Well once again its been how long?? I've been pretty productive over the last year and a quater but I shifted my focus from playing, writing and recording to finishing the Luthier shop and as is typical I tend to under estimate the task at hand and where I expected to have already finished the inital run of stringed instruments I find myself still engaged in building and acquiring the tool to do it correctly. I hope Saint Nick is kind and by Christmas I will have the ability A to Z to complete all the processes involved in string instrument construction. I still play most every day and I have several tunes that if I disciplined myself I could put down on paper and record and I plan in the dead of winter 2011 to do that. I added significant insulation to the shop this fall and I've fired up the corn stove and it stays comfortably warm but until retirement years (3 to go) when I can keep it going 24/7 I will relegate my shop time to weekends and warmer weather. I'll post a photo essay of progress in the shop over the Christmas holiday.
Jeff is in 2nd year graduate school and has had a very, very, very busy semester. Selected as principal bassist for the WMU orchestra and bassist for the world renouned Gold Company as well as playing performances with area symphonies Jeff now has a better feel for what life as a preforming musician is all about. He will be playing at the Lincoln Center in NYC next semester with Gold Company and we plan to travel to see the performance.
Mat graudated Canton High with an advanced regents diploma and is attending Canton college with a degree track for a BS in IT and web development. Mat has been playing acoustic guitar for over a year and has a great sense of rythem. The drum kit is still set up but Mat and his band mates all seem to be very busy and the band is on hold for now. Mat also works 3 days a week to earn money while in college at the local supermarket.
Judy is still working part time at the hospital and pationate as ever about her botanical art. Well that is about it for now stop back after Christmas and I promise to have something more interesting to show-----Greg
Well its been a while and the winter is winding down--probably the hardest winter in a long time and I have to confess I have not been very productive. Hopefully with the advent of spring things will change. My work place went to a 4 day week because of the economic situation and as such I was expecting to become more productive at home but with the longer work days and trying to scrunch 5 days of work into 4 winds up leaving me a bit burnt. With longer days and more sunshine lets hope for more energy. With regards to music I concentrated the last 4 months or so on trying to learn to play better and I have been reading tablature and working on a classical arrangement of "Georgia on My Mind" and a Jazz chord arrangement of "If I only Had a Brain" (Wizard of OZ). I also played for some social occassions that went OK. I hope to record at least three of my own tunes this spring and I have been working to fit a guitar part/melody to some lyrics titled (Summer) provided by Keith MacDonnell. I wil be moving more aggresively to get the luthier shop up and producing this spring so look for up dates. My family is doing well, Jeff is finishing student teaching and graduates in May from Fredonia University and has been accepted for Graduate studies at 4 universities and is now deciding which is his best option He was offered an assistantship that would cover tuition and pay a sum of money beyond that by Ohio State University and a similar offer by University of New Mexico so far. Jazz performance is what he plans to get his Masters in and is talking about Doctural level after that! Mat is a junior in high school and has started to entertain college and at this point the consideration is to go to Canton college for 2 years and then transfer--he is thinking maybe psychology. Mat is doing well with precussion and is the primary precussionist in the Jazz band and band. Next year he will play with the Jazz combo as well. Currently he is playing in the pit band for the high school play Grease. Judy is still working on her watercolor painting and improves on each new piece. So that is about it I have been thinking about redoing the whole website and condensing it to about 3 pages so that is a goal I hope to achieve by years end. So here is a demo sample of Summer. And here is a sample of a tune I'm working on Sally
