Wednesday, December 31, 2014

closing out the year

This is my last post for 2014, and so late!!

I expected to blog over the past couple weeks, but E-Rex needed surgery, unexpectedly, so that threw all schedules off and into a tizzy.  Then, as he recovered, I fell to the forces of burdensome responsibilities and no sleep - I was down with a rough sore throat and cold right through Christmas.  So, although I wanted to blog about gift giving and some dreamy guitars that came across my radar, I was on the DL.  We're both much better now and I expect to be keeping to a "regular" (whatever that is) blogging schedule with the advent of the new year. 

The web site has been freshened up. I know there a few wonky buttons, but they are not functionally wonky - just graphically so.  I'll tidy them up next week.  I renders find on my iPad and iPhone, as well as on my Mac & E-Rex's PC, so you shouldn't have any difficulty viewing it.  

If you recall, I was planning to move the web hosting for the GuitarTechniqueTutor.Com web site to a different one from the long time host.  After fully familiarizing myself with the new host's offerings, I concluded that if my site were brand new, I'd consider using them, but since my web site has been up in its various iterations for quite a while, there would be too much compromise in layout and content to reconstruct the site at the planned hosting company.  So, I'm still with my tried and true hosting company.  

This is the time of year to contemplate your playing strengths and weaknesses.  Make a play to conquer some of the playing or musicianship challenges that have beset you in the past.  Set some realistic goals and work toward them. Improve your weak areas, learn a new technique, acquaint yourself with another genre that you don't play much, etc.  I, for one, am looking forward to this new year.  (More like I can't wait to close the book on 2014. It was a rough one for me.)    

Thanks for reading. 

Happy 2015!!

Practice, and until next time, I'm D A Arlaus, "doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

go have a fit revisited

At this time, more than any other, giftiness is in the air - and sometimes that means guitar gifts.  (If anyone wants to send a PRS my way - any model that isn't a lefty - don't let me stop you.) I have pasted some of a previous post below for your serious consideration.

... Let's say I have a philosophical issue with the first sentence: "Generally, when it comes to buying a guitar there are three key factors to consider: how does it sound, how does it look and, perhaps most importantly, how much does it cost?"

If you have listened to my podcasts or are a student with whom I have gone to purchase a guitar, budget or otherwise, you'll know that, sure, sound is the first consideration. If it doesn't have the sound you're looking for, what's the point of even purchasing it?  But the second very serious consideration is how does it fit?   I feel like I'm alone in the desert on this one, but as guitarist and instructor who has accompanied more friends, friends of friends and students than I care to quantify, to return guitars they bought or were given, that are downright uncomfortable to unplayable, I have to  hold firm on this one. 

Of course you don't want an ugly guitar.  Obviously, you can't buy a guitar you can't afford.  But come to grips with that no matter how well-priced and pretty and gorgeous-sounding it is, if you can't hold onto it comfortably, you're not going to be able to play it well. You may be able to play around with it, but play it?  Uh uh.  

Kids, extremely muscular men and petite people (usually women, but some men, too) have the hardest time finding a guitar they like that fits them.  With the major gift-giving time just around the corner (2 months and a bit until Hanukkah and 3 months and a bit until Christmas) please take what I'm saying under advisement:

If you are purchasing a guitar for anyone other than yourself, or an adult who has played the guitar they have asked you for, give your recipient a gift card or photo of the guitar or some other representation of it, until they can go guitar shopping with you.  I realize that you may want to do your shopping online.  In that case, still take them shopping to a guitar store, where the model of their desired guitar is available for the lucky one to play. In more than half the cases of kids or petite adults I know, the guitar they thought they wanted sounds great but they can't hold it comfortably. 

Don't allow them to get locked into thinking they only want a particular body shape.  Hey, dreadnoughts aren't for everyone.  Neck profiles vary noticeably from maker to maker, as well as from model to model from the same maker.  Their left hand needs to be able to grip properly.   If that left hand has to support the neck while they play (because the counter weight of their right arm isn't sufficient, or because their right shoulder is up so high, when their right arm is over the guitar, it's not the guitar for them.  Sometimes, that's hard to take.  I've been with students who owned the guitar they were about to buy, in their mind for a long time.  Try as they might to justify buying it when we were at the guitar shop, they could feel that the axe wasn't right for them.  

Okay, the annual rant is out of my system.   If you're buying online, verify that you have a reasonable return/exchange policy, and don't allow the recipient nor yourself to mark, scratch, bump, nick or otherwise compromise the cosmetic appearance of the guitar before you or they are sure they're going to keep itIf you're shopping online, use a reputable dealer, not an unknown.... 

