On almost every social media platform - there are countless videos regarding the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Ice Bucket Challenge. The rules are: accept the challenge of dumping ice cold water on your head or pay $100 to the ALS foundation.
We thought to ourselves - why not do both? So after Wampler's own Travis was nominated - he in turn nominated both Brian and myself. What a great way to raise awareness for ALS and donate money to a great cause.
So in true Wampler style, we filled up the font scoop of Brian's tractor, loaded it with 3 - 25 lbs bags of ice and freezing water from a garden hose, and had the boss' wife dump it on all of us. Perfect!
Even though we are having fun (and freezing) please don't forget to donate to the ALS foundation. Every dollar counts. Find out more about donating here: http://www.alsa.org/donate/
- Max Jeffrey
Wanted to give a big shout out to Brian Bonds, guitar player for Florida Georgia Line, for taking a quick break from their Monumental Music Jam Tour (with Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett) to show me the ins and outs of his live rig. Keep an eye out for our Plexi-Drive and Triple Wreck!
Explanations of buffer pedal circuits are, more often times than not, over complicated. In reality, buffer pedals are simple in concept and can help your tone more than you thought possible. Today, I want to take some time and explain what a buffer pedal is, how it can help you, and where to put a buffer pedal in your signal chain.
Most guitar players use several feet of guitar cable. More often time than not, you have an 10+ foot lead going to your pedal board, 1-3+ feet of cable on your pedal board (Depending on the size of it) and an 10+ foot lead going from your pedal board to your amp. Depending on the size of the stage and your own personal setup, you could have even more total cable length than that. What many guitar players don’t realize is, all these long cables are causing your higher end frequencies to be lost in your guitar rig setup.
So how are these higher end frequencies lost through a long cable? At the risk of oversimplifying it, your guitar and cable basically creates a high impedance signal. The longer your guitar cable is, the more capacitance is created which creates a filter that changes the sound. A good buffer circuit will take your high impedance guitar signal and change it to a low-impedance one; allowing your guitar signal to flow easier over a longer distance. The “new” tone that you hear after playing through your buffer pedal is actually your guitar’s original tone.
So where in your chain should you place your buffer pedal? There are several places you can put a buffer pedal at in your signal chain. However, here are a couple good rules of thumb on where to place your buffer. - Between a Wah and a traditional fuzz (Traditional meaning silicon or germanium based Fuzz Pedals – our Velvet Fuzz is neither of these circuits). - Between guitar pedals that may not work well side by side together. If you have to pedals that are next together, but are noisy – place a buffer between them and hear the difference. - Before a long run of your guitar cables. (Usually the beginning of your pedal chain.)
So do you need a buffer? Only you can answer that. So try one out and hear the difference for yourself.
If you would like to hear what difference the Wampler Decibel + Buffer Pedal can make in your signal chain, check out the video below:
Wampler Pedals are delighted to formally announce the release of their long awaited tribute to VOX amps pedal... Called the "Ace Thirty" it is designed to be as accurate as possible through a different right of tones from the uber clean of the Beatles and Hank Marvin, to the roar of Brian May... The pedal will be released for general sale throughout the global dealer network and direct from the website on November 29th!!
Full details are available on the website - demos coming soon!
Despite the obvious nature of a tip like “you have to take care of your muscles” when playing a musical instrument like the guitar, I’ve recently been forced to really examine what my playing time to care time ratio has been like, and make some necessary changes.
Lately, and not for the first time, I’ve been dealing with a flare up of carpal tunnel syndrome, a situation where either genetic or environmental factors cause the median nerve in the wrist to get compressed, which causes numbness, pain, and is generally a gigantic pain in the butt to a working guitar player! Now, genetics we can’t do much about at home, but environmental factors we guitar players can certainly look at to prevent or deal with injuries, and so I write this with the aim of telling you how I’ve been managing my own muscle care in the hope that you’ll come up with a daily preventative action plan for your own guitar-playing muscles.
1. Fore-arm oil massages
It was only when going to a remedial massage therapist recently that I realised how much tension I carry in my forearms every day of the week. Now, I’ve been playing guitar a long time and if anyone has learned to refine and relax their muscles when playing, it’s me. But even still, the therapist took to my arms like a couple of thick steaks that needed some serious tenderising. She told me that usually the only people with forearms worked this hard are people in her own industry.
Using a little oil (cooking oil, massage oil, anything to lube up the hands and fore arm), you can tenderise the meat in your own arms by using your thumbs to really stretch out those outer and inner muscles of your forearm, honing in on any particular pressure points. Alternate between hands so that you don’t do further damage as massaging can be quite tiring. Work the wrists, the fingers of both hands, and spend at least 10 minutes in total. You don’t need to be a specialist to look after your own body, but if in doubt, see a massage therapist and take note of the areas they work on.
2. Shoulder, tricep, neck and back care
Stretching all of these areas before a practice session is essential. If you don’t know what to do to prepare these parts of your body, consult a professional, or even look up some stretching routines on YouTube. The problem is, we usually don’t make positive change until something goes wrong, or the time we spend stretching a little is disproportionate to the time spent playing.
