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Official website for EarthQuaker Devices. We build guitar effects by hand in the quaint landlocked city of Akron, Ohio.

Juan Alderete - Making Bad Sounds Into Bad Ass Sounds

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Juan Alderete - Making Bad Sounds Into Bad Ass Sounds

Juan Alderete

Yo! Hello from the depths of my studio, 5 Starr Sound Labs, where I practice, video, explore and record everything I do for my career. I built this studio back in 2011 and have kept developing it till this day. I think every musician should have a space where they are surrounded by their tools and can be inspired to create. Whether it is your basement (like Jamie Stillman's when he first started building pedals), garage, spare bedroom (me, pre 5 Starr Sound Labs) or rental spot, get a space that you can deck out in what inspires you and start creating!

Having a website, PedalsAndEffects, has allowed me to invite any pedal nerds into my soundscaping world. I have spent countless hours doing exactly what any obsessive musician has done...missed several dinners at home because you were on the verge of creating some legendary shit! But really, there are so many hours of unfulfilled ideas contrasted with a few great successes. We all get bogged down with dead end approaches but that is all in the learning experience.

What I wanted to share is when I do my best to take something that isn't that great and turn it into something that bumps. If you have ever seen one of my EarthQuaker Devices clinics, there is a cool part of the demo where I grab my FUNKBOX drum machine app and throw it through the effects. I always display how corny the drum beat is but then I treat it and then the audience realizes I just took something bad and made it good. You can do the same with unfulfilling sounds!

What I remind myself when I hit a roadblock in sound creation is that even though I didn't achieve what I created in my mind, I have to see if I can end up with the cool product. Take this video I am providing along with this here post. I wanted to show you all how I spend hours at a time in my studio and I started with a FUNKBOX drum loop. I then start popping in sounds to see if I can create a piece of music. If you watch the video closely, I don’t always use the sound that I get but most of the time, I hear what is happening and I wrench that sound in somehow to the sample and make bad beats sound interesting.

My favorite surprise in this video is when I use the Arpanoid to do a mini synthesizer sequence then add the Organizer with the Hummingbird on top of it to give a sort of clavinet sound to the funk jam. The Spatial Delivery obviously gave us the traditional funk bass sound. The cool slides going up my bass neck is the Tentacle making my fretless sound squirrely.

I hope you all dig my post and please remember to keep at it, turn all sounds into a positive and never give might be late for a few dinners but you can always eat, but you might not capture that magical musical moment ever again!


About Juan

Juan Alderete at 5 Starr Sound Labs

Juan Alderete at 5 Starr Sound Labs

Juan Alderete de la Peña has been playing bass for over thirty years and has become one of the most well-respected players in the industry. His touring and recording credits incude Racer X, the Mars Volta, Dr. Octagon, Big Sir, and Distortion Felix. He is currently on tour in the Juliette Lewis band, bringing the noise in the rhythm section with former Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk.