#TweedTalk 2: First Impressions: Universal Audio Fender 55 Tweed Deluxe Amplifier Plugin

#TweedTalk is my occasional Tuesday column, where I talk about all things related to tweed amps and tweed-tone pedals.

In the recent Black Friday sales, I finally picked up Universal Audio’s Fender 55 Tweed Deluxe amp plugin to add to my collection of tweed tone options.

Is it going to get much use, or am I going straight back to the real amp? Here are my First Impressions.

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2021 Review: Resolutions From Last Year.

Last year (like an idiot) I posted a bunch of music-related New Year resolutions. Did I do any better than the year before? Let’s find out.

A Quick Recap

Here are my musical resolutions for 2021:

  • Revisit my old music, and start creating new recordings of it.
  • Put together a song-writing process, and practice it.
  • Find my confidence as a guitarist.

Yeah, about that …

I Did Revisit My Old Music

I’ve spent a lot of the year playing my old music, that’s for sure.

I’ve been practicing my Phase 1 material on acoustic guitar. I enjoyed the challenge a lot more than I expected. For the first time in my life, I’ve been able to play the whole of Ragged Perceptions in a single go. I can’t believe that I used to try and play that one with a pick. It’s much easier played finger-style.

I’ve struggled with the finger-picking on other, easier songs for sure. The other songs were written for one-finger-one-thumb finger-picking, and I keep finding myself tripping over my other fingers now that I regularly use them too. I’ll figure it out – I just need more practice.

Problem is, I’ve also been playing a lot of my Phase 3 material too. At the end of the day, I’m an electric rhythm guitarist who loves playing crunchy amps or pedals, and while musically the Phase 3 stuff is pretty naff and simplistic, there’s a lot of gratification to be had from how easy it is to just grab my electric guitar off its stand and play that stuff.

It’s definitely distracted me from focusing on the Phase 1 material, big time.

Nothing Got Recorded Though

It’s not just that nothing got recorded. Apart from a brief flurry of activity at the start of the year and then again over the Easter break, I haven’t even switched my studio gear on this year.

Okay, I’m not ready to record the Phase 1 material (which was my aim for 2021). But I’m not even recording anything.

Sigh.

Song-Writing Is Still Sat In The Garage

To use a racing car analogy, any attempt at song-writing never made it out onto the starting grid. It’s still sat in the garage, looking abandoned and forlorn.

I’ve got nothing to add to that.

Confidence As A Guitarist? Maybe That’s Not The Real Problem

While I definitely need to improve as a guitarist, I’m starting to feel that it’s actually musical confidence that I need the most.

As well as revisiting my old Phase 1 and Phase 3 material, I’ve also been listening to my old Phase 2 material. It’s experimental, it’s got themes and ideas, there’s progression with both individual songs and the material overall – all driven by one of those old dodgy Roland guitar synths that punished you with a horrible squeal if you even thought about playing a note anything but pristinely.

I’ve never written anything like it, before or since. Why? WHY?

That question haunts me, and makes me seriously wonder what on earth I’ve been doing musically these past 24 years. I know the answer: I’ve been having fun with my crunchy amps and pedals. Back when I wrote the Phase 1 & 2 material, I was limited to clean tones and unreliable (but hella fun) Roland guitar synths. I didn’t have the crutch of overdriven guitar.

When I got my first Les Paul in 2012, Kristi said that it was time that I started taking music more seriously. As always, Kristi is right.

I Survived 2021, But No More

Last year, I ended my post with “I would like to do more than just survive 2021 though.”

As we head into a more-uncertain 2022, I’m relieved that I managed that.

Studio Diary #26: Rehearse, Rehearse, REHEARSE!

This year, I’m aiming to record four pieces of original music that I wrote in the early 1990s. They’ll be performed on acoustic guitar, and I’ll be doing the engineering, production and mixing myself.

Four songs on an acoustic guitar doesn’t sound like much, does it? After all, your average guitar YouTuber probably has to bang out at least one piece a week, every week. And this awesome chap is on track to record and upload 100 songs.

So why am I only aiming for just the four songs? And how is it going? The clue’s in the title.

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New Arrivals: April 2021

The big news this month (here in the UK) is that non-essential retail has been allowed to re-open. We’re coming out of lockdown, and guitar shops can open their doors to visitors once again. It’s too soon to travel the length and breadth of the country to hunt for hidden gems gathering dust on a wall somewhere, but we’re getting closer to that day.

In the meantime … this month, I’ve managed to pick up a couple of curious pieces to try. They’re a bit left-field, and (he says, having not tried them at the time of writing) probably not for everyone.

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Studio Diary #25: The Roland SPD-SX and Universal Audio Luna

MIDI drums and drum samples. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re a fact of life for just about everyone who records music at home. And, just as most of us can’t accommodate the noise of a real drum kit in the house, most of us have nowhere to keep a digital drum kit either. We’re left with using much smaller percussion pads, or we compromise and use something we can sort-of play like Roland’s SPD-SX.

But how do you get them into Universal Audio’s LUNA DAW in the first place? When I googled, I couldn’t find any instructions anywhere on how to do this.

So I wrote my own.

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Joe Gilder’s Latest Tips On Recording Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar

This year, I’m learning how to record acoustic guitar. I’ve got a lot to learn. To help me learn, I’m keeping an eye out for any helpful YouTube videos from professional engineers and producers.

Like this one 🙂

Joe Gilder has just posted his tips for recording finger style guitar, as a five-step process that anyone can follow.

First Impressions: Neumann KM184 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Matched Pair

This year (2021), I’m on a mission. I’m learning how to record acoustic guitar at home, so that I can record some of my older, original music.

Earlier this month, I picked up the Roswell mini K47 large diaphragm condenser. Now, I’ve added a set of Neumann KM184’s to my mic locker too. How am I getting on with them? Read on for my First Impressions.

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New Arrivals: January 2021

It feels weird to write ‘2021’. While it always takes a bit of time to get used to writing down the new year each time around, this year it just feels plain weird. 2020 was one of the hardest years many of us have had to face, and it seemed to go on forever. [So far, 2021 is shaping up to simply be Season 2 of 2020 – Ed]

This month, I’ve been focusing on things that will help me hit my 2021 New Year Resolutions. Oh, and I found another tweed-tone pedal too.

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