String manufacturer D’Addario has spent some time searching for an alternative to the standard nylon string for the classic and flamenco guitars that would increase projection and give a brighter tone, yet at the same time would respond to the touch in a similar way to the nylon model. They have found the answer in a dense monofilament material with a translucent purple hue and have recently launched the T2 Classical Guitar Treble Strings. Not only do these strings respond in a similar way to the traditional nylon product, they are undoubtedly brighter, with a defined edge and clarity of tone that will cut through cleanly in almost any format. Like all D’Addario strings, intonation characteristics are excellent and we were particularly impressed by the 3rd G string that offers an almost seamless transition between the bass and the treble strings. Available as singles in three tensions and multiple gauges, these strings may be designed for the classical player, but offer the nylon playing jazz player a new dimension and a dynamic range well beyond what has previously been possible.

Mutes are of course an integral part of colouring brass sound and although this market is well catered for, there’s always room for a new kid on the block – particularly if they’re bringing some innovative ideas to the table. Wallace Brass is one such company. We tested three of their aluminium range and were impressed with the build quality, design (particularly the rubber end base) and general finish as well as being amazed at just how light they were. First up to the bell was the ‘Aluminium Straight’. These sort of mutes can often produce a harsh sound, but the Wallace model managed to temper this with a softer, richer delivery, although still having plenty of presence and intensity to the sound. It was also very consistent across the full range. Second up was the ‘Aluminium ‘5’ Straight’. This mute offered a more mellow and smoother sound than the ‘Straight’. However, it was less ‘muted’ than the ‘Straight’ with more of the instrument coming through. Last up was the ‘Adjustable Cup’ combination. The ‘V’ shape has a clear, sharp tonal colour and there is a lot of resistance. The ‘Bowl’ shape on the other hand, although still having a high resistance, is very mellow when placed right into the bell. Even though these mutes are machined from lightweight aluminium, the ‘Adjustable Cup’ combination made our test horn feel very bell heavy. It’s a shame that Wallace don’t yet produce a single ‘Fixed Bowl Shaped Cup’ model as we feel that this would not only be considerably lighter than the ‘Combination’, but would also deliver a very satisfying mellow tone. For more go to www.wallacebrass.co.uk


There is a plethora of backpack based instrument cases around at the moment and the almost comically named Tom and Will is one of the forerunners in the field. The designers have clearly been taking apart the outdoor industry’s Daysacks and rejigging the layout with a few extra additions – some good, some not so. We took a look at the trumpet case from the Standard range and the alto saxophone case from the slightly higher spec’d Academy range. Both ranges are made up in strong abrasive resistant nylon denier and come with detachable padded backpack style harnesses. The Standard Trumpet case featues a protective heavy duty, ribbed nylon pad to the bell end of the case and has a half length customised nylon zip that is backed by a strong, fixed baffle to protect the instrument from water penetration through the zip. The baffle is backed by heavy velour covered padding which also runs around the rest of the interior of the case with an added removeable circular pad to the bell end and a separate padded velour covered pouch for mouthpieces. To the exterior is a large zippered pocket running the full length of the case and a lightweight velcroed grab handle. There is also another lightweight nylon grab handle to the top rear of the case. What is not quite so clear is the reasoning behind the detachable, lightweight, zippered and padded brief bag that rides piggyback on the inside face behind the harness. It might be deemed “safe” in that position, but I found having four heavy press studs from the strap and buckle attachment against your back rather uncomfortable. Used as a separate entity the brief bag is fine, but I wouldn’t want to carry it in its attached position. The Academy case is much the same as the Standard, except that it is covered with a higher grade of nylon denier with green piping, is double zipped – but oddly missing the baffles and has leatherette covered grab handles. The ballistic, ribbed, bass protection is there, however, there is no zippered side pocket. The zippered padded brief bag sits piggyback in the same position as on the Standard model, but is now clean faced with buckle attachments to the rear. Both cases come with reusable, leatherette address tags. For more go to www.tomandwill.com

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