New Year, New Stuff, New Plans…

I’ve been dreadfully absent for a little while now- wow, where has the time gone?
To be honest, I have actually been playing and practicing more than blogging and checking forums for gear. Also, my detachment I’m with is preparing for a deployment which I am helping out with. All this has left little time for me to write fresh posts. I know it is a little late, but here is a post of my “resolutions” for the New Year. I hope this clarifies what I hope to do in the coming months.

A note on resolutions/goals is this- they should be obtainable and quantifiable. Don’t say “I’m gonna lose weight this year” as that is too broad and difficult to measure. Say “I’ll drop 10 lbs at least, and compete in a 5k before the year is up.” Goal, match, bam!

So here we are:

  1. I want to write a minimum of 1 blog post a month here. I have 5 items I want to demo as gear demos. I hope to have these “ready” (maybe unpublished, but ready) by Summer.
  2. I want to lose 2 inches off of my waist, but maintain my current body weight. Since graduating med school I have lost alot of my ‘study belly’, but need to put a bit more effort into it. Being military, I am in pretty good shape, so this will just mean a slight change of workout and a better control of diet.
  3. I will work out 3 specific exercises at least 3 days a week to obtain my fitness goal. As the summer cools, I will start and finish  another advanced program (either P90x, Insanity, or something similar)
  4. I will dedicate 30 mins minimum 3 days a week to practicing my instrument, to better my skills, and to push beyond the current state of my abilities. This will be to improve and learn to be greater than what I am now. I make this statement as practicing our sets or finding lead parts etc… for our setlists do not count as the productive, learning process.
  5. I will continue to pay off my personal debts. (google “Debt snowball” for an idea of our process!)
  6. I will have 2 or 3 papers written by the summer to work on my Fellowship (professional thing).
  7. Never, EVER judge a piece of gear until played live with a band at performance volume. Several items I was going to trade off (or keep for that matter) sounded, felt, and mixed so differently at real levels. I kept stuff I normally wouldn’t and sold things I knew I would keep.

As I chase these goals- all very doable- I encourage you to make a few goals, and right them down. When its written, you see it and it becomes more real. Reexamine them every 3-4 months and modify as necessary to reach these goals.

Now for the gearhead stuff! I’ve had a pretty good few months for gear!

  1. Scored a Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire. What a great overdrive, and very natural with my amp, the Dr Z. I would say it has very little flavor as it own, but reacts well to your amp. I would go so far to say it is a “channel” on my amp and not a pedal. Very transparent. It isn’t as harsh as a Tim/Timmy, and more transparency and headroom than a King of Tone. The KOT has a bit more of a nasal sound in comparison. However, the KOT pushing this Holy Fire is an excellent smooth, transparent lead tone.
  2. Got a used Maxon OD9 for a cheap price, in new condition! This is a true bypass Tubescreamer from the guys that used to make it for Ibanez. Since I traded my good ol’ TS9 a couple years back, I’ve kinda missed it. This is a great replacement, and I hope to put the Analogman Silver mod into it soon.
  3. Have a Boss SD1 and a mod kit from Monte Allums. I hope to do a before/after demo. This should get my soldering skills up to stuff too.
  4. Build Your Own Clone Fuzz kit. Yup, more soldering and building. I figure if I want pedals, might as well learn how to deal with them!
  5. Found a ’96 PRS McCarty in Emerald Green for a pretty good price! It is a very different animal, but very lovely to play. I enjoyed the tones on it, but was really impressed when I played it live at gig volumes. Sits very well in the mix and layers with other instruments better than my LP. I really like it!

I hope this was encouraging and shows where my head is these days. I’ll be sure to give a gear recap/pedalboard pic soon. I also need to update my gear page. There is a lot to do with this blog! Thanks for hanging out!

-L

Gear Update: Pedalboard, Guitar

It seems I get into the habit of making posts… then life happens and I either 1) Get busy or 2) forget I have this blog!

The good news Is I have been practicing about an hour, 3-4 days a week, and can really tell the difference it is making. I’m not doing anything hardcore or anything, just reviewing scales, the shapes, up and down the neck and scales on individual strings (up and down the neck on one string). Basically stuff to break my monotony. I have 2 scale shapes I wear out, and I really would like to use more of the guitar’s neck!

So here is my current board setup. Continue reading

Just for Fun; a signature lick….

This post is two-fold… first, myself and my bro-in-law were joking that the *beep* sound on his computer telling him that he has new mail just wasn’t as cool as it should be. Which evolved into a quick recording session and a new mail-notification. I present to you- recorded and edited by my Bro-in-law, all guitar and vocals me:

Thus my “signature” lick. I have been asked before what “that” was that I play sometimes, so here it is. You see, I don’t play really fast, I’m more bluesy and melodic. However, I do have 2-3 licks that I “rip” off to melt faces for a second when needed. This lick I sometimes start out with then go to a slower, more melodic part. Other times I go slower then end with something similar to this to allow a feeling of finality on the solo. Give it a shot. Practice each note by note, until it sounds about right then slowly speed it up until it is the same speed as the recording. As with anything musical, find the slow, deliberate notes- perfecting the scales/licks- then speed the tempo up until you are where you want to be.

That last note ( @10) is a passing note… slide off. Listen to the recording.

For those interested, that was the mini-humbucker on an Epiphone Alleykat into DrZ Maz Jr NR. No pedals used.

Special Thanks to Rhoy for the tab-helps.

Malinoski Art Guitar demo

Hello faithful readers!! I’ve been a bit busy lately, but have discovered some pretty neat things during this time. I’m hoping to have a few video demos in the near future, starting right now!

A few months ago I stumbled on: http://www.petermalinoskiart.com/ and was very impressed by some very unusual, but pretty guitars. This guy is a true artist with wood and then took that art form to building guitars. I love the carefully sculpted contours and the overall “round” nature- these guitars appeal to the eye inasmuch as they do to the ear. Part of Peter’s philosophy is to create guitars that aren’t the typical mass-produced guitar. He has succeeded! These guitars are their own thing for sure.

I finally have gotten a chance to play one of these awesome guitars. It is truly something different and special. Take a look with me (click on the photo for a larger view): Continue reading

Updating:

I will be slowly adding “My Gear” page, editing the “Pedalboard 101” into something that flows better, and possibly even editing the “About Me” page. I want these pages to be easy to access. I think I overloaded the “Pedalboard 101” as its a big junky. This should be pretty fun.

I also am changing a few things on my blog. I think I’m going to steer this blog away from some religious discussions and keep it more toward gear/guitars etc… I’ll still write mainly to the guitar player in a church setting, but I’ve felt that this blog is guitar-oriented. I get tons of hits from all over the world and don’t want to chase anyone off.

However, I do have tons of religious/theological discussion that pops into my head. And it is the type of conversations that perhaps are too deep, or pretty random for a site completely about gear. Now I’ll be a bit free-er to speak my mind. So… If that’s something you want to follow, come visit here: http://disenchantedtheist.wordpress.com/

Basically both this blog and the other are going through updates and should be doing better in a week or two.

I leave this opportunity out there: Any requests? What do you want to know about? What do you want discussed?
Leave it in a comment below!

-L

The Amp Chronicles; the finale.

So…. I present, Dr Z:

I can't explain what this does.... it just does.

In the pic you see my 15w Fender Super Champ (which I’m keeping- still a surprisingly good amp for the money) next the Z. The Maz jr is an 18w, this model is without the reverb (the “NR” version) and one basic master-volume channel. Turn the volume up and master volume down and get a bassy/woody chugg-ing type overdrive or turn volume down with the master up and then tweak the “cut” knob to taste and get some pretty sparkly-crystal cleans. This guitar does a decent clean Voxy sound and a Marshally overdrive. But more than that, it really is its own amp. It contains EL84 tubes, a tube rectifier and 2 ECC83s in the preamp section(Mostly JJ tubes). It came with Dr Z’s “Brake Lite” attenuator pre-installed. Pretty nice. Ah, and an effects loop… which i can’t wait to play.

I first thought this amp wouldn’t be enough… after all I’ve been playing 15w out of the Fender and I wanted a slight volume increase. 18w should be close to what I use right? I’ll never use the attenuator!!
I was wrong. This amp is loud. To play my 1000 member church, I had to click on the attenuator (2 out of 8 ) to get the tone I wanted without the VOLUME associated. I may be using that thing more than I first thought!

Also, this amp is very touch-sensitive. I was getting a nice gritty grind (with very little overdrive) just by varying my dynamics from my ‘clean’ setting. I believe I’ll be knocking an overdrive off my board just in favor of boosting this amp a little. In fact, I played a full Easter Cantata with this amp and only turned on the Zendrive for 2 of the “harder” songs. This amp covered basic overdrive very well.

Anway– after all the worrying, selling gear etc…. here is the amp.

Why this amp over the Matchless?
#1: Price! This amp is about 1/2 the price of the Matchless! The main reason I had interest in this Matchless was that it was a floor model with a great price. Even then, it was a few bucks more than the Dr Z.

#2: Weight! The Matchless is about 20 lbs more than the Z. I wanted a combo amp I could carry in 1 hand if need be. The Z can be carried in 1 hand (not incredibly comfortable, mind you) and I can have my pedalboard in the other hand, with the backpack/gigbag for the guitar on my back. 1 trip in and out of a gig/church.

#3: Honestly- the Z fits me better. It has great cleans, good drive and takes pedals well. I love my pedals/overdrives so this fits perfectly. The Matchless has nicer, sparkly cleans, but not the kind of overdrive I would really like. It was also a bit more finicky about which overdrives it liked (trust me, I played everything I had through each amp). The Z is made for more versatility which tends to be what we look for when we play a wide range of popular worship songs: from Rock to blues, to Gospel Funk. Mmmmm.. I really like this amp!

P.S.> I now have another Fulltone OCD. And its perfect. And it likes this amp. More on that later.

K-Line San Bernardino

First, this is not my guitar.
Yeah, let’s get that straight. Second, I wish it was.

Chris from over at K-Line guitars has been nice enough to let folks try out his instruments and I had the joy of playing his Jaguar/Jazzmaster style-copy: the San Bernardino. Continue reading