Joined: 10 Sep 2004 Posts: 2783 Location: Chino, CA
Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:26 am Post subject: Greetings After A Long Absence
Ed here and it has definitely been a long, long time since I checked up on this place. I don't mean to neglect but my Strandberg Guitars duties (which included setting up an official US Inc subsidiary this year and making 3~4 week visits to Asia on a regular basis) have really made it hard for me to do anything else.
As "CEO" of this new subsidiary, I now have to handle all operations, quality assurance (which includes the visits to suppliers spread out over Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia), sales (including all of Asia as well as the US and Canada), customer service, accounting/finance and dealing with government tax agencies, etc. It has literally become a 24x7 kind of thing when I also have to have a family life with two teenage boys with one getting ready for college entrance exams so I hope you guys can understand why I've been out of the loop for such a long time.
One thing I really don't deal with much at Strandberg is marketing and social media stuff as I simply don't have the time for it. I'm not a FB kind of guy at all and won't even check up on the Strandberg FB page for weeks at a time. There is only so much time in a day and my priorities are primarily operations-related (which would include QC, sales and customer service) so I let Ola and our social media expert handle that stuff.
I haven't even been able to stay in touch with Guthrie all that much with his constant touring and my busy schedule. Only recently did we get in touch for holiday greetings by email after many months of not even being able to send emails to each other. That's just how things are these days. Both Guthrie and I are super busy doing our own things although I do hope to hook up with him when he comes down to SoCal with the Hans Zimmer tour in the spring. I can't even remember when and where I last saw him; it's definitely been well over a year - maybe two.
Anyway, since you GG forumites like talking about gear so much, I thought I would share this "R&D" rig I put together for testing various Strandberg prototypes and various pickups since that's part of the work I do in product development. I decided that I will integrate my ole Axe-Fx II and Atomic CLR rig with the Friedman BE100 2x12 rig into one super-duper A/B/Y "Rig of Doom".
So I started assembling the little pieces together and did some research on the most happening pedals for the Friedman all-tube "analog" side and got in touch with some of my old buddies and vendors from my Tone Merchants days to get the components and the cables and accessories to tie them all together.
Things have sure changed a lot since those heady TM days and definitely for the better. The quality of the pedals and what you get out of them for the money have improved exponentially. So here are the photos with a basic rundown:
The rig starts with an Effectrode PC-2A tube compressor which is more for subtle tonal coloring than compression. It adds a nice tube warmth and silky sheen to the guitar tone. From there it goes to a Hilton guitar volume pedal which is absolutely the best volume pedal I've ever tried (and I normally hate volume pedals as they are notorious tone suckers). It actually improves the overall sound of the guitar tone. Then it goes into the Radial Twin City A/B/Y box with A going to the Axe-Fx II and the Atomic CLR powered monitors and B going to the analog/tube rig centered around the Friedman BE100.
So the B side starts with the Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe compressor, which is based on the legendary Urei 1176 studio compressor. Again, like the Effectrode PC-2A which is based on another legendary studio compressor called Teletronix LA-2A, the Cali76 just sounds so damn good no matter how you set the controls. I'm not into the Ross kind of thing that gets squashy. I like the compression to be very subtle and a tonal enhancer kind of effect.
From there, it's another Hilton VP to control the front end of the Friedman, then the Xotic Wah, an Xotic RC Booster Version 2 with an additional boost switch, Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808HW (for the classic yet refined TS sound and feel), the Wampler Euphoria to get the Dumble kind of sound, the brand new Strymon Riverside OD/distortion pedal that is the most versatile of its type and which you just can't get a bad sound out of, Strymon Mobius modulation pedal and finally into an Xotic EP Booster before it goes into the Friedman BE100. All I can say is that I can get all the sounds I could ever want with this chain alone.
The BE100's speaker out goes into the Fryette Power Station which acts as a power soak and attenuator but with its own built-in 50w power amp featuring two 6L6 power tubes. The Fryette PS has an effects loop of its own so it sends the BE100's attenuated line level signal to yet another Hilton VP which then feeds the Strymon TimeLine delay and Strymon Big Sky reverb pedals. Last but not least is the TC Electronic Ditto looper for looping fun.
All this is connected by Evidence Audio Forte cables for the guitar signal, Siren cables for speaker and the Source cables for the power. Even the XLR and RCA cables are all Evidence Audio for the outs from the Axe-Fx II and the Chord Electronics Hugo DAC to play music and backing tracks through the Atomic CLRs. So, yeah, I went all out to get the best possible sound out of each component. Obviously, a rig like this is not at all practical for live usage. Even Guthrie commented after looking at these photos that it seems like "an absolute apex in terms of the perfect signal chain".
One more thing that made a huge difference as I assembled this rig: clean power. Early on, I ran into all sorts of noise gremlins (ground loops and weird EMI/RFI kinds of stuff) and realized that it was the power outlets. So I did some research and found this 8-outlet unit with a footswitch that is a industrial grade power filter and conditioner as well as having the ability to turn the two outlets on and off in a sequence with user-determined time intervals. So now I can just stomp on the footswitch and it will turn the pedals on first, then the rack, then the tube amps and finally the Atomic CLRs in 10-second intervals. When I want to turn off the rig, I stomp again and it turns the components in reverse order so I never have to worry about pops damaging the speakers. I was like, "Wow, this is so cool."
Even with this, I still had little noise issues with other outlets and power supplies for the pedals. Then, I got the brand new Strymon Zuma power supplies and they completely eliminated the noise without having to go out and get a noise gate kind of device which I've always hated for the way it interfered with dynamics. Of course, you'll still get the single-coil hum through OD/distortion and natural amp noise but, overall, it's negligible and almost dead quiet.
So here it is. It does truly sound amazing and when I've got the Y thing going with both the Axe-Fx and Friedman running at the same time with the right settings, it sounds truly sublime. It's also very easy to just connect separately into each rig for two players to jam. The A side can also be a truly great-sounding audiophile system with the iPhone or Mac sending high-res audio files (like DSD and FLAC) to the Chord Electronics Hugo DAC with RCA out which then goes into a Radial Pro AV2 which then sends the audio signals via XLR to the Atomic CLR's 2nd inputs. And, for good measure when using the Axe-Fx late at night without shaking the house, the headphones is Sennheiser HD800S and that sounds great in its own right although it's nothing quite like both systems blaring loud through the speakers. That's still the best way hear what you play.
One last note: the two guitars that I have around as "reference" units are the Charvel GG (early prototype) and a US Custom Shop .strandberg* Boden 6 with Koa top, Black Limba body, Cocobolo neck, Ebony fretboard and Suhr SSH+ and SSV pickups. Honestly, I play the Boden 6 about 90% of the time. Personal preference, I guess, but I much prefer the sound and feel of this .strandberg* over the Charvel. The Charvel is a great guitar - don't get me wrong - but I'm a total .strandberg* guy now and that's why I do what I do.
EY Guitar Rig 17 by alexkhan2000, on Flickr _________________ Ed Yoon
Certified Guthrie Fan-atic
BOING Music LLC - Managing Partner
.strandberg* Guitars USA
Ed Yoon Consulting & Management
Guitar Center Inc.
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