Friday, November 15, 2013

Gear for sale

Nothing at this time...






























Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Eminence 820H Speaker


A few months ago, I lucked into a 1965 Fender Vibro Champ at a yard sale. It was in great condition. Heck, it still had the original tubes, caps, and speaker (along with a two-prong plug).

The first thing I did was pull the original tubes and put them away for safe keeping. Next, I sent the amp in for a three-prong plug and cap job. Finally, I put the original speaker away for safe keeping and installed the new Eminence 820H.

Like the Eminence Cannabis Rex (which I loved in my Reverend Goblin 1x12) the 820H features a hemp cone. It also sports a 1” voice coil and a 15 oz. ceramic magnet. I don’t know what the magnet in the stock speaker weighed, but the 820H is significantly more substantial.

I installed the 820H and prepared to rock out. But I was not prepared for the tone that was about to erupt from my little Vibro Champ. The 802H is rockin! This little 8” speaker plays and sounds like a 10. I plugged in my Malden Mozak (think tele) and got lost for about an hour just playing Heartbreakers songs and other “rootsy” stuff. Then I plugged in my Reverend Roundhouse (think LP) and cranked the volume further and had some fun with lead lines. 

With a sensitivity rating of 96.1 dB, I wasn’t expecting a huge jump in volume. But the stock speaker must have been extremely inefficient because I have a ton more volume on tap now. But more than added volume, the tone is much big and bolder. The stock speaker started to fall apart when the volume was pushed beyond 4 and couldn’t handle any fuzz or OD pedals. With the 820H in there, I can crank the amp up all the way and the speaker can handle it. And if I didn’t need cleans, I could probably keep up with a drummer.

Don’t get me wrong, the Vibro Champ sounded pretty good with the original speaker. But with the 820H, it sounds bigger, sweeter, and fuller. It's funny, the 820H made the most difference at low-volume and high-volume. It now sounds richer at low volume and it doesn't fart out and fall apart when it's cranked.
It stands up to pedals much better now as well. I can now slam the Vibro Champ with my Klone or use a Fuzz Face to great effect. It’s crazy how the speaker upgrade transformed the Vibro Champ from my little practice amp into a legitimate “grab and go” combo.

The Eminence 820H is just an all around amazing speaker. It has the warmth and “smoky” highs of the Cannabis Rex, great, rich mids, and amazing low-end for an 8” speaker. Bottom line: if you are looking for an 8” speaker, I can’t imagine a better option.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Lovepedal Acquires Hermida Audio?

For those of you that have been following the troubles with Hermida Audio, it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Lovepedal is now the sole manufacturer, global distributor, and retailer for Hermida Audio Technology products.

"I have known Alfonso for many years. He has always had an ear for great guitar tone and a passion for engineering some of the most sought after products in the guitar industry. His goal is to replicate as close as possible the dynamics and frequency response of the tube sound and then engineer products accessible to everyone from the bedroom player to those playing in front of thousands of fans. His products and engineering chops are legendary: the Zendrive, Zendrive2, Tiki Drive and Reverb to his full set of compact speaker cabinets in both ported and open back configurations. His customer list includes some of the most demanding musicians out there." Sean Michael – LovePedal

You can sign up here to get in line for the first batch. It will be very interesting to see how people feel about the original Zendrives vs. Lovepedal versions. My advice would be to hang onto your original Zendrive. You might have the next Klon-style flip on your hands. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sushi Nari Columbia

Sushi Nari (Kings Contrivance Village Center)

There’s no excuse for why it’s taken me this long to write about Sushi Nari in Kings Contrivance. We eat there at least monthly, if not more often. In fact, last week, we ate there twice in the span of four days. It’s our go-to sushi and it’s my six year-old daughter’s self-proclaimed favorite restaurant (even if she eats only miso soup, avocado rolls, and edamame).

We mostly get carry-out, but we’ve dined in many times as well. The fish is always fresh, the presentation is great, and the service is friendly and efficient. The standard rolls at Nari are great. And we almost always order at least one tuna or tuna/avocado and one spicy tuna roll. But the specialty rolls are also great. Standouts include the Firecracker Roll (white and red tuna, rolled with sushi rice, flash fried and topped with a special sauce), the French Roll (shrimp tempura with real crab), and the Yummy Yummy (shrimp tempura and avocado inside with spicy tuna, tempura flakes, and special sauce).

The lunch special at Nari is the real hit. For $10, you get 10 pieces Nigiri (your choice), a roll of your choice, soup, and a house salad. The Nigiri pieces aren’t huge. If they were, I wouldn’t be able to eat 10 at lunch. But they are always fresh and delicious. And this way, I get a really nice variety of fish. And of course, the meal ends with Nari’s cinnamon tea.

Nari doesn’t have a website. But they have a Facebook page. And you can find their menu (and get delivery) via CarryOutMenu.com.

It was actually something my daughter said, that prompted this post. We got carry-out with some friends on Saturday and one friend mentioned that he thinks Nari is the best sushi in Columbia and that he will be heartbroken if they close. He says he’s almost always the only person in there when he gets carry-out. I’m always a little surprised at how uncrowded the restaurant is. But they seem to do good lunch business and good evening carry-out.

Either way, my daughter overheard the conversation and in the car on the way home said “I don’t want Sushi Nari to close. It’s my favorite restaurant!” So don’t break a little girl’s heart. Get out there and try Sushi Nari.  hocofood@@@

Monday, April 29, 2013

Snake Days of Spring

The P90s had dinner with some friends on Saturday. And while, playing in the backyard, the kids came across this little guy (or girl) hanging out in the basement window well. Apparently, they were looking for frogs/toads and found this garter snake instead. S/he's the fattest garter snake I have ever seen. Wondering if maybe that explains the absence of the toads...

Either way, it seems that my four year-old daughter and I were the only people present who like snakes. So I slowly removed him from the window well and we spent a few minutes just observing him/her. My daughter asked if she could touch/hold him, and I explained that it's generally not a good idea to handle wild snakes. We then let him go in the nearby woods.

Why is it not a good idea to handle wild snakes? Sure, the only venomous snake we're likely to find in HoCo is the copperhead. But that ignores the possibility of an idiot/crazy neighbor who might own non-native snakes and let them go (see South Florida) on purpose or accident.

But even the non-venomous snakes can bite. When I was a kid, I briefly had a pet garter snake (feel free to question the judgement of my parents). His name was squeaky and we fed him night crawlers. As a six year-old, it was really cool to A. have a pet snake, and B. watch him eat worms.

Over the weeks, I came to the realization that he was my best friend and that I should pet him. So one Saturday morning, I reached into the cage, and proceeded to pick him up. At this point, he decided to bite onto my arm and not let go. Doing the only logical thing in a situation like this, I raised my arm, and swung the snake over my head until he let go. Squeaky flew across the room and landed in the corner. My older brother then levitated onto the couch and began to scream like a small child. And since my father was terrified of snakes, my mother was left to put on her yellow dish-washing gloves and go about finding squeaky and returning him to his cage.

Needless to say, we soon returned Squeaky to his rightful place in the wild. And I got a hamster named Squeaky 2, who I'm pretty sure bit me on more than one occasion. But that's a story for another day.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Songs 2013

Spring should be about “happy” music. The first warm and sunny days always have me running to grab the Best of the Allman Brothers, REM Green, and Matthew Sweet 100% Fun and Girlfriend. Of course, buried deep under the jangling (or sliding) guitars and the sugar-sweetened melodies lie some melancholy lyrics.

So today, while listening to Dawes, Stories Don’t End and The Music is You:  A Tribute to John Denver, the combination of sweet melodies and melancholy lyrics felt perfect.

A Little Bit of Everything from the previous Dawes album, brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. And as long as I’m paying attention, it still brings on the water works pretty much anytime I listen to it. The only other things that can guarantee this are The Luckiest and Magic (by Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five respectively) and pretty much anything written by John Denver or Jackson Browne (at least up through The Pretender).

The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver
For Denver, it’s the melodies and chord changes as much as the lyrics. The songs remind me of being a kid and riding with my dad in our first cassette-player equipped car. This morning, while listening to Evan Dando singing Looking for Space, my mind was pretty much blown. Worlds collided as a voice from my high school years, sang a song from my childhood with lyrics about struggling to find your place in the world as a young adult.

And then a few minutes later, I looked into the back seat as my eldest had tears in her eyes listening to Sunshine on My Shoulders. And it was Train singing it! Train! Clearly there is no greater testament to a well-written song than when a band as craptastic as *Train can turn in a compelling performance.

Clearly, I have a vested interest in this album. John Denver holds a special place in my heart and the album features contributions from some of my favorite artists. But it’s worth a listen. My stand-out tracks are Evan Dando - Looking for Space, My Morning Jacket - Leaving on a Jet Plane, and Emylou Harris and Brandi Carlise doing Take Me Home, Country Roads. My youngest daughter has been requesting that we listen to Country Roads over, and over, and over again. I can't blame her.

Dawes, Stories Don’t End
Let me be clear. Stories Don’t End was my most highly anticipated release of 2013. Sure, I was also looking forward to Iron & Wine’s Ghost on Ghost and a few other releases. But the previous Dawes album, Nothing is Wrong, is easily my favorite album of the last few years. And Taylor Goldsmith may be the best songwriter of his generation.

At first listen, I was a little let down. The album didn't have as many songs that immediately hooked as Nothing is Wrong. But the more I listen, the more I love it. I read recently that Taylor had been digging into the Willie Nelson catalog as he wrote these songs. And I think I can hear the influence. I wonder if he was also digging into Elvis Costello. There's something about Just My Luck and Side Effects that reminds of King of America and Blood & Chocolate-era Elvis Costello. It's in the phrasing, the melodies, and the chord changes. Either way, I love it. But even with hearing these influences, I hear a songwriter finding his own voice. And if he can maintain this trajectory of writing, the next few albums are going to be amazing.

But seriously, go buy this album now! If you want just a taste, check out Bear Witness, Someone Will (my favorite song of the year), and Just Beneath the Surface.






*Train, for when Nickelback is too rocking but you need to find the worst possible music out there.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Earthquaker Devices Tone Reaper

The Earthquaker Devices Tone Reaper is a silicon/germanium hybrid based on the three-knob Tone Bender. If you are looking for Jimmy Page tones, you can find them in the Tone Bender. You can also nail many of the Black Keys thickfreakness tones.

I’ve played a ton of Tonebenders over the last few years. Some have been outstanding, others have been horrible. The Tone Reaper is the best of the three knobbers. Like every Earthquaker Devices pedal I have encountered, it’s amazingly low-noise considering the amount of gain on tap. I don’t know how they make such dynamic (and ragged and raging if you want) fuzz pedals and yet keep them hum/hiss/squeal-free. Whatever they do, it’s working.

I tried the Tone Reaper with a few different guitars. I liked it with humbuckers and especially with a tele bridge pickup. But I LOVED it with P90s. Running my Reverend Ron Asheton into the Reaper and then into my Reverend Goblin (modified to a 1x12 with a Cannabis Rex) was thick and nasty, with borderline endless sustain. The Tone Reaper seems to just love P90s. It latches on to those snarling mids and wraps them in gritty fuzz that’s bright but not piercing. Low notes compress and bloom and high notes ring out. The subtleties of neck, middle, and bridge pickups shine through the fuzz and provide a broad range of tones. Most Tone Benders won’t clean up like a Fuzz Face, and the Tone Reaper is no exception. But backing off the volume slightly provides a few more shades of dirt.

Like the Dirt Transmitter, the Tone Reaper is another fuzz that can do cool things with an overdrive (TS and Klone in my case) preceding it. Setting the fuzz at about 1 o'clock makes for a pretty thick fuzz that's still touch sensitive. Hitting the Tone Reaper with a Cusack Screamer set for minimal drive, tone at noon, and output just above unity adds some extra mids to the Tone Reaper without drastically changing the overall tone. It's great for making leads jump out of the mix.

All said, the Tone Reaper is great. If you're looking for one pedal that can span the range of Tonebenders, or just looking for a new flavor of fuzz, you need to check out the Tone Reaper.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Taste: Xitomate

My mom is in town for a few days, so that means Mrs. P90 and I got to have a kid-free dinner date. When discussing where to go, we decided we should branch out from the old favorites and try something new. Luckily, Mrs. P90 had just heard good things about Xitomate from a friend. We looked at the menu and based on cocktails alone, we decided to give them a shot. Luckily, both the food and drinks were outstanding.

We arrived at Xitomate around 7:30 last night, had our choice of tables, and were seated immediately. I was surprised by how un-crowded they were. Maybe it’s because they are new or just because it was a Sunday night? Either way, they are having their grand opening this week, so hopefully that will change things.

I started off with the Tepache con Pique and the Mrs. had a Paloma. I frequently make a “fancy Paloma” with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (based on a recipe from the Post’s Jason Wilson). However, a real Paloma is made with grapefruit soda – and the one at Xitomate is made with Squirt. My understanding of Tepache is that it’s made by boiling Mexican brown sugar and cinnamon, steeping pineapple (including the rind), and then allowing it to ferment naturally over a few days. However Xitomate is making it, when paired with tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar it’s tart, just a little spicy, and near perfect. Both drinks were delicious and a nice change of pace from the standard margarita. But don’t worry, if you want a margarita, Xitomate has plenty of options and one of the best Tequila lists I’ve seen since Blue Agave in Baltimore. They also have some LA Cetto wines (yes, Mexican wines) that I’ve always really enjoyed (I’ve had them on trips to Mexico).

For entrees, we had the Tacos al Pastor and the Enchiladas Suizas. And because I can’t say no to fried plantains, we shared an order of Maduros. The Tacos al Pastor were filled with succulent spicy chunks of pork, tangy salsa, and just enough sweet pineapple to offset the heat. The enchiladas were great and the poblano cream sauce had that perfect blend of heat and earthy pungency that can only come from roasted pablano peppers. Oh, and about those Maduros – they were fried up perfectly with good caramelization on the outside and all sweet and gooey on the inside.

Oddly though, the highlight of my meal was the Coconut Agua Fresca I ordered mid-way through my meal. It was just that good. I should point out that I’m crazy for coconut and that agua frescas make me think of strolling through the Puerta Vallarta Malecon on my honeymoon. But wow – this thing is good. So good that I could be ok with skipping wine/beer/margaritas in place of it. Based on how fresh it tasted, I asked our server if it was made with fresh coconut, and she confirmed that it is (so much for making one at home).

The atmosphere is great, with Dia de los Muertos-inspired murals and hammered/punched tin light fixtures. Noise wasn’t too bad and we could talk quietly and easily hear each other and not the diners around us. I’ll reserve judgment on the couple that rolled in at 8:30 with a one year-old until I write my treatise on dining with kids...

I’m looking forward to a return visit. I already have my eye (tastebuds) on the Conchinita y Pibil for my entree, and I’m going to need that Coconut Agua Fresca again pronto. Hocofood@@@

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cusack Screamer Fuzz V2

Thanks to the Cusack Screamer Fuzz, I can get Satisfaction even while I Hate it Here. I can also get a Cold Shot and a whole slew of other classic and new tones! This pedal serves up a ridiculous amount of versatility for a small yellow box with three knobs and a three-way switch.

Controls
Level: Controls the overall output of the pedal
Fuzz: All the way counter-clockwise is no fuzz. All the way clockwise is a gated and ripping sound that cuts out as the note fades.
Scream: Controls the gain of the “Screamer” circuit. All the way cranked is double the gain of your typical TS.
Clip Mode: Left is standard TS clipping, all the way right is “crushed,” and in the middle is asymmetrical LED clipping (that’s right asymmetrical like the good old Boss SD-1).

I tested the Screamer Fuzz mostly through my Reverend Goblin (quite the coincidence since Cusack now owns the rights to the Reverend amps) with a bunch of guitars. Even with the lack of a tone knob, the Cusack sounded great with single coils, P90s, humbuckers. I was worried about the lack of a tone control at first, but the Cusack is voiced perfectly. It cuts through a dense mix without ever getting shrill and somehow manages to leave each guitar sounding like itself.

We’ll start off with the fuzz all of the way down. With the switch to the left, you have a classic TS circuit. The gain range is huge and it responds well to playing dynamics and adjustments to the guitars volume control. In fact, all of the clipping options are dynamic. Running my Strat into the Screamer at these settings coaxed all of those SRV riffs I learned back in high school to my fingers and brought a big smile to my face. I don’t usually like the combination of humbuckers and TS pedals. It seems like they both accentuate the same midrange and the sound ends up kind “honky.” And while I still didn’t love a bridge humbucker paired with the Screamer Fuzz, the neck and middle position were rich with a nice vocal quality.

Switching to the middle position on the clipping selector is where I fell in love with the Screamer Fuzz. The output rises significantly over the other clipping positions and the harmonics it adds/emphasizes are just beautiful. With the gain about between 1/3 and 2/3 up, you get a break-up that responds (and sounds ) like a great tube amp. It adds the kind of compression that makes it easier to play without killing your dynamics. You pick lightly for bright cleans and dig in for some grind.

And then you start adding the fuzz to taste. Leave the selector in the middle position, put the “Scream” at noon, and the “Fuzz” at 9 o’clock. This sound alone is worth the price of admission. With my Jazzmaster, this had me rocking out to Hate in Here by Wilco. And it sounded amazing. Switching over to my Reverend Roundhouse (with humbuckers) and rolling down the volume on the guitar gave me a tone that remind me of the great edge of breakup tones on the Alabama Shakes record. I have no idea what the Shakes used for that album, but I was having a blast playing their songs at this setting. In fact, this is where I’ve left the Screamer Fuzz. And I can’t stop using it. My band is used to me having new dirt pedals frequently - to the extent that they barely pat attention to my “little habit” these days. But last week, when I stepped on the Screamer Fuzz for some lead work, they took notice.

And I know a lot of folks are “weirded out” with the LED always being on with the Cusack pedals (green in bypass and red when engaged). I’m fine with it, but if you don’t like it you can set the pedal for “legacy mode” which has the LED on only when the pedal is on. Just hold the switch down for a few seconds (until the LED blinks once), this puts the pedal into "Legacy mode.” The LED will be OFF in bypass, and RED while on. Just hold it again to put back in "Cusack" mode.

In short, the Cusack Screamer Fuzz is a blast. You can dial back the fuzz and rock some classic TS tones, crank the fuzz for gnarly fuzz tones, and/or rock a hundred shades of tone in between. Try it. You'll like it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gilmour Gurls

I have a new idea. When the girls are a few years older, I'm going to get all Murry Wilson and form them into an all-girl Pink Floyd and Big Star cover band called Gilmour Gurls. It. Will. Be. Brilliant.






Friday, February 1, 2013

VFE White Horse Junior Review

I’ve been rocking a VFE White Horse Junior Optical Compressor for a few weeks and it’s without a doubt my favorite compressor. I’d call it the best compressor I’ve ever used, but pedals are subjective and I’m sure someone will feel differently.

What I love most about the White Horse Junior is that it’s simple, versatile, and transparent (if you want it to be). Sure, it will squash with the best of them, but it will also apply the perfect amount of compression to sweeten your tone, even out your playing dynamics, and just make you sound better. You can set it where you don’t hear it when you turn it on, but you feel it when you turn it off.

With just three controls, the White Horse Junior is super easy to dial in:

SUSTAIN: Controls the gain/sustain of the optical compressor
BLEND: Blends between the uncompressed and compressed signals
LEVEL: Controls the output volume of the White Horse Junior

The White Horse has a ton of compression available, so resist the urge to crank the sustain knob (or at least experiment with different levels). I’ve been running mine with the Blend control at 11 o’clock and sustain at 10 o’clock. This setting is great for clean and consistent rhythm playing (especially jangly and sustaining arpeggios).

And while I normally only have a comp on when I’m playing clean, I can leave the White Horse Junior on when I kick on the fuzz and/or overdrive and it’s quiet enough that the noise floor doesn’t go through the roof. And paired with some dirt, the White Horse Junior makes it really easy to get sweet, controllable feedback at lower volumes.

I have one of the plain metal box juniors with hand written labeling. But VFE is preparing to take the Junior pedals mainstream and are running a Kickstarter campaign as we speak. In fact, if you act quickly, you can get a White Horse Junior for $80 by supporting the campaign.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Effect Pedal News From NAMM

Since I'm trapped at a desk in the suddenly frigid mid-Atlantic, Nathan Sousa has offered to play the P90Noir "man on the street" at NAMM 2013. Nate spent the day strolling through the Anaheim Convention Center and visiting with the biggest and best names in guitar gear.

From our friends at Cusack, Earthquaker Devices, Empress, VFE, Zvex, Reverend, Wampler, and Mojo Hand, to Dunlop, Marshall, and EHX - Nate took some great photos and shared some comments on the new gear we'll all be craving in the coming months.

Mojo Hand Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
What's posted here is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this thread on TGP to see even more.

Nathan Sousa Reporting:

Day 1 at NAMM 2013 has been a success, and I wanted to report my findings and thoughts here.

First, I headed over to Mojo Hand Effects. Tried out basically their whole line, and my favorite box was the Iron Bell. Sort of a fuzzy distortion, Brad explained it as a Gilmourish fuzz that is meant to stack well with overdrives. I was also really impressed with the Rook Royale -- the normal Rook side being an awesome drive with a few clipping options, but then you add in the EP-type boost with a treble control. The Xotic EP was always too woofy for me, so this is a nice "fix."
Mojo Hand Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa

Next,  I went by Caroline Guitar and tried out the new Kilobyte Delay. This thing is RAD, man. I love Caroline for their Wave Cannon, but this is another reason to pay attention to what Phillipe and the gang are up to. Really cool control over the gain of the repeats-- you are able to get some great saturation and grit. This is what I wanted the Supa Puss to do but didn't. And there is also the switch to have runaway repeats, which is great for on-the-fly spurts of craziness. I had a ton of fun playing with this one.

Wampler Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After Caroline, I swung by the Wampler booth. I got to chat with them a bit about their new pedal, the Dual Fusion. It's a great idea for a pedal- mixing the Paisley and the Euphoria together. They mentioned that it still needs some tweaks in the EQ sections, but it's getting close. The proto also does not have a way to quickly change the order of the effects-- you just have to move the ins/outs around. But perhaps this will change on the production model. It sounded great, and even though you lose a few controls (bass on Euphoria, counter on Paisley), it was super super versatile, and of course the stack was great. 

Rockett Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After that I headed over to Rockett. I was chatting with them about their new Mark Sampson line, when up walks Mark Sampson! That was cool to shake his hand and meet him briefly. They started chatting about their new pedals, and got to hear each of them. They all sounded great, but the two that really stood out were the High Top and the unmarked Klon-esque pedal. The High Top really took your amp into Matchless/AC territory and had a great EQ and glassiness to it. Truly a DC30 sound in a box. The Klon-esque pedal (not sure I heard a name) is two sides: one has simple volume/tone, and the other has more control-- one switch toggles the two sides, the other switch is bypass. Really cool sounding, and is more appealing to me than the Klon for the added gain stage and more EQ control. Don't know when this will be out but I hope I can afford it! The other Sampson pedals should be out in March.

Cusack Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
My next stop was Cusack Effects. Really fun trying out their line since I had not had much experience with it. The drive section was cool- and the way they tweaked the Screamer Fuzz (a P90Noir favorite) to have a little OD and a little Fuzz is very cool. Their switching system was really great, including a tap tempo, presets, and soft switches. Seemed like a great option if you're looking for a looper with options. And their delay: wow! I had never heard one, but the tone of the repeats was fantastic. And it's got tap subdivisions plus tons of other options. Sounded killer. They also get the award for most colorful booth. A.J. mentioned it was like working in a kid's playground! The most exciting item at Cusack was the Goblin amplifier. This is the 15 watt little brother to the Kingsnake, and it's a ridiculous amount of amp in a small and affordable package.

VFE Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After Cusack, I went over and checked out VFE next. Peter was there and walked through his whole line. All very cool sounding, and the new addition of simpler pedals (Junior Series) was a cool add. If you have not yet joined the Kickstarter campaign for the Junior pedals, get in now. It's a great deal with the benefit of supporting a great builder. For $80 you get the Junior of your choice, a t-shirt, and a sticker. But act fast. There are only about 20 slot of the $80 early-bird option left. After that, it's $100 for a pedal, shirt, and sticker. It's still an amazing deal for such quality effects.

Earthquaker Devices Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
Then I was off to Earthquaker Devices. I love these guys! Their Talons and Dispatch Master were two of my favorite pedals I got in 2012. And the Organizer and Dirt Transmitter are P90Noir favorites. This year they were showing off the new compressor, the Warden -- and also their new reverb/delay monster, the Disaster Transport Sr. The Warden was cool, I didn't play it-- just heard it. It sounded like a good comp should, but I didn't personally get the feel of it. The DTSR has two sides: one has modulation, one has reverb. You can use them separately or together, and the combination is hypnotizing - amazing ambiance and tons of options abound.

Dunlop Fuzz Face Minis - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
The Dunlop booth was buzzing over their new Mini Fuzz Face pedals. I got to plug in myself and give them a try. They had the old ones in line with the new ones, and I got to try them all out. Granted I was on a set of headphones… so I can't say much. BUT, the new ones sounded great-- I will say a little different than the old ones. I noticed the old ones were powered off batteries, but the new ones had a power supply… is this really a fair comparison? Anyways, I also wanted to check out the Echo-Puss, since I was so disappointed with the Supa-Puss that I bought last year. I was surprised by the Echo-Puss! It sounded really different, and more to my liking than the Supa-Puss. The modulation did not seem as crazy, and the tone of the repeats was a little "fuller" and not as filtered out. Wish it had tap tempo, but was also glad they had a version without the bling graphics on it. Cool stuff at Dunlop.

Cusack Goblin


Photo courtesy of Nathan Sousa
Goblin - A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous creature; a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom. They are attributed with various abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin.

Goblin - An insanely good 15 watt 6V6-powered guitar amp originally manufactured by Reverend Guitars. The Reverend Goblin was produced in small numbers (roughly 200) and I'm lucky to own one of those. Thanks to our friends at Cusack Music, the Goblin is back, and better than ever. The Cusack amps are hand-made in the US and built to withstand the rigors of the road.

If you haven't had the pleasure of playing a Goblin, start saving now. With wattage switchable between 5 and 15 watts and the brilliant 3-way Schizo switch, the Goblin is an amazing recording amp that has enough power on tap to keep up with a pounding drummer.

This Goblin isn't a grotesque creature. But it does offer various temperaments and abilities and delivers everything from pristine cleans to glorious power-tube distortion at less than ear-bleeding levels. I can't wait to try one out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

IM Wine and Wine Bin to Start Growler Programs for Beer

Beginning on Friday, February 1st, 2013, IM Wine will begin filling growlers. And beginning this Friday (the 25th) Wine Bin in Ellicott City will start.

I've been patiently waiting for IM Wine to offer growlers. I know they've been trying for a while to get this going and I'm thrilled that they finally are.

It sounds like they will launch with a six-tap system. I can't wait to see what they have on tap!

IM doesn't say what size growlers they will offer, but they state that by law, they must be branded as IM Wine. I'm hopeful that they will offer 32 and 64 oz, but I'll be happy with anything.

Thanks to a commenter I've been alerted that the Wine Bin in Ellicott City is rolling out Growlers as well. The picture above shows what's on tap and prices. And note that they are offering 32 oz and 64 oz. The prices are pretty good as well. hocoblogs@@@

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Coolest. Amp. Ever!

I think I've already made abundantly clear in this blog, that I pray at the alter of Reverend when it comes to guitars and amps. But about two years ago, I came across someone selling a custom made Mojotone 1x12 cabinet designed for a Reverend Goblin. I loved my Goblin as is, and I certainly loved the light weight of the 1x10 cab with the Jensen Neo. But I was eager to push a little more air.

I got the cab, loaded my head, switched the Mojo greenback-style speaker for an Eminences Wizard that I had lying around and had my mind blown. Words can't describe how much I love this new setup.

More recently, I switched to an Eminence Cannabis Rex, and I'm in love all over again.
























Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Faded Sticker - Track By Track Gear Run Down

Over the summer, my band recorded our debut album. You can find it on iTunes and Amazon. Or feel free to comment if you want an actual CD.

Being the gear head that I am, I took pretty meticulous notes on what we used for each track. For some overdubs, we did so many takes that we lost track, but here's the bulk of it.

We were lucky to record at Invisible Sound Studios in Baltimore, MD where we had a ton of vintage and boutique amps to choose from.And of course, thanks to my pedal addiction, we had plenty of options on that front as well.


GSRS - Reverend Roundhouse HB, into HBE Germania44, into Tweed Deluxe.

The highlight of the sessions was slamming a '58 Tweed Deluxe with an HBE Germania44 Treble Booster. Grunge is the only way to describe it. It's how we got the main rhythm tone used on GSRS.The lead guitar is a home-made 25.5 scale bolt-neck with filtertrons into the "Marshall" side of a 65 Amps London. 

Mercy


For this one, the rhythm part was a Malden Mozak, into a Fulltone '69 MKII (with the volume rolled off), into a vintage Blackface Deluxe Reverb. The lead part was a 25.5 scale bolt-neck with filtertrons into one of the hand-wired AC30 reissues. The echo is a Cusack Tap-a-Delay. Even crazier, the synth and piano sounds are all from the iPad version of GarageBand.

Fireworks


I covered part of recording this song in a previous post. I discussed how I used the Cusack Tap-A-Scream to transition into the noisy coda. But the tools used for the main rhythm part were also pretty cool. Live, I've been using a Micro POG and the Leslie setting on a Line 6 M9 to do a faux B3 kind of thing. When Dave (our engineer) heard it, he said "Are you doing a rotating speaker thing there? We have a Chord-a-Vox, you know!" So we grabbed the Chord-a-Vox a fed the signal from my Reverend Goblin into it. Swirly-wirly goodness. The lead parts are the custom guitar into the '65 London.

And then the outro is a whole lot of tracks of oscillating Fuzz Factory, a theremin app, etc.