Today’s lesson — there is no sound out there that can’t be made instantly better with the addition of a little compression and more heavy metal distortion pedal.
On Saturday, Eric and I found ourselves uncommonly bereft of baby, as baby was staying at the House of Two Year Old Total Indulgence. Several times, while leaving my parent’s house, we’ve passed a strip mall with a brand new guitar store. By cosmic law, Eric and I cannot pass up music stores, especially perfectly good guitar stores. It’s the law.
On the way toward Columbia Mall, we stopped at Bay Tunes Guitars right outside of Annapolis. With the intention of snooping around and, because like going into a bookstore you have to buy a book, buying something, and that token something was designated to be picks because you can pick up a whole mess of picks for nothing. We walk in, and the store is largely an Ibanez dealer, which I’m iffy on. But there’s a rack of guitars and, best yet, a great big wall of effects pedals simply begging for someone to come play with them. It was my sacred duty to sit down and mess around.
See, usually when you walk into a guitar store, the store is like Guitar Center and staffed by pimply faced kids who only want to show off how l33t they are and give you dirty dirty looks if you are not totally l33t or the pedals are only behind glass. Even Guitar Center usually only has a panel of three (reverb, chorus, overdrive) out for you to play with. Here was the whole line of BOSS pedals begging for someone to come build an effects chain.
The store owner, who looked pretty dubious, came over and gave me the hookup to the effects and the effects to an amp. Digital Reverb — okay, I’ve heard an awful lot of reverb lately. Digital Chorus sounds better on maybe an electric acoustic. Digital Auto-Wah RULES but I did not buy it. No, the pedal I was totally taken by was the heavy distortion METAL ZONE pedal. So being me, I made a bunch of noise and played the Summon Store Owner riff. And, much to my surprise, the store owner not only was not the least bit of a jerk, but actually treated me like I might know a little about guitars and effects chains and dynamic EQ.
In the end, I did not buy the METAL ZONE pedal. I bought the heavier, deeper, ultra-distortion METAL CORE ML-2 pedal instead. Which cost slightly more than the picks I intended to buy.
Laden with a brand new pedal, we went about the rest of our errands doing small things like purchasing an entirely new washer and dryer before getting home to play with it.
Out came the Fender Bullet Reverb amp with the room-expanding reverb knob. A few minutes of digging around in the house for various cables, and I was happy we had neither baby nor immediate next door neighbors. We jacked in the Breedlove electric-acoustic, but it didn’t do so well.
I have a very nice little Flea Uke from Flea Market Music — a little cheap instrument I cannot recommend enough for playability and ability to hold tune. It has a single mic pickup from K&K Sound. I’ve mentioned it before, as it is how I recorded myself playing a little uke. So in with the 1/4″ into the Uke to the death medal pedal, and the 1/4″ from the pedal to the amp and went to freakin’ town on that thing.
It was glorious enough that I tried to record it with my multitrack field recorder, but sadly everything was too hot. It will take work to mike the death metal uke.
What I really need to get working on is getting the theramin out, pumped through some hardware effects, and then straight through to Logic.
This isn’t technically a new song. It’s a remix of a song I wrote earlier, but now I’m using professional calibre tools and sometimes a tool does make a difference. Also, I know what I’m doing and how to do it.
I remixed Sci Fi Pornography into Sci Fi Pornography (Remix). Gone are earlier problems: a weak bass sound that was washed out in the bottom, an anemic middle, clipping issues, and badly mixed shakers. Now it’s a punchy little tune with thuddy trance drums, a fuller sound, tamed shakers and some newer, weirder science fiction sound effects. It came out, if I must say so, awesome.
For reference, the original Sci Fi Pornography is here.
I have a sneaking suspicion that GarageBand downsamples somewhere in the engine. As a free tool it is not bad and it makes a great little sketch pad. But much like attempting to write a full novel in notepad (or, god save me, vi) it’s not something I recommend.
Song here: Sci Fi Pornography (Remix)
Name: “Sci Fi Pornography (Remix)”
Genre: Electronic Dance
Running Time: 3:01
Tools Used: Apple Logic 7.2 and a hat-full of loops
(This is the halfway point of my 20 song project! WOO!)
A few hours of noodling producing MP3s on a Saturday night.
This is Tigris. I’m not listing it under a new song because I didn’t write any of it. I just looked up loops and plunked them down in an order that sounded pleasing.
Tigris is made entirely of loops of Middle Eastern instruments. I used it to mess around with building dynamic cross-fades, building sends, hocketing, messing with the reverb plug-ins and working through some hints on better mixing. It sounds very cool in a distinct Middle Eastern way. I’m getting the track mixer under control.
Song here: Tigris
Running Time: 1:37 (very short demo)
Tools Used: Apple Logic 7.2, World Jam Pack loops
I plugged in my MIDI controller keyboard and didn’t use it at all. Sigh.
I wrote this in two whole hours! It has two hours worth of good! HA!
This is a little goofy glob of techno dance music. I find I honestly like Apple Logic and I want to go drilling around in it to find out all the strange and wonderful things it can do. It’s a bit like a great big UNIX server. It’s very powerful but only priests and the initiated can make it go.
The only way I learn anything is by making things. So I made something! This is all MIDI and sample loops. It has the creativity of a sunday morning cartoon. It has no ending. But it’s bouncy! And happy! And it sounds good on the Bose down here in the living room! (Yay airport express!)
Song here: Peppy Beatz!
Name: “Peppy Beatz”
Genre: Electronic Dance
Key: C (I think)
Running Time: 2:41
Tools Used: Apple Logic 7.2, complete Friday night brainfry.