Archive for the ‘musician’ Category

People for a Compressed Trey

January 15th, 2009

compressed-treyThis is the sort of story that we gearheads just love.  Being that I was heavily influence by the music of Phish and its guitarist Trey Anastasio in the 90’s, I became a big fan of hollow body guitars used in conjunction with a compressor pedal to achieve loud and clear sustain with a clean, undistorted tone.  Well in the last few years of Phish’s existence, Trey ditched his long-used compressor and his tone took on a darker, edgier and grungier sound which was far removed from its pristine and singing mid-90’s hey-day.

As fate would have it, I was not alone is my disdain for Trey’s tone of late.  The folks over at had been discussing the demise of Trey’s tone and the discussion heated up once the band announced that it would be reforming for some shows this spring.  The conversation got to Trey via his long-time songwriter partner and lyricist Tom Marshall who had stumbled up these discussions.  The following is an excerpt from Tom Marshall’s conversation with Trey Anastasio:

I spent the last two days and last night in New York writing three cool songs with Red. In direct response to msharky’s request, I asked Trey what the deal is with this compressor stuff?.I explained the PT threads requesting that he bring back the compressor. He was very surprised that I was asking him this, because I’m not really a ‘tech’ guy…you know? I also don’t listen too much to old shows, and so the “tone change” was lost on me. I like writing new songs, and I don’t focus too much on the past. First i must explain that he found it funny that I brought it up, because he had been thinking the EXACT SAME THING: Phish is coming back, maybe the Ross should also come back. He’s thinking of the Mesa and possibly the cabinets too — but he does like that little fender.

Basically, he used the compressor differently than people normally do — often people will place it early in the effects chain to smooth the sound going into the other effects. Trey did it backwards, and had the Ross last — AFTER his two tube screamers. The Ross was always on. Always. His signature Squirming Coil “playable sustain” was the result of full volume pedal and both screamers on and pumping that signal into the Ross.

Me: and so you got rid of it?

Trey: I started playing without it after Phish and found that I could get an “edgier” sound that I can’t get with it.

Me: so it’s gone? or just off?

Trey: gone

Me: forever?

Trey: no, I’ve been thinking of bringing it back for a while now…if i can find it!

Well with the news that Trey would consider returning to his old sound if he could find his old compressor, the People for a Compressed Trey banded together to procure one for him!  The future just got a lot smoother!

Sources: Relix, Rolling Stone, Phantasy Tour, Tom Marshall’s Picassa Album

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Classic Rock Covers Live @ The Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO

December 26th, 2008

I’ll be playing with Stone Blue on Saturday, December 27th at The Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO. Classic rock covers. Show starts at 9pm.

Check out more information at

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Baker B1 7 – my entrance into the world of the seven string guitar

March 20th, 2008

Baker B1 7During the mid 90’s when it wasn’t cool to be good at guitar, I eschewed the grundge movement and threw myself into the world of jazz. Being a big fan of “Birth of the Cool” music up through the heavy, funky grooves of Medeski Martin & Wood, I decided to focus my efforts on playing bass with my organ trio (sometimes quartet and quintet), Thique. It wasn’t long before I discovered the power of the bass in music, and the bassist among musicians. Truly, the bassist has the power to subvertly (or overtly for that matter) influence the entire rest of the band through changes in groove, rhythm or harmonic structure. I was truly in awe of this awesome responsibility.

Fast forward more than 10 years later, I found myself looking to influence the music and the musicians I play with in a new way. I wanted a way to extend the range of what I was doing without playing a completely different instrument. I like the way guitar can influence harmony and rhythm. But I wanted a little of that subversion back. Enter the seven string guitar.

Steve Vai can be thanked for bringing the seven string solidbody (seven string guitars archtop hollowbodies have been popular with jazz guitarists for many years) to the masses in the early nineties via his solo album “Passion & Warfare” along with Whitesnake’sSlip of the Tongue” (the latter gig which he took to fund and promote the prior). The seven string solidbody then experienced a renaissance in the late 90’s/early 2000’s when nu-metal bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. However, because of its extended range and ability to be significantly down-tuned plus the addition of more modern amplification options with solid state rectifiers, most seven strings found their way into metal, nu-metal, nu-nu-meteal, etc.

Since the music I enjoy and play is more of an extension of jam bands (fusion of rock, funk, jazz, electronica, etc), I thought it would be really cool to bring the new sonic capabilities of the seven string to that sound… the best of my knowledge it hasn’t been done before. Only problem was most seven strings were designed for extreme metal. That certainly wasn’t going to do.

So enter January 2008. At the NAMM Tone Merchants party I had an opportunity to play a seven string Vigier through a Cornford MK50 II. Wow! What a sound! OK, now I confirmed that I wanted to explore this further. Then, after Suhr Guitars debuted their new “Modern” 24 fret model, there was talk that they might offer a seven string model. Being a fan of Suhr’s work, I was very excited about the prospects. However, that hope was short-lived as the Suhr guys soon found themselves overwhelmed with demand for their new products that had been developed, let alone any items that they might develop. So my dream of a seven string Suhr would have to wait for some time.

Based on my own tonal explorations, I knew I wanted a guitar with a mahogany body, mahogany neck, maple top and Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. The trouble was finding one. There weren’t any mass-produced models that met my needs. Ibanez is probably the most well know main stream seven string manufacturer, but there guitars always had maple necks and I can’t say enough about how much I dislike the sound of a maple neck on a mahogany body. That, and well, I’ve never cared for Ibanezes. I soon realized I would have to go boutique if I wanted anything that was of quality and with the woods that I wanted. I new Gene Baker make a few sevens years ago, but his old company was since out of business and his new pursuits were focusing on more “conservative” models. Luckily I’ve been following the muses of Matte Henderson for some time (extreme seven string enthusiast). I’ve kept in touch with him over time in case he ever wanted to sell any of his custom seven string beauties and he had one for sale…..but it was korina. I learned not too long ago (through a couple of Gene Baker BX3’s) that I greatly preferred the tonal qualities of mahogany over korina…..though they are within the same ballpark. However that interaction brought to mind another Baker seven string that I became aware of at least a year earlier.

My friend Dave Kaplowitz had acquired a fine Baker B1 7 from Joe Gamble (in of all places, about ten miles from where I live in Colorado). As fate would have it, Dave wasn’t really playing the Baker and a deal was struck to bring her back to CO.

While I would have preferred a trem and 25.5″ scale length, I’m more than happy with the quality, sound and playability of this 25″ fixed bridge Baker B1 7. I’m going to experiment with new pickups (the stock Dimarzio Airbuckers are way too dark and hot for my tastes) and some different string gauges (the low A is an .080!), but all in all, I’m very excited about the prospects of developing some new sounds with this guitar. Look out jamband scene of Colorado! This is not Jerry Garcia’s kind of guitar!

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Videos from Winter NAMM 2008 Day 1

January 22nd, 2008

While I’m still combing through all the footage, I’ve compiled a playlist on YouTube of some of my favorite Suhr Reb Beach moments from the show (c0nvention at Tone Merchants party).

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Looking for a groove drummer in the Denver – Boulder, Colorado area

December 4th, 2007

After six months of waiting and false starts, I’m on the quest for a new drummer in Colorado. Specifically, I’m looking for someone that’s into groove-based music that wants to invent something new. Starting points include Medeski, Martin and Wood, Soulive, Stevie Wonder, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth, 70’s fusion, Phish, John Scofield, Thievery Corporation, Telefon Tel Aviv and Led Zeppelin. Ideal candidates will be fearless, and embrace old school methods as well as today’s technology (specifically Ableton Live 6).

For examples of what I’ve been up to most recently, check out

For examples of past work that spans a wide variety of genres, check out

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HRI Denver – Boulder Area Ampfest Recap

November 11th, 2007

Just over a week ago I had the pleasure of hosting the Huge Racks Inc Denver – Boulder Ampfest. This was 7+ hours of tonal ecstasy for those of you who are guitar gearheads. It was amazing to hear everything in one place, side by side. It was also amazing to meet so many wonderful people from the Denver/Boulder and greater area. Now that I think my ears have recovered, I can’t wait to do it again!

01 – Fargen – Dave DeMichaels 80’s Shecter strat.mp3 — this was a Fargen’s version of a Deluxe with more power. Great sounding clean amp with single coils. LOVES pedals. Dave is a gigging musician and his setup is 100% utilitarian and does the job very well. I think the mic was a little far off the cab on this one so the tone isn’t has in your face, but you get a good vibe for what the amp was all about.…..0strat.mp3

02 – Budda – Tom qatcat and his Budda rig with Tylers.mp3 — Tom is a monster player and is was cool to hear him rip through the tones on his Budda Rig (combo and extension cab). He had two Tylers – one was a Landau with the “secret humbucker” which was really, really bright, and the other was a Burning Water. Hear Tom play that Burning Water later in the day through the VH-inspired rigs was just awesome! Big ups to a man that loves Ty Tabor riffage as much as I do!…..Tylers.mp3

03 – Suhr Badger – Pete Lacis.mp3 — I demoed my Badger (as well as switched off to use Eric “Solo-Act’s” Badger as well to see if we noticed any differences. I used my Suhr Classic Swamp Ash with Braz Rosewood Board and V60lp’s – I tried to demo the power scaling here (and got a little clipping as a result on the audio track) — its just a great amp. If anything, I think Eric’s may have sounded a little thicker and darker whereas mine was a little clearer and punchier, but that may be my imagination! FYI – the Badger was demoed through a CAA 1×12 with an Eminence Governor.…..0Lacis.mp3

04 – Ceriatone – NomadGtr Steve and an alder Suhr Classic with Rosewood Board.mp3 — One thing I learned this day was that Steve and I have very similar tastes in our Suhrs! It was a treat to hear him play through his super toneful Ceriatone (before it started to freak out with a tube problem – hence why the clips are so short). During this clip Steve played through his Suhr Alder Classic with rosewood board. The interesting thing about his Classic was that while he had V60LP’s in the neck and middle, he had a V60 in his bridge. After hearing him play through this rig, I handed Steve my Suhr Alder Classic with V60LP’s and a one-piece maple neck to hear the difference……you’ll hear that in clip 5 next.…..0Board.mp3

05 – Ceriatone – NomadGtr Steve and an alder Suhr Classic with Maple neck and Ceriatone.mp3 — as discussed above, after hearing Steve through his Suhr Alder Classic with rosewood board and V60 in the bridge, I handed him mine with one-piece maple neck and V60LP in the bridge to hear the difference. Very cool to hear this stuff back-to-back.…..iatone.mp3

06 – DRZ SRZ.mp3 - I know very little about this amp, but man was it packed full of tones! I’ve never heard such a versatile and aggressive DR. Z. The amp was demo’d by Brent, who was introduced to us all by Chris. Brent is a Grosh afficianado (brought a LOAD of guitars for us to try) and chose a few favorites to demo this amp. That Grosh hollow-body still hanunts me!…..%20SRZ.mp3

07 – Bludo Drive Marshall Flavored Dumble Clone – Kevin.mp3 – Kevin was another guest introduced to us by Chris. Kevin and I also have some similar tastes in guitars and amps (his new korina BX3 still haunts me!). In this first clip, you’ll hear Kevin play his new Marshall flavored Dumble Clone built by a local Denver tech. He played his new-to-him Grosh with mahogany body and maple neck. FYI – this demo (as is the next several) features Chris’ EVH 5150 III cab.…..0Kevin.mp3

08 – Bludo Drive Marshall Flavored Dumble Clone – Pete Lacis.mp3 — After Kevin played for a little bit, he said “Does anyone have any experience with Dumble style amps? Otherwise you’re going to hear VH licks through this thing!” Being that I’ve played the “brown Dumble” at Ultrasound and have played a bunch of other D*-Inspired amps in the past, I decided to step up to the plate with my #1 Suhr Mahogany Standard in tow.…..0Lacis.mp3

09 – Bludo Drive Marshall Flavored Dumble Clone.mp3 — this clip features a few other attendees putting the Bludo through its paces.…..0Clone.mp3

10 – There is no number 10. Apparently as I was naming the files it became obvious that I can’t count. Discuss amongst yourselves.

11 – Cameron Jose Mod Marshall – Chris with VH Tyler.mp3 – And now the VH-inspired amp series. Chris (47SYD47) leads the discussion (and examples here) with his VH set up Tylers (which were SICK) and the 5150 III cab. I would say that from this point on forward things began to get expensive for everyone!…..0Tyler.mp3

12 – Cameron Jose Mod Marshall – Pete Lacis with Les Paul.mp3 – after hearing the tonality of the Cameron Marshall, I had thoughts of Dough Aldrich and Whitesnake dancing through my head. The rest is history.…..20Paul.mp3

13 – Cameron Jose Mod Marshall – Tom qatcat vh licks of doom.mp3 – this is where some of the real fun started. Someone handed Tom his Burning Water Tyler (among some other axes I believe) and he proceeded to SMOKE the room with his “vh licks of doom” – it was sick, sick, fun to watch and listen to him play!…..20doom.mp3

14 – Cameron Jose Mod Marshall.mp3 — you can tell the amps everyone dug because everyone wanted to play through them! Here are a few other attendees taking a shot at this beast.…..rshall.mp3

15 – Cornford MK50H MKII.mp3 – Chris (47SYD47) continues our VH-inspired series through the Cornfor. This is one sweet sounding amp that loves to be loud. Wild the tone this thing gets being that it was 50 watts and has 6L6’s!…..20MKII.mp3

16 – Blankenship with variac – Chris.mp3 – Up to this point we were rocking the master-volume vh amps. Now the gloves are off and the the Variac is on! Just wished we knew about the Marshall Channel, as we were apparently playing through the VOX channel! DOH! This sucker roared!…..0Chris.mp3

17 – Blankenship with variac – Pete Lacis Basswood Suhr.mp3 — after hearing Chris through this amp, I had to try my basswood Suhr through it. This amp was a joy to play through.…..20Suhr.mp3

18 – Blankenship with variac change demo – Pete Lacis Basswood Suhr.mp3 — the great thing about demoing amps with friends is that you can play and adjust an amp as the same time. During this clip, I vamp on a riff and have Chris play with the Variac to demonstrate how it affects the tone.…..20Suhr.mp3

19 – Blankenship with variac – qatcat Tom with cable test.mp3 — No VH amp test would be complete without Tom riffing our heads off. During this clip we also begin to experience with different cables as well as put Tom through some of the effects on my pedalboard.…..20test.mp3

20 – CAA OD100 Clasic Plus – B3 – Korina – Pete Lacis.mp3 – For this demo I’m playing through my CAA 1×12’s with Eminence Governors. This was less formal a test because Kevin had to split and I wouldn’t let him leave without letting me try out his BX3 Korina through my complete rig. Here I demonstrate how I use a low-impedance volume pedal in the effects loop of my amp as a master volume (notice some audio clippage as a result).…..0Lacis.mp3

21 – CAA OD100 Clasic Plus – B3 – Mahogany – Pete Lacis.mp3 — Same rig as above, but now I’m playing Chris’ (47SYD47) BX3 Mahogany as a comparison to Kevin’s Korina BX3. These guitars continue to haunt my dreams!…..0Lacis.mp3

22 – Mojave Peacemaker – Steve Nomadgtr and others.mp3 — the amp fest was running long (we started at noon and it was around 6pm now) and we lost a number of people to their Saturday evening obligations. Their loss! Steve whips out his Mojave Peacemaker through his StoneAge 4×12 and just starts to melt faces. I’ve heard a lot about Peacemakers in that they vary wildly in quality. Well, this was a good ‘un! I think each of the rest of the attendees took a whirl through this rig.…..others.mp3

23 – Soultone – Steve Nomdagtr and others.mp3 — last but certainly not least, this wicked head through the StoneAge 4×12 just killed. This was the other “power scaling” entry for the day and I was equally as impressed with it as the Badger. This was a great, great sounding head. Again, I believe the rest of us in attendance took turns at this amp.…..others.mp3

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Gibson’s new self-tuning guitar

October 2nd, 2007

Gibson’s new self-tuning guitar

Well, this isn’t the first self-tuning system to be available to the public, but its the first made available from a major guitar manufacturer. Since Gibson and Fender are essentially the GM and Ford of the guitar industry, I’m quite skeptical as to the level of quality made available through these mass producers. Then again, after many years of searching for a quality Les Paul I did purchase a 1960 VOS Les Paul Standard within the past year and absolutely love the instrument. I’ll reserve my opinion to when I actually have one in my hands.

Source: Engadget

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