Back In The (Soldering) Saddle

I haven’t done any meaningful soldering since making last summer’s Thereatari, but I’m getting ready to. The other day I modified my Caroline Guitar Company Meteore reverb.

I always liked (and haven’t changed!) the sound of this pedal, but I had a couple problems using it: the sweep of the reverb volume knob made it hard to dial in the amount of reverb I want, and the “Havoc” switch went to instant oscillating madness when the size, regeneration, and gain controls were above about halfway.

To address the first issue, I switched out the stock anti-logarithmic “C” taper potentiometer for a linear “B” taper. No change in sound, but more fine control over low and medium reverb volumes.

For the second, I put a potentiometer wired as a variable resistor in the “Havoc” switch feedback path. This is the new knob on the side of the pedal. At maximum, it gives the stock sounds. As it’s rolled back, it reduces the feedback when “Havoc” is engaged. This is great because I can set the reverb how I want, and still get a useable sound from the “Havoc” switch (instead of immediate blaring chaos… though it can still do that, too!).

Had no problems, other than cleaning off my iron’s tip, so it was a good warm-up for summer projects like a pair of semi-modular delays for Drew and I, my AX-60 power supply (finally), and maybe a short run of pedals (probably a transistor boost). We’ll see how far I get on that list.

Van Ripper & Galactifader

Our own Cory Kibler and Mike Papagni are Van Ripper & Galactifader, a seriously funny and oddly poignant rap duo. You can check them out on Spotify below.

There’s no way to explain this music that makes it sound cool or real, but it is both. Mike is an incredible drummer, and Cory worked his way into bars that reflect his point of view without pretending to be anything he’s not or assuming any kind of weird affectation, and a delivery that manages to put a touch of edge into his dad jokes (“Extra Virgin” being Exhibit A).

Pluckin’ Away

I’ve been working steadily on guitars for Fight Songs, switching over from electric to acoustic a few weeks ago. I think I have six left, something like that.

Keepin’ it DIY

Most (all?) songs are getting two guitar tracks to start with. Then I’ll add some shakers and tambourines and other percussion and get the mixes roughed together before doing vocals. At that point the question will be “What details will help this song?” and the answers will be different for everything, “None!” being a viable option.

Mic is an Audio Technica PRO-37, which I am absolutely loving. It happens to be a very affordable mic, but it sounds like a million bucks to me. To my ear is has a full-frequency, flat-ish response for a small diaphragm condenser, and most importantly the off-axis phase cancellation that’s an inherent aspect of condenser mic design is minimized. Really great.

Finished Minirig

I finished the Monotribe-based Minirig – quite a while ago – and have had some fantastic jams on it, though I haven’t recorded anything with it yet.

Long story short, there’s drums, two synth voices, two drones (Thereatari, DS-1), and effects. It sits in a sweet spot of possibility and limitation; there’s certainly enough to keep busy and make a full, if minimalist, track, but whatever I make with it retains a kind of smallness befitting the rig itself.

One of the design goals was to build something that could be used for solo performance, and I hope to give that a live test soon.

All the geek stuff below.

Before I go into the different signal paths here, there are two important secrets to know about this collection of boxes:

  • The Thereatari (left side, multi-colored knobs) contains 3 circuits: the Thereatari noise synth itself, a sub mixer for the Monotribe’s external input (jacks on the Thereatari’s right side with attenuation knob), and a main mixer (jacks on the left side)
  • The Monotribe has been modded many ways, one of which is to separate the drum and synth sounds (mostly; there’s a bit of drum bleed in the synth path)

Signal paths:

  1. Korg Monotribe (modded) drum sounds > Ibanez PM7 phaser > VFE Triumvirate multiband distortion > main mixer
  2. Korg Monotribe (modded) synth sounds and external input > EHX Memory Toy delay > main mixer
  3. Korg Volca Bass synth > DigiTech Turbo Flange flanger > Boss DS-1 distortion (“Dark Satellites” modded; can be a drone oscillator) > TC Electronic Flashback delay > main mixer
  4. Thereatari noise synth > switchable: main mixer or sub mixer
    1. Sub mixer (inputs: Korg Monotribe synth sounds, Thereatari, extra jacks for other inputs) > Ibanez DE7 delay > Korg Monotribe (modded) audio input

Night Mode Data Visualization

I challenged myself to come up with a way to visually communicate the sequence of Night Mode recordings and releases, and the result is below.

Click to embiggen

OTHER was first recorded, and first released. Dirac Spike was second. So far, so good.

Then Damon and I made a collaborative album that’s finished, but hasn’t been released. In this chart that means it has an entry in the left side “Recorded sequence” column, but no line (because it doesn’t have a “Release sequence”).

The line for Gentleman Scientist was tough to place, but I went with its approximate recording sequence based on when Drew started working on it. This chart displays sequence only, not absolute time; there’s six months between Load Exceedance and Gentleman Scientist, then only one month from GM to Capsule even though the visual gap is larger. This choice prioritizes the story of artistic development from project to project over an accurate depiction of the passage of time.

You can see from the angled line how Your Pain Matters was recorded early but not released until much later. In contrast, we put out Thinking About The Meaninglessness… very shortly after I made it (shown by a nearly-straight line).

Our recent appearances on compilations with “No One,” “No Two,” and “Sonar Love” were sourced from the unreleased albums “Merritt” and “Murder Mountain.” They’re b-sides, not album tracks.

I did this in Excel, with a lot of customization of the data labels.


Today’s Pedals

As I work on guitars for Fight Songs, every electric-based tune gets its own sound. (About a third of the songs are electric, the rest are primarily acoustic split between the regular acoustic and the classical.)

Today I did the bridge overdub part on the titular “Fight Song.”

Snark SN-1 tuner

DOD 280 compressor

Mr. Furious Audio Falcon Heavy drive

Mr. Black Shepard’s End flanger

Dawner Prince Boonar delay

The 280 and Falcon Heavy will probably be on everything, or almost everything. Other dirt, modulation, and space pedals get switched out depending on what sounds good for each song.

Next up is “Lost,” a solo acoustic version of which appeared yearrrrrrrrs ago on the Furious Instance comp. I’m planning to try some phaser on the verses. Not sure what else it might need.