Slow Down

This is the most honest thing I can post right now; I need to slow down. I think I’m gonna take a day. :)

And just so you don’t miss it, that line in the second verse is, ‘Through the years, I have learned some things worth the tellin’. And you’d be right in guessin’ that each and every lesson, they were hard won.’ That one doesn’t really apply to this post, but it’s awesome nonetheless! Like delay. And bpm readouts. And love. Of delay. And there I go. Slow down. hehe

Ah, so much incoherence. Don’t know why I feel the need to add to beauty such as this. Have a wonderful weekend, and slow down if you need to. To quote another song, ‘Keep your head above water, but don’t forget to breathe.’ Okay, so that one’s gotta be in too:

If I could sound that good through like, no sound system……oh my…………and I just forgot about everything else ever.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Sorry for being so absent from here lately. And those of you who have tone questions in right now, I’ll get back to you soon.

Rococo

I’ll just be honest…I don’t know where this is going, or what I’m writing…just using some big words I don’t understand. Like ‘harmonic swirl.’ I couldn’t actually describe to you what that is. I’m not even sure I could describe to myself what that is. But has that stopped me from using ‘harmonic swirl’ to describe everything from pedals to amps to lo impedance cables? Oh, absolutely not! So, let’s see what happens…

  • It is fairly improbably how much I am liking that Godin. Put some DR Pure Blues’ on it, and there was much rejoicing.
  • And then I broke a string, for the first time in 5 years. Don’t know if there’s a correlation.
  • And if there is a correlation, does that mean the guitar is flawed, the strings are flawed, or that I just gave in to the joyousness a little too much? Or maybe it’s that guitars really prefer not to be hit with the speckled side of Herdim picks.
  • I hate that I use Herdim picks. I already like Edge waaaay too much, and using these just enhances the stereotype that has been forced upon me by myself. The first time I bought them, I actually was planning on debunking the whole theory. And then I took a strum with one and was like, ‘Ah, blast.’ And now they just simply must be used.
  • Fell into using a worship technique that I loathe, got called out on it, became indignant, then watched some video playback of myself and went, ‘Oh.’ Humility’s the worst.
  • Re-doing my pedalboards. Yep, there’s two of them now, as they are both in roadcases and it’s amazing how big the roadcases are for such comparably small pedalboards inside them. Yes, my life is full of pedals once again. Much less pricey ones, but little colored boxes of joy nonetheless.
  • Ray LaMontagne’s newest album is really, really something special. If you haven’t already picked it up, I would highly recommend doing so. It is so choice. And if you think you don’t like ’40′s country folk, listen to the album again. Because you do.
  • I have apparently been wrong in thinking that it’s an unwritten rule that you should ship pedals in boxes. Envelopes, ya…not so much.
  • The opinions over the last couple weeks have been absolutely across the board: ‘Your cheaper gear sounds exactly the same as your expensive gear.’ ‘Your rig lost all its guts and sparkle; bring back the other stuff.’ ‘You actually sound better now…just need to get rid of even more pedals.’ ‘Blues Junior will slay a Matchless for days.’ ‘That Godin can’t even touch the Prairiewood.’ Just goes to show you that you can’t please everyone, and that everyone is different. As long as you’re playing something that allows you to happily make beautiful music, let it be.
  • Although I still think there’s a song out there, yet to be written, that will please everyone across the board. It’ll be the ultimate manifestation of art, as it will touch not just the masses, but the entire mass of people. I’ve been pretty sure I’ve written that song about 47 times. And each time the masses (the 22 people who watched it on youtube), said no. And this is where a lot of us artists and church folk alike get into trouble. We think so highly of our own art, that when people don’t connect with it, our first thought is how unenlightened they are, or that there must have been a good deal of spiritual warfare before church this morning. And only on the rarest of occasions do we actually take a look at ourselves and say, ‘Or maybe our song sucks.’
  • I’m not saying your song sucks; but I am saying it’s something to consider. ;)
  • Why is it so hard to look at ourselves? I mean, to really look at ourselves.
  • I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have beats per minute readouts on my delays. Oh, how I love beats per minute.

Sorry, I tried to be funnier, but it’s late and I’m tired. Just pretend you’re out with friends and that one guy came along for whom you always have to plaster a laugh on your face every time he attempts some joke Alec Baldwin couldn’t even pull off right on 30 Rock the night before. That’ll help you as you read this post. hehe Oh, and just for the record, when you’re plastering a laugh on your face every time that guy attempts some joke Alec Baldwin couldn’t even pull off right on 30 Rock the night before, remember that he’s probably doing the same for you at your inexorably hysterical Flight of the Conchords references. It’s just life…and it’s a whole lot easier to get through when we take ourselves just a little less seriously. And I think that may be what God intends, and I’m constantly not getting it. And not like, just missing it either. I’m way off in some other place, chasing some other thing. And wow, it is late…I don’t know how we got here. But hey, let’s go with it. I can’t put it any better than Mr. Lewis: ‘He (God) is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are.’

Splendid.
Karl.

Enjoying a Behringer RV600…it is Officially the Apocalypse

See, I think it’s the names of these boutique pedals. Radical Red Reverberator. Now that’s like, really retro-classy cool. Reverb Machine? Verbzilla? What is going on here?! Those are the worst names of all the names ever. However…that is what I’m demo’ing this time around. Just one pedal, but which is in reality both pedals as Behringer completely ripped off Line 6. Bad form. But it makes for a very inexpensive pedal; hence, I bought one. I am a terrible person.

So, here’s the demo. Overall, there are some decent sounds, but they are kind of hidden amongst some cheap knobs, a terrible layout, and some really, really poor sounds. Like, 1998 Zoom multi-effects pedal sounds. But, the alright sounds are there; and for $50 new, it’s worth it to spend the time finding them. See, it’s not as if all of a sudden all these cheap effects now sound good. It always seems as if we want to jump to one extreme or the other. Let me be clear…this Behringer is not a replacement for the spring in your ’67 GIbson Falcon. But for me right now, my perspective has shifted from trying to get the best sound possible, to trying to get the best sound I can from what I can afford. Well, now that I think about it, that’s always been my perspective. It’s just the ‘what I can afford’ part that has shifted. Immensely. lol So I won’t tell you this is a great reverb pedal; but I will tell you that it is possible to get some good sounds from it.

Base Tone

Godin SD fat strat–>

Fender Blues Junior (Celestion V30)

Pedals Used

Delays: Boss DD20, MXR Carbon Copy, and Arion SAD-1

Drives: Fulltone Fatboost at 12 volts (2 of ‘em stacked at one point), Ibanez TS7

Demo:

The Good

The octave up/shimmer/space mode is not great…but you can get it to sound good with a proper mix…especially an external mix pedal to allow the reverb to get fully wet. Also, I thought the cave, plate, and ’63 modes sounded good. The decay is able to get really long and saturated, which was actually awesome. It has trails which is great, and a blue led. (See, the mass-production companies are catching on!)

The Bad

Knobs are cheap and either too loose or too stiff, and the mode knob fuzzes in-between settings. The space mode has a weird crackling sound when trying to track chords, and 6-7 of the reverb modes just aren’t good. Oh, and I had no idea what ducking mode was when I recorded the video…it sounded like it increased reverb as you played harder. I just read the manual, and it’s actually supposed to be the opposite. So…not a great ducking mode. Oh, and it says Behringer on it. ;)

The Verdict

I’ll keep it for a while. See how the shimmer and cave modes work out live. And when I can, I might buy a different reverb pedal. But who knows? The shimmer actually sounded alright, so maybe I’ll keep this one along with other reverb pedals. Definitely a pedal that does have some good sounds in it; provided you take the time to find them, and provided you use a parallel mix pedal. For the tone suck, and to keep the dry signal analog; but also, to be able to get the reverbs wetter without having them too high in the mix.

Oh, and because it’s called ‘The Machine’, it reminded me of that part in Matrix where they say, ‘He’s like…a machine.’ You know, the part right after Keanu says ‘I know kung fu.’ And then it’s all crazy and symbolic, because really, he is a machine. Oh! Bet you didn’t see that coming. But in reality (or…in…the matrix?…hmm…), I just wanted to play this again. This is ‘Keanu’ calling in to a morning talk show around where I live. And it is superb.

‘allo.
Karl.

Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes

I’ve just turned in my resignation to Gear Page. It’s an unwritten rule that to resign as a gear junkie, or from any one of many flavor-of-the-month-my-boutique-tubescreamer-clone-slays-your-slightly-different-boutique-tubescreamer-clone-hands-down gear message board clubs, all you have to do is sell your Dr. Scientist for a Danelectro. Or your Tim for a Fulltone. Or your Subdecay for an Arion. Or the kicker…your Timeline for a DD20. Since I have now done all three (edit…four…huh, guess counting poses a bit of a problem for me), I don’t see any real way back. I’m an outlaw now.

