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!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Using Instagram as a Gear-a-holic

I was never one to use Instagram until I started following Matthews Effects and Pedal Projects. These guys post regularly on Instagram as one of their main communication streams to update customers (and fans like me) on their recent work, news, developments, and general updates. They are able to get instant notifications on comments and can respond very quickly to specific posts. I think it's a novel way to use social media to keep in touch with your clientele, especially since guitarists are naturally tech-savvy people!

How does it work?
Like other social media sites, the @ and # tags are integral to the use of Instagram. @ tags are for users, and adding them into both your caption and your comment section will push them a notification that they've been tagged (depending on how they've set up their notifications on their smart devices). This is useful for starting conversations or to "forward" a post to a friend who might be interested in it.

For example, I post a picture of my rig just before a gig:

And if Friend A wants to let Friend B in on the photo, he'll post in the comment like:

"@FriendB check out this guy's EHX LPB-1 and Mooer Shimverb!" (Ok, terrible example, but you get the picture)

Hash tags (#) are to include topics in a post, which will make it searchable by other users. Gear communities like @Gearaholic, @Knowyourtone and @Toneheaven encourage users to # them, which effectively shares the post with the wider community. # can also be used in both captions and comments. Here's a list that I currently use, and feel free to use them in your own posts!


I see Instagram as a great way to:

1. Get pedalboard ideas
I got quite a few build ideas with my Pedaltrain PT-3 from searching up other users. This can go horribly wrong because it may stir up the GAS in you, so ogle with caution! 

2. Meet other guitarists/pedal makers/manufacturers
I love my country, but it's so small that the gear market only carries "mainstream" stuff. With Instagram, I'm able to contact the makers directly, and they're such a joy to talk to! Notably, Rick Matthews from @MatthewsEffects and Asgeir Helgi from @PedalProjects are great people.

3. Posting/hearing gear demos
@GearDemoGram and @PedalProjects are good examples of how the short video function in Instagram can be used to demonstrate gear, using the iPhone audio as a gauge. I know, it's not the best of audio, but it's decent enough to hear 75% of the pedal's "vibe". It's inspiring me to make use of this medium to 

4. Participate in competitions, give-aways, sales
Boutique pedal makers and mainstream manufacturers make use of the holiday season (or when they're in a good mood) to promote their wares. Most of them require the simple procedure of # the relevant topic, like #trexgiveaway, and tagging other users as a shout-out.

So, if you're a guitarist and want to tap into social media, why not give Instagram a spin? Find me @justicepao (it's the nickname I used when I played DOTA back in my uni days)

For further reading:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Feel of an Amplifier

I never had a noise issue with the neighbors. When I was starting out, I learnt to shred on a PODxt played through my computer speakers, so the volume was always under control. When I now have the room space and the funds to purchase an actual amp, I seem to have outgrown my shredder phase, and by association, the need for a tube amp.

That being said, I have experienced the joy of a tube amp at its sweet spot. And sometimes, those sweet spots are unavoidably loud. I fondly remember a day in Sydney when I heard an authentic early-era Marshall (with the block logo!) with KT-66 tubes in it. The shop owner grinned at me when I enquired about it and said, "Get ready to hear how heaven sounds like!" It was non-master volume, and when he strummed that E major chord, I almost nearly thought I saw a reinactment of the famous guitar-amp-sends-Michael-Fox-flying scene. Except there was no broken glass. Or people flying.

Amps are made to be loud. The one aspect of playing through an amplifier that digital modeling cannot capture is the feel of the amp, when the speaker and cabinet vibrate, transferring that mechanical energy to the surroundings.

I can think of three contributory factors to the feel of an amp:

1. Cabinet size. Closed-back, open-back, speaker configuration of 1, 2 or 4, cabinet material, whether the cabinet is enclosed with the electronics (like a combo), or separate, height and angle of elevation--these things affect how the cabinet vibrates. In my opinion, amp stands are less helpful than they appear to be. Although they help to point an amp to the guitarist, you will lose a lot of low end because the amp is no longer in contact with the ground. 

2. Power. Many of today's amps are headed towards the micro-amp head design, with smaller wattage ranges from 5W all the way down to 1/4W. Having watched these adverts, I think while the amp makers mean well and present a simple amp design, they over-simplify the role of power in an amp. A small tube amp with a small wattage will never sound big--the speakers aren't being driven hard enough (and probably not big enough either). In my experience, a guitar amp starts to truly sing when the power section runs at 30W. Remember, a tube amp running at 30W is a lot louder than a solid state amp running at 30W.

3. Speaker size. Again, as a result of the micro-amp design, the market is seeing a rise in popularity of 10" and 8" speaker cabs. Now, this is not to say that amps in small speakers are inferior, they're just different--anyone who's played a Supro amp or a Fender Champ will tell you that despite its tiny size, the amp can serve up an incendiary tone. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the amp and the speakers, the faster the amp breaks up when the volume is turned up. And because the speakers are small, the breakup sounds different to a larger cab being driven hard. Both kinds of tones are palatable and definitely usable; it's just a matter of taste.

For further reading:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CMAT Mods Buffer Test

I just got a hold of a CMAT Mods Buffer, a tiny little green pedal that I've mounted to the underside of my pedalboard using velcro (it seems to hold well with the patch cable tension).

I conducted a test to check the effect of a buffer. I only changed the placement of the buffer, and the test was as follows:
  1. The pedalboard without the buffer
  2. The buffer placed at the front of the pedalboard
  3. The buffer placed at the end of the pedalboard

I couldn't tell that there was as significant improvement with my tone, possibly because I have Visual Sound and Boss pedals on my board. These pedals are buffered-bypass, which means that when the pedal is disengaged, there is a buffer that will be engaged to lower the impedance of the guitar signal. That being said, there is a difference in tone:

  1. Without the buffer, my tone seems darker and warmer--certainly the kind of tone I'm very used to.
  2. With the buffer in front, my clean tone has a brighter sparkle to it. The overdriven tones have a tad more brightness to it, which is usable.
  3. With the buffer at the back, the clean tone is slightly more bright, but still has some measure of warmth. The overdriven tones also have a bit more sustain (something which the previous owner told me would happen if I placed the buffer at the end of the chain).
So, with the three possible configurations, I decided on putting the buffer at the back. I like warm, clean tones that aren't too overly bright, and I like the effect of the buffer increasing the sustain of the overdriven tones.

For further reading:
CMAT Mods Buffer Product Page
Boss article on buffered-bypass

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Farewell, Fair Well

Well, it's time we all moved on. While I'm performing a factory reset of Chiyoko, I'll spend the next minute reminiscing. Chiyoko (which means offspring of a thousand generations) is a Variax 700 and was the guitar that got me into the fast lane of speed-picking. I learnt my licks and riffs from Dream Theater, Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani tunes off her.

Chiyoko also saw me through my university days. I would resolve to study harder, but she would beckon me to relax for a couple of minutes. Those minutes turned into hours of practicing my chops, jamming to my entire CD library, and just "messing around" the myriad of settings possible with the alternate tuning capabilities of the Variax.

Gigs were so fun with Chiyoko. I'd chuckle at a befuddled audience as is scrolled through electric, acoustic, resonator, sitar and 12-string patches within the set list (those were tough days of playing for "experimental" bands). I saved time in the studio by eliminating the need to change guitars after a good take.

But those days are behind me, and the listener of today is so exposed to digital music that the guitarist should be as organic and authentic as possible. So long, Chiyoko. You'll go on to be with people who will use you better. It's been real.

Blog Updates!

I have a blog, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr account, a Twitter account, and it seems like it's in vogue to have an online "blogshop" style website to promote your wares. While I'd like to think I'm not so mainstream as to follow the whims and fancies of the internet, Weebly is a very nice website builder to use!

I have a Weebly website now, at It's my new site to consolidate my new videos, new tweets, new blog posts, and make it easier for you to contact me!

I've progressively changed all my forum signatures to the Weebly--if you have noticed any dead links, please let me know. :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gear Review: Mooer Micro DI (with Cabinet Simulation)

Here's my review of the Mooer Micro DI, with a focus on the cabinet simulation feature. To provide some background, I gig pretty frequently and need to go amp-less most of the time. I needed a pedal with cabinet simulation so I can go direct into the venue's mixer.

The Mooer Micro DI is a great tool to have in your gig bag or on the pedalboard. Its cabinet simulation is actually pretty decent, although it sounds best with clean to moderate overdrive. Anything over the top, like high gain and heavy modulation, will tend towards the muddy side.

Feel free to check out my video reviews to hear how it sounds, first through a single-coil equipped guitar like a telecaster:

And then through a Les Paul:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Non-lexical Vocables in Worship: An Opinion

Have you heard of "whoa's" used in worship? There's a whole influx of modern worship songs that have this as a way to bridge between the lyrics. I know there's a whole theology of worship associated with non-lexical vocables (not proper words, almost onomatopoeia), and I agree that there is a way to worship God with these, but I personally think that "whoa", "oh", "yeah", "ooo" and other variants from the modern context of contemporary music have a greater difficulty finding its use in worshiping God.

Non-lexical vocables are usually derived from a culture's specific language. They usually have a cultural association attached to the "meaningless" syllables. Christian converts in these countries will very likely take these same syllables, recontextualize them in worship music, and in so doing attach new meaning to them. The entire process is culturally rich, serving the purpose of using the existing cultural vocabulary in the new context of worshiping God.

Here's why I think the contemporary appears less palatable: we usually associate "whoa", "oh" and "yeah" with mindless pop music. Sometimes, they're used to good effect (for example, a song that helps to rally people together), but most of the time, they sound like the lyricist ran out of creative juices and had 30s of air time to fill in the gaps in the song.

Maybe my opinion is a little biased because I firmly believe that if something is meaningless, it shouldn't be there to clutter up what is meaningful. I am a strong believer that any song used on Sunday morning to worship God should primarily be didactic: it should cause the believer to be reminded of an aspect of God that they find difficult to express into words.

For further reading:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Food Journal: E-Sarn (Thomson Road)

E-sarn in Thomson Road does a really good job at making me remember the holidays I've had in Bangkok. This restaurant has the best beef soup, pineapple rice and glass noodles around!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When Spiritual Sensitivity and Biblical Knowledge Converge (John 1:47-51)

John 1:47-51
Jesus calls Nathanael

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him,“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Nathanael didn't need much to be convicted of the deity of Christ. That our Lord Jesus calls him by the title "an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit" is indicative of Nathanael's devotion to his Jewish heritage. He probably knew the Jewish scriptures very well, and like many Jews of his time, he would be looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.

"How do you know me?"

There is a difference to being doubtful and being discerning. We are so easily led astray by skillful displays of natural prowess--how much more so when we are faced with supernatural prowess! Nathanael, like any good steward of truth, wanted to enquire, test and examine. Particularly for us who are in the end times, where false "Christian" spirituality is rife, we need to be discerning of everything we come into contact with, be it theology, testimonies of miraculous healing, or supposed dreams and visions from God.

Some people are born with less ability to discern the spiritual, but they are compensated when they read and are convicted by the Word. Others are so attuned to the Spirit that listening and obeying God's voice comes easier, but their ability to glean truth from the Word is limited. Thus, keen spiritual awareness coupled with a good working knowledge of the scriptures helps one to perceive the workings of the spiritual dimension.

Nathanael is promised that he will see greater things not because Jesus will exclusively show these to him, but rather, because of his acute awareness of Christ, he will be one of the quickest to identify God's fingerprints in His handiwork.

Jesus gives Nathanael an illustration from Genesis 28:12, where Jacob is shown the dream of an open-access to God by means of a ladder extending from heaven to earth. By superimposing the imagery, Jesus is essentially saying that He will be the fulfillment of open-access to the Father. He is the ladder, and everywhere that Jesus goes, He will turn the place into a "New Bethel".

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Misunderstood/Misheard Worship Lyrics

(Will be continually updated as time goes on)


How do you know that...

...God loves Japanese food?
Ans: "Oh, how He loves me so (miso)"
Song: How He Loves

...God loves aunties?
Ans: "Oh, how He loves us so (ah soh)"
Song: How He Loves

..God is good at soccer?
Ans: "You're the defender of the week, You comfort those in need"
Song: Everlasting God

...Jesus loves carbohydrates?
Ans: Because "Yes, Jesus loves me (mee)"
Song: Jesus Loves Me

Misheard Lyrics

From "Take It All" by Hillsong,
Running to the one who heals the blind
Following the shining light
In Your hands, the power to save the world
My life

India must possess either superheroes or sufficient military power, because...

Running to the one who heals the blind
Following the shining light
India has the power to save the world, my life

"Glady the cross I'd bear" is identically and unavoidably: "Gladly the cross-eyed bear"

Misheard Lyrics with Food References

From "Everlasting God" by Brenton Brown,
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord

As a visual aid to this song, we can have a wok on stage to cook rice and eggs, because...

Scramble rice as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord

From "Alone in the Garden"
And He walks with me, and He talks to me, and He calls me as His own

No one knows God's first name, but I contend that it must be Andy because...

Andy walks with me, Andy talks to me, Andy calls me as His own

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

God the Mother?

In the past three weeks, two of my cell members have been approached by evangelists from the World Mission Society, a church originating from South Korea whose beliefs are a mix of unitarian modalism and bi-theism. I don’t mean to be confusing, but it’s true. They believe that God “manifests” Himself as the Father, Spirit and Son (I don’t know if they mean that God chooses to “switch faces” as Father at one moment, then the Son at the next, which is classical modalism, or that the Godhead is only one person presented as the Father, Spirit and Son, which would be a slight modification of classical unitarianism. Classical unitarians never acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ) and they believe in God the Mother.

That’s right. God the Mother.

I can almost hear you think, “But there are no verses that support God the Mother!”

At this opportunity, the WMS evangelist will dive straight into their prepared arguments. The points below may crop up in the course of your conversation with them.

Supporting Passage #1 – Genesis 1:26-27
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Argument: Everything on earth is a pattern and a shadow of things in heaven. So, we know that when God is speaking He says “Let us make man in our image…” There is more than one person there. He is speaking to someone. God then created man in his own image; male and female He created them. Since everything on earth is a pattern and shadow of things in heaven and there are male and female created in the God’s image, we see that Father God and Mother God created man in their own image.

Defence: You and I would both agree that God is spirit. Throughout scripture, we see that God’s spirit is not confined by location, as would a physical body be, that God’s spirit is invisible and cannot be seen. God is clearly spirit, and we are clearly physical. Yet, you are ready to conclude that “image” means something that can only be tangibly and physically understood in terms of gender. You clearly don’t understand what it means to be made in the image of God.

Supporting Passage #2 – #Revelation 22:17
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Argument: There is explicit mention of God the Mother; she is the Bride. This Bride says, “Come”, therefore, she has the power to give the water of life. Only God has the power to give the water of life. Therefore, this Bride must also be God. She is God the Mother.

Defence: I agree that only God can give life, but the passage refers to something that is spoken, something that is offered, and while the Church itself cannot give life, the Church tells everyone to come to Christ in order to receive life. Notice that the text tells us, also, “let the one who hears say, ‘Come’”. This is not an indication that the one who hears can give life. He is simply offering it. The Spirit gives life, the Church proclaims the Gospel, which is the offer of life.

Supporting Passages #3 – Revelation 21:9-10 and Galatians 4:26
Rev 21
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,

Gal 4
26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Argument: Here we see the identity of the Bride. Now, this is obviously a symbolic passage because this is not a literal lamb. Obviously, a lamb cannot have a wife. The Lamb is Christ. A person. And notice also that Jerusalem is above and is said to be coming down out of heaven. Since the church is here on earth, the bride cannot be the church. So, to this point we have seen that the God has a Bride, the Spirit and the Bride offer life (only God can do this), this bride was in heaven and is said to come down out of heaven and this Jerusalem is our Mother.

Defence: You want me to take the word “Lamb” as non-literal and view this passage as symbolic and therefore the description of “Jerusalem” that follows in verses 11 and following as being non-literal. I think you have confused what it means for something to be a symbol and something to be a simple metaphor. You were able to tell me who the Lamb was easily because this is not symbolism that is intended to be cryptic. The Lamb is a metaphor for a person that is easily identifiable. Obviously, we know who the Lamb is referencing just in the book of Revelation as the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world – Jesus Christ. In the same way, the wife of the Lamb is explained. That is, the metaphor is clearly understood from within the very passage under discussion. There is no reason to go to an explanation that is several books away written entirely by a different author all together.

Jerusalem is described as a city. Notice the description that follows about the walls, the gates, the adornments, the jewels, the names of the apostles. If all of this explanation is intended to be an extended metaphor of “the wife of the Lamb” then what exactly does this description match? How is it symbolic of a person?

As for your assertion that “Jerusalem is above, and the church is below”, you are presuming that God’s Church is only here on earth. A Christian would declare that God’s Church is also here and in Heaven as well. Now, I don’t think you have established any good reason to conclude that Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is anything other than the New Jerusalem spoken of in verse 2. As for Galatians, you are missing the context entirely.

From the arguments above, it should be plain to see that the WMS evangelists subscribe to a theology that depends entirely upon verses that have nothing to do with one another and are removed far from their context. Furthermore, they do not let a more natural explanation tell they what the verse says, but force their view upon the passage. They are not expecting someone to be able to look at the text and explain to them the context and it completely throws their prepared argument off course when one does. But, while it may serve a purpose in getting their attention, the real obstacle is that they have a completely false Christ in mind. 

The goal of our evangelism to these folks is the same as our evangelism to all people: proclaim the true Christ of Scriptures and Him crucified. It is heart-breaking to see so many young people sincere in their conviction that they are doing "God's work" and so blatantly deceived. But, we must preach the Word faithfully and convincingly and trust the Holy Spirit to be the Great Evangelist.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Can Non-Christians Be Better Behaved than Christians?

Have you ever come across a person who genuinely loves the poor, engages in much social work for the less-privileged, and beams with such warmth and grace that you conclude that he must be a Christian? Have you then come to a huge shock to discover that he actually isn't? I know many people who make better Christians than me. They exhibit such good Christian graces that it puts me to shame.

Perhaps we make the mistake of directly linking our behavior to our nature. I don't think we realize that in examining a person's religious inclination to Christianity, there are actually two types of proof required. On the surface, we observe what I shall call suggestive proof of Christianity. What is this person's character, personality and behavior like? How do his actions correspond to what we would expect of a Christian? To use Christian religious jargon, we attempt to see if this person has the "fruits of the Spirit".

The problem with suggestive proof is that it can be misleading. Allow me to illustrate: let's say you come across a cat. It has soft fur, it makes a purring noise and it shakes its tail. You could say that its behavior suggests that it is, indeed, a living cat. However, upon closer inspection, you realize that there's a battery cover underneath its fur, and once you remove the battery inside the cat, it no longer purrs or shakes its tail. It actually is a mechanical cat, endowed with the characteristics that mimic a living cat.

Hence, we see that given two cats, both exhibiting behavior characteristic of a cat, we must see underneath the fur to examine if the cat has cat parts or mechanical parts to determine their true nature.

Behavior and nature are two separate issues. Yes, they can be inter-linked, and one can be used as evidence for the other, but behavior is only suggestive proof at best. The second layer of proof is what I shall call conclusive proof of Christianity, and that is a far deeper issue than behavior. It requires us to look underneath the fur, and that is a domain reserved exclusively to God and His spirit. On our own accord and by our own abilities, we will never truly know if a person is a Christian or not--our natural senses can only perceive so much. We need the illumination of the Spirit to help us in the assessment of a person's nature.

Dear brothers and sisters, don't be discouraged if a non-Christian displays better Christian graces than you. Rather than being discouraged, we should be inspired and encouraged that we can improve upon our behavior.

Jailbreak Adventures: How to Sync Plants Versus Zombies 2 Across Multiple Devices

Picture from

Christine introduced PvZ to me a while ago, and it wasn't long before I got hooked on the mission to defend my brains from being eaten by the horde of not-so-scary zombies. It's a really fun game!

So, when PvZ 2 came out this month, I was very pleasantly surprised that it came out as a free download for iOs. Of course, this means that Pop Cap has gone the route of in-app purchases, and there are a ton of IAP's--plants, power-ups, new locations--just to name a few of the possible areas to pour your cash into. That being said, PvZ 2 is a game that you can fully enjoy free; everything in it is attainable through hard work, persistence, and the occasional stroke of luck.

The only problem I've had with PvZ 2 so far is that I couldn't sync the game across my iPad and iPhone. I spent a lot more time on PvZ 2 on the iPad than on my phone, so obviously my progress was a lot further on one device than the other. I found a solution that requires iFunBox to access the raw file system:

  1. Open iFunBox and connect the device that has the further progress.
  2. Locate the following folder: /var/mobile/Applications//Library/Preferences
  3. Locate the following files: (1), (2) com.popcap.ios.PvZ2.plist
  4. Copy these files from the device onto your desktop.
  5. Connect your second device, locate the PvZ2 folder as above, and paste the files from your desktop onto your second device.
  6. This should sync your devices together with the same player ID.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Sweet Presence

I recently played for New Heart's concert in Singapore Life Church. Dr. Yenn, Dr. Ephraim, Derrick, Tai-chi, Dickson, Ngee Ping, Joshua, Kim and Judy are such amazing people to play with. I have certainly improved my sight reading by leaps and bounds since the first day I played with them, and I am indebted to Yenn for taking me in even though I was terrible at reading scores!

My personal highlight of the concert was during a song I didn't have parts to play, so I was seated and soaking in the incredible atmosphere of worship. The song was "Chen Zhang" (trans. Maturity), in which the pre-chorus has the lyrics (and I'm trying to translate to the best of my ability),

"Maybe trials are blessings in disguise,
Without which we wouldn't have the chance to mature."

Then it happened. An indescribably huge and invisible presence seemed to permeate through the walls of the concert hall and filled up the space above me. It seemed infinitely large, and what I was compared to this Being was like a drop of water facing the entirety of the ocean.

As large as this Being was, there was no fear, just a warmth swelling up from inside my heart. I knew who this Being was. It was God. It could only be God. He has appeared to me before, in the privacy of my room, in the crowded space of an MRT train, at the communion rails in church, and now, in this concert hall.

I felt God enveloping me. And every question I had inside, questions about what was I to do with life and what was I to accomplish in His name, how was He going to provide for Christine and I, how was I going to deal with the constant opposition to ministry--they drowned in this ocean of warmth and love that wrapped me. I could have hugged God right there. I wanted to burst into song and dance, I wanted to lie prostrate before Him in worship.

God was there. And I, a child, a son, a subject of the King, a servant, could not but worship Him with all of my heart in that concert hall. I felt like I had come home. I felt a sense of completion, like every fibre of my being had finally been rid of the vile proclivities to sin, and my spirit was free to be myself--I didn't have to pretend to be this "strong male leader" type, I didn't have to carry the labels of "ministry staff" or "intern" or "crazy guy who gave up a secular job". I didn't need a thousand reasons to justify every action and decision. I just was.

I couldn't see a physical form, but I felt God's smile. I couldn't hear any audible voice, but my spirit was resonating with a phrase that was planted in my heart, "You're right where I want you to be."

21 July 2013

The day God met me.

And of course, I couldn't help but take a gear photo for the night:

After all these years, I still can rely on Line 6 gear to last the night. This is in stark contrast to what happened in JB at Full Gospel Church, where we played the week after:

Do you notice how my volume pedal is going straight into the amp, bypassing my Timeline? That's because the 9V adapter that came with my Timeline died during rehearsal, and I had to play the concert without a delay pedal. Note to self: bring extra 9V adapter just in case.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A DIY Flight Case

I totally stole this idea off Mervin John, guitarist and band leader extraordinaire, when he brought his rig down for us to check out during our band arrangement class. If you have a heavy pedalboard, need a luggage-chucking grade case which has wheels and can be locked during transit, you can most certainly use:

I suppose I'll lose some baggage allowance and won't be able to buy back snacks for anybody when I'm away on tour, but it's a necessary sacrifice on the war on tone. There's no need to fork out $200 on a ATA flight case with wheels, save for the fact that it's probably the more elegant and pro looking way of transportation than this!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Experiment in Trimming the Herd

This was a quick experiment in tone crafting:

  • What if I removed all the various power supplies and just relied on one 9V adapter like the One Spot?
  • What if I removed the Deluxe Electric Mistress (update: I sold it off eventually), which was non-true bypass and had a bulky 18V adapter?
  • What if I removed the Carl Martin AC Tone, removing the first layer of overdrive?
What inspired such a radical experiment? At the last rehearsal before Music Extravagant with YFC, Richard said to me, "The only one who's niao  (trans. picky) about your tone is you." Don't worry, he didn't say that in an acrimonious way (I think we were talking about tone requirements, and how all he wanted was only a wah/overdrive/delay sound, and anything else in the equation was at my discretion). Yes, electric guitarists tend to be very niao about tone. We think that in order to squeeze as much tone as possible out of one pedal, we need to have two to three others to complement it. How often have you heard guitarists say things like:

"Yes, that Timmy is fantastic! But it really needs an already-slightly broken up tone to really get the shimmer right. So I'm getting a TS808 before the Timmy."

"Yeap, I have two delays in my rig, each one at a different delay time so that I can get a cascade of delay tone that doubles as a reverb."

Observation #1: No AC Tone
My primary use of the AC Tone was to have the first drive always on--it was set up for a slightly-broken-up tone, like an amp at the breaking point. Without the AC Tone, it's pristine clean now, and I had to get used to that tone. And you know what? I found the clean nuances of my guitars. The distinct differences between single coils and humbuckers were so much more evident.

I was a little lost without the boost function of the AC tone (I used the boost to push my lead tone into my solo tone), but I soon replaced that with my second EP booster. Carl Martin boosts are clean and non-colored, so with an EP, the boost has an EP flavor: fat, slight-smiley face, and compressed. It certainly was very different, but definitely a useable tone.

Observation #2: No Deluxe Electric Mistress
Yeap, I knew it. The 18V adapter was the cause of hum in my rig. Removing it from the chain had a distinct clean-up of white noise, hum and artifacts. There was even a brightness in my tone that I never knew was there--perhaps my ears were too used to the tone of non-true bypass. If I were to be honest, I had the DEM on my rig more for cosmetic than tonal reasons. '70s-style flange is nice, but it's a lot harder to incorporate that in a song than the tried-and-true tone of chorus. So the verdict is final: I'm removing the DEM permanently!

Observation #3: Removing Power Supplies
By having all the pedals running off a single One Spot, I realized that there's a loss of "mojo" in the pedals that can run on higher voltages like the BB Preamp, the Timmy, and the EP boosters. They sound nice at 9V, with a sound that's more compressed and less headroom, but they sound even better when cranked to 18V. But perhaps the biggest change is that they respond differently to the use of my guitar volume knob to clean up an overdriven tone. At 18V, I seem to be able to capture the nuances of everywhere between 0-10 in small increments (0, 1, 2, 3...10). At 9V, I lose that subtlety and it sounds like I can only vary from 0-10 in bigger increments (0, 2, 4, 6...10).

That being said, the removal of the DC brick helped to reduce the noise in my rig. It's dead quiet! It appears that I can only have one or the other: magic with noise, or less magic with no noise.

I need more tonal variation. While having a pristine-clean tone is nice, I'd rather have the first-layer overdrive of my AC tone to add some dirt into the next few overdrives. Stacked overdrives to my ears just sounds nicer than single-overdrives. I also can make do without the DEM, which will free up the space on my pedalboard and reduce the noise significantly. Finally, I will put back the DC brick so I can run the overdrives and EP boosters at 18V to have the extra clarity, headroom and "mojo".

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cheap and Good

2013-05-02 065538

I know, I know. I said I’ll stop my GAS. I know I was quite proud of the fact that I managed to cut my pedalboard down to  size that I could get away with a single One Spot adapter. However, I ran into a few problems with the reduced setup:
  1. Without my AC Tone, my clean tone was “too clean”. I actually do like some dirt as a clean tone, using my guitar volume to adjust. With this as my first stage overdrive, I’m able to crank a bit more hair out of the Timmy and the BB. They also sound their best if the foundational tone has some dirt.
  2. Without my DC Brick, I had to run everything at 9V. To my ears, the BB and Timmy have the best mojo at 18V.
I also wanted to achieve the following tone goals:
  1. The AC Tone has a great boxy roar when cranked really loud, but I don’t play or practice at venues where I’m able to push amps to that kind of volume without receiving complaints of some sort. I also sold off one of my EP boosters, so I had no way to get the cranked Vox AC-30 tone. I wanted a boost pedal that was different to the EP booster.
  2. I wanted to get a reverb effect similar to the Shimmer effect but I can’t justify spending so much for a Strymon Blue Sky or Timeline. I also only had enough space for one more pedal, and it had to be sized like the EP booster.
  3. I wanted switching capability with my rig, and a 2-loop pedal meets my needs.
So, with these goals in mind, I set out to prowl the forums on SOFT and found:
2013-05-02 065547

Electroharmonix Linear Power Booster LPB-1
This boost pedal doesn’t sound good on its own. It’s quite a bright boost pedal, quite distinct from the EP booster, and sounds best when used on an already overdriven tone. Even though I’ve been advised to put this post-overdrive, I wanted to keep the EP booster as my post-drive booster to fatten the tone, so I put the LPB-1 pre-overdrive and compensated for the EQ on my overdrives. I’ve set it up for a subtle crank, but if need be, I could really get my overdrives to scream by turning it to 12 o’clock. This could be useful for low-output pickups like on my tele.
2013-05-02 065555

Mooer Shimverb
Don’t be too dismissive of this Chinese product. It has its own version of the Shimmer effect, distinct from the Strymon and Hardwire tone. Its algorithm is set to 5th’s instead of an octave up, and this has been a source of complaint among Shimverb users who say that the pedal is “hard to use”. To me, reverb effects are not supposed to steal the limelight from the tone of the guitar. With an algorithm set to 5th’s, you should be thinking that the tone is going to be thicker than an algorithm set to an octave up. The Shimverb Shimmer sounds best when the effect level is set to 10-11 o’clock and the decay level set anywhere between 12-3 o’clock. This disguises the overtone so you can’t tell that it’s set to 5th’s, which will be helpful since playing diatonically will land you in intervals where the 5th sounds “wrong”.
So in summary, the Shimverb doesn’t make you out-of-tune. It makes you out-of-key, and  that can be a cool thing depending on the musical situation.
2013-05-02 065605

Boss Line Selector LS-2
The problem with basic loopers is that they don’t have internal buffers to adjust the volume of individual loops to compensate for volume differences. With the LS-2, even though the pedal isn’t “true bypass”, I’m able to adjust loop volumes to taste. I have my entire overdrive section on Loop A (I haven’t set up Loop B—maybe if I get more pedals!) so that I can get a clean sound with one stomp, instead of having to tap dance.

What I want to try next is to set up a mix of A and B, which in theory will allow me to blend clean and overdrive signals together like the Clean control of the Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive. Or, I could put the Shimverb in Loop B and control the mix by boosting or cutting the buffer volume while having the overdrives in Loop A. I’ve tried having the Shimverb track an overdrive tone, and I believe it does a better job on a clean tone instead.

Now the only problem with this monstrosity of a pedalboard is that it takes up 3 types of power to run it—I power the 18V and a few of the 9V pedals with the DC Brick, some of the 9V pedals with my Mooer power supply, and the AC Tone runs its own power on 12V. I velcro-ed a 3-way multiplug adapter to the bottom of the board to accommodate these, and I think it’s adding some noise to the signal. All-in-all, it's manageable; I only have major noise problems occasionally.


With an additional trip down to SV guitars, I obtained enough patch cables to set up the second loop!

Loop 1:
Wah -> Comp -> LPB-1 -> AC Tone -> Timmy -> BB preamp -> EP booster -> ISP decimator
My entire overdrive section is now in one loop, so I'm able to go from overdrive to a clean bypass with the click of a switch. With my volume pedal now after my amp sim and before my delay pedals, the volume pedal is now a master volume, something that I couldn't do until I got a hold of longer patch cables.

Loop 2:
Mooer Shimverb
After trying out places to put the Shimverb, I have settled on placing it in Loop B for a few reasons:
  1. There is a discernable drop in volume when engaging the Shimverb. By putting it in the LS-2 loop, I'm able to give a slight volume boost to compensate.
  2. When engaged, the Shimverb very quickly steals the limelight of the signal, and the guitar tone is instantly swept up in the "wash" of the shimmer effect. I set my LS-2 to run on A-B-Mix, which means the signals of Loop 1 and 2 are superimposed. I can now have a clean tone on Loop 1 with compression and some EQ tweaked from the EP booster (the Shimverb does have make some strange sounds when a compressor and EQ is in the mix) while having an effected signal in Loop 2.
  3. When I turn the Shimverb off, Loop 2 becomes clean and dry. As a fan of the Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, now I can utilize Loop 2 as a "boosted direct signal" which, in the words of the good people at Voodoo Lab, "restores the attack and feel which is lost in a highly compressed overdrive circuit."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A DIY Pedaltrain Nano


The laptop cooler in office finally died, and I was about to just use it as a laptop riser when I realized it has a nice elevation angle that’s similar to a Pedaltrain. I wanted to get a Pedaltrain Nano for my jam sessions where I only really needed the amp sim and a delay (and I figured out that even that’s a bit much for a simple jam. I’m currently looking for a smaller delay pedal).

So I found some leftover velcro from my Pedaltrain 3, found my spare patch cables, spare power supply and daisy chain, and started putting them together with three of my most important pedals: my Pitch Black tuner, SansAmp GT2 and Boss DD-20. To take the DIY approach even further, I found a spare projector case and found that it fitted the pedalboard really snugly:
Compared to a Pedaltrain soft case, this projector case has more storage space for cables, the power supply, and I could even put in a DI box. All-in-all, this was quite a fast DIY build, as the materials were all readily accessible.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Memories of IRC

I recently installed a chat box onto my blog page for fun. Remember the good 'ol days of IRC? I thought I'd try to be more interactive by allowing a public chat box for people to interact, discuss, and share their thoughts. You'll find a link to my Contact page here:

Try it out, and let's see how this goes!

For further action:
Get your own chat box!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Consumed by Your Hobby

Last week, my M-Audio Fast Track Pro audio interface died on me. It can’t be revived, and the technician I called quoted a repair price that was higher than what I bought it for. I thought I would have flipped out—this device has been a part of my musical life for quite a while. But strangely enough, I only experienced a little sadness, nothing beyond that. There’s a certain level of peace that God gave me, and I was content to trust in God’s timing for a new interface. 

Do you know of people who get distressed when an object of their hobby gets spoilt? I know a few (tennis players and their rackets/audiophiles and their speakers/grease monkeys and their cars). They become possessed! They can’t find rest until their hobby is restored to its original state. They lose sleep over sourcing for parts. They get stressed at having to choose between several vendors offering different quotes. 

While it’s not wrong to feel stressed or annoyed when things get spoilt, I think there is a line beyond which our hobby becomes more than just a pursuit outside our regular occupation. Paul wrote this, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). He also wrote, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The true barometer for our hobbies should be whether or not they glorify God, whether or not we see them as gifts from God for which we are thankful, and whether or not they draw our attention away from Him. 

Even the most innocent hobbies that consume us are encumbrances that we must lay aside because they slow us down in our race which is the Christian life (Hebrews 12:1). A good test is this. How important is this hobby to me? Is the Lord alone enough? If it were stripped away from me, would I still be content in Him? So, if something gets spoilt, by all means, get it fixed! But don’t let your possession possess you. The Lord is truly and verily enough for you.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jailbreak Adventures: WhatsApp on iPad, iOS 6.1

One of my biggest goals of jailbreaking the iPad was to be able to use WhatsApp on it. As you know, the messaging client only works on mobile phones, and the key to installing WhatsApp is to trick it into thinking that it is operating from a phone, and not a tablet. 

Here's what I did to install WhatsApp on iOS 6.1.

Step 1: Download and install the latest version of WhatsPad from the Cydia store.

