In my last blog entry I was telling you about my recent trip to Los Angeles. This is part II of my trip. It never surprises me the people you will run into and meet while you are in the city of Lost Angels. This recent trip did not let me down either. I was visiting my one of my best friends Phil X in Las Angeles recently. During that visit he took me around town as he usually does. We started out having dinner at my favourite Sushi place called Geisha House on Hollywood Blvd. Order the Red Samurai if you are ever there it is to die for. After Dinner we headed over to Sunset Blvd my favourite strip for live music and tons of sights. We headed over to the Key Club and there was a private sold out show going on. I thought damn I wonder who's in there and wouldn’t it be great to peek in. The door man looked over and yelled out “Hey PHIL!” gave him a big handshake and told us to go in. As we walked into the crowded room we were greeted on stage with Bootsy Collins, Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan, Nate Watts, Freddie Washington,Vernon White, Angeli Wellington, Steve Baily& Brian Bromberg all on stage at the same time right before they each took a solo.
For those of you who don't... know... They all play bass. Apparently it was a special concert for Bass Player Magazine. I thought to myself “where else would you ever see anything like this” In La on Sunset Blvd of course. After the show we briefly talked to Billy Sheehan and he had told Phil he wanted to start a cover rock band with him for fun gigs in LA. Very cool indeed. We then headed down the street to the Rainbow Room, an old rock bar that looks like you walked into a time machine and ended up in a bar from the 60's. As we turned the corner in the club we saw Chris Squire , the bass player from the famous band “Yes.” It was turning out to be a Bass players night. I briefly said “Hi Chris, thanks for the great music” shook his hand and carried on into the club.
For a reference, the Key Club used to be called Gazzari's, it was host to famed bands such as The Doors, Van Halen they both were house bands there before they were discovered. The club reached its peak of popularity in the late 1960s, featuring Jim Morrison's young new group, along with other LA talent such as The Bobby Fuller Four, Buffalo Springfield, and the Walker Brothers.
To sum up , it was an amazing trip and I love visiting there everytime I go down. Special thanks to Phil X and his amaizing hospitality.
I was recently in the glorious state of California visiting a friend. Many of you already know him on YouTube in the Fretted Americana videos where he demonstrates vintage guitars. Yes I’m talking about the one and only Phil X. The trip was awesome as I got to hang out with Phil at Henson Studio as in Jim Henson of The Muppets fame. The complex is huge with many rooms in it for recording as well as video stages. I am going to be doing multi part blogs from this Trip as I got so much info to share with you.
Today I want to talk about the actual recording sessions that I was able to sit in on. First let me start off by talking about the musicians. Phil X- drums, Chris Chaney- Bass, Kenny Arnoff -Drums and Russ Irwin –Piano/Keyboards. You might not know these names but as you will see at the end of this blog I have included a small wiki on each of these guys. They have played with many professional recording artists both in studio and Live. Kenny has been John Cougar’s drummer for the past 17 years, Russ has been playing with Aerosmith for the past 14 Years and Chris has played with the likes of Lou Reed, Jane's Addiction, The Panic Channel, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, Alanis Morissette, Methods of Mayhem, Slash, Shinedown and many more and Phil has played with ,Triumph, Frozen Ghost, Jon Bon Jovi, Aldo Nova, Avril Lavigne, Tommy Lee, Daughtry , Adam Lambert and many more. With a roster of musicians like these guys you would think that it would be hard for them to work together you know attitudes start to arise. Well the exact opposite, these guys just rocked it out in the studio for 4 days straight working from 1pm to 10pm. No hiccups at all, no temper tantrums. They were all so professional and worked together amazingly. I could not believe how fast they were tracking songs and how much stuff they actually got recorded in just 4 days. They were there to help each other , give and take suggestions from each other. Not once did I hear one of the guys bitch or moan and what the producer wanted them to play or play differently. They even produced each other as Russ would tell Phil to play a certain chord structure instead of what he was playing “Thanks Russ that sounds way cooler” Phil pumps up. “Hey Kenney hats are sounding a little too swashy in the chorus” says Phil, Kenney “Okay cool lets re track it” It was just such a cool thing to witness and be a part of. Hats off to the boys for letting me sit in on the sessions and special thanks to Henson Studios for letting me feel like family there.
Phil X – HYPERLINK "http://www.philx.tv" www.philx.tv HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_X" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_X
Kenny Arnoff - HYPERLINK "http://www.kennyaronoff.com" http://www.kennyaronoff.com HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Aronoff" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Aronoff
Chris Chaney- HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Chaney" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Chaney
Russ Irwin - HYPERLINK "http://www.russirwin.com/" http://www.russirwin.com/
One of my favorite boost pedals just got an upgrade. The folks from Prosound Communications/Xotic Effects have just introduced their new customshop pedals. So far in the line they have made the “BB preamp MB (mid boost)” and the “AC Booster Comp” These pedals have come out from their custom shop as many professional musicians who love and use there pedals had been asking for tweeks to their pedals. The company had been doing this to their higher profile customers and have now decided to bring these to the market place. I love the AC Booster and use it all of the time with my Plexi type amps. The one thing about that pedal that I loved is how it compressed the tone when it was engaged. At the same time I also wished it was less compressed at times, you know how it is you are never happy with your tone...Now enter the AC Booster Comp. This pedal has a 3 way switch that give you ,Extra compressed mode, Normal (standard AC Booster) and Bypass no extra compression at all. This makes an already awesome sounding pedal that much more usable. It also has micro switches inside the unit from which you can adjust the presence frequencies to suit how the pedal sounds. All and in all i do love this new addition to the Xotic pedal family. Do yourself a favour and check it out...
Lou Roppoli ... Tone Chaser
As you know I’m quite the pedal geek. I love to collect and try new pedals all the time. A customer came in the store recently with his new reissue MXR phase 45 pedal. He said to me “dude check this pedal out, do you remember all of those early Rush tunes and Led Zeppelin (Achilles Last Stand)”? Yes i said, Well this is the pedal that made those sounds possible. I remember as a kid going into music stores and seeing that pedal MXR Phase 45 in the glass case. Right next to it was the Phase 90 and Phase 100. I thought why get the 45 when the 90 and 100 just had to be better as they were more expensive and had more knobs. Little did I know that all those classic songs that I had loved over the years were recorded with the MXR45. He plugged in the pedal and started to play “Lakeside Park” by Rush , I could not believe what I was hearing. OMG it was exact!!!! Then he played “Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin and I was just floored….I asked him where he got the pedal as they were not available yet. He told me that he was in NY and a music store and found one there. I quickly called my MXR order desk and asked about the pedal, they told me that they would be receiving the pedals in approximately one week. I put them on order and was patiently waiting for them to come in. The pedals are finally here and all the staff at Kaos love it…It is simple, has one knob and sounds killer, it is truly one of those pedals that you would put on your pedal board and fall in love with. You definitely have to come in a check it out and fall in love with it as I did..
Keep chasing that tone!!!!!
Well, the summer has passed and it has been a few months since my last blog. I don’t want this to turn into a music/concert review blog but I just could not pass over this blog as I just witnessed one the greatest shows I have ever seen in my lifetime. I have seen tons of concerts in my 43 years but this last show I saw was definitely a highlight for me. If you are like me and were into Pink Floyd, especially during the early 80’s, you probably were really into albums like “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall”. During my high school years I loved that album, and yes I said album, as it was on vinyl. I basically wore that record out to the point of having to purchase it again. Pink Floyd toured that album in 1980 and kicked off with a show at the Los Angeles Memorial Sport Arena on February 7. This initial tour consisted of very few shows in 4 cities and Pink Floyd disbanded shortly thereafter. I was too young to go to the USA on my own, let alone go to a rock concert, as I hail from a strict Italian family. (“Stay home and be a gooda boy and play your accordion” cried my mama.) This meant I only had the album until the movie came out in 1982. For years I watched the movie, listened to the music and made a deep spiritual connection to “The Wall” and Pink Floyd.
