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Amplifiers

Fender Vibro Champ  Vox Valvetronix VT50

What makes an electric guitar so much fun?  Well, first, I think would be amps.

I never really got carried away with buying amps and I think that's good or they'd be living in my cardboard box with me.  Too expensive. But over the years I've had a few and now I'm down to two.

The first amp my brother and I shared was a black Roland Spirit 10.  I remember the font was orange.  Then I remember having a Gorilla amp.  Geeze that was a long time ago.  I don't know if they're even still in business.

After one of the guys in my very first band, he left behind a Fender Vibro Champ amp. I claimed it.  That was my amp for practicing and recording and recorded with it all the way until 2009.  The amp still sounds great and I always wished they'd make a big combo amp with just Bass and Treble and that's it.  I looked at it again this morning.

Somehow my brother acquired a Fender Super Twin (no reverb) and man, that thing was loud. I'm sure it still is but I haven't played through it in years.  Once my brother stopped playing so much, I eventually made it my main amp and used that religiously from 1993 to about 1999.  It was so heavy.  The wheels helped but not so much going up and down stairs.

After deciding not to hurry back problems, I bought my own Fender Hot Rod Deluxe.  That was a good amp.  Some of the LEDs didn't last more than a month but it finally died about 12 years later, just as I was rounding out my bar band days. 

To replace it, I ended up getting a VOX Valvetronic amp; the 50 watt one so I could use the Line Out with the Talkbox.  I used it for a couple of times for the full band gigs and then a couple of times just for the two-man thing and then I got a SansAmp so I just go right into the board.  The Vox is a fine amp even though I'm not crazy how it distorts on its own - it has some weird compression going on.  Going clean and using pedals is fine though.  Even its onboard effects are good, especially the Phaser.

Other amplifiers I used to play through.

Roland Spirit 10  Les Paul Junior and Fender Super Twin  Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

Effect Pedals/Rack Units

What goes great in between the electric guitar and its amp?  That's right, effects.

At the beginning of learning, my brother was playing guitar too and he had a few effects before I started buying my own (he was older and had a job first).  For some reason I remember having a distortion pedal before having a tuner.  The name Arion sticks out.  Also I remember there being a Korg Flanger around.  Having a Flanger, in hindsight, isn't a very good choice for a second pedal. I don't know if by brother traded that Arion Distortion for our first BOSS pedal (DS-1, of course) or where that went.  I could probably just ask him.  If that DS-1 didn't just die a couple of years ago, it'd be the longest owned pedal.  I went out and replaced it with a new DS-1.

One of my favourites, is a Maestro Phaser.  I remember my brother getting it off one of his friends but I wonder where his friend got it.  It may be noisy, and it may dull the original signal, but it is my all-time favourite phaser.  And it says Balls on it which is still quite funny when you're 13.  My brother did bring home a Maestro PS1 but he had to give it back.

It would make sense that a wah wah would be the next pedal we got.  Pretty sure it was a Dunlop CryBaby.  I think I've bought over 10 wahs over the years and it's not because I collect them.  I don't.  If they weren't so shit, I'd only have one.  Wahs are fun.  You can always tell when someone gets their first wah - all the solos are wah solos.

Now for the first rack mount effect unit, my brother got an Ibanez DM1000 digital delay.  Reason I mention it is because I still have the thing.  That used to be the reverb for the Fender Super twin but if the Delay got hot, it would stop working.  That would suck in the middle of a song.  But the thing had choursing and flanging (you could get that House Burning Down flange from it) and delays.  I've recorded with it from time to time but only in short bursts.

My brother must've moved out by now since the only effects I can remember after a wah would be ones that I bought.

I ended up getting an Alesis Quadraverb.  A friend of mine brought it over and it was one of those things where I'm still "borrowing" it.  Still works too but I don't use it much.  The reason I used to use it was for the stereo leslie effect which was right on.  No pitch shifting but plenty of reverbs.  That was it for a long time, until I wound up with an analog delay pedal.  I can't remember the make but I remember that I had to put it before the distortion pedal so you could hear the repeats.

Around the same time, I just got a new job and a new band (that paid) so here's where the effect timeline gets interesting.

The first of many pedals after my new found windfall would have been the BOSS DD3.  I threw out that other analog delay in a hurry after buying that.  I probably got hosed on another wah wah and my brother lent me his Morley Fuzz Wah for a bit, which was OK but I just hated how you had to turn it off and on.  My brother would lend me his Marshall DriveMaster, which wasn't too bad but it didn't have enough gain so I went back to the DS-1. 

I love an Octave.  I never thought I'd use it as much as I do.  It's a Riff Maker for sure.

After that, I picked up a BOSS AutoWah.  That thing is pretty neat.  After hearing Fleetwood Mac's The City, I knew I had to have one.

The best $200 I ever spent came in 2001 when I got my Heil Talkbox.  I think I was the only guy in tow at that point to use one regularly.  It certainly turns heads.  You could have an ignorant bar full of people talking to each other but once they heard the talk box, it was all eyes on the band.  I try and use it on one song per CD but sometimes I don't. 

The shittiest pedal I ever bought was a Danelectro wah that looked like a car. I thought that'd be pretty neat.  Actually it would have been if it wasn't made out of plastic.  It broke in mid song at gig.

I got a Vox Wah finally; the Clyde McCoy one. I like Voxes better than Dunlops but it's still a wah and I'm on my second one.

I finally got a BOSS Compressor but I used that more in the effect loop than on guitar.  It's OK, I still have it but I don't use it much anymore. 

I searched all over for a Harmonist pedal and finally got one.  It's OK, actually.  Good for Prince guitar solos.  But is that pedal ever hard on a batteries.  It wouldn't last a whole night on a fresh battery.

