Monday 22 March 2010

What's happening March 2010

What's happening...mmm, not a lot. About two months ago I thought I'd get involved with the acoustic guitar forum, I was thinking all these monoversations I'm having with you needs to be turned into a conversation. It didn't really work out. For starters, there is so much happening on that forum you can't keep up. But secondly, I don't think I fitted in. There are serious, purist, experienced, professional guitar players that are well knowledged in all walks of acoustic guitar; then there are n00bs and intermediate players looking for info. I don't fit with either of them crowds; I'm too hacky for the purists...and too hacky for the n00bs.

So I'm back here ;)

New guitar is going well. My pickup hasn't arrived yet, WA doesn't stand for Western Australia, it stands for Wait Awhile. But to be fair, the pickup is coming from Finland. When it arrives, then there is a whole new mission of getting a luthier to cut holes in my shiny guitar. So still a while off yet.

I'm still getting used to playing the new guitar. I think I mentioned before you can pick up any guitar and play it to at least 80% potential immediately, but to know it, to _really_ know it, at least 6 months if not a year. You have to get every minute detail locked into muscle memory, those sub-millimetre distances that make the difference between a clean note and a fret buzz. Especially when playing fingerstyle.

I'm on the path and I'm hopeful - with the old guitar I "knew" it, but I was limited by it because of the neck. The risk of errors was too high, there was no room for sloppiness on that neck. And we're always going to be sloppy from time to time, so a guitar that forgives (or you stick to playing stuff that is really easy) is where you need to be.

Arrangements: two on the go, INXS - "Don't Change" - Australian band that "emerged" in my home town, and a personal favourite of my wife. Def Leppard - "Hysteria", a mate of mine is a Def Leppard nut from the 80's/90's and I've taken on the challenge - my wife was also an 80's/90's Def Leppard fan so double win. See, gotta play stuff that others want to hear. Pink Floyd also ticking along, very slowly, in the background - that's _my_ stuff ;)

I'm not sure if I mentioned before but I have possibly the best guitar tuner in the world; it is a Peterson stroboscopic tuner...application for my iPhone! Amazing software for an amazing phone. Too much noise affects it uplugged to get 1/10th of a cent accuracy, but I bought a cable to go from guitar to iPhone so no worries (when guitar has a pickup ;))

Meanwhile, a guy from the Rate My Cover site had been emailing me on and off for a while about Pink Floyd, and was taking on my Brain Damage/Eclipse tab, which is a bit grim because I've changed the way I play it and sounds much better now, I've worked the melody in properly. I haven't tabbed it, and it isn't high on my priorities to do.

I then added two plus two - and thought, hey, the next time I sit down and play some songs, using my iPhone to tune up, I'll then use the iPhone to record it; and send him a copy!

Then I took it further, I'm pickup-less at the moment, and recording a video for me involves basically a whole evening of effort which is a rare commodity, so I'll record my new stuff and pop it on my blog as a shared secret for my six mates who read this site! (Yep Roman, I'm up from three mates to six now! ;))

What I also appreciated about this idea is that the recordings are warts-and-all. If you think my youtube stuff is rough as guts (I do) then this stuff is terrible. It's good to hear the unpractised, half finished, mistake after mistake playing...well, so long as it is "close enough"...for a few reasons I won't mention right now.

So here you go, here's what I've got so far with Dark Side of the Moon. It's in Apple (iPhone) format, Windows users might need to put on a codec. Note also that the iPhone does dynamic input gain, as in, if you are playing quietly it automatically turns itself up, which doesn't really suit a session recording. It picks up a lot of noise as well, but overall it's okay to get the idea. Sorry about the annoying tapping, I was wearing shoes and my foot tapping is, um, inconsistent :)

Key times for those who want to skip through: Breathe 0:09, Time 2:57, Breathe Reprise 6:19, Great Gig in the Sky 7:43, Us and Them 11:11, Brain Damage 14:24, Eclipse 17:42. Us and Them is still a work in progress, about half way through I was getting closer to what I have in mind, at the start I'd forgotten what I had previously worked out, haven't tried playing it for at least 2-3 months, and nothing is written down. Great Gig is still waiting on the solo. And for a decent player ;)

I tuned in to start with, but I took the guitar from inside the cool house to outside in the humid evening heat, so by the 3rd song it was out of tune, I didn't stop to retune it, sorry! Normally you need to retune a few times for the first 10-15 mins while the guitar "adjusts" even from just getting warm in your hands. Nylon stings - a blessing and a curse. The unecessarily long gaps between some songs is me taking a swig from my bottle of beer. Hey, it was a hot thunderstormy night!

