Dotted Eighth Delay Studies

Setting up the U2/Hillsong delay in a variety of situations.

The Sessionists

Esther Subra (vocals), Serena Chew (keys), Justin (guitars), Alphonsus (drums and percussion)

Thoughts on G.A.S.

Why you should save up for an expensive guitar.

Setting Up Disaster Area DPC-8EZ and DMC-8D MIDI Controllers

An easy-to-follow video tutorial to get those patches programmed!

An Overview of My YouTube Channel

Feel free to browse some of the playlists on my channel. Hopefully this leads to you liking and subscribing!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bridge Over a Troubled Tele

My telecaster came fitted with a "vintage" style 3-piece saddle, which looks like this:
I'll admit, it looks really good and contributes to the allure of a vintage telecaster. It's colloquially known as the ashtray bridge--so called because the full bridge came with an outer case assembly (to keep a streamlined look) that players would take off and use as ashtrays. I wasn't sure I was totally digging the "vintage" tone, but I did miss the ability to intonate individual strings by having individual saddles. Intonating the 3-piece bridge wasn't an easy task, and it often requires a fair bit of time to get it right.

I then swapped it out with this bridge:

I can almost see your horrified expressions and hear the gasps--yes, it's a pretty bare-basic cheap bridge which I got only for the reason of being able to intonate each string. I didn't hear any noticeable change in tone, which could mean one of two things: that there is really no difference between a 3-piece and a 6-piece saddle bridge (please excuse me while I dodge the ashtray covers from the Tele purists), or my ear is really so dull that the change to me really is non-existent.

However, as much as I loved being able to intonate my Tele better, another problem soon cropped up: if you notice the saddle design, it's not exactly the sturdiest thing around. I soon developed the problem of digging so deep into the strings (as a result of my heavy hand) that I'd dislodge the saddle piece. I couldn't play heavily on my Tele, which was a shame considering that a large part of the Tele "twang" resided in the ability to really dig into the guitar.

This awkward setup lasted 6 months before I couldn't stand it any further. I went on to treat myself with something I've always wanted to try:

I went ahead with the Bigsby tremolo. I didn't use a vibramate (which is an additional metal frame to avoid drilling into the guitar) because I wanted maximum vibration between the Bigsby and the body. I also used a Jaguar bridge, which is a trade-off: you can't adjust the string height like on a traditional Tele bridge, but you can adjust intonation. And it's a lot more solid than the cheapo-6-bridge, so I'm back to being able to dig deep into the string without buzzing or breaking something.

Here's the thing about Bigsby which I'd like to make clear for those of you intending to install one: it doesn't change your tone. It doesn't make a Tele sound any less than a Tele, and it won't make that big a difference in "fullness" of tone (as the Bigsby guys try to convince you in their installation videos). What it does affect primarily is playability:
  • Of course, your Tele can now do slight warbles with the Bigsby vibrato.
  • The lower string tension allows you to bend easier, so that helps heaps for people with a light left-hand touch like me.
  • It's a stable system which keeps the instrument better in tune, even if you were to use the vibrato bar liberally (then again, it could also be due to the fact that I have locking tuners, so please leave a comment if I'm wrong about this)
  • For some strange reason, maybe because of the bridge pickup plate installed with the Bigsby, the bridge pickup responds differently. It breaks up less harshly and isn't as biting, which is a good thing for me since I dial out treble when I play with my Tele anyway. Ok, so there was a slight tone difference.
What bridge do you have on your Tele? Are you a purist who insists that everyone stick with the 3-piece bridge, or are you engineering-inclined like me who prefers intonation and playability over tone?

For further reading:

Tone Revision 3 (aka The Never-ending Story Part 20-Something)

There's a very high turn-over rate of pedals on my pedalboard. I've downsized from this:

Mounted on a Pedaltrain Pro, mid 2011

To this:

Mounted on a Pedaltrain 3, late 2011
I got rid of the Biyang pedals, not that they sounded bad, but I just didn't need two choruses and two delays (my Deluxe Electric Mistress can achieve tones from a mild chorus to a faux Leslie). The Biyang Chorus also added a lot of background noise even when disengaged, which I'm told is normal for certain mod pedals. The stacked delay sound was nice, but nobody could tell the difference when I used it.

I got rid of the equalizer because I realized I could make do with the EQ on my overdrive pedals, and there was some noise coming from it. (It appears that the pricier your pedal, the less likely it will have noise in the chain. Something I should have known a long time ago.) I sold off the GR-20 'cause I realized I should concentrate on being a better guitarist than trying to sound like every other instrument.

And now, my pedalboard looks like this:
This installment saw
  • Replacements: I changed from a Korg DT-10 to a Pitchblack for its smaller size, and changed the AC Booster to a BB Preamp, which I much preferred.
  • Arrangement: All my drive pedals are on the lowest tier, to help in visualizing the signal flow.
  • Additions: A SansAmp GT2 for amp simulation when I don't have an amp, and a Visual Sound H20 for an extra layer of chorus and delay. 
Yes, I'm back to two choruses and delays. But I got the H20 because I originally wanted to use it just for my Taiwan gig and needed those sounds in a relatively small, combined enclosure. I then found a way of hooking it up and squeezing the pedalboard arrangement so that I now have no more space for any new pedals. In all honesty, the pedalboard turn-over stopped when I finally ran out of pedalboard real estate.

How do you stop your pedalboard turnover? And in a related question, when does your GAS stop?

For further viewing (my Quick Question on GAS):

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Curse of Canaan

Why did Noah curse his grandson Canaan? Taking a cursory glance of the passage, it reads that this boy’s father, Ham, saw Noah’s nakedness, and as a result, Noah cursed Canaan, who became the patriarch of Israel’s enemies, the Canaanites. The story seems capricious on the surface, in contrast to the largely reasonable historical account of Genesis. The key to understanding the passage lies in understanding the cultural context in which this passage is written, and the phrase that seems to make little sense in the English language is that Ham "saw his father's nakedness".

As it is with any language, one way to communicate an idea differently is to use a figure of speech. Some of the Bible’s figures of speech are euphemisms that promote modesty. For example, instead of saying that Adam had sexual intercourse with Eve, the Bible more politely says that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Gen. 4:1). And Moses writes, “the man who lies with” rather than using the modern and more crude phrase, “has sex with.” The reader who misses these common figures of speech will misunderstand the plain meaning of various passages.

Moses authored the first five books of the Bible (wherein Genesis is a part of), and God through Moses used the same decency when describing other physical relations. For example, when prohibiting incest in the Mosaic Law, rather than saying, "a man shall not have intercourse with his mother", Moses wrote that he shall not “uncover his father’s nakedness.”

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ Lev. 20:11

Other scriptures which employ this Hebrew figure of speech can be found elsewhere:

‘If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness. … ‘If a man takes his brother's wife… He has uncovered his brother's nakedness.’ Lev. 20:20-21

Committing incest with any female “near of kin” can be described as “uncovering his nakedness” (Lev. 18:6), referring to the appropriate male relative, including the nakedness of your father (with your mother, Lev. 18:7), or your sister, granddaughter, stepsister, aunt, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law (Lev. 18:9-15). Of course, this can also be described in more literal terms as uncovering the woman’s nakedness, but it can also be referred to, idiomatically, as referring to the husband’s, father’s, brother's, uncle’s, or son’s nakedness. Her nakedness can equal his nakedness because as Paul writes, your body is “not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19), and from this perspective, your mother’s body belongs to your father. Thus:

‘The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness’ Lev. 18:8

Ezekiel used this figure of speech in this Hebrew parallelism:

“In you [O Israel] men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women…” Ezek. 22:10

And Habakkuk condemns not the sin of homosexuality but of getting your neighbor drunk in order to seduce his wife, when he warns:

“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!” Hab. 2:15;

Habakkuk warns against looking upon a neighbor’s nakedness, which is just the slightest alternate form of uncovering his nakedness. (See also Leviticus 18:10, 14, 17-18; 1 Samuel 20:30 and Ezekiel 22:10-11.)

So, understanding this common Hebrew figure of speech enables the reader to comprehend Moses’ 3,500-year-old account of why Noah cursed Canaan:

…Ham was the father of Canaan [which is the actual topic of this story]… And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent [his own drunkenness left his wife vulnerable and exposed to Ham’s wickedness]. And Ham, the father of Canaan [repeated to emphasize the point of the story, and to correct any possible ancient misconception about the real identity of Canaan's father], saw the nakedness of his father [that is, he had sex with Noah’s wife, Ham’s own mother], and told his two brothers outside [as wicked people often brag of their sin, and as misery loves company, perhaps even inviting them to do likewise]. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father [refusing to take part in what was apparently a rape, and literally giving her a covering, probably with an animal skin, and in hopes of beginning the healing process for her and their family]. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness [i.e., their mother’s nude body]. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him [Ham had violated Noah's wife, which he found out from her and his other sons]. Then he said [after he learned of the pregnancy]: “Cursed be Canaan [whose father was Ham]…" Gen. 9:18, 20-25

Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father. Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as a hex or evil spell, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways. This account, at the very beginning of the repopulation of the Earth, also helps to explain the world's ubiquitous taboo of incest between parent and child, found by anthropologists to exist in virtually every known age and in virtually every known culture. The lesson was a harsh one to learn. Canaan was cursed inherently by being conceived through incest. The law of reaping and sowing inexorably applies to the children of fallen men. A father's alcoholism punishes his child, not by fiat from God (nor Noah) but by the cause and effect that children suffer under bad parenting, an unavoidable part of man's fallen existence until God ends this phase of human history. So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendents, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites.

While the story of Canaan’s curse follows the Creation and Flood accounts, rightly understood it helps us to see that all throughout, Genesis is a rational book of history.

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