Ground Report | New Delhi: Ukraine guitar music; On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Attacks have taken place across the country, including in the capital, Kyiv.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended every aspect of life in that country, including its thriving music community. Although most of its artists are not well known outside of Ukraine, the country, especially since the 2014 revolution that made it a democracy, has fostered a growing and diverse pop scene that has brought a local flavor to hip-hop, dance -pop, techno, punk and hard.
Ukraine is also home to a world of independent labels and a thriving live music scene in kyiv and other parts of the country. “After 2014, I felt that my country had never had such a good time because everything was really blossoming in some way,” says singer, songwriter and guitarist Kostiantyn Pochtar, the artist behind Postman. “It all started back then, after the revolution.”
The night before the invasion, Ukrainian citizens gathered in the city square of Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, and sang the national anthem. Video footage has also appeared on Twitter of citizens of Poland and Russia singing to show solidarity through music.
Traditional guitar amps (and some distortion pedals) use vacuum tubes to increase the power of the signal passing through and to make the tone warm and crunchy. Until a few years ago, there were only three factories in the world that made tubes/valves – after all, they’re only really useful for audio applications these days. There was the Shuguang plant in China, New Sensor in Russia, and JJ in Slovakia.
Shuguang closed down several years ago – apparently, it was supposed to relocate but still isn’t up and running again. That already caused fears of severe supply constraints in the tube market.
Russia stuck with vacuum tubes for a relatively long time – they were even in its MiG fighters. As the Soviet Union fell over, a legendary American pedal company called Electro-Harmonix (EHX) moved in, partly because of union troubles back home.
You may know EHX as the company that gave guitarists like David Gilmour (user of the Big Muff fuzz pedals) and The Edge (Memory Man delay pedal) their core sounds. The Russian versions of the Big Muff defined much of the 1990s rock sound.
Anyway, in 1998 EHX founder Mike Matthews bought the New Sensor tube factory in Saratov. It put out EHX-branded tubes, as well as names like Mullard, Sovtek and Tung-Sol that will make some gear nerds salivate. A super big deal in the guitar equipment world.
Fast-forward to the end of last week when, in retaliation for Western sanctions, the Kremlin published a list of around 200 items that cannot be exported from Russia. Vacuum tubes are on the list. (Ukraine guitar music)