Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Effects Lineup for 2009: It's All About Change.

(Click on image).

Ok, so I'm armed with a variety of great overdrives and distortions and a new delay with tap tempo. Still debating using my digital reverb somewhere but I'll have to toy around with this for awhile.

Also new is the Planet Waves connector cables. Supposedly the gold plated plugs help with better fidelity. Or at least to justify the higher price. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

24 hours Later...

Don't worry, this is from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I don't have that, but this image I want to avoid as much as possible (or at least never have the feeling my fingers look like this).

After some time to process all of this news, I decided to not go down without a fight. I've done a bunch of soul searching but mostly a lot of alone time just to think. I've come to the decision that I'm going to do all I can to still enjoy playing music and not wear out my hand.

My friend Ricky called me up last night and sort of gave me a pep talk. He was concerned about hearing what the doctor told me as well. Ricky suggested that I don't give up. He basically suggested; Fortify, Modify, and Simplify.

1. Glucosamine Chondroitin (fortify the joint). Specialist says that it will take about 2 months before I feel the benefits of this supplement. Actually, I've heard my patients say that they were facing knee replacement surgery before taking this supplement and it delayed the decision for surgery by 5 years. My wife had severe back pain about 12 years ago. Nothing helped until she started taking G.C. as a "can't hurt" measure. Her back has not hurt ever since. I remember she was in pretty bad shape. I know ever person is different and might have other issues that G.C. will not help. But it's worth a try.

2. Lighter Strings (Modify). As much as it kills me to do so because it goes against what I believe gets the best guitar tone, I'll be switching to full extra light gauge strings. I've used .010-.046 strings since the early 90's. I thought it would make my hands stronger with the increased resistance. Recently, having switched to light gauge, they now feel like .010 gauge in resistance. So I don't know if my hands are getting weaker or not. But a lot of old timer guitar players use the extra light gauge; B.B, Billy Gibbons, and Yngwie Malmsteen for example.

3. Starting Over (Simplify). After the glucosamine has taken affect, I will be studying a different approach to my playing technique. More exercises, hand strengthening, hand posture, and possibly thicker guitar necks. I've been reading that with more wood in the neck that it fills your hand more and eliminating the tendency to claw grip the neck. I hate fat necks because I feel they slow my speed down. But like B.B King, he may not be able to play as fast as other guitarists, but he goes for the sweet notes.

I might need to stay away from soloing for awhile. That's where I run into trouble. I'm going back to basics, warm up exercises, grip master hand springs, relax my hand and pay attention when I start choking the neck. And I'll stop myself when I notice I'm starting to mash my strings into the fingerboard when I thoughtlessly start the aggressive finger vibrato.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's All Over! 30 Years of Guitar Playing Stops Today!

Well I just got back from my hand specialist tonight. I have been battling a painful left index finger for about a year now. The surgeon ordered x-rays of my left hand and then gave me the news.

Now, what I was expecting was something along the lines of "wear this splint for 5 weeks followed by a series of anti inflammatory medication. Nope, it was arthritis. Significant arthritis to the point that the doctor recommend that I stop playing guitar. Unfortunately playing guitar is the only activity that aggravates my finger pain.

The doctor then said that by continuing to play guitar that I would further degrade the joint causing increasing pain and decreasing range of motion. Then the arthritis pain would eventually start to interfere with other every day activities. The doc said, "be lucky that you have an isolated activity that you can eliminate vs something that affects your daily activities, simple activities, like buttoning your shirt or typing."

Cortisone shots will only mask the problem. I'll be pain free for a bit but then when the shot wears off, I'll be right back in the surgeon's office for another shot. I'm only allowed so many shots per year. Surgery would only be a cleaning of arthritic debris and would not really help my pain or range of motion.

Ok, I'll be honest. This news was devastating. I have worked so hard for years to get "my tone". Playing music is the connection between my being and life. I've used my talent to play for the Lord for almost 5 years. Now I have to stop?

So bands are out for good. Worship service out for good. I'm able to still build guitars but then I'm faced with the dilemma of testing out the guitars when I'm done. The guitars I own. The guitars I've recently acquired, all for nothing. I really don't want my hand to ache like this on any given day because I didn't know when to call it quits.

My plan: To take Glucosamine Chondroitin for two months (a recommendation from my surgeon), continue taking my anti inflammatory, and plan to play one last time this year. I'll reserve 3 last opportunities; one last performance with the band De-Tension, reserve a date to sit in with QBS if the opportunity arises (not a hint), and perform one last time with the worship band at church. And then I guess that will be it. I'll take the place of audience from here on out. In the meantime I'll be praying heavily and asking God what he wants me to do regarding this news.

Tendonitis is curable, arthritis is not. If I don't stop playing guitar now, it will start me on a road to constant arthritis medications for life due to the increased deformity from the arthritis.

Anyone need some guitar gear?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Holy Grail of X-rays.

Oh yeah, I did it! The ultimate lateral knee x-ray ever. I've yet to see this in Merrill's. Yeah, I was pretty proud. I can usually get this 7 times out of 10. It's an eyeball sort of thing as far as the patient's positioning but the key is a 7 degree cephallic angle from the x-ray tube. This is my average. Skinny people straight 0 degree beam, larger patients, anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees. There, my first X-ray Tech Geek blog ever!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New: Reassesing My Guitar Effects Pedalboard.

Ok, now that 2009 is here, there are a few changes in order. I'm parting with a few old friends only because they no longer serve their purpose. Time to switch things up a bit.

I'll still keep my Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Classic pedal, Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner, Boss CH-1 Super Chorus (for now) as well as my Barber LTD low gain pedal and Dunlop Wah/Volume pedals. So those are still my key tones for what I need when I return to playing guitar on a more regular basis.

T-Rex Replica Delay Pedal
I've been doing some research and I'm impressed with the products from T-Rex Engineering. They are a step up from Boss pedals and a little on the high dollar side. But I've been tolerating my Boss RV-3 Digital Delay/Reverb pedal to the point where it just doesn't make sense to keep anymore. I like the more modern ability to tap tempo the delay. This saves me from contstant on stage adjustments in which I have to hear the delay (echo) rate audibly in order to set. The T-Rex Replica is just what I've been looking for. I don't really use Reverb these days since the places I play already have inherant reverberation in the room. Adding more just adds clutter to my sound. This would be different if I played more outdoor gigs. Plus I have reverb effects in my amplifiers.

T-Rex Moller Overdrive/Clean Boost Pedal
I love the control that you get from this pedal. I've been sort of hunting for an in between "grey area" overdrive pedal. The Barber LTD is great for low gain tone but it's not enough "umph" or "to push over the cliff" factor. Plus it sort of lacks low end bass, kind of like the TS-808's. The SDTTC pedal takes care of what the LTD wants to do, but still there's a wide gap between the channel 1 and channel 2 overdrives. It would be nice just to have something soaring SRV/Hendrix stuff while still retaining my Strat sparkle. What's cool is the mix control. This way I can blend as much or as little affected signal to my desire.

I hear that John Mayer, David Gilmour, Pete Townsend, Mark Tremonti, and Steve Lukather use these pedals (brand not necessarily the actual pedals mentioned). Not that this has any affect on my using these pedals but as stompboxes go, that's saying something as opposed to using some rack effects.

I'm keeping my Boss Chorus pedal only because I can't justify spending over $200 for a chorus pedal, especially when I use this effect sparingly. I like the my chorus pedal only because I can mix my dry-chorus effect. So it's not an all or nothing pedal.