Thursday, December 30, 2004

More Pic Work

More Pic Work

A little photoshop work...


Well as we head into a new year it is time for news and idle banter. First Soul Amp is chuggin ahead getting ready for the upcomging gigs at Main Stage and Sprizzo. We'lln be doing a 45 minute set at Main Stage. So we are polishing that set. We'll start the ight at Sprizzo with the music not played at Main Stage and then finish with the set from the night before. Expect to here some jams at Sprizzo as I am sure we'll open it up a bit.

M1 is off in Co. for the holidays so M2, EB and I practiced lastnight. It was funh and we got a chance to "just jam" some too as we were'nt too serious about getting anything other that a refresher with M1 abscent. One thing is for sure., Hammond organ and piano sure fills out the sound. With M1 missing it was wierd to play as a three piece, these songs that were arranged for four.

So to make up for M1 not being around we made sure his picture was repeted over and over again in the promo photo collage. Sorry Mike, couldn't resist.

Abbey Road?

Abbey Road? is 40th St in Piggsville.

Happy Smiling People

Happy Smiling People

Smiling like idiots...(lol) as we are freezing. Lucky
there was some tasty Spanish wine waiting....

Promo Photo

Promo Photo

Well here is the first of what will be many
promotional glossies. We had to get one together quick
to start sending out for gigs. This one is heading to
Memphis for the a shot at playing the Beale street
music fest.

Friday, December 10, 2004



Well here you go! We llnaded another gig for January at the Main Stage in Waukesha. So I created some fliers for posting in the clubs and around town. I dig fliers for bands...I used to collect them when I was in Minneapolis and somewhere in the boxes of stuff I have a bunch for the mid 80's. So you flier hunters out their here's your chance to add to your collection. The future rare "Badminton" tour



Thursday, December 09, 2004

Protoype I CD Ready

The Soul Amp's Protoype I CD "New Day" is pretty much completed. If you are interested in purchasing this limited edition pre-production prototype there are few ways to get one. First come to our debut gig at Sprizzo Gallery and Cafe' on Saturday, January 29th 8-10 p.m. 378 Main Steet, Waueksha, WI.

The reason you WANT one is because when they are gone they are gone. There will NEVER be more. It is also likly that some of the songs that appear on the Prototype I disk will not be on the final production CD. I can't tell you which ones becuase we don't know yet...We are still writing tunes and they may bump some of the older songs as we craft the final vision of the album.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

New Gadgets

Last night M1 and I broke in some new software. iZotopes's Ozone3 mastering plugin.

We spent the eveing figuring our how to use it. I had to borrow my Wife's G4 Ti powerbook to run it. The results were pretty stunning. We will be using in mastering the final production CD.

Also on the horizon is a iMac G5. to repalce my iBook G3 that is currently been the workhorse. Actually the G5 will really be my wifes new graphics workstation as her Ti powerbook is now tipping the years at near 5. Souls Amp will be fortunate to be able to utilize the new G5 for the final push in the production of our debut CD then I'll take over the powerbook and hand the iBook down to daughter bass player.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ahh Memories


Well, I was thinking the other day about all the wacky stuff I've experienced in playing with bands so I thought I would start writing them down. And what better place than right here under the banner of SOul Amp...

..fade to black...

Crossing Paths with Soul Asylum

In the Late 80's Minneapolis, Minnesota the Landslider's the band, I playing in was booked at 7th Street Entry. THe Entry was a small club attached to the famous First Avenue. The premier music and dance venue in Minneapolis. The Entry was more or less a closet attached to First Avenue. The trapezoidal shaped room had maybe five tables and a few stools. Bleacher like carpeted platforms rose up tow levels along the back wall and afforded fans a way seeing over the near floor level stage over the crow on the back level.The entry also known as Minneapolis's largest ashtray was grey and black inside indoor outdoor covers the interior.

Photos are linked from First Avenue and are credited to Dan Corrigan.

Here are the steps leading to basement or the "dressing room".

The lansliders recently off a fresh name change and sporting a new demo tape landed a series of gigs in spring of 87 we were playing out pretty regular doing front gigs mostly. One night as we were setting up for a show at the entry Jay the drummer asked, "Who the fuck is Sunshine on My Shoulder?". I said "I never heard of them." He was pissed because we got the opening slot for this Thursday night and we were a bit bummed at getting bumped by a unknown band. As jay was setting up the kit he stopped and this tall lanky dirty blond guy stroad in with a similar curly haired mutton chop guy Dan Murphy...they passed Jay. I took no notice. Jay said "Isn't that Pirner...?". Asking if it was Dave Pirner of SOul Asylum. I said, "yeah I think so." We continued setting up our gear and the activity was increasing as we started to do our sound check. I seemed as if a who's who of the Minneapolis music scenes was slowly filtering through the place. I though cool we get some discerning ears for tonight's show. Well it ended up being quite a awesome night for sure. Within minutes we realized that indeed SOul Asylum was playing under the alias of Sunshine On My Shoulder. They were kicking off their tour for "While you Were Out". We had heard that they had Twin Tone had just inked a deal with A&M and the independent label was going big time and taking the bands with them.

Pirner and Murphy sat against the back wall of the entry while we did our sound check. We peeled our gear off the stage and headed down to the basement to eat pizza and drink some snowshoe grog...or favorite pre-show snort. Well as we were down hanging out chatting with SOul Aslyms Drummer at the time. Who walks into the dressing room but Grant Hart from Husker Du. Grant and his buddy sit down and light a joint and proceed to pass it around. So here we are in 1987 goofing in the Entry with Grant Hart in the Entry.

After splitting a pizza with everyone we got ready for our show and headed up and launched into a high energy set. The place filled up quick as we went through the set and we got a good response from the crowd. Certainly I was now glad we were playing first as Soul Aslyum would pretty much blow away everybody who cam after them.

They took the stage and played a set that was so tight and powerful it ripped your head right kidding.

It was a memorable night and a good gig for us even though I think we were pained like $75 bucks. I always was disappointed in the pay in Minneapolis at the time but it sure beats what new bands have to go through today. Hey wait I'm a new band again...

The Masterbeats only I can't believe I found this pic...(Dan Corrigan)

Look close above the head of the guitarist looking at Peter Buck from REM. You will See scrawled in black marker "The Master Beats", I wrote that on the wall after I played at the a show at the Entry. I think we fronted the Gear Daddies or the Gyrones or something. I believe Peter Buck was in town and sat in with the Gear Daddies.

It must have been around spring early spring 1986 or so. I found this pic at First Avenue's web site. Funny I thought I wrote that in the basement of the Uptown Bar and Grill...well....stuff is pretty blurry from those days...but stuff is coming back to me...I'll toss out some other stories from the past, I 've got a ton of the backwoods ski trolling, and playing after demolition derby, spinning vans on ice, rehearsal in jail....oh my...yeah.

Saturday, December 04, 2004 lives!

I haven't posted to our blog yet because... well, I haven't had much to
say yet. There's been a sudden flurry of activity in the ol' Cat Box and
elsewhere for us. As you've seen, we've finished up the first prototype
of our CD.

I recently got up and running as well, just a few days
ago. There isn't a whole lot of content there, just an e-biz card for
now. It'll grow and change soon.

As for me, I carry the low end for the band. I'm currently playing on
Fender Jazz 4-string fretless and Brian Moore i5 5-string basses. I
reproduce them with an Eden Metro combo amp. If you want to hear me,
well, you'll have to come see us live or pick up a copy of New Day. And
if you buy one each of every prototype you'll have a nice sonic blog you
can carry around with you.

Thanks for spending time with us...


Friday, December 03, 2004

Sprizzo Saturday Jan. 29th

Sprizzo Saturday  Jan. 29th

Upcoming Gig at Sprizzo January 29th 8-10
Downtown Waukesha WI.

Soul Amp will be squeezed up front of the small funky
cafe' - coffee house - martini bar on Saturday, Jan 29th. $2
cover and we'll be selling a limited number of
prototype I with 9 tunes recorded in the
Cat Box....

Read below for info the Cat Box and of course Soul Amp.....

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More Than I Asked For

Last night M1 and I worked on More Than I Asked For. A new tune we recorded the bass, guitar and drum tracks for during rehersal one night.

Well M1 tackled adding a organ track and after about four hours of trying it just wasn't happening. Depression was setting in. We had one passage that was good and the rest it just was not happening. was best to rethink the instrumentation. We dumped the Organ on verses and tried piano. ZOOM! that was it after a couple of takes M1 laid down a very cool piano track keeping the organ in the chorus. Cool thing is this will be able to be done easily with M1's live rig for shows. The song went from a rather plodding death march funeral dirge to a bright snappy , metro, love song...shades of Joe Jackson and Bruce Hornsby...

I then jumped in a nailed the vocals in one take. After four hours of sitting at the console starting and stopping a 5 minute song I was ready... the can hear live at Sprizzo's on Jan 29th.

Soul Amp - CD Prototype 1

Soul Amp - CD Prototype 1

Above is the cover for Souls Amp - New Day prototype CD. What I'm doing is creating prototypes of our upcoming CD. Using desktop technology that most are familiar with, Photoshop, Label printing, labels, CD-Rs and jewel cases I'm "prototyping" our upcoming release. Why? Why not...I am burning disks all the time as we polish and select the tunes for our album. So why not go ahead and start working out the look and feel of the CD as well?

So this is the first prototype titled New Day. Why should you care?

For each protoype that we do the CD will be different in many ways. First the content will likely be different. As we write more tunes some may get "bumped" and others the arrangements may change as well as tracks or the entire recording will be replaced. We will try different song orders as well as art work from a variety of graphic artist types that we happen to know.

So here is the final pitch.

We are considering selling them at gigs. Each protoype will be produced in limited numbers of maybe 20-30. Each will be good sonic quality and represent versions of tunes we are okay with. Also it will help fund the continued production of the final album. We need to raise about $1000 for the professional mastering, printing and reproduction for the first producton run. Since most gigs for original bands pay little we have to make some money somehow. I have always liked homegrown tapes and CDs and think it is way cool when an band lets the listener get a more intimate view of the band and it's progress.

Hence this blog...

So on the 29th of January 8-10 Sprizzo's Caffe and Coffeehouse we will probably offer some of these prototypes up for sale. Cover is 2$ at the door and the prototype disks will probably be $5 or so....

SO what is up with this design...

Well it is orange. To represent a warmth and glow of a new day. Simple enough. The yellow circle of couse is the sun and the use of green is to create a vivid contrast. The orange is a tip to the past.

That is it.

Below is the label.

Soul Amp - CD Prototype 1

Soul Amp - CD Prototype 1

Monday, November 22, 2004

M1 Tracking

M1 Tracking

M1 lays down the lead organ part for Seeing Jimmy.

Cool shot of M1's rig the wurli saw some action on the first session ofr Seeing Jimmy.

M1 Tracking

M1 Tracking

M1 lays down the lead organ part for Seeing Jimmy.

THis tune was one of those where M1 brought sent some lyrics and then a few days later we were jamming on the acoustic and the M3 in the Music room and we put the lyrics to a set of chord changes M1 had. The two fit well and Seeing Jimmy was there.


Tracking Seeing Jimmy

Tracking Seeing Jimmy

Seeing Jimmy

Jimmy lived his life out
In the Sunset Ranch motel
Just a bit off Prospect
With pavement for a view

Surrounded by his litter
Magazines and trash
TV always on
Smoke streaming from the ash

It's not easy
To talk to Jimmy
It's not easy
To drink his beer
Always makes you wonder
What the hell you're doing here

A military veteran
Maybe never went to war
Crippled by dementia
Or dreams of something more

Mary comes on Tuesdays
To bring him his hot meal
She yells a little at him
But asks him how he feels

It's not easy
To talk to Jimmy
It's not easy
To drink his beer
Always makes you wonder
What the hell you're doing here


Friday, November 19, 2004

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Another shot of the rescued Wurli...

