Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mail Call!

Ok Folks, the old ATT email address is dead now. If you are trying to reach me at that address I will not get it. If your spam blockers does not have the new address I can't write you to tell you the old one is gone... Please make sure you have This new email address.

Got some 8 string guitar pickups on the way. More about those later.

In the mean time I thought you might like this old picture of my first pickup winder that was set up in the spare bed room way back when.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Vampire of Vaudeville ( meet J.A. Allen)

Alright, There are a lot of pickups coming out of the Searcy String Works shop this week. One was a set of prototypes to the Vampire of Vaudeville , J.A. Allen. J.A. is a great guitar player and owner of the Ten Ten recording studio. Check out this video of him playing live.

He was looking for a pickup maker who can adjust the design to fit his needs. The pickups I'm making for him have two rows of adjustable pole to allow for fine tuning of the volume. J.A. likes a controllable over drive distortion so these pickups aren't super hot . The are in the 13K range. Because his live shows are loud and sometimes in small club type venues we wax potted the pickups. They are made with 4 wire leads. Even though J.A. Allen doesn't need any fancy switching on these pickups I like to keep my humbuckers standard.

Hopefully J.A. will love these prototypes. If not I will rework them till he does.

Check out J.A.Allens interview with Searcy String Works conducted by my wife Alicia. Also be sure to check out these links to J.A. allen projects.

The offical VOV My Space page is a great place to hear some of J.A.s playing.
Ten Ten studios home page Runs a list of show dates where you can catch VOV live.

If your into high energy full on rock guitar you owe it to your self to check out J.A. Allen "The Vampire of Vaudeville" .

Friday, March 21, 2008

Masters of Metal ( where I come from...)

Alright, I thought I would let you know a little more about me on this blog. So every once in a while I'm gonna toss in some music that has shaped my life in some way.

Let's start with this classic oldie. Way back in the early 80's I was growing my musical roots and raging against the world by becoming a proper metal head! This was no easy trick because metal was underground and NewWave rules the air waves. Before the internet or MTV us little music fans had to dig around in crusty old record stores for back issues of Kerrang! magazine or buy underground compilation records to learn about new bands. One of those compilation records I got hooked on was a K-Tel record called Master of Metal. This was a fantastic record that ended up being one of the more important record I have ever owned.
Check out this killer bit of classic 80's goodness! I have taken the time to rebuild the record via YouTube (ain't the interweb grand?!) . I never knew some of these songs even had videos. After seeing them I wish some of them didn't have videos... but they do and they are huge monuments to early 80's cheese. Check out the great tunes and laugh at the stupid videos with me.

Here is a great song from the short time Ian Gillian was with Black Sabbath. It's all about just saying no to drinking and driving kid.

Here is a classic from Y&T(Yesterday and Today). Front man Dave Meniketti's guitar riffs and monster vocals ate top notch. It's one of the cheesiest videos ever but a great song. Dave is still out there pushing Y&T.

Rainbow was Ritchie Blackmores solo project after he left Deep Purple. He helped guys like Dio, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lyn Turner make a their names as top level singers. This video let's us play detective. Does he save the girl in time?

Now we move on to the heavy weights of the time. Iron Maiden! These boys have a better sense of how to use the new video format to show off their live performance. Steve Harris is still a god!

These days it's hard to think that Rush was ever considered Heavy Metal but back in the day they fit the bill just fine. "The space invader gets by on you.."

It goes without saying that no 80's compilation would be complete without the budget breaking "Breakin the Chains" Video from Dokken. I used to sing this tune with my first band back when... Check out George sportin' the skunk mullet! Great guitar player.

It also goes without saying.... Zebra! In the future this is what things will look like....right?

On this record Dio is not singing for Rainbow or Black Sabbath. He's singing for Dio. That's a 6 year old Vivian playing guitar too. How can you not love Dio?

Here is a fine Zepplinish epic tale of love, death, battle and revenge! What could be more Metal!!??

I can't show you that the next song is "Lick It Up" from Kiss. There's money to be made you know. This video had everyone wanting to know why Kiss took the makeup off. More post apocalyptic shot... All early 80's metal videos were lifted from The Road Warrior.

I also couldn't find a pro video of this classic but this live version is great. Still young, wild and free!

Not many know that before Twisted Sister put on the dresses and makeup they were a biker band. Don't believe me? Check this rocker out!

And .. there never was a video for Van Halens Dancing in the Streets but this will do! Everybody dance!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My baby wrote me a letter... (change of Email address)

Well, after a million years Searcy String Works is finally changing over to GMail from ATT. In the next week we will be killing off the old ATT email address. The new Searcy String Works E-Mail address is HERE

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Potting Pickups part2 (He's on the pot again!)