Don't change - I've basically tabbed it, was an epic, I tried to catch all my subtleties this time on paper. There's not actually a lot to it. Unfortunately I realised after I'd tabbed it I should have transposed the key down two steps, I spend a lot of time baoo late now. Playing is sloppy, but by the time the pickup is fitted I'll be ready to do a youtube recording.

Hysteria - still working on the solo. I know what I'm going to do, but I haven't committed it to memory. Lots of mistakes. A few months off yet.

Anyway, it's good to be back, I promise; my six mates, that I won't leave it so long between blogs and I'll keep them shorter!


  1. Six mates! I'm impressed!

    I haven't got an iPhone, but I've looked at guitar tuners for my phone (better than iPhone, needless to say), the one I found is £1. I wouldn't pay for that, and I was comforted by a review saying it works fine but is a rip off for what you get as it should be free. And I don't feel I need a tuner, although if I did have one it would probably change my mind :-)

    As for forums, although I never tried guitar forums, I understand the impression you got. Maybe the problem is that acoustic guitar itself covers such a wide range of styles and topics.
    I honestly believe that experts in any field have to be biased, that's human nature, as when anyone dedicates his/her whole life trying to be the best, they may not achieve that, but then tend to think that their way of doing things is the only one worthwhile, they seem open as they will acklowledge and respect those who succeed better than them, as long as it's by following the same approach, while they will dissmiss or even prefer to ignore those who do it differently, however much more talented they are.
    Yes I have Naudo in mind, as you can guess.

    I wanted to write about competition between guitarists, the untold truths, sometimes hypocrisy, although I'm thinking about professional or very 'serious' guitarists, I will not include myself in that (pure soul that I am), you neither (don't worry), but I'm interested in this somewhat psychological topic.
    Thanks for getting me started!

  2. iPhone - best phone in the world. And I'm not an Apple fanboi either.

    As for tuners, well, since re-discovering my passion for playing guitar late 90's and especially in the last 3-4 years, my ability to hear a guitar out of tune is quite acute now, but my ability to get them into tune by ear remains poor. So, I use electronic tuners. Fast, easy. However, it's not helping make my ear any better. Another good subject for a blog! :)

    Competition...mmm...I am a little competitive; sometimes it can be good as a motivation to strive to be better, but sometimes it will turn you into an arrogant prat. I am also guilty of being a bit set in my ways, however, when I hear something I like, I will adapt my style and playing to align with what I think sounds good. I like to think that I am open and respectful to all styles of guitar, with of course my personal preference, but yep that ugly old human nature will go and make us a liar time and time again.

    Perhaps by admitting to being a bit competitive and arrogant it means I'm not totally a lost cause...I'm scared of reading your next blog because I will be reading about myself!

    I might have six mates, but you are the most reliable ;) Good to hear from you R.

  3. Make that count up to SEVEN mates, I love your work and come here often!

    I'm totally in love with the ipod touch my wife got me for Christmas. I have most of your vid's on it, and just ran out to the local Apple store to get a microphone when I read what you are doing with your phone. (plan on recording some segments of my efforts)

    Keep up the great work, you are inspiring! (you make that right hand look WAY too easy)
    Best wishes,

  4. Heh Rich, I was already including you in my six mates :)

    Although Roman seemed to disagree, the Apple iPhone/Touch is the way of the future. Not just because it is pretty stylish and has a good interface, but because of the software marketing model. Anyone can build software for it, and even the really in depth applications are just a few bucks. There is some amazing applications for it, stuff you wouldn't have expected. Like my stroboscopic tuner, and the adaptor cable to suit.

    And, of course, once my new guitar has a pickup I'll be able to use that adaptor cable for the sound recorder - but maybe I'll buy some after-market software that doesn't do dynamic amplitude adjustment. Good for dictation, not so good for recording guitar, although tolerable. I'm sure there will be some good software somewhere! :)

    Thanks for stopping by, and don't let your right hand get away with anything - *you* are in control - just gotta get those hands and brain on good speaking terms!

  5. That is pretty epic - though I always liked how your pink floyd arrangments sounded on steel strings better than nylon - it just feels "bluntened" a bit.

    Best phone if you ask me is a cheap phone. Though I am envious now as I am stuck for a couple of days with not much to do, a guitar but nothing to record it with.


  6. Hi Jaw,

    No much news from me, I'm not playing much as I'm busy with other things (and my blog is very quiet).

    I found a website/blog about guitar, interesting as the guy provides thoughts about different aspects of guitar playing, I don't know, there may be many such websites on the web, but I dont't normally try to find them, anyway I like this one: