Vinnie Bell’s Basement Guitars

Vinnie Bell Sitar Ad

Today I googled for Vincent Bell’s name because I couldn’t believe Danelectro didn’t mention him in their promo for the Coral Hornet re-issue now called Dead-On-67. He designed those in the sixties along with several other classic and unique models like the Bellzouki (first electric 12-string) and the Coral Sitar (electric guitar with 12 bordun strings and a sitar bridge). Anyway, so I came across this great page by Moe Thomas for the first time. He says he’s a long time friend of Mr. Bell and when he visited the legendary guitar player’s basement he took pictures of the sheer mass of historic and unique guitars and prototypes – many built by Vinnie himself. He’s a very inventive guy thinking up things like the first wahwah or his trademark underwater sound as heard on Moon Gas and apparently various practices and machinery used in guitar manufacturing – all while making a living as one of the east coast’s busiest studio session men.

Here are links to some highlights of the collection:

  • photo of Sitar prototypes
  • the sitar-shaped Bellzouki as portrayed on the back of Joe Harnell’s Bossa Now! album
  • Vinnie Bell’s personal 6-string bass (who knows how many records we have heard this one on?!!!)
  • one of a kind Coral Scorpio-style 12-string Sitar (a dream instrument of mine)
  • Vinnie Bell model Stratocaster as presented to him by Fender Musical Instruments (note straight bridge pick-up)
  • the banjo he played on Louis Armstrong’s recording Hello Dolly
  • the mandolin Bell played on The Godfather-soundtracks

also visit

Loudness and Old Exotica Recordings

When I was asked to DJ Exotica music on a boat recently I had to burn some vinyl of mine to CD. So I could see the sound waves and made two screenshots of the perfectly mastered Arthur Lyman album Bahia.

The reason I chose this one was that the loudest and first track I ripped peaked at 0dB without the limiter catching it. I just left the dials to their own devices and hoped I can capture the entire album with this “magic” setting. It was just plain luck. So I ripped this particular vinyl record without any additional limiting or compression, peaking at 0dB and all the music of that album perfectly relative to that peak.

When you see the soundwaves you will recogn that each one has got its own shape. This means that the creativity of the musicians is reflected in the volume at any given point in time, allowing for drama, surprises and expression. Sure there was some kind of processing going on even in those days, but it was to get a good, hi-fi sound at the end-consumer, with the goal being a natural room impression – heavy compression doesn’t allow that. See that one very quiet track – it’s meant to be that way. How they made it? They played their instruments softer. You have to be quiet yourself to clearly hear it, you start interacting with the music.

It all made me realize on a new level, what beautiful works of art music masters can be.

Here are two Heavy Metal soundfiles for comparison. It’s the same track, the upper, more dynamic one was given to a game company, the lower one is from the CD album. Wether this was a mistake or the less dynamic sound was considered more desireable I don’t know.

related posts:
Turn Me Up! | Bringing Dynamics Back To Music
Loudness Wars Explained
Article on Metallica‘s new album at Wired.

Wrecking Crew Movie Tomorrow!

This screening is in LA, quote taken from an e-mail sent out by

Event: Don’t Knock The Rock Film Festival
Time: 8:00PM
Date: Thurs., July 3rd, 2008
Location: Silent Movie Theatre
611 N. Fairfax Avenue
tickets link

Hi Wrecking Crew supporters!

Thank you for making the LA premiere at the Grand Performances a Great Success but if they missed it and want to send a friend, this is a great event. After playing to great response at SXSW, Buffalo, Nashville and Seattle Film Festivals (see reviews), we are very excited that “The Wrecking Crew” documentary will screen as part of the “Don’t Knock The Rock” Film Festival at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in Los Angeles.

Join us for a beautiful tribute to those brilliant musicians who made some of the best records of our lifetime, yet rarely the picture on the record — now they get the spotlight. In fact, if you showed up to The T.A.M.I. Show Sunday night, you heard them, but you barely saw them — they were the house band for all those great acts. This evening is all about them!

A Q&A with Denny Tedesco will follow the screening and Boyd Rice DJ’s Wrecking Crew classics and novelties from Rodney Bingenheimer’s personal collection, while Kari French and her Go Go Troupe do the hippy hippy shake to Rice’s collection of rare 60s Scopitones!

previous post

Laser Beam Music Performance System

Via Spreeblick I found this. It looks to me like a modern day theremin. By attaching it to a computer you can control virtual instruments – so the sound has no boundaries.

