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Gearhead: The Latest Instruments & Accessories

The latest from Yamaha, Boss, Vic Firth, Zildjian and more

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Boss DD-500 Digital Delay
SONiVOX Tony Coleman Drums sound library
Vic Firth Universal Practice Tips
Yamaha Reface Synthesizers

Zildjian L80 Low Volume Cymbal Series

Nowadays, drummers have more tools for low-volume practice and study than ever. One of the best and most recent is Zildjian’s L80 series of cymbals, brass platters constructed from a mesh-like grid that results in an 80-percent decrease in volume. The advantages and uses here are many: You can save your hearing when practicing, and spend less of your day wearing earplugs; practice in your house or apartment unharassed by angry spouses and neighbors; talk over your drumming during lessons and rehearsal sessions, or hear online/DVD instruction concurrent with your drumming; and handle quiet coffeehouse gigs without impeding on your technique. Zildjian is selling the cymbals in three different packages: 14-inch hi-hats/16-inch crash/18-inch crash ride ($300 online); 13-inch hi-hats/14-inch crash/18-inch crash ride ($250); and 13-inch hi-hats and an 18-inch crash ride ($200).

Vic Firth Universal Practice Tips

Sometimes the best and most useful products are the simplest: Take Vic Firth’s Universal Practice Tips, for instance, which are essentially rubber spheres that fit over most any drumstick head to turn the world into a practice pad. (They can also, of course, be used on a regular drum kit for new percussive textures and colors.) The tips strike quietly and won’t knick or dent hard surfaces. High school teachers forced to work morning detention are surely thankful. $6 online.

Boss DD-500 Digital Delay

Boss calls its overhauled new digital delay, the DD-500, “the most powerful and versatile stompbox delay ever created,” and even on paper that claim seems legit: The three-button, six-knob pedal features 12 different delay modes, including standard, analog, tape and even one based on early Boss and Roland delay units. Each mode is fully editable, the graphic display is user-friendly and nightclub-ready, and 32-bit/96 kHz processing maintains your analog signal in stereo sound. From there the features pile on in classic Boss fashion: onboard phrase-looper function, buffered or true-bypass options, storage for hundreds of patches and much more. $300 online.

SONiVOX Tony Coleman Drums

For demo purposes, producers, electronic musicians or anyone in need of absolutely authentic-sounding grooves and backbeats, SONiVOX has released this software featuring highly detailed, carefully captured samples of drumming by R&B pro Tony Coleman, perhaps best known for his lengthy tenure in B.B. King’s band. Make no mistake, this library doesn’t do it all-it features one standard kit-but what it does it does extremely well, with lifelike sound, easy-to-use controls, studio-grade master effects and a reasonable price of $100 online.

Yamaha Reface Synthesizers

Alongside the Real Book and ramen, expect to start seeing Yamaha’s new line of battery-operated, highly portable, pro-quality synths in cluttered music-school dorms the world over. The four 37-key instruments pack expertly modeled sound, easy usability, built-in speakers and online and app capabilities into one four-pound marvel. The model CS aims for old-school, Moog-y tones; the CP hoards electric-piano sounds; the DX will please fans of Yamaha’s now-classic DX7 digital synth; and the YC is the combo organ, which features an American tonewheel organ among its five organ Waves. $500 online.

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Originally Published