Chip Stern

Chip’s Contributions


July/August 2003    Gearhead

Monster Power HTPS 7000 Balanced Power Unit

I've been fascinated by how certain tweaks like high-tech custom power cords and cables, common to high-end audio, can have a profound effect on the resolution, articulation and imaging of amplified instruments. Often the brightness we associate with amplification...


June 2003    Gearhead

Moog Music Etherwave Theremin

People tend to associate the theremin with macabre sound effects-when they think of it at all-because of how Hollywood film-score masters employed it to enhance the dark psychological subtext of movies like Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, Billy Wilder's The...

January/February 2003    Gearhead

Bosphorus Cymbals

The process by which two branches of the Zildjian family ended up in a heated transcontinental competition for roughly 40 years is complicated. But for fans of classic hard bop and acoustic jazz, nothing suffices like the vintage, hand-hammered K. Zildjian...


December 2002    Gearhead

Mesa Walkabout Bass Amplifier

Portability weighs heavily on the minds of gigging bassists, ergo the enduring popularity of solid-state electronics in diminutive packages by such well-regarded makers as Walter Woods, Gallien-Krueger and Acoustic Image. The perceived tradeoff between tone...

September 2002    Gearhead

Korg Triton Studio 88 Workstation/Sampler

Lyle Mays once told me, “I don’t consider each individual synthesizer an instrument. I consider the sonic capabilities of my whole bank of sounds and my sequencer as the instrument. I’ve come to the conclusion that synths are like potatoes: they’re no good...


July/August 2002    Gearhead

Epiphone 1964 John Lee Hooker Sheraton II

When Gibson’s creative point man and chief operating officer Ted McCarty shepherded the development of the original ES-335 semiacoustic electric guitar, I doubt he knew to what degree the versatile instrument would transform the world of possibilities available...


June 2002    Gearhead

Meinl Byzance Cymbals

Over the past few years Meinl has endeavored to join the likes of UFIP, Istanbul, Bosphorus and Wuhan in competing for a piece of the emerging premium-cymbal market, as drummers demonstrate a willingness to pay top dollar for instruments with a handmade...


April 2002    Gearhead

Taylor K22ce Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The K22ce Acoustic-Electric is a gorgeous-looking instrument from Taylor’s Koa Series. The Grand Concert model represents a smaller, lighter, shallower body type than Taylor’s Dreadnaught models (analogous to a 000-series Martin), which makes for a more...


April 2002    Gearhead

A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage Cymbals

Proceeding from where Zildjian left off with last year’s 14-, 15- and 16-inch crashes, the addition of a 20-inch ride, an 18-inch crash and 14-inch hi-hats to the A. Zildjian & Cie Vintage line constitutes an authentic trip down memory lane for those drummers...


April 2002    Gearhead

Yamaha PSR-550 Portable Keyboard

Yamaha’s PSR-550 portable keyboard is a utilitarian concept for those who are space or finance challenged; who need a practice instrument to take on the road or nurture their kids; who desire an eminently affordable means of interfacing with a computer to...


March 2002    Gearhead

AER Acousticube IIa Amp

In the few weeks I got to live with the AER (Audio Electric Research) Acousticube IIa, I came to appreciate the refined sound, musicality and rugged build of this tiny 120-watt dynamo, which unlike many popular archetypes of portable sound boasts something...


November 2001    Gearhead

21-inch K. Constantinople Big Band Ride and 21-inch K. Custom Special Dry Ride

Over the past 30 years, drummers have demonstrated a surprising willingness to pay a premium price for vintage K. Zildjian cymbals. And so, having developed the technology to produce ever-thinner, more malleable rollings of bronze, the creative design team...


September 2001    Gearhead

Taylor PS-10 Acoustic Guitar

Taylor’s PS-10 ($9,358 with case), a top-of-the-line dreadnought from its Presentation Series, is endowed with such endless reserves of acoustic resonance and sheer tone that it ranks with the finest acoustic guitars I’ve ever played—and stands as a stunning...


July/August 2001    Albums

Live at Yoshi's
Pat Martino

Living out an ambitious father's aspirations and his own boyhood dreams, guitarist Pat Azzara's burgeoning talent was so pronounced that by the age of 15 he found his slender frame stretched out horizontally in the back of a hearse, lying on organist Charles...


July/August 2001    Gearhead

Paul Reed Smith McCarty Soap

I was lucky enough to encounter Ted McCarty at the Summer 2000 NAMM Show in Nashville, a frail old gentleman being wheeled around the floor by a doting young lady. I was so moved to see him that I shook his hand and thanked him for all of the great instruments...


April 2001    Gearhead

Acoustic-Electric Bass Ball

In dealing with the notion of bass sounds and bass amplification in jazz, not being a proficient upright player (nor having a righteous upright on hand as a ready reference point), some months ago I turned my attention toward an emerging new category. Acoustic...

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About Chip Stern