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I was looking for a dependable, flexible and most importantly quiet power supply for my secondary pedalboard — Boss Loop Station, EHX Freeze, Arion SD4, DigiTech PDS-1002 and a TCE Wiretap. I had heard about TRUETONE’s new “pro” line from a friend of mine who was contemplating buying a VoodooLab Mondo I was selling — I’d trimmed my big board down, stepping down to a Walrus Audio Aetos power brick.
Best intentions aside, I eventually realized that (of course) I was going to need an additional power supply. I liked the Aetos both functionally (keeps things quiet, doesn’t get hot, bright blue LEDs so I know when it’s on) and aesthetically, but instead of just grabbing another one, I went trawling on Reverb for some other alternatives. I’d been through most of the VoodooLab series at one time or another, and have never had a bad experience with one, but I always balked at the prices. And, yes, the Walrus Audio power bricks are over-priced, too, but I found mine for an almost literal steal on Reverb, so there!
Anyway, I’ve been through several Dunlop DC Bricks and the various Chinese knock-offs (the quietest of which was the first one I purchased: a Mooer Micro). What I wanted was something with the features of the VL’s, but with a lower price tag and, preferably, a more compact size. I’m using an amptop HoleyBoard for the ‘extra’ pedals, so it needs to be something I can strap under the board and still allow enough clearance for the feet of the HoleyBoard to sit evenly on a flat surface. I remembered that my friend had been happy with the PRO CS12 he’d picked up instead of the Mondo, so I hit the wilds of Reverb until I found a great deal on a nearly-new CS7.
Sorry for the long wind-up, but the pitch is this: the PRO CS7 is great. Maybe not as pretty as the Aetos, but who’s looking underneath my pedalboard anyway? Plus, with all of its great voltage options, I’m seriously thinking about switching places between the CS7 and the Aetos, as the Walrus Audio supply has everything I need for my loop/sample/mangle board and the CS7 would allow me to run a couple of my main pedals at higher voltages for more headroom. I hope this review was helpful. Please visit my Reverb store to check out some of the funky gear (always coming and going, you know how it is) — and rock on!
This story is here In Internetto Permanente so that the next time I think about selling a guitar on eBay, I won’t. It’s a cautionary tale from me to me. Dumb me to dumber me.
Here we go …
On December 11, I sold a guitar via an eBay auction to a Buyer in Quebec, Canada. He contacted me the day after the auction and asked for some additional time (three more days) to pay for the item, and I agreed. When his payment finally went through, I shipped the guitar w/ gig bag and strap to him via the International Shipping Program.
A few days after the guitar would have reached him, he filed a return request based on the guitar’s condition; he sent me a photo of what appeared to be a two-inch scratch, and described it as being along the bottom right of the guitar’s body. I hadn’t noticed or documented the scratch or the area of the body where the scratch was supposed to be in my photos or description; it might have been there when I shipped the guitar, and it might not have been. In any case, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and approved the return. This, of course, put a charge on my PayPal account equivalent to the amount he’d paid for the guitar.
Up until this point I didn’t realize that the International Shipping Program had no process for Returns. This is information that they, for good reason, do not highlight while encouraging you to use the program. As I explored the nooks and crannies of eBay, trying to find a way to generate a shipping label for the return, I eventually stumbled on the fact that if an International Buyer requests a return, you’re going to have to navigate that minefield all by yourself. Great!
I contacted the Buyer to let him know that I would reimburse him for return shipping expenses via PayPal when I issued the rest of the refund: on receipt of the returned guitar. The Buyer, however, was under the impression that instead of a refund/return I would issue him a discount or partial refund for the damage. Since he had requested a Return, and the full amount of his purchase had been charged to my PayPal account, I explained that it would have to be a Refund/Return. And since I didn’t willingly sell him a damaged item, and couldn’t verify that the scratch had been on the guitar before I sent it to him, a Refund/Return would be more appropriate.
This resulted in a flurry of messages accusing me of criminal activity, threatening to have his lawyer contact me, etc. Obviously, I’d hit a sore spot. Here’s a sample.
Eventually, I received a message from eBay recommending that I go ahead and issue a refund and pay for return shipping in order to “close the case.” [Just FYI: That is the only message that eBay ever sent directly to me regarding this transaction, and it was likely an automated message.] I did so, and sent the Buyer an additional $50 USD to cover return shipping, no questions asked.
Afterwards, I messaged the buyer several times, using the politest language I could muster, trying to ascertain when the guitar would be shipped. No answer was forthcoming.
Finally, I received an automated notice from eBay that the case was closed. So that meant I should’ve gotten the guitar back already, right? There was still no response from the Buyer, so before writing him a 5th time, I requested a refund of the $50 USD via PayPal, as I’d not received any information regarding the return shipping. The Buyer quickly refunded the money without any explanation or information regarding shipment of the guitar.
Taking this as a sign that the Buyer was indeed alive and merely ignoring my messages, dumb me, I sent another message via eBay, trying to confirm whether or not he was returning the guitar.
This time, he did respond:
It now appears that dude got himself a free guitar. It even shows up that way under my “Selling” menu in eBay:
Have I learned anything from this experience — that is, besides “don’t sell a guitar on eBay”?
Well, I’ve learned that language and cultural differences can certainly complicate business matters. Of course, I feel that I was very clear and specific in every message I sent, but how clear was I really to someone who doesn’t regularly communicate in English, as evidenced by the Buyer’s sometimes incoherent messages. And how much did the Buyer’s struggle with communicating his ideas an unfamiliar language complicate the situation. Would this transaction have gone differently if we were both using our primary languages for communication?
Or maybe I’m still being too kind and trusting. Maybe this is this just another case of someone using “the system” — in this case, an online marketplace that has replaced human interaction and human trust with policies, procedures, and automated responses — to take advantage of someone else.
Anyway, I hope he enjoys the guitar.
One of my favorite ‘unheard’ guitar effects is Ibanez’s AW7 from their super-ugly but also super-versatile early 2000s Tone-Lock series. The AW in the name stands for Auto-Wah, but this stomper is not simply a clone of the usual Wah/Filter suspects. The designers of the AW7 took the auto-wah idea as a starting point and then just kept piling on the features. What they ended up with was a pedal that not only allows you to select from two distinct Wah/Filters — a standard Wah and a Low Pass Filter (LPF on the pedal) — but also gives you a sweetly raunchy Rat-like built-in distortion circuit that can be either completely off, placed BEFORE the Wah, or placed AFTER the Wah. This placement option is a cool feature that only a few boutique builders still bother with, but it allows you to experiment with a huge variety of tones. Like what? The tone chefs at Gibson.com have a good description:
Wah-wah placed before distortion will allow the distortion pedal to interact with the peaks and valleys of the Wah’s signal. Wah-wah placed after distortion will sound thick and full, but will not be as harmonically rich. It’s worth a try just to see what it sounds like, and although most players swap right back, don’t let that stop ya! Some very famous players have gone the ‘gain-into-Wah’ route.
On top of all that, you can also use the AW7 as a ‘cocked’ or fixed wah by turning the Sensitivity knob down to zero, and you’ve basically got one pedal that does the work of four. Make that five, if you count the placement-changing ability that would require a separate effects loop.
Here’s a no-frills video I did showing some of the features I mentioned above:
Definitely thinking about picking up one of these Quilter mini heads — Dad Rockers NEED tiny amps!
Full disclosure before beginning, I am a “Quilter artist”, which means I am on their webpage as a player and have been mentioned in their social media. I am not an employee of Quilter or involved in any marketing or advertising company. The “free stuff” endorsement deals of yesteryear don’t exist anywhere anymore. In other words, I use and like their product. but they’re not paying me to do that. But….
They did send me one of their 101 Mini heads to beta test for them. I was not allowed to discuss, photograph, or video the little beast until the product was announced. Which just happened a few days ago. Alas, if I’d only made a video before sending it back. *sigh*
Quilter 101 Mini Head Review
So, one day I get a big box from Quilter delivered to me. I open it up, and there’s a little box inside; no…
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I’ve spent the past year or so trying out various tremolo pedals, in search of “the one” that can both suit my gigging needs and give me that little ‘something extra’ to spark the creation of new songs, sounds, riffs and licks. Tall order, I know. From high-priced, high-tech and boutique offerings to plain-jane no-names, quite a few contenders have spent quality time on my pedalboard. I’m not going to rank them (because ‘different strokes for different folks’), but these effects are all worthy of mention as gig-worthy Tremolos that spent considerable gigging and playing/writing time on my board:
- VHT Melo-Verb
- Black Cat Mini-Trem
- CMATmods Tremoglo
- Catalinbread Valcoder
- SolidGoldFX Stutterbox (V.1)
Note: I acquired almost all but one of these pedals second or third-hand via Reverb; I’ve also turned around and sold many of them via Reverb, once I’d decided to move on. I’ve found that this is a better and, in the end, more affordable way to “audition” pedals than using a Netflix-style effect rental service because 1) I can usually find the pedal I want when I want it, and 2) if I’m patient I can make $5-$20 per sale, beyond the initial cost of the pedal — or at least break even.
Now, I can finally declare a winner in the ‘Tournament of Tremolos’ — it’s the Empress Tremolo2. I’ve had it for about a month, now and have used it on two 3-hour gigs and for lots of at-home fiddling around. The T2 is both gig-worthy and musically inspiring, my main criteria, but it also shines in some very specific ways.
Ease of Use? — What a Concept!
The T2 has a digital heart hiding beneath its analog trappings. The Empress site describes the pedal as having an all-analog signal path with the tremolo effect “controlled digitally via opto technology.” Whatever digi-log voodoo mojo they performed works for me, because my ears don’t detect even a hint of artificiality in the tones the pedal produces.
However, the combination of technologies does explain how the T2 is able to save multiple presets (I used 4 — with some additional fiddling around, you can set up to 8!) that allow you to tweak and save all of the manual settings you make for each sound/speed/rhythm you need. I liked the four presets that came with the pedal (I have no idea if they were the factory settings or had been set by the previous owner), but ended up tweaking them to my liking and to the needs of the songs I’d be playing. After adjusting a mellow Blackface Fender-tone in preset 1, and a faster, deeper version of that in preset 2, I made preset 3 a hard, choppy Valco-style trem for a couple of more garage-y songs, and gave preset 4 a less choppy, but rhythmically unusual, flavor of the same.
Changing between presets is a breeze, even for a stone-cold idiot like me. Set the switch to “Presets” then click the bypass button — you are in preset 1 (blue LED). To switch presets, hold the tap tempo button down until the LED changes color, and there you are!
On top of all that, you can tweak each preset on the fly with the knobs on the pedal’s face. Has the drummer counted off that ballad too quickly? Then adjust your preset with the speed knob. These tweaks aren’t saved, unless you go to the trouble of saving them, but making adjustments like this quickly, without having to go through screens or menus on a digital pedal, can be a song-saver.
Go Deep — Seriously, Even Deeper!
Some boutique pedals are difficult to use right out of the box — you probably know which ones I’m talking about — because they offer so many options from the get-go that you have to read the full manual before you can even summon a tone as basic as Link Wray’s “Rumble” tremolo.
The T2 is not only is good-to-go right out of the box (note: the manual is available online and is written to get you started playing ASAP), there are features a-plenty under the hood. Yes, the T2 is gig-ready, but there are enough unique features (e.g. three wave forms, eight rhythm patters) and control options (external tap, expression, control voltage, MIDI.) to inspire you to continue deepening your knowledge of the pedal’s creative possibilities.
If you are interested in some audible samples of what the T2 can do, check out the Empress site; they have numerous sound clips showing off many of the features I’ve mentioned, and much much more.
If you are looking to purchase a T2, new or used, check out Reverb.
If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts on Tremolo pedals (or guitar effects in general), post a comment below.
Enter CME’s Seymour Duncan Vapor Trails Delay giveaway … Winner selected on Xmas Eve!
When customers started angrily commenting on Target’s Facebook page about its new gender-neutral toys policy, this Facebook user saw a comedic opportunity.
Mike Melgaard made a fake Facebook page and pretended to be a Target customer service representative, and then responded to the outrage over the company’s decision to stop labeling toys and other items by gender.
“I definitely side with Target and support their decision wholeheartedly,” Melgaard told AdWeek. “That being said, this was, for me, more about the laughs. I absolutely love satirical humor, and I think America could use a little more laughter.”
Target provided this statement to AdWeek in response: “At Target, we are committed to providing outstanding guest service to our guests wherever we engage with them—in our stores, online, or on our social pages. Clearly this individual was not speaking on behalf of Target.”
Here’s some of Melgaard’s best work before his…
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If you’re not watching “The League,” or at the very least, if you don’t have the show in your Instant Netflix queue yet, then you don’t get to sit at the cool kids table. “It’s Always Sunny” and “Archer” tend to get most of the Internet attention when it comes to F/X shows, but it’s “The League” that — in its third season, at least — is the most consistently funny. It’s like an ensemble version of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that just happens to revolve around a fantasy football league, though the premise is tertiary to the actual shenanigans. Also, never take fantasy football advice from anyone on the show. They’re is some kind of pansy 8-person league where everybody’s team is stacked with studs, and it’s a snake draft. Snake drafts are for amateurs.
Anyway, it’s an awesome show, which has featured guests appearances this season alone from Jeff…
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Was looking for a good discussion of “transparent overdrive,” but this is that and a lot more.
So recently there’s been a lot of focus on “Transparent Overdrives.” It seems to be something that lies in the realm of boutique guitar pedals (although certain companies have made inroads into this idea, by hook or by crook). The basic idea is that it adds volume/gain/drive to your pedal, but only as if you reached over to your amp and cranked it up accordingly. So, if you’re not in the situation where you’re close to your amp’s controls, or heck your amp just doesn’t get higher volume/gain/drive on its own…you turn to one of these pedals. It’s not the kind of overdrive that imparts its own “thing” to the game like a tube screamer would (and definitely not like a distortion pedal would, think the ProCo RAT here). It’s kinda like hitting a “More” button.
So anyhow, the tag of “Transparent Overdrive” got put on the Tim pedal that…
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Hmmm … An amp project might be cool?!
At the end of last summer I splashed out and treated myself on a new amp, my very first ‘new’ amp!
I was on the look out for a small tube amp that would suit my needs – i.e. plodding away in the front room, and not for gigging. The VHT Special 6 kept popping up with very favourable reviews, so I bit the bullet and went for it. I opted for the head and cab version.
This is a great little amp, straight out of the box, hand-wired, with a 12AX7 preamp tube and a 6V6 output tube. There is a boost feature, which is footswitchable, although the huge jump in volume isn’t the most practical. It can get pretty loud when pushed, in a home-practice context. There is also a half power option for late night playing.
Simple controls – one tone pot and volume pot. Hi and…
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