THE DIGITECH SDRUM: THE DRUMMER IN A STOMPBOX

Drum machines have been around for decades. While initially maligned for the purported threat of putting actual drummers out of work, time has proven that they have helped birth electronic-based modern music and can be useful tools in the studio or live performances. Forward-thinking drummers welcome these devices as part of their creative palette and arsenal. Generally, traditional hardware drum and rhythm machines tend to intimidate guitarists unfamiliar with an actual drum kit’s layout, with each drum head corresponding to a pad or button.

 

DigiTech’s SDRUM Strummable Drums pedal is a godsend for guitarists with a basic knowledge of drum rhythms but still crave the nuances that an actual human drummer provides, and all in a guitarist-friendly stompbox that will not look out of place in a pedalboard. With only two pads to deal with, and the option to program patterns with a guitar or bass, rhythm programming has never been easier (and creativity-inducing).

The most basic way to program a rhythm in the SDRUM (rhymes with “strum”, ya dig?) is to simply tap the intended beat on the dedicated Kick and Snare soft buttons. When played back, the SDRUM automatically adds hi-hats and cymbals. Twisting and pushing the two encoder knobs is when the fun really begins. For example, setting the left encoder to SW (swing) can transform your beat to a bluesy shuffle. From there, twisting the encoder again to Simple, the unlabelled moderate, or Busy adds various degrees of expressiveness including subtle grace notes on the snare sound. Twisting the right encoder knob introduces many hi-hat and ride cymbal variations. The sound selection is a modest 5 (with an ALT mode), but given the extra, and quite musical, flurries the SDRUM produces to even the most basic groove, you can deal with practically any modern music genre. You can record separate Verse, Chorus, and Bridge patterns. You can even get a lot out a basic pattern by pressing the respective buttons again and you will get variations (soft/loud dynamics, rimshots in place of snare hits) for each part. You can even have different tempos for each song section. Tapping the footswitch allows you to shift song parts accented by rolls; holding it will stop the song. SDRUM can hold 36 “songs”.

But what is the “Strummable Drum” bit all about? Well, if you are still intimidated by the Kick and Snare buttons, you can use your guitar (or bass) to input kick/snare data. Simply calibrate the bottom strings to the Kick and the higher strings to the Snare, then strum the bottom strings to trigger the kick sound and the higher strings for the snare (bassists familiar with the pop-and-slap technique already know this analogy). Depending on how versatile your rhythm chops are, you CAN come up with non-standard drum patterns. The SDRUM will determine the appropriate complementary hi-hat/ride patterns leading to fresh grooves, and again, twisting the encoder knobs will give you countless dynamics. Aiming for a 4/4 pattern with multiple syncopations? The SDRUM will be right there with you. You change the tempo by tapping on the Tempo button or by twisting the tempo knob.

While aimed at guitarists and bassists, you can even assign it to someone else. Program a rhythm in, and let your musical partner twist and push the knobs for on-the-fly expressiveness.

The DigiTech SDRUM is currently available at our Lyric Horseshoe branch. Check out our fresh-out-of-the-box demo here for a closer look and listen at the basics of what is actually a deep, and musical, drum-machine-in-a-stompbox.

-by Francis Brew Reyes

LYRIC WELCOMES XIAN LIM TO THE ENDORSERS ROSTER

Lyric welcomes Xian Lim to the Lyric Endorsers list. Lyric Legal Dept Head/Operations Manager Maisie Ann Cristobal-Agustin co-signed new contracts with Xian along with Lyric Artist Relations Officer Kurt Floresca and Lyric Online Marketing’s Francis Brew Reyes as witnesses at the Lyric Music Studios.

While known primarily as an actor and singer, Xian has also had classical piano training and can play the trombone, and 15 other musical instruments. A couple of years ago, he held a concert showcasing his skills as a multi-instrumentalist. Xian even bought a Bachendorff cello from Lyric because he wanted to learn it.

Xian intends to further amp up his musical side this year and reached out to Lyric for support. He will be using Harman home studio-related products (including the JBL Eon One Pro and AKG Lyra),  a Yamaha APX acoustic-electric guitar, and a Kawai baby grand piano. Xian is currently constructing his home studio where he plans to record special online performances.

Welcome to the Lyric family, Xian!

THE MAGIC OF ELIXIR STRINGS: A PLAYER’S PERSPECTIVE

by Francis Brew Reyes (guitarist for The Dawn)

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the guitar string is the only component that unequivocally matters the most on a guitar or bass. You can have the most transparent boutique overdrive, the best pickups, the most technologically advanced effects that can produce ultra-lush verbs and brew coffee, the most kickass tube amp since the dawn of time… all of these essentially are just amplifying and enhancing the initial signal from a vibrating string. Guitar strings are really the equivalent of vocal cords (and how you sing or speak through them is another matter, of course).

After you decide what string gauge and material works for you, you tend to forget about it. The only other consideration is when to change a set; no strings last forever after all.

However, Elixir Strings do bring you a bit closer to forever (in string life terms that is. Kinda like dog years, for strings).

I have to admit that I personally was not too concerned about Elixirs in the beginning and was quite happy–for decades–with my then-preferred brand. I know what I need: nickel-plated .011-.049s.  String maintenance wasn’t much of a problem either since I would clean the strings immediately after playing, whether it’s for two hours or two minutes. I can make a set last, including gigs, rehearsals, and daily non-essential noodling, for two weeks (three if I play less) before the plain strings start losing their tonal and physical sheen, the intonation starts to go awry, and then it’s off to the music store. And I would pray to God: pleeeeease, make them available dear Lord because .010s don’t feel quite right etc etc. One day, Divine Intervention and music store inventory went to the toilet on the same hour and I basically had to buy an Elixir set in a Lyric branch. At almost thrice my regular brand’s price, I gulped and wished I didn’t spend on so many beers the previous night. But I had to take the plunge; rehearsals were coming up and I tend to over-bend on .010s due to nerves and adrenaline.

It was a set of PolyWebs, .011-.049 of course. I had to get used to the smooth coated wound strings; tonally they also had a tiny bit less treble response which initially troubled me but eventually didn’t really have any adverse effect specially live (a tiny almost unnoticeable tweak on a stompbox or the amp and I was good to go. Guitarists, you know what I mean). Along with my daily clean-after-playing habit, that set—which also suffered whammy abuse—lasted three months. The plain strings still looked and felt smooth but my multiple abusive drunken pick scrapes shredded the coating on the D string, which I must say, still sounded good. A gentler player could make the set last even longer (and I could have if I checked my occasional over-exuberance) and I have a story related to that, which I will get to in a bit.

What I thought was an expensive set of strings turned out to be cost-efficient: instead of buying 5 or 6 sets for three months, I knew I could survive with one set of Elixirs. Gone too was the stress of worrying if i had enough sets on reserve; barring extreme abuse or an accident of God or a careless roadie, I can comfortably survive on four Elixir sets a year on my main guitar. How a set of Elixirs lasts with you is of course dependent on your  playing style and maintenance habits but definitely they will last longer than normal brand-name strings. The consistency is magical, and truly, it does wonders for your medium-term personal economics as well (i.e. more beer or whatever).

Currently, I use Optiwebs for their crispier and brighter tone. If you are curious, here’s how Elixir coated strings are designed.

Now for the related make-it-last-even-longer story. For an anniversary gig of The Dawn at the Music Museum, I asked permission from Lyric if I could use one of the new Yamaha Revstar electrics for the gig. I loaded a set of Optiweb .011s (Yamahas are shipped with Elixirs btw; the Revstar RS820CR was shipped with .010s.) for rehearsals a week before the gig date. I played the way I play and returned the guitar. That was 14 months ago. I’ve picked up that particular Revstar maybe five or six times around the office since then and the strings still sound and feel brand new. Normal strings would have started corroding a week after the gig, even without being played. In fact, my other guitars at home are all Elixir’d, including a Strat that I have retuned to standard and Eb and back six or seven times over the past half-year. The strings stay in tune each time (and let’s include string bends and whammy dives and pull-ups).

If you are already a regular Elixir user, I apologize for this boring essay. I would like to remind you to buy LEGITIMATE Elixir Strings only from Lyric stores; we are the official distributors for the Philippines. There are fakes being sold for cheaper–the fake packaging is disturbingly accurate– and the quality is so poor that they’re practically unuseable. Avoid being scammed and just purchase Elixirs from Lyric.

JVS VISITS LYRIC

The Lyric Main Branch in Horseshoe Drive hosted a day-long private showcase for the staff of one of our most valued product distribution dealers JVS.

Although its base of operations is in Bacolod, JVS handles the pro-audio and MI needs across the Visayas-Mindanao region through their branches.

Our product specialists– along with Lyric President Alma Joy Cristobal, Lyric General Manager Bel Sayson, Lyric Dealers Operation Manager Acela Fiedacan, and Dealers Operation Staff Eileen Racaza– were more than happy to update the JVS Team led by Fely and Cathi Jornadal on the latest products available through Lyric.

JACK THAMMARAT: ASIAN GUITAR HERO

“I don’t  have good  technique…”

The comment elicited a few gasps of disbelief, even indignation, from the enthusiastic 300plus strong crowd that showed up for Jack Thammarat’s Lyric and Yamaha-sponsored guitar clinic in Robinson’s Magnolia Momento Hall.  Is this guy kidding, modest, or humble-bragging? He then elaborates a bit with a hint of an embarrassed smile: “My fast alternate picking isn’t very good.” He plays a short alternate-picked lick, very well in fact, then stops. The soft-spoken Thai virtuoso then played to his technical strengths.

With his mastery of cascading hybrid picked lines delivered with elegance and clarity, blinding yet fluid speed, and a tuneful no-note-wasted approach, his self-perceived lack of good technique in a specific area is a moot point. He uses Ultex Jazz III picks for punchy single notes, but so developed is his hybrid picking that you can’t tell whether the pick or his fingers are producing the fat arpeggiated tones he easily coaxes from the strings.

Gear-wise, Thammarat flew in with just a Macbook Air for his backing tracks and a small Rockboard pedalboard which housed a mini-volume pedal, a boost pedal, a wireless system, and an HX Stomp multi-fx. He uses the HX Stomp not only for chorusing and stereo delays—the crystalline tones he admits are inspired by Eric Johnson—but also to switch channels for the Yamaha THR100HD amp head. One channel is set up for clean, the other for distortion; he also uses the amp channels’ respective onboard reverbs. For solos, he uses the BB boost pedal he’s had for years (“Just to raise the volume a little, when needed”).  He used four off-the-rack Yamaha electrics: 3 Revstars and a Pacifica. The resulting tones were loud and huge, and never grating or harsh. He also backs off the gain a bit because “too much high gain feels like your fingers are not doing anything.”

Jack warming up with a Yamaha Revstar

The workshop itself featured Jack’s most well-known songs including “Mr Frontman”, “On The Way”, and “Falling In Love Again” plus a dynamic take on Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Asked about technique specifics, Thammarat says, “I hear the melody in my head first: I have to hear it, and then I try to develop the technique to play the melody.” He proceeded to scat while playing lines on the guitar. Does he sing? “Only at home!” Prodded by the audience, he continues, “This is the first time I will do it in a workshop…” What followed was a superb vocal/guitar rendition of Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” While Thammarat’s more well-known version of the Hendrix classic is smoother and city-slick, his impromptu performance was closer to its r&b roots; a revelation indeed.

“You know this, right?” He plays the infamous and challenging “Cliffs of Dover” pedal-point lick; the technique required is the basis for some of his cascading improvisations. Thammarat says that in general, he avoids a step-wise scalar approach and breaks up scales into different intervals. He plays a blazing run all across the fretboard. “That’s just pentatonic.” A few souls “protest” that it isn’t but Jack patiently plays the run again which is based on a series of inter-connected pentatonic shapes. He also says he does not necessarily play off the parent chord right away. “If I’m on a G minor chord, I don’t play the G minor scale. I play maybe the Bb major arpeggio (on top of it), which is an inversion. It is the same notes, the same scale, but from a different angle.” (This approach implies harmonies on top of the parent chord; using a Bb arpeggio on a G minor chord, for example, emphasizes the seventh and ninth on the G minor, producing a Gm9 tonality) In compositions, he adds modulations and shifts in key for both the improvisational challenge and harmonic variety. In a special clinic for Lyric Branch Managers the day before the main workshop, he revealed, “I play rock, and I love jazz, but I don’t want to be a jazz guitarist. But I learn something like this (plays John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”) to improve my playing. Rock musicians only talk to rock musicians, jazz musicians only talk to jazz musicians. But for me, it’s all music.”

Jack also admitted to being a John Petrucci fanatic (“But I forget how to play it now!”) and quoted “Glasgow Kiss” albeit all too briefly. The workshop ended with a three way jam with a fan and Tanya Markova’s Isabel Ole.

Post-dinner, Jack met with friends local guitar warriors Fidel De Jesus—himself a hybrid picking virtuoso—and Fayeed Tan. The conversation went the usual route involving music and guitars.

What was revelatory, and perhaps the best lesson unexpressed during the workshop, was Jack saying, “Life is not just music.” It was not necessarily a music lesson, but it manifests in the romanticism that his fans vibe on. On Jack’s first night in Manila the normal exchange of pleasantries happened of course: would you like to try Filipino food? Have you been to Manila before? Asked if he has a girlfriend or a family, he almost immediately grabs his smartphone and looks for a video. “This is my daughter.” He says proudly. “She is 8 years old. It was her first time to go to a camp, and she’s happy and scared. But happy.  Look, those are her friends (smiles).”

His personal life informs what he plays, and he lives it. A female Lyric employee remarked, “I don’t know anything about guitar. But what he’s playing, it feels so good.” And that is probably the most important lesson of all.

THE YAMAHA REVSTAR SERIES: WHEN MOTORCYCLES INSPIRE GUITARS

Yamaha can do no wrong. When it comes to innovation and high quality, the company makes no distinction between its incredible range of products from concert pianos to motorcycles. This is a company that is revered by musicians and motorists. U2 drummer Larry Mullen once joked that when Yamaha contacted him about giving him something for his decades-long association with the company, his first thought was, “Yes! A motorbike!”

Still, developing an instrument that links Yamaha’s legacy of musical and motoring worlds is a pleasant surprise; one that would lead you to think, “Oh yeah, why didn’t they think of it from the start?”

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Designed with Yamaha motorcycles as an aesthetic reference, the Revstar series of electric guitars is that link. The Revstar line has garnered numerous design awards since its introduction in 2016 and not only does the line-up look cool: each model from the basic RS320 to the RSP20  Professional is designed for comfortable playing ergonomics and tones that you can push to roar like, well, a finely-tuned Yamaha motorcycle.

Revstars share an offset body shape with pointy horns, a belly cut, and round bottom that variate on Yamaha’s own iconic SG/SBG series (the SBG has been revived, but should you see an old used one from the late 70s/early 80s, go buy it!) and a pair of control knobs. All necks are set-in with a slim three-per-side “Gumby” headstock adorned with a metal Yamaha logo.  It adds a touch of class to even the meat-and-potatoes 320 which is equipped with a pair of humbuckers and tune-o-matic stop tailpiece. In fact, the 320’s playability and fat tones is an excellent indicator for the entire line’s quality.

All Revstars (save for the 320) feature Yamaha’s proprietary Dry Switch which can be accessed via the push-pull tone knob. It acts as a bass roll-off circuit when engaged (knob pulled up) to simulate the clarity of a single coil minus the associated hum and buzz; it is not a coil-tap or a coil-split, but something entirely different. The result is subtlebut  the lows do become clearer. There is no output drop so there is no need to say, compensate by turning up your amp or pedal’s gain knob as one might do when switching from a humbucker to a single coil.

Up the ladder is the RS502 which has soapbar-style single coils that deliver a throaty throttle-y tone even at high gain settings.

The RS502 has a TonePros wraparound adjustable bridge; its sister the 502T has a tune-o-matic with an extended aluminum tailpiece that looks like a hip motorcycle gas tank. The 502s on up feature body binding, matte finishes, and hand-brushed hardware including TonePros bridges (the 502T has a gloss finish that contrasts nicely with the brushed tailpiece).

The RS720B features a Bigsby-licensed vibrato bridge and locking tuners; admittedly, the “faded denim” finish may not be to everyone’s taste (it does however point back to the Revstar’s motorcycle lifestyle fashion aesthetic).

The RS820CR features an anodized aluminum scratchplate and gloss racing stripes that are simply gorgeous against either the grey or “rust rat” finishes.

At the top of the Revstar garage is the RSP20CR which is a higher-grade 820CR with a copper scratchplate and Japanese craftsmanship (the other ‘Stars are made in Indonesia) and heftier price tag. The CR by the way stands for ‘Café Racer.’

