Last week the weather looked like it was going to warm up, then on Saturday we were hit with a spring snow storm. What to do when it’s snowing and sleeting outside? Get the Tele out and crank it, of course.On Friday night I received a shipment of some more great drum loops for DrumCore (www.submersiblemusic.com) including some by Zoro (drummer for Lenny Kravitz among others). One of the drum grooves was called ZBluz. It’s a draggy kind of blues groove that just inspired me. So I set out to do a track with no digital touch enhancement. All tracks are recorded with the Swart Atomic Space Tone amp (www.swartamps.com) at various levels of crankedatute. The reverb is the amp reverb, the tremolo is the amp tremolo, and the overdrive is all 6V6 tube sweetness. No overdrive pedals were used in the recording of this track.
The bridge pickup on the Tele is a custom wound O.C. Duff “Nancy” pickup and it really delivers that twang. “Nancy” is what Roy Buchanan called his Telecaster. This pickup is potted so it’s not microphonic like Roy’s was. It has little bit more output to increase the midrange as well.After I recorded the basic tracks it seemed that it was missing something. This was confirmed by a compatriot (who probably wants to remain nameless). He suggested some organ shots. Well…I have a keyboard and I have organ patches…but that would violate my concept. So I borrowed Jordan’s Hughes and Kettner Rotosphere. Jordan warned me that the tube was going. I plugged it into the Fuchs TDS and the Atomic Space Tone in stereo mode and sure enough that tube was cutting out and making all kinds of funky grinding sounds. COOL! Although it meant that half the time I couldn’t finish recording a guitar part with it. I thought about fixing it but…why? In terms of musical influences on this track, aside from Roy, approach is influenced by Danny Gatton. By the end of the song, my propensity for Albert King’isms definitely comes through.
Its been a really hard winter here on the prairies but lately the weather has been showing signs of breaking. It warms up to above freezing and then its back down into the deep freeze. There is a real sense of longing building up. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, looked out the window and saw that we had gone back into the deep freeze so I headed down to my guitar room and pulled out my Collings OOO-3 acoustic and recorded this…
Promise of Spring
Last year I was working on guitar tracks for Mary Maclean’s Beyond CD. I stopped by Quest Musique in Winnipeg to pick up a few things when I came across a cool little amp, the Zinky Smokey. There were about 20 of them in a pail on the counter in assorted colours. I grabbed one and paid for it along with a few packs of strings and some picks. When I got into the studio Brian James was working on trying to get a sound for the track No Other. He had his Rat pedal out and he was trying to get a real buzzy sound through his Vox AC15. It sounded great but he was looking for something a bit quirky. I plugged him into this little amp and the sound was right there. Check out 2:46 on that track. (Mary Maclean’s Beyond CD is available at www.upswingmusic.com.)
I was cleaning out my gear bag today when I found that little amp again. Lately I’ve really enjoyed using small amps for recording. A lot of what I have used lately is my Swart Atomic Space Tone which is 20 watts. You still have to crank it a bit to get a nice slightly distorted guitar tone. More on non-master volume amps in another posting. Great rock guitar sounds come from small amps. The first couple Led Zepplin albums feature a Telecaster into a Supro Coronado.
So, I grab my Telecaster and plug that baby right into the Zinky, put a Shure 57 on it and start rockin’. In this track I use only my Fender Custom Shop Telecaster on the bridge pickup straight into the Zinky. The harmonic bends are done by pressing the strings down between the nut and the tuning pegs.
Check out the end result. Perhaps you wouldn’t want this to be your go-to rig. Normally I would never use this for all the guitar tracks but just to add textures to a track once in a while…or as a practice amp in the hotel room. The level of distortion is controlled by your volume knob. For a slightly cleaner sound (it never gets completely clean) you roll down the volume. For less treble, you roll it off with your tone control on your guitar. Amazingly this little amp will run a 4×12 cabinet…on a 9 volt battery.
Check out the long list of “pro users” like ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Los Lobos, Anthtrax, and Pantera. (OK, perhaps these people got one of these sent to them as a promo?)
In 2007 I spent a lot of time in the US on business. This gave me ample opportunities to visit some of my favourite gear shops. Just one such shop is in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you ever have a chance and you love vintage and boutique gear, check out Willie’s American Guitars (www.williesguitars.com). In July of 2007 I had a couple of gigs with Walle Larsson and Liberty Silver lined up. Walle’s music is smooth jazz and Liberty is a consumate R&B singer. I thought it might be fun to get an Auto Filter (or Auto Wah) pedal to “bring da funk”. Willie’s, of course, had just the ticket. After trying a few different brands I settled on the Maxon AF-9 Auto Filter.
So it does a great job on with a clean sound but I started fooling around with putting it in front of a distortion pedal. In the case of this clip it was a Fulltone OCD pedal (a truly great overdrive). Tele into the Swart Atomic Space Tone with it’s luscious tremolo is the icing on the cake.
The way these pedals work is that the harder you play the more the Wah opens up. I’m thinking it might be fun to try this on a bass track….hmmmm…a future posting perhaps?
A little while ago I was looking to upgrade my acoustic guitar. Steve Bell has been playing Stonebridge guitars lately and he was kind enough to lend me a Grand Auditorium, which he tours with, and an OM 32.
The Grand Auditorium is a great live guitar with lots of punch in the bottom end. However, I was quite smitten by the OM 32. The OM is a phenominal fingerpicking guitar. As soon as I got the guitars home I thought the best way to judge them would be do record them. I tuned the OM to DADGAD tuning and threw down a track. This track is recorded with a Shure KSM32 medium diaphram condenser and a small diaphram Audio Technica 4041. I set the microphones up at right angles to each other to get a nice stereo spreed without the concern for phase problems. I liked the track so much I decided to put some slide on it using my trusty Danelectro tuned in Open D. The overall track meandors around a bit but I kind of like the loose open feel this creates.
Check out www.stonebridgeguitars.com. These are hand made in the Czech Republic and sell for very reasonable prices. Similar North American made guitars of a similar quality will cost twice the price.
Check out the Story of Stuff. This is a brilliant website that challenges your way of thinking about our consumer society. When I reviewed this I was struck by how we have all bought into chasing after things.
Go to http://www.storyofstuff.com/ to view full presentation and them come back and leave a comment.
I have a small home studio that provides me with an opportunity to record ideas. It is amazing how helpful recording yourself is in terms of identifying aspects of your playing that need improvement. Here is a recording I did to explore the layering of the classic triplet echo effect. I played a high part and a low part both with the echo effect, in this case my T-Rex Replica set to Subdivision mode. This allows you to tap in the 1/4 note rhythm and the effect is set to a subdivision of that allowing you to get that Edge sound. I added a slide track and then just for fun flipped one of the slide licks backwards. The bass part is dedicated to Abe L.
I’ve deployed a calendar of where I am playing and when. Not sure if anyone really wants to avail themselves of this other than family members wondering where I am at any given time.
Welcome to the website. This site will serve as a way for me to share ideas, photos, and sound with all of you. This is my personal site and will be focused on my personal interests of music, family, spirituality, and perhaps even some fly fishing.