Posts Tagged ‘electric guitar’

rickenbacker suicide, part 2

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Back in May of 2009, I wrote this post about opening the case and finding my once-trustworthy Rickenbacker 12-string to have a broken tailpiece, snapped in two by the tension of the strings.

I found rumors on the net about inferior alloys used by RIC in the late 80’s as well as the unusually high tension of the Pyramid brand of strings I was using. With a new tailpiece and the guitar tuned down a whole step (from EeAaDdGgBBEE to DdGgCcFfAADD), I figured I was in good shape.

Lo and behold, I opened up the case last month and strings were everywhere—the tailpiece had apparently snapped again. Fortunately it was not the floating “R” logo tailpiece this time, but the clasp screwed onto the body that the “R” piece hooked into. In other words, the other half of the older equation, rumored to have the faulty alloy.

I have a hard time believing that it could be the Pyramid strings when I had the guitar tuned down a whole step. Nonetheless, lots of Rickenbacker-obsessed people who spend a lot more time with this sort of thing than I do all seem to be recommending switching strings, so I ordered some Thomastik Infelds just in case, and as a lower tension will make for easier string-bending.

Apparently Rickenbacker corporate hates Pyramids so much that they refuse to let anyone mention them by name on their website, and replace the word “pyramid” with “tetrahedron.” Likewise, using the name of a popular compression pedal that people use to get that Byrdsy jangle (even endorsed by Roger McGuinn himself) is verboten: “JangleBox” becomes “Jingle Bells.” Why they dislike the pedal isn’t entirely clear, aside from vague intimations of copying the built-in circuitry of a unit that’s no longer even made.

Very odd indeed.

at noizefest ’09 (no. 11)

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

This was not a “song”, at least insofar as I did not rehearse for it other than to check my equipment that morning. (This will very apparent to you after listening to any portion this.) But it was noizefest, so there ya go.

noizefest placard

Sign by Ray Bong, who through the miracle of the internet knew about my other life as an Apple developer and a certain pissy email that I got from the CEO-emeritus Steve Jobs. I don’t really think that makes me his “enemy”, but it was good stagecraft, and was probably the most interesting part of the set.

So here’s the recording of what turned out to be my first completely solo set ever, clocking in around 12 minutes, and titled thanks to Ray Bong. You can hear him shout out at the very end!

#11 “Enemy of Steve Jobs” (Noizefest NOLA 2009) (17.6MB mp3, 12:49)

Thanks to Phil of Slobodan for letting me use his amp (that’s his feet in the picture above). Setup was 6 string electric through overdrive, looper (Boomerang), then echo (Memory Man) into the amp. Most of the noise is the Memory Man delay loopback.

rickenbacker suicide

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Of course guitars can’t really do themselves in, but it looked like my late 80’s Rickenbacker 330 12-string had done just that when i opened the case on Friday to find this:

broken rickenbacker

After getting over the initial shock, i realized that it was the “R” tailpiece that had broken, presumably during a hurricane evacuation or just being in storage in hot weather. But this guitar had been halfway around the world with me since around 1991, and I had never had this happen before.

Rickenbacker will replace the “R” provided that I send them the old one and buy the replacement as well. It’s a pretty old guitar, so I suppose that’s reasonable, but the replacement part is $100 which is not cheap.

No real answers as to why it happened either, but looking on the Rickenbacker boards it seems that there was some problem with the models of this era and hopefully fixed now. The extra tension on the 12-strings (versus a 6-string) is obviously a factor, as it doesn’t happen on 6-strings. And when the person at Ric customer service asked me about what kind of strings I had on it — I had Pyramids — he seemed to believe that these strings had a higher tension rating which may have contributed to the crack.

I’ve had this guitar for nearly 20 years and only ever had one issue with it — when a piece of later-discovered cat fur was blocking the jack preventing me from playing “Fearless” at a Halloween show where we performed as 1972 Pink Floyd — and excepting some screws that went rusty, have not had any reason to question the quality of their manufacturing process. It’s been a great guitar, and hopefully will be again soon, but I am really going to have to consider using different strings, or storing it differently, or something. Hopefully the replacement tailpiece will be of stronger stuff!

Blues for the American Health Care System

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

january skies

I thought that this week I might record an upbeat song to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama.

My free time got eaten up by an unexpected work call, but I was still able to get together with friends and had a hell of a time and a rockin’ jam.

And today, the plumbing backed up (I’ll spare you the details) so instead of doing any of my more elaborate ideas, I thought I would do what comes most natural to me. Without further ado, here is a simple one-take electric guitar improvisation in A, a bluesy ambient kinda thing, no edits or overdubs. 

Blues for the American Health Care System (9:00, 12.4MB mp3)