Saturday, December 18, 2010

Further Proof That I Am Not What You Would Call a "Collector"

I tend to end up with more than one example of things, such as bikes and motorbikes, guitars and amps, records, books, and comics...but I don't consider myself a collector, necessarily.  I'm just a guy with 15 different pocket knives, all of which have been carried and sharpened so they are usable.

Collectors own things simply to own them.  To a collector, a sharpened knife is ruined, and any modification of whatever it is that they collect makes that example inferior to one in a completely stock state.

But, this isn't a post about collectors.  This is a post about a guitar I just bought;  a 1969 Harmony H-82G Rebel, just like the one I owned 30 years ago, when I was in college.

Here I am, playing that guitar circa 1980.

I have a soft spot for the thinline-style Harmony hollow bodied electric guitars.  One of my all-time favorite guitars I have ever owned is a 1966 Harmony H-72, which is a slightly more upscale model than the Rebel.  I bought my H-72 in unused condition back in 1997, and had it sitting in my coffee shop.  Lots of people played that guitar there, and many wanted to buy it.  Luckily, I never made a deal on it.

I've missed my Rebel, ever since the ex-wife talked me into selling it, along with about 10 other guitars, shortly after we bought our first house.  She was of the opinion that all of those guitars were wasting space.

Anyway, I decided, a couple of years back, that I would like to get another Rebel, preferably the rarer Avocado Green model like I had in the old days.  So, I started watching eBay, and bidding on them.  I always seemed to get outbid by $5.00, because I have a maximum amount that I am willing to pay for one of these.  Finally, last week, I ended up winning one.

I was ecstatic that I had finally scored one of these guitars. 

It was a little rough around the edges, but it is over 30 years old.  They can't all be as clean as my H-72.  So, I was fine with it, cosmetically.

What I wasn't too happy with, though, was the tuners.  While they appeared to be stock, they were actually a collection of parts from three different sets of tuners.  Click the picture to make it big, and check out the screws and cogs on each tuner.  The top tuner has a replacement cog (and post, which you can't see from here), but it at least works.  The third tuner down has a replacement cog, which is the wrong size, and is almost impossible to turn.  This rendered the G string virtually non-tunable.

I tuned the rest of the strings to the G, and plugged the guitar into my amp, and tested it out.  The neck is great, the sound is fine, and playing it was like stepping back in time.  It was everything I wanted...except tunable.

That was last Monday.  I spent this week thinking about what I wanted to do.  Should I find a set of six-on-a-plate original-style tuners and keep the guitar "stock", or should I just use the extra set of Telecaster-style tuners I picked up in Waynesboro, Tennessee, last summer?

Here's what I decided on:

I re-drilled the headstock for the nicer tuners and bolted them down, this afternoon.  I'm not worried about resale value:  I don't plan on reselling this guitar on the collector's market.  It has found it's final home, more than likely.  So, rather than replace the non-usable stock tuners with a newer version of what are, after all, sub-par units, I decided to make the guitar easier to deal with when I am playing it.

Here, for comparison's sake, are the Rebel and the slightly more upscale H-72.  Some of the upgrades on the H-72, compared with the H-82 include the block inlays on the fingerboard, as opposed to the dots on the Rebel...

and a bound headstock, where the Rebel's headstock is unbound, along with nicer tuners (though they are still six-on-a-plate).  The tuners on my H-72 are stock, but they still work well and I see no need to replace them until they become problematic.  At that point, I will go with the same style tuners I installed on the Rebel. 

I need to find some knobs for the sliding potentiometers.  That's another place where I will end up with not-as-original parts, mainly because I can't find a source for the originals.  It's unusual to see one of these with all of the knobs there, so it seems like some vintage guitar parts vendor would stock replacements, but none do.  I suppose it's a pretty small market, even if 90% of the owners of these guitars are in need.

I love the green color, and the back of this guitar is in pretty decent shape.  It's not unusual to see a lot of belt-buckle rash on these, as the paint is not particularly durable.

So, here's the full Monty, with the new tuners.  I think we are going to make some interesting, if not beautiful, music, together...


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Progress on the Tele

 A couple of weeks ago, I actually got the Thinline Tele put together.  I used the original bridge, with the string stops cut off and notches cut into it to clear the new Tune-O-Matic style bridge, to mount the bladed humbucker in the lead position.

I accidentally cut the notches a bit too wide, and you can see the pocket for the pickup at one corner of the plate.  I picked up a cheap Tele copy for parts, at the pawn shop, the other day.  So, I have another bridge to use, in order to make it look a little better.  I think I will eventually take this one off, use it as a template (with the correction to fix the problem), then take it somewhere to have it cut with a plasma cutter.  Using the tools I have, it's difficult to make it pretty.

For now, though, I am just going to leave it.  It works, and the imperfection of the pickup mount is of small concern.  I am more interested in how it plays and how it sounds than I am with how the tiny details look.

And, it plays and sounds the way I've always wanted a Telecaster to be.  This is the first one I've had on which I like the sounds of both pickups, and I love the feel and playability of it.  It's definitely a keeper.

I'm eventually going to sand off the decals, and re-varnish the headstock.  I don't want any confusion about this being a Fender, or a Squire, or an anything.  I've mixed and matched and modified the guitar and its parts to the point that I claim it as my own.  For now, the crow sticker from the weird thrift-store acoustic covers most of the stock decal.

Now, I just need to make some music with it...


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Telecaster Project

I was down at Guitar Center, the other day, to get some nylon strings for a Kay classical I repaired, and I stopped by the used guitar rack to check out what was there.  I was surprised to see a guitar I thought had been sold, back on the rack and significantly marked down.

 It is a Raines Thinline Telecaster copy.  I had looked at this guitar, when it was priced at $225.00 higher, and just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on buying it.  But, I wanted it prettry badly.  I have been looking for a Thinline, for a while, but the new versions at the store, whether the $300 Squire-by-Fender models, or the $800 Fenders with the humbucking pickups just don't sound as good as I remember the vintage ones sounding.

So, I pulled the Raines down and plugged it in.  Man, did it sound good!  The neck felt a bit weird, but the pickups were awesome, and the chambered body added some meat to the sound, unlike the actual Fenders I plugged in as comparison.  This guitar sounded like I expected a Thinline Tele to sound!

However, as one of the employees pointed out, there was reason the guitar had been marked down:

No wonder the neck felt a little weird!  It was as twisted as David Lynch's imagination.

Still, the sound was awesome, and I have a Squire Tele I bought a while back, with a bad switch and a horrible bridge pickup that I was planning on modifying.  I thought about it for about 20 minutes, as I bought my strings and took them out to the car.  Eventually, I went back in the store and bought the guitar (for less than the cost of the bare Thinline-style body from a guitar parts supplier), and started planning on the modifications I was going to make.

The first thing I did was pull the neck off of the Squire, and swap it onto the Raines (I have an e-mail request in to Matt Raines to see if he will sell me a replacement neck at a reasonable cost, so I can put the Squire back together).

One of the plans I had for the Squire was to remove the stock bridge/tailpiece combination and replace it with a trapeze-style tailpiece and a standard bridge.  So, I did that with the Raines.  I didn't bother making a plate to cover the pickup cavity, and hold the pickup in place, because I wanted to see if I liked the feel of this combination on the Tele as much as I do on the Harmony, the Gibson ES-125, etc.

It turns out that I do, so I will be working on a cover plate (and a higher-quality, adjustable, bridge) and I'll make it a permanent change.

So, here it is in its new form.  We'll see if Matt Raines comes through with a neck.  If not, I will probably leave this one on here (it's really a nice-feeling neck), and I'll find something else to put on the Squire.

An interesting problem has made itself apparent to me, lately.  For some reason, all of my guitars with single-coil pickups hum like mad, in my house, when plugged into my amp.  Now, I know that humbucking pickups were developed just for curing this problem, but the hum I get in my house is much more noticeable than what I get with the same guitars and amps, elsewhere.

