Ready to Steele home: the company is back in the game with a retooled line of softball bats and balls

After years of merely floating along on inertia, Steele’s is firing up its engines and is launching retooled lines of its balls and girls softball bats for the 2003 softball season.

Steele’s was purchased by Reda, which has a core competency in team sports, in early ’01 after it recognized the potential in Steele’s equity and under-leveraged brand name. The ’02 line was introduced after the purchase, but the ’03 line is where Steele’s expects to make an impact.

In addition to the grassroots marketing and sponsorships that are the company’s long-time staple, the ’03 Steele’s line will be supported with POP and graphics marketing plans that “are still in the works,” according to Reda president and GM Craig Scott.

“Our objective is to reach the core consumer through a series of local sponsorships and to get people curios about Steele’s,” says Scott. “We’re convinced that once [core consumers] see these products, they’ll be hooked.”

For ’03, Steele’s will roll out a new line of softballs, upgrades on its existing bats (including the innovative Ax Handle bats), and a line of accessories.

The Skyhawk line of balls feature an upgraded cover in both genuine and synthetic leather, as well as improved glue quality used to adhere the cover to the polyurethane core. The balls are not only designed for durability, but to give players better feel and grip. The balls are available in 11-inch and 12-inch models and in a variety of stitch colors including white, red (ASA), gold (ASA and USSA), black (NSA), blue (USSA), and green (ISA). Optic yellow balls are available in ASA and NSA models in 11-inch and 12-inch sizes. A women’s fastpitch bail with raised seems is also available in optic yellow.

Four re-tooled bats will also be rolled out for ’03. For serious slow-pitch players, Steele’s has the Triple XXX, the Triple XXX Ax Handle, and the Shark. For women’s fast-pitch, Steele’s is introducing the Ball Blaster. Both Triple XXX bats are designed with extra-long handles for less bulk and wind resistance, resulting in quicker bat speed. The Shark is one of the industry’s most durable single-wall bats and its barrel-to-handle width ratio also makes it one of the most balanced. The Ball Blaster is a bottled bat with an extra-large sweet spot for women’s fast-pitch players seeking high performance.

Exploring the female side

Facts and figures show that the market for girls’ fashion athletic shoes is oversaturated. The keys to success in that market are a well-designed pricing strategy and product differentiation, according to executives. Footwear Market Insights figures show that competition in the girls’ market is fierce, with discounters accounting for over 39% of girls’ shoe sales in 1995.

Somewhere between Nike’s high-tech domain and Wal-Mart’s $3.99 canvas shoe lies a fashion athletic shoe market for girls. While some say this niche is showing strong sales, the facts and figures reveal an oversaturated market. So what can manufacturers do for an encore?

In the past, the untapped potential in this niche market has lured a number of manufacturers into the fold. Now the question is, how is this increasingly competitive and crowded category evolving as the major players scramble to hit girls with hybrid athletic styles?

Executives say the young women’s athletic market calls for product differentiation as well as well-defined pricing strategies – under $25 seems to be the magic number. According to Footwear Market Insights, Nashville, the average (regular, not sale priced) price of a pair of girls’ dress shoes for plantar fasciitis is $20.

The competition at retail is fierce, with a huge chunk of the business – over 39 percent of the total pairs of (all types) girls’ shoes purchased in 1995 – sold by discounters, according to FMI. Mike Kormos, president of FMI, noted that many kids have been bombarded with athletic shoes since the ’80s. And while the category has received more attention of late from vendors, sales have eroded since 1990. In 1995, athletic shoes made up 45.4 percent of the total pairs sold, according to FMI, but that number has dropped steadily since five years prior when athletic shoes totaled 51.4 percent of total pairs sold for the period. The sales decline has forced many players to develop new hybrid lines for girls. While style changes, such as rubber soles in wedge shapes, high heels and mule looks, may have spruced up the active casual market, they do not replace those dress shoes for bunions made for sports. It’s a tricky market, with the infringing active-shoe market giving the athletics market a run for its money.

As a result, a number of executives said that athletics with basic styling are what’s selling best for girls. At Guess Athletic, Sylmar, Calif., clean, fashion-forward styles have been the star performers, even for little girls ages 4-10, according to Randi Berger, marketing director. The company is presently trying to expand its distribution outside of its existing independent, sporting goods and mid-tier department store base to more upscale stores including the likes of Federated, said to Berger. But despite successes, she said there is a serious challenge in this saturated market to figure out what styles work for each type of store.

“We go up against Vans, Skechers… Where we are it’s a saturated market. It’s always a challenge to find innovative and different product,” noted Berger. Guess Athletic has found the most success with its active-casual category: shoes designed for activities, but without high-performance features. While she realizes “we’re not competing with the Nike and Asics, high-performance customer,” she said, the company does sport-specific shoes for walking, jogging and crosstraining, which are targeted for young women ages 12 and up.

What Guess Athletic and others contend with are constant shifts in supply and demand. While they will never rival Nike or Reebok’s market share, a number of clever niche players could grab a small bite of the fashion athletics pie. Rebels, Los Angeles, for example, introduced two fashion athletic styles for spring, the company’s first step into this category. Priced around $22.50 wholesale, the rubber-bottomed, suede or fabric-upper shoes for high instep are targeted towards department stores and boutiques.

“We introduced the kids’ styles because we were doing well on the women’s level,” said Kellee McCormack, co-owner.

Then there’s the important upscale casual athletics niche – exemplified by Italian import Superga, shown by Foreign Invasions, New York – that can be found in better specialty stores such as Barney’s, and independents such as Little Eric. And another section of the girls’ market, Oshkosh B’Gosh, Oshkosh, Wis., does well based on the strong brand recognition factor. At Oshkosh, as with Guess Athletic, basics perform the best at retail. Jennifer May, product manager, said the company has two categories – a basic, lower-priced group, and a more elaborately patterned higher-priced category. The number one athletic shoe in the lower-priced category is a basic leather lace-to-toe at an entry level price point of $12.50. The best seller last fall in the higher price range was a girls’ leather high-top athletic wholesaling for $17.75.

Like many other vendors, May said the OshKosh athletic category is not yet fully established and sales have been flat so far this year “The whole category is tough,” she said. “Either someone is marketing a gimmick that is unisex, so you have that choice, or they are doing something very feminine. We’ve chosen to do something specifically for girls.”

But despite the challenges, many remain optimistic. At L.A. Gear; the girls fashion athletic business is growing, in both specialty athletic and department store channels, said Jim Moodhe, vice president design, marketing and development. He therefore doesn’t feel the market is saturated, and said L.A. Gear will continue tooput emphasis on product specifically designed for young girls.

