Pedal Check-Ups: DOD FX90 and MXR Phase 90

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.

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Mondo Morley Medicale: RWV Rotating Wah

So you think you’re analog, eh? You always use physical faders for your volume swells, you only record to tape, and you have that nifty vibrato guitar pedal with a BBD IC chip. I call bullshit. That’s not analog enough! An IC chip? Well, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, but no arigato. If you want that pedal to be even more analog, you need to send your guitar signal through an aluminum disc covered in oil to rubber pickups. WTF? Here’s one of the biggest stomp boxes you’re likely to ever see, the Tel-Ray Morley RWV Rotating Wah.

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Raymond Lubow invented the oil can echo in the 1960s for his company, Tel-Ray Electronics, to be a more reliable device than the tape-based echoes of the time. Smaller than a tape echo, it was also able to be added by amplifier manufacturers to their products. It uses an aluminum disc rotating in an electrostatic oil which brushes against conductive rubber pickups to carry the sound. Raymond used the same technology to create the Morley rotating speaker simulator and shove it into a pedal. The name was a pun on the Leslie (less-lee) rotating cabinet speaker. Thus a company was born and we all got ever-so confused. Now imagine you have a broken one. Fuck.

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Mic Hunt: Shure SM7B

I have an Amazon Wish List a mile long. They’re dreamy items because I dream of having disposable income to spend on them. Maybe some dreamy billionaire who reads my blog will think I deserve a present. On Christmas Day, my brother surprised me with what he dubbed a “baller gift” from said list. He’s had a good financial year, so he gifted accordingly with a Shure SM7B. Fuck to the yeah.

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I’m even more excited to play with the box.

I don’t own much in the way of equipment that’s not been used. Like, almost nothing. It’s a big deal for me to get something like this without a hunt on craigslist. I’ve wanted a really good vocal mic for some time and the Shure SM7B fit the bill. If it’s good enough for Michael Jackson, then it’s good enough for me. That same logic is how I also got addicted to prescription drugs and why I’m always trying to hang out with Macaulay Culkin.

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Operating Theater: Gallien-Krueger 400RG

Mauz from Kicker had this interesting paperweight laying around the shop for awhile over at Monolith Press, where I work my day job. Turns out, it used to make noise. This was a remnant of the eighties, a Gallien-Krueger GK 400RG in all its solid-state and rack-mountable glory. It had its own crusty history as the amp for Geoff Evans from Skaven followed by Mauz when he recorded guitar for Dystopia’s “The Aftermath.” It also had a history of blowing up and some questionable, tweaky repairs with non-spec parts.

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So crusty, it has a P.E.T.A. sticker certifying that it’s vegan and better than you.

Mauz asked if I would take a looksy, so it went from a paperweight at the shop to a paperweight in my room. I wasn’t jumping at the chance to work on it. Fixing solid-state amps is a bitch. There’s so many little things that could be wrong or blown and you can’t always see it. You actually have to be smart… or you can blindly test everything a gazillion times until you get it right. So, yeah, testing everything it is.

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S.H.I.E.L.D.ing a guitar

or, Strategic Harmony Interference Elimination and Lead Defense.

Guitar pickups are electro-magnetic transducers that use changing magnetic fields to induce pulses of alternating current electricity from a coil of copper wire at voltages reproducing audible sine wave frequencies in relation to an absolute ground. I think. Sometimes I prefer the definition as proposed by Messrs. Dope and J; magnets are a “miracle.” Unfortunately, the latter definition does nothing to help understand why my bass might be buzzing like a bee chainsawing an alarm clock when the FOH sound guy turns the lights on and off. There’s two ways to solve the problem. One, you can learn to play the chainsaw.

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it works for that dude in Exhumed

Or two, you can shield your guitar. Truth be told, it should probably be shielded from you: throwing it around, spilling beer on it, bleeding on it… and by “you” I mean “me.” But the shielding I refer to will protect that precious guitar signal of malodorous melodies from the buzzing bullshit of the outside world.

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Barrel Jacks are Fucking Bullshit

Sean was nice enough to give me a guitar to use for demoing songs as we write a new record. It was a Halo guitar. I don’t know much about the company, but I’ve had to do some re-working in a few questionable construction issues to get this one up to snuff. One thing that sucked is the cable jack. It was the barrel style. Frankly, they’re total bullshit.

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See the tines you can bend back into shape when it loses grip on a plug? No, you don’t, because they don’t exist. These things are notorious for breaking down and needing replacement. I’d had to replace one of Dan’s on the last tour we did in America. Basically, they’re longer, so I guess they’re used to avoid doing a good routing job on a guitar body. The nice people at Halo glued theirs in with wood putty, so that made replacement a non-cinch. I had to rip the fucker out.

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The NEW Ampeg V-4B

Wow, that is something I thought I’d never see… a NEW Ampeg V-4B. While I was doing a search for something else related to my OLD V-4B, I came across the press that this month, Ampeg has re-introduced my favorite all time bass amp back into their line-up. Ain’t she a beaut!

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It’s funny that they’ve recreated the V-4B, as the original was a guitar amp. They added the B when bass players started using it, changed a few caps, and ditched the reverb. As a guitar amp, it ruled, but as a bass amp, it surprisingly ruled even harder.

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iSewage uNot – foot switchable iPod controller

Impaled’s first national tour was with Nile in the year 2000. Nile controlled a bunch of oogey-boogey Egyptial style samples from a PC tower on stage. I was sure they played Tetris between songs to relax. On another tour with Origin, we thought they’d upped the D.I.Y. by burning a CD with samples on it to play through a Sony Discman, the height of technology. Then came the iPod: relatively cheap, small, and it worked pretty good. For Impaled, Jason hooked up a series of samples and would walk back to his amp to push the “forward” button. I did the same thing a few years later while touring with GWAR. I thought, “There must be a better way.” And there is. But I had to invent it.

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Behold! The iSewage uNot!

Well, I didn’t actually invent shit. I did put together a bunch of other already invented shit in what I think is a pretty novel way. The iSewage uNot incorporates an iPod, a DI box, a stereo-summing circuit, and a momentary foot switch. A musician can control an iPod with his foot for use as a sampler while playing music. Apple plugged in all the technology you need to make it happen, but they forgot to include the instructions.

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