Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Talent is a pursued interest.  Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.
    —     Bob Ross
[Maybe Bob is right, but it sure would be nice if this effortless guitar playing came faster…   Good thing I’m one of those OCD folks who actually enjoys practicing without seeing much improvement.  LoL.    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2021 B U
Blueprint Blue
2019 I Struggle With One At A Time
2018 An Infectious Political Cancer
Site Update / Poems Page Evolution
2017 Our Thirst
2016 History Favors The Victor
2015 This We’ll Leave Them
2014 Sounds Like Faux News To Me
2013 Reasons
2012 American Libertarianism
2011 The Goal

Read Full Post »

The Real Frank Zappa Book” (1989©)   —   book review
Today’s review is for the autobiography:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book“;  written by:  Frank Zappa and co-written by / with:  Peter Occhiogrosso.
Background:  a network system admin colleague was listening to some music when I approached him for assistance.  I asked about what he was listening to and he said it was Frank Zappa and the “Mother’s of Invention”.  He then proceeded to tell me how great Zappa was and that he listened to a Zappa show on the radio every Friday night where this little station ran a two hour program on Zappa’s music.  My friend said there was nothing more relaxing than sitting in an easy chair with a tumbler of Jägermeister and listening to Zappa to kick off a weekend.  I was familiar with the “name” but (honestly) could not recall a single song or album, but I said I’d check it out based on his (my friend’s) recommendation.
Well, I still haven’t gotten around to listening to the radio and I don’t know if the broadcast is still happening every Friday evening, but I was in the used book store (several years ago) and I saw this book and picked it up to add to my reading list.  I keep seeing Zappa’s name referred to in my guitar studies, so I finally made a point of opening (and reading) it.
Who is Frank Zappa and why should we care about him or his views (on anything)?  Zappa is / was (died 1993) an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader.  He self-produced over 50 albums and his estate had published another 30+ albums of “new” material since his death.  He was a self-taught musician and composer.  He claims to not be a very great guitarist, but that is the only instrument I ever knew him to play and he’s said to be one of the top 100 guitarists in history.  His book says he originally learned music on a drum set and picked up guitar later.  He was also reasonably well known for his libertarian political views particularly about free speech and the separation of church and state.  Zappa is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has an album in the Library of Congress preserved for its historical significance.  Zappa’s music is a blend of rock, jazz, fusion, concert / symphonic music with a heavy dose of political / social satire – comedy.  He poked fun at both the left and the right.
What’s in this book and is it any good?  The book is really several parts:  1)  a personal biography;  2)  a discussion of his career and production thoughts about the music industry;  and,  3)  Zappa’s views on various political and social / societal trends.  I didn’t find his biography interesting.  I thought his comments on music and the industry were very insightful.  I was only mildly amused by his political stances and societal observations.  While I might personally agree with much of his stances and observations, I found his sarcasm / humor tiring long before the end of the book.
Part 1)  I grew up poor and we moved around a lot.  My escape was music.  I learned about it on my own by listening to an unfiltered variety of sound(s).  I got ripped off constantly by almost everyone else in the music business.  (Pgs 1 – 137)
Part 2)  Everybody is out to screw the composer / artist.  Including, but not limited to:  all production companies, all music unions, all venue owners, all governments (local and national), most fellow musicians, and, most hangers-on / groupies.  (Pgs 139 – 209)
Part 3)  Small, efficient government is the best.  Taxation should be limited to sales and should not include income – to have some hope of charging taxes on the wealthy as well as the workers.  All organized religion(s) and “church” institutions are corrupt (themselves) and corrupting to governments which allow them to have political influence.  There should be a full separation of Church and State.  Public education is a “mostly” a waste of money.  Education post-high school should be paid for by the individual only.  Special interest groups (guns and religion lobbies) have too much influence in America.  You cannot legislate morality and you should not be allowed to use morality to limit freedom of speech (particularly in the arts and music industries).  (Pgs 211 – 352 / end)
Final recommendation:  moderate to strong.  As stated previously, I didn’t find Zappa’s personal life (growing up or music performing) very interesting.  I found his thoughts about the concept of music (and art in general) VERY interesting.  This section was the strength of the book.  I would have been over the moon if he had devoted the rest of the book to elaborating on his theories of sound / art / artistry / and music production.  Unfortunately, he didn’t.  The final chunk of the book was “really” only moderately interesting.  My impression was:  “this is filler to add 80 extra pages”.  Again, just because I agree with an authors’ statements, doesn’t mean I like / enjoy how they choose to express the statements.  The book was worth the time invested in reading it , if only to gain an appreciation of a historic music figure.  I will be offering up some quotes from it in the future.  – BUT – except for the discussion on music / art, I can’t say the book inspired much after-thought / reflection.  (Actually, I’ve already posted a few of Zappa’s quotes, but didn’t know they were from this book.  I will probably get around to updating those prior posts at some point.)
Afterwords:  I have made an effort to go to YouTube and sample some of Zappa’s performances.  I’ve yet to be impressed.  Mostly, what I’ve heard has been ok.  JUST ok.  They remind me of what you’d hear at a county / state fair.  If anyone reading this can provide specific suggestions, I’d be more than happy to check them out.  I will say, I have found the video’s of his interviews to be much more interesting than the music I’ve listened to.
.
On This Day In:
2021 Every Time It Gets Better
Distant!
2020 I’m Persuaded
2019 Hungry For Trust
2018 Mutual Assistance
2017 The Toughest Job
2016 Congratulations!!
Better Yet, Read!
2015 Even If It Kills Us Slowly
2014 Fun To Play God
Of Anything
2013 Legal (Almost)
2012 Great Scots!
2011 The GI Bill – A Simple History Lesson
Breaking Even

Read Full Post »

Try to play easy pieces well;  it is better than to play difficult ones in a mediocre style.
    —     Robert Schumann
.
On This Day In:
2021 I’m An Optimist
Talent Is A Ticket To Ride
2020 Works For Me
Rivers Versus Waterfalls
2019 Better To Do
News: Drunken Party Girl Saves Seoul
2018 Keep Moving
2017 Fighting Good
2016 Size Matters
2015 Maybe The Best Thing
2014 Ready To Be Fried?
2013 A Real Lover
2012 Winning Wars
2011 A Different Lesson

Read Full Post »

GROTE Full Scale Electric Guitar Semi-Hollow Body Guitar w/ Bone Nut (Red GRDB-TR35)  —  guitar review  (Images follow the 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 manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
* Guitar Acquisition Syndrome
Background:  For the last fourteen months, I’ve been trying to teach myself about music and playing guitar.  To date I have now purchased eight “inexpensive / cheap” guitars.  Here’s the review of my latest:  a Grote 335 / 338 style Electric Guitar (red)…  What’s the difference between “335” and “338”?  I don’t know…  I can’t tell exactly.  It seems there is “some” difference in the body size, but I’ve not been able to see / read and / or find a description of which is which.  As near as I can tell, the 335 was created / invented by Gibson Guitar Corporation back in the late 1950’s.  Rather than a full body (figure-8) guitar, the top of the body has two “cut-aways” to allow for easier access by the fretting hand to the higher (closer to the body) frets.  Gibson bought Epiphone (also in the late 1950’s) and used that brand to sell a much less expensive version of the the same model.  I gather “335” is a legal brand, so other companies can’t say their guitars ARE 335s, but they seem to be able to say their guitars are 335-style.  Others just say their guitars are “338” and then slightly modify the size / shape so they are not getting sued by Gibson / Epiphone.  This is very similar to the issue of headstock shape many “knockoff” guitar companies have with the Fender headstock style.
Since starting on this journey, I’ve watched numerous interviews of famous guitarist saying they wanted to play the same guitar as their inspirational heroes (I don’t have any guitar heroes) or they started playing one (guitar) style that fit the sound they heard in their head (I don’t have a sound) and when the sound changed, they changed the guitar style to match their new sound.  I’ve yet to see / hear any of them say, “the company gave me a free custom guitar and an endorsement contract, so I switched“.
Anyway, as stated in several prior reviews, I’m retired and I have a significant price point and life time (mine) limitation.  I haven’t found my sound or style (or hero), so I’m playing around at the bottom of the market in search of one, both or all three.  For those of you readers who are unfamiliar with the price of music instruments, a decent quality, name brand guitar “probably” runs near USD $1,000.  (If you are lucky, you can find the same model used for half that.)  At half that price (USD $500), you can also normally find the same name brand (or their subsidiary) selling a new entry-level model of substantially lower quality.  You can also go (quickly) the other direction to many times that price before you even get to custom guitars.  Specific historic guitars sell in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars!
I now have eight “cheap / inexpensive” guitars of various style / types, and, not counting books and accessories (tools, tuners, picks, cables, gig bags, straps, etc), I’m right around the $1,000 “all-in” mark.  My wife believes I’m a hoarder and while she supports my trying to learn music / guitar, she does NOT approve of my continuing guitar purchases.  I (on the other hand) still feel the need for one last guitar before pausing for the “right” one – which I may never find / buy.  I will probably get that “last” inexpensive one before the end of this year.  After that, I will be playing them each, and, over time, upgrading the bits and pieces on them until I’m more or less happy with each.  Some, like my three-quarter size acoustic are so minimalist it really can’t have much changed out.  Of course, as my luthier skills improve, there is a seemingly endless pool of tools to spend (my wife would say “waste”) money on.  And, there are also amplifiers.  On the issue of amps, I only have my initial 10-watt amp from the purchase of my first electric guitar.  I’m sure it’s “crap”, but I very rarely use it, so it may be some time before I get a second / replacement amp.  At the moment, I play my acoustic guitars in the day and my electrics sans amp at night.  The “only” time I use my amp is when I get a new guitar want to verify the electric bits work.  Because I still have no ear for electric sound, I still can’t tell if the electric guitars are good or not – only if they play at all.
Start of review:
Ordering:  The company home site:  https://www.grotechina.com/ did not have the model I wanted – red / glossy and with no trapeze end-piece.  I was tempted to settle for red with the trap, but I decided to wait.  The general price at their site for this style but with matte finish was $189.00, not including tax or shipping.  I found the same item on Amazon for $179 (not including tax but with free shipping).  The price ended up:  $196.45 (delivered).  Note:  the model I purchased on Amazon is now available on the Grote home site for $169 – $10 less than my price, but you will then have shipping (usually $20-$30) costs.
