My favorite all time CD is from Tim Pierce, it is a guitar based instrumental album. It was a revelation for me when it came out (1994) because so many guitar based instrumental discs from the late 80's and into the 90's were nothing more than a groove over a beat with wanking solos front to back. Technically thrilling, but emotionally devoid. I am not a huge soloist ripping off licks to blow the walls down. My strength has always come from creating songs that other folks can come together with me on with lyrics and melodies or in this case instrumental melodies. The riffs and solos are there - this is rock after all - but the whole foundation has to be interesting and solid rhythm work... based on songs, not just riffs tossed together like backing tracks so someone can demonstrate their hybrid picking technique at 64th notes over a 14 bar break. So I approached players that had the talent, the taste and the maturity level as a player to know when to open up and when to hold it down. I looked for guys that really have a melodic edge and could give my songs the same ingrediants that a talented vocalist would bring to the table. Ariel Pozzo is a member of the PRS Forum and I got to know him through his posts and upon hearing his work I was completely blown away. Once I finished '725' and posted it online, he sent me an email that said he really liked playing off of my songs and was having fun soloing over my stuff... So I shot for the moon and asked him to work on a song I was just finishing up 'Yvonne's Eyes For Me'.... Much to my surprise, he said, 'Yes.' What is interesting looking back is that there was never a case where I had to ask him to do something different on any of the 9 songs he plays on here. The one part I did change in mixing was the backwards solo in 'Winging It' where he originally extended the chorus melody guitars to fit over the verse, and I wanted it to go straight into the verse. So I took the solo from the first verse and flipped it backwards and put it in there and boy do I like that part of that song. Ariel really likes it too. Happy accident or fate? I dunno, but I sure am happy with it. Steve Whaley is a doctor by trade and a talented writer, arranger and guitarist by nature. I met Steve on the PRS Forum too (see a trend?) and he came up to Michigan in spring 2001 to attend a jam put on by Sid Sharma. At the jam, Steve showed that he was a hell of a guitar player and a nice guy. He sort of off handedly gave me a copy of a CD he had done but never released of his acoustic work. Wow. That disc may yet see the light of day, and is it ever GOOD. So I had finished 'Zach's Song' and Ariel was on a North American Tour with Miguel Mateos so it was just sitting. I wanted to hear an acoustic solo guitar throughout the song and laid down some simple stuff on it that was OK, but not the real deal. So I called up Steve and sent him a copy of it. The man took it to another level. I erased all my stuff and let him just ride the song. What a great job I think he did. So I thought that he could have some fun doing another tune and sent him 'Spacing' to try out. He added bass that was a take on my scratch bass part.... Except his part was better. Then he came at me with the clean verse solos and the end bit. Loved it - he nailed the vibe I wanted and then laid some tasty crunch guitar leads that I liked, but Steve wasn't happy with. So, on his own dime, he hired out a studio and laid down the solos you hear here now... Keep in mind the man is a doctor! Damn! Michael Fredericks is an old friend that happens to be a top notch KILLER bassist. I met him from his stint in the Marilyn Mack Group for close to two years. Mike always had the chops, but he can groove HARD. I always felt that he and I clicked as players and playing live with him was always a trip because he is such a fun guy to watch and play. (Ask him about my imitation of his stage manner - I can do his moves pretty good!). He came down to do 'I Need A...' Which is my version of the song, closer to my original demo that the Marilyn Mack Group turned into 'I Need A Man' on our 1999 disc 'Under'. So Mike shows up with his Fender Jazz 4 string, his Sadowsky 5 and his Sadowsky fretless and I am not one to pass up opportunity. So he layed down the bass parts on 'Radio Song' and 'Pop Song' on the spot and the stuff he did is stellar. Working with Mike is great and I hope that in the future he will be able to help me out more... He has the tone, the touch and the ear... Oh and the chops! The Stories Behind