Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016-12-27 How to Mod Guitars and Sell them and Not Go Broke!

Here is a tip to save a hell of a lot of money.

When you buy a guitar, love it and start putting money into it, which I must say there is nothing wrong with doing, as I do it all the time. For example stuff like new pickups, maybe tuners, other hardware, bridge, etc. They can add up fast. 

For this discussion I will refer to a Fender Mexican Stratocaster on the used market. Why? Everybody has played one, a ton of us own them, very common and easy to find in any market. I have owned over a dozen over the years, paying between $175-$275 a pop. They are quickly bought and an easy sell.

For this we will say we paid $300. Its a killer guitar, plays nice, but the pickups are a bit bland. that adds up to $150 really fast, no matter if you go Lace sensors, or Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, etc.

What is the guitar worth? most certainly not $450.

You throw some locking tuners on it (which I hate and I promise I will do a blog on in the near future). lets say, $50.

What is the guitar worth? most certainly not $500.

Lets mix it up...

You find this beautiful American Strat that you are lusting over and want to buy it. However to afford it, you must sell the Mexican Strat, So you list it on Ebay/Reverb/Craigslist/Gumtree,etc. for $500 because it is 'heavily modded' and you have 'a lot of money invested' and wait. THAT IS YOUR MISTAKE.

Nobody in their right mind will pay more than $350 for that, even if it is perfect.

This is what you should have done: KEPT ALL OF THE ORIGINAL PARTS and swapped it back to the way you got it. Nobody is going to give you that astronomical figure for that guitar.

What you have is a guitar with the original parts in installed that your sold for $300. You also have three nice pickups that you could likely get $100 for (or to use on a different guitar OR your new American Strat), and a nice set of locking tuners, ~$30 or again future use.

You lose a LOT LESS MONEY $$$ this way. It is something that I have always done to any guitar i have modded. For the guitars I do have that were modded by me, I have filing cabinets FULL of parts. If I get rid of the guitar I open up the drawer it is in, swap it back, then photograph and list it.

**MOST used gear that is bought used smartly and in the same condition sells within +/-15% of what you paid. That is NOT a published number, just experience of buying and selling a lot of guitars and being glued to the community both on the net and online.**

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016-12-15 Fix up this POS!!!

I am up and running again! Time to do some bitchin'!!

So here you go, you buy this POS (piece o' shite) strat copy, and you want to upgrade it. and you say:

"Trashed, why not upgrade it?"

"I say because it is putting lip-stick on a pig. It just ain't right."

but Trashed, "I love this guitar, and I can make it sound better, I will replace the pickups, hardware, etc. etc."

I respond "I guess you are the type to not heed quality advice and have to mess something up yourself to learn, Good luck!"


$150 in pickups, sounds a little nicer. but not amazing. $50 on tuners, however, you will most likely drill for them to fit. In case you didn't notice, third world countries don't follow standard sizes as us civilized folk do (to a degree). $200 into a $100 guitar (running total of $300).

There are a couple of points to make to clear the last paragraph up. Tuners are typically not what causes a guitar to go out of tune, normally it is the string binding on somethin. However really junky, shitty tuners can slip and mess up your gig. Ya get whatcha' pay for sometimes. Also if you have a $100 guitar the other electronics are shit too, plan on new pots, jacks, switches, caps, etc.

"Oh shit, Trashed, I am into this guitar three times it is worth, but I love it."

The plot thickens: You develop as a guitarist, you play a nice guitar, and wish your guitar felt like that. $150 on a level and crown, you are getting close!!! Nope.

Now... you are in a running total of $450 into this piece of junk. It isn't worth anything, as YOU DO NOT GET YOUR CASH OUT OF UPGRADES. so there you are. That could have bought yourself something very nice.



Not all $100 guitars are junk. Pretty much any current produced guitar @ $100 is junk, just in general. Some people love modding, I do, but its about the journey as opposed to the destination, but that doesn't mean that the destination is where you wanted to go. One thing is that you can find $1000 guitars that will need a fret level and crown, but generally they are much more playable that of the guitars we are talking.


Disclaimer #2...

I am gearing this specific blog to newer or less gear savvy guitarists who don't have as much experience.


Cheers Fellow Axemen, Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016-12-01 Hoarding & What Trashed Hoards.

Cheers Gear Afflicted Junkies!

First off - I have a LOT of gear, and yes I have some [insert piece here] that I have in storage and haven't touched in five years. YES. I do. Hoarding gear can be a great thing. One good thing about gear is that most of it is pretty liquid.

If you buy it used for a good price, you likely won't lose much selling it on the used market and it typically goes reasonably fast.

If you buy new, that is a whole different situation, kiss your ass goodbye, you lost half of its value when you walked out the door of your favorite shop.

Either way, you get more money back from gear than you would a lot of other things, provided it is well taken care of.

With that aside, "TRASHED! WTF IS YOUR POINT???"

I would like to tell YOU all about what i like to hoard. Some of these things are more obsessive than others, some cheaper, and some not so much.

My most innocent hoarding is of Yamaha Nippon Gakki Classical guitars. They date back to the 1960's and they were made in Japan, there is a whole gamut of different models that they put out. I just happen to like their nylon string classical guitars. At the moment I believe I have five tucked away, one I take out regularly. I have spent from $10-$110 on them. They are very cheap, and I have scored at garage sales at least once.

My 'component' hoarding is tubes (duh!) at the moment I have roughly 90 brand new tubes, probably anther 40-50 that have been used and are good, and then i have 19 tube amps with functioning tubes in them. THIS may be a problem... lol. My second 'component' hoarding is BBD chips. I have a few laying around here and there that I am saving as they are no longer produced. I have at least five pedals with BBD chips in them (thank you Malekko!).

Ibanez Prestiges - this is the pricey one. I will have my sixth in January. They are just magnificent pieces of gear. They play so well, quality is top notch, perfect fretwork every time, GOOD trems that can take a lot before going out of tune. I think I may stop at 6, but don't quote me.

Two more notables!

Malekko Heavy Industry - I have at least seven or eight of their pedals, TOP freakin' notch.

Cmatmods - I have a growing collection of them, and every additional one I get even more blown away.


Cheers, Trashed.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016-11-27 9 Volt Batteries are from HELL!!!

Fellow Weekend Warriors,

Here is a pressing issue which seems to be greatly understood by a lot of people. -especially beginners.

"OMG Trashed, I don't want [insert active pickup here] because they will frequently need batterizz."

Well... I have had quite a few guitars with active EMG's (81, 85, 60, etc.) and I have NEVER had one battery die in less than a year. The Gibson SG I have them in now have had them for five years (granted it doesn't get a ton of play).

The secret - don't leave your cord plugged into your jack. The jacks are switched (known as 'normally open') and the plug when plugged in completes the circuit.

The obvious disclaimers: just like you keep extra strings, DO keep extra 9V batteries around. If you get the guitar used, you don't know how long it has been in there, so I (just my preference) swap it, as opposed to wondering when it will die on me. Also, batteries are not all created equal. Tread carefully.

NOW for pedals...

MOST pedals have switched INPUT jacks, (like the switched jacks on active pickups) and will NOT drain batteries unplugged. If you leave them plugged in, (especially on a higher current pedal) you will have a dead battery fast.

Another argument is (regarding pedals), why the hell would you use batteries? They are expensive and unreliable as you don't know when they are going to die. The solution to that is a $25 Visual Sound (now True Tone) 1 spot will power your entire board, and will do just about everything you need. [For the record, an ISO powered block is much better, but you are looking over $100 easily for such unit].

"So Trashed, when do YOU use batteries"?

I use them as sparingly as possible. The ONLY time is if I am going to a small gig or open mic if I am running only two or three pedals, and you don't have to fuss about power and related issues. I test the battery before I put it in the pedal, and take it out RIGHT when I get home.



Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016-11-13 *BONUS RANT* Mic your Shit!

I am sick of going on Youtube and seeing video after video of absolutely shit tone. Yes, some of them are 'deplorable idiots' who do indeed use junk and sound like it and are in denial. Maybe some just really don't know.

If you are demoing a decent amp or pedal or guitar, and use a damn mic! You can't make even the nicest of amps will not sound good with a shitty phone recording or a shitty point and shoot camera with the mic on there. Period.

Mic'ing an amp is not hard to do, nor is it necessarily expensive.

"So Trashed why use a mic?"

Here are just a couple of reasons. Hearing the noise from you banging your strings blended with the noise from the amp is flat nauseating. Also, you pick up room noises from some (the real idiots) that have a TV on in the background or their mom yelling out of them telling them to get out of their basement (an unforgivable sin in my opinion). Do you have no pride in your craft? Also if you are recording, the STANDARD is the mic'd tone, that is what you hear on most recordings (especially small time), so don't you want to sound 'professional'?

Why record your amp without a proper mic? There are VERY few decent reasons. NONE of which I can think of at the moment.

Also, it is NOT nearly EXPENSIVE as people think. Even an outdated computer can reasonably hold it's own to a few tracks. $80 on an SM-57, a $100 interface, free DAW (Audacity), at a minimum headphones, and let it rip. The quality is immensely better than whatever you are using.

Video is a different animal, not nearly expensive as it seems as well, especially with how good some cell phones can record video (my cell will record in HD and do well). 

The biggest factor is lighting. You may need to spend a few buck on that. The cheap-ass way? take some umbrellas, spray the inside with a metallic paint, and shine a desk light in and arrange them to light the room.

So don't be an idiot, don't be lazy, do it right.

Here is what I use (and I am fairly new to it to be honest). I use SM57 for a mic for the most part, I use a Focusirte Scarlet 2i4 for an interface, Reaper for a DAW, and some higher end Sennheiser headphones and some KRK rockitt 6" monitors (they are my weak point at the moment, but i got them cheap). For Video I use a Nikon DSLR (1080p) and a Rode Video Mic for speaking parts. I use Adobe Premier Elements and go from there. It works great, I will be posting more videos in the near future when i have some more time to make them and get more familiar with the rig.

So if you do it, DO IT RIGHT.

That is it for now bitches.

Cheers, Trashed

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016-10-28 Whatcha need in your gigbag to survive?

Whats up my fellow weekend warriors?

This is a simple post, what do you need with you to survive out in the world of 'Guitar Land'?

However - I am NOT going to tell what you need.

"WTF Trashed, I thought you were trying to help us?"

"Well... I don't know what you need because I am not you, but what I WILL DO is tell you what I bring".

I am assuming that you have two guitars, and a tube amp that you are taking, although a backup amp is always good to have access to.

I have a tool bag that I got from Home Depot like this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-12-in-Tool-Bag-82004N11/203224030. $10 and rugged as all hell. I own at least five of them for different things. They go cheap for Black Friday too, I think I got mine at $4 each last year.

There is one thing that separates a pro player from a new player: A beginner will bring enough in case ANYTHING were to go wrong. A pro will bring enough in case EVERYTHING goes wrong. 

That is it right there, take that as a word of wisdom.

I am not going to list the common things (picks/strings/etc). I am going to cover some of the lesser thought items, some are obvious, some a little less so. This is a combination of general, guitar related, and amp related.

1. Towels/rags - you want to be able to wipe down your guitar strings, body, fretboard, forehead. It gets hot up there.
2. Magic marker/sharpie, pen and paper -to get the bitches numbers right? Yeah, but ya' know there are other reasons. Set lists/marking knobs on amp/pedal. etc.
3. Flashlights - one of the most important actually. It can get dark on stage, and if you bump a knob, you need to see it. If you need to plug/unplug something during the set. If you drop something. etc. good for setup too.
4. Batteries - for EVERYTHING. 9V's for pedals and if you have active pickups, flashlights, wireless systems (if applicable), and even for your clip on tuner.
5. Fuses - usually there are two fuses on each amp that are accessible from the back panel, make sure you have the SAME value, and the SAME type (standard versus slo-blow).
5. Cables - that falls on the obvious side of things, but this is something that can completely impair your gig if one goes. Cable testers are a good idea overall too.
6. Extension cords and power strips - . Everything needs to plug in, and outlets are not always plentiful or not even in close proximity. I personally use a power conditioner, but that is a luxury to some degree.
7. Tubes - Here is another obvious one, wrap them in towels, have some of every kind your amp uses.
8. Extra power supplies - a 1spot is always good to have in case your iso-brick were to die. Or if you are using a power supply, bring a second.
9. Allan wrenches, screw drivers, a telescoping magnet on a stick. Tools in general.
10. Tooth picks and chopsticks - you can safely poke around your amp with chopsticks if something were to go wrong from the 'tapping test' on tubes, to if you drop something in there. Toothpicks are handy in case a strap button were to fall out (yes it happens), insert and screw the screw back in. Temporary fix.
11. Digital multi-meter - good for everything, especially continuity (set on ohms setting) which can quickly troubleshoot a dodgy cable or connection or short.
12. Second tuner. Period. It doesn't matter what you have, get an extra. If you can't tune, to a degree you are screwed.

I am assuming that you have a backup guitar and access to a second amplification source. If you don't have a second amp to bring, sometimes other bands will let you use yours in a pinch. It is always good to have something small that could go into the PA if needed, From a POD to an Orange Micro Terror. Personally I keep a Peavey Valve King in the trunk. I haven't needed to break it out yet.

Cheers, Trashed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

2016-10-22 BONUS RANT!!! Moral Dilemma

Here is a straight up rant. LET'S GO BITCHES!

It is well known that i am a flat out guitar and gear whore. Most of you know this. If you don't, maybe you should check this blog more often.

I have a collection of Ibanez Prestiges'. Number six will be here in January.

Ibanez Prestige's are Ibanez' flagship models- not cheap. They typically come with Dimarzio's (if you know that great, if not maybe you should do some soul surfing). All five of mine currently do have Dimarzio's. I love Dimarzio's and they make amazing pickups. I have a variety of Dimarzio's on them. Single coils and humbuckers of all sorts. Mid to high output. etc. etc. etc. They do what I want and I love them. but...

I want to get some Seymour Duncans,

HOWEVER I cannot morally put Seymour Duncans in an Ibanez. It just seems like I would spontaneously combust. I can't do it. It is like putting a Mustang emblem on a Camaro. They are both nice cars, can be fast, I have owned both, and would buy either again at some point down the road.

So... Want Seymour Duncan's... Can't put in Ibanez...

... Need new guitar for new pickups. Need Jackson?

Yes, yes, yes, need Jackson. They make fantastic guitars, good all across the board. THEY come with Seymour Duncan's (not cheap Jackson's, the nice ones), they are great with Seymour Duncans. I have owned three which are long sold (ironically for Ibanez'). High end Jackson is on par with Ibanez Prestige, and Dimarzio's are on par with Seymour Duncan's. They are just a little different. There are other reasons to get a Jackson, slightly beefier neck, but still really slim and fast. Slightly different dimensions and vibe to them. I am looking for hard-tail models specifically, because their tremolo's are a weak point (which is why I own the Ibanez', those fuckers never go out of tune).

I could never put Dimarzio's in a Jackson for THE SAME REASON that I wouldn't put Seymour Duncan's in a Ibanez. It would throw off the time space warp and open a black hole. Not a good thing.

So needless to say, next year will see a Seymour Duncan loaded guitar or two. Kind of excited.

So am I crazy?

Most likely.

I better go take my meds...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016-10-20 Speakers: Part 3

Here we go Speaker Junkies:

Scroll down about a foot, and you will see my previous two parts if you haven't been keeping up with this thriving blog.

"So Trashed, a lot to say about speakers?"


"You seem to favor Celestion?"


"So because it's a Celestion it must be good?"


Not all speakers are created equally. Celestion makes some [to put it lightly] shitty speakers. The Rocket 50's are straight up trash. The only thing they are good for is removing the magnets and use it to pick the metal bits off of your floor in your shop. Seventy80's, another junk speaker. Just flat out terrible. There are some others, my Celestion M-70 in my Ampeg is pretty much shit too, but it is workable.

"Trashed, you seem to talk about Celestion a lot. Are there any other good speakers?"

Yessir! Eminence makes some excellent speakers, a lot are cheaper, and to a degree many of them are based off of- you guessed it- Celestions. Swamp Things and Governors are a good combination. I am not a fan of the Legend, but may people like it.

I don't have a lot of time on Eminence, I have owned relatively few.Why? I buy up cheap cabs on craigslist that have good speakers, typically under $200 for a 4x12". That is why I have a shit-ton of K85's and V30's and T75's. Cabs get sold or burned, sometimes kept.

"Damn Trashed, that sure is luck!"

If you look and know what you are looking for its not that hard. The only issue that is sometimes is insurmountable is fitting a 4x12" in your Mustang. What is the lesson here? Know somebody with a truck. It's not that hard.

What matters other than speakers?

Hot-Damn! I thought you would never ask.

Enclosures. There is a whole field of science regarding cabinet design, and stupidly a lot of debate. Why was the 4x12" born? because the speakers were 25 watt, and the heads were 100 watt. So thus it came to be the standard. For the most part sealed cabs offer little difference from each other, the main thing is quality of wood. MDF for me is a no-go, and what you want is 3/4" 13 ply Baltic birch. A good seal is to a degree an important thing as well.

Regarding the open-back or ported design, it gets jumbled fast. I don't even want to get into that. Maybe another blog sometime in the future.

So what do you pay for in a cab? The largest portion is the speakers, the second? the logo on the front. That 'Mesa' logo on the front is worth a few hundred most of the time. [Saying this I own two Mesa cabs and love them]. Wood is to a degree, but not what you think it would be.

Do you need 4x12"s? No. Its actually a stupid thing if you are going to have to haul it around. That is why I have 2x12"s as well. I haul around 2x12"s and keep my 4x12"s around the house/studio.

Ugh. I am soooo sick about talking about speakers.

That wraps up your mid-week edition,

Keep on bitchin' and I will keep on postin'.



Monday, October 17, 2016

2016-10-17 Speakers: Part 2

Fellow Audiophiles,

So we are talking about speakers. Again? Yeah.

"Say what?"

Yeah, we need it loud. LOUDER!

I covered speakers in layman's terms last week, now I am going to give you my experience on what I have/use/hate/throw in the trash.

First off, for the most part, EVERY amp that comes with an unknown speaker, likely sucks. Hard fucking truth, even the Celestion and Eminence 'designed' speakers suck 99% of the time. Also, there are very few speakers that are smaller than 10" that are halfway decent, the exception is in some vintage low watt vintage amps (5F1 for example). 10" speakers can be great, but not the piece of junk sitting in your practice amp though.

"OK, so Trashed, you seem to like 12" speakers?"

Yeah. I do.

I have (literally) more than 30 speakers around my house/studio when you add up all of the cabs and combos.

I am mainly going to cover newer production speakers, I am not well versed on the vintage speakers.

Celestion Vintage 30's - Rightfully (or wrongfully) the most iconic go-to speaker for a lot of things. Tight bass, huge upper mids, decent power rating (60w). Some complain about 'honk' and that does happen with some amps, however, they are well received. Orange, Mesa, Engl, etc. all use them. The sound good with anything from Fenders Blues Jr.s to Peavey Wolfgangs, to Mesa's, Oranges, Marshalls, 5150's, etc. The only amps I have that totally disagreed with the V30 are my Splawn Promod and Splawn Nitro. I have no idea why, they just don't get along. One last thing is that V30's take a long time to break in. If you just got some new ones, give them a month with medium volume playing, they really open up.

Celestion T75's - Infamous thanks to Marshall. They are the standard in the 1960a cabs, and are overall an industry standard for 80's JCM's through today. Not much to be said, a little smoother on the top end and a little less mids, they are pretty friendly overall. I sometimes find them a little 'bland' with some amps, I LOVE mixing them with V30's (and it is relatively common).

"So Trashed, you like Celestions?"

That sounds like a dumb question, YES.

Lets continue!

Celestion K85/K100. These are my FAVORITE speakers. Period. They are 100% identical other than country of origion. K85's were British (confirmed with Celestion's representative), they changed the wattage rating. I have mostly K85's, A LOT of them. They are more low mid focused, and have a nice smooth range, and a lot of bass. I buy up every K85 I find locally. I have around a dozen. They thunder, they get along well with anything high gain, and to be honest i haven't tried them with any of my more vintage amps, but I am sure they will do fine. My Splawns and Peavey 5150, and Orange Rockerverb LOVE them. 

I... need... more. I like to use them with V30's, but not always.

and.. last for the day, the speaker that started it all...

Celestion G12m Greenback - Vintage Marshall and Vox's favorite speakers for the most part.* They seem to 'compress' (if that is the right term) as they get pushed harder, which is one of their well known traits. They are picky about how hard they are pushed. They need to be pushed, but only to a degree, they are OK quiet too. They have a low sensitivity, so they are noticeably quieter than other speakers when pushed, for example the V30. I don't really know what to say, but they are just legendary. The only downfall is that they are 20-25W. That limits their use in a lot of scenarios. With a 2x12 cab, you can't run a lot of amps, as it is <50W. So if you want to run a high wattage amp, you need a 4x12". Kinda sucks. To be completely honest, that limits my use of them. 

I think this will turn into a part three for next week.


You keep playing I keep bitchin',


*i must note that Vox are also known for Alnico Blues

Sunday, October 9, 2016

2016-10-09 Speakers: Part 1

Dear fellow Guitar-a-files:


Can you hear me?

Yeah that is right, speakers. Ya' need some.

Speakers are one of the most overlooked aspect to your tone. That little 8"er in your practice combo isn't going to get you anywhere (well at that rate you probably nee a new amp too). Nor is that Fender "Special Designed" speaker in your Fender Frontman going to enchant you.

There are several things to consider when you are picking out speakers. The impedance (notated as Z in Ohms), wattage, and the sensitivity (in dB 1w@1m). Size also plays a factor, but there are no laws for that.

Well maybe some of us get a little 'sensitive' on the topic, but man up guys this is for real.

What is impedance? Impedance to speak in layman's terms, is the combination of the of opposition to flow combining resistance and reactance. Now what does that definition mean to you? not much, it shouldn't.

So Trashed, what does matter? What matters is that your amp and speakers are running at the same load. Running a mismatch can cause you to blow a speaker, blow the output transformer in your amp (big bucks), and all sorts of other shit. Take my word for it and don't do it. 99% of what we see as guitarists is either 4 ohms, 8 ohms, or 16 ohms.[I am not going to cover it now, you have google for that], but the number of speakers and impedance of the speakers are what determines the load. The load is what you should match your amp and speaker(s) to. Is 4 ohms better than 16 ohms? or vice versa? Nope. Not at all. Just make sure it matches.

Wattage, hell yeah, need more! Right guys???

Maybe not. the Wattage of the speaker is basically how much power it can handle. It does not affect the volume. If you have a 20 watt amp, a 100w speaker (cceteris paribus) will not be any louder than the same amp with a 20 watt speaker. One general rule that I follow is to have the speaker wattage rating just a little higher than the amp. The reason is that some amps can put out more power than they are rated for... and... well, it makes me feel safe and warm inside.

From a technical standpoint, you don't just add the individual wattages up to get how much you have in total. What you do is [again not going into depth here, google is your friend] to take the speaker with the lowest wattage and multiply that by the number of speakers you have.


Now, what does? The sensitivity. Lets get emotional guys.

Sensitivity, what could that mean? Well, it is simply the volume in dB SPL of the speaker being pushed by 1 watt 1 meter from the speaker cone. This makes a HUGE difference. A Celestion Vintage 30 is rated at 100dB, 1m away, being pushed by 1 watt, that is damn loud. A Celestion Rocket 50 is rated at a lowly 95 dB. To keep this brief, decibels are logarithmic. 10 dB is double the volume. So... you get the picture.

Size matters my fellow man...

Well we can't really find a rule for that... There are many other factors.

PART #2 COMING NEXT WEEK. We will get down and dirty with a variety of common speakers.

Fellow Axe-Men,



Monday, October 3, 2016

2016-10-03 Floyd Rose

Greetings to the Troubled Guitarists, and Helpless Gear-Heads of the World,

We are going to talk about Mr. Floyd and his Roses. 

****If you don't know what it is, go down to the bottom.****


There are a few breeds of Floyds, most of which belong to two classes: the good; and the pathetically terrible (in other words, shit). Both of which I have experienced.

The "good" ones are known by a few things...

1. OFR - Original Floyd Rose
2. Schaller made -which to a degree is a OFR
3 Gotoh made - yet again an OFR variant.
4. Ibanez EDGE - original deviation under some Floyd Rose Patents, there are several versions.

The "bad" ones are... 

1. Pretty much everything else. SERIOUSLY terrible. Let me say that again, junk.
     a. LFR (licensed floyd rose) which are found on pretty much any and every "brand: X" cheap 
     b. FR1000 etc. they are generally better than most LFR's
     c. Ibanez Edge II, Edge III, and another one or two.

What makes a good one good?

I thought that you would never ask!

You want the base-plate to be hardened steel. Hardened steel is necessary for keeping a good sharp knife edge. If it isn't hardened it will fatigue (rather quickly in some cases), and will be a royal pain in the ass. The knife edge is where the tremolo contacts the posts. (NOTE: the knife edges are the only point of contact on a guitar with a tremolo other than through the tremolo springs on the rear). If it has a good edge it will rest on the same spot during action, and will stay there - and yup! you guessed it, it will stay IN TUNE. If the edge becomes worn and chewed up, the tremolo will won't pivot properly, and every time you use it, it will go sharp or flat, not leveling out. The small blocks are also inferior, but they can be had easily and [relatively] cheap. Brass is a nice upgrade in most cases. HOWEVER a lot of the nicer Floyds have nicer blocks, so it may not be necessary. In addition to that, they are better machined. Period. 

Why do I need a good one?

Damn! You have been on a roll with good questions!

You want one so do you're dive-bombs and pull-ups you stay in tune. A good floyd will be able to dive to the point where the strings are so loose you are literally able to watch them flap, THEN do a pull-up three or more steps up. THEN repeat it fifty times. All of my four Ibanez Prestiges' do just this.

WOAH! these suckers are expensive!

Yeah. You get what you pay for. There are a LOT of guitars that can be swapped from LFR to OFR relatively simply. I did it to an older MIJ Jackson and it was pretty much drop in. That was probably nearly ten years ago, and the guitar is long sold, but it completely remedied the tuning instability. If you have a guitar you like and want to keep, the swap is worth it. If you aren't attached to it, I wouldn't bother.

This is just a simple and very shallow post. At some point in time I will write more of a tech write-up.

**** OK, What the hell is a Floyd Rose?****

Read here if you don't know, then go back to the top. It is a type of bridge found on a lot of guitars. It is "double locking" as the bridge locks the strings in at the bridge, and the locking nut locks the strings at the nut. Why? so you stay [more] in tune and because you eliminate play (for lack of a better term). They are responsible for the things that Eddie Van Halen and Dimebag do in solos.

Cheers Brethren,


Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016-09-25 - Drop Tuning

Greetings to the Cult of the 6 stringers:

Drop tuning. YES we mean tuning your guitar lower.

Is there a point? Yes,
Is it common? Yes.
Is it overused? ohhhhh yeah.

Myths of Drop-Tuning:

"but... but.. but... it sounds better, doesn't it?"

