Some of you may wonder(and others may not) how I get the sounds that I use in my music and why I do the music at all. That is what this page is all about.
I started playing guitar when I was about 15. Back then, I played bass guitar and sang. I was in several bands and eventually became just a vocalist. Eventually, there came a time when I just got tired of band after band, band politics, and the overall waste of time that was going on in the band scene. There was the process of forming a band, rehearsal, finding gigs, and playing them(for almost no money) and then the band breaking up for one stupid reason or another.
After more than 10 yrs of the band scene, I called it quits and got married.
I had always wanted to learn how to play guitar, so I got an electric guitar but for one reason or another they often ended up being pawned. So my practice was very sporadic and not very productive.
Finally,about 10 yrs ago I acquired a piece of shit(well, it looked like it anyway) guitar. I saw an ad in the newspaper for an old Ibanez guitar for $150.00. It took me 2 minutes of playing it to decide I wanted it. It was not just an old beat up Ibanez though. It was a Ibanez custom from 1982. Because it looked ugly, I knew I could never pawn it for anything and because it played like a dream I played it a lot.
Getting a guitar that I was able to keep was just the beginning. I knew if I wanted to create my own my music, I would have practice a lot and get a computer to compose on. About 6 yrs. ago we got our 1st computer and I discovered that more than just a computer was needed. Software to record and edit was needed. Software to create backing tracks was needed. A mic was needed to add vocals.
Well, now all of those elements are in place and I can finally begin creating songs.
Now that the background picture has been painted, let me share with you the equipment I have used to make music and what I will be using in the near future.
1982 Ibanez custom - This guitar has a phase switch on it which creates a kind of slight wah sound. I used it plugged into the Korg Ampworks(see below) which was plugged directly into the computer for all of the guitar sounds on the Minijam and Minisong songs.
2010 Main Street (Telecaster copy)- This I bought brand new for a little over $125.00 and is not too bad for the price. The strings came a little high for my liking and needed some adjustment. The pickups, however have a really nice sound and make this guitar sound very bluesy. It will be used in my next blues recording.
These are pics of my newest guitar that I literally picked up yesterday(9/5/10). I have been searching a decent replacement for my Ibanez custom for awhile and figured it might be a long time before I found one and it would probably cost a lot of money. Imagine my surprise when I saw this guitar at Guitar Center and decided to play it. Wow! The guitar I played at Guitar Center was decent(It needed some setup work) but I found it within acceptable standards and it was only $200.00. How can this be? I thought. After persuading the sales guy to sell me a new for $195.00 OTD(out the door price includes tax) he brought me a brand spanking new one and we left for home.
I got home with my new guitar and proceeded to remove it from the box and plug it in. No adjustments required out of the box. Just needed tuned since it had new strings on it. Upon playing around with it, here are my findings…
Fit and finish – The action of this guitar is simply amazing for its price range. It plays nearly as good as my Ibanez Custom, keep in mind this was right out of the box. The frets are smooth and there are no flaws that I could find anywhere. In the pics above it my appear as if there are scratches, I can assure there are none. The surface was so reflective that it reflected everything around and that is what you see in the pics. Pictures do not do this guitar justice by any means. The color is Transparent Red Burst but it really looks more like a dark burgundy, very classy.
The Sound – The stock pickups are not great, however, they are also not bad. I have heard much worse and can say that these will stay for a while. The neck pickup I actually like better than the one on my Ibanez Custom, however the bridge pickup leaves a little to be desired. I found it a little more distorted than a typical Ibanez pickup. Perhaps when my equipment(amps and effects) are adjusted for it, I may come to like it more.
The Controls – I am sure most people are wondering why I would even add this and the answer is simple. The controls on this guitar are not what anyone would expect to find on a less than $200.00 guitar. In fact, you would probably have spent something like $600.00 and up to get this kind of setup.
The guitar has 2 volume controls(one for each pickup), one tone control and a pickup selector switch. Sounds simple enough, right? However, it can some things I did not anticipate when I bought it. Having two volume controls adds a lot of flexibility to the range of sounds you can get because in the middle pickup position you can blend how much you want coming from each of the pickups. This obviously gives you more versatility in the range of sounds you can get. Furthermore, there is another unique thing you can do with the volume knobs. If you turn either volume knob completely down and then change from the neck or bridge position while playing it completely shuts down all sound. Thus with a volume knob turned completely down and wiggling the pickup selector switch from middle to neck or bridge position you get an effect that I have never been able replicate on any guitar, other than my old Ibanez Custom( which was made possible by my new wiring of it).
Looks like I found a worthy replacement for my Ibanez Custom and it can now be retired.:) You can learn more about this guitar here.
This is my new amp. It is a Peavey Vypyr 15. When you only play and record at home, the value of an amp is limited and perhaps might considered as not needed at all. However, it does have its merits which may not be obvious at first. Firstly, there is literally nothing that sounds exactly like a guitar being played through a real amp. Effects boxes and computers, speakers and even clean amps just do not reproduce the drive, the volume, or the feel of an amp. Playing through a real amp makes you play differently, it is just the nature of the beast.:)
When you have an amp you can just sit down and play.This leads to finding new ideas, remaking old ones, and discovering new ways to play. There is no substitute for the spontaneity and creativity involved in that.
I chose this amp because of its versitility. I can get practically any sound I desire and many I have never considered.:) This allows me to re-think old things and come at things in a different ways. At only $100.00 this amp it pretty much a no-brainer. For something that can make you sound like any sound you want, it is a worth while investment.
As for recording with it, I am not sure I will ever do that. Not because it would make bad recordings( I am certain from watching youtube videos that is records quite well) but because I would have to move it; it is larger and heavier than I expected. Having to move it out of the bedroom would ruin its sole purpose that it was purchased for..to sit down and play.
Speaking of sitting down and playing it, I have a setting that I just love right now, for doing that. I set it on the 6505 amp setting(clean, green) and use the tubescreamer with params set to 12 o’ clock. No delay and the reverb up half way. The tubescreamer sucks just enough lows out of the 6505 amp to give you a balanced tone with nice, creamy distortion. If you buy this amp, give it a try.. you can come back and thank me anytime.
If you want to learn more about Vypyr amps, go here.
This I use in my home computer recordings. I run a guitar effects box/amp modeller through a small clean amplifier,into some 3-way Aiwa speakers to monitor sound. The amplifier is a Pyle pro PCA1. To learn more about it, you can check it out here.
I do not use a lot of effects, mostly just a little reverb and sometimes a slight chorus, both come directly from my Guitar Tracks Pro software. However, I do use amp modelers and here is info about that.
Korg AmpworksG- This is basically an amp modeller with some built-in effects. They no longer make it though. They quit making it when Korg and Vox joined together to create the Vox Valvetronix amps. This has exactly the same models as those amps. The only difference is that Vox added a tube in the pre-amp to give the amps a tube tone. You can get the same out of this though if you add a little more bass to the eq when you record. If you can find one these for sale, grab it while you can (you will have to look really hard to find one). You can go here to learn more about this amazing little amp modeller.
Digitech RP 155- I recently acquired this one and have not used it for any recordings yet. However, after playing through extensively, I have found it sounds very tubey-ish, making it good for classic rocks sounds and excellent for blues. You can learn more here.
Zoom G1 Effects Pedal- This has nice amp modelers also and it fairly cheap to get. It also does not take up a lot of space. It has better and more modern sounding amp models. If you want to learn more about it, you can go here.
Danolectro Cd-1 Distortion Pedal- I got this looking for a distortion that was a bit different from every one out there and this fit the bill nicely. It is decent and does what I need it for. If you want to learn more, go here.
Guitar Tracks Pro- I use this software for all of my recording and mixing. Either guitar run directly or through a amp or pedal, straight into this. Once something is recorded, I cut unneeded parts off, adjust volume levels, and add effects(reverb and chorus) if desired. I then output to wave and use a file converter(Switch free version) to change it to mp3 format. You go to here to learn more about Guitar Tracks Pro.
Cubase 5-I have not used this for any recordings yet. Still having some problems with it that will probably be fixed once I change to the Windows 7 OS. It seems to have a lot under the hood though. If you want to learn more, go here.
Fruity Loops Studio- I have not recorded with this yet, however, the song I am working on currently, the entire backing track was created in this program. I have the demo version which does not allow saving, however, it does allow you to render to wave. So basically you have to create the backing track in one sitting and then render it. Since my computer almost never crashes this works fine for me. Once a backing track is rendered to wave, I just import it into Guitar tracks and add the guitar. You can go here to learn more about Fruity Loops Studio.
Behringer Eurorack UB502 5-Channel Compact Mixer-This has not been used for any recordings yet but will be used in future music. It will be used so that I can mix both vocals and guitar in music. You can go here to learn more about this mixer.
Gemini DJM-2 Mic- This has not been used for any music yet, but will be used in future music that require vocals and guitar. It is a uni-directional mic which means it only picks up sounds from in front of it. This eliminates all of the background noise and is what is required for vocals in music. You can go here to learn more about this mic.
Behringer UCA 202- I use this as my general usb interface to record guitars and vocals. It has current drivers that work with a lot of windows operating systems.Practically plug and play once set up.You can check it out here.
Well, there you have it, my story, what I have used to create music, and what I will be using in future music. I hope you found this page informative and useful.