Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PRS Pickups

I'm telling you this because I don't know what to think myself.

The final presentation of Gearfest was Nick Catanese of Black Label Society, talking about Ozzy, PRS, guitars and playing. He's a really nice guy and a really good storyteller. (If you see him, have him tell you about being in the movie Rock Star, especially the Brad Pitt story.)

The story that comes to mind was actually told by the PRS Midwest Sales Rep. Paul Reed Smith (the man, not the company) has been working for a long time to recreate the "Holy Grail", the 1959 PAF as created by Seth Lover. He had worked out the metallurgy and this and that and was still not quite there. One day, Paul was on the phone, talking to a wire supplier, who said "Oh, yeah. My dad said something about working with Gibson in the late 50s, back when they were in Kalamazoo."

Hear the rep tell the tale, Paul was at the wire company's office before the phone hit the floor.

They look in back and find the machine. Paul immediately said "I want to buy it." They said no, but they promised him he'd have the exclusive rights to all wire coming off that machine. Thus, the 59/09 pickup.

I'm a Tele guy, and PRS gear, while nice, is a bit salty for me at the moment. I may never be closer to a real 59/09 pickup than the third row of the Sweetwater Performance Theatre. And at least part of me thinks this is really cool.

Part of me, another part, read this. A Lace Sensor built for high output. A Metal Aluminatone Lace Sensor. Which gets to my real niggly point. Yes, the 50s was a golden age for the development of the guitar, with the Gibson Les Paul with the Tune-o-matic bridge and the humbuckers being one of the canonical lasting designs. But I have to believe that the world didn't end in 1957, that the guitar world has ideas on how to make pickups that were not around when Seth Lover was in Eisenhower's America.

So, let's assume that Paul's ears are right, that these are the very model of the modern Patent-Applied-For humbucker. What do you thing of that? Good thing? Bad thing? Great thing?

The Moog Guitar

I previously analogized my experience with the Moog Guitar with Adrian Belew's audition with Frank Zappa, where Adrian didn't think he did as well as he could have and wanted to try again in a quieter environment. Here, Fareed Haque of Garaj Mahal has that chance.

The setting that Fareed mentions that gets boring after a while is what would be considered harmonic mode on a Sustainer, which emulates what happens when you stand next to a cranked amp. I've heard Moog's setup described as more of a built-in eBow. What I would like to have seen, which I might have if I had made it to Sweetwater in April, is Fareed making use of the mute mode and the autowah.

I'm going to step back and consider my instrument, the Telecaster. There are a body of techniques and a set of elements you only see on a Tele. The whole bridge, with the metal sides to hold the ashtray cover, the three saddles, that doesn't exist for other guitars, and certainly Leo Fender dropped most of it when he made his second design, the Stratocaster. The knobs being right up close, within pinky range. A Tele guy looks at that and says "Yeah!" Most other guitarists look and say "Huh?" I really think that there's a Moog mindset. Look at a Little Phatty.

Nobody makes keyboards like Moog anymore. I played and fell in like with the Yamaha MM6 at Gearfest, and this is a digital synth with banks of the General MIDI-specified sound types. While the sounds might be different on other instruments out there, the setup is largely the same. You don't really have that with a Moog. You don't have a "Rhodes" patch or a grand piano patch for a Moog. You have Moog sounds, and if you don't get the Moog mindset, you don't get it.

One of the things I saw at the Moog booth was the Etherwave CV, which has outs that relate to the pitch and volume antennas, which are pluggable into the Little Phatty to allow you to play that keyboard using the Theremin.

Evidently, you can do the same with the Moog Guitar.

And that is something. That is a demo. That's doing something new.

And just so you know, it's pronounced mow-guh , not moo-guh .

Monday, June 29, 2009

If Practice Makes Perfect ...

Here's the rough situation: Leader has two Sunday morning bands, Band 1 and Band 2. I'm in Band 2, playing the acoustic guitar. Band 1 was the band for a while, but there's plans bring in mixable prerecorded tracks for the choir, where you can say "we have a guitarist and a drummer, but we don't have a horn section" so the rhythm section plays to the track like the choir but the horn hits are from the tape. This will require them to have more practice, thus Band 2.

