Steve from England has sent me yet another keyboard track with cymbals, named “dark”. This was one I felt challenged by.  In order to surprise him (or maybe myself or you), I added things with no apparent connection to the original track. I wanted it to sound even darker than it was before. This is the first time I tried to record a wall of power chords plus bass in a unison. Although there have been level problems due to so many different instruments, I think the track conveys the original idea.
Thanks again to Steve, who’s track I found inspiring. So inspiring I apparently couldn’t stop playing, and had to add a coda. Stay with the track after the keyboard has ceased – it reminds me of my experimental teenage days, when me and some friends recorded music improvised on self-made instruments. In some respect, it was pure noise, but it had a dense atmosphere… Sadly, I lost the tapes, so I take this ending for a substitute.

All in all, “Darker” may not be everyone’s favorite, but it even contains traces of melodies…

the psychedelic medley


On Simon‘s request, I would like to publish a list of the 17 tracks I used for the psychedelic medley of last year, along with a “reissue” of the medley itself.

1. Electric Prunes: I had too much to dream last night

2. Blues Magoos: Love seems doomed

3. Blues Magoos: Got to get away

4. Beatles: I’m only sleeping

5.  Blues Magoos: There’s a chance we can make it

6. Pink Floyd: Interstellar Overdrive

7. Family: See Through Windows

8. Rolling Stones: Gomper

9. Pretty Things: Bracelets of Fingers

10. Kinks: You’re Looking Fine

11. Cream: Deserted Cities Of The Heart

12. Hendrix: Castles Made Of Sand

13. Electric Prunes: Long Day’s Flight

14. Quicksilver Messenger Service: Too long

15. Vanilla Fudge: You Just Keep Me Hanging On

16. Nice: Bonnie K.

17. Pretty Things: Buzz The Jerk

There is much more psychedelic music from the original period in existence than I had thought. Quite a few bands published just one, but excellent or unique album, so nowadays these band’s names are forgotten. It was a short-lived time, even then. Everything in psychedelic music happened within less than two years. As a suggestion, also listen to John’s Children, the first Bee Gees album, Kaleidoscope (album “Tangerine Dream”), The Incredible String Band, Donovan, early Traffic, Country Joe and the Fish, The Seeds, Aorta, Moby Grape, 13th Floor Elevators, The Chocolate Watchband, Clear Light, Fever Tree, C.A. Quintet. Family’s debut “Music in a doll’s house” is an album I adore.

Virtually any established band, like the Kinks, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, brought out a psychedelic album in 1967. For some this was just a matter of fashion (like sitars and fancy caftans), dropped the year after – for some it was a deeper and longer lasting experience. Most of the music mentioned here is also represented on youtube, and there are more psychedelic lists on Amazon etc.

making the champ my champ

A post on some good experiences with easy amp modification.

About two years ago I tried to build a Fender Champ amplifier from a rather expensive amp kit (TAD) from Germany, including a perfectly made tweed cabinet. It was the first time for me to do this. I really took my time to solder accurately, and it took me many weeks to finish. To my great surprise it instantly worked, and from the moment I finally put away the screwdriver after closing the back it was just plug and play…

For a long time, I really was content with this little box that gives five very loud and intense watts – more than sufficient a sound pressure for my living room studio. I only found the Jensen P 12 R speaker (I had chosen a special champ edition with a bigger speaker for more bass response) sounded too dull. But as I also have a cabinet with two Jensen P 12 Q, I tried this combination and was quite pleased. I found that my Les Paul sounded good as it drove the amp harder and produced some nice crunch, but with my Stratocaster it was, again, too dull. The amp didn’t quite react to my playing, sounding neutral at best.

But come to think of it: non of the above results of my tests are true any more! Not that my ears would change from day to day, but I have applied some very easy mods that I think are not even real mods, and now it’s only the champ when it comes to playing Stratocaster…

A book on tube amps (“A Desktop Reference Of Hip Vintage Guitar Amps” by Gerald Weber), a very practical and easy-to-read guide to some more understanding of tube amps, was the catalyst. I brought together two ideas of which I had heard separately: The installation of a bright capacitor over the amp’s volume pot (as provided in many Fender amps, called the bright switch), and the installation of a multiple switch to house several caps of different values – making it possible to dial in different presets suiting each guitar or even each pickup separately. Remember the champ has but one volume pot – no tone control at all, and even the volume pot serves as on/off-switch in addition, thus canceling the memory of your last volume setting when turned off.

I was amazed at how plainly audible the difference was! With a simple trick that – applied to guitar volume pots – is called a “volume bleed circuit” a vast curtain was drawn back, and I finally had the treble and mid frequency range desired. Nothing is added that wasn’t there before by this procedure – it’s  just changing the balance between frequencies by adding something that the volume pot is taking away when not turned to maximum. Kind of reloading. By trying several different cap values you may affect only the very high treble, or include parts of the midrange, too. Gerald Weber mentions cap values from 47 pF to 120 pF.  You can solder one or several caps to a switch, as I did, or solder the one you like best directly over the input/output of the volume pot, thus losing the original sound. A switch will also be connected to the input/output terminals of the pot.

My multi-switch has six positions. I left the first blank to reproduce the unchanged, original sound. Then I added 33 pF, 47 pF, 100 pF, 120 pF, 150 pF. Lower values just add very high treble, as opposed to the higher values that increasingly allow for more middle to get through… I have already chosen some favorite switch positions for each guitar.

So now there is sort of a tone control for my little champ that I mounted on the chassis where there was some space left. I do not mind reaching for it on the backside of the amp, but maybe that is not a good idea for everyone.

A second step of modification included exchange of all three tubes of the little amp. Instead of a 12 AX7 preamp tube I placed a 5751 that gives lower gain, but clearly more nice treble. Just crank up the volume a bit more than used to, and voilà an excellent sound! Gerald Weber in several instances mentioned a rectifier tube named 5V4 that replaces a 5Y3. It makes the amp a little bit louder, which was no aim of mine, but also gives more, and tighter bass. Since I wished to make the champ sound less “boxy” I had to add more bass as well as treble. To check bass response, the low “E” from an electric guitar (compared to other notes) was perfectly right.

Then I tried several types of power tubes. First, different brands of 6V6, but then I switched to another tube (my favorite one on the modeling device “Vox Tonelab SE”) that is called 5881 (kind of a military rugged version of 6L6, but of different construction and sound). That’s when I experienced Strat-player’s heaven! Now that’s how this amp was meant to sound, and it sounds good with humbuckers, too. No matter a 5881 belongs in other amps, like the Fender Bassman – it just sounds great in my amp and makes it sound bigger. No problems so far.

Changing tubes (with the amp off!!!) is easy for anybody, only a little more difficult than exchanging a light bulb. If you are capable of soldering, you may try and add a bright cap to any amp’s master volume, I think, provided you are missing some treble or clearness of sound. The degree of sound shaping achieved of course depends on the way your volume pot is reacting when turned! And on the range of frequencies that is affected by it. So it may work in some amps, in some not. It certainly doesn’t make any difference with the amp’s volume turned all the way up – so the softer your setting, the more effect there will be…

Last thing to do was loosening the four screws that hold the baffle board (a rather thin wooden front the speaker is mounted on) a little, so its extra vibrations can add to the impression of volume, of vibrating tone. I think this measure that is known since the old days put the sound of the internal speaker above the sound of my 2×12 cabinet. What’s also important with these small amps is to place them in a somehow elevated position so the speaker’s cone addresses the ear directly. Otherwise much treble and presence will be lost.

Some months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of the sound quality and variability my champ has gained now. This was my first and only experience so far with “amp tuning”, apart from soldering some better tone caps to my AC 15 and changing all the tubes in my amps. Pretty successful for my purpose – I was amazed myself. Please feel free to ask questions.



Finally I’m back, finally my health is better, and here is the next co-production with Steve:

Steve from England had sent me a keyboard track that constantly changes between major and minor of the same root, with some percussion added. He told me he had been playing around with the keyboard lately – and that was a surprise to me, for I knew him as a guitar player.

I liked the feeling of the track with the working title “Latin”. Of course it is a so-called Latin rhythm; only I don’t like the term and so decided to add some sparkle from another one of my son’s pictures.

Steve agreed with my proposal to add some more percussion to make it sound more lively. It was pure fun to play these instruments, but my personal highlight was the guitar solo I recorded immediately afterwards. This was the first time I achieved a sound with a Santana-like sustain and a similar character, and ironically I achieved it with the Jaguar, the good old tube screamer and my Vox AC 15. Not at all the kind of tools one would expect, but I had often tried it with Les Pauls or SGs and never succeeded! The Jaguar has a more nasal sound quality to it (which I like), and I consider my sound not a copy (which it isn’t and I couldn’t) but a parallel.

Anyway, this is not a bad one, and I wish I could have presented it earlier. I would like to thank Steve for giving me this opportunity with his inspiring track. In my earlier years as a musician I never came much forward with soloing, being mostly the bass player. So in a way, this track is a dream come true…

compulsory break

Hopefully this blog will go on soon, but right now I’m barely able to teach my students (which of course I do), due to a particularly persistent flu which has made me cough for nearly five weeks (!) now.

It is one of the kindergarten viruses depriving me of my energy. From the moment our son went there, just about every little infect became more evil, more persistent. This particular virus was said to presumably entertain the infected person for about six weeks (as those who were the first to get through this told us).

So there remains some hope: just one more week! Sorry, folks… I’ll be back as soon as I can. With music. With co-productions and some tracks that are more elaborate than the usual improvisations. Most of that stuff has been prepared for publishing, but I couldn’t finish it.

In addition I planned a track that will be called “The Psychedelic Chord”, giving rise to a bunch of questions like: Is there a psychedelic chord? Is it a chord at all? Is it psychedelic? As most of these questions should be answered “no” by an accurate musicologist, I prefer to give a personal answer in a strictly musical way (maybe “yes” in all three concerns)… Looking forward to those posts!



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.

upcoming co-productions


Although there has been nothing going on on this blog for quite a long time, many things happened behind the scenes. Many recordings were made, but I feel I have to elaborate them more than I usually do for blog posts. Meaning I would need a huge amount of time for each track.

Maybe they are to become songs that need a proper production; an album, maybe. It would be premature to extend on this…

But then there was this additional idea: I invited two English guitar players whom I both know via internet to finish some of my recordings; they as well were invited to send me a track I could complete. It should be done in an easy way by simply sending mp3s, and it should be published on the blog.

Steve and Stephen both readily agreed; which cannot be taken for granted – it can be rather challenging to receive a piece you have to add some instrumental part to!

We also agreed that each of us could ask for another track if there were problems. And no hurry!

When I received two keyboard tracks from Steve, I was quite surprised for I knew him as a guitar player – but he seems to be a real multi-instrumentalist. These tracks made it easy for me to solo on, and I enjoyed the whole process very much. I even added some percussion I played myself, and particularly a “latin” track by Steve gave me the chance to indulge in my Santana roots. That was pure fun, and I would like to thank him for that.

The track I sent him in turn was a little bit monotonous, but I thought it would provide a certain mood which makes it easy to find a voice on top. But how Steve managed to surprise me once more! He did not simply add a new layer to it – he superimposed images from a completely different level on my track. Different sounds, different chords, different moods. What you hear in this post is only my original track, leaving space for you to speculate what he might have added. In just a few days I will put up the new version…

guitar & gear: Epiphone Les Paul, Vox AC 30 (vibrato channel), Tube Reverb

belated holiday impressions

These are some pictures taken on our family holiday in a German area called “Franken”, which is not far from our home. As this dates back to mid August, these are belated impressions.

After a week away, I began those recordings I told you about. Most of them went so well, I would never have expected this some weeks before. In the beginning I was quite uncertain about the use of recording ideas (jotted down on paper) whose date of origin is 2006. Is there a “best before…?

As soon as the first files gathered in my computer, one thing was clear: it didn’t matter at all. I simply went on from that point, until it was done. Only basic tracks, though…

It’s enough for at least a year’s work of selecting, cutting and overdubbing. Most of the recordings are not meant as blog posts, but why not post them anyway? Let’s talk about it later… My main concern for the near future will be finding a drummer to complete the sessions, maybe a singer for some of the material. Besides these songs-to-be there are some recordings I will post much sooner to preserve their spontaneity instead of trying to turn them into something “elaborate”.

By the way, those holidays were great!

still alive!

For several days psychedeliczenguitar.de was unavailable, due to server problems. I apologize for that.

Though I’ve posted very little lately, this blog is still alive. Most of you will agree it takes some time and a number of steps until a blog post of the kind you see here can be published. What you couldn’t see nor guess is that in the meantime I’ve been recording like crazy. A stock of recordings has accumulated that still need a little elaboration. Not only have I made some drafts for new blog posts, but nearly every musical idea I had jotted down over the past two or three years now exists as an audio file in my computer. Phew.

Until new posts will be ready, I’ll put up some photos of our lovely summer break in Germany, coming soon…

Vanilla Fuzz


After eight years of continuous guitar lessons a young student of mine surprised me with a good-bye-present of a kind I had never thought to receive:

He had built an effects unit for me! It’s a Fuzz he called “Vanilla Fuzz” because of the yellowish casing – but he has not been aware of a band called Vanilla Fudge which is one of my favorites and fits the topic of this blog perfectly. For this present he must have spent countless hours of building, soldering and even painting; and finally he gave it away just for me…

When I tried it the same day I received it (I couldn’t wait much longer) I found it was nice, but something was missing with the higher notes. After some consideration I resolved to try it with bass – and that was a revelation: it felt like this unit had been built as a bass fuzz device, and as such it is filling a gap in my stomp boxes pool.

As a “thank you” I post a music with fuzz bass on it. And mandolin and conga plus a bicycle bell. Sounds strange? Sure it is!

instruments & gear: Tobias 4-string bass, Vox AC 50, Epiphone Mandobird, MXR Phase 90, Tube Reverb