the Songs 'Here we go - I am putting my money where my mouth is... This finished disc is the extension of that statement and my musical journey... The songs presented here on this CD are the result of many obsessed hours of writing, performing, recording, tweaking, mixing, and listening. This entire project is the end product of something technology and hard work has let me accomplish - along with the indispensable talents of incredible gifted musicians like Ariel Pozzo, Steve Whaley and Mike Fredericks. What is it? Modern rock guitar instrumental music with all the feel, soul, melody and groove; minus the mindless shred. The technology benefits I speak of are twofold. First the ability to do this at home at this quality level is a mind blowing to me. The use of software and hardware to create organic grooving music with real instruments and sampled real instruments is overwhelming. I now have the ability to have Steve Smith, Kenwood Dannard, George Pendergast, Neil Conti and a host of other top flight professional drummers playing on my material via legally licensed sample disc material. I would like to emphasis that there are no midi performed instruments anywhere on this disc - only real musicians and sounds - sometimes sampled versions, but always REAL. The second part of the technology benefit is communication through the Internet. Through the Internet I was able to collaborate with top flight musicians like Ariel Pozzo in his home studio in Argentina as I sit here in Michigan, USA; Steve Whaley both at home and in a professional studio in his home state of Indiana; and Michael Fredericks who came across the state of Michigan to sit at my side here and lay down some serious bass. I wrote the music, arranged the parts, performed the songs, engineered my recording, produced the entire thing and mixed and mastered the entire ball of wax. This was the most time consuming, thought provoking, rewarding and tiring project I have ever undertaken outside of marriage and parenting. The tweaking, the learning curve is enormous. The disc you have in your possession is the finest end 'thing' I could possibly muster - no corners were cut, nothing is there by chance. My deepest hope is that someday when you are listening you will lose yourself, even for a moment, in the music without a thought to who or how or why. But in the meantime this is the who, the how and the why to get you started! I would like to dedicate this entire thing to my wife and two sons. Without their very real sacrifice, patience with me and countless hours of support for what I wanted to accomplish - none of this would have ever been possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.... I love you guys! The first result was this song, called '725'. This tune is a collection of 3 jams that I had at that point worked on with my then current band, but they had never found their way into songs... so I took them all and put them all in one song. I liked the energy of it, the simple aggression. I thought to myself as I recorded it, no matter what - this is the first song on the CD. The solos are a contrast to the driving parts, I was going for a Edge (of U2) type of feel with short busts and stabs in lieu of long drawn out phrasing that can become very cliché fast. So how? I did all the drums and samples in Acid Pro 2.0. My goal was to have it sound as totally real as possible. Took me about 10 hours before I was totally happy with the result after submixing them completely. I then imported them into Cakewalk Pro 9.0. Then to guitars... At this point, I had no bass to track with - but one was on the way. So I went to guitars first... Guitars are my PRS CE22 Maple top (bridge humbucker setting, volume rolled off to about 9), for the main rhythm tracks using the POD 2.01 with a Marshall setting. I played a trick on myself and cut one track, then muted it completely and cut the other track. I then panned the results hard left and right (final mix is about 75% L for one and 75% R for the other). It was sorta tricky, but I had the drums so memorized from doing them the day before, it actually worked out very well. One cut for both - no overdubs needed. Not a perfect double - but lots of attitude and feel. Mixed in Hall Reverb at 10% wet after. I liked it. I then added a cleaner 'texture' part using the PRS CE 22 (hardtail) Maple top with the POD using a Matchless sound - my more 'signature' tone. It is panned left about 25% and was done in stages. I would loop the section of the tune, write a new part, then track it and move on. Mixed in Hall Reverb at about 10% wet after I was happy. I then pulled out the PRS Custom 24, full neck humbucker setting, volume at 8. Into the POD with a older Marshall Bluesbreaker tone. Ran one track, liked a few parts. Ran another track and liked almost everything. Kept version 2 with small parts of the first version added here and there where needed. Result was really nice solo's that show my normal style of soloing - lots of space and short horn-like or vocal-like feeling parts. Panned dead center, Cakewalk Delay plug-in at about 12% wet on these tracks only. My 'new' bass came home to roost. Marcus Miller Signature Fender Jazz Bass. Active/Passive electronics. Whipped it out of the case, tuned up and created a part on the spot. I used my ART ProTube Preamp into the computer. Ran 'tape' and *poof* - bass part, tune done. Had some problems with Cakewalk on mixdown - long story short, not the best interface to use with the Yamaha DSP Factory interface that I have. (Have since bought Minnetonka's MxTracks for DSP Factory - OUTSTANDING!). But I did the tech support thing, got my tune mixed down to a stereo pre-master and then went on to master it. What about the name of the tune? Well, I started it on July 25, 2000. So '725' it became! The rest of the disc is not chronologically ordered, but all was done with the Minnetonka 'MxTrax' software controlling two Yamaha DSP Factory cards and the rest of the gear is listed at the end... The second song.... 'Pop Song' This was to have been a Marilyn Mack Group (and original rock band I was a member of from 1995-2000) song, but it was never finished with them. We tracked it in the studio before we parted ways in January 2001. So I completely redid this version for this project... it is very close to my original demos for the song. A key to this type of song, for me, is the flow and feel... So my main goal was to really get that group vibe and roll with the rhythm. A very talented friend named Mike Fredericks also provided 'mucho feel and flow' with his fretless Sadowsky... Ahhhh. I played in the Marilyn Mack Group with Mike for two years, recording one CD in that time with him. Mike has all the goods - the man can 'drive the bus'. An interesting sidebar is the appearance of a real orchestra and string quartet made possible with Acid Pro. No midi stuff, just real recording of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra thanks to the fine folks at Sonic Foundry and it adds a very cool flavor that was near impossible to nail unless you had major investment in session time or a midi keyboard... but I ain't rich and as for midi, well, there is nothing like the real thing. I cut this with my PRS Singlecut Artist on the left and my McCarty Rosewood on the right. The amp is my Matchless DC-30 set up the same, mic'd with a Shure SM-57 on the Vintage 30. Just cut one track, traded guitars and cut the other. Full on goodness! The acoustic parts are me on my Taylor 814ce using my Shure KSM-32 microphone. Mike Fredericks is a good friend; and a fantastically talented bassist. Lucky for me he lent his talents to this tune - the end stuff is pure magic. One of those things that make you smile very wide... Thanks Mike! I did all the drums, samples (orchestra and such) in Acid. The third song..... 'I Need A...' Originally this was cut in 1998 with the Marilyn Mack Group. That version is on the 1999 Dirty Cow Records release 'Under'. This version is closer to my original demos on it and adds one essential element in my mind- an Hammond B3. The intro is a tribute to an old commercial that ran when I was a kid. The commercial was for Marantz I believe, it had a kid who was supposed to be practicing his piano lessons and instead he recorded himself practicing and started a tape of it - jumping outside the window to play football instead. So this song starts with the same 'Fur Elise' as in the commercial plus some pumping hip/hop from a big door opening up, then fading quickly into this song.. Mike Fredericks again lends his talents to pop and thump and slap his way to groove city on his Fender Jazz Bass. It is the bedrock of this song and a job well done. Thanks a million Mike! I did this with my PRS CE22 stoptail and my Fulltone Clyde Wah through my Matchless Clubman head and Matchless 2x12 mic'd from about 2 feet away with my Shure KSM-32 mic. The non-wah'd guitar buried on the right is my PRS Custom 22 into the Matchless DC-30 on the Greenback speaker, close mic'd with the SM-57. The Mic preamp is the magic ART Protube that I fit with a NOS Telefunken 12AX7. That little sucker just kills me with what it does... The drums are from a sample disc of George Pendergast's playing - he has hit the skins for Dishwalla. I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards and noises in Acid The fourth song... 