Category Archives: News

weather has changed for the better

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…but my head is still in the clouds.

The title of this post is intended as my response to Elspeth’s tagging me. I was meant to write a six word memoir about myself. Of course this doesn’t allow for much, and I had to break the rules by adding a contrasting sentence…

(I’m not really part of a blogging community, so everybody who would like to write a six word memoir about him- or herself is kindly invited!)

guitar & gear: Fender Jaguar, ’67 Vox AC 30, Tube Reverb

Jaguar=GAS?

Some musicians suffer from a disease called “gear acquisition syndrome”, or GAS, and it looks like I am one of them. Or maybe not.
Like those people, I always have another amplifier, a new guitar, or at least a little stomp box in mind, and it’s not only pure pleasure I get out of it (though many people perceive me like that).
Like with my new Fender Jaguar guitar, buying something can be followed by hard work and frustration (for the modifications required). Of course, in the end everything turns out well, and as soon as I’m done with one thing, it’s just about time to make a new plan.
That’s one perspective. Another perspective serves as a proof I’m not infected: I hardly ever sell the gear I buy, and I’m totally dedicated to using everything I own in a creative way. Only there’s so much creativity, linked to sound and equipment in a peculiar way (which I only got to know over the last few years) – the artist within demands ever more searching!

And what have I found this time? Well, now it’s not a surprise anymore, and I could tell you, like I told you when I got the new Vox AC 15 amplifier, that it’s the best guitar I ever had or even played. And it would be just the truth. The Fender American Vintage Jaguar is a little known guitar with an arguable fame, but like always, everything depends on on taste, on perspective, on you. Or me.

Instead of arguing, I’ll show you some pictures. And for very sure, you’ll get to listen to this instrument in one of the next posts. I think I’ll tell you the whole story how I got to this guitar in one more “News”-post, coming soon.

What about you? Are you GAS-infected, too? Or maybe something similar…

glimpses of nirvana


That’s what the British Rock Group Procol Harum (also one of my favorites) called it on their enigmatic tune “In Held Twas In I”.

And that’s what I was so blessed to experience through music and sound these days. After a period of uneasy waiting, desperately seeking for something to do while my only motivation was to expand my musical environment in order to take the next step – now the really best amplifier I ever heard with electric guitar finally hit my studio. And it’s mine.

I suppose only few of you can imagine how – well, non-materialistic, almost spiritual such an experience can be. Unless you are infected by the same virus as me, it may be just an amplifier to you, designed to annoy the neighborhood.

But it’s much more. It brings a vision into life. It fulfills a lifetime dream of mine, one I didn’t even really know I had, for lack of knowledge. Well, I only knew this amplifier’s bigger brother, the legendary AC 30, when I was young, but nevertheless this is the final point of a several years’ research, of my search for the right amplifier. This one has the smoothest and most pleasant high frequency response I ever heard. It’s just the right size for my studio and it makes any guitar shine…

To explain the cult around a thing one could consider as a simple tool: for electric guitar players the amplifier is just an extension of their instruments, almost part of these or rather one out of two instruments played simultaneously. A tube amplifier kind of develops a life of his own, reacting to the dynamics of the player in a very individual and vivid way.

So it’s no wonder the whole thing turns me (the player in this case) upside down. It will also take some time until things get settled in order to record new material with this new equipment for the blog. I have several amplifiers here to be tested in different settings with different speaker cabinets, some of them being loans. Everything needs to be built up from scratch now, until I will hopefully regain command over my equipment.

While I am feeling like a pioneer and an archaeologist at the same time, delightfully plunging into sound, I must have you waiting. There are some posts on stockpile, though. So as you can continue listening and looking here, you will now know what I’ll be doing in the meantime…

The Vox AC 15 Heritage is an anniversary reissue of the very first Vox amplifier which was introduced in 1957. With the lights low, you can see the tubes glowing behind the “diamond pattern cloth”. Much better than watching TV!

to a friend’s birthday

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A few days ago I looked more closely at a drawing hanging on the wall that was one of the last examples of my drawing or painting efforts. It was made on October 7th, 1976, when I was sixteen years old, and about to embark on the musical trip rather than on fine arts.

Although the picture shows some not too idyllic houses of my home town, I always liked the atmosphere provided by the blue skies around them. Pondering what I could do to honor my friend Elspeth’s birthday, I read the numbers on said drawing, and discovered it was just the date of her birthday!

Elspeth has inspired me by writings and pictures on her blog Now Is Wow in the short time since I have known her, and I simply enjoyed several collaborations we did together.

I’d like to thank you, Elspeth, and wish you a happy birthday!

obsessive modification

How I sanded and modified a guitar I had disliked for 18 years.

why this dusty kind of work rescued my soul

Did I ever like the color gray? I can’t remember I have… but owning this guitar for nearly two decades I have repressed the notion from the beginning.

Though – now that it’s past recovery… I guess it looks better than in real life here. Must be the camera…

Surprise! Underneath the gray appears a layer of blue. But it had been perfectly hidden. At this stage at least 8 layers of paint have already been removed.

First glimpses of wood

Nothing but wood left. And it looks nice, except for the dark primer.

No primer left

Painted anew. Few strats look like that.

Electronic upgrade kit installed – now waiting for new pickups…

resuming work

Finally, vacations are over. During the last six weeks, in opposition to my plans motivation went down, not up – mostly due to a systematic arrangement of obstacles I’m still unable to comprehend. It went on like this even after I had decided to go with the flow, or rather to give in to the non-flow…

I still am without my computer (it’s in repair for the third time now), and I cannot accept the substitute as a working tool. Psychologically. I really don’t feel like using computers these days (sulk…). Some will have noticed, and I’m really sorry for that. All I can say is: it’s not personal. And sorry again. Besides, I’m still waiting for a replacement of the ultimate guitar amplifier…

The weather has been depressing, too, so what else was left for me to do than to make up a new project – one that’s completely palpable and non-virtual? After I had returned the old Stratocaster guitar I remembered I had my own Strat! Only I didn’t like the color, the finish and the sound. I remembered I had tuned and changed some other guitars, too, and so I decided to sand it. And more. Sanding took three entire days – my lungs can tell. I painted the body anew. I ordered a new set of pickups; I changed some other electronic parts and so on. Now I have to wait for things I ordered, but it’s a different kind of waiting – it’s exciting! My ambition is to make it a completely different and completely personal instrument. And I’m sure that will work, after my thoughts have been circling around this project for weeks now.

What else? Susanne and I have been to Paris, and I shot some strange photos, some of them like the ones you are used to see here. These will be published soon, albeit without music.

And I concentrated on my son. I really love him, and I noticed he needs more attention and more interplay. We had a great time together during the past weeks. Except for the twosome Paris days.

Thomas, the great lender, left me another precious item as a compensation for the old Stratocaster he took home: an original Vox AC 30 amplifier, built in 1967, simply a legend. It’s also a great consolation these days going down to the basement (it’s too loud to be played in my regular music room) and playing electric guitar until my ears fall off… Again, I’d like to thank Thomas!

I still haven’t given up on my plans to record some new material, and as I’m in front of a computer now, this may be an encouraging sign. Today our students will return. Paradoxically, this could mean more time for creative work! See you these days…

holidays – no jolly days

At least that’s what I experienced at lot of times – and again this time. My wife wrote an entire post about it last year. I’m not too bad, actually, but I ended up being disappointed and slightly depressed. Maybe part of the problem are the raised expectations: everything I cannot accomplish in normal everyday life must be accomplished in the next holidays, respectively school break (that is now). And I’m not yet talking about relaxation and well-earned rebound…

There were some obvious reasons, too: my computer broke, and after it had been repaired, it broke again. Just when I planned to start some bigger work on songs that I had projected months ago. For this reason, and some others, I feel thwarted. Nearly anything I am currently starting to do has kind of a brake attached to it. Mostly I just begin for a few minutes and then I’m forced to stop.

Family life is a permanent tug-of-war with all three of us feeling missed out. Many things around the house and the garden have to be fixed, and each item seems to block the other.

But then I was looking forward to the ultimate compensation for all this: I ordered a new guitar amplifier, the one that I have been looking for for years. When it was delivered, I realized it was damaged during transportation, and now I’ve got all the trouble sending it back, getting another one etc.

So, that’s the news from me. Right in the middle of the time I thought I would be composing and recording like crazy. Sorry, folks, I’m sure there are better times to come, and I will keep up with trying to stay motivated. There’s more music and some blog posts prepared, standing by. And there will be three posts coming soon about a very special guitar I’ll have to part with…

blog party!

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Hi, everybody,

Welcome to my new home!
Here’s a new/old tune most of you will already know. A real hippie head-banger. Who can tell the name, the band, etc? I re-recorded it just for our mutual fun in four layers of first takes (you know, musicians are always proud of getting things done in first takes – in order to be first to the champagne or the buffet).

To further enhance the sixties’ feeling that is a constitutional matter of this blog, I’d like to share some exciting links I only found today. I was astonished to see that all the stuff I had discovered in my intense sixties-research is there in video! For most people watching facilitates the appreciation of the music.

So, please listen to some inhabitants of my Psychedelic Pantheon:

The Blues Magoos

The Blues Magoos again

The Electric Prunes

The Seeds

Donovan

If you want to know my favorite out of these, it’s The Electric Prunes. There is an amazing (but kitschy) new artwork video attached to the music, which back then has been recorded without any visuals. Hope you enjoy it!

News

It’s a bit unusual for this blog to have two posts published the same day. But this time around there are just too many things to tell.

First: Rufus is audible now. One more invitation goes out to you to join in and dance around the trunk with me.

Second: Elspeth has posted a new video yesterday. The second proof of a fruitful collaboration. It’s (about) magic. Oh, and it will take some time to load, maybe. At least it has been so with my computer.

Third: Another collaboration is on the way, including Susanne from creative.mother.thinking.

Forth: In this case, please don’t just look at the last post, as today there is also Volcanology!