Message Boards!

Well…kind of.

It’s all explained in the new Board page up on the menu bar. And in this photo:

Actually, very little is explained in that photo. How these things happen is absolutely beyond me. Between this and Hollow Man, I have come to the conclusion that mankind probably has about 10 years before our heads literally implode upon their own emptiness. Not sure if you’ve ever seen Hollow Man, but they forget to make sure that Kevin Bacon is actually dead about 17…thousand… times.

Anyway, this new Community Board part of the site with the ‘message board’ is totally just in the experimental stages right now, as I’m looking for some way to continue this site without me having to be completely immersed in it; as I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been more and more absent over the last few months. Been a rough year, and working a few different jobs to try to make up for it. Not to mention trying to write and record some music, so that I can hear the joy of blue led’s, rather than just talking about them. 😉 The blog will still remain the same, and I’m doing my best to be around much more often and to get the posting to be more frequent, more useful, and more clever than the above movie poster would have you believe. hehe No idea if this will work, or even if I want it to work. lol But enough folks have asked over the years, so we’ll see how this goes. Hopefully better than Hollow Man, but if luck is with us, just as hilarious.


Not You

Ever had a team member suggest a song that you knew would never work, and then it totally goes off? Twice? More confirmation that I do not know everything.

Although I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and post some pontification here as if I do know everything. Hey, I’m a worship leader…that’s how we roll. Come on now, you know it’s true:

Congregation wasn’t worshiping. Maybe you chose some poor songs, arranged them wrong, or went off on too many stop-worshiping-and-listen-to-my-capitol-records-is-in-the-congregation-today-vocal-skills tangents? Nope. Spiritual warfare.

Children’s ministry’s angry because the service went too long. Maybe you shouldn’t have given your sermonette during chorus build-up into epic stop number 23? Nope. Message went too long.

Hum in the monitor. Maybe you should’ve gotten the jack on your acoustic fixed? Nope. Sound guy.

Put the capo on the wrong fret? That was the right fret; team just wasn’t in touch with the Spirit.



Things That Are and Should Not Be

You know the stuff that challenges your entire world view just by its very existence? Ya. Here’s the stuff that makes me realize I know nothing:

  • Taylor guitars. They are so uncool, so overused, and way more mass-produced than they used to be. And they sound really, really good.
  • John Mayer. Yep, just him. His tone, his playing…it just plain shouldn’t be.
  • Epiphone Valve Junior selling for $75 and sounding better than so many things that are cooler because they don’t say Epiphone on them.
  • Eminem making records that people buy. A lot of people.
  • This picture:

(Note the mic’d JC120. And yes, I choose to believe he modded it to accept tubes.)

  • The current fascination with Glee.
  • Brad Pitt looking better and younger at 47 than I do at 27.
  • BB King’s tone from a solid state amp.
  • Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. That should be self-explanatory. And ‘pretty cool.’
  • The White Stripes. No bass player. Worst drumming ever. Amazingly catchy songs.
  • That game on the app store where you shoot angry sponge-monsters off cardboard boxes with tennis balls. And the fact that I want to play it more than I want to listen to U2 sometimes. Or live. Same thing.
  • On Raglan Road.
  • The live version of Bad. U2’s Bad. There is no way that song has only two chords.
  • When we had no bassist on Sunday and played an electric set acoustically, but still with drums and electric guitar. (This is wrong on so many levels. Maybe even a moral one.) And folks engage, and people tell you later it was the most they’ve let go and worshiped God in years. ?????!!!!!! Sometimes, the joke’s on us. And that’s a good thing.


Musical Loveliness (Or Something Less Feminine)

I love music. Music, music, music. Here it goes down. Down into my heart.

Or, pretend there was no introduction to this post. That may be the better option.

  • The best amp tech I have ever met, Jerry Blaha, has a new line of amps out. I’ve yet to try one, but if the mods he’s put into amps I’ve owned are any indication of his skill, then these should be pretty fantastic: AC Custom Design Amplifiers. You should buy one. Especially you studio guys, with their recording capabilities. In fact, you guys should buy two. Hopefully I’ll be posting a demo here soon.
  • Becoming re-fascinated with the Analogman Bi-Chorus with deep switch. Mmmmm.
  • Bought something from Behringer. Broke within 5 minutes of exposing it to fresh air and running audio signal through it. I guess that was asking a lot.
  • Ever have those moments where you just need one honest word? On Sunday, we were short a bass player. And in my infinite wisdom and musical skills, I of course know that there is nothing my superior tone cannot do. So I proceed to re-eq my amp, make a chorus sound out of my delay pedals, and play weird inversions on my guitar to make it sound like a bass. It didn’t sound glorious, but I knew it was anyway because I was playing it. The sound guy walked in, and with one look of frightened and bewildered widening eyes from him, I decided it was time for an acoustic set.
  • Very excitedly read a thread on Gear Page the other day about what is the best vacuum cleaner, as I have been having trouble getting our carpets clean. I then realized in horror that I am officially old.
  • You should have a ZVex Super Duper.
  • I normally don’t comment on current events (I like to think that sometimes this is the one place on the life (internet) you can go without having to hear about politics or the latest church scandal), but I can’t help but mention that Rob Bell interview video every website keeps telling me I need to see. Now, the only thing I know about Rob Bell is a couple Nooma videos I saw years ago, which I thought were kind of cheesey. So, I’m not a huge fan, nor do I hate the guy. But the most interesting thing about that video, was all the comments below it of ‘owned’, or what is infinitely worse, ‘*pwned’, or things to that effect. If you think he’s teaching heresy towards your interpretation of the Bible, fine. Speak up. But how is ‘owned’, laughter or making him out to be an enemy, doing any good for him, you, other believers, or the view of Christians as a whole?
  • Also, ‘*pwned’ or ‘teh’ or any of the other internet words that I want to shoot with my Blackout Effectors Musket Fuzz, never do anybody any good. Ever.
  • Of course, the Musket Fuzz didn’t have a pronounced enough midrange for me, so it probably wouldn’t cut through the mix enough to do any real damage anyway.
  • Who here thinks it’s high time we brought back the 1982 drenched in reverb snare sound? Oh yes.
  • Also, not to worry…I have now outlawed autotune. You’re welcome.
  • I hate it when people like themselves too much. Probably because I like myself too much, and think they should definitely like me too much too.
  • At one of the church’s I play at, they have spray-painted the TU-2’s black so as not to be a distraction on stage. I can’t help but think how much they die a little inside every time I bring my pedalboards in.
  • I have never sat down and learned how to play Crazy Train, Brown Eyed Girl, or Mustang Sally. Am I even allowed to call myself a guitarist?
  • Grace is the best.
  • Hey, remember that scene in the trailer for Cowboys and Aliens where Daniel Craig shoots the space ship from the gun attached to his arm? Ya, that’s gonna be awesome. Hoping for the best ‘not-taking-itself-completely-serious’ sci-fi movie since Tremors. I also did the score for it. Except that I’m a liar.


P.S. For those of you who may have gone to Bandcamp, and seen the price drop, that’s so that I no longer have to ask for donations to this site without having anything to give in return. (See the Donate link for more details.) But if you’ve already bought it, please let me know if you’d like the extra money refunded. 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

You know what that means.

The one day a year (ya right…also…not my chair, not my problem) that I can unabashedly talk about U2. You know, the whole Irish thing.

So…some of you have already skipped this post. But there really, really is a reason that some of us love them so. And it’s called melody and ache. Melodies that, in the words of Bono, need to feel inevitable. And I don’t think those melodies are possible unless they come from somewhere inside; rather than ‘trying to write a song.’ (Which, incidentally, I think was the problem with the latest U2 album…their first one not to strike me since October.) And somewhere inside, I think we all have ache. That ache varies from person to person; but I personally believe there is a core ache in all of us…for something more. And I don’t think that will ever be completely quenched this side of Heaven. Embracing that, is what it seems most great art stems from.

