand up to that.”

Prince had several other Cloud guitars commissioned over the years, including from Schecter Guitars, who also produced a limited run to be sold to the public during the artist’s ‘Hit and Run’ tour of 2014-15.

However, Prince’s final guitar never had the chance to reach the same status. Created by Simon Farmer of the UK store Gus Guitars in 2007, the Purple Special is quintessentially Prince; however, the artist didn’t even see the instrument until February of 2016 when Farmer received a message from Prince’s former drummer Kirk Johnson.

“I thought it was a bit of a hoax,” said Farmer in an interview with Vanity Fair. “But then after a few correspondences, I realised this was the real thing, the moment I had been waiting for [for] nearly a decade.”

Clearly pleased with the final product, Prince sent out a tweet inviting fans to a gathering at Paisley Park mere days before his death, during which he showed off the Purple Special to the gathered crowd. A fan captured the moment in a photograph included below.

Prince was a fan of the Purple Special, so much so that he asked Farmer to design him another instrument.

“Prince wanted me to build a black-and-gold bass guitar for him,” said Farmer. “The Gus G3 Prince bass has been designed to be as compact and lightweight as possible, making it very easy and comfortable to play … But to make the bass truly his, I also planned some Prince-like additions, including purple fibre-optic position markers along the fingerboard that would glow at the flick of a switch.”

Sadly, Prince passed away before the bass was finished. Farmer’s Purple Special guitar is reportedly the last guitar Prince owned. Perhaps one day, the Purple Special’s story will become more widespread and the guitar will gain a similar legend status to that of the Cloud. Whatever the case, both instruments are a true testament to Prince and, according to Rusan in an interview with Alternative Nation, an integral part of his talent.

“Certainly, Prince’s talent and drive were the biggest contributors to his success, but the guitar was a huge part as well. The guitar is something that becomes very personal. It’s the thing you are playing to affect people’s emotions. It’s not like just having a nice suit on. It’s creating a sound that affects people. It’s very powerful.”

Revisit our conversation with Prince’s studio engineer during the ’80s, Peggy McCreary, for the release of Originals. 

Gear Rundown: Prince’s Purple Rain

No one will ever match the legacy of Prince.

Upon news of the artist’s untimely death in 2016, legions of fans re-sparked an interest in the plethora of music left behind by the virtuosic musician, with significant attention being directed towards his 1984 magnum opus Purple Rain.

Read all the latest features, columns and interviews online here.

Regarded as one of the finest albums – if not the finest album – of the ’80s, the LP pays testament to Prince’s talents as a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer, with hit like ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Purple Rain’ highlighting the wunderkind musician as one of the finest of his era.

In this week’s Gear Rundown, we take a look at the assortment of gear used by Prince and The Revolution on his landmark 1984 LP – let’s go crazy!

Guitars

‘The Cloud’ Guitar

Prince certainly had a penchant for weird guitars, and while this one isn’t his whackiest, it’s certainly his most iconic.

Now stored in the Smithsonian, ‘The Cloud’ was designed by Knut Koupee luthier Dave Rusan after Prince requested a unique looking guitar for the film, with the incredibly hefty instrument featuring specs such as active EMG pickups, gold Schaller hardware, and an all-white finish.

Although it was intended to be used solely for the film, Prince loved ‘The Cloud’ so much that he toured with the guitar and requested further copies be made for his own collection – which was probably a good idea, seeing as he smashed the original at his last gig with The Revolution in 1986.

Hohner Mad Cat Telecaster

One of Prince’s main instruments throughout his whole career, this rare Japanese Hohner Telecaster was picked out by The Purple One some time in the early ’80s before the corporation was served with a cease and desist by Fender (for obvious reasons).

By that time, Prince had acquired several models, with the hot single-coil pickups proving to be a core aspect of his funky clean sound heard across the album.

Rickenbacker 330

Acting as the rhythm guitarist for Prince on Purple Rain, Wendy Melvoin played a modified Rickenbacker 330 throughout her tenure with Prince and The Revolution.

Extensively modified with G&L pickups for increased sustain and featuring blocked soundholes to reduce feedback from playing huge stadiums, Melvoin played the custom purple Ric on six tracks across Purple Rain, including ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and the title track.

Bass Guitars

Fender Jazz Bass

While some of the bass parts across Purple Rain were played by Revolution bassist Brownmark, Prince played many of the bass tracks himself, using a Fender Jazz Bass which was also played by him and Brownmark live.

While the exact specs of his main bass are uncertain, Brownmark’s main Revolution bass looks to be a ’70s model with a maple fretboard and block inlays, and, of course, was painted purple.

Amplifiers

Mesa/Boogie Mk II Coliseum 

An absolutely huge guitar amp with a crazy 180 watts of headroom, Prince owned three Mesa Mark IIC+ heads around the recording of Purple Rain, and the amp was seen in his touring rig up until the 1999 Tour.

Apparently, one of the heads somehow ended up in a music shop in Minneapolis, where it was purchased by an unsuspecting fan who later discovered it was Prince’s backup head – not bad for a cheeky second-hand purchase.

Mesa/Boogie Strategy 500 Power Amp

Prince was also a huge fan of using power amps to achieve a heavy, saturated lead tone, with various sources claiming he used a Mesa Strategy 500 to push his amps to the absolute limit on Purple Rain. 

For cabinets, Prince typically paired his Mesa heads with either Mesa Recto 4×12’s or slanted Marshall 4×12 speaker enclosures.

Effects

It’s no secret that Prince had a penchant for the humble BOSS box, and Purple Rain holds true to this testament.

Throughout the album, you can hear classic tones from the likes of the DS-1 Distortion, BF-2 Flanger, OC-2 O Octave, DD-3 Digital Delay and the incredibly rare VB-2 Vibrato for chorus tones, as well as the classic Dunlop Crybaby wah-wah for all those electro-funk freak-outs.

