z Gear Stories episode 38

Gear Stories 38  Epiphone/Marshall …Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together!


Hey folks!  It’s Gear Stories Time again.  I have a nice new promo I’m running along with some fun facts about cool gear!  This month, you will love it if you are a guitarist!  (Hopefully it will be fun for everybody else, too!)  If you are not interested in getting Gear Stories, just let me know and I will unsubscribe you… but try it… you might like it!


As usual, First, there is a few tiny bits of stuff to take care of..


First of all, we are reintroducing the 12 months no interest promo if you have our Sweetwater card, so if you have a card this is the time to jump on the gear you’ve been looking for.  If you don’t have a Sweetwater card, it’s time to GET one and follow above instructions!  Here’s the link for that.







The next thing is a bit of information that regards a question I get a lot, and I thought I would just address it here and hopefully give you valuable information, BEFORE you run into problems.  It involves recording with virtual instruments.


Imagine for a moment that your computer is actually a donkey!  (I’m sure some of you already have!)  If you had a pack mule and you had a large quantity of material you needed to move, you would load that material onto the pack mule and he would gladly haul it for you in return for a bucket of oats and a nice rub down afterward.  But let’s say you have a pile of heavy stuff you need to move that is HUGE… Ten thousand pounds.  I am no expert on beasts of burden, but I would imagine that a pack mule could easily haul about two hundred fifty pounds… maybe three hundred, but if you tried to place the entire ten thousand pounds of load on the donkey all at once… you would have a pack mule pizza.


Computer processors are the same way… It’s true, from just ten years ago, they have improved dramatically, but yet, most of us seem oblivious to their limitations.  Over and over I get people calling and saying that their computers are stalling and locking up and freezing on them.  I ask them what they are doing, and they tell me, “I have five instantiations of Kontakt, two Atmosphere’s three different superior drummers, each with a different kit, and a couple MOTU Mach5’s running all at once.


That is the equivalent of putting all ten thousand pounds of load on the poor donkey!   Back in the day, it was a miracle when the first virtual instrument came out, and we were lucky if our recording program could run 8 tracks with a few plug ins.  It’s GREAT that we have such great and complex imaginations, and it is incredibly cool that we don’t really have to buy a bunch of hardware synthesizers anymore… but remember that your computer’s processor is a finite resource.  Virtual instruments take a lot of processing power and a lot of ram.  Too many of them will easily use up all of your computers resources and squash that little donkey flat!


Luckily, you can always render those tracks to audio, which require much less computer power to handle.  Basically, once you have your MIDI track worked out the way you want it, simply select it and turn it into an audio track, then disable the virtual instrument track so you still have it if you need to change it, but it is not eating up the resources.  Every recording platform has a way of doing this… some call it render, some call it freeze track… but they all can do it.  I am composing with virtual instruments all the time and it is rare for me to have more than one open at a time… sometimes I will have two, and once or twice in my life, for a short time, I have had three open.  I hope that helps your work flow!  Happy recording.





For this month’s “Deconstructed song” is instead I have posted an entire album!  Many years ago, I recorded a solo album… some of the recordings were done in my studio on Digital Performer, and some were done as far back as the mid 80’s on analog tape.  I have posted the entire album online complete with the lyrics and credits, but also, there are notes on the recording of most of the songs.  I did some crazy things on some of those songs, and the album is so eclectic in styles that there is something for everybody! (Translation in industry talk is “there was no direction and you can’t market it to anybody!)


Here is it… this month’s “deconstructed Album” “Psychoacoustic!”   http://www.dreamrodeo.com/wordpress/psychoacoustic



Now to the Gear Stories!  Two Great Tastes that Taste great Together!




Epiphone!  An Icon that you can afford!


I would like to challenge a generally accepted perception.  I challenge the perception that if something is not made in America (or England, or Germany… ect.)  then it is not good.


Don’t get me wrong.  When it comes to electric guitars, I firmly believe that the finest instruments in the world are made right here in the good old U.S.A.  I also believe in supporting the economy of the United States… but I stop short of believing that if something is made in Mexico, Korea or China that it is automatically of lower quality.


My brother is a guitarist, and has his share of American made guitars (In fact, one or two more than his share, I fear) but over the past few years, he has been preaching the faith and propagating the gospel of the guitar to the nieces and nephews of the extended family… (He is totally, the “Cool Uncle!)


Of course, even the cool Uncle is not going to be buying a Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul for his niece (That would be the “Cool Millionaire Uncle”) so he has chosen the more affordable versions.  What has consistently surprised him has been the excellent quality of the guitars he has bought for the kids.  “I was kind of bummed that I was giving them away,” was what he told me once!


Many years ago, Epiphone became the offshore manufacturer of more affordable Gibson style guitars, and though all the models that Epiphone make are mirrors of the more high end (expensive) American made Gibsons, they are a company that holds it’s own as a manufacturer of quality instruments.


Try it out!  Hold an Epiphone Les Paul in your hands.  When you do, you can feel the quality.  They feel solid, and comfortable.  Then plug it in and play.  If you were to walk out on stage at some huge rock concert with an Epiphone Les Paul in your hands and plug into the marshall stacks making a humming wall across the back of the stage, the moment you ripped out your first power chord, there would be no way for 99.9% of the audience to know you weren’t playing a 1959 Gibson (Other than perhaps, the lack of bodyguards and a Loyd’s of London insurance adjustor following you around.)


The sound, the look, the feel… it’s all there.  From the Les Paul (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/search.php?s=epiphone+les+paul ), to the SG (which stands for “Solid Guitar”  …now you know   http://www.sweetwater.com/c590–Epiphone–Solidbody_Guitars ), to the elitist hollow body ( http://www.sweetwater.com/store/search.php?s=epiphone+elitist&go=Search ), to the weird explorers and flying V guitars… ( http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EXP2KOGH/    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EGV2KOGH/) and even the acoustics ( http://www.sweetwater.com/c599–Epiphone–Acoustic_Guitars ).   They all feel great, play great and sound great!


And then there’s the coolest thing of all!  Most of us can actually afford one!  And now, I want to make it even easier to afford one!


From now, until the next episode of “Gear Stories” call or e-mail me about the Epiphone guitar of your choice, and I will work up a quote with a ten percent discount!


But wait… The Promo’s just keep on coming!  Check out the next portion of gear stories, and the deal just gets better!





Marshall Amps… The tone of a legend!


This morning, the representative of Marshall amps in the USA stood in front of us at Sweetwater, on a stage with a wall behind him made entirely of Marshall Amps and cabinets!  It was truly awesome.  I did not think to count them, but in retrospect, there must have been close to twenty cabinets and as many amp heads, as well as an assortment of combo amps… each one different, but all EXCELLENT!


The presentation started with a projection of flames coming out from behind the wall of amps, and on a ladder, behind the amps, the presenter stood, emerging over the amplifiers like a rock legend himself, ripping out a blazing guitar lead.  The best bit, however, was when a twenty inch model of Stonehenge was lowered to the stage by a man behind the Marshall Stacks, dangling it from a fishing rod.  ( For the historical reference, see… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlf5ucFanpY )


Obviously, sales staff meeting at Sweetwater can be a little different than at most companies!


Back in the sixties in England, Jim Marshall was a drum teacher who started his own drum shop, because his students were mainly rock’n’roll hippies with long hair like mine (…only they had hair on the top of their heads too) and the respectable music shops in London didn’t like them hanging around there.  Shortly after that, the band mates of the drummers started hanging around too, and told Jim that if he sold guitars and the like, they would buy from him, because they also got treated the same way in the “respectable” shops.


So Jim started selling guitars and accessories in his shop.  The one amp that all the guitarists who were playing Rock music wanted was the old Fender Bassman.   It was the only amp that they could get to break up and make that aggressive sound we know today as distortion.  But they came from America, and they were expensive, and also hard to get… and the players that were hanging around complained that even though it was the best thing they could get, it wasn’t REALLY the sound they were hoping for.  They wanted something more.


Somebody suggested to Jim Marshall that he start making guitar amps himself… so he found an electronic wunderkind working in London, and hired him to come and build amps.  They tried and tried an tried, and it took many months and many prototypes before they got one that created that crunchy sound that was in their heads… and when they did, it took off like wild fire!


One of the first ones was purchased by Pete Townsend, (from the Who, for all of you younger than forty!) and his following list of customers was like a parade from the British invasion history books!  people like Eric Clapton, and Ronnie Wood, and… well just look up “british invasion guitarists” online and they pretty much all got their amps directly from Jim Marshall!


To this day, they are still making Marshal amps in England, with much of the work being done by hand.  And they still have that distinctive Rock and Roll sound… It simply is legendary.


As my over-the-top friend pointed out in the sales meeting this morning pointed out as he was standing in front of that literal wall of marshall 4×12 cabinets…  “No other amp company in the world could pull that off and get away with it without being totally corny!”


So the Moral of this story is, if you run a music shop and you see a long haired rock and roller come into your shop… you should treat him REALLY badly, so he will go someplace else and cause an ICONIC brand to be created!


Actually, that’s not the moral of the story.


Here’s the moral of the story!  Marshall = Rock’n’roll!  Plain and simple!


Just like I am offering 10% off Epiphone guitars, I will also be offering 10% off on any Marshall amp that you order if you contact me before the next gear stories issue comes out (roughly a month)




But here’s the kicker… Buy a Marshall amp WITH an Epiphone guitar and you will get 15% off!


Two Great Tastes that taste great together!


Until next time!


I look forward to being of service.


Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer


800 222 4700 x 1352

260 432 8176 x 1352 (outside the U.S.)

260 432 1758 FAX

[email protected]


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My own personal web site can be found here…  http://www.dreamrodeo.com/


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