Dear Victor,I received your e-mail below in regard to a wine opener taken at theairport. I will be glad to send you a replacement.Though we have wine openers with our name on it, we haven’t had them forsale in the tasting room. They were made for waitstaff that sell our winein the restaurants. So, I hope you are writing to the right winery – we’reStag’s Leap Wine Cellars, our neighbor is Stags’ Leap Winery.Either way, please enjoy this wine opener and when traveling, always pack itin your ‘checked’ luggage!!Cheers,Nancy BurtonCLUB 23 ManagerStag’s Leap Wine Cellars5766 Silverado TrailNapa, CA 94558800.973.6423707.265.2420707.265.2423 Faxclub@wineclub23.comhttp://www.cask23.com—–Original Message—–From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 5:14 AMTo: firstname.lastname@example.orgCc: email@example.comSubject: Hi I have a request? May sound sillyHi,Your winery is my favorite. Recenly while traving back east at the air portmy wine opener (The Stags Leap) one had to be given to security. Is there away that you would be able to send me a new one to:Victor V. Tarassov64 Lillie StreetPrinceton Jct. NJ 08550Thanks,Dr. Victor Tarassov609-937-0912
Generous vs. Stingy
I’m going to test this idea out for a few months.
“I’ts preferable to err on the side of being overly generous and occassionally appear foolish than to err on the side of being overly stingy and cut off the flow of abundance and joy of living”.
Generous vs. Stingy
I’m going to test this idea out for a few months.
“I’ts preferable to err on the side of being overly generous and occassionally appear foolish than to err on the side of being overly stingy and cut off the flow of abundance and joy of living”.
This is something I was thinking about while traveling from one performance to another:
1. People and Relationships First2. Money second3. Fun Third
People and Relationships – includes relationships with myself, my family and friends, work partners, my Source, treating people I don’t know with respect and dignity, wishing the highest good for everyone with my circle of influence.
Money – Receiving money for service performed for others, always giving more value than received. Using money wisely, for the highest good of all. Treating money with consciousness and awareness that it is a form of energy and has the power to inspire greed or do good in this world.
Fun – Still important, but best in the correct order.
Maybe I’ll refine this as I think about it some more.” From Tomas Michaud’s Jurnal at www.tomasmichaud.com
June 21, 2005 in Reflections Permalink
Recienly with my new work schedule 10:00pm-8:00am I am finding it hard to stay connceted wtih my frinds and community to the point that when I had three days off I did not see any of them. It seems as thought I have a few decissions to make. 1. Keep the job and not see the frinds. 2. Address this with my frinds and see what comes of it. 3. Look for another job in the world of 9-5ish. What would you do? let me know. I am finding that I make plans with others but for what ever reason they cansel and I wish I could say that that dose not bother me but I find it diapointing becse I know I wont have any time off to see any of my frinds for some time. I long to have my good socail group of finds and staying connected with them but I am also finding that I either have unrealistic expetationx of what frinds sould do or that some of my frinds sont share the same commintment as I do. This is causeing me to reflect on what is a frind? What is normal conncetion time or time to socailize with . Is there (I know the awencer is yes) but a normal ebb and flow to seeing each other and then a periord of not seeing each other? These are some of my thought for today Jund 26 2005. I miss my good frinds. vvt
While Part 1 spoke broadly on the physical laws of sound and how they relate to acoustic guitar amplification, this article will narrow its focus to the types of pickups and preamps available, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. To get the most from this article it’s important to read part 1 first.
Reproducing the Fundamental
Under-the-Saddle PickupsAcoustic pickups that fit under the bridge saddle constitute a large part of the market. Within this genre there are a number of manufacturers, all of which claim to have the best sounding technology. The strong points are that these pickups have a lot of output and do not visually alter the guitar. If you play a custom or vintage instrument, for which the unaltered appearance is important to you, the latter can be a very attractive feature.
The drawbacks to these pickups are that, historically, they are difficult to balance from bass to treble (although this seems to be improving with better “sensing” technology) and they tend to be on the bright-and-twangy-sounding side. However, if you like bright-and-twangy (a staple in country music), this is a plus. If you are into improving the intonation of your instrument and use a wide, compensated saddle (anything significantly wider than 1/8″), it will be more difficult for this type of pickup to “sit” properly. The effectiveness of these pickups is largely dependent upon a snug fit. If the saddle has been widened it makes this more difficult.
Soundhole PickupsBecause of the different materials, design, and placement, sound hole pickups have a much mellower texture than under-saddle pickups (read: less twang). These are, in design, similar to electric guitar pickups and, to my ear, sound a lot like a jazz arch-top pickup.
The strengths are that they are much easier to install than under-saddle pickups (some you can literally pop-in or take out without removing the strings or using any special tools) and most have movable pole pieces (again, like electric pickups) that can be adjusted to easily compensate for an imbalanced sound.
The drawbacks are that, since they’re magnetic, regular acoustic strings won’t produce balanced volume. This is because bronze (the material that covers the wound portion of an acoustic string) doesn’t generate as strong a reaction in a magnetic field as steel (the unwound strings). The two steel strings will always be louder than four bronze strings. A simple way around this is to use a heavy gauge set of electric strings (or create your own custom sets from individual gauges). This way all the strings (wound and plain) are steel and have equal reaction in the magnetic field. Also, magnetic pickups are more susceptible to external noise such as hum produced by a lighting system in a club than their under-saddle counterparts.
Capturing the Overtones
Internal MicrophonesFor great sound, microphones have always reigned supreme in the recording studio. But, one of the things you quickly learn as you gain experience in performing and recording is that these situations are worlds apart. Given the choice, no sane recording engineer would ever place a microphone inside the body of a guitar for a recording session. This is because it’s a small wooden box where standing waves and reflected noise abound.
Using a hypercardioid pattern mic can help block out some of these problems. Finding the exact location for the mic takes some patience and care. A windscreen that covers the mic can help reject some of the reflected frequencies that may not be so pleasant.
It’s also possible to get a mic that clips onto the outside of the instrument. This eliminates some of the above-mentioned problems but cuts down the volume level considerably (ie – it’s louder inside the box than outside). Theoretically, this is the best place to put a mic, but it’s not as effective if you are playing with a band. The sound generated by the other performers’ amplifiers will be picked up and bleed into your sound source.
“Contact” PickupsOver the years many companies have produced contact pickups with widely differing results. The better ones rival microphones for their clarity and sonic accuracy while the lesser of the species sound harsh and micro-phonic.
The strengths are that they are small, have virtually no bleed compared to a microphone, are not susceptible to the reflected sounds created inside the body of the instrument and have a very dramatic, present sound. When you strum hard or whack the guitar the audience not only hears it, they feel it.
The downside is that these pickups need to be placed strategically on the guitar’s top. As with microphone placement, finding the right spot may take some time. Also, contact pickups are among the weakest in signal and have the highest impedance. This is a deadly combination. To compensate, they must be matched with an extremely high-impedance, low-noise preamp.
Another thing to consider is the material used to affix these pickups to the instrument. My experience has led me to use silicon glue. It can easily be found in any hardware store and is designed to create a solid bond that will last for decades without ever becoming brittle. It begins to bond within a few minutes and is cured inside of 24 hours. The great thing is that it creates a rubbery-type bond that, even years later, can be un-mounted fairly easily without damaging the pickup or the instrument.
PreampsIf you are an electric guitarist, a certain amount of noise is accepted – even expected – in the amplification process. In acoustic guitar, however, only the cleanest, most pristine signal is acceptable. If this weren’t a tall enough task, acoustic pickups are usually lower output than their electric counterparts, so the preamp must be of the highest caliber to achieve great results. Check the specs on signal-to-noise ratio. There is certain terminology that can tell you things. Preamps that are discrete-component are usually higher quality and lower noise than integrated preamps (and usually more expensive).
ApplicationThe preamp should be the first thing that the pickup reaches in the signal chain. In theory, the shortest physical space (cable length) between a pickup and preamp is best. Some pickups have preamps built-in as a complete system that can be powered by a battery in the guitar. Another popular setup is to have the preamp built into the endpin jack. If your preamp is outside the guitar, keeping the cable length ten feet or shorter is satisfactory.
When the signal leaves a pickup it is high-impedance and unbalanced. In this state it is weak and susceptible to noise (ie – external noise sources such as halogen lights and radio frequencies can degrade your sound). A preamp will convert it to low-impedance. Some, but not all, preamps will take the unbalanced signal and convert it into a balanced one. To have your signal leave the preamp as low-impedance AND balanced is the best scenario. This means that, after leaving the preamp, the signal will be less susceptible to any external noise as it travels through the cable and into the PA system. Many preamps will produce a low-impedance UNBALANCED signal. This is still much better than the original pickup signal, but not as good as a balanced signal. Check the specs on any preamp closely. Just because it has an XLR output does not mean it’s producing a balanced signal when it leaves.
