Megi's Jazz Odyssey - the return

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  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    I'd have to agree - 9s and a 24.75" scale won't be great for tone and will be amazingly loose and floppy. PRS have factory 9s in their SE range with a 25" scale and that's awful enough despite being a bit longer scale than Gibson - put 10s on those and it's like someones switched on a light. Don't know why PRS do that - they have 10s on their non-SE models with the same scale length - certainly put me off buying one when I first tried one.
    Well, you're talking to a man who puts 11s on his strat Mark! For me, 10s is kind of the first sensible gauge, though I still find them too light. I had been using 11s on the Shine also, but had a set of 12 to 54 GHS Brite Flats (half-round type of string) kicking around and thought why not give em a go - and guess what I like them better. I have 13 to 56 on my archtop guitar, and that has a 25.5 inch scale as well. My preference is for what most people would think of as pretty heavy strings, but with a good setup on the guitar, and a low action. Not for everyone though I realise.
  • Just TelJust Tel Posts: 500Member
    I put 11's with a wound 3rd on my Shine and I absolutely love em.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Tough guys you and me eh Terry? grin

    Have just sent an enquiry to Catswhisker pickups re the p'up for the new Shine, since the prices are a bit keener than Gemini's lol. Hopefully managed to describe the kind of thing I want, and will see what the chap thinks. I'm thinking the guitar might look good with a cream cover P90, and that would also look good with a zebra-coil cream/black Tonerider humbucker I have, which I can put in the bridge position. Will see what develops though. I am keen to get on with modding this guitar to my needs though, it's just sat around at the mo, and I want to play it, and take it to gigs and stuff.
  • Just TelJust Tel Posts: 500Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Tough guys you and me eh Terry? grin


    Well Ard
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Damn - I'd like to be a tough guy too, but arthritis in the joints of my hands dictates otherwise. Above 10s on Gibson/PRS scale or above 9s on Fender scale and things start to twinge badly, especially with all the bends in bluesy stuff. frown

    I had to give up classical guitar lessons because of the damage the stretches were doing to my fingers. And my Dad had to reluctantly give up piano due to arthritis. I decided having seen that to make a choice to be a wimp but hopefully have a longer time while I'm able to play.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    I was just laughing at Terry's "Well Ard" - if only that were true in my case! And it sounds like you're tougher than I am Mark, regardless of string gauge used...
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Still considering the pickup question for the new Shine - and in the end, I think I'm having a change of mind about spending so much money. The idea was originally to get another Shine and mod it into a guitar I'd really like, with the P90 for the neck slot, but without spending a fortune. And £60 or more is just too much money, I'm getting a bit carried away. So... re-thinking things, I reckon it's going to be an Axesrus hum-sized P90 at a much more affordable £32 including delivery. I have been very pleased with the Bourbon City humbuckers I got from them, which now sit in my other Shine - in fact they don't seem lacking to me in any respect. Also the first user review of their P90 pickup sounds like he knows what he's talking about, and he says a few things that make me think I'll do OK with this pickup. Axesrus-Late-50s-Humbucker-Sized-P90s

    Circuit-wise, what I'll probably go for will be just a simple circuit with master volume and tone, plus 3 way switch, and no additional coil taps or anything. Will probably replace the stock pots with CTS ones though.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Sounds like your thinking things through with your usual logic. Funny how when we start looking at upgrades we have a budget in mind and after a few days are usually looking at things that cost 2 or 3 tiumes the amount. Good idea to have a reality check at that point.

    Shame they don't have an Early-50s version though! Sorry - that's my Alnico 2 mania kicking in again.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Sounds like your thinking things through with your usual logic. Funny how when we start looking at upgrades we have a budget in mind and after a few days are usually looking at things that cost 2 or 3 tiumes the amount. Good idea to have a reality check at that point.

    Shame they don't have an Early-50s version though! Sorry - that's my Alnico 2 mania kicking in again.


    Still thinking lol - if that's what you want to call it... Looking at Axesrus's website this morning, and noticed that they do do (dey do do don't dey?) an Early 50s style P90 in the soapbar format, with alnico 3 magnets no less... How annoying you can't get a hum-sized version of that. But also worth noting that this would be a genuine P90 - the humbucker sized versions all have the drawback that the coil size has to be reduced a bit, especially at the ends, in order to fit in a humbucker cover. So... what if it was possible for me to fit the Shine with a "genuine" P90? Well, reading up on it - some routing, or otherwise means of removing wood is required, although probably not all that much. And I have just got a mini-rotary tool, and you can buy small routing bits that will fit on evilbay for a few quid e.g. routing bits set . I also have quite a bit of 5-ply pickguard material left from another project, and I'm fairly confident I could make up a suitable pickup surround which would look neat enough and make a smart job of things. Axesrus's alnico 3 soapbar P90s are only £22 as well... So you can see the way my mind is running. I'm not in a mad rush to finish this project ASAP, so I'm thinking it's worth the few quid to buy the routing bits, and I can do a bit of experimenting on some scrap wood first to test things - if a no go, I haven't really lost much. Also although this will involve removing wood from the sides of the humbucker routs on the guitar, P90 dimensions are such that I wouldn't have to remove so much wood that it was a one-way trip - i.e. it would always be possible to go back, fit the original pickup surround and something humbucker sized instead - the extra routing would not be visible. Hmmm... smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Just bought a set of 6 router bits, £3.99 including first class postage... This is just an experiment at this stage, I won't go ahead and work on the guitar unless confident I can pull the whole thing off. So still holding off buying the pickup itself for now until I know which way this is going.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Shame they don't have an Early-50s version though! Sorry - that's my Alnico 2 mania kicking in again.


    Still thinking lol - if that's what you want to call it... Looking at Axesrus's website this morning, and noticed that they do do (dey do do don't dey?) an Early 50s style P90 in the soapbar format, with alnico 3 magnets no less...


    Ooops! What have I caused with that little remark. grin

    As it's reversible with the additional routing not being visible that makes for less risk certainly. Always nice to have an escape route in place - your logic seems to be fine.

    I wait with interest to see what happens here.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Mark, one thing you might be able to advise on - I know soapbar P90s are fixed with a couple of screws that go through the pickup casing and into the guitar body. What type of screws are these? self tapping type or something else? And are there springs around them so you can adjust the pickup height, or is there some other system? Basically how does it all work? Sorry... blush anything you can say would be appreciated though, cheers! grin
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Given your talk about routing i think this link might nbe useful. It is videos of installing P90s into an epiphone. The Epi had humbuckers so routing is performed.

    I also reckoned Jason Lollar (!) knows much more about the subject than me.

    You'll need an hour to spare mind you!

    P90 Pickup Installation by Jason Lollar
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Given your talk about routing i think this link might nbe useful. It is videos of installing P90s into an epiphone. The Epi had humbuckers so routing is performed.

    I also reckoned Jason Lollar (!) knows much more about the subject than me.

    You'll need an hour to spare mind you!

    P90 Pickup Installation by Jason Lollar
    Appreciate the link Mark - I did have a look at that earlier today though, and the undoubtedly highly knowledgeable Mr Lollar manages to avoid doing anything that helps me very much with my own project - he does the routing with much more expensive, and very different kit to what I would be using, and also has a non-standard type of soapbar P90 which uses side-lugs to mount to the pickguard on the SG. All good stuff of course, but doesn't help me sadly! Don't worry though, I think I will be able to figure things out anyhow. smile
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Sorry! Thought I was being clever there and killing two birds with one stone.

    As I recall the "soapbar" P90 arrangement i had was like this attached Stewmac pages diagram.

    Stewmac P90 kit

    Just basic screws going down through the pickup to the floor of the pickup cavity creating a thread for themselves. And often with springs giving upward pressure to the pickup body. though there may be foam cushions too to give the pickup some more solid but squashable bedding to lie on. Got to make sure the P90 can sleep comfortably on a foam bed! grin

    All a bit Heath Robinson and there will probably be variations depending on make of pickup.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    No worries Mark - actually your post above tells me what I need to know, so cheers. I'm quite happy with using springs and or foam packing - should be able to get things how I want that way. I guess the most important bit is a) make sure you drill the 2 holes for the screws in the right place, and b) don't drill too far and go through the back of your guitar! - I will be careful lol!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Sorry Mark, after all that, did some more thinking, and measuring, and at the very least I would have to drill 4 new holes in the guitar for the new pickup surround - the existing surround holes are just too close to where the pickup would be. I'm starting to think it would look a bit ugly as well, on a guitar that is otherwise very elegant and sleek in appearence. So it's back to the hum-sized P90 from Axesrus, with Alnico 5 magnets. If I get something obviously good from this, that's where it will end, if I feel there not enough top end sparkle or edge, I could try replacing the magnets with alnico 3 - on evilbay.com there are a few people selling pickup magnets. Axesrus also sell alnico 2 bar magnets. But we'll see how it goes! off to order the hum-sized P90 now, cheers.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    I'm sorry - it was me that sidetracked you down this route with my Alnico 2 mania! smirk

    Good luck with the AxesRUs pups - fingers crossed.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    No probs re the alnico 2 mania lol, it wasn't just you anyway - I get carried away and over-analyse sometimes when I'm making a purchase. In the end it was better to just make a firm decision and have done with it all! laugh
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    I'm sure I'm not the only one that has this issue - but... playing with a band yesterday evening (jazz), and while it was OK re my own playing, it was not imo my best evening. I just didn't feel terribly inspired, all the lick and lines I was playing seemed a little too familiar and tired sounding. Even some of the stuff I've been working on in more recent months/years, such as Jazz Minor scale derived phrases and ideas. I've now got to the point where I do hear ideas from the Jazz Minor, and use them spontaneously (as opposed to the horrible feeling of artificially "shoehorning" licks in, in a contrived sort of way) - which is good... but along with that success, I now find I sometimes find I repeat certain Jazz Minor things a bit more than I perhaps should. As I'm playing, I can hear myself doing it, but in the heat of the moment, it's hard to prevent. This is just an example...

    Well, that was last night anyway - I guess my own perception may differ somewhat from the audience (I hope!), and also there are other times when things can seem a lot better to me - even the "stale old licks" don't seem so stale on a good evening. So just what is being inspired about, and why can't it be like that all the time? cry Or can it? Ho hum... Can anyone else relate? Any thoughts guys? smile
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    So just what is being inspired about, and why can't it be like that all the time? cry Or can it? Ho hum... Can anyone else relate? Any thoughts guys? smile

    Wow - that's one big question ... could be a lengthy book for a comprehensive response. eek

    I cannot comment on this with the perspective of someone that plays in a band. I hugely admire people like you that do, but apart from the issue of the tension / nerves of playing in public, which do not appeal to me, I am amazed that you can get so much out of playing a piece of music so many times over. To be able to do that and still have everything seeming fresh and inspired seems to me like it would be miraculous!

    To be able to be spontaneous needs the right state of mind - some nights that state of mind will be easier to find. But your mood and the sort of day you've had, your physical well-being and your mental focus all need to line up right methinks for the inspiration to strike. Same as with guitar lessons - on a good night it's great progress being made, a bad night and it's not worth going.

    The spontaneity has to be more and more difficult with repetition of a piece of music. Certainly is with me in my own small insignificant way. Once I've worked an improv around a piece for a relatively short time it does then start to go stale - and having worked on it, even if I go back a few months later those original ideas and thought processes are still in memory and it's not possible to play the improv in a different way - so to avoid stale and have spontaneity it has to be a fairly rapid recording for "posterity" and move on to something else. Maybe a revisiting a year or more down the line can lead to a fresh look, but even then it's often still the same basic original ideas.

    Then there's being "in the zone". Guess that's just focus. That wonderful feeling of there just being the music and all you can hear is your line and the other parts of the music merging and flowing - usually with very little concious feeling of what notes needs played. Very much the sub-concious and the muscle memory. Then the un-necessary thought pops in the head about something like whether you left the car doors unlocked, or a sudden uncertainty about what mode this was again - and the flows gone, the inspirations gone. I'd hate for this to happen playing in front of an audience as I'd rather just stop in disgust at that point! frown

    I don't know if the above can really count as "thoughts" and I hope someone can come up with something more positive. A solution to how it could be "like that all the time" would be great! cool
  • Just TelJust Tel Posts: 500Member
    Know exactly what you mean Megi. I think it's just your mood and life in general that gives us those feelings and the fact that you are always much more critical of yourself than others. As a solo singer/ guitarist I experience it quite often. I can play a song many times and just occasionally I think that's not good but yet its exactly the same as the times that I have played it many times before. Don't know why other than my mood and maybe I'm just somewhere else in my head. Only last week with just two minutes before going on stage I couldn't remember the intro to my first two songs so went on and completely balls them up.
    Who knows why these things happen?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Wow - that's one big question ... could be a lengthy book for a comprehensive response. eek

    I cannot comment on this with the perspective of someone that plays in a band. I hugely admire people like you that do, but apart from the issue of the tension / nerves of playing in public, which do not appeal to me, I am amazed that you can get so much out of playing a piece of music so many times over. To be able to do that and still have everything seeming fresh and inspired seems to me like it would be miraculous!