The setup was you play Sunday, you get your chord sheets and a mix CD, you learn your parts, you spend one Sunday off, you practice on Tuesday and you show up again on Sunday. But our glorious Leader had his vacation and so we cancelled the Tuesday practice. So the first time we played some of our songs together was soundcheck/warm-up.

Last Sunday, the Band 1 lead guitar guy had a family wedding in Texas. So, in an effort to be useful, I volunteered to play electric. Not just to get out of the tuned-percussion ghetto, honest, but while I'm parked here, if anyone can tell me how to get rid of the sizzle and quack of an undersaddle piezo without ripping it out and slapping in half a K worth of Fishman soundhole pickups, you will have a friend for life.


So, the building is busy, so Tuesday is cancelled. I get the song list on Wednesday night, I do what I can Thursday and Friday, I go to Sweetwater on Saturday and Sunday morning, I again have my first time playing some songs during soundcheck/warm-up.

To a certain extent, I am OK with this. Seriously. I have played Wednesday night and have regularly had my first time hearing a song be right before I played it in front of people. It isn't where you want to be, but if you can begin to handle that, I think it's a good thing. To the extent I can say I'm a good player, I'm a good player because of that pressure. The best way to learn to play music is to play music, preferably with other people and in front of other people. But let's be honest, Wednesday night is not the show. Sunday morning is the show. (I haven't made it too explicit, but I play in my church. God bless you all.) That's the point where you want to do it right.

I think it worked out well. We have some good players, some good singers, and while I may feel I threw enough clams to open a seafood restaurant, I on the whole feel I did well. We did well.

But it feels — I don't know, irresponsible? — to play a show for several hundred people without an hour of practice to make sure things are together.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boy, Are My Fingers Tired, a GearFest Review

Before I start, let me introduce you to Darol Anger. He played on the first David Grisman Quintet album, he played on "Manzanita", which is one of the most beautiful tunes to come out of bluegrass. A great player of the fiddle, an instrument that I am trying to learn. He played Fiddlers' Gathering today. And, in general, I try to attend the Fiddlers' Gathering.

But instead, I went to Gearfest.

Some high points:

The Keyboard Room: I went in there after attending a course on ProTools. That course of course made me want
  • ProTools
  • A Mac
  • A mixing board
  • microphone and direct input interfaces
  • microphones
  • Lots of other stuff I can't afford
What I saw and loved most was the Moog Etherwave theremin. There's two main touchstones in the modern mind for the theremin: The Song Remains The Same and The Day The Earth Stood Still. The good stuff for the theremin, the stuff that proves it's more than a tone generator, is done by Clara Rockmore. I played this to my wife, who asked "The woman singing, why is she so sad?" But more with Moog later.
The item most coveted by me, the one I wish most that I could take home, is the Yamaha MM6 keyboard. Let it be known throughout the land that Sans Direction is a big classic rock keyboard fan. Hammond, Rhodes, Clavinet, Wurlitzer, the sounds that made rock rock. It is known that, in 2009, if you want those tones and you're playing out (rather than a studio or your own bedroom), you rock a Nord, but that's if you have several thousand dollars. If you're more a hundredaire (Thank you, Greg Koch), the MM6 has good sounds at lower prices. I specifically pick out one stereo Rhodes tone that I think I've heard on Steely Dan tracks and I know is the starting keyboard sound on Pink Floyd's "Sheep" as a tone the MM6 does perfectly. If I could have brought home one piece of gear from Gearfest, the MM6 is what I would bring.

Let it be understood that, as a keyboard player, I'm a good guitarist. But I want to learn, and I can't without an instrument. The other theremin I played (and be it noted, not touched) was at the Moog booth in the Gear tent. They tweeted that people should go and say hi to Linda in the Moog booth, and I did. I played a Little Phatty, which was cool. I also took the demo, seeing how to connect the Etherwave to the Little Phatty to make it synthier. That was cool. That was way cool.

I also played a Moog guitar. The Moog guitar has been discussed here before, but I have not until this day touched one. And, well, it's a beautiful enough guitar, and it plays well. But recently, I read an account of Adrian Belew trying out for Zappa's band. He was in the middle of Zappa's rehearsal studio during the lead-up to a tour, and Belew tried to play and be impressive while everyone around him was packing stuff up and moving it out. In the end, Belew said he thought he blew it and thought the interview would've been different, and asked to try again in a quieter environment. I think that, in a quiet room where I could turn up to taste, I could bring the Moog guitar to life. The wah-like setting sounded more like a ring modulator to my ears, and I couldn't get the autowah setting to work. What I did get to work was the mute, which is the reverse of a sustain function. I am not sure I found a useful way to use the mute function. It's different enough from my slab-with-a-neck Telecaster to make it difficult to just switch over what I usually do. So, just because I couldn't make it work for me, that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Patrick, I have a Keep Your Hands Off My Theremin shirt, and you cannot have it. I have some Moog pocket protectors, and next time we see each other, I will give you one.

Fender Fender Fender: I visited the guitar tents, where I met John Grabowski, the man who tweets for Sweetwater, plus a bunch of the Fender guys. A great bunch of guys. I played the blue-flamed James Burton Tele, and that's something. 3 pickups. 5-way switch, with an S1 switch, too. Here's where it gets weird. Positions 1 and 5 are neck and bridge. Positions 2 and 4 are neck/middle and bridge/middle. The S1 switch switches between middle and neck/bridge in position 3. And, officially, I am not sure that the James Burton sounds like a Tele, but it sounds good, I gotta say.

I didn't take a crappy cellphone pic of that.

I took a crappy cellphone pic of a Fender Custom Shop Telecaster with S1 switching and sparkles. Relic sparkles. Yes, someone took the time and effort to make a great modern Sparklecaster, and then beat it up. As Greg Koch said, some people get it and some people don't. For the most part, I don't. I think Steve Dikkers' Sparklecasters are much more sparklier than this one, which took a moment for me to recognize as sparkley. Not that I didn't live playing the thing.

Dee-Uh-Dar-Eee-Oh: D'Addario had free string changing. I know two guys with Steinberger copies, and I tried to get them to come along, because double-ball strings are not cheap and not really common, but oh well. I had the strings changed on my black Tele, which I will play on tomorrow. Changed from Ernie Ball. We'll see how they go.

Effecting: I have decided as of right now that the next effect I get will be the Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor. I plugged in a Tele (not mine), dimed a compressor and played with the NS2, which got it all out. I play with an Aviom in-ear system, and I get an earful of the hum. I'm not too sure that the house finds it noticeable, but in my ears, I feel the need to stomp that buzz. Especially if I want to have the compression on all the time.

The Talks: Chet Chambers, talking about recording, confirmed by belief that the acoustic guitar in an electric band context is essentially a tuned snare drum. Sean Halley showed how easy it is to put together tracks in ProTools. Nick Catanese and Chris Cannella can play, and I'd love to see both of them in longer presentations than they had here.

And then there's Greg Koch.

He is truly a mutant. If tomorrow he woke up and his hands and guitars didn't like each other, he'd make a killing as a standup. He was mostly showing off the Roadworn guitars and the Vintage Modified amps.

The VM combines the digital wonderfulness of the Cyber-Twin with the tube joy of a classic Fender amp. 40 watts, which as Greg says, "is all you need and deserve". Nearly 20 years ago, I saw something online where a guy talked about a gig. "Your stack is louder than the PA", the sound man said. I can't recall if the response was "Thank you" or "You're welcome", but either one gets to the point, which is that guitarists are undisciplined, can't be trusted and need to limit themselves to small 40 watt amps. Also, light and portable.

I suppose I should've gone with this earlier. The Joe Campilongo-approved Princeton, with an attenuator built in. I fell in strong like with this one.

Final Thought: I desired this strap. I saw a picture of Johnny Depp with that kind of vintage strap going onto a blackguard Tele and it just looked great, so I decided I wanted one like that for my SX. But somewhere between 11am (when I made the order) and 5:30pm, when I left, the single Fender vintage strap with the shoulder pad had been sold. But the shipping guys made sure I didn't walk home empty-handed.

The only downer of the day was the impromptu relicing my eldest did to my #1, which I don't like but I'm not really mad about.

Now, good night. I have to get up and play in the morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"What Am I Doing Here?"

Inspired by a great track I remember from my youth:

Larry Verne, "Mr. Custer"

So, what am I doing here? What is the purpose of this blog? I've been kinda floundering recently, and I think a statement of purpose would be a good thing.

Gear Lust

There's two thoughts involved with Gear Lust. There's "I want to collect pretty things" and "this will make me a better player." Gear Lust drives the aptly-named Gear Acquisition Syndrome (or GAS) that plagues so many players. Just to make it clear, I think it's fine to collect gear and to appreciate gear. I think it's a fallacy to believe that, beyond a certain point, playing another guitar will make you a better guitar player. That certain point being the point where you go from a poor instrument that doesn't intonate, doesn't stay in tune and doesn't sound good to a good instrument that intonates, stays in tune and sounds decent. I would suggest that this point is relatively low, lower with electrics than with acoustics, and with the advent of CDC, is dropping lower and lower every day. You can get a great sounding, beautiful, hand-crafted instrument, but if all you do is pluck open strings and say "Wow! That tone!", nobody's gonna want to hear it.

But it's always fun to look.

Mindless Link Propagation

The Gear Lust posts are a subset of the MLP group. We all like looking at shiny new instruments. We all like seeing and hearing great bands play great songs.


This is a big part of it all. I know some musicians locally, but they cover a small part of the possible gamut of music. By being online, by participating, I get to know more musicians, learn more techniques and find more about general musicianship than I could otherwise.

Giving It All Away

One of my first inspirations for this blog was Adam Gussow of Satan and Adam, who posts blues harp instruction on YouTube.

He developed a body of knowledge of blues, of harmonica, of musicianship, over years of playing and gigging, and he decided to create the video series to "give it all away", as he says above.

I do not have Adam's experience. I don't claim to. But certainly if I have something I can give away, to help the next guy along, I want to do that.

Logging Progress

Blog is short for web-log. I try to use this to keep track of how I improve and how my playing life is going. Cameron Mizell: "If I set a goal for myself and then write about it, I’m more likely to follow through."

I won't stop posting pics of interesting instruments, vids of great songs and the like. But I hope and plan to post more about what I'm doing and what I'm learning.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Offerings of Sound: Bumpin' on Sunset

Take A Guess Why This Caught My Eye

Sounds like he's playing metal on a Tele to me.

Now We Shall Begin To Remix It

I am 90% sure I even know about this because I followed someone who followed someone on Twitter. Ah well. This is Tara Busch, who blogs as Analog Suicide and like old synths and ukes.

Now one could easily just watch, geeking out on the pretty girl with Dilbert glasses. Or one could listen and watch, observing how her artistic impressions get played out in the mix. The phrase is "arts and crafts" and here we can see the craft of remixing being brought into play.

Of course, I want it.

A clear acrylic T-style guitar. For $220 or so.

I'd put a B-Bender in it so you could see the action move, but that's me. Also, a clear pickguard.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Bet More People Have Seen That Than The Phone Book!

I'm in the July Issue of Premier Guitar! Well, at least my Twitter feed is. The big size. Which means I am a Twitter logghoretic.

I was involved in Stratoblogster's PG kerfuffle over the Etavonni, but since I received the first issue, I've felt Premier Guitar was one of the best guitar mags I've seen.

Divining Water Pt II


... or ...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Borrowed Obsession: Mindless Yobs In The News

"The trauma this girl must be feeling is indescribable. She feels like a circus freak - and no wonder, because she looks like one."

Death By Overdose? Priceless

SX SPB-62 P-Bass copy from Rondo: $99

Black P-Bass pickguard from Guitar Fetish: $14

(BTW, is that Rob Zombie behind his left boot?)

Back To Teles For A Bit

Although I might hit some Clash to double up soon.

This is a black double-bound 62 Custom Reissue, on sale at Wild West Guitars. Let me put a B-Bender in it and it would be the perfect guitar. Not that I would stop looking around.

I think it's Pete Townshend's early 80s bound Schecters, although most people I see online who love 'em got that way because of Buck Owens and Don Rich.

(The 60s Custom Tele is bound. A 70s Custom has a neck humbucker and near-Les-Paul wiring.)

You'll Get One Number And One Number Only

because I'm a lazy bastard.

The last song ever played by the Sex Pistols pre-reunion, just to continue in my punk-related streak. When will I see a Sid Vicious signature P-Bass?

It Takes A Teenage Riot To Get Me Out Of Bed

First the Joe Strummer Tele, now this.

