Showing posts from July, 2016

Gear Friday: Gear when its not in use

When you get a ton of gear, keeping it stored can present its own challenge. I have my entire basement dedicated to equipment, other than the laundry room (which has a few odds and ends in it yet) and my workshop (which holds unfinished instruments.)

This is where I have my amps, cabinets and instruments that I'm currently playing. I've been playing a lot of bass lately, but it's about to be rotated back to guitar.

This view allows you to see all the wall hanging guitars along that side of the basement.

The triggered drums, some odds and ends cymbal wise, connectors and misc hardware on the shelves, and a couple of acoustic guitars. I might also point out the contractor lighting for when I do videos. Good light is always important for that.

This furniture currently holds all of the wireless microphones I need to check out. I think there were 8 complete units for me to look at, but I don't really remember.

They're mostly these rackmount lav units, but with replacea…

My basic DAW

Since I've been doing some recording, I thought it was time to show off my DAW setup.

I have a Dell laptop as the heart of the system. It's got a hybrid drive (part solid state, part "traditional" magnetic drive) that seems to keep up quite well with most of what I do. For software, I typically use Reaper. I also have a Behringer headphone amp between the laptop and the mouse for when I have someone over that's doing their part since it works as a nice headphone splitter with individual volume controls.

But the laptop itself doesn't really do all that much when it comes to recording. I have a Presonus Studio Channel in the top rack slot, an Alesis SampleRack for triggered drums, a Tascam US16x08 audio board for 16 channels in at a time, a Behringer UltraVoice vocal pre-amp, a Nady 8 channel mic pre, a power conditioner and my Line 6 Pod Pro.

Most of the time, all I really need is my Tascam to get the recordings sounding pretty good. Couple that with a fantom…

Build Monday : Time for a little shine on El Capitan

Since I was able to get the shield looking decent on El Capitan, this week was time to make it shine. Yes, it was smooth enough to get a little shine, but I wanted it to be that deep gloss type that looks totally "wow".

Got it set up in the garage. Not much of a breeze this day, so it should be a great day for a smooth finish.

If you look close, you can see a bike tire in the reflection. That's the type of gloss I was looking for.

Turning on the light, yes! Smooth, shiny, and wow. That's just what I was looking for. I need to get the sides and back done yet, but it's well on its way to being just what I was looking for on this finish. Once I get that glossed, I'll be ready to set the neck so I can start installing hardware.

Gear Friday: Gelvin Guitars EVH Beast

One of my favorite guitars has no logo on the headstock. Instead, it's an unfinished neck on a body built by Gelvin Guitars with a custom wound pickup, all done to Eddie's original specs. Add in a wild hot pink to fluorescent yellow version of the EVH finish, and it's very eye catching. Black lights make it even more so.

But more important than how it looks (from behind the instrument, anyway) is how it plays. This one, I can gladly report, plays better than any Fender I've ever touched, and almost as well as my best Ibanez guitars without the thin neck. That part always shocks me, since that thin neck is what I've always looked for. Additionally, the pickup is hot yet crisp, so the output level compares to my EMG active guitars while still having the clarity and tone that I really wanted out of it.

As you can see, I'm quite comfortable behind this guitar. I've played it a ton and haven't had a string break. In fact, in the over a year that I've be…

Why am I starting another band?

I've been in plenty of bands, so why am I looking at starting another one? This one is a bit different in a few ways.

1) It's made up of musicians I really like and respect.

2) It's a contemporary / rock praise band, starting out with covers of Skillet, Thousand Foot Crutch and others.

3) The songs we intend to record are old school worship tunes that we're modernizing.

If you really know me, you know my faith is important to me. So it just feels right to do something in His name for once musically outside of just playing in the church. We'll see how this goes, but I'm pretty excited to have musicians pretty much lined up for this already.

Build Monday: El Capitan's namesake

I've been asked why "El Capitan" received that name. Well, it should be quite obvious after today's progress picture.

Yep, it's a Captain America theme on the guitar. I also changed up the pickguard with some plastic paint. Time for the clear coat, a bit of glue to set the neck, and then we can get to some hardware. This one has certainly caught a few eyes already, and I've even had offers to buy it. Sorry, but I'm planning to play this for a while first.

Gear Friday: Ibanez BioArmor

Sometimes, I walk in to a guitar shop and just know something was on the rack for me. This happened one day after a great trip to the casino. As a guitaraholic, cash and guitar shops go together way too well, so when I spotted an Ibanez BioArmor hanging there brand new and with a reasonable pricetag (it was special order and the guy never picked it up or paid for it), I knew I needed it. It played sweet, and the owner of the shop threw on brand new Super Slinks, gave it a quick setup and sent me out the door with a free gig bag thrown in. Of course, on stage all black will never do, so I grabbed my white stencil ink for tennis racquets to give a first layer through the grooves, then used a setting saver for a second layer and more of a color to show up under the lights. End result is below.

For a nice looking guitar, it also plays quite well. I've used it at several shows and would put it right up against my Prestige for feeling, with the Prestige edging it out slightly due to th…

Moving on from guitar kits

I've built a few guitar kits, and have a few more that I'm working on, but I feel it's time to move on and really challenge myself. That's why I'm moving into the world of CNC routers. I grabbed an X-Carve from Inventables, and while the assembly process left a lot to be desired (only instructions are online, for one and being shorted screws and nuts for another) I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

Now for the tricky part - guitar blanks are typically 14" wide, but most thickness planers are 12-1/2" wide until you get into the really expensive models. I'm still looking for solutions to that problem.

Once assembly is finally complete and I have it running, I'll post some pics and maybe even a video. My son is really excited, as he wants to help me build guitars as a career. We'll see how long that lasts.

Build Monday: El Capitan turns blue

After some white primer, El Capitan was ready for some painting.

El Capitan got a blue makeover, as did my portable work bench and my Craftsman screwdriver. I needed some way to hold it without touching any area of the guitar that is supposed to be painted. That's where the screwdriver came in.

After walking around it a few times, the blue was pretty evenly applied.

A nice shine can already be seen along that top edge.

That long edge makes for a lot of blue.

A close-up view shows that the grain still shows through since this is a translucent blue.

Again, the shine is already showing.

The pick guard, sitting about where it'll be located, just for contrast.

Closer view of the bridge and pickup area.

Next up will be giving this guitar its signature, and then on to clear coat.

Gear Friday: Bass Rig

Lately, I've been playing a bit of bass. That required me to dust off the bass rig, so here it is in all its glory.

I use a 4x10 and a 1x15 cabinet from Acoustic for my rig, all powered from a Hartke HA3500 head. I don't normally use the graphic eq, instead using the active eq on my bass. I like to mix the solid state pre about 30 - 40% and the tube pre at about 50% to get a little crunch without too much drive. Turn on the compressor and it's good to go.

One thing that I have had some problems with in the past is the DI out. With my own gear, it's always fine. Playing at venues using Behringer mixers, it always seems to go into the board at too low of a signal. I don't think it's really an issue with the board, but maybe either that I need to turn up the pre's or possibly even just teach people how to properly use the trim control on their board. Either way, I'm planning on changing to a different, lighter amp at some point. I think that will probably…

Good pawn shops for guitar players? Yes, they do exist.

As you've noticed by now, I have a gear addiction. So, where do I go to fuel this addiction? Pawn shops, Lidgett Music (local store), Guitar Center, eBay, Musician's Friend, Sweetwater, Gelvin Guitars, or local Facebook groups. But when I mention pawn shops on some of the guitar player groups I participate in, they generally act like all you'll see is a few pieces of beat up junk and not much selection. Well, I disagree.

First off, this is the wall you see when you first walk in. Plenty of strats, LP's and LP wanna-be's, and some Ibanez guitars. There are also some band instruments available there on the shelves below.

Here's another wall. SG's, semi-hollws (some beauties in there), and a few others.

Next is what the guy working there likes to call "Pointy, stabby things". Mostly explorer and BC Rich styles. I realized just now that I totally missed the selection of even pointier V's that they have, which is usually about 20 or so guitars.


Build Monday: Primer on El Capitan

El Capitan received a little attention since last week. Specifically, it received primer. I decided to try my hand at airbrush paints instead of cans or stains this time around, so what I have is a nice, smooth, rich white color over the top of the wood.

If I were to add some clear coat in a gloss, this would look pretty finished. The air brush really did a nice job.

Gear Friday: Meinl HCS Hi-Hats

I'm always looking for a bargain, so when I came across these Meinl HCS hats and was able to pick them up for next-to-nothing (I think they're normally around $60 new), I jumped on the chance. The Tama hats I was using before were cracked by an over-eager percussionist at some point during a rehearsal, so I needed something that wasn't broken.

While they're brighter than the Ziljian K Custom Darks that Alex used on the first set of videos, he opted to use my Meinl hats on the second round of videos. I think it was mostly for ease (he has his metal out of town with his kit at his band's practice pad), but either way they sounded pretty good for what we were recording. The video below is of him playing with those as part of the kit.

The kit is comprised of some vintage Zildjian cymbals (crash and crash/ride), a CB Percussion crash, and some odds/ends that I'm not even sure what they were (I think they were some more CB Percussion cymbals) stacked for a trashy so…