The road to a simple DIY Pedal, pt 3

After a quick restock trip I have now soldered all the parts together.

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I made the mistake of attaching the input / output jacks before realising I had missed the foot switch. This was easily fixed though.

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One thing I found difficult was to determine the length of the connector cables to the jacks, dc source and the switch. This time I made them longer than necessary just to make it a bit easier to mount the components…

Next up is to drill the enclosure.

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Also, I can’t decide if I should add a status LED or not….

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The road to a simple DIY Pedal, pt 2

After pouring over several potential veroboard layouts I’ve decided to go for a simple Bazz Fuss as my first project.

A quick search reveals endless variations and tweaks, but for this first version my plan is to build one of the very simplest, as seen below:

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With the goal set I started out tonight by cutting down the board to the necessary size. I used a regular knife to trace out where the cuts should go, then simply snapped the board to the right dimensions.

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If you think it looks bigger than the layout above that’s because I added 3 additional rows for drilling holes for the spacers that will secure the board in the pedal case.

Here’s another couple of shots with most of the components soldered in. I’m one capacitor short so I decided to stop here for tonight.

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How do you learn?

In 2011 I bought an electric guitar.

In fact, my original plan was to learn the acoustic and to that end I had bought a Hello Kitty branded black guitar on an impulse while living in Tokyo.

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After realising I didn’t have time to practice, it ended up (like I suspect so many other) standing in a corner collecting dust.

That is, until my wife decided to pick it up. She quickly learned the basics and watching her get better and better I decided it was time to give it another go.

At this time we were living in San Francisco, and I thought rather than buying another acoustic, I would get an electric to complement. A late evening trip to Guitar Center at Van Ness and our home was one Ibanez richer.

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However, soon after buying the electric and learning just a few basic chords, I slipped via Midi into the world of synthesizers, and since then have spent the better part of the past 3 years exploring electronic music instead.

This all changed as part of our recent move, when I decided to downsize my musical equipment and get back to basics again. Now I’m struggling for the 3rd time to actually learn how to play the guitar properly.

This said, I do not regret all the time I spent learning software and synthesis as I also picked up some basic music theory along the way, and I can see how this helps in getting a better grasp of the guitar as an instrument as well.

I’m actually really excited to start this next chapter of Glitzerstrahl and I look forward to sharing the road with you all…

Please share in the comments if you have any tips for how to learn the guitar (especially the electric) faster :).

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My current (middle)

Learning Logic Pro X (for real)

I mentioned before that I’m using the down time in Japan to study. It’s turning into a mixture of music theory, composition and software techniques, and I wanted to particularly highlight a book (Logic Pro X – Professional Music Production) that I found used on the Japanese Amazon store:

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This book is part of Apple’s Pro Training Series, and is certified by Apple as part of their official certification program. This is important because it means you can expect a certain level of quality and accuracy in the material, and the book certainly does not let you down.

It takes the form of a series of lessons which all work out like tutorials complete with all the necessary content. The book starts off with a tour of the UI and leads you through all the major ‘features’ and workflows (think mixing, arranging, editing, working with Midi and Audio files, setting up instruments and so on).

It’s a beautiful, full color book with a very well paced and pedagogical language that requires basically no prior knowledge of Logic, though it does assume you are familiar with the basic concepts of audio editing and production.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the depths and capabilities of Logic Pro X, and especially to anyone making the jump from another DAW to Logic.

The lessons are just about long enough (60 to 90 min )to check off one a day, which means you’ll work through the entire book in about 10 days.

Read more about why I decided to move over to Logic here.

Why you should practice DJing

I’ve never really been interested in the art of DJing, but lately I’ve started lusting for a Digital DJ Controller. Why? I think the spark came when I visited one of the huge DJ stores in Tokyo a while back. They had rows and rows of beautiful controller lined up, and I have to admit that it was pure looks that pulled me in.

At the time I had only a vague idea of how they work, but I guy in the store was kind enough to give me an overview of the standard controls and he also gave me a quick intro to Traktor and Serato DJ.

As I got home that night I downloaded the demo version of both and started playing around with them. While they are limited they do contain all the basic functionality, and since then I’ve been fooling around with more and more often.

Here are some really cool takeaways, and the reasons why I’m now considering buying an actual controller:

1. Building a library of tracks to practice with has forced me to listen to and buy a lot of new music. This has ben crazy inspirational and a really good kick in the ass to explore and listen to more music! (Especially more mainstream music.)

2. Practicing mixing has taught me a ton of new details about track composition and timing. How long is a typical trance lead in? Lead out?

3. Rhythm practice and appreciation of EQ and frequency bands. Understanding what to take away, what to emphasize and how to adjust speed and tempo to seamlessly blend and mix tracks has forced me to think more about where in the frequency band certain sounds or instruments lie and why.

4. Greater appreciation for sampling. I’ve found myself not just listening to more music (remember 1 above?), but also out in record stores digging through old vinyls and CDs looking for interesting, fun or just unusual loops and sounds to sample.

I think dabbling with DJing (really, I suck but hey…) has gotten me thinking about structure, tempo and sound in new ways. Before I could talk and reason about it, but now I feel like I ‘understand’ and can appreciate it even more.

If you haven’t tried it yet, I really recommend you do!