Pedals

 During my summer in Nashvile I decided to build a pedalboard. Warning: this is going to be a guitar nerd post. For those that aren’t guitar players but are still curious - a guitar pedal is a device that manipulates the sound of your guitar. Pedals can do anything from make your guitar tone distorted, add some reverb, or make it sound like a spaceship. A pedalboard is simply a board with the pedals mounted on it. I'm going to go through the pedals I decided on and provide links to more in depth descriptions.

My rig

My rig

I’ve never been much of a pedal user, but had increasingly felt the need to have a few basic pedals so I could cover a wide range of material. After picking out my pedals I reached out to a custom builder in Kansas called Pedal Pad. They are fully custom down to the tolex (I opted for "black comet.") I chose to have the input, output, and power input all on the same side for easy set up. They make high quality boards in some unique designs so check them out here

The first pedal on my board is my Polytune tuner. This should be a requirement on everyone's board. Find it here.

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Next we have the Fulltone OCD. I fell in love with this pedal immediately. I’ve always been looking for a way to fatten up the tone of my Telecaster and this pedal does the trick. You can add some subtle dirt to your tone or crank up the drive for some thick overdriven leads. Find more information here.

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After the OCD we have the Boss CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus. This is really a few pedals in one. Most importantly (for me) you can get some of those classic chorus tones (think Prince’s Purple Rain.) It also works quite well with it dialed in at a low level, just to give your clean tones a little something extra. More information here.

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Last but not least - and perhaps my favorite pedal on the board - is a pedal by Hungry Robot called “The Wash.” In it’s most basic application - it’s a tap tempo delay. What makes this pedal special is the reverb circuit. You can adjust the levels to create some beautiful ambient and washed out tones. I use this pedal for a lot of swells. Dig it here.

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One last pedal that is not mounted on the board that I use is a Morely Mini Optical Volume pedal. I usually run this pedal between the board and my amp. I don’t keep it on the board due to space and it’s not a pedal I always use. I found it’s much easier to use a pedal for some of those ambient swells than the volume knob on my guitar. Link here

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As you can see, my rig is pretty simple. My goal was to put the necessities in an easy grab and go format. I highly recommend getting lightly used pedals. I bought every one of these pedals on Reverb.com.  Have fun!

NYC

Since I’ve last written an entry here, quite a lot has happened. I’m writing to you from my new home in New York City. Some of you know that I’ve been talking about making this move for many years - finally the timing was right. It’s been an incredible adventure so far. Everywhere I turn I find myself immersed in art and culture (and of course music). Whether it’s a subway performer (another role I can now add to my resume), or an art installation by Ai Weiwei - around every corner I find a moment of beauty.

Sometimes when my subway train crosses the East River it will stop on the Manhattan Bridge. This is usually due to some kind of delay ahead and brings groans from my fellow passengers. For me, it’s like being stuck momentarily on the top of a Ferris wheel - except the view is New York City. It gets me every time.

Exploring the city brings me as much joy as it did the very first time I ever visited NYC so many years ago. To walk in wonder the same way many of my heroes did brings me endless inspiration. When I walk through Central Park I imagine John, Paul, George, and Ringo strolling along. Sometimes in Greenwich Village I pass the same places Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan used to haunt. This is a special place and I'm excited to call it home.

If you’re ever in the city please reach out - I’d love to spend time with you!

Jalopy Theater - Brooklyn - 10.17 (Photo credit: Rory Masterson)

Jalopy Theater - Brooklyn - 10.17 (Photo credit: Rory Masterson)

Central Park Halloween 2017

Central Park Halloween 2017

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The Beatles - Central Park - 1964

Muscle Shoals

Sometimes we experience something so profound we want to keep it to ourselves while fighting the urge to tell everyone. The past few days I’ve been reflecting on my weekend in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. From playing the Wurlizter featured on the The Staples’ Singers hit, “I’ll Take you There,” to the piano played on “Freebird,” I found myself left in awe and speechless most of the time.  I'll let the pictures tell the rest. 

Fame Studios

Fame Studios

3614 Jcakson Highway

3614 Jcakson Highway

T.C.

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Through the years I’ve been fortunate to study a variety of instruments with a variety of teachers. Around the time I started junior high school I started piano lessons with a new piano teacher. Before our first lesson I went out and bought several of the teacher’s records. I was instantly inspired by his mastery of the piano.  He was a brilliant player - and happened to be a former member of the Grateful Dead.

 In 1968 Tom Constanten became the keyboardist for the Grateful Dead. Prior to his rock n’ roll career Tom studied piano in Paris and Brussels. During the Vietnam war he enlisted in the Air Force as a computer programmer. A day after his honorable discharge he made his first live appearance with the Grateful Dead. Tom went on to play with Jefferson Starship as well as tour the world as a solo pianist. In 1994 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.

 Sixth grade not only marked the beginning of junior high school, it was also when I became a Deadhead. I listened to every album I could get my hands on. I checked out books about The Dead from the library. I bought every live concert VHS tape I could find and watched it until I had it memorized. I’m sure the adults around me raised an eyebrow given the drug culture that went hand in hand with Grateful Dead lore.  I was so young most of the drug references went above my head - and I could’ve cared less - I was there for the music!

 My lessons with Tom quickly became my favorite part of the week. He encouraged me and pushed me to be a better player. Often times I would have a list of questions about his career or the Grateful Dead that I would bring with me. Amused, he would always answer. I remember once I asked him about Jerry Garcia’s role as lead guitarist (I pronounced “lead” like the chemical element Pb). Tom dryly responded, “Well it was very heavy.”

 We’ve lost touch through the years but I remember my time with Tom fondly. Not only is he a brilliant player he is a kind and beautiful human. I miss our talks. One thing I’ve come to know is that nobody is self made. We are all molded and influenced by people and experiences along the way.

"I know of no path that is better marked than the study of music. Maybe I just think so because it's the path I'm on. There's the old question "How come there's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over." Well, here's an answer. Settle down. Do it right. However long it takes. That's the direct route to the fast lane!"

 - Tom Constanten