Friday, July 07, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #8 Jul 3

This week opens with a summary of what I’ve learned about shipping guitars: if it’s irreplaceable, don’t ship it. But if you have to ship it, well there’s some good advice here. Then we’re on to wood grading issues, odd model questions, pick guard issues and how to use a Shubb Capo.

There are some great case recommendations, inexpensive recording software reviews, and the Problems with Mics discussion really turns into a discussion of recording a noisy environment.

For those interested in performing, Choosing a Song List offers some interesting insights, while the Gigging Setup discussion offers lots of options – too many perhaps? - for what equipment to use when playing live.

To all the forum members in the U.S; have a great 4th holiday. Everyone else; try to look busy.

1. Shipping Guitars
2. Top grading question
3. What is the charge for an ADI top on a custom?
4. Wood Grading number?
5. When did nut and saddle material on standard and Vintage series change from Corian/Micarta to bone?
6. Finnish around the Bridge on a D16 turning yellow!!
7. Earliest Flatpicking Done On A Martin Guitar ???
8. Martin's institution of ONE YEAR WARRANTY!
9. Harmonic resonance - is it a common issue?
10. What’s an HD-28 32?
11. 80's D25k
12. Martin size 7
13. What's a Guitar Center DSM?
14. What warrants a "Custom" stamp?
15. After-market headstock inlay?
16. Why does Martin stain 15 series? do they have to ?
17. Truss rod effect on tone
18. Truss rod wrench
19. Neck pulling away from body...
20. Naptha/Pickguard removal
21. Impression in lacquer left by pickguard
22. Pickgaurd lifting
23. How do you use a Shubb?
24. Whats the best Case?
25. How to choose a song list for a gig
26. K&K do I need a preamp?
27. Recording software
28. What is your Gigging setup?
29. Problems with Mics

Previous issues are archived at

Did I miss anything? Email me any interesting items you think should be included in the next report.

1. Shipping Guitars
There’s been some stuff about shipping guitars later that bares repeating, so here’s a summary. If you’re going to ship a guitar:

REMOVE the endpin.
Don’t use the wrong size case (too small and a minor impact will damage it, too large and it can move about)
If the guitar is non-standard (i.e. side electronics) make sure the case matches it.
Use a proper guitar cardboard box to contain the case, and include enough packing to keep the case secure inside the box.
A second box might enhance protection (but should not be used in place of a good-quality case.)
Don’t use FedEx, use UPS :
Don’t use UPS:
That’s not insurance, that’s declared value (see: Don’t use FedEx)
If you’re selling a guitar, don’t give the purchaser the option of insurance (see: ‘Don’t use UPS)
Remember; shipping a guitar exposes it to some risk. There’s no guarantee, even if you take all possible precautions.

2. Top grading question
Is the highest grade number for the best sitka top # 8? If so, would this be considered Master Grade sitka? Any idea what the $ up-charge would be?

Threadbare Cat: Yes, grade # 8 = premium grade = master grade. The upcharge for Sitka will depend on where you are starting from. If you are starting with a '16' series, which isn't even graded, the upcharge will be about $100-120. If you are starting with a '40' series, which has a 6-7 grade, the upcharge will only be about $40.

3. What is the charge for an ADI top on a custom?

Threadbare Cat: Once again, the upcharge for different top depends on where you are starting from. If the base model normally has a grade #4 Sitka, the upcharge for a different top will be more than for a base model that normally gets a grade #6 Sitka, etc.

Roughly speaking to go to a grade #5-6 red spruce you would expect to pay about $400 more. To go to a grade #8 red spruce the upcharge will be closer to $600 or more. These prices may be old too, as I haven't had any quotes done for a while...

4. Wood Grading number?
I'm trying to find it with a mirror in the guitar, but i'm not sure where it is.

Mac Carter: Way down by the end block.

Lefty00042: Either get a small inspection mirror at an auto supply store or use a small makeup mirror. If you use some small mirror without a handle, you can use it while you have the strings off or slip it between the strings and position it down between the last couple of back braces. If you use something like a makeup compact, you can open it to a shallow angle so that it sits between the braces perfectly.

Shine a small flashlight at the mirror so it will illuminate the top down by the end block. The numerical grade and a code for the wood species is usually visible there. If it's not, it's possible a brace is covering the writing.

5. When did nut and saddle material on standard and Vintage series change from Corian/Micarta to bone?
See this FAQ!:

6. Finnish around the Bridge on a D16 turning yellow!!
Anyone else have this problem on older D16's (Pre Micarta) Dreads? Around the bridge, the finish is a lot more yellow than the rest of the top.

matthewrustThey started using micarta on 16s because the ebony stain was interacting with the gloss top finish. I believe it is covered under warranty.

rt1965: This issue should only be on the GT models. Is your's a GT?

7. Earliest Flatpicking Done On A Martin Guitar ???
Anyone have any ideas on when the first ‘flatpicking’ was done on a Martin guitar? Over the weekend I was watching the 1937 Gene Autry film ‘Oh, Susanna!’ and saw the Lightcrust Doughboys absolutely tear it up on ‘The Tiger Rag’ on a pair of D-18s.

alancline: The Flatpicking Guitar Magazine website has a definition of "Flatpicking" in its FAQ section. It touches on the early pioneers and history of the style.

drlutes: I once saw a painting from c. 1650 of an oud player using what appeared to be a quill, or piece of bone, as a plectrum and understand that it was carried over to at least the Italian mandolin by that time if not long before. An old Egyptian style of oud playing seems to favor plectrums and it could have spread south into sub-Saharan Africe long ago, and into Europe more or less during the Dark Ages, especially during the Crusades.

So both African (banjo) and European (mandolin) techniques incorporated into early American music might have suggested the use of a pick on the guitar. Especially so once the guitar standardized around six single courses and started getting used as an orchestral/band instrument. I always thought that steel strings were fairly recent inventions (19th century) but I've heard recently that drawn metal, perhaps wrapped, strings were produced as early as the Middle Ages.

