Saturday, December 10, 2016

Godzilla Snacks - Bender

Out now for streaming and download. Only 19 CD's sold at shows or by special requests. 新しいCDストリーミングとダウンロード。 CDはライブにあります

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cheap Truss Rod Swap!

So by no means am I a luthier.  I don't recommend this procedure for every guitar.  I had a cheap bass that was unplayable and ready to be turned into firewood.  If you have a guitar that's not worth the cost of fixing, this could be an option, only if you're willing to part with the guitar if something goes wrong.

Removing the fretboard with a common iron
I bough this old Epiphone Thunderbird body and neck for about $15 off a scrap pile in a store here in Japan 3 years ago. After making a nut and trying to adjust everything I learned an important lesson. Loosen up the truss rod nut first on an old rusty neck and put some lube on it before you ever try to tighten it. While trying to fine tun the neck bow I snapped the truss rod. My heart sank. I got the bass up and running, but there was always so much bow in the neck, that it was painful to play. The strings were probably about 3/4s of and inch over the frets.  I mostly used it in a down tuning so I got away with it for a while. Replacing the neck would be tricky as the neck pocket was smaller than most p-basses and jazz basses.

Junk neck with fretboard and truss rod removed
Fast forward to this spring, I was rummaging through another free scrap heap in a guitar store and found a cheap Chinese looking neck that looked about the right size for my Bird. It was! However it was a 24 fret neck and the mounting position would make the scale totally wrong. So the neck sat there for a few months bothering me. I tried thinking of ways I could mod the neck, everything. Then not long ago I just decided, "hell, let's rip off the fretboards on these necks and see if I can just swap truss rods."

So, I opened up a weird chili beer I found, grabbed my clothing iron, puddy knife and hammer and went to work. Knowing that one of these ideas would be a mistake. But, a cheap learning experience.  I slowly worked the knife with the iron on the top frets moving up the neck;giving nudges with the hammer as needed. It worked!  Turns out this is the way pros remove fretboards. 

New Truss Rod installed
So, I get both fretboards off and notice the cheapo free one had a nice strong and new looking truss rod. However the receiving neck had a much thinner rusty truss rod. I needed to route out that channel a bit thicker for the new truss rod. No power tools. To the hardware store and I get some hand chisels. 2 hours later with some sandpaper, I have the new truss rod flush with the neck.

I buy 5 C-clamps at the dollar store and a few cheap stamp pads, and glue the fretboard back with wood glue I bought in the States. Taping off the nut end to block the glue from seeping in.

Re-gluing the Fretboard
Surprisingly the instructions said only 24 hours to dry was enough. I waited a bit longer. No creaks, no cracks. Put it together.  Low action. It's worked.  I now have a functional truss rod.  I saved a cheapo cool looking bass for little money and a little sweat. 
Here she is!

Total costs:
Junk Neck $0
Glue $4
C-Clamps $5
Hand Wood Tools $8
Sandpaper $3
Rubber Pads $3
Hammer and Puddy Knife $5
Already owned the iron.

So a job that could have cost well over $300 costed $28 total.   Pretty good option for a guitar that wasn't worth the professional repair cost. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Playing with Two Amps. Stereo vs Slaving and Fun With FX Loops

 WARNING:  Never power on your amp and play it without a speaker connected.  Always have a speaker connected (or a speaker load).  If you don't you will fry your amp and it will be costly. 

Stereo Rigs

There are lots of options when you realize you want to start playing with two amps live.  The tone you can dial in with two differently voiced amps and cabinets can be very full and amazing.  You may never go back to playing a single amp again.  Although lunging around two heads and cabs to every show is not for everyone.  Let's look at some options on connecting your stereo rig.

The easiest and cheapest route is to simply get a Y instrument cable and plug straight in.  It is highly likely you will run into ground hum.  You can buy an audio isolation transformer to remedy this.  However this method leaves you with the fewest options.
Y Cable
 The next option is to get a ABY box, which will allow you to switch between amps or play both at the same time or just one amp at a time.  This gives you a lot of control over the voicing and dynamics.  Not all ABY boxes are created equal however.  The best ones will offer you a ground lift to defeat ground hum.  The Radial Big Shot seems to be one of the better boxes on the market.  
Now lets say you like playing with a lot of modulation or delay effect pedals.  Many of these offer stereo outputs which can sound huge and psychedelic.  Pop a stereo Chorus, Tremolo, Flanger, Phaser, or Delay at the end of your FX chain to split the signal to both amps.  Again, you'll probably have ground hum, so try to find an audio isolation transformer to plug one of the outs into.
Through a Stereo Pedal

Amp Slaving and Daisy Chaining

Now lets talk about Slaving, Daisy Chaining and FX Loops.  Slaving is basically taking one amp and sending it's preamp to the power amp of another amp, bypassing the preamp of the slave amp.  Why would you want to do this?  Seems like a waste right?  Well, it can be a solution to a problem I run into a lot here in Japan.  Most clubs have a backline of amps which depending on the venue, that amp might not have enough volume or power you're looking for.  I like the dirty sound of most of the Marshalls these clubs have, but sometimes they are lower wattage or under serviced and just not cutting it.  In this case I'll take the FX loop send of my Marshall (master amp) and run it into the FX loop return of another amp(slave amp).  It simply uses the power amp of the slave amp to boost the volume.  Sometimes you might want to do this for a smaller low wattage amp that has great tone, but low volume.  Maybe you might get a different EQ from the slave amp's speakers.  Hell, I've been know to use a bass amp as a slave amp.  Sometimes the other amp might not have the distortion tone you're looking for, but it has the power.  In my case, most clubs in Japan have a Roland Jazz Chorus.  Great loud clean amp, but the distortion channel just isn't my thing. It should be noted the slave amp will usually not have EQ control.  We are bypassing it. 
Amp Slaving
So that's one solution for an under powered amp,  but if we have a lot of effect pedals, we can also run a "wet"(effect pedals into)amp and a "dry" amp(no effects).  This will give you the clarity of your normal guitar tone with all the effect pedals only going into the slave amp.  It will sound like two different amps and offer more depth of sound.  To do this, we again run the FX loop send of the Master amp into our modulation or time based effect pedals, then into the FX loop return of the Slave amp. 
"wet" "dry" amp slaving
There is another method to linking amps that don't have an FX loop.  We can daisy chain most amps with dual inputs, such as an old Marshall JMP or most Fender styled amps.  JMPs  have 4 inputs.  A low and high input for two channels, bright and normal.  Many people "jumped" these channels by linking a patch cord from the low input of the bright channel to the high input of the normal channel.  This allowed both channels to mix, offering more tone control.  We can use this same idea and take the lower input of one amp and link it to another amps input.  This will run through the second amps preamp, so we can dial each amp.  Hendrix was know to do this with two or three JMP heads.  Sometimes he simply used the Y cable technique. 
Daisy chaining or Linking amps

FX Loops

Lastly, since we're on the topic of FX Loops, lets clarify what they are and what's going on with them.  Your amp has a preamp which controls your EQ and a lot of times the gain or drive of the amp.  A lot of people like the sound of preamp distortion, so this is the source of that.  When we use effect pedals, sometimes we want our delays, reverbs or modulation pedals to come after the amp distortion.  To do this, we can take the send of the FX loop into the input of the pedal or pedals we want to come after the amp distortion, and take the output of the last pedal back into the FX loop return.  Sometimes these "send" and "returns" are labeled differently, such as "preamp out".   Most people prefer the sound of their tubescreamers, fuzzs, and distortion or boost pedals in front of the amp.  Going into the regular guitar input.  Because these gain pedals interact with the preamp.  Lots of people like the clarity of delays or modulation pedals, coming after this distortion or gain.  Some pedals you many find are over powering in the FX loop.  I perfer my Phase 90 in front of my amp.  In the FX loop it is just too overbearing for my tastes.  Maybe try an EQ pedal in the FX loop, and dial in your tone even more.  Or boost it.  There are no real rules, so experiment and have fun. 
FX Loop configuration
Add caption

Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to Piss Off the Soundguy

I've noticed a striking increase in crappy behavior towards sound folks lately.  Let's face it, there is plenty you can do to upset them.  But the one thing that needs to be stopped is musicians going out on the floor to judge the mix.  Some people take pride in their work and you jumping out on the floor to listen shows no confidence in the job the sound person is doing.  You might as well be hovering over their shoulder shouting spittle laced pointers, while putting your grubby hands all over their board.  It's that offensive.  You're probably a mediocre musician playing in a local joint, where everyone is super drunk just to get through the night you're about to give them.  The sound guy probably has more experience than you and probably has been working in the room you're playing many more times than you.  Stop it.  Be polite.  Maybe learn their name.  If you need something in the monitor than say what you need.  Also, if you're playing super loud, understand the PA won't always keep up with you in some places.  Don't pull the shitty rock star attitude with the sound guy.  It's your fault. 

I've seen a recent string of these actions.  The last chick who pulled it had her shitty sounding Metal Zone blasting out of a 130 watt amp ear fucking me.  It's going to sound like shit no matter what sweetie.  Then she gets upset when the PA can't keep up with the amp.  Wouldn't want to miss a second of that guttural noise escaping your herpes riddled mouth.  It's been a week and I think the tinnitus in my ears has finally stopped. 

Post-Script:  Also don't give blowjobs on stage unless your job is a sex worker.  (Yes, I actually saw this the week before) 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Born Shit Stirrers

Well here it is.  10 songs in 6 minutes.  Bukkake Bastards are now Born Shit Stirrers.  I helped record this.  6 mics in a room and go.  Basically a collective of asshole musicians ripping on everyone we've know while living in Japan.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Continuing in our tradition as the "most hated band in Fukuoka"

Continuing in our tradition as the "most hated band in Fukuoka." We're going in through the back door. Ironically we're playing at a place that won't let us play there. Jon's last Trade Support. There have been some good times there. But, the trade part has dwindled. People used to bring fresh veggies, records, clothes, tacos.... Well, who likes cigarette soaked veggies anyways? Place smells like death. Ok, gotta stop being angry and negative. Just another club owner acting dumb in a little podunk part of the world.  Carry no.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Our next show is Sunday May 22nd at Gigi.  It opens at 12:00pm, we are the first band at about 1:30.  This is Gigi's 10th anniversary.  The people of Gigi have been very nice to us and many other artists.  They have always given us and many others a chance to play for people without worrying about Noruma(pay to play).  Even when no other venue in Fukuoka would give us a chance they did.   They started the Time Market magazine for live listings.  Their doors are always open for musicians, photographers, poets, teachers, artists, and music lovers.  The food is pretty damn good too.  So, come out and raise a glass to the good people there. 
次のライブは5月22日(日)、場所は清川Gigiです。この日はGigiの10周年記念イベントで、12時からイベントスタートです。バンドとしては私 たちが最初で1時半からです。ご存知Gigiの人たちは超いい人たちばっかりで、私たちだけでなく多くのバンドがお世話になってきたと思います。ノルマな しのライブを提供してくれるレアで素敵な場所で、写真や詩なども含む、全ての芸術ファンをサポートしてくれてます。フードも充実してるので、是非!皆さん 足を運んでくださいーーー。一緒に10周年、お祝いしましょー!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tired of people dying too young.  25 is too young.  Only got to jam with the guy once .  Liked him.  I liked him a lot.  We were going to start a band together he said.  Wish I could have talked him out of whatever ended up happening.  We lost a talented drummer. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Tsugaru Shamisen

So this is not even close to a guitar.  A Tsugaru Shamisen.  Bit longer and lower sounding than other shamisens.  Now I just need to learn how to play it better. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Make Your Strings Bend Easier!

Have you ever had a guitar which seems like your fighting or wrestling with while playing? The strings are hard to bend and maybe you even play it with a heavier hand than other guitars. Most guitars take some adjustment to get them to your own personal tastes; string height, neck relief, etc. However an often overlooked adjustment or option is available on Gibson like guitars with tune-o-matic bridges and even some Telecasters.

Fig. 1
The Gibson tune-o-matic bridge as shown in fig 1, has a bridge and tail piece. The bridge as most people are aware, adjusts the string height and intonation. The tail piece is the anchor point to hold the strings, however it is also adjustable. This is to adjust the “break angle”, the red part of the string in figure 1, just before the string goes over the bridge saddle. Adjusting the break angle can change the feel of the guitar. The guitar actually has two break angles usually. Most guitars have one at the headstock, where the strings pass over the nut and into the tuning pegs. This effects the feel of the strings when bending them and attacking them. Some bridges don't have a break angle. They are simply fixed to the bridge. On Floyd Rose locking bridge systems, the guitar actually has no break angles, because the guitar strings are locked in place.

 So lets look at the adjustment options of the break angle at the bridge:
Fig. 2
  • With the tail piece adjusted all the way to the guitars body, you increase the break angle and make it steeper, which increases the downward force on the bridge. Like the string in fig 2 B. A steeper break angle will make strings harder to bend and I've notice a bit more treble in the attack of the string.
  • Conversely, adjusting the tail piece higher will decrease the break angel, decease the downward force on the bridge, making it less steep, like in fig 2 A. The strings will be easier to bend, and you might find you can attack the strings a bit softer. I have noticed a slight decrease in treble, with a higher break angle.

The break angle does not adjust tension. Tension for a string to hold a pitch doesn't change. The scale length of a guitar will effect tension. However, that is not adjustable. A short scale guitar will require less tension than the pitch on a long scale guitar. This is why some people prefer certain scales and brands of guitars. Think of the break angle as slack in a rope. The less force on the bridge and less break angle, the easier the strings will slide over the saddles and nut while bending a string.

So that's the tune-o-matic bridge, but an even lesser know adjustment is available on most Telecasters. I had a Tele that I was always fighting with. I would break strings like crazy. I finally decided to stop stringing the strings through the body. I though the holes the strings were coming through might have been breaking the strings anyhow. However after stringing the strings on the top of the bridge like in fig 2A, I realized I changed the feel of the guitar and changed the break angel. Now the guitar is easier to bend strings on, and I even pick it a bit lighter. I did notice a slight loss in treble, but nothing drastic. So it seems Fender gives you a break angle option.

Now, I know there are many people who strongly believe that string-through guitars and tail pieces being all the way down on the body increases sustain. I can't really disprove this, however I will say it's probably like splitting hairs. The difference is minute as best. You many hear a difference in tone. I tend to find the more force there is on the bridge the more treble and attack you get. It should be said that too steep of a break angle can sometimes cause problems with bending bridges over years. The string-through bodies as well, might just be marketing, claiming it increases sustain. I didn't find any proof of this on my Tele. Maybe I'll do a test on that soon. I do like the option to switch stringing like on most Telecasters. Also, I no longer have to worry about losing the small metal ferrules after a string breaks.

Hope this helps some people. Just another option in getting your guitar to feel the way you want it to.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Pedal Paint Jobs

 Finally got some paint on the Harmonic Fucker (aka Harmonic Percolator Clone).  I made it a nod to Big Black's "Songs About Fucking".  It sounds as nasty as ever.  I also managed to find a use for some low output germanium Russian transistors (MP37).  I made a hybrid silicon/germanium fuzz face, with a switching option for full germanium or half.  Basically a high gain output, and low gain.  I call it "the Hige Fuzz".  Hige meaning "facial hair" in Japanese.  I think it turned out nicely.  I made a few for some friends as Christmas presents.  I've got an order to make one for sale soon as well.  You can check out how it sounds with my crappy demo video below.I'm hoping to finish up a large much-option auto-wah.  With attack-wah, auto-wah, and cocked-wah options.  We'll see.  On paper it seems like a good idea. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 and Shows Coming up.

Man 2016 has been a bummer so far.  First Lemmy then Bowie.  Hard to sum up the impact those guys have had on me and millions of others.  We're going to try to put together some sort of musical tribute to Motorhead at our(Godzilla Snacks) next show (Jan30th @Marcus).  Inoue from Folk Enough has put together another festival April 29th at Utero.  Probably about 17 bands in 12 hours, just like the last one.  We had a blast at the last one.  

Hopefully the band will have a second CD done, and I'll finish a solo CD finally in 2016.  We'll see.  It's probably going to be a busy year.