new guitar!

I mentioned a few posts back that I was looking into telecasters. Shortly after making that post, I decided what I wanted to get: a G&L ASAT Classic Bluesboy semi-hollow (with f-hole) with a sunburst finish and body binding. I realize that’s pretty specific, especially since I was looking for used guitars.

Well, one popped up a couple of days ago on The Gear Page, so I emailed back and forth with the seller and we made a deal. This is the guitar that I’m getting. I wish that the sunburst wasn’t quite so red, but hey – I’m not that picky.

The guitar should ship on Monday from Georgia, so I might get it by next weekend. I (or Jenny, most likely) will take some real pictures with good lighting when it shows up, and (of course) I will record some clips. Now the waiting begins…

I’m really glad that I decided to be a mentor teacher this year – that little stipend just bought me a new guitar!

New board!

My new board from NYC Pedalboards was delivered while I was working outside (painting doors & shutters, assembling a storage shed), but I managed to tear myself from the manual labor and throw it together. Anyway, here it is.

pedalboard 3/19/08

Even though it’s really big, it’s actually pretty basic. Click here for a bigger pic.

Volume (FV500H)- Wah (RMC3) – Tuner – Distortion – (RHFX io) – Overdrive (Timmy) – Delay (DC Timeline) w/MIDI Controller (Rocktron MIDI Mate) – Boost (RHFX PURE)

I like it so far. I was kinda worried about cable management, but my layout is simple enough and my cables are short enough that it’s not really an issue. The Timeline is almost too big to fit on the bottom row – I guess it’s a good thing that they added an inch to the overall depth of the board. I can squeeze another pedal on there if I push everything on the bottom row together, but I’m not sure that I really need to.

Whaddya think?

Quick Rangemaster Demo

I did a quick and dirty demo of my Rangemaster clone. I basically maxed out the gains on my Stulce, put the mic in front and hit record in Garageband. I play a few basic classic rock riffs/licks – first bypassed, then with the boost. You can tell that the Rangemaster is pretty noisy/hissy, but I think that it may be due to the DC power supply. These things are really supposed to use batteries, but I didn’t have any on hand.

Anyway, let me know what you think…

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Telecasters

For a long time now, a telecaster has been on my want list. It hasn’t been high on the list until lately. A Les Paul took the top slot on that list up until I was able to check that box off a couple of years ago. I have been looking at teles for a while now, and I think that I have decided on the one that I want.

My big gripe with teles is that the two pickups are pretty unbalanced. The bridge pickup is big and beefy and the neck is thin and anemic. Going into the tele hunt, I knew that I wouldn’t want a traditional tele pickup in the neck spot. I want either a humbucker or P-90 style pickup. I’m a fan of humbuckers but I already have a Les Paul, and I want something decidedly different. I’m afraid that the hb just wouldn’t sound like a tele anymore. I’m leaning toward the P-90, which is basically a fat single coil.

Unfortunately, Fender doesn’t really have a P-90 option that still looks like a traditional tele. I have pretty much decided to go with a G&L at this point. G&L is the company started by Leo Fender after he left Fender Musical Instruments. According to many people, Leo got it right the second time. Anyway, the guitar that I’m looking at now is the ASAT Classic Custom. It has a P-90 in the neck and a tele bridge pickup. It comes with the option of a solid or chambered body, and I’m still undecided about that. I’m leaning toward chambered, but I go back and forth. I’m also inclined to stick with a rosewood fretboard, since I’ve never used anything else.

Anyone care to chime in?

shipped!

I just got an email from Mike at NYC Pedalboards saying that my new board is finished and shipped earlier today. It’s really going to be nice once it’s all hooked up. I’ll have room on the right side for a volume and a wah, and there will be a 2nd level riser on the back row (that’s where the Rocktron MIDI Mate will go). All of my other pedals should fit on the front row and my Pedal Power 2 will go under the riser.

It’ll probably look something like this, except that my board will be an inch deeper than this one and I don’t actually have any of these pedals. The Timeline is a little narrower and a little deeper than the DL4. The MIDI Mate is almost 20″ across, so I’ll have about 5″ left on the top row to squeeze in a pedal or two.

I just bought a new volume pedal on ebay. I used to have an Ernie Ball VP Jr, but it was a real tone sucker. I was amazed when I took it off the board. I decided on a Boss FV-500H, and I just picked one up for $75 on eBay. From what I understand, you’re supposed to use a high impedance volume pedal if you place it at the front of the effects chain. I don’t understand the reasoning for that, but I guess I don’t really need to.

I think that I’m going to run my effects in this order:

FV-500H -> Teese RMC3 Wah -> Tuner -> Rangemaster clone -> RHFX io -> Timmy -> Timeline -> RHFX PURE Boost -> Amp

I’ll probably try to get my Bluesbreaker/COT50 on there too, but I’m not really sure how much room I’m going to have left.

Treble Booster, finalized io

I got the PCB for my treble booster in the mail over the weekend, and I finished putting it together yesterday. I have no idea if the transistor is biased properly, but I just wanted to fire it up and see how it sounds. I have only played with it for about 10 minutes, but here are my thoughts – It doesn’t sound good into a clean amp, but it’s awesome into a cranked amp.

I maxed out the gains on my Stulce, which gives my a very nice distorted sound, if a *little* unfocused. When I turned on the treble booster, it just transformed the sound. I was getting this really raw, crunchy tone (I’ll try to do some clips soon). I need to spend more time with it, and I’m going to add a switch to the pedal to allow me to swap input caps for some different tones. I’m not sure how useful it’s going to be since I rarely play into a cranked amp, but we’ll just have to see.

To go along with my new etched PURE boost, Maury fixed up an etched io for me. In case you don’t know, the io is kind of a Marshall-in-a-box pedal. It’s not a one trick pony, though. The tone control is very responsive, and you can dial it in to get crunchy rhythm tones, or roll it back to get creamy, saturated Santana-like lead tones. This pedal, along with the Timmy, cover all of my dirt on my pedalboard.

These pics are not of my pedal, but they’re close enough.

and the inside:

As you can see, the wiring is pretty much immaculate. I haven’t had a chance to play through it yet, but it sure looks nice, eh?

Rocktron MIDI Mate

My new MIDI Mate came in yesterday, and I can already tell that it’s going to totally change the way that I use my delay. In case you don’t know, the delay pedal that I use (Damage Control Timeline) has the ability to sync with a MIDI device to store/recall up to 128 different presets. Up until now, I have kept a pretty neutral setting on my Timeline so that I could reach down in between or during songs and make quick adjustments depending on whether I needed the dotted eighth thing, high repeats for swells, low repeats and feedback for general purpose stuff, etc. Well, now that I have this pedal I can spend some time coming up with some really specific off-the-wall sounds that I can recall with the touch of a button.

I haven’t really messed with any crazy settings because it wasn’t really beneficial in a practical way. I don’t have time when I’m playing to really dial in a sound. I have maybe 3-4 seconds to turn a couple of knobs to get “close enough.” Now I can really tweak the settings and not worry about losing my work.

I spent about an hour with it last night getting some basic patches set up and I’ll probably spend the next few weeks refining them. I used it this morning and it really worked well. I was able to seamlessly switch settings within a song without any hiccups. If you have a Timeline, you need some kind of MIDI controller, and this one is pretty great.

DIY Update

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I bought a bunch of parts to make a few pedals. Well, I’ve been working on them sporadically and I’m pretty much done. I built 2 Lovepedal COT50 clones, a Marshall Bluesbreaker, a couple of Fuzz Face clones, and I’m still waiting on a PCB for a treble booster.

I’m pretty happy with the COT50. I built one for me and one for a friend and former student of mine who is moving to Singapore. I gave it to him last weekend and he seems to like it so far. I put a volume control at the end of the circuit, because it’s pretty much worthless without one. I used to have an original about a year ago, and it only has one knob to control the gain. It’s kinda like having an amp without a master volume control. The higher the gain, the louder it gets. It was impossible to get unity volume with the rest of the pedals on my board, so I got rid of it even though I liked the overall tone. The volume control makes all the difference in the world.

I have my COT50 boxed up with the Bluesbreaker that I made. I didn’t really set out to do it like this, but I ran out of enclosures, so I just put them together. They actually work pretty well together. I have the COT50 running into the Bluesbreaker, and when they’re both on the COT gives the BB a bit of a push. The BB is vaguely tube screamerish, but I like it a lot more than a TS. It doesn’t really have the mid-hump, but it is somewhat compressed (which is not necessarily a bad thing). The Analogman King of Tone is based on the BB design, and a lot of his modifications have been reverse-engineered and published on various diy pedal forums. I did several of these mods, and I like the results. It has less gain now, but it’s clearer and less compressed than the original. I still prefer the Timmy for low gain overdrive, but the BB gives me a different flavor.

I was less successful with the fuzzes. I built a four knob fuzz on a GGG PCB, and I just can’t get it to sound right. It sounds more like a harsh overdrive than a fuzz. I’m guessing that it’s the transistors. I should probably experiment with some different ones, but I just don’t feel like it. The other fuzz that I built was on a PCB that Maury gave me. He uses it to build The Peach that he sells over at RAILhead Effects. It works great for him, but I couldn’t get it to sound right. Again, I’m guessing that it’s the transistors. I don’t know – maybe I’m just not a fuzz guy.

I tried building a Rangemaster (treble booster clone) a few weeks ago on perfboard. I got it together and checked my work and everything looked ok. I wired it up and it didn’t work. I couldn’t find any mistakes, so I decided to just order a PCB and start over. General Guitar Gadgets was sold out, so I ordered one from Tonepad.com. I had never ordered from them before, but their boards look pretty good, so I gave it a shot. I ordered on Feb. 19th and I got an email on the 25th saying that my order was “being processed and [would ship] soon.” I’m not sure why it took 6 days to respond to my order, but whatever. On March 4th I still hadn’t seen anything, so I shot them an email that simply said “define soon.” They responded yesterday, letting me know that it had (finally) shipped. I’ll believe it when I see it. It was only $11 after shipping, so it’s not a huge deal or anything, but I will never order from Tonepad again. I paid some dude on the internet $20 to etch 2 PCBs for me and he had them to me in like a week and a half.

I have gotten a lot better at putting these pedals together. My first builds were embarrassingly messy inside, but they have gotten cleaner with each attempt. They’re not pro level or anything, but I’m happy with them. Now I just need to learn to do something with the exterior.