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Archive for November, 2010


Homebrew Electronics Three Hound Chorus

Summary: All-analog, thick and rich chorus capable of produce subtle to dripping wet chorus to organ-like leslie tones.

Pros: Warm, rich chorus tones – never gets bright, so it might not be for everyone, but I LOVE IT! Width knob is the “secret sauce” of the pedal that physically alters the width between the wave forms.

Cons: None.

Features:

  • Depth – Controls the depth or wetness of the signal
  • Speed – Connected to the LED indicator light which flashes with the rate of the chorus – very helpful.
  • Width – As mentioned above, controls the width between the wave forms. The effect is subtle, but provides another dimension for tweaking.
  • All Homebrew pedals feature true-bypass switching, heavy duty metal enclosures, chassis-mounted switches and pots.
  • All pedals are hand-built. Even the enclosures are drilled by an actual person, not a machine.
  • Lifetime warranty

Price: ~$189 – $200 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I’m blown away by this chorus! It has such a beautiful tone! I was looking for a chorus to use with my acoustic rig, but this pedal has so much versatility, that I will be using it for a variety of settings (though it’ll mainly be used for my acoustic rig).

I Love Surprises…

Actually, saying I was surprised by the THC is actually an understatement. I needed a chorus pedal to go with my acoustic rig yesterday, because I was tired of using my BOSS CE-2 on both my electric and acoustic boards. Plus, the CE-2, at least for me, has always sounded better with electric because of the gain boost which I dig with my electric rig. But for acoustic, I just want something that turns on, doesn’t give me a jump in volume, and doesn’t add any brightness. So when I auditioned a couple of chorus pedals yesterday – the other was an MXR Micro Chorus – I could not believe how absolutely SWEET the THC sounded!

Mind you, the Micro Chorus sounded killer to me, but it was much closer in character to the CE-2 as it is a fairly bright chorus. For acoustic, I needed a much thicker tone, and I found that in the THC. I will mention that I was going to also audition the Red Witch Empress Chorus, which is hailed as just about the best chorus on the market today. But at $400, there was absolutely no way I was going to get it, so I didn’t bother auditioning it. Also, the Red Witch has 4 knobs and two toggles. I didn’t need that kind of tweak-ability. I know, it’s also a Vibrato, but I just wanted a chorus.

Fit and Finish

All Homebrew Electronics (HBE) pedals are hand-built: And this means all the components, drilling and even the painting are done at the Homebrew shop. But the cool thing is that HBE. My experience with them has been that they’re built like tanks, and the THC is no exception. The pedal feels solid. There’s nothing loose. I also absolutely dig the bright green paint job. Reminds me of a Granny Smith apple! 🙂

Ease of Use (read: How easy is it to dial in great tone)

This is where the THC really shines. What’s very helpful in this regard is the LED, which flashes with the according to how the Rate knob is set. I found myself setting this knob first, then setting the Depth knob for the wetness, then setting the width, which I mentioned is a very subtle feature, but it changes the character of the chorus, which is really cool. Note that it’s not something that I can’t really explain because at least to me, the change is more felt than heard.

How It Sounds

As with all gear that I give 5 Tone Bones, the THC sounds AMAZING! With a high rating like this, the tone really has to move me emotionally. Other gear that gets a lower rating, even gear with a 4.75 sounds great, but there’s something that “bugs” me. Not so with the THC. It’s one of those pedals where I can close my eyes, put a smile on my face, and just let my fingers do the talking. It’s that good!

