Cool Tone Discovery

While the fact that this new pickup came from a fan tweaking existing products, I like this video clip because it gets me one step closer to understanding what I think makes good tone.  To my ears, the 59 humbucker sounds better than the other two.

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Recording Set Up

Yesterday I started playing the guitar and a little chord idea came up, so I looped it on my Boss DD-7.  Then I layered other stuff on it:  A droning cello type sound using my volume pedal and Mod Tone Analog delay. A bass line. A strobing wah wah riff. etc.

I started looking for my little mp3 player that I use to record most of my quick musical ideas, but I couldn’t find it. I had some time to spare, so I decided to get back into recording on my computer. It took a little while to get it all hooked up properly, but I soon had the looped idea (which had been going the entire time) recorded.

Then I decided to break it down to see if I could recreate the loop using the different channels in Audacity for each part instead of having it all on one track.  So I laid down the chord idea for about a minute and a half. Then I played the bass line on a second track. Then I played the strobing wah wah riff, the cello drone, etc. Each one was on a separate track.  This way when I come back to this idea I can play just one track at a time to figure out what I was doing instead of trying to figure out all the parts at once.

And, so I don’t have to figure out my recording signal chain again and again, here is how I record into my computer.  It isn’t great, but it works.

  • Guitar into pedal board
  • Pedal board into amp
  • Line out from amp to channel 9 (left mono in) of mixer which is turned up
  • Mixer Aux Output RCA (red and white) L & R to Behringer UCA200 USB audio input RCA L & R
  • UCA200 USB into my computer’s USB
  • I use a System Tray Audio Device Switcher plug in to pick the Behringer USB input for the computer (instead of the onboard sound card) and then open Audacity
  • Audacity records one stereo track at a time (I think this is because I only have one stereo input) and will play back existing tracks at the same time.

I listen to myself through the mixing board (I can listen to the amp if I also plug it into a speaker cabinet, but I usually don’t do that when recording).  From Audacity in the computer the signal goes back out via USB:

  • through the Behringer UCA200 USB RCA L & R output to the the L & R line in on channel 11 & 12 of the mixer. I could go through the Mixer Aux Input RCA L & R, but I end up re-recording previously recorded tracks when I try to record a new track. There is a lot of bleed over into the new track I’m recording if I use the Mixer Aux Input. I was very disappointed with the mixer because of this bleed over until I came up with the work around. My current set up allows play back of the previously recorded tracks while recording a clean track with just the new playing being captured.
  • The volume is turned all the way down on Channel 11 & 12.
  • My headphones are plugged into the Monitoring output and the volume for the Mon channel is turned up. This way I can hear the previously recorded track and the new stuff I am playing while not recording the previously recorded tracks.

I have a Behringer Xenyx 1222FX. It came with the UCA200 USB and I got the whole package for a very reasonable price since it was an open box special during a great sale at my local guitar shop.  My main goal was to get a mixing board that could handle a band in a live setting (I can dream can’t I?) while also working as the main mixing board and input for recording. If money were no object, I’d have gone with the Mackie 1220 or 1620 (or 1640) Onyx with Firewire, but money is an object and I did not.  If I had found a good deal on it, I would prefer the Behringer 1832, but once again, money is an object. I have been curious about the Alesis MultiMix USB mixers, but I am partial to sliders instead of knobs for volume control. Again, trying to get that best of both worlds for live and recording.

More importantly, I have what I have and I can make it work.  I can easily plug in an electric keyboard, my bass, some microphones, etc. and record one track at a time.  I can even use microphones to record acoustic instruments.  Now I just need the talent to come up with stuff worth recording! 😉

Wish List

Even though my last blog entry was about not making purchases and focusing on what I’ve got, the Jet Slide guitar slide looks like a very tempting little purchase.  I’m particularly interested in the brass one. So check it out and if anyone out there has used one, let me know what you think!

Also, a new online (interactive) guitar magazine is coming in March.  I’m very interested in The Guitar Note and will keep an eye out for that first issue!

POG2 Pause

While away from my little realm of the Great Northwest I was able to stop by a local guitar shop with a POG2.
I finally got the chance to really play with it. I explored sounds and settings. I tweaked presets. I made loud and soft organ noises. I really tried to run it through its paces.
And I loved it.
However, once again I did not get it. I would love to add one to my pedalboard, but it will take me a lot of time to learn how to play through it.
I still haven’t spent the necessary time to learn to play the equipment I have let alone the guitar itself.
So I didn’t purchase. I did renew my commitment to learn to play the guitar and be ready to add the POG2 effect someday.
Now I am curious. What level of G.A.S. have you stayed away from? What piece of gear have you refrained from buying? When have you maintained perspective and been responsible? What brought that on? It seems like that same self-discipline that would be very helpful for getting better as a player.

I know a guy

Do you know a guy?  Do you have a web of contacts?  People you can go to for favors, knowledge, help, etc?  I have mentioned different friends in past blog entries, but I have never considered myself to be one of those people who “knows a guy.”

However lately I have “known a guy” when someone needs help when they are looking for work or have a legal question. The “guy” I know in most of those cases hasn’t been able to help, but they usually know a guy too…so the chain goes on. The web expands.

Then I became “the guy.”  A friend of a friend needed some help and my friend said, “I know a guy…” referring to me.

They wanted me to fix a banjo. Wow. I’ve never played a banjo. And then I saw what they needed fixed on it. I was not their guy.

But, I know a guy…

Treadmill

When I think of a treadmill, I think boring. I hate running to begin with, but then take away the ability to actually go somewhere and it just sounds like torture. At least an elliptical makes you move your arms too.

And yet I have used one on a regular basis in the past. They are an easy way to warm up or get a consistent workout without being subject to the elements (who likes running in the sleet and snow?).  And I’ve read about people who set up a treadmill under their desk so they can walk while they work on the computer.  (Read Reamde by Neal Stephenson for a great example of this going too far).

Which makes me wonder, what is your guitar treadmill?  What is the thing you practice or do without thinking?  What is the utilitarian foundation to your struggle to, well, perhaps not get better, but to maintain what you’ve already got in guitar playing health? How far can I take this analogy?  How far can you?  What are the treadmills in your life?

Reading Music Report

As is my usual MO, I have not been practicing the guitar in my Hal Leonard beginner book as diligently as I should to learn to read music.  However, I am still working through it and making progress. I can’t read music and play on the fly, but I’m getting better and better at knowing what notes are on the treble staff (the bass clef still requires quite a bit of counting and muttering). I’ve been focusing on the notes in the first four frets, but I know these concepts will apply to the notes anywhere on the fretboard (one section of the fretboard at a time).

The biggest help has not actually been the time I’ve spent in the book figuring out how to play the little lessons and tunes.  The biggest help to me has been helping my daughter with her piano lessons.  I’ve got her beat on rote memorization (I didn’t get three college degrees for nothing!), but her ability to grasp concepts and move forward in her learning is amazing!  Where I would review a concept multiple times and spend hours trying to see how that concepts interacts with the concepts I’ve already learned and will be learning, she just accepts what she gets and moves forward.  She still has moments of total comprehension (that “a-ha” moment), but she accepts what she has learned and it builds up so quickly that I am still amazed.  I may have more learning “skills,” but she has more learning “capability.”

I’ll continue to work with her and look forward to when she leaves me in the dust.

Interesting

While tracking down which Schecter Hellcat VI I had played at my local guitar shop for my last blog entry I saw this:

The Schecter Banshee came up as I looked through the Schecter vault of past guitars. I don’t think I’ll find one to even try, but it does look cool. Tele stylings, Del Rey headstock, humbucker bridge, and strat curves all appeal to me!