The American tradition of flatpicking the guitar may have needed the development of better bracing methods and neck reinforcement to handle metal strings, probably in the late 1800's at the earliest, before it could really take-off and be shown to its best advantage on a steel stringed guitar.

ArnoldGuitar51: Can’t forget Arthur "guitar boogie" Smith, the writer of Dueling Banjos. He was playing some hot lead guitar a long time back. Arthur is the one that showed Don Reno alot of those jazz licks. Both guys were ahead of their time. Amazing musicians!

Here is the clip. Nice stuff and looks like new D-18s. The film is from 1936.

folkdog: Back in the era of "hillbily" music, lots of guitarists played bass runs that got melodic sometimes. Most used a thumbpick for this, occasionally wielding it with a down-up pattern akin to later flatpicking. Riley Puckett (of the Skillet Lickers) was probably the most important and influential of these guitar players. He was doing some pretty complex stuff, mostly on the bass strings, back in the late 1920s and 1930s on his Martin 0-18. Jimmie Rodgers flatpicked connnecting bass runs on his Martin and Weymann guitars during the same time period.

Along with the Lightcrust Doughboys, other flatpicking pioneers were the Delmore Brothers (on guitar and tenor guitar). Amazing stuff from the 1930s that does sound a whole lot like bluegrass at times. Big influence on Doc.

There were also quite a few jazz and blues flatpickers dating back to the early 1920s (maybe earlier), though most did not play Martins.

(FYI--I'm working on a book about this stuff, but it won't be done for quite a while.)

8. Martin's institution of ONE YEAR WARRANTY!
I found a listing on eBay for a 1978 catalog with a sticker which announces... "the new warranty policy, limiting warranty to one year effective with serial # 406501."

I never knew this ever happened. When was the lifetime warranty reinstituted and were the guitars made in between actually only warranted for one year?

Black Hole Gang: on pp 201-202 in the Johnston & Washburn book:

...Martin sales declining after the 1971 sales peak...quality slip...some conscious decisions hastening that slide. Martins came with a lifetime warranty, and to cut down on the number coming back needing repair, workers began building them to be sturdier, to the detriment of the tone...For a time, the company even shortened its famous lifetime guarantee to five years...

0018G: A few months ago, I found the original Care And Feeding book that came with the '83 D-28. In the warranty section, there was a sticker saying "lifetime" that covered up the words "five years".

9. Harmonic resonance - is it a common issue?
Has anyone noticed how different guitars seem to have a certain harmonic that can sound louder and resonate particularly if it is reflected back at the guitar?

On my Martin OM any G note can seem louder than any other note if it is reflected back say by a glass door or an amp. On my Martin dred it is the same. On my Taylors, the B always seemed louder or more metallic.

IainDearg: Yep, you're making sense. Everything in nature possesses a resonating frequency determined by it's dimensions. My OOO sized guitars seem to resonate around A / Bb. Actually, different parts of the guitar will have different resonating frequencies - the top will be the strongest (of course).

A word of caution: the room in which you play the guitar also has natural modes which are way stronger than a guitar's resonating frequency - particularly if you play in a small room - which will subjectively make the guitar sound a bit boomy on some particular note. There's a room in my house in which I can’t play any chord with a Bb in it!

Lefty00042: Quote: Everything in nature possesses a resonating frequency determined by it's dimensions.

As well as its mass and stiffness.

I knew that undergraduate class I took in vibrational analysis would come in handy sometime in the next 17 years . . .

Todd Stuart Phillips: I love that stuff, except when it causes feedback of course.

I find the A string tends to be the dominant string on an OM and the low E on a 14-fret dreadnought.

But on my OM-28VR the D note, played on the 7th fret of the G string produces amazing sympathetics from the other strings. My other guitars not so much.

I think each guitar has its own life and certain notes, sometimes specific string/fret locations are much more alive than the same place or notes on other guitars.

hogwldfltr: I'm not absolutely sure but seems like these are the tones known as wolf tones. I have one guitar, a classical, which is particularly prone to these tones. There are just some frequencies which really make it ring. My D-35 when in the path of a speaker will also start to vibrate at a certain tone which will result in feedback through its p/u.

10. What’s an HD-28 32?
I have been offered an HD-28 32 ('88 model) for $ 700.00. I am not familiar with this model. Is this a good buy? Are there any peculiarities with this guitar that I should watch out for?

Mac Carter: That's a Shenandoah. I recommend that you stay away from it - not a good price for that model. The sides and back are laminated, not solid.

Here's my article in FAQ about Shenandoahs:

11. 80's D25k
I just bought one and I am really enjoying the tone of this guitar. It has a very dry tone and it 'shimmers' when played. It has a nice bright sound with plastic nut, saddle, and bpins. The sitka top vibrates strongly.
I guess Martin built the d25k/d37k from '80 to '89. Anybody have one or know how many were built?

mrlubes: I don't know how many of those guitars were built but I was the original owner of a '80 D37K that I bought in '81 and played until '97. A very nice sounding and balanced guitar suitable for both strumming and fingerpicking.

12. Martin size 7
Does anyone know where I can get the specs and see a picture of a size 7 Martin? It is referred to as a 7/8 D 14 fret in Martin Guitars by Washburn and Johnston.

Geez45: I do not have the exact specs in front of me now, but they were basically the same size as an O18T tenor guitar. They did have a 23" scale length and 1 5/8" neck at the nut. Simply put, they looked exactly like a D28 that got shrunk down in size.

If you want to get an idea of what a 7-28 would feel like when played, try the LX series from Martin as they are the same scale length and about the same body size.

Raider60: This was an idea Chris Martin had. He believed the full size D's were too big for the Japanese because of their smaller stature, so created the 7-28 for that market. When introduced to the Japanese, THEY HATED IT!!

Somewhere around 200 7-28's were made. There was also a 7-37K produced with about 100 units sold.

