Monday, March 28, 2011
This product review is from a company I get super geeked out excited about every time they introduce something new, T.C. Electronics. This time they have got into the boutique guitar pedal market with a whole new series of floor effects. They have they Flashback Delay, Vortex Flanger,Hall of Fame Reverb, Shaker Vibrato, Mojo Overdrive and the one I am reviewing, the Corona Chorus. T.C. is taking on the high end pedal market with these. They are very affordable, as far as top end pedals are concerned, and are very high quality. I am sure most of you remember when I reviewed the T.C. "Polytune" and how blown away I was by it. It happened again with this pedal. Let's get the specs of the pedal out of the way first. I took these from the manual that came with the pedal.
The pedal itself is made of a metal frame, painted awesome green.It has white knobs to control speed, depth, fx level and tone. It has a small toggle switch to switch between chorus, toneprint, and tri chorus. It has a stereo in (which you don't see too often) and stereo out 1\4 inch plugs. You can still just use one for in and out for mono. The back of the pedal has the dc 9 volt 100ma adapter plug and a usb cable in port. The bottom has a thumb/ screw to get to the battery. Inside here there is switches for true bypass, buffered bypass and a kill/dry on and off switch.
When testing the pedal I played through and Egnater Tweeker with a Berkshire guitar. I played with my normal distortion settings first. I also used no other pedals in the chain while testing this. I tried it first with the toggle all the way up on chorus. It sparkled. It is avery clean chorus. I ways playing through a 1 12 cabinet and it sounded like a stack! I had all the knobs at 12 o clock. Messing with the depth and speed knobs changes things alot. The speed seems to have more range than an average chorus pedal and the depth seems to be alot "deeper" too. You can get a wide range of sounds. From a slow sweeping ( and boy does it sweep) to a high paced frantic "alarm" sound. Switching to making the amp clean make the chorus come out even more. I could make the pedal go from a very accurate replication of Metallica's "Welcome Home Sanitarium" sound to anything that I wanted.
I tried the "Toneprint" mid toggle switch next. What Toneprint does is allow you to download via http://www.tcelectronics.com/pedals
to download different superstar guitar players different pre sets to the pedal. I thought at first this would be a task for me. I am VERY bad at doing things like this when companies come out with these things. I found it very easy to do. I just hooked up the usb cable to the pedal and my computer and just followed the instructions and it was a breeze! That's why I love T.C. stuff. They make it user friendly. I did the Bumblefoot, from the current Guns and Roses line up, and a guy I have never heard of called Gutherie Govan Colin (who I know do know....and he is crazy good!). I dug their sounds. The thing for me is I actually got it to work! When you get this pedal try it!
The next setting was the Tri Chorus which is the toggle set all the way down. I tried this one out for a little bit. What Tri Chorus is is a variation of the regular chorus that has three stereo choruses with various off sets for depth, speed, phase and chorus delay time. You get a ton of different sounds from this. So many in fact that in the time that I had the pedal to test, I did not get to all this feature can do. There are some really unique and far out sounds that you can do on this setting. It's not who I am as a player. I can see someone like Will Duckworth, from Radar Cinema, really getting the most from this feature of the pedal.
Let's jump back for a second to what the bypass and kill/dry stuff do that is inside the pedal. I thought these features are great even though I did not use them. According to the manual true bypass is best used when you only have a few pedals and short cords before and after the pedals. Buffered bypass is best used when you have a lot of pedals and long cables before and after the pedals. They say when you use this just buffer the first and last pedal in your chain and it should help improve your tone/sound. Certain factors like active/passive pick ups, cable quality, amp impedance , etc, are a factor. I am curious to hear from anyone who has used this. With buffered by pass you should have kill/dry on. Kill/Dry removes all direct signal from the pedal out put and is the mode to use when the pedal is in a parallel effects loop. Kill/Dry is not an option when using true bypass.
When checking this pedal out I compared it to my favorite chorus, the Boss Super Chorus. Boss to me is the standard for quality. They always last a long time and they are almost always good pedals. The T.C. Corona Chorus is making me retire the Boss. My favorite setting was just on plain chorus. There is so much to this pedal it is going to appeal to a wide range of players is a wide range of playing styles. The pedal is made by T.C. Electronics so you know it is a quality pedal that is going to last a while. Now I am going to have to start comparing the other pedals I review to T.C. ones! We just got a bunch of these in at Rock Bottom and a couple other T.C. ones so come check them out and hear for yourself!!!
