Friday, September 21, 2012

David Lindley

    If you don't know who David Lindley is, don't feel bad, I was late to the game too. This guy is an amazing musician. I notice his name popping up all over the place, sitting in with bands, performing at festivals and fronting his own band El Rayo-x. Check out this video of him playing lap steel with G.E. Smith. This is a fine example of the art of playing a lap steel. The level of technical ability is off the chart, the accuracy is amazing, and the soul he plays it with is unmatched in my opinion. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Before and After

 This is a Gene Leis 910T that I purchased on eBay about a year ago. The price was right for a vintage tube amp, and I figured it couldn't be as bad as it appeared in the ad. I was wrong! It arrived from California, and was a total piece of crap. The cabinet was made of particle board, and it showed all of the use and abuse it had taken since new in the mid sixties. Someone had treated it to a terrible rattle can stripe job, that had less fore thought, than me pressing the buy it now button one late night after one too many PBR's. So I collected myself and came to terms  with the fact it was approaching 50 years old, and it only mattered how it sounded. I took a guitar out to the garage, to give it a test run. As I carried my guitar out to the garage, I anxiously anticipated the sweet vintage tones from an amp of this age. As I turned it on, and plugged in my guitar, I was treated to 110 volts of electricity through the instrument jack. I nearly dropped my guitar, and this piece of junk had zapped me of all the joy and excitement I had while unpacking it. I was pissed. I pushed it under my work bench and went inside. After several weeks of walking past it, I figured I needed to get it looked at, and try to salvage my investment. I made a call to Chuck Mathes (www.mathesamplification) and he agreed to check it out. I dropped it off with a brief recount of my experience, and told him to call me when he knew what the damage was. I left and put it as far out of my mind as possible. 3-4 weeks went by, and I got a message from Chuck saying the amp was repaired. He added a grounded AC cord, cleaned the pots, recapped it, and adjusted the tone stack a little to improve the overall tone of the amp. I picked up the amp, and headed home with renewed excitement to test it out. This time around I wasn't shocked as I plugged into it. It made noise, and I was almost satisfied. It just looked so bad I couldn't stand it. Back under the bench it went. About 3 months ago, I was clearing out some unused stuff to eBay, and I figured I would put this amp up and hope someone would grab it in a moment of weakness, like I did. Unfortunately no takers on 2 rounds of eBay, so was feeling stuck with this thing. I figured if I was stuck with it, I had no choice but to clean it up, and try to make it useful. I talked to a wood worker friend of mine, and he agreed to build a replica cabinet for me, made out of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood. We changed the design of the back of the cabinet a little to make access to the tubes and speakers easier, and he took the cabinet to get the rest of the dimensions. While he worked on that, I worked on cleaning the blue paint off the face plate of the amp, the only piece I planned to reuse. After an evening of scrubbing, and a quart of Acetone, I had removed 99% of the blue paint. Luckily, most of the original lettering was still in good shape, and I was starting to get excited about it again. The amp had the worst power on indicator lamp, and I couldn't stand it. I gave the amp back to Mathes after drilling the chassis out for a Fender style jewel light, and he wired it in. The cabinet was done now and just needed to be wrapped in tolex and new grill cloth. I liked the idea of a different color than black, so I wrapped it in blue tolex with a black and gray grill cloth. I noticed when I tore the amp apart to replace the cabinet, that the speaker was either shot, or a clapped out piece of junk. I had a 10" speaker, so I installed it during assembly of the amp. It sounds as good as it looks now. One feature this amp has that's really cool, is the dual instrument inputs. One input allows full volume of the amp, and the other input drops the over all volume allowing the tube overdriven sounds to come through at a lower volume. Thanks to Chuck and Gary for their help getting this thing useable again. It's ready for another 50 years of use.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How vacuum tubes are made

Ok, I've been talking about upgrades I'm making to my tube based 2 channel stereo, and I ran across this video. From a manufacturing viewpoint, this is really labor intensive and insane to imagine how they can train employees to build these things with any consistent quality. From a tube audio fans view point this is really cool. Tubes were built by the thousands starting in the 1930's and were vital components to almost everything built (TV's to airplane electronics) till the 1960's when solid state became the new standard. Enjoy the video. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eastman E10OM

 OK, so about 3 months ago I was in Lawrence, KS at a music store called Mass Street Music. I was killing some time while they did a set up on my Martin D-16 (I'll post some pictures of that soon) and I played a few guitars they had. This Eastman brand was one of the many I had in my hands that day. They stock a lot of guitars, and I was able to hack away on some high end Taylor's, Martin's and Collings guitars. Collings are unbelievable guitars and the fit and finish are world class. They are hand made one at a time by craftsmen here in the USA, and it shows. The salesman at Mass used to work at Collings and was a wealth of information on the guitars and the company. Needles to say at over $5000 each, I didn't keep it in my hands long for fear of scratching it or something. One guitar I did pick up several times was an Eastman E10OM. The body is slightly smaller than my Martin, and it just felt perfect. The sound was really big and bold for the smaller size guitar, and this is because of the special wood top made from Adirondack Spruce, and mahogany sides and back. It's all solid wood construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finish are stunning. It's a hand built beauty at a fraction of the cost of the Collings. I left Mass Street that day without the E10OM. As 2 months passed, I continued to drool over this model on their website. Christmas came, and my thoughtful wife gave me a gift card to Mass St. Music, and that was all it took. I called up the salesman that had helped me that day, and bought one. It arrived 2 day later, fully set up and ready to play. I couldn't be happier. Mass is hands down the coolest guitar shop I've ever been to, and the people that work there are great. Check them out on the web at it's on my favorites list for sure. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finishing up the new interconnects

 Here are the completed interconnect cables for my phono stage preamp (record player), and for my preamp to amps. I cut them to fit, and they look clean.
So before I installed them in my system, I gave them a quick check with the ohm meter and then hooked them up to an extra CD player I have, for 50 hours of break in. I know, it seems like witchcraft or something, but that break in time makes a difference. If I wasn't so impatient I would have run them in for 100 hours. While they were breaking in, I installed an upgrade to my amps, to refine the sound a bit. Once the upgrade was complete, and the cables were run in, I assembled it for a listen. I ran through a few albums to test the modifications and cables. I only have a turntable hooked up right now. First up was Nirvana Unplugged, it was very engaging, and I listened to several songs twice while rolling a couple different tubes through the amps to check the sonic differences. Then I listened to a couple songs off the new Slash album to really give the changes a workout. Last, I finshed up with side 2 of ZZ Top Fandango. This might be the best group of songs on any ZZ top album. It was killer to say the least. Phase 3 is up next, an upgrade to the phono stage preamp.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Phase 1 of my tube stereo system upgrades

So I have rearranged my system resulting in the need for new cables. I like to build my own interconnects and speaker cables. It's a huge saving over paying for premium cables, and I think these are actually better cables. The other big thing, is they are all custom length so I can minimized the excess cable hanging and laying every where. These bulk cables feature 22 gauge .9999 oxygen free copper conductors with copper shield wire over the top. The jacket has a really nice feel to it, and it's really flexible. Time to fire up the soldering iron and get it done. Watch for phase 2 where I will install an upgrade in my tube amps.    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Time for something new in the project pile

I'm looking for a 54 Chevy 2 door in original condition. I would consider any 2 door , so long as the body is original and not rusted to pieces. This is what has me fired up. If you know where there is any old iron sitting, let me know. The right car has to be out there somewhere.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bring on the BBQ !!

 Pork "butts" with a dry rub, and cooked low and slow over hardwood lump charcoal. I cooked these for 17 hours. We pulled them apart and they were crazy tender and moist. The "bark" on the outside combined with the moist tender meat makes for an unbeatable flavor. 
Beef Brisket "burnt ends" cooked over hardwood lump charcoal. This only took 6 hours to cook. It was the point of a brisket that I saved from a (packer) brisket cook the weekend before. I have never tasted beef as tender and moist as this. It was delish to say the least.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feels like a Tom Waits day today

"Look how he worked around the hinge" !!!  That's funny! Unbelievable musician, and funny as hell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here's some XS650 goodness. This guy has it going on!

I can't wait to get mine done! Rephase means the timing of the crank rotation is changed. In stock form the crank is set to have one piston at top dead center, and the other piston at bottom dead center. With the rephased crank, one piston is at top dead center, and the other is at mid stroke. The result is a smoother running motor that responds to throttle changes much quicker. Now I just need to find some time to finish it up. I hope to be popping wheelies by spring time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let's get this started

I'm likely going to post a random collection of thoughts and interests. Hopefully anyone stumbling on to this blog will find something of interest, or something that peaks their curiosity. To get this started, I'm posting a picture one of my buddies sent me from Sturgis last night as I was going to bed. Look at all that PBR. Enjoy!