13. What's a Guitar Center DSM?
Dropped by GC and the Martin dread in question has no label inside the sound hole. Their tag says DSM (dread solid mahogany) I presume, and has a spruce top with a satin finish.

It isn't listed on the Martin site and I'm wondering if it's actually a D1 or what. It has a good hog tone and I could get it for $720.

StringPlucker: These guitars are based on the 15 series. They have the A-Frame bracing like the 15's. I tried them at my GC and they were good guitars. All solid wood. They have a rosewood/spruce model and the mahogany/spruce.

MikeHalloran: I have seen these at GC. They look a lot like the MF D-15 Custom except that they have a single ply white binding around the top where the MF Custom at $699 is unbound.

14. What warrants a "Custom" stamp?
I have been pondering a number of permutations to standard and vintage-line guitars, and was just curious about what would lead to the model designation stamp on the neck block being listed as "Custom."

Will C.F. Martin stamp the block as "Custom D-18," or "Custom OM-28" depending on which model you want customized?

Mac Carter: It's the number of changes. One change normally does not make a stock model a Custom. But two or more changes will.

You'd be surprised at how often what you think is just one change is actually 2 or more in Martin's way of doing things.

Lefty00042: Quote: Will C.F. Martin stamp the block as "Custom D-18," or "Custom OM-28": Nope.

pharmboycu: I saw an original 1950 14 fret D-28 slotted headstock and the neckblock said "Custom," next line was "D-28," next line was serial number. Killer guitar, for sure.

Todd Stuart Phillips: In the 50s they were kind of up in the air when it came to what to do about "special orders". Some custom Martins from the 40s and 50s and an S stamped next to the model name, but set off a little bit, so they look different than the modern "D-28S", et al.

Others have Custom and the model name. Others may not have anything in the stamp to imply customization.

15. After-market headstock inlay?
I just picked up a really nice and quite unusual 1996 M-38 Custom with no headplate decal. I was thinking that that blank headplate might possibly provide an appropriate canvas on which to put some MOP into play... However, the very prompt and helpful Mr. Mike Dickinson at Martin has just informed me it would cost $1000 (and 8 weeks) to have the custom shop inlay an alternate torch on the headstock.

Does anyone have any suggestions about where this type of aftermarket inlay might be done professionally and well at a somewhat more realistic price?

Mac Carter: You're looking for Dave Nichols:

Rockradstone: Yes, Dave's the one to call.

I just had him inlay the island scroll pattern in gold mother o'pearl for the D-18VS bridge. He's good to deal with; call him.

Agerbaek: I have had Dave Nichols do after market inlay on one of my guitars. He does an excellent job and his prices are extremely reasonable. He only charges a fraction of what Martin charges.

16. Why does Martin stain 15 series? do they have to ?
Is there a reason Martin stains the 15 series? Would 15 series owners rather use the resources (time-cost) used to stain the guitar to put towards perhaps a real rosette or gloss finish?

ScooterD35: Because Mahogany is a very porous wood a filler needs to be applied to level out the surface before the finish is sprayed on. The stain is added to the filler so there is no additional step needed to stain the wood. Adding an inlayed rosette would add at least three steps to the guitar's construction.

17. Truss rod effect on tone
I have a 16-GT and was having problems with it being very bass heavy which drowned the treble out a lot. I decided I needed a truss rod adjustment today after the neck had settled to my string gauge (give it a few weeks) and it has made a dramatic (to my ears) difference, I played it before and after the truss rod adjustment and it has done something.

I take it is affecting the way the neck is vibrating and has lead to the tonal difference?.

Arnoldgtr: Tightening the truss rod stiffens it, which tends to reduce bass response.

18. Truss rod wrench
What size allen wrench do I need to adjust the truss rod on my Martin DC-16gte?

Lefty00042: 5 mm.

DM3MD: You can find one for $10 at Maury's Music if you need's really nice and has a padded shaft that eliminates any chance of scraping the edge of the soundhole:

19. Neck pulling away from body...
My 2001 Custom 000-16RGT seems to be falling apart. It is properly humidified and stored in it's case when not in use. The neck appears to be pulling away from the body as there is a gap developing. The neck doesn't seem loose and I only use light gauge strings on it. What could cause this? Maybe it wasn't installed right to begin with and I didn't notice it before.

tmansonusa: Are you referring to the neck heel or the fingerboard overlap?

My DM-12 is separating at the heel and I was told (now by both Martin and a local luthier) that it needs a neck reset (only two years old). The luthier explained that [the tenon/mortise] is only there to hold the neck while the glue cures and the separation at the heel is an idnication that the glue has let loose and the parts are slipping. He claims just tightening the nut won't do the job (I think I repeated this correctly).

tippie53: If there is a gap at the heel , and just the heel and it is just that you can see it is there say about.010 , that isn't too much to worry about. If there are gaps up the side of the body then you do have a problem. To be sure take it in to a tech and have it checked. The heel section from the actually joint down is set with a slight gap to avoid it getting popped off.

If you are the original owner this is covered.

Rod Neep: This feature is relatively common on the 16 series (it occurs on my 12 string). Once upon a time I used to worry about it. Until I realized that:

1. The gap often closes up again
2. It is so miniscule that there is no perceptible change in the action.

I just checked on mine... and it is tight at this moment in time, and the paper won't fit in there at all.

warrenpurdy: I had an HD28 back in the late 70's that developed that same slight separation. I kept that guitar for 10 years and it never got any worse and had no effect on the guitars playability or feel.

20. Naptha/Pickguard removal
I pulled the pickguard off of my new (to me) WM45... I was following KensD28 instructions so I went out to get some Ronson lighter fluid for the Naptha part of the process. Apparently, lighter fluid is hard to find... at least at the Walmart I went to.

Anyway, I found "VM&P Naptha" at the hardware store. Will this be ok to use?

Lefty00042: I got a giant bottle of naphtha at my corner Walgreen drug store. That said, I pulled the pickguard of my D-18VS Custom with no heat whatsoever. I worked up the edge of the original with a fingernail and then just wiped a naphtha-soaked Q-Tip around the area to pull up a little bit more, then just kept wiping the Q-Tip along the area where the guard was still adhered, periodically re-wetting the Q-Tip. On the whole it was faster than using heat and much easier.

Buck49: It might be good to point out to our loyal readers that you should not apply heat TO the naptha. After all it is lighter fluid! The results could be disasterous.

21. Impression in lacquer left by pickguard
Not being crazy about the stock pickguard on my D-18GE, I have removed it & will be auditioning several candidates for replacement.

Question is: the old pickguard left no tanlines but did leave a very slight depression in the lacquer around its perimeter.

A couple of the options aren't perfect matches for the old pickguard's shape so a bit of this line will show. Another option would be a clear pickguard or none at all (this look is growing on me), but this depression in the lacquer would then be quite visible.

Any ideas? Is this something that might go away on its own? Could it be rubbed out by hand using a mild polishing compound?

gtrdoc: I would try the polishing compound first. It may just be some built up polish around the edge. If this doesn't work find some 2000 grit wet/dry paper and soak it over night. Automotive body shop supply stores can sometimes sell it by the sheet.

I really like the Japanese papers carried by McGuires and the German "Klingspore" papers, but the body shop papers should work just fine.

Just gently wet sand the area with a small flat sanding block but remove all of the dust in the area first. Follow with the polishing compound.

Martin Ping: IMO and I am not a finish expert that indention is going nowhere...I think its caused by the adhesive and the PG being applied while the lacquer is still fresh...Can't imagine you that you could sand that out...

I would let someone who knows nitro look at it personally...None of the PG indentions that I have witnessed ever went away...

DM3MD: I have same little thing going on with my guitar when swapped to a Greven. the Greven didn't cover up all of the "footprint" of stock dot matrix guard... not much you can do about it since the finish was probably only a couple weeks old on my guitar. it's very faint though, and only shows in the right's not even worth it to me to sweat over.

Opheltes: The same thing happened to my D18-GE when I removed the pickguard--only days after purchasing it new. Peter Cree wet-sanded the top and leveled out the finish (with truly beautiful results). And then I left it bare.

22. Pickgaurd lifting
My Gibson j50 (batwing) pickgaurd is lifting slightly along the outside opposite of the sound hole. It's lifting a 16th of an inch, in a one inch area. My question is how to reseal it?

jbbancroft: If it's only a small area that is loose, glue it with titebond. Use a .004" feeler guage to work glue under guard, clean off excess, and clamp with cork padded block on the inside and outside, with the appropriate clamp.

If there are a number of places unglued, I would probably remove completely and reglue, using double stick tape or pickguard adhesive.

jsalmon: You didn't say how old this guitar is, but if it's got an old celluloid pickguard that is bonded directly to the wood,and the pickguard is curling: BEWARE! This can lead to the dreaded pickguard crack.

Frank Ford's got a page showing how he reglues shrinking pickguards.

jbbancroft: If it's a newer Gibson, the guitar is finished, then the pickguard is attached, with whatever adhesive they use for the job. To do it right, completely remove the pickguard and old adhesive. Then reattach with either double stick tape or the regular pickguard adhesive that Stew Mac sells, I prefer the double stick tape they sell. Titebond won't work in this situation.

23. How do you use a Shubb?
Do you use your Shubb right side up or upside down? I always used mine with the capo going over the top of the neck. Was at a church one night playing with some other folks and noticed some buzz in the strings with the capo on. One of the guys there said he put his Shubb on from the bottom and didn't have any buzz problems.

KC HD28V: mWell I've been using Shubbs ever since I've been playing....15 years and I've always put them on from the bottom up, but I think the majority of users put them on from the bass side like you do.

I can't see where it would make a difference either way to be honest as far as buzzing strings. I've tried both ways, but to me, putting the capo on from the treble side is easier, quicker and I can see the capo placement much better.

twelvefret: I have always put the Shubb on over the bottom. This allows me to line everything up and center the rubber pad under the neck. This also allows me a little more room when playing B7 and E chords in the first position. Anyway, a friend noticed and thought that it was odd that I was using it this way.

johnreid: Top down here, but with any capo you need to find the right spot to put it ( the distance from the fret ) and the tension has to be right, not too tight not too loose. I bet if you adjust it up or down you will have no problem.

Time to set matter straight, from the horses mouth

24. Whats the best Case?
I need a 000 size case for a pre-war Martin. What would the best case be in terms of storage conditions, and flat out cool looks?

denison329: Check out the Accord cases - sturdy, lightweight and very cool looking. Unfortunately, they are pretty expensive too. I've seen several and they are definitely unusual and interesting:

Of course, for nearly bulletproof, Calton is the way to go.

rsdean: All my guitars are in Calton's.

jscio: The main thing you have to take into consideration is usage. How are you using your guitar? If you're flying don't mess around. Get a flight case. Accords run around $1200 bucks +/- and a Calton runs just under 700 bucks delivered. Great colors (Calton) in and out. I snagged one new and one used. Accords have a great textured type finish.

Accords are super light weight with their flight cases running about 3 kilos or just under 6 pounds. Caltons run a few pounds heavier than the average five ply Cedar Creek case but provide a lot more protection.

Cedar Creek makes the classic "Geib" style case. I have an original 60's/70's archtop Geib case that came with my D35-S They relined for me in vintage purple and did a BEAUTIFUL job!! Their standard Geib style cases give you a ton and a half of good protection. It will keep your guitar safe around the house or back and forth to the gig. I'd just have them make me one in a lighter color; like their tweed material. I'm not a big fan of heat absorbing black Tolex. Depending on appointments, a really snazzy Cedar Creek case should run 250 to 350 bucks (my guess).

I use Eastman cases when I want backpack portability. They're light as a feather, come in seven solid colors and four textured colors. Sort of a hard-shell gig-bag. They are fiberglass but ARE NOT flight cases by any stretch of a very vivid imagination.

Use the right tool for the right job and you'll be golden.

cb00ne: My two Martins came in the 300-series 3-ply TKL units, and I've upgraded both to the 600-series thermoplastic. Not sure what people think is ugly about them... I think they're pretty subtle and clean looking. Perhaps the traditionalists don't like the plastic...

I don't fly with the guitars, but occasionally bring them in the car to jam sessions or up to the cabin. The cases are perfect for that, can take a beating and fit both my guitars like a glove. Plus, they won't set you back an arm and a leg.

BrazAd: I have a TKL case, a Calton and an Accord.

My fave for flying? The Calton, hands down.

My fave for the other 99% of my life? The Accord, by FAR.

You can buy a new Accord (custom fitted, just like a Calton) for $950 from Colorado Case. A new Calton is $650 +/-.

An Accord is approximately 6 lbs.

A TKL is approximately 12 lbs.

A Calton is 16-17 lbs.

Buck49: A point should be made here: The ATA (Air Transport Association) does not (repeat: DOES NOT) certify guitar cases, amp cases, camera cases or any other type case. The ATA has issued a set of specifications. Period. That's all they do. The specs have nothing to do with guitar cases.

As a manufacturer, you may hire an independent testing libratory to certify that your case meets or exceeds the ATA spec. Or, that it meets or exceeds PART of the spec. I point that out because part of the spec states that cases must be white. That's right, only one color. Why is that important? Well, it's not...except that anyone claiming ATA certification on a case that happens not to be white is fudging somewhere. You get to guess where. If it's only on color, I wouldn't have any problem with that. But it is only on color? Some of the cases I have seen claiming ATA certification lately seem rather suspect to me. And I suspect you could hire someone to certify a cardboard box if you paid them enough.

denison329: SKB has a new ATA case for dreadnaughts that are a lot cheaper (I think). Even has wheels. Still pretty heavy though - 17 pounds.

25. How to choose a song list for a gig
I've been doing open mics 3 or 4 times a month now since last fall. I enjoy playing and have always gotten good audience response. I think I'm ready to do a gig on my own, and have a venue or two where I can likely put it together.
I'm at a total loss trying to figure out how to organize a song list. Should I start out with fast tempo, slow, most popular? How do you choose what songs to start with, play in the middle, finish with?

Wire and Wood: Popular, fast tunes are your bread and butter at most venues.

People applaud their own memories. If they know the song it's good.

Try not to bunch up a lot of unrecognizable tunes in your sets.

JIMVOZ: While I usually plan a list, I usually vary greatly from it simply because of the audience. Just have fun up there... that's contagious enough...when they see you are having fun they will too.

MartinD GibsonA: What you also might want to consider is including a few unfamiliar tunes that you can tell a story about -- how the song came to be (Wreck of the Old 97), the bio of the subject (The Ballad of Jesse James), etc. I've found people like to be informed as well as entertained.

MikeHalloran: Avoid inside jokes, preaching to musicians, taking too long on any story and, above all, DO NOT EXPLAIN THE SONGS YOU SING. A person gets it or doesn't. Do not announce every song; it is a certain hallmark of an amateur.

26. K&K do I need a preamp?
I'm going to order a K&K pure western. I will use it for solo play through a PA or my Acoustasonic Jr. Should I order the preamp/EQ too, or wait till I hear how it sounds direct?

HD28HLA: I've had the regular one and now have the XLR one. Either one will give you more flexibility with your sound (EQ) and the XLR one has a phase switch and runs on phantom power. Do you need a preamp to sound good? Probably not, but to optimize your sound you should probably get one.

sdelsolray: Every pickup needs a preamp, it's just a matter of where it is (physically) in your signal chain. For example, if you plug a 10' cable from your guitar (with the K&K SBT) into your acoustic amp, your preamp is 11 feet away from your pickup (I'm adding an additional foot for the internal wiring between the pickup and jack on your guitar). If you plug into a DI box with the same cable, and then go to a PA board using a 50' balanced cable, your pickup is, in essence, still 11' away from the preamp because of the magic done by the DI box.

All pickup signals will degrade on the way to the preamp or DI box. The K&K SBT, being three ceramic piezos, has a stronger initial signal than many other pickups. Folks notice that they can run a 10' or longer cable before a preamp without sonic problems. However, that K&K signal still degrades over that 10' cable, lowering the strength, affecting the tone (high frequencies get lowered a bit) and adding noise to the signal. All oher things being equal, that K&K will sound better if the preamp is closer. In other words, just because it sounds "good" with the preamp 11' away doesn't mean it won't sound better with the preamp 1' away. It does.

d28andm1911a1: NO but it is nice to have one.

My little busking amp (15 watt no name) requires me to use my little cheap preamp on the mic channel. So when I'm busking I use no preamp on the K&K and a preamp on the mic. Works fine but not as nice as when I play a set gig with the mixer etc so that I have preamps for the mic and use the little one for the guitar.

So don't worry about getting one if it's a strain. If you want a cheap one the little Behringer PB100 works fine for around $20.
Not as nice as some of the others but works fine.

27. Recording software
I went to my local Guitar Center yesterday and asked them to suggest the easiest software to record with for my pc. All I am doing is recording vocals, guitar and harp. They said the best s/w to buy would be Cakewalk. They also suggested I buy fast track as an interface. I bought both. After a few hours of playing with cakewalk I'm thinking it is far from easy to use. What are your thoughts? Is there easier sw to use for a beginner that is also good quality?

SabuJSE: I use Sonar and find it to be intuitive after a bit of manual reading... you may also want to try the Line 6 offering Guitarport/Rifftracker.

Tommymc: I never could get the hang of Cakewalk. I like Adobe Audition.

mikey517: I also use Adobe Audition 1.5. With some practice, it becomes very easy, yet has everything one could possible want on a hobby level.
BTW, how do you like the Fast Track interface? Can you do more than one track at a time??

