Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Plum Deal - $15 for $30 at Perfect Pour

Today, Plum District is running a deal for $15 for $30 at Perfect Pour. Seems like too good of a deal to pass up. hocofood@@@

Saturday, February 18, 2012

That 70 Tone

I’m forever on the search for the “perfect silicon fuzz face.” I have a feeling such a thing doesn’t exist. Or maybe if it does, it’s not for me. My favorite fuzz of all time is a V1 Tonefactor Mojohand Huckleberry. But it’s not an exact fuzz face replica. It has the addition of a Big Muff style tone circuit. I’m guessing it must be that tone circuit that makes the Huckleberry stand out so fiercely in a band mix (which I realize makes no sense because Muffs are notorious for getting lost in the mix). Because every time I try another fuzz face type pedal, I always think “hey this thing sounds pretty good!” But then I take it to band practice and invariably prefer the Huck.

And so it was with the Fulltone ’70 (the newer small box version). I was super excited when Fulltone announced the reissue of both the ’69 and ’70. I spent a few months with the ’70 recently and it just didn’t do it for me. I picked it up used in a trade and sadly the previous owner had played with the internal bias control (apparently these things are set at the factory by Mike Fuller himself.) As a result, I ended up spending a lot of time tweaking the bias and trying out different sounds.

The ’70 is a great sounding fuzz. As for being gnarly and full of “snarl and spit” as Fulltone advertises, I didn’t hear that. What I heard was a very polite and smooth Fuzz Face tone. One that responds pretty well to variations from the volume pot on a guitar and one that responds very well to picking dynamics. It never gets sparkly clean, but most silicon fuzz face circuits don’t. I found that it was a really nice fuzz for rhythm work. It’s “clear enough” that you can hear notes in a chord without that ring mod type “clanging” you get with some fuzzes.

As for the mid-control, maybe it was my amps (a Reverend Goblin usually set in the lo-fi setting and a Vox AC4), but the mid control didn’t do much for me. It had a subtle effect at best and didn’t really make the ’70 stand out better in a band mix.

The pedal is beautiful to look at, especially the blue hammertone finish. And the build quality is impeccable. Having the thumb screws for removing the bottom is great – everyone should do it!

My final verdict on the ’70 is that it is a nice pedal, and especially nice for fuzzy rhythm playing. But it just isn’t that versatile and certainly not better than the fuzzes I already have. And so the search continues…fingers crossed for the Dunlop Eric Johnson Fuzz Face (said by the guy who doesn’t really care for EJ).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I’ll Tumble for Ya

Mornings are never fun at my house. While my daughters are both extremely cute and generally quite sweet. When first awoken they resemble surly teenagers trapped inside the bodies of angry little elves.

But today was extra fun - it began with a bang. My three year-old took a tumble down the stairs as we were getting ready to leave the house. I’m not sure how she did it. I was in the kitchen. I heard a thud, and then a rumble and I got to the stairwell just in time to see her hit the bottom. She cried a little but said she was fine. We checked her for bumps and blood, gave her an ice pack, and she was fine.

It was scary as hell and the second time one of the kids has fallen down the stairs in the last year. In both cases they were fine and in both cases we couldn’t have done much to prevent the falls. I’m not saying you shouldn’t put gates at the top and bottom of your stairs, I’m just saying they won’t stop every fall.

So while my daughter began her day by tumbling down the stairs, I on the other hand, began my morning with a 2.2 mile run on a treadmill (the longest distance I have run since doing my first 5K in September).

And while my daughter felt fine a few minutes after falling down an entire set of stairs,) I feel like I’m walking around on knees filled with the little gravel that goes in the bottom of fish tanks. And since I live with two little girls, I envision knees filled with pink and purple gravel.

Oh to be a kid again. I'm not asking to be able to fall down the stairs without a scratch. But it would be nice to do a short run without feeling like my joints are filled with small rocks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

You hate Valentine’s Day don’t you? It’s a stupid Hallmark Holiday invented for the sole purpose of selling cards, bad chocolates, flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals? You’re not going to let some corporation tell you how to profess your love? Ok, that’s your prerogative.

Me, I’m with V-day for the long haul. Why? Because 19 years ago some girl finally agreed to go on a date with me. It just happened that our first date was on Valentine’s Day. Talk about pressure. First, you ask a girl (repeatedly) to go out with you. And just so we are perfectly clear, this is 1992 and the boy in question is a Doc Marten-wearing, flannel-draped, shaved side of the head dork, so the odds are already stacked against him. So when girl finally says yes, it’s for “the most romantic day of the year.” That’s like turning 21 on St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo (and yes, I realize that those days aren’t really meant for binge drinking). I’m making a point.

Where were we? Oh yes, girl says yes. Boy plans date. Boy takes girl out for pizza and, of all things, bubble gum ice cream. Boy gives girl a single rose and a card - it is Valentine's Day after all. And some how, against all odds, girl agrees to a second date, and then another, and another. And here we are, celebrating the 19th anniversary of that first date.

Valentine’s Day was good to me that year. It has been ever since. Sure it’s a made up holiday, but why not make the most it. Make a nice dinner, open a bottle of wine, make the most of it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Palace of Brine

Make this. Soak chicken or pork in it for 12-24 hours. Then grill or broil said chicken or pork. Prepare to have your mind blown.

For your first trial, brine a whole chicken and bake for 20 minutes at 500 degrees. Reduce the temp to 300 and bake until the chicken hits 160 degrees (don’t worry, it will coast up to 170). Pull from the oven and let the bird rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve and enjoy.

1 Quart of Water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 sprigs of rosemary
A few sage leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 orange cut in half or quarters

Bring these items to a simmer, allow to cool, and then use to brine chicken or pork. You're all set.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Germanium Muff Review

The name of the pedal is a bit of a misnomer. Once you get past that, it's nothing but fun!

If you’ve tried any of the other Big Muffs (or countless clones) you have a preconceived notion of what a Big Muff is. If you’re looking for scooped-mids and thunderous fuzz, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for tons of tweakable options from overdrive, to distortion, to full on fuzz give this pedal a shot.

It’s got plenty of great sounds in it. Sure, it can be a “plug and play pedal.” But there are lots of fun combinations that come about from a few hours of knob twisting. The permutations of combining the two sides and playing with bias, voltage, etc. make for a really fun and rewarding time. You can get huge “singing” leads sounds, thick rhythm chunk, and sputtery-gated-velcro fuzz effects.

Read the full review at Pro Guitar Shop.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Russian Muff Review

Time to come clean. I’ve never liked Big Muffs. I’ve tried numerous variants – the NYC Big Muff, the Little Big Muff, the Way Huge Swollen Pickle. They were fine for home use, but the second they entered a band context they were sucked into the black hole of “where’d the guitar go?”

I couldn’t understand why so many people liked muffs. My fuzz money was time and again best spent in the land of fuzz faces and tonebenders. And then, I found a used Sovtek Black Russian Muff for a not totally insane price.

So I bought it. I plugged my Reverend into the Russian and the Russian into my little Vox AC4. Holy crap – now I understood. Here’s a Muff that isn’t just fuzz and fuzzier. It isn’t a mid-scooped pedal of doom. It has useful tones across the gain spectrum, it responds to pick attack and how hard you strum, the tone knob goes from mosquito to thunder.

And then I took it to band practice and played it through my Goblin with the Eminence Wizard. It got even bigger and more versatile. I get it now. This thing is freaking nuts. Now if only it didn’t take up a quarter of my pedalboard real estate…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tasting Room Wine

Anybody tried TastingRoom.Com? In short, they sell packs of "tasting size" bottles of various wines. Each pack has six little bottles and typically focuses on a grape variety or a region. Mrs. P90 and I ordered two packs, one of Zinfandels and one that focuses on Mendocino County.

We did the first tasting (the Mendocino wines) last weekend, and it was a lot of fun. Tasting Room provides tasting notes for each wine and a form for recording your own notes and comments. We tasted first, made our own notes, and then compared to the professional notes.

We learned two things. 1. We should be drinking more wines from Mendocino, especially the Carol Shelton Wing Thing Zin. 2. Apparently, we don't know the aroma of enough fruits. I can't remember the last time I smelled a boysenberry...