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Give: Life Lessons from a Busker

“That was nice of you.”

“Excuse me?”

“That was nice of you.”

The kind, older woman selling her vibrant, meticulously-crafted quilts had to repeat herself three times before I could hear her over the pulse of music and voices at the arts & crafts fair.

Her comment left me confused in a situation I know all too well. Here’s a singer & guitarist just like me, with an open guitar case full of unpriced CDs. It’s street performer code for, “Take one, and pay what you think is fair.” Continue reading →

The Travels of a Faux 1954 Fender Esquire – Guest Post

About a month ago, my friend & office mate Jim asked me to resuscitate his 1985 Fender Squire Tele (you can read about the technical details of the work over here). After he got her back, he was inspired to write about this sweet little Squire for my blog. Which is no small thing. He’s a helluva writer. Enjoy!

The Travels of a Faux ’54 Esquire
by Jim Haner

Fender Squire Headstock

There are very few things guitar geeks love more than a story about a “rare find”: the guy who picks up a vintage Gibson ES-250 or Martin D-18 in a moldy case at a flea market; the half-daft widow who lets her husband’s Synchromatic-400 go at a garage sale for 27 bucks.

This is not one of those stories. This one is better.

“Look at that neck!” Rich said when he first popped open the case. “Come to Daddy, baby. Oh, my goodness, are you … purty!”

Almost 25 years ago, in my brother’s home studio in Oxnard, California, I had the same reaction to this ‘85 Squire. There in a rack sat this dishwater-blonde — next to his spanking-new, midnight-black, Fender Custom Telecaster, with red banding and a whammy bar, and more fresh chrome than Buick ever put on a car. Continue reading →

Restoring a 1985 Fender Squire Telecaster

Jim's Squire Tele

Jim’s Squire Tele

My buddy Jim brought me his 1985 Fender Squire Tele, one of his prized guitars. From the moment I put my hands on her, I could tell she was something special. Great feel, very responsive, resonant wood… She was in decent shape overall, but the innards were shot. The body, neck, fingerboard, and pups were fine. But both pots and the switch were cutting out. If you held the switch just right, she’d play for ya, albeit noisily. As long as you had the jack in the right position too. There was clearly promise here, but only after a complete re-wiring job.

The old wiring & worn-out switch & pots

The old wiring & worn-out switch & pots

Because this guitar was based on the 50s model Teles, the wiring was like them, too. Continue reading →

The Coolest Little Update in iPhone iOS 7 for Songwriters & Musicians


Even the Voice Memos Icon is new in iOS 7

For us iPhone users, iOS 7 is full of updates. Of course, there’s the new clean interface, the friendly control center, more emphasis on gestures, etc. But I want to bring your attention to the single most important app on my iPhone. It has gotten a major update with iOS 7, and I’m super excited about it. It’s not a third-party app, and it comes with your phone. Are you ready?

I’m talking about Voice Memos.

Yep. That largely ignored, stock app that lets you record stuff. It’s one of the most important apps on my phone. And it has gotten a whole lot better in iOS 7.

I write songs, and I use Voice Memos to record little snippets of song ideas as they come to me. I have dozens of them on there. Short recordings of guitar, melodies, rhythms. Whenever something hits me that I think is worth saving, I whip out my iPhone and my trusty Voice Memos app. It’s right there on my home screen, fast and easy. Heck, the files are all even backed up for me.

Voice Memo App in iOS 7

The re-designed Voice Memos interface. To see older recordings, simply swipe up from the bottom.

Prior to iOS 7, The app was so basic that you only had two options for titling something. It could either be a Voice Memo (essentially untitled) or an Idea. So I currently have a couple of things called “Idea” on there, and the rest are just memos because I was too lazy to re-label them (and it really wasn’t all that easy to do anyway).

But with iOS 7, the app has had a major overhaul. Now we get something that looks more like a recording app should. It has a nice little input graph and everything is on one screen. Very handy. But the best part is that you can title your recording anything you want! So my last recording is Song Descending Am Am/g F#dim. This is so much more handy than trying to rely on dates to find something I recorded in uh..late 2011 or early 2012..I think…

The new Voice Recorder interface is worth a look if you need to capture song ideas. I’ve been dealing with its limitations since my first iPhone, and feel that this release finally fixes all the (albeit minor) annoyances I’ve had with it. And if you aren’t using anything to capture those ideas that hit you in the most inconvenient places & times…why not!? This is the best tip I can give you as a songwriter–capture those ideas as they happen. You’ll probably lose them otherwise, and that’s no good for anyone.

Let me know how you capture your song ideas. Are there better apps out there? I’m also interested in what Android devices have, since I’d like to help those users out but just don’t have the knowledge of those devices.

Keep writing!

The Fate of the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence – Special 4th of July Entry

Note – I’ve removed this post, which was originally a piece by Thom Hartmann on the fate of the signers. As it turns out, much of his article is not true. Here’s the snopes article that aims to get at the truth. Tip of the hat to commenter Cami for pointing it out. Removing this from one spot on the internet is my small but necessary contribution to humanity. I’m just sorry I posted it in the first place without checking it out.