Friday, May 23, 2014

Even In His Youth.... He Wanted To Plug In, Part 2

Here is part 1 for those who missed it:

So here's what I have done to this cello/bass now that I have had a chance to work on it.

1.  Fret dress.  It's a Squier, so duh.

2.  I installed the Seymour Duncan Basslines pickups.  I used the Quarter Pounder set.  It sounds awesome.

3.  When I set up the bass I had to really turn the truss rod a few times.  It has never been turned, so I had to really turn it a few times until it started to put pressure on the neck.

4.  I was able to get the individual strings at Guitar Center.  They tuned up just fine with a low amount of string pull.

5.  I decided to make a major change on it.  I decided to move the output jack.  I didn't like that it was on the front of the body next to the controls.  I put it in the usual place for a guitar or bass, on the edge.

Here's the after pictures.

I have the strap and strap locks on order, so that will be fun when they arrive.  So far it's been fun to play.  I am going to have to break out the old orchestra music, and play it on my new cello/bass.  Of course, this means I am going to have to get a bass amp.  That'll be a good post in the future.

I Dream At 110%

I just took a four hour nap, and I feel terrible.  Some would say it's due to bad food or sleep apnea.  However, I think it's another reason I have such a terrible time sleeping.  It's due to my dreams, or rather the intensity of my dreams.  And due to them, I end up fighting in my sleep.  However, let me talk specifically about one of the ones I had during my four hour nap.

And there I was, in a Saloon.

I was all decked out in my best Western wear.  I was feeling pretty good.  You know why?  Steak.  I was eating a great big steak.  It was awesome.  People where hanging around, talking and playing cards.  It was then that I noticed a giant boar outside the double saloon doors.

So what is one to do?  Well, I just grab my pistol off the table, aim in-between the people and the doors, and shoot.  Shoot I did, and down the boar went.

I took my time moseying outside, because why not?  Moseying is what Western guys do.  I get outside only to see I did not shoot a boar, but a panda bear.

Yep, it was one dead panda bear I had killed.  But the owner of the restaurant wasn't mad at me.  In fact, he was extremely happy.  He was so happy that he had gone and skinned the panda bear for me.  The skin was ready to be taken to a taxidermist, and the panda meat was on the grill with sauce on it. 

And that's when things really started to get weird.  But I won't get into that.  This is one glimpse into my dreaming brain.  It's not that much different than my waking brain, except I hold back 90% of my thoughts from my waking brain.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Check, check. Microphone, microphone.

Lately I have been writing about how the guitar market is terrible.  I mean, it is worst than terrible.  I don't know what that word would be, but let's just say it's "even below terrible."  At the beginning of the year I made it my mission to sell four guitars.  I already had way too many guitars, so getting rid of five of them wasn't going to make much of a dent into my collection. 

Out of the five, I only sold one.  And then that guy wanted to return the guitar the next day.  That did not go over well.  Here's the hilarious adventure of everything that happened (short version.)

1.  Traded an Ibanez Artcore for a 99 Fender Stratocaster with case.  Great deal!  (I kept the Strat.)

2.  Traded a 2008 Fender Stratocaster for a Japanese Jackson DNKY.  I then traded the Jackson for a Dean ML 79 Bubinga Guitar.  (I kept the Dean.)

3.  I sold the 1993 Stratocaster with tons of upgrades.  That's the one the guy wanted to return to me.

4.  I traded the Rosewood Telecaster I built for a Dimarzio Super Distortion, M-Audio Interface, and Shure SM-81 microphone.

5.  Since no one knew what the Luna Andromeda was I did two things.  I took the EMG pickups out of it, and sold them on Ebay.  I actually made a good deal on that.  I then took the Luna to Sam Ash where they weren't sure what to do with it.  There's not much info on it if you aren't a Dean fan.  So I told the guy I would trade it straight up for a Sennheiser 835 microphone.  Since they have a fair mark-up on Pro Audio items, it made it worthwhile for him to say yes.

So this brings me to the meat of my blog.  I've never really had that much Pro Audio equipment.  True story.  I once bought a microphone on sale for $20 back in 1994.  It made it through six band practices until it came apart. 

So I never had a good one before.  So now I have two.  I know a lot of non-musicians are wondering why two?  Well, one is for recording, and one is for live use.

Here's the write up on the first one:

Eventually I will want to record, and the Shure SM-81 is the way to go.  I wandered through Guitar Center, and noticed it's about the most expensive microphone of it's kind.  To get any better you really have to start paying some big bucks.  So I'm glad to have it.

The Sennheiser 835 was recommend to me by a few Pro Audio guys.

