Latest Toy: Andoer Piezo Contact Microphone Pickup

I’ve added a stick-on pickup to my collection. I’ll be doing a show later this month and while I’m told has “everything”, I don’t know if I trust that coming from someone who isn’t a musician so doesn’t necessarily know what ‘everything’ is when it comes to a musician. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but I’m just neurotic enough that I don’t want to leave things entirely to chance, so I wasted eight bucks on this little Andoer just to calm that little neurotic voice in my head that can’t bear to leave things entirely up to the whims of fate, and I would definitely like to use my Kmise for at least one tune, if I feasibly can, because it sounds better and keeps better tune than my Rubin.

Honestly, in the long term, I should really consider looking into how to go about adding proper electronics to my Kmise. It IS one of my favorite ukes, so there are definitely going to be times I’m going to want to use it places that are marginally bigger than a shoebox. But, in the short term, there’s a low G tune or two I’d really like to do at the upcoming show, and while there is a 90% chance everything will be totally fine because the venue “has everything” (which theoretically would include a second mic for acoustic instruments), I consider $8 a fair investment for a backup plan.

So, let’s look at this thing, then.

Andoer Piezo Microphone Pickup

The blue you’re seeing around the edges in the first picture is fun-tak (mounting putty). That’s not part of the device. The device comes with a self-adhesive, but I didn’t want to use it. I wanted something specifically that I could stick on and off with ease, and while – later, I’ll stick that self adhesive to a little piece of plastic so you won’t have to see these blue globs sticking out the sides of the device, for the moment, the fun-tak doesn’t adhere to the sticker cover that I haven’t peeled off yet, so the only way to get adhesion is to wrap it around the sides so it contacts actual plastic.  It does seem to stick fine without leaving residue behind, though, which is all I was really hoping for. This uke is too pretty to have such an ugly little thing stuck on there all the time.

Finding the sweet spot on my uke for amplification felt a bit like pretending to use a stethoscope. It’s a little round disc and you have to slide it around the surface until you find the spot that give you a nice clean amplified sound on all strings. In my case, that was just at the outer edge of the saddle, right beneath the low G string. My understanding is that on each instrument the sweet spot is going to be a little different.

For less than ten bucks, I think the little device pays for itself just fine (provided it lives more than 5 seconds, which remains to be seen as it only arrived today). The sound is clear, if a bit high pitched? I’m not sure if high-pitched is the right word. I lack the proper music vocabulary to grab the word I’m looking for. Without the amp, the Kmise at low G has a nice full sound. Amplified, I won’t say it’s character is entirely different, because it’s not, but it seems to lack the same warmth and depth. Maybe it’s that I’m losing a bit on the low end? That’s probably what I’m babbling circles around. And, if that’s the case, that’s not unusual. I’ve noticed the same issue with all cheap microphones, really.

I do think the wire on the Andoer seems far too long, but that’s likely because I’m using it on an ukulele instead of a guitar. I’ve just put a twist tie around the excess to avoid it getting caught up on anything.

Overall, I’m satisfied with it. Is it a replacement for an acoustic-electric instrument? No, not at all. But, it will certainly do in a pinch.

 

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Gear: Muzjig Pick Cutter

This post is almost kinda sorta 50% about my cat.

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This cat. The picky little maniac who attacks my guitar strings every time I change them.

See, here’s the thing. She’s 1 yr old, and picky about treats. She loved these turducky dental treats I was getting from a local pet shop, so naturally, now that I found one she likes, I was no longer able to find them anywhere. That meant it was onward to Amazon. I’m not against buying her treats online if she eats them consistently enough. But, I also didn’t want to pay shipping on a single bag of cat treats, so I went through my Amazon saved for later list to find some ‘free shipping on amazon’ stuff to fill it out a bit, and decided I would finally fork over for a pick cutter.

I’ve wanted one for a while. I’ve been making my credit/gift card picks by hand, which is something I knew I didn’t want to do indefinitely, but it also wasn’t any sort of emergency. I do love home cut card picks, though. There’s a sound they make that I haven’t been able to replicate with any pre-purchased pic I’ve tried (and I’ve tried tons. I love trying new picks). Mind, there are picks I buy that I like quite a bit. I had an orange tortex dunlop phase. A phase where I was in love with wood picks. Right now I’m a fan of the 50mm clayton raven picks. I have a good mix, is what I’m saying, and they all have their uses, and produce their own unique flavor. My preference in picks can change based on what strings I’m using at the time, but I’m consistently a fan of repurposing old gift cards because they just sound so darn pretty.

