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The Zildjian A Custom range was introduced to offer a contemporary alternative to the company’s longstanding Avedis series of cymbals, which have been a keen favourite amongst percussionists since their introduction. Zildjian did not introduce the A custom series to offer a departure from their signature sound; it is more an additional option which allows musicians to fine tune their sound.


The A Custom series offers musicians a range of choices in varied diameters to further hone their signature sound. The Fast Crash and EFX have experienced much commercial success, becoming popular lines. Other options include the Crash, Medium Crash and Projection Crash.


This choice allows drummers to mix and match their sound, creating a bespoke drum kit which is truly unique. As in true Zildjian style, the cymbals are made adhering to their traditional formula of 80 per cent copper and 20 percent tin, with the occasional glimmer of silver.


So if the formula used in manufacture is very similar to the Avedis range, what is it that makes the sound different? Well this is not so easy to determine, because of course Zildjian keep their exact methods of production very close to their chests, and so they should. It is the way these materials are mixed however, rather than a change in the ratio of materials used, which creates the higher pitched sound.


In terms of aesthetics, the Zildjian A Custom 14” Crash cymbals have a brilliant finish and have been buffed, to quote the official Zildjian catalogue, “to a warm golden hue”. The cymbals’ lathing consists of neat bands, which start at the centre of the cymbal and work outwards towards the edge. Under stage lights, or even just the lights in your garage, the lathing bands create a shimmering effect which is magnified when the cymbals are struck.


What about the sound I hear you cry. The 14” is of course a very fast talking cymbal, although it is still able to produce a significant volume of sound which belies its small size. Compared to other crashes you may have had the pleasure to strike in the past, there is no denying the Zildjian A Custom 14” is relatively high pitched, but despite that, the sound is full, strong and by no means brittle. 


For a beautiful looking crash cymbal which enables you to create a sound very much of your own, the Zildjian A Custom 14” Crash is fast enough and loud enough to do your talking for you. For the very best prices, take a look at the Zildjian A Custom 14” Crash here at Instrumania.

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The Marshall AS50D amp first saw the light of day back in 2007 as the successor to the AS50R, and is still my practice amp of choice to this day.


As a simple 50 watt combo amp, you might ask what makes the Marshall AS50D part of my practice setup, and it’s actually quite simple. It’s brilliant.


It features a redesigned tweeter, digital chorus and reverb, and an anti-feedback notch filter. The amp also has anti-feedback controls which allow you to play at higher volumes without feedback, and a good old fashioned Marshall master volume control.


This amp has enough for power for most non- professional players I'd say. it's perfect as a practice amp, and the DI output means you could use it in a gig situation. On it's own, it would be fine for a pub sized venue, but not much bigger.


I almost always use my schoolboy Ibanez electro-acoustic with the Marshall AS50D, and was very pleased with the full sound that it was able to produce. The amp is not noisy at all, even with treble full up there's only a faint hiss. Though advertised as an acoustic amplifier, it can also handle electric quite well. Though after testing a little Overdrive i doubt it could handle anything too rocky/distorted.


The best feature about the amp is the Twin channels, which allows the amp to support two people (me with a DigiTech Jamman, which means a microphone and guitar take one amp input) and the lead singer. The chorus & digital reverb can also be assigned by channel, so you may have reverb on the guitar and not on the microphone or the other way around. Both these channels also have separate volume and bass and treble controls on them as well.


When it comes to reliability and durability you know you can rely on Marshall to produce a sturdy amp. I’ve already had a few mishaps with the amp yet it’s withheld the abuse brilliantly.


If you are in the market for a well priced acoustic combo amplifier, which can take a few punches yet still offer a pure crisp sound. You’d be crazy to look at anything other than the Marshall AS50D. Check out the Marshall AS50D’s product page on Instrumania today!

 

Wireless guitar systems have come a long way; a hell of a long way! Traditional analogue wireless systems were flakey at best, and at worst, pretty abysmal. In terms of reliability they were probably equivalent to the British weather, although at the moment we really can’t complain too much about that. As the years have gone by analogue technology has been superseded by the digital age, bringing with it a whole new breed of wireless guitar systems.

The beauty of a wireless system is the added movement it allows you on stage. If you prefer to get up close and personal with your adoring fans then this is the perfect opportunity. However, traditionally this freedom of movement does come at the cost of sound quality. The digital technology used in the Line 6 Relay G30 eradicates this issue, with a whole array of features designed specifically to fine tune your tone. Digital technology ensures the sound you hear is the sound the guitar makes. It sounds simple, but by cutting out all interference the guitarist is left with an instrument that provides a sharp, precise tone.