I recorded a few clips of the pedal to demonstrate how it sounds. All clips were recorded with my trusty Squier CV Tele 50’s (middle pickup position) into my Aracom VRX22 and a 1 X 12 with a Jensen Jet Falcon:

All controls dead-center

Subtle: Depth at about 10am, Rate at 12pm, Width at 10am (added a touch of reverb)

Leslie: Depth at 2pm, Rate cranked, Width about 2pm

Heavy: Depth at 4pm, Rate at 1pm, Width 11am

With this clip I wanted to see how well it played with both delay and reverb, and it plays quite nicely. 🙂

Overall Impression

This is one of those pedals that I actually had never seen before. I’d heard of it, but went into the audition completely cold. If you have a dealer near you that carries these pedals, I encourage you to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

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No, not the sexual kind – though we do like that – but the spring reverb kind. 🙂 Specifically, I’m talking about the Tone Candy Spring Fever. I reviewed the Spring Fever back in May, and gave it a 4.5 Tone Bones. But now that I’ve got it and after spending a few hours with it last night, I’m now giving it 5.0 Tone Bones! Here’s why:

  1. As I said in my original review, the Spring Fever is just about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played. It sounds incredibly realistic, and unlike many of the digital varieties I’ve played, while it’s jangly with some top-end, it also doesn’t lose bottom end, so your tone stays nice and rich. That’s a little disconcerting to some folks because they’re used to a brighter tone, but for me, the retention of the bottom end is really what sold me on its tone, plus with the Spring Fever, you can go from subtle spring ‘verb, to rich, spacious, swirling surf tones, so there’s lots of variety on tap.
  2. What I didn’t get to test out in my original audition of the Spring Fever was its Volume knob which also acts as a clean boost if you turn the Reverb and Mix knobs all the way down. I’m not sure how much boost the pedal adds, but there’s enough boost on tap to slam the front end of your amp with loads of gain.

I particularly like the Volume knob because it solves a real problem for me when I play my acoustic gigs at venues where I have to plug directly into a PA board. My acoustics’ pickups don’t have much gain, and I usually have to crank up the volume faders on the board, which can be problematic as it makes it difficult to balance out the guitars’ volume with my vocals. I’ve solved this in the past by lugging my Presonus TUBEPre preamp with me, but that’s a bit of a pain to lug (read: extra gear, not because it’s heavy), and requires a separate 12V power supply. The Volume knob on the Spring Fever eliminates the need for me to bring a preamp with me. Nice.

If I have one complaint of the pedal, it has to be its finicky nature with power supplies, and will add some noise to the signal. Mike Marino explains this on the Spring Fever product page, and recommends some power supplies to use, such as the 1-Spot. I used the 1-Spot in my clips, and when the Spring Fever was activated, there was a slight, but noticeable hiss. This has to do with the power supply, and not the pedal. This also happens when I use my MXR Carbon Copy with the 1-Spot. When I hook it up to a regulated power supply like a Dunlop DC Brick, the pedal is as quiet as can be. So despite Mike’s recommendation about the 1-Spot, don’t use it. Get a regulated power supply like the DC Brick. Luckily, I have an extra DC Brick, so that will be powering my mini board.

How It Sounds

As I said, the Spring Fever is about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played! Capable of producing a wide range of reverb, this pedal will be a permanent fixture on my board! I’ve still got to play around with it some more, but I recorded a few clips to give you an idea of what it can do. The clips below were all recorded using my 1958 Fender Champ output to a Jensen Jet Falcon 1 X 12. I start out each clip with a dry signal, then play it again with some “grease.” What that pedal adds with respect to spaciousness is amazing! All the clean clips were recorded at unity volume, while the dirty clips were played with the amp turned up to about 2pm, and the boost at 1pm with Mix and Reverb completely off. I wanted to demonstrate the clean boost and its effect on an overdriven amp.

Les Paul, Middle Pickup, Fingerstyle. Reverb: 11am, Mix:10 am

Left Channel: Les Paul Middle Pickup, Reverb and Mix same settings as above
Right Channel: Les Paul Neck Pickup, Reverb: Dimed, Mix: 8pm

I love the right channel track on this clip. Turned up all the way, you get this cavernous room sound, but with the Mix set real low, it becomes a much more subtle effect, providing almost a delay-like ambience without the echos.

Squier CV Tele Middle Pickup. Reverb: 10am, Mix 10am
MXR Carbon Copy with long delay time, Mix at about 10am

Les Paul Middle Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Squier CV Tele Bridge Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Overall Impression

Yeah, it’s pricey at $275, though you can find it at a lower price if you look. But I haven’t heard as a good a spring reverb pedal like this – ever. And the fact that it has a booster in it just rocks! For me, and especially for my acoustic gigs, this is a game changer!

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I was so excited to finally get one of these several months ago! I played it A LOT until the original caps finally wore out and started to leak both fluid and the amp started leaking electricity (i.e. I could feel current when I touched the amp – not good!

So I had my good friend and amp genius, Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps overhaul the amp. I just got it back a few days ago, and it totally kicks ass! Among Jeff’s mods were:

  1. Replace the original two-prong cord with a grounded three-prong cord. For this, he had to make some adjustments to the heater.
  2. Replace the original caps with new Sprague paper caps.
  3. Replaced the original speaker with a new Weber 8″ speaker.
  4. Provide a way for me to use either the internal speaker or an external cabinet. This was done by connecting the output wire to a jack and running that into a custom switch box that he constructed.

But Jeff actually did one better, and that was to put the amp chassis in a larger tweed cabinet that had a 10″ speaker. What a difference in volume and tone!

That amp is VERY special, and it’s not a small wonder why Jeff Beck is now using Champs. He can get great tones at lower volumes! For instance, here’s a new praise song I recorded using just the Champ for the guitar tracks. The rhythm track was recorded using the 10″ speaker with the mic at the rim of the speaker cone pointed along the angle of the paper so I could capture more of the low frequencies. The “lead,” overdriven guitar used a closed-back external 1 X 12 cabinet with a Jensen Jet Falcon. It sounds like it’s coming from a much bigger amp!

For guitars, I used my trusty Squier CV Tele for the clean rhythm, and used my Gibson R8 Les Paul for the “lead.”

The thing that struck me about playing the amp was how it really responded and felt like an amp 10X its size. The touch-sensitivity and dynamics, especially when cranked, are spectacular with lots of overtones and harmonics. Being naturally brightly voiced, this amp never gets muddy. It’s actually rather unsettling to play this amp at times because it sounds much bigger than it actually is. That’s VERY cool!

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Pictured above are an original 1959 Les Paul and Allison Stokke. Don’t know about her? Look her up on Google. For this particular article, any hot chick will do…

So… you’re on a boat and the captain is taking you to a remote, desert island to strand you there. He says, “I might be mean, but I’m not cruel. So I will give you a chance to choose between two things to have on the island with you. First, you can have a rare, 1959 Gibson Les Paul in Sunburst. I’ll provide you with a Marshall JTM45, and a power supply that can recharge with solar power so you’ll be able to play any time. Or… I let you have [pointing towards the gorgeous young woman] her. What be yer choice matey?”

The captain goes on to say that you shouldn’t be hasty in your decision and that you should consider these important points:

  • Both are incredibly beautiful
  • Both will make your creativity soar when you touch them
  • Both will give you joy for years to come

So what would be your choice and why? 🙂

I’ll share mine once I hear from a few folks…

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Yeah, yeah, just about every guitar blog has one of these posts, which is why I haven’t done one of these in the almost four years that GuitarGear.org has been around. The main reason was that I didn’t just want to post a “hot babe” list. I wanted to post women guitarists who are – to me – beautiful and talented and successful, and they have to be able to really play the guitar; in other words, they’re also great musicians, and not just eye candy. In addition, to make my list, to me, they have to ooze their femininity without resorting to raunchiness. Finally, and very importantly, I have to like the music they play.

1. Nancy Wilson

Topping the list is Nancy Wilson. I’ve had the hots for her since the 70’s! The she’s played the role of “sidewoman,” for Heart, she’s never been one to just look pretty on stage. She’s a great rhythm and acoustic guitarist!

2. Ana Vidovic

Ana Vidovic comes in a close second to Nancy and only comes in second because I’ve been in love with Nancy longer. 🙂 I first heard her play on a recording before I ever saw her, and loved her playing. Then to finally see what she looked like – OMG!!! By far, she is the most beautiful woman on my list, and her playing equals her beauty.

3. Sheryl Crow

Say what you want about Sheryl Crow, she is one of my favorite songwriters. I love her musical ideas and voice, and those just add to her attractiveness.

4. Gabriela Quintero

The female half of Rodrigo y Gabriela, this dynamic duo started out as metal players then converted to classical guitars and play a sizzling flamenco style, with Gabriela providing the complex flamenco rhythms to back Rodgrio’s solos. I first saw them a few years ago on a late-night show, and couldn’t believe the energy they had! It was marvelous! Then to see this gorgeous, sexy Latina ripping it up on her classical guitar. I was in love!

5. Tal Wilkenfeld

Okay, okay. I know, she’s a bass player, but she did start out as a guitarist, and she’s so damn talented and so naturally beautiful that I would be remiss in not including her in my list. As Jeff Beck’s bassist, she’s absolutely amazing. I could only hope to play solos on guitar as well as she does on bass. Her musical sense and phrasing is purely amazing.

I first heard of her through Ignacio “Ig” Gonzales when he had his popular blog, “igblog.” He was in love with Tal, and he spread his “Tal Fever” to all of us who followed his blog. If you’re not familiar with her, search for her on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean.

Well, that’s my Top 5 List. Though my musical passion is rock and roll, I do listen to a lot of different music, and these chicks cover that territory for me.

One that I didn’t put on the list is Nora Jones, whom I’ve had a crush on for a long time, and though she actually does play guitar, and I love her music, guitar’s not her primary instrument, so she didn’t make the list, but she definitely would be in my top three were I to expand the instrumentation.

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I keep track of search terms people use to find my blog, and the search term “ana vidovic” is #2 on the list!

For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why this was because if I do a search on Google or Bing, the link to the article that wrote about her doesn’t show up for several pages. But then I clicked on the search engines’ “Images” link, and for some reason, the image I used in the article is near the top! Ha!

While weird, I don’t mind because it means that people are finding my blog, which is a good thing. It’s also rather amusing that it seems as if people (read: guys) are more interested in looking at her than listening to her. 🙂 Granted, she’s stunningly beautiful…

And as to her beauty, to me, she’s the perfect woman: Gorgeous, she’s a great guitar player, and obviously intelligent to be able to play classical guitar as well as she does – which takes a lot of study. You go girl!

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Wow! Been a long time since I’ve written a song – worship or otherwise – so I’m pretty jazzed about getting the inspiration to be able to get something down. I was getting a bit worried about not coming up with any ideas, but this one just came to me yesterday, so I worked out a simple arrangement. My band performed it at Mass this evening, and it went over real well. Can’t wait until we get the full compliment of instrumentation together to do this number again. In any case, give it a listen and let me know what you think.

As far as guitars are concerned, there’s a single one in this initial recording, and that’s my Squier CV Tele. For my amp, I’m using my ’58 Fender Champ that Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps fixed for me and put into a gorgeous tweed cabinet with a Weber 10″ speaker. We’re talking about actually making a head cabinet for the amp so I can hook it up to any cabinet.

While it’s just a single guitar, I recorded the amp off-axis with the microphone placed at the edge of the speaker along the line of speaker cone so I’d pick up more lows. And unlike most of my recordings, I EQ’d the guitar to bring out the bass a little more (not much bass with a single 10″ speaker).

Mind you, this is purely spec right now. I just wanted to get the idea and basic arrangement down so I wouldn’t lose it, so excuse the little mistakes I made; they’ll be fixed in the final version of the song. 🙂

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