But This Time…

  • I have said that I will never, ever, under any circumstance, sell my Holland, my Melancon, my Tim, my four Blues Junior’s, my Gibson, my Hartman, my Timeline, my Matchless, my Goatkeeper, my six Memory Lane’s, and my seven DD20’s. But this time…I’m never selling my G&L.
  • I have spent ludicrous amounts of money on last minute gear for that one gig that’s totally going to finally be the one. And then it wasn’t. Neither was the next one. But this time…this next gig is totally going to be the one. And I could really use a stereo plus wet/dry rig for it.
  • I have put off practicing so many times because I like to think that I’m good enough to pull it off just in the moment. Turns out that just thinking something doesn’t necessarily make it so. But this time…oh I can totally pull off those songs without practicing.
  • I have owned over fifty delay pedals, and none of them have made me famous. But this time…the lack of an Echoczar is pretty much the only thing that’s holding me back.
  • I have watched time and again as pedals of which I love the tone, have sounded worse and worse to me as the general tide of opinion shifted in direct accordance with their daily lack of newness. But this time…no one likes the Timeline anymore? Oh ya, totally. I heard that all along. I was just using it until something better came out.
  • I have been fooled in blind tests over and over again. But this time…that $500 one definitely sounds better. No need for a blind test.
  • I think that a pedalboard full of Boss pedals makes you look like you really don’t know tone, but just bought whatever Guitar Center told you to. But this time…maybe I’ll let me tone speak for itself. (That’s pirate talk.)


P.S. Don’t be surprised if you ever see a shootout here between Boss pedals and a new brand of boutique pedals that later turn out to be rehoused Boss pedals. 😉 It’s just the way those chips echo in the symmetrical metal enclosures, though. Really makes a difference. And yes, I’ve actually heard that before.

Good Old Grass Roots Talent

There’s just no substitute. No, not even delay. Well, maybe delay.

Thanks to Joel Harrell for posting this on my Facebook wall.

Five folks (two behind the camera), some talent, and some Handel. All you need, really. And maybe a suspect amount of reverb on the recording. 😉 I’m gonna just say that’s a good choir room they’re singing in. Either way, super refreshing to hear amazing, yet under-produced music. The world could use more of that.


Listening Station & Thanks

I’m extremely proud to introduce some new music I’ve been working on. Most of you guys know that I really enjoy ambient music, and somehow that’s translated in the last year and a half into scoring some independent films. So last January I started scoring a film called ‘Semblance’, little self-produced indie flick, but with one of the best screenplays I’ve ever read. And unexpectedly, that turned into a real soul-searching, self-expressive six months of writing for me. Or maybe just something nice to do with all that gear we buy, right? 😉 Either way, I’m excited to share this blog post with you as a listening station for that music.

And the thanks. Just reading this blog means a lot to me, especially when I say dumb things. I really don’t have an idea of how many of you here are into ambient stuff, but there is one track within this collection, one of my favorites, that is free. Just a small way to say thanks. It’s the first video below. Thanks, everyone, and like it or hate it, I’m very proud to share this piece of myself. And for the gearheads, there’s a bit about the gear and recording process at the bottom.

(This is the free track. Completely free download right here: ‘Cityscape’ off of ‘Our Dreams are Made of Rain’ on Bandcamp.

And if you’re enjoying that, here’s a youtube playlist with ten songs from the album. They’ll all play right in a row: YouTube Channel ‘Karl Verkade Ambient Music Playlist’

All sounds are real, and came from amps and vocal chords. Nothing wrong with computer-generated stuff, but this is how I chose to do it this time. Your amp is the regular Matchless HC30, with Blue and Scumnico 30. Guitars were the Prairiewood Hardtop, ’96 G&L strat, and Godin FFX.

Delays: Strymon Timeline, Strymon Brigadier, Strymon El Capistan, Arion SAD-1

Tremolos: Diamond, Danelectro (seriously)

Drives: CA Holy Fire, EH LPB-1, Fulltone Fatboost, ’79 Boss OD1 (amazing textural pedal)

Fuzzes: Hartman Vintage Germanium, Skreddy Lunar Module Deluxe

Reverbs: Strymon Blue Sky

Phasers: Arion SPH-1

Loopers: Digitech Jamman Stereo, Boss RC20XL

Thanks again for reading, listening, and for the community that’s been created here really with or without me. (Yep! 😉 ) Hope you enjoy the free song, and for those of you who are interested, a link to the full album and included ep (22 songs) is below. Thanks for letting me take a break from tone talk and share this with you! Always nice to actually play and write a little music, instead of just talking about it.

‘Our Dreams are Made of Rain’ on Bandcamp


Saddle Up Your Horses

So my team convinced me to do Hillsong’s ‘Endless Light’ this week for the first time (yes, I’m the old guy now who has to be coerced by all my younger worship leaders into doing anything new), and every single time I hear the end of the chorus, I want to sing, ‘…to sing your praise…this is the great adventure!’ Which of course is from this CCM gem:

Absolutely, just completely fantastic. And I’m definitely talking about the keyboardist using the sawhorses as a stand. (We’re so doing that this week, guys…and you say I never try anything new.) But I have to admit, there is something endearing about some of the older Christian music. I don’t know if it’s reflections of childhood for me, the impeccable orchestration in anything that comes out of Nashville, or the fact that’s it’s old and retro. Lyrically, maybe a little cheesey, but maybe this is the now almost 30-year-old me speaking, but the message hits home a bit. Wow, I am uncool in this post! 😉 But you know what? I wear Toms and I like Steven Curtis Chapman. Actually, I think the liking Steven Curtis Chapman one may actually be hipper.

It’s amazing how songs stick with you…and almost become a part of you. And Hillsong definitely didn’t rip it off…maybe the last two notes are the same, but it jumps in my head because it’s a part of me. So while we’re at it, I’m not a fan of everything Hillsong does, but props to them for this song with a melody people can sing, good lyrics, and that ‘communal’ vibe which I think is so crucial to worship music, and overlooked so often.


P.S. I think someone posted this in a comment last month, but I cannot find it. So if it was you, please stand up and receive your infamy.

Rockstars, and Worship Leading for the Rest of Us

Sing it out, Church! Yes. Because people love being referred to as a giant, indistinguishable mass, by someone who is quite obviously, not within that mass. There’s a reason why Chris Martin never says, ‘Let’s go, audience!’ You treat people as individually as you would want to feel, should you find yourself not on stage for a week. Remember how you would feel, and speak, push, prod, and encourage…only accordingly, and only when necessary.

You can only push and prod people so much during a worship set; so save the pushing and prodding for spiritual matters, and don’t waste it trying to get people to sing to a song with an angular melody or an awkward rhythm. Because the point is, you can get people to sing almost anything. But is that really where you want to spend your time while leading worship? And is that really how you want to use up the congregation’s energy? It is usually much more expedient to choose songs that are easy for people to sing with and get into. Then you have their patience and energy at full store, when and if you need to push and prod to get them to connect with God.

I’ve seen it happen many times, and have unfortunately done it myself many times, where we’ve used up so much of the people’s patience encouraging (err…yelling, oftentimes) them to sing out on songs that are just so difficult that when it comes time to ask people to really engage with God on ‘How Great Thou Art’, that they are just plain done. More than likely, within the course of a month or so of worship services, you will have to push and prod a few times. No one particularly likes to be pushed and prodded, so save it for things that matter. And doing the latest and coolest and hipster-worshiping-in-the-forest-whence-my-beard-is-one-with-the-tree-branches-and-the-iphone-generated-lense-flare-est song, is not what matters.

New songs, old songs, all is fair game…if chosen for the right reasons. And one of our responsibilities is allowing people to sing and worship with us. For the love of all that’s good in this world, choose songs that have melodies and arrangements and instrumentations that people can sing and clap to. So many times I hear nobody singing, and the frustrated worship leader calling, ‘Sing it out, church!’ And the ‘church’ is like, ‘Seriously bro, we’re trying! But we don’t know which way the woooo-ooo-oooh’s go, which way you’re going to sing them this week, why they hit a note that even you have trouble reaching, and what wooo-ooo-oooh is supposed to mean anyway. Is that Hebrew?’ I understand that often it is difficult to get people to engage in worship, because they don’t want to. However, it’s sad and frightening to realize how often people do want to, and can’t because I don’t let them. Because I sat at Coffee Bean and searched youtube, and found the most amazing set list, with a great mix of brand new and retro songs, with super deep theological content, poetic lyrics, keys that flowed, and a skill level that fit the band. I even prayed about it. But so incredibly often, we forget to give even the slightest thought to what the congregation can worship to this week. And maybe if we could replace ‘congregation’ with ‘friends’, it would help us remember to think about them. Not the church, audience, congregation, fan base, or constituents…friends who are looking forward to singing their hearts out to the Lord, with or without the latest youtube trending video.

And then when you feel the need to encourage your friends to let go and connect with God, not only will their patience not be completely used up because of how much you’ve had to talk to them earlier as you tried to get them to sing the most difficult melody ever, but they will actually be able to.


P.S. As always, there are exceptions. The special song that you don’t want people to sing and is only in the set because of lyrical content, the fact that if you’re doing a good job leading people in worship that you just may end up somewhat famous, or the church that just did a series on ‘being the church’, and as such, there is a sense of joy and responsibility in being referred to as such. But don’t let these exceptions become your rule.

You Know You Love Talking Tone More than Tone When…

  • …when you open the box of your new Skreddy Supa Tone, plug it in, love the sound, and then go check gear message boards to make sure you actually love the sound.
  • …when you photograph your new pedal for ‘NPD’ or ‘NGD’ tweets, before plugging it in and playing it.
  • …when three days after photographing your new pedal for twittering and facebooking, you start to think, ‘I wonder what that pedal sounds like?’
  • …when you wonder that, you have to go onto Gear Page or the Facebook classifieds to buy another one, because you’ve already sold yours.
  • …when you know what ‘NPD’ and ‘NGD’ mean. (Side note…that took me a long time! I just smiled and nodded for a while.)
  • …when you create a thread pondering how people can really like the Klon, with its harsh mids, and unusable gain section. You’ve never owned one, played one, or heard one played live, but you are a connieuser of the youtube demos. Those iPhone speakers really know tone.
  • …when you spend more time editing your youtube pedal demo than you do actually practicing the riffs so you wouldn’t have to edit so much. (Hey, that’s me! 😉 )
  • …when the only time you actually play guitar is to let off steam because you’re bitter that no one has commented on your new witty post, thread, or blog yet.
  • …when you ask what the tonal differences are between a Diamond Memory Lane and a JHS Panther. You own both.
  • …when you hate shimmer because the internet said so.
  • …when you’re pretty sure you still like the RV5’s modulated reverb, but you have to scroll through previous threads to make sure that’s still okay.
  • …when you wake up in cold sweats after dreaming that you forgot to use the search function before posting a new thread.
  • …when you know all the tonal nuances of a Timeline, its quirks, how it compares to the original model… Now plugging it in and getting it to make sound? That’s a different story.
  • …when you’ve recommended people against the Fulldrive, and still wonder what it sounds like.
  • …when you’ve owned and sold two Tim’s, and still wonder if that might be just the thing your rig needs!
  • …when you want to get started out with delay, so you buy a TC Electronics 2290.
  • …when you buy two amps to run stereo, but aren’t actually sure how to make that happen.
  • …when you know you need a buffer. Something about your signal being like a garden hose…??? Now, did it go behind your effects, in front of your effects, in your Timeline’s effects loop…OOH!! That one looks cool!!!
  • …when you list youtube pedal demo stores amongst your favorite artists.
  • …when you can tell me the going market rate for a used Duesenberg right now.
  • …when you post about the tonal differences between the four versions of the OCD, but also pontificate about how there really is no difference between an AC4 and a Divided by 13.
  • …when you’re one of the few men in the world who get excited by the word ’boutique.’
  • …when you buy a bypass looper. You’re a little hazy on what a bypass looper actually does, though.
  • …when you’re at a gig, and in the middle of a song, one of your drive pedals starts fizzing out. Your band stares at you to turn it off, but you’re on your iPhone asking facebook if that’ll hurt your tubes or not.