naim amor

i went on tour with naim amor about two years ago now. if you don't know naim, you should. he's very natural at everything he does and has this way of making you want to play the guitar even if you hate the guitar. my tour with him and friend arthur "artie" vint was like sailing into the sunset. one of the smoothest rides imaginable. here is a video i just rediscovered.

if you're ever in tucson, go see him play. he plays like eight shows a week. also, write to him and see if you can stay at his house. it's the best.

oh, to bevel and countersink a pickguard (guitar refinishing part 22)

so the last time we cut out the pick guard using my fake dremel tool. now we just add an attachment for sanding and it's time to bevel this piece. guitar pick guards are usually beveled with a 45 degree bit on a router, but that involves cutting out a pattern into a piece of wood and a bunch of other stuff that sounds like ass. freehand is the way to go for me. i faked a 45 degree angle and started sanding.

it didn't take so long and i think it's real pretty looking. here's the full frontal.

now the next thing on the list is to place the holes for the screws and countersink them, which means grinding in the hole so the head of the screw sinks in and becomes the level of the surface. here is a diagram i've stolen.
and here she is. this kind of was my proudest moment.

and then there was the moment of ecstasy when i drilled the first hole into the guitar. the screw needs a little help getting in so i drilled a hole smaller than screw itself and that will help to guide those little guys in. i think it'll work. like i've said before, this is all new to me.

next we move on to electronics, which i also have little knowledge about. i feel like i can see the finish line on this thing.

cutting out a pickguard (guitar refinishing part 21)

so i bought some pick guard material from amazon for like $10. this thin sheet of plastic came in a box the size of a small fridge. i printed the pick guard shape onto a piece of paper, outlined that piece onto the pick guard sheet and now we're ready to cut.

i tried all types of ways to cut the sheet, but it was one failure after another. i broke down and bought a fake dremel tool at harbor freight. i guess it's like a hand held rotary saw? it was only $8 so the laugh's on the world. i also bought this bit for it, because the label said that it was made with diamonds. imagine that? diamonds! the cutting went slow but i didn't care.

cutting things up always rules. dick proenneke says his favorite part of building a cabin is splitting firewood. he's right.

i think it looks like a severed foot wearing a sock. the smell of burning plastic is awesome too. overall, today was a great day in the world of guitar making.

next we have to put some finishing touches on this beauty. clean this thing up. make it feel like i didn't use an $8 tool. the story of my life.

make believe (guitar refinishing part 20)

you know that computer that lets you see how a hair cut will look on you before you even get one? well i bought one of those to help design a pick guard. with the help of carrie sweet, and an awesome computer, this is my mock up. notice the sensual curves. this is no mistake. the pick guard is like the nipple tassel to an otherwise nude guitar. the pick guard covers up just the right amount of body, leaving what's behind it to your imagination. lets take it one step further and throw some make believe hardware on this piece.

that's the right stuff. so now it's off to find pickguard sheeting and a way to cut the pattern out.

final version

this is the last and final version of the logo. carrie really outdid herself. please let her know how awesome this is.

behind the scenes/bushes

a few scenes from the never ending process of recording a hit record. the joy, the pain, the incompetence. this video is dedicated to the struggle.

body rubdown (guitar refinishing part 19)

so the last time we were here we wet sanded the guitar up to 2000 grit. started getting that reflection. now it's time wax it. there are a lot of choices. compound rub, cleaning wax, swirl remover, protective wax, plain old wax, polish. you name it, they got it. the guy at the auto zone was a real boner. he tried to confuse me with his ignorance and i fell for it. "you can't use this shit for a guitar", he says. i don't know what to do. i go home to find out that that's exactly the type of shit i should be using. i go back and get a few things.

now im sitting at home with turtle wax, mother's cleaning wax, and also 3m's rubbing compound. let's save some time and tell you after trying every combination, the mother's cleaning wax ruled the most.

i buffed it by hand because i was afraid of burning through the finish. plus nitrocellulose apparently doesn't hold it's shine like these new guitars so buffing with a machine is sort of pointless. at least that's my excuse. here it is after a few rub downs

holy crap, look at this thing shine, shine, shine, like 409. let's check out what the back has to offer.

this thing is feeling alright to me. it's not the worst that i've seen. since i'm using the vintage hardware, a little swirl here or there is going to feel natural. now it's time to figure out the headstock and the pick guard situation.

the last time i'll ever wet sand you (guitar refinishing part 18)

last night i just couldn't take it. i checked to see if the clear coat was hard enough with my fingernail and it passed the test. it's on. i busted out my wet sandpaper. 400 through 2000 grit. first with the 400 to take off the orange peel and uneven spots. it's important that the whole thing is matte and there are no shiny spots. done! then i kicked it up a notch to 600 grit. done! then i watched the wu-tang movie and went to bed.

then wu-tang movie was awesome, by the way. they murphed the industry. murphed it kid!

when i woke up, it was time to check the method. i decided to take the 800 grit and start rubbing it down. here's a picture.

so i was getting pretty inspired and went all the way. 1000 grit. 1200 grit. 1600 grit. and all the way to 2000. the finish line for sanding. if you held the guitar up to the light you start seeing some reflection. check it.

now isn't that beautiful. so the next step is to buy some wax and figure out how i'm going to buff and polish this piece. off to auto zone.

recording drums and becoming a man.

my friend michael told me that in the world of recording records, the drum sounds are what separate the men from the boys. drums are the ultimate pain in the ass because there are so many components working all at once. then there's the issue of how good the drum set is, how good the room sounds, what kind of mics are used, where they are positioned, phasing, and most importantly, the performance.

i usually record drums with two mics and tons of compression, but since i'm trying to become a man..... four mics and no compression! that a huge step in some kind of direction. and even better, i'm letting someone who knows how to play the drums lay it down. it's about time i gave it my all.

brian 'the skin slapper' brunac came through and did a great job. i pointed the mics and pressed record. everyone else was nice and quiet. it couldn't of turned out better.

little bird

no real blog today. this guy's fault. he's got a million to one chance of living

moonlight roller rink

this post is about tradition. the tradition of rollerskating to live organ music. in the 1960's, dj's started to take over the rink. they said that the turntable was here to stay, the organ was a thing of the past.

dominic, the lone organist, held his ground. he knew that the 45 was going to be a passing phase. and he was right. so after like 40 years, dominic still rules the rink. at least on tuesdays.

we went to go party with him last tuesday and here's a video i made. i guess recording video and skating is illegal in california. they came down on me pretty hard. at least i got some footage. enjoy!

working on a dream

in my days working at a studio, they always used a big chart to map progress. so with a piece of paper and a sharpie, i present to you the chart for the cmg record.

it's a little bit more done than this, i just got tired. we have a deadline of july 29th so i needed a chart to organize what it is that needs to get done. because every time i ask myself what needs to be done i draw a blank. not anymore. thank you chart.

i will be showing updates on the chart from time to time and then mixing, mastering, straight onto the itunes, into your computer, onto your ipod, into you car and straight down your ear holes. word.

heaven is a place

i think it was the terrible summer of 2004, and i remember going to the store for some beer and cigipoo's, getting home and turning on the mystery mixtape. and the mystery mixtape was made by my mom's cousin in croatia, given to my mother, and then stolen by me. and it had a song on it that drove me wild for a few years. drove me crazy because it's in italian, so i was fucked. i couldn't google lyrics to try and find the song. i was lost. had no italian friends. so i would listen to the song and make up words that i thought i heard, and then try them out on google. the searches usually went like this...

"italian dude 70's pop conta dina de reno"

no dice. but if you do that once a week for like three or four years then this is what you get. fabrizio de andre and his hit song 'andrea'. this song is a captured unicorn to me. so i youtubed it and saw what heaven might be like if i make it.

and here's the album version. it's perfect. has a 'couldn't care less if i'm singing this or not' feel to it, smooth groves, melody for a chorus, viola outro and the song builds up perfectly. this thing is built like a house.

when i google "italian dude" these days, this is what comes up.

leonard cohen

as you may or may not know, leonard cohen is back. back to playing shows in this country. after something like 15 years, he's back. many would call him the best songwriter that has ever lived. i have. it seems like everyone sometime in their lives has their leonard cohen moment. hearing his music not only changed the way i thought about depressing music but allowed me to bond with other depressed musicians that were into him. it's a not so secret/secret club.

so after being a fan for like 10 years and collecting every album on vinyl and reading his novel and joining his email list, i couldn't justify paying $70 bucks to see him? and i wrestled with this for a week. feeling like i wasn't supportive. i like music. i should go to the show. his music moved me and changed my world. but still, nothing. and i don't even think it was the price. i just couldn't see myself at the nokia center watching him.

last year i paid like $50 to go see a leonard cohen tribute concert with michael mcdonald. i'm telling you about this because when i heard that the frogs did a secret show down the street a few months ago and i missed it, i couldn't stop feeling like i missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. every time i think about it, it makes me angry.

sorry cohen, i love you. but maybe just not in that way. i'm really confused. but when i see those frogs, they make me want to travel across the country to be with them. their songs give me hope, comfort me, and make me smile. the way i feel about the frogs is the way phil collins feels about whoever the fuck that song 'against all odds' is about.

next year is their 30th anniversary as a band. 30 years of reelin' and rocking. the frogs have rocked as many years as i've been alive. each year as i get older, they do too. on my 70th birthday i'll say,"happy 70th, the frogs."

from their groundbreaking record, 1989's, fabulous, 'it's only right and natural', ladies and gentlemen, i give you......... the frooooggggszzzz.

this week in the studio......

this week i had a special assignment of recording a few things for the upcoming 'andrew jackson jihad' record. they wanted to soften their tough sounds with my brand of syrupy wank. i told them that they came to the right guy. i just wanted to show a few pictures of my studio space as the final mix goes down. proving again that it's best to work in filth and chaos.

here's something for all you dorks. i borrowed this mic called an akg 451 and it's the first mic that spoke to me in a really long time. it sounds best on any acoustic instrument. it's the only mic i used for the song and when the album drops and the word gets out that this akg here is the hottest thing around, good luck trying to find one. you've just been schooled. you're welcome.

i'd like to leave you now with this little guy i picked up at the echo curio last week. in this work of art, we see a little man who has been shat upon by a crow. i like to look at it while i'm working to remind me of everything in my life that shits upon me, and then i am comforted by the uncontrollable rage and anger i feel.

i just hope they end up using what i recorded. fingers crossed!

deets guitars

creating a logo

i'm in the offices of carrie sweet's art studio. we're locking ourselves in and we're not coming out until we have a concept for a logo. or if we get hungry. or have to use the bathroom. as you can see by the photo, the staff is working overtime.

after the logo is done, we might celebrate by playing some lemonade stand.

stella luna at the ports o' call

stella luna at the ports o' call. she ruled pretty hard and sort of shut the place down. after she did her set she held the microphone out to the crowd, dropped it, walked out, got into her car and just drove off. we were floored. you should go to her myspace page to hear what musical purity sounds like.

happy birthday rod mckuen

here's rod mckuen's star. it took a long time to find.

i couldn't believe it.

happy birthday rod mckuen. april 29th, 1933. men still want to be you, ladies still want to love on you. and you still could care less.

fresh to deft (guitar refinishing part fifteen)

it only took me two weeks of calling paint stores, but i found it! deft. the one with the clock on it! the poor man's nitrocellulose clear coat.

i bought four of them, i was so excited. all other stores told me that nitrocellulose lacquer was too poisonous and that there were safer alternatives. but not lowes. lowes could give two shits. they understand that the greatest shine would come from the deadliest of cans. i guess it's also a pain in the ass because you can't airmail deft. all shipments have to come by ground because it's so explosive and unstable. so here's the body after one and a half cans.

i've been spraying light coats for a week now. sanding out dust between coats. but now i think i'm done. i have to let this thing sit for a month before i can wet sand and polish. they say the lacquer takes years to fully dry out but a month to where it won't smudge when you sand. now it's time to get a logo drawn up.

that was the day

another hit from america's sweethearts.