Android guitar apps?

Anyone out there familiar with any good guitar-centric apps for an Android phone?



Just watched the Oscars in 34 minutes courtesy of the ol’ DVR. Admittedly I have not seen all the films. We don’t see as many movies as we used to and we rarely go to the theater because the cost of a babysitter doubles the cost of the date. So we decide which movies to watch based on whether we think they are worth the big screen/big sound theater treatment or if we will be able to see them on our old tube television at home after the kids go to bed.

Music performances have become very similar. We did not go see Eric Clapton last night with a friend from fencing. We are not going to any stadium shows anytime soon. Yet we are going to two concerts in the next two months. First, we are going to see the Dismemberment Plan for their only west coast reunion show! This will be our third time to see them and we love them!

Second, we are going to see the Joy Formidable. They appear to be the new favorite band for my wife and that does not happen very often. So big thanks to those bands for putting on shows that we are willing to see and thank you to our babysitters who will allow us to enjoy them!

So I’m curious. For those of you with kids (or without), how do you decide what should receive the effort of getting out? What is worth the hour or longer drive each way? What is worth the cost of babysitting? What is worth the cost of admissions, whatever that may be?

Finally got that Tattoo…

Although it has been sitting on my desk for weeks, I finally got around to putting the free Strattoos guitar tattoo I won on one of my guitars. First of all, the product really is as simple as it sounds. I started by picking a guitar. As I’ve mentioned before, I like the 8 ball/skull graphic for my 1968 Teisco Del Rey that is now metallic green.

Unfortunately, as you can see, the guitar tattoo didn’t fit.

So I tried it on my 1974 Epiphone Crestwood ET-275.

It worked perfectly. I didn’t have any problems with air bubbles. My Crestwood is pretty flat, but the guitar tattoo lay smoothly over the rounded edges of the body. I probably could have had the guitar tattoo wrap around the edges of the Del Rey, but I didn’t like the look.

I played my Crestwood for a bit and tried rubbing off the tattoo. I could feel the ridges of the guitar tattoo, but it didn’t come off.  Admittedly, I didn’t try playing through a band practice or a gig (not that I’ve had many of those), but it seemed to work.  I also didn’t put it through the 2 year old test, but I wouldn’t do that with many of my guitars anyway.

However, my wife didn’t like it. She’s a big fan of keeping my Crestwood in its original state (“Keep at least one guitar un-modded.”). She also commented that the graphic looked like the type of temporary tattoo you’d get in a cracker jack box. Ouch. So I tested the ability of the guitar tattoo to come off.  Once I got my fingernail under the edge, which was easier than I thought, it came right off. I was careful not to rip it or pull too hard (it isn’t made of steel), but it seemed sturdy enough that I could remove it without worry.

Then I put it on my bass. It transferred over with no problems. Again, I really like the concept of this product. It is a quick and easy way to personalize your guitar without actually modifying your guitar. But more graphics are needed. The current ones available don’t really appeal to my taste. But if they appeal to you, then more power to you!

But, as I’ve said before, I’m also not going to put it on guitars that I already like as is. Sorry, but my quilt maple topped Warmoth project guitar and my Wolverine guitar are not going to get guitar tattoo treatment.

And I’m really disappointed that the guitar tattoo didn’t fit on my Del Rey. I still think it would look best on that guitar.

Budget Rigs & Priorities

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but every time I re-read it, it reads like some sort of self-important jerk wrote it. And even though I quote the Tick (“Who is this jerk that calls himself the Tick? I am that jerk!”), I don’t want to be a jerk.  So here’s my best effort so far.

I’m not poor, I’m just on a budget.

Nate, over at letsplayguitar, has begun a series of posts about how he has put together his rig on the cheap. Or, more importantly, how to sound good with cheap gear. This is a theme or topic that I really enjoy. And if you read any of this blog, you know that I am all about the jury rig, diy, make your own gear, thrift store finds, etc. Thanks Nate!

Now, he talks about having to do this because he is poor, and if you read the comments on his post, he and I have already discussed that poor is probably not the right word. Compared to most of the world, we are rich. However, in the world of guitar gear, we are poor.  Or more appropriately, we’re on a budget. A tight budget. I read about people with multiple guitars worth more than all my gear combined. They’re just on a different budget. I also read about people with the bare minimum of gear. However, we are all trying to make music with whatever we’ve got.

And then I have that sinking feeling that gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) is really not about making music. Certainly there are reasons for different gear, but how often do we as musicians (or wanna be musicians) get caught up in shopping, building, scheming, dreaming, etc over actually playing music and getting better. How many blogs are out there (including my own) lamenting the time spent reading and writing about guitars rather than playing guitars?

So, now that I’m back (and yes, I did finish Book Thirteen, Towers of Midnight, in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. That’s why my posts have still been pretty sparse.) I guess it is time to look at my new year’s resolutions.

  1. Guitar blog – updates on a regular basis (try for daily, but at least every other day), but not at the expense of playing.
  2. Guitar projects – finish my unfinished projects (2×12 speaker cabinet, 1×12 speaker cabinet (still need to sand and finish it), ruby 1/2 watt amp for work bench mini amp, effects loop pedal, tele project, wolverine electronics upgrades, strat project).
  3. Guitar practice – create my own lesson plan (warm up drills, memorize fret board, learn songs, learn new skills) and restart band practices (work band, her lovely trees band, breakfast club).
  4. Guitar purchases – purchase or scrounge what I need for projects (tele bridge, tuners, pick ups, jacks, etc.) AND make final upgrades to Frenzel amp (effects loop and second power tube) AND look for cheap Boss DD-7 and Electro Harmonix POG2 effects pedals.

Ok, maybe that fourth item is getting me back into GAS. But the goal for the year is to focus on prioritizing these things. Part of this is about using my budget to keep myself in check. Budgets are all about self-control. They are about making plans and figuring out what you really want.  Of course, some flexibility is needed to handle unforeseen events, but the goal is to stick to the plan. We’ll see how things progress in future blog entries. Thanks for reading!

Music Lover

I love music. I love listening to music. I love making music. I love thinking about music. I love collecting recorded music. I love seeing music performances. I love reading about music and musicians and musical instruments. I love shopping for music gear. I love trying to make music.

Since I took up the guitar, I have been able to hear more in music. I hear the different instruments better than I did before. I hear the bass. I hear the drums. I hear the guitar. I hear the strings, organ, piano, lap steel, whatever. I hear the parts that make up the whole better than I ever have.

When I was a kid, my favorite song was “We Built This City” by Starship. At the time I didn’t know the history behind the band. I didn’t know about the electric drums or the chorus heavy guitar sound. I just knew I liked the song.

So now I listen to the song and I have memories of those emotions and what I liked about the song. But I also don’t hear the song as a whole like I did before.

A week or two ago we got the Wilco album “a ghost is born” at the library book sale. I put it in the car and listened to it as I drove around. At first, I was hearing the different instruments of each song. I really liked the guitar intro to “Hell is Chrome.”  And the guitar solo for that song is very Neil Young-esque in my mind.

Then I got to the guitar solo at about the 9 minute mark in “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”. It doesn’t quite go with the music.

It doesn’t line up with where I think it would line up in the song. I could only listen to the solo or the song, not both. So I had to pull back as I listened. I had to listen to the whole song and ignore the parts. I had to feel as much as listen.

How do you listen to music?  Do you hear the parts more than the whole? Do you break it down in an eternal quest to recreate it in your mind, as if you could recreate it if you could just break it down into its individual tracks? That’s what I do.

But I’m trying to get away from that. It took me multiple listens to get to this realization and we’re only talking about one album.  I’m trying to get back into just enjoying the song as a whole. I’m trying to just love the music.

Mike says hello

“Mike says hello” was the caption to this photo my buddy in Portland sent me Tuesday, Feb 8.

That’s right, it is Social Distortion playing Portland earlier this month.  And I did not go.  My buddy (and guitarist/singer of Supplemental Jurisdiction) invited me down the day tickets went on sale. I agonized for a few weeks, but decided it just wasn’t worth going down on a Tuesday night the week before my big fencing exam.  The fact that I got sick and had bronchitis that week made my decision to not go that much better.

But when he sent me this picture from the show, I must admit, my first thought was that I had made the wrong decision and should’ve gone. But it was too late to change my mind.  So I just enjoyed the show vicariously through my buddy and will think a little more before I decline the next invite.

new jam band

We have entered a new phase of family bands in my household. Our family friend who is hip, cool, and talented came over to jam. We had a blast playing her songs.  It was a bit unnerving, yet exciting when she said she doesn’t know many covers. Other than the one original song my lawschool band wrote, I’ve never played anything but covers.  Then she started playing her Martin, my wife started playing softly on the drums, and I followed her on electric guitar.  When she started singing, it actually sounded like we knew what we were doing!

At one point our friend and I were trying to figure out what key a song was in so I could play little riffs in the background and we were wrong.  It sounded bad.  My wife was chuckling from behind the drum set and I asked her what was so funny.  She laughs, “You’re cute when you’re off by a half step.  The song is in B, not C.”  I moved my hands over a fret and suddenly it didn’t sound so bad.

So thanks to Her Lovely Trees for a great evening of music and laughs!  And especially for giving my wife a reason to play the drums.  After you left she even admitted that being in a band is fun!  We’ll see if she actually buys some brushes for playing quietly.

Win Win

It appears my next stop should be Vegas, baby!  I just received my second prize (not second place, but actual second item after the guitar tattoo) in the mail.  At the end of January, Not Playing Guitar blog was nice enough to give everyone a heads up on a give away.  I just received “How To Hot Rod Your Fender Amp: modifying your amplifier to get magical tone” by Jeffrey Falla.  It isn’t really a prize as much as a give away by Voyager Press.  But I am one of the lucky recipients of the giveaway, so that makes me the winner!

Here’s what I sent them as my entry:

Guitars I own:
Peavey Preadator strat knock off with everything moded and upgraded but the pickups!
Warmoth parts project guitar – strat body, firebird neck, p-rails
1974 Epiphone Crestwood
1968 Teisco Del Rey K-3L
Epiphone “1965” G-400
Arbor Spirit (licensed Steinberger knock off)
no name classical acoustic
no name Les Paul knock off

You should probably ask what amps people own since this is a book about amp mods!

After I’ve read Book Thirteen, Towers of Midnight, in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson, I’ll post a review of it.  But so far, it looks very good.  Remember, I’ve got priorities now that I have to keep, so timing is everything.

But most importantly, thanks!

Let’s Give Em Something to Blog About

In honor of Valentine’s Day (and the fact that I’m in love) it appears I am returning to a more regular blogging schedule with this song.

Admittedly, not my favorite Bonnie Raitt song, but a fun tune, always great slide work, and certainly linkable to V.D. (hee hee, I’m so punny).

Now this is more like it!  That big (well, big to me) fencing instructor exam was this past weekend and I passed! So now it is back to reality. However, as I’ve mentioned before, there have been a lot of sacrifices by more people than just myself.  And as much as getting back into guitar stuff is a priority, getting back into other people’s lives and them getting back into their personal interests is an even greater priority.

I am excited to get back into guitars and blogging, but I think it will be a slow transition. Or maybe I’ve been ignoring the other voices in my head long enough. Now that I’m listening again I may have lots to say (or at least repeat).