Many of the better acoustic preamps have built-in EQ, phase switching, ground lift and effects loop. These are all elements that will come in very handy when trying to deal with a live performance situation. The equalizer will allow you to modify the tonality of your sound. It’s very handy to have this at your disposal when performing. If you need to roll off a little bass, you can do it much more effectively (knowing how much you want rolled off) than trying to convey it to the soundperson. Phase reversal can stop low frequency feedback without ever having to adjust the EQ. A ground lift can come in handy in a club with old, noisy wiring. And, even if you think “…I’d never use effects on my acoustic, I’m a purist,” you’d be surprised how much definition a little compression can give to the low end of your sound, without ever sounding like your using an effect. A good, clean effects loop will maximize the use of any outboard effects.
Live Sound TipsAs I mentioned at the closing of Part 1, live sound is an art. First-hand experience is the best way to learn. By dealing with bad sound situations you learn how to overcome them. If I had to give a few pointers that I felt to be universal in the scheme of acoustic guitar amplification, they would be as follows:
Use as little equalization as possible. The more EQ you use, the thinner (and more ‘electric’) the sound will become. If you have a good instrument with quality pickups and preamps, you don’t want to change that – just refine it. Inevitably, though, every room you play in will emphasize problematic frequencies. You will need to remove these to keep the sound of your instrument clear. My philosophy is to try and solve the problem with as little effort as possible. For instance, if I notice a low rumbling frequency (maybe a low D), I’ll try reversing the phase. Often times, that will stop the problem. If it doesn’t, I notch out that specific frequency. By being as conservative as possible with equalization, you will keep the fullness and character of your instrument intact.
When working with two sound sources (pickups), sound-check each individually before mixing them together. This way, if there’s a problem frequency (and there may be a different frequency for each pickup, since they’re handling different tasks) you can isolate it first, then move on to putting the finishing touches on your sound.
Stand in different spots on the stage (facing in different directions). You don’t want to find out in the middle of a song that if you move your instrument will begin to feedback. Also, try to get out into the audience area and see if it sounds as good out there as you think it sounds on stage.
Final ThoughtsWhen assembling your amplified setup, there are a lot of options. The best thing you can do is assess your needs and see which products best fit them. A lot of companies offer fully integrated systems, from pickups to preamps. These will save you a lot of time (and possibly money) when it comes to creating an entire system, but they usually offer fewer options than a mixed-and-matched system you construct yourself. Assembling a system that leaves room for growth is definitely a smart way to go.
The Fundamentals (and elsewhere)The phenomenon of sound is a combination of two components: the fundamental and its overtones. On your guitar, the fundamental is the lowest order of vibration from the moment you strike a string, and the overtones are “related” notes that develop through the fractional division of string vibration and sound waves. The fundamental and overtones combine to create what your ear perceives as one sound. To a large degree, the “voice” of an instrument is determined by the fundamental/overtone relationship. This is part of the reason why each instrument has a unique sound.
Have you noticed that the pickups you stick in the sound hole or under the saddle of your acoustic guitar sound dull and one-dimensional? This isn’t because they’re bad pickups but because they mainly reproduce one part of what your ear is accustomed to hearing: the fundamental. To complete the sonic picture you need another source capturing the overtones. Microphones and “contact” pickups are both good for this. So good that, in many cases, they reproduce too much of the overtones, creating a sound that is acutely “live,” the opposite effect of the magnetic and under-saddle pickups. Hence, the need for two separate pickups: one for the fundamental and one for the overtones. Mixed together they create a composite sound that assimilates what’s really happening on your acoustic instrument.
Pickup ChoicesIf you agree with the above stated, it’s time to think about which pickups (and/or mics) to choose. There are so many models currently available the choices can be overwhelming. It’s up to you to decide if you’re more drawn to the sound of the magnetic/sound hole-type pickup or under-saddle transducers, and whether you prefer internal microphones or “contact” pickups. Each has its pros and cons. Consider your playing and performance needs. If you’re a flamenco or classical guitarist (using nylon strings) a magnetic pickup isn’t going to be very useful. Also, check out the technical specs on each product. Things like output volume, signal-to-noise ratio and price will go a long way to help you make your decision.
Since the focus of this article is the fundamental/overtone relationship as it applies to amplification, not what brand of pickups to purchase, I will leave the extensive critique of pickups until Zen and the Art of Acoustic Guitar Amplification, part 2. But, I believe that even if you choose the least expensive magnetic pickup and microphone on the market, you’d be closer to achieving a true acoustic sound than if you purchase one of the higher quality pickups that only reproduces one part of the equation. There are some pickups that try to integrate both elements into one signal, but I feel these are ultimately inadequate. You need to have completely separate equalization and volume control over each pickup because they represent totally different dimensions of the sonic picture.
Out-of-Body ExperienceWhat happens once the signal leaves your instrument is as important as your choice in pickups. Get the best quality cables you can afford. A good cable will provide clearer sound with less noise. Another consideration is the cable length. Some pickups are active (and low impedance). For these the cable length is less of an issue. For high-impedance pickups, though, you’ll want the shortest cable before it reaches the preamp. A high-impedance signal will lose high-end with each foot of cable length. As a rule for high-impedance pickups, try to keep the cable less than ten feet before reaching the preamp.
Next you need to decide on a preamp for each pickup (that’s right, each pickup needs its own separate preamp) before you send your signal to the PA. Make sure that the input impedance of the preamp is higher than the pickup you feed into it. Many preamps are simply meant to amplify a weak signal. Others have equalization, notch filter, phase reversal and effects loop built in. You can also use a self-contained amplifier (similar to an electric amp with preamps built into it), which allows you to generate a substantial amount of on-stage sound. This comes in handy as a personal monitor or if you play with a band and need to compete volume-wise. Good results can be achieved with any of these scenarios.
Leaving the WombAfter all this you will face the ever-present challenge of the gig. Conquering room acoustics with proper equalization is indeed an art, which your ears will become more attuned to over time and with experience. But to have a fighting chance you need to assemble a high-quality, flexible setup that accurately reproduces your guitar’s sound and overcomes the environmental circumstances that are part of live playing.
If you are interested in learning more about overtones in music, please consider Henry Cowell’s New Musical Resources (ISBN 0521499747).
“Casa Montalvo” guitars are finely crafted beautiful sounding instruments featuring solid Engelmann Spruce or Canadian Red Cedar tops, Mahogany or Spanish Cedar necks and Rosewood or Ebony fingerboards. The necks are reinforced with a graphite stabilizing bar. The backs and sides are made of solid Indian Rosewood, Honduras Rosewood, or Cypress. These woods are well seasoned, and the guitars are guaranteed for one year against defects in materials or workmanship. CASA MONTALVO guitars are award winning highly affordable instruments produced in Mexico for George Katechis Montalvo, a highly skilled master craftsman with experience in all aspects of tone production. He has been repairing and selling musical instruments for 40 years. He has studied silver and gold smithing, Renaissance and Baroque Woodwind construction . piano soundboard technology, and the properties of strings under tension. In 1990 he started the K&S guitar company, helping to design and produce the guitars that company sold. Since 1999 he has been on his own, working with many fine Mexican guitar makers, helping to design and produce Casa Montalvo and Superior guitars . He has established personal relationships with a number of Mexican makers, and is actively involved in the production of the guitars made for him in Mexico . He brought higher quality woods, glues, finishes, and most importantly, American builders and restorers to share their knowledge with the Mexican builders. All “CASA MONTALVO” and “SUPERIOR” guitars are painstakingly set up and final-inspected by George Montalvo at his shop in Berkeley, CA. “Casa Montalvo” guitars are the finest in the world for the money. They are hand made, and constructed of all solid woods that are air dried and aged before building. The nylon stringed guitars all have a graphite reinforcing bar in the neck, and have a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Many professionals are using these instruments for performing as well as recording; John Scofield, Victor Tarassov, and David Lindley are the most notable. Many years have gone into the design and production of these guitars. This has resulted in affordable hand made guitars that are unsurpassed in their quality and craftsmanship
This is my Favorie guitar. Its bigger at the nut 52mm+ Scale lenght is 660mm and the wood is a bit firmer and produces a sound simlar to the ones made of cypress even thought its a roswood and a cedar top. I love the way the neck feels and this guitar has been very easy for me to feel connected to it.
Ebony Friction Tuning Peg for the Flamenco Guitar (key chain)
Originally uploaded by nuyn.
