Back from tour + more gear changes...

So, I went on tour. It was pretty fun. 4 dates scheduled, 3 dates played due to a little mishap involving my hand and a portable grill - we had to cancel the Burlington show. We met a lot of people and played with a bunch of great bands: Stone Baby, Joe+N, Century Plants, Kapala, LATRALMAGOG and Soporus. We had a lot of great beer, recorded a few live shows, recorded a one hour session with LATRALMAGOG at Al B's estate, camped out for a few nights, and visited the Liberty Bell. Thanks again Al for letting us crash on your super awesome couch.

Anyway, my gear situation... before North Hero went on tour, Kari and I had some rather tense discussions about the state of my gear. I like my computer. I do. A lot. But leading up to the tour, it was acting crappy. She had concerns about its stability. I changed software, bought a new mixer, just in case the computer died completely, we would still have SOMETHING.

Now I'm taking it a step further. My last recording was marred by some pretty bad glitches. I didn't really mind or even notice while recording for a few reasons.

  • I was going for a very lo-fi sound.
  • I was recording through my guitar amp which attenuates that sort of noise.
  • I was playing a very "noisy" set which masked the unintended sounds.
However, on playback the next day, the clicks were really getting to me. To be fair, there were many bits without clicks and glitches and the clicks and glitches were when I was driving the system the hardest, but I still don't want that to happen when I play live unless I intend to. :)

I began thinking about how to replicate my setup with hardware while at work yesterday. I told Kari last night that I was thinking about replacing my software with hardware slowly, one effect and a time, until I was mostly hardware based. I still plan on keeping my looper on the computer. It's just SO damn flexible. I can't find the same flexibility in hardware for anything less than a grand, so I'm sticking to it. Besides, I can play samples and use my USB-MIDI keyboard to play ssynths, etc. using the computer. It's really wonderful machine.

Despite the wonders of modern computing, I understand the fragility of machines. Comparing a software effects setup to a hardware effects setup in durability is like comparing an egg to a bowling ball. I can't spill a beer on my laptop like I can on some of my pedals. My pedals never crash. My pedals have no copyright protection.

There's also the latency issue. Even the best software setups, at my price range, have a latency that can be noticeable. Could I spend time tweaking stuff to make it better? Probably. Do I want to? I know I should, but I'm lazy! Luckily, I don't play music that requires highly-accurate timing.

Today I posted a MySpace bulletin asking people to sell me their old gear to begin my transition. While waiting for responses, I realized I had a bit more money than I expected and that I could buy some almost all the gear I wanted. Woo! The first thing I decided on was the Boss DD-20. I've heard nothing but good things about this pedal. Cory from Stone Baby was actually using two of them when we played together in Rochester. I had deciced a long time ago that I wanted it, but just needed to pull the trigger.

In addition to the delay, to properly simulate the rest of my software rig I needed an octave pedal, a reverb, a reverse sampler, a volume pedal and a modulation of some sort. I had a Leslie simulator in my rig, but there's no way in hell I'd pay for a Leslie, so something else would be needed... I decided to pull out my old Small Stone. That thing still rocks and it cost me no money.

I spent all morning reading reviews and forum discussions, listening to samples, reading manuals, and surfing for prices. I decided to complement my DD-20 with a Marshall Reflector (Reverb) and a Danelectro Chili Dog (Octave.) I love this octave pedal. I used it when I played with SHAFT! on both guitar and bass. Totally awesome classic rock/analog synth sound. The Marshall has had a few reports of quality issues, so I'm a bit concerned with that, but I love the sound quality and the reverse reverb effect it has. That's right! Reverse + reverb: two pedals for the price of one. And speaking of price, I got the sales rep to knock 31 bucks off the original $120 price through a price match. Score! I also got the DD-20 knocked down from $220 to $200. Double score!

So that's about it. I'm still going to use my computer as my looper, but who knows if I'll need it. I may decide it's unnecessary and just stick to all hardware. Who knows, I may actually start using an amp again instead of running into a PA!

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