Friday, December 19, 2008

Ibanez acoustic/electric - hours and hours of fun!

I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I had this new acoustic guitar that I wanted to talk about so, here goes. How about a photo to start off with?

It was about a three month search for this guitar. I have spent many many hours playing dozens of guitars at Guitar Center stores in Austin and Dallas looking for just the right combination of sound and playability. As you can see in the background of this photo, I like electrics. That is a Fender Stratocaster, a Peavey Raptor, and a Fender Precision Bass sitting next to a Peavey 212 XXL and Fender G-DEC 30.  I wanted the acoustic so I could have something to play quietly while watching TV at night. If you pay attention to TV commercials you are going to hear some great music. Unfortunately, I can hear some great riff or some awesome rhythm and, by the next day, it has evaporated from my head. Now, when I hear something, I can just sit and play it over and over and over until Peggy begs for mercy, but I remember it.

IMHO, there has never been an accoustic instrument that can not be improved with the right electronics. This one is no exception. There is a pickup under the bridge going through a battery powered pre-amp with three band equalizer, tuner, phase change switch, and notch frequency adjustment. The later two items used for eliminating feedback so, you can play it LOUD!! Run this through that big Peavey amp you see there in the background and you can blow out your windows.

One last thing I wanted to mention, because I just found it interesting. This guitar was one of the display models they leave out for everyone to play in the Guitar Center stores so, naturally, it showed a little wear from handling with a few light scratches. I sat and played it for about and hour and a half and just fell in love with it. So I told the sales person my search was over and I wanted to buy it and he said, "Hold on and I will get you a new one out of the back." So, he brings out the new one in a box which looks identical, except in absolutely perfect condition. So I tune it up and get ready to try it out. From the first note, I could not believe the difference in sound coming from this seemingly, identical guitar. I swear, it sounded like a cheap, $100 guitar and those dead notes could not hold a candle to those beautiful, mellow tones coming from that display model. Naturally, I said I wanted the one on display and they said, "no problem" and threw in an extra set of strings and I have been one happy guitar picker ever since.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow in Austin

Well this is something that you don't see very often in Austin. Last night at around 9:00 PM it started snowing. The temperature was about 38 degrees, so it did not stick but, it was still fun. By-the-way, the temperature dropped 47 degrees in 9 hours yesterday.

One of the grand daughters (Robin - 6), who has never seen snow, called last night from Abilene to tell us they were expecting snow there. She wanted to know if we were aware that you could stand outside with your mouth open and catch snow in your mouth? We will have to call her today and tell her we ate some snow last night. Unfortunately, they did not get any in Abilene.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Try to curb your enthusiasm

Finishing the gate leads logically into the next project - road improvements, and we might as well start at the new gate and work our way into the property. Here is what we have done, so far:

We have 450 feet of road to build in this first project and have decided to use a ribbon curb system. These 12" wide concrete curbs will line both sides of the road and be filled in with caliche up to within about 1" of the top. The final inch will be filled with whatever material we choose to make the final road bed, asphalt, gravel, crushed granite, etc. We are leaning toward crushed or, as it is more commonly known, decomposed granite. It makes a good, hard, relatively dust free surface, and is a nice color. The distance between the curbs is 13'9" and the curb on the right is set 3" lower than the one on the left to aid in water run off.

As you can see in the photo, the left side is already poured and the right side is formed. One thing that is interesting about this project is that we are using, what I call, caliche concrete. Rather than purchasing sand and gravel to make our mix, we are simply using caliche, which we can dig right out of the hillside with the loader. We then add 12.5%, by weight, Portland cement and enough water to make our concrete. It is finished off just as you would normal concrete. I have never seen concrete made this way before but, it seemed like a good idea. We made some test batches first and were pleased with them. It does not have the strength of regular concrete but, is more than adequate for applications that do not require extreme strength. I would guess it is 75% of the strength of regular five sack mix concrete.