Sonic Youth's deal from the beginning was to use lots of different weird tunings. This required lots of different instruments, and in the 80s, everyone wanted pointy superstrats. This meant that they could get things like Jaguars, Jazzmasters and the like for cheap.

I knew about Sonic Youth well before I heard them, seeing them in the SST catalog that came with the Program: Annihilator sampler. I saw them mentioned in magazines, too. The Ciccone Youth Whitey Album was the first I bought. Eventually I got a dubbed copy of Daydream Nation , which contains among other things the song "Teenage Riot".

Now they have Signature Models .

I've been trying to discern what I think is most interesting about this. Partially, it's the continuing revival of the Jazzmaster as a body shape. J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr and Elvis Costello both have signature Jazzmasters. I forsee a Nels Cline model coming eventually. Partially, it's the increasing association or acceptance of Fender as punk guitars. There's also the whole Signature Model thing contrasting with the anti-commercial indie stance. But really, the one thing that really interests me is that instruments that were chosen because they were cheap and unwanted are now being sold in special signed and pricy editions.

I can guarantee I won't own one. Not because I don't want one, but because I wouldn't be able to swing one. But I do think it's kinda cool.

I Agree 100% With The Mars Volta

The original take was better.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thoughts on iTunes' User Interface Problems

Consider the record store.

Not today's record store. Jump back 20, 25 years. When I was high school age, at the center of the record-buying demographic.

There's about four choices then. No, five.
  • The Record Section in K-Mart or the Equivalent - About four racks at best
  • The Mall Record Store - Better selection. If it was popular, there was a good chance for you to find it. If not? Well, I special ordered Allan Holdsworth's Metal Fatigue. I saved up my money for it before I ordered it. Got a postcard later, saying it was unavailable. So I bought something else. Then I looked in the Jazz section and found it, after I had spent my money.
  • The Cool Record Store - Cool record stores didn't exist in every town. The place I had my Mall Record Store experience was in Goldsboro, North Carolina. The nearest Cool Record Store, the place I got the first Suicidal Tendencies album, was in Raleigh, about an hour drive away. I had to beg my parents to take me when we were there for another reason. And once you were there ... well, watch High Fidelity. Many more Jack Blacks than Todd Louisos in those places. And, for another point, those were pre-Soundscan days. Those were the guys who would say they're selling the "cool" stuff rather than what they were really selling. For example, they notoriously underreported Country. Garth Brooks came out right after Soundscan. He probably wouldn't have been nearly as big if the contrast wasn't as big.
  • Mail Order - That works when you know about it. I got Program: Annihilator via mail order, on cassette. But if you don't know about the band, about the label, how do you know where to order? You had to send a dollar to even get the catalog in the first place.
  • The Columbia Record Club - 10 CDs for 1 cent or so, but a) you had to get some later at a higher price, and b) they're all Columbia. Columbia was a cool label — DYLAN and MILES were on Columbia — but not everything cool was on Columbia and not everything on Columbia was cool.
This is how it was at the height of the Rock era, when the labels were where it's at. Tell me how iTunes isn't vastly superior to this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Best Song Today

King Crimson, "Three of a Perfect Pair"
Live in Montreal, Quebec, 07/11/1984

On the state of the music industry, 2009

I really feel that, at this stage in life and where music is, live performances are again very vital. And that’s the one thing they can’t steal from you. They can’t replicate it, or download it for free, or anything else. So, live music is a crucial way for me to reach my audience. And the other thing is the internet, which has become an invaluable tool. Of course, you have to do it all yourself, so that puts the impetus on the artist. But I don’t mind that, I never felt the record companies knew what the heck to do either, so I might as well figure it out myself.
— Adrian Belew

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Connections James Burke Would Have Missed

This is "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" by Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Notice the last verse. Blind Lemon uses the low E to stand in for the tolling of a church bell. I was sitting, playing around when it struck me that this concept was part of "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC. So, I started trying to pick it from memory. Turns out that they used the open A.

E -----------------------------------------------------
B ---3---1-----0-----1-------3---1-----0-----1---------
G -----2---0-----0-----0-------2---0-----0-------------
D -----------0-----0-----0-----------0-----0-----------
A -0-----------------------0--------------------3-2-0--
E -----------------------------------------------------
I am not 100% sure on that, but that's at least a start. What I find interesting about it is that it implies G major ( D C2 G ) over a droning A.

What amazes me was that I wasn't going over and over on the record. I was able to think it through. Then again, there's not a bad song on Back in Black.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's great to learn 'cause knowledge is power!

And it is great to have a vocabulary with which to understand and discuss that knowledge. In this blog's case, it's music, and Rock House Method as a series called 5 Musical Terms of the Day. It's a good place to watch.

Jackson Bloodlines Tour Hits Indiana

I am not a metal guy, and I haven't been for nearly 20 years. Yeah, of course, you dig out out some AC/DC or Van Halen or Metallica or Iron Maiden, I'm there, but when it comes to things I want to pick up, I'm much more about above-the-nut bends and clean compressed Tele tones than about high-gain, whammy bars, hammer-ons and deep bends. But I like to know what's out there, and I always want to bring more to the table. This is why I went to see John 5 at Sweetwater.

I have always been a fan of Jackson guitars, going back to when they were joined at the hip with Charvel. Jackson is sponsoring the Bloodline seminar tour.
Despite his intense and intimidating appearance, (Product Manager Chris) Cannella is a soft-spoken walking encyclopedia of metal in general and Jackson in particular. Musicians and music fans are invited to join Chris as he demonstrates and explains his lightening-fast guitar techniques, not by using his own gear, but rather whatever's in the store at the time. Additionally, he'll provide tone tricks and overall guitar setup tips.

Cannella will also explain Jackson's dark yet colorful past; explain the brand's unique Bloodline and genre-defining, groundbreaking firsts—such as the advent of the original Rhoads guitar, insane custom paint jobs, and compound radius fingerboards. He'll show how Jackson can find a home in other musical genres, share a little music theory, and discuss soloing styles and speed. Through all of it, he'll open the floor to answer any questions you might have regarding all-things Jackson.

It's cool, comprehensive and captivating. It's Jackson, connecting with musicians at Jackson retailers nationwide.
Now that sounds cool.

Here's the problem: He's at R&R Music in Brownsburg, just west of Indy, on June 24, which is a Wednesday. He is at Sight & Sound Music Center in Muncie on June 25, which might be doable, and he's at Sweetwater for their big GearFest thing, and that's the weekend where Darol Anger will be at Fiddlers' Gathering in Battleground. I don't know what I can swing.

I of course would love to go to all of it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Status Report

I have two T-style guitars, one 80s MIJ Tele formerly called #1 and now called #5, and one new SX STL50. Previously on this blog, I've gone through the stripping of the neck and the modification of the new pickguard. Now I have applied tung oil to the neck and replaced the dots for abalone. The newest possible news is that I have taken it to my friendly local neighborhood guitar store, where a bone nut will be installed, making this again a perfectly functional instrument again.


This doesn't mean the end of mods. It is actually the beginning of mods. The future of this instrument involves:
  • applying decals on the headstock saying "This is my mod machine", or whatever
  • A better neck pickup
  • A better bridge pickup
  • Perhaps a piezo bridge
  • A Taipan Tone half-bridge, set top-loading or thru-body, to let me body mount like G.E. Smith
  • B-Bender B-Bender B-Bender!
  • Wiring for Baja-like (4-way switch, push-pull volume pot, no-load tone pot)
But I certainly will enjoy the heck out of it in the mean time. Pictures when it comes back.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One More, and the Truth, and You're All Set

This is a little bit of the µ thing. We're talking a 2 or 9 chord. Well, add9, as when you talk a numbered chord, you're usually talking all the odd numbers leading up to it. A 13th chord should have the 7, 9 and 11. Here, we're just tossing in the 2/9, so we're getting the root, 2, 3 and 5.


E -------------
B ------1------
G ------0------
D ------0------
A ------3------
E -------------


E -------------
B ------1------
G ------0------
D ------3------
A ------3------
E -------------

These are a pair of nice chords that work great together, being root and 4th/5th of each other. You can nail a lot of jam to the wall with those chords, and they sound groovier than non-mu cowboy chords. With that C, you play either of the open Es and it comes off as an add2, while it's a sus2 if you don't.

While I'm at it, I came along this B minor in an open position that's nice. Playing acoustic, I'm always on the lookout for open-position chords, and this is useful. You don't have the fifth, and if you don't really want the seventh (and who doesn't want the seventh?) you can just mute it and have the root and third. You can always grab an F# on an E string if you really need the fifth. It isn't the prettiest B minor position, but it's a fast way to get to it if you need to switch chords quickly.

