Random Lunchtime Stuff

Some random thoughts as my lunch break winds down…

I read a great article from Guitar World yesterday called 20 Ways to Improve Your Les Paul. The need to have my 1978 Les Paul Custom repaired/upgraded is never very far from my mind, but I don’t have the money to spend on it and I am nervous about trying to sell another guitar to pay for it because what if I am overwhelmed with sellers remorse? Worse, what if I sell it for a lot of money and then find out I didn’t sell it for nearly enough. Oh, the stress! Anyway, the article made me want to get on with it, even though most of the things it suggests are things I wouldn’t do. Fifties wiring and PAF clones are about all I have in mind. That and frets… yikes!

Speaking of Les Pauls, I haven’t played my new Les Paul, or any guitar for that matter, in weeks. I am starting to go through withdrawals again, and I have zero calluses left on my left hand. I am soft and smooth and in for a lot of pain and unpleasantness when I do start playing again. Crap.

Speaking of Les Pauls again, I just finished listening to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in its entirety in one sitting for the second time in a week. I don’t know for sure that Steve Hackett played all of his leads on a Les Paul, but it seems that way. There’s clearly a Stratocaster on the next Genesis album, but The Lamb and the three records he played on prior to that all sound like Les Pauls to me. I think he played through Hiwatt amps back then, but I don’t know that for sure. When I saw him in 2019 he was standing in front of a Marshall and a single 4×12 cabinet (he was also not playing a Gibson Les Paul at that show, but a Fernandez Les Paul copy. I think it’s the same (or similar) model I saw Robert Fripp play that same month). I wonder if it was a real Plexi, or even cooler, and old JTM45. Oh, to go back in time with a pile of cash.

I need to go grocery shopping tonight, and I want to get an oil change for the Mazda, which is about to be Bellana’s Mazda. I want the car to be all up to date with everything when we “sell” it to her. I also want to go back to the store that sold me the jacket yesterday and get them to take off the damn security tag. I am pretty ticked off about that. I hope to see my parents this weekend if possible, but it really doesn’t seem like I am going to have the time. There are too many things going on right now, only some of which are related to the imminent xmas. I am hoping I can throw the wife and step kids into the car at some point over the weekend so we can all go out and look at xmas lights. I want that to include a visit to Boston too, but I know it won’t. I wonder if New Years Eve in the city is a possibility? The last time we did that it was followed a couple of months later by a global pandemic, so maybe it’s bad luck? Who knows.

Okay, lunch is over. Time to go be productive for a couple of hours before calling it a work week. HoHoHo, Merry weekend.

Catching Up

Right then. The turkey is in the oven, the first round of dishes are in the dishwasher, I finished Bellana’s laundry, I took out the trash and the recycling, and the camera batteries are all charged up. That means I can post the pics I would have posted in the last post.

My first stop on the film shootin’ journey today was Walnut Grove Cemetery. It looks something like this:

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My second stop was Greycourt Park which looks a little something like this:

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My third stop was the guitar nook which you’ve already seen in the last post, but this time the pic is from my DSLR because I’m a total fucking snob:

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Now, in honor of The Great Black and White Film Experiment of 2022, which was the reason for the first of the two stops this morning, here are the same three digital pictures in black and white:

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Film vs Digital Exercise

I did this recently and today I did it again, while suffering through stomach pain because I don’t know how to eat food anymore.

I put my DSLR onto the tripod, set the ISO to as close as I could get to the new roll of film, zoomed in to a point that is similar to the lens currently on Dad’s camera, used the light meter on my iPhone and set the aperture and shutter speed manually, manually focused while basically laying on the ground (I’m tall), and took a picture.

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Then I put the DSLR away and did all of the same steps with Dad’s film camera. Assuming I didn’t mangle the film while struggling to load the camera earlier today, then I have one picture down and 35 to go.

Some day in the distant future I will get this new roll developed and then I will compare the results. the focal length won’t be the same because the lenses don’t match up exactly, and the ISO on the film is 100 and my DSLR only goes down to 200 so really the two pics won’t have much of anything to do with each other… but so what.

I did notice that even with the aperture set the same, the depth of field was massively different. I couldn’t get the guitar and the amp both into focus with Dad’s camera so I focused on the guitar. We’ll see if it comes out… someday.

Also, just to note, I had to move my guitar nook to the other side of my office because of something to do with work that I don’t want to mention. This is how it looks now.

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Digital vs Film

I did a little comparison experiment today. Just cause.

I took this picture of me gitter using my DSLR. I set the ISO as low as it goes, put the camera on my broken tripod (it doesn’t tilt) with the legs closed all the way because otherwise I would have had a picture of the wall above the top of me gitter. I then used the light meter on my iPhone to figure out the aperture and shutter speed, used the auto focus and snapped.

I then put Dad’s film camera on the tripod and did the same. The ISO of the film in the camera is 100, which is lower than the DSLR goes so it’s not an exact duplicate test. I did set the aperture the same on both cameras but the shutter speed was a smidge lower on the film version. I manually focused and compared the light meter in the camera to the app and they were very similar. I then snapped the pic. The shutter was open for one second but it felt like 15 years.

Someday I will get the roll of film developed and in theory I will compare the two images. I say in theory because I can pretty much guarantee I’ll forget all about this by then and will never compare them at all. Oh well. I have a photo for the photo a day thing though, so that’s good.

70/365
70/365… a smidge over exposed?

Pain Pain and More Pain

I put leads on four songs before work this morning. It was a bad experience in three ways. First, I am so rusty it’s embarrassing. Second, the interface problems left me on the verge of screaming in fury and frustration the whole time. Third, I have no callusses on my finger tips anymore and I am in searing, burning agony right now. I played for about 45 minutes and oh my god the finger tip pain.

Fun.

I have four songs to mix by the end of the day. I don’t have an album-in-a-month for September, but maybe I have an EP in a month? At the very least I’ll have my first RPM Challenge Record Every Month song since RPM ended in February. That’s nice. The four songs I have to pick from are AWFUL and the guitar playing is AWFUL and the singing is AWFULAWFULAWFUL, but at least they exist. I guess.

My iPad has a USB C input. I am thinking of trying to use one of my USB interfaces with the iPad to see if the same problems with lagging will happen on that machine. If not, then I can keep writing and recording without wanting to punch holes in the wall in furious angry anger as the input signal drops out for a fraction of a second and fucks up a solid take… again and again and again and again. That would be nice. If the iPad work around doesn’t work… I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll need to upgrade to a faster USB interface but I most definitely do not have any money for that. Two kids in college, you know? Urgh.

Pics…

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30/365

Together at Last

I haven’t had my breakfast yet, but I did play guitar for an hour. I put rhythm parts onto two faux 50/90 songs.

For the first time ever, my new favorite guitar played through my favorite amp and it was glorious.

Well… the second song was glorious. The playing was sloppy as hell but the tone was epic. The first song… I might want to try that one again. It’s sounds good, but I think I can get it to sound better.

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Together again for the first time.

Planning and Postscript

Two things. First, weather.com says it is going to be sunny in the morning. I am going to try to get up around sunrise and go find a place in the city to take some film photo tests. Maybe just downtown before everything opens. Maybe the cemetery near the railroad station. Maybe the castle ruins. Maybe something else. I don’t know, but I want to do it and I only want to bring dad’s film camera. We’ll see what (if anything) happens.

Second, In regards to the previous post, Jen read an article tonight saying that people recovering from Gastric Bypass surgery probably should not try to eat broccoli until after three months or so. Something about the fiber causing food to get stuck. Well then I’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but I do feel perfectly fine at the moment. No worries.

Bonus third topic. I am in the middle of a third straight photo a day project thingie on Flickr. Every day for two years and nine months I have taken a picture with my iPhone. As of now, 9:14pm, I have not taken a picture with my iPhone. The streak lives, however, because I have taken a picture with my D90 and it’s on Flickr. The streak continues, babie!

Ain’t she sweet?

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Stressing

Surgery is in 16 days and I am stressing a little. Not about the surgery itself, but about some things that go along with it.

I need to book a Covid-19 test three days before the surgery. They gave me a few clinics I can go to. I spent a lot of time on the phone with two of them today, trying to schedule a test, and never spoke to a human. Jen reminded me that today is a state holiday in Massachusetts, so that might be why. Still… if you’re not home today, add that to your voice message.

I haven’t had caffeine since February 3rd (I think). I haven’t missed it. Even last Wednesday when I did my 38 hour sleep-free stretch, I was never wishing I could have some caffeine. I am today though. I am jonzing go-juice in a big way. I’m exhausted and I could really use a little help staying focused. I can’t though. I can never have caffeine again.

I do have one little piece of good news, surgically speaking. I checked the documentation they gave me to see what restrictions there are on lifting things immediately post-op. It says not to lift anything over 25 pounds for six weeks after the surgery. Why is that important to me? The average weight of a Gibson Les Paul is around 10 pounds. That’s a ton in the guitar world, but it’s far below my limit. Sigh of musical relief.

Chasing the Green Sound

Prior to the 50th birthday super gift, a new Les Paul Standard 50s, I was thinking about the future, post Covid and post college bills, where I was going to modify the shit out of my ’78 Les Paul Custom. I was going to go full blown boutique, cork sniffing snob on it. I was going to find the best sounding clones of original Gibson PAFs possible and put them in, and replace the wiring with a 50’s style harness and basically try and make my Custom as 1950’s-ish as possible.

Now that I have the shiny, wonderful new Standard, I’ve changed my plans to updating the holy hell out of the Standard and leave the Custom alone (except for the frets… and maybe the wiring harness). The question then is, do I try to turn my guitar into a modern knock off of a Les Paul from the late 50’s, or do I go for a modern knock off of Peter Green’s Les Paul?

I don’t know. What if I go for Peter Green and decided I don’t like the out of phase stuff? boutique, cork sniffing pick ups are expensive. I don’t want to have to play this game twice.

So we’re being goofy on the youtubes today, checking out some pick ups. I am going to say without a doubt that I will not be buying a set of Monty’s Guitars Bethnal Green PAFs. Partly because they don’t seem to be available yet, and also partly because the website makes me think they won’t be available in the US. That’s okay though. Let’s file this under research and Gear Acquisition Syndrome and just being a totally unabashed guitar nerd.


ADDENDUM: So I wrote the post while watching the video for the first time. After I published the video mentioned that you can buy them from Andertons if you’re in the US, and it’s not that they aren’t available yet, it’s that they are making them in small quantities and running out.

Take a Holiday

Yesterday was the 4th of July. Independence Day in the USofA. Today is the 5th of July which, thanks to the 4th falling on a Sunday, is the day we celebrate the holiday and have a day off from work. Amen to that, brothers and sisters in the American workforce.

I haven’t really done anything. I unclogged a drain in the bathroom sink. I finished watching Black Summer. I put guitars onto a couple of new song ideas. I’m up to six songs now.

I haven’t spent much time with heavier “rawk!” sounds with the new guitar. That changed today. I had some crunchy goodness going on. The bridge pickup on the new guitar is kind of in love with the Bassbreaker 15. The neck pickup is jealous of that love and therefore kinda bitchy. They aren’t playing all that nicely together. I’ll work it out. If not there will be a new pickup. Something swanky and boutique. Probably not until the kids are done with college though. Money? What’s that?

How about a little love for leather guitar straps. I’ve never owned one before but when the new guitar came (I still can’t believe Jen bought me a Les Paul for my birthday. Best birthday gift ever) I needed a new strap and I found a reasonably priced one on amazon.

One thing I learned, the cloth straps I’ve been using since day one back in 1987 play nicely with clothing. Meaning that when I need to adjust the strap’s position relative to my shoulder, it will slide around easily and not try to bunch up my shirt. Not so with the leather strap. The leather strap grabs hold of my shirt and drags it along with it everywhere it goes. I never thought of that before. No one was more surprised than me.

Anyway, are you having a happy long weekend? I am having a happy long weekend.


On a sadder note, Mary Weinrib passed away at the age of 95. Who is Mary Weinrib? Well pop culturally speaking, she’s Geddy Lee’s mother. Now giving birth and raising the greatest bass player in history and the frontman for the greatest rock band in history is a legendary accomplishment. That’s great. It’s also not the most amazing thing she’d ever done. Mrs Weirib, as a young woman, survived the Holocaust. She survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, among others. Rest in peace Mary Weinrib. Your kid done good.

I should also mention that I did not mention when Neil Peart’s father passed away a couple of weeks ago. Sorry about that.