Archive for the "General" Category

Fretboard Journal Interview with David Grier

Even though David Grier is based out of Nashville, I don’t know much about his music. The Fretboard Journal recently spent an hour or so speaking with Grier about guitar and music:

With Fretboard Journal Live, we sit down for one-on-one talks with some of the world’s most interesting musicians. Our first episode features flatpicking guitar legend (and cover story for our 16th issue) David Grier. Grier talks about his music-filled childhood (his father Lamar performed was a banjo player for Bill Monroe in the ‘60s), the impact that Clarence White had on his playing, how he developed his technique and more. We also hear about Grier’s current dreadnought of choice, an instrument built by Washington luthier Dake Traphagen.

Music performed by Grier includes “King Wilkie’s Run” and “Red Haired Boy.” Hosted by FJ publisher Jason Verlinde.

They recorded the interview, and I found it to be really interesting, and the pieces Grier plays are really nice. Check it out below:

Posted in: General, interviews

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Home Recording on a Small Budget

Home Recording on a Small Budget

Ed. Note: This article is a guest post written by Alexander Briones who is one of the specialists at Hitsquad which provides a range of music equipment guides. You can follow him on Twitter @MusiciansNews

Thanks to the flood of affordable home recording equipment, making music at home has become increasingly accessible. So if you’ve been hesitating to record your music, the good news is that you can now do so on a small budget. The bad news is that there are so many available devices that it can be confusing, and this is where we come in to help by showing you how you can start recording music at home without over spending.

Computer

Computers play a critical role in home recording, it is where your music is going to be recorded, processed, stored and shared from. Since computers are becoming more affordable and are useful for both work and entertainment – it is getting easier to justify the need for such a device at home. If you don’t have one yet, you can acquire recording capable desktop or laptop computers for less than $500. The newer iPads are also gaining popularity among musicians and producers because they are capable of doing small scale recordings, so if you already have one you should know that aside from browsing social media sites and playing games – you can use it to record and make quality music.

Music Production Software

To turn your computer into a music making machine, you will need a software designed for music production. Thankfully, there are now affordable and even free alternatives to expensive recording software that provides enough facilities for home recording purposes. GarageBand is a good example, and is bundled with newer Mac computers. Windows users can go for free software like Audacity that lets you record, apply effects and mix your recordings. If you are looking to add virtual instruments like drums or synths to your music, you can go for FL Studio producer which is currently being sold online for $199. iPad users can pick from a long list of affordable and free apps to record and make music with.

Microphones

For affordable home recording setups, USB condenser microphones are ideal because they can be connected to your computer directly and they can capture both vocals and instruments. In fact, a computer and a good USB mic is already a capable recording rig for singers that play acoustic guitar! With so many manufacturers competing, you can get good USB mics for less than $80. One mic worth mentioning is the MXL 990 which comes with a free shock mount and mic stand adapter. Another popular and even more affordable mic is the Samson C01U, which has limited features but captures audio well enough to be used by many home recording artists and musicians. If you have an audio interface, you can use none-USB microphones that are specifically designed for vocals or for instruments.

Audio Interface

Another important device that you need for home recording is an audio interface, it will serve as an intermediary between your microphone or instrument, and your computer. For less than $150, you can get yourself a powerful two channel audio interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Two channel interfaces will let you capture up to two sound sources simultaneously, great for capturing live solo performances, and they have enough inputs for home recording setups. There are also a number of equally affordable audio interfaces that will let you connect your mic or instrument directly to your iPad, turning it into a mobile recording studio.

MIDI Keyboards

Even if you are strictly a guitar player, your home recording setup will benefit greatly when you add in a cheap MIDI keyboard. For less than $100, you can get yourself a compact but powerful MIDI keyboard that feature velocity-sensitive keys and pads. These units are great for adding virtual instruments to your tracks. The coolest and most stylish keyboard controller you can get within this price range would be the Arturia MiniLab, it comes with a powerful software companion that carries over 5000 synth sounds, more than enough to keep your creative juices flowing as you make music at home. You can find even cheaper options than this like the ones in this roundup of cheap MIDI controller keyboards.

Monitoring Headphones/Speakers

The last but equally important piece that you need are decent monitoring headphones and speakers. Thankfully, good monitoring speakers now come cheap, a good example would be the Alesis M1, which is sold for less than $80 in the market. A good and yet affordable pair of studio headphones would be the AKG K141 MKII (retails for $117), it provides acceptable distortion free operation ideal for home recording. You should know that even professional studios have cheap monitor speakers and headphones because they give a closer representation of how your music will sound like in the real world, especially in this age where people mostly listen through thin sounding mobile players, car speakers and earphones.

The bottom line: making music is becoming more and more accessible, which means you have less and less excuse to not complete your music projects.

Posted in: General

Only 88% of Guitar Center Customers Make it Big

Venerable news reporting agency The Onion has uncovered some depressing news for those of us who have shopped at Guitar Center in the past:

Contradicting conventional wisdom that shopping at the musical instrument retail chain guarantees one a renowned and highly successful career in music, a new study released Monday revealed that a mere 88 percent of Guitar Center customers go on to become famous musicians.

Disappointing news for those of us in the remaining 12%. The silver lining:

“Granted, most of these individuals still achieve modest success, putting out a couple of solid albums and attracting a strong regional following, but they just never quite reach the level where they’re selling out stadiums night after night on massive world tours.”

The article concludes with some advice to help those of us hoping to make it into the 88%:

…every one of Guitar Center’s customers would almost certainly become international music celebrities if they started buying the most expensive kind of strings.

Posted in: General

Reverb.com

Reverb.com is a fairly new entry in the guitar marketplace. It’s a competitor to eBay that is focused solely on musical instruments.  The site is founded by the owner of Chicago Music Exchange, so there’s a history of running a guitar retail shop behind the site.

I recently purchased a Gibson SG ’61 Reissue from the site, and I was pleased with the experience. Communication with the seller was easy, and, like eBay, there’s a feedback system that you can use to verify a seller’s track record. The guitar arrived safe and sound, and I was able to leave positive feedback easily for the seller (and he for me).

My only complaint is that they seem to be fairly aggressive in marketing the site. A few months ago, they contacted me through a Craigslist ad in an effort to get me to post the item on Reverb. Not a huge issue, but I thought it was a little spammy.

That issue aside, I’ll definitely use Reverb.com again in the future when I purchase any new guitars.

Posted in: General

Why I Paid $37,000 for One Record

I can’t imagine paying even just a few hundred dollars for a vinyl record, but John Tefteller recently paid much more. $37,000 to be exact. For one record: Tommy Johnson’s “Alcohol and Jake Blues”. Fuse.tv recently had a Q&A with Tefteller asking him about the purchase.

One night, as he does every night, Tefteller was trawling eBay when he came across the record from a seller in South Carolina. The anonymous seller found the record at an estate sale years ago, and posted it on eBay with no knowledge of the record’s true value. The record was set to sell at $16,800 when, minutes before the auction ended, it shot up to $37,000. Tefteller won’t reveal what his maximum bid was, but suffice to say, it was enough to edge past the highest bidder and get him the record.

Posted in: General

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Fewer Guitars

Perhaps it’s heresy to speak about reducing the number of guitars you own on a guitar-focused blog, but this year I’ve been very deliberate about reducing the number of guitars in my collection. While there has been a tinge of regret with selling a few of them, I’ve been happy about my decision to sell them off.

I started the year with 11 guitars, most of which I’ve accumulated over the past five years or so. Each purchase usually began with the idea of adding a new sound to my arsenal. For instance, I wanted a Telecaster to add some variety to my single coil tones. After 8 different Telecasters and two years of trying, I’ve realized I’m just not really a Telecaster guy.

What I was finding happening is that when I decided I wanted a new sound, I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect guitar. So much time, in fact, that I wasn’t playing much guitar while I was searching for the next one. Repeat this several times over the course of a year, and I started to realize that I really wasn’t even playing much guitar at all. Buying and selling guitars was taking the place of actually playing the guitar.

Furthermore, I was spending more time just playing different guitars to hear them than trying to improve my playing. I’d grab one guitar and start playing for a few minutes. Then, I’d want to hear another guitar and grab that one and play the same riffs and licks that I was playing on the first guitar. Repeat for several more guitars, and I’d really accomplished nothing in my playing session other than hearing what each guitar sounded like.

I’ve sold six of my guitars so far this year, with at least one more on the block to go. I have one guitar that I’ll never sell for sentimental reasons, but the rest must prove to be useful to me in order to stay. That is, if I don’t play one for a while, then it’ll likely be put up for sale. My hope is that this will help me whittle my guitars down to just those guitars that actually inspire me to play.

I’ve realized that having multiple guitars that provide slightly different sounds is less important to me than having fewer guitars which are all comfortable and inspiring to play. If I want different sounds, I can add a few pedals or adjust my attack to alter the tone. And, buying less and playing more is going to help me improve my tone with the guitars I have.

I love guitars and I’m not willing to say that I won’t buy more guitars in the future, but right now I’m very happy with fewer guitars. It’s allowed me to put more focus on my playing than the tools I’m using.

Posted in: Essays, General

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective

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Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective is a 7-disc collection of songs spanning Allman’s short, but prolific life. From Amazon’s editorial review of the collection:

Duane Allman was one of the defining musicians of our era, rated second only to Jimi Hendrix in Rolling Stone’s list of rock’s 100 greatest guitarists. A founding member, with his brother Gregg, of the Allman Brothers Band, Duane was also active as a session musician, and as a member of the all-star Derek and the Dominos. This seven CD set, produced by Duane’s daughter Galadrielle Allman and esteemed reissue producer Bill Levenson, shows the full breadth and depth of Duane’s work, from early recordings (with Gregg) in bands such as The Escorts, Allman Joys and Hour Glass; to his studio work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, Ronnie Hawkins and many others; to a live jam session with the Grateful Dead. The set includes several unreleased performances, many classic Allman Brothers songs, and a collector’s cache of rare singles and long out-of-print album tracks. Also included are a 72 page book with essays by Scott Schindler and Galadrielle Allman, many rare photographs, a replica of Duane’s guitar pick, and a Skydog sticker. Numbered, limited edition of 10,000.

This looks like an incredible collection for Duane Allman fans. It’s amazing how much great music Allman put out in such a relatively short period of time.

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NAMM 2013: New Guild Electrics

I’m still catching up on news from NAMM this year. One bit of news I was glad to see is about Guild building electric guitars again. One of the most interesting “new” models is a reissue of the M-75 Aristocrat:

Guild’s compact and lightweight M-75 Aristocrat™ model expertly evokes its predecessor of the early 1950s, with a gracefully sculpted single-cutaway hollow body specifically designed to produce the resonance of a larger instrument. Other premium features include a comfortable and rock-solid three-piece neck and the tonal magnificence of dual single-coil pickups. Features include a 13.5″ x 2″ hollow body, laminated spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides, three-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany neck, 24.75″ scale length, rosewood fingerboard with 9.45″ radius and 22 “vintage tall” frets, pearloid block inlays, dual single-coil pickups, three-way pickup toggle switch, two volume and two tone controls, Adjusto-Matic™ bridge, Guild “harp” tailpiece, Grover® Sta-Tite™ tuning machines and gold-plated hardware. Available in Antique Burst finish.

I’m looking forward to checking these out when they hit stores.

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Posted in: General, NAMM

Gruhn Guitars is Moving

The Tennessean is reporting that legendary vintage guitar shop Gruhn Guitars is moving to a new location a few miles away from their current location on Broadway in downtown Nashville. Gruhn has spent 42 years in downtown Nashville, but apparently the growth in the “honkey tonk” scene in that area is partly to blame:

“It can be so loud that it’s beyond belief,” Gruhn said. “Also, parking is a miserable mess in this neighborhood.”

It’s been that way for the entire 13 years I’ve lived in Nashville, so I don’t know what has really happened over the past few years to prompt the desire to move.

According to a special warranty deed processed Friday, Ruble and Brenda Sanderson purchased the property at 400 Broadway for $4.8 million.

Oh. Perhaps the $4.8 million may have something to do with it. Here’s another reason:

“This is an ideal location for beer, barbecue and Western wear,” he said. “Having several hundred people a day to tour the shop … is an impediment to business. They’re not bad people, but they’re not going to buy what I have.”

In my experience, this attitude permeated through the entire sales force. I’ve visited the shop multiple times, and each time has been a bad-to-mediocre experience. Even though I’m a local who was looking to make a purchase, I was treated as a “impediment to business.” I haven’t been back in several years.

Posted in: General

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year again to celebrate friends and family and all the blessing that we have. I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Posted in: General

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