Sunday, September 27, 2015

White Mystery, Don Matsuo / Zoobombs, Japan Tour

This will be fun.  I enjoyed the last time I saw Don Matsuo, and I hope we can provide some hospitality to White Mystery, coming all the way from the US.  Gigi is a small place so if you're around get there early.  We (Godzilla Snacks) will be there to kick things off.  Probably around 7pm. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Freaks!!! 9/21 and Marcus 10/03

Holy fuck! The Utero show was a fucking blast.  A lot of great bands and people there.  I was blown away by Chainsaw TV, and Folk Enough was nice enough to play "Momma Shit" for me.  There was even this piece of insanity I got to play bass for at the end of the night.

We're (Godzilla Snacks) starting with a new bassist (Nobuto) in November, for a potentially big show.  Until then, next weekend, Oct 3rd, we'll be in Marcus Kurosaki as a two-piece: Godzilla Snacks Lite.

Again tons of thanks to Inuoe-san, who organized the event last week.  12 hours, 14 bands, and it was pulled off.   Hope to do it again soon.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lesser Know Channel Switching Ideas.

If you're like me, you've been through a few rigs or you've at least re-designed it more than a few times.  I big part of music I love, is the use of dynamics.  Soft to loud, loud to soft.  It's a big part of the emotional part of music. I often have done what many people do in modern times to get these dynamics with an electric guitar and amp.  Either used a boost or distortion/fuzz pedal on a clean amp, or simply use the footswitch on my two channel amp. Pretty simple.  However I've been in situations where the I'm playing through a "Fender" style two channel amp with no footswitching abilities, or with an amp that is a simple one channel amp, and I'd like a quicker volume control than simply using the guitar's volume knob.

So how do we make a footswitch like channel switch on an amp with no footswitch?  There are a few simple ways which I've learn from people much older and wiser than me.

The first technique is actually the oldest idea.  Before there were fuzz pedals or boost pedals, players only had a volume knob.  Gibson guitars actually gave you two channels on their guitars by giving you two volume knobs, one for the bridge pickup and one for the neck.  They actually named these "channels" on their toggle switches as "rhythm (neck PU)" and "lead (bridge PU)"  The intended idea behind this is to dial in your basic tone on the amp with the neck(rhythm) pickup with the volume down enough to barely break up the amp.  When you switch to the bridge (lead) pickup the volume will be fully open and much louder and more distorted.  However it will be much brighter, that's when you'll need to turn down the "tone" knob to cut enough treble as you desire.  This technique works pretty well, and I've used it quite a bit in situations with no pedals and only a Gibson on a good amp.  I love where the toggle switch is on a Les Paul.  You can really hit it on the fly with your thumb.  Most of the guys you probably love from the classic rock era of the 60s and 70s probably started out this way, or continue to use this technique.  check out Page demonstrate it here: 

The next idea uses a two channel, non-switchable amp such as a Fender Reverb.  There are a ton of amps modeled after this amp and you've probably seen quite a few.  The amp actually has two sets of two inputs, for each channel.  To make this switchable by a footswitch, all we need is an ABY box.  A pedal which enables us to spit a signal and gives us the ability to switch between the two channels.  We can set each to different volumes or EQs and have two tones that are switchable by foot.  Simple.

Lastly, we have an interesting idea which actually is similar in principle to the first technique.  We'll simply cut the volume of an amp by using an EQ pedal.  For years I always used the EQ as a boost.  However most EQ pedals also allow you to cut the volume as well. The great part about this is we can shape the tone of the cut signal to customize it better.  EQ pedal off, gives us our loud full volume tone.  EQ on, gives us a clean channel.  I personally like to add a compressor to the clean signal to give it a bit more sustain and fullness. 

Even if you're happy with your setup as is right now, it's always good to have the knowledge of other ideas  You never know when you might need to use them.  I've played shows where most of my pedals aren't working or a cable has gone bad, and I've had to resort to some of these techniques.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Freaks! Live festival. More shows, Portland....


 In Portland in August. September 21st, doing a 14 band festival back in Japan, and new recordings from multiple projects possibly soon, and rehearsals.  Busy..........
A few songs from an acoustic show a few weeks ago.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Upcoming Live Schedule

A busy summer, but I'm thankful I have anywhere to play considering my constant blowups about the situation here. Going to be back in Portland in August.  Salvador reunion?  A BIG maybe, but a maybe.  I've been practicing.  Godzilla Snacks has a show July 26th in Kurosaki, and we're going to play with Inoue  from Folk Enough, who is putting on an all-day festival Sept 21st at Utero.  Cheap and fun.  Looking forward to it. Folk Enough has played with some great bands like Sebadoh.  Also, I started playing bass in a band called "The MSGs".  We played a show last month, you can check that out here:
Solo acoustic show coming up as well.  Might play everything from Roky Erickson to Willie Nelson, and some originals I haven't recorded yet.   Still experimenting with live streaming.  So some of these shows might go live via the internet.  We'll see.  Can't wait to see everyone back in Portland!

Upcoming live schedule:
  • 07/18/2015 @Gigi Fukuoka, Solo 
  • 07/26/2015 @Marcus Kurosaki, Godzilla Snacks  w/Grufftone, K3K,
  • 09/05/2015 @Peace Fukuoka, The MSGs  w/Titty Twister
  • 09/21/2015 @Utero Fukuoka, Godzilla Snacks w/Folk Enough
  • 09/22/2015 @Cube Studio Fukuoka, Playing bass with The MSGs
  • 08/07/2015 - 08/16/2015  Portland Or.  Anything could happen...Salvador?

Monday, May 25, 2015

So playing music in Japan.....

I thought I'd write a little review of my experience as an American/foreigner being in a band in Japan. I should note, that since I had both good and bad experiences, I managed to met some very nice people who have helped me. Music is very much loved here, but it seems like most things here, change is a slow process. 

The hardest two things about playing music here is getting band members together, and avoiding the pay-to-play, aka "Noruma."  A system that is set in most Japanese cities, where a band must sell a minimum number of tickets, it recoup the cost.  Pay-to-play basically.  You can read more about it here:  I've heard many excuses for this system, but none seems to make total sense.  Rent is high here, but venues should move out of downtown, if that were the case.  There is some indie music support here, but not many people are willing to spend 2500yen($25) ticket prices for underground local bands.  It seems even the cultural mind of many Japanese believe high ticket prices equals quality, yet with a cheap cover, most people here would seem to assume the music most be bad.  Most of these venues rely on ticket sales and very little on the bar, unlike most venues in the States and Europe.  So yeah, the business side of things is pretty wacky. The worst part of this system is that few bands are willing to help each other out, and sometimes it even pits bands against each other.  Everyone is too worried about covering their quota, than to advertise other bands on the bill. 

I fell for playing a Noruma gig once.  My first show, with a short lived band I put together. I had been working for over a year with a singer, and after 5 bassists and 2 drummers we finally had a show. (In our case 15 tickets at 1500 yen, which roughly equals $15) Times this revenue by 3 bands and the empty venue is making at least $675 off the bands not counting the bar sales, which also was only being frequented by the bands. This system failed in most places in the US because bands got together and rented out warehouses and parties to bypassed the blood sucking venue owners. Here’s the run down of my 1st show playing in Japan.

The show opened at 6pm. This is pretty damn early, some people aren't even off work yet. I do understand shows ending before 12 because of the train schedule, but this was pretty damn early.  The bass
player and I were up earlier because, we had no car and I owned all the equipment. He came over to
help take some of it to the venue. We arrive to the venue at about 3pm. Nothing too strange, but there
was and orientation of how things were going to go that night and a bowing season at the end. It was
very formal. All the bands stood in an awkward circle and bowed for awhile. We were then told of “the rules”.  At 4pm we do a sound check. I guess each band gets one, so that is actually really nice. I quickly go home to take a shower because the 99% humidity and high temperatures have turned the band and myself into sloppy messes.

The first band goes on at 6:30 sharp. This is fucking early. All the members of the first band are about 16 years of age and no one is watching them other than my band. I mean not a single ticket payer is
present in the building at this point. Worrisome. The other band is not visibly present, so I check the
“green room.”  I’m use to seeing a fair share of coke, booze, and all out insanity in backrooms. This was insanity of a different sense. I walk in to see young men applying foundation, hairspray, and
dressing up in costumes. Now, I understand some bands need make up. But we’re not talking Kiss here.  This venue doesn't resemble a TV program which requires any of this nonsense. Actually, no one is in the audience to see either band. I can only assume this show is for their own self image and ego boosting. They then took stage like a band that was playing Madison Square, yet no one was watching them. Not even us. We were already pretty turned off from all we had witnessed. We left to drink outside on the street and to wait to sell tickets on our own.  We were also responsible to sell our own tickets. Which meant we had to siphon off people at the door to buy our tickets from us and not from the general admission ticket booth just behind us at the entrance. These were the ONLY tickets sold to real people mind you. We spent about an hour in the heat selling tickets, like sideshow peddlers. The show however was running way early and most of our people hadn’t arrived yet. We were told to play at 8. It was 7. We procrastinated enough to sell enough ticket to brake even and sold enough to not owe anything to the venue.

