Timmy Pedal

RGS-PC-TMY-2What can I say that hasn’t already been said?

Not much, it turns out.

Yes, it’s amazing.

Yes, it’s “transparent.”

Yes, it gives you “more” of what your amp is already producing.

Yes, the price/quality ratio provides a tremendous value. I paid $119 + tax for brand new.

My two favorite settings (although it sounds great all over the dials…)

a) Bass/Treble – 1 O’clock – Gain around 11 – Volume around Noon

b) Bass/Treble – all the way down – Gain around 9 – Volume to taste

It is without a doubt the best “stacking” pedal I’ve ever played. It gets along famously with every other pedal on my board, all three amps, and every pickup on every guitar I own.

And yes…even after all that, I can say without too much hesitation that it is indeed possible to live without a Timmy. It’s just way more fun to live with it. Of all the overdrive pedals I’ve owned (which is exactly “too many”), this the one I like best.

Walrus Audio Voyager

voyager_flat2When it comes to tech-speak, I’m illiterate. However, I know what I like when I step on a metallic switch and my guitar tone gets appreciably better.

This pedal does exactly that.

First, I don’t know whether (or not) this is a respectable clone of the infamous Klon.

Secondly, I don’t care.

(At least not yet. Maybe one day I’ll try the legendary K-pedal and my life too will be forever changed…filled with unicorns and pastries and guilt-free naps.)

There is a pronounced mid-hump to this little magic box–an almost exaggerated increase that seems a tad abrasive in the bedroom. However (and more importantly), it sits deliciously well in the mix with a full band.

The Gain and Tone knobs are usable throughout the dial. And the volume boost on this pedal is insane…a good reminder to set the knobs with your ears, not your eyes. I have to keep the Volume at or below 9 o’clock to achieve unity gain.

As far as stacking, it currently follows my RC Booster and BB Preamp, feeding a Timmy. But it sounds good everywhere. Really.

For those who care, the pedal looks great too.

Lots to love about this pedal. And I do.

The BEST THING about the folks at Walrus Audio? They seem to have a big heart, always giving back.

My typical settings:

Vol. – 9 o’clock

Tone – Noonish, depending

Gain – 2:30 (but it sounds fantastic any/everywhere)

Analogman

princeoftoneI’m going to tell a simple story about one of my all-time favorite companies. It’s called Analogman and they make really super cool pedals (aka, stomp boxes) for guitar players. Their reputation for quality is pristine. And they’ve earned it. But my story has to do with something that has sorely gone lacking in our culture…customer service.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I was experiencing some technical difficulties with a digital controller for my analog delay pedal. Since I had a gig coming up, I went ahead and emailed customer service at Analogman and braced myself for a typical “3 to 5 business day” response, then started figuring out how I was going to work around my problem.

To my surprise and delight, I received and after hours email from Analog Mike—aka, the owner of the company. We ended up exchanging five emails between about 6:30 and 11:00 pm. Problem solved.

When I awoke the next morning, there was another email in my Inbox just checking to make sure everything was still cool.

This was not a one-time thing where I just happened to catch Analogmike while he was feeling both bored and generous. Stories like this abound in the cyberhaunts of other gear heads.

I’ve bought another pedal or two, as well as a handful of t-shirts. I tell anyone who cares that they should buy from Analogman. I’m telling you that right now. The prices are fair. The quality and service are exceptional. And the analog goodness that emanates from his magic little stomp boxes is sheer bliss.

Thanks, Mike.

Weekend Update

Music-wise, it was a slow week. I did a little reading and a lot of listening this week. Here is some of what I discovered…

Incendiary by Chris Cleave (novel, audio) – The back cover calls it “emotionally raw” and “alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor.” Not only that, the entire novel is a personal letter to Osama Bin Laden. This one is bold, haunting, and written extremely well.

Moonlight Mile by Dennis LeHane (novel, audio) – This guy can definitely craft a story. And most of the dialog is pitch perfect. However, some of the exchanges with bad guys come off sounding like tired movie dialog. The overall plot did test my capacity to suspend reality. But it was entertaining enough.

A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins (novel) – The story feels a bit disjointed, but I’m only a third of the way in. The writing, however, is downright enviable in places. And the patches of dialog between man and machine are really starting to grow on me.

Etgar Keret (stories) – I would trade two of my favorite guitars for this guy’s imagination

October Baby (DVD) – It may not be fair, but I have to view these kinds of movies through two separate lenses. If I judge it on its own merits as a film, I’d have to give it an average score. The filmmakers did a lot of things right but the cast was unbalanced, there a few indulgent scenes, and they tried too hard to make sure we got the point. We did not need the scene with the priest telling our hero she needed to forgive everybody. It would have been much more effective (and less cheesy) to have her figure this out on her own, then act. And the obligatory turn-around-at-the-last-moment-and-run-back-for-another-weepy-hug scene was downright cringeworthy. However, as far as Christian films go, this is one of the best I’ve seen. The writing, cinematography, and storytelling was WAY better than anything else I’ve seen in the genre. And Rachel Hendrix was outstanding.

Here’s The Thing (podcast) – Andrew McCarthy – This one caught me by surprise. I’m neither fan nor foe of the former brat pack actor. But I was captivated for his 35-minute interview where he tells of his journey from punk kid to renowned travel writer and family man. Yet another excellent interview.

This American Life (podcast) – Overall, TAL is my favorite podcast ever. This week’s entry wasn’t so hot. But maybe that was my fault. The episode was all about the recent election and I think I’m just tired of hearing about it.

Decompose (blog) – I followed a rather heated discussion that ended up pitting progressive Christians against their more conservative brethren. And although it was no one’s fault in particular, the whole thing makes me sad. Like most online debates, the majority seek first to be understood, to make their point, or to lob some snarky grenade into the other team’s camp. Healthy discourse occurs when everyone makes a genuine effort to understand the other guy first, then offer a thoughtful reply. Too much assuming, stereotyping, and too much of a premium on winning the argument. And for the record, the comments I left in the thread were probably no mover helpful than the ones I’m critiquing here.

 

Tyrus Morgan

Available October 30, 2012

This is not really an album review or an artist profile. It’s not even a veiled marketing ploy to separate you from your money. It’s more of a public service announcement. I know something that you may not. And that something could make your life incrementally better.

Tyrus Morgan (aka,“Ty”) is a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and worship leader. He’s also a devoted husband, father, friend to many, and just an all-around good guy. Parenthetically, he’s also quite good at basketball. If you had to pick one person to embark on long road trips and engage in pseudo-intellectual BS sessions that linger on to the wee hours of the night before devolving into downright silliness, you couldn’t do much better than Tyrus Morgan.

Am I shamelessly plugging my friend’s new album? Perhaps. But (and you’ll just have to trust me on this) I’m actually pointing all this out for your benefit, dear reader, not his.

Ty doesn’t need you to listen to his record. He won’t retire early because of the sales generated in this meager blog post. I can’t imagine his life will get one tiny bit better as a result of anything I write here.

But yours just might.

The new album releases 10/30/12. But you can (and should) pre-order a copy HERE.

And if you’re interested in check out a 45-second promo video for the record, click HERE.

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Yep, that guy on the right is me.

Weekend Update

Occasionally, I plan to list a few books, movies, records, articles, blogs, overheard conversations, or just whatever else may have popped into my head over the course of a week or so.

These may include (but will not be limited to) actual reviews, recommendations, weird musings, and/or the occasional dumb joke.

So here goes:

Defending Jacob by William Landay (Audiobook)
I would call this a literary thriller. If you take the best story elements from Grisham, Martini, et al, then apply generous amounts of elegant technique, this is what you get. The comparisons to To Kill A Mockingbird may be a bit lofty. But I get why they’re made. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Blue Like Jazz – (DVD)
I really liked this movie a lot. I do wish I’d been able to see it before I’d heard ANY opinions about it though. Even better, I wish I had seen it without the knowledge that Don Miller wrote it and Steve Taylor directed it. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it any more or any less, but I’m certain a little more ignorance on my part would have helped keep my mind in neutral during the film.

Standup Comedian by Demetri Martin
The ONLY thing working against this album is my own rampant expectations! In a word, Martin is brilliant (and not just brilliantly funny, he’s like a bona fide genius). His comedy is from the Steven Wright lineage. Martin delivers heady one-liners that might “take a second,” rather than full blown jokes with traditional setups and punch lines.

I did finish Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead and liked it well enough. It’s a dense read and takes a little long to get to the heart of things. Not sure who else I would recommend this book too. It’s historical fiction (Civil War), rather bleak, sometimes depressing, other times horrific.

I started, then stopped Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. He’s so good, and I like his stuff so much, that I wanted to make sure the book had my full attention. Although I liked what I read, I kept finding myself confused (I’m pretty certain it’s me, not Chabon). So I’m shelving it until I have time to reader in longer bursts.

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings – I’m about halfway through and am really enjoying it. I will admit that I like the premise and the writing more than the characters and/or the way the story has developed thus far. But as far as contemporary-literary-fiction-with-a-humorous-bent, I think it’s going to be a darn good one.

1922 by Stephen King (audio, novella) – This was a bit of a downer for me. King is obviously an amazing writer. I began championing his literary cause when I was in high school. The man certainly knows his way around a paragraph. But my tastes have changed over time. The story and the writing were fine. But the gore and the haunting and all the silly rats just got a bit tedious for me.

The blog of the week for me would have to go to Mike Duran’s DeCompose. He’s a really smart, really talented, and really nice guy. He likes to ask hard questions and stir the pot to make people think. And that’s a good thing.

Comfort Zone Elasticity

I’ve never been big on setting goals, at least not formally. Not that I don’t have things I want to accomplish. It’s just that I have this dipped-in-cheese memory of a Dale Carnegie course from eons ago, where we were assured that the only goals worth having were S.M.A.R.T. ones (which I remember as meaning: Sexy, Mellifluous, Acrylic, Radioactive, and Torpid).

Obviously, there are things I want and/or need to do. And yes, sometimes I write those things down so I don’t forget. Coincidentally, I did recently decide to formalize a set of goals in the non-cheesiest way I could muster. More on that in a later post.

There must always be a sense of progression or movement towards definite landmarks–Tobias Matthay, pianist

Anyhow, here is some stuff I already accomplished in 2012…

1- I discovered (the hard way) that I’m not terrified of heights. But I’m not overly fond of them either…especially on an empty stomach.

This realization happened on a tightrope, 24 feet above a hardwood floor in a University of Georgia gymnasium. Our company did a ropes course (sans a hearty lunch beforehand). There was no real danger of falling to my death, but it was challenging enough to make my knees week and turn my insides to goo. My forearms hurt for about a month but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Time to prepare: About 20 minutes.

2- I sang backup vocals, into an actual working microphone, in front of a few thousand people.

Without boring you with the whole neurotic childhood tale, I’ve always had hang-ups about singing. My vocal cords have these weird polyps growing on them, which means my voice sometimes crackles with residual puberty. Thus, crooning this five-note melody in public was way scarier to me than you might imagine. I don’t claim to have actually conquered that fear, but I did do a repeat performance weeks later, and that didn’t kill me either.

Time to prepare: About three weeks.

3- I do not, however, have any hang-ups about playing other stringed instruments. One conversation led to another and I ended up trading one of my guitars for a pretty nice banjo, spending a week learning how to play exactly one song, then stood in front of a sizable crowd and actually played the thing. My performance was far from brilliant. But a young man did approach me afterward and ask if I’d give him banjo lessons! (Trust me, that’s actually way funnier that it sounds.)

Time to prepare: Roughly two weeks.

Please note, I’m not boasting here. None of the above is really brag-worthy—trust me, I was there. So please don’t take it that way. But all of it forced me up and out of my comfort zone without a lot of time to prepare and evaluate and write it all down. I’m not nineteen and fearless any more. I’m wont’ be attempting stand-up comedy or skydiving naked (the only real way to skydive!) anytime soon. But I can still do some stuff. And you can too.

And some of those things may require deciding to leap before you look.

So what about you? Been forced to out of your comfort zone lately?