I don't know if the wiring in my house is contributing to it, or if there is a microwave tower close by, irradiating the heck out of me, or what.  I've tried different outlets in the house, to see if it's a bad ground, but I get no difference from outlet to outlet.  Oddly, the Telecasters are the worst offenders, but the Harmony and the Gibson exhibit the same problem, just not quite as pronounced.

I have a humbucking Telecaster bridge pickup I may put in the Raines (I wouldn't change the neck pickup, since it sounds so good).  But, I'd rather find the underlying cause and fix it, so that I can play all of my guitars without all the noise, which is a real problem when I try to record something.  I find myself using the black Tele Custom with the two humbuckers to record, regardless of which guitar I think sounds best for a particular song, simply to get a clean track recorded.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Teisco Video


I shot a short video of me playing "Novocain Blues", just to show what the guitar sounds like.  You can barely hear the vocal, which makes it probably my best recording, ever!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Teisco Guitar!

This one followed me home from Tennessee...

I saw it hanging in the window of a music store in Waynesboro, where my nephews and I had driven 30 miles in order to buy a set of guitar strings.  When I asked about it, the owner of the store said that it was a project that he didn't think he'd ever finish.  It was missing the the tuner for the high E string, as well as the portion of the bridge which the strings actually sit on.  Plus the (probably black/red sunburst) original finish had been removed, at some point in time, and the wood was oiled (you can see the remaining original black paint inside the cutouts).  For a collector, it was close to worthless.

Still, I couldn't turn it down at the $50.00 the store-owner quoted me when I asked if he would sell it.  He assured me that the electronics were in good shape, and I took him at his word.  I've dealt with this fellow, before, and he's always been fair and honest with me.

This is the style of guitar that, 30 years ago, we would buy for ten or fifteen dollars, just to get the neck and pickups, then we would build our own body for it.  The body is a mere 1-inch thick slab of some sort of hardwood (it has that mahogany look, but I'm no expert on woodgrain).  As you can see in the picture, above, the pickup sits on top of the body, rather than sitting in a routed-out pocket.  You can also see the replaced bridge piece which I had in my box of guitar parts.

The pickup, itself, is pretty basic.  No adjustment for height, nor any adjustment for the pole pieces is available.  This particular unit has a nice strong output.  Too bad the trim ring is cracked.

I had the missing pieces for the tuner, as well.  You can see the brass-colored gear and the yellowed plastic on the replacement tuner.

I made a bridge for it out of a report clip, while I was in Tennessee, and strung it up with the five strings we took off of Kyle's guitar (he had broken the high-E, yet again, and we replaced his strings with a heavier-gauge set).  I played it, and the tone was fantastic.  The intonation was crap, though, which was unusual for one of these guitars.  I finally noticed that this is one of the necks with a zero fret, on which the strings should rest.   Someone had installed a standard nut on the neck, which was holding the strings up off of the zero. 

After I got home, I took the nut off, and cut the slots more deeply so that the strings would rest on the zero fret.  I then installed the bridge piece, strung it up and plugged it in.  Even though it has only a single, center-mounted pickup, a pretty wide variety of tones can be had through adjusting the tone and volume pots.  It sounds great and, since I shimmed the neck, slightly, the action is low and easy. 

I had originally thought I'd put it on ebay and flip it, but this is a keeper guitar.  I'll put the guitar I traded my ROAD Amp for on the bay, instead. 

Maybe this weekend, I'll do a short video of the guitar in action and post it up.  I don't have my good amp, right now.  It quit working as I was testing the guitar (no sound, but it still has power and the tubes glow),  so I had to take it back to Guitar Center for them to send to the Fender Warranty Shop.

I have a little 10-watt Marshall practice amp I can use, though, which I bought as a back-up unit.  The guitar sounds good through it (and I haven't tried it through my 1950s Kay tube amp, yet, come to think of it).

I'll get some video, one way or another.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Long Long Road

I have been working on a new version of a song, "RockerArm" that I wrote almost 30 years ago.  It was based on a comment Johnny Broyles made about his car, and I always liked the lyrics.  The original music, however, not so much.  Due to some extenuating circumstances within the "band", I had to dumb it down to two chords.

