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Friday 25 December 2015

A Merry Mixmas compilation

Just in time for Christmas, I've remastered and put together into a compilation some of the tracks I've previously put out.

I only now listened to these tracks using a different audio setup than what I had mixed them on, and I immediately heard a lot of things that could be improved. And so I improved them.

The biggest difference is going to be the bass sound and levels, which I reworked on most of these tracks. But I also adjusted the sound levels of some drum elements, and the occasional guitar part. I also made some previously mono guitar parts stereo, and boosted the spread of a stereo part in My World Come True (yeah, I'm using that title again, instead of Our World Come True. I think it gives a bit of a menacing edge). I hope these mixes sound a lot better than they did before.

An exception is Being Like the Wind, which is unchanged from its earlier sound design, but included in this compilation nonetheless.

1. Mezo
2. Superblast!
3. My World Come True
4. Being Like the Wind (not remastered)
5. Liquid Crystal
6. Minotaurous

And if you'd like to download the wav files for these tracks, you can even do that, right here:

Also, feel free to share this video and these tracks. Hope you have good holidays.

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 17 December 2015

What's a monk to do? I guess a monk's to do this.

What probably happened to my JMP-1 preamp is that, as I soldered in the new capacitors and the battery holder, my soldering iron produced static, which damaged one or more of the sensitive computer chips on the board:

A technician would have used an anti-static station with their soldering iron. I used what I had, which didn't include one of those.
I don't know if those chips can be bought individually, but I do know that the whole JMP-1 PCB (printed circuit board - the green thing everything else is attached to) can be.

It turns out that the Marshall distributor for Canada, where I live, sells replacement PCBs for the JMP-1, which come with all the electrical components preinstalled, apart from the transformer, which needs to be transferred from an existing JMP-1. Basically, even though the JMP-1 is a discontinued model from Marshall, a JMP-1 can still be purchased, without the chassis and transformer. I think that's pretty cool.

This is a picture I was sent of the replacement unit:

It's multiple pieces (main PCB, tube-holder PCB, front display PCB) that are presented as one flat PCB board, like one of those kids books with pages of thick paper that get punched out and assemble into things, like an airplane or whatever. Cept this one turns into an amazing sound machine.

Buying one of these will be cheaper than to buy a used JMP-1 (which would also reduce the overall number of JMP-1's in circulation), and putting this into the JMP-1 chassis that I already have will make it pretty much a new JMP-1. That won't actually make it better in any way than if I hadn't fried the one I have while installing new capacitors, and I'll still install a battery holder to replace the stock solder-in battery. I think that I just killed my own excitement. Naw, it'll be great to have running again.

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 10 December 2015

Breaking sad news...

I picked up my amp gear from the repair shop today, with one notable item that was unable to be resuscitated. My JMP-1 preamp supposedly cannot be fixed, and has gone to preamp heaven.

I guess I'll just have to live even more like a monk until I can buy another one.

Passing mourners pay their last respects.

This mourner sheds a tear in remembrance, before eating some cat food and taking a nap.

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 3 December 2015

New track: Being Like the Wind

Here's something I just wrote, and recorded using amp simulators in Cubase - so no (getting fixed) preamp needed. It's an instrumental, but then so has everything been that I've uploaded so far.

C~ Soundscapes

Tuesday 1 December 2015

The assembling of a guitar amp rack

Once upon a time about exactly two week ago, I replaced the capacitors and battery holder in my Marshall JMP-1 preamp for the sake of preventative maintenance, and convenience on the part of the battery holder.

But afterwards the preamp didn't behave properly. It became overly bright in tone, and its digital display would no longer operate correctly. Also, some presets on the preamp would cause the amp to emit a high pitched tone, and no guitar sound.
So the preamp has been sent to a shop for repairs, along with some other gear, to get everything back into tip top condition.
Meanwhile, I've started preparing a new rack-based amp setup, pulling out some gear that's been sitting in storage for a long time. This case and its included gear is to be the foundation for the setup.

