weekend off

I have this weekend off at church. I’ve been on for something like 13 weeks straight, which is pretty much the norm. I’m used to playing every Sunday for long stretches, but it gets kind of tiring after a while. Sometimes I need a week off to straighten myself out a little bit.

If nothing else, my ears need the rest. It’s weird, but as a guitarist, I spend so much effort analyzing my tone and trying to make it fit within the context of the band that I start to lose my perspective. I go through so many little adjustments that I start to lose the vision for what I wanted my guitar to sound like in the first place. I need to spend more time playing through my rig by myself so that I can rethink stuff.

I need to practice. I’m tired of playing the same parts on all these songs. I need to come up with some new stuff.

I get so focused on all this stuff that it gets really hard to dig in to the music. I won’t say that I’m not worshiping, because I think that my attention to detail as a part of the band is my act of worship. I don’t always have the luxury of having an emotional experience. For the record, I don’t think that emotion has to play a part in worship. It certainly can, but worship has always been more cerebral than anything.

Man, this is a rambling post…

Echo Park update

Well, it turns out that I’m kind of a genius. I should have checked my jacks a little more thoroughly before I publicly griped about it earlier today. The mono output jack on my Echo Park that I was complaining about shorting out was just a little loose. I tightened it up about a quarter turn and it works like magic again. I’m relieved, but in a forehead-slapping kind of way.

multiple delays

I’ve been wanting a second delay pedal to go along with my Echo Park. Sometimes I have the EP set to do dotted eighths or some kind of multi-rhythmic delay, and I need something different for a solo within the same song. It’s obviously very inconvenient (and somewhat impossible) to try to adjust the pedal on the fly without screwing something up musically.

I was looking around at some options, and most of them are pretty expensive. I tend to gravitate toward the expensive stuff because it’s really good, but I can’t always afford it and sometimes the returns are just not worth the expense.

Anyway, I came across a $39 delay pedal that you can get at Toys ‘R’ Us, believe it or not. The pedal is made by First Act who make guitars for Wal-Mart as well as insanely expensive custom guitars for big time musicians. I’m inclined to think that this pedal falls in the Wal-Mart end of the spectrum since it is only $39, after all.

The reviews that I have read on this pedal come from various gear forums, but they are all really positive. It’s supposed to have a real warm analog sound to it (read: the delays are not clean and pristine), great for slapback echo. I think I might try to pick one up and see for myself. We’ll see…

Echo Park gripe

First of all, I really like my Echo Park. It’s an excellent little delay – great sounds, easy to use, etc. Unfortunately, the output jack started shorting out on me last night at practice.

The Line 6 Tonecore series of pedals use this system of interchangeable modules and docks. Basically, you can get any module (delay, tremolo, distortion, etc) and plug it into a dock. The docks are available separately, but they cost like $80. I’m hoping that I can just fix the jack rather than have to replace the whole thing.

New Boss Delay: DD-7

In case you hadn’t heard, Boss has announced the newest pedal in their line of digital delays, the DD-7.

The main reason to be interested in this is the tap tempo functionality. The DD-5 had a jack for an external tap tempo switch, which worked great. It’s still an extremely popular pedal on the used market because of this. When the DD-6 came out, Boss (stupidly) eliminated that option, forcing you to rely on the footswitch for tap tempo. This wouldn’t necessarily have been such a bad thing, except that you had to hold the switch down for more than 2 seconds before it would allow you to tap in the tempo. That 2 second delay rendered it pretty much useless.

Well, it looks like the DD-7 solves that little issue by bringing back the external tap tempo jack. There are also other goodies, like an Analog delay mode and (reportedly) rhythmic delays. The introduction of this pedal could potentially eliminate the high value of the discontinued DD-5 pedal.

Click here for product demos.

Recording Equipment

I’ve been wanting to get my home recording situation up and running for a while now, and I’m trying to line out my options.

Audio Interfaces – There are hundreds of these on the market, and they all have pros and cons. For my purposes, I’m going to limit myself to firewire interfaces to keep the lowest possible latency in case I want to monitor myself while recording. In addition, I want to go as cheap as possible without getting a total piece of junk. Here are a couple of the options that I’ve come up with.

PreSonus INSPIRE 1394 – It has four inputs that can be used simultaneously – 2 XLRs and 2 Hi-Z 1/4″ instrument inputs, but I don’t think I’ll need more than 2. It has no hardward controls. All the settings (input gain, etc) are controlled via software. This one is $150.

M-Audio FireWire Solo – This one has 1 – XLR and 1 – 1/4″ jack, phantom power, bus power, yada yada yada. There’s the definite possibility that I’ll want to record in stereo, so this one is out, even though I tend to like M-Audio’s stuff. Oh and it’s $200 – $50 more expensive than the PreSonus.

The Apogee Duet would be the holy grail, but since it costs like $500, it’s out of my budget for the time being. As far as that goes, I don’t really need studio quality either since I’ll probably be using $100ish mics, which segues nicely to the next section.

As far as mics go, there are a couple of really basic options for close-miking guitar cabs (which will my primary mode of recording). Here are the main contenders.

Shure SM-57 – the granddaddy of instrument mics. It’s a great workhorse mic – it can be used for guitar, drums, or woodwinds, or even vocals in a pinch. This one runs $100.

Sennheiser e609 Silver – This mic is designed to withstand high sound pressure levels (SPLs) without distortion, which makes it perfect for close-miking guitar cabs. It’s design allows you to just hang the mic over the edge of the cab in front of the speaker if you’re in really close quarters, or you can use a stand to get more precise. This one is a little more expensive than the Shure at $110.

Sennheiser e906 – The e906 is a similar design as the e609, but has a mellower, less harsh sound. That upgrade comes with a price – $190.

Well, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get around to actually buying any of this stuff. It seems like things are always breaking around the house or on the cars or the kids or getting sick or something. I guess that’s life, eh?

Adoption

My wife and I have two kids. Our oldest is our biological son Jackson. He’s about to turn 6 (in May) and he is a handsome, smart, funny little guy. He has been making us laugh since he was born. He is naturally very empathetic, and is always concerned about other people. He has a very optimistic outlook – if you ask him how he’s doing, it’s always “good” or “pretty good.” He has always been a very cautious, rule-follower kind of person. It is a point of pride for him that he has never “had his card changed” in his Kindergarten class (you get your card changed for misbehaving).

Our youngest son is just about the polar opposite. His name is Mikey. He is 14 months old, and he is our foster child (I hate that term). He was brought to our home when he was 2 days old, and we have never thought of him as anything less than ours. Well, I tried to protect myself emotionally by maintaining some distance, but that lasted for about an hour. Mikey is a crazy little kid. He climbs, jumps, runs, and plays without considering the consequences. He is not a rule-follower. In fact, he seems to revel in doing the exact opposite of what we want him to do.

It’s funny that your kids can turn out so completely opposite from each other. Of course, I realize that these kids do not come from the same DNA, but it’s not like we radically changed our parenting style from one kid to the next. I’m anxious to see what happens as this little guy grows up.

We have a date set for the adoption on April 7. Please join us in praying that everything goes smoothly and that we don’t encounter any unexpected obstacles.

Easter Sunday

We had 3 services on Sunday instead of the usual 2 so our service times were 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00. Sound check was at the ungodly hour of 7:00. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been sick and I was definitely feeling it on Sunday morning.

Sound check was a haze, and the first service wasn’t much better. The music was ok for the most part, but there were several missed cues and lighting issues. The second and third services were much better, but I still couldn’t quite focus.

I spent some time playing with my new compressor that morning, and I used it on a few songs. It introduced a lot of noise to my signal, which sucks. I think I had the blend knob up too high or something. I need to work on tweaking the settings.

Anyway, something was causing my entire board to be noisy, and I really hope that it’s not the Tone Press. My tuner was popping when I stepped on it, and my wah went crazy with buzz when I turned it on. I haven’t had a chance to check everything, but I suspect that the TP has some involvement.

I’m back

Sorry about the unintentional blogging hiatus. Spring Break was not very kind to me. I spent the bulk of the time feeling like crap – I’m not sure exactly what the problem was. The main recurring symptom was general achiness – head and body – but there were a couple of nights where I ran a fever. I think I’m finally starting to come out of it, but I’ve still got a fairly constant headache.

Stupid Deal of the Day

Is anyone else addicted to Musician’s Friend Stupid Deal of the Day? I check it every day to see what they have for sale. Usually it’s something, well, stupid, like one of those Union Jack or Mexican Flag acoustic guitars or a splash cymbal or something.

Well, here’s today’s stupid deal of the day: the Fender Palo Escrito Telecaster. I have been wanting a tele, and if I had $500 laying around, I would totally buy this. Unfortunately, I don’t. :(

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