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Gear geekout
Posted by: Mmrothenberg (IP Logged)
Date: July 18, 2008 07:08AM

Early in the blog, we had a thread called "Fab gear! Glide rides!" that talked about musical equipment (and the cars to haul them). Let's revive the topic now ... What did you play, do you play, would you like to play?

I want to play anything Dave Fleminger has.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 23, 2008 07:11PM

These days Im playing a Telecaster into the a 50 watt Music Man combo amp Ive owned for 20 years with a Fulltone OCD pedal.

Distortion pedals used to be such crap...and most of them still are... but now there are a few that actually sound as though you just took a clean amp and turned it up loud. I guess the companies that make them finally realized that people wanted them for things besides heavy metal. The Digitech Bad Monkey pedal is actually better sounding than the OCD and is 1/3 the price.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: July 23, 2008 07:30PM

Too funny. I gave all my gear away years ago. I did have a tascam 4 track for a while but that walked out of a practice space here in Kona not too long ago.

I have an early model (late seventies, early eighties?) Takamine G series that I love dearly. It has very sweet tones and very sweet action. It's wired for sound and I plug it in to whatever's next to me when I sit down. I no longer own an amp. Pretty sad, yeah?

I'm actually on the prowl for something I can use to record again- I suppose I'll have to learn to do it on the computer (I suck at learning stuff on the computer.) I have about twenty years of songs I've written that I'd like to record- kind of a cross between folk and classic rock with punk lyrics, pretty much. Any suggestions on what is versatile yet fairly easy to use, and what kind of preamp I'd need to have in order to record?

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 24, 2008 12:00PM

Toby... do you have a Mac by any chance? They come bundled with Garageband, a very easy to use recording program. If not, theres a FREE downloadable recording program called Audacity: [audacity.sourceforge.net] It's compatible with both mac and pc, and supposed to be really good.

The best thing you can buy for home recording is the Line6 Toneport: [line6.com] This device allows you to plug a standard XLR mic cable into it, and also plug your guitar directly into it as well. It comes with software called Gearbox, which digitally emulates the sounds of various amps and effects. The sounds you can get with it are really great... and it's fairly inexpensive.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: dflem (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 02:13AM

Audacity is an amazing program for being freeware!

The Line6 stuff is great...I've had good luck with M-Audio boxes too. I've got a MobilePre USB which runs offa USB power so you can be out with your laptop supplying power to everything -- two phantom-powered XLR's for mics and 2 inst jacks you can plug a guitar or keyboard directly into. It's scary...even Garageband's amp simulations are adequate. I've first grown accustomed to and then find myself actually preferring having the flexibility of shaping my amp tone after the fact now for many applications.

I've been using ProTools since the early 90's, when the ability to do digital audio of any quality was out of reach for most people. It's great to see that in recent years people don't need to shell out ridiculous bucks to be able to do good multitrack recordings on the computer. Cheap M-Powered (M-Audio) gear lets you take your sessions to better-equipped ProTools studios too, lots of flexibility there.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 02:52AM

Oh shoot! I thought I responded to this!

Thanks for the info, both Daves. Exactly the info I was looking for. I think I'm going to go for one of Line 6's products, after a little more research.

Thanks again.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 04:32PM

It amazes me that kids today have access to stuff like this for less money than we'd pay for a few hours of studio time in the 80s. I've got unlimited multi-track recording capablities, plus any amp sounds, effects and vocal processing I could want (and better sound quality than the cheap studios we used to use)...and all I spent was around $150 (not including the computer, of course). Imagine the archive of Che Underground music we'd probably have if we'd had this stuff.

>>>I've first grown accustomed to and then find myself actually preferring having the flexibility of shaping my amp tone after the fact now for many applications.

I read that the Pretenders just recorded their new album with PODs (the same digital modeling Gearbox uses), no real amps...and that some band like the Doobie Brothers uses PODs live instead of amps.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 04:35PM

Toby, the only difference between the different Toneport models is the amount of inputs. I have the one in the middle (I forget the model #), with one XLR input and one guitar input. That's probably all you'd need.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: dflem (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 04:52PM

Dave E -- the Fulltone pedals are fantastic, I use a Fulldrive 2 and the thing has a huge range on it and sounds so much more natural then the old fizzyboxes. In SD I had a Ross distortion, thankfully my ol' Musicman had a more useful distortion sound as the Ross was a squealbox. Haven't tried a Bad Monkey yet, hafta check that out.
Wish I had kept my 50 watt Music Man...what a great, reliable amp. Beat the crap out of it for 20 years and I don't remember it ever needing repair other than tubes or plug-jack attention..

These days for me it's usually either Fender Deluxe (louder gigs) or Princeton (quiet gigs, home playing)...I'm a recent convert to Tone Tubby speakers, finally broke down and installed one in my Deluxe Reverb...WOW. massive improvement in clarity and presence, massive increase in weight as well (espec with the ceramic model). Alnico next time.

Microphones are another piece of gear you can pick up now with the market saturated with affordable, quality models...large diaphragm condensors used to be over $1000, now you can get them for under $100 (granted they're made pretty cheaply on the low end but those MXL's are an excellent value)...it's really a great time to be making noise!

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: dflem (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 05:06PM

This weekend's the Bay Area Vintage guitar show...ohboyohboyohboy

[www.texasguitarshows.com]

the Los Angeles one is Aug 2-3 for all you down a bit more south

Most everything is ridiculously priced, and often in questionable condition (and originality), but you do have the opportunity to get your paws all over guitars you don't normally come in contact with at GC or your local stores..last show I spent half an hour going nuts over a 1918 Gibson L-1 -- it was well worn and obviously for a good reason -- the thing was full of music.
Every hour they enforce a 10-minute acoustic-only policy, thankfully the loud SRV licks stop for a blessed time and you can actually hear what you're playing.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 25, 2008 05:34PM

I agree...it's time to make some noise.

I abused the hell out of my amp too. For a few years I kept it in the trunk of my car in all kinds of weather and would just take it out for rehearsals and gigs. I just had it repaired for the first time...but it was just wires in the speaker plug that had melted together.

The distortion in my amp sounds cool if you turn it up all the way (otherwise the channel sounds too dark). It's not exactly a natural sound, but it's really smooth and compressed sounding. I never used it in a band, but lately I've been playing around with it for fun. Did you know some Music Man amps had built-in phases shifters? Now that would be cool...

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Paul Allen (IP Logged)
Date: July 27, 2008 03:57PM

I had a Music Man 40W w/12" speaker, solid state preamp, tube main amp that I used for every practice, performance and recording w/Hair Theatre. I always thought it sounded a little muddy, but I probably didn't turn it all the way up when we practiced. Now I have a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. It's 40W w/a 12" speaker. It has clean and distorted channels w/a footswitch. You can get just the amount of distortion you want, crunchy without that metal sound you're talking about Dave E. I gotta hear Tone Tubby now. The amp's pretty heavy as it is, so I'd prob'ly want the alnico too.

Fender has a new version of the Super Champ amp. The new version has a distortion/effects chip in it, so I don't know how it will sound. I heard one in the mid-80's that blew my mind it sounded so good. It was a 15w tube amp w/a preamp gain knob that would create a great distorted sound at low volumes. One of those 80's amps is going for $750 now on Craigslist.

I use a Jim Dunlop Jimi Hendrix JH-1 wah wah peddle sometimes that really does have that sound that Hendrix got. If you just leave it on the treble side it gives you that searing tone that Jimi had (maybe not quite as intense w/out the modified Marshalls, but pretty close).

Dave F., your description of your Carvin 12 string electric on the blog, seen in the "beaverface" photo, got me salivating. I've been working a lot of overtime lately, so in an attempt to make up for my prostituting a part of my lifespan away I ordered a 12 string from Carvin w/all the trimmings. It's going to have a sunburst finish that goes from blue on the edges to green in the middle on a quilted maple top. I'll have to hang it in a plexiglass case and never play it ha ha ha. I also just got a Korean-made Telecaster that I plan to soup up w/Lindy Fralin hand-wound single coil pickups. There's a repair shop in S.F. that has L.F.'s that has a blog [www.brawerguitarrepair.blogspot.com] w/tips on repair. They use copper tape and conductive paint on the back of pickguards and pickup covers to shield from resonant frequencies such as those found near the Coit Tower (take note Dave F.). Maybe it would reduce air traffic controller interference as well.

These are the first electrics I've had besides the Washburn (Stage A-20 or something) I played w/HT that I've had since I was 15. I quit practicing regularly when I went through an apprenticeship, and I didn't want to buy a guitar only to leave it in the closet. The blog has been inspiring me to pick it up again. Dave E., your mention of finger picking being central to much American music on the "listening to NOW" thread has inspired me to pick up a copy of Fingerstyle Guitar magazine, which comes w/a CD and has tab and staff transcriptions of the songs. When I first started playing I had a couple of teachers that taught me finger picking folk rock songs using tab.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: July 30, 2008 04:14PM

Paul... I think it was Dave Rinck that said that, but I completely agree. I always admired your own fingerstyle technique, btw. You never used a pick when you played in Hair Theatre, did you? It gave you a unique sound. Was it Robby Kreiger that influenced you there? I'm curious how you came to play that way...do you still play like that exclusively?

I've read lots of good things about Lindy Fralin pickups. There's a blog/information board devoted to Telecasters you might be interested in:tdpri.com
...if you're looking for any info on them, there are a lot of people who are very knowledgable to answer your questions...there are also a lot of people who love to spout off when they have no idea what they're talking about, but you can usually sort that out. Which model Telecaster did you get? The Lite Ash? ...that's the only Korean made model Im familiar with...it comes with Seymour Duncan pickups that sound great.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Paul Allen (IP Logged)
Date: August 02, 2008 04:07AM

Hi Dave, thanks,
I was influenced by Robbie Kreiger's playing but really, I played fingerstyle because I started that way and always felt more comfortable playing that way even though I learned to play w/a pick when I started playing rock. I mostly play fingerstyle now, but use a pick sometimes to get a big twangy bass note sound like with surf or country. I feel like I have to start over in music essentially now. I'm still stuck playing the same blues scale I always played. I've always had music theory phobia, but it's time to get over it. One artist I find inspiring now is Derek Trucks. He plays slide blues guitar but mixes in Indian scales. He's got a pretty awesome sound. I saw his band in S.F. last week and Carlos Santana popped up to jam on one song. That was pretty cool. But I'm venturing on to another thread now.

I did get the Lite Ash. The bridge pickup sounds good. The neck pickup is pretty weak, it might be how it's set up. I want to be able to get a Hendrix-like sound w/the neck pickup so I want to change it. I'll check out that web site. Thanks

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 02, 2008 05:06AM

I just picked up A Kala Tenor Ukulele, wired for sound.




Just lately I've had some major changes going on in my life (single again, shutting down my company and moving to another island and back to civilization) so I invested a little money I had put aside for this and got the Tenor Uke (I gave my last one- a cheaper Bushman Tenor- to a little girl I know who totally dug it. I tend to do that impulsively now and then with kids with musical interests.) as well as the M-Audio Firewire 410 (interface), the M-audio Axiom-25 (midi Controller), Protools M-powered 7, and the M-audio Nova condenser mic. And a stand and a couple other goodies. I've been wanting to record my stuff for a while now (a decade?) but put it off for more practical stuff. I have no idea how to use any of this and will probably take a year getting up to some kind of remedial level. But the guys I know at my local guitar shop gave me an unreal deal on the lot and one of them who I sit in with occasionally is going to help me get it up and running and run through some of it with me a few times.

I always go with the mid range Ukes. I'd really like 40s era Martin but I don't play them enough to justify having one. I can go into about any music store here in Hawaii and find one or tow under $400 that suit my needs pretty well (nice action, nice tone, slightly tinny for that cheesy retro Uke sound.)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2008 05:13AM by Toby.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Mmrothenberg (IP Logged)
Date: August 02, 2008 08:37AM

Oh, Toby, that's GORGEOUS! My wife got me a beautiful Cordoba (made in Portugal), and I also got a cheap Oscar Schmidt beater that has a pickup. (This Washburn looks cool; mine's shite!)

I did bring the piece 'o' crap to San Fran with me last year to jam at Dave Fleminger's studio.

I love the cutaway on your uke!

BTW, this guy makes my head explode ...





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2008 10:00AM by Mmrothenberg.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 02, 2008 01:39PM

Yeah- Jason rocks. He beats the crap out of his Ukes- like the Pete Townsend of Hawaiian contemporary music. His Brother Jake is also very impressive.

I use the Uke more like Troy Fernandez from the Ka'au Crater Boys- classic rock infused with Hawaiian instrumentals. Of course I feel it's a little better with lyrics like Tom Waits. They do a cover of Black Water by the Doobie Brothers that I feel is much better than the original. It doesn't hurt that Ernie Cruz Jr. is a freak on slack key guitar.

Of course Isreal Kamakawiwoole is at the top of everyone's best list over here. Hawaii '78 never fails to make me choke up a little.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 03, 2008 03:42PM

Okay- I need a little help here.

I picked up M-Audio's Firewire 410 (interface) and Pro tools M-powered 7 for my computer, and I've loaded everything exactly as instructed (as far as I know). I reboot the computer and I have power to the interface, firewire is hooked up but Protools boots up to a certain point and then a message pops up saying that it can't find my interface.

I erased the interface and reinstalled but still nothing.

The power supply is being kind of hinky. The phantom power comes on no problem but the main source light was blinking, so I unplugged the firewire and the power and then plugged in the firewire and then the power and it came on solid. But still the software isn't recognizing the interface.

I'm using a PC with XP2002 and I have 198 gigs free.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Mmrothenberg (IP Logged)
Date: August 03, 2008 10:47PM

Toby: Have you upgraded to XP SP3? Not that I know dick about configuring Windows, but maybe that would help ... And I would look online to see if there's a more-recent driver to download. It's very likely a driver issue.

(For the record, I bought a PreSonus FireBox for the Mac ... And the one time I tried plugging a mic in, a little wisp of smoke came out the back of the unit. So I put it away, and I haven't touched it since. So take my advice with a grain of salt!)

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 03, 2008 11:17PM

It was a driver issue. Thanks! Up and running now.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Mmrothenberg (IP Logged)
Date: August 03, 2008 11:21PM

OK, so now can you help me keep my unit from catching fire? (Wow! There's a pickup line.)

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 01:15PM

So between my acoustic guitar (wired with a pickup) and the interface (which has phantom power) do I still need some sort of amplifier? I can get my mics working perfectly but when I plug the guitar in I get barely anything. I'm assuming I do need something, and in lieu of an amp is there some sort of small, economical mixing board that might serve the same purpose?

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: dflem (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 02:50PM

What kind of an acoustic pickup do you have on your guitar?
You may need a preamp for it to boost the signal to line level.

There are tons of small mixing boards you could use (the little Behringer's come to mind immed), but specifically for the guitar signal's sake a preamp may be the best sounding solution. Depends on what pickup you have on there...?

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 04:37PM

Paul...

The stock Telecaster neck pickup will sound muddy and quiet if you dont adjust the tone when you switch between the pickups. It's one of the quirks of the Fender Telecaster. I ususally set my amp to where it sounds good on the neck pickup, then roll it off on the guitar when I switch to the bridge pickup. I love the sound of the neck pickup, but it wont really give you a Hendrix/strat sound.

If you want a Strat sounding neck pickup for a Telecaster, you might want to look at the Rio Grande Tall Boy. That's what it's made to do, and is the one that people on that Telecaster site usually recommend. I've thought about getting one myself for the same reason.

[www.riograndepickups.com]

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 10:13PM

Dave Flem said: What kind of an acoustic pickup do you have on your guitar?
You may need a preamp for it to boost the signal to line level.

I have either a Schaller pickup or a Fishman- I don't remember, but it's under the bridge, so to speak.

It took me a while but I figured it out (I suck at reading instructions- plus my printer cartridges all need replacing and so am having to read it onscreen, a huge handicap for me) the back inputs are different from the front inputs-like auxiliary inputs- and the Mic inputs on M-Audio stuff do double duty as 1/4" inputs.

I'm just plodding through this stuff little by little. I have a friend who works at my local guitar store and plays dirgey industrial metal in some poorly located Big Island outcast band, and he's totally stoked to have someone to play other stuff with and to come help me and use my equipment. and even better- he's moving to Oahu in the next month, same as me.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Paul Allen (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 11:46PM

Dave E.,
I checked out Rio Grand Vintage Tall Boys. One thing I notice about pickups is the bridge pickup usually has a higher output than neck pickup of the same type. Lindy Fralin does the opposite with their Tele pickups only. I read one review where the person liked the way the L.F.'s switched. I wonder if the smaller size of the neck pickup relative to the bridge pickup on Tele's play into this.

Toby, a good place to get more info. on recording is AllExperts [allexperts.com] Experienced recording engineers offer one to one advice for free.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Toby (IP Logged)
Date: August 04, 2008 11:50PM

Thanks. I'm such a dork when it comes to learning new tech stuff. I just recruited several pretty okay pretty seasoned musician friends of mine to give me some crash courses on M-Audio stuff. OnceI get the basics and am pointed in the right direction, usually I pick up the ball and run with it. (and yeas- I hate sports analogies. But I'm handicapping.) winking smiley

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Dave Ellison (IP Logged)
Date: August 05, 2008 12:37PM

Paul... I think the main reason the Tele neck pickup sounds the way it does is the chrome cover. The original Tallboy pickup has the pole pieces exposed. Now they also make ones with covers, but it must be a different type of material. I know that the Tallboy was specifically designed to sound like a Strat pickup.

I think that if you're looking for a certain sound, you could contact Lindy Fralin directly and ask what to get. I think it's just a very small mom and pop type company. I've heard they're very helpful and will do custom pickups if someone wants some particular sound.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: Paul Allen (IP Logged)
Date: August 05, 2008 10:50PM

Thanks Dave, and you're welcome Toby,
Lindy Fralin's website says the cover will make the pickup sound "darker" which I take to mean less treble and midrange. They sell a pickup for Teles without a cover called the Blues Special. I was thinking of getting that one for the neck and a L.F. Stock Tele Replacement pickup for the bridge, which is brighter but quieter, to keep that twangy sound. The problem would be that then the neck pickup would be louder. Yeah, maybe I'll call them.

Re: Gear geekout
Posted by: kevin (IP Logged)
Date: December 23, 2008 12:32PM

Reviving the topic.

My main rig is a Guild Brian May Signature into my pedalboard. The signal splits there and feeds a purple 1995 Vox AC30-TBX and a recent Vox AC15H1TVL (hand-wired AC15 in a mahogany cabinet).

Bass-wise, I have a reissue Burns Bison and a Hamer 12-string bass. I run those through a 70's SVT into an Ampeg 4x8 (yes, four eight inch speakers) cab.

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