Set List Maker

Performing With Set List MakerI’ve been using the Set List Maker iOS app since 2013.  This app has a wealth of features for the practicing / gigging band and has been an invaluable timesaver.

Prior to Set List Maker, I would always bring a folder full of printed pages and notes to rehearsals, and make copies for my bandmates. With our growing repertoire, it was an ever-increasing waste of time scrounging through the folder before playing a new song.

Now I just bring my iPad mini! It attaches to my mic stand using an IK Multimedia iKlip 2.

iPad mounted on mic standIK Multimedia iKlip 2 and iPad Mini

This works out perfectly as I also need the iPad to control our Mackie DL32R mixer. Previously, I used a full-sized iPad mounted to my mic stand, but it was just too big. The iPad mini is a much better size. Our singer Gary uses an iPhone for lyrics, and he uses an iKlip Xpand.

Here, I’ll share an overview of Set List Maker, some tips on how to set it up, and the workflow we use with my band the Drop Daddies.

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John Mayer’s Crazy Stage Rig and the Helix

John Mayer and Isaiah Sharkey at Madison Square Garden

Just saw this picture on John Mayer’s Instagram from last week’s show at Madison Square Garden. Take a look at his crazy floor rig in this shot.  It’s so big, it stretches across three pedal boards in an arc in front of him. And a lot of the pedals are hidden offstage in a Bradshaw rack (shown in this 2010 rig rundown video with his guitar tech).

Now take a look at Isaiah Sharkey’s setup to John’s right. Boom! That’s a Helix right there- with a lot of the same flexibility as John’s rig, but in a tiny stage footprint. And it’s sounding pretty sweet- listen to his solo in this video of Stitched Up.

John Mayer is a serious pedal junkie. You can see part of his amazing pedal collection in this “One Song, One Day” video, from 2005.  Read the rest of this entry

JBL EON Hiss and Factory Reset

Helix with JBL EON 612

When the Helix arrived, I borrowed a JBL EON 610 full-range powered speaker to work with, and I really liked the sound I was getting with it.

However, as I started to go through the many hours of work preparing presets for the Drop Daddies’ setlist, I found that the continuous hiss coming from the EON’s tweeter was causing significant ear fatigue.

The hiss is omnipresent- regardless of EQ selection, line/mic button, and channel/master volume position. I connected to the speaker using the EON Connect app on my iPhone and confirmed that the firmware was up to date, and everything was set to defaults.

At rehearsal and on stage, this hiss is unnoticeable – not a problem. But in a quiet room, with the speaker angled towards my ears, the hiss becomes pretty obnoxious.  Here’s a recording: Read the rest of this entry

New Helix LT Announced

Helix LTI saw the Musikmesse announcement today that a new model of the Helix was just released – the Helix LT. At first, I kinda panicked – thinking I just bought into the Helix, and they’ve already released a new model with the same processing power and audio quality, but at a significantly lower price?!

However, after looking at the specs and reading about the differences, I’m no longer doubting my my purchase. Of course, I’m also trying to make myself feel better and justify the expense, but I think I’m on fairly solid ground.

From the Helix LT FAQ, the differences are:

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Filling In The Spaces

Stack of DraftsI’ve been so busy with work and my band that I’ve neglected this blog for a loooong time. I’ve posted gig updates and not much else. However, I have accumulated tons of draft posts and notes over the last 3 years that I never published, just for lack of time and focus to get em done. The longer I waited and further behind I got, the harder it became to commit to doing the work to catch up.

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St Patrick’s Day 2017

Drop Daddies at Norms St Patricks Day 2017This was our 5th year playing St Patrick’s Day at Norm’s Grill in Danville.  And it was off… the… hook!!

We had an absolute blast.

It was my first time ever playing a gig without an amp- and the Helix was awesome!  There wasn’t even room on stage for the Eon 610, so I just went direct into our DL32R mixer and out to our in-ears and the PA.  I’m a Helix believer!

I loved my simple guitar rig setup and tiny stage footprint. But any time savings in my setup were forfeit to the complexity of setting up all six of us on the narrow raised stage. It was around 16 feet wide, but only 6 feet deep, so not a lot of room for gear.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have my amp this time! Jeff and Ryan’s amps ended up down on the ground to the right of the stage.

St Patrick’s Day 2017

Making Song Presets on The Helix

Helix Song PresetsAfter preparing my basic Pedal Board preset, I’ve spent the last week learning my way around the Helix, preparing presets for our setlist

I’m loving this thing! I’ve been waking up early to craft song presets before work, and staying up super-late every night.

Yes, I’m obsessing, but there’s a lot to prepare if I’m going to pull this off at Friday’s gig with the Drop Daddies.

It’s so liberating using the amp / cabinet models in the Helix, rather than only using my Blackstar.  I can use a Marshall amp for Weezer, an AC30 for Stone Temple Piltots and U2, a Fender Bassman for Stray Cats, etc.

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Helix vs Blackstar

Blackstar vs HelixI mentioned last month, as I awaited the Helix arrival, that I was considering going ampless- completely replacing my entire amp and pedalboard rig with a single device: the Helix.

So, once I started learning to edit on the Helix, the first thing I did was try to make a preset to match the sounds of the channels on my Blackstar Stage 60. This was surprisingly easy to do.  Very quickly, I had a Pedal Board preset in which I could switch between Clean, Overdrive, High Gain, and blistering Lead, all of which sounded close enough to my Blackstar.  And bonus, no more pause/delay in the sound when changing channels on the Blackstar. Changing snapshots on Helix is totally seamless.  Beautiful!

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How To Use Solo on DL32R Mixer

DL32R Master Fader Solo ButtonWe’ve had our Mackie DL32R Mixer for how long now?  (nearly 2 years!) And I’ve never bothered to figure out why the Solo channel controls weren’t working as I expected. When I solo a channel, its Solo button turns yellow, and the yellow all-caps SOLO indicator shows up in the top right quick access panel button. But, I don’t hear the channel solo in the audio outputs. Why not?

We don’t really need to use Solo during a gig. But at soundcheck, it sure would be nice! We like to record our soundcheck and then stand out front while playing it back to adjust the mix. Being able to solo a channel would be helpful when dialing in EQ setings, etc.

So, this weekend I finally read the relevant parts of the Mackie Master Fader reference guide, and figured out how to make this work! Just in time for our St Patrick’s Day gig on Friday.

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Helix Has Landed

Line 6 Helix Has LandedMy Helix arrived last night.  Sweet! I lost myself for a couple hours, going through the presets and getting familiar with the unit.

I borrowed a JBL EON 610 full-range powered speaker for the occasion, and the combination sounds amazing.  I haven’t even tried plugging it into my Blackstar Stage 60 yet.  It sounds soooo good through the full range speaker.

The Helix is a beautifully built machine- solid as a tank! The footswitches, knobs and wah treadle are seriously next-level quality, compared to my HD500X. And the huge display, scribble strips, and colors are all just glorious.

Did I mention how amazing it sounds?!

I haven’t even started editing yet, but I’m super-excited to delve into it. We have a gig in less than 2 weeks and thinking about whether I’m crazy to switch my whole rig up, this close to a gig.

Line 6 Helix Line 6 Helix Wah Treadle

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