Archive for July, 2012

ZOOM G2.1U

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Guitar, Music
Tags: , , ,

I’ve had this Zoom G2.1u processor for more than 3 years and I really like this multi-effects pedal. When I first started playing the lead guitar I used to use a Zoom 505 that I borrowed from a friend of mine. Since then I’ve really liked the sound that a Zoom processor gives. I’ve tried some other multi effects pedals like the Digitech, Korg and Boss but I’ve never really liked their sounds. But in their defense I actually haven’t had too much time to test them out. I’ve usually just tried some patches that friends of mine had already set in those processors and I always felt my Zoom sounded way cleaner.

Zoom

I’m not too technical and am more used to setting things based on sounds I hear and how I like them. There are features I’ve never used in this processor. I just thought I’ll talk about some of the effects that I generally use. I mostly play only in Church so the drives and effects I use are based on that.

  1. The Drives: There are only two drives that I use. The first is BG Crunch (bC) – This is my standard distortion/overdrive sound. I mostly use it during the chorus of the song or the heavier parts of the song where riffs or general power chords are played. It sounds somewhat like the overdrive sound that contemporary Christian artists like Hillsong and stuff use. The gain is set to max. The second drive I use is US Blues (bL). I feel this has a better sustain so I use it to play solos. 99% of the time, I will turn on the delay while using this patch because I use this for soloing. I set the volume of the BG Crunch lesser than that of US Blues because when I go into the solo of the song it gives a volume boost automatically without me having to increase it with the pedal
  2. Clean tone: I always use the FD clean (FC). It gives a very nice clean tone for plucking notes during the quieter part of the songs.
  3. Noise reduction: I use this for the distortion/overdrive patches. It is always set to the max 16. It really helps to cut down the noise from these patches.
  4. Equalizer: This is really important when playing with a band. I make sure that the highs are increased and the lows are cut. There are no specific values but if the lows are increased then the guitar’s sound will be lost in the mix. I mostly play on the bridge pickup in Church because the sound from the neck pick up gets lost in the total mix when the other instruments come in.
  5. Delay: I really love the sound of a delay. I recently bought a TC electronic nova nd-1 delay so I’m now using that. But the zoom has its own delay options. I use the dL, which is the normal delay. The feedback is set to 20 and mix is also set to 20. You can increase both of this but the delay will become stronger as it’s digital. You have to be careful not to overdo it or the subtle effect will be lost. The first knob lets you control the time of the delay. It is measured in milli seconds, so increasing the time will result in longer time delay between each repeats. The delay tempo can also be tapped in with the tap button in the pedal or an external footswitch. I recently learned how to tap in a dotted eight note delay in the Zoom processor using a foot switch. It’s pretty cool. I sometimes set my Nova nd-1 delay to dotted eight and the zoom’s delay to quarter notes. The dual delay gives a really nice sound.
  6. The Pedal: The Zoom G2.1u comes with a pedal which can be used for Volume control, wah and many other effects. But I’ve only been using it as a volume pedal. An annoying thing is that if the pedal is set to wah for a patch and you switch to that patch, the overall volume suddenly goes to the maximum. So live it’s impossible for me to control the volume when I use this pedal for the wah. Recently I bought another boss FV-500L volume pedal. Now I can use the Zoom’s pedal for wah and still control the overall volume. So only now I’ve started trying to play some stuff using the wah. Still a long way to go for me there.
  7. Other effects: The pedal obviously has many other effects like the chorus, flanger, reverb, tremolo etc. But these are totally dependent on songs. I might use them for different songs. I recently tried using the tremolo for one of delirious’ songs – I loved how it sounded.

I really like this pedal and would definitely suggest it to someone who has just started playing the lead guitar. This model though is not manufactured anymore, it’s next version Zoom G2.1nu is available and is almost the same with some improvements. The pedal is very easy to use. You’ll definitely need to refer to the manual to know each option and how it can be tweaked. As I already mentioned, I’ve used it for more than 3 years now and carry it around a lot. I’ve had no problems with it till now, so I guess it is pretty solid. By the way, I’ve ordered a Zoom G3 and should be getting it in a couple of weeks. I’m pretty excited about that. I’m also in a dilemma if I should start buying analog pedals. But they are way more expensive and give you lesser options than digital ones. So for now I’m sticking to the digital multi-effects. If you want to know anything more about the Zoom G2.1u, do let me know.

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There is something that I have wanted to write about for a long time now. It’s about one of the most exciting, scary and unforgettable days of my life. A day that will never be forgotten in history and I was there to experience it – The March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Memories have already started to fade a bit so I want to make sure I can write everything I remember about that day before I forget most of it.

MARCH 11, 2011 TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE

It started off just like one of those ordinary days. It was a Friday, a good day of the week usually because it’s the weekend from the next day. I went to work as usual and there were no warnings of what was going to happen later that day. Incidentally March 11 happens to be my Dad’s birthday, so after I got to the office I called him up to wish him and then continued with my work. After we finished our lunch and came back and sat in the office, at around 2:45 PM (I got that from wiki because I didn’t note down the time then) the building started shaking a bit.

Now you should know that earthquakes are pretty common in Japan and when they occur nobody even cares. They just go on with their work. The first time I experienced an earthquake in Japan, I was in a Church. The preacher was giving the sermon and my chair starts shaking. So I thought the person behind me accidentally kicked my chair or something, but then it kept happening for a few seconds and I was wondering if should turn back and tell him to stop shaking my chair. Then the preacher announced without much change in expression or tone of voice “It’s an earthquake” and she continued with the sermon. For a few seconds I was perplexed by what just happened. There was a freaking earthquake and we are still sitting inside???

Now, going back to our story, the building starts shaking, no one bothers and they continue on with their work. I still remember me turning and looking at Sujit who was sitting next to me and with a fake smile saying something like “it’s an earthquake”. We weren’t very bothered either; we had been in Japan for about a year and had felt plenty of earthquakes. But then it didn’t stop, it went on for a few more seconds and with each passing second the tremor got stronger. When I heard a few women screaming, I knew this wasn’t normal. Then it just started shaking violently, there were tables moving, files and folders falling down – it was just chaos. Now looking back, it seems comical to think about each person’s reaction and I kind of remember their expressions. But when I was there it was anything but comical. If I had to sum up their expressions in one word, it would be ‘Fear’. Thinking of myself – I don’t know if I was afraid or not afraid. Somehow in my mind, an earthquake had been registered as something that you don’t be scared of, since everything in Japan is built to withstand earthquakes. But then this was different, I had never seen people panic in an earthquake before. So if I had to sum up my reaction, it would be ‘Black Out’. I mean my eyes were still open and I could see everything, but it didn’t really look like my brain was functioning at all. Maybe my black out was a result of intense fear. I don’t know. I did nothing. I just sat in my seat and looked at everyone. There were people doing literally everything. Some were screaming, some wearing helmets, some hiding under tables, some frantically running down and some were working. Yes! WORKING! There was at least one person I saw who just put on his helmet and continued his work. I can only think of the famous line from the movie 300 – “This is Madness”

It was and still is probably one of the most sensational few minutes of my life. After the earthquake subsided, there was a sense of relief in everyone’s face. I immediately called up my dad and told him that there was a huge earthquake and they’d probably hear about it in the news soon, but things were ok. It was good that I had called so soon, in another 10 minutes or so none of the phone lines worked. Everyone was calling his or her friends or relatives I think. I asked my Japanese colleagues if they had felt an earthquake this big in their life and everyone’s answer was ‘No’. This was the biggest they had felt in their lifetime. We looked out through the window and it didn’t look like there were any big damages. There was a small fire coming from one of the buildings a little further down. But that seemed small compared to how huge the earthquake was.

Then we were all asked to go downstairs immediately as it isn’t safe to stay inside a building after an earthquake. Now after an earthquake like that, the aftershocks go on forever and I mean forever or at least it feels that way. The earth beneath us was shaking for the next few hours – ranging from mild tremors to quite strong ones. I think I felt the effect of what this earthquake and the aftershocks had done to me for the next whole year or so. Even though I had come back to India a while after that, I would get up from my sleep suddenly or even when I was working, would suddenly stop because I would feel like there was a tremor but there was nothing.

We waited downstairs and chatted about each of our experiences. How we felt, what we thought was going to happen and stuff. It was quite interesting I should say. We were informed that the train lines had stopped functioning. I think we waited downstairs for at least an hour. Then our manager told us that we could go home. One of the managers in my company was gracious and informed us (6 Indians) that he lived in Urayasu which is the next train station from where we lived in Minami Gyotoku and that he was going to try to get a taxi or walk home because the trains weren’t functioning and we could come along with him if we wanted.

Thus began our long exodus. We started walking and quickly realized that our chances of getting a taxi were quite less as everyone was frantically looking for one as well. So we walked and walked and walked.

In the middle of this, I called my mom from my cell phone. It took me a while to get through but then I did get through a couple of times. She said that in the news they were saying that the whole of Tokyo was burning. It’s kind of funny what news channels report these days. Especially the Tamil news channels that actually have no access to what’s happening in another country and are solely reporting based on information from another news channel or based on assumptions! I looked around and everything seemed normal, I couldn’t see any building burning down. Of course at that time I didn’t know about the tsunami that had hit or was going to hit the Sendai region.

By the time we reached the Tokyo train station from Shinagawa where our office was, it already felt like we had walked a long distance. But that wasn’t even half the way. We were exhausted and decided to wait at a bus stop and see if we could get a bus.

