Arc Effects Soothsayer review

September 12th 2014 | Posted in Reviews | 3 Comments

Arc Effects Soothsayer

Muffs and fuzz are cool but sometimes you just want to plug into a pedal that deliver classic tube amp like distortion no matter what. I’ve always been a huge fan of the timeless tones based on the LM308 chip. Arc Effects recently released the Soothsayer – their take on the old classic. Naturally, I had to check it out. Here’s my review.

The classic distortion we’re talking about is of course the RAT. The pedal first appeared in the late 70s and together with the Tube Screamer, they marked a new era for distortions and overdrives. These pedals were designed to emulate the tone of a cranked tube amp and gave the guitarist an opportunity to get these tones on smaller amps and without the hassle of moody and sometimes unreliable tubes.

The Arc Effects Soothsayer is housed in a TRex-sized casing, with controls for tone (clockwise), volume and gain, true bypass switching and a bright stage ready led. The pedal also feature a 3-way toggle switch for different clipping stages: led, open and boutique. An internal trim pot also allows you to switch between high or low gain mode. Kind of like alternating between a Tube Screamer and RAT.

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Tips on getting killer tones on your bedroom setup

August 31st 2014 | Posted in Feature Guides | 20 Comments

Tips on getting killer tones on your bedroom setup

Most of us spend a great deal of time playing guitar in either a bedroom or a small home recording studio. Limited space, grumpy neighbours and a patient family makes it hard to really crank that amp. Still, we all want a big and fat tone that has all the qualities of playing on a loud stack. In this feature I’ll share some of my tricks for getting great tones at bedroom levels.

My home recording studio is a typically bedroom-sized room equipped with a few low wattage amps. I have a couple of smaller tube amps that serve the purpose of both practice and recording (although most of my live guitars are recorded in our rehearsal studio). I’ve experimented a lot over the years and found ways to achieve a big tone on low wattage and volume.

So what is a big tone? What do we want to achieve on a smaller amp? Well, personally I want the same full bodied character I get when I drive my Reeves Custom 50w really hard (see a detailed run-down of my rigs here). I want the sound of glowing hot tubes on the very edge of breakup and speakers pushing air. This makes my guitars and pedals sound fatter, warmer and more compressed but it also makes my ears adjust, trying to even out those transients and focusing on to the mids. This can’t be achieved on low volume alone so we need to compensate and simulate it.

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Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head review

August 23rd 2014 | Posted in Big Muff Reviews | 19 Comments

Vick Audio 73 Ram's Head review

My first Big Muff was a bubble font green Sovtek. I still got it and nothing beats that larger than life, thunderous tone. Still, I’ve always preferred the ram’s head. There’s something about that tone. I recently came across the 73 Ram’s Head from Vick Audio and been eager to check it out. Here’s my review.

I’ve lost count over how many Big Muff clones I’ve tested and played over the years. It seems that everyone making pedals are offering one. No wonder really, given the fact that it’s one of the most popular fuzz pedals. Still, I would imagine that the more Muff clones there are out there the harder it gets to be noticed. Unless you got something really special to offer.

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The sweetspots in your tone

July 23rd 2014 | Posted in Feature Guides | 28 Comments

Sweetspot

What is a sweepspot? The term is often used by musicians and engineers but what does it really mean? Is it just a hype? In this feature we’ll examine the myth and look at different ways to locate and achieve the sweetspot in different situations and environments.

The sweetspot is very real. However, it’s not something physical and concrete that resides within your rig. Simply put, the sweetspot is achieved when you think your guitar, pedals and amp, either alone or combined, sound their best. It’s subjective and it means different things to different musicians. Ultimately, only your ears can be the judge.

See the big picture

I can give you a valuable tip on how to get the most out of your tube amp or any other piece of your rig. To make the tubes sing a bit more and to really get that fat attack that will define your tone. It’s the fine nuances when you tweak the amp. However, plug your guitar into the amp with a faulty cable and old rusty strings and the tip you got won’t make much of a difference. The sweetspot can be isolated to “should the treble be set to 5 or 4.7?” but for that tiny little tweak to have any impact at all, you need to consider each part of your rig.

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New Pink Floyd album announced!

July 8th 2014 | Posted in News | 32 Comments

Pink Floyd new album

Pink Floyd has surprised us all and announced a brand new album for release October 2014! The album, titled The Endless River, is said to feature material dating back to the 1993/94 Division Bell sessions featuring David Gilmour, Nick Mason and the late Richard Wright. Few details have been revealed but it seems like we’re in for a treat!

A confusing tweet from David’s wife, Polly, caused a lot of stir in social media last saturday. The tweet said “Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called “The Endless River”. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright’s swan song and very beautiful.” Whether or not this was a mistake against the will of the record company or a deliberate first step in what I’m sure is a massive marketing campaign is hard to tell (I’m pretty sure it’s the latter) but it didn’t take many hours before the news were all over the net.

Former Pink Floyd backing singer Durga McBroom tweeted shortly after confirming Polly’s news and even commented on a picture released earlier this year, which everyone thought was from David Gilmour’s forthcoming solo album. It seems that The Endless River will not only be a remix of the old sessions, which are said to be mostly ambient instrumental music, but it will also feature newly recorded music.

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Buffalo-FX Evolution review

June 17th 2014 | Posted in Big Muff Reviews | 43 Comments

Buffalo FX Evolution review

I’ll be the first to admit it. Whenever Buffalo FX announces a new pedal I await with great anticipation – and great expectations. The last one in their rooster, The Evolution, is inspired by some of my all time favourite pedals and tones. Naturally, I had to check this one out. Here’s my review.

The Evolution is a four stage overdrive. Although an overdrive can be anything from a clean booster to near fuzz the Evolution is really a distortion. At least to my ears. Based on the Cornish G2, this one’s got that unmistakable Marshall flavour, somewhere between a RAT and ram’s head Big Muff played with humbuckers.

The Evolution is housed in a TRex sized chassis, with a bright led, true bypass switching running on 9V battery or adapter. Controls are gain, tone, volume and contour. Apart from the familiar ones, the contour allows you to fine tune the tone response and mid range sweep.

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Debut solo album out this fall!

May 16th 2014 | Posted in Airbag Miscellaneous News | 33 Comments

blog_riis_solo

I will be releasing my first solo album, Lullabies in a Car Crash, this coming fall. The album will be out on Karisma Records, the same label as my band, Airbag. It’s been a rewarding journey where I’ve been able to really do it my way, a both freeing and frightening experience!

Lullabies in a Car Crash is not a huge departure from the Airbag sound or format but rather a chance for me to explore different directions and musical ground that might not have fit the band. I’m truly proud of the album – the songs and all the guitars we’ve recorded. It’s a very personal album, dealing with topics that are important to me but the music also reflects many of my influences, both in terms of song writing and guitars.

I usually don’t talk much about my self here on the site but I know many of you are fans of Airbag and follow me as a guitarist and not just a fellow Gilmour enthusiast. I’ll start mixing the album next week together with long-time Airbag collaborator, Vegard Sleipnes. You can follow the process on MY FACEBOOK PAGE (please give it a Like if you haven’t already). I’ll share notes, pictures, rig run-downs and a snippet or two. See you there!

- Bjørn