I finished 3 songs since last update Little Mary, Good Times and Dance the Night Away. I was Ok with the tunes and I have several more I would like to get to before years end. I have been preoccupied with the shop for some months. I prettty much finished building a wood duplicator and a buffing machine as well as rebuilding a pneumatic drum sander. I'm in close reach of having the compliment of tools I feel are essentials for building stringed instruments. I was hoping to have arrived by spring in a position to be able to start building some prototypes but there is still a bit more preperation and setup. I will keep working until all the needed cutters and jigs are at hand. I will need to build up an inventory of lumber and that is my goal for 09. Ash, Maple, Mahagony, Spruce, Rosewood, Ebony and a variety of other figured woods will need to be built up in a quanity and amount to allow some freedom for designs. Electronics, tuners, hardware and strings etc. will also need to be purchased so you can see this is a costly endeavor but its within reach. I will be updating the wood/luthier shop page in the near future I've added already a subpage for the wood duplicator and I will update on some of the new tool acquisitions. On a family note--Jeff had a pretty successful year at the Fredonia School of Music and will be student teaching next year - he is teaching at the Infinity School for the Preforming Arts in Jamestown for the summer. Mat did well with several school ensembles including the school pit band on precussion and won an award for the most improved band member. Judy completed her course work for the London UK School of Art in Botanical Illistration and had work accepted at the Gibson Gallery SUNY Potsdam. She has work featured on North Country Public Radio
Well I had an opportunity to go back and work on the tune Little Mary. I had anticipated just letting it be as is but some suggestions from Keith made sense so I revised it a bit resulting in a shorter version with a rethink on some of the parts so here it is Little Mary version 2 . I have made a few site changes adding texture back grounds to some pages (not certain if I like them all). Also I have added a page for the Ferdonia Jazz Ensemble (non curricular) this is the jazz group Jeff had been playing with for the last several months and the recordings are ones my brother recorded for me at Bellport High School the last performance of the 2008 tour for the group-- I encourage everyone to give a listen these guys are really good.
2008 is off to a cold start! Probably the most snow and reminisent of winters when we first moved north. I just finished a version of a tune called LITTLE MARY with lyics by Keith MacDonnell and a bit of tweaking by me but the credit goes to Keith. I could have refined this further but decided to just let it stand as is for the time until I can get a better studio setting with "QUIET" and "TIME" to do it more correctly. This the first tune I recorded using the computer with a MOTU "pre8" interface and Cubase SX-3. A bit of a learning curve for me just to figure how to create tracks and mix down so take that into consideration. Little Mary MP3
Little Mary was recorded playing my new Morgan Monroe acoustic ---nice guitar but the string spacing is a little tight for finger style but I figured I try it any way --- I play this tune allot more easily on my Epiphone or Larivee--- mics are Octava MK319 for vocals and AKG c1000 for guitar as well as a lavalier audio technica on the sound hole of the guitar.
Jeff has done well at the Fredonia school of music. He has enjoyed much more opportunity to play with participation in the Fredonia Symphony and the opportunity to be the bassist with the Fredonia Jazz Ensemble both cirricular and non cirricular. The non cirricular ensemble has just finished a tour across New York state promoting Jazz as an art form as well as music education and performance as a career path. My brother George recorded the groups final performance of the tour at Bellport High School on 1-18-08 so I'm hopeful that I will have some samples of the groups performance soon.
George continues to add some nice gear to his already 1st rate studio gear and I hope this summer to get to visit to get an update.
The Luthier shop is progressing with the addition of a resaw bandsaw and soon a wood duplicatior that will make it possible to produce instruments with arched tops and backs --- look for an update in the spring!
