billroper: (Default)
I went to the petting zoo tonight.

For guitars, that is. The Taylor Road Show was in town and -- despite the best efforts of traffic to keep me away, which included a wreck that blocked I-290 inbound and clogged every north/south route in the area, plus two wrecks that I drove past on surface streets on the way there, one of which was bad enough to get its own mention on the radio traffic report -- I made it there.

It was a good presentation. I got a chance to lay hands on a couple of the new maple-bodied guitars and determined that they had some lovely characteristics, but they weren't the right guitar for the way I play. And I was shown a 710 model with a Martin-like V-shaped neck that helped remind me why I like Taylors. :)

There was one gorgeous custom guitar with cocobolo back and sides that was sold during the presentation before anyone could get their hands on it. Obviously, there is an advantage to having money and knowing what you like.

But I am all guitared up -- for now, at least.
billroper: (Default)
So Gretchen is buying me a new guitar for Christmas. What this means is that I am charged to arrange the guitar which will then be appropriately wrapped for Christmas and placed under the tree, because guitars are a very individual thing. So the last time I was at The Guitar Works, I asked Terry if he carried the line of guitars that I was interested in and he said that he did. Well, that was convenient. :)

Last week, I called him up and asked him to place the order. He contacted his sales rep and it turns out that he hadn't bought enough guitars from this particular manufacturer recently to be able to order a single guitar, but if he ordered $5000 worth of guitars, they'd be happy to send him the one that I wanted as part of the package. This was a few more guitars that Terry wanted to get from that manufacturer right now, so he called me back and apologized for not being able to get the guitar, which I certainly understood. He also gave me some pointers to other dealers in town that I could get the guitar from, which was nice of him.

I ended up ordering the guitar from one of the local dealers via Amazon, because that meant that I didn't have to pay City of Chicago sales tax. And a couple of days ago, the new guitar arrived. It's an electric baritone tuned B to B, which gives me a new guitar voice in the collection. Of course, it had to be checked out, so I plugged it into the amp and made sure everything was working correctly, which it was. And I played around with some chords...

The last couple of days, I pulled out my desk guitar and worked through the chords and produced the following song:

Lyrics inside... )

Gretchen approves. :)

And the new baritone guitar is back in its box, waiting for Christmas.

And Julie is enjoying playing with the outer shipping box...
billroper: (Default)
Many years ago, my mom and dad took me to the music store in Belleville. There, I picked out a red Gibson Melody Maker guitar and started two years of guitar lessons with Mr. Masloski. I learned a few things, the most useful of which -- other than the general ability to figure out where to put my fingers on the frets! -- was picking up the Chet Atkins style of fingerpicking from his beginners' books on the subject.

After we moved to Guam, my amplifier failed and I ended up putting the guitar down for many years until roughly my junior year of high school when Sam moved in next door. He also played guitar and had a working amplifier. We spent a good amount of time at his place plugged in and playing together very badly. :) But I was playing again.

Not too long after that, we traded in the Gibson on an Epiphone six-string acoustic which (happily!) did not require an amplifier. This gave me many more options for playing and I started picking up music books: Beatles Complete, The Songs of Paul Simon, America Complete, the complete Jim Croce collection. I learned a lot about playing guitar from playing those songs and songs from other collections that I snagged. (It was many years later that I finally realized that the reason that I couldn't make my fingerpicking sound like Jim Croce's was because there were two guitarists. Humph. I learned a lot by trying though. :) )

And I found filking, which taught me more about playing guitar (with thanks to Wulf and Barry) and showed me that I really could write my own music.

Thanks all!
billroper: (Default)
As I said the other day, I am not in the market for a guitar.

On the other hand, I got an e-mail from The Guitar Works advertising their upcoming closed door sale. And I haven't been over there to say hi in a very long time, because the store that used to be just up the street from where I lived when I first moved to Chicago is a lot farther away now. So I asked [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise if it was ok if I went over there and poked around.

She said, "Sure! And take my old child-size steel-string guitar and see if they can make it playable, because we have two girls and one working child-size guitar right now."

Terry's been pretty good about turning cheese slicers into much more functional guitars for me over the years -- usually not my guitar, but a guitar belonging to a friend, so this seemed like a good idea. I headed in and found him in the shop, we compared notes on our kids (his oldest is graduating from college this year), and he filed down the nut and restrung the guitar so that it's much more playable.

And I headed over to look at the guitars on the wall.

And it struck me that I might actually be able to use a new guitar to take when I'm flying somewhere, because I would feel really bad if something happened to my old Guild six-string. So I pulled a 110ce down to look at it.

And then I went to the desk and bought some picks so I could tell what the fool thing sounded like.

Ok, that's a little thin. Of course, I'm used to playing a 710 of one stripe or another, so that wasn't really a surprise. The 210 seemed a little thin too. The 310 was better, but now we were starting to get into more serious money.

And there was this dinged up Taylor hanging on the wall -- old enough that the headstock looked different from the other Taylors. I pulled it down and played it. Ok, dinged up, some belt buckle rash on the back, but it sounded just fine. I might want to get a pickup installed in it if I were to buy it, because that would be handy. Oh, wait. Someone has installed a pickup already on the top inside edge of the sound hole. Hmm.

I find Terry and ask him if he can tell me about the guitar. It turns out that it had belonged until recently to the owner of one of my old favorite restaurants in Evanston. He decided he wanted something newer with more accessible controls, so he'd traded this beastie in.

And I called Gretchen, who the girls had been making crazy. And I told her about the guitar.

"If you want it, buy it. I should make someone happy today."

(As I said, the girls had been making her crazy.)

So it followed me home.

And I now have a 1983 Taylor 710.

Of course, it's a 710. I apparently have remarkably consistent taste...

Don't Fret

Oct. 19th, 2012 06:03 pm
billroper: (Default)
So with OVFF coming up next weekend, last night was a wonderful time to catch a splinter in the tip of my middle finger on my left hand from the banister as I went downstairs for dinner. Unfortunately, it was embedded in a way that made it stubbornly resistant to my and [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise's attempts at removal last night. I decided to see if it worked its way out overnight.

No such luck. But with a bit of assistance from a straight pin and a pair of tweezers, the offending itty-bitty bit of wood has now been removed, slight bleeding has occurred, and the healing process is underway.

Because it would be really annoying to have an infected, inflamed fingertip just in time for OVFF... :)
billroper: (Default)
I saw the start of tonight's Cardinals / Rangers game six of the World Series before we left for dinner and was gratified to see that Garcia got out of a nasty jam giving up only one run. By the time we got back to the car, the Cardinals were still (and again) trailing by one run.

We got home and I watched the Cardinals tie it up 4-4, leaving runners all over the base paths. There are sabermetric studies that say that clutch hitting is mostly a matter of luck. Sadly, the Cardinals had been having a shortage of hitting of any kind since game three and absolutely no clutch hitting in game five or game six, it seemed.

Lance Lynn promptly cacked up back-to-back gopher balls in the top of the seventh to the first two hitters. I was disgusted. The Rangers scored another run before the inning was over. When the Cards failed to score in the bottom of the seventh, I decided that it was a good time to clean out the corrosion in the battery compartment of my guitar that had shut down the pickup at OVFF in the middle of the Pegasus Nominees Concert. I got [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise to toss the cotton balls down from upstairs, where she'd taken Katie and Julie for a bath, I grabbed the tweezers and the isopropanol from the basement studio, and then went to work swabbing blue-green crud out of the compartment with wetted cotton balls and alcohol.

About a dozen cotton balls later, I was done. Allen Craig hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to cut the Rangers' lead to two runs, but Feliz was coming in to pitch the ninth, so nothing good was likely to happen.

In the meantime, I grabbed the amplifier, plugged in the guitar, got a tremendous peal of feedback that caused Julie to sit straight up from being almost asleep ("What was that?!"), and then adjusted things and verified that the guitar was now working properly. I sat back in the chair, noodling on the unplugged guitar, shifting between C9 and Asus2.

As I said above, nothing good was likely to happen. Until it did. Pujols doubled off the wall with one out, Berkman walked, Craig was retired for the second out, and then David Freese improbably tripled off the right field wall with two strikes on him to tie the game.

And then Molina made the third out and we headed off to the tenth inning, where Motte gave up a two-run dinger to Josh Hamilton. Ack! Here we were again.

Off to the bottom of the tenth. Descalso singled off Darren Oliver. Jay blooped a single to left that reminded me of the Texas ninth in game two, where the Cardinals lost in an inning that including a similar unreachable single. Out of position players, La Russa had to send up Lohse to bunt the runners over, which he did. Then Theriot grounded out, scoring Descalso from third, but leaving Jay on second with two outs. Pujols was walked intentionally, because not putting the winning run on base apparently doesn't apply when pitching to him. :) And then Berkman singled home the tying run with two strikes on him as the Cardinals came back from a two-run deficit for the second inning in a row. Craig grounded out and we headed to the eleventh.

