Tuning issues, amp stuff

I’ve mentioned it before, but I finally ordered a Tremol-no™ for my PRS. I never use a trem, but the fact that it’s even present causes all kinds of tuning instability. If I detune one string, the rest of the strings go out of tune due to the change in tension on the springs in the trem cavity. Anyway, bla bla bla – the tremol-no corrects this issue.

The tremol-no is a little gadget that replaces the tremolo claw in your trem-equipped guitar and allows you to lock/unlock the trem whenever you’re not using it. You tighten a screw to lock it down and unscrew it if you want to use it.

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I think I’m figuring out how to dial in my amp (a Fryette Sig:X). I was trying to use each channel to do the function that it’s named for (clean/rhythm/lead). However, I haven’t really been able to dial in a really great hard rock rhythm tone on the rhythm channel. The rhythm channel is kinda vintage-sounding and doesn’t get as saturated as the lead channel.

At our last show, I used the lead channel pretty much all the time since we played kind of a hard rock-ish setlist. Whenever I took a solo, I just hit the FX loop button on the footswitch. The FX loop has a volume control, so you can dial it in to give you a volume boost without adding any gain. It’s a pretty cool little feature. Drop a delay pedal (and maybe an EQ pedal with a slight mid-bump) in the loop and it’s perfect for a solo setting on any channel. Even without those things it sounded fine. I’ll probably set the rhythm channel for a Hendrix-style Marshall overdrive tone and hit it with a fuzz for solos.

Just like everything related to guitar gear, this whole thing is going to be subject to change. I might have a different amp in 6 months. I hope not. Shipping amps is a pain. Thinking aloud: I wonder if I could live with a single channel amp? Do I really need a clean channel? The Fryette Deliverance amps look/sound awesome, but they only have one channel and no effects loop. Hmm. I need to just stick with the Sig:X. It’s super versatile and it sounds awesome. I don’t want or need a different amp. The very notion is ridiculous.

latest show

Earlier this week, we played for/with a local intermediate school orchestra on their last concert of the year. Our bass player is the orchestra teacher, so we kinda did it as a favor to him. We played a couple of songs with the orchestra – Smoke on the Water and Kashmir – and then we played a mini concert for the kids at the end of the concert. This was our biggest audience so far, and they seemed to be really into it.

We set up a little handheld mp3 recorder back at the soundboard and we got some stuff recorded. You can’t really hear the bass or the other guitar and we overload the mic a couple of times, but you’ll get the idea.

Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart (Stone Temple Pilots)

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Hysteria (MUSE)

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No One Knows (Queens of the Stone Age)

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The Middle (Jimmy Eat World)

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Slither (Velvet Revolver)

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This is the first time that we’ve actually heard ourselves, and it’s nice to be able to hear what we need to work on. Obviously, tempo is a big issue. Pretty much all of these songs were too fast, especially the first one. I think that Greg (our drummer) was just overly excited. =)

Anyway, feel free to leave constructive feedback.

What I’ve been up to (Timmy Clone)

A few months ago, in a haze of Gear Acquisition Syndrome I sold my Timmy overdrive pedal. That was a mistake, and I have regretted it. I’m back on the waiting list, but it’ll probably be another 6 months before my name is up. In the meantime I decided to take matters into my own hands.

There are a handful of websites where people disassemble boutique stompboxes and reverse engineer them. It’s nerdy, but it’s kinda cool. Okay, it’s not really cool at all. Anyway, I managed to find a layout for the Timmy overdrive. This ended up being a more involved process than I am used to. I usually buy a premade circuit board and put solder the right components in the right place. This time, I started out with a piece of stripboard. It looks like this:

That piece is too big to fit inside the enclosures that I use, so I cut it down to a more manageable size. Then I used a layout that someone else designed based on the schematic. This involves cutting certain traces on the bottom and creating new traces on the top as well as soldering the components into place.

Here’s the finished product from the outside. It’s not much to look at, but I don’t really care about the visuals.

Unfortunately, the insides aren’t much better.

You might notice that one of the capacitors (the blue one) is way bigger than the others. This is a result of me screwing up my parts order. Instead of ordering 2 1uF box capacitors, I only ordered one. I found the big blue one at Radio Shack so that I could at least finish the project. I’ll clean things up a bit once I get that smaller cap. It was really hard to cram four potentiometers into this small box. It took me forever to keep it from shorting out whenever I put it together.

It works, but I just finished it about an hour ago so I haven’t had a lot of time to mess with it. Based on the limited time that I have spent with it, I think it sounds pretty close to the real deal. I’m sure that a couple of the components that I’m using are the wrong material or value, so it may require some tweaking. At the very least, it should tide me over until the real deal comes along.

My board

It’s been a while since I posted an updated picture of my pedalboard, so here it is.

I’ve had most of this stuff for a while, but the newest addition is the Mayo. It’s a clone that I built of the (now discontinued) Skreddy Mayo, which was a tweaked version of the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi. It uses different capacitor/resistor values as well as different transistors. It’s the same general sound as the BMP, but it’s a little smoother/less raspy. It’s noisy, but it sounds great for thick leads as well as Smashing Pumpkins-type rhythm tones.

I have a couple of other DIY projects in the works. I built a clone of the Barber LTD Silver (David Barber released the schematic when he discontinued the pedal), but it didn’t sound quite right so I gave it to Maury in the hopes that he could get it working for me. Up next – I’m about to start working on a clone of the Timmy pedal. I used to have a real one, but I (foolishly) sold it. I’m going to get another one, but I figured that I would build one while I wait on the list.