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16 May, 2013
If you haven’t noticed already, there are a number of new videos uploaded on the A Strings website and Youtube channel. In this ‘how to’ video, I clean the fretboard of a Burn Brian May Red Special using the Jim Dunlop 6502 Fingerboard Kit. The before/after shots shows exactly how effective this product is. If you have any questions, post them here and i’ll do my best to answer them!
5 February, 2013
Peterson’s successor to the StroboFlip and V-SAM is finally here! The new StroboPlus HD boasts the largest illuminated display ever incorporated on a Peterson tuner, combined with an ultra-high resolution makes it extremely easy to read.
You won’t be surprised to find that it is jam packed with over 90 exclusive Sweetened Tunings, ensuring that your specific instrument is tuned to the accuracy that is only guaranteed with a Peterson Tuner.
As with both the StroboFlip and V-SAM before it, the StroboPlus HD is a desktop tuner with an in-built mic for your convenience, or you can use the clip-on mic for greater accuracy which picks up less background noise. It is the ideal tuner for guitar techs, luthiers and workshops.
Like the V-SAM, the StroboPlus HD has an in-built metronome. But via a simple firmware update, the StroboPlus HD can be upgraded to incorporate the revolutionary Peterson BodyBeat Sync. Exactly the same metronome engine can be downloaded onto the StroboPlus HD and by purchasing the Vibe-Clip, you can feel the beat as well as hear it, just like with the BodyBeat Sync.
This is quite easily Peterson’s most versatile and cost effective tuner to date.
5 August, 2012
5. Nut lubrication
Always aim to get 3 winds of string down a machine head post. Any less will cause the string to slip, and too many windings will lead to unreliable tuning.
Many thanks to
‘Deptford’ John Armitage, owner of the Guitar Hospital chain of workshops
2 August, 2012
The 2012 Red Special Meet up will be taking place at Hugglescote Village Hall, Hugglescote, Leicester on saturday 18th August from 10am – 6pm.
To view almost every type of Red Special there is, including many home builds, amps and just generally geek out, come and join us. Entry is about a fiver.
See you there!
22 May, 2012
We want you to video yourself playing God Save the Queen in any style you like – be it flamenco or thrash metal – and send it to us.
1st Prize – A BMG Mini May Electric Guitar signed by Brian May
2nd Prize – A special Andrew Guyton photographic print of his Red Special Replica
All entries will receive a free A Strings Guitar Strap with their next order.
What to do:
1. Record yourself playing God Save the Queen in any style you like.
2. State your name (or Youtube username) and that this video is for the “AStrings.co.uk Diamond Jubilee Competition”
3. Upload your video to Youtube and email firstname.lastname@example.org with the link. You can also upload videos to Facebook, but remember to post them on the A Strings Facebook page or email me if you’re having difficulty.
4. You can enter as many times as you like, but only 1 prize per person!
5. By entering and contacting A Strings with your entry, you are giving us permission to publish your entry on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, the A Strings website and the Backstage Blog.
6. Closing date is Saturday June 9th 2012. The Winners will be notified on Friday June 15th 2012.
7. Entries will be judged by Brian May’s guitar tech Pete Malandrone and myself.
First person to enter will also receive a bonus gift of free set of strings!
Get playing, get recording and God Save the Queen!
1 April, 2012
I’ve already sent out quite a lot of the Cobalt strings and the feedback has been incredible. People really do seem to be noticing a marked difference with regards to both feel and sound.
My favourite comment so far has come from a very good customer of mine called Paul, who felt the need to write in with the following comment…
The strings arrived today, thanks.
You should try them out, they are fantastic. I put the 9s on one of my custom shop Strats and compared them against my other which is set up with normal Ernie Ball slinkys; the difference is phenomenal.
The Cobalts sing like a veritable blackbird at dawn. The others (fitted just over a week ago) are positively dull in comparison, more like a pigeon at dusk…”
Says it all don’t you think? He has already put his second order of Cobalts in!
The Ernie Ball Everlast Acoustic Strings are a bit of a mystery to me at the moment.
The first thing I think we’ll all notice about them is their price, but they are meant to last a LOT longer than anything else out on the market, and this includes other coated strings. Whether or not this is the case, we won’t know until a few months time when they’ve been tried and tested. Their sound is meant to be a very audible step up in the same fashion as the Cobalts so if string tone is a higher priority for you than string life, that’s as good a motivation as any to try these out. I’m going to throw some on to my Taylor 314ce later in the week. I’ll keep you posted on my findings…
And of course, the perfect partner to such special strings – the Ernie Ball Everlast Picks.
Available in 2 gauges (.73mm + .88mm) and corresponding fluorescent colours (Pink and Yellow respectively), the tough Delrin material is meant to make them last longer. They come in packs of 12.
Ahhh, I’m beginning why they’re calling them Everlast. Clever.
Everything is in stock and ready to ship to you NOW!
Feel free to call if you have any questions, or if you have any experience with any of these products, let me know so we can learn more, good or bad!
15 March, 2012
This is a Hofner 4572.
Back in the mid-late 60s, my grandfather was a foreman for a building company. He bought this guitar off a workmate who was struggling to pay some debts. He gave it to my Dad and the guitar was forgotten about for 20 or so years (Dad managed to work out ‘Smoke on the Water’ on the bottom E string, then retired from the music biz).
When I started playing guitar around 1992, I quizzed my grandfather further about the guitar and he said that the guy he bought it off was a member of Tom Jones’ original backing band and that the guitar was bought in Germany on tour.
Around 5 years ago, the guitar was restored by a Hofner enthusiast and he confirmed that it probably was bought in Germany due to the treble clef design on the headstock. Also this is 1 of only 2 of this model guitar he had ever seen (the other one being a cherry burst finish) making this the only guitar of it’s kind (unless anyone can prove otherwise?).
During the restoration, the neck was straightened, an authentic bridge was installed to replace the cardboard that had supported the existing makeshift bridge, the pickups were re-wound and the pots were changed.
It has always amazed me how low the action is one the guitar. It is an extremely light guitar and the completely hollow body really has a strong impact on the sound. Used with an AC30 it sounds like so many guitar sounds from that period (think Kinks, Beatles, etc).
Do you have a Guitar with a story/history? If so, get in touch and i’ll publish your story and you’ll get a nice A Strings guitar strap with your next order!
8 March, 2012
I know I sell ‘em, but it always seemed to me that Pedalboards are a bit of a rip-off. I mean, a piece of ply, gaffa tape and you’re done right?
I’ve never been a heavy FX user. I’ve only ever really used a Peterson floor tuner and a Treble Booster (sometimes 2 x boosters – 1 always on and the other as a boost for solos) so a pedalboard has never been on my list of priorities. After a 2 1/2 year break, we’re getting back together with a new drummer and I thought it maybe time for a bit of a change. I’ve accumulated quite a lot of gear over the years but the majority of it gathers dust which is sacrilege, so when dusting off my gear before our first rehearsal I decided i’d get a bit more extravagant.
My first decision was to add a few more effects. We’ve decided to try and get a bit more experimental this time around so I had a look at what may be interesting choices. I decided to go with the following effects -
Boss CE-1 Chorus
Shere SoundWhirligig – Tremolo/Vibrato/Phaser
and an Eventide Timefactor Delay
It’s all very well wanting these effects, but using them together may sound horrible so I began testing it all out in different configurations.
The very first thing I realised was that it sounded BAD using just the one Amp. When the Chorus and Delay were bypassed, the sound wasn’t too bad, but as soon as you kicked either one (or worse, both) in, the whole sound got mushy in a nasty way. So I added another AC30 (which is was kind of half planning on doing anyway). Having gigged for 8 years using an AC30, it dawned on me fairly early on that as soon as I could afford it, i’d buy a spare. AC30s are great amps, but they’ll always fail when you need them most which is why I bought a second AC30 TBX when a good offer came up on one and also a 70s Arbiter made AC30 a couple of years ago.
With the inclusion of another amp, I tried using the stereo output from the Eventide, but I found the chorus modulated in an unpleasant way when repeated, making it difficult to distinguish what is actually going on playing wise so I brought in the 2 way splitter given to me by Greg Fryer some years back.
My chain was
Peterson -> TB -> Vox Wah -> Whirligig -> Fryer Splitter
Output 1-> AC30 (1)
Output 2-> CE-1 -> Eventide Delay -> AC30 (2)
This was a lot better, especially if the Delay pedal was muted in real time, only to play repeats when in use. The only thing I found was that there was a noticeable gain/signal loss from the TB to amp 2. I think this is primarily because of the CE-1. I’ve noticed in the many times i’ve used it that there’s a drop in signal when it’s in line.
I employed the work of this little unit…
It only needed a slight turn of the dial, but it did exactly what I needed it to do – boost the signal without colouring the tone. To power it all, I used the Diago Micropower 9 (look out for it on the website over the next few days) with a daisy chain adapter (9v battery adapters for the TB, Splitter and Wah.
The next step was to buy some wood. I bought a sheet of MDF from B+Q (around 60cm x 100cm) for just under £10.00 and started mapping my pedalboard.
