Melmusic - Melbourne Music Centre - Vintage Articles

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Reproduced from Article in Mixdown Magazine Oct 2000 by Brad Coates (www.melmusic.com.au)

Oddities & Collectables What a month October has been...from the quite amazing highs of Sydney Olympics fever, through to the closing ceremony lows of Men At Work's ludicrous impromptu backing vocalist! Not to mention the insult to our collective intelligence of the Goldberg/Rivkin/Reith/Faber-Castell affairs - proving beyond doubt that there really is one law for the rich and powerful, and another, quite different one, for all us leftovers! Okay, that's my politically-concerned, Midnight Oil impersonation out of the way, on to this month's stuff.

Fig. 1)The Horst Theremin

click to enlargeIdeal for the experimental musician who really wants something different, the Theremin is also ear and eye-catching when used in a live music scenario..."Look Ma, one hand!!" Essentially a musical instrument, pitch is controlled by moving your hand closer to, and further away from the unit's aerial. Mounted in a solid steel, chrome plated box similar in size to a box of chocolates, with svelte crushed velvet sides, the Horst Theremin is an extremely robust unit. An On/Off lamp jewel activated by a switch jack on the aerial socket controls the battery power source. It is also possible to power the unit via a standard outboard 9V power pack. Somewhat more unique and better featured than other Theremins on the market ( it includes an audio input for processing outboard instruments through it's octave divider circuitry), the Horst unit makes an excellent addition to the creative and experimental musician's sonic lunchbox. For more comprehensive information , check out the "Weird Effects Pedals" link on the melmusic homepage www.melmusic.com.au

Fig. 2) Fender Rhodes Piano Bass

click to enlargeWhoops! Someone left the 88 out in the rain...this unit marks the very first piano under the Fender brand name. First released in 1959,the Fender Rhodes Piano Bass keyboard quickly became somewhat of a godsend for the gigging duos and trios of the time. Leaping at the opportunity to remove the Bass player from the payroll, those pianists with the necessary left hand dexterity, took this one and tucked it firmly under their proverbial wings. Just 32 keys in length and around the size of a large conventional luggage case (albeit a heavy one - 20Kgs!) it was nevertheless very portable by the standards of the time. Generally thought to be simply the lower end of a standard Rhodes 88,in reality it was quite different. The resonant tone bars are considerably more solid and heavy, as are the actual tines themselves. Whereas the lower end of an 88 can be as woolly as all hell, the Piano Bass is quite smooth and tight. This unit would've probably disappeared into musical nothingness were it not for the fact that Ray Manzarek used it exclusively for the bass lines in his band The Doors - a band since immortalized by the death of it's lead vocalist, Jim Morrison, and more recently by the numerous "Tribute" bands assailing our collective conciousness. While it would've been a shame to see the Piano Bass disappear forever , if we all hold hands and chant together ,then maybe, just maybe, those infernal Doors Tribute bands will stop flogging that poor old deceased horse!!

Fig. 3) The Binson Echorec II

click to enlargeSomewhat of a "Holy Grail" this one..responsible for more aural urban myths than a Mixdown Oddities article, the Echorec is quite a fine, well designed and executed Echo. In fact, amazingly good for an Italian device. (The Italian music industry being known more for it's quantity than quality!) First produced in 1965, the innovative record/playback mechanism proved that the City of Milan can be responsible for building something other than cars and fashion models. Finished in a gold "Hammertite" hammerglazed metal case, the Echorec uses 6 heads spaced around an electrostatic drum -no tapes or tape wear problems to contend with. Metered input attenuation and inclusion of a tone control allow the user to achieve a clean, clear delay. Urban Myths?..try "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin.

Fig. 4) Isaac Kugelmeyer Electric Bass

click to enlargeA very rare one indeed, this Kugelmeyer Electric Upright Bass is #3 of only eight ever made worldwide. Handcrafted from Brazilian Mahogany, this awesome looking upright features a one piece, neck through body construction. The fretboard, made from genuine African Ebony (not just simply stained hardwood like most), makes this bass a delight to play. Fitted with EMG pickups and EMG's "BTC" active electronics, the top and bottom end response is extended quite noticeably. A dual concentric pot located beside the overall Volume pot controls this circuitry. Other features include a height adjustable telescopic end pin and the rather unique Kugelmeyer extended neck "heel".

*Webmasters please note*- Feel free to copy/quote any information or pictures from these articles for your own use .... please credit Brad Coates/Melmusic for the information and include a link to melmusic wherever possible.