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Saturday, July 23, 2016

PRS Johnny Hiland Signature Guitar in Custom Sea Foam Green

In 2009, Sea Foam green was a standard color for the PRS Swamp Ash Special but if a person wanted a Johnny Hiland model in that sexy color it would have to be custom ordered, and, if there was one person you could count on to custom order a Sea Foam PRS, it would be Chris Tugwell, known especially for his collection of Sea Foam PRSi featured in a 2009 issue of Vintage Guitar.

The month that photo ran in VG, the Sea Foam JH under consideration went through final assembly, so, the timing was wrong for it to be included. I don't know how many PRSi of this color Chris ultimately owned but the JH had to be among his final acquisitions because Tugwell passed away at the end of December, 2010.

His PRS guitars were, for the most part as far as I can tell, bought up by guys on the PRS online forums where he hung out.  By September 2012 this guitar had gone back to the factory for a pickup replacement and returned sporting a new set of uncovered 59/09 humbuckers and a wiring change so that the treble pickup could operate in single-coil mode.

By February 2013 the guitar was being sold by Martin Music in Memphis but before it left there it was autographed by Johnny Hiland himself during a PRS clinic. And somewhere along the way it was also autographed by Mr. PRS on the back of the headstock. Also somewhere along the way it lost  its trem cover on the rear (or never had one) and then acquired one. I'm tempted to autograph it! ;)

Not bad: a custom color PRS with all the autographs!

However, that was not the primary motivation for nabbing this axe.

Back in 1988 or '89 I came 'this close' to buying a CE model but I was never enamored of the sounds of PRS guitars. When the HFS pickup came out in the early 90s I thought things were heading in the right direction but it wasn't until the 57/08 pickup twenty years later that I was really blown away. I was looking for a Les Paul when I decided to revisit PRS and I ended up with an SC58. In the last five years I picked up a few other PRSi but I still had in the back of my mind a bolt-on maple neck PRS that would deliver some of that Fender spank.

So, the CE has been on my radar for a long time but it was two later variants that got my attention. The PRS Electric Guitar Book features a photo of a 1997 Sea Foam green Swamp Ash Special that became an object of irrational lust for me -- it was the only SAS that I ever wanted, still, I didn't really want or need that Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails in the middle position and the extra two frets would have been cool. Anyways, I could never find one to buy and none of the later Swamp Ash models (NF, 25th, etc.) did a thing for me.

The Hiland model was another CE variant that I was attracted to but I never found one that I wanted more than, say, a Custom 24, etc., mainly because I wasn't thrilled with the pickups or the wiring scheme that did not include a split coil treble pickup, odd for a PRS with a splittable neck hummer.

You might ask 'Why not just swap out the pickups yourself?' Well, whoever sent this one back to the PRS PTC (and that is where it went) was set back $500 for the trouble. Ouch! And I've been down the pickup rabbit hole and, frankly, there is no bottom. Changing the bridge pickup on my G&L Legacy has become a weekly ritual.

Then, out of the blue, this Hiland in Sea Foam came up for sale at Dave's.

Only 7.4 pounds with a sleek and fast, 24-fret neck, 59/09 pickups that both split. Finally, a CE that hit all the marks.

If you have any further info on this guitar drop me a line: gtroblq at gmail dot com

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The UAD Fender Tweed Deluxe VS the AxeFxII Tweed Deluxe

Honestly, I've never been much of a fan of the tweed Deluxe or Twin amps from Fender. For me, the tweed Bassman is a killer amp, one of my favs of all time (the larger cab and the 4x10 speakers make a huge difference to me) and things got even more interesting in the transitional 'brownface' era, yet, one cannot deny the iconic sound of these amps and UAD has just released a Fender-authorized version of this American classic. I definitely like the fact that I can use it in Console and it sounds very authentic. The problem for me with these early tweed amps is that when they are cranked the distortion is very fizzy and jagged -- not my cup of tea at all. I never found a use for the tweed Deluxe or Twin until I got the AxeFxII+ and, for once, I enjoyed the sound. It's still not my fav by any stretch but I thought it would be fun to crank up both the new UAD version and see how it stacks up with the AxeFx emulation.

UAD is represented in the first minute and the AxeFx in the second.

Personally, I think the AxeFx kills the UAD model. The UAD sounds just like every small tweed amp from Fender I've every played but the AxeFx sound way better.

I tried to set them up pretty much identical and just cranked up the gain.

Either way, you get either an authentic sound or something that sounds better than real life.

Uncompressed .wav file:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What is a Transform Chord? Added Tone Chords vs Suspended Chords

I ran into a piano video the other day and the guy used the term 'transform' to describe adding a second to a chord. 'Transform' chord is junk terminology for the "Added Tone Chord" (e.g., C add 2). Hilariously, he was pounced on by the theory nazis who berated him for not knowing what a suspended chord was, however, the 'added tone chord' (his 'transform' chord) is not a suspended chord, which is, a suspension (replacement) of the major or minor third with, usually, a fourth.

See: Mu Chord

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Fender Sartrecaster

For the player who wants nothing, Fender is proud to announce the all-new Sartrecaster!

Featuring an infinite scale length, n+1 dimensional tuners, and a revolutionary zero-weight vortex body, the Sartrecaster delivers a tonal abyss that will have fans running for the No Exit sign.

Ultimately, you have a choice. 

L'enfer, c'est les autres.

Friday, February 5, 2016

2007 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Brazilian

2007 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Brazilian

You may have noticed a supply of NOS PRS Custom 24s on the market lately. Here's the deal according to Dave's Guitar Shop:

The Custom 24 model featured Brazilian rosewood fretboards until 1991 when PRS switched to Easr Indian but there were occasional spurts of rosewood including the 2003 "Custom 24 Brazilian" series limited to 500 pieces.

This 2007 model (not documented in the 2014 revised edition of the PRS book by Burrluck) differs from the 2003 models in that it features paua shell birds and logo and an Artist grade top instead of a "10 top" (features of the "Artist Package"). The five-way rotary switch has also been upgraded with a three-way toggle and pickup splitter ("coil-taps"). This one also has a 'standard' or 'regular' (now called the Pattern Regular) neck carve.

Interestingly, the guitar sat in the PRS factory for years but it sports a 2013 serial number.  Another interesting characteristic is the custom color. According to the 2007 price list, turquoise
was not an option.

Perhaps my favorite feature is that this Custom 24 weighs only 7 pounds. Ah! I think my SC58 weighs close to 9 so this is a nice change.

It plays like a dream, looks fantastic, and the pickups are great. I really like the 57/08 in my 58 but the bridge HFS is fantastic for heavily distorted sounds. The action was perfect out of the case and there was no need to tweak the truss rod at all.

Dream Theater The Astonishing Review

The Astonishing

Diet pill infomercial music composed by someone with narcissistic personality disorder and delusions of grandiosity. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Mu Chord

What is a Mu Chord? A Mu Major chord is just adding a 2 to the major triad.

It's not a suspended chord because the third in part of the chord: 1, 2, 3, 5

Is there a Mu Minor chord? Sure, why not? The "Mu Chord" is just some bullshit name invented by the Marina Rock dudes in Steely Dan so, go crazy with the Mu.

See: Transform, Added Tone, and Suspended Chords

See also: The Pineapple Chord

Gibson Richlite Fretboards

What is "Richlite"? Basically, it is phenolic resin (think plastic printed circuit board) mixed with paper to keep the heat-cured plastic from breaking. Richlite is nothing more than the affordable countertop material used in kitchens for over 50 years. It's plastic + paper baked together and formed into sheets.

Why would Gibson use Richlite for fretboard material? Because it is cheap and easy to work with. Having the Feds confiscate all your wood for violation of the law might have had something to do with it as well.

Is it good? I guess people will find out when they try to get their guitars re-fretted.

If you prefer chicken McNuggets to solid cuts of meat then you're probably the kind of guy that would not be disappointed with a Gibson guitar with a Richlite fretboard.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Most Albums by an Artist . World Record for Most Albums Made / Recorded by a Musician . Most Solo Records in History

Which musician, band, or artist has recorded the most albums in history? I dug around a bit and as far as I can tell the musician with the most recorded solo albums is Buckethead (a.k.a. Brian Carroll) with 198 as of September 5, 2015. I'm being very specific re. the date because for the last couple of years Buck has released about 5 albums or "Pikes" per month from his Bandcamp page.

I was pretty skeptical that productivity at this pace would mean poor quality but, if you're into riff and shred rock guitar, then you'd be pretty happy with most of these "Pikes." Brian seems like an inexhaustible wellspring of clever and catchy riffs. Though, quite a few of his "Pikes" also swerve off into mellow, introspective territory as well, reminiscent of his Colma album from years ago.

Apart from the "Pikes", Bucket's Discography is very impressive: including stints with Praxis and Guns N' Roses along with solo and side projects, no to mention many contributions to movie soundtracks.

Buckethead is rapid approaching the 400-mark when it comes to recorded appearances when you take in to consideration all the the albums, singles, guest appearances, EPs, videos, soundtracks, etc., and there appears to be no end in sight.

If he doesn't hold the record yet, just wait a few more days, and, he might. While you're waiting, enjoy Pikes #155

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Infinite Ego (Infinity, Go!)

Infinite Ego is a solo artist and the one-time mastermind of the now-defunct avant rock band Savior Onasis (Kansas City). IE’s musings and instructional materials have been used by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), cited in scholarly works, featured in guitar publications, and distributed to students and enthusiasts around the world. IE currently holds forth on his Psychopompos Blog (your current location). 

IE has meddled with electric, acoustic, fretless, and microtonal (19-TET) guitars; bass; guitar synth; lap steel; banjo; oud; sarod; drums and various percussion instruments. 

In the distant past IE was a student of various guitar teachers including the late Bill Brown (Ozark Mountain Daredevils) and learned jazz theory with a former Berklee ‘cat’ who taught in Springfield, MO in the late 1980s. From the early 1990s through 2001 IE gigged around the Kansas City area in various roots-progressive bands. Savior Onasis formed in 2002 and played the Beaux Arts Festival in KC.

IE was the Director of KronoSequence, a creative arts, improvisation, and multimedia project at the Kansas City Art Institute (2001-2003) and doyen of the now defunct online, creative guitar collective, Kronosonic.

Today, IE moderates the all-new Psychopompos Forum for off the wall rock guitar (your present location). ;D
Actually, this forum is now functioning as an archive only. We've moved to a hidden base deep within FaceBook

Reference Points

Inspired by the unadorned, bombastic thrashings of Neil Young and Crazy Horse as well as the socio-political fusillades of Jimi Hendrix, etc., IE began fumbling with the guitar in the early 80s. Enervated by the traditional blues and cover band route, IE was awakened in the late 80s by the appearance of Vernon Reid and Living Colour:

“I was putting on my shoes and heading off for work one day when I heard this crazy guitar solo on TV; I watched and listened in disbelief, called in sick, and pulled my guitar out from under my bed, dusted it off, and tuned up. From that point on I began investigating avant garde and unconventional guitar music. I never gave up my passion for music like Neil Young and Hendrix but I want to enrich those rock currents with unconventional elements derived from individuals and bands that I discovered along the way such as Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Naked City, Vernon Reid, Mr. Bungle, Praxis, Buckethead, Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Marc Ribot, Fred Frith, Hans Reichel, Sonic Youth, among many others.” 


Nineteen Days in the Gulf of Silence (Compilation, 2003)
Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom (2004)
God, Guns, and Guts (2005)
Red Guard (2005)
Move Like You Got A Porpoise (Live at the 2001 Beaux Arts Festival)
The Unraveling Begins (Compilation, 2008) 

IESO Music Streaming and Downloads

Check out the new stuff at Sound Cloud

Tools of the Tirade

IE gets work done at Occipital Sound (kinda like the Fortress of Solitude without all the ice) with a ton of different guitars, amps, and effects, and computers, and whatnot.


IESO and earlier incarnations have been featured, spotlighted, profiled, showcased, and poked and prodded at Guitar One, Guitar 9, Unfretted, Art Whore, Dead Angel,, Zebox, Weirdsville Radio, Chops From Hell, Garage Band, and Sea of Tranquility.

“A chops monster.” Guitar One

“...combine progressive guitar chops and adventurous feats of guitar synthesis with an obvious attentiveness to the compositional design of the song, and you have a foundation for great music. This is one of Ego’s best, and surely a strong indication of better things to come from this ever-evolving guitarist.” Ken Rubenstein

“...his guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. It’s a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun.”

“Did a guitar ever seem so effortlessly played?” Todd Madson/Mad-Sound

“Infinite Ego sure is a tasty, patient player! Enjoy Your Own Damn Symptom is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of rock guitar instrumentals that always manage to slyly de-emphasize the fact that they’re rock guitar instrumentals. My favorite thing about IE’s music is that it always manages to convey a very convincing and very memorable sort of universal cinematic sweep, but you never lose sight of [his] personality and sensibilities either. That’s a hard balance to achieve, but [the album] is an effortless blend of catchy tunes, quirky nuances, and mature rock guitar.” Dan Stearns

“Better heard than described, the music of Savior Onasis will challenge the senses, while transporting the listener to provocative and beautiful places.”

“One of the better guitarists out there. This dude straight up shreds!! (MBI Records)”

“From the distorted alien FX and feedback that mark “The Omniarch” to the solo banjo piece, “The Gulf of Silence,” the first release by post-rock outfit Savior Onasis -- guitarist/leader Infinite Ego, is an almost uproariously diverse collection of instrumentals that run the gamut of rock and non-rock styles. “Where the North Atlantic and Kansas City Collide” is a split between a short volley of accordion, pizzicato violin and brass samples, and two minutes of ambient soundscaping. “Another Damn Blue Shirt” employes a ‘rock & roll’ chamber quartet motif and samples by turntablist Detmold. The album’s crowning achievement is the fourteen-minute-plus “No Other Sign [Shall Be Given]” which looses more bursts of Ozricoid loops at first, but gives way to a tougher power trio demeanor that sounds like Trey Gunn and Steve Hunter on a heavy fusion trip. Ego (playing a seven string) and drummer Kristian Ball rock out and space out in this turbulent journey that serves to proffer more tasty licks than a doe on a salt block. “Steam Engine” is the second cousin of “No Other Sign”, “Gulf” is not dissimilar to what one encounters on Kyle Dawkins’ Solponticello release Conasauga and “June Bug Jelly” also curbs its boisterous veneer to close the album on an acoustic note (two untitled hidden bonus tracks follow). It’s a shame a band of this calibre lingers (currently) in obscurity -- let’s help to change that.” Sea of Tranquility

“Eschewing a ‘signature sound’ Ego continues to develop moment by moment. He plays conventional electric and acoustic guitars, a custom Chris Shaffer 7-string fretless, guitar synth, 19TET microtonal, prepared/microtonal, and dabbles with lap steel, banjo, oud, and sarod. IESO music ranges from straight ahead rock to absurd fusions of postmodernism, roots, ambient, noise, riff-and-shred, and just about anything else that can be tossed into the cultural blender; he’s especially fond of string music from Senegal and Mali and is currently working on capturing kora-like sounds on a microtonal 19TET + fretless hybrid nylon string utilizing a ‘third bridge’ [form of prepared guitar].”

Awards and Reactions

The Stun/Bofatron Sofasaurus project (a grad school social psychology experiment gone horribly wrong) won numerous awards at Garageband (the now defunct music review site that appears to have been clobbered by Apple)

* Best Guitars (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Most Rockin' Track (Experimental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Grooviest Rhythm (Instrumental Rock) March 28, 2005
* Best Keyboards (Alternative) March 2004
* Best Keyboards (again) March 2004
* Song of the Day April 2005, (Instrumental Rock)
* Track of the Day April 18 2005 in Instrumental Rock
* Most Original in Instrumental Rock, 11 April 2005

Stun/Bofatron has become an almost mythical entity by this point. Telling the story of his latest musical instrument acquisition, Jahloon (the UnFretted web master) says: 

... One more thing I knew about the instrument, was the rumour that the shadowy musician Bofatron Sofasaurus had used it on some of his recordings. Bofa had appeared out of the Kronosonic artist's stable, playing well beyond anything deemed humanly possible. Guitar internet forums buzzed as to who he actually was. Some put forward the theory he was a top name, playing what his record company did not approve of. Others claimed the performance was electronically generated, again the degree of artistry deemed beyond human achievement. One thing I did know: Bofa had done some of his performances on the instrument. I did not know which, because many had been pulled from the Internet, but I did have his instruction book. Pretty much full of esoteric musings. We still don't know much about Bofa, he arrived and then he left, and while he was around he dropped some off the edge musical diversions, characteristics like "Transgressive Fluidity" and "Disturbing Shred" were names he gave his style. Then he would espouse scale fragmentation theory, harmolodics, and the tyranny of the Id. Couple that with killer tracks like Jupiter Proximity (death in orbit) and you can see the direction he was headed ...

My buddy Chris Shaffer managed to salvage a page of the old web site from the late 90s via the internet archive that had some fan reactions to BoSo; these were some (good) emails sent to BoSo:

"Your music says so many things...It says the impossible is possible...Time and space can be manipulated.... It says "You think you have heard guitar, wait till you hear this".... Your music is like a thousand wars rolled into one... It is inspirational yet horrifying.... Pure pandemonium! "

"Cool stuff, such a unique sound! Very intense..."

"Holy shit. That's all I can say.
That was the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my life."

“I found your stuff different and interesting. Maybe it's all been done before, but I haven't heard it. Can't exactly whistle it on your way home but demonstrates creativity. Cool!”

"Very creative! I know that's that a word that some people use as "Interesting but too weird for me." But, hey, I'm weird, too, I guess that's why I like it."

"This guy is completely insane. (just kidding) No really, he is so incredibly fast and accurate, it will blow your mind. I can't really compare him to anybody, but the guy is about the most original guitarist I have heard in a long time."

"this is the Holy Grail of shred"

"Welcome to the bizarre world of Bofatron, where the notes fly faster than humanly possible"

"a total assault!! My heart is pounding, my eyes are wide-open, sweat beads are on my brow and my fingers are infused with a life of their own - who could ask for more? Thanks again, keep up the wizardry"

"Wow! You are very cool. Funny, I listened to GPS2 and thought, wow, I want to hear it again. It freaked out my Music Match the second time and played it like 100Xs faster than normalvery strange. :o) Seems to me you could
find a pretty big audience of listeners for your music.

"Dude, is this for real?"

"let me tell you, you are amazingly talented! Good god man! You blow me out of the water. God, I want to get rid of my guitar all together. Well, I won't go that far but DAMN!"

"Full on hyper shred madness!"

"I'm listening to some of your stuff right now... it's amazing. Very bizarre. I can see the Buckethead influence. Do you play out much? I'd love to come to a show."

"Jeez, man. That hurt."

"listening to Stun play has me totally in awe. I'd be ecstatic if I was half that good. Really shows me what is possible if you learn new things or new ways of doing things and experimenting instead of learning Metallica tabs note by note."

"Melee of Bucketheadian Guitaring"

"Wonderful tones. If you can find David Lee Roth (tell him you'll pay him to trim your hedges) You could have the next Van Halen. Fucking great. Eddie wishes he had tones that good."

"I want to thank all of you, especially Stun, for posting your music clips. After listening to them in disbelief, I feel like sitting down and playing. I think I sat in disbelief and bewilderment after listening to Spectre for the first time. Still don't know just what's going on there, but it is unique. "

"I must say that I have been listening to music all afternoon and yours is some of the best I have heard in a while. Great modern sound. I like the themes of your music, as well."


"Where others build edifices of sound, Stun's guitar playing is like a swinging headache ball, plowing through the aural walls of our world and sending all preconceptions to earth in a cloud of dusty feedback. Upon this wreckage he builds strange new structures. Where [other guitarists are] going for the throat of the guitar-hero marketplace, Stun is kicking the marketplace in the groin and bitch-slapping the sucker out of his way. It's a terrible thing to witness -- and a whole lot of fun"

[GPS is] "a good song! the guitar is pretty weird!"

"one of the most freaked out weird guitar styles...."

"can you say 'weird'?"

"Sweet...IS THIS INSTRUMENTAL?!!! add some words..."

“This guitarist [that's me ya know?!] claims Guitar Shred God Buckethead as his main influence. Just what this world needs...more dementia! Give his [music] a listen.”

"Whenever I finish downloading a song of yours and then click the ‘play’ button, I mentally brace myself for a trip without drugs. Sometimes it's overwhelming, and sometimes it's just what I need. That's a wonderful thing, and I thank you."

“Absolutely horrifying. This is the most impossible stuff in the world. Fucking science fiction abilities here man. You really are from another world.”


UAD Precision Limiter vs Toneboosters Barricade

Can a $20 plugin hang with one costing ten times more?

I spent several hours over a few days comparing the Universal Audio Precision Limiter to the ToneBoosters Barricade Limiter, which I already own. The results were both surprising and, really, not that surprising.

Both plugs perform the same basic task: clean brick wall limiting on busses and especially the stereo mix bus.

The UAD PL works and sounds good. No real complaints from me except that UA wants $200 for it.

Auto release works well and the sound is pretty transparent without pumping and with a nice compliment of metering options.

And, of course, the great thing about the UAD limiter is that I can load it into Console, which I cannot do with the TB product.

I often use the Barricade limiter from ToneBoosters (we used to know TB as the highly regarded Jeroen Breebaart suite of plugins). I've known for years that Breebaart plugins are not only good for the money but overall excellent effects. Check out his CV -- this guy knows what he's doing.

Anyway, though I was perfectly happy with the TB limiter I'm always looking for something different -- you never know, you know?

I was somewhat surprised to find that the TB limiter performed noticeably better than the UA offering. The sound was smoother and cleaner -- quite a bit, actually. And, ironically, the Barricade offers a lot more precision over the controls.

The only downer is that I cannot load the TB plug into Console which would be handy from time to time. However, strapped to the stereo bus, the ToneBooster limiter is a clear winner in the sound and control department. I'd give ease of operation to the UAD, perhaps, for the auto release and attack functions for people who might not know where to start with attack and release settings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Infinite Ego Ringtone for your Apple iOS device

That's right, folks, get your very own, first and only, official Infinite Ego ringtone guaranteed to make you bust a move when people or robots call.

Maybe you're wondering just how funky this ringtone is. It's about three times funkier than this image. So get going there, fella.

On your Apple iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc.)

1. Open your iTunes Store app

2. Search for "Infinite Ego"

3. Scroll down to the ringtones results and find "She's Tired of It."

4. Purchase for that low, low price

5. Select this tone as your default ringtone

6. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready for the party to start.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quartersawn Necks and Stiff Action: A Case of Misleading Vividness

You see claims regarding quarter-sawn necks resulting in stiff action. The Eric Johnson signature Strat is often used as an example to support the claim for a relationship between stiffness of playability and the effect of quartersawn wood. We've tackled that one before.

There is no scientific basis for such a claim regarding the quartersawing of maple and resulting stiffness of action which leaves only the beliefs and stories of people making claims on message boards or individuals (random) empirical evidence -- all of which fall well below the threshold of scientific rigor and is insufficient for generalizations.

Keep in mind that we all have beliefs about our gear, and that's perfectly fine, beliefs don't always have to conform to science (for example, I know that my PRS sounds better than your Gibson but I cannot prove it) but when a person generalizes from empirical trial and error or comes to general conclusions from the anecdotes of others, they are running into a logical buzz saw.

As it turns out, I plowed through quite a few threads at an online guitar forum, yeah, that one, and the people complaining about stiff EJ Strats were those who had maple fretboard models whereas the vast majority of EJ Strat owners who claimed their guitars were easy to play owned the rosewood fretboard models. Both models have quartersawn necks so the quarter or flat sawing of the neck wood is not the culprit.

The way people gather 'data' and generalize is really problematic.

Some Guy finds that when he swaps out one neck for another that there is a difference in the action; one neck was quarter sawn and the other was flat sawn. Okay, differences make a difference. But to do this a couple of times and generalize that quartersawn maple results in a stiff action compared to flat sawn necks is a case of what is called "Misleading Vividness." How in the world can Some Guy claim to swap out a whole new neck and state that "nothing changed" but the grain orientation? Hip me to that voodoo, brother! In reality, the whole neck, all its variables, changed. Anyway, on to misleading vividness:

"Misleading vividness (also known as anecdotal fallacy) is anecdotal evidence describing an occurrence with sufficient detail to permit hasty generalizations about the occurrence. It may be used, for example, to convince someone that the occurrence is a widespread problem. Although misleading vividness does little to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive heuristic called the availability heuristic".

Anyways, a guitar may have a stiff action but it is not due to how the wood was cut in the neck. What contributes to a stiff action? All of the following can contribute to stiffness of playability of a Strat but not wood grain orientation:

Neck geometry including radius
Height of strings above the frets
Scale length
String gauge, string material, string condition
Fret size and material
String run behind the nut and saddles (also bore depth in the sustain block).... this probably makes no difference at all. I can find no physics to back this claim
String trees or no string trees
Finish on the neck or absence thereof
Number of 'trem' springs
And the thing nobody wants to think about: player technique

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why is Contemporary Pop Bad and Repetitive?

The stupidity of contemporary pop music is in the news again and the explanations are about as disappointing as the music itself: as it turns out, we're told, our brains enjoy stuff that is simple and repetitive....

Ah, yes, the simple and repetitive reductionism of brains and 'because evolution', etc. Hang on there, Darwin, there's a more complex but also more interesting explanation.

Let's start with the cohort that determines the form and content of popular music: young kids. It's not that kids are just inherently stupid and consequentially enjoy stupid music 'because evolution' or undeveloped mental powers. Rather, like everybody else, kids are attuned to what their peers are interested in. It's that kids are more attentive to popular trends than your average 40-something, but we can all be guilty of following the herd.

Being accepted and being part of a group is important for kids. You're either part of a group or you end up being that dopey loser at the front of the bus with the bowl haircut and breakfast on his neck.

Most groups have a central personality, the hyper-popular boy or girl, that will, to a great extent, dictate the tastes of the group; like what they like or be cast out. If you were paying attention back in the day you'll remember that the most popular kids seemed to be the dumbest. Like total idiots.

You can see where this is going: the willing and active sacrifice of the intellect on the part of group members (Nietzsche) for the sake of collective co-existence and all the emotional effervescence that is gained by group acceptance (Durkheim).

Think back to when you were a kid and reflect on the who the most popular kids were in school. Were they not also the dumbest people you knew? The top jocks? Rocks. The head cheerleader? Duh. Being popular in school is not easy: it takes an endless string of stunts and idiotic pranks to maintain celebrity status and there's nothing sexy about solving for X.

Look at it this way: smart people don't like groups to begin with so the virtuoso group leader tends to be the dumbest and establishes dumb patterns of action and thought. And musical tastes follow this  logic.

See those ding-a-lings in the above photo? They're just ideal-typical (extreme) representations of your average junior high celebrity ding-a-ling.

Unfortunately, stupidity is where the fun is. Freud called it the intellectual poverty of the group. He might have been overly pessimistic but there is a certain truth to that idea of group stupidity, at least when it comes to things like religion, politics, culture, shopping, .....uh, okay, Freud was right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gibson Les Paul VS PRS Bernie Marsden SE

Night and day? I never thought I'd say it but I actually prefer the sound of the Korean import over the 'real deal' 1959 Les Paul.

If I were to hear these two guitars without the backing tracks I suspect I'd go for the Les Paul but within the musical context, the PRS sounds more musical with more punch and a nice smooth bite on the top end. And, geez, you'd save yourself enough money to buy a house and a Mercedes to park in the garage.

Hats off to PRS for delivering a killer axe that anybody can afford.

Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics

What more can you say other than the best soft synth on the market just got better.

I actually interface with the Omnisphere with a Roland VG-99 and it gets the job done.

And the sounds are just amazing. Here is a palette of just a handful of the pads in 24 bit uncompressed wav format:

The Tape Emulation Hot Input Problem

In my opinion, the recording arts peaked in the late 70s and, ever since, every cohort of musicians / engineers / producers has found a way to screw things up in one way or another.

In the 80s it was fizzy preamp gain on master volume metal amps and horrendous overuse of digital reverb on everything.

We had The Loudness Wars that have rendered mountains of albums all but unlistenable due to the misuse of brick wall limiters.

A problem I hear a lot in contemporary releases relates to slamming the front of tape recorder emulations or tape saturation plugins.

This is a variation on the problem of compression being the single most overused effect in recordings.

Just the other day, on NPR, I heard a great song by a new duo, and, while the song was good, the production was horrible because the tape emulation plugin (and I could tell right away that it was precisely a tape plugin) mangled the hell out of some of the instruments, creating not the intended compression and harmonic richness, but, rather, a mangled pumping mess that did not enhance the song at all. Compression pumping can be useful if it brings a track to life but it has to lock into the tempo of the song not grind up against it or stick out of your speakers like a mass of throbbing gristle.

I use a Studer tape deck emulation (UAD) on some instruments and buses but what I've noticed is that every time I use it, the input, while set to zero, makes everything sound horrible.

I think a lot of people naturally assume that setting the input to zero (where it starts at when you open the plugin) is where you want to be -- nobody wants to turn anything down!

But what you get is all redline and tons of distortion. Remember, kids, in the digital domain there is no such thing as headroom. Now, I'm all for distortion (harmonics) but not everything can be slammin' hot or you just get a mess.

Turn the input down so that your fake VU meters actually dance, stay out of the red, and then turn up the output to make up any loss of volume. The result will sound more natural and ten years from now you won't cringe when you listen back.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Chromyte Center Block Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion

Inspired by a forum discussion of bullshitty marketing terms used by guitar companies, I was reminded of the time I bought a Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion II....

I'm standing there looking at the guitar, nice guitar, and the sales dude tells me that one of the special features of this particular model was the "chromyte center block" used to reduce feedback.

Oooo, "chromyte".... I'm wondering what "chromyte" is and conjuring up mental images of exotic, sub-atomic reactions going on in the guitar to make it sound so awesome.

I asked the sales dude what "chromyte" was and as he's looking at me like he has no clue another guy walks by and says, "balsa wood."

Ah, bullshit aside, balsa actually makes a lot of sense. However, once again, you have to keep your eye on those marketing terms designed to confuse and seduce rather than educate.

See: The Gibson "Bumblebee Caps" scam
See: The PRS "Sinker Mahognay" controversy

Sunday, August 9, 2015

PRS Starla Humbucker

The Starla bridge pickup is a great-sounding and versatile pickup that manages to do the nearly impossible feat of providing vintage spanky and clanky tones and sounding fantastic under high distortion situations, and that's not even counting the added flexibility of coil-splitting....this is also one of the few humbuckers that I like split.

For your listening enjoyment, here is a smorgasbord of Starla bridge pickup in the PRS Vela:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

PRS is in the news for buying illegally-poached big leaf maple

Don't worry, Paul, I'll bake a file into a cake....

J&L Tonewoods (owned by Harold Klaus Coopers) purchased illegally harvested tone woods and then sold it off for three times the price they paid for it (more than $800,00) to firms including PRS.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

REAPER 5.0 What's New in Cockos REAPER 5.0?

REAPER 5.0 is rapidly approaching here and inquiring minds want to know what big new features will grace the latest edition of this affordable and powerful DAW.

If you're totally happy with REAPER 4.78, and it's doing everything you need in a stable manner, my recommendation is to not worry much about moving over the 5.0 any time soon. What is new is VST3 support and features for working with video along with a nice default theme developed by White Tie. Additionally, there are a lot of bug fixes (which might be reason enough to upgrade) and VCA and things to make the script kiddies happy.

One of the most requested features, which, at this moment, is just a half-baked hidden fiction that the user has to manually activate, is PiP and it appears that no new work was put into this.

Anyway, check out this article for a more detailed review and an interview with JF.

The complete list of changes are as follows:

v5.0rc14 - August 8 2015
AVFoundation decoder: end of stream decoding tweaks
MIDI SPP: avoid resending SPP messages on play after having sent when stopped
MIDI clock: fixed periodic jitter
MIDI editor: made actions for setting/multiplying grid size behave like 4.x
ReaScript/Lua: 3rd party functions return nil when relevant
Tempo markers: allow removing first tempo marker when it is the only tempo marker
Topmost pins: better positioning for Windows 10 (and Vista/7/8)

v5.0rc13 - August  5 2015
  + MIDI clock: timing improvements
  # Prefs: update track panels when changing group indicator modes

v5.0rc12 - July 31 2015
  # VST3: fixed added FX going offline

v5.0rc11 - July 30 2015
  + MIDI Editor: fixed 'Open MIDI toolbar' actions [p=1549773]
  # JS: fixed gfx_triangle()
  # MIDI Editor: added toolbar actions [p=1549666]
  # Tempo map: control-dragging tempo markers adjust tempo of previous marker
  # VST3: improved rpp format state (encode full GUID in VST line, etc)

v5.0rc10 - July 24 2015
  + JSFX: fixed Blackman-Harris windowing function in gfxanalyzer and gfxspectrograph
  + Metronome: option in i/o menu to allow routing metronome through monitor FX
  + ReaPlugs: fixed windowing in various analyzers
  + ReaVerb: fixed deconvolutation inaccuracies relating to windowing function
  + Region Manager: fixed delete/backspace/etc in the filter box [p=1548830]
  + Resampling: improved quality of sinc filtering (thanks to Tale/Theo Niessink)
  + Track Manager: fixed delete/backspace/etc in the filter box
  # Dockers: better handle switching of styles on OSX
  # FX: separate VST2.4 and VST3 user presets when both versions of the plugin are installed
  # JS gfxanalyzer, gfxspectrograph: corrected power scale for windowing functions
  # Localization: fixed preference help [p=1545633]
  # MIDI editor: don't use tool window mode on win8+
  # Media items: fixed fade shape after split issue [p=1545420]
  # ReaScript: gfx_triangle marks the destination bitmap as dirty [p=1547290]
  # Theme: updates
  # Track panel tint: made v4 theme behavior match that of v4 [p=1545568]
  # VST3: improved .vstpreset support
  # VST3: improved cross-platform plug-in compatibility

v5.0rc9 - July 13 2015
  # File resolving: fixed issues resolving relative filenames with project path set [p=1543465]
  # MIDI editor: fixed arcane toolbar issue [p=1545106]
  # Toolbars: display toolbar-close button for frameless floating toolbars
  # Theme: envcp tweaks

v5.0rc8 - July 12 2015
  # Reverted HT detection, to reappear at a later date

v5.0rc7b - July 11 2015
  + Performance meter: option to show maximum RT block processing time
  # Theme: Fixed layout typo in rtconfig.txt
  # VST3: factory preset improvement
  # Video: OSX topmost button fixes
  # Video: apply topmost state of pin/docker pin when going fullscreen
  # Video: fix for possible EVR hang on XP
  # Video: improved topmost pin behavior with fullscreen

v5.0rc6 - July 10 2015
  # Actions: fixed various last touched FX/FX parameter actions [p=1532030]
  # Improved CPU/HyperThreading detection
  # OSX: fixed Item Properties dialog resetting active takes [p=1543977]
  # Theme updates
  # Toolbars: separators click-through on frameless floating toolbars
  # VST3: fixed preset reload after plugin load for some plugins
  # VST: ignore parameter change notifications when opening UI
  # VST: prevent certain plugins from creating undo point on playback start [p=1542953]
  # VST: support shell plugins (eg, Waves) in Project Bay and recent-fx list
  # Video: fixed preview of item edge edits
  # Video: improved secondary monitor behavior on Windows

v5.0rc5 - July  7 2015
  # Envelopes: fader-volume relative editing tooltip improvements
  # Envelopes: fixed auto-trim of fader-scaled send volume envelopes [p=1541483]
  # FX browser: improved folder remembering
  # Theme: updates
  # Toolbar editor: fixed separator preview display issue [issueid=5611]
  # VST3: fixed export/import of .vstpreset files (this belongs with 5749132f)
  # VST: Removed some old special-case code for u-he plugins
  # VST: avoid creating undo point on loading certain plugins

v5.0rc4 - July  2 2015
  # Envelope/dB-based editing option: one vertical pixel translates to 1dB below -60dB (and 0.2 dB above, unchanged)
  # Envelope: dB-based editing option only applies to fader-scaled volume envelopes
  # Envelope: don't fallback to relative editing when dB-based editing is disabled
  # Envelope: more reactive relative editing
  # Project Bay: improved sorting for FX Parameter tab
  # Project Bay: retain separate sort column preferences for each tab
  # Theme tweaks
  # VST: fixed "Adjust FX" undo points on project load [p=1538770]

v5.0rc3 - June 26 2015
  # FX quick-add menu: sort FX types in the same order as the fx-add dialog
  # JS: fixed volume_pan_sample_accurate_auto for pan envelopes
  # MIDI editor: fixed hang when converting MIDI source with MIDI editor open
  # Media Explorer: more shortcuts pass through to the main window
  # Theme tweaks
  # Theme updates

v5.0rc2 - June 19 2015
  + Project Bay: fixed replace FX in project [issueid=5324]
  + Project Bay: fixed source/item/fx deletion and undo issues [issueid=5315]
  # Mixer: only center list elements if centered text would fit
  # Project Bay: fixed VST2.4/VST3 confusions [p=1534995]
  # Project Bay: use user-created FX instance names in project bay
  # Splash: better formatting of long messages
  # Theme walter/color tweaks/fixes
  # VST: fixed label of fx inserted via vst folders context menu [p=1535692]

v5.0rc1 - June 17 2015
  # API: fixed MIDIEditor_GetSetting_int [p=1534130]
  # API: fixed MIDI_GetPPQPos_EndOfMeasure and MIDI_GetPPQPos_StartOfMeasure
  # Icons: new icons
  # Splash: new splash, about box imagery
  # Theme updates
  # Track name editing: better handle overlap of track name and meter on win32

v5.0pre36 - June  2 2015
  + EDL: support for VIDEO media type in Vegas EDL TXT
  # Theme updates
  # Theme: fixed win32 loading of certain images (session red/blue subtheme fix)

v5.0pre35 - May 27 2015
  # JSFX: fixed some applefilter72db parameter bounds [t=161194]
  # Mixer: minimum size fix for background images
  # Theme:  flow singularity achieved

v5.0pre34 - May 25 2015
  + Media explorer: fixed issues when using pitch preservation and tempo synchronization
  # Media explorer: tempo synchronization video fixes
  # Theme fixes/tweaks
  # Video: AVFoundation error-checking improvements

v5.0pre33 - May 22 2015
  + Media Explorer/Win: fixed various issues vs international characters in 'Windows Explorer' mode [issueid=5271][issueid=5062]
  # MIDI editor: separate actions for loading note names to active channel or all channels
  # Media Explorer: fixed seeking with (imported) MIDI files [p=1522111]
  # Media Explorer: prevent frozen video preview through selected tracks [p=1524275]
  # Theme: monitoring fx button, other stuff, mcp master layouts, hires param knobstacks

v5.0pre32 - May 15 2015
  # MIDI editor: fixed right-click binding of erase notes/CC
  # MIDI editor: only scan two subdirectory levels for note name lists
  # MIDI editor: option to assign note names to all channels [issueid=1404]
  # Media Explorer/Win XP: fixed strange image buttons
  # Media Explorer: fixed seeking when browsing other folders [p=1520669]
  # Theme updates: envcp, transport, bonkers
  # Volume envelopes: fixed fader scaling and writing to vol and pre-fx-vol envelopes at the same time

v5.0pre31 - May 12 2015
  + Windows: fixed color picker potentially "shown" offscreen
  # FX: fixed potential hang on undo [p=1520409]
  # Routing window: improved dB value precision [p=1513927]

v5.0pre30 - May 10 2015
  # API: CreateNewMIDIItemInProj doesn't create an undo point anymore
  # API: fixed EnumProjExtState [p=1518548]
  # API: fixed GetFXEnvelope [p=1517243]
  # API: fixed potential EXTSTATE data loss
  # API: improved GetProjectStateChangeCount (NULL parameter means current project)
  # Media Explorer: added context menu item "Show in explorer/finder"
  # Media Explorer: tweaks
  # Project bay: fixed error messages
  # Theme loading: if layouts specify image paths, fall back to parent directories (if any) for missing images
  # Theme updates
  # Theme: updates

v5.0pre29 - April 30 2015
  + Audio: support for up to 512 channels of input and output
  + OSX: fix for weird behavior in 10.10.3 and 32-bit
  + ReaPlugs: improved touch-automation behavior for various check/combo/edit controls
  # Media Explorer: added option/action to toggle search in folder names/supported media only
  # Media Explorer: added option/action to toggle search in subfolders/current folder only

v5.0pre28 - April 28 2015
  # API: added PCM_Source_Destroy()
  # Media Explorer/NativeBrowser: display modified dates for folders too
  # Media Explorer: added browsing history buttons/actions
  # Media Explorer: fixed accessibility/tabbing navigation issues
  # Media Explorer: improved previous/next file navigation in the native browser
  # OSX: fixed project directory cleanup treating recording files as unused
  # RS5K: Update plugin graphical display when automating ADSR
  # RS5K: fixed intermittent problem when automating sample start/end [p=1515118]
  # Theme and layout love
  # Tracks: properly construct folders when duplicating the last folder track within another folder track [issueid=5430]

v5.0pre27 - April 21 2015
  # Media Explorer: fixed backspace behavior on Windows OS
  # Media Explorer: improved 'go to parent folder'
  # Media explorer: added action to insert selected portion of media item with loop disabled
  # Plugin pin connector: removed sidechain dropdown in favor of a more complete solution which will come at a future time
  # Theme updates

v5.0pre26 - April 20 2015
  + Media Explorer: added option 'Play through selected track'
  + Media Explorer: search in subfolders too
  # Media Explorer: improved play cursor position for MIDI files
  # Undo: added separate configuration for adding points for item/track/envpt selection

v5.0pre25 - April 20 2015
  + Preferences: turned the option 'Create undo points for item/track selection' into 'Create undo points for item/track/envelope point selection'
  # AU: when loading preset state, avoid param-change notification messages [p=1510487]
  # Actions: fixed MIDI shortcuts improperly triggering alt-recording actions [p=1510114]
  # Automation: fixed various issues vs the option 'Allow writing automation to hidden envelopes'
  # Mouse modifiers: stretch marker context supports 'No action'
  # Tooltips: keep tooltips for most item/envelope editings in the track being edited

v5.0pre24 - April 12 2015
  + MIDI previews: automatically disable anticipative FX in routed-to tracks for open MIDI editors
  # Tab to transient: fixed zero-crossing detection typo [p=1508055]
  # Theme updates

v5.0pre23 - April 10 2015
  + Default preference change: disabled 'Allow anticipative FX processing on tracks with open MIDI editors (will increase MIDI preview latency)'
  + VST: whitelist Voxengo plug-ins to use effSetSpeakerArrangement by default
  # Copy/paste: pasting tracks or importing track templates creates new item groups if necessary
  # Elastique: updated to v3.0.9
  # Envelope: fixed adjusted amount in tooltips
  # Envelope: fixed missing guidelines when moving certain segments
  # Envelopes: relative editing of non-volume envelopes, optional in preferences/envelopes
  # Playback: fixed auto-stop on end of project for multiprojects
  # Project tabs: fixed undo point being added for auto-close of fx chain windows
  # Theme updates
  # Video: fixed flipped RGB decodes of DirectShow videos

v5.0pre22 - April  2 2015
  # Fixed volume envelopes sticking at 0dB
  # Jump to time: better marker/region support
  # ReaScript/EEL: extension APIs support optional parameters
  # ReaScript/Lua: extension APIs support optional parameters
  # ReaScript: extension APIs support null/nil project parameters (interpreted as 'current project')
  # Video: VLC 2.2.x support
  # Volume envelopes: better grid lines for fader-scaled envelopes
  # Volume envelopes: fixed 24dB max setting

v5.0pre21 - March 29 2015
  # Envelope actions to increase/decrease envelope points by a small amount now uses 1dB for volume envelopes
  # Envelopes: dB-centric editing of volume envelopes (1dB normal, 0.1dB on fine)
  # Envelopes: moving points/segments shows relative adjustment tooltip
  # Faders: allow +0dB as a maximum fader limit
  # Media item properties: fixed undocked window position restoring
  # Project Bay: improved JSFX title vs filename support
  # ReaControlMIDI: UI fixes/optimizations
  # ReaControlMIDI: fixed pitch automation
  # Transport: doubleclicking time display opens jump-to-time window
  # Volume envelopes: added +12dB, +24dB as options for envelope max display
  # r5 theme support: fixed grid-through-inline-midi-editor for v5 themes [p=1502257]

v5.0pre20 - March 21 2015
  + Project bay: new tab FX parameter envelopes, modulation, and MIDI learn
  # API: export TimeMap_GetMetronomePattern
  # Envelopes: add undo point when changing volume envelope scale
  # Envelopes: fader-scaled volume envelopes snap to +0dB rather than an arbitrary point in the middle
  # Envelopes: fader-scaling fix for take envelope toggling [p=1470951]
  # Envelopes: fixed fader-scaling/amplitude-scaling conversions when copying items and their associated volume envelopes
  # Envelopes: fixed fader-scaling/amplitude-scaling conversions when copying points to/from envelopes
  # ReaScript/Lua: better handle extension API errors (e.g. nil parameters) [p=1499037]
  # ReaScript/Lua: fixed reaper.atexit() not being called in certain instances
  # Transport: fixed potential display corruption on win32 and when docked above ruler
  # VCA combining: fixed output on fader-scaled envelopes

v5.0pre19b - March 17 2015
  # VST3: fixed osx UI support

v5.0pre19 - March 17 2015
  # MIDI: fixed rendering/etc to midi items
  # VCA: Actions to apply VCAs respect envelope point curves
  # VST3: fixed support for UIs that notify frame size changes
  # VST3: improved config chunk support (fixes Arturia plug-ins among others)

v5.0pre18b - March 16 2015
  # Envelopes: apply VCA actions respect selection, oops
  # FX: reset PDC when offlining FX
  # ReaInsert: more sync fixes/improvements especially when muting/bypassing

v5.0pre18 - March 15 2015
  # Actions: fixed switch toolbar actions [t=157294]
  # Envelopes: apply VCA actions
  # MIDI editor: mouse modifier to stretch notes behaves like a normal note edge edit when note is not selected
  # ReaInsert: allow negative delay offsets when using automatic device latency
  # ReaInsert: fixed more potential sync issues
  # ReaInsert: more accurate pinging (zero crossing check, use of DC offset filter, noise threshold
  # ReaScript: prompt to launch or terminate deferred instances, with option "Remember my answer for this script"
  # Tempo map: fixed changing tempo map point between square and linear transition, using context menu
  # Theming: added envcp_knob_small/large images

v5.0pre17 - March 12 2015
  + AU: fixed informing plugins of project repeat state
  + MIDI editor: added mouse modifiers to edit note edges ignoring selection
  + MIDI editor: changed default note edge mouse modifiers to match default media item edge modifiers
  + ReaInsert: improved behavior when using PDC, looping, etc
  # API: added GetTrackStateChunk()/SetTrackStateChunk(), Item, Envelope versions, deprecated GetSetTrackState()/GetSetTrackState2() etc
  # Actions window: show Scripts and Custom actions separately
  # Docking/Windows OS: fixed MIDI editor and Media Explorer not obeying to MIDI/OSC bindings when docked [p=1494274]
  # MIDI editor: ctrl+alt+click now by default selects note and all later notes
  # OSC/Action binding: improved controller value accuracy
  # WALTER: added division and subtraction support (/ and -)

v5.0pre16 - March  9 2015
  # AU: fixed automation
  # Automation: fixed inserting envelope point when take playrate has been edited
  # MIDI editor: display half note triplet grid properly
  # Mixer: properly scale/clip background when minimum size is used
  # Mouse modifiers: added modifer to adjust item contents and right edge
  # ReaScript: do not prompt to launch a new deferred instance, terminate the script instead
  # Send automation: fixed recording automation when send envelope is set to fader scaling
  # Time map: when using project time timebase, always use beats timebase for normal midi items
  # VST: fixed renaming plugins (broken in 948f3383c)
  # WALTER: added trackcolor_valid, trackcolor_r/g/b values for use

v5.0pre15 - February 26 2015
  # Actions: Take/item propagate actions for all tracks
  # Propagate actions: prevent showing lots of take FX UI

v5.0pre14b - February 23 2015
  # API: GetProjExtState() api fixes for EEL/Lua (default to 4mb buffer)
  # API: GetSetObjectState() better handles take envelopes
  # Automation: fixed sample accurate VST/JS automation with non-1.0 project playrate
  # Automation: fixed sample accurate automation with PDC
  # ReaScript: clear extension config state when creating a new project
  # Theme: fixes

v5.0pre14 - February 22 2015
  + Actions: added propagate take and propagate item actions
  + MIDI SPP: fixed SPP sending with project measure offsets at t=0, send SPP when stopped/seeking to t=0
  + MIDI SPP: improved position rounding
  + OSX: CoreAudio latency detection improvements
  + Tab to transient: improved behavior with multichannel media
  + Zero crossing navigation: improved behavior with multichannel media
  # OSC: fixed incorrect FX parameter notifications
  # Theme: fancy theme updates
  # VST: fixed audioMasterAutomate(-1) not notifying undo system

v5.0pre13 - February 15 2015
  + Language packs: packs can specify scale for dialog windows using 5CA1E00000000000=xsc ysc
  # API: replaced GetVolumeEnvelopeScaling with a more generic GetEnvelopeScalingMode
  # ColorTheme Tweaker: updating blend modes clears item prerender cache [p=1474182]
  # Mixer: fixed issues with incorrect display of extended mixer FX-add menu [p=1479533]
  # Replaced DEF_SLIDER2VAL/DEF_VAL2SLIDER with ScaleFromEnvelopeMode/ScaleToEnvelopeMode
  # Take colors: fixed colors for multiple takes in lanes with v5 theme [p=1476282]
  # Take envelopes: set new envelopes to current FX parameter value

v5.0pre12 - February  9 2015
  + Localization: all codecs (wav, video, mp3, etc) dialog boxes and related strings can be translated
  + Localization: new template LangPack
  + Metronome: improved count-in behavior/quality
  + Prefs: fixed track icon alignment setting [p=1473659]
  + WAV reading: support ambisonic WAVE_FORMAT_EXTENSIBLE files
  # API: GetSetObjectState2 supports take FX envelopes
  # API: added CountTakeEnvelopes and GetTakeEnvelope
  # FX browser: fixed video processor appearing in all folders
  # Fixed various localtime() related crashes
  # MIDI editor: preserve triplet/dotted/swing type when changing grid division via action [t=136307]
  # ReaScript: support scripts with non-ASCII filenames
  # Stretch markers: auto-add markers at item edges when modifying due to timemap
  # Volume envelopes: fixed fader restoring when hiding fader-range volume envelopes [p=1470845]

v5.0pre11 - February  3 2015
  + Stretch Markers: improved behavior when changing tempo map/moving items across tempo maps
  + Take FX: duplicating FX copies channel counts
  + Take envelopes: when stretch markers are used, transform via tempo map
  # Automation: do not clear latches when starting playback
  # Automation: fixed FX automation writing when starting playback in write mode [p=1471672]
  # JSFX: desc: line tweaks, many fx get secondary desc lines which include longer descriptions
  # JSFX: updated default FX library, win32 installers allow not installing effects/data
  # Take envelopes: fixed envelopes being both applied and copied when rendering items as new take

v5.0pre10 - January 31 2015
  + JSFX: fixed potential crash from gfx_circle() with bad parameters [p=1467110]
  + ReaScript: toggle state support (script toolbar buttons can have on/off states)
  # API: added GetToggleCommandStateEx()
  # Automation: "render items as new take" copies take FX and envelopes
  # Automation: option to add envelope points following writes when stopped
  # Envelopes: fixed copying fader-scaled volume envelope points
  # FX add: more configurable left pane, improved recall of view
  # JSFX: better shortened names
  # Plugin routing: don't show sidechain dropdown for input, take fx
  # ReaScript: renamed get_context() to get_action_context()
  # Take envelopes: fixed default display-envelopes button
  # Take envelopes: fixed envelopes sometimes not being drawn
  # Takes: reordered buttons
  # Video processors: fixed loading of parameter values from presets
  # Video: fixed take fx automation timing

v5.0pre9 - January 28 2015
  + FX Browser: smart folders (filter-folders)
  + FX browser: options to view JSFX by description and/or filename
  + MIDI learn: fixed action binding corner-case in relatve modes 2 and 3
  + Ripple editing: fixed moving items with other locked items at same position [issueid=5490]
  + Ripple editing: removing time in one-track and all-track mode better respects QN preferences for markers, items, and envelopes
  # Automation: automatically create per-take envelopes when tweaking FX parameters in envelope write mode, if preference enabled
  # Automation: button to open per-take envelope dialog
  # Automation: support for copying per-take envelopes from one take to another by dragging the envelope button
  # Automation: take envelopes obey preference to only draw overlapping above a certain height
  # Fixed "modify MIDI CC/mousewheel" actions
  # VST: fixed some plugins refusing to accept the user setting an .RPL preset
  # Video: allow automation on take FX processors
  # Video: param button for accessing parameters
  # Video: processors support user presets

v5.0pre8 - January 23 2015
  + API: added GetToggleCommandState3 since ReaScripts can't use GetToggleCommandState2
  + API: added RefreshToolbar2
  + API: added SetToggleCommandState to change ReaScript states
  + Automation: increased automation recording speed by 3x
  + Automation: support for recording automation in background projects
  + Automation: take FX automation recording support
  + Config export: include media explorer databases
  + ReaScript: EEL and Lua scripts can query various information (incl. MIDI/OSC input values) via get_context()
  + ReaScript: toggle state support (e.g. script toolbar buttons can have on/off states)
  # API: removed the brand new RefreshToolbars (not ReaScript-friendly)
  # Media item properties: fixed start offset adjustment when using take playrates
  # Ripple edit: ripple-all mode no longer modifies time map
  # Time Map: better bpm-changing behavior when shift-moving time signature markers
  # Time Map: fixed auto-set of allow-partial flag during certain region reorders [p=1462556 part 2]
  # VST3: fixed automation/undo for some plugins
  # Video: changed default decoder priority to favor VLC, ignore more quicktime types for directshow
  # Video: fixed RGB output on WINE

v5.0pre7 - January 18 2015
  + ReaScript: in addition to Python, EEL and Lua scripts support functions exported by extension plugins
  # FX: improved undo behavior
  # Item editing: trim behind mode better handles exactly-overlapping items
  # Time Map: fixed incorrect start offsets generated when reordering regions
  # VST3: fixed Duende crash
  # VST3: fixed plugins closing on undo
  # Video: AVFoundation video encoder fixes/optimizations for YV12 mode
  # Video: improved YV12 odd-edge quality of gfx_fillrect()
  # Video: improved resize logic to avoid subsampling artifacts

v5.0pre6b - January 16 2015
  # ReaScript: fixed Python function wrappers (
  + Time Map: improved time signature behavior when moving/copying regions
  # Theme updates, WT is smug

v5.0pre6 - January 16 2015
  + API: added GetVolumeEnvelopeScaling
  + API: added RefreshToolbars
  + ReaScript/EEL: support functions exported by plugin extensions
  + Time Map: improved behavior when adding/changing time signature marker numerator and/or denominator
  + Time Map: improved behavior when inserting/removing time in project (fixed auto-create of new time signature markers)
  # MIDI editor: option to hide project markers, regions, tempo/time signature markers
  # MIDI export: fixed encoding of linear tempo changes
  # MIDI: mid file writing fixed when ticks per QN is configured higher than 64k
  # Notation: removing notation editor for now. It will be back later.
  # ReaScript/Python: fixed API functions dealing with HWND
  # VST3: scan subdirectories of preset path for .vstpreset

v5.0pre5c - January 11 2015
  # VCA: master mute envelopes apply to slave tracks
  # VCA: pan/width support (uses slave track's pan law/pan mode. Dual pan not supported for VCA, and deprecated classic balance is not fully supported)

v5.0pre5b - January 10 2015
  # VCA: changed VCA implementation, separate VCA master/slave flags, VCA pre-FX slave grouping flag. breaks pre5 VCA in projects completely

v5.0pre5 - January 10 2015
  + API: added GetFXEnvelope()
  + Track grouping: VCA slave track group setting
  # API: added DelteEnvelopePointRange
  # API: added GetOS()
  # Fixed setting of non-timesignature tempo markers
  # MIDI editor: note-off velocities can be edited in a separate lane
  # MIDI editor: show tempo/time signature markers in the ruler
  # MIDI: stop hanging notes when muting MIDI media items during playback
  # Notation editor: context menu to change clefs
  # Notation editor: fixed bad font sizing on OSX
  # Notation editor: improved ties, erasing notes, undo
  # Notation editor: preview notes while editing via the project virtual keyboard
  # Routing: creating or changing a sidechain send does not send MIDI
  # VST3: various fixes relating to preset changes

v5.0pre4 - January  8 2015
  + API: added CountEnvelopePoints, GetEnvelopePoint, GetEnvelopePointByTime, SetEnvelopePoint, InsertEnvelopePoint, Envelope_SortPoints, Envelope_Evaluate
  + API: added FindTempoTimeSigMarker, EditTempoTimeSigMarker, DeleteTempoTimeSigMarker
  + API: added SetMediaItemTake_Source
  + FX: added sidechain dropdown in pin connector window
  + FX: enable parameter learn menu for rec-input, monitoring, and per-take FX
  + Item fades: fixed potential for invalid output in certain but rare fades
  + MIDI editor: project tempo markers can be viewed and edited in a special lane
  + MIDI: note-off velocity support
  + Media Explorer: fixed MIDI/OSC action binding
  + Notation editor. Early days, feedback welcome!
  + Render queue: fixed invalid render directories/filenames in certain instances [issueid=5459]
  # FX: refresh track controls when editing FX parameters
  # ReaScript: fixed docked IDE keyboard support on win32
  # VST3: show parameter context menu when right-clicking on parameter knob, if plugin supports it
  # Video: updated builtin ffmpeg version to include mov container, QTRLE support, ffmpeg 1.2.11
  # Volume envelopes: changed project save/load format for fader-scaled envelopes, for compatibility when running older versions of REAPER (note: projects previously saved with fader-scaled envelopes will not load correctly)
  # Volume envelopes: fixed manual edit of envelope point value

v5.0pre3 - January  4 2015
  + EEL/Lua editor: don't block input from international keyboards
  + JSFX: change font size in editor via Ctrl+Mousewheel (also works in ReaScript IDE)
  + JSFX: fixed last touched parameter when skipping sliders [t=152326]
  + JSFX: support for naming sliderXY variables via @sliderx:varname=defval<... syntax
  + OGG Vorbis: support chained files with heterogeneous channel count
  + Ruler: absolute frames time display mode
  + Time Map: better behavior when changing time signatures
  + Undo: fixed FX envelope edition undo which was also changing lane height
  + VST: fixed incorrect latency reporting when changing pin connections
  # API: added GetMediaSourceLength()
  # API: fixed GetLastTouchedFX()
  # Actions: fixed 'Adjust last touched FX parameter (MIDI/OSC only)'
  # JSFX/ReaScript: fixed partial editor redraws
  # Lua: fixed gfx.getimgdim()
  # Prefs: fixed setting of no track grouping indicator [t=140835]
  # Theme: WIP updates
  # Undo: FX envelope undo internal improvements
  # VST3: .vstpreset import/export support
  # VST3: .vstpreset loading support
  # VST3: improved state save/restore
  # Video: added deinterlace preset, gfx_img_getptr to detect frame changes
  # Video: changed default for new projects to video-on-lowered-numbered-tracks priority
  # Video: fixed YV12 output on OSX for odd image widths
  # Video: fixed video processor window opening before video window on win32
  # Video: named FX parameter support in processors

v5.0pre2 - December 24 2014
  # FX: fixed "last touched parameter" actions responding to FX GUI edits
  # API: added Main_SaveProject, fixed MIDI_InsertNote, improved Get/SetProjExtState
  # Envelopes: fixed volume envelope fader feedback in fader-scaled mode
  # JS: added volume_pan_sample_accurate_auto (example of how to use sample-accurate automation in JSFX)
  # JSFX: fixed automation issues [p=1446341]
  # Theme tweak window: fixed brokenness
  # VST3: automatically scan VST3 path for existing users, once only
  # VST3: don't display categories in FX browser if the user has no VST3s installed
  # VST3: ever-expanding plugin compatibility
  # Volume envelopes: fixed multichannel flat segment support [p=1446227]

v5.0pre1 - December 21 2014
  + API: added Get/SetProjExtState, so reascripts and extensions can save data with the project
  + API: improved MIDI support
  + Action list: merged columns 'Cmd Id' and 'Custom ID'
  + Appearance: added theme tweak window (and removed outdated preferences pane)
  + Appearance: improved theme color tinting support (requires 'version 5' in rtconfig)
  + Appearance: themes can override tint/peaks preferences (such prefs will be disabled in the preferences if so) via rtconfig 'tcptint' and 'peaksedges')
  + Automation: internal changes and performance improvements to FX parameter automation
  + Automation: more consistent behavior when changing FX preset
  + Automation: new volume envelope type that mimics track fader scaling
  + Automation: warn user when changing volume envelope type, because linear envelope transitions will generate different audio depending on the scaling
  + Buffering: updated default worker thread scheduling logic
  + Default preference change: enable 'ignore mouse wheel on all faders'
  + Default preference change: enable 'inform plug-ins of offline rendering state'
  + Do not automatically enable MIDI vol/pan faders when creating MIDI-only sends/receives [t=94841]
  + FX: support for parameters with inverted ranges
  + JS: sample-accurate automation support (individual FX can see the queue of scheduled automation changes while processing an audio buffer block)
  + JSFX: added support for slider minimums being greater than maximums
  + JSFX: editor improvements (scrollbars, multiple editing panes, etc)
  + Metronome: beat patterns can be configured by the user
  + Metronome: new beat patterns can be specified whenever the time signature changes
  + More toolbars
  + OGG Vobis: support chained files with heterogeneous channel count
  + Opus support (
  + Parameter modulation: user-adjustable LFO phase
  + Project tabs: fixed hide/restore of input FX windows on tab switch
  + ReaScript: graphics/UI API (gfx*) extended, added support for Lua
  + ReaScript: integrated Lua 5.3 scripting support
  + ReaScript: new IDE supports syntax highlighting, multiple editing panes, watch lists, structure matching, and more
  + ReaScript: support for running scripts within an integrated development environment (IDE)
  + Ruler/Grid: improved display for frame grid and HH:MM:SS:FF
  + Screensets: better project tab support for FX
  + Screensets: fixed screenset issues with input FX and hardware FX
  + Theming: scrollbar_2 and scrollbar_3 images can override scrollbar images for arrange and MIDI editor respectively
  + VST3: added VST3 support
  + Video: allow user configurable video decoder priorities with per-extension controls
  + Video: configurable video output display latency
  + Video: dockable video window
  + Video: per-source option to not decode audio for video files
  + Video: pooled audio decoders, reducing RAM use for heavily edited videos
  + Video: project framerate is used instead of media framerate to determine display timing
  + Video: projects can now specify preferred video width/height/colorspace, resizing options
  + Video: realtime programmable (EEL) effect processors insertable as track and item FX, items
  + Video: support for AVFoundation video encoding/decoding on OSX 10.7+
  # Fixed toolbar docker sometimes opened with wrong tabs/toolbars

For full log see:

v4.0-v4.7x  - August 2011 - December 2014
v3.0-v3.78  - May 2009 - August 2011
v2.0-v2.58  - October 2007 - March 2009
v1.0-v1.888 - August 2006 - August 2007
v0.2-v0.999 - December 2005 - July 2006