Keeping Your Ego Out Of The Song’s Way

Thanks for coming to this page but it’s moved!

You can find it now on Guitagrip.com.

Thanks for dropping by.  I hope to see you at guit-a-grip!

Hardware vs. Software – Or Praises And Perils In Live Laptop Use

Before I drag this article kicking and screaming down the bloody cobblestones of memory lane, I’ll mention that the kick off for this post was a recent effort to stabilize my laptop rig.

.

A couple of months ago I found out that the 4 gig chip that my laptop would support had come down in price.  This would allow me to max out my elder laptop at 6 gigs instead of the current 4.  I surmised that had to improve performance overall.

After saving up some cash – I ordered the chip from OWC.  It came very quickly and installation was a snap.  I turned on the laptop and seeing the memory say 6GB – was thrilled for about a ½ hour.

.

At that point, the laptop screen did a big wipe down and I got an error message of death – you need to shut off your laptop, which I did.  It powered back up and 10 minutes later did the same thing.  I took out the memory and added the old memory back and everything worked fine.  I contacted OWC – they had me try a few things, and then sent me an RMA so I could send it back for free.  The promptly sent me another chip.

.

I got that chip in the mail on Monday.  I installed it in my laptop and everything was fine.  I ran it all day and there were no issues.  I got it home and was streaming a video while I was working out and sure enough about an hour in the laptop screen did a big wipe down and I got an error message of death – you need to shut off your laptop, which I did.  This time however, when I turned off the laptop, I felt underneath it – I had the laptop elevated to get it some air to help cool it down, but even so – it was still hot enough that you could fry an egg on it.  I set the laptop on its side to cool it down and once the back was cool to the touch – maybe a couple of minutes later – started it up and it’s been working fine ever since.  I think it was the combination of the poor airflow and table lamps I have to increase the lighting. I’ll have to go to staples now and get one of those self cooling USB fan jobs and hope it doesn’t mess with the audio signal.  But it was an important reminder about the precarious nature of laptops as signal processors.   The reason I was trying this in advance was because at the next gig I have, I don’t want the laptop to shut down mid song and leave me stranded.

All of this got me rethinking the laptop vs hardware debate that I partially discussed here but is worth a broader examination.

.

The obligatory history lesson to stave off initial pointed questions of, “Do you even know what that stuff is supposed to sound like?”

As with many of the things I do, my entry into laptop guitar was completely unplanned, but in retrospect not that surprising.

When I first started playing guitar, the amp I had was a no frills, no name combo amp with a 12” speaker.  Given my influences at the time (Hendrix, Sabbath, Ozzy, etc.), it’s no surprise that almost immediately I started looking for distortion.  Then every dollar I could put together was going for other effects: wahs…chorus….delays… anything I could get my hand on to try to replicate those sounds.

When I was playing in the Committee of Public Safety (my avant-garde core French Revolution fixated band with voice, guitar, bass, cello and drums) – my signal chain was really small.  I had a Marshall JCM800 50 watt combo amp with a single 12 (this was run through a 4×12 Marshall 1960A cab).  I had a channel switcher for the amp, a volume pedal and a TC Distortion/Boost pedal.  The committee lead tone was the TC preamp before the Marshall distortion channel – and it was a creamy tone.  I want to say there was some kind of cheap delay in there as well (maybe an Arion), and from what I remember  that was it.

The Marshall got stolen from a rehearsal space in Allston while I was trying to resurrect mach 2 of the Committee.  The stolen amp was my cue from the universe that it was time to move onto another project.  In the meantime, something interesting started happening.  The more I got into pedals, the more I started getting into sounds that didn’t sound like the tones I was initially trying to emulate.  Soon the more a pedal disguised the fact that I was playing a guitar, the more I wanted that pedal.

At the time, I was working at a music store and an Ampeg guitar amp came in, and I got it for a super low price.  I started picking up some EH pedals at the time as well (including a really sweet 1st generation Russian Big Muff Pi), and I found an old tube echoplex.  I remember playing a gig and the sound man took a look at my pedals and said, “Wow – this would be a state of the art rig in like ’72.”  It was meant as a dig, but I took it as a compliment.  The rig had character, the tones were right there and it sounded as guitaristic (or non guitaristic) as I wanted it to.  That amp eventually gave way to amps by Seymour Duncan and Gibson before settling on a 4×10 Hot Rod DeVille (really a pretty great sounding amp with some mods by Tom at AzTech Electronics).

In between a lot of other pedals and effects crossed my path. This included a 1st generation Jam Man (with additional memory slotted in which really turned my head around) and eventually sold, a Rhythm and Sound (also sold), various distortions wahs and other filters.   By the time I was playing in Visible Inc (and later in The Bentmen/Tubtime/One Of Us) – my full rig was a tuner, Ernie Ball Volume Pedal, Digitech Space Station, T.C. Electronics Chorus, Memory Man Delay (original), Guyatone MD-2 delay, Akai Headrush looper, Vox Wah and another Ernie Ball volume pedal that went into the front end of a Fender Hot Rod Deville (4×10 amp).   The full rig sat in an 88 key keyboard flight case that would not fit width wise across my car seats.

During all of this, I was constantly investigating different digital options.  I had the original zoom effect that I used for quite a while, and when the line 6 came out – I remember getting a used 2.0 bean and just being blown away at the flexibility of it.  Even later – my B-rig (and the one I used primarily with Annette Farrington) was the pod bean with a line 6 pedal board, the looper, wah and volume pedal.  (Later in a cover band – it was only the Pod 2.0 in front of the amp). And that rig sounded pretty damn good in front of my amp.  Even the band’s sound guy went from dismissive to begrudging concession.  It really didn’t sound AS good as the full board – it sounded different – but it worked and it was a hell of a lot less stuff to bring than a huge pedal board.

This is all mentioned because about a month before I left Boston to go to CalArts, my rig was stolen out of an uninsured rehearsal space.  The only thing I had taken home with me was the space station and the Akai Headrush – the amp and all the rest of the pedals were gone.  The band hadn’t been rehearsing for a while so I had no idea anything was missing until a month later.  By then there wasn’t much of anything to do – but leave Boston and start what would now be my acoustic studies at CalArts.

My first year at CalArts, my wife got me a Pod XT for a Christmas gift – and that was my ticket back on the crazy train of gear.  But back when I was rocking a G3 ibook – I remember thinking that someday I’d be able to get guitar tones from a laptop.  The day would come that I’d be able to bring a guitar and a laptop and leave all those pedals behind.  And now I can say – that day is partially here.

Computer guitar tones are the best they’ve ever been, but there are a number of issues big and small that I think need to be acknowledged.

1.        Laptops do not sound like tube amps.  They just don’t.  Even running a laptop with a Marshall patch through a tube amp – doesn’t sound like a Marshall.   Having said that,  it doesn’t sound bad.  In fact, it sounds pretty damn good.  What laptops have all over traditional amps and pedals is flexibility and portability.  Knowing that I can bring a laptop and a guitar and (if the venue has a PA) get through a live show makes touring a LOT easier for me.

2.       Pedals don’t often break – but when they do – they can be bypassed and the amp still used.  The downside is that when the laptop goes down – you’re done.  I’ve never ever had a hardware POD breakdown at a show (other than one time when the venue lost stage power and ALL the amps (and PA) lost power.  I have had laptop programs crash mid set and it’s very nerve-wracking in a live context in the best situations.  In the worst situation – the show’s over.

Laptops are fragile and pedals are built for durability.  I don’t have to worry a well-built pedal getting ruined at a show (unless someone pours their beer on it) – but any one of a number of things could be the end of my laptop.

3.  The technological barrier to true emulation will be cracked.  The news of the new Thunderbolt protocol in mac books is stunning to me.  12x faster than firewire 800?  At a certain point the algorithms will be improved enough, the data transfer rate and processing power will be so high – that you will no longer be able to tell if something was recorded on tape or not.  You will no longer be able to tell if that’s a real tube amp you’re playing through.  It isn’t a question of if it will happen – only when – and honestly I think we’re only about 5-10 years away at the most.

4.  Emulation allows for sounds not feasible in the real world.  Do I want to get an idea of what running a guitar through 6 tube echoplexes sounds like?  Digitally? No Problem.  In the real world – you’d have to first find 6 working tube echoplex units – and the hiss would be unusable, trust me on that one.

If you’re planning on using a laptop live – here are some suggestions I have for you

1.  Optimize it.

  • From the get go, get the fastest processor, maximum memory and fastest hard drive you can afford initially. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest – it just needs to be relatively fast and expandable.  For my live looping rig I have a 2-year old Macbook Pro (2.4 gig Intel Core Duo) with 6 gigs of memory and an internal 7200 rpm drive.  I bought it with 2 gigs of ram and a 5400 rpm drive .  My initial upgrade was 4 gigs of memory and a 200 gig 7200 rpm drive as that’s what I could afford at the time.  The first time I looked at a 4 gig chip the cost was $150.  The one I just installed to get the machine to 6 gig was around $90.
  • As time goes on (and costs decrease) plan on upgrading when necessary.


  • Count on needing an external drive if you’re going to do any recording.


  • Defrag your drives – frequently. When I went from the 200 gig drive to the 500 gig drive I defragged it during the drive cloning and my system speed increase was about 30%.  It makes a big difference.

2.  Back it up.

The first time you lose all your data – you will know how important this is.  I’m especially bad at this as well and only back up once a week or so.  A hard drive is a very delicate thing.  If you knew you easily it lost information, you would lose sleep at night.

3.  Make Multiple patches and back them up as well.

Patches take up almost no drive space.  I probably have 40-50 different AU Lab settings.  The reason for this is that AU LAB remembers all of the patch parameters as you save them.  So if, for example, you finally optimize your work flow and settings and accidentally close the mixer window and save it when you close out  –  that window is gone when you reopen it – and there isn’t  a way to recall it.  What that leaves is no way to change parameters, levels etc.  In other words – you start from scratch.  I do this with POD FARM patches as well (multiple variants of tones so if I can call up parameters at will), SooperLooper, Apogee Maestro and FBV preferences as well.  Hugely helpful in sessions – believe me.

3.  Related to #2 and 3 – organize your folders and label them logically.

In working on my book, you would be amazed at the amount of time lost digging through folders with vague titles looking for old graphics.  All my patches are in one place and backed up to a flash drive.

4.  To the extent you can – run real world tests before going live.

If the stage has hot lights on it, it’s going to be doubly warm for your laptop – will it operate correctly in a live context.  In a related note, record yourself when you’re playing and check levels etc.  As I’ve said before, there’s a substantial difference in sounds that work when your practicing with headphones, sounds that work at low volumes and concert level sounds.  The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to keep it all together.

5.  Keep it compact

Typically in live performance you won’t have an hour to set stuff up.  5-10 minutes is optimal.  To the extent that you can, try to pre-cable all of your connections.  Don’t assume that the venue will have clean, continual power.  I have a surge protector built into my strip – it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing.

6.  Go with the highest resolution your system will handle.

SooperLooper freaks out when I run anything higher than 44.1k – so if I’m looping – everything runs 44.1.  If I’m not looping everything runs 88.2, or 96k.  The clean sounds have more definition and the dirty sounds are a whole different ball game at 88.2 vs 44.1.  Again, this is where having multiple AU patches comes in handy.

7.  Be flexible.

Have a backup plan when things go wrong.  In a worse case scenario where the laptop completely fails – I can go directly into the amp and get a signal.  There won’t be any effects, but at least I don’t have to stop playing while it gets sussed out.

8.  Be calm.

This took a while for me to get my head around.  The problem with getting freaked out – is that it just exacerbates the situation as typically it leads to bad decisions which leads to more freaking out.  The more you can calmly assess what’s going wrong, the more quickly you’ll be able to solve the problem.

9.  Bring Extras.

I bring a trouble shooting pack to every gig it consists of:

  • duct tape – to tape down cables/or hold things together if need be.
  • a mag light – things get lost on stage very easily.
  • a small tool bag with screwdrivers, pliers and a wrench
  • a black magic marker and post its – in case I need to make any patch changes, write up set lists, etc
  • 9 volt batteries (for my ebow – also for my back up tuner)
  • strings and a string winder
  • back up usb and firewire cables
  • an extension cord
  • a flash drive with back up patches for everything

10.  Bring your A game.

Stage presence is a difficult thing to bring to a laptop performance, but to the extent that you can – show that you’re engaged (or at least don’t look bored/frightened) and come out from your laptop once in a while.  If it’s engaging for the audience, it’s going to make the performance go easier for you as well.

Thanks for reading!

-SC

The Baker’s Dozen Approach To Pentatonic Scales

6 for the price of 5

While pentatonics are a great melodic and harmonic device, slipping some extra notes into the scale can add some additional spice to the  approach.  The most common way to do this is through the method used in the blues scale – which is a pentatonic minor scale with an added note (in the case of the blues scale – a tritone).

The impetus for posting on this was a post my friend Moby Pomerance put up regarding some elements of this very topic.  Originally I had devised an alternate (i.e. approximate) fingering for his idea – but ultimately I put a few twists and turns in it and came up with one lick that’s really three mini licks rolled into one.

First – The Scale

Here’s a “box” position D pentatonic minor scale as a starting point:

What I’m going to do is add in a 9th (e) for an additional flavor

If I put this in a 2 note per string pattern using the D on the D string 12th fret as a starting point, I get this fingering ascending and descending. (Use alternate picking with this lick.)

While there’s nothing wrong with fingering it this way, I like dividing it into 3 string groupings.  The 2-note-per-string approach with alternate picking is more aggressive – but the dividing the notes per string into grouping of 3-1-3 on the g-high e strings is a little more legato makes it easier for me to sequence sections.  So here is the same idea but moved to the 7th/8th position.

Pay careful attention to the picking pattern and the 4th finger.  The slide is indicated here to accent the pinky movement. While it’s picked in this example, it could also be played with only the first pick attack.

The lick

This idea is presented below in a larger lick that works over a d minor/d min7/d min9 chord.    Here’s an mp3 I recorded with the FNH Guitar  in AU Lab- first played slow (1/2 time) then faster (full speed – tempo is around 200).

** Note – the mp3 player on the site seems to be working better in Safari – but if you have trouble playing it – just refresh the page.


Notes:

  • The picking may seem idiosyncratic – but the approach is based on sweeping individual notes on multiple strings and alternate picking for notes on the same string.  You should find it consistent in that regard.
  • I see this as 3 licks.  Bar 1 is one approach.  The 1st two descending ideas in bar 2 as the second approach and the last 2 arpeggio ideas as the 3rd lick.
  • The note groupings are not all uniform.  Bar 2 has groups of 6 and 7 and splits a group of 5 up between bars 2 and three. .  Breaking out of rigid 4 note 1/16th note patterns adds an element of unpredictability .
  • There are a number of e-f slides to highlight the added note in this lick.  This is done with the idea of breaking the lick into segments rather than just using them in the lick as a whole.
  • Using patterns that have only 1 note on the B string – can make for some interesting chord ideas as well.  Here are some melodic fragments that can double as substitution chords over a d minor chord (with an mp3 here).

Lastly, examining the notes in this scale: D,E, F, G, A, C  as unique triads reveals the following:

D, F, A (d minor) + C, E, G (c major)

in other words – to get away from the full-scale approach – you could alternate D minor and C major arpeggios and get a very similar effect.  I’ll look at this more in a future lesson.

In the meantime, if this idea is interesting to you – you may also want to look at this GuitArchitecture lesson post, or look at the pdfs of the pentatonic posts in the online lesson (PDFs) tab on the top of the page.

I’m always looking for feedback.  If there’s anything in this lesson that helps, or that raises other questions – feel free to drop me a line at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

-SC

.

Rough Hewn Trio – Some Live Excerpts

The Rough Hewn Trio –  an instrumental trio consisting of Chris Lavender on Warr guitar, Craig Bunch on drums and myself on guitar are getting back into the rehearsal cycle and gearing up for some shows this spring.  To get a feel for what the shows will be like here are some live excerpts from some improvisations we did this fall.  The live sets – will include a combination of pre-composed and improvised material.

For those of you who are interested – this session is all drums and laptops.  I’m running Pod Farm and Sooperlooper and Chris is using Guitar Rig. (an amp was used to re-amp the guitar in 1C – which had some gnarly digital distortion tho…)

Note:

mp3 playback is sometimes a little glitchy in Safari.  If it doesn’t play in your web browser – you may just have to reload/refresh the playback page.

Enjoy!

-SC

Improv 2b

Improv 2a

Improv 1c

GuitArchitecture, Sonic Visualization And A Pentatonic Approach For The Holidays

Happy Holidays!

.

I know I’ve been posting a lot of gear related items lately – and  based on the statistics for site visits – this seems to be what people are primarily interested in – so this has driven the posting content recently.

While I’m happy to blog about gear (not incidentally, my 8 string Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat pickup came in last night and I squealed like Bobby Hill); I don’t want to get too far away from playing.  With that in mind I’m putting a concentrated effort to get more lesson/performance posts up to rebalance the site a bit.

I’ll have a new  chord-scale lesson up next week but in the meantime wanted to explain my performance/pedagogical approach to navigating the fingerboard with a fleet fingered pentatonic lick (yes, it’s reposted – but just like Thanksgiving leftovers – aren’t they still good on day two?).

.

GuitArchitecture?  Sonic Visualization?

.

I wanted to take a moment and talk a little about GuitArchitecture, sonic visualization and re-examine a chestnut from the lesson page as a little – three for the price of one post.

In broad strokes, the GuitArchitecture concept is that the nature of the guitar’s fretboard and tuning lends itself to visualizing fingering patterns.

While patterns performed mindlessly can be a bad thing, they allow people to realize ideas more readily.

Through these patterns, musical structures can be realized and worked into larger sonic arrangements.  More importantly, patterns can be associated with sounds and visualizing how to realize a sound by seeing its shape on the fretboard makes performing it easier.  Hence the term Sonic Visualization.

In my forthcoming books – I have a lot of information on this topic as it applies to scales.  When approaching scales – I see them as a series of modular two-string patterns that connect the entire fingerboard.

.

The GuitArchitecture Approach

. 

Here’s an applied example of sonic visualization:

Let’s say I’m playing a solo over an E minor chord.  As mentioned in a previous post – when soloing over a minor chord you can substitute a minor chord a 5th away (in this case B minor).

So if I’m thinking of using E pentatonic minor over the chord (E, G, A, B, D) I can also use B pentatonic minor (B, D, E, F#, A).

If you look carefully – you’ll see the only difference between the two is the F# and the G.   Both notes sound good against E minor, so if we combine them we get a six- note scale (E, F#, G, A, B, D).  Here is a sample fingering of the combined scales in the 12th position.

.

If that scale were fingered as a 2-string scale instead of a six- string box pattern – the same fingering pattern can be moved in octaves – thus eliminating the need for multiple fingerings. (This is the same approach I’m using on 8 string guitar btw).

Here is an mp3 (note mp3s are a little glitchy in Safari – if it doesn’t play you may just have to reload the page) and notation/tab for the descending scale:

.

Sextuplet descending

.

.

* Fingering Note: I finger both patterns with the 1, 2 and 4 fret hand fingers on both string sets.

