Category Archives: Audio

Guitars n gear!

It’s probably fair to say that I’m a bit of a guitar anorak. I’m the sort of person who can’t walk past a music shop window without having a good look, or getting itchy fingers if someone else is playing one. I originally started learning on a Yamaha 12 string guitar which I borrowed from my next door neighbour Jaemey who was really into the smashing pumkins.

Shame really as he’s a nice bloke. The first guitar I actually bought was a really crappy Encore accoustic from Argos (that warped within about 9 months if i remember rightly) and a black squire strat that I still have in the loft which makes my fingers bleed.

Anyway, nowadays I have a really funky collection of guitars that I’m always adding to! Next is a nice accoustic, and then maybe a Gibson SG………….

GUITARS

tn_danelectroDanelectro 1956 Reissue electric guitar
This is my main guitar and definately the main reason why I’ve gotten back into playing again after hardly doing so over the last 4-5 years. I purchased it for £229 and it’s the best thing I’ve bought for a very long time. It’s very easy to play, has wonderful action and a very varied and distinctive tone. I would go as far to say that this guitar is probably the inspiration that not only got me to play again, but also badger Alex into doing music again after so long.

tn_fenderFender Stratocaster Electric Guitar – Japanese custom body.
Originally the property of a certain Mr A L Baldy, I always loved this guitar because of it’s funky look and indeed the very funky set up. It’s brilliant for snappy riffs and rhythm, plus it has some guts for a nice Hendrix type of sound with the right gear. I remember almost crying when Al sold this to our mutual friend Glen, who promptly used it on a couple of his tracks and sold it to me for £150. Ding dang do.

tn_pacificaYamaha Pacifica 12 String Electric Guitar
This was originally bought for the ‘Absurds’ (Beatles parody) recordings that Alex undertook for Jack. Git. The guitar itself is very easy to play for a 12 string, in fact you’d be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t a 12 string at all when you play it. The tone is absolutely perfect for emulating the ‘Hard Days Night’ sort of sound the Beatles had then, or like on ‘Hey Mr Tambourine man’ covered by The Byrds. Unlike the old saying, they do make them like they used to, although having checked since they no longer produce these at Yamaha so they’re quite collectable. Spider-man tremelo bar is optional.

tn_kimbaraKimbara Les Paul (Copy) Electric Guitar
Alex’s first guitar, sadly suffered with a damaged output jack so I got it repaired. It’s cool and sounds the nuts through a Marshall amp due to the pickups. Stupidly easy to play, nice wide neck for my small stubby fingers. The guy in the guitar shop didn’t want to give it back, so I impaled him on a poncy Ibanez. This is definately from the 1970’s as well, Japanese issue. I hope I can afford a soundproof detached house one day so that I can play this LOUD at 3am one morning when I can’t sleep.

tn_ariaproAria Pro II Electro-Accoustic Guitar
I bought this off of Alex for £150 back when I had my crappy Squire Strat and Encore Accoustic. It was my first decent guitar and although it needs a little fret repair now, you can still get a great sound out of it when playing open tuning and a little slide guitar. After the Les Paul copy is fixed I think i’ll get this repaired as well!

tn_ovationOvation Applause Electro-Accoustic Guitar
This guitar was absolutely brilliant for putting into a desk directly and getting an acoustic sound, but without amplification it was also pretty duff compared to a dedicated acoustic guitar. So I sold it.

tn_luthrieArt Lutherie – Cherry Red Accoustic Guitar
Al bought this lovely cherry red Art Luthrie acoustic back from a trip in Wales and for reasons unknown it was in my gig bag without a nut or a bridge saddle. I do remember buying it off of him but can’t recall how bits went missing, I would imagine though that I was put off with the idea of paying out for repair costs and just left it. I’m glad to say my mindset in that regards is quite different now, I enjoy trying to investigate and fix things so I invested in a new nut and saddle from ebay, filed and prepared them and then glued back on.So for the grand total of £5 I got the glue, nut and saddle and restored a very funky guitar! How chuffed am I!??!

