Archive for the Guitars Category

NAMM 2018

Posted in Guitars, modular synthesizers, Noise Engineering on February 5, 2018 by pyraphonic

2018 marks my 7th NAMM in as many years. I first started going in 2012 to get the scoop on modular synthesizer news and post pics before everybody else had a chance, but in the intervening years, modulars have moved up from the back corner of the subterannean Hall E to the front row of Hall A. Now roaming crews with video cameras are there as early as Wednesday before NAMM even starts getting vids of all the cool new modular synth stuff!

So this year, in my post modular-synth-blogging-retirement, I was invited to help out at the Noise Engineering booth.

Here’s the Noise Engineering booth crew for day one (Kris of NE, myself, Stephen of NE, and Patrick OBrien):

We were showing off the new Noise Engineering modules:

 Bin Seq, a 4HP switchable gate sequencer (you can make the gate on, off or on for the full length of the beat, so you can chain steps into one long gate if desired – simple, but powerful).

Muta Jovis, a 4HP quad mute.

Soleo Vero, a strobo-tuner that you can have up to3 oscillators always plugged into (each input has a pass-through output).

Clep Diaz, a sort of clockable LFO with smooth, stepped, and random modes

And Mimetic Digitalis, a 10HP 16-step 4 output sequencer with tons of features geared towards live use. (I can’t wait for this one!)

Here’s a pic of the new ones that should be available in the Spring:

 There were lots of familiar faces and new people as well in the modular booths. It’s really cool to see how happening it all is now. Even J.J. Abrams came by and was checking out all the new stuff! It was a busy first day.

QuBit had a cool rig under plexi that had a frame with interactive controls. A good way to keep out the NAMM-thrax!

Some jammin at the WMD booth:

Deckard’s Dream from Black Corporation looks and sounds like a lot of fun:

People were also excited about the Magneto tape delay emulator module from Strymon. I didn’t get over to check it out, but it sounds like it’s a winner.

I didn’t get very many photos this year as I was working at the booth, and the modular world is so well covered, I figured I didn’t need to get pics anyway! But when I went off to grab lunch, I wandered over to see some interesting guitars. 

I ended up at the Luthiers Beyond Limits booths and happened to meet Henry Kaiser, who was super cool and gave me a copy of his most recent CD.

And that’s about it for me from NAMM this year. Thank you for stopping by! See you in 2019!

Clark S. Nova – Patch Things Up

Posted in Clark S. Nova, Guitars, modular synthesizers, music, synthesizers with tags , on November 17, 2013 by pyraphonic

A new track featuring modular synthesizer, Waldorf Q, Electric Guitar and voice.





The electric guitar is the infamous Flying V found in the shrubs from this post:

Guitars and Beyond

Posted in Guitars with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by pyraphonic

I have really been into playing guitar lately. My 3-year-old son has become a Beatles freak and the non-stop rotation of Hard Days Night and Help! has rekindled my love of guitars. I have always been mainly a guitarist, but for the last couple years I have been out in the oort cloud playing with modular synthesizers, so it has been fun reapproaching guitar. Here are some pics of my current arsenal, most of which I have had for many years.

1966 Fender Mustang
Non-original orange color, replacement pick-ups. modded with additional Les Paul style switch, non-original knobs.
This one is currently in sort of a Glenn Branca inspired tuning using only 2 gauges of string, each set of 3 strings are tuned to the same note. I originally had the sets in an octave apart, but my love of the major 7th chord made me tune the higher set a half step down from the octave.

Ovation Breadwinner Limited
More info than you ever wanted about this guitar can be found in this post.

Joshua Soundport
I bought this at the Rose Bowl swap meet when we first moved to L.A. I added the pick-up.

Norma bass
My dad got this bass as payment for helping a friend move many years ago. I wish I had left it the original sunburst, but it does sound better au naturel. I love this bass. It has a 60s Beatles bass sound.

Roland G-707 guitar
I put Buchla style knobs on this one. Apologies to Don. I have the GR-700 guitar synth brain as well. I love this set. The guitar plays really well on its own and the synth is really fun. The tracking is touch and go, but you can work with it, especially for ambient stuff. Though it requires a re-thinking of one’s guitar approach to have it be useful, in my experience.

Roland G-707 #2
I will likely sell this one soon. I’m not using them live currently, so the redundancy is unnecessary. But I could easily talk myself into saving it for my kid. UPDATE 5/27/2013: Sold!

Dolphinforce custom
A customized Japanese guitar with a flat white paint job with black grid and orange outline. Customized for use in Dolphinforce. Has nice Fender tuning pegs.

Bridgecraft Flying V
My son and I discovered this in our shrubs one morning. No joke, a V in the shrubs. It was super dirty, as well as missing the tailpiece, bridge and nut. I got a used bridge for $10, had a tailpiece and got the nut free. It plays way better than it should. I’m not really a V guy, but when you find one in your shrubs, you might as well roll with it.

Japanese violin shaped 6 string
This one is currently getting a make over, hence the lack of components. I had 2 of these at one point. The other had all original hardware. I traded it (and some cash) for a sitar which I got a lot of use out of and it significantly influenced my guitar playing.

Hakkenstein Japanese M.I.Y. (mangle it yourself) travesty
I had performed unspeakable mods on this poor thing in my youth.
I had it painted in day-glo colors at one point. The back still shows this:

Casio DG-20
Guitar or not? I have used this thing to great effect on several recordings.

Synsonics Jr.Pro
Not really mine – I picked this up in a thrift store in Portland for my kid. I may have to convert it to lefty.

Guitar Hero Controller Mod
Not a guitar of course. Also for my son. A write up of this thing can be seen here.

DIY modular ribbon controller
By no means a guitar, but the ergonomics are certainly inspired by guitars as well as the controller in this post.

Close ups:






If I were to add any to my collection it would be either an older Silverburst Gibson Les Paul or a Rickenbacker 360 12-string (the classic Harrison one).

Ovation Breadwinner Limited

Posted in DIY, Guitars with tags , , on April 7, 2013 by pyraphonic


In the early ’90s I attended a guitar show in Ohio with a friend. I brought along a bag of odds & ends worth about $200 with long-shot hopes of trading for something better. Eventually I came across an Ovation Breadwinner Limited. The guy running the stand saw me looking at it and asked in disbelief, “you actually like that thing?” I showed him what I had to trade. The guy says, “yeah, I’ll trade you for all this”. He even threw in a gig bag. My friend’s eyes about popped out of his head when I strolled up and showed him what I had.

The pickguard was always a bit of a mess as someone had swapped the lead pick-up with a larger one and then put the original back in. They had hacked up the guard to get the replacement in. Years later, while using it for a project called A.M. Gold, I cracked it even more by accidentally putting stress on the jack.



Recently I dusted it off and decided it was worthy of a make over. I found a guy on eBay that had Ovation new-old stock pick-guards for this model. I picked one up and re-wired it all from scratch with new components. I had never really cared for the active electronics in this guitar and it always seemed a lot quieter than my other guitars, so I gutted the active circuitry, wired the pick-ups as passive and it became a much better guitar in my opinion. After working on synthesizer circuits so much lately the guitar wiring seemed pretty trivial, which was nice. My favorite tone on this guitar is using both pick-ups but out of phase. I swapped out the knobs but still have the originals.

I’m quite happy with how it turned out. It is a really pleasant guitar to play.