Back in Tape Op #69, I reviewed two products from CruzTOOLS - the GrooveTech T-Handle Drum Key and the Guitar Player Tech Kit — and I was impressed with the quality and engineering evident in these products. Recently, I picked up a GrooveTech Jack and Pot Wrench ($14.95 street; www.cruztools.com). This compact, T- shaped tool includes three 6-point socket heads (1/2'', 7/16'', and 12 mm), all of which have walls thin enough to fit the recessed hardware that's ubiquitous in the world of guitars and amps. Additionally, the sockets are deep enough to tighten the mounting nuts of volume and tone potentiometers without the pot's shaft getting in the way. My guitarist brother (and occasional Tape Op contributor) John did point out that the sockets aren't thin enough to fit into the jack plate of his vintage Rickenbacker (John has yet to find a socket that will fit into that particularly pesky recess), but the tool so far has worked everywhere else — perfect for angled-cavity Strat-style and deep- recess Tele-style jack plates. Paint a bit of nail polish on the threads, tighten with this tool — and no more loose parts. Like the other items from CruzTOOLS that I own, including tools for my motorcycles, this wrench is beautifully crafted, solidly built, and feels "just right" in my hand.
- Speaking of motorcycles and tools, I love Paul Dean's "Service" column and "Tool Time" sidebar in Cycle World. In a recent issue, a reader wrote in complaining about the high cost of many of the tools that Paul discusses, and that letter, along with Paul's response, motivated me to pen what you are now reading. As I've mentioned in the past, I'm a tool geek. I believe that high- quality tools that offer precise, well-balanced control not only give us the means to get the work done more efficiently, but just as importantly, they inspire us to do better work. More often than not, well-made tools cost more, but in the long run, if these tools encourage us to perform our tasks with greater resolve, they're worth considering — whether we're talking about garage tools or audio gear. For example, the SSL AWS 948 console, reviewed in this issue, is a high-zoot product that can foster priceless inspiration, as Allen Farmelo experienced at a studio equipped with the console. On the other hand, some tools are relatively affordable (or even downright cheap), but due to economies of scale, they are at a quality level that is difficult to exceed without much greater spending. Shure, Audio-Technica, Roland, TASCAM, and Mackie, for example — I use products from these manufacturers daily — are brands that could be the Sears Craftsman of audio. A good paragon here is the Shure KSM42, reviewed in this issue by Garrett Haines. And then there's the case of a low-cost product that offers so much mojo — or fixes a problem with such deftness — that you find yourself reaching for it during every session. Thom Monahan's review of the Broadcast Pro Audio Passive Link speaks to this category. So all this is a long-winded way of saying that Tape Op tries to survey the gamut of audio gear in terms of price and use. Moreover, we strive to make all of the reviews educational. If recording music is a new endeavor for you, perhaps you'll gain general knowledge of what makes some tools more desirable than others. Or perhaps you'll pick up a specific recording or mixing tip that you can apply while using the gear you already own, whether you're a novice or a seasoned veteran. -AH