From the depths of the Orange Room in the warm bosom of Koch Manor I write to you on this somewhat dreary November morn. Trying to keep my word of making an effort to keep the content fresh on my website, I thought I would sit down and let the stream of consciousness flow. Maybe a good place to start is to address frequently asked questions that come up during Facebook Live sessions or on Periscope. I do find it a bit amusing that I seemingly answer the same questions over and over again but my gratitude for people actually caring quickly overshadows any annoyance:)
“What rotating speaker effect are you using on the Wildwood vids and on the live clips?”
I have used the NEO Instruments Ventilator, Ventilator II and Mini Vent (usually the Ventilator) for about 5 years now. They are not inexpensive but in my opinion, they sound the best. Especially believable is the slow sound and the ramp up and down. It sounds great with gain and when I run it in stereo it is glorious beyond words. I might start carrying them on my website so stay tuned for that.
“What overdrive and I using?
On the Wildwood vids we first used a Fulltone OCD going back 4 or 5 years. We then switched to a BB Preamp by Xotic. We finally ended up A-B-ing between the clean amp which is a Tone King Imperial and a Friedman Small Box 50 head and 2x12 Cabinet on the second channel for the lead sound.
There have been some issues with getting the best mic’d sound with the Friedman but it has been much better lately. It sounds great in the room and I’m a big fan of getting some room ambience along with the close mic which has been happening more in the later videos. I’m not around when they mix these things or edit them but there are so many videos to edit and get out that one must realize that we are not making “The White Album” and take them for what they are.
My main pedal overdrive going back probably 10+ years is The Gristle King made for me by my buddy Tim Jauernig. It started with me using a clean boost pedal that Tim designed called the Luxury Drive which is transparent and glorious. We then made a signature overdrive for me called The Diabolical Gristle Tone Manipulator or the DGTM for short. I then suggested we put both pedals in one housing called The Gristle King.
The overdrive of the Gristle King is very versatile. It can do the slightly overdriven Tube Screamer thing without the midrange honk or an do a much more saturated thing-both of which sound great at lower volumes if necessary.
T-Rex made the DGTM, Luxury Drive and Gristle King for a while and then it ended for whatever reason. Tim then rebooted, made a few modifications and we came out with the Gristle King III which is even smoother than the original.
There are some mini toggle switches on the Gristle King which shape the tone and control where the clean boost sits; either pre or post gain. I was having the problem of occasionally hitting the toggles when playing and I suggested to Tim, that he make me a version where the toggles are set to the way I like them and then he make them disappear. That version is called The Gristle King Lean.
I had been working with Tim to design a fuzz pedal. I then had the idea of combining the Gristle King with a Fuzz along with a buffer to compensate for active pickups or other signal chain issues that can make a fuzz sound like a crucified transistor radio in heat. The final product is called the Triple Gristle. We are going to do an initial offering of 50 signed pieces and then we’ll take it from there.
There may be some cooperation with a major manufacturer to ease in the production and distribution of these devices but for now, Tim gets home from work from his engineering day job and then goes in his basement and hammers out these pedals one at a time. As orders pile up, it can take a few months to get a pedal once ordered but everyone seems to think it’s worth it.
Through Wildwood Guitars I got into using a Jetter GS-124 pedal which does an excellent job of conjuring a “Dumble” type tone which can be best described as a viscous tone that sits between a fuzz and an overdrive. I used that pedal on my “Vivid Gristle” DVD and CD release. That pedal works really well if you keep it “on” and use the volume knob of your guitar to clean up the sound. It doesn’t get really transparent with the volume down but it’s enough. It’s a bit of a drastic tone change from a clean Fender style amp to the pedal so I found myself leaving it on most of the time when using it. I found myself circling back to the Gristle King because I could replicate the tone of the Jetter with it but the sound on the GK is more complimentary when switching back and forth from the clean foundation tone on the amp.
“When is a new recording coming out?”
In spring of ’17 I will get another recording out come hell or high water. I actually have a recording done but I’m not sure if that’s the one I want to put out right now. I have been doing a lot lately with a groove oriented project with my son on drums, a keyboard player, bassist and conga player. I may go in and hammer out a “live” in the studio record with that lineup which may include some vocals with Malford Milligan who I have worked with in the past on my “Live on the Radio” and “Nationsack” releases.
Well, I think that does it for this installment of the blog. Please make sure to sign up for the mailing list which we promise not to abuse and please don’t forget that the reissue Greg Koch and the Tone Controls T-shirts are now available.
New Site Up
Welcome to the reboot of gregkoch.com. Not to be a shameless capitalist but because I do so many different things; from touring with the band, videos for Wildwood, clinics for Fishman and Fender still (here and there), instructional books and DVD’s for Hal Leonard, columns for various guitar magazines etc…there are folks that might not be aware of the myriad of CD’s, books, DVD’s, pedals, pickups and other what-nots that bear my name. So, I want the website to be a place where all things Gristly can be easily found and procured by those who wish to do so. Not that it wasn’t in the past but I was not very good at communicating with my webmaster about keeping the content fresh and the shop more user friendly. With my wife being my new webmaster, rest assured, stuff will get done regularly.
To be frank, I have been a dismal failure at keeping my appearance schedule updated on my site. I’m a regular Facebooker so my comings and goings are well documented on there but the site has been pretty outdated most of the time in terms of gigs and clinics. My goal is to make sure that all my social media and my website are in lockstep and that there should be no mystery as to where and when I can be heard doing my Gristly business. We are also starting an email mailing list that I hope one and all will sign up for so I can keep folks apprised of any new, exciting Gristly tidbits. I promise not to abuse your email addresses with a constant bombardment of propaganda but only when a tour is going to happen or a new CD or the like, would be ready for launch.
One of the new additions for the shop that folks might like to hear about would be the renewed availability of 2003’s release of “Radio Free Gristle” which was a predominantly instrumental release of progressive, rootsy laced jams with humor injected, vocal vignettes between songs giving the whole thing a maniacal, ‘radio show from hell’ vibe. Initially released on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label, the record was not understood by either the marketing people at FN nor the people at the distribution company so, without any promotional muscle from my end, the record barely got any notice and quickly got swept under the rug. I have recently negotiated buying the record back and I am excited to get this out to a new crowd of people who, understanding my particular sense of humor, might really enjoy it.
I found a small stash of old Greg Koch and Tone Controls t-shirts and have been wearing one on Wildwood videos and on some Facebook live episodes. The shirts have a cool picture of Tone Controls flying over the city of Milwaukee like space ships swooping in for the Gristly Kill. This was always a very popular t-shirt back in the day and folks have inquired about getting one so I’ve printed more up and they are now available here. Let the good times roll!!!!
I think this is a good start. I will be adding blogs regularly and will be much more involved with the site so stay tuned and thanks for all the support!!!!!
The musing of the Gristleman, Greg Koch