Reverb Pedal Shootout

Reverb Pedal Shootout. Kind of girlie. I mean, I know “post-rock” is the new cool thing, and reverb is great for “post-rock”; but even the fact that we’re calling it “post-rock”, means that we’re bordering on the whole ‘hanging out with the ladies in the high school herd, listening to Alanis Morissette, while the rest of the guys play basketball” thing. Enter Andy Garcia. “I got him.” Shootout now automatically cooler. I mean, he Angus-Young-Rockstar-slid, saved a baby, and still shot the bad guy. Because of course, those are the types of things that really happened during Prohibition. So unrealistic…and so cool.

(By the way…true story, here…mentioning listening to Alanis Morissette was just too much for me, and my iTunes is now open. “How ’bout getting off of these antibiotics…” Yep. Maybe the problem here isn’t the reverb. Quick! Look at Andy Garcia again!)

So now that Andy Garcia has saved the masculinity of post-rock, reverb shootout time!

The Players

–Strymon Blue Sky
–Neunaber Wet (I refuse to capitalize that)
–Dr. Scientist Reverberator
–Behringer RV600
–Morgan Shadow Verb

The Base Tone

Godin SD strat(ish)–>Matchless C30–>Celestion Blue mic’d

Other Pedals Used

–Damage Control Timeline
–MythFX Minotaur (yes, that’s what it’s called)
–Fryette Valvulator, as I am running through my board in this shootout in order to show the reaction of the verbs to other pedals

Possible Biases

–The Neunaber and the Strymon will sell the easiest, so it’d be great not to like them.

–I’ve owned the Strymon before, and did not like it so much.

–The Dr. Scientist makes me want to sing “You…doin’ that thing you dooooo” every time I look at it. (Which is a good thing.)

–The Morgan lights up.

The Chapter Listing

0:00 Quick Comparison
0:57 Intro of Pedals
1:34 Clean Tone
2:05 Ambient Reverb Sound Comparison
4:13 Blue Sky Modulation Mode
4:49 Spring Reverb Sound Settings
5:35 Spring Reverb Sound Comparison
6:39 Shimmer Settings on Behringer and Strymon
7:00 Shimmer Comparison on Behringer and Strymon
8:25 Ambient Reverb Sound Settings
8:56 Adding to Delayed Swells Comparison
11:18 Arena Rock Reverb Comparison (oh ya)

The Shootout!
With the battle cry, ‘Remember Andy Garcia!



The Last Pedal Standing

If you use a Strymon pedal, you’re cheating. Gone are the days of actually having to have knowledge of pedals and tone and gear to get a pedal to sound good. Just press the on switch. Okay, so there’s some tweaking required…I did adjust the high and low dampening controls to match my amp, but…I was blown away by this pedal. And yes, I did not like the one I had last year. More on that below. But, the Blue Sky, for ambient reverbs, was left standing over the others.

Honourable mention to the Neunaber Wet, which sounded absolutely fantastic. If it had spillover, it might have been a lot closer of a call.

For a simple classic spring reverb sound, last pedal standing was probably the Morgan. Not that the Strymon didn’t do this well, but there’s something special about what that Morgan adds.

The Detailed Results

–Morgan Shadow Fuzz

Fabulous. Incredible spring reverb; but doesn’t do much else. Although, with the verb all the way up, it’s ambient sounds were actually very surprising for a one-knob pedal built as just as spring reverb to throw in an amp’s effects loop. Hats off to this pedal.

On a technical note, I found out from Joe that this is a digital pedal. (That may matter to some folks, for good or for bad.) Also, it needs for than 100mA to run happily.

–Dr. Scientist Reverberator

Huh. Interesting sounds. I really did not like this pedal at first. I’ve owned his Tremolessence, and it’s my favorite ever tremolo. So I had high hopes on this one, and to be completely honest…this is the one I had made space on my board for. But the sounds were just…weird. Almost like a ring modulator in a cave. However, the more I played it and thought about it, if you’re into some of the odd, more off-the-beaten path sounds, this may be an awesome pedal for that. Especially if you have another pedal for more traditional reverb sounds.

Lastly, this pedal was very noisy on a 100mA outlet from the PP2+. It was a bit quieter on the 250mA outlet, and quieter still on a separate adapter. But overall, still the noisiest of the five. Also, changing the settings knob while the pedal is engaged results in not just a splash, but a huge splash. Frightens me. Now, it is possible that I got a bad one; and Dr. Scientist has great customer service. But from reading his site, I do believe this is just how the pedal is. So, definitely not for me, but might be the cool off-the-wall pedal some guitarists are looking for.

–Neunaber Wet

Wow. Some of the best ambient sounds ever. Can actually double as a slow gear, a delay for swells, and that ambient sound you just couldn’t get anywhere else. I’m actually holding out for what exists in my mind as the upcoming Wet 2, with stereo outs, spillover, and a shimmer option.

The website for this pedal says that its decay is different than any other reverb pedal. Which is usually just sales talk. But it really is; and I think that comes through in the video. Kind of in a class of its own as far as sound goes.

–Behringer RV600

Okay, seriously. For 50 bucks new? This thing really, really held its own. Granted, I’ve owned it for a while and only used the modes I knew to be good in this shootout, but still. The shimmer does fritz out a bit on the bassier frequencies, but it’s actually a cool effect for some layers. Not nearly as lush sounding as the Wet or the Strymon, but I’d actually own this over the Dr. Scientist and a lot of other verb pedals I’ve tried.

It is a little bit noisy, and does convert your dry signal using AD/DA converters. The Dr. Scientist, Strymon, and Wet do not. From what Joe said, I think the Morgan does, but yikes…it does it really well! So with the Behringer, you probably want to run it in a parallel looper for the best dynamic results. But again, very impressed with this Behringer…except for the noise. That’s what inspired this shootout in the first place, as on extreme settings which I’ve been using lately in recordings, the noise floor is pretty high. Also, a weird thing I just noticed when using it outside a loop: with the spillover switch engaged, the mix knob works even when the pedal is off. So if you have spillover on, and you’re using this full mix, you have no guitar sound when you turn the pedal off. Very odd. But, for the price, you do get a great sounding reverb; just a couple things you have to work around.

–Strymon Blue Sky

So. It’s not really a secret that I owned one of these pedals last year when they first came out, and sold it within the hour. Or rather, it was a secret for about a year, as Strymon are great people, were very gracious to me in the months after my original Timeline demo’s first went up on youtube, and I did not want to post a bad review. But eventually, it got out. However, here’s what made me try it again: Strymon is the only company actually listening to what the players want. It’s the only reverb out there that has this much tweakability, stereo outs, shimmer, an auxiliary preset, spillover, an analog dry path, and a great noise/signal ratio. So as my musical needs began to change towards needing more reverb in current projects, I figured that even if it still sounded like I remembered it to, it might just be worth it.

And it did not sound like I remembered it to. It sounded like love.

I’ve outlined possible scenario’s for why the first Blue Sky I owned did not sound good:

A) I got a bad one. Unlikely, but always possible.

B) I’m an idiot. Likely, and not only always possible, but also quite plausible.

C) My cables were plugged in opposite of the direction their positively charged ions naturally want to flow. ;) (That’s definitely not it.)

D) Ear fatigue. (I don’t know…I hear every tonal mistake ever, blamed on this; so figured I’d give it a shot.)