So, it seemed like as good a time as any, when I was looking to fill out my cart. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Ultimately, I chose the muzjig cutter because it came in a case, which I figured would minimize how much I could beat it up. Also because, based on pricing and comparison, it was the best deal – it came in a box, with more strips than a lot of the others in the same price bracket.

On arrival, the first thing you notice is the box is pretty cheap – not to be unexpected for the price, but if you’re expecting these little plastic clips to last into eternity, that’s not very likely. Inside though, everything is packed snugly, and durable.

The box contains the pick cutter, a package of assorted punch slips, a file, and a stick on pick holder. Not too shabby for twenty bucks.

First, I pulled out the cutter itself. It’s hefty. It feels sturdy with plenty of weight to it and a rubberized bottom to prevent slipping. Seems pretty durable.

The slips are, actually, about the same weight and feel as your typical gift card, and when I use these on my guitar, I’ll tell you, the sound is pretty damn close to my card-made picks. Impressively close.

The included file is a basic nail file, so easily replaceable when you’ve used it up.

Now, to put it to the function test. It does require a bit of leverage to punch. I found it more productive to stand up and press down with both hands. Of course, I might just be a wimp. It’s not a job you need an excess of muscle for, I’m not saying that. But, a small child might not be able to get enough weight behind it to punch picks. The average adult won’t have a problem though, once you realize you do need to give it a fairly strong push to get through thicker plastic.

I had a pile of used gift cards and old credit cards, so I punched several different sorts in trial. Overall, the results were good. Only two of the cards required any filing. This is not the fault of the cutter, but rather that some cards are made out of a slightly cheaper material, and those cheaper cards tend to leave behind a few glossy clear plastic shards that need to be filed off. My old Rite Aid card (the ones they don’t accept anymore. no idea if it also applies to their newer ones) was one of these. So was my Pet Supplies Plus card. Everything else I punched through came out smooth on the first try, so I don’t expect I’ll need to replace my file any time soon.

Overall, quite happy with it. I’m resisting the strong temptation to pick punch everything in sight, now that I have a new toy.

As an aside, the cat treats? She won’t touch the damn things now. WTH, cat? You loved them a week ago!

My New Toy: Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4

Okay, so let’s get back to talking music, shall we?  It’s tax season, which means that I had it in mind to get myself a new toy – nothing outlandish. After all, I do have some practical considerations to attend to. I wanted to put some cash aside towards a new couch, for example, and there are always bills to be paid, things to be fixed.  I’ve had it in mind for a while to start shopping around for a bargain on one of those scratch tower/condo things for my very tall cats so they’ll potentially stop using aforementioned couch as a scratching post. A new litter box. Maybe a new knob for the bathroom door.

Isn’t adulting fun?

But, none of that is really a toy, at least not for me. My first attempt was for an acoustic bass, but that ended up an abysmal failure and I had to return it. Now, that’s not a statement against the bass itself. The Gold Tone acoustic bass is pretty darn nice for someone of a more average build.  Most days, I don’t feel that short. Really, I don’t. I know I’m on the short side of average, but then I pick up an instrument, sit it in my lap, and the body comes up to my chin and feel like a hobbit.  I think I may have talked about that bass in a previous post, so I’ll end it there.

Now, financially, another, smaller acoustic bass wasn’t practical for the moment. There are a few physically small basses, most either ukulele basses or close cousins, but the budget for those is somewhere around $500, at least for the moment.  That’s a bit more than I had in mind to blow on a toy for the time being, not when I need other things.

So, I looked into my other idea which was my first “grown up” bass.  A while back, when I decided I really wanted to learn the bass, I bought the Ibanez GSR100EX  because it was the cheapest bass I could find at the time that was a brand I knew after a certain ebay fiasco in which those $80-90 basses you see that look like fenders…yeah, sufficed to say 98% of the weight was in the neck. The body sounded hollow when you knocked on it. It just. Ugh. No. It felt like the body was made of paper and plastic and when I say it nose-dived like a plane on fire, I’m not joking at all.

That said, I really like my Ibanez. It is barely 7 lbs, if it even hits the 7 lb mark, so you can literally play it for hours, which is absolutely a major bonus when you need to get in as much practice as you can. I’ve owned handbags that weighed more than this bass. It’s got one volume and one tone control. Really, I just wanted a bass with more than one pickup, maybe, with some luck, on that could handle Drop D tuning a bit better, and if I could find one with a less fingerprint-magnet body, that would be icing.

Originally, I was ogling the Schecter Stiletto Custom. It’s definitely out of budget – when I first started ogling it, retail was around $800, which I definitely couldn’t afford and shouldn’t be spending if I can’t play anyway. I watched the price inch down, but even now, for someone who can’t really play, it’s a bit much to blow.  But I knew I wanted something just a little nicer than what I had. I guess you could say I was looking for something kind of intermediate, at a modest enough price point to not cringe over. (I really should preface by saying this was all before my recent $740 car expense, or I wouldn’t have considered buying a new toy, but the money was already spent when my car suddenly decided it wanted me to replace pretty much everything under the hood.)

In my browsing I found a good bargain on the Schecter Stiletto Extreme. This is really similar to the Custom, just a step down, so a bit more budget friendly. I looked at the two models very carefully and the only difference I saw between them was the pickups. The Custom has EMG 35s, I believe. The Extreme has Scheter Diamond pickups, which further reading tells me are basically just a copy of the EMG pickups, but not quite as good.

I knew both of these basses were considered quite lightweight, which was a major selling factor for me, given the almost nonexistent weight of my Ibanez, and with the memory of my first guitar (a knockoff strat) weighing in at over 10 lbs. I definitely wanted to aim at the lightest bass I could find. I also wanted something with a similar body shape and build to the Ibanez. It happens to be a cheap purchase I lucked out on, and that particular body style happens to be very comfortable for me. The slim neck is also a bonus, since I still can’t quite get that 4 fret stretch (someday, perhaps. My current comfortable stretch is just a hair over 3 frets, so it’s not impossible.) and I need all the help I can get.  And, I know it’s completely possible to change the pickups in an instrument (though I don’t know how to do it yet), so I figured if I, at a later date, find the pickups in the extreme lacking, there’s nothing saying I can’t upgrade without buying a whole new instrument.

So, given the deal, I decided to go for it in spite of my jaded relationship with FedEx (mostly due to the fact they tend to show up on totally different days than they say they will on deliveries you have to sign for, so suddenly you come home and there’s a ‘Fedex was here and you weren’t, haha, sucker’ note on your door.  And, because it costs more to get them to ship to my work address, which is closer to their distribution center than my home, than it does to get them to deliver on a Saturday. More than 100% more. Which is idiotic. Ahem. Moving on).

Well, today, my new toy arrived.

…so I definitely must learn how to play now.

And because my new toy arrived, I learned how to measure the scale length on a bass. Why? Because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Schecter chose to string it with extra long strings. It’s advertised as  34″ scale. It’s not a through body construction. In fact, in terms of size and shape, it’s actually almost identical to my Ibanez (heavier, but not heavy by any means. Remember, my Ibanez is a featherweight; my guitar weighs more than that Ibanez bass.).  So what possible motivation can they have for putting super long strings on it by default? My Ibanez definitely takes normal 34″ scale strings, and the scale definitely the same. I held them up side by side to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.

My best guess is that they just have one type of bass string that they put on everything, because I haven’t come across any other logic that makes sense. Up side I now know a little more; I learned two different ways to measure scale based on skimming a forum post with two guys on the internet arguing about which was was the right way. Thanks, argumentative guys (though I’m glad to not have been directly involved in that conversation!).

All that was left was to take it for a test drive. Feels good. Plays well. I should probably invest in another strap, but mostly only because the only “spare” I have is a material that just…bugs me. (I have weird preferences when it comes to material, okay?  I’m using it for now, but I’ll be picking out a replacement by short sleeve weather, I’m sure. As long as I’m wearing a sweatshirt, I don’t have to touch it, though, so I can wait a bit.)

That’s when I ran into my issue. For some godawful reason, the 1st to 3rd fret were buzzing. I wondered if maybe the strings were quite old. It’s a lefty, so it’s entirely possible that it’s been sitting in a warehouse with those strings for quite a long time, I figured. But I didn’t see any evidence of wear, and on the higher frets they sounded good. Was it just certain strings? No. all four. Close inspection produced no real results. The action looked pretty good, certainly not so low to cause buzzing, at least. And as much as I looked, I couldn’t see or feel any evidence that the strings were duds, which only left the neck, which looked straight to the naked eye. That fret buzz was really annoying, but I didn’t want to chuck a perfectly good set of strings if I wasn’t sure, so it was off to google.

