Ah, yes.. Part 2.

This is where we cover some of the tools I am using to learn guitar.

Back while we were living full time in the Motorhome in DC, I decided I wanted to learn how to play the 6 string. I already played bass, just not as well as I would like, so it was only natural to want to learn how to play something that was more “front” of a band.

Do not get me wrong. Bass is an amazing instrument, and can be utilized as not only the foundation, but even the focus of a band. So, this is in no way an insult to the instrument, and it will always be one I have.

Anyways.

Back in October 2011, Ubisoft decided to put an answer to Rock Band and Guitar Hero out on the market. Enter, Rocksmith.

Rocksmith Cover Art on Wiki

This game not only has the notes flying at you, like in those “rhythm” games, but it doesn’t use some plastic button controller. It uses a real guitar.

Point in fact, and what sold me on it originally, is there was a “bundle” that came WITH a real guitar.

This one:

Epiphone Junior

It’s not a bad guitar, it just isn’t something that works well for a beginner with rather large hands. The neck is not big enough for me to get my fingers in the chord shape, to start with. Remember those words. “To start with.”

The game though, helped me understand what it is I wanted, and how fast songs really are. The lessons even helped me learn some better technique.

Yet it sat for the most part. Not being able to get a chord to ring true on the guitar, just was like a stab to my heart. I gave up.

Then, Ubisoft and Rocksmith did something that got me back in.

The added bass functionality to the game. It was for more than just a 6 string, I could now play bass lines.

Sure, it wasn’t helping me learn “guitar”, but hey, it taught me a lot of bass parts.

I fiddled with that for sometime, and then as normal. Lost interest.

Not long after I lost interest, we moved to Oklahoma, bought a house, and the drives to work required me to listen to the radio or something. Over an hour at times, one way. Yeah, I needed tunes.

XBox Music on my Windows Phone gave me tunes. In fact, it gave me unlimited blues, which.. Brought the music bug back.

I knew the game would not give me what I was after, as I couldn’t get my fingers where they needed fast enough.

Stopped into a local music store by the name of Music Unlimited and talked with the staff, more than once. Then I finally bought a guitar on their advice.

A nice nylon classical acoustic, to get that old style sound, and have enough room for my fingers.

Enter the Alvarez.

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It even has a tuner, eq, and pickups built in, so I can use it with the game if I want.

One thing I will say to all people who are starting to learn guitar. Get a classical guitar. Being able to have chords ring true, not only helps you feel like you are getting somewhere, after practice it helps you move to that smaller neck electric.

I futzed with this for months. Playing around with different chords, as well as some basic riffs. I didn’t really pick the game back up though.

Then came out Rocksmith 2014.

Rocksmith 2014 Cover – Wiki

I got the game, saw it had some blues, and even allowed me to move the original songs into it. The bug was in full swing, but I was still working on learning the chords and finger placements. I played with the game some, even more so in the lessons, but it still pretty much sat.

The Alvarez, while a nice acoustic, just did not ring the notes long enough for me. I was not able to hold out that long 12th fret first string E. So I started looking at another acoustic.

Enter the Fender T-Bucket.

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Now, of course, one of the first things I did was accidentally slam the case against the strings and bridge. Nicking the G string, and causing that string to sound off. So back to the store, and picked up some nice mellow brass strings.

This guitar really opened me up. I learned how to make it sound like more than one guitar, how to get overtones, but.. Those darn chord changes. It is a narrow neck compared to that classical Alvarez.

Then I decided it was time to get back into the game. I wanted to start to piece it all together. That Epiphone Junior, just did not work for me. At all.

It just so happened, enough time passed that I had a bonus from work, which means I had a little bit of play money.

Came home with a nice Gretsch with a Bigsby Tremolo.

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The colored strings I just put on today actually, they give it a slightly warmer sound, and well.. They are color coded to the game.

This guitar did many things for me:

1. It’s like potato chips. Once you start, you can’t stop. Oh man, it’s so hard to stop. I look at guitars now and go, “Wonder what that sounds and feels like?”.
2. The neck is just right between the Epiphone Junior and the Alvarez. I can actually play chords, after I practice them on the Alvarez.
3. The game works perfectly with it. No dropped notes. It can tell where I am on the string, and what string. It’s even it a pleasure to play the game now.

Yet that darn Rocksmith cable. Word of advice, if you get the game, get a patch box you can plug their cable into, and then you can plug YOUR cable into that. This way, you don’t move their cable around all the time, causing it to break. Also, unplug it when no in use. The ground loop you can cause will fry it. I have gone through 4 now. My only real complaint about the game.

As I didn’t always want to play the guitar in the game, I picked up a Digi Tech RP360 XP. This gave me different amp sounds, a wah/volume pedal, and I can use headphones or USB audio off of it. I already had an M-Audio M-Track Plus, so I can also run to that directly if I want.

So, that’s my gear. Not much on the game you say?

That’s because you never want just one thing to be your focus, as when it becomes and issue, you may just give up.

Yet, let’s really cover the game.

Rocksmith 2014 introduced the Session Mode. This is one of the biggest selling points. As it allows you to setup a backing band, select the key, type of scale, and even rhythm and if the BPM is locked or freeform.

This is good for many reasons, but the main one I can’t stress enough. Learning those scales.

I don’t care what instrument you play. If you don’t learn the scales, and not only know the basic theory behind them, you will not be able to make that instrument sing. It just won’t feel like, you.

This mode not only helps with that, but helps guide you into the different licks you can play in that scale. Helps you learn box patterns, and how that can change the whole tone of the band as you jam.

Sure, learning songs can teach you a lot. It does not teach you how to improvise.

Of course, we all want to learn some songs, and that’s where another feature comes in that sells the game for me.

Riff repeater.

I can not say enough good things about this. One of the most annoying things about trying to learn a song, is how fast the notes can be. They overlap, and it makes it hard to tell what note is where, let alone, when. This allows you to slow all of that down, and just go over that section you are having issues with, over and over and over.

Significant Other Warning: Riff Repeater will become your partners worse nightmare. Hearing that spot of a song, non-stop, will just drive it into the center of their brain. Even more so, as they will hear your frustration as you miss notes and just keep doing it again and again. Make sure your partner can get away from it.

Then, we come to the lessons.

These lessons will help you learn the basic techniques of many things. Even in the very small sampling you can see in this image, they are things that every guitarist should learn. I’m not going to cover them all.

Of course, there are the games as well.. Let’s just say, there are enough things in this game, I highly recommend it.

There is one thing missing though. It does not teach you how to read sheet music.

No, reading sheet music is not a “NEEDED” skill, but, it will help. Many of the greats in blues actually wrote their music down. I highly suggest learning this kill.

Finally, no game will replace hands on lessons with a real expert. Find one you click with, who knows what they are talking about. There are many bad habits one will pick up as they self teach, and those lessons will help you work around them.

While at the crossroads, remember that music without soul is worthless.

Part 3 will cover a little bit of the blues as well as the pain one can feel while learning. Fingers are a little raw to cover that now.

-Z

 

Yes, you read that right.. Part 1. I finally have an ongoing thing to post about.

Background

Music has had a rather large influence on my life. Dad plays bass, mom dabbled a bit with the 12 string. Mainly it was dad though that pushed me into it. He played in Top 40 Cover bands for a large portion of my life. In the late 70’s and 80’s, this meant a lot of what most call “Classics” now. Some country, but I wasn’t fond of that.

I have played bass, off and on and not any “expert” for years.

In high school, Mr. Tuttle was my music teacher. He saw the raw talent, and lack of focus, and used it. Every time a school concert was coming up, he would toss me a new instrument, the sheet music, and simply state. “You have two weeks.”.

What that meant, is I had two weeks to be able to play the new instrument for the part in question, or I would have to sight read and play the bass part with no practice. That challenge gave me the ability to play a wide variety of symphonic instruments. Even in marching band, I played a little trombone, a lot of quads and bass drum, a lot of baritone, a little sousaphone, and of course.. Electric Bass. Let me tell you, marching with an amp and battery on your back, not fun.

Then, I dropped out of school for work.

I let a lot of what I learned go. I still played the bass, but it was maybe once a month. Sometimes not even that often.

Then I discovered computer generated music. Well, I already knew about it, but it never clicked how “easy” it was to get started. Not until I met Pat. The brother of a lady I was dating.

That’s when I really got into scream tracker (which I played with in the early 90’s for about a whole month), as well as Acid Pro. With Acid Pro, I actually did a couple tribal electronic type songs that people seemed to like.

Sadly, my temper got the best of me one day and I slammed my hand down on top my nice (for the time) computer. All 5 drives of my raid 5 array chirped, and I had no backups.