Actually, as much as all of those I guess could have happened, the real reason is more than likely that I had originally wanted the Strymon’s shimmer mode to replace my POG/RV3 tandem for shimmer in order to free up some board space. As such, I had an idea in my head of what the Blue Sky would sound like. And it did not sound like that. But because of that preconceived sound, I probably couldn’t get past it enough to hear what it actually sounded like. Now, a year later, I know that if I want that dirty/weird/cool POG/RV3 shimmer sound, I need to go back to my POG/RV3. But my reverb needs have changed enough to where now I can actually use what the Strymon sounds like to my advantage, even though it doesn’t replace the sound of the POG and RV3. I know; much more boring explanation. The truth is usually way less exciting than anything else. So let’s go with directional cables. ;)

But the Blue Sky…possibly the perfect reverb. And you’re cheating if you use one. In actuality, that cheating may be a great thing, as we can then once again focus on actually making music, rather than tone. Not that focusing on tone is bad, but you know that feeling when you finally dial in everything to sound just as you wish, and you can then just happily use your tone to help you create great music? That’s what the Blue Sky is like.

So, whichever one of these pedals sounds best to you, go get one; and then use it to tell stories with beautiful music.

Splendid.
Karl.

Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending (Part 4)

You chose:

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.’

(And if you couldn’t possibly be more confused as to what is going on right now than if you were in the front row at a John Mayer concert and just heard him rip out the most toneful solo ever that you know has the haunting mids, chewy harmonic swirl, and four-dimensional organic transparency that is only made possible by the boutique tone of a Klon, Ethos, or Cornish, only to stare in horror at the bright non-boutique red led glow of a Boss Blues Driver, this is part 4 of the Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending series. Back by popular demand. And because this series has changed the world. (No, it hasn’t.) Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be found…by, well…clicking on the previous 1, 2, or 3.)

So here goes part 4! I give the scenario, and you get to choose whichever ending you like! Just like those books when you were a kid. I still remember having one where I was a baseball player, and a bear was chasing me, and I had to choose the ending where I run down a mountain because supposedly bears can’t run downhill? Not sure if that’s true, but to this day, when in forests (you know, walking around, getting tonal inspiration from nature and stuff ;) ), I still look for downhill slopes to run down in case a bear comes…just in case that’s true. Where’s Dwight when you need him.

Alright, without any further ado…

———————————-

You chose:

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.’

…Slowly the worship leader’s head starts to rise. The one eye that you can see through his hair stares into yours with new hope. He tells you it is a brilliant idea. You know that already. All worship leaders love U2. You know the old Bono joke, the one that ends with ‘God doesn’t think He’s Bono?’ It can also be adapted to worship leaders. What’s the difference between Bono and a worship leader? Bono doesn’t think he’s every worship leader. It’s this mentality that you were counting on. With the deliberation of an original Boss Slow Gear pedal, the worship leader moves stealthily towards you and embraces you with a hug he’s studied Bono give to Edge. But you break abruptly from the embrace; there is work to be done.

Without a word, you reach into the ankle holster of your old man loafers, pull out the Line 6 Echo Park, and hand it to the keyboardist. He’ll need it so that his intro can support your guitar part properly. You pull the drummer away from the bassist…prayer can wait. You explain to him that he is to hit the kick drum on each quarter note, and nowhere else…like Larry Mullen Jr. does. When the drummer refers to the beat of the song and explains that the kick drum is actually doing something entirely different, you do not understand the question. Quarter notes. U2. Worship. That is the formula. It must not be strayed from.

You walk into the bathroom in order to too loudly practice your background vocals in an acoustically lush environment. If only the background singer cared this much about her tone.

What seems like hours go by as you wait. You hear the pastor tell the same joke he told last service. And then the same follow-up joke about ‘that just coming to him.’ You’re getting nervous. This is it; the moment you’ve been waiting for. The moment the church at large has been waiting for! The moment when a U2 song is finally played for a worship service! It’s groundbreaking. You are certain something this cutting edge has never before been attempted.

The worship leader returns from making sheet music copies……in G, because he wants to capo 7. No matter; you grab a pen and transpose everyone’s music with lightning speed. You say the notes out loud as you write them so that everyone will know that you are skilled in the art of music theory; even though the bass player has already grabbed his sheet music in G, and is practicing the song perfectly in D.

Suddenly you hear it! The pastor has started his closing prayer. Only 15 minutes left! Somberly, you fall into line with the rest of the team, preparing to take the stage and make church history. ‘Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the church; George Whitefield leads the first Great Awakening; medium-sized church plays an eleven-year-old U2 song.’ It flowed perfectly.

You pick up your guitar, hit the 17 switches you need to hit in order for the guitar to make sound, and launch into the greatest cover rendition of Beautiful Day that has ever…nay…will ever…exist. You wonder if the congregation can even tell the difference between your tone and that of Edge. There must be tears already! It has to be. The song is driving, your delay is set perfectly…the worship must just be flowing like……wait. You open your eyes. It can’t be. Not one tear. Not one raised hand! No one on their knees, no one even singing, and…no! Did that lady just get up to go get her kid?! The blank stares surround you…they close in. Frantically, your eyes dart around the room looking for one person looking into their lap with the familiar glow on their face from an iPhone. At least you can tell yourself that they’ve already taken a picture of you and are uploading it to Facebook with the caption of ‘Spirit-filled guitar-playing at church this morning!’ But no! Not even that! You feel your world start to implode in upon itself. All that you know is fading…and fading fast! You must do something! Quick as the unchangeable speed on the modulation setting of a Boss DD7, you……

A) Motion for the band to back off a bit, step up to your microphone, and give a prayer to God that is really a hidden message of guilt to the church for not worshiping.

B) Glare at the soundguy. Obviously the mix must be terribly off.

C) Look down at your pedalboard to make sure you didn’t accidentally turn your tubescreamer on instead of your Tim. Because that tonal difference has been proven historically to be a huge factor in whether people sing or not.

D) Grab your microphone and frantically say, ‘Come on church!’, ‘Let’s go choir!’, ‘Let’s lift up a shout of praise, come on now!’, or any of the other stock worship leader sayings that have the surface meaning of singing to God, and the secret meaning of, ‘No one is singing, I’m scared.’

E) Finish the song how it is, and look forward to the juicy 2-hour lunch conversation at Chipotle on the church credit card with the worship team, discussing the spiritual shortcomings of every modern-day church attender except for yourself.

F) Continue reveling in your sweet, sweet tone. Wait, are people supposed to be singing along?

G) Subtly change the background vocal of ‘Daaaaaay’ to ‘Saaaaaaaavior.’

H) Drop out on your guitar until the worship leader is forced to bring the dynamics way down, and then grab your mic and lay into the congregation for letting the spiritual warfare overtake their desire to worship.

I) Start doing the cliche worship rockstar guitarist moves, trying to show how into the worship you are. Raise your ring and bracelet-clad hand as a fist a few times right on the punchy downbeats. Keep one eye partway open to see if any of that is eliciting a response from the congregation. If it is not, move on to worship rockstar guitarist move #2…bend your knees slightly forward and lean back, strumming the guitar downward with a straight wrist and big arm movements, while turning your head back towards the drummer. If that still doesn’t work, move on to move #3. And so forth.

J) Convince yourself that they’re worshiping ‘on the inside.’

K) Make a mental note to search ebay for an El Capistan delay when you get home. That must be it.

L) Take the mic and give a sermon-ette; obviously the pastor’s just didn’t cut it.

