i just got done with these two guitars as of tonight. they both rule in their own way.
they also were both a pain in the ass to bring back to life. i won't go into detail but trust me. lots of wood filler, crazy glue, and rewound pickups went into these.
the strat has that twangy character that i realize now is not for me. but i'm going to play with it for a while before i sell it, just to make sure.
the les paul was raised from the dead in so many ways that i feel like i'll be playing this one a lot. i didn't think i'd like it because of the maple neck, but actually, that's my favorite part.
the only thing left on this one is the headstock logo. i'm having a silkscreen made next weekend. i can feel that going wrong already.
i just got done with these two guitars as of tonight. they both rule in their own way.
the reviews are in. check out a review for the 'cmg + we are the night' record --->here.
then we add the volume knob, circuit board and 9v hookup. this little guy will have no battery hookup because, a) batteries suck. b) look at how small this thing is. you couldn't fit a battery if you tried. i was pretty impressed with this one.
and here she is all closed up and ready to plug in.
here is a look at the first three in the collection. they're all boosters and they all sound awesome. simply put, they go from a clean volume boost to a low gain distortion. what's interesting about these boosts is that they change the impedance of your guitar so you're actually sending more juice to the amp. when you start hearing distortion, that's no chip or circuit working it's magic. it's actually your tubes breaking up because it can't handle what is being thrown at it, much like turning up the volume to ten on a tube amp. people report tubes actually shattering when these things are cranked all the way, and older sets of tubes just dying in minutes. but as a clean boost, it makes your pickups hotter which gives you a more solid low end and and more chime on the top. just a more articulate sound overall. that's how i like em. just turn them up a little and never turn them off. the one i make for myself will not have an off switch. i love this crap.
crap. no name country dudes from the 70's will never stop getting to me.
i'm not a big fan of guitar pedals because they cost so much. i bought three of them in 1997 and have had them ever since. but because i'm playing guitar for the cmg band, i needed a booster pedal to boost up my volume for my sweet solos. so i bought one and it cost me like $200. they retail at $315. what a drag. so opened up this thing to put in a battery and inside the pedal was the smallest circuit board i have ever seen. now i'm thinking $200 for this? i just got ripped off.
but reading into it, you're paying for the idea and circuit design. good enough. but if you read further you realize that there are only a handful of original designs when it comes to guitar circuits. so all these pedals you see are just variations of an original idea. mostly separated by a few changes in the values of resistors, ect..., which change the sound ever so slightly.
so that means all these pedal makers are hacks. and i know for certain that i'm a hack. so i went out and got a bunch of electric components to whip up a little something of my own. so what i did was download some schematics of some pedals i liked or thought would be cool and started trying to understand how they work. i knew this would take me a long while so i started on the artwork which is really the raddest part anyways.
i used water slide decal paper and just printed out some designs. waterslide decal paper is the best. i never knew it existed. you want to put some shit on a mug or on a model train, check this stuff out.
i found a lot of people making clones of famous boost circuits. so i figure i'd go the cloning route to kick it off. so the first two circuits i'm building are rooted in the mxr "microamp"
and the zvex "super hard on."
simple and sweet. real basic electronics going on here. a handful of parts and now we have a circuit.
got a few aluminum cases, drilled holes, painted them white and put my decals on them and coated them clear. introducing the deets "little man" and the limited edition "blunt mechanic krackle" made for ben barnett. if anybody needs a boost for solo's, it's that dude.
so the next step is to wire these dudes up and pray that they work.
holy crap. fermentation is done. i might have let it run a little too long actually. i take the rotten juice and fruit and throw it into this torture device. it's called a press and that's what it was born to do.
so the press squeezes the crap out of the fruit to get every last drop of wine. notice the screen filter. this is to filter out all the creatures that died when i was stomping my grapes. crickets, spiders, and tons of fruit flies are another reason why wine tastes so good.
it's all about funnels. all that juice into this glass bottle.
then you slap a water trap cap thing on the top and let this thing fart out carbon dioxide for a few months and let the dying yeast settle to the bottom. party at my house in a couple of months. stay tuned.
i know this is supposed to be a blog about music but i wanted to show a bit of the wine making process for this year. i started making homemade fruit wine a couple of years ago because it sounded fun. i think i'll do it every year until i die. nothing is better than making wine. maybe because it's such an ancient tradition and i'm totally into antiquing. so here's a bit of a window into my process.
you get a couple of coolers and go down and get your grapes from 100 year old italian dudes. they laugh at you when you bring down coolers. usually there are a bunch of tough looking guys filling the beds of their pickup trucks with grapes. this year was no exception. they get meaner and hairier every year.
it's a classic story. a group of san pedro 'bad boys' in their 30's set out to make classic rock record with no direction, no real band. and in the end, make an album so long that you'll swear it's a double disc. and i'd like to thank everyone who helped this record see the light of day. i don't know if i'm hard to work with, but a lot of people took a lot of shit from me in the last three years. i think we really pushed the boundaries of when we could accomplish with donated resources and no budget. we also had no idea what we were aiming for, i think that's why it took so long to finish. these kinds of records are finished when they want to be. that's what you tell yourself as a producer because when it takes three years, it's no ones fault but your own. this also was the fastest i've ever finished a record.
how about hearing it for yourself.......
do you have a soft spot in your heart for 60's croatian pop music? no? well maybe you will when the dreamy bad boys from grupa 220 sing their hit single 'osmjeh'.
and speaking of bad boys.....
last night some jokers stole my car. the police recovered it the same day. they took everything inside including the radio. and it was the first time in like 15 years that i sat in my car alone and was in complete silence. and for the first time in 15 years i could hear my thoughts and really had a conversation with myself about me, my life, and my future.
turns out i hate myself and i don't want to talk to me very much at all. i'm buying a radio tonight. these bastards might have stolen my prized tracy champman cd, but they'll never take away my desire to distract myself from reality. i like to believe in the freedom of music. here are some kids that feel the way i do........
so here's a shot of the vox les paul all ready to be painted, finally.
and here's a picture of the other les paul i've been working on. and yes, this is the third time i'll be painting this huge pain in my ass.
building crap always has a huge learning curve i guess. things i've learned...... for some reason unknown to anyone, the jerks who make spray shellac and nitro like to put wax in their products which causes the finish to never quite harden like it should. apparently wax keeps the nitro from cracking and discoloring, but that's why i'm using it. i'm all about cracks. all you lowlifes trying to use nitro and want it not to crack, use some poly and leave us nitro people out of your sick agenda.
pain in my ass. so i had to sand off all the shellac on both guitars and do some research. supposedly watco makes a clear nitro that actually dries. so lets try again.
a whole day of spraying small coats gets you super wasted. i have to buy a respirator soon.
so after the nitro dries for an hour, we scrape the binding. look at that thing just pop. please work this time. another setback and i'm going out of business.
hey people. just to let you know that i've been busy with a few new things and that i'm still somewhat alive. first of all, we are done with the cmg +we are the night record and are just waiting for the cd's to come back from the plant. i've also been writing some new novi split songs which are turning out to sound a lot like jackson browne to me. and also i've been thinking about finishing some of my guitar projects but not before i start a new one.
here's the first bass i'm working on for my first customer. i better not screw this one up like all the rest.
a shitty black bass that i'm planning to make beautiful again. fingers crossed.
where are all these rad music documentaries coming from? if anyone wants to hang out, i'll be at the cinefamily (611 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90036) on july 8th watching the emitt rhodes documentray. if you don't know who emitt rhodes is, he's a dude from hawthorne california that just started making records by himself at his house. they rule. this guy was writing paul mccartney songs faster than paul mccartney.
i saw this movie last week and it got me all choked up. please go see it and demand that your local theater play it.
i swear this will be the last one about this.
let me tell you something, as a musician, the only reason i learned how to shred was so that one day i could play rush covers with other losers. playing rush with other rush folk brings a level of brotherhood that only wars can conjure up. our rush cover band 'big money', didn't go over so well in the uneducated and backwards south bay area. i found this youtube video series and it was like looking into a rad rad rad rad mirror.