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Wurlitzer 200 Rescue

Hey the Wurli is ALIVE

Yesterday after I recovered from a episode of intestinal discharging I set to getting the Wurli that was rescued from disposal working. I popped the case via three screw under the front edge. The case was nearly fused to the wood base from years of no access...First I burns on the power amp and the only problem I could visually see was that an aluminum guard that covered the dampers arms for each key showed signs of being bend. On the high side of the key board, the highest key's damper arm was broken. I took the aluminum guard off and found that the top four keys do not even have damping mechanisms. This looks like it is by design because the metal reeds that create the tone for the highest four notes are so short damping them would be silly. Check out the flash link from the keyboard museum that describes the Wurlitzer 200 action.

I removed the broken piece and then checked the action on all the keys. One small adjustment to the middle c and it appeared all the keys and reeds were in good working condition. A little stiff from lack of play but that will no doubt be corrected. The inside was surprisingly clean BTW.

I then set to rewiring the power. I took an old power cord from a computer and cut the end off and removed the old oval power cord connector on the Wurli and spliced the new cord in. I have a modern three prong power socket I could use but I did not want to spend a gob of time modifying the case to find the thing didn't power up. So I will add the nifty socket sometime in the future. Well I agonized about which wire went where...but that was easy enough to figure out with a mutli-meter to id the wires on the power cord to match them up with the green, white and black wires of the Wurli power. I plugged it in and put the volume knob back on the pot and turned the power on....

The light came on. No smoke or sparks. I heard a small hiss coming from the speakers....I started playing each key and there it is...that unmistakable sound. Super Tramp, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Sly and Family Stone and Steve Winwood came to mind...I started off playing some goofy things that I do on the organ and I could hear and feel why this instrument is so cool. I quickly set to cleaning it up. I took fantastik to the plastic case and cleaned all the filth from it and then applied armour-all. Nice and shiny now a few scratches and stains but not bad. I then carefully cleaned each key and removed as much dust and dirt from the felts on the case and around the keyboard. I put it all back together and then sat down and played for an hour or two.

The sound is awesome, cranking the volume all the way brings out the character of the pickups and hides the physical mechanism sounds. The sustain mechanism works but there is no pedal and the original legs are missing as well. Replacements can be had or a simple keyboard rack would work.

As for the action. When the Wurli is off you can't really judge the action because the reed does make a sound when powered down but they only really sound when struck hard. The action is there when the power is one. A bit stiff but you can easily layback and play soft passages with ease. In fact it is surprisingly expressive and the touch is very intuitive. This is the real deal. I have yet to plug it into an amp yet but that will probably happen soon. All in all I spent about three hours playing and I could feel the action loosening up. Regular playing is the best thing for this Wurli. It will make a great addition to the upcoming Soul Amp CD.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Vintage Ludwigs by M2

The Ludwig drum set used in SOUL AMP was purchased for me by my parents 2nd hand when I was 13.The set was like new after 5 years with it's first owner.

Shot From the Cat Box

Constructed in 1970 the all maple,blue sparkle shells have held up amazingly well.This kit has seen literally hundreds,if not a thousand break downs,setups,and gigs over the last 34 years.It is a typical rock 5 piece set with a 12"x 9" and 13"x 10" rack toms,16"x 16"floor tom,22"x 14" bass,and a 60's era 14"x 5 1/2" supra-phonic stainless steel snare.Remo Ebony Series (medium weight) heads are used on all toms..batter side and resonant.The batter tom heads each have a "Dead Ringer" foam muffling ring applied to their underside.This gives the toms a wonderfully warm round tone with little to moderate sustain,and no obnoxious overtones.They are dynamically sensitive as well.The toms really sing when played at gig volume.No modification was needed for the studio.The bass drum is equiped with an Aquarian Super Kick 2 ply head.This head is self muffled with an integrated thin white foam ring around it's internal perimeter.This head is awesome.An Attack brand "No Overtone" head serves as the front man on this drum. It would make a very poor choice as a batter head,but works fine as a resonant. Contrary to it's name,this head wreaks of overtone.Live,this bass drum sounds HUGE.The tone,punch,and projection are amazing.In the studio,the front head was removed and the front of the bass was wrapped in foam insulation to help the mix.It kicks ass.The pitted old Ludwig snare has a Remo Ebony on top,and a standard Remo "snare side" on the bottom. Muffling is regulated by the stock internal damper.This drum provides a nice snare "pop" and an awesome cutting rimshot that is great for penetrating live. This old set of Ludwigs is a life long friend. If you're not happy with your crappy Pearl/Tama sound,ditch them and start looking for vintage maple Ludwigs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

