Something Witty Goes Here!

Man, we gotta talk about this publication schedule. I’ve published something every single day – for a long time. (With the exception of when someone has done it for me.)

This is horrible! Whoever came up with this idea needs to be fired.

Wait, that was me… Well, I’m firing myself.

Have some videos – they’re Les Paul and they are being posted ’cause I just learned some neat information about Steve Miller and Les Paul. Les is dead now, but they used to be friends and it’d appear that Les was Steve’s godfather.

Things I learned…

Anyhow, have some videos:

I found this again! I knew this existed, but had been unable to find this to post to one of the earlier articles, ’cause I smoke pot presumably. Sure enough, it has Steve Miller in it.

I hadn’t connected the two previously. I’d write about it but that whole concentration thing isn’t doing well. But, if you play guitar, maybe listen to the runs that Steve does and then think carefully about what Les played in his traditional style. It’s food for thought.

That’s really all you’re getting. They’re both delightful videos and I’m going to guess that many/most won’t have seen either of them.

In the interest of pretending I care enough to make this longer, I’ll add that the important part is (to me) the interaction between the musicians. I don’t always listen to the music, I look and listen for things unlike what most probably do.

It’s actually a bit like work. It’s an analytical thing and I’m seldom listening purely for enjoyment. I’m not even really able to passively listen to much music anymore. People are sometimes surprised by exactly how little music I actually listen to.

I’d write more but I’m gonna blame concentration and lethargy. The truth is somewhere around there, but part of it is just wanting a nice easy day today. I ain’t even going to proofread this! Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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Closed for the Holiday

Today is the Day of First Appreciable Snow Event at Ol’ Buddha’s.

Drinking cocoa. Listening to music. Wearing fuzzy slippers. Got a fire going. Sitting in living room with a laptop and looking out the window. The wind is excessive, but the advisory expires in a few more minutes (though they’re probably lying).

Yup… Winds gusting upwards of 45 and 50 mph. It’s as awesome as you might imagine, but not enough snow to call it a real storm. That’s okay, it’ll do. It’s pretty good, but not spectacular.

Anyhow, not writing a damned thing today. Closed for the holidays. Until next time…

Shut up and make me a snowman!

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Ol’ Buddha Goes on a Quest…

So…

I have found a pipe organ in a secular facility. Today, my quest begins. Without further introduction:

Title:

They tell me that I’m sane. You’ll see why that’s important.

Message Body:

This is going to be long. This is going to be very long. I’m also serious. I’m very serious. This is a serious matter!

You have been warned.

It should also be known that I’m not even a little sorry for what I’m about to do.

For reasons that are too long to get into, I sent a hoard of people on a quest to find me a pipe organ, preferably in a secular facility. Your name came back on the list.

I should probably start at the beginning.

Because I will be publishing this, I will simply say that my name is David G. I’m an accomplished guitarist, old and retired, and have a dream. (I also have money, if that helps.)

Seriously, I’m pretty good. I’m not very famous for playing guitar, but I have performed for many, many people – mostly drunk people. Pretty sweet, huh?

Except, I play guitar like this:
https://instaud.io/2ew4

Told ya, I ain’t even a little kidding. I can play a guitar.

Alas, most of my career has been me playing music such as this:
https://instaud.io/26oi

See? Wasn’t kidding. I can play the snot out of a guitar. I’ve been at it for almost 5 decades.

Let’s see…

Sadly, musicians make very little money – as a general rule. So, my actual real career was that of a mathematician but I’ve given up my heathen ways and mostly concentrate on music, now that I’m retired.

I think those all go in the plus column!

I have played a piano. I have taken formal piano lessons. I have even played *at* an organ in a church, multiple times. (I can’t believe they let me do such things! I’ve even been asked to ring the bell. Pretty awesome, huh?)

I’m the kinda guy who can’t walk past a music store without window shopping. I can’t see an instrument and not want to touch it. Some fuzzy memories tell me that I’m probably kicked out of at least two museums for just such a thing!

So, now that you know a little about me… Let’s move on!

I have zero idea how to play a pipe organ. None.

Let’s just get that little detail right out of the way.

Frankly, I hardly think that should matter!

See, I’m 99.9% confident (trust me, I’m a mathematician) that being allowed to play a pipe organ is pretty much the best day ever.

That’s right. I’m on to your little secret. I know darned well that playing a pipe organ has to be pretty much the most awesome thing on the planet. You’re not fooling me any.

I want in.

Not for long, but I’d like a four hour block of time and probably should have someone there to tell me what not to do.

I will give you money. I will even pay someone to stand there and not yell at me too much while I struggle to play the merry tune of my people.

Frankly, the sheer volume of air that you folks move is inspiring. I have actually met people who don’t understand when I say, “Man, I want to play a pipe organ.” They’re just not good people. No, they are not good people.

I will not break your pipe organ and I will follow instructions. I will even wear my pants!

Umm… I might also have a small camera crew and I’ll ask them nicely to wear their pants.

Moving on…

No, I don’t have anything specific to play. Like I said, I don’t even know how to play a pipe organ. Not a clue, but it has stops, pedals, and a keyboard. I know enough music theory and I’ve played a whole variety of instruments.

Heck, I’ve played a grand harp before! That’s right, it was even a pedal harp. (It lets you cheat and once you know where middle C is, you can play anything!)

I know some music theory… Yeah… I ain’t scared of your pipe organ – but I will respect it.

I’d absolutely love to come play your pipe organ. I’m telling you, it’ll be a good time. I’d love it if you even had an audience there. That’d sweeten the deal! (We may need to chain them in, but once again I remind you that I’m not scared.)

I guess my ultimate question is, can I play your pipe organ? I promise to behave.

If the answer is no, my next question is can I bribe you and play your pipe organ? I have a few bucks.

If it’s still no, my next question is if it will help if I pretend I have cancer and that I’m from the Make-A-Wish Foundation? (Trust me, I can come up with these all day long.)

I have the entire month of January off and I’m not actually sure what I’m going to do with it. I’m pretty sure playing a pipe organ should be on the list of things to do! Anyone who doesn’t have “play a pipe organ” on their list of things to do is just broken inside.

Thank you in advance! If you need more examples of my playing merry tunes, you go ahead and ask! I’ll send ’em along! Somewhere around here, I have me playing every instrument for Rush’s XYZ, but I didn’t think you’d necessarily appreciate that.

I’m on a mission. You’ll be jealous. You’ll see.  I shall update you with any news!

Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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Why do I play guitar? (And some shit I’m going to pretend you asked.)

I have shit for energy. I feel like ass. My throat is pretty much on fire still, though that is marginally better.

Yesterday, Nadeshda was kind enough to write us a wonderful article about Mongolian throat singing. Today, I was not so lucky. Today, I must pound the keyboard, or my streak ends.

It’s okay. I can cheat.

I’m pretty sure I can answer these questions and the results will be different every time. I’m pretty sure that I don’t always have the same answer. I’m pretty sure it’s too generic a question, but it’s one that I get with some regularity. So, I’m going to answer it and answer some other questions.

Why do you play guitar?

Well, this morning I played it because I need to practice and I had the time. I needed to practice because I must keep my skills at their peak, so that I can fill my obligations to my bandmates and the audience.

Why did you learn to play guitar?

I’m still learning. I initially picked up the guitar because I thought it was cool and figured it’d be easy enough to learn. It was neither, really. Sadly, beginning guitarists don’t get laid often and it’s not easy to learn. Worse, my earliest tutelage was quite specifically classical guitar – which is both complicated and anti-sex-appealing. Learning to play ate up a lot of my youthful fun and sex time.

Why did you stick with it?

I liked the challenge and I really enjoy the versatility of the instrument. The wide variety of tones that can be produced, even from an acoustic guitar, are fantastically interesting. I’m nearing the five decade mark and I’m still learning. I’m still improving. I still don’t see myself as a master.

Will you ever stop performing?

Damned right, I will. For a while, I was pretty much retired and I’d just sit a few sets with friends, or do some gigging with them. I’d go jam with other musicians. I enjoyed that and I’m getting old enough to see that I’ll eventually be slowing down and unable to give a satisfactory performance due to physical limitations caused by age. I will stop before then.

Will you ever stop privately playing?

No, probably not. I expect the quality to deteriorate, but I’m sort of at a peak right now. I’ve had the past decade to really, really put in a lot of hours. I’m actually probably at about the peak of my ability. I might, if I stretch it, be able to pull it off for another decade. Dexterity will go down as will my speed. I can increase efficiency of movement, but that only accounts for so much.

What is your favorite color?

Green. Specifically forest green. There will be a quiz.

Do you actually like playing guitar?

Not always. Nope. Sometimes, it’s a pain in the ass and I’d really like to do something else. However, it’s not going to learn to play itself and I’m kind of obsessed with it. I enjoy the challenges it offers and I like the feelings of accomplishment that it gives me. The thought isn’t my own, but I’ll be forever chasing sound.

Tell me more about chasing sound?

No. That’s more work than I’m putting into this article.

Do you take anything serious?

Yup.

Are you going to take this article serious?

Nope.

Are you just fucking with me?

Nope. In fact, I’m done. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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Seeing as I’ve got a doctor’s note…

I fucking quit.

Sorta…

It has been decided. I will not be doing any vocals on Saturday. Which is nice. If I play my cards right, I might never go back to doing them!

I know damned well the rest of ’em can sing well enough. I know, ’cause I thought about that ahead and time and made sure they sang when I auditioned them.

This mono stuff just keeps getting better and better!

Let’s see… So far, I’ve been told to:

Take drugs.
Get lots of rest.
Drink fluids.

Well, that first one kinda goes without saying. Getting rest means I get to lay around all day and do nothing. Drink fluids? Holy balls! There’s gonna be a shortage of cheap whiskey around here!

Sadly, I might only be able to milk this for just a couple of weeks. They don’t actually have a specific date for me that says, “You’ll be better on the 17th.” It could last for months!

Still no idea how the hell I went this long without getting immunity to mono. On the list of things I’ve put in my mouth, something covered in a fairly common virus seems like something I’d do. I’ve put stuff in my mouth that you absolutely don’t want to hear about.

I have decided to just apply my usual perspective to it.

It’s pretty much an excuse to lay around the shanty and put a good buzz on!

Let me show you how I’m spending my time… You’ll see…

Some unsuspecting poor soul fell into my (clever, I assume) trap. I’m pretty sure I trapped ’em, ’cause there’s no way the indifferent universe would ever give me such pleasures.

Which is to say, someone emailed me – with the wrong address! I don’t know who they are or who they think I am, but I’m happy they emailed me! Oh, boy… At least one of us is gonna be happy ’cause of this.

This is what his email said.

Hello,i will like to know if you do tree trimming service for home and can i know if you are the owner kindly get back to me Asap

I’m not editing a damned thing.

Wait… Read that again. Now read it through my eyes!

Damned right, I will come trim some fucking trees! HOLY BALLS! What kind of lunatic is going to let me trim trees? Even better, who’s gonna let me do it near a house!

The game was afoot! I planned my next moves with great care. I was going to get the address, pictures, and maybe even get paid to do it! Shit, that’s the kinda stuff I’ll do for free, but not one person ever asks me to.

Instead, I decided to play nice. That’s right… I was nice about it.

This was my response:

As tempting as it is to write back to you and say, “Oh, yes! Yes, I do trim trees! I even gotta chainsaw! Give to me the address and I’ll chop down everything you want!” I’m afraid that I’m absolutely not qualified to receive such an award.

Whilst I do have a chainsaw, you probably don’t want me trimming your trees. I’d love to. You don’t even want to know how much I’d love to.

See, you have the wrong email address. Even worse, out of all the many billions of wrong email addresses that exist, you got mine.

I am way out in a little place called Maine, USA. I am also retired. And, I smoke a whole lot of pot. Tons of it.

I’d absolutely love to trim some trees! However, you really, really don’t want to let me do that. ‘Snot the kinda thing insurance is gonna cover. Hells yeah, I’ll trim some trees. Can we rent one of those cherry picker thingies? This is gonna be awesome!

If you change your mind and REALLY want me to come cut some trees for you, do get back to me! Oh, yes! I even own a tractor! We can rent some midgets and turn it into an event that makes the newspaper! If these trees are awesome enough, I might even pay for it myself!

Please do respond with pictures of the trees and your collection of midgets. I will respond with my pictures of kevlar chaps and chainsaw.

No kinky stuff!

Sincerely,
David

I was pretty gentle.

You know, if WordPress didn’t suck balls so much on a tablet, I’d probably write more. However, it sucks balls and using a laptop in a prone position also sucks balls.

But it does suck balls and I have a doctor’s note that says I’m supposed to get high and be lazy.

Oh, I forgot to mention!

They tried to fool me by saying (curiously in small print) that my spleen could explode. I looked. That’s a very, very low probability event. It also says that it is more likely if I roughhouse.

“I had sex so hard my spleen exploded.”

Alas, the universe hasn’t gifted me with such a grand gift. My spleen is not actually going to explode. That’s a line that I’ll never be able to use, which is unfortunate.

Seriously, you’re sitting at the bar and another old man comes up to you. You sit and talk about the things you’ve done in your life. He mentions that he once had sex with two women – and they even touched each other.

