Y’know what’s great? Fender Alternate Reality Electric XII!

From the Fender website:

“Originally released in 1965, the Electric XII was designed from the ground up for performance and authentic Fender tone. Featuring dual split-coil pickups, a special 12-string hardtail bridge and a 3-position pickup selector, this jangly offset will definitely get attention onstage.

The split-coil Electric XII pickups were designed specifically for this guitar, and they have the sound that made Fender famous—crisp, clear and balanced. The 3-position switch lets you activate either pickup on its own or in tandem. The fully adjustable hardtail bridge sports 12 individual saddles, ensuring spot-on intonation, which is the key to successfully wrangling twice the usual number of strings. The maple neck’s “Modern C”-shaped profile works well for almost any playing style and sports a comfortable 9.5”-radius fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets and a distinctive ’65 12-string headstock.

With its unique sound and cool aesthetics, the Electric XII is a sterling example of our tradition of purposeful innovation. It’s just the thing for adding a uniquely creative touch to your music. Includes deluxe gig bag.”

REVIEW: Devin Townsend at the Thornbury Theatre, September 8

If you’ve seen Devin Townsend with the Devin Townsend Project, well, that’s not the same as seeing him back in the Strapping Young Lad days. And it’s very not the same thing as seeing him in solo acoustic mode. In Strapping, Devin was all about power and aggression and metaaaaaaal. In the Devin Townsend Project, you were dealing with a Devin operating within the confines of some pretty strict arrangements and backing tracks; he was able to roam a little bit but not a lot. 

Acoustic Devin is Devin unfiltered. Aside from an acoustic guitar and his incredibly expressive voice – one minute angelic, the next demonic – the sound is filled out by all sorts of interesting modulated echo effects applied to Devin’s signature Prestige guitar. So what you’re getting is Devin’s voice, his guitar and the room he’s performing in. And here’s the thing: that room makes all the difference, from the acoustics on its stage to the audience members populating the seats. And so on this first night of Devin’s Australian tour we were treated to Devy in a great mood in a great-sounding room with an appreciative audience who were willing to trust Devy with their ears for about three hours of musical intensity. We got tracks from the new Empath. We got tracks from Ziltoid The Omniscient. Ocean Machine. We even got ‘Love’ from Strapping Young Lad’s Alien. Fuck, we even got a track from Les Mis! 

We also got a Q&A session where Devin riffed on matters philosophical (drugs – yay or nay? What’s parenting like for you?), emotional (how you doin’ these days?), aspirational (who would you like to work with? What are you doing next?). Honestly, it would be worth attending one of these shows for the talky bits alone, and although he probably wouldn’t agree, Devin could nail standup comedy if he wanted to. Oh and if you’re wondering, that Prestige acoustic sounds beautiful – very clear and detailed and rich. Beautiful stuff. 

This is a unique moment in the Empath touring cycle, before the next phase which will involve a full live band with no backing tracks and lots of scope for in-the-moment musical creation. Although nothing is ever concrete in Devin’s world, this is probably the last chance to see him in this format for quite a while. 

Roland Introduces MC-07 and MC-101 GROOVEBOXES

Roland Introduces MC-07 and MC-101 GROOVEBOXES


Powerful, Self-Contained Production Platforms for Modern Electronic Music Creators 

Los Angeles, CA, September 5, 2019 — Roland, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments and professional video products, unveils the MC-707 and MC-101 GROOVEBOXES, two self-contained production tools designed for today’s electronic music creators. These powerful products reintroduce Roland’s iconic GROOVEBOX concept to a new generation of musicians, updated with the very latest sounds and a wide range of customization options. With the versatile MC-707 and MC-101, users can create complete, polished productions with no external gear or easily integrate with modern computer-based music environments. The MC-707 and MC-101 will be available in the U.S. in September 2019 for $999.99 and $499.99 respectively.  