It's critically important that you embrace my advice about getting or giving a guitar that fits.  As I'm writing this, we are just weeks from both Hanukkah and Christmas, this year. I can't recall a holiday season in which students didn't received guitars - either as a surprise or because they wanted them - but since they weren't present for the purchase and the fit was simply impossible, the guitars had to go back to their point of origination and the process had to begin again. In my experience,  It was a waste of time and energy. It also took some of the delight out of the gift.  Yes, of course, it's the thought that counts, but can you imagine getting an adorable puppy as a gift, falling in love with it, and then having to take it back? That's something like the feeling of receiving a gift guitar that doesn't fit.  If you're going to make someone's season bright, fit is way more important than the element of surprise.

                        ~ D A Arlaus, "doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time."

death rattle

Twice a year I have my humidity rant and that time has come again.  I was just at someone's house a week or 2 ago and heard that tell-tale raspy  buzz, characteristic of a guitar that has dried out. If this kind of  buzz is ignored, it can quickly turn into a death rattle. Ugh!!  If you're in the Northern Hemisphere and have heat on, HUMIDIFY!! If you're in the Southern Hemisphere and have the A/C on, HUMIDIFY!!  Unless you have a Rainsong guitar, this is for you. 

Here's something that is posted on my Guitar Technique Tutor web site:


Depending upon where you live, you may be killing your guitar!!

I’m in the north east US and for most of the year, either the heat or the A/C is on in our apartment.

If you reside where:

• the heat is on

• the air conditioner is on

• the air humidity is less than 40%


I suggest you get and begin to use a guitar humidifier immediately. There are several kinds available. More instruments are damaged due to climatic conditions than from any other single cause (not counting being trashed intentionally.) Dryness and sudden temperature changes are the worst culprits.

In the case of an arid environment, not only will the guitar crack from lack of moisture, but when the fretboard dries out, your guitar will buzz and the frets will protrude on the sides of the neck and may give you a nasty scratch/cut.

Get into the habit of monitoring humidity in the room where you keep your guitar. Get a hygrometer (humidity indicator) at any hardware store so you can give your guitar the humidity it needs, when it needs it.

Taking the initiative to humidify your guitar will save you the cost of repairs and will keep your guitar playing its best.


Remember, your guitar is comfortable where you are comfortable. Don't leave it in an unheated cold basement or attic and likewise don't leave it in a sweltering car or attic in the summer.

I was happy to see our friends at PRS join in the crusade, a week or  so ago -  it was the first time i received an email blast from them that spotlighted the necessity of promoting humidification, too. 

There are a variety of humidifiers available for guitars.  There are whole room humidifiers, case humidifiers and several that  that go into the sound hole of your guitar, if your guitar has a sound hole.  Whatever case or internal humidifier you use, it won't work if you aren't vigilant and re-wet it whenever needed.  If your chosen humidifier comes with some kind of humidity gauge, I recommend you get a free-standing hygrometer.  I keep mine on a shelf near where the guitars are hung.  I check it daily - regardless if it is during the traditional "humidifier seasons" or not.  

Dehydration can be deadly for people and likewise for wooden stringed instruments. Humidify and keep on humidifying

                       ~ D A Arlaus, "doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

tantalizing gifts under $30

Now that my gigantic project from another facet of my life is finished, I can get back to blogging regularly.  I can't believe it's just over a month since I last posted anything - but I was swamped.  

So, if you're like me, this time of year, when the clock turns back, a chill is in the air, days are now miserably short and we're seeing November on our devices and calendars --- I'm thinking that Thanksgiving is a few weeks away and after that Christmas and Hanukkah time - and gift giving.   My problem is that I have a far more generous heart than bank account.  So what is a philanthropic spirit to do?  I have a suggestion if you find yourself long on love but short on cash.

You know that guitar player in your life who you'd love to get  the guitar of their dreams, but it's not going to happen this year?  I know what will express the thought, but won't break the bank.  Have you seen the new PRS 2015 Calendar or their 2014 Electric Guitar Book

The 2015 Calendar is loaded with some of the most beautiful guitars made in America.  They are beyond iconic.  They are inspiring.  Any bleak practice space, or grand music room can be enhanced by the addition of this drool-worthy calendar.  

The 2014 Electric Guitar Book chronicles the whole Paul Reed Smith journey, from building guitars in his bedroom, to present day and his most recent creations, built in his Stevensville, Maryland facility.    This coffee table book belongs in the home of any electric guitarist who admires the PRS aesthetic and sound -- and that's most of us.  