I thought I would post some pics of my newest additions to my guitar collection (Johnson and Morgan Monroe-000 body style guitars). Both the guitars are of China manufacture --- surprise??? Well both are solid wood construction and the workmanship is fine. The argument re: US name acoustic brand guitars ie: Gibson, Martin,Taylor, Guild vs the imports from Asia is becoming in my view harder to defend-- there is no doubt that Martin and Gibson are building some of the best instruments they have ever built but the price is out of many players reach. For me I like to keep several guitars tuned differently and I also like a variety of body styles and neck shapes, different scale lengths, and tone woods. To get the variety that I enjoy in US solid wood construction guitars I would be looking at an investment of 10 to 20 thousand dollars I would estimate. My collection I would estimate, is about 5 thousand including the electrics I own. The down side of cheaper imports--- they usually come with poor or little set up done but its not a terrible difficult thing to learn to set up a guitar properly and since guitars are not static its a very beneficial skill to learn. I have played a number of high end US manufacture guitars that had very poor play action --usually the owner was afraid to even tweak the truss rod not to entertain the thought of filing the saddle/nut or frets to get the guitar to play more easily or to correct intonation. Anyway the two new guitars are fairly decent, the Morgan Monroe in my opinion could go head on with guitars in the 1,500.00 to 2,000.00 range no problem and its the best I've come across costing 549.00 the Johnson was a bit less at about 450.00-- The Johnson is pretty decent with a stockier V neck which I like and very nice abolone and mother of pearl inlays, but I like the Morgan Monroe better-- rosewood and ebony-- my favorites. The only thig I would have liked better is a shorter scale lenght 24.5 to 24.9 would have been nice! I hope to do some recording this fall with these guitars and I'll post them when completed.
Morgan Monroe-000 body style
Johnson-000 body style
Several changes over the last 9 months . Jeff has transferred to the music education program at SUNY Fredonia which is a 6 hour drive from Canton. He had a good summer working for SUNY Potsdam for their IT department, he performed with the Orchestra of Northern New York, the All Star Big Band, the Radio Bob Band, and did some recording with his friend Kyle Upper as well as some jamming with his jazz friends. We are looking forward to the new connections he will develop and broadening his talents at Fredonia. For myself I've been a bit stagnant with recording and writing but I hope to get back to it this fall. I've rekindled with some interest getting my shop organized and postured to do construction of stringed instruments. I anticipate by next spring to have everything completed. I've built a Charles Fox side bender for bending guitar sides this summer and a scarf jig for making guitar necks. There are several other jigs I want to complete before actually starting to build instruments as well as restoring and adding new tools with more specific application for Luthier tasks.. In October I hope to post a photo tour of the shop and the progress. I had a problem with my favorite guitar the Epiphone AJ -500RC the bridge glue was beginning to fail and a reglue was needed so I decided to learn to do this myself and was successful in resetting and gluing the bridge. I have been doing allot of set up study and have set up two new guitars with pretty decent action and play. Johnson 000 all solid wood guitar with a Mahogany body and a Morgan Monroe 000 with Rosewood are the two new guitars, the Johnson has a nice inlay in the head stock and the Morgan Monroe has ebony bridge and fingerboard with a nice herringbone binding as well as being all solid wood construction. I've purchased a new Motu interface to record directly to the computer and Jeff built me a new computer for recording. Its been a goal to get out and play and to that end I purchased a 300 watt Kustom PA so there is lots to do. Mat has picked up a bit more interest in percussion and will be part of the Jazz Band for the high school program this year. Thats it in a nut shell ---check back in a few weeks for more updates.
A new song is posted on my Mp3 page with lyrics written by Keith MacDonnell the tune is done in two versions; the one posted here is a simple guitar and vocal track with a nylon stringed classical guitar used for the guitar solo. The second version has a second vocal part for the chorus and a fretless bass track but otherwise its the same tune. CLICK below to hear the mp3 sample.
Greg--A new page has been added for a more portable recording set up. MicroTrack 24/96 is a new digital stereo recorder with some nice features for a handheld pocket recorder. I think most would agree its a step-up from a mini disk recorder. I've posted 3 of the 4 tunes I recorded in fall of 05 plus 2 additional tunes on the newly added MicroTrack page. I'm into a mode at present where I prefer to record simple 2 track vocal -guitar tunes. I've always admired singer-songwriters that can pull it off without backing tracks so I'm trying to work on that ability (probably falling short on the goal but working on it). I have about a half dozen drift dream diddles floating in my head that I will work on committing to some semblance of a tune. The Bass Shop is now a heated space and plans are underway for two projects over spring and summer---a second EUB with an acoustic body and an electric bass. I will be working with Jeff on the electric bass to see if we can build a high end instrument and for the EUB I want to build it for both my use and Jeff's. As I am not a double bass player I'm entertaining placing position markers on the side of the fingerboard as it's a bit of a learning curve to learn finger position placement intuitively. I also plan some guitar repair (Jeff dropped my Tacoma due to a faulty stap design on the case and the top cracked pretty bad). The Martin D-28 I started years ago is still waiting for completion as well!!!
George -- has been working on his studio space and soon will have a completed dedicated "recording shed" which will compliment his great collection of gear. Any artists in the NY -Long Island area looking for higher end recordings should contact George. November of 05 bought together 3 members of the Smubbs at Georges' studio. The gathering put down some tracks along with a younger brother from the original band members Rick and Mike Segall. The tunes had definite Smubbs overtones as Rick Segall still has the good writing talents he had in the 60s and 70s. I will have to clarify if I can post any of this material as its the property of Rick Segall.
Jeff -- is back at Crane focusing on his classical music studies and completion of his "Level" to be able to move onto student teaching next year- admittedly he is not certain classical music is his thing and we will see ----it may be time to consider a different road possible transfer to Berkley or another school of music. Jeff has been working on recording with his acoustic rock band UPNORTH (see UpNorth page) at Clarkson University in their new recording facility. Jeff is very much into the new approach of digital recording using software programs and recording to a computer based system ie: Protools -Cubase- etc. The band will open for the Clarkson spring festival concert April 8th-2006 featuring the band "Sister Hazel" hopefully I will be able to record with the MicroTrack-24/96 a sample from that concert but the auditorium is a bit boomy ---we will see!
A week off and bit of time to get caught up some projects the tune I started some months ago "Trouble Soon Be Over" is done but I've re titled it "Walk As Friends" it was inspired by similar tunes by Jeff Muldar and Bruce Hornsby but enough change to make it my own statement. Jeff did not do the bass tracks as I had hoped to busy with his own music and school/work. Basic tracks were recorded on the Tascam 788 but for some reason I decided to add the bass track and back ground vocal using Cool Edit Pro/Adobe Audition with input into the computer through my Echo Audio Gina interface. I withdrew the tune "What's the Matter With the Boy" to redo the electric guitar and background vocal as I really did not care for them. I have the woodworking shop finished (almost) but due to high prices for heating fuels and and a depleted budget I will wait a few months to per sue EUB and guitar construction projects. Jeff will be playing the EUB prototype with the Crane Jazz band next week Oct-19th and I hope to get some sound clips and photos for the site. The new Epiphone is a fantastic guitar and I hope to get going with more focus on a winter project of 3 or 4 new tunes. I still have to finish the tune Going to Saint Louis I think it about done but I have not visited it in a few months and that will be my focus for the remainder of the Fall along with revisions to "What's the Matter with the Boy"--later Greg
This past summer Greg started a project building and electric upright bass. The project started in earnest in late August and was interrupted by a vacation trip to Boston and the return of Jeff back to college and Mat starting 8th grade at Canton school as well as getting myself back to work. The bass was finished mid September (see the EUB page) and came out OK for a first instrument. The focus is now turned back towards finishing the 4 songs I started in the late spring -one tune is finished -one I want to redo the lead guitar and harmony part (What's the Matter with the Boy). The two remaining songs need bass, harmony and lead guitar parts added. Hopefully with my revised schedule I'll have them done by mid October so I can start thinking about a winter project; I have a few chord progressions and some finger picking diddle things I've been kicking around.
I plan to finish my shop space this fall (an ever ongoing scheme) which includes a heating source/system and some finish work setting up the shop and making it a space I could work in during the winter months. I don't know about heating it this winter with the cost of fuel projected to be so high. I will be moving on to build a couple more Electric Uprights with a spring date projected for completion.
