10 June 2012

Lemon oil

My Gibson's rosewood fret board was getting as dry as a dead dingo's donger.
Last week I restrung it with some nice coated EB slinkys but as the board was so dry they felt like rusted barbed wire.
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit here but it got to a point where it just didn't feel right anymore.
I've been reading about oiling fret boards with all kinds of stuff: 'lemon oil', 'mineral oil', olive oil (yes, olive oil), etc but the most common advice was getting some lemon oil.
I'm not big into DIY stuff and had no idea what lemon oil actually is so I went to a DIY store.
People working there had absolutely no idea what I was on about and as I didn't know what it actually was I wasn't going to buy just anything.
Instead of going on a rant about inaccurate and incomplete advice given out on message boards on the intertubes I turned to my local music store's website and there I saw some Dunlop 65 ultimate lemon oil.
That's right, ultimate lemon oil, not just regular lemon oil, _ultimate_ lemon oil; the only thing missing is a '2000' or '5000' at the end of that name.

Again, a long story short: I bought some, applied it to the fret board and these are my findings:

* It's easy to use and dose because of the applicator.
* It cleans the grime and grease pretty well.
* The wood got (what I assume is) its natural color back.
* Fret board feels much smoother and is much more enjoyable to play on.

* It smells funny.
* It's like everything smells like funny at least 2 hours after using it.
* My guitar's fret board now (the day after) smells funny.
* I don't want my guitars to smell funny.

Did I mention yet it smells funny? No? Well, it does; smells funny, that is.
The reason I'm going on about this is that I don't even think there's actual lemon extract in it, it smells nothing like the lemon extract bottle I keep in the fridge.

It smells like Cymbopogon, the Citronella stuff my mom soaked me in with 25 years ago when I was little right before bed time during summers.
I never really liked the smell of it and it didn't keep mosquitoes at bay at all but to be honest, my mom couldn't have known because it was only in 2002 a study (8th paragraph in the article) concluded the stuff is effective for about 20 minutes.
Anyways, one night the bottle started to leak in the drawer of the end table next to my bed so that drawer reeked for years to come.
Smell memories are funny that way, cleaning a fret board took me back 25 years; another smell that really fucks me up is cherry blossoms but that's another story and totally irrelevant now.

But yeh, the fret board: it's stunning now and I took a before and after shot for your amusement.

06 June 2012

Gibson V-Factor X Flying V

There are some subtle differences between Gibson's Flying V model over the years.
It's particularly nasty when trying to verify whether a certain model is most likely to be a real Gibson only having access to pictures of said guitar.
So I've been trying to find information on the intertubez on a particular V from 2008 (according to the serial number), it looks genuine enough but there's something strange about it: the head stock looks different from the V pictured on gibson.com.
So, is it real? Refinished? Maybe a rebranded Epiphone / Chibson ... ?

Here's a picture of the guitar:

This is a regular Flying V:

Same head stock as the one I've been trying to find info on:

You'll notice the head stock on the 2nd one is sharper.
Problem solved, right? Nope, because the guitar's finish is ebony.
The red one is a 'faded cherry' finish, which basically is Gibson selling a genuine Gibson for the price of a decent Epiphone as far as I can see.
Anyways, could it be a refinished one?
Doesn't look like it plus the guitar comes with a hard case, while the faded cherry ones come with a gigbag.
It does bear an uncanny resemblance with the Epiphone version of the '69 V though, but the tuners are genuine Gibson and the nut is different as well.

A couple Google searches later and I found this jem:

(Source: http://axestaticprocess.com/2011/09/19/get-monte-pittmans-flying-v/)

Exactly like the one I'm researching except for the hardware and pickups.
The site says they owned changed it, so fine but I still didn't quite know which guitar this is.

The mystery V was advertised as being a 2008 '68 flying V re-issue but all the images on Google show a regular V, not the pointy head stock one.

