I just saw another advertisement for a new “relic” guitar. This means that you’re buying a brand-spanking new guitar, but they chip and fade the finish and add scratches and dents for you:
And the kicker? These “designer guitars” are more expensive. Sometimes by thousands of dollars.
Every time I see ads for new guitars, it reminds me of a car trip I took when I was in college. I hopped into the back seat, wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans I’d owned for a long time. One of the girls looked at my knees and asked “did you buy those pants like that?” I looked at the threadbare thighs and the holes in the knees and thought she was kidding. “No, I just wore these out,” I told her. “Oh, I bought these like this,” she said. And I looked at her jeans and realized that she had a basically new pair of jeans with “designer holes” in them.
And that’s when I realized, I will never, ever understand fashion.
But my basic incredulousness is the same, if we’re talking about guitars or jeans: why would you pay for something to look ravaged by time? Those old “relic” guitars weren’t that way originally. The “lived in look” came from years of use and abuse. If you buy a guitar that already looks 30 years old when you buy it…how do you think it will look in 30 years?
Some people say that guitars that have been “worn” have a more “lived in” feel right out of the box. Well, maybe they do. But isn’t half the fun wearing it in yourself? I have some guitars with chips and wear and each represents many hours of use and joy, not simply my economic buying power.
Ultimately, of course, people can do whatever they want with their money, and if they want to buy something that looks like it’s been run over buy a truck they certainly can. I’d rather buy something that looks shiny and new, and then wear it down with my own hours of woodshedding and performing. This is just a trend/fad/style that I’m afraid I will never understand.
I’m back from the NAMM show. There are a ton of roundups all over the net, so I won’t bother with that. But like years past, I’ll note those specific things that I could see as part of Ember Studio. For those who aren’t as interested in music tech I’ll put my list of stuff behind a cut.
I’ve been trying to get another video up on YouTube. Not much more to wait now—just a few technical difficulties to iron out!
However, speaking of videos on YouTube, Dave Smith Instruments, my favorite hardware synth company, just came out with another synth, the Mopho x4. Ember Studios already has a Mopho in it…will I have to add one of these? I just may…
This is one of those music techie posts that if you’re not actively involved in recording music, you can probably go ahead and skip. But recording guitar amps in small spaces can be a challenge, if you don’t have the opportunity to turn up the volume a little and stick a nice microphone in front of a speaker cabinet. So I decided to do some tests of an alternate recording method. I’ll discuss what I did and share some audio files after the cut.
You may remember from my previous post that I’ve been looking for a new tube amp to join my Kemper Profiling Amplifier in Ember Studios. At the time I thought I’d get one of the more interesting micro-amps out there. Well, I’ve brought a new amp into the studio, but it’s not a micro amp after all. It is the Laney Ironheart. I’m going to include a cut so that those of you who don’t care about gear can be spared a long review. But for those who do care, below the cut are both my thoughts and some quick sloppy clips to illustrate them.
Today, “the father of loud,” the “Guv’nor” has passed away, at 88 years old. Dr. Jim Marshall OBE, inventor of Marshall amplifiers, has left the building. I’ll leave the biographies and obituaries to other sites; here’s how my life intersected with his inventions.
When I was first falling in love with music, it was with Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page’s guitar sound became the sound I heard in my head, for what I wanted to sound like. And part of that sound was the Marshall amplifier.
You see, a guitar amplifier doesn’t simply make something soft louder. It’s circuits and tubes change the tone, add richness and depth and rumble and grit and energy—and if you turn up the gain or volume like the classic hard rock and metal artists did, that distortion that could go from creamy to gut-wrenching.
When I started playing clubs, as soon as I could save up enough money I bought a Marshall speaker cabinet, then a Marshall amplifier “head.” Even when I started playing clubs all the time and moved to a “rack of doom” rig, I used a digital preamp and a tube power amp from Marshall. Marshall was always the sound I heard in my head. Even later when I moved to more boutique amps with esoteric features and tonal options, the sounds I was chasing, more often than not, were variations on the Marshall sound.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Jim Marshall’s particular tonal sensibilities shaped much of the music that we grew up with and loved, indirectly weaving his way into the joy and dreams of millions of fans and musicians. Thank you for the dreams you inspired in me, Dr. Marshall, and may your dreams be as sweet.
I find that between releases is the perfect time to swap out gear and bring new instruments and processors into Ember Studios. New sonic textures and instruments inspire creativity, bring new excitement, and helps keep everything fresh. I’ve sold a number of cherished instruments and processors and over the next month or so, I’ll be adding new tools and toys and writing about it here. I’ve had a weekend to play with the first new addition, a TC Electronic TonePrint delay pedal called the Alter Ego, a customized version of their Flashback delay that was designed in cooperation with ProGuitarShop.
More after the cut! (more…)
As you can see from the links on the right side of the Geartalk page, Ember Studios had a lot of killer gear, including amazing digital (Kemper Profiling Amplifier) and analog (Egnater) amps. One thing that Ember Studios doesn’t have a lot of, however, is space. Here’s why that matters: The KPA can cover everything from singing cleans to high gain incredibly well. I’ve got some amazing profiles of both my own and other people’s amps that are liquid and excellent. However, I do like the sheer pants-flapping-from-the-blast of a real nuclear high gain amp. I’ve owned a few of those in the past, but those 120W crazy beasts were just too much amp to really open up in a small studio. So I’m looking for something with that level of drive but at recording levels. Thankfully, Ember Studios isn’t in a bedroom, so I can open up a low wattage amp and get some real fire going, but it should be reasonable.
Right now, there are four I’m thinking of.
The first is the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister. It’s got the advantage of having an extremely good speaker simulator for recording (a redesigned custom Red Box), and has great clean and rock tones. Not sure if it’s quite as super nuclear as I’m looking for, however.
And c’mon, how can you not love the blue LEDs?
At NAMM 2012 I heard the Rebel 30 HG, the Egnater Rebel 30 amp with a tweaked high gain channel. I love Egnater amps, the Rebel 30 is an amazing amp, and the new HG channel sounds even closer to crazy gain than the Rebel did before.
This amp is supposed to be out “real soon now”…
Orange may have started off (or at least popularized) the micro-amp craze with the Tiny Terror. And the latest in that series is the Jim Root #4 signature Terror, a Dark Terror voiced like Jim’s Orange Rockerverbs in the “Terror” lunchbox head. There are no great recordings of it, but I heard it at NAMM 2012 and it sounded better than the Dark Terror to me. Like the Egnater HG series, no idea when this will ship.
Finally, I’ve really been liking the Carvin V3M. It’s definitely got that nuclear gain thing going, it cleans up well, and it’s got LEDs to boot.
All these amps can be knocked down in Wattage to under 15W, which is imperative—I can get some real hair on a 15W amp, but I can’t really open up a 30W or more powerful amp in my space.
Do any readers have favorite high gain micro amps? What’s been working for you?