check it out from tc electronics youtube page at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC6EcWxCSm0
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This edition of "Spotlight Licks" is brought to you by yours truly, John Berret. As a guitar teacher in Augusta Georgia, I figured it was time I added one, so here we go. This is based off the A minor Diatonic scale. It walks up the high E and the B string. This is a very common metal-ish lick. In the vain of Kirk Hammett or Zakk Wylde. It is one measure of each little "position" and it is played as sixteenth notes.In the video I play it slow and then at a faster speed. Start off slow and PICK EVERY NOTE! I will have some later on that use pull offs and hammer ons that are similar to this. Above the tab I have the chords that will go along with it, if you want to have someone play with you or record them. Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUzSuC9dylM&feature=channel_video_title
Just click on the tab and it will appear bigger for you. Have fun and shred it up!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This is something I have been wanting to cover for a while. As a musician AND a sound engineer I see both sides and the mistakes people make when setting up for a show. The first thing you need to know about doing a sound check is when load in time is. Before your gig find out what time you need to be loading your equipment in and get setting up. Once you get your stuff in, find out where you need to set up. Find where your electrical outlets are too. If you are anyone but a singer or drummer you need to bring yourself a multi-plug and \or electrical cord to get yourself power where you need it. Most places should have a place to plug in your pedals but alot don't. I hear time and time again as a soundman " Can I get a electric cord from you?" Sometimes a soundman will, but always have one so that you got yourself covered. Next is to find out when soundcheck is. Once you are told what time it is DO NOT BE LATE! I have seen bands be so late they were kicked off the show. You want to be on time so that the sound engineer can get everything sounding good and iron out any problems that come up. A good sound person wants you to sound good. They take pride in it. Now that you are set up it is normal for you to play a little bit and get your sound right and get a feel of how the room sounds. You DO NOT want to keep jammin like you are playing the show. You get a feel , get your sound right, levels right and be done. Nothing screams "first timer" more than "guy who jams like hes at a show while setting up dude". If you are on stage while the sound tech is running mics and cords it is bad taste to be jammin. It is REALLY BAD TASTE to be jamming real loud or pounding on a drummer while he/she is putting a mic on said cabinet or drum. Save the techs ear drums while he/she is near your instrument. Now everything is mic'd up and your are officially ready for sound check. They tech asks you to do something. If you are a drummer he goes through one by one of every drum that is mic'd up. Example: if they start on your kick drum you play a nice steady beat as hard as you would when you will be playing that night. That gives the tech what he needs to get proper e.q. and levels. He will do that to every drum that's mic'd, then ask you to play the whole kit. When you play the whole kit play something steady and go through everything on your kit. In each of these scenarios you play until the sound tech tells you to stop. For guitars, keys, bass set your stage volume ( the volume you set your amp to play on) and wait and see if that is the volume the sound tech needs it at. Alot of times guitar players put their volume way too loud than is needed. Remember you want the band to sound good as a whole, not just you. If you are asked to turn your stage volume down , do it. Just ask for more in the monitors ( we will get to them soon). For anyone with a vocal mic, when it's your turn to get check, sing like you are going to be singing that night. Don't get up there and yell, be too quiet or do death metal growls ( if you aren't doing them that night). You want him to get you dialed in at a level that you will be heard at your performance. Next you will be asked to play as a band, to make sure everything sounds good as a whole or you will be asked to do a monitor check. When it's time to do monitors you need to think of everything, before you get up there, that you will need to hear. If you don't need to hear everyone sing back ups, don't put them in your monitor. You don't want to clutter up your monitor sound with things that you don't need. Put what is important to you in the monitor. Example: if you need to hear the lead singer you have him sing while you play a little bit so that you can hear it. If its too low a volume ask for more. If you don't play while it is getting sent to your monitor have the level set a little bit past where its loud without anything playing. That way when playing starts it can be heard. You do this for every monitor and for everything you will need in your monitor. You will also come across times where every monitor gets the same thing ran to it instead of each monitor being different. If that is the case you have to compromise as a band as to what will get heard onstage. Only put what is most needed for everyone. If you run too many things through the monitor things will get jumbled up and you will hear nothing. After all monitors are checked run through a song or two and make sure everything is as good as it can get. Make sure you can hear what you need to hear and everyone is happy. Most of the time things won't be perfect. You get it as good as you can. The MOST IMPORTANT sound is the one the audience is hearing. You might think is sounds like garbage on stage but in the crowd it is blazing! Remember a sound tech is like a member of your band for the night. They want it to sound as good as you do. Treat them like a member, buy them a drink and be polite. They will have you rockin the stage like Jimi Hendricks at Woodstock!!! Winning!!! So drink some "Tiger's Blood" get your "Adonis D.N.A.", get a sound check and rock the house!!!!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
A guitar pick is not something you would put at the top of your list in importance. The truth is it is very important. You ask any professional player and they will tell you it is. Your pick is as important as your guitar and amp. I know when I dont have my Dunlop "Gator Grip" 1.5 mm picks, I dont play as well. I tried many picks before I came to the conclusion that those were the right picks for me. I started out with Fender Medium picks. After I got somewhat good, I would shred these picks to pieces. I would also wear a hook into them. Playing metal music I was constantly using fast alternate picking and alot of tremolo picking in my leads. I needed something that could withstand the punishment. I tried going to Fender Heavy picks, Dunlop "Turtles", the big triangle picks and many others before I got to the Gator Grips. Once I found the gator grips I found something that felt good in my fingers. I started out using the .75 mm. I tore through them. I kept going up in gauges until I settled at the 1.5 mm. I even went up to the 2 mm. They were too thick. I have used that same style pick now for 12 years. I would recommend to any player to go out and buy a bunch of different gauge, different material, different brand and different shape pick. Try each one for a while and pick what feels best to you. There are many different brands to choose from like Fender, Dunlop, D 'Andrea to name a few. They are made from many different materials like plastic, rubber, felt,wood, metal, glass and stone. Plastic is the most common material used and there are many types ofplastic used like celluloid, nylon,tortex, acetel,ultem, lexan and acrylic. They come commonly shaped in rounded base triangles but can come round or as big triangles. They come in different gauges as well with "extra light " being less than .44 mm, light being .45-.69 mm, medium being .7-.84 mm, heavy being.85-1.2 mm, and extra heavy being anything above 1.2 mm. Go out and get yourself a bunch of different brand, gauges,material picks and see what works best for you. You will see it making playing better for you when you find " The One" !! Heck, you can even go and get your own personalised picks with your name and logo on it and feel like a rock star! So go and "Choose A Guitar Pick."