These 2 under $30 gift ideas shouldn't be dismissed before you really consider them.  PRS guitars are unquestionably among the most beautiful looking and sounding axes out there.  I wouldn't be surprised if both the 2014 Electric Guitar Book and the  2015 Calendar sell out.   I know a few guitarists who collect the calendars every year.  

I'll probably be posting more gift suggestions over the next few weeks, as well as my annual caution about purchasing gift guitars.  

D A Arlaus                     
 "Doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Moving Day Is Coming

In addition to the 45 bajillion other things going on in my life, I have been considering changing web hosting services and along with that,  probably moving this blog.  I have finally decided to do it, although I will not get to it before November. As soon as I'm finished with a big project I'm working on (due to be completed by November 2), I will front-burner the migration.  The web site will look different but have as much or more content, functionality and optimization for every size and kind of screen upon which it could possibly be viewed.  The blog will be at the web site, provided I can feed it as well as I can here, on Blogger.  I may use this current blog as a mirror for what is on the web site, until I'm sure I don't need to maintain it.  I'll update this info, as I have a better idea of when the change will occur.

Farewell My Lovelies

Just a quick post, in case you don't follow on Twitter (which, admittedly has been weak of late) to mention the end of the Genuine Raptor® Picks flash sale.

At the time I'm writing this post, there are only 6 sets of "buy 4 and get 1 free" at a clearance price on my web site GuitarTechniqueTutor.Com  When these are gone, they will be gone.  

I know I have written on more than one occasion, that I used the same guitar pick for decades, with no interest of ever changing.  For me, the pick I play with is not generic, in any way.  it's extremely personal.  When I was doing weekly podcasts, I wanted to review some guitar picks, so I put out requests for what are kindly referred to as novelty picks. I know, novelty pick conjures thoughts of picks with little teeny bungee cords on them or picks made out of milk protein.  Those were not what I was looking for. I wanted to review some good new pick designs.  

I received picks from a few different pick makers, and to give them an honest review, I had to play with them. If I'm remembering correctly,  I left the Raptor® for last, even though it looked the most interesting and promising.  When I tried it, the experience was amazing.  Not only did I like it, but I didn't want to stop playing with it.  The next day, when I went to play with my old faithful, I wasn't as enamored as I had been for the previous decades that I used it.  It was weird.  I felt like I was cheating on a long-time lover. My affection for the oldie had evaporated over night.  

If your mind is closed about changing picks, like mine was, you might want to try them anyway.  The clearance price is right about at my cost - there's no profit added.  I'm just trying to clear them out.  (Of course, I'm keeping a stash for myself!!)  

Get them while you can.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lefties Rejoice

There is a bunch of lefty  guitarists who don't like me.  I love them so I'll not bring up our philosophical divergence.  Lefties, rejoice!  There's a beautiful new G Series from our good friends at Takamine, that very well may delight you.

Here is what Takamine says about them:

Each of these guitars features a slim mahogany neck and 12"-radius rosewood fingerboard which provides great feel and playability, and the onboard Takamine TP-4TD preamp system found on the GD30CELH and GD51CELH models gives you a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls for excellent amplified performance and versatility. 

And we haven't forgotten about you bass players. The new GB30CELH jumbo bass features a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides that produce a rich, resonant sound. The slim mahogany neck and 16"-radius rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the onboard Takamine TK-40B preamp system has a built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls, mid-shift control, bass-boost switch, and EQ bypass switch for the ultimate in versatility and sound quality. 

The GD30LH and GD30CELH models feature a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides for all of the full, rich sound players expect from the classic dreadnought body style. 

A left-handed version of one of our most popular G Series models, the GD30-LH is a classy-looking dreadnought guitar that features solid-top construction, a beautiful gloss finish and all the full, rich sound players have come to expect from this classic body style.

Perfect for any player looking for a great all-around acoustic guitar that can cover any style, the GD30-LH combines a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides that produce a rich, resonant sound. The slim mahogany neck and 12”-radius rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the split-saddle design of the pin-less rosewood bridge provides superior intonation for sweeter-sounding chords and single-note runs.

Other great features include a synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, rosewood headcap, pearloid rosette and dot inlays, chrome die-cast tuners and a beautiful gloss finish. Available in Natural. MSRP $459.99

The GD30CE-LH is a left-handed version of one of our best selling G Series acoustic/electric models. This stage-worthy dreadnought guitar features solid-top construction, a soft Venetian-style cutaway and a superior-sounding Takamine electronics system.