That put me back to being a listener more than a creator.

9 Months Ago

The music bug bit again. I started listening to blues again. I mean the full spectrum of blues. Detroit, Delta, Modern, Funk, and yes.. Even John Mayer slowly worked it’s way in. Can’t really label him, as he likes to walk all the paths.

My wife thankfully lets me dive into my hobbies, even knowing I have an habit of not sticking with it past a month. As she knows, every couple of months I will pick it up and dabble with it, and then drop it again.

This one though, has not been that way.

One thing I decided right away is I needed to learn to play the guitar. Not just bass.

I already had a guitar thanks to a slight dabble in trying with the game Rocksmith. That game actually utilizes a real guitar, and has some nice lessons. The main thing, is it’s guitar hero on crack. Yet, the required cable to play is, is garbage. Breaks really easy. I have gone though 4 of them now. Anyways, I would still recommend the game.

Back on subject.

That guitar I had though, made things rough. It’s an Epiphone Junior. My hands, are not junior. So it hurt to try and play, and since I have not been heavy on the bass recently, I didn’t have the callouses. Of course, I also tried to focus ONLY on the Rocksmith game.

I had enough. I wanted to learn, and I felt the “tools” were what held me back. So I went to the local (30 miles away) music store and picked up an Alvarez classical nylon acoustic 6 string. I did this not only on the advice of the shop, but because the nylon has a very old school delta sound. I played around with that for a bit, and got a few open chords down. Then realized, my inability to focus was starting to kick in. Rather than let that drag me away from the guitar, again, I tried to figure out why.

It was the tone.

6 Months Ago

I went out and got another acoustic. This time a Fender T-Bucket, with metal strings. This gave me one of the missing tones I was after. That opened up more styles, but also helped me move from the wide classical neck, to a slightly narrower neck. Still, wider than that damn Junior.

That was going great. In fact, that one I still play with every night when I go to bed. Yet, something was missing.

Time, I don’t remember

Things got out of hand. I bought a whole Novtion Launch setup in pieces, giving me mixing and a keyboard. Got a DAW (M-Audio M-Track Plus) and some home studio speakers. A nice microphone, and a ton of cables. Oh, and 2 more guitars.

Yet, I still can’t do chord changes fast, and bar chords hurt.

I am not giving up though… and I think that covers the background.

When I get around to it, I will do a part 2. This will go into more detail about the game. The primary instruments I am utilizing now will be covered. The big part though for people who are interested, will be the list of youtube videos that have caught my eye and helped me along the way.

Never give up. Never give in. It will hurt when you start, but it’s that pain that bleeds through the blues.

-Z

Birthday

Boom chicka bow.. ow my hip!

servicedrunkThis is my Service Dog. There are not many like my Service Dog, and this one is mine.

dukeboysBreaker One, Breaker One, might be crazy but I ain’t dumb, crazy Cooter coming at ya, anyone home on the Hazzard Net.

duckface

QUACK!

So, first let me start by saying I am a service dog handler. Well, I am in the process of training one because 3 different doctors have said to me.. “If you don’t want to be on pain meds your whole life because of your back, you need to train a dog to help you.”..

As the help I need is to carry my laptop when walking distances, and to pick things up for me off the floor, that means I need a larger breed.

So, meet Ash.

Ash at 4 months

Awwww, so cute!

Yeah, he is now. He still will be when he is upwards of 100lbs as well. He is an Akita.

Did you know there are places that ban Akitas? Yup. Cities, insurance agencies, even some states are trying to ban them. Along with pitbulls.

Why? Fear. That simple.

People who are scared, ban things they are scared of. For some, it doesn’t matter how much training one puts into the animal, the animal should not only be banned.. But destroyed.

Yes, I said destroyed. Some areas will actually take your dog away from you and destroy it.

Well, what if it’s a service animal?

Currently, the ADA and other service animal legislation does not prohibit breeds. This means if some one wants to use a Chihuahua as a service animal, as long as it performs a task, they can. This also means if some one wants to use a mixed breed junk yard dog, they can.

There are some stipulations though. It must perform a function that eases the disability. For me, as mentioned, it would be picking things up for me as well as carrying objects over distance. It must be well behaved.. Training… It must not be a nuisance through behavior or potty habits… Training..

Apparently though, there is a State Attorney who feels that the laws are moronic. Or at least, here.. Let me quote him.

