Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Webste work, podcasts and so on

I'm in the process of updating websites and getting two more podcasts of the ground.

Back in May of 2011 I started a podcast called "pretty good gig" and it has taken off nicely. With a tag line of "interviews and conversations with musical people" it has been great fun interviewing friends and folks I've never met. Musicians, producers, and anybody who has some connection to music and the music business.

UFOfarm is another project of mine. I started exploring instrumental music heavy with synths, drum loops, moody echoes, jazz influenced sax - just a wide open musical carnival. My tag line description of this is "music for technicolor daydreaming." I decided to add a podcast and plan to also do some video stuff on youtube and ustream with live performance, studio views and descriptions of the process.

On my own personal site I've decided to add a podcast to called "Bill Kahler's Acoustic Corner" and the tag is "stories around the songs and techniques inside the music." I will be talking about how the songs came together, tunings, recording process and various stories. Another free style mish mash! There will also be connections to ustream and already there are links to youtube where views total in the thousands of capo techniques.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Forever from the Ultimate Guitar Forum! Forever! OOOooo!

So I've been spreading the word about the pretty good gig podcast, interviews and conversations with musical people. The two most recent podcasts feature Tim Berens and Doug Jones - two really great guitarists with plenty of information to share with other guitarists. So I decided to post on the Ultimate Guitar Forum. The rules said no URLs so I did not put any in the post. I got the following email:

Hello Bill Kahler,

We're sorry to inform you that your account has been banned forever by Carmel. In the current case, you've significantly broke Ultimate-Guitar.Com website rules. In fact, here is the reason you've been banned for:
advertising account.

Additionally, you can not post comments and rate songs on Ultimate-Guitar'com members profiles during the period of you ban.

UG Team

Wow, strong eh? Seems to me the very reason for having a forum is to spread information and help members connect to resources like hmmm. . . podcasts that have educational info etc. I was not exactly advertising - the podcast is free. I am trying to connect with musicians and offer and educational, informative and entertaining musical podcast! I guess sending messages out like the one I received makes the Ultimate Guitar Forum moderators feel special and elite! Banned forever! How will I ever get any sleep now?

Then I decide to write an email back:

Wow you guys are strung pretty tight! Sorry for trespassing on your elitist organization. I merely wanted to let folks know of a very interesting, entertaining and professionally done podcast that has much educational info and many of the episodes are guitar related with world class musicians! It's free. I was not trying to use your precious forums for my own personal gain, I only (wrongly) thought that your forum might have in its mission statement something about expanding guitar knowledge and connections with other musicians.

Bill Kahler

and got this reply: ( I love the "people like you" phrase.)

Dear Bill,
Our website runs on advertisers that pay in order to get their websites on our pages.
If people like you register to gain FREE advertisements, for gain or no gain, we will lose our paid advertisements that keep the website running.
Forum Administrator

Thursday, September 9, 2010

response to previous post

Tess from Sonicbids left this comment and for some reason it never showed up so I pasted this from the email:

Tess has left a new comment on your post "Sonicbids, Taxi - worth the money? Scams?":

Hi Bill, Tess here - I'm the Community Manager at Sonicbids. Wanted to post a note here for you and address a couple of your concerns.

Your comments on the venues/submission fees are ones we’ve heard before – so we’ve taken a lot of the feedback we’ve gotten and we are actually getting rid of submission fees for most of the venues and more accessible promoters you mention. The $2-10 fees you see for gigs like that were instituted as filters originally to prevent spam, but now we're shifting gears and turning them to No Cost listings and are currently in the works of developing the right kind of filters for these. As we do this, we already have over 150 No Cost Listings on Sonicbids. You can read some comments from Panos (our CEO/founder) on his blog about this initiative:

Also, sorry if you felt blindsided by your recent membership charge. Our membership plans are just like a gym membership where you set it up and it auto-renews you when your period is up. If you want, I can take care of that for you. Just send me an email. (tess at sonicbids dot com)

Thanks – hope this helps!

Nice note. Still, you pay a membership, submit to a gig that only pays in tips, and you could just call them on the phone. For that matter why even go through the trouble of a free gig unless you think you can sell some product and make some tips. And, you can call some of those places on the phone yourself. It just doesn't seem like the kind of gig that most folks need help getting.

I find it interesting the way she compares the auto renewal to a gym membership. Health clubs are notorious for their automatic renewal of fees and make it very difficult to cancel at times. Their main interest is signing new members, just like Taxi and Sonicbids.

Additionally Sonicbids claims to have Nashville connections but in reality music submitted to Nashville publishers is never done in person. It goes into a drop box and then into the trash. Same thing for Taxi. Nashville publishers really have no interest in checking out outside submissions. They have writers on staff that they pay to write songs, usually on a draw. The only way they get this money back is if they get cuts on songs those writers.

I'm not saying either service is a scam or anything of the sort but I have plenty of musician friends with simlar stories and who eventually dropped memberships.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sonicbids, Taxi - worth the money? Scams?

A couple things bother me about Sonicbids.The membership renewal without prior notification is the main reason I dropped them. I realize there is the "fine print on the contract" and so on but the first notice I had of renewal was on my credit card statement and I did not appreciate feeling like the fee was "sneaked past me."

Secondly, many of the venues you have to pay to submit to are a total waste of time. I have played many of the places listed and it was easy to book dates there with a phone call. Paying to submit to a place that does not pay anything makes no sense to me. Who makes money on these listings? The venue and Sonic Bids.

Might be too strong to call it a scam. . . might not. It is obvious that there is a bigger advantage to Sonicbids and many of the venues than there is for a musician or performer.

In some ways this is similar to Taxi, whose main goal is to sign up members, not to do the thing they sell. If you talk to publishers in Nashville about Taxi, they will tell you they have writers on staff and thousands of the worlds best writers at their fingertips. Why would they spend time going through Taxi submissions?

Friday, June 11, 2010

one music career strategy for the just out of college set

I heard an idea once from Alan Rowoth that I thought was brilliant was advice to a young singer/songwriter which could apply to a band. "Young" being the key adjective.

After college or so, pick a major metro area to live in that has a huge music scene within a one day drive. You could live in the Philly area and play New York, Boston etc. Live there for 2 or3 years until you know the town and gigs inside out and build a large email list and then move to another area like maybe Chicago, going back to play favorite Philly, Boston, N.Y. venues ocasionally. Next move again, maybe to San Francisco. Repeat.

By the time everybody is in their late 20's or early 30's the band, or duo or solo act will have enough places to play to make a living with three geographic locations as far as touring.

Lots of work but very doable if you have a dedicated band. (The idea probably works best for duos and solos obviously.)

Podcast tip for itunes

All week I struggled with getting my podcast up on itunes - I set up hosting through, installed wordpress, and used feedburner to establish the RSS feed. It looks like feedburner would have all you need but I could not get my image to show up in itunes! No artwork at all. I also was missing the author tag and some other stuff.

While searching around I saw dozens of posts that said "can't get my image to appear in itunes using feedburner, wordpress etc."

During my search I came across powerpress which was rated very highly, so I installed it and struggled with that for days. Nothin'! Nada!

While looking at the site for the podcast called audionowcast, one I really am a fan of, for the information and humor about all things audio, I discovered they used podpress which was not as highly rated but should be at the top in my opinion because everything came together after installing that plug in. I did end up using a separate player for the mp3s of the podcast, and I also installed my itunes image in the wordpress "Resources" folder. If I had this step by step along with the other info I found about starting a podcast such as the Apple podcast help, it would have saved me 20+ hours of fiddling.

Lastly, to get an image to show up in album art on the itunes page, you embed the jpg in the mp3 file. With the file loaded into the itunes program, click on get info for that file, choose album artwork, drag the image to that location. The artwork shows up in the little box on the bottom left of the itunes view. After that upload this new mp3 to your podcast site. I had already done 4 episodes, so I had to reload the mp3 files and change the name of each one too.

Still working on trying to get the image to show up in search results!

This week was like a college course! Hope this helps!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

pretty good gig podcast

Announcing my brand new podcast - pretty good gig. Check it out at The show features interviews and conversations with musical people - a behind the scenes look at gigging, songwriting, recording and working in all kinds of situations as a musician. Should be searchable on itunes very soon, but you can still subscribe to it through itunes. Instructions are on the site.

First interview is with James Casto with a hilarious look at playing the Conyers Georgia Fall Festival and the prisoner skit. Show #2 features Justin Kahler talking about attending SAE audio recording school and working in a studio. Then show #3 features Charles Williams of the Bonaventure Quartet and his work with Bernadette Seacrest. Lots of stuff about Django and gypsy jazz.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So I had a letter published in Tape Op about my Native Instruments gripe

But they edited the letter and here is what was left out:

I totally agreed with what Larry Crane replied to the part of the letter that was published but
I had just spent the money for the upgrade on the software a short time before they ended the product. I'm sure they knew they were selling an upgrade to a product that was going away. Might as well have burned some 20's in my front yard! I just think it's reasonable for a company to give you a heads up on when they are discontinuing something, since you have to register etc. and they have contact info.

Additionally, the $60 product they mentioned is pretty cool, but why didn't N.I. tell me about it? Seems like the company is a little screwy when it comes to customer service.

Then on the other hand, I bought some way out of date IK Multimedia software for 50 bucks, and they gave me a download link for the latest version of the 400 buck mastering software! Which company do you think I am going to buy from?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Great customer service from IK Multimedia! Just the opposite of Native Instruments

So I picked up a copy of T-Racks Mastering software. Bought it online and the description seemed to suggest it would work with my current Mac OS. When the box showed up, I had my doubts. (I am using Mac OS 10.5.6 and the box actually said it would work with OS 9!)

I called Musician's Friend where I had purchsed the software and asked them if it was compatible and they said I would have to ask the tech department. I asked if they could transfer my call. No, I would have to email them because they can't take calls! (?)

So I emailed them and received a message that someone would get back to me within one business day. (That was a week ago and I still haven't heard back.)

I really wanted to try the software so I emailed IK Multimedia. Received a reply in about half an hour! They told me I probably had version 2 and when I registered the serial number they would send me a download link that would work with my system.

When I was registering the number, it looked like I actually had version 1 and I thought, oh no, I had just wasted my money on an outdated version. I really expected to find out I would have to buy a new version or at the least, purchase an upgrade.

Immediately I was sent a link for downloading the version 3 of the software, which installed easily with no problems, and more importantly, sounds fantastic!

Way to go IK Multimedia. You just won another faithful supporter. Native Instruments should take a lesson from you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everything is changing - haven't listened to the radio in a year because of all the great podcasts!

