That Easy?

I decided to actually plug in the free amp I got on Saturday to see if it would blow up.  I plugged it in, turned everything to zero, and then turned it on.  The power light and some LEDs lit up.  I slowly turned up the master volume, only to get this horrible growling sound.  It was like a hum, but with some meat to it.  And steady pops and clicks.

So I turned it off and unplugged everything. I then unplugged the effects unit from the rest of the amp.  After hooking it all back up, I turned it on again.  Same loud, steady noise.  I tried plugging a guitar and a microphone in to the amp to see if I could get any sound on top of the loud noise.  Nothing.  I turned it on and off.  Plugged and unplugged it.  I unhooked different wires inside (since it is all PC boards with standard plugs for wires, it was easy to unplug and plug the obvious connections).

Nothing made an impact on the loud noise except the master volume knob and the phase button, which just made it louder.

Then I started looking at the power supply.  Mind you, I am not an amp technician.  This is my first time doing this and I was very nervous.  I used a wooden chopstick to poke things.  I was very careful to make sure everything was unplugged and turned the amp on and off multiple times just to make sure it was unplugged.  I’m sure there was stored voltage somewhere in there, but I was not planning on finding it.

Finally, I unplugged everything and wondered if I was fooling myself.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  I can’t find any schematics on the web.  So I went back to the internet and read the actual  instruction manual for the amp.

There was practically nothing about the innerworkings of the amp.  It was all about what to plug in and where to plug it and how to turn the knobs and how to use the footswitch and midi controller.  Then I read this:

Please ensure that the ULTRACOUSTIC is set to the correct supply voltage before connecting the unit to the AC power system! Three triangular markings can be found on the fuse holder at the AC power connection socket.  Two of these three triangles will be aligened with one another.  The ULTRACOUSTIC is set to the operating voltage shown next to these markings and can be switched by twisting the fuse holder 180 degrees.

I thought it was pretty useless information, but I didn’t have anything better to do with my lack of knowledge, so I looked at the fuse.  The arrows didn’t match up for 120 V.  So I took it out, flipped it over, and plugged it back in.  I then reset all the knobs and controls to zero.  I unplugged my guitar and mic.  I then plugged in the power chord and turned it on with the expectation that I would blow something up.

Nothing.

I turned up the master volume.  A slight hum, but no loud noise.  I turned it up more.  That hum would be annoying if I had just paid for this amp, but it was not the loud noise…and I had not paid anything for this amp.

I turned everything off and plugged in my microphone.  I turned everything back on and said “hello.”

I got an echoed “hello” from the amp that faded after eight or nine repeats.  I turned off the effects.  I said hello again and just got a simple hello.  There is a hum, but the amp now works.  Apparently the power supply fuse was set for the European/International 220 V.  I just had to flip the fuse over.  Could it really be that easy?  Apparently!

LGS tent sale

My local guitar shop had their annual tent sale yesterday.  And of course I bought a bunch of junk.  I mean literally junk.  I love to go through the boxes of junk that they are trying to unload for $.50.  Yes, that is fifty CENTS.  For fifty cents, I got a power supply, a couple of 3 foot 1/4 inch cables, a xlr to 1/4 cable, a stero to mono 1/4 inch Y connector, and the list goes on.   I got a strat body for $15.  I’ve got all the hardware for it except a neck plate and neck.  That’s pretty cool!  I would love to buy a new amp or guitar, but that just isn’t in the cards right now.  What is in the cards is buying projects.  In fact, some of these projects were free.

I got a broken Behringer Ultracoustic ACX1000 for free.  If nothing else, I’ll use parts for a few effects pedals I’ve been thinking about building.  OR if I am able to figure it out, I may try to fix it.  Or at least successfully bypass what is broken.  Then I’ll have an amp for vocals and acoustic guitar!  Or it could become a 2×8 speaker cabinet.

Or it will be on my workbench for too long and end up in the junk heap after I’ve taken what I can from it.  Either way, I’ve got a few projects piling up and I’m excited!

The Who

More fun in the studio.  This stuff is just so easy to create and record.  Isn’t that what this video tells us?

And then there’s this performance.  If you want, skip to 7:40.  That’s what we all really want to hear/see anyway.

Now I want to go play the guitar.  Thank you, the Who.

Practice is Mind Blowing

I practiced the guitar during my lunch break at work today.  It was fun, but what was really surprising was my new coworkers’ reactions.  They just think it is incredible that I (attempt to) play the guitar at work.  They think it is great, but the reaction they give is like I have just blown their minds.

I realize I am at a new facility with new co-workers, but most of these people saw a guitar or two hanging in my old office.  Most of them asked if I played at work, which I said I did… during my lunch break.  This shouldn’t be new information.

Maybe they’re just being nice.  Maybe they are just curious how bad I really am at the guitar.  Maybe I just need to relax and enjoy myself.  That’s why I play the guitar anyway.  It calms me.  It focuses me.  It is a great thing to have in my life.  I wouldn’t put it up there with the ultimate joy I have felt with my family, but it is pretty up there!  Maybe people are just amazed I can bring something like that into a work environment.  Maybe they are just a little jealous.  Maybe they just think I’m wasting my lunch.

Well, it beats working through my lunch!

The Original

“Style is originality; fashion is fascism” –Lester Bangs

I read this quote in the comments of a blog entry about feminism and fashion.  I don’t know where I fit in the feminist world.  I am male, which appears to be a point against me.

Anyway, I have never been fashionable, but I have tried to be cool.  Which seems to be the same thing.  Which generally means I haven’t been original or had much style.  My guitar playing is pretty much in the same boat.  I have never been musical or original or had style, but I haven’t been cool or fashionable either.

Is trying to be cool the downfall of style and originality or the source used when you achieve cool and fashionable with style and originality?  Is Lester correct?  Can it only be one or the other?  This would imply that if you are trying to be fashionable, then you are not being original.  Even if you fail and create your own style.