Delivery:  I ordered mine on Friday April 15, 2022 (late evening) and it arrived on April 17, mid-afternoon.  The site said it would be delivered in a week or so, depending on your location.  Amazon said it would be delivered on Monday 17 April 2022.  On delivery, the box was slightly crumpled at the base.  Otherwise, there was no damage to the box.  (This was a first!)  On opening the box, there was no damage at all to the guitar.
What you get:
(Specifications)
Guitar Brand:  Grote
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Cherry Red (not really my desired candy apple red, but close enough)
(I’m not sure why this matters or the company thinks we care…) Trademark & Metal Truss Rod Cover:  Laser anti-false trademark, Metal truss rod cover with engraved logo.
Number of frets:  22
Nut width:  42mm.
Scale length:  24.75″
Number of strings:  6
Pick-up Style:  Humbucker, Humbucker
Guitar Bridge System:  Tune-o-matic
Controls:  5 – 1 switch (3 positions), 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone;  the four knobs are clear plastic which lets you see the number settings from the top or side.  Very cool!
Body Material:  Canadian Maple;  there is a hint of wood grain through the glossy paint.  NO pits or faults.  A beautiful instrument.
“F” holes:  2, painted the same color as the edge binding and the pain appears smoothly applied.
Neck Material:  Canadian Maple
Fingerboard Material:  Black Wood (I have no idea what that means.  Also, the fingerboard itself is slightly indented in multiple locations of the non-inlaid frets.  The “dents” don’t impact the playability and can only be seen if you are looking specifically for damage / flaws.
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Bone
Bridge Material:  Metal
Bridge Type:  Tune-o-matic style
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
2 x Plectrum
1 x Connecting Wire
1 x Spanner Tool (for adjusting the neck / truss rod)
First impression:  right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich almost burgundy wine red body and neck back.  It is thin but not particularly light.  Being “semi-hollow”, I expected lighter.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.  The edges of the fret board are beautifully bound with a kind of beige / white binding, but the fret spout is TERRIBLE!  The metal frets are visibly past the edge of the neck and binding AND they are sharp(!) AND on both sides of the neck.  I make a mental note to self:  DO NOT run your hand up and down this neck quickly or you WILL cut yourself badly!  This is unexpected because many / most of the YouTube reviews were extremely positive on this.  I will wait at least a week before I sort the fret sprout.  In the meantime, the best I can do is tune and then continue the overall inspection.  At least the frets are polished and don’t leave a residue on your fingertips.
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – bone. Looks perfect!
• strings – strum… not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny finish.  One VERY minor dent on the side of the body which can barely be seen or felt.
• pickups – are all magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  The “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume(s) and tone(s) 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)
• pick (“plectrum”) – no name plastic, but you get two of them.  One has skull artwork on it.  The second has some kind of dancing Asiatic female.  They seem medium thickness.  Not bendy; not super-hard; not textured.
• action and intonation – the strings seem fine (eyeball test).  I will measure them in the future.  The intonation is PERFECT.  I can’t believe it!  Not just open and at the 12th fret.  All up and down the neck with no dead frets on any strings.
Strum…  the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  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 still 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 (perfect) for me to play in my bedroom.  It is quieter than an acoustic, but louder than any of my other electrics.
Strum…  I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes “playing” Ode To Joy and then decide to pack it in for the evening.  The main thing I notice is the guitar is very comfortable to play.  The neck seems long, but I don’t have to stretch to play open chords and the body seems to be made just for me.  Mainly the thinner body means it’s easier to hold the guitar body under my strumming arm and against my body.  Also the smaller top end of the body brings the neck closer to me, which is itself more comfortable.
What’s happened since then?
Nothing.  Well, because it lacks a gig bag and there’s an included caution note about resting the guitar between playing sessions, I set up one of the three guitar hangers I got for Christmas and have set the guitar to rest on the wall right next to me.
Next?
Check the fret sprout for about a week and do the light maintenance on it / them for safe playability.  Then it’s add to the rotation and enjoy!!  I will, of course, need a gig bag and a strap ASAP.
Final Recommendation:  LoL!!  Are you kidding me?  This is a beautiful guitar and once I sort out the fret ends and get a strap, it will be a pleasure to practice with.  In a strange way, I’m lucky I didn’t get this guitar as my first electric or I might never have bought my others.  Again, I don’t know anything about how the guitar sounds electrically, because I don’t have enough experience – except to say everything seems to be working.  All things in their time.  Inshallah…

Still Wrapped In-Box

Close-up of Knob Control

.
On This Day In:
2021 The Heart Of Science
Too Thin
2020 Up Again
2019 Advice From #1 To #45
2018 How Much I Will Miss The Trump Administration
2017 We Need To Continue Experimenting
2016 Consistently
2015 We Must Dissent
2014 Now What?
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

Read Full Post »

Dust In The Wind

[Happy Birthday, Sis!!   Here’s some inspiration to pick up your guitar…    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2021 Stopped Counting Decades Ago
Just Enjoying The Sun
2020 To My Idealistic Sister
2019 Respect For My Sister
2018 I Trust Cows
No Boundary
2017 Don’t Sink Now
2016 A Burning Passion To Teach Freedom
2015 Before Debit (And Credit) Cards
2014 Herding Cats
2013 Ooops!
2012 Understand A Great Truth
2011 Start Here…
2010 Random Acts of Vandalism On Easter Weekend…

Read Full Post »

Out of the depths of the mysterious box,
Flowed the marvelous symphony,
Of all the virgin voices of the forests of America
    —     Agustín Barrios Mangoré
From his poem:  “Profession of Faith
[Happy Birthday, Mom!  Love, Kevin    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2021 Maybe Faith Is Based On Hope
I Want To See You Smile
2020 Thank You (To Those Who Serve)
Hanging In There
2019 Her Job, Too
2018 Just Another Song I Like
Earlier Still
2017 Ten To Go
2016 Unstable Emergence
2015 88
2014 Some One-Liners Are Too Easy
2013 Greatness
2012 Memories Of Arlington
2011 Wake Up

Read Full Post »

I’ve been learning how to play guitar for a little over thirteen months and this morning when I began practicing I realized I’ve already “forgotten” more about guitar than I know (remember)…
Because playing a musical instrument is so much about muscle memory, practically none of the information I’ve read / watched has been retained in a usable format.  I’m reminded of what we used to say in the Army:  “You don’t know it until you can teach it and you can’t teach it until you can do it.
I’ve “learned” about so many music / guitar concepts without practicing them – until they are “under my fingertips” – that I am constantly experiencing “oh, that’s what that was talking about” moments.
Lately, I’ve been trying to tune the guitar by ear.  I’m actually starting to get close.  Of course, all of my guitars are already close to being “in-tune” (from frequent use), so I guess my next step will be to fully un-tune (de-tune?) one of them and see how close I can “really” get from scratch (on my own).
.
On This Day In:
2021 And My Sister Is Taxing
What Did The Wise Men Say?
2020 One Phrase
2019 Why #LyingDonald Can’t Trust Any Honorable Person
2018 An Old Style Conservative
2017 John Q.
2016 In Trembling Hope Repose
2015 Let There Be Light
2014 Unless
2013 Divergent Roads To Similarity?
2012 In The Process
2011 What Do You Emphasize?

Read Full Post »

That mind alone whose every thought is rhythm can embody music, can comprehend its mysteries, its divine inspirations, and can alone speak to the senses of its intellectual revelations.
    —     Beethoven
.
On This Day In:
2021 And My Sister Is Taxing
What Did The Wise Men Say?
2020 One Phrase
2019 Why #LyingDonald Can’t Trust Any Honorable Person
2018 An Old Style Conservative
2017 John Q.
2016 In Trembling Hope Repose
2015 Let There Be Light
2014 Unless
2013 Divergent Roads To Similarity?
2012 In The Process
2011 What Do You Emphasize?