Ready for any performance situation, the GD30CE-LH features a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides that produce a rich, resonant sound. The slim mahogany neck and 12”-radius rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the onboard Takamine TP-4TD preamp system gives you a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls for excellent amplified performance and versatility.

Other great features include a pin-less rosewood bridge, synthetic bone nut and split bridge saddle, rosewood headcap, pearloid rosette and dot inlays, chrome die-cast tuners and a beautiful gloss finish. Available in Natural. MSRP $559.99

The GD51LH and GD51CELH models feature solid spruce tops and rosewood back and sides for a warm, resonant sound that will bring out the best in your music. 

The left-handed GD51-LH is a classy dreadnought-style guitar that features deluxe cosmetic appointments, solid-top construction and a warm, resonant sound that will bring out the best in your music.

Combining a solid spruce top with rosewood back and sides, the GD51-LH pumps out all the big, bold tone players expect from a dreadnought. The slim mahogany neck and 12”-radius bound rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the split-saddle design of the rosewood bridge provides superior intonation for sweeter-sounding chords and single-note runs.

Other great features include a synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, rosewood headcap, abalone rosette and dot inlays, gold die-cast tuners and a beautiful gloss finish. Available in Natural. MSRP $519.99

With deluxe appointments, solid-top construction and great performance features including a Venetian-style cutaway and Takamine electronics system, the left-handed GD51CE-LH is built to bring your music center stage.

Ready for the demands of any performance situation, the GD51CE-LH features a solid spruce top and rosewood back and sides that produce a big, bold sound. The slim mahogany neck and 12”-radius bound rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the onboard Takamine TP-4TD preamp system gives you a built-in tuner with three-band EQ and gain controls for rock-solid amplified performance and versatility.

Other great features include a synthetic bone nut and split bridge saddle, rosewood headcap, abalone rosette and dot inlays, gold die-cast tuners and a beautiful gloss finish. Available in Natural.   MSRP $624.99

The left-handed GB30CE-LH is a stage-worthy acoustic-electric bass guitar that features solid-top construction, a soft Venetian-style cutaway and a superior-sounding Takamine electronics system.

Ready for any performance, the GB30CE features a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides that produce a rich, resonant sound. The slim mahogany neck and 16”-radius rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the onboard Takamine TK-40B preamp system has a built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls, mid-shift control, bass-boost switch, and EQ bypass switch for the ultimate in versatility and sound quality.

Other great features include a dovetail neck joint, synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, rosewood headcap, pearl dot fingerboard inlays, abalone rosette, chrome die-cast tuners and a beautiful gloss finish. MSRP $759.99

So, if you're one of the beloved lefties, out there, and you're in the market for a new axe, these beautiful Taks may be just the ticket for you!  If you play one, contact me and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Drool, Slobber, Swoon

If you have been reading this blog or if you used to listen to the Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast for any length of time, you know I love, love, love PRS guitars.  Actually, I may be understating it

There is something to love about every PRS guitar -- the constants are superior quality and masterful design. Likewise for the limited editions, but on steroids.  Enter, the premier Limited Edition Custom 24 Semi-Hollow.

LUSCIOUS, isn't it??

The Custom 24 is the original PRS guitar - the guitar Paul Reed Smith took to his first NAMM trade show in 1985. The original one I fell in love with.  That flagship model has since become indispensable to countless musicians in the studio and on the stage. It's  a guitar that "streets" for the low $700s

Through the years, the SE Custom 24 has evolved with the PRS craft and has been offered in several  configurations. 

Definitely, not too shabby. This one, is the Brushstroke 24. Based on Paul’s Guitar, the guitar Paul Reed Smith is currently playing in the studio and on the stage, the Brushstroke 24 is lacking neither tone nor style. This limited edition model carries over a familiar wood combination, the unique “brushstroke” bird inlay design, and adds 24-fret, tremolo versatility to the Core Paul’s Guitar model. The pickups deliver a full range of tones from sweet, clean highs to full, alive mids and driven lows, and the electronics configuration consists of two narrow 408 pickups with a 3-way toggle switch and two mini-toggle switches that allow players to move between humbucking and single coil tones with no volume loss when switching from full to single coils for maximum versatility.

Fewer than 200 of these instruments will be made for this small batch run. The specs are impressive on this beauty that "streets" for about $3800.

Top Wood Figured Maple
Back Wood Mahogany
Number of Frets 24
Scale Length 25"
Neck Wood Mahogany
Fretboard Wood Rosewood
Neck Shape Pattern Regular
Fretboard Inlays Brushstroke Birds
Headstock Inlay Rosewood Headstock Veneer with Inlaid Signature
Bridge PRS Tremolo
Tuners PRS Phase III Locking Tuners
Hardware Type Nickel
Treble Pickup Narrow 408 Treble
Bass Pickup Narrow 408 Bass
Pickup Switching Volume and Tone Control with 3-Way Toggle Pickup Switch and 2 Mini-Toggle Switches for Coil Tapping

Back to the copious drool worthy Custom 24 Semi-Hollow. It is the one configuration that has never been offered on a Core Custom 24 - a semi-hollow body with an f-hole...until now.

The 2014 Custom 24 Semi-Hollow has all of the versatility and reliability of the Core Custom. The addition of a chambered, semi-hollow body gives this guitar added midrange and resonance while losing none of the instrument’s tried-and-true character.

The 2014 Custom 24 Semi-Hollow is the first of its kind. Fewer than 200 of these instruments will be made for this small batch run. Like the Brushstroke 24, extremely limited run.

 It's available in the same colors as the Brushstroke 24, except for Tiger Red, which are:

Blackgold Burst 
Blood Orange
Faded Whale Blue
(I would have probably named the "Jade" color something else, if the photo is true to the color of the guitar -- maybe "Moldavite," and why not the color of a meteorite-born stone for a cosmically fabulous guitar?)

The Specs on this uber-marvelous work of art are:

Top Wood Figured Maple 10–Top
Back Wood Mahogany
Number of Frets 24
Scale Length 25"
Neck Wood Mahogany
Fretboard Wood Rosewood
Neck Shape Pattern Regular
Fretboard Inlays Birds
Headstock Inlay East Indian Rosewood Veneer with Inlaid Signature
Bridge PRS Tremolo
Tuners PRS Phase III Locking Tuners
Truss Rod Cover "Custom"
Hardware Type Nickel
Treble Pickup Uncovered 59/09
Bass Pickup Uncovered 59/09
Pickup Switching Volume and Tone Control with 5-Way Blade

The street price is about the same as the Custom 24 Brushstroke.

Whether you're in the market for your first PRS and your budget is constrained, or you have some serious coin to spend, there is PRS work of art for you.  If there is a guitar store near you that carries them, you owe it to yourself to play them.  If you do, be prepared to love, love. love them. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

size isn't everything

I know I reviewed the Min-ETune last week but i promise this blog is not turning into Epiphone Central. That said, I will admit a bit of nostalgic affection for the guitar makers at Epiphone.  My first 3 decent guitars were all American-made Epies.  One, was smaller than a standard guitar, too.

I've been reading, with interest, about the new Epiphone Pro-1 line.

These smaller scale guitars (there is a choice of 4 models - 3 acoustic and 1 acoustic electric cutaway) are at low street price points and intended to take the physical challenge out of learning to play guitar. Don't mistake these for travel guitars. They are not.  They aren't 3/4 size nor parlor size axes either.  They aren't Daisy Rocks either. They are just a slightly smaller profile than most acoustics. 

That slightly shorter (about an inch) scale length and the slightly smaller body profiles make for a much more comfortable experience for some beginners, youths transitioning from travel, 1/2 or 3/4 size instruments, people with small hands and those who want the easiest adjustment to playing guitar that they can get. 

I have raved so many times in the podcast and in these posts, I'm sure, that the paramount focus, when buying a guitar, should be how it fits you.  Well, if you aren't a long armed, large handed guitarist, here is yet one more possibility.

Because I'm here, "doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time," I need to break down Epiphone's pitch on this guitar - and I don't mean pitch in a negative way.

First and foremost it's being called "easy to play."  No question. It's a little smaller, has a slightly shorter scale length, which requires a bit less tension on  the strings and there is a slightly pared down neck profile.

All those things will increase playability and reduce the amount of pressure and stretch necessary to fret.   Each model has Jumbo-PRO frets, too.  They aren't my favorite but within reason, the bigger the fret, the lighter you can play and still make clean sound.

On all these points, Epiphone is on target, that these guitars may be easier to play.  The Pro-1s are all factory strung with extra light strings.  Well, of course they require less pressure, but you can approximate that experience on any guitar with an adjustable neck. (The lighter tension may require the truss rod to be adjusted in order to prevent buzzes with very light strings.) So, the extra lights do not set this guitar apart from others. It's just a fact that extra lights are easier to press. A discriminating ear may or may not prefer the sound of extra light strings.

