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About lasermonkey

  • Birthday March 10

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    Lost forever in a happy crowd.
  • Interests
    Aeroplanes, guitars, music, wildlife.

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  1. I despise people who are cruel to animals as much as I admire those who show kindness.
  2. I honestly couldn’t tell you what age I was, but I think it was probably when I bought the proper Precision Paint* colours for my Matchbox Beaufighter TF.X. It’s probably fair to say that when you decide that you want the model to look right, it’s probably not a toy anymore. That said, older kits that weren’t up to standard or had got damaged were summarily blown up or shot at. I’ll never forget the way my Frog Ar 234 exploded with the cap and match head bomb we had created. *it’s wild to think that once upon a time, the small market town I grew up in had several shops where you could buy paints such as Humbrol, Airfix, Gloy and Precision Paints. The latter were stocked by a newsagent, of all things!
  3. I’m glad this thread has popped up again, as I’d like to add a few more. The Miles Gemini has been mentioned, but it’s a favourite of mine and I really would love to see a plastic kit released. The same goes for the Miles Falcon. I don’t think anyone has done an A.W. Atlas in plastic, and that’s one I have been hoping for. I’ll also add the Luscombe Silvaire, Chilton DW1, Comper Swift, Auster Autocrat, DH 84, DH 85, DH 87, DH 90 and a whole load of other light aircraft.
  4. Something with a big, burbling radial engine yesterday, though I didn’t catch what it was. Today we had a hummingbird hawk moth on the buddleia. That was unexpected but very welcome.
  5. I have a sneaking suspicion that you would sound like you no matter what guitar or amp you were using. It's funny just how much you can change with no apparent difference in the end result. I remember being surprised to read that Peter Buck (REM) swapped his Rickenbacker/Vox AC30 setup for a Les Paul/Marshall on The One I Love and yet it still sounds exactly like him! My pro musician friend has a deal with Gibson where he gets guitars at cost. He chooses to use Epiphones (Gibson's lower-price brand, for those of us who aren't guitar nuts) as he reckons you get much more bang for your buck, although he does have a few old Gibsons that he uses at home and in the Studio. Speaking of which, when I visited his studio in Seattle, he was using a decidedly budget Mackie mixing console. The sort of thing you might find in small, independent venues or bedroom studios. He has made some great sounding records with it, so you don't need a $1M Neve or SSL console, even if they are nice if you get the chance. He did have the one Focusrite mic preamp, but that wasn't one of their top-of-the-range ones. I haven't played a Mexican Tele, but I always thought the Squier Teles were way better than they had any right to be at the money. I did play a Mexican Strat once, and even though I'm not a Strat guy, I thought it was one of the better Strats I had tried. There's always a point of diminishing returns with any hobby and I think that once you get to the Mexican Fenders, you're probably getting the best quality vs price ratio. My Fender Bass VI is Mexican built. I also miss the days when I had disposable income. The only thing stopping me buying guitars back then was the space to keep them! *sigh*
  6. I used to be a member of a music production/technology forum a fair old while back, but ending up leaving due to rampant snobbery. If you didn’t have the latest multi-thousand pound microphone preamp or had the temerity to own a synthesiser that wasn’t an actual Moog, you were nobody. One of my friends is a professional musician/producer and he couldn’t stand it either. Nice tools are all well and good, but it’s the results that count, whether it’s the quality of the end product or the enjoyment had in the process.
  7. I use enamels and an airbrush and my wife is adamant that I’m a child!
  8. I had a bit of a Cure session last night. I started with Japanese Whispers, which was a compilation album which featured all the songs from three non-album singles. For me, the best songs are Just One Kiss and La Ment, as they both retain the dark intensity that Robert Smith was desperately trying to shed at the time. The preceding album, Pornography, was by all accounts a harrowing experience to make and it’s not an easy listen by any stretch. The singles Let’s Go To Bed, The Walk and The Love Cats were a reaction to that. Interestingly, The Cure were accused of ripping off New Order’s Blue Monday with The Walk, with its octave synth bass and drum machine, but it was actually recorded ahead of Blue Monday, even if it was released later. To counter the upbeat songs, I followed it with Pornography. I mean the album, not pictures of nakey people! It’s intense, dark and mind-bendingly psychedelic. It remains of my favourite albums of all time. After that, I thought I’d give their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, a listen. I get why I haven’t heard it in such a long time. I don’t think it’s aged at all well. Smith was not happy with it, the songs having all been chosen by Fiction Records’s Chris Parry, who also did the production. As a result, Smith insisted on full artistic control for the band on all subsequent records, so it was worth it in its own way. I feel that the record is kinda directionless and only on Another Day and the title track does that band hint at what is to come. So What did make me smile though, the lyrics mostly consisting of Smith reading out a promotional offer from a bag of sugar and has the same kind of camp delivery that made The Buzzcocks so appealing. At the time, Smith was influenced by The Buzzcocks and Elvis Costello and was aiming to do that kind of spiky punk-pop. It was only when he had to step in as guitarist for Siouxsie & The Banshees (the guitarist and drummed bailed on them mid-tour) that he realised what direction he wanted to take, with the next three albums being increasingly dark and foreboding. If nothing else, I feel that Three Imaginary Boys is an important historical footnote., but otherwise unremarkable.
  9. I’ve had a terrible year, moth-wise. On any given night, I could expect to see several of certain species, such as common wainscots, willow beauties, double striped pugs, least carpets, riband waves, dark arches, mottled beauties and various types of rustics. Some nights I’m not getting a single thing. It’s quite concerning. The elephant hawk moths were a very welcome sight. One of them parked up over the day, and my wife was able to see it. She’s not a big fan of moths to say the least, but she’s fine with them during daylight.
  10. A Canadian CP-140 Orion just went over. I had expected it to be a C-130 by the noise, but was very surprised when I looked it up on Free Radar.
  11. My wife has called me an enabler on several occasions. It’s a fair cop.
  12. I got two more pedal circuits up and running today. First was a clone of the Death By Audio Interstellar Overdriver. Now, Death By Audio (DBA) are renowned for their *ahem* unusual way of doing things, favouring back-to-front transistors and weirdly wired potentiometers, amongst other things. The less kind in the pedal making community say that they don't really know what they're doing but to be fair, they have some unique takes, their pedals don't really sound like anything else and they have quite a following. When I plugged the circuit into my test rig, it didn't work at all. A quick look revealed that I had forgotten to cut the necessary bits on the stripboard tracks. I've built hundreds of pedal circuits and never have I done anything this daft before! I cut the tracks, hooked it up again and it still didn't work. With the drive control on full I could get an overdriven signal, but it was incredibly gated (i.e.the sound cuts off abruptly when the input goes below a certain level, rather than sustaining), but backing off the drive, even by a touch, killed the output entirely. I had read that circuits with reverse bias transistors can be incredibly fussy. Although I had built the circuit several years ago, I had done a bit of research and put in transistors with a current gain (hfe) of around 600, as this is what people were saying worked. Well. mine didn't. I removed the transistors and replaced them with sockets so I could easily play around with different transistors. I then tried some higher gain MPSA18 transistors, but these didn't pass any audio at all. I then went the other way and tried some 2N5088s with an hfe of around 350. The circuit sprang into life and sounded more or less like the demo video I had watched. Further experimentation revealed that an hfe of around 450 yielded the best results. It's a thick, gooey overdrive with more than a hint of fuzz about it and I like it enough to put it in the "to be boxed" pile. I also finished another circuit. This one was, I believe, a DIYer's take on the Electric Amp Innovations MV120 amplifier, but as an "amp in a box" type pedal. Rather that use JFETs instead of valves (or tubes if you live across the pond), this uses a dual op amp and both stages are cascaded and have clipping diodes. Now, the MV120 is kind of a modified Matamp style amp, but built in the US. It's favoured by the stoner/doom fraternity, and while I'm one of those sensitive indie kids, (albeit a 56 year old indie kid) I do have a penchant for downtuned, sludgy, doomy guitars. I was intrigued, what with the circuit topology, as to how it would sound. I have built a number of JFET amp in a box pedals, including my own take on old Matamp and Orange amps, but never tried an op amp based one. It's pretty darned accurate, truth be told. Compared to the demo video I watched, it nailed it. Enough that I'm probably going to abandon my own JFET based MV120 project, which is much more complicated and expensive to make. It really does get that loose, fuzzy, vintage stack feel and it has bags of low end. It's a one trick pony, but then you wouldn't buy an MV120 for Fender style clean tones! Doom for days. I must try it with my SG copy.
  13. Whilst in the workshop tonight, I put my LED lights on in the window, after having seen a few nice moths in the garden over the past few days (including an old lady, which settled down for a minute before flying off again. Definitely the biggest one I've seen yet). I managed to get at least four elephant hawk moths, which settled down at various points. I got to see some of them flying around, some of which bounced off me. I tried to coax one onto my hand, but he wasn't having any of it. I got a few photos, which I shall post here soon. One of the other villagers had thirty eight elephant hawk moths in his trap the other day and he took a great photo. I also had a garden carpet (which somehow got into the workshop and had to be rescued), four common footmen, a treble lines, a brown tail, a riband wave and a few more that will require further study.
  14. A few things I have listened to lately: The Demonstration by Drab Majesty. Eighties-inspired, retro synthpop/post-punk mash up. ..followed by Sons & Fascination/Sister Feelings Call by Simple Minds. They were never my favourite band and were responsible for some utter drivel later in their career, but for a few short years, their self-bravado & bluster gave rise to a few stonking albums. ...and the Hyaena by Siouxsie & The Banshees. I've said before that I have lots of unpopular opinions, but for me, Hyaena is my favourite, despite not having the magnificent John McGeoch on it. Instead, Robert Smith does the guitars, though those are more often than not out of focus and deep in the mix. I seem to remember reading contemporary interviews where Siouxsie was saying about how little guitar Smith added, instead plumping for keyboards. What the album may lack in guitar, it more than makes up with ambition. It's their most expansive album, IMO. Cinematic, even. Siouxsie's voice, always a force of nature, is breathtaking on Hyaena and much like the lady herself, equal parts dead sexy and absolutely terrifying. Steve Severin's bass is as melodic and mournful as it ever got. McGeoch once said of him "he's a terrible bass player, but probably the most musical person I've ever met" or words to that effect. And Budgie's drums, when everyone else was whacking gated reverb on everything, are given the space they need and thus don't make the record sound dated. He's my favourite drummer by a long shot. Anyway, I love this record!
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