Nick Crow’s 7170 got a fancy skin, and here’s how it sounds!

April 22, 2009

I cut the old clip, there’s a new one now that shows what it can do much better in my opinion! I didn’t spend enough time on the last one and it came out muffled and poor.

Nick Crow 7170 is used for the rhythm track. I used LePou’s SoloC for the lead track to get a different sound so it wouldn’t get swallowed – my one disappointment with 7170 is that the midrange EQ controls don’t do much to the sound at all, which makes it difficult to dial in a lead tone that will sit well with a rhythm tone done by 7170. I had to use SoloC to make it distinct enough. Perhaps Nick will address this in a later update, I’d love to have an effective midrange adjustment and it would make 7170 that much more impressive.

Guitar is a Schecter C-1 Classic, JB humbucker in the bridge throughout. I run the guitar into a BBE Orange Squash compressor, which is a lovely and unintrusive compressor that has the effect of making the signal from the guitar very well balanced and enhancing its already great sustain, but without squashing the dynamics. From there it goes into my audio interface, and then…

Guitar Rig 3 provides its Noise Reduction module, best in the business – nothing other than that here
BTE Audio TubeScreamerSecret wakes the beast
Nick Crow’s 7170 (requietus skin) IS the beast
Aradaz OUR Cabinet Sim for the cab, about a 60/40 blend between Alu’s great Mesa 4×12 2 and Noa’s Soldano cab, second cab sample delayed by 2 samples to tighten up the highs and lows (this is my go-to setup these days when I need a quick cabinet sound – if I have more time I use Recabinet 1.05, anything you want is in there, but you can nail a tone down really quickly with Aradaz OUR so it’s a very handy tool).

Three rhythm tracks, one hard left, one hard right, one down the center, mixed to taste. I used T-Racks 3’s Opto comp for the center, Fairchild comp for the sides; one of its Pultec EQs on the mid, one on the sides; and its brickwall limiter to top it off and make it gel. On the freeware side of things, I used the delicious BootEQmkII on the center rhythm track to carve it up like I wanted it.

The lead track is a total one-off, I spent time on the rhythm and was just ready to get it done and posted by the time I got ready to record the lead. Hopefully you guys will dig it, I think this sim has a phenomenal sound and it’s totally free! The Peavey 5150 is one of the best loved high-gain heads and has been featured on countless albums, it’s a true metal workhorse and this qualifies upon release as one of the most impressive freeware high-gain amps around. Nick Crow’s done it again.

Having some issues with my audio hosting, hopefully to be resolved soon

April 21, 2009

The universe conspires against y’all getting a comparison of all 48 dirt pedals in the software I use. But I will not be thwarted. I’m going to start posting them as single blog entries rather than wait until I have all 48 recorded and uploaded, I think that’ll be more manageable for y’all and for me as well. Plus this way you can search or use the categories to more easily get right to what you want.  I doubt anyone could even pay attention for 48 clips 🙂 The idea is for it to be a perpetually useful resource that folks can come to in order to see how the software compare on this or that pedal they’re particularly interested in; I don’t actually expect everyone to listen to 48 clips, even if they are just one minute long each. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure post.

In other news, I’m going to stop being so ambitious about blog update deadlines until AFTER I graduate. It turns out there’s a whole heck of a lot of stuff you’ve got to do in the last month of college, who knew? Sorry guys and gals, I promise this blog isn’t even close to dead and I’ve got some really cool content planned for after I graduate and I can actually start recording more during the day. If you can keep the faith for a few weeks, you’ll have proof aplenty 🙂

Thanks to everyone for continuing to come by, sorry it’s been slow lately. I do it for you guys.

Oh, in other news, apparently (according to Dennis from ProTone himself) Jason Becker liked my ProTone Jason Becker Distortion clips, which humbles me like you would not believe. He’s one of my heroes and he digs my stuff? Wow!

Barber Electronics Dirty Bomb pedal

April 17, 2009

Barber Electronics Dirty Bomb
Price: $99.95

The Barber Dirty Bomb was introduced to the market late last year, and has really taken off apparently, likely due to its low cost relative to its competition. It’s hand-made and features high-quality components and a cleverly designed circuit (no goop here), but Barber’s philosophy seems to be that he can make pedals that compete well with anything else in the boutique world, but for a reasonable price, so it really is a great bargain for someone seeking a high-gain sound given the current economic situation.

