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CCFC 87 FA Cup Final

Happy days – even if I was stuck in Wood Green, the heart of Spurs country, watching it on a 12″ B&W TV with 4 cans of Holstein!

Sky Blues….. shooting to win….. Oh ahh Oh ahhh!

 

Love letters to Richard Dawkins

Poor Richard, such a decent man to be receiving such appallingly ignorant abuse. So much for christians displaying forgiveness and loving one’s enemy as oneself – what would Jesus think?

As with all forms of faith based delusion, the thing to do is laugh at it.

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While the above hand was welcome, it goes to show that PokerStar’s random card generator is totally fucked up!

Telecaster joy

My American Special Telecaster is not quite a year old and the volume potentiometer was becoming increasingly scratchy. This happens when dust and grim enters the workings and interferes with the contact switch. I’d sprayed it a couple of times with contact cleaner and air dusted the guitar’s cavity so that there was minimal dust but it was regularly becoming noisy every couple of weeks. Sometimes there are just bad components.

I’ve been reading up about valve amps, capacitors, the differences between internal guitar circuits which affect the tone of guitars. There are so many things in the chain from player to speaker which can affect the sound but often the smallest things have the largest effect. My guitar came with a circuit with the charming name of Greasebucket, which you can see below. The intention of the circuit is to amend the tone, so that when you turn the tone down towards bass, the high and mid-range can still be heard – without it at the lower end of the bass there is just a muddy sound.

greasebucket

The intention is good but the circuit is not the Telecaster standard, was not present in vintage models and is not universally popular. The circuit uses two small capacitors and a resistor to produce the effect.

I wanted to try a more vintage set up and kill two birds with one stone, namely also replace the scratchy volume control. So I ordered a complete new circuit plate from NorthWest Guitars which you can order to contain precisely the parts you need and want. I ordered mine with CTS 250K volume and tone pots, a Grigsby 3 way selector switch and a Sprague Orange Drop Capacitor. BTW thanks to the them for excellent service, prices and for using great parts!

plate

Above is the plate before I connected my pickups. I also had to remove the black and white cables on the right, which were connected to an input jack, which was not needed as I used the one already in the guitar. The capacitor is appropriately named.

The capacitor is used to affect the tone, like the Greasebucket but is simpler and a more traditional way of doing so. Changing the value of the capacitor used changes the levels of high frequency sent from the guitar to the amp. The deciding factor is often what type of pick-ups you have installed. Single coil pick-ups circuits have 250K pots and a 0.022uf (micro-farad) capacitor while humbuckers normally use 500K pots with a 0.047uf capacitor. The higher the capacitor value, the less high tone will make it to the amp and the richer the bass and mid-range will sound.

I opted for the 0.047 uf capacitor, since Telecasters are bright sounding guitars and mine is fitted with twangy 51 Nocaster pick-ups through the bright Fender Blues Junior Amp. The idea was to tone it down a little. Literally. I also ordered a 0.022uf capacitor, so I can change out the larger if I want to later.

cap

Anyway, enough techno babble. After half an hour of de-soldering and re-soldering, I had the new plate connected to my pick-ups, output jack and grounded. Time to test the guitar through the amp.

First off, I was able to get some sound – I can solder! SecoNorthWest Guitarsnd all the pick ups worked as they should when chosen on the selector switch, neck, both and then bridge. Finally it was time to test the tone.

The difference is astonishing. I had made a point of not changing my amp’s settings or anything else on the guitar. On the neck pick-up the 51 Nocasters are now really clear on the highs, with a twang being there which had been muted in comparison. As expected the bass is now much fuller and with a cello like woodiness on the neck pick-up. Turning the tone pot way down did produce the expected muddy bass which is not much use but a quarter turn brought in that lovely rich tone. The high end of the tone pot was too bright, especially on the bridge pick-up. So after half an hour of testing chords and notes over the neck, I lowered the neck pick-up a touch and the bridge pick-up more than a touch, to balance them.

I know a lot of people like the Greasebucket circuit but having tried it and without, I much prefer it not being there. At some point I’ll try the 0.022uf cap but at the moment, I’m happy.

I have a Tele sounding like the Tele I want it to be.

MXR Carbon Copy Delay

My second pedal of the year is an MXR Carbon Copy analogue delay pedal. When I sold my Fender Mustang amp, which had too many options, too many effects and not enough valves, the one effect I did miss was delay. Delay is what most people would call echo, where the guitar’s signal is delayed and then played back multiple times. The pedal modifies the number of repeats and the length of time before it’s repeated.

With the simple layout of three main buttons, you can introduce a variety of effects to your signal. The regen button changes the number of repeats. The delay button changes how quickly the sound repeats and the Mix button is like a volume button making the delay effect more or less prominent compared to your guitar’s signal. There’s one other tiny button on the pedal which modulates the delay effect, the best way to describe this would be to make it the sound more fluttery. It’s not always an improvement but it’s nice to have on at certain settings.

Three well know sounds which rely on the use of a delay pedal are, 50s rockabilly twang, Pink Floyd’s swirling shimmering echoes and ska or reggae chops. All of these can be dialled in with ease.

One reason I chose this pedal is that it’s an analogue circuit rather than a digital pedal, which makes the delay tone richer and warmer. The sound is apparently also considered darker than digital. I used it with my Blues Junior amp set with the spring reverb at 3 for a wide an airy sound. Simply put it sounded fantastic and it made me play better. That’s what pedals are for!

There are only two drawbacks. The main LED indicator light is so bright when it’s on it blinds you when trying to adjust the settings. The other is that if turn the regen button well past the 12 o’clock position

MXR-carbon-copy-630-80

Aspirational

The Tories launch the 2015 Election with a sparkling press conference. How inspiring and aspirational. It resurrects the spirit of Empire – the fortitude which made Britain ruler of half the world. I shall definitely be voting for such invigorating policies.

dc

ABY

ABY – no, my recollection of the alphabet has not been wasted by the ravages of advanced age, rather this is the name of my latest guitar related purchase. The idea behind the pedal is simplicity itself. It allows you to connect two things to one thing and use them one to one or two to one. In my case I have one guitar and two amps. So if I plug the Telecaster into the middle socket (the brown cable) and then connect the amps to sockets A and B, pressing the right hand button would switch the guitar signal between the amps.

Why would you want to do that? For example, you could set the amps so their tones are very different and therefore easily switch between two sounds without having to fiddle with the amp settings.

Pressing the other button would pass the guitar signal to both amps simultaneously for a combined tone and increased volume. My neighbours will thank me when I use that setting.

Reversing the situation, it’s entirely possible to use the ABY pedal to play two guitars into one amp simultaneously or alternatively. Hmm there’s an idea!

aby_1

 

EDIT: The pedal worked really well and I was especially pleased with the combined amp effects. I’d set my small 1 watt Blackstar to be on the hi-gain channel and produce some dirt, with the Fender Blues Junior on its traditional and beautiful clean tone. The combination was actually really good, especially as the Blues Junior sits on top of the Blackstar’s 4×8 cabinet.

Je Suis Charlie

jsc