A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns

(by Guest Blogger Dan at Maple Neck)

  • I watched Bono & Edge do their Spiderman song on American Idol. Mancard revoked.
  • How many more albums does U2 have until they become the Rolling Stones? By that, I mean a touring act that sells out stadiums and releases new albums that no one buys. My friend called it the transition from great band to band covering its own songs. The ultimate cover band is the original band itself? Yeah, we’re getting meta here.
  • Bono is an advanced genius. According to Jason Hartley, an advanced genius sees what went wrong, and then does it more wrong, until everyone realizes that it was actually right all along.
  • Dear Harold Camping, thanks for turning the story of God’s love for his people into a prop from a bad Nicolas Cage movie – wait, would that be National Treasure or Knowing? Did anyone else get a little bit of stand-up comedy from their pastor last Sunday?
  • I haven’t bought anything this year. I can’t post on Show me your pedalboards #17 or the neatest pedalboard (so very TGP!) thread. Cue tiny man playing world’s tiniest violin.
  • I am closing a deal for the best small midi foot controller that I will be using with the new Timeline. I have a SMS alert on my gmail for any emails from Strymon. Mental illness sometimes looks like preparedness.
  • TC Electronic – you’ve almost sold me a Flashback. Can I get a Steven Seagal toneprint?

  • Starbucks is the Line 6 DL-4 of Coffee. They created this market for coffee in the US but they’re not the best or coolest thing anymore.
  • Single cup drip coffee using organic shade grown beans would be the Echoczar.
  • You still see the DL-4 on the boards of people who play to 1,000 – 100,000 people a night. Before people got all crazy about analog dry path, soft switches, subdivisions, stereo ins and outs, updatable firmware, the DL-4 was kinda groundbreaking in 99.
  • You had to go rack in the 90’s if you wanted to do what we can do with delay pedals today. It was the dark ages I tell you!
  • Favorite DL-4 user? Minus the Bear or Reggie Watts
  • I told my friend to stop buying Line 6 stuff because he didn’t like mushy sounding delays. You like crispy delays – get a DD20.
  • Hammock uses Line 6 pedals. Really.
  • Dinosaur vs Bedtime is a great book to read with your kids. Timefactor wins.
  • Do you want to make your guitar sound like a keyboard? Delay – Reverb – Delay – Reverb. You’re welcome. :)
  • I really need to stop trying to sound like a keyboard player.
  • Voodoo Lab is in my town and I drive near their office after I drop off my kids at preschool. By kids, I mean my actual kids not my collection of pedals. I’m tempted to stop and ask them when the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Versa is coming out. Never? OK, how about the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Digital?
  • My friend showed me a $20 Red Bear pick. I thought it was a little nutty but I can’t judge with the amount that I’ve spent on instrument cables.
  • There should be a site called drummersbehindglass.tumblr.com where you can look at all of the ridiculous plexiglass setups people are using in church. I was watching this video and this might be the most beautiful curved glass that I’ve ever seen.
  • Guitarists – so you think you are being persecuted when they ask you to turn down on stage or put your amp off stage? Try to play after being put into a terrarium!
  • You know what’s nice about that video? The camaraderie among worship team members. I played at a place before where everyone was kinda aloof. Or maybe just young and angsty. But it was a weird vibe.
  • Solid snare tone, accenting, and groove. Drummers, we can recognize a good drummer.
  • How do you know that you’re old? When you shake someone’s hand and they try to go “hip handshake” on you. You can only do normal? OLD!
  • No Strymon pedals on your board? OLD!
  • Age 26 is the cutoff age for skinny jeans.
  • We’ve been checking out a new church and I’m convinced that their soundboard has a yearning knob. There is something really authentic and goosebumpy about the way that they worship. Early U2? Yearning knob on 10.
  • I spent 15 minutes this morning going through live Phil Wickham youtube videos with my friend to give him pedal chain advice for this Sunday. Youtube as worship prep tool is amazing.
  • People using youtube as indirect product support or telling you that they’re buying a pedal based on your video = confusing.
  • Part 2 of the web is a funny thing. I had a soundguy say that he saw my 2-12 cabinet in a picture on my friend’s website and that he was worried about me bringing it into their reflective room. I commend you on your preparation/mild stalking but I only brought a 1-12. Played at volume below what I use at home. Crisis averted.
  • Crossing my fingers that Future of Forestry will tour around here in July. A little Sigur Ros’y but I love the ladies and gentleman we are floating in space moment on this song:

  • Can a great intro guitar part make a whole song? Yes, Coldplay “Lovers in Japan” and Longwave “Wake Me When It’s Over”

  • Flip Video cam is clipping big time so it looks like I will need to get an interface if I want to do any new videos. Can you mike your cab properly people – you win.
  • My friend asked me what he should work on to get better. Triads. I’m on the same wavelength as Rhoy.
  • You don’t even need the whole chord. You can play the 1 and the 3 on the A and B strings or the 1 and the 5 on the low E and B string to outline the chord.
  • Thank You. That’s my time.

