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This post marks the first day of my 13th year of blogging here on WordPress.  The number of countries who’ve visited this site continues to grow and the number which haven’t continues to decrease.  North Korea and Cuba are still among them (the latter…)  I’m also still missing a belt across the middle of Africa and a few spots in Asia.  (Slowly, slowly…  Resistance is futile.)
On reviewing my content over the past year, I have done mostly two posts a day.  One is a thought, review or quote; one has been a music video.  My intent was to offer up to any who stumbled onto my blog a chance to sample some of the music which affected my life.  In the process, I’ve rediscovered a tremendous number of songs which came and went (in my life) and a core of songs and performers who have helped make me – me.  Not, physically, like food or drink or air, but spiritually…  Now that the year is completed, I doubt I’ll be continuing with the videos every day, but I will include them periodically (sporadically?).
My blog has continued to be an increasing part of my “normal” retired life.  I routinely receive about 20 to 60 emails (per day) from the roughly 300 blogs I follow.  I say “roughly” because I don’t check how many I follow.  I just looked, and I have fewer than 2,000 followers myself.  Every year there is a trade-off:  you pick up a few steady followers and a few drop off.  Those who actually post about leaving (their own sites) say they are simply moving on to other things.  Most, don’t bother and just stop posting.  A few come back after some period of time.  Many do not.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped blogging.  Some just move to a hosted service to try to monetize their thoughts and don’t provide me a way to follow them.  Or maybe they did and I simply missed the link…
At any rate, I am still posting thoughts, quotes, movie reviews, book reviews, and favorite music videos.  I easily spend an hour per day reviewing the posts I get (via email subscription) and sometimes that is simply overwhelming.  It’s not always the average blogger’s fault.  If you post something interesting, I (still) will go off and investigate it further: authors, artists, locations, books, movies, science / math / history topics – they will all lead me off down the rabbit hole.  And that hole can be DEEP!  I don’t know why, but this year, less frequently, I’m choosing to delete fewer (unopened mail / posts).  I apologize to you if you are one of those authors.  I will admit to only viewing actual posts sent to me (most of the time).  I seem to get a lot of “read more” posts / emails.  I’m not sure why this is.  I guess it’s a WordPress feature I don’t use or don’t know about.  There are a few (a handful) of sites which I know are visual and I more frequently click through to the actual site, because I’m interested in the bits which are not offered in the smaller / limited / text based emails I tend to receive.  I apologize if that affects your view stats negatively…
So, besides this blog, what am I up to?  My health has been mixed.  Last year, I was back in the hospital for “jump start”.  I have AFib and every now and then I get my heart zapped (“reverted”) to a normal rhythm.  We’ve also had this whole COVID lock down, which has put a damper on things.
In January, I purchased my first guitar and I’ve been practicing most every day since.  I “know” some basic chords and scales.  I’m still having a dickens of a time with strumming and chord changes, but I’m told that will come with time.  I now own two acoustic guitars and one electric (a Stratocaster style), and I have another acoustic on loan from my brother.  I have the four on a rotation calendar, but the first is still my favorite.  I’m looking into picking up a few more inexpensive guitars and two basses.  There is no time pressure.  It’s all about my ability to save (here and there) until I can justify a purchase.  [Wife:  How many guitars do you NEED?  Me:  …One more.]
The few things I’ve learned have truly been amazing (to me).  I do seem to have a smidgen of musical ability (although it’s still buried under layers of doubt).  I’m finding the ability to concentrate on practice to be as relaxing as zoning out in computer programming used to be (in my youth).  Sixty to ninety minutes can easily seem like five or ten minutes.  There is also the complete exhaustion which results from prolonged concentration – however “relaxing” it may feel at the time.  In a strange way, it feels good to be mentally tired at the end of a practice session.
But, am I getting any better at playing?  An objective opinion would be:  Yes!  Am I any “good”?  An objective opinion would be:  No!  Does it matter a whit?  No.  Why not?  Because, like blogging, I’m doing it for the enjoyment of doing it and not for the expectation (mine or anyone else’s) of being any good at playing guitar.  Again, like blogging, as long as it’s fun and interesting and fulfilling, I’ll just keep doing it…  My not so secret goal remains to write a song (lyrics and music) for my wife.  (LoL)
My personal goals for last year (to learn some assembly language programming and to have a play with chat-bots) never really got off the ground.   I spent a few weeks looking into them and playing with some free software, but the former has been passed by history so resources are limited and the latter is beyond my means as a retired person on a limited income.  In any case, I have usually been at my best when given a customer with a problem, not when I have to make up my own problems (and then create their solutions).
So, it’s guitar and blogging to keep me occupied (and mostly out of trouble).  LoL!!
Once again…  “Excelsior!!
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On This Day In:
2020 Happy 11th Anniversary Of Blogging
2019 Happy 10th Anniversary — Thoughts On My First Decade Of Blogging
2018 Happy 9th Anniversary — Three Thoughts
Day 2 – Notes On Progress
2017 Happy 8th Anniversary
2016 Happy 7th Anniversary
2015 Happy 6th Anniversary
2014 Happy 5th Anniversary
2013 I Resemble That Remark!
2012 Happy 3rd Anniversary
2011 Is America Safe Tonight?
2009 Hello world! (See how it all began…)

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Idyllwild by Monoprice 3/4 Classical Guitar with Gig Bag, Natural   —   guitar review
[DISCLAIMER:  This product is being reviewed without compensation of any sort by the manufacturer.  I purchased the guitar with my own personal funds.  Also, nothing I say should be taken as anything but my personal opinion / observation, as I have VERY little knowledge of music or musical instruments.    —    KMAB]
Background:  Back at the end of May, I posted I would be reviewing my guitars and I’ve done the first two.  Here’s the latest…  Most of this was covered in my earlier post (More Changes…) about this guitar.  To summarize, I restrung and played with my daughter’s fiance’s guitar (a boyhood gift from his grandfather), and I fell in love with the feel of it.  So, I looked around to see how much they cost and if I could get one to play around with.  It turns out there is a company (Monoprice) which owns / distributes for another company (Idyllwild) which the Monoprice website says “makes” the guitar.  The product page is titled:  “Idyllwild by Monoprice 3/4 Classical Guitar with Gig Bag, Natural“. I have no idea what the “Natural” refers to.  Anyway, what I loved about the guitar I restrung was how it felt.  The box of the guitar literally vibrated against my chest with a deep resonance which had (for me) and emotional appeal.  Basically, it sounded deep and full and this carried through the feel even more so than the sound in my ear.  I saw the guitar was relatively inexpensive – even vis-a-vis other 3/4 guitars online, so I decided I would get one (eventually).  As I was prepping my wife for my buying another guitar, the guitar went on sale.  The original price was $64 with free standard shipping.  The sale price was just under $45, but when I went to buy it, the site said I was eligible for an additional discount which brought my full price (including taxes and free shipping) to $42 and change!  I ordered the guitar and received it the following day.  (Note:  the base price on the site is now $65.)
Start of review:
So, this (3/4 size “classical”) is the third guitar I’ve bought this year.  It arrived within 24 hours of ordering, so that was an initial very good impression!  The box had a 6 – 8 inch slice in it, so that was a negative, but did not necessarily have anything to do with the manufacturer / seller, so it’s merely a comment on delivery status.  (Note:  the previous line was copied directly from a prior guitar review.  This is the third guitar I’ve bought this year and ALL three have come in damaged boxes – two sliced with the cardboard partially crumpled back.  Fortunately, none of the instruments have been damaged at all.  I think the various delivery services really need to look at their processes and / or the instrument sellers need to double-box their products.  Then again, maybe it’s just another strong argument for buying from a local store.)
Per their site, this is what I received for $42 and change – all-in (including tax and shipping).
Features –
• Body Shape:  Classical (no cut-away), but 3/4 size
• Top Wood:  some kind of laminate
• Back / Sides:  some kind of laminate. I am not a wood expert, so take this opinion with a grain of salt…  Looking through the sound hole, the “wood” seems to be some kind of rough balsa.  It may even be some kind of thin, compressed particle board “wood” with an exterior veneer glued on and laquered over.
• Neck:  no idea
• Fretboard:  no idea
• Bridge:  no idea, but the saddle appears to be plastic (like the nut)
• Pickguard:  none
• Gig Bag:  Included. This bag is actually ok considering the total price. It is more than a dust cover in thickness (no padding at all), and it seems tough, (but not waterproof).  The zippers look medium weight and works smoothly.  There is also a zippered pouch on the front of the bag.  The bag is sufficient for most carrying about, but it is baggy and offers only the slightest of protection.  It does not have a sturdy handle or padded shoulder straps, but the straps are adjustable.  At least it doesn’t stink (smell bad) like my Glarry gig-bag did.
Not mentioned on the site:
• they give you an Allen wrench to adjust the truss rod which runs through the guitar’s neck.  I have have only begun to try to adjust the neck.  The neck is visibly straight; not bowed one way or the other, but it appears to be mounted at an angle which causes the action to be very high at the top frets.  The top frets are 10 – 12, where the neck joins the body.  I believe this is why the nut can be tuned and open chords sound good, but the top frets are all uniformly sharp.  Pressing down so far is stretching the string and making it (the note) sharp.  (Note:  it is my understanding that most “classical” style guitars do not come with a truss rod.  Also, you cannot put steel strings on a guitar meant for nylon strings.  They lack the physical support to hold steel strings and you will most probably either severely bend or outright snap the neck off the guitar body when you try to tune it.)  I will update this review after I’ve played with the truss rod to see if that helps in lowering the action on the high frets.
Specifications –
• Strings:  6 – nylon
• Electronics:  N/A
• Tuners:  typical “brassy” looking (three to a side, linked) classical tuners, but they look and “feel” flimsy.  Interestingly, the knobs on the ends of tuners do not “feel” flimsy.  They also do not have dead spots (when you turn and nothing happens, then suddenly the gears seem to grab).
