Helix....

Jan. 6th, 2016 05:34 pm
johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
And since I have gotten it, I've been doing an awful lot of playing. :)

I can get my Marshall JCM800 50wt single-channel-no-reverb head and my c.1968 model 1968 4x12" cab sound to about 99% of the real thing, even through my stupid powered monitors. Through the Dickinson 2 x 12" combo, well, it sounds pretty damn amazing.

Update

Nov. 27th, 2015 05:51 pm
johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
Last night I went out with chaps from a band I was in at the turn of the millennium.

I'd met Paddy, the drummer, on the tube a few months ago, and we exchanged phone numbers. So I met him and Phil, the pianist/singer, in a pub in Battersea.

We all have partners and children now. Nannies and school fees are things with which we are all familiar.

But more importantly, everyone was itching to make music.

So...

Anyway, I'm still waiting on my Line 6 Helix. GuitarGuitar in Epsom have had my deposit since October. I rang them today and they prevaricated. Not impressed really.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
So it looks like we're going the full whack bidding on this house we want, some two roads away from us here in leafy East Dulwich. I say leafy because the streets are full of the blighters; Autumnal and golden; sodden in the rain and adhering to cars, pavements, walls, and shoe-soles. Our golden October has extended somewhat: and this part of London has only today turned chill, with small but noticeable bite in the air. Keats' season, or Eliot's season, it is its own thing, but yet also harbinger of winter. And mayhap we move to a bigger house in the New Year.

Plans for Christmas. Somehow to include the Mother.
Seeing the New Year in at Hackness with Fra and Cressy et al.

In the meantime, I had a gig with the 'Wedding Band' on Friday.
Orchardleigh House in Somerset.

I took my new Line 6 Pod X3 Live out for its first live airing. I knew that this was going to be an interesting test because:

1) The nature of the venue (pretty small room) and
2) The set-up requirements (set up between meals) and
3) Costs (cheapo gig, bid because we weren't getting much work when it was booked)

Ergo, we went minus a PA and engineer. Jane had bought an interesting bit of kit: one Bose L1 Model II PA for the vocals and sax. The band had to rely on their backline apart from Martin, the drummer and our leader, who played acoustically, and could still have overwhelmed the backline and PA at any point he chose. Dexterity and taste from the recognised beast in the band (it's in the job description: drummer - ride motorcycle through hotel bedroom window into swimming pool - ask anyone who's ever been in a band) is not expected, but with Martin....well, he's just too damn good to let a cliche overwhelm him, however much fun it may be to do so.  I'm going to start calling him 'The Colonel' though in fact he's much more like a perfect Adjutant: his organisational and motivational skills have kept the Wedding Band in work and getting to and from venues for almost twenty years. It wouldn't work without him, and this stripped-down-system experiment was his call.

Got to say it was a bit good, actually.

Jane's piece of kit worked really well in the small space. We all turned down: I could get decent sounds at listenable volumes with the POD, though without some of the more interesting programming I had done for the GNX3. Such is. Good and usable sounds nevertheless.

My ongoing wrestling with EVH's 'Beat it' solo continued with mixed results.

We sight-read, first time played without rehearsal, 'I've got you under my skin'. Which I should have known; but most published versions are in Fm; Frank S did it in Ebmin, and I'm too occasional a player and arranger these day to transpose easily in my head. As an aside I used to have a guitar in my hands for four-to-six hours a day every day, and kept musical arrangements in my head like I had previously (in another life in a decade or more before) kept bridge hands. These last four or five years have left me rusty beyond embarrassment. And it's not going to change. And I'm not certain how bothered about it all I am anyway.

So some small wins then.

Today we went to the Whisky Exchange and I bought a brace of Ardbeg's Airigh Nam Beist and a single cask they decanted from the barrel into a 40cl bottle for me called 'Ord Mor' ABV 62.5%. I've had this one before last month, and so it must be coming to the end of the barrel. I almost bought a brace of them too, but the three bottles were already hitting my wallet to the tune of £170-(mumble)-odd. I can only drink one of the Beists as the other one is to keep for twenty-one-odd years, give or take however many months.

So, another small win there too.

Scored the tiniest amount of weed for high-days and holidays, but actually feel no need to smoke it regularly.

Blimey, it's wins all round: of expensive kinds, admittedly.

Now comes the biggest test of all: the scan. Fingers crossed. Let's hope our luck is holding....
johnny9fingers: (Default)
So the house is on the market. It looks like SWMBO will have dropped a couple of thou on the house: we'll be lucky to get 495K. All the houses we're looking at cost about 700K (+/- 50k).

According to the Estate Agents we have about 6 weeks window before the market shuts down for Christmas.
Tomorrow Madame has taken a day off and her parents are coming down from St Neot's, then we're looking at 8 houses in the area between Dulwich and Camberwell. Bliss. My cup doth overflow.

On another note, in the past I have been able to force myself to do things I would not normally consider: like climb mountains, have sex with the wrong people, try out strange and dangerous drugs, etc....So how come, fourteen months off fifty, I can't make myself practice my guitar? I look at it, take it off its stand, read about guitar, advise other people on the instrument, think about it....but when it comes to doing practice it is just beyond my powers of concentration or application.

I wonder, has the time come to put down the instrument, if not for good, then at least for an appreciable period?
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Amazingly I got a message from the Glam Ex today. She asked if I was still keeping her musical stuff (which I am) as she has new desires to make a lot of noise. I'll have to find some day to meet up and return her bass guitar and associated bits and bobs. Not that I play bass too often, but when you can't find a bassist you have to do it yourself.

She seems to be well, and her Ma is still a stalwart on that London based soap opera.

Kudos to them.

Last week I leant my 17 year old godson my unused Les Paul on a semi-permanent basis. For some reason or other I just can't seem to get on with LP's. 335's, 175's, L5's, yes: LP's no. Go figure, as the saying is. I guess I'll always be a 'Strat' sort of guy. Which is, I suppose, why I have four of them.

Go well and do good things, and if tempted to do bad things remember: it'll always turn out worse than you think.

Look at Tony Bliar....a man unable to admit he got it criminally wrong about invading Iraq, and who now desperately tries to massage this message by trying to come across as sensible on every other matter. Oleaginous creepy man who somehow or other has made millions upon millions of pounds or dollars.

Honore de Balzac said behind every great fortune there lies a crime. I may just except Paul McCartney and his musical/entertainment ilk from this sweeping generalisation, but I fear T. Bliar esquire doesn't make the cut.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Today I went to Jon Dickinson's workshop in Crystal Palace to get my No3 Strat that he was fettling, my fixed 'Blues Deluxe' and a custom built Dickinson 45Wt 2x12 combo made in the chassis of an old Selmer type vertically stacked 2x12. The Celestion 12's have been reconed, and the amp itself is hand-wired with no PCB's (printed circuit boards). I might get around to taking photographs, but I've never sorted web-hosting for that sort of thing....so maybe not.

It has 2 inputs (1 guitar, 1 line), 2 switches, 1 green light to show it's working and ONE volume knob.

No bass, mid, or treble; no presence; no master volume; no anything else. It sounds amazing straight through: big, brash, and with real 'weight' and a certain amount of 'thud'. Putting the Digitech GNX3 into the line input and the amp is just awesome....and how often have any of you known me to use that word? The Marshall emulations sound like a good Marshall (and almost as good as mine); the various Fender models sound extraordinarily close to the real thing. This could also be because I've tweaked the programs over the years to suit my ears and understanding of the actual sounds being emulated.

The Line6 Pod X3 live arrives tomorrow. If it is any better than the GNX3 I may have found my perfect rig: and not just for the function band. Of course I won't sell my Marshall half-stack or my 'Blackface Twin', but even so it is phenomenal that a combination of digital modelling and old-fashioned valves and point-to-point wiring can fool these ears: I must be getting old and decrepit. Either that or finally we can has nice things at a reasonably affordable price (for a given value of 'affordable' obviously).

Dickinson Amps cost a heap of money for the main aluminium-bodied range: which I didn't audition as I only really approve of shiny in the bedroom. A few big names use 'em and rightly so. Apparently some chap called Matt Bellamy who is in some pop group or other swears by them: and I can now agree that the amps Jon Dickinson makes sound really very good indeed. Now to road-test the beast for reliability: I shall report back as and when.

It looks like we may have a dep for the function band. [livejournal.com profile] felephant was kind enough to offer, but he's in St Andrews, which is quite a step from Wimbledon, where the gig is.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
The function band have a gig on the 17th of July. When I will be in Portugal. Apparently the gig has been on the FB's books since March, though I didn't receive the notification, or if I did, it completely passed me by for some reason. I'll have to find a dep, but it doesn't look too good at present.

Doghouse here I come.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
In Alan's studio.
A young bassist, an ex-pat Yank called Ryan Michael, is in putting down some tracks on which I've played guitar. He is one fantastic player. His band are called Carmelite. He plays a Warwick 'thumb' six string bass Low B to high C.

Really impressed, actually. Bloody clever and musically very gifted and a nice bloke to boot.

Alas, young ladies, I believe he's taken: else he's the sort of chap I'd introduce to a sister or daughter.

