Teachers Blog

Guitar Pickups and Pickguards

WARNING: gear-intensive post. Reading may cause confusion (if you don't know anything about pickups) or sudden urge of buying more gear for yourself. You have been warned :-)

Those of you who know me, know that I like trying new gear to see what sounds I can get out of it. In time I have developed a sense of what I liek and what I don't, and I discovered that I am really picky on some things that previously I didn't thought much of.

For instance, pickups. 

I used to care just about playability and resonance on an electric guitar guitar, on the ground that everything else - pickups included - could be changed anytime. What I didn't realize until recently is that with my experience I can not only detect the nuances of different pickups, but that since pickups influence my sound, they also influence my playing. And that's why I started searching for the perfect pickups :-) 

Right now I am about to change pickups on my Strat, and endless research has led me to realize that I don't like at all the standard "3 single cois" or "a humbucker + 2 single coils" configurations that are traditional on a strat. What I really want is one humbucker on the bridge, and one single coil on the neck. I never use the center pickup.

Sure, the ones among you that know what I am talking about may try and warn me that this set could be unbalanced. Well, don't worry about that: with the pickups I'm going to install (which will stay a secret for a while...) and a bit of electronic magic the set is going to be balanced. 

No, the real problem was that I could not find a Strat pickguard without the hole for the central pickup. In fact I had also another "problem": I use only one Volume and one Tone, and I tend to leave empty the control position closer to the strings (this way I have more space to flick the pickup switch on the fly during a solo). Again, I would like to not have a hole there. I was in fact resigned to try adn order a blanck pickguard andcut it by myself  (how? no idea...). 

Just by chance I found out that Warmoth has a nifty applet online to order your custom guitar pickguard, with just the holes you want and in the position you want. Genius! And all this for $25 + $20 for shipping. Needless to say, I ordered it immediately and it is now shipping. I *love* living in the Internet age - you can have custom gear made for you for little money and have it arrive at your door in few days. 

Stay connected for the "tone tests" that I will do once the new pickguards arrive (I already have pickups and electronics ready to mount). 

Black Sabbath

Can't wait to hear the new album.


Hoping they tour through Edmonton when it's time.


This band (with Ozzy) is one of my very first influences, and one of two of the first bands I ever listened to after borrowing the "We sold our souls for rock 'n roll" cassette from my dad. 


Anyone remember cassette tapes? Lol :-)

The Hobbit, or How Critics Should Just Shut Up

 I've finally be able to see The Hobbit. I was somewhat anxious about it, as may critics (and some friends) warned me that the movie wasn't great or even good. As a die-hard Tolkien fan I know I am hard to please, and if you ask me about The Lord Of The Rings trilogy you may then find difficult to stop me yapping about what is wrong in there (i.e. Elijah Wood cast as Frodo the Hapless and an overabundance of Arwen, daughter or Stephen Tyler).

In any case, Peter Jackson is getting better with every movie, so I was hoping for an even better movie than the trilogy (which is mostly great anyway). 

I came out of the cinema thinking just two things: a) GREAT MOVIE! and b) what the hell these critics were talking about? So I went home and reread some of the websites and emails I got. Here's what I found:

  • "It's supposed to be a fairy tale and it's not". Um. I suggest people who think this way to actually read Tolkien. The fact that there is a humorous and playful undertone does not mean that people do not die, or that they never find themselves in dire straits holding for dear life. Tolkien is great (amnog other things) because he manages to keep together tragedy and humor. 
  • "It's not for kids". Again, read the books. The movie was also rated PG, and it's a good policy to read the rating before taking your kids to it :-)
  • "It's too long". I would have seen other two hours of it without taking any rest. The rhythm was great, the story well told, the amount of details amazing. Try to tell the same story in less time and you are leaving out important details
  • "There is much in it that is not in the book". Correct, but The Hobbit is not a single book, but part of a larger saga. In fact if you read only The Hobbit you lose half of the god things. Most of the added material comes from an appendix to The Return Of The King, and some other from The Quest Of Erebor (in Unfinished Tales). Pretty much everything on screen comes directly from Tolkien's pen. So again... read the books!
  • "It's too seriou/not serious enough". Oh shut up. The balance was practically perfect and alway a propos. 
  • "3D, 48 fps, high def make the movie look fake". Actually no. At least once in the movie I thought 'what is this person doing standing here on the row before mine' and then realized it was a figure in the movie. Sure, in high def it does not look like a movie. But it definitely looks real! Besides, how many of these critics would have noticed without being told that the movie is in 48 fps rather than 24? 

What I like about the movie was taht finally we have great actors. Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo (and, if even, makes me hate even more Frodo The-Fish-Faced), and has a great chemistry with Ian McKellen (Gandalf). The songs are great (The should have put more Tolkien songs in The Lord Of The Rings...). The scenery is fabulous, be it the ultra-detailed house of Bilbo or the cave of Gollum. The 3D enhances the scenes greatly, as in the opening sequences in Erebor or again in the cave of Gollum. A feast for the eyes, and with a great story to support it. 

There is nothing not to love in the Hobbit. And if some critics need to fill two pages of complains for every Hollywood movie they watch because that's what politically correct critics do, then you don't need to listen to them - epsecially when most of them display an abysmal ignorance of all things Tolkien. Do your research before criticising! It's your job!

Will count the day to the second episode. 


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