If you are determined to experience the freedom of going wireless, digital really is the best way to go. Traditional analogue systems can prove to be more trouble than they are worth, with future FCC rulings likely to shift devices around in the analogue realm and cause interference with various other devices. With the Line 6 Relay G30 no such problems exist, as the digital channel lock technology that comes with the product allows you to make an unshakable connection between receiver and transmitter.

Another string to the digital wireless guitar system’s bow is just how compact and easy it is to use. Simply place it next to your guitar pedals and away you go. All the controls you need are easy to access and you can switch between them quickly with the mere touch of a button. The product is also durable, which is important given the bumps and scrapes it is likely to experience whilst you are on the road travelling up and down to gigs.

If you’re the sort of musician who likes a good strut whilst blasting out your crowd pleasers, the Line 6 Relay G30 digital wireless guitar system could be the perfect bit of kit for you. And you can buy it online for a great price here at Instrumania.         

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Before we start, I have a confession. Back when I first began pestering my Mum and Dad to buy me a guitar, I was bought a basic model travel guitar from a cheap local music shop. After about a week of play it, I hated it and refused to practice on it, instead borrowing my friends Squier Stratocaster. Now some 11 years on, I meet my old enemy. But this time things were different...much different.


The Hofner Shorty Electric Travel Guitar was nothing like my schoolboy nemesis. Sure it’s a low cost Chinese import but it doesn’t really show. It has a nice basswood neck, the body is finished well comes with decent gig bag and cable.


It does feel a little weird as the balance is off compared to a normal electric guitar and can be a bit awkward to play at first. It took me some time to get used to it.
Where it really gets interesting is when you start to play. It sounds much better than I expected. The humbucker is loud and bright, and has to be one of the most responsive guitars I’ve played especially at this price range. Throw on a few pedals and you’d be amazed at the tone that you can produce. After a bit of fiddling I even managed to run a few riffs and licks in a clean 60’s tone that I love.


The action on the strings is tremendous and the pickup is just as good, so feel free to put your shredding hat on and go for it. From sheer play-ability, and tonality aspect, the Hofner is miles ahead of its counterparts.


I didn’t think I would ever say this about a travel guitar but I genuinely love the Hofner Shorty. Not because it is easy to travel with but because out of all the guitars in this sort of price range I've ever played, I’ve never played anything that sounds as good and plays as well as the Hofner Shorty. Quite simply, the Hofner does the job it was designed to do and it does it well.  


If you are in the market for a low cost travel electric guitar, that sounds great, offers a nice bright tone and not just “another guitar”, you have to check out the Hofner Shorty Travel Guitar model, a great axe for the intrepid travellers amongst us.

If we are being 100% honest, you are probably not that excited about buying a guitar tuner pedal but let me tell you something. Step one of sounding awesome, is to get your gear set up and in tune. A pedal tuner really is one piece of kit you need in your life. "Okay" I hear you say..."so which is the best pedal tuner?" Well if only it were that simple. There are a whole host of pedals available...but here we’re going to talk about the 3 guitar tuner pedals widely regarded as the best around.

 


Boss TU-3 Compact Chromatic Tuner


The Boss TU-3 tuner can be seen on stages everywhere. Boss are widely known for having legendary stomp pedal quality and is certainly built to last. Housed in a tank-tough stompbox body, the TU-3 has a bright LED meter that really does well against glare, even outdoors.


On really nice feature is the Accu-Pitch Sign function which provides a nice virtual “thumbs up” when tuning is done.

 


TC Electronic Polytune


A successor to the extremely popular original Polytune, The TC Electronic Polytune Mini has a great advantage of being one of the smallest pedal tuners on the market so you can be sure it’s going to fit on even the most cramped pedalboard. The top reason of using a polyphonic tuner like the TC Mini is that it allows you to strum all 6 strings and instantly see which is out of tune. Though the pedal is tiny, it does have the drawback of being unable to be battery powered due to its compact size.

 


Korg Pitchblack Chromatic


The Korg Pitchblack chromatic pedal tuner, with large LED display, is my personal tuner of choice and a must-have item for the serious guitarist or bassist. The combination of high precision tuning, excellent display and advanced functionality make it an easy choice for me. Featuring a tough aluminium die cast body, you know this pedal was built to last. Another great feature is the tuning guide that indicates whether your instrument is sharp or flat so you are always able to tune quickly and accurately on stage.


Whichever pedal tuner you choose has to be the right fit for you and your style. Check out the tuners above and let us know your thoughts.

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