This is one of the latest lighting ideas for those reading scores on music stands in dark corners. The unit comprises two switchable LED lights used singularly or as a double, with each attached to two adjustable “swan necks” that are connected to the base which houses three AAA batteries, has a mains connector and is attached by way of a heavily sprung clasp. We tried our sample on a Jazz Music stand (yes this does exist!), clipping it to the top rail. The clasp is well sprung and is made, as is the rest of the product, from a tough plastic compound. However, although there are a couple of rubberised pads, the grip area is very small. We needed two free hands, using one to hold the unit while the other adjusted the swan necks. With almost unlimited adjustment, the light spread is good with no hot spots. But we always seemed to need the double lights in each head, as opposed to using just the single source. Folding down into a neat, compact size for storage, this little Mighty Bright is one item no working musician should leave home without.

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They may not be as well known as the Vic Firth and Promark brands, but these Wincent sticks certainly take some beating. Not new, but newly launched in the UK market, they are evenly balanced and have that ‘quality’ feel. We tried both the ‘round tip’ model and the standard tip ‘XL’. Clearly sticks are down to the personal preference of the player, but for weight and thickness these 55s were, for me, ideal. The Round Tip model was for me the more interesting of the two, as the tip is slightly larger than a normal round tip and gave added volume but retains the same definition and clarity, comparing well with my usual nylon tip models.

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 It seems that double bass pick-ups have been, as it were, coming out of the woodwork in recent years, with the likes of Shertler, Underwood, Fishman and Realist. And now Oxfordshire-based Headway has come up with yet another way of amplifying your db. Set within the bridge the two shielded, circular piezo ceramic cables fit into U shaped slots, one in each of the feet of the bridge. The cables then run down the body of the bass behind the tailpiece and into a nine volt battery in a neat little leather case that is attached by a velcro pad to the back of the tailpiece. This follows on to the jack socket which is equipped with self-adhesive pads and draw ties. Spare velcro pads are supplied, so that wires can be trapped, so as not to touch either the body or the tailpiece of the bass. The circular 360-degree pick-up profile means that this system picks up the most comprehensive collection of vibrations passing through the bridge, maximising the tonal and timbral authenticity and delivering a very punchy, solid and clean sound. There’s no body or background noise and no hum. This pickup system could be as close as it gets to amplifying a bass through acoustic mics. The best thing about the HE2, is it does not taint the natural sound of the bass played acoustically.

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String manufacturer Rotosound has come up with a new range of polymer coated strings they’ve dubbed the ‘Nexus’ collection. Available for electric, acoustic and bass guitars, the marketing blurb tells me that they offer protection from tonal degradation caused by sweat and dirt and by implication have a greater longevity. But perhaps most importantly, behind all this protection the strings retain the tone, clarity and sparkle synonymous with the Rotosound brand. We played through a sample set of electric 10s and while I can’t vouch for the longevity of the strings, it’s clear that the tonal characteristics, the brilliance and the clarity had not in any way been compromised by the black coating. They sang with a wonderfully warm, sweet full tone that jazz players love.

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Running off the mains supply or four AA’s/LR6’s, the four track (two track simultaneous recording) Pocket Studio is ideal for recording rehearsals, gigs or just plain simple ideas. A menu-based digital recorder, it has a surprisingly intuitive interface, which is set alongside a very ‘hands on’ front panel of dedicated level and pan controls. There are two built – in stereo condenser microphones to the front of the unit and two mic/line inputs to the rear, one of which can be switched for different levels of gain, so that an instrument can be recorded directly into the unit.

The Pocket Studio comes with a 1Gb SD card, which can be exchanged for an SDHC card should extra capacity be required for recording gigs, concerts etc. We found the partitioning facility very useful, as it allows cards to be split up into different sessions, each to their own particular length. Equally, the abilty to execute ‘punch ins’ made life considerably easier, as did the two short cut functions: return to zero and return to last recording position. Listening back to tracks is made simple by having a master volume on the speaker/headphone socket and feeding files via USB to computer is now standard fare. Some will frown at the fact that there is no EQ-ing facility onboard, but the simplicity of the Pocket Studio makes for an exceptionally user friendly machine. There is also the vexed question of recording in 16 Bit as opposed to the pro – studio standard of 24 Bit. But hey, I popped this tiny unit into my inside jacket pocket and went off to the beach, where WAV files took on a totally different meaning!

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