In 1996, Roland launched the original MC-303 GROOVEBOX to great acclaim, and the popular series evolved with many additional MC models over the next decade. Building on workflows introduced with genre-defining Roland instruments like the TR-808, TR-909, and TB-303, the GROOVEBOX series allowed people without musical training—but with keen musical sensibilities—to create songs quickly and easily, and in some cases, these individuals gave rise to entirely new musical genres and styles. The MC-707 and MC-101 fuse this landmark concept with today’s advanced technologies, giving electronic-focused musicians more creative power than ever before. 

The MC-707 GROOVEBOX offers everything needed to create a song or perform a live set without a computer. Users can immerse themselves in eight-track recording, sequencing, sampling, synthesizers, and studio-grade effects, plus a curated palette of sounds, loops, and phrases. Audio and MIDI can be recorded with deep control over timing, while hands-on faders and knobs inspire in-the-moment creativity.

Equipped with Roland’s latest sound engine, the MC-707 has all the sounds of legendary Roland rhythm machines and synthesizers, but also looks forward with modern digital and hybrid sounds. The eight-track sequencer is optimized for fluid production of today’s electronic-focused music styles, with 16 ultra-sensitive pads for playing or sequencing drum parts, melodic basslines, or polyphonic chord progressions. There’s also a TR-REC step sequencer inherited from Roland’s classic drum machines, perfect for building rhythm parts quickly. 

With its advanced USB audio interface capabilities, the MC-707 easily flows in and out of any computer production setup. Users can record all eight parts to individual DAW tracks and finish a song there, or sample sounds from a DAW to capture backing tracks, stems, and more for live shows.

The MC-101 GROOVEBOX has all the high-quality sounds, sequencing, and effects of the MC-707, but in a more compact four-track version that’s go-everywhere portable. This professional production tool features a solid-yet-light design and runs for up to five hours on four AA batteries, allowing users to craft sounds, create drum patterns, and compose musical phrases just about anywhere. 

To learn more about the MC-707 and MC-101 GROOVEBOXES, visit Roland.com.

For hi-res MC-707 and MC-101 GROOVEBOX images, please click here.

MC-101 product video available here: https://youtu.be/pdHcFceLdNE 

MC-707 product video available here: https://youtu.be/dadV-S42gHQ 

Roland Debuts All-New JUPITER-X Synthesizer Lineup

Roland Debuts All-New JUPITER-X Synthesizer Lineup


Roland’s Premier Synthesizer Series Evolves with a Powerful New Sound Engine and Advanced Creative Features  

Los Angeles, CA, September 5, 2019 — Roland, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments and professional video products, introduces JUPITER-X, a new series of premium synthesizers that feature a diverse selection of sounds and advanced composition and performance features. Starting with the release of the JUPITER-4 in 1978, the JUPITER name has represented the pinnacle of innovation and quality in Roland synthesizers. JUPITER-X continues this tradition, combining classic Roland design and exceptional build quality with an all-new synth engine and the finest keyboard actions to date. The compact JUPITER-Xm is equipped with a 37-note slim keyboard and will be available in September 2019 for $1,499.99. The flagship JUPITER-X features a full-size 61-note keyboard and will be available in the U.S. in April 2020 for $2,499.99.  

Flexible and deep, JUPITER-X’s next-generation sound engine lets users tap into Roland’s long history of genre-defining sounds and morph them together to explore unmapped sonic territory. Sought-after analog classics like the JUPITER-8, JUNO-106, SH-101, and more are authentically reproduced, as well as digital machines like the vintage XV-5080 and modern RD pianos. Also available are Roland drum machine sounds that form the foundation of electronic and dance music, including the TR-808, TR-909, TR-707, CR-78, and others.

JUPITER-X’s cutting-edge I-Arpeggio feature uses artificial intelligence to accompany user performances and inspire new musical ideas. I-Arpeggio takes player-created notes, rhythms, and phrases and uses them to develop complementary drum parts, basslines, chords, and arpeggiated lines in real time. It works on each of JUPITER-X’s five parts simultaneously, and generated patterns can be customized and even exported to a DAW.

Built for on-the-spot music creation, JUPITER-X features an informative display and an array of large, comfortable knobs, sliders, and buttons. And with the dedicated effects section and quick switching between synth layers, the user can immediately take control of any aspect of a sound. This kind of natural, hands-on control gives players the feeling of reaching in, touching the sound, and instantly shaping it to suit the moment.

JUPITER-X’s sound structure includes five parts: four for synths and one for drums. Its engine can power multiple authentic Roland classics like the JX-8P or JUPITER-8 with enough polyphony to create thick layers and complex backing parts. With so much polyphony on hand, users can freely create layered sounds, splits, and backing parts without limiting complex chords or musical ideas.

JUPITER-X is available in two formats to fit different lifestyles and creative flows. The flagship JUPITER-X model features a spacious, full-size control layout and a 61-note keyboard with supreme playability. Compact yet extremely powerful, the JUPITER-Xm model is a complete electronic production and performance environment with a 37-note slim keyboard and support for battery-powered operation.

To learn more about the JUPITER-X series, visit Roland.com.

For hi-res images of the JUPITER-X series, please click here. 

JUPITER-X series product video available here: https://youtu.be/unM9orpHVkU 

Roland Revamps the Iconic Sound and Function of ‘80s-era JUNO Synths in the New Roland Boutique JU-06A Synthesizer

Roland Revamps the Iconic Sound and Function of ‘80s-era JUNO Synths in the New Roland Boutique JU-06A Synthesizer


JU-06A combines the best of the JUNO-60 and JUNO-106 in a modern and compact, battery-powered instrument that’s convenient to play anywhere 

Los Angeles, CA, September 5, 2019 — Roland, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments and professional video products, announces the debut of the Roland Boutique JU-06A Synthesizer, a compact, accessible instrument that combines the best of vintage sounds and function from Roland’s legendary JUNO 6, 60 and 106. Musicians can seamlessly access the high-pass filter of the 106 and the envelope-controllable pulse-width-modulation of the 60 directly from the JU-06A’s front panel. The JU-06A is a nostalgic homage to Roland’s famed synths of the 1980s, complete with the iconic, swirling chorus, and builds upon its Roland Boutique JU-06 predecessor with improved sequencer, interface, trigger in, arpeggiator and more. The JU-06A will be available in the U.S. in September 2019, delivering the classic JUNO sound at an affordable $399.99.

Roland’s attention to detail extends to the JU-06A’s design, appealing to the aesthetics of its predecessors, complete with authentic vintage styling along with tough metal panels and shafts built to withstand any performance or tour. Small, but powerful, the JU-06A blends classic and modern features, including chord memory, an onboard sequencer, and the JUNO-60’s arpeggio, into an instrument compact enough to fit inside a backpack. The JU-06A is designed for creative music makers who want the vintage JUNO sound at an accessible price, who want to find inspiration from a fun-to-use piece of hardware, and who want the convenience of using gear that works equally as well during a live performance or in the studio. 

Beyond design, the JU-06A is a master of versatility, incorporating both USB audio/MIDI and full-sized MIDI jacks, giving performers the ability to play and synchronize with nearly any other piece of gear in their set-up. The 1/8” jack and USB connection lends to a clean setup with no clutter while the JU-06A’s compact size fits into multiple music setups and can easily connect to a master keyboard, DAW, K-25m Keyboard Unit, and DK-01 Boutique Dock. As the newest addition to the Roland Boutique family, the JU-06A maintains the brand’s timeless sound and industry-best technology while moving musicians towards the future of creation.  

To learn more about the JU-06A, please visit Roland.com.

For high-res JU-06A images, please click here.

JU-06A product video available here: https://youtu.be/i98JsUAD7lk 


Roland Unveils Next-Generation FANTOM Keyboard Series

Roland Unveils Next-Generation FANTOM Keyboard Series


All-New Expandable Keyboards Offer Fluid Workflow, Modeless Operation, Deep Computer Integration, and More

Los Angeles, CA, September 5, 2019 — Roland, a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments and professional video products, announces the flagship FANTOM lineup, an all-new series of professional keyboards for music production and live performance. Developed from the ground up for modern players, the next-generation FANTOM 6, FANTOM 7, and FANTOM 8 models fuse Roland’s latest synthesizer technologies with fluid operation, an intuitive color touchscreen, and deep computer integration. FANTOM instruments also offer superb playability, and feature rugged, tour-ready construction to meet the demands of everyday life on the road. The FANTOM 8, FANTOM 7, and FANTOM 6 will be available in the U.S. in September for $3,999.99, $3,599.99, and $3,299.99, respectively.   

Today’s professional keyboardists need an instrument that lets them compose and perform music with no creative roadblocks to slow them down. They also need to integrate seamlessly with the computer-based environments that form the backbone of modern stage and studio setups. FANTOM is designed to meet all these needs and more, giving players a new type of creative hub to realize ideas and accelerate workflow like never before.


A key feature of FANTOM is its modeless interface, which makes technical limitations and confusing operation a thing of the past. Players never have to worry about what features work in which mode—FANTOM is always in full-on creative mode, providing a consistent working experience in every musical scenario. And with workspaces called Scenes, the instrument can be fully customized and instantly reconfigured for different composition and performance setups.  

FANTOM’s flexible and expandable sound engine leverages decades of research and development, providing an endless range of inspiring and authentic electronic, acoustic, and hybrid sounds. Players can combine different synthesis technologies along with the onboard analog filter for new and unusual sounds. There’s also an enormous selection of effects available to enhance individual sounds and process entire mixes.  

With FANTOM’s potent DSP engine, players can focus on music, not rationing processing power. It’s possible to run all 16 parts with all available effects at once, complete with full patch remain for seamless transitions. There’s never any guessing about how many effects are available, or if sounds can be changed smoothly without limiting complex patches.

FANTOM models offer exceptional playability and aftertouch support with Roland’s best keyboards ever, including the acclaimed PHA-50 on the 88-key FANTOM 8 and a brand new semi-weighted action on the 76-key FANTOM 7 and 61-key FANTOM 6. In addition to the color touchscreen interface, there are plenty of knobs and sliders for intuitive and immediate control, plus a dedicated synthesizer section with oscillator, filter, and envelope controls.

FANTOM is a complete music composition platform, filled with creative options to build arrangements fast. Available tools include RGB pads, a classic TR-REC style pattern sequencer, real-time recording with piano roll editing, and a grid for recording and launching clips.

FANTOM excels as a standalone instrument, but its powers grow exponentially when connected to computers, analog synthesizers, and other gear. DAWs and performance software like Apple’s Logic Pro and MainStage can be operated from the touchscreen and panel controls, and virtual instruments from Roland Cloud and others can be easily controlled and combined with FANTOM’s internal sounds. It’s also possible to drive modular and analog synthesizers from its dual CV/Gate outputs.

To learn more about the all-new FANTOM keyboards, visit Roland.com.

Derek Smalls wants more money

Here’s the mighty Derek Smalls’ new video for the song ‘Gimme Some (More) Money’ from his solo album Smalls Change. The song features Paul Shaffer, Waddy Wachtel and David Crosby). Check out my podcast episode with Derek here!

Multi-Effect Floorboard Thingies Wot Were Stompbox Based

In 2019, everyone is going nuts over their AX-8, their Helix, their Kemper Stage, their Headrush, their That Cute Little Mooer Thing. A rig in a floorboard, who wouldn’t want that, eh? Well once upon a time it wasn’t so easy. I started playing guitar at 8 years old and I’ve been playing long enough and lived long enough to see multi-effect floorboard dealies evolve and grow into what we know them as today. Let me take you back in time, back to an era of…

Multi Effect Floorboard Thingies Wot Were Stompbox Based

The first one of these that I was aware of was probably the Ibanez PUE5 Tube.

You think your Helix is so fancypants-special with its gajillion stompbox sims? This bad boy had no sims, just a bunch of stompboxes in the same housing: a Tube Screamer, a Tube Drive which was effectively a 12AX7-driven amp channel with three-band EQ, Drive and Level controls, an external loop, a Digital Delay and a Chorus. Then there was a Bypass switch at the end. You know, for all those times when you just want to hear the straight unaffected sound of your clean-ass solid-state amp, because that’s what people generally plugged these things into. Because not every amp had distortion, and not every amp had GOOD distortion. So if you were in the market for one of these units, you probably did not have a JCM900 that sounded acceptably distorty at bedroom volumes. Maybe you had a Crate with solid state distortion that sounded like playing your guitar through a CB radio.


That wasn’t Ibanez’s only entry into this field though. It wasn’t even their first foray into this world (check out their UE305 Multi Effects, which had Compressor/Limiter, Analog Delay and Stereo Chorus, and the DUE300 Digital with Super Metal distortion, Digital Delay and Digital Stereo Chorus). One of their slightly later products was the PT3 Guitar Powertrio. (There were others in this line too but look, I don’t have time to get into a whole thing here).

The Powertrio was stripped down to simply Overdrive/Distortion (with a tiny little mode switch to choose between the two – that’s right, you had to pick one and stick with it for the whole song! Maybe even the whole gig!), Digital Delay with up to 1024ms of delay, and Chorus with Speed and Width controls. Then the all-important Bypass switch so everyone could dig on your sweet sweet Peavey Bandit clean tone.

If you wanted to really ride the snake, Boss offered the BE-5 Guitar Multiple Effects 5 Special Selected Effects For Guitarists.

Say it with me now:

It had Compressor, Overdrive/Distortion (with a Color knob to vary between Overdrive and Distortion), Digital Delay, an always-on Noise Suppressor, and a Chorus. No global bypass on this one. If you wanted to turn all the effects off so the audience could behold the glory of your Onyx practice amp (Aussies will remember that one), you had to do a tapdance.

Aah but maybe you wanted to get a little more hi-tech. Maybe you wanted a massive Rack Of Doom but didn’t have the bucks, so you plonked down your cash for a Korg A4 instead, which gave you the option of programmable presets AND individual effect selection between Compressor, Distortion/Overdrive, 3-band EQ, Pitch/Delay, Chorus/Flanger and Reverb, along with a weird matrix effect selection thingie and some multi-purpose knobs to dial in your sounds. It also had a Bypass switch so you could blow your audience’s minds with the clean-as-a-bell tones from the sweet solid state no-name keyboard amp your mum got you secondhand for Christmas. Thanks mum. And it got bonus points for looking like Darth Vader.

The A4, I mean. Not your mum.

George Lynch appeared in an ad for it (the A4, I mean). I don’t know for sure if he ever actually used one but he sure looked cool being pasted in alongside one in the photo. Also the solo disc they refer to – Hypnotica Erotica – was ultimately named Sacred Groove and is pretty badass, although the chorus to the song ‘We Don’t Own This World’ takes on a whole different meaning these days due to the way we use the word ‘owned’ – ‘We don’t own this world, we are the ones being owned!’ Haha. Pwned.

Given the way a lot of people used these things back in the day, I don’t know if any of them quite nailed the perfect complement of effects. Give the damn people a damn reverb knob! Even a simple one-knob reverb as part of the delay controls would have really helped in those grim days of solid-state amps with no effects. Now, Chorus… yeah it was the 80s/early 90s so everything had to have Chorus but put the bloody thing before the delay, not after it! Yeesh! Now, I think Ibanez had the right idea with the Tube Screamer and the Tube Drive on the PUE5. That way you could set the Tube Drive up like an amp channel for your dirtyass rhythm tone then stomp on the Tube Screamer for your lead sound.

Incidentally, the first Tube Screamer I ever played was this one.

And tubes were weeeeell and truly out of general use apart from guitar and hi fi amps by the time I was a kid, so as a 12 year old (when I got my first electric guitar and a solid-state Marathon MX-3 amp with only Volume and Tone controls, no distortion at all), I had no idea what a ‘tube’ was in an audio context or why it would be screaming. The closest I could figure what that it made your guitar sound like if you screamed through a length of tube.

I still think that’d be a cool effect.

By the way, I’ve included links to my mate Bart’s site Effects Database as a little surprise favour to him. Go buy pedals through the links on Bart’s site so he can get some commission bucks, okay?