Wednesday, 31 August 2011


This is tempting

it looks like a reissue custom shop Les Paul, which if genuine is worth £1500-2000+.

But it just screams wrong....its pretty all right but the fret board is too light, the pickup switch is the wrong colour, the control knobs should have a finger pricker position indicator, it should have an aged look on the pups, no case is mention and lack of proper pics on key ID points is odd...Also the price....I mean £475?? If he bought it as a Gibson reissue he'd have paid a small fortune for it...and would be asking for a Buy it now rather than a very low auction starting price.

I've mailed him to ask for specific pics of key points that will help ID it, if he sends them, I'll be tempted...but....something tells me its a chinese copy, and not worth 500quid...200 maybe, but not 500.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Some adjustments

I had to make a few adjustments to the pedal much as I liked it, the mixer was not really working since I had no easy simple way to switch out the Zoom G2.1u m,ulti fx pedal, which has a bad habit of buzzing or producing some cpu ticks when in bypass mode.
So back to my friendly switch maker and a bit of re-wiring and purchasing of much better quality velcro, later.

I now have this set up.
..ermmm I was going to upload a photo, but since my PC switch my Ipod->Itunes sync has been totally photo will have to wait.


After THE most contrived series of processes ever....I have finally managed to get the photo...and its crap!!

Anyway, I added a 5 switch loop box, which allows me to select an fx channel, either 1 or a mix of any of the 5. Which then goes to the ABCDE switch to pick an amp/mixer to go to...neat

I also added my wireless system too, so that the guitar is totally wire free. The input then goes 1st into the VL4, to supply pitch data for singing (help) then the thru signal is sent to the loopbox to go onto the selected channels.

I have it going into my mobile fx on pos 1, acoustic Zoom A2 fx on pos2, Zoom G2 on pos3, Bass 607 on pos 4, and pos 5 is clean. The output then goes to the Digitech Jamman, for looping phrases if needed, then over to the ABCDE switch to go to a chosen amp. Marshal VT50, Fender Champ 600, Practice Bass amp, Cheetah amp or G-Dec. I may also put a small 2 way switch in to plumb straight into the mixer but for now if I want to use the mixer I'll unplug the G-dec.

Its bloody awesome, but you need to be sure the jamman is not amping up an empty signal from the VL4 as I discovered that caused some noise. Also the amp you send it to should not have FX running if you send a loop phrase to it or it distorts..But this is all good, just a learning process.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011


There's a few teething issue with my new PC, the video card is borked, but I negotiated a refund on that and am using my old one for now, it also seems to BSOD coming out of sleep mode, which usually means a driver needs updating..

This sounds worse than it is, but what is good is the absolute power that I have got to play with now, 8GB of memory and a 2.8Ghz multi threading Quad core i7 make for a much smoother Windows experience than I've had for quite some time.

I spent last night installing software, as you do, and even though it was a pretty long process the i7 managed to do most of it in the background as I tested it out, with dev packages, games and audio tests..It didn't break a sweat and thats without SSD's!

Hopefully some driver updates will resolve the BSOD on sleep restore, and then I'll be back to having a mega PC again...though you can get faster i7's :) hmmmm next year maybe, for now this is several levels of magnitude better than I had so I'll stick with it.

Going to stick in my drives next so I can get all my data.. I learned some time back not to have data on the same drive as system files so that updates like this are much easier.Just plug in the data drive and restore the apps and all should be well. Quite curious to see if Windows 7 on the SDD in my old machine will fire up on a new board...they usually don't but...lets see :)


Friday, 19 August 2011

Ohhhhh pretty

All clean and shiny, polished and waxed with a new set of strings.

My baby ;)


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Causing...slightly, less pain to music lovers.

playing with my new pedal arrangement, but I got the vocal levels totally wrong so it gets drowned by the guitar twiddles.(thankfully)...but not bad for 1 take.I need t work out how to do smooth fades on garageband though


Monday, 15 August 2011 vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting PC's

Yeah.....bugger. Though the main PC is now functioning without BSOD its hobbling along quite badly due to lack of memory. I have a dilemma, is it the chip controller on the motherboard playing up or is it the memory modules themselves...I could buy new memory modules and try them out, it would cost about 80-100quid, but what then if it does not work, that would be wasted money since it uses DDR2 and my next PC is certain to have DDR3 memory. Even if it does work its only going to extend this machines life for a year or so.

Time to upgrade I think, to a mega that will last 2-3 years before the software starts to make it chug.

I usually make a point of building my own mega machines but when I made this one I settled on functioning rather than capable of lasting a few years, mainly due to me being so knackerd from my cancer surgery and needing to replace my last beast.

This time I'm not so much knackered as cant be bothered, there's been a lot of leaps in PC tech in the last year and I've not kept up with it, so I'll just buy a prebuilt one...and add my own drives to it to retain most of my stuff....still means installing shed loads of apps but what the hey!

Going to hit ebay and find a decent spec but hopefully quiet I7 beast that fits the bill.

Think I've found one....will see if he takes my offer...its a Gaming machine, which means high spec, but usually with noisy fans, though those can be this space.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

normal...ish services have returned

hmm seems my PC's memory is indeed faulty, but not quite sure in what way.. I took one stick out and it ran fine, passing memory tests no problem, so assumed the stick removed was faulty.

To be sure I put that stick back in, removed the other and ran tests.....and it was fine...eek

Sure enough it seems the memory issues only occur when both sticks are in place... It may be a dual channel thing. I will try one last test with both sticks in running in single channel mode and see how it goes.

Annoyingly I could not find a BIOS option to put it in single channel mode, it may be that plugging it into different slots achieves that...but its quicker to set values rather than get down on hands an knees reaching into computers, so I locked down some of the automated options to known fixed values, like 667 for speed. Then fired it up and ran memory passed.

I'll try a stess test on it...Supreme Commander 2, usually puts it under stress :D and it was the 1st thing that showed up problems.

Honest I'm testing...not playing.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

New PC Time?

My main PC has been playing up big time, randomly hitting bluescreens of death...not good...There seems to be no specfic application or Id on whats causing it, the BoS points out some pretty standard Windows 7 drivers when it fails, which normally suggests a more severe hardware fault, perhaps some RAM on its way out or something...
Even though this was a rebuild after the old beast met its unfortunate end I have never really been 100% happy with this PC, lots of little niggles with it...

So yeah..I think its time to break out the credit card and indulge the other expense in my life, aside from guitars...going to have a look at some i7 beasts and see what they will cost....

This one can probably be saved with a clean re-install of windows or something, but I need something thats 100% reliable and a bit more powerful now for some of the new work I'm taking on. In fact this is probably an ideal use at work PC, since I loathe my laptop....hmmmmm I'll get my PC head on and get back up to speed, its amazing how quickly you lose touch with these things


Friday, 12 August 2011

Fretlight fun, and also cock fun??

Well I'm pleased to see my blog gets onto google, my recent post about my Fretlight expereince resulted in a request for contact from one of the new directors from Optek, makers of Fretlight, concered about the noise and nut issues I was having, a quick check on my blog list showed he'd been directed here from google....mind you so was some guy searching for "cock games"...ermmm????

He said he'd let me try a new cable in an effort to reduce the noise problems and I'd be happy to do that, since as it stands the noise when using the USB cable feeding back into the amp makes it hard to listen to. He uses fretlights on stage with no noise, I can well believe that, but on stage you don't generally have the USB tutorials plugged in.

As I said in the post and repeated to him, I find it a great learning aid for scales and chords but I don't "yet" see any song learming benefit above what tabs give you, at least as it currently is set up. I will keep trying though, but I'm not buying videos for it, Guitar Pro 6 gives me the best of both worlds.

I also asked if I could get a new nut from him, it seems they are changing the nut from the rather crappy transparent ones to something more normal. I think thats wise.

I noticed with a bit of google fu myself that a few people have posted quite negative reviews of the 400 series Fretlights, mainly due to quality..I kind of agree with that. From my own experience there are some clear quality issues, sharp frets, low nut, noise pickups and CPU noise are all issues that relate to quality.

But when all said and done, its not being sold as a high end Gibson, Ibanez or Fender, its priced at the low end of the guitar range but with the added plus of a fantastic training aid...Still..I hope they do manage to resolve these issues and push the product a bit further. The neck is really quite sweet, and bad pickups aside it has good sustain and feels quite nice, bridger and middle pickups give good if unremarkable tone qualities, so its on a par with a couple of my lower end guitars..I just paid a wee bit more for the neck.

I can also say that the software leaves a bit to be desired too...I would not mind having access to their SDK to see if I could come up with something a little more interesting, even if only for personal use...I might ask. (hint hint if you're reading this again Bill)

I hope the new director will be able to do something about that and ensure the playing side of the Fretlight becomes as much fun as the training side of it, which reminds me. After a week away, my fingers are getting soft..time for some scales and new chords, due to some holiday induced inspiration. I've been flooding my brain with loads of Ipod Peter Green stuff this last week...oh boy....just.....oh boy!!! I wish, oh how I wish I could have 1 tenth of that ability to make a single note sing......practice Brian, practice.


