Gearhead: The Latest Instruments and Accessories

New from Roland, Sonor, Yamaha and more

Drum Brakes
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Roland JD-Xi Synthesizer
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Planet Waves Kill Switch cables
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Regal Tip's Billy Martin drumsticks
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Sonor Vintage drum series
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Warwick's Stu Hamm signature bass
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Roland JD-Xi Synthesizer

Looking for a keyboard with old-school character and modern dependability and usability? The Roland JD-Xi analog/digital synthesizer boasts a crossover sound engine that promises both “fat, warm analog bass and lead tones” and “the clarity and versatility of modern digital,” according to the company. The synth’s features include a gooseneck mic that can be used for Vocoder, AutoPitch and other vocal effects; an “intuitive” 4-track pattern sequencer for building loops; and two digital synth sections with 128-voice total polyphony and SuperNATURAL synth tones, including pads, strings, electric piano and sound effects. ($499 online) rolandus.com

Yamaha YCL-CSVR Custom Clarinet

One of the hands-down highlights of the 2015 Winter NAMM show was hearing Paquito D’Rivera put the new pro-level Yamaha YCL-CSVR Custom B-flat Clarinet through its paces at the horn’s launch party. Yamaha has revealed a number of what it calls “significant changes” in the design of the CSVR. Among the new enhancements are a thick silver plating that, says Yamaha, gives the CSVR “a dark and resonant sound quality”; durable leather pads that ensure a precise seal between pad and tone hole; a new ergonomically designed C-sharp/G-sharp key; and an adjustable thumb-rest with strap ring. The latter, the company claims, “gives players the option to distribute the weight of the instrument and relieve some of the strain of holding the instrument.” Most important, however, is the fact that these horns are made using Yamaha’s precise, thoroughly tested manufacturing systems; in other words, unlike some well-regarded custom shops, a dozen examples of this same model are going to sound uniformly excellent. ($2,999.99 online) usa.yamaha.com

Regal Tip’s Billy Martin Performer Series Stick

Medeski Martin & Wood’s Billy Martin has long championed Regal Tip drumsticks, and now he’s got his own Performer Signature Series model. Measuring 16.37 inches in length and .540-inch in diameter, the sticks feature the company’s PEF finish. regaltip.com

Sonor Vintage Drum Series

To mark its 140th anniversary, Sonor has launched the Vintage drum line, featuring kits that borrow their sound and look from the company’s hallowed drum gear of the ’50s-’70s. Manufactured in Germany, Sonor’s Vintage series is modeled after the company’s original Teardrop drums, combining their classic visual and sonic elements with techniques used in modern drum building. Vintage drums feature hand-selected premium German beech shells with rounded bearing edges; a recreated ’50s-style teardrop lug updated with Sonor’s Tunesafe system; redesigned Superprofil triple-flanged hoops that revive the Sonor badge and logo used in between 1952 and 1961; and other Teardrop-era features. As if your interest isn’t piqued already, the manufacturer’s press material drops the names Connie Kay, Sonny Payne and Kenny Clarke. sonor.com

Planet Waves Kill Switch Cables

Nothing squashes the vibe at a great gig more effectively than an ugly, noisy, buzzy between-song instrument change. The D’Addario-owned Planet Waves company has a solution with its new American Stage Kill Switch instrument cables: Just flick the switch and your signal goes silent, allowing you to change from Strat to hollowbody while saving your amp’s speakers and your audience’s eardrums. The cables are available in 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-foot lengths, and boast the same audiophile sound quality and tour-ready durability as Planet Waves’ standard American Stage cables. ($29.99-$59.99 online) planetwaves.com

Warwick’s Stu Hamm Signature Bass

Two years in development, Warwick’s new German-made Stu Hamm Signature Bass is modeled after the company’s Streamer Broadneck. Among the differences in the new bass, says Warwick, is that “the upper body horn has been shifted slightly toward the 12th fret. At the same time, the lower body horn has been altered to make access to the upper frets even more comfortable.” Hamm, known for his solo recordings and his collaborations with monster-chops figures like Joe Satriani, Frank Gambale and Steve Smith, was involved in the design and also “asked for decreased distance between the body and strings to facilitate his unique playing style.” (MAP: $7,399) warwickbass.com

Drum Brakes

Is there a drummer alive who actually enjoys toting around large drum rugs? Didn’t think so. Drum Brakes provide a compact, sensible alternative: These anti-slip pads fit under the hi-hat legs and bass drum spurs, and can also be fitted to hi-hat and bass drum pedals. ($24.99 online, for seven pads with re-sealable bag.) drum-brakes.com