Beamz writes:

The Beamz is a laser-based invention that is connected to a computer via USB. This allows you to play hundreds of musical instruments in a true Jean Michel Jarre style by breaking the laser beams with your hands.

The beamz system has a ‘W’ shape, with six laser beams spanning the two sections; connect via USB to your PC or laptop, and hook up some speakers. The simple, intuitive computer interface makes it easy to choose any of 30 included songs in 19 musical genres for laying down a complementary rhythm track. The beamz library includes original works in jazz, bluegrass, classical, hip-hop, reggae, heavy metal and more

read more at GeekAlerts

Musical Furnishings

This gives me the idea of having an invisible recording studio in the living room… Should be possible!

Introducing the Musical Rumba Series! Musical Furnishings is very excited to introduce the Musical Rumba Series. Design your own personal drum table with durable, interchangeable and rearrangeable percussion inserts. Choose from four different sized tables to suit your musical and space needs. The smallest table accepts four of the smaller instruments and the largest accepts sixteen. Make sure to watch the videos below and carefully consider which inserts you desire. The tables are easily shipped UPS and only require the legs to be attached (very easy requiring no tools) All orders are hand built by NW Artist Tor Clausen in his Studio in Olympia WA.

Unless otherwise noted, these are single modules (8?x 8?x varying depth). Note that the large 4×4 table has all of the 12 modules and the snare and cajun drum are larger thereby explaining why 12 modules can fill a 16 module table.

1 ) Tamborine
2 ) Snare Drum (takes the space of two modules, 8?x16?)
3 ) Medium Bongo
4 ) Low Bongo
5 ) High Bongo
6 ) Shaker
7 ) Chimes
8 ) Bell
9 ) Cow Bell
10) High Hat (adjustable)
11) Cajon Bass Drum (takes the space of 4 modules, 16?x16?)
12) Cymbal Crash

Musical Furnishings

Turn Me Up!
Bringing Dynamics Back To Music

Wow! A website dedicated to bringing back dynamics into modern recordings. I applied there with Tiki Traveling. Hopefully they accept that recording. I will do my best to support the project. I recorded TTWKK in the consciousness of making an anti-loudness record. Being mainly for soundtrack use, I could more easily fight the temptation of being competitive with music recorded for radio, music-tv or a teenager’s music collection, but aimed for the late fifties/early sixties hifi stereo sound instead. Think Command LPs with Bauhaus covers (Enoch Light’s label). I mixed and mastered for a good, enduring listening experience.

command lp klein

These records say: Turn me up! Your stereo deserves being turned up as much as your guitar amp or vehicle. Simply sounds better. Dials are more precise up the scale, too.

I wrote about the so called loudness wars earlier on this blog.

Quote from Turn Me Up!

Turn Me Up!™ is a non-profit music industry organization
campaigning to give artists back the choice to release more dynamic records. To be clear, it’s not our goal to discourage loud records; they are, of course, a valid choice for many artists. We simply want to make the choice for a more dynamic record an option for artists. …

Turn Me Up! | Bringing Dynamics Back To Music

Here’s another link to an article on over-compression of music.

Consumer EQ

EQ stands for equalization.
I want to write about the two knobs that old school consumer electronics had. The treble and bass controls on radios and amplifiers. Do you know somebody who always turns them up? Changing all the sound coming out of his stereo to his or her preferences. But what are these preferences based on?

He or she
… has paid for these knobs and just has to use them.

This habit is actually lowering the mids. The poor mids don’t have a knob of their own, and by boosting their neighbors they get behind in the frequency balance of the undoubtedly preference based volume adjustment.

… claims to compensate lacking gear or room acoustics.
What about the car stereo – same problem? The old radio – same problem? Incidentally the same problem in all audio gear within reach of this person. Try speaker (re-)placement.

… got used to the sound long ago.
This is probably true, but turning the knobs up is covering the symptoms, it’s not the cure.

… finds it sounds more hi-fi
This comes from a youth spend with very old or very cheap radios, receivers, cassette-players or compact record-players. The veils went up when the first proper hi-fi entered the living room. Like blankets were removed from the speakers. It’s a nice metaphor. Unfortunately I can’t provide one about dwarved mids.

The mids. They are the core of music. Many musical pieces were written for solo instruments or small ensembles exploring the beautiful kindom of mids. There’s considerably less music written for glockenspiel, triangel or cymbals. Strange, considering how hi-fi that would sound. Simply put, these treble instruments are the icing on the cake of music, but not the cake itself. Also few solo pieces for double-bass or tympany are being performed regularly. They just don’t deliver the goods, the mids.

live in the kingdom of mids. And you also find the most beautiful and complex harmonies there. You don’t hear a jazz chord with a root above 10khz. Or below 60hz. So by boosting these cake-icing frequencies you get less cake. Which you paid for too! Not only in your stereo gear, but the music itself as well. A professionally mastered recording is sounding good on neutral speakers. A serious test in the life of a piece of recorded music. Consumer speakers are much more music friendly, in the sense that they make even mediocre masters or mislead eq-adjustments sound acceptable. Find out the truth about the music you hear! If you don’t like it with the neutral eq-setting, try different music.

One exception!
If you are desperately un-musical, lowering the key musical frequencies by boosting highs and lows (and pushing the important loudness knob!) will help you move the irritating differences in musical compositions to the background.

Wrecking Crew Movie

via Moritz ®

A film by Denny Tedesco
What is the Wrecking Crew?

The Wrecking Crew were a group of Studio Musicians in Los Angeles in the 60s who played on hits for the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mamas and Papas, Tijuana Brass, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers and were Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. The amount of work that they were involved in was tremendous. …

here’s the trailer

Song List (the links go straight to iTunes):

5th Dimension
Let the Sunshine in/Aquarius
Stone Soul Picnic
Up Up and Away
One Less Bell to Answer

Never My Love

Beach Boys
California Girls
Don’t Worry Baby
Fun Fun Fun
God Only Knows
Good Vibrations
I Get Around
Sloop John B

Mr. Tamborine Man
Turn Turn Turn

Glen Campbell
By The Time I Get to Phoenix
Gentle on My Mind
Wichita Lineman

Captain and Tennille
Love Will Keep Us Together


Close to You
We’ve Only Just Begun

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
Half Breed

Chipmunks Theme

Nat King Cole
Ramblin Rose

Sam Cooke
Twisting the Night Away
You Send Me

And He Kissed Me
Da Doo Ron Ron
He’s A Rebel

Bobby Day
Rockin’ Robin

Taco Wagon

Shelley Fabares
Johnny Angel

Richard Harris
MacArthur Park

Jan & Dean
Dead Man’s Curve
Surf City
Little Old Lady From Pasadena
Balboa Blue

Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Everybody Loves a Clown
Sure Gonna Miss Her
This Diamond Ring

Barry McGuire
Eve of Destruction

Mamas & Papas
California Dreaming
Creque Alley
Dedicated to the One I Love
Monday Monday

Henry Mancini
Pink Panther

Out of Limits
Surfer Stomp

Dean Martin
Every Body Loves Somebody

Scott McKenzie

Are You Gonig to San Francisco

Mary Mary

Chris Montez
Let’s Dance

Ricky Nelson
Fools Rush In

Wayne Newton
Danke Schoen

Jack Nitzsche
Lonely Surfer

Harry Nilsson
Everybody’s Talking At Me (Echoes)

Partridge Family
Come on Get Happy

Elvis Presley
A Little Less Conversation
Viva Las Vegas

Paul Revere & the Raiders
Indian Reservation

Righteous Brothers
Unchained Melody
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Rip Chords
Hey Little Cobra

Johnny Rivers
Poor Side of Town

Tommy Roe

Be My Baby
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Let’s Go


Lalo Schifren
Mission Impossible

Simon and Garfunkel
Mrs. Robinson

Frank Sinatra
Strangers in the Night
That’s Life

Nancy Sinatra
These Boots Were Made for Walking
Drummer Man

Sonny and Cher
The Beat Goes On
I Got You Babe

No Matter What Shape Your Stomach Is In

Nino Tempo & April Stevens
Deep Purple

Tijuana Brass
Lonely Bull
Spanish Flea
Taste of Honey
Whipped Cream
Zorba the Greek

Ike and Tina Turner
River Deep Mountain High

Ritchie Valens

Bobby Vee
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

Hawaii 5-O

Mason Williams
Classical Gas

Roger Williams

Born Free