piano action is a pain in the ass. by action i mean all the moving parts on the inside. and after 30 years those insides get a little stiff from dryness and dirt and just plain old age. so once in a while you have to go and slap some lube up in it. here's a shot of the action.
so here is how the action looks removed. we have to free up all the joints.
i recommend this stuff called protek. i bought it off of some piano website for dorks.
then you just get a dirty needle and get it all nice and wet.
so the next thing i wanted to do before i put this thing back together was paint it. you have to use an oil based satin paint kids. i didn't go with the traditional 206a grey. i went with black because of that rolling stones song. a very controversial choice according to some wurlitzer online forums. i guess i'm just a rebel.
i've decided to "chop" off the speakers of my wurlitzer 206a. and i've also started a video series about it. these will be super pointless to like 99% of you.
hey someone had the balls to mention 'novi split' in this months issue of esquire magazine. that guy got handed his pink slip after the top brass read the article. but if you don't want to be caught reading esquire at the grocery store, they post their articles for free on the website. see it here.
don't read the article too fast, you might miss it.
yes sir. deets #7. what happened to the last 4? lets not worry about that right now. this is a univox les paul that someone tried to paint black. it was real stupid looking so i sanded the whole thing down. this guitar looks pretty solid and in tact. hopefully this goes quick.
my friend mike b just bought this 1976 mark 1 rhodes a few days ago. i was excited to open it up and work on it because i've never done it and there's always something exciting about knowing you could break the whole thing at any minute. here i am opening this thing up and removing amp.
step two is peeling away the hard exterior to get to the fleshy fruit inside.
i think the most important part of working on a vintage instrument is cleaning out the inside. you always find awesome things in them and you learn about their history. for example, who ever owned this piano before mike liked to get so drunk that he would spill a whole beer into the piano. also someone liked to get so sensual when they played this that they dripped hot wax all in it.
here are the keys all taken out so i could lube up all the posts.
so this is how the keyboard looks on the inside, like the back of a russian man.
and here it is after a good cleaning. much better. these pianos were designed to be worked on by the player. not that kind of player! i mean regular people like you and me that play music. the next step was to tune and then adjust the pickup distance and angle of the tines.
i'd be interested to see what a "licensed professional" would have done with this thing, but i wouldn"t be interested in spending $250 to find out.
so as you know, i really screwed this up last time. it was all my fault. i was being impatient and foolish. i'm starting to learn that the secret is all in the preparation. so check me out.........preparing the paint. warming the gold flakes to a nice 80 degrees so they can be born. it makes it easier for them to slip out. i don't know if you have used flake paint, but it's like spaying out a magical rainbow. and you think i'm kidding but huff enough of this stuff in a closed garage with no mask on, you'll see them.
check me out........... i got some pinstriping tape at the auto zone. they say it's the best for protecting binding from paint.
here's the full protection. i'm not messing around.
check me out...........laying down the plastic is a must. i like to keep the floor of the garage super clean. i pride myself on it. i don't know if you ever have gone to someone's house and their garage floor isn't clean, but gross.
here is our screwed up guitar. notice how ugly it looks. right now it's about a 3. the reason we lay it down for the gold paint is that we want the gold flakes to gently rain on the guitar like apocalyptic ash raining from the night sky.
here it is after like 3 coats. it's looking like a 5 and a half right about now.
here it is after like 20+ coats. a perfect ten. i'd hit that.
now let me tell you about the most terrifying part of painting. after you paint the top of the guitar, you've also buried the bindings with paint. so what you have to do is scrape them off with a razor freehand. you use your thumb as a guide. it's awful. here is a picture i stole from the gibson website. they only employ women to be scrapers because they have a more delicate touch apparently. check out these babes scraping away. i've always been told that i have the hands of a woman so i went for it.
here's the result. it's pretty good. and i feel like it was the most satisfying thing i've done all week.
one more small piece of advice about spray painting with nitrocellulose, wear a mask. because although the high is awesome, the comedown is harsh. i'm nursing a goldflake hangover as i write this. not so fun.