Hello everyone and welcome back to
another episode of Fret Buzz The Podcast.
My name is Aaron Sefchick and my co-host
I’m Joe McMurray and today we have a
special guest Mr. Miles Harshman. Hello.
Hello good morning, how are you doing sir? I’m
doing very good, doing very good.
Awesome. Today we’re gonna talk a little
bit about some guitar tone and what that
actually means once you get
into the root of it. Whether that’s
pedals or whether that’s amps or whether
that’s guitar, where all that comes from
using all kinds of wiring,
capacitors, resistors and what all
that entails. So yeah, today should be a
really good episode. I know I’ve been
wanting to talk to Miles for quite some
time and I’m very glad to have him on.
I’m glad to be here. Do you want
to start with a little like how all
three of us know each other? I don’t know
any of you guys. I’m just lost. I wandered
into this group completely on my own
volition. So all three of us know each
other from Bach 2 Rock. We all worked there
at the same time. I still work there and
these guys have moved on but nonetheless
yeah we all we spent some some good
times together at Bach 2 Rock also
stemming off Cole Holland you also were
a Berklee attendee where you know yes I
was so that’s I was know it’s kind of
cool yeah how you did you graduated from
Berklee correct mm-hmm
nice and you were doing jazz guitar
mainly not really I I would probably say
because they don’t have an ear training
major at Berklee somehow but I would
probably say I did that like most of the
classes that I took were all based
around like ear training and it’s kind
of playing guitar kind of not like some
of those classes we would get our guitar
into play but a lot
it was just like tons of singing tons of
listening hmm
so ultimately was your degree my degree
is a degree in professional music so
it’s it sounds a little maybe you know
like what is that but it’s kind of just
for like you get to make your own major
at Berklee a place like that you’ve got
so many things to learn not just that’s
required of you but just like the option
to learn so many things like say you’ve
just wanted to do for years of like
nothing but country guitar like they’ve
got all the classes to do nothing but
that or say you wanted to do like I did
lots of Brazilian classes like I think
it was probably second second memory
Quentin like we’re learning about
Brazilian music so like rasa Nova’s
different styles the mushy che and
avishay and bhaiya and all that kind of
different styles within Brazil that
there’s always kind of its own like
unique musical history kind of parallel
unit to the United States so there’s
there’s a lot to study there that’s sick
yeah so yeah so a lot of a lot of kind
of like compositional stuff and but
mostly you’re trading lots of your
training that was usually seen as
masochistic amongst my class because
there wasn’t like your training was
required when you go there but only for
say like two of the years four years was
the same at George Mason right so you
can just of course Alec’s take more and
most people like hate it anyway so they
definitely don’t and there was probably
like a group was maybe 30 or 40 of us
that we’re all taking these extra ear
training classes because we all loved it
and liked it it was just kind of really
fun to do so we would all kind of see
each other amongst these other classes
and I’d probably say that we all
probably were kind of doing the same
thing like just trying to soak up as
much ear training as possible so what
what about that appealed to you just to
me like watching other musicians like I
remember I otama Fujii
is a private lesson teacher for a little
while and I remember one day bringing in
like a Johnny Guitar Watson song and I’m
like I told him you know I want to learn
how to play this and like we put it on
and within seconds he’s starting to play
along to the chords now granted it’s
baby just two blues and that’s should be
easy to hear whatever but I was just
blown away by the fact that like within
seconds he knows what voicings to hit
like everything sounds like perfect with
the style and you know he just
I just I’m like how do you know what
these courts are there’s like I just I
just I hear it I know it’s like take
your training seriously
from that day I absolutely did so to me
it’s just like I find it it’s kind of
like speaking at language like when you
hear something you want to be able to
understand what it was
you don’t just want it to be kind of
like you know a phrase that you just
keep repeating it’s you start to hear
hear stuff and other than it is kind of
like a little bug for all of us were
really into just kind of you know here
in chord progressions and trying to hear
the tensions and right it’s like a fun
game in a way yeah so you like the tests
for like harmonic you’re training we
didn’t have much writing to do but like
say the midterm or final would just be
like eight chords all half nuts all
probably like five voicings at least and
yeah you’ve got like maybe a couple
tries just to figure it out and they’d
give you like the one chord at the
beginning yeah I think yeah we did she
tell you the first chord and then from
there you got to figure everything else
out yeah that’s not very useful on music
theory dot M at there’s that they have
yeah your training where you could do
yeah yeah uncle notes you can do
intervals and then they did like the
fourths yeah the full chords and yeah
they didn’t we need to we need to add a
few more to that because that would be
like doing all of that stuff and then
adding tensions to it like upper
structure triads and
yeah all that fun stuff I mean it would
be incredibly useful incredibly useful
if you’re playing jazz and you would
never get lost if you could go yes
also that well in jazz when they threw
in those cool chords like just chord
substitutions like being able to hear
those knowing like what’s going on when
you hear one of those chords like okay
they just not to try to UM substitution
uh yeah that’s why sounds so cool when
it goes chromatic Li etcetera etcetera
yeah yeah just trying to be able to like
hear that stuff by ear that we’re not
always reliant on like someone writing
down the music for you you can just kind
of go in and listen to it yourself and
as a teacher you’d also be able to you
know if a kid wants to play a song you’d
make it easy yeah that’s usually that’s
kind of how I like to teach my lessons
just because I think it’s it was an
inspiring moment to me to see like Tomo
Fujita just pull out these chords like
out of nowhere and so I kind of do that
with some of my students were you know
though they might want to learn a song
and I don’t want to go to the internet
just to look it up and it’s just a
handful of chords anyway to me so I just
listen to it and I just start playing
along and they’re like whoa okay this is
really cool and then it just thread it
down for them and gone to the next one
and because it to me it’s like a