As far as other recording projects --Jeff asked If I would record his new group UP NORTH -- I'm not certain if this is something I'm up to but I will entertain the thought and talk more with Jeff about it. The group existed before Jeff joined this fall and consists of three other members all from Clarkson University (those wicked smart kids). We attended their 1st performance with Jeff at the university 9-24. The group is probably re guarded as the the best in the area doing acoustic rock and is extremely popular with the college students. UP NORTH does a mix of cover tunes and original tunes. OOB Jeff's' other group did their own recording project recently which is an improvement in quality over the mini disc recordings I posted on this site as a sampling of the group. I plan to post at least one of the tunes from the OOB recordings soon. Jeff is also playing 4th chair in the Crane Symphony and splitting the bass position for the Crane Jazz Band. OOB still plays on occasions however some of the band members also play in other jazz groups with different bass players.
I have a new member to my guitar family an Epiphone AJ 500rc 12 fret. This is a nice guitar for the money and my perspective is its getting more difficult for the names typically associated with quality guitars ie: Martin, Taylor, Gibson to compete. The quality of the Epiphone is flawless and is built in the new Epiphone Masterbuilt Factory in China with state of the art equipment and its just is a sweet guitar. Rosewood body and slotted head stock and joined at the 12th fret; it so far looks to be a solid guitar. I look forward to playing it as each guitar I own has a certain character that lends itself differently for writing.
George will hopefully be doing some recording tunes with his old friends and band mates brothers Rick and Mike Segall. George has expanded his studio to have a tracking room and and the old Sony (1 inch Reel to Reel is functional ) along with all of Georges" newer digital equipment the studio is posturing to be able able to handle a variety of projects.
George has acquired a Sony Reel to Reel -8 track machine (1 inch tape) which I understand was and is the thing to have, this was the recorder the original Smubbs recordings were done on and George is working on getting the machine back to its original specs to function as new and re master the old Smubbs recording some of which have never been heard. Looking forward to hearing them re mastered and preserved!!
What's new with Greg?
Well the 4 new tunes begun in spring of 2005 are half completed. Two of the songs are pretty well in their final version although I may remix or edit them some or perhaps redo or add another track. The sort of completed tunes are posted on Greg's mp3 page in the number 1 and 2 positions and the tunes are "What's Come Over You" and "What's the Matter With the Boy". The two remaining tunes are pretty well under way "Trouble Soon Be Over" is waiting for Jeff to add a bass track and "Going to Saint Louis" is waiting for me to decide what the second guitar track should be or if there should even be one at all. The basic vocal and bass track are done and it still needs a harmony part.
The 2005 song project list was:
1. What's the Matter With the Boy.
2. Trouble Soon Be Over.
3. Going to Saint Louis.
4. What's Come Over You.
Studio 2. where most of the new tracks were recorded on the Tascam 788. While not as intuitive and user friendly as the Akai DPS-16 in my primary studio it still pretty good with some nice features.
Tascam 788 an 8 track recorder capable of 24/96 resolution recording and 6 track simultaneous recording --linked to a Tascam 8x burner it allows burning final mix or backup of wav. file data.
The pull out shelf makes for easy fast set up. The shelf is concealed by a fold up panel when not in use.
What's new with George? recently he has met with former Smubbs band member/friend Rick Segall and George has obtained tapes of old Smubbs recordings which he has re-recorded/mastered, it was also learned that there are additional recordings still in the possession of the Smubbs producer and some effort to obtain those recordings is being made. The Smubbs played some great rock in the late 60s and early 70s; it would be a treat to hear some of those tunes again. It's not clear about the legality of posting those tunes well have to see ---lets hope. Smubbs recordings are still surprisingly something that can be found pretty regularly on E-Bay for those that might be interested. Stay tuned.
Smubbs release -- Japan----- adjacent pic 45 rpm release
Smubbs release US version--
Georges web-page is up at the address of www.bgutter.com check it out.