It is so cool to listen to something that is very similar to radio except it's exactly the programming you want and there are no commercials! Heck, ya might even learn something.

Here are some of my favorite podcasts:
A Prairie Home Companion's The News From Lake Wobegon (If you never heard Garrison Keilor tell a story, you are missing out.)
CD Baby DIY Musician's Podcast (Great stuff about marketing and promotion and the journey as a musician)
EM Cast (From Electronic Musician Magazine)
Inside Home Recording (Cool recording show)
New Yorker: Fiction (Great for long drives in the car - one story equals 60 to 80 miles or so!)
Sessions With Slau (More recording stuff - very cool)
Sonictalk (And more - this one with a Brit twist to it though there are a couple Yanks)
Sonicstate (Video podcast of gear reviews, recording, synths, guitar stuff, studio tours - very well done)
Sound On Sound (Along with TapeOp, the best recording/tech mag there is - this is their podcast, again a bit of the Brit)
This American Life (NPR's show about things you might never imagine, sometimes interesting and sometimes riveting, with subjects all over the map. Ira does a fine job!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I don't understand how a company can have such terrible support. It's like buying something from a guy on the street who takes your mmoney and then you never see him again!

Got the upgrade message for Pro Tools 8.0.1 LE and after upgrading my system locked up because the Native Instruments B4II is not compatible with the upgrade. Had to drag it out of my plugins folder. The worst part is N.I. is NO LONGER SUPPORTING THIS PLUG AND OTHERS. Arrggh! More money wasted on software that now is obsolete. I bought the B4 originally, then paid for the upgrade (less than a year ago) and now it's vapor. I will never buy another N.I. product again. I realize it's difficult to keep up with all the system upgrades etc. but isn't that what a company is in for when they go into this business? I am disgusted with this lack of support from N.I.!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Web promo suggestion to fellow songwriters

While watching a trailer on HBO there was a song playing that had the words "You addict me" in the chorus. There were some other lyrics that are now fading from my head like waking up from a dream. I thought it was a cool song and a great time to check it out on itunes. Couldn't find it.

I searched a while more and then wondered, if an artist whose song is on HBO is impossible to find doing a lyric search, what about me? So I googled one of my own oddball lyrics and it didn't come up. Then another - Nada. But on the third one I tried, from a more recnt CD, it came up on (Check it out.)

Turns out it's a good idea to put your lyrics on your site somewhere in case someone hears a song of yours and wants to download it on itunes.

Of course that's just my opinion and I realize a lot of songwriters are afraid their songs are going to get stolen. Probably not. The bad thing is, no one will know about them at all.

Hammond Pro 44 update

So I finally got the extension tube for the Pro 44. It took a bunch of emails and calls to customer service before I finally got a reply. I was told I had to order the part (#MP-181) from a Hammond dealer. Strangest thing about it was that since it was drop shipped from Hammond, they couldn't tell me any details on cost!

I gave my credit card number and a couple weeks later got the package. Inside was a tube very much like the flexible gooseneck hose that originally came with the 44, only shorter - about 8" long. When you bend it and insert the flexible plastic hose, you gain about 2 - 3" which helps with the bending-over-playing position but it's not exactly ideal.

Originally I guessed the part would probably cost about $15 plus a few bucks for shipping. Ah, but hammond is really proud of their stuff and their price on this was $36! They apparently are very proud of their shipping too because for a one pound package shipped UPS ground they charged another $16, bringing the price for this up to $52 and the total for the Hammond Pro 44 to $602! Holy smokes.

This will be my last Hammond purchase I believe.

Had I known all this on the outset, I certainly would have figured a way to attach contact mics to my Hohner $125 melodica instead.

Then again, if one pays 10 times more for a Jaguar than a Honda, one doesn't get a 10 times better car. . . .

Please visit

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hammond Pro 44 melodion review - the good and the not-so-good

I've been a big fan of melodicas - nothing else sounds quite like them - a cross between a harmonica and an accordion. Their sound can be quite mood evoking in the right settings with the right amount of reverb o echo or whatever.

I just picked one of these up and the first thing I have to say is it wasn't cheap. I bought my first melodica in 1978 for 10 or 20 bucks. My second purchase was about 8 or 9 years ago for a Hohner that's not too bad and it was about $125. They were glorified toys really.

The Suzuki Hammond is $550 right now! Phew! But, you get what you pay for right? Sort of.

So what's the deal? Well, after reading the review in Keyboard magazine I decided it was going to be a cool addition to my instrument arsenal, and it was right around my birthday so I had the perfect justification.

It's much more of an instrument than my other melodica. The sound is at least 75% better, fuller richer. The wood finish looks like the fine wood grain on a Lexus (key words -" looks like " - it's really plastic), and the internal mic seemed like a good thing to have when playing with a band. The keys feel pretty good an don't click and clack like the Hohner but they are thinner and smaller than the Hohner! ?

The Keyboard review talked about the tone, volume, keys and was overall very positive. While the info in the review was true, there were many things Michael Gallant failed to mention.

