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The keyboards all came in to our Los Angeles office. After unboxing them and setting them up, I invited Liz, Jack, and Brent to come in and try them out. I asked them to rate the key action and the sound of the piano and to evaluate features from the perspective of a beginner. After playing through all of them over a couple hours, we talked through the pros and cons of each keyboard, and they gave me their top three choices.
Once the basic parameters were established, I reached out to colleagues who are piano teachers or musical directors to get a sense of what models were in highest rotation in the professional world. I also played several models at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in January. From there I searched through Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Sweetwater for available models, then cross-checked that information with manufacturer websites and added anything that was missing. After considering all that information, I decided to limit the price to $500. That was high enough to include several quality-built keyboards that met all (or most) of the criteria without being too pricey. This gave me a list of 21 models from nine different companies.
Sticks were traditionally made from wood (particularly maple, hickory, and oak} but more recently metal, carbon fibre and other exotic materials have been used for high market end sticks. The prototypical wooden drum stick was primarily designed for use with the snare drum, and optimised for playing snare rudiments. Sticks come in a variety of weights and tip designs; 7N is a common jazz stick with a nylon tip, while a 5B is a common wood tipped stick, heavier than a 7N but with a similar profile, and a common standard for beginners. Numbers range from 1 (heaviest) to 10 (lightest).
There are a range of different string types including all-metal strings, which are available in many varieties of winding or finishing, each of which produce different tone, including roundwound, flatwound, halfwound, ground wound, and pressure wound); as well as metal strings with different coverings, such as tapewound and wound with plastic coatings. The variety of materials used in the strings gives bass players a range of tonal options. In the 1950s and early 1960s, bassists mostly used flatwound strings with a smooth surface, which had a smooth, damped sound reminiscent of a double bass. In the late 1960s and 1970s, players began using roundwound bass strings, which produce a brighter tone similar to steel guitar strings, though flatwounds also remained in use by players seeking a vintage tone. Roundwounds have a brighter timbre (tone) with longer sustain than flatwounds.
A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set (a term using a contraction of the word, “contraption”), or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums (categorized classically as membranophones, Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 2) and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell (classified as Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 1). In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments (Hornbostel-Sachs classification 53). Also, both hybrid (mixing acoustic instruments and electronic drums) and entirely electronic kits are used.
The long scale necks on Leo Fender's basses—with a scale length (distance between nut and bridge) of 34 inches (864 mm) — set the standard for electric basses, although 30-inch (762 mm) "short scale" instruments, such as the Höfner 500/1 "violin bass" played by Paul McCartney, and the Fender Mustang Bass are also common. Short scale instruments use the same E-A-D-G tuning as a regular long scale instrument. Short scale instruments are good choices for bassists with smaller hands, such as children or young teens who are just starting the instrument. While 35-inch (889 mm), 35 1⁄2-inch (902 mm), and 36-inch (914 mm) scale lengths were once only available in "boutique" instruments, in the 2000s (decade), many manufacturers began offering these "extra long" scale lengths. This extra long scale provides a higher string tension, which may yield a more defined, deep tone on the low "B" string of five- and six-stringed instruments (or detuned four-string basses).
In the mid-1970s, Alembic and other boutique bass manufacturers, such as Tobias, produced four-string and five-string basses with a low "B" string. In 1975, bassist Anthony Jackson commissioned luthier Carl Thompson to build a six-string bass tuned (low to high) B0, E1, A1, D2, G2, C3. In comparison with a standard four-string bass, Jackson's six-string adds a low B string and a high C string. These 5 and 6-string "extended-range basses" would become popular with session bassists as they reduced the need for re-tuning to alternate detuned configurations like "drop D", and also allowed the bassist to play more notes from the same position on the fretboard with fewer shifts up and down the fingerboard, a crucial benefit for a session player sightreading basslines at a recording session.
A trigger pad could contain up to four independent sensors, each of them capable of sending information describing the timing and dynamic intensity of a stroke to the drum module/brain. A circular drum pad may have only one sensor for triggering, but a 2016-era cymbal-shaped rubber pad/cymbal will often contain two; one for the body and one for the bell at the centre of the cymbal, and perhaps a cymbal choke trigger, to allow drummers to produce this effect.
A unique effect can be created by striking an open hi-hat (i.e., in which the two cymbals are apart) and then closing the cymbals with the foot pedal; this effect is widely used in disco and funk. The hi-hat has a similar function to the ride cymbal. The two are rarely played consistently for long periods at the same time, but one or the other is used to keep the faster-moving rhythms (e.g., sixteenth notes) much of the time in a song. The hi-hats are played by the right stick of a right-handed drummer. Changing between ride and hi-hat, or between either and a "leaner" sound with neither, is often used to mark a change from one passage to another, for example; to distinguish between a verse and chorus.
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