 We finally started to set up on stage REAL SLOWLY. All of our people made it. We played. Things went well, we had a crowd and some people saw us. That part was fun. People cared, which was nice. I can’t even fathom why, or even how the other band from Tokyo could afford to pay for getting across the country only to end up paying $225. No clue how the 16 year old kids could pay for their their share of the tickets. Rich parents? I just don’t get it. If this is what makes people happy with themselves then I guess that’s ok. If that’s the way it is, then underground music is being strangled to death in Japan and may never recover.  I hope more bands start looking elsewhere to play.  Rent out rehearsal studios?  Might be the only shred of anything "punk" that was ever here. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gigi Feb. 22nd Godzilla Snacks Lite*

Should be an interesting show at Gigi.  Yasuhiro from Semi is always interesting to watch.  He has some cool ideas.  We're playing as a two-piece with just drums and distorted bass.  We're dubbing it as "Godzilla Snacks Lite".  We get to play with Lorraine Disco Special again.  I hope he brings his man-slave.  Should be good times. 

Gigi Cafe and Bar 22日(日) 21時~投げ銭+オーダー出演
岡崎康洋(蝉)/黒の巣/Godzilla Snacks Lite /LORRAINE DISCO SPECIAL

Bass Cut Tone Pot. Get Some Clarity out of Those Heavy Riffs!

For the years I've been around heavy music and the metal scene back in Portland, one thing rules above all.  Heavy riff-age.  Down tuning has become more and more common in the heavy music.  Hell, Drop D is the basically the common vernacular of metal music.  I've been using multiple tunings even a drop G tuning with a bass string for years now.    One thing I do see less of, is the usage of the Treble Cut tone knob that is on basically every passive guitar.  I do use it here and there and I have my secret tricks with it, but it seems to be in less use these days, compared to the days before dirty boxes. 

After searching the internet for some easy cure to my Drop G cheapo guitar with muddy pick-ups.  (Even more accentuated by the low tuning.)  I came across a wiring that was standard on a lot of G & L guitars and Reverend guitars.  A BASS CUT TONE POT!  This was the answer, and super easy and cheap to do.  Seems like a really good option with all my guitars.  I usually just use a master, or global tone pot for the treble cut, so why not put a bass cut for the other tone pot on my Les Paul styled guitar?  I don't like resetting my EQ for every different guitar I use on stage, and this gives me a lot of control to make my guitar dialed in.  Also, as many know, especially in a studio, bass on a guitar can just add a lot of clutter in the mix.  When I down tune in a band setting, I'm encroaching on the kick and bass territory.  And I lose some of my definition.  Instead of using a boost pedal to push some other high-end or mid, I can simply cut the low-end and get a similar effect.      

Wring #1 The Simple Bass Cut Tone Pot
I came across a few different wirings for this tone pot.  The basic idea is the same as the input cap in almost all guitar pedals. Depending on the value, we can use the cap, in-line, to filter out bass frequencies.  The simplest wiring, is just this.  A cap between the middle lug  receiving the hot signal, and the top lug that goes to the output jack.  (wiring chart #1)
Wiring #2 Another Variation
The other wiring I found ended up in my guitar.  The cap is in-line, just wiring a little differently, and there is a 1M resistor going to ground after the cap.  The BIGGEST difference in the behavior of the tone pot was the cap value.  I found a good medium with a .0022uF cap.  However I tested it with a .001uF cap and got even more bass cut.  I didn't try the .0047uF cap other suggested as well, but it should cut less bass.  Those caps seem to work in a good range. 