No, not really…that was just to serve as an (ultra-cheeseball) segway into the background for that gorgeous scene from Braveheart of the silhouetted mourners and Uncle Argyle says, ‘They’re saying goodbye in their own way…playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.’ Well, this is my goodbye to my gear. And it’s being played on some very much outlawed gear. Where has it been outlawed? Why, on my blog, of course! hehe But this has been more or less my gigging board for the last couple of weeks. There’s more coming in, and unfortunately it’s not going to stay this small, but it has been a surprisingly wonderful couple weeks.

I give you…’Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes’…or ‘Sounding Good with Cheap Gear’. You may also choose ‘Ode to a Prairiewood’ or ‘Eh…I liked the Timeline better.’ ;)

So there you have it. Now if I may be so bold as to venture an opinion, I am actually quite pleased. That Godin strat? Found it used at Guitar Center for dirt cheap. And it is now my strat sound, even when the Prairiewood comes back. I’m blown away by that thing. The amp…well, those of you who have ever asked me for advice on a cheap amp know my answer all too well: Blues Junior with a tube swap and speaker change. Well, the speaker is changed on this, but I haven’t yet gotten a chance to buy new tubes. Still…diggin’ it.

Now here’s where the trouble starts. Because sides form. There’s the ‘DD20 slays the Timeline!’ side, and then there’s the ‘DD20 isn’t even in the same league as the Timeline!’ side. And, as usual, the real answer is far less extraordinary than either of those camps. Does the DD20 slay the Timeline? No. But does the Timeline sound better than the DD20? I have to say, yes it does. But does the DD20 sound good? Absolutely. So, this post is not to say that boutique gear is a sham, but merely to say that if you don’t have the money for boutique gear (or, if your Prairiewood gets decapitated), there is still a chance of sounding good with cheaper gear.

But, wait! No, seriously wait. Please, please, please do not go to Guitar Center and start buying everything up going, ‘I can sound good with cheap gear! I can sound good with cheap gear!’ The operative word there is ‘can’; not ‘will’. In fact, with both boutique and mass-produced gear, expensive and cheap gear, you are far more likely to sound bad. The point is that with a little research, some ear-training, practicing, taking the time to try things out and learn how to dial in proper settings, and studying what to buy and what not to buy, there is a chance of sounding good with cheaper gear. (‘So you’re telling me there’s a chance! I read ya.’) For instance, DD20: only other multi-setting delay besides the DC Timeline (and if you want to include the Strymon Brig and Cap as they have 2 settings) that does not run your dry signal through AD/DA converters. Beautiful, and sounds incredible for its price. And the bpm readout? Ahhh!!!! Heaven these last couple weeks. But the MXR Carbon Copy? Ya, stoked it has 600 milliseconds…but it’s basically unusable at a higher mix after 300 milliseconds because of the added noise on the repeats. So, do your research for sure and try a lot of stuff out. :) And just for the record, I think the Carbon Copy sounds absolutely lovely…just noisy at the extreme settings, which are its major selling points.

Here’s the chain:

Godin fat strat (I’m sure Godin will call it something else, but it’s a basically a fat strat with a maple body…I’m using neck pickup for swells, and going between bridge humbucker and neck/middle position for melodies)–>

Fryette Valvulator buffer–>
Loop-Master bypass strip–>
(Tuner out–>TU2
(Loop 1–>Ibanez TS7 in hot mode
(Loop 2–>Fulltone Fatboost v1 at 12 volts
(Loop 3–>Fulltone Fatboost v1 at 12 volts
(Loop 4–>George Dennis volume pedal
(Loop 5–>Boss DD20–>MXR Carbon Copy
(Loop 6–>Arion SAD-1

Fender Blues Junior (Celestion V30…and it says it’s some special edition Blues Junior…but I think that’s just code for ‘green tolex’)

Oh, and the reason for the cheap gear. You may want to ask your children (i.e. other guitars and pedals) to leave the room on this one:

Yep. And it’s actually worse in person, not to mention the electronics being all freaked out, too. Seriously a blessing to find a Godin used for so cheap the same day I desperately needed a guitar. Although I am typing this in a separate room…she doesn’t need to see her older sister like that.

