Friday, 21 May 2021

facebook advertising

I learnt something about facebook last month. We all know that it makes money with advertisements, and the targeting of those ads is uncanny in its accuracy.

I have been involved with a children's string orchestra for 5 years now, and recruiting has increasingly been an issue.  When I started there were 55 students, at the start of this year we were down to 26. Yikes! Covid-19 didn't help, and one of our conductors retired, and there are more competing orchestras these days. I felt I wasn't not doing enough, but the numbers had been waning before I was involved - in its heyday it had 80 students and they would turn people away because they were full.

We had a website. We posted on social media. We handed out flyers. We spoke to music teachers. We advertised in school newsletters. We told everyone to spread the word - I found most new students arrived by word of mouth.

We were below the number of students required to remain viable, we were getting close to shutting down.  One of the new committee members said "let's boost a post on facebook."  We posted on facebook fairly regularly, with photos, and videos, and contact details. It didn't seem to have any effect. "It will be around $50 to boost a post for a month, we can target people in the area who are interested in music tuition/school/community". Worth a try, what have we got to lose. Even if we only had one or two enquiries and maybe it led to one new recruit, it would pay for itself.  I made a little promo video, we posted it and then boosted the post.

Well. In the first week we had around 5-6 enquiries, and that continued for the next few weeks. We've had 8 applications come in so far, and have already had 5 successful auditionees, with a few more auditions to come.

Who knew that throwing a fifty to facebook was that powerful.  If I had have known I would have done it years ago. Take note - if you are looking to attract more attention to something you have to offer.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

I want to play free

Naudo posted another play through of the Queen song "I Want to Break Free". It's a great arrangement, after looking at it I decided it's a good one to transcribe.  After many years of studying Naudo's arrangements, I found it straight forward working out what was going on.  All the study has paid off!  So other than a tricky solo in it, there is not much to do to add it to set list.  I'll post the tab on Patreon once it is done!  Here it is - have a look!


JAW

Saturday, 27 February 2021

What's happening February 2021

I've been stuck learning 4 songs.  That is too many to be practising for a hobbyist, when they are all challenging fingerstyle arrangements. But it just happens every now and then. I hear one of my YouTube fingerstyle arrangers do something that I have to try for myself, and I get 80% of it done in a few hours.  There's the rub, the 80-20 rule, which is so true for so many aspects of life. The first 80% takes you 20% of the time, the other 20% takes you 80% of the time. With 4 songs at 80%, how can I not be playing/finishing them all at the same time?!  But that takes a lot of time!

It's actually 5 songs, but I've lost interest in one.  That's okay, you need to rest songs. A little break, you'll come back to them in due course.

Just attempted to record 3 of them, starting the video editing now.  I've been letting my patreons down - all twenty of them!  I would love to release a song once a month, but it's running about once every three months. My life is so busy. Hopefully out of the maybe 5-10 takes of each song I can put something together and get it out there.

Watch this space! :-)

Sunday, 24 January 2021

D'Addario XTC46 unboxing

There are too many strings to choose from. 

A decade ago I decided to stick with D'Addario as my string manufacturer of choice and test only strings from within their range. Because even within their range there are so many to choose from. I later I tested out several of their strings, and then I finally decided that D'Addario EXP45s were my favourite, they have a great tone that lasts for a long time due to a coating on the basses. Phew, decision made, no more testing required.

...until D'Addario recently released the XT range, their latest "coating technology".  So thanks to my patreons I get some USD bucks each month to try out new guitar stuff, I got my hands on a set! 

I ordered a high tension and a normal tension set, partly because I'm digging in more these days and if you are going to dig in then go for harder strings to bring the dynamic range further up. That is, on a normal tension set, if you dig in too far you will max out the dynamics the string is capable of. But at the same level of dig on harder sets, you have a bit more range to go. Additionally in the XT range the tension starts at normal tension, then there is hard tension and then there is extra hard. So hard tension sits in the middle of the range, it seemed sensible. (Okay, EXP45 was the same I just never took note.)

Straight up the packaging is similar to the EXP45s, nice embossing, simple designs. Nice font, nice matt browny dark grey colour. The back actually states the tension - Normal is 28, 32, 40, 28, 35, 44. Hard is 29,33, 41, 29, 36, 46. Quote from the box - "These are strings made to stay, for players who refuse to fade away" - very corny D'Addario.

The corrosion proof bag got an upgrade - zip lock which I thought was a nice addition. Is it as sealed as the old fully sealed bag you used to have to rip open? Somebody decided it was!
 
The strings themselves are slightly whiter and shinier than the EXPs, and maybe slightly silkier. I don't like the silkiness, but it's part of the deal with coated strings and I've learnt to live with it. They wind on just fine, the E string has the section on one end that is not as tightly wound for easier attaching the string, I'm not a fan I normally put them on "upsidedown". The strings are slightly longer than EXPs, which is good, because I only trim the trebles not the basses, so that when the basses are starting to sound a little dead I take them off and re-string them the other way round. (And then trim them).  You'd be surprised how much sound you get back doing that - I notice that Naudo does the same.  Maybe we are both cheapskates, but restringing means more bedding in time, two weeks before new strings stop stretching so much, even if you pre-stretch them!

The trebles are the same as used in the the EXP45 set.

Straight up - great sound. However I couldn't say whether they are better than the EXP45. The basses bedded in quickly as expected, the nylon trebles take ages, no surprises there. The tone is lasting a long time, also as expected - you would hope they are an improvement on the EXP45. 
 
One extra variable I added to the testing equation is that I have jumped up a hardness level. So some of the sound difference would be coming from the different tension. That test will need to wait until I wear these ones out and try the normal tension.
 
So there you have it. D'Addario's new coated strings. So far so good.

Update: so I ran this set of strings for 6 months.  I hadn't been playing out so I didn't need freshest of the fresh strings, but the strings still didn't sound fully dead when I took them off. I'm only playing 2-3 hours a week so they lasted somewhere between 50-100 hours of good sound.  That initial brand new brightness lasts only around 2 weeks, but unlike uncoated strings they aren't dead after two weeks, they are still around 75% of the new sound, and 6 months later probably still 50%.  So from a sound-for-value, and not having to bed new strings too often, they get two thumbs up.  I just put a fresh set on, XT normal tension.

Note that I don't receive anything from D'Addario in talking about their products.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

New year, new tutorial!

I started developing a "Tips and Tricks" for my fingerstyle guitar tabs a while back, and kept putting off finishing it, but with a bit of spare time over the holidays I knuckled down and got it done, yah!

Since slowly re-publishing my tabs in (the even more beautiful latest version) Musescore format and releasing them on Patreon, I knew that I needed a little primer video to get everyone started. While the tabs stand alone, and there is always the video I record of me playing them, there are a few tips and tricks I wanted to talk about.

Making videos like these, by yourself, is a big undertaking.  I reckon around 15 hours from start to finish for this little 10 minute video.  All those professional people out there, making amazing looking courses and tutorials - huge huge effort, well done.  I like making videos, but wow, this sort of video, just so much work.

I've also transcribed it, with tab bits, for people who prefer to read than watch a video.  Yah!

Nothing is new under the sun, but maybe there was something in here you'd never thought about!

I'm never happy with the end result when I record, well, any video, I can pick so many faults in them, but each time I make a video it's a little better than the last one. If I keep going, one day I might be good at it.  But for now, it's about looking after my Patreons, and this was something I really wanted them to have access to.

Go have a look! Enjoy! Here is the Transcript and watch the video below:



JAW