Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Art Of Live Looping - Part 1: Introduction

I've been playing around with looper pedals for few years and during that time my perception of loopers and live looping in general has changed. First I thought that loopers were tools for practicing and jamming. Then after awhile I started to understand that live looping could be much more than just jamming and loopers could be used to create complete live performances. Like everything in life, things only look simple on the surface level and when you go deeper into the subject it gets more complicated. Live looping is an art form that requires serious practicing if you want to get it right.

I'm not an expert in live looping and nowhere near the level of some players out there (Phil Keaggy, Bill Frisell, Jarle Bernhoft etc.) but during the last few years I have learned a thing or two about looping and I would like to share them with you. Another reason for this little article series is completely selfish: writing things down is a good way to process ideas and sort them out in your own head. So, this is a learning process for me too! :) Let's get started!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Machine Soul - Documentary Film

"Machine Soul is a documentary film about Finnish Electronic musicians. It is a glance at the methods, rituals and philosophy behind the music, but most of all at the burning passion that drives the artists forward year after year."

This documentary film by Tero Vuorinen is definitely worth backing up! Go to Machine Soul crowdfunding site and give your support:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

On my workbench: too many projects and not enough time

I've been working on a lot of new stuff during the last few weeks. I'm going to make a small batch of effects for sale in 2015 and I have spent quite some time learning Cadsoft Eagle.

My first design was a simple Klon Centaur buffer. I just wanted to practice Eagle and see how the whole process with OSH Park works. I know, it's a simple circuit. But I'm pretty proud with this one. :)

I have also recorded some new tunes and I got a small release coming up pretty soon. Stay tuned and keep on playing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interesting Finnish ambient music: Ikola - Closer/Drowning

Here's some really good ambient music by Hannu Ikola. I highly recommend that you check his work out..  this one is also available on cassette! :) Check it out:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

On my workbench: pedalboard wiring...

I started to wire up my pedalboard this weekend and so far it's looking really good. I'm using a programmable bypass looper (Joyo/Wave-X PXL-8) and there's actually quite a bit of wiring required... But I did a quick test run and the flexibility of the new rig is well worth the trouble!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mini DIY A/B box

I'm currently developing my live looping set to something a bit more complex and I needed a compact A/B box to switch between two instruments. This is what I came up with! I used a 1590A sized enclosure and a dual color indicator LED.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Strymon Mobius Quadrature Presets

Yesterday I saw an interesting topic on TGP about the Quadrature machine on Strymon Mobius. V had discovered that you can get some pretty useful sounds by using the envelope waveshape with low shift settings. I have used the Quadrature in AM mode for a cool envelope tremolo sound before, but V pointed out that you can get some nice attack-dependent pitch shifting effects with FM, F+ and F- modes. So, I did some quick experimenting and it really works very well! The point is that the envelope waveshape makes the effect react to your picking dynamics: pitch shifting kicks in only when you pick harder etc.

You can use these few presets as a starting point. Just let me know if you come up with something interesting! Like I said in my review: "... mostly it (Quadrature) sounds like a drunken alien, but sometimes you hit a sweep spot and get something really special." :)

"FM Pitchpirate" is a vibrato preset that sounds especially good with harmonics. You can lower the shift setting to make it more subtle. Experimenting with different pickup combinations is also recommended since the envelope seems to be more sensitive to lower frequencies. Need some chorus sounds? No problem, just lower the mix a bit.

"Tremvelope" is the exact setting I used on this video. It's named "AM Ring" on the video, but like the new name implies it's an envelope tremolo sound.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

DIY Tips & Tricks: small DC jacks FTW!

I bought these compact DC jacks (on the right!) from ebay and they are so much easier to use than the clumsy regular ones. Small, durable and cheap = highly recommended! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hiking trip to Oulanka National Park & Riisitunturi National Park

Last weekend I did a little hiking trip to Oulanka and Riisitunturi with my wife and few friends. It was an amazing trip.. I just love autumn and finnish nature!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Joyo/Wave-X PXL-8 Quick Review

Joyo PXL8 is a programmable eight channel true bypass looper with 8 memory banks and 4 presets (A,B,C,D) per bank. It allows you to save different presets (pedal combinations) and easily switch between them. My unit is branded "Wave-X" but it's in fact exactly the same unit as the Joyo PXL8.

I paid 99€ for this one and I feel that it was a real bargain. Eight loops is more than enough for me, the overall build quality is good and the PXL8 seems sturdy enough for live use.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

On my workbench: a DIY Arcade Button Midi Controller

Here's a project that started years ago... I never got the code together and I wasn't sure with the design either, so this project never got anywhere. But now I got a nice compact enclosure for it and I even got the code workin!

MIDI Elements library by Tomash is pretty amazing and even a beginner like me could make it work. Updates coming soon! BTW. I'm using a Teensy ++2.0 microcontroller.

** Update 08.09.2014 **

I spray painted the enclosure yesterday and it came out really well. Now I'll have to let it dry for few days and then paint it one more time. I will make a full article about this project as soon as I get the controller done. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strymon Mobius review and sound demo

It seems to me that during the first decade of the 21th century the digital guitar effect development has been mainly focusing on modeling technology and digital guitar effects are usually developed to emulate some specific analog effects. Only few manufacturers have pushed the boundaries beyond this point and used digital technology in more creative way to produced something totally new.

This line of development is of course mainly dictated by consumers and in general guitarists are probably pretty conservative when it comes to guitar gear and sounds. But luckily for us some companies, like Strymon, know how to go beyond emulating old vintage gear. Well, don't get me wrong here. Mobius can produce excellent emulations of sought after vintage pedals but most importantly it can also produce vast array of new interesting sounds.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Juri - Mulj EP

Here's a compilation of my old sketches and other strange recordings from 2006-2010. I had a massive hard drive backup error few months ago and all of my old recordings vanished. Luckily my mate Saine (who's an amazing artist..) had archived my old demos and sketches during the years and he kindly compiled and mastered this little EP for us. So, thanks a lot mate!

"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live"
 -Lin Yutang

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Live looping sketch #7 - "The Möbius Strip" (Ambient Guitar Looping - Strymon Mobius & Pigtronix Infinity Looper)

I was trying out my brand new Strymon Mobius and recoded this little live jam. Tubes on my amp were just about to die so there's plenty of strange noises and hiss coming from the amp...  But I actually like it! :) I also used my modded Harley Benton SG on this track and it's a pretty nice sounding guitar.

Direct link to Youtube:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fender Super Champ XD tube swap (Tung-Sol 6V6GT and 12AX7)

I've been running my Fender Super Champ XD with the stock tubes for way too long. The stock tubes were just about to die and generated a lot of noise and hiss. Last week I also started to get some strange volume drop issues.

So, I got some new Tung-Sol tubes (2 x 6V6GT, 1 x 12AX7) yesterday and installed them today. An instant upgrade! Now the amp sounds a bit more brighter and there is more clarity and clean headroom. There's also less noise and hiss. Money well spent!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Pedal Day: Strymon Mobius

I've been looking for a good versatile modulation effect for quite some time and finally the search is over! Strymon Mobius was my number one choice from the start and I ordered it last sunday. The pedal arrived yesterday and oh boy, it's just an amazing piece of gear! :) I'm posting an in-depth review in few weeks!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DIY Tips & Tricks: How to remove Tune-O-Matic bushings

Here's a super easy and fast method for removing Tune-O-Matic bridge and tail piece bushings. I didn't invent this clever trick, but since it works so well... here's my quick 3-step no-bullsh*t tutorial explaining the idea:

Direct link to Youtube:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Harley Benton S-580 WR Mod - Part 1: Fixing the low neck angle

Like I mentioned in my original review (check out parts 1, 2 and 3) the low neck angle was pretty much making this guitar unplayable. I tried adjusting the truss rod and it helped to some extent, but not enough. Settings that made the string action somewhat decent caused some nasty string buzz on the first five frets and that is not acceptable. It was time to do some serious modding!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Best DIY Guitar Effect Resources

I've been following the DIY pedal scene for the past six years or so. During that time the amount of different guitar effect related websites has skyrocketed and filtering out useful information has become a pretty daunting task. Here's a little collection of websites that I have found especially useful.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tapehead Vintage Delay (1776 Effects Multiplex Echo Machine)

Josh from 1776 Effects designed this über-cool delay circuit that emulates three vintage tape delay units: Binson Echorec, Roland RE-201 Space Echo and Echoplex EP-3. The design is based around popular PT2399 delay chip that is cheap and easy to obtain. It's a lofi digital delay chip that produces plenty of hiss and dirt, but combined with a right kind of filtering it can produce pretty convincing tape delay sounds.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DIY Tips & Tricks: how to use a jewel light in your guitar pedal project II

Here's an updated method for attaching a 5mm LED bezel to a jewel light case. In my older post (check here!) I suggested using glue to secure the bezel, but that is just overkill. Heat-shrink tubing works way better. It's more faster and easier to use than glue and secures the bezel tightly enough.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are you using the best guitar pick possible?

Few years back I made an interesting observation: I had never during the years questioned my pick choice at all. I used the same pick model for over 10 years without really knowing why I chose it in the first place. Of course I'm not saying that it's a bad thing in general to use the same pick model for years. But in my case the problem was that I chose that particular pick model when I was a total beginner. So my initial decicion was probably based on one main feature: size. I just needed something big enough to hold comfortably while learning to pick.

But if people can outgrow their first guitars and amps, why couldn't they outgrow their guitar picks too?

So after a decade of playing with the same pick model I started to try out different models and almost immediately noticed a difference in my playing. One important aspect of playing for me is picking dynamics and I feel that switching to a smaller pick especially helped me to develop on that area. A smaller pick just feels better and gives me better control over the dynamics and tone.

Is there a lesson here to be learned? Well, I think we can boil this one down to one simple sentence: make a conscious pick choice.

Friday, January 17, 2014

On my workbench: some unfinished projects that I will complete very very soon!

I'm kickstarting the new year with something old and something new! Few of these projects have been collecting dust for quite some time and for some reason I just never got around to finish them. Now it's a good time to get these projects (.. and couple of new ones) done!

1776 Effects Multiplex Echo Machine

"Tapehead" - 1776 Effects Multiplex Echo Machine

The Multiplex Echo Machine (check out 1776 Effect for more info!) is a PT3299 based delay that emulates three different tape delay units from the past: Binson Echorec, RE-201 Space Echo and Echoplex EP-3. I just ordered few missing parts and I'm really looking forward to finish this one.. I've seen few demos on Youtube and it sounds phenomenal!

Madbean LaVache

"Tweed Royal" - Madbean LaVache (Lovepedal Les Lius Clone)

This one is as simple as it gets and it's oozing some serious mojo! It's a super simple modified Electra Distortion -circuit and since the part count is really low, I decided to used some cool mojo parts for it. Big fat Orange Drop -caps and sweet carbon composition resistors. Itchy, tasty!

Klon Centaur Clone

"Untitled" - Klon Centaur clone

I've never really paid any attention to this mythical overdrive circuit or the ridiculous hype around it and I didn't actually know much about it at all. But recently Electro-Harmonix came out with their own affordable take (Soul Food) on this effect and I must say that it does sound pretty damn good!

The Klone Centaur is an overdrive circuit that really shines on lower gain settings and because of this it could be perfect for my rig.. I ordered few nice Klone PCB's from Poodle's Pedal Parts Emporium and soon I will have some serious Klon-magic on my pedalboard. I'm making two of these. So, if anyone needs a hand made Klon Klone on good price, just let me know!

"Lysergic Acid Fuzz" - 1776 Effects Five O'Clock Fuzz

I have done some research about the history of fuzz circuits at university and I've been wanting to build a modded Fuzz Face clone for months. I decided to use 1776 Effects Five O'Clock Fuzz PCB for this build. It's a slightly modified Fuzz Face circuit with an onboard polarity conversion and a treble bleed mod that supposedly helps with high frequency loss on lower gain settings.

I'm aiming for a low gain fuzz sound and I have some cool old Soviet germanium transistors (GT108V, GT308B and 1T308V) that should be perfect for this project. I just have to socket them and try out different combinations. I'm also adding an input trim control (like on Analog Man Sun Face) to get some additional control over the amount of distortion.

So, I have a lot of interesting DIY stuff coming up. I will make more detailed build reports with sound demos when I get these projects finalized and boxed up. Stay tuned!