From the self-tuning guitar to the complete home recording studio
The 2006 Musikmesse will make available more space than ever before for new ideas and products in the musical instrument sector. From 29 March to 1 April 2006, an additional hall level dedicated to electric guitars, electric bass guitars, amplifiers and accessories will make the hearts of music enthusiasts beat a little faster. However, not only companies from this market segment have indicated their intention to come to the 27th international Musikmesse in Frankfurt am Main with product launches, new versions and jubilee editions. "As always the Musikmesse will be teeming with strong brands, irrespective of whether we are talking of acoustic instruments or electronic ones", suggests Detlef Braun, Member of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt GmbH. "Moreover, most new developments in March can be expected in the area of digital music creation," adds Wolfgang LÃ¼cke, Director of the Musikmesse.
Electric bass guitars and electric guitars create twice the mood
The electric guitar and bass guitar segment has lost nothing of its fascination and so the organisers have gone along with the wishes of the exhibitors and extended the exhibition area. The opening of hall level 4.2, however, not only offers the exhibitors more area for stands, it is deliberately arranged so as to create a focal point for Rock and Pop initiatives here. A large lounge area brings together not only the young talent competitions Emergenza and the John Lennon Talent Award but also the famous Pop Academy and Mannheim’s “Musikpark” as well as a host of TV and radio stations and other media, who make Hall 4.2 the meeting place and relaxation area for music professionals, trade visitors and talent scouts.
Gibson (Hall 4.2, E11) looks forward to the new season with a whole new range of models. Some 15 new guitars will be presented at the fair, among them models such as the Jimmy Hendrix Psychedelic Flying V and the Peter Frampton Les Paul Special from the “Inspired By” series. The American manufacturer Fender (4.0, E08) looks back this year over 60 years of company history and is presenting a 60th-anniversary range. The Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision und Jazz Bass has been given a 3-colour sunburst finish and a body which is reminiscent of the original model. Because of the high demand, there will also be two new Victor Bailey Signature bass guitars: the Victor Bailey Jazz Bass guitar in a five-string version and the Victor Bailey Jazz Bass Fretless guitar.
Ibanez (3.0, C20) will be introducing a new version in the S-series, on their stand - the S2075FW with built-in D tuner in the vibrato system. With the GB15TR they will be introducing a new George Benson Signature guitar with a feedback-resistant hollow body and single coil pickup, which promises an agreeable jazz sound even at high volumes. Paul Reed Smith (4.2., C21/D10)are also celebrating a birthday — their 20th anniversary, and will now at last be presenting their SE single cut models. Their SE single cut is reminiscent in form and function of the Gibson Les Paul and offers PRS quality at a very reasonable price. Godin is offering a new electric guitar, the Triumph. With its three single-coil pickups and a 5-way switch, the model offers considerable breadth of sound and nuances of tone. As with other models of this Canadian brand the strings are fed through the body of the guitar so as to afford a better sustain. The design, on the other hand, harks back to the 70s glam rock look with its sparkle-lacquer effect.
Ampeg (4.2., E50) nicely pays tribute to the legendary Dan Armstrong Plexiglas guitar, which Keith Richards played from 1969 to 1971. Made, like the original, out of a single block of Plexiglas, this reissue model promises excellent sustain without disturbing frequencies. The pickup system is interchangeable and the musician has a choice of two hand-made pickups.
With their Power Tune System Tronical (5.1., B36/36A) have brought a real innovation to the market place, which promises to banish once and for all the problems that guitarists and bass players have with strings going out of tune. The system consists of three components and can automatically tune all the strings according to prescribed settings in less than five seconds. Major modification of the instrument is not necessary. A tune control knob, which enables the tuning to be programmed, replaces the volume control. The player can choose from normal tuning patterns right up to the most diverse range of open tunings. The programmed instructions are implemented by mechanical devices equipped with tiny electric motors. The pitch of the string is monitored by means of the tune control bridge. Electrical current for the mechanism is carried by the guitar strings. The system has been enthusiastically adopted by the first customers. "The more professional the musician, the greater the need to take at least two Tronical guitars on stage with them," says Michael Marschall, Marketing Manager at Synthax AG (5.1, B36/B36A), who are taking over the marketing of this product.
Warwick (4.2., E12/E49), who are represented at a large stand, are bringing two new bass models to the fair, the Streamer $$ and the Thumb Bolt-on LTD 2006 Dirty Blond. The Framus guitars sold by Warwick will in future be fitted with a new Tremolo created exclusively for the brand by Wilkinson.
Amplifiers hover between retro and forward-looking trends
On the other hand the amplifier market once again shows two different leanings. There is the retro wave and the search for new concepts. It is very much “back to the origins” for the English amplifier manufacturers Marshall (4.0, F08) and VOX. In collaboration with Experience Hendrix, Marshall are bringing out a 100-Watt head. The limited edition will be produced in close co-operation with Hendrix” heirs and is particularly appealing because of the faithfulness of the reproduction down to the last detail. The Jimi Hendrix Signature Stack, which has found a home in their handwired range, has a head which is a recreation of the 1966 Super 100. Together with two 4x12" cabinets, the angled 1982 AJH and the extra tall 1982 BJH one of the icons of rock music celebrates its re-birth. Generations of guitarists have had themselves photographed performing in front of this combination.
The Brian May Signature Model AC30 from VOX (4.0., C49)points in a similar direction. With this combo the legendary live sound of Brian May lives again. The amplifier is produced with just one potentiometer — the volume control. The characteristic Brian May Sound is programmed into the amplifier, and his legendary treble boost pedal comes as a built-in switch that can be operated by a foot pedal supplied with the unit. An equally sophisticated feature is the 15-watt switch, and the power reduction means that the original Brian May sound is also available for the sitting room. The minimalist concept of this amplifier works well. One control knob — and perfect sound.
On the other hand, the German amplifier manufacturers Hughes & Kettner (4.2., E39)have taken a quite different path. For the first time ever, an all-tube amplifier with the characteristics of modelling amplifiers will be on show. The Switchblade, with tubes for pre and main amplifiers, can be addressed via four fully programmable channels and be combined with digital multi-effects. 128 sound combinations can be accessed and saved via a MIDI board. "We have developed this amplifier for discerning guitarists who value a genuine tube sound but who also appreciate the flexibility of modern amplifier concepts," says Marketing Director Stefan Fischer. "Switchblade finally combines both and puts an end to compromise!"
Acoustic guitars and bass guitars: well honed in form and sound
In the acoustic guitar and bass guitar segment the adequate processing of the sound and its transfer into the sound equipment continues to be an issue. Alvarez is introducing four new guitars at the fair in the Masterworks series, all equipped with a Fishman Aura Sound Imaging System. As with the recently introduced DC-Aura from Martin, the customer can choose from six different versions, with the built-in system simulating a different microphone in each case.
It has been more than ten years since the American guitar makers Taylor (3.1, E83) first introduced a new body shape. The GS (Grand Symphony) has a larger body than the GA series, generous curves at the top and bottom of the body and considerable power and volume. The new model will be available in four different wood combinations.
Percussion instruments are more compact and more flexible
What remains in the way of minimum levels of equipment for a band is the drums. RMV are bringing out a special edition of the X5 drum set that they have just introduced. In the E-drums field, Roland are introducing the HPD-10 Handsonic 10 pad; more compact and less expensive than the version it was modelled on, the HPD-15, it offers the sensitivity of pad response we are used to and new sounds as well. Moreover, the company is introducing a new E-drum set. The TD-6SX V is fitted with all-mesh V pads, offers better trigger properties and incorporates the new TD-6V percussion sound module. B-Band have introduced onto the market a new series with contact microphones. Now that the system has been used for guitars for several years, it is also being introduced for percussion instruments. The pads of the DM-5 are stuck directly on to the frame of each drum. This ensures that the sound from each drum is isolated from that of the others on pickup and avoids the laborious setting up of all the microphones, which have hitherto been required.
Synthesizers, digital pianos and harmonicas have something new to show us
KORG (4.0., C40 / 5.1., A82) have a particular appeal this year in the synthesizer and keyboard market with the launch of their Radia. With it they are introducing a whole new concept. The keyboard and sound module (in 19" rack format) form one unit and can be treated as a single piece of equipment together or as separates, whichever people prefer. Sound creation is achieved with KORG multi-modelling technology with analogue modelling and PCM wave forms. The algorithms derive from the Oasys; a new comb filter, a Formant Motion Vocoder, a two-step sequencer and 32 drumkit memory are also included. The sound generator derives from the Electribe MX. Another new product on show is the SP-250. It is a digital piano with PCM piano wave forms which are available in stereo and which are touch responsive thus guaranteeing, with 60 polyphonic voices, the complete authenticity of the piano sounds.