“The market is so wide open for girls’ athletics,” said Glenn Spencer, who heads up the Esprit kids division at Vida Shoes, New York Another niche player with potential for capitalizing on its recognizable brand, Esprit has bumped up the classic flower-embroidery idea by using vivid color combinations and touches like zigzag stitching and patent

While girls often buy shoes designed for boys, Esprit hopes to use its girl-specific designs and sizing as its bargaining chip. “Sam & Libby is delivering. And Reebok and Nike are moving into it, but they are more function over fashion,” said Spencer. There’s a tremendous opportunity for the mainline retailer to get into this business and get some of the thunder from it”.

Three DJs, three questions: taking the temperature at the Winter Music Conference

Cornering an A-list DJ for a quick sit-down during Winter Music Conference used to require the craftiness of a tabloid reporter. But this year, media-focused events like the Music Lounge, organized by BMF Media and sponsored by Sirius Satellite Radio, and Remix Hotel, featuring a Beatport-sponsored DJ stage, made it almost too easy to corral the big names. Here, the No. 1 DJs in the world (Paul Van Dyk), in New York (Victor Calderone) and among the international jet set (David Guetta) give WMC a once-over.


Van Dyk: I use a lot of technology onstage, as much as in the studio, so it’s a very interesting convention for me to see what’s new, get contacts and maybe even develop new pieces of gear. Just yesterday I had a meeting with the guys from Ableton, who make the programs that I use. It was really geeky brainstorming, getting really techy, and we came up with an idea of this super-duper machine, a combination of hardware and software.

Guetta: It’s just having a lot of fun with all my friends, meeting people who I work with all the year through the Internet and don’t get to see so much. That makes you come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have. I just saw Armand Van Helden and the guys from Dirty South, and i said, “Oh, I didn’t think of you, maybe you could do a remix of my next single,” and they were like, “Oh, great. We love you.” When you’re in an office, you don’t necessarily think of everyone.


Van Dyk: I’m a huge fan of Placebo. “Pierrot the Clown” is already one of my favorite songs ever.

Calderone: I’m going back to my roots. The music I’ve been shopping and buying and what’s been inspiring me is techno from everywhere. I see people connecting to it as well. People in New York who were listening to tribal and deep house, everybody’s like, “Techno, techno, techno.” Holy shit, this is a techno conference.

Guetta: It seems to me that everything is going back to house. The minimal techno stuff was very big in Europe. I was really into the electro sound, but I’m backing up a bit now because everybody is playing that, and it’s becoming kind of boring. So I’m trying to mix this vibe with my roots, which are really house music and vocals. Of course, I’m interested in new sounds, but I think you need more than just a kick and a bassline.


Van Dyk: It’s very healthy and always growing with amazing music. Those little elements you would criticize don’t even count.

Calderone: The frustrating thing for me is the support, and I don’t mean the fans–they’re there. The support from radio, the music channels. Everybody gets inspired by dance music and everybody takes a little bit from it. Look at Madonna. Yet people don’t want to take the risk to put it out there, support it, play it on the radio, give it its moment.

Guetta: It’s very different because in my country I do prime-time TV shows, I do major advertising campaigns, and when i speak to my colleagues here, they are like, “This would be impossible in the States.” But at the same time, it’s much less difficult than I thought. I started my U.S. tour expecting very little, and the welcome in the clubs was so warm, it was packed everywhere. You don’t have the media representation, but the scene is strong, and the enthusiasm of the people is huge. It reminds me of 15 years ago in Europe.

Ashley Beedle: dancefloor polymath

A DJ, producer, re-mixer, label owner and re-edit king, this Bajan-British dance legend has been a connoisseur of the good groove since his career began in earnest during the 80s. Beedle’s productions reflect his broad-ranging influences and collecting habits, forming a genre-defying patchwork reminiscent of his famously diverse DJ sets, which he continues to perform today. The recent anthology, Message In The Music, comprises an epic and inspiring selection of Beedle‘s reshapes of soul, funk, rare groove and post-punk cuts; an astonishing journey through the wide-ranging appetites of this dance music innovator.

What do you collect, and why?

I collect records from right across the board, whatever catches my ear and eye –titles that are suggested by friends, stuff I hear on radio and things I read about … including in Record Collector, naturally.

How big is your collection?

That’s nobody’s business but my own … but it’s large enough to keep all the ladies satisfied.

What do you think it is worth?

The monetary aspect isn’t really what it’s about for me. These are my war stories and they make up the soundtrack of my life.

How and where do you store it?

They’re stored in a Cold War bunker. without damp problems!

What’s the rarest/most unusual/most valuable item you have?

My most valuable in terms of sentimental value is the Rattlebone & Ploughjack LP on Island from 1976–devised and compiled by Ashley Hutchings of Fairport Convention fame, and signed to my dad with two letters from Hutchings inside the inner sleeve. Dad was a huge fan of Ashley Hutchings/Fairport Convention and it’s one of my most treasured albums.

Any elusive gems that you’re still looking for?

Living Color’s Thank The Lord For Love 7″ on Madhatter … a serious gospel dancer. I know a lady that’s got one, but she ain’t givin’ it up!

What’s given you the biggest thrill?

Having to remix Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Get Up, Stand Up using Damien Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock as the basis for the groove. I have to thank my friend Ross Allen for sorting that one out. I’ve had a couple of great link-ups with the Marley family over the years, but this one was definitely the best. They even put it out on a Tuff Gong 7″ in Jamaica–a huge honour.

How do you track stuff down?

Friends, contacts, dealers and people I’m not going to tell you about. This business is sacred!

What’s your favourite record shop?

In the south, it’s Soul Jazz and Dub Vendor in Soho. In the North, it’s all about Beatin’ Rhythm, Kingbee and Piccadilly Records in Manchester.

How often do you listen to the stuff in your collection?

On a daily basis–it gives me my ideas for upcoming projects, as well as providing the working tools for DJing … It’s also an unadulterated pleasure.

Is the visual side of collecting records important to you?

Yeah, of course! The labels, the inner sleeves, the album covers. Who couldn’t love the look of a Studio One or UK white Island label; or, for that matter, an early Tamla or Motown 7″ with the hand-drawn penny farthing or record player design on the stock bag; or those CBS inner sleeves and legendary Atlantic 7″ covers from the 50s …? The list is just endless.

How will you eventually dispose of your record collection?

I’ll have them all thrown into my grave with me, scattered on top of my coffin like a Viking burial. They’re coming with me, over to the other side … Sorry kids, but that’s your inheritance down the Swanee.

What’s your all-time favourite record, regardless of its value or rarity?

It has to be The 5th Dimension’s Everything’s Been Changed 7″ on Bell, produced by the legendary Bones Howe (he of The Mamas & The Papas fame). But that’s only my favourite record right now, it could change anytime. Ask me again in five years … five hours … or even five minutes.

18 rated delay and modulation effects

This roundup of new delay and modulation pedals may lack a unifying theme, but then so does the marketplace. So much the better — as never before, we can choose among the best of new and old technologies. Crafty digital designers continue to cram more features into smaller boxes at lower prices, while vintage tone custodians safeguard arcane signal processing lore from the’60s and ’70s. As we consider everything from bargain do-it-all boxes to pricey specialty items, it’s not so much a case of apples and oranges as apples and octopi.

The biggest decision facing today’s pedal consumer may be “How good is good enough?” Do you need a Carl Martin chorus pedal, or can you make do with the not-bad chorusing on the DigiTech XP-200, which costs $145 less while offering many other effects plus realtime control? Do you need to cough up $295 for the freak-out features of the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, or will the lovely but relatively limited Ibanez Echomachine satiate you at $140? Don’t ask us — we’re still trying to figure it out for ourselves, though we have attempted to evaluate each device in light of its own price-point aspirations.

Unless otherwise noted, all pedals are U.S.-made. Those that require AC power come with adapters or built-in power supplies. All that can run on batteries have an AC option, but none come with adapters.

The ART Xtreme Plus is more multi-effector than stompbox The AC-powered unit combines four flavors of distortion and 100 digital effects presets in a sleek black box that costs about the same as many of the single-function boxes surveyed here. There are 100 memory slots for storing overdrive/effects combinations. You can’t edit the effects, but they’re grouped as ten variations on ten effects combinations delay, long delay, reverb, chorus/flange + delay, delay + reverb, chorus/ flange + reverb, tremolo/panner + reverb, chorus/flange, chorus/flange + delay + reverb and pitch shift/panner/tremolo). So while you can’t, say, dial in a specific delay time in milliseconds, you may find a workable approximation.

The digital effects quality is about typical for a rack or pedal multi-effector in this price range. More surprising are the buff distortion sounds and macho tone control section, whose 3-band EQ with sweepable mid adds greatly to the unit’s range. The distortions aren’t subtle or especially dynamic. They don’t clean up as much as you might like when you back off the guitar’s volume pot, and since it’s a big leap from the squeaky-clean crystal” setting to the mildest of the distortion settings, the Xtreme is not a good choice for anyone seeking modest overdrive. But those hungering for hearty, meat-and-potatoes rock tones won’t be disappointed by the big-bottomed nimble. You can’t store EQ settings, drive amount or effects wet/ dry mixes with the effects, though there is a dedicated knob for each function. But even with such limited programmability, the Xtreme Plus delivers a huge range of decent sounds at a remarkable price — and its tough metal housing puts to shame comparably priced plastic pedalboards. It includes stereo and headphone outs.

The edit knob gradations are quite fine — it takes some finesse to zero in on your target program. (Rob Reed of ART says that it will be easier to change effects on subsequent production models.) Two rubber footpads advance you through the program while a large LED displays their numbers. There’s no bank structure — you must step through the effects one at a time, which means you’ll need to map out in advance which programs you require and store them to adjacent memory slots.

Since much of the unit’s character resides in the drive and EQ sections, the Xtreme Plus will more readily cough up contrasting tones at home (where you can tweak between takes) than onstage. Live, it’s best for switching between a few basic flavors. The wall-wart power supply is included. Comments: “A nice, tight package.” A bit hard to edit.” A great starter effects pedal.” ” Honest distortions for players who want to rock out.”

Carl Martin pedals are made in Denmark and distributed by those other great Danes, TC Electronic. They’re not clones of the TC pedals, but their hi-fi sound and quality construction have a definite TC vibe. The Chorus xII is actually two identical chorus effects in one box with separate rate and depth controls for each. It’s great for switching silently and instantly between, say, a slow, subtle sweep and a hyperactive swoosh. There are stereo outputs, a classy built-in power supply (no battery option) and twin LEDs that blink in sync with the modulation. The mono chorused sound is thick and even, without the vowel-like EQ quirks we associate with some of our favorite chorus pedals. It’s more audiophile than eccentric. But any flatness disappears in stereo, where the xII really comes to life with one of the most lush and detailed stereo images we’ve heard. Comments: “A hi-fi, Eric Johnson-type tone.” “Plan on using it in stereo.” Reminds me of what I used to like about stereo chorus.”

The latest pedal from the new company operating under the old Danelectro name boasts the same classy construction, bargain price and funky — cool styling (think’57 Chevy) as the overdrive pedals they introduced earlier this year. The Chinese-made Cool Cat Chorus is a classy, straightforward stereo chorus with simple rate and depth controls. It requires two 9-volt batteries or an 18-volt power supply and delivers a thick, full tone with a nice, ringy high end. Its chorusing is not as compact and focused as, say, an old Boss CE- 1 — it has a more diffuse, fullfrequency pulsation with a distinctive shimmer. While the Cool Cat never gets weird, it always sounds nice, especially in stereo, where its tactile qualities stand out even more. It also boasts one of the better battery compartments of this roundup. Comments: “Voiced just right for guitar. “A real bargain.” “Sounds sweet and analog.” “Halfway between the’70s sound of a CE- 1 and the’80s sound of a TC.”

The DigiTech XP-200 may be the most genuinely innovative effects pedal since, well, DigiTech’s WhammyPedal, its obvious inspiration. The built-in rocker pedal affords realtime control over six variations each of six flavors of modulation effect (rotary speaker simulation, chorus, flanging, phasing, vibrato, tremolo/pan). There’s also a volume pedal function and a built-in tuner. Wow. Each program assigns a single parameter to the control pedal. The six flanging programs, for example, include shallow, medium and deep modulations with the pedal regulating the amount of effect, two manual flange settings where the pedal controls the sweep frequency, and a triggered flange with the pedal setting trigger sensitivity.

The XP-200 is every bit as clever and useful as it sounds, but the effects quality, while impressive for the price, is not state-of-the-art. If you’re using pricey, top-shelf modulation effects, you’ll have to weigh the Xp-200’s compactness and affordability against its sonic compromises. The rotary speaker sounds are definitely the star effects, even if they’re not nearly as stellar as those on DigiTech’s $579 RPM- I Leslie impersonator. Switching between the fast, slow and brake speeds feels more like massaging a Leslie than tweaking a MIDI controller — well done! The chorus and flange are pleasant but not as creamy as one might hope-there’s a slight metallic edge-and the vibrato and trem feel a bit mechanical. But by any reckoning, the 200 delivers an insane amount of processing power at a stunning price. And the XP-200 lets you play with many sounds (pedal-driven trem speed, for example) that few if any boutique jobs provide.

There are stereo outputs (the effects sounds sweeping and dramatic through dual amps), a wall-wart power supply and an input level trim pot If you’re used to playing through fixed-input stompboxes, be aware that it can be tricky finding an input level high enough to preserve your sound, but with enough headroom not to fry when you kick in the best distortion pedal for metal. Footpads let you slip into bypass and advance through the programs one by one. Darting through the program is tricky (back-scrolling is particularly awkward), but a clever user-memory function lets you store six faves in adjacent memory locations for easy transitions. There’s a momentary signal dropout when you change programs.