"all the cool metal bands do it, why shouldn't I"

To a degree it is tasteful. I have a hard time justify anything lower than C# standard. That is three semitones lower. For certain types of music (metal, which may be obvious), utilizes it quite often. Then you have the ass-clowns who tune to B standard, A standard, Drop G, etc.

I have an argument on two fronts:

First is that E2 which on a guitar is the low E string 82.41 Hz. What does that mean? Every second 82.41 sound waves pass any point (Hz is cycles per second). Simple.

HOWEVER the frequency scale is NOT LINEAR, it is logarithmic. E2 is 82.41 Hz (as we have already established) one octave lower E1 is 41.20 Hz etc. Which is what a bass is tuned to.

The threshold for the human ear is typically between 20Hz and 20kHz (twenty thousand hertz). So, you can only go so low. The bass typically drops with the guitar.


The guitar is definitionally a mid range instrument. SO what does that mean? You are changing the range. What happens if you tune your guitar to B standard? Your whole guitar is five semitones lower. It begins to encroach where the bass guitar is, the bass drop tunes as well. If you tune the guitar lower, where are the mid-range frequencies? Missing in action to a degree. So you have a hole in your mix, not a good thing.


The gear side. MOST modern guitar speakers (everything from Celestion Vintage 30's to Celestion Greenbacks, T75's, etc.) start to roll off their low end at around 100 Hz, give or take a bit. What does that mean? the speakers have a harder time producing lower frequencies. So 100Hz is about a G2, (third fret on the low E string if tuned in standard). That isn't a big deal.

Now lets go to the bastard child B standard tuning, ~61Hz. HUGE difference. The lower tuned notes cannot be as efficiently produced by the speakers, so you lose some lower frequencies. Lower, and you aren't fully hearing the fundamental harmonic, you are hearing other harmonics as well.

In summation, think before you drop. If you like it you like it, but now at least you are informed.

Thank you for your ever so valuable time,



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016-09-06 Guitar Strings

To the Guitarophiles, and the Fellow Chasers of the Purple Tone Dragon!

Guitar strings. The topic alone strikes emotions and uneasiness. So what do I have to say? Strings are cheap, and strings are cheap. Wait... did I say that twice? It would appear that I did. So lets say it one more time, Strings are cheap.

Now that we have established that strings are cheap (I usually purchase mine online in bulk), the discussion can commence.

When somebody asks me what strings I use, I tell them.

When somebody asks what strings I recommend, I ask them this: "What strings are you using now? What do you like/dislike about them?" That is all I can say. Strings are a personal item that is largely preference.

The most common issue is NOT breakage, but we will cover breakage first. Seemingly like the string is bad, right? Not all the time!

I say this because if you keep breaking strings in the same spot, you probably have a burr. Not to worry though, they are easy to smooth out a little bit with a little bit of sandpaper (very fine). Once you get that spot fixed, you shouldn't have a problem area any more.

Typically strings break at the bridge/saddle, nut, or tuning keys. Unknown to you, what is happening is that a burr is developing in a problem area. Your string is slowly getting weaker and weaker as the burr is cutting deeper and deeper into the string. You will be innocently strumming (we all know YOU don't do that, so) beating the hell out of your guitar with earth shaking power chords, then SNAP! a string pops. Hopefully it didn't go flying and scratch your cornea, as then you wouldn't be able to read this blog!!! I cannot imagine a worse fate.

[Actually I most commonly break strings bending, but that is a personal thing.]

The most common issue that strings come up 'short' on is the aging (oxidation?). New strings sound jangley and bright and lively, after a little while they lose their luster. Then they start to sound muddy and dark and DULL sounding. No bueno in my book. String life has a million variables, from the sweat and acidity of your sweat on the strings, to the climate. Some people have much better experience with certain string brands than others, largely due to the different metals/coatings interacting with their body.

You can research the different features gimmicks on the packages yourself. They have all sorts of fancy words, that likely don't mean a whole lot. Coatings can be a good thing, on some brands of strings, but may or may not be worth the hike in price for you. The metal alloys are probably the only thing other than round-wound flat-wound half-wound that matter from a tonal (and feel) perspective.

There are products that claim to enhance string life, I call it snake-oil. Some swear by it, I don't. You can decide for yourself.

In summation: Strings are cheap, play the field.

Keep on reading, and I will keep on bitching.

Cheers, Trashed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016-09-18 Cables! oh-Snap.

Greetings Cork-Sniffers and Fellow Tone Hunting Extraordinaire 

Do I spend $10 or $50?!?!?! This one has gold! This one has a warranty! OMGZZZ!

The answer? None of the above.

This topic is heavily debated, and to be honest is mostly bullshit and/or marketing.

If I spend $50 on this Monster or Moogami is it going to give me better tone? In short, No. but there are a few variables. The warranty is one aspect. The durability is another. The ability to do you're own repairs (OK, it matters if you can solder).

What does a cable do? and what is it made of? 

A guitar cable, also known as instrument cable, is a two conductor (think two wire) cable that has a 'TS' plug, They are similar to what a headphone jack looks like (except a headphone jack is smaller and has an extra wire), you get the point. TS means "tip-sleeve" the tip (inner wire) is the 'hot' and the 'sleeve' is the ground (shielding). Typically the shielding is braided around the inner wire. In most every case a decent cable is oxygen free copper, and the jacket is some form of ABS or PVC plastic.

Copper is not the best conductor, so why do we use it?

