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Archive for February, 2015

In Blue Handmade Guitar Straps

5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!No, this isn’t a formal review like the ones I normally do, but let’s get the rating out of the way: I’m giving this strap 5 Tone Bones! Check out the strap I got here…

Since GuitarGear.org has gained widespread popularity in the guitar community, I occasionally get contacted to review all sorts of gear and accessories. But because I’m a busy software engineer by trade, I have to turn down most of the review requests, or accept review material if it isn’t too complicated; that is, it won’t take too long to review. But then again, sometimes something catches my eye, piques my curiosity, and I have to see it to believe it.

When I got contacted by the publicist for In Blue Handmade, Inc., who said they make a line of guitar straps and composer journals, I was intrigued. But when I went to their site and saw the absolutely gorgeous, handmade leather straps, I knew I had to take more than a gander at them. So I accepted the review invitation.

The package was waiting for me when I came home from work this evening. I excitedly opened the package, and was immediately greeted with the heady scent of fresh leather. It’s an aroma that – ever since my childhood – spoke of quality and durability, and more importantly, something handmade. I guess that came from all the trips my parents used to take us on throughout the Pacific Northwest, where we’d visit replica frontier towns like Columbia, CA that invariably had a shop of handmade leather goods. That smell has always evoked a sense of security. To me, something made of pure leather was going to last.

When I pulled the strap out of the shipping bag, I just smiled. My wife noticed me admiring the beautiful strap, and said, “Wow! That’s pretty good workmanship! It’s gorgeous!” My silent thought was… NO SHIT!

The leather is thick, so thick, that it’ll take a bit of time to break in. But that’s part of the allure of natural leather. It ain’t soft when it’s new, but when it’s broken in, there’s nothing like the feel of it. I’ll help the process a bit with some neatsfoot oil to help replenish the oils lost in the tanning and drying process. That should help a bit. Imagine that! Using neatsfoot oil on a strap. But it’s the kind of care that you have to take with natural leather goods. They’ll last that much longer!

But, of course the real test was to try it on a guitar, so I attached it to my trust acoustic. DAMN! It felt SO good on my shoulder. The strap is essentially in three pieces. Two skinny pieces act as a belt (yes, there’s a brass buckle, by the way), and the belt runs through a thicker padding piece, with the center “belt loop” adorned with a hand-stamped design of “bat man” (well… that’s what I got).

I know, I know… it’s JUST a strap. But it’s SO F-IN’ cool! Who doesn’t like cool? If you say you don’t, you’re a frickin’ liar. This strap exudes cool. Okay, it ain’t cheap at $75. But hell! We spend thousands on gear and don’t bat an eye. On a relative scale, $75 is a small price to pay to look this good. 🙂

In my best Leo Getz imitation… Okay, okay… You REALLY need to take a look at these straps! Here are some VERY cool things to consider:

  • All straps are hand cut, hand dyed, and printed by hand.
  • There are over 3000 images available to choose from… (I just found this out…)
  • In Blue can do custom text and images as well, as well different dyes (personally, I prefer the natural dye).
  • The design is absolutely cool… 🙂 Had to throw that in…

For more information, check out In Blue Handmade, Inc.’s web site!

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BeatBuddyA few days ago, I received an update from the BeatBuddy mailing list that announced that BeatBuddy had won the prestigious “Best In Show” award at NAMM.

First off, I’m not at all surprised about this. I raved about it before it went to market, and was absolutely blown away by it when I finally received one.

And since I’ve had the BeatBuddy, it has been an absolute game-changer for me. Funny, I actually intended to use it live, but haven’t had enough time to practice with it and write down the settings I’d use for various songs that I perform in my solo gigs. Right now it’s the “cold season” at the restaurant I perform at weekly, so I’m seated behind a piano, which makes access to my pedals a bit difficult. But once I’m playing on the patio, I’ll be using the BeatBuddy fo’ sho’!

But just because I’m not gigging with it, doesn’t mean I’m not using it. I’m not even recording much these days, but I still get song ideas, and the BeatBuddy has been an invaluable tool to help me visualize and realize a song. And for just tooling around and practicing, you couldn’t ask for a better way to play to a beat when you don’t have a drummer around.

I’m so excited for the Singular Sound guys who’ve made this thing possible. It’s an incredible tool that has brought so much value to my songwriting process.

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