* Descending Picking Note: I play this with a modified sweep picking pattern

E string: up-down-up

B string: up-down-up

.

The picking pattern is the same for each string – but when I switch strings – it’s two up picks in a row.

Here it is  ascending:

Sextuplet Ascending

.

* Ascending Picking Note: I also play this with a modified sweep picking pattern

.

E string: down-up-down

A string: down-up-down

.

The picking pattern is the same for each string – but when I switch strings – its two down picks in a row.

If you’re used to alternate picking  – you can use that approach as well but I try to apply the same picking pattern to all three-note per string patterns.

.

Practicing the pattern

.

In addition to focusing on the timing of the notes – it’s very important to practice slowly and only increase speed when both the timing (are all the notes being played with rhythmic equivalence?), tone (i.e. can you hear all of the notes clearly?) and hand tension (is your hand should be as relaxed as possible?) are all working together.

I’ve written a whole series of posts on practicing  (Post 1post 2post 3post 4post 5post 6 and post 7) that I’d recommend checking out if you haven’t already done so – but the simple principle here is to pay attention to what I call the 3 T’s in Performance: Timing, Tone Production and Tension.

This particular approach is challenging – particularly if you’re not used to the stretch.  Just remember to practice in small focused increments and try to increase steadily over time.

.

The Tones:

.

For those of you who are interested, tone on this recording was the same AU Lab/Apogee/FNH combination that I detailed here:

Here’s a screen shot of the Pod Farm setting (The tone can be downloaded from line 6 here):

.

That’s all for now

.

I hope this helps!  You’re free to download and distribute any of the lessons here but I maintain the copyright on the material.

I’m always looking for feedback on what people find useful and what they don’t so if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com

POD HD vs Pod Farm: A Cost Comparison

One thing that occasionally drives me crazy is trying to find out about a piece of gear – finding a googled link – reading through a multi page posting involving specific gear only to get to a final point of, “Oh I don’t have the unit and I’ve never tried it – but I’ve read the specs.”

Having prefaced this – with any luck this post won’t make you crazy.

I have been taking a good look at the POD HD 500.  One thing I like about the laptop rig is being able to set things up quickly – but as a friend of mine once quipped about another unit, “…you can’t check your e-mail on dedicated hardware – but it’s also much less likely to break down on stage.”

Another nice thing about dedicated hardware is the fact that it’s self contained.  There’s something about being able to plug something in and be up and running in no time at all.  Even as compact as my laptop rig is – it would still be faster to run through the HD than setting everything up on my laptop.

The price tag – Part I

The POD HD 500 will run about $500.  For that you get the same ins and outs that you got with the POD X3 – 16 amp and cab models (apparently the modeling is built from the ground up in a completely different way than the previous pods – hence the “HD”), about 100 effects and an onboard looper that can loop audio up to 48 seconds (in 1/2 time mode – 24 in regular speed).

If you’re running POD Farm 2.0 on a laptop consider this for a moment:

A second generation Macbook will run you at least a grand.  You really need a 7200 rpm drive – and that isn’t standard on most computers so you’re looking $50-$100 or more (assuming you’re installing it yourself) and 4 gigs of memory or more (if not already installed – again let’s say $50-100 depending on memory and model) – so let’s just average $150 ($75+75) for memory and drive costs.

You’ll need an audio interface.  If you use line 6 gear – you can get a cheaper rate on Pod farm but it’s usb… Let’s assume for a moment you’re going to go whole hog and go with a high quality audio interface.  An RME Fireface will run you at least a grand – so let’s also assume you’re going to go “budget” and get an Apogee Duet for $499.  If you upgrade to a break out box – it’s a minimum of $95 more for the unbalanced version.

You can get Pod Farm Platinum for $149 on Amazon (and for $184.99 get the Ilok key as well) – This is opposed to the $299 you’ll be charged from Line 6 for Platinum alone.

From a software standpoint I use AU Lab (which comes free on the OSX installer disc) and Sooper Looper (which is shareware – but you should pay Jesse something for the product – it’s one of the best software investments you can make).

If you don’t want to have to click on a mouse for a set – you would need a midi controller.  I like the shortboard mk II (approximately $199 – but it you may want to spend the $7-10 bucks for a 10-15 foot USB cable if running it live).  It’s usb powered, well constructed and works really well (except for the fact that Line 6 currently doesn’t support displaying patch names on the controller – only midi values – this is a big minus for live use – because you have to stare at the screen to see what patch you’re playing.

So for a live laptop rig (from scratch) or The price tag – Part II

Computer:  1000 + 150 (average memory and drive cost) + $599 (Duet + breakout box)+  $184.99 (Pod Farm + Ilok key) + $199 shortboard = $2133!!!!

That $1995 for an Axe-FX ultra is starting to look like a steal (although the Axe-FX midi controller is $799 – which makes the shortboard look better and better all the time)!  Comparatively, an Eleven Rack Mount will run you about $760 or so.

This doesn’t include a laptop bag, external drives (for looping/recording to), IRs  (impulse responses), conditioned power supply, USB hubs, breakout boxes or other expenses.  To put it in perspective however, you probably already have a computer and an audio interface of some kind so many of these other expenses are not critical.

From a cost perspective – there is no comparison between a POD HD and a laptop rig running POD farm.

But here’s my thought on it.

I can’t imagine Line 6 not issuing a POD farm version of the HD models.  The code for the models is already written and they already have a wrapper (Pod Farm).  My guess is that they’ll wait a while for hardware orders to fill up and then release a POD farm version.

I have no idea what the hardware is in the POD HD unit (it runs up to 96k internally) – but I have to think that:

1.  My laptop has more memory, hard drive space and a faster processor than what’s on the HD (or the Axe-FX or the Eleven for that matter)

2.  Related to this – that I can run more than 8 effects if need be on my laptop – which it the limit on the HD

3. The Apogee has to have better A/D/A conversion than the POD HD.

4.  While the built-in looper is a great addition – that it doesn’t hold a candle to Sooperlooper for features or loop time.

Does this mean that I’m dissing the HD series?  Not at all.  As you can see from the economic breakdown above – I think the HD is an amazing deal.

The Pod X3 was already useable – and even not having tried the HD (cough, cough) – I have to think it’s sonically a step forward. Heck if I could clear out some money – I might be willing to pick one up for sheer convenience alone.

But in going the laptop route – I’m making an investment in the future.

I’m putting my money on better software and better plugins and knowing that if the POD HD sounds that much better than the POD X3, that the Pod Farm version may even blow it out of the water.

There’s always cheaper ways to do things.  For a long time I ran a POD 2.0 into a Fender DeVille and always had people asking what I was using to get my tones.  As a general rule, I would suggest to get the best gear you can afford and make the most of it.

One final thought

If you own a car – you will always be sinking money into it – insurance, gas, oil, tires, breaks, maintenance, etc, etc.  It’s expensive – but it beats walking.

When I was at Berklee –  there was a shred guitarist whose pedal board had about 30-40 pedals on it and needed to be carried by two people.   This was before the signal hit the full rack space unit.  All of this gear was for 3 tones – clean, metal rhythm and lead.  Additionally, he had 2-3 Rocktron hush units in the rig.  When he stopped playing there would be a literal sound of locusts trying to break through the speaker before the gate kicked in (here’s an approximation of the sound: wheedley-wheedley-wheedley-wheedley-SCHHHHHKKKKKKK – silence).

A laptop guitar rig is kind of like a car.  If you own a guitar, you will always be sinking money into it (and the gear used with it) as well – but it beats walking with a pedal board with 30 pedals on it to a gig.

Thanks for reading!

-SC

.

POD HD Flash Memory Update, POD HD500 In Live Use And More Thoughts About Gear

SOME THOUGHTS ON MODELING, GEAR ACQUISITION AND THE POD HD500

LINE 6 POD FARM 2.5 UPDATE AND POD FARM FREE ANNOUNCED

APOGEE DUET 2 ANNOUNCED

New SooperLooper Update 1.6.16

OCTAVE4PLUS A4 – .007 STRING REVIEW

BKP (BARE KNUCKLE PICKUPS) 8 STRING COLD SWEAT PICKUP

.

LAPTOP GUITAR MUST BUY – GATOR VIPER ELECTRIC GIGBAG W. LAPTOP COMPARTMENT REVIEW

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS – GATOR VIPER GIG BAG REVIEW

SCHECTER OMEN 8 STRING REVIEW PART 2 – STRING OBSERVATIONS AND SOUND CLIPS

SCHECTER OMEN 8 STRING REVIEW

APOGEE DUET BREAK OUT BOX OVERVIEW

LINE 6 FBV EXPRESS MK II REVIEW

MONO PRODUCER BAG (LAPTOP BAG REVIEW)

.

POD HD500 AND POD FARM CONJECTURES

STEINBERGER GEARLESS TUNERS – REVIEW

TOOTHPICKS AND THEIR PROPER PLACE IN GUITAR MAINTENANCE

WHERE TO GET YOUR GUITAR REPAIRED IN LA OR LESSONS FOR THE SELF EMPLOYED MUSICIAN

GUITAR STREET IN HO CHI MINH CITY VIETNAM

RIG AROUND THE ROSIE OR MEDIATIONS AND MEDITATIONS ON GEAR

LINE 6 POD FARM 2.0 OVERVIEW

VARIAX AC700 REVIEW/WORKBENCH OVERVIEW

FNH ULTRASONIC GUITAR REVIEW

GEAR

.

POD HD500 and POD Farm Conjectures

Pod Farm Distribution?

I noticed on the Sweetwater page that the POD Farm Plug in is no longer available from their site (you can still buy a dowloadable version from the line 6 site though).  Amazon has a seller that sells the basic version for $39 and the platinum version for $149.  With the platinum version you get 60 more guitar amps, 70 more effects and more bass amps and cabs.  There’s a full list of the models here.

These versions all require dedicated line 6 hardware – the ilok version allows you to use your own a/d converter but runs $99 for Pod Farm and $299 for the platinum version. I’ve never been a fan of USB audio with macs – so this was the better (and unfortunately more expensive) option for me.

Line 6 doesn’t release information about upcoming products in general (the recent HD ad campaign is a notable exception) – but it makes me wonder if the fact that Sweetwater isn’t carrying it anymore means that they’re going to be releasing the new HD models in a pod farm format.

The HD 500 is an interesting idea – that seems to combine the hardware ins and outs of the POD X3 with a beefed up processor, fx selection and dedicated looping (48 seconds on the 500 – 24 on the others – full specs here). (Also, the 500 is the only one the 3 HD pods to support dual rigs – so if this is an important feature for you in the hardware or software version) you will have to pony up for the full version).  The idea of 16 really pristine amp models is appealing in a lot of ways – if it’s the right 16 amps.  A recent gear wire video demo, shows some sounds being played with a Variax with mixed results.  It’s hard to tell how the audio is being recorded (or what tones on the Variax are being used) but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the quality on the line 6 site.   The promotional videos from Line 6 indicate that addressing the feel of playing a tube amp is a big component of the experience – so the demos might now be all about tone – but it will be interesting to see.  I like the way the park model sounds when the volume is backed off in terms of breakup – but I’d have to experience the tone in person to know what was happening there.

In, Eugene Chadborune’s Brilliant music business book, “I hate the man who runs this bar”, he talks about the double edged sword of new technology in that people are SO willing to jump onto the newest thing – that they often discard perfectly good technology.  Along those lines –  this means that POD X3 will probably be available pretty inexpensively – both in the bean and floorboard version – and that comes with a LOT of features and has a USB out – which could be helpful to you if you’re trying to get a flexible rig on the cheap.

.

-SC