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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Uploaded a few covers...

Current mood: embarrassed

So, today I took a plunge and uploaded a few covers I recorded last week. My wife and my youngest brother did the vocals, and I did everything else. The drums were done with a sequencer and the piano and orchestral parts were programmed MIDI for the most part. I played the guitar and bass on each track. They are a little rough, especially the beginning of the cover of Breed where my timing is a little bit off. I was mainly just making myself post something online to get over my fear of criticism.

Hopefully I will have some of my original stuff ready to post by the end of the 1st quarter of 2013.

9:16 pm - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Saturday, September 15, 2012

Home Studio Make-Over

Current mood: confused

So, doing a makeover of my home studio – this is what is on my list so far:

Focusrite Saffire 6 USB Audio Interface (to replace a Line 6 Toneport UX2 and a Vox Jamvox)

JBLControl 2P Compact Powered Monitor System(to replace M-Audio AV30 and Vox Jamvox)(I may still flip flop to the Tannoy Reveals or something at the last minute, but these seem like a good idea at the moment)

Audix Cabgrabber (to replace crappy Musician’s Gear boom stand)

Electro Harmonix Switchblade + (for low technology amp blending)

Eden WTDI Direct Box/ Preamp (to replace Fender Bronco 40 and Line 6 emulators)

I’m kind of at a loss on which direction I want to go with the drums. I’ve been using FL Studio 9, and I like the control of creating my own patterns with my mouse, and the software I’m looking at seems like you can only play on your midi workstation or use a pre-made pattern. Does anybody have any suggestion for some drum software that also gives me the option to just fill in grids of the actual measures?

4:10 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Pedalboard

Just got my Pedal Pad AXS II in the mail today, loaded my pedals up and now have to pick a new power supply, and a few supplemental pedals. That'll probably have to wait until next month, unfortunately. The thing about replacing a multi-effects unit for analog pedals is you get used to having a lot of options and using them, and so I'm trying to find the smallest number of pedals to meet my needs. It has been a struggle. Right now I still have to choose which Octaver, Tremolo and Ring Modulator I want. I think I've decided on the Vox Wah, gonna get rid of my Crybaby. Fun Stuff. The Carvin V3M Combo will come after the pedals are straightened out, then I have to sell off my Blackheart Little Giant and my Peavey Transtube 212 EFX.

As an aside, the Pedal Pad is not a bad board at all, great for the road or if you have small children that may tamper with your equipment. It is easy to put your pedals up and they are pretty much tamper proof in that box. Awesomeness.

As an updated pedal list, my complete list of pedals once I finish shopping should be:

Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Pedal Tuner

EHX Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi

Rocktron Reaction Octaver

Rocktron Reaction Tremolo

DigiTechXMC Multi Chorus Digital Multi Voice Chorus Pedal

Digitech Synth Wah

Ibanez Delay DE7

EHX Freeze

MXR M195 Noise Clamp

MorleySteve Vai Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Pedal

12:05 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Tuesday, April 03, 2012

new Carvin

Current mood: excited

I just received my new Carvin DC145M yesterday. It is alder body, 5 piece maple neck with walnut stripes, Claro Walnut veneer, with coil tap and phase switches, 24 jumbo stainless steel frets on an ebony fingerboard and locking tuners. I will post more pictures soon, as well as complete a review on it in a few weeks.

10:27 pm - 1 comments - 1 Kudos
Friday, February 10, 2012

Pedal Board Mania

Current mood: contemplative

So, I'm putting together a new pedal board that is going to be centered on getting some of the weird music playing in my head out of my amp. My overall goal is to record a full album of the weirdest possible, mostly instrumental, craziness in my head. The amplifier I will be using for this aural experiment will be a Carvin V3M combo which I will be ordering in about a month. I will be using a Carvin DC145M with C22 pickups, and also a G&L S500 for the guitar parts. Of my existing pedals I will be keeping my EHX Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi and that is all. I will be selling my Vox multi-effects, as well as some assorted delays, choruses, etc. I've convinced myself that I will need the following pedals to get started:

EHX Freeze

MXR Blue Box

Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive

In the name of trying to give myself the tonal diversity of getting the really crazy sounds in my head out of my amp, I am also considering the following pedals, but I am not sure yet, except I’m pretty close to sold on the Rocktron Reaction pedals:

EHX Electric Mistress

DigiTech XSW Synth Wah Envelope Filter

Rocktron Reaction Octaver

Rocktron Reaction Tremolo

Rocktron Hypnotic Flanger

I got a chance recently to sit down at a friend’s house and play with some truly weird pedals and just realized how naturally I was taking to them and noticed that I was able to recreate some of the weirder stuff I hear in my head a lot of times. Almost like an industrial type sound but with more melody and less rhythmic repetition. Anyway, working on making this a reality, so any pedals anyone can point me towards that does something really unique then please let me know.

I'm also going back and forth on which powered pedal board to get...right now I'm leaning more towards a Gator board - anybody have any suggestions to check out?

3:11 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Thursday, September 22, 2011

TOP TEN Reasons that Adrian Belew is the most awes

So, I’ve come to realize the most amazing guitarist ever is Adrian Belew and that there are facts that back this up. I will list the TOP TEN reasons why Adrian Belew is the most awesome guitarist ever:

10- Adrian Belew has worked with everyone. Literally. Everyone. Adrian Belew has worked with NIN, Tori Amos, William Shatner, David Bowie and Paul Simon to name just a very few.

9- Adrian Belew was a member of Talking Heads for a while, and the only reason he didn’t take over as the frontman and get Byrne kicked out is because he said no.

8- Adrian Belew started a side project with some members of Talking Heads called The Tom Tom Club and when they started being petty and ripping off his songs he didn’t sue them and start drama, he just left and said I got better stuff to do than to play with you chumps.

7- Adrian has produced and played on 3 different Mexican rock bands which is just weird enough to be cool.

6- Adrian was one of the first guitarists to ever use a guitar synthesizer on a regular basis on albums and in concert and furthered the art of guitar in the process.

5- Adrian wrote the most awesome King Crimson lyrics ever from the album Elektrik, which include the songs ‘ProzaKc Blues’, ‘Facts of Life’ and ‘The World is My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum’.

4- Adrian has managed to release 16 studio albums while also collaborating with everyone and being a part of like half a dozen bands.

3- Adrian has possibly the most amazing signature guitar ever made – the Adrian Belew Signature Parker Fly which has variax and MIDI compatibility, a sustainiac pickup and weighs under 5 pounds.

2- Adrian Belew has worked for both Robert Fripp and Frank Zappa, who are two of the most insane mad scientist guitarists ever.

1- Adrian Belew manages to make his guitar solos sound like animals, machines, insects or like he is in a fistfight with his guitar. Often, his solos manage to be both extremely abrasive and expressive at the same time.

And really, the most amazing thing about Adrian Belew is that he looks like a raving lunatic when he is on a stage and he doesn’t seem to care about anything except making music.

11:50 pm - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to Basics, week 5

So, obviously updating this blog on a weekly basis isn’t working out. I’ll be updating sporadically instead.

I’m on week 5 or so with my new practice regiment with the Troy Stetina “Total Rock Guitar” book. I’m working on the 4th song now, while still working on perfecting a few things with the 3rd song. While I feel more confident in my playing, I keep discovering weaknesses in my playing I didn’t see before. I’ve noticed a bad habit I have with my economy picking when I have 2 or more consecutive up picks I sometimes “drag” the pick across the strings and kind of take too long and messes up my feeling of the time. I’ve been noticing this with 8th notes at high tempos and 16th notes. I’m working on a side exercise to fix this in addition to the other things I’m doing.

I’ve started using foot tapping and head bobbing and such to keep time, which is helping immensely. I’ve been experimenting with my overall guitar tone trying to sound good playing along to different recordings. I discovered that if you mix a Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi with a Blackheart Little Giant with the Triple Bypass Mod in the middle position, all the knobs on the distortion side of the pedal turned to 75% or so you get a really gnarly distortion tone. Kind of like a chainsaw. Awesome for some of the heavier King Crimson stuff I like.

I’m still pretty happy with my progress, though I initially planned to move through the book a little faster. Still primarily focused on getting rid of extraneous string noise, etc.

I’ve noticed that I feel a lot more comfortable coming into a song after it has already started and just locking into the time immediately. Before if I came in after a song started I always felt like I was struggling to keep up with it after that. That is probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far.

11:53 pm - 2 comments - 1 Kudos
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Back To Basics, week 3

Current mood: cheerful

So, I missed posting a blog at the end of week 3 due to an insane work schedule. Basically, I’ve missed two days of practice because of my insane work schedule, etc., recently. I’m still working on the third song in the Troy Stetina ‘Total Rock Guitar’ book, but I’ve also been trying to apply what I’ve learned to some other songs, revisited a few riffs I wrote a while back trying to flesh them out into songs, really tested my improved sense of timing with some King Crimson songs. I may actually be posting a cover of “Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With” from the live King Crimson album ‘Elektrik’. It isn’t the most difficult song in the world to play, but the timing is tricky and it is fun to play.

I’m still seeing a lot of good progress and really the biggest take away is I don’t know why I haven’t been practicing along with tracks of songs before now as it seems to really be making me memorize song structures, play with tighter timing and seriously feel worlds more confident in my playing. I feel like all the time that I spent not practicing like this was wasted time, and honestly with my previous poor practice habits a lot of that time probably was wasted. I know before there wasn’t a clear line between my playing and practicing, and I think that maybe that is okay if you don’t really have any specific goals with guitar, but it is a hindrance if you are trying to get to a specific point in a specific timeframe.

The third track in the Troy Stetina book is called ‘Alt./Grrrl/Power Pop’ or something like that, but it really sounds like a mixture of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Bikini Kill. The music you play along with in the book isn’t groundbreaking awesome, but it is absolutely the best tracks to play along I’ve found with any similar books, etc. I’m still enjoying this immensely, but I’m still trying to get to a consistent habit of about 1 hour of practice a day. I’m eager to see where I’m at after 6 months. (I’ve got 3 more Troy Stetina books when I get done with these)

1:28 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back to Basics, Part 2

So, I’m still going through Troy Stetina’s ‘Total Rock Guitar’ every day. I’m practicing anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. I’m trying to get in at least an hour a day, but haven’t got there yet – trying to balance other life issues with practice. I’ve still been primarily practicing the chapter 1 and chapter 2 songs, and have been familiarizing myself with the song in chapter 3 (as I don’t like to look at tabs when I play). I’ve noticed as I slowly improve, my standards for what is acceptable in the way of timing and extraneous string noise have become stricter – as a result my playing has become much tighter and cleaner.

Okay, one thing I’ve noticed is that I’m able to “internalize” songs a lot faster than before – what I mean by that is basically teaching the songs to my muscle memory so I can play them without thinking about it. I’m actually learning more about song structure in general, as well. My initial plan was to try to move through the first half of the book at one chapter every 2 or 3 days, but I’ve kind of scrapped that idea. I’m going to move on after I feel like I can consistently nail the tracks in perfect timing without any extraneous string noise. I think this will start out slower than I first anticipated, but I think I will speed up as I go. I’ve noticed that songs that I could already play I am playing better. I’ve been making myself play along with CDs and I’m learning parts of songs that I didn’t mess with because I’ve had a bad habit of only learning what I felt like were the important parts – the main riff, verse, chorus, etc., but now I’m learning bridges, pre-chorus, etc. and putting it all together and it feel more natural.

I previously mentioned the trouble I was having when moving between rhythmic and melodic playing, and this is slowly improving. My wife says she doesn’t hear the ‘hiccup’ that I’m talking about when I switch anymore, but I can still feel it so I am still working on it. I would like to get to a point where I can make music come out of my guitar in the same way I hear it in my head, but I’m still a little way from getting there. I have noticed where previously I’ve had trouble coming into a song if I don’t start playing with it, or coming back in if I mess up or quit playing for any reason, but I’m finding it really easy now to jump in at any point. I put the song I’m practicing on repeat, and start it playing, then go get my guitar, hook up my amp, etc. and then just jump in wherever the song is at without hesitation. This is a big improvement for me.

I’ve been considering the merit of working on exercises in Troy Stetina’s ‘Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar’ as well as ‘Total Rock Guitar’, but I’m not sure if I can afford to take the focus and split it between two books right now. When I find a good balance and get in the hour of practice a day consistently, I may devote just 15 or 20 minutes to Speed Mechanics and see how that works. I would love any comments from anyone else who uses the Troy Stetina books, and any feedback they have about it. Or any comments on anyone else who has tried to go back to the basics and re-teach themselves removing their bad habits. :peace:

10:42 pm - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thoughts on Reggae

So, I've been really into Reggae music lately. This happened very suddenly and is really surprising to me as I normally am not into this type of music at all. First, anyone who has any good reggae artists to recommend, then please comment with this info.

I've made 2 observations listening to reggae: 1. Reggae music really does seem to make me not be stressed out., and 2. Seems like when I quit listening to Reggae music I get stressed out quicker, so maybe it works like drug addiction - hah.

I was reading about the guitar work involved with reggae and really interesting to find the 'original' meaning of the work skank (upbeat) because where I come from it has a completely different meaning. I'm working up the gumption to sit down and try to write some reggae, maybe, but the approach to guitar is so different than my current playing style I've kind of been putting it off. Anybody here play any reggae?
3:33 am - 1 comments - 0 Kudos
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