Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Visit to the Deering Banjo Factory

Deering Banjo of Spring Valley, California is the largest banjo maker in the United States. They've made over 80,000 banjoes, from the basic Goodtime model to the Black Diamond - with mahogany resonator and mother-of-pearl details. Here I am in the showroom, getting ready for a Factory Tour!

Gold engraved hardware. Sounds as good as it looks.

Platinum records on the walls, courtesy of Deering Banjo customers. This is a serious, high class instrument maker, well respected in the music industry and a world leader in fine woodworking craftsmanship. Some people think of hillbillies and backwoods hicks playing these beautiful pieces of art, the modern banjo. It's ridiculous, though. We need to stop demeaning these players and give them the enormous respect they have worked so hard for.

What's that? A banjo sweep broom? I LIKE that!

And that thing in the corner, is that a pretty little milk can - farm tractor seat to sit on while you're playing the banjo?

Look at the top of the seat - "DEERING!"

And what is them things in that basket over there? Are they real? They sure is! They is real life toads what somebody hollowed out, put zippers on and uses for a banjo pic case. They is toad what live in sugar cane patches.

See what I said? Them's CANE TOADS! They is a bit steep at 25 bucks, though.

An look at the funny pigs! The Deering folks have these little sculptures all over their showroom cause they so funny. That one in the mud he the BOSS HOG.

An dat dog, he jus a loafer.

Well it's time to see the factory, and here's the guy that makes 'em. He's sanding that neck perfectly, no loafin' going on here!

Sustainable hardwood from around the globe.

Then they steam the hardwood strips, and slowly press-feed them into the custom round forms you see in the front. Slow and careful!

Here's the main floor, each station does something different....

Those are banjo bodies being quality checked, they're smooth and perfect, and they feel great!

THANKS, Deering Banjo! 
We love your FACTORY TOUR!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sophia Records a CD!

Sophia just recorded a quick professional demo CD of her favorite songs. Max did the acoustic and electric guitar work with her, but some of the best recordings were of Sophia singing and playing on a giant Yamaha grand piano. It sounds AMAZING. The recording and mixing engineer says that he's never recorded anyone singing so well, let alone playing such perfect and full piano at the same time! He actually gave us an extra hour for free because he wanted to go the extra mile doing a really precision job on the mix.

This was a huge amount of fun, and Sophia and Max took to their monitor headphones right away. It was sort of scary how professional they were! They usually did two takes of each song and the engineer did almost no editing, he just selected his favorite take and bumped up the levels as needed. It was easy.

Here's the CD cover:

Another version -

And pics of Sophia in the studio:

Thanks to everyone involved in this project, 
thanks especially to Sophia and her parents.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Marshall AS50D

Just bought this amp. Been looking for one like it for years and this one popped up used and just had to get it, because WOW here's what it does:

You can hook up two guitars and a mic to it at the same time.
Channel One is designed for acoustic guitars.
Channel Two is for more acoustic guitars or electric, or bass, and voice.
It has a feedback killer dial, so no squeals.
The guitars have separate volume and mixing controls. 
The guitars have on-or-off chorus and reverb separate controls.
The mic has separate reverb, bass, etc. 
This is a 50 watt 2x8" speaker system. It's LOUD and fills a giant room.
It sounds just plain amazing. Compares to the best amps out there.
It's LIGHT. it's easy to pick up.
It looks cool, it's very retro with gold dials and a leather handle.

This is based on old 1930's amps that were basically self-contained PA systems that could handle multiple instruments and a mic. They should make more of these, it's pretty obvious when you hook it up and start fiddling with the dials that this is a killer kool system. Sophia is gonna love it. There may even be a monitor out on the back, the investigations still continue.

Thanks Mr. Marshall!

The Frank Ryan Trio

Frank Ryan and the Trio are playing their regular gig here at the Red Room. We wanna give a big fist pump out to these guys and a huge thanks to Colin Campbell for telling us about them.  Check them out, they play classic and smooth and watch out they are gonna be big.

Thanks, FR + 2!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sophia Recording Practice 1

Sophia is going to do a professional recording of some of her songs, here's Practice One:

YAY Sophia!