'Rainshine' I had been working on this for a few weeks, trying to capture the thought and communicate the feeling you have when all is gray and stormy outside, but you just know that it will be all right. Hope in the face of darkness. Expressed in a alt-rock pop song instrumental, that isn't easy. Right when I was about done, my good friend Jon S. aka 'BluesDoc' posted on the PRS Guitars Internet Forum about his wife Kathryn being diagnosed with breast cancer. That sent me spinning. Jon has emailed me some of his work that he has written about his experience as a ER Doc. It is really some heavy stuff, very personal, very touching, very tough. The way those stories and his presence on the PRS Forum has affected my life is more than I would have imagined. He has much to teach us all. It seemed to me that the song I was working on fit in with what I would do as a tribute to Kathryn, the exact kind of person that I had in mind when I composed the song. Ariel Pozzo again delivered the goods here, what a great player and a great guy. He is a master of many styles and just makes it sing on this one. My only suggestion before hand was to, '...let go and just play.' He did that in spades! :) Song stuff: I wrote, composed, and recorded the whole thing except Ariel's parts - he did them and sent them to me, I just mixed from there. I do the first verse solo and the first part of the second verse solo (up until the volume swells - that is Ariel). I did all the rhythm guitars - Ariel did the slide guitar and the solos from the volume swells in verse 2 until the end. For electric guitars, I used my PRS CE22 stoptail and PRS SAS into a Line 6 POD for most of the rhythm guitars. I used Vox, Matchless and Marshall tones throughout from the POD. My solos were with my PRS Custom 22 with the POD on a Soldano setting with some delay. The acoustic is the Taylor 810S I always brag about to everyone. To record yourself on acoustic is not an easy thing. What I had to do was pretty funny - I used my Shure KSM 32SL condenser mic feeding the ART Tube preamp. I was set up in the hall outside my office door. Due to the amount of noise two running computers make it was too loud to track in my office. So, I would have my headphones on, hit the keyboard to start recording, run out into the hall, slam the door, sit down and get setup and JUST make the front of the song recording wise. I am very happy with the results. The drums were not your normal samples, they are from Steve Smith - drummer for Journey and Vital Tech Tones (with Scott Henderson and Victor Wooten) among others. This is a super collection of recorded drums to work with, just outstanding sounds and playing. The groove and tone are care of Steve; arrangement and mix are care of about 15+ hours of hard work from me. The bass is my really cool Fender Marcus Miller Jazz bass (thanks Brian! ;-)) into a Bass POD set with a Eden tone. I also mixed in the direct signal to fill it out. Slight compression applied on tracking. The sampled stuff included some American Indian stuff and thunder, a running brook and rain. All care of Acid and lots of work tweaking. This was my tribute to Kathryn and it was my deepest hope for a speedy and full recovery. She has since made a full and complete recovery and I cannot express how happy that makes me. Thanks to Ariel for lending his vast talents again. The fifth song.... 'Radio Song' This was a song I wrote and played with the Marilyn Mack Group that was never finished, so I brought it to fruition for this project. I originally wrote this music playing acoustically on my Taylor 810s around a campfire and wanted to keep that feel. I wanted a freeform drum loop background instead of the drums - so no fills, no cymbals other than high hats. Neat percussion panned hard left and right. At some parts as the song builds there are actually three separate drummers all playing together to build the groove. The 'layered' feel. Mike Fredericks laid the bass on his Sadowsky fretless and I thought nailed the groove so well I immediately erased my scratch bass that I had cut- he blew my doors off. Thanks Mike! The main guitar is me and my Taylor 614ce. I tracked this running direct from the mic/piezo out of the guitar and used