Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pedal pedal

There are a lot of guitar pedals out there in the world. The thing is that there's actually sort of a limited number of actual usable sounds compared to the numbers of different sounds we can make with our technology or even imagination. I think Casio discovered this in the late 80's with their PCM synthesizers. And especially now -- when we can literally draw any sort of sound we want, we find that by and large there are some usable sounds and other sounds we don't care about. I mean, I don't even have examples of those sounds that are useless because nobody uses them. But go ahead, draw a waveform. You'll hear what I mean. They're pretty useless.
Anyway, pedals. Lots of small manufacturers. Mostly making fuzz boxes. Look, there are and have been some amazing guitar players who used fuzz boxes. You know, people like Hendrix. But personally I don't care for them. Maybe it's because I used to have an MXR Distortion + pedal. But most new pedals make sounds I... just don't care about.

Obviously there are exceptions. Most all useful guitar sounds had pretty much been found by the early 70's. Probably earlier than that even. You could keep adding more gain and fuzz but... after a while it gets kind of boring.
Strymon does excellent work. And if you had a hankering for a vibrato/reverb pedal their Flint seems like it can't be beat.
Lehle also rocks the vole. They just make great stuff. And if I were a bass player I'd be seriously looking into their two-band bass compressor pedal.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Synthia is a free VST version of the EMS Synthia -- the sequencer and synthesiser used by Pink Floyd for "On the Run."

Warm Audio makes an LA-2A clone. The street price for that mono limiter is only $900 which, for an optical compressor is pretty darn good. I think the LA-2A is my favorite compressor. I've never been able to get the (vastly more affordable) 1176 to work for me.
Dunlop makes a couple Echoplex emulators. A preamp for about a hundred dollars.

And the actual Echoplex delay itself. They run new for about $200.
You can add the MXR delay switch for about $40.

I love my MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay (also made by Dunlop) but boy... Dunlop makes some really great and refined-sounding stuff.  I love my Carbon Copy. It sounds fantastic. But the Echoplex... I'm not saying I don't love my Carbon Copy. I'm just sayin'...

Friday, August 19, 2016


One Cut Vinyl is a print-on-demand record cutting service. Expect to pay about 20 British pounds each for a run of 10. Doesn't come with jackets.
Vinylify specializes in 10-inch (!) records. About 60 Euros a piece. But that includes a spineless jacket.

These German dudes at VinylRecorder have made a 3200 Euro vinyl record cutter. I mean. That's crazy. Brilliant. It fits on top of a Techniques 1500 turntable.
Custom Records also does one-off lathed records for $150 plus labels and jackets.
Vinylondemand does $50 12" records.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The End of August at the Hotel Ozone

The bar code for the new Diatomaceous Earth album is 763591005228
The last 8 is the check-sum.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Slide Tab Tension

Custom waterslide decals for guitars.

Just reposting this tab of Jethro Tull's Bouree'. It's still really difficult to play.

This isn't really the best-written treatise on string tension and honestly I still don't understand it after having read it a few times.  Apparently having a minimal angle after the nut and the bridge makes bending notes more pleasant. Hmm... that makes sense to me actually.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Diatomaceous Earth The Porcupine's Dream Part I

Yes, this is a new version of The Porcupine's Dream. A slightly better video. A slightly better mix.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Porcupine's Dream (Part I)

Tyrannosaurus Mouse and our recording of The Porcupine's Dream.
This is actually the last take we did. The slate stopped working and the cameras ended up being... er... not in sync. But this slower version of the song is my favorite.
I'm very happy with my guitar sound. Ethan's bass sound is the best bass sound I've ever personally recorded. I especially dig Greg's slide guitar. Lou is playing an electronic kit with Native Instruments Studio Drummer sounds. The Studio Drummer kit mixes so easily. The hi hats are so smooth and the kick just sounds great without any work.
I've been cheating in a variety of ways. The compressors are mostly (emulated) LA2A's but I'm also putting many or most channels through (emulated) Pultec EQ's using that trick of boosting and attenuating the same frequencies. To me it makes the low end more... well more, but without being muddy.
Most of the channels are hitting multiple compressors before they even get to the master buss. At the master buss I have three limiters: a Samplitude "Ammunition" M/S compressor/limiter, and two Fairchild (emulation) stereo limiters set very very lightly -- one being stereo and the other being in M/S mode.
Oh, and another limiter on the master buss is the Samplitude "advanced dynamics" mostly lifting up the bottom part of the dynamics which is function that's almost impossible to explain but which I've discovered recently and sounds freaking noice.

Friday, June 10, 2016


I've been trying to practice regularly. But I've been practicing bass. And not for any particular reason, either. Just that I got it into my head I wanted to play the Jethro Tull Bouree for some reason. It's remarkably tricky to play.
I'm in that rut one gets into where it's like dangit, I'm just not getting any better. I'm sort of frozen in this place. Maybe bass is just really really hard? Playing notes evenly on the dang thing seems so much harder than guitar. Of course I've played guitar for 35 years so maybe I'm just used to it. I don't know.

But the things I am good at on guitar I'm so not good at on bass. Dynamics are out the window. The control of tone is, in many ways literally, heavy-handed as my right hand just goes places not entirely with my consent.
It seems that many Tool songs are played in a dropped-D tuning. I've never felt comfortable in alternate tunings. But intellectually I don't think I'm that comfortable in regular tunings so what difference does it make?
Well no, changing the tuning on a guitar kinda means you really need to do a new setup on the neck. And you may need to re-think your string gauge. I had thought that the heavy strings Ethan makes me get might do better for very low-tuned guitars but actually I think I'd have to go for much heavier strings to tune the guitar lower (I'm experimenting on the Blattocaster).
I'm getting a special Tyrannosaurus Mouse headstock decal for that guitar. Ethan spent a goodly many hour cutting that custom bone nut but at this point in my life I'd like a compensated nut. That's what I tell all the girls at least.
The Timebender and the TC Electronic D-Two are the only guitar effects that let you tap in a pattern for delays.
I have become frustrated with the Abbey Road 60's kick drum. So I'm trying the regular session drummer kit and I find it so much easier to mix.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hedonic Treadmill

Diatomaceous Earth. This is a mix from our last recording (March 4th, 2016). Lou Clark on drums, Ethan Rosenblatt on bass guitar, Greg Bartus and me (Andrew Bellware) on guitars.
Hedonic Treadmill was just an end-of-the-night jam. Could it be shorter? Probably. Will it be? I... I don't know.

I could make a guess about what we're all playing through. Greg through his preamp rack and then into... hmm... Maybe the ART tube preamp? Probably. Ethan is certainly going direct into the ART tube preamp (the other channel). I'm going through a Kemper profiler amp and then into a Lindell mic preamp. Lou is playing sounds from the Abbey Road late 60's kit.
The bass is going through a GK amp simulator. And everybody's getting hit with noise reduction and a wide variety of compression.