Gearhead: The Latest Instruments & Accessories

The latest from D'Angelico, Promark, Novation and more

D'Angelico EX-SD bass
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Godlyke Pivot-All plugs and cables
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Novation MoroderNova synthesizer
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Tru Tuner Rapid Drumhead Replacement System
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Novation MoroderNova Synthesizer

We’re not going to lie: This synth’s inspiration, Giorgio Moroder, is not what we refer to as a “jazz guy.” A monumental figure in the development of synthpop and electronica, he’s best known for his disco hitmaking with Donna Summer and a string of trailblazing ’80s film soundtracks. But with current jazz so indebted to the electronic sounds of ’70s and ’80s pop, R&B and experimental music, this compact, versatile instrument might be the perfect complement to your vintage Rhodes. With Novation’s MiniNova as its core, the model ships with 30 preloaded synth patches-endorsed by Moroder-that anyone with an ear for pop radio of the past four decades should recognize. Other features include 256 onboard sounds; player-friendly controls including oversized pitch and modulation wheels; essential effects like distortion, chorus/phase and delay; and a vocoder. $449.99 online. us.novationmusic.com

Promark Select Balance Drumsticks

Somehow, drum manufacturers are still managing to reinvent and innovate the common stick. Case in point: Promark’s Select Balance series, a brilliantly simple two-pronged idea that responds to the basic demands of different musical styles. The “Forward Balance” sticks have a “front-weighted feel,” with a 2 1/4-inch taper, better for the headlong thrust of country, punk, metal and the like. The “Rebound Balance” sticks, with a 3-inch taper and a “rear-weighted feel,” are your option for groove-based music like jazz and R&B, and situations requiring more interplay with the rest of the ensemble. Various weights are available, all in hickory with a teardrop wood tip. From $7.95/pair. promark.com

Godlyke Pivot-All Plugs & Cables

How’s this for bandstand bummers: You finish a great set on your Telecaster- or Les-Paul-style guitar, lean the ax against your amp and forget that your cable has a straight plug-breaking the input and sending your prized six-string to the repair shop. Godlyke’s new Pivot-All plugs and cables prevent this tragedy by rotating and locking along a 180-degree axis. Think about it: No more awkward straight plugs sticking out of your Jazz Bass; no more expensive reverb units teetering atop your vintage combo amp because that unit can’t be stacked on top of a protruding plug. And stompboxes will finally sit flush on your pedalboard. The plug (no cable) sells for just $19.95 online. Plugs-with-cable are available in several lengths and end combinations; those featuring two Pivot-Alls range from 4 inches ($47.95) to 30 feet ($139.95). godlyke.com

Tru Tuner Rapid Drumhead Replacement System

Jazz drummers don’t break drumheads with the frequency of, say, metal guys, but it can happen, and you better pray you’re not gigging at Smalls or recording with Rudy Van Gelder when it does. Tru Tuner’s Rapid Drumhead Replacement System can prevent that panic: It’s a durable polycarbonate disc that aligns with a drum’s tension rods, allowing you to screw or unscrew a head in one fell swoop using 10 custom-designed keys. The adjustable System accommodates most common lug patterns, on drums ranging from 8 to 16 inches. $74.99 online. trutuner.com

D’Angelico EX-SD Bass

The rebirth of the D’Angelico brand has been one of the more heartening stories in the musical-instruments industry over the past few years. While offering guitars approaching the elegant, American-handcrafted archtops the company built its name on, D’Angelico has smartly expanded its line into quality foreign-made, affordably priced instruments-including basses. The flame maple EX-SD bass features a chambered solidbody that decreases weight and increases resonance without the feedback problems associated with straight hollowbodies. Two Kent Armstrong pickups provide a spectrum of tones, and a short scale length will help guitar-trained players bridge the gap. A fretless version is also available. $1,299 street price. dangelicoguitars.com