You Are Not a Musician

And by ‘you’, I mean anyone who is not Imogen Heap:

And then of course, I now no longer want to play if I don’t have extra music gear in my lap:

And then she goes and does something spare and perfect like this:





So…I’m very sorry…but if you just watched those, your illusions of yourself as a musician are now shattered. As are mine. Well, actually they shatter each year I run across these videos again. I think I’ve improved to rockstar status (of course!) and then…nope. Not even a little. I know these may be old news for some of you, but it is so worth it to bring them back……if just one person is now not going to spend their life not knowing these exist, then it’s worth it.

Oh, and Letterman has no clue. Little bit painful there.

Splendid.
Karl.

Simplify

Been thinking a lot about this. Not necessarily in guitar gear, but in life. (That may be the first time ever that I’ve made a distinction between the two.) And as most of you may find the resulting music from my simplifying quite boring, I have included other things. Things about pedals. And Ringo.

  • About every two or three years, I rediscover the Beatles. And life is good.
  • “Johnny Cash doesn’t sing to the damned, he sings with the damned, and sometimes you feel he might prefer their company.” -Bono
  • I don’t know who said it, but I’ve been stuck on this quote for a while: “You have to find a way to enjoy it, because it’s going to be over faster than you ever thought possible.”
  • Pedals are awesome. It’s like love in a box. That you can control.
  • Got a copyright claim on a recent youtube video I uploaded of a song I literally wrote half an hour beforehand. I guess there’s companies doing this now. Life is a weird place.
  • I used this for a little two-song set last week:

  • And I got more comments on my pedalboard than I’ve ever gotten. Why? Because even though my regular pedalboard is much larger, it’s larger in order to make it more organized with space for all the cords and cables and adapters and such, as well as the power conditioner so you don’t have to have an awkward power strip. Plus, I built a facade for it that shields most of it from view. So the smaller board actually was more distracting than the giant one. What’s the lesson here? Huge pedalboards are essential for distraction-free worship. ;)
  • You might argue that were I to use a small pedalboard all the time, I might spend more time coming up with solutions to make it more organized. You might argue that of course a thrown together board is going to look worse than one you’ve spent months on. Or that I could build a facade for the little board. Or even that it would have looked so much cleaner had I not crushed two ginormous Timeline’s onto that tiny little board. You might argue those points. And I might not understand the questions.
  • And, and behold the awful price of the Riglet. The carcass of my main board:

  • Ya, I think it might have been easier just to huff the huge board then to have to have taken all this apart and then put it back together again. But I enjoyed every moment spent with my pedals. Sometimes I re-wire my board just for fun. To touch the pedals. Yes, it is very sad. Your heart aches a little just thinking about that, doesn’t it. Like watching a crazy person talk to their imaginary pet.
  • Whatever happened to DOD?
  • Hey, remember when Henry Kaiser played with Alexander Dumble? It literally brightens my day every single time.
  • And I have had more than one person tell me that my masculinity takes a hit every time they see the cupcake-painted Ooh Wah on my board. But you know what? I’m secure enough in my masculinity to eat a cupcake while playing my Ooh Wah. And like it.
  • And lastly, this is the journey simplifying has me on. I think most of you may have to go run to your boards and turn on a fuzz pedal to wake yourself up, as there is guitar throughout this, but it’s in the context of the song and is very understated, save for one passage towards the middle ending. This isn’t where I’m going fully, but it’s nice to explore the facet of simplicity every once in a while:
  • And for what it’s worth, in order to play this simplistic song, I only needed the guitar, amp, and one pedal for the guitar sound; but I needed the whole huge pedalboard for the ambient sounds. There’s a healthy balance between big rigs and small rigs, simplicity and complication. It’s letting the song dictate what you play and how much gear you need for a particular part, rather than some dogma that’s just easier to think works every single time.

Splendid.
Karl.

Gettin’ All Honesty and Freudian and Such Up in Here

Had I grown up in da hood, I most likely would have been shot already. Probably due to phrases such as ‘da hood.’ But it’s been a while since I’ve had a post promoting the ever-important concept of not taking yourself too seriously. Also known as the ‘I am not John Mayer’ concept. Unless, of course, you’re reading this, Mr. Mayer. Then, you are John Mayer. Wouldn’t want to confuse you, now. So, on with the honesty:

  • Sometimes I pretend John Mayer reads my blog.
  • I haven’t changed my strings in three weeks.
  • I have listed ‘prayer’ as one of the ‘song transition tools’ before. As in, ‘Man, how are we gonna get from capo 3 to capo 4 in between songs?’ ‘I know! Let’s pray!’
  • Sometimes I decide whether a song sounds good or bad before I’ve heard it.
  • I have turned my amp up after I’ve been sound-checked. Hey, to compensate for the people that are now in the auditorium! ;)
  • I’ve realized that unbeknownst to me, I have developed a defense mechanism of deflecting away compliments to such a degree as to frustrate the giver of the compliment; so that, when they do not compliment me, I can pass it off as that I really did sound good, but it’s just that they have become weary of giving unreceived compliments. Just recently realized that one. Frightening to find out sometimes how true the book of Jeremiah is when it says that the heart is deceitful and wicked.
  • I had to google ‘deceitfully wicked above all things’ to figure out that that verse was in Jeremiah.
  • I have commented on message board threads about pedals that I have never played.
  • I listen to my own songs. (Oooh, that one grosses me out.)
  • I think I have played Edge’s solo from ‘Acrobat’ in almost every minor key worship song that exists.
  • And will admitting that stop me? hehehehe (That laugh means…’nooooo’.)
  • There are some really kickin’ Boss pedals.
  • I have started songs in wrong keys during practice, and then went back over to fiddle with my Avioms pretending I just wasn’t hearing things right.
  • There have been times when I have been literally almost paralyzed by hoping that what other people think of me is that I’m someone who doesn’t care what other people think of me.
  • ‘Bad Romance’ is blasted catchy.
  • When I don’t understand a movie, I usually comment on the ‘philosophical undertones.’ You can also interchange ‘philosophical’ to ‘sociological’ every once in a while for good measure. It works the same with guitar gear, but you have to say ‘harmonics.’
  • And, the worst thing I can possibly think of to get Freudian (that’s more good time homey-speak right there, yo) over:

The M13 doesn’t sound as bad as I’d like it to.

Splendid.
Karl.

Live Looping, My All-Time Favorite Pedal, & ‘I Don’t Know What to do with My Hands’

Beauty (meaning tone) comes in many different forms (of delay). It can be a handpainted Freakshow Digilog (tone is in the paint, of course), in the looks-so-boutique-you-know-it-sounds-good Skreddy Echo, or the calm, cool black of an Empress Vintage Modified Super Delay. For others, it might come in the form of a flanger. We humbly call those people wrong.

For me, it comes in the form of the spectrum of tonal light emanating from this pedal:

You don’t see the spectrum of tonal light? Not even emanating a little? Ya. I know. My little Arion SAD-1 looks as if it may at one time have been an effects pedal. I still don’t know how it’s working. I’ve re-taped those wires so many times, as the adapter jack is broken. And I never step on it; bypass looper only. I’m afraid, realistically I think, that if I step on it, it will disintegrate. But here’s the thing. I have delay pedals that can do more than this thing. I have delay pedals that sound better than this thing. I have delay pedals that are not in danger of developing a short in the wiring and frying my whole board. But I have yet to hear a delay do what this one does. There is a strangely dark, meshed quality to this pedal’s tone that almost seems to meld things together. Or even synthesize sounds. Like a chorus, but good. ;) And I cannot get any delay pedal to sound like this one. And I’ve owned and played more delay pedals probably than anyone ever should. To me, this is the most beautiful one. I got it six years ago this December, at the now defunct Future Music on Sunset Boulevard. (Oh, how I loved that store. I still have dreams about it. No, for reals.) And it has been through pedalboard after pedalboard, and has seen hundreds of pedals come and go. Yet it’s still here. And well, I can’t sell something that looks like that, so…it always will be. But it would be anyway for the tone! hehe

To truly appreciate what this pedal can do, you really have to hear it. This is another new song I just recorded, and towards the middle/end of the video, I put the guitar down and start messing with the POG, and then this Arion. And you can hear the almost orchestral sound that starts as I turn the mix knob up. And sorry for yet another song, but it’s where all my spare time has been going lately. (Pedals that do not have homes yet, if you’re reading this, I’ll come back soon.) So here’s the new song, and this one is not tracked, but played straight through and looped live, while recorded via external microphone:

And you can hear what the Arion did. This is truly one of those beautiful, gorgeous sleeper pedals that we all dream of finding. I’ve never heard another delay, analog or digital, do what this one does. Just be careful not to breathe around them.

Now, I must mention that undoubtedly the best part of this video is that I obviously have no clue whatsoever on what to do with my hands when there is not a guitar in them. I had no idea I was doing that. If I had to guess, it looks like I’m first conducting the POG (inanimate object, folks), and then wofting the sound from the amp up towards my nostrils. Sounds like something I would do.

I am so awesome. Nope.

Splendid.
Karl.

New Song – ‘Something I Can Almost Remember’

I’ve been trying really hard lately to figure out how to still be a guitar gear junkie when I have no money. And on a whim, I decided to try this new fad called, ‘playing the stuff you buy.’ It was strange and a little bit frightening at first, but after the first couple G chords and modified Edge riffs (and by ‘modified’, I mean, ‘added more delay’), I felt strong. So in the absence of buying gear, songwriting happens. So maybe not buying new gear is actually a good thing? ………lol Ah, I say crazy things sometimes. But in the meantime:

What is happening here? Yesterday I discover that it is possible to not be in a nightmare and still have two harmonizing David Hasselhoff’s flying at you, and today I’m questioning the merit of buying new gear. I think the world is ending, folks.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. The full version keeps getting taken down off youtube, but this should be required watching for all us gear junkies:

Uncontroversial

It would appear that my last few posts have incited some fairly passionate putting forth of opinions by some folks. And yes, I did mention some of the automatic opinion-inciting words, such as ‘Line 6′, ‘big pedalboard’, ‘true bypass’, and ‘Christian.’ (Man, if only I had mentioned ‘Dumble’ too! That would’ve been great.) In actuality, I do try to be slightly controversial in some of my posts, as it tends to spark better and more valuable conversation. You don’t learn anything from each other while re-hashing the same old status quo. And I’ve been stoked on this blog how great and respectful of each other the arguments have been, even the more heated ones. So, because I think the discussions are so important, I was tempted to continue the trend and title this next post something like, ‘Playing a John Mayer Song Through a Dumble-Modeled Patch on a Line 6 M13 in Churches That Mandate Their Musicians to be Baptized and Own an Axe-FX Before Joining the ‘Team of Lead-Worshipers’. But…uh…I decided it might be time for a little break from controversy.

So instead, here’s a gift. A gift of music. (As if there were any other kind.) It’s one of the new U2 songs they’re premiering on their current tour, to see how audiences react. See? U2! How can that possibly be controversial? ;) But I’m stoked because, while their last album seemed to forsake song-writing and melody for lots of empty layers and orchestration (good things on their own, but the song has to be there), the new stuff they are demo’ing seems to have gone back to what has made U2 so great over so many years: huge anthem-like songs that can also be stripped down to just an old Irish folk tune with a great melody over a perfect harmonic structure. And those of you hardcore fans, who might have a special place in your heart reserved for the only-once-played, personification of musical perfection that is the intro to The Fly from Live in Boston 2001, will be overjoyed to hear that they have finally, finally written a song around that intro. I give you (well, me and U2…see what I just did there…give you), Every Breaking Wave:

Now, before the U2 conversations start, let me tell you why this is the most uncontroversial video you could ever imagine. Because it has something for everybody. Let me explain:

If you love U2, here’s a brand new song from them with a gorgeous melody, and the chance to see Bono and Edge singing like it was just their backyard.

If you hate U2, you can hear how about 3/4 of the way into the song, they still haven’t worked out the proper chords for the melody, and can hear them struggle a bit. So then, you can flame away!

If you think Bono is a showy heathen, there’s a line about gambling to help justify you in that opinion.

And if you’re looking for deep Christian meaning from Bono, there is also the line, ‘I thought I heard the master’s voice; it’s hard to listen while you preach.’ (Now I gotta admit, lyrics don’t get much better than that. That hit me pretty hard.)

If you love Edge’s guitar, it sounds absolutely fantastic in this clip.

And if you hate Edge’s guitar, well, it is soaked in delay, so have a heyday destroying it. :)

If you think U2 is the biggest band in the world, you’ll hear a hushed silence fall onto the crowd as they play this intimate and soul-baring song.

And if you think U2 is an overblown crock of over-the-hill losers, you’ll hear a lifeless crowd falling into total boredom.

(Isn’t it amazing how perspective can actually change facts depending on what you’re preconceived notions are?)

And if you just don’t care one way or another about U2, there’s a cool blue hue over some awesome upside-down umbrella’s for ya. ;)

See? This video has something for everyone! It’s my gift to you. ……Alright, alright, and for those of you who think for some odd reason that this may have been less of a gift and more of me just making an excuse to show another U2 video (where in the world would you get that idea?), here are some more gifts:

Some brand new wonder:

And some worship. This song will sound cheesey to you at first, but just keep listening. One of those ones that defies you not to have fun with it:

And then, of course, for you rockers out there. This one is thanks to Nater2, who posted this in a previous comment. The best part about this, except for the vegan’s-nightmare on his head, is how in the world this can actually be considered a lesson. Just because I can see your hand does not mean I can copy you. hehe And, as much, as this style of music doesn’t grab me personally, I must admit it was pretty impressive about 3/4 of the way through when his hand literally becomes a blur on the camera as he’s moving it above and below the fretboard. Oh, and you gotta love the honesty of just plain calling the song what it is, amongst other language…’Nitro’, ‘keys to the Lamborghini’, and of course, ‘Michael Angelo’:

And lastly, a retro-classic that makes you remember why you’re alive. Well, maybe that’s just me. And there’s deinitely some akwardness there too, but for some reason…I just love it. Fun version is first, better and full version of Karla DeVito’s song is right below:

And just for good measure, Klon, Alf Hermida, waitlist for a Toneczar, Ed Roman, Danelectro Timmy clones, Lincoln Brewster, Line 6 Verbzilla.

;)

Splendid.
Karl.

Dude, Have You Ever Heard of Line 6?

Ah. My favorite comment. I get this about once every couple of months. Just got another one on youtube. Incredibly kind, well-meaning folks who look at my large-ish pedalboard and think, ‘Ah, poor guy…hauling all those ancient analog pedals around. He must have never heard of Line 6!’ And then they proceed to describe to me the wonders of these new-fangled inventions called ‘multi-effects’ which have just recently rendered the old analog technology obsolete. And I do not have the heart to tell them that yes, in fact, I have heard of Line 6 and that I might vaguely recall the name ‘Axe-FX’; because their intentions are just so genuine.

On some related (nope) notes:

  • School of Seven Bells has a new album out. And it is all that you have ever hoped for.
  • He’s not so cool anymore because he caught up on his waitlist, but plugging in a Hermida pedal is really something special.
  • I think reality tv just hit an all-time low. A guy was trying to drop cd’s onto a plastic cup. And there were hosts, and lights, and a stage, and shots of the audience with that ‘look-at-my-face-twist-in-breath-taking-tension-please-put-me-on-tv’ look. About seven or eight years ago, I was watching David Letterman, and he said that in ten years reality tv would finally hit its all-time low and go off the air forever on the heels of its newest incarnation, ‘Hit Me With Driftwood.’ And with ‘Drop the CD onto the Cup’, we are unbelievably not that far off.
  • And yes, I did watch the whole thing. It may be time to re-evaluate how you spend your life if you’re tensely yelling, ‘Whoa! He almost got that cd to stay on the cup!’ That’s when you need to stop and say those words to yourself out loud: ‘He almost got that cd to stay on the cup.’ Oh. Not my finest hour.
  • U2 has a couple new songs, and thank everything that is good in this world, it seems they have rediscovered that fabled land called melody.
  • Bono is quoted as saying that ‘a melody should feel inevitable.’ I absolutely love that; it seems to embody good song-writing so completely. But their last album seemed to have very few ‘inevitable-sounding’ melodies. I think they are back. I also sometimes think, with quotes such as this, that Bono may be a genius.
  • On the other hand, Bono is also quoted as saying, ‘I love to paint. I don’t think it’s just the fumes, but it might be.’ ;)
  • Someone once noted that the famous and oft-used inspirational quote from D.L. Moody about how the world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully devoted to Him, is in essence saying that ‘the world has yet to see a man fully and completely devoted to God.’ As a fellow stupid person in a world of stupid people, I’m not sure that can ever really happen. But it does haunt me.
  • And if you’re not religious, hey. You probably know by now that you’ve gotta put up with some God posts from me in order to get to the gear demo vids, or to watch me make a fool of myself by completely dissing (the ’90′s were an awkward time, weren’t they?) a pedal and then having it show up on my board in a later post, or to see more proof of highly paid actors who can’t…um…act. You know, why-ever you come here. (Or to hear words like ‘why-ever’.)
  • Speaking of highly paid actors who can’t act……you knew it was coming:

  • The best part is his confused blink after he says ‘inferno.’ You just get the feeling that it’s not necessarily that he’s a bad actor; he just simply doesn’t understand any of the lines coming out of his mouth.
  • In fairness to Keanu, I may not be too keen on his acting style, but I have heard that he is one of the hardest workers in Hollywood and does most of his own stunts. While I’m sitting here writing a blog. Perspective.
  • Now, I’m veering dangerously away from music here, so we need to bring it back. For those of you who have not seen MegaPiranha, well first off, your life must just be an empty, hollow shell. But second off (how come ‘first off’ works and ‘second off’ doesn’t?), not only do giant piranhas jump out of rivers headfirst into condominiums and you get to see landscape shots of computer-generated tails hanging out of buildings, not only does the hero bicycle kick them (yep), and not only do they celebrate and end the movie after only killing one of the thousands of megapiranhas, but Greg Brady is in it. Yes. He so is.
  • And how does that bring us back towards music? Because Tiffany (yes, ’80′s Think We’re Alone Now’ Tiffany) is also in it. She plays a scientist. And she just might have feelings for the former navy seal who is bicycle-kicking megapiranhas. But they come from different backgrounds, and want to save the world in very different ways, so it’s dicey for a while. Oh, and she does fall to her knees and scream that she just wants to kill all the piranhas. Just wants to kill them all. Some folks say that this movie was purposefully bad. Dear sweet mercy, I hope so.
  • Sometimes, I go a couple weeks without having played a set that calls for fuzz. And then I have to turn it on for a few seconds just to feel normal again.
  • A lot of the new worship music coming out sounds like if Coldplay were hillbillies. It’s either that, or lazy song-writing. I haven’t contributed anything better, granted; but just an observation. It’s like country songs but with the harmonic color taken out and a straight drive beat put in. And for me, I’m like, if that’s where your music naturally takes you, just leave the groove and the lap steel in, and rock the country.
  • Come on, worship song-writers. What happened to the good ‘ol days of just U2 ripoffs? Don’t change things up on me! That’s all I can play now! ;)

And scene.

Splendid. (Maybe.)
Karl.

Everything is Music

Ever think that the entire world is made up of sonic textures? That it’s actually different sounds traveling at incredible rates (‘it feels like you’re running at an incredible rate, Harry!’) that make up objects, feelings, and life? And as such, we each would have our own unique tonal center? And mine would be an Irish flute played through a sound system of line-array Matchless’s (mmmmm)? Well, I do. And this proves it unequivocally. Except without the unequivocal part…or the proving part……so, I guess we’ve just got ‘this’:

  • Phil Collins, I love you, but the drum fill in that ‘I can feel it callin’ in the air tonight’ song that the government obviously passed a law saying that is has to play in every department store in the world at least once per hour, is the most awkward drum fill on universe. It also sounds like the bongo patch on a Casio. Or maybe that’s just the speakers in Ross. Only the best for me.
  • Speaking of Phil Collins, he’s totally the police inspector in the beginning of Hook. You know, the one investigating Pan’s missing children. Yep.
  • Oh, and speaking of buying things in department stores, I went into this one store one time and saw the greatest Robert Downey Jr. jacket ever. I went in to buy it with definite mirth in my step. And it was $1200. Just the jacket. The music in my head definitely stopped for a second.
  • I know it’s overplayed, but how is Pachelbel’s Canon not the best song ever? And yes, I have seen the ‘Pachelbel’s rant’ video on youtube. And no, he does not include U2 in it, no matter what you hear.
  • Speaking of overplayed, Sweet Child o’ Mine? So…much…of that guitar intro. Everywhere. However, I have to admit, I wish I had come up with something like that. So iconic.
  • And ‘iconic’ is so the new ‘epic.’ Which means both words are almost about to be banned from life. Like ‘hands down’ and ‘nails.’ Because I…uh…definitely have the power to do that? Yes. ;)
  • You know those folks that sing along the cool places of the world? And usually they are just horrendously hacking some finger-tapped and ’80′s-a-cized version of Phantom of the Opera on electric violin? Well…3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica yesterday, and lo and behold, one of the best female voices I have ever heard. I got a video, but it sucks, because she was a girl, and even though I was with my wife, I didn’t want to be the creeper taking a video of a 16-year-old. We talked with her afterwards, and she was actually  our age, but we couldn’t tell at first. Anyway, here name is Clare Means, and you should definitely go to claremeans.com . And when her songs are in movies next year, remember that you heard of her first here and then bow in homage to my awesome abilities to…well……shop in Santa Monica, I guess. ;)
  • And my wife made me a card yesterday for one of our anniversaries (yes, we are cheesey and celebrate everything…love is a good thing), and…well…all I can say is that if you’re jealous of her, it’s okay:

  • Read that last one again. She is the greatest. She even knew to give him a Vox and an Explorer. If that’s not love… But seriously…love you, Sweetheart!
  • Playing a worship set tonight. With my amp, guitar, a drive and a delay. Maybe a tuner. Leaving really early for a family wedding in Colorado tomorrow, so I gotta get out of there fast right after the set. Regular guitar playing, that’s all you need. Swells, textures, ambience, and synth with a delay and a drive? Looking forward to the challenge. I’m sure there will be some awkward sounds, too. And some stepping on air where I imagine more pedals to be.

So much more to say, but I need to go get ready for the flight. Not sure how much I’ll be around; depends on the internet situation up there. Not in Colorado as a whole, but where we’re staying. hehe I’m also taking bets for how many times I’ll hear ‘In the Air Tonight’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ on the trip. I’m pretty sure Colorado has those songs, too. I’m going with the conservative vote of 12 each by Monday.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Not to sound desperate or anything, but times are tough. Not in danger of not making rent or anything, but tough enough to where I feel guilty having so many pedals on the board when everything else is so tight. So, if anyone is interested in an Ooh Wah, Mosferatu, Strobostomp, POG, or RV3, let me know. :)

Face-melting, Flock of Seagulls & Failure

No intro. Yep. You hear that sound? That’s me crying because the world kept turning.

  • My wife and I were watching a movie the other night, and hearing the soundtrack creep in, I said, ‘Oh cool. Bass delay.’ She said, ‘Like Michael Brook.’ This is the stuff true love is made out of.
  • Played a service with three electric guitars. Other two guys sounded great. I tried to find the musical space to add without muddiness. Pretty sure I failed.
  • Absolutely killed a Lincoln Brewster solo. And when I say ‘killed’, I do not mean it in the ‘rocked it’ sense that all the cool kids are talking about these days. I mean it in the…’killed’ sense. As in, ‘murdered it, saw it lying on the ground, and then went back with a bigger stick.’
  • I practiced it all week, too. (And still failed.) Don’t think I’ve ever listened to that much Lincoln. Like, ever. I feel this weird urge to grow my hair back out and stand it up 8 and a half inches over my head like I’m Flock of Seagulls. (And I’m allowed to make fun of him as if I have something over him guitar-wise, because his solo just literally owned my face.)
  • Speaking of Flock of Seagulls, I became very frightened today, as ‘I Ran’ came on the radio, and lo and behold, there is dotted 8th delay in that song. So I raced home to make sure that song did not come out before U2′s ‘Electric Co’ (absolutely unthinkable, I know!), and was greatly relieved to find out that it was a year after. So it was they in fact who copied U2. Life, you may return to your regularly scheduled programming.
  • Want. The new delay Damage Control is working on. Want.
  • Met a pastor who was genuinely nice. Not inferring that most pastors aren’t, just that it was the kind of nice that immediately makes you think, ‘I should be like that, and I’m not.’
  • I have had my amp for almost a year now. Something must be wrong with me.
  • After years of raving about Ernie Ball strings, it’s DR’s for sure.
  • It really helps your playing when you can hear that subtle fullness that is only present when your instrument is actually at a proper level in the house mix.
  • I don’t listen to nearly enough classical music. I used to, and then I think U2 got in the way. Mmmm…U2.
  • What did I do before gear? Like, I’m honestly having trouble remembering.
  • There was a time when I argued that my Boss GT6 sounded better than my friend’s 1965 Fender Bandmaster. When I think of those days, I shudder. Actually.
  • I sacrificed my tone this weekend, and ran my pads direct instead of out of an amp. It was 172 degrees here in Southern California, and I just couldn’t bring myself to lug any more gear than I had to. We all have our breaking points. The surface of the sun is mine.
  • Transporter 2 is very stupid, and very entertaining. Jason Statham is an inspiration to balding men everywhere.
  • If you are a solid bass player, and I ever play with you, be prepared for a kiss.

Splendid.
Karl.

Actually Playing Music

So…this isn’t going to be much of a post; because I’ve been actually playing music in my spare time lately, as opposed to not actually playing music but doing everything I can to tell myself I’m doing musical things. That, of course, being buying new gear and pontificating on Gear Page about gear that I have never actually played through. Every once in a while (a great while, mind you…let’s not get carried away here), you have to tear yourself away from gear, and remember to start using the gear.

And I’ve actually managed to do that for a few days. Nothing in the mail (okay, a backup EF86 tube and new pickup selector switch, but that’s just maintenance stuff…I promise! hehe), no posts in that strange and wondrous land where John Mayer fears to tread that is The Gear Page, and no (okay, almost no) gazing with a frightening amount of tenderness at my pedalboard. Which means, unfortunately, that this is going to be a very boring post. But as I’ve been trying to actually play and write, it’s all I got right now. But I’ll do my best to make it worth your while, and actually post a video with a dedicated microphone recording, as well as an alternate angle showing my chord voicings, both of which I have been requested to do. (And if you’re worried that it will not be worth your while, there is a mind-blowing video on youtube right now of Tyra Banks pretending to have rabies. She should not be allowed to be in public. Like, ever. I must admit, that video is far more entertaining than this blog. And I’m not going to post it here because she scares me so.)

So if you’re still here after that, let’s get down into the music. This is the newest piece I’ve recorded, and it’s surprisingly very close to my heart. In fact, I didn’t actually realize what the song was about until I started piecing together the video under it, and watching the lo-res effects start to form. And I’ll use that as a platform to say that sometimes it can be a good thing to almost let the guitar play you, and let the same music you are creating, speak to you. After all, if it doesn’t speak to you, then your hope of it speaking to other people is decreased a good bit. So hopefully without sounding too much like I’m playing improv jazz at a Norwegian night club (I don’t know why, but that phrase is synonymous with ‘zen’ for me), this piece kind of ended up playing me. Even down to the fact that every time I recorded it, the sustaining harmonics ended up reacting to each other differently. I know, I know, that sounds really cool to say, but probably just means I don’t have very consistent finger attack. Granted. (Oh, and the bass response is pretty heavy in this, so laptop speakers might distort. But hey, maybe that’ll add some zen to it!) But, here it is anyway:

I said that I was going to try to make this worth your while, so here’s the second thing about this piece (the first being the zen-wanna-be ‘art has to speak to you’): theory isn’t always a bad thing. There are a couple harmonic minor augmented dominant chords in there that really helped the piece along for me; and I never would have known to go to them without a little working knowledge of music theory. But wait! The third thing comes on pretty strongly after the second, and the two should never be learned without the other. And that is: just because you know how to play an augmented dominant chord in harmonic minor, doesn’t mean you should show it off. Theory is there to help the overall music, not to help you scream ‘Look how technical I am!’ Some of the worst songs I have ever heard are the ones trying to call attention to the fact that they are playing in 15/16. And some of the best songs I have ever heard are in 15/16, but for the good of the feeling of the overall music as a whole. There is a large difference between using music theory to sound good, and using music theory to look good.

And in keeping with this theme of actually making music, and using different chord structures to make music, here is the camera recording of myself recording the mp3 to the above video. This shows the voicings I used. The sound from the little camera is not as good as the mp3 recording from the mic and through the tube preamp, so this is just to show the voicings. Oh, and I put the camera on the amp to record this, thinking the actual bass vibrations out of the cab might do cool things for the sound. Nope.

Effects used are the normal delays (Timeline’s, Memory Lane, Arion), phase (Quasar), volume pedal (who cares), and my reverb/POG shimmer combo set to a really, really low mix this time. A couple jazz chords and alternate bass notes, but mostly just variations on your normal I,IV,V, and vi chords. You know, the ‘With or Without You’ chords. ;) That every song ever uses. So I’d say, this piece is basically ‘With or Without You’ if someone who wished they were Vangelis recorded it. And since I wish I was Vangelis, then this piece is basically just me playing U2. Ah, blast.

Splendid.
Karl.