Step 2: Download the latest WhatsApp.ipa (at this point of publication, it's 2.8.7). The iPad is smart to the point that it recognizes older, outdated .ipa installation packages. If you try to run anything older than 2.8.7, the iPad will bring up a "Please update to the latest WhatsApp" error message.

Step 3. Connect your iPad to your computer. Use a third party installer (like iFunBox) to install the .ipa package onto your iPad.

Step 4. You now have the app on your iPad. Now you need to verify your app. Verification requires you to key in a code that will be sent to a mobile number. This is the main problem with installing WhatsApp on iOS6.1: you need a working mobile number just to verify the app. You can't escape the verification by putting in a house or office number.

Step 5: This next point is very important. Do not use your own phone number to verify if you already are a WhatsApp user! If you do, your existing WhatsApp will be logged out--removing you from every chat group that you are a part of and erasing your chats. I learnt this the hard way, and I don't want anyone else to suffer! Use a spare mobile number to verify the app. My mother is a technophobic retiree who will never touch a smart phone, so I just used her mobile number.

If you really want to, I suggest buying a pre-paid SIM card for the sole purpose of verification. Yes, I know it doesn't make this method free, but I think the benefits of having WhatsApp on the iPad more than make up for the cost involved.

I have hosted the latest WhatsApp.ipa package here for your download.

You might want to improve the experience of WhatsApp on the iPad by using either of the additional tweaks below:

RetinaPad - You know how the 2x view of iPhone apps on the iPad look grainy and reminds you of your old Gameboy display? This tweak fixes the display by correcting the distortion and making your iPhone apps look it's in HD on the iPad.

FullForce - This tweak forces an app to conform to the dimensions of the iPad's display dimensions and uses the native iPad keyboard (instead of the iPhone keyboard).

For further reading (legacy methods):

Installing the WhatsPad tweak (Redmond Pie)
Using iPhone configuration utility (

Jailbreak Woes Part 2: When Apps Crash on Loading

I used iMovie for a good part of an afternoon to film and edit clips. It was easily 3 hours worth of work, and I was wrapping up the day's editing and ready to export my videos.

The unthinkable happened. I exited the app to check out my Whatsapp messages, and when I tried to re-open the app, it just won't open. Every method I tried resulted in the same result: app crash! I tried to kill the app from the app switcher and re-open the app. I tried soft resets, hard resets, using iCleaner, checking out if files were corrupted using iFile...everything didn't work!

Then the thought occurred to me that maybe it was crashing because I was working on a new movie project, I wasn't satisfied with the clip, removed the clip (so the project board was empty) and exited the app at the same time. This meant that iMovie was trying to save a project that had an empty project board.

So I rebooted my iPad in Safe Mode--and it worked! I could load iMovie without it crashing on me. And true enough, the project I was working on was empty, as the title screen for that project was showing a total duration of 0:00. I removed that dud project, exited Safe Mode, and I was back in business.

Safe Mode. It really works.

And here's the video I was making that started with a dud project board:

How to spot a vintage stratocaster

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jailbreak Woes: Removing Siriport from iPhone

No sooner had I started to jailbreak iOS 6.1 did I encounter numerous problems. Well, it's mostly my fault. You see, in my zeal to squeeze the most out of my device, I end up trusting questionable sources. For a long time, I wanted to have Siri on my iPhone 4. In case you don't know why iPhone 4 doesn't have Siri, that's due to the fact that Apple's A4 chip doesn't have noise-cancellation. This was only implemented with the A5 chip, which was introduced in the iPhone 4s. That makes sense, as you need Siri to understand what you're saying amidst background noise.

So I went and searched for a way to get Siri onto my iPhone 4. There are workarounds, but I wanted the real deal, and hence settled for Siriport. What I didn't know was that Siriport was a pirated version of the official Siri (there's a lengthy article on the specifics behind Siriport's architecture and how it works, but that's beyond the scope of this post). I followed the instructions to get Siriport, resprung my phone, and I managed to get my phone into an infinite boot loop. This is where the apple never moves!

Of course, I panicked. But there is always a solution to get a phone out of the infinite boot loop. The problem was that there was no way to access the phone's file system while the phone is essentially a brick...or was there?

Enter iFunBox. This third party desktop software helps to install .ipa packages onto the iPhone, and it still can connect to a phone that's in an infinite boot loop. The only problem I faced was that when I connected the phone with a USB cable, iFunBox would sometimes either lose connection or not connect at all. If you are experiencing this, be patient; you are trying to fix a (temporarily) spoilt phone.

Removing Siriport and Breaking Out of Infinite Boot Loop

What you need: iFunBox and a USB cable.

Step 1: Connect the phone to your computer with the USB cable. Run iFunBox.

Step 2: Find the Raw File System folder, and go to the /System/Library/LaunchDaemons folder.

Step 3: Open the in Wordpad.

Step 4: Remove the following


Remember to save!

Step 5: Go to the root folder (Raw File System), do a search for Siri, and delete the files and folders that are associated with There should be 14 items of files and folders to delete.

Step 6: Disconnect your phone, and do a hard reset (hold the home and power button, release when the Apple logo comes up). Your phone should be back. If not, repeat the whole process again--I had to try this 3 times, and the hard reset took roughly 2 minutes.

Lesson learnt: Never trust dodgy sources!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Battle Scars (The Best $50 I Spent Ever)

I decided it was about time to clean the pedalboard. I ran out of creative juices to give a name to her, so I ended up calling her by her brand: CNB. CNB has been with me for a very long time. She's actually Australian, and I remember walking into Allan's Music and realizing I needed a pedalboard to keep my PODxt and Variax accessories. With a short transaction of dishing out a $50 note, CNB became my mainstay pedalboard for the next 7 years.

CNB travelled with me to every single gig, every session, every worship service and every garage jam. She was an interstate traveller, ferrying to and fro every Hope Oceania Convention held either in Melbourne or Brisbane. She was an international traveller, flying between Sydney and Singapore, faithfully protecting my gear. (This was during the time when airport security was very tight, so I was always stopped and had to undergo a lengthy inspection of the pedalboard. It doesn't help that the only things that are plainly evident under the X-ray machine are cable and wiring!)

CNB took a lot of abuse. I remember seeing airport handlers throwing her at the tarmac. I remember putting CNB underneath other bulky items which caused scratches and gashes. These scars were meant for my pedals, but CNB took it all. I remember spilling water, coffee and food over her. I remember walking through rain, through the blazing summer heat and the frosty winter chill.

And now, CNB is my PODX3L carrying case. It's like they are a perfect match--their sizes match perfectly, with enough clearance at the top of the case to accommodate cables and the power supply.

I suspect that I'll still be using CNB for a long time to come.

Recycling by Repurposing

Being engineering-trained does have its real-life benefits. I'm huge on recycling, which if left unchecked, could lead to a mild case of hoarding, because I see that everything can be repurposed to suit other needs. Yes, they were originally designed to do something else, and they will probably serve their greatest use in that manner, but once the original need has expired, it's such a waste to throw it away.

Take the above two for example. I originally had an external hard disk that gave way a while ago, so the hard disk stand was going to be thrown out until I saw that it could fit my air conditioner remote--so it became an air conditioner remote stand. Not exactly what it was purposed to do, but it sure made a more stylish remote stand.

You know those expensive sweet containers made out of aluminium and over-provided protection for sweets? I found that it was just the right size for my earphones, and this time, the protection was warranted. So my earphones found a new case in the form of an Eclipse sweet container, and I think it's been well protected since!

Take a gift box for a wireless mouse, and it can be fashioned to prop up your wallet, keys, and watch:

And last but not least, and certainly one of my favorites, here's what I do when I have an open packet of kopi-o and I have no where in the car to put it:

My piece of advice: something of no purpose (or expired purpose) can find purpose again. It's a matter of finding it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gladwell's Rule

I'm sure you've heard of Gladwell's Rule at some point in time or another. It has become the mantra for self-help and a guide post for the hopefuls who want to excel in something, be it a hobby or a professional activity. Simply put, Gladwell's Rule says that if you want to excel in something, you have to put in an average of 10,000 hours to reach the standard of professionals. This was backed up with research conducted on budding musicians in conservatories and athletes-in-training, where the researchers tracked their practice/training routines and tried to establish a direct correlation with their eventual results.

Just for fun, I tried to estimate how much time I put into playing my guitar. My rough conservative estimate of the amount of time spent practicing, noodling and gigging are as follows:

15mins of practice per weekday
3 hours of practice over Sat/Sun (including worship prac)
2 hours of gigging per week (including serving on worship teams)
(15x5)/60+ 3 + 2 = 6.25 hours per week

I have averaged this out with the consideration that I used to put in 8-10 hour practice regimes when I was in Secondary school, and I used to gig every 2nd night at one point in my life. Now, I'm happy with not practicing the entire week, and probably clock in practice only for the purposes of playing in church, teaching guitar, serving on Sunday, and the occasional gig with YFC. Over 14 years, this gives me:

6.25x52x14 = 4550 hours

Alamak. I'm way short of Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule! Quantitatively, it looks like I have to increase my practice time, which I have resigned to admitting that it's downright impossible. Family, work and ministry commitments are just too demanding to accommodate this goal of reaching 10,000 hours.

I will take encouragement, however, that I have nearly reached the halfway mark, with mathematical proof that I'm semi-pro :P

Before some of you despair that you will never reach 10,000 hours, several scholars and psychologists have debated Gladwell's rule. They say it is inconclusive that the rule is universally applicable--mathematics students who take part in competitions and memorize the terms in irrational numbers (like Pi, for example) take only about 500 hours to become proficient at reciting numbers from memory. It is easier to be considered a prodigy at areas where the competition is significantly less (like reciting numbers).

For further reading:
Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers
Why Gladwell's Rule is Wrong

Practical Tips for Gigging Guitarists

I'm a rusty performer. I firmly believe that 90% of the work behind a performance is in preparation (obviously, apart from memorizing your parts). You may be able to nail every single note down, but if you've forgotten to bring things that are crucial to your setup, all that hard practice may be for naught. My latest gig with While It's Day helped to wake me from my slumber. I made so many mistakes that could have been avoided if I was just a little more careful with preparation and planning.

Here are three tips I'd like to present:

Pack the night before the gig
Common sense, right? Unfortunately, possibly because I've been playing for so long, I assumed that I'll automatically bring everything I need. That was a big mistake on my part. Here's what happened: I lugged my pedalboard onto the stage, I took it out of its case, propped it up and started making connections...and then I realized I forgot to bring the power supply!

Maybe I should have spent that 10 minutes the night before to run through what I needed and pack accordingly. I realized that this wasn't the first time I forgot to bring stuff because of my erroneous assumption. I've forgotten capos, cables, picks; it seems that the smaller the device, the easier it is to forget to pack!

It never hurts to have spare equipment
So now I had a giant pedalboard that was ready to rock but there was no power supply. Thankfully, we were playing at the Woodlands Civic Centre, which was quite near the Woodlands outlet of Standard Value. I hopped into a cab, made my way to Mike's shop, met him there (catching up over a one-minute conversation), bought a power supply, and came back in time for sound check. This incident may just be the most dramatic pre-gig experience I've gone through ever!

This led me to write a staple list of things that should be in my gig bag/pedalboard bag:

  • Guitar strap
  • Picks - the more the merrier!
  • Capo
  • 2 cables (for my guitar and from the output of my pedalboard)
  • Spare patch cables in case of cable failure
  • Spare 9V batteries, in case my ebow runs dry, or my bassist friend needs one for his active preamp
  • Spare power supply (now you know why!)

Know your gear
By the time I hit the stage with the band, I was a little frazzled. I have a Budda Bud wah which doesn't have an LED to indicate its on/off status, and when I used it for a song, I forgot to rock the pedal all the way front to disengage the wah. I remember our stage volume being quite loud, so I think I couldn't really hear that my wah was still on. I only realized this when I came home and starting running A/B tests between my power supplies, and was wondering why there was a nasty spike in the mids that just won't go away. If the wah was on since the first song, that meant I played the next song with the wah on the whole way through! My apologies to Leon (our soundman), I'm sure you were wondering why my tone was so honky!

I wonder if I'll have another gig with this much drama. But on the whole, I had a fantastic time playing with such a wonderful band.

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