How To EQ Acoustic Guitar

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One of my jobs as a producer is to continually be on the cutting edge of the recording industry. This means I’m constantly researching modern techniques and trying to implement them in the studio.

It’s in that spirit that I pass on this amazing video from the amazing Craig McDurmot on EQ’ing acoustic guitars.

Enjoy!

ch:

Building Memories

This week, we’re hosting Douglas Gresham and Meg Sutherland at Sprig Studios. Doug is a long-time friend, and famed adopted-son of C.S. Lewis; and he’s also Meg’s Executive Producer for a potential record deal we’re working on.

Needless to say, the whole experience has been nostalgic and inspiring. Meg’s music is filled with the “divine melancholy” that Tolkien was famous for capturing; and spending any time with Doug’s larger-than-life persona is always a treat. His stories are captivating, and to hear him reminisce of growing up with Jack is nothing short of spellbinding.

But in the midst of the revelry, I’m deeply aware of the new memories we’re forming together—stories, I hope, that my children will tell of with great fondness.

Seek to live your life today in such a way that your great grandchildren will whisper about your happenings with wonder. Honor those around you, and build a legacy with the integrity of consistent action.

ch:

Pictures from my Instagram feed:

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Why Teams Always Do Things Better

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There’s an old adage:

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:

Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.

And maybe better still:

Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.

Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.

Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:

They’re Smarter Than I Am

When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.

Humor

When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.

Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.

Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.

Ownership

At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.

Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.

This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.

•••

Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”

May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.

What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?

ch:

Planes

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Love ‘em. Dad flew them. Brother-in-law flies them. My sister works in them. And my boys have a pile of toy versions of them.

I almost think we males have something built into our DNA that’s attracted to defying gravity. Something that longs to go aloft. And I won’t just relegate that to men; women clearly have a similar tendency, though maybe it gets lost a little with all the engines and props and aircraft fuel and wires. (Though, as Dottie proves, flight mechanic chicks are pretty cute).

Still, perhaps in it’s in all of us to fly. To do the thing we can not do intrinsically without assistance.

So to watch a full-length feature film on planes that are inanimate-objects-animate is pretty spectacular. In fact, Disney’s ability to capture the sensations, sights and sounds of flight was exceptionally enjoyable. Even Joe, my bro-in-law, who—along with every other professional pilot—is quick to note when Hollywood butchers the mechanics of aviation.

“It was surprisingly accurate,” he told me as we walked out of the theatre with my kids. “Laws of aerodynamics and all. That was so refreshing.”

If I hadn’t seen Cars and Cars 2, the character arcs would have been less predictable. But the obvious (and intentional) references to the world’s genesis were clever. And certainly the Kilmer/Edwards tip of the hat to Top Gun was classy, and thoroughly fun to anyone who grew up with that movie in the 80′s. (So glad Goose never really died. That marker dye in the water haunted me until last night).

While not my favorite animated movie, Planes certainly has first place in capturing the boyhood dream of flight, and will be played and replayed no less than fourteen million times in my house.

By my boys, of course.

ch:

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Jason Rodgers Pedalboard and The Bike Chain Link Method

Like any good guitarist, I’m constantly tinkering. Learning. Getting inspiration. Then tinkring some more. While my DIY briefcase pedalboard “Nedrick” certainly had its charm, it wasn’t exactly heavy-duty, nor was it expandable.

Then my good friend and guitarist Jason Rodgers pulled a fast one and made me a wooden, one-of custom pedalboard of his own design, aptly named “Dawn Treader.” Aside from feeling quite surprised and incredibly grateful, I had a decision to make: what pedals did I want on this board, and how was I going to get them on?

First off, I knew I wanted my simplest setups for both my Taylor 816-CE (acoustic), and for my Gibson Black Beauty and my Samick custom strat (electric). I also knew I wanted space later on for a volume pedal. So for my acoustic run, I used a BOSS TU-2 (which I always use as a hard mute, especially when dealing with slow or inexperienced sound engineers), and my tried-and-true BOSS AD-5 acoustic modeling pedal (balanced or unbalanced). For the electric run that goes to my VOX AC-4, I used my favorite overdrive, the Fulltone OCD, my favorite delay, the Strymon Timeline, and another TU-2 that I use after the Timeline, as she tends to put out some faint, psychedelic nuance even when bypassed.

Like most guitarists, Velcro has been my staple. And I knew it’d be so easy just to slap on three thick strips of Velcro or 3M’s heavy duty, outdoor, rough surface variety. Of course, I was used to the wobbly pedals, the sticky residue, and the missing pedal that disappears with the inevitable kleptomaniac, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Then Jason mentioned “the bike chain link method.”

Huh?

Bike chain links have two small holes that a 6-3/4 wood screw or 6-32 machine bolt fit perfectly through. And they’re just the right length to clear most effects pedal chassises.

The idea seemed like it would take a few resources I didn’t have (like screws, a bike chain, and a bike chain tool), and it would take more time and planning to execute. But the results seemed appealing: rock-solid stability, anti-theft benefits, and – appealing to my slight obsessive compulsive disorder – incredibly clean. I had to try.

I used:

• 6-3/4 wood screws (box) – $3.00 (You can chose to use 6-32 machine bolts and nuts if you want to. I chose the simpler route of screwing right into the board, but I will most likely move to bolts/nuts if replacing the pedals in the future).

• Bike chain link tool – $6.00

• 300-link bike chain – $4.00

• 4 – 1″ narrow hinges (for OCD pedal) – $4.00

• Coaxial staples – I don’t remember the cost, as I’ve had this box for a while.

• Cordless drill – A good one is expensive. Unless you already own one because you’re a homeowner or a contractor, save your wrist some carpal tunnel syndrome and go buy one. These little screws can be killer.

Taking the chain apart was fairly self-explanatory; the tool allows you to drive the cotter pin out of each link. But take your time, and rest your thumb, as this takes some pretty good hand strength.

Next came laying out my pedals. I’d advise connecting all your 1/4″ guitar cables and power chords when setting them. Without this, you’ll get a false sense of how much room you’ll need. As a result, you’ll very easily put pedals too close together and block audio and power jacks. Use a pencil to make tick marks on the board along the edges of each chasis, then take off all the cables as they’ll just get in the way for drilling (except those that do need to be connected due to unavoidable proximity issues).

Backing out screws on each pedal should be done carefully, as these screws can be hard to find duplicates of if you strip or mar them. Once out, put a chain link in place, and drive the screw back in – again, being careful not to damage the screw or over tighten. At this point I also removed all the rubber feet from the pedals so the links and screw heads would sit flush on the board. (The exception was the OCD, as its screws mount from the side, so I didn’t use links, but rather I used hinges. The hinge pivot point was actually further away from the chasis bottom, so I kept the rubber feet on as these didn’t play a factor in the mounting process).

The pedals then went on the board with 6-3/4 wood screws. If you think you’ll be swapping pedals out more, I’d suggest using 6-32 1″ machine bolts and nuts and drilling straight through the board, as they’ll be more secure long-term. If I ever swap out pedals, that’s what I’ll use (especially since the current screw holes will have less integrity the second time).

Once my pedals were all properly installed, I decided to mount an electrical power strip on the left side. Most power strips have screw holes and slide paths on the bottom; my version had four holes. I also chose a power strip with a recessed power switch on the side, not the top, as I too often bump the top-side ones and power things down inadvertently. The power strip feeds my Strymon Timeline (which needs its own proprietary wall wart), and the guts of an old BOSS BCB-60 pedalboard that I used to power everything else. (Eventually I’ll be updating this power rig with something ore legit, like a Voodoo Lab PedalPower 2).

Now it was time to hook all my cables back up, weave the power lines between the boards to keep the surface clean, and then use the coax staples and 6-3/4 wood screws to organize everything on the underside.

I used one 14″ zip-tie to hold my giant Radio Shack 9v wall wart to the board (which feeds the BCB-60 guts), and two Velcro strips to bind the extraneous lengths of power lines.

The result is a completely solid pedalboard that I can shake and flip, and not a single thing budges. I was shocked to realize I could plug a 1/4″ guitar cable into a pedal with just one hand. (Meaning, I didn’t need to brace the pedal with my free hand). Toe-tapping a tempo into the Timeline, or slapping the TU-2′s for tuning felt solid and accurate. Nothing budged an inch.

Approximate project time was 1 hour and 15 minutes. Not bad at all for a busy guy like me.

PROS:

Totally solid. Secure. Safe. I’m a new bike-link convert for sure. It’s super clean and visually satisfying, allowing you to see more of your pedalboard’s face.

CONS:

More labor intensive than Velcro. If you like to experiment a lot, and/or you don’t have your preferred pedals down pat, this system could drive you nuts. Carry a screwdriver in your gig bag or guitar cases: you may need to make adjustments on the road.

Hit me up in the comments section with questions, suggestions, references, or shout-outs.

Happy music making,

ch:

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Bike chain, bike chain tool. Use paper towels to remove machine oil that comes on the chain.

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Separating the links; takes some elbow grease.

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Two different kinds of links: exterior flat, and internal with slight flange dimple.

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Replacing native screw on the bottom of my Strymon Timeline. Use extra caution when working with these native screws; they can be tedious and expensive to replace.

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Bottom of BOSS TU-2 with bike chain links.

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The Fulltone OCD screws together on the side. Decided to use 1″ narrow hinges.

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Decided to use 1″ narrow hinges for the Fulltone OCD.

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Dimpled links going on my BOSS AD-5.

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An ariel view of my dining room carpet work space.

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Overview of final assembly; OCD will eventually move above the Strymon to give way for a volume pedal.

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Side view with power strip and old BOSS power supply I stripped from an old BOOS BCB-60.

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OCD with hinges.

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Back side of my “Dawn Treader” Jason Rodger’s custom.

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To control electric lines,I used coax staples, but removed the nail and used a 6-32 wood screw.

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Overview of underside.

e

Gallop Amps

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I was at a friend’s 50th birthday Saturday night in PA, and one of his best friends flew in and surprised him from Las Vegas.

Nice friend.

Don Gallop is a church planter, something I respect highly. And as his tent making, he builds custom, one-off amps. As we talked more, I realized this guy can model any board out there, or build to whatever idea you hear. What a gift! From super quiet circuits, to fat and dirty, he can dial it in.

I was totally amped(!), and thought – shoot, if we’re going to buy amps anyway, why not buy a custom build at a fair price, and support a guy who’s planting a church in Vegas?

Now that’s money well spent.

gallopamps.com

Pass it along.

ch:

Behind Every Soul

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Behind every soul is a person. And behind every person coming to the moment of surrendering their heart to the lordship of Jesus is someone who’s prepared the ground.

I’m so proud of this team pictured above.

Today at New Life, we had 1,300 people come through our doors, and more people flooding the front during the altar calls for salvation and renewal than I could count [below].

Behind every life that was effected, I’m sure there have been years of prayer and multiple God-instances that brought them to this day.

But there was also this group of people. This group of actors, musicians, tech team, and department heads. And there are even more people not even shown here; this small group is a cross-section of 280 volunteers!

The point is that whenever any of our lives are touched in some way, including my own, there are people behind the scenes, who may not get any glory this side of heaven, who are responsible.

Volunteer in your church: from café worker to usher to cleaner to signer, you’ll be serving countless lives into eternal life.

Happy Easter. He is risen!

All for King Jesus,

ch:

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[Photo by Tony Hayner]

Two New TV Ads from New Life Media

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Very proud of two new television ads that New Life Media just put together for two of our clients. I love being able to make beautiful things for our clients, and change peoples’ perception of our region. Second-rate is not acceptable, and cultures that value beauty value life. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing with excellence, and such simple, Kingdom fundamentals should show in everything we do, whether we’re serving the Church or serving secular companies.

Craftsmanship counts.

A big thanks to Jason Clement, Clarissa Collins, David Seaman and all our support staff. Great job, team!

ch:

Vinyl’s Ongoing Legacy

Mobile Fidelity Shawn Britton
About ten years ago I reported to my father, veteran record producer and industry specialist Peter Hopper, that vinyl records were coming back, to which he famously replied, “Son, they never went anywhere.”

And boy am I glad they didn’t. Just today I was moving some of my collection here to my office, when my father forwarded me a piece by USA Today on a studio out of California that is still licensing and making “records” the “old fashioned way.”

If you already understand why vinyl sounds so much better than MP3s and CDs, you’ll appreciate this piece (and the quirky man behind it all); if you don’t, then you’re about to get an education.

I’m excited for the grand opening of Sprig Records later this year, and our use of a prized Studer Mk. IV, 24-track, 2″ tape machine, which I personally plan to record with in the hopes of turning those masters into vinyl records for my family, friends, and maybe even some fans.

So here’s to all the audiophiles out there. Get groovy, baby.

ch:

phill keaggy emerging ted sandquist courts of the king peter hopper
[Two of the records I moved to my office today, both with my father's imprint on their production.]

How Real Heroes Fight

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Following a jump-start to our van on Sunday morning (some may remember the Tweet), I got in an interesting email-conversation with my friend, Steve Byers. It was so interesting – and inspiring – that I asked him permission to pass it on as I knew my readers would share my sentiments.

Steve was a Sergeant in the US Army with 2/15 FA, stationed with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq when this picture was taken. I know, rather humorous.

Until you get the details:

Funny story about this. I was sound a sleep in my bunk when we came under attack at the little outpost we were at in Baghdad. I jumped out of bed barefoot and grabbed my gun.

After 10-minutes in the firefight, the shell caseings were burning my feet, so I ran in and grabbed my gear.

About 5-minutes later we got a radio call from two guys that were pinned down and they needed some fire support. As soon as I heard it, I grabbed one of my soldiers and ran to help them.

About 20-min after the firefight, I radioed down to my Platoon Sergeant and asked him if I could come down because I was cold (it was December), and he started chewing me out saying, “This is no time to be worried about the cold! We are under attack!”

So I said, “Well, if I dont come down and at least put some pants on, these white legs will give away our position.”

Needless to say, I was allowed to come and get dressed. My Platoon Sergeant told me later that he thought he was losing his mind because someone ran by him going to the fight in their underwear.

I actually got an award for it! They took a picture and sent it to our Commander.

I’ll admit, I love my Jason Bourne, James Bond, and Mission Impossible films. But true heroes drop everything when lives are at stake; the last thing they think about are themselves. Or their pants.

And ladies, he’s single.

ch:

Ignite: Musicians Conference

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My home church, New Life, hosted the first Ignite: Musicians Conference on our campus in Watertown earlier this week on Tuesday. The heart was to invest into the training and betterment of artists and engineers in our county by bringing in high-end, Christian teachers and coaches at no expense to attendees.

The night consisted of two parts: breakout clinics for individual disciplines, and a group clinic on the main stage with the entire team.

We also asked the teachers to come in early so they could offer private lessons to people in the community (*the only paid portion of the event, with payment going directly to the teachers).

I think the event was a win-win, allowing musicians in our region free access to quality training, and giving teachers a chance to impart their skills to willing players along with giving them a revenue stream.

Here are some pics from the event that I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!

ch:

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Sing Hallelujah

Mike Kim and Nate Cronk performing “Sing Hallelujah” at Red Booth Studios


My buddies Mike Kim and Nate Cronk just released their new single together, Sing Hallelujah. Go snag the track on iTunes, and watch the music video on YouTube. (You may or may not see a crazy bald white guy in the video). The video was shot on-location at Red Booth Studios in Rochester, NY – shout out to the notoriously good-looking Brian & Kim Moore.

Hope it blesses you and all those you know.

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