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AMPLITUBE BRIAN MAY COLLECTION REVIEW


From IK Multimedia, a new Amplitube 4 collection – Brian May.

“Tone That Will Rock You.”




Amplitube 4 collection – Brian May  Tested reviewed by Howard Worf, for us here at Guitarist Guild.




I stress that the opinions following are mine alone and based upon my personal experiences in a home studio set up. Testing has been done exclusively within either the stand alone PC version or through a DAW as a plugin. All brand names are the copyright property of the brand owners.

The collection comprises a suite of gear:

Amps and Cabs:
BM 30 which emulates the classic three Vox AC30 setup
BM DK emulation of a custom amplifier made by John Deacon
2x12 BM 30 Blue – emulation of Vox AC 30 cab with 2 Celestion Alnico Blue drivers
2x12 BM 30 H70 – emulation of Vox AC 30 cab with 2 Celestion G12H drivers
1x6 BM DK – emulation of 1x6 custom John Deacon cab

start


Guitar:
 
Red Special – emulation of the famous 3 pickup handmade guitar

start


Pedals:

Star Gate – emulation of a generic classic noise gate
Treble Booster – emulation of KAT Treble Booster
May Wah – emulation of rack mount Dunlop Cry Baby
Fox Phaser – emulation of the fOXX Floor Phaser

start


Presets:

It doesn’t seem like a lot but together (and in conjunction with other effects already built in to Amplitube 4 – rack graphic EQ, delay, reverbs etc) you get a very diverse and pleasing set of sounds. These are available through the collections presets menu, Brian May. The presets are representative of decades of famous Queen and Brian May recordings.

start


And, of course you get the gear to play with as you like in conjunction with either basic Amplitube sets or any other gear or collections you have purchased.

It would be tempting to think that the sounds could be relatively easily duplicated with one of the many VST amp racks out there, but it’s not. The reason for this is that many of the sounds use an emulation of the three AC30 set up May is famous for (2 of the three swept left/right with selectable built in chorus, delay, or harmoniser, the third clean and centred). Then there is the Red Special itself with the Burns Tri-Sonic pickups connected in serial (not parallel like most guitars) and with each pickup having a phase selector. This latter is as important to the dynamics of the sound set as the three amp rig. It is very important to set the source selector to the correct choice for the guitar you are using, single coil (such as a standard Stratocaster), Red Special (if you have one) or humbucker (such as a Les Paul). If using a hybrid guitar, such as my Schecter, make sure you are either using the humbucker or single coils (or split humbucker). The default is the middle position which seems odd as Red Specials are not the most common guitars out there. Although as the Red Special is an entirely single coil loaded guitar there is not a huge amount of difference between the  settings I and RS.

The whole package has been very carefully designed to help the user replicate Brian May’s tones from the 70s onwards – the treble booster for example is switchable through the decades.

Be sure to download and read the AmpliTube Custom Shop Gear Models.pdf from the My Products section of the IK Multimedia website – detailed and clear instructions on how to use the gear and amplifiers in this collection.

CONCLUSION:
I am a great fan of IK Multimedia – I have had and used Amplitube since version 3*, and Amplitube 4 is my go to guitar rig modeller. This is very accomplished suite of custom gear and amplifiers with a quite unique and special set of sounds. I particularly like the 3 AC30 chain, sounds excellent even on its own. There are dozens of presets in the collection, all of them interesting and authentic. To my ears it sounds better if used with a guitar with single coils – in my tests the Squier Stratocaster with Wilkinson Hot single coils and custom wiring sounded the best. A close second was the Harley Benton Victory (which with alnico humbuckers just sounds really good all of the time). That is, however, just my personal opinion, it sounded good with all the guitars I used, and, of course, everything is adjustable. A couple of quibbles. The Amplitube window itself is not scaleable which means that some of the parameter adjustments, in the harmoniser settings of the AC30 amps for example, are tiny, and the CPU load seems to be quite high even with no audio input. I would like to see the AC30 amp combination and cabs available as separate purchases from the Custom Shop, as I not sure that the pedals add a great deal of individuality in themselves. The collection does seem a little expensive – the Slash collection by comparison is €59.99.

Things used in this review:
Guitars – Schecter Diamond Extreme, Epiphone Prophecy Plus GX, Harley Benton Fusion Pro ll HH, Harley Benton Victory Plus Vintage, Fender Squire Stratocaster Affinity with custom wiring and hot single coils.

DAWs –  Studio One 4.5 Pro, Cubase 10 Pro
Monitoring – Behringer Truth B2031A near field, AKG K240 headphones
ASIO Interface –  Behringer UMC404HD
MIDI controllers –  None
OS – Windows 10 Home



System Requirements

AmpliTube is a 64-bit application and requires a 64 bit CPU and Operating System.


Mac® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM (4 GB suggested), macOS 10.7 or later.
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Windows® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2, 2GB of RAM (4 GB suggested),
Windows® 7, Windows® 8 or Windows® 10. Requires an ASIO compatible sound card.
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Amplitube 4 collection – Brian May

All Amplitube For PC and Mac
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MODO BASS REVIEW

"The first physically modeled electric bass"

An in-depth look at IK Multimedia's MODO BASS software.  Tested reviewed by Howard Worf, for us here at Guitarist Guild.




From IK Multimedia, the creators of MODO Drum is MODO Bass.

I stress that the opinions following are mine alone and based upon my personal experiences in a
home studio set up.

CONCLUSION:
I am a great fan of IK Multimedia I have had and used Amplitube since version 3*, and really enjoy using Philharmonik. I was seriously impressed by the brilliant GUI of MODO Drum, the ease of customisation and sheer punchiness of the sounds. If you do not play bass or know someone who does then this is a good fantastically customisable substitute, perfect for keyboard players. I did find some of the tones a little artificial sounding at times, but overall in a mix for all practical purposes indistinguishable from a physical bass guitar. Even if you do play bass, there is a world of extra tones available here for music production. I am, however, surprised that there is no groove library.

At the time of writing MODO Bass is available for €129.99 + sales taxes (ie VAT)

* for added realism, run MODO Bass through Amplitube (or any other bass amp modeller) add it as a VST insert to the MODO Bass channel in your DAW.

INTRODUCTION:
MODO Bass, now in version 1.5, was the first MODO instrument and is entirely based on sophisticated modelling. The aim is to replicate a whole host of bass guitars, playing styles, electronics and so on. As with MODO Drum there is a very clear and intuitive GUI and an almost limited soundscape for modifying bass guitar sounds. Also as with MODO Drum there is a stand alone app as well as the usual VST and AAX versions for use with you chosen DAW (64 bit only).

MODO is IK Multimedia’s branding for modal synthesis, allowing real time parameter changes as the instrument plays, so you can easily adapt a bass guitar sound to your track.

I have been playing bass guitar for more than 50 years. I have 5 basses, including both 4 and a 5 string Ibanez Soundgear basses which are the model for the Japan Bass in MODO Bass. So I can make a tone comparison between that model and the real things. I am, on the other hand, ham fisted when it comes to playing a keyboard. Playing a bass line on a guitar is second nature to me, on a keyboard exactly the opposite requiring considerable concentration. I find it much easier to play MODO Bass on my Akai MPC or the pads on my Impulse. Just a thought for those of you who are, like me, not entirely comfortable using a keyboard. You could, of course also use a step sequencer . .

OK, let’s get to looking at the product. The START SCREEN

start


The start screen (scaleable in stand alone mode) opens with the first ten bass guitar models displayed across the top. There are four more models available by scrolling to the right, including my reference Japan (Ibanez) bass. There are only two basses with maple necks, both Fender models.

Beneath the graphical representations of each bass are 6 buttons which access the additional parameters to shape your sound. You will also notice the yellow triangle and drop line over the representation of the guitar body. This represents the point of the plucking/picking strike on the strings, and can be simply dragged to the desired point. Close to the bridge the string has a thinner sound, played at the end of the fret board the sound is fuller and more rounded as the string is vibrating more freely.

Having chosen a bass model as you starting point, and yes they do all sound different as you would
expect, we can then move on to the PLAY STYLE.

start


Here we choose pluck, pick or slap, well you can read the rest of the buttons. All, I hope pretty obvious. I always check the open strings box to ‘on’ my personal preference is to use an open string when the opportunity arises for the extra clarity of note.