So, as part of my new music project, I wanted to do a better version of this song.  After recording and erasing seven different versions, I finally came up with one I like.  I was singing the song to myself during the 24-hour mountain-bike race, and finally came up with the sound I wanted.

Go here to check it out.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Invasion of the Japanese Guitars

Warning:  Those of you familiar with my Two Wheels blog know how I can geek out about bicycles.  Be forewarned that I am fully capable of doing the same in regards to guitars.
In the past month, I have acquired three vintage 1960s Japanese electric guitars.  All three were acquired at less than the going market price, for which I am grateful.  I am not the only one who appreciates these things, it seems, and the prices are well above the $5.00 to $20.00 I paid for similar instruments back in the late 70s/early 80s.

The first guitar I got, from eBay, is this nice Teisco ET-220 (Electric Tremelo 2-pickups),  also called the Spectrum 2.  The Teisco DelRey nameplate is missing from the headstock, so I have to assume the previous owner did not know the brand, nor did the "we sell your junk on eBay" company which listed it.  I happened to see the listing, but I think the Teisco collectors must have all missed it, since I got it for less than half of what a similar model sold for in the same week.

The Spectrum guitars have cool pickups with offset treble and bass pole-pieces.  Plus, they have the nice, flower engraved, pickguards for which the Teisco DelRey is famous.

The nicely bound headstock still shows the mark from the missing nameplate.

The ET-220 arrived complete with this cool vintage strap, as well.  I have seen these go for $25.00, on their own, lately.

This is the guitar for which I traded the ROAD amp.  It was presented to me as a Teisco, and while I am sure it was built in the Tokyo Electrical Instrument and Sound Company facility, I don't know if it was branded as a Teisco.  I have never seen a Teisco E-100 with the polished aluminum pickguard, but everything else matches up.  Of course, Teisco sold guitars with many, many different brand names to different importers/department stores/music store chains in the 1960s.

This guitar has the thickest, most baseball bat-like neck I have ever seen, which is good since it has no truss rod.

This mystery guitar, which I got in between getting the other two, shares a lot of features with the E-100-type guitar, above.  But, it also has some differences.

Other than the obvious difference in body profile, and two pickups rather than one, the neck on the mystery guitar is not nearly as thick as the E-100 neck.  And, it is a semi-set neck, rather than a pure bolt-on. 

Under that 5-bolt plate are two bolts holding the neck to the body.  There also appears to be some glue involved in the joint, as well.

Click this picture for the big version, and you can see the difference in neck thicknesses and profiles between the two guitars.

The pickups are identical, between the two, as are the tailpieces.

As usual, the two rocker switches are in bad shape.  I'll probably replace them with toggle switches, since I can't find replacements for the rockers.

I can't find a picture of an exact match for this guitar, but I have found some similar ones branded as "Winston" and "Zen-On".  I suspect that the E-100 was the same, due to the polished pickguard.

I plan on trying to get this one in as good shape as the E-100.  I stuck the one string and a bridge on it, just to see if the electronics work, and the tone is great, as it sits.  I think it will make a nice player, once it's spiffed up a bit.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Truth In Art

I recently read a blog (and I apologize that I forgot which one out of the million, or so, I've looked at lately) on which the author recounted a story involving his little girl.  Said little girl asked Daddy if all songs had to be true, to which he replied, "Yes."

I've been thinking about this a bit, especially in relation to a running disagreement that my ex-wife and I had for close to 20 years.  She believed that all songs were not only true, but literal.  And this applied not just to the writer, but to anyone singing the song.  It never made sense to me, and still doesn't.  But, the first time I ever sang Folsom Prison Blues in front of her, I sort of expected her to call the authorities and report me for that murder in Reno.

Growing up in a rabid Southern Baptist household, the ex was taught that the Bible was literally true;  no symbolism, no analogy...just 100%, factual truth.  Apparently, this was drilled into her well enough that she assumed every form of written or oral communication followed suit. If I wrote a song along the lines of "guy sees girl, guy wants girl, girl turns guy down", she assumed I had propositioned some poor female on my lunch break and got shot down.