“Man, that’s nothing. I had sex so hard my spleen exploded.”

You win that round.

The universe is uncaring and I’m really, really unlikely to get to say such a thing. I’m hopeful! (The missus refuses to touch me, even with a stick and certainly not a whip.)

So, I’m not gonna die or anything. I should probably not be leaping off stacks and jumping up and down, but I’m 60… ‘Snot like I actually do that anymore. I do have to play. That position needs to be filled.

‘Snot a problem. I’ve got opiates. Give me any shit and I’ve already got a chair on the stage. I will sit in it the whole night and crack bad jokes. I know know to adjust mic stands. Ain’t nobody turning my mic off.

Alright, enough of this silliness. I’m going back to my tablet. You know where to find me. I’ll poke a laptop here and there, but I gotta lay down and enjoy my delicious apple juice. Hmm… I wonder if I can milk this enough to just stay in the bed? I’m gonna work on that. Until next time…

You go right ahead and play us the merry tune of your people!

It gets even better…

I want you to  provide me with the total cost for the tree trimming of the house this is my address (redacted)
 kindly get back to me asap thanks
I responded:
Enclosed you will find a copy of my estimate.

Labor: $0.00
Fuel: $2,800
Midgets: $5245.98
Bucket Truck: $500
Bail money: $100,000
Space ship: $250,000,000
Broken yard sale yo-yo: $0.50
And 375,000 skee ball tickets.

Please remit payment as soon as possible and I look forward to chopping
down your forest.
I am not actually sure how that formatting happened.
It’s already pretty much the best day ever. Thank you, universe!
It continues:
what’s your total estimate
?
My response:
$250,108,546.48 + gratuity and extra for kinky stuff.

And don't forget the skee ball tickets. You can get some at Moose Alley,
in Rangeley - but I'm pretty sure those dirty rotten bastards cheat.

David The Tree Trimmer

It did that formatting again. I wish I could do that on purpose.

They haven’t emailed me back.

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My symptoms have been narrowed down to the plague…

I tried rest. I tried well-wishes, ’cause I got a lot of those. I tried wine, which was a remarkably good choice for a while. I have tried juice, tea, so many showers, and maybe even a few drugs not actually prescribed by a doctor.

Because there are questions about my bowels (not kidding), I shall inform you that they have returned to normal. I appear to have just a head cold and a cough, complicated with ague and general malaise.

After reading between the lines at Wikipedia and WebMD, I’ve diagnosed myself with the plague.

The good news is that, assuming I survive, I’ll become immune to this particular plague strain. If not, I hope it leaves gnarly bone scars and archeologists dig up my bones and vindicate my theory 1000 years from now!

So, you’re not getting anything special today. Nope… Ain’t happening.

I’ll ramble for a little while. I won’t actually be submitting this one, either. You can submit ’em anywhere you want, or not at all. I give no shits. I will not be obligating myself to respond today. Ain’t happening. I’ve got the plague!

I haven’t touched a guitar, not even to bring them in the house, since Friday. Strangely, my fingers don’t itch and I’m not pissy about it. I’ve played guitar while I was sick or injured. So, it’s a wee bit odd to not feel those itchy fingers yet.

I think I’m just going to offer you a dire warning – but it’s not a warning about the plague. It’s topical…

I’ve had a few comments and questions lately that have led to me trying to explain to them that I have, in fact, lost some of the joy that I used to get when I listen to music.

Much of my music listening consists of critical evaluation of the piece. Much of my listening is with a purpose, such as to gain increased familiarity with the piece. Some of it is evaluation as a piece for replication. It’s not really fun. It’s the cost of entering the field.

It’s also kinda amazing to how many people link me to videos I already know. Yesterday, or the day before, someone linked me to a popular 50s song, as though it was a song I was unfamiliar with. It was one of the rare times I followed someone’s link! I berated them. The name would have been adequate.

So, I don’t always get the joy I used to get. I find that listening to music, most frequently if it’s new, is a chore. I often get people who ask what I think of a certain piece – which turns it into work.

I don’t mind, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not the joy that it used to be. It hasn’t been, for years.

Once upon a time, one of my favorite things to do was to get a brand new album and listen to it, end to end – and over and over. That’s pretty much torture today.

It gets worse, too! The people who live in my house ALL seem to get constant ear-worms. The missus will play a song – 100 times! She’s not doing it to learn it, she’s doing it to satisfy her ear-worm. I assume it can’t be helped and the worm must be sated, ’cause it just sorta happens to some people.

