Six strings

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There’s a behavior in practically every hobby where people glom onto what they think is the best X for Y, usually with 0 scientific evidence to back it up. Often, things just sound like they make sense and are accepted as gospel. For example, my daughter’s science experiment where people swear that audio played at 99kHz/24 bit just sounds better than CD quality 44.1kHz/16 bit because more samples has to sound better, right? (no) There are people who will argue ad nasuem if 1 in 13 right handed...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/19/2014 9:55:24 AM | Feedback (8)
Virgil Guitars is a local shop for me. I’ve seen his work up close & personal with my daughter’s & my guitar teacher, and I was very impressed with the quality and playability. One of my dreams is to one day have a custom made guitar and the actually skill to make it worth while. Virgil is trying to get his name out there a bit more and thus has a Kickstarter campaign. $2600 for a custom made guitar is a steal in my opinion. If I had it, I’d definitely grab one at that price. Just...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 8/7/2014 10:55:48 AM | Feedback (2)
The answer is Not. After getting this comment from The Oyster regarding my new song I'm working on, I went back to look at the underlying riff that was setting my ‘key’ Ran this past someone else, who took a listen and pointed out that you don't actually have a C-flat in there. Thus it's not in Dorian, it's just a simple Mixolydian. Best of luck! I looked, and yes, I did actually have C♭ hanging around… But it wasn’t necessary. I got rid of it, then reexamined what I had left, and lo &...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 3/1/2014 4:57:52 PM | Feedback (3)
Last night, I totally, completely, and utterly confused myself. I have been working on a song that so far, is working out to be quite good. It’s got energy, some interesting sounds, and even as an Electronic Dance Music kind of song, has room for some good guitar work (if I could only find a good guitarist to do the work!). Here is the ‘scratchpad’ portion of the song I’ve done so far in mp3. This is just me putting pieces together to see what works, what didn’t, etc. I really like how the...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 2/26/2014 2:20:39 PM | Feedback (6)
Easy. Just pick any random topic and give them a few minutes. They’ll merge their pet topics into anything. Take the discussion on Gibson’s new guitar line made from the wood that was illegally confiscated. (The comments are Disqus which means they’re not in any particularly understandable order, so I can’t point you to any link in particular, but you’ll see the guy). Doesn’t matter that the post is about guitars, it’s about a company using the same wood as every other guitar manufacturer in...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 2/2/2014 11:24:32 AM | Feedback (7)
Gibson gives the gov’t a middle finger salute Great Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment, so when the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville—only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended—it was an event worth celebrating. Introducing the Government Series II Les Paul, a striking new guitar from Gibson USA for 2014 that suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson’s history. Hat...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 1/31/2014 9:22:23 AM | Feedback (2)
Today I purchased Komplete 9 from Native Instruments. I’ve been learning how to do synthesis, and I’m starting to get a handle on how to do pretty basic sounds, and while I’m never going to be a legendary sound designer, I’ve got the idea on how to take an existing sound and modify it to suit my needs. Or in the case of Komplete, I’ve got something near 12,000 sounds and 120GB of samples to get me through. Anywho, just putzing around with some vocal slicing and I had this short ditty going –...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 1/20/2014 9:39:37 PM | Feedback (0)
Something want is probably sitting in someone else’s house, just getting in their way and they’ll sell it to you dirt cheap. If any guitarists out there would like a Zoom G3 effects pedal, I’m selling mine.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 1/10/2014 10:15:01 AM | Feedback (3)
I did some photography work for Routen Guitars last week. Mark fixed my beat up Fender Gemini II so that I could play it again by replacing the cracked, plastic nut and bridge with bone, re-adhering the pick guard, and a few minor tweaks to get it back to playability status (and it is, and the bone bridge has really increased the volume). Last night I gave him the DVD with all the images on it and we discussed the fact that I’m now planning on taking some courses on building a guitar. There’s a...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 12/2/2013 9:36:49 AM | Feedback (8)
