Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recording & Burning CD's

Congratulatons to the WINNERS of our Martin Guitar & GHS Strings Valentine's Day Give-Away: David MacDonald, Stan Grzes and G. (anonymous entry). Check back for our next Guitar Gear Give Away!

Just in time for Valentine's Day! Here's some inspiration for writing and recording that first love song. Capture your work on a radio-ready CD. Studio headphones and distressed tee by Audio-Technica.

Valentine's Day for me marks the fact that winter is slowly coming to an end. It makes me think of the romance of spring to come and inspires me to get my ideas down on paper. Where do you get such material, one may ask? I've found that the best songs begin with a page from your own life's experience. Torch songs are only effective if the singer "inhabits" the lyrics. This means that the song has to have some connection to your being. Whatever you do, you've got to have conviction. Tell the story! So how do you begin?

Got An Idea?

Some people find that the lyrics come first, pretty much like writing a poem. Then they sit down and try to construct a melody with chord progressions. If you have the opportunity, jam with some professional musicians on a regular basis. You will find a lot of ideas flowing out of a set, especially if you play a break. When you are called on to solo, you are improvising on the spot and creating your own melody line against the written tune. This is especially true for the blues and jazz but other styles also allow this sort of free form creativity.

Photographed here are a few members of my musician's guild whom I regularly play with. We do mostly Bluegrass, Gospel, Folk and Country. In our workshops, we always ask if there is a song someone is working on. You kick it off and they will come in with their individual breaks and comps. This way you can hear what your song could sound like with just the right mix of bass and lead solos. If you ever get to do studio work, you'll find that most today use click tracks or drum and bass machines. Drummers are seldom used in session work anymore so it may be a good idea to get used to playing with drum and bass tracks or at least a metronome. Still, there is nothing quite like playing with a group of live, seasoned, spontaneous musicians like these guys. It's something that just can't be replicated by a machine. Get more information on jamming by reading the article, Bluegrass Season is Here:

Recording Your Work

When I have an idea or even just the "hook" for a song, I use my MP3 player or similar digital recorder to capture the moment. This way, the little nuances in the melody or vocals can be saved. This makes it easier for when you decide to transfer your ideas to sheet music. The main thing is to seize the moment! However don't get too stuck on replicating what you did on any given day. Why? Well, that was what you were inspired to do at that particular moment. You might do it even better in a subsequent recording session. Once your preliminary work has been saved onto an MP3 file, you can download it onto your computer. This way you can share it with others.

The Best Vocal Recording Mics... Audio-Technica Condensers

What is the best microphone to use to record vocals? When you are shooting for studio quality recordings, you'll need to invest in a very well made condenser mic. You can skimp on a lot of things such as studio monitors, mic stands, etc. but this is one piece of equipment you should be serious about. Condensers in general are much more sensitive and responsive as compared to dynamics. Which studio mic do I use? Audio-Technica's AT4047/SV. It comes with a matching shock mount and is the best large diaphragm, side address condenser I've ever used. Wonderfully sensitive without being testy with feedback. Adds all the polish and warmth you're looking for while setting your work apart from the rest. It actually works quite well as an instrument mic too but I stand by it for vocals. You do not have to spend $3,000.00 for a quality studio mic like this anymore! This mic has been compared to the upper priced Neumann and Sienhiesser mics by professional recording studio engineers and recording artists. The AT4047/SV more than holds its own against these and other high-priced microphones. What we especially appreciated is that the 40 Series mics all come with matching shock mount and dust cover as furnished accessories. Other microphones require that you purchase these pieces separately. As a follow up on Audio-Technica's 40 Series, we'll also be using their AT4050 Multi-pattern Condenser microphone for our recording project with C.F. Martin & Co. Visit Audio-Technica's website for all of their excellent mics at:

Burning Your Work Onto a CD

Once you have your ideas sketched out and saved either onto your MP3 player or digital recording device, you will want to back it up by saving onto a CD. This is good to do if you want to keep a hard-copy record of your studio work and even down to your finished project. A digital recording studio allows you to "punch out" mistakes or even record alternative tracks for the same song. That's what all those radio remixes are that you hear in the clubs. Phrase looping is also easy to do with a digital recorder as is over-dubbing. Since music files eat up a huge amount of space on your computer, I would recommend getting a stand-alone recorder like the BOSS BR1200CD pictured here. It has a 40 GB hard drive, 12 tracks, (no waiting!), and mic / instrument input jacks right up front. Phantom power is also available for your condenser mics and there's a vocal effects kit as well as a mastering toolbox to give your CD that "pro" quality everyone expects today. Best of all, you have complete control over your work, from your first idea to the final production. Save alternate versions of the same song to work on later. Visit BOSS online at:

Did you just miss out on winning some cool PRIZES such as some of these great Martin strings you see here? Look for our next Guitar Gear Give Away! No purchase necessary. Simply enter a post under the "Comments" link shown at the highlighted contest article. That's it! Check back often and get in on the FREE guitar gear from the top named companies you see featured at "Eclectic Sound"!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Best Guitar Gear for 2009 - Accessories, Etc.

Dr. M. and her Martin D-18 Sustainable Wood Dreadnought. Long Sleeved Tee by C.F. Martin & Co. Peace Pick necklace by Strum 'n Comfort.

Here is where I get to share a few of my "favorite things" with my readers. There are some guitar accessories that I would rather not do with out. Simple, well made items that allow your practice and performance time to go so much easier. If you are fighting with low lighting on your music stand, tuners that go nuts in a noisy room or finger picks that just don't make the grade, I have some viable solutions.

New! Super GigLight Music Light
The original GigLight made our list of Best Guitar Gear in 2008 with good reason. It does the job. Well, it's back and brighter than ever! This little guy throws a ton of light on a full two pages of sheet music and even outshines the previously manufactured ConcertLight. It can also be clipped on your laptop or computer workstation if you are using editing software programs for your music.
The Super GigLight fully illuminates your music stand without adding eyestrain or glare. Battery powered on the road or use their AC adapter in the studio. Either way, it is the one musician's accessory I use everyday. If I am not sure of the lighting conditions at the venue I'm playing, this gets packed in my gigbag. Stage lighting is something you'll often have no control over but you can be prepared by bringing your own music stand light, even if it is just for your set list. One less thing to worry about. The Super GigLight folds up compactly into its own included tote. The AC adapter allows you to save your battery life, (about 20 hours), for the road. On and off switch is right in front of the light hood and the lamp arm is fully extendable to position the light just where you need it. Visit Lampcraft online at: or click their banner ad in the left hand column of this page.

Intelli IMT-500 Chromatic Tuner
I must have a drawer full of tuners, most of which never really worked well or were just too cumbersome to take with me to jams or gigs. If you've followed the saga of this tuner, the first production was under the name Intellitouch. The new Intelli IMT-500 while based on the Intellitouch design and function, is a major step forward. The Intelli IMT-500 is absolutely unbeatable when trying to tune your guitar in class or recording session when other musicians are trying to do the same.
This is because it senses the vibration of the strings to accurately indicate if you are in pitch. Best of all, it clips onto the end of your headstock and is easily visible in all types of lighting conditions due to its poseability and back lit screen.
Small but mighty, it is easy to pack along or clip onto your music stand. That way you'll always have a tuner handy. Some have complained that the previous model, the Intellitouch did not register the low E string. The newer Intelli IMT-500 doesn't seem to have that problem. PRO TIP: Proper instrument humidification keeps your guitar in tune longer. When you axe is properly humidified, all you'll need are a few quick tweaks of the tuning pegs and you're ready to play. See the article on Guitar & Vocal Humidification by clicking here:
The Intelli IMT-500 is available from most music dealers such as Quality Guitars at: or check their banner ad on this page.

Pro-Pik "Fingertone" Fingerstyle Guitar Picks
These Pro-Piks have become my ultimate favorite for the electric Autoharp. The plastic ones don't stay on as well as these. The Pro-Piks allow a bit of your finger to show through so you get a greater sensitivity or feel for the strings. This offers increased control and a natural feel. Just by the way you angle your fingers to strike the strings, you can bring in subtle nuances of tone and timbre.
I have even recorded a live performance with these and the sound was incredible. If you are into finger style guitar picking, you should definitely check these out! The Pro-Piks come in medium & large and are made of nickel-silver. I won't part with mine! Made in the U.S.A. by Guptill Music at:

The New Eclectic Sound Experience would like to thank all of our industry participants & endorsements for their continued support. 2009 is off to a rockin' start and we are looking forward to providing even more insight for the savvy musician. In this tight economy, consumers are reading reviews here first before buying. We've got it going on!