We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings on Friday. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years. Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood, but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most. Perhaps even more exceptional than his ability to craft some of the finest instruments in the world, was his ability to teach and inspire. He created a quality-centered culture that will carry on to honor his life’s work and legacy. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed. Our hearts are with his family.
I have two of his guitars: a 2012 Collings D2H #20672, one of the best sounding acoustics I have ever played, and a 2010 Collings CL Deluxe #9408, one of the most beautifully made electric guitars I have ever played.
So sad to see such a master pass away too soon in life.
Lorraine and I were out to Upper Canada Village on Saturday. Perfect summer day. Took my Leica M10 along for the practice and caught some great frames. The shot of the blacksmith above is one of my favourites from the day.
Lots of other characters though. The Asselstine Woolen Mill is powered by water and by steam.
This poor fellow had the joy of tending the flames of the Asselstine Mill’s steam engine during a hot summer day.
The carpenter took great pains to remind us that he worked primarily on fine furniture, not the coarse stuff. Looks like a fairly big axe on his workbench for working on fine furniture.
Then we bumped into the gardener tending the plants at the Crysler Hall. Quite the hat.
The seamstress was getting herself all setup. “Wool,” she told me, “is full of microscopic scales.” I guess that was how she could get her machine going without tying down the wool. Wool just wants to stick to things.
Off to the village printer. Every letter selected by hand and set by hand. A surprising number of font choices and sizes given the manual process of producing a newspaper back then.
Despite all of the wonderful, historic characters at Upper Canada Village, I was thrilled to spend the day with my very favourite person.
So true. Last time I tried out an electric guitar, I had a shredding machine right beside me. And the guy kept going and going and going. It was literally impossible to audition the instrument and I wound up walking out of the shop.
I prefer shops like Cosmo Music or Lauzon Music. They have great audition booths that allow you to take your time and really get a feel for the instrument. Without some monster shredder bending your ear.
I think this was the guy next to me. Or someone like him. They all play and sound the same to me.
I have been using the Kemper Profiler PowerRack live for the past few months. At first, I used it just as an “amp”. One setting, fronted by a large pedalboard with the output of the Kemper PowerRack going into a stage monitor.
I was using a profile from Michael Britt, one from his Profile Pack 2, the Divided by 13 JRT 9/15. Great sounding amp, er, profile. The specific profile I am using most of the time is the /13 JRT 84 5. In other words, the JRT 9/15 using EL84 power tubes with a medium gain. Gives me a very dynamic edge of break-up tone.
I have been looking at a number of other profiles and no doubt I will broaden out my choices as I get more up to speed on the unit.
I made the big plunge last month by ditching my pedalboard and doing everything in the Kemper along with the Kemper Remote pedalboard. And I mean everything: compression, gain-staging, delays, reverbs. All of it. In a digital box. A digital box that eats the souls of amps.
As depressing as it may be for me to admit this, the Kemper really does sound good. I would even say that it sounds great. At times, I don’t even think I am playing through a computer. It sounds that good. And this is from someone who has played tube amps for over 40 years. I am a tone snob with respect to great sounding amps. I have a pretty large collection of boutique and classic amps that I hand selected over the years chasing after tone. I’ve tried numerous modellers over the years and really hated them.
For the past 20 years or so, almost all of my live performances were based on a lower wattage amp mic’d and presented to the audience through a PA. I was always fighting to get the kind of tone I would hear in my studio. So many variables in a live setting. For the more critical dates, I would bring two amps out just in case there were issues with tubes.
And now I bring out the Kemper and I get consistent great sounding tone to the Front of House.
Still takes work. I spend a lot of time on the front end to build out the performances for the profiler. I have some go-to presets that I use as a baseline — various levels of gain, various effects — and I have been building my song list as I go.
The Kemper does an incredible job profiling the sound of a mic’d guitar amp. The trick is to find profiles that have been recorded well and that render well in a studio and live setting. Fortunately the community of Kemper users have done a lot of the leg work to narrow down the best profiles in the market. Some are commercial, some are free.
The result for me is so close to the real thing that I do not miss playing with a real amp. The only area that required an adjustment was the amp in the room sound. What I hear back from my Kemper monitor is the sound of a mic’d guitar amp and not the sound of the amp in the room. That mic’d amp sound is definitely different from the sound of an amp washing about the room.
I would rather hear what the audience is hearing than what I think they might be hearing. The Kemper gives me tremendous choice in profiled amps, consistent sound venue after venue, and great tones.
My current iMac was purchased February 22, 2014. It was a 27-inch iMac with a 3.5GHz quad-core i7, 3TB Fusion Drive and 32GB of memory along with a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M graphics processor. That machine set me back around $4,000 taxes included. And it seemed very expensive to me back then.
To get a new top of the line iMac would cost me about $5,700 taxes included if I were to buy one today. Granted, it comes with a stunning 5K display, a faster processor and a beefed up graphics card. But wow, nearly 6 grand? For a computer?
Fortunately I do not have a need to upgrade. The current iMac is doing great.
Snazzy Labs decided to take a bit of a sting out of getting a top of the line iMac in 2017. Interesting video, especially the disassembly. I did not think that it was possible to upgrade the CPU.
We recently downsized our house in the country to a wonderful condo in an historic building in downtown Kingston. And no, it is not the one pictured above. That house is a couple of doors down from where we are located. That house is currently for sale at $2.9 million. Expensive. Especially for Kingston.
I have been taking my new Leica M10 for a test drive around our neighbourhood. There are numerous heritage homes here. Many built in the late 1800s.
Some are freestanding. Many though are built sharing the outside walls of adjacent houses. Like this one.
When these homes were built, people were clearly much, much shorter in height. This doorway might be all of five feet and five inches in height.
Most of the homes in this area share a common laneway to the rear. Several have a side driveway although, as you can see, the driveway is very narrow.
There is a sense of Europe as I walk through this area. Street signs affixed to the corner of buildings.
Another example of a building squeezed between two freestanding houses. I wonder how they got the approval to build this way?
Laneways lead to garages. And living spaces on top of garages.
Here is another example of a beautiful heritage home with two addresses, 155 and 153. You can see 153 on the right hand side. It has an entrance door and a doorbell along with the signage.
From this angle you can see the impressive front entrance for 155. However, I cannot see any way to enter 153. It is surrounded by a fence and there is no stairway on the outside to get to the door.
There are numerous large residences that have been converted into multiple apartments like this one.
Loving the downtown area. Many points of interest.
In the past decade, electric guitar sales have plummeted, from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars. In April, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center, the largest chain retailer, as it faces $1.6 billion in debt.
I have been culling my guitar collection. Releasing a few instruments that I rarely play these days. As part of that process, I needed to take some pictures of my guitars. And, being a relatively handy person with a camera, I decided to improve my product photography skills as it relates to guitars.
I found this video, even though long and targeted more towards a novice photographer, to be quite helpful in terms of refining my approach.
I used my Nikon D750 DSLR with a 24-70mm F2.8 lens mounted on a tripod. I used a roll of white paper to create a sweep. I had two lamps with 3200K bulbs, each one with a softbox to diffuse the light. I shot at F8 and ISO 100. Manual focus. Hands free shutter release.
I captured some neat images of the guitars.
This was a front shot of the red Strat pictured above:
A few angled shots of a few guitars.
And a couple of amps.