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Finding a studio
Over the past couple of years, I've noticed a number of area bands hitting up local/regional studios to record their music. More than once they have come out with a sub-par product, having paid too much for a service they could have undoubtedly done themselves. However, just because you can do it yourself, doesn't necessarily mean you should.
Let's begin with what you expect the outcome to be. What is a reasonable goal? Don't think to yourself, "I'm going to record locally and it's going to sound like a million bucks drenched in the warm thick sounds of Europe's most prestige studios such as Abbey Road Studios." It’s NOT happening here. I’ll repeat, it’s not going to happen here. There are no studios in Augusta, GA that produce elite, high fidelity recordings. In order to get that kind of production, it requires far more money than 99% of area bands will ever make in sales to recover their expenses. This is largely because there just isn’t that kind of demand here for studios like in Atlanta or Nashville. The most successful business model here for a studio is for doing voice overs, radio commercials, and perhaps even recording local church groups. Recording a local band’s 5 song demo or even a full-length album won’t pay the bills. They just can’t charge enough. No one would bother because there’s always Guy Man Dude down the street with a computer and will do it for a fraction of the price.
So how much does good studio gear cost?
1. Microphones-- An excellent quality vocal mic can cost near $10,000. How many mics does it take to mic a full drum kit correctly? Depending on the genre of music, it could take 12-14!
2. The building, room, and acoustics-- One aspect that makes most professional recordings sound so great are the rooms they are recorded in. I’m not talking about throwing up some egg-crates or that cool looking foam you see all the time. I mean you design and build the room from the ground up to have the best sounding acoustics. It’s expensive, by design.
3. The heavy gear (preamps, etc)-- This is where you plug all those expensive mics. The mixing desks in a studio are not the same ones you use for live sound. These are designed to perform well in a controlled environment. The preamps have tons of headroom, a high signal to noise ratio (meaning you can turn the gain up and hear even quiet breaths without picking up much noise), and they might even “color” the sound in a certain way. The consoles you might see in a great studio probably cost over $100,000.
4. Monitors-- These are the main speakers you mix on. They are extremely expensive. Great monitors can run up to $20,000 per pair. What could be more important than the speakers on which you are making every decision while mixing a band’s album?
5. Accessories-- Good headphones, headphone distribution amps, cables, and miscellaneous instruments are all necessary in even the most basic studio. And let’s not forget about the guy behind the board.
Now all this expensive gear will do nothing without someone that knows how to use it. The same goes for the small studios, and there are a lot of them. Some sound amazing considering the equipment they have, and that’s because the person running the show knows what they are doing. You can definitely make great sounding records on equipment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. However … (and this is very important for anyone thinking of going into the studio) … THE BAND/PERFORMER ALREADY SOUNDED GREAT BEFORE HE/SHE/THEY STEPPED INTO THAT STUDIO. That goes for your performance and your equipment. Most high-end studios have great gear on hand that they can use because they don’t trust that the musicians gear will be setup properly for recording, and most of the time it won’t be. We’ve all heard it a million times, and it’s very true when it comes to recording... you can not polish a turd. Moreover, a small project studio WILL NOT fix all your mistakes for the amount of money you are paying them. The people recording Shinedown or Dream Theater go through a lot of time editing and fixing mistakes. This is actually common knowledge. These guys are good, but they are not flawless. The studio engineers make them sound perfect, but you aren’t paying a project studio enough money to fix all your mistakes. So they’ll leave them. There’s no incentive whatsoever to get you to redo it or for them to spend the time fixing it. Why not? You are probably paying them per song (or some sort of package deal) instead of by the hour. If you were paying by the hour, they would probably have you do as many takes as it takes to get the parts right.
But there’s a great solution! Remember I mentioned you most certainly CAN get a great album without paying a ridiculous amount of money? You can do that by LEARNING YOUR CRAFT. Before your band goes into the studio, each member should be able to play those songs backwards and forwards without mistakes. The studio is not the place to learn proper technique to be able to play what you’re intending to play. Do that on your time when it’s free, not in the studio!
That is all for now... later there will be more detail on finding a project/small studio that fits your needs. This was mostly for perspective. Stay tuned... or in tune.