Will try to get out of here for 5-5.30 to meet Milady. I'm rather looking forward to this weekend....well I would say that wouldn't I.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Returned from Milady's place. She's staying with me on Friday. The slow evolution to tidiness is going to need a right kick up the backside and possibly some kind of turbo-charger. We're both off to Nick's on Saturday where she will get a chance to meet some of my older friends. Nick and I have been chums since the Imperial College days, some twenty seven years ago.
Gods, I'm old. Milady keeps complimenting me on how well-preserved I seem, but blames it on my idle and frivolous lifestyle: she may well have a point as I've hardly worn myself out with heavy use.
It also seems she is a smit as I am.
Obviously we both have some sort of brain fever, which explains soppiness etc.



The only other excuse for me posting this, apart from the fact that I really rate it as a song, is that I was in a duo/band which opened for Joan on her tour in 2000. I asked her about the chords to 'Love and Affection' and she said 'All guitarists ask me that question', and didn't answer further. So....I watched her from the side of the stage right through the tour. Evidently she knew folk were checking, and so for all of that small tour she played different inversions of the opening chords every night. The other weird thing is a friend from an older generation, Peter Noble, once owned a record company, and turned a young and unsigned Joan down: he never got over it really.
 
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Ten minutes after my previous LJ post I was sitting down trying to change a plug on a power supply for my GNX3. I was stripping the cables with a scalpel (stupid boy). Somehow or other I managed to put the scalpel through my left index finger tip. Blood everywhere, and much panic and pain, dammit. This was three hours before soundcheck.
Sticking plaster on I loaded the car and drove to the gig, taking with me that wonderful guitarist's salvation: superglue. When I arrived I removed the plaster and applied a layer of superglue across the wound (please don't try this at home unless you really need to), and completed the soundcheck. I don't normally take painkillers, and I've never taken painkillers with alcohol, but there's a first time for everything. An hour before the first set I took two ibuprofen washed down with a large can of 'wifebeater' as Stella Artois is known in these parts.
The first set was pretty painful, but still manageable.
The wedding audience were hell-bent on enjoying themselves and had been drinking copiously, and many were dancing like madfolk of the nicest kind, which rather took one's mind off things.
Half-an-hour's break and we were into the second set: wound on finger still superglued shut.
The audience were by now considerably drunker and really enjoying themselves. Some of the women were getting...a bit...(looks for euphemism) frolicky. After the set a particularly attractive (but hugely drunk) woman collared me as I got off stage and started talking in a somewhat slurred fashion. Honestly, thought I, why don't the sober ones ever try to engage me in conversation? However after five minutes or so when I still hadn't made a pass or anything (am still a gentleman and drunk women....well, they're off limits) she said to me (and this shows just how drunk she was, because she can't have been focusing properly)
' You're so beautiful (hahaha), I know just the man for you.' [Falls off her chair and hiccups.]
Aaaarrghh!
I tried, gently, to explain the fact that I preferred women, in fact am exclusive of my own gender when it comes to the physical. Finally managed to extract myself from further humiliation and packed up my kit.
Sometimes it just seems that whatever is ironic in life is always destined to be the piano that descends from above at 9.81 metres per second per second acceleration to land squarely on my head, Wily E Coyote style.
Fuckit. I'm not gay yet, but the enemy gender certainly have a talent for making me wish I'd been made slightly differently.
There's always chastity, which I deem to be somewhat better than demeaning myself with such folk.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Got the probate forms through (at long last). Little point in filling them out until after Christmas, but I shall, no doubt.

Last minute Christmas shopping for the Ma, back by 2.30.
I was on LJ at 3pm when I got a call from Motion Studios for a 'can I drop everything and come immediately' session. Acoustic widdling a la Al Di Meola. Eight bars extemporising, following a keyboard melody in C minor.
Six quick takes and two five minute comps later Alan had me sounding like a god, which I'm not. Was paid, packed and back in the car in less than an hour-and-a-half from original phone call. Oh, if only life could always be like this.
johnny9fingers: (window)

The Da's not having that good a time. Sun and today have been...well, he's stopped eating again. The doc says a gall stone has probably moved (on top of all the other bloody stuff) and is causing him pain. Painkillers make Dad confused. Ergo, he hates them. More hallucinations and lavatorial indignities. The look he sometimes gives me as I help him to the loo: thank God we don't have an old service revolver about the house; given his faith I would hate for him to disqualify himself from a Christian funeral.
However, I do suspect he'd like it all finished with. Definitely DNR, however much we would prefer otherwise. Friday's his birthday. He's going to be around for that.
Burnt my hand making mother a hot-water bottle. That's fucked me playing-wise for the next week or so*. I'm just too cack-handed for all this looking after people stuff. I should have been sensible and made enough money to employ someone to help out. Advice to budding guitarists: study law, or medicine, or finance.


*Tried bleach on the burn immediately after it happened - good reports thus far, & might not be out for a week. Does anyone else use bleach like this apart from serving troops?

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