An impressively editable, intuitive, and organic-sounding digital synth that clears the path to creativity.
User friendly. Great tracking and sensitivity. Organic sounds for a digital guitar synth.
Boss SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer
Guitar synthesis has come a long way. Players are no longer doomed to invasive drilling for MIDI ports, special pickups, or fret wiring. These days one of the coolest guitar synth alternatives are stompboxes, and the new BOSS SY-300, a deep and capable digital guitar synth packed with LFOs, filters, effects, patches, and routing, is an intriguing and powerful option.
Synthesis Sans Ivories
Out of the box, the SY-300 is configured with 70 permanent presets and 99 slots for user patches. To create one, you simply press the synth button to edit a given patch using the LCD screen as your navigation window. While in edit mode, the four knobs beneath the screen are used to adjust parameters within your internal signal chain. Here you can stack LFOs, add effects such as chorus, flange and delay, and adjust their individual settings and where they appear in the signal chain. Effects may be applied globally, or to a specific LFO or effect. Should you want to use your own stomp boxes to effect the internal chain, there are Send/Return ports on the crown of the box. MIDI In and Out/Thru jacks are included, as well as a USB port. This allows you to use the Boss Tone Studio, a GUI for precise tweaking on your computer. The SY-300 can also hook up to the Boss Tone Central, a virtual library of downloadable presets. Altogether the SY-300 is an impressively flexible and editable package.
All In The Fingers
Many of the SY-300 presets are both intuitive and immediately usable. Some require a little more attention to detail—especially time-based effects. For example, P14 has a programmable 16-step sequencer built in and I had to sift through the Synth/FX edit mode to get the patch tempo up to speed. All of these controls take a little time to get used to. Thankfully, the controls are well laid out and the navigation is logical.
While digital guitar synthesis can be cold and sterile, the SY-300 is highly reactive to playing style and guitar choice.
While digital guitar synthesis can be cold and sterile, the SY-300 is highly reactive to playing style and guitar choice. Each pickup (or blend) retains its inherent characteristics. Tracking is also superb. Need proof? Try using a slide with the SY-300. Each note sings clear through the length of the string, without annoying glitchy, artifacts.
While a little background with synths and LFOs makes the SY-300 feel more familiar, Boss made this guitar synth very user friendly. And you can formulate odd combinations with ease. For instance, I was working with preset P03 "Fat Saw Brass", but wanted to try the 1st Oscillator from P12 "Lord Purple" in the second Oscillator position. By hitting the blender button and using the second knob beneath the LCD to cycle through the preset list, I located the "Lord Purple" oscillator. With the push of a button, my guitar tone was imbued with a pulse-width modulation that added a dirty, woozy warble that, yep—evoked Jon Lord's fat Deep Purple Hammond tones. The blender feature can also be used to produce new patches. Pushing down on the Select knob will randomly generate a signal chain every 5 seconds. If you find one you like, you press the Select Knob again (or turn CC to scroll back further in the randomizer) to stop. From there, you can tweak or write the new patch to a user slot. It's interactive, easy and a wonderful creative tool.
These voices and sounds are a mere fraction of what the SY-300 can do. And these relatively vast capabilities make the $699 street price—which is neither chump change nor an easy investment for a casual guitar synth enthusiast—a little easier to swallow. The SY-300 is delightfully intuitive and interactive. It tracks chords with ease, it doesn't glitch out when you play bends and harmonics, and, it actually reacts to the pressure of your playing. On top of giving you textures for otherworldly leads and fat rhythms, the SY-300 can also stand-in for a keyboardist. And while it's doesn't have the fat warmth, of an analog synth, it feels exceptionally organic for a digital synth. Best of all, the SY-300 makes it easy to create unusual and useful sounds, and that makes it a very powerful creative partner.
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Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.
Expanding on the innovations of Cort’s original 8-string multiscale, the KX508 Multi-Scale II features an updated okoume body and a specially designed Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker.
The KX508 Multi-Scale II is the second iteration of the eight-string KX508, Cort’s first multi-scale 8-string guitar introduced in 2020. Like its predecessor, the KX508 Multi-Scale II has a visually stunning poplar burl top in a Mariana Blue Burst finish. Beyond its visual appeal, the poplar burl is an ideal tonal complement to Cort’s newly introduced okoume body. Okoume is known for its light weight and ability to improve tonal clarity. It has a tight low-end and highly articulate high-end, which matches the overall sonic characteristics of the KX508 Multi-Scale II. The multi-scale, measuring 26.5 to 28 inches, offers a punchy low end while maintaining a familiar feel and tension on the treble strings, which allows for speedy runs and string-bending. Players have unhindered access to the high frets thanks to the low-scooped heel.
The 5-piece maple and purple heart neck not only provides strength and stability, aided by a spoke nut hotrod truss rod, but a strong and focused sound. The Macassar ebony fingerboard (15.75-inch radius) offers smooth playability along the 24 frets with teardrop inlays. Macassar is an ideal tonewood for high-gain applications because of its ability to cut through a dense mix. At the top of the neck, the 2 7/32-inch nut width (56.5 mm) is surprisingly comfortable for an 8-string guitar and is even suitable for players with smaller hands. The individual hardtail bridge with string-thru-body design results in greatly improved sustain, superb string separation for enhanced articulation, and precise intonation. Deluxe locking machine heads offer reliable tuning as well as easier and quicker string changes.
The Cort Sessions | KX508 Multi Scale II Electric Guitar
MSRP $1699.99 USD
MAP $1199.99 USD
For more information, please visit cortguitars.com.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.