That is because of cost of material, and tarnishing of silver (everybody has seen an old silver dinner platter) and becomes less conductive, and diminished performance. Copper also oxidizes more than gold. NOW! That is why we use gold plated ends. Why do we? I have not a damn clue. It is a sales gimmick, I call bullshit on the audio industry. Does it do any harm? No.

Why don't you run ten thousand feet of cable? The answer is capacitance, and the way it can interact with the resistance. I will cover that another day.

Cables have two main components that affect performance, cable (surprising, isn't it), and jacks.

The good thing about a typical garden-variety cable is that they are easily repairable, just two solder joints. That is if you can solder (it isn't hard and any self-respecting guitarist should learn). 

BUT I have this warranty so they will replace it right? 

Yeah, if you go the store and if they have one. It's a hassle. If you have a music store down the street that does, great, good for you. I don't feel like wasting an hour on the road to get one cable swapped (and gas too, I guess). 

So what do I do? A little bit of everything. I bought a TON of Monster cables a long time ago when they were half off ($25 isn't bad for ten years and the warranty). But I make a lot of cables.

There are two brands jacks worth considering, Switchraft (my preference) and Neutrik (good as well). They will set you back a couple of bucks a jack, but they will last forever. As far as cable, I use BTPA.com (hey guys, I could use a kickback here), They are very well priced and they are cheap in bulk. Their cable out-specs Monster, Moogami and [some] Canare and is priced at just over $.50/foot in bulk.

The Verdict-

Cheap shitty cables have weaker ends and are less reliable, in my book, a no-go. Mid range cables the ends will fail first. Expensive cables are expensive, but are generally extremely reliable (especially how Monster casts theirs in a resin around the plug). Cheap cables also have more 'memory' which is a huge pain in the ass, it doesn't like to lay out flat and coil up worse. I have never had a cable I made fail. if it does, I can fix it in two minutes. THAT is what I do. That is the rant!

Keep on playing and I will keep on bitching!

Cheers, Trashed. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

2016-09-12 Tubescreamers and More Tubescreamers.

Greetings Fellow Gear-Whores, and Six String Elitists,

Resentment -

OMG! Tubescreamers - There are sooooo many! WHY!?!?!?!?

As we know options lead people (like most other things) to vast stupidity and ignorance. Idiocy and ignorance puts money in two places, the hands of techs (me for example), or manufacturers. What is stupid? how about this: most of this is based on at most a half dozen or so different components that add up to be south of $1.

From the Ibanez/Maxon lineage, there are two caps and two diodes and an op-amp that separate the TS-9 from the TS808. Why in the hell does this add up to a $40ish dollars? (I said it above in case you don't remember), stupidity and ignorance.

You want a "4558" op-amp. That is the consensus.

The NJM and/or JRC models are more sought after, there are a lot of opinions on that though, I am not going to get into that. There are still some NOS ones out there, but there are very mixed opinions there too. Note that for the record NOS is not always the best way to go, depending on the component type and application.

So what are the differences in a TS9 and a TS808 audibly? If I put one of each in an amp in the room with me, (with discerning ears) you COULD tell the difference. HOWEVER, I bet you couldn't tell me blindly which is which through different guitars and amps. This is largely a psychosomatic type thing.

the Rambling  -

WHY in the HELL would you BUY a Maxon or Ibanez (lets stay with current production) tube screamer? in short- you shouldn't. There are literally over a hundred TS based pedals, some are cheaper and lower quality, some are cheaper and higher quality, some are more expensive and lower quality and some are more expensive and higher quality, more versatile and less versatile... etc.

There are two things that impact this: Do I even want a traditional tube screamer? and Am I open to new ideas?

Why wouldn't I want more options if i can get them? You aren't sacrificing anything in most cases by taking the new breed of TS-a-likes-. The prices are very similar as well new and used, so why not get more for your money. Also, support the little guys, I know a handful of guys who build better stuff, and a lot cheaper.

The 'alternatives' out there have better EQ'ing. The flexibility ranges from having more than just one tone knob, to full EQ's, to switches for different levels of treble and mids. A lot of them also have different/multiple gain modes, THAT is a game changer, in my book. Also some have a second switch for a boost (which allows me to take one pedal off the board). Some even have a fuzz circuit built in (i am looking at you MI Audio)

Then, why stop at tube-screamer-a-likes, The Paul C Timmy is awesome, the Hermida Audio Zendrive is heavenly, Pigtronix has some wicked stuff (with three band active EQ's), ZVEX is just flat out insane, Xotic has some REALLY nice stuff, Fulltone has the OCD which is stupid popular (they don't gel with me though), Keeley makes some really nice stuff, etc. etc. etc.

At the moment i am loving my Fulltone Fulldrive 2: Mosfet, and its under $100 used all day, everyday.

My favorite company at the moment is CMATMODS, they are a small business that is turning out some stupid nice stuff. It is all very well built, and the Signa Drive is sweet. I own five of their pedals at the moment, and that number will only go up.

To the Brethren, may your strings sound like music to your ears,


Monday, September 5, 2016

2016-09-05 Tube Amp Maintenance

Greetings to the Brotherhood of  the Quest for Audible Pleasure in the form of Guitar,

The Resentment:

This is one thing that boils my blood on a regular basis (unfortunately almost daily). It usually comes in the form of some uninformed, inexperienced player armed with an arsenal of bullshit online knowledge. Most of this "knowledge" is from another uninformed idiot spouting off something that they don't know either that they heard from somebody else. This is like the small snowball that rolls down the mountain getting bigger and bigger, and leveling a small town,

Now lets get on the topic... "Tube amps are expensive to maintain."

"Well I can't get a tube amp because I can't afford tubes."

 Immediately I call bullshit. yep, right then. I call it so fast that they cannot even get a word in.

My next retort is this: "Do you not play your guitar because you have to buy new strings?" "Do you not drive a car because tires wear?"  Following my statement this blank stare. EVERY time, always the same face.

So lets get down to it. How long do tubes last? There are still plenty of tubes out there from the '60's, as NOS (new old stock), some unused, some partially, and some that have been used since then.

For example i have NOS RCA tubes in a '70's Musicman amp, they are (to the best of my knowledge) the original tubes. This is not normal, but they are out there. I have pre-amp tubes from the '60's, my prized tube in my collection is a Telefunken 12AX7, I have a dozen others as well, some more RCA's, and GE, a few JAN Phillips around too. Current production tubes aren't made to that standard though anymore, but yet again you aren't paying $150 for one tube.

I use a lot of JJ ECC83's, i have probably 50 (yes, fifty) of them in various amps, and I just bought 40 (yes forty) more when they were on sale. I have been using them since 2009 and have only lost two or three, they are able to be had for about $10 brand new from some dealers. They are extremely reliable.

Regarding pre-amp tubes, you can expect a five year lifespan (minimum average) for current production 12AX7's. under moderate to heavy use.

Regarding power-amp tubes, they have a slightly shorter lifespan. If you use them a lot and are gigging, I would replace them every other year. *KEEP the spares though so you have them down the line.* They are also more expensive than pre-amp tubes, but not a whole lot more.

Bottom Line - Tubes are a wear item, just like strings, socks, and tires. I would be very surprised to hear that dumped more than $20-$40 a year (averaged) into tubes, I am sure some are out there, but few and far between, that would be HEAVY use, bordering on abuse.

Having said that, the Resentment and Rant were kind of in one this week.

As always, hatespam is welcomed, comments are fine too.

Cheers, and may you find much pleasure with your musical endeavors,


 **One thing that i purposely not discuss is brand, other than just a causal reference or reference gain levels. i will save that for another week**

Sunday, August 14, 2016

2016-08-14 Volume Myths and Boss Pedals

Greetings to the Brotherhood of  the Quest for Tone,

The Resentment:

Volume Myths - I am growing tired of the lack of understanding of how wattage is related to volume. It isn't. I hear a large group groaning about things along the lines of, "Will (insert model here) amp be too loud for my apartment?" or thinking that they "Well I want poweramp distortion..."

The truth is that first off, a 100w amp will only be TWICE as loud as a 10w amp. Yep, you heard it, baring extenuating circumstances that is.  There are a lot of factors in volume, and wattage is just one. Speakers can make a HUGE difference. A Celestion Vintage 30 has a sensitivity rating of 100dB @1w/1m. What that means is that a V30 being pushed at ONE watt will be 100dB at one meter from the cone of the speaker. that is LOUD. As far a dB SPL goes, there are many variables. Every time you double your distance from the source, it is 6 dB quieter. So that means if you are 2m away from the V30, you are looking at 94dB. Still damn loud. Now lets examine 10w through a V30, that would be 110dB SP at 1m from the cone. according to some references, that is the noise of a steel mill, circular saw, and being next to a car horn. 110dB is 16 times louder than a relatively loud TV.

One final example, 10 watts into a Celestion Rocket 50 is only 105db. That is substantially quieter than the 110dB that you would get out of a V30 but still loud. I must say that the Rocket 50 is a terrible speaker in my opinion, not because of the sensitivity, it just flat out sucks. So if you want to be quieter, to a degree that is, a speaker swap could be the little push off of the edge.

Clearly poweramp distortion is too loud most of the time.

Now as far as how a (insert number here) watt amp sounds quiet, that is a different discussion. My Mesa mkIV sounds much better at TV volumes than my Orange Dual Terror, which i use at 7w-15w usually. My Splawns are both 100 watts, and they preform substantially worse at low volume than any of my other firebreathers. For quiet volumes, it is case by case. It is at this point where my admittedly rather small understanding of tube amp circuit design ends.

The Rambling:

Boss Pedals. I am a pedal whore, no question about it, last count was in the 30's, most $120-$150+ new. There are a few exceptions though. Now boss, they have their strong suits, they are durable as all hell. i am sure you could run one over with a car and not wreck the damn thing (maybe that wouldn't be such a good thing). They were great in the '80's, Especially the modulation and delay (mainly for me the choruses and delays), then, I don't know what happened. Furthermore, their dirt pedals have never been good (other than the whole HM-2 thing), and  their dirt pedals have gotten progressively worse. Their buffers are mediocre at best. They have been far from innovative in the last decade, and that is why I am not a fan.

Fifteen years ago, it was different. that was before the millions of boutique pedals and builders were out there. At that time it was them, Digitech, EHX, DOD, and MXR. Time went by and Boss got too comfortable, and ceased to innovate. They are behind the times.

Do i hate Boss pedals? No. Do they make some good ones? Yes. I like some of them, but in most cases there are better pedals for just a few bucks more. Boss stopped making my favorites a long time ago, which are the dimension chorus and slow-gear. They are flat out awesome, but now they fetch stupid prices, and I am not willing to spend that much. Other honorable mentions are the NS-2, DD3, DD6, etc, as well as some of the other choruses. The final mention is the HM-2, I have one and it is great for one thing, that grinding shrill noise that is pushed through a Marshall Valvestate or Ampeg VH140c. I don't care for that tone, but i keep it around in case i get bored.

That wraps it up for tonight, leave your comments or hatespam at the bottom,

Cheers to the Brotherhood of tone,