M) Look down at your pedalboard and realize you forgot to turn your delay on. That’ll do it.

N) Soberly realize that maybe…just maybe…their lack of an outward display of worship may have more to do with your song choice, your lyrics choice, your lack of an easily singable melody, you’re choosing a song because of how cool it will look to your worship leader friends on your blog or because it’s the next greatest hit, your over-played guitar part, your heart behind why you’re even up on stage in the first place, or any myriad of reasons; not necessarily the heart of every single member of the congregation being in the wrong place. Then motion to the band, tastefully fade the song out, and let the worship leader end the set acoustically with ‘I Love You Lord’ or whatever song your congregation might actually know and be able to sing to. Humbly leave the stage, take a look at yourself first, learn from it, laugh at yourself, and then come back and hit it again with renewed passion and focus for God next week.

And as always, you can’t choose the last one. ;)

And also, for what it’s worth, as I was writing a couple of these trying to be funny, I ended up going, ‘Ouch. I did that last week.’ :)

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Also, I was asked to post this here, so here it is! There’s a new compilation album available for download called ‘Hope for Japan.’ I contributed a track, as well as many other wonderful ambient musicians, including a few of whom read this blog and are part of the community here. All proceeds go to the Red Cross to support the relief efforts in Japan. So if you perhaps feel like donating and getting some music in the process, here is the link:

Hope for Japan on Bandcamp

This is an excerpt from the track I recorded:

I wrote this specifically for this project, and it will not be available anywhere but on this compilation, in order to hopefully help promote donations to Japan. More info on my new Facebook Music page here. Thank you everyone, for your support!

A Little Less Cynicism, & a Little More Love

Time for the link love to people I love……in a very masculine, awkward-Christian-guy-hug kind of way. I usually do this once every fall. But this last year was a really crazy one, and I missed it. So, here’s the catch-up love. And this time, it’s not just my blogroll, but also a few folks who have helped restore this year’s balance between cynicism and optimism.

Cynicism is a good thing. It keeps you on your toes mentally, and helps you not be, as the apostle Paul wrote to Ephesus, tossed around by every new doctrine and new post-emergent-leadership-social-gospel-bobloblaw book that comes out. Cynicism is what causes you to realize that unfortunately, just because you heard it on Christian radio, does not mean it’s an automatic ‘in’ for worship. You have to read the lyrics. And I think we could probably use more of that in the church. I cannot tell you how many songs I’ve seen on setlists with questionable theology in the lyrics, and a worship leader who has memorized the lyrics as a string of vowel and consonant sounds, but has not actually read them. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been that worship leader. It’s really easy to say, ‘Of course the lyrics are theologically accurate! Their band name is Jesus Culture for crying out loud!’ It’s at this juncture that cynicism hopefully comes to the rescue. And that’s nothing against Jesus Culture. But…and judging from some recent experiences, this may come as a shock to some of you…Jesus Culture is not Jesus. Hillsong is not Jesus. They are going to get some things wrong. And conversely, when they do, does that make them heretics? Nope. Makes them people. However, them being people doesn’t let us off the hook for failing to study the theology behind the songs before we put them in a setlist because that chorus is so ‘epic’, and people will really get into it, and it’s in ‘C’, so it’ll flow right out of ‘How Great is our God.’

However, cynicism is not an end in and of itself. It is a tool. A tool that needs to be balanced with a little bit of joy, love, and some trust in people. And that can be hard to do. It is difficult not to let cynicism run out of control, when it is very difficult to trust people. The church four hours away who coerced me to come lead worship, and two months later still hasn’t reimbursed me for gas. Gas costing 9/10 of a cent more than whatever you think the price is. The latest pastor to be having an affair whilst writing his book on marriage. The ‘need-money-for-a-bus-fare-but-the-bus-needs-your-jumper-cables-and-I’m-just-3-dollars-short-for-gas-and-I-gotta-feed-my-kids guy.’ It’s easy to let cynicism run away with you, unchecked. The problem with that is that, although you might never get taken and you might always be right, you will definitely always be bitter, unhappy, and less innocent than you were intended to be. In fact, it’s probably good to get taken for a ride every once in a while. ;) Gives us something to laugh about later; and a good-natured laugh at oneself is the best way to keep cynicism in check. It’s very fun also.

And every year, I feel like I need to re-balance myself between cynicism and love. So this is my love to you, all you awesome people who are on my blogroll and who constantly help restore my trust in people. (And if you’re not on my blogroll, just email me here and I’ll get you on!) And especially to the folks at the bottom of this list who have personally, made me go, Whoa! They’re the real deal (without the ear-biting…sorry, extreme ’90′s reference…as was the word ‘extreme’…yikes), and I know they’re real because they’re not walking around yelling, ‘Hey everyone! Come see how authentic I am!’ Because, folks, if you’re trying to be authentic, you’re not authentic. Read Micah 6:8, do it, and then do it so much you forget you’re even doing it. That’s authentic.


(This is also authentic. Just tell it like it is. Well, actually when I went back and looked over this post, it looked like one big block of text. And I figured, ‘This needs a picture.’ And I cannot think of a better picture than this.)

So without further ado, here’s a little link love for you folks. You’ll notice that some of them have not updated their blogs in a while. I’m hoping this will help them. Because if there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s blogging. Right? ;)