• Neck Shape:  I’m not sure how to describe it.  This is the underside. The top is flat; almost to the point of being concave.
• Scale:  3/4 length
• Nut / Saddle:  Plastic (Most minor tuning adjustments make the strings “ping” at the nut.  This means I need to “lube / graphite” the nut a little when I get around to changing the strings.)
• Nut Width:  not stated
• Bracing:  not stated
• Finish:  very well polished.  The “wood” looks cheap, almost plastic toy-ish on the surface, but it feels good under arm and to the hand.
Dimensions –
• Not provided and I haven’t bothered to check them with a ruler / tape measure.
Main Review –
First:  this guitar was received within 23 hrs of my placing the order!!  I’m not sure how this was even possible…
Second:  it arrived in a damaged box which appeared both sliced and crumbled.  Fortunately, the guitar was undamaged.  In addition to the case, the neck had a thin paper cover over the strings and a 1-inch silica packet to help with humidity.  Unfortunately, the packet had fallen into the sound hole and gave the guitar a rattle-ly / sound when you moved / strummed it.  I shook it and heard “something” rattle around inside and initially thought I had received a broken instrument.  It took a little playing with (shaking, holding upside-down, turning side to side,) before the packet came out of the hole.
Third:  my first visual and hold – the finish is beautiful and the guitar does not “feel” cheap (or inexpensive).  Obviously, it has a shorter neck, which after playing for a while, seems more comfortable than a longer (normal length) neck.  The fret ends do not extend past the neck edges (good), but they are not rounded, so they feel a little bit sharp.  The fret board surface seems almost ash grey-ish.  I believe it is supposed to be black.  I think this means it is just overly dry.  I will add some lemon oil to it when I get around the rounding the fret ends.  The neck is good for relief (not bowed up or down) and is not warped.  As mentioned above, the string action is high at the high frets which (I think) affects the intonation.  The good news is all six strings seem to be equally affected, so when I figure out the solution, one fix should help all six strings.
Fourth:  the strings are new and untrimmed, i.e. FAR too long.  They were wrapped around the tuning pegs 5 or 6 turns and still had 4 to 6 inches just sticking out from the head piece.  The recommendation on YouTube is to never wind a string more than three times or they will tend to interfere with each other or have a greater tendency to stretch.  I unwound them a bit to clip a bit off the excessive ends (and then stretched them as I tuned them).  It took several days for the nylon strings to stabilize and they required frequent tuning.  Once stable, they no longer require daily tuning (but I do it by habit).  The third string (G) still requires almost daily re-tuning.  This seems to be a guitar thing, though, as my electric guitar has the same problem string (G).  An additional note on tuning this guitar.  My ear is still not able to accurately determine if a guitar is tuned.  I can now tell if it doesn’t sound right, but not what is wrong.  Tuning forks do NOT help with this.  The nylon string does not give a sympathetic vibration the way my steel string electric and steel string acoustic do.  I can tap the tuning fork and hold it against the guitar, but that doesn’t help me.  Placing the tuning fork on the specific fret (matching the fork) doesn’t work either.  There are only two options:  have someone else tune it or use an electronic tuner.  Fortunately, I have an electronic tuner.
Fifth:  There at two areas on the back of the guitar that came with scratches of several inches length.  The most visible one appears to have happened after finishing (perhaps during shipping).  It looks like it was scraped by chalk or some kind of plaster of Paris.  The lower on the body “marks” are under the finishing and look like heavy pencil or marker lines under the coating.  This one (a marked / damaged guitar) appears to have slipped through the company’s quality control.  Neither affect the sound in the least.  The upper scratch is clearly visible.  The lower is MUCH longer / bigger, but practically invisible in normal light.  I was playing the guitar outside in direct sunlight when I first saw it.  Again, neither affect the sound quality of the instrument.
Sixth:  the “gig-bag” is a functional dustcover / carry-all.  It will NOT protect the guitar from any but the most trivial bumps.  Having said that, it is FAR better than one of the “gig-bags” I got for “free” with a more expensive guitar.  It has a handle and un-padded shoulder straps.  The straps are not long enough for someone my size to use, but I suppose they would be fine for a child or slender teenager.
Seventh:  Because of the high action across all the strings on the high end frets, I would not recommend this as an ONLY guitar for a beginner.  The notes begin to go sharp after the third fret and it is noticeable (to my untrained ear) by the 7th fret.  My brother-in-law is a music teacher with a much better “ear” and he says it’s bad after the 5th fret.  He agrees with me that it is fine for practicing open chords and scales at the bottom of the neck (nearest the nut).
Finally:  What I discovered was the nylon strings were extremely forgiving for longer (over one hour) practice sessions.  The flat neck seems to have more room for my chubby fingers to practice scales and chords, but more difficult to practice / play barred chords.  I have shown (and played) this to / for friends and family and have received several (three) unsolicited comments about how beautiful this guitar is.  It is!  It sounds as good as it looks!  And it looks better in your hands than it does on the screen images (which look rather flat to my eye).  The guitar has a beautiful color and a high luster / polished finish.
