Friday, November 28, 2008

The Little Drummer Boy

It's now Thanksgiving weekend. That means it must time to put up the Christmas decorations. There is a huge effort these days to move Christmas Decorations Day to October 31st. But guess I'm just a traditionalist.
Now... I'm not a particularly religious guy but last year when I was asked submit a Christmas song for a compilation CD I chose to go with an all bass version of 'The Little Drummer Boy".
The keyboards you think you hear on this track are not keyboards at all but bass guitar running through some of my many effects. On this song I am using two pedals from the Digitech X-Series. Those being the Bass Synth pedal and the Bass Multi-Chorus pedal. The drums and vocals are loops that put together in Sony ACID as a backing track. When I first recorded this song and let people hear it many of them seemed to describe it as sounding like a sort of weird horror movie rendition of the old classic. This has always puzzled me a bit. So I put together this little video of the sort of images that were running through my head when I conceived and recorded this little ditty. The composition itself is a slight take on the old David Bowie, Bing Crosby duet from an old TV show with a little Chris Squire and Bootsy Collins tossed in for good measure.

Hope you dig it. More pickup stuff next week I promis.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Happy official Thanksgiving everyone.

I and grateful for all the friends and clients I have had this year. I'll be taking the rest of the week off but I'll be back in the shop early next week to try to finish some mods on the 12 string bass pickup and a few other projects you might like to see.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving ( For the love of Money)

In a few days it will be Happy Thanksgiving. I'm getting started early.

You know, I don't really talk about world events much on this blog but today I'm going to. I'm not gonna preach but I want to say a little something about the economic woes that so many, from the wealthiest CEO to the poorest single mom seem to be facing these days. I have two things I want to say about this. The first is this...have a plan....

You see, we have had a very expensive and eventful year here at the Searcy house. I pay the same high gas prices everyone else does. Alicia's medical expenses have been significant. My truck was totaled. Food prices are over the top. The price of copper magnet wire and many other parts have been way up this year. We have had some unexpected trips to the vet with the dogs and I just learned I need $1000 for some dental work. But we are ok.... we have made it through all or these expensive things and we're still truckin'. Every bill got paid on time or early. Alicia and I were able to make it through this tough year because we have a plan. We haven't worried one single day about the bills getting paid or if there was enough money for gas. This has caused some of our friends to ask how we are able to do it.

Over the last month I have had talks with two different friends that are on the verge of losing their homes. As I talked to each of these families one thing became clear to me. These friends of mine were all living life without a plan. They just sort of bumbling along, hoping things will work out in the end. While none of them would qualify as rich they make good money. However this chaotic attitude towards finance insures that they live pay check to pay check year in and year out. They use debt and credit to impulse buy huge items like TVs, boats, cars, AVT and yes.... guitars that should require planing and bargain shopping. It's not hard once someone has developed this style of borrowing and spending to actually spend more money every week than they make. Once someone is on this road all it takes is one good pothole like sky high gas prices, slumping sales or a medical bill to send folks running to credit cards, payday loans, title loans, home equity loans anything to scrap together the cash to just barely make the minimum payments on this mountain of debt all the while being eaten alive by late fees and penalties. Maybe, as in the case of one of my friends, it starts sounding smart to float the mortgage just one month to get a little cash freed up.

Does this sound like you? Alicia and I used to live a similar way. For years I thought "well... we live paycheck to paycheck because we don't make enough money." But over time, as our income increased it became clear that this was not true. We were broke no matter how much money we made. The problem was how much we
spent. Finally we got fed up with all the stress and chaos and bad interest rates and bounced checks and minimum monthly payments. We sat down and started working out a plan. The plan consists of three major parts. The first part is a budget. To start gaining control of your finances you MUST sit down and do a total, prioritized, written budget for your family. Spend all of your money on paper before the month so you can finally see where it's going. You might be surprised to see what your Starbucks habit is costing you. This doesn't mean you need to cut out Starbucks but if it's going to be a priority for you then the $30 or so it's costing you has to be included in your budget. For more information on making a budget check out Dave Ramsey.

The second part is a simple philosophy.
Never spend more than you make. It's a small thing that has changed our life but it's one of the hardest for others to understand. Basically what this means is that we never borrow money. Alicia and I don't have a single credit card anymore. There is no car payment. No lines of credit hold up Searcy String Works. And they never will. If we don't have the money for something we want then we simply have to wait until we do have the money. Usually I hunt for a better deal while we am saving up the cash and many times I am very successful. We don't owe a dime to anyone accept for my hose payment and we are knocking that down as fast as we can.

The final part of the plan is to save money. Keep enough money in the bank to pay 6 months worth of expenses should you lose your job. This is a good number because it will cover most other things that come along too. Think about it for a second. Almost all those little and sometimes big emergencies that take such a heavy toll on our wallet have been a long time coming and are easy to see. Your tires
are going to need to be replaced. You roof is going to leak. You are going to get sick. Your car will die and need to be replaced. Your kids will need to pay tuition. These things are not sneaking up on you in the night like a Ninja. They are 60 yards out and barreling at you like a line backer. Be prepared. Don't expect a bailout.

Any way... I hope I don't sound preachy here. That's not my intent. I am Thankful for all that we have this year and I want to share a little of that with you. Take care of your money and you will be able to take care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love. If every one from the wealthiest CEO to the poorest single mom used this simple plan the nightly news would look a lot different.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Justin Poynter gets mellow with his Benavente Guitar(Jazz-90 Pickups)

Correction! This cat in this video is not Pete Poynter as I reported earlier but his mega riffin' son Justin Poynter.

Remember those old Searcy String Works Jazz-90s I wrote about a little while back? Well here is a video of them being put through some very tasty riffs by Justin
Poynter and his fantastic Benavente guitar. I'm always happy to see demos of the work that leaves the Searcy String Works shop. Be sure to tell Justin what you think of his video and his kicking pickups and remember that if there is a video of you playing some of our products be sure and drop us an email about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The long awaited Six String Bliss CD is out! (Stay Tuned)

It's finally here: Stay Tuned, 6SB community's TV theme song cover album. The listening experience begins here, but don't forget to download the album, read the liner notes and see the artwork. And hop on the forum and talk to the artists about their tracks!

That's right boys and girls. The guys over at six string bliss have finished the TV song CD "Stay Tuned". Did I mention that I did a song on this one? Did I mention that Steve Benford of Benford Guitars did a track on this one? Did I mention the Alicia did 3 songs on this one and came up with the totally cool title? I have to admit that it was a lot of fun listening to and working on. You might be surprised at how good these tracks are . The CD is fully down loadable and FREE! Click HERE to get your free copy. But to get the full effect, what I recommend is that you start by listening to Six String Bliss
Episode 125: Stay Tuned!
and let to Pipes and PT give you the play by play of the entire CD.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

US Veterans Day is November 11, 2008

This is a little dated now but the point still holds true.

Please take a moment today to remember and thank those who have given you all you have.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hello pickup my old friend.... (a Jazz-90 comes home...)

Anyone remember me telling you about my Jazz-90 Pickups? They were the result of aa effort between me and Steve Benford for his kick ass Surf-57 guitar. They sounded so good that when Chris Benavente asked for something special to put in some guitars he was taking to NAMM we quickly decided the Jazz-90s were the way to go.

They were designed to sound like a Fender Jazz Master pickup but withough the ugly HUGE covers. I won't say they sound exactly like a Jazz Master pickup but they do have that big fat soul without so much of the noise. I had a set come back to the shop this week that needed to have to leads replaced and some covers swapped out. Ain't they somthin all decked out in gold? Click here if you want to hear what she sounds like.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Born to run in the USA

Here is a shot of some Tele pickups I made last week. These went out to Steve Benford and were designed after Esquire pickups. They were to be used in a replica of the guitar made famous by The Boss. This iconic guitar was built out of old Tele and Esquire parts. I think the first time I remember seeing it was on the Born in the USA cover. Needless to say it's gone on to do a little rockin' over the years... A classic..

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This old Ric... (Dissecting a Ric 4001 bass pickup.)

Wow, TONS of work going on in the shop this week. I sent out about 12 pickups yesterday to all points on the globe... But the one I thought you might like to see is this one, a neck pickup from a Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The guy who sent it in thought it was dead and needing a rewind but the real problem was that the ground tab had come unsoldered. This was an easy fix and we didn't have to molest the windings so a lot of originality was saved there. I like when that happens. All I did was fix the solder joint and put a new lead on the pickup.

Rickenbacker is a crazy guitar company really. Their unconventional thinking can also be credited with allowing them to invent the first electric guitar. That's right... I said it... The first electric guitar was not the Fender Tele or the Les Paul or the Bigsby... It was The 1934 Rickenbacker "Frying Pan".

The more you learn about them the more you see that they rarely fallowed convention. That's a good thing because it has led to some truly unique and innovative instruments with a sound all their own. Think about Chris Squire, Geddy Lee and Lemmy... Starting to see what I mean?

The total lack of convention can be seen in their pickup construction. The flat work is a type of phenolic boards. Interestingly this was my first choice for flat work back when I first started making pickups. The poles they use for this 1970's pickup are steel rivets. Some of the newer ones use screws.The magnet on this one is a big ceramic unit. Later they started using rubberized magnets like you stick on your refrigerator. They use 44ga wire for the winding. Once the whole thing is done they spray paint it black and slap it in a nice chrome ring and it's held in place with an aluminum bracket which should introduce a ton of eddy currents into the sound... maybe it does. Perhaps that's where that cool barking tone comes from.
Hmmmmm....... Any way.... check it out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The new winder and the Bliss Busters

Here is a new humbucker I made for Jacko up in Canada. He wanted something different for his Explorer project so we worked out this custom monster to his specs. There are lots of small things one can do to a humbucker like this to shape the tone. Here is a new video of this pickup being made so you can see what a few of those things are. Most of the time I make guitar humbuckers in largish batches but when a custom order comes in it goes about like this most of the time.