Monday, October 26, 2020

2020 Gibson SG Standard Review

In 2014, I bought a Les Paul Traditional that had some issues and after that, I swore I would never buy another Gibson.  Last year, I heard about the management overhaul and most reviews said QC was up so I tried my luck with an SG Jr.  That was a good day because I was, and still am, very happy with it.

So to push my luck again, I thought I'd buy an SG Standard.  I almost went with the 61 series but then I'd have 3 red ones.  And I couldn't justify paying over $2600 Cdn for an SG.  So I went with the Standard in black.

Out of the Box

Out of the box, I'll say it's a 7.  Then again, I got black so that'll hide a lot of blemishes but the gloss is nice.  Like the Junior, the fretboard was really dry.  The action was a little high and the frets, all of them, needed a polish.  Maybe Gibson's not doing the PLEK thing anymore.  After lemon oiling the fretboard, putting the stop bar flush to the body (I wrap the strings over the bar), polishing the frets and a change of strings, things were better.

The neck is rounded, in case someone was looking at getting one of these.  I like it.  The bevels are getting better, more sculpted than they used to be since the 60s and the guitar is very light, lighter than my buddy's Squire Thinline Telecaster.  The Grovers are a nice thing to have.  Unfortunately, the pickups are those God-awful 490s.  Why does Gibson still make these pickups?  They've been shit for years and nobody likes them.  Even before I bought it, I knew I was going to have to replace the pickups.  

It comes with the better gig bag but it's still a gig bag.

Everything's good, until I got under the hood

This is when everything glowing comes to a halt.  I must have got a Friday Afternoon Special.  I went to switch out the pickups (with Phat Cats) and I got the pickguard off and, well, look at the pictures.  For one thing, the body wasn't completely finished.  Also, that's not reflection from the lamp, that's a weird white/gray spray around the pickup routes.  And look at the spot under the fretboard: why am I seeing bare wood?  If you're going to stock these things with 490s, why would you not paint the inside?  I could see if there were good pickups that came with it then you'd never have to pop the top off but they aren't.  Final inspection would never notice this shit job so I understand why it slipped by.  

I flipped it over and unscrewed the control cover plate.  Two screws were drilled in on an angle.  Took the plate off and my enthusiasm went out the window.  It comes with a Quick Connect system.  That wasn't mentioned on the website, or anywhere else online.  Quick Connects are to make swapping out pickups easier without soldering.  That would be great except they don't make any after-market pickups to replace them with.  Gibson doesn't sell any and hop on Reverb and look up Quick Connect.  Not a lot of replacement pickups, just the guts from an SG like mine with the dreadful pickups.  Why is the Quick Connect still being installed in a new guitar?  

Then I got more confused at the fact that, this guitar was made to have its pickups changed, meaning the pickguard will eventually come off, so why would you have a hack paint and route job?  You'd think you'd want to clean that up so you don't have people like me going back to saying that Gibson's stuff is still kind of crap.

Final Thoughts

So would I recommend one?  Well... not at that price ($1999 Cdn) but if money's no object and you want to dump another $500 into it to make it decent, then sure, why not?  It won't be the best thing you've ever played but it won't be the worst either.  I can salvage this turkey but, unfortunately, Gibson lost another customer.  I probably won't be back in 6 years to try my luck again.  Now I'm just waiting for my replacement pots.

Pros: light weight, Grovers, better bevels, gloss finish, looks nice
Cons: awful pickups, obsolete Quick Connect system, shoddy workmanship under the pickguard

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Skid Row Row Your Boat Gently Down A Stream

Someone let Grandpa out of the garage
Here's what happens when old rockers don't read the Terms of Service.  And it backs up what I've been saying for years now: if you're looking for money from music, focus on sales and not streams.

I'm going to comment on this one line by line and maybe by the end, we can figure out why some of these Drama Queens, like Sebastian Bach, are so out of touch these days.

TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider, former SKID ROW frontman Sebastian Bach and ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy are among the musicians who have taken issue with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek's suggestion that artists need to be more prolific in the streaming age.

Remember all those times I suggested if you wanted to make music for the rest of your life, you should have a day job too?  It's good advice.

For years, Spotify has been criticized for offering paltry payouts to musicians and songwriters, with some claiming that the service gives major-label artists an unfair advantage via playlist placement and other promotional avenues.

In an interview published Thursday, Ek told Music Ally: "Even today on our marketplace, there's literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy, but we very rarely see anyone who's talking about… In the entire existence [of Spotify], I don't think I've ever seen a single artist saying, 'I'm happy with all the money I'm getting from streaming,' stating that publicly. In private, they have done that many times, but in public, they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.

"There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can't record music once every three to four years and think that's going to be enough," he continued.

That's important, actually.  People's attention spans (myself included) have gotten shorter.  Even at home any more, I'm usually recording something.  I might put it out, I might not but that's because I always like new stuff, and the more the better.  You can't put out 30/40 minutes of music every two years and just sit back and coast, especially if the style of music you're doing hasn't been in fashion for 30 years.

"The artists today that are making it realize that it's about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.

Makes sense.  What these babies should do is film the recording session and put mini-docs out up until the release.  Create an interest instead of just hiring an Ad/PR agency to promote the release and then not do anything after it's out.  I always wondered why people spend more time promoting something that's not available instead of something that is.

"I feel, really, that the ones that aren't doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released," he added.

He is mostly right.  The thing I don't believe is "there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself."  Maybe if the artist is still living in their parents' basement and have no expenses, then someone could live off streaming income but I doubt they would be living comfortably just from that.

A number of notable artists have since fired back at Ek over his suggestion that artists need to churn out more content if they want to the same money they used to, with many in the music community saying that's just not how the creative process works.

"While you (the listener) benefit & enjoy Spotify, it's part of what's killing a major income stream for artist/creators," Snider tweeted. "The amount of artists 'rich enough' to withstand this loss are about .0001%. Daniel Ek's solution is for us to write & record more on our dime?! Fuck him!"

You'd better get to work since this is the way things are currently and will be for the foreseeable future.  Also, sales haven't been the major income stream for a long time.  Performance royalties would probably be the major income stream for a band that had a hit in the 80s and doesn't tour anymore, unless you had a stroke of luck and that song wound up in a movie or a video game.  Dee's "Daniel Ek's solution is for us to write & record more on our dime" is a little off.  It's not the solution but it doesn't look good for someone like Mr Bach since more of his solo songs isn't what anyone wants or needs.  There's millions of songs on Spotify, why would I waste my time listening to 80s "metal" when it wasn't even good at the time?

Bach also chimed in, writing: "When this guy puts out an album himself I will listen to him tell me about my albums."

It could be the lack of punctuation or lack of smarts but he should have said, "...I will listen to him tell me about my albums and how they tank out of the gate."  I think his last CD was certified Paper by the RIAA.

Portnoy was equally critical of Ek's comments, tweeting: "What a greedy little's bad enough that he's worth BILLIONS based on stealing and giving away other musician's music...but now he's suggesting we need to make MORE music for HIM to make more money!!! F-@Spotify and F-@eldsjal

You know why he's rich?  Because he obviously did something right.  You know that Spotify isn't a payday, unless you didn't read the TOS.  Opt out if it bothers you so much.  I used to opt out of having my stuff on Tidal, since I didn't like the owners (they were celebrities calling themselves artists).  It's easy to opt out.  And how exactly is Ek "stealing and giving away other musician's music"?  We may never know the answer.

"I have 8 full album releases in 2020 & will make PEANUTS on them (if anything at all...) So his theory of artists needing to make MORE music to succeed is shit! F-@eldsjal & F-@Spotify! Support THE ARTISTS DIRECTLY if you want them to be able to continue to make music..."

He should have put his songs on BandCamp so people could buy them.  If you want more money from streams, talk to your label or manager to see if they can get you a better deal.  As good as Mr Portnoy is, what he plays on is for a pretty niche market; not a lot of Prog Metal in the charts.  They may be the best fans in the world but it's not a huge number.  He'd be better off playing sessions, at least he can do that whereas Dee and Mr Bach are out of luck on that one. 

