Quick Musical Thoughts

Just jotting down a couple of quick music thoughts.

Car music tomorrow? I have three songs ready for vocals so why not? It’s the last day of my sick leave too so again, why not?

The day after tomorrow is the day I go back to work. I think it’s also the day I reach out to the guys in the band and tell them I’m feeling ready to get together. I mean that from both a recovery stand point and a Covid standpoint. I just think it’s time.

If a practice is in our future, I think I’ve changed my mind on what gear to bring. I was going to bring the new pedal board but now I think I’m going to bring the old one. I might add an extra dirt pedal or two as well. We shall see.

Okay, it’s time for bed. I need to get some sleep if I want to car music in the morning. G’night, folks.

Tube Amps are Heavy

There was some talk between a couple of us in the band of trying to get everyone together sometime in June and seeing if we can have a band practice or something. I’m really hoping we can make that happen.

I started figuring out what to use for gear for this hypothetical jam. My new Les Paul is a given. The new pedal board I put together a few weeks ago is a given too. For the amplifier I was going to bring my AC15. There’s a problem with that though.

I’m under doctors orders to not lift anything heavy. I’m maxed at 25 pounds. That continues at the minimum through mid-June. Unfortunately tube amps, even little ones, are freaking heavy. My AC15 weighs about 50 pounds. Okay, so that’s out. I’m now planning on taking my MV50 and my Fender 1×12 cab. That’ll work.

Once we get into July I’ll bring the AC15. I want to bring my Deluxe Reverb home from the rehearsal room so I can use it on home demo goofiness. That amp is even heavier, so it’s going to stay where it is for now. I could use that at the first practice, but I’m afraid something might have happened during the 2+ years it’s been sitting and I don’t want to rely on it.

So NuTubes it is.

Straight In

I played a little today. Nothing serious. I just plugged straight into an amp and noodled. I did do a small experiment. I am thinking of taking my Vox AC15 to the next Lizardfish practice (whenever that might be) but I have never really pushed the volume. Is it loud enough to compete with the rest of the band? More importantly, if I get it up to band practice volume, is the tone still clean?

I dimed the master volume and then brought the channel volume up a little at a time. I got up to 92 decibels (according to my AppleWatch) and it was still clean as a bell. The band does get louder than that, but my channel volume (I was using the amp’s Normal channel, not the Top Boost) was only on about four, so there is still some room available. I don’t know when that channel starts breaking up, but I wasn’t even close. I think my band practice plans are good to go.

The question then is, do I use the Normal channel or the Top Boost channel? That’s still undecided.

I Need to Practice

I haven’t touched a guitar in 20 days. I need to carve out some time this weekend. I have been thinking about bringing my Vox AC15 amplifier to the next Lizardfish practice, whenever that is, and I need to see how loud I can get it before the tone breaks up. I know my other 15 watt amp, the Fender Bassbreaker 15, can’t get terribly loud before it distorts. I think the AC15 handles it better, but if I can’t get it loud enough to compete with a drummer while still staying clean, then I can’t use it at practice. Really, I just want to bring my Fender Deluxe Reverb home again.

Speaking of Lizardfish, Mike the Bass Player is in Cleveland today. He sent us a bunch of pictures from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To quote Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Alex Lifeson, blah blah blah. Mike sent me a picture of the BB King display. It’s awesome. Thanks, Mike!

At our last discussion, Mike said he’d be away for a couple of weeks. After that we can try to set up a rehearsal date. I really want to play. I really want to play. I’m still scared shitless of getting sick, but I really want to play.

It’s going to be a couple of weeks before the kitchen updates are finished. Once that’s all done I am going to start looking for a guitar tech to hire to work on my stuff. I’ll go with the ES-335 first. Check the frets, check the neck joint, rewire the whole friggin’ thing. Four new pots, a new jack, maybe a new pickup switch, and all new wiring. Don’t touch the pickups, they are gold and need to live forever. Everything else that lives under the covers, replace.

I’m worried about the neck joint. It’s clearly pulling away from the body, but it’s been doing that at a glacial pace for at least 22 years. I’m worried, but I’m not that worried. I am really worried about the frets. I’ve never had a guitar refretted. If they need to be replaced, is it still going to feel the same way it did before? No, clearly, but will it be so different that I will fall out of love with one of my two favorite musical instruments on Earth*? I hope not. Especially given that the frets on my other favorite musical instrument, my Les Paul Custom, are in worse shape. We’ll find out.

Right. Lunch break over. Time to read that huge email a coworker just sent me. I’ve got some back story to get filled in on.


*Technically I should say it’s one of my three favorite musical instruments. My ’78 Les Paul, my ’79 ES-335, and the Selmer Mark VII tenor saxophone I played in high school. I haven’t seen that instrument since 1989. That sucker was in bad shape when it came to me, but it was glorious. Epically glorious. I loved that horn. It was brass magic.

Amp Swap

I made some changes to the bedroom music nook today. Sort of celebrating the fact that the RPM Challenge is over. Mixing it up, ya know?

I moved the Vox MV50 Nutube amp and the Fender Bassbreaker 112 speaker cabinet back into the living room. The electric piano is plugged into it again. I took the Bassbreaker 15 that I’ve been using for months and months down cellar and brought up the Vox AC15. The next time I play it will be through the AC15.

I am trying to work up the Covid courage to ask the band what their late-March schedules look like. I’m sort of hoping someone else brings it up first so if we all get Covid I won’t feel that extra layer of guilt. That’s ignoring the fact that we won’t be getting Covid, but that’s beside the point. I’m also thinking about bringing the AC15 to that first bad practice.

Speaking of venturing out into the world, I have been wondering to myself if this week’s vacation will be the time I finally bring my Fender Stratocaster to a music store, probably Guitar Center in Nashua, to trade it in for something else. First on the potential trade list is a Les Paul Junior. Second is the Fender reissue of the silver face Deluxe Reverb. Third would probably be a Gibson Firebird. All of those things will cost more than I could get for the Strat so price is an issue as well as store stock. Also, Covid. I don’t know if I am up to that yet. I don’t know if I’m up to anything yet, but going to the office once a week over the last three weeks, as well as some in person doctors appointments… my courage is building up.

We’ll see.

Now What

RPM is over. Now for the annual “now what?” Post.

I assume the folks at RPMHQ will kick off another Record Every Month challenge. I’ll do that. I’m thinking two songs each month, sort of like a single. Then at the end of the year re-record the best songs?

In the real world I have to buckle down on the weight loss surgery prep. I have a bunch of directives from the dietician and so far have only integrated two. I think there are three more and one of them is a little Earth shattering.

Outside of that? There’s the band. I think I may have reached the point in the pandemic where I’m willing to try a band practice. I think. We will have to see. Fingers crossed I don’t panic and chicken out.

I’ll see if I can dream up anything else. I’ll let you know.

Volume

I’m watching a YouTubes video where folks are talking about how happy they are to be going to concerts again post-Covid. Now we can debate whether or not we are actually post-Covid (we clearly are not) but that’s sort of beside the point. One of the things they are enjoying is the volume level. I have to admit that I miss that. I miss standing in front of my amplifier, slamming an Emin7 chord, and being able to feel the air moving around my legs. It’s a pretty magical thing.

Lizardfish doesn’t really play that loud, whether it’s rehearsals or gigs. We just don’t. We play loud, but not loud enough to quite “feel” it. The main reason for that is the drums. Whichever amp I choose to use on a given day can do it. Mike’s bass amp can do it. Greg’s PA system can do it. Kevin’s drums can’t. In most of the bands I’ve been in it’s been the opposite. The drums were so loud we had to crank the amps to compete. Now we have to keep them somewhat low. I don’t know if it’s because Kevin doesn’t play that loud or if his drums don’t project that well.

What I do know is that the first time we get back together will be the first time I will play through my Fender Deluxe Reverb since February 1, 2020 and I am going to want to run that little bastard as hot and as loud and as crunchy as local noise ordinances will allow. The drums as we know them would not be able to keep up with that. However, after the 2/1/20 gig but before the start of the lock down, Kevin bought new drums. He hasn’t had a chance to play them. If the volume limiter was his actual drums, then what if the new drums project out like crazy and he is suddenly 10 times louder than we’re used to.

That would be awesome. I seriously hope that happens because I am going to want to be stupid loud.

Hopefully the day is coming soon. Please, Covid, let us have our band back.

Anniversary

I missed an important anniversary yesterday. I was all focused on Covid itself and I missed an important date that is mainly important because of Covid.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the last time Lizardfish played together. It was Greg’s birthday party. We played a couple of sets and it went really well (except for the untimely death of a snare drum head, RIP). We took a couple of weeks off after the show, like we usually do, then Jen, Harry, and I went to Florida for a week, and by the time we got back Covid was a thing and the country was starting to shut down.

We haven’t played since.

Every time I start thinking I might be okay with trying to get together, something Covid related happens that screws it up. We were talking about maybe having a play in December. I wasn’t really good with that, but maybe early January? Nope. Omicron. Crud.

Maybe… things seem to be calming down around here. Maybe March? Ugh. I miss playing for real. I miss my band.