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December 18, 2017
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Pedal Insider: Junction Capacitance And The Miller Effect in The Fuzz Face PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 December 2008 04:08
By Theo Hartman - GJD Contributor
One of the questions we often get at the shop is why older Germanium transistors sound different than their modern-day counterparts, even when the specimens compared are nominally the same gain, part-number and specification. 

If you are satisfied with Mojo as an answer or that intervening years have magically aged the parts into sounding the way they do, I would encourage you to stop reading here.  If, however, your curiosity gets the better of you, read on.

Different species of transistor have been designed over the years to function well in specific applications: radio, audio, power.  But there can be sonic differences between 2 transistors that spec out the same on paper (and even on some bench tests).   

Why should this be so?   It turns out the fuzz face is an excellent tool for understanding what’s going on.  It gives us a glimpse of two underlying phenomenon that can influence the musicality of a transistor.  One of these factors is inherent in the circuit itself.  The second requires a look at the inside of the transistors being used.  These two phenomena interact.  In my opinion, the fuzz face shines as a musical circuit precisely because of its ability to compound this interaction; but is also means that transistor selection is even more critical to the end result.
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Industry Insider: Album Production Series Part 1 - Project Summary PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 03:54
By John McGlasson - GJD
For over two years I’ve been writing bi-weekly columns for GuitarJamDaily, and I can’t describe what a pleasure it’s been. Owning a record label has put me in a unique position to pass on info to guitarists they may not normally get, and I’ve loved doing it, but now that I’ve got the label in a holding pattern to allow the industry suits to figure out what to do and enjoy some much-needed profit taking, I’ve stopped signing bands, and have gone back to what I love most; writing, recording, and performing my own music, so my mission for GJD is changing as well.

Over the next few months, I’ll be documenting, in words, pics, video, and audio, the entire production and promotion of my album, the debut for my band, Sons of Science. I’ve assembled an amazing band, I’ve refined the material over several years, and with producer Tony sanFilippo, we expect to make a very unique, high-quality album that’ll appeal to the progressive-rock fans I’ve been able to reach through the release of several vonFrickle albums.
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Industry Insider: Who’s Making Your Money Part IV PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 00:23
By John McGlasson - GJD
In part four of this four-part series, we’ll look at album/artist/tour promotion.

I’ve wasted more money in this area than any other, by a long-shot. With the old-world music business died the old-world way of doing things, but there are many traps you can fall into believing that if you don’t follow the old path you can’t make things happen. I’ve met some really smart people in this business who’ve had a lot of success in the past, but how much of their advice applies to the modern music biz? I’ve found not much.

The Circle of Events that used to sell music reliably is now completely broken. The music press has little power to sell music, the record stores are gone, full-album sales are in the toilet, and it’d take a lot of single-track sales to make up for it. Show attendance is down across the board, and show CD sales with it. From the outside, most analysts would declare the music business dead. How long does an industry lose money overall before it’s official?
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Amp Insider: Getting Amped with Brandon Montgomery PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 November 2008 04:25
GJD: So, let’s go back and talk a little bit more about transformers.  How do you pick your transformers? 

BM: Well, it really helps if you have a good transformer manufacturing company to work with. 

GJD: What do you mean by that?

BM: A company that has good communication skills to really be interested in finding out what I want for my amps.  Also, that they be willing to build you different prototypes to test the amps until you find the right one.  Another big thing is consistency and reliability on their end. 

GJD: I assume that you order various transformers in bunches?
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Who’s Making Your Money Part III: Manufacturing PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 10 November 2008 18:42
By John McGlasson - GJD Contributor
In part three of this four-part series, we’ll look at album manufacturing.

When I first signed a bunch of artists, I planned a single release date for almost all of them. I’d recently had an investor put up the cash I’d need, so, assuming things would be the way they’d always been in the music biz up to that point, I decided to press a lot of each title so I could get a cheaper price per CD, under the (previously) safe assumption that I wasn’t pressing more than I could sell over a year or two. Then the physical retail end of the CD business tanked.

Now I have thousands of CDs I’m not likely ever to sell, and thousands more stuck in the retail distribution trap that I may or may not ever be paid for. Yes, I got them for .84 each, but that means nothing when I have a mountain of them taking up my storeroom and in warehouse limbo across the US, which can be returned to our former distributor anytime and subtracted from what they owe us. I’d be better off having pressed half as many at the normal rate of around $1.45e for a jewel case with 2-panel insert and having sold out, or nearly sold out of them.
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Pedal Insider: Control Freak: Part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 02:56
By Theo Hartman - GJD Contributor
Read Part 1 here
One of the early compressors, the Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer, had no external user controls (unless you count screwdriver access to one of the two internal trim pots).  It was originally designed for “set-it-and-forget-it” use.  The two variables that could be set internally were output volume and the amount of compression.

An early Orange Squeezer.

