z Gear Stories episode 34

Howdy friends!  It’s another installment in my (almost) monthly newsletter, “Gear Stories”


As always, if you find yourself getting this newsletter and not wanting to get it, don’t get mad, just get in touch, and let me know.  But give it a try… you might just like it!


A quick note before we get going – due to the popularity of the sale I have been running on the Premium mic cables made by Blue, the sale has been extended.


You can get both the varieties of Blue Mic cables for half price…  They are twenty feet long, and come in the Dual cable and Quad cable variety…  So it’s like you are deciding between Great and REALLY Great!  Here’s the link.





Also, I have encountered the fact recently that many of you guys are not aware that Sweetwater sells computers!  We are an authorized Apple dealer, as well as the sole source of the greatest windows computers ever made for recording, the Creation Station!



For this month’s Deconstructed song (Where I give a link to a song and then go through the details of the recording process) I have a Blues tune that I recently recorded for Phat Sound Records.  It’s a lot of fun and has a great feel to it!  Here’s the link…




Now, on to Gear Stories…



The M-Audio Venom…  A new Keyboard for a New Era!


As most of you know, I play several instruments, but keyboard is the one I am most skilled at, and in a lot of ways is my favorite to play.  I have had a lot of keyboards in my career, but as of late, I have reduced the amount of hardware cluttering up my studio, and I’m enjoying the versatility and open space provided by virtual instruments!


There is a new keyboard that has come out recently that is certainly changing my mind about that, and it is called the Venom, by M Audio.


Right off the bat, this is not the kind of keyboard you start up and “OK, show me the good piano sound, and how about some realistic strings…”  It’s not THAT kind of keyboard.  THis is strictly a keyboard for those who want to create AMAZING electronic textures… and for those of you who have listened to my music at http://www.dreamrodeo.com/ you know that that is pretty important to me.


This synth is new in the way that it’s laid out for the user to alter parameters of the synth easily.  The dawn of digital synthesis brought a lot of really cool things, but one thing that flew out the window was  the ease of creating your own sounds that we used to have when we had a bunch of analog circuitry with buttons and knobs on the front of the synth.


It’s true that digital synthesis can create so many complex textures that it’s hard to fathom, but that whole “hard to fathom” part has new meaning since there are so many parameters and things we cold change, changing the sounds have become so complex that people rarely do it anymore!  The amount of choices that we have before us have caused us to freeze up like a kid at the counter of the biggest candy store in the world, holding a dime in our sweaty hand… what to choose?


The Venom is here to change all that.  What they have done is put a series of easily accessible knobs and buttons right on the front, and programmed them to control the 30 most significant parameters available in each sound, so if you want to make a filter sweep, you don’t have to search through a memory… you just grab a knob and turn!


The upshot of this is that the sounds are SO cool, that I spent twenty minutes with the first sound I brought up the first time I turned it on, and didn’t bother to move on to any of the other sounds… One sound can be that captivating… and there are hundreds!


Also, the analog modeling sounds excellent!  Phat and warm and beautiful!


Also, if you work with a computer ( and especially if you work in Pro Tools) there are additional editing parameters that work seamlessly with the software editor that make tweaking the parameters that are NOT accessible by those four knobs on the front panel, so this keyboard is really the first one I have seen since the analog age to really make it all about customizing your own sounds, rather than having a list of really cool presets that will be used up by the top twenty artists in pop music today before the next hardware synth is on the market!


Finally, one of the best things about this little guy is the price!  At $499, it is within most people’s reach, even on a budget!  And for a limited time (until the NEXT gear stories comes out, I will offer this keyboard for $459!  All you have to do to get this price is contact me, preferably by phone, but e-mail works too!


So take a look at the page about the Venom, and watch the videos, listen to the sounds, and then let’s get one on it’s way to you!






Roland GR-55 Guitar System, the best of three worlds!


For many years, guitarists have been searching for  ways to enhance the palette of sounds available to them, and for most of those years, they have looked to Roland to show them their answers.  Roland has been a pioneer in the world of guitar synthesis from the beginning, and also, with Boss and Roland guitar effects, they have been leaders in the signal processing industry, creating many of the top stomp box effect ever made!  Also, when modeling burst onto the scene, Roland introduced the VG8, then the VG88, and finally the VG99… the most popular guitar modeling system ever, allowing a signal guitar to create sounds of literally hundreds of other guitars.


Now, the best of all three worlds are available in one unit, and a very reasonably prices unit at that!


First of all, the GR-55 has two effects processors that can be used in series or parallel, to create a wide variety of traditional effects that can be applied to either the signal created by the synthesis or modeling parts of the unit, or applied directly to your guitar signal.  This offers you the most flexible use of the effects and the widest variety of sounds possible.


Second, the guitar modeling that was available in the VG99 has been updated and incorporated into this unit, so those sounds are available as well.


Then third, ALL the capabilities of the previous generation of guitar synthesis have been updated and are included in the GR-55, and all three of these worlds can be combined to create sounds that have never been heard before until now.


One of the other issues that guitar synthesis has had all along is speed of tracking.  Because the pickup has to send the pitch of the string down a wire to be analyzed, then turned into MIDI signal along with velocity information, this will never be quite as fast as just playing a note on a keyboard, but the folks at Roland have dramatically increased the speed and accuracy of tracking, to the point that some guitarists are saying that they no longer think about the speed of the tracking anymore… they just play… and coming from the history of guitar synthesis, that is truly a significant statement!


So if you have been a fan of guitar synthesis in the past, or are just looking for something to give you a brand new set of colors on your sonic palette, then here is the answer to that search!


They have just begun arriving, and soon, all the backorders should be filled, so jump on this now, and get one reserved for yourself!




And 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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My own personal web site can be found here…  http://www.dreamrodeo.com/


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