Then, there's the PRO-Ease Lubricant that comes with each PRO-1 guitar.   Yes, the PRO-Ease string lubricant will make playing on any string a smoother experience and will reduce or eliminate finger noise (which might be desirable for recording or if you hate the sound of it.)  That's not PRO-1 specific. String lubricants have been around for quite a while.  Me, I'm not big on applying anything to guitar strings, for the sake of the sound. Just call me, Purist.  (But I love DR's K3 coating because it actually enhances sound, playability and string life.) If there's a sore fingertip issue - generally, if you aren't unnecessarily pushing way through the fingerboard when you can use much less pressure, the fingertip sensitivity is short lived.  I always tell beginners that if their fingertips are sore after they play, (and they are not pressing harder than is necessary) to do a few seconds on and a minute or longer off an ice cube, and repeat it a few times.   If it's a child, have them break their playing into 10 or  15 minute intervals, rather than a long session, until their fingertips toughen up.  I'm honestly not a fan of string lubricant.  But if it's your thing, lubricate to your heart's content.

So, what are you buying, if you get a PRO-1, and what kind of prices are there?

According to Epiphone:

All PRO-1 Acoustic Guitars Feature:
  • Mahogany Body
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Glued In Neck Joint
  • EZ-Profile™ Neck Profile
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • JumboPRO™ Frets
  • Dual-Action Truss Rod
  • PRO-Ease™ Lubricant
  • Graph Tech® Nut
  • Short Scale Length
  • Deluxe Tuners
  • Ultra-Light Strings
  • EZ-String™/Pinless Rosewood Bridge
  • Graph Tech® Saddle
  • Humidifier
  • eMedia® On-Line Lessons
  • Guitar Beginner's Guide
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Optional Case
  • Optional Accessory Kit
The models are

PRO-1 (street is about $119)

PRO-1 Classic (street is about $119)

PRO-1 Plus (street is about $229)

PRO-1 Ultra (street is about $329)

Except for the Classic model, all come in a few color options.

This line will be available in September.  If the quality is there, and it usually is with Epiphone products, these are a great budget alternative to a larger, more challenging instrument.  

If I have a change to play these next month, I'll post a review.

If you haven't played on extra light strings and you'd like to feel the difference from your current tension, I unabashedly recommend DRs.

The Genuine Raptor Picks Flash Sale is still going on, but won't be for long.  If you haven't heard and felt the difference a Raptor pick can make, this is the time to try them.  I used the same style guitar pick for literal decades. I tried the Raptor  and have used nothing since.  They are revolutionary.  You'll never see them at the flash sale price again.  Try them!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Dream Come True?

Since the original buzz began, about the Epiphone Min-ETune guitars, people have been asking me what I think about them.  So, I'll use this blog to remark.

First, let me say that this is the diametric opposite to the EverTune Bridge that I podcasted about with such relish some time ago. They don't do the same thing and their prices are disparate.  The EverTune Bridge keeps your guitar in tune. The Epiphone Min-ETune guitars are self-tuning.

Purist that I am, I always encourage beginner guitarists to get well acquainted with an A440 tuning fork and use it to tune their guitars.  Yes, I know it takes much longer to learn to tune that way and in the beginning, it could take an inexperienced guitar player that doesn't hear pitches too accurately, 15 minutes to tune.  I know.  But with constant repetition, practice, if you will - the ears are trained.  The eventual goal is to be able to hear that A, and eventually, all the open strings of the desired tuning.  My purist suggestions aside, these Min-ETune guitars are an interesting addition to the family of affordable workhorse guitars the venerable Epiphone offers.

The Min-ETune guitars, right now are the medium jumbo size FT-350SCE and the Les Paul Classic-T.

If you watch the video, it's remarkable and cool.  I can just hear a collective sigh going  up at the thought of not having to hassle with tuning your Les Paul Classic-T or your  FT-350SCE.  The price point is great, too.  MSRP is $999 but street for each of them is $599 and possibly less, depending upon sales, promos, coupons etc.  Don't forget, Labor Day sales are right around the corner. 

I haven't had an opportunity (pardon the pun) to play either of the models, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the tuning.  On the video, playing harmonic octaves was curiously absent.  I'm not saying the Min-ETune isn't accurate - I'm just saying, I haven't played them and I don't know if it is.  I hope it's dead on accurate and if it is, our friends at Epiphone have done something really noteworthy.  This is not synthesized sound, like that of some other big name guitars that I have blogged and podcast about in the past.   

There are great benefits to having a quickly self-tuning guitar - especially at this price point.  First, if the tuning is totally accurate, a guitarist will always be hearing what they are playing "at pitch" and not at "whatever tuning."  It's a quick transition from playing in standard tuning to another tuning. There are a dozen custom tunings that can be accessed in seconds. That's a real boon to pros and non-professional guitarists alike.  I can't tell you how many guitarists I know who have a guitar for each kooky tuning in which they like to play.  One I can think of has a guitar tuned to open C# Minor.  Whether playing for yourself, your instructor, friends in your living room, or on stage, there's great advantage to be able to move from tuning to tuning without a lot of time and aggravation.  

I'll post about these guitars again, if I have a chance to play them.

Don't forget that there's a Raptor Picks Flash Sale going on. The price is fabulous.

If you haven't tried DR guitar or bass strings yet, what's stopping you?!?  They're the best strings I've ever used - and I've used a plethora.  I love their K-3 coating. You've got to try them if you're not currently using DRs.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Legacy Series Beauty

If you're in the market for a new cutaway, and have a generous budget, you might want to consider the gor-gor-gorgeous Takamine Legacy Series EF508KC - read EF508 Koa Cutaway. I'm a wood freak and although I don't have a koa guitar, koa is one of my favorite woods.

With a 25.3" scale length and a rosewood fingerboard, this NEX cutaway is THE instrument for the guitar traditionalist - like me.  I have one transparent black lacquer over natural wood finished axe, but my usual proclivity is toward gorgeous wood, like this Tak.   Both the body and neck have a gloss finish.

I know the raging debate out there about satin vs gloss necks. It's really a matter of personal taste. All of my guitars have gloss necks and before I broke my wrist, I know I never played better or faster on  satin neck guitars of friends.  Some guitarists won't play on anything else. Some won't play on anything but gloss.  Some don't care.  I suspect, but don't claim to know, that the decision for a  gloss neck was made for the aesthetic.  Takamine does make guitars with satin necks.

The list on this lovely cutaway is $1999, but street, from the big sellers is about $1400.  

She's a beauty.  If I could wave a magic wand and alter her in any way, I'd make her neck ebony - which, I grant you would not look as good, but I always pick ebony as a neck tone wood, when I have a choice.

Congratulations to Takamine for another beautiful Legacy Series instrument.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hearty Thank You!

Yes, I'm back.

Thank you for all the emails and DMs on Twitter.  

It's quite a rough battle, emotionally, after the left wrist fracture.  I'm trying to ward off depression with a 4 - 5 mile walk every day.  I guess it's holding back the very worst of the blues, but my frame of mind and the reality that I will probably never get my chops back is proving a hard thing for me.  That being written, let me move on to what this blog was always intended to be: a source of good info for guitarists of all levels of interest and accomplishment.

I don't think I have looked at this blog since March.  I won't go into the details of my excruciating nerve pain while casted, nor the woefully short results of OT, at this point. I have been updating my web site month by month, and the  August update has a few new/changed pages.   I used to have a link that took you to, but now it takes you to an internal Raptor Picks pages.  And if you haven't yet tried Raptors, this is your lucky month!  I'm having a flash sale for  4 + 1 free and 8 + 2 free Raptors at over 30% off.  Now is the time to stock up, if you use them, or try them, if the price gave you pause.  They are genuine Raptor R Series picks, first quality, individually packaged and unused.  The link to the Flash Sale is here.  You'll also find a couple of other picks on that page, too.   All sales are safe and secure, through PayPal

My hand and wrist swell terribly when I "play," which is just a nice way of saying "guitar therapy."  I can't not play, so I'm having to play every other day, just to allow the excessive swelling to reduce before going back at it.  To say it's frustrating is a huge understatement.  I really have to put fresh DRs on all my guitars.  They sound so dead, which isn't helping my frame of mind at all.  If you haven't tried DRs, you really have to.  They are be finest string I've ever used, and I have tried just about all of them, including some European imports.

Maybe it's my imagination, but I don't ever recall the music over the speakers in the common areas of my apartment building being B. B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Al Di Meola, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Slash or any other guitar luminaries PRIOR to my fracture.  Now, it seems like that's all they play.  Maybe it's my perception, but I think it's true.

Have you been reading about NAMM?  It was a week or 2 ago.  Sounds like it was another very successful show. 

I will be foraging through  guitar company emails for my next post/s. There are a lot of great things emerging from the top companies.

Thanks, again, for all the DMs and emails.  I will be back in some regular fashion beginning next week.  This week is a brain melter, so I won't be back to blogging until the weekend, at the earliest.  After that, I hope to resume posting on my previous schedule.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hey, Joe

I had a question, a few weeks ago, from Joseph, by email.  He wrote:

I follow your podcast and I think they a great. Thank you so much for all the information. I wish I lived closer to have you as a teacher. 

My question is do you think the PRS SE Single Cut is a good guitar. I know you often said you love the PRS brand and most of the PRS guitars you have played are good. 
Partly based on that and other research I purchase the guitar used at Sam Ash but found it a little twangy or higher pitch than most guitars I played. I did not hear it to well at the store because they had a band playing. It looks beautiful. Maybe it needs new DR strings? Maybe it needs a setup? I paid about $265.00. I thought it was a good deal. What do you think? 
Thanks in advance. I really value your opinion. 

BTW, if you ever travel to Sparta NJ. Please let me know. I think you would be a great teacher. 

Thanks, Joseph.

I love. love, love, love love PRS guitars.  You've heard me say it on podcasts, and it's true.   You may or may not have also make reference to my affinity for warm, round sound.  I'm not a fan of "twangy" guitars, and I haven't ever heard a truly "twangy" PRS.  If the guitar you purchased sounds really tinny, of course, throw on a set of DR Strings. In my opinion. they make every guitar sound better.  But they may not hold the full answer.

I don't know how "used" the guitar is.  If you have a good luthier or guitar tech nearby, I'd check the pots and the rest of the electronics.  A loose wire or other faulty connection can radically alter the sound production,  While you're at it, set you amp for a clean sound, to hear the guitar's true quality.  

Another possibility is that you're hearing the result of your guitar being dehydrated, because it's winter in NJ.  If you listened to my podcast with any frequency, you know that I'm a proponent of humidifier usage.  Have you been humidifying?  If at some high fret, you just hear a squeaky screech, and you hear the same thing on the next higher fret without any difference in sound, you have either a high fret and/or a badly dehydrated neck.  Do the edges of the frets protrude a teeny bit out of the sides of the neck?  That's another sure sign of dehydration.  The neck may also need an adjustment.   I'd check all these things before I believed I had the only "twangy" PRS in existence.  

Do put fresh DRs on and, why don't you try Raptor Picks? The thickest edge will warm up a treble-heavy ax.

Still Alive (AKA The Walking Wounded)

It has been forever!! i have a few draft posts that are in various states of completion, but for now, I'm going to allow them to hibernate or percolate, depending upon my next few weeks.  Yes, I took a break, but had every intention of getting back to regular blogging in January.  There were quite a few distractions that prevented it.

Fast forward to last week, the 20th of February...  a day I will regret for a long, long, long time.  I had an appointment that I was looking forward to keeping, that Thursday morning.  The weather, here in the NY metro area, has been riddled with deep snowfall, mixed precipitation, some rain, re-freezes etc.  I was being attentive to the icy coating on the sidewalk, so I avoided it, by walking on what appeared to be a bone dry, pristine driveway.   Boy, was I wrong.   I slipped, fell and broke my LEFT WRIST in 3 places.   Of course I didn't know that, at the time.  All I knew was that it was deformed and my hand was in the shape of a weird claw that I couldn't open. The first thing I did was to pull my wedding ring off, because I've seen too many TV scenes in which the rings on swelling fingers have to be cut off and seriously endanger the health of the finger in question.  Ugh.

I wasn't the only one who fell that day.   The ER waiting room held no less than 25, but probably more than 30 people waiting to be seen. One did not have an obvious injury from falling on ice that morning but the rest were cradling arms, wrists, shoulder, had extended leg or head injuries.  

The ER glut resulted in a 4/4.5 hour visit.  When I left it, my wrist had been X-rayed, diagnosed as being triple fractured, numbed, reset, splint casted extremely tightly and  X-rayed  again after the resetting and  splint casting.  I was sent home with a sling, a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever and was told that if the bones shift, I will need surgery and if they remain aligned as they were in the post-compression X-ray, I would not need surgery.

This past Tuesday, I had a series of follow up X-rays and saw the orthopedic hand/wrist specialist on Wednesday.  So far, so good.  The bones are still aligned.  More X-rays will be taken Wednesday and I will see the orthopedist on  Friday.

My left arm is at a 45ยบ angle because the splint cast goes over and around my elbow and covers everything to just short of where my fingers begin.  As uncomfortable as I am, I will gladly trade all this misery for the full use of my wrist and hand when this is all over.  That, remains to be seen.  Of late, I have taken to "fingering" scales in the air, just to keep my fingers moving (such as they can move) and "sight reading" fingering and playing by ear in my mind.  I don't know how far into occupational therapy, I will be able to tax the wrist to the extent that playing requires.  

I will follow this post with a reply to an email question I received.  I may not be blogging much more before I graduate to a short cast, which may be as soon as this or next Friday.

Sorry for the ultra-extended interruption.  Stay tuned for updates.