Eco plectrums for the environmentally conscious guitarist

Environmental concerns are pervading into every industry now and musicians are getting more options with their equipment as the world changes.

The climate is pretty much an unavoidable topic now, so product alternatives are coming out left, right, and centre to help us feel a little better about our own impact. It’s easy to think that playing music doesn’t have much of a footprint, but every little helps – as they say.

Rombo Picks are a German plectrum manufacturer who have developed a new series of eco-plectrums. The Eco-Black series is made from 100 percent recycled materials in response to growing concerns about the amount of plastic created and wasted around the world.

Rombo claims that their Eco-Black series reduces their CO2 emissions by 90%, decreases energy consumption by 65% and reduces their total resources used by 61%. Each size pick in the series features micronodules for grip and high-mirror polished tips.

The series comes in four thicknesses: 0.45mm, 0.75mm, 1.25mm, and 2mm. Check them out and try out a taster pack with one of all four thicknesses from their website.

Fender unveils their most advanced series, updating all the classics

Fender promise that with their new line of their most popular models, you will “never play a Fender the same way again”.

Fender have unveiled the American Ultra Series, the latest versions of all their biggest and baddest models in possibly their most exciting form yet. The series will replace the 2016 American Elite Series launched in 2016.

The American Ultra Series features 4 guitars and 3 basses from the most iconic of the axe manufacturers creations. They’ve all been enhanced with new design elements to enhance playability and take their sound to the next level.

Ultra Noiseless™ Pickups

American Ultra features two new types of hum-free pickups: Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups deliver authentic Fender single-coil sound while Ultra Noiseless Hot pickups offer high output and modern performance.

Newly-Designed Body Contours

New back body curves offer hours of gigging comfort while a super-sculpted neck heel gives you unparalleled access to the upper registers of the fingerboard.

Fender’s “Fastest Playing Necks”

With enhanced rolled edges, 22 medium-jumbo frets and a smooth Ultra Satin back finish, our “Modern D” neck shape and 10”-14” compound-radius fingerboard make for comfortable chording and effortless soloing.

Here are all the new models in the American Ultra Series:

THE AMERICAN ULTRA STRATOCASTER HSS®

Designed for a thick and burly tone, the American Ultra Stratocaster HSS features an Ultra Double Tap™ humbucking pickup for a fat double-coil tone or a clear, powerful single-coil sound.

  • One Ultra DoubleTap™ humbucking bridge pickup; two Ultra Noiseless Vintage single-coil pickups (middle and neck)
  • “Modern D”-shaped neck profile
  • 10”-14” compound-radius fingerboard; 22 medium-jumbo frets

THE AMERICAN ULTRA STRATOCASTER®

A true icon, the American Ultra Stratocaster features sleek updated contours, articulate single-coil pickups and advanced switching options.

  • Three Ultra Noiseless Vintage single-coil pickups
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • S-1 switch adds neck pickup to positions 1 & 2

THE AMERICAN ULTRA TELECASTER®

Engineered for high performance and fresh new sounds, the American Ultra Tele® retains that classic Tele twang while adding advanced wiring options for a hotter output and fatter tone.

  • Two Ultra Noiseless Vintage single-coil Tele pickups
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • S-1 switch for series/parallel wiring

THE AMERICAN ULTRA JAZZMASTER®

A left-of-the-dial legend, the American Ultra Jazzmaster combines articulate tone and a stylish offset body with sleek new curves and fresh wiring options.

  • Two Noiseless Vintage single-coil Jazzmaster pickups
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Dual volume phase circuit inverts pickup phase/activates trim pots

THE AMERICAN ULTRA PRECISION BASS®

Pure and powerful, the American Ultra Precision Bass delivers all the tone and versatility of its iconic P Bass® predecessors – with updated features for modern playability.

  • One Noiseless Vintage split-coil P Bass middle pickup; one Noiseless Vintage single-coil Jazz Bass bridge pickup
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Redesigned preamp with Active/Passive switching; HiMass bridge

THE AMERICAN ULTRA JAZZ BASS®

Comfortable and fast, the American Ultra J Bass® features a powerful active-passive preamp for sweeter highs, focused mids and lots more usable bass.

  • Two Noiseless Vintage single-coil Jazz Bass pickups
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Redesigned preamp with Active/Passive switching; HiMass bridge

THE AMERICAN ULTRA JAZZ BASS® V

By adding a B string to the venerable Jazz Bass design, the American Ultra J Bass V delivers high-speed playability and a thunderous low end.

  • Two Noiseless Vintage single-coil Jazz Bass pickups
  • “Modern D” neck shape; 10″-14″ compound-radius fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Redesigned preamp with Active/Passive switching; HiMass bridge

Check out the Fender store to find out more about each guitar.

Accusonus’ new funding will help creators get perfect audio on their videos

Accusonus are helping creators improve the audio in their videos so creators’ content is the best it can be.

Accusonus is an artificial intelligence company based in Greece and the US. Their technology works to enhance and improve audio in a variety of ways for both music and other sound recordings.

In their own words, their goal is to open up the access to high quality audio through their AI-powered technology. Through their software they hope to enable creators with the power to refine their raw audio without requiring a particular knowledge in audio engineering/tuning.

With a new $3.3 million round of funding Accusonus are able to develop their tools even further and take them to a wider audience. The funding was led by Venture Friends and featured Big Pi, IQBility and PJ Tech, as well as other US-based investors, throwing their hats into the ring.

The company debuted with a program called Drumatom in 2014. The software specialised in cutting out microphone bleeding in drum recordings. Then in 2017 they launched Regroover which mixed audio loops down into stems for chopping and remixing with new capabilities.

Their have been focusing recently on more general clean-up tools for audio. They have developed a series of simple tools made to clean up audio specifically for video creators and podcasters.

Their new suite of audio repairing tools look to solve the issues with recording on cheaper microphones or smartphones. Accusonus co-founder and CEO Alex Tsilfdis says that they’ve fine tuned their products to make them accessible for all users and speed up the workflow for audio and video editing whether you’re a beginner or pro.

As testament to the power of their tools, they have been notably used by major artists such as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Goo Goo Dolls, Super Furry Animals, Wilco, and many more.

Get a free library of dubstep sounds from FL Studio

FL Studio are giving away entire libraries of “epic sounds” on their all new FLEX synthesizer plugin.

Get MONSTERS Dubstep Basses and fatten your beats up on FL Studio with some gnarly new bass synth sounds for free. FL Studio are offering the pack as a free download on their new FLEX plugin.

FLEX launched earlier this year to open up new possibilities for sound on the DAW. The plugin is free to download for Fruity Edition users and adds an advanced synthesis engine that can be used to entirely customise and create your own sounds as well as make advantage of other people’s awesome presets; like in this free pack!

5 scary sample packs free for Halloween

The spooky season is here! It’s time to drape your keyboards with cobwebs and mix some horror into your beats.

We’ve brought together 5 unbeatable sample packs full of ghastly sounds sure to send shivers up your spine. These packs should give you all the fuel you need to start chopping up some demons and lacing your beats with new thrills.

All of these packs are royalty free so you can use and release them in any way you like.

Ghost Syndicate’s Halloween Pack

HexLoops’ Horrific Halloween Special

halloween sample pack from hexloops

RocketStock’s Horror Sound Effects

Gowler Music Movie Dialogue

SoundShock’s Halloween Samples

SoundShock halloween sample pack free royalty free

Best Midi Keyboards for Under £80

When you are looking to buy a midi keyboard, there are lots of things to consider – size, number of keys, whether it makes it’s own sound or just a controller, etc. I’ve put together a comprehensive list of 3 midi keyboards you can buy for under £80 and we will chat about each of them too.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MKII – £73

This amazing little midi keyboard comes in just under £75 and is an absolute bargain! AKAI is a well-known name in the world on midi controllers and keyboards and with this Mini MKII, you can live up to the AKAI name. This controller has 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys and comes with dedicated octave up and down button controls. You can also plug in and play straight away with no need for drivers. Its USB powered and comes with an ultimate production starter pack including content from Splice, Loopcloud and Serato Studio. Where the deal really comes into play with this keyboard is the 8 backlit velocity-sensitive pads for note repeat and programming drums. All in all at just £73, an amazing deal!


M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 – £42

This is a slightly cheaper option, selling for just £42 only. This M-Audio Keystation is a simpler midi keyboard with a very down to earth feel to it. This keyboard does have more keys than the last boasting a 32 key width compared to the AKAI’s 25. The keys are also velocity-sensitive and capture the feel of the softest movements. Again, no need for drivers, just plug in and play. The octave shift button remains on this one also. This controller comes with a premium software suite including – Pro Tools First M-Audio Edition Performance Software/DAW. For just £42, this surely is a deal to be snapped up.

Alesis V-Mini – £46

Alesis is another household name in midi keyboards and this V-Mini is the perfect keyboard for anyone starting out in electronic music. For just £46, it comes with many features including 25 expressive keys, 4 backlit assignable knobs, and 4 velocity-sensitive drum pads. Not only do you get all this for such a small price but it also includes ProTools First Alesis Edition and Eleven Lite. If that wasn’t enough, they also throw in Mini Grand, DB-33 and Xpand!2 virtual instrument software from Air Tech Music. What a bargain for all that! This is one that every novice or indeed an expert musician should be looking with amazing portability and a stunning finish for only £46.

Fender Squier Mini Strat for just £123!

Do your kids fancy learning guitar but when you ask they say “I want a Fender!”, well here’s your answer. For just £123 you can grab this 3/4 size Squier Stratocaster and that’s Christmas sorted!

Fender Squire Mini Strat (v2), Rosewood

This beautiful rosewood mini strat is perfect for any children beginning to learn the guitar. With a shortened neck and smaller body, it gives ease of access and playability to youth players. Not only does it feel good to play, but it also sounds nice with three classic single-coil pickups and a smooth 20 fret neck along with a 5-way tone switcher.

The really incredible thing here is the price – Fender is one of the best names in the field and its Squier brand guitars are the perfect gateway in for people who may not want to spend the big money just yet. This guitar is in every way, a bargain and I would totally consider lapping it up!

A simple guide to building your first drum kit

Drum Kits are expensive, we all know that, but in this post I’m going to go through the best ways to create your own drum kit as cheaply as possible.

Drum Kits are broken down into many parts: Bass Drums, Toms, Cymbals, and Hardware, all of which can be very expensive – but look in the right places and you can build yourself a drum kit for not so much at all.

The best way to separate purchasing these items is into three categories: Shells, Cymbals and Hardware. These are some of the best deals you can get for each of them and some alternative options to think about.

Shells

Shells are the heart of the drum kit, they compose of the bass drum, toms and snare and often come as a pack. Here are some great options for buying shell packs.

Gretsch CT1J484SWG 2014 Catalina Club Jazz 4-Piece Shell Pack – Satin Walnut Glaze

Gretsch is known for being one of the greats in the drum kit world. When you buy a Gretsch kit you know it’s going to last and it’s going to be good! This shell pack comes with a beautiful 14 x 18″ kick drum and a punchy 14 x 5″ snare. The matching 8 x 12″ tom and 14 x 14″ floor tom really bring the kit together with the same stunning walnut finish. This shell pack comes in just under £660 which is a bargain when it comes to drum kits.

Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C31 5-Piece Drum Set, Jet Black

Pearl are the masters of making a reliable drum kit and with this eye-catching drum kit, you start to really understand why. This jet black drum kit comes with a beefy 22 x 16″ bass drum and a slightly larger 14 x 5.5″ snare. Where the value really shows though is the addition of cymbals and hardware as this kit comes with everything you could need! This Pearl kit comes with 10 x 8″ and 12 x 9″ toms along with a 16 x 16″ floor tom. This can really add to the availability of sounds and the playability of the kit. The price is great too, with this kit on sale for around £539.

Cymbals

With cymbals, its always cheapest to buy them in a pack that includes hi-hats, a ride cymbal and a crash. Buying cymbals seperately can get you a more unique sound but can also be extremely expensive. Here are some great options for cymbal packs.

Meinl HCS Cymbal Set Up

This Meinl cymbal pack is ideal for all kits, it includes 13-inch hi-hats, a 14-inch crash, a 10-inch splash cymbal and a pair of Pro-Mark 5A Sticks. The one thing this cymbal pack doesn’t come with is a ride cymbal, but at the amazing price of just £112 for the lot, it’s worth buying a ride separately. The addition of a splash cymbal in this pack can really add to any drummer’s sound with the unique sound it creates. Meinl is a leading brand of cymbals and for this price, you really can’t go wrong!

Zildjian ZBT Series – 5 Cymbal Box Set

Zildjian is the name you always hear when it comes to cymbals. Their beautiful and honest finish is mouth-wateringly delicious to any drummer. This 5 cymbal box set comes with all you could possibly need, with 14-inch hi-hats, 16-inch crash, 18-inch crash, and 20-inch ride, you couldn’t possibly wish for more. Compared to the Meinl pack, it’s certainly a pricier option at £263 but when it comes to what you get for your money you get just as much. With two full-size crash cymbals and a huge ride, you get A LOT for your money.

Hardware

Drum Hardware refers to the parts of a drum or kit that are used to tension, position or support the instruments themselves. This includes cymbal stands, rims, pedals etc. Here are some hardware packs perfect for setting up your drum kit.

Complete Drum Hardware Kit from Gear4music

This hardware pack contains all the things you might need to set up your drum kit. It comes with 2 cymbal stands and a hit-hat stand along with a gig-ready kick pedal, drum throne, and snare stand. This ideal starter kit is perfect for any of the above drum kits and would fit nicely into any colour or style kit. The price is also good, costing just £199 the hardware pack is one of the cheapest on the market.

Union DHWP4001 400 Series Drum Hardware Pack

Hardware can be expensive and finding the right hardware can take years to finally feel comfortable with. Often drum kit makers will sell hardware specifically for the kit you buy and this may be an option, however also very expensive. This Union 400 series pack comes with the things you’re going to need to get the kit up and running – 2 cymbal stands, 1 hi-hat stand, 1 snare stand, and a Union 600 series bass drum pedal. This pack costs £135 which is incredibly cheap for a hardware pack!

Alternative Option

My alternative option is of course the electronic drum kit! Standard drum kits can be an issue for some people, especially with noise and this can offer the much needed practice time you want. Here are my options for electronic kits.

Alesis Turbo Mesk Kit

This incredible electronic kit really looks and sounds the part with responsive electronic heads and a large variation of sounds. This kit comes with 4 central pads mimicking a snare, two toms and a floor tom, along with 3 cymbal pads and two pedals. Sounds and FX are controlled by a device on the left of the snare keeping it out of the way of your sticks. The device comes with over 30 built in play along tracks so this is great for beginners. The drum kit also comes with sticks and a drum key. This all costs just £256 which is so much cheaper than buying a standard kit! The only issue with this kit is while its perfect for practice, it may not be live gig worthy and so for more experienced drummers may not be ideal.

Roland TD-4KP Compact V-Drums Electronic Drum Kit

Now, this is a drum kit you’re going to want to look at! The Roland V Drums series is an extremely popular name in electronic drum kits. This compact drum kit has 3 tom pads, 1 snare pad, 3 cymbal pads and a hi-hat pedal along with a control panel in the centre for sorting your sounds out. The only thing you need to purchase as an extra is the bass pedal. The kit also includes the TD-4 Percussion Sound Module with expressive sounds and a Record/Play function. This is totally gig-worthy and costs just £500 which may well be much cheaper than a standard drum kit. These kits are becoming extremely popular and the craze may well be for you.

Get this free bass synth plugin to get a 60’s sound

Brighten up your day with a plugin emulating a 60’s keyboard bass synthesizer with a warm and strangely futuristic tone that is yours for free.

It’s hard to turn down a free plugin. Martinic are offering their Kee Bass plugin free to anyone to download and use how they like.

They describe it as “the new musician’s string bass simulator” offering up retro grooves that still somehow sound like they’re from the future. The plugin emulates one of the first monophonic string bass simulators; the Rheem Kee Bass.

The plugin is based on the original electronic schema and a physical version of the Kee Bass. They began by modelling the instrument precisely without any sampling and then enhanced what they had with filters and modulation.

Features

Physical modeling (no samples used) of vintage Rheem Kee Bass

  • Bass Fuzz sound – built in
  • Percussion – Fast decay
  • Percussion – Slow decay
  • Sustain
  • Bright-Mellow option on all sounds
  • 2 Full Octave Keyboard
  • Modeled Solid State Electronic Circuitry
  • 2.5 MB Portable Lightweight Beauty
  • Plays Booming String Bass Notes when loaded into any VST/AU host

Advanced Features

  • Level adjust
  • Adjustable 25-note tuning
  • Extended 128 MIDI note range
  • Velocity-sensitive
  • All settings MIDI learnable
  • Poly mode
  • Low/high/last note priority
  • Attack/decay adjust
  • Low pass filter with resonance
  • Filter LFO/envelope modulation
  • Wide range of presets
  • Fine tuning
  • Transpose/octave shift

Head here and scroll to the bottom of the page to acquire your free license for this bass synth plugin.