Half Power Switches

…are best when off.

Got to play an outdoor deal today using all 4 EL84 tubes for the first time in a long time. And it was lovely. I’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort to get my rig to sound good at low volumes. And it’s just so great when I don’t have to use any of it.

As always…if it sounds bad, just turn it up.

Splendid.
Karl.

Gear, Rig, & Pedalboard Update – with Ambient Walk-Through

Took me a while, but it’s finally done. And in that spirit, I won’t bore you with some long intro making fun of Kurt Russell in Soldier. And Mowgli. And if you get that reference, you grew up in the ’90′s and had The Family Channel.

First Example of Tone from the Rig

Guitar Rig – April 2012

Guitars

–Prairiewood Hardtop (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups, coil tap on bridge pickup)
–1996 G&L Fat Strat (Duncan in the back, soon to be Anderson, coil tap on the bridge humbucker)
–Godin FFX acoustic & electric (soon to be Wolfetone Marshallhead and Wolfetone Dr. V pickups, coil taps on both pickups)

Meaning, I have the pickups sitting on my desk and am lazy.

Pedalboard

Hartman Vintage Germanium fuzz–>
Fryette Valvulator buffer–>
Skreddy Lunar Module silicon fuzz->
Loop-Master bypass strip–>
(Tuner Out–>Peterson Strobostomp
(Loop 1–>Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 boost
(Loop 2–>Ibanez TS7 overdrive (modded, and in hot mode, used as a fuzz)
(Loop 3–>Boss OD1 distortion (original, possibly 1979/80…the insides don’t seem to fit any listed specs)
(Loop 4–>Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire overdrive/compressed distortion
(Loop 5–>Fulltone Fatboost v1 (12 volts)
(Loop 6–>Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 boost
Loop Master bypass strip–>
(Loop 1–>Arion SPH-1 phaser (original, ’80′s)
(Loop 2–>Danelectro Tuna Melt
(Loop 3–>George Dennis optical volume pedal
(Loop 4–>side one of Digitech Jamman
(Loop 5–>Strymon Brigadier
–>Strymon Timeline
(Loop 6–>Arion SAD-1 delay (black box version)
(Loop 7–>Strymon El Capistan delay and reverb
(Loop 8–>side two of Digitech Jamman
(Loop 9–>Boss NF1 noise gate (possibly something else soon…I’ve never turned this on)
Strymon Blue Sky reverb

Amp

Matchless HC30 (modded first channel to Spitfire specs, JJ tubes)–>
65 Amps birch 2×12 cab (Scumnico 30 mic’d & Celestion Blue sometimes mic’d)

Ambient Pad Rig

My guitar pre-recorded in all 12 keys loaded onto an iPod–>
Ernie Ball VP Jr.–>
Epiphone Valve Jr. or direct box

Secondary Acoustic Rig

Boss TU2–>
Ernie Ball VP Jr.

Miscellaneous Gear

Evidence Audio cables (Matt Solomon-made)
JJ tubes (Eurotubes-selected)
Curt Mangan pure nickel strings
Herdim blue picks (ya, ya, I know)

And last but not least, Brady Cases pedalboard case, made out of polypropelene, at Brady’s suggestion. Keeps that giant pedalboard surprisingly light. I can actually lift it into my car, but I still feel that everything’s very protected in there.

————————————

Rig Demo Video

Chapter Listing

0:00 Ambient Stuff
0:14 Rig Overview
0:33 ’96 G&L Strat
1:10 Prairiewood Hardtop
1:44 Godin FFX acoustic/electric dual run-through
2:15 Ambient Pad Rig
3:02 Matchless HC30 (modded)
4:11 65 Amps Cab (Scumnico & Blue)
4:28 Hartman Vintage Germanium fuzz
5:10 Fryette Valvulator
5:23 Skreddy Lunar Module silicon fuzz
5:55 Loop-Master bypass strip
6:02 Peterson Strobostomp tuner
6:07 Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 boost
6:11 Money-Saving Tone Tips (knob covers, strap locks, used gear)
6:46 Ibanez TS7 fuzz (modded, on hot mode)
7:11 Boss OD1 overdrive
8:00 Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire overdrive
8:39 Fulltone Fatboost v1
8:50 Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 boost

8:56 Overdrive Stacking Demo

9:53 (Effects run-through…no demo’s until the end of the section)
9:54 Loop-Master bypass strip
10:02 Arion SPH-1 phaser (’80′s)
10:10 Danelectro Tuna Melt tremolo
10:42 George Dennis optical volume pedal
10:53 Digitech Jamman Looper
11:18 Strymon Brigadier
11:26 Strymon Timeline (with demo)
12:35 Arion SAD-1 delay
13:02 Strymon El Capistan delay

