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Topics - gordo

Open Discussion / The transition.
May 13, 2024, 12:40:43 AM
Nothing really pedal related here but after 66 years of living in the burbs I've made the transition to living in downtown Chicago (condo in the West Loop to be exact).  Upside is that I'm now 2.5 miles from work.  Downside is that my workbench is now 40 miles from home as opposed to 40 feet.  I do the repairs for a music store in Fox River Grove so they've graciously allowed me to move all my crap to their store.

I predict my output will be dramatically lower, but the upside is that I'll appreciate the time I get at the bench.  I've been doing a lot of guitar electronics lately and seem to be Marshall focused as well (lots of blowed up output transformers for some reason).

Was eyeing Orange County, CA as my next repair stomping ground but will have to put it off for a few years while I ride out revised retirement plans.  Subject to change at the drop of a hat of course.

Sucks to work, but good to be needed, so very little to complain about.
Open Discussion / NGSD
February 25, 2024, 10:15:58 PM
New Guitar Synthesizer Day.  I picked up a Boss GM-800 with the GK-5 pickup and slapped in on my trusty tele.  Got some tweaking to do but am impressed with the tracking so far.  This is one of the stock pads called Piano Symphony.  Me getting all fancy and such on a tele but it's pretty crazy what this thing will do.  Added a touch of reverb.

Build Reports / Anamorph
December 15, 2023, 12:57:00 AM
Admittedly I'm jumping the gun here a bit but just got this populated as a PIF comes in that Brian started over at PedalPCB (thanks for doing that).  It's a bit early but I really like this beast and I have a constant love/hate with BBD delays.  With only a quick calibration this one doesn't display the dreaded "GKKKK" on the low end that I'm used to.  The LFO is very very musical and the top end on this thing is very nice indeed.  I need to work on the clock.  Of course I didn't socket C45, why would you need to?  I got a topper of 8.5 kHz with the stock 240pF cap.  I removed it and replaced it with sockets.  I've been doing this too long to miss this opportunity to get it right the first time.  So far I'm finding 100pF to give me a comfortable 16kHZ range and can easily dial it back.  I'm comfortable with boxing this beast and getting it dialed in once it's stable.

Well done Bean, I like this damn thing.  Stompbox parts was above and beyond as usual with their stuff and the delays were preformed enough that they might pre-test these buggers?  I dunno, they seemed to slide right into the sockets.  I got a kickin green sparkle box to put this in from them so looking forward to presenting it.
Open Discussion / New rig
November 05, 2023, 10:57:47 PM
This is kinda sad as a pedal freak but this is my new rig.  Blackstar Amped 2 is just stupid good.  Not a huge fan of the effects but nobody in the audience/congregation is going to ever notice the difference.  Compressor (either SheepyLove Squishy or pictured here the Trash Compactor) and a Line6 wireless.  No speakers on stage...XLR out.  Speakers...plug in and either 1w/20/100w.  Record out via stereo outs or USB.  I hate myself for lovin' you...

And of course I reserve the right to revisit this at any time but the Blackstar will be the nucleus.  Did I mention an effects loop?  Pre or post.
Build Reports / SheepyLove Squishy
October 03, 2023, 12:02:50 AM
This is such a cool comp.  It's the Boss CS-2 done by SheepyLove and Thewintersoldier.  Chris was kind enough to send me a board and this is the result.

Great layout and am looking forward to getting this out in the wild to see how it behaves (my acid test for comps).  It sounds amazing on the bench and really excels at being more subtle than the Dynacomp/Boss regulars.  Which is exactly what I'm after.

Build Reports / Aion Lumitron
September 24, 2023, 02:04:16 AM
The Aion Lumitron aims to capture the essence of the magical Mu-tron III in a 125b sized package.  Let me just say this thing sounds damn good and is the least fiddly Mu-tron variant I can recall. can't get a bad sound out of this thing.  I used the Vactrols that Aion is selling.  Easy build with a "this or this" trimpot that wasn't at all difficult to get dialed in.

If there was ever a "New Bohemians" in a box, this is it.

