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Celebrate Reggae with this authentic gear!

Explore Music History: Sounds of Reggae

Fusing the percussive Caribbean rhythms of calypso and soca with the off-beat tempos and soulful vocals of American R&B bands, reggae's blend of multiple styles creates a singular sonic signature that is the sound of Jamaica. Between laid-back-yet-powerful rhythms and soaring, gospel-influenced vocals, you'll hear any number of electric and acoustic instruments weaving together to create reggae's many moods. These instruments will let you tap into the many different styles of reggae and give you an authentic playing experience.

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The Sound of Ska and Rocksteady
The first reggae sounds, as heard in the Skatalites or Desmond Dekker's earliest work, break down into two styles: ska and rocksteady. Ska made the electric bass, horn section, and tone-heavy drums its centerpoint. This focus on the upbeat is what makes this classic, fast-paced style still popular today. Rocksteady placed a higher emphasis on slowing down the rhythm section, letting it play around the beat while the guitar and organ or electric piano vamped on repetitive, steady rhythm. This drawn-out lingering, influenced in part by soul and jazz music, that would lead Jamaican music into its most known style: reggae.

Gibson Les Paul Special Electric Guitar (with Case)

$1,799.00

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    $149.92
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    $224.88

Fender Hot Rod Blues Junior IV Guitar Combo Amplifier (15 Watts, 1x12")

$749.99

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    $125.00
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    $187.50

Ludwig LC195 Accent Drive Complete Drum Set, 5-Piece

$599.00

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    $99.83
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From Acoustic Guitars and Hand Drums to Electric Guitars, Reverb, and Echo
The reggae sound heard in the music of Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs and Buju Banton has roots in the folk music of the Rastafarians who lived in Jamaica's Blue Mountains. This community composed music primarily on acoustic guitar with hand percussion. The fusing of this traditional music with modern Western music was largely the result of increased access to technology -- vinyl records, drum kits, electric guitars, speakers and amplifiers -- as a result of the end of Britain's colonial rule of Jamaica.

This shift from colonial rule to independence would greatly influence the attitude and style of reggae music. Reggae soon became an expression of the Jamaican people's identity. Their new-found attitude of individuality went back into the music, with more importance being placed on instrumentation that could capture this type of "heady" environment. Organs laid down beds, akin to the synth pads heard in ambient music. Electric guitars and basses were plugged into reverb and echo units, stretching out sound to suggest a sense of space.

That spacious-sounding Caribbean captured the imaginations of countless listeners in the 1970s. Reggae's relaxed-yet-insistent style rocketed to the top of the charts, and would go on to greatly influence the sounds of punk and new wave -- musical styles taking place far away from Jamaica.

Gibson SG Standard Electric Guitar (with Soft Case)

$1,799.00

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    $149.92
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    $224.88

Ibanez Artwood AC340 Grand Concert Acoustic Guitar

$329.99

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    $55.00
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    $82.50

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Neo Reverb Pedal

$143.30

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    $23.88
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    $35.83
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Ferrofish B4000 Plus Drawbar Organ Module

$399.00

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    $66.50
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    $99.75
Sound Systems, Effects, Synthesizers, and Drum Machines
In an increasingly urban Jamaica, listeners who couldn't afford vinyl records were stuck relying on "sound systems" and blackmarket record dubs, featuring tracks with MCs performing a primitive style of rapping known as "toasting" over the original instrumental.

Sound systems were huge, roving PA systems helmed by reggae DJs, who would load up trucks with gear to spin at impromptu parties around the island. Competition for audiences led sound systems to find unique ways to stand out, ultimately increasing in size and power. Now, DJs would go directly to fledgling record labels and ask for dubbed versions of existing reggae hits to toast over, so they could keep the party going longer. Producers like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Sly and Robbie, and King Tubby used mixer faders, panning knobs, delays, synths, and echo units like never before, ushering in dub music. Where reggae was about implying space, dub was all about creating it.

These longer tracks with were the birth of the remix or mashup. As the sound systems moved into dance halls and the introduction of drum machines and digital synths started to replace rhythm sections, dub lost its foothold. Dancehall music now more closely followed the ebb and flow of American R&B -- and the grittier lifestyle of Jamaica. Playing dancehall -- and its sibling, the romantic lovers rock style -- artists like King Jammy, Horace Andy and Sugar Minott would mix electronic accompaniment with either hard-nosed rappers or suave singers.

Peavey LN1263 Column Array Portable PA System

$1,499.99

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    $83.33
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    $125.00
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    $187.50
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Boss RE-202 Space Echo Delay Pedal

$319.99

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    $53.33
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    $80.00

Korg Monologue Analog Keyboard Synthesizer, 25-Key

$369.99

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    $61.66
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    $92.50

Pioneer DJ PLX-500 Direct-Drive Turntable with USB

$369.00

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    $61.50
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    $92.25
Reggae in Modern Music
Reggae has proven to be a lasting musical style, greatly influencing popular and underground artists alike. The use of dub echo and cut-and-paste techniques heard in post-punk rock from artists such as Joy Division, PiL, the Fall, and Pere Ubu could have only come from reggae. Shoegaze bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine use delay as something more than an effect, much like Jamaican rockers. The classic reggae and ska sound was revived successfully with bands such as the Police, Madness, the Bosstones, and more recently Radiohead and Rancid. Dubstep and jungle music, full of big bass wobble, can find direct lineage in Black Ark recordings burgeoning with bass drops. Latin music has embraced the sound of dancehall production in such genres as reggaeton or cumbias rebajadas. In these styles, the spirit and sound of reggae is as strong as ever, and continues to influence music across the world.

Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler Pedal

$169.99

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    $42.50
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Akai Force Grid-Based Music Production System

$1,299.00

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    $108.25
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    $162.38

Shure SRH440A Professional Studio Headphones

$99.00

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    $24.75
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Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

$249.99

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    $62.50