I tested it out versus my friend's time tested Shure SM-58.  The Sennheiser was much more clear with a spike in the treble frequencies.  The Shure had a more pronounced bass, but was not as clear.  I guess it's like ice cream.  It depends upon what flavor you like.  Only you can tell you what you like. 

So after five months I have finally traded all the guitars I was planning to.  But I can't actually say I actually pared myself down.  I mean, I traded for two other guitars, traded for microphones, and actually bought a bass with the sale of the pickups.  So I think I am right back to where I started.

And where is that?  Remember at the beginning when I said that the market was terrible?  Well it certainly is for selling/buying.  However, for trading it's surprisingly okay.  I may have to stick on the trading train for a while.  At least until the economy improves. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Even In His Youth.... He Wanted To Plug In

Back when I was twelve I started playing cello.  It kind of surprised me how I really got into it, and started being really good at playing.  Anyway, here's a picture of my cello.  Yes, I still have it after all these years.

Anyway, there was one thing a bunch of twelve year olds with instruments liked to do, and that was rock out with their instruments.  I mean, I dreamed of playing, George Throughgood's "Bad to the Bone" on my cello.  (Sidenote: In all fairness, I was twelve.)

It got me to thinking, couldn't I have an electric cello?  Well part of me answered that question later when I actually built an electric cello.  True story.  Here's the pics.

As awesome as that electric cello is, (and it is by the way,) it's not the kind you rock out with.  When I was thinking about it in high school, I noticed the bass guitar had four strings, and played the lower notes like a cello did.  However, the strings are actually backwards on a bass from a cello.  Or, that's what I thought.  I didn't realize that a bass is in 5ths, and a cello is in 7ths.  It's just a matter of changing the size of the strings, and tuning to a cello's tuning A-D-G-C.

When I was researching this I was originally going to use a baritone guitar, so I would have a few extra strings.  However, there are very few on the market that I like.  It was then that I searched Musician's Friend for a "Short Scale" Bass.

I'm not very high on the cheaper basses, but I have to say one thing about the Fender Squier Short Scale Jaguar Bass.  It has everything I want.  It's short scale, it's in my price range, and it's also in a PJ configuration. 

It seems the fates intervened and I found one locally on Craigslist from a guy not far from me.  I think he had only played it twice or something.  Here's a picture of it.

So here's what I have to do to make it perfect.

1.  Fret dress.  I gave it a rough set-up, but I can't get the action perfect until I put on the correct strings.  I have found a few spots that need touched up on the high G string.

2.  I already have a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder bridge J-bass pickup.  So that baby is going in it.

3.  I found a deal on a matching S.D.Q.P. P-Bass pickup.  It's on it's way to the house, and should be here in a few days.

4.  To make it all happen I really need the strings.  Since the cello tuning is in 7ths, the string sizes are really far apart.  They are .035, .055, .080, .125.  So I am going to go to the music shop, and buy the individual strings since I can't buy them as a set.

5.  I was given a strap with this bass, but I think I am going to grab another some time down the road.

But after that I think I will be set, and it will be time to practice.  Of course I will want a bass amp, but that's down the road.  I have my Sunn Alpha 2-12R for the time being. 

So after all this time, I will finally have a cello that I will be able to rock out with.  My inner twelve year old would be so proud. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I'm Not Sure How I Feel About The Angel's Trumpet In My Yard

Before I get started, let me be clear.  I am not picking on God's Angels or their trumpets.  I'm not even picking on the California Angels or whatever they're called these days.

No, this is about a plant.  Not only is it kind of a dick plant, it's poisonous as hell.  I'm talking about the Angel's Trumpet in our yard.

It all started about three years ago.  This plant was about head high.  When I would mow the lawn, the leaves would smack me in the head.  But I was told to be patient.  You see, the freeze of the winter would kill it off.  Well, simply put, it didn't happen.  It grew, and then it grew some more.

And then I was told the same thing the next year.  The freeze would have to kill it.  But, thanks to climate change or the plant just being hardheaded, it didn't freeze or die.  It kept growing.  In fact, let me show you a better picture of what it looks like now.

You may not be able to tell from the picture, but that fence behind the Angel's Trumpet is about four foot high.  Where the Trumpet is almost touching the tree is at least ten foot high.  This really is the little plant that could.

So once it got so tall that it seemed that nothing was going to kill it, I was able to cut the growth underneath it.  Namely so I could run the lawnmower underneath it without getting my head smacked. 

Then a few things happened to me.  Spring rolled around, and these massive blooms started popping up.

I don't think I had ever seen a flower that was almost a foot long.  I mean, they really hang out there.  That's when Dad told me that's the Angel's Trumpet that all the cool, er, dead kids like to take to make hallucinogens.  The plant is insanely poisonous, and that's why the kids trip balls when they take it.  It also has a side effect of death.  Seriously, it wasn't too long before Dad told me what that plant was, a kid on the news died from taking one. 

So I have to respect a plant that just won't die.  But I hate having a giant plant that some people misuse to trip balls and die.  I just don't know how I feel about it. 

Late Night Luthiery: Dean ML Bubinga Edition

If you read a few posts back in my blog, you will see the hilarious amount of guitar trades I made.  I was trying to sell a number of guitars, but ended up trading most of them since everyone is heavy in guitars, but poor in cash.  One of the trades I made was for a Dean ML Bubinga.


I loved the guitar from the moment I saw it.  It was in perfect condition, with no dings or anything.  The only problem was the pickups sucked.  I mean, they were bad.  So I have made a few changes on the guitar.

The first was to fret dress it.  The frets were awful.  I admittedly tried to get a little ambitious with the action, but it needed fret dressed in the worst way.

Next, I changed the pickups out.  I had quite a time with that.  Here's the short version.

1.  I bought a Gibson 496R/500T set, but the 496R was broken.  That left me with a bridge pickup, but no neck pickup.
2.  I bought a GFS Crunchy Pat, and was happy with it.  However....
3.  I traded a guitar for a number of things, including a Dimarzio Super Distortion. 

So I decided to put the Super D in the neck, and the 500T in the bridge.  Simply put, it is awesome.

But that's not everything.  The one thing that I thought was strange was that the pickup rings were black.  I don't know if I have ever seen a Dean ML with black rings.  They have always been cream.  So I changed them out for cream rings.  This is the final product:

I tend to play more vintage style humbuckers, so this was a nice change.  I wanted something that Dimebag Darrell would say, "Hell yeah!!!"  This guitar is made to be played loud.  And I will do that.... in the afternoon.  Really I wasn't kidding about the "Late Night Luthiery title."  I'm writing this pretty late at night.  But in the afternoon, I will rock it out.

The Amplifier is a Foot!

So about six months ago I bought this Laney Amp.

It was in bad condition, and needed a lot of work.  One thing that it needed was a new foot.  Long story short, it seems one of them had been ripped out.  I figured that out by the way hole that was left was larger than the rest of the screw holes.

Even the old feet were really chewed up.

So, I had to make a new foot for it.  Well, I have this neat tool that makes round wheels with a hole in the middle.  Dad put it on his lathe, and cut it down to the proper size.  I went down to Ace Hardware to buy one whole wood screw.  I then recessed the foot, screwed it on, and came up with this.

Boo-ya!  It works great.  My amp now sits up the way it's supposed to.  So the next thing is to put the back screen on it to protect the tubes.  That will be another blog.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Adrian: Neighborhood Jesus

Here's something weird that happened to me the other day.  I was at the grocery store when I ran into a neighbor who lives down the street from me.  I didn't actually recognize her, my Mother did.  So my neighbor got to talking... oops, did I say talking?  I meant gossiping.  She started gossiping about the neighbor next to her that she didn't like.  That neighbor is Polly, and I really like her. 

I can see how they wouldn't get along.  Polly is a hippie/liberal who lets the plants in her lawn grow freely.  The other neighbor is .... well, let's just say she is a little more conservative than that.  So it's like a comedy on ABC or something.  Let's just say they don't get along.

Well, the neighbor who I haven't named yet, started badmouthing Polly.  Saying her house was bringing the neighborhood property values down, and other things.

Which is when I stepped in.  I didn't get violent or nasty.  I just got Adrian.  And that means shit was going to get weird. 

I told her, "Yes, I know Polly.  I like Polly.  That's my thing.  I love everyone."

To which neighbor lady started to tell me more bad things about Polly.  Such like, you don't have to live next to her, or you don't really know her.

To which I said, "It doesn't matter how much I know Polly.  I like her.  I like everyone.  That's my thing."  To which neighbor lady rolled her eyes at me, and put her hand on my arm like I just didn't get it.

But I kept cool, and continued to look her in the eye, unwavering in my "likeness" for everyone.  I think she finally got it through her head that I wasn't going to agree with her, and I was going to do it in the kindest way possible. 
Frankly, I was laughing on the inside the whole time.  I've never been able to disagree so greatly with someone, while being so nice at the same time.  Honestly, I'm going to have to do it some more.

And now for the heck of it, here's Space Jesus.