Background

I am 50-ish years old (younger in spirit, older in taste) and have been playing guitar since I was 13. I am originally from Brazil, but have been living in the US since 1997 and in Knoxville (Tennessee) since 2006.

I am partial to progressive rock, but grew up listening to classic rock in general. Here are some of the bands I enjoy the most: Yes, Kansas, Deep Purple, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Spock’s Beard, Karmakanic, Peter Gabriel, Eric Johnson, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Toto, Rush, Alan Parsons, Van Halen .

And here are a few of the guitarists I enjoy the most: Eric Johnson, Ritchie Blackmore, Scott Henderson, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Lukather, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck.


Gear

Recording Gear

Summary

In the US:


In Brazil:


More details below.

Guitars

I’ve been a “strat guy” for my whole life, so my main guitar is a Suhr Classic (Strat). I have two pickguards for it: one with Suhr’s V60’s and one with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage (noiseless) pickups. It is basically a boutique strat, with some more modern features.

I bought this guitar used in around 2002/2003, while I was living in Santa Barbara. I saw and add from someone selling it in LA and drove down to check it and ended up buying it.

Later I took it to the Suhr factory in Lake Elsinore, CA, for them to do a check up and set up. I met John Suhr himself there (very briefly) and everyone was incredibly nice and helpful. (They gave me a factory tour and everything!)

At the time the guitar had the DiMarzio pickups in it and I told them I would like to get the Surh pickups. John Suhr recommended I had two pickguards, one for the DiMarzios and one with Suhr pickups, set up with "quick connect", which allows me to switch the pickguards without having to solder the connection to the guitar jack. I thought it was a really great idea (still do), so I had them do it for me.

The Suhr pickups are real single coil and sound great. But, of course, they come with the single coil hum. So, for recording at least, I've been using the DiMarzios mostly, which also sound quite good.

My second guitar is PRS Custom 22, which I also quite like and use it mostly for heavier music. Although I never liked the sound of a Les Paul, and despite the fact the PRS was certainly inspired by it, I do think it sounds quite good. My inspiration to get one was, besides being gorgeous and extremely well made instruments, for the tone Ian Bairnson gets from one in Alan Parsons: The Very Best Live album. I just love the guitar sounds and playing on that album!

The PRS was a custom order I made while leaving in Austin, Texas. I chose all the details and specifications! If I remember well, it took almost a year to arrive.

As much as I like it, in retrospect, I wish I had bought a Suhr with humbuckers instead, as I think it would fit better with my style and taste. When I think of humbucker sound, I think mostly of Van Halen, and a Suhr would get me much closer than the PRS. But now I don't think I can't part with the PRS, and certainly cannot afford another Suhr.

Back in Brazil I have a 1996 Fender American Standard Stratocaster, my first real strat! I bought it in Brazil, before I moved to the US. It replaced a 1991 or 1992 American made Ibanez Model S, that was stolen from my home in late 1995. I quite liked that Ibanez... It was the first really good guitar that I ever had. I ordered it and had to wait a couple of months for someone to bring it from the US and it was gorgeous! I eventually replaced the stock bridge pickup by a Seymour Duncan Trembucker, and that made a huge difference! I previously had tried the Seymour Duncan JB, but was not very happy with it. I then traded it for the Trembucker, and that worked really well!

When the Ibanez was stolen, I had to borrow a friend's Strat to record the Parsec Demo in early 1996, and it sounded great! When I went to the store to try out guitars to buy, when I picked up the Fender it was clear it was the guitar for me. I loved it right away! As much as I miss the Ibanez, there is no doubt that the strat is the guitar for me.

When I moved to the US in 1997, I took it with me. Later, while living there, I bought Kinmann pickups for it, which are really great! They are noiseless, but they really sound like single coil pickups. Since I’ve bought the Suhr, I left the Fender in Brazil, so I can play it when I’m there.

Amplifier

I’ve been using a Mesa Boogie DC-3 since I’ve moved to the US. It is small but quite powerful, with decent clean and distorted tones. (Although I do like it, it is one piece of gear I’d like to replace.) I usually connect it to a Jenkin’s 2x12 cabinet.

It has a direct recording output, which is what I use for recording. Despite having, in priciple, speaker simulation, I use it with impulse responses. But it allows me to record quietly and with a good tone.

Back home I have a Marshall JMP-1 preamp, a Marshall 9200 power amp and a Marhsall 1960A 4x12 cabinet. Although I quite like this rig, it was impossible to bring it to the US!

Brazil Gear

Effects

My main effects processor (for playing live) is a T.C. Electronic G-Major. I use an old Voodoo Lab’s Ground Control to change its patches (and switch amp channels).

Honestly, it's been a very long time since I actually used it, as when recording I simply use plugins. But I remember I quite like the G-Major effects.

Back in Brazil I have an old Alesis Quadraverb, which is OK. I actually brought it when I moved to the US, but eventually replaced it with the G-Major, which I liked a lot more.

For pedals I usually use a Way Huge Saffron Squeeze (compressor), a Fulltone Fulldrive FD-2 (overdrive), and an old Barber Burn Unit (overdrive). Sometimes I also use an SIB Varidrive (tube distortion) if I want an alternative to the second channel of the DC-3. I quite like them all!

More recently (in mid 2020) I bought a Line 6 HX Stomp, which I quite like so far. I really like its effects (chorus, flanger, delay, reverb) and its amp models seem to work OK. (I still need to tweak more.) Although is seems to work really well for clean sounds, I am not sure it can replace the amp for distorted sounds. But, again, I need to test more.

In any event, there is no questions it is quite convenient! It is great for practicing and recording. It works, out of the box, as an interface in Linux, which is a huge plus! It makes it quite easy to record with it. I always record with a DI track, and then I can reamp it later, with my actual amp, or with another model from the HX Stomp itself. It makes the process quite easy!


Recording Background and Setup

The Start (2014/2015)

In 2015/2016 I decided to start recording some guitars parts on top of backing tracks. Firstly because I missed playing, but also because I could use it as demo when looking for a band. These recordings, which are below, in the section First Recordings, then attempt to show some different styles, as I had no idea what kind of band I would be able to find.

Those were very quickly made, without too much care with the production value. (For instance, you can clearly hear the guitar humming a lot in many places.) They also show how rusty I was (and still am, really), which would be fair, if someone wanted to hire me.

In fact, despite many takes, I left some mistakes, as it would take me a long time to get it all perfect. But most of those recordings were one night’s work, and I mostly forced myself to live with the results (despite my OCD kicking in).

In a few cases I fixed/redid a few things the next night, after listening to the results really awake. But I felt it would be more honest of me leaving the mistakes in, since in a live situation there would be plenty of them!

The recordings were mostly done with backing tracks from youtube. I’ve used simply Audacity (running on Linux!) to record my track(s) and mix.

The guitar was connected to a Ibanez TS-9 (modified by AnalogMan), then to the DC-3 amp (running silent). I used the DC-3’s “Recording Output” to send it to a Digitech Genesis 3.

I used the Genesis 3 for effects (all of them, except for the TS-9) and cabinet emulator only. (No amp simulator, as I ran it through the DC-3.) The set up was really noisy, but I’ve decided to live with it.

Overall the tone was not great, but I thought it was pretty good for quietly recording direct to the computer (no mics) and overall much better than using simply the amp simulation from the Genesis 3.

Most of those songs, except when noted otherwise, were recorded with the Suhr with the DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups.


New Phase (Late 2016 / Early 2017)

Eventually I did find a really nice band, with a great group of guys, but, due to the curse someone must have put on me, things just kept going wrong, and (after countless bizarre events) we lost our rehearsal space. (Two of them, in fact.) So, we had to have an indefinite forced hiatus, which still lasts by the time of writing this (in mid 2017).

I then decided to go back to recordings, now just for fun. Around the same time, a good friend of mine had made a version of the Ghostbusters theme song. (See below.) I liked it and asked if I could rerecord the guitar parts for it, and he was nice enough to allow me. Conveniently enough, he is a Linux guy, like myself, and, since he is a real musician, he had recorded it using Ardour. He then sent me the files and gave me some pointers, and it really changed everything for my recordings! (I had known about Ardour, but I had concerns about being able to run it and learning how to use it. In the end, those were greatly unjustified!) Ardour is a real Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), and so much better than Audacity (which is great for other things).

This first recording (of Ghostbusters) was still done with the Genesis 3 (and the rest of the setup above), but I had put back the Suhr single coils back in my guitar, and the noise was just over the top! (You can hear it in the recording.) In fact, the Genesis 3 turned off when connected to my sound card hummed pretty loudly. So, I got really fed up and decided to get something else. (It’s strange, because listening to my older recordings, I did not have that much noise before… But it was an old unit, and I guess things break.)

After dreaming for months I would win the lottery and be able to afford a Line 6 Helix, I decided to face reality and get something I could afford. In the end I bought a Line 6 Pod X3, since it was cheap enough used.

I also thought it would be a good investment to get a real audio interface. After some research I got a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which is great and works well in Linux! (After some help from the nice folks at the Linux Musicians Forum!) Moreover, with it I can record directly from my amp’s recording output and, maybe someday, mic my amp or record voice or acoustic guitar.

After some experiments with the X3 and the 2i2, I realized I could get a much better sound with my amp going direct to the 2i2 and using impulse responses (IRs) for cabinet/speaker simulations. I’ve bought some IRs from 3 Sigma Audio and downloaded a few free ones, including a free one from Own Hammer and a free one from Red Wirez. I’ve been using mostly the latter, which is modeled after a Marshall 1960A with Celestion G12M-25s for my distorted tones and love it, while I use some of the 3 Sigma ones from clean tones.

Since I was not using the X3, I (reluctantly) decided to sell it, as I thought it would be a better investment to get a direct box and a reamp box. This allows me to save the straight signal from the guitar and, if I ever need or want to, I can use the same performance though a different amp (or same amp with the same settings). I ended up getting Radial’s ProDI (direct box) and ProRMP Reamp box. I would have liked to keep the X3 for practicing (and fiddling), but one has to have his/hers priorities straight. (Especially when short on money!)


Since I’ve started using Ardour my ambitions elevated, and I started to try to mix better try to improve the overall sound with the use of plugins. I am quite new at this and results still leave a lot to be desired, but I am learning and in no big hurry. Hopefully they will be better some day.

I’ve also been very tempted, now with a better set up, to rerecord many of my old recordings (in the section First Demo Recordings below) which had very poor quality, but this is taking the back seat, as I’ve been eager to new ones. But it will likely happen, sooner or later.


Current Recording Setup

My Set Up


Summary

Recordings

Click on the links below for some recordings.