Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A SHOUT OUT to JEREMY PARKER and his STEREO DIPOLE AMP

In my last blog post on November 29th I neglected to send my thanks to an old friend of mine who was at the show, a man named Jeremy Parker. I've known Jeremy since we were in college together back at U Mass Lowell (I won't say just how long ago it was exactly; we'll just say that the year started with a '19' and leave it at that.) Some of you probably know Jeremy as an organist, playing with the Boston Horns among countless others, including his own solo project (for which I have been told a new recording is in the works.) What you might not know is that Jeremy is also a rather brilliant audio and electrical engineer, who in his spare time builds some pretty spectacular contraptions.

The more astute listeners at the last show I did at Toad may have noticed I had a slightly different sound to my keyboards. That is because Jeremy had contacted me earlier in the week and asked me if I would be interested in trying out a new amplifier he had built. He told me he had built an amp which would help to simulate the stereo effect you used to be able to get out of the old suitacase Rhodes pianos, such as it was used by some of my favorite artists like Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and many others.

Picture of a Suitcase Fender Rhodes electric piano
When I asked Jeremy to describe his creation for me, he told me he calls it a Stereo Dipole Amp and that it's purpose is to take two stereo channels and project a 360 degree sound field. When we plugged my Yamaha P95 into the amp, by way of my effects rig (a phase shifter, stereo chorus, plus a stereo vibrato pedal that Jeremy provided) the similarity to the feel and sound of the stereo Suitcase Rhodes was really remarkable.

Here is a close up photo of Jeremy Parker's Stereo Dipole Amplifier.

It didn't have quite as much volume capacity (loudness) as the amp I typically use, which is a very basic but effective Peavy KB100, nor did it have the low end frequency that I am accustomed to using for my bass synth sounds. However I was very impressed by its overall tone as well as it's design. I think that this amp has the potential to be a very effective substitution for the very large and heavy Suitcase Rhodes, especially if it were to run through a larger sound system either by miking it or a direct line out. 

In any case I was very grateful to be one of the first people that Jeremy chose to try out this new amplifier, and I really had a lot of fun playing it. He said he was going to try and get a few more people to try it out, including some Hammond organ players as it could prove also to be a suitable stand in for a Leslie speaker as well. I will certainly be very curious to hear some other players use it as well as their feedback, and I really wish my friend Jeremy a lot of success with this really cool piece of gear!

Playing at Toad on November 14, 2014 and using the Stereo Dipole Amp.

In other news: if anyone in the Lowell area was planning to come see us play at The Back Page this coming Friday night, I am sorry to have to say that due to circumstances beyond my control I had to cancel that show. It's quite disappointing as it has really been quite a long time since we've been able to get back into this very cool space, and I can only hope that we will be able to reschedule as soon as possible!

In the meantime, if you want to check us out again you can come see us play at Toad in Porter Square, Cambridge on FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th. Hope to see you all there!

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