Enter the Tone Zone with Lovetone’s wild effects
Crafting tones that are uniquely your own can be one of the most satisfying parts of the recording process. The team at Pulp Arts is dedicated to providing you with the tools and expertise to get you the sounds you’ve been dreaming of (and perhaps a few you may not have considered).
Our collection of Lovetone pedals are some of our favorite tools to take sonic alchemy to the next level. These rare and much-revered pedals are most commonly associated with huge and somewhat unconventional fuzz sounds. Lovetones have been used on stage and in the studio by the likes of Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys, The Edge, Wilco, Bootsy Collins, Oasis, and Metallica. You can definitely see and hear Lovetone’s lasting legacy and design philosophy on the booming guitar pedal industry in contemporary manufacturers like Chase Bliss Audio, JHS, Catalinbread, and Death By Audio to name a few. In this post, we’re digging into the history and some common applications of these incredible effects.
Lovetone was a small British company founded by Vlad Naslas and Daniel Coggins in the ‘90s and 2000s. Their large format pedals were decades ahead of the current modular synthesizer resurgence employing LFOs, expression pedals, or control voltage to control multiple parameters within their effects. This level of flexibility and all-analog signal path gives the user the ability to create extremely unusual and personal sounds.
While Lovetone stopped producing new pedals in 2001, Coggins quietly continued pedal design and Lovetone repairs under the guise of Dinosaural through 2009. These days he can still be found consulting on circuitry design with Thorpy FX and can be contacted via his Cogginsaudio website.
Cheese Source & Big Cheese
Lovetone’s Big Cheese pedal may be their most iconic and it’s also one of our most reached for fuzz pedals. It features a versatile silicon transistor-based circuit that has four distinct modes to alter your sound. They include a tone bypass, mid-scoop, mid-boost and a Swiss setting that gates the fuzz, yielding the beloved velcro-like growl. It was recently cloned by JHS as the Cheese Ball.
The Cheese Source pedal takes things even further by combining the circuitry of the Big Cheese with Lovetone’s Brown Source overdrive schematic to give you two gnarly flavors of drive on tap. You can even run the Brown Source and Big Cheese circuits independently via separate outs if a multi-amp set up is part of your live or recording rig.
Notable Cheese Source users include J Mascis, Stephen Malkmus, The Edge, Ed O’Brien, Colin Greenwood, Bootsy Collins, Johnny Marr and Kevin Shields.
Big Cheese Sighting on Ed O’Brien of Radiohead’s Board
Ring modulation can be a polarizing effect as this technique can yield atonal and unconventional sounds, so if you’re looking to get far out then the Ring Stinger will certainly not disappoint.
What is Ring Modulation?
Ring modulation is a form of amplitude modulation that occurs when two signals are multiplied, generally a simple waveform like a sine wave and a carrier wave. This process creates two brand new frequencies which are the sum and difference of the input frequencies. The resulting sounds are brash, robotic, and bell-like due to the complex waveforms created, which are often not harmonically related.
This effect can be subdued by consciously tuning the carrier frequencies to the key of the music you're working in or by altering the speed of the carrier frequency to create more of a conventional sounding tremolo effect. Ring modulation is generally thought of as a guitar or bass effect, but one of the most famous applications of the Ring Stinger was on the truly alien-sounding vocals of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on the title track from Kid A.
The Ring Stinger affords access to modulate the carrier wave directly with control voltage. This can be done with external synthesizers like a Moog Voyager or with audio. Running drum machines into the carrier frequencies input yields particularly cool results!
The Meatball was Lovetone’s best selling effect and can be classified as an envelope following filter pedal. The sound is similar to a wah-wah, but the effect responds directly to the dynamics of your playing. Hitting your strings harder will open the filter more widely. Similarly, a more delicate approach will yield a more subtle effect. Envelope followers are most commonly employed in Funk and are loved by bassists and guitarists alike, but the Meatball’s most notable use in a track is probably Kirk Hammet’s Filter Sweeps on the track “I Disappear”. That said, it’s also been spotted as a modulation source on My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields’ pedalboard at live shows and in the studio of Fat Boy Slim.
Kevin Shields “secondary” board featuring the Meatball for modulation
The Flange with No Name
The Lovetone '? (Flange with No Name)' is a multi-function time-based effect that excels at flange and stereo modulations. That said, in many ways this box is also a simple analog synthesizer. The ? flange is a truly innovative approach to a common effect and can do everything from subtle tape inspired flange tones to severe self-oscillations at the twist of a knob. The wormhole gets deeper when you begin to utilize the pedal’s effects loop. This feature allows you to lend entirely new colors to your favorite external pedals and works particularly well with delays.
While more subdued effects are possible with the ?™ we think it’s best to get weird this one and do your best to communicate with whales through the textures you emit when plugging this one in. This pedal was the last original design produced under the Lovetone brand.
In my opinion, the unsung hero in the Love Tone pedal collection is the Wobbulator dual optical tremolo and stereo panner pedal. Independent tremolos for the left and right outputs allow the user to create wide stereo images that impart a ton of motion onto whatever sound they run through their pedal. The Wobbulator is capable of everything from the fast volume modulations heard in spaghetti western soundtracks to full-on ambient swells. It even has a solid vibrato setting if you want to add pitch modulation into the mix. Highly recommended for stereo amp rigs and for dialing in the atmospheres at the end of your session! Al Doyle from LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip has been known to rock a Wobbulator.
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As a chronic sufferer of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), I can tell you that pedals generally don’t write songs for you, but they will definitely inspire your creative process and take you to new places. The engineers at Pulp know how to coax the best sounds out of our gear and will save you some time in the endless pursuit of perfect tones for your next song. Give us a call at (352) 505-3620 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in the studio.
Written by Steven Head
art by Mariana Mora (@squiglie) | photo by Stephanie Brooks (@s.brooks.photo)
Pulp In Process with Daniel Hanson of Fat Night and Fast Preacher
We spoke to Daniel Hanson on the heels of his latest Fast Preacher release, the Figure it Out Ep. Hanson now resides in North Carolina, but his roots can be traced back to central Florida’s diy communities and then to Chicago where his full band, Fat Night, witnessed meteoric success. In this discussion, the soulful guitarist and songwriter talks about tools, tones, and inspirations that bring his music to life.
Art by Mary Dodd @byebyejune
You worked with us for a fast and furious weekend session to get the majority of the tracking down for your EP. What advice do you have for musicians looking to be as productive as possible in the studio?
I guess it totally depends on the session and what one might be hoping to achieve. The most important thing for me was having the demos of the songs shared with everyone, including the engineer beforehand, so that we were all on the same page.
I’m used to writing and tracking on my own for Fast Preacher. So what starts as a demo often winds up being the final product. Whereas in this situation, it was super refreshing to hash out the foundation of the songs beforehand and have fun when it came time for tracking.
I also think it’s important to do the session with people you feel comfortable with. I made sure to communicate everything I wanted to try before we got started. By the time we got to the studio everything was set up just as we intended it to be.
It’s quite tough to finish an EP in just two days, so you naturally had to spread this recording project across multiple studios. Where did you finish the ep in Chicago? Did working in multiple environments bring something special to your process?
The only other studio I did extra tracking in was Audiotree, which was a special treat. We got strings, guitar overdubs, and some vocals tracked there. The rest was done diy at home and with some assistance from Nik Ritchie at a rehearsal space we use. Rolling with the process and finishing up tracking wherever I could definitely added some character to the EP.
Art by Mary Dodd @byebyejune
What was inspiring you leading to your Fast Preacher sessions this past holiday season?
A transition between living spaces, seasonal change into fall, which doesn’t last long in Chicago but is beautiful nonetheless. We also just wrapped up the Live For Each Other album with Fat Night, which freed up some creative space for me.
Nick Muccigrosso - drums, Daniel Hanson - guitar, vocals, synth, Steve Head - Random studio guy, Nick Bogdon - Bass, Danny Clifton- Engineer
You sent me fairly realized demos of the Fast Preacher material prior to getting in the studio. Do you usually approach recording with a clearly defined gameplan in mind? What creative decisions do you allow to be made on the fly while you’re in the studio?
Yeah, that was a first for me. I’m used to doing practically everything on the fly for Fast Preacher, but considering everyone involved this time around, it only made sense to approach it with a gameplan.
If you go in prepared, without expectations being too high and allow yourself to have fun with the time you have, hearing creative ideas or taking suggestions from others gets a lot easier. This usually starts to happen once you’ve shedded the song a few times and everyone gets a little more comfortable.
There’d be times when someone would play something a little different than what we’d talked about and say, “let’s do it again I messed up”, when in reality it was a nice surprise for me. We’d take our time listening back to takes where there wasn’t a clear consensus on where to go next. A couple times we’d listen and find ourselves stoked about what we missed in the moment and what we thought were mistakes ended up feeling natural enough to keep.
Was there a microphone or any certain pieces of gear that proved to be a game-changer for your sessions?
There was a heavy arsenal of microphones on the drum kit, a lot of which I wound up not using when mixing everything down, but the one that always sounded good was the Beyerdynamic M 160 ribbon mic, used directly in the center of the kit. It was labeled as the crotch mic on the board, because... that’s where it was aimed.
For me, the other piece of gear that was super exciting to use was the Moog Voyager. It was used on “Figure It Out” for the main synth part. The Moog took a while to reign in, but once we got the sound it added such a great texture to the mix.
I have to ask about the fuzz tone on “Stick Together”. What’s the secret sauce?
Yesss, it was tracked DI through the Dark Peppermint Fuzz from Analog.Man. Very little was done in post to get it to sound that way, it just has a sweet tone.
Groove is an integral part of your work in Fast Preacher and Fat Night. How much of each project is tracked live?
For Figure It Out, we had drums, bass, and guitar tracked live for 3 out of the 4 tunes on the EP. The only one that wasn’t live was the titled track. We used a combination of Nick’s brushes on the snare and a pattern I played on the kit looped throughout the song. Even after we got the drum loop down, we still guitar and bass tracked live on top of it.
For Fat Night, up until Live For Each Other, all basic instrumental tracking was done live because we’d performed all of those songs quite a bit before recording them. L4EO was the first record we continued writing tunes as we tracked them. It was a bit of an undertaking, but brought out our creative sides a lot more. 6 or 7 tunes were tracked live with the whole band and the rest started more stripped down.
Fat Night has exploded in popularity over the last few years. What was it like stepping out on your own? I know Gabe has been working on a solo project as well. Were there people telling you guys not to veer away from the band?
It was very refreshing! I was able to apply a lot of what I learned tracking the album with Fat Night to what we did for this new EP with Fast Preacher. I felt more prepared. Yes, Gabe’s releasing music under Gabriel Sayer for his solo work now and it’s brilliant. I got the impression that he was inspired by the recording process of the new Fat Night record as well and took it a step further with ideas that he’d been sitting on. Nik put out a song during quarantine that features all of us as well, which was fun.
I look forward to all of us putting out more music individually and with different projects. I don’t recall any moments when that’s felt like a bad idea or someone’s spoken against it. We’re full of ideas and now’s a good time to spread our wings.
It’s hard to predict anything in a world where Covid 19 still dominates everything around us, but what’s on the horizon for Fast Preacher and Fat Night assuming a brighter and healthier tomorrow?
More music! We’re all a bit spread out now, so sharing ideas will look different for us, but it’ll be a fun challenge. We’ve talked about doing a live show that features everyone in the band’s solo work with a rotating band, which would be a lot of fun, whenever the chance to play live may come around.
Ted Issen, and Nik Ritchie, Gabe Gundacker, Dan Hanson,Photo by Bekah Witt
Behind the Boards 1: Winston
In our first installment of Behind the Boards, Pulp Engineer Winston Goertz Giffen reflects on his sessions with the band Smiley and describes a few of the unconventional techniques that brought the sound of our A room into their record.
When tracking Smiley, I decided to try a couple of different things with the room mics on the drums. In the center of the live room about 10 ft. in front of the drum kit, I made an equilateral triangle with two Earthworks QTC-50s (placed approximately 5mm from the floor to gain the advantage of the boundary effect) with the third vertex being a Shure Beta 58 placed above and between the other two mics and pointed the opposite direction with the polarity flipped. I’ve used the Beta 58 merely as a talkback mic plenty of times and I’ve gotten in the habit of recording it as a room mic since it’s already up. It adds a non-harsh roominess to the snare and cymbals that I’ve grown to like.
Pointing the 58 away from the kit ensures that the drums are in the null spot of the mic’s cardioid pickup pattern, so it’s primarily picking up more diffused room reflections, while flipping the polarity maintains its phase relationship to the QTC-50s. My thinking was that having those three mics aligned on a vertical plane in the center of the room perpendicular to the drum kit would give me options to create a nice balance between the more direct stereo omni pair of QTCs, and the mono, less direct Beta 58. Also, per Steve Albini, when mixing I delayed the room mics 10-20 ms or so to add another dimension to the drums (the Haas effect), sometimes only for certain parts of the song.
Towards the end of the session, the band wanted to record some improvised pieces, which turned out fantastic and actually ended up becoming prominent additions to the album. For one of Becca’s drum improvisations, I attached the QTC-50s to a Jecklin Disc and physically spun around in circles in front of the drum set, creating a bizarre panning effect.
We want to work with you! Send us an email at email@example.com if you would like to find out more about recording at Pulp Arts.
How to Maximize Your Time at the Studio
No matter your genre, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximize your productivity in the studio.
Find the right studio for you
First things first, call studios in your area, schedule tours, and talk to their engineers. You are preparing to make a big commitment with your time and money, so make sure you’ve found the right match for you and your project needs. If you don’t vibe with the space you plan to record in there’s a good chance you’ll leave unsatisfied.
Know thy gear
Come to the studio with a tonal palette in mind and bring the gear that defines your sound. If Fender cleans are what you’re after, then make sure the studio you’re working with has that particular kind of amplifier at their disposal or find a way to get one yourself. Similarly, if you’re looking for some killer low end for your hip-hop or electronic productions, then make sure the studio has the hardware synths or plug-ins you need. Sweat the small stuff! Don’t forget to bring extra picks, strings, and drumsticks. These seemingly small details are easily overlooked, yet contribute in a major way to your tone and comfort in the studio.
Be organized and well rehearsed
You can never be over prepared. The recording studio is a blank canvas with infinite possibilities. Unfortunately, your time there is limited. The artists who walk in the studio with a game plan are the ones that walk out with finished tracks.
Be well rehearsed and have your arrangements clearly defined before stepping into your session. Try your best to make demo recordings of your material before hitting the studio. This will help you to discern what you need to practice and get you in the right headspace for your upcoming session.
Commit to as many practice hours as you need to ensure that you feel like you can nail your performances on the first take. Pressure has a way of compounding in the studio. Vocal or instrumental passages that seemed easy at home can prove daunting when your focus drifts toward the clock and away from your performance.
We strongly discourage the practice of using the studio as a writing environment. This is a risky move artistically and the easiest way to burn through your valuable studio time.
Clients often think they’ll be able to breeze through recording six tracks a day without thinking about how much time goes into each step of the process. We don’t recommend trying to tackle more than two songs a day unless your project is tracking entirely live.
We often suggest separating the recording and mixing process into separate sessions. You can grind it all out from start to finish in one day, but we find that artists make the most informed decisions when they return to their music with rested ears and a fresh cup of coffee.
Communicating effectively with your band and engineer is crucial to your success in the studio. Do your best to cultivate a positive atmosphere in your session and encourage the musicians you are working with. You know you’re on the right track when you can ask bandmates to try another take without hurting their feelings.
Don’t be afraid to ask the engineer for what you need or stress out about expressing concerns about something not sounding right. The engineer wants you to succeed and leave with music you’re proud of and most issues can be addressed with simple solutions.
Time Management and Priorities
Tackle the most time demanding and studio specific aspects of your recording project early on in the session. Recording a drum kit or a grand piano can be a difficult or totally impossible task at home, so make a list of what you absolutely need to get done in the time you booked and hold yourself accountable to it. We love to see bands who have done their homework and break out the whiteboard in the studio.
Don’t let yourself get too carried away with gadgets in the studio. Refining the tonal details in your track is best left handled at the end of the session or by setting aside dedicated time for sonic exploration. Tone-quests will always be an appealing distraction, but it’s generally the performance and not the celestial reverb patch that leaves a lasting impression on the listener.
Remember to relax. You have the incredible opportunity to do what you love and share it with the world. Breathe deep, think about how awesome that is, and put it all into the music. Pulp was built from the ground up with some of the nicest gear in the world, but none of that matters if you’re feeling anxious about the process. Feel free to contact us with any questions and we’ll make sure that you walk into the studio feeling confident and prepared.
By Steven Head