Anyway, enough esoteric nonsense…here’s that ache in practice; and with some lesser known songs from the band that invented love. And delay. Mutually inclusive. And if you cite examples of Jimmy Page using delay before Edge was in junior high, I will ignore them. 😉 As I will any examples of love prior to 1978. Also, there is a little tribute towards the bottom that I promised myself I would not post. But it is St. Patrick’s Day. And up it goes.

Edge’s Solo Album (or, more aptly, Edge, Michael Brook, and Sinead O’Conner’s album…which is how music should just always be):

Not sure how you can improve on Joshua Tree, but I’ve always felt this song would’ve fit perfectly right before One Tree Hill:

More from the solo album. Loveliness:

Boots, as it should have been:

And of course, Passengers:

And, how can a post about U2 go on without these three:

I promise you, if you’ve never seen this, it’s worth waiting through the ad:

And lastly…scared to post this, but I think the community is strong enough here that you’ll all be kind. lol 😉 Been gone a tad…my girlfriend (who is also my wife 😉 ), completely surprised me and took me to Las Vegas for a few days for my birthday. She planned out everything, paid for everything herself, found us what is basically a vegan, nature-based Coldstone, and even watched and made fun of with me the movie Eraser…which we now know to be seventeen hundred hours long. Sorry, but I really, really had to brag about my gal for a little bit there.

She also helped me find an alley off Fremont Street and sang the choir part to Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for, in honor of the most glorious music video of all time and St. Patrick’s Day, as well as Adam Clayton’s birthday last Saturday. (I mean, I don’t know that.) And then before we could even start filming the best tribute ever, that was gonna make us the next stars of whenever U2 gets desperate enough to be on Glee, we saw this wacko in the same alley! So we filmed him anyway. 😉

This video is the reason I play guitar. And key everything 800 steps lower when I need to sing. But I did it for love. I did it for U2. Hey man, I grab life by the throat and live it! (Or, by the strained vocal chords, more likely.) Oh, and how awesome is my wife? Best ever. That’s the answer to that question I just asked even though I’m the only one who has the password to sign in and post here. hehe And if you don’t know what’s going on, it’s the worst version ever of this:

(And look at that! They just disabled embedding for that video. Whew! Good thing you have mine. 😉 )

So…even if you don’t like U2 (and if you don’t, not sure if you’d even make it to this part), there is something to be said for melody. Not style, not effects, not even harmonic structure. That stuff’s all important; but used to enhance an ‘inevitable’ melody, not to replace it or to distract from a sub-par one. And those melodies need to come from someplace real, and from someplace deep. If they can’t, don’t fake it. Come back and write the next day. And for those of you writing to display some attribute of God…not faking it for us is of even more importance; and for some reason, amongst those circles, it seems to get faked more often. If it’s not real for you yet, make it real. Not the song, but your life.

Melodies must come from love, and love comes from U2. That’s pretty much the point of this post.


P.S. Just got an email from Mr. Robert Dixon, saying he was painting Irish green on my guitar on St. Patrick’s Day. That pretty much makes the whole guitar being broken thing worth it right there. 😀 Absolutely awesome.

Arion Pedals!!! (Oh, and Part 1 to Creating Ambient Sounds)

Alright, so enough of all this ‘new ambient album’ and ‘actually creating music with the gear you have’ junk. Time to get back to what’s really important. And that is delay.

It rules guitarists with an iron fist. It is their mistress, and it is their haunted soul. At night, if the settings weren’t quite right at the gig, it rouses them violently from sleep with torment in their souls. (That part’s true.) Kingdoms (of tone) rise and fall and bend to its will. It is the siren. It is the dryad. It is the beautiful cruelty. It is delay.

And you can get them for cheap, which is even better! Enter the mistress Arion. Back in the ’80’s, they made these gloriously lush analog circuits that sounded better than almost anything else out there, and then housed them in the cheapest plastic boxes they could find. And here’s the thing…they are pretty much the secret to ambient swells. Now, this post may bore some of you, and if so, I humbly offer you the video at the bottom of this post. But here’s the serious thing: this blog has kind of become a circus of self-promotion the last few days (or at least it feels like it to me…I’m stoked to finally be able to release an album of my music, but at the same time…it kind of feels gross to mention it; and good…it’s very odd), and so I really wanted to work hard on a post that mattered, and might be of some help to a few people. And as requests continually come in as to what pedal settings you need to do ambient swells and ambient music, I figured that’d be a good place to start. So this will be part 1 of creating ambient music, and we’re going to start with the basics. Ambient swells, two delays, and a phaser.

The Basics

A digital delay capable of at least 1 second of delay time, and a volume knob.

The Secrets

A washy phaser before the delay, and a fast-set, dark analog delay after the delay.

The Extra Love

A Multi-tap fast setting spacious delay after the first digital delay, a volume pedal, and, if not deemed overused yet, a reverb pedal with a shimmer setting. And a Hartman Germanium Fuzz. 🙂

And How to Do Ambient Swells:

That’s pretty much all you need, at the basic level. Obviously, there are eventual embellishments. But that’s for later videos. In this video, you can hear how the Arion pedals, more specifically the SAD-1, just inject magic onto the ends of the swells. Part 2 will be coming soon, and it will deal with the chord voicings to create ambient music. For now, we’re dealing with the basic building blocks you will need for those chords. And in case you missed them, here are the pedal’s ambient settings. These, as well as the stuff I did in the video, are by no means the only way to do ambient music, or even swells. Everyone’s ears, tastes, hands, and gear are different. These might be good to use as a launching board for your own creativity. 🙂

Boss DD20 Ambient Swell Setting:

Arion SAD-1 Ambient Wash Setting:

Arion SPH-1 Ambient Setting:

Damage Control Timeline Ambient Background Multitap Setting:

Behringer RV600 Ambient Shimmer Setting (for use within a parallel looper):

(And on this one, if you don’t use it in a parallel looper, just turn the mix down to taste.)

Hopefully this will be somewhat of a help in creating ambient music. And more importantly, in buying, using, playing…and loving…delay.


P.S. Alright for those of you, who either hate ambient swells and delay (meaning you pretty much hate life 😉 ), or you’re way past all of this, or you actually read the whole post and got to this place……we live in a physical world, and in that physical world, somehow, this video exists:

Best part is 2:35. So matter-of-fact.

P.S.S. (Yes, I know.) I promised I would give the real reason for working so hard to release an album. And it is this:

This is Edge. (It’s frightening to think how many things in my life he is the reason for.) When he was 26, he released this:

I turn 27 next week. I needed something. Anything. So I worked my keyster (what is going on) off to release this:

…at the same age Edge released Joshua Tree. So this is my Joshua Tree. Please listen to my Joshua Tree to make me feel better:

Karl’s Joshua Tree

Thus far, Edge’s Joshua Tree has outsold mine by 99.9713%. But I didn’t use a compressor pedal on the album, so I think that makes us about even. In my mind. Which is all that matters. But still…listen to the album, and together we can make take that number down to 99.9712%. I believe it can happen.

And this has probably been the saddest thing I have ever written. Except that I mentioned The Joshua Tree, which just made me turn it on, and the world is somehow magically all better within 3 seconds of that first swelled D chord. 😀

This also makes my world magically better:

The Joshua Tree for guitarists.

New Ambient Album Release

The new album is finished, released, and available for download. Here’s a little promo I recorded. Oh ya. I’m taking this seriously.

😉 Alright, so that one’s just for fun. Here’s the thing. I’m pretty stoked to finally collect all my songs in one place and have something to show my future grandkids whilst saying, ‘See? That’s why grandpappy (which is what I will call myself) says ‘tubes’ and ‘Matchless’ so often.’ I think it’ll be a cool release, and hopefully will bring some enjoyment and maybe more to some folks. But did Steve Jordan produce it? No. Is the next Midnight Train on it? No. Are there better ambient guitarists out there? Yes. Probably all of them. So, as I’m promoting something I’m excited about, I also want to make sure to keep a healthy dose of reality.

But the album really is released, and here’s all the info. I never know who comes to this blog for what, so hopefully with all this info, there will be something useful to someone, even if you couldn’t care less about ambient music.


In order to preserve the true sonic quality of the moving airwaves as they exist in nature, I recorded this completely analogue, and it is only available on hand-etched vinyl records from Switzerland. Just kidding.

and (which pretty much just links to Bandcamp)

It will, someday, be released on iTunes, but I think they are having trouble with one of the, uh, shall we say ‘longer’ tracks; and the more I looked into Bandcamp, the more I liked their independent feel. So, Bandcamp for now.

Dual Album

The Morning We Wake. 14 tracks, 80 minutes, with all tracks available individually. With the purchase of the full album, you also get a second album; it’s the entire first album on one track, with extra compositions that modulate each song into the next for 80 minutes of non-stop music.


I’ve been experimenting over the last year with extremely simple recording techniques. Just getting the best source sound possible, and then keeping the recording out of the way. So there are no post-effects, no compression…just the sound that came out of the amp. It’s kind of a vintage way to do things, but folks are always talking about getting the ‘live’ sound of vintage recordings, and I figured I’d try to do it by recording, well, live. Instead of using the ‘White Album’ plugin.


There’s a lot of different gear spread out on this collection. The newer recordings, overdubs, and modulation tracks are all the newer, cheaper gear that came after that fateful October hailstorm. Recorded, there is a difference. Both in noise floor, and in overall tone. So, as much as I’m an advocate of finding cheaper gear that works for you, there is always some truth to the moniker ‘You get what you pay for.’ Not all the truth, but definitely a good portion of truth.

The Actual Promo Vid (This is so you can hear a song, remember it, and go, ‘Hey, I liked that. I thought he was just demo’ing a delay pedal.’ And then buy the song so that I can buy another delay pedal. 😉 )

New Song (Only the last portion of this is actually on the record. But I get asked a lot about some of the subtle layering in songs, so I figured I’d show it all. And yes, that is coming through the Matchless. There is no guitar that amp doesn’t like. I may actually switch to a washboard pretty soon here to save money.)

So there ya go. This post may be completely worthless to some of you, which is totally understandable. But I would welcome any support. If for no other reason than to encourage me in this strange new world of actually writing and playing music, rather than surfing the internet all day looking for gear to buy with which to write music that will never be written because I’m too busy surfing the internet looking for gear with which to write it. Again, this blog will stay as it always has, with certain updates on my ambient project, as it pertains to ‘Guitar’ and ‘Worship’ as a whole. The majority of subsequent composition projects info and such will be relayed via:

(I hesitated to have my name be a dot com, but in the end, that sounded a whole lot less cheesey than any ‘band name’ I could come up with. All the good ones are taken. Thanks, Passengers. So for now, I’m just me.)

And I know that this post was self-promotion, but I’ve learned over the last few years that unfortunately, barring accidentally planning a trip to Britain to eat lunch at the cafe Gwyneth Paltrow likes so you can slip a cd into her purse marked ‘Give to Chris’, it is sometimes the only way to get stuff done. But I truly hope that this album will inspire you a bit through its sounds, thoughts, and heart. And for those of you who don’t like the sounds, I hope at least that it can inspire you to continue to write and make music, so we can all create sounds just a little bit more, and buy gear just a little bit less.

Ah, who am I kidding? What’s the coolest reverb pedal this week on Gear Page? I’m getting one.


Geekin’ Out, Digital Goodness & Worship

Alright, so here’s the geekin’ out part. These two vocalists and frontmen on the same stage?! Singing over the catchiest riff this side of Purple Haze? Yes, geekin’ out:

Now if only Tom Smith could ever get on stage with them, I think the world would implode:

Which leads directly into my gift to you all. After the last post, I figure I owe some digital-ness sounding good. Although, there may be an analog Moog mixed in there somewhere. But 3 of the 4 members play digital keyboards at some point in this video. And no guitars! I know, unthinkable:

As a side note, or maybe this should be the full point, we’d do well to have half the passion of these three guys as we sing this weekend to a God we believe to have saved us. Not that girls, sparkly vampires, and hoping people’s lives are good are all necessarily bad things. But that type of heartfelt passion is strangely compelling and infective, especially when it’s for a loving Creator. I’m not there right now, but I’m gonna try to be.