Posts in guitar
oh, what a difference...

if you take away only one thing from this post, make it this: if you care about your tone you owe it to yourself to check out


last week i took on replacing the cheap pots and caps that came in my telecaster with NOS military parts as the next step in my endless journey toward the ultimate tone.  i thought i’d post a little reivew and hopefully stear some of you out there to do the same.

pots and caps can vary greatly in price from just a few cents on the cheap side to tens of dollars for really nice NOS parts.  but then again, tens of dollars isn’t much if you can really improve the tone of your favorite instrument.  a comparison of tone caps on the Home Recording Show turned me on to the idea so i headed over to  the site is a tresure chest of great tips, tricks, how-to’s and what-to’s of guitar modding goodness. i emailed their web shop for advice on what to do with my telecaster.  they suggested two matched military grade 250k audio pots, a NOS german papter-in-oil tone capacitor, and a speacial “bleeder network” to go in place of the cheap ceramic capacitor across the load of the volume pot.  these pots have a super smooth 60/40 taper for a more musical range of motion than cheap ones and the paper-in-oil tone cap reveals a clarity in the midrange and articulation of the tone in all positions of the tone knob that was just muffled before.  the “bleeder network” that they attached to the volume pot for me at their shop is a small cap and resistor in paralell that cuts the volume more evenly across the frequency spectrum so the guitar doesn’t start to sound “thin” at lower volume settings.

this all cost me $62 including shipping.  once installed i could feel the new pots are smooth and firm as i turn them.  i used to never touch my tone knob because it made the guitar sound like i’d put my had over a microphone or something.  now any position of the tone knob sounds useable from full brightness and bite way down to the warm soft end.  but the most impressive part of all is the overall clarity in articulation that the guitar has.  when playing with the band my guitar cuts through better with out having to push the volume on my amp.  i can easily hear individual notes in my chords even with my distortion pedal breathing flames of rock awesome all over them.

$62 may sound like a lot for a couple of pots and some caps for your guitar but the improvement in the tone easily rivals some of the other, much more expensive addtions i’ve made to my signal chain.  

if you care about tone, don’t overlook this! trust me.

(some pics of the install)

new pots and caps before installwired up, ready to rock

more guitar, keyboard, and we might need your help...

tracked my keyboards and almost done with guitars.

keys are recorded midi into Reason 4 with stock libraries and the Abbey Roads Keyboard refill.  the challen piano and the hamond organ in that pack is unbelievable…  re-wire that back into pro tools.  maybe i’ll re-amp some of this through some pre’s or other outboard gear if it needs something to glue it to the mix, we’ll see.

for my guitars i messed around with so many odd ball placements i nearly pulled my hair out.  eventually came back to a very similar setup to what we did for Derek’s.  Cascade FatHead II edge of the dust cover and this time a 57 half way from the edge of the cone to the dust cover.  both on axis, both into my golden age Pre73’s.  i wish i had some inline HPF for the ribbon mike, it’s picking up some sub information that i need to filter out…but the pre73 doesn’t have a filter and it has this detail in the mid range that my other pre’s just didn’t.  



(there’s more)

check back tomorrow night for a special thing we need your input on. YES YOU!  more to come in the near-to-now…


Lots of progress

bass done, Derek’s electric guitar done, 

Derek’s going over some acoustic stuff we’re about to lay down, here’s some pics!




for the audio-curious, on the bass that’s a Ampeg SVT-CL with the matching 8x10 cab.  ElectroVoice RE20 (EQ Filter on) less than an inch off the grill 15º off axis, center off the cone, into the Aphex 107 Tube pre.  the RODE NT2 in cardioid mode, about a foot and a half away, into my Golden Age Pre73 - a Neve 1073 copy.  i moved this one around until it was in phase with the RE20.

my Effectrode Tube Drive pedal is in front of the amp for some moderate crunch on some songs and we used a fuzz face pedal for some rich creamy fuzz in a song or two.  the RODE is very warm and round while the RE20 adds attack and a lot of the action when we had the distortion/fuzz on.  it’s surprisingly beefy even with the EQ filter on!


Derek’s guitar was recorded with his Fender Hot Rod Devile (modified with a JAN 12AT7 in the first pre stage) into my Avatar vintage 2x12 with 1979 celestion G12-65’s.  we used my Effectrode Tube Drive for the distortion here also, this time with the original JJ’s in the first and second position swapped out for Mullard 12AX7’s.  (the most amazing tube ever for distortion)

we dual miked this cab as well with a Cascade FatHead II ribbon microphone, at the edge of the dust cone and the Sennheiser e609 silver, about halfway from the center to the edge of the cone, 45º off axis away from the dust cover.  both about 2 inches off the grille cloth, carefully phase aligned.  the FatHead II into the Aphex 107 with the low pass filter enabled and the e609 into the GA pre73.

the FatHead II captures a dark, roomy tone with lots of rich low-mids and the e609 got just the right amount of edge and note definition.  


Finally today we did acoustic guitar for a few songs.  here we have the Casdace FatHead II’s (seeing a ton of use since i picked these up, so great) in Blumlien pair.  three feet-ish away from the guitar, at 45º up in front.  these into the GA pre73’s captured a fantastic detail in the mid range and a great room sound at the same time. such a realistic image.  i threw up the Rode NT2 just below them in cardioid, into the Aphex 107 with the low-pass filter.  moved around ‘till it was phase aligned and added it to the FatHeads for a little more pick noise and brilliance in the high end.  

for parts where the acoustic is solo or primary the mix will get more of the ribbons than the LDC but we recorded quite a bit into other songs to accentuate certain themes, these parts might sound best with the LDC turned up more.  it’s a versatile combination, i’ll post some clips when i find a few min.



fun with guitar micing

yesterday Derek from Forging Reverie brought over a box full of vintage old microphones and stuff.  they’d been under his bed or something for years, passed down from his dad.  so i picked through them; a few old mics you might plug into a 1970’s era cam-corder.  you remember, the type you’d attach to a shoulder bag that would contain the video tape mechanics?  there were some weird cables and a bizarre passive summing mixer with RCA in/out.

then i found a couple items that do qualify as “vintage”: ElectroVoice 627c’s and an AKG D19e.  the 627c is mostly used as a harmonica mic and it’s got a switchable impedance so you can go right into a guitar amp.  the web littered with stories about George Martin and the gang at Abbey Road using the D19e on everything from drum overheads to John Lennon’s voice.

i decided to fool around in the studio for a while and try these against some of my other dynamics on electric guitar.  here we go!

(left to right: Sennheiser e609 silver, AKG D19e, Ev 627c, Shure SM57, Ev RE20)

i played around with each mic’s placement to get the sound i liked best for each individually and then balanced the volume a little bit in the mix down.  this is NOT scientific in any way, i just wanted to get an idea of what they might be useful for.

the setup is my ash Fender Telecaster moded with a Dimarzio “Fast Track T” at the bridge into my custom boutique 50w and Avatar vintage 2x12 cab loaded with original Celestion G1265’s.  for the second pass (the distorted lick) i kicked on my Hot Chili Tubester and BOSS DD-6 delay.  here’s a little detail on the placement of the mics you’ll hear in the clips:

  1. SM57 - 45 degrees off axis, pointed at the side of the cone

  2. Sennhiser e609 Silver - 20 degrees off axis, pointed at the center of the cone

  3. Ev 627c - 45 degrees off axis, pointed at the center of the cone

  4. AKG D19e - 20 degrees off axis, pointed at the center of the cone

  5. Ev RE20 - on axis, pointed at the edge of the dust cap.

have a listen…

clean [audio “”]

distorted [audio “”]

so obviously the Ev 627c really has no business in a comparison like this but, it’ll be fun as a lo-fi effect mic and it’s awesome as a harmonica mic.  (check out YouTube if you have any doubt.)  the AKG D19e on the other hand, seems to have some very useful qualities.  definitely a vintage tone.  i predict i’ll be trying this out in many situations in upcoming sessions.  the fizzy, yet soft top end is something i don’t have anywhere else is my mic locker and i really like the kind of old condenser sound it has.