  • A Passionate Apathy – this is Andy. He is the most humble person I’ve ever met. Also, a good friend and really, really good bassist. I go to Andy when I need lovely basslines on a Sunday, when I need wisdom, or when I need to be inspired by someone who ‘gets it’, as far as church and God go. Read his posts, because he’s rad.
  • Accidental Academic – this is Cam’s blog. Cam comments here from time to time, and is a very knowledgable individual when it comes to worship music, and worship leading. I look forward to his insights. Also, if you go to his page, you get to hear a John Mayer song. And how can that be a bad thing?
  • Alex McLean – Alex and I go way back. Way back to me playing metal riffs on stage, and him inviting me over for dinner with the secret plan of having Peter Gabriel and U2 dvd’s playing in the background. And it worked. Probably a little too well. Alex is probably one of the most intuitive guys I know when it comes to church planting and production. He’s also an excellent drummer, and maybe the best acoustic finger-picker ever. Also a former boss (yep), and a good friend.
  • Analog Ambience – this is the Southern California version of Guy Berryman. That’s Coldplay’s bassist. Tim has been a close friend for years, and one of my favorite bassists to play with. He gets worship music, and more importantly, is the guy who’d probably give you his bass and his spot on the worship team without a second’s hesitation. He’s that nice, and that cool. Great posts over on his blog, so definitely go there.
  • Baggas Blog – this is Paul from Australia. I am convinced that he is the nicest man on that continent. Probably this one, too. He also has an enormous pedalboard. It’s worth it to check out his blog just for that, and for his insights into worship music. Great guy, and great blog.
  • Behind The Mixer – Chris runs the best site on worship sound that ever existed. I go there for info all the time. If you’re a sound tech, or more importantly, a worship leader looking to bring cohesiveness to your team by understanding sound, this is a must-read.
  • Booze and Blues – killer blog on all things tone…and drinks. Some awesome pedals pop up there, and I’m always stoked to see what’s next!
  • Broken Headstock – every time I read something by Philip at his blog here, I want to be him. He’s better at tone than me, has cooler gear, actually knows the tech stuff behind his gear, and is wittier in his facebook posts. This one’s a great read for you guitarists out there.
  • Chris Stout – Chris is a great friend, and we’ve worked together for a long time. One of the most gifted sound techs I have ever met. Also, he’ll put you to shame with his service. There was a time when he was putting in more hours with the church than I was…and he was volunteering. Pretty much the best guy ever.
  • Confessions of a Wanna-be Guitar Player – this is one of the coolest blogs on the net. He goes by Gtr1ab, and actually builds guitars. Great shots of his builds, as well as probably the most consistently updated blog of any guitar blog on the internet. Great guy, too!
  • Consuming Worship – awesome site on all things worship. If there’s something you’re looking for, be it setlists, discussion, theology, it’s all here. Really killer layout too.
  • Contemplative Creativity – this…is a good site. A really good site. Every time I go here, I wonder why I don’t go more often. Tons of good info, and very well-written also. Brings up a lot of good ideas, and discussions.
  • Cool Musings – this site is by Randy, a worship leader who comments here from time to time. Randy has a lot of wisdom, and I always look forward to his views on worship, music, and worship leading. He also runs stereo, so you know it’s gonna be a good site.
  • Crazy Guitars – there are crazy guitars here. Imagine that. But seriously…I go here to look at some spectacular guitars, and you should too. Very well done site, too!
  • Dan Byron – killer editorial content on all things. I go here to get gear ideas, youtube videos, you name it. Well-written, and always entertaining!
  • Electric Community – one of the most knowledgable tone dudes I know. Mike really gets tone, equipment, and how to get that equipment to make the tones. Great content here for guitarists!
  • Elevated Praise – really cool blog from Steven with a lot of worship ideas. At one time, there was talk of forming a sort of worship circle here where we could all critique and help one another. Definitely go here and check it out!
  • Erin Wible – amazing guitar player, who…okay this is crazy…put his guitar down to lead junior high ministry. That’s when you know it’s really God talking. haha Incredibly gifted guitarist, and an even better servant of God. Definitely check out what he has to say.
  • Everybody Lies – great site deconstructing a lot of the questionable stuff in the modern church. Some great satire, some killer honesty, and some awesome posts that always make you think. Check it out!
  • Fred McKinnon – worship leader with a passion for community. There’s a lot of community and opportunity to join in over here. One of the most well-written and well-thought-out worship blogs in internet world. You’ll go there and realize I don’t know what I’m doing. Check him out, and join in!
  • Greg Jones Music – Greg is a very affluent and experienced guitar virtuoso. He always sparks lively conversations, and has a lot of great views on worship and worship music. Check his site out for some great music and content.
  • Greg Loesch (compulsiveguile) – this is a great site…that I do not understand. I’m just not smart enough. But for you tech folks out there, this might just be internet gold. Great writing, and lots of cool products that I wish I had even though I don’t know what I’d do with them!
  • Holokinesis – some great music from some great folks. Check them out for…well…some great music from some great folks!
  • Jefferson Music – Jeff is a local worship leader, who’s got some incredible talent. Vocals, acoustic, and a great sense of leading a congregation. He’s a good friend too, and we play together quite often. Check out his site for some of his original music. And there may just be some older videos on there…sporting perhaps a pre-Matchless and pre-vegan…uh…me. ;)
  • Jeremiah Jones Music – Jeremiah comments here every once in a while, and he really, really ‘gets it.’ His site has some awesome worship info, worship music, and he is one of the most humble folks I’ve ever met. He’s done some pretty impressive stuff in the worship music industry, but he doesn’t act like it. Definitely go to his site.
  • Jon Batarse – Jon is an old friend from grade school, and our paths just constantly cross. He’s a got a great blog, with some really in depth Christian insight, as well as off-shoots into some service-related blogs. Check him out for sure!
  • Lakeshore Vineyard Worship Team – the church website for a really cool guy named Matt. Matt, I forgot why I have your church on my blogroll! haha But you’re cool!
  • Les Paul Player Doctor – awesome site about guitar effects, gear, and using them in a worship context. Very well-written, thought-out, and with lots of great nuts and bolts information, such as how to set up a pedalboard. Larry runs this, and it’s awesome!!
  • Let’s Play Guitar – beautiful website with a really cool wood-ish background that looks like tone. Nate does a great job with this one, and there’s lots of great tonal musings and gear info. Updated often, too!
  • Maple Neck – probably one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met. Really, really understands tone and music. You’ll know, because when you see his comments here, they’re always right on the money. His blog is fantastic, and almost every post…I wish I had come up with. Incredible blog, and highly recommended!
  • Media Reviewed – great blog with reviews on media, music, and the arts. I really trust Jeff’s judgement, so I enjoy reading what he has to say about the arts. Great site.
  • Modern Worship Dude – awesome site on, well, modern worship. There’s some great articles on worship in general, and how it is to be used and viewed within the modern church. Very intelligent site, and I’d recommend it!
  • My Worship Revolution – Bobby is one of the coolest and most real worship leaders you’ll ever want to meet. Definitely check him out, and show your support for a church-planter stoked about reaching people no matter what the cost.
  • Nikao – you have never met someone with more off-the-cuff wit. You just haven’t. Vince was the youth pastor at a church I was interning at, under the worship ministry. One time he, the worship pastor, and I went out to eat. When the worship guy and myself got to the table, Vince was already eating. Half-joking, our worship pastor, who is older than Vince, says, ‘Aren’t you even gonna pray for that meal?’ Instantly, and without even looking up, Vince says, ‘I pray without ceasing, son.’ So go to his blog.
  • Pamparo in Toronto – this is Rhoy. He’s a brilliant guitarist with a true heart for using music as it pertains to glorifying God. His blog is oft-updated, and he has original songs, gear demo’s, and worship musings. Fantastic site!
  • Patrick Rosington – some great music from a great guy who asked me to link to his music. Check him out! And if you want me to link to your music, just email me!
  • Patrick Rosington Blog – same guy as above, but this is his blog. Lots of gear reviews, and tone musings. Great site!
  • Pray Chat – one of the service-related blogs from the afore-mentioned Jon Batarse. This site is community-driven, and built to serve each other. Extremely cool.
  • Ragamuffin Soul – this guy is probably the original blogger. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met him, and I don’t remember why he’s linked here. But it’s a highly traffic’d site with great discussion going on, so definitely click it.
  • Refill – awesome concert reviews, worship articles, and such. Give it a read, because he’s a cool guy with a lot of intelligence when it comes to worship.
  • Reflection Today – this is a great blog, based more around theology. Every time I go here, I realize I need to read it more often. Incredibly insightful posts regarding God and Christianity.
  • Renovate – killer blog from a very intuitive friend of mine. He’s also a very gifted prose writer, and I would definitely give this blog a look and an in-depth read.
  • Rich Kirkpatrick – local worship leader from my area. Very gifted vocally and musically, and has a heart for community and seeing it grow within the church. Check out all the crazy aspects of social media finding a hub at his site here!
  • Scream the Prayer – great site focused on worship, and our heartfelt worship of God. Check it out for some great reads.
  • Sound of the World – tone. This is Ben, and he has great tone. Great gear reviews, musings, all that jazz. It’s in German, so the easiest way to view this page is with Chrome. But the stuff he says is great!
  • Spiritual Regurgitations–Re/New – fantastic blog, from a very, very wise man. He’s had more valuable experience in the church than most of us here, and he really ‘gets it.’ Not a church clone, but not a bitter church burnout either. He’s a very authentic guy with a voice for saying what needs to be said. Check his blog out.
  • Stompbox Blog – stompboxes. Lots of ‘em! Beautiful ones, too. I go here just to gaze at beautiful pedals. Pictures, reviews, all that stuff. Great site.
  • Symphony in the Sky – killer site revolving around gear, guitar tone, and using it for worship. Give it a read! There’s some great things written in it.
  • Synthesizerz – lots of synths. Great info if you’re looking to get into that stuff, get into old analog synths, or just to get into ambient music in general. Great music!
  • Thank Christ – the second of Jon Batarse’s service-driven sites. Go here for incredible community, and encouragement to see what God is doing in people’s lives.
  • The Busy Pixel – this is Kenrick. He is a very cool guy. You can’t do much on his site right now except gaze at his beautiful Carvin. But that is reason enough right there!
  • The Resistance – great site regarding worship music and Christian living from a guy I’ve led worship with in the past. He’s got great stuff to say!
  • The Sophisticated Arkansan – very insightful posts regarding guitars, worship music, politics, and all of the above. Well-written and always thought-provoking!
  • The Veldt – more music and blogging from a blog reader who’s also a great musician! Definitely check out his lovely music, and again, if you want your music posted here, just email me or feel free to post it in the forum section for that!
  • The Whole Musician Thing – new site that I was just turned on to. Naal, who comments here, runs this thing, and it is by far one of the best worship guitar sites I have been to. Engaging, insightful posts, and killer site design. Definitely go here!
  • The Worship Forum – lots of great stuff, all regarding worship. Some awesome in-depth reading on all things worship-related and worship music-related.
  • Travis Tingley – one of the most incredible guitarists I have ever met. Not sure if there are any sound samples on his site, but he’s the guy that always makes me want to put my guitar down forever after I hear him. Great site with some great insights!
  • Warnbro Worship Team – this is Baggas’ worship team site. Great content and insights, just like on his blog! A great guy, and I’d definitely check out both of his sites.
  • Whether a Tree Falls to the South… – Samuel runs this blog, and it’s awesome! Original music, gear musings, U2 musings…what more could you want? A beautiful guitar-driven site.
  • Worship Bassist & Soundtech – awesome site regarding bass guitar playing in worship, and running sound in worship. Written from experience on both sides os the stage!
  • Worship City – a cool site from a really cool guy, and worship leader. Lots of great community-driven posts, and some links to some new ventures he’s on. All worship and community-driven!
  • Worship Guitar Guy – one of the best guitar sites around. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but the library of information regarding using guitars in worship settings is just fantastic!
  • Worship with Guitar – another really, really awesome site. Jed runs this, and he is not only a very good and intuitive guitarist, but a very gifted writer. There’s a wealth of great information here! Check it out for sure.