Recommendation:  I would highly recommend this guitar to any one thinking of beginning guitar lessons or with a child who would like to learn guitar.  Because of the high action / tuning issue mentioned above, you / they will certainly outgrow this within a year (or as soon as you try to learn barre chords or scales in higher fret positions), but you’ll keep it handy and pick it up frequently because if it gets a little banged up, it can be easily (and inexpensively) replaced.  I bought this specifically to keep laying around, for quick pickup to practice chords and scales. It will certainly exceed those simple requirements.  Caution:  unlike my inexpensive electric guitar, you should NOT purchase this thinking you will be able to use it for a “mod” (modification) platform.  Other than changing the strings and (maybe) polishing fret ends, there is almost nothing you can do to make this a “better” instrument.  Just bite the bullet and shell out for a more expensive second guitar when you get past what this has to offer.  Then, keep this one for when you go to the beach or camping.  Please remember if you pay full retail price, it is STILL only a $65 guitar.
Because my impressions / opinions of the guitar may change over time, updates to my reviews will appear on the specific guitar review page and not in a daily blog post…
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On This Day In:
2020 Still Learning
2019 Almost Hallmark
Beyond All Reason
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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Glarry GST Electric Guitar   —   guitar review
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
Way back on 19 March 2021, I posted I had purchased and received my second guitar.  (Going Into The Deep End)  I also mentioned in a 25 May 2021 post (More Changes) that I would be getting around to reviewing that guitar.  Well, yesterday I did the review for my first guitar (Reviewing Austen), so here’s the review of my second: a Glarry GST Electric Guitar (Green)…
Background:  Since deciding to learn how to play guitar, I’ve been watching hours and hours of YouTube videos on guitar reviews and beginning guitar lessons / topics.  There seems to be a lot of discussion about what type of guitar someone should start out learning on (acoustic versus electric) and then what type of model beyond that.  Knowing next to nothing about guitars (okay, knowing absolutely nothing about guitars), I struggled to decide what type to purchase first.
Being retired, I have a significant price point versus life time (mine) limitation.  I didn’t want to spend four or five months (or years) saving up for a “real” brand name guitar.  I wanted to get my hands on a playable instrument as quickly as possible in order to channel my enthusiasm.  As mentioned yesterday, I settled on a “new-name” guitar brand “Orangewood” and one of their least expensive models (“Austen“), which was reviewed very well against several of the bigger names bottom end / starter guitars.  It turned out I thoroughly enjoyed my first guitar and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
At roughly the same time, I got a $100 Amazon credit which I could apply to the purchase price (a hair under $120 with tax and free delivery), so my net “investment” was only $20 for a new guitar and a starter (20 watt) amplifier. Without the amp, the guitar runs for just under $90.  I also received an Allen wrench, a pick, a strap and a “gig-bag.”
Start of review:
Delivery: on ordering, the site says it can take up to two weeks for delivery.  I received the guitar in a little over 50 hours.  I could not make up my mind which color I wanted (blue or sunburst), so I settled on green – because it was Saint Patrick’s Day.  On delivery, the box was punctured and partially peeled back.  Fortunately, there was no damage to either the guitar or to the amp.  So far, so good…
What you get:
(Specifications)
Guitar Brand:  Glarry
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Green
Guitar Amplifier Power:  20W
Number of frets:  22
Nut width:  1.656 in.
Scale length:  25.5″
Number of strings:  6
Pick-up Style:  Single-Single-Single
Guitar Bridge System:  Tremolo
Controls:  5-switch, 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
Body Material:  Basswood
Neck Material:  Maple
Fingerboard Material:  Maple
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal
Nut Material:  Plastic
Bridge Material:  Metal
String Winder Peg Tool:  Enclosed Machine Head
Guitar Dimensions:  (39.17 x 12.99 x 2.36)”(L x W x H)
Weight: 13.89lbs
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x AMP
1 x Guitar Bag
1 x Strap
1 x Plectrum
1 x Tremolo Bar
1 x Connecting Wire
1 x Spanner Tool
First impression: right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich green body.  It is thin (particularly after playing a dreadnought acoustic for a month) and feels light and almost toy-like.  The neck is a nice off-setting clear (not white) maple wood.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.   Mostly smooth, but there are a couple of patches which could do with some minor sanding / smoothing.  The edges of the fret board are TERRIBLE!  The metal fret are visibly past the edge of the neck and they are sharp(!) on the side and not rounded on the top.  I make a mental note to self:  DO NOT run your hand up and down this neck quickly or you WILL cut yourself.  Fortunately, many of the YouTube reviews of inexpensive (“cheap”) guitars have this problem, so I’ve been warned in advance.
I KNOW I will have to sand the frets down and round the tops, but that will be for a later day.  YouTube also cautions to wait an “appropriate” period to let your guitar adjust to its new home.  In the end, after about a week, some of the frets barely stick out.  They all still need to be rounded, but they won’t need any extensive sanding down.
