Melancon Joy, Pretty Pedals, & Blasted Humility

As I hinted at in my previous post, in which I did nothing but post the first thought into my head and every subsequent thought thereafter, I’ve been looking into getting my priorities straight. No, no, I’m not selling my gear to spend more time with people or something stupid like that…… not those priorities, the important priorities….. like which part of my rig is the most integral to good tone.

And since my last post was so incredibly like, the king of town of boredom-ville, I’ll recap–hopefully using a little thing I like to call coherent thought…….. eh……… hopefully.

See, for a long time I had more money in my pedalboard than my amps and guitars combined. Especially in my delays….. oh, how I love delays. But here’s the thing…….. no matter how good a delay is, it is delaying the sound from your guitar, and processing it out of your amp. So if the guitar and amp aren’t sounding good, the delay isn’t ever going to sound better than your rig. Same with overdrives. Pedals are enhancers….. and they can get in the way sometimes, which is why it’s usually a good idea to have some sort of buffer, or clean boost, or bypass loop, or effects loop (maybe), or what have you. (Sorry, that’s a different subject.)

fuzzes.jpg
(Some guy’s cool collection….. doesn’t look like too many, right? But check this out… they’re all fuzz pedals! I should be laughing at him. But I’m envious. Very sick.)
And that makes a ton of sense to me. But! Pedals are beautiful….. and I also suffer from always wanting to be different than the other guitarists….. and find that magical tone from some far-off land that makes grown men cry like schoolgirls and then everyone will ask, ‘From what realm of splendor did you lure that toneful wonder?’ To which I always respond (in my head) with a Clark Gable smirk, and I whip out my vintage piece-of-junk guitar that I’ve expertly modded and the amp I’ve found behind the old guitar luthier hermit’s garbage can, and everyone kisses each other from the sheer glory that is my brilliant mind at having found such tone in those diamond-in-the-rough instruments that no one will now ever be able to reproduce.
And then of course, to preserve such tone, I have to have the best sounding pedals to go with that awesome rig.
Ya. And that really goes on in my mind. I’m serious….. I just closed my eyes for a second and imagined my sweetest dream, and then typed….. and that’s, then, my sweetest dream. Now, somewhere along the road a few years back, reality made a small break-in…… and I sold some pedals and bought a really good amp. But, I was still reticent on buying a decent guitar (and ‘reticent’ does not fit in that context as far as the dictionary goes, but it does sound really good there). And it wasn’t that I didn’t think the guitar was the most important part….. it was just that I convinced myself that I could buy some one-off guitars or vintage guitars and mod them into sounding just as good as a handmade guitar or something.
tone.jpg
(Now that’s tone, right? Of course, that’s Willie Nelson’s guitar…. so I’ll let you decide whether that means tone or not.)

And that may be absolutely true. My point is not that we should all go out and spend thousands of dollars on a guitar. My point is that I (just a thought) might want to sell two or three delay pedals and buy a decent guitar instead of looking specifically for the half-broken, knockoff guitar that has the cult following. If you like those kinds of guitars, then awesome. But if you’re like me, and like them so that you can bask in the genius of the fact that you are so much better than everyone else because you found the guitar that sounds better than the culturally accepted ones and all for only $50, you just might want to give it some second thoughts. Just in case. :-)
And I can almost hear Mike Huffman applauding right now. (He’s a friend who has been after me for years to get what he calls a ‘real’ guitar and get rid of my (he gently calls them) junk guitars.
So, for me, this is not a ‘tone revelation’ or getting more snobby and only buying high-end everything. This is for me, finally getting humble and admitting that I am not the prodigy musician who can listen to six Squire guitars at Guitar Center and pick out the one that was accidentally crafted from better wood than the American-made Fenders. (I know you think I’m kidding….. I will let you think that, because I would hate to have to actually admit to many of the things I have pontificated on over the years. hehe) I know it’s a good thing to want to be original…… but I also think that as musicians in general (especially worship musicians), we need to be humble enough to not think we have it all figured out. That sounds really basic, but it’s something I struggle with.
So!!! Sadly, some dear children must go in order to pay for a new guitar. Goodbye vintage Fostex reverb unit that never really makes a difference but makes me feel better running my digital keyboard through a ‘true spring reverb’. Goodbye Moog phaser that I turn on once every two months but is the most beautiful looking and sounding phaser I have ever seen. Goodbye HBE Dos Mos that I bought to fix my tone instead of looking for the much more important new guitar. Goodbye 1982 Ibanez Strat that I modded. (Actually, that guitar gave my new one a run for its money….. I was pleased that my pride hadn’t hurt me too badly. Kinda. But I would still recommend that guitar to people.)
And the new edition is this Gerard Melancon Strat with Jason Lollar pickups. Picked it up for an incredible deal, considering that Gerard handmakes these one at a time. (And I’ve been told that it’s pronounced Mel AHN sawn Important….. nothing worse than trying to impress your tone friends with your new guitar and calling the builder by his first name like you know him (hehe…… I never do that), and then mis-pronouncing his last name. Yep. Definitely did that for the first week.)
Melancon1small-1.jpg picture by rypdal95     

Melancon9small-1.jpg picture by rypdal95

But it had everything I was looking for.

–One piece of wood body.
–One piece of wood neck and headstock.
–Body is Louisiana swamp ash. And Gerard lives in Louisiana, and has his logger harvest the wood from the ash trees’ bottoms right near the roots where the wood is close to 200 years old. So, it definitely has the aged wood thing going on. (Well, someone told me that some of the wood at the base of those trees is 200 years old….. it sounds kinda fishy to me, but I guess it might be true. But he does say on his website that they only use the lower parts of the ash trees right above the waterline because the wood is the oldest and the best. 200 years? Not quite sure yet.) 
–Maple neck.
–Wood finish, so I can be sure it’s one piece of wood. :-)
–Lollar blonde pickups.
And I really can’t say enough good things about this guitar…… and nothing I say will make much difference without hearing it. It sounds incredibly sweet and beautiful. And it plays extremely nicely, I almost never have to tune. But I’ll suffice with this story………
The day I got it, I’m playing it in my wife’s and my office. And my wonderful wife, who when I ask her each week if she noticed how my new pedal reacted with the new amp or guitar or whatever, always smiles and says, ‘Oh, I can’t tell the difference. Your tone always sounds good, Sweetheart’, hears me playing this guitar, looks at me in her most serious don’t-cross-me face, and says, ‘Babe. Never sell that guitar.’
It takes me a lot longer than most people to get it knocked through my head that my pride is influencing my ears.
But right now, I am happy.
For the moment. :-) 
     

Splendid.
Karl.

  

 

 

HBE Dos Mos and wanting pedals because they look awesome!

As promised, here is the review of the HBE Dos Mos dual mosfet preamp/buffer. 

HBEsmall.jpg

The usage:

I put it at the very end of my chain on the preamp setting to give my signal a boost after running through my chain. I was hoping to warm it up and bring some of the treble and mid-highs back that your sound loses after running through cables and pedals.

The findings:

–Wow. Incredibly warm preamp setting. Does not squash or kill your tone. Fairly transparent….not as transparent as say, a Tim pedal, but surprisingly close. Also surprising that it doesn’t need an eq….it just boosts your signal, without any compression, or adding of bass, treble, mids….very nice.

