Tonal Musings

Absolutely no idea where this is going. So I’m just going to free associate…which means that 90% of what comes out will probably be about tone. And of course, will all be irrefutable facts. Riiiigggghhht.

  • I could really use a Matchless HotBox right now. I think it’ll probably sound good…but moreso I just really want that backlit Matchless amp logo on the front of my board. That way, when I sound bad, people will go, ‘Oh wait. He can’t sound bad…he’s using Matchless stuff. It must be our ears that are wrong then.’
  • Compressors suck.
  • There is definitely something to be said for organization. I can’t believe I just said that.
  • Some really good tone just came on itunes. I was hoping it was a recording of my guitar that I had forgotten about. It wasn’t. It was John Mayer. Hey, I can hope, can’t I?
  • Whoa! Some really, really good tone just came on! It sounded so incredibly good, almost better than U2; and then I realized it was U2…just a song I forgot about. It’s really cool to be reminded every once in a while that I really do like U2 for their sound, not just because I’ve been in love for so long that I can’t imagine life without them.
  • I just watched the Star Wars Trilogy for the first time as an adult. The ewoks don’t really work, do they?
  • And when I say Star Wars, I mean the old ones…from the ’70’s. I have decided that the new ones do not exist. Which is pretty much how I deal with things I don’t like–deny their existence. So it’ll be pretty awkward if Antonio Banderas and I ever meet. Not sure why I think about these things.
  • Whatever happened to Mono?
  • Rhythm is so necessary. Uh, ‘on time’ rhythm.
  • I am having trouble reconciling how I can be so much greater than everyone else, but yet no one seems to notice. 
  • That was a joke, by the way.
  • Do you think you could find the proper angle to play acoustic guitar in a cavern to get dotted eighths?
  • There was this one time, I thought about hooking up my Gibson Falcon amp in my effects chain to use its reverb as an effects pedal. Could never get the logistics to work out properly, though. Looking back on it, that was probably a good thing.
  • I’m getting this horrifyingly wonderful urge to run stereo again. No I’m not. Wait. Yep. I want to.
  • Did I seriously just sell all my overdrive pedals, and then buy them back the next day? Are there issues here?
  • This will be the fourth time I have bought the Fulltone Fatboost. Yep. Issues.
  • The tone of Lisa Gerrard’s voice puts my guitar tone to shame.
  • If it’s Irish, it’s good. Except for Boondock Saints. Oh. Yep. I just said that.
  • I miss my other Holland. Man, I wish I had money. Then I could have so much gear I wouldn’t use! Those are good dreams…very good dreams.
  • Remember Chumbawumba?
  • Really dumb song just came on itunes. It wasn’t named. I could totally tell it was Christian, though…before the lyrics came in. Why is that?
  • hehehe Henry Kaiser sounds terrible.


33 thoughts on “Tonal Musings

  1. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say if you are in a cavern playing acoustic guitar and you want dotted eighths, it is going to depend on the tempo of the song as to what angle you should hold the guitar. But I’m thinking if it’s 130 BPM, try 130 degrees as a starting point. 😉

  2. I am going to wonder, for the rest of my days, if I can get a dotted 8th delay off an acoustic in a cavern.

    +1 on The Boondock Saints. I really really really wanted to like it……….nope.

    Mono as in the illness or Mono as in Mono/Stereo?

    +100000000 on Henry Kaiser sounding awful!

    I really need to find a cavern. hmmm

  3. I normally wish I had a higher voice, but my solid bass/baritone proved rather useful in a cave full of easily excitable girls from my church. Demon laughs are fun an caves. (As far as I can tell, a cave is just a cavern with less letters.)

    Also, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Boondock Saints was awesome.

  4. karl, good to meet you the other day. i sent you the clinic email. dude i bought a pedal for the 3rd time last month. think im gonna sell it again. your not alone…

  5. karl, good to meet you the other day. i sent you the clinic email. dude i bought a pedal for the 3rd time last month. think im gonna sell it again. your not alone…

  6. yeah, old school star wars! I don’t see an issue with someone selling all their pedals and buying them back the next day. It’s what makes the world go ’round! 🙂

    re: christian songs. yes, most are very typical. my 3-year old son can tell me before the vocals come in that it’s a christian song! not sure whether i should be glad for my son or sad for the christian music industry. maybe both

  7. compressors suck? what are you? a compressor nazi? I have a Kelsey and actually like it especially when I’m playing clean…of course, now that the “famous” guitar for worship guy doesn’t like it, people are going to look down on me…what am I going to do?

    • ooops! looks like someone’s spirit got “squashed” (pun intended) big time!

      just chill and do what you do, i’m sure people will still love you for who you are and how your compressed-clean tone sounds like 🙂

    • Robin:
      no worries, when I play alot of chords and rhythm, I use a compressor. A Ross clone fits great– my preference is the Barber Tone Press.

      🙂 Hang in there! hehe

  8. yeah compressors can be killers. I find that within the band context they can be helpful, but when playing all by yerself, man they can suck tone like no ones business. I’d even venture to say that the wrong setting on a compressor can kill your tone faster then a cheap pedal.

    that harry kaiser thing can’t be for real I’ve decided.

    • ahh… but a cheap pedal can be repurchased over and over with less pain. i think a pedal only sounds better after the 5th purchase (or maybe the dotted eighth?)

  9. “Compressors suck”

    hate it if my friends sounds more like a compressor than anything else, but than again he writes great songs

  10. Ryan–I’m so going to do that! It’s an obsession now. hehe

    Eddie–lol Me too! And I get another vote against Boondock Saints? No way! I thought I was the only one and I’d get railed for sure. Good times. And ‘Mono’ as in the vocalist. She had some good songs!

    Colty–hehe That’s funny. I had a friend one time who used to boast that he had a piano song that when played, was impossible to not attract at least 10 girls. I used to make fun of him for it, until he actually played it……12 girls immediately surrounded the piano. It was crazy.

    hehe And I was hoping to get a couple votes against me for Boondock Saints. I know it’s a cult classic, and I’m definitely in the minority on my viewpoint. I actually thought the writing was incredible. I just thought the directing a little rough, and a couple acting points a bit overblown. But the writing was so good though…the whole time I was thinking, what if they re-did this movie, but with like, Guy Ritchie directing? Sorry if that sounds like heresy. lol But honestly, I loved the writing in it, and there were some great moments.

    Ryan–you seriously don’t know how stoked I am to read that! haha

    Blake–hehe Props to you, sir. I wasn’t quick enough on the editing draw. 🙂

    Rhoy–that’s right! I’m just doing my part to stimulate the economy. lol

    And I’m so glad you’re seeing some of the same trends in Christian music. I will say though, that’s pretty amazing for a 3-year-old! get a guitar in his hands, quick! You could have the next Mozart. 🙂

    Scott–I have decided that I need more people like you in my life. hehe

    Robin–;) Sorry, brother! I had to throw a little controversy in there. Compressors definitely have their place…it just seems few people know how to use them; and I, just personally, think that most of what they do can be achieved without them. However, that being said, some of my favorite tone ever is Edge’s on ‘Streets Have No Name’……and he’s totally using a compressor on that. So, if you’re getting good tones out of it, then by all means, keep using it!! Bottom line is, if it sounds good to you and is helping you create music you love for God, go for it!! What I say is of no consequence. 🙂

    A good rule of thumb would be, if Edge uses something, but Karl says it sucks……go with Edge. hehehe

    Rhoy–absolutely. 🙂 This is where I just sit and wait for people to send me clips of their compressed tone to prove me wrong; and most of the time, they do prove me wrong. hehe

    Larry–uh oh! Now we’ve got two votes for compressors, and only one against. Maybe three! Rhoy, are you using compression these days? I’m getting outnumbered fast! hehe Again, bottom line, bro……if it’s helping you create good music, I’m all for it. Unless it’s flange. Now there’s an effect that can never help create good music! 😉 …………Kidding, kidding.

    Kenrick–great comment. Yes, they have their place, but yes, they can also be worse than a cheap pedal. Not sure I can say it much better than you did. Props!

    Jamie–No! You did not just say that! From this day on, I’m not going to search forever on how I can buy and re-sell a pedal ‘dotted 8th’ amount of times. What is that…3/16? How am I going to do that? Buy 16 of them, but only sell 3? You have raised the bar for buying and selling pedals, my friend. 😉

    Ben–Score! Another vote against compressors! I’m not outnumbered as badly now. lol But you’re right, if it’s helping him write good songs, then more power to him. I guess compression works for him…doesn’t work for me, though. At least this month. 😉

    • Everybody is WAY too serious…I was just doing some good-natured whining! I completely understand…I wish I could hang out with a bunch of you guys and just play…listen…adjust…etc. My bass-player son is doing most of my tone advising these days cause he is a serious gear head…does research like noone I know and is starting to build his own clones now. So…more to come.

      By the way, got my new amp. I’m going to get the hang of it and then record a video for people to hear and critique!

      Keep up the great blog…


  11. Compressors….hmmm…they have their place. Mark Knopfler makes a living using one. I would imagine that most anything recorded guitar wise has been compressed and or limited.

    Now Ewoks…..Ewoks suck!

  12. hey karl! yes, that is my plan, to give my son a guitar right away. he doesn’t have to be the next mozart, at least he can be my retirement plan 😀

    and no, i don’t own a compressor and not planning on getting one anytime soon. i don’t really get compressors that much. imho, squashing dynamics with a pedal sounds like a band-aid fix to a bigger problem. and again, that’s just my opinion. so there you go, count me as “against” compressors! btw, there is no guarantee that i will stick to this comment in the future 🙂

  13. No compressors for me. Ignorance is bliss if it is being added at the board. I do like some songs by the Innocence Mission where you can tell that he’s using a compressor. Some rock guys use a compressor to aid with the controlled feedback. Controlled feedback is good.
    Am I the only one who knows Mono? So you like Lisa Gerrard? Have you heard the band Bat For Lashes? It’s like a great 4AD band but in the present day.
    I haven’t seen Boondock Saints but I saw the documentary, Overnight, about the director and his success/decline. I didn’t have any desire to see his movie after watching that.
    Caverns are analog so you’re not going to get good dotted eighths 🙂

  14. Mark–lol That was awesome!

    Rhoy–haha Good times! And man, I feel the exact same way about compressors.

    Dan–totally agreed on the compressors. And I love Lisa Gerrard, and am stoked that you dig Mono. I’ve yet to hear Bat for Lashes, but I’m on my way now!

    And I’m literally laughing right now at the caverns being analog. Good form, my friend. Good form.

    Mark–oh! Sweet follow-up joke, too. You guys are on a roll. haha

    Larry–hmm, good point. So, is cavernous delay being analog worth the difficulty to position yourself in the correct place for dotted 8ths? lol 😉

    Tom–that was amazing.

  15. So, this may seem like a silly, obvious question, but how do you typically buy/sell gear? I know you’re not a fan of Guitar Center (it makes me feel dirty to be in there too, but sometimes there’s not another guitar shop within 200 miles), so is it all craigslist? Thanks!


  16. I recommend going to garage sales and thrift stores, keep your eyes open there is sometimes cool stuff In garbage bins you never know where the next cool gear is coming from but it is all around you you just need to be open to it. I found one of my favorite guitars in my neighbors garbage can. I found one of the first casio keyboards in a ditch while walking my dogs I went by it for three days before I noticed it was a really cool old key board, it needed a fuse and good cleaning now its great. I recently found a boss dm 2 at a salvation army as is basement cost was fifty cents last month I picked up an fx 90 delay at good will for fifteen bucks. If you are alert you will find the cool gear coming to you. I still buy expensive gear but there is a special place in my heart for the found and thrifted gear happy hunting I bet you are very close to something great . Oh buy the way if you go to garage sales ask them if they have any music stuff often garage sale people have stuff they want to sell that is not on display.

  17. Ben–I do 90% of my buying and selling through Gear Page. (There’s a link under my ‘links’ section.) The other 10% is through e-bay, craigslist, and friends. 🙂 But Gear Page is awesome!

    Hannigan–welcome!! I’m so jealous right now of that DM2 score! I haven’t found a good deal like that in a while. You seem to really know your stuff. Good times, and great to have you here!

  18. Robin–hehe That’s what I figured, but I wanted to be safe. Not everyone in the world is as cool as you are if something they like gets made fun of. lol 🙂

    And what amp did you get?!

    Nate–the video got deleted, methinks. Stupid youtube upholding copyrights. 😉 lol

  19. What do think about guitar pickups hummbuckers or single coils ? I go back and forth tonight its hummbuckers in my Guild x 79 Sky Hawk, they are its stock pickups and they are sweet and trouble free. But most of my favorite guitars are sporting single coils, but they are finicky and harder to dial in a good sound on, but when you do they really sing. I put emg active pickups in a cheap rg 120 (Ibanez), but they just never sound that great to me Maybe they need a bigger amp to really preform, I favor small vintage amps and re amp if need be. The emgs look spiffy though I’m never quite sure when to put in a new battery. I wont even mention piezo, darn it I just did. What pickup camp are you in?

  20. Sorry, must’ve missed this post! I tend to use humbuckers more, but I do enjoy good single coils, also. Buckers just seem to give me what I’m after more often. Probably strictly a preference thing. And I’m not very big into emg’s or active pickups on guitar. Especially because of the battery part, like you mentioned! hehe 🙂

  21. I liked the first Boondock Saints. The new one, not so much.

    I’m not a fan of compressors either. I heard this about them that seems to make sense. The local guitar hero/tone guru in my area said he likes to use a compressor (Keeley 2-knob) when he’s playing and leading worship to keep everything full but not so much when he’s jamming on blues or something because it takes away the ability to vary the gain with your volume knob and/or picking dynamics.

  22. Ya, they have their place for sure. I can see them for sustain or to even things out. I just prefer playing dynamics over that. And usually playing dynamics, when done properly, can even things out fairly well. 🙂 Just wish I could do them properly. hehe

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