In creating this track I had two purposes. First, try out a new plugin called Bass Professor II from Sonic Anomaly. Second, I have been practicing a cajon pattern in 6/8, so I wanted to try it out. No amps or amp sims were used. The bass is my Douglas Beatle-style bass direct into the UR 44 interface, with Bass Professor II giving it some dirt. The guitar is my Casino, also direct into the interface, with a touch of Dragonfly reverb. The Casino sounds surprisingly good with no amp sim.
The bass playing is pretty lame. Please have mercy.
Note: Remixed to emphasize the cajon more on 4/23/19. Later that day, added the organ pad suggested by Brian.
I seem to be encountering old recordings of things from my past these days. I have posted a new version of an old song. Now I have some more old versions.
Back in the 1970’s my friend Craig was in a band with Maury Manseau and a bass player named Bruce Buell. As far as I know, they were known as Maury, Craig, and Bruce. That’s what I called them anyway. Let’s call them “MC & B.” Maury had been in a band called “The Sunshine Company,” which had a couple of hits, one of which was “Back on the Street Again” by Steve Gillette. You can find this on YouTube.
MC & B were being produced by Bill McEuen, brother of John McEuen, famous banjo player in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The Dirt Band had had a big hit with their album, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” MC & B were playing five of my songs. At the time I thought they were going to be big and I was going to have a career as a songwriter. They recorded a demo at United Artists studios with a drummer named Phil Valentine who I didn’t know, but who had gone to the same high school as Craig and I. I guess he played in different bands. I never had a copy of the demo, but Craig still had an acetate, of which he made a digital copy for me. They played two of my songs. The first is “Waiting,” of which I have already posted a version here recorded a couple of weeks ago with Craig playing guitar and singing and me on cajon. The version from the UA sessions, probably 40 years ago, has Craig on vocals and Maury playing lead guitar on a Gretsch Country Gentleman through a borrowed Fender Twin Reverb on 10. It is pretty amazing.
The UA demo also has another song of mine, “I Might Have Known.” Here Maury sings and Craig plays flute.
Finally, Craig discovered a cassette tape of a performance he did at the Penny University Theater, a venue that existed in San Bernardino from the early 1960’s to the late 1970’s. These days he fingerpicks, but in those days he was an accomplished flatpicker. He is at the top of his game for the time. And at the end of that tape, he plays a song of mine that I had forgotten I had written, “If You See My Highway.” It has a surprisingly positive outlook.
MC & B had a falling out with Bill McEuen and the demo, other recordings, and my songs never saw the light of day. So instead I became an English professor. So it goes. And the wheel turns. It is all for the better. I suppose. But this is pretty good stuff that has been hidden for a long time, so I am happy to put it on the internet.
This track is with the new Lollar pickups through the direct out of the Katana. Rhythm and lead are both the neck pickup because that was what worked for the track. The rhythm is the clean model, the lead the super saturated “brown” model. On the cajon I am actually playing 16th notes with the left hand but all that gets covered up by the guitars so all that you can hear is the heavier hits with the right hand. I have to work on that.
I know the lead is excruciatingly corny. Oh well. I suppose it is the David Gilmore wannabe in me. At least it is not a black strat.
I haven’t picked it up yet (will do tomorrow), but Craig and Mike the tech say that the pickup transplant was a great success. According to Craig, “The guitar surpasses all expectations . . .ideal scenario manifested completely . . .a joy to play in all positions, keys, pickup positions, volume levels . . . tone unmasked . . . cat’s out of the bag . . . it purrs it growls it shakes it shimmies . . . success!”
Now it looks like this:
Cherry Red Epiphone Casino with Black Pickups and Knobs
Craig sent me a clip demoing all the pickup positions with bits and pieces of various songs. He is playing through a Magic Vibro-Prince, a boutique version of a Fender Princeton amp.
The guitar sounds glorious in all positions. This really is a special guitar, and with these pickups (and new tone pots, capacitors, and wiring), the special character shines through.
Today I went to Craig’s to deliver the parts that are going into the Epiphone Casino. We wanted to make some more tracks with the old pickups for comparison. Craig played the Casino through my Boss Katana 50. I played cajon. I didn’t expect to play cajon all day, but I was learning and it was fun, so I did. I have posted pictures of the Casino, the cajon, but not the Katana 50, so here it is:
Boss is a Japanese company, a division of Roland. Usually Boss makes effects pedals and Roland makes amps and synths, but somehow Boss made an amp. The Japanese character there is the hiragana letter that is pronounced “ka.” A “katana” is a Japanese sword, the big one. Samurai carried two swords, the katana and the smaller wakizashi. This amp is an incredible value. It can be loud or soft, has lots of features, sounds great and costs about $230.
Here is a track from the session. This was recorded into an iPad using GarageBand.
The song, sung by Craig, is one I wrote in high school. I think it was the second song I ever wrote. It was recorded by Mary McCaslin on her record, “Way Out West” on Philo records. You can still buy the CD, I think. Nice album.
Update: I should add that the song was inspired by the Sylmar earthquake. I woke up because because my door was rattling madly as if someone was trying to break it down. I opened it just in time to see all the electrical transformers on all the power poles in the neighborhood explode with bright white flashes. I thought it was a nuclear attack. That is what I meant by “And if it seems, we’ve come to harm.” I see that the quake was in 1971, so technically, it was a few months after I had graduated from high school.
I have decided to put new pickups and wiring in the Epiphone Casino. The options were somewhat limited because of the design of the guitar. The Casino requires a short dogear P-90 in the neck and a tall dogear P-90 at the bridge. After quite a bit of internet research and listening to clips, it came down to two companies: either Lollar or Kinman. The Kinmans are noiseless with some kind of advanced humbucking design. From clips, they sound great. They are quite pricey, however. Lollar makes a short dogear P-90 and the material on his site indicates that he understands Casinos. He makes a standard and an underwound 50’s style dogear P-90. I decided on the 50’s wind for this guitar.
Lollar Dogear 50’s wind Pickups
I felt that the stock Epiphone pickups were a bit too hot and a little lacking in high end, especially the neck pickup. They sounded best with the volume rolled off about 1/4 and with the treble in the amp boosted a bit. Here are a couple of clips of the stock pickups, recorded through the clean model of my Katana 50:
A blues vamp (neck, middle, bridge):
And another blues, a bit slower (also neck, middle bridge) :
I think the bridge pickup sounds a lot better than the neck. I will add clips of the new pickups in a couple of weeks, after they have been installed.