Monday, January 31, 2011

P-Bass Progress Update

When I started playing bass years ago I purchased a forest green Ibanez TR 70 (same model as the one shown to the left). It was a great beginners bass, it was simple to play, light weight, and it looked pretty decent. I used it exclusively in high school with different bands I played with, as well as throughout college.

Around 2007, it occurred to me that I'm probably not going to become a rock star, so I decided to sell off some of my excess gear to buy... more excess gear. I sold two amps at that time, a vintage 70's MusicMan HD-130 (which I regret) and a Dean Markley bass amp that I'm glad to be rid of. The individual who purchased my Dean amp tried it out with my TR 70, and by the end of the evening, convinced me to sell it as well. Even though the bass wasn't for sale, I let my greed get the better of me and sold the bass for double what I paid for it when it was new.

I searched for a few months to find a replacement bass, and ended up with an Epiphone Thunderbird. It was hands down the coolest looking instrument I've ever owned, not to mention it sounded fantastic. That being said, it was incredibly heavy, hard to play, and very top heavy, making it really hard to play standing up for an extended period of time. I tinkered with it quite a bit to improve the playability, but finally came to the conclusion that I never should have sold the TR 70.

Now don't get me wrong, the TR 70 wasn't perfect by any means, the pickups were weak, the pots crackled, the knobs were cheap plastic, and the tuners didn't hold tune all that well. On the other hand the weight, balance, and playability were impeccable. Unfortunately for me, I sold the TR 70 before I had entered the world modding my instruments, and now realize that I could have easily fixed everything I didn't like about the bass.

Now back to my current project, when I first ran my hand down the neck, my first impression was that it felt exactly like my TR 70. The radius and neck profile are spot on, as is the scale. Because of this, I have decided to, in a way, attempt to rebuild the bass I never should have sold.

Here is a mock-up of what I'm planning on attempting:

I'm sticking with the same pickup and control configuration as the TR 70. A jazz pickup at the bridge, and a precision pickup in the middle. Likewise, I'm going with the three knob configuration that the Ibanez had, two volumes and one tone. If you purchase a Fender Deluxe P-Bass, they come with two volumes and two tones, but I think that's excess. Both basses I have owned in the past had the three knob configuration and worked great. Additionally, I think the forth knob looks goofy.

I'm going to move the input jack to the side of the body, same spot as a Tele, because I absolutely hate input jacks on the top of an instrument.

Finally I have chosen to go with a Vintage White finish (it's supposed to be an easy color to spray), and a brown tortoise shell pickguard. The addition of the thumb guard is purely for aesthetics, since I doubt I'll actually use it, but it just looks so cool.

Now that they layout and cosmetics have been planned, it's time to start routing and the body, wish me luck.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

P-Bass Build 2011!

Christmas 2010 was a great one for me, full of all kinds of guitar goodies (yes, I do realize Christmas was over a month ago...). I received a bunch of new reading material, auto-biographies by George Martin (the fifth Beatle) and George Fullerton (Leo Fender's partner in crime). As for effects, I received a Danelectro Cool Cat Tremolo, very cool for when you're in a smooth 60's mood. And last, but not least (this is actually the most important since it is the main topic of the post) a Saga P-Bass kit from my amazing wife Katie :)

For about a year now, I've been very interested in "building" (I realize this is a kit and not a true build, but hey I've got to start somewhere) my own guitar, or in this case bass. I think I caught the building bug when I started modding my Tele. I really love having a guitar that sounds, looks and plays exactly like I want it to... especially if I can do it for a fraction of the cost of buying a custom guitar.

Upon opening the Bass kit, I was very impressed by the quality of the body and the neck. This bass truly is ready to be assembled with minimal knowledge required. Of course I don't know how to do anything the easy way, so this bass will certainly have a few of my own modifications added to increase the difficult of the project, but increase the awesomeness of the final product (assuming I don't screw everything up).

All of the hardware required is included, although I'm sure the quality is similar to that of a Squier or any other cheap import bass.

The full length of the bass is 46 1/2", it is 12 3/4" at the widest point, and approximately 1 3/4" thick. It has 20 frets, and measures to be a 34" scale. As far as I can gather, this is pretty much right on with a Fender Precision Bass.

The body seems to be routed and sanded very nicely, there is one ding on the top of it, but it is under the bridge, so doesn't really matter much. The pickguard was installed when I received the kit, but I have removed it here to show the body routes.

I'm sure this new project will take me several months to complete, but I will meticulously document my progress here. Please feel free to add any suggestions as I go!


I'm back!!!

That's right, I'm back and blogging happier than ever! It has been a while, and several of you (meaning my two faithful readers) have asked when I was going to get back to the blog, and I'm here to announce that 2011 is the year that all of my visions for GuitarGuyTim are to be unveiled!

For starters, I have 10 or so posts that I started last year and never completed. These include reviews of all three major Weezer releases from the fall of 2010, as well as a few other musical insights. Additionally I'm adding a new page/thread which will document my adventures in guitar building. I hope you're as excited as I am about my adventures into the unknown.

Finally, and most importantly, I have some new musical releases that need to see their time in the sun... Right now I'm looking at a copy of CAKE's latest, and I'm listening to Get Up Kids latest. It is going to be an exciting year ladies, gentleman and Emo Children, I hope you're ready for the ride!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

iTunes, You Sneaky Devil...

So iTunes... For those of you who either know me, or have read a handful of my posts, you know how much I hate music's communist regime, also know as Apple (this includes iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPods, all of Apple's funky file types, etc.). So the question is, how did I, the anti-Apple, find myself not only at the gates of the iTunes Music Store, but actually downloading AAC files? Well friends, it is a long tail of deception, deceit, and falling from grace... or... I got $25 to the iTunes store for Christmas and decided to find out what it felt like to dip my toe into the forbidden pond of darkness.

So why do I hate the Apple-Machine so much? Well for starters it makes me sick to think that people pay the same amount of money to buy a digital version of an album online as they'd pay in a brick and mortar store. Sure they didn't have to leave their house to get the music, but they don't have a physical copy, and the sound quality is inferior. That being said, I do think it is better you buy inferior music, than steal inferior music.

Anyway, last fall I had a dilemma. As you probably already know, I love Weezer. Not just 90's Weezer, but all Weezer. Yes even Make Believe and Raditude. I am a die-hard Weezerhead. When Weezer came out with Raditude, they launched a special iTunes club that not only included the deluxe version of the album, but also included alternate takes, live tracks, videos, etc. Obviously I wanted all of this material, but I didn't want to have to buy the album twice (because I was already going to buy the physical version) just to get the bonus tracks. So the dilemma came into play, do I A: suck it up and submit to the evil known as iTunes, or do I B: Steal the mp3's? Fortunately there was an intervention, thanks to my mother-in-law and grandma-in-law, I walked away from Christmas with $25 in iTunes credit. Woohoo, Weezer iTunes club here I come.

So last week I finally got around to installing iTunes on to my computer and I set up my iTunes account (I was a little bit irritated that I was forced to give Apple my CC# just to set up an account). Then I was off to downloading my newest Weezer (Rivers, Brian, Pat & Scott, I want you to know that this is your fault, you create your crazy Raditude club pass which includes bonus tracks and videos, thus forcing me to not only buy a physical copy of the said album, but to also buy a communistic digital version).

So what did I think? Well it was super convenient, and the music quality is better than I expected (it should be noted that I've only listened through headphones and my laptop speakers thus far). I was less than impressed with the way Apple organized all of the files. Each week is set up as an individual album, so I have Raditude Club Week #1, Raditude Club Week #2, and so on. Couldn't they have just created a Raditude Club album/folder for all of the tracks? Also, what's up with these crazy AAC files that only play on authorized computers? Thank you for that headache Apple.

In conclusion, I'm not sold yet. I'm not going to give up physical discs for iTunes, although I will gladly accept more iTunes Gift Cards. I do think iTunes makes it very convenient to make those One Hit Wonders of the 90's collections (Just for the record, I have never made it past track 4 on my Deep Blue Something album. Instead of pulling it out of the used bin and paying $2.99 for it, I should have just purchased "Breakfast at Tiffany's" from iTunes... or wait, should I have purchased it from Amazon MP3? That's going to be my next adventure in the digital world. As far as I know Amazon's tracks aren't protected, so you can listen to there anywhere, but I have heard rumors that their sound quality is inferior to iTunes. That alone would be a deal breaker... I'll keep you updated since I know you're dying to hear about my adventures in digital music.


P.S. One of these days I'll get around to reviewing all of the bonus Weezer tracks, but for now I think it's sufficient to say that I loved several of the bonus tracks, especially the alternate "rock" version of "Can't Stop Partying (Coconut Teaser Mix)." The bonus tracks definitely made it worth my while to re-purchasing/download all the stuff I already own.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gotta Keep the Masses Happy

So I've been getting pretty high tech lately when it comes to my blog. I've added some analytic tracking so I can see what keywords are leading people here. One that has driven a decent amount of traffic is, "guitars used on haarp" and/or "guitars used in haarp." Since I'm pretty sure I haven't actually written about Muse's gear, I figured I better write up a quick post for the Google-driven-masses.

So here we go, Matthew Bellamy uses an assortment of custom built guitars by Hugh Manson of Manson Guitars. Since he pretty much changes guitars with every song, I'm not going to go through all the different models, but they are all Manson's. For more details on Matt's guitar specs, check out his guitar page on Manson's site here.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme has an assortment of basses in his collection including both Fender Jass and Precision basses, custom built Mansons, Rickenbackers, and several others. I popped in the H.A.A.R.P. DVD to see what he's playing in the videos. On Map of the Problamatique and Knights of Cydonia, he is using a Rickenbacker 4003FL. For Time is Running Out, Supermassive Black Hole, Plug in Baby, Butterflies and Hurricanes, Hysteria, Invincible, and possibly others, he is using a red Fender Jazz bass. He also uses two other Jazz basses, a black one on New Born, and a white one on Starlight. Later on for Micro Cuts he uses a blue bass which I'm pretty sure is a custom built Manson (I could be wrong though, I can't get a clear view of it, but I'm pretty sure the headstock in a Manson).

Anyway, there you go as for H.A.A.R.P. guitars. If I have missed any, please let me know and I'll update the list.


p.s. Next time we're going to be discussing Rivers Cuomos' gear (Franken-Strats, SG's, Explorers... it's gonna be fun!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

"The Decision" Update

Wednesday - "Hole in My Soul" Aerosmith (I'm not sure why Aerosmith has hit the list twice now, it's not like I'm a huge fan... for a while I even removed them from my Creative Nomad Mp3 Player).

Thursday - "Where is My Mind" The Pixies

Friday (today) - "San Dimas High School Football Rules" The Ataris

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Decision...

Wow, it has been like 3 months since my last post. I sure hope my lack of updates hasn't lost me my two faithful followers...

So today's topic is what I like to call "The Decision." It goes something like this, each morning I go to work and open my iTunes (I know, for how much I bash Apple, I use iTunes at work...) and brows through my list of nearly 9500 songs. I almost always leave my music on random play, so the decision comes in here, what do I start my random play with for the day? Sounds like a simple decisions doesn't it? But it isn't! The pattern of my entire day could be based on this decision. There are days, and I'm not kidding when I say this, where I literally take 30 minutes to make the decision (mind you, I am checking emails while making the decision, I don't just sit there and stare at iTunes for 30 mins with a blank expression on my face).

It was recommended by a friend that I just pick any song, and then hit the skip button and let iTunes randomly pick the song. This does sounds like a good idea, but do I really want to leave my entire day up to chance?

So my question is: Does anyone else deal with "The Decision" every morning, or am i just totally insane?

Here is a list of "The Decision" winners for last week/this week:

Monday 2/1 "Amazing" Aerosmith
Tuesday 2/2 "Rock You Like a Hurrican" Scorpians
Wednesday 2/3 "Put Me Back Together" Weezer
Thursday 2/4 Home Grown When It All Comes Down, the entire EP
Friday 2/5 "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" U2
Monday 2/8 "Good Times, Bad Times" Led Zeppelin
Tuesday 2/9 "Rock and Roll Lifestyle" CAKE