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – minor plastic shavings at the string channels, but otherwise, it looks fine (not that I’d really know what “something wrong” would look like)
• strings – strum…  not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny finish
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone both turn smoothly.  I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on)
• tuning pegs – three seem to have “gaps” in action before turning them kicks in (both directions)
• tremolo bar – in package, not attached for shipping.  I screwed it on.  It flexes, but doesn’t seem to “do” much.  I take it back off.
• strap – feels like some cheap plastic woven material with fake leather ends.  It also isn’t really long enough for my large (obese) frame.  It’s also kind of narrow and biting on my neck / shoulder area.  But it works until I can get something better.
• pick (“plectrum”) – no name plastic.  A missed marketing opportunity by Glarry.
• action and intonation – the strings “look” high, but they don’t feel bad on my fingertips.  Too excited to really check intonation – and I can’t do it until I’ve tuned it.
• “gig-bag” – this is CHEAP plastic dust cover.  And, it stinks! I took it outside for a couple of hours of airing out, before using it to store the guitar.  I left both (the guitar stored in the bag) in the front room of my house, so I wouldn’t have to smell the bag for the first few days.
Strum… the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tune “out of the box”.  I am not confident enough to use my A-440 tuning fork, so I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report – except as mentioned, several of the pegs have loose areas when turning.  After the initial tuning, I check the harmonics at the twelfth fret.  All six strings sound good to go!  I’m a happy camper…
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections seem solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  All the knobs on the amp and the guitar seem to work.  They kind of change the sound, but I really don’t know what I’m doing or what they should sound like, so I set everything but the volume back to “0”.  The volume is MORE than enough for me to play in my bedroom.  I’m still a happy camper…
Strum… I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  The neck is thinner so it seems it will be more difficult to play / strum chords.  Ouch!!  The thin strings are much thinner than the strings on my acoustic even though both guitars are “steel-string”.  Anyway, everything has more or less checked out and I’ve spent ten minutes “playing” guitar, so I decide to pack it in for the evening.
And then I hit my first “issue”.  The end piece where the cable goes into the guitar is loose.  It turns when I try to remove the cable.  It turns again when I re-insert the cable.  I try to tighten the part by hand.  No joy.  Okay, something else to “fix”.  (That makes three: frets, tuners and input plug.)
So… despite the tuners “slipping”, the strings don’t go out of tune overnight.  Well, they do, but it’s slight and not an issue.  The next day, I break out my tools.  A quick twist of the screwdriver and the tuners are fine.  No more gaps.  A quick twist of my socket wrench and the input plug is secure (and it has remained stable for several weeks now).  And, as mentioned above, the neck wood is acclimated after a week and the frets are no visibly sticking out.  They DO stick out “to the touch” and the tops are not rounded, so both fret issues remain outstanding.  I will correct at some future point.
What’s happened since then?
Well, I went out and bought replacement strings.  I haven’t installed them yet.  I haven’t rounded or finished the frets.  I replaced the strap on my acoustic with a much nicer leather / padded strap, so the Glarry has inherited the original “Austen” strap.  It’s much more comfortable; so, it’s a win-win.  I bought another gig-bag for the Glarry.  It was $25, with tax and shipping.  It’s padded (but not much – maybe 8 – 10 mm).  And, it doesn’t stink.  The original bag and strap are resting comfortably on a shelf in a storage room.  (I really need to stop hoarding.)  I have watched some videos on using the A-440 tuning fork and now can use either the Snark or the fork on both guitars.  I ordered a second fork to keep with the Glarry, but I wasn’t paying attention and ordered an “E” instead of an “A”.  No big deal.  I just use the “open” “E” string instead of the “open” “A” string and the “E” frets instead of the “A” frets on the other strings.  Interestingly (probably only to me), but I can’t hear the tuning fork on the “high-E” string.  I can feel it change in vibration (at the harmonic fret points) between my fingertip and thumb, but I can’t hear it.  I’m fine with the other five strings.  I can only assume my mis-spent youth firing howitzers in defense of our country has affected my hearing in my old age.
And of course I’ve established a loose rotation schedule to ensure I continue to get comfortable with both the acoustic and the electric.  I will do a separate post about things (differences) I’ve noticed at some point…
Final Recommendation:  Are you kidding me?  Not counting the replacement bits I’ve purchased, I’m out of pocket $20 for a brand new electric guitar and amp.  Yes!  I’d do it again.  Also, despite the fairly minor issues, this seems to me to very good value for money.  If you price a body and neck, you will be hard pressed to find both (of any quality) for less than $100.  IF I happened to have the Amazon credit prior to the purchase of my acoustic, I’m not sure this would not have been my first choice.  I believe if I spend another $200 on better bits – electronics, pickups and tuners – I’d have an instrument which sounds nearly as good as any $400 -$500 guitar.  Plus I’d have the hands on experience of “mod-ing” a guitar.  To anyone reading this:  please don’t think you will EVER get that much back if you try to resell it.  I’m just saying it would play and sound near as good as any at twice the price.
