Thursday, October 22, 2009

Practicing Tools - How to practice without Police intervention!

Practice is essential to gaining confidence and ultimately playing well. I've heard of stories about John Coltrane where neighbors would hear Coltrane and his band playing Favorite things

when they departed for school and upon return the same song was being played by the band.

Playing loud is a lot of fun and an experience unlike playing at bedroom sound levels but doing so can annoy, disturb and provoke already unstable others. After my own "run in's" with the law and threats of confiscation I found a few tools to help me out. The cool thing about these tools is that I can play at all hours and not tick anyone off regarding the noise. However, there are a few required tools.
Tools Required for quiet practice:
  1. Electric guitar - Acoustic will emit too much sound
  2. Guitar cords - Usually need at least two short cords
  3. Headphones - Try them on and get a comfortable unit for prolonged use
  4. Electricity or batteries - Sign of the times!!
  5. Computer or amp simulator - We'll discuss this further...
I use my computer along with CD's or mp3's. The sound output of my CPU is connected to an old Korg Pandora's box unit. I bought mine so I could use it on the road but I often use it at home late at night. These units are not cheap and it's a third party accoutrement to the CPU that consumes electricity whereas if you have the jingo ($$) to buy software and a laptop the need for two guitar cords is eliminated and the the entire system is in your laptop. There are a lot of products on the market that are software based. Let's talk more about those...

There is software that you can install that will allow you to play along with your favorite mp3's and cd's. Some of these allow you to actually eliminate the original guitar lead track and I find this useful as a learning tool. VOX jambox is one such tool. Upon testing it I found that there was still a bit of a ghost track of the original lead in the background. Otherwise this is a cool product. Other units like the Peavy Revalve unit is fairly robust and for some, might even replace effect pedals thus allowing you to mount a laptop with the a laptop loaded with a product like REVALVE and trigger the effects via the laptop. I've seen laptops mounted to Furman power boards. The software has many AMP simulators and for the novice tone chaser this is a great learning tool.

Currently there is a free Amplifier Simulator available at this site. The FREE MUSIC SOFTWARE SITE is very cool for students and musicians who are curious about the latest in simulation software.

REMEMBER - PROLONGED EXPOSURE TO EXCESSIVE LOUD NOISE, MUSIC, AD NAUSEA WILL PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR HEARING!! I am serious as a heart attack about this disclaimer. I've always tried to limit my exposure by using methods like ear plugs and distance but I had my own hearing tested and was surprised at the loss in frequency recognition. As a added warning, age will cause decreased frequency recognition, therefore it is better to be safe than sorry and therefore utilize safe practice technique by using normal volumes while limited exposure to the Rock and Roll your head off volumes!

Stay home and practice or stay home!

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