Come see us Saturday night at Llywelyn’s in Soulard at 10:00 pm!
Come see us Saturday night at Llywelyn’s in Soulard at 10:00 pm!
Come see us Saturday, August 10 at The Shack!
3818 Laclede Ave St Louis, MO 63108
Check out our new song, “You Go Blind.” Written by Josh Thompson, Richard Lemoine and AJ Freymuth. Engineered by Richard Lemoine.
You Go Blind
Let us know what you think! Also, please give our other songs a listen, like “Long Lost Love”
Long Lost Love
Don’t forget we have other music in our music player, over in the right hand nav of this website!
Here’s a pic of what You Go Blind look like in our recording program Logic. Fancy Pantsy, huh?
Come see us live at Llywelyns Soulard tonight 7/20 at 10:00pm!
So I have the new speaker installed, now I go for the tubes.
As I mentioned in part 1, I was able to pick up some original, Soviet-era Sovtek 12AX7WB pre-amp tubes at the Midwest Musicians Swap Meet here in Saint Louis. Get a load of the awesome little boxes they came in, complete with the hammer and sickle!
With the preamp tubes taken care of, I now needed to get a set of power tubes. I wasn’t able to find any 6L6’s at the swap meet, so I hit Ebay.
The one thing you have to remember about power tubes is they need to be biased to your amp. Simply buying tubes and plugging them in is not a good idea. Since I don’t have the equipment for this, I was going to need to find someone willing to bias the tubes to this amp’s specs. I came across Sanborn Amplification on Ebay, selling just the tubes I was looking for. After contacting them, they were willing to bias the tubes I bought specifically to my Pignose! What service! Check out the snazzy boxes they came in.
I really wanted to find Sovteks again. Why? Well for one thing they are cheaper on average, and the sound they produce is truly great. Russians, as it turns out, make fine musical equipment, and know how to produce great tone.
With the new tubes installed, the little Pignose is glowing like a Christmas tree. I have since gigged with it a few times, and the difference in sound is obvious both to myself and my bandmates. Think of an old Marshall Bluesbreakers combo. distorts warm and full.
Here’s a video of me playing through the finished product, using my trusty 1971 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.
I have a Pignose G40V I bought new a few years back and have since loved it’s simplicity and durability. Due to it’s portability, and the size of the venues Grand Beauty generally plays, this amp has seen a lot of action, mic’d through our PA. I won’t claim to know the official pedigree, but it supposedly was designed by someone who had something to do with the original Fender Bassman amplifiers. This sucker is tiny, with only a 10-inch speaker, and packs a massive 40-watt punch!
Being as cool as it is, I simply can’t leave it alone. Why? Well, it’s equipped with all Chinese parts. Don’t get me wrong- the Chinese are fine people- awesome food, impressive culture. Not necessarily the best folks to be mass-producing tone, though.
Step number 1 was finding an awesome speaker. My wife and I happened on the Midwest Musicians Swap Meet in Saint Louis, where I found a great vintage Jensen 60’s 10-inch speaker in new housing. I also came across a couple of Sovtek 12AX7WB pre-amp tubes (to be seen in part 2).
Once I got the Jensen home, I had to figure out which terminal was positive, as neither one was marked. I used an old trick, where you electrical-tape both the positive and negative ends of a D-Cell (or 9-volt) battery with wire, and then connect to each wire to a terminal. When the speaker “sucks in” on connection, you have negative polarity. Reverse the wires, and you should see a “push out” of the speaker on connection. This will be your positive polarity, and you can now mark on the casing the + and – terminals, and connect it to your amplifier.
The mounting holes lined up great, and connections were secured. Success! Now my Pignose has a vintage Jensen speaker, rather than the cheap Chinese stock that it came with. Check these videos out. If you listen closely, you can tell a fuller, brighter sound after install. All settings are the same, with the same guitar (my 71 Les Paul Deluxe), paying the same three chords. This, coupled with the tube upgrades in Part 2, will prove an even more massive improvement in sound.
Before speaker replacement:
After speaker replacement:
Guess what- Josh here again. Greetings to all our fans who read this…or just the other members of my band who check in occasionally. Regardless- greetings.
Or drummer is a fine man named A.J. Freymuth. I to this day don’t know what A.J. stands for (no one does, by the way), and honesty would rather never find out. If it stands for anything less than “Ass Jackson,” I will be severely let down. I would much rather avoid that heartache.
A.J. has the awesome and terrible task of keeping our beat steady and interesting, which for any band is a lot to handle. I can say that he does an unbelievably fine job at this.
The drums that he choose for this task is a Yamaha Stage Custom, with two-ply maple and four-ply mahogany. Remo coated pinstripe heads have the quick attack he likes; a fast decay with little overtones.
A.J.’s cymbals are Sabian AAX and HHX hand-hammered. They put out the perfect sound he looks for live and in-studio. Having something that sounds great live doesn’t necessarily mean it translates over to recording. Most performing musicians look for that perfect balance, most often through trial and error.
Pearl Eliminator double-bass pedals allow for fancy footwork, but require little effort. When you put this all together, it gives that aggressive rock-and-roll sound Grand Beauty is know for, but with warm tones and pitch-perfect projection.
On a personal note, since I’m writing this, I can say that A.J. is my favorite drummer, by far, that I have ever played with. Everyone in this band is quite good at what they do, but each also adds a little something that keeps people interested. A.J. can bash with the best, but also has the attention to dynamics and detailed nuances that are lost on so many other drummers.
Josh here again. While tracking “You Go Blind,” Richard had an idea of placing a layer of acoustic guitar over the entire song.
So let’s get something straight. I’m an electric guitarist. I love playing them and staring at them in a dark room with a lit candle. So when Richard first mentioned this, I cursed him violently. After much screaming, crying and puking, I gave in and laid down the track.
The result, to my surprise, is an earthier, more real sound than existed before. More rhythmic tighter, even. Can’t imagine the song without it now, even in the unfinished state that it’s in. So…I guess the moral of the story is always be ready to try something that doesn’t always make immediate sense to you. Also: listen to your bass player.
We were surprised at our show last night by our good friend, and now can quite safely say, biggest fan…
…this is a fan-made Grand Beauty t-shirt
This shirt also features a picture of Josh in a cowboy hat on the sleeve…
He claimed to have bought this on the “Store” tab of this webpage, however we, Grand Beauty, to our knowledge, do not recall any such thing ever being available. Looks great! Perhaps this fan would like a part-time job merchandising?
Now, don’t you want to come see what inspires such devotion? Make plans to get to our next gig!
We’re currently tracking a song we really like called “You Go Blind” at Black Horse Studio. Recording a new song will always start with the entire band playing the song live, with one of us singing a scratch track, in order to keep our place in the song. After this, it’s time to track the vocals.
We’ve always been proud of our harmonizing abilities with each other, as we have been friends now for 20 years. Tracking the vocals takes some pretty advanced equipment, which unfortunately means it picks up every inflection, nuance and wavering of our voice. We have to work quite hard with each part, ensuring the vocal track sounds in key, but at the same time genuine.
What you see in these pictures is without a doubt what we spend most of our time doing in the recording studio. After playing together for so long, we are pretty adept at getting our instrument parts laid out quite quickly. Vocals, on the other hand, are different. We are not trained by any means (nor do we ever intend to be), and taking the time to get the voice sounding right means long hours in front of a condenser microphone.
Keep checking back for the finished track!