Ok ok – I’m not that smart – but seriously - Strings!! Which ones are the best and which ones should you play? This is a subject that is just about as diverse as how to pick your pick…. While there is no right or wrong answer parse – I just wanted to share with you my two cents – and hopefully it helps a little. If not – I’m sorry?
Gauge: So the bigger the gauge the better right?! Coming from the school of Stevie Ray Vaughn – I always thought big strings = big tone. When I tried to make the jump from .11 gauge strings (a respectable heaviness) to the mighty .13s – I learned a stiff lesson (pun intended.) My bends weren’t quite what they used to be and after 1 set – my fingertips resembled something that looked a lot like hamburger. (not the delicious kind either.)
Quickly I found out that thick strings aren’t for everybody. As I delved deeper in in to the metaphoric rabbit hole- I also learned that great tone could be achieved with much lighter gauge strings. Guys like B.B. King and Billy Gibbons were using much lighter gauge strings and still getting their tonal point across. (A great guitar set up helps a ton!) So what is right and what is wrong? Only you can decide that one. While bigger strings can produce a bigger tone – play the gauge of string that is comfortable and makes you want to play everyday and won’t murder your fingers after the show.
Coated vs. Uncoated: Aside from the cost, coated usually being way more expensive, what’s the big deal? Lots! Because of the coating on coated strings – dirt and grime usually doesn’t build up on your strings – increasing the longevity of life of the strings. Coated strings usually sound “fresher” for longer periods of time. Some players would beg to differ – saying the coating prevents the string from ringing as true as an uncoated string. I see both sides of the coin – but my personal preference is a coated string between 10 and 11.
I’m a big guy and sweat a lot on stage and usually after a long set – my fresh, uncoated strings are shot. They also feel harder under my fingers after a full 4-hour gig. With coated strings, I can get a couple more gigs with them before I feel the need to change them. In my personal opinion they also feel a little softer under my finger and ring just as true as an uncoated string.
So which string is best for you? Whether it is a light – medium- or heavy gauge string – coated or uncoated – this manufacturer or that manufacturer – only you can really decide what is best. I encourage you to try out different brands of strings of different thicknesses and see which one feels and sounds the best for your rig.
Today is a day of remembrance and mourning for blues players and music lovers the world over - as we have lost yet another music Legend.
Riley King was born on a cotton plantation near Indianola, Mississippi in 1925. He received his first guitar when he was 12 – and the rest as they say – is history.
The impact of his soulful voice and his powerful playing has been a true inspiration for generations of musicians across all genres of music. With just one, stinging, vibrato filled note -B.B. could touch his audience’s heart – and they would know exactly how he was feeling – happy or sad. It’s because with every performance and every carefully selected note – B.B. King bared his soul and passion for his craft - and we were lucky enough to have witnessed it. The World was lucky enough to have him for 89 fantastic years – and for that I am truly thankful.
Rest in peace B.B. King – music would have been a lot different without you.
Recently - I had a New Gear Day (NGD)! Sometimes it's the "little things" in life that get me fired up - and this NGD was no exception.
For those of who know me – or listen to the podcast – you probably already know that I am a tube screamer freak! For many, including myself, it’s even created a cult-like following since it’s release in the late 70s. Like, love, or hate the tube screamer – it definitely has earned its place in electric-guitar history and has been included among some of the most famous guitar rigs ever.
So being a TS collector, when the Tube Screamer Mini came out – I of course HAD TO HAVE IT; that’s what I told my wife anyway. So what’s so cool about it? LOTS – it sounds super close to the original AND it’s tiny! For you nano/ micro board/ mini pedal enthusiasts out there – this is a must have.
So how does it compare with say – the Clarksdale? They are in totally different classes. Apples and Oranges. The Clarksdale has way more options and tonal control. It also doesn’t get as gritty when cranked all the way up. With that said, at half the size and price – the TS mini is pretty darn cool!
Here is my Instagram (maxjeffrey3) pic of my Hebert pedal boards - Micro Board Set up with the TS mini I rigged up for band rehearsals:
If you want to see how the TS mini stacks up with the original TS808 – check out this video from our good friend Roman of Shnobel Tone:
In one of previous podcasts we talked about when to use your pedals at 18 volts. Since this topic is a little more tech oriented I asked our resident pedal engineer/ guru/ wizard/ Jake Steffes to explain it a little more in depth. With out further ado - Jake!! :
"In the podcast we talked about when to use your pedals at 18 Volts. In an analog pedal, that means that your guitar signal is going to swing above and below a reference voltage, which is usually half of your power supply voltage (4.5V for a 9V supply, and 9V for an 18V supply) like Travis brought up. This means that your guitar signal level can swing up from 4.5V to 9V, and down from 4.5V to 0V and not clip any op amps or transistors with a 9V supply (for the most part). With an 18V supply, your reference voltage is at 9V, and your signal can swing from this 9V up to 18V, or down to 0V without clipping any active circuitry (op amps, transistors). If you do your math, that means that an 18V supply essentially allows for larger signals to pass without being clipped.
In pedals with diode clipping, this won’t affect very much; the diodes are going to clip as usual regardless of supply voltage. In pedals with transistor clipping (for example, an overdrive that used JFETs for clipping), the supply voltage will directly affect the character of the clipping. With a higher supply voltage, less clipping will occur because the JFET requires larger signals to clip than with the smaller supply.
