Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NAMM 2006 Pictures

For your viewing pleasure - pictures of NAMM 2006 (at least the stuff I cared about).

Carvin HF2 "Holdsworth Fatboy"

As I mentioned in my NAMM 2006 post, I ordered a custom guitar from Carvin. It's a model designed for the legendary fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth. They have two Holdsworth models, I opted for the hollow body HF2. Beyond the stock features, I added a flamed koa top, matching koa headstock overlay, abalone inlays, coil taps for the pickups, and tung oiled neck.

Carvin is pretty great to deal with - they are really setup for building custom instruments. Obviously, they should be since that is their business but many guitar makers are surprisingly bad at planning, scheduling, and communicating with their customers.

Carvin's latest innovation is quite nice. It's called GuitarTraq. For quite some time now, they have been installing security chips (SNAGG) in guitars to help locate an instrument if it is lost or stolen. They've taken advantage of that for another great use. You enter your invoice # on a web page and they tell you exactly where your instrument is in the building process.

Currently my guitar is at the neck construction station.

What's up with the title?

My dad was curious to know why my blog was called "Tiny Purple Fishes". This goes back to high school when I discovered the band Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker). They lyrics come from a song called "Tales of Brave Ulysses" on the "Disraeli Gears" album. This is my favorite Cream tune. I always thought the lyrics were funny but didn't know what they were about. The music was written by Eric Clapton but the lyrics were written by Martin Sharp who is also the fellow that did the art work for the "Disraeli Gears" album. Apparently Mr. Sharp was a fan of the writings of Homer as the Ulysses here is from the Odyssey. I need to actually read that book. I'd say the lyrics and the album cover demonstrate that Mr. Sharp was "partaking" in the 60's. Anyhow, here are the lyrics to the tune:

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun

And the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips

And you see a girl's brown body dancing through the turquoise
And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea
And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind

The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter

Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell
And you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sands
With tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing.

The tiny purple fishes run lauging through your fingers
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Musical Journey Part 4

Ok, at this point Mike and I had nice guitars and amps. Therefore, we need to start a band. Right?

Well, we did.

Somehow my friend Mike DeLaFleur ended up with a bass - I really don't remember how that came about. I think our first drummer was Kevin Dehaven who went to the church I did and was friends with Mike D.

...this is where the flashback visual effect goes...

Wait. I just remembered. Before I had my own electric, I played Al's electric guitar at the end of year party/celebration for 7th grade. Of course I didn't really know any songs at this point so it was not good.

...now returning...

So this first band formed when I was about in the 8th grade I believe. We learned the usual garage band tunes - Purple Haze, My Generation, etc. I remember having much fun.

One day, Al Quinlan brought over Al DiMeola's Elegant Gypsy album. Holy crap! How was somebody supposed to play that stuff? No f**kin' way! That was my first taste of so-called fusion. Al DiMeola's music and guitar playing was beyond anything I'd heard to that point. It was this amazing blend of styles. It had the fire of rock with the rhythmic and harmonic sensibilities of jazz and latin music. This remains one of my favorite albums of all time.

Once I started high school I found out that another kid on the block played guitar. I met Brian Causey at the bus stop. As it turns out he was in a band called Mobius. Through Brian I met Donald Davis (drums), Pat Beltran (bass/vocals), and Phil Hurd (guitar). Phil was amazing. That guy got into playing more than anyone I had met. And he could play!

Phil was a total Rolling Stones nut. It didn't take me long to become one as well. The turning point was hearing the live version of "Sympathy for the Devil" on "Get Yer Ya-ya's Out". The guitar on that was magic. Keith Richards was brilliant on that and Mick Taylor's playing was lyrical, challenging, and absolutely beautiful. I hung around Phil and co. as much as I could. I learned a lot of Stones tunes too. Needless to say the band with the two Mike's played a lot of Stones tunes :)

During this period I was exposed to a lot of music. Phil got me into Hendrix, The Beattles, Cream, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Joe Walsh, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and so much more. Yep, I was going backwards through rock music history - this was 1979/80 after all and most of these folks made their mark in the 60's. This was a great time for me. I really opened my eyes to a lot of stuff and began exploring ways to play this stuff myself. Phil taught me a lot of stuff which helped a lot. I definitely credit him with a lot of my early development as a player.

All this typing and I'm still not in the 10th grade yet. I guess that will be next.

Floyd Rose V

Ok, I got the call from Brian at Chuck Levin's yesterday. The V I mentioned the other day is on order. Apparently it is one Floyd's top sellers so it will be 4-6 weeks for them to make me one although Brian said he might be able to wrestle one from them sooner.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Musical Journey Part 3

It all started with Michael. No, not that Michael. Michael Brand. We were good friends from grade school on. He's the first person I got drunk with - we snuck wine or something at his bar mitzvah.

Mike and I were big Kiss fans. My first Kiss album was Destroyer. I thought Ace was a funny name for a girl - LOL. We started getting into music pretty seriously at that point. Well, whatever serious means to a 5th or 6th grader.

We both wanted to be Peter Criss. But, I had bongos so more often than not I got to be Peter Criss. I used to tape nails to the edge so that when you hit the bongo it would make the nails pop and rattle like a snare drum. Clever, eh? I wonder what happened to them.

Mike's dad is a photographer and managed to wrangle some tickets for us to go see Kiss at the Capital Center in Landover, MD. It was our first concert and we were blown away. Hell yeah, that's what we want to do!!! That concert is a fun story all by itself - I'll save that for another entry.

We used to get Hit Parader and all those other magazines back then and cut out the Kiss pictures and stick them on the wall with other Kiss posters and stuff. After all, he who had the most pictures was the biggest fan.

I don't remember the exact order of things at this point but we both ended up with acoustic guitars. My grandparents bought me a small bodied classical guitar which I still have. I don't play it much anymore but it is my most cherished instrument. I used to stick the microphone from a cassette recorder into the sound hole to make it an electric guitar.

The first song we learned was "More Than A Feeling" by Boston. I knew how to read music, albeit really slowly, so I figured it out from some sheet music. The sheet music we got had the wrong chord at one spot - it said Eb when it should have been Em - that part of the song never sounded too good when we played it :)

Next, my mom got me the sheet music to "Stairway to Heaven" because it was supposedly a popular tune. Well, I'd never heard the song and this was arranged for piano so needless to say I was very surprised when I actually heard the song for the first time.

By this time we had moved to another neighborhood and this kid named Al Quinlan had an electric guitar that he would let me play. It was Global. It ruled. Well, probably not but what did I know. I borrowed it all the time.

Sometime after that Mike's dad scored him a brand new Fender Musicmaster from Manny's in New York and then a brand new Fender Champ from Chuck Levin's in Wheaton, MD. He had a real electric guitar!!! I was pretty jealous.

My mom got me an electric guitar with a little amp at a yard sale. I think it was a Global like Al's. Now I too had an electric guitar. My parents got me a second hand Acoustic 134 4x10 combo amp for Christmas that year. That thing was freakin' LOUD. Even by today's standards that thing is loud.

My dad took me to Giant Music in Falls Church, VA one day and they let me plug in a nice Les Paul copy. Man, that was soooo much better than "the Global". My dad quickly realized the difference in quality between my guitar and the ones in the store. I'm not sure how this all unfolded exactly but my recollection of the day is that after we left the store my dad flipped through the classified ads in the Washington Post, made some phone calls, and the next thing you know we're in the car going to someone's house to check out a guitar. I was fairly oblivious to what was really happening at the time for some reason - I daydreamed a lot. But before you know it my dad paid the dude $175 for a Fender Telecaster. This was a fantastic freakin' guitar. I mean it was *really* good. So now I had a real good electric guitar and the loudest amp in the neighborhood. Hell yes. It's gettin' good now! As it turns out the finish on that Tele was called Antigua and was extremely rare - particularly on a Tele. We'll revisit that in a later topic.

So now Mike and I both had Fender guitars and nice amplifiers. What else could we need? Veneman Music in Springfield, VA had the answer! An Electro Harmonix Big Muff distortion/fuzz box. Much fun was had with that pedal. I wanted the MXR Distortion+ or the Boss DS-1 but those were both like 40 or 50 bucks and the Big Muff was 19.99.

Next we'll be getting our ya-ya's out...

Testing 1-2-3

Just testing the feature that let's you e-mail your blog. I'm not sure why I'd want to do this but I'm sure that someday I will be eternally grateful that I can.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Musical Journey Part 2

It all started with Michael. Yes, that Michael. No, I'm not kidding. Just about my earliest memories of being "into" music were inspired by the Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoon show. I sure was surprised to find out there really was a "real" Jackson 5 and that Michael was this little kid like me.

I *really* loved there music. I still do. I really enjoy most of the music that came out of Motown as well. I don't remember which birthday it was (probably 7 or 8) but one year my cool surprise present was the Jackson 5's Greatest Hits LP and my mother made my birthday cake look like a record with the Jackson's dancing on top (probably pipe cleaner figures).

There was a sincerity in that music that really resonated with me. In retrospect I realize what a lasting impression this sincerity/honesty/integrity in music has meant to me. Basically, it means I really hate the poser music much more than it probably deserves. I can't stand when you hear music where people are forcing it like it's a job. I get that people need to make a living, they just won't get any of my money for their uninspired drivel.

As I grew a bit older I remember my parents had the Tea for the Tillerman album by Cat Stevens. My father also had the 8-track tape and we'd listen to that driving around. That is a truly remarkable album - I listen to it to this day. Great lyrics and great arrangements. Again, a truly open and honest sounding record. Man, sometimes I miss the days before computers.

I remember hearing Terry Jacks' classic "Seasons in the Sun" sometime around then as well. This song really struck a chord with me for some reason. I suppose the production is dated and cheesy by modern standards but the lyrics and melody are really good. For some reason we couldn't find the record anywhere. I suppose I "discovered" it past it's prime :) I remember my mom and I ended up finding it on some sort of "superstar hits" LP when we were in Germany for vacation one summer. I remember the rest of that LP being pretty lame.

At some point during elementary school I remember my mom teaching me how to play the recorder a little bit. I still remember the notes on the sheet music were color coded and REALLY BIG. At some point around the 2nd or 3rd grade (I think), I remember taking some piano lessons. I didn't like it. Not at all. Probably mostly because my piano teacher had old lady breath. Yucko. Plus, I had already discovered there was more to music than stuff like Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Stay tuned for the hottest band in the world...

I am in limbo

I took this enlightenment test. http://www.transtopia.org/quiz.html

Here are my results. Kinda funny.

MEMETIC SHOCK LEVEL 02 (0-4): above-average. A mixed bag of genuine wisdom and deeply ingrained taboos & irrational hangups. The domain of either conservative or politically correct (armchair) philosophers and people who can't make up their frickin' minds (oh, and let's not forget the puerile LAMERS who hit 'score it' without changing/reading anything; you know who you are...). Limbo.

Floyd Rose Arrow

Man, I've been eyeballing these guitars since I first saw the prototype that JT pulled out at the Floyd Rose facility in Redmond, WA. They came out at last summer's NAMM show. I got to play a yellow one and a black one. Amazing guitars. The problem is that nobody around here sells them. At the winter NAMM last week I played one made of korina. It was amazing. I called up Brian at Chuck Levin's and they're getting a korina one in. Very good price too. I think I need to call Brian back up today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Musical Journey Part 1

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Probably because I spent so much time by myself on the airplane and in hotels and stuff.

