Boss GT-001 Effects and Nord Lead 2

Boss GT-001 with Nord Lead
Boss GT-001 with Nord Lead

Just today I found a used Boss GT-001 effect processor and thought the size and form factor was perfect for the Nord Lead 2. I was interested in the Tera Echo effect that can be found in the GT-001 as well. I was going to buy a dedicated Tera Echo but for a little more that a used one I could get the GT-001 and have a whole slew of effects for the Nord Synth and other stuff. So far, the GT-001 which is similar to the Boss GT-100 has been a wonderful addition. Below are some initial thoughts as I worked with it today.

First, there is no dedicated BYPASS switch on the Boss GT-001. To start fresh or basically have a patch initialized, I turned all the effect data off and saved a dummy patch called “BYPASS”. I then assigned it to Favorite A button which allows me to call up the Bypass patch at anytime. The GT-001 probably colors the synth sound a little but I didn’t really notice any major sound difference. There is also a bypass switch located in the Tuner function, but found just creating a dedicated patch to work fine. I’m not even sure if the Tuner bypass function will work as desired anyway.

The second favorite B patch I created was a simple EQ and Reverb Combo Patch for the Nord Lead 2. This allows me to boost the bass, add mids, or sprinkle some reverb onto the basic sound. I then created a Favorite C patch that added some Tera Echo and that was a blast to work with. I love that Tera Echo on the Nord. Finally, my initial Favorite D patch is a dotted 8th note delay which is fun to play along with the Boss RC-202. You can dial in the BPM, so although there is no external midi sync, one can effectively play with the same BPM which works just fine in my book.

Like I mentioned above there are no Midi Din jacks on the back. Yes, that’s a shame, but the GT-001 does allow you to dial in the BPM to match your synth, sequencer, or in my case the Boss RC-202. I actually have the Nord Lead 2 midi’d up to the Boss RC-202 so that the RC-202 controls the Nord’s arp tempo. The Boss GT-001 I just punch in the BPM and I’m set. So far I’ve had zero timing issues. For live playing, I think this setup works just fine, but for studio recording, one might wish for the dedicated midi connections.

The individual effects and effect chain are very easy to control with the GT-001 itself. You actually do NOT need the Tone Studio software to work with the GT-001. I did however spend some time with the GT Tone Studio doing some basic tweaks on all of the patches to make them more “synthesizer” friendly. I now have a 200 patch bank of synth patches without all of the guitar and vocal oriented effects added. Reverbs, EQ, OD, Delay, Chorus, Comp, and a few other effects were changed to sound better with a synthesizer. A cool thing about the GT-001 is you can create your own user category for the 200 patches. So, I was able to create a “SYNTH Category” and keep my synth patches separate from the guitar ones. Very nice.

My hardware setup is basically the Nord Lead 2 connected to the Boss GT-001 which then goes into the Boss RC-202. The RC-202 then goes into my mixer and out my PA system. While the effects are excellent in the Boss RC-202, I enjoy creating specific synth patches on the Boss GT-001 that might consist of several effects at once. Basically,like a stomp box, the Boss RC-202 is easy to quickly turn on and off effects. While the Boss GT-001 does have four favorite buttons, it is not as easy to disengage individual effects on the fly. However, it is VERY easy to sculpt your own sound and then save that patch for a one click solution.

I have not tried using the foot controller option for the Boss GT-001 just yet. I plan to plug in an expression pedal most likely. I also haven’t used the XLR jack yet which provides a mic option. I actually use both a Boss VE-20 and TC-Helicon Voice Live 2 for vocals, so it’s likely I won’t use that feature anytime soon. It’s nice to have it though. The build is not that bad with the Boss GT-001 and I like very “light” objects on my synthesizers to avoid devices falling or banging the expensive synth gear. So while guitar players might cringe at the light plastic feel of the GT-001, us synth players might actually prefer it. The Boss RC-202 has a better build by the way than the GT-001, but not by much. Note that the Boss GT-001 and Boss RC-202 are not battery powered in case someone asks.

While the Boss GT-001 is not setup for synths straight out of the box, it can handle them very well once you go in and tweak the patches. The preset patches are awful for the Nord Lead which is why I spent and hour or so tweaking all of the 200 patches in the Tone Studio Software on the Mac to my liking. I then could tolerate and tweak further with the synth plugged in. The effects are shaping up really nice now and it’s so nice to have such a small, yet powerful effects unit on the Nord Lead. The effects do sound great and definitely help the Nord Lead 1, 2, and 3 catch up to the Nord A1 in terms of that vintage effect sound. The GT-001 fattens up the Nord very nicely.

