Tuesday, 9 January 2018

String choice update

There are so many strings to choose from. So many manufacturers, string types from those manufacturers, tensions, materials, it's enough to do your head in. And that's just nylon strings! And if you only change strings a handful of times a year, and don't take notes, you'll soon forget what you liked and what you didn't like.

I've talked about strings before, several years back I locked in D'Addario as my manufacturer of choice. Across the board they make a bright sound for a reasonable length of time and are well priced. I have tried medium (standard) and hard tension, and settled on standard tension. Sometimes standard tension is too floppy, but not as much as sometimes hard tension is too stiff.  Standard tension is the best compromise for me.

Finally now I have run through all the different material variants and arrived at a verdict. The EXP45 set.  Well, not quite, I prefer the trebles from the EJ45TT set and the basses from the EXP45 set.  But that is too hard to deal with, so I am sticking to the EXP45 set out of the box, the trebles are okay. But I've taken to only changing the trebles every second set change.  Trebles hold their tone for a lot longer than wound basses, but take so much longer to bed in.

So, why the EXP?  Bottom line is I want long life.  New strings on nylon take too long to stretch in, and the very act of changing strings takes time, so I want to change as infrequent as possible. Yeah, I'm lazy. But the tone has to be to a minimum level - once they sound too dull, they have to go (only beginners will only change strings when they break!)

The EXP is that best compromise; it has the brightness in the basses that lasts the longest. All the D'Addario strings have a nice brightness to them, varying levels, but the EXPs last longest (given that you wipe down the strings after any long sweaty workout, which I always do.)

Done. Finished. End of story.

...except now that I know I prefer coated/medium tension/brightish strings, I should look across all the manufacturers to see what their range is in that space. Argh! But that sounds like a good time to start a new poll! :-)

Below is my findings summary:

EJ45 Pro Arte Standards, $6USD(2018).
  Good comfortable string, they will sound a bit dead after 4 weeks of 
  my normal playing regime.

EJ49 Pro Arte black trebles, $7USD(2018).
  Same as standard with black trebles, no difference. Only for looks.

EJ45TT Pro Arte Dynacore, $11USD(2018).
  The dynacore basses sound good, an improvement over standard. The
  "titanium" nylon trebles are also an improvement over the standard brightness
  but same thickness as standard.

EXP45 Pro Arte Coated, $10USD(2018).
  Basses are the same as the EJ45TT but coated and they do actually hold
  their tone quite a bit longer. Trebles are standard.

EJ45FF Pro Arte Carbon, $13USD(2018).
  The basses are the same as the EJ45TTs, the trebles are super bright
  and quite thin.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

2018 New songs new recording style

During my two weeks off over Christmas I tackled two new songs from my "to-do" list, Cyndi Lauper "Time after time" and Daft Punk "Get lucky". Cyndi, because my wife likes that song. Daft, because years ago a mate challenged me to do it, which I did not take up, but moreso while adding Gareth Evans to the fingerstyle database as suggested by a reader I came across his arrangement and it inspired me.

But, I talk all about it in the video, no need for a transcription here.

I have only played both these songs for a few hours each, so they are rough-as, and not really ready to put out there but I had an alternate reason for recording them...

A month ago I recorded the end of year concert for my youngest daughter's orchestra, which was actually a tad stressful, that it needed to "be good". I recorded two hours (several orchestras performing), using a fixed camera and roving with a second camera to get different vantage points.  I own two of Canon mirrorless DSLRs, the EOS M, which I bought to do some 3D video work with years ago, they are old now but still okay. It's handy to have two for different angles when you aren't using them for stereoscopic vision.  Unfortunately they blew out the brightness levels - it was a big auditorium, mostly dark with well-lit performers, the cameras didn't know how to capture the levels very well and I didn't know how to tell it to do better.  So lots of washed out faces - but not totally terrible. . I used my stereo condenser microphone to capture audio which worked out pretty well.

It forced me dust off my video editing skills; normally I use virtualdub and simply trim/put on a logo/replace audio/re-encode. But for multi camera angles you need a multi-track video editor. When I first started out in video editing in 2001 I used Ulead Video Studio and got quite used to it.  But somewhere along the way they were bought out and the resulting software went in the wrong direction for my liking.  So the next time I had to do video editing I trialled the big three and settled on Cyberlink PowerDirector. It irks me constantly learning new software, that's part of my day job. So for the concert video I shelled out for the latest version and although it easily took me 10 hours to produce the resulting 80 minute video, I was quite happy with the software again.

So I decided that I could put the similar effort into my guitar videos, seeing as I was all up to speed again.

And so brings me to this video, where I set up my two DSLRs and an older handy cam that takes a tolerable video, for a three camera shoot!  It was easy to set up, although I don't like the low camera angle, I'll do that different next time. From start to finish ready for youtube slightly less than 2 hours. So, doable as a regular event. I experimented with some pans and zooms - swapping between fixed cameras is better than only a single camera, but some subtle movement during the shots brings the different camera angles to life. Most of the movements were random tests, I watched it back afterwards and worked out what I liked, but left it as is.

So here you go. I'm waffly and word stuck in places, I should plan these things. Oh and the playing was awful. But...

...it's practise for some proper videos I have in mind to record soon :-)