Spring definitely seems to be getting its act together and we’ve had some really sunny days at the studio. One of the great side effects of this is that our garden is really starting to kick into high gear. Loads of plants growing, blooming and budding. It’s south facing so it’s a real sun trap and a great place to take a break from rehearsing and sit with a coffee or a cold drink!
We’ve got ourselves a new bass amp! We’ve been treating the guitarists and drummers to new stuff so we thought it was time to give the bass players something to jump up and down about. This baby packs 350 watts into her tiny frame and 2 10″ speakers to give you that classic Ampeg growl. You can also plug a 1 x 15″ cab in and it’ll up-rate to 500 watts and give your guitarist something to think about when they do that ridiculous solo that doesn’t need to be there.
We’ll be hiring her out for £5 a session. Have fun!
Here are some photos of the bands that played at our festival. Massive thanks to The Cedar, Why We Love, Psychedelic Hearts Club, Crystal Balloon, Downard, Fake Plastic Chairs (featuring a certain owner of a rehearsal studio), Sons of Liberty and Mike Dennis for making the day so much fun! We’ll see you again next year!
As the festival is a celebration of the bands that rehearse with us at the studios we thought we’d give you a bit of a low down on the bands that are playing on the day. You can find out more on this page.
This multi-instrumental band are a joy to watch as you’re never really sure who’s going to be playing what at any given time. Crafting beautiful arrangements and harmonies with sometimes cutting wit and light humour. If you are new to The Cedar, you are in for a treat.
This Bristol four piece has been a staple favourite of ours ever since we first head them rehearsing at the studios. Instantly recognisable for their charming brand of sparkly guitar pop, bittersweet lyrics and blood harmonies, all showcased in energetic live shows. They’re currently promoting their new album – The Boy You Knew – and getting a great reception for it so far.
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Up and coming South Wales band Crystal Balloon are already making waves in the local area with their brand of Americana influenced power pop. Their debut EP – Hurricane – will be out in July and having heard an advanced copy we can tell you it sounds amazing!
We first saw Mike playing at a pub in Totterdown and were instantly captivated by his unique blend of classical loops and hip hop lyrics. It’s a mesmerising mix and one that has seen him played all over BBC 6Music recently and described by Tom Robinson as “…like a hybrid between early Example and Franz Ferdinand at their knowing, cheeky best.”
Downard are a duo that describe themselves as an “atmospheric two-piece rock combo. Punishing distorto-riffs+math-slam drums+swirly voice confusion = we.” All we know is they sound incredible and you can’t believe that it’s just two people in the room when they get into full flight.
Sons of Liberty
This unashamedly Southern American rock covers band have been with us since the beginning and gig regularly around the South West to great acclaim. As you can see from the video below they go all out capturing the look and feel of your favourite Southern rock bands – Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and more.
The Psychedelic Hearts Club have only recently started rehearsing with us but they created a sound that we thought was fantastic and wanted to showcase as part of the festival. They’re taking classic Beatles tracks and giving them a slightly different twist via Muse and other contemporary rock bands. It’ll be fun to listen to, that much we know!
2015 – Festivals, film shoots and flapjacks
It’s been a busy year here at the studio with more and more bands rehearsing with us, lots of improvements to the reception/cafe space, planting a studio garden and Firebird Studios getting out and about supporting local gigs, events, and festivals. It’s been amazing to read all the lovely reviews you’ve given us on Facebook and Google too, it’s great to know you think we’re getting it right!
In July we celebrated our 1st Anniversary with an outdoor mini festival in the car park. We invested in a proper festival stage from Enlightened Lighting and it was worth it as it looked and sounded incredible! For us, it was a way of saying thank you to the bands who’ve rehearsed with us over the first year of running the studios and for everyone to hear each other’s music. Despite the unpredictable summer weather, it was a really fun event and great to see so many Firebird bands playing live at the studios!
2015 also saw Firebird Studios get involved with some of the biggest and best Bristol Festivals. Swedish band Grieved flew in to use our studio prior to their performance at Temples Festival.
In July/August we were proud sponsors of the Synthetica Events Battle of the Bands, which saw the winners – Myst – take away £1000 as a first prize. The band were in to rehearse recently and said they were using the money to record their first EP. Can’t wait to hear that!
And who’d’ve thought we’d get the chance to rock out on a pirate ship, but that’s what we did with A Doubtful Sound when they asked us to provide a PA for their video shoot on The Matthew. The video was shot by Push The Button who are the people to go to if you’re looking for the best quality music videos! The band are now sadly moving back to New Zealand and we are going to miss them and all their rock nonsense very much!
So as you can see it’s been a pretty packed year. We’ve really enjoyed finding our feet with the studio and getting to be a part of the great Bristol music scene and hear so much good music. Happy New Year and see you for lots more music in 2016!
Do you ever find that when you practice you feel great by the end of the session but you come back the next day and it’s all disappeared and you’re having to start again from scratch? Don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s the way you practice. This blog post gives you a great insight into how to get more out of your practice sessions.
