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How to Choose a Guitar or Bass Amp

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Choosing a guitar or bass amp depends on the level of the musician’s skill. For example, professionals who sell guitar or bass amps prefer to offer only highest quality amps. For example, if you are Hadley Hockensmith, Dweezil Zappa, Dean Parks or Adrian Belew, you want a guitar amp with a hi-tech guitar processor with amp simulation for world class effects and unparalleled flexibility, not to mention, unrivaled power and real amp feel. To these axe men, the amp is more than just a vehicle through sound is produced.

For beginner guitarists, sound should be free of distortion and offer optimal volume ranges. Bass amps need good output through speakers and greater sensitivity to low range distortions in order for musical balance to occur. The choice of guitar or bass amp depends also on the type of guitar or bass in use, the style of music, the volume of amplification required and need for compatibility with PA systems. Amp wattage is also a factor to consider. These are the guidelines on how to choose a guitar or bass amp.

 

Which Guitar or Bass Amps are Best?

In the music industry, professional musicians know the best brands as well as they know their own instruments. The top names in guitar and bass amps include:
. Marshall
. Mesa Boogie
. Fender
. Matchless
. Trace Elliot
. Trainwreck
. Komet
. Roccaforte
. Peavey

Marshall Amps are known for their excellent sound and durability. The design and manufacture of the British amps known for their “crunch” sound which creator and designer, Jim Marshall, added to Marshall amps at the demand of the early 1960s and 70s heavy metal musicians. The Marshall JCM2000 range of amps is the two and three channel series with dual and triple leads and a 100-watt four-channel head preferred by musicians like Joe Satriani.

For 60 years, Fender amps have served professional bassists with lasting durability and excellent quality. The Fender Super Bassman is the number one choice of today’s biggest names in the music industry.

Mesa Boogie bass amps deliver maximum wattage from the Mesa Boogie Walkabout Scout Bass Combo with 300 watts to the Mesa Powerhouse with 1200 watts, 4 ohms, player control network and custom Powerhouse speakers. The Mesa Powerhouse can handle the biggest amp heads.

Matchless amps range from the DC 30 with 30 watts to the 15 watt Spitfire, Nighthawk and Lightning models. Matchless also offers a Thunderman bass amp with 45 watts power, 3-rotary position and reverse speaker phasing.

Trace Elliot bass amps are available in 7-band and 12-band pre-amplifications. The AH-1200-12 Head has 1200 watts, valve drive circuits, output mute switch, left and right line outputs and custom designed, electronically balanced XLR DI outputs with Pre EQ and Post Preamp Left & Right modules. Trace Elliot is a UK specialty bass amp designer and manufacturer since the 1970s. With uniquely designed circuitry and excellent tonal performance, Trace Elliot bass amps are a top choice for celebrity touring bands like the “Who.”

What To Ask When Hiring A Band

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Hiring a band for your next party or engagement should be an exciting time for you and the band. The band is excited to play your gig, and you should be excited to have them playing their brand of music. However, you want to make sure that the band you hire is a good fit for your event. Here are a few questions to ask:

1: What Music Do They Play?

You need to know what sort of music the band plays. They may play cover songs from any era, or they might play their own material. You want to ensure that the music they play meets your needs and the need of the crowd. A band that does not play your brand of music will not be as much fun as another band that plays more enjoyable music.

2: How Must The Band Set Up?

You need to know what the band needs to setup for the gig. You must accommodate the band with electrical outlets, a stage area and a backstage area to prepare. The band needs room to move around, and you must provide them with the amount of room they ask for. A band that requires a setup area bigger than what you can offer may not be the right band for you.

3: How Many People Are In The Band?

Do you want a soloist or a big band? Knowing how many musicians are in the band is a great way to know if they are going to be a great fit for your event, and can help you know what to prepare as far as room for the band to perform.

4: How Much Do They Charge?

You should ask the band how much they charge for the gig and make sure it is within your budget. Most bands have an hourly rate or a flat rate for the night. This is also a great time to ask what they might need – how much room they will need to perform, if they require a certain number of outlets for their equipment, etc.