 

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MAIN AMP – 1974 Fender Twin Reverb Amp

tn_fendertwin2Back when I was about 18 or so Alex and I popped to Crystal Palace in view to raiding our favourite retro guitar shop for new gadgets. Al stumbled upon this original 1974 Fender Pro Twin Reverb amp and snapped it up for a very reasonable sum indeed. Given how collectable they are, and also the qualify of sound they produce I felt very lucky having access to one when we’d jam back at Limes Road Studios.

tn_twinvalvesAlex decided to sell after clearing out a load of things and I gladly took it off his hands (I always felt it’d be mine someday!!!), the spring reverb and vibrato settings give a retro sound which just can’t be reproduced unless you are using the sort of valves which are built into the amp. Speaking of which, when I brought it back from Al’s last night I had to do a makeshift fiddle/repair with one after I only got reduced power on the vibrato channel.

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So Long – Antikrish Music Archives

I had a couple of hours to kill tonight; so I decided to have a rummage through my old music archives in a bid to try and get a bit of inspiration for 2013 compositions.

I eventually stumbled upon a 15 year old mic test of an old song called ‘So Long’, this version is just an acoustic guitar and Alex’s vocal (2 out of 3 verses are present, without the bridge).

I still remember writing this song on my 20th birthday; Alex and I traded lines of lyric in quick succession and we put the chord structure together in about 30 minutes.

Hopefully my songwriting this year will be just as inspired.

CLICK TO PLAY

‘Frank’ – Work in progress – Demo Take 1

I woke up today and  fancied doing a spot of music; I ended up further developing ‘Frank’ (working title, thanks Paul).  ‘Frank’ is a continuation of the C Major tuned guitar idea that I had before I took my trip to the States in October.

Today presented a few recording challenges (as always) because I haven’t got a pair of headphones and had to find levels and mix the master using in-ear earphones and that’s never a good thing!  I also have a blister the size of a jelly tot on my middle finger thanks to the glissando riff within the song!  Definitely need to practice more too to build my calluses back up!

The demo is guitars only, and I used the following on the track:

  • Cort Acoustic guitar for the main pick guitar and rhythm accompaniment
  • Danelectro guitar using my mini Orange amp with a bit of distortion on it for a high end chord/drone sound (the mini Orange amp is amazing!)
  • Danelectro with the Electro Harmonix sitar pedal

I’m going to think up a heavy drum pattern this week and do it all again with percussion at some point this month as I think it’ll sound much better with a big wall of sound and groove driving it!

Here we are anyway, a work in progress as usual! 

Orange Mini Crush Amp

Hey true believers!

Just wanted to recommend the Mini Crush amp made by Orange; I think it’s bloody fantastic and extremely good value for money!

I originally bought the Vox AC4 mini amp because I wanted a tiny practice amp; my Fender Twin is gorgeous but I wanted something small which I could plug in late at night without disturbing the neighbourhood.  Sadly, the Vox didn’t work when it arrived so I sent it back; I was pretty gutted because I’d read some fab reviews about it. Oh well, you win some you lose some!?!

Dolphin music were utterly fantastic in the returns process (I got my Tascam from them as well), and by chance I happened to notice that they were also offering the Orange Mini Crush at £25. “So I thought what the hell!”.

The first thing that you notice about the Orange amp is the build quality.  It is superbly designed and put together with a wood surround, authentic Orange fabric speaker grill and had robust volume/tone pots.  The whole thing impressed me as soon as I got it out of the box.

I plugged in my Danelectro and was amazed to see the built in LED tuner work so well; then I whacked up the volume to a quarter and fiddled with the tone and……hey presto!!! What a sound!!!  Over the weekend, I’ve really put the Mini Crush through it’s paces, it sounds fantastic at varying volumes and you can overdrive it relatively easily for a ‘hot’ tone which is pukka!

At just over 10 inches high and wide, and 3-4 inches depth; the Orange is a gutsy little thing which really rocks!!!

The Anglo-Indian in my smirks when I consider that I was going to pay £169.00 for the Vox AC4; I say again, £25!!!! It’s astounding that this thing runs off of a 9v battery.

Buy one now; you schlaaaaag!

Instrumental – 15th of August, 2009

Our day of music went rather well; my new Cort acoustic was put to good use and ideas for 3 or 4 good songs came out of a pretty relaxed and lazy session. Emphasis on the word lazy……but rather funky.

I do agree with Alex though, in that it’s so much simpler working with acoustic instruments. You can sit down in the kitchen and ‘twang’, pop to another room and ‘doo doo diddly doo’ and even sit in the bath with it if you want and ‘skee woop pingggggggg brrroooo ziiiiiing flying machine!’. And that’s pretty much what we did for most of the morning; without the bath bit obviously.

Alex showed off his rather snazzy rock/surf guitar effort which I now have to try and learn before we meet up again for our next recording session. It’s bloody good.

There was also a nice jazzy thing which we ended up digressing into during a quick jam. Great.

‘Jam-fest’ (fair trade jam, made without the exploitation of white farmers) eventually inspired a rather nice instrumental that I put onto the Tascam. I found 3 really simple chords to go with something Alex had found and put 3 overdub guitars on top of that with a bit of percussion; all the while Alex sleepily provided musical direction whilst slumped into a very comfy looking chair.

INSTRUMENTAL – Take 1 (CLICK TRIANGLE TO PLAY)

I stupidly left home without a microphone stand which lead is to improvise somewhat and come up with what is quite possibly the greatest studio innovation of all time; Alex Micman (picture below!).

Al literally sat holding the AKG microphone during the whole recording process which was rather funny from my point of view as he kept nodding off; at one point I realised the sound had gone a bit shite and Alex eventually realised he’d turned the mic around the wrong way. Saying that, how many song writers do you know are THAT good that they can record in their sleep eh?

Some footage below showing me playing the chords.

Parental Guidence – Use of the word ‘Bollocks’ is involved during the recording of this video.

Thank you.

Movin’ On – Full Version

CLICK TO PLAY

The lyrics to ‘Movin’ On’ were written on a lunchbreak whilst I was working at Boots, I seem to recall Alex being on hols or something because he wasn’t in at the time. I remember rushing over to his after my shift had finished rather excited with what I’d written.

I’ve always loved the blues and it’s Delta origins, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Elmore James are huge influences of mine; and the daddy of them all would have to be Willie Dixon; the most prolific blues songwriter ever. Sorry, geeky hero worship moment over.

We recorded this in Alex’s front room, both of us on chairs with the AKG microphone on a stand. Alex clapped and sang, I played the simple blues bar chords on my very first acoustic guitar made by Encore (sold by Argos). I loved that guitar and carried it everywhere with me; which is probably why it warped. Halfway through the song you can begin to hear it go out of tune (around 2 minutes or so in).

That said, I love the tone of the guitar and how old it sounds. Alex’s vocals are nice and raw; both of us end up singing the gospel/humming type thing at the end which is pure gold.

Oh yes, and Alex’s guitar solo overdub rocks.

You Stink! – Full Version

CLICK TO PLAY

This was another originally written by us (inspired because of our mutual appreciation of for Funk with a capital F) during a period where I’d literally just started playing guitar and had to make do providing crap backing vocals (1995 latest) and helping out with the recording etc because I wasn’t capable of playing such simple (but effective) riffs.

All that aside, I still think this is a bloody cool track and again pretty much embodies the sort of fun we’d have doing music back in the day. It’s also one of the few times I’ve lent my tone deaf vocals onto a song and been proud of it.

I have also included some of the studio chatter at the end which I thought was rather funny; Alex had the uncanny ability of getting a cold when he needed to pop a vocal on and I love the impatience in his voice when asking for a playback. Good times.

You’re white, you’re pink, and baby, you stink! GET DOWN!