Friday, September 30, 2005

NavFest 2006

Martin guitar fans are nuts! For the past five years they have had a yearly gathering in Pennsylvania (conveniently close to the Martin Guitar Co. factory.) NavFast is actually a fun event, with about 150 people turning up. I have been twice (I went this year and have been meaning to write up my trip report) and they just yesterday announced the dates for next years events.

Before the day was out, over 30 reservations had been made at the hotel; not bad given that there's only a block of 90 rooms is reserved.

I nearly missed out on a room at the Inn for NavFast 2005 because I waited so long before deciding I was going, so this morning I decided to call and make a reservation; even though I'm not certain that I'll go! I guess I just got caught up in the excitement.

When I called the hotel and said I wanted to make a reservation for Aug 4th the person said 'Are you with the Martin group?' right off the bat; I guess they had had a lot of calls about it! So now I'm counting the days; 309 according to the website!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Guitar Neck Tension

On the UMGF forum someone posted a question about hanging a guitar on the wall, and in discussing the pros and cons, someone posted: The weight of the guitar helps counteract the 160+ pounds of tension that the strings are exerting 24/7 which just doesn't make any sense to me. So my office mate Dave and I immediately set to work trying to figure it out with no knowledge or experience to assist us.

When I say 'figure it out' I mean; we speculated wildly.

We decided that we didn't think gravity would have much effect at all. But we're not sure. This is my reasoning (and I'm probably wrong):

Since we're not sure how the body of the guitar works in relation to the strings and neck exactly, I'd start with two other examples;

1) if you had a wire, and a weight on it, clearly gravity has a big effect on the wire when the weight is being pulled down.

2) A piece of wood with two nails at each end and a wire wrapped between them. Hanging that vertically would not seem to have much effect on the wire or the wood. (though I'm sure it has some, I'm just guessing it's so tiny you can barely measure it.)

A guitar would seem to fall in between these two, but I suspect much more towards example 2, than example 1.

In neither case can I imagine the effect of gravity releiving the tension....but as someone else just pointed out; I'm not a physics major!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Richard Thompson

From his website:

What hardware & software & mikes have you been using to record Front Parlour Ballads?

It was recorded on my Apple G4 laptop, using Digital Performer software. I used two Neumann KM184 condenser mics on the guitar as a stereo pair, and a Superlux CM-H8A on vocals. The Neumanns were used for most of the other instruments. The vocals went through a Universal Audio LA-610 Preamp/Compresser/Limiter.

Wow! The Neumann KM184 cost $729.99 each...but the Superlux CM-H8A is just $89!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

iTunes, iPod, and 'value pricing'

MTV news writes about Steve Jobs and the record companies bickering over song pricing (Steve wants to keep the 99cent price, and the record companies want variable pricing):
The source said the comment by Jobs was likely aimed at provoking a reaction from the music industry, which is generally in favor of variable pricing, i.e., higher prices for hot, current artists and lower ones for less popular or older material.
"Music is art; it's not a commodity," the source said. "Things that are more relevant command more money. The idea of saying it should all be 99 cents is absurd. Variable pricing is the norm in the music business and every business -- even the iPod business."

Variable pricing is the norm in the music business? It is? Maybe for concert prices, but I have never thought that CDs were priced that differently based on popularity. That's changed a little over time with new CD's being more than back catalog, but event here the difference seems minor; the location you buy the disc at can have as much effect on the price as anything.

I'm sorry; in my mind I have always thought that CDs cost around $11-$15, but it depended on where you bought them, not that the U2 album cost more than the new Ah-ha album because U2 is more popular.

Am I missing something? Have things changed in the last couple of years and I didn't notice?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nothing For Sale

In the buy and sell section of a guitar forum someone posted: I have nothing for sale or trade. I currently like everything I own and I'm not offering anything. Very satisfied condition. Original cases also not available. Don't contact...

To which others responded:
Is this guitar still not for sale? Please don't contact me.
I wish you the best for your no sale or trade I have bought nothing from this member previously and have been greatly pleased with the results.
I've got plenty of nothing... not for sale but I might consider trades Let me know if you need my address so you can not ship what I've not bought.

and finally:
I think I'm not going to bid on this, but first I am going to have a cup of coffee without cream - nope, it wil have to be without milk because we have no cream....

Lennon Broadway Show Ends Run

After just six weeks a Broadway show about John Lennon's life will close this weekend. Various reports claimed that a) it focused too much on his later life with Yoko, and b) it was confusing because there were 9 (9!) people playing Lennon.

I heard an interview with one of the actors in the show a couple of months ago. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember the interviewer noting that there were several people playing Lennon throughout the show, and also asking how involved Yoko was, and whether she had changed things or interfered. He said that she didn't, though she was definitely involved.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Neil Young, Praire Wind

Scott Simon of NPR interviewed Neil Young on NPR's Weekend Edition. They talk about his recent health issues and the recording of the new album.

He also mentioned the D-28 he owns that used to belong to Hank Williams and speaks about how he thinks it's important to play it versus putting it in a museum.
Young wrote some of the songs on Prairie Wind in 15 or 20 minutes, he tells Scott Simon. "It doesn't take me very long when I get started. I just try to remain open." The album is released Sept. 27; a concert film directed by Jonathan Demme is also forthcoming.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FlashMic DRM85

HHB has announced the FlashMic DRM85, a Sennheiser omni-directional condenser microphone with 1GB of flash recording memory. The mic has a small LCD panel, control buttons, and a USB connector at the bottom. It's supposed to be available in January (the image looks to me like it might be 3D rendered; but maybe I am too suspicious!) No price mentioned either, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was at least $200-$300.

I recently bought the Samson C01U Condenser Microphone with USB Output, which is a mic with a USB connector on the bottom, but you have to have it connected to your computer to record.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Martin D-28 Special "Walk the Line" Limited Edition

From a Martin Company press release:

To commemorate the Wind-up Records release of the original cast recording for “Walk The Line” chronicling Johnny Cash's life, Martin has created a limited production run of the Martin D-28 Special "Walk the Line - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" Limited Edition. The guitar is a black D-28, labeled inside with the following:

"To commemorate the release of Walk the Line - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. In memory of Johnny Cash 1932-2003".

The production run has been limited to only 12 units, and number 1 is to be presented to Joaquin Phoenix (the actor playing Cash in the film). The remaining 11 guitars will be given away through a variety of exclusive contests.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Andy Griffith

Interesting article about Andy Griffith presenting his papers to the University of North Carolina.

Marting Guitar last year produced an Andy Griffith signature edition and there are pictures of him playing it at the above link too.

Mistaken iTunes Purchase

Damn! The other day I had the TV on and in the background I heard a song playing at the end of a news show about the Hurricane, and they played a song that I'd heard before, but didn't really know who it was.

I guessed that it was Sheryl Crow, and a quick search revealed that it was her song Safe and Sound, from the album C'Mon C'Mon.

I decided to purchase the song through iTunes, and I was in a hurry, so I put it on the iPod, and off I went. It was only in the car, when I turned it on, that I realized I'd purchased the song C'Mon C'mon by mistake (it's the song ahead of Safe and Sound), and I'm not sure if I got messed up in the heat of the moment by the title, or whether it was because I had trouble entering the password correctly and had to reselect the song after resetting the password and just miss-clicked.

Either way, I ended up buying a song I didn't want :( Oh well. I guess I'll have to pay more attention

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Wednesday late evening, walking down Boylston with my friend April, we encountered a guy playing guitar on the street. It's not uncommon to see buskers in Harvard Square and other places, but this is the first time I have every seen someone playing on Boylston Street.

He had his speakers up on the top of the cab of a truck (I'm guessing it was his) which was another first. And he was playing in a weird way - okay, an unusual way; he was fretting using his left hand over the top of the neck (most people usually play with their hand coming up underneath the neck)

I'm guessing he was playing in an open tuning, and he was mostly just barring the strings with one finger.

I said to my friend April that it was 'weird' and then ended up in a short discussion on the 'rights' and 'wrongs' of how you play. The reality is there is no right or wrong way; if it sounds good, who cares how you make the noise?

And he sounded pretty good; at least for that song. If he played everything the same way it might get a bit repetitive fairly quickly, but we didn't hang around to hear the rest of his set...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Curse You Steve Jobs!

Apple went and did it again; they have announced another cool new gadget that I want...

Well actually, it's not really a 'new' gadget; it's the iPod Nano, which is a smaller, thinner, sexier, more likely to go through the wash in your pants, version of the iPod.

I already have a regular iPod, and an iPod Shuffle which I bought because I thought it would be more robust than the regular iPod; particularly at the gym where I'd already dropped the iPod a couple of times. The Shuffle has proved to be great for that purpose; it has very little mass and no moving parts. Also, I just hang it around my neck using the lanyard. Probably looks kind of dorky, but it never gets in the way, dropped, or forgotten as I walk away.

The iPond Nano is a cross between the Shuffle and the regular iPod. It's smaller, thinner and flash-based like the Shuffle, but it's shaped more like the regular iPod and has a color screen and a click-wheel controller. In most respects it is more like the full-size iPod.

The Nano is limited to 2GB and 4GB (500-1000 songs) and costs $199 and $249 respectively. I think it's pretty neat, and I'm torn since I already have a Shuffle.

Perhaps I'll give the Shuffle to my daughter.

iTunes Phone

Not unexpected, but Motorola and Apple also announced the Motorola ROKR. It's an iTunes enabled phone.

Unfortunately it's only available through Cingular and I just signed up for a two year Sprint plan *sigh*.

Also, the phone is limited to 100 songs (allegedly Apple was concerned that the phone would take sales away from the iPod.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

MP3 Players Cause Hearing Loss?

Well no, but maybe the headphones they are often shipped with can contribute to hearing loss according to a study published last year in the journal Ear and Hearing by Dr. Brian Fligor of Harvard Medical School. A short piece in the New York Times covers this.

It seems that the in-ear headphones are the worst offenders.

I'm not sure this is exactly news. And the word has gone out about headphone use; my daughter has told me several times that 'if you can hear the music from someone's headphones, then they have it too loud.'

Glad I have my Sony MDR-7506's, though they don't look that cool at the gym...

Monday, September 05, 2005

The British Are Coming!

HMV and Virgin have both rolled out online music services in Britain. They are clearly gunning for Apple:
'"How many customers know that in buying an iPod, they're effectively locking oneself into a walled garden?" said John Taylor, HMV's director of e-commerce.'

It seems that they are both offering a purchase option, as well as a subscription service where for about $30 per month you can download as much as you like, though songs are only useable while you continue to pay the subscription fee.

Bob Dylan - No Direction Home

David (my jam mate) is a big Dylan fan, and is looking forward to the upcoming Martin Scorsese biography No Direction Home. It gets released at the end of this month, and will be played on PBS (and BBC!) and released straight to DVD.

Oh! I see the DVD is released September 20, and goes on TV on the 26-27.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fats Domino

11:49am Just heard on the radio that Fats Domino is missing after saying he was going to ride out the storm.

KSAT: Fats Domino Missing In New Orleans Floods

Fats Domino was plucked from the flooded city by a helicopter late Thursday. He was reported to be in good condition.

Walk The Line

First there was Ray, and now Johnny Cash gets the big movie treatment in Walk The Line starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Man In Black. You can see a trailer at the link above. It's due in theaters November 18.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of biographical dramas; often they are changed drastically from reality, leaving you unsure whether you're watching a biography or fiction. It's like the difference between News and Entertainment. So I'm not sure I want to see this.

But hey, they have some nice graphics on the website, and there should be a nice soundtrack...