Sunday, December 18, 2022

ADAM Audio Soundtrack Competition 2022

 I like the chance to win stuff, especially when it's something like studio monitors from the companies like ADAM Audio! Write a quick piece of music for a commercial. Sounds easy enough, but not always. When they announced it a few weeks ago I thought about some different ideas and came up with the basic idea which combined some obvious elements from U2 and David Bowie. But I wasn't happy with it because it needed something else in last third of the video. Then I got injured and kind of forgot about it. I realized a couple of days ago that I needed to finish it so I laid down a guitar solo at the end. The drums and keys are from Logic, the Bass is MODO BASS and the guitars are all Amplitube 5. Enjoy

Sunday, September 25, 2022

More Than a Minor Feeling

 Recently while scrolling through social media I came across a TikTok creator and music guy @jimlapbap_music who takes more famous songs and plays them in very different genres of music. Things like taking Sweet Child of Mine as an Irish Jig, or Never Gonna Give You Up as a Sea Shanty. The results can be quite amusing but also it's a good exercise in learning to do production. Another run of songs he was doing was "Halloween" style songs. This was more 70s kid show "spooky" and he mentioned that part of the trick is taking upbeat songs and playing them in a minor key. So I thought I could do that. First I chose an upbeat classic rock song, Boston's More Than a Feeling. I slowed it down and transposed it to the minor key. Then I opened up logic and played the chords on a B3, I double the bass notes with a Cello and played the melody (in the minor key) on a glockenspiel. I added some wind blowing sounds and used Glitchmachines Fractal, a great free plugin, to make that glitchy. Then I added a creeky door sample and sent all the instruments to some reverb. On top of it all I used Izotope's Vinyl to warp the whole thing and lastly Ozone 9 to give it some glue. I've done a few other songs in different genres and it can be a lot of fun. Reimagining songs in to different genre is a great way to stretch your producer chops and learn how to use different instruments and effects in your DAW. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Keeley HALO Andy Timmons Dual Delay Review

It's been a long time coming, but the Keeley Electronics Halo aka Andy Timmons Dual Delay pedal is finally here and I couldn't resist ordering it as soon as it came out. And I can't stop playing it! Not surprisingly it's a gorgeous sounding delay that is both versatile and easy to use. 

Andy Timmons sound has more to do with his phrasing and attack than anything else and like most of us his tone has evolved over time. If you're trying to replicate the sounds in the Mesa Boogie video from 2009 you might be disappointed to learn that this isn't exactly that. This is a very versatile yet easy to use, small form factor delay pedal that has the delay sound that Andy has been dialing in for the last few years.

In an interview with Doug Doppler Andy talked about moving from the Echoplex to the Deluxe Memory Man to the Strymon Timeline. They all sound great but the Echoplex and DMM would break down easily  and while the Strymon is a fantastic do it all delay he only used a few sounds out of it and felt like if he could have those sounds in a small pedal then that would be the one. Then he heard the Keeley ECCOS, a small highly tweakable programable delay pedal that sounded as good as the Timeline. So after spending a few days with Robert and his team the idea of the Halo was born. 

This is not a Do It ALL delay. It doesn't do ping pong delays, and you can't have two different times on two different amps like in the old Mesa Boogie video. It's also not Midi capable. So if you need those things this may not be the delay pedal for you. So what can you do with it? 

First off I want to take about the quality of the sound. I tend to use 4 different delay sounds, and a lot of programable digital delays can end up sounding anemic to my ears. My favorite delay for a while now has been the Way Huge Echo Puss, but I can't program that to have all 4 sounds readily at my disposal. But the Halo can do both and more. The delay sounds are full and warm, you can add tape style saturation, bucket brigade grit and modulation to the repeats. Beautiful ambient soundscapes are as readily available as simple slapback sounds. 

The 5 knobs on the top of the pedal all double in function giving you access to 9 different parameters with the main functions being the ones you'll use the most. The alternate functions are things most people will program and leave alone like the high pass filter and saturation. There is also tap tempo and a "hold" available via the foot switches. There are stereo in and out jacks and jacks to plug in an expression pedal and remote switches and there are 4 banks each with two presets for a total of 8 programable presets. That's a lot of options for a pedal that is smaller than the Echo Puss! 

With all of these options you might wonder how easy it is to use. It's very simple. I sat down a couple of days after I got the Halo with my main sound on my EchoPuss to see how close I could get. It took me about 20 minutes of going back and forth. There is a slight difference in the way the two pedals saturate but otherwise they sounded identical. One of the cool features is that when you turn a knob a blue light lets you know that you've changed something. If you turn that knob back to its original spot the light turns off! Now you'll know exactly where you had that knob to begin with. Brilliant!!