It snowed like crazy this week at the Searcy String Works shop. One of these days I'll get better heaters in the shop. Maybe a nice Franklin stove or something. But for now I just suffer through it.

I got a few more emails and a phone call this week regarding pickup potting. Seems there are still a lot of questions out there like "How do I know if my pickups need to be potted?" Well... let's see if I can clear some of this up.

It's not that tricky to figure out. There are really two types of feed back. First there is feed back caused by the guitar strings vibration. This is the good feedback. The kind that Jimi used to good effect. If your getting too much of it on your rig than you may want to look at a good Noise Gate pedal.

The second type of feed back is the kind caused by microphonic pickups. This type of feed back is totally evil and can wreck your day. If you like a high gain sound and you are playing an amp with more than 50watts of power in an enclosed room that isn't the "Enormo-Dome" than microphonic feed back is the devils work! It's caused by lose coil windings in the pickup. The sound in the room cause the the lose windings to vibrate in the magnetic field. This vibration is picked up by the pickup. That noise is sent to the amp which amplifies the sound and sends it out into the room through the speakers. The sound in the room makes the lose coil winding vibrate even more and the whole thing starts over again... thus we have feed back. This eardrum splitting noise will not go away if you mute your strings. It is not controllable. It's not musical and l hate it with a passion.

Now... Lately there is a fad among boutique pickup makers to poo-poo wax potting with claims that it kills the tone or " Those old PAFs weren't potted and they sounded great!" But the truth is most of those guys have never even seen a real 1960's Gibson pickup, let alone an honest to god PAF. It's true that they weren't potted. But what folks have forgotten is that they were considered nearly useless in rock music unless you had one of those magic guitar techs that could make them behave.

Eddie Van Halen made the PAF famous in a 1980 Guitar Player interview when he gave away a closely guarded guitar tech secret and told the world you could tame the notoriously microphonic PAF by wax potting it. Gibson started wax potting it's pickups not long after that . By the end of the 1980's almost all pickups were potted to prevent microphonic feed back.

Now, if you really want me to make you a pickup and skip the wax potting I'll do it. You're the boss after all. But don't fall for hype and don't be surprised if your unpotted pickup squeals like a pig when you crank your amp. Rest easy though, if you bought it from me.... or even if you didn't buy it from me.... you can send your microphonic pickup to Searcy String Works and I'll pot it for ya.

I charge $20 to pot a pickup.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Project Blue Balls

Ok... I'm a bass player at heart and I love to tinker with new gear so I got this Electro Harmonix BassBalls Twin Dynamic Filter pedal because I love envelope filters and... well... it was super cheap. I played around with it for a while and decided it just wasn't all that cool. It's pretty much a two trick pony. One is a wonky filter effect and the other is a wonky filter with crappy distortion effect so it went in the box of old stomp boxes I have.
Then the other day I got the notion to crack it open and see what was inside. This revealed two tiny trim pots on the board that seemed to set the notch for the twin filters. After tweaking them a bit it became clear to me that this pedal could be dialed in a lot better than the factory preset. In fact I was finding some very usable sound hidden in side this little box. That started me thinking that these pots should be easier to get too. Why not mount them on the front of the pedal??
Thus was the Searcy String Works Blue Balls pedal born. You can now get your very own for $130. In addition to the stock Distortion switch and Sensitivity knob I give you two additional knobs to adjust the notch settings to your playing style and your bass. For the low, low price of only $130 plus shipping and handling you get a new Russian made Bass Balls pedal with all new pots!! But that's not all boys and girls! You also get, at no additional cost!! three brand new, easy to read, easy to adjust chicken head knobs in beautiful corn flower blue!!! But wait!! There's more! We also include absolutely free, a brand new, smooth working mini switch to replace the clunky Russian made one that comes with the pedal. Now... how much would you pay for these exciting stomp box option? Don't answer just yet because that not all you get! Searcy String Work is also including, absolutely free to the consumer this cool Blue LED to replace the boring old Red one that comes stock on the pedal.
The result is an envelope filter that is unlike any other. It will make all the cool sounds the Bass Balls is known for but this improved adjustability makes what was a gimmicky toy into a far more versatile tool. Tweaking these knobs just a degree or two can make a big difference in how responsive it is it is to your playing. It can also be used with guitar to good effect. Here is an MP3 of my playing around with the new Blue Balls on guitar and bass.