Archive for the 'guitar' Category

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at Barbican

March 21st, 2010

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

The Curve at the Barbican has been taken over by flock of zebra finches that like to rock out, they seem to have expensive taste too – £1,500 Gibson Les Pauls for the lead guitar loving finches and £1,000 Gibson SG Standard Bass for the finches that like it heavy.

The installation by French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot is supposed to draw on the rhythms of daily life  to produce sound in unexpected ways, with the finches freely able to fly between the electric and bass guitars, microphone stands, and cymbals filled with either seeds or water.

Some of the guitars seemed to be open game for any of the finches to fly to and use as a perch, but others had two finches attempting to build nests on them and any other finches that tried to perch there would be shooed off.

The nesting finches seemed to lay down a rhythm, as they would frequently fly off to root out something to use to build the nest, then fly back and land on the guitar stings in a number of places. Other finches would crash loudly onto the bass guitars but not stick around for long.

The cymbals were an interesting idea, as the finches peck at the seeds they bash the cymbal, depending on where the cymbal is bashed you get a slightly different sound.

Overall with the various guitars sounding (with some reverb and delay), alongside the cymbals sounding and of course the finches own bird song, you get a strong ambient vibe from the installation that essentially is just nature doing it’s thing, not composed and completely unique.

Despite really enjoying being in an environment where sound was being created in such a unique way, I have to admit I came back with mixed feelings. Guitar surfaces are lacquered and as such the finches that were attempting to nest efforts were in vein; anything they built up eventually slipped off onto the floor. The finches were slipping around on the guitars too.  Seems a tad cruel, I’d expect more from the Barbican.

Admission to the installation is free and it’s open until 23 May 2010; due to the open nature of space there is a limit of 25 visitors at a time, so expect a bit of a queue (30 mins roughly) if you’re going during peak times.

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster Fifties

November 1st, 2009

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster Fifties

It’s only been six months since my last guitar purchase when I made the transistion from learning on an acoustic to learning on an electric guitar; I am still really stupidly happy with my Fender Telecaster Deluxe 72 and it’s mix of tones and sounds that are somewhere not quite Telecaster, not quite Stratocaster.

Unfortunately when you’ve been bitten by the bug, it doesn’t look like there is any going back. Since I first started learning to play my eyes have been glued to guitars, reading what the experienced players on the forums have to say, trawling YouTube for videos of good guitarists and seeing what they like to play with.

There’s no doubt that in terms of versatility Fender’s Stratocaster is one of the first to come to mind, and I figured that if I could find a reasonably priced second hand Stratocaster (I was aiming for one made in Mexico) then I’d have a choice of guitars to play with, ultimate goal being keeping me proactive about my learning.

So I popped into Rock Around The Clock (who by the way I usually rate much more highly than anyone you’ll find on the likes of Denmark St) and started enquiring about how often Stratocasters come in second hand, what sort of condition they are in, how much they cost and so on. I was told £500 realistically, which makes you question what condition the £250 models you see floating around on eBay are actually in.

I must have looked a bit defeated, because they pulled off another guitar from the rack, immediately I squirmed at the Squier branding knowing that they’re not exactly known for the same build quality as Fender’s main factory and the pickups aren’t usually all that great.

Blow me though, the sound was brilliant for the price, and thus I was convinced, I needed to have me a Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50s.

The Classic Vibes are designed and made by Fender supposedly as a homage to the “vibe” of classic guitars rather than a nod at any specific model of the times, but they haven’t skimped on this series, the build quality is amazing, the neck is as smooth as butter just like my Telecaster Deluxe.

I picked her up yesterday and within 5 minutes my guitar teacher successfully broke the strings whilst stretching them, so I had to patiently restring it yesterday evening when I had some free time before I could actually have a proper play with it, but it’s all set up now and plays absolutely beautifully.

It’s a lot lighter than I thought it would be in both weight and sound, a lot less meaty and vibrant than my Telecaster Deluxe, but I’m still having a lot of fun with it already and am completely glad that I picked one up whilst they’re still making these bargains.

Fender Classic 72 Telecaster Deluxe

April 27th, 2009

Fender Classic 72 Telecaster Deluxe

It’s been six months since I started learning to play acoustic guitar with my trusty Yamaha FS720S. I’ve mostly been led by my guitar teacher towards the blues and funk orientated music from the likes of the Chili’s, so when it came to buying an electric guitar I wanted to get something that had that character and versatility of tone that could cover those styles.

With my sensible hat on, I set myself a budget (cue laughter here) of around £300 for an electric guitar, and popped down to the local guitar shop with my teacher. First of all I tried out a crimson red Tokai ES60 335 Semi-Acoustic, then a Squier Standard Telecaster, a Vintage VSA 575, and probably a handful of others as well, including a Stratocaster (you just have to).

My favorite of the bunch was the Tokai, a Gibson reproduction with a fairly unique sound that had a lot more depth than the other guitars, also some good flexibility, unlike the Vintage which had very strong jazz tones.

Then everything got thrown to the fire, as my guitar teacher pulled an axe off of the racks that didn’t have a price tag on it, the Fender Classic 72 Telecaster Deluxe. It has two wide-range humbucker pick-ups which give an amazing blues tone, a body made of alder, neck made of maple with a stratocaster style head, 3 bolt with micro adjustment for the neck, bullet style truss rod, and in Sunburst Maple it looks as beautiful as it sounds.

So gave it a run through with the same old songs I’d played on the other guitars and basically that was that, it blew all of the other guitars away, I walked out paying £625 including a Line 6 Microspider amp, and a cable to get me started.

I seriously have barely put it down since I got it home. I’m new to electric so I can’t preach about all the different tones, but just playing switching between the pick-ups, and adding a little reverb on the amp has given me days of fun so far and I can see this being a long term companion on my musical exploration!