Effect creators Behringer will be presenting the EG 2040, a digital piano, and the UMX series of master keyboards and will thus also be setting out their stall in the market segment for keyboard instruments. With their MO6 and MO8, Yamaha(FOR0, A01) will be exhibiting a new range of synthesizers. Roland (5.0., B38 / 3.1., F17) will be showing two new models in their V accordion family, one of which is fitted with built-in loudspeakers. With its Physical Behaviour Modelling, the FR-3 is an electronic accordion which also offers simulated mechanical noises. With the EWI-4000S, AKAI will again be putting its MIDI wind controller on the market in revamped form. Since the sound generator has been directly incorporated into the EWI, no additional sound module is necessary and the choice of sound presets is achieved via the buttons or keys on the equipment.
Hard disc recording and multimedia become even more compatible
In the still very young market for computer applications, software and effects peripherals there is usually something new, as one might expect. A few manufacturers are quite specifically focusing on the compatibility of hardware and software. Thus Apogee (5.1., B88) are presenting Ensemble, a digital audio interface for Mac users. The device is the first multi-channel audio interface which can be controlled by Apple’s Logic Pro Software. The importance of Apple (5.1., A71) computers is reflected in the presence as an exhibitor of the Apple Corporation who will be represented at the fair at a large stand. Gerd Albrecht, Press Spokesman for Apple in Germany had this to say: "Apple is looking forward to an interesting and exciting Musikmesse 2006, which will again give impetus to the whole sector."
The German manufacturers Edirol (5.1., C65) will be presenting their UA4FX USB Audio/MIDI Interface a device which is designed for use with both Mac and PC. The USB interface promises to prove popular because of its short latency periods, its audio resolution of up to 24 bits/96-kHz and its integrated effects. Alesis (5.1., A26) will be presenting two new fire-wire audio/MIDI interfaces, the IO/14 and the IO/16. Both models make use of FireWire DICEII Audiochip for connection to PC or Mac. The multitude of sockets (including 8 analogue Mic/Lin inputs, insert jacks for the incorporation of effects devices) is outshone only by the level of available resolution — in the case of the IO/26, up to 8 channels at 88.2 or 96 kHz. As if that were not enough, there is still the elegance of the design to spoil us.
On the software side there are several interesting new synth emulations: Rapture from Cakewalk (5.1., C65), the CSR-1 - a new reverb - and an Ampeg bass amplifier emulator by IK (5.1., A64) and the Prophet VS and Prophet 5 from Arturia (5.1., A70). Steinberg (5.1., B78) is introducing a new version of their Virtual Guitarist software. Virtual Guitarist 2 offers 6.8 GB of recordings in 88 different styles. WaveLab, too, has moved into version 6 and offers the well-known audio engine with new features and functions for audio manipulation. Version 2.4 of the VST audio software, also from Steinberg, has been released and is now completely 64-bit compatible.
This year Native Instruments (5.2., C56/4.2., D26) are presenting a whole new system - KORE. KORE consists of a host module for plugins and a hardware unit which controls the plugins or instruments. The KORE sound format plugs a gap created by the frequent lack of compatibility between components. "After devoting ten years to the development of the most diverse software instruments, we wanted to create a new tool which finally brings them all together" says Stephan Schmitt, Founder and Managing Director of Native Instruments.
Ableton(5.1., B56) will be demonstrating LIVE version 5.2, an update of its programme which offers support for the Intel Mac. LIVE 6 will be available in the autumn of this year. MOTU, too, will be presenting version 5 of their Digital Performer, which makes available six new instrument plugins, new film scoring facilities and new audio tools. Cakewalk’s SONAR goes down the path of music production systems with integrated hardware and software. With the SONAR Power Studio 250 and 660 Music Productions System, they offer a complete recording system, which incorporates the SONAR 5 studio edition and Roland V-Vocal technology. Cakewalk have developed their own audio/MIDI interface for it.
The breadth of musical and technical possibilities is just inexhaustible. There is something for all tastes and all users among the newest trends in the music industry to be found at the Frankfurt Musikmesse.
There is nothing to stop people having this experience of the music world — live for the music! From 29 March to 1 April 2006. Daily from 9.0 a.m. to 6.0 p.m.
The opening times, prices and service facilities are also valid for the international trade fair Prolight + Sound. Further information and photographs can be found on the Internet at: www.musikmesse.com
Entrance fees for the Musikmesse 2006
Single day ticket 35,00 Euro
Season ticket 55,00 Euro
General public (Saturday 1 April 2006 only)
Adults 21,00 Euro
Children 6-12 years old 7,00 Euro
Students 12,00 Euro
Families (up to two adults and three children 6-12 years old) 25,00 Euro
The entrance fee includes 2nd class return by public transport within the RMV area (Rhine-Main local transport authority).