z Gear Stories episode 25

Gear Stories 25, Get Ethnic & The perfect studio guitar amp!


Hey there friends!  It’s Gear Stories time again!


Of course, like always, if you don’t want to get this, let me know and I’ll take you off the list… but give it a shot… you might like it!


Before I get into the stories, there are a lot of things going on around Sweetwater this spring that are real quickies I should let you know about!  I’ll try to keep them brief, but if they are in your area of interest, you really should check them out!


First off, if you like using virtual instruments, Komplete 6 and Kore 2 from Native instruments are on sale bundled together for $699.97  (Remember when Komplete cost a thousand dollars?  That’s when I got mine!  And that was without Kore!  But I’m not bitter… really.)  There has never been a better time to get his great synth/sampler package!




Second, if you are looking for a really pro sounding single channel mic preamp, the Focusright ISA One just had a price drop to $499.99!  Holy cow!  Enough said!




Third, most of you remember that we had Paul Reed Smith here recently with his private stock of tone wood for designing and building your own custom guitars.  It was a great success, and one of the side benefits is that Paul had been experimenting with his high grade woods, playing around with new designs and he built a handful of prototypes… One of a kind guitars made from some of the finest tone-woods on the planet… but after you build a prototype like that, what do you do with it?


Well, if you are Paul Reed Smith, you send it to Sweetwater!  Of those prototypes, he kept his favorite one for himself, and then sent the others to us!  These are true, one of a kind guitars… however, when you come across a guitar like that, generally, they go for twenty thousand or more… not these!  Paul is letting us sell them for $9995 a piece!  These are what one would refer to as an investment guitar… Sure they play wonderfully, sure they look awesome, but in the long run, these are guitars that will most likely gain value rather than lose it!  Check them out!




And finally for my news tidbits, Sweetwater is holding a songwriting contest!  I wish I could sign up myself!  About ten years ago, several years  before I started at Sweetwater, they had another one of these, and I signed up.  I must brag and say of the many hundreds of applicants, my entry came in second place!


I’ve always wanted a shot at first!  But Employees are not eligible, so I am shooting for my own consolation prize in that I want one of YOU GUYS (my loyal Gear Stories readers) to win first place!  Don’t let me down!


One more thing about it is that artists who enter the competition qualify for a $25 discount on an order of $200 or more!  You just have to call me and let me know that you entered when you are ready to buy!


Here’s the link to the contest.  http://www.sweetwater.com/feature/gearfest2010/songcontest.php


So now that I’ve imparted all those luscious little tidbits, let’s get on to the meat of our publication!





MOTU ETHNO INSTRUMENT 2, the sounds of the world at your fingertips.


Many of you know this already, but I am REALLY into world music!  When I was getting my degree in composition at Wheaton Conservatory, I also studied Ethnomusicology!  (That’s just a fancy way of saying we sat around listening to really cool music from all over the world!)  Since then I have been working on a World Music/Electronica hybrid project called “Dream Rodeo” which of course will someday make me a famous rock star!  well, maybe not.


But I have been plugging away on that project for ten years and thirteen albums, and one of my best friends in that process has been MOTU Ethno Instrument.


Ethno Instrument is pretty much exactly like it sounds… it is a virtual instrument (A synthesizer made of software, with a library of sampled sounds) that focuses on instruments from around the globe.  They have just released Ethno 2, which has a full 21 gigabytes of samples in the library.


The library of sounds is easy to navigate around, too… very intuitive!  They organize it so you can look at them by their ethnic region, and then break them down into categories like pitched percussion, stringed instruments, wind and even vocal samples… and the samples are GREAT!  The realism is exceptional!


I have actually used Ethno for a dobro and banjo sound in a bluegrass song when the session player didn’t show up, and nobody was the wiser!  (There’s a section of American Ethnic instruments too!  After all, America is part of the World!  Sometimes we forget that when we think of “World” music)


The thing I like about this new version, other than tons of new samples, is the key switching functions!  Now, by holding down a key at the bottom of the keyboard, you can determine wether that Koto is plucked, or fluttered, or swept across the strings… etc.  It makes creating a very convincing track easy!  (And you don’t have to pay for airfare for a koto player to come from Japan!  Besides, EVERYBODY knows about how hard those KOTO session players are to deal with!  …or not.