M1's CX-3

M1's CX-3

M1 plays on the new (lightly used) CX-3 just purchased off e-bay. The Korg CX-3 2.0 is a tonewheel generator modeling keyboard. Considered by many to be the defacto standard by which all other "clone-wheels" are judged. It basically has all the stuff you would expect a classic drawbar tonewheel generator analog organ to have in a digital package. So m1 and Soul Amp has got the real deal in the Hammond M3 though it is sans Leslie cabinet at this time and a portable B3 and Leslie in the Korg CX-3...

Sing Goon, Sing

Sing Goon, Sing

Actually this is a good shot of the MXL V69 Mogami and a MXL 990. We took these two tracks and bounced them together and created one mono 24/48 track that sounded very nice indeed. No phase problems or clipping as each track was kept low and then when combined we made sure there was no clipping. We could of just normalized one of the mic tracks but thought they were better together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

End of an Era...

Originally uploaded by bodland.
M1 took his DX7 and EMU Proteus 2000 home the other day. He recently purchased a Kurzwiel PC2X Perfromance controller and a Korg CX-3. The DX-7 and EMU combo was a classic. He fitted the EMU with a the B3 ROM chips that helped to define the sound of SOul Amp. Now the Kurtz and CX-3 will be in used in tandom on a new stand. The M3 upstairs will appear from time to time in various tracks.

Control Table

More Shots from the Cat Box
Originally uploaded by bodland.
The central "brain" of the Cat Box. A simple setup...iBook G3 5000Mhz, MOTU 828 firewire interface, Mackie mixer and some sweet Mackie monitors, 250 gig firewire drive, CD-burner and a couple of directors chairs. Bring your own sweater...mixing sessions get a bit chilly.

Another shot of the M3

Originally uploaded by bodland.
Here is the 1958 Hammond M3 at home in the "music room".

NOTE: The M3 "Arch" didn't fit down the stairs. It wasn't even tried. it can be used for recording though by running cords up the vent which is located just out of the picture to the left. The vent was modified to allow cat access to the basement and the adjoining living room. Thus the music room became a nice iso room. - Brad O.

The Music room doubles as a individual practice room and vocal iso booth. Wood floors, square room with plaster give this room a nice tight bright natural reverb. Great for vocals.

More Shots from the Cat Box

More Shots from the Cat Box
Originally uploaded by bodland.
Brad's rig...a modded speakerless Fender champ 12 wired into a Fender 2x12 closed back 8ohm, cab stuffed with the "big cage" 300w EV-Fender OEM Speakers.

YOu just can't get these speakers any more. No farty tone here. High gain creamy overdrive and the chimey clean tones...big an fat, warm and tasty - Brad

Monday, November 15, 2004

Shot From the Cat Box

Shot From the Cat Box

Shots from the Cat Box

M2's Vintage ludwig has been residing in the Cat Box for a few months now.

Shot From the Cat Box

Shot From the Cat Box

Shots from the Cat Box

Shot From the Cat Box

Shot From the Cat Box

Shots from the Cat Box

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Shots from the Cat Box

Shots from the Cat Box

Pizza In The Cat Box

Pizza In The Cat Box

Here are M2, Estaban Blanco and M1 taking a break with some pizza
during a recent recording session.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

In Loving Memory of Arch Aikman

Soul Amp's new vintage Hammond "M3" AKA Arch Aikmen

This saturday M1 and I are hitting the road in his GMC pickup with topper to fetch this beauty of a M3 in South West Indiana. It will be a bit of a haul but it should be worth it. The story on this little gem is that it began life as all Hammonds did in Chicago at the Hammond factory and settled into it's first and only home the Dugger Methodist Church in Dugger Indiana. FOr the next 46 years this organ was played a few times a week and kept under a canvas cover. This particualr organ was dedicated to "In Loving Memory of Arch Aikman" engraved in a small brass plate attached to the cabinet. We won't be removing this plaque. Think of all the weddings, services, baptisims and funerals this little organ saw in it's service to Dugger Methodist Church. I dug that.

