Changing Things Up

Pedalboards are always changing. At least they always change for me.

I was not enjoying the tones I was getting from the Strymon Iridium. I was thinking about going back to amps as I missed the feel of playing through an amp. The Iridium was fine but not great.

The thought of hauling heads and cabs out to gigs is not very appealing. Especially at my age. What should I do? And then along came IK Multimedia’s big announcement, the Tonex Pedal.

Admittedly, I doubt that the Tonex Pedal will change the world. I ordered one of the first ones to arrive at Sweetwater. And I love the tones coming out of that box.

I am travelling right now so I can’t update my pedalboard as it is back home. I have been playing through a virtual rig on the laptop using Neural DSP’s plugins. Those plugins sound great. As do the Tonex models. I’m now running Amplitube with Tonex as my virtual rig until I get home.

To add Tonex to the pedalboard means making a few changes. I used one of the online pedalboard designers to craft the new board.

A few changes. I had added the Eventide H90 to the board which kicked the BigSky off but I miss the BigSky. As the H90 can easily cover pitch and chorus, I will kick off the Pog and the Julia and bring back the BigSky.

The Tonex will displace the Strymon Iridium. And, sadly, I have to kick off the Timmy and I need to replace the Deep Six compressor with a smaller form factor pedal. I have a few compressors in the studio and I might just throw the Keeley compressor on the board.

With the RJM Mastermind, I don’t have to worry too much about pedal order and cabling as I can readily rearrange pedal order in the Mastermind. I will have a fair amount of re-wiring to do on the board which might involve a day or two of effort.

After which I will likely spend a fair amount of time dialing in the new tones.

Until I decide to change the board again.

Travelling With An Electric Guitar

Back in the day, way back in the day now, touring with my guitar rig was relatively straight forward. I had a flight case and I either hauled an amp in the truck or used backline gear at the venue. Pedalboards were not much of a thing when I was touring. I had 3 or 4 pedals with me: an MXR Phaser, an MXR Flanger, an MXR Distortion+ and a Cry Baby wah pedal. We used to tune up during sound checks.

I know, I know. So primitive.

Now retired, I like to spend the winters south where the weather is not so harsh as it is in Canada. This year I travelled to the southwest driving roughly 3,500 miles over the past three weeks. Frequent stops in major cities from the east coast all the way over to the west coast.

Before the trip I pondered how I should bring an electric guitar with me. Or should I even try? I was debating on renting gear once we arrived at our destination. After considerable deliberation this is how I decided to travel with my electric guitar.

If you have checked out my guitar gear you will see that I have a few electrics in the collection. Some new, some old. Most are very expensive instruments and I was reluctant to bring any of the top tier guitars with me. I settled on my Sire Larry Carlton T7. It is a Tele style guitar that plays really well.

Here is a picture of that guitar in the condo we have rented in Nevada:

I carried the guitar in one of my Mono gig bags.

I was bringing my MacBook Pro with me and thought it would be a good idea to see if an amp sim would be good enough to use for practice during my three-month journey away from home.

I auditioned dozens of different amp sims and settled on the Neural DSP Tone King. What an amazing sound! I found myself wishing that my physical rig sounded as good as this virtual one.

To get the sound in and out of the guitar sim, I needed a compact audio interface. I have several interfaces in the studio, all mounted in racks. Definitely not portable. But I found the Universal Audio Volt 1 to be the ticket for the trip. Small, inexpensive, and bus-powered. Sounds good and connects easily to the MacBook Pro with a USB-C cable and no obnoxious software drivers. The Neural DSP Tone King does require an iLok but since I am doing some audio work during my time south, I needed to bring my iLok for my Pro Tools rig so that wasn’t an issue. I did find that I needed a high-speed USB-C cable for the Volt 1. The cheaper USB-C cables introduced audio glitches.

Aside from having to bring the guitar into the hotel room at every stop, the rest of the gear fit easily into a backpack. I brought along my AKG K702 headphones for the Pro Tools work I am doing down here as I do not have any external monitors with me.

The rig — guitar, Volt 1, Neural DSP, headphones — sounds amazing and it is inspiring to play through it. Best of all it is lightweight and it allows me to keep my chops current.

Shoreline Church

Shoreline. That one is in Toronto. I, on the other hand, am referring to a church in Austin, Texas. A megachurch. Somewhere around 8,000 or so people attend each week.

My friends at Avid invited me to a webinar with a couple of the production staff and Brown Note Productions to learn about their complete production workflow.

Not really all that complete mind you. The webinar focused primarily on how Shoreline was using Avid products for their audio production.

The session was posted to YouTube and if you are interested you can give it a look.

What stood out from the discussion for me was how much money that church had invested in their audio production. For example, this was a shot of their broadcast room:

Acoustically treated room. Beautiful desk. And what else do I see there? Might those be a pair of Barefoot MicroMain 27s? A fully decked out S4? An Avid Matrix?

Equipment and buildout costs were not mentioned however a room like that would easily exceed $500,000 in Canada.

The topology of the audio environment that was shared on the webinar looks like this:

They have an S6L-32D for FOH and an S6L-24D for monitors along with the S4. A couple of E6L engines, a 24×24 IO for the broadcast space and a Stage 64. The FOH and Monitor consoles, along with the engines, would run about $400,000 up here in Canada. Without installation costs and all of the related cable plant. Not hard to envision a couple of million for that installation not including the rest of the FOH, lighting, and video components.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to mix behind an S6L or an S4. But that is some serious money for a church to spend on audio.

Definitely state of the art.

Hibernation Ending

It has been too long since I last posted on this website. I suppose I could blame it all on my other website. I am posting  about our new adventures in retirement over there. And most of my friends have shifted over to that website.

However, this one has been on the web since 2004. A lot of my life is on this website and it seems inappropriate to leave it dangling.

Time to awaken from the lengthy slumber.

Happy Canada Day

Canada Day weekend is here. And it is a very warm weekend indeed. Temperatures are in the 30 Celsius range with the humid reaching 40 Celsius or so. In December, we were experiencing colder temperatures than the North Pole. Six months later our weather is warmer than Miami, Florida.

I’ve been working on a new camera body for our upcoming travel to Norway later this month. As much as I love my Nikon gear, it is too big and too heavy for the type of traveling that we will be doing in Europe. The Leica is my favourite camera but I only have one lens and it is challenging, at least for me, to shoot a location without the benefit of being able to cover a wider focal range.

I had an Olympus OM-D E-M1 system that I really enjoyed. A micro four thirds system that was really light and offered good image quality.

I upgraded that camera body to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The Mark II is an incredibly feature-packed camera. I already had all of the lenses that I needed for the trip: 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and 12-40 F2.8. For the micro four thirds system, doubling the focal length yields the effective equivalence of 34mm, 50mm and 24-80mm coverage. Perfect range for my style of photography.

I took the camera out for some test shooting. The downtown landscapes are now showing beautiful flowers.

Out Of Office

Looks like an extended vacation is coming up soon on the out of office calendar.

6 months and 1 day until retirement.

Collings OM1 Julian Lage Edition

I received an email from my good friends at Collings Guitars. They included an update on a new signature model that Bill Collings had worked on until his passing:

When Bill Collings first met the brilliant young jazz musician Julian Lage, in 2014, the two began a series of in-depth conversations about their respective crafts. Lage’s profound insights as a guitarist would play a key role in the creation of Collings”™ T (Traditional) Series guitars. This rare collaboration, which continued right up until Bill”™s passing, in July, 2017, has yielded another exceptional new guitar with an old soul. We are proud to present a highly personal extension of the T Series: the Julian Lage Signature OM1.

You can find out more about this beautiful instrument here.

Leaving Port Canaveral


There is a sense of excitement and anticipation as you start your travel adventures. And a cruise is really no different. It is so cool to get that first view of the ship.

We had taken a Disney Cruise bus from our resort hotel in Orlando directly to the ship in Port Canaveral. I was able to get the above shot from my seat in the bus as we made our way to the terminal.

Unlike prior cruises, we literally just walked on. No waiting. Our stateroom was ready for us. Again, no waiting.


We had our first meal at the Enchanted Gardens restaurant.


We spent the balance of our first day exploring the ship. As you can tell from the photos, this ship is huge.

Oh, and yes, there were about 5,000 or so people on board. I’m not sure where they all went but I suspect either topside on the pool deck or unpacking luggage in their staterooms. The rest of the ship was literally empty.