Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - January 2022

Monday, January 31, 2022

Chip is Short... Yeah, but.. No, the Chip Shortage

  A student told me original Boss DS-1 pedals are going for hundreds of dollars on Reverb.  

 So I had to look, it seems ridiculous.  The DS-1 is probably the most ubiquitous, generic distortion pedal there is, at one point I received one as a bonus for buying something else that was only a couple hundred dollars itself; I never used it, but now I've got to go rummage around in the shed to see if I still have it.

 The chip shortage is having a knock-on effect on other things in the guitar gear realm.  The chip in the original DS-1 has gone out of production, and it has nothing to do with the headline news story about the actual "chip shortage".  A lot of integrated chips have gone out of production before the situation occurred with the factory fire + global shut down "chip shortage", but wasn't the cause of any run on pedals except with the Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer variants.

  The subtlety of the 4558 variations that were used in Tube Screamers (and clones) are ultra-cork sniffery.  I've got .... 4 Tube Screamers/variations with one inside, and there would be no way I could tell if the chip was a "vintage" one or not, there are too many ancillary things going on with them in the circuit design.  People compare what they say is "identical" pedals, but they haven't examined the resistor values, the input impedance, what things have drifted out of spec within a "vintage" pedal.  It's not actually empirical, and yet, it's still so close that nobody will hear the difference except the cork sniffer doing the A/B test.  

  I guess I need to go see if I can find the pedal.  I think they're ok, good all-purpose distortion pedals that will get someone by in just about any stylistic situation if need be.  They tend to make everything sound similar, which could be a good or bad thing.  For me, the nature of the way they compress combined with the eq makes me play things I start hearing as "Steve Vai", so I don't use them.  That very thing makes them good for "fast technical playing" IMO for that reason, they help you out so to speak, in that they even out your single note playing really well while maintaining articulation.  But to my ears it's Steve's sound, so I look elsewhere.

 "Chip, in the 21st century a USED Boss DS-1 will sell for hundreds of dollars" - I don't know if I would have believed that 30 years ago!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Craigslist Music Gear Prices are Insane!


 A curious phenomenon has occurred slowly over the past few years.

 Prices on Craigslist are almost wholly unrealistic to the point of being comical.   

 "Back in the day" you expected 20-30% off list price for a new piece of music gear.  Likewise if you *really* wanted to sell it afterwards, it had to be close to 50% list price, or lower.  



 But now, there is this mindset I've heard echoed by a number of people:

 "I'm selling my Something or Other, for (GC price) since it's almost brand new/great condition/similar to when I bought it".

  It's ... peculiar.  Would you have wanted to buy your used gear for basically the same price you paid for it new?  Of course not.  But effectively all of the listings on Craigslist ARE nearly the same price as brand new from GC.  10% off what you paid for it isn't what it's actually worth.

 So there must be piles of used music gear accumulating on the planet!  It doesn't evaporate.  The $100 beginners guitar in the closet that, for some reason, didn't sell on Craigslist for $90 isn't turning into air.  

 I know that there are people that somehow are actually buying used gear for these prices. They're of what used to be the Casual Vintage Guitar Wheeler-Dealer persona.  But it's ridiculous seeing things on Craigslist (or for weeks, months, that are going to end up in a closet, because "it's in mint condition!".   

 Possibly in turn this could be a panacea for music stores.  People look at these prices, and think "well, I can just order that online and have it here brand new in a few days for basically that price".  The Music Retailer thinks "business is good", and doesn't want to budge from MAP, and then the Music Manufacturer thinks "look at our orders; we need to raise prices!". 

 Craigslist seller can wait a few years, and then his price becomes "acceptable"?  Auto-vintage?  Inflated prices doesn't mean everything is going to sell for what you paid for it.  


Friday, January 7, 2022

"Rhythmic tuning" is Just as bad as Auto Tune!

  A company has released a DAW plugin that is supposed to replicate Kurt Cobain strumming, so a keyboard player can "play" a sound with a similar rhythm.

 Which is ... sad as it is, but the curious thing is that in the demo the "strumming" sounds pseudo-realistic - for a 1/2 measure.  It goes wrong after that, which I could explain technically why, but that's not the point.  The demo is lauded by people as being great, but apparently they're all completely not noticing the timing is wrong.  
 The amusing thing here is, after having shown the song it's meant to replicate to "a lot of students", I've noticed similar problems.  There are about 3 different problems with how people play the rhythm I've seen.  

  The impetus of this blog post though, is that I'm dismayed that so many are really not perceiving the timing nuance.  It's really the essence of what makes it "rock", and .... yeah.  While I've noticed this with students trying to *play* things with rhythmic nuance, I've not had a codified example of people not hearing it in the first place.  

 It makes me wonder both how people are perceiving a lot of music, as well as why they enjoy it.  If they didn't then that would make sense, but this is odd.   It's like people claiming to like sushi, but not noticing a difference between Kroger sushi and good sushi.  It's both "sushi", but.... if you can't tell the difference,... how .. why....?  Uhg.

 Is the popularity of music declining?  Rock music?  Micro-rhythmic nuance is an "invisible" aspect of music that is easy to dismiss because it seems to be such a small fraction of the Big Picture, when in reality it's just as important as anything else.  The "foot tap invocation" power is completely missing today, except in the premise that a perfectly on beat kick drum playing quarter notes *does* invoke that phenomenon - but *isn't the only way to do that*.

 A great drummer has a subtle wizardry to them that can do that, but with more *nuance* than just "dit, dit, dit, dit". I'm afraid hearing that subtlety has left the building of the generation growing up on music of the last 20 years, that is devoid of it thanks to perfect computer corrected timing.  Except without hearing anything else other than metronomic perfection, there is no experience that has taught that appreciation of nuance.  

 Another reason to take guitar lessons I suppose, but it does not bode well for the future of music.