Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On December 21, I had a studio session to complete the vocals and harmonica for a couple of songs on a forth coming NiteRail CD (assuming we finish writing it).  I chose to not be at the tracking session for these two cuts and hadn’t really had the chance to listen to them before going in. 

I do not have audio from the session yet.  I did take some pics and vids with my phone, but the quality of the audio was so bad I didn’t save it.  I will post the rough mixes on this blog after Christmas.

I used an Ultimate 57 plugged straight in to my HarpGear Double Trouble.  I chose to not use a delay pedal.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted a short or long delay (or combo) on one of the tracks, so I decided to add it in from the board.  Playing totally live in this particular room was really unforgiving.  No hiding any mistakes here!

I did mike both my speakers, which are not stock.  The condenser is on a Weber Sig Ceramic, and the 57 is on a Weber 8F125.  I felt the playback sounded pretty much identical to what I was hearing in the room at the time. 

For the two tunes, I was able to use quite a few harps.  On one track (“North Wind”), I used an A, B, and E…the other (“Eventually”) was an Ab harp.  The intro is in second position on an A harp.  Then I switch to a B harp to follow a key change during the guitar solo.  “North Wind” has some pretty crazy third position stuff towards the end on an E harp.  Originally I cut the solo to be very melodic and spacey.  The engineer suggested I try a few takes going all out.  In the end, I kept the all out track…it is fast, flashy, and intense, but it fits the tune really well. 

“Eventually” had me jamming over a short, funky vamp and playing back up harp (which is not something I do a lot of).  Typically, I’d play third position for funk, but this song was dying for some low harp.  In my head, I was totally hearing William Clarke, but the solo was so short (and only one chord) that I ended up with jazzier feel by phrasing around the 5th and 7th of the chord…almost like playing third position on the wrong harp!  I guess I ended up with a Carey Bell meets Pat Ramsey sort of thing going, ha!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I was out of state over Thanksgiving, but had a sweet new toy waiting for me when I got back!  I had sent my gig mic, an SM 57, to Greg Heumann at  For $129 he turned it into one of his "Ultimate 57's".  The mic works exactly like a regular SM 57, but besides the difference in appearance, the mic is smaller, lighter, and now has a volume control.

I also have an original volume control from Greg.  Because of the nature of using a 57 and his original design for the volume control, the stand alone unit could never fully turn off the mic.  However, the Ultimate 57 allows me to turn the mic "off".  This took me about one song to get used to.  I play a lot of rhythm parts and had to adjust my use of the knob.  With the other unit, I was able to roll it all the way counter clockwise and have enough signal to comp.  Now, I have to remember to leave it on about 50% or so.

Tone wise, the two set ups sound identical, which sound just like a 57 without the volume control.  I love my new mic!  It looks great, works great, and the difference in size and weight is of great advantage to me.

If it broke and could not be repaired, I'd for sure buy another one from Greg.

This mic is perfect for going wireless - although the wireless strips some of the Double Trouble's punch - just check out the difference in my mic rigs!

The Ultimate with the wireless transmitter is still smaller than just the 57 with a regular volume control.

Here is my "Lightsaber" rig that I hardly used due to the huge size.  If the wireless didn't suck tone (I try and compensate by running the tone control full out, but there is still some spank missing) I'd use it full time.  With amps that have a three band eq and not a "high cut" type knob, you can get the wireless to sound just like a cable, IMO.  I might put a small pedal board together this holiday season and hope that one of the pedals gives me some of the presence back.  The Kinder AFB+ kinda does that.  I'd like to note that I used the mic at one gig wireless into the AFB then amp.  The next night, I went with a cable right into a delay and then into the amp (no feedback problems at all...amp on 7 and tone on 6).

I thought I'd have clips with the new mic and DT for you, but no luck.  I thought we were taping our December shows, but that hasn't been the case.  Hopefully this weekend!  I thought about taping at home, but it is a full band setting that counts!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I've been out of state and swamped lately.  I did a gig with the DT this past weekend and it was amazing.  I also got to use my new Ultimate 57 from  I was supposed to record yesterday, but a broken pipe at the engineers house bumped me to later in the week.  I will post a full blog with pics/vids from the studio as soon as we wrap hopefully this weekend.