“Ebola’s Back”, a Parody Lyrics Post

  • by Gitabushi

To the tune of “My Boyfriend’s Back” (Karaoke version, so you can sing along, here)

[Spoken]:
We thought we beat you but you hung around, waiting for a chance. And when nations wouldn’t follow epidemic protocols you did some things to people that weren’t very nice.
[Sung]:
Ebola’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
When you see them dyin’, better cut on the double.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
Obama made claims that were clearly untrue.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
Like you can’t get it from someone sittin’ next to you.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
And all the refugees are tryin’,
To reach the US while they’re dyin’
It’s been gone for an interval of time.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
Just long enough we all thought it would be fine.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
You’re gonna be sorry you were ever born.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
‘Cause you’ll vomit and ache from night till morn.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
All the countries that are cheatin’,
Spread the multi-orifice bleedin’.
What made you think it wouldn’t take Blue lives?
(Ah-oo, ah-oo.)
Gated communities are in for a surprise!
(Ah-oo.)
Wait and see!
Ebola’s back, open borders help transmission.
If I were you, I’d probably halt immigration.
(Hey, la-di-la, Ebola’s back.)
La-di-la, Ebola’s back!
La-di-la, Ebola’s back!

Guitar Lust: Kramer DMZ 2000

  • By Gitabushi

One of the things that annoys me the most about a guitar is if you take a guitar out to another location to play it, or move from indoors to outdoors, and the change in temperature and humidity causes the neck to bend differently.  Suddenly, the strings fret out. Or the action is suddenly higher.  You have to get out an allen wrench and make adjustments to the truss rod.

Or even worse, you purchase a guitar, and over the months or years, the neck slowly warps, twisting or bowing or even developing humps that make it nearly impossible to have low action without buzzing or fretting out.

Guitar manufacturers are aware of this, and they dealt with it in a number of ways.  First, of course, is the truss rod that allows you to adjust to the changes.  Other solutions have included dual carbon-fiber truss rods (that can deal with twist), baking/drying/aging the wood so that it will less susceptible to environmental conditions, using three-piece necks with the grain of the middle strip running opposite to the two outside strips to cause any wood movement from environmental factors to work in opposition, and using other materials that are less susceptible to environmental changes.

In an excellent example of that last approach, in 1976, the Kramer guitar company made aluminum-necked guitars.

The guitars featured an aluminum skeleton neck, with a distinctive forked neck, attached to a normal wood body.  The neck has wooden inserts usually, but not always, the same type of wood as the body, with the intent of providing a more conventional, less cold feel for the guitarists fretting hand.

In 1978, they came out with the DMZ line, including the one I have, the DMZ 2000.  The DMZ portion was a marketing emphasis on its Dimarzio pickups.  The 2000 being that it was better than the 1000, I think.  Or maybe just that there was a series, because the 3000 is just a Strat-style guitar, without extra features, and the 4000 and 5000 series are basses…no one in their right minds would say a bass is better than an electric guitar, right?

Like all Kramer aluminum-necked guitars, the DMZ 2000 featured an ebonite fretboard. That’s something I really appreciate, because I really like ebony as a fretboard for a number of reasons.  First, I like the appearance of black fretboards.  Second, I fancy that I can hear an impact on tone; guitars with ebony fingerboards seemed to have an extra chime to the attack.  Or, at least, I used think that.  I can’t seem to tell the difference anymore, so maybe it was all in my head in the first place. After all, there is no way to swap out fretboards on the same guitar to a/b the tone.  Third, ebony has always been the easiest and fastest to play on.  I really can feel that rosewood fretboards are more difficult to play on, because the softer, more open-grained wood of rosewood literally clings to skin and slows down the release.  I know the difference is microseconds, if not nanoseconds, but I have tested this out on many guitars, and I really can feel the difference.  Ebony-style man-made materials (like ebonite and other materials like acrylic) are simply faster.

diagram

The DMZ 2000 also has two coil split toggles, so you can get eight different usable tones from the two pickups, including some good single coil tones either singly or in combination.

All that aluminum does make the guitar pretty heavy.  It’s a drawback that doesn’t bother me much, but might bother someone with shoulder or back problems.

The guitar is very comfortable to play standing up or sitting down.  Personally, I love the tone and ergonomics of playing this guitar.

I got mine from a local vintage-focused guitar shop.  I was surprised to see it listed at just $850.  I had heard about these and thought they would be collector-priced well beyond my willingness to pay, maybe something above $2000.  A quick search showed that the price was pretty much in-line with what they sold for on Reverb, or maybe slightly lower.   I didn’t regret buying it.  It is one of my favorite guitars: collectible and a great player, but also durable enough that I wouldn’t be afraid to take it out to a gig.

There are other aluminum-necked guitars made by Kramer, of course.  The DMZ line was the second wave, running from 1978 to 1981.  From these pictures, you can see the first wave, as well as how the second wave changed during its production run:

robdutch1

You can find out more about Kramer’s aluminum-necked guitars here.

…man, I really want to choose “robots” as one of the categories for this post, but I’ll stick with accuracy and refrain.

 

11/17/16 Guitar Lust: Paul Reed Smith 25th Anniversary Swamp Ash Special

written by Gitabushi

Paul Reed Smith.

If you know anything about guitars, you’ve probably heard of Paul Reed Smith guitars.  He did something amazing: he turned a basement startup into THE major player in the guitar manufacturing business.

I could write pages of history and explanation if, you know, I knew any of it. But I’m too lazy to research, so if you want to more about how Paul Reed Smith became a household name, we can consider it the audience participation portion of the blog.

Let’s just say that Paul Reed Smith is the guitar for rich guys in their 40s who always wished they were rockstars. The guitar of aging dentists everywhere.

But also the guitar for actual musicians who want something special.

Paul Reed Smith guitars have a vintage sound, beautiful figured wood tops with crazy transparent finishes, thicker necks, and impeccable workmanship.  You almost can’t go wrong with a Paul Reed Smith.

That’s why they are expensive. But also why they are lust-worthy.

The one I want to focus on today is the 25th Anniversary Swamp Ash Special.  I have this thing for swamp ash.  If you believe that wood makes a difference in tone (and I mostly do, sorta), then swamp ash is supposed to give a little extra sparkle or rasp to single coil pickups.  I fancy I can tell the difference between swamp ash and alder, but the impact of wood on tone is something we can argue about some other time.  The point is even if there is no sonic difference, swamp ash is lighter than most woods.  Which is kind of cool.

But the other nice thing about swamp ash is it gives a very nice grain, when used with transparent finishes. Here are some pictures:

If you recognize the couch/pillows, it is because the blue one was one I owned.

Another thing I liked about it was the silhouette bird inlays, as opposed to the full inlays most Paul Reed Smiths have.

I’ve owned a few Paul Reed Smith guitars, but never kept them.  They do sound like good vintage Les Pauls, but that’s a problem: I don’t really like good vintage Les Paul tones. Overdriven, sure. But the over-saturated neck-position humbucker sound isn’t one I like coming out of my amp.  Paul Reed Smith guitars even seem to emphasize that (as compared to the Seymour Duncan ’59 when in the neck position).  Sometimes you can get humbuckers that are wound to sound like really fat, dark single coils.  My Yamaha PAC 921 is one like that.  But not Paul Reed Smith.  They sound muffled and oversaturated to me.  People that like that sound call it “warm”, but that doesn’t make sense, because a “hot” pickup should be bright and shrill, which means that “warm” is on the opposite side of the tonal spectrum from “hot”. smdh

Many Paul Reed Smith guitars have coil splits, which helps.

But then Paul Reed Smith developed the Narrowfield pickups.  Not really a breakthrough in concept, since mini-humbuckers and P-90s (humbucker length windings on a single-coil bobbin) have been around for decades, but still a welcome development as they sound twangy like a single coil, but lack the hum single coils bring when used singly.

Here’s a good video:

So why didn’t I keep the blue one?

I don’t know, actually. I loved it. It played well, sounded great, was comfortable, and was pretty.  And yet, I found myself always reaching for my Mercury Head, Warmoth, and Yamahas.  As I was saying to a friend the other day regarding a guitar I was thinking of buying, “It looks good and sounds great, and clear is a #1 guitar. My problem is I already have more than a dozen #1 guitars!”

I do kind of miss it, but not enough to seek one out again.  If I could keep only one guitar, I would have been satisfied with it.  But there was something that kept it from being my favorite guitar, and I’m not sure what it was.  Still: Lust-worthy.

Gitabushi

11/15/16 Guitar Lust: Hamer USA Diablo

The Hamer USA Diablo was one of its last Superstrats*; it came out near the end of the shredder era.

It may be one of the most perfect guitars ever. At least, it has so many things I like, but was relatively simple, and as such, relatively cheap.

They mostly came in red, yellow, and black. Most had black hardware, I think…that’s what I encountered the most, but it wasn’t difficult to find examples with chrome.

They also made some cherry sunburst:

diablo

And a very rare blue:

20161003_224740

So what’s good about them?

Slab alder body (no expensive contours). Trem that stays in tune. Top notch Dimarzio or Seymour Duncan pickups for great tone. Flat fretboard radius that makes bends easy. Thin neck that makes it easy to play fast.

Every one I’ve ever owned felt wild. Like I could play fast and loose and sloppy and it would still make me sound good. I felt more like Eddie Van Halen playing a Hamer USA Diablo than on any other guitar I’ve ever touched.

It’s biggest limitation was a lack of coil splitting options, or it might be the perfect guitar for me.

So if it was so good, why have I owned at least 7 (and am trying to sell my last 2)?  Why did I sell the yellow one shown above with nearly-perfect after-market stainless steel frets, and coil-split push/pull pots with amazing-sounding Dimarzio 26th Anniversary pickups?