Here's why all of these belly-achers are so dumb.  They're so hung up on streaming yet they want to make money.  As I mentioned at the top: focus on sales.  Treat your streams as promotion for the sale, then you'd get the money for the sale AND the stream.  I have zero sympathy for these three Extra Chromosomers.  They've known forever that money is in the touring, and wait for it, merchandise.  But people don't stream merchandise, they sell it.  It's income.  But someone like Bach would still want $0.02 for every time you wore the T-shirt that you bought at his show.

Since I hiked my stuff over to DistroKid, I have 5 or 6 things up on Spotify.  You know how much I expect to make from streams?  $0.  I expect the same out of sales too so anything to me, is a bonus.  And thankfully over the years, I have seen minor payouts and I'm still thrilled that happened.  I'm not here for the money, I'm here because I thoroughly enjoy making music whether it's playing guitar, making the songs, being my own engineer, mixing, making the cover.  I enjoy the whole process, especially since it's all from home and I'm not wasting a gross amount of money going into a recording studio.  Thank God I'm not on a label either.  Also, I don't have to cater to an audience.  The only one that has to like what I do is me since I'm the guy that's going to be listening to it the most.  If someone else does and likes it, then great, if not, no big deal.  At the end of the day, I'm happy. 

And I still haven't figured out why Drama Queens, like Sebastian Bach, are so out of touch these days.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

I Was Confused At First...

Writers, academics sign open letter criticizing 'ideological conformity,' cancel culture

Letter decries 'intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism'

When I first started reading this, I saw: Dozens of artists, writers and academics have signed an open letter ( decrying the weakening of public debate and warning that the free exchange of information and ideas is in jeopardy amid a rise in what they call "illiberalism."  I thought, "Oh, good.  Finally some lefties are figuring out that there's a problem with their side." 

But they didn't get it at all: "The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy."  Who wrote this letter, Rob Reiner? 

Maybe the "elites" are getting senile.  Cancel Culture is a left problem, plain and simple.  I'm Liberal-minded but I don't admit it out loud anymore (except for now, I guess).  As Dave Rubin said, "The Left left me."  Currently, the Woke Left are made up of the most embarrassing people and they lack one of the most important traits a human can have: a sense of humour.  It's no wonder I can't get along with an activist.  How do you know you're in a Feminist Bookstore?  There's no Humour section.  Maybe things will change but currently, the Cancel Culture is about cancelling out any thing that's right of Far Left.  Illiberalism sounds like another term for Post Modernism.

Orange Man Bad didn't win 2016.  The whiny, regressive, activist Left, headed by candidate Mean Grandma, lost because normal people don't like Political Correctness/Group Identity politics or want it.  It's repulsive.  All I hear from the Right is how important Free Speech is (and it is) but who comes along to try and silence it these days?  The Left.  A lot of things happened over the last 30 years and it's pretty much to the point where the sides are switched.  And things sure aren't any better in Canada.

"Critics have pointed out that some of those who signed have engaged in the same toxic behavior they decry in the letter."  Oh, the irony.

Reading the letter, it does sound like a bunch of old people whining, "Don't pick on me"... only with the help of a Thesaurus.  I get it since the ones doing the "calling out" are a bunch of low IQers that only have a Social Justice degree but you don't take these people seriously when they can't even take their life choices seriously.  That's probably why they don't respect anything.  As a left-leaner, I find these "intellectuals" that endorsed this letter as sophisticated as the people calling them out.  Maybe if they stopped acting like Facebook users, they could figure out what's really going on around them. 

And a message for the kids: Politics aren't really that important, it's just that it happened to replace Reality TV in the last 6-7 years.  Be polite, respect is earned, be honest, do what you want as long as it doesn't bother anyone else, speak your mind when it's important and whatever you do, don't become a piece of shit activist.  Nobody likes an Activist.  Buy an instrument (preferably a guitar), make some music and make some friends.