At first blush, moving these controls to the exterior would seem an obvious and straightforward way to modernize or improve the utility of the pedal.  In the case of the volume control (the silver/brown circle standing on two legs in the foreground of photo above) it is indeed straightforward.  The early Squeezers I’ve examined used linear taper trim pots for the internal volume setting.  This makes sense—sort of.  All volume settings are available (via screwdriver), and with no need to establish a correspondence between the physical position of the internal trim pot and the apparent loudness, the original designers could get by with linear taper just fine.  Physical space issues aside for the moment, moving this control to the outside of the pedal requires little more than replacing the internal linear volume trimmer with an external log-taper potentiometer.  You can reach the volume now, and when you turn it, what you hear makes sense.

The other trim pot inside the Squeezer (hiding behind the big gray capacitor with the blue line on it in the photo above), the compression setting, is a different story.  Forget about taper.  Fully half of this trim pot’s range results in silence (no output) from the unit.  Putting this on the outside of the pedal would produce a device that could be unintentionally disabled by a user who thinks it’s safe to casually browse various settings of its knobs.  Or worse, the knob gets bumped by accident and the unit goes silent: this is a sure way to send somebody looking for a dead battery, faulty cable or loose connection when in fact it’s an inappropriate range of control that’s the culprit.
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Guitar Tech Insider: Hands on with Greg Howard PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 October 2008 01:47
Greg Howard - GJD Contributor
GJD:  Last time you spoke about different ways to string a “Gibson-style” guitar (3 per side).  What about a “Fender-type” guitars (6 per side) ?

GREG H: First off, I’ve never really liked string trees.  I don’t like strings getting hung up.  I love Kluson tuners.  On the wound E, A, & D strings.  I’ll do it with one wind.  On the G-string, I’ll use two or three winds and on the B and high E string, I’ll wind all the way down to the post and not use the string tree.  Then once I have the strings on, I’ll leave some slack.  Then I’ll stretch the heck out of them with both hands going up and down the neck.  
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Industry Insider: Who’s Making Your Money Part II-Album Production PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 October 2008 02:33
By John McGlasson - GJD
Click here to read Part 1
In part two of this four-part series, we’ll look at album production, the misconceptions, and the truths, as I see them.

Album production is no place to cut corners, but you don’t have to pay a famous studio and producer to make an amazing album, you just need to share philosophy and work ethic with your producer and band, and there are two schools of though in this arena; authentic vs. artificial.

If, after reading this article, you disagree with my points, then any digital studio will do, and you’ll be using simulators, samples, plug-ins, pitch-correction, and cut-and-paste techniques to create an artificial product that’ll then sound artificial. If you find a producer that shares my, and hopefully your, philosophy about keeping the authentic signal chain in the recording process, you’ll have a much better sounding, better feeling album that you’re proud of years from now, and that your public will love.

There are plenty of what would be considered low-budget albums that shine above the expensively-produced competition decades later, so it’s not necessary to spend heavily, but modern recording techniques are bringing a sterility to recorded music that you must break away from if you want to set yourself apart. I’ve known several pro musicians who’ve paid the people they were told they needed to pay to have a great album, but they hate the results, and they don’t understand why.
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Pedal Insider: Control Freak PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 October 2008 00:35
By Theo Hartman - GJD Contributor
The first two installments of this column discussed examples of how pedal tone can influence—and be influenced by—electronic and acoustic factors upstream and downstream of the pedal itself.  A third and possibly more subjective criteria in pedal design is us--people, guitar players—and how we expect our gear to operate.

A good point of departure to explore matters more technical is to examine examples of how we set up circuits to be “user-friendly” (or not).  I refer to this part of design as “control logic”.  Do dials and switches work as you expect them to?  Is their range of operation musically useful?  Redundant?  Overkill?  Showstopping?

One of the simplest and most prevalent user controls on any pedal is the Volume control.  There are numerous ways to implement a volume control, but one of the most common (passive) designs is as follows:
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Industry Insider: Who’s Making Your Money-Part I: Distributors PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 23:03
The excitement that an artist or band feels when signing with a label and having any kind of team and support behind them, big or small, can quickly be crushed by the realities of both the old and new music business.

Artists willingly sign these contracts that usually state that the label is going to be repaid in full for the production, manufacturing, distribution, and promotion of the album before the artist gets a dime, but artists always seem surprised when they don’t see any money.

I don’t think that most bands that are unsigned know what happens once you sign with a label, and bands that are or have been signed by labels don’t seem too willing to talk about what happened to them, because at some point they have to acknowledge that they read and signed the contract willingly through starry eyes, and are embarrassed by the outcome. Local bands and the local press tend to make a very big deal about being “signed”, and the public perception is that a limo pulled up and carried away their hometown heroes to fame and fortune, and bands are embarrassed to let the public know the truth, so there’s always been a rosier scenario carried on than reality allows, and nobody wants to talk about it.
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