Rock Bytes Rocks!

Check out Rock Bytes. I really like this Facebook page. I find out about music here I have not ever heard before or versions of old songs done in new ways. Very cool…

https://www.facebook.com/rockbytesandmore

Keep Pickin’!

 

Cheap Trick – Rocks My World (and maybe yours too)

Since I’m on the kick of posting about rock bands that I like. Cheap Trick is the next one on my short list. My favorite Cheap Trick albums are Heaven Tonight, Dream Police, and of course Live At Budokan. In Color is a good album too, but the studio version of I Want You To Want Me is so wimpy (the live version is much better). One song that slipped past my radar was Downed (it is on the In Color album from 1977). Downed was on the audition song list for a band I recently auditioned for, and the song is a killer song. Probably one of Cheap Trick’s best. Give the songs below a listen and enjoy!

 

Head East Rocks!

Head East is one of those bands that I always thought would be huge, but just never seemed to get there. I still really like them though. Top notch vocals. If you haven’t heard of them listen to these tunes. Head East Rocks!

 

 

Rush – Closer To The Heart

Closer To The Heart is one of my favorite Rush songs of all time. Here is Rush in their prime laying it down. Great band, great musicians… What is your favorite Rush song?

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Gravity Guitar Picks Stealth

Gravity Guitar Picks Stealth Review

Gravity Guitar Picks hails from Manteca, California. They manufacture and sell acrylic guitar picks to guitarists everywhere through their web site, and select dealers around the globe. I classify Gravity’s guitar picks as specimens of the boutique ilk.

I purchased the Gravity Stealth in the Mini and the Big Mini sizes both with an oval grip hole in the 2.0 mm thickness from Gravity Guitar Picks’ web site. Shipping has been fairly quick for the U.S Mail, in the 4 – 7 day range from California to my Midwest location (I have purchased picks a few different times from Gravity Guitar Picks). I did not expect super fast delivery for the reasonable and affordable $2.99 shipping charge I selected. There is also a 2-day Priority shipping option for $10.00 if you need your picks delivered sooner.

Pick Specs:

  • Gauges: 1.5 (Fluorescent Green), 2.0 (Blue), .3.0 (Orange), 4.0 (Yellow), 6.0 mm (Red)
  • Material: Acrylic
  • Shape: Rounded Triangle with Oval Grip Hole
  • Sizes: Mini (Jazz), Big Mini, Standard and XL
  • Tips: Pointed
  • Bevel: Polished or Master Finish (unpolished)
  • Price: Starting price is $4.99/pick for the 1.5 mm thickness, and goes up from there depending on the options you choose. The picks reviewed currently cost $6.99 each.

Description

The Gravity Stealth 2.0 mm guitar pick is manufactured from transparent acrylic (Polymethyl Methacrylate to be exact) that is tinted blue in color, and has three identical pointed tips to pick with. It is like getting three picks for the price of one. Bonus! The oval grip hole makes it easier to hold onto the pick especially in the Mini size. Regarding the Big Mini size, the oval grip hole is okay, but a series of holes drilled into the pick in a circular fashion would work better in my opinion for a more comfortable grip on the pick. Both picks reviewed have polished bevels, but the bevels are not the same on the two sizes. The Stealth Mini’s bevels span further across the the three tips with more of an angle than the bevels do for the Big Mini size that I received. I was a bit disappointed since I like the bevel on the Stealth Mini better than on the Stealth Big Mini for fast playing and tremolo picking. To be fair I ordered the Stealth Mini at an earlier date, and ordered the Stealth Big Mini when Gravity had the Stealth picks on sale at a later date, so they were not both manufactured at the same time or shipped in the same order. Perhaps Gravity decided to change how they beveled the Stealth over the month or two time frame.

Action

With a thickness of 2.0 mm each these picks are very stiff and do not bend at all in actual use.The relatively pointed tips on the two Stealth models allow for good clean alternate picking (The Stealth Mini has slightly more rounded tips than the Stealth Big Mini) . The bevel on the Mini allows for slightly better string release when picking single note lines and when tremolo picking. The Big Mini tends to work better for chord work than the Mini. Both picks glide over the strings fairly easily.

Sound

The Stealth Mini has a smaller sound and the tone is bit blurred due to your index finger hitting the string as you strum and pick notes, which is typical of a Jazz sized pick. The Stealth Big Mini has a larger, clearer, more focused sound than the Stealth Mini due to the added size and mass of the pick, and the more pointed tips. Plus there is a enough pick real estate in the Big Mini size for the index finger to not hit the string(s) when you strum and pick if you don’t want it to. This gives you a clearer sound with less blur/warmth. There are pluses and minuses for either pick depending on your preferences.

Summary

It is interesting how two picks made from the same material, and relative shape can sound different in actual practice, but they do. The Stealth Mini wins for single note picking speed and warmth. The Stealth Big Mini is the better choice if you are looking for clear note separation, clean articulation, and crisp chordal work. I have found the Stealth to show very little wear from playing, which means you can expect these picks to last you a long time if you don’t lose them first. A very cool bonus feature this model and some of the others that Gravity makes is you can play faster by just using the pick without any additional practice time. Pretty nice benefit if you ask me.

Keep pickin’!

 

 

 

Who Is Your Favorite Guitarist?

Randy Rhoads has been one my faves ever since I first heard the Blizzard of Oz record when it came out in the early 80’s. That album was a game changer for me. I was also lucky enough to see him play live in 1981, which upped the ante on how good he really was. Mind blowing guitar work for the time. Here’s a video I found on YouTube for your enjoyment.

1990 ’76 Reissue Gibson Explorer

I bought this guitar right before Christmas in 1990. Guitar Center had Gibson Explorers and Flying V’s for $350.00. They were also selling Les Paul Studios for $400.00. It was a huge sale! I was surprised the prices were so low for brand new Gibson guitars. The sales manager said they had to blow them out before the New Year. With that in mind I was happy to see if I could find a guitar in their inventory that I liked.

I played a Flying V and it didn’t tickle my fancy. I tried a Les Paul Studio, and thought let’s try an Explorer. I tried three or four Explorers until I hit on one that I really liked. I decided to buy the Explorer with the hardshell case for an extra $100.00. I had the guitar set up by a guitar tech that worked at Guitar Center as an independent contractor, and I was ready to rock!

Features:

  • One-piece solid Mahogany body
  • Mahogany Neck
  • 22-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Dot inlaid Position Markers
  • 496R neck and 500T bridge pickups
  • Gibson Tune-O-Matic bridge and stopbar
  • Chrome Mini-Grover tuners

The Gibson Explorer just screams Rock ‘n Roll! That is the bottom line on this guitar, and I love it!

The stock pickups are high-output ceramic pickups. Perfect for Heavy Metal, but wait I love to play hard rock, classic rock, and some heavy metal but not exactly what people today consider to be “metal” music. The Gibson 496R pickup in the neck position is a great pickup and sounds really good in this guitar. I tried other pickups in the neck position, and I kept going back to the 496R. The 496R is that good, and definitely a keeper.

The 500T in the bridge position was not working nearly so well for me. The reason is that I like a pickup that cleans up when I roll back the volume on the guitar. The 500T didn’t really do this, because it is super hot at around 15k d.c. resistance. This pickup kept everything way too distorted for my tastes. I searched a long time and tried several different bridge pickups including a Dimarzio Super II, the bridge pickup from my ’76 SG (which sounded pretty good in this guitar), and a couple others. It wasn’t until I acquired my Les Paul Studio with the 498T in the bridge that I knew I probably found the right pickup for the bridge slot in my Explorer. The 498T is a fairly hot Alnico 5 pickup with a d.c. resistance around 13k, but it does clean up when you roll back the guitar volume. With the guitar volume on 10, the 498T will melt your face when playing into an overdriven amp or into a cranked up distortion pedal feeding a clean amp.

The Gibson 498T sells for around $130 new. I decided that was too much money. I knew there was a used guitar shop not too far away, so I went there to find a used 498T. The manager of the store pulls out a couple boxes full of Gibson used pickups. Now to find a 498T… one of the store’s clerks pulls out a multimeter and we start measuring the d.c resistance of each pickup. It took a while but we finally found one that had a d.c. resistance a tad over 12k and was most likely a 498T. I paid the store clerk $50 for the pickup, and I was on my way.

I dropped my “new” used Gibson pickup in the bridge position of my Explorer after removing the chrome cover from the pickup to show the black bobbins like the uncovered 496R that was already in the guitar. I could not be happier. This pickup sounds perfect in the Explorer. Nice and powerful with the guitar volume on 10 and when you roll the volume back it cleans up nicely.

The Gibson Explorer has two volumes and one tone control with a three way pickup selector switch. This allows you to be able to do the pickup selector switch stutter/kill switch trick when you have one of the pickup volume controls turned all the way down.

The scale length is the typical Gibson 24.75 scale length. The neck is a fast 60’s slim taper style neck with a rosewood fretboard. The fretboard has 22 nice medium sized frets. Not too big, not too small.

The paint job was done in Classic White, which has yellowed over the years. Quite typical for white Gibson guitars from my experience.

This particular Gibson Explorer is a blast to play and sounds quite nice. It sits very nice in the mix when recording rhythm parts. Leads sound great with this guitar too. There isn’t much not to like about this guitar except maybe the weight. It is a tad on the heavy side.

Here is a guitar solo I recorded on my iPad using the Explorer into Positive Grid’s JamUp Pro. Post production was done in Logic Studio 8 on my Mac. All of the parts were played with the Explorer if I recall correctly. I know the lead part was for sure the Explorer.

Keep pickin’!

 

Baby Come Back By Player

This song came up in our chat conversation at work today. I found this really well done video that J.R. Ramos put together on YouTube. I just had to share it. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

This song has some really great Pop Rock hooks and running the lead guitar through a Leslie cabinet is cool too. I bought the vinyl 45 back in the 70’s when this song came out. I still have it somewhere…

Keep pickin’!

DIY Handmade Embedded Artwork Guitar Picks!

I made these guitar picks myself. They are one of a kind, handmade guitar picks. The artwork is inside the pick, which means the artwork won’t scratch or wear off. I found the information on how to make these picks from the Pick Punch web site. The How To Make Guitar Picks page specifically.

I purchased a couple of sheets of clear polycarbonate sheeting from pickpunch.com. One sheet is .50 mm in thickness and the other is .80 mm thick. I didn’t use a pick punch to make these, though. I traced the pick shape on the polycarbonate sheets with a fine tip Sharpie marker and cut them out with a scissors (I tried an Exacto knife, but the scissors worked much better).

After the rough picks are cut out the artwork is applied next.

Sharpie_Clear

Sharpie_B&P

The artwork in the two finished picks above were created with Sharpie markers.

The artwork in the two picks below were painted with enamel model airplane paint purchased from a local hobby store.

O&B_Paint

Multi_Paint

The artwork is literally inside the pick. The artwork  will not rub off on your hands as you play. To accomplish this you use two, three or more (depending on how thick you want your finished pick to be) pieces of polycarbonate cut out into the rough pick shape you want. Then apply your artwork any way you would like with Sharpie markers, paint, water slide decals, rubber stamps etc. to only one of the sides if you are using only two pieces of polycarbonate. If you are using three pieces of polycarbonate put the artwork on the piece you plan to put in the middle, and in this case you can put artwork on both sides if you want. After your artwork has dried you are ready to glue your pick together. Lay the pieces of polycarbonate you plan to glue up on white copier paper or plain old wax paper (I like wax paper better). Then apply super glue to the inside face of one of the pieces if you are using two pieces of polycarbonate, or two interior faces if you are gluing up three pieces of polycarbonate, make sure you are gluing the side or piece with the artwork to the inside to encapsulate the artwork inside the polycarbonate pieces. Make sure you use plenty of super glue. Try to line up the pick pieces as best you can, then squeeze out as many of the air bubbles as possible. Clamp the glued up polycarbonate pieces with a small spring clamp available at any hardware store, and let the whole works dry overnight (if you can’t wait, at least let it dry a few hours before moving onto the next steps).

After the glued up picks have dried the real work begins… Lots and lots of sanding.

I used a disk sanding wheel with 120 grit sandpaper attached to my hand drill to get the pick shape squared up on the edges. This can be done quite quickly with the disk sander. I sanded off the excess superglue, that gets all over everything during the gluing process, from the two faces of the pick by hand with one piece of sandpaper laid flat on my workbench and a piece of sandpaper wrapped around the handle of a putty knife. That way I could sand off the super glue without taking off too much of the polycarbonate. This way the pick faces would be sanded nice and flat. I used 150, 330, and 400 grit sandpaper to do this.

Then I roughed out the bevels on the pick edges using the disk sanding wheel. Then I did all of the detail sanding work using 330 and 400 grit sandpaper by hand on my workbench. I felt that I had better control that way, and didn’t have to worry about taking off more material than I wanted to. I recently purchased 600 grit sandpaper to hone the bevels on the edges a little better before buffing.

After the pick has had all of its final shaping completed the next step is to buff the guitar pick with a buffing wheel that attaches to my hand drill like the disk sander. The buffing goes pretty quickly. Total time to make one guitar pick like this is about one hour.

The picks made out of two pieces of .80 mm polycarbonate sheeting are right around 1.6 mm thick when finished and the three piece picks are about 2.0 mm thick when finished. Both pick gauges are very stiff, and sound quite good.

The cool thing about this is you can make guitar picks that no one else has and the picks are finished just the way you like them. With a nice bevel on the pick, you end up with a guitar pick that plays really well. They will let you play as fast as you can go.

The following video to helped me figure out how to come up with the procedure I used to make my handmade guitar picks.

Keep pickin’!

Mosaic Celluloid

Vintage Japanese Mosaic Celluloid Picks!

I was surfing eBay last week to see what was out there in the vintage celluloid pick market, and saw these mosaic celluloid picks. I love the look and I had to have them.

Celluloid is getting harder and harder to find for pick manufacturing, so I figured I better scoop up what I like before they are all gone… These appear to be the D’Andrea No. 346 shape or the Herco No. 35.

Mosaic celluloid was used for Herco picks by their Japanese manufacturer when their “shell” colored celluloid wasn’t available. Herco later asked their manufacturer not to substitute the assorted color/mosaic celluloid except for their thumb pick. I guess the assorted colors didn’t sell well at the time, with the Herco thumb pick being the exception.

They sound similar to a Fender celluloid pick, but look way cooler. Very Rock and Roll!

Source: Picks! by Will Hoover