Paired with the AT+ Drive the first setting is instant Timmons tone! Now I understand all the reverb type sounds I was hearing on Andy's livestreams. It's part of the first setting, the way that the delays sit just behind what you're playing and also build a bit of a pad around the notes reminds me of reverb. If you use an expression pedal this might be all you ever need. You can set up the expression pedal to connect to any of the parameters but if you just plug it in it will control the overall level of the repeats so when you roll it back the first setting adds just enough ambiance to your sound to add a little something but then when you add it back it's a perfect trail of notes for long meandering solos. Running in stereo it does add an interesting bouncing back and forth with this setting but it's not exactly ping pong. I absolutely love the hold button that lets you hold those sounds and let them build up. It's ideal for when you need to fill space in a song with something interesting. 

I find most delay pedals can either do nice ambient behind the note sounds or dotted 8th type delays. The ones that can do both well are larger and expensive. The Halo can easily do both of these and with a sound quality that rivals the best in the business. Gilmour-ish type soaring lead delays? Check. EVH Cathedral type delay? Check. U2 dotted eighth delays? Check! Old school slap back? Easy. Tape Saturation? Done!

As I stated before, there are things this pedal doesn't do (like midi) but if you don't need those functions this delay pedal is certainly worth checking out. I can't think of another delay pedal that has this quality of sound, and has this many features in this small of a package. 

I'm working on a track that will highlight some of the sounds of the Halo that should be available soon. Also yes I purchased this with my own money I did not receive compensation in any way for this review and my thoughts and comments are completely my own. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A Surprise Find and a not so Surprise Incoming Pedal

 Last week my family and I were on vacation and spend a couple of days in Athens GA. There is a music scene there that I didn't know existed and its a pretty cool place. I found a couple of guitar stores to check out and one of those stores was Classic City Guitars which is mostly cool vintage gear. One of which was an original Ibanez SD-9 Sonic Distortion! Now the only thing I knew about them was that Scott Henderson and Mike Landau liked them but I tried it out and he gave me a good price. So why the heck not. I'll be posting a review after I've spent some time with it. 

We were driving back from Athens on Friday June 10th and I remembered that Robert had said they had something coming out on that day. So about 10 till 1 we stopped for lunch. I checked my email, then Instagram, then the Keeley site, then Sweetwater back to Instagram..... BOOM there it was the Keeley Halo Andy Timmons Dual Delay! I've never in my life hit the buy button so fast. 

We got back home that night and I watched the Keeley videos about the Halo. I spent a good part of Saturday resting from the trip and watching YouTube videos from various reviewers. Pete Thorn, Bret Kingman of course but also Rebea Massaad and found The Pedal Zone which is more Ambient and Post Rock stuff, very cool. 

I'm certainly looking forward to checking out these pedals and if you follow my Insta @adhd_guitarist you'll see lots of pics and probably some videos. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Warm Audio WA-12 Review

I wasn't originally going to do a "review" of this product. While I've played through numerous versions of a Tube Screamer, I don't have a lot of experience with outboard gear. But I I got a great deal from Sweetwater (who is currently blowing out the orange version) and was surprised at how much easier this has made my workflow. Let me explain. 

My old interface was a cheap one, just something to experiment with, and you had to chose mic/line or instrument level before you plugged something in. If you plugged in a TRS cable and turned on the phantom power it would send phantom power over the TRS cable, which I guess can be useful, but could also fry a mic pre. My current interface is the IK Multimedia AXE I/O. It's a 2 in 5 out interface that has good quality clean mic pre's built in. With the AXE I/O when you turn on phantom power it sends it to both inputs, but there is a kill switch when you input a TRS which in turn removes the phantom power from just that one. (there is another one when you plug in an instrument, this is smart) It is well known that microphones will make a bigger impact on your sound than a preamp, and you can get those preamp sounds out of plugins. So why buy the Warm Audio WA-12 when I can get those sounds in a plugin?

Flexibility: The WA-12 has a TRS line level out as well as a mic out. So before if I was using two mics they either had to be two dynamic mics or two condenser (phantom powered) mics. Now I can have either or both. 

Headroom: Line level is higher which therefor offers more headroom. This allows more dynamic range out of my mics, I can run them quieter so that it doesn't pickup as much room noise or higher for more details. 

Louder perceived volume: The WA-12 is based on the old API312 preamp. As you crank the input volume of the mic it hits a transformer that adds 2nd order harmonics adding saturation to the recording. Once again you can do this with plugins but you can add very subtle saturation and actually lower the overall volume level of your recorded track while making it sound louder! Now if you want a lot of saturation click the pad button and crank the input and you're in saturated heaven. 

Tone Choices: There is a button on the front of the WA-12 marked tone. This changes the impedance of the preamp which, depending on the mic, can alter the tone. It's a great cure for cheaper overly bright mics. 

So now I can leave more stuff plugged in. I don't have to decide between only dynamics or condensers when recording with two mics. I have more available dynamic headroom out of the AXE I/O. I have more tone options. 

I'm starting to feel like this is a rabbit hole. Like I can see some sort of patch bay working it's way into my setup and then a bit more rack gear.... oh boy. haha. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

50 More Miles

"Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious cunsumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio" - Hunter S Thompson

I've been listening to a lot of 90's music lately. Stuff like Failure, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Music you would only find in the last half hour of 120 Minutes or in the bargain bin of the local record shop. Maybe you would hear about it from a cool friend, but often times you would just see an interesting album cover that caught your eye. Much of it was experimental and meandering without the pretentiousness of progressive music. 

I've also been rewatching some of my favorite 90's movies. Killing Zoe, Kaliforna, Best Laid Plans. It was always funny to me because at the time they were considered "ultra-violent" when really they were trying to be the next Pulp Fiction. Often times the violence over shadowed the story when talked about in the press but I've always enjoyed the story of a desperate guy trying to get out of a bad situation. These and heist films are my favorites, Killing Zoe is both. 

The other day I was out with the family and this idea came to me that I sang into my iPhone. I was thinking more Smashing Pumpkins and when I got home and started jamming on this droning meandering idea. The original melody became the chorus of the song, but immediately I had a very different idea that became the verses. I picked a drum loop that fit the feel of the song. I grabbed my seven string guitar and came up with more ideas. I plugged in my Keeley Monterey Fuzz and that's when everything came together. Experimental, meandering music driven only by the guitar and drums. 

I started picturing someone driving across the desert at night trying to finish a journey. Exhausted, cranky, they just want to get to their destination. How much longer... about 50 more miles. Boom. That's what reminded me of my favorite Hunter S Thompson quote. 

Experimental, droning, fuzzy feedback in an amp that sounds like it is melting down.... all good things. I did three takes on the guitar and most of what you hear is the 2nd one. I changed up parts of the drum loop to play to the music. As I did the mix down I pushed the hell out of the buss compressor and at a couple of points in the song when I hit a low G on the seven string it sounds like the limiter chokes, this giant blooming sound obliterating everything in the mix. It's glorious. This is not commercial music. I don't care. I write and record music for me and anyone else that might enjoy it. 

If you'd like to buy me a drink my music is available on Bandcamp here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

So You Wanna be a Cowboy: In Memory of the Man I Knew

 The Best Man
"Because I am a cowboy and realize that regardless of obstacles and having my ideal situation that, at the end of the day, everything comes from my head and my hands, and I can translate that to anyone, anytime, anywhere"- Bryan Baker

My family moved from the city to a small town north of Orlando in the summer of 88. As I started my junior year and meeting new people I met this guy, and he and I just kind of gravitated to each other. We worked together at the Winn Dixie. We played endless hours of basket ball, tennis and pool. We got into crazy adventures and talked for hours about life. We bonded over our love of muscle cars and bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. He was one of the funniest and most charming people I've ever met. I've never met anyone who could focus on a goal 110% like he could. He also taught me to see what I thought were my weakness as strengths. On top of this he was the most generous and encouraging person I've ever known. 

Jeff, Mr Thornhill, Brian

He was a romantic. I don't mean in the silly Hollywood version of the word but more in the classical sense, an emphasis on the aesthetic experience. He loved hole in the wall restaurants and the notion of cowboys. The intellectual debate and the ebb and flow of storytelling. It was the way he would build things up and timing in which he delivered. If anyone else said the same thing it might not have been funny at all but we would spend hours laughing. 

He loved pushing himself long after others given up, even when it frightened him. For all of his success, it was never about the stuff. It was working toward the goal that drove him, when he had a goal nothing would stop him. And he believed that even the most mundane of task could be raised to an artistic level of consciousness. So if it had to be repeated, why not make it beautiful in form or function. 

Me, Jeff, Noel, Loc, Brian

I owe him so much. And not just for the memories but for so many good things in my life that I might not have if he hadn't encouraged me. Music. The reason he liked Bon Jovi was the whole modern cowboy aesthetic. Wanted Dead or Alive is a song I will always associate with him but the album New Jersey was the sound track to many of our adventures. So of course when the news came of his passing I listened to that album to honor and remember. 

The track Ride Cowboy Ride is kind of a joke it's not even a song just something they started and threw in as an intro to Stick to Your Guns. But I have this memory of riding around one night in a 72 El Camino singing at the top our lungs over and over again and laughing hysterically at our own absurdity. And so this is how I choose to honor him.

As the years went by we drifted, caught up in the daily hustle of changing jobs and moving from place to place. We would check in on each other from time to time. We met for dinner in November of 2021 and I had a zoom call with him and a couple of other friends in February, with plans to talk in April and possibly get together over the summer of 2022. I'm so grateful that I got to catch up with him that those last couple of times, and I will forever be grateful for his friendship. 

Me, April Fresh, Brian