// Instrument News & Reviews David Gallant and Jon Newey check out the latest jazz-related instrument and technology launches
Hercules DS590B bass stand
Hercules DS590B bass stand Bassists have got used to the idea of laying the old lady down between sets, knowing that she might suffer yet another disfiguring rub to her patina or worse – damage to her rims. But now the Hercules company has produced a safe and secure collapsible stand, that will support the bass in an upright position, taking up less space on stage and making the instrument much less prone to damage. Modelled on the highly popular ‘A’ style stand with its low centre of gravity, the lightweight DS590B has specially formulated, highly durable, close cell rubberised foam on all contact points that cushions and protects the bottom of the instrument, while keeping it just off the ground. In use we were amazed at just how stable this stand is and it’s certainly a space saver. The only thing missing was a padded tote bag. But then, perhaps it’s just easier to sling it into the back of the van as is. For more go to www.herculesstands.com
Headway bass band pickups Achieving a ‘true’ sonic response has always been a challenge for bassists. Various pickup/mic configurations have been used either working in tandem or as a single source, but all require some form of adaptive surgery to the instrument and are more often than not in practice awkward to use.
Headway themselves do have other bass pickup systems, most notably their highly successful model with contact points that sit under the feet of the bridge, though this of course requires expert fitting and possibly a new bridge and crucially (like similar systems) relies on battery power. The flexible nylon ‘band’ however has no need of a battery and doesn’t require any adaptive procedures, as it simply fits around the waist of the instrument attached with a quality velcro strip. A quarter-inch jack socket is set into the end of the band so that the lead runs out from the rear of the bass, while the enclosed pickup sits centrally under the four strings.
The Band proved to be a lively pickup with a very clean sound that seemed to have a heightened sensitivity to the mid range. There were no blank spots, no feedback and there was no finger noise. With our amp set flat the Band gave an exceptionally realistic string bass sound – there was no need to tweek the EQ and in a small combo environment it was more than able to cut through the mix. And all this for a piece of equipment that you can stick in your top pocket!
This is clearly a major move forward in bass amplification and we reckon that it is likely to become the chosen pickup for many a gigging bassist. For more go to www.headwaymusicaudio.com
Rawbrass Supreme flugelhorn UK company Rawbrass has been slowly building up a reputation for unique hand built instruments and the Supreme Flugelhorn is typical of the company’s alternative take on the traditional model. Whereas you would normally find the flugelhorn’s bell placed to the right of the valve set, the Supreme’s bell is placed to the left, allowing it to be detachable and to float free of any stays, so maximising the resonance. This repositioning of the bell
Headway bass band pickups has meant that some sort of hand hold has had to be fashioned to the right of the valve set and with typical individualism Rawbrass have incorporated an odd length of lead pipe – quirky or what. But it works. Like other instruments in the range that we have reviewed previously in
Rawbrass Supreme flugelhorn this column, the Supreme Flugelhorn is solidly built, beautifully finished and with an almost fastidious attention to detail. It’s actually a little more compact than the standard instrument and the fitted, quality Monet valves are about an inch shorter in length – maybe this is to compensate for that extra length of lead pipe. Perhaps also to do with the compact nature of the design of the body, the trigger positon is placed a little higher than normal, which means that you need to take care that your finger doesn’t get pinched in the third valve trigger. Fitting the supplied mouthpiece, we found the Supreme to be a very easy blower and the floating, rimless bell certainly gives the instrument a brighter sound with more presence, although we felt that the overall quality of sound was more that of a mellow trumpet than the traditional flugel. Fitting our house Taylor mouthpiece with its deeper cup and wider bore however immediately produced a more mellow and (for us) a more satisfying flugel-like sound. That said, the brightness and the projection of the sound really does cut through and may well suit the soloist who’s looking for something more individual. This is clearly a very versatile instrument and we would ideally liked to have had the opportunity of trying alternative bells, but at the time of our test, sadly none were available. For more go to www.rawbrass. co.uk
Remo Infinity Mondo Djembe When Remo launched its Mondo Key-Tuned djembes back in the mid-1990s not only did they come up with a robust, easy to tune, good sounding drum at a time when most traditional ethnic models were poorly made and notoriously difficult to tune, but the djembe’s Fibreskyn synthetic head meant pitch loss due to cold and humidity was a thing of the past. Now Remo’s tireless R&D department have come up with the Infinity Mondo Djembe, which takes the basic Key-Tuned model and moves it up to a whole new level. Standing 25 inches tall with a 14-inch head, the traditional shaped shell is made from Remo’s patented Acousticon recycled wood fibre with a Choco Red Eco-Grain finish – that has the look and feel of exotic wood – and is fitted with a thick rubber base to protect and isolate the shell. The drum head is the company’s newly designed Mondo Skyndeep featuring goat stripe brown graphics while the drum-key tuning lugs screw into new black plastic Contour brackets that are immediately far more comfortable than previous models. The new Skyndeep head is quick to tune and produces crisp, stinging slaps, clear open tones and an extra deep, resonant bass sound from the centre that’s enhanced by the djembe’s extra wide belly. This drum has remarkable projection being somewhat louder than ethnic rope-tune djembes and players who prefer these traditional models will not be disappointed by this winning combination of west African heritage and modern materials. (JN) For more go to www.remo.com
Remo Infinity Mondo Djembe
56 NOVEMBER11 // Jazzwise