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On This Day In:
2020 Role Reversal
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part I)
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part II)
2019 Right Or Wrong
2018 Open Doors
2017 When It Deserves It
2016 Expiation For Rest
2015 You’ll Get Through It
2014 A Special Kind Of Fall
2013 Very Rewarding
2012 MIB3 – The Team Is Closer Than Ever
Yet
2011 Little By Little

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Orangewood:  Austen  —  guitar review
[DISCLAIMER:  This product is being reviewed without compensation of any sort by the manufacturer.  I purchased the guitar with my own personal funds.  Also, nothing I say should be taken as anything but my personal opinion / observation, as I have VERY little knowledge of music or musical instruments.  —  KMAB]
Background:  I have owned numerous musical instruments in my lifetime including two acoustic guitars.  I never learned to play any of the instruments (including the two guitars) and have remained fairly certain / convinced I lack musical ability / rhythm / ear.  My latest effort was about five years ago and involved the purchase of a recorder.  I only ever learned one song: “Taps“; never learned to read sheet music; and, despite practicing the song practically every day for almost two years, only played it “well” (to my ear anyway) once.  I have no recollection of what happened to any of my earlier instruments.  I don’t remember selling any instrument, so I probably gave them to the first person who expressed any interest in them.  (Or they got lost in the sands of time…)
In December of 2020, I decided I wanted to write three songs for my wife: a love song, a sad song and a funny song.  In order to have a chance to be able to sing the songs I need to play something other than the recorder.  Somehow, I settled on a guitar or a piano (keyboard).  I’m still not sure why, but after a week of watching video reviews and reading articles about various guitars, I decided an acoustic guitar.  This was mainly because, I didn’t want too expensive an initial investment outlay and because I thought learning about electric guitars (tone, volume, amplifiers, etc.) would just add an extra layer of complexity which would confuse my simple brain.  There was also the very real possibility I would lose interest in a few days / weeks, and I’d have another in a long line of “forgotten” hobbies.
Start of review:
So, this (Orangewood Austen) was the first guitar I purchased this year.  WAAAYYY back in January.  It was ordered online and the expected delivery was one to two weeks.  It arrived after a week and a day, so that was an initial good impression.  The box had a 6 – 8 inch slice in it, so that was a negative, but did not necessarily have anything to do with the manufacturer / seller, so it’s merely a comment on delivery status.
I should mention that because I knew I would be utterly unable to tune the guitar myself, I purchased an “A” tuning fork and a “Snark” electrical tuner in advance of the guitar purchase / receipt.  The tuning fork because I wanted to be able to train my ear and the Snark because I wanted its ease of use.  (I will be doing reviews of these items separately.)
Per their site (https://orangewoodguitars.com), this is what I got for $218 all-in (including tax and shipping).  (Note: the base price on the site is now $225.)
Features
• Body Shape:  Dreadnought  (I have BIG stubby fingers, so I thought having a large guitar would be better initially.)
• Top Wood:  Solid Spruce  (The YouTube reviewers all say “solid” spruce produces the best sound.)
• Back / Sides: Layered Mahogany (“Layered” means it’s a laminate.)
• Neck: Mahogany
• Fretboard: Rosewood (sonokeling) (“sonokeling” is a type of rosewood from Indonesia.)
• Bridge: Rosewood (sonokeling)
• Pickguard: Included (Optional) (“Optional” means you put it on yourself if you want it.  If you do, you void the 30 return policy.  I have not installed mine and am not sure I will.)
• Gig Bag: Included (This bag is actually quite nice.  It’s at least 10mm thick and the exterior seems tough, but not waterproof.  The zippers look and feel sturdy.  There is also a large zippered pouch on the front of the bag with “Orangewood” embroidered on it.  (It’s kind of a classy touch.)  The bag is sufficient for most carrying about.  It has a sturdy handle and padded / adjustable shoulder straps, but I would not use this for checked-in airline travel.)
Not mentioned on the site:
• they give you a single orange – green plaid medium grade (weight?) pic.
• they give you an Allen wrench to adjust the truss rod which runs through the guitar’s neck.  I have not felt the need to try to adjust the neck.  It’s straight; not bowed one way or the other.
• the guitar comes with two strap bolts, but no strap.  I ended up buying one fairly soon, which I then upgraded.
Specifications
• Strings:  Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Light  (When I bought my strap, I picked up a set of replacement strings.  Almost all the YouTube reviewers say when you buy and “inexpensive” / “cheap” guitar, replace your strings immediately.  I have not felt the need to do this, but I have the set for when I need it.)
• Electronics:  N/A
• Tuners:  Chrome Die-Cast
• Neck Shape: C
• Scale:  25.5″
• Nut / Saddle:  Bone (Occasionally, when making minor tuning adjustments, the strings will “ping”.  This means I need to “lube / graphite” the nut a little when I get around to changing the strings.)
• Nut Width: 44mm
• Bracing: Scalloped X
• Finish: Natural Satin  (I think the guitar “feels” natural without the “plastic” / lacquered feel of my later guitars.  I have two more, now.)