I thought of retiring the Maestro from the bars so I bought a Dunlop RotoVibe.  What a great pedal. I totally love it.  I still use it a lot when I'm recording.  At full depth it's really nice and even with the depth rolled off and the speed is up, it sounds great on a Les Paul's toggle switch middle position - it's almost Jimmy Page-ish.

Then after that, it was a little while before I bought another pedal.  I'm sure I bought a new wah sometime in between all the other pedals.

Oh, and a Tuner finally.  I don't know why I waited so long to get a pedal tuner.

I ended up getting a Line 6 Roto Machine, and let me tell you, that is the closest thing I've heard to an actual leslie cabinet.  Plug it in and the sound is there. Sounds much better in direct than through an amp.  Also, another one that's hard on batteries but I record with it quite a bit.

Around the same time, I picked up a pedal that would change my life: a SansAmp Tri something.  Since I bought it 2010, I never recorded another amp with a microphone.  Whether it's the gain on the pedal, or running it clean and using the BOSS pedals, the thing is great.  So much that I stopped taking out an amplifier and going straight into the board. 

Since I started doing the two-man thing, and not playing with distortion, I needed to buy a few more things to change it up.  First I got the Acoustic Simulator pedal and you know what?  It sounds like an acoustic plugged into a PA.  Perfect.  I like it anyways. 

Then I bought my first Chrous pedal (BOSS Super Chorus) and I got a BOSS Super Phaser as a gift.  The Super Chorus is OK, and on a clean sound, it almost sounds like the Line 6 pedal.  The phaser I wanted out of curiosity. It doesn't sound anything like the Maestro but it still sounds good.  I don't take the phaser out to gigs though. And going back to Choruses, I picked up a Roland Super Chorus rack unit for $100.  Being able to mute the direct signal is pretty neat.  I use it on the Effects Send on the Tascam 2488 too.

And this current year, I've been getting stupid with pedals but I should be all done and I have everything to cover all bases.  After not really liking the Compressor, I went with a Bass Limiter/Enhancer to replace it on gigs.  My levels are fine, I just don't want to be loud in spots.  Anyways, that's a good pedal even though it gets a bit noisy when using the Enhance knob.  I used it on all the bass tracks on the last CD. 

Also, I was hoping to replace the SansAmp since they're not cheap, and I'm not really playing at the highest quality of places.  I thought the BOSS Fender pedals would do it since they use the COSM (amp modeling).  I accidentally bought the Fender Reverb pedal.  It's not bad though; it sounds exactly like reverb.  The Fender Deluxe pedal I didn't like at all.  It won't be replacing my SansAmp.  It won't even be replacing my distortion pedal.  It just replaced an empty space on a shelf.

And lastly, I picked up a BOSS Overdrive/Distortion pedal that I like.  That's all over the new CD. I hate to say it but the DS1 distortion is better.  I thought it'd be identical on the OS2 pedal but it's not but I really love the pedal.  

Effects are a lot of fun.

Boss DS-1

Maestro Phaser

Ibanez DM-1000

Alesis Quadraverb

BOSS DD-3 

Boss Octave Boss AutoWah

Heil Talkbox

BOSS HArmonist 

Dunlop Rotovibe 

Line 6 Roto MAchine

Sans Amp

BOSS Super Chorus BOSS SUper Phaser BOSS Acoustic Simulator BOSS Fender Reverb BOSS Super Overdrive BOSS Super Chours rack

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Recording Machines

Tascam 2488 

I started out like most people with using a 4-track.  For years and years I've used a 4-track.  When I first started the website, I was recording on a 4-track.  It's only in the last few years that I've been using the Tascam 2488.  That thing changed my life.  Having more than 7 instruments on one song was ground breaking.  At first I fell into old 4-track habits but I'm still learning.  One habit that will never change is that the songs are played through once - no punching in and out.  That's for sissies.

Other recording machines I've used

Tascam Porta5 Tascam PortaStudio414 Tascam PortaStudio 424

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Microphones

Tascam stereo mic  MXL Ribbon mic

For years and years, all I'd use for recording was a no-name skinny condenser mic that ran off a AA battery.  When I got the 2488 I had to use the XLR inputs.  I didn't have but I wanted to.

The first mic I picked up was an MXL condenser that had the three angles and a bass roll off.  I figure $200 is a good price for a middle of the road condenser.

Then I started getting mic crazy but that's Musician Friend's fault with their Stupid Deal of the Day thing.  Because of Musician's Friend, I ended up getting a ribbon mic which I either don't really care for or I haven't found a good use for it.  I'll go with the later.  And I think that came with a regular skinny condenser mic because one day I was cleaning my place and I found a mic case with that inside it.  That one is good for acoustics.

My favourite mic is, again thanks to Musician's Friend, a Tascam stereo mic.  Man, I love that thing. I used it on every tambourine track since and I've used it a lot on the last CD for the acoustics.  I even used it on some vocals.  That's why it's my favourite, I can use it on anything.

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Drums

Roland Drums

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to learn how to play drums.  I even had a Muppet Drum set.  I am glad I leaned towards the guitar but I always listened and listen to drummers.

For recording I used to use a Korg S3 for all my drum tracks since 1994. Before that I had a Roland Super Drums that, again, I "borrowed"

In 2010, I picked up a kit of Roland V Drums and taught myself, actually still am teaching myself, how to play the drums.  One of the best things I've ever done in my entire life. it changed everything: sound, the songs, and I don't get winded going up stairs anymore.  A real life saver those drums are.

What I used to use recording

Korg Super Drums Korg S3 Alesis drum machine

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