and ) : C

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Music Thing appears in various nice lists

Thanks to PC World for putting up with the infrequent posting and inept spelling by putting Music Thing in their list of '100 Blogs We Love' (alongside CDM). In other list-based news, I was pleased to appear at number 15 in this list of The Most Popular Blogs on Blogger, and delighted to end up at number 7 on Stuart's list of Most Read British Blogs...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tony Blair and his guitars

The Times reports on all the guitars that have been given to Tony Blair during his time in office. The list of ministerial gifts (worth £140+) shows that Tony has received - and rejected - many guitars (official gifts are kept by the Prime Minister's Office, unless he chooses to buy them himself). He's been given guitars by Fender Musical Instruments, Bryan Adams, Bono, and the Governments of Romania and Mexico. More interestingly...

The '57 Eric Clapton Strat: In 2000, Tony was given a 1957 Strat. It was originally purchased by Eric Clapton, played by Pete Townshend on Quadrophenia and then bought at a charity auction by David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Mick Jagger. Tony returned the gift, and it eventually sold at another charity auction for £75k.

Arnie's Guitar: Last week, Arnie gave Tony "a solid body electric single cutaway guitar made by a disabled California native, Gary Garcia. The custom-made strap on the guitar is a four inch black belt leather with “California” in gold lettering and a hand sewn leather California state flag."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

eBay of the day: Dallas Rangemaster: The £1,000 boost box

eBay item 220124162039 is a 1960s Dallas Rangemaster. It's currently on 'buy it now' for £995, which makes that TB-303 last week seem reasonable. A Rangemaster has about 9 components (you can find out how to build one here) and this one doesn't have the original pot. £995 does seem an awful lot. As culty vintage effects go, you could have bought this utterly awesome stand-mounted Echoplex for a mere $1,195...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Josh gets a Propellerheads Reason logo tattooed on his wrist

Josh writes to let me know about his new tattoo. He's had a Reason logo put on his left wrist, and captured the event on YouTube. The whole thing could be a publicity stunt around the impending release of Reason 4 (Peter has the story, love that the new modular synth is called Thor), but the video is pretty convincing. You've got to wonder about a software tattoo. What if you'd got the original Cubase logo tattooed in 1989? Or if you were way ahead of the game and into Reality - the first ever soft synth, designed by Dave Smith. Imagine if you were a dedicated Windows user of Emagic Logic in ealy 2002, shortly before Apple bought the company. The shame! Anyway, I've covered Synth tattoos in the past, but never managed to find one that was super super cool. Seen any?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

LCD Soundsystem really really like MicroKorgs

While watching LCD Soundsystem (on TV) supporting Daft Punk in Hyde Park at the weekend, I was totally distracted by Nancy Whang's mighty table of keyboards. She plays two MicroKorgs (and the bass player has another), a Casio MT-400V, and an MPC1000 (what do you think, could the blue be starting to look cool?) The other boxes just seem to be DIs and a A/B switch. She also has a Moog Rogue around the corner. Splendidly, the drummer had an old Simmons pad in his kit. More on LCD Soundsystem live here and here.

Freddie Mercury's piano for sale on Gumtree - £8k

An ugly, cheap-looking piano is for sale on Gumtree (the UK equivalent of Craigslist) for £8,000. It comes with a letter from Freddy Mercury's mum, saying he used to play it. (Thanks, Felix)

Practice in front of a bush: Captain Beefheart's rules for guitarists

One of the best things ever...

Captain Beefheart's Ten Commandments For Guitarists

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. IF YOU'RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU'RE OUT If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That's your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song "I Need A Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he's doing it.

8. DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

(Via the inestimably great Analog Industries)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Calder: The most expensive guitar case ever made?

Remember Nick Calder? He's the guy who was designing a new kind of guitar case, and blogging along the way. He's now gone into production, and his design has radically changed - from a kind of high-tech space rifle thing to a very elegant and phenomenally expensive case. It's made from carbon fibre covered in fine leather, and lined with hand-painted silk velver. It costs £3,525 inc vat. It's a shame the cabinet are so cheap - I'm sure Tony Blair would really love one of these as a leaving present. Nick is also producing violin cases (if you've got a £3m Stradivarius, this case is a bargain) and a £2020 laptop case. Calder Originals.

A Roland 303 for $2,275: The world has, finally, gone mad

eBay item #330132190816 was a very clean-looking TB-303. It sold for $2,275, which seems absurd (in the UK, they normally go for £7-900, which isn't much less absurd). I'm only really surprised because I thought all the cool kids were using laptops. It's 21 years since Phuture's 'Acid Trax' came out. Acid House is as old now as 'Blonde on Blonde' was when 'Acid Trax' was made.
UPDATE: Item #180131513603 is another one at $3,150. Although it has 'scam' written all over it. Just two bidders, a seller with a feedback rating of just 75% and a shonky-sounding description. (thanks Darren)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

WABOT-2, the organ playing Johnny Five lookalike

So, I spotted this image on the mighty LOLBOTS, and thought - holy crap, it's Johnny Five playing a Yamaha GX-1. But it isn't. It's WABOT-2, a Japanese robot from 1985. It weighed 90kg, and was connected, via 13 fibreoptic cables, to a computer room 20 metres away. It could read a score, take requests from the audience and play along with a singer, listening to their voice and playing in tune. There's a good introduction here, and pictures here, here and here. The organ itself isn't a GX-1, but a rather less hip FX-1, which used FM synthesis rather than miles and miles of wire and analog circuits - which Matrix has written about at length - lots of nice pictures here.

Nathan Barley vs the Pacemaker Portable DJ system

Exhibit a: This clip at 0:48

Exhibit b: Pacemaker portable DJ system (via)

Is there really a ukulele shortage in Britain?

There's a nice piece in The Times today claiming that Britain is facing a shortage of ukuleles, with most supplies sold out until a ship arrives from China in June. They're blaming the craze on the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, although I suspect enthusiastic MT coverage is to blame. Of course, the story of a shortage is nonsense - eBay has blenty of ukes, from the classic £18.99 Pink Flying V - #270132175720 to a rather elegant Martin at £275 - #120129269037. (Picture shows Rev. Ken of the romantic-sounding

Thursday, June 7, 2007

CBGB's sound desk for sale on Craigslist, just $80

Evan writes to let me know about this ad on Craigslist Austin: "SOUNDCRAFT 1s Mixer from CBGB's: I bought this from a friend of mine who worked at CBGB's for 9 years. After the club closed on Halloween last year, all the extra gear from the basement, the abandoned studio and the lounge were placed into storage... The guy at Soundcraft says that some channels dont work, but that the power is hard wired on... Needs work... Some missing knobs dusty etc." Seems the guy has been selling a few of these over the last few weeks, so it's not 'The CBGB's desk', but still...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bonkers Nick Rhodes pixellated Strat sells for £3,200

eBay item 150125503090 was a custom-made Stratocaster covered in LEDs, designed by Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran. It was build by Sims Custom Shop, who are based in Kent and are your source for all kinds of LED/Guitar craziness (including making a laser slide for John Paul Jones). Nich Rhodes' guitar, complete with the software and the laptop to make it work, sold for £3,200.

Wonderful Roger Linn documentary on Radio 4

Click here to listen (see below) to a wonderful Radio 4 documentary on Roger Linn, presented by (of all people) Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet. It opens with him playing his mandolin at Caffe Trieste in Berkley, and goes on to a string of great interviews: Brian Eno, Jerry Harrison, Martyn Ware, Pete Rock, Mark Ronson, Dave 'Sequential Circuits' Smith, talking about the connection between drugs, hippies and techonolgy in '70s California + his development of the MPC60 for Akai. If the BBC link has died, you can download the show here. If you work for the BBC and want to complain about the download, email me at the usual address. (Thanks to Jon and Alexis for sending this in)