Posted by: kubiakl | May 1, 2013

“My Way Home” Available

The Texaphonics debut album, “My Way Home”, is now available in the major digital music stores.  iTunes, Amazon MP3, and Google MP3 all have it for purchase.

It’s been a sincere labor on our part to get this record out there.  We have no expectations but really enjoy the music we’re doing and hope you will as well.

A big thank you to Aaron at Red Silo Studios in Georgetown, TX, for giving us this opportunity and coaching us along the way.

I sent a few of the tracks to Mick Brierley (because without his pickups my Tele wouldn’t have sounded anywhere near as amazing as it did) and loved his response:  “They make me think of sitting in an old 50’s or 60’s classic car driving through the backroads/outback, or sitting outside my old house looking out on the fields, it’s a great feeling they bring out in me, it’s what music is about, Love it.”

Couldn’t have asked for a better review because to me that’s what it’s about – a classic feeling without being a “classic rock” band.  We’re not revivalists or trying to cop a specific sound, we’re just making music and doing so honestly.  This is who we are.  There’s no motive other than doing what we love.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Posted by: kubiakl | April 15, 2013

Listen to The Texaphonics

Maybe it won’t be as long as I thought.  This is just a quick note to let you know that four of the tracks off of our debut album, “My Way Home”, are available to listen to on The Texaphonics website.

The Texaphonics

Just click on the “Media” tab and you can play the songs from Soundcloud.  We’re still working on getting everything set up for digital distribution but you can get a taste in the meantime.

Posted by: kubiakl | April 13, 2013

Long Time Gone

It’s been a little while, but I haven’t forgotten that this blog exists.  It’s just that things got busy for me last fall and it hasn’t really slowed down since.  I wanted to take a second though to let anyone who is still reading this know what’s going on.

The Texaphonics – the band I’m in has finally finished recording and mixing/mastering our album.  All of the recording was done this past winter but mixing and mastering took a while.  If you check out our website:

The Texaphonics

There will soon be pictures, links to songs, information on purchasing, all that jazz.  We’re still working on getting everything all set up for digital distribution – today was picture day for us.  They came out really well, our singer’s wife acted as our photographer and took some great shots.

Live shows may be coming soon as well.  So far we’ve restricted ourselves to two gigs – a cancer benefit and a backyard barbecue – because we’re still working on nailing the sound on the new songs that were written during the recording process.  By this summer The Texaphonics website should start showing places you can see us live.  All three of us are teachers so time during the school year gets a little tight.

It’s been a fun process though.  I like the songs we’ve written and the range they cover.  Our band grew out of two teachers (myself and the drummer) getting together to play, then starting to write, then bringing in the singer/rhythm guitarist later when we realized he could sing.  He’s never had a lesson, never thought about singing until I forced him into it, but he’s good.

And I think that’s what I like best about The Texaphonics.  None of us have really been trained.  None of us are from really musical families.  But the drummer has a great feel for music and the singer isn’t so polished he sounds generic.  It’s a sound I personally dig.

The album was a great step in learning though.  The producer/engineer taught as he recorded and really helped take things beyond the garage band level.  Everything was recorded at Red Silo Studios in Georgetown, TX, a beautiful little building close to the town square.

As for what was used – most of the electric guitar on the album was my Telecaster.  The Strat made a few appearances and the other guy’s Gretsch was used for a few things.  The backbone of every song came from the Tele -> TS9 Tube Screamer -> Fender Blues Jr. though.  For acoustics I used my Epiphone Masterbilt and the singer used his new Martin DSR (beautiful sounding guitar by the way).

The London Fuzz made it on a few tracks, as did my Catalinbread Formula No 5.  Another Catalinbread pedal, the WIIO, was used with the Gretsch for heavier sounds.  It belongs to the singer and is a fantastic sounding pedal.  There is some delay used sparingly but I don’t remember if we used my Mojo Hand FX Recoil or Matt’s delay (of which I can’t recall the name).

At any rate, check out The Texaphonics website for some updates soon where you can hear all this guitar obsession finally paying off in some great sounds.  And maybe I’ll be back on here to write a little more…

But it’ll probably be a while.

:)

Posted by: kubiakl | August 6, 2012

ProGuitarShop.com

So over the weekend I placed an order with Pro Guitar Shop for a delay pedal (the Mojo Hand FX Recoil if you’re curious).  Like an idiot I didn’t think to check the newsletters they send but this morning noticed they were still having a sale.
A quick phone call (it literally took less than a minute) to ask about having the discount retroactively applied and it was done.  I told the guy my order number and name and he said, “No problem, I’ll get that taken care of.”  That’s pretty awesome customer service.  PGS has a great selection and the prices are as low as you’ll find anywhere else.  You should also sign up for their newsletter – they actually write interesting articles and notify you of new products.

Pro Guitar Shop

While I’m on the subject of newsletters, I also like getting Mojotone.com‘s and Humbucker Music‘s.  Again, good articles and notifications of great products.  Both also have great customer service.

In other news, ever had a problem with your truss rod nut slipping?  Maybe the wrench is a little rounded or maybe the nut has been slightly stripped?  My Highway One Tele has the same problem.  I had been using the American Standard wrench that came with my Strat which is supposed to be the same size.  But from the beginning it always seemed loose, there was too much travel before the wrench gripped the sides.  Eventually that turned into it just slipping right past instead of tightening.

Sure, I was sad.  Best case scenario I thought I’d have to replace the nut (which can be a hassle), worst case is that the truss rod would have to go.  At that point it would probably just be better to buy another neck.  After some reading I came across these:

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Truss_rods/Wrenches,_hex_keys/Gripper_Truss_Rod_Wrenches.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=3211

They are the Gripper Truss Rod Wrenches at Stewart-Macdonald.  I figured it was worth a few dollars to try before worrying about replacing anything.  The nut only needed just a hair more tightening before it was set where I wanted.  The Grippers have a tapered shaft that goes from slightly undersize to oversize so they can grab the rounded out nuts.

And it worked!  No problems at all, just tightened right up.  The only downside is that, due to the long straight handle on the 1/8″ wrench, you have to remove two of the machine heads to get the right angle.  But that’s just a matter of a couple of screws… much easier than replacing the truss rod nut.  If you have 3-on-a-side tuners it wouldn’t be a problem, just the 6-in-line Fender style machine heads that get in the way.  I did e-mail customer service to ask about the future possibility of a right angle style wrench and they said they’d look into it.

If you’re having problems with your truss rod give them a try.  Sure saved my ass a lot of trouble.

Posted by: kubiakl | July 11, 2012

Brierley Pickups Demo

I finally managed to get a satisfactory demo for the Brierley pickups:

It was recorded straight into Garageband with no effects, so everything you hear is the sound from the amp.  My bass and reverb were turned up (just because that’s how I set my amp usually) and at times the bass was a bit too powerful.  But you should still be able to get a clear picture of how great these pickups sound.  Full country twang to mellow jazz, I tried to cover it all despite my limited capabilities when it comes to jazz.

In the beginning of the clip all that is used is a Route 66 compressor – my “always on” pedal – and later a Tubescreamer and Formula No. 5 are engaged.  So it goes clean, mild overdrive, then some greasy blues dirt.

Before making the video public I sent it to Mick for approval and it passed.  I figured since his name was on it he should have a say in the matter.  Since he was happy with it I went ahead and put it up.  Here’s another link to his website:

www.brierleyguitarpickups.com.au

The set I chose was the Brett Kingman signature set because his description sounded perfect – vintage with less spike.  If you have a specific idea in mind Mick is great about trying to give you what you want.  Even after I received the pickups he asked me to let him know if I wasn’t happy and he’d work with me to make it right.  Truly nice guy, but I was more than happy – these were exactly what I wanted on my Tele.

For the gearheads, here are the details:

Fender Highway One Telecaster with a rosewood fretboard

DR Pure Blues in .11 gauge

Glendale cold rolled steel bridge plate (Raw Deal) and brass saddles

Glendale Retro Rocket string ferrules (three aluminum, three brass)

Greasebucket circuit removed for a traditional .047uf Orange Drop capacitor

I really love these pickups and will definitely drop Mick another note if (who am I kidding… when) I need pickups for my next project.

Posted by: kubiakl | June 29, 2012

Brierley Pickups

My Brierley pickups came in the mail today.  I’m going to write in depth but just finished installing and testing them and want to say WOW.

Absolutely incredible sound, they are exactly what I was hoping for from my Tele.  As I said, more details will come but installation took me some sweat and I’m beat.

Posted by: kubiakl | June 18, 2012

Authentically Blue

I think this has been touched on before, but lately I’ve had a lot of time to think.  And as some new songs come along I can’t help but reflect on some of my old ones, songs that have been discarded.  Why were they tossed?  A lack of authenticity.

Writing started for me in college.  I can still remember staring out the window of an English Lit class and hearing a new song form in my head.  It was pretty cheesy, your standard heartbreak song, but it made me realize that I didn’t have to just play other people’s music… I could actually create new music.

And so I did.  I wrote about heartbreak, hardship, and rambling around, which is (coincidentally) what most of my favorite songs were about.  Since blues music was my cornerstone I wrote some blues songs, and since I was from small town Texas there was some country involved.  Generally you could tell what I had been listening to by what the songs I wrote sounded like.  I made no pretense about hiding my influences.

But good lord were they fairly awful songs.

What the hell did 19 year old me know about heartbreak, hardship, or rambling?  The worst breakup I’d been through was my old high school girlfriend and it didn’t really hurt.  Traveling around?  Yeah, summer vacations with my family.

19 year old me didn’t know a breakup so bad it would still hurt many years later.  19 year old me didn’t know what it would be like to watch an ex get married.  19 year old me didn’t know what it was like to be in a bad relationship that wore you to the bone.

So when I wrote about having to head to the steel mill and work like a slave, it was absolutely untrue.  I was at a private University on my parent’s dime.  I’m just glad that Youtube wasn’t around then so these songs exist as memories instead of videos.

Nowadays I try to stick to what I know.  I’ve made enough bad decisions in life that there’s real hurt to write about.  And I’ve been happy enough times to know what they should sound like as well.  There’s been hard times that turned out okay in the end, friends lost and new ones made, and enough time spent with the wrong girls to know when it’s time to go.

My songs are better.  Not because they’re true (many aren’t), but because the feelings are.  When I write and play a song about feeling blue now, I tap into what it felt like to be blue.  When I write a song about feeling peaceful it takes me back to those times.

19 year old me couldn’t do that, because he hadn’t been through those things yet.

That little bitch didn’t know anything.

Posted by: kubiakl | May 31, 2012

Wrong

Archers Of Loaf really don’t have anything to do with what I’m going to talk about, but it’s a good excuse to post one of their songs.

For over a decade I thought I was a Strat guy.  Most of my favorite guitar players are, and there is something just beautiful about Leo Fender’s second creation.  The three single-coil pickups allow a wide range of tones (especially with the 5-way selector switch) from the smooth and deep neck pickup to the twangy and cutting bridge sound.  Since installing the Mojotone Rene Martinez Strat set I’ve even found myself using the middle pickup whenever I want a greasy blues sound, whereas most Strat cats only engage the middle pickup in the 2 & 4 positions (combined with neck or bridge).

But lately I’ve found out I was wrong.  Please don’t misunderstand here – the Stratocaster is an amazing guitar and mine will always hold a place in my guitar rack.  It just turns out that a Telecaster might fit me a little better.

What happened is that I started playing my Partsocaster Tele a lot more lately and really got into the feel and sound.  There are less options (only two pickups and a 3-way switch) but those options sound great.  The neck pickup can be smooth and round, almost an acoustic sound, while the bridge is twangier and has a bright edge to it.

The only problem is the weight of the Partsocaster.  It’s ridiculously heavy, to the point where I can’t play it for extended periods without killing my shoulder.  Obviously (to any other guitar nut) it was time for another guitar.  Which brings up a LOT of different options.  There’s Fender of course, with many different offerings at many different price points from the $500 Mexican Telecasters to the multi-thousand dollar Custom Shop models.  Then there’s Squier, which uses overseas manufacturing for less expensive versions of whatever Fender offers.  (Our drummer bought a Squier Tele that was really impressive, by the way.)  The only reason I ruled out Squier in my search was the thin necks I kept finding on every one I picked up.  Those are great for some but mine need a little more meat.

There are also plenty of small shop builders who do various versions of the Telecaster, with custom and relic options.  King Bee is Gearmanndude’s favorite, and many speak highly of Logan Custom Guitars.  Bill Nash makes some of the best relics around.  Warmoth also makes just about every style of Telecaster body you can imagine, and the Stratosphere on Ebay has a great selection of production bodies and necks you can combine for your own Partsocaster.

I almost (and may someday) went with a new style that Warmoth put out, the Jazzcaster.  It’s shaped like a Jazzmaster, but with Telecaster routing and bridge.  I also almost went with the Fender Nashville Tele that includes a Strat middle pickup in between the traditional Telecaster neck and bridge.  But in the end I decided on a plain old Telecaster.

It’s a design that has survived 60+ years without a lot of changes.  It’s simple.  There are no contours or tummy cuts, and the only major update happened in 1950 with the addition of the neck pickup (the previous version, the Esquire, had only a bridge pickup with a switch to change the sound).  Small changes like the bridge plate and saddle design came through the years but those are easily switchable.  And we all know that pickups come and go.

The guitar pictured is what I wound up with, a Highway One Telecaster.  It’s one of the lowest priced models with a rosewood neck (requirement for me) and had a few options I liked.  Aside from being made, or at least assembled, in the U.S., it has a thin nitro finish and jumbo frets.  The thin nitro finish isn’t very durable but it allows the guitar to resonate a little more freely than the thicker polyester finishes.  Jumbo frets take a little getting used to but are nice for players who like to bend notes.

Things that will be changed:  the pickups – I ordered a set from Mick Brierley after watching a video Burgerman666 (Brett Kingman) put up on Youtube.  It was between those and Jason Lollar’s, and was a tough call.  The only reason I chose Brierley is that I have never seen a negative or even neutral comment on his work – every review is glowing.  Lollar is well respected but the Brierley set I ordered are “vintage with less spike”, which sounded perfect for me.  If/when I do new pickups on the Partsocaster it will be Lollars.

The saddles were changed pretty quickly.  Highway One Teles come with three steel barrel saddles with large grooves cut for string placement.  They sounded alright but the G string sounded “plonky” to me.  I ordered the Glendale Twang Plus set, which has three compensated brass saddles and an extra aluminum E/A saddle for more twang on the low strings.  Huge improvement and Dale’s work is once again top notch.

Fender’s Greasebucket circuit is a nice touch but I didn’t care for it.  If you use a lot of distortion you may really like it, I ended up changing it out for a 0.47 Orange Drop capacitor.

When the pickups get changed I will also change the bridge plate.  The ashtray bridge that’s on there is nice but very thick – some like it, but I think a thinner plate will give me what I’m searching for.  The Glendale Blackguard cold rolled steel plate is probably what I’ll go with.  And since I’ll probably get it in the Raw Deal unplated version, I may change out the control plate and knobs with the same material just for kicks.

So stay tuned for more Tele updates, because I’m just about tired of typing for now.

Posted by: kubiakl | April 29, 2012

Saddle Woes Are Over

My Glendale saddles for my Stratocaster came in yesterday.  I spent last evening and some of today adjusting everything back to taste and have to say – I’m impressed.  They sound better than the cast block saddles that were on my American Standard but are structurally better than the bent steel vintage style.

As you can see they are similar to the cast block saddles but made out of steel billet.  Not sure exactly what that means (and I’m too lazy to look it up), but I gather it’s solid steel that’s been milled into shape.

I ended up changing my order after Dale e-mailed and said the nickel plating was taking longer than expected.  The Raw Deal saddles were ready to ship and he was nice enough to allow me to switch.  They look great and I’m kinda glad that the nickel plated didn’t work out for me.  If you want shiny saddles the nickel plated sets should be ready soon.

Anyway, after changing the height adjustment screws out for my super long ones I screwed everything down and restrung.  It didn’t take too long to reset the intonation (after all the rounds I’ve gone with saddles lately I can get it close just by sight), then it was a matter of tweaking everything to balance playability with sound.

And the sound is incredible.  Less dense than the cast block saddles, less airy than the bent steel, just what I was looking for.  The construction is perfect – the screws are held tightly all the way so they can’t angle outwards and cause the problems I was having.  It’s a great mix of the two styles.

If you’ve had problems with the vintage style bent saddles and don’t know what to do, I suggest checking out Glendale’s offerings.  Steel or Brass, nickel plated or Raw Deal, he’s got you covered.  Many thanks to Mr. Clark and I’ll definitely be looking into his Telecaster parts in the future.

Posted by: kubiakl | April 9, 2012

Glendale Guitars

Well, a month has gone by.  My new Callaham saddles came in and were installed… they sounded great.  But one of the little bastards bent again so I had to give up the ghost and go back to the Fender block saddles.

Look, if you don’t have your bridge set up like mine the Callaham saddles are really nice.  The problem is that my saddles have to be set so high to get the sound I like that it angles the adjustment screw, which combines with the force of the string pushing down to bend the saddle.  Normal Strat setups won’t have this problem.

After resigning myself to leaving the Strat alone I started browsing for Tele stuff.  My Telecaster sounds really good (we actually bonded quite a bit over the Easter weekend when I recorded a lot of new ideas) but there’s always room for improvement.

The name “Glendale guitars” comes up a lot when you search for Tele parts.  Apparently Dale Clark makes some of the best Telecaster parts around (his client list reads like a Who’s Who of Tele masters – Redd Volkaert, Pete Anderson, Rich Brotherton, even Billy Gibbons).  He also does full guitars built to 1949 specs but that’s a little out of my price range to even think about right now.

While looking at his website www.glendaleguitars.com I clicked on the S-Style Parts tab… and may have found an answer to my Strat problem.  On a Tele site.  Dale has come up with block style saddles made out of brass and steel (you can choose either or a combination set) that look solid.  He also offers them with nickel plating or his “Raw Deal” un-plated and un-polished style.  He has Vintage (with center screw) and American Standard (with offset screw) and is about to start shipping them out.  You can pre-order a set at Glendale Guitars.

After verifying that the American Standard has an offset screw (this was before he put up the information on his website, with pictures), I placed my order.  Dale e-mailed me today to let me know that the order has been received and he will be shipping them soon.  I went with the nickel plated steel for longevity’s sake and to keep that steel tone but have to admit that the Raw Deal steel parts look pretty damn cool.  Might have to look into those for my Telecaster.

Anyway, that’s about all.  Still liking the Boss RC-3 loop station, it’s come in really handy for sketching out ideas.  I recommend getting one.  Just wanted to give a quick tone update while I had some time and my fingers were too sore to play.  Hopefully the Glendale saddles will solve my woes AND give me that great tone… I’ll be sure to let y’all know.

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