I hate active electronics. It’s not that they don’t serve a purpose, they just don’t serve a purpose for me. I play death metal and run everything through distortion, so actives are pretty pointless. I’m not looking for clarity in tone, I’m overdriving everything. Unfortunately, any new gear seems to be marketed with active preamps and pickups and a bunch of bullshit that’s going to fail on me. Such was the case with my OTHERWISE excellent LTD GB-4 bass guitar.
We went on tour in October of 2021 and this bass failed on me two separate times live (and in front of some lovely looking people i was trying to impress). The GB-4 comes with a Seymour Duncan STC-3M3 active tone circuit to compliment the passive Seymour Duncan SSB-4 soapbar humbuckers and it also eats batteries like a mother fucker. Once we’d figured that out after it died on me twice on stage, i was replacing batteries every 4-5 days. Also on stage, something happened to the active treble and bass combo knob, and i had to tape it in place so it wouldn’t crackle. Embarassing. I was done with it. This bullshit active electronics package was going to be ripped out and I was going to piss all over it.
This was a continuation of an idea from a very old post. I created a foot-switchable iPod controller for myself that incorporated a DI for easy sample playing on stage. A lot of people really liked it. One such person was Justin who plays in the band Ulthar and Veil. He asked me to cobble a simple version together for him, so I did.
I call it an “iPhone controller” now because who the fuck uses an iPod these days. Do they even make them anymore? I have mine, but… well whatever, the function of the circuit accomplishes the same goal: one stomp makes it play/pause, two stomps makes it go forward, three stomps makes it go back. For fuller details on how to build one, check out the details of the old post. To see the guts of this simpler version, read on.
In the ’60s and ’70s, it was not uncommon to find an extra power outlet on the back of your amp. I assume this was because live rock music was in its infancy and most theaters didn’t have a milk crate full of quad boxes and power strips to bring power to your multiple amps, reverb units, and bulky-ass Morley wah pedals. The extra outlet disappeared in the ’80s, which is a shame, because they can be so damn useful. I know, because my Ampeg V-4B and SVT have ones which I use all the time to plug in my pedals.
This is Sean’s Peavey XXX amp with an outlet I added. I did it because he likes to place his wireless on top of the amp and Sennheiser, in their infinite wisdom, made the power adapter cord 3′ long. It’s a pain in the ass to run an extension cord for a single DC power adapter, so the outlet makes things easier. I detailed how I did it in a post about fixing that amp. Another option is to get an IEC plug splitter like the one I wrote about before, but that’s just something extra to lose. Sean’s now got a signature Satriani XXX and he wanted it, too, to have the extra outlet. What a time to make a post dedicated to adding this long-lost convenience.
The Varidrive by SIB! is a gnarly fully AC powered vacuum tube overdrive. It’s got a real analog growl, pushing that tube to the limits for real distortion.
For such a nicely engineered pedal, they forgot one thing: there’s zero indication when you’ve engaged the effect… I mean, other than screaming overdrive in your ears. But visually, ya got nothing, and during a hard core punk rock gig, it can sometimes be hard to tell. Luckily, SIB! already put an LED on their pedal to indicate it’s getting power. It’s not so hard to change that out for a bicolor LED to indicate power AND when the effect is engaged.
Maybe you have a guitar cab with just a single input, but you want to be able to switch to 4Ω instead of just the 16Ω it’s wired to. Maybe you want to run your speakers in stereo. Maybe you just hate those stupid fucking bullshit plastic Marshall switchable stereo jack plates that constantly break. If any of this applies to you, please consider the Plug and Play jack plate as a replacement.
Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose. This was bought and I installed it. As far as I can tell, it’s made by Amplified Parts, a webstore I use frequently to purchase tubes and parts. This is an all purpose jack plate made of durable metal with no stupid switches that break. Installing one is easy.
Apple Computer is such an annoying corporation. They make these tiny changes to their stupid cords because they expect all of us to be rich tech bros upgrading our shit constantly. Well, I’m a cheap skate and I’m still rocking a seven-year-old laptop. But I did lose my charger. It was a MagSafe 1 charger. You know what’s incredibly hard to find now? MagSafe 1 chargers. Well, it turns out MagSafe 2 is the same fucking thing, just slightly different in size.
I picked up this old charger off craigslist for $20. It was late, we met in front of a grocery store, and I didn’t realize it had the wrong end until I got home. Dammit. Do I call the guy back? Do I try and sell this one myself? Or do I fuck it all up on my own DIY like I always do? You can guess the answer.
The Morley EVO-1; one of the holy grails of stupid, antiquated pedal-collecting. It’s a monster-sized beast that accomplished one tiny effect. It has… a really, really short echo. But when it came out, how fucking novel! In a world before BBD chips, in a time of oil… this is the oil can echo.
This was a broken EVO-1 that I picked up online. The base was rotten and the echo did not echo. I fixed it all up and did meticulous work photographing everything. And then my computer crashed. This was in 2014. So, it’s been awhile. In lieu of the gigantic photo essay I had planned, I’m gonna take my time and retrace my steps. If you want to know more about oil-can audio technology now, see my previous article on the Morley RWV Rotating Wah I refurbished. If you want to see a simple way to mod the circuit board to make an EVO-1 more powerful, for the 2-6 people who actually own one that works, read on!
I’ve been posting pretty sporadically this year. I’ve been working hard on projects for the band and such, but the muse to write and an actual electronic work station have been missing since the wife and I found ourselves together in a single bedroom apartment. Oh yeah, and I work a lot, funneling most of my paycheck to pay off debt. Funny how life gets in the way of, you know, this self-aggrandizing bullshit.
Well, last night I found myself on the floor of our rehearsal space, trying not to lose screws in the carpet and diagnosing bandmates’ broken gear. Sean managed to fry out the zener projection diode in his just-acquired DigiTech Black-13 pedal by plugging in the wrong voltage. Ben’s B-52 Stealth Series ST-100A had some bad power tubes. It’s all stuff that’s very important to fix, but not very interesting to write a post on. So, I thought maybe it’s a good time to stop exulting myself. Instead, I’ll let others do that by showing off their work that some of my posts helped along. Altruistic to the end.