Archive for December, 2009

 

Attack of the clone

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Last year around this time I was given a cool gift for a music geek.  It was a “build your own clone” electronics kit from (yep, you guessed it) buildyourownclone.com.  Since I am currently spending time sitting around with my leg in the air, I thought I’d finally put it together.  Since I was a good boy this year Santa brought me a Pedaltrain pedalboard, so it seemed like a good time to get some pedal stuff together.

This particular kit was for their Classic Phaser.  It was well packaged, and I had printed out the instructions from the site when my initial excitement was high.  I pulled all the parts out, heated up my soldering iron and went to town.

The directions are pretty straightforward – following the instructions and the circuit board layout resulted in just the cutest little schnookie of a circuit board:

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Once the board was together I had to assemble the mechanical parts of the pedal.  The inputs and potentiometers and the foot switch all get connected to the enclosure with washers and nuts.

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Once the hardware was in place it was time to wire everything together.  While I was doing that I remembered what a pain in the ass soldering in tight quarters can be.  Overall, though, there weren’t many connections so it wasn’t that big a deal.

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When all the inputs and pots were wired up I made the connections to the circuit board.  The board has two plastic stand-offs that have double-sided tape on them.  The stand-offs actually attach to the bottoms of the two potentiometers that are mounted on the case.  Christmas Ale seemed to make things start going very smoothly at this point, by the way.

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Once everything was mounted and connected, I threw a battery in and connected a guitar.  The final step was biasing the JFETs using the trim pot on the circuit board.

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Surprisingly everything worked like a charm.  It sounds pretty cool. Here’s a little clip of a riff from a forthcoming tune:

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So that’s a “hand-wired” pedal.  You can buy hand-wired pedals now (like this), but they cost 150% – 200% of the price of one of these kits.  All told it took me a few hours of work over the course of a couple days.  I have to come up with some labels or stickers to give the enclosure some personality, but that’s the fun part.

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Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

We have had a pretty impressive year full of songwriting, recording and lots of fun.  Hopefully your year has been just as exciting and entertaining.

We look forward to a new year full of possibilities.  We’re planning to release a new record in Spring 2010 (after only two years of work – SHOCKER!) and we are unquestionably going to get out and play some shows.  We’re very much looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

So from all of us at DD69, Happy New Year!

Technology is cool

Monday, December 28th, 2009

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At some point a few years ago, hellpellet and I went on a weekend trip. I wanted to take sone time on the getaway to work on some songs, so I brought the most stripped down setup I could: my Tascam 4-track, a Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine, a crappy microphone, and my Parker Fly guitar. I could easily cobble together some basic ideas with that setup, and everything except the guitar fit into a backpack.

Fast-forward to last week. In my current one-footed state I’ve been reduced to sitting on the couch with one leg up while playing guitar. A fellow songwriter asked me to send him a riff that I had played so we could collaborate. Did I crutch around trying to find the 4-track? Nope.

I set my iPhone on a pillow next to me, used a voice-recording app, and played the riff.  After I was done I reviewed the recording, then immediately pulled up email and sent the audio file.

I’m no stranger to technophilic geekery, but being able to do stuff like that still blows my mind sometimes.

It doesn’t have to be an iPhone, either.  Other mobile phones can do similar stuff, and there’s the whole portable recorder armada (like Zoom and Sony handhelds) that make on-the-spot idea capturing easy.  No more monkeying around with cables and microphones and some boxy recording device.  Now we can plop down a little piece of gear, set levels and capture rehearsals or jams on the fly.

I used to have ADATs set up for recording rehearsals.  When I got back to the studio I’d have to transfer the audio to a computer in real time, then convert the resulting files to mp3s for sharing.  Not anymore.  Now the audio can be rendered as mp3 files from the beginning, and transferring them via USB is comparatively instantaneous.

It’s exquisite to be able to capture ideas wherever we happen to be without having to carry a pack full of gear and cables.  Of course it’s no substitute for a dedicated studio/recording rig, but for getting something down so that you don’t forget, it sure beats the bulkier alternative or the call-your-voicemail-and-hum-a-few-bars routine.

Christmas Crash Soiree is still on – but no DD69

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

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The Cleveland Independent is hosting its Christmas Crash Soiree tonight at Roc Bar on the east bank of the Flats here in Cleveland.  Unfortunately we had to bow out of the show as a result of my recent ankle injury.  We look forward to future opportunities to perform at events hosted by the paper, assuming me and stairs can get along in the future.

It should still be a fun evening, though.  The remaining performers are still in the lineup:  Joshua Jesty, Robin Stone, Zach, and Return of Simple.  Find out all the gory details here in Ashley’s show preview.

The ambulatory members of DD69 will still be on-hand at the event to enjoy the party, hang out, pass out some CDs, and support the rest of the bands – as well as show support for the Independent.  If you go to the show, leave a comment and let me know how it was.  I’ll be there in spirit, if you know what I mean.

How do you play the gig when you can’t stand up?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Playing in DD69 is not a sit-down kind of experience unless you’re playing drums. Even then we could go the Jellyfish route and all stand up, but I know Charley would never… well stand for it, I guess (insert groan here).

I digress. On Sunday, while moving an end table downstairs for a friend, I missed a step and sprained my ankle in spectacular, foot-at-right-angle-to-leg fashion. Apparently I screamed like an animal for a while. Too bad we didn’t get those gems on tape.

Good news: no broken bones. Bad news: I can’t walk without crutches for a while. Hopefully that’s a matter of days versus weeks.

So DD69 has finally booked a show after several years of being studio-bound, and here I am all gimpy. I figure I have a few options:

1. Get lucky. Maybe I’ll be healed up enough in a week and a half that I can stand up and hit pedals without too much trouble.

2. Get medicated. Painkillers may give me an, um, unexpected perspective of my instrument. Not my favorite option.

3. Get a chair. As much as I don’t like the thought of siting while playing a ‘dude gig, I think this might be the best choice. So much for my desire to look more rocking than, say Robert Fripp.

4. Get out. I’m hoping that ten days or so will be enough to let me get at least basically functional again. This Saturday’s Skinny Moo gig will probably need to be cancelled, but I hope another week of mending will keep me from having to cancel a show that we’ve wanted to play for a couple years.

This should be interesting.