Getting your (tone) holes reamed by a master

Here are some pictures of Bernd Moosmann opening up two tone holes of my Moosmann 222A bassoon on the show room floor of IDRS 2008.  Somebody nearby said “Here, I’ll distract him while you work,” but I wanted to take pictures.

Me with the Moosmanns

Me with the Moosmanns

Who better to do this kind of thing than the guy that made the bassoon in the first place, right?

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Pedal board update

Well, I made a lot of tweaks to my pedal setup.  I’m running a LOT of stuff through the effects loop of the amp. The ME-50B just sounds better there, although I tend to get some artifacting in the sound when I play really loud and having the compressor in the effects loop can sometimes really bring out some 60Hz hum.  Some of the effects work way better though, especially the pitch tracking things, like the synth settings and the octaves.  Those work more effectively.

I’ve since decided that the artifacting is not the only negatives here.  The distortion settings just don’t work with this setup.  The sound of them is terrible and they’re oddly quiet, even when I crank them – All I get is the artifacting.  I also noticed the modulation effects like wah, chorus and phaser caused way more feedback with this setup.  So I’ll deal with the glitching of the synth and octave effects to have everything else working correctly.  Still running the mixer throught the effects loop to pick up the microphones.

Since my amp has no overdrive I’m still running the Vox before the amp, to use basically as my overdrive channel if I should want it.  It gives me some serious hum when powered on a daisy chain though – luckily it is true bypass, so I can still leave it in the chain without actually pluggin it in!

Here’s the picture of the final product.

I’m routing things in a pretty sophisticated fashion in order to incorporate all the things I want.  Basically it goes:

Bassoon – Preamp – Boss ME-50B – Vox – Amp – Effects send – Mixer (receiving input from two GLM-100 Mics) – Mixer Mains out – Boss RC-2 Loop station – Amp return.

Getting the mixer in there means I get the natural sound of my mics and the effected sound of the pickup, can blend them, and both can be recorded by the looper.  The Vox is where it is to mimic a gain channel on an amp (my amp has none).  For some reason when it’s ahead of the ME-50B I get more squelch too, so it’s better placed later.

Both of the Boss pedals have homemade tap tempo switches, two for the ME-50 and a single for the RC-2.  These tap tempos require NORMALLY CLOSED switches, NOT normally open, like it says almost everywhere on the internet.  Trust me, they need SPST-NC switches or they don’t perform their functions properly.  You’ll have to go to Digikey or some other specialty stores (not Radio Shack) to find foot-friendly NC switches.

(Audio samples used to be here, but they don’t exist anymore)

One last thing: Radio Shack brand soldering irons are absolute crap.  Don’t waste your time.

My new pedal board

Made from a piece of plywood (cut at Lowe’s), some cheap cabinet handles, rubber stoppers for feet, and velcro.  Gets the job done so that I don’t have quite so much little stuff to deal with – it just stays together.  I had the board cut to fit a nylon keyboard case I’ve had since I was 12 or so.  Eventually I’ll build something substantial, covered in carpet instead of patches of velcro, and with the power strip and maybe a DI box tucked inside a second layer or something (after I get a few other pedals).  The little box on the lower right is a home made version of the Boss FS-6.  I have it plugged into the ME-50B.  I’m going to make a single button version to sit next to the Loop Station to work with that.  Radio Shack was out of the project box that I was planning on using…

I need to simplify the power situation.  I don’t really need three wall warts, I can daisy chain one of those supplies, I just need the daisy chain.

I have the Vox Distortion Booster set at the front of the chain to make a crazy synth sound with the Wah if I want.  It’s not the best pedal for that purpose, but it’s what I have.  It feeds back a lot since it comes before the Noise Supressor.  Oh well.  I need to make some right angle cables cut to the right length too, since the standard guitar patch cables I have are far too long.

Micro Pog

Today I got to play on an Electro Harmonix Micro Pog at C.V. Lloyd Music Center in Champaign.  What a sweet little box!  I called them to see if they had a similar but more feature filled pedal by EHX in stock, but this was all they had.  They were nice enough to let me come in and try it out, knowing that I wasn’t going to be buying it right now, but just wanted to see how the tech worked with the bassoon.

This thing tracked so well, didn’t glitch at all like my ME-50B does on octaves.  It followed the whole range of the bassoon all the way down to low Bb, which almost never works on what I have now.  It even gave me multiphonics doubled at the octave!  Three octaves of a bassoon multiphonic is a trippy sound, let me tell you.

They loved it.  One of the guys working there came over and said “pardon my French, but that is f*&#$ awesome!”  They may get a Hog – that’s the pedal I’m really interested in – in at some point and they’ll call me to let me try that out if it comes in.  I was impressed that they were willing to get it in stock, even when I told them up front that I might not be able to buy it until Christmas time, if I’m lucky.  Good guys that worked there.

There was also a cute beagle wandering around the store.  Apparently it belongs to the grandmother of one of the guys that works there, and he was watching it for her.

New Techniques for the Bassoon

Most college level bassoonists have begun to experiment with “extended” techniques on the instrument.  As part of my DMA preparation I am doing a lot of research on extended techniques.  No list of techniques is exhaustive, but one book (that is unfortunately no longer in print, but might be found at your college library) has a very extensive set of detailed descriptions on various extended techniques.  This book is Il fagotto : altre techniche : nuove fonti di espressione musicale (The bassoon : other techniques : new sources of musical expression) By Sergio Penazzi.  It’s got loads of multiphonic fingerings, timbre trill fingerings, flutter-tonguing technique… loads of stuff described in detail.  He also likes to use the typically undesireable noises of the keys on the bassoon deliberately for effect, sometimes within the context of a pitch.

Along with the book are supossed to be two disks with audio examples mentioned in the text.  Unfortunately they’re vinyl, and set up very odd at that – they look like 45s, but they play at 33rpm… go figure.  Anyway, I took the liberty of digitizing the examples, so if someone doesn’t have access to a record player, or if the disks are too damaged on the copy they have available, you can hear the examples here.

So here are the examples from the book.  I’ve run the files through a filter to remove the more offensive crackling and popping, but the source disks weren’t in great shape, so this is probably the best I could do.  Each clip is an entire side of a disk, running about 9 minutes.

If there is demand I’ll edit the post to contain a brief description of what the example is doing, but most of it is pretty intuitive.

I have no idea how he makes the insanely high notes.  I didn’t read that part of the text.  It’s gotta be with an insanely stiff reed and teeth.  Holy crap…

Bonus fun: play all four samples at the same time

Update: I found the files after having lost them, and now they’re back for good!

Electric Bassoon strategies part 2

Notice:  Sorry, some of the audio clips got cut off in the encoding process and I didn’t notice until I had already deleted my original files.  You get the idea anyway.  Moving on:

Things have come a long way since my last post.  I did a little house cleaning of the thread and the first post’s links have now been fixed.  I have more or less completed designing my new pickup, and have had a chance to show it to a few important individuals that approve of it and say it has potential greater than the Telex.  If things go well expect it to be available at Forrests as an option to go along with the Telex.

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Electric Bassoon strategies

This is a cross-post of my writings at the IDRS forum on methods of amplying the bassoon.  Seemed like a good way to get my blog rolling.  Then I’ll post some hotly political stuff later.

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