Keyboards

Oberheim OB-Xa

Regarded as an OG synth of the 1980s, Prince notably used the Oberheim OB-Xa on all of his classic ’80s albums, including Dirty Mind, Controversy, and of course, the title track for 1999.

 You can hear the OB-Xa during the Church Organ intro to ‘Let’s Go Crazy’.

Yamaha DX-7

If there’s one synthesiser that defined the sound of the ’80s, it’s the Yamaha DX-7.

A landmark in the world of synthesis due to its claim of being one of the first ever digital synths on the market, Prince was an early adoptee of the DX-7, and its funky tones can be heard prominently across Purple Rain – a perfect example of which being on ‘When Doves Cry’.

Read what it was like to work with Prince in the studio through our interview with Peggy McCreary here.

 

Engineering Prince: A dive into the archives with Peggy McCreary

“Hollywood Sound called us and said, ‘Do you have an engineer and a studio available for the weekend?” recalls Peggy ‘Mac’ McCreary of the moment in 1981 that led to her becoming one of, if not the main, recording engineers to work with Prince during his imperial ‘80s era.

Read all the latest features, columns and interviews online here.

The artist was in the final week of recording his third album, Controversy, when some faulty equipment necessitated the move to Sunset Sound, the Hollywood studio where McCreary had been working as an engineer since the late ‘70s.

“The receptionist was really worried about me working with him because he wrote such dirty songs, so my impression of who was going to walk into the studio and who actually did was totally different. He was very polite and quiet and well mannered,” she remembers.

“A couple of times he just mumbled what he needed, and I got in his face and said ‘You gotta talk to me so I can hear you’. I thought ‘I’ll never see this guy again’, and then he requested me for 1999.

“I didn’t really understand him, because he wasn’t like anybody I’d ever worked with. [Then] he sent for me to see him on the road as a Christmas present, to come see him on tour for 1999, and I got it. I got who he was when I saw him perform.”

The timing could not have been more fortuitous, for Prince was reaching a creative peak, operating at an extraordinarily high rate in terms of both quality and quantity – a balance that he would spend the rest of his career attempting to strike once more.

From 1981-1987 he seemed like a poet scrambling for a pen at the moment of inspiration, often frustrated at the time it took to physically transform an idea into recorded sound. Probably because it was fastest way to do it, and definitely because he thought he was the best man for the job, Prince preferred to track his music alone, layering each instrument as a one man band.

The one thing he did need, however, was a recording engineer, and with Studio 3 at Sunset Sound becoming his main recording studio until Paisley Park was built in 1987, this meant that McCreary was often the only other person working on the sessions from this important period.

“I’m sure he would have preferred just to be alone, but he did need you to help him,” says McCreary. “Sometimes he would be struggling with something and say ‘Get a sound on that’ and leave the room, and I would get a balance, EQ something, or patch in some outboard gear.

“He’d need that bounce off of somebody technically, but I think he would have preferred to do everything by himself, but there wasn’t enough room in his brain to bother with technology. I think he didn’t want to master that.”

With too much music being created for a single project, Prince created different avenues for his music as a way to avoid confusing his audience or hurting his chances of becoming, and then remaining, a major pop star, many of which were Prince albums in all but name, with his vocals simply being replaced by the artist whose song it would become.

“We did 1999 together, just the two of us, and then we did The Time and Vanity 6, and then he left again and came back for another Time record and Apollonia 6, and then we started working on Purple Rain, which became huge,” says McCreary.

“Not until somebody else came in to sing on it did you realise that it wasn’t gonna be for him. People ask me ‘Did you know what you were working on?’ it’s like, ‘No’.

“You didn’t get into his head and figure out what he was doing or ask him questions. It’s not like he even came in and said good morning or goodbye; you did what needed to be done and there wasn’t a lot of chitchat.

“Usually he would come in and start a song and we would finish it in one day, and he was the musician. Sometimes he would write the song in the studio, sometimes he came in with lyric sheets, sometimes he would start on the drums, sometimes he would start on a drum machine, and we rarely revisited a song.

“Sometimes we would carry it over, like ‘When Doves Cry’, was a two-day kind of song, but usually it was start-to-finish and they were some long days. I worked 24 hours straight with him one time.

“There were times that I would get tired and he could see it. After 15-20 hours you kind of lose focus, and I would set him up in the studio with a mic over the console, I would pull the monitors down and he would sit in there and sing and I could get a break.

“I was on a panel with a bunch of the later engineers and they all looked down and said ‘Oh my god that was you! Thank you so much, that was the only time we got a break.’”

While Prince would reclaim many of his dispersed creations in concert — especially, as with ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, when they had become a hit in other hands — the original vocal versions of many of the non-Prince Prince songs have circulated for years as low quality bootlegs.

Before the internet made everything accessible, those dubiously compiled cassettes and burnt CDs represented holy grails for hard-core fans, a peek into the real and imagined riches of Prince’s vault, the place where all recordings were stored.

Obviously, and sadly, now there can be no new Prince music, and instead the vault must be the source of any future releases.

Originals is a compilation that brings together 15 such tracks, taken primarily from the frenetic period of 1982-85. Many were slated on various projects at different times – for example ‘The Glamorous Life’, recorded in December 1983, was considered for albums by Apollonia 6 and Jill Jones, but ultimately became the title track of Sheila E.’s debut album the following year, while ‘Manic Monday’ was also intended for the Apollonia album before being given to The Bangles, whose re-recorded version reached #2 on the charts in 1985, beaten only by Prince’s ‘Kiss’.

The longest gestating cut on Originals, ‘Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?’, was originally demoed in 1976, before being re-recorded in 1978, 1982 and 1986, the latter version of which was submitted for inclusion on Michael Jackson’s Bad, before finding a home on Taja Sevell’s 1987 self-titled debut.

“It brings you back, like, ‘I remember that day,’” says McCreary on hearing the demos again. “The guide vocal they sang to, and sometimes he mixed it in underneath. He had such a beautiful voice, and such an amazing range; it was tough to match that.

