Okay, I'm trying to keep the "music-geek" related posts here down to a minimum, but there are some days where that's how I end up using all my time, so... :
Spent most of the past couple of days playing with my new Chapman Stick
, which explains why I'm so tardy with getting this journal working.
This instrument is a used 12-string Grand I picked up, and I have no fucking clue what the previous owner did to it. My suspicion is that he was making his own adjustments to the bridge and truss rod, and obviously didn't entirely know what he was doing. Think about it: you've got 12 strings attached to what amounts to a big flexible plank. Every time you retension or adjust one string, it's going to screw with the adjustment of the other eleven strings ever so slightly. And if you happen to be the ambitious sort who just jumps in ands start tweaking all twelve strings? Yeah, there's an entertaining afternoon for a junior Mr. Wizard...
So the action on this thing is like half-an-inch off the fretboard, and I've had to tune it down by two whole steps just to get enough slack in the strings to fret them without causing me to bleed. While the strings in the upper register no longer cut my fingers, this now makes the bass strings so loose that they rattle when you play them. Argh! I'm going to have to send it back to the manufacturer for a full setup sometime soon (not that big a deal, since I'm having a MIDI pickup installed, so I'll get them to set everything right again). Before I lose my new acquisition to them for a few weeks, though, I'm going to get a little bit of enjoyment out of it first, dammit.
All that said, however, this thing sounds amazing. Which is why I've spent the last two days lost in it.
Yesterday, I tried getting it working plugged into a little headphone practice amp. It ate up most of the day just trying to work out a decent tone (not to mention fighting with the fretboard). Sometimes the effect models on the headphone amp are nice, depending on the instrument. Sometimes they're really crappy, though. Most of them fell into the latter category, and I finally went to bed somewhat less than satisfied.
Today, I was sitting at the 'puter first thing this morning checking email, and my Yamaha UD-Stomp just happened to catch my eye. The UD-Stomp is a high-quality delay (echo) unit that I got cheap on Ebay based mostly on recommendations from some pals of mine. I got a really good deal on it mostly 'cause hardly anybody knows what the darn thing is or does. Since getting it, I've never really had a chance to put it through its paces. But it has a headphone jack, and I just happened to get curious...
I plugged the Stick into the UD, then dialed in a little chorus and only a tad of delay. Nothing that sounded really effect-laden; just a little sweetening, so I'm hearing the natural sound of the Stick with a little room ambience.
Despite the whacked out action, the low end is nice and tight, like the bass in some of the better funk/metal outfits -- think, perhaps, of Living Color or Linkin' Park. I start playing some runs on the upper strings and find the high end has a really *sweet* strat-like tone. I start adding some vibrato and some slinky bends. Suddenly, I'm catching hints of Stevie Ray Vaughn. The same sort of tone you'd hear him use in his cover of Hendrix's "Little Wing", for instance.
Now, I'm now a huge fan of any those particular artists. In fact, I'm far more likely to be listening to an Orbital or Skinny Puppy album than any of the above. However, I do know quality when I hear it, and this thing has the best tone of any non-electronic instrument I own. And you can't twist something into an interesting end-product if you don't start with a good tone to begin with.
About Eleven PM I finally take it off and put it away. I've probably been playing off-&-on for a good eight to ten hours, and it doesn't feel like a quarter of that.
I can hardly wait to try running it through the computer and really start mangling it...