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×'s been over two years since I've done anything here.  Yikes!!!

I'm currently in the process of rearranging my "music room" / "man cave" right now.  When I'm done, I'll post some pics of my current guitars and amps.

It won't be complete until next year, though...I need one more guitar to properly utilize one of my amps.  When it arrives, I'll include some photos of it as well.

Sorry for the disappearing act.  But, hey, at least I'm not dead!  Well, not yet, anyway.  ;)


  • Drinking: Ice Water
My apologies for the delay in this...

On Saturday, I finally got around to doing some maintenance on Millie...change of strings, clean the whole guitar, and oil up the fingerboard a bit. Not that big of a deal for most, but it's the first time I ever sat down and did everything myself. I even purchased a precision ruler so I could check string and pickup heights.

Anyway, long story short, I was able to fix two minor issues without having to resort to taking her somewhere else for a setup: the first was a slight buzz on the lower strings (they needed to be raised 2/64th of an inch), and minor intonation problems on two strings. Needless to say, I'm rather pumped that I was able to do it on my own, and didn't need to call someone to fix my mistakes! lol

But you don't care about's some porn of Millie...

Getting prepped to do some maintenance (you can see the ruler in this pic)...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 01 by LordHighWarlock

Cleaning the backside, which shows her only mar where the finish didn't take to the neck...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 02 by LordHighWarlock

Getting ready to polish the back of the body to wipe away all the fingerprints...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 03 by LordHighWarlock

The naked body...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 04 by LordHighWarlock

The naked neck...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 05 by LordHighWarlock

And Millie at our first gig: the home of my wife's boss (not me in pic)...
Millie 06-08-13 -- 06 by LordHighWarlock
  • Reading: The Harrowing of Gwynedd
  • Drinking: Raspberry Kool-Aid

The first hour with my VOX VT80+

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 8:26 PM
Well, my new VOX VT80+ arrived today, and I thought I'd share my initial thoughts on it.  For background: I started playing when I was 13, and took a 9-10 year hiatus in my mid-30's (I'm now 46).  When I got back into playing (about a year-and-a-half ago), I picked up a VT40+.  For various reasons, I traded that in for a Peavey Vypyr 75.  This Christmas I gifted the Vypyr 75 to a friend.  Due to a backlog on Vypyr 30's, I opted to pick up the VT80+ instead of waiting indefinitely for a Vypyr 30 to arrive.

I've seen lots of reviews on the VT40+, and in some of them, they make note of the lack of a bottom-end.  Since it comes with a 10" speaker, that's understandable.  It also reflects some of my thoughts on the VT40+.  Surprisingly, I've seen the same statement made on the VT80+.  To me, those folks must be smoking something!  LOL  The bottom-end on the VT80+ is SUBSTANTIALLY improved when compared to the VT40+.  For those wondering if the VT+ series can hold its own against other amps, the VT80+ definitely can!!

The VT80+ isn't much larger than the VT40+, but the increased size makes a huge difference.  For instance, for me, I found the VT40+ to be too low to use comfortably as a floor the time, I had no immediate means of raising it off the floor.  Well, now I do. Unfortunately, I find that the added height of the VT80+ (when raised off the floor) makes it just as uncomfortable to me as having the VT40+ on the floor.  The solution: put the VT80+ on the floor!  I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it works for me.  As I said, those added inches seem to be just perfect for me.

I also noted that I will need to play with the Power Level knob to locate all the "sweet spots."  I've already found one of 8:55 - 9:00, the amp sounds a little muddy.  Even with the volumes up.  But nudge it to 9:00 - 9:05, and suddenly the mids and highs open up.  This is no joke: even my wife noticed the difference when I showed that to her, and she's not a musician.

And if you're new to these amps, remember this: turn the VALUE and DEPTH knobs!  I turned to a Green-Clean amp, added the Acoustic effect dialed-in at about 12:00, set the Modulation/Delay to Multi-Chorus at 10-11:00, and finished with some Spring Reverb.  LOVE this tone for some folk-like songs.  Too many times we get focused on presets, and figure something like, "well, that's how they programmed it, so that must be the best option."  Don't count on that.  If you find a sound lacking, adjust the settings for what you're using: you'll be grateful that you did.

Finally, I think you'll find that this amp allows for a much smoother move from cleans to distortion when you use your guitar's volume knob.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this short video of Brian May (Queen) talking about the Vox AC30: Brian May on Vox AC30s.  Compared to the Peavey Vypyr 75, the VT80+ is definitely superior in this aspect.

