Accessory File

January 1, 2005

Elixir Anti-Rust Plain Steel Strings

Rust never sleeps, and your strings begin to corrode as soon as you put them on your guitar. Finger oils, dirt, and airborne contaminants accelerate this corrosion, and it’s just a matter of time before your strings become tarnished, dull, and lifeless. To defend against these corrosive elements, Elixir’s proprietary Anti-Rust plating process adds a special corrosion-resistant metal alloy barrier to the plain strings. This silky-smooth plating imbues the steel with a faint golden-brown hue that was most noticeable when the strings are coiled. Here’s the good news: Elixir’s Anti-Rust plain strings sound just as crisp and bright as standard strings, and they stay fresh for an amazingly long time. The new Anti-Rust plain strings are now included in all Elixir electric sets ($19 retail/$11 street). —Terry Buddingh

Framptone 2-Way Amp Switcher

Seeking to improve on passive switching boxes, Peter Frampton has created an über switcher that puts an end to ground loops, signal loss, switch pops, and phasing problems. The Amp Switcher ($279 retail/street price N/A) is a rugged unit that incorporates an isolation transformer for elimination of ground-induced hum, an active buffer circuit on the input stage to prevent signal loss when feeding multiple amps, two soft-touch momentary switches for quiet switching, and a phasing switch to overcome the bass-robbing effect that can occur when playing through amps with non-identical speaker phase. A handy ground-lift switch is also included.

Powered by a 9-volt battery (or external supply), the Amp Switcher lets you toggle between two amps with the A/B button, or run them simultaneously with a touch of the Both switch. Small internal switches can be set to change the “last amp on” flashing LED to non-flashing mode, or configure the Both switch to mute both amps for silent tuning or guitar changes. Used to control a Dr. Z Route 66 and Marshall, the Amp Switcher worked quietly, and it didn’t color the sound to any detectable degree. And if you need to control three amps, consider Framptone’s 3-Banger ($369 retail/street N/A). Rock on, Peter! —Art Thompson

PowerEX Stealth Charger

If it troubles you to toss dead batteries in the trash, get a little “greener” by investing in the new MH-C490F Stealth ($59 retail/street price N/A; $29 retail without batteries)—a particularly handy home charging system that comes with three high-quality, 9.6-volt NiMh batteries, a wall-wart-style power supply, and a 12-volt adapter for use in your car. The Stealth’s microprocessor-controlled circuit can charge up to four batteries (including 7.2 volt and 8.4 volt cells) in about two hours, and its Flex Pulse feature conditions batteries during the charging cycle to enhance performance. The Stealth is even smart enough to convert automatically to “trickle charge” mode once the batteries are tanked up.

After charging two of the included batteries, I put them to use in a Danelectro Honeytone practice amp and an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer, both of which were left on continuously. The current-gobbling Honeytone rocked on for ten hours, and the battery in the TS-808 lasted about 36 hours before browning out. Small and lightweight, the Stealth is an ideal charger for musicians on the move. Keep one in your gig bag, and you may never have to make an emergency run to 7-Eleven again. —Art Thompsong

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