After hours of meticulous pouring over blueprints in search of the most powerful design, the following layout was arrived at, and all involved were congratulated for the progress made.

The list of gear it will hold:
1. Furman power conditioner
2. Behringer tuner
3. Marshall JMP-1 (for most distortion sounds)
4. A/DA MP-1 (for most clean sounds)
5. Voodoo GCX channel switcher
6. slide-out shelf for effect pedals

Next will be to decide which pedals will go on the shelf, with 1 pedal per each of the 8 channels on the Voodoo GCX channel switcher.

C~ Soundscapes 

Friday 27 November 2015

How to install a pickguard - Part 2: The right way

If you read it in the post Anectdote, anecdote..., I swapped out the pickguard and some other things from my Stratocastor, with some of the changes working out well (the string trees), and other things not quite working out so well (mostly everything else), or even not working at all (the gold tuners).

Well now I've tried again, this time with a correctly-fitting pickguard, and things have gone quite a bit more satisfactorily. I also included other embellishments such as black pickup mounting screws, gold pickguard screws, and black volume and tone knobs.

I first looked for a matte black pickguard with white outer lining, but found only glossy black with the white lacing.

Altogether, I think it's a pretty nice visual touch up. Check out those gold pickguard screws, all merely-8 of them.

And for comparison, here was the previous incarnation:

I gotta wonder why the modern Strat pickguard uses so many screws, when the vintage pickguard's fewer screws looks a lot nicer (especially when filled with gold screws on a black pickguard), and accomplishes the purpose of screwing down a loaded pickguard flawlessly.
C~ Soundscapes

Tuesday 20 October 2015

A bit of info about the recording Our World Come True

Our World Come True is the first full band (minus vocals) track that I've recorded guitar using my amps rather than amp simulator VST plugins, and for it I used a JMP-1 preamp & Strategy 500 power amp setup for the rhythm and some leads, and used a JCM 800 for the remaining leads. On Our World Come True, I used amps for all guitar apart from one lead part, which is the lead during the first chorus section in the track.

The tracks Minotaurous and Superblast! were both done using VST plugins for both the guitar and bass, with no direct input signal for the bass mixed in (mixing in a direct input signal alongside an amplified signal is a common technique for building a thicker, bigger bass sound).

I wasn't satisfied with the final EQ shape of Minotaurous and Superblast! when I first did them, having a huge drop-off in lower bass response, and I tried to compensate by using a mastering plugin suite called Ozone 4 to semi-conform the EQ's of those tracks to ones from professionally mastered tracks. The result still left a bit of drop in the lower end of bass response of the full mixed track, but it was an improvement.

For bass on Our World Come True, I spent a lot of time trying to get what sounded like a good bass sound to me. This image shows exactly what I ended up doing for a bass sound setup:


I think this has got to be way overkill in effort to get a good bass sound, and this still was far off from the zone of sound that I ideally wanted. That said, when I mastered Our World Come True, mixing in a direct input track with the bass amp plugin track, I didn't have the same issue as I had with Minotaurous and Superblast!, where there was a big drop off in bottom range bass present in the mix.

I expect that every track I record might require something slightly different with the bass, but I'd like to figure out an improved bass sound foundation that I can save as a preset for future projects.

C~ Soundscapes

Wednesday 14 October 2015

New track: Our World Come True

Just finished it up, and gave it a post last minute title adjustment.

C~ Soundscapes

Monday 12 October 2015

Will's on drums!

Will Jones in England is again working out drums for this next track (My World Come True), and so I should also get my remaining lead/solo work done and leave walking in the rainy park for another day. Here is the rainy park:

Back to music, Will has previously given the drum tracks for Superblast! and The Stars are Iridescent, their videos here:


C~ Soundscapes

Saturday 10 October 2015

News for a new track

It's not finished yet. Tadaa!!

But it's almost finished. And in my perspective it is great. What I've still got to do is solo work, and drums aren't there yet, but I'm checking options for that.

Also, I figured out its title today, which is My World Come True.

C~ Soundscapes

Saturday 26 September 2015

Might take a couple of weeks...

