z Gear Stories episode 8

Gear Stories 8, For the Bass Player, & The BIG Kahuna!


Once again, my friends, it’s time for Gear Stories!


If you’re just joining us, there are two basic principles.


1.  If you don’t want to receive this, let me know and I’ll take you off the list.  (But I can’t IMAGINE why you wouldn’t want Gear Stories!)


2.  I start with something in an easily attainable price point, and then secondly write about something more “High End”  … and as a special treat this month, there’s an added bonus at the end, guaranteed to make you smile if you are a total music geek!


So, without further ado, here we go!




Part ONE: Finally, something for the Bass player!  The MAX 158 practicer amp!


I have not meant to neglect you, my  friends in the low end of the spectrum… we NEED you badly.   Why, some of my best friends are Bass players!


A very good friend of mine named Scott, who is not only my Sweetwater customer, but has been recording at my studio since I was in a garage, recently bought the Peavey MAX 158 Practice amp for bass.  A few weeks later, he brought it to the studio, RAVING about it.


“I couldn’t believe it,” he said, “I thought I would have to run this through a PA at practice, but it is unbelievably LOUD!  I just set it there and play through it, and it’s all I need!”


Now, mind you, he’s not a member of Slayer or anything, and when he practices, it’s usually with  his cousin Dave on drums, and that’s all… but I’ve recorded Dave, too… and he does not play quietly!  (Do you really know any drummers that do?)  The fact that he’s able to stand up to a drummer and hold his own with just this little 8 inch speaker is amazing!


So he pulled it out of his car, plugged it in and turned it up right there is my control room!  “Not only is it loud,” he continued, shouting, “but it actually sounds good!”


We spent the next fifteen minutes playing with it, during which I was terrified that my neighbors would start complaining… but happily, they must have been out for the evening!


It DID sound good… It has a switch to choose between modern and vintage sounds… (I preferred vintage, because I’m old), and it has low, mid and high eq controls.  Also a line in if you want to play along with your favorite band.  It has a headphone jack in case your neighbors are NOT out for the evening, and at only 18 pounds, it beats hauling around a huge Ampeg rig!


So if you need something quick, easy, and good sounding for practice, or even small venue gigs, this thing normally goes for $99.99….  and for the month of August, I’ll knock ten bucks off that… all you have to do is call me!


Here’s the link to it’s page on the web site.







And now… Part Two!   The Big Kahuna…  PRO TOOLS!


Face it, there are a LOT of Digital Audio Workstation programs out there, and they all have their place, but the BIG KAHUNA is Pro Tools.


It’s kind of like the word “Band Aid” ™ … you may stretch a Curad over that owie, but inevitably, people are going to call it a “Band-aid” ™


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a session open in Digital Performer or Logic, and someone points to the screen and refers to it as Pro Tools!  It’s what people think of when they think of computer based recording, and let’s face it, there’s hardly any other kind of recording done anymore.  …But why is that?


Well, first of all, hands down, they were the first!


Other programs like Digital performer started as very nice MIDI sequencers, and some of those still are preferred by people who work primarily in MIDI, but when it comes to digital Audio, that’s where Pro Tools started!  They started the game and have remained ahead of the game since day one.  They have continued to define the parameters of what Digital editing functions should be, and with this newest version, 7.4 … they have done it again.


The Coolest innovation yet is the amazing ability to control the tempo of your session without compromising the sound quality.  With simple automation like you can control the volume or panning or any number of other controls, you can take a session and draw a line with your mouse and the song will speed up or slow down to ridiculous tempos, and with absolute crystal clarity!


In other time stretching functions I have heard, strange noises can be added when the audio is stretched or compressed too far, but you just don’t hear that with Pro Tools.  And for those of you who used to play with the record player speed knob, it doesn’t turn you into Alvin and the chipmunks or James Earl Jones!


Of course, a disadvantage of this can be if somebody sends a file from one studio to another to have some tracks overdubbed, and for some reason, the tempo gets automated slower during that tracking session, and then the new tracks are sent back to the original studio, and they don’t synch up!  (You know who you are out there!)


Of course, if you want to get into the absolute top of the line pro Tools systems, with all the best interfaces and the big HD accell cards, and the ICON control surfaces, you can easily spend over 100 thousand dollars!  A bit rich for my blood, but the good news is that there are several levels that you can enter into pro tools on!  Pro Tools HD is highly customizable, and can be configured all the in so many ways that the prices can very from eight thousand dollars up to the stratosphere… but even your average Joe like you and me can get into it on the LE level.  And by the way, unlike some other programs, the LE version is basically as fully functional as the big time HD systems!  it’s the hardware that makes the big difference!


There is the Digi 003 which comes in a rack mountable system as well as a control surface with 8 faders.  It has eight analog inputs (which can be expanded to up to eight more with ADAT light pipe) and four of it’s inputs have mic preamps!  these systems can be gotten into for under fifteen hundred dollars (that’s for the factory Bundle, which is LOADED with cool plug ins!)  And there are also the M-Box interfaces, which range from $249 for the micro (just a small usb playback unit) to $699 for the M Box Pro, with  several additional inputs and outputs.


Any of these systems will get you into a fully functional, full fledged Pro Tools system!


One question I get all the time is, “How much does it cost to get into Pro Tools software and just use it with my existing system?”  THAT, my friends is the big rub.  Pro Tools itself is basically FREE!  The most popular professional recording software in the world and it’s FREE!?


Basically, yes… HOWEVER, you MUST use Digidesign  hardware to get your signal into Pro Tools!  it basically will not work without it!  that’s because Digidesign is a hardware company!   That’s why the systems are so variable… Digi (as we affectionately call them!) makes GREAT hardware, from the M Box micro TO the D Control ( which can come in a bundle that goes for about $140k!) at any price point, Digi leads the way in quality and reliability!


SInce I can’t send you to one link to look at Pro Tools, or quote you one great low price for Pro Tools, let me make this offer…  ANY pro tools purchase this month made by one of you from me, will get an additional 10% off the posted sale price!  (with the exception of the educational packages which are already heavily discounted!)


It just might be the right time for you to finally make that leap into the BIG KAHUNA!




And now, as promised and hinted to at the beginning of this e-mail, a special treat.


It’s an entertaining little story that was sent to me by one of you guys!  Danny Olson, from Louisville CO sent this to me, and if you are a true music geek, you will absolutely laugh your behind off!


If you read this and you don’t find it funny, take heart…  you are a normal human being and have no reason to fear being stereotyped!


I am not normal…  I laughed WAY too hard at this, and then posted it on the wall of my office.



C, E-flat, and G go into a bar


C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says:

“Sorry, but we don’t serve minors.” So the E-flat leaves, and the C

and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the

fifth is diminished and the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries

to augment the situation, but is not sharp



D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying,

“Excuse me, I’ll just be a second.” Then an A comes into the bar,

but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a



Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and

exclaims, “Get out now. You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this

bar tonight.”


The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next

night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender

(who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized)

says, “You’re looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a

major development.”


This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and

everything else, and stands there au natural.


Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he’s under

a rest.

The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the

diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without

Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C

is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all

accusations to the contrary are bassless.



Share that one with all your friends and enjoy the blank looks!  See you next month!