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Everything posted by Lectric

  1. Best advice I ever heard (or read), actually: Play anything you want, just play it with a jazz feel. You can play a plain C major scale with a jazz feel, for example. Just play each note of that scale in whatever place sounds, well, jazzy to you -- and think jazzy thoughts -- SWING, as they used to say -- when you play it. (In fact this is the only way you can play jazz riffs that have been written out as sheet music.) At its most basic, think quarter note-eighth note, quarter note-eighth note, dah-dit dah-di... You have to interpret eighth notes in a whole different way than you do in classical music. Also flat some tones in unexpected places, or add chromatics to get from place to place, just plain stop once in a while, learn which scales go with which chords, keep away from the tonic if you can -- and in your spare time listen to a heck of a lot of old jazz, starting with the real old stuff and moving forward to the present day. You can even play Haydn with a jazz feel.
  2. I dunno, but I suppose the violin that looks best is the one in the window that I can't afford yet.
  3. I play a mixture of folk, rock, jazz, styles on electrics ('65 modified Fender Mustang, '60 3/4-scale Guild) and acoustics (Gurian, Guild), all with necks that are probably too skinny for my large hands. I've looked longingly at those Tacomas with the 1-3/4" nut but they cost too much once the electronics are in them; have nearly bought a Seagull, same wide neck for less, but my kids say they'll confiscate my checkbook if I buy one more instrument; and I'll get a Telecaster one of these days, too .... The amp is 60s vintage, too (guess my age) -- an Ampeg Gemini 6, built for accordions. The tuning I like is one nobody else seems to use, but I've always found more versatile than any other: EGDGBE, standard with the A string dropped down. Then again I have a theory that the guitar should be thought of as a four-stringed instrument with two extra strings added just for showing off. In this tuning your top four strings are standard; your middle four strings are open G: and your lower four strings are fairly useless, but you can easily do a nifty little E-F#-G walk when you want. So mostly you play this tuning banjo style, in the middle four strings, reaching up or down as needed for a little accent, practically using the 1st string much as you'd use a banjo's fifth string, if that makes any sense. I always found tuning to DADGAD and Open D (or E) a bit too much work, and think it's easier to stay one string away from standard. Dropped D sounds much like DADGAD to me so I just use that if I want a DADGAD sound; although I like open D more, as it's the same fingering as the above tuning; just a string lower. When do we start the mando thread? I have a nifty Ovation mandolin -- and if you like Tacoma, their 8-stings are well worth looking into.
  4. I play a Baldwin (no, not the piano), about 25 yrs. old. Baldwins used to be Odes, I think, or became Omes, maybe (don't confuse your Omes and Odes, son), and only used the Baldwin name (yes, same as the piano) for a year or two. It has a raised ring and a zippy two-piece neck with a skunk stripe. I do remember that when I started out with the banjo I tried to learn from Earl Scruggs' book and just found learning off paper hopeless. Then someone explained that the Scruggs roll was the same as playing "Malaguena" and I got the hang of it. I think it's an instrument that's better learned by ear -- more fun that way, too.
  5. I use Prims (soft gauge) on my acoustic fiddle, and tuners on all strings. Both work fine.
  6. As someone who only improvises, I find all this amusing. It reminds me of the arguments posted by the 16-year-olds on the electric guitar forums on Harmony Central -- "I mean, man, who was the greatest guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Clapton?" As if SRV or Eric wasn't once just a second-rate white kid who had memorized all of Albert King's licks years ago... Knowing the mechanics of playing music, I suspect that any of the classical technicians mentioned earlier read the same pieces differently at each performance -- and that their recorded performances are NOT the entirety of their playing. These guys learned off the sheet music, for Pete's sake. The composer is the genius, remember? You fall in love with a recording, it's only the record of ONE performance, most of the time spliced together by a recording engineer. It is not nohow the fiddler's only version of the piece. Two years from now, that "nice rendition" (I quote the sainted Lawrence Welk here) will be entirely different, no? You don't like so-and-so's reading of the Tchaik? I guarantee so-and-so didn't like it either -- and is already working to make it better. As for the poster who said that Kennedy is a great improviser -- have you ever actually heard an improviser? Talk about a guy who can't even imitate Albert King!
  7. Hi, again, Just noticed that www.zzounds.com is also closing out Zetas, at $599. I play the Zeta Educator myself, and it's one of the very few instruments I've bought over the years I wasn't looking to replace, within a few months, or even a year or two, with something newer and shinier. It's a great little instrument, I think. Very simple, very good to look at. My particular one is the passive model -- it doesn't have the "silent" feature, just a pickup and a volume control, and I don't find it heavy at all -- perhaps the electronics add to the weight mentioned here earlier. If your Educator is heavy, you can remove the electronic junk, perhaps. The Educator's sound is very neutral -- which I think is a plus, and probably the reason it's been seeing use by Celtic bands and such -- it doesn't always sound as 'electric' as some others. At low volumes, or plugged directly into a recorder, it sort of fakes a warm, violin-like sound, and you'll need a good bit of volume to get it to sound as horribly screechy as a good piezo-pickup typically does -- but remember it is a piezo, and that eventual awful 'quack' is definitely there. (The main reason you'll need a DI box that has EQ and a notch filter.) Of course, once you add effects, it starts sounding like anything you want it to, although most of the time my effects make it sound like anything else BUT what I wanted. My playing, likewise. Going back to the original question, though -- do you really need all this? I don't think an electric is the way to go for someone who's still learning the instrument. The violin is a beautiful sound-producing device (hey, I sound like a Conehead), and playing through a wah-wah pedal sounds like, well, just a wah-wah pedal. I think a violinist's, or a fiddler's, first experiments with noise and distortion should probably be made with the bow, not a bunch of very expensive boxes. Remember, also, that an electric just makes the mistakes louder.
  8. Hi, Just want to put in my 2 cents -- The most important thing to worry about is your amplification -- not the violin. You're better off worrying about finding the right amp than the right fiddle -- that is, if you're planning on using an amp. If you're plugging into a PA, your most important investment is a DI box (direct input -- you to plug into one end with the violin cable, adjust the sound, then plug into the PA with a low-impedance mike-style cable). In either case you should use a preamp, which will be included in a Baggs or Fishman DI box. The electronics, not the wood, are what make the sound -- which may take some getting used to. Nuance is not the province of the electric violin. That's why, ultimately, the amp is the real instrument. Look for a very clean amp that doesn't color the sound much at all -- in effect, a small self-contained PA. Carvin, SWR and Tech 21 make amps like this. Keep away from Korean electric violins, they're very toylike and their pickup setups are rickety things that will not last. That includes the Yamaha, the Fender, and that eBay thing being discussed earlier in the thread. Go with a strong pickup on an acoustic instrument if you can't go for a Zeta or another of the better instruments -- bear in mind that Zeta sells a low-end model that you can pick up (used?) from their Web site for less than $600. I've also seen used Zeta Educators for much less than that. A pickup is even cheaper, and if it works for you then your investing is done -- and you can look for that perfect amp. Pay attention to the weight and balance of solid-body electrics; they're heavier than 'real' violins and some of the older ones will seem to become MUCH heavier after you play them for a few minutes. Another reason why the pickup-on-an-acoustic route can be more sensible. If you only want an electric to play through headphones as a 'silent' arrangement, you can also buy headphone amps from guitar shops for about $40. Some even have echo
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