All wine and no jams make me a dull boy: Tonecraft rocks my home recording world

Happy May Day!

tonecraft bass preEven though my band Nous Non Plus hasn’t been performing or recording lately, I still keep my chops up by writing and tracking my own songs. It’s something that I enjoy immensely and it’s also a way — you’ve seen as much if you visit here regularly — to get our daughters into music.

The professional music and audio world often overlaps with the wine and food world. Off the top of my head, I could name many more than a handful of winemakers and restaurateurs who all played (and continue to play) music professionally or semi-professionally.

My good friend Jon Erickson isn’t just one of the best bass players I’ve ever met and the co-owner of one of my favorite San Diego restaurants, Jaynes Gastropub.

He’s also — and I’m not exaggerating by any means here — a legendary audio designer. In other words, he designs audio devices that are used in the recording arts. The Pacifica microphone pre-amp, an industry benchmark, is arguably his most famous patent.

His newest entry is the Tonecraft All-Tube Direct Input Preamplifier. And I have the great fortune to own one (above) thanks to a wine barter he and I did a few months ago!

Because I record most of guitars, bass and six-string, “direct” (in other words, plugged in directly to the recording device and not by playing them through conventional amplifiers that are recorded using microphones), it’s the ideal pre-amp for my home recording rig (I use the current version of Reason, which includes an audio recording component, and a Apogee Duet analog-to-digital converter).

It’s brilliant: it’s a tube-driven guitar and bass pre-amp that I can plug directly into to my console.

And it also comes with Jon’s “Boostmate,” which allows me to use the Tonecraft with microphones (that need to be boosted in order to work with gear like this).

How does it sound? In the Soundcloud below, the bass and two guitars were all recorded using the Tonecraft flat, with no eq.

And for the lead guitar (my John Carruthers Telecaster), I added distortion by pulling out the volume knob and boosting the gain.

The vocal was also recorded through the Tonecraft, using my RE20 microphone. The claves as well. The tube pre-amp gives the sounds a warmth and depth that thet wouldn’t have otherwise.

I played the drums and keys using Reason (audio software).

All in all, the Tonecraft is a dream device for me as a home-recording songwriter and artist. You just plug it in and it’s like you’re playing through a Fender Deluxe or Bassman depending on how you configure it. I love it.

O and the song? I wrote it for Giovanni (below) for his fortieth birthday week after next.


Buon ascolto! Hope you enjoy the track!

Grab an Mp3 version here and listen to it on a nice stereo if you can.

giovanni arcari

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