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Rig Rundown: Kurt Ballou

Facing a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 38th video in that format.

If you’ve thought to yourself, “this is the most vicious-sounding record I’ve heard,” chances are Kurt Ballou’s fingerprints are on it. Since officially starting in 1995 inside his parents’ garage and eventually opening GodCity Studio’s doors in 2003 (in “Witch City” Salem, MA, no less), Ballou has chiseled out granite tones for bands like Every Time I Die, High on Fire, Torche, Cave In, Old Man Gloom, American Nightmare, and Kvelertak. (“He brings a lot to the table, and he’s been pretty important in terms of how our sound got formed,” Kverlertak’s Vidar Landa in a PG interview on working with Ballou.) Oh, and we can forget his genre-shaping band Converge, that he’s played guitar in since 1990, co-produced since 2001’s hardcore pillar Jane Doe and been the console captain since 2006’s No Heroes.

As you’ll soon find out in this hour-plus episode, the dude is fascinated with every component of guitar tone. In between recording projects and creating new instruments and pedals, Ballou virtually welcome PG’s Chris Kies into GodCity Studio. In this Rig Rundown, Ballou details his own GodCity InstrumentsCraftsman Series 1 (something he calls a “simple rock ’n’ roll machine”), provides a crash course on mics (types and techniques), and shows off additional GCI pedal wares—and a few foreign specimens—that contort, mangle, and destroy any (in the prettiest way possible) guitar’s native tongue.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo2

As you’ll quickly find out, if Kurt can’t find exactly what he’s after, he’ll design something that will get the job done. Above is his first guitar—built under the God City Instruments brand—called the Craftsman Series 1. This one features a chambered mahogany body with a spruce top (“it’s incredibly resonant, snappy, and lively”), set-neck construction (maple neck/wenge fretboard), 25.5" scale, Graph Tech nut and bridge, and a custom-wound, hot Slugjammer humbucker (13k output, 44 AWG). He prefers D’Addario NYXL strings (.011–.052), hammers away with Planet Waves Duralin picks .70 mm (yellow), and Ballou uses a bunch of tunings for Converge, but two of his favorites are “a little out of tune” D standard and one he calls “open Slayer” (C–F#–C–F#–C–F#).

(This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a God City Instruments’ Craftsman Series 1 on a Rig Rundown. For those that missed it, Djunah’s Donna Diane rocked out a wenge-top Craftsman Series 1 in her Rundown in late 2020.)

Kurt Ballou RR Photo3

A close-up of his Malcolm Young-inspired Craftsman Series 1 body.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo4

Need proof that Converge have diehard fans all over the world? Look no further than this Sparrows’ Sons head that was built for (and sent over to) Kurt from their Belarus guitar shop. He doesn’t know much about the circuit, but he notes in the Rundown that early in the signal path sits an active inductor-based midrange boost that sort of acts like a Neve preamp. Another think he mentions is that its gain knob is a dual pot that controls two tube stages at the same time giving the amp a wide range of crunch. (Ballou admits that he doesn’t use it for clean and rather make it a blast furnace of rock.)

The handmade beast (even has handwound inductors) floored Ballou enough that he ordered a second head for his European setup (but has since brought it home). He believes he owns are two of four or five in existence.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo5

The Sparrows’ Sons custom jobber runs into a massive Emperor 6x12 that is loaded with various speakers, but what was mic’d and recorded for the Rundown were a pair of Eminence Texas Heats.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo6

Because he’s Kurt and he’s awesome, not only did he treat this like a recording session, but he used four mics, in four different positions, to show how each works independently and how they work in unison to create a monolithic sledgehammer. The lineup starts (left to right) with an AEA N22 active ribbon mic, Heil Sound PR 30 large diaphragm dynamic supercardioid mic, a Rode (top) Reporter omnidirectional dynamic mic, and an sE Electronics X1 D large diaphragm unidirectional condenser mic.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo7

“One of the nicest things about owning a studio and designing pedals is that I can figure out what do I have a need for,” admits Ballou. And as you’ll soon find out, his biggest (and constant) need is angry, violent, metallic distortion. Starting at the top left (and then going clockwise), we have the Demedash Effects T-120 Videotape Echo. “This is one of the coolest analog delay pedals,” giddily asserts Ballou. He loves the overall functionality of the pedal and its feature set, but the icing on the cake is that when bypassed you can hold down the left footswitch and it will act as a momentary freeze/shimmer/oscillator. Next you have the Shift Line A+ Astronaut III Multiverb Space Unit. Kurt got hip to this pedal when Converge was touring Russia and ventured into a guitar store in St. Petersburg. For this pedal, Kurt’s go-to setting is the reverse shimmer.

The single-knob red GCI design (Oh Yes!) is Kurt’s latest creation (mentions tentatively it may be called Onslaught) that is a “mid-forward, ultimate thrashy, djenty, clanky, articulate, heavy guitar pedal.” The red pedal on the right is Kurt’s first original codesign—the SBD or Super Beatle Distortion—that was inspired by a circuit from Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis’ Creepy Little Fingers. Taking it up a notch, Ballou added in an active mid boost in front of the fuzz circuit. Additionally, he boosts the bass level after the fuzz circuit so it sounds huge.

Next up in green is the God City Instruments OGR (a collaboration with Electronic Audio Experiments’ John Snyder). The Optical Gain Reduction is a compressor that Ballou uses on every bass-recorded track in God City Studio.

Then there is the Foxrox Electronics Octron2 (inspired by the guitar feedback lassoed by Mahogany Rush guitarist Frank Marino) that Ballou uses for thorny solos that bristle with weird overtones and elastic ghost notes. Following that is a newer GCI Crimson Cock (original codesigned with Rob Davis) that is a treble booster loosely based on the Rangemaster circuit with an added range control (a cap blend on the input) and the switch toggles in a Muff stage at the end of the circuit.

The penultimate stomp is the God City Instruments Ape Eye (collaborated with Soursound) that is dirt box centered around the API 2520 discrete op amp. Lastly, we have Kurt’s Jugendstil silicon fuzz that is aptly described on their site: “If there were a Venn Diagram showing the overlap between ‘90s British shoegaze and ‘90s Swedish death metal, Jugendstil would feel right at home in the middle.” And everything was powered by a Truetone 1 Spot PRO CS7.

Kurt Ballou RR Photo8

An unheralded but appreciated tool used by Ballou is this Radial Engineering SGI TX that is line driver system that takes an unbalanced instrument signal and allows you to drive it as far as 300' feet without noise.

Click below to listen wherever you get your podcasts:

D'Addario Auto Lock Strap:https://ddar.io/AutoLockStrap

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Sours: https://www.premierguitar.com/videos/rig-rundowns/kurt-ballou

If you've been wanting a GCI Brutalist Jr. but don't have the time or the soldering skills, here's you chance!

Note that this is a 'home-build' using Kurt Ballou's business card/PCB for the Brutalist Jr. overdrive/distortion.  There are variations, but this is the 'standard version' of the Brutalist Jr. build.  I painted the enclosure utilizing a decal with the dove graphic from the Converge 'No-Hero's' album.  My paint job isn't perfect, but it' came out beautiful & deadly, and I am quite proud of it!  This dirt box is solid as a rock and sounds fantastic. 

From Kurt Ballou (aka GodCity Instruments [aka GCI]):

"Things have been quiet on the GCI front lately, but that’s all going to change in 2017. In the meantime, here’s this thing. It’s my new business card, but it’s also a PCB that can be used to build a really cool distortion pedal based loosely on the Providence Stampede pedal I used during the You Fail Me and No Heroes eras of Converge...  

The Brutalist Jr. is the DIY little brother to the GCI Brutalist, a high powered distortion pedal loosely based on the Providence Stampede SDT-1. It runs on 9v DC power or 9v battery and has controls for volume, loudness (a high and low boost chained into one control), and gain (distortion)."

Sours: https://reverb.com/item/5788152-godcity-instruments-gci-brutalist-jr
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Welcome to Das Musikding Onlineshop

Das Musikding is your online store for building guitar effect pedals, bass effect pedals , guitar amps, bass amps, synthesizer and many other musical related electronics projects. You can get pedal parts or complete kits, for all stages of building experience. Effects are great for guitar and Bass! Guitar effect kits available are Distortion, Booster, Fuzz, Overdrive, Delay, Tremolo, Compressor, Switches, Loopers and many other. We also feature kits and modules by GuitarPCB.com and Molten Voltage Pedalsync. Amp kits are available by Madamp, great kits for a great price. Building guitar and bass effects made easy! You can get resistors, capacitors, potentiometer, knobs, jacks and plugs, aluminium and steel enclosure, transformer, wire and cable and many more things. Manufacturer are Wima, Alpha, Neutrik, Switchcraft and many more. Our shipping costs are low and the prices very good. If you need a special offer, just ask us!

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Sours: https://www.musikding.de/

Godcity Instruments Brutalist Jr. business card PCB distortion pedal kit

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Things have been quiet on the GCI front lately, but that’s all going to change in 2017. In the meantime, here’s this thing. It’s my new business card, but it’s also a PCB that can be used to build a really cool distortion pedal based loosely on the Providence Stampede pedal I used during the You Fail Me and No Heroes eras of Converge. The kit requires basic soldering skills and $40 or so worth of parts.  Small Bear Electronics have been nice enough to put together a parts kit for us, but please feel free to order components à la carte from wherever you like.

The business card is free if you see me on the street or at a show or whatever. I’ll try to keep a few in my wallet and a few in my guitar case at all times. Alternately, they can be ordered for a nominal fee through the Deathwish e-store.

Build details can be found here.



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Sours: https://kurtballou.com/tag/godcity-instruments/

Pedals gci

Ira did not wait for my actions - she ran Sasha's head over my lips. I felt her heat and smell. That's it. I didn't want to think anymore - I wanted to suck her, I wanted to suck this cock.

Show Us Your Junk! Ep. 17 - Kurt Ballou (God City Studio, Converge) - EarthQuaker Devices

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I do a couple more finishing movements, as if sucking the last juices from his flesh, and lie down on him. He is in me. and we are moving away from the wave of pleasure that has covered us in full. As soon as I felt that strength was gradually returning to me. I got up and began to dress.

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