Archive for the ‘Weird Gear’ Category

Globular Bass

Monday, September 7th, 2009 modular bass patch

After much experimenting I’ve come up with this flexible synthbass patch that will find its way on several songs on the new Subway album. This patch works great because it’s got enough character to disinguish itself from a normal electic bass but sits well in the mix without overpowering other instruments. You can thin it out even more to make space in a very busy song by using EQ to remove some of the 250hz frequencies. You’ll find it opens the song up a bit without sacrificing the umph of your low end.

The key is using a 12db (2-pole) low-pass filter instead of the more common 24db variety. The 12db lets you squash the hell out of it to get a great round sound but still lets enough of the highs thru to have some character. This patch was created on a unit, but you can probably get similar results with any unit with a 2-pole 12db low-pass filter.



The Patch

Osc 1: range=32′, wave=pulse wave (width 6)
Osc 2: range=32′, wave=pulse wave (width 6)

Oscillators Mix: 50/50

Filter: frequency=3.5, resonance=0, control (EG1)=+1.25, slope=12db
EG1: A=0, D=4, S=0, R=0

Amp: gain=0, control (EG2)=10
EG2: A=0, D=5, S=10, R=1

Turner 33d Microphone

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I bought this microphone on an Ebay whim. $35 dollars for something that looked this cool seemed a bargain whether it worked or not. Little did I know how useful it would be and how much its purchase would turn me on to other vintage Turner gear.

The Turner company doesn’t exist anymore, but in its heyday it crafted some of the most visually stunning art deco microphones ever made. Turners were mid-priced workhorses, not high end mics. This particular mic came in two flavors: the 33d and the 33x. Ours is a 33d, the dynamic version, and the 33x was a crystal mic (we mistakenly though ours was a crystal mic for some time). Here’s a description of the mic culled from Radio Master: Official Manual and Buying Guide for Electronic and Radio Equipment, eleventh edition, 1945, pg. 40.

33d Dynamic – Same appearance as 33x with balance line cable on low impedance units to eliminate noise pickup. 200, 500, or hi-impedance complete with 20 ft. cable set and diagrams
List Price: $25.00
50 ohm model List Price: $23.50


The sound of this mic is all retro and low-fi, but not so much as to be unmusical or distracting. We found it sounded great on vocals and was surprisingly effective as a room mic for the drums. On our song Sandy Strange you can hear the vocals switching between the 33d and a modern Rode K2 microphone and the contrast is quite pronounced. Architects of Fear, another song on our album, was done entirely with the 33d.


Sadly the Radio master book doesn’t provide any technical specifications and we’ve not been able to dig them up anywhere else. We have no idea what the specs of this mic are.

Recommended Listening


Gibson GA-4RE Oil Can Delay

Monday, March 27th, 2006

This is the first of our “Weird Gear” series where we’ll be writing about some of the more interesting and unusual equipment we employ.

“The GA-4RE records music with an electric pen. The recode is made
on a film of oil which also serves to lubricate the revolving disc
which is the platter for the film. The film is constantly replaced and
can never wear out like magnetic tape. Following the electric pen are
two sensors which reproduce the pattern of electrons for the
amplifier. The effect is a multiple choice of echo and reverberant
sound with a quality never before achieved.”

– Gibson Reverb-Echo GA-4RE Instructions

The GA-4RE is a staple sound of The Mesmers. It’s haunting, warbly
echos have made it’s way into numerous songs including “The Model”,
“Neptune City”, “Race The Days” and most notably “Sandy Strange”. It
was manufactured by Tel-Ray, a California electronics company which
eventually become Morley, as a licensed/re-branded version of it’s
“Adineko Memory System”. It was available during the 60′s as an
alternative to high maintenance tape delays and can be found in many
standalone and integrated effects under the brands Fender, Gibson,
Rickenbaker, Acoustic, Univox, Vox, and Standelle.


The delays from the oil can have reduced high and low frequency
content. There is also an audible chorus effect due to the
non-linearities of the oil passing the rotating platters. These
non-linearities are impossible to capture using convolution based
methods, so you’ll just have to break down and buy one.



  • Input 1 is for electric guitar.
  • Input 2 is for high z inputs like a tape deck or mixer foldback.
  • Loudness: this is an input attenuator for input 2 to accommodate a variety of high level signals.
  • Direct: this is a volume control for the input (non-echo) signal.
  • Reverb: this is a volume control for the echo signal.
  • Mode: this controls the echo rate and feedback via 3 presets.
    1. Position 1: soft delay with quick repeats and short delay time… as close as this thing gets to reverb.
    2. Position 2: delay with long delay time, great for dub.
    3. Position 3: delay with short delay time, this is the rockabilly position.
  • Power: this, um… turns it on/off.

In addition to the inputs and controls listed above, the GA-4RE also
has a fuse, output jack and footswitch which enables/disables the echo
effect. This unit is all tube and has one 12AU7 possibly used as a
phase inverter and 2 6EU7′s for amplification.