He did a great job getting it back to a playable state. He replaced the broken, plastic nut & bridge with bone, and the sound difference is amazing. Guess who realized his finger strength & dexterity isn’t up to snuff to play the acoustic any more? That’s fine. More reason to practice. There’s also a local guitar building workshop that meets on Mondays or Tuesdays where you can use the shop & all the tools to build your own with a luthier teaching you step by step. I think I might...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 11/25/2013 7:05:46 PM | Feedback (2)
My sudden desire to become a luthier isn’t being helped by seeing things like this. Jeebus the inlays and designs on those are mind-blowing. $12,500 each too? *Sigh* If only I had the skill and talent, I could do that.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 11/20/2013 5:06:36 PM | Feedback (11)
So, my daughter’s (and mine from time to time) guitar teacher is having a custom built guitar (you can follow it here) made. One of the things Todd complains about on guitars is that the side dots can be very difficult to see in low light conditions (which is what I figured the tape on his guitars indicated). I told him he should look at Tritium since it would glow in pitch black and can be encircled with white for lighted conditions. He thought that was a cool idea. The only problem – where in...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 11/18/2013 2:36:20 PM | Feedback (8)
A custom built guitar. I’m not good enough to warrant $6000 for an axe. Doesn’t mean I don’t want one. These from Virgil Guitars look amazing. And there’s even 3D printed guitars now which open up designs that were previously impossible. My goal is to some day be worthy of the expense in getting a custom designed and custom fitted guitar. Until then, practice, practice, practice.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 11/12/2013 8:48:40 AM | Feedback (7)
Picked up a bass today, and pulled my old acoustic out from under several pounds of dust The bass is a Dean Edge 10 which I picked up today and the finish is absolutely GORGEOUS   So now I’m officially a ‘bass player’. Sounds good too. Much easier for me to belt out a bass line than it is trying to do it on a keyboard.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/30/2013 10:11:10 PM | Feedback (3)
But, it’s a good start! The wife was totally up for me mounting my guitars on the wall (because it gets them off the floor). I had to take down the artwork on the wall to make room for them, so there’s that blank section to the right. I suggested I could put some of the artwork back to which my wife responded “Don’t bother. You’re just going to buy more guitars”. I love my wife. She knows me so well. In fact, that’s what I’m planning on right now. I need a bass guitar. Not because I want to be...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/28/2013 11:15:32 AM | Feedback (14)
I present to you, the Ibanez EX350 that has been sitting underneath my bed for nearly 2 decades. My wife had actually never seen the thing. I got it back in… 1988 or 1989, I’m not sure as my memory doesn’t go back that far. All I remember is that it was white, so I painted a skeleton on it, which I then decided to go all Miami Vice and paint it using a turquoise stone texture. And then I marbled the face place and headstock. Because it was my guitar, that’s why. Plus… 80’s. At some point, I...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/21/2013 10:07:43 PM | Feedback (5)
I’m can’t do this at 41, much less 14
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/18/2013 9:19:28 AM | Feedback (2)
For my birthday, my wife’s parents got me a gift certificate to the local music store. So last night I went and picked up a few things; couple of packs of strings, a handful of picks (they are migratory creatures who like to find dark, dusty corners to hibernate in), and a Joe Satriani song book being that I’ve lost my Surfing With the Alien one several moves ago. This is the song that I decided to start working on A year ago, I wouldn’t have even thought to try. Now? I’m actually able to at...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/17/2013 10:56:25 AM | Feedback (9)
The Gibson Robot guitar. Self tuning, and everything needed built in to keep it in tune. It even winds up the strings for you when you change them.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 8/25/2013 7:41:59 PM | Feedback (2)
Is that the calluses you have on your fingertips aren’t enough. Jeebus that hurts. But it’s a good pain. The kind of pain you can write a song about. (here’s a sample of some of the inspiration & learning I’m doing)
posted by by Robb Allen @ 8/11/2013 10:01:39 PM | Feedback (0)
We changed iMac’s lesson days to better suit the school year when it starts and she had her lesson last night for the first time on a Tuesday. I have been working with her on the mechanics of playing because she needs that muscle memory. Trying to play chords is difficult for her right now because she simply doesn’t have the shapes ‘memorized’ to the point where she can play them in time. She knows G, D, and Amin, but can’t switch between them fast enough to play 'Knocking on Heaven’s Door’. So...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 8/7/2013 12:58:36 PM | Feedback (3)
