All posts in Music

Fix a Guitar with a Toothpick

Guitar-and-toothpick

There is a lot riding on that little strap post at the end of your guitar. In my case it serves double-duty by holding the strap and a TriplePlay MIDI pickup bracket. Over-tightening this screw can lead to trouble. Once the wood inside the guitar is stripped, the screw will just spin in place and never truly tighten – unless you know the toothpick trick.

Jamie, a repair tech at Guitar Center, showed me this quick fix for strap post security. He removed the screw and dropped a short piece of toothpick into the hole. This gives the screw new wood into which it can bite. The previously free-rotating screw now stays in place firmly with a rock solid hold on the TriplePlay bracket.

B. B. King plays tribute to his influences

In this video from 1972 B. B. King speaks and plays tribute to many of his guitar heroes; Blind Lemon Jefferson‘s flaminco-esque solo work, the clean touch of Lonnie Johnson, the dominant 9th chords of T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian‘s diminished chords, and Django Reinhardt‘s clarity.

Best wishes to the king.

The iPad-charging Powered USB Hub Alesis IO Hack

untergeek

After reviewing dozens of available USB devices, guitar inputs, and obscure gadgets, I have given up the quest for a ready-made device that will satisfy my desire for a USB hub that charges the iPad, from batteries, while it hosts other USB devices. Currently, there is no such product. But one crafty, Dremmel-wielding hacker has created that very thing.

Untergeek tore apart an Alesis IO Dock and inserted a USB hub internally between the iPad and the IO Dock. It is almost as simple as it sounds if you know your way around soldering, hot glueing and warranty voiding. Here is a video on how to DIY it.

Continue reading →

The Hubbub Guitar System – Part 1 – The Plan

Hubub-Feature

hubbub – noun – A loud confused noise from many sources.

The Hubub is a fitting moniker for our current iPad-based guitar system project; a melange of synth sounds, MIDI signals, analogue guitar, and the digital mayhem that ensues.

It’s doubly appropriate since a customized USB hub will be required to make it all possible, or at least practical. A primary goals of this setup is that it should run entirely from rechargeable batteries, sans power leads. It’s a lofty, but worthwhile goal. Over the next few weeks we shall see if that goal is achievable in a cost-effective way.

hubub-diagramTo the right is a diagram of the planned system. The main challenge of this computer-less approach is maintaining power for the iPad. Powering the USB hub, and the devices attached to it, from a battery is easy enough. But music software tends to drain an iPad battery quickly, so we want to be able to charge the iPad while in use. There doesn’t appear to be a product available that accomplishes this goal without a computer somewhere in the mix.

But we are working towards a solution. Soon many, if not all, of the devices below will be happily hooked up to an iPad air, buzzing along from rechargeable batteries.

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The BE Guitar – Clearly Different

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It’s hard to argue with Rob O’Rilley when he says that the visual design of guitars has been stagnant for 50 years; “Everyone is playing the same model. The visuality of it is a huge part, but also the functionality is a huge part.” Being a fashion-conscious musician, he decided to take on both of these challenges himself. He also chose to take on investors to help him push his dream axe forward.

Dragon’s Den is a reality television show where budding entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel of venture capitalists. Rob successfully secured angel funding for the business there, and followed it up with a successful Kickstarter campaign.

image-beguitar-fullToday his Killarney, Ireland shop is in full production, and his BE Guitar is garnering good press. Rob’s business goal is as clear as his guitar; to sell 2000 instruments in the first year. Sure it looks cool, has innovative functionality, and is reasonably priced for a hand crafted instrument, but how does it play? I should know in a week or so when mine arrives.

From the BE Guitar Website:

Features such as Personalisation, its genius balance bar and optional iphone interface brings guitar design to a new level. Matt black charcoal finish, gloss white fretboard and transparent acrylic centre gives BE-Guitar its stunning look.

This plexiglass picker will become the centerpiece of an entirely new iPad-based guitar rig I am designing. Inspired by JamUp, the best guitar multi-effects software on the planet according to none-too-modest developer Positive Grid, I have decided to shelve the THR Rig, my first laptop-based digital system, and go all out i.