I’ll update this post further with additional thoughts as I progress with the Boss GT-001 effect processor.

Boss RC-202 Looper and Nord Lead 2

Boss RC-202 with Nord Lead
Boss RC-202 with Nord Lead

I recently picked up a used Boss RC-202 and after some initial struggles, found the looper to be an excellent companion with most of my synths. While this article may not necessarily be a review, I thought I would post some initial thoughts about my experience with the Boss RC-202 and the Nord Lead 2.

Connections are pretty straight forward if you have ever experienced the Boss RC-505. They are very similar. The two connections that I found troublesome though were the “aux in” and “phone” jacks found on the front end of the RC-202 device. In the photo with the Nord Lead you’ll see that if I were to use those jacks, the cords would hang over the keys. Not good! Fortunately I don’t require either when using a mixer so all is ok, but for those wishing to use headphones and/or the aux in jack it could be a major problem. They should have put the jacks on the rear of the device or on the right side.

Button pushing is similar but a bit different on the RC-202 than that of the RC-505. I found some confusion at first since functions were found in different places on the Boss RC-202. I also found that you had to push the value button to toggle between sub menus. That wasn’t so intuitive coming from the RC-505. I must admit, the Boss RC-202 requires a quick read through the quick start manual to get a grip on the functionality. I also found the several quick video tutorials from Boss on Youtube to be helpful too. Maybe I was tired the other night, but things were not easy to understand in the beginning.

What’s FANTASTIC about the RC-202 is that it’s sits almost perfectly on the Nord Lead 2 and perhaps will on other synths too. I love the slight change in how tracks are created and organized. Basically I can get 8 individual sections in a bank with two tracks per section. Using the memory button or foot controller you can switch between the sections. The two play buttons represent the two tracks. So I could easily create an intro, verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, etc… on the fly without stopping the RC-202. With the RC-505 I can basically only get up to 5 sections but only one track each. Or 5 tracks layered in one section or a mix thereof. Perhaps I could switch memory locations for additional sections, but it’s clunky on the RC-505 compared to the RC-202.

I find the RC-202 works better for song creation and breaking the loop sound. My goal when I loop is to not sound like I’m looping but rather creating a song or progression. The RC-202 with the two tracks is a good compromise to get yourself quickly up and running with overdubs, but at the same time allowing you get on with creating the song. While I like the RC-505 with 5 tracks, it can be difficult to manage all of those tracks live. For some reason I was able to focus on song creation rather than just working on a loop. That’s pretty cool I think.

The effects are brilliant and very easy to use ONCE you wrap your head around the process. Again, it not that intuitive as you would think. You hit the effects button and “WOW!” you see all these lights come on. You need to consult the manual and learn what’s going on so that you can not let the effects detract from the song creation. Maybe it’s just me, but with the RC-505 and other Boss Loopers it wasn’t so crazy. Once you get the feel of the effects though, it’s simply amazing what you can do and how AGAIN it lends to song creation rather than just looping on and on and on and on and on…..laugh!

The Boss RC-202 is probably the first looper that doesn’t sound boring after I lay down some loops. With the effects and the superb ability to change memories quickly, I can change the feel and the direction of the song instantly. Sure all of this seems the same on the RC-505, but the workflow is just plain different. You will know what I mean when you find yourself working with both. I’m pretty sure you’ll be scratching your head wondering how two similar machines make you approach them differently. This was the best surprise of the Boss RC-202 and why I think it will likely become my favorite looper.

Note that I used a Boss FS6 foot controller and could effectively record loops using my feet. I had no problem keeping my hands on the Nord Lead 2 while creating loops. It’s also super easy to change the CTL assignment of the pedal without stopping the RC-202 as well. After you create your loops you can change from recording to automatic memory switch perhaps so that you can toggle between the sections of your song. Of course you will need to have your loops set or recorded, but even then you could go back to your old CTL settings if you like. In short, it seem you can adjust any setting WITHOUT stopping the looper. How you make those transitions is left entirely up to your creativity rather than any lack of functionality on the RC-202.

