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New portable amp day!

Blackstar FLY3 amps are so nice looking and great sounding (for the size and the price) amps, that I couldn’t resist buying one. It’s battery operated, small and very useful for travel or just simple playing on the sofa without having to plug into a full-sized rig or laptop. I will post a full review, but some initial thoughts are – nice cleans, overdriven tones range from light crunch to pretty high gain, delay is warm sounding and can be used as reverb to add space to the sound or as a regular delay. Line-in can be used to connect to a phone and play over backing tracks or can be used to play music or monitor when I play through the laptop. So far, happy with the purchase!

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Squier Strat Refinish Project Done!

Just finished assembling my refinished 2001 Squier Strat. Click here to read the full article.

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Ian Gillan Sings Deep Purple – Live in Skopje

Just wanted to share a couple of shots from a recent Ian Gillan concert. “Papa Le Gรกl” opened the night with Grace Gillan (Ian’s daughter) behind the mic and brought some cool funky, hippy vibes. Gillan, supported by Don Airey’s band and Skopje Symphonic Orchestra, performed some of the classic Deep Purple, few less expected ones and a few from his solo records. It was great to hear songs that I was very used to hearing, but arranged slightly differently and played with the orchestra. My favorite one would have to be Anya, but I also really enjoyed how they combined the epic Perfect Strangers riff with the orchestra.

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Improving Strat Tremolo Arm Response

Strat tremolo arms are imperfect by design. The screw-in arm always has some play, making the response of the tremolo feel a bit odd and unpredictable. It’s not very easy to do the nice mild vibrato because there’s a couple of millimeters of the arm movement that don’t do anything and don’t put any resistance and then you get to the point where the springs start resisting and the pitch changes. But that sudden change between no resistance (and no change in pitch) and a lot of resistance always felt awkward to me. So I came up with a simple trick that noticeably improves the response of the Strat tremolo by improving the contact between the tremolo arm and the base. Read More…

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Winery Dogs – Z7, Pratteln

When the “Double Down” world tour was announced, the Switzerland show in Pratteln show sounded like the best bet to get from Serbia painlessly, so I got the tickets and booked a flight months in advance. Got there an hour early to secure a spot close to the stage. Z7 Konzertfabrik venue is very cool, industrial looking place with a huge bar (and a db meter ๐Ÿ™‚ ). British band Inglorious did a great job warming the up the crowd, performing a few of their own hard-rock songs and one Rainbow and one Deep Purple cover (awesome!). Being on three shows on the first tour and hearing the new album (like a million times), I expected a lot from the dogs. And they delivered, oh, they delivered. They performed the best songs from both albums, opening with Oblivion and closing the set with Elevate. Richie’s guitar tone was spotless, just as good as on the record, if not better. It’s so inspiring to see a band on top of their game. Each of them kicked ass on their own, but the sum of the three is what makes The Winery Dogs a quintessential rock band of the 21st century.

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New Mini LP build

Just finished wiring this beauty. It’s stunning to look at and plays great. Read more here

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New (Old) Guitar Pics

I started building a simple setup for home photography and took some test photos of my main guitar, hope you like them. For more info on the guitar click here.

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Martin Factory Tour

Last week I had an opportunity to drive to Nazareth, Pennsylvania and visit Martin Guitar factory – Mecca for any acoustic guitar enthusiast. I didn’t know what to expect, but everything is very well organized, starting from the reception. They signed is up for the next available tour and let us roam through the museum, factory store and guitar rooms. There are two locations where you can play guitars – in the lobby where they have a couple of cheaper guitars, and more importantly, behind the store there’s a hidden room with higher end guitars where you can play by yourself. I tried a couple of models I didn’t get to try before, like Clapton Sig, D-28 Authentic, D-28, HD-35, GPCPA4 and few more. The one I liked the best was definitely the Clapton. What a great sounding and looking guitar!

Back to the tour. Everyone is given a headset and guide takes the group through the factory, showing some of the most important stages in guitar construction and discussing history and process. Tour moves right next to desks of workers who do their job which is great because it gives nice insight into production, but also is a bit awkward because these people are doing their job with us watching and taking pics like in the Zoo, so I didn’t take as many pics of workers as I should have. At the end, they gave us laser engraved sound hole cutouts that would normally go to scrap. It’s a nice gesture and nice souvenir. Piece of wood that made it to be one of the greatest guitars in the world!

There’s also a paid private tour once a day at 9AM that takes you to the mill and other places not covered by the free tour. I wish I knew about it earlier :(. Factory store offers nice gifts, books, shirts and similar items. Museum has a bunch of guitars, starting from early CF Martin guitars to newer guitars, like the one millionth Martin. Very nice to see. There’s also a separate store where you can buy kits and scrap wood for projects, but I didn’t get to visit it because I lack self control :).

If you’re able to, take the drive and visit the factory. You won’t be disappointed.

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Winery Dogs – Live in Buffalo

Reporting back from the awesome, awesome show at The Tralf music hall, Buffalo NY. I was fortunate to see the dogs three times this year and I liked this show the best. They sounded best (the venue seems to help), the audience was great and at the end the show was remarkable. Buffalo is Billy Sheehan’s home town, so he seemed super motivated to give he’s best and the rest of the band followed.

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Zepparella – Live in Brooklyn

What a great gig. These girls rocked not only for girls, they rocked, period! Enjoy photos from St Vitus Bar, Brooklyn. Enjoy.

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CF Martin Guitars Built by the Man Himself

Wanted to share a couple of photos I took at the awesome Metropolitan Museum exhibition of early CF Martin models from the 19th century, most of which built by CF Martin himself. It’s amazing to witness a huge piece of history that lead to acoustic guitars as we know them now. For each of them you can read when it was built, which materials and techniques were used, what kind of bracing, and in some cases even who they were built for. As you go from 1830s forward, you can clearly see how Martin’s style matured and evolved from both Austrian and Spanish styles.

Some of the materials used are so unusual and some even illegal now. There’s a guitar which neck is almost completely made out of ivory. The other features a neck that’s carved out of ebony-ivory chessboard that is so out of this world. In lots of cases the bridges were also made out of ivory.

As far I could see, only one guitar was dated from the 20th century – a 1939 pre-war 000-18 that Clapton played on Layla unplugged. Awesome piece of (relatively) modern history. All of the guitars are pretty small for today’s standards, the biggest being about the size of smaller parlor guitar. The 000-18 looks like a giant next to them.

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New Acoustic Guitar Day – Cort AS E4

Look what Santa brought to me this year ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a Cort AS E4 dreadnought guitar, my very first acoustic. It’s all-solid construction with spurce top, mahogany back and sides and mahogany neck. It seems very well built. Attention to detail is high, 8-piece binding around the body, maple binding on the neck. Most importantly, it sounds very clear and balanced. All I need to do is learn to play it ๐Ÿ™‚ More detailed review will come, stay tuned…

IMG_9061-TWINKLE
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New Custom Guitar

Wanted to share a couple of pics of the new build my father did for a customer. It’s a Strat/Charvel inspired guitar that features:

  • Chambered mahogany body with maple cap
  • 5 piece flame maple neck with ebony fingerboard, thin C/U profile.
  • Seymour Duncan JB and Quarter Pound Flat
  • Schaller roller bridge, fully adjustable
  • Single volume control
  • Grover tuners
Pictorial

Click on an image to see more details.

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New stereo day!

After years of investing time and money into guitar-related gear I realized that although I had more gear than Jimi Hendrix, I was still listening to music through crappy TV or (even worse) laptop speakers. So I did a little research and bought a stereo system consisting of Monitor Audio BX5 floorstander speakers and Yamaha RX-V375 receiver.

ma_bx5_walnut

It’s been 2-3 weeks since buying them and first impressions are settled. I love the new system! Speakers are just awesome. Great build quality, attention to detail, and of course sound. Has plenty of bass, so ground will shake when watching the movie. But it’s still not overbearing, so vocals and instruments are crystal clear. And they look fantastic, even better without the grills installed.

yamaha375

As far as the receiver goes, it’s good enough for what I need. Didn’t compare it with more expensive models, but I can’t find any flaws in the sound. More expensive models up to twice the price of the V375 only offer more features (LAN, 3D, more channels) that I don’t need, so paying more for them didn’t make sense. I hooked it up with Samsung smart TV, which I use as a hub for all multimedia sources and one HDMI cable takes the audio and remote signals to Yamaha and picture back to the TV. Very elegant.

  • About

    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.