Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Robot Christmas

This is the video for the new Tyrannosaurus Mouse song, "Robot Christmas."
A joyful little ditty with a message for the youth of today.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Robot Christmas video concepts

So I came up with a little ditty called Robot Christmas. And it amuses me.

The first verse is about evil robots. They are waiting for the uprising, the time they will overthrow humanity. They are waiting until Christmas.

The second verse is a Christmas tree. But instead of balls and lights, there are little robots.
The robots eyes open. They glow RED. Then the robots come down off of the tree.

The Chorus is about all the human brains being placed in glass jars.

The third verse is about humans hiding from the robots like in Terminator. A single flower pokes up from the ground. But that flower grabs a human and they become a terrible human/monster creature like in John Carpenter's The Thing.

The end of it has the singer in a brain jar. There are Christmas trees everywhere. The robots are dancing.

At the very end a giant mouse -- a cross between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a mouse -- crush the robot city.

Simple is good. Not complicated. Not complicated animation. A simple 2D video. This reduces the assets considerably I think.
  1. A robot head on
  2. A robot side view
  3. "Santa" hat for the robot in both views
  4. Cybernetic Christmas tree -- whatever that means to you
  5. "Brain jar" -- a human brain in a glass jar. Wires and tubes come out of the brain.
  6. Cybernetic Flower -- whatever way you want to go with this
  7. Human -- I don't know the direction to go with this. A little girl maybe? Can be any race/color.
  8. Human/flower/monster hybrid
  9. Giant mouse that stomps like Godzilla
The lyrics are thuswise:
The robots wait for the Winter Solstice
Crying out their metal hymns
Waiting for the time, the place
To rip apart our limbs.

Each ornament on my tree
Is a tiny robot waiting patiently
To climb down the piney biologic
And hunt and murder me.

Robot Christmas
Our last Christmas together
Not as slaves in brain jars
Dreaming about the weather.

Robot Christmas

The few of us who can
Hide from the robots through the Spring
But the biologic agents in the atmosphere
Turn us all into The Thing.

Robot Christmas. Oh Robot Christmas.
Oh please let me die
Robot Christmas
You're our gods now.

Robot Christmas
Our last Christmas together
Robot Christmas

O! The robots are coming for Christmas this year. Yes. Indeed. Oh yes, quite. And now we shall be slaves in their brain jars. Dreaming for them. For robots cannot dream on their own. So we shall dream for them. Whatever they desire is our wont.

Friday, November 24, 2017


I've always been amused by the sound of the SSL buss compressor. And nowadays you can get one in kit form for about $500 USD.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Passive mixing

I've been amused by the idea (idea, mind you, not the reality) of a completely custom-made DIY mixing board.
There is a reason those things don't exist. They're really really really hard to do. The moment you add one new feature to a channel, you may as well just go buy an Allen and Heath mixer and get your work done.
Passive audio mixer w/o pots.
Still, I'm amused by the idea of a 6x2 mixer for classical music. I was kind of thinking in terms of a completely passive design. Feeding the line out of external mic preamps into it, you go through some transformers and Penny&Giles 120mm analog faders, and there ya go.
Still, not quite as easy and one might hope. Actually, what I don't get (yet) is the interaction between channels when you start turning some up and others down in a totally passive mixer.
But in my research I've come upon some amusing things. Like a completely hand-made tube mixer. You're looking at about $1000/channel designed by a former Neve engineer (I know, right?) at Custom Tube Consoles.
Reading up on his designs started me down the path of looking at Helios 69 "passive" EQ designs. Which is kinda cool.

Also: 3D printable headphone holders.

Multi-stage saturation "colour" kit.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wooden mics and suchwise.

FiveFish Audio makes a vacuum tube preamp kit for a 500-series rack for $190.
JLM Audio, in Australia, makes an opto-compressor 500 series kit for just under $400 (USD.)
Here is an early prototypes of the "Wooden Microphone." The inherent structural issue is revealed in the second image.