–Nice. Brings out the highs nicely. A bit of gain, but not too much.
–Cool. Gain is not thin or overpowering.
–What? Can double as an ABY box? Very cool. You can set it to cascade the two channels into one output, or set one for each output, and connect two amps. Really cool feature.
–Even cooler is that you can set each channel for a different guitar if you use two varying output guitars, and still run it through one output.
–Strongly built, true bypass. Knobs are very sensitive, which is cool.
–Buffer setting is okay, but didn’t effect the sound enough for me. I liked the preamp setting better. 
–Responsive. Some buffers and boosts kill the dynamics of your playing, but this one let it through for the most part.

The results:

–Not for me.

Wait a second…..I know. How can a pedal that got such great reviews not be for me? Or even more, how can a pedal that got such great reviews from none other than myself, be not for me? It’s oxymoronic! (Hmmm….. it’s entirely possible that I just made that word up.) But it’s amazing how many times you find a pedal, or an amp, or a guitar, or some piece of gear that logically, should be a great sounding pedal….. but it just didn’t do it for you in your rig. That’s what this one was like in mine. Which is interesting, because of course I love the one channel version of this pedal in Jason’s and Erin’s rigs (a couple incredible guitarists I know). But for me, I remembered why I got rid of my preamps and buffers and clean boosts in the first place….. for some reason, I’m on this purist kick of coming as close to straight in amp sound as possible. Now, I can say that if I hadn’t taken my volume pedal out of the chain, I would have loved this pedal. But removing the volume pedal did more for my tone than a preamp…… I wish I had done it earlier.

So, great pedal, and I’ll probably buy it again one day when my thought processes change again (which is probably in like two weeks), but for now really, really I need to break myself of the habit of buying pedals when I don’t like my tone. I’ve been backwards for so many years……. scrimping on the guitar and amp, but having like, $1300 worth of delay pedals. (See? I told you it was a sickness.) A few years ago, I even started experimenting with amps, and finally got a nice one that I am incredibly happy with. But the main source of your tone is a guitar….. so why do I always scrimp on the guitars? My current belief is that you can take a great sounding guitar and run it through cheap pedals and a solid state amp and it will sound better than a cheap guitar through a great amp and great pedals. Now, that’s arguable, and it works to run a cheap guitar through a great amp, also, but I don’t think it works as well. Best case scenario is to get a good guitar and a good amp, and then pedals are the afterthought. I’m really unsure, and I’m kind of just musing out loud right now and nothing amusing or even mildly humourous is coming out, so my apologies if this has put you to sleep. (Plus, Edge is playing the anti-solo to Love is Blindness right now on my itunes, so I’m not really thinking about what I’m typing….. that’s the U2 guitarist, for those of you who haven’t read the 18 posts in which I’ve shared my adoration for his playing.) So, guitars are on their way in, pedals are on their way out in order to pay for said guitars, and reviews are to come. 

But here’s the thing: that HBE Dos Mos is in custom colors and it has bright blue led’s, and cool marble knobs, and I want it on my board. I don’t even need to hook it up, just leave the lights on in a corner of my board. It looks so good! I wanted so badly to like it while I was testing it, because not only does it have killer looks, but the way the jacks are arranged, it allowed me to run my cables much more cleanly on my board. See, without it, I have to prop up my control box with a piece of wood to connect my cable to my amp while I wait on Mark Stoddard to build me another cable. But with the Dos Mos, well here:

Without:

HBEabsencesmall-1.jpg

(Gross.)

With:

 

HBE2small-1.jpg

(Mmmmm……. blue led’s…….. notice that I also took the ‘with’ picture at a much cooler angle with softer lighting than the ‘without’ picture. Little trick I like to call ‘marketing’. Cheesey, yet effective.)

I seriously can’t believe I would keep a pedal I don’t like the sound of in my rig because it looks cool. Maybe that’s why I never buy guitars………

Okay, apologies for the long and boring ‘stream of consciousness or random thought’ post. Anyone who’s not crazy like me want to buy an awesome HBE pedal? :-) If you don’t like it, I’ll probably buy it back from you in a couple weeks when my lofty and staunchly firm ideals change again. hehe

Splendid.
Karl.

It's only gear, right?

Well, my lovely 65 Amps London lovely (I think I already said lovely) cabinet received its first of what will more than likely be many battle scars this Sunday. *Sigh* It’s just gear, it’s just gear…. that’s what I keep telling myself. And the looks do nothing for the sound, I know. And usually I’m really good at this. I almost always buy things for their sound, and couldn’t care any less about their looks…. provided it’s not a bright pink ’80′s glamrock BC Rich Warlock or something…. nothing’ll take a congregation out of worship faster than the sight of a glammed-up BC Rich, no matter how it sounds. And I’ve gotten so much great-sounding ugly stuff over the years, that I’ve come to love the beat-up look. 

But then, something like this will happen:

London1small-1.jpg picture by rypdal95

Now, that may not be your cup o’ tea in a guitar cab, but for me, it just happened to be my exact taste in looks. And when I say, ‘just happened’, that’s exactly what I mean. That’s how I fall hopelessly and stupidly in love with some of my gear, is because…… it just happens.

I was searching for a solid ply, Baltic Birch 2×12 cab, with a Celestion Blue paired with a Celestion G12H30, constructed in such a way that the speakers are not ‘sitting’ at the bottom of the cab. And I found this one, and it totally fit the bill. But see, the pictures weren’t much to speak about…. maybe the guy I bought it from had a cheap camera, or maybe I just glossed over them in my exuberance to actually find a cab secondhand that was exactly what I wanted. Either way, I had no idea I would fall in love with the classic, yet just clean/modern enough, & original, but not overly busy, type of design and looks this thing sports. So when UPS left it on my porch, I opened it up, took it out, saw it, and was like, “Blast. I’m going to have a problem acting like an overprotective gear freak while gigging this.” And so I did.

I know, I know, I’m dumb. Gear is for me what cars are for most guys. So for me, this is one of those things that I ask God to scratch or dent for me so that I stop obsessing over a chunk of wood with some tolex. And what does God usually do when we pray things we’d rather not pray? Ya…..

Londondentsmall-1.jpg picture by rypdal95

Big old smash right at the top middle of the amp. It actually hurts my body physically to look at it. See, in order to lower stage volume, but still keep tube-goodness in tone, we run our amp heads on stage with 50 foot speaker cables to our cabs in closets, and mic our cabs there. The problem arises when you try to explain to the youth pastor why you need a 20×10 closet kept empty for your guitar cab…… which I probably don’t, but think I do, because then the mic can pick up the ambient space, and of course the whole congregation can tell the difference when there is ambient space being mic’d and when there are storage boxes in the room. Right. The youth pastors and stage managers and the like don’t buy that……. and they’re probably right. However, the storage room in which we place our cabs has fast become waaaay above capacity…. and no matter how many times I clean it out and re-organize, people go in and say, ‘Cool! More space for my ministry’s other stuff!’….. and they’re right, the closet if for storage. But it’s pretty bad……. monitors are on top of stools stacked on boxes sitting on more stools piled on more monitors and barrels of coffee….. ya, I’m serious. 

