Tag Archives: Baroni Lab

Gigging With Vintage Tube Amps

GigBeing a guitar player, I take every opportunity I can when it comes to getting out there and playing with friends, whether its in a hotel, a stage or in the corner of a pub. The experience of gigging is something which I feel is invaluable to the growing musician, and something which can greatly help you to hone your skills, improve your listening, and become a better, well-rounded player on the whole.

This experience often comes at a cost though, often there is little money involved, and aonly a few drinks on the house for your troubles. This means that it is sometimes quite tempting to bring as little equipment with you as will suffice in order to get a sound from the guitar. Some may decide to bring only their ten watt practice amp and mic that up, some may go even further and show up toting only a guitar, a strap and an extra high e string, and plug directly into a mixer. This issue gives birth to something of a dilemma: in order to gain all of that vital experience playing in a band situation outside of the home, is it necessary to care about the sound of the guitar and bring decent equipment, or is it ok to make do with the easy option and bring the bare minimum. Do you have to sound good to make the experience worthwhile, or is it enough to just be playing with others, regardless of tone?

The advantage of digital effects processors is that they are usually compact, stuffed with effects and amp sims and – perhaps most importantly – are very mixer friendly. This is why the majority of player will show up for a gig with a guitar and a multi-effect processor from either Boss or Line 6. The best part of the crowd in local bars and restaurants will likely be unable to tell the difference no matter what, and as long as you are in tune, relatively in time and there is always at least one person singing, its all good.

I, however, believe that the tone is always important when playing with other musicians. If you are to really enjoy the night, and therefore play your best and really get into the groove with your bandmates, you must like how you sound onstage. A good sound makes a happy band, a happy band makes good music, and good music makes a good night for everyone involved, both audience and band. This is why wherever I play I bring a tube amp with me. While some may consider it to be an extra thing, heavier than effects pedals and guitar combined and hard work to transport without a car or a taxi and not worth the effort, I believe that the benefits make it totally worthwhile.

A mic'd amplifier sounds better!
A mic’d amplifier sounds better!
For shows in bigger places, your tube combo amp acts as your own personal monitor: no more calling through the mic for the sound guy to give you a little more on the left monitor and less on the right! Not to mention that the sweet, warm tone from a tube amp sounds amazing when mic’d up and sent through a good PA system. As far as gigs in those smaller places are concerned, it is even better. You don’t need any kind of sound reinforcement at all, and are completely self-sufficient. All control is yours, and it allows you to tweak your sound with ease in order to dial in that sweet spot for each song you play.

Given the choice between digital effects into a mixer and a real boutique tube amp having your back on stage like your best friend, I know what I’d take any day of the week.

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How Many Overdrive Pedals Do I Need?

Overdrive Pedals
Overdrive is one of the most used effects in musical performance, andevery guitarist has at least two overdrive effects pedals in their rig. They are completely necessary for achieving many popular tones, including rock, metal and dirtier blues. As there are so many different kinds of overdrive pedal around to choose from, and no two stomp boxes have the same sound, the above question is a popular one in the internet musician community. Here’s my take on it.

TUBE HARD COLORWhile some players are famous for using the Ibanez Tubescreamer, and others the TubeDriver, it is impractical – and rather expensive – to buy one of each to put into your rig. Even if you had the money to spend and the space to put the pedals, you’d have to remember that the more pedals you have in a line, the more the sound quality of the guitar is effected. For eample, running your guitar signal through a lot of unnecessary effects pedals which have true bypass will result in the high end of your guitar suffering when it finally reaches the amplifier.

So, we don’t want specific pedals for specific songs in our rig. Instead of choosing pedals based on artists who use them, you just need to find the one that is right for your style, and get to know the best way to use it to achieve the tones which you want. Then, once you have found your dream overdrive and are completely happy with it, get the next best one as well. Two overdrives is the best number to have, any more would just be getting crazy. With two carefully chosen pedals, you can have most of the tones you need covered, and also when one is working, turn down the drive on the other and use it as a boost pedal for the solos!

What Makes a Musician

Pro Bands Get The Big GigsPeople learn to play the guitar for a variety of different reasons. Filling in free time, impressing girls, a deep-felt love of anything music and ‘everyone in my family plays’ are all common reasons, but regardless of what makes us start, most of us end up at the same place: crazy about great guitar sounds and creating the riffs that might one day launch us into stardom.

So, why is the guitar such an appealing instrument to learn? It’s the attitude mainly. Look at the great guitar players – Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen and Slash to name a few of the most popular – while they all play very different styles of music, the thing that they all have in common is their energy and presence when they perform on the stage. This ‘coolness’ is what many guitarists aspire to reach; to get to the point where they too can stand on stage in front of thousands of people and play an incredible guitar solo which touches others deep in the heart, inspiring yet another generation to pick up the guitar.

The guitar is also a naturally leading instrument. Its tonal range means that, along with vocals, it jumps out from the mix during live performance situations and it is an indispensable part of the line-up for most bands today. And here comes the point. A guitarist LP Close Upwho has learned every one of their favourite player’s riffs and solos note for note will want to get up there and share their love with the rest of the band and everyone watching. They have the love, they have the passion, they have the necessary techniques to pull it off and they have the perfect vehicle to use to deliver it all up. But the riffs and style that ignited the passion in the guitarist might not necessarily have the same inspiring effect on those listening. Playing for you and playing with a band are two very different things. To play well in a band it is not enough to be a great guitarist. You have to be a great musician too.

The musician understands that tasteful note choice, listening to the band as a whole and ‘playing the silences’ are integral to the bands success as a whole. The notes that you don’t play are just as important as the ones you do and playing simply but keeping a tight groove with the band can create a much more pleasant experience for both band and audience. The good musician compliments the rest of the band, instead of trying to draw all of the attention. The good musician is always conscious of locking into the rhythm with the bass and drums. The good musician contributes tastefully to the whole sound of the group.

This is what makes the difference between a tight, professional band and a garage band: groups made up of guitarists, bassists, drummers and vocalists can never be successful in the long run, but a group made up of musicians just might find themselves topping the charts and landing the big gigs.

Thanks for reading.  If you’re interested in checking out some of our amps and effects (perfect for musicians and guitarists alike) feel free to check us out here.

The Endless River: Pink Floyd’s 15th Studio Album

Pink Floyd is one of those bands that does everything on a grand scale, from epic 15 minute tracks to out of this world light shows.  There is never an album which could be considered a ‘filler’, and with the release of each one, the band always brings something truly inspirational to the world of progressive music.

DGAfter Roger Waters’ official departure from the band in 1985, the band took a turn towards the more traditional style of earlier albums such as Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side Of The Moon, and under the leadership of guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, produced a further two studio albums (A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell).

Since the release of The Division Bell, however, the band has been quiet.  Aside from the occasional reunion for certain one off special events – Live 8 and Waters’ O2 Arena show being the most notable – Pink Floyd as we knew and loved it had ceased to be.  Gilmour himself has on a number of occasions voiced his thoughts that he would prefer to work on his own original solo material at this stage.

Fans have been left with fond memories of great albums, and those who were lucky enough to have caught tours such as Pulse have memories to last a lifetime.  14 albums isn’t a bad run at all for a band 30 years in the game, and certain tracks enjoy a lifetime of listening and have gone down in history as stellar examples of exquisite guitar work and masterful lyric-writing.

It therefore came as a great shock to many people the world over when  David Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson, announced over Twitter that Pink Floyd’s 15th album is scheduled for a release in October of this year!

RWThe news spread like wildfire and was just the spark needed to reignite the flame in the hearts of the fans.  Titled The Endless River, the album is said to be a ‘Swan Song’ for keyboardist Richard Wright, who passed away in 2008.  It is all previously unreleased material, largely ambient instrumental offerings, and includes tracks recorded with Wright on keys.

While some may say that Pink Floyd is nothing without the full original line-up – the Gilmour/Waters combination was truly a musical force to be reckoned with – we here at Baroni Lab await this third Gilmour-era Pink Floyd installment with baited breath.

http://www.baroni-lab.com

Recreating Famous Guitar Tones: Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing

There are a lot of discussions about ‘great guitar tones’ on the internet.  Blogs, forums and  comment threads on various video streaming websites are a battleground of opinions, speculations and – quite often – heated debate.

Comments often show a clear divide between those who believe that tone is all in the fingers and the way a specific player approaches the guitar, and those who worship at the altar of guitar gear.  Proponents of the former will undoubtedly iterate that there is no way for any guitarist to truly mimic the sounds of their beloved inspirations, insisting that the best way for any player to sound good is to forget about the rigs and setups of others, and really listen to his/her own sound in order to develop a personal tone.  Supporters of the latter will counter with the idea that, with the right setup for the situation, no tone is out of reach.  They will strive to find the exact gear and settings to allow them to sound like their heroes.

Without inspiration, the world of professional performance can be daunting
Without inspiration, the world of professional performance can be daunting

I am going to sit on the fence on this one, as both sides have their own valid points.  While I agree that, in order to be a really successful player, one should try to craft a hard-hitting, instantly recognizable personal tone, I also believe that taking inspiration from the greats is an important first step.

You only have to look back to that wonderful moment which is forever ingrained in the mind of every guitarist:  the time that you heard a lick, solo, riff or even a single note, which to you sounded so breath-takingly beautiful that you decided there and then to grab an axe and start strumming away.  Everyone has a clear memory of the moment they began their musical journey.  I would bet that for the majority of us, that moment occurred while listening to a piece of music written by another person: a tone crafted and refined by someone other than yourself.

This is why the soundtrack for every guitar shop the world over consists of ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Enter Sandman’.  How often to you hear a player trying out a guitar, amp or effect by playing a piece of original music in such a place?  For me personally, the answer is never.  Maybe I shop in less creative areas.

Luckily, there are many great influential players to inspire us
Luckily, there are many great influential players to inspire us

The point is that we all need heroes, we all need inspiration.  It sets a fire inside of us, pushing us to learn more and play better.  Whenever we may feel that something is too hard, it encourages us to keep on trying until we persevere, and when we get there in the end, it provides a reference to show how far we have come and how much our efforts have paid off.  With this established, it is much easier for personal creativity to flourish, as we have developed the listening, skills and techniques necessary to allow us to better express our inner thoughts and feelings through the guitar.  You cannot write a poem without first learning the alphabet.

It is in this spirit that we at Baroni Lab have introduced a new series of videos about great guitar tones, where we set up the sounds of those legendary rock riffs and solos, with our own equipment.  Our aim is to get as close to the original sound as possible, to show the quality of the products we produce, and to show that it is possible, and worthwhile, to study the sounds of great players.

The second video has just been uploaded to youtube, and you can check it out below.  In it, I tackle that fantastic, catchy main guitar riff from Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’.  This one was truly great fun to record.  Mark Knopfler, we salute you!

Pickups, Amps and Effects: Crafting the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Tone

Being a company which produces vintage boutique amplifiers and effects, we at Baroni Lab are always searching for different tones, as well as experimenting with different combinations of equipment in order to constantly increase the quality of our products.

This, however, is no easy task to accomplish. The world of tone and guitar performance is a veritable labyrinth, with myriad twists and turns involved in achieving the ultimate goal of a sought-after sound. There is an intimidating amount of variables to consider.

Choosing the right pickup for a sound is very important
Choosing the right pickup for a sound is very important

For example, say I want to create the classic sound of Cream-era Eric Clapton. For the famous ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ guitar riff, Clapton used his famous ‘Fool’ guitar – a 1960s Gibson SG which later came to be a symbol of the era – going through a wah pedal and into a Marshall amp. Variables with the guitar include the wood condition and paint-job, the pickups and selector switch, the tone control and the volume. The angle of the wah as it filters the sound is another important variable. Then you have the amplifier and speakers: model? Year? Bass level? Middle level? Treble level? Gain? Volume? Presence? Reverb? Size? Speaker cones?

Obviously, it is challenging to reproduce certain tones, the ‘Woman Tone’ being a great example. This is why a lot of players wishing to cover ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ get lazy, and will buy a digital effects system and model the sounds electronically, using samples of famous distortions and speaker cabs or, even worse, just stick any old overdrive pedal in the line and crank up the volume on the guitar. These methods will never even get you close to the desired tone. It is a process which takes time, thought and, above all, careful listening. Real Italian-designed vintage tube amps also help a great deal 🙂

One thing which I have become increasingly more aware of is the importance of the pickups used. They come in many different shapes and sizes; single coil or humbucker, covered or bare, active or passive, and they all have their own unique ways of processing the string vibrations into electrical signals.

The Moon Sound is a great effect for lead guitar and stronger rhythm
The Moon Sound is a great effect for lead guitar and stronger rhythm

The latest product video I made (YouTube link below) was for the Baroni Lab ‘Moon Sound’ distortion stompbox. Its a great little effect, designed to recreate Dave Gilmour’s lead tone on the famous Dark Side of the Moon album, and it does a great job. While producing this video, however, I was confronted with the issue of pickup selection. Gilmour used the bridge pickup on a strat for the much of his solo work, and so it seemed the perfect place to start. The Moon Sound was set up to give the perfect tone for the solo from ‘Money’ with this pickup, and the result was amazing. It sounds just like the original in every way, and I posted the exact settings to achieve the tone on the video.

The pickups on my strat are passive, but our guest player for the video played with active pickups. The higher response from the active pickups meant that, in order to achieve the same Gilmour tone, The ‘Moon Sound’ had to be set up differently to accommodate the different pickup types.

This shows exactly how much care and attention is required to produce a great tone – or to recreate a classic one – and can be a lesson for many aspiring rock stars. Equipment selection and setup is vital to a good sound, and is as important to study as learning to play the guitar itself. We take pride in delivering top of the range boutique amplifiers and effects, and every one of them is created with amazing quality of sound as the main goal. Sometimes it can be hard, sometimes nearly impossible, but it is always rewarding, and there is nothing quite like that moment when you strike a chord and hear exactly the tone that you have been trying for days to transfer from inside of your head to the amplifier.

The ‘Moon Sound’ did a great job at crafting the Gilmour sound with two completely different kinds of pickup, and so it truly passes the test for being a wonderful and versatile effect. Check it out at http://www.baroni-lab.com.

Rock on!

Introducing: The Baroni Lab 40w Amp (Among Other Things)

It has been a busy few months for us here at Baroni Lab, both in and out of the offices.  We are proud to introduce a new amplifier to our range: the Baroni Lab 40w head.  This is a great amplifier for medium to large venues, with plenty of headroom and the capacity to reach a high level of volume while maintaining a crisp clean sound.  Crank up the gain to hear its mean side. Expect a YouTube demo coming up real soon on our YouTube channel.

TV Audience
TV Audience

Outside of the office, our Baroni Lab demo band have been kept very busy, playing a number of shows to spread the word of our boutique stuff in university shows, as well as a spot on TV, where we played a great set in front of a live studio audience and millions of viewers.  The 100w stereo power amp and the 20w combo looked cool on TV, and it was a great experience for the band too.

TV Studio Stage
TV Studio Stage

We have also been getting a lot of upcoming artists in to record some original tracks in the studio, which has been great fun.  Among them was Riven, a powerful rock band with a light, spaciously airy guitar sound set against low rumbling distortion, with a strong rhythm section and soaring vocals.  We are pleased to collaborate with and support the music scene around us, and help to get some of these great musicians into the spotlight!  We still have more recordings to go, but a CD’s worth of original music, recorded with Baroni amplifiers and effects is the goal.  Expect some updates and studio footage on our website soon!

http://www.baroni-lab.com