Anyways, long story short: the pointy ebony one is a Gibson V-Factor X Flying V.
Yes, seriously.
Gibson apparently tried to 1337-en up their guitars, so they briefly named the Flying V the V-Factor X and the Explorer the X-Plorer.
This is what Gibson have to say about it:

"The neck on Gibson’s V-Factor X has the best of both worlds—it is a hybrid between the ’50s rounded contour and the ’60s slim-taper profile."
"Whether it’s the regular Flying V, or the Gibson V-Factor X, the solid mahogany body provides tone, sustain, and performance."
"On the flipside, warm up the cutting tone of the bridge P-90 on your SG Specialby using a more rounded pick, or take some of the aggression out of the high-gain pickups of your V-Factor X by using a thinner pick for a smoother, more compressed rhythm tone."

So nothing really usable, no archive product pages, no nothing.
Attempts to look at how gibson.com looked like in 2007 through archive.org simply fail as Gibson has a robots.txt in place. Thanks Gibson!
No product catalogs to be found either so I decided trying to find the same guitar on a webshop somewhere to verify there was, in fact, a time where the standard Flying V's had that type of head stock.
After a bit (hah!) of Googl'ing I found these:
That's the one! Finally a shop which took the effort of actually taking a picture of the instrument they're selling instead of just using the same one over and over again.
Right, so now we know it at least exists and isn't a fake (although there's always the possibility a store is selling an obvious fake, but let's assume they're legit).

A bit more Googl'ing resulted in 2 NGD's on random forums and a couple more links:

http://www.in2guitar.com/flyingv.html: Nice picture of the pointyness
http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q53/joolzriff/SuperHawk002-1.jpg (from http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=250162)
http://www.musicradar.com/gallery/reviews/v-factor-x-157224/1: "The classic arrowhead headstock remains" - No, not really.

So although I haven't been able to find pictures of that actual model on a page hosted on gibson.com, I'm pretty confident it's, in fact, real.

Now if only Gibson would provide archives of their site (ESP does) or answer email ...

Edit: some picture links were dead, fixed that.

30 May 2012

On local name resolving on Linux

Local name resolving in Linux distros can get confusing.
Case in point: man hostname(1)

Anyways, our fictional situation for today is this:

hostname: what you've named your machine
domainname: which domain you're on.
FDQN: hostname+domainname
You've probably named your machine something but didn't include the record into the domain's DNS.
Then you're trying to use hostname -a or hostname -f and get this error:

hostname: Name or service not known

You need to check 2 files if that happens: /etc/hostname and /etc/hosts.
This is what you should have (provided, of course, you're not running a NIS/YP and you're using a hostname which isn't configured domain's DNS):

/etc/hostname should contain 1 line: the hostname of the host.
If you do write the FDQN in there, no problem, it gets parsed anyhow.
I found out about this just about half an hour ago when looking into a problem together with a colleague.
/etc/hosts should contain at least 1 line with:   FQDN hostname

The order is /etc/hosts is important.
 The hostname in /etc/hosts and the hostname in /etc/hostname must be identical.

27 May 2012

Making working on Windows bearable.

First things first: I've got Windows 7 installed on my laptop.
Line 6 software for my Pod just doesn't work under Wine so I had to have at least one machine running either OSX or Windows and I absolutely, positively, passionately fucking hate OSX, every time I see someone using it I throw up a little in my mouth.
Not that I hate Apple though, their hardware is insanely overpriced, but decent and I'm a big fan of the (old) iPods. Apple users and I on the other hand aren't usually best friends, we see stuff differently I guess.
I like to think a computer should stfu and do what I want it to do, how I want it to do it, not the other way around.
'Think different'... but for some reason the vast majority of their OSX users willingly plugged themselves into the Apple corporate HQ's controlled hive mind, oh the irony almost kills me sometimes.
But anyways, of course I use the laptop for more stuff than just music related stuff but the thing is over the years I've grown accustomed to software I use on my other machines... which run Debian mostly.
So here's a list of stuff I use, maybe it's useful to some poor geek finding him/herself forced using Windows:

* Amarak (http://amarok.kde.org/wiki/Download:Windows): Face it, there's not a single music player on Windows that matches Amarok. Even if it's the sucky version from KDE4 without iPod support, it's still better than everything else out there.
* Kate (http://windows.kde.org/): My preferred editor. Personal preference mostly I think. Has some pretty cool stuff I like.
* GMusic: (http://gmusic.codeplex.com/): Google Music is awesome! Standalone app to GMusic (not official though), running it in a browser blows, even more so on Windows.
* Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/): Almost as good as on my preferred platform but that's not Audacity's fault. Windows' access to lower level hardware is laughable but for some reason I don't find it funny.
* NX (http://www.nomachine.com/): I hate VNC with a passion and I don't want to run an X server on my Windows machines just to be able to tunnel X sessions. NX rocks, try it out.
* VLC (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html): pretty popular even among Windows users I heard. Listed for completeness as, of course, you don't want to use Media Player.
* Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php): I w00ted when I found out this exists for Windows as well. Fits all my video transcoding needs.
* GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/): I don't need Photoshop, Gimp is good enough for the stuff I do.
* Truecrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/): No dm-crypt so this fits all my encrypting needs on Windows.
* Chrome (https://www.google.com/chrome): duh.
* Pidgin (http://www.pidgin.im/): IM, all of them.
* Google Talk (http://www.google.com/talk/): Standalone. Mostly for the video calling feature. Skype is meh.
* 7-zip (http://www.7-zip.org/): Supports every compression algorithm I'll ever need.
* Cygwin (http://www.cygwin.com/): I need a decent shell and CLI tools. cmd.exe is lmfao.
* Perl (through Cygwin): same reason as Cygwin.
* OpenSSH (through Cygwin): having to use PuTTY makes my skin crawl and my blood boil, it's a program written by clickety click users for clickety click users.

That's about it.

16 May 2012

Ran guitar - Follow-up.

After a bit more than a day of playing the guitar it became clear I would need to do a setup.
The low E string rattled a bit due to the low action setup but now I could hear it through my amp.
So I redid the neck relief, string action, bridge height and intonation; the works.
Then I noticed something: when I pulled up strongly on the whammy bar the guitar went out of tune and I heard something, like a clicking noise. Dive bombing returned it to pitch.
I first thought it was a retention spring, but those were fine. Then I loosened the nut and had a look at the 2 screws that attach the nut's base plate to the neck.
I tried to move it but it wouldn't budge. But then when I put my screwdriver in I could fasten both screws just a tiny bit more.
I locked the nut again and did some whammy action... clicking sound was gone and it returned to pitch.
So the base plate wasn't secured enough causing tuning problems when using the Floyd as the nut could move around and that means (I think) the good people at Ran made an oversight when checking the hardware on this guitar.
I'm not sure what to think of it, it's an easy fix but I feel that shouldn't happen on a hand made custom shop guitar.
Still, after more playing I'm still in awe of this axe and now I've done the setup myself it plays like molten butter, which is a tad better than regular butter.

Removing audio devices in KDE4

Whenever I lock my KDE4 desktop there's no telling which audio output device I'll get.
I set it to 'Analog Stereo Output' in System Settings/Multimedia/Phonon/Audio Hardware Setup but more often than not Phonon/KDE4 (no idea what is responsible)  changes its setting to 'Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output'. It's possible to change it through Kmix as well, but it's the same UI as far as I can see.
No /etc/phonon config file to be found, so it must be a KDE component... fucking brilliant.
Of course there's no way to clickety-click remove audio devices from within KDE, that'd be too straightforward, right?
Anyways, I set out to find a config file and delete those #$(%#$ HDMI audio output entries.


Entries are like this:

[AudioDevice_HDA Intel, HDMI 0\nHDMI Audio Output_playback]
cardName=HDA Intel, HDMI 0 (HDMI Audio Output)

So I just changed the deleted=false like to true for all HDMI devices.
Problem solved.

Thanks, KDE, once again... KDE 4.7 and still not on 3.5's level of functionality.

15 May 2012

Sperzel locking tuners string breakage at the peg

I broke 2 strings before it hit me: you're not supposed to loosen the string completely after having tuned up with Sperzel locking tuners.
The thing with that is the string makes a really tight turn at the peg when tuned up and when loosening again it bends back, weakening that spot.
Rinse and repeat for every tune/detune cycle eventually breaking the string at the point it makes a turn to fit into the peg's opening.
Better would be, if you're planning to ever loosen the string that is, to insert it at a 1/2 or even 3/4 turn around the peg so that the weak spot never bends back when detuning.
Update: come to think of it, even 1/4 of a turn around would be enough. As long as the bend at the peg doesn't get straight again it should be fine.