Monday, August 28, 2006

Whirwind of Activity

Been holding off for a certain post I'm anxious to make, but like all watched pots, this one is taking longer to boil than I expected... but it's getting there.


Major progress in the perfomance department, as I've integrated the Murray with the Carlos CP-1 High End with the Godin Multiac into my set now. As it stands now, I play the Murray for the A minor and C major suites, and then I switch to the Godin for the E minor, and G major suites (The E minor and G major suites end with tap-technique pieces, which are easier to play on the Godin, with its lower action). Then I return to the Murray for the D major suite, in which all of the pieces use a dropped-D tuning. By lowering the E down to D when I switch guitars the previous time, with one further tweak, the tuning stays much more stable. I raise the D back to E when I move to the Multiac for the F-sharp minor suite, and stay with the Godin until the break at the end of the A major suite. I've tried this out at a couple of gigs, and my students and regualrs really love the Murray's sound, and the guitar exchanges are quite smooth.


The key to getting the CP-1 integrated tuned out to be using the EQ effect section in the Lexicon, and matching the levels between the two guitars using a combination of the internal input gain, and the EQ's gain as well. The problem I was having with the Murray turned out to be feedback on the C, B, and B-flat on the low A string. Fortunately, all of the original sounds for the Godin Multiac used no EQ because the RMC Polydrive doesn't need any, so I had that entire block free. The only problem I ran into is that some of the more complex programs were too large, and there wasn't any memory space for the EQ. In those instances, I simply deleated the pitch-shift doubler, which gave the needed space for the EQ.

Keeping in mind that I tune to Philosophical Pitch (A= 432), and that the open A string is therefore at 108 Hz, by using a single band EQ and reducing 127 Hz to -27 (Out of a silly range of 72 for that parameter: Why Lexicon used such a dizzying array of parameter ranges in the MPX-G2 and MPX-1 I just don't understand) with a Q set at 1.8, I was able to eliminate the hump in that range and ended up with a woodier sound to boot.


Once I figured this out for the Murray, of course, I started in on the Glissentar/CP-1A sound programs, and am going through those right now. It too wants a tad cut at 127Hz.


Cool timewaster site: That Image Site.

A couple of grabs:

I'm not sure who this is. Anybody know? I'd like to hear the guy play it.

This guy, however, I do know: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Too funny.


Now that's a glamorous babe.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Strings: Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out...

... you have to develop an entirely new worldview.

Installing the Carlos CP-1 High End transducer into my trusty old Murray has required... a whole new learning curve with respect to string choice. Over the years I had gone for bigger and bigger bass output, and the best strings in that department - for this particular guitar - ended up being D'Addario Pro Arte' EJ46C Composites. Using the composite G gave great balance, and the regular nylon B and E gave a smooth upper register with no carbon fiber harshness. Well, guess what? Those strings suck for the Carlos transducer: The A and D strings, especially, simply overwhelm the others. back to square one.

Square one, in this case, is the old standby red card Savarez set. Why? Middle of the road everything: Bass output, response, upper register; just an all-around good point of reference. Talk about hitting it in the sweet spot! I'm wondering, in fact, if Carlos developed his transducer with these strings. One minor major bugaboo: The G@& D@%*#> F#&%^#& G-string! Talk about wimpy-@$$ pound-testage! Methinks that G weighs in at less than 12 pounds in an A=440Hz tuning (And, I tune to A=432/"Philosophical Pitch"). I love happy accidents.

I just happened to have ten nine Savarez red card metal wound G strings laying around from an earlier experiment, and voila'! So, low E through G are now dialled in. High B and E, however, suck unholy @$$! The balsy output of the wound lower strings now makes the old fashioned nylon strings sound, well, old fashioned.

Savarez Alliance Carbon Fiber trebles to the rescue! I had a gazillion of these laying around for the Glissentar, so no problemo.

Oh yeah: I have to re-do all the EQ settings in my Lexicon's too.

And, I have a management contract offer, which I'm going to accept, so Hucbald may be coming to a town near you in 2007!

Just for you, Peg! ;^)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sid and Nancy

One of my favorite movies of all time. For reasons you may not expect.

In 1983 I was a roadie/driver/guitar tech for Johnny Thunders, who was formerly in The New York Dolls, who were on the Anarchy in the UK tour with... The Sex Pistols and The Clash back around 1976 (The Year I graduated from high school). This was immediately after Johnny Rotten's "Fuck the Queen" quotation hit the headlines of every rag in Europe. It was the dark flip-side of the Beatlemania phenomenon. Very intense.

Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders were birds of a feather and long-lost-brother soul mates (A relationship which was absolutely platonic, I can assure you). Johnny Rotten, by comparison, was - and remains - a pathetic poseur.

I used to get enraptured by Johnny's "Sad Vacation": A wrist-slitting nihilistic punk-rock ballad about his sense of loss when Sid died. Sadly, Johnny has joined Sid now, along with Jerry Nolan, the drummer for that tour and for The Dolls, and I'm almost the only one left who remembers any of it.

Except for the bass player, Billy Rath. Wish I could find him. He was cool. Last I heard, he had a Swedish wife half his age. Rock on, Billy.

This was long before I re-emerged as an All-American boy. Long before.

You can call me Huc, you can call me Bald, but don't call me late for dinner.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Please forgive the light blogging, but there has actually been almost too much going on in my life to be blogging for the past week or so. No "wucking furries" - as an Aussie pal of mine would say - because it's all been good. Very good. So good, in fact, that I don't want to jinx some of it by talking about it. Let me begin by saying that I have spent many man-hours getting the Glissentar/CP-1A and Murray/CP-1 guitars ready for giggage, and that project is now in the pocket.

What I had to do there was develop twelve "virtual acoustic environments" - one for each of the suites in my set - in my Lexicon MPX-G2... for each axe. That required modifying the twelve I had already developed for the Multiac/RMC Polydrive guitar - and which began their evolution back when they were for a Gibson Chet Atkins CEC guitar (There are, without exaggeration, literally hundreds of man hours in these programs) - and renaming/storing them down the user program address chain. I have gotten that done for the MPX-G2 I use in my recording settup, but I still have not entered them in the MPX-G2's I use for my small venue and large venue performance rigs (Remember, I need three MPX-G2's to make my life work).

This has to be done by hand: I have to stack the units and modify the programs one-at-a-time by comparing the new ones to the old ones in the other units because there is not data dump or sysex function in those units (Well, that I can figure out, anyway). That's for each and every parameter of each and every effect in each and every program! So, the reast of this week will be spent getting that done, because I have to re-EQ all of those programs for the various amp/speaker configurations. It's a freaking nightmare.

A nightmare that I must get through, however, as events seem to be conspiring to make me even busier (I'll have to leave it cryptic, as I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch).

I have some seriously cool guitars now.


I want to take a moment to thank Carlos Juan for putting up a nice splash page for me at his site. It is no exaggeration to say that his CP-1A and CP-1 pickups have changed my entire musical life for the better, and I'm proud to be associated with his awesome products.

I'm too good to be true, and I get better looking every day, don't you think?

(Don't answer that!)


The Great Irony: While the north, and then the north east, have been suffering with a record-setting heat wave, we out here in the desert chapparal have been having fabulous monsoon rains this year. Here's a pic from a couple of days ago, taken at about 6:30AM, from the back porch of El Rancho Ucobaldo.

"Red sky at morning, sailor take warning!"

It rained furously that afternoon.


One other thing I'll have to be elusive about is a potential new location for my "Rancho": This will be the fulfillment of a thirty year dream if it pans out, as I have been offered a "sweetheart deal" on some acreage a couple hours north of here. I'm going to scope it out next week. Most of the land sold out here is never listed with a broker: You have to be part of the community for a while, and put out feelers. If folks like you and wouldn't mind having you as a neighbor, then - and only then - will you get some offers. I love that.

Remember this?

Just a couple of miles away.


Perhaps I'll end up with some neighbors like this?