Open Discussion / New Trevor Rabin album
September 10, 2023, 07:17:14 PM
Try and get this earworm out of your head:
Build Reports / New Aion L5 Preamp
August 26, 2023, 03:46:34 AM
Let me get out in front of this, I have an affinity for all things Lab Series.  To shorten my backstory: In the 70's I drank the kool-aid while working at a music store as a kid but there was no way I could afford a Lab.  Ironically it was much easier to afford a Hiwatt Custom (with sequential preamps) than Norlin's (Lab/Moog/Gibson) top shelf amp.  So that's what I had.  Jeez I wish I still had that amp.

Fast forward to the Nashville floods and I rebuilt an L5 that was destroyed but only the cabinet and speakers.  I transplanted the chassis to a head cabinet.  It became my mainstay for years thru either a Marshall 4x12 or Orange 12.  Glorious amp but not very flexible.

Kevin (Aion) released the L5 as a dead on recreation of the preamp but it needed a 12vAC supply and was finicky about it as well.  In my case a Yamaha supply worked well.  The next gen was a separate build for Channel 1 (often referred to as the Clean channel) and Channel 2 (the drive channel with all the goodies).  Both featured an onboard power module that was expensive but took a clean 9v feed and did it's magic in a similar clean way.  Superb.

This version goes back to the drawing board by eliminating a few nuances/annoyances.  Both channels are back under the hood with a footswitch to select them.  Both channels fall under the same compression circuit.  This is often misunderstood by guitar player compressor peeps in that in the original it compress's the overall output.  So a 100 watt head could be reigned in to be tolerable in a small bar by simply turning DOWN the compressor knob (zero being the lowest output - full CW being no compression).  In Kevin's pedal this allows you to simulate the amp sag that the original would display and also level out the volume differences between a clean CH1 setting and and overdriven CH2 setting.  Or vice versa if that's the way you set it up.  Reread this, because it is one of the most confusing aspects of using a Lab.

When Ty Tabor (King's X) had his Labs torn apart and redone as preamps to feed a power amp the compression circuit became useless by the nature of the circuit itself.  He got all his compression by pummeling the power amp.

And when BB King used his, he dimed the Master, used no compression and gawd help the folks in the beam of those 2x12's.  Seriously killing sound though.  The last time I saw him I had my choice of seats (snowed out Atlantic City casino show with only a handful of audience) and had to move over a handful of seats just to get his sound man's perspective.

I'm getting long winded and I'll wrap this up.

Here's the photos.  Nothing too crazy here.  I cleaned up the footswitch flux to be like my hero Thewintersoldier (geebuz those are clean builds) but left everything else as ratty as my normal stuff.  The enclosure is a gold sparkle enclosure from somebody (I'll edit this) with waterslide.  I didn't get too crazy as I knew this was going to be for my eyes only.  It was a lumpy powdercoat so I kept the detail to a minimum.

Build Reports / Aion L4 Bass Preamp
July 17, 2023, 12:12:09 AM
Despite it's mind numbing parts count this had a very detailed parts list and was pretty much a breeze to put together.  Two caveats: even though I read it twice, it didn't register in my brain that the footswitches get mounted on the top side of the board and the whole schebang goes in upside down.  That makes more sense if you line up the PCB IN and OUT pads.  Major boner on my part and had to solder sucker not one but two 3PDTs from the board.  Salvaged both switches and the board so I consider it a win.

Also, I'll send a note to Kevin (or Kevin if you read this): the labels on the drill guide for channel one should be Treble 1 and Bass 1 but are labeled Volume 1 and Midrange 1.  Not a big deal unless you cheated like I did and used it as a decal template as well.  I got it clear coated and while calibrating I saw the error of my ways.  At first I thought "I can live with it" till I realized I couldn't.  Luckily the clear coat was still fairly fresh and the pebbled white powdercoat doesn't like to hang on to decals as tightly and I was able to use duct tape to remove the decal/clear from the enclosure and start again.  Good recovery.

Enough babbling, I love this pedal (as well as all things Lab Series).  It's very nice being able to drive it with 9vdc.  I think this and a chorus will become to go to bass rig.  I don't play bass all that often but this is a no brainer.  The comp sounds lovely.

