I'm Such a Rockstar

Don’t worry. After you read the post, you’ll hear the sarcasm in the title. All in the span of one weekend, I managed to:

  • Forget what an E chord was.
  • Have one of my ultra-cool stellar-hip indie low rise boot cut pant cuffs (ya, they’re bell-bottoms) hit one of my midi switches as I turned an overdrive switch on, setting one of my Timelines from ‘Dotted Eighth Mix’ to ‘Medium Swell’. And then I wondered why the drummer couldn’t keep tempo. I realized my error. But not immediately. It took me an…uh…unfortunate amount of time to figure out.
  • Pull lights up in the middle of a video. I have no idea why I did it. I just did it.
  • Sing the wrong lyrics in the first verse of ‘Blessed Be Your Name.’ In two separate services. And in one of them, I literally just made random vowel sounds to the tune. It was awkward.
  • Feel self-important.
  • End the big solo on a G. The song was in E. Major.
  • Try to convince myself that the G thing above didn’t actually happen. And it definitely actually did.
  • Totally space while following the pastor on the camera (and if you haven’t noticed, I also run the media at my home church…which means that when I suck at staffing the positions, I have to fill in on them during the message, rather than surfing Gear Page in the tech booth) because I was wondering if someday someone might invent an amp with parallel power sections, one with EL84 tubes and one with KT88 tubes. And then you could choose via footswitch whether you wanted EL84 out of one speaker, and KT88 out of another, or a mix in one, and one in the other, or visa versa, or vice versa from that. Sounds like a biasing and impedance nightmare. But it also sounds like sweet, sweet, tone. I suppose you could just get two amps; but this is beside the point.
  • Flex my musical knowledge by saying into the microphone to the sound tech during practice that the hum he was hearing was due to a reverb tube starting to go bad. Except that I said, ‘Starting to go microphonic.’ Which is wrong. I could have just turned my reverb knob down and said, ‘Sorry. I’ll go without reverb on the pad tonight, and have it fixed by next week.’ But I decided to sound smart. And sounded very dumb. The best part is that I even thought that anyone on the team would have actually been impressed by my knowledge of tubes.
  • Feel self-important some more.
  • Rail into the team for forgetting a break in a song during practice. We start the song over, get to the break, and…yep. I don’t even have to say it. The worst part is that the team probably thought I just wanted a complete solo of myself right there.
  • And lastly, managed to turn my volume knob half way down while doing the ‘Don’t-you-wish-you-were-on-stage-like-me pickup switch’ into the big chorus, and then spent the last half of the song wondering what was wrong with my amp since the volume was half-way down, rather than thinking about worshiping God or the leading of worship.

Ya. I’m definitely a rockstar. Especially on the times that I think I am. Yikes. To quote from a band who shall remain nameless so that I don’t feel stupid about quoting my man-crushes for the probably 879th time on this blog, when I already feel like I’ve probably reached a level of honesty bordering on stupidity in this post……’some days are better than others.’ Ever wonder why God chooses to use us? I’m not complaining; just recognizing that He could definitely do a better job on His own. Kind of humbling (in a really good way) to realize you’re not necessary.

Splendid.
Karl.

Landgraff DO, Mosferatu, & Tim Shootout

Boutique overdrives, man. It gets really, really hard to keep up! A few years back, if you had a Tim or a Zendrive, guitarists would come from miles around just to get a glimpse of them. And you couldn’t even touch them if your hands weren’t deemed toneful enough, because everyone knows that human touch from un-toneful hands kills the tone fairies locked up in the boutique pedal boxes. That’s why they’re painted so pretty…to coax the fairies into them. And then wham! We trap them inside the Malaysian Texas Instruments RC4558 chips with the state of Texas outline on them. I remember when some guitarists I knew first ordered like, the first Tim pedals ever. And they talked about it in hushed tones, and even seemed like they were making me go through an audition before they gave me the Paul Cochrane’s number. (Which by the way, I must have failed, because they never gave me the number. I’m not sure how I could have failed, though. I mean, they weren’t impressed by the 9 analog delays I had all running into each other at the same time? And by my knowledge, that I shared quite openly, that ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ could not be played properly without said 9 analog delays? Ya, I probably wouldn’t have given me the number, either.) But now it’s like, ‘Oh, the Zendrive? Ya, I’ve had a few of those. They sound great, but……don’t the Toneczar pedals cost more?’ The quality of the pedal hasn’t changed, and neither has the price……it’s just that new overdrives have come out that are now even more expensive, and even harder to get. And of course, if there’s one thing we know about boutique pedals, it’s that scarcity equals price, and price equals tone.

