Friday, December 4, 2009

Cleaning out my analog closet

I feel like I should post since Karl was nice enough to link my blog and say kind things about it! The internet doesn't need another "sorry I haven't posted in a while" blogs so I'll just skip past that.

Life has brought about a lot of changes this year. I just became and uncle and I started dating the most amazing woman I've ever met. That wasn't enough change so I decided to get engaged, start planning a wedding, and look for a house for us to buy as well. Whoa.

In terms of guitar, the biggest change will be moving to a smaller house. Currently I live with 3 other guys who are all musicians and we have a 20' x 20' room full of recording gear, drumsets, bass rigs, guitars and amps, a fender rhodes and a hammond B3. I have lots and lots of stuff in that room. I won't have room for it and honestly I don't use a lot of it so I've been selling stuff off. I'll be taking my amp, three electrics, an acoustic, my pedalboard (plus a few extra pedals), and the rhodes with. Everything else is going.

In the downsize, one of the things that crossed my mind was selling my amp, cab, and pedalboard and replacing it with a digital modeling system. I couldn't bring myself to do it, though. Not because I'm against modelers but because I really like what I'm getting with my current gear. Why fix it if it ain't broken?

However, I did decide two things: 1) If I didn't have any gear and I was starting from scratch I would go digital and 2) when my amp dies I will most likely switch. My amp is 38 years old, it will die someday and I have it insured so even if it just dies of old age I'll still get the appraised value, score!

So, what should I get if my amp died today or hypothetically I didn't own any gear?

I have a few criteria:

1) It has to sound good. Not "people falling to their knees that single note sounded so sweet" good. Maybe 90% that good.

2) I has to keep presets and have a simple layout so with two or less buttons I can bring up a new song with a new tempo.

3) It has have great delay, light overdrive, tube screamer (solo), and high gain - or let me input my Tim, TS808, and OCD.

4) It has to model a Superbass/Bassman and AC30 well. Bonus if it models a bluesy fender.

5) It has to be significantly cheaper and/or easier to transport than my current set up. Otherwise, what's the point?

6) Has line out to the sound board and the option to go out to a solid state power amp with a speaker.

Components I would look at:

1) Axe-fx
2) Line6 M13
3) Line6 M9
4) Line6 EchoPro (rack delay)
5) Digidesign eleven-rack
6) POD (maybe..)

Any recommendations?!?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Roland Corp, kind a cool!

Next week I'm flying out to LA for business. It's nothing new, I often fly to my company's customer sites to install our software and train them on how to use it. The cool thing about this one is I'm going to Roland Corporation. Roland is in keyboards, recording gear, V-drums and Boss pedals. Of course stock boss pedals are nothing to write home about, but it will be cool to take a tour and see the behind the scenes stuff! I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This made me laugh

While checking out craigs list I came across this post:

Talented Guitarist Looking to Tour

My name is Josh and I am a skilled musician and guitarist. My plans for going to college fell through so I am currently looking to join a band that is touring or planning on touring and doing lots of work. I am a very committed person and am willing to go as far as the band is willing to go. I have lots of experience with playing in bands, playing shows, and I have been playing guitar for 8 years. I also sing and play a little piano. Please contact me if you are a serious band and you are in need of a guitarist. Thanks!


If only there were an "established band who had already put in all the grunt work and had worked their way up to being a touring band so we could jump on their band wagon" for every guitarist who thought they were good enough. I hear these bands go to Guitar Center to find new local talent. Maybe if you go there 8 hours a day and play through a dimed 150W amp someone will pick you up for their fall tour.

Feeling cynical,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gear wish list

If I had more money than I knew what to do with I would:

- Switch out the pickups in my ES-137.

- Trade my peppermint fuzz for a fuzz that doesn't suck.

- Get a strat (style) guitar - possibly build one from parts.

- Get a Class A EL84 amp.

- Get a 6V6 bluesy amp.

- Trade my Les Paul for a better one, or just upgrade all the electronics in my current (though the feel of the neck is part of what I don't like).

- Get a guitar with P90s like a Les Paul Jr or a Jazz Master.

That's it :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Using a Musicom Labs EFX to switch presets on a TimeFactor

Using a Musicom Labs EFX to switch presets on a TimeFactor is a beautiful thing, especially if you use a lot of delays. Being able to call up any combination of pedals, and call up a delay preset makes changing songs so fast. But, if you're like me, you got a Musicom and a Time Factor (TF) and stared blankly at the two manuals wondering how the heck they work together. I've received enough messages on the gear page to realize I wasn't alone in this. There's good news though! It's way, way easier than you think and the two pedals will work together right out of the box. The hardest thing is understanding what's going on and both manuals assume you understand MIDI already. I'll help explain what's going on with the MIDI and give you the basics on how to use the two together to call up presets on the TF for any preset on the Musicom. I won't get into the anything advanced, just the very basics to get you rolling. Here goes.

The first thing is understanding what's going on. For now, ignore anything in the manuals about control changes (CC) and program change channels (choosing a channel 1-16... both products use channel 1 by default and you don't need to change anything). All you need to know about is program changes (PCs). When you want the TF to change banks based on the Musicom, there needs to be some communication between the two, that communication is a PC. A PC is actually just a number, 1-128. When you change banks on the Musicom you can tell it to send a PC to the TF. The TF receives that PC number and knows to change presets.

The TF needs to know what preset to switch to based on the PC number it receives. If you read the TF manual you'll find there's a table in the TF where is PC number is mapped to a preset in the TF. By default the TF's table is set up like this:

PC number - TF bank
1 - 1:1
2 - 1:2
3 - 2:1
4 - 2:2
5 - 3:1
6 - 3:2
... etc ...
39 - 20:1
40 - 20:2

Since there's only 40 presets in the TF, PC number 41 through 128 won't do anything. You won't need to change that table and actually, you won't need to do anything to the TF at all, it's all set up the way you need it out of the box.

In fact, the only thing you need to do is plug a MIDI cable from the Musicom to the TF and tell the Musicom which PC number to send on any of it's presets. It's worth mentioning that the Musicom can send a PC number of 1-128, or you can set the musicom to send "NoN" (or "---" on the older musicom) which means it won't send a PC number and the TF will stay on whatever bank it was already on.

There are two versions of the Musicom EFX out there, so I'll give instructions for each. Hope this helps! If you have more questions write it in the comments. Good luck!!

EFX MKII (the wider shorter new one):

1) Select the preset you want to be in. Make sure you're in preset mode (not edit mode)
2) Hold down the MODE button until the screen displays PC1
3) Press the PS3 button to chose a PC number - the screen will display NoN or whatever number you had previously chosen for this preset.
4) Use the bank up/down buttons to chose NoN or a number 1-40 (whichever TF preset you want)
5) Press the PS3 button again to save the number
6) Press the mode button again to be done.

Original EFX (the more square older one):

1) Select the preset you want to be in. Make sure you're in preset mode (not edit mode)
2) Hold down the MODE button until the screen displays PC1
3) Press the PS4 button to chose a PC number - the screen will display "---" or whatever number you had previously chosen for this preset.
4) Use the bank up/down buttons to chose "---" or a number 1-40 (whichever TF preset you want)
5) Press the PS4 button again to save the number
6) Press the mode button again to be done.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Filmosound modded amp

I was being so good! I hadn't bought a piece of guitar gear in 9 months. Considering I built me rig from nothing in the previous 3 years... that says a lot! The key to not buying gear is to stay away from the gear page and craig's list. I know the rules, but the other day I slipped. I went on to CL innocently enough, I wanted to see if anyone was selling Ikea shelves so I could get them cheaper. as soon as I had typed my fingers just naturally finished with "/msg". Oh well, now that I'm here I might as well see what the gear world is doing. "awesome vintage squire -$200", pass. "Free huge grand piano if you pay $400 to have it moved", pass. "Hand Built Point to Point Super Charged Tweed Deluxe Style Tube Amp", Oh? What's that? Click.
Here's what it said:
Hand Made, Hand Wired, Point to Point all tube guitar amplifier. This amp is much like Fender's late '50's Tweed Deluxe. Two 6V6 in a push pull configuration, 12AX7 driver/phase inverter and 12AT7 in the preamp position. Although this amp is much like a tweed deluxe, significant tweaks have been made to make the amp more usable and more fun. The amp is in the head configuration, so you can use any speaker combo you like. The amp has 8 and 16 ohm speaker taps. One volume and one tone control and a fat/lean switch to accommodate a variety of pickups. Additional circuit alterations have been employed to make the amp "hotter" and more dynamic than a stock 5E3. Very touch sensitive and versatile for a simple amp. Quite loud for 15 watts. Pure tone. Built into an old film projector chassis. No circuitry from the original Filmosound (because stock filmosounds sound awful). All new quality components, 50 year old iron, old stock tubes.
I'm interested... what's the price? Cheaper than either of my delays? Hmmmmm. About 3 hours later I was knowledgeable about Tweed Delux and Filmosound amps, had planned out a matching cab and speaker to pair with this head, and had come up with plenty of reasons why I needed this amp. The only thing left was to find out if it sounded good. Luckily for me, there was a youtube video of one of his earlier amps:


I think I've mentioned before that ever since I got my Tele (G&L) I've wanted a Fender style amp. I just hadn't found the right tone/price combo. I was pretty excited to try this amp out. I went over last night and it sounded good! I brought it home but one of my roommates was sleeping so I'll have to wait to hear it with my pedals and cab. Right now I'm going to use my 2x12 with scumback's but I'd like to get a 1x12 with a Weber 12A100 (clone of a Jensen P12R).

Are you wondering what's the deal with filmosound? I was too. Filmosound made projectors in the 50's with a built in tube amp and external speaker. Apparently you can plug a guitar right into it and it sounds ok. Anthony, the guy who built this amp essentially gutted the filmosound amp and rewired it and upgraded components so it's more like a Tweed Delux. It still has the original tubes and transformer. He's not the first to do this, but he's possibly the only one doing it now and from what I can tell there are probably less than 50 in existence made my anyone. Here's a good read if you're more interested in this style amp:

Here's the blog of the amp builder who sold it to me:

Here's what it looks like!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The secret to good tone

Bad tone = bad hands + transparent gear

Bad tone = good hands + non-transparent gear

Good tone = good hands + transparent gear