While some are hitting the gym or setting out to learn a new language, others are taking a look at their gear collection and contemplating new ways to achieve their signature sound.
Now that the presents have been unwrapped, the final piece of Aunt Jennie’s apple pie has been eaten, and the strange vortex of time between holidays has finally ended, we all gather at the beginning of this new year with one thing in common: holiday weight. Besides the holly jolly love handles we’re all battling, a new year is often the best time to try and tackle things that we want to work on. While some are gathering at the gym, others are sitting down to read more consistently or learning a new language. However, if you’re a musician, you might have other more solely focused resolutions that you want to work on.
This week on TPS, Dan & Mick sit down for a more intimate Pedal Show and each come up with five resolutions each that they want to work towards in 2020. Not everyone will share these thoughts with Dan or Mick, but their resolutions are only meant to stand as inspiration to others. Remember, we’re all becoming the best version of ourselves; any added thought to the conversation should be welcomed, musically or personally.
Experiment With Valve Preamps
After their most recent episode where they created a rig without sparing any expense, Dan has become intrigued with the world of valve preamp pedals. Adding the Effectrode Blackbird to his arsenal gave Dan the ability to just push his Matchless a little bit harder and he fell in love with the tone it created. “There’s a character in that, that I really enjoy,” Dan adds. A valve preamp creates a warmer texture in any tone because of the doubled tube presence, and Dan wants to expand more on his knowledge of valve preamp pedals, as well as how they interact with his playing.
Continue Working On Jazz
As some of us avid viewers have noticed, Dan’s playing has gotten exceptionally more “Dan,” if that makes any sense. He has really stepped into his own tone groove, and the unexpected addition of jazz techniques is the culprit. Ever since he was young, Dan has studied Jazz Theory, however he never got the jazz styling down pat. Since the middle of 2019, Dan has been taking lessons once every week to work on his technique. Being able to tie in Jazz Theory and the actual fingering and technique of jazz has helped Dan build on his love of chords and he wants to continue this learning as the year progresses.
Finish EP/Create Better Tones At Home
“So you’re going to create actual music, for human consumption?” Mick probes Dan as he begins his third resolution. Ever since Dan’s band Tin Spirits decided to part ways, Dan believes his next move forward in his music journey is to create his own music. The cool thing about Dan’s goal to create an EP is he wants to do it primarily on his own. “I could record everything [at the TPS Studio]” Dan explains, “but the ‘limiting myself’ challenge is fun and I want to see what quality I can create.” Besides the drums, all vocals, guitar, and bass will be recorded at Dan’s home. Venturing out on his own creates a new vessel for learning that’ll not only change how he plays in a different environment, but also his understanding of recording something start to finish. He also noted that it was a humbling process because he is pampered with how loud he can play, and also how spoiled he is with the gear at the TPS Studio. It’s a challenge to see what he can do on his own, and it’s noble and inspiring to any aspiring musician.
Acquire an Old Telecaster
Ever since Dan played the borrowed ’65 Telecaster for his “Money No Object” Rig, the vintage gear bug has Dan in the palm of its hand. While the argument of “old gear is better gear” is a topic for another day, Dan has gained an appreciation for older Telecasters, mid-60’s in particular. While he would gladly buy the borrowed ’65 Telecaster if the chance arose, he wants to take that idea into the New Year. Look for magic amidst all of the vintage guitars, no matter the cost.
Start Gigging More Regularly
Once the Tin Spirits ended, and Dan also stopped doing cover gigs two years ago, Dan missed being out on stage doing what he has always wanted to do: be in a band. While the cover gigs were becoming tedious, he enjoyed being on stage, and the active participation live music entails. For example, every live show is a little different no matter how consistent the artist or band. Each show is an experience in itself, because the crowds have different energy, the set list changes, or the sonic space is drastically diverse. All of the factors that were present for that one show will never be there again, and there is a sense of magic in that. Dan wants to partake in that feeling once more.
Use Delay Before Overdrive
While purely controversial, the episode where Dan and Mick explored where the overdrive should go in the signal chain gave Mick an abundance of curiosity into the world of signal chaining. Mainly where to put the overdrive, Mick decides for the new year of making music and crafting tones, he wants to place his overdrive after the delay. “It’s got a completely different voice,” Mick adds. With the delay before the overdrive, it allows both pedals to stand together and independently at the same time. Much like how Dan fell in love with valve preamps, Mick wants to experiment with more overdrives after the delay, and what sort of tones can come from that.
Keep Working On Mental Health
In a much more serious light, Mick focuses his resolutions on something that is far more personal than gear or practicing. Mick deals with mild depression, and through studying psychology and philosophy has come to a better understanding of his mental health. Being an active journey, Mick adds that he has made strides into coming to terms with it, but acknowledges that it’s an “ongoing journey.” However he makes it certain that this is his number one priority, because without mental health none of the other things that make him happy will be utilized as effectively as they could be. I think we can all agree with Dan’s sentiment when he says “you’re journey this year has been inspiring, and to see where you are is great.” Mick, if you ever get around to reading this, just know that we are all so proud of you and the amount of humanity you are bringing to mental health. We’re all with you.
Play The Damn Piano!
As many musicians know, a good way to learn our main instrument is through another instrument. While that may sound counterintuitive, some instruments run parallel to each other. Two of these are guitars and pianos because they mirror each other. Back in May of 2019 Mick bought a piano with the goal of thirty minutes a day for the rest of the year. However, since June Mick had not touched the piano whatsoever. “I don’t want to play piano,” Mick explains, but I think it’ll help my guitar playing and understanding of music theory.” Sometimes the best way forward is to look at another direction, and Mick has decided to tackle this direction one more time.
Resolve the Strat “Problem”
Much like Dan’s qualms with the ’65 Telecaster being better than his Red Telecaster, Mick cannot get over the fact that the ’61 Strat is so much better for him than his modern Blue Strat. Mick wants to get to the bottom of what exactly makes the ’61 so much better without the vintage placebo in place. So over the course of this year, Mick plans to make a vlog taking apart both guitars and seeing what really are the differences and what he can do about them.
Enjoy Playing Again
This was the best resolution to reach the general public, and the best way to end the video. This ties into Mick’s mental health standpoint as in the fact that he wants to create music for the sole purpose of enjoying it. That is why we all started playing in the first place, right? “I want to stop worrying,” Mick concludes. “I want to take the ’61 Strat, into the Two-Rock, with the Klon! And I’ll be happy.” We should all take Mick’s advice and move our mindset towards that idea of playing for the love of music, rather than to prove something or to make money. After all, the best music comes from the inspiration of a mind that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it was created to do.
That’s it for this week’s episode of That Pedal Show! Join us next week for whatever the guy’s decide to cover. Until then, everyone here at Riff City wishes you a healthy, happy, and musical New Year!
TPS Rig Rundown
Guitars: ’61 Fender Stratocaster, ’65 Fender Telecaster
Pedals: Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe, Dan Drive Austin Pride Fuzz, Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive, Free the Tone Flight Time FT-2Y Digital Delay, Effectrode Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp, Diamond Memory Lane Jr.
Amps: Matchless HC-30 w/ Hughes & Kettner Vintage 212/Celestion G12M Greenback, Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature w/ TR1265B speakers