language like you know you you play a
chord progression for me you’re giving
me a certain set of information and yeah
it’s just you know it’s kind of like I
guess here I shouldn’t say hearing
theory okay that’s what it is but like
seeing colors like once you can do it
you can I can’t turn it off so like well
it wasn’t always when I’m listening to
music it’s almost like always an ear
training exercise but seems like that
goes hand in hand with your yeah your
love of tone like we were introducing at
the beginning you know if your if your
hearing is that in tune or that honed in
it makes sense that you would care extra
about the tone you’re getting from your
amp or your pedals or your guitar yeah
because yeah yeah I mean it’s a
different it’s different but just
really listening it does you know if
you’re playing guitar by yourself you
really hear the differences in tone
sometimes I feel like with the band and
the more pedals you put on it doesn’t
matter so much which guitar amusing but
I guess you’re playing are you ever play
out are you just teaching and working
I’m mostly teaching jamming mesfet jam
it’s usually like funk okay who’s that
kind of thing that whatever is I guess
you could call jam be any music festival
music unless that kind of funk stuff
that everyone likes to dance – yeah I
love it – yeah actually we had a bass
player on Randy Nicholas a few weeks ago
and he’s been touring with a band called
broccoli Samurai and they’ve been
opening for various jam bands like
pigeons playing ping-pong and I had a
great discussion about jam band music
and that sort of thing which obviously I
get excited about oh you know glad you
do – you do you ever get into Wolfpack
we’ve got some good funk going on now
we’re talking know you guys check it out
speaking the jam dance my dad was
organizing his records and he’s got like
a few of those Grateful Dead albums
some of them in like pristine condition
go sure some dead heads would be
thrilled now do you love Jerry Garcia’s
tone or is that not your um he wouldn’t
be seeing my my my tone idle I mean I am
not sure maybe it’s probably a cop-out
at this point in time but Jimi Hendrix
and hmm I guess kind of Stevie Moore
Jimmy and Robin Trower but I guess you
know Robin Trower was like a huge Jimmy
fan if you listen to Jimmy and then you
hear Robin it’s like well gosh that
dudes a fan who doesn’t love a univibe
so and fuzz so and if you look at my
pedal board over here I’ve got four
fuzzes five five buzzes
Oh once you through that eight that’s 14
cuddles and one is a tuner five are
fuzzies Wow they’re all different roses
okay so I don’t have any fuzz two
different two different OverDrive’s but
I have why what what is what is it about
the fuzz tones and why do you need five
of them what’s different between them
well two of them are octave buzzes so
those are different beasts and
themselves and one of those octopuses
really sounds like a synth in a way okay
I mean it’s really really gnarly but
definitely has kind of like some sense
tone to it
one thing that people use fuzz for and I
guess kind of Jimmy did it and other
people do it just worry you have the
fuzz cranked on the new roll the volume
knob back you get get the much cleaner
sound and even almost like where it’s
clean clean but it’s still got some grit
to it like that that tone is really hard
to achieve without a fuzz face or fuzz
circuit and without you know an amp
that’s kind of running pretty hard it’s
hard to make that kind of like light
rock or I don’t even know how to
describe it other than it just sounds
like you know a fuzz rolled down it’s
got that it’s got that magic you can’t
get it anywhere else just like a little
texture on your notes that yeah I don’t
know it’s just like whatever’s going on
I mean I know all this electronic stuff
and I still couldn’t tell you what’s
going on inside but I mean something
with impedance or whatever but yeah just
whatever happens when you turn that
volume knob down and the fuzz is still
really cranked it just it’s a really
inspiring tone what’s different about
that from like so I recorded a song
recently and I I turned my fender
Princeton Reverb up to like five or six
and it it breaks up very well naturally
cuz it’s not a big amp I got a ten inch
speaker in it and like a lot of times at
a show I’ll I’ll crank my amp to if it’s
big enough room and I get a really nice
you know there it’s clean
but there’s some distortion when I some
grit words especially depending on the
volume knob why would you go for a fuzz
pedal underneath that to get that sound
as opposed to an amp doing right so yeah
well the textures of it is a little bit
different there’s something about it
definitely seems like I guess some of
the bass is taken away and that kind of
seems like maybe I might cut through a
little bit more okay something about it
like in a way seems thin but not in like
a good way not a bad way so that’s my
granny’s know what I mean but yeah like
just just baking mid-show yes the the
well one thing that’s also handy when
you do that not just having that light
drive it’s just the ability to turn that
volume knob up and then have some gnarly
fuzz on tap right there
right now you don’t have to go for a
pedal you can just kind of dial it in
however you want and so in that sense
it’s kind of like you’ve turned your
guitar and so there’s the distortion
knob mm-hm so it’s like yes I think
that’s pretty cool just having it that
fuzz that’s on tap is really cool like I
know there’s um a song tender surrender
by Steve Vai I don’t think he’s using a
fuzz face but it is doing the volume
knob thing and if you watched that video
as cheesy as it might be for the for
that song tender surrender you can see
him as the song intensifies he starts
rolling that volume up more and more and
eventually it’s all the way up and it’s
you know gnarly and crazy and yeah okay
but I don’t know yeah I mean I guess
usually because I’m trying to go for
like a fuzz lead tone I just want that
ready but also the ability did to do my
kind of light crispy rock tones so yeah
you kind of get it all in one just with
a fuzz face song and your volume knob
down so that yeah so I have five buzzes
okay so I run just some I’m comparing
I’m trying to work this out in my head
but I typically run like a two different
OverDrive’s one’s a tube screamer and
one’s a Keely and sometimes if I want
like my my go to lead tone is you know
eat one of those Oh
drives maybe a little bit of delay I’ve
got reverb on my amp is you know what is
the difference between the lead tone
from a fuzz in the pet like when I’ve
used them in the past I’ve felt like
it’s it hasn’t cut through the mix as
well yes I have as much doesn’t have as
much sustain as an overdrive to me well
I was gonna say well what fuzz are you
okay affair what’s amazing and what
pickups are you using because fuzzes are
pretty sensitive to the type of pickup
you’re using okay so you know was the
ally would sing okay well that
back-in-the-day yeah it would have been
a good thing but do you know what kind
of fuzz I I don’t I mean I’ve used a big
muff before it might be the only one
I’ve ever really the the big one this is
the one that’s probably the hardest to
use in a band context because it’s got
like the full frequency range being
amplified and distorted and in terms of
a band there it is right there yeah yeah
that thing has got so much bass that
like if it wasn’t just like a rock trio
like you would have a hard time cutting
through just cuz the bass player the
organ player someone you just like it’s
just too much frequency so I know like
David Gilmour uses an EQ pedal after his
fuzz phases so he can like trim I guess
some of the bass off and give it maybe
more of a mid hump or a big scoop and
actually I think he uses like an EQ in
front and after and one of the speak
Cornish rigs or whatever but he’s
definitely trying to like you get the
fuzz tone but then still be able to like
a more fit with his eq’s to kind of cut
through and that’s the problem that some
fighters have is that they’re just too
big that I guess I’m like a Jimi Hendrix
kind of setting where it’s like it’s
just a guitar and a bass and drums and
you’ve got the guitar to fill up all
that frequency then the fuzz kind of
works because it just sounds so big yeah
but yeah I like trying to trying to do
it and like say a funk situation like
you can’t have it on all the time so
that’s why I like
roll it back so it’s there have it if I
need it
mm-hmm and if I need it I have it so
yeah and you couldn’t just stomp it on
when you’re ready well I mean yeah you
could do that I mean if you want to go
for like you know just a tubescreamer go
onto your amp but for me it’s like
having you know the fuzz tone is much
different than a tube screamer the way
it’s touch sensitive and I mean I get
lots of sustain maybe I don’t know what
fuzz you were using but get a better
fuzz will tell you that okay it should
be it should be fun and it should
sustain forever especially if it’s loud
she’d almost feedback cuz it’s it’s it’s
so loud that’s another thing about fuzz
they tend to be really loud because they
want to try and get your amp working a
little bit as well so and by that you
mean you want to have your amp on the
verge or break up and then yeah well
even it over even if it’s not on the
verge of break up sometimes these
fuzzles are so loud they can just make
it break up anyway just because this
thing I’ll going in is so loud like
usually when when we put your amp on the
edge of break up you’re actually using
that first stage to overdrive everything
else and if you just put a loud pedal
into your amp when it’s not breaking up
you’ll actually hear that first stage
and everything else
overdrive after it so in a way you’re
like when you when you put your amp on
the edge of break up you’re kind of
using that first stage as another
booster in itself so but yeah you are
like losing your Headroom and getting
that that gnarliness once you dig into
it which is kind of what you get with a
fuzz whether it’s turned up or turned
down like the more you dig into it the
more gifts and you hold back and it
holds back especially once you turn that
volume knob down it’s just kind of got
this weird jangling us and clearness and
christina still that just sounds really
good yes so let’s go back to the you
talked about first stage of breakup
you’re saying is the first stage the
pedal or the amps tubes breaking oh well
that’s that’s
it depends on how you want it to work I
mean I would probably like I just built
this amp which is effectively like jtm
45 and a jcm800 okay in one bottle
yeah just basically a big marshal in a
box lunch with a 112 even though it
looks like a Fender okay
but yeah I would probably on either
channel always have a little bit of grit
to it just because that’s kind of the
way it’s been traditionally used but boy
we’re traditionally using it as is
getting that first stage in the amp to
be breaking up so our pickups are
actually causing some distortion
initially and then getting the pedal de
to add some more okay hmm
I’m stoking all of this in right now the
first stage you’re saying the signals
breaking up the signals before even gets
to the end no not before it gets to the
amp no not from the pickups so it’s it’s
going from your pickups into that first
stage that first half of a tube okay
that means it’s after that stage is
where your volume knob is your gain knob
usually is on the end yeah like another
jtm 45 your and non master volume GT up
45 that that volume knob is right after
that first stage and that’s why it’s
effectively your gain knob okay because
you’re turning the volume up from that
first stage into the rest of the amp and
then of course as you go up it distorts
and so it naturally happens but yeah
using that first stage to get a little
bit of crispness is I guess kind of the
way we originally did it and I guess
that was kind of just because of you
know amps weren’t loud enough and they
wanted to be loud so they turned them up
all the way and then figured out hey
this cool sound comes out when we turn
it up all the way but it only comes out
when we turn it up all the way so that
was like another problem in itself
that’s what it drives me crazy people
and have these enormous amps like why do
you want such a big am you can’t ever
make it sound good well you mean you can
use a big gap if you just only use it as
stereotyped pedal platform if you never
use it to break up at all that it’s just
simply like a big high five stereo
system for your helix or if you go all
the way all the way with pedals with you
know getting every bit of tone from that
and just using your amp as a make louder
device they need then you need the
Headroom I mean either student who he
was in a market for an amp and I brought
over my hot rod deluxe just to show him
like what 40 Watts does you know like
it’s loud okay you don’t yeah you don’t
get to turn it up that much a guitar sir
and when you do they all kind of look at
you anyway
but right so I wanted him to have the
experience of just hearing like one of
these amps in his own like house and how
darn loud they are and of course he ends
up getting not not just a to power tube
amp but a for power tube amp yeah
Mesa heartbreaker mm-hmm which is like
kind of what I built
but like plus like two more amps inside
but it’s got four power tubes it’s it’s
ginormous it’s got two two speakers just
like that twin behind Aaron I don’t know
if you can see that twin but that twin
behind Aaron is the back breaker of the
music world or in front of Aaron yeah
yeah he got a back breaker app and he’s
got that it is really heavy I’ve carried
them yeah yeah it’s probably got a
hernia from it’s freaking huge
yeah his amps is of similar weight yeah
but it’s he’s he’s got the power to like
put you know I told him if you want to
use modeling stuff if you want to get or
like I think he uses his iPad for some
of that like online stuff or whatever I
