Showing posts from May, 2016

Yes, I do really play on stage

Since I got asked, I guess I'll answer. Yes, I do play on stage. I'm currently in 3 bands, although 2 are still rehearsing material so we can start playing out. Here are a few pics from my last gig outside of church.

I'm not sure why I was eating a pick, but apparently this song was fingerpicking good.

Here's the full band during setup. I think the singer was talking to the guitar player and the drummer was getting his earplugs in, so it's a strange setting. It was a show that I filled in for Bad DC when their bass player was out of town and they were asked to open for Romantic Rebel. That was a fun show for sure, and the rebels certainly rocked the headlining slot.

This pic shows off my custom build. I'll make sure to talk about that guitar on a future post.

Here, I'm playing with an Ibanez that I customized.

What? I'm smiling? Must be a mistake.

I look like a zombie in that pic. Strange lighting effects.

Another Ibanez that I'll have to talk about…

Gear Friday: Daisy Rock "Stardust Elite" Guitar

Every now and then, a finish on a guitar catches my eye and I have to have it. That happened one day when I was at Sol's in Omaha (local pawn shop that I might talk about in a future post), and I just had to have the guitar because of the way it looked. I didn't even care that it was a Daisy Rock brand... it played decent and looked awesome.

As you can see, it's sort of a gold-yellow pearloid and a pinkish-purple outline. They call it a violet burst, but I've never really thought that was quite accurate. In any case, after a little tweak on the track bar - I mean truss rod (the Nascar fan in me strikes again), this plays nearly as well as many of my higher end guitars.

From Musician's Friend writeup:
...with a pair of high output humbucking pickups and mahogany body. Master volume control and master tone-tap, a push-pull tone control for coil-splitting the humbuckers into single-coil pickups, adding tonal versatility. The mahogany body with a gorgeous burst finish …

Pro Rig Comparison

Ever seen a garage drummer's set compared to a touring drummer's set? You know, the kid with 17,000 drums and cymbals so he can look like he's drumming for Rush vs the guy with a 4 piece kit, a crash, a ride and a hi-hat? That's what I'm talking about here.

Last week, I posted a run-down of my pedalboard. I've been wanting to scale back a bit, so when I saw one of my favorite bands last weekend, I paid close attention to what the guitarist was using. Here's the pedalboard he had.

You'll notice that it's a lot fewer pedals than my board. He had his own guitar tech at the venue, but didn't use all that many pedals. Talking to him afterwards, he felt like that was still too much to be practical most of the time. He wanted to scale back even further but wasn't sure which pedal(s) to drop.

Now, before you go too crazy saying he must have had a lot built in to his amp head or some rackmount gear off stage, here is the rest of his setup.

Orange doe…

Closer views of my guitar kit finish

I had a couple of friends ask for better views of the guitar I'm building. So, I'll be happy to oblige.

As you can see, the spalted maple on this RK kit really stands out nicely with a bit of stain.
The sides have a nice ebony stain that really stands out against the wood tone of the front.
Using some Minwax Polycrylic, I was able to get a nice shine. It almost appears wet.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out. I think I'm finally ready to set the neck and continue assembly.

Gear Friday : Steinberger Spirit

I remember seeing the Steinbergers in the 80's and thinking they looked either really dumb or really awesome. I couldn't ever figure it out. So, when I got ill and had lung surgery, I needed something lighter weight to get back into playing. Forums suggested either an SG or a Steinberger, so naturally I got both.

This post isn't about the SG. I'll save that for another day. This one is about the Steinberger.

I let this particular guitar make its home at my office most of the time. The headless design and small body makes it easy to put away when we have guests showing up, but it's still plenty of guitar for learning some tunes on or relaxing when things in app or web development aren't working.

So, a few questions I get asked about it.

Is it weird playing a guitar without a headstock? Yes. It took me about 15 minutes to get adjusted to that "0" fret. I kept hearing everything sound awful and realized I was off by one fret because I wasn't taking t…

New band, new songs, new outlook

So I'm trying to learn a bit of country. Yes, that's the one thing I never thought I'd learn, but this new band is just good enough at it without making it overly twangy that I can tolerate it. That said, only a few of the songs are country. Most are danceable rock... and anything from easy listening (almost jazz) to hard rock.

