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New guitar in Ember Studios: the Koll “Gothcaster VI”

Ember Studios is equipped with a number of custom Koll Guitars. Saul Koll is an amazing builder, and I love working with him to create unique instruments, such as my beloved Koll “Sun Glide.” So as a fan of the gothy, atmospheric sounds from like The Cure, and the detuned metal sound of modern heavy bands, I was looking for a mash-up of the old Fender Bass VI , with modern, heavy rock appointments—and most importantly, left handed, and we came up with a hybrid beast we dubbed the “Gothcaster VI”

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For the musicians out there, here are some specs for you:

  • 28″ scale
  • Korina body, Maple neck, ebony fingerboard
  • Aluminum inlay and purfing
  • Hipshot locking tuners
  • Bare Knuckle Black Dog humbucker pickups
  • Mastery Bridge
  • Distressed nickel hardware
  • Fender Bass VI strings (.24 – .84 gauge)

The guitar has a black satin finish, and a great silver/black “doghair” texture thanks to the silver grain filler that you can see more clearly in this body close up:

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I really love the hardware controls on this instrument:

  • Master volume and tone knobs
  • Three-way mini-toggles for coil-split/off/humbucker per pickup
  • Three-way toggle for “strangle” switch/out of circut/kill switch

The “strangle” switch is a high pass filter that cuts the bass and hollows out the tone like a notch filter. Back in the day it was used to get that “tick tac” bass sound, but under heavy crunch it sounds great, lending a far more “guitar” sound to the lower register.

Despite being longer than a standard guitar the instrument is surprisingly light and really balanced. The satin finish feels absolutely fantastic, especially on the back of the neck.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the “Gothcaster VI,” and I look forward to recording it and integrating it into future Ember After tracks. Saul Koll is a wonderful and creative builder, and I’m thrilled he’s so willing to build these crazy, non-standard instruments!

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Ember After now on Beats Music

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Ember After has just finished its next single, and is working on another EP! But while you wait for that to drop, you can now listen to Ember After’s two previous releases, Grasping At Straws and The Misery EP, on Beats Music.

If you’re not familiar with Beats Music, I doubt you’ll want to sign up just to listen to Ember After. But if you are curious about it, they ofter a 14-day trial, and if you’re an AT&T Wireless subscriber, you can sign up for 3 months free. Enjoy!

 

 

NAMM 2014 Ember Member Style

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It’s been quite a while since I updated this site, hasn’t it? Well, rest assured behind the scenes coolness is afoot—another EP is well underway with our first single already finished, a web refresh, etc. But part of the ramp up to cool stuff is to get back in the habit of letting you know what we’re up to, so here we are.

And speaking of cool stuff we were up to, another Winter NAMM show has come and gone, and with it hundreds of vendors displaying a plethora of new shiny designed to catch our attention and (they hope) our dollars. As ever, I’m not going to give you a complete rundown of everything new at NAMM, nor will I give complete reviews. Instead, I’m going to focus on just a few things that as an artist I saw that caught my eye.

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Why there are no “relic” guitars in Ember Studios

I just saw another advertisement for a new “relic” guitar. This means that you’re buying a brand-spanking new guitar, but they chip and fade the finish and add scratches and dents for you:

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And the kicker? These “designer guitars” are more expensive. Sometimes by thousands of dollars.

Every time I see ads for new guitars, it reminds me of a car trip I took when I was in college. I hopped into the back seat, wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans I’d owned for a long time. One of the girls looked at my knees and asked “did you buy those pants like that?” I looked at the threadbare thighs and the holes in the knees and thought she was kidding. “No, I just wore these out,” I told her. “Oh, I bought these like this,” she said. And I looked at her jeans and realized that she had a basically new pair of jeans with “designer holes” in them.

And that’s when I realized, I will never, ever understand fashion.

But my basic incredulousness is the same, if we’re talking about guitars or jeans: why would you pay for something to look ravaged by time? Those old “relic” guitars weren’t that way originally. The “lived in look” came from years of use and abuse. If you buy a guitar that already looks 30 years old when you buy it…how do you think it will look in 30 years?

Some people say that guitars that have been “worn” have a more “lived in” feel right out of the box. Well, maybe they do. But isn’t half the fun wearing it in yourself? I have some guitars with chips and wear and each represents many hours of use and joy, not simply my economic buying power.

Ultimately, of course, people can do whatever they want with their money, and if they want to buy something that looks like it’s been run over buy a truck they certainly can. I’d rather buy something that looks shiny and new, and then wear it down with my own hours of woodshedding and performing. This is just a trend/fad/style that I’m afraid I will never understand.

NAMM ’13 roundup Ember Studio style

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I’m back from the NAMM show. There are a ton of roundups all over the net, so I won’t bother with that. But like years past, I’ll note those specific things that I could see as part of Ember Studio. For those who aren’t as interested in music tech I’ll put my list of stuff behind a cut.

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NAMM 2013

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If you’re familiar with the music or music instrument industry, you know what NAMM is. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I’ve written repeatedly about my relationship to, and participation in, the NAMM show. This year is no exception. Today, my coworkers from my publishing company arrive in Orange County, and tomorrow the meetings begin. As I’ve said before, if you are as enthralled with music, musicians, and music gear as I am, it’s like having a sweet tooth and meeting in a candy shop. Even if sitting in the meeting itself isn’t your favorite thing, the environment makes it that much nicer.

I might have time to blog the odd picture of something particularly cool, we’ll see. But if there’s radio silence until my meetings, dinners, and the inevitable drooling over gear is over, well, NAMM is why.

New David Bowie Single!

One of our musical icons and heroes is David Bowie. Bowie’s last album was 10 years ago. On tour, he was felled by health issues, and with very few sightings and no real interviews, he took the last decade off. Out of the blue, last night, on his 66th birthday, he released a single, Where Are We Now. It’s a haunting song with a haunting video that you can catch here.

Also announced on his website is a new album, The Next Day, to be released in March and already available for pre-order.

This album is a complete surprise to nearly everyone. I’m still wrapping my head around the single, but regardless of that I’m thrilled that Bowie is making more music, and it’s great to have a new release on the horizon!

Rush finally inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

If you follow Ember After at all, you know we like Rush. We even have a cover of Subdivisions. So it is with a sense of happiness that we report that Rush is finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As they should have been years ago. But that’s another rant.

Anyway, congratulations to Rush. And just for good measure, here’s a our cover of Subdivisions:

 

Celebration in Led

We’re all big Zep fans here in Ember After. The very day it was released, I bought the Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Deluxe Edition. It came with a blu-ray of the concert I describe below, a double-CD set of the music, and a bonus DVD of news footage and a dress rehearsal. There is a less expensive blu-ray/CD package without the DVD bonus, a CD/DVD bundle, and then various ways to buy the movie and the music digitally via iTunes, Amazon, etc.

For those of you who don’t obsessively pay attention to all things Zep, in 2007 after the death of Ahmet Ertegün, the record mogul who signed Led Zeppelin back in the late 60s and became the band’s friend and mentor, the three surviving members of the rock quartet decided to do a benefit show for his charity at O2 arena in London. Drums were handled by Jason Bonham, son of their late drummer John Bonham, friend of the band, and great rock drummer in his own right. For the vast majority of the world’s population that didn’t make the show, we had to take everyone’s word for it that it was absolutely spectacular and amazing, the few YouTube clips from mobile phones and odd news clip being all we could get. Celebration Day is the professionally filmed and recorded footage of that show.

Everyone was right. The show was amazing. All three original members were either over or pushing 60, and yet they performed with as much passion and energy as bands easily a third their age. They looked good on stage too, still commanding and like a band, not a trio of aging former friends trying to rekindle past glory. A special nod must be given to Jason Bonham, who not only held his own on the drums, but added some great backup vocals. He was warmly received by the fans and the band and left everything on the drum kit—he earned his  ovations.

And their songs are just as powerful as they ever were, and arguably played even better. Led Zeppelin during the 70s was known for their live shows being excellent but erratic, the quality often depending on Jimmy Page’s state of health and chemical intake. The four men were present and in great form; Robert Plant has long since lost his highest register but he handled the tuned down songs incredibly well.

There was talk of a tour afterwards, but Plant wouldn’t have anything to do with simply cashing in for its own sake (and allegedly turned down $200 million). So if you either are, or know a Led Zeppelin fan, this collection is as close as you’ll get to the real deal (sans John Bonham, but all respect and honor to his son who does him justice and made him proud). They wrote the book. And I can’t possibly recommend Celebration Day more highly.

I sometimes say that if I had to some up rock in a single song, that song would be Kashmir. So here they are, Led Zeppelin, performing Kashmir on December 10th, 2007.

New YouTube video for Sick Of It!

Ember After’s world conquest continues with a new lyric video for Sick Of It from The Misery EP!

Our plan is to continue to upload more of The Misery EP and other songs to YouTube, since these days it seems YouTube is one of the most popular ways for kids to stumble across songs. Eventually, we’d love to do more involved and creative (and expensive) videos, but that depends to some degree on sales of The Misery EP picking up.

Until then, enjoy Sick Of It, and if like it, please consider buying it via our bandcamp or iTunes pages.

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