There is another thing I want to mention at this point. The Japanese people are amazing sometimes, and I mean amazing!! I was quite literally shocked by how organized they were. So there is a huge earthquake, the trains aren’t running everyone needs to go home and there are buses and taxis only from a few places but it’s packed with people. But they all wait in lines. The lines at some bus stops were super long but no one’s rushing or pushing the person in front or asking them to move forward or trying to cut into the lines. Man, I was shocked. I thought of India – No earthquake, just a normal day – a bus comes into the bus stop. People run after it like their life depended on it. No one cares if they push others, hit them or trample them. Some jump into the buses before it even stops. They want to get into the bus and get a seat and no one’s going to stop them. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazingly good things about India as well but this is one thing that we as Indians should learn from the Japanese – to behave more civilized.

So we waited at a bus stop that had services running to Minami Gyotoku/Urayasu. But it was useless; there were no buses from there that night. We waited for about an hour and then decided to walk again. There was this Japanese girl that was at the bus stop who was talking to us and when we said we were going to walk it, she asked if she could come along because she lived in that area as well. She surprisingly spoke pretty good English and so was good company for us. She was quite curious about India I think. She asked us many inquisitive questions about our country. The eight of us then thought we should eat first. So we went to a small Izakaya kind of place, had nice food, talked about the day and took some much needed rest before the next half of our journey.

trainjapan1

Then we started walking again. We stopped to check at one of the stations if the trains had started running. But that was just hope I guess. It was a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and expecting the trains to run so soon after that is asking for too much. It was quite a long and not so interesting walk. We walked along the highway and everyone was tired. I was happy that there were two Japanese people with us, because I had no idea where we were or whether we were even going in the right direction. When we reached Nishi Kasai (this place is two stations away from Minami Gyotoku – our train station), we looked across and guess what? The trains had started running again. It was a bit annoying because we had walked all the way. But then, it’s not like we get to walk home everyday so it was a good experience.

We reached home at about 11 PM. We had walked for more than four hours. The total distance from the office to our place is about 20 Kilometers, but then we walked along the train route that we know so it was close to 30 Kilometers. Things in the house looked a little displaced. But surprisingly nothing had fallen down or broken. I was quite worried if the TV in the house might have fallen down. The company had just bought us new TVs – big flat screen ones and I loved watching Japanese programs on it. Some of the shows were so funny even though I had no idea what they were saying!!

I had told someone who was visiting Japan that week that one of the things they had to experience before they leave Japan was an earthquake as it was part of the Japanese experience. But I never had this in mind. The tremors lasted through the night. I was happy that I was home safe. I was relieved that it was Saturday the next day and I secretly hoped that Monday would be a holiday due to the earthquake. Little did I know that this wasn’t the end, it was just the beginning of another long and unforgettable week. But I guess I’ll write about it another day.

Here is the post of another person’s experience on the same day. Do you have a similar experience about the March 2011 earthquake?

FRIENDS ARE AWESOME

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Faith
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This last year’s been quite an uphill struggle with life, faith and everything. So just the other day I was sitting and thinking about all the good things that have happened over the last one year. The first thing that came to my mind was friends. I’ve made some of the most awesome friends a guy could ever make. When I think about them, the word that constantly comes to my mind is “Real”. I love the fact that each of them is Real and not fake. I guess we all do put on a mask sometimes to cover who we really are and pretend like we’ve got it all together. But if we can be real to an extent where people know that we aren’t always strong, that we aren’t perfect, that we do have doubts and questions but we’re striving to be better people, striving to be who God wants us to be, then we are being Real. Friends around whom you can be real are precious.

friends

God always reminds me through them that we are each unique and special, created in his likeness but with so many different abilities and talents. When I look at each of them, I am always amazed by how awesome our God is. No two people are the same. There are those who talk a lot, those who don’t talk much, those who make sense when they’re talking and those who don’t make any sense. There are those who listen, those who advice, those who want to be in the front, those who want to be at the back, those who are strong in their faith, those who are weak, those who always want to go out and those who don’t really want to go out. If I listed out the talents and skills that each one possesses the list would be endless about how unique they all are. And of course there are those who annoy you to the maximum but you’d never want them to leave.

Another thing that I know when I look at them is “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. I don’t think these friends could have come at a better time. I’ve been friends with these guys from Powerhouse for over a year now (though I’ve know some of them for more than that). At a time when I had more questions than answers, more cynicism than trust they were there to help me realize that God’s love is true, his timing is perfect, his plans for us are better than what we could ever think or imagine.

So in conclusion, I want to say that if you don’t have good friends you really need to get some. You don’t know what you’re missing out on. And if you live in Chennai, come to powerhouse, stay for our youth fellowship “U-turn” after church. You’ll meet some of the most amazing people you’ve ever met in your life and your life will never be the same again.