Gizmos & Gadgets - June 2008


From the latest high wonder products to the simplest little bits and bobs and a few that are truly weird and wonderful. 4BR has been out shopping and testing out what's on offer this June.

Alliance BagAlliance cornet gig bag
Price: £140.00 (inc VAT)

There are gig bags and there are gig bags – and then there is this absolute pearler from Alliance Products. 

Yes – its pink. 

And before strong armed macho bass players start recoiling in horror, pink is the new black. Just ask French rugby teams who now regularly play in pink shirts (with flowers design motifs no less) or trendy night clubbers in their G Star tops. 

Pink is no longer the preserve of Barbie or Graham Norton. Why someone hasn’t thought of it before is beyond us. 

Girls will of course love it – why look as if you are carrying a rubbishy old black PE kit bag on your back when you can don the Prada sunglasses and stroll down the street looking like a WAG on a shopping spree, even though in fact you are off to band practice. 

It’s also made to last too with enough room to hold a cornet or trumpet, plus a full set of mutes and music (plus a make-up bag we are sure). It’s padded like a pre diet Fern Britton, double stitched together with tough aged leather that can take all the bumps and scraps in the world and comes with a nifty shoulder strap to leave hands free for text messaging and holding a cup of free foam, vanilla latte.

It’s high quality stuff, and also comes in more traditional colours for the lads too - although one or two may well be tempted…

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing them slung across a pretty shoulder in a band room near you…

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StylophoneCarlsbro AC1276 Stylophone
Price: £13.50 (inc VAT)

It’s back! 

Remember 1973? The 3-Day week, British Leyland cars, T –Rex, Don Revie’s Leeds United beaten by Sunderland at Wembley, beige wallpaper, flared trousers and Wimpey beefburgers tasting of sawdust and reconstituted offal?
The musical sound of the decade wasn’t Black Dyke on ‘Epic Symphony’ or Marc Bolan on ‘20th Century Boy’ either -  it was Rolf Harris on the ‘Stylophone’!

Relive the joy of picking up the little box of delights and trying to play the opening bars of ‘Smoke on the Water’ or the ‘Un vie de Matelot’ with the stylus pen. Hark back to the hours of practice choosing your different timbres from classic to synth and bass with optional vibrato effects thrown in for good measure, helping you become the undisputed coolest kid on your street.  

It’s back and better than before too, with funky new sounds and headphone socket, and with the added bonus of it being MP3 compatible too. It even looks as if it has just come out of an episode of ‘Life on Mars’ too.

Nothing can now stop you from playing along to the White Stripes, Manson or even Kylie Minogue all on a retro styled bit of kit which will make you mam and dad go dewy eyed with nostalgia for.  

It’s not to be lent to men in the 40’s who think Rolf Harris was ‘misunderstood’ as a progressive musical artist though, or to strange geeky kids who think they will be able to reproduce the opening credit theme sounds to Doctor Who.

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Centre PitchCentre Pitch Universal Intonation Tool for Band and Orchestra
Price: £19.95 (inc VAT)

Ever wondered why you think you may be playing in tune when the rest of your band knows that you sound as mellifluous as a teenager dragging their nails down a school blackboard?

Tuning is relative of course, but when we say relative, we do mean within the same family tree and not some sort of tenuous long lost association that adoption agencies would have trouble connecting up. 

This is where this amazingly nifty little gadget comes in – the grandly titled, Centre Pitch Universal Intonation Tool for Band and Orchestra.

Working on the boffin theory of good vibrations (and no, that doesn’t mean the old Beach Boys pop song) it says it teaches immediate intonation control, by responding to your instrument vibrations when played. 

No wires or microphone, it works by displaying the note being played with arrows indicating a centred pitch. It also recalibrates and transposes and has enharmonic options too, and even adjusts for perfect viewing of the results when clipped onto the instrument.  Simply amazing. 

Beware however. ‘This be magic’ as they say in the dark recesses of the West of England. 

So if you walk into a bandroom full of strange looking yokels with pentangles drawn on the walls ready to put their band in tune with one of these little magic devices, then make a hasty retreat before you are burned like the Edward Woodward in the Wicker Man film.

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Jo Ral muteJo-Ral Flugelhorn Bubble mute
Price: £66.00 (inc VAT)

Flugel horn players continually moan about being left out when it comes to having all the right kind of accessories to help them perform better, but we are sure you won’t hear a squeak from them if you present them with one of these little beauties.

Jo Ral mutes have a top notch reputation for being some of the best made and most responsive bits of kit in the business, and are used internationally by leading brass players playing in all genres of music where the flugel horn is permitted.

This one is made out of hand spun aluminium with a copper bottom, giving it a much darker sound, that also allows it to have a free blowing quality which makes it appealing to all players. 

Looks the biz too - with a two tone colour scheme that should appeal to those who like to fiddle with copper bottoms...

Even the corks are neoprene-enhanced (no – we don’t know what that is either), meaning that it is very durable and will not dry-out or fall-off while still creating a perfect fit.

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MtronomeWittner Wooden Pyramid Metronome with Bell
Price: £69.00  (including VAT)

Just the thing for those people who find the race for technologic advancement at the expense of aesthetic beauty rather crude and tasteless.

The iconic Wittner pyramid metronome has stood on top of countless home pianos and music teacher’s desks since the dawn of private piano lessons and comprehensive education. 

Made with authentic German precision and craftsmanship it has a clockwork metronome mechanism with a pendulum action.

All encased in a wooden mahogany matt silk finish that not even the best Co-op undertaker could better for you beloved Gran’s final passage to Nirvana, it is sheer, understated quality. 

The bell action accommodates 2,3,4 and 5 beats - striking on the first beat of each bar, and it even comes with full instructions and matching cover too to set it off against the flock wallpaper and aspidistra in the bay window of the front room.  

Something’s never change – and are all the better for it, even if the design is of course an isosceles and not equilateral triangle pyramid, and that it can still be easily mistaken for a bit of freemasonry ephemera too.  Watch out for the ‘all seeing’ eye…

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