The slap stroke option is interesting it defaults to ‘auto’ with a high threshold. I found that this setting rarely gave a slap tone, almost always a pull sound. When we get to the CONTROL section you will see that it is possible to change stroke style as you play using a designated MIDI control parameter: a note out of bass guitar range is ideal for this. Notice that with the slap play style selected you cannot move the stroke point I am guessing this normally because slap is played close to the neck.

The play style chosen changes the available options in the stroke and touch settings, emulating for example a player who finger picks hard, soft or somewhere in between, or picking down, up or alternating.

You get the idea, lots of changes and tonal variation to be found here.

Next up is STRINGS.

start


For me this is possibly the most powerful section in MODO Bass. If you have ever played bass you will know that the action, string type, gauge and age are so important in the creation of tone. Higher action heavier gauge more depth, newer round wound strings much brighter, In this section you can also change to a 4, 5, or 6 string model (even the Fedora model). NB drop obviously only works with 4 string models, dropping to low D. Update, version 1.5.1 now works on 5 string models to drop B to A

In this section you can also set the tuning reference.

Now to the ELECTRONICS page.

start


Here you have the choice of an almost infinite number of options. OK, not infinite probably, but mind bogglingly huge. You can choose to change the bridge and/or neck pickups from every one of the models, move them relative to the body and each other, just click and drag the chosen pickup. Change relative volumes (as you can with the physical controls on most basses), and choose active or passive modes. In passive mode there is on simple tone control, in active three parametric virtual knobs with both fixed frequency and Q.

Hours of fun.

The penultimate area is AMP/FX

It opens with the amplifier selection showing (unless you have left it on one of the other sub menus)

start


To choose an amp model simply click on the picture of the one you want, or use the drop down menu. There is a choice of what resembles two different Ampeg models, the flip top valve 15” cab (B15N), and an SVT transistor with a 4x10 cab.

The controls are different for each amplifier no graphic only on the solid state model, punch and harmonics on the valve model for example.

Notice in the image above the signal path is set to default. There are, of course dozens of presets (not mentioned at all in the manual surprisingly is it because I also have Amplitube 4 installed I wonder?)

Here is shot of the Finger Bass preset flyout:

start


As a plugin you can run through Amplitube or another amp modeller by turning the amp control to zero and use the DI out to control the send volume. You can, of course mix the amp and DI signals if you want to and experience the dynamic of two amplifiers and effects chains running together without additional routing in your DAW. You could in this way set up a kind of bi amp sound. Very useful.

To access the 4 slot pedal board to edit the effects simply click on the pedal board in the GUI.

start


The available pedals are:
  • Octaver
  • Distortion
  • Chorus
  • Comp
  • Delay
  • Envelope Filter
  • Graphic EQ

Click on a slot and choose the effect from the drop down list. Suitable controls are provided to set up each pedal. Adjust to taste.

Lastly we come to the CONTROL page.

start


You can ignore this at your peril! This is where you can use your midi controller to add player dynamics, glissan do, vibrato etc. The controls are already mapped to various keys and control change commands.

The commands can be mapped to off, control change, keyswitch, pitch wheel, aftertouch or learn depending upon the parameter being controlled. So you can create a new control map customised to your preferences and save it for later use.

Worth an honourable mention is the fretboard and keyboard graphic that you can see in all windows except CONTROL where only the piano keyboard is displayed..

From the manual:  “The piano keyboard shows the note range of the bass plus the assigned keyswitches for the real time control of the playing style and performance. The Bass fretboard shows the position of the left hand behaviour system which determines where the note is played (which fret and which string). This system positions the left hand as close as possible to how a real bass player would play and also allows keyswitches to force the use of a determined fret or string (on the right side of the piano keyboard)"

As a bass guitarist I’m not entirely convinced by that last statement; I find it much better to play the notes with my right hand and allocate all the player controls to the left of the keyboard where the pitch wheel is located. But as I have pointed out, I am not a competent keyboard player, most of whom I would imagine play bass lines with their left hands.

SOME THOUGHTS: Using my Ibanez basses plugged straight into a DAW without any processing at all I am happy to report that the emulation is good. Obviously all real instruments vary in sound absolutely from one day to the next, and indeed the 4 string and 5 string do themselves sound slightly different, otherwise what would be the point?

