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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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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.

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My Favorite Heavy Albums

There are many cool songs and good albums out there, but not so many of them that I enjoy listing as a whole. Usually, there’s one or two songs that are great, few mediocre and few that I never listen. However, there are some albums that I love listening as a whole. So here it goes, sorted chronologically.

Deep Purple – Machine Head (1972)

Machine Head is one of those albums that you listen to thinking “man, this song is awesome and unique, there’s no freaking way the next song would be anywhere as awesome and unique as this one”. And yet somehow every song on this album is like that! The whole album is so good that it’s hard to pick a favorite song, but if I had to pick, it would probably be “Lazy”. Ritchie’s blues infused shredding is nothing short of amazing.

Machine Head

Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien (1987)

This is the one that launched Satriani into the stratosphere and cemented his reputation as an alien guitar virtuoso. Almost 40 minutes of pure instrumental guitar awesomeness. From softer clean tones of “Midnight” to searing riffs of “Crushing Day” and liquid melodic solos of pretty much every song, this album has it all.

Surfing With The Alien

I was lucky enough to be in New York back in 2007 when he was celebrating two decades since the album was released. He organized concerts in NYC and (I think) San Francisco and Chicago in small venues with the idea to play the whole album for small audience. To make the whole experience even better, I bumped into Satch while he was getting out of the back entrance to grab a cup of coffee before the concert and got a chance to shake his hand 🙂

Dream Theater – Metropolis pt2: Scenes From A Memory (1999)

This is the first concept album I’ve ever heard. Another thing that make it cool is that end of each song is the beginning of the next song, so it’s kind of a 77 minute long piece. And it’s got enough musical variety for an average band to make a dozen albums. My favorite song would have to be Home, which is also the first song I heard from this album.

Metropolis pt2: Scenes From a Memory
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Satchurated (3D) Review

Going back 10 or more years when I was just starting to play the guitar, Satriani’s “Live in San Francisco” was the first instrumental/shred concert I ever saw. Turned out it was also the best for years to come. Performance was spotless, which is always the case with Satriani’s concerts, but so was everything else. The following live DVDs couldn’t come close to it for one reason or the other. Don’t get me wrong, performance has never been an issue, but sometimes I didn’t like the sound, other times I didn’t like the picture (people who made those horrible, horrible visual effects on “Live in Paris” should be shot!). I was excited to see the “Satchurated 3D” in the theater, but also a bit worried that it could end up being even worse to watch. Imagine those visual effect combined with 3D – could really ruin any performance. Luckily, they did not…not event close.

Enter Satchurated

As far as visual aspect goes, it’s perfect. Very tastefully done, without any effects that can take your focus away from the music. The stage is a bit dark, which makes the band stand out. There’s a decent dose of closeup shots and that they are used when important – on solos and sections that Satch fans really care about. I always hated concerts when they focus a drummer or bass player during a guitar solo. Not this one.

Guitar tone was something I didn’t like ever since the San Francisco concert. To my ears it was often dry sounding, bright and lifeless. A huge step forward is made here – very organic sounding, satchurated crunch, beautiful cleans and singing leads. Looks like switching back to Marshall was a great choice for Satch. Performance was spotless, as always. Set list contains a blend of great old songs we all love with a few newer songs. Maybe too many songs from the last album for my taste, but they make a good balance between heavy rocking songs and ballads.

Finally, 3D is added just to spice things up. Not too much to be a distraction, but enough to be cool.

This concert could well replace “Live in San Francisco” on my “favorite instrumental concert” spot. Even my girlfriend who’s not into that kind of music enjoyed the show. For those of you that have a chance to see it the 3D version in the theater – go do it. Everyone else, grab a DVD/Blue-ray release and enjoy!

  • 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.