Just Like Tom . . .

Today, Craig and I got together and took all day to produce one track, a cover of a Dylan song.

Craig played rhythm guitar (an orange Tele with a mini humbucker), lead guitar (my Agile LP copy on the bridge pickup) both through his Acoustic Image amp, and bass (my Douglas violin bass) recorded direct with adjustments through the Bass Professor II plugin. He also did the vocal. I played drums and was the recording engineer.

We think it sounds pretty good. It is almost a professional track, by our very suspect standards.

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TDPRI Backing Track Challenge

This is just a lead recorded to a backing track posted on tdpri.com, the Telecaster forum.

It is my Telecaster on the bridge pickup through the Deluxe model in Tonelib GFX.

Here’s another one for a different challenge:

That’s my Casino through the Deluxe model in ToneLib.

A third one:

This is my Agile LP through the Tonelib AC30 Top Boost model.

And yet another one. This my Agile LP again on the neck pickup through the Tonelib Tweed Deluxe. I added some organ to the track using Xhip Synth.

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Ain’t No Mountain . . .

Yesterday, Craig and I got together and played most of the day. I had stripped down my cajon kit to the 13″ New Beat hi-hats, a 15″ Sabian HHX Studio Crash that I used as a ride cymbal (it also has a nice bell), and a 12″ splash cymbal that served as a mini-crash. And of course the 10″ Gretsch Blackhawk snare.

I put new Aquarian heads on the snare:

GretschSnarewithAquarian

Gretsch Blackhawk snare with Aquarian Texture Coat head

These heads are popular among drummers on DFO, the drum forum I sometimes frequent. The stock head had almost no texture, so brushes wouldn’t really work. They probably figured that nobody would do brushwork on a 10″ snare, but I wanted to. I think that the new heads gave it more definition too, more pop, less splat. I like them.

Here is one track from the session:

Craig is playing a black Ovation acoustic-electric through a Fishman amp. We were using two mics at this point I think, one for vocals and one for the room, with the guitar going direct from the amp. I put a little compression on this mix, and I attenuated the frequencies above around 5,500 hz to tame the hi-hats a bit. They were really bright. I might use the 14″ Armands next time.

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From 2012

Craig found a CD of stuff we had done in 2012. Here’s a track that I don’t think I have posted before. It’s a version of “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones:

I don’t remember what guitar, amp, or cymbals this is, but I know I am playing the Tama Silverstar Metro Jam kit. I have toms! Which I don’t have at the moment.

Whatever amp that is, the tremelo on the guitar is glorious. It might have been some kind of pedal (Update: Craig says it was a Babyface Tremelo, which he no longer has). Craig’s playing and singing is awesome as usual. This is just Craig on one guitar and vocal and me on the drums.

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Distortion Using Avantone CK-1

This is just a clip to help the Reaper forum troubleshoot this distortion problem:

A second clip of the end of the track:

Update: the thread is here:

Reaper Forum Discussion

Apparently, this is a noisy mic. It may have something to do with the way the interchangeable capsule connect.

 

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New Snare and New Tracks

My cajon-based mini drum kit is now complete with the addition of a 10″ Gretsch Blackhawk Mighty Mini snare. Here it is:

Snare2

10″ Gretsch Blackhawk Mighty Mini Snare

Today, I went out to Craig’s to try out the new kit. We recorded a bunch of stuff. I will say up front that these tracks are mostly first or second takes, and sometimes I didn’t know what song we were going to play when Craig counted it off. Most of this was recorded with one mic, my sE X1A condenser, which turned out to be a very musical mic, excellent for vocals, and it was picking up the whole room. I think that the snare sounded better in the room than it sounds in these recordings because of all the room reflections. To reduce volume, I was playing with Tala Wands, Cool Rods, Blasticks, and finally, Vic Firth Aj6s. I know that on “Little Sister,” I was using my Wuhan hi-hats. At some point I switched to Zildjian 14″ Armands, and then later to some 2010 13″ New Beats, that I have never really liked, but apparently record well.

This was the first time I played this kit with another musician and the first time I have played a drum kit in about five years. I hear lots of things I need to work on. Here are the tracks. We had a lot of fun.

“Little Sister,” an early Elvis song.

“In My Life,” a Beatles song. Ringo has a really cool part, but I only remembered part of it. I am pretty sure I used the Armands on this.

Give Me One Reason,” a Tracy Chapman song.

“Soulshine” a Warren Hayes song.

“One Headlight,” a Wallflowers song. I used to play this with Craig, but not on drums. I have no idea what the original drum part sounded like, and I didn’t know what we were playing when we started. Somehow I fell into something Deep Purple does in “Smoke on the Water.”

And finally, “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. This is probably the roughest of all. I am sure I was playing the New Beats by this time.

Craig is amazing throughout (though he did forget lyrics on occasion). On some tracks he added a second guitar after I left.

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Meinl Direct Drive Cajon Pedal

I am working on turning my cajon into a mini drum kit. I have a Meinl low hi-hat stand on order (it is backordered until August) but I have received a very innovative Meinl Direct Drive cajon pedal.  It doesn’t look like it would work, but it actually works very well. It came without instructions, so I had to figure some things out.

cajonpedalcloseup-circles

Meinl Direct Drive Cajon Pedal

First, the included drum key is handily attached to the pedal (see the red circle in the image above). You need that to make other adjustments. Install the beater by loosening the screw and sliding it in, then retightening. You will notice that the way the pedal is shipped, when you push on the bar, the beater moves away from the drum instead of toward the surface of the cajon.  To fix that, you need to take the drum key and loosen the screw in the light blue circle above.  Then rotate the cam until the beater is in the right position. Now it makes sense.

The other adjustment involves the long bar that sticks out from the pedal.

cajonpedalwitharm-1circle

Cajon Pedal Showing Bar

The pedal is shipped with the curved part of the bar pointing toward the pedal instead of away.  You have to use the drum key to remove one of the screws (see the red circle above), move the bar forward, then reinsert the screw and tighten it.  In this position you can depress the bar with your toes.

Update: I have my cajon on a small carpet because if the feet are directly on the floor, the sound resonates throughout my condo and bothers family members. However, I found that when I push down on the the lever of the pedal with my foot, the point where the lever is attached to the L-shaped base tends to push into the carpet, absorbing some of the energy and making the beater hits less accurate. I solved this problem by going to a hardware store and buying a thin metal plate called a “strap tie” from the lumber section for $1.98. Here’s a picture:

cajonpedal-withplate

This works very well. The wide surface keeps the pedal from depressing into the carpet.

I think that this pedal should come with instructions.  It is probably supposed to. I hope this post will help anyone who is confused.

The design looks weird, doesn’t it? There is actually no pedal! It is actually quite comfortable and responsive.  The bar is in just the right place for sitting on a cajon. Whoever designed this was thinking outside of the box. Meinl also makes a more expensive cable driven version of this pedal with an actual footplate. I haven’t tried the cable version, but considering the extra friction of the cable and the ever present danger of damage from being stepped on, I think that this direct drive version is better.

You can buy this as part of a complete Meinl cajon drum kit with a bass cajon, or as a cajon conversion kit without a cajon, or as separate pieces. I chose to buy the pedal and the hi-hat stand separately because I didn’t need more hi-hats (I have three sets: 14″ Wuhans, 13″ Zildjian New Beats, and 14″ Zildjian Armands).

This will end up being a tiny drum kit, suitable for coffeehouse gigs and house concerts. I think it will be fun!

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