Monday, 27 February 2012

Pedal Porn

Here they all are in their fully working glory, joined by the new RC-300 looping station, which even though I've only had 10 mins to play with it today as I frantically catch up with things after a night talking to God, Ralph and Huey on the big white telephone (dicky tummy). Its much much easer to use than my Jamman for more complex for now the Jamman stays for some things but will probably be on the way out. I never did managed to sync things 100% of the time on it, the RC-300 fixes problems like that.

Still a few untidy wires, especially into the Adrenalinn which needs some right angled cables but thats an easy fix.

Quite pleaed with this now, I can pretty much do any kind of effect I want, or just use the standard toys on the Zoom's to play with. The trick now is to find my own tone that I can call my own...should be fun.

I'll try and have a proper play with the new looper arrangment this weekend and see if I can come up with something worth a video.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Things lasted forever when I were a lad

My nice bendy springy studio mic stand which pivots all over the place, broke this morning, snapped at the base so it can't be repaired it wasn't even being used in anger just moved out of the way of the screen.

Dammit, I've only had it 5 cost 80quid and it falls apart after 5 months...thats madness, it wasn't even as if it was getting full pro usage. I've sent a snotty mail to the seller, who is a shop specialising in mics and stands on ebay so hopefully I'll get a refund or replacement under sale of goods act or something but I'm not happy about that. Things you pay decent (I know there are much more expensive mic stands but that was far from being cheap) money for should last a life time or a couple of years at least...5 months!!!!!

Rant over...back to working on tomorrow's lecture.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Last Day to clean up.

Well technically yesterday was the last holiday day, this is just the weekend..And Sunday I need to prep for work, so this is my last day to muck about and do...shit!!

In this case re-arranging my pedals and amps and putting the newcomers into place.
The AD3 just for fun does not have a flat bottom (????) to allow it to be velcro'd so its sat in place rather than fixed, and of course the Behinger board won't fit but it looks ok up front.
Last thing to go in place is my new RC-300 loop station which will sit next to the FCB1010

The AD3 now sits last in the chain, which is fine since putting it into tuning mode puts it into bypass when I don't want to use it, though it does sadly make the drum triggers on the 1010 board and the programmed drum beats, go silent...think its a bug, I will see if I can find another bypass system that will let me keep the drums on the pedal...should be possible!
Though I don't mind putting it into an amp mod mode and straight into its fine, its' only an issue if I want to then feed the signal into an amp, which I do less and less, preffering the Amps to be a cleaner signal which is why the Dunlop Crybaby is exclusive to the Marshall.
I'll need to get a couple of right angle 2ft patch cables to tidy up the cables but plugged in it all works a treat and has nice shiny lights that glow in the dark..oohh!!

Its sad that the new pedal fetish is starting to out grow the original board, but it still manages to keep everything tidy and accessable...I think I'm pretty much done with pedals now, I hae distortion, flangers, phazes, delays and loops of course so pretty much everything is covered, the only problem area is a drum machine since the ADIII really does not want to play nice with drums, but not going to worry about that, I can create MIDI files on Hydrogen, play them on my Millenium budget e-drums from the PC or Ipod/pad if I really need to get drums sorted....So I think I'm done.

The Youtube vid went out of sync a bit towards the end then came back so I need to adjust that, but overall am quite happy with the quality of it for a webcam its very good indeed, experimentation and a few more tests will find a perfect balance I'm sure, not that I expect to post much on youtube, but we'll see.

I think now that the skill levels have improved to the level I can actually play a few tunes right through its time to get on with making some music of my own. I like loop pedals and now I have 3 of them with 5 tracks (and 6 if I really pushed it by using the G-dec) I think its time to see what I can do with them..Blues does not really work for looping, but I quite like ambient dance/trace stuff, so maybe will have a play with that...or not ;)


Friday, 24 February 2012

It works..I think

My 1st ever "music" video.

It was a major pain getting this to record video and audio...The Mac would see the camera and make movies, but not get audio...I tried using editing packes to sync the audio but it never worked. So decided to put the camera in the PC..great...only now sound since it goes into the Mac...ermmmm

So..this is the Mac playing the backing track in Garage band, processing my guitar then sending the sound to the PC which did allow me to select the input for Audio from my new Sound card (well worth the 40quid just for that) and voila..

I think the sound is synced ok, I was expecting huge lag but it seems to be pretty much on the button.

So there it is my 1st ever performance video..its just a test so I'm not worried about the many mistakes, I'lll try to do more vids in future.

Oh and yes I do have an expression when I play...if you watch the eyebrows carefully they do move up and down sometimes...not in time to the music though!!


Thursday, 23 February 2012

1st results.