I'm sure I'll have more to add as I work through the speaker break-in period.  I'll be sure to add anything significant.  :)

- Rich

  • Reading: The Titan's Curse
  • Drinking: Raspberry Kool-Aid

What a winding path one sometimes follows...

Journal Entry: Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:03 PM
Wow.  Just, wow.  You won't believe the crazy journey I'm on involving my guitar amps...

History: After a 9-10 year break, I once again started playing guitar.  The amp I purchased was a Vox Valvetronix VT40+, which sounded great.  However, as some may know, it's a tiny little amp, and not having anything to place it on, I got tired of always tilting it forward to change / see the settings.  So, I traded it in for a Peavey Vypyr 75.

After five minutes of playing it, I realized that it was more power than I'd ever need.  Especially since the "Power Sponge" does NOT act like a power attenuator.  Additionally, the Noise Gate is at a set level, and there's no way to change that.

So, when a friend of mine recently hocked most of his equipment to pay his bills, I thought that this would be an opportune time to "downgrade" my amp.  I gave him the Vypyr 75 for Christmas, and ordered a Vypyr 30 with a Sanpera I footswitch (a bundled package from that saved me $32).  This amp arrived on Boxing Day.

Now, keep in mind (when you get to the upcoming part), that when I ordered this, I was quite content to play out my days on the Vypyr 30, especially since the Sanpera I was there to make changing banks that much easier.

Once unpacked, I plugged everything in, checked the firmware level (which was at v1.58 -- this is significant for later), and started playing.  Everything was fine until I started to hit some individual deep notes (like the main riff from Crazy Train).  When I did that, I heard a very nasty, and very noticeable buzz coming from the speaker.

At first, I figured it had to do with all the junk that I had placed on or around the OCD kicked in, and, of course, I had to put everything back in its place before I powered up.  LOL  Well, I moved all my stuff well away from the amp, and it still buzzed.  OK, time to look inside.


When I did, I found three things: 1) one of the supporting frame pieces (made from cheap particle board) had a significantly large crack in it that was repaired by some wood glue; 2) the screw that belonged to the hole above this crack was missing (I later found it in the packing box); and 3) there was an additional screw loose in the supporting frame on the opposite side.

Once I found the missing screw, I discovered that I could not use it in the hole provided.  Why?  Because that hole was now twice as wide as the screw, so there was nothing for the screw to support.

Now, not knowing, or caring, if the buzzing was due to a loose speaker, or if the floating screw had damaged the speaker, we called Sweetwater and asked to swap it out with another Vypyr 30...hoping that it'd be one with the current firmware version of 1.59, that started being used mid-2011 (which means that the Vypyr 30 that I have has been on a shelf for over a year, and possibly as long as 3!).

And now on to the really bad news...the Vypyr 30 is on back-order until February 2013, at the earliest.  Visions of my experience with Guitar Center started flashing through my mind (see earlier Journal Entries).  Ugh!

So, I started looking at other options.

The easiest solution would be to "upgrade" to another Vypyr 75.  And our rep at Sweetwater said that they might be able to split the cost difference with us.  Tempting...very tempting.  But then I'd be back to where I was earlier: with an amp that had too much power, and was rather difficult to maintain decent tones at bedroom levels.

Another option was one of the Fender Mustang amps.  Wanting to stay with a 12" speaker, that ruled out the Mustang I.  And the Mustang II doesn't an EQ for Mids (wtf!?).  That leaves the Mustang III as the first viable option by Fender.

The Fender Mustang III is a great amp, but since it's solid-state, it doesn't have a power attenuator either.  And while the Vypyr 75 and Mustang III have USB connections, this is not a feature that I would ever use.  Additionally, I'm leery about an amp that has even more of a computer presence (i.e. the LCD screen) than the Vypyr.  So that ruled out this amp.

Line 6 amps where ruled out due to personal preference as well.  While they're great for many people I know, I'm just not overwhelmed by their sound.

Next is going back to Vox.

Unlike last year, I now have a small storage cabinet that I can set my main amp on.  Having it higher up makes the Valvetronix amps an option once more.  But, the VT40+ only has a 10" speaker, and I've become accustomed to the fuller sound of a 12" speaker.

So, long story short, I'm now looking at the Vox Valvetronix VT80+ amp.  Yes, like the Vypyr 75, it's more power that I truly need.  However, unlike the Vypyr 75, it has one tube in it, so it has a power attenuator that works like it should.  Thus giving me really good tone at bedroom levels, as well as gig levels...should I ever need to.  Additionally, the price difference is only $22 more than the Vypyr 75 option.  Granted, I'll be going from 12-presets to 8-presets, but I only found myself really just using 5 or 6.  So that should be a non-issue.

I'll know for sure later on today, once we talk with our rep at Sweetwater, and find out if they'll agree to this.  I'd rather wait a couple more days to resolve this than another month or two.

So, all the promised pics for this week will be delayed.  Whether it's the Vypyr 75 or the VT80+, I'll post new pics when I have this amp issue resolved.  :)

  • Reading: The Titan's Curse
  • Drinking: Iced Tea

Good-Bye, Vypyr 75!

Journal Entry: Fri Dec 21, 2012, 10:12 PM
Vypyr & Sanpera Forums l Vypyr Settings l My Les Paul Forums l Paperback Swap

Well, today I became Vypyrless. I knew within 5 minutes of owning it that I had made a mistake with the 75: it just has way more power than I will ever need. I only play at home as a hobbyist, and don't plan on ever doing gigs. And, really, if I DID end up doing a gig, I could always drag out my Renown 400 for that.

But, I have a friend that has recently had to hock most of his equipment, and he DOES do gigs, and on a regular basis. So, for Christmas, I'm giving him my Vypyr 75. I cleaned it all up (i.e. just dusted it off LOL) and reset it to the factory defaults. I'm sure he'll enjoy of the things he had to hock was a Vypyr 15, so he should really enjoy the 75.

As for me, I decided to downsize...Sweetwater has a bundled package deal of a Vypyr 30 with a Sanpera I footswitch, so I ordered that this morning. Shortly thereafter, they went on back-order. My wife talked to a salesperson there, and mine should have gone out for delivery this afternoon. With luck, I'll have it just before Christmas...if not, just afterwards.

I think that, in the end, this will be a better fit for me, and I know my friend will appreciate it.  I'll post some updated pics in a week or so, once I get it all setup again.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! :D

  • Reading: The Sea of Monsters
  • Drinking: Iced Tea

Almost finished...

Journal Entry: Tue Sep 18, 2012, 10:22 PM
Well, I finally got my hands on a vintage footswitch for my Renown 400.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work.  I'll need to look at the wiring, or perhaps send it off to my Peavey Tech...probably the latter, as that way I'm sure it'll get fixed properly.

Still haven't gotten that new laptop we've been eyeballing...funds are being used elsewhere.  Ya know, the mortgage, food, bills...all those minor things we need to survive.  Hopefully it'll still be available when we DO have the money for it.

In the meantime, I've replaced the crashed hard drive in my old laptop, and installed Linux Mint 13 (Maya) on it.  It's up and running, and working like a charm.  I only need to work on three minor issues, one of which I have the commands to fix (and will do so when I'm off of work today).  The other two are sound / codex related issues while browsing.  Not earth shattering in the least.  I suspect that I'll have those fixed up in the next week or so.

Once we get the new laptop, and I install Mint on it, this old one will be given to my daughter for schoolwork.  Since it comes with an entire office suite (LibreOffice), she'll be set for everything she'll need to use it for.

Also, lately I've been coming across some fantastic artwork.  Browse through my Favorites and take a look.  The talent some of these people have is simply mind-blowing.

Have a great Autumn.

- Rich

CSS design Eternal-Skye
  • Reading: The Dragonriders of Pern
  • Drinking: Lemonade

Rockin' it to the max!

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 3, 2012, 10:49 PM
  • Reading: Taking Flight (An Ethshar Novel)
  • Drinking: Blood Wine (Black Cherry Kool-Aid)

Linux Mint is a 'Go!'

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 2:48 AM
I just discovered that my old Dell Inspiron 8600 has the CMOS option of booting from a USB device.  So, instead of booting off of the Linux Mint Live-Boot DVD (and losing any data should a restart be required), I've installed Maya onto the external drive that I use for long-term backups and music storage.

Long story short: we now have a "working" PC again.  Once the replacement hard drive arrives for this old clunker, I'll do another install to THAT drive, and then pass this PC along to my daughter to use.  Hopefully I'll have the wireless issue figured out by then...the only issue I've had with Maya.  Good thing I'm close to my router so I can connect with a CAT-5 cable!

I'm amazed, though, at how Maya has been handling itself.  Despite running off of a USB hard drive, the system is still almost twice as fast compared to when I was running XP.  And the shutdown and boot process are MUCH quicker!  I can't wait to see how the 64-bit version runs on the new laptop when it arrives.

