Song Stuck In My Head

I’ve had a song stuck in my head for at least a week. Isn’t it great when you have a song in your head that you just keep  ignoring until you sit down and learn it one afternoon?  That guitar line just would not get out of my head.  I was humming it everywhere (silently in my head. I’m not one of those guys who walks around humming).  I couldn’t even name the actual song until I sat down to search it out (which is kind of embarrassing to admit.  It’s the BEATLES!).  So here it is!

Product placement

Part of the guitar purchase for my friend’s son was the standard cheap gig bag that comes with the starter pack.  This one smelled like an ash tray because of the living environment it had been in.  I smelled like an ash tray after only 20 minutes in that place so you can only imagine how bad the gig bag was.  I went to my local guitar store and they suggested Fender Case Deodorizer by Meguiar’s.  The advertising on the bottle talks about getting the smoky smell out of your case after a night at a smoky bar, so I was skeptical.  But I couldn’t find a replacement gig bag for less than $20 (no used ones either), so $5.99 seemed like a nice first step.

I am amazed.  With only one coating and overnight airing, the outside smelled practically smoke free.  The inside was much better, but smoke had obviously permeated the cheap exposed foam.  I did a second coat and waited another night.  It smelled a lot better, but there was still a hint of smoke coming from inside the foam.  So I really started looking at the bag.  I found the bottom of the bag, where the foam was sewn in, had become separated on both sides of the gig bag.  The holes were just big enough for my arm.   So I hollowed out the space between the foam and the bag, shoved my arm in with the deodorizer, and sprayed the insides while pulling my arm out.

After two coatings and two nights of this internal treatment, the smoke smell is gone.  It smells a little musty, but not like smoke.  And since we have a month and a half until the birthday event, it still has time to air out further.

I give Fender Case Deodorizer by Meguiar’s two thumbs up and 5 gold stars!

Guitar Week ends with a fizzle

I tried to get the $25 Peavey amp.  I figure, for $25, it will work as a great microphone amp for the singer of the Breakfast Club.  Unfortunately, the seller never responded.  And work got really busy.  And I forgot about the fencing club board meeting.  And my wife had a work emergency flair up.  And I’m re-caulking all the siding on the house.  And I had to replace the siding around one window.  And life happened.  But “guitar week day” was still fun!

Living Vicariously Continues

Once again, I am living vicariously through my friend who bought the bass and guitar.  Craigslist had a Park GB 25-12 bass amp on sale for $25.  That seemed like a good price for just about any amp, so I went over to the seller’s house, tested it out, and bought it for my friend.

The amp is a large beginner practice amp.  It’s a 25 watt solid state combo with one 12 inch speaker.  It has two inputs, a volume, bass, mid, and treble eq, a master volume, and a headphone out.  The guy who sold it was very nice.  After we finished our business with the bass amp, he showed me his other gear.  He had a keyboard, midi-keyboard controller, drum machine, an Aria strat knock-off, a late 60’s silvertone/tiesco guitar (same pick ups as my Tiesco project guitar), a behringer overdrive pedal, a behringer delay pedal, a first act bass, a behringer keyboard amp, and his latest acquisition, a mid-60’s Silvertone tube amp with two 12’s.  He let me play his two guitars through the Silvertone amp.  It had a really bad hum, but the guitars sounded really sweet and broke up perfectly when I dug in a bit harder.  I played some blues riffs and had fun.  It was nice to meet someone else who is “piecemealing” their equipment and having a great time doing it!

Guitar Cleaning

Following the instructions in the Complete Guide to Guitar and Amp Maintenance book by Ritchie Fliegler, I removed the strings, loosened the truss rod (since I knew I’d have the guitar apart for a couple of days), and began cleaning everything.  I had to tighten the bushing nuts on the tuning machines.

The guitar had this nasty grim on it that I can only imagine was a combination of cigarette smoke, sweat, and whatever else was in the apartment we bought it from.  I used a damp cloth first on the body, then a dry one, and then one of those $3 Fender guitar clothes with some real elbow grease.  It cleaned up very nicely, but revealed some deeper scratches that had not been as obvious before.  I may try polishing those out later.

I also used DeoxIT D5 to clean the pots and 5 way selector.  The selector was the one problem piece I noticed when we made the purchase, so I’ll be interested to see if the DeoxIT was all that was needed to get it working again.  I’ll let you know after I put everything back together.

I then used a damp cloth with soap to clean the pick guard, careful to avoid getting the pick ups and other electronics wet.  It looks brand new.

I then followed Fliegler’s advice and cleaned the fretboard with zippo lighter fluid on a rag.  The “schmunda” came off fairly easily, but it was gross.  I played this guitar with my bare hands!  I kept thinking back to those times, wondering if I had washed my hands before eating, rubbing my eyes, touching my mouth, picking my nose…

Finally, I got to oiling the fretboard.  Fliegler recommends lemon oil.  I don’t have any, so I began looking online for alternatives.  That’s when I found a legitimate sounding article that explained the science behind different oiling solutions.  The author recommends against lemon oil, but I couldn’t figure out what alternative I should use based on the article and the ingredients lists on the bottles of stuff at my local hardware store.

So I’m frozen with indecision right now.  I don’t have time to really look into the best tool for the job.  I’m leaning toward Fliegler’s lemon oil.  How bad can it be if he used it?

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Follow up: I used the lemon oil, it seems to be working great.

Guitar Week!

What started out as a potentially Guitar-centric weekend is turning into Guitar Week.  Not as good a guitar week as I had originally hoped, but certainly a good one.  It started with our good family friends deciding they wanted to buy a guitar for their 10 year old son, but their budget was limited.

Willing to accept the challenge, I began trolling craigslist and was shocked at how many cheap guitars and amps were being offered for even less money.  There were the obvious Strat starter packs being resold by parents for $200, but there were a ride range of home-made and lone LP and Strat knock-offs being offered for under $100.  And amps ranging from ten to thirty dollars.

I sent them a range of options so they would know what they could get spend their money on, and then I went back to my guitars and started playing.  Not only did I play, but I wrote and recorded a song idea each day.  I haven’t done that since before the Boy arrived.

The weekend ended as it always does and the work week started bright and early.  Monday morning I got a call from my wife inviting me to lunch with our friends.  I headed over to the restaurant and we celebrated the wife’s first day back to college.  We also discussed guitar purchases and the fact that the husband wants to get the Hanna Montana bass we joked about months ago.  He saw this as his chance to bond with his son once they get him a guitar.

So, with his money in hand, I hit the local guitar shop on the way back to work and walked out with a pink Johnson Precision-style Bass with the Hanna Montana logo on it.  Not two hours later, our friend called me and asked if I was available to go look at one of the guitars I had sent the craigslisting on.  Sure!

After work we headed out to a not so nice part of town.  We knocked on the apartment door and a big guy answered.  We walked in and got a contact high almost immediately.  I tested the 20th Anniversary Squire Affinity Strat, First Act MA104 practice amp, two guitar cables, tuner, and original Line 6 Pod.  We talked the guy down to $125 and left.  Did we get a screaming deal?  Probably not.  Did we pay a low, but fair price?  Probably.  The practice amp is the weakest part of the deal since it is $30 new, probably $10 to $15 used.  The Pod is the first generation and goes for about $60 on eBay.  The cables are nice 10 ft cables with locking gold connectors which were well used.  So, conservatively, the guitar was $75.  Are we happy?  Yes!

On the way home we talked about why we were happy.  This guitar set up will probably need a new amp in the near future, but when the 10 year old’s friend with little money concerns gets a new Strat guitar pack, the 10 year old won’t have an inferior piece of equipment.  The POD should even the playing field and give him something cool to play with that the other kid won’t.  Plus, if it needs to be resold in a year or two, it should be easier to resell (admittedly at a bit of a loss).

When I got home I saw a Peavey amp for $25.  Will guitar week continue?  I hope so!

Serious Guitar Envy

I work with a guy who has been playing guitar on and off semi-professionally for about forty years.  We always chat about guitars, gigs (his), effects, amps, etc. whenever we have reason to work together.  So finally, after ending many conversations with both of us saying we need to get together, I invited myself over.  WOW.  We had talked about most of the guitars, effects, and amps that he owns, but seeing and playing them was amazing.

He’s got a G&L tele, G&L strat, G&L bass, Taylor 314CE, Taylor classical, 1971 Spanish classical (from Spain), 1970 Gibson Les Paul, Godin acoustic-electric 12 string, another Godin strung with just the high octave strings from a 12 string so it sounds like a mandolin, Schecter Stargazer 12 string, Parker Fly Classic, early-90’s all black PRS McCarty, a Heritage Eagle, and a few others I can’t remember.

We played all of these through either a Mesa Boogie Mark IV, Mesa Maverick, Fender Acoustisonic, or some modeling Yamaha amp.  We jammed for a little bit, him on bass, me on guitar.  But most of the two hours I was there was spent taking turns playing each of his guitars.  I have to say, my favorite was the Parker Fly.  It just felt right.

Pedals included a Joe Meek QFloor compressor, Roland synth (never played organ or sax on the guitar before!), Boss CE-5 Chorus, Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster, Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter, Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde, Korg Pitchblack tuner, and a few others.

Three things came out of this visit.  First, my co-worker was very gracious and really made me feel comfortable with my drooling all over his equipment and my much lower playing ability.  He really was nice.   And his generosity gave me a lot of exposure to a lot of great guitars.  It was also nice to get his opinion on his guitars and compare that to my initial opinion as I played them.  It helped me understand and better articulate some of the features I like and don’t like in a guitar because I was able to take what he said and see what I agreed with and didn’t agree with.

Second, I need to build up my song repertoire so I can actually play with other people. Our jamming together was rather short lived because I still felt uncomfortable.

Third, I need to master the equipment I have so when I can afford that amazing guitar (Parker Fly, Vox Virage, Rickenbacker 480, or something else), I will actually be able to use the added quality and features that I may not have with my current budget guitars.

Another Austin City Limits

Just watched another episode of Austin City Limits on the ol’ DVR.  Maybe I just need to copy and paste that first sentence into every post.  I really don’t watch tv all the time, but apparently it has been an inspiring show these past few weeks/months.

Anyway, I just watched the M. Ward/Okkervil River episode. I enjoyed both performances, but really really really (as my daughter would say) liked the Okkervil River performance!  M. Ward was good, but the thing I liked best about his performance was his Johnny A. signature model Gibson.  So if anyone wants to give me a Johnny A. signature model Gibson guitar, I would not complain.  In fact, I’d be very grateful!

The Okkervil River performance really captured my imagination and emotions.  I really felt a swelling of good emotions as I watched their performance.  The emotions of it reminded me of how I feel when I listen to Arcade Fire. I bet they get compared a lot, but I think they are different enough to not be an imitation of each other.

It was also hard to miss Lauren Gurgiolo playing a black Les Paul right up front.  Apparently she graduated from Univerity of Texas at Austin where she studied jazz guitar.   She’s a multi-instrumentalist and joined Okkervil River in 2008. I’m sure there is more to her story, but I couldn’t find it in time to add it to this post.  Just check out the Dialtones.

Justin Sherburn was also great on his Gibson semi-hollow body.  It looked like an ES-335, but I couldn’t be sure.  Not that it really matters, he got some great sounds out of it!