Saturday, December 15, 2012

more sketches

You may have noticed that this blog isn't as regularly updated as it used to be; sorry for that, but I've had some health issues in the last weeks, the kind that prevents me from practicing the very objects of gUitaREN: drawing guitars, playing guitars, building guitars and pedals. I'm confident that I can resume these activities in the next weeks, because I have like usually many projects, some left unachieved in the middle of the process, and some more that arose from my forced idleness...

Anyway, my music of the month is: the sound of a IRM brain scanner, that has something of Ryoji Ikeda's electronic music and reminded me of his performances with Japanese performance group Dumb Type, of which I've been an avid follower back in the 1990s when they where regularly performing in Europe. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

more sketches

Monday, November 12, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: I watched several times two excellent music videos - one is the brilliant cover by Neil Young of the Beatles' A Day in the Life, performed in Glastonbury in 2009, the other is Fast Enough by one-member band Gull - something that should remove anybody's inhibition to play music, however, whatever!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

print version of Sustain

I just received the print version of the 1st issue of new luthiery magazine Sustain that had the good idea to publish an interview of yours truly as-a-guitar-maker - you can order it or download it for free on the website of the Fellowship of European Luthiers (you can see it here together with my customized Kawai Aquarius I mention in the article). It's not only because they appreciate my work, but I must say it's a fine magazine made by instrument lovers for instrument lovers - it's not burdened by advertisement and doesn't deal with trends and fashions but goes to the point... 

There are articles that I found really interesting about various subjects - from something really technical and concrete about how to precisely route a guitar neck pocket - I was looking for that info and will apply it very soon -, to something almost esoteric but fascinating on analyzing the geometrics behind a Stradivarius violin design, via the report of an attempt to scientifically test and compare the qualities of famous old violins and newer ones - that has universal outcomes. 

I found some elements that I already appreciated in Leo Lospenatto's book 'Electric Guitar & Bass Design' (Leo is behind Sustain), a deep knowledge of traditional luthiery applied to contemporary design and technology (there's much he can tell about the geometrics of a Les Paul) and a refreshingly skeptical eye on guitar making mythology - his book confirmed a few things I suspected just from logic, that the tone wood has probably less influence on a guitar sound than the cables you will use to plug it in an amp, or that a bolt neck provides more sustain than a set one, though human ear cannot tell the difference (it has been scientifically tested and measured and will probably keep being denied by those who prefer legends to facts).

Well, both the magazine and the book bring new and precious information, and this is not common, when most of what I read about guitar making is just the same things again and again, and a lot is questionable, when it's not just advertisement for major companies...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

new alu pedal cases

Just received some alu cases to paint a new batch of pedal enclosures - more samurais and dragons and maybe a geisha... 

Monday, November 5, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: a lot of jazz versions of J.S. Bach's music - by Jacques Loussier, Edouard Ferlet, Bobby McFerrin or Ornette Coleman - I've always thought that Bach is a great jazz composer - maybe that's a French trait! Also I just discovered the electro-minimal jazz Moritz von Oswald Trio, their last album will probably be my next CD.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: Parlement/Funkadelic live in Houston in 1976, and 200 Motels of Frank Zappa - on video then CD... Isn't it amazing how Zappa's rigorous approach to his music would result in such humorous freedom? Sometimes I wish I could just let go and make this kind of music, but though I love humour and comedy, when it comes to my music I'm so very stern!

Also lately while listening to 1970s jazz-rock, I was wondering why many of my jazz friends seem to be kind of stuck in naively brainy and cold compositions and cannot reach the vigorous sensuality and liberty of the previous generation who they claim are their inspiration... 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a video by Dirty Primitives featuring the Plankaster!

This is the first video clip of French band Dirty Primitives, in which you can see the plankaster I built for David B. in action. Quite a catchy song, isn't it? 
Album is due in a few weeks!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another hand painted pedal enclosure

Another samurai-themed hand painted pedal enclosure - like for the previous one, I still need a Japanese friend to write the name of the samurai on it before adding the final layer of varnish. Also I prepared an Etsy e-shop that I'll launch once I have a few more items to sell - I'm waiting for new hammond alu cases to make a new batch after these tries out...

Feedback is welcome - and please spread the word to any DYI pedal maker you might know!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: live concerts on Youtube of David Gilmour and Roger Waters - I try to convince myself that it's not so bad to get old... And on CD, Bach's Golberg variations by Andrei Gravilov. But the main music of the week is me starting again to practice guitar and singing every day - recalling and upgrading songs I've stopped playing for too long after moving from Berlin, also upgrading my pedal rig for a new stage project that I hope will be performed this winter...

Monday, October 15, 2012

hand painted pedal enclosure

So here is something I had in mind for a while now, as I was trying to combine my appetencies with my competencies in a concrete project, that is to try to earn a little bit of money with my hand work - to fund my next projects. I want to propose hand painted pedal enclosures for sale, either with my own designs, or on order... 

Since I love 19th century Japanese prints, I started with a fighting samurai as a first try - I have other ones, also Kabuki actors, dragons, erotic scenes..., but people can ask me what they want; I never mentioned it but I happen to be an illustrator for some magazines (you can see some of my press drawings here).   

Is it a good idea? Is anybody interested? Feedback is welcome!




Saturday, October 13, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: I've just spent a few days in Berlin, and I couldn't help but listen to Lou Reed's Berlin album - and I've been roaming Berlin's autumnal streets humming Sad Song... 

I took the opportunity to go rehearsing a couple of times in the excellent Noisy Rooms studios I already mentioned here before. Everything's good there - good rooms, good material, good people... They are so pro that they even have spacious toilets so a guitarist can take a leak without having to leave his instruments outside unattended!

About sketches A & D, I keep on exploring an idea I had and posted last week (I'm quite happy with it actually). A comment pointed out that it would be better headless - I usually don't really like headless guitars but it was worth trying! Lately I figured out that it would be easier to have guitarists accept radical ergonomic designs by keeping everything else very traditional, mostly with naturally finished wood and good old chrome gear - including an old fashion Bigsby-like trem (Bigsby is more about good looks than good trem, isn't it?)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

an article in new luthiery magazine Sustain

This month I have the honor to have a few pages about my humble work in the first issue of Sustain, a new magazine published by the Fellowship of European Luthiers! You may remember that about one year ago, I posted about meeting Leo Lospennato, a Berlin-based luthier whose very interesting book had caught my attention.

Well, it happened that though I couldn't join his workshop as I had planned, Leo kept an eye on my blog and followed the making of my plank guitars with a sympathetic eye. When he co-created Sustain, he asked me to answer a few questions about this project, for what I thought would be an quarter page about crazy alternative lutherie. Maybe it's because I've been enthusiastic when answering and sent 8 A4 pages, but it ended up in a real article (I tell much more than I ever did in this blog actually), that I hope people will enjoy - and that might attract potential collaborators for concrete guitar making!

The printed version of Sustain is about to be released but you can download an electronic version here for free. The other articles are very interesting, with technical information as much as cultural ones, that's the kind of magazine that was missing, now it's there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: YouTubed concert of Adam Ant's new band in The Hague last summer. Adam is now in great shape after many years in mental disease limbos, and he's never as good as when he's playing his earliest songs - that are also the best ones! 

You might be surprised that I appreciate Adam Ant so much, but I can assure you that he and the different versions of the Ants have released some of the finest guitar-based music of the 1980s, something that might have been overlooked when they achieved mainstream fame. But in France Adam Ant was  completely unknown - media probably thought he was too British for continental audience! So back in the day when I started to listen to his music, it was still part of the post-punk underground, and it remained like this! 

He seems eager to tour intensively, I hope that I can see him on stage in my corner of Europe - that would be unexpected after all these years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alu log guitar project

In the last days I've been considering again working on an aluminium hollow-body rectangle guitar - since I plan to build an alu plate folder for a pedal I have in mind, I'm wondering if I should not do it big enough to fold a piece suitable for a guitar body... 

The back made of wood, one neck pick-up (that's what I use most), a wrap-around bridge (to make a shorter body), a diagonal F-hole, a second-hand neck (I have a couple), that should do!  It doesn't seem so difficult now than when I had an idea last year - I've learnt a lot since! And I will start building again soon after a few months busy with relocating and start a new life (again) in a new country

Saturday, September 15, 2012

more sketches

Music of the week: lots of Weather Report live - thanks to YouTube... I'm still amazed that I listen regularly to 1970s jazz rock, it used to be so far from my musical universe - even if I've always thought that quality transcend musical genre... The drummer of my very first band was a fan though, maybe the virus has a 20 years incubation span... 

Also listened online the new album of Archive, have mixed feelings about it - sometimes it can be really intense and beautiful, but it's not exciting enough - nothing like Portishead or the Dead Weather... 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

more sketches

Monday, August 27, 2012

more sketches

My music of the week was provided by the birds of the Austrian countryside, mountains and forest , where I've spend a few relaxing days - though I also had access to a workbench that allowed me to progress on my current project - about which I will post when it's more advanced...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

more sketches

Didn't listen much to music in the last days, I had guests and prefer not to impose my music... But I still played some Herbie Hancock and Headhunters, also watched on YouTube live videos of late Cure concerts with Reeves Gabrels holding the guitar - I understand that he will still part of the band for the next album, that is promising... And I looked at and listened to some Steve Reich - also on YouTube...

I'm still late on many RL projects like usually, yet I expect to post more regularly here now...

Monday, July 30, 2012

more sketches

Main music of the week: the two albums the Headhunters recorded in the 1970s without Herbie Hancock, Survival Of The Fittest and Straight From The Gate. Unavoidable if you want your head blown off by free improvisation while grooving on funky beats... On a funky mood, I also listened (and danced) to songs of Prince's Prince logo.svg album - I had forgotten how much I loved Prince back in the 20th century...

Won't be building anything and still not posting much in the coming weeks, for I'm busy with several projects until fall - some of them I will talk about here very soon I hope...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plankaster demo

Yes I know, I posted this video of David B. demoing his plankaster on Guitarz a couple of days ago, but it's worth being watched again, isn't it? I had very little time to test the guitar before sending it away and I did it on my Roland Microcube on the distortion channel - not the best way to hear its soul. Here I find that the alu cover on a chamber generates a quasi resonator sound, that makes this guitar a real blues machine, exactly what David needs for his Beefheart-esque band the Dirty Primitives!

Monday, July 16, 2012

more sketches

I've decided to cheer up my guitar sketches posts with a few lines about music - more exactly about the music I listen to while drawing. Most of the time I listen to many kinds of music on the radio or social networks, so I will focus on albums that made it through, or musics that are new to me.

So on my album list are newly acquired Lou Reed's Berlin and The DronesWait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By (about which I will write on my upcoming CDs non-review post). Also Gong's Shamal, an album I faithfully listen to since its release in 1975 (I didn't buy it then - I was too young -, but it was at home I don't know why, and I've been a Gong fan ever since, even in my gloomiest batcave teenage time), and that I used to motivate myself to get out of bed and proceed with daily life though it happened on unusually early hours.

My favorite band of the week is Black Angels that I just discovered thanks to Fuzz Box Girl's mix-tape, and of which I looked at all the live videos I could find on YouTube - I'm jealous of these guys, truly! And I thought I discovered something great when I heard this song of the Killers with Lou Reed, Tranquilize, then I heard other songs and without Lou Reed's presence, it's quite shallow, in spite of their singer's talent...

gUitarREN's facebook

gUitarREN on Facebook