So, I’m an outlaw now. Desperate times call for desperate measures. (lol So cheesey, but just so much fun!) As was (and is) actual Outlaws:

Yeah pixels!!!

Splendid.
Karl.

I Need to Stop Saying Things

Because every time I say something like, ‘If it came down to it, I’d sell all my pedals to have a good guitar and a good amp.’ And then voila…it comes down to it. Depending on your theology or lack thereof, I’d say God has some fun sometimes. hehe You say know tone? Wham! In walks the new guitarist with too much or too little gear (depending on which way you think you know tone), and blows you away. You say you can’t remember when you last told a lie? Wham! He puts that musician on your team who can barely play but needs constant affirmation. Awesome. (And that has nothing to do with anyone I currently play with…but has happened in the past. ;) Just thought I’d clarify. hehe)

In a way, it’s good for us. Hence, I’m not stopping. Well, even without the hence, I probably wouldn’t be stopping:

  • Dropped my amp off with Phil at Matchless yesterday. I call him by his first name only because we’re totally friends now. Said hi and everything.
  • The shop was literally overflowing with Matchless. You know that feeling as a little kid when your mom’s buying lightbulbs and you go over and walk down the GI Joe aisle? That’s the one. Imagine the tone that room is capable of.
  • Played a Carbon Copy yesterday. Stupid thing sounded really, really good.
  • Played a Way Huge Aqua…uh…something. Okay, now that’s what a piece of gear you can buy at Guitar Center should sound like! Weird tonal coloration, less delay time than is advertised, alright! Keeping my unfair preconceived notions of Guitar Center alive! :)
  • Shipped off one of my Timeline’s this morning. I played it beforehand to make sure it was working. Horrible mistake. I don’t care how much tone is in your hands, those Timeline’s just plain sound amazing. I hope it still works when it arrives in Australia, as there may be some water damage from my tears as I packed it up. Closest I’ve come to crying over gear since I sold the Melancon…oh wait…and since I shipped the Memory Lane 5 minutes earlier. haha Miss Prairiewood, many good pedals have sacrificed themselves for you; you’d better make the hills come alive with the sound of music when you get back. Oh wait, she does. ;)
  • You don’t serve in order to be a good leader; you just serve.
  • Sat next to a hipster gang yesterday at a coffee shop on Sunset who were discussing their indie screenplay. In voices that screamed, ‘Please think we’re important! Please think we’re important!’ Actually, to be fair, it was just the one guy. If I had been wearing my ‘No, I’m not Brad Pitt’ shirt, I would’ve taken it off and handed it to him. And I’m not just being a jerk…he was practically yelling. Things like, ‘Well, The Office has some pretty good ideas, but…’
  • Theo Hartman fixed my fuzz for free and paid for return shipping. Even though I did not buy it new, and have gigged with it for two years. Please buy his things. All of them, because they are so wonderful.
  • It just depends on the Guitar Center. Spoke with the best sales dude ever at GC Hollywood, and not just because he had a British accent. He actually knew what he was talking about, was kind, and gave you the benefit of the doubt that you knew what you were talking about. And I suck and forgot his name, but he’s the guy I try to talk to when I go there. Contrast that with a few days ago at GC Murrieta, where a sales dude literally told me that the pedal ‘is normally $300, but I’m giving it to you for $229.’ Really, bro? Ah, thanks! Well since I’m really that special, let me just go change the tags on the ones on the rack behind me to $300, because they all say $229. And yes, that actually happened. But no, against every impulse in my body I did not grab a sharpie and go around the store changing all the ‘special sale prices just for me’ to the list MSRP price.
  • For those of you hearing that my amp is in LA and my guitar is in Minnesota, and wondering what I’m playing right now, well I decided to take that whole ‘tone is in the hands’ thing seriously and I’m just walking on stage now and holding my hands in front of a microphone.
  • Clips to follow.

And to everyone who has bought a pedal, huge thanks. There were tears in the Prairiewood’s eyes. I hope the pedals give you years of enjoyment in their new homes. Ah, let’s face it, we’re gearheads…I hope they give you a good week of making you wonder what else is out there before you flip ‘em. hehe And everything is either currently spoken for or gone except for:

1) Subdecay Quasar–$100
2) RAWoods 1×12 solid pine cab now with 50w Weber Alnico (instead of the V30)–$350
3) Maybe the Hartman fuzz…really trying to keep that one if possible…but the right offer might take it
4) Furman Power Factor Pro R power conditioner…trying to keep this one too, but for $200 I might use it to help the amp and guitar

Delay is forever.

