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    My musical 2016 in retrospect


    2016 - 12.27

    Well 2016 is drawing to a close at last and I think I can speak for many people in saying it was a downright lousy year, to put it nicely.  There’s a lot I could complain about but I’m trying to stay focused on the positive.  I’ve been playing a bunch of music and that’s been one of the best things going on in my life this year.  For my own clarity/later reference I compiled a list of the effects pedals I’ve been renting from Pedal Genie and I figured why not post it here.  The list is organized by the date of the shipment of the rental pedals, and includes the list of recording sessions I held during the time I was using those pedals.  I had 21 multi-track recording sessions in 2016 with the last 4 of those recorded in 24bit/96kHz which is something I’ve always wanted to do, recently enabled by a PC upgrade to the recording rig.  We also had 1 live show and 1 video shoot with a live cameraman.  From that video shoot came my personal favorite cornet performance of the year (in terms of expressiveness and execution), on “I Thought It Was You” by Herbie Hancock.  Check it out:

    List of effects pedals on rental and associated recording sessions:

    10/28/16 sessions: Acropolis 11/13 (Hang Up/96k) || Super Risky Clique 11/27 || Fistbump III 12/11
    Strymon BigSky Reverberator
    Catalinbread Heliotrope
    Empress Phaser

    7/7/16 sessions: Acropolis 7/17 (Instant Ice) || Stretch Coast 8/13 (Disco Fred) || POACB 8/14 (Fiddy) || Fistbump II 10/23
    DOD Gonkulator Ring Mod
    Source Audio SA241 Lunar Phaser
    Keeley Super Mod Workstation

    5/2/16 sessions: YVJ trio 5/14 || JJP trio 5/21 || Scalding 6/11 || POACB 6/25 (Brain) || Fistbump 7/2 (America)
    Moog Minifooger MF Flange
    Pigtronix EP2 Envelope Phaser
    Dr Scientist The Tremoloessence

    3/2/16 sessions: Extraterrestrial 3/13 || Acropolis 4/9 (scrapped) || POACB 4/10 (Seahorse Carol)
    Boss TE-2 Tera Echo
    Moog MF Ring Mod
    Keeley 6 Stage Phaser

    12/4/15 sessions: Acropolis 12/6 (Fallbrook), 1/24, 1/31 (P-996) || Bok 1/17 || POACB 1/30 (Monsieur) || Phosphene 2/21
    TC Electronics HOF Reverb
    Source Audio SA126 Bass Envelope

    9/28/15 sessions: Antidote 11/15
    Walrus Audio Janus Tremolo Fuzz
    Electro Harmonix Bad Stone Phaser+
    Mad Professor Snow White Bass Autowah

    7/3/15 sessions: Acropolis 7/24, 8/9, 8/23 (Telemetry), 9/27 (dub)
    Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl
    Infanem Small Echo Array
    Red Panda Particle Delay

    5/11/15 sessions: 100% Juice 5/15, 5/22 (Beatles), 6/27-28 || Acropolis 5/14, 6/11
    Electro Harmonix Super Pulsar Tremolo
    SolidGoldFX Funkzilla Envelope+

    4/3/15 sessions: 100% Juice 4/3 (RC), 4/25 (Hollywood) || Acropolis 4/23, 5/7  || Fresh Squeezed 4/18
    SolidGoldFX Apollo Phaser+
    Voodoo Lab Wahzoo

    3/2/15 sessions: 100% Juice 3/14 (Sunset Drink)
    TC Electronics Flashback x2 Delay
    Caroline Icarus Boost
    Fulltone Clyde Delux Wah

    2001: A Space Funk Odyssey


    2016 - 05.02

    Triumphant AF. Officially endorsed viewing here:

    Electric Trumpet pedalboard snapshot: 3/29/16


    2016 - 04.12

    Electric Trumpet setup from 3-13-16

    It occurred to me that it’s been a long time since I’ve done an update on the electric trumpet pedalboard and posted about it on here, although I’ve been busy using it. A few aspects of the setup have evolved since I posted the last signal chain and there’s been many rental pedals in the interim as well.

    Here’s the chain, as of March 2016:

    Boss OC-2 octave
    Eventide Pitchfactor
    Source Audio SA143 bass envelope
    Morley Power Wah
    Damage Control Liquid Blues
    Malekko BIT sample rate reducer
    Keeley 6-stage Phaser (rental)
    Moog Minifooger Ring Modulator (rental)
    A/B splitter
    A chain:

    Line 6 DL4 delay modeler/looper
    Maestro PH-1 Phaser
    Moog Bass MuRF
    TC Electronic Flashback delay
    Line 6 MM4 modulation modeler

    B chain:

    Boss TE-2 Tera Echo (rental)
    Damage Control Glass Nexus

    I moved the OC-2 back to first in the chain because it needs a raw signal to track well. The Pitchfactor can still track the output while the OC-2’s active just fine, although the inverse is not true. The purple envelope is new and it rocks. More on that…

    The Source Audio SA143 Pro Bass Envelope:

    At last, this is the envelope that I’ve been searching for. It’s got a fast, responsive filter, a ton of variability thanks to the knobs, and I can save six presets. These presets are valuable because like the SolidGoldFX Funkzilla, this pedal includes an LFO (oscillator) which can control the filter. That makes for a lot of possibilities.

    The Source Audio SA163 pro bass envelope filter

     

    Source Audio found ways to bury a ton of functionality inside this pedal. The center display shows an EQ which can be used to tweak the timbre of the filter but more interestingly, if you press the two black buttons to the right of it, the function of that display changes, allowing you to access the “backpage” parameters. Most of these simply control expression input but two of them are very juicy: one, the Q of the filter which changes it from mellow to insane and two, the shape of the waveform used by the LFO. There’s a good selection of waves to choose from. I created a laserbeam sound by using a high Q and an upward sawtooth wave, a step filter (at last I have one!) by using the random waveform with a medium Q, and a third, crazy setting that sounds like beeping robots and computers by using the random waveform and a high Q. This pedal is rife with creative potential if you take the time to play with it.

    Digging deeper into the Eventide Pitchfactor:

    If there is one pedal that’s truly bottomless on my board, it’s definitely the Eventide Pitchfactor. The Pitchfactor does need some one on one time with the player before trying to use it in context if you want to milk the most interesting effects out of it though. I have taken 3 sessions now sitting down with it and creating some custom presets for myself which is really where the magic happens. Initially I covered the basics with a 5ths harmonizer, a pitchflex mode that allows for +2 octave bends with the expression pedal (which I have surprisingly used a ton), and a four part harmonizer. Second time around I added a few more basic modes and dual-delay with a long repeat time that ascends sub-chromatically in frequency each time the delays repeat, which is super unique.

    Most recently I created a few new presets that take advantage of the other modes I have not been using on this pedal. I added a synth setting although for whatever reason the synth seems to have the worst lag of all the modes in this pedal so we’ll see how useful it turns out to be. Next up was an arppegiator which might be neat in the right moment, especially looped. Finally I added another ascending delay that climbs up the whole tone scale as it repeats, inspired by a video of the Earthquaker Devices “Rainbow Machine” pedal. This whole-tone ascending thing was what I had originally set out to create when I built the previous sub-chromatic ascending delay. What I had discovered by accident was just so cool that I forgot to complete what I was actually trying to do!

    Do I like this or not? The Boss Tera Echo TE-2:

    20160311_175809

    I can’t decide what to think about this guy. It has generated a lot of buzz for a Boss pedal since the aim here was to combine reverb and delay into one pedal which was a low-cost attempt to reach for a sound like you get with the Strymon BigSky (the descendant of my Glass Nexus reverb/delay). The Tera Echo does get a “big” sound through a mono amplifier when you’re in the room with it, but since I record in stereo, direct from the pedalboard into a mixer, I can listen to it on headphones and hear exactly what it really sounds like in comparison to all the other things in my arsenal.

    Inside the headphones it’s surprisingly… small. It gives a long-trail reverb wash but in terms of stereo soundstage when you compare it to the TC electronics reverbs/delays it’s not anywhere close in grandeur. It also has some kind of bandpass bump in its frequency response that gets tiring to me after a while. You can clearly tell when the Tera Echo is in use, as opposed to the other delays/reverbs I also use. Which maybe pidgeonholes it–a distinctive sound that you can’t change all that much. I will say that it does have a killer knob twist squeal when you change the delay time knob. That was a lot of fun. But ultimately this pedal feels like too much of a one-trick pony, ‘there-it-is-again’ type of effect.

    Phaser Malaise:

    I am apparently lucky to be spoiled with exquisite phasing, since I have pitted several very high end phasers against the Maestro PH-1 and all of them fall short. The latest is the Keeley 6-stage phaser. Before that was the Electro-Harmonix Bad Stone reissue, and the SolidGoldFX Apollo. The Apollo did sound uniquely great with the random LFO driving it but again, the phasing itself clearly did not sound as good as the Maestro. In the last session I still had it, I did figure out that slow movement of the Apollo expression pedal input did yield some deep textural shifts that sounded excellent with reverb and delay giving it a wash. Idunno, I keep thinking there has to be a lusher, more Steve Miller-ish, more Tame Impala-esque phaser out there for me, but I keep trying and failing to find it. Perhaps I should be looking for a flanger or something along those lines.

    The TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb:

    Since I had such an excellent experience with the TC Flashback delay, I decided I needed to check out his partner in ethereal crime, the HOF reverb. The Flashback blew my socks off in terms of the sheer size of it’s soundscape and I would say the HOF was almost right there with it. Maybe not quite as large, but not too far behind. This pedal presents an impressive array of reverb styles, which was very fun to scroll through and try on my own, but left me with the question, how many of these would actually be distinguishable if you were changing between modes during a jam session? I suppose you could ask the same question when it comes to the Flashback’s many delay types, but I do think the differences are even more subtle when it comes to ‘verb, in the midst of an actual song.

    That said, if I didn’t already have the superb reverb of the Damage Control Glass Nexus, I’d be swayed by this pedal. Obviously many people are because I saw a recent list of the 10 top-selling pedals of 2015 and this was near the top. Deservedly so. I tell you, if TC Electronic ever made an all-in-one multi-effects unit that combined the HOF, Flashback, and a smattering of their many modulators, now that would be very difficult to resist. Multi-effects typically means an inferior version of 20 different things, but I gotta hand it to TC, they make excellent stuff.

    Moog Ring ModulatorMoog Ring Modulator:

    Ok, now this thing rocks. I have a ring mod on my Line 6 MM-4, but like everything the MM-4 does, it’s not as rich as the real McCoy of whatever effect you’re talking about. On the most recent jam as of this writing, I threw this ring mod all over the place and it produced some crazy, impressive sounds. I keep coming back to the Billy Cobham album “Spectrum” which has a ton of ring modulator on it and this Moog version comes closer to that “get him away from the knobs, he’s out of control!” type of feeling than anything the MM-4 has given me. Although that’s not a surprise given that it’s a Moog pedal. I would enjoy having this guy around full time although with great power comes great responsibility. It’s hard to use this in moderation since it’s just so goofy and fun. Maybe I should not have this much power. I’m still not sure yet.