I snapped this baby up as I am member of the Music Comittee at the church I attend, UUCW so I am familiar with the care that churches take when it comes to instruments used during service. So the scenario was the better than the "grandma" owned Hammond, at least theroetically.

For those unintiated to the qualities of a Hammond organ let me start by saying it is one of the most versitle instruments ever invented. The tonewheel sound of the Hammond has found itself in all genres of music, motown, gospel, blues, rock, pop, jazz to name a few. This model the M3 is essentially a B3 cut down to size and put in a spinet cabinet. It uses the same tube pre-amp and amplifier as the B3 and has the percussion, vibrato,chorus and familiar start run switches. The main differences are in the keys 44 as oppposed to 61 be manual and the M3 lacks the "harmonic foldback" feature. these lttle "baby b's" are farily easy to find but rare to find in as good of condition as I expect this one to be. While B3 consoles are going for the thousands of dollars now the M3 remain relativly undiscovered bargin. they can be had between $100-500 currently. You can even find them for free if you keep your eyes open. I expect these spinets to become increasingly rare as they have the Hammond sound without the back breaking wieght or wallet busting cost. M3's can be fitted with Leslie cabnet connectors and modified to have the "harmonic foldback" feature found on the B3.

The Hammond is making a comeback after fading for awhile in the 80's and early 90's but listening to alternatvive modern rock and pop you will hear it's unmistakable sound sliding up through the mix.

Famous recordings you probably know are Booker T and the MG's "Green Onions" recorded with a Hammond M3. The race scene in American Graffitti had this tune as the back drop. Boston's "Smokin" are probably the most famous of the pure Hammond organ hits. How many of us early 60's kids remember downing beers listening to that over and over again. Styx and Kansas the Beatles and a host of dozens and dozens of bands made the Hammond a indespensible memeber of the band. The synth replaced the sound and for a time it was lost. But the renewed intrest in pure tone and tube sound in our digital age as brought the Hammonds back.

As a guitarist this is the first time I have played in a band with a organ and it has been quite inpiring. The deep and rich tones of a hammond tonewheel generator goes well with the guitar both clean and dirty and provides a rich pallete of sound to lead over.

With SOul Amp being thick with Hammond Organ samples at this time it was a no-brainer to pick up the real thing for recording. The samples we currently use are at 16/44 and sound okay but seem to lack a genuine character. when captured at 24 bit and 48 kHz sampling rate.

So the journey begins and soon the little gem will be resting in the basement singing into a tube microhone and captured in 24/48 glory. I will keep you posted as to the progress of "Arch".

Click here for info on moving the Hammond M3

Click here for info on recording the Hammond M3 using the Zoom H4

Click here for a tune recorded with the Hammon M3 through the Motion Sound

Click here for another tune recorded with the Hammon M3 through the Motion Sound

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Drum Re-thoughts and Guitar tone

M1 and I met last night to review drum ideas and test some mics on my guitar cabinet. We ended up going witht he single overhead and the lower right condensors with a AT3525 condensor deep in the kick drum enclosed in foam. The SM57 won out on the snare.

For the guitar we found positioning the microphone closer to the cones of my CBS black Fender 2x12 closed back cabinet. The speakers in the cabinet are OEM EV-12Fs. Classic 300 Watt monsters. The clean sound on these are awesome and the overdrive from my class A single ended Fender Champ 12 is quite early 70's classic. The amp a Champ 12. I modified it with various mods found on the internet plus a few of my own to warm the tone up and ease the gain in the lead channel. I plan on replacing the pots in the gain shannel to allow more flexibility in gain control...

Well anyway we set up a SM58 on the cabinet and recored a clean and gain channel track. Then we repeted with the MXL2001. What we found was quite interesting.

