Sunday 13 October 2019

What's happening October 2019

I posted a video of me playing a quick fast phrase on YouTube, recorded in slow motion. I found it quite fascinating, I was going to post in on my "other" YouTube channel but I made the decision a while back to put everything on the one Jawmunji YouTube channel. Knowing that most people subscribed only really like the cover arrangements, not me nattering on about stuff. Well, not unsurprisingly, had quite a few dislikes, more than normal. Fair enough. Gives me second thoughts about live streaming on there, but, my channel, my choice :-)

OBS Project seems to be the way to go for live streaming. I have done some tests with it, nothing actually live yet, it's good, possibly not as good as I was hoping. But that's because I want things done how I want them done...when you don't fit into a mold that's when you make life hard for yourself.

Now yesterday I had 2 hours to kill while my son was at a party, across the road was a music store. I've been into music stores before and just played guitars and I  have been a pest, I'm wary of doing that now, so I was super polite and up front, "hey I've just got some time to kill, do you mind if I play some guitars?" They weren't busy and didn't seem to mind, they were busy repairing and restringing guitars, so off I went. I've always had a soft spot for

I first played something that I hadn't seen before - a Taylor dreadnought looking classical guitar! It was a cross over hybrid, similar to my hybrid Yamaha but big bodied. I should have taken some photos.  Next time. I was excited to see what it sounded like...and sadly I was disappointed on all levels.

The neck was narrower - I realised years ago I don't like narrow necks. Not the Taylor's fault. I can adapt to the narrowness, my main issue comes from the top and bottom strings being too close to the edge of the fretboard. I'm sure you'd get used to it, but I can't deal with it immediately.

The action was set incredibly low - I'm pretty sure it has a truss rod so you could adjust - but coupled with very low tension strings I was getting fret buzz even at my lightest touch. I was thinking with the big body I could get a big fat sound out of it, nope. The moment I tried to open it up it was noisy and grating. Higher tension strings and action adjustment would help.

Finally, I was playing it through an amp, and I didn't like the pickup. I spent a bit of time working out what I like and don't like in a pickup, and this was the sound I don't like. A single undersaddle piezo transducer has a sound that has too much fundamental frequency causing an "electric" sound. Only ever once have I played a single undersaddle piezo and it sounded okay, think it was a Baggs, or Fishmann. I need to pay more attention.

I mentioned these things to the store guy and he said "Hmm, we might have to have a look at the setup, it has been on the shelf for a long long time."

Second guitar was a Yamaha NTX, I hadn't played one before, it's another hybrid crossover, they must have come about after I had bought my CGX hybrid. I immediately felt at home with it and it had that "Yamaha Nylon" sound to it. The dual pickup is still good, although the neck is narrower I adapted. I messed with the EQ and, it might be confirmation bias, but, even unplugged, I found the same issue which eventually turned me away from my CGX. There is a hole in the sound profile. I can't quite pick it. They have a big strong bass sound, and clear trebles, but somewhere in the middle it is missing a tone. The 6th string is too boomy in comparison to the 5th string, the 3rd string "classical guitar problem" is quite prominent...the sound lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

I liked the Yamaha - I don't think I've ever played a Yamaha classical I didn't like, from 70'smodels  through to current. Although if you buy a C40 today I would smile through gritted teeth at the sound, they need a decade to mellow.  Please buy the cheapest CG instead of the C40, or better, a 10+ year old CG. Convince your kid that new isn't always best.

At this stage there wasn't anything else nylon of note on the shelf.  I still had half an hour, so I tried a Brand K classical with no pickup. I say Brand K because I don't remember the actual name and I hadn't heard of it before, except it started with a K. (Found nothing about it on Google either.  Just another Chinese guitar.) The shop guy told me they are competing quite well with Yamaha these days. The one I played was a true classical (shape, neck, look) valued around $AUD450(2019).

Wow. Okay, its shape was exactly like my Esteve playability wise, and it had fresh strings on it which is always a good start, but it sang out, and I dug into it to really push the tone and it didn't crack. It wasn't missing "the Yamaha hole" in the sound (one day I should do some spectral analysis of the sound, broadly I would compare these as "Japanese sound" versus "Spanish sound"). Maybe I'm bias, okay, I *am* bias, but it punched out a sound similar to my Esteve, played easy, looked nice, it was basically just a great guitar. Possibly the best value for money for its price sticker.

Hmm, this review was kinda long, and without photos and model numbers doesn't have much value, but I think I would like to review more guitars. I have played quite a few over the years, not enough, I know what I like, maybe next time I am killing time in a music shop (with permission from the owners) I should _properly_ review some :-)

Thursday 3 October 2019


I've got a couple of songs to record but I'm not making the time for it, still over-committed. But there is always time to have heard a song on the radio and thought "I think that one could work". Normally I like to do songs nobody else has done, but when I looked this one up it had been done plenty of times. Oh well. Smashing Pumpkins, 1979. Classic alt rock from 1995. Some arrangements I saw were a bit over the top, I wanted something easy.

Fell straight into a bass-on-1 snare-on-3 style boom chick/finger slap, sadly, that's my default style. I try to get an additional bass note on beat 4 (which requires concentration), not just on 1 all the time. Especially when beat 4 is down a tone, or a fourth, or something interesting. But this song is mostly three chords - D, G, Em.

Billy Corgan played this song with the guitar tuned down a semi-tone, I don't do that sort of tuning. But what I am happy to do is Drop D and then put a capo on 1. So the D shape chord become Eb, same as the original song. And I still love Drop D even when it is Drop D up to Eb :-)

The song almost didn't need arranging. Play the cool Dmaj7 to D shape (I love maj7) - but in strange but cool inversion - bottom note is D (I'm talking no capo) and the next note up is C#...that's major 7th but normally you wouldn't put the C# in the bass. But it really works. Up to the G, remember the 6th needs that extra two frets.

Then it's just the melody on top which is pretty easy to pick/flick your way through.

It's mostly ready to record, and it sounds really good for not much effort in learning. I think it will be a recommended-for-beginners type of song. Slight bit of stretching in places for the left hand but otherwise easy, the hard part is in the right hand. Like all good fingerstyle :-)

I put a mic in front of me and recorded a demo...Apologies for the strings being totally dead (I've got plenty of new string sets but I don't want to spend the time breaking them in.) This is a very cutdown demo, just the main concepts.

1979 demo: