Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New Year

Today is December 30th 2017,

Happy soon-to-be 2018.  Hope whatever holiday you had was nice.  Be that Christmas, Festivus or some kind of pagan goat blood ritual.  I know most people visit this blog for guitar related stuff, but allow me to revert back to the old blog format briefly.   Frankly, my last few guitar related experiments, haven't sounded all that great, and weren't worth posting.  Trust me.  Hopefully new guitar stuff in the future.  I don't like jinxing things this early, but there will be new music in 2018.  Currently working on a new Godzilla Snackas EP, and there probably will be at least 2-3 BSS recordings and maybe a 7" record in the UK.

I guess this state of the union address is really just me publicly thinking out loud about the world and how I and everyone interacts in it as of 2017.  I've been increasingly feeling weird about social media, and it's use in my life.  The last few months, I've backed away from facebook.  I'm not sure how we got to this place currently, but it doesn't feel right.  I remember life before FB and I remember maybe being a bit happier.  One less thing to check and have feelings about.  Perhaps I was more patient and trivial things were less immediate.  A lot of these disconnects and changes in our lives felt like they happened overnight.  I remember a day back in 2008 when people started only sending me text messages.  The phone calls stopped.  Things have felt more and more disconnected since then, and I don't think that's how we were meant to interact with each other.  I question if everyone so absorbed in social media, who at times shouting at a proverbial wall, is truly happier now.  It's been very unnerving to see how politically degrading things have gotten.  It's infiltrated our everyday lives and entertainment.   I'm exhausted by it all.  Even by people I agree with in my own echo chamber.

I guess to sum up what I'm saying is, be good to each other.  Or at least a little better.  Maybe turn off some of the noise and find new ways to connect to people.  Maybe remember those with opposing views you can still find value and friendship with.  Value other peoples lives a bit more.  Even if the general public is hard to deal with.  Alright, this all I wish for in 2018.  I updated the photos archive on the site for anyone feeling nostalgic.  I'll hopefully update some more stuff soon.  In the meantime, I'll be back to working on music, pedals, guitar stuff and art.   

Monday, August 7, 2017

New "Double Album" Born Shit Stirrers

This one took a while.  20 songs clocking in at about 14 minutes.  Lots of setbacks and maybe a few bridges burnt along the way.  I wasn't sure we'd get this one done at all.  Might be this group's Sgt. Pepper.  I recorded and produced this, along with playing guitar, shamisen, some bass, synths, and a few vocals.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Watt From Pedro Show

Been a big fan of this podcast for years now.  Mike always plays really interesting stuff.  Makes my bike rides to work a lot better.  Come to find out, my good friend Jan Bart made an appearance on the show this week, with his band mate from I Took Your Name!   Jan Bart is from Groningen, Netherlands, and plays just about any instrument you can think of.  He was nice enough to play 3 songs from my bands, solo stuff, and recording projects.  You can listen to the full show here:

You can also check out some of Jan Bart's recordings here:
I Took Your Name
Corvus Straksmetal
alfonso senor leon

Edit*  more shows here as well: 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fixing a Half Functioning MXR Pedal

Somewhere on the America west coast, in a bar or venue somewhere, lays my original missing MXR Phase 90 potentiometer knob. It went missing at some point on tour maybe 6 years ago. It bothered me ascetically and I could no longer tweak the large knob with my toe on the fly. I replaced the knob at some point a year later. However, up until a few weeks ago I didn't realized the damaged that had been done while not having that knob there. I should preface that I love MXR pedals and the Phase 90 is my all time favorite phaser. It does however have a small design flaw that people should know about.

While recording a few weeks ago I pulled out the Phase 90 for a slow moving phase effect. My pedal somehow didn't seem to modulate below 12 o'clock. It worked perfectly at a faster rate; how I usually have it set on my board. I was perplexed. I couldn't understand how only half the pot functioned correctly. After taking the pedal apart and poking around a bit, I noticed the pot shaft was able to be pushed down. I then see the bottom of the pot split and bulging downward every time I pushed the pot shaft. The bottom of the pot was FR-4 PCB type board material . The shaft of the pot had at some point been stepped on and pushed through the bottom. An easy thing to happen with any MXR pedal or “stomp box” missing the knobs. Without the knob covers, anyone could easily accidentally push the pot shaft down and destroy the pot function.

