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A late start

January 13, 2012

OK. I’ll admit I’ve fucked off for the first couple of weeks of the new year, but Friday the the 13th is as good a day as any to get back to work.

I’ve got a couple of layers of dust on the old running shoes, but they’re getting back to work too. I’d like to say that I pushed myself to hard, but I think we all know my lazy fuck status would render that a lie. I can, however, say that the level of bullshit in my diet last year wasn’t near low enough to keep me energized. So the forecast this year calls for healthier meals and less sand in my vagina.

Musically speaking, I’m still kind of just floating aimlessly, but Ableton makes a little more sense every day, and Logic is beginning to feel more comfortable too. I don’t know if or when I’ll be playing shows again, but if and when I do, odds are my laptop will be onstage with me. Multi-effects units, MIDI patchbays and mountains of stompboxes and cables … vintage tubes amps, modern solid-state amps, bass amps as a clean channel … I’ve tried many different things over the years trying to find the best balance between tone, portability and simplicity. I think I’ve stumbled upon what I’ve been looking for, or at least what I’m feeling at the moment.

I’ve recorded with Line 6 software as far back at ’99, but back then I was also into lugging around 100w Mesa Boogies, Marshalls and VHTs. I won’t even bring up my 2’x4′ pedal board. I dropped down to a 40w Blues Deluxe after my last Marshall and over time, I really began to love it. Presently, I’m a huge fan of both the Blues Junior and the AC15. Think of a ‘little brother’ to The Edge’s setup (minus the 2 full racks of outboard gear). My pedal board has gotten smaller, but not by much. I don’t have near as many things in my guitar’s signal chain, but I’ve added some vocal boxes and a loop station. A BOSS RC50 and a ME50 take up a lot of real estate on their own; so much so that I’ve taken to just using those two pieces. I’m mostly happy, but the ME50 doesn’t have MID in/out, so I can’t sync its parameters with my loop station.

Ableton and Logic have been game changers for me though. Session view has streamlined my work flow and given me a visual representation of what my brain was doing when I was building loops in ProTools and Garageband. After playing with Ableton for the past few months, I almost feel like it was developed for me. It’s designed to work the way I do naturally. Logic, on the other hand, is a beefed up version of Garageband, but the sounds and presets it has for live instruments sound incredible. It has everything Ableton was lacking. They aren’t true VSTs though, so getting them into Ableton takes some finagling. But with MainStage (comes with Logic), playing them live over Ableton is simple.

I could be talking out-of-school, but I think if I slave my RC50 to Ableton’s MIDI clock, then I could loop my guitar signal before the converter and then my entire guitar rig, nay, my entire band, will fit in my backpack. There’s also an experiment currently testing the use of 2 Macbooks: one running Logic/MainStage and processing all the instruments, sending it’s output to the line-in of the second one, which is running the main session in Ableton, thereby allowing all of Logic’s sounds to be recorded and looped inside of an Ableton session on the fly.

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