Put together a little routine for yourself, and if your practice is going to be happening for extended periods of time, make sure you stand up and repeat some stretches or shake off any tension whenever you feel the need.
3. Maintain good posture
Years ago I learned this one the hard way by practising obsessively until I was so tired and hunched over the guitar that the neglect of my neck and back caused a painful tendonitis around my picking arm tricep.
4. Drink water in your practice sessions
It can be easy to get carried away and let the hours fly. Make sure you stay hydrated, eat properly and keep a snack nearby to keep you fuelled!
5. Use sports braces when injury strikes
Immobilising my wrists at night with some properly splinted braces has been a God-send for my carpal tunnel syndrome, so if you do need to take some time out for injury, heal those muscles properly with complete rest.
6. See a professional about injuries promptly
Chances are the odd thing will come up and it will pass with time and the right advice, but it’s best not to push things and assume that everything will go away.
Go to a doctor, not a guitar forum. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen guitar players asking a forum what’s wrong with their hands. A doctor doesn’t come and teach my students, so why would I treat their patients? ;)
If you’re a working guitar player, your arms are your income, and if you’re a hobbyist, your arms are your passion. Make sure the amount of care you give them is proportionate to the enjoyment they bring playing the guitar!
Chris Brooks is a Wampler Artist, working guitar player, educator and recording artist from Sydney Australia.
Five Things Your Pedals Wish You Knew About Power:
1. Your pedals don’t really know if they are running on a power supply or a battery. Every once in a while I get wind of a thread on some forum where somebody is waxing on eloquently about how pedals sound best running off a battery, as God intended. Some even go so far as to say that vintage pedals only reach their full potential on plain old-school carbon batteries … because, hey, those fancy-smancy alkaline types weren’t even around when the pedal was originally designed. Now, it may be true that a pedal knows how much voltage it’s running on, and weather there is enough amperage being supplied, but that’s about it.
2. Speaking of batteries, your pedals want you to know that a brand-new, fresh alkaline “9-volt” battery actually clocks in at an average of about 9.6 volts. If by chance you ARE running your pedals off of batteries, you should try to keep tabs on the batteries ACTUAL condition by checking it’s voltage with a multi-meter. A battery that checks at 9 volts is NOT “brand new”, and one at 8 volts is certainly NOT “nearly new” … more like on death’s doorstep.
3. Speaking of voltage … I also hear a lot about the benefits of running pedals at higher or lower voltages than what they are designed for. If the pedal in question is a digital pedal, then grab your hip-waders folks, cause you’re possibly stepping in some deep doo-doo. A voltage higher or lower than the design specs can fry the puppy! Now, if we are talking true fully analog pedals, sure voltage will change the sound. But, is that a good thing? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. A higher voltage on an old bucket-brigade analog delay, for example, may increase the signal to noise ratio a smidgen, while also boosting and cleaning up the output just a teeny bit. But the down-side is that you will probably be hastening the demise of your pedal. In exchange for about a 1% change in tone. In my opinion, not worth it! How about the other way around; less voltage? Here there MAY be a tiny bit of truth, but only in the case of a fully analog “dirt” box. Yes, if this were 1972 and you were using, say a Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face, the old carbon-zinc battery would be sweating bullets just trying to power the sucker. Remember that 9.6-volt figure I mentioned in #2? In the pre-alkaline days, that wasn’t the case. Walking into your local Ben Franklin’s five & Dime store to get your Eveready battery (the one featuring the cat with 9-lives), you would blow the dust off a “9-volt” with anywhere from about 6 volts to 9.6 volts. The designers of those old pedals knew this, and they usually designed accordingly. They would design a circuit that could tolerate up to, say, 10-volts, but something like 8-volts was the design spec. So, in the case of one of these effects, sure, a decent argument can be made for “browning” down the power supply to maybe 8 volts or so. Most any pedal designed from the 80’s onward though, no way! All you’re going to do by browning out your new reverb pedal is decrease headroom and you'll experience some signal clipping (usually, the unpleasant kind).
4. Again, speaking of batteries. Please, please remove the batteries from your pedals when not in use. If you haven’t experienced the destructive force of battery acid inside the closed environment of an effect pedal, consider yourself very lucky. It ain’t pretty. Nuff said.
5. So, I’m kind of not-so-secretly hoping that I’ve dissuaded you from using batteries in your pedals by now. Seriously, all it takes is one show ruined by a dead battery, or one pedal ruined by a leaking battery and you quickly join the battery-hater club! BUT! All power supplies are NOT equal. That bears repeating: All power supplies are not equal. Often, if someone is anti-power supply (pro-battery) it is because they have plugged their pedal into a power supply and experienced hum or other noise that was not present when operated on a battery. That’s because you can’t just go to the local electronics store and buy a generic “9-volt DC” power supply. Nor can you simply steal the power supply from your kid’s mickey-mouse sing along tape player to power your new dirt pedal. You MUST choose a fully shielded (filtered) and regulated supply that has been specifically designed for use in powering audio devices (pedals).
On behalf of every pedal you currently own, or will ever own, thanks for reading!