Even songs I wrote for and about her never withstood her scrutiny.  In the song "Missing You", which I wrote and recorded over Christmas break, the first year we were dating, I wrote:

     Got a Corvette in my garage
     Got a Harley on the street
     Got a good guitar
     Now, ain't that neat?

     Got all of these things
     Now, what can I do?
     Still I'm not happy
     'Cause I'm missing you!

At the time, the Corvette and Harley were the epitome of vehicles, to my mind, and she knew that.  So, even though I didn't actually own them, I used them to illustrate the fact that her presence would mean more to me than any material posession ever could.  For some reason, since I wrote that I had these things when I, in fact, did not, she took it to mean that if I ever got a Harley and a Vette I would have no more need of her.  She actually threw this idea into an argument we had about a week before we split up, 16 years later!

Fact of the matter is that "Missing You" was probably the most profoundly true song, figuratively and literally, that I had ever written, up to that point.  Other than the motor vehicles, virtually the whole song came from experience:  She was at her grandmother's house in Dallas, I wasn't, and I missed her greatly.

Why all the talk about a woman from whom I've been divorced for 12 years?  Well, my 25th wedding anniversary went by, this month, for one thing.  For another, this is one of the songs I plan to revisit as part of my recording project, and the concept of its continued truthfulness occurred to me as I was listening to the old recording of it.  In that (admittedly bad) vocal, I can hear the pain and loneliness I was feeling at the time.

So, will I be able to sing it, truthfully, at this late date?  I think so;  mainly because I do still miss that girl who was visiting her Grandma, 28 years ago, even though I don't miss the woman who divorced me 12 years ago.

Hell, there's a very true country song in there, somewhere.  Maybe I should write it out.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Ta-ta-ta-daa! (Blowing my own horn.)

One of my favorite websites is Skull-A-Day.  Brad turned me on to it a couple of years ago, since I was producing a lot of skull scuptures at the time.

I submitted my drawing, "100 Skulls" to the site a while back, and it appeared on the blog on May 12. 

It even got a couple of nice comments.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Guitars From Yesteryear

In my college years, I fell completely in love with playing guitar, and playing with guitars.  I bought this Yamaha FG75 at a pawn shop, for $35.00 and played it for many years.  I ended up selling it at a yard sale, after I had been married a couple of years.  As I recall, I got $40.00 for it.  Buy low, sell high! Dig the Farmer's Tan!

I picked this one up at a flea market.  It was made of plywood, had a bolt-on neck and no name.  I drew pictures on it, played it, and generally just knocked around with it.  I only sold it about 10 years ago.

This original Danelectro had been rattle-canned before I got it.  I removed the paint as carefully as I could, but the gold finish beneath the spray paint was still pretty damaged.  It's leaning on my silver-faced Deluxe Reverb.  Behind that is one of my favorite amps, ever:  A Silvertone tube bass amp with a single 12" speaker, which someone had mounted into a home-made Crate Amp-style cabinet.  I took that amp to Saudi Arabia with me, and moved it around for 20 years.  It gave up the ghost in 1999.

I still have the Big Muff Pi distortion box which is sitting on top of the Fender amp.  I bought it in 1979 (!), and I don't think I'll ever let it go.  It has the best punk rock distortion, ever.

I don't know what brand this guitar was.  I bought it for $20.00 from the local used-guitar shop in Martin, Tennessee (where I went to college), and the body was in 4 pieces.  I repaired the body, filled the low spots where splinters of wood had gone missing, then painted it and applied a psychedelic poster on top of the body and headstock, and clear-coated it with about 10 coats of lacquer.  I sold it for $100.00.

One of the guitars I obsessed about, for years, was the Gibson Flying V.  I was never able to afford a Gibson, but I bought this lawsuit-worthy copy from a music store in Saudi Arabia, in 1982.  I ended up selling it at the same yard sale at which I sold the Yamaha acoustic.  I don't remember what I got for it, which probably means I lost money on it.