Let’s see… This is pretty short and I’ve finally gotten a call back and will be able to see a physician today. If you remember my Lessons for Performing Musicians, you’ll remember that it’s important to keep yourself healthy. The public is disease ridden – and they want to get close to you. You will get sick.

So, as this is far too short…

I bet not one person even offers to drive me to the doctor’s office. Instead, I bet they all want to come with me – and have me make a half-dozen stops along the way. They’re probably plague carriers.

Meh… I’m gonna stop at the chainsaw store. That’s right… Where I live, we have stores dedicated to stuff like chainsaws! That’s pretty much the best day ever, right there.

I can’t believe you’re still reading… Sheesh… You have no taste. None! You should actually be ashamed of yourself!

Anyhow, the next bit I was thinking about putting into words was a bit that comes from a conversation with a wonderful contributor.

No… You’re not normal…

Normal people don’t think that life would be fucking awesome if it were just like a musical.

Normal people do not, in  fact, randomly break out into song – as the moment strikes them, and often at inappropriate times.

Normal people don’t dedicate large portions of their lives to actually understanding music. They’re passive listeners – not active listeners.

Normal people only see music as a small part of their lives – even if they listen to music all the time.

Normal people don’t spend countless hours looking into the specifications of music-related gear.

Normal people don’t dedicate giant chunks of their time to learning to play an instrument with any degree of proficiency – if they do, they stop by the time they’re 20, as usually about the second year of college or life kills that for them.

Normal people don’t give up fun activities to get tones they’re not satisfied with from a musical instrument. They don’t put that work in – they’re sane!

You’re not fucking normal! None of you are.

No, there is no ‘everybody else’ that thinks like you do. You’re a tiny subset of a very large population. The numbers dwindle even faster when you decide to try to make a living from your musicianship. That’s probably ’cause it’s insane to do so.

You’re not normal. Get that nonsense right out of your head.

“I have lots of musical friends!” You might exclaim.

“I have a little something called data and your first major flaw is called selection bias!” I’d almost certainly retort, possibly with a punctuation about the sexual prowess of your mother.

You’re not even remotely normal. You’re not much more than a statistical term known as a ‘margin of error.’ There are probably more people with herpes than there are serious musicians. There are probably more full-limb amputees than there are serious musicians.

You are free to decide if that makes you special or if it makes you insane – or possibly both. Either way, it’s not normal. No. Beside, I know some of you. I’ve known lots of musicians. You’re not fucking normal. You should also probably see a damned therapist, the whole lot of you!

Alright…

I’m pretty sure that’s all your getting today. I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for stepping up and offering to write an article so that TheBuddha could die in peace. Oh, wait… That’s none of you! Ungrateful heathens. You’re gonna miss me when I’m dead, you’ll see.

Listen carefully – it’s got an organ in it! (It’s probably a Hammond! Until next time…

Don’t even think about playing me a song. No, not even quietly.

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Unofficial View From The Stage and A Video.

When you’re a performer, you’ll often interact with large numbers of people. Seeing as they are people, it’s pretty safe to assume that they carry the plague.

I’m not sure if I have the plague or cancer. Either way, I’m dying at a slightly more rapid pace than usual. Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll get better, but I’m pretty sure they’re just trying to cheer me up.

I love getting to spend time with the people, but they’re disease carriers. Sometimes, you get strange women (not necessarily attractive) who will want to hug and kiss you. They don’t know my name, or anything. I’m in a cover band. They’re just drunk. It’s probably one in a series of regrettable choices they’re going to make that evening!

In ye olden days, it was a pretty good way to get nookie. However, I’m not in a position to take advantage of that job perk. Either way, I digress and, seeing as I’m nearing the end of my life, I don’t want to waste time on trivialities! (I suspect nobody is gonna believe that trivialities bit.)

Someone, probably the drummer, has infected me with their plague.

So, there’s a view from the stage:

Humans are just the tool things like typhoid use to survive. We humans are covered in all manner of disgusting things. You will catch the plague.

I’m not even sharing this article, like I didn’t yesterday. Don’t care. Got the plague. Nobody even offered to fill in for me. Nobody. So, I’ll do it myself!

Alright, I have a video for you.

I’ve realized my attempt to turn ‘pipe organ’ into a scientific unit of measurement is not going to be effective. There’s just too many damned variations in pipe organs!

(Also, I found a pipe organ in Massachusetts! I don’t have time to visit them yet, but I’m gonna email ’em and ask if they’ll let me play their pipe organ – with supervision, of course.)

I don’t know how to play a pipe organ. Nope. Don’t care, either. I’m pretty sure playing a pipe organ, skilled or not, is just about the most awesome thing you can do. Pipe organs players have more in common with a conductor than they do a pianist.

In my effort to find more information about pipe organ air movement quantities, I found some pretty sweet pipe organs! Some of ’em have pedals that you can stomp on – and they mechanically ring bells, bang drums, and all sorts of awesome shit.

HOLY BALLS! I previously did not know about the bells! I’m pretty sure you can understand my excitement! If you can’t understand my excitement, you’re on the wrong site.

And, yeah… I have no idea how to play a pipe organ – nor do I care. I don’t even think my ineptitude will diminish the sheer joy of playing a pipe organ. An instrument of that magnitude has no choice but to be awesome.

Man, my feet would be flying like horses and my fingers would rip out somber notes that reverberated through the audience I’ll probably have had to chain into the building. I’m pretty sure at least one of us in that group of people is gonna be having the best day ever. Pretty sure…

Alright, enough nonsense. I have the damned plague and I’m going back to my couch and tablet. If you want me, you know where to find me. If I don’t answer, I’m dead.

Here’s the damned video. It’s pretty awesome!

Now, the narrator is a little stupid – but it’s not their fault. They don’t realize that they’re listening to a very complex bitchin’ solo!

Seriously… Turn your volume up and listen carefully! They’re bitchin’ solos!

Damned right – and, unless I die of the plague, until next time…

Play quietly and somewhere else.

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Lesson about Recording for the Complete Novice: EQ

Aloha! Chris here from The Kilt Lifters with another lesson on Recording for the Complete Novice.   I hope everyone has had a great week and has digested the last few lessons.  We covered buses last week, so now we can move on to EQ.  

While EQ and Compression will each receive their own lesson, it’s important to note that they have an effect on each other depending on how you order your signal chain.  If you place your EQ before your compressor, the signal that the EQ is receiving ideally already has the peaks reduced by the compressor. If you place the EQ before the compressor, the compressor is then working on a signal that has been modified by the EQ.  I often use a channel strip that allows the position of the EQ and compressor to be swapped with the press of a button.

So, let’s start by talking about EQ and what it does.  EQ allows you to cut (subtractive EQ) or boost (additive EQ) very specific ranges of your audio.  EQ is extremely useful for dialing down frequencies that are annoying to the listener. To that end, I generally prefer to start with mostly subtractive EQ and boost very little to eliminate noise.  Once that initial cleanup is done on the individual tracks, I will tend to listen to everything together and boost or cut additionally where needed so that the entire mix fits together without any instruments being unintentionally obtuse.  Personally, when I’m working with familiar subjects, like my own voice, or any of the instruments I work with regularly, I have presets that are fairly close to what I want, then I fine tune the EQ to fit the piece. Another important function of EQ is to make room in the sonic spectrum for a given instrument.  Often instruments have overlapping frequencies that can sound muddy in your mix. Remember, that when mixing, it’s not much different than being on stage with a band. It doesn’t matter if you are fulfilling your sonic dreams with your penultimate guitar tone if it’s clashing with another instrument. It’s about blending them together artfully to create a good overall experience for the listener.  If I’m EQ’ing a keyboard part, I’ll very likely cut the low end so it doesn’t step on the bass. Besides, we all know that they keyboard player should be sitting on his left hand with a bass player in the mix!

The best advice I can give for EQ is to look up any number of frequency charts, like this one, in order to start to familiarize yourself where various things fit in the sound spectrum. This will help you to find a good starting point for your adjustments.  I would also recommend an ear training program for audio production, like this one.

There are a couple of different types of EQ.  Parametric EQ’s allow you to adjust the width and and frequency of a specific bandwidth and modify it.  They will usually have a knob or setting for frequency, a knob or setting for range or bandwidth, and a knob or setting for adjustment.  Usually they will have at least two sections, one for low, one for high, but may have three, four, or more sections for different frequency ranges.

Parametric EQ

Graphic EQ’s are just that.  They show a graphic representation of the entire frequency range and allow you to modify frequencies by selecting them visually across the spectrum.

One advantage of a parametric EQ is that it allows you to really train your ears to various frequency spectrums because they don’t show you a visual representation.  They force you to listen.

Here are a couple of examples of graphic EQ’s

Graphic EQ 1

Graphic EQ 2

 

The last thing I’d like to mention is that like any other effect or processing, it’s important to have a goal in mind.  If you like the sonic profile of your track, don’t EQ it! EQ is for adjusting the sonic profile of your track with an intended goal in mind.

That’s it for this week!  Feel free to drop a comment or question below, or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can buy my album!

Until next week!

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So, you wanna learn how to play guitar?

I don’t have a good intro, so I’m just gonna tell you what I’m gonna do! I’m going to tell you some truth. You won’t like it. If you think I’m wrong, prove it. Prove to me you’re going to learn to play the guitar by learning to play.

Here’s a sorta lesson type thing.
Continue reading “So, you wanna learn how to play guitar?”

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Why tune up? (Stoned ramblings.)

These are stoned ramblings. You have been warned.

A recent PM conversation with someone who’s learning to play the guitar led to them asking me why I say always tune up. I’m not alone in saying this – it’s pretty basic as to the what you should do. Everyone tells you to tune up, right? The question is, why do people tell you to tune up.?

T|he answer is not really so simple and many people will give you the most outlandish answers I’ve ever heard. I’m going to make it way more complicated than it needs to be – but I’ll try to explain it as I go along.

Strings, if you’ve ever pulled them out of the new case or removed them from your stringed instruments, have memory. That means that they tend to retain the shape they have been fixed in. It’s a process due to the molecular reshaping when force is exerted on them – but that’s not important. Basically, when you pull a string out of a brand new package, it has the tendency to remain in its previous shape.

A more salient example of this is when you unravel a string to remove it from the tuning peg – it retains that shape pretty well.

If you add more energy to your strings, they will break. If you don’t believe me, (you need new strings anyhow) take your skinniest string and rest a lit cigarette on it. Go on, I’ll wait… (Don’t do that unless you’re going to change the strings anyways.)

Then, there’s friction in the system – and some of it is manifest as stiction. This force is overcome when you add more energy to the system (or when energy already in the system moves to a disordered state). In human-speak, this means it has the tendency to loosen at a more rapid rate.

How much of this is true and how much of this is so insignificant may actually be bordering on something between reality and legend. Is it truly a factor? Absolutely. Simple physics tells us that it’s a factor. But, in the days when you’re able to set your precise tone with an electronic instrument, how much does this matter? If you tune up, you have the greatest potential energy in the system.

I’ve done some testing and, frankly, it isn’t a significant factor all the time. Sometimes, it’s not significant over the period of time that I am concerned with. It really depends on the guitar. I’ve made lots of observations but I haven’t bothered to keep the data. I’ve not done rigorous study, in other words.

Either way, I’m not kidding. If you want to see it. just play with your tuner on and watch to see if the pitch decreases with greater speed than it does if you tuned down to that pitch. The answer depends on so many factors – and most of us actually don’t even tune that precisely. Many of us just tune the guitar to itself. Some guitars can be downright terrible and you’ll have to find a balance for them – including wanting to find a balance for intonation. In this area, some guitars are better than other guitars.

On top of that, if you’ve got relatively new strings and aren’t beating on them for years, the difference isn’t that much. It still exists – it’s just not as great as some people make it out to be. Frankly, tune to whoever gave you an A and call it good. The audience isn’t going to notice. You’re generally not playing for a refined ear or the studio. If you’re recording then practice the best effort. If you’re playing for an audience that’s seated, practice your best effort. If you’re playing in a dive bar and you want to hurry up so that you can get a drink, then it doesn’t really matter. You can just be in tune with the rest of the band and call it good.

If it doesn’t always matter, why do I tell people this? Well, I also tell people to keep their instrument in good shape. I tell them to maintain it. I tell them to keep it clean. I tell them to do drills every day, stretch every day, and run scales every day, and play every day, and all sorts of other things. Most good guitars go out of tune at about the same rate, even if you tune them down to pitch. There’s usually not a whole lot of difference between them.

How much of that I actually do myself? Not so much. I wipe stuff down and hang it back up. I check intonation real quick and then see how quickly something goes out of tune. I throw new strings on if I’m going to record. If I’m going to perform, I’ll restring everything. For the record, I hate having to rush to string a guitar. A pick winder is your friend, but that’s something we’ll talk about another day.

Why did I write this? Well… It’s always been some sort of guitar legend. I know even piano tuners do it and have for years and years. I assume it goes back before that, but I don’t have any historic record for that can’t provide a citation. So, I write this because I don’t really see it that well covered elsewhere. Otherwise, I’d just link you to that.

It’s always been a legend and some people don’t pay it much attention. I can’t say that I blame them. Some people give it more credence than others, and sometimes they’re right – depending on the guitar they’re playing.

I guess the point is that the legend has some basis in reality. You can see how much it impacts you by just watching the pitch with your tuner. Hammer on it for five minutes and see if it’s out of tune. Check it at the 12th fret – is it in tune there?  Check in another five minutes. Keep doing that.

If it gets lower (the space between wave peaks is further apart and it gets flat sounding) with greater rapidity then it’s an issue. Sometimes, it doesn’t have that much of an impact It’s going to vary based on so many things that it’s really up to you and the guitar – but I’m always going to suggest you do it, just like I always suggest cleaning your guitar before putting it away.

It may even vary depending on what type of music you’re playing. In other words, the more energy you put into the system the faster you’ll overcome the forces that hold the string in place. That’s energy and it’s gotta go somewhere.  The more energy you put into it (the harder you play) the faster you’ll go out of tune. It will vary a lot depending on the instrument and the system used to hold the strings in place, with some systems being more capable than others.

What do I mean by more capable? Let’s get geeky about it.

It’s all about energy… Really!

If you want to see this, heat a cup of coffee and put it on your desk. Watch it. Let me know when it, by itself, gets warmer instead of colder. Without adding energy to the system – it trends towards disorder. This is the same thing that’s happening in your guitar.

Some of that energy is transferred in the form of sound. Some of it is even heat. If you check the temperature of various bits of the guitar with fairly accurate gear, you’ll see some parts of it are warmer and, indeed, energy is being transferred out of it as heat. That energy transferred as heat could be wasted energy or it could be energy not absorbed by the system holding the strings in place. 

What that means is be nice to your guitar. It may not make you a living, but it does give you something in return for the amount of energy you put into it. It’s just simple physics!

It’s able to be expressed mathematically. Really – I’m not kidding.

I realize that I’m pretty stoned and I might be speaking gibberish – but there’s a method to my madness – and a madness to my method.

If you want to figure this out mathematically, and express the figures for your specific instrument, you can get some precise measurement equipment, assume a few spherical cows, and get a fairly accurate mathematical answer to this.

Here, I’m not kidding. If you want to do the math, follow this link. That won’t even give you an absolutely exact figure, and you’re going to have to do a bunch of research, testing, and a whole lot of very exact data collection. As far as I know, nobody has ever done this work – there’s been no really good academic study into precisely this and that’s an area of interest that I have.

If such a study is done, I predict that it is going to vary significantly. Of this I’m really confident. Someone should study this and put it up for peer review. I’d absolutely read that.

So, we’ll have to content ourselves without exact numbers until someone does that study. Fucked if I know the exact amount and no, I’m not going to go find out. But!!!

What else is going on? What else is happening? Here comes the fun part…

First, I need to tell you that when you’re playing, you’re smashing atoms all around. Yeah, you’re shooting particles off in every direction. You’re emitting heat, electrons, and all sorts of fun stuff. The energy isn’t just being observed as sound. Your eyes don’t see it, but it’s there – you can observe it. You’re putting energy your into the guitar. (An electric guitar amplifier amplifies this signal – it increases the amount of energy in the system – which comes from the battery or wall, but that’s also not important.)

Second, that means when you’re playing amplified music – you’re telling electrons what to do. Some of this is expressed as sound, some of it is heat, but you’re smashing bits of matter together and causing it to make electrons exchange at a controlled rate of speed. You see it as string vibration and hear it as sound. If you touch the amps, you feel it as heat.

If you want to realize how awesome this truly is, per cubic centimeter, you emit more energy than our star (Sol) does. When you’re playing, you’re emitting even more energy than that. Then, it’s being amplified, emitted as waves that shape the air, vibrating a fine membrane of tissue in the ear, causing electrons to be exchanged that result in tiny chemical responses, and we humans interpret that as sound.

Frankly, that’s fucking awesome!

By the way… Heat’s often considered waste heat or energy needed to not be absorbed in order to maintain structural integrity. Some heat is good, some heat is bad. If your guitar is on fire, it’s probably bad. (Take a lesson, Jimi…)

And some of that energy is transferred away from the system in your tuning pegs and in the strings themselves. Which is why you always tune up. It puts you at the most optimal state of energy – usually.

By the way, if you don’t know what spherical cows are, I highly encourage looking that up – but only if you really want to try to figure out the math for it all. If you don’t believe you’re emitting energy outside the spectrum you can usually observe, look at yourself in the mirror with a thermal camera.

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