(Another picture just to break up the text blocks. That’s Bret. From Flight of the Conchords. As an elf in Lord of the Rings, in the scene where the ring is being scary.)

And then the folks that have restored my trust in people…for this year. I need it about once a year, so feel free to be my people-trust-restorers next year. Unsolicited pedal gifts in the mail are always good ways to do that. ;)

Joel Weldon

Joel has the best humility-to-talent ratio that I have ever seen in a worship leader. He’s done more in the Christian music industry than most of us ever will, and more than almost everyone who broadcasts what they’ve done. But he doesn’t broadcast it; he just quietly does what he does. I got an opportunity to play with Joel this last fall as a guitarist, and watching him lead worship is a study in how to communicate to an audience. Incredibly gifted frontman. Also a very gracious person…I had some family issues, gear issues, etc. when I played with him, and needless to say it was one of those ‘What’s a G chord again? Ah who cares’ weeks for me. But he was very complimentary even though I know he could’ve played the solo better than I just hacked through it. ;)

But here’s the main thing. It’s a little thing, but those of you who make your living playing music or help supplement it by playing music will undoubtedly know what I’m talking about. How many times have you been asked by a church or worship leader to play, and you have to drive farther than an hour to play there? And you’d probably do it for free, but they promise you they’ll ‘take care of you’, and ‘take care of all gas expenses and meals’. And then, after three months of leaving messages on the secretary’s answering machine, you finally get a check in the mail for ‘almost’ what you paid in gas. Ya. Churches are terrible at that. So with Joel, I drive up with the bassist because we’re both gearheads and can’t fit everything in with the drummer. And I’m just pretty much expecting that I’ll never see any of the gas money again. Two days after I return home, a check shows up in the mail for the gas reimbursement. And it was even rounded up to the nearest 10 bucks. Meaning that Joel mailed it either while we were playing the retreat, or as soon as we got home. Some of you will understand here…integrity like that means more than any right chord, cool song choice, or big crowded church ever will.

Matt Quillen

Matt runs two sites, The Quillen and Bass for Worship. Both are incredible sources of information regarding worship music, the Christian life, and just plain life. You won’t find any pretentious church-worship-guy talk with him, which is just plain rad and refreshing. One of the few Christians I’ve met who actually seems to exist in the real world, not a made up one. (Some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about.) I met him a few months ago, actually on the same trip to lead worship with Joel. We had no idea who each other was, were about to take a six hour car ride together, and as I was driving to his house, I remember thinking, ‘Please don’t want to listen to Lincoln Brewster. Please don’t want to listen to Lincoln Brewster.’ Nope. Arcade Fire. Awesome.

What is more, you know Victor Wooten? Ya, he’s the opposite. And if you’ve been around this site for any period of time, you know that’s a good thing. His note placement, feel, and ability to lock with the drums are just spectacular. And what’s more…he plays with tubes. When was the last time you met a bass player who actually cared about tone? And about hitting that one, perfect, rumbling note of sheer tone? It means that Matt is one of those guys who, when he plays, people come up and go, ‘Wow, nothing really sounded different, but man! Everything just sounded great today!’ That’s the essence of a good bass player right there. Add that to the fact that he’s one of the few Christians who you can be like, ‘Huh. A Christian…and an actual person. Didn’t know that could happen.’ (Again, if you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But some of you really get it, I’m sure.) So, another aspect of realizing that there are good people in the world. Both through integrity, and through tone. Alright, let’s be honest…it’s probably mostly the tone.

Go check out his sites for sure.

Lowercase Noises

This is Andrew Othling. He is an ambient guitarist. Who’s actually a working musician who works and has sold more than a few albums. Incredibly talented.

I got the opportunity to meet with him for juice (I know, I know…ambient post-rock musicians meeting for juice…way too hiptastic…at least it wasn’t flavored oxygen) last week. He’s been reading the blog here for a while, and I’ve been impressed with his music for a while. But we live in different parts of the country; so his family was on vacation, and we figured it was a good time to hang out. And I’ll tell you, if his music wasn’t reason enough to listen to him, his demeanor is. Extremely humble and unassuming guy; after meeting with him and talking about Timefactor’s (in a bad way…sorry) and Blue Sky’s (in a good way…thanks?), you can tell the beautiful music he creates really comes from his soul. He’s a guy that I want to go far with his music, and so I’m doing what I can to help in that aspect. So please go give his music a listen, and support someone who’s loving people in a very real, authentic, and tangible way.

Eric Beeman

As I was putting this list together, Eric’s name really stood out to me. Eric was the worship leader that I interned under. And I don’t think my experience would have been as real or as meaningful under anyone else. What sets Eric apart is that he’s not a rockstar, even though he could be. He has the voice for it, but chooses to serve the local church instead. Now, I’m not saying that touring as a musician is a bad thing; just that it’s cool to see someone who’s heart is first and foremost for the folks immediately around them. Eric is one of the most humble guys you’ll ever meet; and you’d be hard-pressed to find one with more integrity. What he believes, he believes. And that belief naturally follows into action as if there wasn’t even any thought about it.

To this day, I still consider Eric one of my spiritual mentors, and he is one of the main people who a year ago, helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. And he’s done that a couple times…all without fanfare, or expecting to get anything in return. Again, that’s what sets him apart…his desire to love people and mentor them, even if no one ever knows he does it. One of the folks that again, restores my faith in people. Eric’s a real guy, and he’s been a huge influence on how I live, how I lead worship, and how I view Lenny Kravitz. ;) His heart is for God, first and foremost, and that makes him stand out.

And last, but not least, the anonymous UPS worker who offered me a refund after my last post expressing displeasure with the company. You can read the update about 3 posts back, or here. Incredibly awesome person.

People suck…all of us. But there are those who are actually striving in a real way, a way that you can see and recognize, to leave that behind and follow God in spite of themselves. Eric, Joel, Matt, Andy, and everyone listed on my blogroll are just some of those people. And people who have left a mark on my life. A mark that knocks cynicism back a couple steps, and gives a little more place to love. Thanks, folks.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Still a few days left to win some free ambient ‘The Morning We Wake’ albums by liking my facebook page. Go to my site here for more details, or just click on the Facebook icon at the top of this site, and like it. That sounds funny.

Karl Verkade Official Site

Thanks again for all the support!


(And last but not least, Bret as he exists now. In the ‘helmet that looks like my hair.’ Oh, the best show ever. ‘The stove…you love the talking stove!’)

Strymon Brigadier Demo and Free Albums

Strymon has taken over the world.

From their humble beginnings with the huge Damage Control pedals that no one was quite sure what they were, to Damage Control pedals crushing the competition (both in sound quality and by, well, literally crushing them…in fact, the other day I found a Malekko pedal I forgot I had…been hidden under my Timeline for years), to being the company that can put out a blasted Leslie Sim pedal (a Leslie Sim, folks!), and have it sell out in 2 hours. I don’t even care if they only made like, 10 of them. Name me one other company that can sell 10 rotating speaker simulator pedals in a week, let alone 2 hours.

And of course, as is my custom here, they were too popular for me to have on my board. It’s true. Boss DD20? Didn’t like it until everyone started selling theirs. Tim pedal? Loved it until everyone started owning one. Then I sold mine. Yep. Of course, I do want a Tim pedal again, and now I am officially a Gear Page guitarist with a Strymon pedal on my board. (Oh wait, I need a Pharaoh Fuzz now, too. Blast…I’ll never be cool enough. ;) You know, I am certain there are psychology classes out there where the entire semester’s assignment is just to read the posts on Gear Page. It’s a strange and frightening world over there.) And that Strymon pedal is probably not going anywhere for a while.

Onwards! (What?)

The Clean Tone

Godin SD fat strat–>Fryette Valvulator pushing the signal through my Loop-Master’s (all disengaged except where noted)–>Matchless HC30–>65 Amps birch cab–>Celestion Blue mic’d

Pedals Used

–Strymon Brigadier
–Fulltone Fatboost
–Damage Control Timeline
–Arion SAD-1

Possible Biases

–I got this for cheap and wanted to make some money on it.

–But it does look lovely

–It’s still too popular for my tastes

–But I’ve used it live the last week, and in between songs I pretended to mess with knob settings so that I could lick it.

The Demo

Just a gorgeous pedal. (Also, 1,000 points to anyone who counted how many times I said ‘Let the pedal do what it will.’ Yikes. Learn some more phrases, homeslice. And ya, that is for some reason how I refer to myself.) I did not expect that sound when I first plugged in. I have not heard a delay that stays out of the way of your guitar like this one. And of course, I have not heard a delay decay so perfectly into a reverby lushness since the DC Timeline.

The Good

–Amazing modulation.

–Great sound; not fully digital, not fully analog-sounding. It’s its own thing, and I dig it.

–The ability to have a preset is an added bonus.

–That perfect Strymon/DC decay.

–Spillover, and controls that interact with the spillover while the pedal is off.

–Great sounding bypass, even with spillover. Sounds almost completely transparent, and just like the Timeline’s spillover bypass sounds.

–Infinite repeats and oscillation. Most delays have either one or the other, or it’s very difficult to find the exact setting on the knob where it infinitely repeats before going into oscillation.

–Once again, and most companies don’t seem to think about this, but the ‘weight’ to the decayed notes is just rad. Timeline, Replica, and now Strymon…have that weight. Think of it as most delayed stuff as the cgi in most movies…balloon-like, and you can tell there’s no weight to the animation. And the Brig is like the Christopher Nolan of delays; when it wants to get the effect of a fight scene in a rotating room, he builds a rotating room. Hence, the scene looks real and has weight. That’s the Brigadier.

–Looks like a champ.

–Contrary to what I’ve heard from most folks, I actually liked the weird modulation that happens to the delay while you tap a new tempo.

The Bad

–This is only the second delay (Empress SuperDelay being the other one) I have ever owned where the tap tempo is on the left, and the on/off is on the right. Timeline, Replica, DD20, Timefactor…all have the tap on the right, and the on/off on the left. Which makes sense to me; on/off switch at the end of the circuit by the output jack. This isn’t a big deal, but it has taken some getting used to…especially with a Timeline and DD20 on my board also.

–To access the filter control, you have to hold both switches, and then the Bucket Loss knob becomes the filter knob. Just seems odd to me, and difficult to do.

–I do wish the favorite switch was on the actual pedal, rather than having to get an external one, but I am not a tech and have no idea how difficult that may have actually been to do.

The Verdict

If you’ve ever wanted an analog delay, but needed the versatility and features of a digital delay, then the Brigadier is the ticket. (Bringing back the Jon Lovitz. Yep.) If you’ve ever wanted a delay that says, ‘That’s okay, you just play…I’ll sit in the corner and quietly make you sound good,’ then this is the ticket. If you’ve ever wished like crazy, like I have, for a pedal that you can hit at the ends of phrases to wash your decay out into oblivion, it’s also the ticket. And if you’ve ever wanted modulation that says, ‘Here I am world. Love me.’ Then this is it. Now, if you’re looking for crisp digital delay, this would not be it. But give it a shot. At least give it the chance to tell you that no…you’re in fact actually not looking for crisp digital delay. You’re looking for this.


(So…Jon Lovitz was in Three Amigos, and it made me think of Chevy Chase. And guitars. Ya, there’s not a while lotta logic to it. But…how can you go wrong with that picture?)

And for the record, this is of course a digital delay. But it doesn’t sound like a digital delay. Neither however, does it sound exactly like an analog delay. I think Strymon has succeeded in bringing a new delay player to the table; one you never would’ve known you needed. But you so do. I’ll be keeping this as my ambient machine, that also has the ability to have tap tempo a favorite switch plugged into it, where I can store a preset of just regular delay timed delay to use with the tap tempo. Totally takes away my reasoning for not being able to get just an ambient delay because it doesn’t do anything else and I am poor and need things to do many things. It doesn’t get much better than this. Sure, I’m a little late to the party, but I’m also pretty proud of myself for being able to wait a year and buy this for a reasonable price, rather than for a 150% markup. Very un-me-like. Oh, and also, if you want to buy it…now that the heat has died down a little and they actually stay in stock for a bit, go here…Strymon. It won’t make you a rockstar, but……oh, who am I kidding. Yes, it will make you a rockstar.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Free albums!! I’m still not sure exactly how much crossover this site should have with my ambient music, but for now, it’s still happening. So apologies to those of you that hate that; but here it goes. The support for this new venture has been really astounding for me; not earth-shattering by a long shot, but more than I expected! So I’m just kind of running it out and seeing where it goes!

