Tuesday, 19 January 2055

Soundbelch - effect pedals, guitars, amps, and sounds I like.

Everyone knows what boutique pedals played by people with talent through amps which cost loads of money sound like. PGS Andy, Mike Hermans, Brett Kingsman, Pete Thorn, the stoner from Gearwire... 

Then there's me. 

Every demo is the same. An Epiphone Dot loaded with a Bare Knuckle Stormy Monday bridge pickup is plugged into a pedal via Planet Waves cables. That pedal is connected to a recording PC via the DI input of an SPL Crimson audio interface going into Reaper. No other plugins or pedals are used. I then play whatever random shit comes into my head and you get to hear the pedal as it is, uncoloured by amps, microphones, or salty talent explosions. 

For the anal, I use Jim Dunlop USA Nylon .50 or .60mm picks, Rotosound 10 strings, and change my strings about once a year because I hate new strings. 

I'll also talk about amps, guitars, and sounds in general. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Back again and armed with a new Deluxe Memory Man XO.

It's only now that the awareness of just how long it has been since the last demo was posted. Blame a combination of work, romance, more work, moving house, and work for that. In the meantime Windows Movie Maker is no more, Star Ward died for me with The Last Jedi (and don't get me started on Solo), and Avengers went up a level. 

So first up on the demo front is the Deluxe Memory Man XO. As usual, a cheap Ebay purchase that was totally powered by "Wow, never tried one of those, let's do it". After owning a double figure number of big box DMMs, it's time to give the XO the once over. 

Basic delay sound

A draw here. It's good. XO does seem to feed back a lot easier. The big box repeats degrade a bit more, the XO holds together better. Choose whichever suits you best.


A hard one as every big box DMM has a different noise level in my experience. There is some noise with the XO but it's not bad at all. 


This is the big area where the big box wipes the floor with the XO. It's not bad but it's so average compared to the wonderful modulation on the big box. 

Sound blending

This is how I perceive how well the dry uneffected sound blends with the effected (delay) sound. Big box wins and it wins in the same way something like the Alesis Midiverb wins out. Older stuff just seems to knit these sounds together so much better than the modern ones. My usual gripe about Strymon pedals is how you get the dry sound and the effected sound seems like a sheen plastered over the top. With the big box DMM and Midiverb, they feel much closer together, smeared in a good way. 

General play

The XO was good to use. I could get my usual Boards of Canada warbly overwet wiffle going. Did it hit the heights of the big box DMM? No and really that's down to the inferior modulation. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Quiet times

Not much going on for me now thanks to work mostly. Might be quiet until February but March time will see some new toys to play with and a new location for me.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Reverse reverb with Reaper using the Surefyre Yamaha SPX90 impulses - virtual My Bloody Valentine

Doctor, I am a Loveless tragic. The earlier MBV stuff doesn't do that much for me and the new album is good but not astoundingly good. It's all about Loveless and that swooping in and out guitar sound.

I've had countless rack units to compare reverse gate sounds. The GEP50 is a little duller in tone than the SPX90. The FX500 is a little brighter and clearer. The Midiverb II reverse is really good in its own right but I don't think it's on Loveless that much. The SPX90 is where it's at. 

So what if you're someone like me who owns no amps, a few pedals, and relies on his computer for his noisemaking? 

Answer: Impulse Response files. 

I won't explain convolution reverb and IR files here as places like Sound on Sound do it far better than I could ever do. I've been working more with IR reverb since upgrading to Reverberate 2 from Liquidsonics. One morning at Gearslutz, I chanced upon a chap selling some IR files he'd done of the Yamaha SPX90. 

Surefyre's website:


The first thing to do was to consider the effects chain I'd need. A normal chain would be something like this:

Guitar with the trem arm being abused for pitchbend effects --> guitars pedals for overdrive and distortion --> SPX90 set to Reverse Gate --> amp --> recording device

I haven't got a Jaguar or Jazzmaster with a trem arm so I'd need some kind of pitch modulation going on. The effects board right now has a Thundertomate LM308N Rat clone and a Skreddy Lunar Module clone on there. The SPX90 would be satisfied by the Surefyre impulses and an amp... not necessary as I'll record it through Reaper. 

SPX90 settings and replicating this in Reverberate 2

The SPX90 settings Shields is meant to have used are like this:

Reverse Gate. Output and balance to 100%. Liveness at 3-5. Room size 20. LPF and Pre delay unknown.

I've written elsewhere on my blog how it wasn't 100% wet all the time and other videos on Youtube using the SMMH for example show that it's somewhere around 50 to 70% wet so you get this wonderful mushing between the dry signal and the wet signal. Personally I go for 70% on the rack units so went for this in R2. 

Liveness - anywhere between 3 to 8 works for me. The Surefyre impulses offer Liveness of 0, 2, 5, 8 and 10. I tend to use 5 and 8. For this demo, I shall use 8. 

Room Size 20 - yep, all sorted. 

LPF - I always had this at Thru on the SPX90 so no need to cut any highs on R2. 

Predelay - I set this to 0.075 seconds. 

Organising the effects chain

My lack of tremolo arm means the chain will go from guitar to effects pedals to computer. The first effect in there is Melda's MEqualizer just to roll off a little of the top end as the SPX90 converters do this in real life. Just a little bit off. 

Next up is my pitchbend element. For this, Melda's MVibrato is brilliant. It's set to 100% wet (as obviously you can't have 50% pitchbend when you're using a trem for real: it's all or nothing!) and then set the step sequencer to 100%. Random values and random shapes set there in the step sequencer and then the rate is set to 0.0458Hz. 

Add Reverberate 2. Load up the IR file you want, in this case Early Reflections 2, Reverse, Liveness 8, Room Size 2. Set predelay to 0.075s. Make sure both IR1 and IR2 are the same. 

I then added some compression via Klanghelm's MJUC and set Reaper to mono. Why mono? Because Divine Emperor Shields said he recorded Loveless in mono. 

Making noise

I first start out with the Thundertomate Rat. Definitely a bit too much gain on this (more later) and possibly a bit bright. I switch to the Skreddy clone which is set at 75% gain and with the body control right up. Much better, I think.

Conclusions and thoughts

-Get into pedal stacking. The more I play around with this stuff, the less convinced I am that overdrive pedals need to be run flat out. A half gain Rat into a 75% gain Lunar Module works much better than a Rat flat out. 

-Compression is definitely needed. Not too much to squash everything into a flat mush but enough to keep things level. 

-Loads of people say that you should try reverb before distortion. I've done it with so many units and it's always sounded shit. 

-I don't claim my sounds here are astounding. I'm using the wrong guitar and there's no amp which would compress things a great deal more. If I buy S-Gear in the future, I'll re-record it to see how it makes a difference. 

Plugins used:

Reaper as my DAW (free if you're not wanting to pay, $60 if you value it that much and I most certainly do)

Melda's MEqualizer and MVibrato - free from Melda. Well worth paying a bit more to get rid of the ad screens. 

Reverberate 2 by Liquidsonics - £100 and well worth it*

MJUC by Klanghelm - 24 Euros. 

Yamaha SPX90 IR library by Surefyre - £10. 

*anything that can play IR files will do. Reaper's reverb plug will do it.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Retrosonic chorus - a CE-1 that isn't noisy or with lousy bypass.

People who know me, which totals 8, know I love the older JC-120s. The third series with the direction connections to the power amps rule. Absolutely top three amp material there. 

The chorus is great. I had a 1st series JC and the chorus just wasn't as good. The third series may not be the real original but it works better for me. 

So this... well, it's good. It's a good chorus. It's limited in what you can vary with it as there are so few knobs. The vibrato is a bit too fast for me even with the rate at minimum. 

I like it but quite honestly would rather have a Boss CE-2B. 

Spoken like a true heretic. I'll be on fire by evening. 

Listen here!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Gurus Echosex 2 echo pedal - doing that whole Binson Echorec thing

If you want pristine clean echo, this is not for you. 

Short version: does a lot more than I thought it would. Nice front end, surprisingly good on the MBV smeary sound. 

Beautifully built.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Yamaha FX500 - distortion hates me. Modulation loves me. And it does reverse reverb!

I bought one of these about ten years ago and really liked it (yes, it was sold. Just like most of my gear). The bypass isn't great but it has so much going for it. The operation is simple and there are plenty of good sounds within this unit. 

None of the distortion sounds are good. About half of the presets you will skip over within seconds. The compressor has the ability to be a bit crunchy in a very digital way that sometimes works but mostly doesn't. 

But the modulation.. oh, the symphonic modulation. It's fabulous. If I want reverb from a rack unit of this era, I'm jumping on an Alesis Midiverb II, Quadraverb, or one of the cheaper Lexicons like the Reflex. The biggest strength of the Yamaha units like the FX500 and SPX90 (if you're not into the reverse reverb) is the modulation options. 

To start with, I'll go through some of the presets I like. As ever, it's straight DI recording with a small amount of compression to balance out the audio at the end supplied by the Kotelnikov compressor plugin.