A Blind Willie Johnson cover

I don’t think I have mentioned my YouTube channel on this blog. It is time. I recorded a couple covers of Blind Willie Johnson songs this week as my most recent contributions. In this video, I mention a really cool collection of covers that I supported on Kickstarter a few years back that was released just recently. Check it out with this song, the links I provide from it, and please know you are invited to also check out any of the songs I have recorded. (I also take requests from time to time, although there is a queue and it takes me time to learn songs I don’t already know…)

Guitar effects

Oh, yeah. I love guitar effects.

Any good guitar player will tell you that you have to start with a good instrument, learn good technique and tone, and have a quality amplifier. I agree. I also agree with those who say that the lion’s share of tone comes from one’s fingers. Once you have that foundation, though, it’s a blast to step on a little pedal and totally transform your clean, pretty sounds into a raging troop of screaming monkeys, fire-breathing helicopters, rude buzzsaws, and modulated head trips.

Here are some of my toys.

The pedals I include on the board changes regularly, and not all of my effects are pictured. Here are some notes on a few of the pedals and some favorite settings. For the settings, pretend all of the knobs are labeled 1-10.

Boss OC-2 Octave (octave 2: 3, direct: 4, octave 1: 6)

Morley PWA Wah(level: 4)

DOD FX 30-B Noise Gate/Loop. (release: 3, gate: 5, sensitivity: 9)

Boss AC-2 Acoustic Simulator (level: 9, body 4, top: 4, mode: enhance)

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive (level: 3, tone: 7, drive: 4.5)

Marshall ShredMaster (gain: 8, bass: 4, contour: 2, treble: 10, volume: 5)

Boss DS-1 Distortion (tone: 7, level: 3, distortion: 10) (I’m simulating a fuzz with this setting)

MXR Micro Amp (gain: 6) (I am using this to counteract signal loss since I have so many pedals. It works great.)

Boss BF-2 Flanger (manual: 5, depth: 9, rate: 5, res.: 2)

Boss PH-2 Super Phaser (rate: 6, depth: 9, res.: 2, mode: I)

Boss DM-2 Delay (rate: 6, echo: 4, intensity: 1)(This may be the best delay I have ever heard)

Boss CE-2 Chorus (rate: 4, depth: 8 )

Ibanez LF7 Lo-Fi Filter (drive: 5, lo cut: 8, hi cut: 2, level: 6, mode: guitar)(this does a great job of imitating the “cheap transistor amp” or megaphone sound, I really like it when used with other effects like my pseudo fuzz setting on the DS-1)

All settings listed are subject to change at my whim, but this is where I had them the day the pics were taken.

As you can see, I am partial to the Boss pedals. You can use ’em, abuse ’em, and they just keep working. Fact is, I haven’t had any trouble with any of my pedals, but they are all well built. I am a little skeptical of plastic pedals, even if they sound good, so all my pedals are in sturdy steel cases. The Marshall ShredMaster is probably my best deal–I found it at a pawn shop and only paid $15 for it, in near mint condition!! I’m also in love with the Boss DM-2 and SD-1.

I have a few more not pictured. If there is interest, I’ll post again on the topic and include them in the future.

My custom amplifier…yep, I built it myself

When I made my guitar post, I promised to put up a picture of my custom, home-built tube amp. Here you go! Details below.

The amp started as a kit from Allen Amps and I built it at the end of 1999. It has since undergone a small amount of modification. The valve complement includes one 5U4G rectifier, two 6L6GC power tubes, and two 12AX7s plus two 12AT7s in the preamp and reverb circuits. The sound comes from two 10 inch Jensen C10Q speakers.

I know the real question is “How does it sound?” Think of a vintage Fender Vibrolux, without the vibrato and with no normal channel. Then add the reverb circuit from the old Fender stand alone reverb head from the 1960s. Finally, modify the preamp slightly to give it a bit of the tweed 4×10 Bassman feel, and you will be pretty close. Oh, except this amp is quieter…there is still some hiss, but very little.

Words are cheap, though. Here are a few mp3s. Let me know what you think…they were recorded about 7 years ago and the recordings aren’t perfect, but they are good enough for you to catch the feel and tone of the amp, and that is what I was going for at the time. Note: these are all played with my Tele (the one that you saw in the other post) plugged straight into the amp with no outside effects. All I did was change the settings on the amp.

Typical setting 1

Typical setting 2

I Wish I Could Play Jazz

Blue Thang

Amazing Grace

Satisfaction Plus

And there’s one more, from a day when I was doing some recording and discovered there was about 3 minutes of tape left at the end of a project. Instead of wasting the tape, I decided to play around a little. This one has two tracks instead of just one.

The End of the Tape

I performed, recorded, and own the copyright for all of these clips, and I hearby release them into the wild with a Creative Commons license (by-nc-sa-3.0). Enjoy. If you use them for anything, I would love a “heads up.”

I love my guitars

I know there are some other players out there. Come on, let’s see some gear shots…

Included here: Guild D4 acoustic, Washburn Force 4 bass, Fender Telecaster, and a Squier Starfire IV. The Tele is my main axe.

Coming soon, a photo of my custom amp (that I built…).