Source (FOLLOW THIS LINK): http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/Service-Animal-Thrown-Out-Of-Hospital-242494921.html

“Well some moron in Congress probably wrote that law,” said Meggs

Why does he think the service dog laws are written by a moron?

“I don’t see how having a pit bull running loose with you qualifies as a service dog,” stated Meggs.

Oy.

First: Running Loose – It wasn’t running loose. It was in a harness, in control of the handler, and performing it’s function.
Second: Breed – If the animal is trained, and following the regulations required, what is the issue?

Oh, but wait.. Let’s do some research on Meggs.

He laughs about rape charges.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/06/laughing-jameis-winston-press-conference_n_4393884.html

He presses charges for posting of public information.
Source: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-05-04/news/os-judge-rules-for-free-speech-20100504_1_federal-judge-ruled-today-report-post

Ok, hold up.. I can kind of agree on the phone number of a cop not being public information.. As I can’t find many details on this one, let’s move on.

He has been accused of public corruption.
Source: http://thetallahasseeo.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/wiilie-meggs-public-corruption.pdf

I can keep going, but I don’t think there is a point. What I am trying to show here is that, well, he is just as much of a moron as the law makers who passed the ADA.

Could the ADA laws use some basic reform.. Yup. In fact, they get that quite often.
Source: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/ADAregs2010.htm

Heck, since I did not list my source about the service animals, you can find it at the link above.

My final point. Just because you have a phobia, does not mean you have the right to hinder another persons life. I don’t like elevators, yet, I’m not pushing to ban them. Even if they have been the cause of deaths.
Source: http://www.elcosh.org/record/document/1232/d000397.pdf

So, Willie.. Put your willy back in your pants, and help support those who are following the laws.

-Z

*facepalm* – Language warning for those who are at work or something.

http://www.net-security.org/malware_news.php?id=2629

“Silverlight has failed to surpass the popularity of Flash, but it’s nonetheless used by many users around the world, including over 40 million users of popular on-demand Internet streaming service Netflix.” – Quote from article

The article I linked, is complete fucking bullshit.

First, the title. “Netflix users are at risk.” .. So, if I don’t use Netflix, I’m ok? I don’t need to worry about it. I mean, no other company uses Silverlight, right?

Well, actually, as you can see from the quote I put above, even they say it, “used by many users around the world”. INCLUDING Netflix (on windows).

Oh, let’s ignore that Microsoft ALREADY put a patch out for this. A patch, that automatically installs if you have updates still enabled. Let’s ignore that the only way to have this effect you, is if you go to a compromised site.

What this article is doing, which it has done rather well, is using a scare tactic to drive up it’s views. Even got me to hit the site. Heck, I will flat out admit, I am piggy-backing on it with this post!

The issue is, many people don’t fucking read everything anymore. They look at the heading, a few words here and there, and then move on. I even do this.

So, reading this as one who does that, the summary of the article is that people who watch Netflix using a Silverlight browser are going to have their computer hijacked. That’s it, that’s what they are implying.

  1. Do your fucking security updates, and you will be fine.
  2. It is not Netflix that is the issue, it’s compromised websites. What the fuck are you doing going to those kind of sites anyways?
  3. If you do proper system maintenance, including virus scans and malware scans.. well.. Even if you don’t update your Silverlight browser (IE for most) with the latest security updates, your scanning software should be able to help you after the fact.

Of course, I will say it.. BACK YOUR SHIT UP!

Hmm.. I should probably do that myself..

“The vulnerability has been patched by Microsoft earlier this year, but we all know that many, many users are pretty lax when it comes to keeping their software updated. ” – Another quote

Even in their own fucked up article, they say it’s been patched. EARLIER THIS YEAR!

So, not only is this a non-issue if you are even remotely a savvy user. Not only is it NOT Netflix the cause. Yet, it has been patched, what.. IN MARCH!

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/ms13-022

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS13-022 – Critical
Vulnerability in Silverlight Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2814124)
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Updated: Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Yup. This is over 5 months old now. Way to be current there!

I bet I could crawl through the Security Bulletins for Apple or even a Linux Distro and write up some scare tactic article that is almost half a year old.

Instead, I will just be a simple thing, much like the writer of the scare article… To rip off a quote I heard from some one else… No talent ass clown.

-Z

 

WoOOoOOoOoOoOooo

stats

This is 90% true.