BucksCountyBob: I'm using Sony Acid XMC. It's the lightest version of the Sony Acid series and sells for $39.99. It comes with about 600 or so loop tracks and Sony probably sells about 10000 more, although there are also a fair deal of web sites where you can get loops for free.

I found it pretty easy to get up and running out of the box. I've put about 5 hours total into playing around with it and have figured out most of the features just by using the help. It also has a "Show me how" feature where it walks you through stuff step by step.

Not bad for $39. The only downside to this version is that it does not have any features to allow you to add effects to a track after it has been recorded...for example, if you want echo, you need to get your input source to do the echo...the software doesn't do it. If that feature is important, you can pony up $70 for Sony Acid Music Studio.

The low end of the Sony Acid line is not as full featured as some of the other packages out there, but it also doesn't cost $300. I downloaded demos of some of the more expensive packages and I found them counter-intuitive as well.

flatpick20: I think Kristal is the best of the lot, at least that’s the one I use most often. I've tried Audacity and it works ok until I start to multitrack, then I have to move one track a few milliseconds to get it to be in time with the 1st track, too much work, all I want to do is plug in the mics, push a key and play. I've tried the demo of cubase, I'm sure it’s very powerful and has lots of bells and whistles but it seems to be overkill for what I want (acoustic guitar and some attempts at vocals).

I'm using an athlon 1.33 ghz and an m-audio mobile pre with the 2 mxls (990, 991) from guitar center. I've got about $250 invested in the stuff and it actually sounds pretty decent.

One cool thing with kristal, use the live in channel. Hunt a plug in called rock legends, plug in an electric guitar and wail away

66d35: I've been using Mackie Tracktion 2 a lot recently. First had it on my laptop mobile rig... it does just about everything you are likely to need, and then some. Street price is around $150, which is excellent for what you get.

d28andm1911a1: I've used Audacity and it's ok but a little primitive, like someone said problem with timing when multi tracking. I like Goldwave. The demo version is good for a long time, I used it for almost 2 yr before I bought it. If you don't want to spend the time to be a first rate recording engineer then I prefer Goldwave. If I had to do more than 2 tracks at a time I would go for one of the biggies. But I record off the mixer live and for 2 track recording it's just fine.

Up North: I recently bought a US-122. Spent a day going nuts trying to understand the recording software that came with the unit. After some searching I found this:

Downloaded the "Lite" edition and tried it. I quickly discovered I could actually record stuff based on my old analog recording experience. Ultimately I bought the Professional version and I'm happy. It's probably not sophisticated enough for some. But it all you want to do is lay down a track (or 12), maybe mix down and publish your tunes, it will do the job. And with a minimum of frustration for a musician who's not a recording engineer.

Smurf42: I use Cool Edit Pro 2.1 and Kristal Audio Engine 1.0.1. And I find Kristal as close to a real mixing desk as you will find. If you have ever used a real mixing board you will feel right at home with KAE. And the forum is one of the best I have ever seen on the net, very helpful people! I just posted a thread about how to get a free 16 track studio setup. I would say try them all, pick the one you like and are comfortable with, and use it.

dell chameleon: I tried Kristal Audio Engine for a while and liked It, but the slow computer that I was running at the time continuously crashed.

I switched to Mixcraft by Audacity and have used It ever since. Not many bells and whistles but you have unlimited tracks and It's as easy to use as a tape machine, plus you can import files in any audio format or mix down to Wave, WMA, or MP3 and burn a CD directly from the DAW.

I have tried Cakewalk, Cubase LE, and a demo version of Ableton Live. I hated Cubase and Cakewalk.Ableton is OK, but at $499.00, I can live without It.

When I get ready to record, it’s hard enough just dealing with the mic's and levels without having to worry about scrolling through 50 million menus and opening up window after window of crap that I don't need anyway.

28. What is your Gigging setup?
For those of you who play live, what is your setup? Specifically what guitar (which model), what pickups, what gauge strings, do you stand or sit, what kind of amps, what kind of microphones, and what effects.

RP89d28: I use my D28 with an active I Beam, run it into the Baggs Para DI and straight to a Mackie 808s mixer. I rarely use any effects except for a little reverb from the mixer. Once in a great while I use my flange pedal. I always use medium gauge strings as they are much more solid sounding than the lighter gauges.

I use an Audio-Technica mic that I've had for about 20 years. Very clear sound.

The sound is transferred to the mega-masses by way of the hands down, no doubt, BEST speakers in the world. A pair of EV Eliminators. I'll put these 15's up against anything out there.

MauryOM28V: I play an OM-28V with a D-Tar Wavelength pickup, an OMC-16REAura, and a 00-28VSMM with a K&K ultra-pure western. These are run direct into our Bose PAS PA system.

Eugie Baange: D-18 + Highlander IP-2 + Fishman Platinum Pro + house PA

Or: D-18 + AKG C1000s + house PA


Just the D-18.

Dadsbones: Gigging mostly at church

HD-28 with Fishman Matrix
Om-28V with Fishman Matrix
D-45V with Stereo Trance amulet

Occasionally a 000-45s with AKG 414 small condenser

Audix 2 for vocal

Usually mixed through small board (Soundcraft Spirit S6 or Mackie 1202)

Insert touch of dbx compression on vocal and guitar
EFX send to TC MoneXL effects unit for delay and reverb

To a Bose PAS with one bass module

ccliff: Martin MC40 , K+K pure western, Elixer Phosphor Bronze lights
AER compact 60
AKG D3800 mic w/ cheapo stand
Hercules guitar stand

MartinD GibsonA: When I play solo:
'71 Martin D-18; medium phosphor bronze
'02 Martin 000-16RGT; light phosphor bronze
Fender heavy picks on which I use one of the top corners
Paige capos
2 Audio-Technica ATR30 dynamic cardioid mics (one vocal, one instrument); no pickups
Samson MDR624 6-channel unpowered mixer; no effects
Samson C-com16 compressor with presets
Crate Audio PSM10P 10" powered speaker (100W RMS / 200W peak)
Stand or sit on a bar stool

In the places I play, one speaker is enough to cover the room. Some of them don't even have enough space for me to set up a second speaker in the "stage" area, so why buy one?

