Saturday, September 23, 2017

5 tips on how to record a band rehearsal with a smartphone or a tablet

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article! 
Have you ever needed to record your own band's rehearsals but you did not have a recording device ready for the task? 
The solution is probably in your pocket.
A smartphone, if used with some criteria, is capable of recording a decent take that can be used later to analyze that riff you were jamming together, or to not forget an idea.

This small guide is for those of you who want to record their jam and doesn't have any periphereal, obviously keeping in mind that the quality of the phone makes a lot of difference, and that the final file will be a single track, usually mono, that will leave us little room for adjustments (although we will surely be able to use an eq to tame some resonance or apply some hi pass or low pass filter).

The main thing, that will make the difference between a muffled, clipping fart and an audible, usable audio take is to get the gain and the positioning right, and this varies on the loudness of the instruments (eg. if there is a drumset or not), and the size and shape of the room.

For the gain staging we will have to do some trial and error: record a take and see if it's clipping, or if it's too low. According to the case we can adjust the input gain or move the phone in another point of the room. For the balance instead is trickier, because we need to find a position that is farther from the louder instruments in order to attenuate them, and closer to the quieter ones, to make them audible. 
Don't rush and take your time, you'll probably need to adjust the position of the phone several times before finding the optimal placement.

Here are 5 tips that can be useful when recording with a smartphone: 

1) The band must have a balanced mix, as much as possible. this means that the vocals, the guitar and the bass must not cover each other, and none of these must cover the drums or be covered by them. Place yourself somewhere in the room that is at the same distance from all instruments and find out whether any of them needs to be a bit louder or quieter. 

2) Put your phone in airplane mode! Any incoming call, vibration, game notification, will ruin the recording.

3) Set the phone on the ground or on a chair, not too high because the higher it is, the more is the chance it will only get the cymbals. We need to attenuate the cymbals, that are usually very loud. Usually the lower we put it, the more emphasis will be on bass and kick drum.

4) If possible, try to find an app in which the input gain is adjustable, so you will be sure the sound will never clip (if it does, just turn the input gain down). Another good feature for a recording app would be to record in Wav, instead of Mp3.

5) If it is impossible to turn down the input volume and the sound is clipping and distorting all the time try to put the phone further away from the sound sources or apply styrofoam/duct tape or other sound obstructing materials in front of the phone's mike, or try to place the phone behind a layer of cloth/a pillow. 

Hope this was helpful!

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

5 tips on how to set the correct pickup height

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about how to set the correct pickup height.
Bear in mind that this is not a technical article but more of a pragmatic guide on how to avoid it to be in the absolutely wrong position, rather than to give a fixed, perfect height, because it varies according to the taste of the player.

Let's start with a short recap: a pickup is a magnet that takes the vibration of the strings (or better the movement happening within the magnetic field around it) and turns it into a signal that, once sent to an amplifier, turns into sound.
The more the magnet is near to the strings the louder the signal will be, and therefore it will be more rich, saturated and with more bass frequencies content.
The farther it is from the strings, the more the guitar will sound acoustic, clean, trebly: these are the characteristics of a lower output.

How do we rise or lower the pickup? 
By turning the screws  on its sides: they touch the wood beneath and allow us to pull the pickup higher or lower. Keep in mind that if you know what you are doing, it can happen that the sound you are looking for is also with the pickup not 100% horizontal (if you want to add some output on a side or lower it on the other), and that some pickups offer also the possibility to adjust the single polepieces one by one. 
My suggestion is to do this only when strictly necessary or you will risk to lose the output balance among the strings.

What we are looking after is, when strumming the guitar with a clean sound, a tone that has on its tail a ring, like a slight tremolo/vibrato effect. If we are too close to the string the vibrato will disappear because it will be so fast that it will be inaudible, if we are too far it will be inaudible the same for the opposite reason, so we are aiming to the position in which the ringing is most audible, and this will mean that the sustain is optimal.  

Let's see the 5 basic tips on how to set the correct pickup height:

1) Avoid putting the pickup too close to the strings, first off because the strings can end up touching it (it happens especially with the neck pickup: try to play on the higher frets and see if you need to lower it a bit).

2) Another signal that our pickup is too high is when it is so bassy that it sounds muddy. We must lower it in order to increase the definition.  

