Fuzzy Love

I am loving fuzz right now. I don’t know exactly who or what to blame, but for some reason I just want to dive into all the different fuzz effects.

Ok, maybe I do know what and who to blame a bit. First, playing my Freznel Champ Super Sportster the other night with all the glorious preamp gain from the M channel just felt right. Second, I’ve really been getting into Fuzz Box Girl’s blog and video reviews of lots and lots of fuzz effects! They just sound great.

Her reviews don’t have a lot to do with my own fuzz effects (she has a lot more than I do). I have a Russian Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi and an American Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi. The American Big Muff is currently on my board, but I have to admit that I haven’t been too happy with the sound lately. I’ve been more happy with the Marshal Guv’nor Plus overdrive pedal on my board. I posted once about how I figured out the order of my fuzz and overdrive pedals here, but now I’m thinking I may have to reevaluate. I also have a Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive that I haven’t used in a while. Perhaps I’ll be doing a shoot out in the very near future between the pedals I own!

Electric Lesson

Due to some last minute schedule changes we had our guitar lesson at my house…which meant we got to plug into guitar amps and play loud!

Well, not too loud. We’re still learning chords and single string songs which isn’t as fun to play loud. But it was still fun.

And for me, the best part was turning up the gain on my Frenzel Super Champ Sportster, turning down the master volume to a somewhat comfortable level, and then play Back in Black for my students.

I waited till we were done with the lesson, and I only played the rhythm guitar part. I love playing the electric guitar. I love hearing the tone of a good amp and a good guitar. I love how it all comes together.

I did have to laugh at how I had to readjust all the knobs on my Warmoth project guitar. The two volume knobs had been turned all the way down and the stacked tone knobs were way off from where I usually have them. My son has been messing with it, but not damaging it, so I can’t complain.  Also, the Triple Shot pick up ring configuration selectors were not set right for what I wanted to play. And yet I was able to dial it all in fairly quickly. This surprised me, but made me very happy. At first I thought it was just me playing poorly until I took a moment to focus on my tone rather than on my students. Then I was able to quickly go back to their playing. It worked like it is supposed to: a combination of good tools and some knowledge of the possibilities.

A nice evening overall. I hope they had a good time too!

Fun Song To Learn/Teach

I think I’ve posted before (but once again am too lazy to look for it) about playing the song Back In Black!

The internet provides so many resources. I am amazed by how much is out there. Here‘s the same song with tab and midi so you can change the tempo and play along. I sometimes forget how people learned songs before the explosion of the internet.

Not only is learning/lessons more readily available, but it can even be used for playing together. I mentioned in the past that my sister wants to start up the guitar again. So we’re going to use Skype to video chat and play together…when we’re on different sides of the country!

Plus I read all the time about artists recording their parts of a song and then sending it electronically to the other members of the band who then record their parts. Amazing!

Now I’ll admit that playing live with people is difficult to improve upon, but it isn’t always feasible. But most guitar players are usually working alone in the bedroom most of the time anyway, so any chance to work with others is a good thing!

How do you use the internet (for guitar stuff)?

Priority Concern

KC and I go to the same church. He came up to me afterwards and asked, “Is it a bad sign if my son and I were later for church because we were playing our guitars?”

We laughed and agreed that it was not a bad sign. They were working on a song together and really enjoying playing together.  So they left their house a bit late.

I was particularly pleased to hear that Son of KC is playing more now that he has his Star Wars guitar (they are calling it the Darth Vader Guitar). KC said that asking Son of KC to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on a single string seemed silly to his son at first, but once he started playing it and could figure it out on his own, it just opened up his eyes to what he was learning. He could play a song all the way through, even if it was a “silly kid’s song.”

My next lesson with them will be the chords for Twinkle, Twinkle so they can take turns playing the single string and the chords. Then we’ll go back to Ring of Fire and then start up Hal Leonard’s Guitar Method Book 1!

But the whole event does raise the question, what should our priorities be? Church/religion can be a huge priority in people’s lives. So can learning something new. Don’t forget quality time with family members. There are so many ways to look at this. Any words of advice on how to evaluate one’s priorities? How do you focus on the important things (and determine what things are important)?

Organ Reminder

My wife played the organ for the hymns in church today. Unfortunately she didn’t get to practice in advance, but she did pretty good sight reading at least one of the songs she’d never seen or heard before.  I think she did great! She laughs it off and says she doesn’t play the organ, she just knows which buttons to push on the machine.

As always, I enjoyed listening and watching to her play, but once again I just enjoyed the sound of the organ. It helps having an entire chapel for the sound to reverberate in, but it also is just a sound a like. Those droning base notes always blow my mind.  Makes me want to redouble my efforts to figure out how to set up my Digitech RP200 to recreate an organ sound until I can afford an ElectroHarmonix POG2! Just love it!

The Wall

For the first time in a long time I hit the proverbial wall last night. I was at a fencing tournament, seeded first coming out of the pools, and badly lost the quarter final bout against someone I had beat earlier in the pools. I didn’t have anything left and it was obvious.

Now, after a few hours of sleep and some food, I’m ready to go! Anyone up for a rematch?!?

The reason I even bring this up is because of the similarities it has with my guitar activities of late. I don’t know if it is exhaustion, stress, etc., but I was feeling like I had hit the proverbial wall. I didn’t write a blog entry for a week. I haven’t worked on any guitar projects in a week. My guitar lesson with KC and Son of KC was mediocre at best this week. I let my sister down after committing to helping her get back into the guitar (going to try lessons via skype since she’s far away). The list could go on and none of it is horrible or long term, but I just hit a wall…so I won’t bore you.

Then yesterday I found the second edition Hal Leonard Guitar Method Books 1, 2, and 3 at a local thrift store for sixty-nine cents each. Here’s the structure I need for Son of KC’s guitar lessons. I knew this type of resource was readily available, but I’ve been trying to do this on the cheap.

This feels like my few hours of sleep and some food, but for guitar! Look out guitar world, here comes the rematch!

Shopping!

I just completed a shopping spree for guitar parts. I didn’t buy anything, but I’m putting together the list of parts that need to be purchased for the EC white guitar project. I can go into great detail on the parts, but what I thought was more interesting was how difficult it was to shop for someone else.

I know what I like and what I would do, but this isn’t for me. This is for my friend. EC has his own interests, opinions, and dislikes. I kept thinking of the different factors that went into my likes and dislikes so I can ask him.  And, boy, do we have a lot to talk about!

Star Wars Guitar Finished

It is done. Not only is it done, but it actually works! And it is now in the possession of its true owner, 8 year old Son of KC. Congratulations to him on a great guitar build!  Well done!

For those of you who read yesterday’s blog entry, you may be wondering how it went from no electrical amplification to lots of electrical amplification. Very simple. I used my trouble shooting skills and fixed it.

Not that there was much to do. It was just a matter of figuring out what was causing the problem.

First of all, I set a big constraint on how I was going to do this. I did not want to ruin the new set of strings I just put on the guitar last night. I know, not the end of the world, but they were the last set of 9’s I had. I set up all my guitars with 10’s, but this guitar needs 9’s for the small fingers of its owner.

So, I loosened the strings and put a capo on them.

Then I took the bridge off (took the springs off and undid the screws now that the strings were loose). It stayed over at the side for the entire project and was ready to go back on when I was done.

I don’t remember where exactly I first saw this. Maybe it was the repair guy at one of my local guitar stores. Or maybe it was the internet. If I’m doing something horrible to the guitar, let me know because this worked so well that I will likely do it again (unless I hear from you dear reader!).

After that, I loosened the neck screws enough so I could pull up on the neck and get the pickguard off.

Then I used an ohm meter to test all the connections. I finally figured out it was the 5 way pick up selector switch that was mucked up and not allowing a connection. So I covered everything with towels and sprayed Deox-It inside. I worked the switch a bunch and then sprayed a bit more to flush it. Then I did the same with the pots just to be safe. This stuff is great IMHO, but I know some people don’t like it. I believe it can do bad things to a guitar finish, so be careful when using it. It can be messy!

Anyway, eventually the 5 way switch will need to be replaced, but it will be good for quite a while. Maybe another spray in a month or two…or six.

I was then able to put everything back together, check the set up again (which needed very minimal fine tuning which was probably due to the new strings more than being taken apart). However, I did not take a picture of the final guitar. I’ll get that when I see Son of KC again!

Wiring Reminder

If you’re like me (and you have my sincerest sympathies  if you are), then you need the occasional reminder of just how guitars are wired up so they actually work.

Thanks to a quick google search, here are two quick pics for remembering how to wire up a jack from Guitar Nucleus.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I finished putting the Star Wars guitar together. I set the intonation, string height, pick up height, truss rod, etc., so it seems to be pretty good. For some reason I waited until the very end to actually plug it in to my amp. It was late. The kids were already asleep. I’d been watching tv with my wife while I worked on the guitar. Whatever reason, it was very disappointing to get it all together and set up only to have it not work when I plugged it in.

That’s right, it did NOT work. No sound. Nothing.

I fiddled with it. I tested my headphone amp (a Digitech RP200) on another guitar, which worked fine. Finally, I decided it would have to wait until morning.

Then I proceeded to spend the entire rest of the night reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Very enjoyable book. Especially for my age demographic. A fun read and worth being exhausted for fencing the next day.