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Some Frustration required

Some days I am amazed by this great age of technology we live in. Every day I see new uses of technology to improve upon the way a task was done and increase efficiency saving precious time to be spent later for the important things like family. Other days, I wonder why we are so lazy.

I recently bought two new effects pedals and neither one came with a manual. That's fine, a lot of companies are doing that you might say. Another argument could be made for “going green” and saving money on packaging so it can be put back into product development. All fantastic points that I completely agree with. But here's my concern, both pedals came with sticker (which I appreciate) and one came with a promotion product poster. What really concerned me is that the pedal with just the sticker in the box was sealed in an anti-static bag with a warning that the device may me sensitive to static electricity. While I understand wanting to reduce costs, a “quick start” guide would be helpful. Even something that just outlines basic connections/settings and them point to the website for more features and the manual.

Typically I don't read the manual included with my effects pedals, but both of these pedal were more advanced that your average fuzz pedal, and one even had an app that worked in conjunction with the pedal, but zero explanation on how to use it out of the box. What prompted this post was the fact that when I did get to the website to download the manual, the manual was just a boring PDF of what used to be included in the box. And that is just lazy. If you are not going to include the manual and you want me to hunt it down on your website, why not make the effort worth it? The internet is a pretty dynamic place for media. Why is there not an interactive manual? There are some sound demos on one page, manuals listed on another, but nothing together in one place.

The pedal market in general needs an overall on presentation. Think about your last trip to a guitar shop. Where were the pedals? Under a glass counter covered by other displays, knick knacks and cluttered paperwork? Because that is where most stores keep them. Only two stores come to mind when I think about ones that make it easy to shop for pedals, Sloan's Guitar Emporium in Butler, PA and Rock and Roll Vintage in Chicago, Il. Both store are crazy serious about guitar tones and are dedicated to having in not just the standard pedals, but curate their selection to cater to more unique sounds and tastes. I hope more stores start to follow their lead.

More importantly back to my original rant and point, I really hope more manufacturers start putting the time into using the internet to really enhance and showcase what their products can do.

 

Why I don’t want a Pantera reunion

Washburn Dime Headstock

Washburn Dime Headstock

A lot of time is my life I find myself to be the odd man out. I’m not into football, I cannot stand all this reality TV garbage, and I STILL listen to music that never quite captures mainstream appeal. All that is ok though most of the time because be a musician and metal fan, I have found a lot of like minded people to talk to and hang out with over the years. But true to myself, even in the community that I love so much, I am finding myself going against popular opinion.

This past December marked 10 years since the passing of Darrell Lance Abbott! who was know by his fans as Dimebag. Dime along with his brother Vinnie founded Pantera in the 80’s and rose to superstar success in the 90’s. I have often said that. Dime was the only guitar hero in the 90’s. While everyone in the grunge scene was making fun of anyone who claimed to take their craft seriously and actually practiced and strive to become better (while secretly practicing them selves and finally admitting it today), Dime led the charge for musicianship. He stood up for the kind of guitar playing that he believed in and grew up loving. He was a fan of music first and a working musician second. Even after Pantera disbanded, he regrouped with his brother, formed Damage plan, and hit the club circuit. The act of someone who truly loves music and what they do.

Since Dime’s passing there have been numerous murmurs, rumors, and fan requests for a Pantera reunion. The most popular “request” for a guitarist to fill Dime’s shoes is Zak Wylde. This is where I become odd man out again, because I completely disagree with a reunion and especially Zak filling the guitar duties.

First is why do we need a reunion? Dime’s gone, it’s over. There is almost now way that a Pantera reunion would work. For starters, the sound of Pantera was 50% (or more) based on Dime’s guitar sound. No other player sounds like Dime, his sound, his touch, we’re totally unique. All the guitarists suggested to fill Dime’s shoes are GREAT players, all with their OWN unique sound. They would sound like them covering Pantera if any of them took that slot.

I think Zak is a great guitarist, and it know he and Dime were great friends, but Dime has a totally different feel than Zak. IF a reunion were going to work, I think the best choice to fill the shoes of Dime would be a fan. Someone who knows every note, every piece of gear, every squeal, every nuance. Someone who knows Dime the way Dime knew his guitar heroes. IF such a reunion were to happen the guitarist I would like to see filling Dime’s shoes would be Randy Cooper.