Whichever Revstar catches your eyes and ears (and your budget) is nearly secondary to every model’s fast comfortable action. The build quality is consistent throughout the entire line, and you feel the care and precision engineering as if they were actually motorcycles.The Revstar line is a nod to Yamaha’s creative range. It may seem to be a self-referential Yamaha tribute, but thankfully, these ‘Stars are as reliable as anything the company has produced throughout its amazing history. There’s a lot of form in the Revstars, and also a huge heap of functionality…but that is what Yamaha does, isn’t it?

Lyric supporting the 14th COG Go Beyond Event

#LyricPH lent its support once again for Church Of God (COG) World Mission’s Go Beyond which is on its 14th year and held at SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

Lyric brands including #Yamaha#HarmanExperienceAPac (#AKG#DigitechByHarman #Soundcraft #JBL), and #Peavey are on display.

Go Beyond is ongoing until June 21, 2018; everyone is welcome to visit the 3-day event.

How To Generate Feedback…Freq-uently: a look at the DigitechFreqOut Natural Feedback Creator

By Francis Reyes

Feedback… isn’t it amazing? Play a note, hold it, and a screaming rainbow blooms from your fingers (no, we’re not talking about someone critiquing your performance. That’s a different set of fireworks). Captured on record on The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine,” harnessed to an art form by Jimi Hendrix, tamed by Adrian Belew, and feared by many a guitarist suffering from poor monitor mixes, feedback is one of the most exciting textures ever to come out from the electric guitar-and-amplifier vocabulary. In the right hands, this dissonant modern audio anomaly can be tweaked into an extension of a melody or–in its untamed form—embraced for what it is as a glorious electric primal scream.

There are a few elements that have to be in place: enough gain or volume from an amplifier, and the acoustics and hotspots of a venue where a guitarist can coax “tuned” overtones at specific distances from the amp. Effects pedals that produce artificial feedback without distortion and unsightly poses from guitarists looking for that spot near the speaker cone at any volume have been around for years but have so far not been essential components of many pedalboards.

The DigitechFreqOut Natural Feedback Creator may just change that. To begin with, the FreqOut is essentially part of the legendary Whammy family and shares the same compact footprint as its brother the treadle-less Whammy Ricochet. The brushed metal finish looks hip and let’s face it, we DO buy pedals sometimes because they look cool. The feedback can be tuned to 2nds, 3rds, 5ths, and octaves and benefits greatly from the impeccable pitch-shifting Whammy engine. The footswitch can be used in latch on-off modes: with the mini-toggle set to Momentary On, you can apply feedback whenever you please by stepping on the footswitch (the Ricochet has the same treadle-free operation for pitch shifting) and releasing your foot to end it. You can play, say, four separate chords and apply feedback after each or whichever chord you choose. With Momentary Off, the footswitch acts as a straightup effects on-off and the FreqOut will generate feedback automatically after every note you play, again at the designated interval you choose. A row of LEDS indicates visually how the feedback “blooms.”

The concentric Gain/Onset knobs control how loud you want the feedback and the rate where it creeps in (or out?). Set to light Gain, the feedback does feel organic and, yep, sounds natural. Turn it up and the resulting tone is flute-y with enough sustain to generate E-Bow-like lines. In fact, setting the Dry mini-toggle to Off removes your direct guitar signal, leaving only the feedback; you can do spooky Theremin-esque melodies. Guitar-playing Dr.Who fans will, well, freak out.

As with the Whammy series, the FreqOut is designed to be first in line in a pedalboard directly after your guitar; putting a gain stage before it may just, er, freak out its tracking (but then again, hey, why not try it anyway?). It’s true bypass, so tone-sucking is virtually non-existent (sucking is on you, so keep practicing). It works best on single notes; with chords, you can eke out the feedback note of your choice by plucking a particular string within the voicing just a touch louder than the rest. Adding an overdrive after the FreqOut specially in its lower Gain stages is welcome, and you get a facsimile of an amp ready to scream… without painful volume levels. Add a delay or reverb and the sonic possibilities are extended further. And if you have a JamMan looper…

Whether as a “normal” feedback generator or as a textural colour, the FreqOut is a fun little box. It won’t turn you into a Hendrix or Belew—and God help you if you think any pedal can—but you can explore some of their territories and find your own thing like a whisper that can scream.

Lyric welcomes Peavey

The largest electronics audio brand in the world has finally come to the largest music store in the Philippines!
Peavey Electronics is now exclusively available in all Lyric branches! Expect iconic products such as the 6505 guitar amps and Impulse series to appear at your nearest Lyric store.Окраска стен

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