10 reasons to love being a guitarist

Original story caught my eye from musicradar.com

WORLD GUITAR DAY 2017: The world is full of awfulness. You know the sort of thing – war, economic hardship, The X Factor. Basically, a whole tsunami of bad stuff beamed directly into your face by whichever glowing rectangle you’ve decided to stare at today.

With all that going on, it can be hard to stay positive – and yet there’s hope. For no matter how bad things get, guitarists are blessed. For the guitar is the single greatest musical instrument ever conceived, and we get to play it.

No matter how bad the conflict, how crippling the depression, how overwhelmingly awful the new Bieber single, we shall persevere. Because it is awesome being a guitarist. Here’s why…

1. Stress-busting

Your commute was awful, you spilled coffee on your crotch, and your boss was a classically trained bastard for nine straight hours. When you’ve had a day like that, there is no better medicine than plugging in a guitar, turning it up, and making a huge amount of noise.

Playing guitar is, in our experience, the most effective method of staying sane in a world that can appear to be actively trolling you. Like extremely loud yoga, playing the guitar clears your mind and gives you an enormous sense of peace. So, hooray for that.

2. The feeling of achievement

How do you feel when you’ve finally conquered a particularly tricky solo, or written a great song, or had a great jam? Like a great big sexy genius, that’s how.

We can all remember the first time we nailed the intro of Sweet Child O’ Mine, or Layla, or whatever your classic rock song of choice was when you were but a wee slip of a beginner. Many among our parish have spent the rest of our lives chasing that same feeling. Why? Because it makes you feel good about yourself and it’s a whole lot of fun, that’s why.

3. It makes you smarter

It turns out that learning things makes you smarter. Who knew? All those hours spent playing along to records or correcting rubbish internet tabs has actually made your brain… better.

Learning the guitar can actively improve cognition, aid hand-eye coordination – hell, it can even add points to your IQ.

Being a guitarist means that you are always learning, constantly teaching your brain to do new, intricate things, consistently pushing yourself. It’s almost as if playing the guitar makes you somehow superior to other people…

4. You get to be in bands

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: getting in a room and making a racket with friends is one of the best things you can do as a member of the human race.

Getting a band together, writing some songs, playing a few gigs – whether you have success or not, these are things that every guitarist should experience, if only for the sheer joy of ripping out a solo at full volume in a space that isn’t your bedroom.

Practising in a garage is among the most fun things on Earth, and playing live? Well, it’s as addictive as any drug (probably), and one of the most exhilarating, terrifying and downright exciting things you’ll ever do in your life.

5. You learn the value of perseverance

What was the most difficult thing you ever learned? It took bloody ages, didn’t it? Poring over it second by second, painstakingly learning each note, slowly linking them up, working on your phrasing and timing and tone, then blending all that together to form a coherent whole – learning a piece of music is an enormously complex task.

But you’ve done it, time and time again, and you are an Advanced Human because of it. You’ve learned that you’re capable of achieving things that at first blush seem impossible. All it takes is time, patience and perseverance. If that’s not a solid-gold Mr Miyagi-style, hard-earned life lesson, then we don’t know what is.

6. The pose

Of course, once you’ve spent all those hours practising, you get to show off the fruits of your labours to actual, living people. Whether you’ve only got a few chords or can bang out the entire Zeppelin back catalogue with your guitar behind your head, people will be impressed.

And it’s a great feeling, a vindication of all that time spent alone playing with yourself (easy now). Whether it’s a party, a gig, or a formal recitation in the parlour like the precocious youngest child of a Victorian household, showing off your chops in public is a thrill. Plus, you get to throw all your favourite rock star shapes, which, as we know, is what this has all really been about.

7. Guitar shops

Glorious caverns of guitar-y goodness, guitar shops have been the location of some of the best moments of our lives (barring, you know, children, marriages, that sort of thing).

From endless hours spent staring at beautiful slabs of want hanging in windows, through to the most recent snap purchase (you only went in for strings, but…), it’s at the guitar shops that dreams become reality.

Tentative first strums on guitars you would cherish for decades, random pedal recommendations from fellow punters, in-jokes with friendly staff – these are the reasons we love our local guitar emporiums, and probably always will.

8. The gear

Most musicians don’t fetishise their instruments in quite the same way guitarists do. We’re a bunch of nitrocellulose lovin’, tube-huntin’, tone-wood tappin’ gear hounds and proud of it.

Guitars have a beauty all of their own, even when they’re not being played, and we cannot stop ourselves from obsessing over them. The same goes for amps, pedals, stands – you name it, and somebody will know the exact date of manufacture, materials used and what the guy that put it together had for lunch.

We’re like trainspotters, except much, much cooler. Plus, we get to drive the trains.

9. Being a human jukebox

Sure, sometimes it can be a burden being asked to play the same songs over and over, but let’s be honest with ourselves here: we all love it, really. Having a few folk sing along to your playing, even if all you’re doing is banging out a half-remembered bit of Johnny Cash, is a fine way to spend an evening.

Not only do you get to show off just how many chords you can play (loads) and how many songs you can only remember the intro to (also loads), but people will buy you drinks. What’s not to love about that?

10. We rock

Guitarists quite literally rock, which means we wander around the place with the self-esteem of Greek gods. Ultimately, we know that we play guitar for our own satisfaction. Yes, it’s nice to get compliments or the odd free beer, but only we, the players, get to experience the satisfaction of a lick well played or a song well strummed.

It’s an endlessly rewarding pleasure, and one that only grows sweeter as the years roll by. There’s always something new to learn, some other trick to try or tune to pick up. If we’re lucky, we get to surround ourselves with gear that we’ve spent years accumulating, playing music that we love, whenever the hell we want. And that, if you ask us, isn’t half bad.

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Memories of Gregg Allman

Gosh, I have found so much music press lately that has been so inspiring. This is an article about Greg Allman who played a private concert for A Buffalo high school while in Rehab in 1976. It was a really lovely Read I wanted to share, read it here:

http://www.canisiushigh.org/news/news-item/~post/memories-of-gregg-allman-20170605

The student body has shared remembrances of this performance on the Canisius High School Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/CanisiusHS/

Focusrite Launches iTrack One Pre

This week Focusrite launched  iTrack One Pre for iOS. This is a cool looking micro single Microphone pre-amp and D 2 A converter. So small is the iTrack One Pre you could record with it anywhere.

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One of the features touted by Focusrite is the phantom power for any condenser microphone can be run off the iOS devices battery. I know I’m skeptical here but some condenser microphones soak a lot of power. I have a Neuman TLM 103 that pulls so much power it will only work on my P-Solo Pre. I can see certain microphones draining the iOS device battery very quickly.

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Features List:

  • The preamp in iTrack One Pre lets you capture clear recordings of vocals and acoustic instruments directly into Garageband and other iOS apps.
  • The right recording level is set via the illuminated gain halo.
  • With a micro-suction base, iTrack One Pre will stick on any flat surface without moving.
  • Focusrite’s iTrack One Pre generates phantom power from iPhones and iPads, so you can record with professional condenser microphones.
  • The high-headroom guitar input will capture every element of tone and playing style without any clipping or unwanted distortion.
  • Officially Apple certified, iTrack One Pre works perfectly with iOS devices up to and including iPhone 6s, and music making apps including Novation’s iOS app Blocs Wave.

The one change I would like to see changed in the next form factor is a headphone jack. Apple is removing them which would make this item useless with my iPhone 7 plus. The new lightening connector head buds from Apple will work on any iOS 10 device. This indicates a standard that I assume will part of the new iPad launch this month.

I suspect if a headphone jack is added to the iTrack One Pro I will own one. I think the design is a really good idea.

The iTrack One Pro is available now for $129.99 US.

Drum Session Full Review

I’ve had some time to work with Drum Session in a few environments. This app really sounds great, far better than anything else I’ve tried. I’ve used it with Cubasis, Auria Pro and the newcomer Audio Evolution which I’m really liking. I have primarily used inter-app audio thus far.

There are some things I’ve found in these last few months both positive and negative. Since the samples in Drum Session are top notch, most of my experience is positive. I’ve been keeping an eye on Derricks FaceBook page. He’s posted some images of the reworked UI and ta video clip upcoming iPhone version of Drum Session.

Inter app audio has not been solid, however I think this likely has nothing to do with the Drum Session app. It works the best with Cubasis but crashes with Auria Pro and Audio Evolution Mobile. There’s also a few instances of buggy behavior. More than likely these would be feature requests.

Changing the Drum Kit and saving does not save the changed kit or the loop, see video below:

The video is lacking because I’m holding my iPhone sorry about that. Note the loop settings and the different Drum kit was not saved to the file although, the kit and loop were present when toggling from song to song. It’s only when you close out the Drum Session app that the changes disappear.

These would be features I would think everyone would use and would be a part of the original release. For all I know this could just be my iPad. Derek Buddemeyer the developer for Drum Session has been really good about stopping in once in a while. Maybe he can comment on these feature requests.

Below is a screen shout of the new Drum Session UI / UIX that I believe will be in the next software release:

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This looks fantastic! Very easy to read and much more so the look and feel of a traditional DAW. I am waiting patiently for the next release, I believe this release will be a big step forward for Drum Session.

As I had eluded to previously I was using inter app audio for most of the work I’ve done so far with Drum Session. IMHO inter app audio still has a ways to go but I’m grateful it’s being developed. I’ve moved everything over for the track I am working on into the DAW with Audio Share. I really like Audio Evolution Pro as a DAW but it’s still very new to iOS. Inter app audio  is not very tight on  Audio Evolution Pro or Auria Pro. It’s solid on Cubasis but I find the Cubasis UI difficult to work with.

I give Drum Session a Solid 4.5 stars. There’s a few things that need improvement, but at the end of the day for me it’s all about how good it sounds.

Drum Session sounds GREAT!

I must admit I have not had the time to dive deep into drum Session, but I’ve put some good solid 2 hours into going through the UI and mostly listening. I just took a new position that I am so ecstatic to have, it’s a perfect fit for me. In my defense, the hours I’m spending at the day gig are long. Usually, I would be all over a great app like Drum Session.

Since today the first update rolled out of the iTunes store, I felt compelled to write about Drum Session before I updated. This is not a review just yet… Here’s what I know thus far:

It sounds fantastic!
It’s very simple to use
The MIDI piano roll portion of the UI is very solid.

The piano roll was updated in the Version 1.0.3 release today, but I’m still running the original version. I think it’s solid! I haven’t updated the app yet to V 1.0.3, I wanted to finish this blog before I had scrum release blues opinions.

What really stands out:

  • There is a plethora of drum kits in Drum Session. This is great because most of the samples are mixed with different reverb and compression levels. However most have a reasonably dry mix for each kit. That is really a feature I like A LOT!
  • Drum Session sounds so much better that any app I have heard since launching my iOS music creation experiment in March of this year. This is the KILLER Drum app I have been waiting for.
  • There’s a lot of choice for $24.99. It’s scalable for the price, It’s scalable for sound, It’s scalable for custom beat creating when you can compare to other apps available. That’s a huge value add for me.

The only feature request I have for you Derick Buddemyer if you read this is the font color in the UI. I’m not sure if this is because I am using the 12.9” screen of the iPad pro, but the dark font color against the dark grey background is difficult to see on the top buttons and the black piano keys of the UI. That’s the only feature enhancement I can suggest.

After 2 hours, I love this app and I think many others will too!

New iOS app Drum Session

Just when I had all but given up on using iOS for music production a new app just hit the app store. Drum Session by Derek Buddemeyer looks very interesting. In most cases I’ve quickly purchased any percussion app that looked promising, but I’m holding off on Drum Session. I have a folder full of Drum apps, all have been quite the disappointment. Plus, on Black Friday I spent plenty on iOS deals. I’m hoping I may win one of 3 giveaways over at the Music App Bolg.

One of the appealing things about Drum Session is the creator Derek Buddemeyer is a guitarist. Guitarists have different needs when it comes to writing and recording compositions.  The fact that the UI (user interface) has a midi roll to tighten up any transition licks and alter any beat is something other apps have lacked.

midi roll

midi roll

This may very well have a downside as well. From the looks of this part of the UI I don’t see any features to “humanize” the beat. Perfectly quantized Stale sounding percussion is the worst. Those drum beats sounds mechanical, fake and can kill any groove that any potential great song should have.

I’ll patiently wait for reviews and opinions on Drum Session before I click the Buy Now button. I think the Drum app folder has enough company for now.

 

The Verdict on iOS music Creation

I’ve been working with the iPad Pro for the better part of 6 months. I’ve purchased 3 DAW’s, Garageband for iPad, Auria and Cubasis. They sound pretty Legit, Cubasis having the overall best sounding Virtual instruments (GarageBand a very close 2nd). If I were recording electronic Music only, I wouldn’t use anything other than an iPad. You can do just about everything you can carry out on a MacBook Pro in that realm.

For making organic analog music using Real Drums that have true groove, it fails blatantly. I’ve purchased the Real Time alternatives to Superior Drummer and BFD, Sonically they all fall VERY short but one. The best sounding acoustic Percussion with any decent workflow was Garageband’s x drummer. If you use it for Logic X and you like the sound you’re golden.

I like the sound of X Drummer, but it’s not very flexible in the choice of sounds and tones. For instance I could never get Full Kit sounds like some of the Steven Slate libraries I own for Mac and PC. You can get true non-quantised human groove like a Superior Drummer or BFD. That’s really important to me.

I also like how every thing plugs in seamlessly with AU. With the release of iOS 10 AU became more useful and feature rich. I rarely used AudioBus even back under iOS 9 with the Previous version of AU, the exception was Auria. Using X Drummer in GarageBand for iPad as a plugin to Auria or Cubase is a walk in the park with AudioShare. It’s actually easier and more seamless to use plugins, even whole DAW’s plugging into each other in iOS (more so than a PC).

I think you can make really great Acoustic instrument Demos giving the restrictions of iOS music creation. I don’t think you can create something professional and polished for Pandora Radio etc. The two pieces that are missing from all 3 DAW’s are:

Flexible good sounding Percussion creation somewhat resembling the Mac and PC world.
The feature that allows one to do several “takes” or “comps” of the same passage of music.

I believe as time moves forward these issues will be solved sooner more than later. There’s too much open market opportunity here for software companies.

EDIT: I forgot to tag this with categories and Keywords and originally posted this a few days ago, I was really tired! I reposed with the right SEO information.

Things I’ve learned about iPad DAW in the last 30 days

In the last month I’ve been in the wood shed daily working with the new iPad, the Presonus interface and new apps. I’m having so much fun! I really think the challenge of the learning curve is something I needed and truly enjoy. Challenges for me like most people are great in life especially, musical challenges. Doing what you love and workig diligently at it.

Most of what I’m going to share is about are the apps I’ve purchased:

  • Bias FX
  • Bias Amp
  • Bias JamUp Pro
  • Bias Final Touch
  • IK Multimedia SampleTank for iOS
  • DrumPerfict Pro

Positive Grid’s Guitar Plugins are IMHO the best you can purchase for the Macintosh platform. Although I usually mic up Guitar amplifiersin the PC realm, I use Bias Peak with Logic and Pro Tools to re-amp and layer. Bias Amp sounds just as good to my ears as it does on the Mac. I am blown away by this app on the iPad. Bias FX and the amps in JamUp Pro are just as great on the iPad.

Final Touch was something that was somewhat of an impulse buy because it was on sale. I’m quite happy with this mastering suite and grateful I picked it up. I’ve loosely mastered two demos with it so far, the tracks really came to life nicely. On labor day I paid a whopping $4.99 for the app on sale, Positive Grid has amazing holiday sales. The Memorial day sale prices are still current, GO BUY THEM!

 

  • Bias FX- Normal Price $29.99 Now  $9.99
  • Bias Amp Normal Price $19.99 Now $4.99
  • Bias JamUp Pro Normal Price $19.99 Now  $4.99
  • Bias Final Touch Normal Price $29.99 Now $4.99

 

I’ve always thought SampleTank had great sound samples, the Neil Peart Drums are awesome. I’ve had the free version of SampleTank for iOS on my iPhone for years, I knew the sounds were solid. Since it’s on sale for $15.99 for fathers day I pulled the trigger. It has great organ and electric piano samples, I’m happy I purchased it.

DrumPerfict Pro is touted as the Superior Drummer 2 / BFD for iPad. I can tell you it is no such thing. Firstly, the drums samples are horrible, I mean really bad. I can’t believe this has the positive reviews it has. Drummer inside of garage band sounds light years better that DrumPerfict Pro.

Second, the user interface is a train wreck. It’s a mishmash of screens that have no rhyme or reason other than the grid screen. How could you screw up a grid UI yes? After thinking it over I am going to ask Marinus J.G. van de Molengraft for a refund. While I applaud his efforts to bring a product like Superior Drummer to iOS, he falls miles short.

Lastly, I just ordered an iRig keys 37 that should arrive at the end of the week. I’m pretty excited about that. I have some really nice samples but no vehicle to bring the sounds to life.

 

 

 

 

And so it begins

And so it begins…

Ribs somewhat reasonably healed…. check!

Found an iPad DAW that would actually work with any interface…. Check!

What I’ve learned so far…

Cubasis LE for iOS has very strict hardware rules. Why would  you rule out Presonus as a valid vendor? THAT’S SO BAD! I have no idea why the list of  approved hardware vendors discludes Presonus, it’s quite illogical. They’re a major player in the industry!

https://www.steinberg.net/en/products/mobile_apps/cubasis_le/compatible_hardware.html

I really was set on Cubasis LE for iOS because the virtual instruments are really solid. The fact that the DAW doesn’t work with many industry standard hardware choices, even with the lightening wire to USB lit was a total deal breaker. So I found another DAW I knew nothing about.

Auria pro will work with almost all interfaces. I pulled the trigger on the $49.99 download this afternoon, it seems the learning curve is going to be somewhat difficult.

And so it begins…