Category Archives for "Guitar"

New Music Gear Monday: Two Notes Torpedo Live Digital Amplifier Load Box

two notes torpedo liveA guitar amp load box lowers the volume to, or even eliminates, the speaker cabinet so you can crank up your favorite amp without tearing the walls down with SPL. I go way back when it comes to guitar amp load boxes, even building my own before there was one on the market. I then purchased an Altair (which I still have) and a Scholz, and every other one that came on the market there for a while. They did the job, but there was always something missing from the sound. That was then and now is now, as the latest load boxes are a whole different animal, which brings us to the Two Notes Torpedo Live digital load box, the next generation of the device.

Actually I’m a bit late coming to the party on this one, as the Torpedo Live has been available for a few years. That said, it’s put back what was missing from the old boxes and then some, thanks to digital processing.

I was speaking to an old friend who works at a rather famous company that specializes in amplifier simulators, and he told me the formula for a good sounding amp model. “It’s all in the cabinet simulation,” he stated, and that’s exactly what the Torpedo Live gives you – not only models of 8 of the most widely used speaker cabinets, but 8 on the most used guitar amp mics in multiple positions and distances on the cab. Add in 8 different types of amp simulators and some EQ and you have an amplifier load box like no other.

What’s more, the Torpedo Live can also be further controlled by a very nice software interface via USB, and switched via MIDI. It has both balanced analog and digital outputs (with sample rates up to 96kHz) to connect directly to your DAW.

The Two Notes Torpedo Live goes for $995, and there’s a newer Torpedo Studio that adds more cabinets and effects for $1850.

If you’re a guitar player who loves his amp but needs the output level controlled, or wants to use a cranked amp in a home studio,this is for you. Check out the video below for more info or go to the website page.

New Music Gear Monday: Creation Labs MW1 Studio Tool Guitar DI

MW1 Studio ToolRecording guitars in the control room has become standard procedure during overdubs these days, but there always a hassle to it. Ground loops, amp noise during tuning, and not having the amp head close by to change the tone or input gain are minor inconveniences, to be sure, but inconveniences none the less. That’s what makes the Creation Labs MW1 Studio Tool so cool; it eliminates all those hassles at once plus adds a few extra features.

The MW1 Studio Tool is basically a DI on steroids in that it goes way beyond what a normal direct box does. Developed in conjunction with the excellent producer/engineer Michael Wagner, the 1U rack space unit is at heart a transformerless direct box with a few twists. First of all, it has front panel  1/4″instrument input jack coupled with a variable input impedance control that really changes the tonal character of the guitar a lot more than you might think (see the video below to hear how much). There’s also a 1/4″ tuner output jack along with a mute switch that mutes the throughput through the box but keeps the tuner output active for silent tuning.

Then the cool stuff really starts. The next section provides a control for the amp output with up to 30dB of gain along with an output impedance control to further tailor the tone going to the amplifier. There’s also a front panel 1/4″ output jack for this section that’s intended to be plugged into an amp.

The next section is the balanced mic level output level complete with a polarity control and signal indicator LED.

Recording both a guitar DI and amp signal simultaneously makes it a lot easier to edit a distorted guitar, but what if you want to reamp the clean direct signal later? The next section of the MW1 is dedicated to reamping with a balanced line input control that provides up to 36dB of attenuation coupled with an another output impedance control and a front panel 1/4″ output jack.

The rear panel duplicates the front panel 1/4″ inputs and outputs and holds XLRs for the the DI out and reamp input. There are also ground switches on the input and output as well as for the MW1 to help rid you life of those nasty ground loops.

The Creation Labs MW1 Studio Tool is one of the most versatile boxes out there and something you’ll use on every guitar overdub or during tracking. It’s not cheap at $795, but if it’s something that you’ll use a lot and will save you some time and eliminate even a hassle a day, it’s worth every penny. Creation Labs also offers a two week free trial.

Check out the video below that demonstrates how the MW1 works.

How The Fuzz Tone Was Born

Maestro Fuzz ToneIf you’re a guitar player, chances are you’re in love with the distorted sound that’s so easy to create these days, thanks to a variety of amps, pedals and plugins. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a time when guitar distortion didn’t exist, but believe it, there was a time when there was no such thing. In fact, the story about how the original “fuzz tone” was born takes a number of unusual twists that are pretty amazing for such a ubiquitous sound.

While the music world freely accepts that the first distorted guitar on record was the 1951 Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner hit “Rocket 88” where guitarist Willie Kizart reportedly poked a hole in his amp’s speaker to make it fuzz out, (later emulated by Link Wray on “Rumble” and Dave Davies of The Kinks on “You Really Got Me”), making that sound reliably repeatable came about as an accident in the summer of 1960 in Nashville.

Country star Marty Robbins was in Bradley Film & Recording Studios, in Nashville (the famous Quonset Hut) recording a ballad for Decca called “Don’t Worry.” Backing him was the A-Team, Nashville’s best session players, which included guitar player Grady Martin.

The Quonset Hut had just received a new custom-built console with Langevin 116 tube amplifiers, but unbeknownst to everyone involved, it contained 35 output transformers wound by another manufacturer while Langevin moved to the West Coast. The problem was that these transformers weren’t up to spec, and during the session one of them failed on Grady Martin’s six string bass channel, causing it to distort, but in a musical way that everyone on the session loved.

Word spread around Nashville about this interesting new sound, and people began to specifically ask for it, so Glenn Snoddy, the engineer on the session, built a box that emulated the sound of the console distortion – the first stompbox!

The big difference was that the Langevin module was tube-based, while Snoddy’s box was all transistor. It didn’t matter though, because studio guitarists loved it.

In 1962 Snoddy sold the manufacturing rights to Gibson, who then released the “Fuzz Tone” under its Maestro label. Dealers snapped up all 5,000 units produced in 1962, which was great for the company. The only problem was that guitar players refused to buy them. Reportedly, Gibson shipped only three Fuzz-Tones in ’63 and none in ’64.

So what changed their minds? In 1965 Rolling Stone Keith Richards used a Fuzz Tone (the model FZ-1) on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and the rest is history. From that point on, guitarists couldn’t get enough of the sound, which has evolved over time. While we each have our idea of a good and bad distortion, if you life is connected to the guitar, you can’t live without it.

Get the story directly from Glenn Snoddy on this video.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About A Gibson Les Paul

5 Things About A Les PaulIf you’re a guitar player you may own a Les Paul, and if you’re an engineer you probably have to record one from time to time. That’s a good enough reason to learn all you can about the instrument, so here’s a great video that points out 5 things you probably didn’t know about the instrument. Previously I posted something similar post about both a Strat and Tele that was so popular I thought I’d do the followup on a Les Paul.

One of the things that Philip McKnight talks about in the video is the pickup strength of the Les Paul and how the Burstbuckers supplied on current model aren’t as hot as everyone thinks. It turns out that high-output pickups generally don’t sound nearly as good as the quieter ones, regardless of the make or brand, and this is a perfect example.

That said, check out the 5 things that you should probably know about the instrument.

 

New Music Gear Monday: Pickatto Bluetooth Guitar Pick

Pickatto Bluetooth guitar pickJust about everything has a Bluetooth connection on it these days, but a guitar pick? If you’re curious what you might want with a connected pick, then it’s time to meet Pickatto, the brainchild of guitarist Michael Murawski.

Murawski found that while most guitar players have a pretty well-developed fret hand, their picking hand lagged behind. Pickatto and it’s accompanying software is a way to count the up and down strokes of the pick so you can improve your picking motion in a quantifiable way. The data is streamed to a custom smartphone app that allows you to set daily and weekly goals, and even measures the pressure of the your fingers on the pick. According to Pickatto, the secret to building speed and endurance in the picking hand comes from a relaxed hand. By measuring the pressure of the player on the pick, it’s possible to see when your hand is tensing up and squeezing too hard, which could ultimately lead to tendonitis or even the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome.

As far as its size, Pickatto is about the size of a heavy guitar pick at 34mm long and 25mm wide. It’s thicker than most at 2.8mm at the bottom picking end, while way thicker at the “wing” on top at 4.1mm. While this might not feel comfortable for performance, Pickatto is a device made for practice, so going from it’s larger size will probably make your normal pick feel a lot better, plus give you some added dexterity to boot.

Pickatto has launched an Indigogo crowd funding campaign to get the ball rolling, and the price for each unit there is only $50USD plus shipping, although there are plenty of other funding tiers available. Check out the company website and the video below that explains how Pickatto works. It’s time to get practicing again.

 

New Music Gear Monday: Yamaha TransAcoustic Guitar

Yamaha TransAcoustic guitarOK, this is pretty wild. What if you want to add some extra ambience to your acoustic guitar, but hate the idea of plugging into an amp or adding effects pedals. If that’s the case, then the Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar might be the thing for you.

The Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar lets you add reverb and chorus to the guitar sound, but incredibly uses no external amplification or processing to do so. The way it works is that an actuator installed on the inner surface of the guitar back vibrates in response to the vibrations of the strings. The vibrations of the actuator are then conveyed some DSP, then back to the body of the guitar and to the air in and around the guitar body, generating authentic reverb and chorus sounds from inside the body.

Three knobs let you adjust the degree of effect applied and as well as the volume level at the line out jack. There’s one control for Reverb (the reverb type automatically switches from Room to Hall at the 12 o’clock position), and another for Chorus, and finally an on/off – Line Out Volume Control called a TA Switch (for TransAcoustic, I guess). Pressing the TA Switch for more than 0.3 seconds activates the TA function. When a cable is connected to the line-out jack in the strap knob, the volume can be adjusted by rotating the TA knob.

The TransAcoustic guitar is pretty new so there’s not much info available on it yet, but you can find some here on the Yamaha Europe site. There’s also no U.S. price yet, but the European one is around $1,500.

New Music Gear Monday: Digitech Whammy Ricochet Pedal

Digitech Whammy-RicochetEvery songs wants a signature sound and as a result, we often spend days at a time in the studio searching for just the right one to put a stamp on a recording. The one cool thing is about some of the latest electronic plugins and pedals is that it’s getting easier and easier to dial up something that used to take long effects chains to get. A good example of simplicity, small package and great sound can be found in a new pedal, Digitech Whammy Ricochet.

The pedal can be used to provide whammy bar-like effects for those with guitars with stop tailpieces (or keyboards for that matter), or can be used to change the pitch as much as an octave up or down.

The Whammy Ricochet is based around the same technology as Digitech’s Whammy Pitch Shifter, only this comes in a mini-pedal package and uses a momentary switch instead of a full pedal.

Seven pitches are available – 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, Octave, Double Octave, and Octave+Dry – up or down, while shift and return knobs control the rate at which the pitch rises and falls. A series of trajectory LEDs provide a visual indication of pitch-shift direction and rate.

A true bypass latching footswitch mode is also available to maintain the selected pitch, and players have a choice of polyphonic Chords mode (from the Whammy DT) and glitchy Classic (from the original Whammy) tracking.

The Digitech Whammy Ricochet is available in May and June for a special introductory price of $187.44. Check out the details here and the example video below.