Saturday, December 30, 2017

Double Review: MarkBass Little Mark 250 Black Line and Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig (with video sample)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we say farewell to this 2017 with a double review: a bass amp and a bass preamp-multi effect, thanking our friend Zoltan for the precious collaboration.

Let's start with the amp: Markbass Little Mark 250 Black line.

Markbass is an italian company famous all around the world for its great bass amplifiers, and the Little Mark 250 is one of the smallest and most affordable, yet usable in a rehearsal's room.
Weighing only 2kgs, this super compact head has a 6 knobs eq (low, low mid, high mid, high, variable pre-shape filter and vintage loudspeaker emulator - this last one works for the line out signal) which can be put before of after the preamp, gain, inputs and outputs also in xrl and a speaker emulated out: basically a more than complete setup for a bass amp.

What surprised me is how loud this unit is: in a world in which bass amps can reach crazy power outputs (like 2000watts) we use this in a rehearsal's room playing heavy metal with drums, guitar etc and half of the volume is more than enough to stay on top of a very loud drummer, so 250w are definitely enough for a rehearsal room, considering also that in a live situation 99% of the times the direct signal will go straight from the head to the mixing board, so the wattage is not a problem anyway.
My final verdict is that this small head, for its price, it's the best bang for the buck on the market, and the quality, in this price range, is way higher than its direct competitors.

Nice job Markbass!

Specs taken from the website:

- GAIN: -60 dB to +23 dB range

- GROUND LIFT (switch on rear panel)


- PRE/POST EQ (switch on rear panel)

- LINE OUT: balanced XLR, max. voltage 20 Vpp

- EFFECT SEND: unbalanced, max. voltage 20 Vpp (pre-EQ)

- TUNER OUT: unbalanced, max. voltage 2 Vpp

- SPEAKER OUT: speakon/1/4" combo, 1/4"

As you can also see from the video, together with the Markbass head we have played a bit with the Tech21 Bass Fly Rig.
This is an extremely compact and simple pedalboard made by Tech21, the american company that created Sansamp, one of the first and most famous amp modeling preamps (all analog), still used today (especially in its bass version) by basically all the world's biggest stars.
This bass fly rig incorporates a bass Sansamp, which can be used both with an amp or to go straight to the mixer, an Octave, a Fuzz, a Boost (that can be set pre or post the Sansamp section), a Chorus, a Compressor and a Tuner.
It really improves the sound, cleaning it up and making it sound less muddy, more aggressive and deep, without giving it that mosquito-like gain that sometimes digital processors give to the instrument: this is probably one of the perks of the analog processing.

This small unit is really a swiss army knife for the traveling musician, it lets you have a good tone anywhere you plug it and it is very credible also when used directly on the mixing board.

Thumbs up!

Specs taken from the website:

- Sansamp

- Fuzz

- Octave

- Chorus

- Compressor

- Boost

- Tuner

- Xlr out

- Speaker emulated out

Happy new year from Guitar Nerding Blog!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Review: Ignite Amps Anvil 3.0 free Vst with video sample

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
For this Christmas episode we are finding under the tree a new version of one of our favourite guitar amp sims: Ignite Amps Anvil 3.0!

As you can see from the video the entire chain is made of free Ignite plugins (no post production of any kind), some of the best Vst available today, you can download them here.

Here's the chain: Tsb-1- Anvil - TPA-1 - Nadir

The Anvil is a preamp modeled on a project of Andy Zeugs, and it consists in 3 channels: Clean, Rhythm and lead.
The clean one is modeled after a Fender clean, the rhythm one is modeled after a Marshall Plexi and the lead channel is modeled after an Engl amp.
This combination makes the Anvil an extremely versatile preamp: all three channels are very usable and realistic, and in combination with the power amp simulator TBA-1 the sound is surprisingly warm and rich in harmonics.

The version 3.0 features a completely rewritten tube emulation engine, which makes it even more realistic, and a very useful preset-bank management system that lets you not only create and save presets but also copy-paste them on the fly so that you can transpose the same setting from one channel to another: this is a very smart one-button function that I wish it was on every Vst.

The tone, except for these two features, is obviously the same of the previous versions, which is good basically for every genre; in the video you can hear a metal rhythm guitar, and the eq is as you can see from the picture almost flat: the sound is full but defined, with a very clear attack and a pleasant, full mid range.
The same realism can be heard also in the other two channels.

Thumbs up!

Merry Christmas from Guitar Nerding Blog!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Best Free Guitar Amp Sims 2017 3/3: Nick Crow (with video sample)

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3: Ignite Amps


Hello and welcome to this week's article!
In this third and last part we are talking about Nick Crow Labs plugins!
The name Nick Crow refers to a guy called Nikolay Voronin, but unfortunately it is not easy to find informations about this producer, all we know is that he has created some exceptional tube guitar amp simulators, freeware, and both in 32 and 64 bit format.

In this comparison we are using the same criteria as in the Ignite one

in all the samples we have used all Ignite Plugins (except obviously for the amp sim): TSB1 - Tyrant Screamer, the Power Amp Simulator TPA-1 (yes usually all amp simulators have also a power amp section modeler but this one really adds a lot of weight to the sound, I suggest you all to add it to your chain), and the NadIr impulse loader as a speaker simulator.

Basically the Ignite chain is the same one used also for the comparisons of the other producers, the only thing that I have swapped is the amp simulator, all the rest is identical, and the general rules I have used in recording these samples have been:

- no post production of any kind: no eq, no comp, only a limiter in the master bus.
- all the amp simulators have been left as flat as possible (often I have left them totally untouched, and all in the overdrive channel), I have made just some small adjustment in the controls to even out the volume and let it sit a little better in the mix.

On a last note I would like to add that I did not compare the Tube Driver, which is another plugin from the same producer, because it's a tube preamp, but not specifically made for guitar, therefore it sounds too different and with not enough gain.

After listening to this comparison my key takeaways are the following:

: A simulation of the lead channel of a Peavey 5150 III. It is incredibly chuggy (in a good way), it replicates well a 5150 crancked to the max and sits very well in the mix, I can't praise enough this plugin.

8505: A simulation of the Peavey 6505, a little less extreme and slighly darker sounding of the 7170 but still very similar (after all it's the same difference between the first model and the following 2 ones, also in the hardware version). Unlike its lower numbered sister, this one lets us also achieve (with some tweaking) a clean sound.

Wagner Sharp: This simulator is an emulation of the Sharp channel from a Bogner Triple Giant amplifier, but it actually sounds extremely close to the 7170 (only a little cleaner and with a more controlled gain). It is chuggy, and it's the last descendent of the first Wagner, the first guitar amp simulator that I have used, and that made me fall in love with this type of plugins.

In conclusion of this 3 parts article, what are my favourite plugins?
My criteria is how useful can one plugin be in a mix, so I'm evaluating these criteria:

- how well it sits in a mix
- how controllable is the gain (which means how clean/intellegible or dirty/confused) it sounds
- how much time do I have to spend tweaking to make it sound well in the mix (the less, the better)
- is it aggressive enough to be in a modern metal production?

And these are the three vst amp simulators I think everyone should have in their Daw at all times:

- Nick Crow 7170
- LePou Lecto
- Ignite Anvil

Let us know what do you think!

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3: Ignite Amps


Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Best Free Guitar Amp Sims 2017 2/3: LePou / Poulin (with video sample)

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3: Ignite Amps

Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of our free amp sims shootout!
Today we are talking about one of the most prolific plugin producers in the scene: the canadian Alain Poulin!
He has produced several plugins, starting with the first, classic one Solo C (which I have not included in the comparison because there is no 64 bit version), developing his coding towards both replicas of existing heads and the creation of completely new ones.

Today his plugins are used by millions of home producers worldwide, because they are free, lightweight, sound good and have a very nice interface.

In this comparison we are using the same criteria as in the Ignite one

in all the samples we have used all Ignite Plugins (except obviously for the amp sim): TSB1 - Tyrant Screamer, the Power Amp Simulator TPA-1 (yes usually all amp simulators have also a power amp section modeler but this one really adds a lot of weight to the sound, I suggest you all to add it to your chain), and the NadIr impulse loader as a speaker simulator.

Basically the Ignite chain is the same one used also for the comparisons of the other producers, the only thing that I have swapped is the amp simulator, all the rest is identical, and the general rules I have used in recording these samples have been:

- no post production of any kind: no eq, no comp, only a limiter in the master bus.
- all the amp simulators have been left as flat as possible (often I have left them totally untouched, and all in the overdrive channel), I have made just some small adjustment in the controls to even out the volume and let it sit a little better in the mix.

After listening to this comparison my key takeaways are the following:

Hybrit: this Marshall simulation is surprisingly versatile and gainy, I had to lower the master a bit to match the others, but if you it even to 3/4 makes it absolutely usable also in thrash metal, it has a lot of attack and tight response.

Le456: this is modeled after an Engl Powerball/Fireball, and you can hear that it has nailed the loud midrangey character of the head, I see it very usable in a classic/power metal record, where the real one is the queen of the most famous albums.

Lecto: this head is clearly based on a mesa Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, but it has something unique; while the texture of the sound and the gain structure are clearly modeled after the original one, this head adds an extremely musical midrange, that makes it one of the amp sims that sits better in a mix, ever. This is a must have.

LeGion: this is an original one, meaming that is not modeled after any other head in particular. It is created to have a lot of gain and to not need a booster, but somehow it sounds a bit thinner and with less body that it should. I can see it used in Djent or other genres with extremely low tunings, where the thicker strings can make up with the general thinness of the amp sim and find a very clear and tight sounding sweet spot.

LeXtac: modeled after a Bogner Extasy, is not very suited for metal, it is round, warm, but muddy in the low mids and I see it very good in classic rock or pop, where gain is lower and the thickness of each strum sound be wider.

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3: Ignite Amps


Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Best Free Guitar Amp Sims 2017 1/3: Ignite Amps (with video sample)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today is a special day, because we are presenting an article with a shootout of the best guitar amp sims with video samples, divided by author.
We know that there are many others out there but we chose the three top producers, because they had enough simulators to compare and because many others does not have a 64 bit version (which are the only ones I have used).

Let's start with the italian pride: Ignite Amps.

These guys make both hardware and software products: they let you use freely the vst version of their amps and pedals, and if you want they can also manufacture a real version of their softwares, like the beautiful Emissary head letting you customize it according to your taste.

