Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sound Check: FrankenTele

Hey Nerds,

My good friend and audio aficionado, Jon Armstrong recently finished a fun little project of resurrecting a cheap, used Squier Thinline Tele and trying to make it sound like a professional working axe. Jon apparently had quite the undertaking, replacing the pickups, pots and all the other guts...quite impressive I must say! To measure his progress, he pitted it against his infamous Epiphone Sheraton II (I've played it, it is awesome).

so can a used Squier be made to sound like an iconic Sheraton II by simply replacing the guts? Well, one thing's for sure; if ever there was a platform for a semi-hollow body "shoot-out", it is certainly THESE TWO GUITARS!

The result is VERY GOOD...I haven't played this FrankenTele, but from these sound clips, I can tell that he succeeded in what he set out to do. It wails! Great work, Jon.

Some quick specs:
-both guitars are "semi-hollow bodies"
-both have dual humbuckers
-both have three-way pickup switching
-both were recorded the exact same way

So the next time you're in the market for a new axe, remember there are plenty of cheap used guitars out there that can really sing with just a little love and little soldering.

Thanks to Jon.

bye for now,
Cutaway Curator

Sunday, September 27, 2009

AC Booster Demo (shortened version)




Cutaway Curator

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



Last weekend a bunch of amateur musicians assembled for a semi-regularly scheduled historic event known only as "StanManJamBand." As the name implies, it's a jam band that goes down at Stan's house. Who's Stan? If you do know, all you need to know is he's probably one of the raddest dudes on the planet! There were quite a few in attendance and the night was replete with memorable moments. To name a few...
-Ryan P. playing bass on Blondie's "Heart of Glass"
-Aaron Esquire tearing it up on some Jimi, and the subsequent dropping jaws from onlookers.
-Jonny A. playing bass on a song he didn't know he was playing until about 2 minutes in...never missed a note though!
-New guy Paul RIPPING on guitar, and not to mention his amazing Fender Super Six (modded, to use only 2 power tubes...talk about break up!). Here are some photos from the night. Well done, fellas!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Songwriting from the Future


I have recently been trying to expand my songwriting horizons while at the same time trying to improve my overall acumen on all things technological. With that being said, I am now attempting to write songs on my computer. Through the help of several different programs, I am now converting my thoughts and ideas into electronic blocks of tone and duration which appear on my computer screen. I realize that as you are reading this you are probably detecting a hint of surliness in my words. But I assure you, this transition is for the best I believe. A lot of times when I get an idea in my head I generally don't write it down or memorize it or use any particular pneumonic device to help me remember said musical piece. As a result I of course forget whatever the hell it was I working on in my brain-space. Frustrated, I then proceed to play Sheryl Crow songs on my guitar for the better part of an hour; not that there's anything wrong with that. So now, as an act of counter-balance, and in the name of pro-action, I have decided to embed these musical brain matinees into my CPU's hard drive for a later date. Sounds easy enough, except that I don't know what the hell I am doing on a computer half the time I use one...it's a bloody miracle that I was able to create such an awesome blog, let alone try and manipulate blocks of "SquareRezBass" and "Taiko Drum" fragments into a coherent masterpiece. I think it's just going to be a learning process. I am really enjoying the total freedom of choosing instrumentation and arrangement of tones and patterns...instead of just me banging away on my guitar and starting to tear up after about 15 minutes because it's not sounding the way I want it to. What can I say, I'm a rather impatient songwriter; I need instant gratification. Hopefully, this new process will allow for such greed. Need drums? Sure, just add 'em. How about that bass? It would sound better what a little "ElecPiano2" melody in there...and done!

So, to conclude this rather verbose blog entry, I am enjoying this "songwriting 2.0" so to speak, but I'm having a little trouble adjusting.

Wish me luck in my near future.

I will update you as I begin to get a better working knowledge with some of these programs.

Your friend,


Saturday, September 19, 2009

WTFender?! The Tigers are SUPER GOOD!

Last night was EPIC! We went to see The Republic Tigers play. They are phenomenal, and if you haven't heard them, get their album, "Keep Color." My good buddy, Ryan, was sportin' his awesome surf green Jazzmaster and a unique potpourri of effects. I was also pleased as punch to see that the other dudes were reppin' Fender pretty hard as well.

Rad dudes, rad band...

Peace out playas,
Cutaway Curator

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How old is that thing?

That's the first question I get asked when people see this amp. But this practically brand new amp has just been through a rough life. This is story of the newest addition to my amp collection...

A couple of months ago I bought an Epiphone Valve Junior head from the used section at an area "Plaza De Guitarras" (actual store name protected). I paid $89 bucks for it, plus another $30 for an 18-month warrantee. I considered this to be an exceptional deal, since they cost $130-150 brand new and the warrantee covers anything that might happen to it within the next year.

So here are some quick specs on this thing:

Epiphone Valve Junior
-5 Watts
-All tube, single-ended, Class A (like that means anything to anyone anymore). Tube Compliment: one 12AX7 (preamp), one EL84 (power amp)
-1 input, I/O switch, volume knob
-about 10 pounds (I guess)
-3 different load outputs (4 ohm, 8ohm and 16 ohm)

It's got a very cool vintage feel with cream and crimson tolex; very vintage. But this amp, which could only be 3 years old at the most, looks a little worse for the wear.

So why do I say that it's already been through a rough life?
When I first got it, someone had completely defiled it by removing the handsome "Epiphone" badge and slapping a HUGE chrome "CRATE" badge right on the red tolex. To further accentuate this awesome modification, the previous owner had also super-glued two chrome flame magnets to the red tolex (one on either side of the awesome Crate logo.) It took me 15 minutes, and one big gash in the tolex to get the Crate logo off. Needless to say I left the flames on there...just kidding...those took another 15 minutes and more tears in the tolex. The worst of it is that the black magnet-backing of these chrome flames is still adhered to the amp, I was only able to remove small fragments...man, what did this guy use? Gorilla Glue? Anyway, it looks super beat-up, but pretty cool regardless, and sounds great. Also, the previous owner had taken the stock "chicken-head" knob off of the volume pot and replaced it with a Fender "witch-hat" style knob...so awesome! There is also a treble cleff sticker on the face of the amp as well, for some reason...maybe it was owned by my fourth grade music teacher, who seemed to have treble clefs EVERYWHERE! Regardless, it's a nice touch...keeping it.

I wish I had been smart enough to document this amazing display of useless modification, but instead I have created this little "re-enactment for you"...this is EXACTLY what it looked like...

Right now I have this thing running into one 12" Celestion Heritage 75W 16 ohm speaker cab. It sounds great from 5-10, but i find it's a little muddy in the lower gain stage (1-5). But when it's fully cranked, I have really been enjoying the open, AC/DC type overdrive. The amps has also responded well to pedals, although the DL4 doesn't sound as good through it as the Twin, but then again, it's the Twin! Last week I gigged with this little amp and it carried just fine on stage over drums and bass and the tech didn't have any complaints over the house mix. So I think it's going to be a great little amp for me!

Currently I have made no modifications to it, yet. I plan on installing the "Bit-Mo Trio" in the hopes that it will brighten up the tone at lower volumes. I did however change out the pre-amp tube which was a stock, generic Chinese 12AX-WB to the quieter 12AX-LPS. I chose this tube because I have been doing recording with this amp and the less noise produced the better. I have found that while it does run quieter, I actually haven't had to sacrifice gain, it really does break up quite well. I also switched out the stock Sovtek EL84 with a JJ EL84 in the power stage in the hopes of tighten up the overdrive a little bit, I haven't noticed much a difference though.

Overall I rate this amp 8/10 for what it is. It's a small, versatile giggable and recordable amp. It looks great, it sounds great, it super modifiable (even a word?) and it's cheap! My only gripe is that it can get pretty muddy at times (especially with humbuckers) and the volume setting takes some getting used to. But it's a great amp and I like it a lot.

Video and Audio clips of this little amp will be featured in future posts.

Thanks for reading,

Cutaway Curator

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everybody's got a Strat, right?

It's true, you either own one yourself or know someone who has one. Maybe you traded it for that Fender GDEC amp that's sitting in your bass players garage right now. Or maybe your Mom's new "boyfriend" had one that he played in his Grateful Dead cover band, "Turtle Junction". Well whatever the case may be, it's pretty safe to say that 97 out of 100 people have at least played a Fender Stratocaster once in their lives. With that said, my preferred "backline" and arsenal of gear, both on stage and in the studio, has never included a Strat. And among the guitars that I have played in my life, I have never officially declared myself to be a "Strat player."

But I do have Strat.

It was the first guitar I really coveted. My dad bought it from some pawn shop in '92. A vintage-looking "Squier II", Arctic White with maple neck...it was so awesome! I always wanted to play it, or even just hear it. Then one magical day in '95 my Dad bought a brand new sunburst American Standard and handed the old one down to me! For years I played that guitar and loved it. When I went off to college, my affinity for Hardcore and emo/screamo/dreamo left the Strat in its case; never to be played again. As my tone snobbery fully heightened, other, more expensive guitars made their way into the lineup, with the ol' Strat taking a tertiary priority in my list of tonal possibilities. In fact, I had almost forgotten about it altogether.
Then last weekend I found it...

It was leaning against the wall of my old room in my Mom's house; no case, old strings, rusty screws on the pick guard, the maple neck aged just every so finely. I grabbed it and immediately took it over to "The Space." I plugged it into my Fender Twin on the Vibrato channel, with the "Bright" switch on.

This is the result...

...maybe I'll call myself a "Strat Player" after all.

Thanks for reading,

Cutaway Curator

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Welcome to SPACE JUNK

Dear Nerds,


This blog is dedicated to amateur audio production, musical gear, songwriting and all-around music creation. So if you're not into all that, then go check out some sports blog or somethin'.

We're gonna get rad as hell on this thing!

Some things we have planned in the near future:

-Gear reviews
-Experiments in Sound Recording
-Special guests
-Overall hilarity

So stay tuned, duh!


Cutaway Curator