I did find a backing track for Albert Kings Can't you see what your doing to me...not sure its going to be able to stay online since its very much Alberts record just with the guitar removed but we'll see. Copyright lawyers can be a bit of a pain even when paying tribute to great artists.
I wisely chose to let him sing this ;) I just did the guitar as close as I could get to his style....which musically is lightyears away but I am getting a bit closer.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Musical Differencse

We lost our lead guitarist Martin, for our band (provisionally called We're still Shit). Which is a shame, as he's really brilliant, but was not enjoying the slower style of music we were doing, though we had a few faster numbers in the practice pipeline... I'd noticed his frustration the last couple of practice sessions he was not at all into it, and redoing things 10 times when you're not enjoying it can't be fun...a bit like having to play never ending Bryan Adams its not Heaven..its hell!!

That means I have to take on lead duties for a while until we find a new lead guitarist...if we find a new lead guitarist ...gulp.

I think this may be the start of a fragmentation among the group though, we're not really getting together often enough and not all sharing the same musical tastes so our compromise style is not suiting some people if they are away from their preferences too long. As happened with Martin, he much prefers heavy rockier/punky stuff to the slower blues/pop stuff we've started practicing.

I did actually manage to get my head round Foo Fighers Monkey Wrench, but we never got a chance to play it with him

Oh well...musical differences are real after all, and its not just a case of someone having a strop and walking off.
I wonder who's next...I have my suspicions...we'll see.

For now, time to find a Lead Guitarist.

We are having a mini practice this week, probably just 3 of us, Britta the singer, Ed on bass and me, if it goes well I will try to record something and see how we sound...if it goes this space till we get something good enough to post.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Practice makes perfect.

Been noodling around in Bina's absence, she's been off watching the northernlights in Iceland (she managed to see them last night..she's dead chuffed) but no recordings as the works.

Got much better at a few classic numbers, Hey Joe, and even most of the rythym parts of Purple haze. A bit of All along the Watch well as some quite passible Cold Shot from SRV. Topping it all off with the rather tasty Tito and Tarantulas After Dark grooving...for those not it the know, its the music played during the sexiest dance scene with snakes and beer ever put to film..points if you know what film?
I'm hoping to get a recording of Hey Joe, Albert Kings, Can't you see what your doing to me (great Bass line) and maybe Howlin Wolf's Red Rooster done this week.

Probably will only manage one but we'll see. I dont' really have proper drums for Can't and Rooster, but got a backing track for Joe so that'll be the easiest to try.

I spent quite a lot of time messing about with my ADIII trying to get a MIDI contoller to play its drums...I was thinking if I could program a few drum patterns and then get the ADIII to play them it might even be possible to carry those MIDI patterns on an Ipod and voila, stand in drummer for practicing band numbers or filling in when he's not there.
But man what a can of worms, the only drum package I came close to working out is Open source Hydrogen (which I did stupidly buy from an ebay seller...oh well) But it "saves" a midi file it does not output on playback.

So began several frustrating days hunting and demo'ing packages reccomended to me by more musical software minded friends.

They had to be having a laugh, these things are so complex you practically need a degree to use them. Even getting a simple drum track on some packages was an effort in menu hunting and random button presses...

I needed something simple and easy and intuative, it seems it does not exisit, so maybe, I'll write one someday...

In theory though I can save MIDI from Hydrogen and play it back on my Ipod fitted with IrigMIDI through FL Studio lest I hope so cos I certainly couldn't do anything else with FL Studio mobile, its just as complex as its PC version!!

I think the ADIII is also not really a MIDI friendly bit of kit..though you can trigger individial drums, as I do on my contoller pedal board, all I managed to do with multiple packages was sync a a lost cause.

Life is too damn short to give a damn about it...I'll just use the patterns that are in there, even if they get a bit repetative (why no fill button??). I'll kidnap Robbie the Drummer and stuff him in the cupboard till needed...a few fish heads tossed in from time to time should be all he needs.

Oh and in other news...the Satellite dish is broken..Wind pulled the main brick it was fixed to out ot place I tried to fix it but the LNB clap has snapped and its out of alignment...Tried to buy a new clamp but could not, so buying a new LBN. Fortunately not an expensive item...should be here in a few days..I'll need to get a willing helper to shout out at me if the thing is getting a signal before I tighten it all up again.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

please make it stop

I had a break, frankly marking is making me google eyed and my fingers were getting soft from the lack of guitar playing, and since we have band practice tomorrow and...oh I can't think of any more excuses...I needed to twiddle with my new pedal

It really is neat, many of the settings are pretty tradional tone based fx, all very nice and really clean, but its the Sequencer fx and ryhthm based stuff that makes the ADIII stand out, here's something I was messing about with to see what the difference is with short, sustained chords and single notes..I found if I kept a bass note going as I was strumming or picking notes I got the most amazing groove going...
I recorded it.
The drums are the machine of course which locks down the beat, but the rest of it is one guitar playing a few chords and single note lines while maintaning a base note rhythm..its brill, I need to work out how to expand this into a song. I even played some blues licks over it at one point and it sounded good, so maybe some trippy blues this space during next weeks Bina's in Iceland so Brian's going to record in his underwear week.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

While the girls are watching Emmerdale

I had a tinker with my new toy.

Bloody hell


Can't wait till next week when I have some real time.


Real pain is....

Having new toys to play with but absolutely no time to play with them.

The Adrenalinn III FX/Drum pedal and FCB 1010 midi board arrived today, incredible service as always from pretty much next day delivery.

I can't really use the midi board anyway, though its perfectly possible to program it and do all kinds of things to make it work with the AdrenalinnIII, I bought a special PROM from the US which automatically programs it to work with the ADIII as a dedicated board (I have no other midi kit so might as well). I'll hold off on playing with that till the PROM arrives and is fitted, no sense in learning stuff only to end up not using it in the end.

If I can finish the marking in the next day or 2, I will finally have a whole week of free time (aside from my Didactics resit) next week for Spring(????) holiday, when I plan to do a monster recording session or 2 and get to know my new toy.

Anyway...I plugged it it to try it out and the drums sound amazing..I'll restrict myself to that for now...back to marking.


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Getting the groove right

I've been toying with drums for a while, I own a very basic electronic drum kit but its not great for learning on and lets face it I have no real sense of rythm so I've been using it more for patterns and occasional high hats. I like my Cahjon a lot really need to get into that more. But I need a drummer who can play some groves for me and let me noodle along. Backing tracks and in built rythms on my pedals work ok but your kind of fixed into the 1 groove for ever or can only play as long as the track lets you.
When I want to play something I like, especially old blues songs, getting that ch ch ch ting/boom rythmn which then changes as it build ups mid way and speeds and up slows down as the mood changes, is not always easy to find, or indeed control without stopping playind and clicking on computers or something else, losing the groove.

I assumed there would be loads of guitarist drum machines on the market but it turns out there are very few and almost all adhere to the standard 3/4 4/4 rock/latin/samba type of offerings...I want something more flexible, something I can control, preferably set up on a PC and switch on and off , build up, slow down and change the grove with my feet while I play.

There are VERY few things on the market that do that...shock!

The closest is this

Which is impressive though it needs some extra pedals and software to get the best out of it.

Needless to say I'm going to try it out.

Lets hope it does the job or I may have to hire a drummer by the hour to live in thestore cupboard.


Thursday, 9 February 2012


Marking marking so much of it.

Though have tried to make a point of only doing it during working hours or when I have nothing else to do, so it does not take over my life...As always the best laid plans didn't quite work out as expected, a lot of the assignments needed careful review and reading which when you're dealing with code is a lot of reading.. Fortunatly I have one of those memories where if I see something I can recall if I've seen it before...but not always where.

Probably going to be another week, and as usual I've got people screaming that some things need to be prioritised, breaking my pattern of working on 1 thing at a time...but hey ho. I've got a big chunk of time today so might get the 1st load of IGD's finished and then do some emergency AGT's sorted out (they need the grade to be able to do other things)

Took time off a couple of evenings this week though, on Tuesday I went to the Speeltuin cafe (the play ground) which is famous for its jam sessions on Tuesday nights, you turn up, get on stage and play, basic kit is available though it seems the dedicated bring their own kit.

I almost get up with my guitar playing collegue Oliver to do a bit of blues but the stage got overtaken by a bunch of regulars who almost certainly play as a band and hogged the stage most of the night...Very good though, they played really well and way above my standard so I wasn't tempted to muscle in at any point, though Oliver joined in a few times quite impressively desptite bemoaning the quality of the guitar on offer.

Also last night, Wednesday, was the Breda Ex pats quiz night, which is a semi regular english quiz, run by the Ex pats society. My team, the Bald and the Beautiful, have won every one so far, and last night was no exception, 5 in a row.

Exciting as it is to win, its starting to get a bit much now so I think we're going to stand down for a while to give the other teams an incentive to keep coming. There was a low turnout last night due to weather and other things and we don't want to be responsible for putting people off....5 in a row though :)

Off to the docs in an hour to see about my cough, its now 7 weeks, its not as bad as it was, but its still there and it needs to be sorted out.

Then another chunk of marking and a quiet night in.



Thursday, 2 February 2012

There's no end to it.

Not the Marking, that will end eventually, if I live that long. But the constant meetings that seem to get crammed into this week, the only real week when I have no student activity, which leaves scant time left for marking and course prep.

But as I sit waiting to go into another meeting, I though I'd check out my train fares to Nantes/Saintes in July for my guitar course. Took a little bit of doing but eventually I got it sorted out. 135 euros and 6 or so hours, not bad, certainly cheaper and faster than the car, once you factor in the cost of fuel and tolls, with the added advantage of being able to read/snooze on the train.
What was even more surprising was that if I go 1st class, its cheaper!!!!!! 6 whole euro's cheaper...didn't expect that. Good for NS Trein, Fyra and TGV, whats more its only 3 trains to travel quite some 670km :D

Can't actually book it yet since it seems they only have a 3 month advance booking option, but good to know that the train can take the strain without killing my wallet.