Read Full Post »

The person who is free does not do what they do because of the desire to be looked at a certain way by other people, or even themselves.  Because their self image is not dependent on something outside themselves, they are truly free to act with no ulterior motive.
They are not trying to “get something” out of being a guitarist other than the plain fact of being a guitarist.  They do not come to music and the guitar and say “make me feel good about myself”.  Such a person never says “I should be able to do that, but I can’t, so there must be something wrong with me.”
They say  “Hmm, I have trouble with this, there must be a reason why, I think I’ll investigate (pay more attention).”
    —     Jamie Andreas
www.guitarpinciples.com
From her book:  “The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar
From chapter:  “The Deeper I Go, The Deeper It Gets
.
On This Day In:
2021 A Soul Passing
I Hear You Singing In The Wire
Thank You, Georgia!
2020 Implications
2019 Just To…
2018 Still Going…
2017 Great Risk
2016 Robbery
2015 Humanity Plus
2014 Dinner For Two?
2013 Exercise For Those Over 50
2012 Tearful Joy!!
Except When He’s Left

Read Full Post »

Is Too

Music is to the mind as air is to the body.
    —     Plato
.
On This Day In:
2020 Says Every Generation Since Schools Were Invented
Chokin’ My Thoughts Away
2019 Dance The Night Away
2018 #45: The Poorest President In History
2017 Bull’s Eye
2016 Gifts
Jacked 3
2015 I’d Settle For Interesting
2014 Old Math
2013 Adequate Explanation
2012 Superior Discovery
2011 Welcome Home And Thank You!!
Two Heritages

Read Full Post »

When we see someone online play a piece note-perfect, we are seeing the fruit of more time than we would ever suspect.
Professional players have often spent hundreds of practice hours on a 3-minute piece of music.  And even more time working on basic skills and abilities.
When we see and hear them, it appears simple.  It looks easy.  So we again assume incorrectly.  We chalk it up to talent or luck.
But the reality is that high-level playing is possible for anyone (physical limitations aside).  It’s all matter of minutes and hours.
Luckily, time will pass whether we practice or not.  In three years, we will either have three more years of practice behind us, or we won’t.
We don’t need more time in the day.  There’s no race or competition.  No one cares how well we play.  Guitar is a personal challenge and pursuit.  Others may support and encourage, but they don’t care whether we practice each day or not.
The trick to putting in more time on something is to enjoy the practice.  And this is born of creating small, achievable challenges, and meeting them.  Over and over.  We find something slightly difficult then we work on it.
We get feelings of satisfaction from winning the challenge.  And our skills expand bit by bit, day after day.
We can (and should) still care about short-term results.  We need the motivation that comes from success.
But we can also keep the long-term in mind.  We can accept that pieces may take months or years to play well.  Our speed and agility may take months and years to improve to where we want them.
Like life itself, our music is made of small moments, lived well.  And the more we focus on process and quality, the smoother and more quickly we enjoy the fruits.
From a website I follow:  https://www.classicalguitarshed.com/
The specific post / page is:  https://www.classicalguitarshed.com/tq-raymond-joseph-teller-magic-time/
[Please visit the original site if you have a few moments…    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2020 Two Happy
Every Time I Look Around
Boxing (Day: 3) – Double-End Target Setup
2019 Stand Up, Hook Up, Shuffle To The Door…
2018 Ridiculous Idea
2017 Waddle On!
A Severe Challenge — When The President Is A Liar
2016 The Best Of Circumstances
2015 Reverberating Silence
2014 Wrong Again?
2013 Improper Faith
2012 One More Rung
2011 Sunday Morning Earlies (Hugging trees and smiling…)
Hurry
Updates On Life
2010 It’s Gettin’ Deep In Here

Read Full Post »

My mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years…  Poetry of many kinds… gave me great pleasure…  Pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight…  But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry…  Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure.  I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did.
My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.  A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered;  and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week;  for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use.  The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.
    —     Charles Darwin
From:  “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882
[Originally found at one of the blogs / websites I follow:  https://www.themarginalian.org/
The specific post is:  https://www.themarginalian.org/2021/11/28/darwin-life/
Please visit the original site if you have a some time…    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2020 Wear A Damn Mask!
I Can’t Stay For Long
Boxing (#2): First Lessons
2019 A Surprisingly Good Way
It’s Official X-mas (Tree) At Home
2018 Weight / Health Update
What’s Happening With You?
2017 The Great Leveler
Conservative Depressions
2016 Election + 1 Month
2015 Dance And Sing
2014 A Measuring Stick For Progress
2013 Courtly Love Or Victory Over Habit
2012 Have We Met?
2011 Efficiently Useless

