Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Its a girl!

As they all are of course.
71bs according to the customs sheet, delivered by the TNT courier guy this afternoon, after 8 days of labourious travel.

Guitar and new owner are reported to be overjoyed at the new addition to the family.

The exhausted owner was heard to say, "I can't wait to hear her make her 1st sounds, just as soon as she's had time to recover from the trip and get used to the weather here and tuned up and ready"

He added, "We're all very exited."

The new addition has been named Titch due to its small stature and is in no way intended as an insult to short guitars anywhere.


Expectant fathers == new guitar owner...same thing?

I always love delivery days, its that combination of expectancy and worry I like and I think todays the day...though since TNT/Dutch post is the midwife, delivery may be a little less than predictable. But according to the USPS tracking site.

Detailed Results:

Out of Foreign Customs, May 31, 2011, 12:29 am, NETHERLANDS
Into Foreign Customs, May 23, 2011, 9:47 am, NETHERLANDS
Arrived Abroad, May 23, 2011, 9:46 am, NETHERLANDS
International Dispatch, May 17, 2011, 4:23 pm, ISC LOS ANGELES CA (USPS)
Processed through Sort Facility, May 16, 2011, 2:50 pm, SANTA ANA, CA 92799
Acceptance, May 16, 2011, 12:00 pm, SANTA ANA, CA 92711

Titch is on the way...probably today.....maybe tomorrow.
Which only begs the question of how much duty are they going to hit me with, actual cost or list price based...gulp.
Damm I just realised guitars are exactly like kids..bloody expensive.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Forms forms forms and more forms

Tich is stuck in customs, the seller didn't put a value on the shipping form so Dutch customs have sent me a form to fill out, not too complex but of course its going to hold things up.
ah well.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Small is beautiful

of course, Bina is quite small...;)

But this is even smaller..

Meet Titch, a 0 body (ie small parlour) 12 fret guitar made by Recording King and designed by Eric Shoenberg, who's a player and builder of pre war finger style guitars which are not as common as they used to be.

He gets companies to produce these designs to his very high standards and puts his name on them. They are quite rare, and often very pricy, but Recording King seem to have worked out a way to keep his standards high but the prices low.
This one is unusual for a 12 fretter becuase it has a cut away, an unheard of concept in prewar styles, but it adds a lot to its playability and this made this design quite special.
As explained in this video

They sold out pretty much as soon as they were released making them quite hard to find, but I located one in the US and haggled the price down to something I could afford.
Now I just have to wait for the Customs people to deliver it to TNT, never a fun thing cos you don't know if they will charge duty based on list price or actual price, important in this case as there's quite a difference.

Why am I still buying guitars when I said I was done....ermmm yeah well....its a good point.

Neither my Breedlove or my Ovation really work as fingerpickers, they have big bodies and thin necks to provide amazing tone, and fast chord changes and while they can do fingerpicking (especially the Breedlove which in my opinion is a great all rounder), you need a smaller tighter feel and a wider neck to do sweet hammers and pull offs without rasping on other strings which is why I've bought this.

This really is the last....apart from a Gibson Blueshawk, when one comes up I can afford (no really...and it will replace my Wesley)

From this point on, its a one in one out policy now, I have no more room. In fact the Ovation Elite may be going soon, I am going to have it set up properly, its always buzzed a littel bit, and if I don't feel it offers me something different than my Breedlove its going on ebay.

Any day now. Postman should be knocking. I chose not to buy a case with this one, normally I do, for security when shipping, especially from the states, but due to being strapped for cash and frankly having no where to put cases, I opted out...so its just in cardboard and packing....I hope it makes it ok.


Friday, 20 May 2011

Stubborn and old!

I think I'm starting to qualify for that title. I've been trying to get some work related coding done over the last few weeks and failing at every attempt to make it work...on my laptop..worked fine on my PC but laptop refused, and I could not find the problem.
Not such a big deal you may think, but I had to show this code at work to my students..on my laptop. So the frustration levels were growing..Several very late nights, lack of sleep and stress levels rising. Just like the old days.