We’re very happy to announce that we have a new violin teacher joining our ranks and it’s the lovely Clare Tomlinson! If you’ve caught the amazing live act The People’s String Foundation or a host of other acts around the South West (Aaron Douglas, Ruarri Joseph and more), than you’ve seen her play. Now she’s bringing her bounteous knowledge to our studios to bring on the next crop of violinists. She’ll be teaching on Mondays and Wednesdays for us, you can book your lesson here!
Thought I’d write a quick note to say that we’re holding auditions for covers bands, Soloists, Duos and the like at the studios next week! We still got a couple of slots available for it so read the blurb below, and get involved!
Calling all young talented west country musicians…..we are holding auditions at Firebird Studios, Bristol between 12pm and 7pm on Wednesday the 30th of September.
We’re looking for:
Soloist,duos, bands and DJs for well paid UK function work, winter tours in the French ski resorts, all year round week long residencies in Nice France, summer residencies in Portugal and well paid pub gigs in Bristol and Cardiff.
The brief is party music and we’re looking for fun, high energy, talented acts that can do the standard covers stuff but also have a twist (with a DJ mixing/MC, 80’s covers, ‘80s cheese, funk, Soul, glam rock, rockabilly, classic dance anthems, some beat box, rapping, some Ska/Northern Soul/Motown……anything but brown eyed girls or sex on fire! That said, it still needs to have a mainstream element that will appeal to the masses.
If you are interested in being considered for the auditions e-mail us some live audio or live video footage and any links to email@example.com and we’ll book you a slot!
We’ve upgraded some equipment at the studio and also bought a new amp! It’s a Cornford Roadhouse 50 and it sounds sweet as! 50 Watts of raw power packed in a very discreet looking amp. Don’t be fooled though, it’ll rip your head off first chance it gets!
We want to keep making this place better and better so you guys get the best rehearsal experience around! We’ll keep you posted on all the new developments we do. Hope you like them!
New Spurs for the Pearl Forum kit. NO more wobbly rehearsals!
Today I thought I’d run through how to change the valves and re bias a Marshall JCM2000 DSL 100. It’s important to say up front that if you’re a young un or haven’t had too much experience with electrical equipment then it’s probably not a good idea for you to tackle this job. The voltages that are running around an amp are dangerously high and could kill you if you touch the wrong thing. That said, the beauty with the JCM2000 is that everything you need to get at to change the tubes is visible and everything else is hidden away under panels.
First thing to do is remove the back panel and gain access to the tubes you wish to replace. This could be a simple two in two out job (you should always replace tubes in pairs) or the full re-valve that I’m doing today. As you can see there are random tubes in the back of this amp that don’t appear to be matched which could have some bearing on the fact that the amp wasn’t very happy.
Once you’ve done this then you should install your new tubes. I’ve chosen the JJ Electronics Valve pack from Voc Rock Guitars. It contained the ECC83 pre amp tubes and EL34 power amp tubes, which are a classic combination for the JCM2000.
As you can see I was wearing gloves when installing the tubes. This was to avoid any oils or muck from my fingers getting onto the tubes. It’s not necessary but I like to do it.
When installing the tubes there are very obvious ways to install them. On the preamp tubes there is a gap in the pins on the bottom of the tube. Line that up with the gap on the circuit board and they’ll slot in nicely.
With the power amp tubes, there’s a ridge on the centre pole underneath the tubes that lines up with a notch on the chassis. You shouldn’t have to force the tubes in, so if you are not getting them to sit properly, chances are you don’t have the ridge and notch lined up.
Here you can see all the tubes fully installed and ready to be biased, which is the next part of the process and a very important thing to do. A cool thing to note is that the lettering on the tubes all faces forward, which is another way to check that the tubes are correctly installed.
How to Bias
This is the bias test point, it is a set of three pins that stick out of the amp underneath the power tube section on the right hand side. You will be using a digital multimeter to test the voltages you are getting in a moment but the first thing to do is plug in your speaker cab and turn the amp on. You should then let it warm up for 15 minutes and switch it off stand by. DO NOT TURN YOUR AMP ON WITHOUT THE SPEAKER ATTACHED! You could blow tubes or damage the amp if you don’t have it attached.
Bias in pairs
If you’re wondering why there are three pins, it because on these amps you bias the tubes in pairs. The centre pin is the neutral and the ones to the right and left are for the two pairs of power tubes.
Now you get your digital multimeter and VERY CAREFULLY touch the black probe to the centre pin and the red probe to ONE of the outer pins. The meter should be set to 2V DC current and you should get a reading of anything from 0.02 to 0.09. I was informed that .072 was a good number to go for as you get all the breakup and it doesn’t knacker your tubes as quickly.
Marshall recommend a value of 0.09 for these types of amps, which means the tubes will be running hotter and could wear out more quickly. In order to change this reading you’ll need a small flat head screwdriver that you slot into one of the mini pots that you find on either side of the test pins. You only need to move it a little to make quite a big change in the reading so go carefully and be prepared to make an adjustment, take a reading and then make another adjustment until you get the desired reading. Do this for both pairs of tubes and then all that’s left to do is rock out!