another useless blog - nobody reads these anyway, do they?
For the last god knows how long i've been using ernie ball power slinky strings. I decided it was time for a change when i started to notice that they sound kind of sharp and metallic with some of my guitars.
Yesterday i put some DR pure blues 11-50 gauge strings on my fret-king Esprit III and wow - what an improvement! the guitar just sounds a whole lot warmer, without that metallic ringing overtone that sounded exceptionally piercing with the P90s. The guitar now sounds nearly as rich as my '73 gibson SG! i think i'm going to be using these DRs for pretty much everything now.
Hey, just uploaded a cover of John Lennon's "Real Love" that i've been working on for the last week or so. Hope those of you who occasionally check my profile will enjoy it and not hate my vocals as much as i do
Well here's a list of possibilities of what's up with me right now:
1) i'm having a gear epiphany 2) i'm having a temporal lobe seizure 3) i'm having a nervous breakdown
explanations to each:
1. This week i aquired some new but very humble gear and ended up discovering that it got me much closer to the tone i've been chasing than any more high end stuff had, which leads me to believe that you should never, EVER, give in to hype, peer-pressure, kool-aid, or whatever other nonsense can influence your gear decisions. Ever. And don't judge a book by it's cover. When i post my NGD, i plan to make people think i'm a total retard for saying how awesome this cheap, bland looking guitar that cost me £300 is and how good it sounds through my £60 solid state amplifier.
2. Perhaps something other than what is actually going on has influenced part 1. i do feel pretty spaced out and detached from reality at the moment. and contrary to popular belief that anyone in st pauls must be a complete pothead, i don't do any of that shit, i don't even drink, although i have been drinking tea, although that merely gives me a stiff upper lip and stereotypically stained teeth.
3. ditto. i feel completely void of any emotion right now which feels like how i feel before a nervous breakdown. i'm no stranger to nervous breakdowns, because, believe it or not, i once was a teenager. perhaps i've just gone completely nuts. or maybe i just need a hug.
Wow, that was a load of nonsense. or something. i'll probably wake up and laugh at this. or not remember writing it.
massive overreaction to the 9/11 jokes from certain users. it's not "anti-american" and it's certainly not "laughing at all the people who died". it's called dark humour, the kind of joke you laugh at because you shouldn't laugh about it, not because you think what they are joking about is funny.
the worrying thing is, i made a joke about the holocaust, and nobody complained, people only laughed, but when i posted that joke, i was making a point really, and a point well proven by the shit-storm the thread turned into. bravo, guys
it doesn't take a genius to figure out what my point was. let me ask you, which was the worse atrocity? 9/11 or the holocaust? it's a no brainer.
so how come it's ok to joke about the holocaust but not 9/11? that demonstrates a frail grasp on the big picture...
Boredom strikes again so it's another little rant.
The general consensus on UG seems to be that solid state amps are just cheap, crap, "wannabe tube" amps. and there's a reason for that. That is what the amp companies are manufacturing nowadays. It is not because they are solid state that they are bad. It's because of poor build quality, and the way they are either trying to emulate a "tube-like" response, or marketed as sounding "tube-like" when actually they just sound crap.
Good solid state amps do exist, and very few of them are even close to sounding anything like tube amps - they sound like solid state amps, playing to the strengths of solid state technology. That is to say that the clean tones are extremely transparent, almost as if they don't influence the tone very much at all, enabling you to just hear yourself playing your guitar with nothing added to the signal. A lot of jazz players like this. The overdrive tones are often very unconventional and and an aquired taste to say the least, but can certainly be usable even though in contrast with the clean transparency they tend to cover up a lot of the subtleties of your guitar's tone and how you play. While that's a disadvantage, they have a very tight, consistent output that can be beneficial for laying down rhythm parts that might particularly need that, as just one example. Some people are understandably put off by the very gritty, grinding quality of a lot of solid state overdrive tones though - but that doesn't make them bad.
I think the stigma regarding solid state amps is that the way in which tube amps colour the tone and the way they react to being over-saturated to produce that very organic overdrive sound was already established as an integral part of the electric guitar's sound by the time solid state amplifiers arrived on the scene, and as a result a lot of people find solid state amps lack that "essential" ingredient required to make a guitar sound like their perception of how a guitar should sound. I think part of the reason i like solid state amps is because i grew up listening to my dad's old records, and i always found the post-punk/new wave stuff sounded very "fun" and particularly liked to listen to it, and a lot of these bands were using solid state amps - as a result, as much as i love tube amps in a lot of situations, sometimes i find they leave something to be desired - the tightness and the consistency of the tone, that can only be achieved from a solid state amp.
Ultimately i think it's worthwhile to expand your tonal pallette and make the most of the best of both worlds. Rather than avoiding solid states because you associate them with the cheap garbage manufacturers tend to put out today, or avoiding tube amps because you're scared of all the maintenance misconceptions you heard about from someone who was your age in the '80s, just accept them both as a feasable means of producing tones, and accept that they are different. If you're expecting a solid state amp to sound like a tube amp you're doing it wrong... and vice versa.
Right, for anyone who actually read that, thanks and i apologise for inflicting that level of boredom upon you. If you clicked it and didn't bother to read it... meh, you probably didn't care what i had to say in the first place
So today i've been on the phone to BAPAM (British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) and had them refer me to a specialist in Clifton, Bristol, because for the last week or so i've had aches and pains in my left hand when playing guitar, typing on a computer, writing (i'm left handed) etc. since friday i decided to rest and it is on the mend but i ought to wait until i can get it checked up first.
the moral of the story is, take a 15 minute break after every hour, and do your warmup exercises. Being in a small urban terraced house on the corner of "the frontline" with not a lot to do because everything you like to do involves using your hands in some way is no fun at all.
A few weeks ago i put a deposit on a lovely 1973 Gibson SG with an ebony fretboard and a gibson-brand bigsby style vibrato tailpiece, and i'm currently in the process of paying for it.
The guitar is in quite good condition, and 100% original parts - you can tell it has been well played, but it's still got decades, maybe even centuries of life left in it yet. cosmetically, the cherry red has faded down to an attractive walnut brown type finish, there are a few little dings and a lot of checking on the headstock veneer.
but it plays beautifully. it really reacts so well to how you play it, and is very very easy to play, too. it's absolutely superb. the neck profile is very comfortable too.
an interesting quirk is that the pickup selector was wired in the wrong way round in the factory, or at least, that is the only logical conclusion as to how the "rhythm" position is the bridge pickup and the "treble" position is the neck, and the volume/tone controls work according to this reverse-wiring. Because quite frankly there's no reason why anyone would go in and wire in the switch the wrong way round unless they were replacing pickups or something and didn't keep note of which wire went where - it would make sense if the guitar had aftermarket pickups or pots, but it's all stock
so on to the sound - the bridge, or "rhythm" position on this guitar, connected to the top set of volume/tone controls (somewhat obscured from view by the bigsby trem but not a huge problem), has a very thick, chunky sound that is just pure rock 'n' roll. a snappy, snarly but somewhat mellow woody attack which is hard to describe, complimented by smooth singing sustain rich in fundamentals - very defined and clear.
the neck pickup (aka "treble" position lol) is more of the same - less of the biting attack and a bit warmer and more rounded, very dark and smooth but very clear and defined like the bridge pickup - no mud whatsoever.
i like the fact that the different pickups have the same kind of sound and the difference comes from the differing position - it generally tells you that you're hearing the guitar and not the pickups, and if it sounds good like that, you know you've got a good guitar.
I haven't got to test the gibson-brand bigsby yet as the shop owner tends to lock down trems, or remove the arm, to stop people abusing them in the shop - remember these are vintage, subtle vibrato units that you got on the old gibsons - not crazy whammy/divebomb units. But the bigsby trem is my favourite style of trem because they hold tuning very well and you have a lot more control over the subtleties of the fluctuation in pitch.
I should have this guitar in my hands in a month or two for now i can just look at the photos from the shop's website. i have uploaded these photos to my profile, too - stock photos, but they are a picture of the actual guitar.
