I’ve Got a Reputation to Keep Up Here

So, I was saving this video for a full-on ‘U2 as it pertains to church music’ (but with a much catchier and wittier title…I mean, obviously ;) ), but as I have now seen it on about 17,000 different websites (yep), I figure if I don’t post it here soon, my reputation as a U2 fan might suffer a few points. And I cannot afford to suffer a loss of points in any amount on my U2 fan status, because I am trying to save said points up because whomever has the most U2 fan points by the time the next album is out, receives a hug from Edge. (Obviously I made that up, but now I just can’t seem to help myself from wondering if it’s true. Nope. It’s true. I’ve decided.) Hence, the rad:

Pretty stellar stuff there. Edge sounds resplendent, as always, and it was a good call to use U2′s original keyboard track for it, which I believe is actually Edge on the keys, too. (Could be Brian Eno, but I’d rather it be Edge. So, I’m going with Edge.) Props to Matt Bellamy for doing a great job with the vocals, and staying true to the original melody, but still using his own vocal strengths and not trying to be Bono. Anyone else notice though, that Dominic on the drums had a little bit of trouble keeping tempo in a couple places? Not as easy of a drumbeat as it sounds.

And, as long as we’ve opened this box (I promise, I won’t open it as much I want to…hehe), there is going to be a post pretty soon here recanting my original post on U2′s latest album. Most U2 albums grow on you…this one has actually done the opposite for me. Still some great tracks, but overall…well, some interesting posting that you’ve not yet heard from me is coming soon; on a couple different levels. In the meantime, here is a version of the somewhat unfortunate first single off of that album, that I wish they had come up with in the first place.

Now that sounds like a U2 song! Or at least a Passengers song. Cityscape-ish, innovative, great harmonic structure that makes the melody work way better…only version of the song now, as far as I’m concerned. Can’t do much about the lyrics, unfortunately. Good thing I’ve got like, 10 other U2 albums to keep me happy. They’re allowed to be human every once in a while, right? And we’ve got Viva La Vida to help carry us. Well, at least before Coldplay then gets too big to be cool anymore. Probably too late for most of us ‘hipsters’, huh. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.

Absolute Drivel

Ever have those days where there feels like there’s something burning your insides out that you just gotta say, but you can’t get a coherent grasp on what it is? Ya, that’s today for me. It feels like the very world is going to hinge (it’s not) on what I’m going to say (nope), but I just can’t get it out. So, I figure I’ll just let words randomly come out of my mouth (yes, I’m one of those people whose lips move as they type…and while they play guitar…and not the lyrics, the notes), and hope that one of the streams of consciousness will be it.

  • Ever play a melody on stage, but then listen in horror as your fingers play something totally different than what is in your head?
  • I like to wear scarves because it makes me feel like a musician, but I live in Southern California.
  • There is a bit of a minority backlash currently going on against the delay pedal. I blame Henry Kaiser.
  • I think Google is taking over the world.
  • I was supposed to see U2 on June 6, and then Bono had to go and break his back. Man, that sucks for me.
  • Remember Ghoti Hook?
  • Playing with confidence can literally jump you up over 50% in skill level.
  • Guitar Center gives me actual literal bouts with depression.
  • Musicians should rule the world. (Whoa, that one slipped!)
  • Again, turn up and soften your pick attack. It’s the sound you’ve been hearing in your head.
  • Am I just fooling myself? Great question to ask regularly. ‘Cause we’re really good at it.
  • Do you think anyone, ever, has read the Bible without super-imposing it onto their preconceived worldview? I think it might be humanly impossible not to. Not that that’s a good thing, but I think it’d be better for us to be able to admit it so that we can work in the opposite direction, rather than pretending we have it all figured out and that everyone who disagrees with us is wrong.
  • And if you disagree with that, you’re wrong. ;)
  • I miss the parts of my life I’ve already lived.
  • I need to make more music, and talk about making music less. But the music I talk about making is usually far better than the music I actually make. Yep, I do talk about making some pretty good music.
  • That last one was totally ripped off. But it’s okay to rip things off if no one knows where they came from, right? Like in church, when every riff I do is some variation on U2′s ‘Love is Blindness.’ Ah, blast, just gave it away. Right when you had no idea I liked U2.
  • Although I am wearing a U2 shirt that makes me giddy every time I put it on, because Edge’s face happens to fall right over where my heart beats. For reals. The face part and the giddy part.
  • So…maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, and emotionally fragile today, but I just ran across this song…and immediately I was in junior high again. Music is absolutely crazy that way. This song makes me inexplicably happy:

  • Oh, and because you just can’t go on living your life while this exists and you don’t know it yet:

  • Yep. That was it. That last video. That’s the life-changing thing that has been burning within my body. Quite obviously, really. I mean…I pretty much dare your life not to be changed by that.

    So, I’m gonna go ahead and hit publish on this without re-reading it. I like to live dangerously. Or well, at least salvage some sort of emasculated vicarious danger through my computer. And a couple site changes. One, there is now a ‘Worship’ section up top with some of my views on worship, as I get asked that a lot. Feel free to disagree. :) And there is a World Cup section added, because I am hopelessly wrecked right now by the thrill of that competition. Yes. I have a weakness for soccer. Add to that that the soundtrack for the coverage is all U2 songs, and my world is lost. And no, try as I might, I cannot reconcile ‘World Cup’ having anything to do with ‘guitar’ or ‘worship’. Except that Germany did beat England today, so that’s like a triumph for metal over indie. Yep. I’m trying waaaay too hard with that.

    Splendid.
    Karl.

Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending (Part 3)

You chose ‘C) Take your unused capo out and chuck it at the worship leader to remind him never to play in capo 1 again.’

(This is part 3 of the ‘Choose Your Own Ending Series.’ Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.)

Unfortunately, you’re a musician, which means you don’t use your arm muscles for much else besides sculpting your hobbit-half-beard and pressing rewind countless times on the ‘Where the Light is’ dvd to get the ‘Neon’ fingering right, and with a flick of the wrist like a schoolgirl throwing with her left hand, the capo lands harmlessly at the worship leader’s feet. Never has so much passion and effort produced so little result.

You finish the set, even without the assistance of your capo. You know your bar chords…you’re a real musician. The worship leader ends with a prayer/transition for the media team to get the ‘our church is cool’ video cued up, as you skillfully pick out delay-washed chords underneath his prayer louder and louder until he is forced to stop his own clashing finger-picked chords. (Yours are better anyway.) And in the cover of darkness during the video so that when the lights come back on everyone will go, ‘Whoa! How’d the worship team get off stage?!’, you fall in with the rest of the worship team into the green room, with that almost imperceptible saunter that says, ‘I’m not gonna say anything…but I pretty much just rocked it out there.’

You sit in the green room (you’ve heard this message before), and chat with the worship leader about the shortcomings of his Fulltone Fulldrive, and how your Fulltone OCD (version 3, of course) is clearly superior. You eloquently explain your stance on the matter, and then disinterestedly look around the room while the worship leader voices his opinion on the matter. In between various nods and mumbled affirmations so that he knows you’re still listening, you continue to not listen. The drummer and the bassist talk about the good old days when they were allowed to solo in church, the vocalists confirm your tone by talking to each other about how little they can hear themselves, and some guy you’ve never seen before sits on a chair towards a corner of the room. No, wait…maybe you have seen him before. Something about him being on stage with a weird white and black instrument that he plays with two hands or something? Oh wait…you think maybe you’ve heard it in between songs, but once the song gets started… Suddenly you are broken out of your confused trance and obligatory nods to the worship leader’s words. You’ve heard it. It has happened. The other electric guitarist just told the bass guitarist that solid state amps ‘can have their place.’

You begin to feel the rage swell up inside you. You get up to confront him. The Fulldrive versus OCD can wait. Quickly your eyes scan the room for a suitable place to hide the body should this get out of hand. Just then the pastor walks in while his video illustration plays on the screens. He glances at the team and says, ‘Hey, my friends’, convinced that by awkwardly calling people ‘friends’, they will automatically come to the conclusion that he knows them personally. Pastoral duty now done, he leans down to the worship leader and whispers something in his ear. You see the worship leader’s face go ashen. The pastor stands back up, gives a quick smile to his friends, and gets back on stage just in time to make a killer entrance after the video.

The worship leader has not moved. He just sits there, staring straight ahead as if transfixed by the glowing logo of a Bad Cat amp. You can tell something is wrong. The solid state battle will have to be postponed until next week. As fast as a Steve Vai solo but with much more soul, you are at the worship leader’s side. ‘What’d he say, man?’

The worship leader can barely get the words off his lips. ‘The pastor says that he feels the Spirit moving in the message this morning. He needs…a few more than our revered planning center schedule calls for. And we’ve…’ the words came even more slowly now. ‘…we’ve…been asked…to cut a song.’ The last phrase rings out like a death knell. You can see the worship leader start to get shaky. He’s at a mental, spiritual, and as always tonal, impasse. His pleading eyes look up at you for the answer. (Hey, we can dream, can’t we?) With the cold, hard, and weighty decisiveness of a Mercury Magnetics power transformer, you…

A) Remind the worship leader, that this is in fact a ‘worship service’, which can of course only possibly mean ‘music’, no matter what Isaiah, Amos, and John say, and therefore the pastor is lucky that we even give him time to preach his little sermon at all. Let’s storm out on stage with righteous indignation, and reclaim in victory what is ours!

B) Tell the worship leader that even if he has to cut a song, it’s not to worry; you’ve got a guitar solo specially crafted for this situation and which can be adapted to any song in order to make it longer than what the set would have been before the last song was cut. (You don’t mention the number of times you may or may not have dreamed about this exact scenario.)

C) Yell out, ‘Cut the Lincoln Brewster song! Cut the Lincoln Brewster song!’

D) Get lunch. When pastors, who all have this unwritten blood pact somewhere together that they must go long, actually warn you that they’re going to go long? Well, let’s just say find a place with a sit-down menu. And maybe some live jazz.

E) Encourage the worship leader to stand his ground and go have a Bible-verse-flinging session with the pastor. Always good times for everyone involved.

F) Get all stoked, and rally the team to definitely cut a song. Now you guys have something to lord over his head when you make the ‘church needs to buy us all Taylor’s’ push.

G) Go back to the solid state versus tube conversation. That is clearly much more earth-shattering.

H) Tell the worship leader to do the full set of songs anyway. Ya. The congregation loves those awkward staredowns between the worship leader and the pastor while they’re trying to worship.

I) Say that you’ll go along with cutting a song, but only on the condition that the one remaining song is changed to ‘Beautiful Day’. Yes. It’s a very original idea, too.

J) Pick up right where you left off, and use this lull in the conversation to drive home your point that the OCD is, in fact, better than the Fulldrive.

K) Encourage the worship leader to go ahead and cut a song, and in so doing be the first church leader in history to not think that their individual ministry was the be-all-end-all of every ministry in the church.

And you can’t choose ‘K’.

Splendid.
Karl.

I Knew It! No One Actually Likes Rap…

First off, this actually happened.

I pull into a parking lot, and this car pulls in after me, with two little homie-looking-kids with windows down, blaring none other than B.J. Thomas’ ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.’ In all its ’60′s easy listening gloriousness. No sooner had they stopped the car, then their station immediately changed to some rap song of which the only lyric I can safely repeat is ‘Ya.’ (Pronounced ‘Yee-ah’, of course.)

And I was grateful. Because now I know that every time I pass cars driven by gangsta’s (it sounds decidedly cupcake-ish when I say that) and hear the rap blaring through the sub-woofer that is the whole reason the car is riding low in the first place, that just a few seconds earlier, before they saw my approaching headlights, they were so totally rocking ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.’

It just makes the world a slightly better place.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. I’m in central California right now lending some sometimes on-pitch and often times off-pitch lead guitar to the worship at a youth retreat……and in between sets, sitting here at Starbucks, I feel like I have already been to the entire internet. Twice. Especially after the live World Cup games have ended. (Yes, I know it’s not very popular to like soccer in America. That’s my balance for being like the almost the entirety of American guitarists and using dotted 8th delay.) Anyone know of any guitar shops in the Paso Robles area?

Tune

As in……tune.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Oh, and get a tuner. One that mutes. Don’t turn your back on stage and bend your ear to your guitar all conspicuously to try and tune by ear to prove your musicianship. You are still a musician if you use a muting stage tuner. It is not cheating. It is allowing you to tune silently without turning your back on stage and bending your ear to your guitar all conspicuously.

Actually Playing Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splendid.
Karl.

Frenzel Champ Super Sportster Demo & Sounding Good Without Money (Part 2)

Once again treading those frightening and uncharted waters of sounding good without the luxury of being able to tell yourself that even if you don’t sound good, people will think you do because you just spent $1200 on a brand new original circuit boutique overdrive (i.e. tubescreamer clone). Last time it was the Keith Brawley stratocaster (link to that post here) for around $400. For the next most important piece in the tonal hierarchy, the amp, we’re gonna go with the Frenzel FM-5E1SS Champ Super Sportster. Ya, okay, basically a Fender Champ. But here’s the thing…it’s a handwired, point-to-point, all tube, tube-rectified Champ. To get a Champ like that, you have to go on a serious (and seriously fun) pilgrimage to find like, a 1959 one that’s still in at least working condition, and you’ll be spending right around $1200. This Frenzel here is under $600 right now, brand new. And…it doubles the wattage of the original Champ’s from 5 to 10, has a direct out with line level, has Jim Frenzel’s own mods and upgrades on the Champ circuit, and is self-biasing. Meaning, you can throw in 6L6, 6V6, 6550, EL34, KT88, etc…all without re-biasing. Just plug and play.

So, a good friend of mine and guitarist who posts here every once in a while, Mark Holstein, told me about these amps. And when I saw all the features, but yet with that incredibly low price point…I realized that something has to give somewhere; so they must sound pretty bad. Well, they don’t. They sound, really, really good. And I can’t figure out how the guy is building these for so low a price. And he’s got higher powered ones too, and Vox style ones; lots of different models. Ya, sorry that this is reading like an infomercial for these amps…but seriously…it’ll probably clean your carpets, too. Anyway, on to the demo.

The Amp

Frenzel FM-5E1SS Champ Super Sportster with KT88 tube (Hiwatt, D13 RSA23 sound)–>
–>RAWoods solid pine 1×12 cab with Weber 12A150b (Weber’s take on a Jensen with a bit of Brit thrown in)

Guitars Used

–Prairiewood Les Paul with Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups (you can actually hear the switch going out a little bit in the guitar…why can’t things just last forever…now my weekend is going to be spent soldering…lol)
–Keith Brawley strat

Effects Used

Most of the demo is just guitar plugged straight in to amp. However, I also wanted to show how the amp takes effects. So, as various points, all of the following are used:

–Diamond Memory Lane
–Damage Control Timeline
–Hartman Germanium Fuzz
–Paul Cochrane Tim (12 volts)

Other Amp

I also test it against a Matchless later in the video. Now, price-wise, that’s not very fair; but I was attempting to show that though it does not sound as good as the Matchless, that it’s definitely close enough to cause you to take a second took at it for under $600.

–Matchless HC30–>
–>65 Amps birch cab with a Celestion Blue & G12H30

And the video. I talked an exorbitant amount in this thing, so you can see where I edited out my own asphyxiation with hearing my own voice:

When I first plugged this in, I was incredibly surprised by how good it sounded. I honestly did not expect that. Obviously, not quite as present as the Matchless, but still really pretty good!

The Good

–Self-biasing 6L6 style. That’s rare, and a huge plus. So without having to worry, you can just swap tubes to your heart’s content, hearing all the little nuances. Personally, I love KT88′s. And they make this thing sound not too far off from my old Divided by 13.This amp sounds really, really warm and full…without the usual mud from cheaper amps.

–Presence knob. Yes.

–The two channels, with the ability to jump them.

–The ability to run a direct out if you need it.

–Handwired.

–Great master volume control. No sudden jumps or cuts.

–Incredible price.

–Just an all around great sounding amp for not a ton of money.

The Bad

–The front panel really should be recessed. Those knobs are just out there waiting to be broken off. If I end up keeping this, I may get a custom headcase made.

–They used a red jewel light instead of a blue one.

So now we’ve got a guitar and an amp, with really good tone and build quality, and both can probably be had together for under $1,000. Add to that the RAWoods cab and Weber speaker, which together were under $400. Not bad for a better quality and better tone than almost anything you’ll find at Guitar Center. On a side note, you can unfortunately hear the difference between the Prairiewood and the Brawley, and the Matchless and the Frenzel. Not a world of difference, but definitely there. So, as usual, the truth is far less fantastic than we would like it to be. Almost always, we want to say that cheaper stuff is just as superior as expensive stuff and there’s no difference whatsoever, or that expensive stuff is always superior and you shouldn’t even waste your time with cheap stuff. Whereas in reality, the truth of tone is somewhere in between. Yes, you do get what you pay for most of the time, and there is something to be said for expensive gear. Not for all of it, but for the stuff that’s expensive for good reason. But at the same time, can you save money and sound great with a $400 guitar and $600 amp? Yes. With a little research into what exactly it is that makes things sound good, you can definitely sound really good without a ton of money.

Click here for tone you might actually not have to put on your credit card:

Frenzel Amps

Splendid.
Karl.

Thank You

Visited a new Wednesday night service last week, and did not play (novel idea). It’s a midweek service that my wife and I have been wanting to check out for a while; only this time, she couldn’t come. So I walked in by myself. And you know what? That’s like, really scary! I walked in as a brand new, random guy; not the worship leader, with setlists to check and pre-service meetings to go over…not the guitarist, with extra capo’s in my car that I can give the pretense of going to get when there’s awkward downtime…just me. Eventually I met up with a friend of mine and no longer did I feel like the lonely creeper hanging in the back pretending to text message people while I’m really just changing my ringtone back and forth. (It was a young adults service, and at 26, I feel like I’m a young adult. Until I saw all the 19 year olds. I seriously felt like Father Time.) So it ended up cool, and it was a good service. And, remembering again what it’s like to walk into a new church for the first time without having the luxury of ‘being in the band’ or being with someone (haven’t done that since before I was dating my wife), I just wanted to commend them on a couple things. Of course there was some not so good stuff too, but you gotta expect that anywhere there’s, well…people. So, new church I visited once:

  • thank you for your greeters saying, ‘Hello, welcome’, instead of giving me an awkward and usually inter-gender hug and then asking how my purity has been this week.
  • keyboardist, thank you for playing pads on the slow stuff, and then rather then getting bitter that the keyboards usually can’t be heard when the song builds back up, for taking your hands off the keyboard and worshiping.
  • pastor guy, thanks for not letting the chorus of oddly placed ‘amens’ make your ego swell up and cause you to jump onto an emotional tangent of ‘nations rising in the victory that is our birthright’ that has nothing to do with your message.
  • thank you for talking about missions.
  • thank you for not making new people stand so that we can ‘feel welcome.’
  • worship leaders, thank you for taking turns so that my worship doesn’t become complacent upon one person.
  • lighting dudes, thank you for creating different moods for different songs, but with subtlety. That means without the strobe.
  • drummer, thank you for quietly keeping time during the down parts, as it’s a well-known fact that us worship leaders and guitarists have absolutely hopeless tempo…and that’s even with delay pedals on.
  • thank you for allowing your guitarists, bassist, and keyboardist to have their amps on stage.
  • thank you for making sure you gave people the chance to decide to give their love to God for the first time at the end.

Oh! And worship leaders! Huge props to you guys for making this the first ‘big’ church I’ve been to in a while where the worship leaders don’t have the Brewster ‘my hair is bigger than my face’ haircut or the lead dude from Hillsong United’s ‘indie meets Grease’ haircut. Not that there’s anything wrong with those styles, but it is refreshing to see worship teams without them…just every once in a while. Especially seeing as I was so nervous at walking in alone that I wore my ‘please think I’m Chris Martin’ jacket. Unfortunately, I did enough posing for all of us. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.

Moog Murf Review & Demo

This is the coolest pedal you can’t find a use for:

It brings the sonic territory a guitar can cover to a totally different place…it’s just that that place can never be on stage. Well, I shouldn’t say never. Like in American Tail. (Okay, now there’s a reference that can’t be hipster-cool, retro-cool, indie-cool, underground-cool, or even dorky-cool. But seriously, go watch the opening title to that thing and tell me those violins don’t make you want to re-tone your rig.) I have used this pedal live before, and for untimed stuff, it can create some very sonically interesting sounds. However, as it’s doing that, it is robbing your original tone. And the timing sequence is so odd and cool in this pedal, that in order to get it to stop sounding messy, it really needs to dictate what you play. So I can see this thing being an amazing tool for keyboards, or to lay on top of a sequencer, or in the studio. Somewhere where you are creating a song, and that song is based on what the Murf is doing. It really is a self-centered pedal in that way; very difficult to have it add to music in a good way. You think you’ve done it, and then when you listen back you go, ‘Oh. That was cool, but it probably would’ve sounded better without the Murf.’

Now there is a new Midi Murf out, and the rumour is that it is much more controllable and usable in live situations. Hopefully, as that one is even more expensive, and it’s difficult to justify expensive pedals on your board that take away your main tone and that, even if you are okay with that, you can really only use a-tempo, use it once every couple months, or dictate every song with it. Now again, if you’re in the studio and you’re planning to base songs off of this thing, then awesome. And I’m guessing that’s what Moog was probably going for. The incredibly tinny buffer though, and buffer that is only on when the pedal is engaged…I’m not sure what that’s about. That’s the reason I sold the original Murf I owned. And then I bought one again. Sold it. And again. There is something very wrong with me. Or maybe, very very right. (No, it’s the other one.)

And if the Murf were three times as small, and cost about 4 times less, then maybe you could justify keeping on your board in a parallel looper to try to take care of the tin in the dry signal, as a pedal you turned on for ambient step filtering every once in a while. But as it is, that’s a lot of pedalboard space and money for a step filter…that could be spent on delays. Well…more on the current delay backlash from guitarists who badmouth their ‘unoriginality’, but yet still use them, in the next couple days. ;)


(I gotta be honest…Bridget may have possibly been my first crush as a kid. And Bridget’s the one on the left. I did want to be Tony, but only because he’s kissing Bridget. And he had a cool New York accent and could get cheese out of trap just by tapping it with his ultra-cool Brit cane. Why in the world am I quoting a cartoon? Oh ya…this is why:

…For those of you who are into it, that’s James Horner…of musical fame from Braveheart, Enemy at the Gates, Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, etc. And for the rest of you…yes, I did have a heavy metal arrangement of this song worked out for my high school hair band ‘Requiem Mass.’ And yes, that was really our name.)

So there’s my Murf review. I’m very curious to see if they fixed the buffer issue on the new Midi Murf; but I’ve yet to see one for sale used. And it needs to be used so that I can resell it…because knowing me, chances are, I will. And for what it’s worth the Moog MF103 phaser is the most brilliant phaser I have ever played, and makes almost no difference in your dry signal. So…maybe the Murf was meant to do this, as like for use as a filter/studio preamp? Or keyboard preamp? At least you could use it that way with the new Midi Murf as then you can midi select back to preset one all the time as your base tone, leave the Murf always on, and then you’ve got a preamp, too…providing you like the sound of the preamp.

This has been a rambling, unrhythmic post, with not a lot of use. Hey, kind of like the Murf. Alright, that was just bad.

Splendid.
Karl.

Minimalism (the Less Boring Way)

  • ‘Less is more.’
  • ‘Hey, can you just hold a pad through this whole song?’
  • ‘No fills, just four on the floor.’
  • ‘No noodling!’
  • ‘If you’re not Eddie Van Halen, then play a chord.’
  • ‘Find the spots where not to play.’
  • ‘Listen to the silence.’
  • ‘There’s 6 of us on stage, that means we all have to play 82% less.’

If you hate these phrases (and don’t tell me you don’t, because I know some of you do…with like, the passion of acting sensation Mark Hamill after his father cuts his hand off…someone says ‘Hey, I think your solo might be a little distracting’ and you feel this urge to contort your face into a pole and scream, ‘That’s not true! That’s impossible!’ in such a way that we can barely understand what you’re saying…and I only mention that so I can segway into the second best video ever at the bottom of this post…first best is coming right now), then you are going to love me. I have found a way to spice up those boring pads, anti-solos, 4/4 straight beats, and bass lines that have been specifically notated as not going for a walk by worship leaders, band leaders, and lead singers (oh, those lead singers. ;) ). Thanks to my new favorite drummer, we can all now play minimalistically, but still stretch ourselves as musicians. I give you, the best thing I have seen since the Steven Seagal emotion chart:

You cannot look me in the eye and tell me that guy is not your hero. And that video is courtesy of my lovely wife.

And since I promised (well, or gave a horribly poor parenthetical conversation with myself about Star Wars simply in order to show this splendor):

Oh ya, and if you haven’t ever seen the Steven Seagal emotion chart…here ya go. I’ve showed it before, but it never gets old:

Splendid.
Karl.