z Gear Stories episode 41

Gear Stories 41  The stocking stuffer edition!


Greetings shoppers!  Are you panicked yet?


I hope this little issue of Gear Stories helps with an idea or two!


I send this out once a month, so it shouldn’t choke your inbox, but if you don’t want to get it, let me know and I’ll take you off the list.



As usual, I will start with a couple small bits of news!


First of all,  we have worked a special deal with the BLUE microphone company  (one of my absolute favorites!)  We can get the KIWI mic for a very limited time for a WHOPPING $500 off!


This is a phenomenal vocal mic, with multiple polar patters… and normally goes for $1999…. I can do it for $1499 for the next week or so!  Limited supplies, so if you need a GREAT high end studio mic, call me ASAP!  Here’s the link  It’s a secret sale, so you have to contact me directly!






Also, from Blue, I am running a sale on premium cables!  Their highest end premium cable, the “Quad Cable” which normally goes for $29.99… I’m going them for half price until the end of the year… 14.99




And they also offer what is called the Dual cable… A little less expensive, but still a premium cable… Normally it goes for $19.99, and until the end of the year, I can sell them for $11.99.  But you have to call me… This does not reflect on the web site or internet orders.






Next, Pro Tools 10 has been available for $599 through the months of November and December… but at the end of the year, the price goes up to $699…. Don’t wait until January first!




Lastly on the news front,


We are offering 12 months interest free financing on the Sweetwater credit card until the end of the year!  If you want one, you have to apply online…  So let us help you finish all your holiday musician shopping!  Here’s the link!






Now, the “Deconstructed song” for December… Of course, it’s a Christmas song, and of course, it’s not in English!  (most of you know me by now!)    It’s a French carol, that we English speakers refer to as “Bring A Torch”, and I really played with the images of dark and light with this one…  Of course, the torch being the image of light, and without darkness, the light doesn’t shine!  (getting DEEP on you this Christmas!)  Here’s the link!  Enjoy!




Merry Christmas!


Now on to the Gear Stories!  This is the Stocking stuffer issue!






PIGTRONIX!  The pedal company with the funny name and GREAT sounding pedals.


Recently, we had a new company present their products to us, and I have never seen such excitement generated by a new product as I have by those little pedals!


I want to stop the misconception right off the bat that these are “guitar pedals”  Certainly they are ideal for guitar, but they are far from limited to guitarists!  in fact, they even make a pedal called the “Keymaster” (These guys have the FUNNIEST product names of any company I have ever come across!)


The Keymaster is specifically designed to adjust the gain of the signal coming in so that all Pigtronix pedals can be used by keyboardists, or Studio guys that are sending their recorded signal through these pedals!




The two things that are great about this company are:


#1.  These pedals are completely unique!  Each one does something that no other pedal company does!  There are a few things on the market that might come sort of close, but  the approach Pigtronix takes is so unique, that the sound they make is like NO OTHER!


And #2.  These are completely analog and ABSOLUTELY QUIET!  So many pedals out there add noise… and pedal lovers out there like to have a lot of pedals!  So, if you string eight or ten pedals together and they all add a little bit of noise, at the end of the chain, you get a total hiss-fest!   It can take your unique sound and make it uniquely unlistenable!  NOT SO with Pigtronix!  The president of the company was rocking out in front of us with a Stratocaster slung over his shoulder and every pedal he played for us, he would stop playing, mute the strings and say “Listen… NO NOISE!”  and it was true… they weren’t gated… they were just quiet!  Amazing!


They make a few distortion pedals, like most pedal companies do, but the distortions that they created sounded like none I have ever heard… There was no trace of Fizz!  Nothing nasty, it was just pure unadulterated tone!  It was a truly beautiful thing!


All these links have videos with great audio examples… Anything that sounds interesting to you, you should watch the videos… They will blow your mind, and they will tell you all the information that I just don’t have the time to write about… Watch them!


Here are their flavors of distortion:







One pedal that is SORT of like a distortion, but not…  Kind of like a sustainer, but not…  Kind of like a compressor, but not…  is called the “Philosopher’s Tone”  it combines elements of traditional compressor/sustainer/distortion pedals to create this little beauty that literally sucks the tone right out of your instrument and holds it up in front of your face and hangs on to it long enough for you to go out for a bite and come back… It’ll still be singing! (tip of the hat to legendary guitarist Nigel Tuffnel)


Here is this amazing pedal…




They have a pedal that takes a unique approach to voltage and envelope generating and can turn an ordinary guitar into an extraordinary mono synthesizer!  It sounds like NOTHING else!  It’s called the “Mother Ship”




So what happens when the Philosopher’s Tone gets together with the Mother Ship and have a little pedal baby?  The “Philosopher King!”




Then there are a few modulation type effects…   Starting with a very atypical Phaser pedal that can shift phase upon phase in ways that you won’t believe…




And then a tremolo pedal… I know I’m sounding like a broken record… it’s unique… everything they make takes a unique approach… A lot of people have made tremolo pedals throughout the years, but none like this…  It combines tremolo with envelope generation, and you get something brand new!  The “Tremvelope!”




And then there is my absolute favorite!  It’s called the “Echolution” and it deals with delay and signal modulation, in combinations never before heard.  The thing about the sound of this pedal is that it is absolutely beautiful!   There was an echoey chorused sound that this created that when I heard it, I felt like I was melting (in a good way… if that’s possible)  It was truly the most beautiful and even archetypal chorus sound I have ever heard…  I want this for my studio in a BIG WAY!


Here’s the link… If you don’t check out any of the others, check this one out!




Generally, the prices of these pedals are extremely affordable, too, especially considering they are completely analog pedals and completely made here in the good old USA!  And we have most of them in stock for immediate delivery by Christmas!


Until the end of the year, I am giving 10% off these pedals, but you have to contact me to get that discount!





Part two… Headphones for around a hundred dollars!


I get people calling often asking “What’s the best headphones I can get for around a hundred dollars?”  That may seem like a simple question, but it’s absolutely NOT!  I always respond with a series of questions…  “What are you using them for?  Tracking? Monitoring in the control room?  Mixing?  Just listening to music for pleasure?”


We sell a lot of headphones… if you want to be overwhelmed with choices, check out this link!  http://www.sweetwater.com/c412–Headphones


Not only are there a lot, but different ones are good for different things.  Let’s go down the list.


Tracking and overdubbing:


Let’s say you are tracking vocals, or acoustic instruments, or even drums… The performing musician probably wants the headphones loud!  They want to get into the mood, and they want to hear themselves really well, and then they want to hear the backing track better so they can stay in tune, and then they can’t hear themselves, so please turn that up!  It’s a never ending cycle until the headphones are so loud that you might as well just bring them into the control room and blast away through the speakers while you track!


What you need for that situation, is the EXTREME ISOLATION EX 29 headphones!   http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EX29/


The gentleman who designed these got his inspiration from those guys at the airport that guide the planes into the gate with those little glow sticks!  They wear these big, bulky ear muffs to protect their ears from the noise of standing a few yards away from screaming jet engines!  In fact, the man that founded extreme isolation simply figured out how he could put speakers inside those ear muffs and voila!  Done!


He came to Sweetwater one day and gave a demonstration.  He was playing the Eagles “Hotel California” though these headphones so loud that it was kind of painful to be near them, and then he clamped them closed and suddenly I could hear NOTHING!  I was so impressed that I got my own pair that very day, and that has been the headphones that I use for tracking ever since!


There is an added benefit… They are SO goofy looking that nobody with any sense of fashion would ever be tempted to steal them, so you will have them for a while!


Control Room monitoring:


I have spent a lot of time in a lot of control rooms, and sometimes the soundproofing is not so good, so when you are engineering a tracking or overdubbing session, you have to do it with headphones instead of using the speakers.   In this situation, you definitely want something that sounds good, but ALSO, comfort is a factor.   Ear fatigue sets in after a few hours, not just from that fact that you are listening to headphones, but also the physical fact that there are these speakers being pressed against your head… squeezing you!  I used to dread that kind of session until I ran into the AKG K240 headphones!




I sat for several days, almost 8 hours a day with these headphones on and I almost forgot I had cans on at all!  They were incredibly conformable, the sound was even and musical, pleasant to listen to, and the semi open nature of the design allowed for them to breathe and not turn into stifling little ovens on the side of your head.


Simple Musical listening:


O.K, so not everybody is a studio guy, and not everybody needs the kind of things that are needed in a recording environment… Some people just like to listen to music and drown out the world!  I’m all for that.  For that, I highly recommend these sony headphones…




I certainly mean no disrespect to these headphones… The longest running set of headphones I have ever had is one of these…  (Actually, I believe an older model, but of the same ilk from Sony from MANY many years ago!)  I still have them and still use them.


They are pretty comfortable,  but not of the semi open style, so they drown out background noises a bit better than the AKG’s I was just talking about.  In my opinion, I get more of a hyped sound out of these cans… they have a bit of a boost in the low end, and also a boost in the high frequency, which gives the listener a heightened sense of intensity.  That’s not necessarily a good thing in the studio (Unless you are giving them to a visitor to listen), but for somebody to kick back for a while and play their favorite new CD, or even play video games without disturbing anyone, these are GREAT!


HEY!!!  I think I’ve figured out what to give my neighbor who works nights all week and on the weekends plays “Warcraft”  all night with the volume cranked to eleven!




That’s a tough one.  I get people asking me about that all the time.  What are the best headphones for mixing in.  The answer is “Monitor Speakers!”  Headphones are NOT the best tools for mixing.  You may end up using too much reverb, since you won’t hear sound bouncing off surfaces as you would listening to speakers in a room, you may make panning decisions that don’t work the way you hoped since when you listen on speakers, your left ear hears sound from the right speaker and vice versa, but you don’t get that with headphones, and it’s hard to make accurate decisions about bass, just because of the physics – the particular configuration of your ear canals become much more of a factor with headphones.  Having said that, with so many people listening to music on earbuds, you almost need to at least check your mixes in headphones, and for mixing, I would recommend these…




Then they scoff at me, and if they still are willing to speak to me, I say, “Well, if your budget is around a hundred dollars and you still want to mix with headphones on, then these are probably going to be your best bet…




German engineering has always  been about precision, and for mixing, precision is what you need. (And Sennheiser is one of the most famous German companies in the world!)


SO depending  on what you are going for, you have quite an arsenal available to you…  Hopefully my wife will read this and then finally understand why I have so many headphones all around the studio!


Until the end of the year, give me a call and get 15% off of any of these “around-$100-headphones” I have mentioned.


Until next time, have a happy holiday season… spend as much time with your friends and family as possible, and make some GREAT music!


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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