The Lab

Welcome to the Lab! This is a place where I post about some of my quasi-academic explorations into music and gear.
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Music Lesson - Improv Interval Training - Part II

Now that we are comfortable finding and keeping our place in an 8 measure chord progression, the next step is to vary the lengths of our rhythm/lead intervals.  In Part II of this exercise, we are going to start with playing 8 measures of rhythm.  In the next repetition of 8 measures we are going to play rhythm in the first 7 measures and the last measure will be improv.  The next 8 measures will be 6 measures of rhythm followed by 2 measures of solo.  The pattern continues all the way to all 8 measures of…

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130 5601

Music Lesson - Improv Interval Training - Part I

If you are anything like me, you may have a tendency to noodle around when playing improvised guitar solos.  By “noodle around,” I mean playing lines that seemingly have no beginning and no ending.  On the surface this sounds epically awesome and biblical, but in practice, solos composed of lines that noodle and meander around without intention or resolution are boring and monotonous to listen to.  It would be a little bit like meeting someone at a party and then listening to them tell a story where all…

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A Battery of Tests : Part II - Tubescreamer

This is an addenedum to my last experiment, A Battery of Tests Part I, where I tested different battery types in a Fuzz Face pedal.  Click here to see that experiment.

Just for giggles, I decided to run the same experiment again, this time with my all-time favorite dirt box, the Fulltone Fulldrive 2.  The Fulldrive is esentially an Ibanez Tube Screamer (TS9) with some very useful mods.  The Tube Screamer circuit is more complex and significantly different from the extremely simple Fuzz Face circuit.…Read more
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A Battery of Tests : Part I - Fuzz Face

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I like to build guitar effects pedals.  Maybe 'like' is a strong word.  I'm not really sure what the word is for the emotional space between not finding exaclty what you are looking for, and being too poor/cheap to buy it even if you could.  That's how I ended up building some of my own guitar fx pedals.  In the end, I'm not really sure I'm saving myself any money, but when they actually light up after hours (and sometimes hours and hours and hours) of work, it's a…Read more
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Music Lesson - Make Your Own Free iPod Ear Trainer - Part II : Chordal Ear Training

So here is a continuation of the single-note ear training exercise that I previously posted. 

This time, instead of testing our ability to (relatively) identify a single note, we are trying to identify chords.

Just like in the other version, the exercise is made up of a bunch (57 to be exact) of short mp3 audio files. Each example features a II- V I on a piano, and then a mystery chord. After a few seconds pause, you can hear my goofy voice announcing what the mystery chord was. The idea is that you would…Read more
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Music Lesson - Make Your Own Free iPod Ear Trainer! (not the iPod'd have to buy that)

A few years ago I was reading an interview with someone famous who had studied with the late Charlie Banacos.  He was a very well known jazz educator who taught both from his own studio in Massachusetts, and also as a faculty member at NEC and other wicked presitgious places.  Anyway, this person was describing an ear training excercise that Charlie was having him/her practice as part of their lessons.  Basically (so far as I remember) the exercise was this; the student was to play a ii-V-I cadence (Dm7 G7…Read more
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Testing Different IC's in a Rat Distortion Pedal

I do love the Rat pedal.  I don't actually own an "official" one, but rather a clone made from a ready-to-solder circuit board from General Guitar Gadgets.  I tend to switch it on and off my board every so often, and from time to time I dream of making my Rat clone even more awesome.  Recently, in that spirit, I was looking at Jack Orman's wonderfully informative  page about his moded version of the Rat called the Fat Gnat.  He mentions that there are some alternatives available for IC selection.  This…Read more
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Testing Different IC's in a Tube Screamer

For a long time I've been wondering what effect, if any, the IC has on a simple overdrive pedal like the Tube Screamer.  I decided to wire an IC socket into my TS clone so that I could easily swap them in and out.  I recorded a loop into my Boss RC-2 so that I could keep everything but the IC swaps consistent.  I tested out 7 different IC's, and I think that list includes mostly all of the IC's that are usually deployed in basic guitar effects.  

What do you think, can you hear a difference?   

Signal Chain =…Read more
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Comparison of Different Cables - Part II

So here is my second attempt at descerning the effect of instrument cables on guitar tone. I received some feedback on my first experiment that my experiment may have been compromised by placing the test cable after the looper.  Apparently, the buffer in the looper might neutralize any inherent difference in the cables by changing the standard guitar/amp impedance.  I needed to think of a way that I could conduct the experiment again with just guitar --> cable --> amp.  Since I'm no longer using the looper…Read more
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Comparison of Different Cables - Part I

Among internet gear enthusiasts, a topic that is often hotly debated is whether or not there is any appreciable difference between cables (often times of greatly different costs).  I decided to go looking around to see if I could find any audio clips online of cable comparisons, and I was mildly surprised that I couldn't find anything.

So I figured I'd give it a shot. Here's my experiment.

The signal path was Strat -> George L Cable -> Boss RC2 Looper -> Cable A/B/C/D -> Deluxe Reverb Amp -> LD Condenser -&gt…Read more