Glissentar Strings

The instrument I play the most these days is my Godin Glissentar. Since it’s fretless, and the positions are so much closer together than on bass, it requires much more precision and attentiveness from me to get good intonation; and frequent playing. I REALLY love playing it though. Getting the glissentar was the best thing I ever did. I wish I’d heard of this wonderful invention of Robert Godin’s sooner! It is perfectly suited for the exact styles I’ve been trying to incorporate into my more electric playing over the past decade: Indian stylings, middle eastern influences, delta blues bits like I often use my resonator with a ceramic slide to get. And the glissentar sounds very much like a guitar with a slide. The only thing I’m not real thrilled about on the glissentar is how with the standard glissentar strings the top 2 courses are a bit dull sounding and don’t sustain NEARLY enough. It’s like they are getting muted out ½ second after sounding, like the slots in the the nut are perhaps too deep. I adapted my playing to this by using the top 2 courses for staccato notes. One other annoying thing about the standard Glissentar strings is the incessant stretching – the Glissentar strings never seem to break in; classical strings do tend to be this way: stretch stretch stretch [hence go out of tune, out of tune, out of tune] but it’s WAY worse with the standard Glissentar strings.

But I saw something about a month back on Unfretted.com , and I saw that some Glissentar players just SWEAR by Thomastik-Infeld KR116 Classic S Series classical strings rather than standard glissentar strings. These are unusual classical strings, the bass strings have: a rope core (nylon with steel fibers) with flat silver windings over the core; and the treble strings have: a rope core (nylon with steel fibers) with flat nylon windings over that. These are $34 a set, so to string a glissentar (since it has 11 strings) with these take 2 sets = $68. That’s not cheap!  But I like the sound of the standard strings just fine except for the top 4 . So…. I tried swapping out the top 2 courses for an .016 and .024 KR116 and these sounded GREAT. They sound like steel strings – like an oud, or sitar, or sarod should, and they sustained and didn’t deaden out. But I did find that after a couple days the top 2 strings did begin to deaden out (not sustaining) a bit. Nothing bad though. The neck could use a hair more relief in it, or the slots in the nut for string 1&2 not being quite so deep. But before I do that I want to try using an .024 for string 1&2 and .025 for 3&4, so  I ordered a couple more KR116s from the good folks at Strings By Mail . These will sit a bit higher in the nut slot. I don’t think the little bit more tension will be a problem. But all in all – even with the .016s and .024s these are still a GREAT improvement and I’m very pleased. and are just what the Dr. ordered, I’m just trying to optimize that a bit now. Updates to follow.

Check out these safe, quality, wood toys that will last from generation-to-generation!

Check out these safe, quality-made (of Canadian wood) toys that will last for generations – like those of a bygone era, made by a Dharma Brother of mine:

http://www.thorpetoys.com/

Quality Canadian Wood Toys from Thorpe Toys

Thorpe Toys is a family-run Canadian business that has been making high-quality wooden toys for over 30 years.

Founded by Jerry and Rosemary Thorpe in 1975, our toys have always been hand-crafted in Waterloo, Ontario from our own, original designs. Many of our designs are based on traditional wooden toys played with and loved by our parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

We make a wide variety of wooden toys for all ages ranging including boats, planes, swings and trains.  We also have traditional learning toys such as our Mouse & Cheese which teaches hand-eye coordination.  Toys like our balloon-powered boat teaches basic scientific principles. And learning about the environment and ecosystem is easier with Thorpe Toys flower presses and bug boxes.  Of course we also have traditional and retro games of skill.

Thorpe Toys are made from Canadian woods and are left unpainted and unfinished. Leaving our toys free from paint, stain, varnish and oils, allows us to provide your children with safe, non-toxic, BPA-free and eco-friendly toys.  It also means you and your child can bring your own personality and imagination to customizing the toys anyway you want.

Of course, you can always leave Thorpe Toys unfinished, they just get better with play!

Thorpe Toys uses high-quality new wood in all our toys.  Since the environment and our eco-footprint has always been very important to us, we rescue much of our wood from high-quality new-wood off-cuts that would otherwise have been lost to the waste stream.  We also donate our own off-cuts and sawdust to local schools and farms to reduce our own waste.

Thorpe Toys are fun, durable, and well-loved.  Our toys get passed from child to child, generation to generation. One of the best compliments we get is to hear that another generation is loving Thorpe Toys.

‘After The Cancer, What Now? ? ?’ by Darrell L. Smith Sr.

    I recently made the acquaintance of a very nice guy, Darrell L. Smith Sr. from whom I bought a Telecaster®  body. This is something I was looking for to use in building a baritone tele. The Tele body I got from Darrell had been badly abused and he picked it up, and then he and some helpers proceeded to spend over a month meticulously stripping off the old finish, putting on a nice warm vintage amber nitrocellulose tint, putting on binding, refinishing it very nicely with nitrocellulose lacquer, putting in upgraded hardware where that made sense, and leaving the oem hardware where that made sense. Just a splendid job all the way around. And I got this from him for a VERY fair price.  Here are a couple pics:

top-of-body-curing-10-27-2013back-of-body-curing-10-27-2013 
    This is what Darrell Smith Sr. does, and he does it WELL. Installing binding, refinishing & refurbishing guitars, etc..But Darrell L. Smith Sr. also has an amazing story to tell. 15 years ago, he had colon cancer and the doctors told him there was nothing left to do and that he only had 4 HOURS to live! And by the power of prayer, and the strength of his faith, here he is, still alive and kicking going on 2 decades later! Running a store, refinishing guitars, writing, and justifiably – telling everyone he meets about the real-life miracles he has experienced first hand!

  He wrote a book entitled ‘After The Cancer, What Now? ? ?’ about this:
http://www.amazon.com/After-Cancer-What-Now-Facing/dp/1449733379/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1382911972&sr=8-2&keywords=after+the+cancer%2C+what+now%3F

   -PK

More To Be Done, But Studio Is Up & Running for The Most Part

I still have lots of stuff to do to get my studio ‘done’. But the highest priority items were done first, so it’s quite usable.  Physically, there are still things that haven’t even been moved back into the studio since the flood, I still need to finish wiring up my patchbay (what I’ve been doing is: as I need one of the DSP units in my rack, if that particular unit hasn’t yet been wired in to the patch bay, I do it then.  Software-wise, learning-curve wise, in my new environment, the different applications I’m running make learning this new software a bit of a challenge. If I had just added one application, then waited 6 months before adding the next, that would have made learning things easier. So I am a bit lost on much of it, temporarily. It’ll just take a little time spent working with it.   -PK

    Here’s me sitting at the console:

pat_in_studio_3

Flood Recovery / Renovation of Studio

I was already in the process of rearranging things in my studio when the flood so rudely interrupted that process. But the sewer backup due to the heavy downpour allowed (required actually!) me to get nice new carpet. So we painted the walls to compliment the new carpet color and replaced the old mouldings (baseboards) with new styrene ones. The below pic was after the walls had been painted to some degree of completion, but before the moulding strips had been put in: that’s the new mouldings laying on the tables right there.  -PK 

studio-post-flood_08-20-2013

Flooded Studio

On July 21, torrential rains caused the basements in thousands of homes in my area to flood. And our basement, where my studio is located, was one of them.  Luckily none of my gear was damaged. Just the carpet and an immense amount of stuff needed to be taken out before the floor could be thoroughly cleaned, base of the walls  sprayed with mold mitigation stuff, etc.   – Pat

my-studio-post-flood-2013-07-26_2_sm

my-studio-post-flood-2013-07-22_c2_sm

Making my own waterphone-like device

I’ve been  v e r y  slowly working on the design of, and slowly gathering the parts to make, my own Waterphone-like instrument. This is made all the slower due to my back problems and not getting around so well. So I do a lot of planning and designing, but not so much actual getting out and getting the parts I need. If you don’t know what a Waterphone is, you HAVE heard them before, at the very least, used in scary movie sound effects. A number of sounds can be made with them: the rods can be bowed, struck with a rubber mallet, the ball end of a superball mallet can be pushed against the bottom diaphragm (kind of like pushing your finger along the outside of a balloon, giving a sound similar to the farty sort of outcry the balloon makes (but much more musical); on a Waterphone, due to the moving water in the base, it gives a modulating sound, it can make sounds pretty similar to whales calls, etc.) . Here is a link that shows the most typical sounds Waterphones are are used for:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppzNFJYSaO0 . An actual Waterphone (patent#3896696) is an instrument designed by Richard Waters, what do you know?)  There are a number of companies that make knock-offs, but none are truly at the level of the real thing. BUT the real thing sell for $2500+ so i’ll just have to live with my hillbilly version. I originally got a pie pan and a cake pan to use as an upper and lower diaphragm respectively. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any that were stainless steel; everything was steel that was coated with some type of non-stick material, which I feared would A. deaden the steel material’s resonance and B. melt off in ugly fashion once I start brazing it. And the steel material would have the tendency to rust. But, unable to find any viable other options, these are what I got. And I drew up a template of where to put the holes, etc. based on one of these pans, and scribed marks where to make cuts, etc. But luckily, I made a trip out to the drug store yesterday and I just happened to go down an aisle where they had stainless steel stock pots (in 10, 16 and 20 qt sizes). So after looking for a bit to determine if, and how, I could make these fit my purpose, I decided on a 16 quart one. What I think I’m going to need to do is cut away everything but the bottom 1.75″ of the pot, and the top 0.5″ of the pot (so I’ll have the lip), then braze that .5″ section to the 1.75″ section. Having the lip on the pot and the lip on the lid (which I will use upside down so it has a convex shape) will provide a stopping point for the rods (otherwise I fear it’ll be a real pain trying to braze them). I will drill holes (after lightly punching indentations to mark the correct spots to drill) in the lid (which I will call the upper diaphragm from now on) so the rods can go through the upper, but will stop when they hit the lip in the base(which I will call the lower diaphragm from now on). I’ve read where other makers of DIY Waterphone-type instruments used various things as sound rods: pieces of coat-hanger wire, motorcycle spokes,but I’ve pretty much settled on using brazing rods, which are 1/8″ bronze. Unfortunately these come with a coating of flux on them, which I’ll have to melt off with enough heat to melt to flux but not the rods. If I could find correctly sized brass or bronze rods that were affordable (for how many I need) I would get those, so I wouldn’t have to melt off the flux. I have yet to find an affordable piece of stainless steel tubing (about 1.75″ diameter, about 14″ long is what I have in mind) for use as the handle/sound tube. I mean, i CAN find this, just not for a price I’m willing to pay. Many of the plans for DIY waterphone-type devices specify using a hot glue gun to attach the upper and lower diaphragms, and soldering the rods in place. But I’ll braze all the parts together with standard brazing rods using MAP/PRO gas.

My New Ceramic Doumbek!

I’m adding a new drum to my arsenal. am anxiously awaiting arrival of my new hand-made ceramic doumbek lovingly made by the good folks at Full Circle Drums . Mine is a gorgeous large ceramic doumbek, freshly made, glazed, the clay carved, high fired, then skinned with thin goatskin from Pakistan. I had heard that they do a really nice job, and are a great value for what you pay. And now I can confirm that! Look at that carving!

My Large Ceramic Doumbek from Full Circle

My Large Ceramic Doumbek from Full Circle

I also have a Remo SkynDeep ‘fishskin’ pattern head on the way for it. It was always my intention to mount a Skyndeep on it rather than a natural goatskin, due to the drum’s home being my studio in a basement in Wickliffe, Ohio with central A/C (where the humidity ranges from 50-65% over the year. The goatskin may be fine, b u t   since you need a doumbek head quite tight to get crisp Teks and Kas I expect I will eventually need to swap out the goatskin for the Remo.

Pat