Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Johnny Cash guitar trick

You learn all sorts of tricks, from all sorts of different sources.

Skip to 0:45:

Basically: insert a playing card under the strings below the nut. Then if you're playing barre chords, you can get a crisper "chukka-chuk" when you're doing rhythmic, percussive strums.

It makes sense in the video.


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Thursday, August 03, 2017

This is my reasoning

As I mentioned, I'm slowly, methodically going through my belonging, and divesting of things that I don't use, and which don't bring me enjoyment.

One of the items is a guitar effects pedal, which I bought three(?) years ago, and have used perhaps 5-8 times since then.  It's... fine.  But it doesn't captivate me.  It's a Korg AX1G (pictured), which is a multi-effects pedal:  all of the effects are "stacked" (i.e. for each setting, one sound feeds into another) -- whereas I've discovered that I prefer the sound of only distortion, or only chorus, or only a phaser.  So.

I mentioned the pedal to a co-worker, who expressed interest.  So I brought it in to work, and we took it downstairs to the sub-basement parking garage and he played through it.  I keep an electric guitar and a small amplifier under my desk at work -- because, doesn't everybody?

He decided that he liked it, and would buy it off me.  I told him I'd sell it for fifty bucks -- which is what I got it for (it was originally stickered at $65, I think, but I'd haggled down the price to fifty); I didn't want to make a profit off a co-worker.

I held it for him at my desk for a few days -- but then yesterday (Wednesday) he texted me from home (he works from home on Wednesdays) to say that he'd had a few unexpected bills, so he couldn't pay me for a while.  He said that if I wanted to back out of the deal and sell it to someone else, he would understand.

I pondered -- and the next day I handed the pedal to him and told him to take it home and use it, and to just pay me whenever he could.  Here's my reasoning:

-I could bring it back home; hold it at my desk; or give it to him to hold at his desk or take home.  I'd prefer to not have it at my desk or at home.

-I could continue to advertise it on Gumtree (the AU analog to Craigslist); or I could just sell it to him (on credit, I guess it is).  I trust him to pay me eventually -- and it's more about "getting it out of my house" and "finding a good home, where it will be appreciated and used" than "immediately getting fifty bucks".

And that's what it is.


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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walco effects pedals or effects units

Sorry -- I haven't posted a blog entry for a while.  I actually have a few remedial ones that I've been planning on posting:  I just haven't had the time.  Well, first my PC died, and it took me a few weeks to get a new (used!) one and install Mint Linux on it.


I've been going through some of my music gear that I bought while living in Seattle -- placed in boxes prior to moving to Australia -- and literally have not been used in over a decade.  I've been putting a few things on Gumtree (the Australian analog to CraigsList) as a result.

One of the oddities that I turned up is a complete set of the eight little guitar effects units put out by Walco.  So I put them on Gumtree as a bulk set.

But then I thought that as part of my ad, I should link to some online sound samples -- maybe a YouTube video?  Oddly, I couldn't find any on YouTube.

So:  as a service to the online guitar community, I played through each of the eight effects units, and am now in the process of posting the results to YouTube.  Just search for "Walco - Effects" and they should come up.

Some thoughts on the series: 

I bought these in the late '90s as "New Old Stock", while living in Seattle. Some I took out of the packaging and had a play; others (two of them) were(!!!) still unopened in their original packaging -- until about a week ago.

That is:  until a week ago, I hadn't used them since I bought them. I've gone away from musical devices that **don't** allow A/C power and only run off of batteries -- so I'm unlikely to make use of these. So I'm putting them back in the ocean (i.e. selling them).

I'll try to make the following descriptions more or less align with their ordering in the photo (note the piano keyboard, as a scale reference [no pun intended]). I'll group my descriptions by form factor.


-BASS-TREBLE EXPANDER (blue pedal) -- A bass booster or treble booster. Has an "On/Off" slider switch, a slider switch that allows for a bass boost, or a treble boost, and a knob for the amount of boost. I accidentally found a YouTube clip here -- .  The treble booster is piercing; the bass boost is more like an octave pedal.  As you can see from the photos (below), you choose either treble or bass boost -- not both at once.

-SOUND-GO-ROUND (bright green) - Tremelo. The On/Off slider switch was broken, so I removed it and bypassed it -- so now it's always on (you could bypass it with a loop pedal). You could probably replace it with another switch -- or mod it with a footswtich-style pedal. Has a knob to control the speed.

-FUZZ TONE GENERATOR (pink) - Fuzz. An On/Off slider switch, and a knob for the amount of fuzz.


-AUTOMATIC LEVEL CONTROL (dark green) -- A limiter?  Had to tell, exactly. On/Off slider switch,and a knob to set the output level.

-SIGNAL BOOSTER (orange) (New In Box) -- Boost pedal, presumably --- except my version doesn't (it just chokes the sound, really). On/Off slider switch, a slider switch for the polarity of the unit (i.e. does the tip go into your instrument, or into your amp?), and a knob for the degree of boost.

-ACOUSTIC FEEDBACK ELIMINATOR (Yellow) -- It's some sort of gate -- like a noise gate... -ish.  The text on the back of the packing implies an expander noise gate -- but they don't use those words. A slider knob for On/Off, and a "Attack control" knob.  It also overdrove the input to my amp, due to all the make-up gain.  Or maybe it was internally overloading, due to low headroom or a design error in the gain-staging.  Overall, mildly peculiar.


-ACCU-TUNER (red) - Electronic tuning fork. Slider switch between generating an A-440Hz output tone, or an E-349.23Hz tone. No input, just the output plug.  Gives a steady tone.  If the slider switch was replaced with a better switch (a toggle switch?), you could possibly do something interesting with this -- like use it as a drone for a song in the key of E or A.


-"CHORD AND NOTE SUSTAINER" (brown pedal) -- From memory, like an over-exuberant compressor (see the YouTube video).  Useful for creating feedback but with the maximum volume still being mild.  No actual controls except the "On/Off" foot button.

None of them run off A/C adaptors: you have to use 9V batteries.

My web search indicates that they largely fall into the "So bad they're good" (or "So bad they're only bad?") category. Maybe for a hard core guitar effects pedal collector? Or for someone who wants trashy, low-fi sounds.

As I mentioned, I tried all of them -- including (somewhat reluctantly; but "for the good of science") taking out the two "New In Box" units.

Surprisingly, a few were actually good -- and most were... "interesting".

I wouldn't take them gigging or for live performance, because they're too unreliable (esp. the switches).  But they might have some studio/recording uses.  If you used them regularly, I'd suggest removing the slider switches and replacing them with more robust toggle switches.  And possibly getting an A/C adaptor -- although some people think that running small effects boxes off of wall current can introduce noise into the signal chain.

Here are two forums that make a brief mention of Walco effects units (I'm sure there are others):

I agree with the assessment in the first link, in that the Chord and Note Sustainer is interesting and potentially usable.  The guy also like dthe Signal Booster (if he recalls correctly) -- but mine was not terribly useful (as noted in the YouTube video):  the "boost" was only up to the input level, and it added a lot of dropouts -- but not in an interesting "glitchy" way.  (Hard to explain; just see the YouTube video, once I post it.)

A second poster in the first link also says that the Sound-Go-Round sucks; I disagree.  The second poster also says the she/he got the boost, which didn't work even though it was new out of the box:  that's more similar to my own experience.

And etcetera.  Just take a look at both of those threads.   ;)

Finally:  I'm going to post some pics of all of the pedals.  Since this is somewhat for archival/public service purposes, I'm going to leave them at full (cheap cell-phone!) resolution:  so about 400kB, not 50-ish kB.

Anyhow:  by the time you read this, these probably will be sold to the four winds.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Spreading the sunshine

As I've mentioned, I'm reading a book on tidying.  Inspired by that book, I've started to go through my closet -- particularly things that I haven't worn for a while.  If I don't like the article of clothing, I should get rid of it if I do like the article of clothing, I ought to wear it more!

During the process, Wednesday night, I came across a pair of green tie-dyed pants that my late sister gave me about 1994:  I think she found it in the thrift store that she worked at.  It's been a few years since I've worn it -- but I like it.  So, I decided to wear it on Friday, because:

1) It's Friday, so I can get away with being casual.

2) We've been having a lot of grey days (it's winter) -- and the greyest of days is when one must wear the brightest of colors. 

3) I'm happy to amuse people.

So, Wednesday night I picked out a vest that went with the pants -- and a necktie that went with the vest.  And then I picked a black shirt, just to serve as a frame for the outfit.

And, here's the outfit (selfie in the men's room at work):

I made a **lot** of people smile -- or even burst out laughing.  So, mission accomplished!


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Monday, May 08, 2017

Nearly normal

I wasn't sure if I should go in to work today, or stay home and take care of my bad back.  But then I hobbled around and sorted laundry and did other useful things this morning -- and I figured, if I was doing that now, I'd continue being active and foolish during the rest of the day -- in which case, I really ought to be at work.

I made the right call:  I had to walk around fairly carefully -- and use great focus to get in and out of my desk chair -- but due to sitting with unnaturally proper posture, my back was actually less sore by the end of the day than when I started.

So, I'm maybe 90% normal.  My back, I mean -- not my personality.


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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Back is vaguely better

As I noted in yesterday's blog entry, I somehow messed up my back yesterday afternoon -- by picking up a tiny packet of doggie treats off the floor!  I messed up my back about two years ago, by using poor lifting technique on a surprisingly heavy potted plant -- so this is probably a re-injury in the same vein.

Unlike yesterday, where I soldiered on and kept doing a bunch of tasks that I felt needed to be done -- today I (mostly!) took it easy:  I spent a lot of time in bed, reading and/or napping.  Although I did sort some laundry.  As much as I could, I had the kids carry things for me.

As long as I keep my torso upright, I'm okay:  it's more sore than painful.  But I can't bend over at all:  I have to squat or kneel to get things off the ground.  And I can't sit in a slouchy position.

I dislike being not physically able.  A precursor to old age, perhaps?  But hopefully not.

I just gotta remember to maintain good lifting technique -- even for tiny items!


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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Blew out my back

As I mentioned, I've been inspired by the Marie Kondo book The Joy of Tidying, so I've being going through the easy, and self-contained portions of our messy, messy house.

One insight that she shares in her book is that people in disorganized homes tend to buy multiples of things that they already have, because they don't have a sense of what they already own.  Yep.

In our instance, I went though the "doggy shelf" in the laundry room, and we had about 15 packets of various sorts of doggie treats -- some "best used by" 2016, some for 2017, and some for 2018.  About two-thirds of the packets were already opened -- indicating that the surplus packages were purchased (without regard for what was already in the cupboard), one or two items were given to the dogs, and then the new package was added to the pile.

Note that I already went through the doggy cupboard a year ago, and got rid of the truly old stuff:  so most of this is recent.

But, I digress:  the intended point of this blog entry is to note that at around 3pm,  as I bent down to pick up a small packet of dog treats off the floor, my lower back abruptly went into spasm and I had to drop to my hands and knees.  Weird.  And since, then, my lower back has been sore, and I've been walking like an old man.

Luckily it's muscular -- I presume -- rather than a pinched nerve or bad disk.  Still a nuisance, though.

Because I hadn't yet fed and watered the chickens yet, and it had to be done, I carried on -- slowly and carefully, and maintaining a regal posture.  (I was the only one home:  everyone else was out with The Lady, running errands.)  And I vacuumed the bedroom, too -- because I said I would, and it would've already been done if I'd done that first, instead of prioritizing doing "fun" things.

Stupid, probably -- but I don't think I made the injury any worse...

On the bright side:  I have a bottle of mysterious Chinese heat rub, which I rarely get to use.  So!  I'll get to use some of it tonight.


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