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  1. Understanding Those Magic Boxes of Doom By Jon Chappell Most outboard effects behave in predictable ways as you move from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, you can pick up any brand of digital delay, set at the delay time to 125 ms, the feedback to one repeat and the level to 50\%, and get essentially the same, expected sound. Quality issues aside, you can also get predictable results from an EQ. This is a good thing, as it helps you set up the sound you hear in your head on different rigs. But guitar distortion pedals are the “black boxes” of the effects world; they are all un
  2. Using Reverse Polarity Adaptors on Your Mix By Jon Chappell A phase switch on a mixer is actually a polarity switch: it changes the positive voltage to negative and the negative voltage to positive. The reason it's called a phase switch is that that's how people use it: to eliminate phase cancellations in signals coming into the mixer. Reversing the polarity of a signal (and the waveform produced by that signal) is the same thing as having the signal 180 degrees--the maximum--out of phase. That's why in this one situation you can use the terms "out of phase" and "reverse polarity" int
  3. Overcoming New Project Inertia Through Templates By Jon Chappell I had an experience recently that I’m sure many of you can relate to. I heard a great acoustic guitar patch in Ableton Live Suite, and so wanted to use that in a project I was working on. But I’m not a Live user (not yet, though I plan to be). So when I installed and launched Live 7, I was completely lost. Staring at a blank project window—which looked nothing like Cubase and Pro Tools, the DAWs I’m used to seeing—I couldn’t even figure out how to get my MIDI keyboard to make a sound (despite the fact that I was transmitti
  4. Use Your DAW to Create Arpeggios, Tremolo, and Other Delay-Based Effects More Effectively Than Your DDL By Jon Chappell There are tons of ways guitarists and keyboardists can use timed delays to enhance their recorded parts. From arpeggios to rapid-fire drones to tremolo, timed delays can add a new rhythmic dimension to a percussive or staccato figure. But setting up an outboard delay (or using the plug-in variety) is often clunky, and it won’t move with the music if the tempo changes (between sections, with intentional accelerandos and ritards, or just naturally shifting over time). Ta
  5. No More Math! Use This Excellent Excel Solution for All Your Impedance Calculations By Jon Chappell One of the great things about doing research on the Web is that you often find out stuff you weren’t necessarily looking for in the first place, but is valuable in another application. Case in point: I was researching the best way to hook up some lithium-polymer batteries to drive a high-powered motor for my radio-controlled airplane (a 60" P-51 Mustang), and I happened to stumble across a familiar, but out-of-context website: www.duncanamps.com. This was linked from one of the aeromodeli
  6. Don't Impede Me! By Jon Chappell P.A. systems and guitar heads and cabs are often modular affairs, with the speaker cabinet being separate from the power amplifier (unless your P.A. have powered speakers). Having separate speakers provides more versatility, as you can often mix and match speaker systems to suit the job. But before you start using your Crown power amp with your guitar player’s Celestion cabinets, or attaching a 4x12 cab to your Marshall head where you’d been using 2x10, you have to know that you can safely match up those particular components. If you get it wrong, yo
  7. Direct boxes aren't just for recording bass - check out these tips for guitar By Jon Chappell Here are two different scenarios involving guitar amps and recording, both with a common problem that can be solved with direct-box technology. We don't normally think of direct boxes for recording guitars (that's an onstage bass thing!), but it does come up, especially in the following two situations. Scenario 1: You have a great vintage guitar and amp, but the amp has no master volume, so you really need to crank it to get the quality you want. The sound is so flippin' loud that it overwhe
  8. Where the Natural Meets the Fractional By Jon Chappell Natural harmonics on the guitar—the ones found on open strings by laying a left-hand finger lightly over a fret—are a great weapon in the arsenal of a performing and recording guitarist. Often a well-placed harmonic is just the thing a sustained note needs at the climax of a solo. On overdubs, they make nice punctuation points when applied judiciously, and can add a nice splash of color. But when you’re in the studio, the pressure can be on to hit the harmonic the first time, or to hit it repeatedly, consistently, and with good,
  9. USB Mics Are for Real, and the C01U Does the Basics By Craig Anderton At first, I thought the idea of a USB mic was a joke. Then when I actually saw the C01U I thought that it couldn't be any good, given the price (list is $234.99, but that seems pretty fictional—average street price hovers around $80). However, after using it for a while, I've gotten to the point where I don't want take my laptop on the road without it. The C01U is a USB version of the C01, but replaces the XLR out with a USB out (it would be nice to have both options, though I'm not sure where you'd put the extra jac
  10. Not Enough MIDI Ports? Here's Your Solution www.tapcoworld.com by Craig Anderton I've noticed a disturbing trend lately in computer interfaces: No MIDI ports, or at best, one MIDI port (or something on the end of a bizarro world breakout cable). Granted, a lot of what MIDI used to do outside of the computer now occurs inside the computer, thanks to virtual instruments and other plug-ins. Yet there are still a lot of great MIDI hardware synthesizers, pedals, effects, footswitches, fader controllers, and other goodies that aren't happy unless they see that little 5-pin DIN connector. So
  11. Cross-platform guitar amp/cabinet/effects simulation software www.ikmultimedia.com www.native-instruments.com www.waves.com By Craig Anderton I've basically come to the conclusion that amp simulation software is like amps themselves: They're all different. I use all three of these sims for different reasons, as each one has different sound qualities and functionality. So, I'll be presenting some objective and subjective views on each one, and hopefully, they'll be helpful in deciding which one is right for you. FIRST THINGS FIRST Whenever I boot up an amp sim for the first time,
  12. Gibson Gambles...Let's Check Out the Payoff By Craig Anderton When Gibson announced it would be introducing a digital Les Paul, people didn't quite know what to make of it. Initially, Gibson's "digital guitar" was mostly defined by what it was not: It wasn't going to be a modeling guitar like the Line 6 Variax, or a Roland-style guitar synthesizer. Some people even thought it wasn't that great an idea, that the price was out of line, and that guitarists wouldn't "get it." Despite the naysayers, though, I was intrigued. Sure, the idea of providing a separate audio output for each string wa
  13. Vintage sounds and modern hardware hit the stage 73-key MSRP $2,700, street $1,999; 88-key MSRP $3,000, street $2,199 www.korg.com By Craig Anderton I’m glad the days of the “race to the bottom” in keyboards is over. Companies like Korg, Yamaha, Roland, Nord, etc. are building serious, stage/recording-worthy keyboards with excellent build quality and generous feature sets. They’re priced accordingly, but these are products with “legs” that aren’t designed to be flipped every six months for some shiny new plastic thingy. Which brings us to the SV-1 Vintage Stage piano. It’s almost a
  14. Want to get into MIDI guitar? Now you can do it without breaking your budget www.sonuus.com By Craig Anderton The G2M is compact and battery-powered. Back in the 80s, MIDI guitar was supposed to be the Next Big Thing: What guitar player wouldn’t want to be able to play anything from pianos to trumpets to ambient pads from that familiar six-string interface? Unfortunately, the question that wasn’t asked was “What guitar player wants to give up the expressiveness of a guitar and modify their technique in order to hear sounds with delays and glitching?” The answer was “Not as many
  15. A Space-Age Approach To An Age-Old Need by Rick Van Horn KEY NOTES Innovative design and functional features Extremely durable construction Cases are heavy Hardware case had fit problems A lot of thought has been given to the design of Stagg's new Advanced Concept molded hard-shell plastic drum cases. You need only glance at their unusual shape and distinctive molded contours to get the impression that somebody planned these cases as more than just "containers." They're meant to be functional pieces of equipment in their own right. The Shape Most drum cases are essentially cylindri
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