Category Archives: Nature & Environment

Nobody is responsible/Niemand ist verantwortlich

[audio:niemand.mp3]

This is the first solo guitar feature of the album; a Les Paul, a Cry Baby Classic Wah, and the Vox AC 50 – that’s what the solo sound is made of. My Tobias four string bass provides the basis of a Hendrixian groove. The measure is 8/4 with an accent on the count of “3”.

The tune is completed by organ and driving drums. Its mood reminded me of my own angriness at people who don’t care – hence the title. Sometimes the Wah wah guitar seems to talk – sometimes one might discern furious words and phrases…

An Interlude For Veronica

[audio:FastTrack.mp3]

Fast Track (original version)

[audio:InterludeForVeronica.mp3]

An Interlude for Veronica

Stephen from England for sure had a hard time completing this tune. Unfortunately the first version that I had recorded on my own, containing my first ever drum playing on a recording, had already been quite complete, to avoid the term busy…

And unfortunately, we both had lots of other things to do and our collaboration took a lot of time meaning that most of the time we didn’t collaborate.

Fortunately, though, this post is to present the happy ending – fortunately I may present the outcome of a new collaboration. As I said, Stephen was confronted with a hard task, and I doubted for weeks, feeling it might have been a mistake to begin with such a difficult piece of music. Difficult in that it was surely hard to find anything still fitting in.

But then he surprisingly came up with a fine solution: he added kind of a permanent guitar melody dwelling on top of the rest. It’s a beautiful, exotic sounding melody, based on a harmonic minor scale. That’s exactly what parts of my track had provoked, and now there is the REAL Stephen instead of my vague notion of his agile playing style by which the original version had been inspired. Also his guitar parts add some craziness to what had been a rather plain track…

Furthermore, he found a new name:

“I’ve renamed the song “An Interlude For Veronica”, after a trashy 60’s spy novel called “The Dolly Dolly Spy” – It has a chapter called “Personal Interlude”, where the hero of the novel describes his girlfriend Veronica… which is quite poetic.”

For no apparent reason, I have added a picture of a Gibson Les Paul deprived of its pickups, with a strange light effect looking like wings, one of them blue, one of them white.

I am publishing both tracks here, for I think listening works better with the original version in mind. You may better separate what each of us did with this music. You may better appreciate Stephen’s playing. Due to our way of sending us mp3s, making it impossible for the other to have separate tracks, there will always be slight problems to achieve a satisfying sound and level balance.

But if you can overcome this, it might be great fun to listen to “An Interlude for Veronica!” Thank you, Stephen – you surprised me. The next one will be easier, promised.

aqua

[audio:aqua.mp3]

With its simple double “a” vocal, the Latin or Italian word for “water” underlines this element’s fundamental meaning. An archaic word.

That’s what Steve’s contribution did to my unfinished track from the last post: it was reconnected with a fundamental meaning.

turn on your leaf lights

[audio:leaflights.mp3]

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

rising up

[audio:rising.mp3]

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

concrete

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

dance of the bees

[audio:bees.mp3]

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, Vox AC 30 (brilliant channel), BSM treble booster (DM-T)

travel with your mind

[audio:travel.mp3]

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.

bumblebees

– 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)

Jensen

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…

cherry blossom

[audio:cherry.mp3]

What a splendid season! Short-lived, as it is some melancholic undertones creep in, but the overall image is pure beauty…

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, 1967 Vox AC 30 (brilliant channel), BSM treble booster (model DM-T), Tube Reverb

mikes: Electro Voice RE-20, Neumann KMS 105