    To be able to be spontaneous needs the right state of mind - some nights that state of mind will be easier to find. But your mood and the sort of day you've had, your physical well-being and your mental focus all need to line up right methinks for the inspiration to strike. Same as with guitar lessons - on a good night it's great progress being made, a bad night and it's not worth going.

    The spontaneity has to be more and more difficult with repetition of a piece of music. Certainly is with me in my own small insignificant way. Once I've worked an improv around a piece for a relatively short time it does then start to go stale - and having worked on it, even if I go back a few months later those original ideas and thought processes are still in memory and it's not possible to play the improv in a different way - so to avoid stale and have spontaneity it has to be a fairly rapid recording for "posterity" and move on to something else. Maybe a revisiting a year or more down the line can lead to a fresh look, but even then it's often still the same basic original ideas.

    Then there's being "in the zone". Guess that's just focus. That wonderful feeling of there just being the music and all you can hear is your line and the other parts of the music merging and flowing - usually with very little concious feeling of what notes needs played. Very much the sub-concious and the muscle memory. Then the un-necessary thought pops in the head about something like whether you left the car doors unlocked, or a sudden uncertainty about what mode this was again - and the flows gone, the inspirations gone. I'd hate for this to happen playing in front of an audience as I'd rather just stop in disgust at that point! frown

    I don't know if the above can really count as "thoughts" and I hope someone can come up with something more positive. A solution to how it could be "like that all the time" would be great! cool
    Cheers Mark - fair point, it is a bit of a big question. Re the playing of the same piece over and over in a live context - I see what you mean, maybe it is unreasonable to expect something fresh and wonderful to happen every time. Although with jazz, it's never the same twice really, plus the band in question has a very big repertoire, so things don't get repeated very often.

    The state of mind - yes, that has to be important, but strangely I notice that my apparent mood doesn't seem to have much relationship to the playing - I've gone to a gig feeling tired, fed-up and crabby, and ended up playing great, and other times I'm full of energy, relaxed, been doing plenty of Zen meditation or whatever, and somehow it's just not happening. I suppose one thing I do think counts is somehow if you can stop the conscious, thinking bit of the brain from getting too involved, and just let the sub-conscious do it's thing, that seems to help. Actually this is a good angle I reckon, cheers for steering me towards this thought - very possibly I was trying a bit too hard the other evening. I will have to try to try less in future... crazy

    As I read on, I see your next paragraph re "the zone" is kind of saying the same thing, clearly you are way ahead of me. Yes, it can come and go during a performance, but part of playing live is the skill of coming up with something, even when not in the zone. I think the "zone" moments are what makes the whole endeavour worth while for me, but also there is a certain satisfaction to be had from being a decent enough craftsman to produce something not entirely horrible when zone-less.

    I think your thoughts are valuable and thought-provoking, so positive for me, and cheers for taking the time. Just a thought for yourself - I know you love the blues, and in a way that must be one of the most repetitive genres of music (how dare I say such a thing? blush) as it generally uses the 12 bar progression, plus variations on I admit. But amazing that the great blues artists could do so much with it, and be inspired to play great stuff night after night. People like BB King for example...
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Originally Posted By: Just Tel
    Know exactly what you mean Megi. I think it's just your mood and life in general that gives us those feelings and the fact that you are always much more critical of yourself than others. As a solo singer/ guitarist I experience it quite often. I can play a song many times and just occasionally I think that's not good but yet its exactly the same as the times that I have played it many times before. Don't know why other than my mood and maybe I'm just somewhere else in my head. Only last week with just two minutes before going on stage I couldn't remember the intro to my first two songs so went on and completely balls them up.
    Who knows why these things happen?
    Cheers Tel, I was talking from a jazz perspective, but of course the same thing has to apply to other styles of music as well. Probably all performers get these issues to some extent. And as you rightly point out, the audience may not actually notice very much anyway - we may feel uninspired, but we've heard our material a lot more than the audience, so to them it may be more interesting. I have a friend who is a really good jazz guitarist - I went to see him at a concert once, thought he was on fire that evening, really great gig. Met him about a week later and he was complaining that the gig just hadn't got going, and he didn't seem to be able to play as well at his best. That impression was so at odds with how the audience found things, bizarre...

    Your last sentence makes me smile - sometimes things do go hilariously wrong with a live performance, I've had that experience also. All part of the buzz of playing live though I think, there are risks, but also rewards, and at least it's not life and death... smile
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,530Member, Moderator
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    I am amazed that you can get so much out of playing a piece of music so many times over.

    I think part of this is the song (or songs). For eample, I am surprised that after hearing Hotel California regularly for 27 years I still love it when I am out, in a restaurant perhaps, and hear it on the radio. I could list many more that have a similar effect on me. And so it is with songs I love to play, I love it every time the opportunity comes round again. Plus, I think audiences create the atmosphere as much as the band and the repertoire.

    Sadly, I think there is an opposite and I am playing in a band that uses a drum machine and that seems to suck all the life out of rhythms and we have a habit of selecting old dreary songs and a setlist that has 80% dreary ballads puts me (playing bass) to sleep. I have friends that know the band and say they are not interested in coming to any gigs. To be honest, I don't blame them.

    Great topic for discussion. I am sure there are many right answers, or many parts to a right answer.

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Then there's being "in the zone".

    I have only once been what I call in the zone. I was playing flute in church and in a celebratory time I just took off, playing some awesome fills that (a) were way beyond my skill level and (b) I wasn't thinking at all about what to play, it just all came without any conscious help from me.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Originally Posted By: Lester
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Then there's being "in the zone".

    I have only once been what I call in the zone. I was playing flute in church and in a celebratory time I just took off, playing some awesome fills that (a) were way beyond my skill level and (b) I wasn't thinking at all about what to play, it just all came without any conscious help from me.

    Feels almost like a sort of spiritual channelling? I've never tried the meditation / trance sort of thing but I'm guessing it has some similarities. It's a great feeling whatever it is, though the sudden crashing back to reality that will inevitably happen is not so good!

    I find that getting in the zone when playing is not dis-similar to the same thing when happening when passively listening. It's a bit like my head goes a bit swimmy and then there's a sharper focus to just the music. There was a gig I went to a couple of years ago where the audience noise was really irritating me - then the band (we were trying to listen to) got into an astoundingly good version of "Hoochie Coochie Man" and I went through the swimmy head feeling and all I could hear was the music and it was as if the audience was no longer there. A feeling that I dearly wish I could have all the time. smile
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    I've never once been in the zone sadly, have to work a fair bit more to get to the point where it may happen I think.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Thanks for your further thoughts chaps, it's all absorbing and thought-provoking to read. Interested too by Lester's mention of spirituality - I'm not religious (a dangerous subject to mention on a forum perhaps) and spirituality could be a hard thing to define, but I do feel if it means anything to me, there is something about music and music-making that gets me closest to that. If you see what I mean lol... smile

    I bought an new guitar book yesterday, written by Mick Goodrick and Tim Miller - it's called "Creative Chordal Harmony For Guitar, Using Generic Modality Compression" - (pretentious title perhaps? grin). It seems a good book - listening to the included CD, this is really out-there, ultra-modern, cutting-edge jazz or fusion type stuff. I've always thought myself open to modern sounds but at the moment I think this may be too much for me - seems way outside my comfort-zone, in terms of what I'm used to hearing. Everything is written in musical notation btw, with no tab, diagrams or even fingering indications at all - so music reading skills absolutely necessary to use this book at all. Plus a fair amount of time and work I think. Not sure if it was such a brilliant choice for me tbh, but I may warm to it over time.

    Good to have you back after your break Hobbio. The "zone" will happen one day when you least expect it! smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,827Member
    Already posted in the Totally Not Guitars, but I notice posts there don't appear in the lastest posts list, so thought I'd put a link in my diary thread also. It's for a new soundcloud page I've setup to showcase "Vintage Cool" which is a duo I have with Beryl, who sings (wonderfully!) and plays bass. At the moment there are just 5 tracks on there that we recorded some time ago. It was a "warts and all" recording, just done live in Beryl's sitting room, with everything including the guitar going straight through a Peavey PA system, no mixing or anything, but it still sounds quite warm and nice to me. We're hoping to get some more professional standard recordings done for a CD soon, but these will do for now! It's fairly laid-back, 50s style jazzy stuff - please have a listen if you're in the mood for something like that, cheers! smile

    https://soundcloud.com/vintage-cool/sets/classic-jazz-songs
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,231Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    please have a listen if you're in the mood for something like that, cheers! smile

    I'm in the mood for that ... but in a rush I'm afraid. Had enough time to listen to Summertime and it's a beautiful cosy intimate sort of sound and of high musical quality. Lovely singing and guitar. cool

    I will go back and hear the others later. So you'll find you're being followed by a Viking now! grin

    Warts and all can be very good. The best recordings are often "live" and pretty much unplanned. The more the planning and editing the more the soul often ebbs away from the music - or at least that's the case with a hack like me.
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