The more I get into my music, the more I realize I needed to broaden my ‘sound base’ either via new synthesizer modules for FL Studio or sample libraries for a more ‘ready to use’ kind of thing. Synths allow the most flexibility because they can create practically any sound you want and the sound’s duration doesn’t change based on pitch (well, technically it can). The drawback is… well, learning how to work the damned things. If you’re not willing or able to learn every facet of every knob,...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/25/2013 1:23:37 PM | Feedback (2)
When we bought iMac her new guitar, she got so excited that she wanted to start her lessons right away. Since my brain has the fulls already, I didn’t have a problem letting her take over my slot right away and yesterday she had her first, real guitar lesson. Fish. Water. No assembly required. First off, she was excited for the lessons. I mean “can I wear my glittery guitar shirt?” type excited. Irelyn is a lot like me and very easily distracted, so when we find something that can maintain her...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/21/2013 12:20:02 PM | Feedback (3)
So, iMac has really taken a liking to her guitar lessons given to her by Daddy, so we’ve decided to let her start actual lessons from my teacher. The problem was the cute 1/2 sized electric we bought her was, to put it nicely, a pulsating ball of suck and fail. It buzzed horrifically, and didn’t stay in tune from one fret to the next. I didn’t want her taking her lessons on that thing, so we bought her a new one. It’s a 3/4 or ‘travel sized’ guitar and unlike her other one, this acoustic is...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/18/2013 9:29:31 PM | Feedback (3)
So, I’m going Full Retard on the music thing. I’m picking up an APC 40 on Friday to start my foray into a mix of Dance / Electronica and rock guitar. A heavy blues based dubstep might be interesting. What I’m aiming for is a mix of Joe Satriani (without the skill) and electronica. The thing is, I want to make sure I’m doing more than just catchy loops, I want to use my music theory that I’m learning along with my guitar work to really make good music. Might not be some people’s style, but I...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/14/2013 10:06:10 AM | Feedback (3)
The Mrs. has taken the youngest to Sea World today for a Girl Scout trip. The eldest is having her best friend over, which means an entire day of them sitting in her room, reading books together. That means I actually will have some free time which (sorry to the people waiting on work to get done) I am going to use to compose some music. Here’s where the magic happens I use FL Studio as my DAW, an Axiom 61 for the keyboard MIDI trigger, a Zoom G3 pedal for my Paul Reed Smith, and it all gets...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 4/27/2013 8:08:23 AM | Feedback (4)
When you combine 3 months of guitar lessons with FL Studio and a bit of trance? This (For those browsers that cannot see that widget, this is a direct link) It’s not much, just a :45 second little ditty that I managed to put together last night, but one I’m actually quite proud of and plan on working on this as a full song. The backing ‘trance pluck’ is quite complex and I used Cthulhu to assist in the progression and originally I couldn’t ‘hear’ a guitar part for it as the song sounded too...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 4/10/2013 10:23:58 AM | Feedback (8)
So, part of learning the guitar is recording some background music then soloing over it. The nice thing about my Zoom G3 guitar effects pedal is that it has USB output which my PC can consume like a champ. So I just purchased FL Studio and am picking up a MIDI keyboard tonight after work to assist with the background tracks. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years now. I’ve always wanted to combine rock with techno, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to mix music. So I’m taking the fact...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 3/4/2013 3:38:50 PM | Feedback (9)
But last night’s lesson showed me that unlearning my habits is going to be the kicker. One, I rest my palm on the bridge when I play rather than using my pinky to support my hand when needed. This limits my motion (and thus has had an impact on my accuracy). When I need to palm mute, that’s an appropriate time to do so, but not when I’m trying to play solos. Two, when picking it was noticed that I would change my up / down cadence every time I switched strings. For example, this pattern...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 3/1/2013 11:19:32 AM | Feedback (4)
So, I’ve kind of hit a plateau in my guitar playing. I’ve been practicing with a local church band and while I can strum chords just fine, I’ve realized I’m missing… something. What that something is, I can’t put my finger on it, pun totally intended, and the DVD set I have can’t reach out from the screen and tell me that I’m holding my hands wrong or I’m grabbing too hard or whatever. So, I’m starting actual lessons this Thursday. This guy comes highly recommended and I’m hoping he’ll be able...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 2/11/2013 10:04:22 AM | Feedback (4)
I’ve been horrifically busy lately, so I’ve only been able to grab a few minutes a night to pluck on the guitar, however last night something very interesting happened. I was just doing some pentatonic scales when suddenly my left hand decided to make the fretboard its bitch. My fingers just flew through the patterns, hitting each fret at lightning speed. I can’t say the same thing for my right (picking) hand. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to pick the right string at the right time to save...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 11/20/2012 9:35:55 AM | Feedback (6)
Someone put this on my Facebook page. I chuckled  
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/24/2012 12:33:22 PM | Feedback (2)
In my previous post, I spoke of “rust” and how it pertains to not practicing shooting. Turns out, the same thing happens if you don’t practice your guitar. Now that I have the Paul Reed Smith, I realized that I had gotten away from the boring, repetitive practice of doing the 1st position, pentatonic scale all the way up and down the fret board, moving only as fast as I could without making a single mistake, which is now like 8 bpm. Go figure. Another parallel with guns is that the minute...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/19/2012 9:53:18 AM | Feedback (12)
This is where I’d like to be in my guitar playing That’s a sound I really, really like and the style is one I’d love to be able to emulate. Skilled, tightly controlled, but not “shredding”. I prefer melody over “wow, he can play fast”. There’s sheet music for this song online so eventually when I think I’m ready, I’ll download it and start picking it apart.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/17/2012 1:32:44 PM | Feedback (9)
Last night iMac and I sat down for a guitar lesson. Sadly, I had been slacking in this arena so now I’ve started scheduling lessons rather than just thinking we’d get to them when we had time. iMac is a tiny thing, hence why we had to buy her a half sized guitar and even that is a bit big for her. I also started her off with an electric because she doesn’t have enough finger strength to even get the low action of a electric right most of the time. Anyway, last night she managed to learn Mary...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/17/2012 8:58:14 AM | Feedback (1)
The Paul Reed Smith SE245 Oh LORD the sound this thing has. I’ve been missing out for years.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/15/2012 4:27:43 PM | Feedback (9)
Just got back from a grueling day of guitar shopping. One thing about guitar shopping is that the salesmen don’t tend to be dicks (they just happen to be very busy). I was able to discuss my desires and found the types of gear I was looking for quickly. First and foremost, there will be no Stratocaster or Telecaster in my future. I simply do not like the feel of them. I tried many types, including the $1500+ models to see if maybe the American made, high end babies were better suited, and… no....
posted by by Robb Allen @ 10/14/2012 4:39:57 PM | Feedback (20)
Yesterday I mentioned this site to a coworker who is a musician. I saw that they had one of my favorite songs, Sultans of Swing, dissected down into just the guitar & vocal parts, and one of the things that’s slowed me down a bit in my re-learning of the gitfiddle is that, well, pentatonic scales and picking patterns tend to get a bit boring. So I thought, what the hell, and started figuring out how to play some Knopfler. The more I dig into that song, the more I respect that guy as a...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 9/21/2012 8:55:34 AM | Feedback (6)
iMac’s birthday is today. She’s now 7, which means I must have blinked because I swear I remember changing diapers last week. She’s still a tiny thing, unlike her sister who’s generally the tallest kid in her class. Irelyn had been asking, every time I pulled out my guitar to practice, for me to give her a lesson. She instantly remembered the names of the strings (EADGBE) and even started understanding a few chords, but the problem was my full size guitar was too large for her to wrap her arms...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 7/18/2012 9:05:32 AM | Feedback (10)
Looking at prices on Gibson guitars. $10,000+ for a Les Paul? Seriously? Does Les come back from the grave, give you lessons, and a happy ending before heading back to Valhalla?
