Saturday, September 19, 2020

Review: DiMarzio Blaze neck 7

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're reviewing the neck version of the original 7 strings pickup: the DiMarzio Blaze!
The first mass produced 7 strings guitar was the Ibanez Universe 7, a revolutionary guitar designed by the guitar hero Steve Vai, which adapted to the electric guitar version the extended range possibilities offered from a low B string, already experimented in some avant garde classical guitar.

The first pickup that came with the Universe 7 was the Blaze 7, in bridge and neck position: the bridge version was rumored to be a modified version of the Steve Special, while the neck one is a medium output pickup which sounds like an overwould PAF, with a particular eq.

The eq curve is scooped compared to a PAF pickup, because the neck position of a 7 strings guitar can sound extremely muddy, so the designers removed some mid range leaving a strong low end and a cutting high end for clarity, this makes the pickup a very balanced choice for the neck position, and it's still today loved by Steve Vai, Herman Li of Dragonforce, James McIlroy from Cradle of Filth and it has been used for decades also by Korn.

The pickup has a distinctive tone which is very suited for metal solos, because it cuts through the mix very well and doesn't have that excessive high end typical of solos done with a bridge pickup, and the fact that still today it is considered a well established standard is a proof of its quality.

I suggest everyone to try it, also because compared to other brand pickups the price is not bad, you will not be disappointed.

Thumbs up!  

Specs taken from the website:

- Recommended For: All positions

- Quick Connect: No

- Wiring: 4 Conductor

- Magnet: Ceramic

- Resistance: 15.8 Kohm

- Year of Introduction: 1990

- Output: 280

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Ep, Demo, Single, Lp, Full Lenght, Mixtape, Split, live album, box sets, what are they?

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today we are going to see a small glossary with the definitions of words that often are used in the music environment but that not always are so easy to explain: here's your cheatsheet.

Demo: a self produced record to be used for promotional purposes, which can have any number of tracks, but on average it features 2 to 4 songs. 

Single: a recording of 1 to 3 tracks, with a runtime of less than 10 minutes which contains the main song and one or more B sides. It was very popular in the past, as it was used for radio airplay purposes. Today the concept of single is more tied to the release of a video in the streaming platforms.

EP: it means "extended play", and it usually features 4 to 6 tracks, with a runtime of less than 30 minutes.

LP/Full Lenght Album: "long play" is referred usually to vinyl records, "full lenght" is for the other supports, and it features any number of tracks, with a runtime longer than 30 minutes (but there can be also exceptions, for example Slayer's Reign in Blood is an LP that lasts 28 minutes).

Split: it could be, according to the duration, either an EP or a Full Lenght, but it consists into two or more bands putting their songs together in the same record in order to split the production and distribution expenses and to promote themselves to each other's audience. If there is a different artist for each song, that it's a Compilation.

Mixtape: a serie of recordings (it doesn't matter the number of tracks) usually released for free for promotional purposes, which does not necessarily contain only original material but also covers, remixes, B-sides and so on (for some reason mixtapes are used mainly in rap and hip-hop though).

Live album: the recording of a live performance, usually of songs previously released in studio version.

Greatest Hits/Box sets: collections of previously released songs, usually united with some rare or unreleased bonus material, such as medleys, a cappella versions, alternate lyric versions, live, covers, acoustic version, remixes and so on.

I hope this was helpful!

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Review: Zoom MRT-3 Rhythmtrak

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today we're going to review another legacy product, which came out the same time as the Zoom MRS-4 (in 2003 click here to read the review): The Zoom MRT-3 Rhythmtrak.

This is a very portable MIDI drum sampler which can be powered either by batteries or by DC plug, and it offers 7 pressure-sensitive pads, 199 sounds and 396 patterns divided in many genres, from jazz to reggae, from hip hop to heavy metal.

Today all these drum modules/samplers are more or less computer based, meaning that they somehow offer a way to plug them to the pc to use also the computer samples, and they are used more as an interface to play in real time, since it is basically an instrument, but back then, when still not every studio had a PC, these sequencers were very popular because, as the name says, they would let you create loops with the integrated sounds (either by writing them or by playing them real time) and put them in sequence in order to create the song you needed, then they were synced via MIDI to the tempo of the song by connecting them to the audio workstation (or to a digital master clock, which was an external rack unit that would set the tempo for all the other devices connected).

Once all the sounds are chosen (either pre-made kits or custom ones, to which also the velocity can be adjusted), all the loops are selected and put in sequence, not only this device lets us play the song, but it let us also improvise in real time by playing with the pads during the playback, and our performance can be either recorded or not. 

What to say about this device? I have never seen so much functions packed in such a small device, and back then it was quite a breakthrough (plus the samples were decent sounding and fit for every genre), but today it's quite useless due to the lack of connections with a pc (except the MIDI one), and because with DAWs these tools are used only to play with the samples in real time, all the other functions have become rather obsolete and clunky.

I wouldn't suggest to buy it today unless you're vintage lovers, but nevertheless thumbs up for the technological content back then, it was quite impressive.

Specs taken from the manual:

● 199 16 bit-48khz drum and percussion sounds, 396 preset patterns contain a wide variety of preprogrammed rhythms. 99 additional patterns can be programmed and stored by the user.

● Create a backing sequence (song) with up to 99 patterns. As many as 99 such songs can be stored for immediate use at any time.

● Internally lit pads let you follow the rhythm pattern visually during song playback or when using a pattern. 

● Choose up to 14 sounds from the built-in drum and percussion sources, and then adjust level, tuning, and panning individually to create your very own drum kit. 

● Optional foot switch FS01 allows pattern start/stop control or tempo switching. You can also operate an assigned sound such as bass drum or open/closed hihat.

MIDI IN connector allows use with an external MIDI sequencer or other device. The Multitrak Recording Studio ZOOM MRS-4 is an ideal match, letting you synchronize the audio tracks from the recorder with the rhythm track from the MRT-3. Playing the sounds of the MRT-3 with an external MIDI component is also possible.