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So it's Monday once again - which means another episode of the Chasing Tone podcast! For those of you who want the abbreviated version - here it is.
For those of you that have watched this podcast on YouTube – we started out this podcast with me cracking up at the beginning of the podcast over a video that I was “YouTube-ing”. (If you don’t want to watch a video of a dog in a teddy bear outfit running on a trampoline – skip down to the next paragraph.) With that said, if you need a good laugh this Monday morning - follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVmBL8B-In0 If you don’t laugh a little bit – you might not have a soul.
So, what makes an amp pedal friendly? (Kenny Stein asked) In a nutshell – “flat responding” amps are usually the best for pedals. Flat responding amps are typically do not have a lot of sway over the treble, mids, or bass; the EQ is very neutral sounding. According to Brian, a pedal friendly amp doesn’t have a whole lot of presence or resident frequencies. Some amps, like a Fender Twin or a Dr. Z have their own tonal characteristics that shine through no matter what pedal gets thrown in front of them – and that definitely isn’t a bad quality at all for an amp. With that said – if you want to use your pedals for all your dirt (or if you work for a pedal company that needs to demo pedals) you might want to consider a flatter sounding amp. Neutral/ flat response amps – typically bring out the most characteristics of pedals. One of our favorite amps to use in the studio and on shows – is the Port City Pearl (2x12”). This is amp is super neutral and allows the true tone of the guitar and pedals to shine through.
Brian’s picking attack. For those of you who have listened to the podcast before or have ever met Brian in person, know that he has no love for Stratocasters. Travis may have stumbled on to a theory of why Brian doesn’t show any Stratocaster love – picking attack. For the most part Strat lovers/ players – this writer included – have a tendency to move their whole arm up and down while picking. Tele pickers – like Brian have the tendency to just move their wrist. (Brian plays a Strat a lot like a Tele – probably why he has never found one he likes.) Brian did say – that he would have to move his strap down sometime and try it. I won’t hold my breath. Lol.
That's it for this week - stay tuned next Monday for Chasing Tone Podcast episode 34!
So we made it back in one piece. (This time we didn't miss any flights.)
Between unveiling our all new Plexidrive Deluxe (available Feb. 27th), seeing old friends and meeting new ones (cough cough Marc Ford), blowing out of voice talking over super drum cymbals (I'll never yell at my drummer again), and shaking a lot of hands - I am happy to report we have yet another successful NAMM under our belts! I am however sad to report that the NAMMthrax has finally gotten me.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term NAMMthrax - it is a term that has been coined from the massive amount of germs that is spread between everybody at NAMM shaking hands or talking in close proximity to one another. Usually it never gets to me - but this year - NAMMthrax has sunk it's teeth into me and infected me with a cold. So today's Blog is brought to you from my couch instead of the office. Time to get some rest. Before I go - I'll leave you with a picture of cymbal booth next to us. (if there was such a thing as my least favorite part of NAMM - that would be it. lol.)
This week we wanted to try something just a little bit different. If you want to catch up on the podcast but don’t necessarily want to sit through 30 plus minutes, or don’t have the time to, – you can read the highlights below.
Guitarists vs audience perceived tone. Can the audience really tell the difference? It honestly totally depends. If you are playing a Boss Medal Zone on a George Straight country song – the audience might pickup on the out of place tone. AKA – “That fella doesn’t sound right.” But for the most part – that audience typically can’t tell the difference between a $3,000 guitar amp vs a $4,000 guitar amp. With that said, better sounding gear to a musician can instill confidence and therefore create a better atmosphere/ show that the audience can pick up on.
There are exceptions to the rule. If you Jack Pearson – you can play a $100 Squire Strat and make it sound fantastic. Seriously – it’s a real thing – check out the Allman Brother’s tribute on YouTube. Honestly – take a break from reading this and go check it out – it will make you hate your gear.
Wooten’s Law: Victor Wooten- bass player extraordinaire, came up with a pretty cool rule “Study a style of music you hate.” You might learn something tonally, melodically, or rhythmically that you might not have thought of. I spent the weekend doing this and learned a lot of stuff I can implement in my own style of playing.
E-Bay Woes: Travis finally found his dream (Marshall Bass and Lead 20), went to buy it, and somebody else had already purchased it. Tough break dude - wasn’t meant to be.
Princess Bride: Probably one of the best cult classic movies ever – and Brian has never seen it. “Anybody want a peanut?” was a quote we used by the character Fezzik (played by Andre the giant). If you haven’t seen “The Princess Bride” you need to watch it after you read this blog. It’s a very family friendly movie and it has Andre the Giant in it. The guy was huge and holds the world record for drinking the most beer in one sitting (127 beers in one sitting) – who wouldn’t have wanted to party with that guy?
Guitar Tone Words: “Fizzy” what is fizzy? Travis summed it up as: "If you cranked up the highest frequency on a parametric EQ, it will typically generate “Fizz”. Some pre-amp distortion can sound fizzy as well. 'Think JCM 800'." We’ve also found that if your amp has a bright switch, it will make a lot of dirt pedals sound fizzy. This isn’t the case all of the time – but most of the time we have created that fizz sound by playing with some high-end frequencies in conjunction with dirt pedals.
Humbuckers: Brian wants some new humbuckers for his Les Paul. Although he has a setoff hand wound pickups from Mr. Seymour Duncan himself!!! – he still hasn’t installed them yet. Why do I have a feeling that I will be installing these in his Les Paul in the future? Travis mentioned that he has heard rave reviews about the Joe Bonamassa signature pickups. I’ve checked them out – I hate to admit how good they sound.
Happy New Year Tone Chasers. It has been a minute since I posted last. Between the holidays and with NAMM 2015 in less than 2 weeks - we have been keeping busy on new stuff to bring to you in 2015!
Recently I received an email asking me if I could define some buzz words that get thrown around a lot in the industry. A lot of the buzz words out there can be a silly/confusing at times but I guess it does go with the territory of guitar geek talk vernacular. Over time they just become a part of what you hear in different pieces of gear. On my honey moon back in October my wife and I went on the Bourbon Trail through Kentucky sampling bourbons. (Would you expect anything else??) The person leading the bourbon tasting would throw around buzz words too like "Oaky". What does "Oakey"taste like - I have never chewed a piece of oak. But without hesitation many of us new exactly what they meant. Guitar tone buzz words - are often used in the same way. While there are ton of buzz words out there - these are 6 of my favorites.
Fizzy - usually has lots of top end/ treble type frequencies - the top end freq. tends to break up creating a sometimes un-desirable tone.
Mid-rangey - a tone that has a lot of mid range frequencies in it.
Woody - I use this term to describe a sound of slightly lower frequency, with a more acoustic resonance.
After odd frame rate occurrences on the camera and a freak incident where it was deleted all together -the video for Chasing Tone Podcast 26 is finally back up and running! In between talking about beer pairings, keeping track of Brian's Germ-X use, my fleeting attempt at growing a beard/ No-Shave-November, the word "husky" and its various synonyms, Travis' juvenile stomach problems, and battling with my cold/ constant sniffling - we actually talked about some good gear related stuff.
This week - we covered picking attacks and how it effects your tone, different pedals paired with different amps, digital power draw, and some common as well as some uncommon power issues.
Here are some new things we've created for you this week!
New Blog this week: "How we go about naming and designing a pedal"
New Chasing Tone Podcasts:
Lastly, we have just a couple more Cranked Overdrives left: http://www.wamplerpedals.com/limited/crankedOD/
I'm often asked about where the names and look for the pedals come from for Wampler. It's sometimes an extremely stressful and complicated process and other times it falls into place really quickly, here is a snap shot of the process into the first design I did for Wampler, The Paisley Drive, over 4 years ago and then a comparison to the last design I did, the Latitude...
Paisley Drive First a little history, I have no design background or anything vaguely official that qualifies me as a graphic designer, I just make it up as I go along - as Brian calls it - "Throwing some rice at the wall and see what sticks"! I had been working on updating the website for Brian (before I worked here full time) when he sent me an email that had the immortal line "you know that overdrive we are doing for Brad Paisley, want to have a shot at the logo?" - As I was working in the most miserable job imaginable (front line of the unemployment office in the UK) I jumped at the chance, I'd be mad not too! I started calling it the "Paisley Drive" straight away and we knew Brad's favourite colour was Blue (although the proto was pink and everyone thought it was going to be that color)... that was it, that was all I had to work on.
So, what do you do for Paisley? There had to be a couple of Paisley's on it, that was obvious... I wanted a telecaster style headstock on it, again for me that was obvious - at that time the printers were doing the labelling of the knobs and switches (unlike now: you will notice it's become part of the design on later pedals) So, I drew the headstock, found a font that would fit within it (this is often the most time consuming issue) and then started to tweak it around until everything fell into place - I mock everything up into photoshop so we can all look at it on screen and get a good idea of how it will look.
So, left to right: Prototype, the actual artwork used for the logo, the photoshop mockup, the first screen print test on the basecoat and finally Mr Paisley holding his Paisley Drive (a proud moment for me)
Note: The design has since been updated to include his signature.
Latitude Fast forward four years... The first step these days is that I get with Justin Simpson (who traces out the PCB's and is the technical lead within Wampler, a PCB genius) to discuss the control layout. I am always pushing us to move away from the safe layout of our earlier models and make them more interesting. So, I look at the number of knobs, switches etc and tell Justin where I want them to be on the pedal. He then comes back and tells me if it's possible and we work together to give it an interesting layout that in no way compromises the technical layout and operation of the pedal. This can sometimes be a long process as I'm only interested in the look, he's only interested in the internal layout - as always though, he wins as tone is everything, I never let him win easily though, we always find the best compromise!
So, the design. It was a really hard one, we wanted to have a marketable theme for it but it's kinda hard when all the best names had all been taken (yes, MojohandFX and Flux Effects, I'm looking at you)... As always, it ended up as a four way discussion in Skype with Travis, Brian, Max and myself. We wanted something watery for a marketing angle and it's appropriate considering the sound of the effect. Travis brought Whitecap to the table quite early, we all dug it but it didn't work on the pedal (I had even mocked up a couple of versions) to test it and it just didn't work... so it was put to one side... not sure Travis has quite forgiven me yet! So, it got to the stage where we were just saying random words out loud in the vein hope that something would jump out at us... It got to the point where I was losing the will to live and was just sat there staring at the screen thinking it would never happen, and then Brian said "Latitude"... I saw it then in my head straight away, a map. A pirate map with swirly writing and a compass at the back. Within an hour I had the design in photoshop (.psd) and within 2 it was vectored in illustrator (.ai) and submitted for production.
1: Original prototype. 2: Mr first proposed layout (using a knob for waveform selector). 3: Justins response as to where things can and can't go. 4: "Whitecap" (note layout is now confirmed with sub divisions on a switch). 5: TremoH2O. 6: Latitude. 7: Base color tester. 8: The finished article!
Podcast 25 is up! Between sniffles and coughing, “Zee-Vampler”, and Travis’ talks of his 15-second hip-hop abs workout – we actually managed to talk about some gear! Not my most enthusiastic podcast ever – but we covered some good stuff.
This week a major topic we talked about was – should delay come before or after your dirt. In most all cases – after your dirt. Why? Great question – because it sounds better. Haha. But in all seriousness – as Brian explains in the podcast - your delay should be placed after your dirt. – This will allow your distorted/ overdriven signal to get the repeats – not the other way around. If you are running a reverb pedal with a delay pedal – we like to place the reverb after the delay pedal for smoother tones.
Check out the podcast below!