Friday, April 23

Why can't I stop spending money?

Next in an endless series of pictures of my ever-evolving pedalboard, I bring you the latest, newest and improved-est board. I feel like I'm coming to a stasis point with the 'board, so you may only need to endure a few more pictures!

As you can see, this is pretty much identical in terms of pedals as my latest update, but now they're all situated snugly on a giant Pedaltrain board. Not pictured is the ridiculous ATA flightcase that came with this board. It's ridiculous. I felt ridiculous wheeling it in to church on Sunday, but, well, it has wheels which was a huge selling point. I am physically capable of lifting it, case and all, but it weighs in at around 60 pounds; not exactly easy to carry from place to place. The new 'board has room for a bypass strip which is still in process, and I also ordered a smaller tap tempo (and one that actually takes velcro well) and a pedalboard bypass that will let me plug in my guitar and amp into one place, rather than a specific pedal or snaking it in to the bypass strip. It's going to be sweet. And way nicer than I need. Once I get that and install it, then any changes will be small, and will be more "check out this new pedal", rather than, "here's a new picture of my pedalboard!"

The other thing that I've recently used to soak up excess money that I really needed to get rid of (I mean, saving is such a pain in the ass...) is an Epiphone Les Paul. I didn't want an Epiphone. I wanted a Gibson, a real nice guitar that I could keep for an eternity, that would be a good example of a rocking, humbucking guitar. I didn't want to pay for a Gibson unless I found an absolutely perfect example, as I've heard that their quality control isn't what it used to be. What I found, on Craigslist, was a guy who had taken a pair of Epiphone Les Paul Standards, and paid a guitar tech to replace the guts (pickups, pots, switch, everything) with Gibson parts, and to upgrade the tuners to Grovers and do a setup. Now, from what I've read, the only serious problems with an Epiphone Les Paul were staying in tune and uninspiring pickups. Problem solved, and I have a $1,000+ guitar (in theory) for $325.

The guitar itself has a few bumps and scratches, but it plays really well. There's a fret buzz that needs to be hunted down on the low E, but other than that, it's smooth and sounds pretty good. All of my experience has been with single coils, but I really like the chunky, thick tone that comes with this guitar. The pickups are the standard 490r and 498t pickups that come stock in older Les Paul Standards (now they use Burstbucker pickups), and first impressions are that I like them. I've spent a lot of time going back and forth between my new Les Paul and my G&L, and what I've found is mostly common sense; the LP is thicker, more distorted, whereas the G&L gives me a thinner tone that is better defined when overdriven. Neither is better or worse, but I'm happy to finally have a few different guitars that will cover the same ranges and have similar versatility, but that can be used for different tonal coloring.

Point number 3, much more important than money I've spent and sweet deals I've gotten, is that I'm playing electric on a weekly basis! It's fun, because the group I've been playing with already has two acoustic guitarists, so having a wide range of tones to play with is great. At the very least, it makes me feel like I'm being heard, which inspires me way more to be creative and not just blend into the background. Unless the song calls for it. Booyah.

Friday, April 16

Patch Cables?

I realize that it's been a bit since I've put something up. I really want to get a pic of my newest board up, but my camera's down for a few days. It's only about half done (or as half-done as a pedalboard can ever be) anyway, since I've got Loopmaster parts coming eventually, but so far I absolutely love that I don't have to keep cannibalizing my board, week in and week out, to change things or sacrifice one effect I might use for one I definitely will. I've got room for everything now!

I do need to get more cables once my bypass strip is in; rather than having one patch cable for each effect, I'm going to need two. So I'll throw this out there: we all have experience with cables, but who's got a good opinion on the do-it-yourself brands? Lava, George L, Planetwave, whatever. I'm actually way more interested in keeping costs down than in getting super hi-fi cabling, but the best cost/quality ratio (in your opinion) would be helpful. I've also got some soldering skill, so I'd be comfortable assembling any of the brands (I think).

Tuesday, April 6

Humility is...

...playing an entire Easter Sunday Mass on electric, and then being told by the sound-tech that the mic wasn't on.

As a sound-tech myself, I have an innate hatred for microphones that have on/off switches (either on the mic, or on the mic cable) because there's nothing you can do from your perch 300 feet away from the band to fix it without getting up, walking across the church, and turning the mic on yourself. Now, as a guitarist, I have a whole other reason to hate them, though I can't blame this one on some idiot vocalist who wasn't paying any attention; I'm the idiot here!

At least for the Vigil Mass the night before, the same sound tech told me that he liked my playing, and was shocked when I told him that this was one of my first attempts at playing electric. I guess God figured I needed something to knock my pride down a notch...

Also, for those of you who actually care, I've ordered a new pedal board and switching system; I decided to go with a Loopmaster 7-loop bypass strip, mostly because it's 1/3 the width (top to bottom) of the Octaswitch that I was talking about a few days ago, meaning that, on a Pedaltrain board, I get a whole other slat to work with, which is like two or three pedals worth of real-estate. I'm hoping to get it here and setup before this weekend, but I'm sure the bypass strip is going to take some time since it has to be hand-built my magical tone faeries.

Also also, the Cardinals won their opening-day game, and Pujols went 3-4 with two home runs. He is so choice.