I First became aware of Randy after hearing a track from Texas Hippie Coalition. I was completely captured by the guitar work work and sought out to find who was doing the leads. The more I researched the more I learned how much Dime had been and influence on Randy and his playing (to hear more about how Dime and Randy met you can listen to my interview with Randy on Iron City Rocks). Dime even helped Randy find his first Dean ML. For me that’s the only way this “reunion” would work, to have another fan paying tribute to one of music’s biggest fans.

Quick review of the 2015 Gibson SG’s

Towards the end of 2014 I finally had a chance to stop into one of the local music stores in my new area and check out what they had to offer. As I was walking around the store checking out all the great guitars they had in stock, I stumbled upon a small room loaded with 2015 Gibson guitars!

Wow was I excited! Ever since I bought my Epiphone SG in 2013 at the Sonic Valley Guitar, I have had the itch to find the cherry finish Gibson SG I have always wanted. The challenge has been finding the right feel. My Epiphone really has me spoiled. It’s korina wood, so it’s super light, and the neck is just ridiculously thin, narrow, and fast. Needless to say, I have played a LOT of SG’s so far.

I walked into the little Gibson room and immediately spied a 2015 Gibson SG standard, and. 2015 Gibson SG special. I grabbed the special first since it was closer to my price range. I was really excited to play the special since Gibson is using a gloss finish on this model, rather than a satin finish. As soon as I felt the neck, I didn’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a GREAT Guitar, just not what I was looking for. The neck is very wide, Ibanez RG series wide, which is great if I wanted that kind of guitar, but that is not my style any more.

Hoping the standard would be different I grabbed that one next. Same thing. Wide. Still a great guitar, just not what I wanted. Both models now come standard with Gibson’s Min-ETune system, which might explain why the neck is wider. The Min-ETune system is an automatic Robotic tuning system that tunes your guitar for you. While I appreciate the thought and Gibson’s attempt to solve the age old problem of keeping a guitar in tune, I’m not looking for a guitar that can tune itself, I want a guitar that STAYS in tune.

My overall assessment of the 2015 Gibson SG models is that they are well built, sound great and look great. For a touring/gigging musings who wants a classic look with a modern feel these guitars are perfect. Nice wide neck and string spacing for modern shredders, and a beefy sound. These are some of the best Gibsons I have seen in a while, and if you are in the market for a modern shred machine, that tunes itself, and has a classic look, this is the guitar for you.

Been a long time since I rock and rolled……

It’s been such a long time since my last post in September 2013. Funny thing is I can remember what my exact plan was after that post. I had a skeleton outline of what was going to happen next, but I also knew that work was about to get super busy, so I was going slow, taking one thing at a time. I was just about on track in early 2014, and then life happened. Things got a little crazy and the details are not important. What is important is that through it all my family was amazing support and we ended up in a new state, city and town.  So what does 2015 have in store? Who knows, but I have a few ideas of what I want to see happen.

For starters, I fulfilled a life long dream of living near the ocean. If you have read my blog before you might know that I used to skateboard when I was younger, and truth be told, I only skated because I could not surf. Now that I live near the ocean, I plan on learning to surf in 2015. I’ve been reading books, watching movies and most importantly slowing getting back into swimming shape.  I love the ocean, I love being in the water, and I love swimming. To say I am excited about learning to surf is an understatement.

For me me, I’ve always felt a connection between music and surfing. Even though I was no where near an area I could have surfed, I was drawn to it through the music of the 60’s that my parents raised me on. Now that I live near the ocean, every visit is like a concert of sights and sounds. And that has been driving me to pick up my guitar more and more. 2013 saw me play guitar more than ever. I was taking lessons, learning things I had always wanted to, and was pushing my quest for tone ever further. In 2014 that pursuit all but ground to a halt. Now however, I find myself with a better space for making music than I ever did, my kids enjoy listening to me plan (and even want to join in), and I am finding more time to play again. I have about 2-3 song ideas in my head and roughly recorded and my goal is to record and release them by the end of the year.

Next up is my passion for effects pedals. I love, love, love them! I have still been getting new ones, so I have lots to write about and demo. My ultimate goal is to start putting more YouTube Videos up with the pedals. Hoping to do some comparisons and shootouts.

My friend Sue of Rage and Apathy thankfully has family a few hours from where I live now, so when she passes by this year we are hoping to put on a show on Stageit.com.

And one thing I really want to do is take lessons again. I really enjoyed taking guitar lessons again. It was nice to be challenged and pushed, and even better to finally start to be able to make sense of the sounds in my head and actually recreate them on my guitar.

John Lennon said it best when he said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. Life has been happening all over the place, and what a great ride it has been. Here is to a great 2015!

 

 

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