I haven't done further work on the upcoming track yet, and I also might take my amp in for repairs before I continue. If you're looking forward to the next track, I recommend checking back here in a couple of weeks for it. It might take me that long to figure out the right title for it anyhow.

C~ Soundscapes

Friday 18 September 2015

Been a while... but have a few things to mention

I've put some recording work into a new track, which is a newish tune, one of two which I guess I came up with while playing those other three I mentioned coming up with during Superblast!'s recording, and I worked this one out while trying to settle on which of the other three I wanted to record to completion first... I guess as a distraction from indecision, which worked out to be a very productive manner of procrastination.

The recording still needs a bassline, drums, and a solo. And I keep thinking that with one of the next tracks I'll make vocals to go with it, though I don't know when I'm gonna start doing that. When I do, I'll start adding vocals to the previous tracks I've made, as well.

Regardless, the track I'm working on now is great sounding (again), and I'll upload it when it's completed.

I recently replaced the tubes in my Mesa/Boogie Strategy 500 power amp, and here's a shot of what that amp, loaded with glass power tubes, looks like with the case off:

edit: here are a couple more pics that I had on my computer.
Only the tops of the power tubes are visible in the first pic - there are also 4 preamp tubes, which are smaller and hidden from view. Different brands of tubes produce slightly different tone and distortion qualities.
The old tube set was comprised of all Groove Tubes, and for the replacement I tried out combinations of everything I had at my disposal, which included the brands JJ, Elextro-Harmonix, Ruby, and the Groove Tubes that were already in the amp. In the end, I've gone with this eclectic assortment:

8x JJs for the 6L6 sockets
4x Ruby KT88s for the 6550 sockets
4x Electro-Harmonix for the 12ax7 preamp sockets

And in my Marshall JMP-1 preamp, which runs into the Strategy 500 power amp, I have one Electro-Harmonix, and one Tung Sol tube, placed in particular order.

While trying different combinations of tubes in the Strategy 500, I also found the particular placements of same-brand tubes to affect the overall shape of sound breakup in the end, so I swapped the KT88s and 6L6s around until I found the smoothest melodic noise - and it is really smooth-sounding. I guess I'll get to show that off with the next track I put out.

Only one channel of the Strategy 500 power amp is currently usable, as the other blew something or other a while ago, maybe from a tube going bad (though they all tested as OK in the amp's other channel). I hope to get the blown channel fixed soon.

I also recently won a disc copy of a Final Fantasy VI remix/inspired album from OCRemix, so thanks OCRemix for this:

There's a youtube vid of the album that can be listened to. I think it contains lots of great music, and I'm listening to it right now.

C~ Soundscapes

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Anecdote, anectdote...

Anecdote 1 ---

There was an issue with my JMP-1 guitar preamp making obnoxious sound whenever turning its output volume control knob, due to corrosion of its pot, so I opened it up and sprayed Deoxit on the pot to clean it, and while I was working inside of the preamp, I figured I'd de-oxidize everything else in there while I'm at it. If a little is good, then a lot must be better, right? Yeah, I know that's not how things work... and they didn't work like that here. Turning on the preamp afterwards, its sound had altered radically, becoming very bright sounding, and with a splashy warping effect in its distortion after hitting the guitar strings with the pick. Also, the digital display to change sound presets was pretty borked, and the preamp was stuck in one distortion mode and at one volume setting.

Checking up on the issue online, I read a) Deoxit doesn't hurt electrical components and is safe, period, and b) a post by someone who had experienced the very same issue as myself, and fixed it by spraying brake cleaner into their amp circuitry to wash out the Deoxit. Looking for an alternative to clean out my preamp of Deoxit residue (because I expected brake cleaner could melt various plastic parts of the amp), I decided on using 99% isopropyl alcohol, and emptied a bottle of it into the preamp chassis, outdoors, swished it around a lot, and then poured it out - and in less than a minute, the whole thing was bone-dry again.

That didn't fix or help the sound - though it didn't make it worse, either. Still, I wondered whether I'd bricked my preamp.

