I didn’t really manage to keep a good tour diary on this last European tour… call it lack of motivation, call it the ability to download and watch TONS of films from Netflix on my phone. Either way, I still feel the need to put something down before it ebbs from aging and already addled mind: at least to learn a few lessons. Yeah, we made some mistakes on this tour, but fuck it; it really was one of the most easy going tours I’ve ever done with a crew that managed 0% slacking and 100% laughter.
There’s no real need for tour stories here; we all had a good time with relatively few crazy adventures. Most of the tour stories would just be us talking about old cartoons or cult movies while imbibing lots of alcohol. So let’s try a list of errors we made and how to correct them.
More than a decade ago, I bought a really old NJ series B.C. Rich Warlock bass from my friend Lorraine. I think she was ready to ditch pointy bass guitars for something classier as she went on to play in some excellent bands like The Gault and Worm Ouroboros. It came with a weird whitish-sparkly body, lots of dings that I added to, and multiple failed drill holes for a thumb-rest. I treated it as a beater bass I could fly with if I took the neck off. Well, that lil’ beater looks like this today.
And it also belongs to my wife now. It’s practically brand new, but with a vintage pedigree. This was a classic NJ series Rich, with its serial number planting its birth somewhere in Nagoya, Japan during the early eighties. The NJ guitars were real quality, then. I decided to give it new life. The project took me almost seven years to complete. But it was worth it to give my wife an awesome Christmas present.
In a previous blog, like, a million years ago, I covered our construction of a loft in our jam spot. Well, since then, we’ve moved spots and were able to move the loft with us. That’s all fine and dandy, but after our group of hooded menaces were given some awesome guitars as part of our endorsement of ESP, we found our loft was not a convenient space for the mass of cases we’d acquired over the years. Hence, the addition of the guitar loft.
Now we have a convenient place to reach our cases without climbing a god-damned ladder and they’re off the floor so we can actually jam. With a couple strokes of luck, we put this up for the price of a few wood screws.
My boss Mauz’s Ampeg V-4 had cut out. It was very strange… one day he was at practice, and shit first started cutting in and out. Then it stopped making sound altogether. It still had power, which was the weirdest part. This beauty (one of my favorite amps of all time) had to be resurrected.
As I’d already fixed multiple problems on my own V-4B, which is almost exactly the same amp minus a reverb circuit, I was unafeered of delving into Mauz’s. I think he was more afraid than I was. Despite knowing it was in my successful-yet-amateurish hands, it was his baby. His mojo. His tone. He shouldn’t have been worried.
Here’s another one for the boss man himself, Mauz from Kicker / Dystopia. He got this amp years ago and it was his go to for a long time. The Kustom 150 was sold as combo amp, but this one had been freed from its moorings and placed into what amounted to a cardboard box. Mauz had a new box built for it by our shop neighbor Chris. It looked nice now, but little did Mauz realize, this amp COULD KILL HIM.
This oldie-but-a-goodie was wired with a two-prong plug, as was the standard for all electronics before people stopped being idiots. That’s fine for a toaster. But when you have a guitar in your hands, you become part of the circuit. Without a connection to to actual earth, a.k.a. common ground, any AC electricity accidentally loosed onto the amp’s chassis will only find you. Zap.
I have detailed my previous pedal board project before. It was nice, quaint, and worked. Now onto the sequel, which needed to be bigger, badder, and grittier. Like The Dark Knight, but with better monster voice.
I needed more. Specifically, I needed more room. I’ve actually decreased the number of pedals I use, but added some junk like a wireless system, an iPod controller, and a DI. I also wanted a box that wasn’t just set aside, but that was part of the package.
I’ve been posting pretty sporadically this year. I’ve been working hard on projects for the band and such, but the muse to write and an actual electronic work station have been missing since the wife and I found ourselves together in a single bedroom apartment. Oh yeah, and I work a lot, funneling most of my paycheck to pay off debt. Funny how life gets in the way of, you know, this self-aggrandizing bullshit.
Well, last night I found myself on the floor of our rehearsal space, trying not to lose screws in the carpet and diagnosing bandmates’ broken gear. Sean managed to fry out the zener projection diode in his just-acquired DigiTech Black-13 pedal by plugging in the wrong voltage. Ben’s B-52 Stealth Series ST-100A had some bad power tubes. It’s all stuff that’s very important to fix, but not very interesting to write a post on. So, I thought maybe it’s a good time to stop exulting myself. Instead, I’ll let others do that by showing off their work that some of my posts helped along. Altruistic to the end.
So you think you’re analog, eh? You always use physical faders for your volume swells, you only record to tape, and you have that nifty vibrato guitar pedal with a BBD IC chip. I call bullshit. That’s not analog enough! An IC chip? Well, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, but no arigato. If you want that pedal to be even more analog, you need to send your guitar signal through an aluminum disc covered in oil to rubber pickups. WTF? Here’s one of the biggest stomp boxes you’re likely to ever see, the Tel-Ray Morley RWV Rotating Wah.
Raymond Lubow invented the oil can echo in the 1960s for his company, Tel-Ray Electronics, to be a more reliable device than the tape-based echoes of the time. Smaller than a tape echo, it was also able to be added by amplifier manufacturers to their products. It uses an aluminum disc rotating in an electrostatic oil which brushes against conductive rubber pickups to carry the sound. Raymond used the same technology to create the Morley rotating speaker simulator and shove it into a pedal. The name was a pun on the Leslie (less-lee) rotating cabinet speaker. Thus a company was born and we all got ever-so confused. Now imagine you have a broken one. Fuck.