Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Michael Schenker Fest in San Jose City National Civic

Michael Schenker was in San Jose, California on 03/24/18. I was there and enjoyed the show it was a great experience! I've seen UFO, Scorpions, and MSG but this show topped them all. The crowd was receptive but I don't think they were ready for a show that was more like a three band show instead of just one. The songs kept coming and didn't stop until 30 songs rocked the crowd into submission.

The band is good and the set was tight. We were treated to all of Michael's popular tunes and some new tunes as well. The close knit band had 4 singers: Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White and my personal favorite was Bonnet. Picking a favorite isn't easy but Bonnet's vocals are were pitch perfect and fierce and forceful in their delivery. But don't get me wrong, all of the singers were superb tonight. Steve Mann on guitar and keyboards is super talented and often fooled the big screen camera person who trained the lens on Michael when it was indeed Steve Mann playing the smoldering riffs. Chris Glen on bass held down the fort along with Ted McKenna on drums and both exhibited the brilliance that is raw talent and rendered an exuberant performance.

Michael was on fire and after a while I felt badly for his guitars because they were definately under an Assault Attack. My fretting hand was feeling an empathetic pain just watching Michael's left hand adeptly running up and down the guitar neck while simultaneously his right hand plucked the strings with the virtuosity that makes it all look so easy - But it's not! I am certain Michael wears guitars down due to sheer playing attrition. Honestly, I thought this date was one of the first of the tour and that accounted for the stamina and accuracy of the way each song was played but in reality this tour is half over.

If I was forced to pick a favorite song played at this show it would probably be the Desert Song. However, just about every song that was played was second. Rock bottom has been one of my favorite songs ever and Michael and Co. decimated the crowd in San Jose with a never ending version of the song that had a solo that would put any wannabe Schenker guitarist into a frenzy.

I could go on but who cares what I have to say? Go for yourself and see for yourself. Michael rocks hard and deserves every bit of the title Guitar God.

Lastly, Michael's newest album is out - Link>> - Resurrection 

Michael Schenker Setlist:

City National Civic, San Jose, CA, USA
  1. Into the Arena (Michael Schenker Group song)
  2. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Michael Schenker Group song)
  3. Cry for the Nations (Michael Schenker Group song)
  4. Attack of the Mad Axeman (Michael Schenker Group song)
  5. Messin' Around (Michael Schenker Fest song)
  6. Armed and Ready (Michael Schenker Group song)
  7. Coast to Coast (Scorpions song)
  8. Desert Song (Michael Schenker Group song)
  9. Dancer (Michael Schenker Group song)
  10. Night Moods (Michael Schenker Fest song)
  11. Searching for a Reason (Michael Schenker Group song)
  12. Assault Attack (Michael Schenker Group song)
  13. Captain Nemo (Michael Schenker Group song)
  14. Bad Boys (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
  15. Save Yourself (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
  16. Anytime (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
  17. Heart and Soul (Michael Schenker Fest song)
  18. Love Is Not a Game (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
  19. Searching for Freedom (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock cover)
  20. Live and Let Live (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock cover)
  21. Vigilante Man (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock cover)
  22. Lord of the Lost and Lonely (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock cover)
  23. Take Me to the Church (Michael Schenker Fest song)
  24. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock cover)
  25. Warrior (Michael Schenker Fest song)
  26. Rock Bottom (UFO song)
  1. Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
  2. Shoot Shoot (UFO song)
  3. Natural Thing (UFO song)
  4. Lights Out (UFO song)

Video link David Reed's Youtube video link for the SJ Show

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gibson guitar specifications and price

My Gibson 2016 R8

A few years back I posted a short article about the various incantations of Gibson Guitar specifications. We had the Min-ETune and later the G-force technology which are marketed as improvements for the guitarists. I personally like innovation so I was hopeful that there would be an added value or improved experience with these new additions. Unfortunately, the improvements didn't really pan out. I'll list the improvements: automatic tuning to standard and other tuning available on the fly at the push of a button, Zero nut with height adjustment capability, Les Paul Standards had frets extended to the edge of the fret board, new wiring system and pots and finally price. It now appears that even Gibson saw the light and are reverting some of the changes they made in the past few years. But why?

Price isn't a simple topic to discuss because there are many factors regarding the increases. I want Gibson factory people to earn a living wage or better and if that means I need to pony up then I can live with that BUT there are too many stories about how Gibson people are treated and I don't have facts so I'll end with the hope that some of the price increase went towards supporting labor. Quality at Gibson in my opinion has been lackluster and inconsistent. I own 4 Gibsons of various age with the oldest being 40 years old. All of my instruments are cherry picked and really nice instruments that anyone would be proud to own. My point is that you need to shop smart when buying a Gibson, more so than other brands and that is sad considering that Gibson is one of the oldest iconic brand names in the United States. Nevertheless, all brands have feet of clay and without careful consideration of design properties, functional requirements, ergonomics, and visual appeal, the feet crumble quickly. Remember IBM, Harley Davidson, Yahoo, Intel...? Honestly, I don't know how Gibson has managed to stay alive.

What has Gibson done wrong? That is a tough question and I think it might be easier to say what they have done right. Let's tackle what I believe are some errors that can be corrected. Go back to the original headstock insignia. This revision looks cheap and crappy.

What value did that add? None. Go back to this.
Oh and then there is the automatically tuning guitar. I like the concept; I would really like an automatically tuned car that requires zero labor or cost. Alas, the latter isn't happening in my life and the former shouldn't have happened. The Min-ETune tuner and G-Force made me money. So I shouldn't complain but the fact remains that many people bought new Gibson guitars and had the G-force removed and they installed standard tuners. Why? I heard many reasons; the electronic tuner failed and it wasn't worth it to replace it, Pro's didn't want to even chance it failing, rechargeable battery died and the replacement was not readily available.......... The product was not well supported. Adding inexpensive consumer electronics to essentially a wheel doesn't make a better wheel. Gibson would have been better off keeping it simple and switching from Kluson to Grover. Now drop that line and leave all of those who love the auto tuning machine without any recourse.

The Zero fret. This revision I didn't mind. It made set-up easy and it looked okay. But, honestly, the bone or tusq nut wasn't broken so why fix it? My guess is that they were trying to save time and money during final set-up. I don't think it worked. Brass zero nuts are probably far more expensive than tusq or bone and ultimately installation wasn't quicker. Opp's!

What did I love? The new Standard models with the frets running to the edge of the fret board while knocking off the nibs. The NIBS - I hate the nibs!!! I also love the Plek as long as the frets were put in well during the primary build. Plek doesn't make up for poor workmanship. Meaning; if the frets aren't seated well during installation then the fret will need to be reseated and if that happens post Plek then the fret will be too low. Blah! No bueno! Obviously the Plek machine purchase pays for itself.

Let us hope that Gibson USA pulls it together in these challenging times. I appreciate their products but wish they learned more about their consumers which would give Gibson more insight allowing the company to drive into the future with desirable and robust products.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

David Bowie

I am paraphrasing a quote I saw somewhere:

"If you're ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."

I think that sums it up.

I bought Darkstar days before Bowie passed. The album was rich and thought provoking. Then one night whilst listening to the radio, the disc jockey announced that David Bowie had passed. It was about 11:30 pm on a Sunday night in California. The moment of reason was emotional.

The Bowie catalog is immense. If you are new to Bowie, start with greatest hits and work your way out. His music is thoughtful, arranged very well, top notch musicians, his voice is dynamic and strong. Rock and roll at it's best.

Live your life to it's fullest, be kind and do your best.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dirty Guitars?

Do you play your guitar after: rebuilding a car engine, eating a plate of baby back ribs, just finished tarring a roof, cleaning out a restaurant grease pit? If so; your guitar might hate you! Some people just play when the mood strikes and that is fine but it might be nice if ya'll wash your hands before spending a few hours playing your instrument. Contrary to what some people believe, the grease, grit, grime actually doesn't do much good for any guitar but it might keep your friends away from it. Despite what you might think, a thick coat of buggers on the guitar neck doesn't facilitate speedy picking!

The binding on the neck has been clean - Look at the binding on the body! Yuck! Check the buggered up neck!!!

Do ya smoke when playing?  Smoking tobacco does wonders for the guitar finish and smell as well! Nothing like a guitar under your chin that smells like an ashtray that sat at dive Las Vegas bar for 50 years. No spittoon? Why not use the sound hole on any old acoustic guitar? Seriously now, do you really want your guitar to have emphysema?
Look here, hope this players teeth aren't this yellow! 

This yellow will wipe off with a paper towel and simple cleaner or Naphtha. 

The following is a perfect example of a grimy fingerboard
Prevent build up by cleaning the fretboard when changing strings

Maybe its a badge of honor or a way to prevent other people from using your buggered up guitar?

Clean fret boards play faster in my opinion

Dirt, sweat, dead skin, buggers, etc... Clean it or pay $$$$

I use formula 409 or Naphtha (use gloves with Naphtha or you will burn your hands) to clean off grime build up. Afterwards you can apply water or distilled water to a soft cotton cloth to wipe down the instrument. After the instrument has dried you can polish it with your favorite none silicone cleaner.

Most players like the vintage patina of an old instrument but allowing dirt build up is not good for anything. If you are sweaty Eddie, wipe your instrument down before you put it away cowboy. Take pride in your instrument or pay the price.

BB King passes away!

Did you hear the church bell tone?

If you heard the tone then you know that BB King has gone to his grave. The world is a better place because of BB King. Some say, "The thrill is gone," but doubt BB King would have wanted The Blues to stop because he died. The torch has been passed.

BB King left some might big shoes to fill and whoever fills those shoes better let the good times roll!

We will miss you BB!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Walter Trout is back!

Walter Trout is recuperating well and and getting ready to roll.

Walter has a handful of shows coming up so be sure to catch him if he is near you!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Guitar Nuts - measurement confusion?

I have been asked where are the reference points for the guitar nut. Nut length is based on the guitar neck width. Hopefully, the following information can help eliminate some confusion about the nut length.

I have found that most novice players do not consider nut length measurement to be important while more advanced players have a specific preference which is based on their preference for finger picking or plectrum style picking. The player's picking style is the dominant factor in nut length choice.

Common neck width are as follows:
2.0" (51 mm) - Classical or nylon string guitars.
1 7/8" (48 mm) - Some steel string, finger style guitars.
1 13/16" (45 mm) - Steel string guitars.
1 3/4" (44 mm) - Most common length/width.
1 11/16" (43 mm) - Many electric guitars use this length/width.
1 5/8 (41 mm) - Smaller electric guitar similar to Fender® Duo-Sonic®.

This image will give you a good idea for comparison.

One important note about measurement is the fact the US standard measurement is used. I prefer the metric system but it seems that the guitar world isn't about to change this anytime soon so I have listed 3 measurement reference in my details; inch/decimals, inch (fractions), and metric equivalence. Save your time and don't send me mail telling me that the US Standard measurement system sucks. I AGREE!

This is a Telecaster nut with a 9.5 ยบ radius
According to the calipers: this neck is 1.6205" or 41.16mm in length
(NOTE: This is not a Fender Telecaster - It's a BILL NASH TELECASTER)

Usually Telecaster nut length is 1 11/16 inch or 43.0mm in length. Nevertheless, the critical points for dimensions of nut length will be end to end of the current nut on the guitar or the width of the neck if there isn't a nut available to measure.

Below are random examples of guitar nuts being measured

This is a Taylor 514 with a length of 1.75" or 44.66mm - measured end to end.
This would round up to what is called a 1 3/4 nut

Below is a Fender Stratocaster 50th anniversary measured at 1.6915 " or 42.96mm.
This would round up to what is called a 1 11/16 nut.

Below is a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 nut measurement. 
This nut measured 1.6935" or 43.0 mm. This is also a 1 11/16 inch neck

If you need to replace your nut and you are buying one online; often you will be asked to provide the E to E measurement. Below is an example of a Taylor 514ce E to E (Center of the Low E to Center of the High C) measurement being recorded. 

String Spacing: I use a tool that I purchased from Stewart MacDonald to determine and replicate string spacing. Below are some images of the tool in use.

More of the same .....

The tool is about 12" or 304mm measured length

In summary, nut length is measured end to end of the nut. If you are making a nut from stock it is always better to start out with a little more than you need then file the blank down to match the neck width. Measure twice and cut once! For further information I recommend Frank Fords site Frets.com

Other valuable Links:
Frank Ford is one of the owners and Luthiers at Gryphon Stringed Instruments