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Updated: 21 hours 44 min ago

John 5 Lesson: The Art of Using Cleverly Calculated Alternate Tunings and Behind-the-nut Bends to Create New Riffs and Licks

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 05:00

In example 1, John uses the following four things to emulate the sound of one of his favorite instruments — the pedal-steel guitar — on his signature Tele:

  1. Behind-the-nut string bends — achieved by applying carefully controlled downward pressure on the string he wants to bend behind the nut. Photo A captures him doing that on the G string (which is tuned to G# in this example).

    Photo A: John 5’s behind-the-nut string-bending technique.

  2. Tune the guitar to an open E major chord (low to high: E, B, E, G#, B, E).
  3. Fingerpick the strings, as in photo B.

    Photo B: Note — no pick!

  4. Use clean tone and allow all the notes to ring.

Example 2 illustrates John’s clever use of open-string notes and a diagonally symmetric fingering pattern to create a neat little meandering E major run.

Last but certainly not least, example 3 has John tuning his low and high E strings down a whole step to D — an action that gives him three D strings that are each an octave apart. Then by using these three strings, he combines the open-string notes, rapid-fire hammer-ons, subtle but effective palm-muting, lightning speed, and incredibly accurate string skipping with both hands to create a mesmerizing melodic run with a healthy helping of distortion.

On the subject of picking this string-skipping sizzler: as you’ll see in the accompanying video, John is a deft employer of hybrid picking (using a combination of his plectrum and fingers to pick the strings), a technique well worth mastering when it comes to carrying out string-skipping stuff with both speed and efficiency.

The post John 5 Lesson: The Art of Using Cleverly Calculated Alternate Tunings and Behind-the-nut Bends to Create New Riffs and Licks appeared first on inSync.

Chorus Pedals Are Back!

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 03:00

Trends in music are cyclical, as we know. There was a time when it seemed like every guitar sound on every recording had some sort of chorus effect on it. Naturally, there was an anti-chorus rebellion and for a time, the chorus effect was all but gone from every guitarist’s arsenal. The pendulum has swung once again and chorus is back! I for one, am glad to see so many new chorus pedals and updates of classics available. The rapid advancement of pedal technology and quality over the past few years means that the latest breed of chorus pedals are functionally and sonically better than ever.

The chorus effect can range in intensity from barely noticeable to near chaos, while retaining musicality in all contexts. Eric Johnson regularly uses chorus on his clean sound to create a stereo image; almost not there but you’d notice if it was missing. Zakk Wylde uses chorus liberally to add depth and dimension to heavily-distorted solo tones and John Scofield uses a fast, wide warble, almost like an out-of-control Leslie, to create an altogether different voice for the guitar.

Originally, the chorus effect was designed to imitate a Leslie rotating speaker, like so many modulation effects. Roland put their chorus effect into the Jazz Chorus amplifier. It used two speakers in the same cabinet, one with a modulating vibrato-type effect and one with a dry signal. The combined sound created a chorus effect. The Boss CE-1 was introduced in 1976 as a stand-alone, floor-version of the Roland JC amplifier’s chorus circuit. This was the jumping-off point for chorus pedals and is still considered by many to be the benchmark for chorus effects. Of course, different designs and technology took the chorus effect beyond what the CE-1 was capable of so the range of sounds available from a chorus pedal is pretty wide-pun intended.

Here are three cool chorus pedals, that have caught my attention.

Strymon Ola

Strymon is so good at updating classic effects by retaining everything you love about the original and fixing the stuff you didn’t. That takes an understanding of not only technology but guitarist’s needs and expectations, which are almost two separate worlds. The Ola uses Strymon’s proprietary dBucket chip to nail the feel and tone of classic chorus and vibrato sounds with amazing fidelity. With the addition of Ramp and Envelope modes you get real-time manipulation of these classic sounds as well. Ramp works like the ramp-speed on a Leslie, speeding-up or slowing-down, at whatever rate you pre-set, by holding the bypass button down. Envelope changes the chorus intensity based on how hard or soft you play the guitar.

Boss CE-2W

Boss has an amazing legacy of chorus pedals and the CE-2W may be their crowning achievement. The original CE-2 became the go-to chorus pedal of the time. Compared to the CE-1 it was smaller, simpler, and could operate with a 9v battery (the CE-1 was AC operation only) so the convenience made it a no-brainer. More importantly, it sounded really good. The CE-2W keeps all of those things intact with some significant additions: Boss’ new, cleaner-sounding buffer circuit, stereo outputs, and two different CE-1 modes. The CE-1 chorus is warmer and wider compared to the CE-2 sound and on the CE-2W you get both. The other CE-1 mode is the classic Vibrato, which is the modulated-side of the signal; a nice bonus!

MXR M234 Analog Chorus

If the name isn’t clear enough, this is an all-analog chorus using bucket-brigade IC chips to create the warm sound associated with classic, chorus pedals. MXR has been doing this with amazing success for many decades, but the Analog Chorus does it with a couple of different twists. The addition of Bass-and-Treble cut controls gives the option of mellowing the top-end and/or taking congestion out of the low-end. Also, the Analog Chorus allows you to connect in either mono or an interesting stereo or 2-output setup. If you use the THRU output and the MONO output simultaneously, the THRU side is your unaffected guitar signal and the MONO output is the delayed/modulated signal only. To get the full, swirly effect, set yourself in the center, between your speakers or combo amps and move them a few feet away, creating a triangle-shape with you and the speakers. You’re in the sweet-spot now!

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How to Add More Inputs to Your Audio Interface

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 02:00

The most popular audio interface format is 2 in, 2 out, partly because it’s the most economical option. But also, someone working solo in the studio might think they can’t do much more than sing and play one instrument at a time, so why would anyone need more inputs?

Here’s why: better workflow, more fluid recording, and not getting sidetracked when inspiration strikes. Think about all your outputs: maybe you have an electric guitar, dynamic mic, acoustic guitar, condenser mic, bass, a couple of room mics, a keyboard workstation synthesizer with multiple outputs, some hardware processors — it adds up! I started off with an 8-input interface, and it didn’t take long before I was spending too much time re-patching cables and resetting levels instead of recording.

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It was a revelation when I had enough interface inputs to accommodate everything. All my instruments were set up, they were patched into inputs, and levels were already set. All I had to do on my software was select an input — which was always the same for any given instrument, leading to even more efficiency.

If you’re buying your first interface, I highly recommend getting more inputs than you think you’ll ever need. But even if you’re currently input-challenged, there are simple solutions.

ADAT Interfaces: The Key to Painless Expansion

You’ll see interfaces that claim, for example, 18 inputs but have only eight mic preamps. Say what? Well, the other inputs are typically an ADAT optical interface, which provides eight digital inputs, and S/PDIF, which provides two digital inputs.

This is brilliant — if you don’t need more than eight mic pres or analog inputs, you don’t need to pay for them. But if you do need more inputs, many devices incorporate eight mic preamps that feed an ADAT digital output. Connect the ADAT output from units like the MOTU 8pre, PreSonus DigiMax D8 or DigiMax DP88, Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre or Clarett OctoPre, Audient ASP880, Behringer ADA8200, Grace Design m108, or ART TubeOpto 8 to an audio interface’s ADAT input, and voilà — eight more inputs. Some standard interfaces work similarly. For example, TASCAM’s US-20×20 has a Mic Pre mode that sends its eight mic pre outputs to both the analog and ADAT outputs.

Fig. 1: Zoom’s UAC-8 interface is being expanded with eight more inputs via the ADAT port. Note that the ADAT clock coming from the expander unit is selected for the clock source sync.

The only caution with expanding via ADAT optical is that you need to sync the interfaces properly (Fig. 1). Typically, your expansion unit provides the clock signal via its ADAT output, so your main interface needs to sync to the incoming ADAT clock signal. This will usually limit you to 44.1kHz or 48kHz, unless your interface and expander both support ADAT S/MUX (described later).

Which Interfaces Have ADAT Inputs?

Quite a few, actually. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and Clarett 8Pre 18×20, PreSonus Studio 192, RME Babyface Pro, TASCAM US-20×20, and others have an ADAT port for easy expansion. There are also interfaces with two ADAT ports for 16 additional inputs, like the Antelope Audio Orion, MOTU 828es 28×32, RME Fireface UFX II, Steinberg UR824, Apogee Ensemble, and Universal Audio Apollo 8 Quad 18×24 (Fig. 2 — you can even cascade up to four Apollo 8 Quads).

Fig. 2: Universal Audio’s Apollo 8 Quad 18 x 24 Thunderbolt interface includes dual ADAT ports and supports high-sample-rate ADAT S/MUX.

Also note that some interfaces let you run two ADAT ports at higher sample rates using the ADAT S/MUX protocol, albeit with reduced channel counts. For example, two ADAT ports can handle 16 channels at 44.1kHz or 48kHz, or 8 channels at 88.2kHz or 96kHz.

But Wait — There’s More: Aggregating Interfaces

Another way to add more inputs is by aggregating multiple interfaces — essentially, you buy another interface to supplement, not replace, the one you already have. The Mac makes this easy, because it’s designed to aggregate Core Audio interfaces. Open Audio MIDI Setup (under Utilities), and then choose the Audio Devices window (Fig. 3). Click the little + sign in the lower left corner; an Aggregate Device box appears, and you’ll see a list of available I/O. Check the interfaces you want to aggregate, and check “resample” for the secondary interface or interfaces. Now all input and output options will be available in your host program.

Fig. 3: With the Mac, an Avid Mbox is supplementing Universal Audio’s Apollo to provide more inputs.

Windows can aggregate devices using Windows’ native drivers, like WDM/KS and WASAPI; select one of these drivers in your host software, and all interfaces that support those drivers will show their available inputs and outputs in your application. However, this is of limited use because ASIO, which was not designed to handle multiple interfaces, is far more common for Windows. Some manufacturers (e.g., RME, Roland, PreSonus) get around this by creating drivers that recognize their interfaces as one big interface instead of multiple interfaces. It works quite well within various constraints — the main one being that it works only with a particular manufacturer’s interfaces, or only with their interfaces that use certain protocols (e.g., FireWire or Thunderbolt).

Regardless of how you choose to add more inputs, don’t just think of them as inputs — think of them as a patchbay you never have to re-patch, because everything you want to record will only be a couple of clicks away.

The post How to Add More Inputs to Your Audio Interface appeared first on inSync.

John 5 Guitar Lesson — Tuning and Bending Tips and Tricks

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 01:45

See tabs for this guitar lesson here: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/john-5-lesson-art-using-cleverly-calculated-alternate-tunings-behind-nut-bends-create-new-riffs-licks/

World-renowned rocker John 5 shows Sweetwater’s Nick Bowcott some cool guitar tricks. After the video, click the link above to see tabs for this lesson!

The post John 5 Guitar Lesson — Tuning and Bending Tips and Tricks appeared first on inSync.

3 Great Drum Accessories

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 02:55

If you are in the studio a lot like me, then you know how important it is to have the right gear to make your job easier. It doesn’t have to be anything big; it most often is the small things that do the trick. Here are three cool drum accessories to check out:

Porter & Davies BC Gigster Drum Throne
This product takes the Throne Thumper concept to a whole new level. The thumper unit is built into the drum throne and is exceptionally powerful. The amp comes with combined XLR combo mic/line input and XLR mic/line output jacks plus a sturdy NL4 speakON connection from the amp to the throne. From a traditional round seat to saddle and extra-wide versions, there are a variety of shapes and sizes available. But what really makes this unit shine is the ability to dial in exactly how much of that low end you want to feel. The Input Gain and Low Contour knobs change the feel, and if you are brave, then turn up the volume all the way. One big kick drum hit may send you through the ceiling, but that is what makes this drum throne special. It is powerful, comfortable, and precise.

Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation Closed-back Headphones
Isolating headphones are great for drummers. They take down the volume of your drums like an earplug and don’t let the sound of the track you are playing bleed into the microphones of your kit. In my book, there is nothing worse than click bleed. You don’t want to have a great performance messed up because you can hear the click in the track. These EX-29 headphones have a clear sound and provide great isolation.

Auralex HoverMat
I would bet that most drummers don’t think of carrying around their own drum rug for studio sessions. Studios usually have rugs, but they don’t always have rugs designed for drum use. Regular rugs don’t hold drums in place very well, and that is where the Auralex HoverMat saves the day. Not only does this slip-resistant drum rug hold your drums in place, but it also isolates your drums from the floor with Auralex’s SheetBlock Sound Barrier, giving your drums a tighter and more focused sound.

The post 3 Great Drum Accessories appeared first on inSync.

Reverb Foundry HD Cart Plug-in Review

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 02:33

Get the Reverb Foundry HD Cart plug-in here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HDCart–reverb-foundry-hd-cart-plug-in

Reverb Foundry’s HD Cart reverb plug-in delivers the high-density reverb algorithms modeled on one of the most coveted high-end reverb processors ever made. From the mid-’80 and for many years thereafter, this legendary piece of hardware was standard kit for every pro studio. As a result, many of the iconic recordings from this period are beholden to this (then) state-of-the-art reverb unit for the lion’s share of their ambience and overall sound. The unit’s HD/surround expansion cartridge included the only algorithm ever to take full advantage of its formidable dual-board processing muscle. This stunning reverb program rocked quadraphonic, 5.0 surround, and high-density stereo reverb modes and produced rich, dense reverb unlike any other.

The post Reverb Foundry HD Cart Plug-in Review appeared first on inSync.

Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo Shell Pack Review

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 02:14

The TAMA Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo is designed for today’s rock and gospel drummer who needs a crisp, focused sound and a wealth of textures to experiment with. This kit’s key feature is the hybrid 10″ x 14″ Duo Snare with legs. Disable the snares, and the Duo takes the place of your first floor tom. Or, engage snares for instant access to that coveted fat, dry ’70s snare sound. The TAMA Hyper-Drive Duo’s thin, shallow maple shells with die-cast hoops boast a crisp attack and quick, satisfying sustain that mikes easy and gets out of the way of the rest of your ensemble. Each shell’s modern satin finish is made sportier by a competition stripe and distinctive Hyper-Drive badge.