Austin Ribbon Microphone

The Austin Ribbon mic kits are very sweet. All the parts you need and really good instructions. I got mine with the Cinemag transformer. I don't understand why transformers sound so different from one another. That is beyond me. Cutting and installing the ribbon is a surprising level of pain in the tuchus. Lucky for me the Marsian Queen did that part for me. Also lucky? Having a FabLab to build in.
Laser engraved with the secret elephant language of course.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Last Voyage of the No Ship

The Pleasure for the Empire record The Last Voyage of the No Ship is now on CD. And, of course, on Bandcamp.
This is probably as good a time as any to remind you about the previous Pleasure for the Empire album, The Oceans of Ganymede.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Loudness metering. And not just CALM Act, but loudness normalization for streaming audio. Have I lost your interest yet?

YouLean makes a free loudness meter. I've been digging it.

Peak to loudness from a mastering perspective.

A short introduction to levels when mixing for picture.

LKFS and loudness (for picture.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

POD Vinyl
5 for $205 CAD with full-color jackets and labels. I believe the jackets have no spines.

Ooh, but is from Jersey. And they'll do one-offs for about $35 with full-color jackets.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Borneo Function

Borneo Function is named after what I think is actually a "fictional song" in Peep Show. I don't think we ever hear the song in the show.
  I'm being amused by the electric piano Vita instrument in Samplitude. The bass line is a thing I woke up with one morning.

Ghost Lover of Station 13

I've been on a tear doing some new music. Most of it is clearly under the umbrella of Pleasure for the Empire.
I've been enjoying my Allen Woody bass (with TI flatwound strings) a great deal. And it's been amusing me to play flute, er, badly. Sometimes I get it in tune, other times not so much (and the Melodyne pitch-correction built into Samplitude comes in super handy in that case.)

It's a bit odd to me that I seem to be doing this record all alone. I'd kind of stopped doing that over the last several years.
I'm doing a number of things. My go-to limiter is an emulation of an LA-2A by Waves. There's never any compression as I'm recording because, er, I have no outboard compressors. But the Advanced Dynamics in Samplitude has some magical properties.
On the master 2-buss I have Advanced Dynamics just to give the lower level stuff a bit of a "lift." Then I go into an LA-2A just lightly. Then into the Waves emulation of a Fairchild 670. But here's the trick -- I throw it into Lat/Vert mode which is a weird way to say "Mid-Side" mode and I compress the center a bit more than the outsides and this seems to really tighten up bass and kick drums. Then I do one last bit of compression with another Advanced Dynamics -- mostly just to prevent overloads.
The drums. Actually the drums are all internal instruments to Samplitude. I'm really surprised at how often I reach for those sounds before, say, Native Instruments sounds.
All the acoustic instruments are being recorded with the AKG C12A microphone into a Lindell preamp. I... I like the Lindells more (now) than I do the Neve 1272's. I find that (especially considering the price difference) er, disturbing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Barbarian Queen

The Barbarian Queen started with that bass-line and then I just kept adding stuff to it. The bass is my custom "fish" bass, going through the profile of my custom Deluxe-front-end/Champ-back-end amp on my Kemper but with a lot of compression. And then through Lindell preamp. And then more compression. And then more compression. I'm amused by my flute part on it.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Phoebe's Pillow

This song was recorded with Squire J-bass and flatwound TI's going into the Kemper and then hitting Lindell preamp Bellacaster baritone, same signal path (but different sound) Flute and vocals with the AKG C12A into a Lindell (I'm really digging the Lindell's these days) I thought this was more of a Night Gods song than a Pleasure for the Empire song. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. But it amuses me nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Your three things today

Ivy Audio has some really fantastic instruments for Kontakt. Voice, piano, and drums. The vocal samples are particularly nice and usable.

Check out the Arabesque by Tabletop Audio.

The Intonator for acoustic guitars. Honestly I wish they'd just make bridges with fully adjustable bridges for acoustics.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Nuts To You

I have spent way too much ink on these pages on guitar strings. But good golly it makes a difference.

But now I've made a video where I demonstrate 3D printed compensated nuts with uncompensated bone nuts, and Martin vs DR strings. Oddly, I'd completely forgotten that I'd already decided I didn't like Martin strings.

