Field Report: Road Trip to ToneVille

Those of you that follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook got a little sneak peek at the way we spent last Friday … going on an adventure to fetch a secret gift that will soon be part of our shared rehearsal space experience!

shhhhh

Update — in shocking news, we have procured not just ONE gift, but TWO for you, our beloved Fort Collins music community. Gift #1: we decided the Cohere Bandwidth team needed some more enthusiastic young musical expertise, so we got you a tall and sprightly drummer!

shanehatched

But not that tall and sprightly drummer. Another one:

shaneadrian

More Awesome Energy!
We are very excited to announce the addition of Adrian Wright to the Cohere Bandwidth team. Adrian is a tall and sprightly drummer who plays in a band called Yettie, and he is poised to step in with his bonafide brilliant musician mind should someone suddenly kidnap Shane and stuff him into the hatch of an SUV, never to be seen again. You can never have too many drummers, in our opinion. Someone’s always needing a spare. Please join us in welcoming Adrian aboard. And you should check out his band. You’ll likely see more and more of him as we move in and prepare for opening.

Speaking of preparing for opening …

More Excellent Equipment!
Gift #2 was purchased with a credit card, and required a bit of a road trip, so we shoved all our drummers in a car and drove off to Colorado Springs to get … an amplifier. It occurred to us at about the Longmont exit that maybe we should have grabbed a guitar player, too.

Julie: “do you think maybe we should have brought someone that could test this thing out?”
Angel: “Shane, can you play (surprises everyone by humming Black Sabbath’s Iron Man)?”

Then we remembered we were picking up said amp at a music store. Lucci Music, to be exact, where someone would surely know how to play some Black Sabbath if needed. Oh, and also Lucci Music is home to ToneVille Amplifiers. Ta-da!

toneville-in-case

We mean … ta-da!tonevillerevealed

Lovingly handcrafted right here in Colorado, ToneVille amps are this beautiful blend of art and science that practically made Angel weep with joy:

angelovestoneville

We purchased the Broadway model, which has insides made from “new old stock” tubes (a phrase, for the uninitiated, that sounds ridiculous but actually has meaning for those in the know; it refers to tubes that were manufactured in the past, but just never used. Good for built-to-last, authentic vintage sound, apparently). The Broadway’s outsides are made from black walnut and hard maple, with gorgeous dovetailed joints and a retro flair that is such a perfect fit with our branding that we nearly had to bring Julie some smelling salts.

Best of all, though, our ToneVille amp was made by Phil. We got to meet Phil and shake his hand, and talk to him about his business, and that doesn’t happen that often when you buy things these days. It was like a music farmer’s market. It was awesome.

phil

This is Phil. We did not make him play Black Sabbath.

Phil wrote down every individual tube included in our ToneVille for our reference. And he gave us ToneVille T-shirts. And he sat cross-legged on the floor and painstakingly took us through the features of the Broadway. If you want something akin to that experience, you can check out lots of demo videos on the Internet, like this one from Guitar World at the NAMM show earlier in January:

But what we would like most of all is for you to come experience your new gifts in person when we open, of course. When do we open? Well, we’re getting closer to exact dates, but for starters — we’ll be acting as the artist and sponsor check-in venue for FoCoMX April 24 – 25. So if yours is among the 266 bands playing at our favorite Fort Collins music festival, then we’ll see you very soon. We’ll open for rehearsal room bookings shortly thereafter and you can come try out all the amenities in our home in the Downtown Artery building, including the ToneVille amp. And the Colorado-made Mantic Effects pedals. And you can high-five our getting-increasingly-taller team.

teambandwidth

In the meantime, don’t forget to get your band on our wait list to stay up-to-speed on our official opening date. It’s all happening, faster than you think. We can hardly wait!

Proof: But No Roof.

Our latest shared rehearsal space adventure found us thinking outside the box, by thinking inside the box. Having found that our most viable commercial space options almost always include neighbors, and neighbors mean sound issues, Angel had an idea: what if we decoupled the space from the space? (Whoa. Did you feel that? Don’t be alarmed, it’s just our paradigm shifting.)

Plasma Ball, 2 Hands in the Dark

Now I know what you’re thinking (wait … wut?) — but hang tight for a minute while I ‘splain: turns out there are companies that construct portable soundproof rooms. And purchasing a room might mean we could put the space within a space, but without making a substantial permanent investment in a building we are merely leasing. Landlord decides they want us to clear out? No problem! We just take the room with us and put it back together somewhere else.

We got super excited about this idea for about 15 minutes, until Angel did some research and discovered that one of these rooms cost $26,000. Then we were crushed. But THEN: she found a company that makes them for a fraction of that cost — and it turned out that company was right here in Colorado! Less than an hour away. And they had one under construction, in house, that we could test. Right “now”.

As is the way with this quest, a series of misadventures followed — it’s not easy to coordinate the schedules of anyone these days, not to mention finding people with drum kits and bass amps and the ability to use them, who can then take a field trip during the work week to indulge our whims. But as is also the way with this quest, the musicians in our community were once again amiable and accommodating. Maybe somewhat disbelieving, but at least willing to give it a shot. When we put up the bat signal around here, the bands always answer the call.

BAT SIGNAL

  • Scheduled Field Trip #1 resulted in a no-show by the guy who owns the company, and Angel sitting on a curb with a bass player and a drummer (we found out later the guy was in the hospital, and I had to rescind all my swears).
  • Scheduled Field Trip #2 resulted in a snow storm, some van shenanigans and ultimately, a reschedule.
  • Field Trip #3 was “the charm” – though a last-minute schedule switch by the company owner meant the bass player was out, and we would have to do our best to test with a drummer only. A drummer who was willing to load up a carload of gear, take the morning off work and drive down to be shoved into a freezing cold warehouse into an 8×8 room << the available test size.

Let’s skip to the results part of the experiment and let you see (and hear) for yourselves, shall we? Does this seem —> Soundproof?

Well … not so much. “Sound resistant”? Maybe. The whole test took about five minutes once our intrepid drummer got set up in the unheated warehouse. We used a little decibel reader app on his phone to test the sound reduction (about 10 decibels). Angel used an app called her eyes to make note of visible gaps in the construction. I used my mittened hands to clutch my coffee cup, while lamenting inwardly about the bands that are probably practicing in similar conditions every day. Still.

Bottom line? At a price of thousands of dollars and a noise level that is decidedly … audible, we think we’ll pass on the “soundproof” room idea. For what it’s worth, the rooms are generally used for studio voice-over recording and that sort of thing, and maybe aren’t a great solution for entire bands anyway. In the end though, we were left with cold hands AND cold feet, standing back at the drawing board. Eliminating options is a good thing, but it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed when your hopes get dashed. We’re trying to be scientists about this, but I bet even scientists get discouraged. But: the best ones keep thinking and acting. Boxes be damned.

You can put Dr. Who in the TARDIS, but you can't make it soundproof. It's a metaphor, go with it.

You can put Dr. Who in the TARDIS, but you can’t make it soundproof. It’s a metaphor, go with it.

 

Bandwidth Update: Breathing Into Paper Bags

The problem is: the Sound of Music. No, not the holiday classic film or even the impending Carrie Underwood don’t-call-it-a-remake live production. It’s the cacophony created when rehearsing musicians bring the noise. Not at raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens level. Think doorbells and sleigh bells and wild geese, but at a decibel that inspires a dog bite/bee sting rage in your neighbors. Soundproofing rooms is difficult and expensive, and in this search for rehearsal space, it’s the thing that’s proving to be the most maddening. When I asked Angel if she had any advice re: blog topics for this week, her reply was: “Panic?” As you can see, we’re feeling … von Trapped.

So, how do you solve a problem like cochlea? (OK, OK, I’ll stop, I promise! — when I panic, I burst into hysterical musical puns) We’re not sure. We have found two potentially viable spaces, but those spaces have upstairs neighbors and paper-thin ceilings. We did a band practice test drive a couple weeks ago in one of the buildings, at not-even full volume. The result from upstairs was a crystal-clear concert backed by a bone-rattling bass vibration that would possibly require a trip to the dentist to shore up your fillings after one song. The poor bassist felt compelled to defend himself with a demonstration (see?! It’s only on like a 2, I swear!), and I only cried a little in the car on the way home. It’s so. Frustrating.

2

Still, it feels like we’re getting closer. If we can just get this sound thing figured out — pause for nervous laughter — we’ll be in business. But getting there may require an investment in all kinds of crazy stuff (we now know more about things like green glue, double-drywall, drop ceilings, mass loaded vinyl, baffles and diffusors than we ever, ever wanted to). We don’t really have the money for rent AND soundproofing, nor do we think that dumping a bunch of money into a rental is a smart move in terms of sustainability of the space. Etc. Etc. Etc.

However: we do have another glimmer of hope on the horizon this week. But I don’t want to jinx it by telling you too much (the guy we’re attempting to work with on this possibility ended up in the hospital on the day of our initial appointment, so that’s already a bit foreboding thankyouverymuch). The bottom line remains that the musicians themselves have to consider a solution satisfactory, or there’s no point in going down a given path. We’ve been lucky enough to have several band members agree to help us out, taking time away from practice, work, lessons and life to help evaluate options. And we’re not done yet. In the meantime? We’re just taking small steps forward and trying not to hyperventilate every time it feels like two steps back. We still have fa (a long long way to run) to go, you know?


(sorry Ian, you had to see *that* one coming … it was either that or Julie Andrews.)

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