Including a timer was a brilliant idea, but this particular tuner is a total bummer. LED dashes spin clockwise and counter-clockwise to denote sharp and flat. Most of us intuitively associate up/down and left/right with sharp/flat, but the spinning dashes have no such connotations. Furthermore, the center “in tune” slot is very fine, so it’s easy to feel like you’re lost in a seasick spiral. Even after using the pedal for two gigs, I was confused — and much more out-of-tune than usual. It would be much easier if the two input-level LEDS indicated sharp and flat. Switching to tuner mode doesn’t mute your output signal, but you can do so by accessing the tuner from within the volume pedalprogram.

Still, the XP-200 wins top marks for creativity, multi-functionality and value. Comments: “Nicely laid out-intelligent, compact and attractive.” “Good rotary sounds.” The most absurd tuner design I’ve ever seen.” “Some of the effects have a painted-on, metallic quality.” “With just this box and a distortion pedal, you could get a huge number of tones.”

The DOD FX96 Echo FX delivers an impressive imitation of tape delay at a fair price. Besides the usual delaytime, feedback and mix controls, there’s an ingenious “tape quality” pot that rolls off highs on the echoes, making them sound, well, crappier — and the desire for the right kind of crappiness is, after all, why certain players favor persnickety antique delays over today’s reliable digital models. This cool feature makes the FX96 a great choice for those seeking rockabilly-style slapback. The catch is that the pedal is only capable of ultra-short delays — the maximum delay time is about the shortest you’d find anywhere. While maximum feedback on short delays with the highs rolled off yields a uniquely eerie ambiance, the Echo FX is definitely not a trippy echo machine. But it sounds great for what it does and would work splendidly paired with a second delay pedal set to a longer, dreamier setting. Comments: “Total Scotty Moore.” “Sounds great-how do I get it to do longer echoes? Oh.” “A pocket-sized Echoplex — provided you only need slap.”

The only dedicated Ranger in this roundup with stereo outputs, DOD’s FX747 Supersonic Stereo Flange unleashes spacious sweeps through two amps. The tones have an assertive, toothy quality that veers more toward metallic than warm. It serves up striking effects at higher regeneration settings, but doesn’t quite match the arcing, around-the-moon sweeps of, say, an ADA Flanger. Besides the requisite rate, depth and regeneration controls, there’s a level pot to regulate the intensity of the flanged signal. But there’s no manual control, so you can’t get those tuned-resonance metal-percussion/steel-drum effects. Comments: “Nice graininess.” “A little underwhelming-where are the jet plane swooshes?” “Sounds deeper and richer in stereo.”

One thing you can say about Electro-Harmonix effects: Step on one and you damn well know it’s there. Their recently reissued Deluxe Memory Man is no exception — it’s a big, boisterous delay that probably comes closer to capturing the anarchic joys of tape delay than any other non-tape unit. Its unique delay tone is bright, even a bit metallic, inclining more toward crispy impact than the softer, cushier tone of certain other analog delay pedals. The real action is in the delay controls. They’re the usual time/feedback/mix pots, but with exceptional range. Higher regeneration settings unleash blistering, speaker-torturing oscillation; twiddling the delay pot in the midst of said oscillation will bring noise complaints from the neighbors in seconds. Yum.

The chorus/vibrato section provides additional trippy colors, but note that the effect is a primitive one-a broad, woozy detuning, not the sweeping, cushy sound we now associate with the term “chorusing.” A switch toggles between chorus and vibrato modes (the same effect at different rates) while a knob regulates effect intensity. There are separate outs for the dry and effect signals and an input level control, making this gadget a definite contender for all-around studio applications. But as with any effects pedal with an adjustable input level, it can be tricky finding a level high enough to sound hot, but with enough headroom not to fry when you pour on the fuzz (though the large overload LED helps). Actually, sonic perverts may find they enjoy the sound of overdriving the Memory Man’s input. The Deluxe comes in a metal housing that seems at least as durable as the originals. It’s AC-only-there’s built-in power supply with a genuinely stageworthy power cable. Kudos.

Those seeking extravagant, brain-lacerating delay effects should proceed directly to the Deluxe Memory Man. Comments: “That’s an effect!” “The early Pink Floyd pedal.” “A straight-up bomb!” “Definitely gets the psychedelic award.”

A bit reminiscent of the influential ADA Hanger, the Japanese-made Ibanez FL99 Classic Flange Dual Analog Flanger excels at both bread-and-butter flanged tones and whackedout effects. Besides the usual rate, depth and regeneration pots, there’s a manual control for accessing those nifty tuned-resonance metal-percussion effects. There’s also a designated “intensity” switch that torques up the flanging effect (it switches between subtle high-end modulation and a full-frequency whoosh) plus a filter toggle that gives the midrange a vowel-like, notchedwah contour. In fact, the FL99 is an intensely midrange-oriented device. While its vocal qualities are remarkable, it doesn’t match the gutter-to-heavens sweep of an ADA. Still, there are a lot of colors here, all of them detailed and usable. But while many of its sounds are out of this world, we wish the FL99 conformed to the terrestrial norm of situating the input jack to the right and the output to the left, not the perverse reverse. The mono-only device requires AC power (wall-wart included). Comments: “Huge variety of textures.” “Gets well into the sound-effects realm.” “Warm and rich.”

Funky, funky, funky! The Ibanez PH99 Classic Phase Analog Dual Wave Phaser absolutely nails the fluid-squirting flavor of classic’70s funk. It’s stunningly organic — it can sound like someone talking, chewing or worse. Like its cosmetic twin, the FL99, the Classic Phase has four knobs (speed, depth, feedback and effect level) plus an intensity switch and an extra sound-shaping toggle, which in this case selects between sine-and square-wave modulation. Much of the fun resides in the feedback pot, which offers funny, fleshy colors throughout its range. There’s no thinness anywhere — if anything, the handsomely voiced modulation enhances the low end. The PH99 is more than a funk machine–extreme settings elicit tweeter-frying glides and whistles that will delight anyone trying to insinuate guitar tracks into techno music. Like the FL99, this Japanese-made pedal requires AC power and has irritating, reverse-mounted input and output jacks. Comments:”A very capable phaser.” “Some very unique sounds.” “Tons of range.”

The modest Ibanez EM5 Echomachine was one of the sweet little surprises of our roundup. Gorgeous analogdelay tones lurk within the EM5’s humble plastic “potato bug” housing. Nothing fancy-just the usual echo time, echo repeat and wet/dry mix pots. But the Taiwan-made Echomachine strikes a lovely balance between fuzzy warmth and articulate clarity, one that recalls the pre-digital delay pedals of Boss and Ibanez. The EM5’s echoes degenerate with a convincingly tape-like loss of highs. With a whopping (for an inexpensive analog pedal) 600ms of delay time and regeneration settings that venture well into the psycho zone, the EM5 excels at everything from primitive slaps to acid-washed chaos. There’s only one output, so you can’t separate the wet and dry mix. The plastic enclosure doesn’t inspire supreme confidence, but at a fraction of the cost of a vintage or boutique analog delay pedal, the EM5 definitely merits consideration. Everybody who heard this pedal liked it. Comments: “Great balance of sparkle and warmth.” A big winner.” “Dibs!”

The Crystal Chorus is one of a recent series of Morley pedals packaged in simple boxes with sporty metal-flake finishes. The only controls are rate and depth. The chorus sound has a distinctive thickness, almost as if there were a short slapback delay added to the effect, albeit with no perceptible attack There are stereo outputs, and the effect sounds very pleasant through dual amps. But everyone agreed that the battery compartment is a major bummer. Attaching the metal cover plate with a piece of fishing-line-type filament is a nice idea, but it’s difficult stuffing the battery, wires and plastic line into the compartment. The sharp metal edges of the plate made us nervous, and players who rely on their fingernails should beware the fussy latch. It’s a bad arrangement for stressfull, mid-set battery changes. Also, it’s rather difficult to insert cables into the pedal’s input and output jacks. True, the plugs sit nice and tight once they’re in, but inserting them feels as if you’re trying to force them into a block of hard cheese. (You’ll find the same battery compartment and jacks on the other Morley devices covered here.) Comments: “Decent chorus.” “Cool-looking box.” “My fingers are killing me, man!”

Morley’s Sapphire Flanger comes in the same cool box There are three knobs: speed, travel, regeneration. The Sapphire works fine for simple, understated flanging, but the device doesn’t attain the freaky extremes some players demand. Its basic tone has the toothy, textured striations you want from a flanger, but even with the regeneration floored you don’t get the big, arcing whistle you might expect. There’s no manual control, so there are no static-resonance steel-drum-type effects. But the essential color is a musical, vocal-sounding sweep that’s rich without being muddy. Comments: “Sounds attractive.” “Nice, but a little underwhelming.”

The tone of Morley’s Emerald Echo is thoroughly analog-funky It can sound remarkably like a tape echo with worn tape and dirty heads, which is precisely the tone many delay freaks seek. The mix control lets you output 100% delayed signal, which may be relevant for special effects or adding a lo-fi effects send to your mixer. But since the regeneration maxes out at a half-dozen delays, you can’t get extravagant feedback or runaway saturation. Comments: “Really sounds like old tape.” “Grungy but unexciting.”

Morley’s battery-powered Echo Plus deploys a rocker-style pedal in its analog delay circuit. In echo mode the treadle controls the wet/dry mix, a pair of knobs sets the echo time (up to 300ms, about par for  best analog delay pedal) and regeneration amount. A footswitch shifts you to chorus/vibrato mode, where the treadle sets the modulation speed while a knob regulates modulation depth. Chorus and delay are not available simultaneously.

It’s a clever arrangement. Regulating the delay mix by foot is a powerful expression tool — you can, for example, downplay the delay for clarity on busy passages but floor it at the ends of phrases for a spacious effect. And continually adjusting the chorus speed cuts a fair approximation of a rotating speaker. The Plus’s delay is attractively dark and lo-fi, suitable for rockabilly slaps and gentle undulations. But as on the Emerald Echo, maximum regeneration only yields a half-dozen echoes, not the runaway feedback you’d expect on a tape-flavored delay — not good for those seeking freaky effects. “Chorus /vibrato” refers here to a single effect — thick chorusing with pronounced detuning. There are dual outputs, and the chorusing sounds nice in stereo. The chromeplated steel housing, similar to that of Morley’s popular wah pedals, is sturdy and substantial. The Echo Plus doesn’t match the range and depth of some of its competitors, but it affords useful control over several handsome sounds. “Nice, basic sounds.” “Pleasant.” (Bill Wenzloff of Morley says, “We wanted these four pedals to stay within the usable, average settings that most musicians want. We purposely did not include the extreme sounds.”)

The two newest pedals from RFX come in identical utilitarian housings. The top-mounted battery compartment with its detachable lid is ideal for quick changes. Both pedals have clever dual footswitches that may demand extra finesse from clumsy people with big feet. The boardmounted plastic input jacks feel a bit cheap. The RFX PanelO is a crafty little tremolo/pan pedal with stereo outputs and inputs, which is great if you want to situate it at the end of your signal chain after another stereo effect. Another cool detail is a knob that fades between sine and square modulation (there are some very pretty pulsations in between). There are the usual rate and depth pots as well. The dual-pad footswitch lets you select between mono and stereo operation, which struck most of us as a rather specialized option. (If you’re using a single amp, stereo is irrelevant, and if you’re using two, you’ll probably want the stereo spread most of the time.) The tremolo sound is pleasant, if not as creamy and multi-dimensional as on pricier boutique trems.

The PhaseOVibe is a dual phase-shifter/vibrato with speed, depth and regeneration controls. The latter affords access to a surprisingly broad palette of mono sounds, from ’60s-style phasing with a dramatic flange-like sweep to lush, watery animations. A footswitch shifts to vibrato mode, a hip and highly musical variation on tremolo. Both broad detuning effects and subtle pulsations have a sexy, watery quality. Comments: “Really has that fluid sound.” “Lots of nice, unique tones.”

While it’s quite adept at the Fender- and Vox-flavored tones that make vintage vultures circle overhead, Rocktron’s The Surf Tremolo is much more than just another boutique trem. The Surf includes HUSH noise reduction and a high-end enhancement circuit; placed near the end of your signal chain, the pedal can correct the high-end signal loss and noise problems you get from running through a lot of boxes. There are separate on/off switches for trem and compression; you can also negate the HUSH effect by setting a minimum threshold via a dedicated knob. Additional knobs set the enhance amount, compression threshold and, of course, tremolo rate and depth. There are no additional parameters for the HUSH, enhance and compress functions, but they’re optimized for guitar signals and seem to work just fine as they are. There are separate outputs for triangle- and square-wave tremolo modulations; between them, you can get everything from naturalistic tube-type pulsation to Apocalypse Now helicopter chops as rate LEDs pulse in time. The Surf comes in Rocktron’s usual munitions-grade housing, one of the studliest available.

If this pedal only provided trem, it would be significant; with noise reduction, compression and enhance, it’s real stop-the-presses stuff. The only thing we might wish for is a switch or toggle for shifting between the two modulation waveforms without replugging. Also, the battery compartment fastens with two tiny screws-that’s three pieces to lose.

The Surf excels at both classic trem effects and an over-the-top flickering that’s perfect for technofied, trancey textures. Comments. “Killer!” “Whoa!” “Game over, man!”

The Voodoo Lab Analog Chorus is a faithful sonic clone of the old Boss CE-1, the 1976 pedal that first popularized chorusing. To many the CE- I remains the definitive chorus, more focused and less syrupy than its ’80s and ’90s descendants. its color is strikingly vocal, with an attractive asymmetrical sweep that helps keep the effect from sounding overly mechanical. Like the original, the Voodoo Lab version is a mono-only effect with a distinctive organic tone. It comes in the company’s usual compact, stageworthy housing. Comments: “Warm, pulsing and sexy.” “Lots of shimmer.”

Conclusions. Despite a few drawbacks, Digitech’s XP-200 Modulator is the very model of innovative design and bargain pricing. Rocktron’s The Surf is a blow-you-out-of-the-water winner with great tones and exceptional features. ART’s Xtreme Plus, the Ibanez Echomachine and Danelectro’s Cool Cat offer classy sounds at remarkable prices. The Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man wins top honors in the Psychoactive Subversion division, and pedalphiles craving new pulsations are directed toward the watery RFX PhaseOVibe and funky Ibanez PH99 phaser.

Electrix Filter Factory and MO-FX

Despite the occasional panic attack about DJs supplanting “real” musicians, guitarists and turntable wizards seem to have settled into peaceful coexistence. Players such as Tom Morello and Buckethead have borrowed liberally from the DJ lexicon, and certain virtuoso DJs have appropriated theatrics and stompboxes from the 6-string side of the fence. Two new “guitar relevant” turntable tools from Electrix are likely to accelerate the crosstalk.

Because the Filter Factory Analog High Order Filter and MOFX Time Synchronized FX approach signal processing from a non-guitar perspective, they can create sounds you won’t get from any guitar processor. Both boxes are rack mountable, but they’re closer in spirit to stompboxes than standard rack effects. Neither unit is programmable–they’re meant to be played in real time, with the user entering tempos and tones on the fly. The key word is synchronization: These machines were devised to let DJs introduce complex effects that are zip-locked to dance beats, which makes them instantly intriguing for any guitarist seeking timed-to-tempo modulation, echoes, and filtering. Both boxes offer full MIDI implementation (all functions can be controlled in real time via a sequencer), but thanks to their ingenious tap-tempo features, you needn’t come within a mile of a MIDI cable to get synced effects.

Both units are approximately 4″ deep and have rugged metal housings. When not installed in a rack, they tilt back on rubber pads at a perfect angle for desktop (or amp-top) use. They sport built-in power supplies and big, comfortably spaced knobs and switches. Every button is illuminated, so it’s easy to discern settings at a glance and enter changes quickly. The rear panels include 1/4″ and RCA-style stereo inputs and outputs, on/off switches, MIDI jacks (In, Out, and Thru), and 1/4″ jacks for optional bypass footswitches. No additional footswitch control is provided–you must turn the effects on and off with your fingers.

For guitarists, the biggest problem with both boxes is their lack of input and output level controls. You’ll have no trouble connecting them to an effects send in your home studio, but placing them between a guitar and amp can be tricky, as the units weren’t designed for the relatively low output of guitar pickups. You can plug straight into the units, but the processing is little more dramatic and a lot less noisy when you boost your signal with a preamp or direct box. (Another solution is to use an amp that has a buffered effects loop.) Results vary from guitar to guitar, and you may need to experiment a bit to discover the best configuration for your particular setup.

Filter Factory Analog High Order Filter

In terms of complexity, the Filter Factory ($530) occupies an appealing middle ground between the powerful Sherman Filter Bank and lower-priced units such as the Big Briar Moogerfooger. The Filter Factory lacks the Sherman’s multiple oscillators, immense triggering options, and dual filter stages, but it is much easier to use. In fact, it may be even easier than the Moogerfooger–which is remarkable when you consider that the Moogerfooger is strictly a lowpass filter, while the Filter Factory lets you select between lowpass-, highpass-, bandpass-, and notchfilter options.

The multiple stereo filter options make it possible to get everything from fat retro-analog sweeps and ravishing notch-filtered phase shifting to Funkadelic farts and tweeter-shredding mayhem. Thanks to the sync-to-tempo LFO functions, it’s easy to make the Filter Factory throb, shimmer, or vomit in time to your tunes. Simply tap in a tempo, select one of four modulating waveforms, and dial in a ratio of pulsations-per-tap. (The ratios range from one pulsation every four beats to eight pulsations per beat.) You can also bypass the LFO section and use the Filter Factory as a Mu-Tron III-style envelope follower, with the filter contours tracking your picking dynamics.

Equally awesome is the Buzz section. Heard in isolation, the fuzz sound is undistinguished, but when you combine the distortion section with the multifaceted filter, stand back. Anyone who has ever paired a wah with a good fuzz has some idea of the magical ways distortion and filtering can interact. But if that’s as far as you’ve explored, prepare to be astonished.

So far, so great–but there’s more. A pair of momentary buttons activate the distortion and filter effects only as long as they’re pressed. They may not be much use onstage without a third hand, but they yield amazing sounds in the studio. Try playing a track back through the Filter Factory while tapping rhythms on the momentary switches. Once again, mind-bending results are almost guaranteed.

And there are even more goodies. An ingenious Singleshot switch transforms the sawtooth, inverse sawtooth, and triangle waveforms into triggerable envelopes–typically triggered via the device’s filter momentary switch–where you can control how many times the envelope will trigger and its decay time. Another extra is a 4-pole mono switch that intensifies the filter effects by summing the signals from the left and right inputs. (The unit’s default is a stereo, 2-pole-per-channel mode.) There are many cool, neo-retro filter units out there, but for guitarists, the Filter Factory is the coolest of them all.

MO-FX Time Synchronized FX

Think of the MO-FX ($550) as a string of non-programmable stompboxes (distortion, flange, tremolo, and delay) in fixed order. But several features make the MO-FX much more than a conveniently packaged bank of effects. The device lets you sync your flange, trem, and delay effects to one tapped-in tempo. As on the Filter Factory, you have a choice of modulation ratios, and you can set them independently for each modulation effect. You might, say, tap in a song’s quarter-note pulse, specifying an eighth-note tremolo throb, dotted-quarter-note delays, and a slow flange sweep that cycles around every two measures. Disable the sync for any effect and the rate knob works as on a conventional stompbox–meaning you can time your delays and trems precisely, and also program an asynchronous flange sweep.

There’s another feature likely to startle guitarists: Each of the three modulation effects has an independent bandwidth control that lets you apply the effect to only the low, mid, or high frequencies–or any combination thereof. That’s seven possible bandwidth settings per module! This feature unlocks many subtle processing shades: the desiccated crackle of high-band-only delays, the throaty edge of midrange-only trem, and the odd hollowness of “sans midrange” flanging. As on the Filter Factory, each module has a momentary switch. Again, this feature is probably most relevant for processing already recorded tracks in the studio, although it’s possible to trigger a delay or a flange sweep over a sustained chord while onstage.

While some players may even find the MOFX’s basic effects a bit bland, the band controls and coordinated synchronization more than make up for any perceived lack of character. The distortion section has little personality by itself, but it’s great for slamming the front end of an amp or exaggerating the impact of a favorite fuzzbox. There are no distortion tone controls per se, though you can route the effect through the band selectors of the other effects for weird, edgy tones.

The flanger delivers both subtle pulsation and howling sweeps. Most of the fun resides in the band control–flanging just the top frequencies produces a glassy shimmer and modulating only the lows and mids with modest regeneration yields a reasonable approximation of a Uni-Vibe. The tremolo is more mechanical and linear sounding than a tube trem, but it’s still musical. And while some stompbox trems have double-the-rate switches, none let you flick between so many pulse-to-tempo ratios as here. Furthermore, you get a choice of seven modulators–from gentle sine and triangle waves to choppier square waves of varying pulse widths. Extreme settings elicit a radical chopping akin to the “slicer” effect on current Boss multi-effectors.

The delay section offers mono and stereo ping-pong delays of up to 2.6 seconds. Again, the novelty resides in the band selector. Processing only the lows and mids creates a nice impersonation of a funky tape delay. Regenerating just the highs conjures a spooky sizzle.

Mo’ Thoughts

Some players may pine for guitar-friendly features (such as adjustable input and output levels, an onboard noise gate, distortion EQ, and a post-effects EQ stage), but these Electrix boxes will reward the adventurous with thrilling new tones. If you prefer stompboxes to rack effects, but wish it were easier to get your tremolo and delay to sync to the beat, consider perching a MO-FX on your amp. And if you’re the sort of tone pervert who gets worked up over cruel and unusual distortion and filtering, just try keeping your sweaty hands off the Filter Factory. These Electrix boxes win high marks for fun, innovation, quality, and ease of use.

Invicta watches review of the best watches you can give to a woman

Every woman will treasure her entire wardrobe forever. No matter how expensive or cheap it may be, they take good care of every item. Are you looking to surprise those special women with gifts but cannot decide? Well, it’s alright then. Wrist watches have become a popular fashion accessory that every woman loves to flaunt. The best part about a watch is that it will suit a person of any age. They are classic. It saves you all that worry about trend, color, size and many other things. To help you get started with your search, here is an gold Invicta watches review about their gorgeous collection.

  • Women’s 0127 wild flower collection

This watch befits your luxurious style during the day and during night. The round casing is brushed and polished with a silver plated stainless steel casing. On the top is bezel which is plated with 18k gold. Twenty four magnificent looking Austrian crystals are studded onto the bezel. The perfectly cut stones are continued down in two lines at the center on both sides of the bracelet.

The bracelet is double toned with silver and gold. The small, round and white dial features the hour and minute markings in gold plated match indices. The Arabic numeral 12 is at the top. All the hands all gold toned as well and the case is protected with a flame fusion crystal. It is also water resistant up to 165 feet depth. The case is 21 millimeter in diameter and 10 millimeter in thickness. The band width is 12 millimeter. It weighs 7.2 ounces in total.

  • Women’s 0134 wild flower collection

This Invicta grand diver watch is completely gold toned. The bracelet is a stainless steel which is plated with 18k gold. It has metal clasping. The case is also gold plated and a golden bezel is fitted on top of it. The bezel is studded with 24 authentic white crystals. The crystal line continues down to the bracelet. The dial is small and round. The match stick indices are marked at the hour and minute positions. All the three hands are gold plated and operate accurately based on Swiss quartz movement.

A huge golden crown is provided at the side. You can start and stop the watch operation and set time using this knob. The dial is covered in flame fusion crystal. The diameter of the case is 22 millimeter and thickness is 8 millimeter. It weighs a total of 16 ounces. It proves effectively water resistant up to 165 feet depth

  • Women’s 0126 ll wild flower collection

This is so elegant and stylish. The whole watch is silver toned. The bracelet is stainless steel which is silver colored. So is the casing and bezel. Authentic Austrian crystals are fitted on top of the bezel and on the lugs. The dial is pure white with match stick indices for hour and minute markings. The hands and the markings are also silver toned.

The Invicta watches review of buyers on the websites shows that most of the customers awarded it with all stars rating. Be the next to rate.

A filter phrasebook

Guitarists haven’t embraced the new wave of filter effects with the same fervor as DJs and remixers, but that just means there’s more room for the filter fiends among us. Here are some tips to help you speak fluent filterese.

Filtering simply means boosting or cutting particular frequencies within a signal. The tone controls on a guitar or amp are filters. But when we speak of filter effects, we usually mean a process where the blend of frequencies changes over time. Consider the wah-wah pedal–the one filtering effect every electric guitarist knows. Wah pedals are bandpass filters, which means they boost specific frequencies within a signal while removing those above and below. Pushing the pedal changes the pitch, or frequency, of the filter. Bandwidth (sometimes called Q) refers to how wide a swath of frequencies is affected. Differences in bandwidth are among the traits that distinguish different wah pedals.

Notch filtering is the inverse of bandpass filtering, as a usually narrow frequency band is removed. Notch filtering is most often used to diminish unwanted noises, but it can also create subtle phase-shifted sounds.

The sweeping sound associated with analog synthesizers is lowpass filtering. Here, only the lower frequencies are allowed through the filter. The cutoff frequency (the highest frequency that can pass through the filter) can be defined by the music’s dynamics or by an envelope generator–a synthesizer circuit that lets you specify how quickly the filter opens, and how long it remains open. Guitarists are most aware of envelope generation through envelope followers–such as the Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron and that ’70s classic, the Mu-Tron III–where the filter envelope (and thus its cut-off frequency) is controlled by the player’s picking dynamics. The usual formula is louder equals brighter, but some devices let you reverse the equation.

Most synths and filter pedals also let you specify the amount of resonance-that is, the amount of emphasis the cutoff frequency receives. Resonance (sometimes referred to as regeneration) can add anything from a subtle edge to a brain-scrambling shriek. If you hear a high, whistling sound that swoops down in pitch as the filter closes, that means the tone has a lot of resonance.

Highpass filtering reverses the lowpass formula-only the upper frequencies make it past the filter. It’s less common as a guitar effect, but it can be great for generating eerie crackling sounds that can cut through any mix.

Classictone & Custom Valve 80

When Leo Fender launched his first 4×10 combo in 1954–the venerable Bassman–did he have any idea how popular the design would be? Not only did Marshall cop the Bassman’s circuit for its first amplifier, but the 4×10 speaker configuration proved to be a hit, as well, providing a bright, punchy tone with tons of dispersion. As the years went by, 4×10 combos of all types–especially the Fender Super Reverb–graced numerous recordings and stages. These new 4×10, all-tube combos from Koch and Traynor aim to bring modern refinements to the classic quad template.

Koch Classictone

Hailing from the land of clogs and gouda (i.e., the Netherlands), Koch Amplifiers has been making a name for itself stateside in recent years. The Classictone combo, Koch’s newest model, sports Clean and Overdrive channels with bass, treble, and midrange controls for each. The Clean channel has a single volume control, and Overdrive packs gain and volume knobs. Master controls include reverb like no other best analog reverb pedal (courtesy of a full-sized Accutronics tank), presence, and vibrato depth and speed. The included five-button footswitch allows you to switch channels, activate the vibrato and reverb, turn the effects loop on or off, and disengage the master volume.

Construction. The Classictone is ruggedly built. The black Tolex is neatly applied over a plywood cabinet, and the heavy-duty steel chassis sports a clean layout with nearly all of the circuit components (including the two Groove Tubes EL34s and four 12AX7s) residing on one large PC board.

Tones. Plugging a variety of guitars into the Classictone (including a ’72 Fender Tele, a Strat, and a Hamer Studio) yielded an impressive array of crystalline clean tones. The Clean channel’s EQ is conservatively voiced–don’t expect any severe sonic tweaks–but that’s okay, because the Classictone is one of those amps where the tone controls can be set at noon, and the amp still sounds good. Crank up the Clean channel, and the Classictone sounds like a vintage 4×10 combo on ephedrine. The tones exhibit the stringy detail and throaty honk that have put 4×10 combos on the map, while offering a more modern vibe with a crisper, less spongy attack. Very cool. The reverb doesn’t quite go to surf-extreme, but it’s super thick and musical. The vibrato is also excellent, yielding a choppier response than what you get from traditional Fender vibrato.

The Overdrive channel also features an EQ section that’s more suited for mild tone tweaks than sonic facelifts. With the gain halfway up, I got searing tones that were rife with rich midrange and sizzling (yet sweet) top-end. With single-coils, the treble was a bit bright, but a lower presence setting fixed that in a snap. The Classictone is also very dynamic, bending instantly to the will of your touch, or your guitar’s volume control.

Traynor Custom Valve 80 YCV80Q

The latest amp in Yorkville Sound‘s Traynor line, the Custom Valve 80 YCVSOQ, offers dual channels, each with an EQ complement of treble, mids, and bass. Channel 1–the overdrive section–also sports a gain control, a boost switch (which can be activated via the included two-button footswitch), and a scoop function. Channel 2 has a single volume control, as well as Bright and Expander buttons. Global controls include master volume and reverb.

Construction. Inside the Custom Valve’s painted 18-gauge steel chassis you’ll find all of the pots, jacks, switches, and tube sockets (for the Sovtek 5881s and three 12AX7s) mounted to PC boards. The plywood cabinet’s black leatherette covering looks okay, but there are slight imperfections where the material hugs the nooks and crannies.

Tones. Channel 1 (remember, this is the overdrive side) yields tough, ballsy tones with kick-ass midrange snarl. Engaging the boost produces the same tone–only louder–so I chose to leave it on all the time. There is plenty of gain on tap, but I found that keeping the gain around the half-way mark prevented the tones from becoming overly smeared–especially when playing complex chords. Even so, I was able to coax effortless feedback at reasonable volumes. The Scoop function is surprisingly effective at turning this combo into a modern-sounding shred machine with tightly focused bass and a savage, instantaneous attack.

Channel 2’s clean tones proved satisfying with every guitar I used. Bassman-esque clean tones are the order of the day–especially when you crank the master or disengage it completely. Although these tones don’t quite have the upper-midrange complexity of a ’50s Bassman, the Custom Valve fides the clean/dirty fence better than most amps in its price range. The bright control has enough power to give humbuckers some single-coil shimmer, and the Expander button–which boosts lows and highs–produces a glassiness that’s especially useful for darker, humbucker-loaded guitars.

Powers of 410

The Koch Classictone pulls off the nearly impossible feat of sounding vintage and modern at the same time. If you get giddy imagining what a Marshall JCM 800 from 1954 might have sounded like, you’ll love what the Classictone has to offer.

The Traynor Custom Valve 80 will delight vintage tone hounds and modern rockers who seek a flexible, powerful, and stageworthy amp. With its hip tones and unbeatable price, the Custom Valve 80 is a dream for working guitarists on a budget.


Koch Classictone

  • Pros Loud and extremely flexible. Killer tones. Speaker-simulated recording out. Switchable master volume.
  • Cons Expensive for a production line 4×10 combo.

Trynor Custom Valve 80 YCV80Q

  • Pros Stout tones. Flexible EQ. Enough headroom for nearly any situation. Affordable.
  • Cons Some cosmetic sloppiness.

Using Waist Cinchers – Three Stages to Do It Right

Waist training is the technique of slowly narrowing the size of the waist by utilizing a corset. The process was used widely in the Victorian period, but went out of fashion some time later. In the last few years, the use has made resurgence – mainly due to celebrities like Kim Kardashian using waist cincher openly. The use of a cincher, along with a proper diet and good exercises, can slim down your waist well enough. It can give you a sexier body shape and you can permanently remove the extra pounds from your waist.

The First Stage

While you are training your waist, you have to remember that your waist would slowly get accustomed to the constriction of the corset. You need to allow some time to your corset and break it in so that your body and your dress do not suffer any damage. You need not train too much in the initial weeks of your waist training. During the first week, you need to wear it for anywhere from 1-3 hours only. Your corset wearing should not exceed over 3 days every week. You should reduce your span of corset wearing until you get comfortable enough inside it. You should increase the span of wearing slowly, once you get adjusted. You are advised to always remove your corsets while taking steam or sauna baths or while taking showers or swimming.

The Second Stage

Gradually go on increasing the span of wearing a exercise waist trainer by 1 to 2 hours until the time that you feel comfortable wearing it throughout the day. Wear the dress on the first clasp set and it is only when it has been used enough that you should begin to use the second clasp set in order to tighten the corset. As your waist size gets reduced in size, you will not feel your corset sitting as tight on you as before. You will get more and more comfortable with time. You can move on to the next size so that you can go on with your waist cinching regimen. In the course of a few months, you will feel comfortable wearing the dress for a maximum of 10 hours every day.

The Third Stage

With a good corset bought from this blog, you can get rid of the first 2 to 4 inches quite easily. However, it is the last 4 or 5 inches that take about 1 – 3 months to be eliminated from your waist area. However, reducing every half inch from then on can take about 6 months to a whole year. In the first few weeks, your body can be compressed by some measure very easily. After that, the corset begins to compress your bones and internal organs. As a result of this, you should move down your corset size with care and ideally with proper consultation with your physician at every step of the process. Keep in mind that the body shape of every individual is different and you need to proceed with your waist cinching regimen at a pace that suits you the best.