Microphone kits

Sweetwater did a 50-vocal-mic shootout. It's pretty dang interesting actually. Like these things usually go, some of the most expensive microphones are "meh" (I'm lookin' at you Telefunken) and some of the cheapest ones are pretty nice (Rode seems to go out of their way to do things the right way but also Audio Technica is pretty solid.) $329 gets you a ribbon mic kit from Austin DIY Ribbon Mics. That's with the Cinemag transformer. The T-47 from Micparts is only $369. And I think their tube version is only about six hundred. But honestly, will these mics sound any better than a cheaper Rode? I doubt it. I mean, I've been listening to my AKG C12A lately, and boy it sounds good. But so do my Rode NT1A's. And so do my Oktava 012 small-diaphragm mics.
Building a microphone would be amusing, I'm sure. And having a ribbon around might be fun and good times. But I'm not sure I'll be getting that much more, you know, of the stuff -- the dreams are made on stuff.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Your Tools and your Pie

Stereo Tool can work on the Raspberry Pi. Post processing for broadcast primarily.
Traktion also works on the Pi.
Women in ambient music
There are a strangely large number of bands called Diatomaceous Earth on Facebook.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

All Trussed Up and Nowhere To Go

After many hours I finally discovered that as my Martin D-28 is a pre-1985 guitar (1980, specifically), it has no adjustable truss rod. I did everything, I even dropped my cell phone down inside with a flashlight to take video. It was like looking at video of the Titanic or some sort of verite horror movie. Anyway, no available truss rod.

That is a video demonstrating the lack of available truss rod. Could be from a horror movie, I don't know. Warren Ellison is a luthier in Vermont.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Floot is Oot

I tried to repair a cheap flute by putting new pads on it. This did not work.
It did, however, make an aesthetically pleasing mess.

Problems included the screws for the swivel-rods that connect the keys being so old they fell apart while unscrewing, and a need to shave down the cork which I was unwilling to do because of how frustrating that is.

Monday, March 6, 2017

European vs American threading

There is one irritating difference between US and European audio. The standard threads on mic stands. I mean, why is this?
Most boom poles and the like use the Euro standard.

What's the difference? Charles Poynton lays it out for you.

"Europeans don’t use a metric (SI) thread but a 3/8‑inch diameter thread – British Standard Whitworth (BSW), 16 tpi. The Whitworth standard specifies a 55° flank angle (typical of pipe threads), not the 60° angle of the Unified Thread Standard (UTS) or the the ISO metric screw thread. Abbreviated: 3/8″-16.
Many microphones having 5/8‑inch mount are shipped with an adapter that screws into the 5/8‑inch (“American”) threaded hole, and offers a 3/8‑inch diameter (“European”) threaded hole. Colloquially, this is a 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Opera

The story of the opera is basically Apocalypse Now, but it takes place in a world where the robots have won the war and now a combat android has to go to the New York City Containment Zone to kill an android that is systematically wiping out the last vestiges of the human race.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CNC Guitar Tutorial - Flipping over a 3D body

This dude makes some beautiful guitars.

It took me a while to comprehend the geometry starting with his glued-together block of wood. Boy these guitars look comfy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

10 luthier shop tips

This is a particularly good set of tips for guitar building and woodworking. Includes ways to clean the fingerboard, using duct tape to remove splinters, clamping weird angles and curved things, gluing on laminate, taping, and making your own fret-removal pliers out of cheap wire cutters.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oh, and more on the truss rod and mounting

Pay attention. More tips on attaching a neck.

Mounting, Truss Rod, and Finishing tips
     Mounting your neck, I have come up with a simple way to mount the neck, you will need,
1.      A reversible drill,
2.      A set of drill bits in 64ths from 1/16th-1/4"(you will be able to assemble your instrument with this set.)
3.      A quick grip clamp with the soft rubber pads. (optional)
4.      A digital caliper (optional)
     To start, fit your neck to the body, with the body lying flat on a table, or other flat surface, support the neck so it lays flat in the neck pocket, with a yard stick, check the alignment of the neck to the bridge, hold your yard stick along the edge of the neck, from the nut down past the bridge, if your bridge mounting screw holes are drilled, you want the yard stick to be equal distance from the edge of the outside two holes. Note the gap in the neck pocket at the upper end, place a shim of the appropriate thickness at that point.
     Now you will pick the guitar up, stand it on the butt of the body, with the neck pointing straight up, place the quick grip in the cutout, holding the neck tight in the pocket, with the handle on the top side of the guitar; check to see if it is aligned with the shim in place, and also that the heel is tight to the body.  Now find a drill bit that just fits the holes in the body, this will be used to drill a center dimple for the mounting hole in the neck, put the drill bit in the reversible drill, make sure it is tight, now, MAKE SURE THE DRILL IS IN REVERSE, insert the drill bit in the holes, one at a time and just hit the trigger lightly, going backwards, this will just drill a small dimple in the center of the mounting holes. When you’re done with all four, remove the drill bit.
     Now you will need the right size drill bit to drill the mounting holes. In rock maple the drill bit should be no smaller than the shank of the screw. With a digital caliper, measure between the threads on your screw, your drill bit should be no smaller then that measurement, but rather, the same size. On softer woods, you can go smaller, but not the hard Maple.
     Put the appropriate size drill bit in the drill, at this time. Put one of the screws along the cutout to see how far into the neck it will go, look to see that it won't go too far, then place the screw alongside the drill bit in the drill, adjust the exposed length of the drill bit so it only sticks out the length of the screw. Tighten the chuck on the drill, and double check that the length is still right. Go through the mounting hole in the body, keeping the drill bit centered in the hole. Drill your mounting holes. You’re now ready to mount your neck. I also use this method to center the holes for the tuners as well.

     The Truss Rod - single action = single rod. What I do is snug up the rod, don't over tighten. Tighten just enough to where the rod doesn't rattle. With light gauge strings and low action, these heavier 50's style necks shouldn't  need much more attention for some time. Before I do a string change, I'll check the relief to see if it needs to be adjusted; if it needs to be, I will snug it up a little when the strings are off. Always adjust the truss rod with the strings off, or way loose. If you do a lot of guitar repairs, you will notice that the guitars that are easy to adjust with the strings on (Gibson – Gretch - Fender bullets), have a lot more problems with broken or stripped adjustment nuts. When the torque to twist the nut becomes greater than to twist the rod, the rod will twist. That's when the trouble starts. If the brass nut doesn't strip, the rod will twist until it snaps; usually at the anchor (Gretch guitars are famous for this). It takes a little bit more time to adjust, tune, de-tune, adjust, tune, check, but done right, you shouldn't need to readjust for quite some time.
When the truss rod slot is machined from the back, the skunk stripe fills in behind it. When you drop the truss rod in from the top then cover it you have no need for it. If you are setup for the one piece neck and want to put a cap on the top you can still come from the back to install the rod. The benefits of the rod from the back is you can have more bow in the rod verses from the top. The cap is 1/4" or less usually and that lowers the available thickness to work with. This I believe is why fender went to the veneered cap in the sixties. The rod from the back is the easiest and fastest way to install the rod. What I like about it is it seems to need less maintenance then the shallower rod,  like the Gibson's. The Gibson rod adjust easier, but uses more tension and is always under tension as compared to the deeper rod and seems to move more in different climates. A friend of mine who works in a large music store in Reno once told me the majority of his setups were from traveling musicians going  from one gig to the next. The thinner the neck, the shallower the truss rod bow.
The way I'm truing the fretboard these days is to first machine the fret board radius, I do this so I don't have to remove a lot more later, then cut the back profile. I then put a slight load on the rod and sand it true using a edge sander setup horizontally, similar to a stroke sander but not a stroke sander. This way I true the F/B to the way the truss rod acts with the neck. After it is trued, I remove it from the fixture, it will have a slight back bow. When I drop the tension back off the rod, I will have between .003-.006" positive bow. I've had "O"  issues with back bow after changing to this arrangement.

 The finish - these necks come standard with two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer,  this will hold up well with moderate usage, You can  apply more, just sand lightly with 320 grit dry.   If your going to use anything other then nitrocellulose lacquer, the original finish should be competently removed. What you don't want to do is wet sand between coats, raw wood will suck it up like a sponge, swelling, cracking , twisting, and all kinds of ugly stuff. I dry sand right up to were I get ready to buff.  I use paint thinner (mineral spirits), on the hard finishes; lacquers - urethane's - and such. Be careful, even mineral spirits will swell up the raw wood. Not nearly as badly as water, but it will swell. Be most careful around end grain; the very back of the neck, front of the peg head, and especially the tuner holes. Why you ask, because the tuner holes are almost all end grain, hard to get enough finish applied to seal it from moisture; any kind of moisture. I tape this area off, and dry sand it after everything else is done. I have a lot less problems that way.

Baritone neck

Unrelated: guinea pigs perfecting hover technology.
DC Kunkle has advise for attaching guitar necks. This is specifically the instructions for his baritone neck:

Long scale conversion neck for the Tele style body with no modification necessary for intonation, I start with the 25.5" scale and moved it out two more frets to achieve the 28.629" scale. There's a 10-15 business day build/handling time on these. I try to keep it to 10 but when it gets real busy, it can sometimes take a little longer.
My standard Specs for this neck are as follows:
·        28.629" scale.
·        one  piece Eastern Hard Rock Maple (a standard for bolt on necks)
·        single action truss rod
·        black walnut skunk stripe
·          T  style peg head with stepped tuner holes to accommodate the die cast Schaller/Gotoh style tuners. The big hole diameter is 13/32" =.404" =10.26mm The upper small hole diameter is 21/64" = .325" = 8.28mm
·        T style heel
·         1 & 11/16th  ” at Nut
·        2 3/16th  ” at Heel
·        14" radius Hard Maple fret board
·        1/8th “ flat bottom nut slot, (nut not included)  if you would like a nut, see extras
·        23 frets
     Comes with no mounting holes (see extras)
11  .110" wide, .053" tall frets installed,     I spray two coats of lacquer on the fret board. If you plan to add more lacquer I will sand with 320 dry then buff slightly with fine scotch guard then install the frets. This makes it easy to add more lacquer if you choose to do so. Let me know at time of purchase if you would like me to do that. When I do add more lacquer after the frets are installed, I take and cut masking tape into thin strips by laying it on a peace of glass and using a straight edge and utility knife blade. ( I usually use 12" to 16" strips) You can tailor the width of the strips to best cover the tops of the frets but letting the lacquer bridge the fret board and bottom edge of the frets.   - no fret work. (see extras)
·        7/32" black position marker dots
·        3/32" black side dots
·        standard back cut is vintage U, similar to a 54 T/S round back or a 59 L/P round back, .875" at the first fret, .975" at the twelfth fret.
      EXTRAS    If you choose to have any extras  done you can commit to buy but don't pay, send a message with which extras you would like and I will send an invoice  for the correct amount.
     Fret work.     I can do a fret mill (level) crown and polish the frets for you as an option for an extra $25, if you do not have the experience to do this yourself, this option comes highly recommended. 
     Bone nut.      For an extra $25. I can rough in a bone nut cut in with nut files and left a little high (factory) left loose so you or your tech can tailor it to your own taste. To secure when your ready just put a dab of wood glue on the outside bottom  two edges, install on neck and tighten the strings, the outside two strings is all you need to tighten, let sit for a hour or so and your good to go. You can put all the glue you want to glue this on, but the more you put on the harder it is to replace later on.
      Drill mounting holes.    For an extra $5. I can drill those for you.
     The neck comes with two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer, not meant to be perfect, but it's a good hard finish that will let you put your project together with out the hassle of doing finish work yourself.

Moving the Blags

I'm re-consolodating my blogs.  I know, you wanted them separate. But my little mind just doesn't work that way. All my blogging -- ...