dlhughes001's blog

D'Addario Chromes Flatwound Bass Strings

D'Addario Chromes Flatwound Bass Strings

I recently put a set of these strings on my Epiphone EB-0 bass, along with the DiMarzio DP-120 'Model One' pickup, in search of that real EB-0 tone heard on so many older records from the 60's & early 70's.

When I first got that bass, it had some old flatwounds on it that sounded like hammered crap, and I was dead-set against ever using flatwounds. But the guys on the Yahoo Group 'SX-Bass Club' talked me into trying a set. So I queried them on the relative tonal qualities of several flatwound string sets (that don't cost like $40!!!), and arrived at the conclusion that the D'Addario "Chromes" would suit me best.

Ibanez Artcore AFS-75TD

Ibanez Artcore AFS-75TD Review

Ibanez Artcore Guitar

I have to start this out with an admission of a long-standing bias against Ibanez guitars. This began ‘way back in the 70‘s when they were making exact copies of the more popular Gibson models, such as the Flying V, Les Paul, and Explorer. Back then, to me, those Gibsons were the ‘Holy Grail’, as far as I was concerned, and it really ticked me off that anyone would profit by copying exactly the designs of those most revered guitars. So upset by that was I that I never once, ever, thought about buying an Ibanez instrument. But they got their due when Gibson sued the snot out of them over that.

Well, time and age mellowed me, I guess, and I pretty much forgot about it when Ibanez stopped making copy guitars and started designing their own styles. The problem then was that I simply didn’t care for their designs. Boy, they just can’t win with me, can they?

Enter the Artcore Series. I still don’t much care for the ‘Artcore’ nomenclature...what’s that mean, anyway? This-core, that-core...what is that? I’m getting old, I guess....but I know a nice guitar when I see one.

A friend of mine likes the setups I do on my guitars, and he wanted me to go thru his entire collection and either set them up like that, or make recommendations on any variations I think best on any particular guitar. So he sent me home with his Ibanez AFS-75TD, in a beautiful silver metallic finish with creme appointments. It’s a thinline hollowbody with two humbuckers and a Bigsby-ish tremolo. I generally hate tremolos, as anyone who knows me is painfully aware of. But this one’s nice. Not a Floyd Rose hell-diving thing, it’s designed for, well, tremolo....not diving two octaves into the depths of Satan’s pit. And it performs its designed function beautifully. Sorry...got a little sidetracked on that, so impressed as I am by it.

If you need help with guitar repair and setup in Austin, Texas, check out South Austin Guitar Repair.

Ibanez Artcore Guitar Review

Bassists | Give Fretless a Shot

Bassists | Give Fretless a Shot!

If you’re a bassist, and you’ve never tried fretless, then that’s something you definitely need to put on your ‘bucket list’, or better yet, your ‘to do right now’ list.

If you have an old bass lying around catching dust; one that you rarely if ever play anymore, you can give it (and your playing) some new life by converting it to a fretless bass. We’ve written a manual on the process, and you can find it here: BassDefret.com

Or you can have someone do it for you… or you can even buy a factory-built fretless bass. The idea of converting your old bass, though, will save you a chunk of change, and renew that old instrument at the same time. And you’ll have the satisfaction of having done it all by yourself!

As for the benefits of fretless bass, there is an expressiveness and ‘feel’ to fretless that you just cannot get from a bass with those pesky little metal ‘speed bumps’ across the fingerboard. Not to mention that lovely mellow buzz, or ‘mwah’ as some refer to it, of the strings against the fingerboard as they vibrate. Once you start playing fretless bass, you’ll discover a whole new palette of tones and effects available to you. Lovely vibratos and glissandos are possible on fretless that are not possible on a fretted bass. When soloing, you will even find the ability to play microtonally a real boost to the expressiveness you can achieve. Them ol’ ‘blue notes’ are yours for the playing! Play large-interval slides without any ‘fret clicks’ as you slide your finger up or down the board!

Gear Review - Epiphone Les Paul Special I P-90

Mahogany body
Bolt-on mahogany neck
Rosewood fretboard
P-90R neck pickup
P-90T bridge pickup
1 Volume, 1 Tone control
3-way pickup toggle switch
Wraparound bridge/tailpiece

Action, Fit & Finish:

GEAR REVIEW - Xaviere XV-820 Single Cutaway Electric Guitar

This guitar came into my hands from a friend of mine, whose young guitar student bought it, and found it needed some attention (setup) to play at its best. 'Needed some attention' turned out to be somewhat of an understatement.
Lets' start with:

Fit & Finish:

Douglas Signus Nat EQ Acoustic/Electric Guitar

Douglas Signus Nat EQ
Full Size Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar
- Spruce top, mahogany back and sides
- Cut-away body for comfortable play
- Optional user-installable pickguard
- Built in Pre-amp (Fishman Isys+) with EQ.
- Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
- Truss Rod Adjustable Neck
- Overall length 41"
- Actual Weight is only 6.5 lbs

Action, Fit & Finish:

SX Lap1 NA Lap Steel Guitar Review

SX Lap1 NA Lap Steel Guitar Review

SX Lap Steel Features

  • A full size 36 fret lap steel guitar
  • Mahogany body with rosewood fretboard
  • Width at the Nut: 2 1/16", String Spacing: 3/8"
  • Diecast chrome tuners, pickup covers, V and T knobs
  • 22 3/4" Scale
  • Single coil pickup w/ 8K ohm resistance
  • String Sizes: 0.35mm, 0.42mm, 0.69mm, 0.90mm, 1.15mm, 1.40mm (not on the one I have!)
  • A protective carry bag included
  • Length: 33", Body Length: 13", Width at Lower Bout: 8 1/4", Width at Upper Bout: 5 7/8", Body Thickness: 1 1/2"
  • On the Subject of 'Pro' Gear

    Read thru the Craigslist ‘Musicians’ section for your city some time. How many times do you see the phrase ‘must have pro gear’? You see that in many, if not most, of the ‘Guitarist, Bassist, or Whatever Wanted’ ads….right?

    Pick Punch!

    I just got this super-cool little device for Christmas from my daughter! I had stumbled across it on the Web just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and knew I had to have one, so I put it on my 'Wish List' and my kiddo got me one.

    DiMarzio DP120 'Model One' bass pickup

    DiMarzio DP120 Model One bass pickup

    I've been looking for the perfect pickup for my Epiphone EB-0 bass, and I have finally found it!
    If you 've been reading my blog, you know that I was terribly disappointed in the Artec 'mudbucker' (anyone want that thing?), and I don't really like the way the Epiphone stock pickup sounds (not a real EB-0 type tone at all). So when I got the opportunity and the bucks together, I bought this DiMarzio DP120. It's a drop-in replacement for the stock pickup; fits like a glove.

    Acoustic Amplification B10 Bass Practice Amp


    Playing with ‘Feeling’ vs. Playing with Technical Proficiency

    Playing with ‘Feeling’ vs. Playing with Technical Proficiency

    I just read a couple of Craigslist posts here in Austin about a certain currently-popular guitarist, the argument being about whether or not he’s a Blues guitarist or a Fusion guitarist, and about whether or not his playing has any ‘feel’ to it or if it’s purely technical in nature.

    That got me to thinking about the relative merits of ‘feeling’ vs. technical proficiency in the context of playing a musical instrument. Now, bear in mind that I’m an old guy, and realize that the names I’m about to throw out here are not the currently best-known names in the biz…but if you’re any kind of student of your instrument (specifically, guitar and bass), you’ve heard these names, and probably heard a lot of their work as well.

    Let’s take Eric Clapton...

    MORE: Artec EBC4-CR Bass Pickup Mudbucker Clone

    Artec EBC4-CR Bass Pickup Mudbucker Clone

    That's it! I give up!

    I received the new Artec pickup from the Ebay seller and installed it in my bass. And Guess What? IT HUMS, TOO!!!

    I don't know if it's inherent in a 'humbucking' pickup that has that much gain/DC resistance (30 K), but this thing buzzes like a chainsaw, no matter what I try!

    It's been years since I've heard a 60's Gibson EB-0 bass, but I really don't remember them humming like this, and this pickup is supposed to be a dead-ringer, tone-wise, for those original Gibson pickups. Huge, Enormous, Fat, Tumescent bottom-end...but virtually ZERO highs.

    Artec EBC4-CR Bass Pickup Mudbucker Clone

    Artec EBC4-CR Bass Pickup Mudbucker Clone

    If you read my review of the Epiphone EB-0 bass that I recently acquired, you know that I got it with a bad pickup, and was looking to replace it, hopefully with something better than the stock Epi 'mudbucker'.

    So I began a quest for the replacement pickup, looking at the DiMarzio Model One, Darkstar, etc., all of which cost more than I really wanted to spend on a bass I only paid $100 for. Then I spotted the Artec EBC4-CR on Ebay, and available from Guitar Parts Resource as well. Although the price on GPR was a good deal more than the ones listed on Ebay, I decided to go with GPR because they were shipping from Ohio, rather than from Hong Kong. I just thought it the safer way to go.

    However, when I received the pickup and installed it, there was this absolutely horrible 60-Hz hum, approx. 1/4 as loud as the thru-put signal! Well, I thought they probably had a bad one in their inventory, so I returned it, stating the issue it had with the humming (this is supposedly a humbucking pickup, remember...). They sent me out another one...

    Gear Review - First Act model ME105 Bass Guitar

    Gear Review - First Act model ME105 Bass Guitar

    Don’t laugh just yet….this little bass is far, far better than the price would suggest! The one I have was advertised (used) on Austin Craigslist for $30, but I ended up swapping a couple of old effect pedals for it straight-up. It had stickers and the residue of stickers all over it, badly needed a truss-rod adjustment and overall setup, and generally looked and played like crap…until I cleaned off the stickers, boiled out the strings (which weren’t really old to begin with), and did a decent setup on it.

    General Description/Features:

    - Double-cutaway solid Basswood body
    - White pearloid pickguard
    - Maple neck/Rosewood fingerboard, 32” scale
    - ‘P-Bass’ style pickup
    - Cast, sealed ‘Gotoh-style’ tuners
    - Single tone/volume controls

    The finish appears to be a translucent blue with sparkles, over a black base.

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