My Instruments and Equipment

CICERO Intel Pentium 4 2.5Ghz Processor Desktop Computer: My recording machine. Windows XP SP2, 768M ram, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS, Sound Blaster Audigy 2, and an onboard Realtek AC97 Audio source making a total of 3 MIDI ports and 3 Line Inputs for me to use. I have a 40Gb HD as well as an extra 160Gb HD, to store all my music on.

Yamaha ERG-121 Electric Guitar: Agathis body, bolt-on maple neck, 350mm radius Sonokeling fingerboard, 5-position pickup selector with 2 humbuckers and 1 single-coil, vintage-type vibrato bridge, 22 frets, and a nice black finish (with no ugly pick guard!). I'd rather have 24 frets, but this serves me for now. We've been through a lot together, this little guitar and I. It's starting to feel the pain of age, but it's still not failing me!

This guitar was bought for me after my old Univox "Strat-copy" guitar starting biting the dust (it buzzed a lot and there were always problems with loose connections on the inside. Required a lot of soldering!). This is where the heart and soul of most of my songs comes from. I have a standard selection of 4 different sized/strength picks that I use all the time for various styles of playing (as well as my fingernails, and a finger pick for when one of my nails breaks) and a nice blue clamp-on capo.

Yamaha PSR-248 MIDI Keyboard: Touch-sensitive 61-key standard-sized keyboard with a large multi-function backlit LCD display. Has several featurues such as "smart chord", "chord dictionary", and "melody guide". 100 preset songs, 100 panel voices with 16-note maximum polyphony, and 100 preset style variations. MIDI In/Out and footpedal inputs available. Controls include tempo, multi pad, transpose, tuning, accompaniment volume, song volume, and metronome volume. I don't use any of the onboard features of this keyboard (the sounds are REALLY bad and the lack of reverb effects doesn't help either). I simply use it as a MIDI controller.

I plan on getting a different MIDI controller in the future that has pitch/mod wheel controllers so that I can control my music in a more varied manner.

Roland/Boss GT-6 Guitar Effects Processor: My dream come true. With too many features to list, this little tank has helped me reach musical heights that I've always wanted to get to! Has onboard overdrive/distortion, reverb, chorus, delay, compressor, limiter, harmonizer, preamp simulator (with mic placement controller), tremelo, guitar synth, and many many more effects with the ability to order them in any way you choose! 85 banks with 4 patches per bank (30 or so programmable) and an expression pedal to make this baby the most perfect all-in-one dream box to ever be worth the spending of my hard-earned!

Peavey Bandit 112 Amplifier: I bought this 80 Watt wonder to be able to play live in large places and still be heard. I'd had bad experiences helping out with music in different churches and church functions while playing with my old dinky little Yamaha amp that became more of a hinderance than a help. I told myself I needed something to at least allow me to fit in with a large sound system. This is what I got. Has a 12" Sheffield 1230 speaker, two switchfootable channels, T.Dynamics & Presence controllers as well as a 3-band EQ, reverb, and gain controls. It also has modern/vintage voicing switch on the clean channel.

Roland MT-32 "Linear Algorithm" Module: It's technically 32-voice maximum polyphony, but since most timbres can use up to 4 max "partials" per instrument patch in reality you get something more along the lines of 20 to 22 notes maximum polyphony. However, you can use one MT-32 in conjunction with another compatible LA module (CM-64, CM-500, CM-32L, or MT-100) to increase the maximum polyphony. Despite this minor setback this is an amazing little black box with AMAZING sound for it's time! A few of the sounds are pretty cheesy, but all the important ones are simply incredible; rivaling the latest up-to-date MIDI modules. Having been built before the General MIDI standard was invented, it has its own 128-instrument patch bank.

Since its sound engine is based on "Linear Algorithm" and not PCM samples like more modern modules, this little wonder also gives you the ability to create your own timbres/sounds onto a memory patch bank (provided you have the software)! Has MIDI In, Out, and Thru ports as well as left and right audio outputs.

Roland MT-200 GS MIDI Sequencer: PCM based MIDI module/sequencer based on Roland's GS instrument mapping. 24-note maximum polyphony. Also supports General MIDI. This module was made for the people who don't have computers to record and sequence a MIDI song. It has a total of 4 tracks plus a rhythm track with the ability to record multiple channels in one track. Limited, but not useless for the beginner. Has a disk drive so you can save songs that you record and play them back whenever you wish. I rarely have use for that function, though. I mainly use this module for its sounds and the ability change patches and channels and to control effects such as chorus, delay, metronome, and reverb directly on the box without the need for any outside sequencing software. Has 2 MIDI inputs, 1 MIDI output, and 1 MIDI thru port as well as headphones and left and right audio outputs. Also has a footswitch/expression pedal input.

Roland CM-500 LA/GS Module: The CM series was designed mainly for computer gamers (CM = Computer Music). This particular model is compatible with both GS and LA MIDI songs. The LA portion is newer (yet slightly less appealing than an actual MT-32. The vibrato settings are much too fast to be able to use) and contains some extra effects that the MT-32 doesn't have. The LA portion is just like the MT-32 in that is has about 22-note polyphony, but can be used in conjunction with another CM-500, CM-64, CM-32L, MT-100, or MT-32 to increase the polyphony. The GS portion has about 24-note polyphony. Because it was made for gamers and not musicians, there are no controls on the device at all except for a volume knob. Has headphones, left, and right audio outputs and MIDI In, Out, and Thru ports. This is the device I use mostly when I'm composing with sounds not from my guitar.

Cakewalk Sonar 5 Producer Edition: For so long I was using MAGIX Audio Studio 5 until I finally got a hold of this baby. It allows me to record in either MIDI or digital audio at the same time and has a number of built in effects like reverb, chorus, param EQ, etc. This is my main recording program. I mix and finalize everything with this.

I also have an older Win 3.1 version of Cakewalk that I sometimes refer to for MIDI purposes.

MAGIX Audio Studio 5: A cheap $12 mixing program I found at Radio Shack (now called The Source). I turned away from this program as soon as I got Sonar. With only a 3-band EQ and cheap reverb effects it's a starter program at best. I still use it sometimes when I want to lay new songs down quickly. Fast and easy to use.

FLStudio 4.5.1 Producer Edition: For when I want more electronic sounding songs or need more real-time effects options, I turn to this monster sequencer for help. I used to use it for just sequencing drum tracks until I got Sonar. 98% of The Spiral Sky was made using just FL Studio. Has a TON of built in effects such as reverb, chorus, distortion, echo, arpeggiator, vocoder and many many more.

Realfont 2.1 Free Soundfont: One of the best free soundfonts out there. Most notable are the drum sounds, which I use extensively from this baby. Weighs at a hefty 101Mb.

The Atomic Soundfont V1.0: A 38Mb soundfont with lots of nice sounds and another excellent drum kit. Despite it's small filesize, it's actually quite good.

Special thanks to my wife Amanda for the photos!

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