We started our Every Instrument Has A Story series to explore the important, often extraordinary, bond that musicians share with their instruments. We are always forming connections with fans and customers through social media, so when we saw that Bryan Minerly had posted a video on Instagram captioned “I love telling the story of how I was blessed by an anonymous friend who GAVE me a Taylor 814ce guitar when I couldn’t afford anything,” we reached out to him and asked permission to share his story.
This is our first ever customer submission for Every Instrument Has A Story, and we know you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. To learn more about Bryan’s music visit here.
Over the last few months, we’ve been cooking up new presets for BigSky, TimeLine, and Mobius to share with you on our blog series – This Week’s Preset. The original idea stemmed from our desire to connect with our friends and fans creatively – through new, exciting, often experimental sounds.
However, this time we want to hear from you! Send us your own preset, whether it’s your go-to favorite, something you’ve been experimenting with, or one you came up with at 3AM during a Netflix binge. It can be a preset or favorite setting from any Strymon pedal, and you can share it with us however you like – whether it be in our blog comments, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our favorite presets will be selected to appear in upcoming installments of This Week’s Preset!
Mobius is one of my favorite pedals to explore because of its insane versatility. Its sounds range from beautiful to bizarre, and its many modulation machines (Flanger, Rotary, Phaser, Filter, and
Vintage Tremolo, to name some of my favorites) seem to easily open up new doors to creative expression. It’s easy to get lost in the possibilities. So many waveform shapes, so little time!
One of my go-to Mobius modulation machines is the Filter. Being able to choose one of several waveforms, control modulation speed, mix dry vs. wet, and set tap division allows for some amazing sonic possibilities.
While I can’t say I possess the looping skills of the guy across the office (State Shirt), I am definitely a fan of looping – whether done live or in the studio. This week, let’s take a look at some artists who are putting TimeLine’s built-in Looper to good use.
Mikhail Medvedev builds an amazing ambient song using just TimeLine and his guitar.
Riding the line between excited and nervous, I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center on the eve of January 21st – less than 24 hours before Strymon’s (and my own) first NAMM show. I was greeted by two Strymon team members standing in front of our well-manicured booth, which contained six demo stations and looked like it had been transplanted directly from our engineering office in Westlake Village, CA.
There is a lesser-known, more experimental side of Deco that is not featured in our Deco demos. For this list, we rounded up our favorite Deco secrets to inspire you to push your creative limits.
1. Deco doubles as a DJ-ing tool.
I’ve enjoyed plugging the left and right signals from a music player into the Deco for various uses. From fattening up the signal to adding grit and distortion with the Tape Saturation and using the Doubletracker and its knobs to manually dial in smooth modulation and echo to the tracks. Can be a great tool for DJ’s!
Thank you to everybody who participated in our #StrymonLights Deco giveaway contest! We really enjoyed checking out your pedalboards as well as your photography skills. You gave us some of the most creative entries we’ve ever seen, and we had an extremely difficult time picking just a few winners. So, again, a big thanks to everybody who shared their #StrymonLights with us.
We recently asked those of you who are passionate about live music to email us with stories of your favorite concert experiences. To all of you who sent us your stories, we had a wonderful time reading your submissions. Not only were they fun to read, but they were personal, insightful, and successful in translating what made these specific shows so important to each and every one of you. Reading the submissions, it was clear how close these experiences are to your hearts and we thank you all for sharing them. There were some stories, however, that really stood out to us. Like this one, which comes from Eric Martin.
It was the 4th of July. The party starts early at phish shows… you’d show up to the parking lot around 3:00 PM for a show that won’t start until 8:30 PM. You’d have some beers, sit under a shade tent, you’d either be grilling, or you’d go in search of someone else grilling (“Get your sexy grilled cheese! One for $2, two for $3! Two slices of bread with the butter spread, sexy grilled cheese!”). Jam sessions in the shade with friends, or you’d just go walking. There’s some great people watching in the Phish lot.
Phish has no openers and plays two sets. The first set was blistering with some amazing guitar work, but it was set two where the magic happened. Ghost > Slave to the Traffic Light. At this point, the sun has set and Chris Kuroda’s legendary light show is in full effect. The Ghost went into some dark, spacey improvised jam that lasted about 13 minutes until it seamlessly blended into the intro the Slave. The Slave was played very well. It’s the Slave jam where the memories were made. It starts very sparse. Trey, Mike, and Page are dancing around the A, G, D, E chord progression, without actually landing on it. This beautiful soft melody grows and builds until Trey starts the meat of his solo, a simple repeating pattern with fills to break up the monotony. Eventually, they are playing the most intense progression I’ve ever heard and the crowd, all 19,000 of us, are going absolutely nuts. It was the only time music, not the words, but just the music has made me cry. Tears of absolute joy.
Here’s the soundboard recording of the segment, if you’re curious… you don’t have to like Phish to appreciate it:
Last week, we touched on live music’s inherent ability to bring people together. This week, we’re taking a more in-depth and interactive look at what makes a concert unforgettable. But first, a brief history of live music.
Back in the mid-nineteenth century, composer Richard Wagner changed the opera scene by instituting what he called Gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art.” His philosophy was that opera, rather than remain mostly a musical vehicle, should encompass every aspect of the creative arts – poetry, music, drama, and visual art all working in complete harmony. These operas were the Woodstocks of their time, and Wagner worked to take them to the next level.
Wagner’s “Parsifal” performed in Berlin, 2005.
The better part of two centuries later, Wagner’s vision is still being realized at every great live concert. It is my firm opinion that the most memorable and significant live performances tap into this “total art” idea. Live music, above all, is about performance, andperformance is dramatic. Performance takes place in a setting that enhances its story. Performance not only pleases the eye and ear, it creates a unique experience in which the show becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Not just songs, lights, and energy, but a fully realized, artistic vision. The best live concerts are so enveloping that they can only be described as “mind-blowing,” “epic,” or “best show ever!” Sometimes this entails an eight-piece band, elaborate stage design, and psychedelic lights; sometimes it only requires a solo performer on a bare stage.
Photo by Dylan Thomas of Hillsong United
As every concertgoer knows, this type of magic can’t be captured every time a band steps on stage. Even some of my favorite groups, which will remain nameless, have disappointed me live. This is simply the nature of the business. And this is what makes it so special when an artist you love blows you away in person. My all-time favorite shows – from acoustic performances to hip hop concerts – accomplished what Wagner envisioned back in 1860. I could gush about these incredible memories in extreme detail, but I’d rather hear from you.
Send us your own stories of your favorite concert experiences, whether you were onstage or in the crowd, to email@example.com. We’ll read them all, and, if it’s okay with you, we’ll even post some of them on our blog. Contributors who have their stories featured will receive a free Strymon t-shirt!
We look forward to hearing about your all-time favorite concerts!
The November 2010 issue of Premier Guitar features Strymon as one of the “5 Boutique Stompbox Builders You Should Know”. They say we’re “among the most impressive pedal builders in the world today.” Aw, thanks! We’re just five guys trying to create the best and most innovative products that we can, and we’re very proud to have been given this great accolade.
Read the entire article here and find out more about what makes our slightly crazy brains tick. Also featured are Red Witch, Mad Professor, Crowther Audio and Empress Effects. Mad props to Empress for their awesome company photo!
Recently, I ended up with a broken crybaby wah. I was already lucky enough to own a 70’s thomas organ crybaby which I love, so sacrificing this second newer crybaby for a project seemed like a fun idea. Since the crybaby chassis is extremely rugged and I like the action of the pedal, I set out to turn it into an expression pedal for my El Capistan. This article assumes that you have experience soldering and using basic tools like wire strippers, etc. Of course, always observe proper safety precautions and wear safety goggles while working on any type of electronics.
Here’s my wah on the workbench.
First, opening up this box couldn’t be easier. Just remove the 4 thumb screws from the back plate and remove the plate.
Then, unscrew the two jack nuts from the input and output jacks and also remove the single screw holding the PCB (printed circuit board) to the chassis. Unplug the cable connector, remove the PCB and set aside.
Connect your treadle pot to a standard 1/4″ TRS (tip/ring/sleeve) jack according to the schematic in tech corner #1. Desolder all wires from the pot and switch and set aside.
The “sleeve” of the jack is ground, so first connect that to the pin of the post closest to the footswitch. Then, connect a 1k resistor to the wiper (center pin) of the pot. Connect the resistor to the “tip” of the jack. Lastly, connect the pin of the pot closest to the jack to the “ring.” You’ve got an expression pedal!
Watch the youtube video for a walkthrough of the build process and an El Capistan demonstration with our completed diy project:
*All product names used in this article are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Strymon or Damage Control, LLC.
As some of you may already know, in 2009 we were very fortunate to be able to join forces with Damage Control Engineering, a formidable group of the best engineers in the music industry.
Since then, we’ve developed all of the new Strymon products together. We’re a tight knit team and both companies are stronger now as one.
It is our great honor and pleasure to announce that for the foreseeable future, all new Damage Control products will carry the Strymon name! This includes the new Damage Control products currently in development that you may have seen on the Damage Control blog. We’re extremely excited about these and working feverishly on them.
Welcome to the first post of our new Strymon Tech Corner series! I will be posting technical articles on music electronics as part of our blog at least once a month. Pete, Dave and Gregg from our team may also write an article here and there when they can get time away from their PCB layout programs and DSP emulators. Hopefully you’ll find these posts helpful and informative.
In this first edition I’ll be going through the inner workings of the common expression pedal. Once we know how one works, then comes the fun stuff … tearing them apart, modding, etc, etc. But that will be left to next month’s article :)
We knew from day 1 that we wanted some of our pedals to feature expression pedal inputs. So, the question was “what’s the standard?” That is, do all manufacturers make their expression pedals the same way? Luckily the answer is yes … mostly.
Expression pedals work by feeding a control voltage to a device, such as a guitar pedal or synthesizer. The voltage is read by the device and then used to change some type of parameter. The voltage range depends on the design of the pedal or synth. Our Strymon pedals, for example, read control voltages from 0 to 5 volts DC. Turns out that this is a fairly common voltage range, especially in music electronics where MIDI (a 5V system) is still popular and widely used after over 25 years. The expression pedal itself, however has nothing to do with the voltage range. It’s only function is to manipulate that range and control the control voltage. The way almost every expression pedal out there works is that it takes a reference voltage from the device it’s connected to, divides that voltage down by a certain amount and then feeds it back to the device. In electronic terms, this is most commonly accomplished with a TRS (tip / ring / sleeve) 1/4″ cable where the reference voltage is on the “ring,” the control voltage is fed back to the device on the “tip” and the “sleeve” is ground.
Here is what a standard 1/4″ TRS plug looks like:
As you can see from this 1907 diagram, TRS has been around for a long long time ;)
Here is the schematic for a typical expression pedal:
As you can see, the simplest and most common method is to use a passive potentiometer. A reference voltage from the device would enter the expression pedal jack on the ring. Then that voltage gets connected across a 10k load which is the resistive element of the potentiometer. When you move the expression treadle up and down there is a mechanical mechanism that physically turns the treadle potentiometer or “pot” as it’s commonly known. You can visualize the arrow at pin 1 of the treadle pot moving from pin 3 to pin 2 as one moves his/her foot back and forth on the pedal. This is what varies the voltage at pin 1. This is the control voltage which then travels out of the pedal on the tip of the jack. R2 is only present as a current limiter and not applicable to this discussion.
The Moog EP-2, Roland EV-5, and M-Audio EX-P all work in this manner, and therefore, work with our pedals. The nice thing about this standard design is that the control voltage is very stable and the value of the potentiometer in the expression pedal doesn’t matter so much. The Line6 EX1 is the only one we’ve see that works differently, with only a simple resistor divider and a mono cable. The nice thing about their solution is that it uses a mono cable. Two disadvantages are: 1. The expression pedal input circuit is highly dependent on the value of the potentiometer in the expression pedal. 2. Their products won’t work with other manufacturer’s expression pedals and vice versa.
Watch our video for more info and audio demos with our Brigadier delay and Orbit flanger.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first edition of the Strymon Tech Corner. Tune in next time where we’ll make our own D.I.Y. expression pedal from a broken crybaby wah!
*All product names used in this article are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Strymon.
Ethan and I met up with Phil Jamison at the Matchless HQ in Los Angeles recently to let him play through our Brigadier delay and blueSky reverberator. He dug the pedals! Phil is the amp designer over at Matchless. He’s a very genuine, good guy and it was a treat to see the Matchless facility and production line.
Below: camera phone shot of Phil rocking a Brigadier in front of one of his C-30 heads.