Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Vance Gilbert - A Change Is Going To Come

Vance Gilbert turned up at Susan Werner's show at Club Passim on May 13 and performed a couple of songs impromptu. This is the second, A Change Is Going To Come.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Though the weather reports called for showers in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon, it was actually a pretty nice day on Saturday and thousands turned up for EarthFest. I arrived in the middle of the concert, and it was quite a struggle to move through the heaving throngs!

I ended up watching most of The Fray from the back of the field (near the Arthur Fiedler bridge) and the sound was nothing if not pathetic. Way too much bass and you couldn't understand half of what was being sung. They did a cover of Elanor Rigby which was up tempo (I guess we're happy about lonely people these days) and I tried recording it but the video and audio pretty much suck.

When The Fray went off stage there was much milling about, and I milled with the best of them and managed to get up pretty close to the stage. I might have gotten further if I was really adventurous, but the crowd got kind of packed in the last 20 yards!

Being so much close, the sound was a bit better for James Blunt, but still not amazing; I think they needed bigger speakers! A few spits of rain never turned into anything more (I got more wet from water being sprayed around by the audience!) and he put on a pretty good set. I taped a couple of songs and will try putting them up shortly.

The closing act was Los Lonely Boys but I didn't stay, as a couple of hours of standing around in a crowd is about my limit ;)

:-( This clip is really bad. I tried to add a bit of visual fun by using an Aged Film filter. The actual clip works pretty well that way, but when loaded onto YouTube and heavily compressed, most of the subtleties are gone.

UMGE Weekly Summary #3

I'm still doing the UMGF Weekly Summary, but it's gotten so long that I feel it really bogs down this blog, so I've created a separate blog just to archive those posting: The latest summary can be found at the UMGF Weekly Summary blog.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tone Woods

The subject of acoustic tone is rather subjective, but here's luthier Dana Bourgeois' take on the different tone woods used in acoustic guitar construction.
Differences between woods can be as mysterious and complex as differences between people. Even within a species, no two pieces of wood are exactly alike. Environmental conditions, genetics, the age of the tree, annular growth patterns, grain orientation, curing conditions, and so on all have an effect on the tonal properties of a piece of wood. In addition, tonewoods respond differently in the hands of different makers. They can also take on different characteristics when used in different models of guitars-even those built by the same maker. And whether a particular wood sounds good or bad depends partially upon who’s doing the listening. So any attempt to sort out distinctions between tonewoods can only be offered from a relatively subjective point of view....

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Merrie Amsterburg

Merrie Amsterburg played Club Passim earlier this month. The show included this slightly rockish version of Clementine that I feel in love with.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Another Guitar Center Sale

Was it only back in March that Guitar Center had their big 3-day sale event? And now they are having their 'biggest sale of the year' Memorial Day sale event.

Someone hold me back!

Guitar Center sales can sometimes have a thing or two that's worth getting. I got a free t-shirt at one.

Springsteen Chords

Chords to nearly all Springsteen albums can be found at Springsteen Chords.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #2

This weeks theme is 'connected themes.' It's fascinating how sometimes several different threads can end up being interconnected:

Todd Stuart Phillips started a thread on Martin's Environmental Policies and how it pertains to wood.

"Martin's policy regarding select hardwoods is a direct result of C.F. Martin's serious commitment to environmental concerns. Before instituting the modern pricing and availability policies on Brazilian rosewood CFM4 went to no fewer than a dozen big time wood dealers around the world and could not find one who was able to produce truly verifiable (unforged) documents proving their Brazilian rosewood was indeed CITES certified [...]

CFM4 has been just as adamant that Martin only buy "genuine" mahogany from sources that demonstrate ecologically friendly growing and harvesting practices, typically growers in Peru who cultivate wood, not just cut down the rainforest."

Note that C.F. Martin has a pamphlet titled "Responsible Guitar Building in the 21st Century" that should be available at your local dealer.

Others pointed out that, because of the quantity of wood Martin uses, Martin is impacted more than smaller luthiers by limited availability. And just because other builders are still using Mahogany doesn't mean they are doing anything wrong (I'd agree with that; Martin is still using Mahogany; they are just using less of it.)

Meanwhile, HD284ME asked if, given a choice between Mahogany with wings or Spanish cedar, which would readers choose:
4 voted for Spanish Cedar, 3 voted for wings, and 7 voted for either, saying that they'd buy based on sound rather than either choice.

A question about how to tell if you have a Spanish Cedar or a Mahogany neck rapidly devolved into a discussion of the comparative bending strength of Mahogany vs. Spanish Cedar:

Data from www.exotichardwoods-southamerica.com

Bending strength 11514 psi

Bending strength 8545 psi

While it probably doesn't make any difference to the functionality of the guitar neck ("If the forces acting against a structural member are a small fraction of the strength of that member then the relative strengths of that material vs. another material are essentially meaningless"), it was argued that the Spanish Cedar neck might be "more likely to suffer accidental damage if a guitar is dropped or something similar happens."

One writer noted that Spanish cedar has a weaker fiber structure than mahogany and screws will strip in it much easier because of that fact. Jefe46 reported that "I have some neck blanks which I use only for classical and flamenco. It is lighter in weight, slightly lighter in color. But unlike mahogany you can drive your thumbnail into it as far as you can push."

The discussion then turned into one about tone; will cedar - being lighter - produce a slightly brighter tone? But there was no definitive answer to that question (see more below!)

According to CFMWoodbuyer on a thread that popped up about three months ago, the only models that Martin had switched to Spanish Cedar in mid 2005 were the Standard 18's and 35's. They have been using Mahogany with wings since around 2000.

matthewrust: You can usually tell the difference between SC and Mahogany by the grain texture and the color.
Spanish Cedar

But if you can't figure out what you have, a call to Martin Customer Service may answer the question. A guitar can be looked up by serial number (though if it's a recently produced model, they may not yet have the data.)

The pictures above then raised the question; what's the triangle on the back of the neck?

Martin used to have a joint between the headstock and the neck, and the diamond volute was used to strengthen the joint. They continue to include the volute on the 28 series and most of the guitars in the 40 Series (40, 41, 42, 45), though it's now only for decoration.

OM35 Nut received a guitar with cracks, and the dealer said that since he'd signed for it there was nothing that could be done. No one liked the sound of that, noting that (at least with UPS and Fed Ex) signing does not preclude opening a claim. UPS has a 30-day claim period.

Instead, you should open a claim ASAP, they'll either come and look at the guitar or arrange to pick it up for inspection. The shipper may have to initiate the claim. If you paid by credit card, have the charge disputed. Save all the packing material and the shipping carton as they will probably want to see that too.

Flurkin noted that the finish on the neck of his OM-42 has developed some rough spots and he couldn't figure out why..."I never ever play my guitars with any lotion or anything like that on my hands"...

I have to wonder if it's a build up of dirt and sweat from your hands,. But if it won't come off with a damp cloth, then clean the area with naphtha (Zippo lighter fluid).

In response to a request for recommendations on places to buy online, Maurys Music, My Favorite Guitars, Elderly Instruments got multiple recommendations, while the following got at least two: Wildwood guitars, First Quality Music in Louisville, Cotton Music, Trinity Guitars.

Buffalo Bros Guitars out in Carlsbad, CA is interesting because they offer a "100% upgrade policy" i.e., if you buy a guitar from them, you can return it at any point in the future for 100% of purchase price towards an upgrade. Note that they limit 100% upgrades to one (1) instrument per year (365 days after your last 100% trade), per person.


What's a D62 you ask? The D62 LE's were introduced in 1986 and only 48 were made. They have an ebony fingerboard and maple back and sides and a 1 7/8" neck.

The 2-17 is a small guitar with a scale length of 24-3/8" inches and a nut width of 1-3/4" the 2-17 is easy to play though not great for strumming

The small Martins aren't nearly as desirable as the larger ones (I've seen them listing for up to $1,200), but reportedly they can sound really nice.

For those that see those eBay ads with "this guitar has not been registered" here's a word from Martin:

"This warranty is valid only if the instrument is purchased from an authorized C.F. Martin dealer located in the United States or Canada...so long as you can show in a manner acceptable to us that you are the original owner, that the instrument was purchased from an authorized C.F. Martin dealer within the United States or Canada."

So even if the registration papers are in the case, if you aren't buying from a dealer, then Martin isn't bound to honor the warranty.

Martin Production Years

I loved this post!

USNRet93: Boy do I feel stupid. Been playing my 00015S now for about three months. When I got it the pickguard showed some pick scratches.
Yesterday as I was doing some finger picking and a little strumming, I was thinking how the pickguard was feeling a little rough and then I said to myself, I said "Self, why don't you use the Maguires to buff it out?" So I thought that was a good idea and tried it. That was when I discovered that the plastic film was still on the guard!

Buck49 explains why the D-18 has a style 28 rosette:

A few years back, Martin standardized on two rosette types: the 28 style and the 45 style. That was, as you suggested, for economic reasons.

Not too long after that, they began to introduce the vintage series, the GE series, signature models, and that took care of their economy move...people didn't want a 28 style rosette on their D-18V or GE...the wanted something authentic. So Martin went back to using a number of different rosettes...but the 28 on the standard D18 stuck for some reason.

Looking for the best solution to remove remnant pickguard glue?

Lighter fluid. It's 100% naphtha and is nitrocellulose finish safe. Sometimes you can buy spot remover a lot cheaper, just make sure it's 100% naphtha. Use a soft cloth (old t-shirt). Paper towels will leave fine scratches.
Additionally warm water with a little detergent mixed will sometimes work, and if that doesn't work, then butter does the job just fine. No joke.

Someone was having a problem with his B and E strings sounding "somewhat dull -- or "mushy," as I've termed it. I recently replaced the stock micarta saddle with a Martin compensated bone saddle, but I don't think this problem began simultaneously."

FloydFlowers: It may be that the newly added saddle is not seated properly, not making full contact with the bottom of the slot....

J40M: Check the nut. Sometimes you can get a bit of dirt in the string slots. That will cause a mushy sound that you describe. Clean it with some naphtha. You should be fine.

A posting that Martin Customer service had told an owner that changing the banjo tuners on an OM-18GE to Waverlies would void the warranty created a storm of postings.

At least one poster reported changing tuners and subsequently getting warranty work done by Martin.

One suggestion was to switch them but keep the old turners; except that the Waverlies require a different set of holes.

Tim Porter: I have an OM18GE custom with Waverlies, and you should note that the OM18GE headstock is significantly narrower than any of Martin's other headstocks. This puts the Waverlies right at the edge of the back of the headstock. I'm not sure about the different size holes, but if the guitar originally had the banjo tuners, the holes may be in the wrong place to fit the Waverlies. It might fit, but you'll have to do some checking/measuring.

Arnoldgtr: For the 'banjo challenged', here is a photo of the banjo keys that are on the OM-18GE.

Banjo tuners are different from guitar tuners. They are 'straight through' design, imitating the original type banjo tuners that were not geared. The gear ratio is much faster than guitar tuners; typically 3.5:1 or 4:1. As a result, banjo tuners need a lot of tension on the tension screw through the button to prevent unwinding. They are also much harder to turn when subjected to the tension of a guitar string.

Most banjo tuners (including the Waverlys on the OM-18GE) fit in a 3/8" hole in the peghead, but do not have screws on the back of the peghead. Most of the time, there is a small pin that presses into the back of the peghead to keep the tuner from spinning. A 3/8" or 10mm hole is the size that most enclosed guitar tuners require, so the process is the same as when replacing enclosed guitar tuners, EXCEPT that screw holes must be drilled in the back of the peghead. Plugging the holes and redrilling is the recommended procedure. The narrower peghead on the GE should not be an issue. The housing of the Waverly two-band banjo tuner is actually wider than the baseplate of the Waverly guitar tuner.

As the discussion of changing tuners raged on, the issue of tuner weight came up. Notice the recurring theme? First changing neck material might effect tone, now changing tuners might have the same effect:

Arnoldgtr: Enclosed Grover Rotomatics are considerably heavier than most other tuners. Depending on the guitar (especially the stiffness and mass of the neck), adding weight to the peghead may have an effect on the sound. You can confirm this by attaching a small C-clamp to the peghead for an A-B test. The weight tends to give the guitar a little more punch and stronger attack, but some warmth of sound is sacrificed. The downside is that the extra weight can make the guitar neck-heavy.

The major difference in the weight of open back tuners is due to the button material....plastic or wood buttons are lighter than metal.

Bryan Kimsey: Back in 1988, well before forums like this got started and all this (mis)information started flying around, I took my D-28 to a good luthier with the request to replace the Rotomatics with some "vintage" type tuners. I was TIRED of tightening the Rotos all the time. The replacement tuners were Kluson copies. When I picked the guitar up, he said "Let me know if you hear a difference in the sound". I replied "Huh?" and he said "Some people think the tuners make a difference in the sound- I'm curious to see what you think.". Keep in mind that my D-28 was my ONLY guitar for about 16 years. I knew it well. Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure seemed just a little punchier. Even if there was no sound difference, it sure balanced a LOT better and no longer wanted to fall to the left.

Matthewrust: Go here www.bryankimsey.com/tuners/ for the Kimsey report with weights and comparisons.

Will015: I tried replacing the original tuners on my '53 0-15 with Waverlies (which are heavier) and I lost a massive amount of punch and snappiness. I couldn't quite determine what it was for a couple of weeks, but I thought my guitar sounded worse. I put the originals back on and she was her old self.

Granted the height of the string posts were different on the 2 tuners but I tried to compensate with the taller Waverlies by adding extra string winding to get the break angle back.

thenikonguy wanted to know how hard you had to pluck a string to get the Intellitouch tuner -which attaches to the headstock and detects vibration - to work. He was concerned about tuning in a quiet environment.
My own experience is that the Intellitouch is pretty good; though sometimes I do have trouble getting it to work on the low and high E strings. Moving the thing around on the headstock often solves the problem.

johnreid: With fresh batteries and if you use the skin of your thumb instead of a pick I bet it will. IF you use a pick you have to strike the string harder and the low E will not tune unless you use harmonics, but with the thumb it works great.

LukeAE: The string only needs to be plucked softly (with thumb, not pick, as per their instructions). Very quiet. The only trick, for me at least, was to find the sweet spot on the headstock to clip it to get the best readings.

mikeoso as an alternative...IMT-500 Tuner

soundnpix: I believe Pledge contains silicone that, while not harmful itself, would make any repairs/finish work quite difficult. I'm sure the luthiers would answer with a resounding "NO!."

ttreppa: Stewart-MacDonald sells a product called Preservation Polish which has no silicone. I like it and use it every time I change my strings.
No to silicone

"Is it possible to change the big rosewood bridgeplate to a more "modern" one and get an even better sound in my D-41? I've read that it steals some bass?"
"Will changing the bridge solve bellying issues on a D-35?"

jbbancroft: If it sounds great now, I wouldn't change a thing. No guarantee it's going to sound better with the change. Also could cause damage to the top during removal.

If you had or have belly issues with a D-35 you definitely do not want to go with a smaller bridge plate. D-35's are braced light as it is, so a large bridge plate is a good thing, and because it is rosewood ,that is not a problem either.

Bryan Kimsey: Just because it has a large bridgeplate doesn't mean that it will stop bellying. There is a particular point at which Martins tend to belly and you need support THERE. Martin runs the grain perpendicular to the top and the plate really offers very little resistance to bellying. All it does is fold up. Your plate may even be cracked and then you have effectively two bridgeplates. You could fill the entire top with a bridgeplate, but if you have a weak spot, that's where it will fold.

So, IME, it's not the SIZE of the plate that matters as much as the orientation of the grain. My plates are somewhere in between prewar and modern, closer to modern, with the grain running 45 deg to the top, parallel to the bass X-brace. This puts the stiffest resistance against the natural folding of the top (IME). I've also reinforced the plate with carbon fiber and/or rosewood strips to stiffen it even more. All in all, I've been very successful at removing or reducing bellies while still using a smaller (not "tiny", "smaller") bridgeplate.

Personally, I've taken so many 70's RW plates out that they don't bother me much anymore. The first thing I do is chisel two grooves on either side of the top seam. Then I remove the little piece between the grooves and from there on out, I can remove the plate in pieces w/out applying heat to the top seam. The only plates that give me trouble are ones that someone else has done. A few weeks ago, I removed a MASSIVE rosewood plate from a '47 D-18 that had been expoxied in. Now THAT was fun.

And finally, it's not a mysterious mumbo-jumbo randomized process. Tap on a RW plate. Tap on a maple plate. That's how your guitar tone will change. Whether you LIKE that tone or not, I don't know, but maple will give a crisper, cleaner, more neutral tone. RW plates always give a "darker" tone to my ears and I'm almost 100% at guessing the plate inside. I remember getting my first Huss/Dalton in hand, playing it, and saying "This has a dark bridgeplate....". Sure 'nuff.

A member reports "My guitar and case stink. I think the owner used a humidifier in the case and the thing smells like mold. I tried baking soda, which I still have inside the case and cedar chips in little burlap baggies."

I have a guitar that used to belong to a smoker. I tried putting ground coffee in the case (wrapped in a coffee filter.) The guitar developed a nice coffee aroma that masked the smoke smell. Now it's in a new case and it smells much better!

peterbright: If you have a secure area outside where you can place it in the sunshine, that might help.

EddyMc82: would investing in a new case not be your first port of call? I have never been able to get smoke out of cases so I just buy new ones, as for the guitar let it sit out for a few hours daily it should slowly get rid of the smell.

gtrdoc: Remove the guitar from "that" case for a week or so. My experience is the smell will leave the guitar in a short while but (if it is mold) will be in the lining of the case. I know of nothing that will kill the case mold and not ruin the lining. I have left a case in the sun every day for 2 weeks in 80-degree weather, and it still didn't kill the mold. Bleach will kill mold but you could imagine what the case would look like.

You could re-line the case or have it done, but replacing a newer case might be the easiest way to go.

ttreppa: You might also want to put some Bounce (clothes dryer paper) in the case. Bounce comes scented and unscented. Eventually it will remove the vilest of odors.

scarab100: I purchased a used guitar that had a moldy smell to the case and I sprayed the lining heavily with Fabreze and put it out in the sun for a day... and repeated the process another couple of times. After that I let it sit in the house opened for a few days to air out the smell of the Fabreze and it was fine.

"I am looking for a stool or chair that is similar to the one I sat on at the Martin factory. I enjoy playing/practicing with my feet off the ground, and with some back support. Anyone have any suggestions?"

SixxStringer: I have both the Pick 'n Glide (for "lounging") and the SoundSeat (for performing)...both are relatively expensive, but for their purposes, are great.

LesM: My pick-n-glider is terrific. Lots of back support and you don't have to rock it. I sometimes play with one leg crossed over the other (just fooling around) but with serious practice, both feet planted. It doesn't rock unless you want it to. Very comfortable, very pricey.

willysunday: check out "drafting Chairs" at Office Max. $99 go from normal height to "way up" comfortable and stable.

chasmatt: I bought a drafting chair after checking the prices on Soundseats. It works great. No arms, height is adjustable, good back support, very stable.

BillDuck: I'm a fan of office chairs. Adjustable back support, meant for sitting in for long periods, height is adjustable. And I can roll around on the concrete floor of the guitar dungeon. Usually just a bolt on each arm, so they come right off. No sharp or hard edges to dent anything on.

SixxStringer: the back of the Soundseat is adjustable, but once locked in position, it is mostly fixed, though it does have "give". Again, this is a much better option for gigging, or playing in any kind of stage-like venue. The Pick-n-glide is very comfortable, and great for just sitting back for hours at a time--though maybe not if you are sitting straight up reading music, for instance. It's best for "Lounging", IMO.

musicguy123: You did not mention if you are recording or not. If you are recording, make sure you get a high quality one that will not be prone to squeaking! I use a drummers seat with a back support called Gibraltar, and it is quite good. As the name implies, it is solid as a Rock!

GeetarMonkey1: I've been looking at the Roc-n-soc Nitro Throttle with a back? Is the Roc-n-soc a good idea? OR... Has anyone tried one of these..?? www.theguitarchair.com/

I bought a Roc-n-Soc at GC that is adjustable with a backrest. It works quite well for me. The model I bought is all black and looks acceptable in the living room.

A question about avoiding the forearm smudge on the soundboard devolved into a discussion of the pros and cons of the Pearce armrest. Some people swear by them, others swear at them. Let's leave it at that.

Martinman55: I usually have good results wiping with a damp cloth (water only) and then drying/buffing with a smooth dry cotton cloth.

Worst case, a little Virtuoso Guitar Cleaner and Polish does the trick.

matthewrust: I avoid the smudge altogether and make sure to wear long sleeves when I play. If a time comes that I do play naked armed, I use a clean cotton cloth and my hot breath. Anything that won't come off is taken care of at string change time--I use naphtha on a clean cloth and follow that with Virtuoso brand polish and always have a deep shine.

Floyd1960: A possible alternative: consider a long-sleeved shirt (the sleeves can be rolled-up) made from Egyptian cotton...it gets hot in the Land of the Pharaohs & the British discovered long ago that this exceptional cotton weave keeps one surprisingly cool during the sweltering months. Not cheap, but they last a long time & also look smashingly good with your chinos after you lay down the guitar & hurry-off to a summer wine & cheese party amongst friends.

awolcott: When it gets really muggy out and I sweat more, and the sweat doesn't dry, I use a sweatband just below my elbow. Looks kind of retro (think Dr. J...?) and keeps my arm from developing a rash.

qweeksdraw : I take a soft towel, wet it, zap it for a short bit in the microwave and use the hot (not too hot!!) towel to remove the smudge. The warmth dissolves the grease immediately and does not harm the finish. Finish up with a SMALL bit of fine polish. (or not)

GotDemBlues: John Pearse armrest. Solves the smudge from your arm problem, added comfort, and improved tone. A great little accessory for not much money. Not everyone agrees, but I like the way they look also.


It's kind of hard to describe verbally, but the armrest is only in contact with the guitar for about 1/4" on the edge. The part that actually lies over the top of the guitar is cut thinner, so it kind of "floats" above the surface of the guitar and does not touch the top.

LesM: Check out Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop website. Many of his advanced dvd's contain ragtime tunes. I have his "Advanced" Ragtime and Blues that has a couple but not exclusively.

outfidel: For ragtime blues (e.g. Blind Blake, Rev Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller) then Stefan G's web site is a great place to look.

Wire and Wood: if you can read tab, try to locate a copy of The Art of Ragtime Guitar by Richard Saslow. This book is simply outstanding but I believe it is out-of-print. There has been talk of re-releasing it.

spock: I will second Marshall's recommendation of the Saslow book. I have a copy and have enjoyed it immensely. Here's a link to some audio samples of the book.

OMpicker: If you are interested in guitar arrangements of classical ragtime, and if you have TabEdit, you might try these links:




Also, I recently ordered a CD of the album that started it all -- The New Ragtime Guitar, by Dave Laibman and Eric Schoenberg -- from the Smithsonian. www.folkways.si.edu/search/AlbumDetails.aspx?ID=356 (you can listen to MP3 segments of each song on that site). You can find Eric's arrangement of "At A Georgia Camp Meeting" in Stefan Grossman's book, Contemporary Ragtime Guitar (was that the name?), and the Dill Pickle Rag arrangement as a solo in one of the Happy Traum books. I still play both those after all these years!

What mics for guitar and vocal recording? Would it be better to use the guitar pickup?

woody bee: The guitar will sound ALOT better if you record with a mic. I've got a Samson CO1U mic. It's a USB powered condenser mic. It hooks straight to a computer. An expensive pair of mics is probably the best way to record an acoustic but I've got good results with this mic.

Here's a link to the mic.

WARNING: In most cases you are limited to recording with one USB mic at a time.

If it's just for solo acoustic guitar, a pair of small diaphragm ("SD") condensers is the usual choice (although other mics can work well). If you will be recording vocals and guitar accompaniment, then a large diaphragm ("LD") condenser for voice and 1 or 2 SDs for the guitar is common.

LDs for vocals:

ADK Hamburg (or Vienna) ($250)
MXL (Marshall) V69 ($300)
MXL 67 ($100)
CAD M179 ($200 or less)

SDs for guitar:

MXL 603s ($200 pair)
Studio Projects C4 ($300 pair)
ADK SC-2 ($200 pair)

LDs for guitar:

Studio Projects B1 ($100)
CAD M179 (listed above)

There are plenty of others too, so this list is not exhaustive. The CAD M179 is an excellent and versatile mic. Plus it has multiple patterns.

vallguy: Before you go out and spend a lot of money on mics, consider how you will record. I found that trying to record (1) my guitar with one mic to one track and (2) my vocal with a second mic to a second track did not work well. There is too much bleed of sound from one to the other. That is, the vocal track will have guitar sound, the guitar will have vocal sound. So, as you apply effects to affect say the guitar, it will affect the vocal as well. Never sounded good.

If you're just getting started, buy one mic and a decent preamp (a good mic REQUIRES a good preamp), and experiment. A dynamic Shure 58 is good for vocals and guitar, although I have found a small pencil condenser is best for acoustic guitar, and in a pinch can record acceptable vocals.

Through experience I have found that if I first record the guitar to one track, then record a vocal to that recorded guitar, I lose something in the performance. What I do now is take one mic to one track and record both guitar and vocal as a starter track. Then record a second guitar in a separate track over the starter, then record a vocal as the third track over the over two tracks. Delete the starter track.

What does it do?

ribaric: The pickup on your guitar is just a device to translate physical vibrations (of the bridge/top/saddle) into electric current which rises and falls in sympathy with these vibrations. The same as a mic or a phone etc. This electric current is tiny and requires to be boosted before it is sent from your guitar to an amplifier. The Pre-amp uses battery power to boost this electric signal before sending it along the lead/cable to the amp.

Without a pre-amp. the weak signal from your pickup will be joined by "noise" (from mains supply in your house etc, picked up by the lead which acts as an antenna for such nasties) so that your amp will "hear" the guitar and this noise - then amplify both. If you boost the output from your guitar with a pre-amp, then the guitar sound will totally swamp any noise and provide a good clean signal to the amp. You may also have to crank up the amp to get a reasonable volume resulting in more hiss, hum and generally unwanted noise etc. The word "active" refers to the pre-amp actively using battery power to boost the signal (it amplifies it) so that you don't suffer interference, crackles, pops, CB radio interference etc.

Having built a small battery powered pre-amp, it's a small step to put some controls into the way the pre-amp actually amplifies the signal (electric current). So a pre-amp can feature bass/mid/treble controls (called "equalization" for some obscure reason) and possibly the opportunity to pick a central frequency around which these controls work (called "parametric equalization" for even more obscure reasons).

Anybody have any practical experience with a small acoustic amp in an outdoor environment (like a park or a farmers' market)? Would 100 watts get lost in that situation?

MauryOM28V: I like the Loudbox 100 alot. 100 watts is nice for small-medium rooms but outdoors it's not enough. You need much more headroom to do an outdoor gig, at least from my experience.

d28andm1911a1: My set up is a Peavy powered speaker 270 watts. I have never had it higher than 2 and seem to have plenty of power. I use the second speaker as a monitor, you gotta have a monitor of some type to play outside.

100 watts should be enough unless you are playing a big area, I'm doing an outdoor restaurant that seats about 50 and I did it with a little 80 watt PA till I up graded and it was at the limit.

I don't think my powered speakers (34 lbs) are any heavier than a 100 watt acoustic amp

dave42: Outside it would seem that an amp on the ground would be no good. You need to get the speaker off the ground to project/get the most mileage out of the money sent on equipment. On a pole. I would go with the powered speaker(s) setup. Or a Bose........

Every now and again, the debate about signature guitars reignites. In particular, a lot of people don't like the signature on the 12th fret for some reason. Mostly it seems to be because it tells people that it's a signature model.
But which one? As can be seen here it actually took a while for people to figure out that Paul Simon was playing his own signature model (OM-42PS) on Saturday Night Live.

On a similar note, I recently went to a show and was sitting about 15 feet from a performer who was playing a model with a signature on the fret board. I couldn't tell what the signature was. So if most people can't even tell what it is, why the fuss?

Continuing this week's theme of linked themes, someone bashed Dave Matthews and the DM3MD this week:

"[Signature models have] been carried a bit too far, particularly with the Dave Matthews signature model. Why is it that if you do a Google photo search, most of the photos that come up show him playing a Taylor or a Fender Strat?"

So it was good to see this post the same week:

I was lucky enough to see Dave playing his solo show infront of 4000 people at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on Monday night. Great to see him using his signature DM3MD's, only changing for his Taylor for one track and electric for a couple of others...all played through a Matchless DC30.

And a DM3MD sold for over $5,000 this past week, which is either good (if you're looking to sell one) or bad (if you want to buy one) or bad (because you're too scared to take it out of it's case.)

I liked this story so much I thought it was something positive to close with:

BobAtlGa When I got my first job I barely made any money and hoped to some day buy a Martin. After only working a few weeks in my new job I stopped by a local music store in Lawrenceville GA (near Atlanta) and talked to a man named Bobby Whitley. He sold mostly organs and pianos but had a few Yamahas, Gibsons and two or three Martins. I saw a brand new D-35 hanging on the wall and was dying to play it. Bobby took it down, and told me to try it out. The sound was awesome and I must have played it about 20 minutes and even sang a little while I played.

Bobby came back over and said "you really like that guitar don't you son"? I told him it was fantastic.

The cost of the guitar in 1978 was $600.00. Bobby asked me how much I could put down if I bought the guitar and I said I only had about $100.00. He said that would be fine and wanted to know if I wanted to buy it and pay him the rest later. I said "of course"!

He wrote up a ticket and I put the guitar back in the case, wrote him a check and told him I'd be back each week to pay a little and hopefully get the guitar in several months. Then he floored me... he said "oh no, you can take the guitar with you today". I was amazed. I told him I would pay him back and I asked him if he did this for everyone. He said no, but that he just felt I was supposed to have the guitar now and that he knew I'd pay him back. He said "I trust you". Bobby died many years ago, but I always remember that day in his store.

That guitar has been my mainstay for 28 years now

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Scottish Guitar

The Scottish Guitar is a great website with lots of arrangements of Scottish tunes. There's a copy of the book in PDF format, and audio recordings in MP3. Definitely worth checking out...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Earth Day Is Coming!

Well not exactly. But the Earth Day concert is coming.

The Boston radio station WBOS has hosted a spring concert called EarthFest for the past several years. It happens at the Hatch Shell on The Esplanade, usually close to Earth Day, but over the years there's been a lot of poor weather so I think they moved it back a month to try and increase the chances for a nice day.

Given the recent weather, they could be washed out again.

I've gone once and saw Nickel Creek. It was fun; though wet. Wet is good for some; it keeps the crowds at bay. That's the problem with big free events in a large city. Too many damn people.

This years acts include: Los Lonely Boys, James Blunt, and They Fray. I'm thinking of going; just depends on the weather.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Stairway To Madness

Some guitar stores - allegedly - don't allow people to play Stairway To Heaven.

But for those that just can't get enough, WFMU's Deware of the Blog features 101 versions of the song!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cat Fight

I've been reading - and enjoying - Geoff Emerick's book "Here There and Everywhere," about his time with The Beatles. It's a really easy and enjoyable book to read, and if you're fascinated by The Beatles I think you'll find it very compelling; it's almost like being there. Even if you're not a huge fan, I think it's is a fairy accessible book.

I did have some qualms. I did wonder about the level of detail; how could anyone remember that much detail forty years later? I guessed that he had kept a diary, and/or the recording tapes from the recording sessions had provided some help in remembering conversations and what was going on at different sessions.

I noticed only a couple of errors, though I should point out that while I'm a big fan and have read lots of "Beatle" books, I don't tend to keep endless amounts of details in my head. One thing I did notice was an error in a description of a difference at the end of Penny Lane. Two versions of Penny Lane were initially released; a version with an extra horn solo at the end that was initially released by Capital in the US and the 'standard' version that most people recognize today. The book confused which version has the extra horn solo. A minor error to be sure, but still a confusing one.

I also noticed that Geoff didn't paint George Harrison in a particularly favorable light; though I didn't feel he tore him down all the time. Maybe I didn't find it objectionable because I've never been a huge George H. fan. Don't get me wrong, George was a great guitarist, and he did write some amazingly good songs (Something, Here Comes The Sun, to name a few) but I don't think he ever rivaled Paul or John, and I don't blame Paul or John for seemingly keeping George back, as some George fans tend to.

Geoff also casts George Martin in a less than favorable light many times; though whether he's totally fair, or whether his perception is a little colored by rivalry, who knows? Everyone's perception of reality is colored by their own bias.

Okay, so that's the end of my review. It appears that others have much stronger problems with the book than I did.

Ken Scott, also an engineer at EMI that worked on some Beatles recording, has some problems with errors in the book.

I was one of the people interviewed for Geoff's book, as were many other former Abbey Road employees. We all came to understand that these interviews were arranged because he had very little recall of those days, and his co-author would use our memories to become Geoff's stories.

Now, after reading his book, I KNOW how little he remembers. It appears we, the interviewees, didn't give enough, because much is clearly fabricated stories, something made up to fill out the book. A good example of this being the detailed recollection of the overdub session he worked on for Misery (Page 59). However, in an interview in 2003, with Ken Michaels, Geoff was quoted as saying "...I was informed the other day, and I couldn’t remember it, that Misery was the first track that I was actually present on." Amongst these stories are many things that could be proven untrue by astute Beatles fans, and things easily shown to be false by those who were there.__

Taken as single points it is easy to say "so what", but when one turns into two turns into one hundred the veracity of everything comes into question. Unlike any other band The Beatles are now part of history and it is my feeling that their history should be told correctly. As part of that history Geoff did AMAZING work recording them, but if one can't remember or take the time to double check the facts, DON'T WRITE A BOOK.

More of the disagreement is covered here: Geoff Emerick & Ken Scott differences of opinion on some events

Now clearly Ken is a friend of George Harrison, and so some of his problem seems to come from that. Also, Geoff was clearly closest to Paul, and I think he makes that clear in the book. I think anyone reading it could adjust for Geoff's obvious bias; he's upfront about it.

So what to believe? I don't know. I still enjoyed the book. It didn't really change my perception of The Beatles in any way, and I felt it added some useful color to the history.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"There Will Be No Sorrow" - Let It Be

Let It Be (from the film?) A great version (notice the lyric differences.)

UMGF Weekly Summary #1

A weekly summary of interesting threads on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

In three pages of posts, no one liked the Martin Backpacker. No one!

Problems included: poor sound, different string spacing to standard guitars, and the balance is "off." Geez, no one likes it? Well several pointed out that the LXM is much better and not much more expensive.

A question about guitar stands provoked the standard responses: watch out for those that have foam that can interact with the nitro-cellulose finish. A couple of people recommended Hercules frames - I have one and love it - and they have "lacquer-safe Specially Formulated Foam rubber."

For the rest, or if you aren't sure, cover the foam with cotton cloth. And don't forget; guitars on stands are more likely to be damaged and you need to watch humidity and temperature.

An interesting question about the different body sizes (0 / 00 / 000) resulted in good info from tonguy:
Using a convention inspired by engineering gauges, Martin designated their body sizes with increasing numbers of zeroes (some say "oh" and some say "aught") to denote increasing body sizes ...(FWIW, the 0000/M has the same top/back dimensions as the modern Martin Jumbo - CFM IV created the Jumbo by making the 0000/M with a dreadnought's depth, rather than the 0000/M's 000-depth.)

0000 (or M) - Grand Auditorium
000 - Auditorium
OM - Orchestra Model
00 - Grand Concert
0 - Concert

Todd Stuart Phillips adds: Note that the original Mr. Martin made guitars that were typically made in size 5, 4, 3, 2-1/2, and 2. Size 1, the largest he ever made, was considered almost freakishly big for the age he was making guitars. It likely never occurred to him that anyone would ever want a size bigger than that. But of course Size 0 was indeed added later

For dimensions, visit Martin's website. Martin Guitar Shapes

A question on bracing differences resulted in a link to this interesting page: Martin Top Braces

Now here's an interesting bit of trivia. Gandalf 000 asked about a cutaway Martin with a horizontal oval sound hole. David 515 pointed out that Martin's early cutaways had oval holes because Martin hadn't nailed down a bracing pattern that would allow a round one. It was used on J, M, OM, and D cutaways.
Todd Stuart Phillips follows up: The cutaways come down farther, exposing more frets to playing than the modern Martin cutaway. This ran into the top most brace, so Martin moved the brace, which required the sound hole to be of a different shape. The current Martin profile is more shallow, does not require the brace to be moved and appears to have been first used on the Schoenberg Soloists. It was copied from a non-Martin vintage guitar from some bygone era.

Meanwhile, Guitargabor reported that the D-28 that he kept in it's 630 Thermoplastic case with strictly maintained room humidity at 45% has a shrinking top, and a guitar tech claimed that the foam rubber in the case was absorbing humidity.

Say what?!

Several posters doubted that the case could or would absorb moisture, and that - all things being equal - after a couple of days the case will be at the same humidity as the room.

I'd have to agree with that too; unless the case was filled with silica gel or something, but even that, after a little while, should get to the room's level.

Then things got interesting. Tonguy noted: Minor detail - a D-28 should come in a 640 case. The 630 is designed to fit the OM and 000 body sizes.

To which Joe McNamara responded: Eureka!! Tony, you've solved the Magic Dehydrating Case Issue. Squeezing a D-28 into a 000 case causes the spruce top to compress, much like wringing out a sponge, and the resulting dehydration manifests itself in the manner described.

Now if we could just confirm if that's the case (pun intended!) Or is that case really sucking up the moisture?

Do you ever wonder if those 10,000 odd 000-28EC models have hand signed labels? Turns out that the standard 28EC is stamped, but the 42ECB, 28ECB, 000-ECHF and 000-ECHF are all hand-signed (and it seems the last three all had production runs of 500.)

On a side note, my local Guitar Center has a 000-ECHF Bellezza Bianca that I saw over the weekend. It certainly is a nice looking guitar, and it plays well, though the sound wasn't enough of a difference to really grab me. And they wanted $4,999 for it! GAS averted!

An interesting thread on changes in bridgeplate material and size and whether (and how) it effects sound can be found here: Bridge plate size, and tone (it's just too complicated for me to abridge it.)

Wow! A D-100 was sold at Buffalo Brothers for $60K. In a weird way it's interesting to hear about one selling, but if I had $60K I think I'd buy several other guitars instead!

There's a thread on the most memorable concert, which got me thinking. For myself, it is the Dave Matthews Band concert that I had a press pass for, and seats in the ninth row. It's a long story, but you can read about it here: One Sweet World

For those doing home recording, there were some good recommendations for headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 100 / 150 (closed), Sennheiser HD-280 (closed), AKG K240 (semi-open). I wish these were easier to find online.

Don't forget that you'll want closed headphones for multi-track recording. For playback only, you can go to open headphones.

A similar thread on inexpensive monitor speakers resulted in recommendations for the Event ALP5 ($320 pair) and Resolv 65a ($299 pair). I have the Event Project Studio 6 speakers which are good. Several forum members pointed out that headphones might be a better - and cheaper - solution.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Guitar Player TV

Guitar Player TV is a joint venture between Music Player Network, publisher of Guitar Player Magazine, and TrueFire TV, an "Internet TV broadcast network."

If you go to the site you'll find a collection of short instructional pieces, performances, and interviews. Roger McGuinn has a section called "McGuinn's Den" where he talks about songs and shows a few things. It's not exactly an instruction class, nor is it just a performance.

It will be interesting to see how/if this expands. At the moment it seems a little empty; if you're not interested in the things that are there, then you will get bored rather quick. I also think it needs a better explanation of what all the parts are (a table of contents kind of thing!) There should also be graphics and text to go with some of the instruction; but then maybe they don't want to replace the magazine (and if that's a case, does this link to content in the magazine?)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel plays at Club Passim, May 10, 2006. Rushad Eggleston plays cello.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Performance Anxiety

Classical guitarist Michael Murray offers tips for Dealing with Performance Anxiety that include:
Perform Regularly - The more you do something, the more normal and less scary it becomes
Perform Successfully - It doesn't matter how often you perform if each performance is a failure, if anything you are making things worse.
Start with Low Pressure Situations - Play for a local seniors group, hospital patients, family, friends, etc.
Pick a repertoire you can handle easily - Playing pieces in public that are near the borderline of your abilities is not the way to develop confidence in your playing abilities.
Play long programs - the adrenalince rush only lasts 5 - 10 minutes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

We Shall Overcome

I just got We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions Bruce Springsteen's latest album. So far I can't get Pay Me My Money Down out of my head, though there are other tracks (such as We Shall Overcome) that I think will keep my attention too.

Though something's up with the copy on my iPod...there's this clicking noise on at least one track. I'm going to have to reconvert it and see if that fixes the problem.

This album has had an effect on another band I follow (the following comes from their website); Crooked Still
In the middle of all this craziness, Greg gets a call to go try out for Bruce Springsteen's band. So he goes to New Jersey, has a good time, and says "wow, that audition was the best day of my life." Then he actually gets hired. Yup, you heard me. The name "Greg Liszt" can now be found on the official website of the Boss. So this means that for about six or eight shows between April 24 and June 11, we will be joined by some other stellar banjo players.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Apple Pro Training Series

I just got a copy of "Apple Pro Training Series : Logic Pro 7 and Logic Express 7" from Peachpit Press, and so far I'm impressed. It comes with a DVD with files that you use to work through the chapters.

Each chapter explains what you're going to do and approximately how long it's going to take. Then it steps you through different tasks.

I don't think it's a good reference book if you just want to know how to do a specific thing, but if you're starting from scratch I think it's a good book (though if you just want to start recording you have to wait a couple of chapters!)

They include the 30-day trial version of Logic Express on the DVD too (though you can get that online.)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott

I saw Ramblin' Jack Elliott on Monday.

Just not my thing.

But here's to anyone still performing after 70 years.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Click Click Click

Damn! Bought a Metronome on the weekend, and discover that there's a nice little online metronome.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last Johnny Cash Song

"Like the 309," the last song written by Johnny Cash before his death, will be included on "American V: A Hundred Highways." The album includes one other original song, and covers of such songs as: Bruce Springsteen's "Further On (Up the Road)," Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind," and Hank Williams' "On the Evening Train."

Keith Richards Undergoes Surgery

After either falling out of a tree, off a jet-ski, or both, Keith Richards ended up in hospital in New Zealand under observation. After "complaining of headaches yesterday, doctors thought it prudent to move ahead with a small operation to remove the pressure."

Apple Beats Apple

An english judge ruled that Apple Computer Inc., did not violate the terms of a trademark agreement with Apple Corps.

iTunes is safe! (for the moment.)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dylan Does Radio

Bob Dylan a radio DJ? Yes sir, if you have XM radio his one hour long weekly radio show debuted this week. Each show of Theme Time Radio Hour has a theme (this week it was weather, next week Mother's Day) and Dylan provides a commentary that is "uncharacteristically chatty."

Unfortunately I don't have XM Radio, and I don't think I'm curious enough to spend the money to listen to one show, but they do offer a free 3-day streaming trial (see link from web page.)

Yahoo Article: "Mr Tambourine Man played a song for me: Dylan's DJ debut"

XM Radio Page

Friday, May 05, 2006

T5 Soundcheck

Taylor's T5 is a sort of hybrid guitar. It's more electric than acoustic, but it's supposed to be able to generate acoustic tones as well as electric ones.

From my own limited time with it, it feels (sound, the way the strings respond) more like an electric; though the neck feels more like their acoustic guitars, if that makes any sense.

Whatever. It didn't work for me (though I do think they look pretty cool.)

Taylor has a T5 Soundcheck on their website where you can hear what the T5 sounds like in various combinations through different amps. I don't know that it should really influence anyone's ultimate buying decision, but it is an interesting way to spend some time...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rock And Roll: Priceless

One day they're going to take away You Tube, and half my posts will disappear. But until then here's a spoof(?) of those MasterCard "priceless" ads:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Let It Be

This video is actually taken from recording sessions for The Beatles aka The White Album but it makes me wish they'd rerelease the movie Let It Be on DVD. I know it's not exactly a happy movie, but just having the concert on the rooftop footage would be great!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Darol Anger's Republic Of Strings

Darol Anger's Republic Of Strings played at Club Passim on Saturday. I don't know the name of this song, but it's a good indication of the kind of things they performed (though they ranged over several styles of music.) good stuff, though I was mostly interested in observing how the guitarist was playing accompaniment.