Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recording The Beatles

Another Beatles book.

I thought I had every book I could ever want or need...and now comes Recording The Beatles. At first glance this looks like a reworking of Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. That book, for those that haven't come across it, is a blow-by-blow of The Beatles recording sessions. It goes by date, and notes what was recorded and a lot of how it was done. There's also notes about what else was going on in their lives, and how that might have influenced what was recorded. Despite sounding more like a diary than a riveting read, it's suprisingly interesting (at least for this Beatles nut) and one of my favorite Beatles books.

Recording The Beatles goes one step further than The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. Full disclosure; I haven't read it yet - I've only seen the sample pages on the website - but if that is any indication, where Lewisohn will note that Paul recorded 24 takes for Mother Nature's Son, and then overdubbed on take 26, Recording The Beatles provides a visual guide to how it was probably recorded and mixed (i.e. what tracks on the 4 track tape had what instrument.) The book also includes a lot of information about the recording equipment and techniques.

For many people this will be way too much information, but for some people - me! - it's a book that's going to be really hard to resist. At $100, it's expensive, and the publisher does mention the possability of a cheaper edition, which makes the buying decision a little difficult.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Abbey Road Keyboards

This has little to do with guitars, but for those fans of The Beatles it's something interesting; PropellerHead software has released a pack of Abbey Road keyboards for use with their Reason sound tool:

"The Abbey Road Keyboards ReFill brings the sound of legendary Abbey Road Studios into your Reason rack. Recorded on location using Abbey Road's recording rooms and vintage equpiment, this ReFill gives you access to seven time-honored Abbey Road instruments - these are the keyboards heard on all those immortal Abbey Road recordings. Abbey Road Keyboards ReFill is now available worldwide."

Did you know that ABBEY ROAD is a trademark of EMI?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Taylor Guitars Road Show

I went to a Taylor Guitars Road Show last night at Acoustic Outfitters near Portsmouth NH.

Whether you already own a Taylor, or are thinking of getting one, it was a great event to catch up on the things Taylor is doing. They brought along about 12 different models that people could try and that were on sale (at a good discount; but not give-away prices!)

The event started off with an explanation of the ES system complete with a cut-away – no back – guitar, and then they did a demo of the effects of different kinds of wood; they had four GC models constructed with different top and back woods and talked about the sound differences. Next they demoed different body shapes. A T5 demo explained the differences between the 5 different pickup settings.

Finally a guitar tech did a quick care and feeding demo (and he also did some inspections and adjustments on guitars people had brought in with them during the break.) At the end they gave away some t-shirts and picks. All-in-all a fun evening, and while it wasn’t quite like going to the Factory, it was a good event to learn about their products.

Things I learnt:

They can neither confirm or deny the existence of an ES system for nylon string guitars; the problem is that you can’t use a bridge pick-up with nylons strings, but they may have a solution coming.

Their custom shop currently takes 60 days. Also, they will be offering later this year an online custom order tool that will let you go in and choose different options. How this will work with relation to dealers (I’m assuming you won’t just order straight from the factory) was not explained.

If you send a picture of your T5, they’ll try and match the wood to make a matching T-5 12 string!

Someone asked about R.Taylor, and they basically said that it’s a completely separate operation to Taylor Guitars. They do share technical knowledge, but marketing etc is completely separate. Also, they only build about 300 guitars a year, which is why not all Taylor dealers are R. Taylor dealers (given that they have about 500 Taylor dealers.)

They will be coming out with Australian Blackwood limited editions in the Fall. These will be announced at NAMM.

Someone asked why the GC models have slot heads. It sounded like one of the big motivations was to distinguish the models for buyers, though they also mentioned that they are considered “more traditional” in appointment and they are short scale.

Taylor doesn’t stain their ebony

They are working on a cut-away for the GS models. The GS was described as a replacement for the Jumbo; the Jumbo sound without the Jumbo size. But the dimensions are very similar to the popular GA. They want the cutaway GS to look different to a GA.

Several changes made in construction were noted. This included the relief cut; a channel cut in the sound board near the out edge of the sound board, and also that they are moving towards using different thicknesses in woods depending upon the type and density of the wood. The latter started happening this year.

The T5 12 string has a new compensated bridge that adjusts for the different thicknesses of the different sets of strings.

Oh, and there will be a new solid-body electric at NAMM; though they cannot confirm or deny that.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pickup Manufacturers Round Table

Acoustic Guitar's latest issue contains a transcript from an acoustic-guitar pickup manufacturer round table hald at Winter NAMM. It's definitely worth reading:

But how do people know what a pickup is going to sound like in their guitar? I find it very difficult to pinpoint. I can have a pickup that I love in one guitar, and I’ll put the same system in a different guitar and it’ll sound completely different.

TURNER Isn’t it the same as going into the studio with microphones?

But you don’t have to install the microphone.

TURNER I understand that. But it’s the same issue, with a much more difficult solution.

I've heard many mentions of things that effect sound, but this was the first time I have heard about the angle of the saddle:

MARINIC […] the whole thing falls apart with the installation in the guitar. The inclination of the saddle in the bridge is the most important thing on the guitar. It’s pure physics. If you look at the drawings from the old masters—from violins to other instruments—the bridge inclination is the most important thing.

TURNER I’ve been tilting saddles back about eight degrees for 15 years now, and it really makes a huge difference in being able to get that balance happening.

So many people talk about altering their saddles, and compensated saddles on the forums that I thought this was particularly interesting:

FISHMAN I will add another element: When people started using molded saddles with exaggerated B-string compensation, they stuck a knife in our gut. Because that saddle hasn’t got a chance of having a balanced set of forces on it. I’ve seen guitars that were hopelessly out of balance, and we made a saddle with a rounded top on it and stuck it in, and all the problems went away. Another real problem can be smile-shaped bridge-pin setups.

One final warning:

What are some of the most common mistakes that you see players making with your gear?

TURNER One thing that I see is too much gear—too many EQ stages. You’ve got EQ in the guitar, you’ve got EQ in your preamp. You have situations where there’s five stages of EQ between the guitar and the loudspeakers. I advise people to get their stage rig happening and plug it in to some really flat speakers or listen to it on headphones. Have that available as an XLR [out] and give that signal to the P.A. and say, “This is my sound.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fichman Aura Acoustic Imaging Pedals

It's always refreshing to quote someone, so why not quote myself? In a thread on the UMGF about the Fishman Acoustic Imaging Pedals someone asked about the differences between the pedals and the Blender box, and since I'd just recently been talking about the Aura stuff with Ian at The Music Emporium, I felt almost knowledgeable enough to offer the following overview. Of course, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Note: The Imaging Pedals should be shipping about now, so I'm waiting to hear some user reports:

My understanding is that the pedals are a sub-set of the Aura Blender. The Blender includes a lot more Aura Images, and also has the capability to download new Aura Images (via a MIDI connection though.)

And then there's also the Ellipse Aura, which can be installed inside your guitar (the controls are accessible through the sound hole of the guitar.)

So you have three products to choose from. This is how I see the differences (but am interested to get other's take on this.)

i] The Blender gives you the most options and you can install custom images. It's much larger than a pedal though. It's best for those that have multiple models of guitar they'd like to play through Aura.

ii] The Imaging Pedals are much smaller than the Blender, so convenient for performing. If you have multiple guitars of the same body size, then that's great. If you want to use two different body sizes (a dread and an OM) then you might have to get two pedals (though you might be happy with the way the OM pedal sounds with your dread or vice versa.) Cons: Two pedals cost as much as the Blender, and are almost as bulky, so if you're thinking of getting more than one pedal you should probably get the Blender.

iii] The Ellipse Aura mounts inside the guitar. You can download custom Aura Images, so you can set it up for the guitar. Less hassle than pedals. Cons: If you have more than one guitar it becomes expensive.

USB Mics

I bought one of those Samson USB mics a while back, and while it's nice to just plug the thing into a computer and go, I'm not really that impressed with it. Particularly since - the last three times I've tried to use it - it's had an annoying static noise that I haven't been able to isolate.

Compound that with problems getting it working in the first place (on a Mac) and I can't really recommend it.

But if you are in the market for a USB microphone, then check out the April issue of Electronic Musician, which has an article comparing six different USB mics.

My own perspective: I have a Line 6 Toneport USB box which I use with 'real' microphones, and while it's a little more baggage to work with, the results are much more consistent and satisfactory.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mark Hanson Workshop

This past weekend I attended a workshop at The Music Emporium given by Mark Hanson. Mark is an accomplished fingerstyle player who has written a number of instruction books including The Music of Leo Kottke.

The title of the class was "Arranging Beatles for Solo Fingerstyle Guitar" and it was a great lesson. He gave us the tab to three songs; I'm So Happy Just to Dance With You, It's Only Love and Good Night.

The big takeaway from this class for me - apart from the tabs and having him go through the songs talking about how they are played - were Mark's comments about how he approachs these pieces. His theory is that he trys to mimic the phrasing of the vocal, because that's what people hear in their heads (they are so familiar with the songs.) When working out the fingering, he's looking not just for an easy way to play the notes; he's looking for the smoothest way to play it. So it's important to think about where your fingers are coming from; and where they are going to.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Building a 3D guitar

In August 2006, Suzanne Vega performed live in Second Life avatar form.
Robbie Dingo was commissioned to make the Guitar and animation for the Vega avatar, and you can see an animation showing the "building" of this guitar at the Second Life Showcase.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ukulele Chords

Since I'm on a bit of a ukulele kick at the moment, here's a new chord book: Ukulele Chords - C Tuning, published by Curt Sheller Publications.

Ukulele Chords includes information on how to transpose any chord or chord progression, add and sus chords, and an introduction to more advanced chords. It's 44 pages long and has an MSRP of $9.95. G and D tuning editions will be out next year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New York Ukulele Festival

The 2007 New York Ukulele Festival runs Thursday thru Sunday, April 26 thru April 29 and includes concerts, vendors, workshops and jams. If New York wasn't so d*&m expensive, I'd pop on down to check it out...I mean, why not? It says there is free beer...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Violin Busking

He emerged from The Metro at the L'Enfant Plaza station and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.
So begins an interesting article on an experiment the Washington Post conducted to see how the average communter would respond to high art. For just under an hour one morning they had the classical violinist Joshua Bell play classical music in a Metro train station. The piece is interesting; though perhaps predictable. Somehow, you knew that had there been a positive reaction, there would have been no article.

Some of the quotes from the musician are particularly revealing;

"At a music hall, I'll get upset if someone coughs or if someone's cellphone goes off. But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change." This is from a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

THERE ARE SIX MOMENTS IN THE VIDEO THAT BELL FINDS PARTICULARLY PAINFUL TO RELIVE: "The awkward times," he calls them. It's what happens right after each piece ends: nothing. The music stops. The same people who hadn't noticed him playing don't notice that he has finished. No applause, no acknowledgment. So Bell just saws out a small, nervous chord -- the embarrassed musician's equivalent of, "Er, okay, moving right along . . ." -- and begins the next piece.

The article doesn't slam the commuters, and I think some of the analysis is spot on:

Leithauser's point is that we shouldn't be too ready to label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs. Context matters.

The comments of the people they interviewed are also revealing;

When he was called later in the day, like everyone else, he was first asked if anything unusual had happened to him on his trip into work. Of the more than 40 people contacted, Picarello was the only one who immediately mentioned the violinist.

"There was a musician playing at the top of the escalator at L'Enfant Plaza."

Haven't you seen musicians there before?

"Not like this one."

In 43 minutes of playing he made $32.17; but twenty of that was from a person that recognized him. Which really translates to $12.17. Hardly a great way to make a living...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Neil Aspinall Leaves Apple Corp.

Neil Aspinall, The Beatles original road manager, and later chief operating officer of Apple Corp is leaving Apple Corp.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fingerprints get me down: Nera to Bianca conversion

Nera to Bianca

The 000-ECHF Bellezza Nera is the fourth of five signature models that Martin has produced in collaboration with Eric Clapton. It's a great guitar if you like playing blues; with it's rosewood back and sides, short scale for easier bending, and 1 3/4 inches at the nut. All in all, a nice box; though the glossy black finish turns out to be horrendous. After a short time finger prints and scratches scream at you.