Splendid.
Karl.

Growing Up

Not really in the mood to talk (like you’ll believe that…don’t worry, there’ll still be some U2 videos at the end); in deep mourning over here. Pretty much all my gear is dead. I could blame it on getting caught in a rainstorm going up to the conference this last week; could blame it on those stupid boutique builders who do shoddy work and then sell it for a lot of money; could blame it on bad luck. However, none of those would be entirely true. (Especially the boutique builders one…I love all you guys! As long as you keep putting those blue led’s in the pedals, I’ll keep buying ‘em! ;) ) The truth is that I’ve been trying for too long to have my cake and eat it, too. No money invested in maintenance or protection, just tone, tone, tone. Which is wonderful…when the gear works. I used to do a lot of maintenance and such…but after a couple years of nothing breaking, I think I’ve gotten lazy. It’s a very awkward thing to look at your gear and go, ‘You know, if this worked, it would sound amazing!’ So, one amp with an uncontrollable ground hum, one splintered headstock, another amp just completely shot, an acoustic with a pickup problem, three dead pedals, and possibly a humming power supply later, it’s time. Especially since I was working this week with some of the most talented people I have ever worked with (whose credentials frighten me just a little bit…rare that you work with a worship leader who can show you up on solo’s and a keyboardist who thinks your pedalboard is small because he’s recorded Tim Pierce), and every other piece of gear I turned on it seemed wouldn’t work. You just can’t buy life lessons like that, folks. lol

To be fair to my gear (of course), it’s been with me all over California this summer (San Francisco, San Jose, the sequoias, etc.); and it’s probably a tribute to it that it’s held up as long as it has. However, as more and more of these opportunities come up, and I get churches inexplicably not calling me back after offering to fly me out for a workshop and then me telling them that of course I’ll do it for free as long as they purchase me the 18 ATA flight cases (come on, that’s reasonable, right? hehehe ;) ), it’s time to grow up.

Hopefully, some of you can benefit from said growing up. These are first come, first serve via EMAIL. My email address is at the link in the topbar, or the little email envelope icon in the sidebar. These will be here first, Gear Page tomorrow. Shipping and Paypal is included in all the prices, as I hate math ruining the gear-buying experience. :D I’ll try to give some decent prices on these, but at the same time, my Prairiewood is calling woefully out to me and needs a new neck; and I just can’t say no to her.

  • EH POG (original version…because ‘original’ sounds way better than ‘older’)…SOLD…thanks, Adam!
  • Subdecay Quasar Phaser…$125
  • Boss RV3 reverb…$110…Spoken for
  • ZVex Ooh Wah…SOLD…Thanks, Christian!
  • Damage Control Timeline with Rocktron Midi Mate…$600
  • Paul Cochrane Tim…$250 (sorry to the price-gouging police, but that’s what I paid for it)…Spoken For
  • Diamond Memory Lane (original version again, hehe)…SOLD…Thanks, Adam!
  • Dr. Scientist Tremolessence (original version again…wow, I’ve been happy with my gear for a while)…$150…Spoken for
  • RAWoods solid pine (dovetail finger-jointed) 1×12 cabinet with Weber alnico 12A150B…$350 (beautiful finish…couple scratches)

So, there ya go. Offers via email. Offer lower, and I’ll consider it; offer higher, and get a group hug from me and the Matchless. (Which may go too, but she needs to be fixed first. Unfortunately, a working Fender in a road case sounds better than a dying Matchless. All things being equal, though…uh…Matchless. ;) hehe Sorry, can’t change who I am!)

And for what it’s worth, the conference was incredibly awesome, and some of the most fun I’ve had. Would’ve been more fun with gear that worked, but now we’ve got fun and life lessons! What could be better? ;)

Oh, and I need to practice more. Very, very, very, more.

And with selling all this gear, remember all those times I’ve said that music is melody? That had really better be true. hehe :D

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Oh, and because I promised:

Yep…you write a song like that, and you don’t need gear. Well, maybe a delay and a good amp. ;)

P.S.S. And as much as I joke about rain and ‘stupid builders’, this post is entirely about me. I’m kind of a flighty, happy-go-lucky person, and I’ve been playing with fire without protection for my gear for about 7 years now. haha It finally caught up to me. So, learn from my mistakes:

1) That whole roadcase thing? Ya. Do that.
2) That whole loosening your strings when changing altitudes and temperatures? Yep, that one’s true.
3) Always have a Squire and a Valve Jr. in your car anywhere you go. Like, anywhere. ;)
4) Practice so much.