To that end, and to say thanks, I’m giving away some free albums to folks that may like the ambient stuff. Please go to:

karlverkade.com

…for details. Thanks again, guys.

Thank You, UPS

EDIT: Alright. In a really cool turn of events, I actually got an email regarding this post from a UPS employee. It’s posted down below the body of the main post. :)

Went to UPS today. With a box I made sure was 24″ long, because if I entered 25″ into the online calculator, the price went up $10. So I get there, and I hear her say to herself ’26′ as she’s measuring it. Price up now $15 from the online calculator. So I politely (hopefully) ask her to measure again. She does, and says it’s 24.16 inches. Meaning, she has to round it to 25 inches. Meaning, she then has to round to 26 inches. I ask her why. She says that’s because when they send the packages through the ‘tunnel’ (?), they are measured via laser, which ‘isn’t really that accurate.’ She says that to me with that kind of ‘you know how lasers can be’ look.

Now, I’m not blaming her. She was very kind to even answer my questions. Undoubtedly, this is what UPS has told her the reason is that she is to over-measure boxes. Either that or she’s very quick on her feet, and has figured out a way to launder an extra $15 off every debit card payment. (Gonna go with ‘no’ on that one.) So basically UPS has figured out a way of literally adding phantom inches to packages and charging for them. What does this mean? UPS has finally done the impossible: charging for thin air. (Oh, wait…Facebook already does that with gift cards for Farmville credits.)

Which means, apologies post office workers who give me the evil eye when I load up the giant amp crate onto your little scale, but you are the only ones left who know how to not kick my amp boxes for no reason, knock on my door without sprinting away, and now not charge me for the air surrounding my package. Because you know how lasers can be. I mean, if I had asked why it was $15 more, and they had said ‘gas surcharge’? Oh ya. Absolutely. I get it. I just paid a gas surcharge myself when I filled up for $78…hundred…dollars. But lasers? I certainly hope that if I ever get lasik surgery, that they have outsourced their lasers from somewhere other than where UPS has. Because an inch give or take on my eye is my ear.

I’m sorry UPS. But on a site populated by gearheads, who undoubtedly make up about 90% of your customer base selling the pedal tomorrow that was going to make our tone sound like Robert Fripp yesterday, I see it as my civic duty.

Also these:

And this, but I don’t know why it’s my civic duty. It just is:

What a good reminder for us all. And you can’t tell me that kid’s not your hero.

EDIT: Here is the email I received from a UPS employee in response to this post. It’s really cool to know that there are still decent folk left in the world! And not just because he offered me a refund. I ended up declining, but was extremely stoked to read this. Stand-up guy (or gal). Names and pertinent information have been omitted:

“Karl,
As a UPS ———– …I apologize. I also happen to be in the customer service side…so I’ve heard it all. It’s like playing Russian Roulette when I answer the phones at work. Many complaints I take are not legitimate, but there are some valid ones. Your experience is ridiculous. And, of course, very valid. I’m not sure when our lasers went “out of alignment” or became “worn out” or whatever lame excuses they can come up with.

I guess what I’m saying is that I am sorry for those of my coworkers whom have no personal or professional pride. And, to be honest, I had a difficult time this morning taking pride in my work as a result of the people I work with (or for) after reading your most recent post. I [think I] know based on your previous posts that you recognize there are some good UPSers out there still. No matter how well some of us do our job or how hard we try, there are still some people who will fail miserably and throw everything off.

If for some reason you still shipped with UPS, send me your tracking number and I will try to get you a refund. …

I don’t wish to post anything publicly for fear of extra trouble at work from corporate, and that’s the same reason I sent this from my personal email, off of corporate’s internet connection and not utilizing any corporate materials. :)

I know there’s not much I can do, but if I can help with a UPS shipment please don’t hesitate to email me.”

That, for me, was really encouraging. There’s good folk out there still.

Splendid.
Karl.

Morgan Shadow Verb and New Message Boards

It’s the little things in guitar tone. New strings make more of a difference than mahogany or walnut. New tubes make more of a difference than Celestion or Eminence. And rolling off the mix on your delay pedal can make everyone think you’re playing a boutique one.

The Morgan Shadow Verb is just along those same lines. It has one knob. It doesn’t do much. But what it does do? Wow. I bought it because it’s rare, discontinued, and the little ‘M’ logo on the front lights up. (I have a thing for gear that falls into those three categories.) I had no idea what it was going to do, or how many controls it was going to have. So when I pulled it out of the box, I was a bit disappointed. I’m looking for something to stretch me a little bit on the ambient side of things, and this pedal is not it. I plugged it in, did a quick test, and my suspicions were confirmed.

So before I sold it, I figured I may as well do a quick demo for the blog. And…uh…well let’s put it this way. I have almost completely moved out of the ‘having always on pedals’ thing. And this pedal…might end up being always on. This is a brilliant, simple, and gorgeous little spring reverb pedal. And Morgan’s amps aren’t bad sounding either. Very Divided by 13-like. He’s a Huntington Beach area builder down in my neck-ish of the woods area. Morgan Amplification.

The Demo

Godin Strat–>Matchless HC30–>65 Amps can with Celestion Blue mic’d up

Morgan Shadow Verb. That’s all I know. Don’t know if it’s digital or analog, analog dry path or not, or even if it’s supposed to sound like this. I do know that it wants more than 100mA of power. I suppose I could’ve just waited and posted this after Joe at Morgan Amplification answers my email, but that gives me less to joke around about.

Just beautifully adds that 3rd or 4th dimension that every tonehead talks about. And doesn’t drop your volume, even with the depth turned all the way up. Very rare for a reverb pedal, in my experience. It’s an addition to your tone, without killing the clean tone you’ve worked so hard for. And it lights up, reflects sunlight off it’s mirrored finish, and reflects all your other blinking lights off the rest of its loveliness. What more could you want?

But you might want more. Especially in the more ambient/drone department…so those are coming. But for now, I give you……message boards where pictures actually work! And videos! The message boards were getting really good response, so I made better ones. Well, actually, ‘actual’ ones. They’re under the Forum heading up top. The old ones will still be up for a while; you can link to them through the ‘About’ page. And the Brig demo is coming…just spending some quality time with it first, so that the demo doesn’t end up being an hour long as I fumble over my words (and my love).

Splendid.
Karl.

Okay, Be Honest…

…how many of you come here solely to keep track of what ginormous new universal statement I may make, and then how long it takes me to break my own rules?

As in,

August 2nd: ‘Tubes. Nope, no excuses. Tubes.’

August: 9th: ‘The Timeline sounds just like the T-Rex Replica, and it doesn’t have tubes. So I don’t really care that the Timeline 2 doesn’t have tubes.’

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. I promise, a real post is coming soon. For those of you for some reason still reading, God bless you. So here’s the best gift I can think of today:

I was about to say that I don’t have any idea why the ringwraiths are excavating the tree root, but then at the end it’s like, ‘Oh, of course. Because there’s a man in there.’ ;) But in all seriousness, Ireland is the source of all music.

So it Begins…Once Again…

This has the potential to be the best idea I have ever had. Also the worst. I fear there will be no in-between.

I have not weighed it yet, but I have a feeling that when I do, the scale will read, ‘All……the weight.’

Also, the Brigadier already came in…most musical modulation I’ve heard since possibly when I had an old ’70′s Memory Man. I must admit that I was quite impressed.

I play tonight…if my back has not broken due to the weight of that case or from jumping from a building in a euphoric Brigadier modulation high (those happen, folks), I will report further.

Splendid.
Karl.

EDIT: Okay, so now my foot is swollen. Chalk this one up right alongside wanting to run a garden hose in my rig so that the water would cascade down a screen in front of my amp’s grill cloth with the mic picking up both. In both instances, what a great idea……with absolutely no forethought whatsoever.

EDIT 2: Ya, so the Brigadier may not ever leave my board. I did not expect that from a over/super-hyped pedal, and from my not diggin’ the Blue Sky so much. But the Brigadier…nothing decays quite like a Strymon/DC. Haven’t had time to put it to the test and see if the tapping falls short or not; just blissfully doing modulated ambience for the time being. Emphasis on the bliss.

First Time Ever…

….that I’ve been watching a pedal end on ebay hoping I don’t win.

Gotta love impulse bidding. Stupid delay.

Splendid.
Karl.

Edit: Blast.

Edit 2: Well, at least I can demo a really rare pedal that’s brand new and no one’s ever heard about before. It’s this little green analog-voiced digital delay that utilizes these new, like, ‘Sharc’ processors? From a little local company called Strymon, not sure if you’ve heard of them.

Oh, wait. That would’ve been last year. ;)

Tone Tips from People Better Than Me (Part 1)

So I’m leading worship on Sunday, and as I go to start the first song in our 3 song post-message set, I realize that the jack on my strat is completely loose. As in…my guitar cable is basically hanging from the pickup wires loose. And somehow all set, my guitar didn’t cut out or make that explosion sound that we usually only attribute to worship leaders inexplicably unplugging their acoustic with no warning, and then glaring at the sound guy. It was as if God literally reached down and gave me a pass. (My iPod also went dead, so during practice, I ran the pads off of my laptop while it was charging my iPod. I set it on a music stand. This worked very well…for about three seconds. The first hit of the kick drum, and laptop, iPod, and all my hopes and dreams go sailing off the music stand, slide down the stairs, and onto the hard floor. And everything still works perfectly. Not even a scratch…or, a new one at least. Yes, God was really good to me this week, in spite of my idiocy.)

Anyway, the guitar thing got me thinking that I need a backup guitar for my backup guitar, whilst the Prairiewood still yearns to be back with me. (She does. Sometimes at night, I think I hear her calling. I can guarantee you that ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ has not been played through her pickups since October. This displeases her.) Should I have more guitars anyway? Yes. But you can’t play through more than one guitar at a time. You can, however, play through more than one pedal at a time. So I always end up selling all but one guitar and buying more pedals and amps. So I was looking (this is the longest intro ever, even for me) at some guitars for cheap, and going through the usual decent quality for good price guitars: Brawley’s, old ’80′s Tokai’s, Hagstrom’s, pre-2006 Epiphone Dot’s, Ibanez Artcore’s, etc. And then I remembered Jay Turser guitars. Most people don’t think much of Jay Turser’s. They’re the guitars you only see at the independent suburban guitar shops that charge $18 for a pack of strings, that you think are Fender’s and then are disappointed when you come closer.

But here’s the thing. There was this guy I knew when I first started playing guitar. Played on the worship team, and he was my hero. Would bust out these insane solo’s. (Only problem was that he never solo’d enough for me. Weeks would go by before I’d here him tear up another one. It was only later that I learned that that was due to a little thing called good taste. Anyway.) Turned out his name was Rich Kettner, and he had his master’s degree in music. (Jazz composition if I remember correctly.)

Now, I’m gonna divert off course here (imagine that!), and tell a little story about Rich. Once I started playing on worship teams, it just so happened that I ended up playing bass at the church he also attended. So, my first night ever at worship practice at this church…I’m 19. And Rich is playing guitar. And he’s playing this sweet little riff. And out of the blue, he looks at me and says he thinks it’d be a great idea if the bass were to follow him on the riff. It’s about 5 notes. So he shows me it. And so I’m watching him play the riff, and this has never happened to me before or since, but my brain won’t process it. I’m so nervous that this guy is asking me to play a riff that I’m watching the riff with my eyes, hearing it with my ears, and it was as if he was speaking Thai with his guitar. (Oh, Jack talk Thai. Jack talk Thai very well. Name it.) So we started the song over, and we get to the part, and I suddenly realize, ‘Oh! I have no idea what he just said to me.’ So I play nothing. And everyone thinks I am a horrible bass player. So, of course, after practice, I have to pretend my amp is not working correctly, and that I must test out finger-tapping solo’s on it while messing with the knobs; thereby inconspicuously saving dignity by letting everyone know that I really can play. Yep. Always a good idea to loudly hack through a couple finger-taps on a bass after messing up. ;)


(Alright, time’s up. Jack talking Thai to Mr. Jinx. Ah, Bobby. If only you’d stopped after this one. I really don’t want to meet anyone else. You’re also welcome not to do movies like Limitless. Really. Heat, What Just Happened, Great Expectations…these are good. Machete? Not so much.)

But, back on track, I was just remembering tonight that he played a Jay Turser. Through a Peavey Transtube. And sounded better than anyone else on that team. Later on, he traded out the Transtube for a Fender Deluxe Reverb, and he didn’t just sound better. No. Doors swung open to realms of sound we never dreamed possible. But that Jay Turser sounded good. So I started searching for them.

Then I started wondering what Rich Kettner was doing these days, and if YouTube would tell me. And YouTube did tell me. Because YouTube is owned by Google, and Google knows all. They will rule the world one day, and we will happily give up our personal freedoms for .2 second video searches for sedated children who have just come back from the dentist because they bit their brother’s finger too hard. Thank you, YouTube. I give you, Rich Kettner. Song is pretty spectacular. But he starts solo’ing around 3:25. And it’s not just finger acrobatics. Check out his phrasing, sense of melody over the chord structure, and how he always finds that rhythmic pocket to fill. It’s pretty masterful, folks:

Yep. That speaks more than I ever could. (Not that I don’t try! ;) )

So, to explain. No, there is too much. To sum up:

1) Play with people who are better than you. Any chance you get. You may look like an idiot at first, but it’s incredible how much you learn in a real world context like that.

2) A good guitarist will sound good even through a Peavey Transtube. He will sound even better through a Fender Deluxe Reverb.

3) Play the groove of the band, not just your instrument.

4) Back off on your attack and let the notes play you a bit.

5) Get your master’s degree in jazz composition.

6) Some of the best musicians are local, not famous.

7) Throw some Lollar’s or Fralin’s in here, and how can it be a bad thing:

Rock ‘n roll, don’t get too hung up on the expensive stuff but definitely get kind of hung up on it, always keep your mind open when playing with people better than you, and hack finger-tapping is the best way to ease inconspicuously out of a mistake.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Really sorry that all your icons are unicorns/just plain frightening. I think it must be my avatar plugin, because the avatars for the recent comments are still working, and that’s a different plugin. Workin’ on it! For now, enjoy the rainbows. :)