Considering that the issue might be moisture that somehow absorbed into an electrical component when I sprayed the Deoxit, I heated my oven to a pretty low temperature (low enough that plastic wouldn't burn or melt), around 170F, then turned the oven off, let some heat escape from it, then placed the preamp into the oven for a couple of hours, figuring any moisture should be drawn out and evaporated by then. Things weren't entirely different after that - the sound was still altered, but the digital display now worked, and the settings weren't locked in to one distortion mode and volume setting.

I started trying to acclimatize my perception to the reality that my preamp now sounds a whole lot brighter and can't handle as much distortion without tripping out, setting up new presets, and found some I really liked, even with this entirely different sound, and even wondered whether this new brighter sound would work better than the normal sound for recording clarity.

However, over a few days' time, the preamp's sound gradually shifted completely back to normal. I judiciously re-sprayed some Deoxit on the output volume pot so it wouldn't build up new corrosion, and also some on the input jacks, put the case back together, and now I've got a regular-sounding JMP-1 preamp.

 Anecdote 2 ---

I've had some used guitar hardware laying around for years that I'd intended for use in another custom guitar that I was going to build, but  which I've had no opportunity to build, and I recently thought I could use it to instead personalize my 2002-built '57 strat reissue, picture here as it was ahead of any modification:

For parts, I had some gold Wilkinson tuners, gold string trees, and a white-laced black pickguard. I also had a spare newer Red Lace Sensor pickup, which I swapped with the old one already in the guitar.

The gold Wilkinson turners out to be the wrong fit for the holes in the '57 strat headstock, and the white-laced black pickguard had its mount holes placed in different locations than the '57 strat body requires - but I didn't notice that until I had removed the previous pickguard and assembled everything into the black one... I just screwed that one in for now, making use of the holes that do align. At least the gold string trees went on without issue, and they look much better than the original(s).

I think it looks good:

C~ Soundscapes


Sunday 21 June 2015

New track: Arcane Melody

Often when I'm deciding to work on some music, my fingers end up producing something entirely new in a short period of time, and my attention is redirected. While working on Superblast, I came up with the beginnings of a few more new tracks, which are mostly complete now, although not yet recorded.

One of those tracks seemed like its parts could make for one whole track, or that maybe its parts actually belonged to 2 - 3 unique tracks. This track below is expanded from what was just one piece from that particular track.

C~ Soundscapes


Saturday 13 June 2015

Superblast!: Will's drumming version now posted

Here's the version of Superblast! with Will's drumming. He did a great job, and I'm really loving listening to the track with him drumming on it. But I first had to get down something closer to the rhythm I felt inside me before shifting my perspective to his take, which is why I posted the track with a simple kick and snare beat first.

I made a decision to not listen to his approach more than once until I'd done that, so that I could always  go reference my earlier feeling - It felt important to me that I preserved what the track had been in my mind, before letting it branch into something a bit different.

That's not meant to suggest I've got issues with the track as it's presented, I think it's a super blast! (aha) ... and it feels incredible for me to listen to.

I also made an edit to extend the after-solo chorus. Wish I'd recorded it that way from the start:
C~ Soundscapes


Thursday 11 June 2015

Superblast! - Remixed & Reposted

I'm not using professional studio monitors, and so the sound I'm hearing back as I mix is an inaccurate representation of what others might be hearing on their speaker systems. On my end, I thought I had so much bass I wondered whether I'd be hurting people's ears with it! But the feedback I've gotten regarding the track was that bass and kick drum are too absent in the mix.

So I've done some tweaks, and I think that this version is greatly improved, and the bass and kick presence does now sound a hell of a lot better.

I'll remove the previous youtube upload and leave this one in its place.


C~ Soundscapes

Wednesday 10 June 2015

New Music: Superblast!

Here's my new track that I've been speaking of. I think it does manage to kick ass after all.