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was our 37th wedding anniversary.  After dinner together, my wife retired to the living room to watch TV for the evening.  I retired to my “computer” room to continue blogging and surfing.
About 9pm, the power went out for our entire block – at least our side of the street anyway.  About 30 minutes later, it went out for the other side, too.  We were not in the middle of a storm.  No rain.  No wind.  Just nighttime and the chill of early December…
After lighting a half-dozen candles in our open-layout kitchen / living room and with nothing else to do, my wife curled up in a recliner and I got out one of my guitars.  I proceeded to practice my strumming, chord transitions, some scales (major, minor and pentatonic) and my (very basic) attempt at a twelve bar blues.  My wife was relatively unimpressed.  She is not a fan of scales – even “enhanced” scales (they are a bit more musical).  She said my playing is “improving” and “when you are actually playing, it’s quite relaxing“.  She was referring to my strumming and chords.
Ah, well, slowly, slowly…
Power was restored just after 11pm.  About one hour ahead of the power company’s website prediction of “between 12 and 1 AM”.  I chided my wife this was the longest she’d ever sat and listened to me “play” guitar.  She normally leaves the room as soon as I start on scales.  LoL!!  All in all, a pleasant way to spend an anniversary evening.
.
On This Day In:
2020 Wonder And Dreams
Gatherin’ Up The Tears
2019 I Resemble That Remark… (7!)
2018 Mueller Investigation Comparison To #LyingDonald
2017 #DonTheCon And Russian Collusion
2016 Balance The Truth
2015 Still Itchin’
2014 One Life
2013 Reason Is Your Light
2012 Bordering Manhood
2011 Even Christ Couldn’t

Read Full Post »

The Circle Of Fifths For Guitarists” (2017©)   —   book review
This review is for the first guitar book (non-song book category) which I have finished reading.  Hopefully, there will be many more in the future…
The book is written by:  Joseph Alexander and is part of a series of learning about music / guitar titled:  “Fundamental Changes“.  There is an associated website at:  www.fundamental-changes.com.  It also has associated Facebook and Instagram blah-blah-blah…
Background:
In January of this year (2021), I decided to teach myself to play guitar.  I’ve now purchased multiple guitars (acoustic and electric) and about a dozen books on learning music and learning how to play various genres of guitar.  I am trying to “find” my voice on both hardware and in music.  I am doing this (journey / vision-quest) “mostly” through YouTube, Wikipedia, Google and my local second hand bookstore.  I am averaging about one hour a day of hands-on practice and another couple of hours exploring genres, music theory, musicians / bands / songs, and hardware reviews.  Although I have (probably) over 300 hours of hands-on practice, I still consider myself to be a near complete-beginner guitarist.  I have watched multiple hours worth of videos on “The Circle of Fifths” and given this book is only a little over sixty pages of material, I’ve spent far more time watching videos than I actually spent reading this book.
Review:
Having said this, the questions remain:  is THIS a good book about the topic and would I recommend it to others?  The answer to both is:  “YES“.
First (good):  this is not a particularly easy topic to cover / explain.  I may feel this way simply because I’m such a beginner, but I’ve asked a few people who’ve “played” guitar in the past and they (mostly) said:  “Just learn some chords and play songs. Nobody is interested in theory.”  The problem is: I AM!!  Not only am I interested in guitar (as a physical instrument), I am also interested in it as a means of musical expression.  I seek to “Grok” guitar.  This means I have to learn the how’s and why’s of just about everything “guitar”.  Hence, my interest in the topic:  “The Circle of Fifths” (TCoF).
Alexander has written a very easy to read explanation of TCoF and I feel this book significantly increased the depth and breadth of my understanding of this music tool.  Obviously TCoF is a tool for all musicians and not limited to just use by guitarists.  Having said this, the author appropriately makes the effort to explain things from / for a guitarist’s point of view.  He defines words / terms when he first uses them, so ensuring the budding guitarist knows what he is talking about.  Alexander also takes the time to briefly explain some things beyond the scope of the book and cautions readers when a side topic is going to get deep.  Basically, he explains fundamental concepts clearly and then builds on the foundation to round out the reader’s understanding.
As mentioned earlier, there is an associated website with audio files which can be played to increase understanding by ear training and not simply expecting the reader to “understand” a point by reading about it.  This is a book about practical application of theory to music (sound).
Second (bad):  If that’s the good, what’s wrong?  Well, my copy came to me with every third page glued together.  Not consecutive pages, but facing pages and every other set:  two pages open, two pages glued, etc.  The glued spot was pretty uniform at about two inches in from the center / binding.  Most were only spots.  A few were lengths (a quarter inch to two inches) running from binding margin to the center of text.  A couple were the full height of the page as well as being over an inch in width.  Most could be pulled free.  Three of the sets completely shredded the opposite page – which meant you couldn’t read the back of that page either, even though it wasn’t glued.  Fortunately, the worst pages were at the extreme front and end of the book.  When contacted, the response was:  the books are printed and delivered by Amazon;  take it back to them and they’ll arrange to give you another.  If this was a hardbound book or more expensive, I would have done this.  Weighing the cost versus my time, I just decided to live with what I have.  And, after all, the book was still readable.  Although annoying in multiple locations, I could figure out the missing words from surrounding context.
Third (bad):  The book had a handful (less than five) of editing errors where either a word was dropped or an incorrect word was used.  Only one was so bad (impactful) that I had to go back and re-read adjoining text to ensure I knew what the author was saying instead of what it looked like he was saying.  I would add, I personally would NEVER buy this type of book in kindle format without having seen the complete book on whatever hardware version I owned.  There is too much valuable information easily accessible by laying out two pages and seeing them next to each other in a readable size / format.  In fairness, I am a “book” person, not an “ebook” person.  Of course, with kindle I wouldn’t have had the glue issue.
Final recommendation:  strong recommendation.  If you are interested in learning a bit about music theory, how chords and keys are built and how chords work together to create music, this is an excellent beginner’s resource.  Is it going to “vastly” improve MY music skills.  Not in the immediate future.  I’m not that good, yet.  But I’ll get there some day and I believe reading this book will have helped me get there sooner than if I’d not read it.  I will look for this author and series in my local used book stores where I can open and check the pages before I buy the book.
.
On This Day In:
2020 Doctor’s Orders
Make That Seven Orders…
2019 Innocent
2018 Ripost
2017 Just Asking…
2016 And 4
How Tall Do You Stand?
2015 More Prejudice
2014 Say What?
2013 Daring Errors
2012 Are You Comfortable?
I Just Have To
In Flux
2011 True New
2010 A Job Well Started Is A Job Half Done
I See With My One Good Eye