The air hose is cheap, like a Mattel toy, and it's really short. You have to hunch over while playing the thing if it's sitting on your piano. Hammond says they are looking into an extension. We'll see - I hope so. They said it may take 30 days before one is available. I'm hoping they aren't just saying this so that the short tube comments don't start showing up on the forums, denting possible sales. I will keep you posted as to whether this problem gets worked out. This is a real make-or-break deal for me. (Hammond, are you listening?) If an extension hose or another hose all together is not offered, I will be left to rigging up my own air hose with some Home Depot shopping. An item that is played by blowing into it is not returnable. Truth be told, I'm not sure I would return it if I could - I really do like the thing. But. . . .

The goose neck air tube is heavy and awkward - so I far I can't see any use for it. Interestingly, the 44 is louder with the goose neck than it is with the air hose - probably because more air can get through it.

The mouthpiece is a cheap-feeling piece of plastic. I would have expected some sort of replaceable cork and a hard rubber mouthpiece similar to a saxophone type set up.

It is quite prone to feedback and it is quite a challenge when playing with a loud band. It is controllable but tricky.

The volume control is on the right hand side makes no sense. (My Moog also has this. Do the designers ever go out and play the prototypes of instruments? Sems like they could figure out a volume control on the left makes way more sense.)

The backpack design of the gig bag is really weird. Is anyone really going to put a strap over each shoulder and wear this 3 lb. instrument bag like a backpack? (I picture little kids walking to school - but these would be spoiled little kids to have such an expensive toy.) It should have one decent strap and a better handle. (Designers again - how would you carry this thing? Do straps make sense?) I will be looking into some sort of case for it to protect it better. Again, this should have been more thought out. This is a really small thing.

In my opinion, for $550, it should be an overall better instrument. I like it but I'm somewhat disappointed so far - if it were $250 I'd be fine with it. I can overlook straps on the gig bag - who cares? I can deal with controlling the feedback - turn it off when not in use etc. I could probably rig up a better mouthpiece system with the help of my instrument repair guy. The biggest let down is that darn air hose. It should have been longer and of better quality. What happens if the cheap plastic gets a tear in it and they no longer make the 44? Home Depot again!

I am beginning to suspect manufacturers get a nod and a wink in Keyboard magazine reviews for an exchange in ad revenue. I'm told by the editor this isn't so. Check out my previous notes about the stuck-in-the-eighties-bad-key-action Juno Stage. Keyboard raved about this one as well.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Just built an LA2A clone using a PCB and T4 module from It sounds fantastic - very quiet, clean and smooth. Makes a vocal sound like chocolate cream pie! Took these pics while doing a few tweaks.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Macbook to Airport Extreme connection problem

After struggling with this problem for months, I finally fixed it. My Macbook would connect to the wrong network when waking from sleep or turning on the Airport card. I looked all over the net trying to find a way to fix it and the close but no cigar answer was "select preferred networks instead of automatic with your network as the preferred one," etc.

That didn't do it, even when I set it all up and locked it. One post said to delete other networks in the preferred category and another said to delete all other WAP password protected networks.

What finally worked for me was to delete ALL the preferred networks inclding my own using the minus sign and then using the plus sign I added my own. Once this was all set up, I was able to switch back to automatic and so far it's been a smashing success that only took hours and hours of teeth grinding. Why Apple couldn't have this info on their web site I don't know.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How to look like a fool while meeting Jeff Foxworthy

A couple weeks ago, I was playing in a restaurant with a friend of mine, Jeep Hook, when Jeff Foxworthy happened to come in with his wife. (At least I think she was is wife.)

So we're on about the second song of the evening, and I think "I should give him a CD!" Huh. How am I going to do that? Then I look in my bag and happen to have only one with me, so I set it aside.

We play a couple more songs. About that time I'm thinking to myself, "Shoot, what if he leaves when we're in the middle of a tune?" And suddenly, he leaves. Now I have only seconds until the valet brings his car around.

At the gig, I'm using a looper on the piano, so I can hit a switch and play sax while the loop is playing. I hit the switch to turn on the loop and run outside with the CD - luckily, our set up place is an afterthought right by an exit door. I'm pretty sure fire code would make that spot illegal for setting up musicians, but there we are.

So I run outside and say something like "Sorry to bother you but I wanted to give you a CD with a song on it that is right up your alley. It's called "Doyle, Loretta, and the Alligator Farm." He says, "Really? Gee thanks." (The song is available on itunes. . .nudge, nudge. . .)

I run back in where Jeep is playing bass and the loop is running, and start singing while laughing my head off about how I looked like an idiot and how funny that during the set I actually left the building with a keyboard loop playing and no one even noticed.

So far he hasn't called but I expect any day now, he will have his assitant call to see if I would like to go on the road with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour! . . .not!

Check out my Christmas song "Christmas Eve in the Trailer Park" at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Am I the only one who wants a recording interface without preamps?

Hello interface manufacturers! I'm looking to upgrade my recording chain and have some very good racked up preamps. I would love something I could use that would allow me to output the signal from the pre and go into the computer but all I see on the market are these devices with 8 preamps and an ADAT in. What's up with that? Compromise I guess, for the home recordist who wants it all in one package for $499. Digidesign makes you use their hardware - that kind of locks a guy in doesn't it?

I have been using a Roland VS2480 - pretty cool box all in all but would really like to take it up a notch. Guess I'll keep looking.

Roland Juno Stage review

Roland used to be my favorite company but I feel they have once again missed the boat. Finally got to try one of these at G.C. the other day and I was less than impressed. Weak piano sounds, 80's synth sounds, odd length keys that didn't feel right for organ or piano. . . and way over priced. $1350 - 1400 for this thing? C'mon! I had really hoped it would be the answer to a quick keyboard set up with a lot of options but it seems everything it has is a compromise. No thanks, I'll continue the extra effort of setting up my P-90, Moog Little Phatty and Alesis QS7. The Alesis is really my least favorite but the organ and synthy string sounds are OK in a band setting. I run the organ through a Boss Rotary pedal, P-90 sometimes gets a phaser, and the Moog goes through my Akai Headrush for the echo stuff.

Digitech Jamman beats Boss RC 20 XL

Digitech Jamman is so much smoother than the Boss Looper - got it yesterday and it doesn't have the stutter that the RC 20 XL has. The only thing the Boss had going for it was the reverse feature but I really didn't need that.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Boss Loop pedal RC-20XL question, review

OK for messing around at home but unusable as a live looping tool. When I record a pass with the left pedal and hit the left pedal again it plays what was just recorded but there is a stutter - 40 to 60 ms before it actually kicks in. I sent one back because it was defective. Sometimes would not pass audio at all and a couple other problems. The second one still had the stuuter problem. A rep at Roland told me his did not stutter but a rep at Musician's Friend said he had a friend who had a stuttering pedal too. Roland is a good company but they missed the boat on this one. The Akai Headrush which I also own, is a great pedal but you only get 24 seconds of looping. See my post on the Headrush.

AT Pro 37 microphone review, Rode NT1-A

Kept hearing about the Audio Technica Pro 37s and finally picked up a pair for a little over 200 bucks. They sound amazing on guitar and piano - like a clear window to the sound of the instrument.

Also got a pair of the Rode NT1-a mics - very nice indeed. RMC Audio had the pair for $238. Used them on my Yamaha U3 piano and was really pleased. Looking forward to trying them on drum overheads.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yamaha U3 piano - poor man's grand?

I did a session in 2007 at a studio in Atlanta called Sonica - great studio and a fantastic engineer - Johnny B.! Anyways, shortly after arriving I went in to check out the piano. It was one of these. On the first break we took, a friend of mine, Michael Wynne, producer, started kidding around with me about all the gear etc. and asked me what I thought I would buy after this. I said a Yamaha U3!

Johnny and I both bought ours through DoReMi Pianos in FL. He got his direct and I got mine through a really good dealer - Atlanta Pianos, Bill Davidow.

If you don't have the budget or the space, a U3 is the way to go. Fantastic action and sound - very balanced, bright full but warm. Sits in a track easily. DoReMi and a couple others get these from Japan and refurbish them. Mine was made in 1976 and folks all over are surprised when I tell them it isn't new. You can pick them up for $2500 or so and they play like new. I use a couple Oktava 012 microphones through a Brent Averill 1272 pre and Johnny uses Earthworks mics.

If you take off the front and aim a couple mics at the soundboard a foot or two away, this piano sounds fantastic! Pay no attention to dealers that use terms like "gray market." Japan has air conditioning just like the U.S.

I've had mine for about a year, four seasons in the ATL area and have had zero problems with it, except for a crooked thief tuner/repair guy who said I needed new bass strings and had loose pins. Not true, but he needed the money. He'll get no money from me of course!

This piano is really terrific and you can check out sounds on my web site but the best are on James Casto's projects we've been working on. You won't believe it! Recorded on cheapo mics in a less than perfect room, it sounds like a grand sitting on hardwood floors!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bose L1 tower review, Bose system in the Infinifi G35

I just felt I had to voice my opinion about these systems. A lot of folks rave about them but I think they are awful! I have played through many of them in different rooms as a solo piano/vocalist over the last couple years.

The high end that sounds really harsh to me - sort of a crispy metallic high end. The
rumbling low end has no definition, and the whole system has almost no midrange where the voice and the middle of the piano need to be in a mix. Think about it - how can you achieve a defined low end with a sub? You can't. How can you get warm mids from tiny metal speakers? You can't.

The cool thing is they get the sound all around the room - but then again, some people sit in the back to talk and not hear the music so much.

The systems are really expensive for what you get when you compare a pair of speakers and a mixer at almost half the price. They are not so easy to set up - and really not that hard either, and they really aren't all that light. They take up a ton of floor space in one area. The technology is pretty cool, but the sound is less than great in my humble opinion. (I've been playing in clubs for 32 years and making a solid living at it for 25.)

My wife has an Infiniti G35 that has a Bose system too. Used to be the old saying "no highs no lows, it must be Bose." Her car is so bass heavy it's ridiculous - the CDs I listen to all the time sound terrible in her car. I have tried to adjust it but the problem is there is no graphic EQ, so if you take down the thunderous hip hop bass, you also take out the bass you need for a kick drum and bass guitar.

I'm not planning on spending any money on anything Bose in the near future. Sorry, I just don't get the hype. The prices are sky high!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Podcast play on WLSO FM

Here's a cool thing to try if you are a singer songwriter looking for exposure: Sign up at podsafe audio and upload some songs and you will most likely get some play and exposure to someone who might not normally ever hear about you.

Also check out Uncle Shag at WLSO FM - super nice guy and a music lover! Thanks Unc!
http://wlso. fm/wordpress/archives/1140

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tom Waits Glitter and Doom show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta

Before the show started there was music playing - sounded a bit odd. No surprise here but it was actually coming out of this large array of megaphone/bullhorns! A mono signal with only mids, no lows or highs, sounded like a bad dream!

Tom is really on his game for this tour. I saw him last year at the Tabernacle in Atlanta and this year's show was ten times better. Great staging, sound, theatrics. Fantastic show! The band was excellent and at times sounded like a small orchestra and Tom was doing a sort of Waits only style of conducting. Sometimes reminded me of a warped Broadway production!

He was up on a small circular stage that looked like a piece of antique discarded circus equipment and the lighting circle overhead was tilted so the shadows it cast were long and eerie. Tom looked like he was a skinny 7 feet tall. Around the stage he was on were some small round lights that reminded me of a rundown midway - they were a little crooked and none of them ever seemed to be lit all at once.

Casey Waits played drums and had a huge kit with tons of odd ball things around it. The keyboard player had a couple keyboards sitting inside of a hollowed out B3 looking cabinet. Some of the sounds were bizarre as you might expect. It was actually very cool how close the sound was to the strange atmospheres on his records.

Thee was a guy out front who played sax (sometimes two at once), harmonica, and guitar. Sullivan Waits came out and joined him a couple times playing clarinet. Must be odd touring with your dad and playing "... we're all gonna be dead in the ground" every night.

The musicians were really great and the guitar player played electric and acoustic and even a couple flamenco styled things. A guest guitarist came out for a few numbers - Larry Taylor. Sorry I didn't get all the names of the members.

Tons of cool visuals in this show. A flickering lightbulb dropped down for a song, dusty powder created a fog around Waits as he stomped, a bunch of glitter rained down and later in the show he donned a mirrored hat reflected light like a like a disco ball. Waits was very animated through the whole show with his occasional odd and funny stories.

Tom played a little bit of guitar, some piano and pump organ but mostly stood in the center of his stage and lead the whole thing like a ringleader conductor. A drunk guy sitting behind me, and kept kicking the back of my seat said at one point "What the hell is that?" with regard to the pump organ, along with a bunch of other comments. One of his comments I totally agree with: "Man, Tom Waits is brilliant!"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ribbon microphones, room reverb, Brent Averill, Seventh Circle Preamps, Potluck Audio Conference, figure 8, Aphex mic, Project Studio Network Podcast

Someone emailed me a bunch of questions - here are some of the answers:

vocal chain:
I use a Rode K2 tube mic through a Brent Averill 1272 preamp, sometimes through an 1176 compressor into my Roland recorder. By turning down the attenuation as far as it will go on the Roland, I am using as much of the 1272 as possible. Ideally I would bypass Roland preamps but you can't do it on those durn things.

I like stuff pretty dry, especially vocals, maybe a little room sound here and there on other stuff. For this CD, I hardly used any digital reverb at all and instead ran separate signals into a speaker in a large tile floor room and at the other end of the room put up a couple Oktava 012 mics. $50 each at G.C. - best deal ever but they don't sell them any more I don't think.

Anyway, then I brought up the real room reverb on a separate track so I could EQ it and control the amount. I like to change it occasionally for different parts of the song to make the choruses bigger than the verses and stuff like that.

I use the proximity effect for a fuller vocal - finding the optimum spot depending on the song.

Everybody's voice has their own mic - I have a friend who sounds better on a Shure 58 than anything else I have - through the Brent Averill of course.

I also made a bunch of pres from a company called Seventh Circle Audio and they are great.

The Fathead was pretty cool to start with but the Lundahl mod improved the quality about 30 - 35% in the highs, lows and overall clarity. I recently got two more Fatheads at the Pot Luck Audio conference in New Orleans - way cool event - next year it is June 12, 13, 14.

ribbon mics:
Ribbons work well for rounding off the edge - trumpet, tambourine, shaker, anything bright and harsh. I am planning on trying them for drum over heads because they're supposed to be really good for those.

They are also great for isolating guitar and voice when performed at the same time. They have a figure 8 pattern and the null side around the edge is deader than the deadest point on a cardiod pattern.

I don't know about the Cascade turbo thing but the ribbons need a lot of clean gain and tube pres can be noisy so I wouldn't recommend those. There is a way to use a Mackie mixer coming out of the inserts and not going through all the electronics - pretty clean way to go and not bad - cheap.

AT 4033:
The 4033 is a great all around mic - I think it has only one pattern. It's pretty bright, can take a lot of SPL, built well. I got one of those new from the factory from a seller on ebay for 225.
4033 runs on phantom power, Fathead doesn't. They really are totally different.

There is a really cheap condenser called an AT 2020 or a Studio Reference or something - $99!

Also Aphex makes a tube mic that sells for around 150 or so that is very close to a $3000 Telefunken. Check out PSN's podcast for info.

A stupid solder maneuver

I mentioned the delay in the last post. Well, when I dug it out of the mothballs, the battery was dead and it wouldn't hold any settings or presets. I do quite a bit of electronic type suff so i thought shoot, I'll just replace the battery. I ordered it from Mouser- a great supplier and proceeded to do one of the stupidest things ever. I tried to solder the tabs directly to the battery! NEVER DO THIS.

I couldn't get the solder to hold so I looked up some stuff on ye olde internet. That's when I was reminded batteries can explode when heat iss applied. My face was about a foot away and I was not wearing goggles. STUPID MOVE. By some incredible stroke of luck the battery did not explode and I still have my eyesight. This move continues to haunt me though. Please be careful.

I ended up ordering another battery with solder tabs especially mde for this, soldered it in wearing safety goggles.

DIY face-up -rackmount for keyboard stand shelf

I play keyboards and sax in some situations - quite a bit lately with a really good band - check us out at . It's sort of a rock band with lots of room for improvisation. I have this digital delay from a long time ago, you know, around the time they first came on the market? Anyway, I was trying to figure out a way I could control it and had it sitting on a shelf on a keyboard stand. Trouble is all the buttons and knobs were at waist level and it wasn't so easy.

I tried to figure out a way to prop it up so the controls would face up. That's when I realized, after a little measuring, I could cut a slot in my shelf the same size as the delay minus the rack ears which would keep it from sliding all the way through. So now I have a shelf for my mixer, delay, set list, flashlight and maybe a beer. The delay is 25 years old so this isn't a huge risk. I will try to remember to post a couple pictures of it very soon.

One of the best pieces of studio gear

Herman Miller Aeron chair. Now I can sit in the studio at the desk for 10 or 12 hours with no soreness! It's been really amazing. I've heard folks grumble about these but if you get the right size they are fantastic. I got a bargain on mine from a used office furniture place on craigslist.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Recording clean esses or tees on backing vocals

I'm amazed more people don't use this technique and you hardly ever hear about it. I even heard a James Taylor record where it wasn't used! It drives me crazy when I'm listening to a song and there are a bunch of vocals stacked and there is a word at the end of a phrase that ends with an "s" but every body cuts it off at a slightly different time. The listener hears this horrible flamming of esses. (Even if everybody cuts off at exactly the same time the esses start to build up way too much.) It doesn't have to be that way! Let the lead vocal do the "s" and the rest of the vocals take the "s" off the word. Simple! Same for any word that has a consonant like a "t" or a "k" etc. Have the backing vocals soften the attack or release. Individually they may sound odd but together they will sound much better.

Stompbox Cookbook

Some time ago, I got into building guitar effect pedals. It's a great hobby and I've actually used a lot of the boxes I've built. For over two years I've been looking for the Stompbox Cookbook at a reasonable price. It went out of print a while back and shows up occasionally on Amazon or Ebay for 2 or 3 or $400. After using Google book search I got a list of libraries that had the book in stock and participated in the interlibrary loan program. One week later I was able to pick the book up for free at my local library! I have it for a couple weeks and the only drawback is copying the book is illegal. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Podcasts and marketing music - free!

Recently I got an ipod nano and started checking out podcasts. I almost never listen to the radio any more because as Brian Tracy recommends - I've turned my car into a rolling university! Sounds corny but it's really cool and here in the Atlanta area where traffic is hell, it makes the drive so much easier when you feel like you're learning something instead of just wasting time crawling down the highway.

One of my favorite recording podcasts is the Project Studio Network. Sort of like Car Talk for recording geeks. Great reviews, interviews, and links to free stuff, which they somewhat annoyingly always announce with a freeeeee exclamation.

Car talk has a podcast and so does Garrison Keillor with the Prairie Home Companion. All free!

CD Baby has one - covering marketing, recording, performing, touring. CD Baby is a great company by the way for distribution of your CD or arranging downloads on iTunes etc.

Song School/ Folk Fest in August CO style!

If you are into songwriting, playing guitars and camping in some beautiful surroundings, check out Song School in Lyons CO - about 40 minutes northwest of Denver. What a great time! Many of the attendees go every year including me - this will be my 6th or 7th time. Classes are very good and rather loose and held in big tents . Instructors are fantastic and every night after the "open stage" song circles break out all over the campground.

Se in a red rock canyon with an incredible starry sky every night, it's impossible to beat - highly inspirational and plain fun! Only a short drive from Rocky Mountain National Park which is spectacular to see.

The school goes on Mon. - Thu. and then the festival happens Fri., Sat., Sun. Past performers include Steve Earle, Norah Jones, Randy Newman, Greg Brown.

Checkout got more info - it often sells out - not surprisingly.

Danelectro U2 reissue intonatable bridge mod

I'm starting to see a pattern here with the mods. . . Any way, I really like my Danelectro and it had a rosewood bridge that looked like it was collapsing, not to mention the intonation on some notes was a bit questionable. I bought an intonatable bridge from allparts on ebay for about $45 and it went right in place with ease. They make one that fits a bunch of different Danny guitars and no modification or drilling was needed on mine. I even used the same screws to set it on the body. I did find that when putting on the new strings I had to slowly tighten up one side and then the other so as to keep the bridge in the correct position All in all it was about a 20 minute job requiring no special tools.

I had heard that such a mod might change the tone but this was not the case at all. One additional bonus was the string windings no longer cut into my hand. I'm thinking about filing the setscrews down a bit to make that more comfortable too.

Fathead Ribbon Mic Mod

The Fathead Ribbon mic is a great deal. Sure a Royer or a Coles is going to sound better - a little, but they're also going to make your wallet thinner - a lot.

I got mine for $159 and the price is $199 now. (http://www.cascade

I listen to the Project Studio Network podcast quite a bit and they had a couple shows dealing with ribbons. I already owned the Cascade Fathead and was interested in what they had to say. A guy named Slau was very complimentary and when I heard the comparison of a Coles 4038 to a Fathead with a Lundahl transformer, I knew I had to mod my own. I got the new tranny a Lundahl 2912 from K&K Audio for $70 with shipping. ( Cascade will also do the mod for $150 or you can buy the upgraded model from them.

The mod took about half an hour. Very simple. You unscrew the bottom of the body, pull off the shell, take out the screws holding the old one in place. Keeping track of where eveything goes is easier with a digital camera, but there are only four places to solder. K&K provided great instructions also. Basically the thin white wire connects to pin 3 of the XLR (center pin, and the thicker black wire will connect where the red wire was on the PCB. Connect the other two and that's it. Put it back together and you have one heck of a great sounding inexpensive ribbon mic.
For me, the total was $239!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

TV and film music conference sponsored by Billboard magazine review

So I attended the conference - had heard about it and planned to go for the last couple years - finally made it. I had hoped it would offer some insight to getting music into TV and film, and had many questions: Can you do it from somewhere else other than L.A.? What kind of package should I send if at all? Does stuff get listened to? What kind of money is involved?Any help in making contacts? Can I make contacts at this conference? Is anybody accepting CDs or demos?

Oddly enough, after spending a bunch of money on plane fare, hotels, rental car, and the conference itself, I have all the same questions. It was a big show and tell type of event - interesting but not very informative. There were a lot of panels that were basically the same thing - a composer being interviewed and talking about their incredible scoring talent - with a few exceptions.

There is supposed to be a one year subscription to Billboard included in the cost but I paid for the conference months ago and have been back in town for 6 weeks as I write this and still no sign of the first issue. (Correction on 12/29/07 - Just got the first issue - almost 2 months after the conference!)

I decided to write this review because when I was originally looking around to try and decide if it was worth it, I couldn't find any info anywhere other than the Billboard site.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Little Labs IBP - a great little problem solver

Recording vocals and guitar at the same time

Singer/songwriters love to sing and play at the same time. Many engineers think this is a lot of trouble because it makes their job harder. I had one guy in the studio who told me an engineer told him it couldn't be done! Amazing!

The person who has the hardest job is the one performing the song. They're the ones who are trying to express something and open up. Since they are always playing and singing when doing a gig or writing a new song, it stands to reason the most comfortable way for them to record would be the same.

I've had great luck with the previously mentioned mid side technique but also using a couple different mics. The Shure SM7 is pretty directional and sounds really good on some voices. If you usually use a condenser on the guitar like a Shure SM81 or and Audio Technica 4033, maybe you've encountered phase problems.

A cool box to correct this is made by Little Labs - it's called the IBP. Infinitely variable phase, not just 180. You can dial in the exact phase location - it's like having the capsules completely lined up. It's also a super over engineered little box - very high quality.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rode K2 and Shure KSM 32

mid - side microphone technique

I've been doing a lot of mid - side mic stuff lately. It's really cool on guitars and works well if someone wants to sing and play at the same time and have stereo tracks. Done correctly it's rock solid and the musician can move their head but the voice is still centered in the mix.

I use a Rode K2 in figure 8 position on the bottom and a nice condenser like a Shure Ksm 32 on top. The null side of the figure 8 mic is aimed straight at the guitarist / singer and so is the condenser - cardiod is fine. The top of the K2 right side up and the top of the Ksm 32 upside down will almost touch.

The condenser is routed to one track and the figure 8 is routed to two tracks, with one track phase reversed and both figure 8 tracks panned opposite each other. Great stereo image, no phase problems and the width can be controlled by raising or lowering the figure 8 levels.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Shubb partial capo

YOUTUBE partial capo videos

Maybe you're interested in doing something a little different on your guitar but retuning is a pain. Ever try partial capos? Shubb makes a great one that goes over three strings and allows you to play many of the same chord voicings but with a different sound. Check it out!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Akai E2 Headrush Looper - click track idea

recording to a loop instead of a click track

In the studio I have quite a few singer/songwriters come in to do projects. Often we will start with them and add the band later so there is the need for a click track. I abandoned the straight click track idea a long time ago and have been using a drum pattern with a kick, snare high hat or some combination of those - maybe a shaker or whatever. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me to add a person-played shaker to humanize it a bit.

The biggest revelation came when a guitar player was having a difficult time with the machine rhythm and we tried the Akai E2 Headrush looper. He played a few bars of the tune and when he had the tempo, he muted the strings and I looped a bar or two with the E2. Just like that we had a very human track to play along with - in fact he was playing along with the most natural rhythm possible - his own. We used the same method for all the tracks and not only did it work well, it was way faster than programming a machine and deciding on a temp etc.

Friday, August 3, 2007

New CD is available

"Love Handed Down" is my latest CD and as usual it is in a sort of folky rock vein. This time one of the big changes/challenges was I played all the instruments, recorded it, mixed and mastered it and even did the art work. This is my fourth title and all cds are available at though it may be a couple weeks before this one shows up there. I am also trying a few new things that fly in the face of traditional music marketing. Very soon all of my CDs as well as random songs will be available on my website in the form of an honor system download.

This blog is a new step for me as well. I have some ideas about recording, songwriting, and various miscellaneous things that don't seem to fit anywhere else. I also think it may be a point of contact to meet new people - musicians and music lovers.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to bookmark it as I will be putting stuff up here often.