5ooo yen is what it cost me to replace the AC adapter for my Hughes & Kettner Tubeman pre-amp. All that for some copper and plastic, plus another $100 to replace some knobs and it still isn’t working perfectly. The treble control is scratchy, and the Master volume cuts in when the thing vibrates too much, or the mode-selector is pushed. However it was worth it because even partially operational, this thing is the SHITE! The clean sounds are so good, especially pumped into the power stage of my Boogie. Driving the input of the power tubes in different ways really sounds great.

You can really do anything with this preamp using the different modes and outputs. For example:

JAZZ (WARM & MELLOW CLEAN): I revived this to make give solid-state amps like the Roland JC-120 have more character. The JAZZ channel is perfect for this because I can bypass the preamp altogether. The manual said this channel cam emulates a Polytone or Fender Bassman. These are very different amps, but with the gain, tone controls and boost switch you have alot of control over the basic sound.

FUNK (CLEAN/TREBLE BOOST): This is the best clean sound I’ve ever heard EVER, especially with single coil pickups. The top end sparkles so nicely, but the sound still retains warmth. This is great for a “clean boost” or direct recording (ala Nile Rogers according to the manual) Ironically, it gives you a sound very similar to going direct but with more character. If you push the gain, it will start to sound harsh but I imagine that this work like treble booster in front of a tube-amp.

BLUES (Overdrive/crunch): This is the mode for guitarists who like to control their gain using the volume control on their guitar. It also has a ridiculous amount of output for pushing the input of a tube amp, so I think this mode was intended to be used as a stomp box or extra channel for your amp. It’s certainly the most versatile mode and would be worth the price if it were the only one.

ROCK (HIGH GAIN DISTORION): This is the DISTORTION PEDAL mode. The difference between this mode and the others is that you can’t get a clean sound with this one. It has the most gain, but it still remains transparent and articulate. I didn’t like this mode so much initially, but I later discovered that it was my bridge pickup I didn’t like. The preamp only made the harshness in the pickup more noticable. You also need some reverb/ambience to get the most out of it direct.

It’s ironic that this thing was revamped and discontinued because it was really ahead of it’s time. Guitarists just didn’t get it because of the generic and misleading names given to the four modes.
It’s only funtional drawback is that while it can do anything, it can only do one thing at a time. This thing is the daddy of all that Line 6 stuff, the Roland COSM technology, Korg’s REMS, and whatever proprietary marketing gimmick ZOOM, Vox and all the others have developed to trick guitarists into buying software code instead of hardwired circuits. The only advantage of those things is variety and convenience, but none of them run at 12 volts. To get a good electric guitar sound, you need electricity and lots of it.


Random thoughts on picking:

Pick swiftly but not hard. Try to gut the strings like a sword rather than hooking them like a boxer. The way to do this is a combination of arm and wrist movement. The muscles in your shoulder can generate more speed and power than your wrist which should pivot away from the plane of the string to avoid dragging it down. This technique is also really useful for playing chord melodies. It’s possible to make the melody note stand out by accelerating your pick just as it gets to the top string. Loosening your grip on the chord to dampen it also highly effective. So is catching the same chord with the upstroke. One of the most seemingly challenging things is deciding whether to start a phrase on an upstroke or downstroke to get the most efficient string crossing for the phrase. Practice!

Three discoveries:

Discovery#1- After geeking out and watching three episodes of the Sarah Connor Chronicles every night, I understand why she gets second billing to the Terminator. The show suffers from the same lameness that all movies adapted for TV shows do (exception: M.A.S.H., Odd Couple) being that anything on Fox is lame to start with (exception: X-Files) . What got me watching it is my great love of time paradoxes, cyborgs and AI’s. Summer Glau is pretty good as the latter. Watching the emotional development of her Terminator is interesting, an she’s alot cuter than Brent Spiner. Anything can happen anytime in Star Trek, like Lt. Data’s “emotion-chip.” However, the comparitive crudeness of the terminator makes you wonder how real her emotions are and how far they will develop. Even more impressive is Garret Dillahunt plays FIVE DIFFERENT ROLES over the course of 2 seasons, and is convincing and entertaining in all them: robot white man, B-movie actor, Beastmaster, cunning predator, childlike AI. It’s ironic that the other actors playing the “humans” in this show were incapable of that (exception: Stephanie Jacobsen -rrrrr!)

Discovery#2 – About three years ago, I acquired a broken Boss CE-1 on eBay. I’ve been trying to fix this hunk of junk to resell. The final obstacle was cleaning the chassis. I let it sit in my closet for MONTHS before using an old toothbrush to scrub it down occured to me. It looks much better now.

Discovery#3 – On the D-G-B strings in the middle of the guitar, I worked out an exercise for playing different types of minor scales inside a 4-fret radius. These are all just one-octave using one finger per fret. It’s usesful as finger training through one of the trickest parts of the guitar, and also is an easy way to compare visually and aurally the subtle differences between different minor scales, modes, diminished and diminished-whole tone (aka Super Locrian.) Many of these scales only differ from another by a half step (e.g. harmonic minor/natural minor, natural minor/phrygian, phrygian/locrian, locrian/super locrian, etc.) The exception is the diminished scale which is different in construction and sound, and much more useful than the others. So really, this excercise is about helping me to learn the diminished scale.

Here is a reBlog from Xanga:

The Chords that Were Never There

It baffles me how I couldn’t come up with any decent ideas to play over those two bars in Valdez in the Country that go F#9-F9-E9. So I played ii-V7s and it sounded like bebop – not the effect I was looking for so I put the guitar down and sat on the couch. That’s when I remembered a sequence of chords I tried to play when I was transcribing the tune:

|Ab7b5-G7-|Gb7 aug.—|

These chords are just a whole-step up from the correct chords, and share the tri-tones. I read about this trick, but could never use it until I realized that I heard it. So I played those chords instead of F#aug-F13-E7 and suddenly it sounded good.

Why bother with the chords that are already there?

Eddie sent me a long list of standards to learn by our session at Blues-Tsuki on the 25th. When you say “session” in Japan, it’s used as an abbreviation for “jam session. ” However Eddie has warned me that this is not what this will be. It’s really a stage-test for me to see if our styles are “stylistically compatible.” I’ve been trying to convince him that they are, despite my preference for more modern and danceable jazz. After all, I played with him in his club every Friday for 6 months, and before that at Crossoroads in New Jersey. Nevertheless, he says that my repetiore of standards is not enough– in otherwords, I still have some dues to pay before I can be considered a “serious jazz guitarist.” This is the whole point, of course. My heroes George Benson and Pat Martino both cut their teeth and debuted professionally with organ trios, so I want to put myself in a similar situation. Only the chittlin-circuit is long gone, and so is Eddie’s Lounge so I have to create the situation for myself now. I’m hoping we can continue these sessions every Monday night or every other Monday. First I’ve got some homework to do…

They’re not major discoveries, but many little ones plus great weather make for happy days:

-A conveyor sushi restaurant about 10 min. away by bike means I’ve been eating well within my new budget. The ride there and back is very nice, too. Yet no matter how slowly I chew, I get sleepy after eating it.
-Japan raised beef practically melts in your mouth, but I’d really rather chew it (with beer).
-Turning my amp‘s volume down to “1,” stuffing pillows in front of the speaker, and the connecting the slave output to my Korg Px4 with some cab simulators increases my time and enjoyment practicing into the wee hours.
-My proofreading skills are not as hot as I thought, but still quite good.
-Finding an excuse to annoying my boss everyday with some minor issue is having an effect.
– My wife’s credit card debits my back account 2 months after her purchase — not one.
-Different branches of Kuroneko Yamato Takkyubin charge different rates!
Finale Notepad 2009 is NOT free like the previous versions.
-Ejaculating is like temporarily castrating yourself.
-My son loves Ice Road Truckers as much as I do.
-My chin and jaw look nice even without a beard.
-Discover is perhaps life’s greatest joy.

What was different about today? I practiced so much!
-Don’t Blame Me
-Beautiful Love
-Fly Me to the Moon
-Another You
-Tell Me Bedtime Story
-ii-V7-I lick incorporating Db triad
-new two-finger min.7 arpeggio
-min.7b5 arpeggio’s around the cycle (many new shapes)
-major scales with a chromatic line on the high E-string
-cool funk progression using 2nd inversion min.7 to closed voice min.9 chord, and then a new aug.7 chord voicing. All chords share a root on the 4th string. Also, I realized a bit late that the new dom.7+ chord is really the same form. Only the root is different.

One problem with my practice session was maybe spending more effort and concentration on technique than tunes.