This brings on some new challenges.

The first is some new chords to learn. Lots of use of my thumb, and that was a new experience.

Second, I need to harmonize some of these songs differently than the hard rock and metal I'd been used to playing.

Third, I'm going to learn some saxophone parts on guitar. Yeah, that's much different. Nobody plays guitar riffs on a sax when they're playing solos, so weird progressions that I'll work on learning.

Anyway, that's my fun for the week. Saxophone and country. What are you working on?

Pedalboard overview

My pedalboard catches a lot of attention when I play out. Here's how it's currently laid out.

As you might be able to tell, I use a pedaltrain pro. I like the lightweight aluminum frame, and the included carry bag wasn't bad at all. Power comes in on a single power strip which powers 3 adapters.

The center plug powers my main power supply which is mounted underneath. This powers everything except the two EHX boxes on the left.

Signal comes in through the wireless receiver on the top right, goes to my MXR noise clamp, into the first volume pedal which sends it on to the angelic choir, EXH C9 and EXH Key9. That all goes out to my keyboard send, usually a small amp with a pretty minimal configuration.

The trick part comes from the volume pedal, though. It has a tuner out that I send to the AIC wah and then to my guitar head. The head is controlled by the 4 button footswitch on the lower left, and then the effects loop sends signal back to the volume pedal and the clean boost.

Gear Friday : My Least Expensive Guitar

I've been asked a few times what's the least I've spent on a guitar. Well, it was one I got at a garage sale and spent a few hours cleaning up and setting action on. Here's the pic.

It's a Lyons LI15 by Washburn, so not exactly the highest quality thing I've ever put my hands on. But, it still plays well after a setup, has a fairly fast neck with reasonable action, large radius neck (much thinner than I expected), and it doesn't even look too bad. However, it's not anything that I'd really play on stage. If anything, I might consider it as something to leave at a practice space.

That said, for $10 original investment, it was worth buying. Heck, looking online at the moment they're selling used for $50 - $80, so if I sell it for $25 to some kid as a starter guitar he's getting a good deal and I'm more than doubling my money.

That said, I'd rather just find a kid that wants to play and hand it to them as an investment in their future a…

Learning Cover Tunes

Cover tunes are how most guitar players initially learn to play guitar. It's an art form all in its own to learn a cover song. The art part comes in arranging it for live or solo play without all of the studio magic that was on the original recording such as layered guitars, strings, keys, hundreds of takes on a part or even 10 of the lead singer doing all the different vocal tracks. Studio magic makes it all sound so full, so keeping that fullness live or solo takes some special talents.

As I'm getting ready for my latest band, the list of songs they threw at me wasn't anything like what I'm used to playing. In fact, some of the songs don't have any guitar at all. Keyboard parts on guitar can sure lead to some awkward finger positions, and I've had to learn to use my thumb for several songs. It's a rather odd feeling initially.

But, beyond strange reaches and using the thumb, I'm finding that the more I use the clean tone and a subtle tube crunch, the …

My Next Guitar Build

I've been working on my next guitar build recently. This one is a PRS inspired guitar with an "Early American" stain on the knurled maple front and an ebony stain on the sides and back. Still have a bit to do before I actually set the neck on the body, but it's starting to look close if I set the pieces together. It's been fun for sure, and two more projects are in the works (one for each of my sons.)

Anyway, here is a progress picture of this guitar. A little clean-up with a couple of spots on the clear coat and it'll be ready for assembly.

Guitar Wing - So Much Potential

It sounded awesome. Roam the stage or dance floor and switch patches with some wireless buttons on my guitar. However, so far that hasn't been the case.

I'm posting this image so I can review it to see what I might be doing wrong.

So to go into what I see as the potential, I'm not really one to stand still while playing guitar. I find cords limiting, so I've always opted for a decent wireless, but still feel bound by my pedalboard. Most of the songs simply need a simple patch change (clean to crunch or rhythm to lead, for example) and I don't need to do much else.

After seeing the guitar wing advertised, waiting for it to mature a bit, and finally spotting it on sale, I took the plunge and bought one. It seemed amazing... just enter in the CC commands to change patches and roam about free of constraint.

However, the design on the buttons for the most part is that of pressure sensitivity, which doesn't really work if you're trying to change to a specific pat…