All in all, I can’t recommend enough the Boss RC-202 for synth or guitar players. The fact that you can sync via midi and transfer loops to and from the unit is just icing on the cake. At the moment I just can’t find anything wrong with it other than the “aux in” and “phone” jacks on the front end. Oh, and the Boss RC-202 definitely feels more sturdy and better constructed than the RC-505. Boss did a good job with this except for the initial price. In Japan, the street price is $400 and almost the same as the RC-505. Way too expensive and I suspect sales are sluggish in Japan. I had to wait for a used one to pop up for $250. I think in the States it’s selling for $299, probably less. The list price is a bit high I feel so shop around if you can.

I’ll update in the comments section with more thoughts as I work with the RC-202 more. Stay tuned!

Peavey 5150 Combo 212 Amp Static Problem

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post here to see if anyone might recognize this issue with tube amps.

I just recently acquired a used Peavey 212 Combo Signature amplifier. Overall it sounds great once it kicks in after about 20 minutes due to this static noise I’m getting. Attached is a video I just created so you can hear the noise. I’m not sure if this is due to bad tubes, caps, or perhaps a pot somewhere. My guess is either caps or the tubes. I am new to tube amps specifically so I’m not in the know with all the noises these things make just yet. I came from using a Roland JC-120 which can be noisy as well. The problem here is this behavior is not hissing, rather an erratic sort of radio static.

Thanks for any insight into the matter.

Note, I do plan to change the tubes as I have no idea when they have been changed if at all. I picked up the amp at a used music store in Nagano Japan and was not able to test the amp, but it was practically given to me so I it was ok. Perhaps this is why!

MIJ Mosrite Ventures Model Japan

I recently saw a Mosrite type guitar in a second hand shop near where I live, but couldn’t quite I.D. the guitar. I attached three photos I took quickly with my phone. Everything hardware on the guitar is labeled “Mosrite”. It also includes a hard case with a small button sized “Mosrite” logo on it. The guitar is missing the arm unfortunately. There are also a couple of small holes above the nut that probably had a custom tremelo retainer but I don’t think that would be stock. The Head Logo is missing “California” or anything related to that, so I’m guessing it’s made in Japan.

I collect old Japanese vintage guitars like Greco for example and can tell this guitar has been used and is probably older than the year 2000. In Japanese the info/price tag which is turned around says Fillmore Mosrite in Japanese, but I’m not sure how accurate that is. The Sales clerk had no idea the origin of the guitar. They sell lots of other stuff besides guitars, so it’s very possible the staff has no idea what sort of guitar this is. Oh, actually the bolt on black plate does say “Made in Japan” but that’s it. There is no serial number. Also, I noticed the two knobs do not have a Mosrite letter “M” that I’ve seen on most of the Mosrite guitars of value.

Any ideas on whether this guitar might be any good? The price tag on it is a straight up $500 bucks. I’m new to Mostrite related guitars and find this particular model quite fascinating. Note I did play the guitar and it sounds and feels great to my ears.

Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan 3
Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan Head
Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan 1
Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan Body
Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan 2
Mosrite Ventures Model MIJ Japan Bridge

Boss RC-3 No Power Problem Review

Boss RC-3 No Power Problem
Boss RC-3 No Power Problem

Today I picked up a Boss RC-3 Loopstation that looks pretty much brand new. The only problem was that it wouldn’t power on using either the Boss PSA adapter or via batteries. I bought it for $10 thinking I might get lucky and be able to get the pedal going but so far I’ve had no luck. Basically the pedal is dead and after some further research on the internet, there appears to be a power issue trend starting with these.

Now, I’ve had a Boss RC-3 before and had zero problems with it before I sold it. I am using the same type of batteries and required PSA adapter to power this newly acquired RC-3. Again the problem is that the RC-3 won’t power on. There are no lights or anything. I do get sound going through the pedal. Meaning I get a clean sound when either the battery or PSA adapter is connected. If I disconnect the PSA adapter or take out the battery, I get no sound. Note that no LED lights or any sign of life appears when trying to power on the pedal.

I’ve also used Mono cables and inserted appropriately the cables to the A output jack which acts as the “power on” to the Boss RC-3. Still nothing. I then took a good hour and dismantled the entire pedal and check for any obvious issues. Again nothing. In addition, I checked for continuity on most of the points and also checked for any cold solder joints. I couldn’t find anything wrong at all.

Thus it’s very strange that this Boss RC-3 won’t power up at all. Others have claimed that the Boss RC-3 while working fine one day will suddenly stop and not turn on. It’s dead! This is a great little pedal, but I’m afraid that unless the problem is found, we could see quite a few more of these “very expensive” pedals crapping out in the future. So I thought I’d post my experience and will update if I make any progress. Beware of possible power issues with the Boss RC-3.

Stay tuned!

Roland JP-8000 Distorted Low Output and Repair

Roland JP-8000 Distorted Output
Roland JP-8000 Distorted Output

Recently I acquired a second Roland JP-8000 that actually was in like new condition, but it had a couple of output problems. The first was that the outputs L and R would no longer work, thus they were dead silent. In addition, the headphone jack would output a good signal but only up to level 6 or 7 and would then crackle or produce a loud distorted sound.

After some reading and research, I first changed the battery and did a memory reset. Nothing changed.

I then ordered and changed all of the OP AMPS on the Jack Board and Board B. Something changed! I now started to get output out of my L and R jacks but only to a level of 2 or 3. I also began getting some very bad distortion at higher levels that was very erratic. The OP AMP replacement seemed to have brought the jacks back to life but only to a point.

Thus I’m still faced with having a JP-8000 that doesn’t really produce any useable output. My next step is to replace the caps. I’ve read that replacing the caps on the Jack board didn’t fix much anything with others who had the same problem. However, I did find that if you change the caps on the Main Board, it does apparently fix the output distorted issue. I am now in search of the replacement caps as shown in the photo attached to the article.

It appears the Roland JP-8000 is one of those synths that is doomed to have some major failures as it ages. Not all synths are like this as some age better than others. I’d say pretty soon we’re going to see more Roland JP-8000 synths on the used market broken. Most likely they are going to have the distorted output problem. Note the JP-8080 rack version uses different caps and components than the JP-8000 which maybe is a hint that Roland knew the components used in the JP-8000 were not all that great. The Roland JP-8080 is pretty rock solid and I would recommend that over the JP-8000 if you are looking to invest in this particular synth.

In any event, once I make some progress on the Roland JP-8000, I’ll update this post. Also note that this again is my second Roland JP-8000. I have another in perfect working order which I may use to swap out boards to try and 100% isolate the problematic board. I did this with a couple of Roland Juno-2 synths I had which saved a huge amount of detective work. That certainly would help great in finding the problem with the distorted outputs on the JP-8000.

Stay tuned!!

Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer Display Repair

Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer
Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer

A few months ago I picked up a Casio FZ-1 Digital Sampling Synthesizer in Nagano, Japan for $10. Yeah, it was 1,000 Japanese yen and I couldn’t believe it. I thought there probably would be a ton of things wrong with it, but to my surprise everything worked great, even the belt driven floppy drive. The minor problem ( so I thought ) was that the display needed a new foil for the backlight. I’ve done this many times on other synths and it’s really pretty straight forward.

NOT SO with the Casio FZ-1 Sampler!!

Unfortunately, there are these really old etched ribbon cables attached ( soldered/taped ) to both the display and LCD board. Altogether there are six cables and boy do they look detailed and complicated. The problem is that when replacing the foil for the backlight, it’s almost too easy for the cables to lose a connection or two. This causes missing lines and even garbled data on the display. In fact for the better part of a day while trying to fix the problem, I had a really nice shiny LCD, but no text!!

After some research, I ran down to the 100 yen shop and bought some balsa wood, metal clamps for paper, and 0.6K insulation tubing I use when I solder wires together. I then proceeded to clamp down all cables attached to the display and LCD board. I managed to clamp all sides and after removing the metal handles on the clamps, could successfully put the display back into the FZ-1. The LCD board I could not fit back into it’s original position, so I just secured it slightly above it’s normal spot. I then closed the FZ-1 back up and the photo below is my FINAL result. No way am I going to go any further as likely it will either result in more missing lines or too much work!!

Casio FZ-1 Display Repair
Casio FZ-1 Display Repair

Are there any alternative displays out there? Not according to my research just yet. You basically have to find another FZ-1 or just cross your fingers and hope that you don’t crimp, pull, or mess up the ribbon cable when changing the backlight. Had I known I would go through all of this trouble, I probably would not have done the change. If you can see your screen reasonably well in your studio, I don’t recommend putting in a new backlight. However, if you need to perform or play in darker venues, then of course you’ll have to just go for it.

Best of luck with your display repair. Be VERY careful with those ribbon cables. The instructions that came with my Backlit foil didn’t say a word about them.