Monday, June 26, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Holy Grail part II
Or there's the recent re-release of the London (Ontario) Power Studio. This is pretty sweet, and built a short drive away. So it should be affordable, right?
Its a rackmount all tube head with proprietary Power Scaling, presumably better than master volume or attenuator for reducing volume and keeping tone. But what's really cool is that nearly every major design decision an amp builder might make is tweakable. Cathode bias? Flip a switch. How much negative feedback? Twist a dial. Tubes? Take your pick. These are the things that give different amps their character and you get to modify the tone with these choices not just the limited pallete of any one amp design.
But as you might have guessed, it don't come cheap.
This might just be the Holy Grail. One amp with four tubes configurable four ways (single ended, tubes 1&2 Class A, tubes 3&4 Class A/B, or all four) for two to thirty watts, plus pentode triode switching for more power options, without the necessity of a tone sucking attenuator, or worse master volume. There's a slew of preamp and boost settings, and it even has a send/return effects loop.
But British workmanship don't come cheap in this country, and for the price you might be better off with several application specific amps. Especially considering the elegance of simplicity in circuits, keeping tonal paths clean, and the ease of repairs.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Tycho just referenced Lady Sovereign's Ch-Ching. This had nothing to do with that. In fact I know so little about UK hip-hop I can't tell her apart from the Streets or Kano much less M.I.A. But since I first heard Ch-Ching on a podcast alongside The Drones "Shark Fin Blues" I thought it fitting to give it a mention.
Lyrically reminiscent of a Decemberists see shanty sung by a doomed mariner as the ship sinks and the sharks circle, but with that brilliant Aussie garage-rock sound. The lead singer gives off an immediate Bob Dylan impression but as the song builds up it gives way to Shane McGowan. Some people may think neither of those guys can sing. I'm not one of those people. But its that rhythm guitar that slays me. Check it out.
Friday, June 09, 2006
"Guitar Strings and Foolish Things"
A couple weeks back I tuned up my Tele. Cleaned up the fretboard with lem-oil and steel wool and replaced the strings. Here be the lesson: always find out what strings are on a guitar when you buy it. If you like 'em you can replace them identically and if not you know where not to begin the search.
I loved the tone I got from the old strings and the new D'Addario 10-46s did not match up. When they weren't buzzing they sounded tinny and nasal, but I thought I just needed a heavier gauge, and I was sure I had 10s originally, so I went to the fat bottom 10-52. How can they be thick and thin at the same time? Plinky leads and razzy low-end. At least they didn't buzz, but it felt like climbing a wall going from the thin G to the thick D, and they still sounded like crap.
So I email Capsule and Peter (the co-owner that spec'ed and assembled my Tele from choice parts to resemble a '62 Custom) got back to me in under five minutes, knowing exactly the guitar I asked about and informed me of the strings of choice: Ernie Ball Classic Pure Nickel .011s
From the Ernie, "In the early sixties I developed the first Custom Gauge guitar string sets for rock & roll. They were wound with pure nickel, producing a warm, rich sound. As rock entered the 1970's players wanted more brightness so Slinkys switched to a nickel plated steel winding. The 80's demanded even more cutting power, and we came out with a separate line of Slinky strings having a wrap of stainless steel. Now, many guitarists want to recapture that original pure nickel sound, so here is the Classic series original Slinky set"