Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Studio Monitors

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

Jacko the Producer!

I've been playing guitar for two months and I wanted to start recording some stuff. My recording guru friend JMan suggested that I try Tracktion 3 because of its intuitive interface. It took me about an hour to get going but now I'm in love with it. I use my Pod XT Live to connect my guitar to my computer to record.

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

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


I've been looking for a mic in order to record a bit of vocals and different things. I went to my local store to see what I could find. The guy showed me the Apex 435 condenser mic with shock stand for $60. Since this type of mic needs "phantom power", I'm not exactly sure what that is but it's power to activate the microphone, I had to get a small mixing board with mic inputs and phantom power. He showed me the Behringer 802 for $90 which is great for what I need it for.
I also got a mic stand to go with it. I also had to get a mic XLR cable and and a stereo-out with 1/4" jack to go to my POD XTLive so I can actually record on my computer. The cool thing is that I got a $20 gift card from the store because of a special that week on the mixer, and the cables were actually part of the promotion for the mic. The whole thing cost me $175 and I'm all mic'd up and ready to go ... and with a cool little mixer too.
It took me about 30 minutes to set everything up and record clips with good levels.
Gotta love toys.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Pimp my Axe, Part II

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

Barre Chords ... Ouchie.

I heard barre chords were pretty tough. Conclusion ... yeah they're pretty tough. I found a neat little article in Guitar World that deals with barre chords. You cycle through E, A, D, G and C. I already knew these chords so that was a good start. By barring the next string up and doing the chords you move up one half step. E becomes F, A become A sharp, etc. You work your way up the neck. You're a tough man if you can make it to the 12th fret without stopping.

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: