Intonating My New ESP LTD GB-4 Bass

Membership has its privileges. I got a new LTD bass from ESP for playing in Exhumed. While I have a couple ESP basses, they are tuned to D for other bands. So, on the last Exhumed tour, I had to drag my old B.C. Rich Ironbird out of retirement because it was tuned to B standard (and looked cool). Exhumed is sponsored by ESP, though. That’s largely just because Matt Harvey is, like, you know… Matt Harvey. He pulled some strings and Tony at ESP made sure we’d all be repping proper for our upcoming tours.

Yeah, that’s the bass I chose. I like the body style a lot; it looks like a Fender P-bass and a Gibson Thunderbird got together and fucked. And yeah, I chose “seafoam” green, or as I like to call it, “doktor” green. Or as I also like to call it, “maybe this metal thing won’t pan out after playing for 26 years and I’d like something that wouldn’t look inappropriate covering dad-rock at a bar” green. In any case, it came tuned to E standard and I needed it in B. So in lieu of hiring someone to do it, I did my own down and dirty intonation on this bad boy.

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Recording Revenge: DIY Tracking

It’s like some kind of weird dream… I’m apparently back in Exhumed. Only, it’s not in the same room, and like, there’s a snake rolling a donut. I mean, it’s actually been almost two years since I accepted the invitation to rejoin, but we’ve had just a handful of shows since. Matt has had a record ready to record before I even joined, though. This last March, when I asked Matt when we would get down to practice new stuff, he informed me, actually, we were going ahead and recording . It had to be done before May. Oh, fuck. Okay, the dream became a nightmare.

And I show up to the show with no pants on [pic courtesy]
So, okay… get your shit together, Sewage, this is fucking happening. Matt and Mike were heading to Florida to get guitars and drums tracked. To keep things easy (and cheap) I was going to take care of my own vocal and bass tracking back in Oakland. This not only had the benefit of saving costs, but also of sparing anyone the time of editing all the shitty playing that was to be forthcoming on a bunch of songs I’d never actually played with a band. It was lucky that I had collected the gear, had the studio with my other Oakland-based band, and had been through some of this before. Here’s how I did it.

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Extreme BOSS DS-1 Makeover: Sewage Edition

Mauz, my boss and friend, is probably most well known for playing in Dystopia. He’s also played in Mindrot, Nigel Peppercock, Medication Time, and now heads up the oi punk outfit Kicker. One day at our print shop a year or so back, I noticed he had a horribly beat up BOSS DS-1. It looked like shit and something was wrong with it. He handed it over to the Doktor.


Just to be clear, that’s not what his pedal looked like. That’s a clean, normal DS-1, a classic in the distortion world. It’s a lot of people’s first stomp box. It’s a simple IC distortion circuit using silicon diode clippers and a very basic low-high tone control. That’s also why it’s a fun pedal to work on, because there’s a lot you can do. Mauz’s DS-1 pedal was spray painted black by some old punk rocker and was missing all the knobs. It needed to be cleaned up, but the technical refurbishing came first.

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BOSS HM-2: Like an Ever Flowing Gleam

The BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal guitar distortion pedal holds a special place in death metal history. It is the sound of Sweden. This cheap, compact design pedal was used heavily at Sunlight Studios to make the “buzzsaw” guitar tone famous on so many original Swedish death metal records from Entombed, Dismember, Nihilist, At the Gates, and Edge of Sanity; later, on scores and scores of not so memorable imitation records.

BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal

In fact, that’s pretty much all this pedal can do. Dynamics? Forget it. Put all levels on 10, detune, and jam. Of course, there’s some amp EQ details in there somewhere, but forget it. This pedal gets so much worship for such a one-trick pony. My old band mate, Leon del Muerte, is one of those worshippers. He liked the light plate I added to my old Phase 90 and wanted his HM-2 to get the same treatment. Sure, the HM-2 already has a power indicator light, but he wanted it to SHINE like the god he saw it as. I took it from his apartment as he hugged it goodbye and I went to work (2 months later).

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