robot’s love song


So this is the last installment of a trilogy my son illustrated so wonderfully.

This time he even accepted to give it a second try, and it was worth it, as you see. Of course I wouldn’t part with an illustrator like him, and there is more to come. For example I will have a hard time soon, trying to compose some dragon’s music.

Thank you for your kind comments on our collaboration!

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Fender Tweed Champ, Roland Space Echo

travel with your mind


While people from the richer parts of this world travel more and more, I feel compulsiveness in it. By now there is even more hectic produced by “recreational stress” than by commuting in my country.

Why move our bodies around at any rate? Will it really bring us happiness?

Questioning a belief system saying: “you only live once”. Of course not – and there is no need for hurry and pressure.

Why add to this planet’s increasing restlessness?

I find a relieving contrast in psychedelic songs. There is a recurrent theme demonstrated by just a list of song titles.

– Travel with your mind (The Seeds) (no video available)

– Relax (The Who)

– Thinking is the best way to travel (The Moody Blues)

– Heaven is in your mind (Traffic)

I think our task is to find happiness wherever we find ourselves right now. For there is no escape – you always take the weather with you. (Note: this is not to offend those with a genuine interest in foreign cultures and peoples)

The track you listen to makes a transition from an initial restlessness to a sudden insight…

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Vox AC 15 Heritage, BSM fuzzbooster, Tube Reverb

Guitar Caps

Sparing you the discussion whether or not there are differences in sound with different caps, I simply begin with: “Yes, there are. Use your ears and you will find out”. This post is to enlarge upon some former posts – when I still had no idea how many people would be interested – specially upon “switches and caps“, which is my no.1 post concerning hits now. There are some comments there with additional information, if you like.

A list of some of the capacitors I tried with guitars:

Luxe Caps” (Vitamin Qs), made of Russian military caps, thoroughly coated to look like vintage caps. They are California made, but the link above is to a German distributor, where I bought a bunch of caps (I’m also German), being much more delighted with the sound quality than with their English on the home page. But there are some forums (just google “Luxe caps”) who talk about alternatives to these rather expensive parts. Or look here for NOS caps.

– amongst them: Bumblebees. The legendary Les Paul caps give a nice and smooth sound, but for some it’s just too dull.


– Black Beauties. Used later on in Les Pauls, they are a bit brighter in sound, and my favorites.

Mustard Caps

Jensen (from Denmark, not to be confused with Jensen Speakers in Fender amps)


Styroflex (silvery and half transparent looking)

Red Dimes, Orange Dimes (good ceramic caps, but still ceramic..) and many others.

red dime in a 1967 Stratocaster

Personally, out of vintage repro caps, I prefer Black Beauties for all Les Pauls (including Juniors and Specials), for they give a brighter sound than Bumblebees. Both come in 0.022 uF only. There are intended as replacements for original vintage instruments. With little interest in “vintage correctness”, in a way I don’t care too much if they belong in this very guitar I want to tune. The point is: they sound very very good. Even the higher priced ones are worth trying.

The cheapest solution are Mustard caps, and to me they are second best. Made as replacements for Marshall amps, they sound great in guitars. For most users, I presume, there will be nothing left to be desired. My pimped Epiphone Les Paul houses a pair of them…

Capacitor Values: Values (in micro Farrad) differ from 0.01 to 0.1. The higher the value, the stronger will be the high frequency roll off. Fifities guitars often had bright sounding pickups – these were matched by more roll-off (0.05 to 0.1), whereas 0.022 is most common now. Vintage repro caps only come with vintage correct values, but it is worthwhile to experiment with different ones. In this case, you’ll have to try “normal” caps. I had a bass guitar that sounded somehow strangled until I fixed it with a foil cap of a different value – it felt like a miracle! For the Neck PU of my Les Paul I put a 0.033 uF cap so it lost its biting brightness, whereas for the bridge PU the usual 0.022 was fine.

Jensens are high grade, but originally for HiFi. Rather big in size, they give a very cultivated, smooth sound. Except for my Gibson EB3 Bass, I missed some aggression, though.

For my Stratocaster there was no alternative to a “chiclet” 0.1uF wax paper cap (Luxe). I originally wanted a red dime 0.05, like I had read somewhere, but after comparing it to a chiclet, there was no other way to go. I found the same to be the case with a student’s Mexican strat. These foil repro caps give the best and smoothest vintage sound I ever heard with Fender single coils. I don’t care if all the sixties’s strats were provided with ceramic caps – I would even replace these originals (of course keeping them).

Styroflex also turned out fine, but I missed some of the character in tone that other foil caps delivered. They are best for tone stacks in amplifiers (I already replaced some caps in my amps as well, with good results).

My Jaguar, as usual came with ceramic discs, but with the lower value of 0.01uF, as these single coils are rather different from a strat’s ones, and there are two tone circuits involved. So, no vintage repro caps were available. I simply tested several ceramic caps (for the main circuit), but bigger than discs, looking like the famous “Sprague” ones, and ended up with a 0.015. This one gave a fairly aggressive attack I liked so much that I don’t care I cannot turn the pot down anymore – not even a little bit, or it strangles both tone and volume. But after comparing its sound to the pot without any cap, I knew I couldn’t do without it.

For the Jaguar’s “rhythm circuit” I took a different choice. This circuit was created for dull rhythm sounds with the neck pickup only – but I like to use it for smoother jazzy sounds. For lack of space I sought out an old foil cap from a British Quad amp called “Hunts”, looking like a tiny carrot or a candy, and at the same time decreased the value to 0.0056 uF (roughly, only half of the original value). The result was less dampening, so it served for soloing also.

With all the hype of caps, don’t forget to check your pots! New pots (500 kO for Les Pauls, 250 kO for Teles and Strats, 1 MegO for Jazzmaster and Jaguar) might be just the missing thing in your guitar, brightening up the tone until it shines likes a Rembrandt painting exempt from centuries-old layers of varnish…

robot’s nightmare


Don’t be afraid, this time robot had a unpleasant dream (you can tell by the dark cloud in his thought bulb), but he is rescued and there is a happy ending!

He was sleeping in his iron bed, being recharged through several wires, when it happened. His friend who obviously heard noises from robot’s bedroom, opened the door to ask what was going on there – and so robot learned it had only been a bad dream. After hugging each other with some heart-felt robot hugs (bang!) they went to bed with relief, sleeping tight until the next morning.

Last post of this trilogy will be: “Robot’s Love Song”, coming soon.

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Fender Tweed Champ, Roland Space Echo, Cry Baby Classic Wah (fixed)

psychedelic guitar playing: scales and techniques


Musicians have to learn scales, for scales are the raw material of melodies as well as the raw material of improvised solos.

For psychedelic music one might denote certain scales, but it won’t suffice to just climb them up and down, as one will have to learn how to use these notes.

From my own experience I would recommend the mixolydian scale. Listen to, for instance, “Ride my see-saw” by the Moody Blues. The solo (near the end) is pure mixolydian. But there is no scale reserved for psychedelic styles. So all the scales common in rock music, above all minor pentatonic, if played in a certain way, will sound psychedelic.

So what are these ways of playing? As a hint, you can read this former post.

Or, listen to this former sound track, using the mixolydian scale.

Keep in mind Indian music had a great impact on sixties’ music, especially around 1966/67. Modal soloing over a droning root can be a key to sounding psychedelic. One of the most efficient playing techniques is the use of just one string, regarding the guitar as a sitar. Crazy vibratos, whammy bar effects, and slides add to an overall oriental impression. Oriental sounding scales, such as harmonic minor or phrygian, enhance that effect. Bendings, at times combined with additional vibrato, and double stop bendings on strings g and b are very common.

There is no particular guitar or amp or scale or substance needed (though it might help), for psychedelic music is an attitude. It emanates from a surreal mindset. Studying surrealism is a good starting point.

A fine analysis of psychedelic music styles (with reference to surrealism) is found in Tim Ellison’s book “The band are not quite right” (free download). Thanks to “psy-curious” who led me there!

Appendix: examples of the above mentioned scales in the key of A:

Mixolydian: a-b-c#-d-e-f#-g-a. Minor pentatonic: a-c-d-e-g-a. Harmonic minor: a-b-c-d-e-f-g#-a.Phrygian: a-bb-c-d-e-f-g-a.

green mystery


While listening, stick to it after 1:20! The real mystery only begins there. Guess what it is you’re looking at?

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Fender Tweed Champ, Cry Baby Classic Wah (fixed), Roland Space Echo

mikes: Electro Voice RE-20, Neumann KMS 105

psychedelically painted guitars

Personally, I don’t paint guitars. To me it’s sufficient to have great instruments with great sounds at hand, and to play the psychedelic way. I don’t feel the need to show my musical preferences with ostentation.

But there are continuous searches for psychedelically painted instruments hitting my blog, and I would like to show those interested the way to some pictures:

There is THE psychedelic looking guitar! The SG Eric Clapton played during his Cream period, called “The Fool” is the best-known example, and it’s awesome. It can be an inspiration for those willing to do a similar job.

Look here

here or here

Or look at an acoustic guitar

The photo below shows a 1967 strat that in a way painted itself psychedelically by aging. This process has only just begun – maybe some decades from now stars and angels will complete the volcano-like spot on the side of its body…



“It’s possible to sit in hectic. It’s possible to calm down walking. To rearrange one’s impressions is crucial to the inner condition. The more impulses you take in, the more you need to assimilate them; the bigger will be the need for a break (although you might miss the ultimate party).

You are taking a rest when you have reached your goal. Technical devices seem to make anything possible. Some things you may do simultaneously, most things accelerate. With the world going at an ever faster pace, even the two-year-olds experience schedule difficulties. No time to play in their pajamas in the morning.

Relaxation becomes a waste of time though it helps you pacing yourself. It helps regaining your strength.

Even if a break means delay, it’s part of the journey. It subdivides the way. If you have a plan, you know what’s behind and what’s ahead. So you obtain a general view: Earth is moving us around in circles. Where do you go in such a hurry?”

Quote from the local homeless’ journal (translated)

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Fender Tweed Champ, Roland Space Echo, Cry Baby Classic Wah

mikes: Electro Voice RE-20, Neumann KMS 105