In the video we actually use almost their entire plugin lineup:

in all the samples we have used their od TSB1 - Tyrant Screamer, the Power Amp Simulator TPA-1 (yes usually all amp simulators have also a power amp section modeler but this one really adds a lot of weight to the sound, I suggest you all to add it to your chain), and the NadIr impulse loader as a speaker simulator.

Basically the Ignite chain is the same one used also for the comparisons of the other producers, the only thing that I have swapped is the amp simulator, all the rest is identical, and the general rules I have used in recording these samples have been:

- no post production of any kind: no eq, no comp, only a limiter in the master bus.
- all the amp simulators have been left as flat as possible (often I have left them totally untouched, and all in the overdrive channel), I have made just some small adjustment in the controls to even out the volume and let it sit a little better in the mix.

By a quick listen to the samples you can really tell the different shades of the three simulators:

- The Anvil is aggressive and very versatile, it is based on the amp with the same name by Andy Zeugs and features three independent channels (a clean that is Fender style, a crunch that is modeled after a Plexi and a lead channel based on an Engl).

- The NRR-1 is but modeled on a Soldano X88R base (the base also for a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier), but with some modification requested by the (former) Fleshgod Apocalypse guitarist Cristiano Trionfera: it's slightly darker than the Anvil (and still today, even if it can't be heard in the video, I think it has one of the best clean channels around), and unlike the Anvil, the Rhythm channel has also a boost function.

- The Emissary is much more mid-oriented: there is a lot going on in the high mids area and the eq allows you to control and fine tune low and high mids; with some tweaking this could be one of the most screaming amp sims you can find (in facts it is also used extensively in the extreme metal scene, also live!). This is probably one of the most tube-sounding amp sims around, and also in this one the clean channel is beautiful and warm (click here for a more in depth review).

What do you think? Which one do you prefer?



Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The best DAW (digital audio workstations) 2017 2/2


Reaper - 60$ for the discounted license, 229$ for the commercial one (both gives you right to two major updates): this low price-no frills daw has actually a huge and very active fanbase, because it's powerful, it has amazing plugins bundled and it incorporates all the features of the flagship competitors costing only a fraction of them. It supports a huge amount of themes and language packs, and basically the only thing that prevents it from being much more expensive is the fact that it doesn't comes with vst instruments bundled.

Avid Pro Tools - The undisputed market leader by decades, Pro Tools has switched from a one off payment to a subscription service (from 24.95$ a month), and it offers, besides its powerful digital audio workstation that is the most common standard all over the world, also a cloud based service for the artists to collaborate and an enormous amount of top quality plugins. There is also a free version, with several limitations.

Magix Samplitude Music Studio - Ranging from 99 to 599$, this workstation is very rich in content (also the basic version), it has many plugins and virtual instruments, supports vst3 and it is the latest installment of a long Magix tradition in music software (that has started with Magix Music maker, which is today free to download). Magix also produces Sequoia, which is a software that costs 2975€ and that is strictly aimed to professional mixing and mastering engineers and broadcasters, since it incorporates a very complete set of metering tools studied to be used also in radio/tv environments.

Acoustica Mixcraft - Ranging from 89 to 179$, Mixcraft is a low price Digital Audio Workstation very complete and full of virtual instruments, Midi Scoring, Video Editing and it supports an app that can be downloaded for free on Apple or Android devices to control the workstation via touch screen.

Ardour - One of the most beloved and feature rich pieces of software ever created for Linux has now taken the leap and became cross platform, so now it can run on Windows and Mac too. The software is paid by subscription plans that starts from as little as 1$ a month, making it the cheapest paid daw on the market, but don't let the price fool you: it is very rich in features and it has a very strong community that follows and improves the code continuously.

Motu Digital Performer - Arrived to the ninth installment, DP is an extremely reliable software that for long time has been a market standard, before sliding a bit in the background due to the new, strong competitors in the market. For 399$ you get a very complete daw, capable of doing virtually everything once you get acquainted with the particular interface.

Happy birthday Guitar Nerding Blog!


Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The best DAW (digital audio workstations) 2017 1/2

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Now that Christmas is approaching (and to celebrate also the sixth anniversary of Guitar Nerding Blog), we decided one to created an updated version of an article we have made two years ago about the best Digital Audio Workstations in the market, adding new entries (also freeware), and removing some product that in the meantime went missing in action (e.g. Cakewalk Sonar).
In no particular order, enjoy our list!

Audacity - The most famous freeware Daw is slowly evolving, arriving to the version 2.2.0, which supports a dark theme, midi playback, vst plugins (but not yet vst instruments), and a wide range of audio editing instruments. If you want to edit simple projects or just play live vst guitar simulators this could be enough for you.

Presonus Studio One - ranging from 98 to 396 euro, this Daw is my actual weapon of choice, for its stability, intuitive drag and drop interface, speed and good selection of native plugins. Today it has arrived to the version 3.5, but though each installment it has introduced exclusive features that have been implemented in the other workstations (e.g. Cubase) only several years later. It has also a free version, with some limitation.

Bitwig Studio - sold at a price of 299 euro, this daw is quite new but it has achieved a good reputation, especially through EDM musicians, due to its modular design and its array of synths. Among the perks of this workstation there is a strong community that collaborates on projects and a seamless hardware - software integration.

Steinberg Cubase - one of the most common professional standards of today, it has renewed radically its interface incorporating all the best features introduced by the competitors.
Ranging from 99€ to 549€, Cubase 9.5 is the latest version of a decades long legacy of powerful and reliable software.

N-Track Studio - ranging from 69 to 119$, this daw includes in the price 2 major releases, a totally redesigned GUI, a cloud based system to collaborate with other artists and a subscription based version for Apple and Android devices that lets you have most of the DAW features on your mobile (1.99$ a month). This cross platform integration is, as of today, an exclusive of this workstation.

Mutools Mulab - at the price of 69€, this Daw offers a modular design similar to Bitwig Studio, and it is another newcomer in the field. It features all the basic recording and editing features, but under the surface lies also quite a complete modular structure that lets us adapt the interface with only the tools we need. Seems that this is the trend of today and I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of UI will be adopted by more and more software houses.


Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How recording at high sample rates can end up making your music sound worse

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are goind to add an extra part on our article about Bit Depth an sample rate:
can actually record at higher sample rates damage your final result? Let's find out.

As we have already seen, the sample rate is, put simply, how fast samples are taken.
For sample you can imagine the single photos that put one after the other create a movie; in our case we are talking about audio snapshots.
The cd standard is 16 bit and 44.100hz, although there are also formats today that allows higher standards (but they are not very popular), so for long time the rule of thumb has been "record at 44.100, 24 bit, and then scale down to 16 bit".

With the technology improving and the adc (analog to digital converters, the part of the audio interface that takes the analog signal and turns it into digital signal) getting better and better today many studios record at 48khz, 96khs and so on.
But why do they do it considering that then you will have to scale it down to 44.100hz? Simple, for the same reason you do record at 24bit (or why you take photos in raw with your reflex before editing them): to have as much information as possible, to mix it and then to scale down the final result.

Should you use higher sample rates than 44.100hz or 48.100hz?
It depends on your adc, which means it depends on your audio interface.
The quality of your converters depends on the quality of your audio interface, and if you have an audio interface that costs 100$, even if it allows recording at 96khz chances are that it will introduce a high frequency content (due to the cheap hardware) between a sample and the other, known as ultrasonic content, that on some reproduction device can make the music sound worse (even if you scale it down to 44.100hz). Therefore: on your pc sounds ok, then you play it on another hi fi, and it sounds bad, introducing weird artifacts you didn't notice before.

Other things to consider when mixing at 96khz or more:

1) the file size is CONSIDERABLY bigger, so make sure you have a lot of disk space.

2) some plugin doesn't work at higher sample rates.

As for everything, the trial and error method is fundamental to find out the right setting for our hardware, but the rule of thumb is that the cheaper the audio interface is, the worse it will handle higher sample rates, so in that case if you stick to 44.100hz it will probably sound even better, eventually.

Obviously if you have a top level interface, you will have a certain security that it will work perfectly also at the highest resolutions.

I hope this was helpful!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review: Digitech Rp-1000

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review a big multi effect pedalboard, the flagship of Digitech: the Rp-1000.

This pedalboard is in the market by several years, and it is still one of the most complete solutions around: featuring a second generation sound processor by Digitech (Dna 2), it has a resolution of 24 bit and 44khz and a very extensive array of inputs and outputs making it very suitable both as an audio interface, as a virtual rig and as an integration to a classic amplifier and pedalboard.
The pedalboard lets us stream our music directly in the computer via usb, and it features a send-return system to connect to the amplifier AND a separate, bypassable, effect loop to connect other stompboxes to it placing the effects after the preamp section; finally it has stereo outputs, both 1/4 jack and Xrl, in order to use stereo effects: in terms of flexibility this unit is one of the most complete on the market.

I must admit I have a soft spot with this generation of Digitech: I have been owner of a Rp-350, which is a model with only 3 footswitches, several friends of mine own a Rp-1000 and others the basic model, the Rp-100 and Rp-155: with one of these I have also (several years ago) succesfully recorded a demotape, using it as audio interface for guitars, vocals and bass.
Digitech products have a reputation of being solid, reliable units, with a good quality to price ratio and a good preamp and effect section.

About the effects, without a doubt they are resisting the test of time: the unit is several years on the market, but it still holds without problems against the flagship products of the competitors, while for the preamp section, although it is still very good the clean and the overdrive part, you can start feeling a little of digital rasp in the highest gain part, compared with the latest digital preamps on the market (Kemper, Axe Fx and Line6 Helix), and today guitarists could start missing a bit the possibility of loading custom impulse responses. On the other hand also the high gain tone is very mix-friendly, with a very musical midrange, and the same thing cannot be said for many Line 6 amp simulators, for example.

At a retail price of 399$ (but it can be found online also for less) this is probably the most complete and versatile solution on the market today for less than 500$, it is a swiss army knife good both for studio and live environments.

- Effect switching system offers control over external & internal stompboxes and effects

- Amp/Cabinet Bypass defeats internal amplifiers and cabinets in all presets

- Built-in 20 second phrase looper
- Built-in expression pedal controls the RP1000's Whammy™, wahs, volume, and other parameters

- Switchable Stompbox Loop for effects switcher control of external stompboxes and effects
- Switchable Amp Loop to retain your amp's tone
- 40 Tone and 40 Effects Libraries
- 200 presets (100 factory, 100 user)
- Over 160 effects including stompboxes, choruses, delays, amps and cabinets
- Up to 5 seconds of delay time
- 24-bit 44.1kHz sample rate
- All metal construction
- Heavy-duty metal switches for stompbox response
- Large 10 character LED display for preset name, bank name and tuner
- Independent 1/4" Left and Right Outputs
- Independent XLR Left and Right Outputs with ground lift
- Amp / Mixer switch optimizes 1/4" outputs for amp or direct to mixer connections

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Differences between Class A, B, AB, D power amps

Hello and welcome to this week's article,
today we're going to talk about power amps!
This article is to be intended as a follow up to our Tube vs Solid State power amps article.

Let's start off by saying I'm no engineer, I have made some research (I will put at the end of the article my sources), and the aim of the article is just to put in simple terms the differences, acting as a reference article for the simple musician that is not too expert in electronics.

We all have read in the description of a guitar amplifier (or any power amp in general) the definition "Class A", "Class B", "Class A/B", "Class D" and so on, wondering what it means: it is a code to describe the way the power amp works (yes, there are also other classes, but these are the most relevants in sound amplification).
First let's define what is a preamp and what is a power amp: a preamp is the device that boosts microphone and instrument level signals to line level, a power amp is the one that boosts the line level signal strong enough to drive a speaker.

Class A power amps: these were the first tube power amps ever created, the least efficient in terms of power comsumption to output ratio and the simpliest to build; basically the electricity passes thorugh one or more tubes in serie, which operates continuously. It generates a lot of heat and consumes the tubes much faster than the other circuit types, but it has also some particular property, for example it has no crossover nor switchoff distortion, which are typical of Class B power amps. A famous The tonal characteristics of this kind of power amp are a "bluesy" and particularly "musical" tone.

Class B power amps: in these amps there are two or more power tubes, and this configuration conducts the power half of the time in one tube and half of the time in the other (at a very high speed), prolonging the life of the power tubes but generating a very particular distortion, which is typical of many guitar amplifiers cranked to the max. This distortion is called "crossover distortion" because it is generated by the current that, moving from one tube to another alternatively (or from one transistor to another in solid state amps), for a split second in time it is not drawn by neither of the two, thus generating that noise.
As a general rule, Class B power amps grants more headroom, higher volume, better clarity and sparkle than the Class A ones.

Class AB power amps: these kind of amplifiers are very similar to the Class B ones, but the tubes doesn't stop drawing the current before the other one is on, so there is never a moment in time in which for an instant both of them are off. This reduces the amount of crossover noise, and allows to save at the same time some tube life and power comsumption. This system is often used in high-end home sound systems.

Class D power amps: these ones operates with transistors instead of tubes, and this means that they operate on a better power efficiency (less heat is generated, less electricity is wasted) and they work through a system called "pulse width modulation", which means that the sound is divided in many single pulses (measured in hertz), and the "width" of these pulses generates louder or quieter sounds. The "space" between a pulse and another is noise, which needs to be eliminated from the system with a filter, and all this project requires a significantly more complex amount of engineering compared to the tube circuits aforementioned. Class D power amps  usually are less expensive than their tube counterparts, but they lack some of the tonal characteristics many guitar players are after (although technology is slowly catching up, and it is very likely that in the near future this differences will be completely nullified), on the other hand they are much more reliable, solid and power efficient.

I hope this was helpful!


Cambridge audio Class B and Class AB Amplification

Paul Mc Gowan


Electronic - Class A Amplifiers

Electronic - Amplifier Classes

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How to create a radio podcast in 8 steps (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
This time we are going to talk about how to create a radio podcast.

What is a podcast? Think of it as a radio show that instead of listening in real time you download it (or stream it) via Mp3, therefore you can create an archive of episodes that can be listened at any time.

What do you need? Pretty much the same material you need for a home studio:

- a computer with an audio interface
- a digital audio workstation
- a microphone
- a pair of headphones

...and some plugin.

And here's the 8 steps to create a podcast:

1) First off, you load your favourite daw, set up the audio card and the microphone.

2) Now create at least two audio tracks: a mono one which will be your voice and one or more stereo ones (depending on how many background music-songs-jingles you want to reproduce at the same time), and be careful in setting the gain levels.

3) Record your voice parts, for as long as you want in the mono track.

4) Insert in the stereo track(s) some background music, or for example a song or a jingle you want the listeners to hear.

5) Set up a de-esser and a compressor in the mono track to make your voice to come out loud, warm and without excessive dynamic excursion. 

6) Set a compressor in Sidechain mode in the stereo track(s), using as trigger the mono track. This way, if you can set it correctly, when you will speak, the music in the stereo track will automatically lower its volume (this effect is called ducking) leaving your voice to come through clearly.

7) When you are satisfied of the content produced you can add a little touch of mastering in the master chain, adding a limiter and a metering tool to make sure it is not overcompressed.

8) The last step is setting the markers at the beginning and the ending of the podcast and exporting the Mp3, possibly in a decent quality like from 192khz up, and share it with the world, keeping in mind that some platform such as Youtube recognize copyrighted material and sometimes blocks it, so be careful.

I hope this was helpful!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: Orange Signature #4 Jim Root Terror (with video sample)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are checking out the Orange Jim Root Signature Terror!
Jim Root is the guitarist of Slipknot and former Stone Sour, and he has a long tradition in using Orange amps, especially his classic Orange Rockverb 100 MKII.
What Orange did was taking the Dirty channel of the Rockverb and turn it into a small switchable 7-15w high gain tube amp, single channel.
This head is extremely tiny and light (actually it's a half stack), also considering it's a tube amp, but the impressive thing is the volume it can put out, both in 7 and 15 watt mode: way more than enough to rehearse with a drummer.

In terms of tone we have a high gain version of the classic Orange sound: a british sounding, deep growling tone, with the typical low mid chunkiness that can be found in all the amps of the brand: an eq timbre basically opposite to the Marshall one, which is a bit more high-mids oriented.
The ideal genres for this kind of sound are Stoner Rock, Doom, modern hard rock, and if we lower the gain we obtain also a pleasant, warm clean-overdriven tone, without excessive background noise.

As for all low wattage amps the upsides in terms of size and weight have their counterpart in low headroom, less air pushed by the basses and overall a slighly thinner tone than a high wattage amp, but compared to most of the other low watt amps I have tried so far (for example Engl and Mesa Boogie) I have to say that this is probably the loudest one, and the one that gets the closest to a regular 100w head (the only other one with similar characteristics that I have tried so far capable of holding up against this is the Marshall DSL15H Head, which has even more functions).

Overall definitely an amp to check out if you are a musician who likes to travel light but also to have a mean tone!

Thumbs up!

Specs taken from The Website:






- PREAMP: 3 X ECC83/12AX7

- FX LOOP 1 X ECC81/12AT7




- UNBOXED DIMENSIONS (W X H X D):30.3 × 19 × 15.3CM (11.93 × 7.48 × 6.02″)

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Here is an article from a personal friend of mine, Edoardo Del Principe, which has started a serie of lessons about how to promote your own band, you can find the link in the end of the page.

I’ve been on each side of the barricade. I’ve been a reviewer, a promoter, a musician and I booked some gigs here and there with other people in the last years, so, I know how these worlds work together and how much bands are struggling to reach a good visibility in the underground. The music business is really evolving fast in this decade and the old pillars are going to be destroyed very soon. The full length album is now part of a large and complex chain of distribution. Is the final piece of a long road but it’s not necessary the only part. Today the market says that small releases are better than a large one but no one is saying that to young new bands. Today the market wants more way to listen your music and probably doesn’t care about any physic copy of your piece of art. Today the market is focused on singles and jingles and doesn’t care anymore about eleven tracks on one artists but eleven tracks of eleven artists, just because there are so many good artists out there that the market can’t stay focused on just one single act.


The Market is people and if you don’t know people, you don’t know your target, if you are not part of the market your music will be forever out of any context. No one is saying to bands to stop forever doing full album alone. No one is saying to young bands to stop paying facebook for self-promotion. No one is saying to young bands that the 80’s are gone and the world changed so much and so deeply that everything in music has different meanings or values of ten or five years ago.
You can’t emulate the big sharks when you are the smallest fish on the ocean, you’ll be eaten so fast that your death will be painful but definitive.


This is why I started Band-Pro. Band-Pro is an environment for bands to grow and learn about music business, how to promote yourself, how to relate with labels and clubs. Band-Pro is all my experience and all my knowledge for band who are struggling to reach an audience that already exists but seems so ethereal. My service is very pragmatic I don’t offer you any sort of number of sales of views, this is a path that We can walk together and the final point depends all by Us.

Edoardo Del Principe

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

5 tips to write a better guitar solo

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we will talk about writing a good guitar solo, using as example some of the most famous ones.

Let's start with some pill of music history: guitar solos had during the 20th century an evolution, that starts with the blues/jazz guitarists of the '20/'30s, in which the improvisation was the key element of the whole performance, evolving in the '50s/'60s with the advent of rock n'roll and becoming more studied, often as a variation for the part of the song in which the audience was supposed to dance, until the '70s and '80s, the golden age of the guitar heroes, in which the solo became the focus of the whole song, often replacing completely to the vocal part.
From the '90s on we have then witnessed a slow decline of the importance of the guitar solo, and today it has become in modern music more of an optional part than a must.

Nevertheless a good instrumental part is fundamental in a song, not only to let the singer to rest for some second but also to introduce a variation element and some depth to the composition, and it doesn't necessarily need to be as technical as Van Halen; what matters is that it has something interesting to say and that it says it in a pleasant way, as for the vocals.
In my article about HOW TO MIX A GUITAR SOLO I have said that it should be treated like a vocal part, and indeed this is the point: it takes the place of the vocal part in that moment, it must become the focus of the listener, therefore it needs to be developed like a lead vocal part.

Here are 5 tips on how to write a better guitar solo:

1) Sing your solo: the first tip is a technique used by several great guitarists, like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd; when he writes a solo he sings it first, so he is sure the melody will be meaningful and effective, and sometimes he sings it live in real time while playing, as it can be heard in some live version of "Wish you were Here". The instrumental part shoul tell a story, like talking: you should start from a point a and getting to a point b, construct the phrase with a pleasant grammar, add something to the conversation: a solo that is not meaningful, if it is just a bored fiddling around the keyboard because it has to be there, doesn't deserves to be listened. A good example of guitar solo that tells a story is November Rain by Guns'n Roses. Singing means also knowing our way on the rhytmical side: we can play with 8ths, 16ths, switching to triplets, changing time signature, anticipate the beat, or (even better) slow the notes slightly to lean to the beat, and so on.

2) Don't overdo technically: it's better to know our strong points and stick to them rather than wanting to put in our solo at all costs something we are not good enough to deliver. Better to simplify it and practice more, until we are confident that we can play that part smoothly without looking goofy and ridiculous.

3) Bendings, slides, legatos, vibratos...: these techniques are your friends when developing a solo language, in facts they are some of the tools that expands our expressivity and that differentiate a guitar from the other instruments. Use these tools to make your solo flow richer and more expressive, by adding a benindg that slowly gets to the target note with emphasis (but beware about the pitch!), or by adding to the long notes a nice vibrato that follows the beat of the song or lazily leans to it.
Also, legato and slide are a great way to not having to robotically pick every note, but to make the guitar sing, and a great example about this is Bijoux, by Brian May for Queen.

4) Know your way around your fretboard: let's not fool ourselves, we can have the perfect ear, we can have the perfect melodies in our head, but anyone that says that learning scales puts us into a prison and that we shouldn't do it to let our melodic creativity to flow is just a lazy doofus in search for an excuse to not study. Scales and modes (wich are variations on the scales) are just other tools we need to know to expand our vocabulary. We don't have to know all of them, but indeed choosing some of them and learning them creating muscolar memory in our hand will be extremely useful, especially when improvising. Today there are also several online scale generators, that once we dial in the key of the song and the mode we want to try can suggest us a scale. This can be a very good starting point from where to begin building our solo, or to find the right variation to create interest, for example by adding some exotic scale note in our solo, technique in which Marty Friedman is a master.

Here is some idea for the modes, taken from the Guitar Tricks Forum:

"In metal, the only modes you pretty much need are Aeolian, Dorian, and Phrygian. But here are all of them:

Ionian - The basic major sound. Think 'happy' or 'triumphant'.
Dorian - The all-in-one blues, rock, and metal scale. This one's great for a jam in minor.
Phrygian - The exotic diatonic mode. Sound a little middle-eastern/Egyptian. Used frequently in riffs.
Lydian - The Vai mode. Creates a dreamy atmospere. Very hard to master.
Mixolydian - The Satch mode. Used in acoustic blues a lot, and good for guitar rock instrumentals.
Aeolian - Straight minor; think 'sad' or 'depressing'. Used in classical.
Locrian - Used a lot in metal riffs for that really EVIL feeling. I don't think I've ever heard it in a solo."
5) Mix improvisation with the theme of the instrumental part: all we have written so far can lead to the conclusion that we don't suggest to improvise. This is not true: I love improvisation, as long as it is meaningful, it is tastefully constructed, and probably one of the best ways to master a solo is by mixing some written parts to other improvised, as some of the greatest guitarists in the world has always done (for example the guitarists of Iron Maiden). Anyway there is no fixed rule about this, it's your solo, you decide how much to improvise, how much to write or whether to choose only one of the two solutions!

Enjoy and let us know if you have any other good tipo to write a better guitar solo!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

5 tips on how to record a band rehearsal with a smartphone or a tablet

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article! 
Have you ever needed to record your own band's rehearsals but you did not have a recording device ready for the task? 
The solution is probably in your pocket.
A smartphone, if used with some criteria, is capable of recording a decent take that can be used later to analyze that riff you were jamming together, or to not forget an idea.

This small guide is for those of you who want to record their jam and doesn't have any periphereal, obviously keeping in mind that the quality of the phone makes a lot of difference, and that the final file will be a single track, usually mono, that will leave us little room for adjustments (although we will surely be able to use an eq to tame some resonance or apply some hi pass or low pass filter).

The main thing, that will make the difference between a muffled, clipping fart and an audible, usable audio take is to get the gain and the positioning right, and this varies on the loudness of the instruments (eg. if there is a drumset or not), and the size and shape of the room.

For the gain staging we will have to do some trial and error: record a take and see if it's clipping, or if it's too low. According to the case we can adjust the input gain or move the phone in another point of the room. For the balance instead is trickier, because we need to find a position that is farther from the louder instruments in order to attenuate them, and closer to the quieter ones, to make them audible. 
Don't rush and take your time, you'll probably need to adjust the position of the phone several times before finding the optimal placement.

Here are 5 tips that can be useful when recording with a smartphone: 

1) The band must have a balanced mix, as much as possible. this means that the vocals, the guitar and the bass must not cover each other, and none of these must cover the drums or be covered by them. Place yourself somewhere in the room that is at the same distance from all instruments and find out whether any of them needs to be a bit louder or quieter. 

2) Put your phone in airplane mode! Any incoming call, vibration, game notification, will ruin the recording.

3) Set the phone on the ground or on a chair, not too high because the higher it is, the more is the chance it will only get the cymbals. We need to attenuate the cymbals, that are usually very loud. Usually the lower we put it, the more emphasis will be on bass and kick drum.

4) If possible, try to find an app in which the input gain is adjustable, so you will be sure the sound will never clip (if it does, just turn the input gain down). Another good feature for a recording app would be to record in Wav, instead of Mp3.

5) If it is impossible to turn down the input volume and the sound is clipping and distorting all the time try to put the phone further away from the sound sources or apply styrofoam/duct tape or other sound obstructing materials in front of the phone's mike, or try to place the phone behind a layer of cloth/a pillow. 

Hope this was helpful!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

5 tips on how to set the correct pickup height

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about the last step of our guide on how to make the perfect setup for our guitar, which has other 2 steps before: how to set the guitar action and how to set the string intonation
Bear in mind that this is not a technical article but more of a pragmatic guide on how to avoid it to be in the absolutely wrong position, rather than to give a fixed, perfect height, because it varies according to the taste of the player.

Let's start with a short recap: a pickup is a magnet that takes the vibration of the strings (or better the movement happening within the magnetic field around it) and turns it into a signal that, once sent to an amplifier, turns into sound.
The more the magnet is near to the strings the louder the signal will be, and therefore it will be more rich, saturated and with more bass frequencies content.
The farther it is from the strings, the more the guitar will sound acoustic, clean, trebly: these are the characteristics of a lower output.

How do we rise or lower the pickup? 
By turning the screws  on its sides: they touch the wood beneath and allow us to pull the pickup higher or lower. Keep in mind that if you know what you are doing, it can happen that the sound you are looking for is also with the pickup not 100% horizontal (if you want to add some output on a side or lower it on the other), and that some pickups offer also the possibility to adjust the single polepieces one by one. 
My suggestion is to do this only when strictly necessary or you will risk to lose the output balance among the strings.

What we are looking after is, when strumming the guitar with a clean sound, a tone that has on its tail a ring, like a slight tremolo/vibrato effect. If we are too close to the string the vibrato will disappear because it will be so fast that it will be inaudible, if we are too far it will be inaudible the same for the opposite reason, so we are aiming to the position in which the ringing is most audible, and this will mean that the sustain is optimal.  

Let's see the 5 basic tips on how to set the correct pickup height:

1) Avoid putting the pickup too close to the strings, first off because the strings can end up touching it (it happens especially with the neck pickup: try to play on the higher frets and see if you need to lower it a bit).

2) Another signal that our pickup is too high is when it is so bassy that it sounds muddy. We must lower it in order to increase the definition.  

3) Avoid keeping the pickup too low, because the guitar will sound just weak, and the sound will lose  its body.

4) The sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle between "too low" and too high, and it is usually found if you strum the guitar with a clean sound: the tail of the sound must ring, like a slight tremolo/vibrato effect. This means the pickup is on the optimal position.

5) This "sweet spot" of point 4 is actually not a spot but a range, and within this range you can move slightly up or down in order to increase or decrease the output until you find the tone you prefer (more clean or more aggressive).

I hope this helps!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Harley Benton SG Kit Building Diary 3/3 (Harley Benton SG Kit VS Epiphone Les Paul VIDEO)

Thanks to our friend Daniel for playing in our video shootout!



Welcome to the third and last part of our building diary!
After taking care of the body and of the electronic part of the guitar it was time to mount the bridge.
The Tune o'matic bridge is composed by 2 parts: the Tune o'matic itself, which is the part with the saddles, and the tailpiece. Both these parts are anchored to the body with two big pieces of metal that needs to be literally hammered into the body, using the pre-created holes. be careful when hammering these pieces because any mistake is not revertible, so make sure they go down straight (and without damaging the body).

Once they are all the way in we can mount the Tune o'matic and the stop tail.

Meanwhile I have also screwed in the strap buttons, those parts in which you attach the strap. In this guitar one of the two buttons is set actually in the neck, to balance it a bit better.

Now it was time to make the fretboard nice and smooth, and for this task I have used the Dunlop Deep conditioner oil. This oil makes the fingerboard of a nice dark colour and the wood smooth and shiny, very pleasant to play. 

After applying the oil, letting it be absorbed and removing the excess part with a paper cloth I have mounted the strings.

Now it was time to set the action, I have adjusted the Tune o'matic bridge until I have found the right height of each string, which for me is the lowest one before hearing fret buzz when picking a string.

Once the strings were in place I have made sure the neck was straight, by playing all the strings in all the frets, looking for parts in which there was some "dead note", or in which some bending was muted. Luckily everything was playing fine, sign that the fretwork was impeccable and that the neck was perfectly straight.
Then I proceed with the perfect intonation of the guitar, adjusting the saddles according to the technique explained in this article until everything was perfectly in tune.

Finally, I have set the right pickup height using the two screws on the sides of each pickup: I have raised them until I heard the perfect ringing tail of the note, which is the sign the pickup is at the optimal distance from the strings and ready to rock.

Here is with the strap attached (and yes, I haven't yet removed the protective plastic foil from the electronics chamber cover).

There is still some work to do: as you can see the pickguard is attached to the body only with one screw because the holes for the other screws were not perfectly aligned (anyway this way is already very stable), and the pickup selector is not perfectly vertical but slightly horizontal. I still need to tighten some bolt and adjust it here and there, and maybe someday I will try a new bridge pickup too, but for the moment I am quite happy with this guitar: it is surprisingly playable, the neck is comfortable, it is in tune and the tone is pleasant, although as you can hear from the video quite treble-oriented. Maybe with a darker sounding pickup I can balance the thing a bit, but the wood is very light, so obviously I am not expecting any miracle.
All in all it was extremely fun and pleasant to build, and it is also quite fun to play!
Another sample played with this guitar can be heard in this article.

I hope this was helpful!



Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!