Saturday, July 30, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Muse

I've been on kind of a more electronic kick lately, and this song popped onto my iPod the other day.  If you like effects on bass, Muse is a great place to go.  I went to see them last year and the show was just awesome, despite my nosebleed seats.  Enjoy the tune and have a nice weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DOD FX84 Milk Box Compressor Pedal

I think compressors are one of the most arcane effects.  What they do is make the volume of your signal more consistent: quieter things are louder, louder things are quieter.  Its something you don't really need, and you can also have too much of it.  But I wanted to see for myself what effect it could have on live sound, so I decided to buy one.

I started out this pedal board project using an article by Bryan Beller from Bass Player magazine as my reference and guide.  It's worth reading and watching the video.  He had this to say about compressors in general:

"... your signal is passing through a bunch of little boxes.  There will be some minimal tone degradation and maybe a slight loss of gain.  Using a good, moderately-adjusted pedal compressor at the end of the chain will squeeze and boost your tone back to life. For anyone with a healthy pedalboard, I would leave it on all the time."

Fair enough.  So if the bassist for Dethklok thinks its a good idea, I'll give it a try.  I read an absolute ass-ton of stuff about compression and compressors.  In the end, I found that the site Ovnilab Compressor Reviews was the single most exhaustive source of information.  In addition, it is targeted specifically at compression for bass.  It will live forever in my link tab.  Though not specifically designed for bass, as far as inexpensive pedal compressors go, it seems the DOD Milk Box can't be beat.  One trip to eBay and $40 later I owned one.

It is hard to really explain exactly what a compressor does to your sound, but Onvilab had this to say about the FX84.  I have it at the end of my signal chain, and I leave it on all the time.  You don't really notice it doing anything until you turn it off.  It just adds a little bit of extra grunt that I guess you only get from compression.  You can check out a PDF of the Milk Box manual here for more info.  I wasn't really too keen on any of their demo settings from the manual.  I ended up just spending some time playing with the knobs until I found a sweet spot - not so much that it sounded weird, but enough to bring that extra punch.  If you find yourself wanting to experiment with compressors, it would be hard to argue with the FX84 as a solid yet inexpensive pedal to try out.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

IWABO is here! IWABO is here!

Very excited!  My pre-order just showed up in the mail.  I got to listen to a few tracks and so far so good.  I'm looking forward to checking out the DVD that came with it that chronicles the recording of the new album.  It also came with the "IWABO black metal" t-shirt, so now I have something awesome and new to wear to Mayhem next weekend.  In celebration, have a bonus saturday video off their new album!

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Iron Maiden

We're setting the way back machine for 1984.  I still love Iron Maiden, and Aces High is one of my favorites.  My favorite album was probably Piece of Mind, but everything from the 80's era was pretty great.  Great bass player too.  Didn't really keep up with them after Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.  Anyway, enjoy an excellent tune from an excellent band.  Rock!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sounds of a Playground Fading...

In anticipation of attending the Mayhem festival next weekend, I've been listening to the new In Flames.  I think it's a decent album. A bit more electronic than their previous albums, but I appreciate the departure.  They are a really good live band and I think the new tunes will translate well to the stage.  And if the music wasn't enough to seal the deal, a friend of mine sent me this pic of Anders hoisting my favorite brew.  All hail Long Hammer!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Gojira

There are two things about this video.  First, Gojira is awesome as you will plainly see.  They are the best thing to come out of France since ever.  But second, and perhaps more importantly is the fact that this video segment was from a live concert on French MTV. MTV!  How come France gets Gojira on their MTV and we get Snooki? I try not to use expletives on the blog because children could be watching, but damn.  I would trade 200 of the shit-ball cable channels I get for an actual MTV.  Videos on MTV.  And music. Those europeans are so advanced.  This song is the ultimate.  Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Time For New Strings!

I'm not a string expert.  I also tend to leave my strings on until they are a bit past their prime.  Time to restring!  So I'm getting that "new string" sound and trying out a new brand.  I found that this site has Dunlop strings on sale buy-one-get-one-free.  Don't know how they sound, but I'm about to find out.  Also, free shipping on orders over $35.  Thought I'd share the info.  Not sure how long the sale lasts, though.  Check it out if you're in the market for some strings, or maybe just a few back-ups in case of an emergency.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rehousing a FAB Chorus Pedal - Phase 2

So phase 1 of "how to destroy a $15 effect pedal" was tear down. Phase 2 is thinking about what I'm actually planning on doing. Since I'm not using this as a door stop or battering ram, I thought it would be cool to have a transparent box to show off the circuit boards.  Plus, I can just have the 'effect on' led floating in the box and it will light up the whole thing.  Or at least that's the plan.  Now through my job, I have access to lots of great tools and scrap materials.  I was originally going to make it out of 1/2" plexiglas, but it was just too stupidly thick.  I chose 1/4" because I wanted to keep the pedal on the small side, and I think that it will be plenty burly enough with that thickness of material.


Okay, so I cheated with step 1 which is "build the whole box." When you build a box, it might not be anything like mine, so specifics are really irrelevant.  The hardest part was getting the holes for the potentiometers to fit the existing board snugly.  I could get new pots for the controls, but I thought this would be challenging enough.  They already work, I just hated how they were positioned on the original pedal.


Here it is split apart awaiting some guts.  I intend to remove the 9v battery clip since I plan to run this off of an adapter.  I also haven't decided how I'm actually going to hold the two halves together.  I could use screws, but since I don't need battery access and I don't think I'll ever want to get inside once I'm done, I might just solvent cement it closed and call it a day.  I'm trying to think of something cool to use for knobs...


Here it is closed up.  Nothing is mounted on the inside, but you see the amount of space there is to work with.  I need to drill holes for the input and output jacks, the DC power supply jack and the momentary switch to operate the pedal.  The scary part is phase 3.  That's when the soldering iron comes out and stuff starts catching on fire.  I ordered a bunch of parts and a solder sucker, so I've now invested more than the cost of the pedal in this project.  But hey, its educational.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where Next to Conquer?

Since I'm rapidly running out of new bass related toys to talk about, I thought I'd start throwing some home recording into the mix.  You'll notice on the right the big button for Downfall.  That is my current musical project, for which I play bass and draw skulls.  The link leads to our Facebook page where you can check out the four songs we currently have completed.  We've done all the recording with home computers and I've mixed it all in Garageband.  It's not professional studio grade, but I think it sounds pretty decent.  Learning about recording and mixing is a daunting task since it has about four trillion variables.  But like anything you want to learn, it is more of a journey than a destination.  I'm constantly finding out new things about the software we use and recording techniques in general, so hopefully I'll have some pearls of wisdom to throw your way.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth equals awesome.  What makes their new official video for "Destroyer of the Universe" even more awesome is the fact that it was filmed in Philadelphia at the show I went to!  Did I mention they are great live?  They are touring the US again later this year and if you even think you might possibly like them, go see them play and it will seal the deal.  Rock!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rehousing a FAB Chorus Pedal - Phase 1

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I might try building a new enclosure for one of my FAB pedals because I didn't like how it was laid out.  'Why waste time and money rehousing a $15 pedal?' you may be asking yourself.  Well first off, the pedal is cheap, so when I screw it up I'll only be out $15 bucks.  Second, it is kind of an educational experiment for me.  I'm not particularly handy with a soldering iron or electronics, but I'd kind of like to try my hand at building a pedal someday, or be able to swap out pickups in one of my basses.  This is practice.  So here goes.


So far so good.  One screw and the back plate is off.  You can see the battery clip which I never use.  I'll probably leave it in place, but I'm not concerned about being able to access it in my new enclosure since I'll be running off of a power supply...


Four little screws and the first board is out.  It has the input and output jacks and the power input, all of which I intend to replace.  It is connected to the other board by a little white clip with wires which you can see I unplugged.  The knobs for adjusting the effects are attached to potentiometers on the board that is still in place.  Those knobs are just press fit in place, so you need to carefully pull them off before you can remove the other board.  I wrapped my t-shirt around them and used a pair of pliers and the came off with too much trouble.


A few more screws and everything comes apart.  Here's the whole thing minus the original housing.  You can see the three knobs and their corresponding pots.  In the lower left corner is the super wimpy momentary switch that operates the effect.  The button part is built into the original plastic housing, but I intend to replace that with a beefier switch anyway.  The gum-wrapper looking thing is a piece of foil shielding they had wrapped around the board with the pots.

So that is the easy part.  Next I'll start work on the new enclosure and try and track down wiring diagrams on the internet to proceed to phase two.  Then I can really cause some damage.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

BBF's Saturday Morning Music Video: Beck

Damn these weeks go by fast!  I'm gonna try and slow it down a little with Beck.  I really dig his musical sensibilities - he's kind of the Les Claypool of electronica.  Hope you're enjoying your summer/July/Saturday.  I will redouble my efforts to post some bass related things soon, but you know what happens when you multiply zero by two...