Why has nobody thought of this before? After all, it’s hardly rocket science. Put together a tough plasticised backing with a rough nylon pile and bind up the edging with heavy duty ribbed, rubberised tape . . . and there you have it. But then Protection Racket have been one of the most innovative UK music product companies over the past dozen years, padding and protecting anything from cymbals to snares and most recently – guitars. The drum mat comes in two different sizes, one for double bass set-ups at 107” x 52”, the other for the less power crazed at 78” x 48”. Laid out, our kit sat securely and there was no movement whatsoever. But beware tripping up over turned up corners. Both mats roll up and are kept in place by a heavy nylon band and clip-lock. They can then be packed into fitted bags with nylon webbed grab handles and a specially reserved spot for yours truly ‘this mat belongs to’. Big bags invariably carry balance problems and the larger of these two definitely needs the grab handles moving a few inches towards the bottom of the bag, so you’re not left dragging the bottom end along the floor!

For more go to www.protectionracket.com

The Centre Pitch comes in the useful accessories category. It’s been around for a while, but many musicians have probably forgotten just how useful it can be. You know the situation – you’ve probably been there. The background noise means that you can hardly hear yourself speak and there’s precious little time left to get your instrument in tune. The Centre Pitch Universal works on the vibrations of your instrument, so other sounds will not interfere with the procedure.

It can be clipped on to bells and pipes with the one handed clamp with its four rubberised feet, and can be adjusted to recalibrate the ‘A’ to 440/441or 442hz. It can also be set to display notes in concert pitch, or alternatively (just for us jazzers!) to transpose for Bb, Eb or F instruments and you can also choose to see accidentals as sharp or flat. The Centre Pitch is also easier to read than units with VU meters or simple LEDs as it displays the actual note being played.

 For more go to www.sf-music.co.uk

Jazzwise sampled two of the trumpet mutes from the stonelined collection of this American maker. First to the bell was the 111C Wah-Wah Copper Mute. A well-made, robust product, it was nonetheless a heavy weight in mute terms and on our trumpet, made it particularly bell heavy. However, this copper mute has plenty of body in the sound and is very clear and clean. With the plunger in, it produces a hard, tight sound. With the plunger out it is immediately more loose and mellow. The Mica Mute (104), is altogether a simpler, more matter of fact model. Again, the build quality is excellent.

The sound is very bright and clear and you can almost hear the stonelining’s distinctive edge. This mute is seriously loud! It might be the sort of mute you’d use if you were playing trumpet in a big band and needed to be able to hear yourself, as the mute is fitted with a deflector that bounces the sound back to the player. Mute sounds are as always down to personal sonic preferences and I would suggest giving the website a quick scan to view the full range. Quality wise though, these are top notch – and you’ re not going to require a second mortgage! 

 For more go to www.humes-berg.com

The concept behind the new Jam series by SR Technology is simple: to build a compact high definition audio system that combines minimal size and elegant design with exceptional performance. To this end, SR came up with three unique and highly portable amplification systems, all with a head mounted on-board mixer. The 150 Plus is perhaps the most useful for the gigging musician, with a total of six channels, multi-band EQ and a digital effects processor amongst its many features. The high quality amplifier produces a quality and character of sound that delivers exceptional clarity through the 8" woofer and its partner compression tweeter. With the sound of a much larger audio system, these compact, quality units are ideal when you’re crammed into a corner at one of those smaller venues.

D’Addario have recently released two new sets of strings that could be of particular interest to jazz players. For the bass guitarist there is the ECB84 set, a 40-100 set of chrome flat wounds, while for the guitarist it could well be worth checking out the EHR370’s, a set of 11-49 in stainless steel half round. There are also some new speciality singles: the CG075 and the CG080 are flat wound chromes specifically made for seven-string jazz tunings, while the CB032 is a flat wound bass chrome .032 specially designed for the 6-string high C note. Nothing ventured – nothing gained!

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