Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Chicken shit mix

Hypo Luxa is the "producer" secret identity of Al Jourgensen of Ministry. In 1991 he was called in to do a re-mix of the Red Hot Chili pepper's "Give it away", the first single off Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It was not going well and depending on who you talk too, he brought a chicken into the studio to help make it right. There's a Cuban superstition where you kill a chicken and it absorbs all the bad spirits, but he kept this one very much alive and simply blew pot smoke in the chicken's face and set him down on the mixing board where it proceeded to crap all over the channels and everywhere it crapped they either erased that track, or emhasized it in the mix. Thus, it became known as the "chicken shit mix".

I love random acts of music production like that. Not only is it a great story, but I'm sure you get a 50% chance of improving the mix by taking it out of human hands in certain places.

"The chicken was put on a podium with a strobe light between two speakers, and it started going to the beat, that's when they knew the mix was done. (Al also claims to have driven motorcycles around in the studio)"

There's a small blurb about it here in a Ministry faq (search for "the chicken incident"), I first heard about it on Alan Cross's radio show.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

120 pound journey

Great vid someone posted on Facebook. Hats off to the guy! Awesome! His vid's well done too. I had me a 60-20 pound journey once ;-). (I hope Coldplay doesn't sue him - they should pay him, he's about get one million views)

My 120 Pound Journey

Monday, October 04, 2010

New (custom) Ibanez Plexi Jem style guitar (I'm keeping my tele)

Some things are just meant to be. I've been thinking about a new guitar building project for awhile now, initially thinking about selling the natural wood custom Tele I built in 2001 (my 911 guitar, I ordered all the wood and parts online from Warmoth.com the week before the towers fell and it was held up for weeks while the border was shut down). I was gravitating towards a solid blue color hot-rodded tele in it's place. I certainly wasn't playing it so I dragged it out of storage, fixed up a wiring problem and tweaked the neck a bit to clean it up and sell it. Then a funny thing happened. I forgot what a nice guitar it was! I can't sell this! I built it! It's like a beloved pet or kid or something!

So. I'm keeping it. I'll find a place for it!

I went online (Kijiji) to check some woods for a new build anyway and found someone right down the road from me selling some Ibanez Jem Style bodies with the monkey grip along with some 24 fret necks. THAT was interesting. I was learning a violin piece arranged for a 24 fret guitar and cursing the guy who put it in that key, because the most frets I have on any of my electrics is 22, and I had to play the thing an octave lower in one spot (why didn't he make it for a 7 string guitar while he's at it, everyone has one of those lying around! Meh!).

So, kill two birds with one stone! Get a new guitar build going, gain a 24 fret guitar, play the 5th Caprice the way it was meant to be played, it's a win win! So I emailed the guy. And heard nothing for a few days... I checked his other ads to see if he had been online recently and WHAMMO! I saw THIS!

HOLY CRAP! It's one of those See through jobbies like the one Steve Vai plays in Bad Horsie! (well not exactly as it turns out!!) It's got a blue headstock and semi transparent pickguard. man, that looks coool. I wonder how it feels? So I emailed the guy again "Hey I'm interested in those woods AND do you still have that plexi guitar! Tell me about THAT!" And I heard nothing...

So I emailed him again just in case the first two emails didn't go through, and I waited like 4 days. This was getting to be like a bad 1st date or something (should I call? is that bad? is it too soon? is he on vacation? ).  Every day the hit counter on the guy's ad would go up,
"CRAP! 500 people have looked at it! It's got to be gone by now!".
 It's always a bad idea when buying something to appear as if you really WANT it badly. No room to maneuver price-wise, but it was too late. I was thinking about this damn thing all the time now. I had to play it and see if it felt any good. Maybe it just LOOKED good and that's why the guy was offloading it. Maybe it was some flashy experiment gone wrong. The thing probably weighs a ton (it does)!

After a few more days I couldn't take it any more. All the guy had was an email address and that wasn't working so I went digging around on the net, all over the place (how many guitar builders can there be in Orleans? he must hang out on the Jem site) and I lucked out and got some possible phone numbers. I hit pay dirt on the first one and got the guy who was selling the thing. Turns out, when it comes to the Internet, he doesn't live on it like the rest of us, and hasn't checked his ads since they went up. 


I went over and played it and the thing feels phenomenal. Sound isn't as big an issue with me as feel because you can do quite a bit to change and tweak the sound but as luck would have it.. IT SOUNDS GREAT TOO! I have never had a humbucker in the front like this, always Single coil single coil humbucker, but maybe Steve Vai has something here. I quite like it!

I bought it at the asking price. I have no idea why he parted with it, other than he told me he had too many guitars and just couldn't give it the love it deserved. Well, no problem here. I love it! This quirky guitar is now my favorite electric in the bunch, and the fact that you can flick a switch and make it glow in the dark is just icing on the cake! It's looks pretty and it feels pretty and it sounds pretty. It's like a playboy Bunny kinda! But LOUDER!!

What am I going to name it?

I also picked up a body and neck so they'll be a new guitar down the road (if I can get to it before winter). It's going to be a swirl guitar!


Friday, October 01, 2010

How to figure out fast crazy guitar $hit

Most guitar tabs suck. If you've ever found yourself looking at a tab and scratching your head because there's no way in hell it's right then welcome to my world. Free Internet tabs especially suck.Transcriptions done by people who are good at it can be great, artists that help by sending video of themselves playing the tune to the transcribers help immensely. Tabulature can start you off, and save you some time, and give you some choices, but if you want to play that thing right, and you suspect it's wrong in the tab, then you gotta figure it out yourself.

1. Find some fast crazy semi-impossible guitar lick you want to play in MP3 format.
2. Get ahold of some slow-down software for the PC like Transcribe or The Amazing Slow-downer that allow you to slow music down but keep the pitch. Regular audio programs lower the pitch when they slow a waveform down, kind of like playing a 45 on the 33 LP setting of your record player(gee what's a record player?).
3. Using the slow-down software you've loaded your MP3 into, isolate and loop  a 1 to 2 second manageable lick that you can keep in your head and eventually hum to yourself. You have to be able to recreate it by hearing how it goes in your head and keep it there.
4. To help do this SLOW IT DOWN but maintain the recorded pitch. Select a section and loop it.

5. Listen to it until you can hum it to yourself. If you can't slow it down some more or shorten the length of the snippet of the lick you're listening to.
6. Identify where it's being played on the guitar neck. If it's high or low, that's easy, if it's mid range and you can do the same lick on several spots on the neck, listen for wound strings verses unwound. Check for ringing open strings. Look for areas in the minor pentatonic scales where it is easiest to play. Get a live video of the artist and watch the hand position at the part in question (music videos are not good for this, the video is often used out of sequence and shows the guitarist's hand down at the nut when he is playing some wailing note high up the neck - IDIOTS!). Identifying where the lick is played eventually becomes second nature, but it's the hardest thing when you're starting out.  Sometimes the easiest way to play it is not what is on tape (like the rhythm part for Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover, most misplayed thing on the planet).

Here's a bit I'm trying to learn. It's the start of the second set of solo breaks  from "Juice" by Steve Vai. It's a fiddly little bit and I want to nail it.

Here it is at 100% speed, looped 4 times.

02 Juice Lick 100 by Zartimus

Here it is at 50% speed. Now you can see where everything goes

02 Juice Lick 50 by Zartimus

If you're still stuck, check it out at 25%.

02 Juice Lick 25 by Zartimus

You can hear the pick scrapes indicating picked notes. No pick scrapes and the general direction of the notes (up or down) indicate pulls offs and hammer ons. Bends are easy to hear. Right hand tapped notes have a weird attack overtone to them and become easy to hear after awhile. Same for slides and other types of slurs. Note groupings with bends and pull offs are dead giveaways to position.

If you want to be really cool, get a free tab program and write it out, so you don't forget. plus it will give you something to upload to guitar forums and get made fun of by people!

I don't know what I'd do without slow down software! When I was a kid I remember learning Hot for Teacher (Tab Mags were just starting out i the early to mid 80's) by putting it on my turntable and adjusting the speed until I got it running an octave slower. ACK! Later on I had a fostex 4 track which could do analog pitch shifting. Thank god for computers!

Here's a vid of Steve Vai playing it. He hits it at about 2 minutes :20 seconds.