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Monday 12 December 2016

Interim track demo: Moss & Marigold

I'm not going to have any money to pay for someone to play drums for this next track until right before Christmas, and so I probably won't get drums added to the track until a bit after Christmas. So, I'm putting up this older acoustic demo track of mine for listening to in the meanwhile.

It's just a little bit more than a basic track, with a mid-section solo, and a couple of brief bass-idea lines popping in and out in a couple of places.

I'm sure that I'll make a complete production of this song at a later time.

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 4 December 2016

A bit more progress, the next track gets

I finished up the rhythm guitar for the next track, today. When I previously said I was going to go easier on the layering with this track, I guess I wasn't properly coordinating my plans with my future-self, because there's now a lot of layering in this track:

Also, the track overview looks like a sine wave. That's gotta mean something, right?

C~ Soundscapes

Wednesday 30 November 2016

The next track, a bit more progress gets

Got some further work done on the rhythm guitar parts for this next track, and it's sounding really good.

Doesn't it look like it sounds really good?

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 27 November 2016

The beginnings of another track

This represents guitar work for a new track's intro:

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what time-signature the track was in, so that I could play to a click, since that keeps things organized while editing, and easier for someone else to lay drums down to (if I end up getting someone to play drums for this), but I discovered that this doesn't really fit to a time-signature that I know how to easily put in... it seems that a half-beat in a 4/4 signature is dropped every third bar, and so the actual music sections keep receding away from a time-signature of 4/4. The music sounds right, though. So, I'm just recording it without any click, and relying on my own internal rhythm, which isn't a problem.

Each take is recorded with 3 tracks, one for each mic that I'm using. I could set things up so that all 3 mics feed into one track, and reduce the overall track usage, but I like to change the mic levels independently, and sometimes edit takes from the different mics distinctly from each other. Overall, though, I'm expecting to be more lax with how I record this track than I have been with some others that I've recorded, in both planning and editing, and I think I can do that and still have a great sound, because the sound of my actual guitar rig has improved substantially since my previous recordings, and so I don't feel that I'll need as much layering, plugins, and mixing to try to make it sound great.

We'll find out, but I'm already confident the result will be good.

C~ Soundscapes

Friday 25 November 2016

(Just) Some pretty photos

These are some photos, obv. But they are nice photos, obv. I am sharing these photos, obv. Hope you like them.


Sorry, no newly-recorded music. But I feel that it is long overdue, which is probably an obv thing to be feeling by now, so I will make an effort to record something, and it will be good (resisting the temptation to say obv there, aaaaand... done. But it will be).
C~ Soundscapes

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Pipeline panorama, and rack amp... panorama?

Nature and technology, co-existing in moss-covered harmony.

There was a really cool shot nearby, looking down the inlet, with cities in the distance, but my friend was the only one with a camera / phone on them, and they were out of storage space. And, so, no other great pic.

Rack and rack gear, co-existing in screw-mounted harmony.

This isn't the completed thing, but it's getting there. Most of what remains to be done to give me my ideal setup is technical work, like modding, or replacing parts of some gear.

That TC Electronic 1128 equalizer, underneath the ADA MP-1 preamp (has blue buttons), is renowned for its top-quality, and non-colourizing presentation of input audio. However, many of them have a display that has faded in visibility over time, rendering the unit basically useless, without an external controller. Fortunately, for myself, I found someone online selling an upgrade kit for the display, which TC Electronic used to give out to people, to replace the original blue non-LED display with a green LED display, which is easy to see, and can have its LED screen replaced, if it's ever needed.

It's fortunate for myself that I found the person selling the upgrade kit, because TC Electronic hasn't had them available for, probably, many years. The one I found could even be the last one, anywhere.

The sound this setup is putting out is incredible. I've now improved my guitar sound even further than I had with all my previous recordings, and, I think that I just might have the best-sounding amp setup I've ever heard, per my personal taste.

Of course, great guitar sound ought to be made use of in recordings, to be listened to.

I'd really like to be recording and releasing track after track, just as I'm coming up with new track after new track, but I rarely feel as though I have the energy necessary to make a full recording. I keep recording new tracks and bits of music on my phone, which is enjoyable to do, but I don't want to be posting them as presentations of the music, on this blog

Whenever it is that I'm able to work on my music in the manner that I'd like, I'll have more than the 2 - 3 full careers worth of music that I already have, ready to be recorded.

I think I really gotta get a band going to make use of all this music I've got.

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 21 August 2016

Happy Trudging (sound demo)

Today I made the effort to set up 3 microphones on my speaker cabinet once again, which can take a little bit of time to get right with the placements... except, I just had them set by eye, and when I checked their sound, it was all perfect, with no adjustments needing to be made. That's a first, for me.

I checked their sound with this short bit of music that I made up on the spot. It has double-tracked rhythm guitar, and then I added some accompaniment layers to it, and then did some editing (which took far longer than recording all the parts), and here is the music that afternoon's effort produced.

By the way, all the distortion on this track is produced by my JMP-1 preamp being boosted by the El Distorto Segundo (which is an MXR Distortion II clone) pedal that I put together and posted about here:

As paint dries...
And now, with shiny new knobs.... a presentation of pedals

The MXR Distortion II pedal is the fuzz / distortion that gives a lot of the earlier Smashing Pumpkins music its characteristic sound, and for this demo I partly aimed to make something that sounds as though it would fit in with the various clips played within the Pastichio Medley compilation from the Smashing Pumpkin's Zero single, both to show off the pedal's ability to get the sound, and also because I just really like it.

There are two overdrive circuits in the MXR DII, as well as its clone, the El Segundo Distorto. One is more trebly and sizzling, and the other really bassy, muffled, and rippling. And dialing-in the two circuits to different degrees causes their characteristics to blend in ways that produce a wide range of tones.

The El Distorto Segundo clone of the Distortion II has even more sonic potential, with an added 2-way switch that changes the clipping type, effectively changing the distortion shape between being more organic, rippling, and broad, to more focused, flat-headed, and consistent.

C~ Soundscapes

Friday 12 August 2016

Checking in with two acoustic pieces of music: The Thoughts of Clouds & Snowfall's Interlude

I haven't really been recording anything for a while, other than with my phone to capture many miscellaneous bits of music that I've been coming up with. Partly, probably, because I needed to temporarily dismantle my recording setup while visitors were staying here. But also just because I just haven't and that's just how it's been. Oh well.

But, anyway, here I now have to present a couple of melodic acoustic + effects tracks.

The Thoughts of Clouds

Snowfall's Interlude

C~ Soundscapes

Saturday 25 June 2016

Some guitar noodling, demoing new guitar neck

So, this is the guitar neck that I had custom built and installed onto my '57 strat body, replacing its original neck. It's also the neck that I said I thought sounded too bright for my liking, and so I was likely to sell. And this is a demo video, which might help me sell it, though I'm not entirely committed to the idea of selling it.

I made this video to demo out how the neck sounds, and played in all the different pickup configurations that this guitar has, to show off its general sound.

Also, some clumsy playing, courtesy of my lethargy.

It's a little weird being a headless performer in the video, so you can put this head on top of the body, and imagine it as it were unshaven. And I think that's also the first time I've posted a picture of myself on this blog (edit: other than in a previously uploaded video). There I am.

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 2 June 2016

Guitar customization trials, some error

2 necks, one guitar.

The typical nickel material used for guitar frets wears down over time, leaving indents on frets where the strings make contact with them, and making frets rough, which makes it more difficult to bend strings.
The nickel frets on this strat have become very worn down, making it difficult to play. And because replacing a neck is only slightly more costly than replacing the frets on an existing neck, I thought to just buy a new guitar neck.
And I did. I ordered a custom neck with every refinement I'd want, which is the one in the picture that's to the left of the guitar. But the maple neck I received is too bright-sounding for my taste, and a lot brighter than the original neck... so I've ended up doing what was my alternative option anyway, which was getting a fret-dress for the original neck.
A fret-dressing means to shave down all frets until there are no more worn indents, and all the frets are levelled and polished, and even, all the way down the neck.


I also applied copper shielding to most of the body cavity-space, but I ran out of material to finish the top two pickup cavities. The copper shielding prevents the pickups and wiring from picking up excess noise, and sending it through the amp, and out the speakers.
There's a pic of the guitar with the custom neck installed. Very little of the original guitar is included in that customization.. just the main body wood, the bridge and tremolo system, the input jack, and some of its wiring.
I'm going to play the guitar with that new neck for a (likely very short) bit. But, ultimately, I'm going to sell that neck and put the original one back on, and get a few more years out of the levelled frets before replacing them all (the top 6 have been replaced before).
But even with the original neck fret-dressed, I'll still not be entirely satisfied with how it feels, and I think I'll shave down the neck thickness some, and apply a different finish to the back of it.
C~ Soundscapes

Monday 2 May 2016

That next track that is definitely coming sometime soonish (and some photos)

Yeah, I think it takes me too long between releasing tracks, too. But I have a really good one on the way, with Will Jones again working out some drumming for it this week. This is the track that I previously mentioned, while also saying that I put a hold on working on it. It's coming.

In the meanwhile, here are some scenic photos I've recently taken in areas outside the suburbs of Vancouver, Canada. If you're from there, you can see if you know what all the different cities and areas are that are visible in these first ones.



C~ Soundscapes

Monday 11 April 2016

Short guitar track: Tides of the Ether

This isn't the music I've previously mentioned I've started work on, but I made this for a contest which guitar effect makers Strymon are presenting, and for which they're giving some of their cool products as prizes.

The theme of the contest is to create ocean and beach inspired sounds or music, and to post it to Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. I though I might re-record The Blue Tides and You for this, as a performance video, but I double-checked the contest rules today, and they say that the content (or maybe just the video, I wasn't sure) has to be created after March 11. And I already posted The Blue Tides and You a month earlier than that, so, this evening I put together another ocean-esque, tides-titled track: Tides of the Ether.

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 7 April 2016

And now, with shiny new knobs.... a presentation of pedals

Finished that MXR DII clone, and gave gifts of the conical kind to a couple other builds.


On the left, an El Distorto Segundo (MXR Distortion II clone, with enhancements)
In the middle, a Phase Royale (MXR Phase 90 clone, with enhancements)
And, on the right, an Overdrive 2 (a souped-up Tube Screamer-based boost & OD pedal)

C~ Soundscapes

As paint dries...

I know that music is the best type of post, but I haven't been able to continue recording the track which I've completed the rhythm guitar for. I will continue its recording soon, but I've had a couple of things getting in the way of that. I've also been tempted to just post what I have of the track, which is its rhythm guitar... but that would take away the greater impression of its completed form, and it should be a damn good impression.

This is another of those Build Your Own Clone effect pedals, and the 5th that I've put together. This one is a recreation of the MXR Distortion II, with some minor adjustments, including changing the clipping style from symmetrical to asymmetrical, giving the pedal true bypass, reducing its unwanted noise, and adding a switch to change clipping types between a crunchier sound, and the traditional sound.

For this pedal build, instead of soldering in the diodes which configure the pedal for symmetrical or asymmetrical clipping, I soldered in these sockets, which I can fit the diodes into, and then still take them out and arrange them in other ways after the pedal build is completed. This will let me listen to and choose whichever style of clipping I prefer, while still being able to change things again at any time later. If only these things worked for all parts of life.

I would be finishing up this build now, but it's been less than 12 hours since the last layer of paint I sprayed on, and it takes 24 for the paint to fully dry. I'm tempted to, and probably will finish it now anyway. I'm sure the paint will be OK with gentle handling, plus I'll have that nice chemical paint aroma while I work.

I also recently modded a BOSS CS-3 compressor pedal that I have, with a mod that replaces some lower quality parts with higher quality ones, to reduce the noise level, and to give the pedal a slight tonal adjustment.

I don't have a demonstration of before and after the mod to show, but there is this clip from the mod maker's website that demonstrates the modded sound. It still delivers the particular extreme signal squishing that is the BOSS CS-3's style of compression, but it does so with a much lower noise floor, and with a touch of high-end clarity added.

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 3 April 2016

Alesis 3630 vs 3632 compressor, in a guitar rack

Alesis 3630 compressor
 Alesis 3632 compressor

I use these as compressor, boost, and dirt effects in my guitar rack, and I really like them in these roles. I've read it said that the 3632 delivers the 3630 sound, but with better quality components, and less noise, but I find there to be tonal differences between these devices, despite them also having similarities in their characteristics.

Out of all the the many signal-boosting devices that I have (pedals and rack devices), I find that these two Alesis compressors (and without using any of their compression features) are stand-out in giving played sounds distinct crisply-defined edges, when their output boosting feature is used. And this is a quality that I especially like.

If I play a note using any of my other boost pedals, I would describe the resulting sound as still having a relatively soft-sounding shape and experience, whereas the quality from either the 3630 or 3632 imbues played sounds with a quality that I would describe as firm, strong, solid, which increases as the output gain is increased. And between the two compressor devices, I think that the 3630 does this more greatly than does the 3632.

One big downside to the 3630, though, is its limited gain level headroom, which, when exceeded, completely garbles whatever sound is passing through the device. And to avoid this, either output levels on pedals ahead of the 3630, or the output gain on the 3630 will have to be turned down sufficiently to keep the overall signal level beneath the headroom threshold of the 3630's gain capacity. As I mentioned, I like the crisp quality given from cranking the output on the 3630, so I have to adjust the volumes of other things in my signal chain in order to still be able to push the output on the 3630 at the end of it all, while preserving the sound.

I also perceive the 3630 as imparting a darker quality and colouration upon output tone than the 3632, which is pretty transparent-sounding, meaning that it doesn't really add colouration to sound that is put into it. And this makes its output tone seems a little brighter, and perhaps a bit thinner, to me, when contrast with the 3630's output tone. The Smashing Pumpkins' album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness featured a base amp setup of a Marshall JMP-1 preamp, going into an Alesis 3630, which then went into a Strategy 500 power amp (and this is where my similar base amp setup of an Alesis 3630, going into a Marshall JMP-1 preamp, going into a Strategy 500 power amp is inspired from). And being familiar with the 3630's sound colouration, I recognize it as a key (though smaller) piece of that album's darkish tone.

Both the 3630 and 3632 have interesting and very usable distortion characteristics, when their output gain is cranked enough on an already boosted signal, and both are again pretty distinct from the other signal boosting devices that I have, and both also convey their crispnessness. The 3630's distortion sounds to me like a bunch of very short but firm bristling hairs of light, whereas the 3632's is more granular and evenly-spread throughout the sound.

Both devices are great general compression, boost, and dirt effects for a guitar setup, though I find the 3630 to impart a darker and note-thickening tone quality, and to have a slightly-different dirt sound. For now, the 3630 is in my amp rack, though I'm sure I'll be swapping between them, now and again.

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 6 March 2016

PSA: Amp setup features in a blog update

After many alterations, and with more alterations likely still to occur, this is generally how my main amp setup is currently looking.

On the pedal shelf are 3 of the BYOC pedals which I've soldered myself, including the Phase Royal (orange), an OD2 (black), Mouse (blue / green). And on top of the rack case is the 4th I built, an speckled orange Ping Pong analog delay, which I've virtually never had a use for, and which I guess I ought to sell for having lack of use for.

The pedals on the rack shelf are on independently-switchable channels, but are ordered as:
BYOC Phase Royal > BYOC OD2 > BOSS Metal Zone > BYOC Mouse > Big Muff Pi

Then things go to the preamps, and in the preamp effect loops are:
Analogman Bi-Chorus > Strymon TimeLine

I'm using the Vox wah pedal out front of everything for a signal buffer, which serves to keep the guitar tone bright and full as the sound signal runs through long stretches of otherwise tone-depreciating instrument cable until it reaches the power amp.

I also started recording a new track, though I'm sort of in a paused state on it... but I might be about ready to start working on it again. Here's a small spoiler concerning it: It's sounding really great.

C~ Soundscapes

Sunday 7 February 2016

My completed Phase Royale pedal, and a new track demoing it - The Blue Tides and You

I've completed the phaser pedal I mentioned I was building in the posts Blurbing some news, and Almost there with DoE. It sounds great, probably my fav phaser pedal I have used.

Here's a track I recorded just with my phone, showing the pedal in some mild-phasing action. Its effect can be dialed in far more intense, bigger, and tangier, though, and the pedal has Speed, Depth, Resonance, and Mix controls, as well as a 4 / 6 phase stage toggle switch - all in addition to the classic MXR Phase 90 sound.

C~ Soundscapes

Saturday 30 January 2016

I'm now working with Will on the drums for DoE

I've started working with Will Jones once again for the drums for Drops of Emerald (Will played drums on tracks The Stars are Iridescent, Superblast!, and My World Come True).

I had programmed close to half the drums for the track before I contacted Will to see if he'd like to work with me again for this track, and now we're sending clips back and forth while we discuss what we think works best for the music (whereas with the previous tracks I just handed them to Will and he sent me the final thing, though I edited-in some kick drum grace-notes on MWCT).

It's enjoyable for me to hear how a drummer thinks about the track, and I look forward to being able to post the final result here. I'm not sure how much longer it will be, but perhaps a couple or a few days more, just guessing.

Here's a teaser (*warning, spoilers!*):

Intro - 0:00
Chorus 1 - 0:12
Verse 1 - 0:41
Chorus 2 - 0:57
Verse 2 - 1:25
Heavy Part 1 - 1:42
Chorus 3 - 2:03
Verse 3 - 2:31
Heavy Part 2 - 2:47
Heavy Part Extension - 2:26
Solo Chorus - 3:35
Solo Verse - 4:03
Segue - 4:22
Ending - 4:40

C~ Soundscapes

Thursday 28 January 2016

Almost there with DoE

I've finished all guitar and bass work on the new track, Drops of Emerald, and am working to finish the drums. Awesome track, thinks I.

Also almost there is the DIY phaser pedal I'm working on, here shown in all its glorious sprayed-on orange, compared to original.



Maybe it's because I used a lot of coats of paint, but after drying for a day and a half, the surface of it still feels a bit sticky and emits paint smell.

C~ Soundscapes

Friday 22 January 2016

Blurbing some news

Good news: I've started recording another track, which at this time is titled Drops of Emerald, and is already amazing sounding.

Other good news:

- My guitar amps, including the JMP-1 of previous blog mention, are now all fully functional and set up
- I've figured out ways to improve my guitar sound
- I've improved my recording techniques and so have also improved my recorded guitar sound

It's like everything has recently received a big level up, where my gear-readiness and sound is concerned. I haven't really done much with bass for a while though, we'll see how that goes for this upcoming track.

Cool enough news: I'm building a new guitar pedal, a Phase Royal. I've built a few of these kit pedals before, and my main boost and pedal distortion comes from pedal kits which I've soldered together. The actual soldering doesn't take too long, maybe a couple of hours. Waiting for spray paint to dry on the pedal enclosure is the longer part. I think that this one'll be a slightly more reddish orange that the traditional MXR phaser that it's based on (with a whole bunch of features added):

C~ Soundscapes