Happy 100th Birthday Les

lespaul43Today, Les Paul would’ve been 100 years old.

One of the many inspiring stories about Les Paul: at the young age of 33, he was in a terrible car accident and shattered his right arm and elbow.  They couldn’t rebuild his elbow and he was offered the choice to amputate.  Instead he had them set his arm permanently at a 90 degree angle so he could still play guitar. Despite the long recovery and his “handicap”, he continued to play guitar until his death at age 94.  That’s dedication!

I still play my Les Paul every day, and am thankful for Les’ numerous contributions to our musical world – from his innovations with the electric guitar and multi-track recording, to his love of making and sharing music.   Happy Birthday Les!

SKB Rolling Rack Broken Foot

 SKB Rolling Rack Case

We use a 6-space SKB Rolling Rack Case to contain our Mackie DL32R mixer, power amp, headphone amp, and feedback destroyer.

This case is a beast- it’s really heavy duty and keeps our gear safe.

SKB Case Broken FootHowever, a couple weeks ago, I noticed that the rack wasn’t standing up straight anymore.  I flipped it on its side and found that one of the plastic feet was broken.

I contacted SKB support to inquire about a replacement part, and they just sent me the part, no questions asked.  How cool is that?!  I love it when a manufacturer stands by their products.

 SKB Rolling Rack Case Replacement FootFor reference, they part they sent me was:

Plastic Bumper Foot for 2U Studio Flyer, Music Cases and Rectangular Double Bow Case.   Part # HM333-97

And the pack contained two feet, so I have a spare in case there’s ever an issue again.

HD500X Train Wreck at Sunny Gig

Train WreckSo, I had my first train-wreck on stage with the HD500X. This was at the Twin Creeks Spring Carnival, so not exactly a high-pressure situation with a huge crowd, but still…

The first song in the set was Lonely Boy, in which I use a HD500X patch with the expression pedal as a pitch dive (heel original pitch, toe dive-bomb).

John at a Sunny GigThe pedal got itself into a state where heel was not the original pitch, so I was stuck in a different pitch playing off-key from the rest of the band.  I had to bail out of that patch (and all other use of expression pedal for wah/etc) until the break. 

Between sets, I frantically Googled on my phone how to calibrate the expression pedal. I went through the process(power cycle holding down the right arrow, choose Pedal Cal, etc) several times but the heel/toe values I was seeing were whack. I managed to get it close to correct (but still not the expected 0 and 255), and I got through the gig with it still acting strange.

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Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer – Level Up!

Mackie DL32R Front

Using the Mackie DL1608 mixer with my band has totally sold me on the benefits of digital mixing.  But the DL1608 has some shortcomings, and we’ve outgrown it.

Mackie recently released their new top-of-the-line digital mixer – the DL32R.  Back when I posted about their teaser announcement, I was just hoping that we’d get some DL software upgrades for our 1608. But after seeing how the DL32R will address our current issues, I decided to sell the DL1608 and put the funds towards the upgrade.

One obvious benefit of the DL32R is that it has more input and output channels (32 in, 14 out).  We were nearly out of inputs and totally out of outputs on the DL1608.  This was preventing us from adding more sound sources (drum kit mics, guest keyboard, etc).

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Tenderly, Nitrocellulose

Les Paul nitrocellulose finish blemishLes Paul nitrocellulose finish blemish

My Gibson Les Paul Studio has a gorgeously lustrous glossy nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This is a premium finish. Or so I thought! Recently I noticed that the bottom edges of the guitar body are showing some damage. My heart sank a little bit to see my treasured Les Paul disfigured like this.

OnStage guitar standIn some dark recess of my mind, a vague memory came back that the foam on some guitar stands can react with the finish on guitars.  Sigh.

I use a classic little OnStage guitar stand. I’ve used this type of stand with every guitar I have ever owned, and never had an issue.  Until now.  I guess all of my previous guitars had simple polyurethane finishes. Those are the “cheap” finishes  compared to nitrocellulose, but apparently what you give up in glowing beauty, you gain in thick-skinned toughness.

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Blackstar Stage 60 Setup

Blackstar Stage 60 Settings LeftBlackstar Stage 60 Settings Right

My Blackstar Stage 60 is a 3-channel amp, but with the additional gain switch on OD2, it’s effectively a 3 1/2 channel or 4 channel amp, depending on how you look at it.  I absolutely love this flexibility! Blackstar’s catchphrase is “the sound in your head”, and it’s true.  I’m really happy with the sounds I can get from this bad boy.  I’ve put my overdrive and distortion pedals back in storage, as I can get everything I need from the Stage 60’s channels.

I use the channels as Clean, Overdrive (OD1), Distortion (OD2) and High Gain Lead (OD2 with the gain switch on). As pictured above, I’ve marked my preferred settings on the front panel with a green glow-in-the-dark pen, which has saved my ass on numerous occasions, on a dark stage before a gig.

Since I want a Fender-like high-headroom Clean channel, I run the Clean channel in the Modern voicing rather than the AC-like Boutique voicing.  According to the manual, the modern voicing has

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New Stage Rig

New HD500X Pedal BoardGig Command Center

Played a Christmas party on Friday night with the Drop Daddies and it was a blast!

My new stage setup worked out great. All that hard work paid off! The Blackstar Stage 60 sounded righteous, and the HD500X pedal board was perfect.

New Pedal Board – HD500X on Risers

New Pedalboard HD500XI’m massively downsizing my stage footprint! This new pedal board will be much simpler- focused around my new Line 6 HD500X, and the footswitch controller for my Blackstar Stage 60.

The only pedals left on the board are my Planet Waves Tru-Strobe tuner and DIY clean boost.

I’ve got the Stage 60’s 4-footswitch controller up front, along with an additional switch for the lead boost on channel 3 (repurposed from my VOX AC15, with a red LED added).

Height Issue with FootswitchesThe problem as you can see here is that the Stage 60 footswitch is taller than the HD500X.  If I just sit them on the board next to each other, the Stage 60 switches are uncomfortably high relative to the front row of switches on the HD500X, making them hard to reach.

So I decided to put the whole HD500X on risers.  Here’s how:

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Enter The HD500X

Line 6 HD500X TopLine 6 HD500X Rear

I’m a couple weeks in with my new Line 6 HD500X, and I’m loving it. My band The Drop Daddies has a gig on Friday, and it’ll be the first with the new Blackstar Stage 60 and new pedal board.  So I’m getting up to speed building new presets for songs, and getting used to a whole new world at my feet.

I’ve retired the old pedal board, along with the Zoom G3X, the loop switcher and a bunch of pedals I won’t be needing anymore! And I’ve built a much simpler new pedal board, which I’ll describe in the next post.

But first, here are a few critical decisions and discoveries that I’ve made along the way with the HD500X:

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Blackstar LDS Model

Blackstar LDS model

Found this on my amp today at rehearsal with the Drop Daddies
Apparently, the guys think my new Blackstar Stage 60 is excessively endowed. 🙂

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