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I’m back November 7, 2010

Posted by bernie87fl in Mission, Music.
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Apparently, I needed a year off.
My boss is nice. He gave it to me. Nice boss!

The Good

I have been in the studio almost every day since the summer, doing Guitar Aerobics and studying the Fretboard Workbook. It is paying off, filling in the gaps in my self-taught education. I was pretty darn good at certain things, but let me tell you: there were gaps, baby!!

My non-musical ideas have also begun to take shape, in Zebrascape’s brand-new online store at Zazzle.com!

The Bad

My trusty laptop computer, my would-be awesome portable design studio, continues to suffer from growing pains. Long story, but since May I have been through quite a process of shopping for upgrades (from extra RAM to pro audio software), hesitating about what to upgrade, waiting for money to upgrade, installing and testing the upgrades, running into glitches that disappear when I take the computer to the shop, and still today getting glitches. Drat!

The latest opinion, after a trip to the nearest Apple Store, is that all the trouble boils down to a flaky hard drive. Probably. I will go back to the shop that installed it and try to get it swapped out.

The Ugly

Meanwhile, while practicing, I find myself playing certain bits and pieces of things that might develop into “real” music but then forgetting all about them after three days.

So instead of forgetting about them, I’ve decided to record and share them as rough drafts. Very rough drafts. I call them “Wing-its.” Chock full of potential, ideas, raw spirit … and errors. BIG errors! But who cares? If I grow attached to one, I will rerecord it or edit it to digital perfection. Think of it this way, if music is a gift, isn’t it really the thought that counts?


Blues Jam: a wing-it

A blues piece that happened while I was working on a fingering pattern with descending fourths. There is also a bass track that probably won’t be audible on standard computer speakers.


E swing thing: another wing-it

Another blues fragment. I clicked the “Texas Blues” setting in GarageBand, heard how it sounded on my guitar, and immediately found my fingers playing this. Not that I’m such a huge fan of blues per se, but it’s an easy format for messing around. The rhythm here is terribly, horribly off, but that’s just ’cause, umm, I want to practice time-line editing in Logic Studio. Er, I mean, ’cause I don’t want those dang web-surfing kids ripping off my mp3’s to use as GarageBand loops. Actually, I couldn’t hear the click track very well while recording. No bass here, just a few guitars.


Remember, it’s the thought that counts!


Gettin’ Logical November 11, 2009

Posted by bernie87fl in Mission.
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Logic Express 9 arrived today. It is the “lite” version of Logic Studio, which is one of the premier professional recording software suites available today. I am excited to get started with Logic and then upgrade to the full version in a month or two.

It is amazing what you can get nowadays for a few hundred dollars!

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.