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05/19/19

I have two acoustic guitars back from hospital.

fixed

On the left- a 1969 Gibson LG0. On the right- a 1974 Takamine F400 12 string. While neither of these is some kind of highly-sought-after classic, they are both good mid-level guitars... when they are playable. The problem has been that for years neither of them were.

In both cases the action was too high and the intonation was off. With the Tak it was pretty much what you'd espect from a mid level 12 string that hadn't been well cared for- the neck had bowed beyond the point where truss rod adjustments would straighten it. The Gibson was a little bit worse.

heel

The action was high, and the bridge already as low as it could go, which indicated that the neck would need to be reset. But the fact that the heel had broken (and been "repaired) before indicated that this would be tougher to do than normal. Also too was a crack in the top-

top

-and something I don't have a picture of, which was that the back had separated from the sides along the bottom. I have no idea why I bought this guitar in that condition, but it spoke to me somehow. And then it sat around for years, unplayable.

It just happened that when I had the funds to pay for repairs, the guy I wanted to do them was available. Jeff Hostetter runs Stringed Instrument Repairs out of Red Lion these days. I guess I've known about him since my bluegrass days in the 1970's, and he ran a shop in New Freedom in Southern York county for years. I've long admired his skills at repair and construction.

So now my guitars are back! Each of them totally playable, with good intonation and no more nasty cracks...

heel

top

The 12-string sounds big and strummy just like it should, and I can actually play barre chords right up the neck! The little Gibson sounds small, and doesn't have the warmth of some of it's predecessors, but it plays like an electric and responds to being hammered on without falling apart. It's got its own kind of soul, and I'm thinking it may be great replacement for my old Epiphone which inspired many tunes.

Now I guess I'll be stuck changing two more sets of strings every year...
05/13/19

More happy hunting today-

em 200

This little gem is the perfect replacement for the old Carvin box PA that Dr Mo gifted me. That one blew up- most undramatically, I must say. I left it turned on overnight a week or two ago, and the next time I tried using it- no sound. Lights, but no sound. No hum, no "thump", nothing. I actually opened it up and poked and stroked, but nothing. Well, it had been in very poor condition anyways.

I've recently seen many good deals on box PA's on Craigs, but they were all gone when I went looking- except for this antique. It's from the late 1970's- what is that, 40 years ago? It was from an estate sale guy, and it was difficult to set up the meet, but meet we did, and it was interesting. I had never been to Reinholds before, or very many of the other towns on the Northern Bypass. At the appointed time, in front of the appointed brick building, I met with the dealer's daughter, a recent graduate with a degree in (I believe it was) bible-based therapy. Until she lands a real gig, she's helping dad.

I had brought along a mic, a speaker, and the necessary cables to test this thing- as you may remember I already had ONE non-functional mixer/amplifier. I plugged everything in while making small talk and then started "hunsting". (hunsting is an expression I learned from Brian Pfahl, which is that thing you do when you plug a mic into a mixing board and see if it makes)

Powered up, lights on. On the first couple of hunsts I got nothing- no meter bounce, no sound. Not looking real good here. I hunsted a little louder. Louder. I cranked it up and really hunsted into it with a purpose- wham! Luckily I was ready at the faders. This is what you call breakover, and it's not uncommon for electronics which haven't seen much use. You literally have to send enough voltage through the circuit to "break over" the oxide which has formed on the connections inside. But once you give those electrons a path, it works.

I went through a couple of channels just to be sure it was in as good of shape as it appeared to be, then I made the offer- will you take 20% less than you'd listed it for? A citizen would have gotten all huffy at this point, but the daughter of the estate sale guy immediately said "yes". We both walked away happy.

In the moonbase, can of tuner cleaner at the ready, and you kno what? Every channel works, with just a bit of scratchiness on the pan pots. I put the Fagan CD through it and did a little fussing with the eq. 75 Charlies per channel, the sucker gets lawd! And it has that Yamaha flat sound, which is what you want to hear, actually, instead of "color", from vintage gear sometimes.

tremelo

And this was the second find of the day. Oddly enough, it was just a mile or two from Reinholds where I met the owner, and was handed the pedal by his young son, who said he thought we were silly. I admit to it!

05/12/19

stoit pockets 1

When this project started I had two grey tops made- then realized that the latch pockets weren't big enough. Today I went back to those tops and enlarged the pockets using a hand router with a straight 3/8" bit.

stoit pockets 2

This is my 16th pocket, by which time I was getting better hitting the lines freehanded. Actually turned out to be easier than drilling holes for the latch turners. I screwed up a hole location on each top. Do you think it's a coincidence that Bondo is grey?

stoit screwup

I'll need to break out the paint set and try to match this better.

As promised, here's a sto.it with a shelf innit. Notching the front corners of the .81" thick shelf with a hand router was a bit scary. Those routers will jump if you get a little careless.
For these deep cuts I used a carpenter square as a fence and plugged away with 1/4" depth cuts, trying to move as machine-like as I could. It's exciting when the whirling blades are hanging out there about an inch.

stoit shelf

All of the routing was done on top of this sto.it held in place with four wheel stops. Nothing moved. The plastic (vinyl?) laminate on these tops also grips flat stock well, but sadly is prone to tears, cuts, and abrasions. Not the best for woodworking.

Here's three potentially groovy colors for the outsides...

stoit pallette

05/11/19

I've finally gotten all the latches and casters installed on the first two sto.it storage units.

stoit pair 09

Here they are, latched together back to front. Whatever may be stored in the back unit is closed from sight, while the front unit remains open.

stoit pair 10

Here they are connected front to front, closing off the contents from view.

stoit pair 05

Side by side, they are a wide storage unit and a long work surface. Add as many more as you like!

stoit pair 06

The open sides can be staggered, if that is what you need...

stoit pair 07

...or connect them side to back, or side to front, forming a "T" shaped work surface.

Next: interior shelves, drawers, alternative tops, and fun exterior colors.
05/05/19

Good day hunting...

mojo and prophet

These are both unique and interesting effects. The Prophet is a digital delay, capable of really long delays, and of infinite repeats which do not go screaming over the top like every other delay, but which seem to just get louder without breaking apart. Not sure how to describe it- but it's that thing where you turn the repeat on a delay all the way up and quickly learn not to? On this pedal, you can do that! It also sounds like a really lush reverb with the repeats up and a short delay... big fun, clean.

The MOJOMOJO is a sweet little distortion unit. It doesn't get harsh, it stays crunchy in drive. The tone controls don't go to extremes, but they do make a difference, and there's a "voice" switch which is even more subtle. It can run on a battery, and I think it's my next goto distortion box.

Oh, has anybody seen my gal?

AV-1

Lost or stolen a couple of years back, and I thought, well, I'll just replace it someday, but I cannot find one anywhere. It's a cross between a chorus and a flanger, and it makes really cool things happen, but it seems that nobody has ever heard of the thing. Please return it to me, no questions asked...
05/03/19

evans

Listening closely to this album tonight. This version has 2 1/2 million listens, so it's doing pretty well for a jass recording. Especially one that's so old- 1961.

I know very little about jazz, but it's all out there, the great and the sad stories. I am content just listening closely, and it's clear that at this moment these three guys- Bill Evans, Paul Motian (drums) and Scott La Faro (bass) had it going on. The fact that La Faro was shortly to die tragically young, which was to send Evans into a bit of a funk, is just one of those stories.

But the recording is evidence of the time and the place, of the technology and how people related to music. I like that there are fingerprints on it, and while it's all very cleanly recorded, I've noticed at least three and probably more different mic setups during the session. You might think that having only three instruments to record would make things easy, but that isn't so. A jazz trio (really, any kind of trio) may be the hardest thing to get right- in stereo.

I'm not sure how the actual day went down, which tracks came first, when they took breaks from recording and such, but the album here starts off with one of those strange, early 60's stereo fields, with the piano hard right and the bass to the left, and the drums sort of spread across the entire thing. It's distracting, but I thought, well, maybe if you just want to concentrate on Bill it's OK... if you turn off the left speaker? It doesn't sound like a group, just three people that happen to be playing in the same room.

But of course, it may have been that they took a while to warm up that day. After the first 1/2 hour you can hear more and more chatter from the audience, off to the left in the mix. The booze is doing its thing. I like to think that they took a break after Jade Visions, at which time the recordist rolled back and listened to what he was getting and thought, my god, no! When Israel starts up at 42:07 the mix is completely different.

Now the piano, while still to the right, is definitely in stereo, with the mid and lower octaves to the center. The drums are in your face, while still spread across the stereo field, and the bass has been shunted back, slightly to the left. Audience noise has- sadly, in my opinion- disappeared, along with most of the room ambience. This leads me to believe that the mics got a lot closer to the piano and drums, and the bass lost its dedicated microphone. Maybe the bass mic went into the piano!

Don't get me wrong, the bass still sounds great, it just isn't nearly as strong as it was. If you like drums best, this section is for you. They are nicely panned and crispy.

This mix takes us up through How Deep is the Ocean, but as if answering that question, I Wish I Knew reverses direction. The piano has jumped over to the left, and the bass is more central. Could be that they just weren't paying close attention when they mastered the thing, but in addition to that the high hat has moved dead center, so it seems as if another mix setup was done. (You must remember that these live things were recorded on two or maybe three track recorders on those days, so panning decisions had to be made during the recording of the music)

Finally, the last track sort of reverts to the second set-up, but with the bass moved in closer. This seems to me to be the perfect mix! Sad that it only came about on the last song, but the balance is great. Now it sounds like three people playing with one mind. Of course, it may have been other things having an effect.

Nobody really minds any of that though. It's a classic recording, done at a moment when things had come together for Evans in a special way, and we're lucky to have it. The fact that it's a somewhat uneven recording makes it more interesting to me!

(later...)

Roughly half-way between 1961 and 2019 I wrote a song about what the early 60's felt like to me called Everyone Called Him Jack. The title is inspired by the fact that when I was six I didn't know that Jack was a nickname for John. There's all sorts of musical references to the early 60's in the song, (can you find them all?) and it was recorded on 4 track cassette, which puts it into the same general catagory as 1961 technologically (analog recording to tape). Check it out, the take on hero worship is still fresh.

(even more later...)

dave jones

Found this pic of the engineer on the session, Dave Jones, soldering something somewhere. It's probably not at the Vanguard, but it might have been- the tape machines are big old Ampex 350 recorders, set up as stereo half-tracks, which would have been state of the art recording gear in '61.

This photo answers a question I had when listening to the Bill Evans recording- how was the recordist monitoring the session? You can plainly see headphones on the back of a chair, with a pair of white cables e-taped together- you can even see those cables splitting and going into each of the two amplifiers on that Ampex to the right. So what you would hear would be coming straight out of each track- no mixing board, no post-tape panning. It doesn't mean this is how he actually did the thing, but it's something he had.
05/01/19

u

This sort of reminds me of Stonehenge for some reason. But what it is is a thing that will help keep the things on casters from rolling around all willy-nilly.

The sto.it cabinets are heavy, and there are great big casters to make them so easy to move, but they tend to drift away at the slightest push (or on the slightest slope). We deal with this sort of thing at work, but the solution they had wasn't working for me, so I have been experimenting with wheel stops.

u

It takes four of these, properly placed, to lock the thing firmly, but when it's there you can lean on it!