Thursday, 18 October 2018

Some new kit

It was my birthday earlier in the month.  So with the various vouchers and cash I got I've acquired a couple of bits of new kit.

1. Harmoniser pedal.

I thought I'd try one out and didn't want to spend a lot on something that has limited use to be honest.  I watched some reviews of the cheaper mini pedals that have been coming on the market recently.  Influenced by Mooer who came up with the format.  The idea is just genius.  They figure most people who are serious have a pedal board already and that has a 9v power supply on it.  Therefore why to all pedals continue to have to have space for the 9v battery and that dictates a lot about how small a pedal can be - a format long championed by market leaders like Boss.

So take that out, minituraise as much as possible and suddenly pedals can be really small actually.  Small enough that you could have 3 or 4 easily on a little board with a power supply and be able to put it in the pocket of your gig bag.  Genius - Mooer actually do a miniaturised power amp and preamps.  Seriously you could arrive at a gig with everything in the pocket of the gig bag and a small 1x12 speaker in the other hand.  Clever.

So I bought this off Amazon.

You can see how little is is by the size of the jack plug into it.  This is a Tomsline model - if you can't read the logo.  What's it offer?   Well the large knob clicks between 1 (unison) 2 (a second), 3rd, 4th, 5th, (no sixth), 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 1 octave and 2 octave.  So a lot to use.  The other controls are as follows.  The two little black knobs control the level of the dry (unaltered sound) and the wet (the generated note) so you can for example turn the dry to zero set it to 1 octave down and have a bass simulator for recording - or you could even just have it set like that for building a loop with a bass.  Something I might well try out.  The switch allows three settings - up, detune and down.  Up and down are self explanatory - you can set the generated note to be above or below the fundamental on he dry signal.  The detune is fun!  The big knob then varies the amount  of cents (100/th of a tone) that is generated.  Now this is great for creating 12 string type emulation sounds.  That really works well with arpeggio sound.  Given this was about £38 there's a lot to like as you get a lot of flexibility and my initial playing with it shows it tracks single note runs well - chords more difficult and you have to really think about the chord voicing anyway or you get some discordant things going on.  I like the mini pedal idea too.  Shame I've a huge pedal board with a load of Boss effects already on it - and I don't see the justification to move wholesale over to mini pedals.

2. Power Attenuator

Second purchase is a Hartley Benton power attenuator.  I actually wanted the Bugerra product which is similar but looks less utilitarian but that seems to be out of stock everywhere so I went with this option instead ordering it from Thomann in Germany.  I was impressed with that having never used them before.  They get generally good reviews from people.  Sad we're about to leave the EU and that may well no longer be a viable option if tariffs and customs stuff gets in the way.
If you don't know a power attenuator allows you to run your stupidly large valve amp like my 60w 2x12 Hughes and Kettner Statesman at volume but it then lowers the power going to the speaker so it sounds much quieter.  That's my main reason for getting it - one to allow me to drive the H&K at levels I'd never consider at home without shaking the house to bits and getting a noise abatement injunction from the council.  There's different ways to do that - some sound amazing with different options etc. but they cost more than the bloody amp is worth and simply the answer would be to buy a modern amp with a built in attenuator but for under £100 this one does the job admirably well.  You can get it really low - which was the hope as my hearing suffers with my meniere's disease and it's been difficult to play sometimes at virtually any volume.  I'm hoping this allows me to reduce that to the bottom level and then it can just allow me to play at very low volume.

However there are other useful features in the box.  Two outputs on the back - one for line out (straight signal) and one with a speaker emulation built in.  The second smaller knob on the front controls that line level independently of the output setting.  So I can now plug that into a recording device and in theory record even with the volume set to zero and listening on monitors or headphones.  To be tried out - often I just plug in to my Boss and found a sound to just have ease because micing up the amp is a pain in the backside - this might give me a better option than that.  I hope so - I'll report back when I get a chance to play with it.

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