Monday, 8 August 2011

Fat Bloke with a guitar...and looking worried for some reason!!

While sheltering from the rain here in Germany, I updated our We Jamming Facebook page with some pics Bina took of her 1st Jam.
Of course since she loves me so much :D Most of the pics are of me....

I'll just post the ones with me in it so as not to annoy people who may not want their pics on my blog..


Nicht gut!

I'm in Germany, for 5 days with Bina, a nice romantic break for 2.

And its raining..oh boy is it raining....

guess we'll have to find something else to do...


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Fretlight limits

ok I've had another good play around with my fretlight and I am starting to form the opinion, that its a bit hmmmm.

Its very handy for learning chords and scales, quite brilliant for that, my fretboard knowledge is expanding greatly, which lucky for me is why I bought it.

But for trying to learn least not with the software that comes with it. Its a wee bit like trying to play guitar hero with an unknown song set to hard level.

And I realised why, when you read tab, you do at least take in a couple of notes at a time and therefore know whats coming up, with the fretlight...its all in your face, there's the note, hit it hit hit ..too late..gone.

Of course you can slow down playback and watch 1st, but really reading the tab, playing back slowly and then trying to follow the lights is the best way, which tbh you don't need to follow the lights because you can hear if you played it right or not.

What it needs is something GarageBand does quite well, a way to analyse what you play back to see how close it matches the song, perhaps even waiting till you hit the right note before moving on to the next...This needs an audio input into the computer but those are easy to come by and am sure Fretlight could brand something from China to do the job.

Also I discovered a major quality issue last night, well a couple in fact, when wire plugged into an amp, and the usb side hooked up I got incredible computer noise back through the amp..I mean really bad. I hooked it up wirelessly to cut the link between amp and computer becuase it was soo bad.
2nd the nut is rubbish, I was learning SRV's Mary had a little lamb, which needs a 1st string 3rd fret bend and every single time the string popped out of the nut. Even my cheapest guitar does not do that. Grr
I attempted a little home repair to deepen the nut groove, which then caused a major 1st fret buzz, so I had to raise the action at the bridge on 1 string...hmmmm

Well its not good is it, but its a teaching aid not a real guitar regardless of what they may say.

I'm also not terribly impressed with the teaser emails Fretlight send out, free play along videos (they play a vid and light up the fretboard as the notes are hot)...only they are not free videos, they are 30-40sec samples of a full video they are selling..I hate the songs for free, the full songs. Stop trying to make post sale sales, stand by your product and use the vids to promote and enhance it not make money out of those.

Oh and to top it all off, Dutch Customs have still not sent me a refund or contacted me about the overpayment!!! Another letter I think.


Friday, 5 August 2011

I got no strings,,,

More non string based music instruments have arrived at Chez Beuken.

I am using Garageband more and more on my mac and having found how to simulate intruments, I also found that I needed a proper keyboard to make besst use of it.

Imagine my joy to discover I could geek amplify that need by adding an Ipod touch to the keyboard to make it a fully working portable synth :D. Great for taking to our jam sessions....though I won't even pretend I know more than 3 chords to make it work but I can pre-program some things that work best with synth backdrops.

And I also managed to pick up an iControl unit to allow for physical control of Garageband for almost half price on my old friend ebay. Mice are not always easy to fiddle with when you are playing something and need to trigger a new track or whatever.

Getting quite a collection of music instruments in the attic now...if only we could actually play them???


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Blogger is broke

As reported before, technology and me are not getting on very well at the moment...perhaps its my impending middle age starting to take hold and I'm getting to that, but I pressed it stage in my life.

This time its Blogger, I've noticed a few silly issues with it recently mainly due to it not seeming to be able to keep me signed in when I post replys to comments..well its better than that. I can't post comments to any blogger site it just keeps looping me back to a sign in page over and over and over and over and....

I'm starting to understand why older people have so much fear of computers!!!


Monday, 1 August 2011

A year in Belcrum

It may not be Provence but it has been just as magical in some ways. We've just notched up our 1st year in our new home, here in the area of Breda called Belcrum.

Overall its been a good year, our home feels like a home and as we aquire more and more junk to clutter it up, it feels cosy.

Going to be quite a different 2nd year, with no Jodie here, but I don't think we'll be seeing the last of her just yet :)