Posts Tagged ‘Dunlop’

Guitar :: An Essential Cry Baby Mod

crybaby-after

I’ve had my Jerry Cantrell signature Cry Baby for a couple of months now, and it’s easily the best wah I’ve played or heard (if you don’t believe me, just ask Guthrie). Whether you like Alice in Chains or not, this thing quacks, rocks, and takes care of just about every other type of wah-wah action you might conceive of, with style. I’ve tried posh wah pedals with boosts, sweeps, different inductors, fancy pots etc… before, and come away unimpressed, but for some reason the JC just gets it right: the depth control is wide enough to be super flexible, but narrow enough that you can notch it just right, and unlike quite a few Cry Baby pedals I’ve played, it’s dead silent at the footswitch and the pot.

But even this Baby has a flaw, shared with all of its kin – when it comes to clicking on and off, it takes a real stomp, which is difficult to accomplish when sitting down, and really goes against the nature of most gearheads (I’ll drop a Telecaster without a second thought, but for some reason I just don’t like stomping on stompboxes).

To rectify this problem, take a knife, and carefully chop away the rubber feet on the toe of the pedal. I say carefully, because you want to get a clean cut across; hacking away at the rubber isn’t the end of the world, but I’ve cut myself doing so more than once. You have been warned.

See below for a before + after shot of my wah. I learned this mod, weirdly enough, from a video of Zakk Wylde, and I’ve used it on every wah I’ve had. I’m sure there’s a good reason why some people might want the difficulty of the standard pedal, but really, who switches a wah on by accident? Hopefully this tip will rectify an irksome attribute of an otherwise wonderful pedal for you. Until next time…

before-after

 

Live ::

My streaming plans have so far been a non-show – so in order to get things kick-started, I’ve actually set up a Ustream channel (here). To start with, I’ll be broadcasting my laptop, pointed at my amp. I will be recording these for my own amusement, and personal improvement (is my timing really that bad), and in the spirit of the Internet, all are welcome to join.

New Gear :: Chicken Picks

Chicken Picks

There are tons of articles online and in magazines about the unexpectedly pronounced tonal revelation that occurs when switching picks, and how marked the change in your sound can be by simply switching to a different shape or weight or material. Tonal transformation for 50p. It’s a point that’s been made many times, which does nothing to dilute its legitimacy – changing your pick really is an easy win if you’re looking to change your tone for next to no cash.

So this could be another one of those ‘OMG new pick, total tonal epiphany’ posts, but there’s already plenty of those around, and I actually think it’s a little bit deeper than that.

The pick in question is the Chicken Pick, which just came into stock at Strings Direct. I ordered a ‘tester pack’, which is a tenner, and comes with one each of the 2.6mm and 2.2mm thicknesses. First of all, it’s a great pick, very nicely made, and comfortable to hold. The thickness of the pick belies the ease with which it sits in your hands – I normally find thick picks to be a bit unwieldy, and my previous squeeze, the Dunlop Nylon 1MM, was the thickest pick I found comfortable until now. And it improves your tone as well, which is an important thing to mention in the field of plectrum hagiography.

I was thinking about recording a couple of comparison audio clips for this post, which is when the actual difference between this and other picks dawned on me – I’m actually playing better. It reminds me of the review excerpt touted by Mesa/Boogie on the advertising literature for the Mark IV:

“You know how a great instrument can make you play over your head? The Mark IV gave us this transcendental experience.” Andy Ellis – Guitar Player – May 1991

It’s the same deal. With a thicker pick, like this one, you really have to step up to keep it under control. If you try and play with limp fingers, you get nothing out of it – zero forgiveness. But in the same way as playing thicker strings makes things a bit more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding, the Chicken Pick repays the extra effort required in buckets. I’ve always known the guitar sounds better when you’re really trying, and hitting the strings at full force (literally the first lesson on my first day of music college), but for whatever reason it’s easy to get lazy when you’re playing, which is something I am regularly and supremely guilty of.

The Chicken Pick  is fundamentally incompatible with lazy playing, and for that reason it has already shifted itself to be my regular pick.

TL; DR – the advantage is 20% pick, 80% psychological. It perversely plays to weaknesses rather than strengths, and is all the better for it. I’m hooked.

Cry Baby

Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World from Joey Tosi on Vimeo.

An absolutely wonderful way to spend an hour. Paul Gilbert, Larry LaLonde and, of course, Dweezil Zappa are my highlights. My first effects pedal and just about the only thing other than a Telecaster which has stayed permanently in my rig.