See the drums — and everything else used to make the music in this video — at the links below:
Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo 5-piece Shell Pack – Satin Silver Vertical Stripe – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ML52HZBN2SSV–tama-superstar-hyper-drive-duo-5-piece-shell-pack-satin-silver-vertical-stripe

Cymbal Stands – Tama HC83BW Roadpro Boom Stand – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HC83BW
Cymbal Stands – Tama HC63BW Boom Stand – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HC63BW
Hi-Hat Stand – Tama HH805D Iron Cobra Velo Glide – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HH805D
Snare Stand – Tama HS80W Roadpro Snare Stand – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HS80W
Kick Pedal – Tama HP900PN Iron Cobra Power Glide – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HP900PN

Toms – Evans G1 Clear – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/TT10G1–evans-g1-clear-drum-head-10-inch
Snare – Evans Power Center Reverse Dot – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/B14G1RD–evans-power-center-reverse-dot-14-inch
Duo Tom – Evans Power Center Reverse Dot – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/B14G1RD–evans-power-center-reverse-dot-14-inch
Kick Drum – Evans EMAD Clear Bass Drum Batter Head – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BD22EMAD–evans-emad-clear-bass-drum-batter-head-22-inch

Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks – 5B – Wood Tip – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/VF5B–vic-firth-american-classic-drum-sticks-5b-wood-tip

Kick – DPA 4011A – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/4011A
Snare – DPA 2011C – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/2011C
Duo Tom – DPA 2011C – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/2011C
Toms – DPA d:vote VO4099D – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/VO4099D
Overheads – DPA 4011A – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/4011A

Recording Gear:
Apple 15″ MacBook Pro – http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MBP15-512
Universal Audio Apollo 8p – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Apollo8PBk
Avid Pro Tools 12 – http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PTSubAnn-e
Glyph Studio 2TB Desktop Hard Drive – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StuPro2TB
Computer Stand – Meinl Percussion Laptop Table Stand – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/TMLTS

Bass Guitar – Ernie Ball Music Man Sting Ray 4 – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StingRay4SB
sound – Appollo 8p, API Vision Unison Mic Pre, EdenWT800 Bass Head Plugin

Electric Guitar – Supro Island Series Westbury – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/2020JB
sound – Appollo 8p, Tube Screamer Plugin, UA Friedman DS40 Plugin

Piano Pad – Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Omnisphere2–spectrasonics-omnisphere-2
sound – Keyboards, Crushed Organafizz

Lead Synth – AIR Loom Classic Modular Additive Synthesizer Plug-in – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Loom–air-loom-classic-modular-additive-synthesizer-plug-in
sound – 02 Leads, Classic Saw

Clavinet – Waves Clavinet Plug-in – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Clavinet–waves-clavinet-plug-in-download
sound – Classic, Mr Clinton

Mellotron – GForce M-Tron Pro – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MTronPro–gforce-m-tron-pro
sound – Mixed Tapebanks, Church Organ+Choirs Wide Basic

Bell Arpeggio – AIR Hybrid 3 High Definition Virtual Analog Synth – https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Hybrid3–air-hybrid-3-high-definition-virtual-analog-synth
sound – 02 Action Pads, 09 Belly Arp Pad

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Ibanez Paul Gilbert PGMM31 Micro Guitar Demo

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 08:31

Get the Ibanez Paul Gilbert PGMM31 here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PGMM31WH–ibanez-paul-gilbert-pgmm31-white?s=PGMM31

Young guitarists have heroes too. That’s why Ibanez is releasing this Paul Gilbert signature PGMM31 short-scale electric guitar. Now players with smaller hands can enjoy the quirky and iconic looks of Gilbert’s full-size models, while flying up and down their very own maple Ibanez neck. High-gain tones are on full display with a duo of Ibanez’s Infinity humbucking pickups. And true to many of Gilbert’s larger models, the PGMM31 boasts a hardtail bridge that keeps your tuning rock solid.

The post Ibanez Paul Gilbert PGMM31 Micro Guitar Demo appeared first on inSync.

Ibanez Paul Gilbert FRM200 Electric Guitar Demo

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 08:22

Get the Ibanez Paul Gilbert FRM200 here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FRM200WHB–ibanez-paul-gilbert-frm200-white-blonde

Paul Gilbert is an ace guitarist who’s always spot on with his tone and technique, and his signature Ibanez solidbody electrics are spec’d to facilitate that level of uncompromised performance. The FRM200 rocks a toneful, eye-catching (and comfortable) “Fireman” mahogany body. The lightning-fast neck is topped with a luxuriously smooth, bound ebony fingerboard with 22 Narrow & Tall frets. A duo of DiMarzio PG-13 mini-humbuckers serves up a universe of harmonically rich tone — from chimey cleans to full shred — while the Tight Tune bridge and stoptail deliver prodigious sustain.

The post Ibanez Paul Gilbert FRM200 Electric Guitar Demo appeared first on inSync.

Guitar Lesson with Paul Gilbert

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 08:03

Check out the Ibanez Paul Gilbert FRM200 guitar played in this video here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FRM200WHB–ibanez-paul-gilbert-frm200-white-blonde

Nick Bowcott is joined by world-renowned guitarist Paul Gilbert for a guitar lesson — because even veteran players that have toured for decades continue to be amazed at Gilbert’s proficiency and insights.

Paul Gilbert was visiting Sweetwater to put on a free performance and clinic for fans — thanks again Paul!

The post Guitar Lesson with Paul Gilbert appeared first on inSync.

John Patitucci Interview

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 07:01

Mitch Gallagher is joined by world-renowned bassist John Patitucci. He shares insights on his latest work with guitarist Oz Noy and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, his R&B roots, and much more.

The post John Patitucci Interview appeared first on inSync.

Feds Announce Rule for Selling 600MHz Wireless Mics

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 12:30

At Sweetwater, we try to stay on the cutting edge of technology — for two reasons. First, it’s because we love this stuff. But secondly, we want to keep our friends and customers informed about the tech that will impact their lives and creative endeavors. That’s why we highlight pertinent news that might affect you as musicians, entertainers, or as team members at a house of worship. The government’s recent sale of the 600MHz broadcast spectrum is now going into effect and that will impact all users with 600MHz wireless systems. In order to protect wireless mic purchasers who may not be aware of the recent change in wireless spectrum, the government has announced a rule meant to inform wireless buyers about the evacuation of the 600MHz range. If you are shopping or considering selling a wireless system now, we wanted to make sure you know about this announcement concerning the sale of all wireless systems in the 600MHz range.

Dateline: March 13, 2018

The Federal Register yesterday published a rule that requires consumer disclosure, including specific consumer alert language (see below), regarding changing requirements for selling wireless microphones operating in the 600MHz band.  The mandated alert message is written to advise consumers that wireless microphone users must cease operations in the 600MHz band no later than July 13, 2020, or earlier if their use could interfere with wireless operations in the band. The disclosure must be displayed at the point of sale in a “clear, conspicuous, and readily legible manner,” and on the websites of manufacturers (even if the company does not sell equipment to the public), dealers, distributors, retailers, and anyone else selling or leasing such equipment.

This rule will become effective April 11, 2018.

Here is the disclosure text that is required by the federal government.


This particular wireless microphone device operates in portions of the 617-652 MHz or 663-698 MHz frequencies. Beginning in 2017, these frequencies are being transitioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the 600 MHz service to meet increasing demand for wireless broadband services. Users of this device must cease operating on these frequencies no later than July 13, 2020. In addition, users of this device may be required to cease operations earlier than that date if their operations could cause harmful interference to a 600 MHz service licensee’s wireless operations on these frequencies. For more information, visit the FCC’s wireless microphone website at www.fcc.gov/wireless-microphones-guide or call the FCC at 1- 888-CALL-FCC (TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC).

If you have any questions about wireless mics or how the spectrum reallocation will affect your current wireless mic systems, call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer at (800) 222-4700.

To find out more about the sale of the 600MHz band and the government’s wireless spectrum reallocation, check out this article: The FCC’s Wireless Spectrum Auction: Why You Should Care.

The post Feds Announce Rule for Selling 600MHz Wireless Mics appeared first on inSync.

Rogers Drums Dyna-Sonic Snare Drum Review

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 04:56

Get this snare drum here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DS6514BP–rogers-drums-dyna-sonic-snare-drum-6.5-inch-by-14-inch-black-pearl

Rogers USA returns to the drum market with the re-release of the Dyna-Sonic snare drum. This instrument is a dead ringer for early wood Dyna-Sonics of 1960s — the same model preferred by Buddy Rich for years. It features a re-ringed wood shell, Bread & Butter lugs, a patented snare rail, and Clockface throw off. A vintage-styled Black Pearl wrap completes the look. Loose to tight, the Dyna-Sonic boasts a wide tuning range and incredible sensitivity thanks to a unique snare rail mechanism.

The post Rogers Drums Dyna-Sonic Snare Drum Review appeared first on inSync.

How to Power Guitar Pedals

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 07:54

As guitarists, we spend a lot of effort amassing just the right gear, pedals being some of the most particular, and the final hurdle is getting them all to work together properly. Powering them is a big deal. If you only have one or two pedals, it’s easy enough to use batteries or individual power supplies. Heck, some pedals even have them included. If you have more than that — which includes most of us — you’ll appreciate a more cohesive system, especially if you use it a lot and it needs to be mobile.

One to Power Them All

A pedalboard power supply is a single source to power all your pedals. These power supplies are available in lots of different configurations to accommodate whatever your needs may be. Here are some steps to help you figure out exactly what your pedal power needs are:

1. How many pedals do you have?

This will determine the total number of connections you’ll need. The best advice is to power each pedal with an individual tap from the power supply.

2. What kind of connector does each pedal have?

Every pedal has a way to connect power to it. Most pedals have a 2.1mm barrel connector. Some may have 3.5mm connectors, and a few, mostly older, only connect via 9-volt battery. In that case, an adapter is available.

3. What is the power connector’s polarity?

There is a positive and a negative connection on each connector. On a barrel connector, there is a center (tip) and a barrel (ring), and where the positive and negative connections are made determines the polarity of the connector. Center-negative is the most common. If you encounter a center-positive, be sure to use a reverse-polarity connector. This symbol is usually found on the pedal, near the power connection, and denotes center-negative.

4. What voltage is each pedal?

Every pedal has a voltage rating; 9-volt is the most common, but 12-volt, 18-volt, and 24-volt are not uncommon. This is DC (direct current) voltage. A very few pedals operate on AC (alternating current). It is vitally important that you get this exactly right for each pedal, because this is the dangerous stuff. You can usually find the voltage printed on the pedal, near the power connection. If not, it’s in the owner’s manual.

5. How much amperage does each pedal draw?

This is expressed in milliamps (mA) and can also be located on the pedal. The range can be from as low as 20mA to 1000mA, or 1A. The most important factor here is to not underpower a pedal with too few milliamps. For example, putting a 500mA pedal on a 100mA power tap would cause it to act erratically and probably shut down — it might even damage the pedal. Conversely, sending more milliamps than needed to a pedal is fine. Putting a pedal that draws 20mA on that same 100mA tap is no problem.

Daisy-chain vs. Isolated

If you daisy-chain the power to your pedals with a single, non-isolated source, you can run into two problems: 1) there is inevitably one pedal that has its own power needs, such as high mA or different voltage, and 2) if one pedal has even minor noise issues due to power, it gets amplified down the line exponentially by all the pedals you have. With an isolated power supply, each outlet is on its own power and ground, isolating each pedal, and they all offer multiple power options.

If you follow the steps above to determine your power requirements, you can pick the perfect power supply. T-Rex Fuel Tank Goliath

The Goliath has seven outlets: five switchable between 9-volt and 12-volt, one 18-volt, and one 12-volt at 450mA. It also offers 115-volt or 230-volt operation. T-Rex also offers the Chameleon, which has five outlets.

Truetone 1 Spot Pro CS12

Formerly Visual Sound, Truetone is capitalizing on the 1 Spot legacy with an isolated version. The CS12 has 12 outlets, including 18-volt, 12-volt, multiple-mA 9-volt, and an outlet that can be dialed from 9 volts down to 4 volts for that fuzz pedal that gets extra gritty with a battery on the verge of death. Cool. There is also a 7-outlet version, the 1 Spot Pro CS7.

MXR M238 Iso-Brick

The Iso-Brick is a 10-outlet brick with multiple mA options for 9 volts, two 18-volt outlets, and two outlets that are variable from 6 volts to 15 volts, perfect for vintage pedals.

Voodoo Lab Mondo

Mondo boasts 12 outlets with enough flexibility to cover almost any power requirement, including high-current digital pedals. In the event you have a true oddball power requirement, there’s a convenient AC outlet on the rear panel that will accommodate a wall wart. Voodoo Lab also offers the ISO-5, a more modest version with five outlets.

Strymon Zuma

Zuma is a 9-output power supply that’s designed to handle your high-current needs. All the taps are 9-volt, capable of supplying 500mA, and two of them have an option for 12 volts or 18 volts.

Walrus Audio Phoenix

With 15 outputs, the Phoenix is sure to cover even the largest pedalboards. It also has the option of 12-volt operation for two of the outputs and one output at 18 volts.

All of these are excellent units that easily mount to most pedalboards. The trick is finding which one matches your particular setup. Whichever one you choose, your pedals will thank you for it.

For more information and a deeper dive into powering your pedals, check out our SweetCare team’s Guitar Pedal Power Demystified article.

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Adding “Breath” to Your Drumming

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 06:20

When you are in the groove, everything just feels right. The “pocket” is deep, and all the music parts are moving together to create a beautiful sound. This goes for any style of music. When the groove is good, all is good.

Breathing is just as important for drummers as it is for singers. Drummers have a more physical job than some other instrumentalists, so it really helps to have good breathing habits when you play. For instance, have you ever checked to see what your breathing is doing when you play a complicated drum fill? Do you hold your breath or let it flow? Do you tense up or stay relaxed? Staying relaxed and breathing help tremendously to keep good time especially during drum fills. Many amateur and beginning players have a strong tendency to slow down or speed up during fills, which can really make a song sound clunky and disjointed. I highly suggest that when you practice, set aside some time for breathing exercises while you play.
The first thing to try is to get your trusty metronome and set it to a medium tempo of about 108. (You have one of those, right? If not, then you most definitely should; here are some great suggestions: the BOSS DB-30, DB-60, DB-90; the Tama RW200 Rhythm Watch; or the compact Tama RW30 Rhythm Watch Mini.) Play a simple beat and inhale short breaths for four beats and then exhale short breaths for four beats. After you get a rhythm going for that and feel comfortable, start adding in one-bar drum fills while still doing the same breathing exercise. Eventually, move on to two-bar, three-bar, and four-bar fills, all while keeping your breathing steady. Another thing to try is to inhale and exhale in long breaths — in for four beats and then out for four beats. Again, after you are comfortable, start adding in your drum fills. The final thing to do is to breathe that same exact way at your gigs. If you practice this enough, it will become second nature, and you won’t even think about it.

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John Petrucci Gives In-depth Overview of his Signature Line of Ernie Ball Music Man Guitars

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 05:47

Shop John Petrucci’s signature series at Sweetwater here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/search.php?s=music+man+jp

Nick Bowcott sits down with John Petrucci (Dream Theater) to get an in-depth overview of his signature series of guitars from Ernie Ball Music Man. He shares the design philosophy behind his guitars, how the series has evolved, and much more.

The post John Petrucci Gives In-depth Overview of his Signature Line of Ernie Ball Music Man Guitars appeared first on inSync.

Interview: John Petrucci talks G3, Warm-up Rituals, and Ernie Ball

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 05:41

Nick Bowcott sits down with John Petrucci (Dream Theater) to talk about the latest G3 guitar tour, how he gets ready for a performance, and much more.

The post Interview: John Petrucci talks G3, Warm-up Rituals, and Ernie Ball appeared first on inSync.

Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Stratocaster Guitar Review

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:12

Get the Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Strat here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StratEJTh2CS–fender-eric-johnson-thinline-stratocaster-2-color-sunburst

In the pantheon of legendary Stratocaster players, Eric Johnson has more than carved out a place for himself. And with the introduction of the Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Stratocaster signature model, he is taking the instrument to new sonic territories. With the guitar’s historic shape, Eric’s preferred neck carve, and the man’s signature single-coil pickups all accounted for, they’re attached to a semi-hollow alder body.

Learn more about the gear used in this video with the links below:

Friedman BE-50 Deluxe 3-channel 50-watt Tube Head: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BE-50DLX–friedman-be-50-deluxe-3-channel-50-watt-tube-head

Orange PPC212 Cabinet: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Orange212c–orange-ppc212-120-watt-2×12-inch-cabinet

Keeley Dyno My Roto “80’s Tri Chorus, Rotoflange, Rotary Pedal”: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Kdyno–keeley-dyno-my-roto-80s-tri-chorus-rotoflange-rotary-pedal

Fender Marine Layer Reverb Pedal: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MarineLayerRev–fender-marine-layer-reverb-pedal

Fender Mirror Image Delay Pedal: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MirrorImage–fender-mirror-image-delay-pedal

JHS Pollinator V2 Fuzz Pedal: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PollinatorV2–jhs-pollinator-v2-germanium-fuzz-pedal

The post Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Stratocaster Guitar Review appeared first on inSync.

Multiband Processing: The Next Big Thing in Effects?

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:00

Multiband processing splits a signal into multiple frequency bands — like lows, lower mids, upper mids, and highs — and then processes each band individually. When hardware ruled the earth, this was complex, expensive, and difficult to implement. But in today’s software-empowered world, multiband processing is eminently doable and opens up new ways to shape sound.

For example, splitting a guitar into different bands, and then distorting each one individually with an amp sim, gives a more defined and articulated tone. When you hit a low open string and then play a solo high on the neck, the two don’t interfere with each other, but sound distinct. (Note that with multiband distortion, each amp sees less level because it’s receiving only one band of frequencies. You’ll likely need to turn up an amp’s Drive parameter to compensate.)

Or consider delay. You might not want to delay all frequencies — delaying low frequencies may add mud that doesn’t happen when you delay only the upper mids and treble. Also, long delays on the higher frequency bands and shorter, slapback-type delays on low-frequency bands can create a delay effect that sometimes fits tracks better than single-band processing. And splitting an instrument into four bands and chorusing each one separately can give gorgeous, lush chorusing effects.

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To create multiband effects, first you have to divide the audio into multiple bands.

Parallel Lines

You need parallel signal paths for as many bands as you plan to use. Let’s assume 4-band multiband processing, because that’s often all you need. There are several options for creating parallel signal paths.

The “Hey, it’s already there!” Option

Some devices already have parallel paths. For example, the Line 6 Helix has four parallel paths (fig. 1), and assigning them to the same input can provide four bands of parallel processing.

Fig. 1: This preset creates four distinct distortion paths using amp sims.

The Add Splitters Option

Some software programs let you create parallel paths. For example, Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig, part of Komplete 11, includes a splitter module to create parallel paths. You can also split each splitter output into another splitter, thereby creating four parallel paths (fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Guitar Rig allows for splits within splits, but you can also use the Crossover component (in the Tools section) for simple two-band setups.

In this two-band setup (Fig. 2), Guitar Rig’s crossover frequency is set to around 300 Hz. The low frequencies go to the Lead 800 amp for a beefy, distorted tone. The high frequencies go to the Plex amp, which has a cleaner sound. As a result, the higher strings ring out clearly, while the lower strings have a big, fat sound. The Crossover module at the bottom mixes the two bands together; the slider determines their balance, while the pan controls are offset a bit to widen the stereo image.

Some recording programs also allow for parallel effects, either natively or with plug-ins. For example, the PreSonus Studio One effects chain architecture includes a splitter module (fig. 3). Like Guitar Rig, this splitter can feed additional splitters.

Fig. 3: Use the Normal mode in Studio One’s splitter to send the same signal to both splits; in this example, there are four parallel paths.

The Send FX Option

You can create parallel paths using Sends, such as this example in Ableton Live (fig. 4). As long as the program has good plug-in delay compensation so the tracks remain in sync, this works well.

Fig. 4: In Ableton Live, sending a track through three Sends (A, B, and C which feed the Low, Mid, and High returns) allows using Live’s 3-band dynamics plug-in to isolate three frequency bands.

The Brute Force Option

With recording software, you can simply copy a track as many times as you want bands, and then insert the appropriate effects into each track. As with send FX, the program will need to have plug-in delay compensation.

Fig. 5: The screen shot shows Studio One’s Multiband Dynamics set up as one band of a 4-band crossover, with the midrange band soloed and the other bands muted.

If you want four bands, then create three duplicates of the original track so you have four tracks with identical content.

Next you need to create the bands. Although some splits in software programs let you split by frequency, these are usually just crossovers — you can separate everything below and above a certain frequency. This works if you only need two bands, but my favorite method is to use multiband compression to create the bands. Here’s how to do it.

  • Insert a multiband compressor in one of the splits, and listen to only this split. Set the compression ratio for all bands to 1.0:1 and knee to softest possible knee (usually a setting with a low number). This defeats compression so the plug-in can become a multiband crossover.
  • Solo each band in the multiband compressor, and adjust the high and low boundaries to cover the desired frequency range for the individual band.
  • Save these settings as a temporary preset. Insert an instance of the multiband compressor into each split, and call up the temporary preset for each instance.
  • Solo the lowest band on one split, the lower mids on another split, the upper mids on another split, and the highs on another split. Now each split has been restricted to a particular band of frequencies (fig. 5).

Although using a multiband compressor to create the split is my first choice for creating frequency bands, you can also use a graphic equalizer in a pinch. As an example with the Helix, to cover the lows, I turn up the bottom three bands and set the other bands to minimum. For the low mids, the 250Hz and 500Hz bands get turned up while the rest are turned down, and so on. Using a graphic EQ to do the splitting with guitar can sometimes be more flexible than using multiband compression, because you can bleed a bit from one band into another band if it improves the sound.

Fig. 6: The Helix’s graphic EQ is boosting the midrange bands while cutting the other bands.

Note that a few processors (like Steinberg’s QuadraFuzz and iZotope’s Trash) are already multiband in nature — so they do all the splitting, separating into bands, and processing in one plug-in.

Start Processing!

Once you have your individual bands set up, you can start experimenting. If you’ve created your own multiband setup by making splits and isolating frequency bands, this is where the real fun begins. For each split, you may want to include the same processor but with different settings and/or processors in some splits but not in others (e.g., octave divider on only the low frequencies and octave multiplier on only the high frequencies), or completely different processors in each split.

Fig. 7: Steinberg’s Quadrafuzz 2 (which is a virtual version of the hardware QuadraFuzz multiband processor I designed back in the ’80s) inherently does multiband processing for distortion.

Here’s a final tip: It does take a bit of effort to set up an environment for multiband processing. If your recording software can save track presets or track templates, save your multiband layout so you can call it up any time you want multiband processing.

If you haven’t played with multiband processing, give it a try. You just might be surprised at where it takes you — and your music.

The post Multiband Processing: The Next Big Thing in Effects? appeared first on inSync.

Fodera Guitars Factory Tour with Sweetwater

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 07:31

Shop Fodera at Sweetwater here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/manufacturer/Fodera

Mitch Gallagher visits the Fodera factory in Brooklyn, NY to see how they craft some of the best bass guitars in the world. After the video, click the link above to learn even more about Fodera guitars and basses.

The post Fodera Guitars Factory Tour with Sweetwater appeared first on inSync.

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