And so many free software apps to go through...I don't even know where to begin!  At least LibreOffice takes care of the document editing.  And right now we're giving KMyMoney a shot to replace Quicken / MS Money.

I'm really glad we made the switch to Linux...I don't think I'll ever got back to a Microsoft Operating System.

  • Reading: Taking Flight (An Ethshar Novel)
  • Drinking: Romulan Ale (Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid)

Leaving Microsoft Behind...

Journal Entry: Fri Aug 17, 2012, 11:06 PM
Well, after nearly 30 years of dealing with the DOS Shell known as Windows, I'm finally kicking it to the curb.

My decade-old Dell's hard drive crashed recently, so it forced us to look at our options.  They included:
          - Replacing the hard drive and reinstalling XP.
          - Buying a new PC with Windows 7 or 8.
          - Buying a Mac and moving away from Microsoft.
          - Replacing the hard drive and installing Linux.
          - Buying a new PC and installing Linux.

While I would have liked to make the move to a Mac, they're simply out of our price range.  Maybe someday...maybe never.  However, I really, REALLY, like the idea of not having to worry about viruses, and taking full advantage of the processor (i.e. not having to always run Anti-Virus and/or Spyware programs in the background).  So, we've opted for the last two options listed above.

My current laptop has a 32-bit processor, so we're going to install Linux on that, and give it to our daughter.  She'll have everything she'll need for the final 2 years of High School.  For my wife and I, we're going to get a new Dell Inspiron N411Z (with 6GB of RAM, and a 750GB 7200rpm hard drive).

Ah, but what "flavor" of Linux to install, right?  Well, according to the info at DistroWatch, there are over 700 different Linux Distributions!  Yikes!!  That's obviously way too many to look over.  So we narrowed things down to some of the most popular distributions.

In the end, my wife and I decided to go with Linux Mint 13 (Maya): KDE.  And because we like to keep physical discs of most of the things we install, I even ponied up the money to buy the Live-Boot Discs, as well as the current Software Repository.  I know, I could have downloaded them, but all we currently have available are our work PCs, and neither one of us felt comfortable using them in that manner.

So, for the past week or so I've been reading up on Linux, Mint, and KDE.  It's been 10 years since I've dealt with a UNIX/Linux system, so I have a bit of catching up to do...and I'll need to get up-to-speed quickly so I can show my wife and daughter what they'll need to know as well (mainly how to use LibreOffice).

So, that's what's new here.  If you're interested in the Peavey Renown 400 project, that's still "in progress."  Nothing really newsworthy to comment on as yet.  I'll letcha know when things change.  :)

Peace, and God Bless!

  • Reading: Pebble in the Sky
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

Finally, some new pics!!

Journal Entry: Mon Aug 6, 2012, 10:12 PM
Yes, I know that I promised new pics last week, back a 2-day-long migraine really messed up my week.

Anyway, the new pics of my new old Renown 400 are uploaded.  It needs some TLC, for sure, but it sounds pretty killer.  Due to the hack job on the power cable, I didn't want to plug it in for that long.  I had it on just long enough to test the speakers, and to find out that several pots need to be cleaned and/or replaced.

Renown 400 Project 01 by LordHighWarlock Renown 400 Project 02 by LordHighWarlock

Renown 400 Project 03 by LordHighWarlock Renown 400 Project 04 by LordHighWarlock

Renown 400 Project 05 by LordHighWarlock Renown 400 Project 06 by LordHighWarlock

While I was at it, I also uploaded some pics of the new cases I got for Frank & Millie.

For Frank, I just got a low-end Fender flight case.  It's not the fanciest, but it'll get the job done.

Frank's New Home 01 by LordHighWarlock Frank's New Home 02 by LordHighWarlock

I splurged on Millie, though.  I got one of the waterproof SKB flight cases.  With little dogs and teenagers running around the place, I didn't want to take any chances.  I'm really pleased with the quality of both cases.  They're definitely worth the money.

As an added bonus, they both use the same TSA-approved locks, so I now have 3 spare keys!  LOL

Millie's New Home 01 by LordHighWarlock Millie's New Home 02 by LordHighWarlock

Millie's New Home 03 by LordHighWarlock Millie's New Home 04 by LordHighWarlock

Millie's New Home 05 by LordHighWarlock

More pics as the Renown 400 Project progresses.  :D

  • Reading: Pebble in the Sky
  • Drinking: Pink Lemonade

Soon to be reunited with an old friend...