So this Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive  is going to sound spectacular. It’s expensive, hard to come by, and is one of the current ‘automatic tone’ pedals. You know, the ones that give an immediate pass to how your tone actually sounds? You’ve got a Landgraff? Your tone must be amazing! These are the types of pedals I rely on. I hear tone by what the internet tells me.

Vince Vaughn
(Sorry, it’s getting harder and harder to find good shootout pictures. I’ve already used Heat, Tombstone, and Hot Fuzz in previous shootout posts. So I figured I’d use Vince Vaughn in Mr. And Mrs. Smith, as the CIA assassin who lives in his mom’s basement. This is one of those movies that I would never be able to look anyone dead in the eye and say, ‘It’s a great movie.’ But yikes, do I enjoy it! Like Tremors.)

But in all seriousness, this Landgraff DO gets incredible reviews, and has some great clips out there. I’ve been wanting to try one for a long time. These are handmade by John Landgraff, who started out by building some great original TS-808 clones. And as far as I know, he only sells his stuff directly through Blue Angel Music. The Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (Landgraff DO or LDO……for some reason, the cool factor on boutique pedals rises exponentially per initial added) is actually quite amazing with the different tones it is capable of. The gain knob is a gain stage knob, which for whatever reason, I tend to like. And then there is volume and tone. But is also has a switch that takes it into this crazy versatility territory. The middle position is just its normal overdrive voicing. But the top position shifts the mids up, and you can really get aggressive Marshall tones. And then the bottom position. Wow. Totally a fuzz pedal. Very, very cool.

Oh ya…and it’s painted like, awesome, so that raises the tone like, 50% right there. When your ears are taken away from you because the internet doesn’t have much info on a pedal, you can always rely on your eyes. John Landgraff is also a Christian, and each pedal comes with a tract. Which is cool. Well, except that they’re the cash-looking tracts. So you open the pedal up, and you’re like ‘Bonus round! A rebate!’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh.’ hehe But you don’t really think you’re getting a rebate with the pedal. And you gotta admire the guy’s heart for making a great pedal, and then doing his best to use his position to try to share an incredible gift. On a side note, though, ever meet with those Christians who give the cash tracts instead of tips? Like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to actually show God’s love to you by being kind and giving you money. I get to bypass that any real financial sacrifice for your benefit, because I’m giving you something better than money.’ Because Jesus definitely said, ‘Suck it up, I’m giving you something better than your physical needs’ when He was preaching and everyone got hungry. ;) No, He gave them free food. I’ve had some friends who have been servers at one time or another, and they all say they used to hate getting the Christian tables or the church groups after church, because none of them would tip. Way to go us. Spreading God’s love need not have any actions accompanying it, as long as you’ve got tracts, t-shirts, and words. And I’m just as bad, as I assume that typing this in a blog probably makes people assume that I’ve got the love thing under control; hence, I am exempt from actually doing it. ;)

But I think Landgraff putting tracts in is cool. Because he’s not having you pay for a $400 pedal, and then sending you a tract instead. hehe He’s saying, ‘Here’s a killer product, and here’s what I believe. Throw it away if you want.’ So, anyway, on to the shootout. Apologies for my long-windedness. But for those of you who still come to this blog, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you’re used to it by now. You either read through it and laugh at my incredibly short attention span (even on things in my own head…which is really odd), or you just skip to the pictures and videos. (Probably the latter.) Oh ya, the shootout!

Landgraff 1
(It is physically impossible for bad sounds to come out of a pedal that looks that good. In the word of Will Ferrell, ‘Beautiful.’ Not sure why it had to be Will Ferrell that said that, but that’s the first thing that popped in my head. And I do have a habit, unfortunately, of typing or saying the first things that pop into my head. Mmmm…Landgraff.)

