Concept 1 Delta Guitar Amplifer circa 1974

I stumbled across a 40yo advert for a guitar amplifier that I had never heard of: the 300-watt Concept 1 Delta, of which only /as few as 10 or as many as 100/ were ever sold.  In attempting to research it, I came across one of the most obnoxious GearS____ (sorry I can’t bring myself to type that word) posts that I have ever read.  Check it out if you want to become irritated.  This pretty much sums up my feelings about the worst elements of online culture.  Good god.  The gentlemanly figure involved here (and designer of the intriguing Delta) is Harvey Gerst, who owns this joint (and what a saint he must be, with those crazy low-fixed-price production packages for local bands) and wrote a few of the early Byrds’ songs.

Is anyone aware of a blog that tracks the most obnoxious, moronic, or otherwise awful GearS____ threads?

DOD Effects Pedals Circa 1980

DOD.  The effects pedal brand that spanned the (original) MXR and BOSS eras, never having quite the cachet of either, but keepin’ on keepin’ on well into the 21st.   They are solid products – I have owned many and nary a complaint.  However… I would love to know what ever happened to their graphic design.  Check out these circa ’80 adverts.  Fantastic, clean-looking things, soon to devolve into a swirling mass of ill-advised colors and garrish type-treatments.   Perhaps focus-group tested to appeal to a younger consumer?  Anyone out there ever do art direction for pro audio gear?  Drop us a line and weigh in…

The Introduction Of The 4-Track

1979.  Teac/TASCAM introduces the 144 Porta-Studio, the first four-track integrated tape machine/mixer.  The first 4-track.  A truly revolutionary product for many reasons, and the first of a product category that would have a profound effect on musical and audio aesthetics of the next 30 years.  The two-page spread above is the advert that introduced this product to the public.

For all its importance, the 4-track was actually the lesser of two novel cassette-based products introduced by Japanese companies in 1979 which would have a profound global cultural impact.  The other one?  Click here if you haven’t guessed yet.

For an earlier discussion of the 144 and its legacy, click on this link


When Hi Fi was a hobby, not an industry

Download a four-page article from High Fidelity, 1966, on the subject of ‘early hi-fi’:

DOWNLOAD: High_Fidelity-6604-How_It_All_Began

Thanks to TF for sending us this piece.  The article provides an interesting perspective on the changes in state-of-the-art sound reproduction between the years 1950 and 1966.  The main themes worth noting: early hi-fi required more craft-work on the part of the consumer (fabricating cabinets, etc), had worse ergonomics, and of course: it was mono.

Ibanez Guitars of the early 1980s part 1

When I was learning to play the guitar in suburban CT in the late 80s, the name Ibanez was pretty much synonymous with ‘guitar.’  Every shop sold Ibanez guitars, and most kids owned them.  My brother and I had imported Fenders, which were considered old-fashioned at the time (this was pre-Cobain).  I still have (and use) my $380 1990 ’52 Telecaster reissue.  I can’t imagine that I would have kept a 1990 Ibanez RG for all this time.

Big Cats (Tigers)/Tiger-stripped maple tops, git it?   Before Ibanez introduced the RG and S lines, they had a large run of transitional models that bridged the gap between the ‘Lawsuit’ -era Gibson copies that first allowed them to gain traction in the US market and the ‘super-strat-shredder’ things that sold so vigorously in the late 80s.   The AR series was their Les Paul-type instrument, and I believe that some variety of AR has remained in production since 1979 or so.  Just a few years ago I picked up a 1980 Ibanez AR50 (very similar to the object depicted above, minus the flame maple top, inlay, and binding) for …$80?  at the flea market.  Fantastic guitar.  Within a few weeks I bought a circa 1975 Ibanez Rickenbacker-copy bass…  for $65.  Yesterday, at the same flea market, I found another circa ’75 Ibanez Rick bass, poured out of the back of a box truck along with old shirts, patio furniture, and chipped crockery.  “Five Hundred Dollars,” said the truck-owner.  “It’s a lawsuit model.”  The cat is clearly out of the bag.

The Ibanez AS series, their 335-type instrument.

Ibanez guitar effects circa 1981.  Still highly-coveted units.  We have an AD80 analog delay at Gold Coast Recorders and it gets used on a great number of productions.  It’s unusual in that it uses two 9V batteries rather than one.  I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison with our similar-era Boss DM-2 delay pedal but maybe soon…

More early Ibanez coverage to come soon to PS dot com…  If yr into this sort of thing, I highly recommend this book: “Ibanez The Untold Story”... which seems to be out of print…  but well worth seeking out.

Check out some previous early Ibanez Guitar coverage on PS dot com:

Ibanez Guitars 1975

Ibanez Guitars 1977


1981: Battle of the ’55s

1981: Korg and Roland both release prosumer drum machines designated 55.  The KORG KR-55 is a non-programmable drum machine with many preset patterns and individual volume controls for each sound.  Regardless of what this advert claims, trust me, this thing does not remotely sound like an acoustic drum kit.  The sounds are pretty charming tho.  I had one of these for years and now i have somehow ended up with only an empty KR55 box.  The Boss (ROLAND) DR-55 is quite different: despite the very crude prototype-esque appearance, the DR-55 is a programmable drum machine.  We have one of these at Gold Coast Recorders and while it seems to be overlooked in favor of our TR606, it is a worthy unit.  For some odd reason the DR55 seems to command a higher price than the 606 on eBay.  Anyone have an idea why?  Has the DR55 been embraced by a leading contemporary artist?

Sex Sex Sex Sex (guitar accessories)

No explanation necessary

I manage to do a fair amount of business selling bespoke microphone preamps, filters, amplifiers, etc; but I could stand to sell more.  Perhaps the problem is my marketing technique.  Perhaps I could stand to ‘spice things up’ a bit.  Perhaps the vacuum tubes in my designs could be given a more phallic character through quasi-clever wordplay and/or illustration technique.  Or perhaps the complete pieces could themselves entirely become metaphorically represented by a female body/persona, and the potential buyer could be encouraged to ‘inject them full of life’ with your ‘signal.’

Does sex really sell or do we simply gravitate towards the easiest possible metaphor for any product message?  And if sex DOES sell, then why not ingestion?   Eating?  As important as procreation is to the survival of the species, a starving man will surely choose a cheeseburger over a romantic dalliance.  Perhaps the dominance of sex-based, rather than food-based, advertising in our culture, signifies nothing so much as the fact that we’re not hungry enough.  If we were hungrier, would be be less easily aroused?  And how about the other two ‘F’s of human instinct (fuck, feed, fight, flight)?   Why not more combat-based or fear-based advertising?  All the ads in the series come from a single 1981 issue of GUITAR PLAYER magazine.

Which ‘bone’ exactly is the ‘mojo bone’?  And how could this ‘bone’ interact with a ‘back door’?

If you have been feeling/touching one body for sometime now, consider the improved sensation that could be possible from… oh never mind.

The heels have come off and the couple has exited the scene.  Crucial to the progression of the movement from LR to BR: the fire; the wine; the dulcet tones of your Ibanez Artwood.  All helpful tools in mastering the art of (reproducing human) life.

Those who have mastered their technique need not execute their practices in a darkened room.  Consider our mood lighting.  Mirrored (balls/ceiling panels) sold separately.

Cinema Sound Circa 1953

Today: some random bits+bobs of Sound-For-Film technology of the early 1950s.  Above: the All-New JBL Theatre Sound Systems, which claim to offer the higher-fidelity needed to properly reproduce the newly-available magnetic soundtracks that were being used in 35mm film at the time.  Prior to the introduction of magnetic 35mm film soundtracks in the 1950s, all film-sound was reproduced in theaters via an optical sound-track which ran alongside the edge of the film-frames.  Fidelity was limited, although I cannot say exactly to what frequency range.  Can anyone tell us what the first feature-film was to be exhibited nationwide with a magnetic soundtrack?

Above: Cinema Engineering presents… the fader!  Straight-line attenuators have certain advantages over rotary controls, such as quicker visual feedback and a range of motion that better correlates with human bio-mechanical consideration.  Nonetheless, rotary faders remained in use in pro audio well into the late 60s.  Does anyone know who first patented and/or marketed the linear fader?

Above: the Cinema Engineering 6517-E ‘Sound Effects Filter,’ aka a high-pass and a low-pass filter both built into a single instrument.   I could find this sort of thing very useful; especially for tracking multiple ‘stacked’ parts such as one singer delivering 7 vocal harmonies over a single phrase, as I found myself doing in a session earlier this week.  Just carve out all of the unnecessary super-high and super-low end… the 80 or 100 hz high-pass filter built into many mic preamps is certainly useful but it’s obvs not always the best cut off choice.

Above: an advert for Glen Glenn Motion Picture Sound Co. circa 1953.  Anyone out there work for this firm?  We’d love to hear yr stories….  drop us a line…

Above: RCA’s ‘film phonograph,’ an apparatus that records and plays-back 35 mm magnetic sound-tracks and plays-back 35mm optical sound tracks as well.  I ended up with a couple of 16mm sound track readers at Gold Coast Recorders; not sure what to do with them.  Has anyone had any luck converting an optical-track reader into a signal processing or signal generating device?  Seems like there’s some potential to make it into  interesting experimental instrument; strobe-light-controlled oscillator perhaps?



1953: What is High Fidelity?

Lee de Forest (L), the man who invented the voltage-amplifer tube, takes in the state-of-the-art in consumer audio reproduction c. 1953.

Download a two-page article on the subject of “What is High Fidelity” as-published right at the dawn of the hi-fi cultural phenomenon.

DOWNLOAD: IST-1953-09-Callen-What_Is_High_Fidelity

Audio.  From children’s toy to naval communication device to home entertainment to art, all within one lifetime.  What has changed significantly in our conception of the role of audio technology since 1953?  As this article makes clear, in 1953 ‘fidelity,’ or verisimilitude to some supposed acoustic event, was the ‘state of the art’ in audio, and contemporary technology such as the U47 mic and the Ampex tape machine was finally making this verisimilitude possible.  We now no longer have the expectation that a piece of audio ‘represents’ or ‘stand-in-for’ any actual acoustic event that ever happened in the physical world (Katy Perry track? Or Sgt Peppers?), but what have we gained?  What new expectations/demands do we have?

information and ideas about audio history