strumzilla

‚ÄčA blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Roland

Updates, mostly gearish...

The holidays have come and gone. Things at work have been fairly steady, although a certain unnamed individual's attempt to portray himself as a visionary may have backfired on him. Time will tell. Not a lot new to report on the home front. Aeyong and I struck a deal that means she will go to Korea next year with a bigger expense account as well as helping pay for knee surgery for her mother. We would have done that anyway, but she usually tries to only spend money on the traveling costs and tries to just spend time with family. That is probably what she'll end up doing anyway, but I told her to shop if she wants to. Knowing her, she'll spend money on her family if she spends any. 

I, on the other hand, have chosen a decidedly less altruistic path. I'm going to finally get the biggest (in sheer size and cost) item that I've had on my gear wish list for the past five years or so. Drum roll, please. No pun intended. Still scratching the noggin?

It's drums, I'm getting drums. My ultimate musical goal is writing and recording music for myself. If others ever get any enjoyment from it, great. But ultimately, I undertake this process for my own personal fulfillment alone.  I've always aspired to write the music that has most inspired me, and that generally has been heavily weighted towards bands with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards.  Of those, keys probably open up the sonic landscape the most by virtue of synths and samplers, and If I want to go orchestral or soundtrackish, that's where the keys and synths come in.  That being said, I've always wanted to have a good handle on what I consider the four dominant instruments in popular music. 

I've wanted to learn drums so I could facilitate writing (regardless of the fact you can program drums to sound real or not), so I could improve my sense of rhythm, and just because I love the instrument and I've truly always loved the drummers in my favorite bands. If I were to make a top ten list (the creation of which I generally try to avoid) for guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, and drummers, a healthy chunk of the roster would come from Yes, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, The Police, and a few others. Of those just mentioned, Bonzo, Bruford, the Professor, and Stewart Copeland are held in my highest regard. Sorry Nick, I love you and wouldn't exchange you for another, but you're not in the same category as those mentioned.  

There are many others, especially in Jazz - the various PMG alumni (Antonio Sanchez, Paul Wertico, Danny Gottlieb), Jack Dejohnette, Steve Gadd, Billy Higgins, Peter Erskine, etc.  There are too many to count actually. Despite the august nature of those mentioned, I'm sure to avail myself of some less steep summits before commencing skyward.  Zeppelin will probably be a starting point, although it will take years to get to a level at which I won't be embarrassed, much less master the beats o' Bonzo. As with bass, guitar, and keys, I'll definitely put a few "unattainable in the near future" tunes in my practice list. One of my long term goals is to be able to perform and record all parts to certain tunes. While they're not as common, there are a few videos of people performing all the parts to songs out there on YouTube and the like (YYZ comes to mind).  

After negotiating with Aeyong, I talked her into letting me get what I consider the best electronic drums on the market, Roland's TD-30KV-Pro series.

http://www.roland.com/products/en/TD-30KV/

 I'm getting electronic drums for multiple reasons. One, they're relatively quiet compared to acoustic drums, and two, they're very powerful and flexible when it comes to sounds and recording. Not to mention all the percussion and drum samples I have on my computers that I can now trigger with these drums. And I anticipate being able to use these indefinitely without feeling the need to upgrade.  I didn't want to wait any longer since I'm not getting any younger, and I will need several years to really start honing my ability to a level I can use in recording.  

Updated Gear List and future planning

Guitars
Gibson Les Paul Custom Black
Suhr Modern Black Cherry
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Tobacco Sunburst
James Tyler Variax Tobacco Sunburst
Maton EBG808 Acoustic
Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass Tobacco Sunburst
Yamaha Classical

Keyboards
Roland RD700GX Digital Piano
M-Audio Oxygen 25 Midi Controller/Keyboard

Preamp/Processors
Fractal Audio Axe Fx II
Fractal Audio MFC 101 Floor Controller (Mission Engineering EP-1 Expression Pedals (2))
Fishman Aura Spectrum DI/Acoustic Guitar Preamp/Modeler
TC Helicon Voiceworks Plus

Mixing/Signal routing
Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer
Line 6 Relay G50 Wireless

Amplification/Sound Reproduction
Matrix Amplification GT1000FX SS Amplifier
JBL EON 515 (2)
Atomic Amplification Reactor Powered Wedge
Mesa Stiletto 4x12 Cabinet
Roland AC-33 Acoustic Amp
M-Audio BX5A Studio Monitors (2)

Computer Hardware/Software
Apple iMac desktop (primary DAW)
Apple Macbook Pro (secondary - used with roland setup)
Apple Logic Studio
Native Instruments Komplete 7

Miscellaneous
Blue Chip picks (regular & thumb)
Slick Pick Thumbpicks
Elixir acoustic strings
D'Addario electric strings
Lava Cables
NYC Pedalboard

Future plans - I've essentially decided (see below) to get rid of the Mesa 4x12 and replace it with a larger FRFR solution. Basically the large venue version of the Atomic Wedge. I want to have a unified and compact(ish) solution for my guitar rig. That will mean a 6u or 8u rack case to put the AxeFx, Matrix GT1000, and whatever else I deem necessary, the pedalboard case with the MFC and pedals, and the speaker cab which will be the Atomic Wedge (1x12 equiv) for smaller venues, or the Jet City 700DP (essentially a 2x12 but full range and essentially taking the place of a 4x12 in sound capability). I'm getting a nicer multi-guitar rack for my home studio and I'm also considering whether I want a portable case rack for gigging. A lot of this is very tentative planning based on the supposition that I will be gigging at some point in the future. If I need the ultimately small gig setup, I can go with one guitar (probably the Suhr if I need just one), and just the Axe provided I have a FOH/PA at the site of the gig. This would leave out the pedalboard, so I'm not sure if that's doable or will even be necessary in the long run.
Future Gear: Jet City 700DP, 6u/8u rack case, PRS Angelus Custom, Roland E Drums, nicer monitors.

New Gear Updates

Since the last gear update (L6 Variax, if I recall) I've added a few new pieces. I bought a new acoustic amp (Roland AC33) that I was planning to use during my first gig since we thought we would be playing outside and I needed something that could run on batteries. After attempting to play guitar during an August afternoon in Texas I prevailed on my mother to have the service indoors. Along with the amp I bought a preamp/IR modeler from Fishman called the Aura Spectrum. It's basic function is to recreate the sonic characteristics of various acoustic guitars and it also functions as a preamp, providing volume, tone, and compression controls. It has actually done wonders for the straight piezo sound by warming it up and adding a fullness to the tone that I couldn't previously create even with the AxeFx (it's probably possible, but would need a lot more tweakage).

The Roland is a good little amp, although in a small room it definitely as some mid/low feedback problems. Both the Roland and Fishman have feedback defeat circuits and even using these combined with a soundhole cover on my Maton weren't enough to eliminate the feedback entirely. I think this would be a non issue in bigger or more absorptive rooms, but I decided not to chance it and just played straight acoustic during the gig.

Not too long after that I saw Pete Thorn demoing the Matrix amps GT1000 and GT800 models. These are solid state flat response power amps designed to be used with the Axe Fx and other high quality modelers. Pete is the ultimate gear demo man since he's well spoken, concise, has chops for days, and always picks little song excerpts and licks that you would see yourself playing. Whenever he demos a product I always see the "What if" scenario played out to the fullest. So that means I usually end up buying the gear he demos if it's something I was considering. (I don't buy everything I see him demo, I would be broke if that were the case). The main motivation for getting this amp was that I still have a Mesa 4x12 cabinet that I custom ordered from Sweetwater at the same time I had purchased a Mesa Mark V. As luck would have it, I also got the AxeFx at the same time and quickly realized I had no need for a separate amp head. I was able to return the Amp head, but the cabinet was a custom order and couldn't be sent back.

I had been toying with the idea of selling the cab on Ebay for several months but I decided I really wanted to get the Axe setup like a regular rig. So far I've been pretty happy with it. I don't know yet if the Mesa Stiletto is the long term cab for me or not, but I like having the isolated guitar sound coming from one amp and believe me, this thing can get LOUD. I have only turned the volume on the Matrix to about 20% of it's range and it's already pushing the "pissing off the neighbors" range. It should be plenty for a band, even with a loud drummer.