“I always figured I’d be on stuff for decades, because we did so much that never came out. He was driven to get it out, all the music, and get it down. He once told me he only went home because he knew I had to sleep.

“[Then] I would come in after months of working with him, drag myself in with my dirty clothes and they’d say ‘Pack it up, he’s gone’. Literally one day he was there and the next day he was back in Minneapolis, so you just never really knew. It was whatever moved him at the time he just went with. That’s kind of what it was like working with him.”

Originals by Prince is out now via Warner Music Australia

Mixdown’s top jobs in the Australian music industry (this week)

Whether you’re looking for a casual job to keep the lights on between gigs or you’re on the hunt for a major career change, the music industry’s a tough place to crack into.

To help out, we’ve sifted through Seek and leeched LinkedIn to compile all the best music jobs going in Australia this week, with our latest wrap-up spotlighting jobs from The Orchard, Native Tongue Publishing, The Acoustic Centre, Yamaha Music Australia and the Victorian Music Development Office.

This week’s top jobs:

  • Licensing Manager – Native Tongue Music Publishing (Sydney / Melbourne)
  • Label Manager – The Orchard (Sydney)
  • Guitar Technician – The Acoustic Centre (Melbourne)
  • Guitar Sales Assistant – The Acoustic Centre (Melbourne)
  • Music Products, Marketing Coordinator – Yamaha Music Australia (Melbourne)
  • Communications & Office Coordinator – Victorian Music Development Office (Melbourne)

To discover more job opportunities and industry headlines, head across to Industry News.

Licensing Manager – Native Tongue Music Publishing (Sydney / Melbourne)

One of Australia’s most respected and busiest song publishing entities, Native Tongue Music Publishing are on the hunt to hire a guru to handle their licensing endeavours. Based in either Sydney or Melbourne, this gig will see a lucky candidate work alongside the country’s best music licensing team to secure synch placement for film, television, radio and gaming.

Skills / Experience Required: 

  • A genuine love of music and a vast knowledge of music across genres & eras along with an understanding of current trends & dynamics in music licensing
  • 3+ years’ experience pitching, quoting, negotiating and contracting music synchronisation rights
  • Established relationships with the synchronisation licensing/creative community
  • A proven track record generating creative opportunities & securing business from leads
  • Great interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate calmly and respectfully when under pressure
  • Excellent organisational & time management skills with the ability to meet deadlines/enquiries in a fast paced environment
  • An effective team player with the ability to mentor and guide less experienced staff
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Positive, flexible attitude with the ability to find creative solutions to problems
  • Work with a high level of integrity and experience handling confidential information

Tasks / Responsibilities Include:

  • Generate revenue by successfully placing Native Tongue songs in film, television, advertising, video games and other media projects
  • Establish, maintain and grow effective relationships with key industry creative contacts including music supervisors, licensing staff, television networks, editors, advertising agency & other media creatives
  • Effectively quote, negotiate and secure licensing rights with professionalism and attention to detail, meeting the needs of both licensors and rights holders
  • Respectfully manage all approvals with rights holders inclusive of Native Tongue’s international catalogue clients and our direct roster of songwriters
  • Prepare licensing contracts with careful regard to approved terms in accordance with Native Tongue’s contracting specifications
  • Anticipate and understand music requirements of productions, brands, editors and other creatives ahead of the competition
  • Communicate sync market trends, opportunities and risks in relation to Native Tongue catalogue to senior management
  • Collaborate with team members, and international partners to maximize opportunities for Native Tongue songs in the worldwide market
  • Effectively work with licensing team to organise and manage prospects, pitches & open quotes through to licensing, and payment

To apply, email your CV and a cover letter to employment@nativetongue.com.au by 5pm Sunday May 2.

Label Manager – The Orchard (Sydney)

A leading name in music distribution within the Australian market, The Orchard has an immediate opening for an experienced Label Manager to join their Sydney team.

Skills / Experience Required: 

  • Minimum 3 years relevant experience in a music distributor, label or management environment
  • A strong understanding of digital distribution, metadata requirements and digital marketing
  • Highly experienced in the creation and distribution life cycle of physical releases and associated deadlines from production through release date
  • Established relationships with a variety of publicists, press and radio companies
  • Highly advanced organizational skills with the ability to multitask and prioritise to tight deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to speak effectively across all levels of business and the capacity to identify key relationships and develop them accordingly
  • A willingness to approach new areas of business, with a positive and considered attitude
  • Awareness of changes and developments in the industry, with particular emphasis on competitor activity
  • Strong industry network and relationships within the independent label space
  • Fluent in English, additional languages desirable but not essential
  • Able to travel as required

Tasks / Responsibilities Include: 

  • Be the first point of contact and maintain day-to-day relationships for a portfolio of clients
  • Liaise with internal departments, from operations, product, sales and marketing to finance, legal and management to ensure all clients’ business needs are satisfied
  • Oversee scheduling of releases, ensuring deadlines are met and all represented sales and marketing needs are managed across digital and physical in the UK and abroad
  • Manage physical product logistics, ensuring all stock requirements and deadlines are met
  • Proof digital metadata using Orchard technology systems to ensure all releases are delivered to required specifications and in a timely manner
  • Strategize and manage priority release campaign logistics from inception through to analysis, working with other internal departments, including retail marketing, digital marketing and advertising and any external partners including press, radio and marketing agencies
  • Supply Sales departments with all materials necessary for selling releases into retail with maximum impact
  • Consistently inform and educate labels with current and developing best practice across all business areas. Develop knowledge and relationships across the industry
  • Drive product adoption of The Orchard’s tools and services across client base
  • Represent The Orchard at events and conferences as required

Head across to LinkedIn for a full job description and prompts on how to apply. 

Guitar Technician – The Acoustic Centre (Melbourne)

Melbourne’s leading acoustic instrument retail outlet The Acoustic Centre is on a hiring spree! Firstly, they’re looking to recruit a seasoned guitar tech to assist in the set up, repair and maintenance of warehouse inventory.

To succeed in this role, you’ll need a meticulous eye for detail and previous experience in setting up and repairing acoustic instruments, as well as a general understanding of retail and customer service.

Is this the one for you? Find out more here.

Guitar Sales Assistant – The Acoustic Centre (Melbourne)

Additionally, Acoustic Centre are also looking for a guitar-savvy retail genius to join their ranks as a Sales Assistant in South Melbourne.

On top of possessing standard retail nous, you’ll need an expert knowledge of acoustic guitars and related instruments, as well as a familiarity with digital marketing and social media, stock maintenance, following-up leads and liaising with distributors and exporters.

Head to Seek to find out more and apply with your resumé and cover letter. 

Music Products, Marketing Coordinator – Yamaha Music Australia (Melbourne)

Yamaha Music Australia are on the look out for a cunning Marketing Coordinator with a speciality in Music Products to join their South Melbourne offices. This role will see a lucky candidate support the marketing team via asset creation and maintenance, promotional campaigns, artist relations and more.

Skills / Experience Required: 

  • Organised and driven
  • Energetic and creative
  • A dedicated marketing professional – hungry for knowledge and results
  • A musician or music lover
  • A great communicator – visually, verbally and in writing
  • Capable of working independently while maintaining comprehensive documentation of your work
  • Highly computer literate including a detailed understanding of the Microsoft Office suite
  • Experience working with ERP and CRM systems advantageous

Tasks / Responsibilities Include: 

  • Work with various teams across the Music Products Division to create and deliver strategic marketing plans
  • Develop, improve and maintain a suite of promotional tools and assets for use in consumer campaigns
  • Create world class video and streaming content with our in-house content producer and product specialists
  • Develop concepts, scripts and production plans, help execute the filming and production of video and streaming content
  • Help create, collate, proof and edit copy for the many and varied tools used to promote YMA’s products to the market
  • Create editorial and social media content
  • POS and merchandise development and distribution
  • Event planning and management
  • Analyse and report on effectiveness and ROI of activities across the entire marketing function

Find out more and apply via Seek. 

Communications & Office Coordinator – Victorian Music Development Office (Melbourne)

VMDO are looking to recruit a Communications & Office Coordinator to assist in day-to-day operations at their headquarters in the newly opened Collingwood Yards. This role will see you work alongside Music Victoria, Music Market and VMDO to help run venues and deliver communications pertaining to all related endeavours.

Skills / Experience Required: 

  • Two or more years administering either an office or performance venue for hire
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills including experience writing for various formats including electronic communications, copywriting for social media platforms, newsletters and websites or report writing
  • Experience in a public facing role including engagement with people from various communities and diverse backgrounds
  • Experience managing multiple projects, often with competing priorities, being well organised, having strong attention to detail and familiar and comfortable with developing and implementing systems and processes
  • Experience working with databases, mail delivery software and filing system such as Dropbox
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively in a team as well as on a self-directed basis

Tasks / Responsibilities Include: 

  • Manage the upkeep of the VMDO and Music Market website and posting content such as new items, events, projects, resources and other sections
  • Draft regular VMDO and Music Market newsletters, including copywriting, input into content selection and Mailchimp layout
  • Upkeep VMDO and Music Market stakeholder database through Nimble and Mailchimp (or other systems as advised), including segmentation into projects and locations when required
  • Maintain VMDO and Music Market social media content including planning and scheduling, across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other accounts.
  • Ensure all social media posts are in line with VMDO and Music Market social media strategies
  • General copywriting for VMDO and Music Market communication channels
  • Execute basic marketing plans for VMDO and Music Market programs and events, including digital marketing ads, radio and print
  • Manage booking enquiries for the Music Market co-working, business and event spaces
  • Oversee and maintain the booking system for the Music Market co-working, business and event spaces, including worksheets and agreements
  • Oversee the day-to-day management of the VMDO and Music Market offices, ensuring that general office organisation is constantly maintained

For a full job description, head here. Apply via the VMDO website today.

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Two new streaming services arrive in Australia + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

Been out of the loop with everything that’s been going on in the music industry recently? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wrap-up of all the biggest Aussie music industry news stories from the past fortnight.

The big stories:

  • French and Chinese streaming services Qobuz and iQiyi are setting up a digital presence in the Australian market this year.
  • UNFD is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a range of special vinyl reissues and podcasts.
  • Commercial radio advertising revenue continues to retain grounds after the devastating impact of the pandemic last year.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines. 

Two More Streaming Services Arrive In Australia

With 12.7 million Australians using streaming music services by mid-2020 and Australia ranked #7 in video streaming penetration rate (after the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland), it’s no surprise that overseas services are elbowing each other to get into this country.

French hi-res music streamer Qobuz has gone live, just as Australians are realising streamed audio files are squished down and they’d prefer to hear the 70 million tracks offered the way they first sounded in the recording studio.

Spotify has signalled plans for Spotify HiFi later this year.

China’s video streaming iQiyi will set up a local office in May with own marketing, promo and business development staff under former Sony Music digital exec Gavin Parry as CEO and Greg Tremain as head of business development.

iQiyi set up in 2010 and is one of the largest online video sites in the world with 500 million monthly active users (MAUs) who consume 6 billion hours of content each month. It recently moved into North America and SE Asia.

UNFD Continues 10th Anniversary Celebrations With Podcast, Vinyl Reissues

Melbourne based global company UNFD, part of the Unified Music Group, continues its 10th anniversary celebrations with a new podcast Listen Now and the re-release of ten titles in eco-friendly vinyl.

The vinyl reissues are made using recycled materials with no plastic shrink wrap, while the pressing process itself was carbon offset. The podcast, hosted by The Faction/ex-Triple M’s David Nash, focuses on deep diving into the artists, story and legacy behind each of the ten albums.

The first podcast, which went live yesterday, features UNFD general manager Luke Logemann on the evolution of the label and the first albums to be re-pressed – In Hearts Wake’s Earthwalker / Skydancer, recorded together and released 12 months apart in 2014/15.

32 Nabbed For Speedy Stuff At Yours and Owls

Music events that are returning are finding greater patron interest in reliving the experience. What attendees are also reminded are the not-so-great stuff – like enough scowling blueys to make one think it was the secret policeman’s ball.

At the first major NSW music festival in 12 months, Yours and Owls in Wollongong (April 17 & 18) before a 14,000 covid-capped crowd, there were seven police divisions on hand. NSW Police reported 32 were done for drug possession (crank, MDMA, LSD, weed, cocaine). Four people were refused entry, seven booted out and three charged with ‘fail to quit’ offences.

Commercial Radio Ad Revenue Lurches Forward

The slow return of the national economy was demonstrated in commercial radio ad revenue in the March quarter of 2021. Metropolitan ad revenue reached $153.4 million as small business advertisers returned. But figures were still down on the March quarter of 2020 before the coronavirus really made things shambolic.

Figures from Deloitte showed the largest metro market, Victoria, dipped slightly (0.12%) to $52.1 million. Second largest market NSW dropped 5.06% to $44.9 million, Qld down 9.10% to $23 million, WA down to 0.34% to $19.7 million and SA fell 7.87% to $13.5 million.

Sealed With A Quiz: Strong Return For Spicks And Specks

The ABC’s Spicks And Specks showed a buoyant return on Sunday April 18, with 647,000 over metro viewers and was #2 entertainment program for the night. It couldn’t touch Married At First Sight with 1.398 million but poked the eye of Seven’s sweaty Dancing With The Stars, which roped in 621,000 overnight metro views.

$5M Boost For Regional Funding

The Federal government announced a one-off injection of $5 million into the Regional Performing Arts Touring program aka Playing Australia. The cash is for regional and remote touring projects and regional performing art centres around Australia who’d already received Playing Australia funding but disrupted by COVID-19.

GYROstream Offers Split Royalty Payments

With more artists writing and recording online with others in numerous other countries, Australia’s GYROstream has become one of the few distributors in the world to now offer account holders split royalty payments.

When a track is released, each collaborator can have their royalty share paid into a nominated bank account. GYROstream offers a payment history of these split royalties and a feature to update payment from that track.

TikTok Figures Revealed

TikTok tends to keep its figures close to its chest but these have leaked out after its US company began approaching potential advertisers.

According to Music Business Weekly, as of October 2020, the app had 732 million monthly active users (MAUs) around the world, and more than 100 million MAUs in the United States. It is expected that it’s by now crossed the 1 billion mark, or at least very close to doing so.

To put that into perspective: it’s double Spotify‘s global monthly active user base as of the end of 2020 (345 million), but less than half the 2 billion-plus MAUs YouTube has.

According to Tikkies’ own data, an average user opens the app no less than 19 times a day, and uses it 89 minutes per day.

Nearly half (42%) of all active users were aged between 18 and 24, 17% between 13—17, and just 7% were over the age of 45.

New Team For National Indigenous Music Awards

This year’s National Indigenous Music Awards, at Darwin Amphitheatre on August 7 and broadcast on SBS and online, has a new team.

Returning as creative director is performer and director Ben Graetz, a descendant of NT’s Iwaidja and Malak Malak clans and of Badu Island in the Torres Strait.

After eight years studying and working in Melbourne as creative director, writer and researcher, proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nina Fitzgerald returns to Darwin to take over as associate creative director.

NIMAs veteran Romana Paulson, a proud Bundjalung, Mununjali and Wiradjuri woman from Yugembah Country Australia stepping into the project manager role.

Last year’s virtual NIMAs was the biggest in the event’s history, reaching over 250,000 people with broadcasts across NITV, Double J, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Hitting The Boards At The QMAs 

Performing at this year’s sold out Queensland Music Awards (Wednesday May 5, Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane) will be Ball Park Music, Beddy Rays, Sycco, No Money Enterprise and Balkan-French MZAZA. All have nominations in any of the categories.

More Aussie Acts For Fender’s Next Class of 2021

More Aussie acts have been selected with 23 others around the world for Fender’s Next Class of 2021. It’s an artist development programme designed to elevate rising musicians pushing guitar forward in music and culture.

This time it’s Lime Cordiale and Stand Atlantic, both from Sydney, who like the others get guitars and amps, and a big worldwide promo push through Fender’s multi-channel platform including to 9 million social media followers.

Last year three Aussie acts were chosen: Skegss who debuted at #1 on the ARIA chart this month with Rehearsal, Eliza & The Delusionals and Running Touch.

Venues Update: Launches, Closures, Sales, Slips

The Sunshine Coast has a new live music venue, the Kings Beach Tavern on Burgess Street in Caloundra, after its owner Australian Venue Co extensively renovated it for an estimated $2 million. It will book major acts and DJs. A launch party is on April 23.

The Telegraph Hotel in Hobart, a haunt popular with college students, closes its doors on April 24 after its owners of 13 years opted not to extend the lease citing noise complaints, COVID restrictions and council changing its outdoor area.

The Hollywood Hotel on Foster Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, is up for sale. It follows the death at 89 of its founder, the feisty and memorable Doris Goddard, who in the late ‘70s returned from Hollywood where she was a cabaret singer and actress.

The WA government is about to renovate Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre to the tune of $15 million to restore it to its original glory.

A 32-year old tourist in Cairns received a free visit to a hospital. He was told by security at Gilligan’s Nightclub he couldn’t come in as he was drunk, so he swung up on a balcony to sneak in through the roof but, oof, fell down two storeys.

Catch up on last fortnight’s industry new wrap-up here.

Ernie Ball Music Man’s 2021 collection has officially landed

With the year now officially in full swing, Ernie Ball Music Man have unleashed their range of guitars and basses for 2021, shipping a wonderful assortment of instruments with new finishes and designs to stores around the globe.

Summary

  • Ernie Ball Music Man’s 2021 musical instrument range has received an official release today.
  • New finishes such as Powder Blue, Vintage Tobacco and Burnt Amber are being offered on StingRay and Cutlass guitars.
  • Meanwhile, the StingRay bass range has been fleshed out with eight new finishes, with the Bongo bass also receiving a fresh makeover for 2021.

Read all the latest in Product News here.

This year’s collection leads out with the razor-sharp Sabre, a fresh take on one of the SoCal instrument manufacturer’s oldest six-string models.

It’s adorned with a figured maple top over an okoume body, while a roasted maple neck and twin custom humbuckers with black finishings are also on offer. Check it out in the brand new Gator Burst finish at a store near you.

Also new for 2021 is the Cutlass RS, available in both HSS or SSS pickup variants. These models feature roasted and figured maple necks with alder bodies, as well as modern tremolo systems, five-way pickup selector switches and controls for master volume and tone.

These models are available in a choice of Powder Blue and Vintage Tobacco finishes, with a rosewood fretboard being assigned to the former and a roasted maple board affixed to the latter.

Similarly, the StingRay RS electric models have also received a slight makeover for 2021, sharing identical specs to the Cutlass RS models except for a top-horn toggle switch and two custom humbuckers found in the neck and bridge position.

Finish and fretboard options include Powder Blue with a rosewood fretboard, while players seeking a roasted maple fretboard can pick up a StingRay RS in the ’70s-inspired Burnt Amber finish.

Bassists will be delighted to discover that Ernie Ball’s new finishes also extend to both four and five-string StingRay basses in 2021, with a number of different colour schemes being available for varying single and double-humbucker models.

The 2021 single-pickup StingRays are complemented with Amethyst Sparkle, Snowy Night, Smoked Chrome and Burnt Ends finishes, while the 2021 HH models can be purchased in Black, Raspberry Burst, Speed Blue and Forest Green.

Meanwhile, the five-string models are available in Snowy White, Raspberry Burst, Smoked Chrome and Speed Blue finishes, with HH models being finished in Amethyst Sparkle, Burnt Ends, Black and Frost Green Pearl.

Finally, the Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo has also received a brand new finish in the form of Harvest Orange, which we recently reviewed in Mixdown Magazine #314 – read our thoughts on it here.

On top of revealing their new finishes for 2021, Ernie Ball Music Man are also gearing up to release a new take on their acclaimed St. Vincent Signature model.

Dubbed Goldie, the guitar boasts three gold-foil humbuckers and a reverse headstock, as well as a redesigned pickguard and a choice of either a rosewood or ebony fretboard.

In addition, Ernie Ball Music Man’s subsidiary brand Sterling are also looking down the barrel of a mammoth year, with 2021 bringing an affordable take on the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Mariposa signature guitar as well as updated John Petrucci, Jason Richards and Cutlass models.

Check out all the latest models at Ernie Ball Music Man, and contact CMC Music for local distribution enquiries. 

Arturia launch expansive Pigments 3 soft synth plug-in

Arturia have unleashed a sizeable update to their Pigments polychromatic soft synth, with version 3 bringing a swathe of new engines, filters and effects to the powerful suite.

Read up on all the latest Product News here.

One of the biggest updates to Pigments 3 is the introduction of a Harmonic Engine, bringing a detailed additive synthesis engine with up to 512 partials, dual formant filters and harmonic customisation to unlock a diverse array of electronic sounds.

The dual filters of the Harmonic Engine can be morphed from A to B for some colourful modulated sounds, with a variety of other ways to modulate partials also being included.

A new third Utility Engine is also added into the mix, letting you stack an extra sub-oscillator layer and two noise sample layers to create atmospheric sounds suitable for cinematic soundscapes and epic scores. Each of these layers possess their own filter routing options, and can be utilised to invoke sound effects such as vinyl crackle, wind, roaring white noise and more.

An additional 64 wavetables have also been included to bring the total up to 164, while a brand new Ramp waveform is introduced to the Virtual Analogue engine for more expansive pads and textures.

Fans of Arturia’s V4 soft synth suite will be gassed to see that the low-pass filter of the Jup-8 has been included in Pigments 3, while a smattering of new effects – namely a Pitch Delay, BL-20 Flanger, JUN-6 Chorus and a Multi-Band Compressor – have also been thrown in the mix.

Other new tweaks to Pigments 3 include new sound banks, celebrity presets and a range of in-app tutorials from Arturia’s designers, rounding out what looks to be a totally expansive update to one of the best sound design engines on the market today.

Head to Arturia to check out everything new to Pigments 3.

Review: Warm Audio WA-67 Tube Condenser Microphone

The famed German ’67 is considered by many to be one of the holy grails in the audio world: without a doubt, it’s a desert island tube condenser mic. Used by the likes of The Beatles, Nirvana and Frank Sinatra, it has truly etched its place into the recording industry as one of the most ubiquitous vocal microphones.

Explore all the latest microphone, monitoring and headphone reviews here.

Until recently, finding an original and functional ’67 would prove both difficult and expensive – originals known to sell upwards of $12,000 AUD and even then, there is all kinds of split opinion on reconditioned versus original factory parts, serviced versus non-serviced – the list goes on.

For those new to vintage microphones, the price-tag and specificity regarding what’s under the hood would almost be enough to put the 67 in the too-hard basket, were it not for one reason. These are renowned for being some of the best sounding microphones ever made with designs that are still at the top of their game, even some 60 years after the fact.

Enter Warm Audio and their WA-67 Tube Condenser Microphone: a rock solid, modern interpretation of the classic 67, with a price-tag that looks closer to a decent commuter bike than it does a HECS debt.

Warm Audio are a relatively new player in the space (celebrating their tenth year of operation in 2021), making their start like so many – in a garage. They first made waves in the pro-audio sector back in 2011 with their WA12 – an excellent and well received recreation of the API312 preamplifier circuit.

Since then, Warm Audio has expanded into all facets of the studio space, developing accurate recreations of a whole manner of highly sought-after vintage and contemporary microphones, preamps, compressors and even guitar pedals.

Warm’s mission is to bring the classics to the everyday musician and audio engineer, and it shows both in the quality of their wares and in the affordability of the price-tag.

Right from the get-go, it was clear that the WA-67 had little in common with any kind of ‘budget’ microphone I had ever encountered. Features like the heavily padded box, timber ‘coffin’ case, deluxe shock mount (with spare elastics), additional standard mount, power supply, IEC power cable and seven pin cable by Gotham were all a welcome sight, exuding the kind of top-shelf European construction so prevalent in those classic microphones.

The WA-67 boasts boutique and high quality components to deliver the instantly familiar ’67 tone, that broad spectrum capture with an iciness in the highs that we have come to associate with big budgets, big artists and the like.

The components themselves feel weighty and are of premium quality, and there is little question that Warm Audio have gone to great lengths recreating the discrete tube circuit path of the original ’67 in the WA-67.

To complement Warm’s brass custom K67-style capsule is the EF-86 Pentode vacuum tube and a high quality output transformer from industry heavyweights Lundall, while the circuit also features high quality capacitors from Wima and Solen.

This combination of discrete components faithfully recreates the crisp high frequencies and thick, buttery low / low-mid frequencies that the original ’67 is known for. The nickel-plated microphone chassis is slightly larger than the original, though features all of the appropriate functions: three polar pattern modes (Cardioid, Omni-Directional and Bi-Directional), switchable high-pass filter and -10dB attenuation pad.

For those fortunate enough to be familiar with vintage German microphones, they will be quick to note the inconsistencies from one microphone to the next, particularly for tube models like the original U67. As is the nature of vintage equipment, it is tremendously difficult to find two specimens that are identical.

Purists may argue that recreations of vintage equipment never meet the mark, but the reality is that due to component degradation, years of use/abuse and makeshift repairs, this gear deviates from its original specifications.

The WA-67 does not exhibit the bitey, harsh upper midrange characteristics that many other budget tube condensers tend to, maintaining a smooth and complimentary tonal response in most applications. 

While the exact essence of the original ’67 is hard to pinpoint, given the tonal variation from one unit to the next, what the WA-67 gets so right, is to scratch all the right itches in terms of the original’s strong suits and marrying them with all the benefit of hindsight, consistency of components and batch numbers that modernity affords us.

The draw-card of the original ’67 microphone is in its ability to make anything it’s pointed at feel larger than life with harmonically rich hyperrealism, and thankfully, the WA-67 has this in spades.

Its frequency response is colourful to the ear without over-exaggerating any distinctive frequency range, making it perfect for delicate vocals, big piano-like acoustic guitars and even as a tool to add mojo to percussion. The tube circuit adds a pleasing harmonic texture to the high frequencies and presents a very quiet self noise, making it a perfect recording tool.

For the asking price, there is little competition in ’67 voiced microphones that perform quite as well as the Warm Audio WA-67.

Warm Audio have demonstrated once again that it is possible to deliver high quality recreations of classic pro-audio equipment at a more consumer friendly price-point, offering a wallet-friendly alternative for any studio boffin. 

For more specs, head to Warm Audio, and contact Studio Connections for all local enquiries.

New documentary Sisters With Transistors traces the story of the women who shaped electronic music

A feature length film examining the impact of women during electronic music’s formative stages throughout the 20th century is set to receive an international debut this week.

Catch up on all the latest music news here.

Dubbed Sisters With Transistors, the documentary will receive a cinematic release in the UK, Ireland and the US on Friday April 23, with other territories expected to receive access to the film thereafter.

Written and directed by French-American filmmaker Lisa Rovner, Sisters With Transistors looks to highlight the life and career achievements of female artists and composers who adopted early electronic instruments and demonstrated their awe-inspiring potential to the world, as well as the social, political and cultural challenges they faced along the way.

Narrated by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson – renowned for her electronic music experiments with tape loops and MIDI throughout the ’70s and ’80s – Sisters With Transistors begins in 1930s New York with the story of theremin prodigy Clara Rockmore, showcasing previously unseen footage of her theremin performances of classical music.

The film then continues to trace the evolution of electronic music from the post-war period onwards, describing the toils of Bebe Barron as she composed the world’s first all-electronic score for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet before exploring the stories of radio pioneers such as Daphne Oram, Eliana Radigue and Delia Derbyshire, who performed the electronics heard on the iconic theme for Dr. Who.

Later on, Sisters With Transistors celebrates the unparalleled legacy of Wendy Carlos – best known for her era-defining LP Switched-On Bach and composing the soundtracks for Stanley’s Kubrick’s seminal films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining – before exploring the achievements of modular synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani and Laurie Spiegel, a crucial name in the development of musical software in the ’80s.

“We women were especially drawn to electronic music when the possibility of a woman composing was in itself controversial,” Spiegel said of Sisters With Transistors in a statement shared to the film’s website.

“Electronics let us make music that could be heard by others without having to be taken seriously by the male dominated establishment.”

Sisters With Transistors receives a virtual premiere this Friday April 23. Find out more about the documentary via its website here.

DSM & Humboldt’s Simplifier DLX is a no-fuss amp and cab-sim for any pedalboard

DSM & Humboldt have debuted a new DLX variation on their popular Simplifier amplifier and speaker cabinet simulator, packing a sophisticated set of features to flesh out any amp-free setup.

Check out all the latest in Product News here.

Expanding on the compact, feature-packed format of its predecessor, the DSM & Humboldt Simplifier DLX offers up two discrete preamps, each of which boasts three unique amp models (based on classic Marshall, Fender and Vox amp circuits) with individual gain modes for Clean, Crunch and Lead.