Read Full Post »

Firefly RE01 Resonator (acoustic) Guitar   —   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:   Since January of this year, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to play guitar – starting from scratch.  And by “scratch” I mean I have (had) little to no actual knowledge of music or of the guitar as an instrument.  Although I have owned a couple of guitars (and other instruments) in the distant past (back in my late teens / early twenties), I never learned how to tune them, let alone play them.  I “meant” to, but life got in the way, and they ended up lost in the mist of time.  I think I sold one and the other I simply left with a friend (who ended up junking it).  So, the sum of my musical “knowledge” base is what I know of radio / pop music and playing “air” guitar (again, in my distant youth).  … So next to nothing.
 
In January, I got my first (acoustic / steel string / dreadnought) guitar and began physically learning – as opposed to simply watching YouTube videos – how to play.  In (roughly) March, I purchased my second guitar (an electric guitar / stratocaster [aka: “S” type] knockoff) with a small amp.  In late May, I purchased my second acoustic (third guitar).  This one is a small (3/4 size) one with nylon strings.  The intent is to have a time and location friendly guitar.  “Time” friendly in that you can play a nylon string guitar for hours without seriously hurting your finger tips.  “Location” friendly in that I can take it most anywhere without worry about it getting knocked about (because it cost less than $50).  After this, at the very tail end of July, I got my second electric.  This one is a “Les Paul” (aka: “LP”) knockoff.  All of my guitars have been from different manufacturers and ALL are at the low end of the price range with “out of pocket” cost varying from $20 to $220.
 
I also borrowed my brother’s steel string acoustic.  It is not a dreadnought, but I’m not positive what type of guitar it is considered.  It is the same body shape and length as my dreadnought, but it is not as deep (wide).  I don’t know if dreadnoughts can have variable depth (so maybe it is).  Anyway, it came with steel strings and I swapped them out for nylon strings.  So, I now have a full-size acoustic guitar which I can practice on for extended time periods.  Having said this, my “normal” daily practice is 60 to 90 minutes.  This sounds like a lot (even to me), but it really isn’t that long.  The longest I’ve “noodled” has been about four hours while watching football on TV.
 
Start of review:
So, this (Firefly Resonator) is the fifth guitar I’ve purchased this year.  It was ordered online with no “expected date” – for shipping or for delivery.  (Yeah, I know it sounds shady…)  I was hoping for delivery in less than two weeks.  It was ordered on a Saturday and delivered on the following Thursday (yesterday).  Five days:  an initial good impression.  The box had a small (two-inch) tear in the exterior, but there was no damage to the guitar.  I add that I have grown increasingly concerned about shipping as I am constantly reading about damaged guitars being received.  Knock on wood…  I’ve been lucky so far.  On YouTube, the reviewers frequently say things like:  “Firefly is a very good company for shipping. They use double boxing and the guitars are packed in Styrofoam for safety.”  Well, that may be true for guitars sent to YouTube reviewers, but neither was true for me.  NO double box. No extra packing.  The guitar did come in thicker plastic wrap (not see-thru anyway) and it did have a cardboard neck / head brace.
 
