Disable Fireworks Screensaver in Launchpad Mini

The Launchpad Mini has a “feature” where if it is receiving power over the USB connection, but the computer is off, it will display a kaleidoscopic light pattern on the pads. I’ve seen this variously referred to as Fireworks mode, Vegas mode, or most ironically, Sleep mode.

According to Novation tech support, the solution to this is either to unplug the Mini, or edit your machine’s BIOS to stop it providing power to the USB devices when turned off, neither of which seemed very satisfactory to me, but in the absence of any other solution, I’ve been unplugging it after each shutdown.

Eventually I got jack of this, so I did a bit of digging around and found a partial solution. (more…)

Crackling and Popping when using ReaTune in Reaper

TL;DR – If you’re experiencing crackling and popping in Reaper when you have ReaTune on a track, check that you don’t still have the track Record Armed. .

I was recording vocals into a project in Reaper recently, and even while I was singing I knew I missed a couple of notes. These were just scratch vocals that would be replaced later by someone who can actually achieve those notes, so after a couple of takes I decided to drop in ReaTune to tighten them up so I could get on with the rest of the track.

Just running the audio through ReaTune, even before adjusting anything, I could hear all sorts of crackling and popping in the audio. WTF?

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1966 Fender Mustang Restoration: Restoring the Pickguard

As I detailed last time, I discovered the pickguard had at least two layers of paint. The thick green layer on top and what appeared to be red spraypaint underneath. I hoped that under all of that was the original white tortoiseshell pickguard, but I wasn’t sure what state it was in. I feared that whoever decided it was a good idea to paint it had also decided to rough it up to help make the paint stick.

After a few hours researching online, I had no clear winner on the best way to proceed. The most common suggestion was to lightly sand my way down through the layers and then buff out any scratches afterward. This made me very nervous, so wanted to explore some other avenues first. (more…)

1966 Fender Mustang Restoration: Taking Stock

First things first, I need to see what I’ve got myself into here.

The good news is it seems reasonably complete. It’s missing one pickup cover, one tuning peg, and the tremelo arm, but otherwise everything else is there. Too early to declare how much of it is original, but we’ll uncover that as we go.

The fretboard seems in reasonable condition with only a little wear. Still very playable. I can’t see any signs of a refret, but if it has been, it was a very good job. I suspect maybe the paint job is an old one and it hasn’t been played much since…can’t imagine why 🙂 (more…)

1966 Fender Mustang Restoration

It might be hard to believe, but this is a 1966 Fender Mustang.

What’s that? You don’t think Fender were doing black bodies and surf green scratch plates in 1966? I think you’re right.

At some stage in the years between leaving Fender and being rescued by me, someone has taken to it with a paintbrush and “updated” it.  I came across it a couple of years ago, almost overlooking it given the dodgy colours. Pretty much on the spot I decided it needed to be put back to its original state. (more…)

Stone Roses, Fools Gold and John Squire in the Cupboard

Great SOS article on The Stone Roses in the studio with John Leckie recording Fool’s Gold. I thought this quote explained a lot about both the quality of the guitar work on the first album and also the time taken to release the second album:

“John Squire always had his Fostex 16-track recorder in the tape cupboard at the back of the studio, and after we’d gone home he would sit there with headphones and work out all his parts,” says John Leckie. “He always did that, right through ‘Fool’s Gold’, up until the second album.

In fact, part of the reason for the breakdown of that second album was that John would sit in his bedroom with the Fostex while the rest of us waited in the studio for his guitar parts. He wouldn’t improvise or make something up in the studio, but he got to the stage where he was really good. For instance, on ‘Bye Bye Badman’ there’s a guitar that plays all the way through — a kind of counter-lead line, going through a Leslie — and I remember him playing that in about half an hour. However, we had to wait four days for that before he came out of the cupboard.”

Full article here.

Mapping a MIDI Controller to Reaper’s Transport Controls

Reaper constantly impresses me with how flexible and customisable it is. A simple example is its support for Actions. Pretty much every command you can invoke in the GUI (and a bunch more that you can’t) are defined as Actions. One of the nice things you can do with Actions is easily map them to hardware buttons on a MIDI controller (and on your computer keyboard as well).

As an example, my Axiom 25 has hardware Transport Controls, like this:

To map these to the Reaper Transport Controls is pretty straight-forward: (more…)

Gil Norton, The Pixies and Song Length

Great Sound On Sound article about  The Pixies recording “Monkey Gone To Heaven”. I especially loved the bit about how Gil Norton (Producer) was trying to convince them to lengthen the songs:

“I remember the second afternoon I spent with Charles, after we’d gone through this process of me constantly trying to lengthen the songs from a minute and a half and provide them with more complex arrangements, he said ‘Let’s go for a walk,’ so that’s what we did, and we went into a big music store where he picked up a copy of Buddy Holly’s Greatest Hits and handed it to me. He said ‘Gil, look at the times on these songs.’ And when I looked at them, they were nearly all under two minutes.”

There’s a good lesson in that, I think.

Peter Koppes : Theory, Songwriting and Guitar

I’ve long been a fan of Australian band The Church. Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper are two of a handful of guitarists who made me want to pick up the instrument decades ago. Their beautiful, interweaving guitar lines served as both a source of inspiration and also frustration for me over the years.

Yeah, frustration. See, I’ve sat down many times to work out their songs, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Ironically, the unsuccessful attempts are not the frustrating part. I’m used to not always being able to work out what’s going on, and very often shooting for something and missing still lands you somewhere interesting. No, the frustration comes when I’ve been successful. On more than one occasion when I have worked out a section of their interplay, I’m left scratching my head thinking “How the hell would anyone know that THAT would work?”

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Configuring Reaper with the BCF2000

As part of my change from using Ableton Live to Reaper, last night it was time to tackle the MIDI configuration. The basic setup is:

  1. Axiom 25 connected via USB.
  2. BCF2000 connected via USB.
  3. FCB1010 and various bits of outboard gear (Midiverbs, SPX90’s, etc) connected via the MIDI Out/Thru and MIDI In of the BCF2000.

After a bit of time crawling around on the floor under my desk, I got all the above physically hooked up.

The Axiom 25 and the FCB1010/Outboard gear were very straightforward to setup in Reaper. Go to Options | Preferences | Audio | MIDI Devices and enable the Axiom for Input and the FCB1010/Outboard for Input and Output. Done.

The BCF2000 though was proving tricky to use in MIDI mode. I spent a bunch of time reading the mega-thread here and to be honest most options were sounding like they involved too much gaffer tape and fencing wire. (more…)