My Ears are Ringing

I just put lead guitars onto four songs and rhythm guitars onto two. My ears are ringing a little, everything sounds like mush, and by the time I finished my fingers weren’t doing what I told them anymore. I think I’m done for today.

I did a little experiment. I had my first taste of a wet/dry rig. Go look up That Pedal Show on youtube and you’ll find a slew of videos talking about wet/dry. The basics are, you play through two amps and put all of your modulation and timing effects into just one amp. That way you can seriously overuse the effect, but the dry signal coming out of the second amp makes it so the sound doesn’t turn to complete mud. The end result is supposed to be an epically huge, spacious, 3D kind of overall effect.

What I did today was super simple. Of my two amps, only one has a built in tremolo effect. The Vox AC15 has one, but the Fender Bassbreaker 15 does not. So, I put some tremolo on (even though I really never use that effect at all) and gave myself a mini-wet dry. The wet (effected) amp being the Vox, and the dry (no effect) amp being the Fender.

It was really simple. Nothing Earth shattering… but it did sound pretty cool. I put it on a rhythm part for one song, but only for two measures or so, and a little tiny bit on a couple of lead parts. I normally pan the two amps completely separate for rhythm parts (one fully to the left and the other fully to the right) but for leads I usually keep them panned together (both straight down the middle, usually). I think the effect is greatly lessened when the two signals aren’t spread out. We’ll see if I lose it in the mix.

I also tried to use my cheap little pitch shift pedal on one solo. It’s a Donner Harmonic Square. I’m pretty sure it’s just a clone of an Electro Harmonix Pitch Fork. The downside is the printing on the pedal is so incredibly small that I can’t read it, even with my glasses on. I have to take a picture and zoom all the way in. It’s crazy, see?

I wanted to mix the dry signal with a pitch a seventh above, because Trevor Rabin, ya know? Unfortunately, the +/-7 setting actually is a +/-5. There doesn’t seem to be a seventh setting at all, even though the labeling on the pedal says there is. I went with an octave down, because for years and years I always had a DoD Octaplus pedal that was just an octave divider (it let the original signal through, but mixed in another pitch, one octave down). Sadly, that trusty old warrior of a pedal is dead now, but I can get the same effect with this cheap little thing (it actually tracks a little better than the Octaplus did… not to speak ill of the dead or anything). I was a little annoyed though… I wanted me some Owner of a Lonely Heart sounding stuff. Oh well.

So, here’s a picture of all my stuff. Hopefully I’ll get another mix done tonight. Not for a while though, my ears really feel like mush. I think I had my headphones up a tad too loud today.

Finished a (bad) Song

I don’t think I like this song very much, but it’s the first song since March that doesn’t use a Klon style overdrive pedal at least a little bit. Well, it does in all the solos, but not in the rhythm. I used a Tube Screamer for the rhythm because the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn visited me in a dream and told me to (no he didn’t, I totally just made that up).

Is This a Bad Idea?

I was up really late last night. I had a load of laundry running and I didn’t want to fall asleep until it was done. I was also watching an episode of The Watchman and I wasn’t paying attention to the clock when I started it. It finished about 25 minutes after the laundry. Dumbass. Turns out I didn’t get to sleep until about 12:15am. My sleep numbers were pretty good* but there just wasn’t enough of it.

Seemingly unrelated, King Crimson guitarist/band leader Robert Fripp not only helped to invent what we now call Progressive Rock (with the first King Crimson Album, In the Court of the Crimson King in 1969, the point of it being the first prog record is arguable, but the arguments in favor are pretty good. For me, I tend to look at The Beatles Abby Road which came out a few weeks earlier), but he also helped to invent what we now call ambient music as well (with the 1973 release of No Pussyfooting in a collaboration with Brian Eno, under the name Fripp and Eno). He came up with a technique of using a couple of reel to reel tape decks to make loops of sound. He eventually developed a whole electronic style of playing, which he dubbed Frippertronics because he sounds like he’s one of those guys who likes giving funky names to stuff (I don’t know if that’s true or not, it just kinda seems that way. No offense meant, Robert). These days he uses a guitar synthesizer rig and some samplers to do his thing (and recently it’s been really making me want to dabble in synth pedals and loopers).

One unique (I think) aspect of a King Crimson show is that at some point before the people start showing up, Fripp will record a few minutes worth of an improvised ambient piece of music and they will play that through the sound system before the show starts. I think they loop it so it can start playing around the time the doors open, and end when the band takes the stage. Musically speaking they’re not really… ya know… musical. There isn’t a melody, and there really isn’t a harmonic structure to speak of. They are just meant to be background sounds.

So Crimson has been touring for years and years, and every show has it’s own original ambient piece. There must be a mountain of these suckers stored up somewhere. In the spirit of the Covid-19 lock downs being an existential kick in the nuts, Mr Fripp has been releasing one of these ambient pieces each week. Every Friday he puts one out via all the streaming services under the title Music for Quiet Moments. Music for Quiet Moments 15 came out today.

Why am I talking about this?