It is a cascaded JFET design (seems like there are a lot of them lately, which is fine by me, they sound great and behave responsively – well-loved old Randalls were among the first solid state amps to have the level of responsiveness and dynamics of their tube counterparts, and they were cascaded JFETs as well), very clean work inside, very well built all around. There is an internal low-bass potentiometer (a big one, too, not a tiny trim pot) which is used to dial in the pedal’s low end relative to the amplifier and cabinet you’re using. I spoke to Mr. Barber and he said the idea is to adjust the low-bass to zero, dial in the front controls, and then adjust the internal low-bass; however, I did it the other way around, first matching the low-bass to my amp and cabinet (a THD Univalve and a Trace Elliot oversized 4×12 with V30s and Vet30s in an X-pattern) and then dialing in the face controls. Worked just fine, but you should probably do it the way he suggested.

The face controls are, as you can see, Level, Treble, Bass and Gain, along with a three-position midrange switch. “Oh no!” you might lament, “There’s no mids control! How will I ever dial in metal tones with no mids control?!” Worry not, the EQ is very cleverly designed. The midrange switch changes the voicing of the mids between three settings (sounds like flat, boost, scoop to me), but the real magic is that when you turn the Treble and Bass all the way down, the midrange is all the way up. Then as you add in Treble and Bass, the midrange reacts to them. When the Treble and Bass controls are at their mid-point, the midrange is at its flattest (depending of course on where you’ve got the switch set). Treble and Bass above noon, the midrange goes lower; below noon, the midrange is more forward. It’s a very effective but easy to use setup that avoids some common problems with ordinary three-band EQ circuits, and you’ll figure it out quite quickly.

The most impressive thing about an all-around impressive pedal is how responsive it is to what’s going on at the guitar. You can dial in a massive, brutal sound but roll back the volume on the guitar and it cleans up to a more restrained distortion, then a dynamic crunch, and even to a clean with just a hint of grit around the edges.

Here’s a clip of it. I probably should have lowered the internal low-bass a little bit for the recording, as a mike an inch away picks up flub that the ear ten feet away doesn’t hear, but this sounds so incredibly huge in the room that I’d just be adjusting it right back anyway. Hopefully you’ll dig its sound, I certainly do

Settings were:

Volume at roughly unity gain
Treble at 11 o’clock-noonish
Bass at noon or a little after it
Gain at 3/4
Low-bass at 7ish

Bonus clip: as you might expect from my description of it, it has a naturally amp-like sound and response. To demonstrate this I have recorded a clip of just the Dirty Bomb into my audio interface, then into a 4×12 cabinet IR. The settings are identical to the ones used above. Most pedals used in this way would sound like junk because most pedals rely on the amplifier’s voicing in order to end up with a good tone. This one has a strong character of its own, which coincidentally pretty much ensures that it will sound good with any clean amp you use it with (in conjunction with the flexible tone controls).

Side note: It turns out there are FOURTY EIGHT pedals across the various modelers I use, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for being a bit late on getting that done. I worked late last night but did not get it finished, so it’ll have to wait until Sunday when I get back from Mid-South Philosophy Conference in Memphis.

Two new free amp sims

April 14, 2009

The first is the long-awaited Nick Crow 5150-inspired amplifier sim, 7170 Lead. Stick a cab sim after it (I recommend Aradaz’ OUR Cabinet Sim if you need a freebie), and prepare for sonic mayhem. Like the amp it’s modeling, it takes no prisoners – if you thought Nick’s Wagner and Wagner II were heavy, just wait ’til you hear this.

He’s got it up at his (new?) Google page:
Go grab it! And if you like it, why not donate? 🙂

The second, a sim which I helped make through beta testing (of course all the real work was done by Ken, it’s easy to throw suggestions and comments at a coding workaholic, haha, the hard work is trying to make sense of everyone’s suggestions and get a finished product that makes sense for everyone, and that’s all on him!), and which started from humble beginnings (a request for a single 12AX7 plugin) and developed through user and tester suggestions to become a comprehensive free guitar amp suite with clean and dirty sims, highly tweakable gain and EQ, competent noise reduction and even freely adjustable stereo delay: DualIntegratedGain 2.0, or just DIG 2.0.

I’ve got the 2.0 release candidate and I can tell you you’re going to like it, it’s every bit as tweakable as a commercial amp sim and it has a great tone. It can be either smooth or cutting, thanks to some of the innovations that Ken made when developing his commercial amp sim, Guts, that are incorporated into DIG. The built-in Cabinet Shaper can be used to get a DI-style cabinet sound if you’re going for that, or used as a three-band additional parametric EQ, or just bypassed completely if you’re like me and you have a big IR library of cabinets that you would rather use. In fact, nearly everything is bypassable and tweakable, but in such a way as anyone can use the software – you don’t have to be an amp tech to get the most out of DIG 2.0’s tweakable functions. Ken puts a big emphasis on making the user experience welcoming, and it has made the software very easy to get along with.

It should be publicly released today over at the DIG thread on GuitarAmpModeling. Right now you can already test drive an earlier version, but the real deal is definitely 2.0.

Some of you might be saying “Dude, where oh where is the amp sim dirt comparison?” To which I can only reply, it’s coming. This is the final month of my final year of being an undergraduate, there’s just so much to do, it’s crazy! But I’m trying to find time for play (and since I’m not getting paid for any of this, I do consider it part of my “fun” activities – though I do feel obligated to y’all and I hate making promises that I have trouble keeping). After graduation things will be much easier going, and it won’t be nearly so hard to get quality content coming out here and at FrugalGuitarist too.

A quick heads-up

April 10, 2009

It looks like Musician’s Friend is blowing out a dated but still good version of IK Multimedia’s Total Studio Software Bundle as their Stupid Deal of the Day, today. Yesterday it cost $600, today it costs $300. It would be a comprehensive software suite for someone who wanted to get into working with music.  It looks like they’ve also

A couple quickie AT:Fender clips (comprehensive pedals showcase in the works still!)

April 6, 2009

I just recorded two more clips today, of a Catalinbread Hyperpak Dirty Channel I just got in the mail into the Amplitube Fender Bassman RI. No post-processing at all, this is just Guitar->Pedal->DI->Virtual Amp with a few Amplitube effects thrown in for character.

Two clips, one of this strat’s bridge JB jr. humbucker, and one of its Lace Blue neck pup. It’s a two knob pedal, and the settings on it remain the same for both clips throughout: Volume at noon, Drive at 3/4. I change the guitar’s volume throughout the clips, should be obvious when I do it. Basically a lot of noodling trying to show how it reacts to different volume output from the guitar and picking dynamics with two pickups in my strat, nothing too exciting but hopefully it gets the point across.

Ask yourself – does that sound like a pedal into a real amp?

If I hadn’t told you, could you have reliably guessed?

I think those are the really important questions when it comes to modelers. If it does the trick and can’t be distinguished from that which it is modeling if you don’t know what you’re hearing, I think it has to be considered successful.

That concluded, I’m moving forward with the next update, which will be a showcase (not a shootout) of the different overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals from the various programs, all run into one quality freeware clean amp and cabinet to make the comparison as fair as possible. I think it’ll be a really fun article, going to have a LOT of clips in it for sure! I’ll try to keep the individual clips to a minute or less so that it isn’t painful and time-consuming to my readers beyond what’s necessary to demonstrate the sound of the pedal models.

I know I said it’d be update day today, but…

April 1, 2009

My thesis oral defense is tomorrow, and I’ve got a lot of preparing to do! So it’ll be more like Friday, to be quite honest, as my next priority is getting reviews to Will at Frugal for publication. He’s an understanding guy but I’m surely pushing it 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a demo I did for Tom at, showing off his new Great Wall fuzz (with a brief appearance from his AB-Synth too). Amps used were all from Amplitube Fender. TBP-1 for the bass amp, on its “Vintage” (Twin-inspired) mode, and the ’59 Bassman RI model for the guitar track. The drums were done with Toontrack EZdrummer, with grooves from GrooveMonkee’s incredible libraries. Such a time saver for me. Mastering was done with T-Racks 3 Deluxe on the master buss, as well as a few free plugins as inserts here and there (notably Pocket Limiter by TBT on the drum track).

Settings on the pedal are indicated.

Full demo track (guitar and bass)

The audio track got mangled by Youtube’s compression, so I’ve remastered it in the hopes that this version will make it through less molested. The video has not been updated yet, I will edit when it has, but here is the correct audio track for the demo.

not so great sounding video here, but it tells you all the settings used

Bass & drums track only – hear the full bass fuzz here!