3) Avoid keeping the pickup too low, because the guitar will sound just weak, and the sound will lose  its body.

4) The sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle between "too low" and too high, and it is usually found if you strum the guitar with a clean sound: the tail of the sound must ring, like a slight tremolo/vibrato effect. This means the pickup is on the optimal position.

5) This "sweet spot" of point 4 is actually not a spot but a range, and within this range you can move slightly up or down in order to increase or decrease the output until you find the tone you prefer (more clean or more aggressive).

I hope this helps!

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Harley Benton SG Kit Building Diary 3/3 (Harley Benton SG Kit VS Epiphone Les Paul VIDEO)

Thanks to our friend Daniel for playing in our video shootout!



Welcome to the third and last part of our building diary!
After taking care of the body and of the electronic part of the guitar it was time to mount the bridge.
The Tune o'matic bridge is composed by 2 parts: the Tune o'matic itself, which is the part with the saddles, and the tailpiece. Both these parts are anchored to the body with two big pieces of metal that needs to be literally hammered into the body, using the pre-created holes. be careful when hammering these pieces because any mistake is not revertible, so make sure they go down straight (and without damaging the body).

Once they are all the way in we can mount the Tune o'matic and the stop tail.

Meanwhile I have also screwed in the strap buttons, those parts in which you attach the strap. In this guitar one of the two buttons is set actually in the neck, to balance it a bit better.

Now it was time to make the fretboard nice and smooth, and for this task I have used the Dunlop Deep conditioner oil. This oil makes the fingerboard of a nice dark colour and the wood smooth and shiny, very pleasant to play. 

After applying the oil, letting it be absorbed and removing the excess part with a paper cloth I have mounted the strings.

Now it was time to set the action, I have adjusted the Tune o'matic bridge until I have found the right height of each string, which for me is the lowest one before hearing fret buzz when picking a string.

Once the strings were in place I have made sure the neck was straight, by playing all the strings in all the frets, looking for parts in which there was some "dead note", or in which some bending was muted. Luckily everything was playing fine, sign that the fretwork was impeccable and that the neck was perfectly straight.
Then I proceed with the perfect intonation of the guitar, adjusting the saddles according to the technique explained in this article until everything was perfectly in tune.

Finally, I have set the right pickup height using the two screws on the sides of each pickup: I have raised them until I heard the perfect ringing tail of the note, which is the sign the pickup is at the optimal distance from the strings and ready to rock.

Here is with the strap attached (and yes, I haven't yet removed the protective plastic foil from the electronics chamber cover).

There is still some work to do: as you can see the pickguard is attached to the body only with one screw because the holes for the other screws were not perfectly aligned (anyway this way is already very stable), and the pickup selector is not perfectly vertical but slightly horizontal. I still need to tighten some bolt and adjust it here and there, and maybe someday I will try a new bridge pickup too, but for the moment I am quite happy with this guitar: it is surprisingly playable, the neck is comfortable, it is in tune and the tone is pleasant, although as you can hear from the video quite treble-oriented. Maybe with a darker sounding pickup I can balance the thing a bit, but the wood is very light, so obviously I am not expecting any miracle.
All in all it was extremely fun and pleasant to build, and it is also quite fun to play!
Another sample played with this guitar can be heard in this article.

I hope this was helpful!



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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Harley Benton SG Kit Building Diary 2/3



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
After the body has been painted and sealed with tru oil, it was time to start assembling the kit.
I have mounted with ease the six tuners provided, using a screwdriver to secure it to the headstock.

Then I have aligned the neck on the body and I have fixed it with the screws and the metal plate (yes, it is a bolt on Sg :D)

After the neck was firmly in place, I have started the isolation process using aluminum duct tape, cutting it with scissors and adapting it to all the electronic cavities as good as possible, in order to isolate the pickups from unwanted electromagnetic sources.

I have also isolated the cavity for volume and tone knobs and the plastic cover.

As you can see those red plastic plugs means the pickups are solderless: I just had to attach them to the pickup wire to make them work.

After the shielding operations I proceeded to put the knobs and the pickup selector into place, tightening them with a bolt.

Then I have installed the pickups with their plastic frame.



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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Harley Benton SG Kit Building Diary 1/3

Hello and welcome to this week's article! 
Today and for the next 2 weeks I want to share with you a diary of the building of my Harley Benton Sg kit, a chinese guitar kit sold by Thomann, the biggest music dealer in Europe.

Why did I decide to buy a kit? 
Obviously not to have the best sounding instrument in the world, I just wanted to know more in depth the process of building and setting up a guitar, and to have fun with the finishes, the painting, and so on. This kit is a great antistress hobby and very useful for didactic purposes. Plus it turned out to be very playable too (although I have read mixed reviews on the web, some people have been less lucky than me with their kit)!

For the first phase I have made treasure of the tips of the luthier Luigi Valenti of Valenti guitars (check out his products, they're awesome): since the guitar body was already covered by a layer of wood sealer, I had to sandpaper it off, with a thick grain paper (200 to 320). 

I have eliminated most of the coat and risen the grain, so that the wood is now receptive to the dye.
Then I have applied to the wood (a very light basswood with a copper-ish colour a first coat of purple wood dye, using rubber gloves and a piece of cloth. 
In the following photos you will see me applying 6 layers of purple dye, leaving the paint to dry for 24 hours between one layer and the other.

Before each new layer of dye I have sandpaper the whole guitar with a thinner grain sandpaper (800 to 1200), to even out the wood and to make the veins of the wood pop out more.
After a while I have started focusing my sandpapering a bit more towards the center of the body, in order to create a lighter area that will be the core of my "raspberry burst" attempt.

Then I have started painting the central part of the body with a pink dye, instead of the purple one, in order to create some contrast (which is the core of the raspberry burst, even if the type of dye and the reddish wood below created something that is much closer to a cherry colour than my initial idea).

After about 5 layers of color and 5 sandpaperings, I have started applying a layer of tru-oil.
Tru Oil is a type of protective oil made for wood, and it is often used for the wooden part of guns, to make them smooth, shiny and protected. It is one of the best and easiest ways to preserve the natural look of the wood.

I have applied on the guitar six layers of tru oil, sandpapering with a 1200 grain between each layer and waiting 24 hours between each application (you can see in the following pictures one photo after each layer of tru oil). 

After the sixth and last layer of tru oil the body was ready to be assembled with the rest, and in the next weeks I will explain everything in detail.



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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review: Jst Soar

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are reviewing a new delay plug in: JST Soar!

The producer and software developer Joey Sturgis is back with a new plug in that mantains the characteristics of his Jst lineup: scheumorphism (which means a graphic ui that resembles a classic piece of hardware), easiness of use (most of his plugins are really made to sound good almost out of the box) and good tone.
This Soar is a delay plugin that is made to recreate the classic hardware tape units of the past, but it features several modern tools to take full advantage of the digital age flexibility.

On the central and right panel the interface features the classic controls you would expect from a delay: a tempo control (with a tap button and another one that syncs it with the song tempo), a dry/wet mix knob, a mono/stereo switch and a control that lets us choose the delay offset.
On the left panel instead there are 5 controls that lets us fine tune the "tape" aspect of the delay: age of the tape, health of the machine and flutter (the older and more "ruined" it is, the less hi-fi it will sound), plus a repetition and a contour control, which makes us adjust the accumulation of the repetitions.

As for other Jst plugins, scratching the surface you will reveal a good amount of controls, to fine tune your sound in a very precise way, and to give it a twist not achievable with other processors (unless obviously you use several different plug ins combined), plus the plug in is surprisingly light on resources, compared to many other products of the same kind and that offer a similar amount of features.

Try it out, you will not regret it!

- True Analog Tape Modeled Processing

- Tape Control Including: Repeats, Age & Flutter

- Variable 15/30 ips Speed

- Groundbreaking Tape “Health” & “Contour” Adjustments

- Onboard Mono & Mix Controls

- Built-in Tutorial Mode and Control Definition

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to use Delay and Reverb fx sends

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
This article is a more in depth view of our group and fx channel article: how to actually set up and use a Delay (or any other modulation effect) and a Reverb fx send (or more than one) to give a coherent tone to our whole project.

This is done to achieve two results:

1) not having to open a single effect instance for each track, which can be extremely cpu-demanding

2) to create a tone that will give a consistent tone print through our tracks, as it used to happen in the hardware days, in which obviously the number of hardware processors was limited and the mix engineers had to send it, in different amounts, to various tracks.

We are using the classic Presonus Studio One interface, but the same concept can be applied to any other professional daw.

What do we need to do?
We take our vocal or guitar solo track, for example, and just drag and drop from the effect pool window on the right side of the screen our effect into the "send" area of our track in the mixer (you can show or hide the mixer by pressing F3). Once the effect is there, it will automatically create an fx send track in the mixer with the name of the selected effect (you can also rename it). Then from the send of each track (e.g. Vocals, solo etc) you can decide the amount of effect to be sent to that particular track.

Esample: more Reverb send for the vocal track, less send (but the same reverb, so it sounds like they are in the same room) to the snare drum.

Another interesting thing is that we can also create and save complex chains, like the following effect track that can be sent to many single vocal tracks, instead of loading the effects in the insert of each one:

1) Eq filtering up to 1000hz: this will affect only the effect track, meaning that the following effects will work in our track only from the frequences above 1khz, so the effect will sound less muddy.

2) Delay with short tail to thicken the vocal and give it some shimmer.

3) Reverb with short tail and low dry/wet ratio: we are using it only to create some tail.

the purpose of this chain is to create a subtle effect send to be used on all our vocal tracks (or guitar solos, for example), we can also click on the arrow on top of this fx track in the mixer and store it to recall it in other projects.

Hope this was helpful!

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: JST Conquer All vol.4 (with video sample inside)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review the latest Impulse response pack from Jst: Conquer All vol.4!
Joey Sturgis is a popular producer from United States, the man behind the iconic sound of The Devil Wears Prada, Born of Osiris, Asking Alexandria and many other bands, and this is yet another very usable ir pack for various genres, but particularly suited for rock and metal.
This pack features 3 folders: Eq IRs (the impulse responses already Equalized by Joey, to start playing immediately with a polished sound), RAW (the same impulses but not equalized, to leave us total tone shaping freedom) and Kemper, which are the impulses in the Kemper format.

The speakers included in this pack are 3 Marshall (a 4x12 and 2 2x12 each with different speakers) and one Orange 2x12 with V30 speakers.
Each of these cabinets has different combinations of microphones (both on and off axis) and preamps, and it is very interesting to try to combine two impulses or more, since they are all perfectly in phase.

I must say that these impulses live up to the Jst name: they are solid products, very usable also in a professional studio environment and at the right price.
I consider the equalized version a bonus, since it lets us use a bit of Joey Sturgis tone with any guitar amp, both virtual or real. 
The sample you can hear on the top of this article was created by combining 2 impulses: an sm57 straight and a Sennheiser md421 blended together, with no post eq added; I have chosen the ones passing through a Neve preamp because they have a bit more rolloff on the high end, making them more realistic and less scratchy. It is literally the guitar (a self built Harley Benton Sg Kit) and the virtual amplifier (Tse X50II).

Specs Taken from the website:

Conquer All Volume IV Includes EQ'd and RAW IRs and Kemper Compatible IRs

There are 4 unique setups with 24 IRs for each setup
- Marshall 2x12 oversized 212 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s
- Marshall Mode 4 412 cab with Celestion K100s
- Marshall Vintage Modern 212 combo with Celestion Greenbacks
- Orange 212 Open Back Cab with Celestion Vintage 30s

Preamps Used
- Don Classics Neve 1073 clone

Microphones Used
- Shure SM57
- Sennheiser MD421
- Beyerdynamic M201
- Sennheiser E906
- Shure SM7B
- Neumann TLM103

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mixing 2 or more Guitar Impulses

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about the subtle art of mixing two or more impulse responses, recreating in the digital age a technique, the multi-miking, that is a world professional studio standard.
As we know impulse responses are snapshots of an ambient response captured by a microphone/preamp chain, which mantains the eq curve of the captured moment and allows us to apply it to our sound, and this method has proven to be particularly effective with guitars and bass amp simulators, making it the best replacement for a real speaker.
Another interesting characteristic of impulses is that they can be also captured from a song, and applied to our chain to "steal" part of their sound (here is a tutorial on how to do it).

What we are talking about today is blending together the sound of two or more impulses recreating what producers are doing by decades: if one microphone only takes part of the total sound let's mix and match more than one in order to capture the full spectrum.

The first thing is to check out if there is any phasing issue: the best paid impulse packs are usually phase coherent, but if we are mixing impulses found in different sources or the free ones it's better to make sure that one impulse is not putting the other out of phase.

Once we are sure that our impulses are phase coherent we need to load an impulse loader that allows to use multiple impulses, for example the free Ignite Amps NadIR, which allows to load two impulses, or the paid Redwirez MixIR 2, which allows to load many more.

My suggestion is to start with one impulse that we really like; the first one is really important because it will be the fundament of our tone, then find out what is lacking (if anything), for example "in the mix the guitar sounds too dark", or "the mid frequences are not focused" and so on, and then try to apply some of the classic microphone techniques used by the famous studios (the three most common are listed here) or to experiment with some new one: the idea is to compensate and enhance the first tone with a second impulse that captures it from a different angle, then you blend this second impulse in, rising or lowering its volume, and then adjust the whole guitar track (or buss) volume in order to fit it perfectly in the mix.

The two microphones technique is very popular in studios everywhere because it widens enormously the scope of sounds we can achieve, and it's interesting to see how some producer likes to add more and more microphones (even 8 or 10!), but beware, because the more microphones (or impulses) you add, the more you need to be good, otherwise the sound will rapidly become cloudy and unmanageable.

Let us know your favourite multi-Ir techniques!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Review: Blackstar HT50 with video sample

Hello and welcome to this week's article! 
Today we are going to take a look to a review, done by our good friend Edoardo Del Principe, of the interesting Blackstar HT 50 Head: let's see what he 

Blackstar produces some of the best bang for the buck amp heads in the world, they are really flexible in order to put the final choice of what voice an amp must have to the players.

I have bought the head 5-6 weeks ago, so I had the time to understand the potential of this device.

First of all you have to know that the Blackstar HT50 is sold around 600$ new, so it’s not a first class head but it has several pros as cons. Why should you try it?

A head with multiple amps inside

The Blackstar HT serie works as a stamina cell which is not already specialized in something but that can works fine for everything thanks to the ISF knob and two channels.

The ISF Knob is the most misterious tool for most the guitarist who have tried these amps, what does it do really? You can choice between two type of regulation: one is “american” one is “british” and you can balance the presence of each one or have it full on. Turning the knob into “american” you boost low-mid frequences, while turning into “british” you boost mid-high frequences.

In order to hear the difference you must turn the mids in the EQ near 7-8 o’clock, then the two kinds of “boost” becomes more evident. This allow you to have a more Mesa-ish sound or a more Marshall-ish one, or, as the company says “tons of sounds in the middle”. It can be used without cab with the speaker emulated output putting the head in stand-by mode too, so it’s good even for home purposes. As said it’s quite inexpensive compared to other models, it so could be a nice start.

It’s not extreme

Sure this amp wouldn’t be my first choice for Death Metal. At least could be used for thrashy stuff but its level of saturation it’s not as high as the genre requires. You can play with crunchy stuff or boost it a little more, but at the end you’ll never have a full compact sound with granitic low-mids and sharp trebles as an ENGL does. It is more suggested to classic heavy metal players, hard rock or stoner rock. It can assure the brilliance of the modern Marshalls with a deep and warm sound, with obviously significant differences in tone qualities, if you compare it for example with a JCM800.

Is it Pedal Friendly?

In my opinion this kind of amps are created to have a solid base for your pedals. The footswitch can select lead/clean channel and reverb. The lead channel also features a gain boost button to give it an extra gain for heavy metal sounds. It works great if you want improve the lead channel with a booster or adding delays and modulations in the loop.
It works great also with the clean channel, it has only two knobs: tone and “volume” that control everything you need. The “volume” knob adds volume from 7 to 12 o’clock and a bit of gain from 12 to 6 o’clock, the tone modulates the depth and brightness of the sound. The clean channel is really pedal friendly. The master volume is the same for both channels, they work separate just in the gain section and clean mode, this helps to have an even output for both channels.

Is the ISF knob really useful?

The more you are going to use more tone-related pedals, more the IFS knob starts to lose importance on your equalization because from your pedalboard you are going to boost different frequences. The more you use OD, Fuzz, etc the more the ISF knob can result. If your tone comes only from the Blackstar HT50 it is a really usuful tool, but if you add stuff it loses its purpose quick. At the end you can manage a clean channel with various types of high gain pedals and fx and use a separate high gain channel based only on the amp. This can allow you to have several choices to find your perfect tone and the ISF could be crucial or insignificant, but it’s not its fault!


- Flexibile head, useful for several purposes

- Great for working with pedals

- Good Quality to Price ratio

- Speaker emulated output


- Lack of a separate EQ for each channel

- Lack of a boost stompbox in the switch to add extra gain, you have to choose it first, before you play.

- Not too heavy but very large.

- ISF knob could be useless for someone

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Delay Battle: Line6 Echo Park vs Boss DD7 vs Tc Electronic Flashback Part 2/2


The quality of sound cames first.

Boss DD7
: It has both digital and analog functions with a “modulation” mode that adds a little bit of chorus. They all sounds really good, the analog functions is, according to the manual, “really close to the DD2 sound”. You can ear a bit of degradation of the signal, which gives to the sound a particular color: it’s not that you lose much signal, it must be clear, but the analog mode gives a warmer and soft delay.

Line6 Echo Park
: It’s a solid hammer if you need just a delay pedal with tons of functions and a lot choices in order to create weird sounds, but definitely it doesn’t have the best sound in the world. You lose always a little bit of signal, and this is bad in any case. Another bad thing is that the “trails” can leave a fuzzy noise in the background, so it’s not true bypass either. “Trails” mode is used to have the functions of the pedal a little bit on even if it’s bypassed. So your delays works a little more after you switched to another pedal. Could be a good weapon, coud be useless, just set it on “off” and you will have no problems at all.

Tc Electronic Flashback: Oh, dear God, the Tape effect it’s ridiculously good. The overall sound of both digital and analog mode is awesome and there isn’t any signal loss. It has also the “Tone Print” function, which gives to you the possibility to link the pedal to your PC and download prestes chosen from a library of artists that uses this pedals. If you have a lazy ass this is your pedal.

I want to experiment new possibilities.

Boss DD7: Short and long delays can be crafted easily and the reverse mode is nice, but the device lacks the fact that you can’t control how much of your original signal to blend. At the end it’s a significant limitation. It is really easy to understand how the pedal works and creates a delay that works for you. It’s not a spacemachine, but a really solid pedal with usefull functions.

Line6 Echo Park: This is a weird guy. Sometimes there are more knobs that what you need, sometimes you feel like the whole world is in your hands. You can choose first if you want a digital, analog or a tape kind of delay, then you choose the modes. It has unique functions as the “Swell” (adds an auto volume swell along with your echoes) and the “Sweep” (adds a nasty filter that squeeze your feedback). You can go really in depth with this toy but it’s not easy to understand, it requires a little bit of time to be understood in its wholeness.

Tc Electronic Flashback: Its point of strenght is the “Tone Print” function, it opens to new features and gives you the power to set the delay exactly as other famous players did.


Boss DD7

Avarage price as new in the market 140$ (90-100$ used)

Pros: Analog mode sounds great. True bypass with any loss of signal. Works great for both long and short delay

Cons: Lack of Dry/wet mix control. Without an external Boss footswitch the tap tempo could be a little bit complicated.

Line6 Echo Park

The production is discontinued, so you can find it used from 60 to 100$

Pros: It has unique modes. You can select tape, analog or digital sound. Mixing time and repetions knobs creates weird sounds and textures, so it can work fine even for synths. Super-easy tap tempo. You can go really in depth in every feature.

Cons: It can create some signal loss (some of Echo Parks has an internal boost switch to avoid that). The “Trails” function makes the pedal not completly bypassed. A little bit more complicated to understand than the others. To bypass the pedal you have press the stombox harder, it can be annoying.

Tc Electronic Flashback

Avarage price as new in the market is 160$ (100-120$ used)

Pros: Tape Echo sounds otherworldy. The unit has looping function. Tone Print mode gives to this guy a lot more possibilities, reverse mode is excellent. Really small pedal.

Cons: It’s a bit more expensive than the others. The tap tempo mode could be improved, this is why many users have switched to the “x4” version.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Delay Battle: Line6 Echo Park vs Boss DD7 vs Tc Electronic Flashback Part 1/2

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today our good friend Edoardo del Principe will share with us a comparison between the three most known delay pedals on the market: Line6 Echo Park, Boss DD7 and Tc Electronics Flashback.
The analysis will be made by comparing the three devices under several points of view.

