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Tuning Stability Checklist

Tuning stability with tremolo bridges is not rocket science but when there is a problem it can certainly can seem like a black art. But there is a simple way of thinking through tuning problems which might help...

Your Own Personal Fret Buzz

It is a myth that buzz-free low action is always possible. People frequently read manufacturers' specifications and assume those numbers are a goal rather than a guideline. They assume such a setup will suit their personal playing technique without any string/fret buzz. In my experience, that is just not the case.

Lost in the dark?

Nothing worse than a screaming bum note or wrong chord 'cause you can't see what you're doing, right? I'm sure we've all had a moment like that at some point in time. But what can we do to avoid it?

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...

Tuning – the Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #45

The following is a reprint of data sheet #45 from the Guild of American Luthiers. They don’t know who wrote it and it never made it into publication. But it’s so incredibly useful that it’s one of their most requested articles (you can download a PDF version from them here). To anyone who ever gets frustrated when tuning their guitar, this article explains why and I strongly advise you to read it. I promise you that accepting the information presenting…

To Shim, or not to Shim?

People often wonder why two seemingly identical electric guitars sometimes require noticeably different bridge or saddle heights to achieve a similar string height off the neck. The answer has to do with manufacturing tolerances when making the neck and body...

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.

Those pesky little problems…

…that vanish as soon as you go looking for them! As well I know from my experience as a physicist, poking around with large amounts of electricity can be as much fun as it can be dangerous and scary. Particularly with high powered laser systems where high voltage, high current, and running water (for cooling) are often in close proximity. Guitar amplifiers are pretty tame in comparison so I have no problem opening them up and poking around.

The Great John Simms – part three

(continued from part two) John’s cremation was held the following week at Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. It seemed like half the musicians in Paris, certainly most of the ex-pat musicians,  turned out to see John off. Throughout the service, a gospel choir that John was involved with sang selections from the songs that he had written. It was quite an experience, intensely emotional yet a rich vein of joy ran through it too, albeit one with an unintentionally humorous end.

The Great John Simms – part two

click here for part one John and I never worked together again after the Marrakech trip. Though we often didn’t see each other for long stretches, our friendship never seemed to fade. There were a few occasions when I would sometimes stop into one of his gigs and sing harmonies for him on a song or two, or help him tweak the sound system so the show would sound its best “out front”. He always appreciated that. “The doctor is…

The Great John Simms – part one

I don’t remember when I first met John. I do remember that I first heard of him when he was recording his album, “My Acoustic Soul“, as a friend of mine was playing mandolin on the recording. That may have been 2004 or 2005.   Perhaps I was a little late to the party but having heard his name once it seemed that everyone was suddenly talking about this great soul singer, John Simms.

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.