Just last week Roger Waters, the bass player and the chief architect of “The Wall”, came to Toronto and played three sold out shows at the ACC. The show was a spectacular recreation of the 1980 tour of “The Wall”. The show started off with a partially built wall and as the show progressed the wall was gradually built up until the band was fully covered behind the wall at the intermission. That might sound boring, except for the fact that the ACC sound system was a true 7.1 surround system and there were so many cameras playing video on the wall as it was being built. It truly was best and most elaborate rock theatrical production I have ever seen. Please take some time and check out Youtube and search Roger Waters, Toronto, The Wall. I’m sure this tour will end up on a Blue Ray Disc and you will be able to experience this theatrical wonder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqzI_euZOhM&feature=related
I am a huge Rush fan and have been ever since I was 14 years old. I’m 43 years old now and I still love them although I rarely listen to their music unless it comes on the Sirius satellite station that I’m listening to. Recently there was some talk in the store of a new Rush documentary that was coming out June/July. Finally my buddy Ken called me and said “Dude have you seen the new Rush documentary yet? It’s killer “ and even went on to tell me about some rare early footage that was in it. I was like “Kewl” but I didn’t go out and get it. Another good friend Peter contacted me on Facebook and said “Hey bro did you get the new Rush Documentary yet? it is so friggin amazing and the footage is killer?” then my buddy Bruno sent me a message on MSN messenger one night asking me the same thing. I thought enough is enough I have to get this damm movie. The only problem was that we were leaving for our annual family week getaway at the cottage so again it was postponed. Upon my return and while I was unpacking the van my neighbor's son came over to give me a hand and he started asking me about the cottage and then proceeded to ask me, “Hey have you seen that new Rush documentary?” I was like OMG!!!!!! That was it, I told him to hop in the van and drove out to the local HMV. There it was sitting on the new release wall and I suddenly was starting to get excited. Rushed home and unwrapped the cellophane and slammed the Blu Ray into my Sony PS3 and cranked the surround system. Yelled at my kids and wife to come in the family room and asked them to strap them selves in. Well what an amazing documentary it was , the whole family sat riveted to the screen as we watched the story unfold. It is done in 10 parts starting from Alex and Geddy’s early childhood in Wilowdale Onatario. There is some amazing footage of Alex playing his guitar in his room with his high school buddies then the scene cuts to the family kitchen table and Alex is talking to his parents about how much he wants to be a rock star and doesn’t care about the money (little did he know). As the documentary moves along to chronicle their history there are cameo interviews from many people in the industry including Jack Black, Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and Gene Simmons, this film explores the forty-year career and phenomenon behind what could be the world’s biggest cult band. My wife who was never into Rush and moreover tolerated them for my sake has a new found love for the band and is now playing older Rush albums that she had never heard before and my Kids have found this new love of this band are on YouTube looking up songs and vids. I myself have been rejuvenated both for a love of the band and for a general love of music. If you're a Rush fan, you NEED to own this film!
I spoke in my last blog about low wattage amps and how you can turn them up to get all that good tube compression and saturation without having the walls shake in your home. Well what about all of those 50W to 100W Marshall Plexi type amps. What is a person to do that only has one of those loud amps. Like i had told you before, its all about getting the output section of a tube amp working to get all of the good tube sound out of them. Some amps have Master Volumes on them, this allows you to crank up the Pre-amp of the amp to get it to overdrive then lower volume of the output of the amp. This method works but you don't get the output tubes working and miss the output tube saturation that is really the tone we are all looking for when the output is being pushed. Read More...
I talked in one of my earlier blogs about different class amps and how they sound. I want to touch on that a little, but more so on low wattage tube amps and why they really exist? We have so many new amps that have come out recently on the market and many of them are low wattage. So why low power? Why wouldn't you just get a 50Watt amp and turn it down? Well, these are all really good questions. One thing we know about tube amps is that when you play these amps at a higher volume they sound amazing.
So, finally you have all of the pedals in-line with your rig when you notice that sometimes when you use multiple pedals at the same time your tone changes or it's not what you expected. Well, there are some practical reasons for this. One potential reason is that the effect you are using is actually the wrong one. For example, many people will use "Reverb" when they should be using some delay low in the mix of the effect chain. Two, the order you have your pedals is incorrect or inefficient. There is really no right or wrong when it comes to the order you put your pedals in, especially if you are trying to achieve a specific effect. However many players will agree that there is a specific order as to where pedals should fall in the chain of effects. Here is a simple guideline that can help you with your effect pedal placement. Read More...
I don't normally talk about products in my blogs but I have to just share this with all you guitar enthusiast out there. Do you remember back in the 60's when guys like Hendrix and Pete Townsend always played with the coily cables? These cables are been a thing of the past and have been forgotten about. I remember thinking "wow those cables look so cheap" and never looked at them again. Trying to find one of these babies is even a tougher chore and if it is vintage in age you guessed it, cha ching $$$ expensive in price too. We recently got in these new Vox Coily cables http://www.voxamps.com/accessories/
and I decided to check one out. I noticed right away how great the cable felt and how thick and rugged it was. Read More...
Have you ever gone to a garage sale on one of your wife's search for that antique piece of furniture that is going to finish off the front hallway just perfectly? Well I have and I'm always on the lookout for old radios and stereos. The reason why I say this is because you can find a plethora of vintage tubes that would sound amazing in your old or new tube guitar amps.
As discussed in one of my earlier blogs, the output section of a tube amp has a great deal of influence in the overall tone and feel of an amp. When I say output section , I am referring to the output tubes of a tube amp. These are typically the larger tubes in your amp. There is variety of output tube types available. They all have different power ratings and also have very specific tonal characteristics. Today i am going to talking about some specific output tubes, EL34 and 6L6. These tubes have similar power outputs but still offer a fair bit of differences from one another.
You have been playing your loved and trusted tube amp for quite some time now and you are starting to notice that the amp just doesn’t have that same tone that you have so used to hearing. It may be sounding too thin or maybe it is starting to get really flubby sounding, or perhaps the amp is just not as loud as it used to be. These are all pretty good signs that your tube amp is in need of a tube change. Read More...
If you have ever walked into a music store and peered into the glass counter display you would notice that it is usually filled with a plethora of stomp boxes. If you were to take a closer look you would also notice that the majority of pedals in those cases are usually different boost, overdrive and distortion pedals. Why is there so many different OD/DST pedals? Well one of the biggest reasons for this is that not everyone hears things the same way and everyone plays the guitar differently. So for this reason a pedal that works well with my playing style and amp rig may not sound the same for someone elses rig and lets face it, we guitar players love our pedals. Read More...
I often get asked the question which is better Class A amps or Class A/B amps? What is the difference between the two? Lets to go to Class and discover what the deal is with both.
The class of operation refers to the output section of a tube amp and is determined by the manufacturer or designer of the amp. Although the 2 classes of amps can feel different when playing through them there are several other factors that also determine the sound of an amp, not just the type of power amp. In a class A amp the tubes are always on at full power meaning that the tubes are ready to give their maximum potential at any given moment. Class A/B on the other hand idles the current and only gives power as it is needed. If you ever see a Marshall JCM800 amp and look at the tubes(EL34 tubes) while you are playing the guitar, you will see the tubes glow a brighter Blue as you are playing then as you stop playing the Blue will slowly fade. This gradual current draw will give the amps a slower attack and will compress a little more. I personally prefer this arrangement in an amp. If you were to look at the tubes of say a Vox AC30 or Marshall Class 5 amp you would notice the Blue glow to be a constant bright blue. These tubes are running a full current and are much more sensitive and quicker to react to the amount of power that is needed.
Two different types of amplifier outputs equal two different playing experiences. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, once again it’s a personal preference.
So there you have it, going to class can be so much fun.....
Thanks for reading…
In the past 10 years there has been a huge resurgence in Hand wired Point to Point amps. What does this mean? Does the amp sound better? Why do Point to Point amps cost more? I think the first thing we have to talk about is what is "Point to Point"? In simple layman's terms this is how guitar amps and any electronic components were made from the early 1940's until the 1970s. In this era there were no such things as printed circuit boards or integrated circuits. All of the components were hand soldered together lead to lead.
The age old question, "Do Tube amps sound better than Solid State?" has been asked since the day the amplifier was invented. The debate between the "tube" and "solid state" camps is as passionate as it is complicated. The general consensus is that tube amps are typically the type chosen by most pro guitar players. However, does this mean that you should buy a tube amp? This easy answer is yes, just get a tube amp. The problem with that statement is that tube amps are generally more expensive that solid state amps. What about young Jimmy 8 years of age getting his first electric guitar setup? Jimmy would be better served with a smaller solid state amp that would actually sound better at lower volumes than most louder tube amps. Not to mention Jimmy's parent's investment would be much more affordable. Read More...