(1) Elise bought me a gift certificate for a pickup replacement on my primary electric guitar as a birthday gift, which is perfect timing, as Gina and I were already plotting on evolving Arcati Crisis into the electric realm over the course of the next few months.
My guitar is an Epiphone copy of a Gibson 335, and after several years of playing it and digesting online reviews it would seem that the only non-esoteric detail separating my guitar from the equivalent Gibson is the style/tone of the pickups (and also the nut).
My original birthday gift plan was to outfit my guitar exactly like a brand-new 335 – with two Gibson 57 Classic humbuckers. However, at Arcati Crisis’s Tin Angel gig I got into a conversation with our friend Chris about the possibility of buying two different types of pickups so my neck tone is differentiated from bridge.
And, um, I am not quite rock enough to know anything else about this life-altering decision.
I spent a few days researching my various indie-rock heroes, but none of them has a distinct enough setup for me to emulate. Also, I can’t turn up anything on the guitar rig of Garbage ax-slinger Duke Erickson (he being ostensibly the reason I bought this particular guitar in the first place). However, I did locate the eminently informative Guitar Player Gear Guide blog.
Do any of you wonderful people know anything about this? I have to drop my guitar off at the store on Saturday if I have any hope of getting it back before the next Arcati Crisis gig.
(2) I want a WordPress plugin that will insert illustrated initial letters into my posts, both automatically and on-demand. Bonus points if they are illuminated.
I know enough PHP to be a minor threat when it comes to WordPress, but this particular concept is out of my realm because it involves live rejiggering of text as its being called out of the ether of my database.
(3a) After an inexplicable one week delay the new PJ Harvey disc, White Chalk, came out yesterday. It’s been billed as PJ’s piano album, but that only tells a fraction of the story. It’s really more like her indie, piano-based, acoustic, English-Appalachian folk record. Sort of. Full review forthcoming.
(3b) Also inexplicable: Bruce Springsteen‘s lead single (“Radio Nowhere“) is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in months, and the production is all tight and sparkly and curiously “Since U Been Gone” sounding.
A quick sample spin through the rest of his newly released Magic yields similar results on at least three others songs, leading me to (for the first time ever) want to buy a Bruce Springsteen CD in a bad way. But, then I’m like, dude, you so do not like Bruce in any way, shape, or form. In my youth he was relegated to my mother’s forbidden trinity of vocal idiosyncrasies – Bruce, Bob, and Neil.
Even having disposed of a few of those systematically programmed prejudices (e.g., I do not ridiculously eschew middle Beatles) I can’t seem to succumb to the Magic of Asbury Park’s favorite son. I even tried paying for a copy with Elise’s credit card to try to alleviate some of the hard-coded guilt, but I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it.
Maybe if i just buy it track by track from iTunes I can avoid any imperative towards self-immolation my mother may have embedded in my unconscious psyche in my infancy through a series of flash cards.
(3c) OMG, I forgot to mention the best part of last week’s happy (six) hour(s): Melon is going to go to the Kelly Clarkson concert with me. Oh yessss.
(End Note) Not only does me + Gina = awesome rock stars, but as of a few minutes ago I completed the first draft of a standard notation transcription of one of our songs, complete with guitar tabs and harmony.
I cannot express to you the undue amount of excitement this is causing me, a major sheet music fetishist.
Sheet music! Of our song! Necessary because we forgot how to play it!
(Or, more accurately, because we recorded it in one night for SongFight, so it never really existed as a song that we could play together in a physical space (though I believe we once attempted it at a Lyndzapalooza).)
Alright, enough chatter.
I had the same reaction to that Springsteen song! I’ve never been a big fan and the first time I heard it (before I knew who it was) I was thinking: this is great. I need to find out who it is. I actually tracked down an old college buddy who is a Bruce freak to tell her, “Hey, I like a Springsteen song.”
I wish I could help with the guitar or WordPress thing however, if you ever have questions about growing pumpkins or baking, I am your go-to person.
I have two maxims:
1) Tone is in your fingers.
2) Pickup nerds make me reach for my revolver.
I’m much more familiar with the Fender world, but over there the idea that good pickups will turn a Squire Strat into a Real Strat is pretty much BS, and I suspect the same thing applies to Epi’s. Especially since it’s a hollowbody, build quality makes a huge difference in tone, inasmuch as the casual listener will probably never notice a difference anyway.
Here’s my pet peeve: Tone is such a personal preference, yet you’re expected to purchase based on someone else’s opinion, who hasn’t heard the pickups played through your guitar. There’s no way to find out how they’ll sound until you’ve had them installed, and then how willing will you be to give the guitar up again and have them taken out?
Your bridge and neck positions already sound quite different, and the Dot gives you tone controls for each. You can also use EQ, light OD, and other effects (leaving a wah in a fixed position is popular.) What else are you looking for?
As I said, I don’t know too much about the difference between various electric pickups, or for that matter about how electrics produce tone quality in general.
I was working from the assumptions that the wood was ultimately not making too huge of a difference, since it’s not as resonant as in an acoustic, so I just needed to update the hardware to effectively be playing a much more expensive guitar, which would be nice since I don’t seem to be any closer to buying a higher-end electric.
(That purchase was previously thought to be a blue Les Paul, but no matter how many times I try I really never enjoy playing them. And I don’t like Fenders in general. So, I’m not sure what I’ll buy. It just has to be blue.)
(I used to not care about this sort of thing until I bought my current acoustic, and now I understand why guitarists are so particular, and that I’m allowed to be too.)
I could always convert the gift certificate to something else, but the selector switch has always been a little iffy on mixed, and so I resolved to get that, the nut, and the pickups all swapped out in the same run, as well as a general tune-up, trust-rod adjust, et cetera.
In any event, I also need to buy an amp, which is way more intimidating to me because I don’t have a super idea of what kind of sound I want for Arcati Crisis yet.
If you’ve tried some more expensive Gibsons, and are still happy with the Epi, then by all means go for the upgrades — you could very well have found “your gem”.
Once you have your guitar the way you like it, you can use that to find an amp whose tone you like.
The folky acoustic nature of the Arcati Crisis (great name, by the way!) tracks on your myspace make me think of that light, chimey Fender, or perhaps Rickenbacker sound. Perhaps there’s a pickup that could get you closer to the classic folk-rock tone. But if you like the Gibson sound, run with it, make it your own.
Yeah, we both gravitate to that very clean Byrds/mid-Beatles guitar tone; that would probably be a useful channel of investigation for me.
(Actually, the other big influence on my hollow-body purchase was mid/late-Beatles John Lennon, who I believe mostly played Gibson Sheratons (?))