A site dedicated to the music and musing of Carl Strempler

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Unchain My Heart at the King’s Head – Revisited

In this clip from the King’s Head gig on Dec 17, 2009, I used the GigRig to switch between two primary patches. The first patch is the sound I use for the “clean” chorused sound of the single note rhythm figure. The GigRig was configured to select the Rhythm Channel on the Tone King Metropolitan. The signal chain goes into a Durham Sexdrive pedal to add compression and a small amount of grind and then into a Diamond Halo Chorus pedal; a great sound for that old school 80’s funk feel. The second patch was used for the distorted shots and solos. On this patch I’m still using the Rhythm Channel but it is passing through a Fuchs Extreme Cream overdrive pedal and then into a T-Rex Replica delay. The result is a ripping lead sound. The Cream Supreme pedal is similar to an old Ibanez Tube Screamer but with a high quality FET boost section, much smoother and with a full range of frequencies. Bet SRV would have loved this pedal.

Katherine Penfold is fantastic on this song. She really lays it all out there. I love the grind she is getting with her voice on those bends. Dave, our bass player, comes in and the feel is a bit odd. I asked him about that later and he told me that as the evening progressed he developed a huge blister on his finger and was struggling to play the part. Ouch. Playing hurt, what a champ.

Unchain My Heart


I’ve always been fascinated by poly-rhythmic devices in music, playing one time signature against the other. In this latest installment of my Oasis series I’m exploring the push and pull of rhythms which puts me in mind of a bustling market where events synchronize and then clash. At times edgy and frantic. At times harmonious.

Note: On April 7 I adjusted this tune slightly to pan a part left to right toward the end of the song to add some interest and “motion”.


Second in the Oasis series, this is Progress. The organic gives way to the relentless push forward. The grit of sand gives way to the grit of industry. The tune builds as guitars come in and grind it out for dominance. Perhaps there should be a ? at the end of Progress.

The synth pads are a combination of Rapture and Dimension Pro. The lead sound off the top is typical Lyle Mays, tone reminicent of a flute. The guitar sounds are the PRS McCarty -> Fulltone OCD -> Swart AST -> AxeTrak isolation cab so it can be turned way up for a thick tone. Even the bass is recorded through the Swart for added grind.

Note: April 8, I made some adjustments to the mix. I noticed when I was listening back that the synth lead sound was a bit too high in the mix. I also extended the ending so the reverb wasn’t being cut off.


I’m not sure what it is but I just can’t get this out of my head. It might be the dissonant notes colliding. Maybe it is the off kilter openness. So here we go, a series of recordings I’m calling the “Oasis” project (working title only) and here is the first track. The guitar track is the PRS -> T-Rex Replica -> Swart AST. I’m experimenting with some synth textures thanks to the Dimension Pro plug-in.

Just One Touch

On the last Saturday of every month I have the opportunity to play 2-3 hours in what I would call a free-form worship night at our church, Gateway Christian Community, an event we call Reveal. There is no agenda or song list. It doesn’t matter if only 5 people show up, we are there to play in a pure worship setting for an audience of One. No holds barred, full on. It is an opportunity to really dig in and play from the heart. I’ve been reaching to communicate a sense of desperation and hunger through the guitar. Last Saturday I felt I tapped into that. This music is all improvised and created on the spot. I’m using a Strat -> Diamond Memory Lane 2 -> Fuchs Extreme Cream -> ToneKing Metropolitan. The recording was done with a Zoom H1 from the back of the room, a gymnasium, which explains much of the muddiness. All the wild oscillating and clicking sounds at 2:28 are coming from the guitar courtesy of the Diamond Memory Lane. As the repeats are turned up on this effect the self-oscillating begins. I manipulate the Delay control while playing to cause the notes to bend at 1:50 and 2:10. The Depth control manipulates the flanging and bending tones in the delay itself. Flanging the delay in this way emulates the old tape delays where the tape would stretch and pull as the tape dragged at different tensions against the rollers. This pedal is all analog and, once you get a feel for all the knobs, it produces some very interesting and what I consider very musical sounds. I get goosebumps when Elyse comes in with the vocal every time.

Mary MacLean – keyboards
Elyse MacLean – vocals
Roger Larios – percussion
Mark Silvestro – drums
Carl Strempler – guitar
Joel Friesen – bass

Zoom H1 Recorder

Best Christmas present ever…the Zoom H1. I’m using it to record performances and practices and I’m posting them on my website in password protected pages. It is incredible what you catch when you listen back to recordings of your band. Here is an example of a practice from last week with the Price company band called Noise Control. We were practicing in the living room of one of the band members with the recorder positioned next to the vocalist directly in front of their monitor.

My signal path for this recording is my Oxblood Les Paul -> Fulltone OCD -> T-Rex Replica Delay -> Swart Atomic Space Tone.

Grace Poured Out

This is it…the last tune in the Resonate 2010 series of recordings! I’m book-ending this series with another tune by Matt Horner. He has a unique and very listenable voice, even though he recorded this at 8:30 am that fateful day last July. Here is the rough track…

Grace Poured Out – Original Rough Tracks

I added drums, fixed the keyboard parts a bit, and started tracking acoustics. I kind of went overboard with the acoustics and ended up not using a lot of those acoustic tracks. Then I did a bunch of guitar swells and stuff like that, which I mostly discarded. I replaced some of the acoustic parts with electric and for this I pulled out my Fender Custom Classic Stratocaster and the Tone King Metropolitan (pictured above). This is the first time the Tone King has made it on these recordings. I was looking for a really shimmery clean sound and the amp did not disappoint. Normally I play the Strat with a blocked vibrato bar but I thought it might be nice to give the parts a bit of motion with the bar so I removed the wood block and extra springs that keep it immobile. Blocked tremolos give you a lot more sustain on your Strat.


At this point the mixed sounded like this…

Interim Mix

I sent a version to Kat to listen to and she suggested I add a string pad a la Marc Jordan. So I listened to some Marc Jordan tunes. I thought it would be fun to create a string section using separate parts for each instrument. I recall Gary Brenner talking about how he did this when I remarked how realistic I thought a string section sounded on one of his recordings years ago. This method allows you to impart feeling and dynamics uniquely to each instrument. So off I went to try my hand at orchestration. I started just before dinner and by 11:30 I had completed the parts. The bridge is using a Pizzicato part which cost me most time because of the delay inherent in the patch. I’m not liking the Dimension Pro Pizzicato string patches I have so I’m open to suggestions. Here are the strings for the intro by themselves…

String Intro

And here is the mix with the strings…

Grace Poured Out

BTW: No AutoTune was used on this recording.

Abba Father

I’ve taken a different approach with this song. This is another in the Resonate 2010 series of songs written and recorded last summer. This song, Abba Father, was written by the youngest of the song writers who attended the three week intensive workshop here in Winnipeg in July of 2010. Here is the rough track…

Abba Father – Original Rough Tracks

I figured that drums would kind of overpower this track so I decided to take a very different, more acoustic approach. I added some bass to the track and then thought, what about dusting off the mandolin?


To counter balance the mandolin the warm tone of the Collings 000-3 (headstock picture shown above) was a nice addition to the tune. This guitar was once owned by Patti Smith who played it at Bob Dylan’s Birthday Party Concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, it was also played at Carnagie Hall on February 22, 1999 for the benefit concert for Tibet. I have a personal letter from Patti listing all the concerts it was played at. This is an incredible guitar. The neck meets the body at the 12th fret. Its a very stable, very loud, and broad sounding guitar. More on this remarkable guitar in future postings. Here is the sound of that guitar…


I added some further tracks with with my Bourgois Slope D acoustic. Here is the mix.

Abba Father

The Verge of Faith

In this installment I tackled Josh Baker’s The Verge of Faith.

Verge of Faith – Original Rough Tracks

The first order of business was to select a drum groove and feel for the track. I selected a set of drum loops from Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver and Guns n’ Roses. A good rockin’ groove. I replaced the acoustic guitars with my trusty Slope D single mic’ed, tracked 3 times…


I added the bass and played that through the guitar amp to get some grunge to it. That seemed a bit to folk sounding so I added some grinding Telecaster…


Under this I put some more distorted Telecaster sounds created with the OCD pedal panned hard left and right…


Given the emotion of the tune I felt that a very hard edged Telecaster lead sound would cut through the mix and deliver. Here is the sound used in the intro, listen for a very agressive solo in the final song where I tried to rip the strings off the guitar.


Still the song was missing something. I added a tremolo part during quieter sections tying the tune together. I echo the intro riff quietly with this part later in the tune. Note the very subtle trem track right at the end of the song as well. Here is a sample of the tremolo sound courtesy of the tremolo on the Swart Atomic Space Tone…


The tune’s theme is the contrast between desperation and vulnerability. I attempted to create this mood. Let’s see how well it worked…

The Verge of Faith

BTW: again, no AutoTune on this vocal, but I did cut and paste parts of the vocals around.

My Portion

Today’s posting features the 9th posting in the Resonate 2010 series. In this installment I’m posting a track from Linsay Geddert. There is something about Linsay’s voice that is very compelling, reminicent of Sarah Harmer.

My Portion – Original Rough Tracks

You can see by the picture of the track that this one starts quiet and then I kind of break it open with guitars and a more driving drum groove. The holy grail of guitar tone is one where there is just a bit of breakup, not too much. One of the common errors most guitar players make is to engage too much overdrive thereby losing the subtle tones of the guitar, often referred to as “gaining out”. This sound was created by using a Telecaster into my Swart Atomic Space Tone amp that has NO gain on or preamp knob on it at all and then just pushing the front end with a little bit of clean boost from the Diamond Boost-EQ pedal.

Edgy Rhythm

So…how about a PRS McCarty with Lollar P-90’s into an Fulltone OCD, the into a T-Rex Replica driving the Swart Amp cranked to 3 o’clock?

PRS Lead

I use this lead sound as a call and response with the vocals panning licks hard left and right giving the track some edge. Put it all together along with some additional backup vocals from Elyse and a few careful edits, plus a fresh acoustic guitar tracks and you get this…

My Portion

BTW: no AutoTune on this lead vocal.

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