Yes I know that flux on the switchboard looks like dog drool but I'll circle back and straigten out the wiring while I'm at it

Open Discussion / NGD - Godin Multiac ACS Nylon
July 11, 2023, 11:23:29 PM
I've lusted after one of these for ever and even given the fact that you can get them used all day for about $1200 I've played a bunch of them and never really bonded.  Godins are crazy consistent but I've played ones that just didn't speak and a few that did.  This one did and it also needed my help.  It had been dropped so it had a few dings and scratches but the neck took a beating from the impact and tore the front two neck screws out.  It didn't feel bad but when I backed them out they turned about a 1/4 turn and then were mush.

Call me kooky but it felt good to give it the TLC it needed.  Drilled out the front holes and glued in some maple rods.  Re-drilled it and it's likely better now than factory (it's a mahogany neck).  Electronics needed a little cleaning (it has an RMC preamp and 13 pin Roland synth interface) and the LR Baggs piezo's (6 individual) were clean and worked well.  A few hours of work and the result is just a total joy to play.

It's also a bit of an oddball with a black painted sides and back and while most have richlite fingerboards this appears to have ebony.

Build Reports / Dragon Thlayer
April 20, 2023, 01:23:44 AM
James the graphic guru has lulled me to the dark side of etching and I find myself with an empty enclosure.  I have a horrible track record of hits and misses in etching so I was skeptical to say the least but I only shot it with a single coat of clear to cover the waterslide so removing it should be fairly easy (hint: painters tape and a stong sense of disconnect from your previous graphic endeavors).  The etch was easy since I already had crossed the line to the evils of ferric chloride and although the PCB stock I used was recognizably the cheapest crap that eBay has to offer it worked out ok.  I had to repair a slight miscommunication between my pcb transfer process and my etching process (sharpie fix be damned) with a bit of jumper wire but the damn thing works so let it go.

I socketed the transistors, knowing full well that by the time the smoke cleared from the original gut shots (JHS internet fodder) there might be some deviations.  Josh has become the master of internet knee-jerks.

Build Reports / Trash Compactor
April 20, 2023, 12:31:13 AM
Like vibes, I'm a total sucker for compressors and I've used Bajaman's LA2A board from the Etcher's Paradise on my live board for years.  I like comp as an always on clean sound without it sounding like I'm using anything.  Think Bonnie Raitt or early Ty Tabor (just TRY and draw a line between those two!!).  Trouble is that I get all wound up about a new board and although it sounds bacon on my bench I get it in front of an audience (OK, in my world...congregation) and it sounds pumpy and effecty.  Bummer.  I've also decided that I like the non-effect effect of the comp being optical based.

The light switch went on when I read Brian's description of Jon's Bear Hug.  The bottom end distorts.  I hadn't considered this as an artifact on the LA2A board.  That's my one and only complaint is that the more squish I need the dirtier it gets.  Now, of course, I also ordered a Bear Hug board because: A) it's a compressor, and B) because I love all things Jon.  Having built both now I get what my brain has been missing all along.  Bottom end mud.  And honestly, this isn't a bad thing in many circumstances.  It can give the aural illusion of more volume with a lot of top end clarity.

So I put this thing together and although I'm a few weeks out from getting it to a live situation...I'm cautiously optimistic.

Jimi, hang in there.  I'm getting somewhere with WAY too many words.

I got to hang a few weeks ago with a PedalPCB pal that it turns out lives within a stones throw of me (jhaneyzz - hardcore graphics dude) and we got together for an introduction and a beer.  He's a wizard at all things (go check out his use of marbles as LED front lighting) but does some fascinating etches and I was intrigued with his work.  I built up the TC and when I did the graphics I intended to do an etch and then chickened out.

I had a slime green enclosure that was begging to be used so I did.

Still...James' encouragement haunted me.

