It’s been 1,175 days since my last post here. That’s 3 years, 2 months, and 18 days (excluding today). Almost 168 weeks. 28,200 hours. 1,692,000 minutes. 101,520,000 seconds.
Not the longest time, but not the shortest either.
Life feels completely different from just a few years ago. Better.
So what has gtr1ab been up to you ask? Check out @gtr1ab on Instagram. That’s what I’ve been up to. There have been a lot of guitar shenanigans. I started playing bass in a band. I have explored many cities and countries for guitars.
Some things are still around from 2015. A lot of things have been added. Some things have come and gone in that time, even some of the stuff in this picture from 2018.
Let’s see what happens next!
I have seen this band a lot over the years. And they area always best live.
I was first introduced to them when a coworker at my crappy college job putting price tags on candy bars loaned me the Orange album. Bellbottoms blew my mind!
This year, and I guess part of last year, they have been working on an album and performing all over New York.
As always, they played their trusty guitars.
Jon Spencer played his Zimgar something or other guitar and it looked like he ran it through a smaller Peavey amp, but the amp may have been for his harmonica or theramin. Judah Bauer played through two teles that ran through what looked like a Fender Deluxe and Fender Twin. Premier Guitar did an interview here for their last album (Meat and Bones, which I also saw them perform) and Judah Bauer rig rundown. I can’t compete with that, so check it out!
I’ve added some new low end to my assortment of gear. This time it is a 1989 Ibanez RD707 bass.
It is pretty cool to have and really a lot more fun to play than I expected. I know I said I was limiting my gear acquisition syndrome, but the price was right! I don’t have a bass amp anymore, but I can record it directly, which is still nice.
I have mentioned, discussed, shared, and complained about Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) many times on this blog. Tone Reports recent article exploring what GAS is with such a healthy recognition that it exists and discussion of how to address it is probably one of the best and most timely messages for me.
Having recently paired down my gear significantly, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I started to see gear I wanted. And instead of being able to sell stuff I already owned so I could buy the new stuff, I just wanted to buy the new stuff. I deserved it. I now had the space for it. I even had a little cash left from past sales that could go toward each piece of gear I saw.
This became exceptionally apparent when a group of friends started talking about starting a garage band. In the past, I had everything necessary for us to plug in and play. That is no longer the case. I no longer own a microphone, let alone bass, bass amp,PA, etc. I can play guitar and someone can play drums, but that is about it. I sure hope it is an instrumental guitar/drum duet!
I have continued to go back to why I sold my “excess” gear and how much happier I am with where that money went. It isn’t easy. But this article helped a lot by reminding me that I can figure out alternatives (see the part about “re-researching your own gear”). I can explore what gear I have already. My daughter has a practice amp. I have a POG2 for low octave stuff. I have friends with gear I can borrow.
Maybe someday I’ll have all the gear (even though they keep making more). But learning to live within limitations is the reality all of us live with, and we need to learn how to do so happily!
A while back I mentioned getting an old Kustom practice amp out of the dumpster that just needed new jacks. I had one I could add for the input, but the headphone jack still needed to be replaced. But it worked for testing guitars on my work bench so I didn’t worry about it.
Well, now my daughter needs something to play her new guitar through. I took the little amp apart and removed the broken jack. Now I just have to get a new one, solder it in, and put it all back together.
Following Wil and Futherton…
- Ardor licensed steinberger headless guitar (Dad loaned it to me forever)
- Peavey Predator strat knock off – now the Wolverine guitar
- Lyon J-bass
- Old classical acoustic (wife inherited it)
- Epiphone Korina G-400
- Kasuga SG knock off
- Peavey Fury bass (bought for Dad, who gave it back)
- Teisco Del Rey
- Epiphone 1965 G-400 with Maestro
- Olympia parlor acoustic
- 73 Epiphone Crestwood ET-275
- Warmoth project strat with firebird neck
- Ibanez AW-100 acoustic
- knock off les paul
- 62 Gibson SG Jr
- Epiphone Sheraton VSB
- Peavey t-15 body with hondo II neck
- Vox AD50VT
- Behringer Acoustisonic 100AWX
- Crate G-20C
- Kustom practice amp
- Frenzel Super Sportster Champ
And so it begins! I am in purge mode. Not to actually buy the Gibson Custom Shop ES-446 I think is amazing, but because it made me realize that I have too much gear and I’m not using it.
First step has been to re-evaluate my overdrive and fuzz needs. I’ve been meaning to add fuzz back to my pedal board after taking it off years ago. And nothing is sacred. I took apart the bass pedal board I had made a back too.
The first thing I did was dial in a true clean sound on my amp. I was surprised with how much gain I had to dial out, but it sounds so good! I then tested EHX LPB-1 boost and was surprised at how well the boost still kept the clean tone I had dialed in. It really did just boost the overall sound. Before this I had quite a bit of dirt coming from the preamp gain on my Frenzel Super Champ Sportster. Now I have a really good clean with boost. I think I may even put the LPB-1 after my Morley ABY switch so I can keep the volume levels about equal between the clean F-preamp and the distorted M-preamp.
I am keeping the black Russian Big Muff Pi (that has been modded for a power plug and true bypass switch). I am looking for a fuzz that really explodes with overtones. I’m thinking very shoegazer feel. Just a wall of fuzz. The USA Big Muff Pi is good, but just doesn’t give me the overtones I’m looking for. It seems to be a bit brighter than the Russian.
The BBE Green Screamer is out. I can dial in that Ibanez Tube Screamer sound pretty well with the overdrive channel of my Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive. Not perfect, but not worth the real estate on my pedal board. And the Marshall Guv’Nor plus GV-2 can almost be replicated with the lead channel of my Boss SD-2.
Then came the DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250 I recently acquired. I love how it sounds. And with the new clean sound I had dialed in on my amp, this thing sounded even better. And it drives the Russian Big Muff well too. Always good when pedals interact well. But I kept going back to my Boss SD-2. Why couldn’t I dial in as good an overdrive. The SD-2 actually has more tone shaping controls with gain, level, and tone. The DOD 250 just has gain and level. I kept going back and forth…playing the same phrases over and over. It was driving my family crazy. Finally, I turned down the Boss SD-2’s tone control all the way down and I got it! So the DOD 250 is leaving and I have learned so much more about my gear and what tones I want. This is all very exciting!
After my little purchasing binge from a local guitar shop clearance bin, I spent the evening playing with all my pedals. The new ones were fun to add and I liked trying them for the first time.
This was a lot of fun to do. The kids were asleep and my wife was in the other room playing video games, so I wasn’t bothering her. But I was still very conscious of my playing volume. I used the master volume control on my amp a lot to adjust for each pedal. And when I plugged in my whole pedalboard and started using my Jamman Solo looper, I still kept everything quiet.
As I got into playing, I started really mixing the effects up. I played a lot of combinations that got some weird stuff, but all at whisper volumes. I cannot tell you how much fun and how relaxing it was to do this.
Finally, my wife had tired of her video games and reminded me that we had a busy day ahead of us. So I shut everything down and headed to bed.
My wife complimented me for my quiet playing and then told me that my footswitch stomping was the loudest thing in the house. So for those of you trying not to disturb others with your late night playing, don’t forget those stomp box switches make noise too!
I got home from work tonight and the rest of the family was out. I knew I had about an hour alone in the house so I plugged in a guitar, turned on my pedal board, and powered up my amp. Then I turned the master volume up. My little Frenzel Super Sportster Amp with a single KT88 is loud. My ears are still ringing (which is also a good reminder to protect your hearing when you play).
I didn’t play anything specific. I just made noise and enjoyed myself. It was very relaxing and a great way to unwind for the day. I was again surprised at how different the guitar responds when the volume is turned up so loud. It is a very different instrument when I play at more reasonable volumes and use pedals for distortion. So I’m curious for all you performing musicians out there: Do you ever struggle with practicing at home using “bedroom” volume levels and then playing live using “stage” volume levels?
I sold my bass amp. It is now in my friends home as part of his full fledged music room for jamming. I am sad to see it go, but did not sell my bass…yet. I am getting in the spirit of culling the collection of stuff. Perhaps because I got a new guitar. Or perhaps because I am interested in another one. Or maybe it just isn’t feasible right now to have my own music room outfitted for a whole band.
Or maybe I am just lying to myself. Anyway, the bass amp is gone but I have visitation rights. 😉