Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More D'oh!

When we left our hero, he had neglected to change his address before ordering a $5 Fender Chorus pedal. He had talked to the vendor and been unable to change the address mid-shipping. Their theory was that the package will not be accepted, be sent back, and I'll be credited.

So, I check the tracking number.


My package was delivered at the house where nobody lives.

So, I called my wife (who has to drive near the old place to pick up my middle kid at school) and had her look, and sure enough, my package is on the doorstep.

I'll be trying it out tonight.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I saw two things I wanted this Black Friday Eve. Sam Ash was giving away Fender Chorus pedals, and Musician's Friend had EHX Nano pedals. So, I logged in and pressed buy.

Be aware that I order online about once every two years. And I've moved since I last bought. And so, about 24 hours after I bought, I realized that these would be going to my old address.

Sam Ash said they'd recall, refund, and make me buy again.

Musician's Friend is trying to redirect it.

Next time, I'll triple-check the destination address, but next time, I think you know who I'll favor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oh, I HAVE To Go There

I saw this on a French music blog. This is Billy Cardine. He plays lap steel. Look to his right, toward the bassist in the background. Do you see the logo on the headstock? Do you?

Here. Let me give you a hint.

It's a Moog logo.

There's another pic on the site which shows neck-and-bridge Moog Guitar-style pickups. It's a Moog Lap Steel.

I've talked about the Moog Guitar before. Impressive works. Impressive works that take more than a little getting used to, and require a battery that the showroom model might not have, but impressive works nonetheless. I've been more and more thinking about how to access the power of electronics in the with the tools I'm already familiar with, and it seems that there could be something with the Moog lap steel.

It isn't just the increased sustain, though. You have a huge one-piece body, high action and a huge movable fret, so they sustain well naturally. It's controlled sustain and muting. The Moog concept is far beyond the Sustainer/Sustainiac concept. I'm waiting patiently for video, and more importantly, audio of this thing.

I ran into this looking for Melobar (which deserves a dedicated post), and I think this is so cool. Obviously, Moog's syst em is more involved than a Fernandes Sustainer, but it makes you wonder what you could do with all that. Somebody wondered if anyone ever took an EBow to a steel guitar. I'm sure it's not too common to do, but it has been done. In 2000, Robert Randolph made a Sacred Steel album with John Medeski and the North Mississippi All-Stars called The Word, and on one of the tracks, "Call Him By His Name", starts out with Robert sounding like a melisma-laden black-gospel singer just going off, done with steel guitar and EBow. That's a good track to start to show the possibilities of this thing. Or, at least what I think they are.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Concert Review - Disfarmer Project with the Bill Frisell Quartet At Purdue's Loeb Playhouse

Bill Frisell - guitar
Greg Leisz - steel guitar, dobro, mandolin
Jenny Scheinman - violin, mandolin
Victor Krauss - bass

Isn't that good?

I could get into a bunch of gear talk, which of course is my wont. I will say that if an instrument had an amplifier, that amplifier was a Deluxe Reverb, but that's really beyond the point. The point is, the band is good. Yeah, they can do the weird distancing stuff in that video, but one of the songs in the set is a take on "That's Alright, Mama", and they rock it. I tell you, you wouldn't expect him to stand between Keith Urban and Marty Stuart on the Opry stage doing "Working Man Blues" like the video I linked a few days ago, but I'd love to hear him take a verse.

Little Wing

Dave Kilminster is one of the guitarists playing behind Roger Waters on the new tour bringing back The Wall.

Don't Fret

A recent post on TDPRI made me thing of this again.
A couple of years ago I bought a neck on Ebay from a guy who had sold a lot of neck and had a lot of positive feedbacks. Unfortunately, he must have been having a bad day when he built my neck. Edges that should be square were rounded over, the end of the heel was cut for a Strat instead of a Tele and the frets were a mess. I didn't pay a lot for the neck and hate Ebay hassles, so I just tossed it on a shelf and forgot about it.

Several months later I got to thinking about a Tele lap steel and thought this neck might work. I removed the frets that hadn't already fallen out and inlaid brass strips in the slots. I refinished the neck and installed some tuners, then decided that the neck was really too thin for a lap steel. So, back on the shelf.
A couple of months ago I got to thinking about a fretless Tele and remembered the orphan neck. I matched the neck up with a mahogany body that's been lying around in my shop and got to work.
I've looked at fretless guitars for a long time. I've even owned one for a while, but I decided to put it out of it's misery the last time I moved. Now I want one again. And being the Teleblogster, I know I want it to be a Telecaster.

I am fairly sure that, when this happens, I want it to have a glass fingerboard, so it doesn't suck sustain as much and sounds like this. Well, more like this. You need to be Ned Evett to sound like this, more than any other guitarist I know. But a glass fretboard on a blackguard Tele just wouldn't work for me.

This is closer. I mean, I'm not going for a doubleneck. Not yet, anyway, and if I do, the Gatton plan of baritone and standard, not glass and normal. Not that that isn't a plan.

The plan is, chrome pickguard, control plate and big bridge plate. Non-standard pickguards are a plus. So is a chromed-up bridge pickup, be it lipstick or PAF. And, come to think of it, an Alumitone pickup from Lace would look sweet on a black body.

There's something to discuss here. Glass won't suck up string vibration the way even the hardest woods will, but still, I think going with a Sustainer in the neck position would be the move. It might be obvious, but I've been wanting a Sustainer guitar (or Sustainiac; I'm not THAT particular) for at least five years. Also, I'm thinking that I'll want to play with compression most of the time, so as noiseless as possible for the pickups. I'm wanting to try Lace Sensors.

Plus, it seems that having a maple headstock at the end of all that black and silver seems to be so wrong. Something more like a John 5 neck, except with, of course, the silvery mirror fingerboard. (If it's fretless, you can't call it a fretboard, can you?) Not there for the Les Paul switch, but that's OK.

So, I know how to play with pickups. I'll be able to step up and learn how to do the Sustainer thing. The thing that I'm not 100% about is the fretboard removal and the glass part, but now there's an Instructable about that, too. 

The last thing I've found, the last thing I'll find until I start putting it money into this, is that coated strings like Elixirs rattle much less if you slide on 'em, and if you're playing fretless, that's all you're gonna do with 'em. They're best with the action dropped way down, and you're sliding not bending, so going thicker is smarter, too.

So, action items are: Tele body, Tele neck with rosewood fretboard. Sustainer. Lace bridge at least. Steam the fretboard. Get glass. String up. Low action. Elixir strings. Now, I suppose I should go earn some money.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Get Bent

Reading the Holiday 2010 issue of Guitar Player. The one with Carlos Santana on the cover. The part that really gets me reading is the Marty Stuart article on page 50. A good big chunk of the interview is about his #1 guitar, the original B-Bender originally belonging to Clarence White. I like Marty Stuart because of Clarence White. I started buying Marty Stuart albums because of Clarence White. I now get his work on his strengths.

The one thing he recommends for B-Bender players is long-pull bender. I wish I could find more information on how to play the thing, but then again, nothing can really tell you how to play it until you have one to play. Nobody could've talked me through playing mandolin or lap steel without having a mandolin or lap steel. Which, again, makes me want to get one more.

What I find most interesting is, while there are many guitarists dropping D, tuning to D-standard, dropping C, getting baritones, 7-strings or 8-strings, and Marty, for one song, tunes a Tele that used to belong to Mick Ronson up to F. That's an interesting thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Up-In-The-Air Life

We are going from a house that's full of expensive to an apartment that's full of cheaper. This should be a good and happy thing. Anyway, I am crazy looking forward to it, but tomorrow much of our stuff will be collected by some people who will auction it. Which should mean money but certainly means I won't have to move it or trip over it anymore. So, yay.

In the mean time, though, I am spending my days serving my community as a juror. Which is about the alpha and omega about what I can say about it.

But, right now, at this moment, I have my PCs shut down and packed up. I just have my netbook and my phone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Don't Want To Talk Anymore

I like covers, I love fingerstyle and I begrudgingly accept Lady Gaga. Good stuff here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Pedal Day - Little 'Gator

I am now the proud owner of a Morley Little Alligator volume pedal. I have plugged it in just long enough to be assured that it works, which it does, but soon it will hold a prized place near the end of the pedal chain, after the dirt but before the tremolo (and the eventual delay pedal).

The Morley has an optical mechanism, so there should be nothing that wears out and needs to be replaced. It does have a minimum volume pot which should last as it's not connected to the main mechanism and fairly fire-and-forget. I had planned to make it drop to zero, but I'm curious if I can set it to tame my Digitech Death Metal pedal and have it still be able to handle nice, clean steel-type swells.

The Morley volume pedal has a reputation for being closer to an on-off switch, but I've talked to Morley people and I feel confident that I can adjust it to what I need it to be. Tonight I'll be testing it out some.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maximum PC: just for the articles

I'm a software guy, and for many reasons, I haven't really been able
to focus on hardware for a good long time. Bits and pieces here and
there, sure, like getting a USB Bluetooth dongle so my phone can talk
to my netbook, and of course my netbook, but by and large, I've missed
hardware changes over the last ... oh, let's call it a decade. I
learned about SATA just as the last run of IDE drives was scheduled to
run off the assembly line.

So, reading Maximum PC to me is a bit like reading Playboy. Well,
looking at the pictures, anyway. There's something out there that's
attractive, beautiful, expensive and I will not be able to put my
hands on it this lifetime. (I don't read Playboy, just making a
metaphor.) I'm looking at HDMI being mentioned and I still do not have
a strong sense of what HDMI connects to what. I have used DVI before,
but not often.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ain't There One Damn Song That Can Make Me Break Down And Cry?

I first heard it by Chris Smither on a CD of songs done at Newport Folk. Every version I heard makes me cry.

I want to have a band that plays David Bowie's "Young Americans" just to break at that line, move into "Killing The Blues" and, when done, switch back to Bowie.

Who's your favorite artist?

I've just finished a compact-disc census, creating a list of all the (non-burned) CDs I own. It's in a database and everything. So, a simple SQL query* tells me how many CDs I have by artist, thus giving a hint at who my favorite artist is.

various artists 72
bob dylan 13
richard thompson 12
the byrds 9
miles davis 8
neil young 7
johnny cash 7
neil young and crazy horse 6
marty stuart 6
dwight yoakam 5
the jayhawks 5
wilco 5
john zorn 5
uncle tupelo 5
junior brown 4
the last poets 4
chris thile 4
stevie ray vaughan 4
the allman brothers band 4
ricky skaggs and kentucky thunder 4
I think this list contains items that everyone expected, as well as items that nobody gets.

* select artist, count(album) as count from compact_discs group by artist order by count desc limit 12

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ad-Hoc Guitar Fixing

I have had my acoustic, a Fender A/E dreadnought, for nearly a decade, and while I have changed the bridge pins and the strings and have had the end pin jack resoldered a few times, but really, it's as it was made. And, while I play up the neck a lot, I by and large play the dread to play blues, folk and country and other first-five frets stuff.

Today we had practice for a big special musical event we're having in September, where I'm the acoustic guy. Last practice, I noticed a little bit of buzzy, sitar-like sound coming from the high E when the 3rd fret is played. Which, if you're playing first-position cowboy chords, you hit all the time. Even more if you're using the James Taylor jangle chords, like G (320033), C2 (x32033), Dsus4 (x00233) and Em7 (020033). That high G popped out and hit my hearing like a poke in the eye. I tried to retune to D and capo 2, but I hit two problems. First, the tuning stability was AWFUL, and second, I began to notice that the B string also had the buzzy sitar problem.

First thing when I got home, I cut up an old membership card and placed it under the saddle, in order to shim the saddle up and avoid these sound problems. It's only been together for a bit, so I don't know if everything is solved, but it seems good so far.

87 Dollars and a Guilty Conscience

Richmond Fontaine. This song is country as anything, except this would never be accepted as country by radio. It's a beautiful, terrible song. This is why alt-country had to happen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ghost Train

Marty Stuart - Ghost Train Preview by Sugar Hill Records

This is from Marty Stuart's new album, Ghost Train, which was recorded in the famed Studio B in Nashville. The track is "Hummingbyrd" and man, doesn't it just scream of that Clarence White vibe? It's Oh So Very Nashville West. All the more reason I need a B-bender.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New York City Has A Lot To Do With It

Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris doing "Big Mouth Blues" in 1973. "Big Mouth" is the first GP song I recall hearing, and honestly, it doesn't reward a close listening to the lyrics. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. It is fun, though.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gonna Make You Burn, Gonna Make You Sting

This is from a gallery on Premier Guitar, showing Robert Kantor's Swarovski-bead-encrusted guitars. I of course went to the Tele Deluxe, which is named "Black Dog". Evidently, they're available at Rudy's Music in New York. As you might guess, the Black Dog is a little plain compared to some of the others. For example, take the Crash guitar Eric Clapton has been playing recently. Then, redo the art in glass beads.

And Now For Something Completely Different

This is Henry Kaiser playing Q-Tuners. You can look at other Kaiser videos and fall over in pain, but here, while I'm not sure about the note choices, the guitar tone itself is solid. It's a decent sounding recording, not too different from some of Zappa's work, like "He Used To Cut The Grass" or some things from Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar. And when I say "I'm not sure", I'm not saying that I hate it. I haven't decided that way, either.

Words To Live By

Not "Get yourself some cheap sunglasses", although that works. "Think Buck Owens". Although I think "Think Don Rich" might be slightly better advice.

As a listener, I get and like Jack's tone here, but as a player, I always want something that has more of the fundamental tone and less of the buzz. But still, great guys to listen to.

New Tele Documentary

How could I consider myself a Tele blogster if I didn't cover this?
That's James Burton, Redd Volkaert, Keith Richards, John 5, Sue Foley, Ritchie Kotzen, Albert Lee, Jerry Douglas, Greg Koch, G.E. Smith and Steve Cropper, all talking up the King of electric guitars, the Telecaster. (Kinda sad that Arlen skipped to Gibson, because he wrote the book on the Telecaster. Literally. I'm thinking I should put this on my Christmas list. Thanks, Fender Blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Just got back from watching the footage from the 2010 Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. A few notes....

Listen to Gary Clark Jr.

I'm older than Robert Randolph and I still want to be him when I grow up.

I have read interviews with Sonny Landreth. I have heard albums. I've searched on Youtube. Now I have seen him do it on a screen taller than I am. I still have no idea what he was doing.

There's a beautiful song that Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi did, called "Midnight in Harlem". When it comes out, I need to get it.

Listen to Gary Clark Jr.

Vince Gill, Keb Mo, Albert Lee, James Burton and Earl Klugh? It worked, but still, ???

John Meyer can do a convincing version of "Power of Soul".

Buddy Guy has been a recording artist since 1958. He has been recording for over 50 years. The man doesn't look 50. It's amazing.

I get why Eric closes these with Steve Winwood. I get it. I do. I like Blind Faith as much as anyone. But I think Steve phrases enough like Eric, on guitar mostly, that having both play guitar, having them both play Eric Clapton Signature Stratocasters through similar amps, doesn't allow them to distinguish themselves enough.

It'll be out on DVD/Blu-Ray in October.

Goin' Down To The Crossroads

Fathom is a weird thing. Using the silver screens of movie theaters to show streamed video. And tomorrow, Tuesday, July 27, they'll be showing Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. It was filmed the day before Gearfest. Live, the show featured Albert Lee, BB King, Bert Jansch, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Earl Klugh, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Hubert Sumlin, James Burton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang, Keb' Mo', Pino Daniele, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, Sonny Landreth, Stefan Grossman, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, and ZZ Top. I don't know which of those names they'll show.

I have two tickets. Tell you about it tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Bunch of Nothings

Got the new Premier Guitar. Haven't read much yet. There's a story on Parsons Guitars that includes many great guitar shots. There's a story on the Black Keys that looks to be good. Love Brothers. Like the "Unsung Heroes" story, but they missed a trick by not showing his rig, which is the wildest head-and-cabinet set I've ever seen.
And there is word coming of a Premier Guitar TV show. I would DVR that and replay the heck out of it.

Have the new Guitar Player. Read more of it. Haven't read the Steve Miller article yet. Don't know if I will. Don't really like Steve Miller.

I've been having an idea. The Sonuus is a guitar-to-MIDI converter. It's monophonic. The MoPho is a monophonic synthesizer, in the old-school analog sense. So, any signal that a Sonuus could handle, a MoPho could handle. The MIDI Mouse would allow you to go between presets so you could have it all floor-mounted. And thats only $600, which I don't have, and that's before the A/B/Y switches you'd want to switch between normal and synthy. But wouldn't be cool? Wouldn't you sound like nobody else?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NGD: LPB1, plus

I have failed to take pics of either the unboxing or my assembled rig, but I am now the proud owner of an EHX LPB-1. It's a linear power booster, basically a clean boost pedal. I haven't yet decided on the placement for this pedal yet. I tried it right after my Boss CS3, which was OK, but there are a few places left to try. But I have to say that I like it. I really like it a lot.

I mentioned previously that I plugged my #1 into a Mesa Boogie amp. It has ruined me. I know how good my guitar can sound, and now I'm shamed and offended by my tone. It may be too many patch cables. It may be my AX1500G. It may be settings on my AX1500G. But I must fix it. I must!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just Got Back From Gearfest

Well, no. I got back. I played with toys. I crashed. I woke up. And now I'm reporting.

As always, it's a good time. And this time, I came home with something more than the freebies. Eric's been needing a strap, and I got him a nice Levy strap, suede so that it grips the clothes and fights neck drop. And I got myself a new pedal, an EHX LPB1. I like being Mr Clean with my amp, so I don't need some dirt, I just need some more. I've played with it some at home, and it's more.

I also got my #1 restrung, and I took the liberty of taking it into the guitar room and running it head-to-head with some other Teles there. And I found a few things.

  • My Tele, a late 80s MIJ toploader, has a certain grace and certainly sounds like a Tele.
  • The series position, the fourth position on the four-way switch I added, adds a noticeable and nice amount of volume.
  • Sweetwater has a number of sweet Telecasters. This one has the great baseball-bat neck, but it was a little too sticky with the poly, but the size was perfect.
  • I think I want a Mesa-Boogie Lone Star Special
This was not part of my head-to-head. It is a Custom Shop Ghost Paisley Tele, and that's sweet. 

I saw Greg Koch, who is truly a mutant. Imagine Chet Atkins playing "Stairway To Heaven". Greg can do it. David Grissom also showed off his PRS guitars and the new PRS amps. I knew David was good, and I knew PRS guitars sounded good, but man, I was impressed.

I also met Mandy Marie, who I kinda know from TDPRI. She was looking at a Jazzmaster (I think) and my son was playing with a Sustainiac-equipped Jackson, and they jammed. It was cool. 

I played a Nord Stage EX. I played a Korg KAOSSilator. I want both. The Nord has exactly the Rhodes and Hammond sounds I want in a keyboard.

I took some pics of some cool stuff, and I'll try to get them up tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Day In The Life

They have campus all jacked up. There's one main drag through campus, and they have it blocked off to build a new building. So, the main drag has been redirected in front of my building.

This leads to me following me like they're on the main drag when I'm looking for a parking space. As often happens, I have to go down to the end of the street to get a spot. I'm OK with that — it's a way for me to force myself to get exercise — but today, someone thought I was pulling into the right turn lane and pulled right in after me.

I am continually amused by my life.

Well, That Was ... Fun

The FCC has kicked every everyone off the 700MHz range. By "everyone" I'm meaning folks with wireless mics and earphones and the like. I'm certainly not talking emergency services, which is the primary user of this band, now.

Specifically, our Wednesday Pack-1  and Pack-2 are history.

This meant only Pack-3 was available. So, out of vox keys drums bass guitar, only the keys got to hear what he was playing. Everyone else had to listen to the house, with all the speakers facing away from us.

But wait, there's more.

Keys' keys, they have onboard speakers. which can be switched off. Of course, there's one volume, not separate volumes for the output jack and the onboard speakers, which means if you turn down the built-in in order for him to not blow the band away, he has to have the board really push him.

I brought my #2, the white Rondo w/ .012s that is really loud. That was good. But if you're relying on the acoustic sound of electric instruments, that's not good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Say a word for Ginger Brown

More on that Unpaid Endorsement

You can see the bevel I've generated. The tip of the pick looks kinda like "\". I understand why they went with the black block rhino, because while this wears like rhino horn, the image doesn't. I swear and affirm it's a 1mm, even though the text on the pick is long gone.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sweetwater Minute - Vol. 41, Korg "monotron" Synth Demo

I want. I so want.

Thanks, Scott, for Saving the Morley Volume Pedal for Me

Or, "They're all retarded."

Morley makes expression pedals, like volume pedals and wahs. In fact, Steve Vai has a signature volume, the Little Alligator, and a wah, the Bad Horsie. The difference is that they're optical. They don't use pots with moving parts to wear out. Evidently, Mark Knopfler is using the same Morley volume pedal he started using back in the "Sultans of Swing" era 30 years ago. So, you'd think that it's a no-brainer that folks that really do volume swells a lot, country twangers, would absolutely be all over this.

But you'd be wrong. Go to the product reviews on Musician's Friend, for example, and you'll see folks saying that it's fine as a glorified mute pedal, but if you want to get your swell on, avoid Morley like the plague. Starting at 6:30 on the video, Scott explains why. Basically, it's as close to a perfect representation of almost no tone, almost no change, from 1-8, and 9 and 10 being wide open. Unless you carve the hole out with a screwdriver.

Also, he points out something. They use the same LED they use for the optical circuit stuff as a "pedal on" indicator. That's what one might call a neat hack. Especially if you're using it in a normally-lit indoor venue. But evidently, if you're playing a bright mid-day show, the light bleeds in and makes it always on. Not good, but fixable with electrical tape.

So, now I want one again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rondo Lap Steel Change

Here's the Agile Labradoodle, the newest version of their lap steel. What's the change?

The old version, like the old-school Fender Champion steels, had the bridge cover and electronics cover connected. And they had a Les Paul Jr-style bridge, which means you had to take off the cover to change strings. It was considered a pain. Plus, I have one guitar w/ a cover and one without, and I don't see much of a point to the bridge cover anymore. I like right-hand muting with lap steels. So, I agree with the change and am officially tempted.

That's a Strat-style pickup, by the way, for your modding pleasure.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Gear Day

There, right between the Behringer O/D and the Digitech Death Metal is my new Washburn Soloist Distortion, an clone of the Altec Soloist. I got it from Sam Ash on an incredible phone-only deal. I plugged in a 9-volt, put it inline, and yeah, it's a sound I like. Good stuff. I'll tape up some settings for it soon, once I'm sure what they should be.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Having A Thought

First, a Korg Monotron, a classic synth that can take an outside audio source — for example, a guitar — as an oscillator.

Second, a Morley FX Blender, a kind of blendable FX loop.

Mix in a little bit of synthy bloop or a lot. I love it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Setup Trick for Bolt-On Neck Guitars

I've just read this, not tried it yet. But I probably will before too long.

Tune your guitar up. Or, half-up; I've seen it both ways. Either way, enough that there's tension between the neck and the bridge.

Unscrew the neck bolts a quarter turn. This should pull the neck more fully into the the neck socket.

Re-tighten the neck screws. I've seen it written to tune up to standard before re-tightening, but I don't think it would really buy you much more. This is the setup technique that G&L put into their Owner's Manual. Supposedly, you get better contact within the pocket, resulting in more volume and sustain.

In fact, I think I'll set this down and try it on my #2.


I don't know that I hear a difference, but I do know that I tuned it up to Open G (DGDGBD) and after I had done this, several strings were up to a half-step flat. Which implies that something moved. So, maybe it's better. I think I'll have to do something more comparable and scientific with my #1. If any of you guys are gutsy enough to try it, tell me what you think.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shred, Gordon Freeman!

This is a Logicaster from Black Mesa. Through-body construction, 24 frets, reverse headstock, Steinberger gearless tuners, Thinline-style pickguard and my goodness look at that top!

I'm not too much of a fan of the to-one-side fretboard dots, though. I like centered or nothing, but you know what? I think I could live with it.

The electronics are chosen special, using handwound pickups and top-notch switches and pots.

And not really through-neck, but the explanation is a little on the long side to the point where I mostly get it but can't explain it, so check the explanation here.

It's a looker, and I bet it's a player.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This has almost nothing to do with guitars

Today, before work, I got a new pair of shorts from Wal-Mart. It gets hot down here in summer, and I decided to go for shorts. I don't know the size of the old shorts, but another pair on my drawer had a 48 waist.

The pair I got have a 42 waist. When I changed, I unhooked my belt and let 'em drop. Didn't need to unbutton or anything.

This makes me happy.

This is not a fast weight drop — the old shorts are 10 years old, easy — but it is ongoing. I can't remember if it was last year or the year before where I hit 44, which was the magic number that meant I no longer had to shop in the Big-and-Tall store to get pants. (The line is that fat people go to Wal-Mart, but you cannot find pants with more than a 44 waist there. Trust me. I know this.)

The only guitar-related thing about this that comes to mind is, as my weight and girth drops, I will have to become more and more worried about belt buckle rash on the back of my guitars. As is, there's a substantial buffer created by my gut.

So, yay me. I might go out and get a chocolate shake to celebrate!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nailed It

There's a song we're doing, and the song has this kinda strange guitar part. Kinda like a staccato 70s Who sequencer bit, but more behind the band. I don't really know what the guy on the track did, but I figured that I could put the tremolo on a square wave, slow it down and sweep the wah and get close, and yeah, that did it.

I love it when a sound comes together.

A Question of Balance

The man on the left is Cosmos Lyles. He holds a patent for the Evertune, a new kind of bridge.

Look at what looks like a tremolo spring rout on the black Strat is the spring tension, which goes to each individual string. The best metaphor I can come up with is an automobile suspension, which manages the ups and downs of the road you're on to give you a comfortable ride. When the tuner turns and the strings stretch, the springs take up the slack.

Or, if my explanation and the patent document fail to explain, here's their explanation video.

There's another video where the guitarist of the Sick Puppies (who I've never heard of, but evidently they're big enough that the guy gets a guitar tech — hey, I'm too old to know the cool bands). He takes his Evertune-equipped 335 and frobs the tuning peg with no identifiable change in tuning. This is pretty cool. Yeah, all the cool guitarists know that you go with graphite nuts, saddles and trees, and with locking tuners, if you have to make sure, but that helps with string slippage, it does nothing for string stretching. That could be very valuable.

On the other hand, consider rock guitar. Rock guitar sounds like rock guitar because of bending and vibrato, and if I'm reading this wrong, unless tweak it just right to where you're nearly losing the adaptive glory of this thing, you lose the ability put the vibrato on the notes. Shredder's delight, I guess, but a bane to those of us who like to put a little English on a note.

It should be noted that this doesn't do anything to solve the problems that the Feiten system, for example, is there to fix. If you're incorrectly intonated, you'll still be incorrectly intonated, just consistently wrong. But I think this is a new and exciting idea. What do you think?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gettin' The Story Told

I can't say I bought my first Dio album — it was part of a cache of albums that my sister's boyfriend gave up when he moved, years ago — but it was one of the first albums I listened to. Last In Line. After that, I listened back some, into Sabbath and Rainbow. Don't listen to him as much anymore, but I'm still a fan.

Ronnie James Dio was coming back, touring with the Heaven and Hell lineup as Heaven and Hell, rather than Sabbath, which is a decision I don't get. Still, what I heard, I liked, and I was glad to see that sort of rock come back.

Ronnie James Dio died today after an extended battle with stomach cancer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Return of the Daughter of How I Found The Woman Tone

The Museum of Music Making has an exhibition called The Art of the Stompbox. This is part of the exhibit, despite not being a stompbox, and this specific picture is from their Flickr gallery.

It is also a Girl Brand guitar. Specifically, the Sushi Girl. The site says this one was inspired by Henry Kaiser, who is involved with the DVD for this exhibition.

There's two words I've heard. First, the pickups come from the Schecter of Schecter Guitar Research and come with a three-way switch for each, controlling the number of windings. Second, these things run about $5000 each. Which makes sense. They're works of art, right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Didn't Know That

So, I just got Bill Frisell's Best of, Vol 1., which has a very interesting Tele-style guitar on the cover.
I see a Telecaster neck PU and a PAF-style bridge pickup. Plus really interesting art. So, I want to know more. So, I type "bill frisell telecaster" into my favorite search engine and what do I get?

Bill talking to Fender about his Tacoma baritone? Why would he do that?

Because, it seems, that Tacoma, along with Guild, Gretsch, Ovation and both Charvel and Jackson, (plus a whole lot more) is owned by Fender Musical Instruments Company. 

That's interesting to me.

I knew about Charvel and Jackson. It strikes me kinda like owning both Ferrari and Porsche, as we're talking both major high performance superstrat companies, but whatever.

I thought Tacoma had a string-through bridge so you didn't need bridge pins...

Anyway, that is at least in part, his old Jaguar. Certainly is a Jag neck, and looks like they moved the bridge forward. At least that's what Elliot Easton thinks.

Me? I think we need a bigger picture of that guitar.

High Water Everywhere

The Tennessean has an excellent photo essay showing the Soundcheck storage facility and the gear damaged by the flooding.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

... but I know what I like

Saw this on TDPRI. It's a Tele Custom, with Seth Lover Split-Humbucker in the neck position and Les-caster wiring, modified by Jesper Eriksson. Look at the projects — he's got Gibsons and Strats and of course Teles — with these massively cool paint jobs.

Trip To Guitarworks

I went to Greenwood, IN today to see the Hellecaster Will Ray give a seminar at Guitarworks. He truly is a fantastic player, and store isn't half bad either. I mostly took video, which will be forthcoming once I upload to YouTube, but here's some pictures of gear for everyone's edification

That's from their wall of G&Ls. I don't know if these count as Legacys or S500s, but they're nice. The bound sunburst in the middle specifically is a guitar that wants to be in my collection, I promise you.

This is an Ibanez S series of some sort. I love the look of the S series. I love that straight-in jack under the bridge. I love the look of the switch. I love the Strat-but-not body shape. And I love love love love love that birdseye figure on the top. It is great!

Eric disagrees. Eric is wrong.

And, at the bottom, is the Peavey Power Slide, which is a lap steel meant to be played standing up, when you don't have a lap. Like a dobro, but electric. They come in red, too. I do think I like the black best, but given my #1, is that shocking?

On the Application of Knowledge

For I learned that the absolute best way to find out what you don't understand is to try to express something in your own words.
— Donald Knuth, Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About

Here, he's talking about translating the Bible, despite not knowing Greek or Hebrew. I think it works when you're talking about most subject, especially music. You can listen to music, you can read about music theory, but it's when you come to play, you have to be you, and you have to communicate with others. I think it's easy to recast that statement as one of this blog's statements of belief:

The best way to learn to play music is to play music, preferably with other people and in front of other people

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's in the Water up in Canada?

Is it anything like what they used to have in DC? Because that's a lot of Blues Tele in those two women.

Ever actually SEE irony?

All his road gear were in storage and all got flooded. As the man says "On the positive side everyone is safe. On the negative... I think all my road guitar gear, amps, effects, are under 3 ft of river."

I hope to see his dried-out gear this summer.

Twangbilly Dive Bomb

This is the Tracii Guns Signature Nash Vegas guitar from Dean.

You know Guns and Roses? Notice how Axl Rose's name is Rose? Tracii was the Guns of Guns and Roses before everything happened.

I'm torn here. "Fish" would be a guitar with a Floyd Rose and big beefy humbuckers. "Fowl" would be standard Tele pickups on a hardtail, or maybe a Bigsby. This is neither fish nor fowl. Or maybe not. It says it has "Nash Vegas" pickups, which could be stacked humbucker versions of Tele pickups, but as the standard Nash Vegas is discontinued, I can't look that up.

There's a philosophy for this blog, which isn't necessarily clear. In purest form: "This is a guitar-" "I want it." If it has six or twelve strings (or seven, or eight) and is played with a pick, this blog wants it. But I'm torn on this one. Pin-stripes? I like pinstripes. Teles? I like Teles. Floyd Rose? I want my next guitar to have 'em. But this isn't quite add up to "want", except in the most abstract sense. But, cool.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Had To Post This

This blog is unambiguously a fan of the Allman Brothers Band.

This blog is also unambiguously a fan of Telecaster.

So, when someone posts a YouTube video featuring both, I have to link it.

Is the last line "Deep"?

"The versatility of a Telecaster is almost unmatched."

The versatility of the yahoo playing it (me) is much more limited.
Did I mention this? The other guitarist begged off this weekend, so I played two Sundays in a row (and will get a third next week). And it was fun. Let's discuss the differences between the bands.

  • Drums - My regular band has a drummer who was so jazzed that he got to see August Burns Red recently. Here's some August Burns Red. C is for Christian Metalcore, that's good enough for me. I like him, I'd gladly play with him wherever, but he's slowly growing from a mindset where his dynamics go from 9 to 10. The sound guys are gladdened that now, he's getting to the point where they can have him in the house mix, and not mute his mics and STILL have him too loud. The other band normally has a guy that's closer to a jazz drummer, never too loud, but he also skipped out, so the normal Wednesday night drummer stepped up. I think the oddest meter we did was 6/4, which, as things go, is pretty simple, but I've seen drummers I was greatly impressed by fall flat on waltz time, but the new guy handled it.
  • Bass - My regular bassist is a metalhead. He's picking stuff up, but he knows so little theory that my second favorite bassist joke ("How many bassists does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "1. 5. 1. 5.") fell flat with him. The other band's bassist is much more technically adept. 
  • Piano - The guy I normally play with will tell you that he's a P&W keyboard player who's learning to play the roll of a piano player. Today, I played with a piano player. The biggest difference is that with the keyboard guy it's very clear. "Now, I will play chords" "Now, I will improvise a solo." Today's pianist is much more integrated in the way good piano players (pianists?) are.
  • Guitar - no second guitar today. Which I do like.
  • Sax - Our sax guy can't make it to practice on Tuesdays and sounds like he didn't practice with us. I don't want to say bad things about him, but I don't really know good things about him beside "he shows up". But the other band's sax guy was a gigging musician for years with a deep and abiding love for Tower of Power. 
I think I'd fit in a lot better with this band. I had a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Not the Songquest

I blew it again this week. I've got no licks pulled out, and I don't even have an anniversary as an excuse.

In the June 2010 Guitar Player (Jeff Beck cover), Andy Ellis has a lesson where he demonstrates how easy it is to go From C#dim to the F7, B7 D7 and Ab7 chords. That's cool, really, and it's in my head if not in my hands, but there's a key piece of information he fails to bring up.

Consider a chromatic scale.
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
We'll start from C#, as this is where Andy started.
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
A diminished chord uses a minor third, so E.
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
A diminished chord uses a flat 5, so G.
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
A diminished chord uses a flat flat 7, formerly known as a 6 so A#. Well, we're talking flattening, not sharpening, so I should say Bb, but then I'd have to rewrite this chromatic scale.
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
Do you see it yet?

Give it a moment. Now?

Bold normal normal Bold normal normal. A diminished chord is a stack of minor thirds. This means that a C#dim7 is also an Edim7 is also a Gdim7 is also a Bbdim7 (and it makes me wish I could type unicode on a Windows netbook keyboard to have that written as B♭°7 instead.

... wait ...

Anyway, if that one chord is four chords, and dropping the root a half-step gives you a dominant chord, of course you can jump to any of those four chords quickly.

But Sans, you might say, we play rock. How does this help us? And that's a good question. Some time around 1960, melody went from being notes in the chord to notes in the scale, and soon we went from expressive algebra chords to root-and-fifth power chords that allow you the maximum number of choices. (Gross exageration, but I believe that's the trend.) Diminished chords are elegant weapons for a more civilized age. But they do show up on occasion. Take "This Wheel's On Fire" from the Basement Tapes.

The chord is the second chord in the verse. "Meet again and wait". Take whatever diminished chord form and move it up a minor third at a time, 1-2-3-4, to get some cheap drama into the progression.

Considering going through "People Get Ready" to get Songquest on track.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's the subtitle of this blog again?

A little background:

The choir just had their spring concert, which, by the way, was great. I signed on to be a musician for it, but it turned out that there was really no need for a guitarist. Nor drummer, nor bass. Just keys, piano, a couple strings people and some brass. I made the program anyway, which I find funny.

On topic with the choir, normally, when they do a special song and not just acting like a big group of background singers, they do it to a track. This leaves the musicians sitting there, twiddling their thumbs in front of the singers. This is not as good as it could be, so the leader is trying to teach the band to work from lead sheets, not chord sheets, and begin to handle the more complex arrangements that the choir wants.

Anyway, the other guitarist is taking some time away, so I'll be filling in on my off week. Practice was today. So, I showed up and practiced with the other band. Doing two of the choir numbers they're setting up. And the other guitarist was there. (I came early, so I was set up and warmed up well before he walked in.) And they were playing songs I hadn't worked out or even spent much time with, if any.

Also, as it was just after the spring concert, so the choir is taking a break and not working up a special for this week.

(Just to make the point, I play for a church. I don't see the roll of this blog as being a means to evangelize, so I don't bring it up that much, but let's face it, where do you find choirs but churches? Not many places.)

So, I'm there, dazed and confused, getting lost in the lyricless lead sheet for a song I'm just not going to do any time soon.

So I ask.

"What exactly am I doing here?"

It was a good time. I always like hanging with musicians, but really, no, I did not need to be there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Welcome to my Pedals

Welcome to my pedals.

  • Dunlop Cry-Baby Wah
  • Boss CS3 Compressor/Sustainer
  • Behringer Overdrive/Distortion
  • Digitech Death Metal Distortion
  • Danelectro Cool Cat Tremolo
  • ToneWorks (KORG) AX1500G
Honestly, I could probably get much of what of what I have on the floor through the 1500, which is a multi-effects box. I mostly use it as an amp simulator, though, and as a tuner pedal. (There is no one-step tuner, though. I have to lean down and press 2 buttons to go into tuner mode. Clearly a design for the home player, not for playing out. But it is mine, so I like it.

Even as I consider replacement possibilities.

I've been torn about the placement of the wah, before or after compression, but I've decided "That's the way Jimi Hendrix woulda done it". 

You'll notice that I have little pieces of electrical tape with my preferred settings on the fronts of many of my pedals. I have my compression at about 12 o'clock for all but sustain, which gives me the feel of having out-of-control feeding-back overdrive without actually having the harsh tone. I'm not using it all the time, but I do use it a fair amount. 

I have the Overdrive/Distortion set with the gain knob all the way down, so it's just a volume boost. I have a decent, non-harsh clean sound I like, but it's like there's no oomph behind it, so the O/D pedal is there just to give me a some of that oomph.

I have no settings for the Death Metal pedal. It's all the gain, really, so I find myself turning it back so I just have usable gain. And the soundman says I'm still not there yet.

The tremolo is not the most expensive there is, but I could dial it to what feels like a Fender amp tremolo — always remember and never forget, the circuit on the amp that messes with volume is tremolo, not vibrato, and the bar that connects to the bridge is vibrato, not tremolo — while the more expensive pedals I picked out just could not, so this is my tremolo.

As mentioned, the AX1500G is a multi-effects unit, and I don't use it for much. Clean amp and speaker simulation, volume pedal, tuner, and that's just about it. It has all sorts of fun stuff, like univibe, ring modulation, autowah, echo, reverb and lots and lots of different GRRRR sounds, but if I set them up with specific patches, It's hard to switch off the tremolo without changing the echo and gain, so I'm a pedal guy. I've seen multieffect boxes that claim to let me access each effect in a patch, but that's not what I have right now.

The top of my current wish list is for a delay pedal with a reverse setting, to get the weird backwards-tracked sounds, and maybe tap temp off the side. I'm thinking that if I get a SansAmp Blonde pedal, a decent volume pedal and a good tuner pedal, plus power and a box to put them all in, I'd be in a good place.


Take three LEDs and spin them on all three axes. Beautiful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How I Found The Woman Tone, And What I Did To Her When I Found Her

Seems that people who want a shredder guitar that's not a pointy thing want a Super-Strat, not a Super-Tele. So, the guitar to the left, the Charvel San Dimas Style 2, is no longer offered. And, honestly, until recently, I wasn't too interested, either.

Then I saw that Charlie Sexton video. Now, I'm hooked, scouring eBay for 'em. Not that it isn't just dreaming right now.

It's the harmonics solo starting right at 3:00, really. I try to do harmonics and my single-coils are just not high-output enough to make them pop like that. Getting front-and-center harmonics take priority over getting the exact note, because if nobody hears it, what's the point? So, want.

Thing is, I'd want to be able to go back to single coils.

Well, maybe not. But I'd want to have the option to do that, even if I never avail myself of it.

But this guitar is volume and pickup switch only. If it was dual volume, or volume-tone, I'd have separate knobs on which I could install coil taps. And it uses a 3-way Les-Paul style switch instead of a blade switch, so I can't switch a three-way for a five-way go get Ibanez-style coil-tapping on the switch. So, it seems I could only get the tapping if a push-pull could tap both at once, which I don't think it could do, or by adding all sorts of mini-toggles to the front of the instrument, and honestly, who wants a guitar that looks like the control panel on the shuttle?

On another subject, Floyd Rose. I have never had a whammyful guitar as my main guitar. As friend of this blog Patrick says that whenever we play together and I pick up a guitar with a Floyd, I grab the bar, dive bomb the bar, lift the guitar by the bar and bounce it around a while, then proceed to play like it was a hard-tail. I think it's time I start.

In conclusion, want.