I would like to have seen one more bass type included a fully customisable blank slate instrument where a bespoke bass could be constructed from (in addition to the range of electronics already provided) a choice of body wood, neck wood, fretboard wood (or plastic), scale length bridge type and material. Additional strings, nylon flat wound. I’m pretty sure just about every possible bass guitar sound is reproducible from within MODO Bass, but this might make it a bit easier to target the sound for experienced bass players. But we are not the target market, we just pick up a bass and play it . .

A groove library would IMO be a useful addition.

BUT wot, no fretless?

CONCLUSION:
I am a great fan of IK Multimedia I have had and used Amplitube since version 3*, and really enjoy using Philharmonik. I was seriously impressed by the brilliant GUI of MODO Drum, the ease of customisation and sheer punchiness of the sounds. If you do not play bass or know someone who does then this is a good fantastically customisable substitute, perfect for keyboard players. I did find some of the tones a little artificial sounding at times, but overall in a mix for all practical purposes indistinguishable from a physical bass guitar. Even if you do play bass, there is a world of extra tones available here for music production. I am surprised, however, that there is no groove library.

At the time of writing MODO Bass is available for €129.99 + sales taxes (ie VAT) https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/modobass/

* for added realism, run MODO Bass through Amplitube (or any other bass amp modeller) add it as a VST insert to the MODO Bass channel in your DAW.

Things used in this review:
DAWs - Cubase 10 Pro, Studio One 4.5 and Reaper 5.99
Monitoring - Behringer Truth B2031A near field, AKG K240 headphones

ASIO Interfaces - Steinberg UR22, Behringer UMC404HD
MIDI controllers - Akai M PC Element, Novation Impulse 61
OS - Windows 10 Home


System Requirements

MODO BASS is a 64-bit application and requires a 64 bit CPU and Operating System.


Mac® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), macOS 10.9 or later.
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Windows® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2, 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), Windows® 7, Windows® 8 or Windows® 10. Requires an ASIO compatible sound card.
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): VST 2, VST 3, AAX.
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MODO DRUM REVIEW

"Give your drum tracks a whole new life"

An in-depth look at IK Multimedia's MODO Drum software.  Tested reviewed by Howard Worf, for us here at Guitarist Guild.




From IK Multimedia, the creators of Amplitube and Philharmonik to name but two, is MODO Drum.

I stress that the opinions following are mine alone and based upon my personal experiences in a home studio set up.

CONCLUSION:
This is an excellent modelled acoustic drum application. Quality modelling, real time kit element editing, first rate groove library, more kits in the package than its rivals, and above all a wonderful clear, intuitive and easy GUI. A word that is frequently heard in the promotional videos is ‘punchy’, and it is certainly that. Snap up your copy while the introductory pricing is still available.

So, let’s get to it. MODO Drums enters a market where there are already a number of established competitors, to name a few: EZ Drummer, Addictive Drums, Groove Agent (although this last one is much more aimed at the EDM user). There are also a couple of very usable, albeit very limited in comparison, free drum VSTs, MT Power Drummer being probably the most popular. There are, of course, simply dozens of free EDM VSTs, but these are not in the market for realism – not substitutes for real acoustic drums.

In order to succeed it will have to have something particularly special the others do not offer. IMO that most important something is the extremely clear, powerful and easy to understand GUI, but it is not the only something. Read on . . .

So what do you get? Here are some of the main features:
New modelling engine (really quite something . .) which gives
On the fly adjustment of:
• Drum diameter
• Drum depth
• Drum profile
• Damping
• Tuning
Snare type and tension
Different sticks and beaters
Sympathetic resonance control
10 drum kits
More than 1400 MIDI patterns
Comprehensive room parameterisation
Infinite velocity layers and round robins – each hit is generated and controlled by the modelling engine so that no two hits are ever exactly the same - impressive
Effects – EQ, dynamics, distortion, reverb/delay, and modulation
Resizable GUI

In no particular order then the key selling points for me are:

• The GUI – scalable, clear, and most importantly the most intuitive one I have ever experienced on a drum VST. The GUI is significantly ahead of the pack IMO, although AD2 and EZ Drummer are not particularly difficult to use either. On the other hand the Groove Agent interface seems to have been designed by sadists and makes it almost unusable.