All of my memories growing up include music in one way or another. My parents both played piano - mom plays the recorder and used to play the violin and a little guitar. Both of them really love music. My mom got me started early with the recorder and singing - neither of which I can do now. My folks had a good size record collection and music was a very regular thing in our house. All kinds of music too. They loved classical and opera the most but they played the Rolling Stones and other rock acts of the times, some dance stuff, and plenty of music that was popular when they were young. Fortunately for me, they were very open minded.

Both of my grandfathers were accomplished musicians. My mom's father was self taught on the piano and guitar. He was extremely gifted - he had a wonderful ear for music. My father's father was apparently very skilled as well. I never met him since he died 5 years before I was born but from what I've heard he had some chops.
My Aunt Julie plays guitar and this autoharp gizmo. My cousin Charlie plays guitar and mandolin.

Basically, I've always been around music, musicians, and have been fortunate to have family that was pretty supportive.

NAMM 2006

I went to winter NAMM this year which was very cool (unlike Nam which is hot).

Tuesday 1/17
I flew from Raleigh to LAX via Atlanta. The Atlanta airport kinda sucks but they had a Popeye's chicken place so I got to have dirty rice so that was cool.

When I arrived in LA, I was greeted by fellow JCF member Ron (RacerX) at baggage claim. Once in my rental car we thought about going to the Randy Rhoads exhibit but Ron didn't know if it was still open and calling the music department at the school just got me a "Randy who?" type of response.

So we went to Hollywood. To become stars. Heh. Not. We hit Sunset Boulevard to check out the music stores since it didn't make any sense to try and drive to Anaheim at 4pm on a weekday.

Guitar Center was suprisingly exactly the same as every other freakin' Guitar Center anywhere. The manager there was a bud of mine from back in Seattle - it was cool to run into him.

Then it was over to the Mesa Boogie store. Yep, they had a lot of Boogies alright.

Next, it was the Carvin store. I was pretty stoked to go there because I've wanted to check out the Allan Holdsworth model for a long time and they had a couple. That guitar played fantastic. It did have too many damn knobs and switches. I wasn't too thrilled with the tone though - I was playing it through the new Carvin V3 - we'll come back to this issue. All in all, a very cool store and lots of nice gear.

Then we went to Sam Ash. Man, I hate Sam Ash stores. At first this one looked like all the rest. Racks of crappy Carlo Robelli and Brownsville guitars and those dorky Guitar Research amps. Once we weeded through that sea 'o crap, we found ourselves surrounded by some of the coolest used guitars I'd seen in a store in years (before Ebay). They had unique Les Pauls, JEMs, PRSs, etc. Very cool stuff. It was still a Sam Ash though so it was very overpriced cool stuff.

Time to eat. There was a Mexican place right next to the Carvin store. Much good food was had.

We then headed down to Anaheim. I dropped my stuff off at the crappy Econo Lodge and we drove around a bit before going over to Ron's. Once we got to Ron's place he opens up the front door and cranks up his Boss Cube amp and the Marshall. Heh. I then proceeded to play all of his guitars and we jammed for quite a while - like until 1am or so. His neighbors must love him.

Wednesday 1/18
I slept in. I wish. I woke up at 6am. That sucked. So I read. I love to read and really took advantage of the trip to read quite a bit.

I cruised around Anaheim a bit and then up to Brea to check out a cool music store I'd been to a few years before called Rockit music. They had some cool stuff - I was really digging this old Fender Twin Reverb until it farted out on me. Oh well. There was a Guitar Center a mile away so I figured what the heck. Man, that GC sucked. Hard. I did find a cool healthy fresh-Mex place for lunch. Mmmm...

Then it was off to Downtown Disney. My wife and kids really like the Disney pins so I went to the pin trading store and scored some cool stuff for everyone. I went over to the House of Blues and picked up a couple pins myself - a flying V and a guitar pick. I noticed that poser from American Idol last season Constantine was playing there that night (note to self: don't go to HoB tonight).

Ron's PC has been out of commission for about a year so he brought it over to my hotel for me to take a look at. Fired it up. Beep. Beep. Beep. Pause. Beep. Beep. Beep. Pause. Beep. Beep. Beep. Pause. You get the idea. Not good. Well I did a quick Google search on my cool Sprint 6700 phone and found out that this beep sequence meant bad memory. That's easy. Ron was watching that show Lost. I don't get that show at all so I mocked it. With the PC diagnosed and Lost behind us, we cruised out for some grub. Of course it was late so nothing was open except this cool Mexican place. Yep, three meals in a row :)

Thursday 1/19
Ron was supposed to come by and pick me up to go to NAMM around 9am. At 9:30 I called and woke his sorry ass up. Needless to say, I drove in myself.

The show was cool. Todd (Tekky) and his wife Kristy (MrsTekky) met me at the Dean booth while I was snapping pics of all the badass Dimebag tribute guitars. I then went up to the Fender booth. Much cool stuff. The NAMM Jacksons and Charvels were cool of course. I got to meet Matt of Matt's Music (who got me my NAMM pass - thanks Matt). I spoke briefly with Mike Shannon and John from Jackson. Cool folks all around. The Jeff Beck Esquire was killer. Very killer.

I ran back into Todd, Kristy and Brad Kelly (XXX) a bit later. Brad was apparently visiting folks he knew at the various booths and giving them DVDs of some sort (draw your own conclusions).

From there it was over to the PRS booth where I saw Johnny Hiland demoing his new signature model PRS. Holy crap! That guy was smokin' in person. I've got his CD which is a bit weak in the songwriting department but that dude can play! I got a signed picture of him too - pretty nice.

I spent a bunch of time at the Floyd Rose booth. I love their Speedloader guitars. I hung out with JT a good bit who is Floyd's main designer/builder and installed a Speedloader in my JEM a year or two ago. The black korina V's they had were stellar. Light as a feather, played amazing, looked amazing, and sounded fantastic. I think we know where this is headed.

Then I met up with Chris (Blindmuddy) and we hung out for the rest of the afternoon. We checked out some random stuff all over the show - fun stuff - BC Rich, Warrior, etc. Chris is a badass guitar player. Seriously. He was eyeballing the Carvin stuff pretty seriously and we decided we'd hit the Santa Ana Carvin store Friday morning.

We met Todd, Kristy, Brad, and Ian (YouThinkYourFish) at the Outback for dinner. Good food, good company, good times. From there, they went to the Hilton and Chris and I tried to get into the House of Blues because Johnny Hiland was playing but it was private party so we hit the Hilton and hung out for a bit.

Friday 1/20
Chris and I hit the Carvin store bright and early. He was looking at the 7-strings and I was looking at the Holdsworth again. This time I plugged the Holdsworth into a Legacy amp and it sounded way better than when I plugged it into the V3. This one had less switches too - just a couple coil taps. It sounded fantastic. Some other dude walks in and starts playing through a V3 stack. That's when I understood what the tone problems were when I was up at the Hollywood store. Put me down as one that is not impressed with the V3 amp. Chris wailed away on a pretty sweet 7-string. Did I mention he could really play? Ultimately, we both walked out empty handed but we both ended up buying Carvin guitars later because of this experience. We grabbed lunch at El Pollo Loco. More good Mexican style food. Good stuff.

We met a couple JCF folks at noon at the Jackson area for a photo. Rudy (RudyRocker), Ron, Chris, Todd, Kristy, and myself. I took a bunch of pics of the guitars and we hung out with Rudy and his buddy Fred - very cool people. It was a pleasure. They informed us that PRS was having a show that night featuring Al DiMeola and Johnny Hiland. So Chris and I went off to seek passes. On the way out we met JR (JRE) and Pebber (never caught his real name), they already had passes apparently.

So the folks at the PRS booth kind of blew us off. Well, not kind of. They did blow us off. But, we got to see Johnny play a bit and DiMeola was there checking out guitars.

We cruised around the show a bit. Naturally, we spent a bunch of time at the Carvin booth. The 7-string Chris wanted that they had was spoken for by an endorsee. I played a Holdsworth again. Surprised?

Kahler was there - I was glad to see that. I like Kahlers.

Roland had a ridiculously large arena to display their wares (booth doesn't describe the setup they had).

We looked at the Warrior guitars much closer - I was pretty surprised to see some very lame and very noticeable flaws in both their woodwork and finishes. I know I'd be pissed if I paid the bucks for one of their guitars and got something that looked like what we saw.

Then we met up with Rudy and Fred to go to the PRS show. One problem. We couldn't find Chris's car. Imagine trying to find "the white SUV" in a Disney parking lot.

The PRS show was a blast. We saw Matt but didn't see JRE and Pebber. We saw Al DiMeola, Johnny Hiland, Pat Travers, Orianthi, Dee Snider's Van Helsing's Curse, Michael Bolton, Joe Lynn Turner, Paul Reed Smith's band, some dude I'd never heard of and can't remember his name, and the Hollywood All-stars.

Al and Johnny were just smokin'. Blazing, tasteful, and entertaining. The dude whose name I can't remember had lame songs and sang bad but was a tasty guitar player. Paul Reed Smith has a great band and he makes great guitars but he was not a very inspiring guitarist. Orianthi was very good - she's 21 and played some blazing pentatonic riffs. The Dee Snider thing was a joke. It was soooo bad. Oh well. Pat Travers kicked much ass. Much ass. Fred went nuts when Travers played. Then Michael Bolton came out. Folks, say what you want about him but the man can freakin' sing. He did a soulful R&B number and just nailed it. He let the musicians take extended solos - very gracious performer. Then he strapped on a guitar. Then Paul Reed Smith came out. Ruh-roh. They did one of those popular boring blues classics (the name escapes me). They drug it out too much. Michael was out of his league as a guitar player that night but he still kicked Paul Reed Smith's butt. Joe Lynn Turner came out. Man. That was not good. Finally, the Hollywood All-Stars came out. Man. That was not as good as Joe Lynn Turner. Still, it was a fantastic show - a good time was had by all.

Saturday 1/21
I went home. Apparently Chris went to the Hollywood Carvin store and bought a 7-string there. Coolness!

Monday 1/22
I know NAMM is over but I figured I ought close the story and say that I ordered a custom Carvin Holdsworth. It should be here in 5-6 weeks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Avoid Ebay member clarkbears

His name is Matthew Gibney and he is located in Massachusets. Here's the details:

  • He bought a guitar from me on Ebay - it ended on December 4th
  • I received payment via Paypal on the evening of the 5th
  • It shipped on the 9th via FedEx Ground with signature required
  • It arrived on the 16th - according to fedex.com it was signed for by MGIBNEY
  • On the 19th, I sent the buyer a message asking if everything was cool
  • No response
  • So yesterday January 9th I get a message from Paypal that this guy has filed a dispute claiming he did not receive the item.
  • I sent him a message via Ebay asking WTF? No response.
  • I tried calling him and he did not answer or return the call.
  • I gave Paypal the tracking # yesterday when I got home.
  • Today I got a message saying the buyers request had been reversed.

So it worked out fine for me but still a PITA and pure crap that this guy pulled.

To top it all off, some dude still hadn't paid me after a month with all sorts of lame excuses and yesterday (of all days) he sends payment to me via Paypal from an account with an unconfirmed shipping address. *Plus* he asks me to ship it somewhere other than that unconfirmed address. I think those of you following along at home can guess what I did with that payment.

Here a fucktard, there a fucktard, everywhere a fucktard, fuck-tard-fuck-tard-fart

New Variax firmware!

Line 6 just released an update for the Variax that supposedly improves the 12-string and alternate tuning issues. This could be cool! I'll have to try this out ASAP!