Morning strum while fasting, featuring @thelucydog

Eventually, I have to give up all the dreams of being a superstar DJ and running Ableton Live with Reason 5, controlled on an iPad.  I mean, I’m sure I’ll keep dabbling, but eventually, I just have to go back to doing what I do.  And, in this case, it had been so long that I was a bit worried my fingers wouldn’t cooperate, but after all these years, they still remember.  This is just something, a bit sloppy, that Lucy and I made up on the spot.

Movie on 2010-09-18 at 09.29

And here’s that Resonator Chrome G with the Holy Stain

Here’s the new Dean Resonator Chrome G, tuned to open G and played through the Electro Harmonix Holy Stain with some overdrive and some tremolo. The amp is my old Lab Series solid state L5 on a pretty clean setting. The pickups are almost 50/50 magnet/piezo with a slight bias toward the magnet to reduce high end noise and unwanted distortion. A lot of the guitar’s characteristics are lost when playing “plugged-in”, but the Holy Stain adds its own ambiance and the result, I think, is quite pleasing.

All the new toys are playing well together.

I had been feeling that some kind of intelligent harmonizer was thpe next piece of the puzzle in my pedal line, so I began the exhaustive research. Did you know that there are almost no stand-alone floor units that offer “intelligent” pitch shifting? There is a $500 unit from Eventide that I would love, & then there is the $170 jobby from Boss, which I was afraid would really sound like crap.

So I started to explore the really low end multi-effects units in the same price range (and lower) as the Boss ‘Super Shifter’. In particular, I began to focus on a Zoom that had a harmonizer and an expression pedal, in addition to a lot junk I did not want, including amp modeling and other effects. Why not just turn all that junk off and use the multi-effects unit as a wammy and/or harmonizer? The real question was whether it would play nice with all the other floor-bound gadgetry I’ve collected over the years. One thing was certain: this multi effect unit was not designed for the use I had in mind. But for less than $100, I was maybe willing to take a chance. I did get a little skeptical when olive realized that the item in question claimed to do the work of the famous Digitech Wammy for less than half the price.

When I got to Guitar Center (a hateful place), something unexpected happened. They had the Boss harmonizer in the used bin for the same money I would have spent on the entry level all-in-one toy. I tried it and decided I could live with the mediocre sound quality, rather than risk getting something chincy. And I even splurged on my first compressor sustained. I got a Line 6 which was very cheap, even new, and really helps drive the signal through all those pedals.

After a long day at the office, I had the house to myself for about 1/2 hour and, it got loud.

Never Too Late Guitar

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Just stumbled across this guy’s blog and twitter feed.  It’s always nice to discover more intelligent guitar conversation, especially when it is of the unpretentious variety.  Apparently Mr. Never2L8 considers himself a beginner, despite his collections of beautiful 6-string electrics.  That being said, his web design, and, more importantly, his photography are tremendous.  It’s worth checking out the site just to see his aesthetic and his loving snaps of the instruments.

tick, tock… tick, tock…

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What you see above is still, in my opinion, the best way to do this.  Those pedals, in that order, with that amplifier, provide enough sonic options for me to do pretty much anything I want to with an electric guitar.  There’ a lot I’m not capable of, in terms of both technique and technology, but right now my focus is on documenting what I can do, instead of encroaching into the territory of what I can’t.  Quite simply, i want to be able to come home, plug a guitar into that set-up, and, should the moment so strike me, press the record button and have a document of that evening’s inspiration.

Now, of course I have the capacity to do just that with the present technology.  Even if I don’t want to set up the computer and the A/D converter and Logic (or even GarageBand), I can just do like FBdN and record right to iPhone OS.  Or I could use the old minidisc.  I could even go right to an old cassette multi-track.

The problem is TIME.

Not that these things take time, but rather that I want to be able to take whatever I’m doing and bring it back into a digital audio workstation later.  That’s no problem, unless there are going to be loops.  And there are always loops.  If a song sketch is off by even a tenth of a second, that means that after a minute, the deviation is 6 seconds – that’s not music, that’s chaos.

So the question now is: how can I get a master clock associated with an impromptu recording of a song sketch?  Playing along with a metronome is not enough.  Whatever device records the initial jam has to associate a bpm with that snippet, which can then control other music.  I’m not sure this is possible.

The more sensible approach would be to take the impromptu performance as inspiration and then properly construct music around that, starting with the beat and locking in the time.  Of course, this means recreating that moment of creativity in a very sterile setting.  Much less fun and much more time consuming.

All of this would be a piece of cake if I (a) had no day job and (b) were fabulously wealthy.