Fender Blues Junior - Original Ballad
At some point in 2008 I did another demo of my Blues Junior but this time to an original ballad tune “Just Another Love Song” that I wrote back in college. In the vein of “Life Without You,” this demo sparked a huge amount of interest in the song, which I then taught a few lessons on in the “Original Ballad Series.”
Pedal 1: Boss PQ-4
This Parametric EQ Pedal is no longer in production. Although it can produce a wide variety of tones, I use it basically as a clean boost with a little extra boost in the low/midrange area. This pedal is first in the lineup and I use it in two ways: First to provide a little boost to the amp by itself and second to push the Nobels Overdrive farther into distortion when it is engaged.
Pedal 2: Boss PQ-3B
This is another parametric EQ pedal not made anymore. This one I use to get a more narrow boost at around 1.5 KHz to add an extra edge to leads, similar to the tone Stevie got from his tubescreamers with the tone all the way up. I also add in a little extra low end to balance it out a bit.
Pedal 3: Nobels ODR-S
I really like this overdrive pedal. It seems to work especially well with the Blues Junior. The distortion produced mixes well with my amp and it has plenty of usable gain. Since the amp is producing a decent amount of distortion on it’s own, I only set the gain up about half way…just enough to thicken up the tone enough for leads.
The amp used in this demo is a Fender Blues Junior. Mine is a Tweed NOS Edition. I do not have any mods yet. You can see the settings in the settings tab. For this demo I wanted a pretty thick lead tone so I have the preamp gain set pretty high. But for the first portion of the song where I want a cleaner tone, I use a combination of lighter picking as well as rolling the volume back just a tad. This takes off just enough signal to keep the amp from really distorting during the first part. When I first kick into the solo, I turn on the Nobels and the PQ-4 for a pretty thick lead tone. When I get the the second heavy solo chorus, I kick on the PQ-3B to really push the tone through the roof. I’m pretty sure Stevie was using some sort of fuzz pedal for some live performances when he played “Life Without You” because his tone was just monsterous for that song.
I recorded this demo using a Shure SM-57 microphone slightly above and off to the side of the Blues Junior cabinet. The mic was pointed a little off to the side of the center of the speaker and was sitting about a foot away. Positioning of the microphone relative to the amp makes a big difference in the tone. While it’s normal at a live show for the mic to be pointed directly at the speaker, I find that the resulting tone lacks warmth and is a bit too harsh for my tastes. Moving the mic off to the side immediately changes the tone of the recording and pointing it close to, but not directly at the center of the speaker, allows it to remain clear but not as harsh as being pointed directly at the center of the speaker. In addition, having the microphone elevated a little above the speaker and pointing down helps capture some of the natural bass respons of the amp resulting in a fatter tone. I could easily have spent an hour finding the optimal placement of the microphone and if I had been recording for an album, I probably would have. But the plugins available in most recording software can do an amazing job making up for poor mic placement. I know from experience that this mic position gives reasonably good tone and in the interest of time and not driving myself crazy, I decided to set it up this way and just play. The microphone was connected to a Motu 896HD Firewire Interface which connected to my computer…a MacPro.
The demo was recorded in Apple’s GarageBand software. I first assembled the backing track using a hacked up version of one of the songs packed with the software. I took the drum loop and chopped it to the right length and looped it. Then I keyed in the bass and keybard parts using my keyboard. Not a piano keyboard, but my typing keyboard. Once the backing track was assembled, I recorded the guitar part on a separate track. Before mixing down, I applied an equalizer and a reverb plugin to the guitar track. The equalizer plugin cut out a bit around 800Hz to remove some muddiness and boosted around 6-8 KHz to add a little sparkle. Then the reverb plugin was set to add a little room sound to the guitar.
Here is a list of the gear used in this video.