Archive for September, 2010

You Are Not a Musician

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

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

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





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

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

Splendid.
Karl.

I Only Dog Paddle

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Sometimes…as wonderful as tone is…you’ve gotta disengage every so often before Centaurs start bowing to the King of Tone while whispering Dirty Little Secrets to the Bad Cats that the Toneczars are forming an alliance with the King of the Britains to gather the Brigadiers and besiege them in Prairiewood meadow. Or maybe that’s just a little fantasy I have. Late at night. When no one’s around. That I may or may not have action figures for. But either way…sometimes you’ve gotta sit back and just for a few hours…okay, minutes (whew…got kinda scary there…hours without tone?!)…and put your focus on something different. And just as deserving.

I give you, The Princess Bride quotes thread. All comments must be in the form of a quote from Princess Bride. If you can actually carry on a conversation in quotes, then you get……well…I’d say just the fact that you can do that means you are the coolest person on universe.

I’ll get us started…

‘I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?’
Do you always begin conversations this way?’

………

Splendid.
Karl.

Simplify

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

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

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

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

Splendid.
Karl.

Blindfolded Tone Part 1: Revealed

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(Original post so you can try your hand at guessing whether this is a cheap or boutique pedal can be found here: Blindfolded Tone Part 1: The Power of the Blue LED.)

And here it is:

So to all of you who guessed, good form! Bad form to myself, who obviously did a less than stellar job of hiding the fact that it was a cheap pedal, when I posted this video right after like 3 posts talking about cheap pedals. I’m great. Those who guessed that it was some sort of tubescreamer-type product were right on the money, as were those who guessed a Boss SD-1, as the guts of that pedal are almost exactly the same as the TS7, even down to the JRC4558 chip. To be honest, if someone actually nailed the pedal from a youtube video of a delay-soaked song, I probably would’ve just given you all my pedals and thrown the towel in.

Like I mention in the video, it is slightly different because I changed two resistors and I think even the chip, to an RC4558. But it was so long ago, I can’t remember. However, there is also another video somewhere on this site where I test this modded TS7 next to a stock one, and the difference is minimal at best. For the original piece, I had it on the hot setting, with the drive almost dimed. The hot setting is where this pedal really shines in my opinion. And that can be a lesson in itself; one, to try to find the sweet spot in cheaper pedals. And two, to research which cheap pedals have sweet spots, even if they’re in places that maybe shouldn’t be there in the first place. Like a ‘hot’ setting on a tubescreamer that makes it sound like a fuzz. (????) I have no idea why Ibanez decided to do that on the TS7. But not the TS5, TS9, TS808, TS10, or any of the plethora of other ts versions they have made. But I’m glad they did.

In my honest opinion, I did not expect this pedal to sound so good, especially within the context of that song. I basically based that whole song around the sound from this pedal. Very raunchy, and more of a fuzz than a drive. It actually reacted like a fuzz as well, being unpredictable and extremely harmonic. Which I of course loved. Is it going to make me sell my Hartman boutique fuzz? As of right now, probably not. But…I did add this TS7 to my board permanently. (And of course, ‘permanent’ for a guitarist means ‘this week.’) So as usual, things are again somewhere in between the extremes of ’boutique is a scam’ and ‘cheap pedals suck.’ But those of you who may remember, this is the pedal that has some sentimental value for me because it’s the one on which my father first showed me how to mod pedals 7 years ago. Which is why I’ve kept it, and am now pretty glad that I did. (Well, I also kept it because it’s difficult to make a profit on a $20 pedal that no longer has an led because you were awesome and wanted to show everyone that it wasn’t just a stupid stock pedal anymore. Nope. It has a green led. Or a blue led. Or a white led. So obviously, you know tone. Which makes it the best thing in the world that I totally destroyed the led trying to prove that I knew tone.)

The clean tone is the normal Prairiewood Les Paul (mostly neck pickup) into the Matchless HC30. Again, I think the difference in boutique and cheap pedals may start to break down a bit with a decent guitar and decent amp. At the same time, you don’t want to have pedals that are going to kill the tone of that decent guitar and decent amp, but that is a balance that this series is going to explore. There is also even more delay in this video than the original one, but remember that that is part of the point of this new Blindfolded Tone series; to see the differences in cheap versus boutique in the context of songs, other effects, and hopefully full bands sometime here pretty soon. And for me, ‘context’ means ‘delay.’ You know what, even ‘song’ means ‘delay.’ Yes.

And lastly, you may notice that there is a little placard at the bottom of this pedal. The placard, I am sad to admit says ‘Verkade TS808 Mod.’ Now, not only does that mean that those 7 years ago I was broadcasting a mod I bought in a $5 packet online, a mod which my dad did 90% of, and trying to pass it off as showing that I knew something about electronics. And that my dad who has a background in electrical engineering asked me while we were modding the pedal, ‘Karl, do you really think these two resistors and this chip are going to make this pedal sound any different?’ And I said, ‘Dad! The internet says!’ But it also means that, in my vanity, I spent $10 more on a little silver nameplate to show my ‘awesomeness’, than I did on the actual pedal itself. Oh, and that was after the gluing of the original chip and resistors to the outside of the pedal didn’t hold. And after, obviously, the failure of the led-modding. That blue led syndrome dies hard.

Splendid.
Karl.

Blindfolded Tone Part 1: The Power of the Blue LED

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(Read this post first. Then the revealed overdrive is here: Blindfolded Tone Part 1: Revealed.)

The year was 2003. U2 had finished the Elevation Tour and was writing their new album, we sent each other chain email jokes instead of youtube links, Elijah Wood was a hobbit, and Coldplay was still indie. I was rockin’ a Boss GT6 that had a broken delay tap tempo (meaning, I didn’t understand what dotted eighths were), a Crate GFX120, a Fender PA, and a BC Rich Warlock. Bronze series, baby. And I was happy. Sure, perhaps a tad blissfully ignorant; but happy.

Then I visited a new church. And my life was changed forever. The deeply Biblical message? The innovative outreach program? The intense and powerful worship experience? Nope. That guy over there is playing all these little pedals velcro’d to what looks like a piece of plywood. And my life would never be the same. I was cautious at first. I joined the team, but just played bass. No one really sees the bass player. (Sorry, bass players.) I would just kind of lurk in the shadows and thump my notes, trying to peer through the drumset at the vast and wondrous world of colored paint and blinking lights on the plywood beyond. It beckoned.

As fate would have it, one morning the second guitarist was sick, and I was asked to bring my guitar rig that morning. I was excited. It was to be a good showing. After all, I had two amps! Right? A Crate and a PA are better than one Fender Twin, right? It’s one versus two! That’s gotta be louder! And he would surely look in wonder at the professionalism of my GT6, without the primitive velcro and plywood. But somehow I knew…a different world awaited me. A world where magical creatures like Klon Centaur’s carry you off into faraway lands where the color of the led actually changes the sound of the pedal, overdrives are chewy, and you desperately pretend to know which pedal you’re supposed to like better because for the life of you they both seem to sound exactly the same.

So we play the set, and I’m pretty stoked. Pedalboard guitarist has been staring at my GT6 the whole time. And even now, as I’m packing up, he’s looking in the back of my amps. Nope, no magical talent knobs back there; that’s all from right in these hands, buddy. And then he walks up to me:

Guitarist: So, how do you like that GT6?
Me: Oh, this old thing? I don’t pay much attention to effects, really. *(I hoped he hadn’t seen me dusting between the knobs earlier that day.)* But it’s actually really cool! It has a volume pedal that can also be a wah, and you can have any effect you want, it even has amp models and speaker…
Guitarist: I mean, how do you like the tone of it?

Tone. This legendary and heralded word of all words. I wish I had made a better showing upon my first hearing of it.

Me: You mean like does it stay on pitch?
Guitarist: *(with a pained grimace)* I mean, how do you like how it sounds?

How it sounds? This was all so sudden…

And with that he threw the cover back on his magical colors and velcro and plywood. The blue led’s blinked in perfect syncopated unison. Some of them even swelled on and off. It was intoxicating. I felt all my will slipping away from me…

Me: Uh, I guess I like the sound of it.
Guitarist: No you don’t.
Me: No I don’t.

I continued to stare unblinkingly at the blue led’s.

Guitarist: Do you think your amps sound full?
Me: Well…ya…I mean, they’re run in stereo, and I’ve heard…
Guitarist: No you haven’t.
Me: No I haven’t.

I tried to pull away from the strange and wondrous sight, but reality was fading. Fast. I made a half-hearted attempt at resistance by singing a Liquid Tension Experiment off-tempo time signature in my head, but it made no difference. Blue led’s. Blue led’s.

Guitarist: do you like the tone of that BC Rich?
Me: I…I guess. The guy at Guitar Center said…
Guitarist: Guitar Center knows nothing. Good tone can never be found within those four walls.

It was almost a fatal mistake. I felt the spell loosening.

Me: But, but…I’ve seen that green pedal on your board at Guitar Center!
Guitarist: You’ve never seen this at Guitar Center. With this extra dip switch and blue led?
Me: Guitar Center knows nothing…Guitar Center knows nothing…

And that was how I started hearing things without the benefit of my ears. Now, don’t get me wrong…for the most part, that was one of the best days of my life. Tone is so incredibly vital, and it’s appalling how many guitarists overlook it. It’s not all about skill. Have you ever heard ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ on kazoo? Tone matters. However, that day also did start breeding in me just a little bit of hearing things with preconceived notions of how they are ‘supposed to’ sound. And making up differences in tone in my head where in reality I couldn’t hear any. Which is always going to be a battle…we are never going to fully get over the psychological phenomenon of expectation versus reality, and how the two tend to color each other. However, I have become increasingly convinced as of late that at the very least, I do need to stop shying away from the question.

So here it goes. A new series on tone…without your eyes. I have no preconceived notions going into this. On the one hand, good quality in gear makes sense that it would translate into good tone. On the other hand, there are a lot of great-sounding guitarists using inexpensive gear. Mostly pedals. This series will focus first on those, because by and large, with a good amp and good guitar, if a pedal just simply effects your tone and then stays out of the way, you just might be able to get away with not mortgaging your house to get onto the end of a 7 year waiting list for a phaser.

I’m sure there will be some personal bias as well, but hopefully the blue led’s will be balanced out by the fact that I have no money and would really not mind being able to sell a few things, buy less expensive replacements, and use the extra money to live off of. Ah, who am I kidding…I’d use the extra money to buy a new acoustic. But hey…the principle’s there, right? Nope. …… I’ll work on it. Ah, nope again.

So this first test is with a drive pedal. It may be a distortion, it may be an overdrive, and it may be a fuzz. It’s in the context of a new piece I just wrote, and it might be an inexpensive pedal. Or, it might be an expensive pedal. It might be boutique, and it might be mass-produced. Or it might be one of those boutique ones without custom paint and a high price tag, so they obviously don’t sound as good. ;) The pedal is at the bottom of the screen, underneath the black bar making the video widescreen. (Because I’m so rad.) Here’s the video:

Guesses anyone? Specific pedal guesses are fine, as are price range guesses, or general brand or just sound quality guesses.

I’m excited to start trying to hear without our eyes. I, for one, was absolutely wrong when I tried this pedal out. Blown away wrong. And for what it’s worth, the guitar is my normal Prairiewood hanging mostly around the neck pickup this time, the amp is the normal Matchless, the trem that favors heavily is the Dr. Scientist Tremolessence, and I re-arranged my board slightly so that the reverb and Arion delay came before the second Timeline so that they could be looped, rather than effecting the loop. Recorded with a mic. Ah, I’m still a gearhead at heart.

And if you just think blue led’s sound better no matter what and that’s all that matters, post away! Enough of those posts, and I’m jumping back onto that bandwagon away from the dangerous tonal precipice of objectivity and buying a Cornish pedal and hunting down Alexander Dumble!! Ok, that sounds really, really nice right now……this experiment might have just failed before it began.

Oh, and it’s not the GT6 as the mystery drive pedal in the video. lol Come to think of it, I ended up selling that GT6 to a lawyer who lived in a field…I was so happy to get rid of it that it didn’t strike me as odd at the time, but……

Splendid.
Karl.

The Never Ending Search for Tone

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  • Changed my strings and felt like I had bought a new guitar. Once again. Why is that so hard to learn? Oh, because it means I didn’t get to buy anything.
  • Be nice. You never know who you’re being nice to.
  • I think Gear Page is broken.
  • Can’t seem to get over Greg Leisz’s plugged straight-in tone.
  • Really, really starting to wonder if boutique pedals are worth it. They used to be, but that was before I had a good amp, a good guitar, buffer, and switching system. So you take away the whole not true bypass and junky buffer thing against non-boutique pedals… So, some shootouts are coming. But not just sterile environment shootouts, shootouts like playing an ambient piece with a Tremolessence and a Tuna Melt, and seeing if in the context of an actual piece, there’s any appreciable difference. Maybe a Timeline/DD20 one, too. And a Tim/stock Blues Driver.
  • And I really hope the boutique stuff doesn’t make an appreciable difference, because then I can sell all my boutique stuff and buy cheaper stuff because then I can go to LA and buy………wait.
  • Or maybe I’m just bored again of being happy with my tone, and don’t know where to go from my current gear. ;)
  • I also have had a Boss TU2 for my acoustic since July, and am still loving it. Couple that with my Boss RV3. I just got this mental image of Never Ending Story where the world is crumbling around the princess in the tower; except I’m the princess. Well……you really have to read that one right for it to make sense.
  • ‘Bastion, why don’t you do what you dreamed!’ ‘I have to keep my feet on the ground!’ ‘Call my name!’ And then he runs to the window and yells something unintelligible, and next thing you know he’s divebombing bullies into garbage cans on a crazy flying dog. Best kid power movie ever.
  • How long before youtube becomes the new medium for music, rather than the radio or iTunes or tv music channels? Think we can actually make a change from corporatism and make it happen? Or is the current influx of commercials on youtube more a sign that youtube will just become the new television?
  • I changed my own oil this weekend for the first time ever. I am now more a man than I was yesterday. Is this sad? Probably. It was really fun, except it made my fingers dirty.
  • Oh, and Jonny Buckland has a Phase 90 in his rig. Like, the block letter version. With an led. Nope, not vintage…not even that cheesey resissue script series they came out with. Just…plain…stock. I think. I act like I have knowledge of the inner workings of his rig, but really I just saw a picture.
  • There is hope for music. And that hope exists in the personage of Ray LaMontagne. I mean, he’s making a late night talk show’s studio and sound team actually sound good. Vocals sound exactly like the recorded version:


  • Grass roots. Watch out, it’s coming.
  • Bono and Edge recently intro’d the cast singing one of the songs they wrote for the new Spiderman Musical. Wish it was Edge’s guitar tone. And Bono can be really awkward at times, but he has never done the I-wish-I-was-in-Twilight head throwback after every phrase, nor the I-love-myself-too-much not pronouncing any word of the song. But hey, he’s on Broadway and I’m…we…let’s just say…not. Thanks to Dan at MapleNeck for this one:


  • But now, the real story of this video. I think I might trade in half my U2 cd’s in exchange for just a few more buttons on Bono’s shirt. It is frighteningly open. It’s like the Rattle and Hum overalls all over again. And I just got over my nightmares from this. Okay, fine. It’s just an excuse to show one of the best videos ever. This video got me into tone, and changed my life:


  • Still, Bono should be wearing a shirt. Always.
  • And, because it’s awesome:


  • The dream world of tone is crumbling!! Call it’s true name to save the dream world and make it into a real one! Boss! Ibanez! MXR!! Line 6!!! (No, not that one.) ;)
  • Oh, and if I don’t comment back on the blog for a while, it’s because I’m reliving my childhood and helping Bastion fight the Nothing. I’m so gonna watch this right now. I mean, practice guitar.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Yikes, seeing the Captain Eo tribute last week at Disneyland really sent me into this ’80′s tailspin. And it’s just as wonderful as you thought it could be. Alright, who’s with me in bringing animatronic puppets, chorus effects, and the Bono overalls back?! What’s a good chorus pedal? Boss CH-5, anyone? ;)

Guitar Center is Against Everything Captain Eo Stands For

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A long time ago (the ’80′s), in a galaxy far, far away (again, the ’80′s), there was a ride. A ride that stood for everything that was good and pure in that world. Some would say it was Star Tours, but with flying hamster-moths instead of droids. Others would say it was Labrinth, just with interchangeable pop stars. But it was so much more than that. It was the robot with a mustache’s peg leg becoming a guitar. It was the hi-hat cymbal sound inexplicably linked to Michael Jackson’s pelvic movements. It was the King of Pop’s musical rainbow rays turning scary industrial monsters into happy, slightly gender-indeterminate dancers. It was the unabashed hope that seemed to permeate that decade that perhaps a time was coming when we could live and dance and sing and not worry if it was cool or not. A time when claymation puppets and humans could live hand in hand, and not be oppressed by Angelica Huston swinging from metal ducts over a post-apocalyptic dance floor. It was music…changing the world.

See the wonder. And not only see……but hear!

It’s the ’80′s as they were meant to be.

Contrast that with Guitar Center, that I went into earlier that day, that had one slide. No, not one type of slide. One slide. The one sitting on the counter for demo’s. I’m playing somewhere this weekend where a slide is needed for a certain song, and I didn’t realize it until the day before, so I go to Guitar Center to buy a full-size slide and a ring slide. The salesman tells me they only have full-size slides. I ask which brands. He holds up the used slide on the counter right in front of him. I ask if they have any other sizes. He says they might, if the slide I was holding wasn’t the only one in the store. How am I supposed to change the world with musical rainbow rays if my tone is hindered by Guitar Center not caring, not even a little, about tone, selection, music, or even just staying in business as a company? I mean, if they don’t even have a selection of slides, there goes my hope of finding a sophisticated old robot who can transform into a guitar, microphone, and drumset at the first note from a synthesizer. Guitar Center, you’ve had 25 years to come up with that robot…but I’d settle for just a slide that hasn’t been on someone else’s finger. But I guess the fact that I’m going to try to change the world tonight with my intensely toneful slide solo’s (meaning, Bullet the Blue Sky ripoffs) isn’t very important to you.

Captain Eo would not be pleased.

Splendid.
Karl.






P.S. The best part is when Michael unlocks the bass player with his musical lasers. You can tell because he jumps out, and immediately slap bass on rubber strings starts grooving like it was 1989. Miss Huston should know better than to hire as her guards monsters that have on their resume’s that they were former bass players. They just can’t handle hearing that groove and not joining in.

Gettin’ All Honesty and Freudian and Such Up in Here

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

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

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

Splendid.
Karl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am so awesome. Nope.

Splendid.
Karl.

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