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Posts published in “Opinion and Reviews”

How do I feel about vintage instruments?

Question on a forum: “Let’s focus lower on the totem pole around those under $10k. How do you feel about these as a player? Do you think modern production more than makes up for old wood? Would you pay the asking price if you intended to play it, rather than resell it? If you found one at a yard sale, would you flip it and buy a reissue instead?”

Cryogenically-treated Guitar Cables? No, Dean Markley. Just, No.

Yesterday I saw a press release via the Premier Guitar Twitter feed announcing Dean Markley Blue Steel instrument cables. Promising all kinds of magical tonal benefits due to the cable receiving a brief blast of liquid nitrogen. I say it’s pseudo-scientific nonsense. Dean Markley say that’s just my opinion. Well, this is how I, a guitarist and physics PhD, arrived at my opinion…

Teaching Children – How Young is Too Young?

At any one time 1/3 to a 1/2 of my students are children and I am frequently approached by parents looking for a guitar teacher for their child. However, as a general rule, the youngest I am willing to teach is about 10 years-old. In this post I explain why guitar poses difficulties for younger children and what I recommend to parents when young children want to play the guitar.

Treble Bleed Mod Round-up

As a reference resource, I have collected the treble bleed capacitor and resistor combinations recommended by the the major guitar pickup manufacturers (and some guitar makers too). I am reproducing that list here. Below the list I have also included notes and additional information based on my research and experience. I hope you find it useful. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

The Paris Expat’s Guide to Buying a Guitar

Most of my clients/students are expats in Paris and many are first-time players, just starting out with the guitar. As a result I am frequently asked about where to buy a guitar and to give recommendations on what to buy and in what price range. In this post I answer all those questions for you, and more.

The Credit-Experience-Break Myth

As a musician I see it all the time - "I can't pay you but you'll get a credit". I'm sure every musician, sound engineer, video editor, actor, model, photographer, painter, journalist, graphic designer, translator, web designer, and toilet cleaner has heard it a million times...

Beginners: Left- or Right-Handed?

Any left-handed player who has ever stepped into a guitar store will have discovered a distinct lack of left-handed instruments. The situation is even worse when we are looking for quality 3/4 or 1/2 size instruments for children. Consequently I'm often asked if it's really necessary for left-handed beginners to learn to play left-handed guitar. I don't think it is, and this is why...

Ernie Ball Cobalt Strings Review

Early this year Ernie Ball released a unique line of electric guitar strings. Known as Cobalt Slinkys. The proprietary cobalt steel wrap on the wound strings is said to be provide a "stronger magnetic relationship between the strings and the pickups". I recently got my hands on a set and put them through their paces.

Gibson – a Disgrace to the Guitar Industry

After much posturing and wailing and childish "why are they picking on us?" from CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson have agreed to a criminal sanction with the U.S. Government over importing illegal ebony from Madagascar. Gibson's statement on the matter still tries to make it look like they are treated unfairly but when we look at the facts, a very different picture emerges...

PolyTune – A Practical Review

TC Electronic's "PolyTune" first hit the stores back in 2010 and caused quite a stir. While there were many magazine and web reviews, most just copied-and-pasted the same marketing blurb and didn't tell us how well the PolyTune really performs in every day use. I've been using one for over a year, for stage, studio, and tech work. Oddly enough, I think PolyTune's best feature is the one most people don't use...

Game Changer, the Giggle Maker

...for 60 years we were given only the basic pickup combinations that are easiest to wire up on a simple toggle switch. But electric guitars are capable of millions of variations on those basic sounds, if we get creative about how we wire the pickup coils. The Game Changer allows that to happen...

Choosing a Mandolin

A few months back on one of the guitar forums I frequent, a guitarist asked for advice, wanting to buy a cheap mandolin for a country/rock band. Here is my reply, which I’ve expanded on for this blog.

Music is social, so be social!

A buddy on private forum recently asked advice about meeting musicians to jam or start a band with and what internet sites anybody could recommend.  His question got me thinking about my experiences over the 11-odd years  I’ve been in Paris.