Now they've come out with the 000-ECHF Bellezza Bianca, which replaces the black finish with a white glossy finish; problem solved - but wait! It's maple. Now some people love maple, but to me it's just a bit too bright. The solution of selling the Nera and getting a Bianca would solve one problem and create a new one.

Then I had an idea; why not paint it? It's a little unorthodox, but it's not like people don't paint their guitars.

A highly painted guitar

The good thing about this solution is that there's not a whole lot that needs painting; these guitars are sisters, and many elements are identical: the bindings, rosettes, even the perghead torch and background are identical (just as well, how would you mask that torch?)

The first job was masking out the parts that didn't need painting. This took some considerable time getting the tape in exactly the right position. Several times I had to pull off and reapply the tape to get it to wrap right. The 'real' painters masking tape works much better rather than 'regular' tape; it comes off much easier.

The Tools

I found it better to mask the back and paint it, then remask to do the sides, and then do the front. That way I only had to align the masking tape on one surface rather than trying to wrap and trim to cover both edges of the binding.

Masking the backstrip

For painting I tried brushing on an enamel coat on the back and then lightly sanding, but that did not work very well, so I then switched to aerosol paint. Using multiple coats you can build up the color without having to sand; you just have to be careful not to get dust in the paint as then you will have to sand to get the surface smooth.

Brushed coat

The painting job itself didn't take that long; and with the quick drying enamel it was possible to get three coats done in a day. Since I didn't remove the strings (just masked them) the guitar was ready to play by the evening; though I really didn't handle it that much until the next day when the paint had hardened.

Spray paint; first coat

The adventurous would remove the tuners while painting, but I simply masked them off; any paint that went on the tuners I just scratched off with a pick.

Unmasking the tuners

All in all I think the Nera-Bianca conversion is something a little unique. I know it's not for everyone, but that's not the point. It solves a problem and doesn't look too bad either. Also, with the enamel paint, I think this guitar will be less susceptible to humidity swings.

The finished "Nera-Bianca"

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds

I'm a huge fan of Dave Matthews, and possibly an even bigger fan of his "solo" concerts with Tim Reynolds. I've seen them twice live, and of course have the Live at Luther College CD as well as several recordings from shows they have given.

But woe is me. I saw an announcement that they were going to play at Radio City Music Hall on April 22 and decided it was too expensive to go down there for a show; but I missed the announcement that they will be playing at Amherst College, MA on April 21 (and the tickets are all sold out now. :( )

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Massey Hall

I got the Neil Young at Massey Hall CD/DVD package a few days ago. The audio CD is definitely worth getting; great performances of classic Neil songs.

The DVD is an interesting beast; the footage is fairly low quality (maybe shot on 16mm or even 8mm) and it has a lot of grain to it either as a result of the poor lighting, the film stock, or both. While the performances are fairly well shot, there's nothing of the pre-post song banter [NOTE: I've read that the audio is from the Massey Hall concert, but that the footage might actually be from a different concert of similar vintage, and that's why there's no footage of the banter, etc.]

It's certainly an interesting window on what it was like to see Neil play back then, but I'm not sure that it really makes for compelling viewing; I'm not sure that I'm going to watch it again and again.

There is some interesting ancilliary footage, and the 'Extras' are definitely worth a look, if nothing else than to see the person he wrote the song 'Old Man' about.

Lap Tapping

My first exposure to guitar tapping was seeing Kaki King opening for Richard Thompson. Blew me away that you could play a guitar that way.

Today I came across a clip of Erik Mongrain, who plays 'lap tapping' (essentially the same as regular tapping, but sitting down!) Pretty amazing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gibson Guitar Stuff

Not that I'm a huge Gibson guitar fan, but they announced a few days ago the Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page 1275 "Aged" Double Neck Electric Guitar at $30,000 each, and now they have announced that they have sold out nine of the 26 they plan to make.

Well, fun.