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/19/2012 1:07:23 PM | Feedback (9)
This weekend I was able to relax a little. I did so by starting my guitar lesson on pentatonic scales. At first, I thought I had found Jesus, but that was because I was looking at the Pentecostal scales by accident (don’t even ask what happened after playing a few ginandtonic scales). I was a fool when I was a kid. No wonder I never progressed to anything besides a mediocre rhythm player, I never learned some of the basics behind playing guitar. I keep learning things like “Oh, a Major C scale...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/18/2012 11:19:16 AM | Feedback (9)
I was watching some videos yesterday on YouTube with Joe Satriani handing out tips on how to be a great guitar player. Watching his fingers move was almost like watching water wind its way around an object. There was no superfluous movement, at no point did he lift a finger any further off the fretboard than absolutely necessary, and each and every note he hit was perfect. The same thing can be said about the top shooters. Watch them move. Everything from the draw to the trigger break to their...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 6/8/2012 11:05:14 AM | Feedback (12)
Practicing is going well, however I’ve run into a small snag. I’m burning through the lessons faster than I need to. Not only am I following the DVDs, but I’m reading as much information as I can online. A friend pointed me to the Circle of Fifths, which after learning, the next two lessons seemed almost a waste of time. It’s not burned into my memory so that I can recall the key signature without thought, but it’s getting there. For some reason, anything that has to do with B throws be for...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/29/2012 10:42:42 AM | Feedback (5)
I just learned the Circle of Fifths. Why I was never taught this in band in middle and high school is a crime.
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/24/2012 9:06:19 PM | Feedback (4)
I’m burning through my Learn & Master Guitar course. Not because I’m a musical jeenyus or anything, but because much of the beginning lessons involve items that, while I might not have known the names of, were items I knew in my previous playing life. Where I was totally a noob is in the “read music” department. Before I started this class, I couldn’t have pointed out where a C was on a guitar. Looking at the staff was even tricky for most notes, but after a few weeks of practice, not only...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/22/2012 11:25:53 AM | Feedback (3)
Found my effects system for my guitar. Picked up one of these last night, a Zoom G3 All I was looking for was something that had chorus, delay, reverb, and some distortions as well as a headphone jack. This puppy has like 100 different ‘pedals’ plus amp simulations plus looping plus a built in tuner plus a simple drum machine for a metronome. Much more than I was looking for, but it seems technology has infiltrated the music industry the same way it has practically every other facet of our...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/18/2012 10:36:30 AM | Feedback (5)
The guitar lessons are coming along fine. I’m in the chords section and most of those I already know from the old days. The fingerings shown for some of them are different than I’m used to, so I’m using those instead of the ones I know mostly so that I don’t fall into familiar habits. I’m pretty good on all first position notes and my time from seeing the note to playing it continues to decrease. I’m not quite able to read forward, but I’m getting there. However (and this is where you, my dear...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/17/2012 2:00:31 PM | Feedback (10)
Part of the whole ‘picking back up the guitar’ thing I’m doing is ensuring I can sight read music. I learned how to read music when I played saxophone in school, but never figured it out for guitar. This means a lot of Mary Had a Little Lamb and Minuets in {Some Key} as I train my fingers to hit the right frets when I see the dot on the line / space. Dropping below the staff gives me a bit of a pause. Granted I’ve only been doing it a few days, for some reason I still have to ‘count’ the lines...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/10/2012 10:01:44 AM | Feedback (17)
I’m chatting with a coworker who’s in a band, talking about how stoked I was that I mastered the notes B, C, D, E, F, & G last night and could totally rock Ode to Joy. Me: Of course, last night I'm looking up effects processors and, watching the videos of guys who have been playing for centuries rip up the fret board, I almost felt like quitting... Coworker: keeps you humble.  yngwie malmsteen Me: Not because I didn't think I'd ever be able to play like that mind you,...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/4/2012 12:09:13 PM | Feedback (2)
Got my Learn & Master Guitar course today. As much as I would have loved to just skipped to the 4th chapter and started jamming, I wanted to do it right and started with the “This silver bar here is called the fret” and “From top to bottom, the strings are EBGDAE”. And while I was able to do the super simple exercises without issue, I’m not skipping ahead. There’s bound to be something I never thought of or taught myself incorrectly. I don’t think I’ll need to practice this stuff for a...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 5/2/2012 8:50:46 PM | Feedback (9)
Back in high school and the early 90’s, I played the guitar quite a bit. I was strictly rhythm, I didn’t want to make it cry or sing*. I had an old, beat up Charvel, an Ibanez I attempted to customize about a million times, and various pedals / effects processors. I wasn’t Joe Satriani or anything, but I could play a myriad of songs and had a good time with it. For my past wedding anniversary, my wife got me guitar lessons. I had never taken any and simply taught myself throughout the years,...
posted by by Robb Allen @ 4/28/2012 4:42:44 PM | Feedback (14)

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