Dishes and Laundry

Gibson Is Going Down

The Gibson Les Paul. An iconic guitar from an iconic brand. I still have my Les Paul from 1976, over four decades now.

Whereas Fender has been able to keep its head above water, Gibson will likely fail over the next few months.

From Moody’s August 2017 rating of Gibson:

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Gibson Brands, Inc.’s (“Gibson”) Corporate Family Rating to Caa3 from Caa2, its Probability of Default Rating to Caa3-PD from Caa2-PD, and senior secured notes to Ca from Caa3. The rating action is due to Moody’s concern with Gibson’s weak operating performance, liquidity pressure from approaching maturities, and the view that the company’s capital structure is unsustainable. The rating outlook is negative.

“We feel that Gibson’s capital structure is unsustainable due to the uncertainty over its ability to refinance debt that comes due in July 2018 and August 2018 given its very high leverage and weak operating performance,” said Kevin Cassidy, Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investors Service.

And this from last week’s Nashville Post:

Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service, says Juszkiewicz essentially has just three options: He and his team could negotiate an exchange of their debt coming due for new notes, which may not be feasible at a reasonable price. He also could be persuaded — or forced — to give up some of his equity in exchange for the debt payments. Or he may end up taking one of the most globally recognized brands that calls Nashville home to bankruptcy court.

“This year is critical and they are running out of time — rapidly,” said Cassidy, who last summer downgraded Gibson’s debt rating. “And if this ends in bankruptcy, he will give up the entire company.”

Whatever Gibson was many years ago, it is not the same company today.

Gawker summed the company up a few years back:

The iconic guitar company Gibson faces seemingly endless troubles, which include an easily enraged micromanaging CEO and a product line perceived as shoddy and overpriced. Based on what we’ve heard lately, it is not a great employer or maker of guitars.

Other than being a financial basket case and making shoddy guitars with a nasty CEO and disengaged employees, everything else is going well at Gibson.

Plek Station

Will machines and AI soon replace the guitar luthier?

My friends at Cosmo Music passed me a note about their new Plek Station. The Plek Station is a CNC machine that can perform precise functions like fret dressing and crowning, nut slotting and shaping, fret slot cutting, nut pocket cutting, saddle and saddle slot cutting, fingerboard engraving as well as many other software enabled functions.

The manufacturer sees the Plek Station as a tool which can augment the skill, experience and craftsmanship of the luthier. You can find out more about the machine here. As far as I can tell, there are only a handful of shops in Canada with a Plek Station, less than 5.

Cosmo Music put out this video on their recent Plek Station acquisition:

Collings I-35 Deluxe

My good friends at Collings Guitars gave me a heads up on their NAMM spotlight. An I-35 Deluxe number 1000.

As we approached our 1000th I-35 model, we knew we had to do something special. Today we’re unveiling this stunning I-35 Deluxe featuring a magnificent quilted maple top and a set of highly figured mahogany for the back, sides and neck. An Iced Tea sunburst beautifully showcases the deep figure of the woods, and is accented by our custom made ivoroid appointments for an instrument worthy of the milestone it represents.

Stunning instrument built to perfection. You can learn more about the guitar here.

Kemper Performance Packs

This is a review that I did on a set of Kemper Performance Packs produced by Guitar For His Glory in collaboration with Tone Junkie. For any guitar players out there using a Kemper rig, the big challenge is finding a great set of profiles and building performances from those profiles. A profile is a snapshot of the sound of a mic’d amp and may include some internal effects processing (e.g., compression, EQ, delay, reverb). A performance is a group of up to five profiles into a song. The profiles may vary between sections of a song, one profile for the intro, a different profile for the verse and so on.

In the Praise and Worship guitar community, many players are migrating to the Kemper platform for silent stage, tonal flexibility and consistency, monitoring and for FOH mixing. Finding a great set of performances built around many of the popular songs in current rotation at churches can be very challenging. Troy has done a great job building his packs and he asked me to do a review so here it is. The review is really pertinent to those guitarists serving in churches however the performance packs would also be very helpful to players using the Kemper for U2 and Coldplay tones.

(I ordered and paid for Packs 1 and 2 and the review is based on my own experience with these packs).

Kemper Performance Packs 1, 2 and 3 from Guitar for His Glory
ProsAwesome sounding performances hand curated from various Tone Junkie profile packs with a total of 30 amazing plug and play songs all featuring shaped reverbs and delays.
ConsIf you have purchased profile packs from Tone Junkie you may be paying again for some of the profiles in these Kemper Performance packs. Depending on your guitar and signal chain, you may need to make some minor EQ changes.

About Guitar for His Glory
As a Praise and Worship guitarist, I spend countless hours tuning and crafting my tone as part of my preparation for the worship services at my church. I use the Internet to track down tutorials on how to cover worship songs and it did not take me long to come across Troy’s YouTube channel, Guitar For His Glory. His channel was launched in 2015 and offers comprehensive walkthroughs of worship songs as well as gear demos.

I am totally impressed with Troy’s character, servant heart and talent. It is obvious that he works exceptionally hard to serve well with his instrument and he puts a particular emphasis on crafting great sounding parts for guitar. More importantly, he shares his knowledge extensively to the Praise and Worship guitar community helping many players, like myself, to sound their very best.

Troy’s touch and tone are first rate. And he achieves this, in part, through his deep knowledge and understanding of the Kemper. So naturally, as soon as Troy offered his performance packs online, I immediately placed my order.

About the Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory
One of the first questions I had for Troy when I purchased my Kemper, roughly a year ago now, was what profiles should I use? I’m sure for many of us, when we purchased our Kempers, the vast quantity of profiles was overwhelming. It takes time to go through profiles and to find those sounds that just fit naturally into a particular song. And then shaping the effects also takes a lot of time.

The Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory feature a selection of profiles from Tone Junkie. Troy has hand selected the very best of these amazing profiles and they come as part of each Guitar for His Glory Kemper Performance Pack. Profiles like Bend Sun Chimer 3, MATCH 30\15 Veri, ACE Rolex HILL GOLD, TJ AC30 GOLD, Ace Sonic Pope BLUE and many others. These performance packs alone may save you countless hours reviewing profiles. But Troy also provides numerous reverb and delay patches for each of the performances. Over the past couple of days, I have learned more about how to exploit the reverb and delay engines in the Kemper solely through Troy’s work. And I was able to use his performances as a base to build performances for other songs not included in his performance packs.

Bottom Line
If you are looking for some killer profiles and performances for many of the most popular worship songs handcrafted by a tone master then go no further than the Kemper Performances from Guitar for His Glory. They are a terrific starting point to save time and to learn how to craft tones. Highly recommended.

Fender Super Champ

Banker’s boxes. We have many. Roughly 50 or so in a storage unit.

Our goal is to reduce the banker’s boxes to zero. Scan those items where we want or need to keep them and ditch the rest.

Then I found the original receipt, warranty card, manuals and schematics for my 1982 Fender Super Champ.

The amplifier cost me $399 before tax in 1982. Today, that amp is worth about $1,400. And my Super Champ is super clean. Aside from having to recap and retube the amp, it looks brand new.

I haven’t used it in a very long time and I may decide to sell it for someone else to enjoy.

Hard to believe that it has been almost 36 years since I bought that amp. It has traveled with me for a long, long time.

I had better keep these items with the amp.

Boss SY-300 Demo

My good friend Trevor has been spending quite a bit of time lately with the Boss SY-300 guitar synthesizer. Trevor has an incredible array of sounds that he can pull from his instruments and he uses most of the same techniques that guitar players use to create new sonic textures and tones. Namely, lots of pedals.

He recently did up a video on the Boss pedal. Although he is renting it right now, I suspect he may add it to his pedalboard. My take is that Trevor needs a much larger pedalboard anyway.

5 Tips To Becoming A Better Musician

RJ Ronquillo published a YouTube video where he shares his perspective on how to become a better musician.

I’ve paraphrased his points a little:

  • Find your inner rhythm, the drummer within.
  • Play with others
  • Take chances and go outside your comfort zone
  • Listen to music, really listen to music
  • Don’t take it all too seriously

Like many things in life, the journey of a musician takes a lot of discipline and effort to master an instrument. Much of it is physical and mechanical. Learning where to place your hands. Learning how to play in time. Learning how to make an instrument sound good. All of which could be described as developing the conscious musician.

There comes a point where the advanced player transcends the conscious musician. The physical and mechanical attributes of playing an instrument fall into the shadows. The musician discovers a musical voice. And that musician can speak with their instrument without conscious thought. There is no active consideration of where the hands need to be placed. There is no active consideration of how to create music through the instrument.

For want of a better term, the music flows through the artist. And you can see it when that happens.

All too often I see players fixated on reading charts. Unable to be free of the mechanics of what to play when, they invariably play poorly. Almost stilted. As if the chart itself is somehow making them play the correct notes.

For myself, I try to move from conscious to unconscious play whenever possible. And that usually means freedom from a chart. In addition to RJ’s tips, I have found that learning arrangements, committing them to memory, and playing them without worrying about where the tune is going, provides so much opportunity to play with freedom. And playing with freedom generally means playing better.

Here is RJ’s 5 tips to becoming a better musician.