Archive for August, 2008

…to sell off gear.

Yesterday, I sold “Rusty,” my Gibson ES-333. I hadn’t played Rusty much for the last several months, and even though I used him on a recording recently, I just didn’t feel that attached. It was a bit of a sad occasion, but I’m looking forward to replacing him with something else. Besides, testing new models from SAINT Guitars will be absolutely awesome!!!

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If you’re a member of Facebook, I’ve just created a new group called “The Guitar Life” to share experiences of living the guitar life. This is a totally open group, and I like to invite everyone to join and share!

Click here to join!!!

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…that is the question. I recently had the chance to check out the TC Electronic Nova System, Multi-Effects processor, and it has given me pause. Over the years, I’ve been a bit of purist regarding effects, and my response to multi-effects has been, shall we say, tepid at best. My thought is that a ME unit is a compromise. What you get is a decent collection of effects; or in the case of the Roland ME-50, a boatload of effects. But they’re mediocre at best. It doesn’t seem to be so with the Nova System, which has some very nice features. It doesn’t have near the number of effects that other ME boxes have, but what it brings to the table is the high quality you expect from TC Electronic.

This is a very intriguing ME system – but I’m not sure that I’d spend $699 for one. It’s a bit steep, and though I do love the drive on this pedal, I love my Tube Screamer and OCD boxes more. Who knows? I’ll have to play around with it at the shop before I draw any more conclusions. For now, if you’re curious, check out the video from I believe the Winter NAMM show:

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In other words, what does a rock star look like nowadays? In the late 50’s and early 60’s it was clean cut and suits with skinny ties. By the latter part of the 60’s and into the 70’s it was the “hippie” or “mod” look. By the 80’s glam hit the scene and spandex and big hair was de riguer for the day. The 90’s was dirty jeans, dirty hair, and lumberjack shirts. Ugh!

So what’s the style nowadays?

BTW, can’t really count metal in this because that has had a fairly consistent style all these years. Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing, either.

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Where’s IG?

IG must be busy, because he hasn’t posted something since 8/15… Who’s IG? Why none other than Ignacio Gonzales: Guitarist, guitar writer, philosopher and teacher, and generally great guy.


Funny how you get the in habit of visiting certain sites. IGBLOG has been a regular, daily stop of mine for quite some time, and I have to admit that I miss it when he doesn’t post new material. But, I totally understand how life can get in the way of our passions at times. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though… πŸ™‚

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BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner

BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner

BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
Summary: Basic, no-frills chromatic tuner in a convenient stomp box that can also double as a power source.

Pros: Super-convenient stomp box makes on-stage tuning a breeze. Tuning mode automatically cuts off signal to the rest of your board for relatively “silent” tuning.

Cons: Only has 11 total LED’s, so fine adjustments aren’t possible.

Price: New $99 Street

Features (fr. BOSS site):

  • BOSS world-renowned TU-Series tuner accuracy in a convenient stompbox design
  • Mute/Bypass select for silent tuning with a single stomp
  • 11-point LED indicators and new “stream” meter display tuning discrepancy via speed and direction of LEDs (speed of LED movement gets slower as pitch becomes more accurate)
  • 7-segment LED displays string and note names, easily visible on dark stages
  • Seven easy tuning modes include Chromatic, Guitar Regular, Guitar Flat, Guitar Double Flat, Bass Regular, Bass Flat, Bass Double Flat
  • Tuning mode setting and display style choice stored in memory
  • Adjustable reference pitch from 438 to 445Hz
  • 8-octave tuning range–the widest in its class
  • Footswitchable Tuner Off mode preserves battery life by disabling LEDs

Let’s face it: Tuning is a fact of life when you play any musical instrument. And if you’re like most gigging musicians, you don’t have a guitar tech at your gigs to tune your guitars in between songs. For that, you need a tuner. For years, I used a cheap, hand-held analog tuner with a sweep meter for tuning. It was very accurate and did the job well, but as I started to gig more and more, having to turn the volume down on my amp to tune soon became irritating.

So I decided to get a stomp box tuner, and went down to Guitar Center and bought the TU-2. Now I will be the first to admit that I didn’t do much research before buying the TU-2. I’d recently read an interview with Joe Satriani and he had a TU-2. I figured if something’s good enough for Satch then it’s definitely good enough for me. It was a safe bet then, and it’s a safe bet now. The TU-2 is solid performer that’s fairly accurate, though no LED-based tuner could even possibly suss the accuracy of a strobe or analog tuner. But for what it does, I’m pretty satisfied with it.

Another nice feature about the TU-2 is that it can also act as a power source for up to either other pedals. I power up my board with a Dunlop DC Brick, but once I used up the 6 available 9V ports, I couldn’t add more
pedals without having to get another brick. For one or two pedals, that’s just not a good justification when you’re spending 100-bucks. The TU-2 comes with both a DC-in and a DC-out port. You can use a standard 9V cable to hook up another pedal, but it probably makes more sense to spendΒ  the $12.99 and buy the BOSS PCS-20A power cord, which will route power up to eight pedals. Caveat: The cable runs between connectors are short. BOSS assumes you’ll be using nothing but BOSS pedals, but with tone freaks, that’s rarely the case. But it is a cheap, convenient solution nonetheless.

So what’s my verdict? I wouldn’t have it if I didn’t think it was useful. It’s not in any way, shape, or form something to do cartwheels over, but it’s a solid pedal that gets the job done. At Harmony Central, when you write a review, they ask you what you’d do if it the gear you’re reviewing gets broken or lost. Were I to review this pedal there and answer that question, I’d probably take a serious look at the Korg stomp box tuner that sports more LED’s and is a bit more accurate than the TU-2. The only thing that would probably keep me from switching is the ability of the TU-2 to provide power to other pedals.

Rock on!!!

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Had another song idea, but thought I’d share the main riff as a Jam Track. It’s a slow ballad in A. I actually had a lot of fun with this, working between an A major scale and a F#m pentatonic then adding some diatonic runs as well. With this tempo (mm=84), you can play your solo fast or slow. It’s about 5 1/2 minutes long. Have fun!

Equipment: PRS SE Soapbar II, plugged into Fender Champ 600 amp. I used a Nady RSM-200 ribbon mic set about 8 inches away from the center of the speaker. It’s amazing how big the sound is! πŸ™‚

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Roland Cube 60 Amplifier

Roland Cube 60 Amplifier

Roland Cube 60 Amplifier
Summary: Built like a tank, great-sounding and versatile, the Roland Cube 60 is at home on the road and in the studio.

Pros: Built-in Roland COSM modeling technology to mimic 9 British, Vintage and Modern amps, plus an added Acoustic mode. The Cube 60 also sports Recording Out, Line Out and Speaker Outs, plus a Tuner Out that can feed a Tuner independent from Volume control. Very loud for a small amp!

Cons: Reverb sounds hollow and a muddy at higher settings, with a definite loss of clarity.

Price: New $300-$359 Street ($250-$275 used)

When I bought my Cube 60 a three years ago, I wasn’t even looking for an amp. At the time, I was using a Line 6 Flextone III that served my purposes beautifully. But when you’re a gear freak and you just happen to have a bit of coin to spend well, some things just can’t be passed up.

Such was the case when I was perusing my favorite local gear store. I sauntered into the cramped guitar area, and saw this tiny black cube amp sitting against the wall. Intrigued, I picked it up by its handle and marveled at not only its diminutive size, but also its light weight (it weighs only 25 lbs.). Then Jordan, the guitar guy walked up and said, “I just got me one of these. It sounds awesome, and you can use it anywhere.” Normally, when I hear stuff like this coming from a salesperson’s mouth, I just nod, smile and say, “Cool.” But I’ve known Jordan for awhile, and I’ve learned to trust him. After all, he’s a gigging guitarist who knows his gear. When I hear him even slightly rave about something, I know it has got to be something cool (not that I can always afford the stuff he says is cool, but that’s another story).

So instead of my usual reaction, I silently pulled a Strat down from one of the hangers while Jordan went to fetch a cord. Big mistake! πŸ™‚ It took me no longer than 10 minutes to know that I had to have this amp. Plus it was on sale for the Christmas season, so I got it for $50 less than normal retail!

I won’t go into the technical details of this amp because you can google for them. Let me just say this: This amp kicks ass! While I use my Fender Hot Rod for my electrics on stage, I use this with my acoustic, and it’s a dream. There’s something about the Acoustic channel on this amp that makes my Ovation sound like a Martin dreadnought! It’s that sweet

But in the studio, I use this amp a lot for recording backing rhythm parts. Even though it’s a modeling amp, which I normally don’t really get too wild about, this amp produces really nice tones in all of its amp modeling settings. And with its recording out jack, which shuts off the speaker, I can safely record deep into the wee hours of the morn without worrying about waking the neighbors. Surprisingly enough, it sounds great going direct into my DAW. In fact, I recorded this song using nothing but my Roland Cube 60. Of course, there’s nothing like the sound that a cranked tube amp produces, but late in the night, when you’ve got the inspiration, having the convenience of an amp that sounds great going direct is very nice!

Finally, did I say this amp is LOUD? You’d never expect the kind of volume that this amp is able to produce. At home, I rarely take the amp above 9am on both the Gain and Volume knobs. Any louder, and I’d start getting calls from the neighbors and complaints from my wife! πŸ™‚ One of my close friends uses this amp for gigging, and he loves its versatility. Mind you, this is a guy who has tons of gear. His amps include a Marshall JCM half stack, and a gorgeous ’71 Fender Twin. But he likes to gig with the Cube because it’s so versatile AND it’s incredibly light! Weight matters when you’re hauling gear.

This amp is definitely worth a look.

Rock on!

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As you can see, I added a linked graphic to my right-hand pane that goes to an article I wrote about the SAINT Guitar Company. This is a mini-site that I’m creating to help get the word out about SAINT Guitars (and no, I’m not being compensated for this).

In any case, I know there are a couple of you who have either a Messenger or Benchmark, and I was wondering if you had any sound bites of either of these guitars you’d like to send me, so I can put them up on the mini-site. I’ll also forward them to Adam, so he can put them on his own site.

Any takers?

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Be Healthy; Play Guitar

A few months ago, I wrote an entry about how I was developing intermittent numbness in my hands, and imagining what it would be like to not be able to play guitar (I was already starting to have trouble). For those of you who happened to read the post, I will admit this: I WAS SCARED SHITLESS!!! But it scared me enough to turn my life around, so I thought I’d give an update about the changes I’ve made in my life:

  1. I cut down on the portions I eat at each meal. In fact, I started eating breakfast, so I wouldn’t have a voracious appetite at lunch; speaking of which, I’m still too lazy to bring lunch every day, so I eat out a lot at lunch, but I order far less now, and order things that have either a salad or are vegetarian. No fried foods, and very little red meat (that was a real tough one). In other words, I’m really eating healthy now.
  2. Went to see my cardiologist who just flat out said, “Your heart is fine, and the numbness you feel and your shortness of breath are because you’re out of shape and overweight. But you don’t have heart disease, so it’s your hands to correct your situation.” So I got back on my heart med (I have a genetic defect – minor problem), and cholesterol med. I’ve also been taking daily doses of fish oil pills.
  3. I’m now working out! I am the proud owner a gym-quality exercise bike that a friend gave to me, and I ride it least once a day 6 days a week, and twice a day 3 times a week. I’m also playing soccer once a week with my mates at work.

The net is that I’m feeling better than I have in 10 years. I’m not dozing off in the middle of the day due to inactivity, and I now have this constant overall feeling of well-being.

What does this have to do with my guitar playing? Well, I seem to have found my creative spark again, and am writing music. The numbness episodes are A LOT less frequent, and when I get them, it’s a signal for me to get on the bike or take a walk and be active to get my blood flowing.

I have to tell you that I’m totally jazzed! I feel as if I have a new lease on life, and maybe it’s me, but there seems to be a difference in how I’m approaching my music now. It took a scare to kick me in the ass, but I get it now.

Okay… time to hit the exercise bike and do my situps!

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