(Dan is an ultra-experienced worship and professional guitarist from the Bay Area in California. He runs the blog Maple Neck.)

How Jazz Music Can Make You a Better Guitarist

(by guest blogger Chris Huff at Behind the Mixer)

Jazz music, specifically instrumental jazz, forces the listener to focus on the instruments and the arrangement. You can’t get lost singing along. Jazz brings all the instruments to the forefront and it’s there where you will learn a lot.

Great jazz musicians know how to play off each other, how to play behind the other instruments, how have the right sound for their instrument, and how they sound along with the other instruments.

Electric guitarists (that means YOU), have spent a lot of time and energy finding that perfect tone you love to hear from your guitar. It might even be song-specific. But there are two questions I have to ask you; 1) did you set your tone based off what you heard on the stage or from the house speakers? 2) did you ever check that tone against the other instruments?

There is a lot your sound guy can do for shaping your sound and the sound of the band. HOWEVER, the best modifications are made first at the instrument level. Welcome to some extra time in the church sanctuary.

The five steps to a better sounding electric guitar tone;
1. Arrange time with your sound guy to work in the sanctuary when it’s not in use.
2. Set up your equipment in the middle of the sanctuary. Connect to the audio system with the help of the sound tech.
3. Play and listen to how it sounds from the house speakers.
4. Tweak your settings (guitar, effects, amp).
5. Play and repeat step number 4 until you find the best sound.

You’ll find that great tone you thought you had on the stage sounds different in the sanctuary.

Now that you’ve got that great tone, how does it sound against the other instruments?

I’m not saying you have to drag the whole band to the sanctuary. What I am saying is there are specific instruments you should work with during your practices to create the best complimentary sounds. Specifically, the bass player and the keyboard player. The two instruments can fight for audio frequencies that you share and if there is more fighting and too much sharing, your instruments will sound like mud.

For example, a keyboardist playing pads can really fill out the sound of a band. But if the pad sound sounds so much like the electric guitar effects, then the sounds blur together. The sound guy can tweak the frequencies to a limited extent but when the two instruments are so similar in frequency / sound, then the mix (your sound as a band) will suffer.

Therefore, the next time you are practicing with the band, spend some time with the bassist and the keyboardist one-on-one so that you have all found the best patches and effects that prompt the great sound of your respective instruments while also making room for the other instruments in the mix.

What Type of Tomato Are You?

Odd question, definitely, but follow me on this point. The sound tech is like a cook. I can take all the ingredients and create a pot of chili. The success of the chili, however, is based largely on the quality of ingredients I use. Rotten tomatoes, dried out beans, spoiled meat…are these ingredients you’d want to make a pot of chili? View your sound as an ingredient and you’ll find yourself striving to be vine-ripened. And if you want to know what it sounds like to have instruments that make a great pot of chili, look to jazz.

–Chris Huff.

(Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to improving instrument sounds. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.)

“This is Boring. I’m Bored Now.”

(by guest blogger Matt Quillen at Overcoming Average)

First, I’d like to address the fact that people other than Karl can and will make references to 30 Rock. Also, this post will look very boring, mainly because I hate looking up YouTube videos no matter how hilarious they might be.

Okay, let’s get down to business. What I want to talk to you guys about is something that I’ve seen run rampant on stages in churches everywhere. No, it’s not the needless investments in Aviom systems and drum shields  . What I’ve seen that’s particularly disturbing is how bored everyone looks on stage.

Stage presence can be a divisive topic. On the one hand, of course you want an awesome performance. Who wouldn’t? On the other, how can people focus on God if they’re only looking at you? As Christians, we (meaning me) tend to look at gray area dilemma things like that and immediately have the gut reaction of not wanting to do anything that would take anything away from God. That may bear a little examination though. Does that gut reaction come from fear or conviction? One thing I’ve learned is that fear doesn’t come from God, and doesn’t do Him any honor if our actions come there. So, if you’ve been holding back in your performance out of fear let me encourage you that it is perfectly fine to put on an amazing performance, even in church. Even for 30 people. Even before noon on a Sunday.