In digital pedals, a voltage regulator (a device that takes an input voltage and outputs a lower, regulated voltage) is used to power the digital electronics (like the analog to digital converters that transmit your guitar signal to digital processors). Typically, these regulators will take a 9V input and convert it to a 3.3V or 5V supply. By increasing the 9V supply to an 18V supply, you’ve done nothing to increase headroom in the digital circuitry."
- Max Jeffrey/ Jake Steffes
So after a week long stint of "Best Of" while we are continuing to move in, paint, and wire the new building with top secret gadgets (ok - I made that last part up) we were finally able to shoot 2 brand new podcasts in the new building on the new "stage". To top it all off - the first episode in the new building is also the 50th episode of Chasing Tone. I know what you are asking - did we celebrate? Yes, yes we did - with B's and G's. #trashbagBsandGs Without further ado - the highlights of today's episode:
Intro Music: Travis talks about the gear he used to record the intro music. Which was: a Don Grosh Retro Classic, an Amp 11 (Love Pedal), and a Budda Super Drive 30. The sound was supposed to "kinda honky" so when the full band comes in - the music would transform in to a nice big full sound.
Chasing Springs: Recently Travis changed the amount of springs (from 5 springs to 3 springs) on his Don Grosh Retro Classic. Which, according to Travis, changed his tone - especially in different pickup selections. It created a more "open and airy" type of sound which Travis enjoys more. The tuning stability is still surprisingly awesome! When Travis and I were playing around with it - he was really trying to wreck it - and the strings bounced right back to normal. Consider me impressed!
New Pedal Day: Travis recently purchased an Rocket Effects - Archer from one of our listeners, who also let him borrow a tall font Big Muff. Both are killer sounding pedals with some definite tone! I personally received the TC Electronics Poly Tune 2 Noir - which is a pretty awesome tuner. It's small/ compact - super bright and accurate. A big shout out to Stefan from TC Electronics and the rest of the TC Electronics crew for hooking me up!
How Brian Starts Designing a New Circuit: Brian, as we affectionally call him around here - BW, first starts off with the tone he hears in his head. Then he just starts chasing those tones. He starts with pedal "building blocks" (like J-Fets, certain op-amps, etc - he thinks will work) and thinks will get him close - and then starts tweaking it until he gets in the ballpark of what he hears - and then he fine tunes it even more!
So all that's all for this week - until Thursday Tone Chasers!
As you know, Fusion guitar virtuoso Tom Quayle has been delighted to have a signature pedal out with us for almost two years, the Dual Fusion. We have also been so delighted in his commitment to the brand we have decided to expand on the range.
We have taken the initiative - after many years of people asking us to make a bass range, we are making Tom the vehicle for our new bass pedals. As we now own over 50% of Tom's business and personal assets (there is some dispute over the VHS video collection of 80's SciFi, his step daughter, the mirror in the bathroom and one of his dogs, "Fudge" but this is expected to be clarified by circuit judge Hector Papodopulus before lunch time) we had made Tom give up the guitar and take up bass to promote these pedals!
We are proud to announce the "TQ Low Fusion Blow Tuba Tone Bass Flange Rectifier" - the pedal will come in an assortment of colors, from red to dark red and will have the usual array of TQ switching capabilities, not at all limited to signal routing, satnav routing, light switching and the power to legato without the use of actual leg movement.
Welcome to the lower side of Tom Quayle!
Feels good to be back writing! The last couple weeks are such a blur for everyone here at Wampler HQ! Between SXSW (South by South West), the Guitar Pedal Expo 2015 in LA, and moving in to a new building - we have been more than a little busy to say the least.
During the Guitar Pedal Expo our good friend Sean Pierce hosted a "Pedal Guru" (a panel of 6 current pedal builders) and picked their brain for an hour. Check out the discussion and go give Sean's youtube page/ social media and give it a like!
You may have noticed that some of our more recent releases (Clarksdale and Plexi Drive Deluxe) have had top mounted jacks. We are now starting to morph some of the range over to this, along with relay switches - it's part of our "constant improvement" programme, so if your new pedal has top mounted jacks and softer feeling relay switches, your pedal is legit!! :)
All new top jacks and soft switching!
Greetings Tone Chasers! This Thursday's podcast we covered 2 topics that I thought were most excellent!
Consistent Sound With Multiple Guitars: So if you're using a Les Paul, a Strat, and a Telecaster through one amp - and want to get consistent tone - how can you achieve such a feat? If you are just looking for changes in volume - Brian suggests a volume pedal. You can change it on the fly and is a super easy fix. You can also create consistent tones form guitar to guitar by using an EQ pedal. Billy Gibbons' guitar tech, Elwood Francis, actually has a big EQ rack set up that has lots of different presets - for Billy's guitars for more homogenous guitar tones. Premier Guitar has an excellent Rig-Rundown that shows it in action. Check it out!
Hand-wound vs Machine-wound pickups: We also discussed the difference between Hand-wound pickups and machine wound pickups - whats the difference and does it matter? Well depends I suppose. You can program a machine to count a certain number of winds on a pickup bobbin - or it can be programmed to scatter wind -or even programmed to create a very specific impedance output. When you "hand-wind" pickups you are manually controlling the speed on how fast the pickup bobbin is moving around an axis - and also manually controlling the copper spool of wire as it goes around the bobbin. Hand wound pickups aren't always as consistent from pickup to pickup. With that said - master craft - men and women (like Seymour Duncan, Jason Lollar, Abigail Ybarra- just to name a few) have turned it in to an art form and get pretty awesome results! So which one is better? That's totally up to the player. Let your ears your be your guide!
Until Monday Tone Chasers!