Even more fun; they have announced the "Cleveland Rocks! Guitar Art Project," which sounds vaguely like the decorated cow parade that has attacked many cities. In this case, local artists are invited to paint/decorate a guitar, which will be auctioned off for charity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

McCartney Signs With Starbucks

Starbucks has been dabbling in music for some time, but now they are getting serious - guess there's just not enough money in coffee. Paul McCartney is the first artist signed to Starbucks Corp.'s new record label, Hear Music.

In terms of album sales, McCartney's chart topping days are past; but he's still a big name.

Starbucks seems primarily interested in astablished acts that appeal to baby boomers (didn't they distribute Dylan and Stones albums?) it's not clear how they would - or if they could - handle fledgling acts.

Colbert And Nelson

I've been a fan of the Colbert Report since it began. It has it's ups and down's, and sometimes it seems a bit repetitive - or maybe I just need a break - but some days it's just magic.

Yesterday's show was one of those. Willie Nelson was the guest, and there was a running gag about Willie's ice cream (Ben & Jerry's have released ice cream for both Willie and Stephen.) Then Stephen brought out Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to broker peace.

All good fun, but then it went one better when Willie performed "On the Road Again," Stephen came out and joined him on the second verse, and then Holbrooke came out and sang with them too! And stage manager "Bobby" got to play rhythm guitar guitar with Willie - lucky b$##%!!

Maybe not great music, but a fun moment.

Robber Soul Cover Using Legos

Digger Digger Dogstar on Flickr has posted a series of Beatles album covers remade using Legos. They are pretty cute. Rubber Soul is my favorite, along with the Hard Day's Night cover.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mojo Does Sgt Peppers

The March issue of Mojo Magazine has a cover story on Sgt Peppers that has some interesting stuff; interview with George Martin, pics, a list of things that happened the day the album was released, and a CD of covers songs. The latter is kind of interesting; if only because the cover of All You Need Is Love had me thinking that Ringo could have done a better job. Ouch

The only track I really like is the version of Getting Better by Fionn Regan (never heard of him before.) It's a very spare, slowed down acoustic track, and since I like that sort of thing, I like that sort of thing. The rest I have a lot of difficulty listening too (and it's not because I hate all covers; there are a bunch of Beatles covers I do like....just none on this album.)

There were still a bunch at Barnes & Noble last Sunday, but since the magazine website already has June on it, you might want to step lively to get a copy.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Making of a D-28

Acoustic Guitar magazine has an article (with pictures) showing the steps in building a Martin D-28. Even though I've done the tour three times, it is interesting because you don't really get to see each of the steps in order...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall

The first I heard of this was yesterday when I went to Amazon and there was a sample video from this new album/DVD package. It looks very interesting. In trying to find out more about it, I came across a Neil Young News blog, which features a review.

Live at Massey Hall more than just captures Neil Young's triumphant return to his Canadian home town Toronto on January 19, 1971. It provides an intimate portrait of the artist opening himself up to his audience while becoming more confident and comfortable with his rising fame. While Live at Massey Hall has circulated as a bootleg for many years, this is the first time we hear a superb soundboard quality recording that fans have been yearning for with the Archives release series.

[...]In what appears to be an edited recording of 2 performances (early and late shows), the 17 song CD allows us to hear virtually what the Toronto audience experienced over 35 years ago.
If you read much more, you hear about The Archives, which I gather is an all-encompassing venture that Neil has been working on that covers other unreleased material. It *seems* that Massey Hall is a connected - but separate - part; i.e. The Archives, which is expected later in the year, won't include the Massey Hall material. At least, that's what I get from reading the reports on the blog...

[NOTE: I was going to include an image of the album cover, but Blogger isn't allowing me to upload images right now.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Home Recording Advice

An interesting thread on Harmony Central with some good tips on mixing home audio projects:

...use an EQ to cut the low frequencies (up to as high as 250Hz) in every track, save the bass drum and bass guitar. Cut them too, but only up to 60Hz maybe.

You can find spectrum analyzers that will help you see where frequencies are piling up, but you should mix with your ears. Start low cutting your tracks, and see how that changes things. Also, don't solo your tracks while you EQ - you likely won't like the sounds of your tracks while they're soloed, but they'll fit better in your final mix.

To get some definition on the kick drum, I found the fundamental frequency of the 'click' of the drum beater, and boosted that a bit. I found a boost around 100Hz helped too.I cut the bass guitar in about the same 100Hz region too.
Listening to [your] mixes in a great room and fabulous speakers is a revelation... a general rule I only leave the kick, snare, bass and lead vocal in the center. Only on very rare occasions will anything take over that coveted real estate. Often I'll pan things hard right and left.

If there is a sound (like acoustic guitar or backing vocals) that I want to position so that it is audible in both speakers, i'll often use a stereo delay set at 100% wet, where the left delay is set to 0 ms (no delay) and the right is set to somewhere between 5 and 15 ms. Just that little shift is enough to throw the sound to the sides and leave the center clear for the most essential information, while being virtually indistinguishable to the ear.

Use reverb sparingly. Too much (or poorly eq'ed) reverb makes for all kinds of mess.
Get a hold of a spectrum analyzer, sometimes called a Real Time Analyzer or RTA. I use Voxengo GlissEQ which is just an amazing eq in itself, and is also a fantastic SA. [...]

Try a limiter, multi-band compressor or sonic maximizer. Be careful because it's easy to overdo it and squash the crap out of (or maybe into?) your music...
...Listen to sgt pepper on your monitors over and over again.

Mix at lower volumes. really low even. definately helps with vocal and bass placement and ear fatigue.

Occasionally switch to mono to make sure nothing is sticking out of the stereo field too much (or disappearing).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

eBay Lyrical Listing

Martin guitar 12 str with original hard case/ex cond

A Martin guitar is the harmony produced by movement of the celestial spheres, a conception of Pyhagoereran. Once engaged in this instrument is beyond having a fretted fingerboard and the usual 12 strings. Once skilled, this instrument is a professional performer. The harmony produced by the movements of the celestial spheres is engaged in or versed in historical study of music an art. It is stated that Martin, a a masculine personal name is a guitarist.

Hey, I can do this, it is simple.

Friday, January 26, 2007

One Thing Leads To Another

It’s funny how one thing can lead to another on the web.

Just today I saw a posting on Harmony Central about Tascam’s FireOne FireWire Audio Interface. I clicked on it to see what the thing was, not really expecting to actually buy one, whatever it was. It turned out to be a Firewire audio interface that only has two inputs (which at least means it’s probably not as expensive as the other Firewire inputs out there, but may have less of the latency problems of the USB interfaces.) It’s other notable feature is this big jog-shuttle on it. That jog shuttle looks cool; for video editing. For audio editing, I’m not too sure that a jog shuttle is the first thing you want to spend your money on.

But seeing it reminded me how I’d always thought that the M-Audio iControl device looked cool for working with GarageBand, and I’d half heartedly thought of buying one, but never had. Unfortunately, I’ve also just switched to Logic, but it had me wondering if the iControl would work with Logic? Purely out of curiosity, you understand.

I did a search, and the initial articles didn’t look promising. But then I came across an article that suggested that the iControl did work – in a limited fashion – with Logic Pro. Okay, cool.

But, the article also mentioned the Behringer BCF2000 controller desk. For $200 you get a USB controller which has motorized faders.

Motorized faders!

Holy Cow! Now motorized faders is a pretty cool – and usually expensive – feature in audio mixing decks. Suddenly I want one of these things!

And to think. If it wasn’t for Tascam announcing the FireOne, I might have been oblivious to the existence of the BCF2000.

Now I just have to save up for one!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

VG Stratocaster

Here's a picture of the VG Stratocaster. This is the business end, and shows; the Roland pickup (closest to the bridge), and selectors for choosing the tuning (Drop D, Open G, Baritone, etc) and the guitar type (Stratocaster, Telecaster, Humbucking and Accoustics.)

The best I can find on pricing and availability are: TBA.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The NAMM Problem

The problem with NAMM is that they announce all this cool stuff, but they often don't - in their press release - announce when the stuff will be available, or how much it costs. Which leaves me scratching around trying to find out.

For example, the Fishman Aura Pedal was announced, but no info on when they will be out, or on cost; though someone on the UMGF said they'd be about $200. Fender also announced the VG Stratocaster, which adds guitar modeling and the ability to switch between tunings and guitar types (like Baritone and 12-string) by turning a knob. Looks cool, but I have no idea what they plan to charge for it, or when it will be least not in the press release. Maybe it's on the website; which is actually kind of fun, but I didn't read EVERYTHING there...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fishman Aura Imaging Pedals

It's Winter NAMM and lots of fun musical stuff will be announced. Probably.

Fishman has announced the Aura Imaging Pedals. What's Aura? There's been quite a bit of buzz about the Aura technology, particularly about the Martin's that you can get with the system built in (the DC-AURA and the DC-28E to name but two.) People who have used them rave about them.

Aura uses digital algorithms, developed in Fishman’s audio labs, to create an Image of the natural sound that microphones capture in a professional studio. This Image, when played through an amp, mixer, or PA, blends with your instrument’s pickup to produce an immediate and dramatic improvement in your amplified sound.

What's that really mean? Well, for situations where you have to use your guitar with a pickup, the Aura takes the sound from the pickup, does some magic stuff and makes it sound more like the guitar would sound if it was mic'ed rather than plugged in using a pickup.

The Martin guitars come with models customized for those specific guitars, but you can also get the Aura technology as a standalone product. The Fishman Aura Acoustic Imaging Blender comes with a bunch of models included, and you can even get Fishman to create a custom model for your guitar!

Anyway, Fishman has announced the Aura Imaging Pedals. At first I couldn't figure out how these related to the Blender product and it took a few readings to notice: Designed for use with guitars featuring undersaddle or magnetic soundhole pickups, there are Aura Pedals for each of the six major types of acoustic stringed instruments: Dreadnought, Concert, Orchestra, Jumbo, Nylon, and 12-String.

So I'm guessing that the Pedals are not customizable the way the Blender is.

The Blender costs about $400. No price was mentioned for the pedals, but if they are about $120, then it would be a lot more attractive.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I've heard a few people speak highly of the G7th capo, but at $30+ it was a bit too rich for me. And I was very happy with the Kyser caypos that I have (two; because I'm always losing them)

But then, on a whim, I bought myself a G7th and have been using it for a few days and I have to say that I really like it. There's no spring to fight, you just slide it over and push it together and it locks on (what it really does is not release until you push the lever on the back.)

Works very nicely and easily. Expensive, but put it on your list of cool gadgets to get when you have the money.

Makes a nice gift too ;)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Taylor Restringing/Diagnostic Clinic

Taylor Guitar held a Diagnostic Clinic at my favorite guitar store, The Music Emporium today. Taylor owners were invited to bring in their guitar to get a free checkup.

I got down there around 3pm, figuring that it would be best to get there before the crowds showed up. Taylor had two technicians and their North-East region rep there. When I arrived one tech was fitting a new saddle for a 12-string acoustic, while the other was working on a T-5.

I had never seen inside a T-5 before; I didn't know they were hollow! Stupid me, I thought they were solid body. It was also interesting to see that the string holes had a lot of rough edges around them; not a big deal, but there had been a big thread about Martin's with this "defect" a while back on the UMGF so I thought it was amusing to see Taylor's with the exact same issue.

I had taken my 814ce, which has seen a lot less play over the last couple of years because it had become a summer guitar; it had a very slight buzz during winter that had driven me up the wall; so I just stopped playing it in the winter. And then sort of stopped playing it all together.

I explained all this to one of the technicians, Pat, who asked a few questions, and then mentioned a few possible causes of the problem and said that he would check those out. He then set to work.

Applying orange oil and beeswax to the fingerboard

He restrung it, tightened the pegs, checked the action, attached some loose internal wires (from the pickup), cleaned and oiled the fingerboard, and polished the body (with car wax!) Though it wasn't definitive, he thought it possible that the loose wires might have been the cause of the noise.

Once he was finished he declared the guitar to be in fine shape and to just keep on doing what I was doing (I didn't say that what that was had been 'not playing it much!') Still, it was good to know that it had been keeping well, and it almost feels like I have a brand new guitar.