Dimensions
• Overall Length: 40 9/16″
• Body Length: 19 13/16″
• Body Depth: 4 11/16″
• Upper Bout: 11 3/8″
• Middle Bout: 10 1/2″
• Lower Bout: 15 1/4″
First reaction:  The guitar is beautiful!
Strum…  Sounds okay to me.  (Remember, at this time I have no idea what “in key” or “in tune” means.)  The guitar is BIG, but surprising light.  To my mind it feels like balsa wood.  Recall I owned two guitars back in my late teens / early twenties, which is probably the last time I held one, and this guitar feels lighter than my memories.  It feels awkward against my stomach and under my right arm.  I put both of these down to my personal obesity and not to the fault of the guitar.  I recall this (size of a dreadnought) is something multiple reviewers commented / cautioned on for newbies and their first guitar.  Being honest, I fear the guitar may be too delicate for me, so I handle it with care the first couple of weeks.
Strum…  Run my left hand up and down the neck.  Absolutely no, sharp fret ends sticking out and they all feel well rounded / smooth.  The fretboard doesn’t look dry and in need of oiling.  The neck appears straight and neither twisted or bowed and feels smooth.  There are no scratches anywhere on the body or neck.  The finish / polish appears smooth to the eye and to the touch.  I look in the sound hole to verify the top is solid and not veneer or laminate.  It looks to be solid.  I am going through a mental checklist developed from watching YouTube videos.  I “really” don’t know what I’m doing…
Strum…  Okay, attach the Snark and let’s see if the guitar is shipped in tune.  No.  At least not all of the strings, but the Snark helps me resolve that.  In a couple of minutes, it’s in tune and I’m strumming away.  I don’t know any chords to play, or notes, or where they are, so I am literally starting my adventure from scratch.
Strum…  After about five minutes, my finger tips are starting to hurt so I decide to pack it in for the first day…
Two final points:  Action and Intonation.  Action is the height of the strings above the frets.  I’m still not 100% sure what intonation is but it appears to be how well a guitar carries its notes up an down the neck on the same string.  If the “action” is too high, it is hard to press the string down at some locations.  This leads to you pressing harder and being painful – particularly for beginners – on your fingertips.  If the “action” is to low, you will get “buzzing” on multiple frets.  Problems with intonation turn up as incorrect notes as you move up and down the fretboard (neck).
I don’t really know enough about either topic to go into much depth as a reviewer.  I started off playing multiple (usually three) five(5) minute sessions a day for the first two weeks, and I stopped when my fingertips began to hurt.  The first week, I was very strict on the five minute time limit.  The second and third weeks was five (maybe ten) minutes.  After that another few weeks of thirty (30) minutes, but only once a day.  Now, I do mainly one session of an hour, but sometimes longer and sometimes (a couple of times) an hour multiple times in a day.  I stop when I tire, when I start to lose concentration, or when my fingers hurt.  Eventually, I will need (want) to buy a ruler (string gauge) to judge string height, but I seem to be okay for now.
I really can’t comment about intonation except to say the Snark likes the notes up and down the neck and the harmonics work at the 12th, 9th and 7th frets, so I think it (the intonation) must be pretty spot on.  If I learn more, I’ll revisit this…
So, there you have it.  My first impression and hardware review.  From here on, I watch A LOT more videos on looking at new kit, chords, scales, etc., but all of that will come later.  For the first day, I’m dead chuffed with my new toy!
It’s interesting how not knowing if ANY thing is terrible, bad, good or great really effects your attitude about an object.  Because I had no idea what to expect, the fact the guitar arrived early, and looks and sounds great, means I’m very happy with my “relatively” inexpensive first guitar.
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On This Day In:
2020 A Better Synthesis
2019 It’s Only Funny If You’re Old Enough To Know What “Film” Was
2018 Bourne Wicked Blonde
First Things First
2017 This Explains A Lot
2016 Me Too
2015 A Proper Price
2014 Well Hard
2013 Because I Can
Eloquence, n.
2012 Why Bother?
2011 Peculiar Notions

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[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.   —    KMAB]
As I’ve posted a couple of times, I’ve decided to try to learn how to play a musical instrument and the one I’ve chosen is the guitar.  I’ve now completed just over four full months of learning / practice and I’ve missed a grand total of five days of practice.  (Full disclosure:  most of the first month was only 15 – 20 minutes a day to break in my fingertips.)
In January I bought my acoustic guitar (Orangewood: Austen).  It took about five days for delivery.  They actually promised two weeks delivery, so I was very happy with the speedy receipt.
I liked the guitar, but I was surprised by it.  It felt almost too light and too bulky.  I put it down to being inexpensive and me being overweight.  I bought what I thought would be a “starter” guitar for just under $200, in case (as my wife predicted) I was just going through another of my fads.
I soon noticed most of the YouTube videos I was watching to learn from were being taught on electric guitars.  So, I thought maybe I should see if I could pick up an inexpensive one of those as well.  It turns out, at just that time, I earned a $100 Amazon credit for taking some online surveys.  I watched a bunch of video recommendations and settled on a Glarry electric guitar (with gig bag, cable and amplifier) for $120 – including taxes and free shipping.  I ordered it on St. Patrick’s Day and received it two days later.  (There were / are some outstanding issues which I’ll cover in a later review / post.)