In the end, it was a simple idiotic thing, a missing pair of "" around a line of text that caused the copy routine moving some lib files to move to the working directory failed.

Arrghhh I should have see that, I really should, 10 years ago, 5 even, I would have seen it..I think I must accept, there are grey hairs on my head, lines on my face, and I keep forgetting what I am doing, which just makes coding such a hard...something!!!

The stubborness comes from not giving up on the problem, cos I refused to be beaten, but also in not asking for some help..in the end it was a casual passing remark by a student that reminded me about the quotes...if I'd asked him 1st I would have fixed it ages ago...but I was sure I could fix it..

I can't I'm human, and worse, I'm an old human, my mistakes are becomeing more and more common and I am not as good as I was......time to get myself an eager sidekick to keep me on .....what was I talking about???


Thursday, 12 May 2011


My old friend and collegue Lee Cawley sent me a message today that took my breath away.
His wife Mandy, passed away after the most incredibly brave fight against cancer I have ever heard of.

I knew it was coming, in fact the last few months it seemed to be ever more likely as Lee reported lots of hospital visits, but after what I think is about 10 years of fighting, undergoing major surgery, drugs, chemo, drug trials, every damn thing, the cancer eventually won.

I wish I had some way to express how sad I feel about this, I remember the shock when Lee told me when she was 1st diagnosed and have kept up to date with her progress year after year, heartened by news of improvments and saddened by the many setbacks.
There was never really any doubt her cancer was terminal, they just didn't get it in time, but to fight for so long, and still not win is heartbreaking for all concerned.

There are the times when I wish I was religious, cos if nothing else if gives you something to say, I don't have the right words just now. I am just incredibly sad for Lee who shared that fight with her all those years.

A brave lady, Mandy Cawley, RIP, you earned it. Keep Strong Lee.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Not intended for music lovers

But I bet it won't stop mum listening...it is just a work in progress using some of the gadgets and software I have aquired...don't blame me if you have nightmares after hearing this.

anyway...even though mum likes this (well she would) this is only here as a reference, I hope to improve my recording techniques and my singing over the next couple of weeks, and will do another version of this to compare....I hate the idea of people being able to hear such dross, but its all part of the process to help compare.
The voice for sure needs more PC, and maybe dropped down a tone in post production. Also I have to get my singing rythm in time with my guitar rythm, I stumbled over a lot of bits. Overall though I give it a 4/10....lets see if it improves with time and practice.

And to demonstrate a little how post production can improve...here's the same track after a bit of messing......still crap but...not as crappy as before. The surprising addition of a harmonica has me ....surprised...some kind of frequence thing I assume, but not unwelcome really.


Saturday, 7 May 2011

ahhhhh wrong key

There is a reason I was sounding terrible (aside from the fact I do actually sound terrible) I was playing guitar just outside my vocal range...capo to the rescue to change the guitar pitch to suit, and voila it sounds reasonable. It actually sounds reasonable..bloody hell.

I even managed to get through a whole song which I have saved for posterity....and let the girls listen to it...they liked it :D

Not brave enough yet to post on here but with a bit more practice and tweeking of the "make him sound good" buttons I will post something soon.

I won't be entering any of Simon Cowells make fun of the deluded shows any time soon...but just for me to be able to sing and strum my way through a whole song is bloody great :D

yeahhh.. I feel good!!!!

I knew that I would!


Well maybe not THAT easy.

After spending a whole day "singing" yesterday I don't have anything to show for my efforts, apart from a bloody sore jaw...its not used to it... between forgetting the words to my test track (To love Sombody...the Ray Lamontagne version) or getting my co-ordination between guitar and voice wrong I have 100's of takes of a few verses....none of them very good..But I will persevere. I can honestly say its a lot of fun and with a few twiddles it does sound reasonable and improving.

The challenge is to get through a full song without error and see how that sounds.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

I've been using my lovely Ovation VXT to do this, mainly to prevent my voice mic picking up too much guitar sound which can get all out of whack when the pitch correction kicks in.
It is a fantastic guitar on its own, but hooked up to a Zoom A2 using default models for Gibsons and Martin guitars, it provides a fantastic range of really greate tones and sounds. So much better than my Roberts ever did which I always though was good going through the A2.
Also another plus for tie VXT over the Roberts, becuase of its hybrid nature, its much easier to play, with lighter strings and faster neck, the Roberts was not hard to play by any means but its Acoustic strings meant it needed a bit more effort. And you can't beat the fact you can just dial in a monster electic tone on demand for a big bending wail at the right time...should I ever get to that right time...oh well..tomorrow I'll give it another go.


Thursday, 5 May 2011

This singing lark is easy

got a new mic, and a few accessories to go with it. Its not a big expensive one as mics go, its top of the low end price wise, but better than the standard dynamic mic I was using mainly to record acoustic guitar...It never really had any oomph to record voice.

This one does and urrghh I was right, I really can't sing, dull boring flat and insipid when you hear it back, but its extraordinary what a difference a good mic, a few pitch correction additions, a bit of reverb, some chorus and even a bit of envelope shaping can do.....no I don't really know either, I just pushed the buttons it said would "improve the quality of the sound" but it does make me sound like a modest half decent pub singer...not ready to inflict my warbles on the masses just yet but maybe soon.

the new layout...

Oh and no I have no long term plans to take up singing as a hobby, I am not that cruel, its to improve my basic timing on guitar. One of my biggest issues is a total lack of rythm, and singing along can help with that a lot....I just don't want to have to listen to me raw unprocessed horrible voice when I am practicing..


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Mighty Dark Fire Returns.

I'm sure my Mighty Dark Fire is cursed, since its unfortunate accident it has not been out of its case much, though Gibson very kindly sent me the replacment part I need, I don't really posess the tech skill to fit it. So I have been planning to take it to the shop in Northern Holland which Gibson reccoemend, when I have a bit of cash handy....yes I do have insurance cover to pay for it, but I want to be sure I can afford the work just in case.

But...as part of my clearing up, I took the beast out of her case and decided I'd have a go at doing just one of the fixes. namely straightening a bent tuning peg....no problem thinks I, I will use a tube extension on a screwdriver to apply steady pressure.....and indeed it is now nice and straight, but I broke a string doing so.

Now, changing strings on a guitar is not normally a big deal, an occasional chore you get used to. But since I had not changed them since I got her I decided to give her a fresh set rather than find a match for teh single broken one.
Which actually turned out to be quite a task, requiring a download and check on the manual as to how you actually change the strings on a robot tuner guitar.

After a bit of phaffing about though, the strings come off, the new ones go on, and in typical, ain't that a cool party piece fashion the MDF tunes herself up.

I still need to replace that pickup selector switch, but she's looking damn pretty even with the broken one. Hmmm might give her a bit of a wail later.

Oh and I finally worked out why the Dunlop strap locks that came with it do not fit....the "nubs" fitted to the guitar are not actually Dunlop locks..I think the original owner must have sent the wrong strap side bits and hence why they don't fit. I think they are Schaller's.....small detail but annoying as it means I can't blame gibson for my "faulty" straplocks.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Another tidy up...

In an effort to make most use of the space, I've been shuffling things around in the play room...I think I've almost got it sussed now.

I want to start doing a bit more recording and even a bit of vocals (arrghhhh) so need to have space to get all my auto pitch correction stuff and sound proofing etc......I can't sing, at all, but I suppose I should make a bit of an effort to try. So long as its just me listening to it I'll be a lot happier but that means I need to have the recording "studio" part of my kit working again which it hasn't been for a while.

Its quite a challenge fitting so many guitars/cases/pedals/amps, mixers and recorders into a small space....but I think I've cracked it. Pics to follow

edit...hmmm cracked the space issue but rather a lot of nasty hum going into the tube amps....need to try to isolate that.