66d35: 1939 D-18 or 2005 D-18GE into Beyer M300 or Shure Beta 57

OM-42 via Mcintyre Feather into Baggs Para-DI

Vocal mics: Samson Q7

Small gigs: Yamaha Stagepas 300 (excellent little system - highly portable and sounds great)

Larger gigs: Yamaha 16/4 desk, Yamaha 2 X 700W power amp, 2 X 15" (+horns) Yamaha speakers, 2 X Peavey feedback ferrets. Other stuff as required.

Monitoring: Sennheiser in-ear wireless system.

sdelsolray: Guitars/pickups: 1999 Bill Tippin OMT (EIR/German spruce) w/ PUTW #54 pickup and Joe Mills internal mic; 1999 David Webber Roundbody cutaway (EIR/cedar) w/ K&K mini and K&K Silver Bullet internal mic. I use an external mic whenever possible, either an Oktava MC-012 (cardioid capsule) or Microtech Gefell M294, instead of the internal mics. Elixir Nanos (either 80/20 or phos bronze, light gauge w/ .017 and .013 B and E strings)

Signal Chain: Pendulum Audio SPS-1 stereo pre/eq w/ pickup/mic module; Drawmer DL241 stereo compressor (inserted pre-eq into the SPS-1); TC Electronic M2000 stereo effects (into effects loop in SPS-1, post-eq, pre-stereo mix bus); Rane SEQ30 stereo eq (for monitoring chain or room eq for the mains, depending on venue); Korg rack tuner; Furman rack power strip.

Power amp/Speakers/Monitor: Hafler P3000 stereo power amp; Pair Daedalus W 803 speakers (mains); Ultrasound 50E (monitor).

Misc: Speakers stands, mic stand, amp stand, two 4-space racks, lotsa cables, covers, two gig bags.


If I’m not using my full rig, one of the above guitars and either:

1) One of the 4-space racks which houses the SPS-1, DL241, M2000 and the Furman strip or;

2) a Baggs MixPro if I'm really lazy.

d28andm1911a1: I have two rigs.


Cheap no name amp 15wats to inputs one input is called mic but had no real preamp.
Vocal mic. AT Pro8 headset to Beheringer PB100 preamp to mic input.
Guitar either 00-15 with K&K mini to guitar channel or MacCormick walnut 00 with K&k mini to guitar channel
I sit on folding stool.

Duo gigs with wife.

Same guitars same pickups
Use the PB100 on the guitar line as a volume boost on solos.
Same vocal mic for me and Chris uses a AT lavalier mic as a harp mic and hand held vocal mic.
Everything runs into a Yamaha MG10/2 mixer then out to Peavey PR10 powered speakers using one as a main and one as a monitor. Have a Fender 1270p powered monitor on order.

More power than I need (I've never had the Peaveys over 2) but I like the headroom.

Two Walmart folding stools to sit on and a folding stool that I put a top on for a table for the mixer. Chris uses a music stand for her gig book and I use a wood music stand that sits on a milk crate (which doubles as a carry all for extention chords and tip jar)
And I have a stomp board that I've tried different mics in and am working on putting a pickup in it.

lamplighter66: I am new to all of this, but have been playing at an open mic. Last night I set up my Fender Acoustasonic Ultralight on a stand. I used my OM-42 with a K & K and sometimes use my Tom Petty 12 string with a K & K. The OM42 uses Martin Marquis light PB and the 12 string uses Martin SP extra light PB strings. I use a Sennheiser E835 mic for vocals. I have also bought the D-Tar Solstice Pre-amp to expand the capability of the Fender to add additional guitars or mics. We have not tried this out as of this time.

CajunPicker: My D-35 is equipped with a Fishman Ellipse blend and my D-18V has a removable LR Baggs M-1 Active. For low-key gigs, I just play into whatever mics are available. For medium gigs, I plug and run through my SansAmp Para DI straight to the PA. If it is a larger gig that requires volume, I split from the DI and run to my Genz-Benz Shen Pro acoustic amp; however, I have not been happy with my Benz in high volume applications, and I am considering alternatives.

JeffPiksaD28: I use my DC-16RGTE with Fishman blender direct into my Mackie 808M PA head. It does NOT reproduce an accurate depiction of this guitar's acoustic voice, but in a small band setting it works great. My bandmates use a strat and bass and my Martin fills the resulting sonic space very well. I frequently get positive comments on how good my guitar sounds live, so I guess it works just fine.

I hardly blend in any of the internal mic's signal. One of the most useful things about this set-up is the on board notch filter. Within about 15-30 seconds I can dial in my guitar after plugging in and almost never have to touch it the rest of the evening. I bought this ax four years ago specifically to gig with and it has been a great companion. Truthfully, it doesn't come close to the acoustic tone of my D-28, but that isn't why I bought it and it could just be that this particular guitar is not strong in that area. But more often than not its the one I reach for even at home, and my son prefers it to the D-28. Hard to explain why (although I usually keep lights on the D-16 and mediums on the D-28 - D-16 seems to prefer them over the mediums). To say the least I have been very pleased with my purchase.

On a side note, a friend of mine has an 800 series Taylor dread with the same Fishman blender PUP. Plugged in we cannot tell which guitar is which in a blind test.

IainDearg: If I can get away with It, I don't play with any reinforcement, but when I do:
Guitar (which model): OM-18V
Gauge strings: light but with heavier 1st and 2nd.
Microphones: one cardioid condenser (plus dynamic for vox)
Effects: possible compressor and possible reverb (depending on ambient noise and room character)

tjwentwalkin: Guitars '53 0-18, '72 D-28, '72 D-12-28, '03 D-18 GE, '06 D-28 Marquis Custom

Pickups: Highlander IP-1 in all

Strings: D'Addario EJ-16's on all

Signal Chain, Guitars: P'up system into PW premium cables into A&H WZD3-16:2, the '72 D-28 and '53 0-18 channels are looped with a VOX Valvetone 810 OD pedal each, from mixer into CREST CA-6 power amp into a pair of BAG END TA5000 mains, one of which I angle for monitoring.

