december 2012

A multi-effect stompbox with downloadable effects and amp simulations and BlueTooth technology.

Computers play an integral role in the lives of a lot of gigging guitarists these days. Enhanced processing power, laptop portability, and inexpensive sound interfaces make it possible for a guitarist to take a virtual warehouse of effects units, amp models, and speaker simulators on the road. And over the last few years a handful of key players in the guitar effects market have integrated their technologies with mobile consumer electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets. IK Multimedia’s simple iRig and Amplitube app turn an iPad/iPhone/iPod into a powerful modeling rig. DigiTech’s iPD-10 pedalboard allows players to use the processing power and touch interface of an iPad to expand on the trusted multi-effects pedalboard layout, while the company’s iStomp pedal enables players to purchase effects models for the iStomp from the App Store and transmit them via USB to a standard-sized stompbox unit.

Zoom’s latest version of the MultiStomp greatly expands on the downloadable effects idea by using a wireless connection to your iOS mobile devices via standard Bluetooth technology. And the compact MultiStomp has a wide range of features that make it a fantastically powerful guitar multi-effects processor by any standard.

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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.

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With its copious power and all the easy-to-use tone-control tools that it puts at your fingertips, the Para-Dyne 50 Combo is an amp that will have your back in just about any stage situation you can imagine.

Having tinkered with guitar amplifiers since the late ’70s, Jeff Andrews has had plenty of time to accrue down-and dirty, hands-on circuit-tweaking experience and develop a keen taste for tone and control. In 2002, he launched his service business—Andrews Amp Lab—in Atlanta, Georgia, after years of working for a large Japanese electronics corporation.

It wasn’t long before Andrews got the building bug and unleashed the first Andrews Amplification amp with the A-Series. Now, Andrews has set sail with the second-generation Para-Dyne series. Boasting two dynamic channels (hence the name) the Para-Dyne line aims to sidestep issues of paunchy compression and deliver a stalwart, responsive tone that can be shaped through its inventive EQ control. The Para-Dyne 50 combo reviewed here delivers on those promises and more.

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