Thursday, December 30, 2010

Breakdown of the FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

Net neutrality is a concept that's very hard to make tangible for everyone, but it's important to you if you use the net. The FCC recently made an important ruling, and here's DVICE's breakdown:

In part:

The Good

Network management and packet discrimination must be reasonable

The FCC is trying to prevent companies from being able to pay more to have an Internet service provider (ISP) treat its data better than everyone else's. We're not talking about charging you and me for a faster connection (which is fine), we're talking about giving different types of data prioritization across the network, which would make things suck for everyone who didn't pay for that service. This is now a no-no.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now for something completely different - Archaeology

One of my hobbies outside the realm of music is history. That's actually what my first degree is in. My dream job would be something where I could spend all day going through dusty old books or researching on the internet.
So stuff like this really jazzes me.

Archaeology Magazine's Top Ten Discoveries of 2010.

These are all so cool, I can't even pick a favourite.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

And back to the Van Halen Rumours...

From the Van Halen News Desk, aka the VHND, some more rumours about what, if anything, the lads in Van Halen have been up to or may soon be up to:

Sources tell the Van Halen News Desk that the band is very eager to tour, and that they want to tour behind new material. Eddie Van Halen has been very busy during most of 2010 writing music. Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen often join Eddie in the 5150 studio and the three of them have been hard at work jamming and recording demos. The three Van Halens have been sending the music to David Lee Roth, who’s adding the lyrics. Two of our sources have heard some of the early versions of the tracks (without vocals) and were very pleased. The music is said to sound like straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll and “very Van Halen.”

Read the rest here:

As usual, I remain skeptical. My biggest worry at this point is not whether VH will put out any more material or whether they will tour. My biggest worry is whether anyone will care either way. Have VH simply waited themselves into irrelevance?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New Toad the Wet Sprocket Song

Just in time for Christmas, one of my all-time favourite bands, Toad the Wet Sprocket, have released a new song.
It's called "It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas", and you can listen or download it here:

Recorded some Christmas Songs

A rare bit of studio activity to post. Had some really nice ladies in on November 27th to record some Christmas-y songs on piano and vocals. I had just gotten the Yamaha C7's tuning touched up the week before, so it was sounding great. First time recording it in the new room, and it sounded beautiful.

We did five songs in total - three with vocals and two just piano. I used the Neumann U87 for the vocals, and started out with a pair of Audio Technica AT3035's for the piano, but ended up switching to the Oktava MC-012's before we got going. They just seemed to be capturing the detail of the piano better.

Preamp for the U87 was my trusty Great River MP-2NV, and an ART TPS-II for the piano. The Great River is very precise sounding and a good match with the Neumann, while the ART is good for putting a little softer edge on the piano.

I didn't have anything else in the signal chain going in - just mics > preamps > Pro Tools. On the mixdown, I did add a little bright plate reverb to the vocals, but I left the piano pretty much alone, save for flipping the phase on one of the piano tracks.

The U87/MP-2NV pairing is my go-to for vocal tracking. The combination gives some really nice, crisp sounding vocals that are just so easy to fit into the mix. I've never once had a problem using that setup getting the vocal to sit right where I want it and still cut right through. I also can't say enough good things about Fletcher from Mercenary Audio, from whence I got both the Neumann and the Great River. He was great listening to what I was trying to do and giving me a recommendation that worked great for me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Van Halen "News"?


As always, I wait, and remain sceptical, but hopeful. Interesting that Eddie may be playing most or all of the bass on the album, though there were rumours that he had done the same on some of VH's previous releases.
Sounds like things remain tense between Eddie and Dave Roth.
Hopefully they can hold it together long enough to get the album out and tour.

Let's great straight to it - it's been quiet in the Van Halen camp since a wave of expectation and excitement broke following news leaks a few months back regarding a possible new album and tour for 2011.
The Tour: The band will tour extensively in 2011, taking in North America, likely European dates and even some Australian dates, which local newspaper the Herald Sun stated Sunday - [VH] "...are very close to confirming an Oz visit next year..."
The line-up will remain as it was for the 2007 tour - Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and David Lee Roth.

The New Album: Numerous reports about new music coming from the band are true. There is new music recorded with the expectation of an all-new studio album featuring David Lee Roth to be released in 2011. What is not known right now is the time frame for this.
Here is what I was told. It seems DLR's vocals are being recorded away from the 5150 studio, with Eddie receiving various vocal tracks from the singer, but not always to the guitarist's satisfaction. I'm told that it's work in progress between Eddie and Dave.
I also heard, but cannot confirm, that Eddie has recorded most of the bass parts for the album.

There is a deal in place between Warner Bros. and the band for a new album (as announced a few months back). However, I'm told there is a genuine fear from the label that the album may now not be ready before tour commitments begin. The album was definitely expected to be released in early 2011, but there has been so much going back and forth and re-arranging, so if the recordings are not turned in by early 2011, the label have developed a contingency plan.
That is preparing re-masters of the Sammy Hagar era catalogue (curious decision perhaps, but the only albums left to do), as well as preparing Blue-Ray releases of Live Without a Net and Live Right Here Right Now so at least there is something on the market when the band tours.
Additionally they are preparing limited edition Vinyl releases, which have just appeared on the Rhino/Warner schedule. 1984, Women And Children First and Van Halen II will be released on LP December 13.

And to close - the band apparently tested a few different producers, but the man at the helm for this album is one Ross Hogarth. Go look him up. His website makes no mention of any work with Van Halen, but in July he did make one reference to a new record he was starting. He stated: "The record I just started ROCKS!!! [it] will be amazing...that is all I will say..."

Stay tuned as always...more soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Michae Anthony talks about why he's not in VH

Nothing really new here or that we didn't know, but a very frank telling of why he's no longer Van Halen's bass player, from Blabbermouth.

Anthony explained, "Some VAN HALEN fans say I left the band to hook up with Sammy, but I never said, 'I quit.' There was nothing going on in the VAN HALEN camp, but Eddie kinda backed me up against a wall. . . Eddie felt that I was a traitor.

He went on to say, "The major reason why I'm not in VAN HALEN (now) is because I became friends with Sammy again. The Van Halen brothers never got over that. If they hold a grudge, they hold it forever."

Well, not forever maybe, but they can definitely hold a grudge for a long time.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Van Halen to Tour in 2011?

So says Irving Azoff, who owns or manages the entire music industry. Of course, Van Halen's official site says nothing, but it's not exactly known for breaking news.
Here's what the Rolling Stone article says, in part:

Van Halen will return to the road in 2011 — or so said Live Nation Ticketmaster chairman Irving Azoff, in a meeting with analysts meant to show that the outlook for next year's concert circuit will brighten. Van Halen, with David Lee Roth, last toured together in June 2008. According to USA Today , Azoff, who is also Van Halen's manager, named Van Halen, Christina Aguilera, Fleetwood Mac and the cast of Glee as some of the artists that are expected to pack stadium and arenas when they embark on tours next year. Van Halen's 2008 tour grossed $93 million for Live Nation.

We'll see. And if they are going to tour again, does that mean new music could be on the way? Finally? Please??

Friday, September 17, 2010

Four Chords is All You Need

I think everyone who's ever really studied pop music kind of know this, but this is pretty cool anyway.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marshall USA?

I'm not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or neither, but Marshall is apparently splitting off its US operations:

Marshall Amplification announced today the formation of Marshall USA. This new business unit will begin operation on October 1st, and shipments to dealers will begin October 18th. Jon Ellery, Marshall UK Co-managing Director announced that Marc Lee Shannon will assume the position of VP Sales for Marshall USA on October 1st. Marc Lee is a long term industry veteran, who spent the last 17 years heading sales with Audio Technica. Jon Ellery also announced that Ryan Rhodes has been named the Brand Director for Marshall USA and will lead the product direction and work closely with Marshall UK to insure a coordinated worldwide effort. Ryan is very familiar with the Marshall heritage, having worked in past Marshall distribution in the US for 15 years. More Marshall dedicated management will be added shortly, with announcements to follow.

The rest is here:

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Re-mixing China Grove

I've always thought it would be cool to have the chance to re-mix a classic recording. Not that I think I could necessarily do better (though sometimes...), but it would be cool just to be able to hear the tracks in their raw form.

Chris Baseford gets to do just that, re-mixing them for an iPhone app called Jammit.

Here's his take on "China Grove", one of the Doobie Brothers' most famous tracks, originally engineered and produced by Ted Templeman and Donn Landee, one of my favorite production teams of the 70's.

This bit here pretty much spells out my whole philosophy when it comes to recording - get the sound at the source, rather than trying to "fix it in the mix".

I wasn’t all that surprised to see (and hear) everything laid-out and organized nicely, and immediately sounding familiar with the faders at zero and without EQ or effects.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Triple Decker Record?

If you thought there was nothing new going on in the world of vinyl records, behold the Triple Decker Record - a 12" with a 7" inside! From those clever folks at United Record Pressing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A classical voice teacher rates classic metal singers

Hasn't been much going on recently, but I thought this was interesting. Claudia Friedlander, a NYC based voice teacher, rates classic metal singers including Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio.

Interesting piece that basically confirms what I already knew - Bruce and Rob Halford (among others) can sing! I could have told you that after seeing Priest and Maiden on tour together in '82.

Friday, August 06, 2010

New Van Halen Album in 2011?

As usual, I preface this with my normal "believe it when I see it disclaimer", but this snippet from quotes Warner/Chappell as saying that Van Halen is working on a new album with David Lee Roth, due out in 2011.

Warner/Chappell Music has extended its administration agreements with two original members of the legendary rock band VAN HALEN, Eddie and Alex Van Halen. Under the agreement, Warner/Chappell will continue to administer their catalog of works...
Most recently, the band toured with founding brothers, Eddie and Alex Van Halen, its original lead singer, David Lee Roth, and Eddie's son, Wolfgang, playing bass. The group is currently in the studio recording an album with Roth that is due for release in 2011.

As I said, time will tell. I'll buy it if they put it out. I'd like to see the band live one more time with Roth, too. I missed the 2008 tour, so the last time I saw Van Halen with David Lee Roth was 1984. Now, if they could just get Mike Anthony back...

The History of the Music Industry - 1960's to Present

Bob Lefsetz has an interesting short history of the music industry - including its recent floundering - over on the Encore site. It explains pretty nicely the changes over the last 45 years or so, including the phase we're in now, which I argue is a return to the "single driven" market that existed before groups like the Beatles ushered in the age of the album. He also tells it like it is with regard to the industry's failure to adapt and realize that their "goldrush" of the 70's and 80's was over. If the IT market had been similarly inflexible, I wouldn't be typing this now.

Read the article here:

Here's a nice little snippet:


The major labels bitched themselves into irrelevancy. They own radio and TV, which is like owning the "Perry Como Show" when everybody's tuned into FM. And since the "Como Show"'s ratings are declining, they make everybody who appears sign a contract coughing up a percentage of all their revenue. It's unfair. And who wants to watch the "Como Show" anyway?

Yep, that pretty much says it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Could Music Videos Be Coming to MTV Once Again?

First, Beavis and Butt-head return to MTV. What's next, videos?

They're back!
Heh heh, it's 1995 all over again, dude


'Beavis and Butt-head" -- the show that celebrated the slacker way of life and helped make MTV into a network that did more than just play music videos -- is coming back.

The move to resurrect the hugely popular 1990s animated anti-heroes has been rumored for several days. But yesterday, sources at MTV confirmed that a new batch of "Beavis and Butt-head" episodes are in the works.

It would certainly be ironic, since the success of shows like Beavis and Butt-head is what steered MTV away from videos and into "other" programming to start with.

Rik Emmett says Van Halen is Booking a Tour?

Sure, sure. I'll hold my breath:

According to Rik Emmett in an interview with Gibson Lifestyle:

We’re scheduled to go for a dinner tonight with a couple of guys from Live Nation that have flown into town and want to take us to dinner. I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of a pitch. The rumors that have been sort of blowing in the wind are that Van Halen want to go back out yet again next year, but they’re going to need some sort of support to make the packaging a little more interesting. Because Triumph hasn’t really ever toured in any kind of a nostalgia way, I think Live Nation kind of goes, “Oh, yeah, you guys would be perfect for that.” So, we’ll see sort of the size and the shape and the glitter of the golden carrots that they have.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Rumors About New Van Halen Album Just That - Rumors

Well, I did say I'd believe it when I saw it, and Rolling Stone quotes the recently minted Mrs. Eddie Van Halen, who also happens to be Eddie's spokesperson, as saying that to her knowledge, nothing is going on.

The web was abuzz with rumors that Van Halen had completed a new album — the first with David Lee Roth back as lead singer — over July Fourth weekend, with a "source" even telling that a first single is due at the end of the year. The report also claimed that the new album, the classic Van Halen lineup's first since 1984, was nearly halfway complete and that it would be released in the first half of 2011. However, Eddie Van Halen's wife and spokesperson Janie Van Halen has denied the report to Rolling Stone. "What is going around is exactly that, rumors. I don't have any updates at this time," Janie Van Halen said.


So, I continue to wait and hope...

And wait, and hope...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Van Halen - "Light at the end of the tunnel"?

Posted today at

It's been a while since I reached out to one of my best sources of Van
Halen info over the years, but it had to be done. And I got the
information I was hoping for - independent confirmation from a long
time source I trust that Van Halen are indeed working towards finishing
recording of a long awaited new studio album with David Lee Roth, set
for release sometime in the first half of 2011. A single is slated for
release before the end of this year, but exact timing still remains
very much up in the air. I'm told the relationship between Eddie and
Dave remains as complex as ever, but there is a definite desire to get
a new record completed.

We've heard similar before, so I remain skeptical. Still, fingers crossed. If nothing else, Eddie might be interested in touring to drum up interest in his guitar gear line.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some of WOXY Survives

No, not the station, unfortunately. is still off the air, maybe for good. But one of the things that made WOXY so valuable to me and countless others was all the great new music it brought to our attention.
To that end, here's a little ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak situation. Mike Taylor, the Program Director of and a DJ from WOXY's FM days going way back now has his own blog. Check it out:

He's hit the ground running already with some great new music recommendations. So, even if we can't hear the best new music on WOXY right now, at least we've still got Mike pointing us in the right direction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Will Major Labels be Extinct by Year's End?

That's what Radiohead's Thom Yorke thinks:

I've been saying for a long time I think the big labels are irrelevant in today's "do it yourself" music market. I mean, why do you need them?

To pay for expensive recording studios? Nope. Artists can record their own material affordably these days.

The expense of producing CD's? Really? Does anybody even press CD's any more? I don't think I've walked into a "record store" and bought a CD in the last five years. Even for gifts, I send people electronic gift certificates to iTunes or Amazon.

To handle distribution? Hardly. Anybody can distribute his own material on the two biggest online markets, and iTunes, through services like TuneCore.

Here's the relevant portion of the article:

In an interview for a new high school textbook called The Rax Active Citizen Toolkit, which aims to inspire youngsters to become more politically literate, Yorke claims the music industry is on the verge of a major crisis and could collapse completely within "months".

He says, "It will be only a matter of time - months rather than years - before the music business establishment completely folds. (It will be) no great loss to the world."

Do I believe the labels and record companies will be out of business by Christmas? No, but I do think their time is short, and I blame them for their own demise, for refusing to see and adapt to the changing market. And now arguably, it's too late. They're headed straight for the iceberg.
They're sinking, that much is certain. The only question is how long they've got.

Bets, anyone?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More News on New Van Halen Material?

More to file under "I'll believe it when I hear it", but the Van Halen News Desk posted this snippet from John 5, aka John Lowry, former DLR guitarist:

Shredding mastermind John 5 recently joined the Hard Rock Nights radio program to talk about his new solo record, The Art Of Malice, and working with Rob Zombie, David Lee Roth, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rob Halford, Lita Ford, etc.

John talks about working with David Lee Roth on his DLR Band CD at 1:59 into the interview. Then at 5:06 they ask him about Eddie…

Q: “Now Dave, of course, is back in Van Halen, last we heard…”

A: “Yes.”

Q: “Have you met Eddie? Have you gotten to sit down and talk with him any?”

A: “Oh yeah me and Eddie are good friends. He’s a great guy, you know, he’s doing great, playing great and looks great. He’s on fire right now. They’re writing right now, at Eddie’s place - at 5150 - and he is on fire right now.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A "new Van Halen record"? I'll believe it when I hear it

Here's a quote from Dweezil Zappa on current Van Halen activity - which for those of you who don't follow the VH saga, is kind of linke getting news on the progress of the third Boston album.

The whole article is here:

And here's the quote that VH fans will be interested in:

kind of funny, because I’ve recently been spending some time with Eddie
Van Halen after being out of touch for a while. He was playing me some
new stuff from his record..."

Well, as I said, I'll believe it when I hear it. Do I hope we really are close to the first VH record in 12 years? Absolutely, but Eddie's been "working on new stuff" for at least ten years - they were in the middle of cutting the follow up to "3" when Warner Bros. pulled the plug in '99, and though Eddie has, by his own estimation about ten albums' worth of music queued up, none of it has hit the light of day.
Not that there haven't been positive signs. The '08 tour with David Lee Roth back at the VH helm went a lot better than the previous tour with Sammy Hagar, and Eddie is reported to be as clean as Eddie gets. Still, if there were Vegas odds on the release of a new record in 2010, they'd be pretty long.
I guess I'll just continue to wait and see.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Axl Rose Sues Irving Azoff - for trying to get GnR back together?

The drama that is/was Guns 'n' Roses apparently will never end. The latest is Axl Rose suing Irving Azoff for $5 million, for among other things, trying to orchestrate a reunion of the "band", which for the past decade or so has basically just been Axl.

Read the whole story here:

In part:

Axl Rose says his former manager tried to implement a scheme to force him to reunite with the original Guns N' Roses band members and, as part of the plot, failed to properly promote the "Chinese Democracy" album, lied about a prospective Van Halen super tour and mishandled the band's tour dates.
The claims are part of a bombshell countersuit filed yesterday against Irving Azoff's Front Line Management. In March, Azoff sued Rose, claiming the rocker violated an oral agreement to pay 15% of earnings, or nearly $2 million, from a lucrative concert tour.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

We've Moved!

After over ten years in our previous location, Bloodspoint Studio has moved. We're fully functional. Not everything is pretty enough for pictures yet, but here are a couple:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Well, this is about 10 years too late...

Universal announces test of new pricing structure for CD's.

The Universal Music Group could rewrite U.S. music pricing when it tests a new frontline pricing structure, which is designed to get single CDs in stores at $10, or below.

Beginning in the second quarter and continuing through most of the year, the company's Velocity program will test lower CD prices. Single CDs will have the suggested list prices of $10, $9, $8, $7 and $6.
If they'd done this about ten years ago, it might actually have helped to save CD's. As it is now, CD's have been too pricey for too long, and online music from iTunes and Amazon just has too strong a foothold. Plus, they still don't entirely get it:

To accommodate the lower pricing, UMG labels also plan to step up deluxe versions of albums that can sell at higher prices for the more devout music fans and collectors. UMG is also banking that the lower price points will at the least be offset by increasing CD sales volume.
It's not like they're losing money on CD's now. They've been overpriced since they came out, initially because it supposedly cost so much to produce them. And selling stripped down versions for what should be the price of the full album just misses the point altogether.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on WOXY's Shutdown

An excellent article on the latest situation and some words from Mike Taylor here:

As someone said on's discussion board, "I was ready (for them to go off the air) in 2004 and 2006. I wasn't ready today". The difference of course being that there was warning both on both previous occasions - sometimes months. Not so with today's abrupt silence.

Well Crap - WOXY is Silenced - Again

In the latest in a series ups and downs since they ended their terrestrial reign at 97.7 FM here in Cincinnati in 2004, WOXY (Bam! The future of rock and roll!) is off the air (internet) again, just six months after they moved to Austin, to be "closer to the music":

I'd like to say I was shocked, but as I said, things have been rocky for WOXY for the last six years. It seems it's very difficult to be a viable commercial concern at the cutting edge of music, sad as it is to say that.
I hope this isn't the really real final farewell this time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP, Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton, the most influential musician whose name nobody recognized, passed away last night.
Chilton scored his first hit (at 16!) with the Boxtops' "The Letter", and later went on to further acclaim, if not much fame, with Big Star. Never heard of Big Star? If you ever watched "That 70's Show", their song "In the Street" was re-made for the theme of that show, and those of you who are long time alterna pop fans will know that the Replacements immortalized Alex Chilton in their song of the same name.
Alex and a reformed Big Star, now featuring Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies, had been gigging recently, and were supposed to play at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, TX.
Here's a link to a report from SXSW which discusses the impact of Alex's life, and death. Lots of good clips and info here:

To quote Paul Westerberg, "I never travel far without a little Big Star".

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The State of A&R Today

It's not just the recording studios that are feeling the crunch of the "record it yourself, sell it yourself" model the music business works on these days. I admire the DIY ethic, if not always the results, for recording, but certainly, record companies had too much power for too long. Here's a bit excerpted from an article at LA Weekly.

When, at the turn of the millennium, the record industry fumbled the digital-distribution opportunity presented by the budding Internet, its profits plummeted, as the public lost interest in the suddenly clumsy compact disc (U.S. album sales shrank from 785 million in 2000 to 428 million in 2008, according to Nielsen Soundscan). Drastic layoffs followed — more than 5,000 industrywide between 2000 and 2007 — as buyouts and mergers reduced the major labels to a "Big 4" and significant brands like Arista, V2 and DreamWorks vanished altogether. A&R ranks withered accordingly: 127 A&R executives were let go or chose to leave their jobs during 2007 alone, according to business-contact source The A&R Registry.

The whole article is here:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gibson Accused of Price Fixing

Gibson, who made the news a few months ago regarding a controversy about the source of their wood, and then more recently because if a layoff sparked by "slow sales", makes the headlines again, this time for price fixing. I can't say this would be a huge surprise if it's true. They have narrowed their retailer base quite a bit in recent years, and forced those that did remain to stop advertising prices on the internet, mostly to stop price wars. How is this much different/worse if it's true?

Gibson Guitar Corp., which laid off about 50 people a year ago, may be subjected to even more financial pain this year, but the blame can't be pinned all on the recession.

The Nashville-based manufacturer is being hammered in a number of class action lawsuits accusing Gibson and other groups of fixing the retail prices on guitars.

The litigation comes on the heels of Gibson being investigated by federal authorities on whether it uses wood protected under U.S. law at its manufacturing facility in Nashville.

Gibson has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Abby Road for Sale?

I'd buy it if I had the $$.

Apparently, it's not a profitable use of prime London real estate any more:

"It is an extensive piece of real estate and it must cost a lot to run," said Dave Robinson of Pro Sound News Europe magazine.

"There are easier ways to make records these days, with a laptop and a microphone. You don't need these big places."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So much for Plan A

The plan for today was to head to Guitar Center and play around with the '65 Princeton Reverb Reissue. They had one all right, but the entire time I was there, it was in use. There was a woman there trying out what seemed like every single variant of Strat and Tele in the entire place - into that amp. To be fair, she played well, so it wasn't like some hack was feeding it with a Metal Zone and butchering Metallica riffs. She was playing cool sounding bluesy and jazzy riffs which sounded pretty good, confirming that the amp will do the "Fender Clean" sound. What I want to know is if it will replicate the sound I once got out of a borrowed silverface Princeton Reverb. This particular amp got nice and grindy about halfway up, and sounded great with my humbucker equipped Strat. A subsequent silverface PR I got in a trade, while it was minty clean, just didn't do that sound. It went from quiet, to too loud, to farty sounding.
I'm looking for a replacement for the '73 Twin Reverb I have now. Nothing wrong with the Twin - it's just bigger than I need right now, and I'm trying to save some space. I think I can be confident that it will do "clean". Question is, will it do that nice dirty sound I remember?
Guess I'll have to see if I can get back down there tomorrow (or maybe lunch time Monday or Tuesday) to find out.
Of course, it's all academic unless I can find a buyer for the Twin, or find someone who'll trade me a silverface Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb.

So, I realized that I had some glaring omissions yesterday - more pedal comparos

So, I realized that I had some glaring omissions yesterday in my overdrive shootout. I forgot the Danelectro Transparent Overdrive and the BOSS SD-1. Since the Ibanez TS5 won yesterday's shootout, today I'm going to pit it against the Danelectro Transparent Overdrive and the BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive. And I switched 2nd and 3rd places from yesterday's results. The Bad Monkey will get exactly the sound of the Sparkle if I tweak the highs a little, and it doesn't have the audible lag when switched on that the Sparkle does. Inexcusable for a boutique pedal.

Today's results:

Wow. What is the Transparent Overdrive supposed to be a clone of? Whatever it is, it's a hell of a pedal. Today's contest was the Ibanez TS-5 (yesterday's winner) against the TOD and the BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive.

Third place - yesterday's winner, the TS5. This one sounded the dullest of the three I tested today, with the least harmonic detail, and less sparkle when cleaned up. Still an okay pedal, but not the best today.

Second Place - the SD-1. This pedal kept up very well with the TOD, but seemed to cut more bass off, and didn't have the same harmonic overtone that the TOD did. Cleaned up better than the TS5, but less individual string definition in chords.

The winner - the Danelectro Transparent Overdrive. This pedal has more gain on tap by about 10% than either of the others, and sounded best when cleaned up. It's also got more tone tailoring capability than the other two, with its 2-band EQ. What really pushed this one over the top, though, was how harmonically rich the sound was even with the volume at full. I could hear every note and harmonic right through the overdrive. The fact that it's $39 doesn't hurt any either, but I was judging solely on what sounded good to me.

Coming up next - small tube amp shootouts.

Overdrive Pedal Shootout

I've been finding myself liking the sound of my Strats lately, but they always end up sounding thin in a band context, so I end up falling back on my humbucker equipped guitars. They don't have as much colour or detail, but they fill out the sound. Single coils seem to need a little help, especially in one-guitar bands. In that spirit, I decided to try out some of my overdrive pedals - the TS-5, Sparkle, Bad Monkey, as well as the DOD YJM308 overdrive, to see which, if any of them, could make my Strats beefy enough to play live with.

A couple of notes: I am not a fan of the super muted lead sound. I like some brightness and cut to my tone, as I'm used to competing against a pretty aggressive bass player and drummer.
Also, these are all pedals that I own. Nobody has ever sent me anything for free - well, I got some free strings once for answering a survey.

I also generally do not believe in spending several hundred dollars each for pedals - especially dirt boxes. Part of that is philosophical - there's maybe $15 in parts in a dirt box. I don't see what would make one worth $300 new. No offense to guys who make boutique pedals. It's a rough business. I have a friend who makes his living that way, and I've told him his pedals are too expensive for me. Part of it is economical - as I said, I buy all my own pedals, and as many as I buy, I'd go broke at boutique prices. So, I tend to stick with stuff I can get for under $100 - well under $100 in most cases. Some of these pedals have been in my collection for more than 25 years, and some are newer. As my wife would tell you, I'm always buying pedals. I'm only able to test pedals I own though, so if you're wondering "what about the ___?", it means I don't own one, probably because it is too expensive for me.
All that said, on to the shootout.

I have to say, I'm a little surprised at the results, which were the same for both Strats, though they are electrically quite different.

One guitar is a bone stock Fender Yngwie signature Strat (DiMarzio YJM/YJM/HS3 in Neck/Middle/Bridge) - the other is a custom Strat with alder body, maple/maple neck, and combination of GFS vintage alnico pickups in the neck and bridge and a DiMarzio FS-1 in the bridge position. Amp was my typical gigging setup - my '78 Marshall 2203 head with the preamp volume at about 6 - a good spot for humbucker guitars, but it sounds thin and clean with a Strat - into my Avatar 2x12 with two Celestion Vintage 30's. I play 95% of the time guitar -> amp, unless I specifically need a delay or flanging effect or something. I also wire all my Strats to have a Tone attached to the bridge pickup, but I only use it if I really have to cut highs for some reason. Most of my testing was done in the bridge position, because that's where I spend most of my time. I'm a rock player for the most part, who likes pretty aggressive tones, though not "metal" by today's standards, by a long shot. To me, the perfect guitar tone is 70's era Thin Lizzy.
If you're a blues player who plays on the neck pickup all the time through clean amps, your mileage may vary.

First off, the YJM308 is right out, unless you're trying to ape the Yngwie tone. It does that in spades, but that's about it. Cuts way too much low and mid to be generally useful for my tastes.
So, it was down to the following:

In third place, the Bad Monkey. This pedal has a little more gain than the other two and sounded okay on single note stuff, but also sounded the most "diffuse" and "weakest" in terms of cut, which was especially noticeable on power chords and double stop stuff. It also got dull sounding when I turned down the guitar's volume to clean up a little.

Runner up, the Sparkle Tone. This was a close race, and the Sparkle did have the best harmonics, but still sounded a little more diffuse than I'd like. I want a Strat to slice like a hammer. It also has the clean add in thing, which I hate and never use. I could live with this pedal, but I'd sure hate to have paid full price for it.

And today's winner, the lowly Ibanez Sound Tank TS-5. Had the best cut of all, most focused sound, and stayed sparkly when cleaned up. When it came down to it, this is the pedal I was playing most when I realized I'd been playing for ten minutes, and was supposed to be switching around to compare pedals.

All the pedals above were set for unity volume with the gain cranked and tone knobs at neutral. I did eventually add a little low on the BM to embolden its sound a little.