So I etched one.  This was done with ferric chloride using the same artwork in reverse.  I opted to do the lettering with waterslide's and I juiced it a bit with some yellow and green alcohol inks.  It's not drilled yet but I think I'll transfer the guts to the new enclosure (disconnect on power makes it a breeze) once I do so.  Still needs a coat of clear to protect the lettering and I'm hoping it will smear the ink a bit.
Build Reports / Particle Accelerator
February 15, 2023, 04:50:00 AM
I always support my peeps and that goes double for local guys so when Sushi Box released their Alembic F-2B tube project it was a no brainer.  The Alembic pre is beyond legendary and there are a ton of iterations of it but the double whammy of getting a really nicely engineered board with an already machined enclosure tripped the Paypal trigger.

This is how the project shows up and I'm getting parts together now.  Nice touch with "Sushi Box" packing tape.  My current live rig is a Tech21 Sansamp pre that is set up to handle four different bass players.  They make it intentionally hard to get to so that nobody screws with the basic setup.  It loves my Jazz and is a no brainer for the other guys that plug in.  Still, I'd like to warm it up a bit and offer it up to the other guys when I run sound.

Hang in with me as I get to build up this little beast....

Build Reports / DeadRinger 2022
January 21, 2023, 11:49:23 PM
Another one from the Drew haul, this time a powder blue with a simple but effective water slide.  Got it shot with a nice coat of clear, just let it dry and we're ready to go.  Was sitting directly under a drill bit in a drill press and I don't know why I'd think that a drill bit would magically loosen itself and fall on the paint.  So I decided it had to move.  Dropped it and plop, it landed on it's face...

So it's sanded down, re-decal'd and drying.  I'll see if I can clear it again without buggering it up.
I don't think this is really a surprise to Cros fans.  He's been circling the drain for a while and while anyone that knew him would probably describe him as an asshole he was a very talented asshole.  I got to see him a few years back with his last touring band and he was killer.

A nice send off if you've never heard of his band CPR is a killer solo by a killer guitar player Jeff Pevar on the tune Morrison.  Either the live or recorded version.  Just a stupidly talented bunch of guys (including Crosby's son James Raymond) absolutely hitting their mark.
Build Reports / EgoDeath build
January 13, 2023, 05:18:11 AM
Sort of like wintersoldier's CS-3/Oracle report, I must have missed the OCD somewhere along the line, or my rig at the time hated it and I got rid of it.  Whatever the case, my little Peavey 6505MH absolutely adores this little beast and it's become a staple on my board in a short time.

I'll try to keep the backstory short but I'd picked up a load of stuff from our own Drew Hallenbeck a while back, mostly to get a bunch of enclosures but Drew was kind enough to include a ton of parts.  This enclosure is from the Drew haul and had a few chips and scratches which makes it ideal for my purposes cuz it's going to get chipped and scratched if it's worth it's weight in salt anyway.  I don't think these photos do it justice because it looks far nicer in person and I got a few weird reflections.

I hit this one with the laser to burn the powdercoat down to aluminum and for some reason the aluminum looks kinda beige.  I kinda like it and I think the photo's are true to the color.  I really gotta get a cool photo rig like Chris'

Softie3 makes it a pretty classy affair and while building it up that little "tik" the relay makes always makes me happy.  This was a really cool project.

Open Discussion / Jeff Beck has died
January 11, 2023, 10:50:00 PM
VERY very sad news.  Jeff Beck has died of bacterial meningitis.
Open Discussion / NGD - Yamaha Ty Tabor
December 23, 2022, 02:31:14 AM
Pretty rare for me to do a NGD because I'm supposed to be downsizing.  Every now and then a situation presents itself and in my case I've always had a Yamaha RGX-TT on my bucket list and a local guy was selling one at a really decent price and was willing to waive shipping costs if I met him locally.  I'm not usually a fan of "signature" guitars but this one checked a bunch of boxes and Tabor (Kings X) is one of my guitar heroes.  It's a quirky guitar at best and although I'd never played one I knew what to expect.  Made in 1999 (the production run was 2000 to 2003 so it's either an early run or proto).

It has a straight string path.  Nuff said.  Forgive the dust in the photos, it picked it up way more than it should have, this beast is clean.

It has this weird Firebird meets Ibanez meets Strat thing going on.  The core is maple with basswood as the main chunk.  It is carved to fall away from the center block.  The net effect is that it feels tiny and weighs next to nothing.  The pickups are a SD JB on bridge with a coil tap/high cut switch.  The single coils are Duncan SVR-1's.  Technically they are dual coil/split pole weirdos that are voiced to be vintage strats but are much brighter than even stock strats and still humbucking through some sort of magic.

The output jack is carved into the back pointing up, so as you look at it on the strap it's looking right at you.  Far too convenient.

Because it's carved to be thin at the edges and the multiple pole switch is so big they had to put a bubble on the control cavity. The trem is blocked at the factory and I'll get used to the guitar before I remove it.  I don't think Tabor unblocked it because he used so much bridge muting.  Don't know, don't care.  I don't subscribe to leaving the spring cover off because it sounds better.  Just needed it off to set this beast up.

The knobs are very weird.  The intent was to make the volume knob pinky friendly from playing position and the rubber rings make it easy to grip.  Trouble is, that as the body falls away and the knob is so recessed it's less than intuitive.  That and the fact that 23 years later the rubber has devolved to dried out gaskets.  I love this guitar and will get used to this quirk.  Might hit up Yamaha for replacements if they exist.  Another strange quirk is that the pots are tiny little 16mm's.  Very strange choice for a guitar of this level but it works very well so I'm not about to change them out.

Fretwork with a minimal polishing on a 23 year old guitar.  Not too shabby on Yamaha's part.  The only inlay on the fretboard is the TT logo.  I don't recall seeing this on any of Tabor's other guitars or albums so this was likely a one-off on Yamaha's part.  Instead of fingerboard inlays the fret markers are all inlaid on the side of the neck.  Again, strange, but easy to get the hang of, especially on a dark stage.

Dammit, too hard to resist the new MB Fulltone projects.  Looking forward to these (I'm such a pushover).  I can honestly say I've never had either pedal and given their iconic status I think I really should. 

Also I didn't see any fanfare from the Aion camp but Kevin has new versions of the venerable L5 preamp project broken into a separate build for each channel.  I've built the Clean version so far and can attest that while you aren't gaining anything from the original from a tone perspective (and this may be arguable) it's a smaller/simpler build that uses the 13700 for compression. 

My take is that with Kevin's current direction using DC buck converters for power the build is way more pedal board friendly and the calibration procedure is dead simple if you have a decent meter and a tone source.  To my ears the compressor sounds closer to my real L5 but again, maybe it's more of the calibration than the guts.  Next up is the drive channel.  I'd have a tough time not recommending either format, but if you go for the separate channels there's enough sonic difference that both should be in your cart.  Just sayin.
Build Reports / Rockman Dist/Edge in a pedal format
September 29, 2022, 12:33:08 AM
This is a combo of pedals.  Part of the tricky part of getting a Rockman out in a live situation was that they were noisy as f**k.  There's been a renewed interest in that sound (likely due to the Def Leppard and Top Gun activity).  You could get this gear for pennies on the dollar around 2000 onward but by about 2010 the prices started to climb and entire business' were built on refurbing old gear.  PedalPCB put out their clone of the Rockman Ultimatum, which is the pedal format of the Dist thru Edge setting with variable Gain and Treble/Bass controls.  I'd been bugging Robert to do this for ages but I'd been focusing on the Rockman itself.  This pedal makes much more sense.

The graphics are definitely low hanging fruit since the essential Boston sound on the first two albums was serial Marshalls.  So sue me.

The Degenerator project is a great variation on what Scholz Research and Development (SRD) called "Echo" because you can get the tight reverby delays and roll the top end off to duplicate it.  Bonus is that this is a terrific delay that can have long bright repeats as well.

You could use pretty much any chorus between the two to duplicate the "doubling" sound but I really like Bio77's take on the Ibanez chorus because it's capable of so many different voices.  With two LFO's you can get thick as a brick but being able to set the depth on both can go REALLY subtle as well.

Gutshots available upon request but I think we know what's involved here...