Drinking green tea is supposed to help me stay awake to practice late nights, but last night I just feel asleep to Hark Garland. I’m using his chord-melody on Secret Love as my model for the tune. He doesn’t use too many diminished chords, but rather harmonizes everything using ii-V7s-Is. It’s a similar approach, but not as linear because the chords are moving in 5ths.

Cleaning up, I noticed on a turqoise chair in my practice room, there sits a coarse charcoal pillow with a trio of devices on top: a Barber Tone Press compressor connected to a Hughes & Kettner Tubeman preamp running into a Korg PX4 Pandora headphone amp with processor adding a little plate reverb. The Pandora is also connected to my stereo and Sony headphones.

All of this gear strikes me as a bit elaborate just for silent practicing. Once device should be sufficient. The Pandora’s box is supposed to do everything: compression, amp modelling, speaker simulation. Unfortunately it doesn’t do these things very well. The compression only has one paramater for adjustment, none of the amp models give you a good clean sound, and the cabinet simulators sound harsh and unbalanced.

Even so, the best sound I can get from this rig is nowhere near as good as a real amp. Recently I tried tweaking the compression and tone controls to get a better sound from the amp at low volumes (e.g. “1”). It turns out that increasing all the other levels compensates for the loss of tone when the master volume is low. This proves that most of the good tone is coming from the power tubes, not the preamp. The clipping I get from overdriving the tubeman is nothing like it.




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