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Mr. Bass now as cool as his friends September 5, 2009

Posted by bernie87fl in Music, Resource.
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All three of my electric guitars were recently pampered at Music Central, and they are now playing like new. In some cases, better than new.

But not my poor bass guitar! His frets were still buzzing, and his intonation was off, and he sulked in the corner while the cool ones hobnobbed and laughed it up.


Happily, that all changed today, as I took Mr. Bass in to the shop, and they got him back to me the same day! Now, we are one big, happy, stringed family.

Electric fleet gets new life at Music Central August 19, 2009

Posted by bernie87fl in Music, Resource.
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What a great day! For a total expense of under $400, I have three great guitars, whereas I formerly had only one working guitar, and it was only somewhat playable.

My graphite-gray Phoenix Electra from boyhood, on which I learned everything, has not been playable in twenty years, mostly because I wore down the frets like mad, but there were various other issues too. I took it to a shop early this year, hoping to get it fixed up, but they told me this guitar was not salvageable. Good thing I did not throw it out (major sentimental pack-rat here!!), because the guys at Music Central said they could make it like new, and they sure did! Better than new, actually. I guess my fingers still remember it, because I can play it better than any of my others.

They also fixed up my red Peavey Nitro from college band days, which was still fairly playable, but its intonation has been off for a long time, and the action was all scrambled up due to some silly amateur (me) messing around with it, and it had other smaller issues too.

On top of that, they talked me into buying a cute little purple guitar, used but fixed up really nicely. A dual humbucker like my Phoenix, but with a fixed bridge and a somewhat thicker tone, it fits into the family nicely.

Now, these are not famous, classic, brand-name guitars. I’m not into that. I guess it’s my engineering aesthetics, but I get a huge kick out of making something work that isn’t supposed to work. The cheaper, the more makeshift, the more “huhh??”, the better. Now, these guitars are not “makeshift” in any way; they just aren’t some Fender signature strat reissue, etc. Thanks to my new best friends at Music Central, my new old cheap guitars are more playable than anything I’ve ever experienced, just as playable and great-sounding as if I’d spent thousands of dollars.

Take anything, make anything!

New acquisitions August 17, 2009

Posted by bernie87fl in Music.
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Deep Purple



I didn’t expect to buy an entire case of harmonicas today, but that is another story. ‘Cause after I bought the harmonicas, I ran across a beautiful purple guitar, used and cheap but fixed up very nicely, with two humbucking pickups.

I had been thinking for a while about getting a dual-humbucker, so pretty soon I was loading this purple guitar into my Acura and heading home. Then I returned with my other two electrics to have them worked over and fixed up. The techs at this particular shop are excellent, with very reasonable prices. Now I am happy, because I have solved several guitar issues without spending a lot of money.


This is the very coolest software suite I have stumbled on in a long time. My musical aspirations go beyond writing and recording songs, to finding new sounds by creating and adapting musical technology—and making it easier for other musicians to find new sounds. I had been assuming that I’d have to write low-level computer code in order to do this, and I knew it would be a while before I am ready to dive back into that stuff.

But, it turns out that Cycling 74 has created this excellent programming tool just for people like me, people who want to program their computers to make sound in novel ways yet don’t actually want to program their computers—if you know what I mean. This software is definitely on my wish list now, but it is not cheap. And I may want to upgrade my recording software first. Or not. We’ll see which wins out.

The sound of old denim March 24, 2009

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This morning, I sorted through a bunch of old jeans, creating a pile of half a dozen pairs too ratty to give away.

I was not expecting the pile to bristle with wonderful sounds. You can scuff the material against itself, beat one pair of jeans with another … if you dangle one pair by the waist a few feet off a hardwood floor and drop it, you get a nice extended fwwump with a similar character to a compressed snare …

I saved one pair, stored next to the empty tequila bottle and authentic camel bells.

Look, a Song! A Kazooka! March 15, 2009

Posted by bernie87fl in Song.
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Here is my song “Symbolic Dog Blues,” first verse, featuring … the Kazooka!

The Kazooka is a hard-rock electrified kazoo that I’ve been dreaming of for years, and this song’s only purpose was to experiment with it. That, and to give me a chance to learn some audio engineering skills. So, I kept the music simple. Ultra-simple.

Well, something there is about a kazoo—the song got really silly really fast, and pretty soon I was having ’way too much fun doing character voices. Maybe it’s because my heroes include Weird Al Yankovic and Frank Zappa.

Listen for the solo halfway through. I hummed the whole thing in one take!

By the way, the only reason I made a video is so I could use YouTube for blogging.

Total recording time: eight to ten hours.
Total engineering time afterward: three months!!

Three months??

Folks, I’ve had a lot of training on this audio gear, on designing the circuits and the algorithms. But using the gear to get the sounds you want is another story. Think of building a guitar vs. playing it. As a studio mix-master, I think I am now smarter than a fifth grader, barely!

Next …

The second verse is underway. We lose the acoustic guitar and blues vocalist, and we pick up a heavy electric guitar and bass, while Brit sings. Jimbob gets annoyed with the guitar, because it keeps cutting him off, so that’s fun. In the third verse, Brit will grab the guitar and rock out, much to Jimbob’s amazement. Goodbye, ultra-simple!

Hopefully, the next verse will not take three months!

Update: 2nd verse and solo posted. No three months this time!!