This extraordinary rubbery, plastic strip wraps around the lower bout of the instrument and is held in place by simple velcro bindings. It’s clearly been well thought through by Headway’s R&D department, who have built the Band to withstand the rigours of the road with excellent ergonomics making it very easy to set up and use, with the pickup to the front and the jack socket to the back – so it’s not in the way when you’re playing. Simplicity is the key here. There are no onboard switches or knobs that inevitably get in the way, confuse and aggravate. Sound modelling is strictly for the amplifier and Headway’s own acoustic SH60 is a perfect match. Our sample band gave very few feedback problems, and performed admirably. OK, it’s not going to give you the clarity and clear results that you might expect from a good microphone, but we’d suggest it’s the next best thing. And then there’s the benefit of being able to move around and use the bow freely without any encumberance whatsoever. Thoroughly recommended.

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The notion of relaxing on a sun-kissed beach with some manuscript sheets and writing a rhapsody has always appealed to me . . . dream on! The only problem is the amount of work involved writing out the individual parts. Photoscore seeks to get around this labourious task, by reading hand written scores through a scanner and then transferring the information to your computer. Well, that’s the idea anyway. My ‘long hand’ has always had some legibility problems and clarity and clean lines have never been my strong point, which is where I hit a problem with Photoscore. You have to be precise. It won’t read oval notes that have slipped slightly off or over a bar line, marginalising a minim is not a good idea and recognition of triplets seems a particular problem. Not only that, but you have to space your notation very carefully and it’s certainly best to leave writing ‘f’’s and other dynamic directions around the staves to the editing process after the score has been scanned. Give Sibelius their due, the clarity issue is made crystal clear in the instructional leaflet. But it does leave you wondering what Photoscore might make of an original manuscript of Beethoven’s 5th! When it comes to copying standard scores with not too many added markings, Photoscore Ultimate does a good job. And there are obvious benefits on copyright issues, where you can lawfully copy original rather than copyrighted material.  

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This solid cymbal case is made from ABS plastic and comes in two sections – a top and a bottom. The top section is attached to the bottom section by means of a central screw spindle and heavy duty locking nut, together with four clip-catches. The central spindle feeds through the hole in the cymbals with felt spacers to separate the surfaces. There is a solid hard nylon grab handle to the top of the case which is secured by two riveted, hinged plates. The base of the case carries recessed heavy duty nylon castors and there is an extendable arm for easy transport. There is also a raised profile to the base of the case to allow the unit to sit flat for packing etc. The case takes cymbals up to 22”/56cm in diameter and is a must for any tour bus/air freight, although I would worry about the handles and clip-catches getting caught up with other luggage – with obvious consequences.

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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!

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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.

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