13:28 Effects Demo of Entire Effects Section

15:02 Boss NF1 noise gate
15:22 Strymon Blue Sky reverb
16:25 Quick Tone Tips (capo’s slides, powering your board)

16:50 Ambient Looping and Effects Walk-Through

21:02 Completely Clean Tone

21:16 Same Clean Tone adding delay and reverb

21:32 Ending with some Wanna-Be Rock with the Lunar Module and Matchless

Second Example of Tone from This Rig

——————–

I hope that gives a very quick idea of what some of the rig can do, and how I do some of my basic effects. Obviously, there’s a ton more that this stuff is capable of, but I figured 22 minutes was high time to stop. Keep in mind as you watch and feel the need to advise me to sell my gear and feed a country, that this gear feeds me and my family. ;) This one pedalboard has to be able to create movie soundtracks, worship guitar, worship guitar while singing, r&b sessions, rock sessions, etc. I could split it up into a few different boards, but you’d be surprised how many times I’m asked to cross the ambient effects over style and genre lines. Secondly, 95% of this gear is bought used, and I’ll give a little secret…Guitar Center used section, in store and online. They often don’t know what they have or don’t care, as opposed to eBay and Gear Page, which know waaay too much. :) And lastly, a good portion of this gear has been given by companies to demo, or by some of you kind blog readers, or as gifts on holidays when I just have as many watches and toiletry kits as I could ever use. Another secret…ask for eBay gift cards and save them up. This stuff has been collected over 10 years.

And having said all that, yes…it’s still probably more than I need. Tone is fun. Gear is funner.

Splendid.
Karl.

Scott Walker Guitars

Not to ruin the discussion I didn’t start in the post below (hehe), but thanks to Facebook, I am now currently selling every piece of gear I own in order to obtain what I am dubbing the perfect mix of love and pirate tone:

Scott Walker Guitars.

Splendid. Oh so splendid.
Karl.

Kitsch, Klon’s, & Khloe

I was in the gym the other day, bench-pressing my earth-shattering 33 pounds, and a show I did not know existed was on the television. I could not turn off said show, because the person who was in the gym before me was enthralled. This show was called ‘Khloe and Lamar’, and the entire thing centered around Khloe trying to get Lamar to eat a sandwich. It made my heart hurt for America a little bit. But it also made me realize that these are the things about which I write my bullet posts, and that I have not partaken of my kitsch (I have to admit, I don’t really know what that word means, but I do believe it makes me sound cool…one of those words that no one really knows what it means, which means you are free to use it and sound cool ad hoc…and let’s hope that one means what I think it means, too) blend of fake wit, real snobbery, and somewhere-in-between humility, in quite some time:

  • Strat’s are the new Tele’s. I say that so I can feel validated playing one even when everyone else is too in the next two years.
  • The internet is awesome. I saw a message board post accusing Klon-builder Bill Finnegan of continuing to build old Klon’s and sell them used on ebay for thousands of dollars. It said something to the effect of, ‘I have no proof of this, but I’m pretty sure…’ Freedom of speech at its finest.
  • Speaking of Klon’s, the new one is not out yet, and has been promised for over two years now. People are getting irate. We deserve the new Klon now! In dire need, our only courses of action are to pay the outlandish used market price or buy a clone. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Because buying a different overdrive pedal isn’t even an option. No good recordings have ever been made without the use of a Klon. Hendrix? Page? Edge? Mayer? Clapton? Vaughan? If only they’d had a Klon so we could truly enjoy their tone.
  • Why have I been using the term ‘in spades’ lately?
  • Finished the trash can outro of a song in F# yesterday, with a little solo in the key of Fm. It was either terrible or a diminished 9th scale.
  • Gave the technique of saturating your signal with gain pedals while pulling back on your post-gain volume pedal a try. Cool, yet different flavor of tone! I tried this because my volume pedal was halfway down, and I couldn’t figure out why my sound was so low, so I just kept adding gain pedals. Usually, when you have less volume, you check your volume controls. I did not. Those of you who were also playing your sixth Easter service in one weekend, will sympathize.
  • So the verdict is in for me: JJ’s over Tung-Sol’s. My last bi-yearly tube replacement, I went with Tung-Sol’s to give te competition a try after a few years of almost exclusively JJ’s. One burned out my Valvulator, and the EF86 in my amp went bad way too quickly. In lieu of buying a new EF86, I’ve been using the first channel on the Matchless for the last couple weeks and very much enjoying it. But yesterday I remembered I still had the old JJ EF86 tube, rolling around in my rack drawer. I swapped it back in, and oh my. Tone. Other people say they have had the opposite experience with those two tube companies. In which case, play the one that works for sure. For me, JJ’s work.
  • Going along with my recent facebook post, I continue to be blessed by people. At an evening service last night, the sound guy is a keyboardist who is one of the best musicians I’ve ever met, and does some professional musician work. He runs sound at that service because there was a need, and he can do more for the overall music from the booth than from the piano. People talk about the heart of worship, well that’s it right there.
  • So I’ve been playing this Godin FFX hybrid guitar. It’s a 335 hollowbody style with an added jack for the piezo pickup. It’s the only acoustic/electric hybrid I’ve played where the acoustic side actually sounds halfway decent. Don’t know why more people don’t think of using the hollowbody model for the hybrids. It’s electric sound is already proven, but it also gets that sound from a hollow wooden chamber that is perfect to mic for an acoustic. However, that does mean that I’m now running my electric rig, my acoustic rig, my keyboard pad loop rig, and the click track, all while singing. I get off the stage and my head hurts. Oh, and sometimes mistakes are made. ;)
  • Where has the Skreddy Lunar Module been all my life?
  • Lead by example.
  • I was playing my ’96 G&L that I got for a screaming deal into my original Boss OD1 that I got for $30, and I realized that for as much as I rail against Guitar Center, a good portion of my tone comes from their used section.
  • If your church isn’t doing ‘In Christ Alone’, then you need to be. ;) It works acoustic, full band, vocals only…, people actually sing and worship to it (novel concept, I know), and it is theologically rich. The lyrics remind why you started leading worship through music in the first place; and it wasn’t pedalboards, stages, Toms, smoke machines, iPad’s, amps versus direct boxes, internet gear forums, churches, or pretending to be Hillsong. There was a time when you wanted to worship Christ alone. I say this as much for me as anyone. I know it goes in waves in our lives and in Christian culture, but let’s not let the tide roll back out for a while.
  • I need to go take a shower. Cue the doorbell for my Fedex direct signature only package.

Splendid.
Karl.

Free Ambient Pads for Easter

Hey everyone,

I know a lot of you are planning big things for Easter services at your church, and even though my ambient pads are free for anyone emailing me that they are for church or non-profit use, it’s possible that there are those who both don’t have the money and may feel a little uncomfortable asking for them for free. So, through Sunday, the price is set to zero on Bandcamp. :) If these can help in any way in your church’s celebration of a huge and powerful God giving his life for people like us, but then conquering death, then I want them to be available for just that.

Click here to download the Ambient Pad Bases album.

Click here for a video demo and rundown of how to use them in a live setting.

What these in essence do, is allow no dead pauses in between songs, and fill in the gaps during the low parts of songs. But they fade into the background when the full band is in. My hope is that, during the craziness that churches sometimes become entrenched in during Easter, that having these pads taking up the dead space will allow you, as you lead worship, to focus less on making sure the music sounds good, and more on leading worship. Or, put another way…on Easter less, and Jesus more.

Splendid.
Karl.

Live

This is Joshua Bell. A few nights earlier, he had sold out a $100-per-seat show in a Boston theater. He decided to do an experiment and play in a New York subway and just see what would happen. Obviously, not a lot happened. :) There’s a ton of conclusions to draw from this, but for me there are a few that standout:

1) Great music does not necessarily mean people will stop and listen. ;) Of course, that’s not really an excuse to tell yourself that you really are a musical prodigy, people just don’t ‘get’ your genius. So this point is works best when taken with a good dose of self-realism at the same time. hehe

2) Do we like art, or do we like being artistic? Would those people have jumped at the chance for a free $100 ticket to a Joshua Bell performance, but couldn’t care less if it’s just music in a subway?

3) Or do we need the cost of the ticket to let us know what good art is? Perhaps we’ve become unable to recognize it for ourselves.

4) I think the main thing for me is that there is some incredible music and incredible life going on all the time and usually we don’t care. Maybe because we can’t recognize it for what it’s worth, maybe because we actually enjoy the thought of it more than the thing itself…but it would be nice to actually realize life in all its beauty, and to live.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Or maybe no one who rides the subway likes classical music. Or riding the subway means you have no time, even if U2 were giving a free concert down there. Heresy, I know. ;)

P.P.S. This is in lieu of the promised pedalboard post, because yikes those things take a long time to film, write, and edit. Maybe I need a smaller rig. Nope.