can’t remember what it’s called but if
you want to use that a total mic you
need a really loud app that way you’re
hearing just it and not the amp giving
up why would you not want your aunt’s
flavor added in there well I mean if the
amp has just a boring flavor so so for
example that yeah I mean but that twin
we’re talking about you know
amp would be the perfect pedal platform
because it just gets super super super
loud mm-hmm clean it and clean and it
doesn’t distort and I mean you can pull
that not up or whatever but it’s just
super super clean and so whatever you
put into that will just be however loud
you want it to be and say if you know
you got that like that Freedman be EOD
drive that like everyone everyone loves
and that’s your distortion tone you
probably wouldn’t want say that Chris
penis of you know offender being added
to that that might not necessarily be
the best thing right even though you
know Thunder fender distortion has its
place it’s just not it doesn’t have its
place in that tone so that’s kind of why
you’d probably want an amp with such
high Headroom just does it make doesn’t
make louder device I totally get the
clean Headroom for for like it a jazz
setting or certain things like that like
you really I can’t even use my Princeton
with a live jazz band a lot of times
especially if it’s outside oh yeah
definitely unless fusion yeah yeah I
mean if you’re trying to get distortion
yeah but uh you know the bet at the
times when I played my old hot rod
outside and was able to turn up or at a
big club I mean like I played at the
Howard Theater once and or twice and
easy but like those big rooms or
outdoors when you turn it up like
there’s just nothing even close that
I’ve ever gotten from just a pedal like
yeah that the amps start just start
sounding in way better as you turn them
up yeah it’s there’s no battle making it
close it’s kind of like just really the
speaker and everything that really works
like half your amp really is the speaker
you change that speaker and boy does it
really change oh yeah and to me I think
like when you turn amps up like that all
that Bojo you’re really hearing is like
the cab and the speaker really doing
their work moving all that air past you
I think that that sound pressures we’re
a kind of key to how you perceive the
tone and so yeah like that no pedal no
matter what you know you plug it into
whatever tiny amp if it ain’t loud if it
doesn’t have the power it’s not gonna
sound like that
I don’t know how far up that volume knob
on a hotrod deluxe you got but yeah it
does sound really good
you know even on just the clean channel
cuz yeah it doesn’t distort that much
but it just kind of sounds you know
richer yeah it’s it’s warm warm full
sound all those stereotypical words we
use yeah it’s like oh this is what we’re
talking about when we talk about like
warm and to be and good this is what I
had to do make my ears bleed yeah right
you really can’t understand until you’ve
used an amp and turned it up a tube amp
yeah you can’t understand what people
are talking about I so I I had a my hot
rod actually got melted at a gig that I
played about a year and a half ago I had
a power surge and anybody out there your
I’m gonna Brown get a brown box whatever
that thing is no no that’s a surge
protector I think and I can get like
there are a lot of different surge
projectors out there I highly recommend
them yeah it melted melted my whole PA
melted my amp but the amp was fixable
they had to put a new power they went in
and fixed it but new power tubes not
tubes it was the transformer oh yeah but
fender actually fixed it under warranty
nice nice it took three months which
cost me not a lot of money I ended up
buying it it was a roll in JC forty cuz
I just had a fascination with the old JC
120 because jazz tones and everyone’s
you know crystal clear and it is that
but I started gigging with it and just
immediately noticed the difference in my
lead stuff like jazz sounded good
especially through a hollow body or semi
hollow but like my rock uh it was just
not the same what are you using for a
lead tone
I was using a Kili red dirt germanium
and a tubescreamer
just you know I alternate but I mean the
JC 40 was sterile
it was very sterile sounding it yes to
that I would find their hands that would
be a perfect for like you know your tube
screamers are meant to be used in a
certain way where that app is just not
gonna do what you want what you expect
it to do and then have the tube screamer
behave and the according manner yeah
because there I mean I bet probably it
probably sounded best we’ll just try to
get our distortion from the tube
screamer and turn the volume down
mm-hmm so it wasn’t hitting the amp hard
cuz yeah I’m sure that JC forty if that
tutor was hard was not sound and yeah
just tell us doing by T or something
it’s thin didn’t have the sustain didn’t
have the thickness in the leading tones
it’s it’s really hard to describe but
really I it was great for me as I’ve
been playing guitar for a long time at
this point to go back to a solid state
after years of not having one – RIA
preciate a tube amp and I ended up
selling the JC 40 and I got this fender
Princeton which I just like I’m head
over heels for the same because it’s
just really warm yeah it’s a 68 reissue
that that’s that reissue nice it’s a
little bass here than the 65 but you can
just turn your you can just turn the EP
use down and it’s great you know yeah
you know I actually just played a
quilter amp last time and that is looked
really nice
that kind of blew me away because it’s
it’s no tubes but so I was showing Aaron
a picture of the amp I was playing next
to it you know that that little Coulter
was sitting next to that ampeg v4 Aaron
I was playing an ampeg v4 which is this
huge huge guitar bass amp that’s like
the predecessor to the ampeg svt
which is another huge amp but this tiny
little what was it I think I think it
had two 8-inch speakers in it and it was
200 watts okay
and holy crap was it was definitely 200
watts I mean the eighties holding up a
picture of that that big half stack yeah
yeah and just past it you make maybe you
can see that tiny amp hiding behind it
that’s that’s the cool tear and that was
just as loud this guy right here a
little guy okay you’re the well on the
no no in between those two
oh the tiny guy yes yes other big amp is
a lab series I actually didn’t even get
a chance to plug into that because
that’s kind of a famous solid-state amp
but I saw this quilter there and I was
like hold up a lot of noise has been
made about these quilters yeah they seem
to have all these really kind of neat
features so yeah I kind of had to plug
in and check one out and it sounds very
very very good but there is something to
solid state amps that and I think I have
a pin down were like have you ever
played a a guitar through a bass amp
I’ve never done that I’ve never had a
baby yeah we ever did that a boxer
rocker you just play just because you
