Frequently Asked Questions

Some to address questions about this website, some to address questions about gear.

Monetary Gain from Volunteer work
Pic w/Watermarks
Text embedded as Images
Unconventional Backgrounds
Want to Own Vintage Gear?
Want to Fix Your Own Gear?
Want Free Repair Advice?
Modifying EQs
Aging CMOS and Memory ICs
Digital vs Analog Filters
How to Balance Music, Life, Family
Unlicensed Sampling
Sampling Artists are NOT Musicians
DIY Cables
Swapping Guitar Amp Speakers
Replacing Old Components
My Favorite Synthesizers Which Moog for Bass Sounds?
My Favorite Effects The 24/7 Power Myth
50 Year Old 100% original Guitar Amps

Monetary gain from my volunteer work
I don't like lazy deceivers using my volunteer work for monetary gain.  I especially got tired of unscrupulous auction or classified sellers using my web page contents to advertise their products - it is a misrepresentation of the product they are selling.  So I have had to resort to techniques to prevent my work from being exploited. top

Why do your pictures have visible watermarks?
Some of the images I used are from associates and are copyrighted.  Many of them are my own.  However I got tired of my volunteer work being exploited.  In today's world of simple copy/paste, the text on my webpages are also "seeded" so they cannot be easily used in item descriptions.  If you would like to use an unmarked image from my website, feel free to email me under "Contact". top

Why do you embed your text as images?
To prevent their use as sales pitches for auctions and classified ads.  I got tired of my volunteer work being exploited.  Seems that "seeding" the text didn't always deter unscrupulous sellers, so the good stuff has been replaced by watermarked images. top

What possessed you to use unconventional backgrounds for your pictures?
I was putting together an inventory of my gear and was inspired by the pictures in Tom Wheeler's Guitar Book in which there were many pictures of guitars with nature features in the background.  I used to rent a farmhouse and had used the barn, the blueberry field, the garden, and other surroundings as backdrops.  I look for scenic spots such as public parks (spot the one with the ducks in the distance!).  I also used the occasional railroad artifact as a background as a vague reference to another hobby of mine - choo-choos. top

My Favorite Synthesizers
RA Moog Minimoog the crown jewel of my collection. Still the king of analog synths (not counting modulars). Retrofitted with MIDI.
Moog Source Great bass and lead machine, closest thing to a programmable minimoog although short on modulation options. Good arpeggiator synth too. Retrofitted with MIDI although the mod wheel and volume can't be controlled via MIDI.
Moog Voyager Where the Minimoog and Source lacks in modulation or MIDI, the Voyager fills that gap.
Moog Taurus I Low end solid fundamental bass doesn't get better than this. Too bad there isn't a decent MIDI retrofit.
Moog Taurus III Programmable version of T1 with MIDI. The only synth that duplicate the elusive Taurus preset. The low end and beef are just as good, they nailed it.
Moog Memorymoog I learned a LOT of analog programming on this beast. Hot-rodded to stay in tune, I still gig with it! The standard that I measure polysynths against, hardware or software.
Moog Polymoog My first analog polysynth. Did a lot of gigging with it but has been redundant with the Memorymoog in my arsenal. No MIDI retrofit possible. Kinda neglected lately but the only synth I am sentimental about. I made short legs and made it a cool coffeetable.
Alesis Andromeda Closest thing to a programmable modular synth and my polysynth for gigging so I can leave the moogs and oberheims home
ARP ProSoloist All preset little variability no MIDI but good sounds and the most expressive aftertouch in my arsenal. Duplicated some presets in my Voyager for MIDI control.
Korg DSS-1 "As-is" I got for nothing. Synth engine works 100% but has a bad data slider and disk drive (no disk drive, no patches). Awaiting the USB and memory upgrade.
Oberheim OB-X The worthy companion to the Memorymoog. Huge organic silky sounding machine.  It's a basketcase but am progressing on resurrection.
Oberheim OB-SX Good companion to OB-X, although limited variability and no patch storage presets only.

My Favorite Effects
Lexicon Model 200 an oldie but a real goodie. The sound of the 80s. No MIDI, no digital I/O, no problem.
Lexicon PCM-60 x2 "Budget" version of Model 200. Used for gigging in clubs, nice basic plate/room algorithms.  No MIDI, no digital I/O, no problem.
Eventide 2016 x2 great for short room verbs - something about this box lifts the source out of the mix. One for vocals and one for snare.
ART Multiverb Currently orphaned, pales to the Lex and 2016. MultiFX are not a favorite. Clips way too easy in digital domain and S/N ratio suffers.
Vestafire RV-2 dual ch spring reverb good fidelity unit and there are places where spring reverb is adequate. Good for guitar amps that don't have reverb.

Drawmer DL231 dual compressor quite effective on percussion thanks to its log detector (not the usual rms). Also has a downward expander for gating and a limiter.
Drawmer DL441 quad compressor/limiter used as a limiter on my PA. I've blown one too many subwoofers!
Drawmer DS201 dual gate The standard all gates are measured against. It just works!
Drawmer DS404 quad gate Quad version of DS201, used for toms
Loft 400 quad gate/limiter used for my monitors on my PA
UREI 7110 compressor x2 Excellent all-purpose compressor. Unique feature is a control that offers a variable blend between the peak and the RMS detector. Very unique compression effect.
UREI LA-12 dual compressor x2 Newer version of 7110, used on vocals
UREI LA-22 dual compressor/expander x2 Adds frequency selective compression or expansion. This thing can take a dog of a kick drum and transform it into a monster.

Ashly GQX3102 dual 31-band graphic used on PA
JBL 5547 31-band equalizer x4 used on monitors for PA
Moog Parametric Excellent precision surgical EQ
Moog 10-band Graphic Nice tone color when boosting
Moog MF-105M MIDI Murf Filter bank used for sculpting synth waveforms on my analog synths

Korg SDD-1200 x2 Really good stereo chorus, one for synths one for toms.
Korg SDD-2000 Echo unit for vocals, delays out to 4 seconds.
Korg SDD-3300 triple digital delay with insane routing options. This thing gets effects I have yet to hear out of a multiFX.
Yamaha E1010 Used for Haas FX on guitars. I exploit the grunginess of the delay line for doubling effects.
ADA STD-1 The king of tapped delays. Gorgeous modulation effects and resonance generator.
Moog MF-104 x2 The originals, not the 104SD or 104Z.
Moog MF-108M Excellent chorus and flange effects, some unique features not found elsewhere.
Dynacord CLS-222 Leslie simulator for Hammond organ.

Moog MF-103 12-stage OTA based phaser. Smooth and warm.

Pitch Modulators
Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator Cool sound mangling box
Eventide H969 Harmonizer the last and best of the non-microprocessor pitch shifters.

Filter Modules
Moog MF-101 12dB or 24dB ladder filter with envelope follower.  Very effective on bass guitar.  Early model with now-obsolete CA3080 OTAs.
EV EX-18 crossover used for variable highpass on channel strips
UREI 525 crossover used on PA
Rane FAC 24 crossover used for filtering the output of the SDD-2000

Which Moog Should I Buy for Bass sounds?

You want earth shaking bass? Get a T3, MiniTaur, or SubPhatty.

You want the Minimoog bass? The Source does a better job than the Voyager. Memorymoogs are overkill for monophonic bass lines. Model D has resonance that is non-linear and decreases as the cutoff reaches its extremes, this is why a EG spiked minimoog bass is unique to the minimoog. This non-linear resonance was considered an engineering "fault" at the moog works and succeeding instruments have corrected this "fault". This "fault" can be simulated on an Andromeda.

You want extreme moog bass? A Memorymoog in unison mode with all six voices firing all three oscillators at once destroys subwoofers (that's eighteen oscillators, 7 more than Spinal Tap).

The SE-1 doesn't apply, doesn't have the beef of my moogs. Li'l and Slim Phatty doesn't have decent low end for bass.

However the Voyager can get a lot more sounds that no other moog could dream of because of its dual filters and extensive modulation options. top

Want to own vintage musical gear?

If you want to own any vintage item, there is a price of admission. Repair costs. Restoration costs. Cost of obsolete hard-to-find components.  Doesn't matter whether it is vintage analog synths, hammond organs, tube guitar amps, autos, tractors, etc.  Be prepared for what you're getting into.

Famous Last Words:
1) "Should be an easy repair"
2) "Should be a simple fix"

Most musical instruments that use any electricity inside are labeled NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE on the case for a reason.  There may not be lethal voltages inside, but there are plenty of devices inside that are best left in the hands of a competent tech.

More Famous Last Words:
3) But why should my repair bill be more than what I paid for it?!?
Do not expect maintenance free gear or expect that new vintage toy to be functioning 100% upon delivery from a seller. NEVER assume that repairs will be cheap.  Depending on where you live, a competent repair tech may be hundreds of miles away and you will have to pay shipping costs for a repair.  Even brand new stuff made today is going to have maintenance problems years later. Anybody thinking otherwise is living a fantasy world. Repair costs is an intrinsic part of owning anything. Deal with it.

Even More Famous Last Words:
4) Why does the MIDI retrofit cost more than what I paid for my synth?!?
Upgrading pre-MIDI synths to the 21st century is not going to be easy or cheap.  These things cost money because of the development and fabrication expenses that went into them, and the low quantity for the limited market they are targeted to.  It's called Business Economics 101, you should study it sometime. top

In close relation is the following topic...

Want to fix your own gear?
Want free repair advice from the internet?

Seems that as vintage gear becomes more popular and competent techs hard to come by, novices are seeking free repair services from the internet.

I do have extensive knowledge of how gear works and my net reputation precedes me.  I often get queries from novices on DIY repair.  Here's why guys like myself refrain from fixing stuff over the internet:
And lastly... the internet is a poor resource for learning electronics.  I have seen websites with incorrect information, and university websites actually omit crucial information. top

Replacing old components
I don't subscribe to the club of blanket replacement of old electronic parts.

The single driving factor is heat. Prolonged exposure to heat will prematurely degrade components.

Most guitar amps from the 60s and 70s are tube amps which generate a lot of heat inside that chassis and do require regular cap replacement. I say "most" because I have a british Selmer tube guitar amp made in 1963 that doesn't run hot and the last visit to my tech three years ago revealed zero problems with the capacitors. That's fifty years on the original caps! On another device where I did cap replacement ement, I have pics of scope images of the power rails before and after - and there was zero difference.

Then there is the heat issue at the junction of semiconductors. That is driven either by design or user error.

Poor design means the semiconductors run hot because the heat isn't adequately dissipated. I had a cheap rackmount multiFX that I no longer use because the chassis got hot and the unit eventually started going flaky. Not all design errors can be fixed in the field.

User error means the unit was packed in a manner such that ventilation was neglected or because of incorrect loading. Everybody knows that heat rises. When I racked my units I paid attention to those that generate heat and that needed ventilation. They either had 1U open space above for ventilation (heat rises) or I strategically placed units with shorter depth directly above them so that heat could dissipate.

Replacing ICs and opamps en masse is a waste of time and money unless you are intimately familiar with components. It is also an invitation to trouble in that if it doesn't work you are in for a hell of a troubleshooting session. One of the rare exceptions are the 4xxx CMOS family made by RCA in the 1970s - these things did not have input overvoltage protection of the modern equivalents and were prone to blowing from overvoltage rule violation or ESD. I have one device that absolutely would not work without the dinosaur age 741 opamp - some engineers design their circuits around the substrate design such that only 741s from certain manufacturers would work.

There is also design evolution to consider. The practice of placing bypass caps in close proximity to the power pins of high speed logic didn't become widespread until the early 1980s.

Anybody pushing blanket replacement of all caps, opamps, IC, et al is selling something you don't need and does not understand these true issues. top

What components do I change in my mixer EQ to tailor them to more specific things IE kick drum?  How do I modify my mixer to use a sweepable EQ?

Most EQ circuits have components that interact with each other. Changing the R or C values may not get the desired effect. Attempting to change the center frequency by changing a cap or resistor value may change its boost/cut range. It may make the Q factor become undesireable. These factors are all interactive.

There are many circuit configurations that comprise an EQ circuit. You need to know the transfer function of that configuration before deciding how to modify the circuit. No single transfer function applies to all EQs. Some circuits are custom designed with the transfer function known only to the designer and/or company.  Empirical experimenting may be a long and frustrating process.

Shoehorning a sweep control into an existing circuit is not at all trivial circuitwise. Many EQ circuits are not even designed to employ sweeping.  There is no simple way to do this.

Modifications like this will quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. It would be easier and cheaper to buy a parametric eq. top

Aging CMOS and memory ICs

"Bit rot" is more prevalent in CMOS and memory ICs made before the mid-1980s. That was a product of the fabrication process, and has since been corrected in modern processes.

EEPROMs were strictly a development tool. EPROMs were the low quantity alternative to masked ROMs and are often deployed in electronic gear. It wasn't economically feasible to fab masked ROMs in quantities of less than 100,000. Musical electronic gear almost never sells anywhere near that quantity and there is no way to project the success of a product to justify the $$$ for masked ROMs. EPROMs were the better solution. Firmware upgrades are also much easier with EPROMs.

You can still buy low LSI CMOS and TTL, but low density EPROMs used in 1980s gear (512KB and lower) are no longer made and getting harder to find.

Almost everything made before 1990 used DIP package ICs.  DIP packaging is gradually being replaced by SMT.  Each year there are more and more ICs that are no longer being made in DIP packages.

The 24/7 Power Myth

Take this from an EE with 30+ years experience in the business: leaving gear powered on 24/7 will degrade them. Heat degrades electronic components, especially capacitors and ICs. Leaving them on 24/7 creates accumulated heat and no amount of venting or cooling will remove the heat where it hurts - the terminal leads and the internal bonded wires on the substrates of ICs.

As for switching on/off power supplies, relax chicken little. That applies to tube circuits with solid state rectifiers and no standby switch, and to appliances with large motors such as forced hot air furnaces and refridgerators. It does not apply to solid state electronics unless the power system is poorly designed (like the old ARP Omni).

I have a lot of gear in my possession that gets power toggled on a regular basis and I pay attention to proper heat ventilation. The only caps I have replaced was because they had leaked (guitar amps generate a LOT of heat and generally have poor ventilation) or whose cap values have impacted tuned circuits (my 40+ Hammond organ got a vast improvement from a recap).

In my experience if you pay attention to devices producing a lot of heat and work to improve ventilation or cooling, that goes a long way to getting more mileage out of your gear. top

Digital vs Analog filters

This topic comes up a lot.  Here are tidbits from myself and others I have collected from the past:

Achilles heels of analog filter emulations for the 46,938th time:

Filter resonance. Real analog filters have a "color" to their resonance that is missing from emulations. Many emulations use the textbook transfer function of filters, but they are abstract functions that don't even begin to take into account the intricacies of analog filters. Plus a derivation of specific moog/oberheim/arp/roland/et al filters would take a lot of work to derive and to implement on a computer. Desktop computers don't have the horsepower to crunch such a customized function.

VCAs. The early ones were less than high fidelity and actually imparted mild overdrive that was dynamic depending on level and timbre content. Few people realize the importance of a "dirty" VCA - minimoogs and early oberheims owe much of their "fatness" to VCAs not just filters. A very complex behavior to model in emulations.

Audio domain modulation. Low frequency modulation using an LFO is easy to emulate. But emulations fall apart when attempting audio domain modulation with non-sinusoidal waveforms. FM using sinusoidal waveforms is easy to emulate, non-sinusoidal waveforms now require FFT to transform them into a Fourier series of sinusoidal waveforms that is easy to chew on. It's the FFT that is the bottleneck, and much so if the waveforms are being modulated themselves.

AC coupling between stages. The coupling between VCO->VCF->VCA on real analog is not direct and the capacitive coupling element will introduce distortion and phase shifts to the harmonics, neither of which is easy to emulate. The emulation must take into account the ESR, lead inductance, dielectric absorption, and other idiocracies of capacitors that impact the sound of real analog.

If you want really technical information, keep reading:

The transfer function (read: algorithm) of most digital filters are glorified versions of the textbook formula.

What many fail to miss is that the textbook formula is an ideal utopian formula that real world filters seldom follow. In the analog world, there *is* no ideal filter. The textbook formula assumes perfect reactive devices (caps, inductors) and perfect active devices (transistors, opamps).  No single transfer function applies to Moog ladder filters, Oberheim SEM filters, ARP 4023/4072, CS-80, etc.

There are no perfect devices in the analog world. They all have their thorns. Those are the charms that make analog filters interesting and is why an Oberheim 12dB lowpass multimode filter sounds uniquely different from a ladder filter in 12dB lowpass mode. They are also the thorns that plague digital emulations, because the non-perfect behaviors have to be converted into a mathematical formula. As well as a mathematical model of all those elements interacting when they are coupled together, including the feedback behavior at different resonances. Not only is that derivation a difficult task, but the resultant formula would be extraordinarily difficult to crunch in a computer.

That brings digital filters to an interesting paradox. Because the market demands low prices, the real problem is recouping the expenses into research for a digital filter that accurately models analog filters. You would need to recruit the services of engineering physics engineers with an EE background to derive the mathematical formula that accurately models real world circuits. And to crunch the numbers of their research you would need a powerful and efficient embedded system (don't even think about a desktop PC). Neither of those come cheap. Any attempt to market a system at high cost will attract few buyers since this is a market that is accustomed to reasonable retail prices. Sell it too low and spread out the returns over time, and it would take too long to recoup those expenses from the miserly returns of the software market.

An interesting parallel is the market that Lexicon created with their digital reverbs. They faced the same challenges as digital filters, the difference being they targetted the market that could afford the initial high costs of the research and development. But that market today - professional recording studios - is 1/10 what it was thirty years ago. Bricasti formed from the ashes of Lexicon. They have a product using today's technology. I don't know how their sales today compare to thirty years ago, but today a lot of users scoff at their prices. This is definitely a case of you get what you pay for. The problem is convincing those same reluctant users to shell out $$$$ for an accurate digital filter in a softsynth. Not gonna happen any time soon.

Going from the digital to analog domain and (potentially) back is significantly more expensive because of additional components. A prior poster had correctly ascertained the problems of having to control the filters with envelopes and other modulations and to assign them to voices all of which is far easier digitally since you don't have to worry about A/D conversion and the number of voices you can have (your polyphony) can be determined by the ability of your processor(s) to handle the computational load. Not so for analog filters. You have a potentially variable number of voices and have to figure how best to assign them to your fixed number of analog filters. Basically, Waldorf solved that in the Q+ by saying that once you used a patch with the analog filters you were limited to 16 voices in that patch and if you were using multis then only one of them could use the analog filters.

The OP's assumption that analog filters were just some resistors is also incorrect as the famous 24dB/oct Moog transistor ladder filter is exhibit A of. The transistors in the analog circuit are being used much differently than in a digital circuit. Transistors on IC's are cheap but laying out the chip for the analog filters in them could be much trickier than for pure digital because transistors in the analog world are not flipping from 0 to whatever the chip positive voltage representing 1 is unlike in digital designs.

It is hard enough to hire competent electrical engineers much less those that possess knowledge of analog filter technology and are willing and able to do that for a career in electronic instrument design. Just a fact of life. Sad but true.

One also has the problem of how many and of which type of analog filter to use. Each additional option adds up to a real component and design cost for every unit produced unlike digital filters which may have high up front software design costs but then don't add to the unit cost of everything produced.

Bottom line is it costs a lot more and it isn't worth it for the high volume manufacturers to do at this point. Who knows, maybe that could change in the future. Just is the way it is now. The Waldorf Q+ is a fine synth but you pay about a $1500-$2000 premium to get those analog filters and some more voices and most of the cost is in the filters. Most people won't pay it.

Microprocessors can do a lot of things really fast, but not everything.  Any "exotic" functions (other than basic add/substract, multiplication and division) are taking more CPU cycles. For example, on Nehalem CPUs, FMUL (floating point multiplication) is taking between 1 to 5 clock cycles in normal circumstances. On the other hand, FPTAN (f.p. arctangent, nice to use for saturation for example) eats 120 CPU cycles. You can use some faster / lower precision algo for some nonlinear function, or look up tables, but it's always more costly than basic math stuff.

Lets say that you use "modern" approach for filter design, like in Diva. In that case, you first develop a system of nonlinear differential equations that describe the VCF. Next, you apply some kind of solver for that system, typically Trapezoid Rule solver. And than you end up with equation like this:

y[n+1] = f(y[n+1])

where f() has some nasty nonlinear parts (lets say, in typical example that you get something like y = A*y + B*tanh(C+y) + D). So you have ended up with implicit nonlinear equation, and beside narrow class of cases there is no analytic (explicit) solution for that equation (that is, one where you get y = g(A, B, C, D)). So you typically use some iterative solver, so you have to calculate already expensive nonlinear functions several times (that's why Diva cpu consumption is parameter dependant, low resolution or low cutoff -> iterative solver converges quickly or initial estimation of solution is good enough already).
On the other hand, if you ignore any non linear parts (that is start with linearised model of VCF) you get 10-20 add and multiply operations and one division (plus one or two "CPU expensive" nonlinear functions to calculate filter coefficients but that's same in linear and nonlinear case).

Sometimes it is a lot easier to accomplish a function using analog circuits. top

How do you balance music, family, and life?

I didn't author this, but it really speaks volumes: top
Short answer: Communication, scheduling, and a man cave.

I can only speak from my own experience, but I've had this problem with every woman I've dated, including my wife. My wife's just the only one I've been with long enough to figure it out.

Basically, any time the woman in my life felt I was putting more time, money, or focus on average into something other than her, she saw it as me prioritizing my own hobbies/interests over her. And that was never really the case, of course. I just tend to have a one-track mind once I'm working on something, so I wasn't always very happy to be "interrupted" (a word you might think, but should never say in this situation). I don't know how many times I've heard the sentence, "Oh, so your blog/site/computer/movie/game/synth is more important than I am, huh?"

It took us years to come up with a situation that worked for both of us, but here's how it works. From the morning until 5:30/6:00 at night on weekdays I give my time to my employer. Once I'm home, my time up til 9:00pm goes to my family. After that is my cave time. Actually having a furnished, temperature-controlled room for all my gear (it used to literally be a garage operation, which sucked equally in summer and winter) where I can retreat to indulge in my music was the final piece of the puzzle.

We also have at least one night a week where I emerge from the cave, usually to watch a Rifftrax with her or something. We do family stuff on the weekends too. My wife was happy with me allocating a few hours a day to my interests once she understood that it was about me regrouping and recharging, not about "escaping" her. It was never about the specific activity or hobby; it was about what she saw as my priorities, and where she stood in that list.
Unlicensed Sampling

Legal case law has firmly established that ANY entertainment made available for commercial sale that uses audio or visual samples of existing copyrighted material MUST have preapproval from the original copyright owners.  Other artists have already tried to evade this legal precedent and failed.

Think you can sample a long forgotten obscure source and no one will notice?  That was a mistake that Charlie Clouser of NIN tried:
in the 1980's I did solo tracks that were all techno stuff with found vocals from tv and films, and I had a bunch of DAT tapes with all the vocal bits I had accumulated. Never released, nobody ever heard them. When I remixed Heresy I broke out those tapes and took those vocal bits from an obscure documentary about religion that was, by then, almost 20 years old. Didn't clear them, didn't even know the title of the documentary they had come from. As soon as the remix came out, on import CD only, in Europe only no less.... Nothing Records got the call. Yes, the producer of the original documentary was suing Nothing Records. He was teaching a course in film and showed this documentary to his students, one of whom was a NIN fan. This knucklehead kid saw the scene that the vocal came from, and said, "Hey teacher! I have a remix that has a sample of that line in it!" The teacher goes, "????" and the kid goes, "It's by my favorite band, nine inch nails!" and the teacher goes, "Who or what is a nine inch nail?" and the kid goes, "They're like the best band evarrrrr, check out the track!" ........ Ring Ring - lawsuit. It took a couple of months to prove to the filmmaker that we'd only printed like 10,000 copies of that remix, that it had only come out as an import CD and wasn't on the 4x platinum album, and that he wasn't going to get a piece of The Downward Spiral... but we still had to pay him off. I think Trent paid the guy $8,000 to let it go, but it took many hours of in-house lawyer time to make it go away. I got a firm talking-to by Trent's manager to please never do that again! Lesson learned: no matter how obscure you think the sample is, get it cleared. If you don't, you'd better hope nobody ever hears the record, because if you ARE successful with it, someone will come around with their hand out. Eight grand that one sample cost!
Get approval from the copyright owners - period. No ifs, ands, or buts.,_Ltd._v._Warner_Bros._Records,_Inc.

Sampling artists aren't "musicians"

Please stop associating sampling with "musical ideas".

Most sample artists are either frustrated musicians or people who are too lazy to put the time and effort to learn how to play a musical instrument and create their own music.

Sample artists would have no "new musical ideas" without musicians to create the music in the first place.

Sample artists are hamstrung by copyright laws because the real musicians who invested money, time, and sweat to advance their playing technique in the instrument(s) of their choice got tired of their wares and potential income infringed by unlicensed sampling.

No amount of long stretches of reasoning or browbeating is going to change the fact that unlicensed sampling is copyright infringement.

Oh how they tried every argument to justify their actions!  Blockquoteth the poster:
"Real" rock musicians stole riffs from blues players and made multi-millions, but it's not "real" if you sample them and re-arrange it? It's farcical to me to discount arrangement and composition skills in favor of technical and mechanical playing and reproduction. After all, we're paying respect to our influences.
Flawed argument.

"Real" rock musicians need to develop skill on their instrument to steal riffs. "Real" musicians spend a lot of time and money replicating the exact sound and feel of their influences due to variables such as mouth embouchure, vocal cords, playing technique, composites of their instruments, the sonics of the pickups and amplifier and cabinets and speakers, the alloy of the strings, the microphone to record the amp, the response of the recording room where the microphone is placed, the sonics of the studio preamp EQs and magnetic tape to capture the sound, on and on and on.

Along comes samplers that bypasses all of that investment in time and money and allows users with zero musical ability to steal that exact sound without compensation, and you have the gall to call it "paying respect to our influences"?!?

This is not only indolence, but disrespect. Sampling laws are more strict for a reason. Those musicians and recording engineers who have invested a lifetime investment into their craft are not about to submit to any long stretches of reasoning whatsoever, and it has nothing to do whether we like that music or not.

Blockquoteth another poster:
It's not up to you (or anyone for that matter) to say a certain musician is inherently worse because they've sampled something. Who do you think you are?
I will not submit to shaming or demonizing tactics.

After forty five years of learning my craft, I know indolence when I see it. top

Building your own cables
I've been making my own cables for over thirty years.

The single thing I learn over and over is you get what you pay for.

A few years ago I completely re-wired my racks.  I went with good Canare cable from Redco and decided to try their 1/4" plugs to save $$$ over switchcraft.

The 1/4" plugs were a mistake.  They're made in asia and 1/10 of them were bad out of the box with tip and sleeve shorted.  I later uncovered problems with the barrel shorting out the tip and had to add insulated tape to prevent that.

These were problems I never encountered with switchcraft plugs.  I will never compromise on plugs again.

Don't ever compromise on cable.  The bad ones are made from polymer insulation that melts too easy when a soldering iron is used, thus shorting out wires.  Teflon or rubber insulation is the best for DIY.

If your cables are fixed in the studio, use cable with copper stranded wire.  If your cables are going to be used on stage where there is a lot of flexing, do not use copper stranded wire as it breaks too easy from flexing.

As for custom length cables - don't do it.  I went with a system of multiples - 3ft, 6ft, 9ft, 15ft, 25ft.  That combination had served me well.  I know a friend who made custom length cables, then when he later re-configured his system he had all these unusable cables that were too short. top

Can you swap speakers with the guitar amplifier powered on?
It depends on whether the amplifier is tube or solid state.

You can safely swap speakers with a solid state amplifier powered on.

If you use the STANDBY switch on a tube power amplifier then it is safe to swap speakers. If your tube power amplifier does not have a STANDBY switch you should NEVER swap speakers with the power on.

Tube power amplifiers require an output transformer to couple the output tubes to the speaker because the tubes cannot drive the speakers by themselves. In technical terms, output tubes are a high output impedance drivers and the output transformer serves as an impedance converter to work with low impedance loads like speakers. If you remove the speakers with the power on without using the standby switch, you will burn out the $$$ output transformer.

A lot of confusion comes from guitar players. Most guitar amps have tube preamps and tube power amps. Some guitar amplifiers have tube preamps but solid state power amps, some have solid state preamps but tube power amps. If your amp has power tubes - 6V6, 6L6, EL34, EL84, 5881, etc etc then you have a tube power amp.

Unlike tubes, the power drivers in solid state amplifiers can drive the speaker by themselves thus they do not require an output transformer. In technical terms, solid state power drivers are low output impedance drivers and can connect directly to low impedance speakers. They are also safe to operate with no speaker. top

No Vintage Guitar Amp over 50 years old is 100% original

Unlike 100% original vintage guitars, a 100% original guitar amplifiers 50 or more years old may exist but it is unlikely to work.

Besides the capacitors going bad due to age, the original speaker cone will age too. The cone is paper based - the layers will separate and worse, the coil (also made of paper) will no longer be symmetrical around the magnet. POOF!

Compounding the problem is the accumulated heat inside the chassis (from the tubes and transformers), which will prematurely age the capacitors if played for hours at a session or gig.  Guitar amplifiers are notorious heat accumulators.

It is EXTREMELY rare to find a completely original working vintage guitar amplifier - unless the owner played it sparodically a few times a year, a couple hours at a time, and kept it in a dry climate controlled atmosphere since the day he bought it. top

to be added
Why do analog synths of different brands/models sound different?
Why do softsynths of different brands/models sound different?