    Walrus Audio Janus Fuzz/Tremolo:

    This pedal was a letdown for me. Obviously, its ULTRA cool looking. It’s got graphics and two huge joysticks; you take one look at it and it screams ‘how could this not kickass?!’ Well at least on the trumpet, I don’t think it kicks ass. Two reasons why: one is that I have never been a big fan of distortion/overdrive/fuzz on the horn. Unlike guitar, I think trumpet should project its natural tone and I’ve never heard a distortion that took that tone into a differently-interesting direction. This was no different. And two, the tremolo joystick control was a wasted opportunity: vertical axis controlled wet/dry and horizontal axis controlled speed. Speed is great, but damn, couldn’t they have made the vertical axis waveform shape?! That would have made this thing like 20x more interesting. Opportunity missed. I have also used a lot of tremolos and I wasn’t blown away by the sound of the trem itself. I’ll chock this one up as another example of “here’s a pedal that guitar players seem to go nuts over, but I can’t make it do anything special on trumpet”. That seems to happen a lot. You can also include in this list the Chase Audio Warped Vinyl, The Red Panda Particle Delay, and others. I know, I know. Those pedals are practically worshiped. But for me, they didn’t deliver. These are the lessons that I’m learning through Pedal Genie.

    I had also tried the Mad Professor Snow White Bass Auto Wah but found that it was both too slow in terms of speed and too tame in terms of the filter Q to give the proper tone that I wanted. Prior to that I had tried the Voodoo Labs Wahzoo which combines a wah, a step filter, and an autowah into a single package. Cool idea but again the frequency content of trumpet was not a match with what that pedal was trying to do.  Although the lowest note on a conventionally tuned guitar is E2, 82.4Hz it seems that many pedals are voiced to have the ‘meat’ of their frequency content much higher than that. In my own setup I often favor the “bass” version of a pedal if the maker has two versions.  Nowhere was this better illustrated to me than on the Voodoo Labs Wahzoo, which seemed like a very alluring treadle box on paper. However the autowah was not even able to trigger at all on the trumpet! No matter what setting I used, the autowah did literally nothing at all.

    The Infanem Small Echo Array was a unique concept–it has four separate delays which are all based off the same speed. Dialing up each of the individual four delays produces different rhythmic patterns. That was pretty neat.

    So there you have it. Tons of effects were tried, lots of things were learned and hopefully some sweet music got made along the way. I should post updates like this more often that summarize my findings (note to self). Another thing I want to do sometime soon is create a video about the macro-level philosophy of playing horn with effects and why my setup has evolved into what it is now. But that’s for another day…

    Liquid Light Show visuals: unlocked


    2016 - 04.06

    Ever since seeing it live on a gig in college at this tiny bar in La Crosse Wisconsin called the MouseTrap, I’ve always been interested in learning how to create Liquid Light Shows.  These are the psychedelic oil and water mixing of colors which often accompanied music for videos in the 60s and 70s for many rock and roll acts.  So with a bit of internet searching and the aid of this incredibly helpful tutorial video I saw on youtube, I’ve created my first attempt at visual art in this medium.  It’s nothing masterful but it’s a first step and sometimes that’s the hardest part.  I hope to do a lot more of this.  It’s pretty fun.  The music that goes along with it is a recording from my most recent recording session as of this writing and has some excellent moments with improv, ring mod,  Jungle Boogie, and the Mission Impossible Theme.  Enjoy:

     

    Something I like to do for fun…


    2011 - 09.10

    … is play along with my favorite bands.  In this case, it’s a recording of Soulive from Bear Creek in 2010.  I actually jam out to this little 2 minute segment a LOT.  I call this activity “home run derby” where I just kinda try to hit it as hard as I can, so to speak.  It’s an okay session of HRD here, although I know for certain I can top this.  I might delete this video and replace it with a cooler one in a few weeks.  Maybe, maybe not.  Anyway, here’s a 2 minute jamout!

    coming off of my recent string of awful youtube-centric videos, this could be considered the third entry in the series. This time the genre is “check out me screwing around on some musical instrument!” This one is actually semi-cool. I think I might record more of these in the future.

    Filmed with the Canon nifty fifty f/1.8 at 1.8! Should have backed up the focal point just a touch. Next time.