Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
 

Archives: January 2006


January 12, 2006

And now here's something we hope you'll _really_ like...

by Chris Randall
 

Okay, I've been a professional musician for over 15 years, and I didn't think there was anything left to surprise me. But check this out: I ordered some new bass strings from Elderly Instruments last week. I've never ordered from Elderly before, even though I knew that the company existed. But I wanted a set of the black nylon Tru-Bass Rotosound strings, and they were the only place in the United States that carried them that wasn't a mass-market retailer (e.g. Musician's Friend and their ilk; I never buy from those sorts of companies if I can find someone else that has the product I'm looking for.) What I didn't know, and didn't discover from Elderly's... well... elderly web site, is that this company is serious business.


To wit: a rather largish color catalog came with the order. This catalog is actually significantly bigger than the 30-odd Musician's Friend catalogs I get every year. It's as big as any four of them put together, and it is chock-fucking-full of weird shit. They have a $130 professional concert-grade penny whistle. They have several harmonicas that cost multi-hundreds of dollars. But where Elderly comes out on top, far ahead of any other retailer I'm aware of, is ukuleles. Now, I was born in Hawaii (Army brat, doncha know...) so the uke has a special place in my heart. Not special enough that I ever devoted more than, say, two thought cycles to its existence, but special inasmuch as it's from Hawaii, and I'm from Hawaii, and that's kind of cool.


If you click that link above, you'll be whisked away to Ukulele Heaven. Elderly actually has, in stock (free shipping for orders over $99) one hundred and eight different NEW ukuleles. Never mind their vintage used models. I had no idea there was a market for vintage ukes, but come to find out, Elderly has a 40s Martin 3-M soprano for a mind-bending $3200. Or take the 1929 National resonator ukulele for the skull-crushing sum of $3950. Now, I realize those are US dollars, and what with the Chinese dumping all their t-bills, they aren't worth the paper they're printed on, but even so, that's a lot of coin for a four-stringed instrument not made by Stradivarius.


So, do yourself a favor and order the Elderly Instruments paper catalog. It is full to the brim with strange instruments. Dulcimers, harps, concertinas, autoharps, some really stellar guitars, and, of course, ukuleles.


 
January 12, 2006

NAMM Rumours again...

by Chris Randall
 

A tidbit only, this little nugget from my favorite boutique manufacturer, Future-Retro. On the front page of their site, in with the NAMM booth news, is this: "we will be displaying all our current products
and the debut of our new analog XS prototype expander." Now, with the distinct lack of capitalization, it's hard to tell what that implies. Analog XS, I can get behind. "Prototype," we'll assume, is actually not in the name of the product. "Expander" implies expansion on a previous product. Maybe an extra voice synth for the Revolution? Who knows. Whatever it is, it'll be the shit, because Future-Retro is making it, and they're the shit.

 
January 12, 2006

DIY Minimoog, round 28 (fight!)

by Chris Randall
 
 

The ever-charming and handsome Jeff Laity thought maybe I should mention the DIY Minimoog thread over at the Prodigy-Pro forums. If you're not familiar with the way things work over there, someone shows up with a piece of vintage kit and then a bunch of these extremely talented and knowledgable EE professionals jump in and start making hay of it, and the next thing you know, you have a bill of materials, some PCBs, and a handy forum for help. This is how the world got the GSSL and 1176 DIY projects, among several others.


They seem to be deciding to take on the Minimoog, as you'll see in the thread. This sort of thing is normally outside the Prodigy-Pro area of expertise, as the forum is heavily slanted to pro audio, not synths. But it'll be intriguing to see if it plays out to the end. Either way, if you're thinking of taking on a project of this magnitude, there are already a bunch of good suggestions and links to information you'll need. This will be one to watch.


 
January 11, 2006

Something new from Neve at NAMM!!??!?

by Chris Randall
 

If you take a gander at the AMS-Neve site, you'll note the big countdown clock, which bears a striking resemblance to the clocks you often see in techno-thriller movies which say exactly how much time the hero is going to take (minus a couple seconds) to solve whatever large-magnitude problem is facing him/her at any given moment. So, either something is going to blow all to shit, or Neve has something undoubtedly cool up their sleeves. Anyone have a hint?

 
January 11, 2006

Scoring contest...

by Chris Randall
 



Let me get something straight right now. If I could enter this, I'd not be telling you about it. But since I can't, being an old fogey and all, I'll gladly put it up here for your informational pleasure. Turner Classic Movies runs a contest every year called the Young Composers Competition. The prize is $10K and huggies from Hans Zimmer or something along those lines. You must be 18-35 to enter, and you have to be able to actually score music (that is, you must read & write notation) to win the grand prize, but it's not terribly problematic otherwise. You pick one of the four 1-minute clips of the available silent movie, and write a bit for it.


So, the contest page is here. Go forth, and garner the fame and fortune due you.

 

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