Because I have a playlist with all 15 pieces and it’s playing through the Sonos speaker in my bedroom/office right now, and as alluded to in paragraph #1, I’m pretty sleepy today.

Is it a mistake to combine these two seemingly unrelated things? Being sleepy and ambient music?

Ummmm… maybe I should switch to something noisier.

*My SleepWatch numbers for the past couple of weeks have included a string of heart rate dip values that were literally unbelievable. I did eight straight days above 20%, then one in the teens, and then six more above 20%. I’ve never had a run like that in the year-plus I’ve been paying attention. Granted, the last two nights have only been 13% each. A month ago I would have been very pleased with that. Now? It’s a let down.

Dusty

The Lizardfish pedal board is a dusty mess right now, but it’s all hooked up again and ready to go for the next 50/90 recording. Will that be later tonight? I hope so.

There should be another OCD alternative in the near future. I just have to wait for the builder to actually build it. It’s not a custom job, but it’s as close as this red head is likely to ever get.

Music Tree

Lots of music progress. I recorded rhythm guitars for (I think) five songs yesterday, wrote lyrics for two, and then today added vocals to five.

I’d like to add the stupid picture I took of the tree next to my car-music parking spot, but wordpress.com’s block editor is being a bit of a dick right now.

341/365

Never mind, wordpress.com wasn’t being a dick, I forgot to update a setting in Flickr. My bad.

So currently I have five songs ready for lead guitar, six songs ready for lyrics, and two songs ready for rhythm guitar. The total count is at 24. One shy of halfway.

I can practically smell how little you care.

Well, That’s too Bad

I started watching the new season of The Umbrella Academy yesterday. I just watched episode four. During the big climactic fight scene at the end the soundtrack made a kind of unfortunate choice. I was Made for Loving You by Kiss. Possibly my least favorite song by my least favorite band. Disco Kiss. It’s kinda shameful. Even worse than that terrifying period when the Rolling Stones went all disco.

So I’m watching the fight. Good guys kicking the crap out of bad guys, you know, and the song comes to the guitar solo. My first thought was, tonally speaking Ace Frehley (assuming it was Ace Frehley playing) sounded a lot like Alex Lifeson on the first couple of Rush records. Gibson guitar, cranked Marshall amp. Classic. Then it hit me… the actual solo he was playing… the phrases sounded a lot like… well… they sounded a lot like me.

Well… that’s too bad.

Not surprising that Ace and I steal from the same people, just kinda painful to learn that one of the people I steal from is actually someone I don’t even like very much. Not that I’m saying he’s not a good guitar player, he’s very good. You won’t hear me say a bad word about any of them. It’s just… Kiss… ugh. My guitar playing sounds like the guy from Kiss. Ugh.

August Music is Underway

336/365 - August 1st

I played some rhythm guitar today. I recorded the three songs I mentioned this morning that were ready, and I started a new song, did the whole arrangement for it, and recorded the rhythm guitar parts all before dinner. August music is officially underway.

I also did something I haven’t done in months. I messed around with different overdrive pedals. Not only that, I recorded a couple of songs without using a Klon style pedal. Two of the songs, including the new one, just used my Tube Screamer Mini. I haven’t used that pedal in years. Also, I tried my Mosky Black Rat (it’s still plugged in in the picture).

I’ve had that pedal for months and I’d never even plugged it in. I can’t remember when I bought it, January? Something like that? One day I decided I needed to have a Rat style pedal in my pedal arsenal. I bought the cheapest little Chinese made clone amazon had. When it arrived I took it out of the box, put it on my dresser and…

…today I plugged it in. I used it by itself with the gain really low and it sounded pretty sweet. Maybe it’s time to look into getting a real ProCo Rat.

Anyway, I still have three songs that don’t have an arrangement yet, and now seven that are ready for vocals.

50/90 continues, and August music is underway.

50/90 One Month Check In

It’s August 1st. I cannot believe it’s already August 1st. The universe ended in March, how can it be August? What the freak?

So where are we with 50/90, because that’s what really matters to the universe, right? Ugh.

July 4-31 saw work on exactly 20 songs. 11 of them are done and done. Likely never to be listened to, or even thought of again. Three more songs have guitars but are waiting patiently for lyrics and vocals. Three more have a complete form but are waiting quite impatiently for guitars. That leaves three that are just a couple of little bass guitar noodles. One of which is only a few hours old. I snuck it in last night just before midnight.

So what does August have in store for us? No clue. I did something to my left thumb a couple of weeks ago. It hurts but I don’t think it’s broken. My range of motion is decreased a little, but not too much. It hurts to make a fist, and sometimes it hurts to lift things. It does not hurt to play guitar, but if it doesn’t get better I am going to have to have a doctor look at it. If there is something wrong and they need to immobilize it then guitar is going right out the window.

Other than that, my hope is to get up near 40 by the end of the month. I need to do at least 10 from start to finish in order to keep the album in a month streak alive, and I need to save at least 10 for the same reason in September. You know, now that I think of it… there is a shit load left to do. Ugh, I’m all intimidated now.

Crud.

Rock on, bro.