Why You Should Own an Acoustic Guitar (Seagull)

April 26th, 2008 admin Posted in Musical Equipment No Comments »

Why You Should Own an Acoustic Guitar

So I went out the other day on a mission to finally buy a decent sounding acoustic guitar. Having a really great sounding acoustic guitar should be goal for all I think. Why? Because you don’t even have to know how to play guitar to appreciate the warm and beautiful sound of a well built acoustic guitar as we pass our fingers over the strings.

I know this sounds crazy to some, but think about it. A nice acoustic guitar makes for a fantastic decoration in your home, as well it has such a beautiful sound when it’s strings are brushed, strummed, or picked. I’ve been playing guitar seriously since I was 11 years old (now 44) and therefore I’ve had a guitar nearby for over 32 years. Learning to play guitar will soon follow, if you have a superior sounding and looking acoustic in your home beckoning you to touch it.

Nice dream here I know, but if you did have such an instrument near you I bet ya dollars to doughnuts you’re going to want to pick it up and start experimenting with it. Now, what kind of acoustic guitar do I recommend that has a fantastic sound, look, and low price point? Enter the Seagull acoustic guitars.

Seagull Acoustic Guitars

For those of you who don’t know what kind of acoustic guitar to buy that sounds really good, looks really good, and doesn’t cost too much, let me introduce Seagull Acoustic Guitars. These can cost as low as 350 dollars, and go as high as a couple G-notes.

Mine was only 450 bucks and it’s sound fantastic, looking amazing, and it’s a solid top acoustic to boot.

More on this later today.

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Review Update on Apogee Duet

April 25th, 2008 admin Posted in Musical Equipment No Comments »

Just an update on the Apogee Duet which I mentioned in my DAW article entitled “The Ideal Home Recording Studio in 2008” In that article I talk the Apogee Duet I/O box, and now I have actually used it on some recording sessions.

The Apogee Duet is everything that we’ve heard. It’s simply the best sound I’ve ever recorded so far in my life of home recording. This is no bull. The noise floor is hardly there and the sound quality beats even RME I/O boxes.

The preamp built into the Apogee is recommended over any of the cheap-o preamps like the Art stuff.

Apogee and Garageband is a powerful combination!

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The Ideal Home Recording Studio in 2008

March 31st, 2008 admin Posted in Musical Equipment No Comments »

ideal_home_recording1

Introduction – The Home Recordist’s Challenge 

The distribution of the Apogee Duet has created a perplexing reality in the music business. Along with the cutting edge DAW software packages becoming affordable for “the little guys”, and off the shelve PC and Mac computers, the big professional studios are having to completely alter there business model. Before the Apogee Duet was released the average part time (poor) musician could never afford the luxury of top-of-the-line preamps and analogue to digital conversion.

Sure, the weekend musicians, and young recording artists in waiting were getting a little bit closer to having professional level recording equipment, but high quality D/A conversion was not available to the masses. As the technology revolution presses on musicians around the world have been dreaming and striving for the ability to make music that can compete with major label releases as far as sonic quality is concerned. The problem is there are missing links. Below I will list some of the crucial links in the recording chain.

The Professional Recording Chain

In order of signal path, this is the basic modern recording chain and it’s different links.

  •  microphone
  •  preamp
  •  analogue to digital conversion
  •  tape or hard disk
  •  computer (processing power)
  •  signal effects (compression, EQ, reverb, ddl, etc) in mix-down
  •  mastering
  •  pressing

In a professional recording environment all these links are usually looked after using the best possible equipment and resources. Money is rarely a consideration – in fact, a major studio can spend over 300,000 on preamps alone. Mixing consoles can be in the millions. This was frustrating to home based studios and hopeful musicians since the dawn of pop music. The hope of recording your songs at a professional level was based on getting a recording contract. Times have changed!!

The DAW Revolution

First came the DAWs (digital audio workstations) that were really in beta-mode for a decade – such as Cubase and Nuendo from Steinberg, and Pro Tools from Digidesign. The latter is still out of reach for home recording studios, but the Steinberg products were financially within reach. Other DAW software packages such as AcidLogic, Samplitude, Cakewalk, etc. were becoming somewhat affordable, but the there was something else missing in the recording chain – processing power.