Aaand, I now know how to adjust a truss rod. The bass didn’t come with an alan wrench, but I was lucky enough to just happen to have one the right size that looks about 20 years old. I read up on how to adjust it. Unscrewed the little cover, read the warning to not do more than a tiny bit a day, because the neck has to adjust. So, I gave it a teeny little turn, put everything back together, and tuned up. No more fret buzz. Sweet! They should have made ‘Troubleshooting’ my middle name. Alas, they gave me my grandma’s name instead.

With everything squared away, I spent a nice little chunk of time in Rocksmith today, though mostly just in score attack/learn a song. I started off thinking I was going to do some finger exercises in the guitarcade to get used to the feel of the new bass, but that darn String Skipping Saloon was lagging on me again and I wasn’t feeling patient, so gave up on that idea quickly.  I could tell already that I just lacked the attention span for lessons this afternoon, which only left picking songs to play along with. Overall, I’m so far very happy with it. I haven’t plugged it into my amp yet, mostly because I’ve been dragging all day and didn’t feel like disengaging my Peavey from the corner, but I tested it with my vox headphone amp and everything seems to be fully functional. Maybe tomorrow I’ll cue up some lessons on youtube and practice like a grown up instead of like a gamer. 🙂  We shall see.

Until Next Time: Okay, so maybe this is the worst possible time for me to have invested in a new bass, but it was a hell of a deal, and it’s all mine now, so there.

Smartphone Recording App Comparison

Okay, so let’s update on my mic experiments, shall we? I was debating most of the day on whether to keep or return the iGear clip on mic. For the price, it’s very suitable for your generic talking recordings, but was proving not really much use for music due to the low quality sound.

First, I fiddled with the sound settings in my phone, made several adjustments to test it, and there really wasn’t any significant difference. But, that’s not ALL that’s possible, right? Of course not. A different sound recording app could make all the difference; I should at least try a few and see.

Well, a good dozen apps later, I can say I am going to keep the clip on. With a different recording app, it should, theoretically, be suitable for it’s intended purpose.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t keep a log of all of the dozen apps I tried. I remember one called simply “recorder” that was nothing but a crash fest. There were two that had icons like cassette tapes and sounded way worse than any cassette I’ve ever heard (x1000, and I had my fair share of casettes. I actually only got rid of the last few last year when I located and retired my walkman in one of my mass clean-outs.)  There was one with the word “expert” in it, and another with the word “HD” – both which were laughable in context of their names.

At the end of the day I decided to compare the app you’re used to hearing me through to the two that survived the cut.

I’ve actually deleted smart voice recorder from my phone after this comparison because I find the quality difference so significant. Between Titanium Recorder and Sound Recorder, I’m leaning towards Sound Recorder, but have not entirely decided. Titanium Recorder produces a fuller sound, but with that grittiness that comes with it registering junk noise as a sort of background static. Sound Recorder has more clarity, but the side effect of that (which I also noticed on my samson meteorite) seems to be a thinner, wispier sort of tone.

I made the roomie use his ears to get another opinion on the matter, and just sort of asked him ‘which one of these two has better sound quality. Ignoring my own playing, just which one has a clearer sound?’ He agreed that it was probably Sound Recorder, but felt that they were quite close and wasn’t really 100% certain.  I personally don’t find them tonally close at all, but that’s not me saying ‘this one is absolutely the one to use and the other one is meh.’  I get the impression what you’re recording is going to make a big difference here. With an ukulele, you’re going to get a very different sound response than you would with a bass, for example, because those different instruments just inhabit different parts of the sound spectrum and so have different needs. I would have to test other instruments with both to really form a solid opinion about which app would be a better all-rounder.

I think for the purposes of the ukulele, Sound Recorder is likely my best bet. It’s got good clarity, it’s not picking up a lot of grit, and it gets the right sound balance (pulling the vocals forward so they aren’t overpowered by the instrument, which was the purpose of the clip on mic in the first place).

But, maybe I’m wrong. You tell me which of these apps you feel produces the best sound quality. I’ve long since learned not everyone’s ears hear things quite the same.

Until Next Time, finding the right balance to move forward with.

So, Let’s do a cheapo mic comparison.

Well, I promised in a recent post that I would talk about the clip on mic when it got here, and I decided the easiest way to do this, being a rookie, was a little show-and-tell.

So, it comes in a tiny little faux leather pouch, with an extra clip and cover. Everything pretty much as expected.  I bought this one on a “three day christmas sale”. I put that in quotes because the $18.99 it was on 3 day christmas sale is the exact same price it is on “special holiday sale” today. Sufficed to say, their sale is BS. I highly doubt they have every sold it at the list price of $49.99, so don’t be had by that load of bull. This is not a $50 mic on sale. This is a $20 mic. I didn’t have such delusions going in, but I’m a rookie, and it had good reviews, so seemed like a good intro to the clip on mic.

First impression: Incredible volume. Mediocre quality.

Being a clueless newbie, I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do in my phone settings to improve this, but the overall impression I got was loud and washed out. It sounds a bit like…well, you know, a bit like one of those people you talk to who seem to be attempting to swallow their smartphone whole while talking to you – the people who just about scream directly into the speaker, and that’s their normal volume.

Now, I know one possibility is to move the clip further away from me, but that defeats the purpose of the clip. For regular talking, if all you need is some volume, it’s likely a very good deal, but if more nuanced sound is required, it seems to be not particularly well-suited to that.

I should admit a bias though; I do come from a family of audiophiles, and have grown accustomed to the impressive front-facing speakers on the HTC One M8(actually the reason I chose the phone, in spite of having several other things about it that get on my nerves, like the glitchy screen…mostly the glitchy screen).

But, let’s not take my word for it, I did a sound comparison between the phone, the samson meteorite I received the other day, and the clip on, so you can hear the sound difference yourself:

It’s still weird hearing my own voice. We’re all lost inside of our own heads, so I can’t say which of these three recordings is ‘truest’ to the way I actually sound, but I suspect my phone. The meteorite sounds really close, and has better clarity, but lower bass response. Still, they’re reasonably close. It’s the iGear that has that is the outlier. It’s very loud, and very washed out. I even attempted clipping it to the back of my shirt for improved responsiveness. No dice. The difference was marginal. There just isn’t anywhere to clip it that makes sense for this sort of recording.  Up side, it’s loud enough that I could probably clip it to my slippers and be heard just fine!

Still, since I’m stuck in my own head, and always surprised to find my voice is significantly higher in pitch than I expect it to be. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just having one of those biased moments where you think ‘that doesn’t sound like me!’ on a recording, so I pulled up the files in audacity for a visual comparison.

sound comparison

And, while I’m hardly an expert at reading waveforms, it does seem that I was more or less right. The iGear is very loud without much detail. The Samson is picking up a lot of the finer detail, but also doing that fancy noise-cancelling job, so you can see that the phone lands somewhere between, but far closer to the samson than the iGear.

Now, if anyone has any tips for changing the settings in my phone to maybe help the iGear along, I am willing to try it. I fiddled with it a bit, but haven’t really been able to get any significant difference in response. Whether this is a quirk of clip on mics, or just this specific one…well, I won’t pretend to know; it’s the only one I’ve tried.

I’m half tempted to return it, not because it’s horrible, but because I just can’t see much of a use for it as it stands. I was hoping to use it so I could record things for youtube with a better volume response than I’ll be able to get out of a phone a few feet away, but that’s just not realistic if it’s going to sound like one of those people you talk to on the phone and go ‘omg, stop trying to swallow your speaker and just talk normally.’

I’ll fiddle with the volume controls on my phone more tomorrow and see if I can adjust it in a way that won’t sound quite so blegh. I don’t need it to be perfect, really (who would actually expect perfect at this price point, anyway?), but I also am unlikely to use it heavily if the sound quality makes me cringe.

That unfortunately leaves me with the dilemma of still needing to jimmyrig a set up so I can record with a decent sound quality + video quality + volume, but it’s not emergency stuff. I can think through how my space and my equipment need to orient themselves for optimum potential until, you know, I actually have half a clue about what I’m doing. 😉

Until Next Time, the learning curve is steep, but not impassable.

Newly Organized for the New Year

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Cat-meo. And, no, I can not play the box guitar. Someday, but for now it's purely decorative.

I had a busy Saturday.  It’s funny how things happen. I had a big old dresser that I was trying to part with for months. Nothing wrong with it, really, but with all the instruments, things were getting pretty cramped. I was starting to get claustrophobic. Plus, no room for yoga.

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6 ft long. Solid wood. Came with the house.

Now, I’m not overtly strong, but I’m not a total wimp, either. In my house, I wear the pants (which basically means that the manual labor is all on me), so when I say I couldn’t budge it a centimeter on my own, it gives you an idea of how much weight there is to it. Two grown men had to dismantle it in order to get it light enough to move.

It’s funny how things happen. I listed it months ago. Roomie and I joked that I couldn’t give away a piece of solid wood furniture for free. Then, suddenly, I got three serious hits all at once, and it disappeared less than 24 hours later.

It had to go for two reasons. First, because there was literally not enough space between the dresser and bed in which to do yoga, just a thin strip of carpet wide enough for the drawers and my knees. But, even more so, because there was literally nowhere to put guitars except on top of it.

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New Year, Fresh priorities

With the big dresser gone, I was free to take my smaller (but still big, old vintage) dresser out of the closet. With my closet now free for hanging things, and my floor space greatly improved, I was able to line up a dedicated guitar corner. (The ukes are on the opposite wall.).

Making yourself a guitar corner, I figure, is a great way to ring in a new year. Besides, the cat loves challenging himself to jump up there!

Now, I just need to figure out what to do with all of the accessories (cables, pedals, strings, etc).  Right now, they’re in a jumbo tote bag. Any ideas? How do you guys organize all of your little stuff?

Until next time, taking joy in the newer, more open space, and having my guitars somewhere I don’t have to move them to get socks.

It’s a Musical Holiday

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Hope everyone out there has had a good/is having a good holiday. We have a pretty small get together – just me, my parents, and my roomie. Even so, I’m not seven anymore, and we all promised to keep it small this year. WE have a history of them way overdoing it, and me overdoing it (beyond the limits of my budget) because I feel bad if they get me 10 things and I get them 2, and it all spirals wildly out of control. I think a lot of families have that problem, where it’s all about the sheer amount of stuff under the tree. That’s fine when there are kids involved, but it’s not really necessary for adults.

We all agreed. Of course. Obviously.

But, I’m apparently the only one who meant it. As an only child, I still got spoiled rotten, in spite of my best efforts. The amp pictured above between the felines was supposed to be my big gift. I didn’t have an acoustic amp, so the Fender Acoustasonic 15 was what I ended up choosing in our trip to Sam Ash (it wasn’t a hard choice, really, there weren’t many budget friendly beginner options on display for acoustic instruments).

But, then mom brought over gifts and suddenly our nice little set up (with 3 or 4 gifts per person, turned into a heaping mass of stuff. Wth? Didn’t we say ‘keep it small’?

Apparently, when you’re an only child, you get spoiled rotten no matter what.

I forget who I was talking to that suggested a looper pedal as a practice tool, but they made a lot of sense, though I threw it on my list. Now that I have one, I’ll be off to googling how to use it.

Then there’s a hard case for my concert sized ukuleles. I transport the ukes fairly often, so having something a little more durable than the barely padded cases they came with is some nice insurance. Both of my concert ukes are not exactly things I can replace easily. My Snail isn’t easily found online, even though it’s really a budget-friendly instrument, and my ibanez can’t be found at all. I hunted down the last one on the internet a few months ago. They may not be expensive instruments, but to me, at this moment in time, they’re virtually priceless. On the other hand, my sopranos, which I also don’t have a good case for, are less of a big deal. That doesn’t mean I don’t take care of them, but my kala is a popular enough model that if something happened to it, I could replace it fairly easily, and my diamond head is a beater. Eventually I’ll get a good soprano case, too, but it’s less important since I don’t transport them as often (and don’t really care about the one I do much, since it only cost $30.).

Next up is wire cutters (hopefully this pair will last. The wire cutters I was using…my bass strings murdered it. They had no trouble with guitar strings, but the thicker bass strings really screwed them up.), a mono/tripod, for recording myself more easily (my set up to date has been an old mic stand, a cardboard wrapping paper tube partially stuffed with newspaper and held together with masking tape, and a rubber band). A pack of the guitar picks I favor (the orange tortex ones). I have more picks than I can possibly use, but hey, they’re my favorites, so they should dominate, right? Right.) and strings for my electric guitar. I haven’t tried the cobalts yet, so next time I need to string, I’ll get to try something new.

And, for the last of my music-related gifts (if you don’t count the amazon gift card, which you should, since it’s either going towards digital music, or being put aside toward my next toy) is an ukulele strap. I’ve been using a guitar strap, which is wider. That isn’t that bad of a thing really, but the wider leather end bumps into my hand quite a lot, so a proper uke strap will be more comfortable.  Added bonus: the strap came with a strap button, which my Ibanez already has, so I’ve installed it on my snail. Now only two of my ukes can’t take a strap (for now).

So, yep, still a spoiled kid so far as my parents are concerned.  On top of it all I also got the basics, a dvd, and some art supplies. I have a lot of music related stuff to inspire practice, though. It was definitely a music dominant holiday for me. I even got a little guitar ornament that plays ‘run run rudolph’.

Until Next Time, trying to decide which toy to play with first.