Journal Entry: Thu Jul 26, 2012, 11:39 PM
Vypyr & Sanpera Forums l Vypyr Settings l My Les Paul Forums l Paperback Swap

Keep your fingers crossed!  If all goes well, by noon on Saturday I should be reunited with an "old friend"...a Peavey Renown 400 amp!!  I used to have one, but my first wife's cats kinda destroyed it.  And I recently came across one for sale in my neck of the woods, and I can't pass up the opportunity to have it again.

The seller doesn't have the footswitch, but I can buy a new one for around $80.  Since he's only asking $60 for the amp (I may be able to get it for $50!), I think that's a reasonable cost.

When I bought my original in the late '80s, it was listed for $700, and I got it for $355.  Granted, I'm sure the low price also had to do with the fact that I just dropped $1200 on a Rickenbacker 360/12, and another $300 for a hardshell case.

Yes, it's a solid-state amp, but at 210 watts, it really cranks!  The overdrive is very warm, and so are the cleans.  I'm toying with the idea of using my Vypyr 75 as a pre-amp...not at full power, of course.  It definitely has some possibilities.

As long as the one I'm going to look at on Saturday is in halfway decent shape, I'm seeing this as a done deal.  It'll be worth the hour long trip to get it.  The hour back home will be quite frustrating, though.  LOL

I'll letcha know what happens Monday night (my hard drive crashed this week, so I can only post at work).  I'll also try to snag some pics this weekend, and upload those when I return to work next week.

Wish me luck!  :D

  • Reading: The Currents of Space
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

Projects, projects, projects...

Wed Jul 4, 2012, 10:19 PM
It never seems to fail: whenever you're in the middle of one project, you get an idea for another, and then another, and so on.

Right now I'm in the middle of making my wife a Magical Walking Staff for this year's Renaissance Festival (I'll post pics when I'm done with it).  Well, just the other day, I ran across a wiring schematic for a Jimmy Page 21-tone mod for a Les Paul.  Looking at it, it's everything my current LP doesn't have.

The downside: for whatever reason, Gibson uses 2-wire pickups in any guitar that doesn't have mine.  Well, for the JP mod to work, you need to have 4-wire pickups.  So I can't upgrade my LP with its current pickups.

The upside: Gibson aftermarket pickups DO come with 4-wires!  w00t!

Now, realizing this, some would choose to install completely different pickups...'57 Classics, or SD Pearly Gates.  Me, I really, really like the tones I get out of the 490R / 498T combination that's in my '50s Tribute.  I was looking at the JP mod as expanding my current tonal options: not replace it with something else.

So, once I get my wife's staff finished, and after I get a few things that are next on my buying list, I'll likely purchase a 4-wire set of 490R / 498T pickups, along with a pre-wired JP mod.

The only question I need to decide on now is: do I get double-black pickups (like the ones that are currently in my guitar), or do I get the zebra ones (one black, one cream) to match the rest of the guitar.  I'm not really sure yet as to which I'll choose.  On the one hand, the zebras would immediately tell that something's been done to the guitar.  On the other, no one would know that it had been modified until I / they started playing it, if I stayed with the double-black.

I'd eventually like to also install a Bigsby with a Vibramate, so I don't know if it'd do any good to "hide" what I'm doing with the wiring by getting the doub-black pickups.

if anyone's got some thoughts on it, lemme know.  It's going to be several months before I can get around to this financially, so don't expect to see this pop up any time soon.  LOL

Live Long and Prosper!  :)

  • Reading: The Robots of Dawn
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

Goodbye to another Forum.

Journal Entry: Sun Apr 22, 2012, 8:47 PM

During the last, oh, 15+ years, I've either owned/operated an old-style BBS, or a modern-day forum (via the SMF software, and even on EZBoard).  In addition to that, I've been a Moderator and/or Admin on several others, many of them quite large...and some quite small.  While doing this, I have repeatedly seen the following scenario take place:

- Users/Members become comfortable with each other.
- Due to the familiarity, some topics go "off-topic," or "boundaries" are pushed (e.g. mentioning religion when it is considered a taboo subject).
- A small group of Users/Members, sometimes a single individual, becomes offended by something that other people are talking about, and reports a post/thread to the Moderating Team.
- A Mod and/or Admin responds in a fashion that is considered by many to be...excessive.
- The "regular" Users/Members, aka the posters that make up the majority of the posting activity, become upset, and many of them leave.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen, and been on both ends of it myself.  Right now, this is happening at the Gibson Guitar Forum, in the Epiphone Lounge.  And to be honest, I can see both sides of the story.  And then it struck me as to why so many people sign up on sites like Facebook and Twitter: in essence, the End-User runs the show!  They don't have to worry about being Moderated, Banned, or censored in any way (well, 99.9% of the time, anyway).

Once the last item in my list above comes into play, the Forum will enter another "slow" period.  Those that simply lurk will eventually leave as well, due to the lack of posting.  And at this point, the Mods/Admins will stop watching so closely.  After all, why watch a dead forum?

But, in time, the forum will once again become active (assuming it is large enough and/or specific/interesting enough to garner new Users/Members).  And once this happens, the forum will enter into another "Glory Days" mode.  Until the cycle starts all over again with different Users/Members, and perhaps different Mods/Admins.  Truly, when looked at objectively, it is sad to repeatedly watch people bitch and moan over these types of things.  And it's one of the reasons why I eventually closed down my own forums after a decade of use: I'm tired of seeing the User vs. Mod wars.

I don't have a Facebook account.  But right now, I am probably the closest I have ever been to getting one...or perhaps just starting up another forum for the poor censored souls at the Epiphone Lounge.  But if the latter, I know that something would eventually go down where the above scenario would play itself out again.  Do I really want to continue the cycle?  At the moment, I'm none too sure.

  • Reading: The Earthsea Trilogy
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

Paying Twice the Price...

Journal Entry: Mon Mar 19, 2012, 11:49 PM
Been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately (been a fan since the '80s -- Jon Pertwee as the 3rd Doctor is my fave), so I thought I'd go with this Journal Skin.

Anywho, on to business...

There's this "kid" that my daughter goes to high school with, and my mother-in-law has kind of adopted.  He recently turned 18.  This last Christmas, my m-i-l and I split the cost of a beginner guitar pack for him (this one)...the price has recently increased by $50.

Anyway, this weekend he tells my m-i-l that he's thinking of pawning it to get some money to fix his truck.  My response was, "like hell!  If he's gonna sell it to anyone, it's going to be ME!"  Well, he did.  I bought it off of him for what we initially paid for it.  And I plan on giving my m-i-l her investment back.

So, basically, I just paid $300 for a $150 guitar and amp.  *sigh*  It may be for the really needs a tune-up...the intonation is really bad on this one.  To me, it looks like the neck isn't set properly.  In a couple of weeks I'm gonna take it to the place I got my GLP and have it properly setup.

Once I get it, and the amp, cleaned up (they reek of cigarette smoke), I'll keep it as a beater.  One that I can take outside, and not worry if it gets dinged here and there.  And, who knows, maybe my wife will show an interest, and I can start teaching her the basics of how to play.  That little SP-10 amp, while kind of thin sounding due to the small speaker, actually holds quite the punch, and is quite loud in a home environment.  Overall, it's a nice beginner guitar...reminds me of my first guitar in many ways.

I'll post some pics once I get around to cleaning it up...maybe once it's setup properly.  At the same time, I'll post pics of the new guitar strap I got for my's super sweet!  :)

CSS design Eternal-Skye
  • Reading: Inheritance
  • Drinking: Green Tea

Another Wait Begins...

Journal Entry: Sat Feb 11, 2012, 12:13 AM
Well, I typed up my "complaint" letter to Epiphone and Guitar Center (the same letter was sent to both companies).  It was 5 pages long!  Holy crap!!!  I guess I had a lot to vent about, huh?

Anyway, I sent them via registered mail (so they have to sign for them, and I'll get a notification back that they did), and in an oversize the hopes that it'll grab their attention.

What do I hope to gain?  Not really sure, beyond making sure that they're aware of some quality issues, and that there are some questionable business practices taking place.  If they can at least fix the horrendous fret buzzing in the Ultra-III, it'll save others pulling their hair out in the future.  Really, for a $750 guitar, it's just not acceptable in having to "settle" for this second-rate quality.  I mean, if this was a $50 K-Mart special or something, sure.  But when you're nearing the price of a Gibson Les Paul Studio, it's just ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm more than happy with "Millie" now.  She plays, and sounds awesome.  I'm planning on doing a 3-month checkup on her, and then once every 6 months.  She's worth the investment to keep her in the best of shape.

Next on the list is an SKG waterproof hard shell case, and maybe a Gibson Vintage guitar kinda goes with Millie being a '50s Tribute, right?  ;)

Will letcha know how things develop.  :D

  • Reading: With a Single Spell
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

A Most Excellent HNGLPD!!!!

Mon Feb 6, 2012, 9:03 PM

That would be: Happy New Gibson Les Paul Day!!

On Saturday, the missus and I spent nearly 7 hours in the car.  First we drove to Greensboro to return my Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-III to Guitar Center, and then we drove to Music City in Asheville to look for a replacement.

I looked at several, and played a few, but my eyes kept coming back to the Gibson Les Paul Studio '50s Tribute in Faded/Satin Honeyburst.  It was unlike any honeyburst I'd ever seen before.  And the quality was better than another GLP that I played that was $150 more!

The '50s style neck took a little to get used 15 minutes.  It's the chunkiest neck I've ever played,'s like it was made for my hand!  I'm playing better with this neck that ANY other guitar I've ever played.  And it's tonal range is simply amazing!  I've never had a neck pickup with so much range!  This guitar is a work of art!!

And you can see that by the pics I posted the other day.

Her name is Millie..."mil" is the Gaelic word for "honey."  She came into existence on August 29th, 2011, and came home on February 4th, 2012.

Combined with my Vypyr 75 amp, she's simply awesome.  Hopefully, someday, I'll become worthy of her.  For now, I'm just enjoying having her at home.  :)

dragon: Elevit-Stock, mountains: fantom89, wastelands: resurgere | wroth, chains: ocd1c-stock, scroll: | ba1969, brushes: redheadstock & MouritsaDA-Stock; coding and graphics by kuschelirmel-stock
  • Reading: The Misenchanted Sword
  • Drinking: Pink Lemonade

Back to the Beginning

Journal Entry: Wed Feb 1, 2012, 10:23 PM

Well, my saga with Epiphone's Les Paul Ultra-III is nearing it's conclusion.  The week after I received this latest guitar, the missus took it back to GC to have the nut centered, and to look at the other "issues."  Basically, it was "deal with it...but we'll center the nut for you."  And they did.

The guitar seemed to have played better with just that one adjustment.  Sure, the action was a little higher than I prefer, but I could deal with that.

However, the more I played it, the more I noticed intonation problems.  Two tuners said the strings were in tune, yet, while playing certain chords, it  I tried changing the strings, but that didn't help any.

So, I decided to see if there was a closer Epiphone dealer than GC (which is 2.5 hours away), and there Asheville, which is half the distance to GC, albeit in the opposite direction.  Anyway, they quoted me a setup price of only $43+strings, and I figured it was worth the money to have a second set of eyes look at it.

This past weekend I took it there, and, boy, was I surprised.  First off, they noticed within seconds that the intonation was off, and ALSO that the neck was over bowed...which would account for the intonation problems.

Well, when they straightened out the neck to where it should've been, the strings buzzed like crazy.  This was an old issue, and apparently GC's solution was to bow the neck instead of leveling the frets.  Nothing they did could help the buzzing, without sending it out to have the frets leveled.  While the strings are now tonally better, they're also practically unplayable due to all the buzz.

For me, and the missus, this was/is the last straw.  She called up GC and demanded our money back.  I'll return it, and go buy something else at the Asheville store (Music City).  Why?  Well, they're closer, and also because they didn't charge me anything for the setup since they couldn't do the quality of job they normally do.

On the flipside, GC refuses to refund the money we spent on the additional 3-year warranty, because one of their store clerks didn't place it on the last receipt.

I'm done with Guitar Center.  I know others may like them, but the one in Greensboro is far below standards.  With the way the Store Manager talked to my wife, it's no wonder that their setup technician simply bowed the neck, and tried telling me that all guitars have fret buzz.  Which is B***S***...I've had 5 guitars prior to this one, and none of them buzzed.

Anyway, this is the reason for the delayed pics.  Once I get a new guitar, maybe a Gibson Studio Faded Les Paul, I'll post some.

  • Reading: Children of Hastur
  • Drinking: Cherry Kool-Aid

To Boldly Go...

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 10:49 PM
Stardate 65452.

Howdy, howdy, howdy! First off, Merry / Happy belated Christmas to everyone! Sorry for the delay...wasn't near a PC at all this weekend.

Figured I'd keep ya updated on my Epiphone Les Paul Ultra-III "drama." At this point, I don't know if I'm being too picky about stuff, or I'm just going thru a streak of bad luck.

Anyway, late last week, we got the call that my replacement U3 had finally arrived from Florida. So, early Christmas Eve, the missus and I drove back out to Greensboro to pick it up.

Obviously, the first thing I tested was the built-in tuner. And, w00t!, this one worked! The action is slightly higher than the previous one, but it's not so high to be unplayable. I'm already getting used to it. I'm guessing this was done to eliminate the fret buzz that the other one had. The 6th string still buzzes a little bit, but it's a LOT LESS than the last one.

