Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
The wonderful world of stompboxes. What a magnificent thing it can be. For those of us who dabble in the art of noise nothing can be better. For me it is the hunt that attracts me to it all and keeps things exciting. The tweaking and experimenting of different sounds, the blending and pairing of certain pedals, and the extra push or color they can give our tone. But where there's a positive there is always a negative. In the effect pedal world that negative is the hassle of finding a player friendly way of powering our gear. This is where DC Voltage comes into play, and where the pedal power problem goes away. Imagine not having to deal with dead batteries, power adapters, power strips, extension chords, and the time they're all capable of eating up. This is now possible with DC Voltage's P3 Technology line of products. I recently had a chance to try this stuff and I must say I was absolutely floored with amazement. Let's take a closer look at this gear shall we?
P3 Custom Modified
* P3 Technology Available For Most Pedals
* No More Batteries or Adapters
* Can Still Function as Stock Pedals
* Can Be Used to Power Non-P3 Pedals
* Run Power Out to Active Guitars
* Keeps Your Setup Neat
* P3 TRS Cable (Switchcraft jack/high quality wire)
* Power Station Power Cable
* Pedal Jack Power Cables
So what exactly is P3 Technology and how does it work? Well, it's quite simple actually, and damn genius! With the DC Voltage P3 External Kit you can feed phantom power to almost any 9-volt style stompbox. This means there is no more need for batteries, wall warts/power adapters, extension chords, power strips, or plugging into walls. Your pedalboard and rig all together stays much neater, you save on setup time, and most important you have a steady flow of killer quality juice. There are a few different ways to work P3 Technology into your setup, all of them being user friendly and each option working in your favor. I got to try the P3 External Kit which I'll talk about in a sec and is only the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. For those of you who want to go all out there are P3 mods you can have done directly to your amps and pedals. This lets you power all your pedals directly from your amp's input jack, using a standard stereo cable or P3 TRS Cable to run the phantom power down to your boxes! If you don't want to have your amp modified and only want to mod your pedals there is the P3 Power Station. Simply set the Power Station on top of your amp, run a regular guitar cable from the Power Station to your amp, and run a stereo or P3 cable from Power Station on down to your pedals. P3 modded pedals are setup with two mini toggle switches that let phantom power into and out of the pedal's input & output jacks. If you want to use your P3 pedals in their stock form just switch off both toggle switches and you're back to the old school. Another cool thing about a P3 modded pedal is that when engaged it can send power out of it's DC jack to power non-P3 pedals. How cool is that! Please check out the DC Voltage videos to see more on these options, it will blow your mind.
Now let's take a looksy at the P3 External Kit, which I had a blast with and also used at a few gigs. With the kit you get a P3 Power Station (which we already dove into), a P3 TRS Cable, DC jack cables, a power chord for your Power Station, and last the Power Splitter. The kit is designed to be used for anyone that doesn't have any P3 equipped gear. I was still able to eliminate the need of power adapters, power strips, and extension chords. Setting up the P3 External Kit was cake. First I pulled out my pedalboard and removed all power adapters, batteries, and power strip. I set the Power Splitter behind my board, ran the little DC jack power cables to each pedal, and ran a short length cable from last pedal into right the Power Splitter. The Power Station I set on top of my amp and ran it's power chord into the same strip the amp was plugged to, keeping things nice and neat. Last I connected the Power Station into the amp, and Power Splitter out to the Power Station. I looked down at my feet and smiled. There were no power adapters going anywhere or plugged into anything, and no unnecessary cables to deal with. Every single one of my pedals worked and sounded perfectly. I didn't have to worry about any batteries going dead on me or any adapters getting unplugged. Along with the P3 External I also got to try out a few P3 modified guitar pedals. This kept things even neater, which is really making me think about having all my pedals converted to P3. With the P3 pedals I had no need for the Power Splitter. I just sent the P3 TRS Cable down to the last pedal on the floor, connected the pedals together by using short length P3 cables, and that was that. Now here is something that is going to blow you away, it did me. Usually you click the phantom power switch off from the jack that is going to your guitar, there is no need for the 9V power to go up there. Or is there? Now I don't play guitars with active electronics but I do know a couple friend's that do. I had my friend bring his crazy metal shredder guitar over to see if the P3 system would power the guitar's pickups. I had no more P3 cables but then remembered I could use regular stereo guitar cables. I switched the phantom power switch to feed up to the guitar, and what do you know? EUREKA!!! It worked beautifully. There are plenty more guitar gadgets that use 9V power that would work beautifully with this stuff. A few days after this I sat in and played some gigs with a couple friends' bands. I took the P3 External Kit on both gigs and it worked wonders. Setting up was never easier, in fact it was kind of strange not having to run any adapters to a power strip or outlets. I had velcro'd the Power Splitter to the back of my pedalboard and left everything plugged in. This way I just pulled it out of it's case, plugged a cable from the Splitter to the Power Station, and I was ready to fly. Everyone who saw the P3 setup was impressed, most of all me. Any cat with a major or simple stompbox setup should definitely look into checking out some of this gear. I am on the verge of having one of my amps and some of my pedals P3 modified. This is hands down the most user friendly tools I have seen in a loooong time.
For more info on DC Voltage and all P3 Technology products go to www.dcvoltage.net or click the direct link in our sidebar. Make sure to check out the P3 videos in our Youtube search engine at the bottom of our site. keep rockin'.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Those of you who have been doing their thing in the boutique pedal world for sure have come across the HAO name. On many guitar players pedalboards have seen these pedals mounted and ready for war. In fact I myself have had much experience with these pedals, at one time the HAO Rust Driver was the main OD pedal on my pedalboard. After this I went and tried more of the HAO pedal line. Not once was I disappointed. This of course led me to the new HAO "Premium Workshop" models, and if you think the first HAO run was killer wait till you plug into these. The first of the HAO Premium Workshop offerings is the Omega Drive Sixteen. A no-frills, well rounded, cream of the crop overdrive pedal. From the get-go I was stunned at how freakin' great it sounded. I stacked t up with everything from p90's and humbuckers, to Tele and Strat single coils. The OD-16 is easily one of the top overdrivers to come out of 2010, and definitely one of the best dirt boxes of all time. Plug in and see for yourself.
Omega Drive Sixteen
* 3PDT True Bypass Switch
* Internal Voltage Doubling Circuitry
* Compact Cast Aluminum Enclosure
* Built with High Quality Components
* Ultra Bright Status LED
* 9V Battery or AC Adapter Operation
* 3 Year Limited Warranty
* Direct Tone Bypass Switch
Where to start? I was able to get so many great sounding natural/earthy overdrive tones that I was dizzy with excitement. The amount of overdrive on tap from this pedal goes anywhere from low to medium, but crank the Level control into full force or blend it with an overdriven amp and you'll be sure to pull some sopping wet distortion tones as well. The OD-16 works great with other pedals, sounds great through many different amps, and works nicely with any guitar. Like many of my favorite overdrive pedals the Omega Drive Sixteen also comes equipped with the mighty trio of controls, being the Tone, Gain, and Level layout. It doesn't quite end there though, there is one more little trick that this pedal has up it's sleeve. The OD-16 also sports a Direct Tone Bypass mini-toggle switch which lets your guitar and amps natural, untainted tone blend with the pedal's overdrive sound. This is great for those of you who really don't need a bit more highs or lows thrown into the mix. It also lets you shape all of the pedal's overdrive sound with your amp's tone controls or guitar's tone pot. A simple but very helpful idea, you can imagine how much fun this must be. Some of the stunning tone quality this pedal is capable of comes from it's ability to convert your 9 volts into 16. This creates a wider headroom and helps with attack, response, and dynamics. The pedal can be run on a single 9V battery or with a AC adapter. Finally everything is tucked away in a small footprint, heavy duty enclosure which is sure to save room and sure to last you a lifetime.
We started our Omega Drive 16 dance with a couple of high quality cables, a fat/clean amp tone, and a freshly stringed guitar. The amp was our buddy's 65' Princeton Reverb, and guitar my custom tricked-out Tele. Now, I don't know what it was about these three pieces of gear that worked so well with this pedal, and I don't care. All I do know is that once the OD-16 was engaged things went from great to greater. I had the Princeton Reverb set like so; volume set at around 8, the treble and bass at 6, the reverb at 2-3, and no vibe/tremolo effect. The Omega Drive 16 was set with it's level just hair past unity, gain just under noon, and it's direct tone bypass switch engaged. This was able to give me all of the amp's sweet smooth tone, and gave me the ability to shape and mold the tone's character with the guitar's tone pot. With the neck bucker I got pure fat'n'creamy crunch. The overdrive was stunning! The 15 watts sounded 3-4 times it's size, a perfect tone for mic'ing up and recording. I was able to control the OD-16's overdrive beautifully with just a flick of my hand. The amount of drive wasn't too extreme but somehow I could still dig and hold a note with the aggression of my picking. The only way to describe the tone would be to call it the child of Eric Clapton's woman tone. With the Tele's lead pickup the overall tone became brighter and stung much harder. Imagine those hot country rock overdrive tones from the 60's and you got the sound I dialed in. Now here is where I discovered how cool this pedal really is. Switching in the OD-16's tone circuit was able to give me a whole new collection of dark and lovely rock tones. Next I was able to dial in a brutal Hendrix type vibe lead tone. I did this by kicking in some of the pedal highs, turning the gain to 75%, and pushing the level way past unity. The pedal's output was able to cook the Princeton's tubes a bit hotter, sending them into a howling wall of soul and tone. Blended in the amp's vibe circuit and breaking out the Strat was the finishing touch. The sound breathed in and out, rose and fell perfectly, and the crunch worked it's magic with every chord and lick I threw at it. Something really cool about this pedal that you'll notice once you start plugging it into different guitars is how well it compliments the pickups at hand. Before putting the Princeton back in the closet I went ahead and cranked the Omega Drive's gain to full blast. The tone is tuff to explain. It definitely had that distortion nature but with the response and projection of a natural tube overdrive.Rolling down the Strat's volume brought me down to a mellow medium overdrive, and rolling it down even further got me a subtle, organic overdrive that worked great with just about every style of music. Next we paired the OD-16 with something a bit stronger, something I was blessed to have in the studio that day. An 80 watt, EL34 based, 1x12 combo, Bogner Shiva. Talk about pairing up two awesome pieces of gear. The Omega Drive Sixteen again worked it's mojo and somehow was able to compliment and pull even more tones from the Shiva. Having the option of being able to cut the pedal's tone circuit was again an absolute dream. I mean I am really really impressed with this simple and versatile feature. For this setup I took out Erica, my 335 style Hagstrom Viking. I started with amp's first channel dialing in some big'n'bright clean tones, and letting the pedal do all the work as far as grit went. First without the OD-16's tone circuit, then with it engaged. The first run was breathtaking! I took the pedal, rolled up as little gain as possible, used the pedal level control to push the amp just a tad, and started with the Viking's neck bucker. The result was a semi-clean, edgy, somewhat hairy blues/country/and jazz tone. Actually that would be cheating the tone. Everything I played sounded killer, from funk to classic rock, alternative rock and slide guitar. I was actually having so much fin with the slide that I went ahead and rolled up some more gain, shaved off the guitar's tone, and switched into the bridge pickup. The difference between both pickups was really something special. This pedal's ability to hit you with one thing then another the next second is mind blowing. Then I jammed in some lead monster slide tones by cranking up more gain, switching the amp into some overdrive of it's own, and turning on the pedal's tone circuit. I'm talking razor sharp baby. Every little detail, accent, and flicker was shot out with aggression and soul. There was going to be no way to get a bad sound out of this pedal. I went into the night playing around with the Omega Drive Sixteen and jotting down amp and pedal settings as I did so. I did in fact plug it into a few of my own amps and just like I expected got super results. I did some blending with clean boosters, delay pedals, and trems, chorus's, and vibes. It was all lovely. HAO has hit beyond a home run with this little demon. I am very very excited to see what the HAO Premium Workshop line has for us in the near future. For now this is a sweet place to start and a kickas look into what's to come.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Analog War Cry
Wow! What a busy busy schedule we've had around here the last couple months. The crazy cool gear just keeps on coming, and more and more amazing builders keep popping out of nowhere. I really thought 2010 was going to be mellow as far as new and innovative gear goes, but that has not been the case. I'm still discovering cool pedal companies weekly, still come across great guitar builders, and am trying my best to bring you guys some of the sweet amp companies that are floating around today. This month on AWC will be a wide variety of different types of gear, we will of course have plenty of killer stompboxes to show you but we will also be writing on some pickups, guitars, some stunning cable companies, and lots of other great sounding gadgets. I also have another Builder Feature, a new band to turn you onto, and we will be starting a column known as The Tricks of the Trade. Our new column will be focused around bringing you guys tips on how to get great tones out of some of the amazing products that are out there, and on our experiences in the studio. Please keep emailing us with your questions and support, we really dig hearing what you guys have to say. To those of you we haven't been able to get back to we will do so asap. So strap on your axes and get ready for battle, this month is gong to kick major ass!
Drumming for Omission 2009