Players can either choose to use the unit as either a two-channel stereo amplifier or as two parallel amplifiers for a comprehensive signal spread, while the device can also be utilised for players looking to run two instruments simultaneously with two preamps on either side.

Each channel also boasts its own discrete speaker cab and power amp simulation to access a range of iconic amplified tones, with the former featuring cab type and mic placement parameters and the latter offering tweakable controls for presence, resonance and valve types.

Additionally, the DSM & Humboldt Simplifier DLX features onboard stereo reverb with three different modes (room, ether and plate), with the mix being adjustable for each channel.

Compared to its predecessor, the Simplifier DLX also presents a number of improvements on the I/O front.

There’s a stereo TRS input and through output, as well as discrete left and right output jacks and a stereo effects loop with send/return; with a TRS jack being employed for the send and two mono ports being used for the return.

The unit also features a pair of ground-lifted DI XLR outputs to plug straight into a mixer, PA or audio interface, rounding out what looks to be one seriously impressive piece of kit to complement any amp or cab-free setup.

Hear it in action below.

Check out all the details here. For domestic enquiries, get in touch with Signal Chain.

Gear Rundown: Dr. Dre

To call Dr. Dre a pioneer of hip-hop would be a gross understatement.

Since 1986, the producer, turntablist and MC has been at the absolute forefront of the rap game, with his distinctive, synth-heavy boom-bap production technique setting a standard for beats that very few can match.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

In addition to being a founding member of seminal rap collective NWA, Dr. Dre is deemed responsible for creating the West Coast G-Funk sound, as well as introducing hip-hop heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar to the masses – in short, he’s definitely more than just a pair of headphones.

In this week’s Gear Rundown, we celebrate one of the greatest living hip-hop producers by exploring the various synths, keyboards, samplers and drum machines exquisitely utilised by the one and only Dr. Dre.

Keyboards / Synthesisers

Korg Triton

Released in 1999 as Korg’s flagship synthesiser, sampler and workstation, Dr. Dre extensively used the versatile Triton on most of his productions from 2001 onwards, including Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and 50 Cent’s debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

A classic hip-hop production tool, the Korg Triton is also heavily used by producers such as The Neptunes, Timbaland, and Just Blaze.

Moog MiniMoog Model D

It’s no secret that Dr. Dre’s a huge fan of Parliament-Funkadelic – the blueprint of the G Funk sound instigated through his production work on 1993’s The Chronic oozes the likes of George Clinton and Bernie Worrell, and nothing personifies the West Coast sound like that of the Minimoog Model D.

This classic analogue synthesiser is used by Dre for both its rumbling bass sounds and whiny leads – a classic example of which being his production on Snoop Dogg’s classic ‘Gin and Juice’.

Fender Rhodes 88 Electric Piano 

Image via YouTube.

In this image, you can see Dre playing a vintage Fender Rhodes 88 Electric Piano, an absolute classic instrument featured in some of the finest funk, jazz, hip-hop and soul from the ’60s to today.

You can also spot a Nord Lead perched atop of the Rhodes, which is presumably used for pad and lead sounds.

Yamaha SY77

Dr. Dre supposedly used this sampler/synth hybrid throughout the recording of NWA’s seminal debut LP Straight Outta Compton, which turned 30 last week and still sounds just as relevant as it did upon release in 1988.

Akai MPK49 USB MIDI Keyboard

An Akai MPK49 can be spotted next to Snoop Dogg as he jams out in this video depicting a studio session from Dr. Dre’s infamously unreleased record Detox – a project the producer has reportedly been working on for close to 20 years.

Drum Machines / Samplers

Roland TR-808 Drum Machine

Regarded as the most famous drum machine of all time, the booming bass drum of the Roland TR-808 can be heard all over NWA’s first album, with a prominent example being heard on ‘Gangsta Gangsta’.

Akai MPC 3000

The Akai MPC3000 is by far one of the most important production tools in the history of hip-hop, with prominent users including Dr. Dre, J Dilla, DJ Premier and Swizz Beats.

Speaking with Scratch Magazine in 2004, Dr. Dre discussed his heavy use of the Akai MPC3000, claiming to own at least five of the units.

“I love using the MPC3000. I like setting up like four or five different MPC3000’s, so I don’t have to keep changing discs. So I have them all lined up, and I have different drum sounds in each one, and then we use one for sequencing the keyboard.”

AKAI MPC 60

Dr. Dre supposedly also utilised an original MPC60, designed by music tech legend Roger Linn, in his later work with NWA, with frequent collaborator and keyboardist Colin Wolfe providing an insight to how Dre used the MPC 60 as a part of his writing workflow at the time in an interview with Wax Poetics.

“As far as coming up with the tracks for NWA, we would first write down a bunch of song titles and listen to some records. Sometimes Dre would build a drum track in the MPC [60] or SP [1200] first. Then we’d get inspired by a groove, switch a note or two.

“I’d usually have an idea of what we’d want then come up with something pretty quick for it. Once we had the title and track, D.O.C. would usually write Dre’s verses, Ren would always write his own. Different people would write Eazy’s verses—sometimes D.O.C., sometimes Kokane. I’d usually be the one to record Eazy and Dre’s vocals because I was good at punching in.”

Akai MPC 2000

In a 2002 commerical for Coors Light, Dr. Dre can be seen making beats on an Akai MPC2000 on a plane – as you do.

E-MU SP1200 

This classic ’80s drum machine/sampler was prominently used by Dr. Dre to capture samples and produce much of NWA’s early material, and can be spotted in this video of an interviewrom NWA’s studio in 1988. Watch out for Eazy-E poking an assault rifle in your face at the start.

Akai S900 MIDI Digital Sampler 

This early 12 bit digital sampler, released in 1988, was frequented by Dre while producing early records for NWA, Snoop Dogg and 2-Pac.

Headphones

Beats by Dr. Dre

Come on. This one is obvious, right?

Feature image via The Defiant Ones.

Dissect the recording equipment of the late great J Dilla in our Gear Rundown on the Detroit legend here.