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  • Jay Turser JT-300QMT electric guitar
    that era were not of very good quality and many of them just looked odd They were intended for beginners and many were simply thrown away as players advanced to a brand name guitar or bass Many more made it to pawn shops and Goodwill stores where people like me were likely to find them Over the years I owned some decent not great guitars and basses by Harmony Cort Matador and Teisco But nothing I ve held on to once I had a quality instrument A lot has changed in the guitar manufacturing business Today only the high end models are built in the States or in Europe Major manufacturers like Fender and Gibson have factories in Mexico China Indonesia and South Korea that knock out inexpensive variants of their most popular guitars targeted specifically to those who want a good instrument but can t afford the top dollar And many of those factories in Mexico and Asia use second quality parts from the majors to make their own third party variations Jay Turser for example uses parts from Fender s Chinese plant to make their Stratocaster Telecaster and Jazz Bass clones Other current second tier manufacturers include Austin Xaviere Agile Rondo Bridgecraft Rogue and First Act which all mirror Jay Turser s practices at other Asian Fender and Gibson plants Parts deemed second quality might have small cosmetic flaws that don t make a difference in the way parts sound or fit together For example the woodgrain pattern in a guitar body might be unacceptable for a transparent or natural finish but would be fine for an opaque finish or solid color A small crack might not effect the structural integrity of the finished instrument but could be filled and painted Second quality parts are perfectly good for

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/5/1_Jay_Turser_JT-300QMT_electric_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Epiphone Les Paul Special bass
    A couple years back I took stock of my collection of low end axes and noted that I had a nice selection of four and five string basses fretted and fretless basses acoustic and electric basses but no solidbody four string bass And although I m certainly not in the market to own every configuration available it seemed like a pretty basic bass that I ought to have So I started scoping out some of the available models For decades the industry standards have been the Fender Precision Bass and its sibling the Fender Jazz Bass Introduced in the 1950s and modeled after the Telecaster and Stratocaster respectively these models were the first mass produced bass guitars They revolutionized the low end in rock country blues and jazz I already had a Fender HM Bass V a sort of souped up five string Jazz Bass so I figured a different brand might offer an alternate look and sound depending on the needs of the arrangement and my mood So I started looking at what Gibson and its lower priced subsidiary Epiphone had to offer Gibson worked with Les Paul to develop the guitar that bears his name in response to the early success of the Fender Telecaster Paul s early experimental solidbody dubbed The Log looked and played just like its name might suggest It was pretty much carved from a single piece of 4x4 although it was offered with detachable sides to make it look and feel more like a traditional guitar Although The Log didn t sell very well that original set neck design carried through to the Les Paul and other Gibson and Epiphone designs over the years The Les Paul Bass and this particular variation the Epiphone Les Paul Special Bass are pretty much Les Paul

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/6/8_Epiphone_Les_Paul_Special_bass.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Fender Telecaster Plus electric guitar
    for sunbursts and natural finishes rather than race car paint jobs At this point the owner Fred Boresi who was putting away a new shipment from Fender opened a case and asked You mean like this In the case was a brand new Telecaster Plus in a beautiful natural ash finish The Tele Plus had a different electronic setup than a standard Telecaster it had a high output Lace Sensor Blue in the neck position and a split humbucker Lace Sensor Red at the bridge With a second toggle switch near the volume knob the player can choose between seven different pickup combinations In comparison a standard config Tele has three selections and a standard config Strat has five James didn t wind up buying a guitar that day but eventually he chose a cream white Telecaster a couple years later much like the one we d looked at with Fred I came back the next day to buy the Telecaster Plus The original MSRP for the 1993 Telecaster Plus was 1099 but Fred let me take it home in a hardshell case for 800 plus tax Fred was usually pretty easy to bargain with Fender introduced the Telecaster initially called the Broadcaster and its single pickup cousin the Esquire in 1949 when they were among the first commercial solidbody electric guitars The Telecaster quickly became standard equipment in Nashville sessions and was a popular choice among blues and early rock players as well Its sonic versatility allowed the guitarist and the engineers to be more creative and the solid body allowed players to turn up the volume much higher before getting feedback in the studio or onstage Fender followed up with the Stratocaster in 1954 its contoured highly stylized body tremolo bar and additional pickup made it the guitar

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/10/1_Fender_Telecaster_Plus_electric_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Remo 16” key-tuned djembe
    several centuries older than that It is played with the bare hands and offers several different tones a deep resonant bass tone when struck with the flat palm in the center and a high ringing treble tone when slapped near the edge Experienced djembe players or djembefolas have been known to achieve as many as 27 different tones using different hand and finger strikes in different positions on the head It s for this reason that some call the djembe a talking drum I first heard djembe used on Paul Simon s Graceland CD which mixed traditional African sounds with modern rock arrangements Years later after seeing djembe used in open mic and drum circle settings I began to think about its tone and versatility and how it might be used in my own rock and folk arrangements Although I ve wanted to own one for years other instruments have often come ahead of the djembe as I ve picked up different guitars basses and drums This year I finally decided to put the djembe higher on the list My Remo djembe is a composite shell key tuned model with a 16 head slightly larger than a traditional design usually 13 to 15 It included a drum key for tuning and a cloth shoulder strap to enable the player to stand but honestly it seems awkward to play it that way Perhaps a smaller djembe would be better suited for that purpose I purchased it at my local Guitar Center for 275 in March 2012 and purchased a 30 plastic stand to elevate it a few inches and allow the bass tones to resonate more freely when played on the floor I can see using the djembe in conjunction with my cajon allowing me to play seated and to vary

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/4/1_Remo_16_key-tuned_djembe.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Pulse steel piccolo snare
    a higher resonant pitch Some common techniques include using metal for the shell body instead of wood or acrylic and reducing the height of the drum from the standard 5 or 6 inches As I began my search for a piccolo snare I generally found that they tended to run a bit more than a standard snare of the same overall quality usually in the range of a couple hundred dollars I decided to wait a bit and save up my rubles until I had extra money for what was essentially an accessory instrument One morning though as I checked my usual online haunts Musician s Friend was clearing out a low priced Pulse piccolo snare MSRP about 60 for just 29 Even though I know Pulse was a budget and student brand not known for making the highest quality instruments it wasn t as if I d spent top dollar on my First Act kit in the first place Besides 29 was about 1 8 the price I d seen on more respected brands The Pulse snare is 3 5 high with a medium gauge steel shell The bearing edges are smooth and free of any burrs or sharp edges that might damage the heads The resonant pitch of the snare is about a fifth above my Ludwig and I might be able to tune it up about another third above that It uses a standard 14 head so I ll be able to use my perennial favorite Remo Ambassadors and match the response I m used to In the meantime the stock Pulse head isn t so bad The natural sound has a resounding ring to it but a Remo Studio Ring helps keep that under control In most circumstances I probably won t use both snares set

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2013/7/20_Pulse_steel_piccolo_snare.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Kalos UKP-38TN tenor ukulele
    a smaller higher pitched sopranino ukulele and recently a bass ukulele which shares the same tuning as a bass guitar Neither of these is currently very common The soprano concert and tenor ukuleles share the same tuning of gCEA The G string is tuned higher than the C and E in what is called a re entrant tuning Many tenor players myself included instead tune GCEA with the G string a fourth below the C matching the treble strings of a guitar capoed at the fifth fret Unlike the different tunings of a violin viola and cello the three common sizes of ukes differ mainly in projection intonation and tone rather than in pitch Some other players might tune their soprano ukes up a whole step to aDF B Sopranino ukuleles tune a fourth above the rest of the family at dGBE an octave above the treble strings of a guitar The baritone uke tunes to DGBE one octave below the sopranino or matching the treble strings of a guitar The ukulele s tunings and their alternatives make it easy for a guitar player to pick up a uke and begin playing almost immediately The chord shapes and scale patterns are the same just shifted up in pitch Play what looks like a D major chord on a tenor ukulele for example and you ll hear a G major chord This same idea led me to create an alto guitar by adding light gauge strings to a student guitar and tuning it up a fourth to ADGCEA Kalos instruments are made by Cecilio Musical Instruments a US based company that does its manufacturing in Asia Cecilio s orchestral instruments strings woodwinds brass are considered good inexpensive starter instruments for students Kalos instruments tend to be geared toward popular music styles

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2015/2/8_Kalos_UKP-38TN_tenor_ukulele.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Supertone mandolin
    Now I ll be the first to admit this mandolin wasn t much to look at Although the neck was straight and it held tune just fine it had obviously been the victim of some less than expert repairs and upgrades The top is cracked and a look inside shows it was repaired at one point with copious amounts of wood glue When I bought it it still had a cheap piezoelectric pickup held to the underside of the bridge with what I can only guess was poster putty And a hideous piece of gold flake Formica covered the headstock I removed the Formica without much effort it was nearly falling off anyway and pulled out the pickup I ve tried a couple times over the years to rewire the same pickup or a replacement with no real success No problem it still sounds fine as an acoustic mandolin I ve left the output jack and volume control in place all these years so the holes drilled by the previous owner wouldn t wind up splitting out and causing more damage Once I d bought a more reliable acoustic electric mandolin my Fender FM 52E the old mando was relegated to backup status At one point I even gave it to my daughter but her interest in stringed instruments began to fade as she got involved with piano and after a couple years she wound up giving it back That s when I decided to learn as much as I could about this old bird which admittedly isn t much but what I found is fairly fascinating The only information I have about the instrument is the partial label attached inside which only reads We guarantee this Supertone instrument to be No model name or number no serial number no

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/1/13_Supertone_mandolin.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Recording King RD-06-CE
    King was the house brand of musical instruments for Montgomery Ward Like Sears Roebuck s Supertone and Silvertone brands they were originally intended for students and intermediate players After Montgomery Ward discontinued the brand in 1940 Recording King guitars have continued to be sought after in the vintage market particularly among blues players In 2007 the brand was revived under the ownership of The Music Link in Hayward California which also produces guitars under the Johnson nameplate Modern Recording King guitars are aimed at semi professional musicians like myself An impromptu jam over an A minor blues progression right there in the store helped seal the deal for me The neck was comfortable good action and intonation and there really weren t any inconsistencies in the tone as I went up the neck The guy trying out that Fender bass across the room had fun with it too I think he and I both wound up buying instruments that day I generally kept the Recording King at my computer workshop where I d pick it up to work out a chord or a song as the mood struck or as time permitted I took it along on several gigs as a backup instrument or as my friend Bryan Baker always put it my stunt guitar and a few times as my one and only guitar I was really beginning to bond with it That s why I was so devastated when I arrived for a gig at the Hotel Pattee in February 2015 and found a huge crack in the top of my Recording King guitar I got through the gig okay I had no choice I didn t have a spare that night but took it as quickly as I could to my friend Jim Tupper at Ground Zero

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2015/3/15_Recording_King_RD-06-CE_acoustic-electric_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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