So that’s why it’s okay to give a great performance. Now here’s why I think it’s imperative that we do. First, there’s that thing I mentioned earlier about people focusing on you and how that might be a bad thing. The problem with that is this: where else would they look? You’re the one the chairs are pointed towards, and if they’re looking anywhere else that’s not a sign that they’re focusing more on God. Second, you have to come to terms with a harsh reality: if you’re playing music and for some reason less than 100% of the congregation is truly worshiping, for the rest of the audience you’re simply entertainment.

Another gut reaction, right? There’s nothing wrong with being entertainment, and whether you’re seen as entertainment is a decision that’s only up to the people watching you. You can’t make people focus on God, but you can set an example of being excited for a God that promises abundant life and a reason for joy. My God isn’t boring and He’s the one who gave us music and a reason to play it. Shouldn’t that translate to every detail of our performance, including how we look when we play?

As with everything when I make a blanket statement, there’s a couple caveats. Don’t go overboard. That’s when you transition from entertainment to train wreck, both of which are fun to watch, but for very different reasons. Also, stage presence should be a focus, but never the focus. You’re playing music, not choreographing a musical.

A few tips on developing better stage presence. These have helped me immensely and I’ve seen them work for others, too. (Bullet points!)

  • Be musically prepared as best you can. If you’re not confident in what you’re playing, you’ll never be confident with expressing yourself on stage.
  • Remember that you’re displaying the emotion of a song. Try to feel the song with your whole self.
  • Do what comes naturally. Some do the head-bob, some the foot tapping, but there’s no real wrong answer here.
  • Record your set on video. See if what comes naturally looks good, fits the songs, and then readjust. There’s bound to be some growing pains here, but don’t worry. It’ll be okay. The first time I ever saw myself on video I nearly died of shame. So awkward…
  • Ask people you trust who aren’t on stage for real feedback. See if any changes have made an improvement.
  • Remember that lighting and/or stage props do not equal stage presence. It helps, but there’s no substitute for actual people displaying the emotion of the song.
  • Have fun. It’s not the most important part of performance, but it helps!

Matt Quillen.

(Matt is a prominent worship, band, and studio bassist in the Southern California area. He runs the blog Overcoming Average.)

But Love is Not What You’re Thinking Of

So as I ride off into the sunset to take my break from Internet (I like the little world that exists in my mind…people are applauding too, and throwing confetti and shiny vintage Matchless pedals…oh, and Staring at the Sun is inexplicably getting louder the closer I get to the sunset), I figured everyone would be highly disappointed had they no U2 from me in my last post.


To those of you still reading, haha, here’s possibly my most favorite U2 song ever. Right alongside…well…every other U2 song. But even if you don’t care for the music, there’s a lyric that I think we could use more of:

“Because love is big, it’s bigger than us.
But love is not what you’re thinking of.”

It’s a simple thought, but at least for me, a haunting one as well. It hearkens me to the thought of how much damage is done in the name of love. From crusades to jihads, to the man using love as a means to sex or the woman flirting with sex in an attempt to fill something emotional with something physical, love is something that appears to be everywhere and in reality exists only as a delicate rarity. Every time I hear this song, that line rings out to me, and I try to remember the last time I committed an action in true love, without any hint of using said love for some semblance of carnal gain to myself. Of course, there is a place for enjoyment in the giving of love to others (who’s wife or husband wants a date that is so selfless that the other party takes no enjoyment in it), but I know in my life, most of the time, I’m way past that line. It’s something we’ll never fully realize in this life, but something for which to strive nonetheless.

I’d encourage you to listen to the whole video. These two songs done transitionally into each other is quite an experience. And in case I’m getting too pretentious (yep, I am), you’ve just gotta hear Edge’s tone and one of the best multi-stage anti-solo’s ever. Adam adds in this change to the bassline towards the end where he walks down chromatically and it works so well. And Bono, when he concentrates on his vocals, can be just fantastic. Some of the best I’ve heard from him. I guess there are some keyboards and drums in there, too. 😉

And an acoustic version I just found, that inspired this post a little bit. The best part is when he mentions Osama Bin Laden, as everyone was doing at that time and now recently again, and then equates himself to the same thing right away. You may love or hate Bono, depending on the day and what random stunningly intuitive or laughably inane statement he might have just said (lol), but this is one of the good ones. These types of lyrics have been sorely lacking from them lately.

I hope those songs take you somewhere. Maybe to an emotional place, maybe to a place of self-examination, and quite possibly to a place where the emotion is fueling the self-examination. They certainly do that for me.