Here you can see the crack in the carbon element
The strange part about how my pot broke, is it cracked the PCB board at a point where the wiper was still able to make contact with carbon composition resistance element. The crack only disabled the pot for half of it's function (modulation). Crazy it took 6 years for me to notice it. The original pot is an odd one. It's a reverse audio 470K. I didn't have any of those on hand, so I swapped a 500K linear pot instead. The sweep of the effect is slightly different, but not enough for me to special order of seek out the 470K reverse audio. The new pot has a metal encasing which should be sturdier.
Bottom of the pot. FR-4 Board (easily broken)

So this is a PSA. If you buy or have an MXR pedal that's missing its knobs, replace them as soon as possible. It's the only line of defense from that pot shaft going through your pedal.
My new roadie approves of my repair job!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Born to Stir Shit Parody Documentary

Some friends made a fake rockumentary about the jerk punk band we made.  Kind of a This is Spinal Tap of foreigners in Japan making fun of everyone and everything around them.  Well, hopefully someone finds it funny.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Homemade Lap Steel

About ten years ago, I played a show with my old cheap lap steel an hour south from Portland, in Salem, Oregon.  After finishing the show, packing up and hitting the road back home, my car's lights started to dim.  Next thing I know the engine stops and I'm coasting off the highway up an off-ramp just outside of Portland.  Dead alternator.   I starting pushing the car into a parking lot, when some guy yells, "bro, let me help you!"  A really nice random guy stopped, helped me push my car, packed my guitar rig up, and gave me a lift home.  I miss old Portland.  After getting home and unloading what I thought was all my guitar stuff, I realized I'd probably left my lap steel in that random strangers car trunk.  I suppose it would have been a nice parting gift for the good samaritan, however most people probably would just see the lap steel as a guitar with really high, unplayable action.  

The simplicity of that lap steel led me to thinking.  I decided building my own lap steel would probably be a fairly easy task, considering there is no action or truss rod with fine tuning.  I just had to get the fret markings and bridge mount carefully measured.  I found this site years ago and had always wanted to try it. I found it to be extremely helpful. At the beginning last year after tearing a fretboard off of a bass neck to swap truss rods, I had a bunch of extra cheap looking rosewood. I ended up tearing the frets off of the old bass fretboard and turning it around to saw new fret markers on the other side.  I painted the new "frets" and markers.  I kind of copied the design of a Rickenbacker and some old lap steels fret marker styles.  I thought the straight line at the edge of the painted frets would act as a good guide while playing. 
I pretty much followed that sites instructions step-by-step.  I did make a few changes however.  I had only hand tools, so the headstock cut I changed to a more sloped one.   I also made the control cavity a bit larger for a tone knob.  I also regrettably tried to make the finish a sparkle finish.  Which I got the idea from this old thread on a tele forum.  the-emeraldcaster-project-aka-son-of-meloncaster

The finish proved to be the hardest and most time consuming.  I basically started painting a base coat of black acrylic, then sprayed a light coat or clear coat and started lightly shaking the glitter on the wet clear coat.  (Warning:  do this over a box to catch the glitter.  It isn't called the herpes of the art world for nothing)  I then started added what seemed like hundreds of coats of clear coat.  He's where
I almost messed it up.  I got impatient and decided to add clear lacquer to speed up the process.  Firstly, lacquer, it turns out dries a lot slower when put on thick.  Mistake number one.  And my second mistake was trying to layer the lacquer.  Lacquer is extremely solvent and melts already dried layers of lacquer and acrylic.  I found gas bubbles and all sorts of nightmares in the finish.  I also had to wait even longer for everything to dry.  So, my finish never turned out extremely smooth.  Even after multiple layers and wet sanding.  Sparkles aren't the easiest finish for a guitar.  If I had to do it again, I'd try to make everything thinner, and keep to one paint type.
The other thing I would have done differently, would be the bridge choice.  The Les Paul Jr. bridge is very simple, easy to mount, and small.  However the direction the strings pull at the bridge is slightly upwards and towards the neck.  I found the wood I had used was a bit too soft to hold the bridge perfectly straight upwards.  It has a slight tilt, even after wood glue and shims.  I think I would opt for something with a screw-on mount like a Strat bridge one a raised piece of wood.

All and all, the guitar is playable and looks good enough.  It was a learning experience.  I might get a better pickup in the future and raise it's position.   I finally have a unique replacement lap steel.  

New headstock slop

Measure 3 times!

Gluing the fret board on

Not the smoothest finish

Basic Telecaster wiring with out a switch.  Also a lifesaving 1250 V ground "fuse".

Monday, February 6, 2017

I Hate Your Band (New Punk CD)

That same old collective of enraged expats living in Japan came together for yet another album.  And by album I mean 13 songs coming in at 8 minutes.  I recorded and mixed this, and managed to add guitar work to it with a fractured arm.  Everything and everyone in Fukuoka, slagged by this group of A-holes.  No one is safe.  Even ourselves.  All our grievances in a minute or less per song.  The full CD can be downloaded here: I Hate Your Band

youtube stream coming soon. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

CD Release Party

We put together a little lineup of bands and people we like at a venue we like. Should be a good time with good people.