Make-Up Reviews: Empress SuperDelay, Fender Twin Reverb, & First Act VW

Time for a few reviews of some gear that I only got to play through for a short time, and hence did not get to video. So, be forewarned that these reviews, because not accompanied with a video so that you can make up your own mind and either verify or deny what I am hearing, may have a fair amount of bias built-in. There will be pictures however, so that will at least give you a little taste of what they sound like. ;)

Empress Vintage Modified SuperDelay

I got this one to do a shootout with the Timeline and keep the best one. What happened was that, even though the Timeline won for me, the Empress was such a worthy pedal that I didn’t want to film a full shootout until I really knew the ins and outs of that pedal. Which I didn’t have time for before I needed to sell it. So basically, I totally sucked at a shootout of this. Eventually when I have more time I’ll buy another one and do a proper shootout.

What is it?

The Vintage Modified SuperDelay (or VMSD if you’re cool) is a multi-setting delay from Empress. The ‘Vintage Modified’ in the title just means it’s the second version of the SuperDelay that is supposed to do the vintage tape echo thing better than the first version. The main thing though is that it’s black and gold instead white and yellow, and looks way cooler.

The Good

  • It has 8 user-writable presets available that can be accessed with your foot without an external pedal. This is what attracted me to the pedal in the first place, as the Timeline…though having 128 presets…must have an external midi pedal to access them with your foot.
  • The delayed signal was really, really weighty. Sounded just as good as the Timeline and the T-Rex Replica. I was extremely impressed. It sounded real.
  • There is a reverse delay setting that goes an octave up and gives you great shimmer tones.
  • It’s way smaller than it looks in pictures. They did a great job with that.
  • Lots of different types of delay; lots of time ratios and external expression pedal options.

The Bad

  • The decay of the delayed signal. It wasn’t very natural, and even on the dirtier and more ‘analog-sounding’ modes, I couldn’t get it to smear into oblivion. Harsh is the wrong word because it’s a great-sounding delay, but I guess I was left wishing I had more control over the nature of the repeats to make them washier…especially for subtle delay/reverb sounds.

The Eh

  • This pedal does convert your dry signal to digital and then back to analog using AD/DA converters. However, it’s one of the better ones I have heard. There is a difference in tone when you turn the delayed signal off so you only hear the dry signal, and then true bypass the pedal on and off. With the pedal on and your dry signal running through the converters, there is a slight bit of compression and lack of realness. It is very slight though; and the pedal has a knob to add volume to your dry signal which you can use to boost your level and help counteract the converters. So, if you want this delay always on, it actually has a very good sounding clean boost which also negates (in audible sound, not in technical terms) the coloring of the AD/DA converters. However, then you have to have this thing always on…or have a preset with no delay mixed in that’s always on. And then you’re down to 7 presets.
  • They did a great job packing a lot of options into a small and simple pedal. However, at times it might be too simple…meaning, in order to have fewer knobs, the knobs do different things depending on a switch that put you into 3 different modes. So, on the fly at a gig, I can see myself getting very confused. lol But…at the same time…some people might really like that because it keeps them from having a pedal as big as the Timeline on their boards.

The Verdict

Overall, a great-sounding delay, right up there with the best I have tried. However, did not replace the Timeline. If it had the ability for more smeared decays and did not convert the dry signal and/or allowed you to use the preamp separate of the rest of the pedal, I would probably be totally on board and spend the time to get to know it and just memorize the knobs’ functions in each mode. But for now, I have to see it as an awesome pedal that just doesn’t happen to be for me.

Fender Twin Reverb (current issue, stock)


I played this one at a recent deal where a bunch of churches played…hence, we used a backline. I was not involved in the planning of the event; which is why the backline was Fender and not Matchless. We also only played one song; which is why I did not begin an altercation with the powers that be over using my own amp. (Well, I probably wouldn’t have done that anyway…it pains me to say it, but people are more important than tone. Some people. ;) Kidding, kidding, only kidding!)

What is it?

It’s an amp that used to be awesome and then Fender became an early incarnation of Wal-Mart and started mass-producing them for cheaper. This was not an awesome one.

The Good

  • As fun as it was to write the previous paragraph, even current issue Twin Reverb’s are good amps. They are pretty much a staple in nearly half of all touring bands’ rigs. I have no documentation to support that (as usual), but it sounds about right. If you go to a show, you’ve got a 50% chance pretty much of seeing the guitarist playing through a current issue Twin. And there is a reason…they sound good and are work-horses.
  • It did sound good. A decent warm tube sound.
  • The best thing about this amp was that it acted as a canvas for what you put into it. It’s just a big warm sound that allows you to paint on top of it. Such is the beauty of high-wattage 6L6-style amps.
  • And of course, tons of clean headroom. Like, tons.

The Bad

  • So loud that you really can’t get it to the verge of breakup without being in a stadium; and as a result, drives tend to sound a bit thinner and boxier than I’d like.
  • Little bit of brittleness on top and gorilla-ness down below. New tubes might have taken care of the brittle, and some Weber or upper end Jensen speakers might have taken care of the gorilla. However, this was straight from Guitar Center.

The Eh

  • Not incredibly defined or weighty tone. Nice and big and warm, but nothing to blow you away. (Well…at least me personally with my style and hack hands. Others with better hands may have different experiences.)
  • I know it would ruin the ‘vibe’, but a master volume would really make these so much more versatile. Make it defeatable even if you really want to leave the classic tone and vibe alone.

The Verdict

Very decent amp for a warm canvas on which to play the rest of your stuff. However, I can think of a good many amps I’d rather play…some of them cheaper. On the other hand, I can think of a good many amps I’d choose the Twin over, and some of them are more expensive. I guess that’s just another way of saying I thought it to be a very decent and even good middle of the road amp.

First Act VW


Well, this one was going to be a post in itself. I was at Guitar Center for strings, and as usual, decided to peruse the used section. And here is this First Act electric guitar, with a smash in the side, for $150. It was seriously going to be the ultimate Guitar Center-bashing post. Because First Act is the Wal-Mart brand (I’m not just being slang…they really do carry them at Wal-Mart); and you get the guitar, amp, strap, etc., for like, $100. So the fact that they were selling just the guitar, with a good-sized smash in the body, for more than the package new, almost made me cry. Luckily, as is something I have learned from being very wrong in the past while naturally assuming I was very right and ending up sticking my foot into my gullet, I decided to ask Google (which is rapidly becoming the equivalent of ‘Father’ in Equilibrium and THX-1138) before I confronted a salesperson. And lo and behold, First Act has guitars that are in the multi-thousands of dollars! I have no idea how they sound or if anyone plays them who is not getting paid to do so by First Act, but I had absolutely no idea. I thought they were a toy company. But I guess they actually try to build real guitars?! Craziness.

What is it?

It’s a guitar.

The Good

  • Okay, the crazy part. It sounded…uh…kinda good. The setup was one of the worst I have ever felt; the neck was incredibly bowed and the strings felt like they were like an inch off the fretboard. But it sounded…alright. Bordering on even maybe, good.
  • The pickups were passive, with a switch to engage the battery and make them active. Weird, but kind of cool, and both settings sounded good.
  • I was playing it through a Fender Tweed Deluxe reissue. Seriously not a bad sounding guitar. Which was insanely odd. Oh, and I liked the amp a little more than the Twin.

The Bad

  • Terrible build quality. Because it was smashed, you could see the wood under the white paint and it was all really thin layers of ply.
  • Tuners looked like they would snap with tension.
  • Neck was a few different pieces of wood.
  • As I mentioned, the setup was atrocious. That can be fixed, though.

The Eh

  • With that terrible of wood, somehow it still managed to not sound awful. Maybe First Act has hit on some super stellar pickups or something. I have no idea. Or maybe that Tweed Deluxe reissue is a really good amp. Nah, can’t be…it’s a Fender. ;) Kidding, kidding, again. :)
  • It would make some people’s lives to be rockin’ a First Act in the face of all the other guitarists. Others would rather die.

The Verdict

I dunno! Maybe as a backup guitar? Not a great instrument by any means, but just didn’t sound nearly as bad as I thought it would. Oh, and I ended up being more wrong than Guitar Center. Kinda stings. Although I did check up on it and there are other Guitar Center’s selling the same model without the big dent for less than $150. I have no idea how that company is run. But sure is good when you need strings in a hurry. And they never had Ernie Ball’s; but now that I have switched to DR’s, they always have them. The world makes way for DR’s. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.