Offering exceptional sonic and visual quality, Normandy’s Alumicaster bass is a great combination of vintage and contemporary.
Aluminum has made quite a return to the guitar arena as of late. While the material did see some use in the ’70s for improving strength and sustain—most notably by Kramer—it never really caught on in the way that using different combinations of wood did. Despite not being embraced by the masses early on, guitars that employed aluminum garnered a cult following of enthusiasts, one of them being Jim Normandy. Normandy would eventually start working with the material, and in 2007, he released the world’s first aluminum archtop guitar, which he builds in Salem, Oregon. To complement his T-style Alumicaster and archtop lines, Normandy recently debuted the Alumicaster bass. This aluminum-bodied 4-string is quite the looker, as well as a fantastic instrument for holding down the low end.
The Aeroplane Flies High
The Alumicaster’s build is an interesting blend of unorthodox and conventional. With a body shape that gives an obvious nod to the Fender P, the Alumicaster’s hard-rock maple neck and P-bass-style Seymour Duncan Quarter-Pound pickups hint at its influence even more. Normandy doesn’t skimp on quality hardware either, as the Alumicaster comes standard with a heavy-duty bridge (the optional Gotoh bridge was installed on our review bass), Hipshot Ultralite tuners, a Normandy aluminum nut, and CTS pots for the volume and tone controls.
The Alumicaster already sounds like quite a nice instrument on paper, but the real star of the show is the bass’ unique aluminum body. Modeled after the internal bracings of jet airplane wings, the Alumicaster is a hollowbody instrument that uses aircraft-grade aluminum and a carefully designed truss system for internal support. And to amp up sustain, blocks of billeted aluminum are incorporated to individually anchor both the neck joint and bridge area to the front and back of the instrument. While our review model boasted a polished chrome body, the company offers a less expensive version in a raw, brushed-aluminum finish. Powder-coated and custom finishes are also available.
Metal Machine Music
The bass weighs in at a very svelte 9 pounds, and the aluminum top, back, and sides are joined so well that the body deceivingly looks and feels like it’s sculpted from a solid piece of material. Due to the lightweight qualities of the body, the Alumicaster is a little neck heavy when strapped up in the standing position, but just ever so slightly. The lightweight tuning machines certainly help with the balance, and the electronics and internal bracings add just enough heft to the body to keep the neck from taking a dive towards your feet.
Even before I plugged it in, the Alumicaster displayed incredible resonance and liveliness, along with a surprising amount of projection. Because the internal bracings are joined from underneath the bridge to the neck joint, the vibrations are transferred in an extremely effective and noticeable way. With each plucked note ringing out clearly, I could feel the resonance throughout the neck as well.
Speaking of the Alumicaster’s 34"-scale neck, it’s simply a blast to play. Topped with a vibrant-looking rosewood fretboard (maple is also an option if you prefer an even brighter tone and attack), the modern, shallow contour is comfortable and provides a snug fit in the fretting hand. And the area around the first five frets provides plenty of mass to hold onto for accurate fret work.
Plugging into a Verellen Meat Smoke head and an Ampeg Isovent 2x10 and 2x15 combo cab, the Alumicaster immediately displayed the rich and throaty tone of a nice P bass, with the aluminum body adding a noticeably sharp edge to the attack. Aluminum bodies tend to brighten up tone considerably and the Alumicaster follows suit by dishing out an interesting sound that may take some getting used to—especially for those who aren’t familiar with the metallic overtones this low-density material delivers.
To keep the Alumicaster’s highs from becoming overpowering, Seymour Duncan’s warm-bodied Quarter-Pound pickups were the perfect choice for this bass. The mids punched through the mix with a fat low end, and the highs were infused with a unique, metallic sharpness that sounded extremely detailed and round. In fact, the high end almost seemed like a totally separate signal. Each strike of the pick was revealed with enormous detail, as if they had their own hi-fi filter applied to them. Dropping the tone knob brings the sound to warmer territory, but with it fully open, you can hear every scrape, slide, and movement against the strings’ windings—which may or may not be a quality you appreciate.
Regardless of the unconventional attack, the Alumicaster possesses all of the well-loved thumpy and thick traits that make players gravitate to a P-bass-style instrument. And it delivers these sonic qualities with superb sustain, thanks to the bracing that makes the body so exceptionally resonant and lively.
Normandy’s Alumicaster is a great combination of vintage and contemporary. Its looks and tone will turn both eyes and ears indeed, and the old-school feel and vibe are enough to not scare off the vintage purists. Compared to other aluminum-based guitars and basses on the market—which are usually priced well over $1,000—the Alumicaster’s starting price of $899 is unheard of, especially considering its level of quality and tone. Players who aren’t used to hearing this level of detail in the attack and highs might need to spend a little time to get accustomed to it, but regardless of one’s opinion on that matter, the Alumicaster Bass offers exceptional sonic and visual quality.
Watch our video demo:
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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.