After the waiting period of our second vaccine shots, my wife and I visited our oldest daughter and her fiancé and he had JUST bought a banjo to learn how to play.  I noticed he had a small guitar standing in a corner and I asked: “What’s up with that?”  He replied it was a childhood present from his grand-father and he never learned how to play it.  I picked it up and noticed it was missing two strings.  He said it was okay because it was just a family gift which he carried around his whole life to remind him of his grand-dad.  I offered to re-string it for him if he loaned it to me.  And so I began learning about nylon string acoustic guitars…
I watched a bunch of videos and learned about nylon strings vs steel strings and how to restring a nylon.  I picked up some new strings and I also picked up some files to trim the frets – which were badly jutting out the sides and were quite sharp.  I tuned and stretched, tuned and stretched, tuned and stretched…  and eventually the strings got to the point where they were stable enough to stay in tune for more than a few minutes.  I then had to do this again for a few days.  Finally, I was able to pick up the guitar and it was near tune.  A quick tune, and it could be played.
What I discovered was the nylon strings were extremely forgiving for longer (over one hour) playing sessions and this guitar generated a vibration which was similar to the electric, but FAR more so.  It was almost sensory overload on my hands, arms, legs and chest.  You could FEEL this guitar!  It wasn’t just sound.  I decided right then, I had to have one just like it.
So, earlier this month I bought my third guitar.  I ordered it on 14 May around 4pm and received it the NEXT day before 2pm!!  It was not in tune, but I took care of that and within a few days it too had settled down into a playable instrument.  (I will also do a fuller review of this guitar in a later post.)
And, below is a picture of the guitar (and “gig” bag).  This guitar is “normally” $64, but it was on sale and I got an additional discount which brought my cost plus tax down to $42!!
Monoprice_Idyllwild_3-4_Classical_Nylon_Guitar_With_Gig_Bag
The guitar is “made” by Idyllwild, but “sold” by Monoprice – which is some kind of manufacturing / sales conglomerate.  It is a 3/4 size “classical” style guitar.  It is not quite the same as the one I re-strung, but it does have the marvelous “feel”.  Once it settled in (only a few days), I was able to play it for well over two hours with very little loss of tuning.
What does all this have to do with “changes”?  Well, I’ve decided “in for a penny, in for a pound” and I’m going to add some posts and pages to my blog chronicling my reviews and what I’m learning.  I don’t image much of this will be of use to anyone, but I am interested in how far along a rank beginner with NO musical training can get by learning off of YouTube as inexpensively as is practicable – and as an exercise, I’d like to share this experience via my blogging.  So, in a bit, I’ll be adding a “guitar” / music page to my menu to cover all things related to my learning guitar:  guitars, prices, classes / videos / books, accessories, (minor) luthiering / repairs, etc.
I hope some of you will be able to share some of my excitement in this discovery and learning process.  I feel as if a whole world is opening up before my eyes and at my fingertips!  Stay tuned…
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On This Day In:
2020 Remembering…
You KNEW That Man Was Trippin’
2019 Kingslanding
2018 I’d Bet On Taxes
Ooops! I Spoke Too Soon
2017 A Cautionary Wish
2016 Slogging
It’s About…
Man / Man
2015 Memorial Day – 2015
Content People Love To Share
2014 I Resemble That Remark
2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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Even if I lack the talent, I will not abandon the effort on that account….  We do not abandon any discipline for despair of ever being the best in it.
    —     Epictetus
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On This Day In:
2020 Remembering…
You KNEW That Man Was Trippin’
2019 Kingslanding
2018 I’d Bet On Taxes
Ooops! I Spoke Too Soon
2017 A Cautionary Wish
2016 Slogging
It’s About…
Man / Man
2015 Memorial Day – 2015
Content People Love To Share
2014 I Resemble That Remark
2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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He who learns to play music in his eightieth year will play at the resurrection.
   —    Turkish Proverb
[About a month ago I convinced my wife to let me buy a guitar (Orangewood acoustic dreadnought: Austen (model) for $195).  I’m playing it almost every day for 10 minutes to an hour.  Most days about 40 minutes.  It’s coming along slowly, slowly, but I’m enjoying it.  I’m just watching videos on YouTube and then going off to practice…    —   KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Working On My 2019 Tax Returns
2019 Three Beliefs
2018 He Found Them On-Line
2017 Maybe In A Future World
2016 Largely A Mystery
2015 Tools And Weapons
2014 Likes And Dislikes
2013 Pillars Of Learning
2012 Another JCoM Review
Move It
2011 Expected Value

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Today I’ve added two links.  One is for my cousin Adrian Yanez who has guitar / music site named: Arpeggio Inc and the second is for my brother-in-law Art Brockmeyer who has a saxophone / music site named: Berkeley Saxophone Quartet.
[23 August 2013 – Blog update.  Both of these sites have been allowed to lapse.  Oh, well…  Time passes.    —    KMAB]
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