The Players

–Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (tone fairies and sweet paint job included)

–Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)

–Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)

The Clean Tone

Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>

Matchless Spitfire–>

65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and Celestion G12H-30)

Possible Tonal Biases

–Not too many. They’re all true bypass, running through short cable lengths into each other, and the pedalboard is not in the signal chain in this video.

–I didn’t call Landgraff to see if the DO can be run higher than 9 volts. I probably should have done that. But it seemed to react very well and have enough headroom at its rated 9 volts.

–I’ve had much more time to set the Tim and Mosferatu to my rig.

Possible Personal Biases

–I got the Landgraff in a trade, and I know I have to sell it. It was supposed to double as cash for me. So…I might not want to like it. Or I might want to like it, so I can post here in my blog about how stupid I am when it comes to pedals, and then people will laugh and I’ll get more blog hits and my self esteem will rise as I check my stats. (Wow, this honesty thing should probably stop if I want to maintain any semblance of coolness.)

–Gotta admit that the Landgraff would look really cool on my board. Everyone will say, ‘What’s that pedal?’ And I’ll say, ‘Landgraff.’ And then they will worship my tone without me even having to turn the amp on.

And the Shootout:

The Results

Well, the Landgraff definitely did not disappoint. It is an amazing-sounding pedal. For what it is, absolutely awesome. Warm, full, glassy…and could do low overdrive Tim sounds as well as high gain Mosferatu sounds. And it has this nice treble shelf that makes it sound very crystalline. Extremely nice. Almost like a fuller and warmer OCD. And the versatility in unmatched. To be able to do low gain, high gain, Marshall, and fuzz? Rad. But it does take over your tone a bit. In a really, really good-sounding way, but I tend to prefer more transparent-sounding pedals…ones that let more of my clean tone through. And it had a mid shift that I couldn’t get to come out of the sound.

So I think I’m sticking with the Tim and Mosferatu. They may not be as cool anymore, but I still haven’t found anything I like better. The Mosferatu is the only drive I’ve found that is able to get high gain without changing your clean tone. And the Tim, well…it just completely cuts through thick, full, and cleanly at any gain setting, with any rig. However, in a different time and different place (meaning, if I had more money), I would absolutely be keeping the Landgraff as my glassy leads pedal. I’ve wanted to do that with an OCD for a long time, but could never get over the thinness in that pedal. But the Landgraff DO takes that glassiness and keeps its fullness. However, I can’t get over my lack of funding for it right now. Maybe someday. Which probably means sometime next week.

Splendid.
Karl.

The Power of Music

Okay, well first off, just typing that title makes me start singing, ‘That’s the power of love…da–da–da-da…’ by none other than Huey Lewis and The News. Music is crazy like that. One little thing can trigger it. And there’s a reason we use music in worshiping God……because it’s powerful. It moves people. It can help us to feel emotions we wouldn’t normally feel, and take us to a place where being emotional in front of a person who literally died when we should have, is okay.

And I know you’ve probably all seen these, as they’ve been on the internet for years, but there’s not too many better ways to show the power of music. Ever watch a horror movie on mute? Or turn the sound off on ‘Goonies’ while turning the stereo system to Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’? Ya. I figured not. I’m quite sure this is just me in all my musical nerdiness (and just a side note, when it comes to music, the term ‘nerdiness’ is interchangeable with ‘glory’). But you’ve gotta try it! Go get ‘The Others’ soundtrack, and play it to ‘Anchorman.’ The bears get real scary. I’m so serious. So check these out. (Wow, I sound like a 10-year-old from 1981 when I say phrases like that.)

and then, of course:

You can’t tell me Julie Andrews isn’t really, really frightening in that. And when Peter Gabriel starts in with ‘Climbing up on solsbury hill…’, I honestly think freaky Jack Torrance would be a cool foster dad. (Oh, and by the way, if you’ve never seen these movies and want to know what they’re really about…I’m not endorsing either. Hey, gotta cover my bases. Some people get real offended when Dick Van Dyke pulls his pants down and walks like a penguin (an obvious slight towards homies and their gangs…oh, I’m sorry…I believe they like to be called home-shizzles and their crews, now), and there’s also horse racing, gambling, and calming kids down by giving them pharmaceuticals.)

Anyway, music is powerful. And for some odd reason, God has entrusted us with not only using it to bring Him glory through songs, but to bring Him glory by helping lead and perform it for other people to join in and give Him glory. So it is something to be taken seriously. I mean, one A minor when it should have been a C, and you might be turning ‘How Great’ into sounding like Mary Poppins is coming to take your kids. Ya. That was a horrible closing line. I’m tired. I want Edge. And obviously free-associating. But in all seriousness, let’s use this right.

Splendid.
Karl.

Lightfoot Labs Goatkeeper 2 Tremolo Review & Demo

Alright, since I’m in the middle of moving right now, I’m just going to say:

Goatkeeper trem. Yes.

Absolutely, yes. Digital/analog hybrid deal with analog signal path but digital control of the divisions, beautiful sounds, unparalleled control of the parameters, true bypass, tap tempo, looks like a Memory Lane…

…yes.

Only downside is that it is not a delay. And doesn’t light up like Matchless. Oh, and I’m not sure if Edge uses one. But still…

…yes.

Splendid.
Karl.

Happiness

I’m currently playing a Matchless. And while it is a fantastic amp, I cannot say that it is the best amp I have ever played or ever owned. But it is the amp that has made me happier than I have been in a long time (musically speaking). And I’m reminded that in this lifelong quest for the tone that will bring literal tears to people’s eyes, and that will be most useful in glorifying God, to not forget to stop and listen for what sounds are the ones that seem to carry your soul for you, for just a few seconds. And that piece of gear may not be the same for everyone. There are definitely elements of practice, research, educated listening, testing, playing, and tweaking (musically, folks) to creating a sound for yourself that you love. But we can’t forget the element of happiness. Does it sound incredible? That’s the first test. Now, does it make you happy? I’ve had plenty of rigs that I think sound very good, but they haven’t necessarily made me happy, or been the tone that just grabs my soul. The Matchless does. But just for me personally.

So remember to tune in to happy you are when you play. Even if it’s a tone that you think is great, does it make you happy? And remember that my happiness might not be your happiness. Except for delay. Delay is everyone’s happiness. And Matchless. No wait…that was the whole point of the post. Not Matchless! Wow, that was hard to type. And when you are thoroughly confused about what gear to buy, what to listen for, what if a bad sound makes you happy, is life more than tone or tone more than life (I know my answer), then just listen to this, remember the purpose of music, and regain your happiness (and if you’re in a hurry to cry, skip right to 3:00):

And then of course, it’s back to wondering how you can use your delay pedal to encompass every feeling of Irish longing that song gives you. And it’s highly possible that I’m just talking about myself now.

Splendid.
Karl.

A Landmark

This week I got a pedal in a trade. It was a trade I did not want to make; because I needed the cash, and we all know what happens when I trade for something I plan to sell because I need the cash. Ya, not so much selling happens; or cash. Unless it sounds bad. But this week I heard an amazing pedal. And I now own it. It is the best I have ever heard of its kind. And you know what? I’m going to sell it. A momentous day indeed. So those of you who think I’ve totally jumped off of the cliff……nope. I’m hanging onto the edge for dear life…kind of like little boy Captain Kirk when he leaped out of the car as it was going over the cliff…you know…that one realistic part? (Honestly, the new Star Trek was much better than I expected. It had its ‘oh sweet mercy, please stop talking’ moments, but overall, it was a very decent action flick. Except for Eric Bana. Yikes, he is bad. The whole time I’m going, ‘That alien is a horrible actor.’ And then when I saw the end credits it was like, ‘Ah.’ Anyone else can’t help but laugh when the previews for ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’ come on, you see Eric Bana trying desperately to not suck, and Lifehouse sings, ‘I’m falling apart…’? I just can’t help it.)

So yes, there is hope for me. But that pedal is amazing. Seriously…when Coldplay calls…I’m buying it. And a lot of other stuff. Hey, don’t laugh. Johnny Buckland can’t live forever! Probably shouldn’t say stuff like that.

And feel free to guess the pedal of which this landmark has given homage. (Wow, that sentence didn’t work. Sorry, I’m in the middle of a move, amongst many other things, and due to those things cluttering my head, I fear my posts are making even less sense than usual…like Eric Bana’s acting choices…oh. That just happened.) Suffice to say, I’m not over the edge just yet. (Mmmmm…Edge.)

Eric Bana
(There is no argument that you can possibly make to convince me this isn’t the worst acting performance in history. Well, at least no argument that doesn’t include Orlando Bloom.)

Splendid.
Karl.

Strymon OB.1 Optical Compressor & Clean Boost Review & Demo

Alright, alright, alright. Yes, I hate compressors. Or have hated them. Because if you don’t like a guitarist’s opinion on gear, just wait a few days and ask him again. It will have changed. But this one I’m sticking by. I still do not like compressors. I do not understand spending hours upon hours and dollars upon dollars (mostly this one) getting an open, real-sounding tone, and then compressing the sweet mercy out of it. Luckily, the Strymon OB.1 is not a ‘compressor.’ It’s ‘compression.’ Yes, yes, I know I’m stretching things here, but cut me some slack…I’m trying to come up with a reason for why I like this pedal so much.

strymon ob1

But this makes sense to me! Compression itself is not a bad thing. And by the very nature of tube amps, all tone (see what I just did there? Linking ‘tube amps’ to ‘all tone’ like no other tone exists? Yep……and that is true) has some level of compression to it. And the right amount gives your sound focus and makes it less burly. But a ‘compressor’ per se, just makes me think of every compressor I’ve ever played (on guitar or recording equipment alike) that just splats all the life out of your sound. (I will say that I liked the Emma Transmorgrifier compressor. And the Analogman was very decent, as far as compressors go. But in the end, neither made the cut……the cut being that for me to keep a compressor on my board, it not only has to be a good compressor, but it has to convince me to use compression. This is a tall order…especially for someone like me, who once they have an opinion, really likes for that opinion to be right. I like myself. And that’s bad.) So, I knew that were I to ever use a compressor pedal, it would have to ‘lend compression’, rather than ‘compress.’ And ya, I’m totally aware that I sound like the worst of the worst of the self-affirmed gear wizards who spend more time reading about tone than using tone. Indulge me. Because I hate compressors, and love this compressor. I mean ‘compression.’ ;)

So, I was thinking the other night about compression (and about abominable snowmen, interestingly enough) and how nice it would be to use it push my overdrive pedals into their own respective overdrives, but compressed, for those times when I could really use a more ‘leadish’ sound, or a more ‘EL34-ish’ sound, or a more ‘Hiwatt-ish’ sound, or even…may you forgive me…even a Lin…nope, can’t say it. Or to put a mildness on my clean tone, or even for certain country sounds. (Yes, I know you hate country. And I can say ‘you’ to everyone, because most worship leaders do. But at some point, we’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that if we’re serious about ‘reaching people where they’re at’ like we always say, and being ‘culturally relevant’ like we always say even more (some would say all the blasted time), then we need to stop denying that probably at least 65% of the congregation’s radio stations when they leave the service and go back to their cars, are tuned to a country station.) But I knew that if I were to use a compressor, it would have to be a compression pedal; not a compressor.

Vince Gill
(Yep. This is what most people are listening to. Maybe not Vince Gill per se. But the whole country thing. Which I can dig. Now, he is a very fabulous guitarist. But the best thing about country music? You don’t have to dress like a rock star. Um……obviously. Although those 65 Amps in the background totally overshadow the plaid shorts. Yikes, I’m a girl. EDIT: I just remembered that my wife has told me that it is confusing to her when I refer to myself in this manner. So I’ll just go with ‘metro’.)

Enter the Strymon OB.1. Strymon is a relative newcomer to the boutique scene. They’re a division of Damage Control, and share all the same developers. Now, of course I have a very sincere love affair with the Damage Control pedals; so I figured if there’s going to be a compressor out there I like, it will probably be built by these guys. So I take this pedal out of the box, and I’m scared. Well, first I’m excited, because it’s this awesome indie-looking coffee shop muted gold/orange color, which is going to look great on my board. Priorities. But then the scared part comes in, as I notice that the pedal has no tone knob. Which is usually essential for me in getting the tone of a pedal to match as much as possible to the tone of my rig. So I plug it in. And whoa. I seriously can’t believe it. It doesn’t need a tone knob. It’s just my guitar sound, with compression added. I wish all pedals were built like this. And the compression? Beautiful. Not only that, it has an added boost switch that is switchable from a flat clean boost, to a mids boost, to a treble boost. Optical compression in a pedal, all analog circuit path, very well-built, inside and out. Awesome stuff. So I recorded.

Base Tone

--Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>

&

–Melancon Strat (ash, with Lindy Fralin blues pickups)–>

–True bypass loop box–>
(–>Strymon OB.1 compressor–>
(–>Paul Cochrane Tim overdrive–>(loop engaged when obvious)

–True bypass box–>
(Damage Control Timeline delay–>(loop engaged when obvious)

–Matchless Spitfire–>

–65 Amps cab (birch, Celestion blue and Celestion G12H-30)

Possible Biases

–It is made by Strymon/Damage Control, and I like them. Very much so.

–But I tend to hate compressors.

–It looks so rad!

Interesting Stuff

Please don’t judge me for the U2 part.

And the Video:

So there you have it. A ‘compression’ pedal. Not a compressor. And I’m diggin’ it.

The Good

–Does not change your tone one bit. Wow. Not sure how they accomplished that.

–The compression is so ‘lax.’ I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like a gentle massage of your tone, even at the high settings. Just gently focusing it, rather than squashing it.

–The compression sounds good at all levels.

–Works on just a simple 9 volt adapter, or even a 9 volt battery.

–The boost side makes this pedal extremely versatile. It really can take the place of a few pedals.

–It sounds really, really good.

–And Terry from Strymon jumped on the comments section here (which was pretty cool) and mentioned that when the compression knob is all the way off, the compression is physically out of the circuit. Which is awesome! So you can use this as just a boost if you like. And here’s the thing. I almost mentioned that, because that’s exactly what it sounded like! But then I thought, ‘No, almost no pedals do that.’ Guess I should have trusted my ears. It’s just that they’re wrong so often! ;) But I’m so stoked that this pedal does this.

The Bad

–Not really a bad, but worth mentioning. The boost side is dependent upon the compressor side. So you can’t use the boost without the compressor. At times this is actually an advantage, as you can kick on the boost and compressor with one step; but it’s definitely worth mentioning as I’m sure I’ll get asked this. However, if you just want boost, as I mentioned above, the compression is completely out of the circuit when the compression knob is all the way down. You’d still have to hit the compressor side on to turn on the pedal as a whole, but at that point, just the boost is in the circuit.

–(This is sarcasm…just in case… ;) )If you want to squish your tone into oblivion, this pedal won’t do that. I’m not sure why you’d want to do this, but I hear professional guitarists doing it from time to time; and I can only assume they want to. But no worries; there’s a great Line 6 compressor called the ‘Boa Constrictor’ or some other awesomely 1982 Spinal Tap glam rock name like that, that’ll do the squishing the life out of your tone thing quite nicely if that is what you prefer. I’m gonna go ahead and say no. But that’s just me.

The Verdict

I now have a compressor on my board for the first time in about 6 years. My world has been forever changed. And by ‘world’, I of course mean ‘tone’. I don’t think I should even have to clarify that.

Splendid.
Karl.

Touch & Responsiveness

A couple words I’ve hated on a couple different levels over the years. ‘Touch’, because during the dark Tourniquet-infested days (and if you’re not sure what style of music Tourniquet is, just read their name again), ‘touch’ was used to mean ‘feel’ on guitar. And of course to a neo-drama-metal kid, ‘feel’ is used to describe guitarists who just can’t hack the speed thing. So I hated the word. And then in my next stupid stage, the wanna-be-Mum-feel-is-all-you-need-and-solos-give-me-the-same-feeling-as-the-spandex-that-was-worn-when-they-were-first-played stage (wait…I’m still in that stage), ‘touch’ is just the words used by all the ‘Tone is in the hands’ guys who refuse to buy even a Blues Junior or get decent strings. And ‘responsiveness’, I thought was just a made up word. I mean, it’s a circuit…how can it respond. Then I heard a friend’s ’66 Bandmaster; and then I hated the word ‘responsiveness’ simply because I knew my Crate and Fender PA didn’t have it. Yep. I ran those in stereo. It was beautiful. Except without the beautiful part.

But these two words seem to have more and more meaning in my tonal life (or just, ‘life’) as my journey for tone continues. And they go hand in hand. See, I’m still not into the whole ‘tone is in the hands’ thing. Of course, your sound and tone do originate from your hands, but anyone who ever says the phrase almost always has the unspoken but understood and oh-so-implied tag, ‘…so gear means nothing.’ And I don’t agree with that. Sure, Eric Clapton could sound better than me, even with a 5 watt Fender Frontman, Digitech Bad Monkey, and an out of tune guitar. But sounding ‘better than’ isn’t really the point. The point is to make the best music possible. So with Eric Clapton’s already toneful hands, just imagine how he’d sound through something that responded to them; like say, a ’59 Bassman and a Grosh…that’s in tune. Hands without gear sounds like Itzahk Pearlman playing on a Samash violin. And gear without hands sounds like my youtube videos. ;) You need both. The proper touch, and gear that responds to that touch.

tourniquet_90
(This is Tourniquet. I can’t make fun of them too much, because I still have a bit of a soft spot for them; they were unfortunately a huge part of my coming of age. Explains a lot, I suppose. Very metal. Except for the one on the far left. Looks like what a little girl would wear to visit Disneyland.)

And as I am learning, that is not the same for any two people. I’ve been going through amps (my current gear kick), and I’ve turned down some great ones because of how they interact with me. I was a/b’ing two amps for like, ever, and I finally realized that they both sounded great……just that one responded to my particular touch in a way that simply felt right to me. And to another guitarist, with different touch, the other amp may have been the keeper. And to still another guitarist, maybe neither amp would work. Of course, if you start to go through 25 amps or so, and none are responding to your touch, well…it may be your touch. hehe But just as a Two Rock won’t make you sound like John Mayer, John Mayer might never sound as good as you through your rig (although that’s like, a huge ‘might’ right there). But you have a touch that is all your own. And for some of us, that’s a bad thing, and we need to practice. Because touch can kill an incredible sounding rig. For instance, when I listen back to recordings of myself, I can tell the times I couldn’t hear myself right, or was self-conscious because of no congregation or audience response, or I’m angry because the band is slipping off the click track…lol Because my tone gets bad. My touch is killing it, as I cease to feel and use the guitar as an extension of my body, and start to hack at it. Suddenly the tone that I’m usually able to lie to myself about and believe it sounds like Johnny Buckland but better, now sounds…well…so bad that even someone who loves themselves as much as I do can’t even lie to themselves over anymore. Or like Good Charlotte. Either one. Touch is essential.

But yet that touch doesn’t mean a thing without a rig that responds well to that touch. And one that responds well to my touch, may not respond well to your touch. Delay is an exception. That doesn’t really apply here, but it is true nonetheless. But your tone needs your touch. Why? Because it is responsive. I just threw out old tubes for the first time ever yesterday. There were about 200 of them. I’ve saved them for years because I couldn’t bear to hurt those that had given their very being for the sake of tone. And if you think that’s crazy, try explaining to yourself how something that sounds so beautiful, could have no feelings. Nope. Couldn’t do it, could ya. Tubes have feelings. And yes, I did have a little moment of silence next to the dumpster when I threw them out. And no, I’m not trying to be funny. There was a moment. And there was silence. And I was thinking about tubes. My point is to touch your tone. Practice that touch, and become one with your rig. It will respond to you; it has feelings. And if it doesn’t respond to you, throw it out and get a new one that does.

Splendid.
Karl.

Predictability

If there’s two things in this world that we can count on without fail, it’s that every concert will always have a small interlude during which the band will somehow try to satisfy their inner guilt for charging $150 for tickets by giving props to a cause they usually can’t pronounce the name of and usually know less about than you would think could even be possible, and that worship music will always be arranged the exact same way (unless we get real crazy and repeat a chorus or start with the bridge or some other comparable idea that only emergent churches dare to do). And this video just nails the satire on both those subjects, albeit in more of a British-type humour way. (And of course, this is one of the only instances referring to music in which the word ‘nails’ is allowed to be used. Any time someone says they ‘nail’ that John Mayer tone or Jimi Hendrix solo or George Harrison feel, you can be sure they don’t. ;) ) But here’s the video, and it is lovely. And if you’re looking for the worship song part, it starts at about 4:45:

Splendid.
Karl.