Spent the evening playing different guitars through the Mesa Boogie Mark IV with the volume down at around 1 to 1.2 while the kids slept upstairs, the in-laws watched a movie in the other room, and my wife surfed the web.  I tried to use the recording out as a headphone amp, but it didn’t work very well.  Next time I’ll try plugging it into my mixer and see if that works better.

I really do like the sound of channels 1 & 2.  I haven’t played around too much with channel 3, but that’s because it is a bit too loud…even at 1 to 1.2 on the output volume.  Channel 1 is a great clean sound that reminds me a lot of the Fender Deluxe Reverb sound I have been seeking since I let that one slip away and the Old School Amp I keep looking at when I visit my local guitar shop.  Channel 2 is currently set up with a good blues crunch.  Single notes are clear and open, but chords have some omph to them.  I think I will try to dial in a more rockin’ sound in channel 2 so it is a better go between from channel 1 to channel 3.  The lead channel (#3) sounds great, but I haven’t been able to use it much because I haven’t been playing strong power chords in channel 2.  It’s been too clean, but that should be easy to change…I’ve read the entire Mark IV users manual!

The most surprising thing was how good my Epiphone Crestwood sounded through the Mark IV.  Wow!


Martyr Syndrome

My coworker with all the cool guitar stuff is loaning me his Mark IV amp.  He bought a Mark V and is hoping I will forget all financial responsibility and buy it from him.  I’m grateful for the temptation!  Ha!

I’ve started by reading the manual while I eat breakfast with the kids.  I have gotten to play with it a bit, but have relied on the settings my coworker left on there.  It sounds really good to me, but I’m still trying to figure out if it is truly feasible.

So much for me being a martyr because I have NOT done so many things I want to do.

I’ll post more about this amp exploration later…once I have had a chance to explore it!

Have Not

In less than two weeks and I m changing job roles at work. I am rotating into an interim management position and I’m very excited. But with this rotation comes a whole bunch of new responsibilities and I have to wrap up a whole bunch of stuff I’ve been working on in my old position. It is hectic to try to prepare to start one and to prepare to hand one off.
So these past few days have felt like days of “have not”:

  • I have not ridden my bike in a week.
  • I have not updated my blog.
  • I have not played the guitar.
  • I have not finished my old projects.
  • I have not understood my new responsibilities.
  • I have not worked out.
  • I have not been home at reasonable hours.
  • I have not been focused on the other things going on in life.
  • I have not gone to the “no sales tax” sale at my local guitar shop.
  • I have not relaxed.
  • I have not finished everything I need to.
  • I have not let this overwhelm me.
  • I have not let this jeopardize my vacation time next week.
  • I have not done a lot of things.

And yet I have so much.  Most importantly I have a loving family.

And now I have to go back to work.

Roller Derby

Went to the Oly Rollers roller derby tonight! Had a great time and enjoyed the bouts (double header). I was a little disappointed with their music selection. They kept playing the same ten songs.

They didn’t actually play this song, but I was thinking it would be more punk rock. Don’t get me wrong. I think the event had a very punk rock feel, but I was expecting the music to match.

The best part of the evening was every time AC/DC’s Thunderstruck was played over the loudspeaker.

Well, maybe the best part was when the DJ played the intro to the Hokey Pokey as the visiting team took the rink. That was hilarious. Then it flipped to Let The Bodies Hit the Floor… what was the DJ trying to say?
Some live music would’ve said it better!

Wish List

At some point in this blog I started to make a list of what I think I want in an amp.  Well, I’m making another list.

I would like:

  • all tube
  • two footswitchable channels (fender clean, rocking dirty)
  • 5 to 15 watts (switchable or attenuatable)
  • usable with band (i.e. with drums)
  • headphone out (got kids)
  • line out (to record silently on my computer)
  • effects loop (because I don’t have one and it seems important since all the cool kids do)

I made this list before actually going back to look at my old amp wish list.  Looks like I forgot built in reverb.  I’ve also switched from 15 to 20 watts down to 5 to 15 watts.  I must admit this is probably a direct result of the Old School Amp I’ve been lusting after for such a long time now.  But I’m still worried about having enough power to play with a drummer.  And I can’t make the financial commitment on the Old School Amp that seems to be a one trick pony.  Admittedly it is a one trick pony I really like, but I have limited funds and limited ability to justify the cost.  Maybe someday.

Swagger Guitar

Anyone out there seen the new Toyota Sienna minivan ad campaign?  I hadn’t until a family member posted the rather entertaining and funny Swagger Wagon video on their blog.

So after laughing at that ,I clicked through to the next ad.

I hate the ad, but would really like to buy that guitar!  It looks like some sort of semi-hollow Teisco that is like the original Fender Starcaster.  Can I afford love?  Apparently not.

Lack of Practice = Band

My lack of practice really paid off today.  The friends from work and I had our first band practice.  Yes, a real band.  We had picked 9 songs to cover as our first attempt to make music together.  We played seven of the nine (and we played Gouge Away twice).  I only played one solo among those seven songs.  It was a weak attempt to play a dumbed down version of the solo in The Middle.  We didn’t play I Know What I Am by Band of Skulls and we didn’t play Peace Love & Understanding as performed by Elvis Costello.  Why didn’t we?  Because I still haven’t got I Know What I Am down and we forgot about Peace Love & Understanding until it was too late.

The other interesting thing I discovered is that I was not happy with my amp and effects.  Why?  Because I haven’t played these songs during any of my practice time through my effects and amp.  I’ve been playing acoustically to the recorded originals.  I got  a decent Message in a Bottle sound with my reverb and flanger (I know, I need a chorus).  I got a good distortion for The Middle with the help of the volume control on my guitar when I wanted to clean things up.  I was most happy with the channel switching I did for Undone – the Sweater song.  I felt like I nailed going from clean to distorted and back to clean (my timing was even pretty good for the changes in the song).  I was not happy with my distortion for our cover of Social D’s cover of Ring of Fire.  I also need to dial in a good distortion rhythm channel and lead channel for Joan Jett’s cover of I Love Rock N Roll.  I got a good rhythm sound, but not a good solo sound.   The worst one, in my mind, was the lack of tone…or just plain sucking that my guitar sounded like on Gouge Away.  The second time we played it was ok, but that first time through just sounded weak to me.

I did enjoy playing my Warmoth project guitar for all the songs but The Middle (I used Wolverine for that).  I didn’t use all the different switches, but I did go back and forth between the P-90 and the series humbucker settings of the bridge pick up.  I’ll have to play with it more as I practice in the future.  Having both guitars was nice.  They were easy to change out with the Schaller strap locks I’ve got on them.  One strap, many guitars.

The important thing is we had a blast making music.  My wife even said the songs were recognizable.  My daughter had a blast being our “dancer” and playing the tambourine.  The one weak link was my son.  He wanted to play the drums with the drummer, so my wife was kind enough to take him outside to play while the band (& my daughter) jammed!

I will readily admit that I am the worst player/musician of the three of us.  The drummer is awesome.  He hasn’t played in three years and he was laying down some amazing beats!  The bassist is better than me even when he’s singing songs he’s never heard before.  So I think this will be a great experience for me!  Yes, I really am that selfish.

My main motivation for inviting these people over to my house after work is to have fun making music.  But I also know that it will push me to get better at the guitar.  I also know that I will practice in a more focused and efficient manner (sort of).  This is like my first band experience.  It is fun.  It will take some work.  I will learn a lot.  And maybe we’ll get some gigs…  And it really is just fun!

P.S. Did I mention we might call ourselves Nerd Wagon?  Awesome!  Splendid.  Whatever.  I like it!

Practice, Practice, Not

Tomorrow evening is my new work band’s first practice.  Did I spend the weekend practicing the songs we picked to cover?  No.  I played through them a few times, but I still haven’t fully figured out how to play two of them.  I don’t know what it is, but I have not convincingly played through “I Know What I Am” by Band of Skulls.  It isn’t a hard song.  Nor is it very complicated.  But I have not got it.