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Cool stuff that works: Gymboss dual timer

Gymboss 2009 PinkWith so many poorly designed, crapola products out there, it’s a rare treat to discover cool stuff that works. Seriously, when I stumble upon something simple, affordable, and functional that actually solves a problem in my life it’s hard to resist the temptation to tell people about it. For social recluses like me, “telling people” equals blogging, so read on!

The Gymboss 2009 dual timer is my most recent source of consumer joy. It’s designed for use in the gym (duh), to help you keep track of intervals, rest periods, metabolic circuits, or whatever special timing your workout involves. But the dual timer function is also useful for reminding you to do other repetitive tasks. Even with the best of intentions, it can be tough to remember to do certain things regularly throughout the day. Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head examples:

Avoiding desk fatigue with scheduled mini breaks (this is a big one for me):
Timer 1: 45 minutes (work time)
Timer 2: 2-5 minutes (get up, stretch, rehab exercises)
Repeats: 2-3 (then take a proper break)

Tracking billable freelance hours:
Timer 1: 15 minutes (time spent doing billable work)
Timer 2: 15-30 seconds (short break to note down billable period on time sheet)
Repeats: 3-4 (then take a proper break before you get back to your billable work)

Guitar Practice:
Timer 1: 2 minutes (practicing a particular exercise)
Timer 2: 60 seconds (rest, stretch, setup next exercise).
Repeats: Say, 10 for a 30-minute practice session.

Kicking procrastination’s ass a la Merlin Mann’s 10+2*5 method
Timer 1: 10 minutes (doing productive work)
Timer 2: 2 minutes (dicking around as a reward for doing productive work)
Repeats: 5. Congratulations, you’ve just worked a productive 50 minutes!

The Gymboss is easy to learn to use, and offers the following useful options:

- 1 or 2 timers
- Manual or automatic repeats (either infinite or a set number of repeats)
- Alarms: High beep, Low beep, Vibrate, High beep + Vibrate, Low beep + vibrate

I bought my Gymboss solely for use in the gym a couple of months ago, and by now I don’t know how I ever managed without it. What I didn’t expect is that this clever little timer would make it so satisfying (in a geeky kind of way) to program my “intervals” for other everyday activities. When something is more fun and satisfying as opposed to just “good for you,” you’re more likely to actually do it.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, it comes in PINK.

Gymboss on Amazon (aff link)

My favorite Guilt Machine review so far

Due to certain gender-specific anatomical limitations, I’ll have to take his word about the peanut butter thing:

PLAG exclusive: Rip Glitter interview

polka_dot_vWhat better way to inject some life into my depleted husk of a blog than by posting an exclusive superstar interview with none other than Rip Glitter.

For those of you unfortunates who are not familiar with the inimitable Mr. Glitter, I strongly suggest you acquaint yourselves with his singular style by reading his (in)famous gear reviews on Harmony Central. Listed below are the 4 confirmed authentic Rip Glitter gear reviews (the pages are long: use your browser’s search function to find the word “glitter”):

It took me ages to muster up the courage to ask Rip for an interview, as I feared that if he found his inbox infected with an unsolicited email request from a far lesser player (and a GIRL no less), I’d be in for a counterblast of sarcasm and vitriol in customary Glitteresque style. Or even worse, he’s just IGNORE me, which would totally hurt my itty-bitty girly feelings.

Fortunately, he turned out to be more of a gentleman than the acerbic tone of his Harmony Central reviews would lead you to believe, and graciously agreed to take a short break from unleashing pure metal fury on his SIGNATURE Jackson Randy Rhoads Flying V to answer some questions for PLAG readers.

‘Scuse me for going all gushy fan-girl on ya, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my humble blog would be graced by an interview with a LIVING LEGEND like Rip. Read on, Chickadees, and learn from the master!

[Warning: probably not safe for work, and definitely not suitable for those of you who are offended by naughty words]

Rip Glitter Interview

LL: The last review of yours I was able to locate on Harmony Central was posted in July 2001. Why have we been denied more of your sage wisdom and insightful analysis since then?

Rip: One word, Lori: fucking posers. You might think that’s two words, but that’s probably because you’ve never had to pull some whiny-ass indie-rocker’s tooth out of your knuckle because he showed up at your last show — because “he likes all kinds of music,” or so he tells the two people who read his blog — and then he grabbed you by the shoulder of your authentically-forged paladin’s armor and asked you where you take “lessons.” First off, any real rocker knows that there’s only one music that matters, and it starts with an M, ends with an L, and in the middle is a whole lot of face-blistering punishment. Also, true demons of metal know that there’s only one way to learn to shred like the masters (and by “masters,” I mean Mr. Randy Rhoads, of course, who counts as more than one person because his solo on “Mr.Crowley” is still stomping the shit out of every fifteen-year-old wannabe rocker who thinks a Fender Squier and a Steve Vai tab book is going to turn him into a royal bitch magnet). If you want to handle your axe like a real metal maniac, you need three things: a quality axe, a copy of Rust in Peace, and a basement where your mom fears to tread.

Anyways, the reason I stopped blessing the masses with my reviews is because, as usual, some dimestore (not DIMEBAG, mind you) punks wanted to get a little attention for themselves, and started writing up their own gear reviews and posting them in my name. I mean, did you see that Dean Markley Pro-Mag bullshit? Do I fucking LOOK like I would ever touch an acoustic guitar, except maybe to whip out a quick version of Satyricon’s “Min Hyllest Til Vinterland”? (That’s Swedish for you pussy-ass poser bitches out there who think metal starts in Florida and ends in Mexico. Or maybe it’s Norweigian. I don’t give a fuck, those dudes are arcane forest kings who get chicks leaking like my Camaro’s fuel line.) So after I realized that my good and rockin’ name was being associated with things like acoustic guitars and unnecessary bullshit they sling to moms at Sam Ash on birthday buying sprees, I decided that I was done trying to teach the masses of unlearned “musicians” out there what it means to be truly dedicated to musical perfection. There’s a few out there who seem to appreciate my advice, and all those metal maniacs can join me anytime for some cold brews and some rocking out on Dino’s porch.
LL: In your reviews you mention participating in several bands/projects (i.e., SLUTBANGER, LETHALICON, and a brief stint with RABID WOLF). What have you been up to lately music-wise? Still unleashing uncaged metal mayhem at the Greenbriar community center?

Well, LETHALICON disbanded right after we put out our 6-song CD-R EP, “Harvesting the Bitches.” Some fatass librarian (who I thought was cool) over at the Greenbriar Community Center turned out to be just another puppet for the corporate non-rockers who couldn’t handle my metal-infused Glitter cream being shot all over their faces once a week. She said she had a whole bunch of letters about “noise complaints,” “public nudity,” “mailbox urination,” that sort of bullshit. If you ask me, she was just pissed that she couldn’t cram herself back into a studded leather skirt and a halter top and get the metal injection she obviously wanted. So after my drummer puked up half an ashtray onto some little kid browsing their “Recommended Reading” display, we had to pack it in. After that, we tried to hook up with my buddy Dino’s brother’s band, GOATS OF THE NORTHERN WASTES, in their weekly set at Chuck’s Auto Body, but then our lead singer got a fucking girlfriend, so I was done with that. You know what I mean.

As for RABID WOLF, fuck that band. I saw Jimmy the other day when I was mowing his dad’s lawn, and he was all like “Good to see you,” and blabbing about some new power-pop crap band he started that just got signed to a three album deal. And I was like, “Dude, that’s great, except that it’s a shame you’re such a pussy ass bitch.” Then he got all pissed off and tried to kick me off his property, but I wasn’t going anywhere, because once you let them start pushing you around, you aren’t rocking. You might as well just sell your amp, buy yourself a drum machine and a computer, and start “rocking” while sitting on the couch and making shitty music for dudes in glasses and sneakers. Oh, and his dad owed me twelve bucks for the lawn, so fuck if I’m leaving without that shit.

Anyways, SLUTBANGER just finished up a five-city tour in northwest Wisconsin, and right now we’re taking a break because our rhythm guitarist (a.k.a. “pussy guitarist”) started crying about losing his hearing and shit like that. Lori, you know as well as I do that guitarists who can’t handle the gain, can’t handle the fame. So Dino and I started flyering the record stores looking for a “Metal-Souled Guitar God to Join Voracious, Thrash-Rocking Metal Squadron with More Ultra-Melodic Ball-Ripping Brutality Than Maiden’s Last Tour.” Of course, just so you know, that’s pro-gear or no-gear, because I don’t need some short-haired chubby with a Danelectro and a Pignose trying to step up on my stage. Anyways, if you know someone, let me know, and I’ll send them a flyer. I’m not sure if we put a phone number on there, but they’ll figure it out.

LL: Did your little brother Randy ever metal up so you two could jam? And more importantly, did he ever LEARN TO KEEP HIS GREASY PAWS OFF YOUR SHIT?

Oh, fuck, listen to this: a couple months ago, my mom had a bunch of her church friends over for their book club. So me and Dino are in the basement, throwin’ back some brews, modding up this Diezel amp he picked up. So he cranks it up and I start whipping out Kreator’s “Storming with Menace,” because, you know, I’m not a bitch. So I’m just down there, letting my soul fill with blistering metal madness while Dino slams his head against the wall, and Randy comes downstairs and UNPLUGS MY FUCKING AMPLIFIER. He said he was yelling for like ten minutes, which I said was clearly not true, because “Storming the Menace” isn’t more than like four minutes long, unless I feel like stretching my metallic muscles over the fretboard and showing the people – or at least Dino – why the Dark Lord himself handed killer metal dudes myself the great gift of rocking out.

So I see Randy’s hand wrapped around the amp cord, and I don’t know, I think I blacked out. All I know is, when I came to, I was sitting on the living room couch, my brand-new “Snake Cage”-style leather pants unzipped, my Jackson V in one hand, and a bloody hunk of hair in the other. Meanwhile, I can hear Randy in his room, screaming like a front-row piece of tail at a Tesla concert, and my mom’s up there trying to make him stop. I guess what happened was, I grabbed Randy by the throat and ran up the stairs, slammed him onto the kitchen table – right in the middle of book club – ripped off his shirt, and raked his armpits with a cheese grater that was lying around. I mean, it’s not like the kid had much going on there anyway, so I don’t understand what all the crying was about, even if he lost some skin. But of course, mom starts bitching and one of her friends starts telling me to stop hurting Randy, but I just unzipped my pants and told her what she could do with that mouth of hers. Well, I ended up sleeping in Dino’s garage for a few days, because mom was being a pain about the whole thing. She told me I could come back, but I decided that my rocking lifestyle couldn’t be cramped anymore by my “sensitive little brother,” so I’m crashing at Dino’s for good. As for Randy, who knows, he’s probably crying somewhere, that’s all that kid ever seemed to do.
LL: How are your SIGNATURE Randy Rhoads Jackson V and Peavey 5150 holding up over the years?

That’s right, SIGNATURE. I’m glad you remembered. Some punk at the last Stormwarrior show said he saw my band and he loved the paint job on my ESP. ESP?! I couldn’t believe this kid. I fucking unleashed the tiger that night. They booted me from the show, but not before I pounded that kid’s face like I was Deicide and he was a double bass pedal. Anyways, I got so pissed off that I decided to have Dino rework the paint job, and so now its got those wicked dragon skulls all over it.

As for the 5150, you probably know what happened. Thanks to my reviews and the many sample cassettes I sent in to Peavey, they decided to release the 5150 II. Now, obviously it would have been better if they had named it the 5150 RG, because we all know whose gear reviews inspired them to take unadulterated metal perfection and crank it up beyond human comprehension. But no, they put Eddie’s name on the thing again, which is fine, because we both know I’m no fucking sellout. Besides, I’ll get enough attention when my new Asian-metal side project HIROSCREAMA shows up at next week’s Kane County Talent Fair. Oh shit, I said too much already.

LL: Between all those double shifts at Walgreens, the lawn mowing gigs, rehearsals/shows with your various bands/projects, and spending quality slutbangin’ time with your amigo Dino, you are one helluva busy guy. What advice can you give my readers about how to get the best results from limited practice time?

Anybody who says they don’t have time to practice is just admitting that they are a pussy-ass bitch, and they probably don’t have enough coordination to handle more than a couple of Pentagram tunes before complaining about their limp wrists and wheelchair rental fees. You read any interview with a truly triumphant guitar god, and you’ll see the same thing every time: they never let their axe leave their hands. They sleep with it, they bring it to work, they put it on the seat next to them when they’re riding the bus. Back in the 90’s, when I was trying to get SLUTBANGER more gigs, I tried to get booked at my mom’s church under the name CATHOLICK as “guest musicians.” When I went in to meet with the priest, he got all pissy because I kept doing scales on my V while he was asking me stupid questions like “What sort of music we play.” I mean, do you SEE this fucking guitar? Do you think these fucking wolves are for show? What do you think I play? I didn’t know priests were such fucking posers. Anyways, after a while, I told him I wanted to check out the stage, which he said was an altar, but all I know is it put me dead center, where hundreds of slavering metal worshippers could look up at me and benefit from my sermon of ear-shattering harmonic triumph. So I’m standing on that thing, fingering Morbid Angel riffs and imagining all that sweet plaid-skirted church poon slicking up those benches as they watched my crotch cobra thrust its way across the stage, and meanwhile this dude in a dress is telling me he’s going to call the cops. I mean, what the fuck? Anyway, the point is, you don’t stop rocking, ever.

LL: Who are your main influences as a guitarist?

I can’t believe you just asked me this question.
LL: In your experience, which is the more effective chick magnet: a hot car, or a hot guitar?

Let me put it this way: how many braless playmates do you see showing up backstage at a car show? Don’t even waste my time with this bullshit.
LL: What do you think about the following:
Mullets (hairstyle, not fish)

Mullets are for dudes who hang out in sports bars and play “Devil Went Down to Georgia” every time they hit the jukebox. Any guy who has a mullet is just saying, “I’m too much of a pussy to be a real rocker, because I’m afraid of what my parents might think.”

This interview is about five seconds from being over. So either you take your shirt off, or you give me a real question and stop wasting my time.

Amp modelers (like the Line6 stuff)
Who would want an amp modeler instead of the real thing? Any guitarist who’s worth anything knows that if you want an amp, you work whatever shitty job you have to, save that cash, and then run down to the store and plunk down the cash with a big “Fuck you” look to the pretty-boy counter jockey who’s standing in the drum section thinking he matters. Amp modelers just tell people, “Hey, I’m not really into being a triumphant warlord of rock, I just want to fuck around and sound like Radiohead or whatever shitty art band is using equipment from the 70’s that I can’t afford.” I mean, let’s face it: Line 6 Pods are for spoiled teenagers and middle-aged businessmen who want to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but are too much of pussies to put a full stack in their basement and tell their moms and wives that they can suck it. Which is probably good anyway, because Stevie Ray Vaughan was a pussy, too. Anyways, yeah.

Chicks who play guitar (sorry, had to ask)
Look, let’s be honest here: chicks who play guitar just wish they were guys, because everyone knows that the most balls-down-your-throat solos were all written by rocking metal dudes. Plus, even when blazing metal leviathans wuss out and write sensitive crap to make their girlfriends happy, it’s just to get pussy, so unless a chick is into that – which is hot, don’t get me wrong – she’s already screwed. Chicks don’t have that hot metal erection that we dudes have, that burning desire that makes us want to spit blood, bang poon, and stand atop a mountain, unleashing note after note of symphonic musical doom.

As for you Lori, well look, you’re obviously pretty hot, and I can dig that. And if you hadn’t moved all the way to Greenland or wherever the fuck you are, I can guarantee you’d be staking out my van, just waiting around the Walgreens parking lot for a chance at sampling the goods. Unfortunately, you holed yourself up on some farm somewhere, bought yourself ProTools and an amp modeler, and convinced yourself that a true guitar god uses things like “arpeggios” and “sweep picking” and “chords,” and you play shows where guys just come to watch because they’re hoping you bought some new spandex that week. And that’s what the chicks do, they practice all the time, trying to get noticed, when we both know that no chick has ever achieved true metal messiah status. Why? Because they don’t have true filthy metal coursing through their veins. I mean, look at your Youtube videos – have you noticed how you’re always sitting down? I mean shit, you might as well put on a frilly dress and have yourself a little tea party with all your sorority sisters. Nobody can properly rock out when they’re sitting down!

So my advice to you is, come back to the States, and I’ll show you what being a guitarist is all about: hot licks, fast hands, and a little bit of crotch-pumping to get the crowd going. After that, maybe we’ll play some guitar, too. You know what I’m talking about.

Reader Questions: Recording the Newborn Race solo

From time to time I receive questions about what equipment I used to record a particular solo, like the one below from Lainee (sent via Myspace). Apart from guitars, my setup has basically been the same since 2005, so I thought it would be worth a post here.

1) I really love your tone on New Born Race. I think I saw once on a video that you were using a Pod Pro thru a Marshall, and was wondering what you recorded that solo through? Also the envelope filter/wah effect you are using in it, what is it? I love it, It’s sort of bubbly round and screamy all at the same time (can’t find a better description) – I just cant seem to come up with that tone/effect my self (always comes off sounding more ‘whiny’ and ‘thin’ rather than screamy and round)

First of all Lainee, thanks for the compliments! In the video below, you can see the solo Lainee is referring to (playback version for the album trailer):

recording_setupFor Newborn Race I used the bridge pickup on my Luna Andromeda, the Pod Pro, and the Dunlop 535-Q wah pedal, recorded directly into my computer’s sound card (the photo shows the whole chain). I always record with no added effects or EQ. During mixing, Arjen made many adjustments: EQ, compression, limiting, short reverb, long reverb, and delay. EQ usually involves hunting down and reducing any ugly frequencies, and often adding a bit of top. It depends on the solo sound used, and the characteristics of the backing.

You mention having a problem with only getting thin, whiny sounds. The only solution I know of is to try a load of different wah pedals until you find one you like. So far the Dunlop 535-Q is my “go to” wah, but sometimes I use a Bad Horsie II. The Dunlop Crybaby classic seems good as well — that will probably be the next wah pedal added to my own collection.

Another thing you can try is to “tune” your wah by opening it up and adjusting the range of the pot under the treadle to find the “sweet spot.” (see img below)


2) Your trem technique is brilliant, so fluid. Was wondering (for example on the Luna andromeda) when you set up your trem, how many springs do you have on the Floyd to get such a smooth and fluid motion and tone with it?

luna_tremThere are 2 springs on my Luna Andromeda (9-42s, standard tuning).The number of springs will depend on what gauge strings you use and whether you tune to standard pitch or some other tuning.

All of my guitars’ bridges are set up to be “floating,” which means that I can pull slightly up on the bar as well as press downwards towards the body. Floating trems have both advantages and disadvantages: you get a silky smooth trem action, but have to be careful when muting so as not to press too hard on the bridge and make the tuning go sharp. In general, tuning takes longer with a floating trem (for me, anyway).

I hope this answers your questions, Lainee. Best of luck with your music!