So anyway i just got a line 6 pod studio UX1 for recording at university and let me tell you, i'm very impressed with the sound quality of the included pod farm software.
sure it's digital, it's software, it's not a real amp, in fact, it's not even an amp at all, but here's the thing: obviously the vox AC30 setting for example, sounds like "a line 6 digital approximation of a vox AC30", and you can tell it's not the real deal, but so what? It sounds good, and it does the job it needs to do - cuts through the mix in the same way a vox AC30 would.
And that brings me to another thing - actually, if i had a real AC30, obviously i'd be very happy with it as a gigging amp and an amp for almost anti-social practice, that goes without saying, it'll do that a whole lot better than any modelling software ever will. However, considering that i'm recording in a medium size bedroom in a terraced house in a very urban area, would it even be physically possible to get the quality of the recording as good as the sound quality of direct recordings from pod farm? i mean sure a shure SM57 isn't expensive, and i could probably position it right and do it well enough, but the acoustics of the room, combined with the inability to crank up the amp to its maximum tonal potential, means i just couldn't get the best out of it, and pod farm automatically gives me a better recorded sound than i could possibly get using the real deal - and a lot more flexibility too.
Of course, i'm not saying that real amps are obsolete in recording studios because they are not and if i ever happen to be recording in a real studio with proper gear i would definitely choose to use an amplifier and mic it up - but for home recording (unless you can afford your own sound proofed and acoustically treated purpose-built home studio, sadly i can't), i think that amp modelling software such as pod farm is the way to go.
Well it's whatever the hell time it is in the morning, i'm still awake, etc etc etc..
just played a local gig with local covers band which was a lot of fun, and there were some rumours going round that i can only hope are true. A certain member of the audience whose name i shall not mention, is rumoured to want me to join his band whose name i shall also not mention. Yeah.
If this works out, i will reveal nothing because i want to be able to use UG without being harassed, and if it doesn't work out, i will reveal nothing because i'll feel like such a prick for bragging about it only for it to come to nothing anyway
So anyway... I just got back from a band practice - i use my solid state HH electronic VS-Musician amp for practice to preserve my t00bz for teh gigz!
The other guitarist (who is a lot older and wiser than i am) told me that this solid state sounds better than any of my other amps and that i should start using it for gigs instead of my trusty old Laney VC30. His reasoning was that the HH sounds much clearer and more defined, even though the distortion has a much rougher, edgier quality to it. Also it's very tight sounding. Of course, i do love the sound of this amp for chord work but it just doesn't sound "lush" enough for my leads. But he likes it better.
He also uses a line 6 spider III 150 watter and gets better tones out of it than UG would believe to be possible - shows how far knowing how to set up an amplifier will take you if you're a good player.
Basically, i am questioning the legitimacy and accuracy of any information people have to tell you on UG or other similar boards - the standard responses, "don't get a spider", "tube is better than solid state", "digital sucks", "gibson is overpriced", "schecter is awesome" etc. As i rarely see a trend towards these sort of 'bandwagons' (for want of a better word/phrase) outside of the internet, i guess my point is... the internet is a great resource for biased opinions and general misinformation given by the misinformed and plain stupid. The only thing i think you can truly learn about anything from message boards is "don't believe everything (or anything, for that matter) you read on message boards".
But that leads me on to something - i genuinely saw a line 6 hater - he turned up at our practice - fair play to the guy he did offer to lend us some nice powered monitors for our upcoming gig. But he had very biased anti-line 6 opinions. He said the other guitarist's tone was "far too brittle because it's a line 6" when it was clearly my tone that was brittle because i'd just switched from a les paul to a telecaster and forgotten to make some EQ adjustments before we'd played through that particular song. Ah well, haters gonna hate, no matter how intelligent or experienced they are with these things, and there's nothing that can be done to change that.
But you know what? fuck the haters. When you buy a particular piece of gear, buy it because you like it. Most people won't care about the tone, but then there'll be people who like it and people who hate it, just like there'll be people who like your playing and people who hate your playing. No matter how good you are at what you do, some will love you for it, and some will hate you for it, and some will be completely indifferent - you can't please everyone.