Because despite the guitars being awesome players, there are simply guitars I like more for various reasons.  Some guitars are prettier, or have ebony fretboards.  Over time, I’ve gotten to the point I trust Wilkinson 2-point trems with locking tuners (or sometimes even without them), so there is no reason to deal with the extra hassle of a double-locking system that needs to be unlocked and completely retuned every few weeks; a system that doesn’t allow you to drop to Eb easily, or go to drop-D tuning, or even deal with a song that was recorded slightly out of tune.

I still have the blue one.  I can’t get what I want for it, so I’ll probably hold on to it, let it be a case queen, pull it out once a year or so and be thoroughly impressed with it, and then put it back in its case for another year.  At some point, I may fall in love with double-locking trem systems. Or as original-condition Diablos become less available over the coming years, maybe I’ll get a decent price for it.

However, if you love dual-humbucker rock machines, see if you can try out a Hamer USA Diablo. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

*Superstrat: A 25.5″-scale guitar with a shape generally like a Stratocaster, but usually lacking a pickguard. Often has two humbuckers or even a humbucker-single-humbucker configuration, but must have at least one humbucker (in the bridge position). Must have a 2-point trem, usually double-locking.  Often has 24 frets. Often has a thin neck and flat fretboard radius for fast playing.

 

-Gitabushi

11/7/2016 Guitar Lust: Eastwood Airline 3P DLX

So over the last 6 years, I’ve been churning through my guitar collection.

I’ll see a guitar I like at a price I think is reasonable, and I buy it (usually from eBay, Reverb, Music Go Round, or Guitar Center). I play it, learn what I love or hate about it, and choose one to sell.  Usually it is the least-favorite and least-played in my collection, but can also be the one I think I can make the most money off of.

Full disclosure: I have between 30 and 42 guitars at any one time.  I often sell in binges and buy in trickles.

I also have made an average of $30/guitar, even after you include selling and shipping fees.

And I’ve owned at least 200 guitars over the last 6 years.  So I have some experience.

As such, my Guitar Lust features are probably going to focus on guitars I have (since I’m keeping them so far, they must be pretty good, and therefore, lust-worthy).  I’ll sprinkle in some guitars I had and sold (which were still pretty good), and then other guitars I wish I could own and don’t.

However, an additional reason I buy and sell guitars is I haven’t actually decided what I want my “collection” to be.

It’s never going to be a collection you can donate to a museum. It’s probably not something my grandkids can sell to fund their kids college.  I don’t have the money to get any real collector pieces, and who knows what makes a real collector’s piece, anyway, since the guitar collection world hasn’t been around that long, and interest in playing guitar seems to be fading somewhat.

I’ve toyed with the idea of having the best collection of $200 guitars.  Or the best collection of Super Strats (we’ll talk about those later). Or a combination of Hamer USA, Jon Kammerer, and Yamaha guitars.  Or just really pretty guitars.  Or fairly rare guitars, whether they are collectible or not (because maybe someday they’ll catch on).

Of course, the bottom line of any collection is: it makes me happy.  But still, one thing that struck me was that if I had to explain to another guitarist why I thought a specific guitar was collectible, then it really isn’t.  Which led me to the idea of at least a significant part of my collection being guitars that even non-guitarists can recognize are cool.

So that’s why I bought this guitar on Saturday.

This is an Eastwood Airline.

It is supposed to emulate the old, strange guitars of the 60s, probably a surf guitar. The thing I like about it is it looks like a vintage, quirky, crappy guitar.  Everyone knows this isn’t the typical Strat or Les Paul.

It’s got a Bigsby, which is kinda cool. And it has all the knobs across the top. I was pleasantly surprised when I played it to find the knobs didn’t get in the way at all.  The tone was pleasant, not especially good-sounding, but definitely something you could gig with.

It has 3 humbuckers*, which means you won’t get any hum in any positions, but they actually seem to work like single coils, so they are probably somewhat underwound. The “tone switch” is a 5-way pickup selector switch, so you can get quacky strat “notch” tones in the 2 and 4 position. The neck pickup alone sounds like a dark/hot/overwound single coil.

And that’s what I like.  I like quacky strat tones, and I don’t like the oversaturation you get from humbuckers in the neck position. So one that sounds more vintage-y and single coil-y is going to make me happy, and this one does.

The action is decent. Not amazingly low, but probably not quite medium.  It stays in tune with trem use, which is always important. And it has a strip of rubber running all around the body which makes it sit on your leg better and not slide off.

I think it is supposed to look like the old Mosrite synthetic material guitars.  It does have that look, but the online specs say it is made of mahogany.

Anyway, I like it and I think it is worth lusting over. Here’s a YouTube video:

*the video says that it has 3 humbucker-sized single coils.  This is nonsense for a few reasons. 1) If they were humbucker-sized single coils, the pole pieces would be centered, rather than off to one side of the pickup case.  2) It is barely possible that they are just single-coil-sized single coil pickups tucked under a humbucker cover, but why? 3) There is no hum when in a single pickup position.  That means there is a 2nd coil in some way canceling out the hum. It could conceivably be a stacked construction…but only if the pole pieces were in the middle of he case.  No, I think the video gets it wrong…but they got it from the company’s website, which I have to believe is a typo.