Every artist would love to have their own work area, where they can go to escape from the rest of the world and just create. I’m no different and recently moved to a new place that gives me the room I’ve always wanted for a studio. A good friend of mine who is a professional builder is helping me put in a few necessities, like walls insulated specifically for sound and a control room window. It’s a lot of work but really satisfying to see it all coming together!
since the 80s there have been huge advances in amp technology and gain quality and the v30 remains popular. yet, amplifier modding remains popular. why? one of the most common requests techs get from musicians looking for mods is to reduce the apparent gain and reduce the harshness of the amp — the very things that v30s excel at! it’s my view that rather than modding or selling their amp, most guitarists should consider changing out their speakers.
a popular trend in recent years is mixing different speakers together in a cabinet. whether 2×12, 4×12, or even a full stack of cabinets, speaker choice is one of the the most effective ways of shaping your final tone. mixing speakers in a cab, rather than all speakers being the same type, gives you more tonal color and flexibility. each type of speaker has a specific voicing and tonal response, which can even effect amplifier feel, that you can choose based on your particular playing style and desired result. if you’re one of those who feels like your amp is too harsh sounding and stiff, it’s possible that the real issue is the speaker you’re playing through. something warmer, with more of a vintage voice, with more bass and a fuller mid-range and less of a high end/upper mid-range response could be a better solution than an amp mod. similarly, if your amp seems too dark or not gainy enough, then something brighter and a less full sound could be just what you need to focus your sound where you want it.
i’ve used a variety of different speakers over the years, and one of my favorite combination has been weber speakers, in particular a blend of their blue dog and silver bell. they truly sound vintage: warm, textured, rich with overtones and detail, but never harsh or bright. more recently i’ve occasionally used celestions or similar sounding variants like the warehouse brand’s vet30 and et65 (another truly vintage sounding speaker) speakers. personally, i prefer a more vintage sound with lots of texture and richness but that still retains clarity when used with high gain rock sounds and doesn’t get lost in a dense mix with other musicians, particularly when playing live with keyboards (which share much of the same sonic space). to that end, lately i’ve been mixing a warehouse ET65 with their vet30. both speakers work well when played clean or distorted, but the ET65 lends so much richness and texture to any type of style and the vet30 ensures i have enough clarity and bite to keep from getting lost in a dense mix.
so, before you look at selling or modding that amp you used to love, consider changing speakers, or blending different types in a cabinet. it’s much simpler, and cheaper in many cases, than modding the amp and can yield some fantastic results.
merriam-webster has several definitions for the word. the first is “to stretch out, or extend.” another definition is to “make an impression on; to communicate with.”
when it comes to music, particularly jazz, both meanings are at the heart of creative expression.
if you’ve ever watched a documentary on jazz,or seen a group of classic jazz players (or perhaps blues or other musicians, it’s just more common in jazz) and listened closely to the stage chatter, you’ve probably heard guys calling out to the soloist, “reach!”, as he/she preformed. what they’re doing is encouraging their band mates to push themselves as a musician, and artist, to aspire to greater heights – such as playing in the upper range of their instrument, or to play with greater virtuosity or to play something new and different. when the chemistry is right, and the right bond is forged there is an appreciation and joy that comes from a shared sense of accomplishment among some players that doesn’t come as easily or often as it should. the feeling that when one of us does good, we all do good – that a rising tide lifts all boats.that’s what those musicians are sharing with each other.
the thing is, it’s not just a few musicians that can share in this. it’s really open to everyone and it goes far beyond the boundaries of music. if you’ve got friends or loved ones trying to do something new, encourage them. inspire them to “reach.” help to support and lift them up, and in turn lift yourself up, because truly, and especially in a collaborative effort, a rising tide does lift all boats.
been working on lots of new material and spending a lot of time working on my chops. lately, i’ve been working through various jazz standards and old faves from “the real book”, working on chord comping (2 or 3 note voicings FTW!), and broadening my melodic horizons. to that last point, for all the musicians in the audience, i’d heartily recommend “the thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns” by nicolas slonimsky. it’s absolutely loaded with short and effective melodic ideas/riffs that are easy to get in your head and under your fingers. absolutely worth checking out!
i’ve actually been able to use this holiday season as a good time to recharge creatively. playing lots of heroclix – awesome dc75 set, wizkids! – listening to lots of metal (slayer right now), reflecting on my playing and my sounds. it’s the perfect time to do it and i think it’s actually pretty important as a creator to rest and refuel.
one of the awesome slayer tunes from a few years back that i’m a fan of 🙂