Not until as late as 2007 have off-the-rack computers had enough power to run the above mentioned DAW applications. There was the inevitable comparison between Mac and PC, the predictable rhetoric that came to pass.The truth is, until recently, no off-the-rack computer (laptop, notebook, desktop) that had enough processing power to operate DAW software competently. This led to many musicians becoming more “computer geeks”, than musicians. It also led the the OVER production of most home recording projects. Just like the recordings in the eighties when digital reverb and digital delay became mainstream, and midi became commonplace – mixing music became more about drowning a recording in effects, than highlighting the most important part of a recording.

The most important part of a recording is, and always will be, the lead vocal and the main instrument.So here we are now in 2008 whereby Mac and PC systems certainly have the processing power to run a good DAW package, and some of the processing effects are much better. Home recordists are getting smarter by buying signal processing equipment that competes with major studios. They’re buying quality microphones (condenser and dynamic) high quality preamps, and high quality D/A I/O processing.It used to be that high quality preamps, signal processing, compressors, and analogue to digital conversion could only be found on 100,000-300,000 mixing consoles, and in the professional studio racks.

 Most of the equipment was purely analogue and consisted of true hardware units consisting of tube circuitry. Some believe that the quality of this classic analogue gear will never achieved using digital equipment, but these critics have to admit the gap is narrowing. Some major studios are purely in the digital realm, though the source instruments are using amplification equipment that incorporate analogue (tube) technology. I personally don’t think that the source instruments will gravitate rapidly toward digital solutions. We’ll see in 10 year from now. 

The Ideal Home Recording System in 2008 

If you take into account cost and quality, there is an ideal home recording setup. This is arguable, and completely subjective, and I encourage your disagreements and comments below. Keep in mind that this setup can only record two tracks per take. 

Step One – Source Instruments

This is something that took me a long time to learn, and most developing musicians fail to understand this CRITICAL factor when setting out to record their masterpiece. You must invest in quality instruments when it comes to drums, electric guitars (bass and six string), pianos, and percussion instruments, and acoustic guitars. Make sure the instruments are all tuned, setup, and calibrated before even thinking about laying down your first tracks. Make sure you have strings and skins that are not too wore out and dead.Make sure your cables are short and high quality. Make sure the room your recording in doesn’t have too many reflections and noise present. Make sure your electric equipment is not creating noise that your microphone will surely pick up and add to all your tracks.

Step Two – DAW

If you are a new Mac owner who bought your Mac in 2008 you are already one step ahead in the quest for the ideal home recording system. Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops come with Garageband included in the software package. Garageband is THE MOST advanced DAW you can buy for the price point. Garageband in built on the Logic DAW platform, and Mac has made this popular DAW accessible to hobbyists and professionals alike.

Step Three – Mics and Preamp

You need a few microphones, and this can be VERY expensive. However, there is a way to buy a large condenser microphone for recording vocals and instruments. Buy a C1 from Studio Projects, and buy it’s preamp cousin the VTB 1 V Series Preamp. Buy a couple of cheaper dynamic mics as well like a Shure SM58 and Shure SM57.

Step Four – I/O or A/D Breakout Equipment Digital to Analogue Conversion

Get the Apogee Duet for world-class digital to analogue and analogue to digital conversion. These two channel units cost $500 dollars. The Duet has it’s own preamp built in as well so you can use it instead of the VTB 1. Depends on the track you are recording of course.

Step Five – Mix-down or Playback Speakers

You can buy may different near-field speakers for mix-down and playback purposes. You can use Tannoys, Sony, Mackie, Yamaha, etc, etc, etc. Don’t buy speakers that enhance any part of the frequency spectrum. You don’t want your mids, highs, or lows being “hyped” in any way. You want your mixes to transfer to all playback systems, from car stereos, headphones, large rooms, and radio. You can even try doing your mixes through your MAC SPEAKERS! Whatever you do, never mix-down your at loud levels. Always at low levels. Nothing higher that 72 DB. You can buy a DB level meter for cheap. I use a Radio Shack special.

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Fender Squier Telecasters and Stratocasters

December 29th, 2007 admin Posted in Musical Equipment No Comments »

fender_squier_guitarsThe Fender Squier Telecasters and Stratocasters are revolutionary guitars in the musical instrument market. The Squier series of Fender guitars were available to musicians in 1981-1982, and something very big happened. Now, the average starving musicians could afford a high quality Fender guitar for a fraction of the retail price.

What’s Different On Squier Fender Guitars?

There isn’t much difference between the Squier Fender guitars the original, made in USA fender guitars. The original Fender guitars are manufactured and assembled in United States, and this gives them the right of passage to be called an “original fender”. Originally the Fender Squier brand was manufactured in the United States, but assembled in places like Japan or China. In fact, Fender Squier’s are made in places like Japan, Korea, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia, and of course China.

