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Archive for November, 2017

YMMV

Earlier today, I was watching a video demonstration of the Seymour Duncan Mag Mic acoustic guitar pickup. It was a great demo and really showed off how the pickup performs and sounds with a variety of musical styles.

Several people made some negative comments on how they wanted to hear the mic or the humbucker isolated, or others just posted rude comments on the guy’s playing (which is actually quite good). Others commented on how they got lost in the great music and forgot that it was a demo for the pickup. I too got lost in the great music the demonstrator was making and to me at least, that was the whole point of the demo: To show off how the pickup helps you make music.

I get it. Getting an idea of how the independent components function has its uses. But for this video, I think it was more important to show what kind of sound you could get within the context of making music.

But here’s the downside of isolating the components or hearing the raw sound: Your mileage may vary. Think about it. How many times have you purchased gear based on a video or audio demo and it sounds completely different from what you heard online?

Especially with pickups, you’ll never know how it truly sounds until you’ve installed it. And make no mistake: Once you get a pickup – or any gear for that matter – you’re going to have to balance out the EQ to make it fit in your rig.

One guy commented that the video was completely useless. I totally disagree. For me, I wanted to hear certain things; actually one thing in particular: Does the pickup make a “quack.” I certainly couldn’t detect it. And that alone made the video totally useful for me because no matter what style the demonstrator played, there was no quack at all. The thing about acoustic pickups is that you have look for that because – and I don’t care what anyone says about this – pickup quack cannot be EQ’d out.

So the next time you evaluate gear, keep in mind that your mileage will vary. Your gear is most likely completely different from the person demonstrating. So look for other things like dynamics and voicing and attack. Those are things that will translate over to your rig. Also, you have to take a bit of a leap of faith with a lot of gear with respect to voicing. You should ask, “The dynamics are wonderful on this, but it’s voiced a little high, so can I EQ it?” You’ll never know until you get the gear…

Rock on!

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I have this thing about gear and that is that it has to “speak” to me, and it’s probably why I’ve taken so long to get gear the last couple of years. I’ve pretty much found my sound, so I’ve become incredibly discerning. It used to be that if I thought something was cool, I’d just get it. As a result, I ended up with a lot of stuff that I just didn’t use and ended up selling usually for less than I paid just so I could move it.

But the universe works in mysterious ways, and it brought me a 1994 Simon & Patrick Luthier “Pro.” It was a gift from a friend whose uncle passed away 15 years ago, and it had been sitting in storage for all that time. As opposed to giving it away to charity, she asked if I’d like it, and if not, find a home for it. Well, it wasn’t an “either-or” thing for me. I fell in love with the guitar from the moment I first sat down and played it; 15-year-old strings and all!

When I love an instrument, I write music with it or do sound tests. Here’s something I recorded right before writing this article:

This was recorded pretty much raw with no EQ. I laid down the backing track yesterday when no one was home, but this morning, I recorded the solo – there were kids and dogs moving around in the background. I recorded both tracks using a Nady RSM-2 Ribbon Mic. Pretty cheap, but it does a great job. I just have to be careful about proximity as this mic is really prone to proximity effects.

For this next one, I was actually re-working a reggae song I wrote several years ago. My third son heard me laying down the tracks and asked if I could put a hip-hop beat underneath it. He’s an aspiring rapper. So I played around with some beats, laid down a big sub bass line with my trusty Squier “P” bass, and mixed it down. I don’t even know what to call it, but it’s cool

Here’s a new song I wrote last weekend, using just this guitar for all the guitar parts. It’s called “Shine Your Love.”

Funny thing is that I haven’t changed strings on the guitar yet. I know, I know… I’ve just been extremely busy this past week with work. Plus, I’m going to have an LR Baggs Anthem SL pickup system installed in it and have a full setup done on the guitar. I don’t want to put on a new set of strings, only to have them replaced when I get the setup done. So… I’ll live with the strings on it for now.

All in all, every time I pick up this guitar it’s like magic. There’s a great spirit in this guitar and this is something that I will lovingly care for in the years to come!

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