Les Paul wiring with Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, Master Treble cut, and Master Bass Cut.
Lastly, I haven't seen a wiring diagram for a Les Paul styled guitar.  So here we are.  This diagram will give you a Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, and a Master Treble and Bass Cut Tone Knobs.  (As a side note, I recommend adding a "Treble Bleed Mod"  on both the Volume Pots)  The only re-wiring you should have to do, is the change the order of where the pickups get routed to the 3-way switch.  Run the pickups to the volume pots first, then to the 3-way switch, and from the middle lung of the 3-way switch, you go to the treble cut pot, to the bass cut pot, to the output jack.

Hope that helps some people.  It's brought new life to a few cheap guitars with bad pickups and it's improved the versatility of my nicer guitars.  I'm feeling like this should be the new tone law for guitar makers. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

New DIY Pedals

What a busy vacation.  I spent a good part of it finishing some pedals I've been experimenting with over the last few months.  All three of these are simple designs by the DIY guru, Tim Escobedo.  I remember coming across his page years ago and always wanted to give all of his circuits a try.  However his Geocities page was taken down a while ago.  Someone was nice enough to re-post his work here:  I've bread boarded quite a few of his circuits, but choose these three for the time being.  Lets take a look at some demos I made of each one, and the small mods I added to each one.

Push Me Pull You

I'm starting to have a large octave fuzz collection these days.  I didn't need another octave fuzz, but what drew me to this one was how clean it could get.  I decided to mod the Q3 transistor by cutting the collector or emitter in order to kill the octave effect, making the pedal a stand alone fuzz with the stomp of a switch.
Original Schematic
 In addition to omitting the Q3 transistor, I added a 3PDT switch where the Q3 would normally go and added a 2n5087 silicon PNP transistor and a AC125 germanium PNP transistor so I could switch between the two.

There seems to be a debate over which matches of transistors works the best for a strong octave effect.  I found the following to work fairly well: Q1 2n5088 Q2 2n2222 Q3 (switchable 2n5087 / Ac125)  I also changed out the 500K resistors for 470K resistors.  I think it help the octave a little. 

Modified Schematic

Octave Fuzz (Tim Escobedo's Push Me Pull You)

Harmonic Jerkulator

This one is not subtle nor pretty in anyway.  What drew me to this one was the tone of Steve Albini.  His Big Black albums have the craziest tones, almost metallic and harsh.  His rig is hard to reproduce, especially considering his main dirt box is the extremely rare Harmonic Percolator.  There is even much debate about reproducing the original.  The values are questionable.  I think Tim did a pretty good job with this one.  We can get in the ballpark for that tone, but some more tinkering might be in store.

Lets look at the original schematic:

This is the bare circuit.  Supposedly the original had a something resembling a pair of clipping diodes with a 1K resistor one the last diode at the end of the signal right before the volume pot.  I added a switch to include or take out these diodes in my pedal.  The diodes seem to add a type of compression or "grind" to the sound.  However, at high gain settings, it adds noise and feedback.  The 22uF cap can be increased in value to reduce the noise, however I didn't experiment more with that enough.  I used a pair of 1N4001 diodes, but I'm sure there are better options.
Modified circuit

I also added a switch to change the NPN transistor between a MPSA18 and a 2n3904.  There is a slight difference between the two.  Not much, but the MPSA18 has less feedback overall. 

The last mod I did was to change the 1K resistor from the gain pot to a 10K.  The drop off of gain was a little less.  The 1K basically made the gain go away completely, the 10K made it more useful. 

Harmonic Percolator variant (Tim Escobedo's Harmonic Jerkulator)

Some Big Black graphics I hope to add to the pedal

Utility Boost

This is one of the easiest boosts to build.  Lots of volume on this one.  The variation really seems to rely on the type of transistor or jfet used.  So I added a switch to give me both a jfet and transistor.  The J201 is super clean.  It only starts to slightly hair up at max.  The 2n3904 transistor has much more gain and fuzz to it.  However there is a sweet spot on it and anything above that is not so musical or pleasant.  I think i might switch out the transistor.  Maybe I can get a hold of a NPN germanium soon.  Here's the original schematic.

Boost Pedal Clean/Dirty (Tim Escobedo's Utility Boost)

Friday, January 2, 2015


2015.  Crazy.  Looking forward to playing some more shows and writing more music.  A very nice lady over at skullsonshirts wrote some very kind words about my former band mates last band Sioux.  She also had some nice words about Salvador.  Reunion?  I wish.  Portland is still being push back for me.  Until then I've got some shows with the band here.  Got a new bass player that I'm excited about.  The next show is at Cavern Beat Sunday, Jan. 18th.