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!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Pedal Day: JHS Superbolt

A prominent SOFTie was selling off an interesting pedal, one which he described was different from the market of tubescreamer clones. As a fan of Supro amps (who isn't after listening to Led Zeppelin and Switchfoot?), I thought it would be a good investment to expand my collection of "amp-in-a-box" style of pedals.

JHS goes for the minimalist approach to pedal graphics--so I have to keep a picture of the manual on my phone just in case I need to tweak and I forget which knob does what. Up until this day, I still get the volume and gain knobs mixed up--the gain knob makes a huge difference in volume, hence my confusion!

The first comment I have about this pedal is that it's really loud! It sounds best through a live amplifier, and instantly turns any amp into a harmonically-complex, dirty-yet-clean, speaker-about-to-explode tone machine with all the goodness tube rectifier sag (No kidding! You have to try it to believe it!). I have played this through a Fender Blues Junior and the Superbolt drove the amp front-end so hard that the input began to distort--in a very musically-pleasing way.

These effects are lost when playing through a digital system (speaker emulation, amp emulation, etc.). When plugged into a speaker sim, the pedal becomes very tame, and at most becomes a clean boost. The tone that you hear from the official gear demos comes from the pedal interacting with a tube amp. So in short, if you're hoping to integrate this into your non-amp rig, you may be in a for a rude shock!

  • Turns any amp into a beast of a tone machine.
  • Internal charge pump from 9V to 18V makes this pedal very dynamic and responsive to your picking with lots of headroom.
  • Great first stage overdrive.

  • Not great for digital systems (no tube/speaker interaction, where the magic occurs).
  • It's very snarly in the EQ spectrum, so it's tweaked for a certain sound from a certain era. Think '60s rock.
  • Not a shredder's pedal. Don't use this if Malmsteen is a staple part of your repertoire.

My Superbolt demos:
Quick Test (recorded at 2am!)

Full demo of the Superbolt with a Cmatmods Signa Drive and through a SansAmp GT2:

For further viewing:

Official Superbolt videos

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gear Review: Surprise Sound Lab Rock Block and SE-5 Speaker Emulator

When you hear the terms "1-watt head" attached to an amplifier, the immediate thoughts that come to mind are, "lack of headroom" and "too small-sounding". I was quite pleasantly surprised by two "pedals" offered by Surprise Sound Lab. Why the quotation marks? Well, I can't really classify them as pedals even though they can certainly fit very nicely on a pedalboard. The Rock Block is a true tube-driven, fully analog amp that's a direct competitor to the Zvex Nano Head and can run any cab of your choice, or as a stompbox integrated in your chain of effects. It has a really good clean tone that has surprisingly good headroom. Even when cranked, you can use the good 'ol combination of picking dynamics and pickup volume to clean up nicely.

Here's my video review with the SE-5 speaker emulator.

Understandably, the tone with a speaker simulator will not be the same with a cab played live. Running this into a Vox 2x12" cab really brings out more thumping low-end and definition (which I think will be even better with a 4x12").

As for speaker emulation, I quite like the tweakability offered by the SE-5. Other speaker sims only allow +/-20dB jumps in volume, but the SE-5 offers 8 notches of +4dB increments, allowing you a fair degree of fine-tuning when running this live into a sound console. The tone control is also very useable, and to my ears, going from 0 to 10 corresponds to a decrease in the virtual cab/speaker size. At 0, I think it sounds like the boomiest possible 4x12", and at 10, it reminds me of an 8" Fender Champ, with all the gnarl and snarl associated with those types of speakers.

In this video, I do a shoot-out between the SE-5 and a cheaper Mooer Micro-DI:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Gear Review: The Matthews Effects ICY Buffer

I have a lot of cable running between my guitar to the pedalboard and to the amp, and because my pedals are mostly "true bypass" and I don't use all of them at once, I end up having a giant hi-pass filter in the rig and I lose some high end. When I record, I always have to post-process and add the "sparkle" in by countering the effects of the hi-pass filter.

When I added the Matthews Effects ICY Buffer into my rig, there was a huge difference in the tone--not that it added tone, but it restored the highs in my signal. The result? More sparkle, more definition and clarity, and perhaps most importantly, it made my rig more fun to play. And when you're having fun with your tone, you can concentrate on what's important: the MUSIC.

The effect of long cables and how the buffer restores high end in the rig:

Full review with A/B comparison of clean, dirty, crunch, lead and wah tones:

I recorded all of this through my Mooer Micro-DI with cabinet simulation.

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