The envelope filter is a crucial element for Bringing The Funk (a task so important it must always be capitalised). Loosely defined as “kinda like a wah wah but not quite, and also it’s automatic,” a typical envelope filter might consist of two controls: one to select the range of the effect and one to set the point at which your picking will trigger it. Aguilar knows bass players, and they know bass effects – just witness the incredible Octamizer octave divider some time to see what I mean – so when they turn their attention to the envelope filter with special emphasis on bass players, you’d better listen.
Structurally, the Filter Twin shares a few traits in common with the Octamizer (as well as the Agro Bass Overdrive and the TLC Compressor). All four pedals are housed in a heavy, solid rectangular case with a handy slide-out battery door accessible via the bottom, four rubberised knobs at the top, a bright blue status LED (which can light up a dark room) and a heartily stompable footswitch. The input, output and 9 volt adaptor jacks are at the top of each unit, making them very pedalboard-friendly. The Filter Twin’s finish is surf green with a solid black outline, giving it an almost ’1950s appliance’ kind of vibe. I love stuff like that.
As hinted by its name, the Filter Twin actually includes two envelope filters. One cycles up and the other cycles down, triggered by the dynamics of your playing. Semiotics buffs will nod knowingly at the layout and labelling of the controls. These controls are Blend (flanked by an up arrow on the left of the knob and a down arrow on the right), Threshold, Velocity Down (actually just labelled Velocity, followed by a down arrow) and Velocity Up (ditto). The knobs feel ‘set-and-forget,’ meaning you need to expend a decent amount of finger energy to get them to turn. I really like this because it means you can be confident that your settings will remain in place even if a crowd surfer crashes onto your pedalboard. That’s very important with a pedal like this where the circuitry is dependent on the output of the signal sent to it by your instrument. Once you nail the sweet spot on the Threshold control, it’s best that you stick to it.
The Filter Twin’s sounds have a real depth and life to them – a rubbery slinkiness which works perfectly with slap and pop techniques and is also good for other picking options. Use the Threshold control to dial in the point at which the effect engages, then twiddle the Velocity pots to select how quickly each filter moves. Blend varies the ratio between each, from 100% of one and zero of the other to a nice 50:50 balance and any point in between. I’m a sucker for really bassy, backwards envelope filter sounds, and unfortunately my main envelope filter – a DOD FX25 – doesn’t have this feature (though it is included in a multi effects unit I use sometimes), so I relished the opportunity to set up a nice 75:25 blend of down and up filters with long down velocity and quick up velocity for a big, syrupy, bassy sound with just the right amount of top end too. The ability to tweak the length of the effect means you can get some pretty interesting sounds as the two filters move against each other, from a snappy quack to a slow, sonorous roar.
By the way, the Filter Twin also sounds great through distortion and on guitar. I ran my bass into the Filter Twin then a fuzz unit and was blown away by the wah-like harmonic richness of the down filter, while it tracked great when I introduced it to my 7-string Ibanez Universe.
The Filter Twin is a killer addition to the arsenal of any funk player but it also sounds great for a variety of other styles, from rock to dance (and could also be a very ear-catching effect for metal bass players in a similar way to how Cliff Burton used wah wah in For Whom The Bell Tolls). It’s also extremely roadworthy and feels like it will give you decades of unwavering service.
This is an alternate version of a review I originally wrote for Mixdown magazine.
As you know (you’re reading this blog, after all), I’m a guitar geek. As you may or may not know, I’m also a bit of an Apple geek. Well I’ve finally found the perfect way to combine my two loves (apart from cranking AmpliTube and AmpKit on my iPad): this weekend I used my Pickmaster Plectrum Cutter to convert a couple of iTunes gift cards into a set of Apple-inspired iTunes-themed guitar picks. Now I can rock out and remind myself to pick up a couple more iTunes gift cards for emergencies at the same time.
Check ot my review of the Pickmaster here.
I was never really into horror movies as a kid. Just didn’t interest me. It wasn’t that I was a little pussy – okay, maybe a little – but I preferred to get my scares from music. I went to a Catholic school and Black Sabbath seemed like the ultimate rebellion to me. I used to hold my breath every time I heard Ozzy sing “Satan sitting there, he’s smiling” because I was sure that the horned one was going to spring forth from the floor and feast upon my innards. It probably will some day, and if not to “Black Sabbath” then probably to one of these:
Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer
There are many evil Sabbath albums (cf: the line “For I believe Satan lives in the souls of the dying” from Headless Cross – I think my heebies just got jeebied), but notwithstanding the unmitigated evil of the Ozzy and Tony Martin albums, the demonic power of Tony Iommi was never spookier than on this 1992 release, in alliance with the late great Ronnie James Dio. The production is swimming in natural reverb, making it sound like you’ve stumbled across the band playing in a crypt or something, and you can almost hear Dio throwing the devil horn hand gesture as he sings. I’m sure you can hear his wrist jewelry jangling if you have a good enough hi fi. Try to get through the opening riff of “After All (The Dead)” without getting the creeps. You can’t do it.
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Thirty minutes and 20-something seconds of thrash carnage. Topics include death, dying, mortality, killing, and being killed. Aside from a whole bunch of songs with running times less than two and a half minutes, there’s also “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death,” each at almost five minutes, for those who like their evil to be bigger than snack size. The track “Altar Of Sacrifice” includes another of those lyrics I used to hold my breath for as I awaited the firey arrival of the dark lord: “Learn the sacred words of praise, hail Satan!” AARGH!
Paul Gilbert – Burning Organ
This album as a whole isn’t evil, but it includes the track ‘I Am Satan’ which begins with the count-off “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6!!!” and goes on to tell the tale of Satan falling in love with a chick, but freaking out about what she’ll do when she finds out who he is. Will she stay or will she go? Burning Organ also includes the track “Suicide Lover,” which features the classic line “She’s a suicide lover. You could say her love’s the bomb.”
Megadeth – United Abominations
Any album loaded with as many puns as this one has got to be evil. Puns are the most evil form of humour there is. This one also gets bonus spooky points for lines like “The Angel of Death is pissed off with me again, just because I got to put you out of my misery.” I like to imagine the Angel of Death as Mustaine’s passive-aggressive flatmate, leaving notes magnetted to the fridge: “Dear housemates. Someone has been putting people out of their misery who clearly have my name written on them. First my a2 milk and now this. I’m sure we would all like to maintain a harmonious household and things would run a lot smoother if we all respected each others’ property. I’d hate to have to consider one of those fridges with separate lockable sections for our individual milks and people to put out of their misery. If it comes to that I will buy it with my own money and then invoice you all for your equal share. Sincerely, Angel of Death.”
Devin Townsend – Ziltoid The Omniscient
What could be more evil than a demented alien who shreds like a demon and attacks the Earth because he needs a caffeine hit? Nothing, that’s what. Dude, I know from personal experience the awesome destructive power of a caffeine-deprived shredder because I’ve lived it. Devin recorded and performed all of this monster album single-handedly, and it features some of his best melodic songwriting since Ocean Machine, as well as lots of brutal Strapping Young Lad-style metal.
The previously advised Metal Health 2011 tour of Australia and New Zealand which was to feature LA Guns (the Phil Lewis version), Warrant and Quiet Riot is now renamed the Sex Action tour featuring LA Guns (still the Phil Lewis version), Defryme (on the Aussie leg) and some other yet-to-be-announced band(s). For a while there The Stick People, the new band of ex Queensryche guitarist Mike Stone, was booked to appear but they’ve just pulled out. Everyone who bought a ticket is entitled to one free ticket in addition to the one they bought, so bring yer friends and rock out and junk. I’ll be at the Melbourne show so if you see me come up and say hi!
Most guitar companies take a degree of inspiration from one of the big ones – y’know, the ones that were right there around the beginning of solidbody electric guitar design. This helps the newer companies find somewhere to start from, and provides players with an easy point of reference from which to base their search for their Next Great Guitar. Godin has refined its designs to the point that even if you can tell from a glance that a particular instrument has started with the inspiration of one classic axe or another, there’s something unmistakably Godin about it. Case in point: the Session. From photos it may look rather Stratocaster-inspired, but as soon as you pick it up, you can tell that it’s got its own thang going on.
The Session features a heavy Canadian Laurentian basswood body in a series of solid and transparent finishes (see them here), including ‘Raw SG,’ the finish of the review model. Some of the finishes are satin gloss, and others are high gloss, and you have your choice of maple or rosewood fretboard for any model. If only more guitar companies would offer this option as standard. Basswood, a very even-toned timber, isn’t typically chosen for transparent finishes since it tends to be rather plain visually, but the particular strain used here has just enough of a grain to be visually interesting.
Recently departed Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has spoken out about his decision to leave the band. Here’s his statement:
“It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer.
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am OK.
“There has been an ongoing breakdown in working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band’s management for some time. Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans. However, I would urge you to please support the Priest as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.
“All my love and respect.”
Downing’s replacement is Richie Faulkner.
Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis and drummer Van Williams have quit the band. Here’s their statement:
“In a mutual decision Jeff Loomis and Van Williams have decided to leave Nevermore. The time has come to pursue our own paths from the group. Due to internal struggles and ongoing issues within the band, we feel it is our time to move on. We would like to thank all of our fans around the world for their years of love, support and enthusiasm. This was not an easy decision but a very necessary one at this point, may we all meet again someday, somewhere in time.”
Argh! It’s all happening! Head to this location and follow the steps to get a peek at the Dream Theater drummer auditions! The band has posted a documentary snippet on their site. The seven finalists are all featured in the video and they are Mike Mangini, Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Derek Roddy, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer and Aquiles Priester.
In a pairing that unites one of the most well-respected metal guitarists of all time with the hottest rock and roll band for years, BCC / MSG tour dates include – Llandudno Cymru Arena (July 23rd), Leeds o2 Academy (July 26th), Newcastle o2 Academy (July 27th), Glasgow o2 Academy (July 29th) and Manchester Academy (July 30th). National ticket hotline: 0871 230 1101 / Book online:www.seetickets.com.
Featuring the talents of Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian, Black Country Communion’s July UK tour will follow the release of their highly anticipated second album “BCC 2” on June 13th. BCC will also appear at London’s High Voltage Festival on Sunday July 24th.