Antares Mic Modeler to make it sound the way it ended up here. Technology is cool when it works! The electric guitar heard on the harmonics and repeating part in the verses is me and my PRS CE22 trem through my Matchless DC-30. Ariel Pozzo did the melody guitars and solos. This stuff from him is just on a different level. Says Ariel, 'The guitar I used there is a PRS Custom 1987 Vintage Yellow loaded with Dragon I pickups. The 'synth' sound is the PRS through a patch I wrote on the GT-5 that's similar to a Whammy pedal. The 'jazzy' tone is the Dragon neck pickup with the sweet switch on. All the high-gain tones are the Dragon I treble through the GT-5 with a Soldano model patch I wrote. There are no harmonizers... all harmonies are actual separate multi-tracked guitars. I particularly dig the polyrhythmics that the lead guitar plays under the main melody on the choruses... I feel that's some of my best work to date.' Scott tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards and percussion in Acid. The sixth song.... 'Yvonne's Eyes For Me' This was my first collaboration with Ariel Pozzo back in fall 2000 and it was the beginning of a great relationship with him. He absolutely knocks me out with his talent, taste, chops, musical maturity and feel. I composed this song for my wife Yvonne, and is an expression of my love for her. 'But, hey,' you say, 'it isn't a ballad! It's a rock song.' Who said love wasn't fun? I composed the main song and Ariel stepped up to the challenge of coming up with the harmony guitars and solos, all of which blew me away. The fact that I am in Michigan, USA and Ariel is in Buenos Aires, Argentina is exceptional testament to the power of the Internet. Truly an international collaboration! I used my PRS Swamp Ash Special for all rhythm guitars, Line6's POD for the guitar amp tones, Fender Marcus Miller Jazz bass into Line6's Bass POD for the Bass guitar amp tones. Ariel reports he used his PRS Standard 22 guitar into of all things a Peavey 15w practice amps. Proof positive that tone is not the sole province of the + $1000 amp owners! ;-) Check what my 4 year old son calls 'the chicken cluck' right before the outro - that is a goose pimply moment every time I hear it. I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards, noises and percussion in Acid. The seventh song... 'Zach's Song' This is a song for my first son Zachary Scott. I originally composed this song for him before he was born and used to actually have my pregnant wife lie down on her back, put the acoustic guitar on her belly and play this song (it was a more loving and tender moment than this description sounds like!). Zack is 4 years old now and wants me to do a rock song for him - in due time. The orchestra is real - no midi. I did it all in Acid using their samples of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. The electric guitars are me on my PRS Singlecut on the left, my PRS McCarty Rosewood on the right both through my Matchless DC-30 mic'd with my SM57. The acoustic is my Taylor 614ce mic'd with my Shure KSM-32. After hearing a disc done by Steve Whaley of all acoustic work (and it is DAMN good too!), I approached Steve about working on this tune. Boy do I like what he brought. Steve recorded himself for this song on his little Boss BR-8 recorder and the results speak for themselves. I LOVE what he did on this tune. The eighth song... 'Colin's Song' Colin is my first nephew, and he was born just before Christmas 2000 - I wrote and recorded this the same day he was born. This one is for him. When I hear this song, I think of driving in California with the top down along the coast at sunset. Freedom. I used an open tuning, DADGAD and cut this with my custom made Peterson Custom Shop (which is my dad!) guitar tracked twice, panned left and right into the POD. I did the Bass with my Fender Marcus Miller Jazz bass into the Bass POD. I sent this to Ariel and he picked up the vibe and sent back the melody and solo guitars. He said it was easy to 'drop in' to the feel and the results sort of flow over you like waves on a beach. And he also said that this was his wife's favorite... how cool is that? The drums are from Steve Smith's sample disc. I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards, noises and percussion in Acid. The ninth song... 'Free Me' (Abby's Song) Abby is my first niece. She was born just as I finished composing this song in spring of 2001, and I dedicate it to her. (Lotsa tunes for babies, eh?) The chorus found here had been in the back of my mind for a long time waiting for the rest of the song to come. The verse rhythm guitar part is originally from another song that I had written (though in that song it was the chorus!) and the break here is a bit of a take on the intro to 'Nothingness' that I wrote the music for and is found in it's original state on the Marilyn Mack 'Under' CD. My working title for this song was 'Big Chorus' song. Creative, huh? This is a song about being free - it reminds me of flying when I listen to it. Go Abbie! The electrics are my PRS SAS into the Matchless DC-30 (it's actual first time I used the amp recording-wise!) on the left and my PRS Hollowbody II on the right (same amp). The acoustic is my Taylor 614ce run direct into the ADA preamp. The electric in the center with the harmonics and trem stuff is my PRS Custom 24 into the POD. The bass is me on the Fender MM Jazz into the ADA Preamp. Ariel did this one as the first of four in a batch in August 2001. It was an amazing thing to me... He was just flowing with melodies and interesting angles and approaches to my material. The work he did here is just so dead nuts 'on' that mixing it was a VERY easy job. Ariel, you kill me (in a good way!)... I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards, noises and percussion in Acid.. The tenth song... 'Spacing' My son calls this the 'spooky song' - I was going for a spooky groove out in the open with the weird whacked samples then setting up a simple two chord vamp that hits a groove, then hitting with a simple alt rock chorus. I like the feel of this one and the percussion was a major undertaking to get right. I am glad for the effort! I was shooting for layers building as the simple rhythm part plays over it. I laid down a bass part, liked it... But something wasn't right. Steve Whaley had just finished working on Zach's Song and I tossed this at him to see what he thought of it. So he calls me up and says, 'Let me do the bass part and I'll do the whole thing...' The bass part is Steve, the clean solos are Steve and the rock solos over the chorus parts are Steve. You can say that he put his mark on this one for sure! I was going to edit the song down in length... Until Steve did his thing to it all - and I wouldn't lose a second of it now. The electric guitars from me are all the PRS CE22 stoptail into the POD. Samples, drums and percussion were tweaked, arranged and mixed by me in Acid. The eleventh song... 'Unafraid' This originally appeared on Ariel Pozzo's Aspen Records' 2000 release 'Permanent Damage'. My feel for this song is one of riding a motorcycle late at night on an open road (see a 'transportation' theme trend here?) Ariel took a cool direction with his parts - and took this song in a direction I could have never thought of or done. He nailed it in a way I never conceived of and did all the melody guitars and solos... it's the magic of collaboration. Thanks Ariel Ariel writes this about it: 'I did all the lead guitars using the '87 (PRS) Standard with the original stamped pickups, and the Groove Tubes trio preamp into the power section of the Marshall. The main melody at 4:57 is the bass pickup with the tone rolled off. (I have a push-pull tone/sweet switch combination installed on all my PRSs). I did three channels here, panned left-center-right. At 5:25 I switched to the treble pickup/sweet switch in. At 6:45 you get a fade in with auto pan... I used the treble pickup with the tone rolled all the way down and a VERY HIGH GAIN setting on the 'mean' channel of the Trio preamp. At 7:27 a Boss PH-2 phaser kicks in. At 8:15 you can hear the '87 Standard (stamped treble pickup) with the sweet switch in straight into the third channel on the Marshall set to a very high midrange response.' For my parts, I used my PRS CE22 hardtail (bridge pickup (Dragon II) with volume rolled off to about 8.5) through the POD with a Vox setting panned on the right and my Taylor 614 panned left. The bass is my Fender Marcus Miller Sig Jazz run into the Bass POD. I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards, noises and percussion in Acid. The 12th Song - 'Wing It!' I had done this song originally with the Marilyn Mack Group and it turned out great. Problem is - with my departure from that band - no one will ever probably hear that version of it (called 'Our House'). So here is my version of it, reworked and fleshed out. I totally dig the bridge part in this song - it isn't 'linear', but it felt right and I really like the result. One of the cool things on this song is that I took my Matchless Clubman and bridged it into the input of my Matchless DC-30 and stuck the Shure KSM-32SLS mic out about 2 feet from it all and then plugged in my PRS Hollowbody II direct into the amps - a 'wall of Matchless' tone. Both amps were wide open - cranked. Panned hard left is the HBII on the bridge pickup (9 on the volume and 8 on the tone pot) - and hard right is the same thing with the neck pickup (9 on the volume and 9 on the tone pot). I tweaked the gain up a bit on the left side. The center 'spice' guitar is the HBII with the same exact amp setup - with the gains cranked on both amps. Both amps were WIDE open and it was quite the furious sound - recorded and mixed in for your listening pleasure! The bass is my handy Fender Jazz into the ART ProTube preamp. Steve Whaley added the acoustics and Ariel did the melodies and solos. I could rave on and on about what those guys added, but suffice to say that this one song is my personal favorite on the whole disc. I love all these songs, but this one just hit the mark in a way that means a lot to me... Deeply. I feel I got my best tone ever for me and the work of these other guys is just perfectly spot on. I tweaked, arranged and mixed all the drums, keyboards, noises and percussion in Acid. The drums are from George Pendergast of Dishwalla. Gotta love the world of samples. MASTERING I took my project over to Les Schefman's studio and he took me to school on how a mastered project should sound. I got Izotope's 64bit Ozone the following day and messed with it, then dived into it and then totally committed to it. This program, used correctly and with great care, good ears and proper monitoring is totally amazing. I can say nothing stronger about it other than I COMPLETELY redid my own CD and recommend this program (it is a VST plug-in suite currently only supported on PC platform) over most anything on the market - hardware and software included. It doesn't come with Les's ability; he set the bar so very high, but this program is extremely powerful and completely professional sounding if used correctly. After more hours than I will admit to publicly, I think I got it right. I didn't want the hyped up level mashing stuff that is called music nowadays, I wanted the music to breath more than say the newest Red Hot Chili Pepper's disc (which is completely crushed and leveled so hard it hurts to listen for more than 3 songs in my opinion), but it had to sound right. So I did some in-depth analysis of discs that I liked and matched their level (-13.6db average for those techies that care!). Other things that mastering entails is your fades, timing between tunes and sequence order of the songs. Special thanks to Les for his time, his expertise and his mentoring me on things to listen for outside of a good mix... The 'little things' like stereo imaging, depth of field and ambiance. One thing to note is that when you are doing your own stuff, it is often hard to 'hear' it as a finished product - you hear all the bits, the mix, the parts.... Les (and others) helped me to put it in place as a finished work, and pointed out the mastering should only enhance it as a whole. I hope you agree that I 'got' it there. GEAR! (for this project anyway!) Computer setup: 800mhz Dell 4100 Desktop, 512 meg Ram, 20 Gig EIDE Drive for programs and archiving; 9 Gig SCSI for audio data. Two Yamaha DSP Factory interface cards with one AX44 breakout box and one ABdigital AX-88 breakout (24bit AD/DA) for the front end; KRK V6 self-powered Studio Monitors and a Hafler TM10 self powered Subwoofer. AKG K240DF headphones for after-hours work. Microboards SCSI 8x CD burner. Software used: Minnetonka 'MxTrax' for DSP Factory for tracking and mixing; Sonic Foundry's Acid Pro 2.0/3.0; Wavelab Pro 3.0; Sonic Foundry's Soundforge 4.0/5.0; Izotope's 'Ozone' for mastering; Plug-ins by TC Electronics; Antares; PSP Audioware; Timeworks; Steinberg and others. Shure KSM-32, SM57 and Beta 87 microphones PreSonus MP-20 Preamp ART Pro Tube Microphone Preamp (with NOS Telefunken 12AX7 tube) Line 6 POD 2.0 Line 6 Bass POD Guitars: 1991 PRS Custom 24 1994 PRS CE22 (alder/maple)(trem) 1995 PRS Custom 22 1997 PRS CE22 (mahogany/maple)(stoptail) 1998 PRS Swamp Ash Special 1998 PRS McCarty Rosewood 1999 PRS McCarty Hollowbody II 2001 PRS Singlecut Artist 1996 Taylor 810s 2000 Taylor 614ce Amps: 1993 Matchless DC-30 1996 Matchless Clubman 35 with Matchless ESD 2x12 Effects: Fulltone Clyde Wah I also used Line 6 effects, D'Addario strings and D'Andrea picks.