• 10 kits in the package – most rivals offer only 2 or 3 (with the purchase of additional expansion packs necessary to add to the basic kits), Groove Agent has 3 acoustic kits and dozens of alternative EDM kits. The quality of the bundled kits in MODO Drum is excellent, so absolutely no worries in that regard.

• The MIDI patterns, accessed through the superb UI, are amazingly good – IMO quite possibly the best suite available in this kind of package. Super easy to navigate and find the pattern you want. It really does make the others look a little lacking, even though the filtering concepts are broadly similar MODO Drum just make it more intuitive.

Unlike some of its competitors which rely exclusively on sampled drum sounds, MODO Drum has a whole new and exclusive synthesis engine, for both drums and cymbals. The range of acoustic kits provided coupled with the enormous customisation available means you really can find that right sound for your project. The diameter and depth of every drum model can be adjusted to get the exact sound the user wants. The shell profile, damping and tuning can also all be adjusted on the fly.

Let’s have a look at the GUI:
The start screen:

start


The app opens with the Studio kit by default, and from here you can easily choose from the 8 displayed, or scroll to the end for the other 2 kits.

A click on the settings gear icon give access to an interface controlling brightness (general), MIDIcontrol of drum hit position (control), and audio/midi (unsurprisingly labelled audio/midi)





aud/midi
 

Next there is the ‘Customize’ screen which enables swapping of kit components between all of the available kits. For example you can take the snare from one kit, the bass drum from another and so on. The customised kit can then be saved as a user preset. For example

mucked
 

mucked_pre
   

So far, so good. How about we make a completely bespoke drum kit?


Click on the drum or kit component you want to rework, then on the ‘Edit Element’ button. Depending upon which element you have chosen to edit, you will be presented with an enormous ability to make changes. And all of them on the fly, in real time as you either play the individual drum or are running a pattern.

mucked
 

Not being a drummer I do not have the expertise to set parameters without listening to the effect the changes have on the chosen drum, but rest assured that the editing is at once both subtle and audible. And, as a theme that runs throughout this software, the GUI is so clear, so easy to understand, and so easy to use effectively.

When you have finished making adjustments, just save the customised drum and then the kit.

Next is ‘Play Style’, a really interesting fine tuning arena. Here it is possible to assign the hit areas for left and right hand strikes of the snare and toms, or the kick drum technique, as well as bespoke sticks and beaters. The left and right hit areas can be adjusted, and as you would imagine the MIDI map for MODO Drums has trigger notes for each of the left and right hits.

toms
 

snare
 

kick
 

You could, for simplicity assign the same trigger not to both the left and right hits if you wish using an external MIDI map – it does not seem to be possible to customise the map within MODO Drums: my guess is that this is to make sure that no internal conflicts arise, and does make a deal of sense.

midi
 

Next along the top row is ‘Room’. This gives access to 10 different ambient environments. The degree of resonance from each environment can be adjusted using the flyout mixer tab. There are no direct adjustments for each environment, but as with the choice of kits it is really quick and simple to find the right basic sound you are after.

studio
 

bunker
 

Then we come to the ‘Mixer’ tab. This is where a serious amount of extra tweaking can be done, if you are so minded. There are 2 independent effects sends for each piece of the drum kit, and up to 4 effects from the rack for each drum channel – in addition to the channel EQ. The 19 effects are:
• EQ - Parametric EQ
• Dynamics: Compressor, Comp 2A, Comp 76, Gate, SL Compressor
• Distortion: Clipper, Big Pig. Crusher, Distorion
• Reverb and Delay: Plate, Room, Inverse, Hall, Delay, Tape Delay
• Modulation: Phaser, Chorus, Flanger
The mixer rack also enables routing to additional busses or individual DAW tracks

mixer


mixeffects

Incidentally the symbol next to solo and mute that looks like a ‘phi’ on its side (Ø) is for phase inversion.

Lastly accessed from the main screen is the ‘Grooves’ page.

This is a perfect example of excellent software design. I repeat this GUI overall is IMO the best I have seen on a drum VST, if not all VSTs. It is a breeze to find a phrase from the more than 1400 patterns included.

grooves

 
Having found the phrase you want, simply drag and drop it into your DAW. Unlike Amplitube 4, for example, there is no sequencer/recorder built in to the stand alone version. This is not a big deal.

A couple of caveats - Version 1.0.0 does not play entirely well with Cubase. There is a pending update due for release shortly, which fixes the bug that prevents pattern drag and drop into a Cubase track. There is a workaround: you can manually drag any grooves from the C > Program files > IK Multimedia > MODO Drums > Grooves.

There are no Latin rhythm instruments in the package. Perhaps a later add on?

The big disappointment for me is that installation requires a PC with AVX support. Alas my laptop is rather old and has a Pentium processor – plenty for Reaper and amplifier control apps, but I cannot install MODO Drums and so have been unable to test with my Alesis DM10 kit which I can use with Addictive Drums (I know I said I am not a drummer – this is true – why I have this is a rather long and boring story).

CONCLUSION:
This is an excellent modelled acoustic drum application. Quality modellinig, real time kit element editing, first rate groove library, more kits in the package than its rivals, and above all a wonderful clear, intuitive and easy GUI. A word that is frequently heard in the promotional videos is ‘punchy’, and it is certainly that. Snap up your copy while the introductory pricing is still available.

More information and promo videos at www.ikmultimedia.com/products/mododrum

Things used in this review:
DAWs – Cubase 10 Pro and Reaper 5.99
Monitoring – Behringer Truth B2031A near field, AKG K240 headphones
ASIO Interface – Steinberg UR22
MIDI controllers – Akai MPC Element, Novation Impulse 61
OS – Windows 10 Home

System Requirements

Standalone and 64-bit plug-in. Requires a 64 bit CPU and Operating System

Mac® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ i5 with support for AVX instructions, 8GB of RAM (16 GB suggested), 20GB of available hard-disk space, macOS 10.9 or later. USB port (3.0 suggested).
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Windows® (64-bits)
Minimal: Intel® Core™ i5 or equivalent with support for AVX instructions, 8GB of RAM (16 GB suggested), 20GB of available hard-disk space, Windows® 7, Windows® 8 or Windows® 10. ASIO compatible sound card. USB port (3.0 suggested).
Supported Plug-in formats (64-bit): VST 2, VST 3, AAX.

Requires an OpenGL 2 compatible graphics adapter.



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snark

I've been using one of these Snark clip on tuners for a couple of years now, and have to say the difference between this, and my old Korg tuner is night and day. Just to explain, this is only used at home, and on just on Electric guitar, and my acoustic, I don't use it in a live band environment.

I have the older version of the SN5 Guitar Bass and Violin, and can only assume the new version is better, though not sure how it can be, my one works flawlessly. It clips nicely on to the headstock of all my guitars very nicely, you can adjust the angle very easily thanks to the ball and socket between the display and the clamp, so seeing the display from any position is great. The display itself is really easy to see, and has brightly coloured sections to show if your sharp, or flat.

Very simple to operate, it has one large button on the front which you press to turn it on and press again to turn it off. I would highly recommend you turn it off once you've tuned your guitar to extend the battery life, even though it will go off automatically after a period of time.

Here's some places to check them out.

ebay.co.uk
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Thomann
Gear4Music

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Harley Benton HBZ-2005

Description (from Thomann) Harley Benton HBZ-2005 5 string bass guitar, mahogany body, neck through body, 7 piece maple/nato neck, rosewood fretboard, oval abalone shape inlays, 24 frets, nut width 45mm, 864mm long scale, string space at bridge 16 mm, 2x ceramic bar pickups, active preamp, black hardware, die cast tuners, 5 single bridge, finish natural satin.

You can buy one HERE














Plus points:
Thomann's excellent customer service. The first example I had was an escapee from quality control and had to be replaced. This was done quickly, and with a very helpful attitude. The second example, the one I have kept, needed a little remedial soldering to fix a broken connection.
It's a beautiful looking thing, better in the flesh than in the photographs. The combination of woods works well. It is cosmetically very attractive.

Very little, if any set up will be required. The neck pick-up is arguably a little low, and appears not to be adjustable, and the  truss rod will need a little tweak as the neck is not quite concave enough. This is not a big deal, I've have had to adjust the truss rod on just about every guitar I have ever owned.
D'Addario strings. Apparently not everyone's cup of tea, but they are the brand I currently favour, so I won't be changing them, except for another set of D'Addarios when they wear out.
Smooth operating control knobs that have a very subtle but definite centre notch (not the volume control).
Reasonably quiet electronics.

Very good tonal range, as you would expect from an active bass, have a listen to the samples on the Thomann site. I have seen reviewers grumble that the bass is not as deep as more expensive basses, or that the treble is not as bright. To which I would say, learn how to play the thing. There's plenty there.
The through neck is obviously wider than a 4 string, and the strings are slightly closer spaced. It is, however, pleasant to play.

The balance is good.
The machine heads are precise and seem rather better quality than I had expected.
There is no significant fret buzz anywhere (what little there is high up the neck on the B string will go when the neck is adjusted properly).

Minus points:
The first example had a body in three pieces. The lower part of the bottom wing was a separate piece of mahogany. The joint was solid, but inevitably you could see where the grain changed. My current example of this model has single piece wings.

The bridge pieces are individual for each string, and not quite perfectly aligned across the guitar. They were differently misaligned on the first example I had, it looks like the manufacturers just can't get it right. I doesn't matter other than visually. The bridge pieces are steel. I can't help feeling it would have been better to have a billet bridge and tailpiece.
There is no instruction sheet. I have labelled the picture below with what I think the controls are.



For me, the lack of a thumb rest is a big deal. Luckily I have some hardwood and will make my own.

Conclusion:
My experience of Harley Benton instruments is that they are of noticeably cheap construction on close inspection, but sound unexpectedly good and play unexpectedly well. This is the cheapest bass I have ever owned by a significant margin. That it is so capable for less than £200 is an indicator of how much better cheaper instruments are these days. So for a first dabble with 5 strings my immediate reaction is that really, for so little money, you can't go wrong. I play quite forcefully with the middle cut and through the Hartke A100 this bass really growls, I like it. The acid test is would I use this bass live? The answer is yes, I would, but I'd still stick with the Hohners as my main instruments.

The thread this article was taken from, you can leave your comments here, Harley Benton (Thomann) HBZ 2005 - 5 string bass guitar

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IK Multimedia Amplitube 4 Ampeg SVX 2 Bass Amplifier Collection - Review
An in-depth look at IK Multimedia's Ampeg SVX 2 collection.  Tested reviewed by Howard Worf, for us here at Guitarist Guild.
The bottom line (somehow strangely appearing at the top, and first . . )

This SVX2 bundle is highly recommended - with no other bass amplification emulators in your Amplitube warehouse you will not find any tone you are looking for missing. I really like these a lot. And if you cannot run to the whole package use Custom Shop to buy the SVT-VR and 8x10 cabinet as individual pieces of gear - you will not be disappointed.

New from IK Multiimedia is this gear package emulating a further clutch of classic Ampeg bass amplification. The new SVX 2 collection of reimagined and re-released amplification from Ampeg comprises the SVT-VR, the V-4B, and the Heritage B-15N heads and the SVT-810 AV, the SVT-212 AV, and the B-15N 115 cabinets - the cabinets being the matched units for the amplifiers in the same order - the B-15N Heritage is in any event a combo with the 'sewing machine' flip top head, released in limited edition in 2011 and currently very expensive to acquire, used only. So these then are the models of the re-released Ampegs, available as a collection for €99.99 or as an upgrade to the original Ampeg collection for €49.99 or as a bundle of the two for €149.99. If you need Amplitube 4 too then the price for the complete package is €199.99 (all plus VAT and at the time of writing). To give an idea of value for money UAD's emulators retail for $149 for each individual amplifier module. And, of course, the real things are substantially more costly. Don't forget, also, that Amplitube and therefore these modules can be used in live performance.

So what is being emulated here? The SVT-VR is the re-released version of the 1970's Blue Line SVT 300w head, currently retailing for around £1900 or $2200, the V-4B is another 1970's re- release, this time of the 1971 100w all valve head, around the £1000 mark, and the final model is the very popular 1960s 1x15 combo that has a home in many pro studios and according to Ampeg is the most recorded bass amplifier ever. Quite possibly.

To my way of thinking it is the SVT heads that create that distinctive Ampeg growl, but let's give them a listen. My comparisons are from memory, so how the models give me the impression of the Ampeg sounds rather than a direct comparison as I do not have any physical Ampeg equipment to measure against. Indeed I have never seen nor heard either an original or Heritage B-15N, so rare are such beasts. My own personal amplification comprises Trace Elliot and Behringer heads with 1x15 home built cabs for live performance and Hartke A100 and Harley Benton HB300B (Thomann's own brand) combos for practice. I don't like the Hartke much; I usually let my wife use it for her keyboard and it's better at that. Although I have been playing for more than 4 decades I have generally avoided valve amplifiers. In my early days I like everyone else owned Marshall and sometimes borrowed Orange valve amps, but I never liked the flat slightly distorted sounds and to be brutally honest they were hopelessly unreliable.

For this review I have used my Ibanez SR375 and Hohner B Bass 5 strings and a Hohner B Bass 4 string. All of these have large amounts of maple in their construction giving them a tone which is bright rather than neutral. I am not using any effects between the guitars and the software. My interface is a Saffire Pro 14. The DAW I am using is Cubase 9 Artist (although, of course Amplitube 4 does have a stand alone mode), my monitors are a pair of Behringer Truth B2031As and my headphones AKG K240.

After such a long preamble the actual 'how do they sound' bit is going to be quite short.

Let's do them in reverse order.

1)The Heritage B-15N. Arguably a better amplifier than the originals, as it has both 1964 and 1966 channels and voicing, the latter year's implementation being somewhat brighter. The tones are smooth, clear and very much full range. Some bass amplifiers are either too bass or too treble orientated with flat tone controls, but not this. It doesn't really growl until the bass control is almost all the way up on either channel, so an excellent model for a clean uncoloured bass sound. The tone controls are simple in design but beautifully effective in operation giving a really useful range of tonal values. I like it.


   


2)But not as much as the V-4B, paired with the 2x12 cabinet. Although the tone controls are a little more complicated in that we now have a three band midrange parametric and bass and treble cut/boost switches as well as gain, what we do have here is the appearance of that Ampeg growl in a more controllable package. So again, very good.


   


3)And then there's the cream of the crop, the SVT -VR paired with the 8x10 cab emulation. It sounds to my tired old bass player ears the best of the bunch. A wonderful easily controlled growl and huge tonal range. Now we have much more useable flexibility: channel selection, channel one normal bright switch, ultra-hi boost, 3 band bass cut off, ultra-lo boost, bass, treble and mid cut/boost pots, with ultra-lo, ultra-hi with bass and treble pots on channel two. It just sounds very good - how subjective is that? But it does.


   


As I have had no Ampeg hardware with which to make comparisons what I am telling you is how subjectively they sound to me. I am guessing that these emulations are as accurate as they can be - if not then IK Multimedia have nevertheless created three first rate bass amplifier models which I can thoroughly recommend. And because they are software and not powered by real valves they won't break down or wear out. Which is nice.

Having never really appreciated Ampegs in the real world (and I would still be leery of buying anything with a valve driven power stage) these models will be my go to place for recording in the future for the smooth even tones of the Heritage B15N and V-4B, and the lovely controllable understated growl and penetrating mid range of the SVT.

So the conclusion of this review is that the SVX2 bundle is highly recommended - with no other bass amplification emulators in your Amplitube warehouse you will not find anything you are looking for missing. I really like these a lot. And if you cannot run to the whole package use Custom Shop to buy the SVT-VR and 8x10 cabinet as individual pieces of gear - you will not be disappointed.

2nd October 2017




Features
•Officially licensed by Ampeg®
•3 new amps (SVT-VR, V-4B, HERITAGE B-15N)
•3 new matched cabinets (SVT-810 AV, SVT-212 AV, B-15N 115)
•Exact recreations of the originals thanks to IK’s 20 plus years of modeling experience
•Based on our breakthrough Dynamic Interaction Modeling™ technology
•Available à la carte inside the Custom Shop or as a whole collection
•Available as part of the SVX Power Duo Bundle (including AmpliTube 4, SVX and SVX 2)
•Perfect companion for MODO BASS for Mac/PC
•Runs inside any version of AmpliTube 4.3 or later (free or paid version)
•Expandable with more gear models via AmpliTube Custom Shop

More info can be found here, http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/ampegsvx2/

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