The mapping of the board was difficult. The patch cables I used were either 6″ or 12″ and so I had to be strategic in what went where. It took around 5 attempts before settling on the final positions. Once the positions worked, holes were drilled for the pedals to be attached. Personally, I haven’t had great experiences with velcro but I know 50 people who have no problems at all with it! Not only this, Velcro is a much better way of fixing pedals to the board as it means you can swap them around easily enough.
But I like to be awkward.
After everything was marked out and the holes were drilled, we (I had some help from my Dad) concentrated on the bottom of the Pedalboard. It made sense to me for it to have an inside to conceal the power supply and so that we could route the patch cables from pedal to pedal underneath – making the top of the board cable/mess free. Plus the way the pedals were arranged, patch cables would have been going over/under pedals in their way. That together with 6 daisy chains – eugh.
I also wanted the board to be on an angle allowing easy access to the top row of pedal switches. We worked out an angle, realised we messed up, re-did it, and then cut a rectangle out of the centre of the board. This allows easy access to the power supply and multiplug that’s situated inside. A piece of MDF slightly larger than the hole will cover it using velcro to protect the inside.
With this made, we attached all of the pedals to the top of the board and tried wiring/plugging them up as they would be. It became apparent that some connections were a very tight fit, so we marked out channels for the patch cables, providing them with a bit more breathing space and also keeping the top of the board nice and neat. Also, holes needed to be made for the daisy chain connectors to have access to the pedals in various locations.
Now came the fun bit. We covered the top of pedalboard with black Gaffa Tape; easier and quicker than painting it! As we went along strip by strip, we punched holes and cut out channels so we knew exactly where the pedals needed to be attached.
I say this was fun to do – at this point it was about 1am in the morning and snowing a blizzard outside. I contemplated leaving so I could get home safely, but we’d gotten this far…
Next we attached the pedals to the board by screwing their original screws from the underneath of the board into their holes, plugged the cables and daisy chains in. On the base we attached a 4 way multiplug for the Diago power unit, Boss CE-1 and the Eventide Delay. Screwed the top onto the base and hey presto! it was finished.
Except it needed a name. Something cool, something catchy, something that sounded less funny each time you say it.
May I proudly present to you my pedalboard – The Schmorganboard
In total I reckon it took around 10 hours to build. If you have even a basic grasp of DIY, you should be able to do it in half that time. I put our difficulties down to the peculiar shape and size of the pedals.
The main thing is that it works, sounds great and has cut my setting up time by around 10 minutes in rehearsals.
So to conclude, I’m happy that I attempted to build this, but at many points throughout the project both my dad and myself muttered “why not buy a sodding pedalboard?”. Still, I saved myself £100 which I put toward the Lehle Sunday Driver and I have a setup that currently meets my needs. Fingers crossed it stays together…
21 February, 2012
I’m extremely proud and excited to introduce a different type of Newsletter for you this week.
‘Deptford’ John Armitage is widely regarded as one of the most experienced, knowledgable and respected Guitar Techs in the industry. He has been responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of instruments for artists such as Iron Maiden, Manic Street Preachers, Motorhead, Stereophonics, Whitesnake, Scorpions and more recently Take That and George Michael in a career spanning over 30 years.
Deptford John has kindly offered to share his invaluable expertise exclusively to A Strings in a series of ‘Tech Tips’ over the forthcoming months. These will be published via the A Strings Newsletter and archived in the Backstage Blog on the website.
To find out more about Deptford John or to enlist his services via his Guitar Hospital workshops, visit his website – http://guitarhospital.co.uk/
Basic Guitar Maintenance
1. Always wipe your guitar strings down when you have finished playing, using a soft, lint free cloth to do the job properly. Slide a cloth under the strings too as sweat and dirt gathers on the underside of the strings also.
Wipe down the back of the neck and body where your forearm rubs on the guitar as sweat and dead skin cells that stick to these areas slow your movement up and down the neck as well as causing your forearm to ‘rub’ on the body creating friction on a soft part of your skin. Planet Waves make great cleaning cloths.
2. When changing your strings it’s important to clean off the general detrieus from the fretboard. This will keep the frets brighter and create a cleaner note as well as preventing the fretboard from drying out. Gorgomyte is a fantastic product for this job.
3. Buy a 1” soft bristle paint brush and use it to clean the dust that accumulates on the bridge, the area under the strings and around the pickups and headstock. This light dusting will keep your bridge dust and rust free.
4. Always check your strap hooks are tightly screwed into the body of the guitar. On solid body electrics if the hole gets too big, jam a couple of cocktail sticks covered in wood glue into the hole. The wood is exceedingly hard and will not disintegrate as easily. Screw the strap button into here again and it will be as good as new.