don’t have an amp or something like that
and the feel of it is very different not
just because it’s got no treble or
whatever about like when you pick those
notes it’s got a different feel to it
and part of that is down to the power
section because it’s me for a bass amp
it needs to have the ability to amplify
those huge frequencies so it writes tons
of power and reserve to do so and that
has a specific feel that I think all
solid-state amps have I mean I’m just
might be in my head I might be making
this up but to me like even though this
amp sounded great like if you weren’t
playing it you would think maybe this is
a tube amp like
sounded very very good but it had this
kind of like immediacy to the bass
response we’re like no matter what it’s
like it’s always there in a way whereas
if you turn up your Princeton you know
even though it’s probably like
distorting you kind of feel it give in a
little bit to some of those notes yeah
because it’s as that note amplifies its
drawing power from the power section and
that’s actually like lowering the volume
in a sense so there’s kind of like this
give-and-take relationship happening
inside your Princeton but the way we
make the solid state amp
is that that power section is so stiff
we call it that it won’t ever give in
it’s always got enough power to amplify
the next bass note and always give every
note the fullest amount it’s possible
right and I think that’s kind of the
thing in a solid-state amp I kind of
noticed the same thing in like those
what’s the the new gloss on it
not the katanas the Blues cube oh yeah
kind of in the katanas but in the Blues
cube as well we’re like yeah the the
crunchy tones the Blues tones you know
it all sounds good but it’s the way that
it feels that I think really kind of
gives it that authenticity that I’m sure
Kemper was like trying to go for it’s
like you you can feel how the amp kind
of gives up and you’re playing and
reacts to your playing
mm-hm and I think you kind of can’t
design that out of a solid-state app I
think I feel like I’m pretty sure that
you can’t take that stiffness out to
allow it to kind of give up because the
transistors just don’t work like tubes
in that sense so that’s kind of like the
zone the tube amp is its own magical
happy accidents for guitar tuned yeah I
I completely know what you’re talking
about with the give I it’s so hard to
explain I think he did a pretty pretty
good job of it but you gotta try it
everybody out there if you haven’t been
using a tube amp yeah no matter who you
are you definitely need to I mean
the beginners out there you you
definitely need to be able to grab a
tube amp and then a B it against a solid
state they’re just it’s like a rite of
passage yeah it’s a rite of passage it’s
just yeah it’s night and day it’s yeah
you have to be able to play something in
order to feel it’s you know if you’re
just starting you won’t notice a
difference probably but I mean you might
if you really turn it up and just had a
big D chord yeah they both have their
place I’ll say to that you know tube
amps are analog they’re they’re great
but at the same time solid-state the
amps they have their place yeah I mean
that’s why the poly John Brut got so
famous among jazz guitarists is that
they like that that immediacy did the
bass and they also just like to having
to replace tubes so you carrying it
around a lot to little clubs yeah easier
on the back solid states are way lighter
yeah they’ll save your back definitely
yeah oh yeah I tried to carry my hot rod
deluxe to a gig once and Boston but if
you did it often you wouldn’t have to
get a gym membership or anything maybe
your obliques would be very strong last
time one side oh yes so I actually feel
like most of my time in Boston gigs with
my micro cube okay
Ewan yeah I would always get a look from
the the sound guy of just like what the
hell did you bring why no one’s going to
hear you dude and then I’d hand them a
quarter-inch cable and I’m like direct
in dude like yeah what up yeah oh oh
this is amazing
okay right now I’ve like yeah I won’t
have to worry about turning him down or
the whole band can hear him I can throw
him in the mix so yeah it was kind of
great in that sense very handy but it
did look a little silly because like
there’s this tiny little square the
corner hiding hiding
on your beer glass being overcome by
guitar is like I even play through
anything right just kinda like cables
coming out the funniest sometimes in
Virginia Beach on the boardwalk you’ll
see people busking out at the oceanfront
and you’ll see these guys with like
sometimes a little tiny one on their hip
like 5 inches by 5 inches yes this
little honey tone gentle eyes have honey
tone ones yeah I think it’s like a
little Marshall but it they’re terrible
sounding oh yes of course yeah I think I
saw a video of someone plugging in like
50 of those things I’ve seen that I’d
like a being it against a real like like
half stack yeah yeah so like if you yeah
150 watt Marshall against 51 one more
funny as ever
yeah sounded 50 times is terrible so I’m
gonna kind of go way back actually to
the very beginning because coming from
Berkeley and ear training to modding
pedals and guitars and amps how did you
get started in the hole cuz I mean I
remember when we were in classes brought
your guitar and and all of a sudden you
were like I’m gonna make this into like
50 different switches and you were
putting yeah constantly and I was like
holy cow like I didn’t even know you
could do that much to a guitar in terms
of phone just the guitar itself yeah it
really started with I built my first
guitar in high school which was like a
strat I guess I kind of tried to build
it after the Lenny strat Stevie Ray
Vaughan’s Lenny strat that had varying
degrees of success but that was like my
first four end of making a assembling a
guitar and then at college I had
wired all the parts to my sitting flip
the camera around this guy right here
so I for the longest time I had the
parts to this and I just never had the
time or the desire to put it together
because in my strat it was just like
your simple strap wearing but in this
one I wanted to add piezo pickups so
that has its own LR bags craziness
inside it and then yeah I had gotten
into all those switches that I put into
my strat so right that kind of yeah it
all kind of snowball that one weekend
and getting really into just figuring
out how to do my guitar properly kind of
led me towards everything else okay so
it started on the guitar just adding
those switches which is just like you
know tone caps or whatever or can look
what else I put in there oh yeah like
series-parallel switches and stuff right
that’s yeah definitely one thing I’d
ever like to into my guitars but they’re
you know it’s kind of the beginning of
figuring out kind of I guess electronics
and it was just kind of a real curiosity
like I learned I learned that so I said
well let’s just let’s learn something
else like I was that was pretty easy and
just connecting a few wires and switches
and okay so for like a beginners
beginners kind of dive into so there’s
we have like phase inversion and coil
tapping and I mean we have a whole bunch
of things that we can actually do in
your words how would you explain all of
that you’re just kind of really ordering
the parts inside your guitar it’s
basically what you’re doing at least
your pickups that’s what you’re doing in
terms of like phase reversal and
you’re just changing where your pickups
are kind of lined up in your in your
signal chain and so yeah I know Jimmy
Jimmy Page
as his own famous wiring scheme which is
crazy but it’s basically just like I
like get this right he’s got a coil tap
for each pickup phase not face or phase
reversal on one of them and I think he
can do inside outside coils like there’s
a bunch of it with humbuckers it gets
really crazy with the combinations that
you can do because the humbucker is
essentially just two single coil pickups
put next to each other and wired a
specific way right the way we usually
understand on Bucer
but once you separate those wires and
you get what we call four conductor wire
on your pickups that gives you all the
possibilities to to wire anything you
want so if you wanted to wire just the
front two coils from your pickup stick
together you could do that you could do
just the outside coils or the inside
coils I know some PR X’s do some crazy
thing with like outside coil inside coil
and then you know something else as a
different tone to it yeah so what’s your
join with series in parallel is your
connecting I guess I’ll sit down for
this you’re connecting the pickup like
so you got one pickup going into the
other pickup and then you know you have
your hand in your out but when you
connect them in parallel you’re actually
connecting them like two separate
pickups so it’s kind of like you have
two single coils right next to each
other and there’s something special
happening even with that where if you
have a Stratocaster and you know that
position two and four you have two
pickups that are not just reverse
polarity from each other but reverse
wines from each other and that’s how the
humbucker is made is that they have both
or the poles are sitting on either side
of a magnet and then these two windings
or wound opposite of each other and then
wired to kind of hold hands so you come
in one side through
one go to the other side and then out
the other side and that’s your standard
what we call series wiring and this is
what you usually hear once you kind of
split it this way things do start to
sound more like a single coil but
because you have two single coils next
to each other and because they have that
phase relationship it’s kind of like a
position to but because they’re so close
together it changes that kind of scoop
enos to it I don’t know how to describe
that position 2 & 4 if you if you play a
strat out there you know what we’re
talking about that that position 2 & 4
it’s like it’s like a miniature version
of that when you go to parallel so you
get definitely get some unique tones if
you like fuzz’s humbuckers tend to be
too loud or have too much output for a
fuzz so if you go to parallel you get
the single cloud tones but it’s also
face cancelled so you don’t get any of
the noise but you get all the nice feel
from the single coils so in that sense
it’s it’s very very handy and definitely
why I put it on my Les Paul right so I
could get those tons out of my two
humbuckers I don’t know how long it was
before I realized that humbuckers were
called humbuckers cuz they fucked the
hum yep I heard that something happening
it clicked and I was like oh my god yeah
I think that happens with everyone like
oh it’s a compound word word man I
always wanted what we were bucking if it
had been like hum cancelling it would
have been more obvious but bucking is
not a yeah I guess please cuz I mean it
was invented back in like what the
forties or 3 xored old Seth lover I
should know more but yeah so do you
normally play that tele is that your Oh
kind of yeah I mean I I kind of go back
and forth between my Telecaster and my
my Les Paul I have three guitars I have
a my warmoth strat
my wife Kelly that I just showed you and
then I have a Gibson Les Paul Studio
okay I probably play this one more just
because it’s my prettiest one that I’ve
built I kinda I mean I don’t know a Les
Paul is kind of a special thing I mean
for the I mean it kinda has a love/hate
relationship amongst everyone where you
know it’s uncomfortable as hell to sit
with but they sound great like they
sound really really good so it’s kind of
like a trade-off I guess and that’s kind
of why I wanted to mod the hell out of
it so I can at least have something fun
to do it that when I pick it up and I’m
trying to not let it fall off my lap or
kill my shoulders no at least I got
single coil tones here I don’t need to
take off this heavy guitar got it right
here right yeah they are Les Paul’s are
us a stack of wood that’s for sure yeah
mine is um mine I it’s the studio so
it’s called mahogany and I think I
weighed it once and it was nine point
four pounds but my 335 is nearly that
that much to you yeah it’s got that big
wooden block down through Italy yeah
whenever I put on a Strad I’m like oh
it’s so comfortable yeah my strat is
also chambered and this thing this tele
is a uh is a hollow body no it’s a thin
line so definitely saving myself on the
weight yeah both my both my fender
copies are a kind of neck heavy in that
sense now that chambered the thin light
it I mean I love the sound of semi
hollow bodies but why would why would
somebody want a thin line tele over a
solid tele he doesn’t really get a
thicker bone and is that one if you’re
playing at Le well I first let me just
say that I didn’t even know this one I
got it
the from I don’t have a picture of my my
first strap my first strat had an F hole
in it that’s cool it’s though Paul
Gilder used to have something like that
whether it’s exactly like so exactly so
what started playing guitar
I got that I’ve been in a starter kit
and you got that DVD with Paul Gilbert
showed you you know how to do stuff on
it shred and and chainsaw cut a guitar
in half he was playing like the guitar
you got but of course they include some
extra stuff on the DVD and so he’s
playing his guitar that’s got those F
holes on it and I think that looks like
badasses hell so warm off one of the
options they have on some of their
bodies is to just install an F hole and
my strat is chambered but it’s not
so like the F hole is just routed out
for the F like you stick your finger in
there doesn’t go anywhere it’s just a
little chamber so when they put that top
on it makes an F hole so that’s kind of
why I got that F on that one because I
thought well Paul Gilbert he’s kind of
you know one of the reasons I like to
guitar so much just early on so got to
pay tribute to him and so this thin line
I didn’t really think about as much the
