Getting sucked into the synth rabbit hole - it's been nice knowin' ya!

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ukepicker, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    The week after Christmas I was sick, so I watched the whole Stranger Things series and it awoke some latent 80's demon inside me who now I can't get enough synth music.

    I am a man possessed.

    There's an awful lot of cool tones and textures available in the modern synthetic music hardware/software. So far, I've played with the boxed tones in garageband and my old yamaha keyboard (which, surprise!, also sounds great through a Princeton amp).

    A few nights ago, I used an ancient iTunes giftcard to install Korg Gadget on my iphone. Small interface aside, the ability to tone-tweak yourself into compelling tones is mind-blowing. Pitch bends. vibratos. EQ. TEXTURE. It literally feels like every sound is at your fingertips. I hardly got any sleep that night.

    And today, instead of the midi controller I need for Gadget, I bought an Electribe 2 (the all-grey one that is so inspiring to me when I see it). So now that's on it's way to my house. I hope to love its limitations and sounds.


    But my soul is recoiling with all of this, because:
    1-I am *gulp* no longer inspired by my guitars, with their incessant need for tuning and retuning and their 60 cycle hum and ground loops and nutwork and fretwork and pickup swapping and too-loud-for-the-neighbors and pedal buying and pedal tweaking, etc.
    2-with synthetic music, you don't really have to know anything about music to make noise that sounds like music. When things sound awesome to me, usually I'm just moving knobs and running my finger over a keyboard which has had all the "wrong" notes removed and I have lost touch with what's really happening.
    3-with synthetic music, there's no physical touch. I always hated keyboards for this reason - no actual strings getting hit by actual hammers. No plucking. No physical tension to shape and fight against. No acoustic sound at all without some sort of powered external transducer.
    4-my future inevitably holds a campfire with people asking for a song and me pulling out my phone and "laying down a beat".


    Has anyone here stepped into the synth abyss and escaped to tell about it?

    Am I even allowed to be on this forum anymore???
     
  2. sammy123

    sammy123 Tele-Meister

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    Just do yourself a favor and don't get into modular. Trust me.
     
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  3. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

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    Korg Gadget and iMS-20 are fun to play around with. Use GarageBand but leave a track for
    your guitar and maybe a vocal track - have fun with it.
     
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  4. DaphneBlue

    DaphneBlue Tele-Meister

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    see you in a decade.
     
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  5. TMMC

    TMMC Tele-Afflicted

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    Use it! Embrace it!

    Michael Mann films have done the same thing for me, and Stranger Things only reset it. Thus I've been combining electronic/synth stuff with guitar, drums (whether acoustic or electronic) and have doubled my passion for music in general.

    If we don't find ways to reinvent ourselves, however slightly, we may never be as happy as we could otherwise be. I say bravo!
     
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  6. Slim

    Slim Tele-Holic

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    I got bit pretty good by the synth bug around 2000. I had all the $200 digital synths from the 80s (Korg, Roland, Casio, Ensoniq), modules from Oberheim and Kurzweil, 70's string machines from Arp and Crumar...my prize was a near mint Octave Cat.

    That's when I discovered ebay and it was a lot of fun to buy one, get bored and pack it up and sell it for what I paid for it. Eventually just ran out of things I could do with a filter cutoff and an LFO and lost interest. Only one I kept was the Korg DW8000.

    They were definitely fun and took up a lot of my time! A lot of fun to create your own pretend soundtracks.
     
  7. songtalk

    songtalk Friend of Leo's

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    I just want you to know. You're doing the right thing. :)

    IMG_20171206_111324.jpg
     
  8. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    I stepped into the synth abyss round about 1981 or so. But I control it. It doesn't control me.

    I probably didn't buy any synth gear from 1987 to 2013 or so, with 1 exception. Doesn't help that stuff I GASsed for is not available for pennies on the dollar. And me with a good soldering iron, multimeter, and o-scope to keep them running.

    But let me address your points:

    1. Yes, guitars need tuning. But think of the simplicity. A guitar. An amp. And you can play. Maybe some pedals. Synths lead inevitably to issues of cables by the truckload, MIDI routing, etc.

    Last night I was wiring again. 5 X 8 ports of MIDI routing. 32 channel mixer + 4 stereo channels. 4 48 point and 1 40 point patch bay.

    Makes a tele, instrument cable, and amp look pretty easy.

    2. You may have to know less. There a quote from It Came From Sheffield from one of the 80's synth bands. "What the punk bands tried to do with 3 chords, we tried to do with 1 finger".

    But I think you'll find it limiting. Whereas the initial curve for guitar is steeper, it gets shallower over time. On the other hand synths start easy, then get a lot harder.

    3. No physical touch? Sure there is, it's just different (or you could say a theremin is the same). and if there isn't enough from a synth, try an actual piano. And electric guitar is considerably less interesting played acoustically.

    4. I don't do 'beats'. I do 'songs'.

    As last count, there were 26 electronic noisemakers hanging around my office/studio. That doesn't count the guitar stuff.
     
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  9. Clash Telecaster

    Clash Telecaster Tele-Meister

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    Wow, that's wild that you wrote that. I, too, have an old Yamaha keyboard and I too play it through a Fender Princeton amp. And, yup, it sounds great.

    As for your synth phase...it will pass. This guy in the picture below is a founding member of thee synth band of all synth bands -- Depeche Mode. Even a member of that band got fed up with pressing keys and returned to the dark side of rock and roll guitar:

    And look behind him...there's a real live drummer, not a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Don't lose sleep over it, your synth phase will pass.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    Oh crap! They need stands, too?? And cables?? And amps???

    I'm hoping to stay happy with a modeling app on my phone and some headphones. Well, and the electribe, which is made to work well self-contained. So for now, I'm gonna try to stay away from authentic, quality (and vintage) synths.

    But it never seems to work. I always fall too far down the rabbit hole.

    It happened with acoustic guitars first: I stumbled into an amazing shop and played multiple $5-10k acoustics and heard the difference for the first time. I was never satisfied after that. And I had to quit trying because fine acoustics are expensive.

    So I went to electric guitars. First real dose of telecaster set me off on a tone-chase. Then I heard a vintage vibrolux and a dearmond toaster pickup. It took me 2 years after that - 20+ guitars and 15 amps and soldering and tube swapping and fretwork and nut files, etc. Then I got happy. Then I got bored and let my guard down. And boom! (or insert heavy dance-orchestra hit here) I'm on to something else.
     
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  11. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    Is that Martin Gore? Didn't he put out a synth album in 2015?

    But I'm trying not to think of it in terms of "synth" or "soundtrack" or "rock-n-roll" - despite the tongue-in-cheek theme of my little thread here. I'm seeing some new sonic colors to use - to help me turn what I feel into audible vibrations (and sometimes to turn audible vibrations into something I feel). It's exciting.

    Really, not too far from learning to play tuba in the band when I was 12.
     
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  12. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    I've always been intrigued by guitar synths, but have yet to see a user breakout into the mainstream. If Jimi were still alive, he'd be experimenting with it. I'm surprised that someone like Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, or Joe Satriani hasn't. I think Roland has pretty much solved the latency issue and now have the SY300 which doesn't even require a special pickup.
     
  13. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    King Crimsons Bad Bobby Fripp has used one since they were introduced. Hes as good as any that you mention, but none on the list are mainstream. Maybe if Mayer got one...
     
  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have a MIDI/USB controller that I got for free, but no modules to use with it. I keep hoping to find something cheap at the local Music-Go-Round, but no luck yet. I could probably download something in the laptop to use, but I'm lazy. I was house sitting for a friend with a new Roland VR-8 and I got lost in that thing daily. I was beginning to remember keyboard rudiments that I learned back in college. Luckily, he came back home.
     
  15. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I mentioned this in another thread, "Etheral Dialpad" , unfortunately just for Android, is an amazing fun toy. I m using it w my Moto phone, 7 inch and 11 inch RCA tablets. In each case its touch sensitive. A KILObit range storage requirement and zero latency since it uses the audio chip directly. Basically a 2 axis either single or dual Thermin w many quantitized scale choices or str8 continuous tone(s).I ve been playing for over a year now and I still play it often.
     
  16. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I bought an Eventide Harmonizer H9 Max pedal and am really digging it. I have created/edited about 14 patches, most of which are typical guitar effects-- tremolo, wah, delay, chorus, phase, flange, whammy, octaver. But it also has some really cool synthy effects such as arpeggiators that I'm having fun with as well. For someone who wants to dabble in synth without making a big commitment I think this is a good choice....you take care of almost all your standard pedal needs with one box and you get tons of extra cool effects to mess around with for free. You can also use an iPad as a controller so you can do a lot with that. I imagine that a lot of synth apps these days also allow you to use the touch screen of a smartphone or iPad as the controller.
     
  17. Clash Telecaster

    Clash Telecaster Tele-Meister

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    1. Yeah...and he played guitar on it.

    2. Those new sonic colors will terribly date whatever you place them on. Listen to that TOMMY film soundtrack album with the Moog all over it. Sounds so dated and rather silly.
     
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  18. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes he did - and tastefully so.

    I don't have plans to place them anywhere:) I'm just a livingroom player. Besides, I'm trying to avoid all the gear and sticking with newer digital stuff. I don't really wanna cop old sounds. I've never really done that with my guitars either. I've always just looked for sounds that I could make that were compelling. And fun to listen to.

    Although, I have thought about how cool it would be to write a song and then show up to an open mic with just my phone to accompany me. I'd probably need to leave room to play a solo or something or else everyone will think I'm just singing karaoke.
     
  19. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't expect to get to that point. I've never had any piano training, I just kinda know where the notes are and how to make a few chords. Besides, the electribe doesn't even really have a keyboard, just a set of pads. The thing that has drawn me to it is that it is capable of making full and big sounds without needing any extra gear. Heck, it'll do it on a few batteries. I expect to get overwhelmed by it soon enough. Or bored with it.

    The iphone app is kinda the same idea. Everything I need is self contained - and with me all day everyday. Sure the interface is difficult. And the sounds are limited and I gotta buy extra "gadgets" to make different sounds. And it'll probably get updated and outmoded with a iOS update in a few years anyway. Right now, it's a cheap way to get the idea of how the knobs work. And, frankly, compelling sounds are easy to get to.



    Haha! I'm with you there. EDM is not in my wheelhouse (or soul).

    I've already found myself daydreaming and arranging some of my songs - even dialing in somewhat of a target for the sounds.

    I think it'll be easy to go overboard when it's all right there and you can layer and build things. But I always tried to stick to the less-is-more (or quality-over-quantity) when it comes to my guitar picking. I'll just try to make it a universal MO.
     
  20. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's

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    Mr. Holdsworth also tried to bring it forth at one point.
     
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