We played with exact position of the mic in relation to the speaker. Starting first on the outer third of the speaker and moving inward to the cone. The EV speakers have a rather lager silver dome in the center and we found that a position that allows the mic when pressed up against the screen to (about 1.5" inches from the dome) captured half the dome and half the cone. This gave a balance of the crispy grit of the dome and the smooth warmth of the cone. The dome alone would be too crisp and the cone was too muddy. Together they blend well. Lateral movements of less than a inch make a audible difference in micing these speakers.

The SM58 was rather lifeless on the clean part of the track. But when the gain was kicked in suddenly this fantastic tone emerged. SOunding like Crosby Stills, Nash "Road To Marakesh" lead. That liquid warm buzz. The gritty combination Sovtek 6L6WGC and 12AX7A-C Groove Tube tubes were smoothed quite nicely into a very sensitive and expressive tone by the SM-58. The deep end "cloonk" was there as well in the rich mixture of complex mid-range harmonic overtones. The MXL was the exact opposite. The clean sound with the MXL2001 close mic'd was rich and true to life. It sparkeled with a clearly defined pingy Fender style. Both the out of phase pickup settings on my strat which I use for all most all clean tones sounded most excellent.

Keeping in mind that these are all dry tracks 24/48 digital tracks shows that the tones we are getting are going to be quite workable in the mix down.

We learned alot about how we are going to tackle many of the recordings coming up. As M1 said..."it was a good night."

Next up...The 1958 Hammond M3. We are picking it up this weekend in Illinois....but that is another tale...

Monday, October 04, 2004

Drum Thoughts

I spent some time in the Cat Box (the basement studio) this past sunday working on drum sound. I set up a AudioDesk project called Drum Tests and recorded several takes using various microphones and postisions.

I ended up taking the front drumhead off and going with a dynamic inside on a piece of foam. The snare is handled by a SM57. I tried two different mics on the snare and found that the sm57 had the punchiest sound.

The moved the overheads down low and placed the MXL990 on the lower right underthe ride and next to the floor tom and on the left i went the MXL991 low pointing up at the highhat and snare. the thinking is that I will get a bigger drum sound and still have plenty of cymbal sound as they are grouped pretty tight. Also it seems that the sound is better coming out from the bottom of the cymbals rather that the top.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Compression Thoughts

About compression (From various internet articles...)

Four main aspects...

Threshold - This is the rise in dbs that determines if the comressor engages. When the rise reaches the trheshold then the attack occurs.

Attack - the time that the compression waits until it begins to decrease the gain of a signal when the prescribed threshhold is reached.

Ratio - The amount of gain reduction 3:1 means that for every 3 db rise the compressor will only raise the level by 1.

Release - How fast or slow does the compressor return the gain back to the actual/original level.

Knee - What is the shape of the change hard of soft (may not apply to some compressors)

So…compressors are about smoothing out the dynamic peaks to allow the entire track to be raised up in the mix.

The BIG problem with compression is that it can kill the emotional and esthetic dynamics of a track in additon to introducing unwanted audible changes in gain if poorly used.

Most of the articles I have read say….fix dynamic issues in tracking and avoid harsh use of compression. That goes without saying. Vocals are the toughtest to keep a intimate dynamic sound AND not clip. So there two ways…

One sing to stay within the confines of the levels set. Easier said than done. I found in singing Spinning Things I have to edge closer to the mike during soft parts and lower the timbre of my voice to highlight a gentle passage. In more loud parts I move back slightly and turn my head slightly to prevent any SSs or P-pops of B booms…

The other way is to go ahead and belt it out any old way you want and let the engineers fix it with compression. How it works out is up to the listener. Seems most are putting the burdon on the musician to keep the perfromance smooth to a certain degree. But all agree SOME compression is very useful.

So…I am now understanding compression. I was jaded by past experiences by a compression happy techs in combinations with inexperienced recording musicians. (young wacky punkers, thrash types)

So rule of thumb to be useing for this project...

Best perfomance goes on the disk.

Better musical performance by the musicians the easier it will be to mix. And that means controlling dynamics while still keeping the emotion going...

I guess I think of it as staying within a described dynamic range. Soft and loud but not too loud or soft...layer the instruments in the song to create the dynamics. Sometimes the notes not played are as important as the ones played.

Spinning THings Studio Session 9/28/04

m1 picked up some sexy Mackie monitors for the Cat Box last night. We set them up and went to work on re-mixing Spinning Things initial recording. M1 showed that seom light compression and the slightest of echo on the vocals brought it out. And we tweaked the piano with a small room eVerb model.

The issue is we are using a Proteus 2000 sound module and it likes to present a stereo two channel signal. We were running out of inputs and figuring we would ultimately use a real piano in the final tracks. SO the two channel signal is collapsed in a Roland keyboard amp mixer and set to the MOTU 828 as a single mono line signal. WHich sounded rather dead. So we added some eVerb and reintroduced the the stereo to it. Probably a reasonable solution for the short run. The organ doesn't seem to suffer as much from this and in many cases sound better and is easier to mix when it is a simple dry signal.

The lead guitar is a problem in this song so far. The distrotion sound is very heavy on the mid-range and without bass it is even more evident. A tweak of eq here and there with a guitar plate reverb with lower hi-cut seemed to help. Additon of the bass when the full ensemble plays on thursday will do much to balance those mids. I'm using a MXL 2001 on the guitar cabinet but I am thinking of switiching it back to the sm57 in close on the cone and using the MXL 2001 on the snare and high hat.

the Mackie HR624s are showing us a true picture of what we have and I am quite pleased that the basic raw tracks are as good as they are. A testement to MXL microphones, good mics, cheap. Definately a step way up from dynamics alone.

Here is the microphones now in use in the Cat Box Not a huge number but they are getting the job done:

MXL 2001
MXL V69 Mogami
MXL 990
MXL 991

Monday, September 27, 2004

Spinning THings

On saturday September 25th m1 brought these lyrics over and at the same time I had been working on some chord changes. It just so happened that the two ideas blended well together. We spent about two hours trying various things and edited the lyrics as the melodty started taking shape. Below is the orginal lyrics as written and the revised lyrics after a few run throughs. Clicking on the link when active will get you a early pre-production version of Spinning Things with piano, guitar and vocal.

A note about the proproduction mix. Recorded live into the MOTU with a MXL990 mic on vocal and a MXL2001 on guitar. I think the guitar mic was a bit too close to center line and thus the sound was skewed to the mids a bit too strong. The Piano was run through a keyboard amp mixer and sent to the motu 828 as a mono signal. I put a little eVerb, small hall room on the master channel and that was pretty much it. If you are lucky you will get a really early take on this before I dubbed the vocals in and fixed the lyrical flubs in the pre-mix.

Spinning Things

Humming goes the spinning things
Of blurry roads and distant trees
And lines on maps, and gasoline
Fast food stops and tears unseen

Treading on the miles passing
Impatiently as hours passing
Dropping baggage on the way
Drifting through another day

The one you loved is
Miles away
The spinning things
Take you away
The distant dreams begins to fade
The one you pushed, pushed you away

Listening as the day dreams
Blowing through your silent screams
The humming noise of spinning things
And endless paths of mingled streams

Swerving through the thoughts that frighten
Thunder claps and darkness lightens
On the road you might have been
To make the turn you understand

Spinning Things
(c) 2004 Fisk/Odland

Humming goes the spinning things
Of blurry roads and distant trees
Feeding on the miles passing

Fast food stops and unseen tears
lines on maps, and gasoline
Dropping baggage on the way

The one you loved is
Miles away
The spinning things
Take you away
The perfect dream begins to fade
The one you pushed, pushed you away

Listening as the day dreams
Blowing through your silent screams
And endless paths of merging streams

Swerving through the thoughts that frighten
Thunder claps and darkness lightens
On the road you might have been

Soul Amp it is:

Mike FIsk (m1) - Keys
Brad Odland - Guitar, Vocals
Steven White - Bass
Mike Nettesheim (m2) - Drums, Percussion