Open-position Bm7

E -------------
B ------0------
G ------2------
D ------0------
A ------2------
E -------------

Well, that's three chords. Don't know if you could use 'em together, but there you go. Truth? That's something you're going to have to work out for yourself. Sorry.

What does "Stone the Crow" mean anyway?

I think this sounds like Southern Metal, like Southern Rock that starts to thrash at the chorus.

And they prove you can do metal with a Telecaster.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Practice and Performance

Tuesday. night, we had practice for Sunday. Drummer[1] wasn't going to be able to play, so instead Drummer[0] came to play. And it was interesting.

Drummer[1] is a young guy, a metal guy. Can do rolls on double drum pedals, and likes to do so. The key to the Thundering Herd, and the reason they build glass cages for drum kits. Drummer[0] ... isn't. He's an older guy, a more mellow guy. Great player, but tasteful. I always like hearing his cymbal work. And you know, that's really a key. One change in players can change a lot. We weren't a hard-charging rock machine with Drummer[0] like we are with the other. It's interesting what one player does.

But that's talkin' about the Sunday band. The Wednesday band was good, too. Of course, it has the same guy on keys and acoustic guitar. I haven't been happy with my acoustic tone, getting too much sizzle, so I used Wednesday to tweak my settings. I also switched to the lighter Fender acoustic strings (.012-.053), which should be nicer to my finger, too.

Also, my Stew-Mac abalone 6mm dots are in. Not just "I have received them". I have installed them. The holes were tight enough that I just had to shove 'em in. No glues necessary.

And I haven't forgotten why I'm here

Rainbow Guitars also has a 1954 Esquire that's just cherry. Why am I on the internet if not to drool over Tele-style guitars?

Killer L5

Rainbow Guitar calls this "the 'killer' Gibson Blonde L5". They have a gift for understatement.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Allman Brothers, "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" Jan 29, 1971, Fillmore West

Thank you, Wolfgang's Vault.

Gibson's Five Ideas That Will Not Work

Jonah of Gibson's Lifestyle website has five ideas to Save the Music Industry. I for one am entirely unconvinced by them.

  • Fix Ticketmaster — Just what business are we talking about here? Generally, if you're talking the "music business", you're talking about selling music. If you're in the venue business, you're using the alcohol business, using the band to attract an audience. Just like the business of newpapers and magazines isn't the text, but using the text to sell the readers to the advertisers. Just like talking about Shell and BP has little to do with the auto bailout, fixing Ticketmaster, while in general a good idea, will do nothing to fix Warner and Capitol, etc.
    On the other hand, if we're talking about the big rooms, the concert halls and the stadiums with blue mats on the basketball boards, they can only do it if there are big acts to fill them, and you need to have small venues pushing small acts that grow to be big acts, or else the system dies when the last big fish dies.

  • Shift The Focus From CDs To Vinyl — CDs might suck ("They’re easily scratched, ugly and make album artwork so small that it’s difficult to see without a magnifying glass ..."), but consider this. There were singles, individual good songs. The 50s were all about singles. The 60s only started to not be about singles toward the end. It was the 80s when the rock single died, and even then, it kinda didn't. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the video, the "single" even when no single was released. Same with "Rockin' in the Free World". We wanted singles, but we couldn't buy singles. Then came MP3s, and iTunes and such. We have singles again. Vinyl sales are constant to DJs and audiophile geeks. CD sales are slipping. With downloads, you have good-enough music quality wherever you want, without having to build a Hi-Fi shrine to music in your living room. That's a dog.

  • Make Better Music — If only it were that easy. On the one hand, you think you're going to make "better" music than the Allmans, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Bach? (Depending on what you're going for.) On the other hand, you could make the best music possible and if nobody hears it, it goes nowhere. Radio is dead, and it's dead by self-inflicted wounds. Until you work out how people know about your music, making it "better" is futile.

  • Make the iTunes Store More User-Friendly — Amazon MP3 is plenty user-friendly to me.

  • Look to the Past for Perspective — It just might be that the era of recorded popular music, call it from the Bristol Sessions to Napster, has been what economists would call a bubble, and it's just done burst.