Signal Chain, Vocals: Neumann KMS-150 Cond. Mic into a Grace Designs 101 mic pre into the mixer, the mic channel is auxed out to a TC Helicon Voice Live effects device for harmonies, and returns into it's own channel in the mixer.

0018G: My rig is very simple. I play through a AKG C1000S, and I sing through an SM58, both straight into the board with a little reverb. Some of my guitars do have pickup systems, but I use one six string (usually a D-2 , two twelve strings(one standard and one DADGAD), and a banjo (as well as an upright bass plugged direct) for each show. The logistics of either having each instrument on its own channel, or changing the plug around for almost every song has kept me using the microphone. Well, that and the fact that nobody makes a banjo pickup that I'd be caught dead using. I use light strings on all of my guitars, and I always stand because I sing something on almost every song we do, and I don't think you can sing properly sitting down.

sdelsolray: Playing with a mic is great, if you can get away with it. I use a mic and a pickup. It's not that I prefer one over the other for live playing, as they each have their sonic contributions to make. The composite can be pretty darned good, versatile and flexible.

I just play solo acoustic fingerstyle, although the variety of sub-genres and styles I play are pretty broad. Varying the mic/pickup blend, coupled with different effects combinations allows me to change the sonics somewhat depending on the song or sub-genre. For example, I use different settings for a Michael Hedges tune compared to a Leo Kottke song. It's easy to go overboard with such setting adjustments and, if I've learned anything at all about it, I've learned small/minor changes work the best.

29. Problems with Mics
I have a VERY modest recording system, complete with two Audio Technica ATM10 condensor mics that are just not cutting it at all! I want to get one very nice small condenser mic for recording my guitar, and was wondering if there were any suggestions? I know that's a very vague question, but I don't too much about recording mics, just how to work Cubase and other computer software.

I'd like to get one that will capture the essence of my guitar, not muffle it. It would be nice not to have to EQ it, or maybe just EQ it a little. I'd also like to keep it within a REASONABLE price range.

66d35: The ATM10 should not sound "muffled". While it is not a "high end" mic, it is not junk, either. Quite a few studios have them. I've encountered them in my travels, and they seemed more than servicable.

This is an omnidirectional mic, though, so the room conditions will have a very significant effect. I suspect this could be a big factor here. If your recording area is not optimal, an omni mic will really reveal that like nothing else. I have a pair of Earthworks omni's, and man, are they revealing of the ambient acoustics! In a poor area, they are unusable. In a good environment, they're absolutely wonderful.

In an untreated room, or room with poor acoustics, you may find it much easier going with a cardiod mic.

In a poor environment, no matter what mic you use, you will probably have to do a bit of work to eliminate as much background noise as you can, and you will probably have to experiment a lot with mic placement and some 'quick fix' room acoustic mods. Basic stuff like isolating the computer, possibly covering up windows with thick curtains/quilts, and trying to keep reverb/room coloration within useable bounds. Dave (IainDearg) may have some suggestions on this one.

As for actual mics, well, lots of choices these days at all kinds of price points. Depends what your budget is. You can get very acceptable recordings from the likes of MXL and ADK's small diagphram condensers.... these are really silly cheap for what they offer (I recall the days when ANY decent condenser mic cost a small fortune). Moving (way) up the ladder I really like the Neumann KM84 (the old model, vs. the newer KM184) on acoustic guitar. Many, many others... Shure SM-81, AKG C451, etc. None of them will sound 'bad' - but do remember, mic placement and room acoustics are both absolutely critical, more so than slight differences between various high quality mics.

The SC-1, which is also the same mic, from the same factory, as the Marshall (MXL) 603 and Joe Meek JM-27. It may well be sold with other labels, too..

You can pick these up for $50-$60 if you shop around, or, for $99 you can get a large diagphram condenser thrown in (branded as Marshall/MXL)

If you are limited in budget, these things are a very good buy.

Dadsbones: One piece of hardware or software you might look into is a compressor/limiter with gate.

Now sometimes you can destroy the intricacies and subtleties of a performance with a gate, but depending on your style of play you may be able to remove much of that unwanted background noise.

A gate works by allowing you to set a minimum db at which sound will be allowed to pass. If it's lower than that volume it won't pass. The traffic noise you hear, reverberation, and other unwanted frequencies can be gated out.

Problem is, if that harmonic, or pull off, or subtle note or decaying note is below that db threshold it will be gated as well.

It's worth a try. You can pick-up very used and serviceable gates and compressor/limiters with gates for under $100 bucks.

fguidry: Due to the laws of physics, omni mics are more accurate than cardioids. And in general you can achieve the same ratio of direct to reflected (or undesired) sound with an omni by simply moving closer to the source.

Check out then go to Microphone University
Microphone Technology Guide
Directional vs. Omnidirectional Microphones

With an omni, you can get very close to the guitar without boomy sound. A cardioid mic exhibits proximity effect which makes it bassier and boomier if you get too close (and thinner if you get too far away), but this is not a problem with an omni mic.

So experiment, position the mic an inch or two from the body of the guitar, then listen through headphones while you move the guitar around looking for that wonderful sweet spot where it sounds like angels singing Bach chorales. At that distance, the room sound will be very minor, normal outdoor noises will be drowned out by the guitar, and the hum from the computer fan ... well, it'll only show up in the quiet parts. Get as far away as your cables will allow.

Over the last four years or so I've spent an embarrassingly large bunch of money on mics, preamps, a/d converters, software, etc. Imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I pulled out an old (pre-upgrade) track and it sounded just as good as the latest ones. Or at least close enough for my purposes.

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