I received the audio files for the drumming from Will today, and while I'm very appreciative of the work he did, I felt another rhythm was better suited for the track, and so I put down my own take of it today, using just kickdrum and snare - with influence from Will's version. I'll still upload Will's version of the drumming for this track, but maybe in a few days.

For now, enjoy.

[ Video Replaced - See Above Post ]

C~ Soundscapes


Wednesday 3 June 2015

Will-Powering Superblast

This aforementioned track, now titled Superblast, is in the hands of drummer-for-hire extraordinaire Will Jones, who is also the one who played drums in another track I've uploaded, The Stars Are Iridescent. Once I've got the recording of his drumming (which will be in a few days), I'll do any quick mixing needed and then upload and post it here.

I think the track itself has come out sounding pretty darn good, though after hearing all the pieces of a track with laser focus continuously for 3 days straight I can start to hear it in a very different way than would and will sound to virgin ears, and than how it will sound to my ears upon listening to it again after taking a break from it. That shift in perception after a bit of separation can result in some things that sounded awesome while working on it suddenly sounding nonsensical and jarring, and sometimes things that were feeling all wrong for what was intended suddenly sounding incredible in an unforeseen way.

Right now, the tune's presentation is notably different than my initial impression of what it was going to be, and I don't fully know what I'm going to think about that later, but I'm really enjoying listening to what it now is.

C~ Soundscapes


Saturday 30 May 2015

Status Report for the Forthcoming Track

I've finished most of the work on this coming track, which is sounding really good, and I've just to record part of the bassline and lay down a guitar solo.

But being primarily a guitar player, I haven't quite built up calluses on the flat part of my finger, where I've done a lot of pressing of the bass strings during fast slides while working out the bassline, and it's left the underside of my finger feeling pretty raw, enough so that if I try recording the rest of the bassline right now, I won't do a good job of it due to finger sensitivity.

I might take a couple days before addressing the bass part, but this track'll plainly kick ass when I push it out maybe mid-week.

C~ Soundscapes


Sunday 17 May 2015


I know music is what should be lining this blog, more so than gaming poems and old post dates. I have written several (in my objective opinion) super great things since last post, but I haven't recorded them in any presentationally-impressive manner. I will get on that and record something soon... but also not immediately. I recommend checking back in a couple of weeks.

But, so that I won't exacerbate the recent music-less conditions of this blog with yet another non-music post, here are a few rough solos (in non presentationally-impressive a manner) for some tracks that I hopefully will work on further in the future.

C~ Soundscapes

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Haikus for Grand Theft Auto V

Regarding the video game GTA V.

Someone, somewhere, claimed to offer gift copies of GTA V for PC to people who made the best written haikus about GTA. The offer seems to have been bunk, but I wrote for it, and I'll post what I wrote for it here to get use out of it.

Ideally to be performed by beatniks at some poetry club.

Spoken by Michael:

Got plans to succeed
Right hand of cards' all I need
Till then people bleed

Spoken by Trevor:

Riding a hot wire
Jacked way up to the heavens
High flying mayhem

Spoken by Franklin:

Running, driving, stop
Eat burger at a diner
Leave and shoot a cop

Spoken by Michael, Trevor, and Franklin, together:

Paradise is near
High-class homes and drinks, no beer
More than a veneer

White lines, cars, and jets
Dream green, no failure, no debts
Hands red as they get

* snapping of fingers in beatnik-style acclamation *

C~ Soundscapes


Saturday 7 February 2015

Into the Blue & Dragonsnap Prototype

Been a whiles since posting, and I want to get to where I'm posting tracks with more regularity than previously ( I certainly have the music for it ), but I haven't got myself into position for that just yet.

First, here's an acoustic playing of a fun track, which, at this time, has the title Into the Blue.

Next, this is one of my favourite tracks of my own - Dragonsnap. But this is only a rough copy of it, while I very much hope to later make a fully polished recording. Probably the reason it isn't already a polished recording is that I sold the effects pedal which I had recorded an earlier take of the track with, and I want to get another of that same effects pedal for when I properly record this track. Don't have an idea on when it might be that works out.

C~ Soundscapes