This is an ebony Tuning Peg for the Flamenco Guitar (Friction type no gears) I turned this one into a key chain and will be selling key chains like this with
http://www.victortarassov.com on them for 10.00 all you have to do is go to http://www.victortarassov.com to get one.
On Practice: What Makes a Flamenco Guitar?
By Lester De Voe
We are all familiar with classical guitars and some of us have had the opportunity to play a flamenco guitar. I would like to explain what makes a flamenco guitar different from a classical.
Flamenco guitars feel lighter, play easier and have a more immediate and percussive sound. These features reflect differences in the method and types of woods used in construction. The differences in construction are subtle and vary from one maker to another, so I speak from my own perspective. Typically, the depth of the guitar body of the flamenco is shallower than the classical, with the soundboard and the back of the instrument usually 1/8″ 1/4″ closer together. This reduces the volume of air in the soundbox and raises the pitch slightly. Internally, the length of the fan braces of a flamenco guitar are not as long and this shortens the duration of tone, giving a more immediate sound the characteristic “punch” that is a desirable flamenco attribute. This “punch” or “edge” allows the guitar to cut through other sounds when in accompaniment with the flamenco song, dance and clapping (palmas).
On the flamenco guitar, the action as measured by the height of the strings above the twelfth fret is 1/32″ lower than on the classical. To facilitate right hand strumming (rasgueados) and finger tapping (golpes) on the tap plate (golpeador), the strings must also be closer to the soundboard, which requires a lower bridge and saddle height.
Flamenco guitars are tuned with tuning machines or, more traditionally, by wooden friction pegs of ebony or rosewood. The pegs are lighter in weight and aid in the holding of the guitar in the traditional (but seldom used) position in which the guitar is supported by the right arm and rests on the right leg without touching the left leg. While some say the pegs change the tone, I like the look, feel, and tuning of a guitar with well-fitted pegs.
Based on the woods used in construction, flamenco guitars fall into two categories: traditional or modern. In the traditional or blanca flamenco guitar, light colored cypress is used for the back and sides while the modern or negra guitar uses dark colored rosewood. During the time that Antonio Torres was defining classical and flamenco guitar construction, Spanish cypress wood was used because of local availability and low cost and was generally used for flamenco guitars although some of Torres’ most famous classical guitars were constructed with Spanish cypress. Wooden tuning pegs were less expensive than tuners and became associated with flamenco guitars as well. Today, however, the cost of cypress from Spain and Italy is two to four times that of Indian rosewood, approaching the cost of the expensive Brazilian rosewood. The Spanish guitarist, Paco de Lucia, popularized the use of the flamenco negra. The use of denser rosewood gives flamenco guitars a fuller and richer tone approaching that of classical guitars. However, if a guitarist has a strong attack, with a low action, the rosewood negra still yields the familiar flamenco sound and attack.
In the flamenco guitar, the soundboard is typically constructed of spruce while in the classical guitar, cedar is more common. Spanish cedar is the preferred wood for the neck of a flamenco guitar as it is a bit lighter in weight than mahogany. Both types of wood are used for classical guitar necks.
Even though flamenco guitars are designed for a particular style of music, they make an excellent vehicle for the expression of classical, jazz and Latin music as well.
Recently, I began adding graphite epoxy composite neck reinforcement under the fingerboard and inset into the neck on all concert models. It is not seen on the finished neck but adds a measure of protection against warping. The material is many times stronger than steel and weighs little more than the wood it replaces. Another new technique I’m using is wood to finish the fretboard to reduce the possibility of the fingerboard drying out, cupping and causing cracks on the top. If a repairman were ever to replace the fingerboard, the finish on the ebony would need to be removed before applying heat.
Lester DeVoe founded the San Jose Classical Guitar Society, soon called the South Bay Guitar Society, in February of 1986. A talented luthier with an international reputation, Lester’s guitars have been owned by great players, particularly flamenco guitarists such as Paco de Lucia, Juan Martín and the late Sabícas. For several years he and his family lived on a farm in Maine. A few years ago they relocated to Nipomo, California. Contact Lester at Lester DeVoe, 680 Camino Roble, Nipomo, California 93444. Phone/fax: (805) 931-0313. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My main instrument is a Mexican-made Montalvo flamenco negra guitar (distributed in the U.S. by the Berkeley Musical Instrument Exchange, 2923 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94709;  548-7538; www.berkeleymusic.com). I have two of these and they are greate.