Out there there are tons of delays with tons of modes, knobs, delay times etc and I was really confused (I still am a little bit now) of what works for me. I went to a local shop to try those that are in my opinion the three most complete single-stompbox delay pedals in the market. This is my guide to show you which one is the best.

I need an easy tap tempo mode:

Boss DD7: The two seconds press-release and following taps is the most unconfortable way to have tap tempo when you are live. Maybe with a lot of practice it becomes easier but if you are searching something more straightforward in my opinion it’s not the best choice

Line6 Echo Park: The Tap Tempo mode is tricky because it is always on. The only way to turn it off is by pressing the footswitch a little harder until you hear a “click” sound. I really suggest to use it with a switch/looper, having keeping it always on an then tapping it lightly for tempos, just one tap to have it on with the looper and the others to give it the tempo.

Tc Electronic Flashback: The Tap Tempo here could be awesome for someone and really negative for others. With this pedals you have to press the stompbox and play the guitar in the tempo you want, then you release it. The pedal catches the signal from the guitar and gives to you the delay with your tempo.

I want to create textures with the looping function:

Boss DD7
: The pedal does not have a real looping mode, but it has the “hold” mode which is a brief loop that holds literally what you are playing. This can be used to create textures and add layers, could works fine for short loops.

Line6 Echo Park: The Line 6 Echo Park doesn’t have a loop mode, but if you give it a lot of repetitions under the “Ducking” mode with the “trails” on you can work with that as a little cool loop to expand your riffs into new layers. The “Ducking” mode it’s a delay that starts only when you finish to play the riff.

Tc Electronic Flashback: It has a real loop mode which works great, having a loop machine in that really small space can save space in your pedalboard.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to create the Lo-Fi / phone line / old radio effect when mixing or mastering

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to see how to obtain that "lo-fi" effect, that often is present in many songs to create movement: it's a very effective way to lower the dynamics of the track before making it explode again, and it can be heard at the second 30 of the song above.

Let's start by saying that this effect can be used on any instrument, but it's very popular on a single rhythm guitar track, or on vocals, or even during mastering the whole song (obviously it's important to use this tool with parsimony, because it is easy to overuse it and to make it sound boring).

The idea is to do create a very narrow eq filter in order to make it sound as it is coming from an old radio, basically only the mid frequences must be heard (so that when this effect finishes the low and the high end comes back in producing a very impactful effect).

In this image I have used a low pass and a high pass filter to narrow down the frequences, and at the same time I have created a sligh boost in the mid area, to increase even more the effect, but it's not mandatory.

Once we have our lo-fi part perfectly carved down we can play even more if we want by adding some other effect, like a slight phaser (as in the song above), or by damaging the part even more with some saturation, as it can be heard in some Linkin Park song, or some bit crushing, as it can be heard in some classic Muse song.

Have fun with this interesting tool and let us know what do you think about it!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

How not to be a Stompbox Addict Part 3/3


At this point of the article you are almost out of the pedal addiction, you know in the bottom of your heart that all those pedalboards are quite useless and just a way to show how big the ego of that guitaris is. You know your hands make the real difference and that is better to put money into a solid instrument and a good amp and not into boutique pedals. But you still need a freakin pedal. Well, this is the guide.

  • Take the best from what you have and improve your imagination. As said before maybe you don’t need a Reverb if your amp head has one, maybe you don’t need a distortion pedal too if the amp head sounds nice to your ears or at least try to have decent tone working on the knobs regulation before saying it’s crap.

  • Go to one or more of your local shop instrument and try different kind of pedals / If you have a lazy ass try a multieffect of one of your friend to understand well how the various kind of pedals work alone and together.

  • Project your pedalboard from the beginning in order to know how many and what kind of pedals you need.

  • When you know what kind of pedal you need just start searching online all the features of the various brands. Maybe find some comparison video on youtube to understand better the differences and what they do.

  • Try the pedal between your amp and your instrument, pedals don’t have ANY sound, they just modify the signal between the instrument and the amplification, so don’t trust just Youtube videos.

  • Don’t buy the cheapest/don’t buy the most expensive. Saving money doesn’t mean you have to waste them into awful pedals.

  • Buy with your ears, not with your eyes! No one cares if you have digital or analog pedals, or if they are built in Japan or Indonesia, no ones give a fuck! They must sound good to you.


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