A friend of mine is fond of saying “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”  What can I say?  He’s an odd guy!  But rather than drone on, I offer you this… if you would like to hear some of Ethno in action, just let me know and I will e-mail you an mp3 of a song I recorded for my Dream Rodeo project in which I use four distinct sounds from Ethno… there is a stringed instrument, some pitched percussion, a bamboo sax and some hand percussion… all rolled up into one cool little tune!


Just e-mail me that you want to hear it and I’ll send it!


And in the meantime, here is the link to Ethno 2!  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EthnoInst2


And until the next Gear Stories comes out, you can get it from me for $20 off!  (But you have to call or e-mail me and mention that you read this!)





Randall makes the perfect guitar amp for the recording studio!


As a recording engineer for twenty ears, I have mic’ed up HUNDREDS of guitar amps, each of them making a different sound and coming out at a different volume, and have had many discussions about what is he perfect amp for a recording studio.


I think I have finally found it, but it comes in several parts.  First, let’s talk about the head… Even that part comes in several models, but here is a link to the series…




These modular guitar amp heads allow you to choose the kind of guitar amp sound you like best and use the module you like best!  Here are the preamp modules that are available to fit into these heads.




So if you are Marshall plexi guy, or if you are a vox guy, or if you are a mesa boogie guy, or a fender guy… they’re all here!  And the beauty of it is that for what will generally cost about the same, or less than one of the original amps that are represented here, you can get into this system and then for as low as $299 you can add other iconic amps to your arsenal!  AND you don’t have to have a whole room dedicated to storing all those amps, since the preamps are about one half rack space in size!


And these are not digital electronics modeling tubes for a synthetic representation… these preamp modules make the sound exactly the way those classic amps do… with tubes and transformers and other stuff that gets hot!


They sound authentic!  They sound amazing!  And for a relatively small amount of money, you can have a pile of amps at your fingertips!


But of course, what is an amp head without a cabinet?  And we have all come to know and love the ginormous 4 X 12 cabinets that get lugged in and out of the studio… Unfortunately, every location my studio has been in for the last ten years, there has been a flight of stairs involved!  The 4 X 12 guys REALLY hate that!


And then, of course, if you are doing the home studio thing, or have neighbors that get ticked off about the noise, then the 4 X 12 has another liability… they are loud, and in order to get the tone you want, you have to play them loud!  This is a conundrum!


Randall has an answer to this problem as well… it’s called the Isolation Cabinet!  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/IsolationCab/


What it is is a 1 X 12 cabinet (After all, you generally stick a mic in front of only ONE of the speakers in the cabinet, which seems to be a waste of the other three!)  But rather than shooting the sound out the front, this cabinet shoots the sound straight up, and then inside the cabinet box, there is a mic mount, and then comes a lid that fits down tight!


It was truly remarkable in the demonstration I heard… first, with the cabinet door open, it was a huge guitar amp sound, and then as the player was playing, they placed the lid on the cabinet and suddenly it sounded like you were five miles away from a Nugent concert… (O.K. maybe ten!)  You could hear it, but it was just a faint whisper of what was blazingly loud inside that box… but we’re not done yet!


Then the sound engineer brought up the feed from the mic inside the cabinet… It was huge and crunchy, and powerful, just like putting a mic on a 4 X 12 cab!


Virtually every guitarist I’ve worked with at the studio has told me that they needed to turn their amp up to dangerous volumes for it to actually get the tone right, so I’ve dealt with it… in the Randall Isolation cabinet, you can turn it up to eleven and put that lid on and not wake the baby in the next room!  But at the same time, through the mic you are getting that tone you are striving for!


Even if you don’t run a recording studio, but just like to rock out at home without bothering the neighbors… this could really do it for you!


So call me and we’ll put together your dream studio guitar amp package!


Until next time, I look forward to being of service.


Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer


800 222 4700 x 1352

260 432 8176 x 1352 (outside the U.S.)

260 432 1758 FAX

[email protected]


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