Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I picked up a pair of studio monitors at my local music shop on Christmas Eve. I was getting tired of playing through my headphones and mixing with them. It's liberating to just have speakers to play through. I could use my amp to use amp/stompbox modelling software but I couldn't get it to sound right. These monitors are neutral so I know what I hear will sound pretty much sound the same on my ipod.
You can hear all the little nuances, and it forces me to clean up the tracks that insert into songs. Here's a link to the speakers:
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I've been recording for the past two weeks and I'm getting the hang of it. After my second night of fiddling with Tracktion 3 I recorded a quick mash up of We're Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister) : Downlard the MP3. I later recorded some other tracks. You can listen to more at my website http://www.sloppystrings.com/.
I found a little software on the web called Beatcraft to generate drum beats and insert into Tracktion as a track. I then record through Tracktion 3 to accompany the drum beat. In the song Breaking the Law (Judas Priest) I even included a bass section for the song.
I'm just learning this recording and mixing business but it's a real good time. I look forward to learning more and improving my tracks.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I finally received my new pickguard in the mail Friday. It only took three friggin weeks! Ah well, at least I got ite. I bought it off Ebay for about $30, shipping included.
I had no idea what it would look like underneath the pickguard. The first surprise was that the volume/tone buttons are bolted to the pickguard. Same with the pickup selector and pickups. That's great because pickguard's holes were not placed exactly like my old one so I didn't have to modify the pickguard too much.
I only encountered a few little problems: 1) one of the screws for the double pick up somehow got stripped so I had to make an improvised bolt for it with wood. 2) The other thing is that the pickup selector hole wasn't the same as my other one so I had to use a drill to expand it a bit. 3) the double pickup hole wasn't big enough for my pickup so I had to file it down (the pickguard) to make room for it.
I really should have cleaned the fretboard because it's pretty bad dirty. I'll have to look into what products to use; I have no idea. I also have to get new screws to hold the pickguard too because the old ones are a bit rusty. Shouldn't be a problem finding that.
Now I have to choose what color pickups and knobs I want to use. I might just get a black double pickup for the back and keep the front ones white. I might get one of those Zebra (1 black 1 white) double pickups I've seen around. I'm not sure what color knobs I want to use either ... black, or keep the white ones.
The whole project took about 2 hours. I know they next time I'd be able to do it in about an hour.
One thing that never occured to me: My Les Paul and Lado are the same color! I mean just about identical. Their both vintage (cream) white. I like it.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I found a video on Youtube that also helped me learn to play barre chords. The main thing he stressed was to practice doing the chords with the free fingers. For example, you'd usually play the E with the first three fingers of your fretting hand. But to learn to do barre chords quickly you should first play the E with the last three fingers. Once you can do that, you just barre the entire fret with your index finger. Easy as pie ... yeah sure. I've been practicing barre chords for the past week. I'm really getting there but the G shape variations are still pretty tough. Getting there.
Keep on rockin' and strummin'.
Oh, here's the Youtube videa I was talking about:
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I hope I keep this ritual because it'll help me progress a lot faster.
OK back to practicing.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I was so pooped by the time my wife got home at 7:30. I get to be Mr Mom Monday and Tuesday nights. I went to bed for a "quick" nap which unfortunately lasted until 6:30 am this morning so I didn't get a chance to play with it. Hopefully tonight!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
This is a photo of my first real guitar I got when I was in grade 9. My first guitar was a red Gisbon SG copy my parents bought me to see if I'd stick with it, then help me get a good one later.
It's a Hawk series by Lado. I can't find much about it on the Web but I know Lado is a Canadian guitar company. They are real high end guitars but mine is one of the Korean cheaper models. I bought it used at the guitar shop.
I wanted to get a black pick guard, but it got me thinking that I might try to just spray paint the pick guard since I know any new pick guard I'd get wouldn't fit perfectly plus I'd have to cut a big hole for the humbucker pick up the previous owner had installed. Then I thought maybe I could just take the pick guard off, trace it on wood or plastic and cut out the holes. I might even install a piece of plexi glass to show the guts. We'll see. I'll see what kind of materials I can find at the hardware store.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I've been looking at pedal modelling for the past few days since I wanted to get a delay pedal and thought this might be a solution instead of getting more pedals.
I currently have BOSS Equalizer, Chorus, Flanger, Heavy Metal, Fuzz and a Pro Tone Fuzz pedal and the Slash Wash pedal.
I decided to get a Line 6 XT Live pedalboard. This beast has all kinds of presets in it for all kinds of stompbox effects and amp modelling. I can also record with it since it has a USB in/out. I'll be able to to download oher effects that people share on the Web . I'm likely going to get rid of everything except my EQ, Heavy Metal, Pro Tone Fuzz. I might keep my flanger pedal because it's so sweet. We'll see.
My only concern is that it appears to be quite big. If it's a problem I'll just sell back on Ebay and get the Line 6 XT "bean" and get a smaller pedalboard to go with it.
It's all good. It seems like all I talk about on here is gear but I have been practising a lot. I'm picking up speed every week.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
I'm about 200 pages into of the new Slash Autobiography. What a character. It starts with his life as a young hooligan, hanging out in the streets of Hollywood. He discovers the guitar at 15 then goes on to dedicate most of his time to playing.
I hope he's not one of those artists who are dead set against music piracy because they're pissed that their music gets stolen. He's stolen so many things from so many people and businesses, mostly music related stuff.
It tells of how Guns n' Roses got together and the crazy stuff they did. They were all broke, crashing out at different friends, screwing anything that moveD. I find out that Slash was a heroin addict ... maybe he still is? They took forever to find a producer and a manager for their band. Basically Slash was a friggin' mess when the band first got together. Drinking and doing drugs all the time. They'd smash anything their management group would provide them, such as apartments, equipment, rental vans, etc. It sure is an interesting read.
I have been looking at a wah pedals and settled for the Slash signature Cry Baby pedal. It looks sweet and I like Slash's sound. I got it off Ebay which was the cheapest I could find. The Canadian dollar increased significantly in value over the US dollar so it makes buying US stuff a no brainer. Five years ago a dollar Canadian would only get you $0.62 US. Now the Candian dollar will get you $1.07 US. Thank you George Dubayah Bush for fucking up the US economy and getting your currency devaluated.
I've been listening to some Guns n' Roses all week, and I must say that I'm impressed by the guitar work. Slash really has some sweet melodies to carry their music. G n R was never one of my favorite bands but now I've really come to appreciate their stuff. The Slash Bio gives a lot of background on the songs they prepared for their debut album Apetite for Destruction.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Mental note ... buy books online. The increase of the Canadian dollar over the US green back has not hit brick and mortar stores yet. I could have bought it a lot cheaper online. I don't mind because it's a great book.
I never really paid attention to Slash and his guitar playing, even though a lot of people see him as a guitar God. I listend to some Guns n' Roses last night again and listened to his guitar work. Wowsa. I love his style.
I've read about 50 pages of the book so far and I'm hooked. It starts off with his years as delinquent teenager, the result of a broken home. He discusses how he became a kleptomaniac, stealing complete catalogues of tapes of bands he liked. His passion was BMX until he discovered the guitar, which completely changed his focus in life. I look forward to hearing about his crazy stories as a rock star.
This should be a great read.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I already learned the first riff, now I'm working on the second one, which is part of Eruption. Eddie has always been my favorite guitarist so I'm super stoked about getting this. I'm using my second guitar, which is a Strat copy with a Floyd Rose system so I can go nuts like Eddie.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
OK back to playing. I'll write more about it tomorrow. Woohooooo!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I went to the guitar store and checked out the Les Paul Studio models. Sweet. I want the Alpine White one with gold hardware. I'm going to see if they can take it back, taxes and all, and give me a credit to buy the Gibson Model. It goes for $1200 US so I'll see how much they want for it. $1200US is about $1140 Canadian. I think I saw them at $1500, which is quite a spread. I'm following the exact same guitar on Ebay with the auction finishing in 24 hours. If I can get a good deal I might go that route.
Still practicing with the lesson I got off ebay that I mentioned yesterday. I did the Super Chops Workout #1 which covers alternate picking and Hammer on/Pull offs. It really is a workout. You start on the first string and alternate pick 1 2 3 4 then 2 3 4 5 up to the 12th ascending then descending. You do this for all 6 strings. Then there were things like 1 3 2 4 and 1 4 2 3 up and down the fretboard for all 6 strings. Then hammer on starting on the 6th string 1 2 3 4, then when you reach the first string pull off back to the start ... up and down the fretboard again.
My left hand is sore. Rock on!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I popped in the DVD for the first one is the Jam Guitar DVD. Pretty much garbage. First off, the guy who does the video is a geeky dork. I think I'm like most other guitarist wanna-be's out there: "I wanna be that guy" is what I should feel. Euh not this one. The stuff he teaches is so basic that it's crazy, plus he just sits in front of some drape for a background. The production quality is in the crapper. He'll be showing the notes "This is C, D, E oops no this is E" I'm just gonna leave it with a rating of 1 1/2 sloppy strings out of 6. The only reason it gets 1/2 sloppy strings is that it might be usefull for a TOTAL beginner. Waste of money at $9.95. There are tons of better learning videos on Youtube.
The second video is called How I Got Killer Guitar Chops While I Was Still in High School: Confessions of a High School Shredder
Wow! What a title but what a package for $19.99! The course comes with 3 CD-ROMs: 1 e-book and 2 audio CDs for the exercises. The author taught himself a disciplined approach in high school to really improve quickly. He went on to go to University for music and and later write a bunch of books. The course contains a systematic approach to improving your guitar skills. He encourages you to use the Student Log to track your progress. The excercises are grouped under Alternate Picking, Hammer-Ons and Pull Offs, Stretching, Tapping, String Skipping, Sweep Picking, Scales, Arpeggios, Songs, Additional Areas of Study, Super Chops Work-outs (his own combination of stuff). You track your date, duration, and metronome tempo used for each exercises. I did the first two exercises of Alternate Picking which wasn't too bad because i had been practicing that a lot with scales, so I could get 200 beats per minute fairly easily. Then I tried two Hammer-on / Pull off exercises. I did each for 3 minutes with a tempo of 120 bpm. My hand cramped up.
I'm super stoked about this course. I had been looking at a way to give more structure to my learning and this fits the bill perfectly. I haven't gone through all of it but I will give it a tentative 5 sloppy strings out of 6 because I can truly see how this will help any guitarist improve dramatically by using a structured approach vs. going at it randomly. The only thing I'd like to see would be a bit of video thrown in for motivation, though I really don't mind the format it has been presented in.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The first one is titled How I Got Killer Guitar Chops While I Was Still in High School: Confessions of a High School Shredder. This one seems pretty interesting. It came with 2 audio CDs and a CD with and e-book with hundreds of pages.
The second is called Jam Guitar DVD. I'm going to throw it in my DVD player and check it out right now. Apparently you can go to their website to download the tabs.
I'll write little reviews later.
Monday, October 22, 2007
It's a weekly show produced by Pipes and PT. They typically do a Guitarist Of the Week (GOW) where one of the two picks a great guitarist to review. This is great because I've learned about guitarists I had never really paid attention to. It also inspires me to check out the guitar work on new albums. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
They also pick a song every week, usually from the Podsafe Music Network that highlights great guitar work .. very very very inspiring stuff. They review stuff they've tried, interview industry professionals, think up cool little contests and they're funny as heck to boot. They're just a pair of laid back guitarists who like to share their passion for guitars with the world.
I'm on a mini marathon, having listened to episodes 13 to 30 in the past two weeks and I plan on listening to all of them (84 episodes so far).
I also have to introduce myself in their forum section. Seems like a nice little community in there.
Check 'em out:
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Now I can teak my sound on the comfort of my couch while watching Sunday Night Football.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I also found this great Online Drum Machine if you want a custom beat to accompany chords or scales.
I'd like to find an online metronome where the tempo increases at whatever intervals you want. For example, you could set it to increase by 2 or 5 units of tempo every 4 notes. It would help me build up speeds in increments. I'll keep looking.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I found this Great Exercise on Guitarists.net. What's nice with that lesson is that it showed me that I have to remember to be efficient with my picking. For example, on the first three notes I was doing Down, Up, then Down for the next string, when I should have been doing Down, Up, then Up again to the upper string. Works for me!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Oh yeah, I cranked both my amps this morning. Kaabrrrriinnnnngggggggg! Even my little 10 Watt Orange Crush amp cranked it up. It's amazing how such a small amp can blast away. The 40W lender was great but I can't wait to the get the one I'm supposed to get: Traynor YCV50 Blue . The music shop said I'd get it by Friday but I doubt it.
I got tired of bringing my pedals to the basement living room when I watch football/tv so I decided to build a pedal pad. I bought a black shelf piece at home depot and stuck some industrial velcro on it: female end on the board and the male end on the pedals. Then I drilled two holes on top and created a handle with rope, cardboard and duct tape. It works great. The top part is raised with a foam tube I screwed to the shelf piece. I'll have room for a few more pedals.
I'm home alone tomorrow again so I'm going to blast the big amp some more playing Black Dog.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
When I started playing again a few weeks ago I decided to learn how to play it right. When I briefly played 20 years ago I just tried to figure out songs by myself. Play the song, rewind, try it on the guitar, rewind, try it again, get frustrated and try a new song. Repeat until bored.
I decided I'd use the web to learn guitar stuff. I googled "beginner guitar mistakes" to try to avoid common booboos. To my great surprise, I was holding the pick wrong. Rough start. I also realized that everyone was preaching the need to practice scales. Ew. So I tried a few scales I found HERE to learn how to use alternate picking (up, down, up, down, up, down) since I always only used downstrokes. I actually like practicing them now. Tonight I watched football while pratcicing the scales. I also learned that I should use a metronome while practicing scales, so I got one.
I also found an interesting site on short solos HERE. I noticed that I'm already getting faster at picking and moving from fret to fret.
Tomorrow is the big day : I'm on vacation and I have the house to myself. I'm going to crank my two new amps and see how they sound. Right now I'm using like 1/4 of the way to the 1 level on each. Poor neighbors tomorrow.
Well back to watching football and practicing my scales. I learned part of the intro solo of Fade to Black by Metallica over the last few days with the help of Guitar-Pro. I'll post a short video here so I can cringe later.
Tonight I' m going to look up For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica. That should be a fun song to play. Cheers Folx.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I walk in and ask for the guy I dealt with yesterday. He tells me they rented the amp I had put on layaway ...
x'squeeze me. "Rented? Until when ?" "There was a mistake. ". "Euh dude, I'm on vacation all of next week and I need my friggin amp". "Sorry we can rent you a Marshall Stack for free, I'm so sorry" ...
Anyways, I ended getting the 40W model lower on the totem pole than the one I wanted. I didn't want to get the one above it (80W) because I'd end up buying it. That's the bad news ... the good news: that 40W amp friggin rocks! I'm still getting the 50W though. Apparently they'll get my amp by the end of next week.
I just have to figure how I can kick out the wife and kids so I can crank it and break some windows ...
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It had been sitting in its case for almost all that time. I always wanted to start playing again after high school but I never got around to it. Actually I took it out late year when I set up my "Man Room" in my basement with my 46" LCD tv and mini fridge. I still didn't play it much. Two weeks ago I was listening to the White Stripes and I thought to myself: "I wanna play like him". So I pick up my guitar (Lado Hawk - pictures later, I'm sure, and my Peavey Studio Pro 40) and realize why I quit ... I had no idea how to play now or back then. A couple of power cords, that's it. It didn't stop me from forming a band in the 9th grade to play Crazy Train and a few other songs in the talent show. That's the last time I played in front of an audience. I formed a band in the 10th grade to play a few Anthrax, Metallica and Celtic Frost bass lines. That didn't last long. Then came the drinking, the girls, the high school graduation, the MBA, the job, the house and mortgage, the first kid, the second kid, the pot belly. Now here I am having decided to get into guitar again.
Back to the White Stripe thing. I knew about Guitar Pro, a software that shows the tabs. for the notes on the guitar fretboard. I learned the song Icky Thump and I was hooked ... bad. Real bad.
So last Saturday I went to our local music shop to take a look around, having decided that if I'd play until Christmas I'd get a new guitar. So I walk around the store and drool for about an hour, and fall in love with the Les Paul Guitar. I go online that night and start looking and drooling some more, so Tuesday at lunch time I order an Epiphone Alpine White Custom Les Paul:
Hmmm how do you get this thing to post a hyperlink with text and not an address? Beats me.
They had a black one but I really wanted the white one. The friendly salesman told me they'd get it in 10 to 20 days. I'm a big boy; I can wait. I also put a new amplifier on layaway because I didn't have the van with me. I'm going to trade in my Peavy Studio 40 for the amp tomorrow after work. It's an all tube 50 watt amp and sweeeeeeet. More about it tomorrow. In the meantime I got a small Orange 10W amp at lunch today to practice and carry around the house. I can't wait to starting cranking the new 50 watt tuber.