Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: January 2006

January 7, 2006

DIY Crossroads. Just add mojo.

by Chris Randall

So I built a Dallas Rangemaster clone today. I used, as usual, the plans from General Guitar Gadgets, and ordered the parts I didn't have (namely the OC44 germanium transistor) from Small Bear Electronics like always. Took about an hour to build all told; I think this is the simplest pedal I've done yet. (I don't bother with a PCB for these easy projects; I just build 'em on veroboard. If I had a PCB it probably would have taken about 15 minutes.)

In any case, once I booted it up, I was sort of stunned stupid by the Cream-ness of it. As soon as I sent signal through it I realized that the sound is kind of played, which is a drag because I spent $7 on a transistor for it. It makes the Crossroads tone, and that's about it. If you play anything else through it, it kind of sounds whack, but if you play Crossroads through it, it sounds amazing.

After fucking with routing a bit, I got some really cool tones from Orange Squeezer -> Rangemaster, but I don't think I could pull it off live, as it involved a lot of knob twiddling on the guitar, and that's a drag in a live situation. So, word to the wise: don't bother with a Rangemaster unless you're in a Cream cover band. By the by, I have a joke for you:

Q: How are Ginger Baker and 7/11 coffee alike?

A: They both suck without Cream.

January 7, 2006

Synapse online

by Chris Randall

For those of you that have a lot of free time you're looking to waste, you could do worse than browsing the archives of Synapse Magazine, the seminal 70s music technology rag. Cynthia from Cyndustries has graciously devoted quite a bit of bandwidth to complete scans of several issues. Fantastic contemporary interviews with Herbie Hancock, Zappa, Bob Moog, Eno, etc., as well as a generous dose of reviews of (then new) synthesizers like the OB-1. The ads are, I think, the best part. Check out this one from ARP, "Only The Strong Survive." A good way to spend a rainy afternoon.

(Since I live in the Western Oregon mono-season, every afternoon is rainy.)

January 6, 2006

Wiki, Wiki, Wiki...

by Chris Randall

KvR has started a Wiki for music/tech. Interestingly enough, there are no entries yet for how to make the Cher vocal sound, the most effective use of a "trance gate," or which is better, Fruit Loops or Acid. Well, all things come to those who wait...

I dunno. KvR is a useful resource for certain things, and I read the front page every day, but the thought of the KvR community writing a Wiki is like the kids from Lord Of The Flies being put in charge of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

January 6, 2006

Plate Reverb... just plug in.

by Chris Randall

This is one of those things where I guess I knew in the back of my head there must be somebody making 'em. It just never occurred to me to look. Have a gander at Platesonics, AFAIK the only current builder of plate reverbs. And, while I'll grant that there's no EMT 140 in their arsenal, these guys make some inexpensive plate 'verbs, and judging from the MP3s they're not bad at all.

So ditch that IR and get yourself a #2400 Chamber Room for $692.

January 5, 2006

Hard-Core Gear Porn Friday!!!

by Chris Randall

Sorry, no wall of modulars today. I figured since 90% of what we (and I mean the royal "we," as in "me") talk about here is recording technology, I thought this week I'd send you to the mecca of same, the Phantom Productions Museum, a building in Texas basically devoted to the preservation of reel-to-reel tape decks. The museum started as a working recording studio and mobile recording service in 1964, and still continues that same line of work. But what's cool is Martin Theophilus' collection of vintage mics and tape decks. He has everything from an Edison wax cylinder recorder on up to present-day gear, including dozens of reel-to-reel decks of varying vintage.

If you take the time to browse the collection (reached by clicking the button coincidentally labelled "collection") you'll see that he's thoughtfully scanned in vintage ads and catalog pages for most of the items. Especially interesting are the microphones, and their attendent ads. You can also pick up some vintage pillbox mics for quite reasonable sums on his "For Sale" page. (I'm gonna regret mentioning that, I'm sure. Those won't be around for long now that I've said it.) In short, the Phantom site is a pleathora of Gear Porn and information, and is well worth a visit.


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