Small Amps, Big Sounds

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.

Zinky and a 57

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.

Zink Zeppelin

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?)

http://www.smokeyamps.com/Users_Pages/Users.html

Lazy Man’s Wah

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.

Maxon AF-9 Auto Filter

Big Wah

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?

Stonebridge Guitars

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.

 Stonebridge OM32

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.

Stonebridge Road

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.

Triplet Echo

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.

T-Rex ReplicaTriplet Echo

Gig Calendar now active

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.

Enter the BLOGOSPHERE!

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.