George Duke at NAMM 2008

Today we say farewell to George Duke, keyboard legend. He brought his amazing jazz fusion style to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention for over 25 years. He other cool collaborators over the years included Jean-Luc Ponty, Miles Davis, and Micheal Jackson (Off the Wall, 1979.) I hope you enjoy this clip of Dukey on Fender Rhodes piano as much as he enjoyed playing it.

Working with Final Cut Pro X Audio in Logic Pro X

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The release of Final Cut Pro X was the most turbulent product launch of recent memory. The controversy rhetoric has thankfully died down since, and the product continues to improve every few months thanks to  ongoing efforts from Apple as well as third-party vendors. Looking past the more argumentative points of workflow changes and vanishing features (don’t get me started on the lack of Motion round-tripping) few would argue with the statement that FCP audio tools have always been anemic.

For months, many FCP editors have hoped that a new version of Logic might appear like a knight in shining armor galloping to our auditory rescue. Alas, has not quite worked out that way … yet. There is some semi-cumbersome interoperability between the recently released Logic Pro X and FCPX, but the export/import/export dance is far from the fleet-footed round-tripping we were hoping for.

None the less, here’s a collection of workflows and tutorials from around the internet that lead to FCPX/LPX harmony.

Logic Pro X And Final Cut Pro X Working Together: FCPXML

Ben Balser from MacProVideo explains Roles, audio formats, and working with FCPXML files in this well illustrated walk through.

FCPX & Logic Pro X Integration | Tutorial

Dan Alen offers a screencast tour through the steps involved along with some handy tips on what not to do.

Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X: How they work together

Alex Gollner, better known as Alex4D serves up his explanation of the step-by-step process on his popular website. Be sure to also check out his article prognosticating What Logic Pro X tells us about the future of Final Cut Pro X.

Logic Pro X and the Death of Software Upgrade Pricing

It only took a few hours after Logic Pro X’s release for several hastily prepared first impression videos to start appearing, as well as two professionally produced courses from training companies fortunate to have pre-release product access. Early adopters hungry for insight, instruction, or just a good software geek binge love a thoughtful tutorial or walk-through. It’s information at the speed of screen capture.

Now a few days later, the punditry starts to pour in. This is to be expected with a tent pole software release from Apple. Nothing stirs the opinion pot like a seemingly precedent-setting move from Cupertino. The theme of this weeks news cycle is the confirmed death by execution of software upgrade pricing.

To set the stage, the Apple App Store has yet to make available a system for discount purchasing of software upgrade. And after five years, it seems that they have no interest in doing so, much to the chagrin of many software consumers. Some vendors toy with workarounds, such as first week discounts on new releases. The theory is that it is a discount to customers astute enough to be tracking upgrade cycle of their favorite app. The technique is a nice kluge that does double duty as an awareness promotion for new patronage. But it’s a double-edged sword that cuts loyal customer that don’t happen to be poring over software release cycles with the diligence usually reserved for stock portfolios and Breaking Bad season premiers.

Leo Laporte laments the lack of upgrade pricing, “Why is that impossible in the App Store? We have computers now. Surely they can figure this out.” Take his semi-rhetorical question in the satirical manner it is presented and not as technological naïvety. Yes, they’ve done this before, and sure it may be another Apple industry-decreed vision of the future. But I think it is likely a subtler move; a pricing test balloon to judge public reaction from a niche market, rather than a hard hardware statement reminiscent of the overnight obsolescing of floppy discs or the FireWire force feeding of the past.

Not that those tough love tactics weren’t good for the industry, and the human race in general. But they did demonstrate a boldness that Apple has not shown since Steve’s passing. Perhaps the release of the new Mac Pro will “demonstrate the full power of this station” once again with a bold, definitive move. We will have to wait for the price reveal to fully know.

Apple-Check2

Until then, it is safer for the more timid (like a fox) Tim to flex experimental muscles with the mushiness of product pricing. That’s easier to backtrack on (I’m looking at you iPad 2 $100 refund check) than are decisions set in the stone that is silicone, plastic, and aluminum.

George Harrison Lost Guitar Solo

Here is some sonic spelunking from the Martin Scorsese 2012 documentary Living In The Material World. Sir George Martin, Giles Martin, and Dhani Harrison are sitting at a mixing console listening to the stems of Here Comes The Sun. Sir George tells Dhani, “Try this” as he isolates his fathers lead vocal. “What do you think of that?” asks Sir George. “That’s great.” replies Dhani.

Giles pots up the string track commenting that “this and Something had great string arrangements on it.” Then he points out to Sir George; “Here  was a guitar solo that he played that never made the final cut” as Danhi slides the fader on a track never heard beyond the confines of Abbey Road.

Dhani, “It’s totally different to anything I’d ever heard.”
Sir George (to Giles), “We never used it?”
Giles, “No.”
Sir George, “I’d forgotten about that.”
Dhani, “I never even knew about it.”

Many thanks to Marco Moir for recommending this clip.

Quick Start your Logic Pro X experience with these tutorials.

Logic-Pro-X-MacPro-and-Lynda

Today’s release of Logic Pro X may have take me by surprise, but not the fine people at MacProVideo or at Lynda. They both released same-day courses for Apple’s new DAW. Both are likely worth the price of admission when it comes to a program of this depth, but here are links to the free stuff:

What’s New In Logic X Pro

MacProVideo video offers up about 45-minutes of free video covering the new features. Steve Horelick does a fine job demoing and explaining some of the more impressive features such as the new iPad-based Logic Remote, Flex Pitch, MIDI FX, Drum Kit Designer, Track Stacks, Retro Synth, and more.

Logic Pro X New Features

Lynda.com allows non-members to watch these three samples of their new LPX course. Dot Bustelo offers a more step-by-step approach to getting students going quickly.

And more…

No doubt that there will soon me a plethora of user-created tutorials all over YouTube. Found some you like? Let me know about them and I will add them to this article.

SFLogicNinja

David Earl, composer/producer and Logic Studio guru, presents a rapid fire 20 minutes on cool new not-to-be-missed features in LPX. Also look for David’s in-depth work on several MacProVideo tutorials.

Jim Dalrymple

Jim (The Loop) has been following Apple and its products for the last 17 years. He has been a guitar player for 20 years and records music  using GarageBand, Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, Line 6, Native Instruments, IK Multimedia, ToonTrack, FXPansion and a host of other applications. Here is his walkthrough of the impressive new Logic Drummer.

Logic-Cafe

Not every tutorial needs to be an extensive all-inclusive video. The Logic Cafe offers bite-size info blasts on details that are easy to miss. Their pieces are well illustrated in a thoughtful step-by-step manner. Check out this tip at www.logic-cafe.com  and “never hit a wrong note again.”

Sonic Academy

Chris Agnelli of Sonic Academy is on the spot. Only a few hours after release they have several first look videos up, including this one exploring MIDI Effects and the Arpeggiator.

Dan Allen

Dan is a filmmaker in the UK. In this video he walks us through a Final Cut Pro X workflow for mixing and editing video soundtracks utilizing the new XML import/export features of Logic Pro X. Dan usually focuses on Final Cut tutorials, but promises a more in-depth look at FCPX/LPX integration soon, and more LPX tutorials if requested. Yes, please.

UPDATE – Aug 6, 2013

Groove 3

The crew at Groove3 is passionate about music technology. Apple Certified Pro Eli Krantzberg has created a 5-hour comprehensive Logic Pro X course. There is about 20-minutes of preview lessons explaining FlexPitch, using Apple Loops, and exploring various inspectors. Or, just pay the $15 bucks for a month of access to over 600 hours of their training videos. Looks like a good deal to me.

There is no wrong way to play this.

Crazy-Music

Many thanks to the Seymour Duncan blog for pointing out this long-lost (for good reason) piece of music. Directions to the player include “Pluck with dignity,” “Play a little faster than the others,” and “Leap over Cellist.”

See the full sheet music after the break… Continue reading →

András Szalay at NAMM

Andras_Szalay_NAMM_2012

I’m not sure how I missed this one before but here is a video of András Szalay, along with Burr Johnson, at last year’s Fishman NAMM booth. When asked how he achieved the superior tracking of the Triple Play, András, holder of six midi guitar patents, modestly replies, “I’ve had some experience.”

 
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