Chip Stern

Chip’s Contributions


May 2005    Gearhead

B.Bo Butterbass Fretless Bass Guitar

It takes a very special kind of imagination to reexamine accepted paradigms of instrument design and to come up with enhancements and improvements that aren't merely cosmetic but represent a totality of artistic innovation and musical craftsmanship-with...


March 2005    Gearhead

K Custom Dry Complex Ride Cymbals

One size definitely does not fit all with cymbals-one drummer's Alpo might very well be another rhythm player's Chateaubriand. I raise this point because these two newest 22-inch additions to Zildjian's K Custom line of specialized ride cymbals are so far...

January/February 2005    Gearhead

Paiste Signature Silver Mellow Ride and Full Crash

Paiste's Traditional and New Signature lines of premium cymbals employ the company's proprietary Signature cast bronze alloy and a variety of hand-hammering, machine assisted hand-hammering and machine-hammering techniques to approximate the dark tonalities...


December 2004    Gearhead

Mega Boogie Walkabout/Scout Bass Combo

In an enthusiastic review of the Mesa Walkabout hybrid bass amp (JazzTimes, December 2002), I noted its tonal accuracy, timbral flexibility and dynamic aplomb. I also alluded to the fact that a jazz bassist's concept of portability may best be defined as...


November 2004    Gearhead

Sabian HHX Manhattan Jazz Cymbals

At a time when Paiste and Zildjian have devoted considerable resources toward recapturing the dark sonic archetypes associated with the traditional over-hammered K. Zildjian-style cymbal, the folks at Sabian have very determinedly marched to the beat of...


November 2004    Gearhead

Drummer's World Nesting Drum Kit

Issues pertaining to portability continue to vex working drummers in the new millennium. And while some novel solutions are musical, such as variations on the frame drum (like the Arbiter Flats and those Remo PTS pre-tuned heads of some years back), and...


September 2004    Gearhead

Paiste New Signature Dark Energy Cymbals

One of the most radical postulations in the field of astrophysics concerns a mysterious phenomenon astronomers have dubbed dark energy-an antigravity effect Albert Einstein included as a "cosmological constant" in his theory of general relativity, and which...


September 2004    Gearhead

Carvin Allan Holdsworth HF2 Fatboy Guitar

In that brief interval following World War II and just preceding the introduction of the Fender Telecaster and the Gibson Les Paul, the electric guitar was essentially an archtop acoustic instrument: carved from solid tone woods, retrofitted with magnetic...


May 2004    Gearhead

Zildjian K. Custom Session Cymbals; Special Dry Crashes

Times change and musical tastes tend to run in cycles. Whereas 20 or 30 years ago drummers were demanding heavier, more penetrating styles of cymbals to cope with the ever-escalating volume of rock, funk and fusion, modern drummers seem to be gravitating...


March 2004    Gearhead

Yamaha John Patitucci Signature Electric bass

There is much to admire in the superb workmanship and surfeit of tone-shaping options in this upgraded edition of acoustic-electric virtuoso John Patitucci's signature instrument-the Yamaha TRB JP2 Electric Bass. Opening up the case and taking in the luminous...


January/February 2004    Gearhead

Parker Fly Mojo Guitar

I'm not sure the Parker Fly Mojo guitar is for everybody, but I'm damn sure I've never played anything quite like it. After an ever-too-brief visit with the Mojo, I was left with vivid impressions of a thoughtfully conceived instrument that combines aspects...


December 2003    Gearhead

Peavey KB 5 Keyboard Amp

When it comes to addressing the day-to-day needs of working musicians, Hartley Peavey's Meridian, Miss.-based megalopolis has long been at the forefront of bang-for-your-buck performance, managing in the process to demonstrate to domestic manufacturers how...


November 2003    Gearhead

K. Zildjian Constantinople Ride Cymbals

In several gear evaluations over the past three years I've praised the purity and tonality of the hand-hammered cymbals from the Paiste Traditional line, which initially exploded on the scene like a blast from the past back in 1996. However, the Avedis Zildjian...


September 2003    Gearhead

Paiste Signature Bronze Snare Drum

There are a select number of instruments that qualify as Holy Grails, either by virtue of the people who played them, the people who built them or some combination thereof. For instance, on Paganini: After a Dream (Verve), Regina Carter performs on "Il Cannone...


September 2003    Gearhead

Mesa Boogie Road King Amp

Let's cut straight to the chase: Mesa Engineering's new Road King is Randall Smith's greatest sonic creation, an instant classic, one that musicians will be referring to for years to come. Like some vacuum-tube Santa, Smith has left the Unabridged Textbook...


July/August 2003    Gearhead

Acoustic Image Coda R Amplifier

Clearly, musicians who specialize in amplified acoustic instruments feel left out in the cold by amplifiers better suited to rock, electric blues and more aggressive forms of jazz and fusion. As the legendary jazz guitarist Johnny Smith explained it to me...

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