So I leave you with that before I start my break on Monday. Okay, never mind. That’s a little too serious. I have to mention this. Yes, this post was inspired by finding that acoustic clip of ‘Please.’ But it was also inspired by a dream I had last night, which was probably also inspired by finding that acoustic clip of ‘Please.’ In the dream, I’m up in the soundbooth at my church surfing Gear Page, as our lead pastor is finishing his message. And all of the sudden, the band starts in with the music, and I’ve missed it. But I don’t run down there; I just keep gazing at pictures of gear on my computer. And then our pastor starts singing U2’s ‘Please.’ And rocks it! And rather than being sad that I’m not the one rocking U2, I start grooving to the song, and continue surfing Gear Page.

Hence, the dream is telling me, that all I really want to do is listen to U2 and surf Gear Page. Not actually make and play music. Hence, it’s time for the break from Internet. And hopefully be able to get back to showing some true, unadulterated love during these next two weeks.

See you all next Tuesday (I’ll still be commenting and answering emails through tomorrow night), and please be sure to check out the guest authors this next week. I just got in a couple of the posts, and they are spectacular! With a lot less U2 than you get from me, which is probably a welcome change. 😉

So in the words of Kip, ‘Peace Out, Napoleon.’ (Ya, that’s right…I’m bringing back The Dynamite. Whoa. It is so time for a break.)


All These Things That I’ve Said

It’s just plain the worst when people quote themselves. So…I’m gonna do it anyway. The following are things that I have actually said at one time or another. Some of them…were said on this blog. Pretty much…I’m awesome. Except not at all.

  • “Digital is the way of the future.”

–Karl Verkade, 2003. Said while desperately trying to make myself believe that my ‘Fat Match’ patch on my Boss GT6 sounded every bit as good (and definitely more reverby) than my friend’s actual Matchless.


  • “Edge might use digital delay live because of its functionality, but in the studio, he uses exclusively analog delays. The Korg SDD-3000’s.”

–Karl Verkade, 2004. Stated in a very heated discussion regarding analog versus digital. If you read this quote along with the previous one, you will realize that I may have a problem with moderation. 😉 It’s all or nothing for me. Oh, and as to where I got the information in this quote? I can’t actually remember, although I can photographically remember myself saying it. Which means I probably made up the information in my head, and then assumed that since the information originated from me, it just made it that much more credible.


  • “I will never sell this Tim pedal.”

–Karl Verkade, 2005. 2006. 2008, 2009, and 2011.


  • “Yes, I need all four of them. Don’t you know anything about tone?”

–Karl Verkade, 2005. In response to a question from the sound guy regarding the four amps I had brought and was in the process of setting up for our 75-person service. There were two to run in stereo, one that split out into a secondary board to run washy delays and phaser sounds in the background, and one that split out earlier before the effects for just straight crunch. The ground loop hum from this setup should have been enough to add an ambient drone all on its own. Luckily though, the tone suck from my 32 pedals rolled off so much high end that there was no hum at all. Oh, and of the 3 heads, 3 cabs, and one combo, we had red, tan, purple, two different shades of green, and tweed. It was pretty spectacular.


  • “I don’t ask people to stand. The people stand when the Holy Spirit moves them.”

–Karl Verkade, 2003. Which, of course, meant there were many an awkward service with no one standing. And me railing on about the spiritual warfare attacking the hedge of protection we’d prayed around ‘this place.’


  • “A capo?! Learn your bar chords!”

–Karl Verkade, 2001. Said before I knew how insignificant of a thing it is to know bar chords. That hit me full force one day when I saw my hero guitarist put on a capo for the next song, after ripping this amazing solo on the previous one. When I asked in horror why he was using a capo, he said, ‘Because it’s easier.’ Ohhhhhhhhhh.


  • “No Line on the Horizon is U2’s finest work.”

–Karl Verkade, 2009. That one was just good old-fashioned denial. If you look hard enough, you’ll probably even be able to find that post here, and hencetoforth (yep) never take anything I say seriously ever again.

But now, in all honesty, how seriously do you really take anything I say? Once you start explaining the reasoning behind 6 delay pedals, your credibility starts to slip just a little bit. 😉 Although as long as it’s on Internet, it must automatically be true and someone will google search it, find it in the synopsis without actually clicking on the site, and it will end up in a research paper. So, with that in mind, “Edge plays a Dumble.” hehe Take that, Internet. Or…tiny portion of the internet that cares about Dumble’s.


Quick Pedalboard Update and Billy Joel is Telling Me to Take a Break

So, I’ve been thinking about taking a break here for a while. Not a vacation, not a break from work, or email, but a break from this blog. The Gear Page. Facebook. Bandcamp. The Gear Page. (Oh wait, did I say that already? 😉 ) Not a long one; just a week or two. I know, I know, I risk angering Internet by this break from blogs, message boards, and facebook. But I’ve been toying with this for a while, and today, while watching the playback on my newest pedalboard update video and feeling like I was onboard a seafaring vessel of some sort (yep) as such is the terribleness of the video, yet having no desire to go back and produce something that was actually good, I realized it’s probably time for a little break. Also, because I was listening to Billy Joel (no, seriously) and he told me to:

Oh yes.

So, I’ll be taking a week or two off in the coming weeks. I’ve got some great and also fantastic folks lined up to do a little guest posting, so things will still be going here…just without me. Probably even how it should be most of the time. haha Comments will be open, the authors will be in charge of their own posts, and the message boards will be rock ‘n rolling, just as much as any message board with 60 members can rock ‘n roll. 😉 But to be very honest, as much as I love this blog and some of the things it’s seemed that God has done with it, definitely in spite of me, it’s going to be really nice to not think about it for the first full week in about 3 years. It’ll probably be the week before Memorial Day weekend, as well as that weekend. So, be sure to check out the awesome guest bloggers! Some good stuff is in the works!

Oh ya, in case you’re interested, take some seasick pills, and here’s the pedalboard update video. :)

And ya, I’m running more music promo’s. Sorry. I’m trying to filter all music-related stuff through my Facebook Music page, so that you don’t have to be annoyed hearing from me on 18 different social mediums. :) And I could write down all my pedals and list everything out in typing right now for clarity’s sake, but I just have no desire to. haha Hence, the forthcoming break. 😀

Also, the Tim is probably getting sold. The Fatboost is just plain cutting through the mix better.

Billy Joel.


You Wanted to Get it Right, Let’s Get it Right

This video should be required watching for all musicians. If there was ever actually a class that taught you about actually making music and surviving practically in a tangible world as a musician; unfortunately, you have to learn that stuff through experience…and videos like this. In fact, ya…you know what? I’m doing it. This video is now hereby declared required watching in order to be a musician. The fact that I know how to play Stairway to Heaven (no stairway…denied!) gives me that authority, right? 😉

  • “I ain’t dyin’.”

I am now ending with this phrase every time I lose an argument.


  • “Leave the amp as I set it. That’s my amp, and I’m setting it the way I wish it.”

Ah, how many times have we wanted to say this to the singer. Or the sound tech at the hole-in-the-wall club. Or the worship leader. Or the drummer.


  • “And the way it’s going to sound if I am playing.”

This is actually quite true…individual touch has a good deal to do with tone. Have 3 people all sit and play a G chord on the same amp, guitar, and settings. It will more than likely sound surprisingly different.


  • “Don’t touch my amp.”

I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. 😉


  • “Why it’s being done is because it’s not recording well.”

If only more of us could get this. Sometimes our guitar tone needs to be ‘ruined’ coming out of the amp, so that it comes out well in the house or the recording. In a perfect world, yes, we would rewire the house system so that not so much tone is sucked, or bass is muddied, or whatever. But we don’t live in a perfect world, I’ve never played on a perfect house or recording system, and a little bump of the treble knob on the amp can go a long way in getting a good mic’d sound.


  • “It’ll be too much for you to sing and play the fills as well, right?”
    “Well it wasn’t.”

Best ever.


  • “The starts and stops is what we’re looking for.”

Oh my. So much wisdom here. As musicians, we tend to quite often overlook two of the most important areas of the song…the starts and stops. Those are the areas that make the song tight; and people who aren’t musicians notice that rhythmic tightness and ‘professional’ sound more than they notice almost anything else, including slightly pitchy vocals and wrong guitar notes.


  • “That slur starts…”

I would give my left delay pedal to be involved somewhere (and have the talent myself, haha) where we were that picky about the little parts of songs. Usually I’m just happy if I hacked through all the right chords. hehe The crazy thing is, you don’t really hear the difference at first. But when Keith finally nails it, you realize how much better it is to not play the initial up bend for that particular part.


  • “…if it takes me all niiiiiight and day.”

Love how Chuck picks on Keith’s guitar riff, so Keith picks on Chuck’s vocals. So classic, and so…uh…familiar. 😉 hehe


  • “You wanted to get it right, let’s get it right.”

I think that may now be my new musical motto. Not settling for “pretty good.” A little difficult in the real world, when you’re not two famous musicians recording on the studio’s dime. Especially in worship music…we’re on a limited time schedule, we don’t play the same songs every day, it’s mostly volunteers, and the music isn’t necessarily the overall goal. Still, something to strive for.


  • “(Words we are probably glad we cannot hear.)”

I love how mad Keith gets at himself when he can’t get the riff perfect. Makes me feel a little better about myself.


  • “(Silence.)”

The sound of Keith pulling the classic guitar player move, and messing with settings on his amp when he can’t get the riff right; as if they are to blame.


  • “Drrr-nrrr-er-nrrr-er-nrrrrr. (The sound of a beautifully nailed slur).”

To Keith’s credit though, as soon as he changes the settings on his amp, he nails the riff. It’s amazing how being happy with your tone can influence your playing. Also, it’s amazing how different settings on your gear can make such a difference in the different things you play. I really want to know my gear that well, and be able to make changes on the fly that fit any given part I’m playing.


So many incredibly useful things in this video. But most importantly, the passion they put into that song (well, all save for the piano player…haha…best looks ever), the release classic rock ‘n roll gives, and the gutsy beat-your-heart sound of being plugged straight-in to a cranked amp. This weekend, I happened to be at church all by myself after everyone had left one of the nights. Hmm. Plug straight in. Check. Flip the switch from 15 watts to 30. Check. Push in master volume knob to take it out of the circuit. Check. Turn up gain on EF86 channel until it breaks up into full harmonic bliss. Check. Play a few of the most gloriously swirling riffs and chords I’ve heard in a long time. I’m literally still pulling my heart out of my throat. Those of you who have the right-sized church, club, or home that’s not an apartment in which to do this on a regular basis, I envy you. And go do it right now. :)

I ain’t dyin’.


Music Quotes…

So much better than anything I could’ve ever written in this space. (Don’t worry, I’ll try at the end…hey, would you expect anything less? 😉 ) And you may not even necessarily agree with all of these, but at the very least, they spark the intellect; and with some of them, hopefully the heart. Oh, and I basically wrote this whole post in order to put this first quote in:
  • “There’s only two kinds of music: good and bad. If it sounds good, don’t worry about what it is; just enjoy it.” –Louis Armstrong
  • “Music is melody.” –Johann Sebastian Bach
  • “Melodies should feel inevitable.” –Bono
  • “When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” –R. Buckminster Fuller, engineer, designer, and architect
  • “It may take talent to play fast, but it takes soul to slow down and say something…..” –Kenny Blue Ray
  • “After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own.” –Oscar Wilde
  • “There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” –Johann Sebastian Bach
  • “I don’t personally see my work as being dark. What interests me is a balance between light and dark.” –Carter Burwell

(Break due to inundation of musical genius.)

  • “So where does all music come from — be it hip-hop or rock ‘n’ roll? I don’t know. But I do know that all music is praise. It’s praise to the god of your making. Which, in the case of a rock star, might be oneself. Or a woman. Or an idea.” –Bono
  • “Johnny Cash doesn’t sing to the damned, he sings with the damned, and sometimes you feel he might prefer their company.” –Bono, again. Sorry, say what you want about him, but some crazy rad things sometimes come out of his mouth.
  • “If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think they’ll hate you.” –-Don Marquis
  • “The way you write music is at once humdrum — there’s a fridge in the corner with apples and a bottle of milk, and there’s a fax machine — and at the same time you’re waiting for a miracle, or else it’s just the sum of the parts.” –Paul Hewson ( 😉 )
  • “Music…which fills the soul with a thousand things greater than words…” –Felix Mendelssohn
  • “We’re not very religious people, but we are believers. And we believe in God, but we find it very uncomfortable to see what religion has turned God into.” –Edge. Okay, that one’s not about music, but it unfortunately rings a little too true sometimes, and at the very least, is quite historically accurate.
  • “There are no such things as wrong notes, there’s only the look on your face.” –Anonymous
  • “Good music comes out of people playing together, knowing what they want to do and going for it. You have to sweat over it and bug it to death. You can’t do it by pushing buttons and watching a TV screen.” –Keith Richards

(Break as I realize that some of these people have said in one sentence what I’ve been trying to say for 3 years.)

  • “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” –Leonard Bernstein
  • “Tone is a journey.” –MIke Huffman
  • “Turn my delay off? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.” –-All guitarists
  • “It just so easily could have gone into the whole big rock guitar part there, and there’s something incredibly satisfying at the end of that tune, by…doing the complete opposite.” –Edge
  • “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” –Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • “When you sing, you have to open yourself up, you have to be raw. And you have to reveal yourself, and sometimes it’s very difficult for me to listen to that back, because it might not be as macho as you see yourself.” –Bono
  • The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another… and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.” –Leonard Bernstein

And then lastly, for my part, well…some folks have been requesting the full song, and I wanted to make sure I got across that there’s a short story e-book to which this song is a soundtrack. So, here’s the full version, with pieces of the story appearing from time to time. :) Or skip it and go read Bach’s quotes again. That may be what I’d do.

Soundtracks & Stories I: She Ran
Free Download at Bandcamp

And, lastly…what’s the point of talking about music, without listening to the songs that evoke the feelings for which the quotes were written:


Storytelling, Strymon Pedals, New Song for Free & Thanks

Can 30 Rock inspire a blog post on music? A couple weeks ago, 30 Rock had an episode based around the death of writing as a profession. It was spot on, to say the least. And if you don’t think it was spot on, just go watch Transformers again (any of them…1,2, or 3 in a couple months…it doesn’t matter), and remember that that dialogue, and that plotline, were in movies that have collectively grossed over half a billion dollars. Obviously, writing is not necessarily needed anymore in order for people to participate in what was once an art form.

And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. We all need to veg every once in a while. Personally, I love some stuff that might be considered on the more artistic side of things: Das Experiment, Following, Paris Te Jaime…(oh, and of course it’s way cooler to list the ones you like that happen to be foreign). But there are times, after a hard day at work, when I just plain don’t care about the subconscious tendencies of our species as a whole, and I want to watch Kevin Bacon outrun man-eating desert worms. Or Jason Statham defy physics by turning cars in mid-air. Or even the little Even Stevens kid getting chased by Ferrari’s that turn into alien cyborg robots. No writing required. And sometimes, I don’t care that no writing was required. Just like I don’t always want to hear Bono reminding me how bad the world is. Sometimes I’d rather hear Daft Punk sing ‘Around the World’ in a scale that doesn’t quite work. There’s sometimes an actual art that goes into making something that’s fun, enjoyable, and a little bit (in a very good way) mindless.

But if all I had was Tremors and Daft Punk, I think there’d be something missing. And if you saw the episode of 30 Rock, that was what Liz Lemon was saying. Of course, if you do watch 30 Rock, any time you find yourself agreeing with Liz Lemon is definite cause for worry. Nevertheless, her argument was that storytelling is an ancient artform that people crave on some level. Be it music, or film, or painting, or writing…we want to be taken somewhere that is not our own lives, and be reminded of either all that’s still good and green in this world (ya, I ripped that off of Tolkien…I’m a nerd), of all that is bent and broken and the inspiration to change it, or of everything we do not understand but hope to one day grow to grasp.

I could, of course, be way off. But I know that at the very least, that’s how it is for me. I want to be taken somewhere. I want the music to which I listen to take me on a journey; I want the films I see and the books I read to envelop me and change me on some primal level. Not all the time…sometimes it’s Kevin Bacon. But a good portion of the time. I want to be told stories.

And I can’t think of any better place then, to put my new current project. I want to tell stories, even if it’s only to the twelve of you who listen. 😉 But more importantly, I want to say thank you. There’s an odd little community that has formed here, that I never expected. And for the last couple months, I’ve been risking the well-being of that community by promoting in almost every post my new musical ventures. And not once has anyone bashed me for that. In fact, the support has been incredible. So to say thank you, this new project is absolutely free. It’s something way different, so it may end up on the contrary that I have to pay you to download it, but I really hope it takes you somewhere. And it’s nice to be able to tell a story through both music and the written word, and not charge for it.

So, this is where my journey has taken me, and I hope you enjoy it. By the way, most of the sounds here are exclusively the Strymon Brigadier and Blue Sky. (Mmmm…too late to be cool new love affair with Strymon.) There’s also some Arion SAD-1 and SPH-1, DC Timeline, and Hartman Vintage Germanium, but there’s rarely a time when there’s not those. So please feel free to click the link below the video, and download both the full 15-minute soundtrack mp3, and the 6-page story; put on headphones, and then read and listen together.

Soundtracks and Stories 1: She Ran
Free download at Bandcamp…thank you all!

And I’d encourage you to do the same. I think we all have something to say, and a particular audience with whom to communicate. When you write music, don’t just think of the style, or the tone, or the chord structure. Use those things to help make your music tell a story. Whether you’re writing an original song, whether you’re crafting a guitar line for a song, or whether you’re in a worship service copying someone else’s guitar line. Make it tell a story. And one that’s from your heart. It’s the realness to which people connect. And while we’re on it, I’m probably the worst at just playing some random notes that sound decent, rather than trying to craft a story. haha But that’s why I’m on this journey, and why we’re all on it together. To be able to better each other with art, and stories, and music; and also to tell each other, when we’re so immersed in our own self-important art, to chill out for a second, sit down, and watch Die Hard.

And again, thank you.


Oh Great…Real Bullets!

Because these are bullet posts, but I don’t want to call them that, but I’m running out of titles for them, and Steve Martin is much more creative than I am.
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you need high quality cables, contact Matt Solomon at clearsoundmusic@gmail.com . He’s pretty much my exclusive cable supplier now. (That just means I buy all my cables from him…but the first way sounds way cooler.)
  • Beneath the clothes, we find a man. And beneath the man, we find…his…nucleus…
  • Okay, you just never know when it comes to hum issues. I developed some increasingly bad noise in my rig a few weeks ago. Spent hours trying to figure it out. Turns out the Lava mini-ELC cables do not like to touch the Fryette Valvulator. Or be anywhere near it. Haven’t had a weird one like that since discovering that Teese Wah’s don’t like Timeline’s. With that one, I could literally move the wah over my board in shapes and get different hums like a theremin of ground loops.
  • And yes, I was tempted to keep it just for that purpose. 😉 I know you were wondering.
  • Recorded a new song with the Strymon’s. And unfortunately, yes, you can tell the difference between it and ones recorded with DD20’s and Behringer RV600’s. Not a huge difference, but there. No difference between the Strymon song and the ones recorded with Timeline’s, though.
  • Also, it’s May now. No Timeline 2 yet, and we’re all still alive?!! 😉
  • Had a dream that robot vacuum cleaners were actually transports from space for zombie predators we could take the form of any human. But if you touched them first, it rendered them powerless. So at the end of the dream, I’m hugging a zombie Danny Trejo with Predator dreads, so that his claws can’t go into my skin. It was weird.
  • The dream also took place in my junior high school. Don’t know what that means.
  • I also had a dream recently where I was sitting at a desk, and everyone I was mean to in my junior high school came walking through the door wanting to talk to me. And I tried to talk with every one of them in order to make right the fact that I had once made fun of them, but they were all talking too fast and I couldn’t keep up. I do know what that one means.
  • Played an folk/blues set a couple days ago at a church. I was extremely stoked to plug straight in to the amp. But they said they wanted delayed textures. I was very disappointed. Then I heard my delay again. And I was fine.
  • Heard a country-pop song in the post office about a ‘truck that ain’t much to look at, but gets him from a to b’, and started jammin’ to it. Something has gone terribly wrong.
  • Remember life before we were waiting for the Timeline 2? Ya. Me neither.
  • I don’t like Gungor. And yes, I’m fully aware that the only logical event following that statement is excommunication.
  • Matchless is making me re-think my stance that the guitar is the most important part of your chain. I’m not there yet, but I’m revisiting it. Because anything you throw at that amp is turned into magic with very little skill on my part. And for those of you who think that’s snobbish because Matchless are expensive, sell your three buffers, two clean boosts, eight overdrives, Empress SuperDelay, Eventide Timefactor, and El Capistan; and buy a Matchless, Fatboost, and an Echo Park. I can almost guarantee you you’ll love your tone more. That’s just a quick note on how to get good clean tone. You may or may not agree. But even if you don’t, you do. 😉 And it doesn’t have to be Matchless. Just remember, $2,000 on pedals will more than likely never get you a clean tone as good as $1,000 on a good amp and a good guitar. (Disclaimer: for those of you who may be new here, I got my Matchless used and at a screamin’ deal. I did not pay the $3750 or whatever they are new. Not even half of that. lol I still have to live somewhere and eat things. haha)
  • Also, a First Act guitar, Crate 10 inch, and a Toneczar Echoczar. That’ll do the trick, too. 😉
  • I think we’re way off. (And whatever that makes you think about, you might need to do something about it. Me too.)
  • Neil Young? Old Man live at Massey Hall? Haunting.
  • Is it cheesey that I’m listening to Mitch and Mickey right now? Yes. If Eugene Levy is singing through your laptop speakers, it’s cheesey. And surprisingly beautiful.
  • I had something in here on churches. But I expressed myself quite poorly. So I’ll bite the bullet, leave a blank spot here, and try to do a better job with a full post in the near future. The last thing I want is to create confusion as opposed to honest discussion leading to encouragement. Suffice to say, God is love…and I am learning continually how far that seemingly simple statement goes.
  • And have I mentioned too often how much I want a None More Black pedal? Nope. Not possible. I’m also holding out for a Menatone ‘Preserved Moose’ fuzz pedal.