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.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Love My Calendar Girl

Normally, when I say "guitar porn", I don't mean it quite so literally.

This is the "Esquire Girl" Esquire, made by Spalt Instruments, with a pickup with dyed bone flatwork, wound by Lindy Fralin, Swamp Ash body, Maple neck and no switch, just volume and tone, which is a reasonable-to-good take on the subject. This specific example is in Cologne, and I'm sure it's pricey.

And, honestly, this is about the closest they get to a "standard" guitar. There is a Les Paul, too, that looks like the "Dia de los Muertos", but otherwise, they trend from strange body types to pieces suspended by metal and just kinda near each other. Just absolutely stunning works of art.

Guitars are works of art, but they are also practical tools, and the "practical tools" part isn't set up here. What's the pickup type? 250K pots or 500K? What's the neck profile? The radius?

But you know what? If I owned it, if I played it, I probably just wouldn't care.

Went to the Guitar Store yesterday

This is not a New Gear Day post. OK, I got a few patch cables so I can get all my pedals in a row, but how do you crow about getting 2 six-inch cables?

But I did pick up and try a few things.

First was a Squier Classic Vibe Tele Custom. That's Classic in the mid-60s sense, which is a double-bound Tele with a rosewood fretboard. I love that look, although I'd like a blue double-bound over a sunburst, but for that price (~$350), I'd accept membership in OTIS (Order of The Immacculate Sunburst).

I tried it through a FM DSP 212. Yeah, solid state. Yeah, digital signal processing. But it sounded reasonably good, and it's a 212 for about $300, too. Channel-switching between two very-configurable channels? I think I'm putting that on my Christmas list.

I looked around the acoustic room, and I plugged a black top-bound Fender Telecoustic into a Peavey acoustic amp, and I was really surprised by how good it sounded. Really! I'm not just saying that because it's a Tele! It was just a little more than the "tuned snare" that an acoustic in an electric band is, but it was good. And, while I'm belaboring this point, the on-the-top preamps these days have built-in tuners! When did that happen? And can I get one put in my A/E? Please?

And finally, I picked up an instrument that costs more than everything else in this post combined, a Martin Sustainable Wood Dreadnought. It's ~$1500 before factoring in the electronics I'd need, but really, it was a fine instrument. Easily half the weight of my Dread, and it sounded so sweet. And really, it's weird, but consistantly, the best Martins I pick up at guitar shops are the SWDGTs. I guess I just really love cherry, which is what the backs and sides are.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guess what I did?

I taped Kirchen doing "Sleepwalk"! And got him to sign my Tele! That pic coming later.

Check My Math II

In a previous post, I linked to Charlie Sexton's video to "Beat So Lonely", from back in the 80s. Can you believe he was 16 or so when he made that? Anyway, the guitar he uses for the solo, about 3 minutes in, is a Tele-style (neck and body) with a locking nut and 2 humbuckers. Could be Kahler, could be Floyd Rose. Black tuners, black locking nut, black body. Well, could be some other dark color, as it's a black-and-white video. I think I'm seeing volume, tone and a three-way switch in a Strat-like position, but it's so dark and it's black hardware, so it's hard to be sure. Like an ESP M-II but with a Tele-style body. Can anyone tell me anything about it? Anyone have a used one they want to rid themselves of?

Friday, April 16, 2010

I still think Dick Vaughn is a Prostitiute

Decades ago, some kid in Minnesota went mad and killed his family, as sometimes kids do. Negativland, on the cusp of a US tour, decided that they'd cancel the tour with a press release saying that the FBI told them to not leave town, suggesting that a track from their Escape From Noise album, "Christianity is Stupid", inspired the murders.

OK, not the best way to get out of something, but that's what they did. And the press jumped on it. Tracks one and two, or the first side of the album/cassette Helter Stupid, are their take on the media feeding frenzy over it.

But that's not what interested me.

Side 2, "The Perfect Cut", is far more interesting as text and also more interesting as music, and had me hitting rewind far after I stopped caring about Side A. It's a supreme deconstruction of the record industry and a source of many of my favorite non sequiturs. Like the title, above.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My friend, Jim Campilongo, and his new album, Orange

He was on Facebook, and I friended him, and he friended me back. So, "My friend, Jim Campilongo".

You've got to give it one more shot...

Charlie Sexton, "Beat So Lonely"

Pulp, "Common People".

Is it just me, or does it sound like Jarvis Cocker wrote better lyrics to Charlie's song?

Either way, I want a San Dimas Style 2 now more than ever.

More Songs From My Past

"The Four Horsemen" from 666, a psychedelic adaptation of the book of Revelation by Aphrodite's Child, featuring Vangelis. This was on the KSHE playlist all the time back in the 80s.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?

Have to credit Guitarz for linking to this, which is yet another Telecaster created by a French luthier. This time, it's Loïc Le Pape. Is it just me, or are there a whole lot of French luthiers making metal guitars out there? Unlike the other maker, Trussart, he seems to be making a wider variety of body styles, including ES335, Les Paul Jr, Melody Maker,Country Gentleman, Jazzmaster/Jaguar, Flying V, Explorer and reverse Firebird. Hey, Strat, there's even one of your body types up there.

The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle. You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. That guitar, that you can trust.

Why Don't You Believe?

Dig, "Believe". I recall them playing on some talk show or other. I think they had 3 guitarists, with the third playing the drone bit with slide, an Ebow and a wah pedal. I have a wah, I have an slide, now all I need is the Ebow and I'll be set.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Gear Day - Death Metal Pedal

Yes, I got a Digitech "Death Metal" distortion pedal. $30 from Craigslist.

I've played with it at home, both through my Frontman and my little 9-volt bedroom amp, and I liked the results with those amps. In my main gig, which is guitar to pedals to DI to board, I step on the button and immediately get GREAT GOBS OF HORRIBLE NOISE in my earbuds. I'm used to some buzz, but not this much. And normally, the buzz goes away when I turn the volume down on the guitar. In fact, I tried to set it up during a quiet spot where I was hoping to lead into a singing tone. BZZZT! and I gave up, but the leader looked back at me, wondering who was making the noise.

But that was all non-vol knobs at 12 noon. I zeroed out the bass and dimed mids and highs and got something nice, but I got to that in a more full-band situation, and when you have drums, bass, keys, acoustic guitar, and piano going in your head, the horrible noise of your distortion pedal is buried under a lot of other sounds.

I don't have the thing dialed in yet. I think it's something I'll like. But it is all the more reason to get myself a good volume pedal.

Satch@Sweetwater - the next best thing to being there

Flying In A Blue Dream

Surfing With The Alien

Always With me, Always With You

Satch Boogie

Summer Song

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Look. Still the Teleblogster

Decided to avail myself of the new Template maker for Blogspot, and came up with this. New logo image, too. If you look closely, you'll see it's a B-bender, too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Wonder -- Which Should I Get?

From the Land of Dead Trees

Have the Guitar Player with Orianthi on the cover? Turn to page 154. That's the end of the Orianthi cover story, with a sidebar pulled from GP's Facebook page.
Dave Jacoby I love shredders, but they've chased people away from the instrument. Dick Dale, The Ventures — people used to dance to instrumental rock-guitar music! More power to Orianthi!
I've now been mentioned/quoted in my two favorite guitar magazines!

And there was a quick Facebook quiz for Premier Guitar, and the winner got a free one-year subscription. Guess who won? I feel so good today!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hit The Ground Running

The guitar track to Van Halen's "Unchained" from Fair Warning. Among other things, it's an interesting look on dynamics. I doubt there's much difference between the chorus tone and the breakdown tone besides Eddie turning down and not hitting the strings as hard, but it makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gig Alert

Bill Kirchen at the Lafayette Brewing Co., Lafayette, IN
Saturday, April 17th
8:00 p.m.

Here's a preview:

Surfing With The Alien at Sweetwater

2 weeks ago, during my kids' Spring Break, I had the opportunity to take my eldest to see Joe Satriani give a workshop/show at Sweetwater Sound. And it was awesome.

First, comments about the venue: As a walk-in music store, the floor space Sweetwater has is about the size of a decent-to-good local store with high-end gear, but when you work in the on-site recording studios, the cafeteria, and the absolutely huge warehouse in back, it gets to the "awesome" point. Then, there's the Performance Theater. I have never seen a performance space nearly as nice.

I started checking the registration page as soon as I heard about the event, and by the time it showed up, they were into overflow seeting. This is great, too — I was in the overflow to see Victor Wooten — and while the seats are not as comfortable, they use the state-of-the-art video production capabilities in the main room to stream to the overflow, and they make sure that the artist does some Q&A in the other room, too.

But, as it turned out, there were enough empty seats in the main room that my son and I were able to get upgraded. Yay!

I did not take notes this time, unlike the Wooten and John 5 events. For this I am sorry. I'm trying to give the notes as they come to my head.

Joe performed several songs to tracks on a laptop, and he mentioned how strange and refreshing it was to hear all the music that well, which he normally can't when playing with a band. This was an off night between Experience Hendrix shows, so he was playing with humbuckers with standard-tuned .009s instead of .010s tuned down a half-step on the Strat-style single-coils he used to play the Hendrix material. (OK, bladed humbuckers.) He said that his normal setup is noticably brighter. He detailed how, in the studio, he often has several guitars in different tunings or string gauges, set up for the specific use he wants, but on tour he needs to keep it down to just a few with similar setups.

He was using Marshalls instead of his signature Peavey. I'm fairly sure this was in part because this was an off-night thing — I'm sure everything he played was Sweetwater stock — but that was also his Experience and Chickenfoot gear. Because of the song variation, he generally sets his amp clean and sets his gain via his foot pedals, but with Chickenfoot he used amp gain.

Another comment about the gear being Sweetwater's: at the end, they gave away several Chickenfoot CDs, several signed DVDs (including his new Live in Paris release), a signed Ibanez guitar (not the JSBDG in the picture – they're not crazy) and the pedals. The guy who sat next to me won a signed DVD. Well, he would've, had he not left early and dropped his ticket. Thanks guy, the DVD is incredible.

He played five songs, I think. Maybe six. "Satch Boogie" , "Surfing with the Alien" , "Flying In A Blue Dream" , "Always With Me, Always With You" , and a blues track, at least. He talked about each, detailing how he approached the high-theory compositions and still made them rock songs. 3 of the tracks ("Surfing", "Blue Dream" and "Always With Me") are on Sweetwater's Facebook page and will likely end up on their Youtube page, too. The specific example I can give is that, with "Flying In A Blue Dream", he decided that he'd have play in the Lydian mode over each chord. I know that I'm very reliant on just a few scales and modes, wondering how to use the modes I'm inching toward learning in a practical sense. If there was one thing I needed Joe to say when I walked in, it was that.

Check My Math

This is a pic of St. Vincent's pedalboard from a Knitting Factory show. I see
  1. TU2 tuner
  2. Whammy pedal
  3. Super Octave
  4. Zvex 5-knob pedal (fuzz factory)
  5. Blues Driver
  6. Moogerfooger MIDI MuRF
  7. Moogerfooger Analog delay
  8. Moogerfooger expression pedal (2?)
  9. Dunlop Vol Pedal
Is that about it? I take it that the pedals in back are not part of this signal chain.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Songquest 2010: Rock Box

1985. I'm sitting in a classroom in Eastern Wayne High School outside of Goldsboro, NC. I'm talking to the other kids, who, like me, are into Metal. They see the bands whose logos I've tried to draw on the back of my notebook. Metallica. Anthrax. Run DMC.

"Run DMC?"

Be reminded, this was before they did "Walk This Way" with Aerosmith. Rap seemed anti-rock, un-rock.

If you weren't paying attention.

That's Eddie Martinez, a session guy who did the guitar for Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love", among other things. Now, tell me, if you're a kid who wants to grow up to play guitar, who just loves it when the amp goes grrr, you gonna listen to that and say that doesn't rock?

And it's not complex. Eddie goes wild on the track, which I haven't worked out, but the main riff is
E -----------------|------------
B -----------------|------------
G -----------------|------------
D -----------------|------------
A -----------------|------------
E -1----3--3----5--|--5-7-9-5---
The part on the right being A, B and C, we can proceed with this being an A minor, so I'd guess that the left part can be brought to F G and Am, but certainly root-fifth chords are safe and likely more correct to the track.

Yeah, that's slight, but I think it's important to mention this track and it's influence on me, and it's better to hit every month with a slight post than miss one.

Insiders, Ghost On The Beach

I saw this video, once on MTV sometime in 1986 or 1987. I remembered I liked the sound of the song, and I remembered the chorus, which was the song and album title. I love the Internet!