Wisconsin Pride: Monarch Pedalboards say Goodbye to Velcro

It’s really hard to get excited about pedalboards.  You’re paying $300+ for some plastic/wood with carpet on it.  Then you’re going to velcro your pedals to it, destroying the resale value of your effects in the process 1.  That velcro will lose its grab over time.  It will infuriate you when you remember how much you paid for something you could build at home for $25.

Of course, if you’re real serious, you can get a custom built board where things are permanently mounted in place.  That’s cool, until you buy a new boost and need an engineer to fit it in your pedal chain.

You’ve probably caught on by now, that I write this because I think I have the answer to all your pedal boarding problems.  Better yet2, it comes from a Wisconsin company3.  That means when I heard about the folks at Monarch Pedalboards, I was able to drive across town and actually meet them.  This is what I discovered. Continue reading

Justin Adams Explains Why We Love Distortion

Justin Adams has played with Robert Plant, Juldeh Camara and many others.  He’s spent a lot of his career studying African and Arab music along with all sorts of western blues.  He seems to know what he’s talking about and has some nice history to share that helps explain the origins of distortion.

This story starts off a tad slow, but gets real good.  It’s not about the usual boring “amps malfunctioned and we wanted more” stuff that every other distortion history covers.  This goes a lot further back and outside of the US.

Check it out!


PedalGenie – Finally, a Modern Take on the Gear Shop

This is how you buy pedals:

Way #1 – Go to the local guitar store, where they have 30-50 pedals from a handful of manufacturers, if you’re lucky.  You try one out using not-your-guitar into not-your-amp.  This combo sounds terrible, but the pedal improves it, so you get excited and buy.  When you get home, who knows.  At least you can throw the thing on ebay if it doesn’t work out.

Way #2 – Watch endless YouTube videos, get suggestions from the Gear Page, order online, post your decision on the Gear Page, get ridiculed for a poor choice.

Over-dramatized as those scenarios may be, the point is that buying gear the traditional way leaves too much to chance.  Especially when high end pedals cost more than GE wants to spend on a guitar1.

This whole process is a little easier, thanks to PedalGenie. Continue reading

Tim Sway Has Perspective

Raw Materials

Whenever guitar players go on a gear rant I usually pull out a line about how guitar players are dumb and bass players will play a bass made out of a2x4 plugged into a speaker from a 1986 Camaro Berlinetta.

That’s a thing. Continue reading

Get a Berklee College of Music Education for Free

I’ve seen Berklee offer some free programs online before, but this is the most comprehensive listing of courses I remember them offering.  Thanks to /u/nostrongfeelings for sharing this.

Here’s the complete program at Coursera.  Ignore the “sign up” links, as they’ll charge you in order to get a certificate at the end.  If you don’t care about the piece of paper, clicking the individual course names gets you in for free.

Have fun, learn stuff.


What if Bands Traded Musicians Like Sports Teams?

It’s officiall the offseason for basketball and football here in the States.  And it’s the time of year where baseball teams start talking about acquiring someone to push for a title.  Basically, there’s a whole lot of sportball dorks going on and on about what-if stories to make their favorite team better.

There are 24-7 TV networks dedicated to this sort of talk.  Yet, it almost never comes up outside of this world.  Sure, companies may look at a rival executive and wish they could steal them away, but WSJ never runs editorials assembling dream recruiting moves.

In music, we mainly play the what-if game when it comes to break ups or death.  What if Hendrix lived?  What if the Beatles didn’t split?  What if Rodger Waters wasn’t such an asshole?  But rarely, if ever, do we say “what if” to swapping pieces in bands.  We just assume that it can’t happen because it will destroy the mojo of that band.

In reality, most bands have one or two people carrying the thing, and the rest are along for the ride.  Or bringing in someone new can inspire everyone or quell a fight.  So why couldn’t we swap some pieces to make things even better or at least more interesting?

Continue reading


This Excites Me: Fractal Audio FX8

As always, I’m a week late and probably $2500 short, but that’s how it goes when you’re busy being king of the world1.  I just noticed that Fractal Audio is teasing a multi-effects unit.  No amp modeling, it sits on your floor, you turn it on with your feet.  You might even be able to take it out of a studio now and again.  It does a ton of effects at once, and seems to be meant for running 4CM, although I’d guess you can go straight in and to your amp. Continue reading