So I meticulously set my rig up Saturday afternoon, turn my amp off of stand-by, dig into a chord, and there’s some ambient noise coming from the closet, but nothing in the house. So I check all the microphone cable connections on our two 50 foot mic cables connected together so they can reach into the closet, everything’s good…..check the board, everything’s good…..everyone else has sound in their instruments…..

I open the closet, and find my cab lying on its back on a now bent speaker cable, with the microphone stand lying on its side a few feet away, and a stage monitor splat on the ground right in the middle of them. (I’m going to choose to say that it wasn’t my rig being inordinately loud that caused sound vibrations to rumble all the stored stuff and cause it to crash down upon my cab. You may think differently.) So it was pretty bad. I’m lucky it didn’t break my speaker cable jack, or cause the speaker cable to come disconnected, which could have then blown my amp. But I set it all back up, and everything worked, and all was right with the world.

It wasn’t until I tore my rig down after the services on Sunday that I noticed the large dent, not just in the tolex, but in the wood itself. It might not look that big, but it’s huge to me. Sorry, sweet cab; I should have taken better care of you. I’m hopeful, though, that it will scab over and heal itself in a couple weeks.

So God does answer our prayers. And now that it has a battle scar, I am free from being a jerk about who carries it and free from gazing it at in my office with the lights on at an ambient glow. Maybe. But in all seriousness, it is freeing when these pieces of wood and metal that we value so highly stop weighing us down. My 65 Amps London cab will not be in Heaven with me. I know that sounds cheesey, but that’s the long and the short of it.

But cheer up, beloved cab. You’ve got a long way to go before you reach this hallowed ground:

EHPhasersmall.jpg EH Small Stone picture by rypdal95

I have never had a pedal with more mojo. This thing actually worked, despite it having seen both World Wars, and probably serving on a submarine for one of them. I sold it, stupidly, so if you ever see it on e-bay, let me know.

Splendid.
Karl

Ya….another Guitar Center post…….

GCKarl04.jpg
(Yep…. that’s me….. or was, 4 years ago. Note that I’m 20 in this picture, but look like I’m 35. I think we all have to go through the long hair stage…. but I’m not sure we all have to go through the fu-manchu mustache and goatee stage. This is at Guitar Center Hollywood, in 2004, right as I was coming out of my ’80′s metal stage….. thank everything that is good in this world.)

So as of now, I’m questing for some new guitars. I’m trying to go about this logically (although ‘logic’ goes out the window, never to be seen again, every time I see some dark-stained, flame maple top with bird’s eye maple neck…. mmmm….. and I know I don’t need that……….. but, mmmmm), so I know right now I’ve got the sleeper vintage guitars that are ‘one-offs’ (’78 Gibson Firebrand Deluxe The Paul & ’81 Ibanez Strat Blazer series, with modded electronics). My plan is to buy newer boutique versions of each guitar, as well as the ‘real thing’…… i.e. ’70′s Gibson Les Paul and ’70′s Fender Strat. (Obviously, early ’60′s versions might be more desirable, but I might have to invest in some sort of illegal activity in order to raise the funds and that is not an option…….. just yet…….. kidding, kidding, of course….. hmmmm…..) So that will be a completely new post with Strat shootouts and Les Paul shootouts (coming soon!). Only one of each will stay, because of lack of funds and the aforementioned hesitation at performing lucrative illegal operations. 

In looking for guitars, always, always check your local craigslist. You can really get some good deals off of there. Especially the LA one. You get a lot of 60-year-old guys with more guitars than divorces (which is saying a lot) and sometimes they just want to talk to somebody, I think, after being holed up in their musty, smoke-filled apartment for 50 years, practicing their chops for their next bar gig, hoping John Mayer will be there and need a touring musician, hear them, and then their worries will be over…….. they can then buy even more guitars and a bigger apartment to smoke in. (Or at least, that is what I would do, without the inhaling of fire part.) This is a gross generalization, of course, but if you ever have a free day, call up somebody from Hollywood who has listed a guitar on craigslist and go up there just to see the accumlation of gear in those apartments. Insane. Good times with insanely talented, old musicians in Hollywood. And I’ve done the whole Hollywood thing, and John Mayer never saw me (or maybe he did and most likely wasn’t impressed, hehe), but I just got out while I was still in my 20′s. :-) And for those of you thinking I must be famous or something, I can assure you I am definitely not…… you’d be surprised how many famous clubs you can book when your band pays the promoter! :-) Ya, if you’re prepared to be broke, you can play any stage you want with as little talent as you want. (And it was pretty little,in my case.)

what.jpg
(Oh, my. These are not mine. But oh, how I wish.)

Anyway, I’m checking craigslist for vintage guitars and not finding too much in my price range in LA unfortunately, so I go to the Inland Empire craigslist (what a dumb name for where we live). And I see a ’73 Les Paul amongst some other guitars going for what appears to be fairly cheap. So I get all excited and call the number. And the other line picks up and answers:

“Good afternoon, Guitar Center.”

And I’m annoyed…..very much so. I go to craigslist so I don’t have to deal with over-gauged prices and haughty salesman and ‘I’m sorry there’s a factory bottom price on this guitar that was made in 1973′. And then they go and pretend to be a private party selling a guitar! Not once did the ad mention Guitar Center, or allude to the fact that there would be sales tax in the final price, or that it was a store. In fact, the ad was worded in such a way as to make it sound like a private party. Ugghhh. So I answer:

“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. I was looking for a PRIVATE PARTY selling a ’73 Gibson.”

GC: “Oh, hang on, let me transfer you to our vintage guy.”

(insert Guitar Center hold music….. i.e. ‘Crazy Train’….. here)

GC Vintage Guy: “Guitar Center Vintage Sales, how may I help you?”

Me: “Yes, I saw a ’73 Gibson Les Paul on craigslist and called this number.”

GC Vintage Guy: “Oh, ya, sorry bro. That’s long gone. But we have lots of other guitars….. guitars waaaay better than that one! Give me an hour to check, and I’ll call you right back.”

So I give him my number, in order to hear what waaaaay better guitars they are sporting than a ’73 Les Paul. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Guitar Center is great for strings, picks, or some used gear that they might not be quite up to snuff on what it is, or whatever. And they’re making strides, trying to get some T-Rex and Laguna stuff in there. That’s cool. But a ’73 Les Paul? They’re gonna tell me it was played by Jimmy Page after he bought it from Jimi Hendrix after Hendrix found it in King Tut’s tomb or something. And so then, of course, they can’t sell it for anything lower then 15K, and they’ll act offended when I offer like, 90% of that price, and then have one of their buddies come up and ask them to go to lunch, and then they’ll say something like they can’t because gave their last dollar to their 8 children to split at school between the bullies trying to take their money and the books their teacher needs them to buy. And so I’ll probably end up going down there anyway and offering 90% just because it’s amusing to watch them do this.

Ahhh. Good times at Guitar Center.

Mondo Amps

I run a type of ambient pad sound underneath my guitar when I play. Really opens up some space, especially when you’re out there playing an intro or a whole song all by yourself. I don’t want to bore everyone with the details of that, but basically I need a secondary amp to run it through. I’ve been through a couple….first I used a Seymour Duncan 84-40. This is an EL84 based tube amp from the ’80′s. Solid state recitifier. Sounded decent…I was always surpirsed how good it sounded plugging my guitar straight in. But…my main rig is EL84 based amps. And I wanted an amp (because money is always tight…our economy just rocks right now…..isn’t it great how we can blame everything right now on the economy?……yesterday I hit a wrong chord in worship and our bassist laughed at me……but when i explained to him that the wrong chord was due to the flailing economy, he nodded emphatically and totally agreed with me…..fantastic times right now) that was a little more American/bluesy sounding so that I could play small gigs and clubs with just that amp and a guitar….just a different sound than the modern rock, Voxy, effect-laden style. It’s nice to have some versatility. So I needed an amp that would sound nice and deep with my background pad, but could also double as a straight-up blues amp. 

So I sold the Duncan, and bought a Li’l Dawg. A guy named Jim Nickelson handmakes these up in Northern California. Basically a ’50′s Fender Champ clone, but with a 12″ speaker and a bigger cab. Sounded great!! But it was only 5 watts, and I needed a bit more clean headroom for both the pad and for playing straight into it. (If money was not an issue, I would have kept this little gem, though!)

So off that goes, and I’ve been looking for like a month for something that fit the bill, but was also somewhat within my budget (note that I always say ‘somewhat’). And I run across this handmade 2×10 Fender ’60′s bassman clone. 

Mondo1.jpg
(Please note that this picture is from the guy I bought the amp from. He owns a Ferrari. I do not. If I did, I would sell it. Then I would still not own a Ferrari. I would own lots more guitars, amps, pedals, and maybe an autographed photo of Val Kilmer in Tombstone. And probably also a Japanese-made hybrid car so that I could use the money I saved on gas to buy more guitars, amps, pedals, and autographed photos of celebrities whom I wish I was.)

 

Some random guy, so the story goes, who calls his company Mondo Amps, handwired and handmade this thing in 2004. Spring, tube-driven reverb, two Jensen speakers, killer vintage-vibe-looking stained pine cab, dual 6L6 output tubes, tube rectifier (tube preamp, of course). So I took a chance. 

And, ya, it sounds really good. Very warm and big with a ton of clean headroom for the pad. And plug a strat into it, and yikes, very very close to Jeff Buckley tone. Good, old-fashioned boomy cleans. Thick sound. Reverb is nice and washy, but not overly dense. As of now, I can’t stop playing out of it. Tons of fun.

I’m not exactly sure how to find this guy, but if I could, I might order another amp. A lot of fun to take chances on unkown builders. You win some, you lose some. Although, with this one, the previous owner sent me a gut shot of the wiring, so I was pretty sure it would sound at least decent. But, at least for me, it’s way more fun to try out stuff like this than to get the stock stuff. And when you find the good ones, the sound will be way more fun, too, if you know what I mean. And it wasn’t cheap, but way less than a Fender reissue Bassman that’s not built even close to ’60′s specs. (And then there’s the people that play through all stock Guitar Center stuff and still get fabulous tone out of it, and just crush all my lofty tone ideals. So take my ‘handmade rants’ with a grain of salt.) But nonetheless…….mmmm…..handwired.

Splendid.
Karl.

Guitar Workshop Review

The Evening

gothenburg_pedals.jpg
(Not our gear…….but close)

We finally did the long-awaited Guitar Workshop. Which might more aptly have been named the Tone-Obsessive Guitarist Workshop. And of course, as is always the case when I need to talk through my rig, my tone sucked. :-) But more on that later. Tone is a fantastic thing, guitar playing for worship is a fantastic thing, but people are the main thing. Above guitars? (That’s actually seriously what I’m asking in my head right now.) And I answer to myself, ‘Yes, even above guitars.’ We had an awesome group of people show up. So here’s the roundup of our little tone-seeker circle, from left to right as we sat on stage:

The People

Andy Lumsden–guitarist for Impact Church, former bassist for Life Church. And he’s a really cool guy…he’ll stand in every once in a while if we ask him nicely. :-) One of the most humble men I’ve ever met. To talk with him, you’d never hear a word out of his mouth about himself. But if you start asking questions, you realize he builds killer cabs, pedals, fixes amps, and is just diving into the world of building amps. Knows more than I could ever claim to. Had a great rig, too…complete with an all-original ’62 Strat. If you don’t know Andy, you should. An asset both spiritually and musically to any church he’s at.

Erin Wible–guitarist for Sunridge Community Church. I just met Aaron last night, and I tell you, he’s the first person I’ve met who rivals Andy on the humility thing. The way Aaron talked about his rig and his playing, I thought I was talking to a guy playing for a month who maybe didn’t own an amp. Then come to find out, he’s playing like a Suhr-pickuped guitar into a killer board with absolutely great tone. And he also knows when to play, and what to play, and at the right time. Incredibly cool to talk with guy, too….great sense of humor (which is, of course, rare with most of us anti-social, heads in our gear, guitarists). I immediately wished he was on my worship team. 

Mike Dalton–bassist and band leader for Sunridge Community Church. Anybody who’s ever met Mike knows that he’s a great guy……and not just a great guy…….he makes you feel like you’ve been old friends for years even if its the first time you’ve met him. The type of guy you’d wish you knew if you’d never met him. Mike did not bring his bass rig, but I’ve heard and seen him play before. He’s an incredible bassist, and is a passionate worshiper through music. Even more though, it was really encouraging to talk with him about some of the homeless ministries he’s involved with….including one where you actually list things like on craigslist, but for free. Then others can look on there for things they need, but can’t afford. Awesome. Sum all that up to, Mike is seriously a great bassist, musician, and friend!

Jason Bast–guitarist for Sunridge Community Church. Jason’s guitar playing is good…..it’s really good. He is very deft at all skills involving guitar; his playing is very smooth and subtle yet he’ll crank if you need him to, his knowledge of how to get the exact sound he wants from his gear is killer, and he can cover a ton of tonal ground with a relatively simple setup. (It’s not really simple….but I did not expect him to be able to get so many types of sounds from it!) It was the first time I had met him or heard him play, but I could tell right away that there wasn’t a sound or style he couldn’t conjure up. And not just conjure up, but play it perfectly and with really, really good tone! Totally humble guy, too….you can tell he’s in his element–using this tremendous talent for creating soundscapes with his guitar for God’s glory. I learned a lot from him.

Dan Verkade–keyboardist for Sunridge Community Church. Dan is one of the wisest and one of the most real people I have met. (Not to mention he’s my dad, and it was cool to have my dad show up to this!) He’s one of those rare people who have a grounded, logical, and Biblical founding for every belief and opinion they have. Incredible wisdom….but you have to ask him…..he doesn’t lord it over you, which is way cool. Also a great keyboardist who is content to play the minimalistic background sounds, but can also rip an organ solo if you need it. And you can tell he worships for real while he’s playing….he takes it seriously, which I have learned a lot from. Another true asset to whatever church has him. He’s not too shabby on the guitar licks, either.

Tim Pinckard–bassist and guitarist for Life Church. You know that ‘jack of all trades’ saying? Well, I modified it for Tim. He’s a jack of all trades and master of one…….meaning, he’s one of my favorite bass players ever to play with. Great feel and humility for driving whatever needs to be driven, grooving whatever needs to be grooved, and rumbling whatever needs to be rumbled. He just has a great feel for modern music and what the bass means for it. And on top of that, he’s a great guy who loves to worship the Lord in any capacity. So, he’s humble enough to play acoustic guitar and run sound when needed….and he does great at it. Tim’s the guy you want at your church and on your team. 

Kreg Ferris–guitarist for Life Church. (Well, actually Kreg plays guitar and leads worship for a couple different churches around the valley, but to me he’s always got a spot as guitarist for Life Church.) Kreg is one of the most passionate people I have ever met. He loves music, loves to use it for God, and is extremely talented. But he’s also teachable….if you play something that I’ve never heard but it sounds great, I usually try to figure it out without asking you so that I can pretend like I’ve always known it. But Kreg (much more humble than I) will ask you immediately, ‘That was cool! Show me!’ In this way, he has become an extremely versatile guitarist and worship leader. He’d also give you the shoes he was walking in if you didn’t have a pair, which in my mind is way more important than music.

So…..those were the people. And they were great people! That was the best part of the night….hanging with people like this. And to everyone who came, a huge thanks!! I hope to do this more often, as it was a blast to hang with you all, hear your tone, and learn from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But then there’s my story….if anyone cares to read…..a story involving not so much ‘tone’, but the lack thereof. But I’ll go through the changes I’ve made since then, and hopefully this will serve to help as a tone review. Beware, this may be extreme boredom at its finest.

The Happenings:

failsmall.jpg

Alright. It seems as if every time I go somewhere to show my rig, something is horribly wrong. And Monday night was no exception. I’m talking through some of my worship philosophies, and I lift my volume pedal up to strum a chord, and I’m like, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ Horrible, mid-heavy, barky tone. Ugh. Isn’t that the worst feeling ever, when you expect one sound, and you get another? So, I attribute this to a few reasons:

1) We all hear what we want to hear. Well, most of us do, and I certainly fall into that category. But there’s nothing that will bring your real, honest sound into complete reality in your mind when you’re showing your tone to other people (especially musicians). Suddenly, you seem to be hearing it for the first time, and not convincing yourself that it’s the room, or the mic, or your ears that day, or whatever. Those people are hearing it and judging your tone right then and there. So, that’s a huge thing. :-)

2) I realized that I haven’t actually ‘heard’ my rig in a while. I haven’t gigged that much in the last couple months, and at church we keep our amp cabs off stage and hear them through the house and in-ear monitors. And the in-ear monitors are like, terrible. Squished sound…I mean, you can hear the notes you’re playing, but you can’t tell tone or feel for nothin’. And I’ve made a ton of changes to my rig in the last couple months, but incorporated them all by playing at home or by playing through the system at church (after service, when I can turn up loud in the house and take the in-ears out). And, of course, eq’ing at home volumes and through sound systems won’t give you the same goodness as eq’ing your live rig at full volume right in front of you first. I have pulled my cab onto the stage after service…..but after listening to the in-ears, anything would sound awesome on stage. So….big re-learning experience for me to bring my full rig on stage every week when no one’s in the church and re-work it. I’ve known this before, but have gotten lazy or too busy or something. (Maybe just staying home and listening to too much U2……no, there’s no such thing as that.)

3) I did play half the demo with my amp on the wrong channel….I guess I was nervous and forgot to check this….or lazy….or dumb. Any of the above. But it was really funny when I went to show what the other channel of my amp sounded like, I hit the switch, and I was like, ‘Wait.’ So, that was good times.

The Solutions (hopefully):

So, as is my nature, things cannot be bad. Life must be perfect at every second, and so must be tone. (I know, that’s a terrible way to live, but for tone it’s not such a bad thing. Well, maybe it is, but then tone just supercedes anyway. Mmmm…….tone.) So I get home at like 11 PM and just start changing things in my mind, seeing what I can replace by reading reviews online and seeing if the gear I’ve put off buying is on gearpage, all that fun stuff. And then Tuesday morning, I went into the church, turned all my gear on, and re-worked stuff for like three hours. Here’s my changes:

.5) Now, the obvious solutions are to get new guitars and a new amp head (just a head as I am actually really happy with my cab). But, those are huge changes, and I’m going to try (‘try’ being the key word here) to hold off on that.

1) Get that stupid volume pedal out of my chain! I use the Ernie Ball junior. And I know it sucks tone…..I’ve ab/d it in a bypass loop and heard the tone suckage. But I’ve just not had the money to pull the trigger on a Goodrich or a Hilton or some volume pedal of that nature, so I’ve just lived with it. But these pedals are known for getting worse and worse….the pots start to wear out, the string gets caught somewhere and then you’re still not at full volume when the pedal is all the way up…..stuff like that. So I started looking at more expensive volume pedals, even the optical circuit ones. But then I started thinking that there’s no way of knowing, with a circuit that is designed to take away volume, if any pedal you get might at sometime, start working at only 90%. And I don’t want to have to bypass loop it every week to make sure. And then it came to me……………..I only use the volume pedal for swells…..that’s it’s only effect in my rig. When I play, I always run it dimed anyway. So why not keep it in a true bypass loop all the time? Then it’s completely out of the circuit until I need it for swells…..in which case my guitar is in the background anyway, and usually with a good deal of gain and delay for the swells, where a bit less volume might actually be a good thing. So I ordered an extra cable so that I can put the volume pedal in my extra bypass loop. Now my signal runs:

Guitar –> bypass box –> bypass box –> three true bypass delays –> amp. 

Wow, tone is vastly improved without that volume pedal. But…..

2) Tone is still kind of harsh and barky. So, I start to think that in past weeks I’ve been really preferring my strat over my normal go-to-guitar, the Les Paul. So I pick up the Strat and hmmmm, does sound sweeter. But not enough guts, even for a strat. Neck pickup sounds good and with guts, but very deep and bluesy. Very nice for a few styles, but not for most. Bridge pickup is really trebly, but it could sound good if it had a bit more…….ah! So, I raise the bridge pickup a bit, and fullness comes back. Still not my absolute favorite, though. So I try out the middle pickup. I raise it a bit, then mess with the mids switch for this pickup. End up getting a very nice treble sound but with more umph with the mids switch down. Okay…………… 

3) Now to tune the amp. So, long story short, increased the master volume and lower the gain on the amp. Nice. Then increase bass, mids, and presence on the amp by just a bit, and increase treble by a lot. 

4) So this works with the strat very well, but the Les Paul still sounds gross. So, resisiting the urge to re-tune the amp, I roll off a bit on the tone control on the bridge pickup of the Les Paul, and wow. A Much less barky sound. Sweeter, even with the treble still up on the amp. Sounds like a more trebly neck pickup now, which is the sound I look for. However, I may still be on a strat kick for a while.