While I was there, I traded in my Vox VT40+ for a Peavey Vypyr 75. There was nothing wrong with the Vox. In fact, it sounded great! I just couldn't get used to having the controls on the top, towards the rear of the amp...every time I'd go to change a setting, I'd have to lean the amp forward so I could see what I was doing. It was getting to the point that I wasn't looking forward to playing, so I knew it had to go. I think I'll be MUCH happier with the Vypyr.

After we got home, I made a more detailed inspection of the U3. What I found are some DIFFERENT quality issues that the previous U3 didn't have. For starters, the nut seems to be too short, width-wise, or at least not centered properly (you can see / feel it on one side). The latter means that the first string is slightly closer to the edge of the guitar than it should be. Obviously, it's not much, but it's a bit more tedious to play some songs, until / if I get used to it. Oh, and there may be a burr on the 3rd "pops" when tuning it (gonna try loosening it up, and rubbing some graphite in there, to see if that helps).

Additionally, the door to the battery compartment on the back is...bent?...warped?...not sure how to describe it. It doesn't fit flush, and was difficult to latch because of this.

Finally, there's a pinhead sized burr / indentation on the back of the neck. Like it was bumped up against something. I didn't notice this until I started playing some barre chords. And I don't know of any way to sand / file that down without ruining the finish on the neck.

While we were at GC, we chatted with the sales person, Odie. He told us that the Midnight Sapphire U3 is the "rarest" of the U3 line, and that the US wasn't expecting another shipment of them until March or April.

Right now I'm torn...should I just deal with it, or should I request another one, and piss off the guys at GC? Gonna talk it over with the missus in the morning. I could tell that the assistant manager was fed up with it / us...his attitude was completely different than when we initially picked up the first one. I'm not sure if I want to prolong that.

P.S. New pics will be forthcoming in a few days. Promise!

  • Reading: Wolverine: Lifeblood
  • Drinking: Wyler's Light: Cool Raspberry

Still Waiting...

Journal Entry: Wed Nov 23, 2011, 10:22 PM

Am still waiting for my replacement Les Paul Ultra-III.  I think I only have about a week or two to go...I hope, anyway.

Found what looks to be a really nice brass bridge & brass tailpiece at StewMac, but am unsure how / if it would affect the chromatic tuner in the bridge pickup.  I think the brass hardware would sound cool through the Nanomag pickup, but I don't want to jeopardize the functionality of any of the other hardware.  So...I guess I wait for someone else to make the mod first, and hope that they post their results.

I've also decided to finally let my personal site die.  The domain expires at the end of this year, and I'm just going to let it lapse.  No one's been there in months, so what's the point of having it?  If I find I have the need / desire to open another forum again, I can always do so sometime in the future.  The annual fee to keep it running isn't exactly going to break me.  Still, it'll be nice to add this year's renewal fee to Christmas Gifts.

Been working on a basic tune the last few weeks.  I kinda like it, and even have it getting stuck in my mother-in-law's head every now and then.  LOL  This last week I came up with a slight variation...not sure if I prefer it over the original or not, and there's no clear-cut decision at home.  Maybe someday I'll record a couple clips and see what others around here and / or the Epiphone forums think.  Maybe.

Hope everyone has a pleasant Thanksgiving!  :D

  • Reading: Krondor: Tear of the Gods
  • Drinking: Pink Lemonade

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 6, 2011, 11:30 PM
Ugh.  I made a n00b mistake when I picked up my Les Paul: I assumed that the Guitar Center technician had tested everything when he set it up (for $60, it should have been a no-brainer!).

Alas, he did not...When I got it home, I found out that the built-in Chromatic Tuner didn't work.  It muted the output like it was supposed to, but none of the LEDs lit up at all.

After calling GC (which is 2.5 hours away, one way), they told me to keep it as a loaner, and they'd get another one in ASAP...mainly because I was smart enough to purchase their no-hassle 3-year warranty.

A month later, my wife goes to swap them out...I was home sick, for all practical purposes.  I gave her a list of things to look for, and she went with a neighborhood kid that also plays.  Well, the first thing they looked at was the tuner.  YAY!  This one lit up! didn't recognize any of the strings.  In other words, it was broken as well.

So, she brought the original back home, and now I'm waiting on GC to get another one in.  Ugh.  I hope they thoroughly test the new one, BEFORE we drive out there!!

The Assistant Manager has promised to compensate us for the trouble, so it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with.  Any ideas??

  • Reading: The Son of Neptune
  • Drinking: Cool Raspberry