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Thread: My Ambient Guitar Gently Sleeps

  1. #1

    My Ambient Guitar Gently Sleeps

    If anyone is up for some Enoesque ambient guitar soundscapery, I'm really happy with how this quickly conceived and recorded thing came together.

    Here or here.
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  2. #2
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    If anyone is up for some Enoesque ambient guitar soundscapery, I'm really happy with how this quickly conceived and recorded thing came together.

    Here or here.
    I listened to several sections in several of the pieces and enjoyed it. I thought you might be using an E-Bow but see you only used a volume pedal. And interesting tuning...what intrigues you about that (vs standard tuning or some other common alternates)?

    Well done!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    I listened to several sections in several of the pieces and enjoyed it. I thought you might be using an E-Bow but see you only used a volume pedal. And interesting tuning...what intrigues you about that (vs standard tuning or some other common alternates)?

    Well done!
    Thanks for listening!

    I had this old Squier Strat collecting dust - a friend had given it to me during a moving purge around ten years ago - and a few years back I was reading about Lou Reed's Ostrich tuning, a similar approach which he used on the pre-Velvets ironic dance song The Ostrich, and he continued to use in the early Velvet Underground days.

    So I had this guitar collecting dust and decided to give it a try and ended up with this variation: C tuned down from low E, the next three strings are "5th string 3rd fret C" and the top two are "2nd string 1st Fret C" - for lack of better way to describe it. This allows for really, really cool drone effects, if you strum across all the strings while fretting one or two of them up and down the neck.

    So for this, basically, I was playing around with the Ditto X4 looper pedal I got recently, and was curious what it would sound like if I put the drone guitar thru it and did slow droney stuff. And it sounded so cool, I did a whole bunch of soundscapes in different keys over the next few days. So the sustainy quality is coming from fading in and out with the volume pedal and looping the swells.

    Thanks again for listening, and if you read all this, thanks for reading too!
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    Thanks for listening!

    I had this old Squier Strat collecting dust - a friend had given it to me during a moving purge around ten years ago - and a few years back I was reading about Lou Reed's Ostrich tuning, a similar approach which he used on the pre-Velvets ironic dance song The Ostrich, and he continued to use in the early Velvet Underground days.

    So I had this guitar collecting dust and decided to give it a try and ended up with this variation: C tuned down from low E, the next three strings are "5th string 3rd fret C" and the top two are "2nd string 1st Fret C" - for lack of better way to describe it. This allows for really, really cool drone effects, if you strum across all the strings while fretting one or two of them up and down the neck.

    So for this, basically, I was playing around with the Ditto X4 looper pedal I got recently, and was curious what it would sound like if I put the drone guitar thru it and did slow droney stuff. And it sounded so cool, I did a whole bunch of soundscapes in different keys over the next few days. So the sustainy quality is coming from fading in and out with the volume pedal and looping the swells.

    Thanks again for listening, and if you read all this, thanks for reading too!
    Fascinating. I want to try that tuning.
    When I was considering updating my Looper (Boomerang currently) I put the Ditto X4 on my short list.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    Fascinating. I want to try that tuning.
    When I was considering updating my Looper (Boomerang currently) I put the Ditto X4 on my short list.
    I should mention also, I don't remember the string gauges I went with, but all the strings are different gauges, so the strings that are tuned to the same pitch still have slightly different timbres.

    Do you follow Bill Vencil/Chords of Orion on youtube? I was looking for something very specific in a looper - decay control - and reached out to him and he suggested the X4. It seems to be the only looper out there that offers decay control, and I love it. It allows you to mimic the classic Fripp tape loop sound, with each phrase slowly fading away over time as you add new phrases on top, so soundscapes can evolve, rather than just piling up sounds.
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    I should mention also, I don't remember the string gauges I went with, but all the strings are different gauges, so the strings that are tuned to the same pitch still have slightly different timbres.

    Do you follow Bill Vencil/Chords of Orion on youtube? I was looking for something very specific in a looper - decay control - and reached out to him and he suggested the X4. It seems to be the only looper out there that offers decay control, and I love it. It allows you to mimic the classic Fripp tape loop sound, with each phrase slowly fading away over time as you add new phrases on top, so soundscapes can evolve, rather than just piling up sounds.
    I had not heard of Bill Vencil before but I liked the music I heard just now (thank you!). I like the addition of the piano as it adds a weight and depth to the guitar.

    Being able to control decay on a looper is crucial to me as well. Several other loopers have that ability but some call it by a different name.
    Despite the large amount of loopers out there, no one product seemed to have everything on my wish list. But the X4 is a great combo of price and abilities.

  7. #7
    Yeah, I've been playing with the X4 for about four months now and can highly recommend it.

    Check out Bill's ongoing series of "How to Play Ambient Guitar" videos. Always something to learn.
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  8. #8
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    The first one I checked out was very informative. I will tune in tonight to the others when I have some time. Thank you!

    (My secret weapon is "The Wash" pedal by Hungry Robot. http://www.hungryrobotpedals.com/the-wash )

  9. #9
    That looks like a lovely unit. I may want one.
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  10. #10
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    It really is a magical device.
    I call it my "Eno in a Box."

  11. #11
    Gizmotron must be getting kickbacks from Hungry Robot for that one He persuaded me to buy one myself. And it is a lovely unit.

    I also grabbed one of these, to eventually use with my Deckard's Dream synth when it arrives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16EGp8vYVas

    BTW James...I really like Dronescapes. Great stuff, kept it on while working this afternoon. Worth a few bucks to own a copy for sure
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    Gizmotron must be getting kickbacks from Hungry Robot for that one He persuaded me to buy one myself. And it is a lovely unit.

    I also grabbed one of these, to eventually use with my Deckard's Dream synth when it arrives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16EGp8vYVas

    BTW James...I really like Dronescapes. Great stuff, kept it on while working this afternoon. Worth a few bucks to own a copy for sure
    I wish!
    After I recommended The Wave to James and he seemed interested, I wanted to link your post you made after buying one! But, I couldn't easily find it so I am glad you stopped by Battema!
    I enjoy sharing the love (of gear) so when something really cool comes along I spread awareness of it.

    This Mercury 7 Reverb is quite interesting...lots of subtle and biggish potential there.
    (Question: why does the E-Bow appear half-way through the demo video? Is it just a cool, random visual reference (like many demos seem to have) or is there some implication or feature I am missing?)

  13. #13
    LOL no idea...I mostly just listen rather than watch some of those videos

    A post on MuffWiggler pointed out eh Mercury 7 specifically going for that big honking 80's reverb sound. And since the Deckard is going for that big honking early 80's synth soundtrack sound? LET THEM PLAY
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post

    BTW James...I really like Dronescapes. Great stuff, kept it on while working this afternoon. Worth a few bucks to own a copy for sure
    Thanks. Means a lot coming from the folks around here what knows about music. Really appreciate you guys taking the time to listen.

    Regarding the Wash unit, my one concern is that it's mono. I'm playing these days thru the Boss SY-300 synth and the Ditto X4, which is also stereo, so adding mono reverb/delay at the end of the chain might not be the most doable thing. But the sounds it makes are lovely.
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    Thanks. Means a lot coming from the folks around here what knows about music. Really appreciate you guys taking the time to listen.

    Regarding the Wash unit, my one concern is that it's mono. I'm playing these days thru the Boss SY-300 synth and the Ditto X4, which is also stereo, so adding mono reverb/delay at the end of the chain might not be the most doable thing. But the sounds it makes are lovely.
    I agree, it's an odd choice for a mono pedal. I'm using it with my Voyager which is also mono, so it hasn't been too big a deal. But it IS unusual.

    The Mercury 7 is stereo in/out, although the input is a TRS jack rather than separate L/R.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  16. #16
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    Also agreed: not being a stereo pedal is a drawback. But it just does its job so well and I have other stereo reverbs and delays to match up when I am needing a stereo reverb/delay combo.
    The Wash is a perfect "grab and go" pedal when simplicity of set-up combined with a complex sound is the goal.

  17. #17
    I'm certainly a happy owner! Starting to get a bit "verb-heavy" in my pedal selections though...I need to branch out, make sure my Geiger Counter doesn't get lonely
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    I'm certainly a happy owner! Starting to get a bit "verb-heavy" in my pedal selections though...I need to branch out, make sure my Geiger Counter doesn't get lonely
    Oh good! As I recommended it so strongly, I'd feel guilty if the honeymoon was over.

    I'd suggest more phasing, flanging, chorusing, and overdrive pedals! Naturally, I have suggestions for all of these (but be warned, the word "Strymon" will come up often!).

  19. #19
    I actually have several Mooger/Mini-foogers that cover that territory: Cluster Flux, Ring Modulator, OD, Delay and the oscillator/sync one.

    What I'm kind of wanting to track down (used at this point) is this: http://pittsburghmodular.com/patch-box/

    A Eurorack stomp box? Heck yeah!!
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    I actually have several Mooger/Mini-foogers that cover that territory: Cluster Flux, Ring Modulator, OD, Delay and the oscillator/sync one.

    What I'm kind of wanting to track down (used at this point) is this: http://pittsburghmodular.com/patch-box/

    A Eurorack stomp box? Heck yeah!!

    That is a fine Moog collection; I only have the 103 Phaser but it is wonderful.

    The Pittsburgh Modular box looks very flexible. So many options. Knowing a bit about your style, it looks perfect for you.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    That is a fine Moog collection; I only have the 103 Phaser but it is wonderful.

    The Pittsburgh Modular box looks very flexible. So many options. Knowing a bit about your style, it looks perfect for you.
    Yah...I took the full-size 'Foogers and rack-mounted them along with the two CV expanders for the Voyager to create a semi-modular system:

    20140102_192115.jpg

    Works pretty well, although the CV implementation of the Voyager means it can't really be FULLY modular. Rather, it's like having a very analog/cable-based modulation matrix.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  22. #22
    Sorry James...totally realized we're spinning off of your fine ambient stuff. We already have a gear porn thread going
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    Sorry James...totally realized we're spinning off of your fine ambient stuff. We already have a gear porn thread going
    No worries! As long as it keeps the thread alive!
    Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 of my best ambient stuff from last year. 1 is the Frippertronic stuff, 2 is the knob twiddling, and 3 is one big meditative piece.
    And there's still that weekly ambient guitar soundscape podcast.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    No worries! As long as it keeps the thread alive!
    Thanks, James. My thought exactly...your stuff deserves to get heard. So keeping the thread up there is important to me.

    Perhaps more than most styles of guitar, outboard gear contributes a huge amount to Ambient styles. The typically long, languid/legato lines give perfect opportunities to micro-manage the tweakability of the various boxes. Reverb and delays are huge of course but the synth-like capabilities of the boxes that Battema likes allow for really taking Ambient pieces to some pretty cool places.

    So to try and tie it all together, please tell us your current approaches to your Ambient composing, James. That tuning you discussed is a very cool part of your sound; how much of a part is outboard processing?

    EDIT: That stack of Moog goodies has me salivating, Battema!

  25. #25
    It's a fun little rack o' tricks, for sure

    For me, one of the important elements with longer-type works is something that can introduce random/unpredictability. Not necessarily HUGE amounts, but subtle touches can really animate the heck out of a soundscape.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

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