5) So, without the volume pedal, the signal chain should be pretty pure, but it is still running through five pedals most of the time. So, I ordered a VHT Valvulator to test as a first-in-the-chain buffer, and an HBE Dos Mos to test as a last-in-the-chain buffer/preamp. Now buffers/clean boosts are things that I used to run exclusively. I used to love them, but got rid of them in my attempt to go to a more classic sound. But it might be time to bring them back…..at least to test. Both Jason and Aaron had an HBE Uno Mos at the ends of their chains, and I was very impressed by the tone. So, I figured I’d give that one a try. Found a Dos Mos on e-bay (which is the same, with an extra circuit) that someone was selling for cheaper than the Uno Mos new, so I figured I’d give it a try. 

The Finale

pedal_boardyikessmall.jpg
(Again, not ours…..but close again….and that’s also the best board I’ve ever seen)

And that’s about it. Overall a fantastic night! And I’ll keep posting about my own rig changes, and if new guitars and a new amp head are in order. To everyone who came, thank you so much again, for your love for worshiping the Lord through music and for your humility and cool rigs!

Cheers,
Karl

Guitar for Worship Workshop Tonight at 7

Just a quick reminder about the guitar workshop tonight. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s rigs. All the details and directions are just a few posts down, so scroll down to view those if this is the first you have heard about this. It’s tonight, and it starts at 7….but I’ll be there at 6:30 if anyone wants to come early and set their rigs up. Most people will have plenty of time to set up by arriving just ten minutes early. I don’t think anyone’s running stereo rigs with multiple pedalboards, but, just in case….you never know!

And it’s a proven fact (not really, but it sounds better when I say that) that posts with pictures get more views. So, here’s a little picture to brighten your day a bit. When you first look at it, you’re gonna be like, ‘This is stupid.’ But wait. Just keep looking. You’ll start to chuckle. 

roadside-gun-show.jpg

Hope to see you all tonight!

Splendid.
Karl.

History of the Delay (well, at least for me)

Well, as per request, I am going to attempt right now to make a list of all the delay pedals I have owned, and why I no longer own some of them. I’m a bit frightened, as I have never seen all my delay pedals listed consecutively. But hopefully this will serve as a quick list of opinions on these pedals for anyone trying to decide which delay to buy. And a * next to a pedal name, means that I still own that exact pedal. So, here it goes!

Delays.jpg

(These are not my delay pedals. But I sometimes feel almost as sick as this person. If I had the money, I’m sure my closet would look like this. Mmmm…..happiness.)

1. Crate GFX guitar amp.

–Ya, I know, I know! Not a delay pedal. But here’s the deal: up until I got this amp, I thought that effects were cheating. That you should be able to sound good with just your hands without using any other musical tools. Of course, I hadn’t quite thought through the fact that even a guitar is a tool, and if you want to be technical about using only your own body, then only the voice is considered a real instrument. But my maturity level had not gone that far yet. So, anyway, when I got this amp, one day I accidentally bumped the reverb/delay knob to the ‘guitar solo’ setting. Oh, and even today I remember the tears that fell from my eyes as those notes were delayed. I could probably only play three notes consecutively at the time, but they were delayed!!!! Loveliness.

2. Boss GT-6 multi-effects pedal

–I know, I know! Still not a delay pedal!! But this is where my journey of ultimate tone was taking me. (Oh, those were the days…..when I paid for a pedal with 100 effects what I now pay for a pedal with one effect. *Sigh*) So, after hearing the glories of delay from the Crate amp, I now needed to take it to the next level. Now, my ear for tone was pretty bad back then, but I do remember thinking the delayed sounds were fairly good. Very digital, if I remember correctly, but not as sterile as you would think. hehe I also remember setting the delay to dotted eighths because I read that that was what Edge from U2 did. Then I thought my GT-6 was broken, because the delay came out at a different tempo than what I tapped in. Yep. I really did….and I think I even posted bad reviews online of how the delay did not work on GT-6′s. Wow, honesty hurts.

3. Arion SAD-1 analog delay (vintage)

–First actual stompbox delay!!! Vintage 3 knob style analog delay from the ’80′s. Got it at Guitar Center Ontario for fairly cheap in their used case. I still have fond memories of this pedal. Sounded fantastic (I still have one on my board), but I sold it to a friend because he needed a delay. Aren’t I nice? Well, and I also needed a Memory Lane. So….ya, not that nice. :-)

4. Arion SAD-1 analog delay (vintage)*

–Ya, I have problems with moderation. When I hate something, I hate it 100%. When I start to like something, watch out because I smother it. And then when I can’t smother it enough, I buy another one. There’s not much middle ground with me. So, after hearing the Arion SAD-1, I was like, ‘Wow, it sounds so good when I click my delay on. Wait…… what if I had delay on all the time??!! (Remember what I said about problems with moderation? Yep.) So I went two days without eating on a roadtrip (I’m being serious), so that in my mind I saved enough money by not eating so that I could spend the money I saved on another Arion SAD-1, but this one would be at a low setting to keep on all the time. (Isn’t it great the things we can tell ourselves in our minds?) I stopped at Future Music (again, RIP) in Hollywood on the way back from the roadtrip, and picked it up for 60 bucks. And actually, I still have this one, although I use it sparingly now for ambient sounds. Now you’re thinking, ‘Thank goodness. He grew out of the mindset of having delay always on.’ Ya………..nope. I moved this pedal to an ambient place in my rig, and bought a second Memory Lane to be on all the time. Ya, so………still delay on all the time, and still no moderation.

5. DOD 680 analog delay (vintage) (the big blue box one)

–So, at one time, I was running the second out of my always on Arion SAD-1 delay into a whole ‘nother board of effects and into another amp. I had all delays and phasers on this second board, and they were all set to extremely wet settings. And then the amp was set low. In this way, I had some ambient, washy, watery sounds underneath everything I played. I still think it was a good idea, I just didn’t know how to do it properly at the time. If I ever played somewhere professionally, I’d probably do it again, but using a little thing we like to call ‘the correct way’. At the time, I stopped doing this because I realized that I didn’t have the money to buy the right effects and switching systems to make it sound proper, and also because the sound techs had no clue what to do with this ‘second rig.’ So, the DOD 680 was one of three analog delays in the wet rig. Still quite possibly one of the best delays I’ve heard….if I rememeber correctly, it seemd to color the sound in a really, really nice way. Completely organic. I sold it when I realized that by selling all the pedals on this second board, I could afford to buy a delay with a dotted eighth setting, which was way more important at that time than a second rig that was always muted in the house because the sound techs didn’t know what to do with it.

6. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man (vintage) 

–The second delay on that ambient board. Sounded good….Memory Man’s are good pedals. Had a bit of a problem filtering out the high artifacts, though. I think the chips might have been dying. Sold it for the same reason as above (getting rid of the ambient board for a U2-style delay).

7. Omnifex analog delay (vintage?)

–Yep. Bet you’ve never heard of this one. Some Japanese clone from the ’80′s Actually sounded pretty good. Did color the sound a bit. The third and final analog delay on my now defunct wet board. (Ya….you thought I was kidding around when I said I loved delay. At one time I think I had 8 delays in my rig, all on at once. Scary. And didn’t sound so good either….although at the time, I thought it sounded great. Hmm.) Sold it with the above two pedals to get my dotted eighth/U2-style delay.

8. Arion SAD-1 (vintage, grey box version)

–I know, I know, I know! You don’t have to say it. I have issues with moderation. And yes, at one time, I had three of these on my board at one time. The grey box versions of these are pretty spectacular, though. They maintain the warmth, but have a bit more high end sparkle than the black boxes. I used it for crisper delays back when I still thought digitial was the devil. Sold it to add even more dollars to getting a dotted eighth style delay.

9. Morley Emerald Echo

–Bought it on a whim out of the used case at Guitar Center San Marcos. (It was green, and I needed more green on my board at the time. Pathetic, I know.) Brought it to a friend’s house and we tried it out. Distorted the repeats. Put it on e-bay the same day.

10. DOD FX90 analog delay (’90′s)

–At the time, these were being talked up on gearpage. (If you post on gearpage, you know that pedals go through flavor-of-the-month fads over there routinely.) Got it thrown in on a deal for other pedals from some guy in Mission Viejo, tried it, and was thoroughly unimpressed. On e-bay within a couple days.

11. Diamond Memory Lane

–Ah, the leap into boutique pedals. I remember it with joy……..and the sudden absence of any extra money. I bought this one at Analogue Haven in Pomona. I paid full price. Ya, I couldn’t wait two weeks until they were being sold on gearpage for used price. It was like Christmas as kid. I mean, analog delay but with tap tempo! The first one ever! Seriously, if you were a kid, and Christmas was two weeks away, but someone told you that if you drove to Pomona, it was already Christmas, can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t go to Pomona for early Christmas? Ya, that’s what I thought. I still adore this pedal. I have yet to find a delay pedal that sounds as lush, organic, and dynamic. Although I did end up selling this particular one to pay for another Memory Lane, but one with the dotted eighth mod. 

12. Diamond Memory Lane*

–Yep. Not a typo. I had to buy another one for the ‘always on’ delay sound. Still have it. It’s on 95% of the time. Mmmm……delay. It’s still on the board, and almost always on at a low setting.

13. T-Rex Replica

–Sold, like, 4 of the above-mentioned vintage analog delay pedals to get this one because it was digital/analog hybrid and had the dotted eighth switch so you could tap in quarter notes, but get U2-style dotted eighth delays out of it. One of my favorite pedals for a good long time. Best sounding digital delay I had heard until I heard the Damage Control Timeline. And still, I think there are a couple sounds this pedal can do that even the Timeline can’t do. Maybe. This pedal actually ended up breaking, so I shipped it back to its original country of Denmark for repair. It was beyond repair, so T-Rex sent me another one:

14. T-Rex Replica

–The replacement one T-Rex sent to me to replace my broken one. They did it for free, too. Pretty cool company. Ended up selling it to get a Damage Control Timeline.

15. T-Rex Replica

–Bought it to play while mine was being sent to Denmark for a replacement one. Ya, I can’t live without delay. Sold it as soon as my new one came in. Pitiful……yes.

16. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man* 

–Actually, I bought this one for the chorus setting. I’m totally in the minority, but I have yet to find a chorus I like better than the chorus setting on this delay pedal. So over-the-top, spacious, and Cure-sounding. Bought it from some guy in the deep bowels of LA. I still ahve no idea what town that was. Still own the pedal.

17. Ibanez AD99 analog delay

–Got it in a trade with a friend. Not a bad delay. Colored the sound a bit…had to run off it’s own a adapter…and very large for being a 3 knob/300ms delay. Sold it on e-bay after a week or so.

18. Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man (vintage)

–Bought it on e-bay because it was broken. I have no idea how to fix a delay pedal. Yet when I see them for cheap because they are broken, I somehow convince myself that I can fix it. I don’t know how I can fix it…..magic, maybe. But I convince myself and buy the pedal……and then the pedal comes in and I open it up and go, ‘Wait. I have no idea how to fix this.’ But I ended up selling it as a broken pedal for a lot more than I paid for it. Probably some other guy thinking he’ll magically be able to fix it.

19. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man (vintage)*

–Same story as above. Bought it broken. Thought I could fix it or sell it. But what the e-bay seller forgot to mention was that by ‘broken’ he actually meant ‘I have the metal housing and a couple of knobs and chips from what was once a Memory Man.’ The pieces are still in my closet. And he did not get good e-bay feedback from me. That showed him. Ya……..probably not.

20. Diamond Memory Lane (custom with dotted eighth switch)

–So, I sold one of my Memory Lanes in order to buy this other Diamond Memory Lane that had a dotted eighth switch custom modded into it. A friend of mine custom ordered this pedal from Diamond. Still sounded great, but the dotted eighth setting didn’t really sound right in a pedal this warm and ambient. At least for me. For me, the dotted eighth setting works the best with clearer delays, and I don’t have the Memory Lane’s on my board for clear delays. So, I ended up selling this one. It took a while for me to want to sell it, because it was also in a custom blue color. And that was pretty. Plus, everyone knew I had a ‘special modded custom’ Memory Lane on my board. And that was fun. (Lame, I know.) But I ended up selling it, then buying another regular Memory Lane to replace it, and using the extra 100 dollar difference to pay for food that month, I think.

21. Diamond Memory Lane*

–The one I bought after selling the modded one. Bought it from some kid in Anaheim. Still have it. Beautiful sounding pedal. 

22. Boss DD20

–There was a time when I was leading worship for the main service, and then during the message I’d go down and lead for the youth group. So, I put together a smaller, less expensive youth group rig. For the money, the DD20 sounds good and has a ton of features. But I just seriously could not get into its digtal flavor of delay. I ended up selling it, and just toting my T-Rex back and forth from main service to youth group. The things we do for tone. 

23. T-Rex Replica

–So, my T-Rex Replica broke again. Sent it back to Denmark for replacement. So, I found, of all things, this one at Guitar Center in Hollywood. Will wonders never cease. Bought it to play while mine was getting repaired. Sold it when mine returned. 

24. Eventide Timefactor

–I was very intrigued by all the things this pedal could do, and by how good the clips online sounded. The T-Rex Replica was great, but I’d always been looking for something that sounded like the Replica, but with more functionality. I totally thought this pedal was it, and played it for about two weeks, before I realized that my recent dissatisfaction with my tone was because of this pedal. It changes your analog dry signal to digital, then back to analog again, which in my rig, completely took out tone and dynamics. The delays sounded great, but my dry signal was just so lacking. Sold it.

25. Boss DD20*

–I totally did not get into this pedal for guitar, although it is industry standard and it’s not terrible by any means. But for keyboards, that digital thing was great! So I bought this off of a friend to use in my keyboard rig, and for any guitarist at the church to borrow.

26. Eventide Timefactor

–Saw someone selling it for stupid cheap. So I bought it and then sold it for more money. Hey, times are tough! :-)

27. Damage Control Timeline*

–Best sounding digital delay I have heard. Can do a ton of things, and you can hook a midi pedal to it and have access to 128 patches. Finally, after three years, I found the pedal that had the sound quality of the T-Rex Replica, but with a ton more functionality. And it possibly, possibly sounds just a tad better than the Replica. I’ll do a full review of this pedal soon. And, of course, as opposed to the Timefactor, it keeps your dry signal untouched and analog.

I’m sure there’s more, but I just can’t remember. I’m tired now. And if you just made it all the way to here, you should be tired, too. 

Delay.

Cheers,
Karl

Guitar Workshop Update

Hey guys and gals,

    Alright, the Guitar Workshop is now for sure at the church. So it’ll be this coming Monday, the 7th, at 7 PM at Life Church. We’ll set our rigs up on the stage, I’ll talk through my rig and about worship instruments and worship mindsets in general, and if you’re really experienced, you can just tune out for that part of it. :-) Then if anyone else wants to do the same with their rig, they are welcome to. Then we’ll do questions and answers, and help each other with our rigs; or if enough people come, this could be a kind of mini gear trade show. I’m stoked to learn from you guys. And if you don’t have a full rig yet, or have ‘too full’ of a rig and don’t feel like lugging it, no worries. :-) But if you want to bring your rig, then cool. Here’s the addy:

Life Church
38388 Sky Canyon Dr.
Murrieta, CA 92563

churchsmall.jpg

(This is Life Church. Photo compliments of Kevin McIntosh. Note that we don’t put the words up for our congregation. Yep. You learn the words, son. No help from us. I’m kidding, of course. We try to do a really good job with the words so people can worship easier. This must be during an instrumental break or something….chimes solo….not really.)

If you are coming from Murrieta,

East on Murrieta Hot Springs
Left on Winchester
Right on Technology (first light…don’t go to French Valley)
Left on Sky Canyon
–After you’re on Sky Canyon, it’s the first right you can make into the building complex. You’ll see a cell phone/electrical station on your left after you turn in. But look up and a little further on your left side and you’ll see the big Life Church sign on the one building on the left.

If you are coming from Temecula,

East on Winchester (towards French Valley)
Right on Technology (first light after Murrieta Hot Springs…don’t go to French Valley)
Left on Sky Canyon
–After you’re on Sky Canyon, it’s the first right you can make into the building complex. You’ll see a cell phone/electrical station on your left after you turn in. But look up and a little further on your left side and you’ll see the big Life Church sign on the one building on the left.

If you are coming from French Valley,

South on Winchester (towards Temecula)
Left on Technology (last light before Murrieta Hot Springs…don’t go to Temecula)
Left on Sky Canyon
–After you’re on Sky Canyon, it’s the first right you can make into the building complex. You’ll see a cell phone/electrical station on your left after you turn in. But look up and a little further on your left side and you’ll see the big Life Church sign on the one building on the left.

If you are coming from East Murrieta (Pourroy area)

West on Murrieta Hot Springs (towards Murrieta)
Left on Winchester
Right on Technology (first light…don’t go to French Valley)
Left on Sky Canyon
–After you’re on Sky Canyon, it’s the first right you can make into the building complex. You’ll see a cell phone/electrical station on your left after you turn in. But look up and a little further on your left side and you’ll see the big Life Church sign on the one building on the left.

Well, once again, I am really looking forward to this. I hope to see you all there!

anchormanhappysmall.jpg

(Channel 4 Evening News Team is looking forward to this, too.)

Cheers,
Karl

Arion SAD-1 and the Untold Magic of Delay Pedals

There is a youtube clip that features Kevin from the KROQ Kevin and Bean Show doing something stupid (ya know). And in the middle of that clip, as he is walking down a hallway, he says simply, “I love fire, Ralph.” 

Well, I love delay. (Hmmm….that lead-in didn’t quite work, huh. Oh well. I’m keeping it.) I love delay so much. I think, if I had to, I would sell my amps and guitars before my delay pedals. Then I would just sit my lone pedalboard of delay pedals on stage, close my eyes, and listen to the sweet, lush tone that would be coming out of them if only I had a guitar and an amp. Mmmm……delay.

So, needless to say, I have a few delay pedals. And I’ve bought and sold quite a few more (from what I can remember, I’ve owned 23 delays over the years…..which isn’t much compared to some people, amazingly enough). It pains me to sell them, but I have to let my rig pay for my rig, if you know what I mean. If a certain pedal isn’t doing it for me, I can’t afford to keep it in my closet (or with delays, an airtight display case with loud alarms); I have to sell them to buy new ones. I hate that I have to do that. It’s like selling off your children in order to buy………more children, I guess. Better children!

But amongst all the children (just a warning: from here on out I might refer to all my delay pedals as children) that I have bought and sold, one has been on my board for three years and I just can never seem to sell it. It’s my trusty Arion SAD-1.

ArionSAD-1.jpg

(Note: it is almost impossible to find one in this good of condition. My current one is way more beat up than this one. I sold this one because, well, if you own an Arion pedal, it kind of has to be beat up to keep its mojo, you know? This one was way too clean for me.)

Every time I try to sell my current SAD-1, it puts up a protest by making some sound that none of my huge, expensive boutique delays can make. It’s a simple, 3 knob, 300 millisecond analog delay from the ’80′s. The upsides:

–Incredibly clear original dry signal.
–Incredibly clear delays…most delays of this nature sound warm by dirtying the repeats. But with this pedal, it seems to actually maintain their clarity and smear the delays depending on the dynamics of your playing.
–In this way, I can actually use it as a washy, watery chorus sound at the end of other effects. 
–With the mix down and repeats up, it can also give a wonderful reverb in the back of your playing.
–Doesn’t color your tone.
–Great slapback delay.
–Great reverb delay.
–Great solo delay.
–Great ambient delay.
–Great ‘little something extra’ delay.

The downsides:

–Arion built these with leftover playskool plastic. One time a strong wind blew during an outside gig, and the pedal almost disintegrated. I keep mine in a bypass loop so I never have to step on it.
–If you don’t use a true bypass loop, it will suck tone when disengaged.

So, overall, if you’re careful with it, an incredible pedal. Obviously, it’s limited with its short delay time and no tap tempo, but that is the nature of this type of delay. It’s an ambient effect on purpose. And they are relatively cheap if you look in the right places. I have owned three over the years:

The first: found it in the back of the used case at Guitar Center in Ontario. 40 bucks. Killer deal. The sales kid said he wasn’t sure the overdrive sounds worked in it. I plugged it in, and he was like, ‘Oh, it’s like a phaser or something!’ Good times. I bought it for 40.

The second: the one currently on my board. No battery cover, the battery wires are taped up instead of soldered, unmatching replacement knobs, and the 9 volt adapter jack does not work. Looks bad. But it sounds fantastic. I got this one in Hollywood’s Guitar Ghetto, in the now defunct Future Music (RIP). Awesome store for rare vintage stuff. I miss them. Got it for 60.

The third: a grey box version in (incredibly) great condition. It’s the one pictured above. Bought it on e-bay for $100, and sold it for $110 on said e-bay. Put the $10 towards renting Tombstone, I think, and towards replacing that delay with a T-Rex Replica delay (or, child). Ya, the $10 didn’t go too far.
 
So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive analog delay for ambient sounds, slapback, reverb, solos, or even chorusy stuff, keep your eyes open for one of these. If you look hard, you can get them for fairly cheap. Add it to your children collection.

Splendid.
Karl.