The Different Series Models of Fender Squier’s

There are various series of Fender Squier’s on the market. Below we list the complete Fender Squier series of guitars;

Affinity Series

– Squier Strat
– Squier Tele
– Squier Fat Strat
– Squier Mini
– Squier Mini Player
– Squier Duo-Sonic
– Squier Bullet
– Squier Bullet Special

Bullet Series

– Squier Bullet Strat

California Series

– Squier Stratocaster
– Squier Telecaster
– Squier Fat Stratocaster

Deluxe Series

– Squier Deluxe Hot Rails Stratocaster
– Squier Deluxe Stratocaster
– Squier Deluxe Stratocaster FMT
– Squier Deluxe Stratocaster QMT
– Squier Satin Trans Fat Stratocaster HH
– Squier Satin Trans Fat Stratocaster HSS
– Squier Satin Trans Stratocaster
– Squier Satin Trans Telecaster
– Squier Double Fat Telecaster Deluxe

Hello Kitty Series

– Squier Hello Kitty Mini
– Hello Kitty Stratocaster

Obey Graphics Series

– OBEY Graphic Stratocaster HSS Collage/Dissent
– OBEY Graphic Telecaster HSS Collage/Propaganda

Standard Series

– Squier Standard Stratocaster
– Squier Standard Telecaster
– Squier Standard Fat Telecaster
– Squier Standard Double Fat Stratocaster
– Squier Telecaster Special

Vintage Modified Series

– Squier Jagmaster II
– Squier Telecaster Custom
– Squier Telecaster Custom II
– Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster
– Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster HSS
– Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster SH
– Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster SSH
– Squier ’51
– Squier Cyclone

Signature Series

– Deryck Whibley Signature Telecaster
– Avril Lavigne Signature Telecaster
– Oh Olarn Phromhjai Signature Stratocaster

How Fender Squier Guitars Surprised the Music World

Fender Squier guitars have surprised the music world over time since the early 1980s. Fender Squier’s were meant to be a cheaper or more affordable alternative for so-called novice guitarists, but something very different happened. The quality of the Fender Squier series was so high that they can be used by novices and professionals alike. Musicians in 1980 to 1981 who bought a Fender Squier would have been expecting their guitar to last them maybe five years, but they lasted much longer.

Thousands of guitarists world-wide who bought their Fender Squier in 1981 are still playing them today. Just like a standard Fender guitars, the Fender Squier guitars needed fret jobs and truss rod adjustments after time, but nothing suggested that Fender Squier instruments will last as long as the standard standard Guitars. This is the boon for Fender as the reputation for quality has been greatly enhanced.

Fender Squier Parts

Fender Squier parts are just as good as the standard Fender guitar parts. In fact, they use almost exactly the same quality of parts as the standard guitars. The pickups, bridge pieces, nuts, pick guards, headstocks, machine heads, necks, bodies, and electronics are directly comparable. The all-important sound quality is almost undistinguishable to the trained ear. This is why many professional guitarists will use their Fender Squier’s when they’re out on the road, and the use their original standard Fender guitarists in the studio only. It all depends on a musician of course but Fender Squier’s are almost interchangeable with standard Fender guitars.

Of course, and the music business there are strong opinions that would disagree with my above assessment, but I can assure you purchasing a Fender Squier will not be disappointing experience.

Fender Squier Guitar Prices

Fender Squier electric guitars cost a fraction of their standard counterparts as mentioned above. You can buy a brand-new Fender Squier electric guitar, such as a Telecaster or a Stratocaster for between $150 and $300 depending where you are purchasing your new instrument. This makes the Fender Squier series a perfect starting point for beginners and novices. They can afford to have a high quality instrument while they learn and avoid the $1500 or $2000 for $3000 price tag that comes along with buying a vintage Fender guitar.

Fender Squier also makes bass guitars which are also high quality Fender instruments. Fender Squier bass guitar series this price about the same. You can pick up a Fender Squier guitar or bass from eBay or your local music store for less than $100 if you’re willing to put up with the nick or scratch (the scratches give the guitar character anyway). Remember that you can have your neck shaved, your frets replaced, and your hardware refurbished. As long as the headstock, neck, and wood parts of the guitar or not warped or damage you should be OK. The truss rod should be examined by an expert to make sure you have a Fender Squier guitar that last for many years to come.

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