fact that it’s a hollow body guitar I
kind of thought that well I’m just
saving myself own weight for the fact
that it’s cut out and it would probably
add some other kind of mid-range e stuff
but I didn’t think too much about the
tone of a thin line in making this I
probably should have but because now
this thing is mid punchy as hell you
know it’s got Karina and wenge and its
hollow like that’s just a recipe for mid
punch all the way I don’t need a clone I
just need this guitar right do you think
that with your strat having that F hole
that doesn’t actually go anywhere are
you actually losing on losing out on
some tone because you don’t have a solid
piece of wood vibrating so that well
that whole piece of wood is chambered
like they do Les Paul’s now so that’s
that’s an argument in itself whether if
you think chambering actually adds
resonance or takes it away because you
are taking away material and that’s that
idea that well if there’s no material to
vibrate in then it must be dead but then
the other thinking is that will you have
this cavity for the sound
to kind of bounce around in or this
extra kind of hole inside the wood to
kind of resonate so I mean my I like the
sound is my strat I mean it’s mahogany
so it definitely sounds different in
itself but to me
I think I wouldn’t say that cutting the
wood out makes it worse in terms of
sound it like to me it doesn’t take
anything away it’s just simply changing
how it works because if you think about
it like what’s an acoustic guitar it’s a
huge hollow you know that the sounds
meant to bounce around inside and and
resonate before it’s you know sent back
out and I think that’s kind of the same
idea behind the thin line that you just
let some of that sound resonate inside
and you get some of the different it’s
coming through the pickups yeah you
don’t have to I mean I’m I use a 335 so
I like I love semi-hollow guitars but I
don’t know a whole lot about the
chambering and that’s the semi-hollow
guitar I mean mines got I mean it’s got
the block through the center but it’s
got hollow wings I mean I can you know
okay I can’t remember what the model is
that’s totally hollow but there’s a
model like the epiphone casino is like
that no but I think there’s like a
Gibson like 330 some like there might be
a 330 or maybe that’s just a small
version but I know there is a Gibson
that is just like a 335 except it has no
center block mm-hmm
no yeah no Epiphone makes one but I
think Gibson made one before they bought
it was wrong The Beatles you that
episode ever phone Casino yeah just
sound like more acoustic sound than the
I think it was I grant Greene that had
the one I’m thinking of oh yeah he had
he played like a like a 335 but I think
you had p90s
and I also think it was completely
Hollow okay cuz that 335 thing was
actually them catering to the rock
players by putting that piece of wood in
so it wouldn’t feedback so much yeah so
wouldn’t feedback as much because it’s
also kind of like the concept behind I
can’t what Les Paul’s name for the block
or the ever seen his first guitar no you
got to look it up Les Paul it’s like one
of the first guitars he’s built and it’s
like three massive chunks of wood kind
of haphazardly thrown together and yeah
one of his like first kind of I guess
experimentations with guitars and stuff
and I think even yeah I think it’s like
a prototype even for the Les Paul like
where that shape kind of comes from hmm
but you look at it and it’s like three
hideous pieces of wood put together no I
think it’s called the log the log I’m
looking at further yeah type in Les Paul
of the log I think that’s what it’s
called I see something that doesn’t look
too terrible but it yeah that’s got to
be it I mean it kind of looks like a
halo yeah it definitely looks like it
works got no Venetian cutaway but it
looks a lot like most arch tops to me
three different pieces of wood for sure
yeah and it’s like got that piece going
through the middle uh-huh yeah it looks
literally like your mailbox yeah that’s
great I was actually up in New York City
last week and I was telling Erin about
this earlier I got to go to Rudy’s music
in Soho and they had had this room
upstairs with all archtop jazz guitars
and some were in a glass case they had
like they’re like $30,000 for some of
them they were beautiful Gibson’s and
Dan Joey some were laid by famous
players but I I got I got to play some
of the Gibson’s and Eastman’s on the
wall and there’s nothing like a hollow
body for four just I mean they’re just
toned monsters
such thick woody tones yeah it
definitely seems more woody when you
play a hollow body no you would think
that you’re taking away wood would not
be woody
yeah that’s not one of my clean when you
have I mean I since I got my 335i there
are songs I used to take you know turn
the overdrive on for solos and it’s like
man it just sounds so good clean that it
makes you want to not use effects we’re
having crappy guitar it’s not doesn’t
matter so much
turn on the distortion but uh yeah yeah
my students call distortion Oh electric
it doesn’t sound like electric I want it
to sound like electric yeah oh I guess
we have to have a little tone lesson now
right right it’s called this is
overdrive yep mm-hmm
yep absolutely this is delay yeah once
you start getting into effects and all
kind of I mean that just changes the
conversation for me when I started out
it was like soon as you start finding
out about effects and courses and all
glaze and curbs and it was just like oh
okay I want to dive fully into all of
this stuff and I went through years of
that but I think I did a little bit of
an overkill because after all of that I
kind of said okay well I don’t know who
else listening to whether it was you
know Paul Gilbert or one of these guys
and it was it was along the lines of
tone and this idea of getting rid of all
of your effects because it really
ultimately tone comes out of your
fingers and your guitar and your amp and
the more that you start incorporating
effects you start taking away from that
so I went with this minimalistic kind of
approach where I went down to only just
one or two pedals even if that because
that’s really and I try to get all my
you know I understand the want and the
need for the electric sound
I wonder some more electric right and I
get that I totally understand that
ultimately you’re just covering up you
know your your your tone and what what’s
really coming out of your fingers not
really what what players need to be
focusing on is you know all the mistakes
and all the flubs that you’re actually
making that way you can kind of craft
your tone that way when you do start
incorporating all of these cool effects
that you’re doing it properly yeah for
four years at Berkeley I didn’t ever
once think about my amp or even my
guitar actually it was kind of an
afterthought for everyone because I mean
everyone comes from like a different
financial background so having like a
fancy guitar not fancy guitar it’s kind
of like you know like yeah that’s just
chance or whatever right so no one was
really worried that much like oh he’s
got like a better guitar than me that’s
gonna make him better because if
anything it was like well if you got a
better guitar than me you better be
better that’s like well you spent that
you spent the time to accumulate the
money let’s see if you spent that time
to accumulate the skill right and so if
anything like you didn’t want to be seen
with a nice guitar I know I mean this
thing is weird enough in itself I know
it gets stopped all the time but I mean
like yeah you’d you’d feel terrible like
holding a PRS and like wanking next to a
guy who is has a squire and he’s going
through the knowlegde ient steps and
right making me making you look like a
noob or whatever you know it’s just you
don’t think about it at all because it’s
just like the instrument you have and so
yeah you’re just kind of like focused on
nothing else but the music and then
after I left Berkeley is what I’m like
oh a tube screamer hmm there’s a use for
that it’s not just yeah like before I
went to Berkeley like I mean won the
whole this whole pedal mania that we
have now or not mania but like heaven
you know there wasn’t like all these
people making it I was just school in
2008 or 7 and like I think Keely I had a
Keely wah then and I think I only knew
of like full tone and I had seen some
analog man stuff because my private
lesson teacher had I can’t remember what
but it had like one of those son things
on it so I knew that was familiar but
like none of this stuff was like really
you know the mainstream or whatever and
no like after I leave Berkeley it’s just
like this explosion of like now everyone
makes it to memory there’s like more
tube screamers and there are freaking
strat copies like this it’s crazy yeah
and which would have been kind of cool
had we been there but everyone was just
kind of more focused on like you know
just am i playing the right notes right
sorry everyone was also just plugged
into a hot rod deluxe and this was just
another problem about Berkeley in itself
is that they in every room they had hot
rod Deluxe’s same equipment on there you
go yes
so for like that class of just six
guitarists in that room that’s just
barely big enough to fit six Qataris
that room is lined with hot rod Deluxe’s
and that’s what everyone has to plug
into so everyone is just constantly like
trying to find that lowest spot on the
volume or it just turns on right because
even that was like too loud for a
classroom setting so like if anything
the tone that we were worried about was
just simply not being too loud we didn’t
want to be that guitarist that was like
even if you’re good you don’t want to be
like the ice pick in the room right you
know so that was that was our tonal
quest was just simply how low on this
volume knob can I go and I can stand it
still sounds somewhat good inaudible
right right yeah I mean that was our
that was our tone quest at Berkeley
what’s like what’s that game you do it
like tropical resorts when you go into
the bar the it’s a walk under it you
lean down like a limbo limbo it’s the
job limbo yes tonal limbo it was crazy
like and then some some rooms would
randomly have like line six flex tone
some random some random line six that
was like they’re already just
crazy enough to operate mm-hmm like you
turn the thing on you have no idea what
amp model it’s going and it’s running it
like full bore and like you’re that guy
that turned on the line six so you just
immediately turn it off and like okay
I’ll take the hot rod deluxe er cost
sometimes they were even to Zales now
that I remember it like ah yeah it was
like it was like come on Finn they’re
like they had at some partnership where
they would supply all the answers oh
right but it was just like why would you
not get the blues junior right yeah like
I just I don’t understand
like so many hotrod Deluxe’s everywhere
is absurd playing it nobody needs that
just maybe for the stages and even then
all the stages they have a really tiny
four recital is like blues junior would
probably be fine
but goodness like a hot rock Deville in
like a room that’s like I don’t know 15
by 15 Nick would though I do think it’s
great that in school you really do need
to focus on your note selection and
choice and I was talking to Aaron
earlier again about this New York City
trip and I was reminiscing about back in
length I think is 2016 I I played a show
in the Lower East Side
with one of my old bands and afterwards
we just were walking around the village
and we saw a chalkboard outside on the
sidewalk saying that Mike Stern was
playing and for all the other the don’t
know Mike Stern II is an incredible jazz
guitarist jazz fusion guitarist he
Miles Davis in the 80s I mean he’s done
a lot of cool stuff yeah and we saw him
play and he was using a little bit of
overdrive and some delay and he’s
actually actually using a telecast or
this yamazaki again one of those
Telecaster people yeah and you know in
school it’s all clean we’d been studying
a lot of bebop and a lot of you know you
get into maybe some Pat Metheny kind of
stuff but nothing with real like any
I’ve hardly and remember getting to talk
to him that night and he was like oh
yeah man you got a you know use use your
overdrive use everything you’ve got make
it sound cool and yeah I really took it
to heart and when I left school I’ve I
used light I’ll use light tube screamer
on my like in some jazz tunes especially
more fusion any kind of things and it
really does use sparingly it sounds
really good and I actually got to see
Mike again last week at the Iridium in
New York City and he was playing with
the amazing trumpeter Randy Brecker and
bass player Tom Kennedy but he does he
he really it’s inspiring to see someone
playing jazz with you know effects
effects but in a very it’s it’s a it’s a
tasteful way to do it I think you do
have to go clean for a period to to be
able to bring that back tastefully bring
I mean rec to tastefully at Berkeley I
mean I didn’t even practice with an amp
I had that little micro cube but I mean
you got roommates or whatever and just
shots the thing was probably put away
somewhere just to be convenient that
yeah I think for four years I didn’t
really practice with an amp at all
oh oh wait who was your roommate Myles
and that is where we’re gonna end it for
this week you’ll find out the answer
next week when you tune into episode 31
with Myles Harshman talking all about
mods on the guitar amps and more I hope
you enjoyed the episode if you liked the
show be sure to subscribe we’ve got a
lot of cool things coming up in the
future as being 2019 I’m gonna try to
get a couple of new things done for fret
buzz the podcast
so stay tuned we’ll see you next
Thursday for episode 32 part 2 with
Miles Harshman all about guitar mods
amps and more all of it here on fret
buzz the podcast

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