Welcome to the first installment, fellow tech-o-philes.
In the following musings we
delve into the technical side of this band. We'll look
at three main areas: how we
write songs using the internet, technical stuff on our
recording sessions, and my live guitar rig
details for all you gearheads.
Feel free to ask questions and we'll post responses here
as we get them.
Song Writing System
Our band is stretched across the USA these days with
guys in California, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky,
and Georgia. We get together
for our recording, arranging and rehearsing sessions in
the Atlanta area. In order to prepare for these
we usually write our material ahead, so the challenge is how to collaborate
when we can't exactly go sit
on each other's front porch. We use the Internet, our
web site, mp3's and small
digital recorders to get this trick accomplished.
Our cyber "porch"
is a password protected depot page on this website that
allows us to post our song ideas as mp3 files.
Dwight and I have Boss BR-532
recorders that we lay our musical idea tracks on and we
convert these to the mp3's. We
use a rather low rate of conversion that results in
poor quality - but it keeps the file size down
since some of the band are still
on dial-up connections and we need to keep the
track's file size under 1 MB.
The quality is okay because we are just trying to
get across our ideas. The Boss
units are very good for making demo's and we also use
them other ways - see the recording section.
We can lay down guitar, bass, a drum track with the
internal drum machine, and some pilot vocals.
Michael, who writes the lyrics, gets these tracks
and puts lyrics to them,
sometimes recording them through a direct mic into the
computer (he's on a Mac) and
sending them back. When we get together, we work out the
arrangement with Ralph and Willi adding in their
ideas. Harmonies, bridges and
general mayhem are created when we work the songs out.
We're currently laying down tracks and mixing our
upcoming release at Jim
Boling's studio in North Atlanta. Jim uses Sonar as his
primary weapon of choice,
although he uses so many other tools even I can't keep
We laid down the drums on his house set with Willi's
snare, and lined in Dwight's Warwick bass. The
keys were on a direct midi in
and run through some kinds of interface (I'm not a midi
guy, I'm a guitar player, can't you tell) using
some really fabulous samples
of various organs, grand pianos, horns, etc. Jim is
really great with this stuff.
He's an excellent musician, arranger, and engineer and
we are very fortunate to have
him on the band's "Present At The Creation" project.
The acoustic guitars were mostly run direct, using my
Ibanez acoustic and Ralph on a
Takamine I think. I later laid down another acoustic
track with my Alvarez
using his booth. It has a very smooth sound.
Electric guitars were also run direct using a
connection straight into the
Yamaha board he was using.
I used my pedalboard, relying mostly on my Visual Studio
Jekyll and Hyde overdrive for
adding in the right amount of dirt. Jim
ran these through a combination of mixer
front-end models and amp farm
modules. He's able to take already recorded tracks and
change the amp, effects, and even add a whammy where we want it.
The BBE Maximizer plug-in's he
uses are excellent.
Guitars for the electric tracks were my Stratocaster
with Lace Holy Grail pickups
on it and a cheapo Squire Tele that is
just a great guitar - they are making some good
guitars in Indonesia. We recorded the lead to"Oilman"
with the Tele, running it
directly through the Boss recorder and it was just an
awesome sound. Jim cleaned up
some noise and artifacts left by the unit. It was a
surprise to all of us how good
Live Guitar Rig Stuff
Like most players, I'm pretty anal about my rig. It's
always in flux, searching for
better tone. I have about nine guitars and three amps
and more pedals than I can
Currently, I'm back using
my trusty Mexican Strat as
my main guitar. It was set up by a guitar tech in
Houston before I left for
Florida and is really right now.
The Holy Grails are great pickups - very close to the
original Strat sound, with
none of the hum. They are also
a bit stronger. The key with these seems to be getting
them balanced and away from the strings a bit
more that regular Strat
pickups. The guitar gets back
its musical voice then.
I'm also using the Tele (best sounding cheap guitar
in the world) but it has a marked decrease in
volume. My other main guitar is a truly wonderful black
Les Paul DC Standard. It's
almost too powerful - I may lower the pickups on this
The other guitars that I use regularly are my Ibanez
acoustic, a Danelectro DC-12
string that is great fun, and Slivertone SG copy that I
have setup for slide and tuned in open D. I also
find myself playing the
Alvarez "beach guitar"
more and more. It's got a very nice tone and the
neck is very comfortable.
For amps I'm using a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL401 small
combo. The unit really sings -
4 EL84's are the best for my money. I've also got a
Fender Stage 100 DSP with
extension cabinet that really rocks. My back appreciates
the lightness of this amp. It's very good,
considering it's solid state.
I'd like to use the two together and see how that sounds
- the great Fender clean tones with the Marshall drive combined.
For pedals, you never can tell, but right now the chain
goes like this:
Guitar - Crybaby wah - Boss TU-2 tuner - Guyatone VT-3
Tremolo - Guyatone ST-2
Compressor - Boss CE-2 chorus - Ibanez TS-9 Tube
Screamer - Boss DS-1
distortion - and an older Electro Harmonix Electric
Mistress flanger. I
particularly like the CE-2 and the Electric Mistress,
and of course the TS-9. My
Jekyll and Hyde is at Visual Sound for repair. The TS-9
and DS-1 are taking its place.
Well, that's it for now. If you have questions, input or
your own ramblings, send the
to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post them and