My Champion 600 Modded with EQ & More

Shortly after Fender released the Champion 600 around five years ago, folks quickly realized it was a great little amp to mod.  The circuit on this 1×6″ 5 watt tube amp is quite similar to a silverface Champ.  But to hit a $200 price range, it was made in China with a whole bunch of features either stripped out or cheapened.

Still, it’s a great little bedroom tube amp (which is why I bought one) and it’s an excellent platform for experimenting. Continue reading

Little Looper Shootout

In the past year, and especially very recently, we’ve seen several new loop pedals hit the scene.  All of them boast a very small footprint and super simple operation.  Oh, and low prices!  With each pedal seemingly so stripped down you might wonder what the difference there is between them.  We’re here to help sort that out. Continue reading


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.