Tone Tip #243

I thought my tone could probably be a little bit woodier and a little bit washier, so I bought these:

And I know, that looks like a picture I just pulled off the internet to use as a cheesey punchline. Except that it’s true. I did buy those, and I can’t look you straight in the eye and say that it wasn’t because of the wood-paneling and the indie wave.

I also plugged it in, watched it light up, and took a picture of it……before plugging my guitar into it. But seriously…how can that not sound good? Oh, and the tap tempo pedal has a little blue led that lights up every time you tap a tempo. :D Not trying to contain my joy even a little.

Splendid.
Karl.

Does it Still Pump Your Heart?

There is nothing like cranking your amp, hitting it with a germanium fuzz, and throwing some delay on for good measure. I did this a couple nights ago, and my blood literally started to rush through my body. Like, real adrenaline. If it’s not still pumping your heart, then there’s something wrong.

Of course, once service started, I had to turn back down. But there’s something therapeutic about soundwaves beating your heart for you, for even just a few seconds. And I’ve needed that this week. I apologize, as this is the longest I’ve ever been away from the blog. I literally have not had time to even check back in here. I don’t think I’ve ever asked for this publicly, but if you happen to remember throughout the day, if you could throw up a prayer for me, I wouldn’t be against it. ;) My sincerest apologies for not being around, but I hope to be back pumping my heart with tone, and your ears with U2 and delay propaganda, very soon.

Thanks.
Karl.

And because you just can’t not smile when you hear this song (and yes, Tony Levin is wearing knee pads…as he skips):

hehe You’re smiling right now. I know. Can’t help it. Even here:

Confusion

Something has gone wrong.

And my lack of computer skills is not necessarily an asset in this particular situation.

Okay, okay. In any situation.

Do I say ‘Splendid’? This isn’t really a post.
Karl.

EDIT: Whoa! I actually fixed it! My computer theory still holds true: click random things until it gets better. 60% of the time, it works every time.

R&B?!

I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but I played for an R&B artist the other night. And I gotta say, I have a huge, newfound respect for that style of music. Not so much melodically in what I played, but in order for the vocals to come through right, you’ve got to be very, very tight rhythmically. I’m not so sure I was, but it definitely triggered in my mind how sometimes rhythm can actually be more important and more difficult to play than lead playing. Secondly, you’ve got to sit way back in the mix…just adding texture; but you don’t want to be too ambient, because then you start to lack rhythmically. So good chords voicings, tight rhythm, and strats help with this. Overall, a lot was learned, I was stretched, and it’s probably the first time ever that my pedalboard has seen six songs in succession without the benefit of a delay pedal. Also, I now like a Beyonce song. Please be gentle.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Anybody want a Varidrive? ;)

Sad, isn’t it.

A Sort of Homecoming

Welcome home, my sweet Varidrive! I know I said I didn’t care, but I do! I care so much.

Please, for the love of everything that’s good in this world, remember that you’re a guitarist. That means you’re never done with a pedal until you’ve bought it back at least 3 times. I sold my SIB Varidrive black version with gain switch last year, in a failed attempt to do away with overdrive pedals. (There’s been a lot of those.) And I am just now getting it back, after a year of searching. It doesn’t help that this dominionator (yes, that’s exactly what I meant to type) of all solo pedals, that wouldn’t sell used for $100 two years ago, suddenly shot up to around $300 the day after I sold it for $175. This will always happen too. It’s part of the perils of being a guitarist. But if those perils weren’t so painful, the joys would not be so devouringly sweet. What is ‘devouringly sweet’ joy? It’s quite simple. Hitting a two note rhythmic solo on a SIB Varidrive black version with gain switch and a modded ECC81 tube. (Gotta say ‘modded’…sounds way cooler.)

Who’s ready for the first day of the rest of their lives?

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. I know I just posted this video like, last week, but such is the devourocity (again, yes) of my joy. You’re gonna have to deal with it. (Which means…well…just not clicking on that little sideways arrow in the middle of the video. Means play.)

Skreddy Echo

And while we’re posting random nonsense…

Even though I have absolutely no use for a slapback delay right now, I’ve almost bought the Skreddy Echo like, 6 times just because it has the words ‘Skreddy’ and ‘Echo’ in it.

Splendid.
Karl.

The Best Compliment I’ve Ever Gotten

Seeing as the last post seemed to be a giant (I’m making explosion gestures with my hands and mouth right now) on many different levels, I figured a new post was in order. So here ya go. Someone came up to me after an acoustic set and said I sounded like John Mayer………just…not as good.

I have no idea whether this is a compliment, or a really horrible insult. I suspect the horrible one. :)

Splendid.
Karl.

ZVex Ooh Wah Demo…kind of

(EDIT: I received some feedback from people, wanting to know why it looked like I wanted to hurt them in the demo video. I apologize. I have one of those faces where, if I don’t make it a point to smile, I look very angry. Top that with this being recorded post-Easter week, meaning tired, unshaven, and a little crazy, and yes…when I re-watched the video, it did make it look disturbingly like I wanted to hurt you. So there is now an edited version of the video, focusing more on the much more important guitar, and less on me inadvertently using my ‘angry face.’ And as a bonus, now it looks more like a movie! :) )

I’ve been sitting on this Ooh Wah for a while now. See, this is one of those pedals that sounds really cool in the shop or on online demos; and then you stick it on your board to play it out live, and it’s like, ‘Wait…what do I do with it?’ So I was confident that after a couple weeks of alone time with it (yep), I would emerge with victorious new ways in which to use this effect. Ya…uh, no. I emerged victorious in only elevating my opinion of myself as a sucky and unoriginal musician. That’s the ironic thing about trying to emerge victorious. It doesn’t…well…work.

The Ooh Wah is 8 auto wah’s in one, and the pedal sequences through them in different patterns over which you can choose to control, or choose to have play at random. So the sound, no matter how you splice it, is a step filter. Which is a really rad sound…for like, one half verse of one song…in one set…once every two months. For those of you who haven’t heard a step filter, it’s like a filter pedal combined with a hard trem. So it breaks up your sustain into computer sounds that go in and out at different intervals. Again, very cool; but use it more than once in a set, and you’re gonna start to get glares. Just one of those odd effects that when you use it once, everyone pats you on the back for your innovation; so you try to use it again, and you’ll get immediately railed for your overuse of effects. And they wouldn’t be wrong, either. ;)

And the ZVex is really good at what it does. I’ve tried a few other step filters, including the Moog, some Line 6 stuff, Copilot FX…and the ZVex is by far the warmest, and sits in the mix the best. So well, that you can even use it as a regular auto-wah…but you have to really think while you play it, and be careful not to let the sequencing sound come through. Which makes it kind of like, ‘Then why wouldn’t I just get ZVex’s actual wah?’ And you would be correct in thinking that. So I thought that if this pedal rocks at step filters, then that’s the demo I’ll do of it. But then I realized that that demo would be of me hitting a G chord, and then turning the pedal on to step filter it. And I don’t care how awkward I am on camera, even that wouldn’t have kept a G chord demo from boring your mind off.

So in the end, I guess I just ended up watching Brazil and Blade Runner, and thinking about the end of the world (as the ’80′s would have it), and then recording the only other valid and workable live use of the Ooh Wah that I was able to find. And that is to stick it behind delays and trem, and then use finger dynamics to play it in a way that colors all the other effects. And apologies that you have to see me in this video. I try really hard to keep that from happening, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests to show some of the chord voicings I’m using in these demo’s, rather than just the blinking lights of my pedalboard. I much prefer the blinking lights, and in fact spend far more hours per day staring at my pedalboard than I do staring at the mirror (hmm), but this is the only way to show chord voicings. And you’ll want to listen with something other than laptop speakers (just anything with some bass, really) in order to hear how the Ooh Wah works, as this piece hinges upon a subtle bassline underneath the sound of the Ooh Wah behind the effects:

And there ya go. The only other use besides step filter sounds, that I have found for the Ooh Wah. Incredible step filter, and when played consciously, can be used for regular auto wah sounds and, as in this case, for a color under your ambient effects. And for those interested, the signal chain here was my normal Prairiewood into the Matchless HC30, and effects were Ooh Wah–>Dr. Scientist Tremolessence–>Damage Control Timeline (swell settings)–>Diamond Memory Lane–>Damage Control Timeline (low mix infinite reverse settings)–>Arion SAD-1. And a couple quick notes on the Ooh Wah. One, there are two versions. Version 1 starts at random points in the sequence when you turn it on. Version 2 holds at the first step of the sequence in bypass mode. Personally, I prefer version 1. And secondly, it does not have an adapter jack, so it needs to be powered by a battery or a ZVex power plate, which unfortunately costs a good $30 on top of an already kind of expensive one-or-two-trick-pony pedal. But the batteries do last quite a while in this thing, and it is handpainted of course, so that more than makes up for it. So sad that I’m serious right now.

Oh, and each new actual piece or composition will be posted in the Music section above with a link to my Soundclick site, not necessarily as a new post here, as that will again, probably start to bore everyone. They’ll only be posted here in cases such as this…when I’m not original enough to think of any other way to demonstrate an effect. But come on…when they’re handpainted like that, and have 8 led’s (absolute score of ever right there), you’ve just gotta find an excuse to keep them on your board. Once again, all tone is reduced to cool blinking lights. And that would not be wrong.

Splendid.
Karl.

Tone Showdown: Altoids Vs. Cigars

Oh, absolutely.

The Players

–Lumsden Custom Altoids Amp through a RAWoods pine 1×12 with Weber 12A150b.

–Cigar Box Amp with Isolated Power that I impulse bought on ebay for 10 bucks.

The Base Tone

My Prairiewood

Possible Tonal Biases

The Lumsden Altoids Amp was being played through a much better speaker.

Possible Personal Biases

I wasn’t really listening…this was just fun.

The Showdown:

Conclusions

Lumsden Altoids all the way. This guy is actually a genius, and a good friend. (I try to make friends with all geniuses I come in contact with. Good life rule.) You can check out his blog here: A Passionate Apathy. The cigar box was cool; but mostly because it brought back fond memories of hacking out Ghoti Hook songs on my Crate GFX-15. Rock.

But in all seriousness, it is dead surprising how loud and how decent that little altoids box sounds. And it powers the 1×12 no problem. Oh, and by far the most fun I’ve had doing a shootout…maybe ever.

Splendid.
Karl.