Friday, August 21, 2009

I bring you clips

Ladies and gentleman, I bring you...Guitar Tone! Two clips recorded with my new Mesa Quad/Fifty-Fifty rackmount setup. The only difference between the two is the channel on the Quad that I'm using. The good old Fractal Audio Axe-FX has been sent to the effects loop of my recorder and provides chorus and delay. I'm quite happy with the results so far, though I have more knob-twisting to do on the Quad before I get *that* sound.

Legato Funk v.4:



















Legato Funk v.3:
















Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I've got tone!

I've now gone from a tiny little guitar recording setup to a monster rack! I got a Mesa/Boogie Quad preamp to go along with the 50/50 power amp, and now I've expanded my rackmount setup to include an ART Digital MPA II mic/line preamp. I had to go get a bigger rack to hold it all, including my Axe-FX and Monster power conditioner. And I still have a little further to go with the rack, since I'd like to get an ISP Decimator noise gate. I'll talk more about how my setup works when I'm finished building and configuring it.

I haven't posted any clips of the Quad setup yet, since I'm still working on getting sounds. Working quite hard on it, actually. It's a tricky little bugger to work with, since the controls are all interactive and very sensitive. Minor changes have a big effect on the sound. It's getting there, however.

As for my trip to Portland last week, nothing particularly musical happened. I looked at a whole bunch of guitar gear and CDs and didn't buy a thing. Our little apartment is already too full to handle any more stuff, basically, and I've pretty much got all the guitars I need, though that can change... ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still workin'

Greetings, Internet. No, I haven't forgotten about you.

It's just, well, I've been busy. I got a Grendel Dead Room isolation cabinet a couple weeks ago and have been madly working on my guitar sounds ever since. For the first time ever, I actually have a decent recordable guitar tone.

Here's the problem. Now I've got all kinds of gear lust for various amplifier setups that I could never use before. Including lots of expensive old Mesa/Boogie gear. I've already got a Mesa 50/50 power amp to go along with my Axe-FX and Peavey Rockmaster preamps. The Rockmaster isn't cutting it, sorry to say, and the Axe-FX is sounding kind of digital--even though it sounds way better through a real power amp and speaker than it did direct into the mixing board.

I'm looking at getting an old Mesa preamp, either a Quad or a Studio, to go along with the 50/50. I'd like to get the Quad, since that has four channels of ungodly tone compared to the Studio's two. However, some folks say that the Studio has a little juicier tone. Tough to say. They are both '80s vintage preamps, essentially just the preamp sections of the legendary Mark IIC and Mark III amps from that decade. Those amps were used by everyone from Larry Carlton and Carlos Santana to Metallica and John Sykes of Whitesnake fame. So you know you can get some great tone.

The challenge is partially finding one in good condition with everything intact, including the unique, non-interchangeable footswitches. They're built like tanks, but gear wears out over time. I've got my eye on one, however.

Check out my SoundClick page, if you haven't done so recently, and you can hear a whole bunch of clips I've made with the Dead Room. I'm really quite happy with it, so far.

In other news, I had a hell of a musical weekend. On Saturday, I went to the Progressive Nation festival, featuring Dream Theater, Zappa Plays Zappa and Queensryche. Lots of proggy metal goodness, in addition to a healthy dose of Zappa music. However, Sunday was the kicker, when I went to see two sets by the great young fusion jazz keyboardist Hiromi Uehara. She is sort of what might happen if Chick Corea's musical spirit were to be transferred to a young Japanese woman. She's a dynamic performer and ridiculously talented. Her band is great, too. On guitar she has Dave Fiuczynski, who's a fusion guru who has been around a while--a master of fretless guitar and all kinds of unusual and difficult phrasing even on normal guitar. Tony Grey played bass, and I was very impressed with his combination of chops, pocket presence and melodicism. That was a great evening of music.

I'm still mulling over what sort of new musical ventures I want to do. Now that I have more solid guitar tones to work with, it's more enticing to do music that is heavier and a little more composed. Maybe a balance of composition of chaos? Whatever the case, I won't get started immediately, since I still have to sort the gear situation out, and I'll be visiting the folks in Portland, Oregon next week. I'll probably file another report from there, since something musical usually happens.

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