This is a lawsuit-era (Gibson and Fender both instituted lawsuits against companies which were producing exact copies of their designs, in the 1970s) Harmony Stratocaster copy.  You could have put a Fender decal on this guitar and 99% of people wouldn't be able to tell it from the real deal.  Here it is on my dorm-room bed in 1983.

This guitar has been sitting in a local music store in my home town for 25 years, with a too-big price tag on it.  I traded it to them for something, back then, and they've never resold it.

Here is one of my Frankenstein guitars that I wish I still had.  It is a Norma (Teisco), in the coolest bass-boat gold metalflake ever.  The original Norma neck was bowed like something Robin Hood would carry around, so I replaced it with another Teisco-built neck, branded as a Kingston.  That neck was on 3 or 4 guitars through the years, but ended up on this one.

I have no idea where it ended up.  I may have given it away...I may have sold it.  Either way, I wish i still had it.

Dorm-room wall, 1983 or '84.  Left to right:  Framus semi-hollow body with tremelo tailpiece and painted-on F-holes;  Teisco Del-Ray thinline hollow-body with the Kingston neck installed and electronics from a Harmony solid-body;  Gibson S-1 purchased for me through the Employee Purchase Plan by my uncle, when he worked at Norlin/Gibson.

Ah, Pat Benatar...

Same wall, same guitars except for the pine slab "Olympia", with a single humbucker installed in a pocket routed out with an electric drill.  It actually sounded pretty good.

And, of course, the late, lamented Harmony Rebel in Avocado Green.  I've bid on 4 of these on eBay, within the last year, but I've never been willing to bid high enough to beat out the collectors.

I miss being able to find these old guitars for $20 to $50 in second-hand shops and small-town pawn shops.  eBay has killed that.

I wish I had pictures of some of the other guitars which came and went, back then.  For instance, I sold a 1968 Gibson SG Junior, with the original hardshell case, for $125...and I made a $50 profit on it!  You won't see that kind of deal again, any time soon.

Coming soon:  Guitars of Today.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Singing the Blues About Singing the Blues

 Obsessive?  Moi?

I have many blessings in my life, but my singing voice is not one of them.  I've worked on it, a lot, over the years, but I am far from a great (or even good) singer.  Yet, I feel the need, the compulsion, to sing my songs.  When I sing, you hear more of me than I can ever let out in any other way.  You often hear the expression "singing his heart out", and that is what you get with me.

I just spent some time reworking the vocals on "Hard Rockin'", the song I posted as a demo, last week.  I kept trying to make it sound "good", and I hated every take.  Finally, I sat back and thought about what I was doing.

The song is, obviously, autobiographical.  It's all about the pain of my marriage finally coming to an end after Val and I had been together for 15 years (married for 13), and about how I finally decided to get beyond it.  It's also an angry song.  Even though I am, for the most part, past the hurt, I'm angry that my life didn't turn out the way I thought it would. 

So, I did one more take, singing like I felt and not really worrying about making it sound "good".

I think I like it.

I don't know if anyone else will.

But, it gets across what I'm trying to convey, and that's what matters to me.  Once Mark gets a decent drum part down, to replace my crude attempts, I will consider this one done and start to work on the next song.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Graffiti On The Way Home

I have conflicting feelings about graffiti.  On the one had, I view it as a horrible invasion on someone else's property.  On the other, I think some of it is artistic enough to merit its existence.

I passed by this trailer, parked with 3 or 4 others, on my way home, tonight.  I turned the bike around and came back to look at it because of this:

I do a bit of drawing and painting, and I am amazed by the quality of this character.  I'm not sure what the medium is;  if it's spraypaint it's well applied.

Anyway, I consider this more in the area of public art than vandalism.  Of course, the owner of the trailer may disagree...


Saturday, April 24, 2010

On Recording Music

If you have listened to the demo of "Hard Rockin' " which I posted, earlier, you have heard an example of one guy (me) multitracking a recording to build a song, track by track. While some artists, such as Steve Winwood and Prince, prefer to work this way, I really would rather record with other musicians.

I like the give-and-take that comes from multiple musical outlooks and playing styles. Recording on my own, and doing the mix by myself, is similar to writing unedited. I am afraid that I hear what I want it to sound like, rather than what it actually sounds like.

So, I hope to have others involved in recording the final version of this song (and the others). Maybe we'll do it in a live band set-up, maybe with discreet tracks recorded separately. We may end up doing a bit of both, depending on the song and the situation.

I'll certainly have other ears in the room when mixing the master tracks. I know that my upper-range hearing loss will probably not lead to the best-sounding mix if I don't have someone else to listen to it with me.

I think the recorder is going to work well. I was a bit reluctant to go digital, as I am pretty well known as an analog guy. But, having done a bit of research on digital recording in the professional world, I figured out that what sounds less good to me is not the actual medium onto which the music is recorded. Rather, what sounds off to me is the compression that the mastering services apply to the tracks. They do this to make the song play well on the radio (it's similar to what the commercial producers do to make the ads louder than the shows on TV).

I tried hard to retain a bit of ambiance in the mix on this demo, and I was pleased with that aspect of it. I think my little low-ceilinged house is actually a pretty good recording space, too. I don't know how much the neighbors will like it if a whole band is playing, though.

Of course, it's not like playing on stage. We don't have to turn everything up to ten, to record. Small amps and damped drums work just fine when close-miked, so it might actually work out. If not, I have to find a rehearsal space to use. Problem is, that costs money that I don't want to spend.

I'm really excited about the project, and I have a couple of guys who seem interested in working with me. I hope to end up with some listenable music, and have fun producing it.

Stay tuned.


Lesson Learned

So, I just couldn't stand the vocals on that first try. It sounded bad, even for me. I re-recorded the vocals, this morning, using a plug-in microphone, and it sounds a lot more like me.

I also remixed the instrumental tracks, bringing the drums forward a bit. I'm no drummer, so please don't think to harshly of that track. I just thought the song needed a bit more percussive feel, to get the atmosphere I was looking for.

Let me know what you think.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Learning To Use the Tascam DP-004

I finally got a chance to sit down and play with the new recorder, today. After going through the introductory portion of the owner's manual, I thought I'd record and mix a song, just to see how everything works.

The vocals aren't great (but mine never are), even more so than usual since I was sitting on top of a practice amp singing at the unit on the table. It's a little hard to project, when you are bent at the waist. So, I sound a little thin...but, this isn't a final track. It's just practice with the recorder, after all.

Four tracks: rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals and drums. The guitar parts were recorded direct (plugged into the recorder, with no amp), using my 1966 Harmony that you see in the header at the top of the page.

The little recorder works nicely. Now, I just have to get some people together who can actually play these songs...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Problem With Some People

A small preview of the next comic book:

I'm striving to go a little more basic on the drawing and concentrating more on the writing.  Hope you like it.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tascam Pocket Studio

I just got a new toy necessary tool for musical expression. The Tascam DP-004 Pocket Studio is a 4-track recorder/stereo mixer that records to an SD card, making it possible to mix a song and then download it to your computer via a USB cable. From there, it can be sent electronically or burned to a disc.

As you can see, the unit is pretty small. It's small size, ability to run on 4-AA cells, and the built-in microphones allow you to use it as a portable recorder. Or, you can plug in the AC converter, plug in exterior mics to the two 1/4" jacks, and use it as a home studio mixer.

Built-in microphones

I have been looking for something like this, for quite a while. I'm not too confident that we are going to get the studio room at Metro (and, if we do, I don't know what kind of recording equipment they have), so I may be recording here at Dexter Street Studios. Musician's friend had these on close-out, and the price was just too good to pass up.

So, now I just have to learn how to use it. It looks pretty simple (no software to download, or anything), but I am pretty much able to screw up even the easiest instructions. So, I will be experimenting with it a bit, here and there, before trying to actually record anything for real.

Now, to find the rest of the band....


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Be Honest...

Is this not the creepiest thing you've ever seen?  It's a ceramic cup, 7 inches tall, that I found at the thrift store for a dollar.  I had plans to "enhance" it in some way, like I "enhanced" the ballerina prints. 

I just don't think I can do anything to it to make it any more horrifying, though.


...I stand corrected!