Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jam Shop Open House & Autism Awareness Benefit

Written by: Chelsea Broughton

Date: November 14th, 2014

If a kid friendly day of fun filled with activities, prizes and a chance to donate to a good cause sounds like something you and your family would enjoy, make sure to keep your calendars open on Saturday November 22nd for Beau Monde Guitars’ Jam Shop Open House! We are teaming up with St. Thomas Aquinas College PR students to put on an event that raises awareness for children with autism, while also introducing families to our awesome Jam Shop program.

Jam Shop is a fun and interactive way for children to learn about music, while also expressing themselves in a creative way. Kids love Mike and Dan, our instructors, and we would love to use this event to show parents just how much fun kids have when experiencing a Jam Shop session. The program’s mission is to keep a child’s focus and creativity at their highest potential, allowing them to learn by association.

We have noticed that children with special needs have really taken to our Jam Shop sessions and how much it has helped many of our students when it comes to interaction and expression. Children with special needs are very close to our hearts so we wanted to use this opportunity to do as much as we can for the special needs community. Autism awareness is something that is so important and personal to us here at Beau Monde Guitars, and with the help of these college students, we have come up with an amazing event for the whole family that is also for a great cause.

The Jam Shop Open House will be filled with tons of things to do, especially for kids. There will be crafts, music, free food and a raffle with some great prizes, such as a month of free Jam Shop sessions or a free guitar! Admission to the event is free, but all attendees will be given the option to donate money to Autism Speaks. This fun-filled day will be held at our storefront at 285 Livingston Street in Northvale, New Jersey, and will run from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.

So come join us in raising awareness for a great cause, while also learning about what we have to at Beau Monde Guitars. We hope to see you and your families there!

Interested in coming? Follow us on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for more details and make sure you use the hashtag #JamShopOpenHouse!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Brief History of Crunch: The Tube Screamer (Part II)

Written by: Jimmy McQuade

Date: November 7th, 2014

In 1982, the TS808 (revered at this point as sort of the Unholy Grail of overdrives) was succeeded by the TS9; and much to Ibanez’s disbelief, presumably, the TS9 went on to out-shine the original TS808 in the stomp-box overdrive market.

Oddly enough, internally, the TS9 is almost identical to the TS808; the only real alterations made in development of the second iteration of the Tube Screamer are 1) the on/off switch, which now took up about a third of the effect’s face and, one could safely assume, was an attempt to mimic the stomp-friendly design of Boss effects pedals, and 2) an expanded output, which “caused the tube screamer to be a bit brighter and less ‘smooth’,” according to a wonderfully detailed article on the Analog Man site. If the TS9 varies only slightly from the TS808 in design, the two couldn’t be more distinct in the component used to manufacture the pedals, which is important to note since component choice has an unquestionable affect on sound. As the Premier Guitar article, referenced in the first installment of this here post, has it: “one drawback of the new Tube Screamer…was that TS9s were built with a somewhat random sourcing of parts-basically whatever was readily available at the time of manufacture.” This resulted in considerable tonal variation between each batch produced; weighing in on the issue, Mike Piera, the “Analog Man,” writes that “the TS-9s were put together with seemingly random op-amp chips, instead of the JRC-4558 which is called for in the schematics. Some of these sound BAD, especially the JRC 2043DD chips.”

Ironically enough, Ibanez and parent company, Hoshino, made a name for itself in the late 60s and early 70s for producing Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker knockoffs. Nisshin, the Japanese outfit that supplied pickups for some of Ibanez’s ersatz instruments, was in fact the company that manufactured the first Tube Screamer, and other effects, for Ibanez, but as result of an interesting if somewhat vague arrangement between Nisshin and Ibanez/Hoshino, “Nisshin was allowed to market its own line of effects, which were identical to those it made for Ibanez,” as Tucker writes. In 1979, the fist Tube Screamer, TS808, debuted and was quickly picked up by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and other guitar greats.

But upon its release, the TS9 was not necessarily received with arms open. As John Lomas, the former product manager at Ibanez, puts it to Premier Guitar’s Lindsey Tucker, the unveiling of the TS9 “was not a magical moment by any stretch of the imagination…. The public didn’t give a rat’s ass-not for the longest time. It caught on much later. I would say guys really started talking about it in the late ’80s, and by 1990 it was really starting to roll along.” Because the TS9 failed to really take off on its debut, Ibanez discontinued the pedal in 1985, after only about three years on the market. But the Tube Screamer wasn’t gone for long; after putting out Super Tube STL, which wasn’t branded as a Tube Screamer but a part of the Master Series and contained the same circuitry as the Tube Screamer and an additional two-band EQ, Ibanez released the TS10. Which, unfortunately, was a complete flop. As Lindsey Tucker writes, the TS10 was developed with “with quieter circuitry that eliminated the vexatious chirp that older Tube Screamers sometimes emitted when all the controls were turned up. However, these alterations affected the burgeoning star’s signature tone, and the TS10 wasn’t as well received as Hoshino hoped.” Even Piera has a particular distaste for the TS10, complaining to Tucker, “I still hate [the TS10]…. They used cheap, proprietary parts-jacks, switches, and pots that often break and can’t be replaced, because the sturdy parts used in handmade, handwired pedals like the TS9 won’t fit. They have circuit boards that have all these parts mounted on them that break off, just so they could make pedals cheaply with machine soldering.”

But despite Ibanez’s failure with the TS10, the classic sounds of the TS808 and TS9 began rearing their heads in the music and guitar work of beloved artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn and U2’s The Edge. In the early 1990s, the Tube Screamer’s distinctive sonic crunch became once more a sought-after commodity, prompting Ibanez to return to its roots.

(To be continued…)

Ibanez & Kaoss Unite – Mesa Unveils Mark Five: 25

Written by: Jimmy McQuade

Date: October 10th, 2014

In recent guitar news, Ibanez has unveiled two intriguing additions to the RG line: a guitar and bass equipped with the Korg Mini Kaoss Pad 2S.

The RGKP6 and the SRKP4 are rather barebones interpretations of Ibanez’s iconic RG design (you know, the Stratocaster’s shape with slightly sharper edges). The bodies are mahogany, finished in an unassuming Cosmo Black; the fretboard, rosewood with white-dot inlays; and the pickup is a single passive, ceramic IBZ-KP at the bridge. But what these guitars lack in aesthetic flamboyance, they most surely make up for with the built-in Mini Kaoss Pad. Nestled in a pre-routed mount just below the bridge and pickup, the Kaoss Pad delivers “100 ‘dynamic’ effects including filters, modulation, LFO-based effects, delays, reverb, looper, vocoder and synth effects, all of which are controlled by the pad’s touchscreen ribbon controller,” according to an article on the Music Radar site.

The commercials for both the RGKP6 and SRKP4, which you can watch here and here, demonstrate many of the Kaoss Pad’s capabilities, which range from your traditional Wah-Wah sound to weird glitchy murmurs; needless to say, you could get pretty far-out with these two guitars in terms of sheer variety of sonic textures, which is never a bad thing. Though, as a bass player, I wonder how much low-end rumble is lost, if any, when the Kaoss Pad is engaged on the SRKP4?

But I don’t want to dwell too long on the Kaoss Pad, because both guitar and bass are built with an internal distortion circuit, which can be switched on with or without the Kaoss Pad and adjusted with the its own set of tone and gain knobs. Anyway, for additional specs, take a look here.

In recent amp news, Mesa Boogie has unveiled the Mark Five: Twenty-Five, not only a miniature version of the Mark Series amplifier but also a sort of amalgam of the previous Mark Series designs, especially the Mark II-C+ and Mark Five; or, as the Mesa Boogie site has it, “the embodiment of the last 45 years of guitar amp evolution.”

For an excellent summary of the impetus for the development of the Mark Five: Twenty-Five, here’s an except from a Premier Guitar article on Mesa Boogie’s new micro amp:

“During years of development, Mesa’s team looked back to the wellspring of past Mark amps for inspiration on the new Mark Five: 25. Revisiting the coveted Mark II-C+ and comparing the vintage icons to the production 6L6 powered Mark Five, which many believe is the brand’s best work to date paying tribute to the II-Cs, the team confirmed that many of the Mark Five modes absolutely had to be included in the new mini package. The key requirement being that, in the end, the new Mark must truly sound on par with or even better than the original II-C+. Given this challenge they set out to find a layout that would accommodate 6 incredible modes in a sub-compact chassis size. Mesa’s research overwhelmingly confirmed that players preferred two, and only two, preamp channels for a tiny Mark amp. With pedals now offering such a personalized, quick-change approach to getting different sounds, Mesa set to work defining the Five: 25’s two channels. Mesa claims the result is a collection that includes the very best of the Mark IIC+ and the Mark Five in a package that many will find unbelievably powerful and versatile for its size.”