And in came Jake Westbrook. Buck and McCarver announced that when Westbrook was pitching well, he would get a lot of ground balls. Fly out, single, fly out, ground out. Yeah, not pitching all that well, but well enough so that the Cardinals weren't facing another deficit going to the bottom of the eleventh.

I played more C9 and Asus2.

And then David Freese came up to lead off the bottom of the eleventh. And he hit the ball past the center field fence for the game winning home run.

And there was much rejoicing in St. Louis. The Cardinals had won, 10-9, and were the first team in World Series history to come back twice from two-run deficits in the ninth inning or later and the first to score in the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings.

And we get to play game seven tomorrow.

Who'da thunk it?

I may watch the entire game with my guitar in my lap, playing C9 and Asus2. :)
billroper: (Default)
I saw the start of tonight's Cardinals / Rangers game six of the World Series before we left for dinner and was gratified to see that Garcia got out of a nasty jam giving up only one run. By the time we got back to the car, the Cardinals were still (and again) trailing by one run.

We got home and I watched the Cardinals tie it up 4-4, leaving runners all over the base paths. There are sabermetric studies that say that clutch hitting is mostly a matter of luck. Sadly, the Cardinals had been having a shortage of hitting of any kind since game three and absolutely no clutch hitting in game five or game six, it seemed.

Lance Lynn promptly cacked up back-to-back gopher balls in the top of the seventh to the first two hitters. I was disgusted. The Rangers scored another run before the inning was over. When the Cards failed to score in the bottom of the seventh, I decided that it was a good time to clean out the corrosion in the battery compartment of my guitar that had shut down the pickup at OVFF in the middle of the Pegasus Nominees Concert. I got [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise to toss the cotton balls down from upstairs, where she'd taken Katie and Julie for a bath, I grabbed the tweezers and the isopropanol from the basement studio, and then went to work swabbing blue-green crud out of the compartment with wetted cotton balls and alcohol.

About a dozen cotton balls later, I was done. Allen Craig hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to cut the Rangers' lead to two runs, but Feliz was coming in to pitch the ninth, so nothing good was likely to happen.

In the meantime, I grabbed the amplifier, plugged in the guitar, got a tremendous peal of feedback that caused Julie to sit straight up from being almost asleep ("What was that?!"), and then adjusted things and verified that the guitar was now working properly. I sat back in the chair, noodling on the unplugged guitar, shifting between C9 and Asus2.

As I said above, nothing good was likely to happen. Until it did. Pujols doubled off the wall with one out, Berkman walked, Craig was retired for the second out, and then David Freese improbably tripled off the right field wall with two strikes on him to tie the game.

And then Molina made the third out and we headed off to the tenth inning, where Motte gave up a two-run dinger to Josh Hamilton. Ack! Here we were again.

Off to the bottom of the tenth. Descalso singled off Darren Oliver. Jay blooped a single to left that reminded me of the Texas ninth in game two, where the Cardinals lost in an inning that including a similar unreachable single. Out of position players, La Russa had to send up Lohse to bunt the runners over, which he did. Then Theriot grounded out, scoring Descalso from third, but leaving Jay on second with two outs. Pujols was walked intentionally, because not putting the winning run on base apparently doesn't apply when pitching to him. :) And then Berkman singled home the tying run with two strikes on him as the Cardinals came back from a two-run deficit for the second inning in a row. Craig grounded out and we headed to the eleventh.

And in came Jake Westbrook. Buck and McCarver announced that when Westbrook was pitching well, he would get a lot of ground balls. Fly out, single, fly out, ground out. Yeah, not pitching all that well, but well enough so that the Cardinals weren't facing another deficit going to the bottom of the eleventh.

I played more C9 and Asus2.

And then David Freese came up to lead off the bottom of the eleventh. And he hit the ball past the center field fence for the game winning home run.

And there was much rejoicing in St. Louis. The Cardinals had won, 10-9, and were the first team in World Series history to come back twice from two-run deficits in the ninth inning or later and the first to score in the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings.

And we get to play game seven tomorrow.

Who'da thunk it?

I may watch the entire game with my guitar in my lap, playing C9 and Asus2. :)
billroper: (Default)
Ok, this seems counterintuitive. I'm playing around with picks of various gauges. It seems like it's easier to play softly (that is, with less volume) with a heavier gauge pick than it is with a lighter gauge pick.

Hmm.
billroper: (Default)
Ok, this seems counterintuitive. I'm playing around with picks of various gauges. It seems like it's easier to play softly (that is, with less volume) with a heavier gauge pick than it is with a lighter gauge pick.

Hmm.
billroper: (Default)
The food poisoning is slowly getting better, but I decided that the better part of valor was to work from home today. So I logged onto the home computer and the work computer, VPNed into the network, and have sent out a couple of e-mails that roughly boiled down to "Did you know we need to fix this?" I'm now waiting for the responses.

Working at home usually involves leaving the office door closed so that Katie can't get at the computers that I'm working on. Since she and Julie were sleeping quite late today, this wasn't a problem until a few minutes ago when Katie started pounding on the office door, realizing that Daddy must be on the other side. I was feeling like lying down for a few minutes anyway, so I headed off to the bedroom where we attempted to keep Katie from bouncing on my stomach while handing her the various stuffed animals that she demanded be taken off the headboard and given to her.

A few minutes later, she hopped off the bed and started slapping my guitar case, shouting "Poo! Poo!" Well, yes, that is Daddy's problem...

Oh. Pooh!

So Mommy pulled out the guitar and Daddy played "The House At Pooh Corner" for Katie. And now they're off to the park and I'm back at work.
billroper: (Default)
The food poisoning is slowly getting better, but I decided that the better part of valor was to work from home today. So I logged onto the home computer and the work computer, VPNed into the network, and have sent out a couple of e-mails that roughly boiled down to "Did you know we need to fix this?" I'm now waiting for the responses.

Working at home usually involves leaving the office door closed so that Katie can't get at the computers that I'm working on. Since she and Julie were sleeping quite late today, this wasn't a problem until a few minutes ago when Katie started pounding on the office door, realizing that Daddy must be on the other side. I was feeling like lying down for a few minutes anyway, so I headed off to the bedroom where we attempted to keep Katie from bouncing on my stomach while handing her the various stuffed animals that she demanded be taken off the headboard and given to her.

A few minutes later, she hopped off the bed and started slapping my guitar case, shouting "Poo! Poo!" Well, yes, that is Daddy's problem...

Oh. Pooh!

So Mommy pulled out the guitar and Daddy played "The House At Pooh Corner" for Katie. And now they're off to the park and I'm back at work.
billroper: (Default)
One of the dangers of being a guitarist with a recording studio in the basement is that you're always looking for new and interesting ways to make sounds without having to learn an entirely new instrument. This occasionally leads to severe cases of keyboardist envy, given the ways that modern synthesizers can do a pretty good to excellent job of mimicing other instruments in the hands of the well-trained keyboard player.

In pursuit of this, I acquired my Godin Multiac Jazz and Roland guitar synthesizer, having been alerted to this combination by that amazingly talented victim of GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome), [livejournal.com profile] min0taur. I haven't yet had a chance to spend a lot of time exploring the beast, because of the birth of Katie and the subsequent death of two of the ligaments in my knee. I did get to spend enough time playing it to determine that the combination was cool and that when I played this guitar -- as opposed to the Les Paul that I'd traded for it -- the notes that came out actually sounded like me, instead of someone who was completely clueless trying to figure out what to do with an electric guitar. ;)

In similar fashion, Barry's experiments with a pieced-together acoustic baritone guitar led me to have Frankenbass, the electric baritone, assembled from a Fender Telecaster body and a fine Warmoth baritone guitar neck. This turned out to be an eminently successful experiment that even made its way onto [livejournal.com profile] catalana's recent album.

Yesterday, though, I tripped over a new instrument that I had never seen before. Perhaps Barry has, but -- if not! -- I'm happy to return the favor to him.

Behold! The six-string banjo.

Fitted with a guitar neck, strung like a guitar, tuned like a guitar, played (more or less) like a guitar. Sounds (more or less) like a banjo.

I really didn't need to know this. :)
billroper: (Default)
One of the dangers of being a guitarist with a recording studio in the basement is that you're always looking for new and interesting ways to make sounds without having to learn an entirely new instrument. This occasionally leads to severe cases of keyboardist envy, given the ways that modern synthesizers can do a pretty good to excellent job of mimicing other instruments in the hands of the well-trained keyboard player.

In pursuit of this, I acquired my Godin Multiac Jazz and Roland guitar synthesizer, having been alerted to this combination by that amazingly talented victim of GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome), [livejournal.com profile] min0taur. I haven't yet had a chance to spend a lot of time exploring the beast, because of the birth of Katie and the subsequent death of two of the ligaments in my knee. I did get to spend enough time playing it to determine that the combination was cool and that when I played this guitar -- as opposed to the Les Paul that I'd traded for it -- the notes that came out actually sounded like me, instead of someone who was completely clueless trying to figure out what to do with an electric guitar. ;)

In similar fashion, Barry's experiments with a pieced-together acoustic baritone guitar led me to have Frankenbass, the electric baritone, assembled from a Fender Telecaster body and a fine Warmoth baritone guitar neck. This turned out to be an eminently successful experiment that even made its way onto [livejournal.com profile] catalana's recent album.

Yesterday, though, I tripped over a new instrument that I had never seen before. Perhaps Barry has, but -- if not! -- I'm happy to return the favor to him.

Behold! The six-string banjo.

Fitted with a guitar neck, strung like a guitar, tuned like a guitar, played (more or less) like a guitar. Sounds (more or less) like a banjo.

I really didn't need to know this. :)
billroper: (Default)
Katie has, of late, taken to demanding that I open up the guitar case upstairs, pull out the guitar, and play for her before she goes to bed. She then says, "Up!" So I assist her way onto the bed where she strums at the guitar and then starts dancing all over the bed while I play Midnight Girl for her. This is occasionally a hazard for Julie, but [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise does a pretty good job of protecting her from her older sister.

This is all the more entertaining, because my expectation is that I will someday give that guitar to Katie. It's my first Taylor that I bought with some of the money that we inherited from Gretchen's mom.

Giving that guitar to Katie leaves open the question of what I intend to do for Julie about getting her a guitar. Of course, neither girl will be getting a guitar at that level for some years. In fact, by the time that I get around to passing along the first Taylor, good guitar wood will be getting quite scarce.

"The best thing for me to do", I remarked idly to Gretchen, "would be for me to go buy another appropriate Taylor for Julie while it's still possible to buy a fine wooden guitar for a reasonable sum."

This got me The LookTM.

Well, I was only kidding, as I explained to Gretchen.

Mostly.
billroper: (Default)
Katie has, of late, taken to demanding that I open up the guitar case upstairs, pull out the guitar, and play for her before she goes to bed. She then says, "Up!" So I assist her way onto the bed where she strums at the guitar and then starts dancing all over the bed while I play Midnight Girl for her. This is occasionally a hazard for Julie, but [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise does a pretty good job of protecting her from her older sister.

This is all the more entertaining, because my expectation is that I will someday give that guitar to Katie. It's my first Taylor that I bought with some of the money that we inherited from Gretchen's mom.

Giving that guitar to Katie leaves open the question of what I intend to do for Julie about getting her a guitar. Of course, neither girl will be getting a guitar at that level for some years. In fact, by the time that I get around to passing along the first Taylor, good guitar wood will be getting quite scarce.

"The best thing for me to do", I remarked idly to Gretchen, "would be for me to go buy another appropriate Taylor for Julie while it's still possible to buy a fine wooden guitar for a reasonable sum."

This got me The LookTM.

Well, I was only kidding, as I explained to Gretchen.

Mostly.
billroper: (Default)
I'm going to make an analogy here that may get a bit strained by the end, but let's see where it takes us.
And away we go... )
billroper: (Default)
I'm going to make an analogy here that may get a bit strained by the end, but let's see where it takes us.
And away we go... )

GAS

Dec. 27th, 2004 02:27 pm
billroper: (Default)
That's Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, for the uninitiated.

After auditioning guitars over the weekend, I concluded (and [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise concurred) that getting a Taylor spruce-top with the Expression system electronics so that I could go in direct as well as via mic and get two different sounds to blend would be the best thing for recording. So I headed back to Guitar Works today and played a number of guitars, one of which has come home with me.

Gretchen no longer has to worry about "not having gotten me enough for Christmas". :)

GAS

Dec. 27th, 2004 02:27 pm
billroper: (Default)
That's Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, for the uninitiated.

After auditioning guitars over the weekend, I concluded (and [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise concurred) that getting a Taylor spruce-top with the Expression system electronics so that I could go in direct as well as via mic and get two different sounds to blend would be the best thing for recording. So I headed back to Guitar Works today and played a number of guitars, one of which has come home with me.

Gretchen no longer has to worry about "not having gotten me enough for Christmas". :)
billroper: (Default)
Ok, that was interesting.

I've been wondering if there was anything that could be done to improve the rhythm guitar which I recorded on my last album, Seven Miles a Second, when I go to record the next album, Falling Toward Orion. I recorded it using my Taylor 710, which is a cedar-topped guitar and which normally sounds pretty good, but the mics didn't like it as much as I'd hoped. So I borrowed some guitars from Terry at The Guitar Works in Evanston and [livejournal.com profile] daisy_knotwise and I headed off to the basement to do some recording.
Results inside )

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