5: How Long Can They Play?

You want to know how long the band feels comfortable playing. Some bands can go on all day, but other bands prefer to play just a few sets before stopping. You need to be familiar with the band’s preferences before hiring them. If you want a longer set, this is a great opportunity to give a new up and coming band a chance to open for your hired band and gain some experience and recognition.

By asking questions, you are protecting your event, while also respecting the band by ensuring they have everything they need to give you a great show!

Spring Cleaning

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As we approach warmer weather, you’ll likely want to jump into outdoor activities and bring along an instrument or two with you. You can get your instruments looking and sounding their best for 2015 with this spring cleaning checklist.

 

Cleaning Tips

First and foremost, spring cleaning is a great time to revitalize your instrument’s appearance. A good cleaning won’t only keep the instrument looking its best, but it will also improve the longevity of the instrument.

Instruments such as acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars can typically be cleaned with an absorbent cleaning cloth and feather duster. If you’re cleaning the strings as well, never the use the same cloth on the body. This often results in a transferring of the dirt and grime from the strings straight to the body. Wrap up the cleanse with a good polishing.

Drum kits can be cleaned using a soft cotton cloth dampened with mild detergent and warm water. After completely wiping each shell down, finish off with a dry cotton cloth. When cleaning the drum heads, never spray cleaner of any kind directly onto them. This has been known to cause damage to the heads as well as severely impair their sounds. Brasso is commonly used to clean cymbals, but it’s highly recommended that you steer clear of using cleaning chemicals as much as possible when wiping your kit down. Usage of cleaners over time can cause corrosion and significantly affect the kit’s sound.

 

Polishing Tips

Instrument polish is useful for uprooting grime that doesn’t normally come off with regular cleaning practices. Be sure to use a polish that’s approved for your particular instrument. The metal hardware on instruments can, most times, be cleaned with chrome or jewelry polish. This will instantly restore life to faded and scratched up instrument hardware.

Drum kits can also be waxed and polished, but it’s incredibly important that you use the softest cotton possible to do so. Check to see what types of polish the kit’s brand approves for cleaning.

 

Restringing and Maintenance

One of the best parts about spring cleaning your instruments is breaking in brand new strings on guitars. While an older guitar will improve as it ages, the same can’t be said for its strings. You’ll know your strings are ready to be replaced when they are corroded, caked in dirt and grime, fall easily out of tune, or simply haven’t been changed in a long time.

To start changing out strings, use the turning pegs to loosen them until they can be unraveled by hand at the posts on the head. Pull the string out from the post and remove it from the bridge. After removing all strings, begin installing the new ones into the bridge. Slip each string into its appropriate post, and tighten it using the turning peg. After tightening and tuning each string, you’ll have officially restrung your guitar.

 

Caring for Musical Equipment

Lastly, you can spring clean your musical equipment, such as amps and microphones, with a few tried-and-true tips. Before cleaning anything electrical, ensure that it is unplugged and away from water. Using a mild cleaner, spray a bit of the solution onto a soft cotton cloth and wipe the exterior of the equipment down. Use a vacuum to clean out bits of dust and grime from enclosed spaces, such as the inside of an amplifier cabinet. If the equipment has knobs, be sure to remove them for a more thorough cleaning.

What You Need to Know About Amplification

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Amplification, in simple terms, is the process of increasing a signal’s power so that it is much more easily understood. In music, audio amplification is used to intensify sounds of speech or music. The consumer market began to see an influx in musical amplifiers in the 60’s, mainly because they were being priced competitively. Guitars were also the most popular instruments of that time period, making the amplifier an extremely attractive purchase for the average musician. Today, amplifiers are used for a number of purposes, but music remains as one of the biggest ones.

 

How Does Amplification Work?

The job of an amplifier is to convert a small signal into a large one. At face value, this sounds simple enough. However, it’s a little more complex than that. A device designed to amplify sound has three essential connections. These are the source’s input (the signal from the instrument), the speaker output, and the power source.

The power source supplies an electrical current to the amplifier, and it is there that this current is converted from “alternating” to “direct.” An alternating current is a form of power that can flow in both directions. A direct current flows in only one direction.

Once this current reaches the power supply of the amplifier, it travels to the transistor (or the variable resistor). Think of the transistor as a water valve. The transistor is designed to control the incoming current based on the signal from the input. When heavier signals are sent from the input source, the current is stronger. Weaker signals send smaller currents.

The frequency of the input signal will greatly control how the transistor operates. For example, a tone of 60Hz will cause the transistor to open and close 60 times a second. On the other hand, a tone of 1000Hz will cause the opening and closing 1,000 times a second. As the transistor processes the current and frequency, amplification is achieved.

 

What is Amplification Used For?

One of the most common reasons amplification is used is to magnify signals from musical instruments. For example, an electric guitar makes very little sound when it is played without an amplifier. However, when the electric guitar is plugged into this device, its signal can be intensified. Likewise, signals from CDs and records can be boosted with amplification devices.

Amplification is also used for large events where a sound must be amplified so that it can be heard at great distances. For example, an announcer’s voice is amplified at a sporting event. If the announcer tried speaking at a large sporting event without amplification, his voice would be extremely trivial in comparison to the other sounds in the stadium or arena. Instead, the announcer uses amplification technology so that his voice can easily be heard over other noises in the facility.

These are merely a few examples of how amplification is used every day in the real world. There’s no denying that a world without amplification would be one with an overwhelming amount of boring white noise.

Top 10 African American Rockers

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African American artists don’t always get the credit they deserve in rock circles. In fact, some people’s knowledge of black rockers doesn’t extend much beyond Jimi Hendrix. If you are in need of a little education about the greatness of black rockers, here is a look at the 10 greatest African American rock stars in music history.

10. Lajon Witherspoon

The front man for Sevendust, Witherspoon is one of the most powerful rock vocalists of the last two decades. His fusion of soulful melodies and hard-rocking fury gives the band a unique sound that has been a hit with audiences.

9. Ben Harper

Harper’s earthy sound is one that transcends genres. The signer-songwriter mixes elements of folk, rock, gospel, reggae, blues and pop to create a distinctive sound that has won him two Grammys and a ton of acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

8. Slash

The guitar virtuoso is one of the most iconic rockers of all-time. First famous for his work with Guns ‘N Roses, he then went on to be part of Velvet Revolver. He is always a part of the discussion about greatest guitarists in rock history.

7. Lenny Kravitz

Kravitz is arguably the most popular African American musician of the last quarter century. He has played multiple Super Bowls and had numerous Top 40 hits over the last few decades. His sound is a blend of hard rock and pop that speaks to a wide audience.

6. Bo Diddley

It is a sad truth that many young people would just look at you with a puzzled expression if you asked them who Bo Diddley was. Although some people may know him best for his iconic commercial with Bo Jackson, Diddley was a rock pioneer who influenced some of the most iconic musicians of all-time. They include Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and many more.

5. Little Richard

The high energy style of Little Richard led him to be one of the most popular early pioneers of rock and roll in the 50s. His style influenced acts ranging from The Beatles to Elton John.

4. Tina Turner

The raspy, powerful voice of Tina Turner drips sexuality, and her throaty singing and iconic stage presence was the template for other female rockers of the 60s like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick.

3. Prince

The man is an icon, and arguably the greatest rock musician from the 80s onward. He created some of the most influential music of the 80s and 90s, and has influenced a legion of rockers who grew up listening to his music.

2. Chuck Berry

In a famous quote, John Lennon once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.” That pretty much sums it up. Berry was the godfather of rock and roll, and was one of the most powerful influences on The Beatles and every other band that exploded on the scene in the 60s.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Many people say that he is the greatest guitarist of all-time, and it is hard to argue with them. The virtuoso work that Hendrix did occurred all within three years, which was enough time for him to chance the world of rock forever.

These are the top 10 African American rockers of all-time, but there is no telling where rock will go from here. There will always be new, rockers exploding on the scene, and you can count on the fact that a good share of them will be adding to the legacy of great black musicians in rock history.