What I learned Today…

360 Panorama

I spent a good two hours today in the wonderful A Strings Music Store in Pontypridd, South Wales. This was my second visit to the store and was even more enjoyable than my first (trying out a PRS Angelus SE). While I was there, I tried a couple of acoustic guitar amps: A Fishman Loudbox and an Acus ForStrings.

I learned some important things about my playing while I was there:

  • I need to play regularly with amplification because when amplified, the inconsistency of volume of my playing becomes more noticeable.
  • I can be lighter with my right hand when playing at volume because there isn’t a need for the guitar top to resonate (probably not true for K&K transducers).
  • I need to adapt my technique to address string squeak which is again amplified by playing at volume.

As a purely acoustic player, I need to attack the strings with my right hand to get the table (or top) of the guitar to resonate and sustain (though, perhaps I ought to change strings more often) and  I thought I had minimised string noise (again, perhaps I ought to change strings more often) but today’s experience proved otherwise.

So, I dug my Carlsbro Sherwood out from under the junk in the garage and installed it in my (tiny) music room and set it up on an amp stand to practice with until I can afford a quality amplifier. I have also resolved to get out and play more often in front of an audience.

Getting back to A Strings, I spent two hours being allowed to play without being disturbed (unless I wanted to talk) and offered coffee or tea. Find them here or here. I shall be returning to the store in the next few weeks!

Picture of Fishman Loudbox acoustic guitar amp
Fishman Loudbox acoustic guitar amp
Picture of Acus acoustic guitar amp
Acus acoustic guitar amp

Snow, snow, thick, thick, snow

“Snow, snow, thick, thick, snow” sums up the current situation in South Wales perfectly.

A view from our kitchen window at 8.00 a.m. March 2nd.

I woke up this morning to no central heating and must wait until Monday or Tuesday for British Gas to attend for boiler repair. We are actually quite lucky because it looks like a pump or valve problem which means that we still have hot water (via an immersion heater) and electricity (for our 2 convector heaters) . Others are not so lucky.

Still, the snow falls outside. It’s pretty but it’s dangerous. Our neighbour is trying to dig out a path on the road with his mechanical digger. The UK is never well equipped for these weather conditions despite the advanced warning. It seems that plundering supermarket shelves of supplies is what passes for ‘being prepared’ – reactive rather than proactive perhaps.

Currently, I’m enjoying relearning all about Javascript, CSS and HTML in preparation for projects that involve the Earth Balm music material. I do seem to be stuck in a cycle though.

Wherever you are, keep safe.

Looks like Red Cow Music in York, one of my favourite music shops, is about to close.



Happy new year to everybody.

Just a post to say that I’ll probably be mothballing my WordPress and Twitter accounts for a short while. I’ve finally got to the point where I’ve started remixing and re-recording Earth Balm music and I’ve begun with the track Enchantment. Usually, I work on several tracks at the same time but currently I’m limiting myself to one piece of music as I get to grips with mastering Logic Pro X. Hopefully, I’ll be kept busy and out of mischief and have a good reason not to be wasting money as Logic Pro X seems to have everything I ever really needed already contained in its DAW walls. I’m loving the flexibility and sheer range of choice with the Drum Track.

I shall of course be checking my favourite blog posters’ post from time to time but would like to apologise in advance if I don’t appear to be responding regularly.

Please, wish me luck.

Early screen shot of the work below…

enchantment mixing
Logic Pro X “Enchantment” project picture.

Cubase and Logic help

Since retiring from full time work in February, my pension and part time wages haven’t been enough to cover my monthly bills and I’ve had to sell off some of my guitars and amps to cover the shortfall. However, I’ve been planning to work on my music files for a few years and kept some of the proceeds from the sales for upgrading my DAW to Cubase Pro 9.5 as its feature list is long and most marvellous indeed.

I diligently watched Steinberg’s ‘Festive Countdown’ sales offers (over the Christmas period) with my virtual cash at the ready . Everything except Cubase Pro appeared during the 12 day stint so I’ve decided to stay with Apple’s “Logic” DAW.

I’ve been with Cubase since I started recording with computers in December 2000 (at that time using it in tandem with Sonic Foundry’s “Acid Music” which had incredibly advanced pitch and time control but no midi or virtual instrument facilities) so was pretty au fait with how to make the most of it.

Now, I’m hoping that somebody out in the ether can recommend a truly comprehensive book that can help me utilise all of the features of Logic Pro X. I have the manual printed out and can refer to it but would like additional reference reading.

I’ve completed the task of turning all of the original Acid ‘stems’ into Logic files, including the Cubase / Cubasis VST generated audio but need to know how to make the most of facilities like side-chaining (particularly for gating audio), effects sends and returns and how to set up the mixer (I could go on and on). Next, I’ll be replacing audio with more modern sounding plug-ins and recording scratch tracks of guitar, bass and vocals. I need to do this because its my intention to alter keys and tempos and insert time signature changes (I’ve been bitten a little by the modern prog rock bug). It’s also my intention to incorporate more of my altered tuning acoustic guitar parts to the compositions. I have some 80+ pieces of older Earth Balm music, some even older Pre-Earth Balm songs and some 30+ acoustic guitar arrangements to keep me busy.

I guess I won’t be seeing daylight for several months.

Hope you all have a peaceful and prosperous 2018.


Edit December 27th @ 12.55: Thanks to Andy Long for suggesting this book.

Edit December 27th @ 19.33: Of course this means that all of the Cubase Files I recently converted from Acid Pro files now need to be converted to Logic Pro X files.

EB… what it’s all about

I know I’ve linked to this video before but while I work on the older Earth Balm remixes, I thought I’d just provide a link to a video that ‘illustrates’ one of the tracks. It’s a ‘fan’ video and not an ‘official’ one (indeed there are no legitimate Earth Balm files available on the ‘net). I’ll create a simple official video compilation over the next few days using the original mixes.

Yer tiz:


It seems that I’m getting close to 30,000 ‘visits’ to the blog and I’m grateful to anybody who visits this little corner of the ether, more so for those who return.

Apologies for being quiet and not posting regularly or indeed for a while.

I’m currently doing what I’ve promised to do for a while and I’m reworking all of my old Earth Balm tracks in a tiny corner of a perishingly cold garage. It’s meant reviving some old software and recordings and a switch back to the Windows platform on an ageing PC.  When I’ve cast that little primate from my shoulder, I’ve many acoustic guitar pieces to immortalise in binary and to record fully on paper too.

Hope everybody is well in these puzzling, troubled and troubling times.