Monday, December 26, 2011

Summer Projects

The weather has improved, so I've been outside again and working on three of my older guitars before progressing with restoration of the Hummingbird. Painting anything outside means that there's always the chance that dust and feathers can ruin your finish. 

I've lost count of the amount of times I've sanded back parts to polish out the little mistakes. For the Ibanez Bass and the Lagrange Strat I've used cheap spray paint, which is a little tricky to work with as it dries slowly and is a little more fluid than the paint I've used on the Kay SG copy. 

The Ibanez is being returned to it's factory colour (well.. shade...) and the Strat copy is painted in a nice surfesque "creation blue". The strat copy has had it's horns cut off, dents filled in and is part way through a conversion to a lap steel configuration. 

The Kay  SG copy was to be painted Surf Green, but the closest thing the local paint seller had was "Dark Calypso" which is a few shades darker than I wanted, but kind of cool in it's own right and looks nice coupled with cream headstock & pick guard.

The last couple of days have been raining and xmas lunch with the family interrupted work, but I'm hoping to have them all in playable condition by the time I return to the office in mid January. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 - Initial Pedal Reviews

I've got my hands on two pretty nifty pedals recently, I was a bit dubious of their claims, but it turns out they're quite pleasing to the ear.

The pedals I'm talking about are the Tech 21 VT Bass and the Boss BC-2 Combo Drive. I have been after a decent bass sound for years, but only play occasionally and have no desire for an amp. I've played around with a couple of VST plugins that emulate some well known bass amps, but have never really been satisfied with anything aside from the clean tones.

I'd been looking at a bunch of solutions for going direct, including the Digitech Bass Squeeze, as it has speaker modeling. Unfortunately I couldn't find one in store anywhere, so I never got it.

I'd been impressed by the Sansamp products in the past, so I decided to find out what was available these days. This is how I came across the VT Bass. Demos of the clean sound were scarce, but the reviews were glowing. I figured that if I found one at a reasonable price, it would be mine. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. As soon as I plugged it in, I was greeted by a thick warm sounding bass. I fiddled about with the settings card and got some nice tones, though all were dirty.

The sound that I was after was the sound of an Ampeg SVT fridge setup. Low and clean and huge.
Tech 21's pedal really delivers in this regard. I get what I want, without spending $4000 on an amp.
Sure it's not a magic box, but it gets me the tone that I want without much fuss or an eviction notice.

Since I have to do most of my guitar playing with headphones I have been messing around with direct solutions for years. The Digitech Bad Monkey is consistently the last item in the signal chain before the mixer.
I like the tone of the built in cabinet simulator. The only down side is that the bad monkey doesn't do clean, even on the lowest setting. I'd seen that the Boss BC-2 had just been released in Oz and was pretty cheap.
The demo video below sounded pretty good so I picked it up on a whim. Got it home and was able to mess with it for about an hour. Combined with the Bad Monkey it's quite dark sounding compared tot he sound in the video and as such it doesn't exactly sound like the Beatles, but it does a nice clean boost on one side and really heavy distortion on the other. The EQ is nice and makes up for the lack of bottom end in my Surfcaster.

My favourite setting was with the Treble on max, Bass at 75% and the "sound" at 25%. This allows for some grit when picking really hard or nice thick clean when playing gently. I even plugged  it into my Fender Princeton and found that there was something missing when switched off.

I hope to get some demos recorded soon, but my computer is in need of a rebuild as it's spitting the dummy every time I try to get some sound on disc. Meanwhile, check out the videos from Youtube.

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