I’d forgotten how much I love the mandolin, which is hard to do since I own two of them. But I unpacked one of them a day or two ago and got back to working on it. I’m quite pleased I haven’t forgotten everything of the little I knew.

Of course I had to try all my recording gear on it. I don’t have pickups on either mandolin so I recorded the following with my el cheap condenser microphone. There’s background noise to be sure as I didn’t even bother to close my room off, but hey, I just wondered what it would sound like. Now I know:

I’m playing both the lead and the rhythm mando parts. The guitar is a jam track except from TrueFire.

Better watch out, or I’ll bring out my banjo next time…I’m even worse on that instrument.


TDF: The beginning

Back to biking. Today the Tour de France started…in Düsseldorf, Germany of course. I love watching the darn thing, not because i have any thoughts of every competing at level, but because it’s so darn beautiful. If, like me, you’ve never been to France, this is a great way of seeing a bit of it. I’ll also state that I don’t really care about doping. I’d prefer they didn’t, but I’m not going to stop watching. Hypocritical, a bit I’m sure.

In Hawaii the darn thing starts at, “way too early,” at around 3:30 AM. I’m going to watch delays for the most part – though on days I work I’ll be able to see the finish of each day. Fun.

But even more fun than watching the TDF is simply going out and riding. My friend Chevy and I rode around Diamond Head today. I do that all the time, but this was her first shot at it. She and her partner, Ted, will be off to a bike trip in Ireland sometime soon and I’m helping her get ready by showing her the ropes in city riding. She’s some a long way in just a few weeks.

That’s it for today I think. I’ve watch day one of the tour, I’ve had a nice bike ride, and I just ate dinner. Maybe a nap before bedtime, yes?

Tone: The Crazy Comes Out

Tonight I really wanted to take my crazy for ride. I didn’t, but hey, it was clearly there. What you ask? What sort of crazy?

I went to my local music shop, Easy Music Center, for the Taylor Guitars Road Show. Naturally enough one the guitars caught my eye and I simply had to have it. Luckily I escaped, but only because I had somewhere else to be. If I’d have stayed I don’t doubt I’d have ended up with one – especially as there was a bit of discount involved. Whew…sigh of relief.

What guitar? It was the Taylor T5z. And no, because you’ll ask, I didn’t play one. And yes, I know, I should play one before I buy. I will if it comes up again – hopefully it won’t.


Mostly I wanted it because it looks cool and they had a fantastic guitar player there who coaxed some great sounds out of it. Wayne Johnson, a real pro, was along for the show and he’s been around, playing with Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, and a host of others. It may not be the guitar I want, it may be his tone.


But as I said, I had to leave and I did it in style. Well not from the store actually, but hey…

I took my first ride on Honolulu’s bike share system, Biki. I’ve used bike shares in other places, most recently in Manhattan where it was great for getting around. Turns out it seems okay here too. It’s expensive I’m told, $15 a month for unlimited 30 minute rides, but there seem to be a lot of stations around, more planned, and at least for now, the bike are in good condition. I rode from my neighborhood to downtown Honolulu, did my thing, then got another and rode back to a couple blocks from my place. Nice.

Once home, I change the settings on my new DI a bit and got a nice fat tone on my guitar, then played with Ditto for a while, over and over.

Ditto Looper: Second Iteration

As often happens when I get a new toy, I’m anxious to try it out. So yes, that’s the first thing I did when I got home after work yesterday. I had some other plans as well, but first, the new Ditto Looper. So how is it?

Great. I was warned at Easy Music Center, the local shop I patronize, that as a neophyte looper I might prefer one with two switches, one being a dedicated off button, but it turned out I’m okay at stomping. It’s not all that hard…you stomp once for on, again for stop, twice for really stop, three-two-one-three-one for real confusion, and…nah, it’s easy.

Here’s the thing. For some reason with the looper on my Trio+ I could never quite get my timing right. I can when I use it with the Band in a Box feature, but not when using it just a looper. It’s me I’ll grant, but still. I had no such trouble with the Ditto. I’m not perfect, but I can get a pretty seamless rhythm track going. My neophyte secret…

  1. Use a metronome.
  2. Play through once, or at least the ending before ‘starting over.’ That is, don’t begin playing and recording at the same time – play for a bit first then come back to the start and loop.

That’s it…no big secret.

But sadly, this has brought out something else I need in my signal chain…sigh…always, eh? I need a decent DI. I have several guitars with pickups now, the Martin has the Baggs M80 which is pre-amped. The others, not so much. So…back to the store for more.

What happened to just playing a nice acoustic guitar?

Ditto Looper: First Iteration

My buddy Andy, a better guitarist than I am though he probably won’t admit it, has suggested I play around with a looper, specifically the Ditto. He really likes the simplicity of it. I’ve actually got a looper on my Trio+, but it always sounds a bit muddy to me. Now keep in mind, I often sound muddy to me, so I’m not suggesting it’s the pedal, it’s me, but I did get to thinking maybe simpler is better to start.


So I’m willing to give it a shot. Basically I want something that’ll improve my rhythm. I do use a metronome but I also like the idea of looping some chords and playing over them. I do that right now with my Trio+, with Band in a Box (I love biab), and even with GarageBand and Logic Pro X. All of those work, heck. so does recording with my phone. But I’m looking for something to use quickly, easily, and with a minimum of fuss. I’ve been assured this is the real deal.

We’ll see.