(Click on images to enlarge…)
 
Per their site (https://guitarsgarden.com/collections/acoustic-guitar), this is what I got for $216.91 all-in (including tax and shipping).  Note:  the item price on the site is $189.91;  the difference is added shipping.
 
Features / Specification:
• Spruce Top, Mahogany back and side
• Bone nut, and nickel String
• Rosewood Fretboard
The site doesn’t mention it, but you get a truss rod Allen wrench included.
 
And, that’s it…  No gig bag (dust cover).  No strap.  No courtesy (marketing) pic.  Nada…  Compared to my other “inexpensive” guitars, which came with some or all of these “extras”, this will add well over 10% to the real / final cost once they’ve been purchased.
 
First reaction:  The guitar is beautiful!
 
Second reaction:  The guitar is heavy!
 
Strum…  Sounds okay to me.  Not in tune, but definitely different to a “normal” acoustic.  The guitar is BIG and surprisingly heavy.  To my mind it feels solid, but bottom heavy.  This is not a stand-and-play instrument.  At the very least, you MUST have a strap.  All the metal in the resonator pan (I’m not sure what this is really called / named), makes the guitar look incredibly “art deco” to my eye.  I’m loving it!!
 
I extend the guitar out bow and arrow fashion and sight down from the bridge and then up from the head-stock.  The neck is visually straight (no warping).  From the side the action (string height) seems a little high, but I’ve been warned (on YouTube) this is frequently true on resonator style guitars because some players will want to use a slide.
 
Strum…  Run my left hand up and down the neck.  Absolutely no, sharp fret ends sticking out (on finger or thumb side) and they all feel well rounded / smooth.  The fretboard doesn’t look dry or in need of oiling.  The strings feel smooth and new.  The neck feels smooth, polished and maybe just a bit thick / chunky.  (Note: this is a “playing” style / round neck resonator model.  Firefly doesn’t seem to stock them, but you can get models with a square / flat-ish neck which are meant to be played on your lap or a table in front of you.)  There are no scratches anywhere on the body or neck.  The finish / polish appears smooth to the eye and to the touch.  I look around the sound holes just to see what a “resonator” looks like.  It looks and feels solid.  I feel like I’m back on my first guitar because this is SOOOO different from my others.  I do notice there is a white residue of some kind around the two screened holes nearest the neck.  I don’t know what that’s about and I’m leary to give it more than a gentle scratch to see if it comes off.  Some does.  Some doesn’t.  (see image)
 

Glue residue?

 
Strum…  Okay, attach tuner and see how close it is to “shipped ready to play“.  Result:  not very.  Half the strings require less than 360° tuner turn, two – a couple full turns, one – multiple turns.  The good news is the tuners seem very steady / responsive and there are no dead spots or slips.  I do all six strings and then go back through them a second time.  All but the last are slightly off (expected).  Total time:  a couple of minutes (15 max).
 
Strum…  Open chords time…  Sounds different, but great.  A minor scale time…  Hmmm…  Something is not quite right.  The strings don’t “feel” right.  I look at the strings again from various angles (top and then up and down the neck).  The strings are not parallel.  The “D” string runs closer to the “A” string as it approaches the bridge. Hmmm.  I thumb the string and it sounds fine, but it is definitely wrong.  I hook my index slightly in front of my thumb just in front of the bridge and press…  There is a slight “nick” sound and presto(!) the string is in place and running parallel between the “A” and the “G“.  My guess is there is some slight groove the string is supposed to rest in and it wasn’t quite there when they shipped the guitar to me.  Anyway, it’s fine now!
 
Two additional points:  Action and Intonation.  Action is the height of the strings above the frets.  I’m not sure what the action is supposed to be, but it feels comfortable to me on both chords and scales.  Intonation is (as I understand it) if / does the guitar produce true notes up and down the neck – particularly at the nut and at the twelfth fret.  To my ear (and to the tuner) it is perfect – at the twelve, five and  seven frets.
 
Final thoughts:  This is a beautiful instrument and I look forward to learning its peculiarities.  I already feel like I’m playing an electric guitar instead of an acoustic because the sustain is soooo long.  And, yes, it does sound a lot like a banjo got crossbred with a guitar.  I imagine myself doing (learning) some Missouri / Louisiana style blues finger picking and sliding with this baby.  I can hardly wait!
 
.
On This Day In:
2020 A Word Of Assurance They Are Not Alone
  Is #45 Still Crying?
2019 It’s Obvious
2018 Passed Too Swiftly
2017 On Our Wall (Part 1)
2016 Or The Ripples From A Good Life
2015 Titles And Reputations
2014 Unfolding
2013 Again
2012 Needs
  Damned
2011 Potter & Prejudice
  Blink, Blink
   

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: