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Everything posted by JohnnyB

  1. I have several of them. Some were done by Acoustic Sounds, including a remaster/repress of a 1958 Nat King Cole album, "After Hours." This is a pre-stereo recording, so it really lights up with my mono cartridge. I also have the Ry Cooder/V.M Batt "A Meeting by the river." Cooder's son played tablas, and the presentation is in-the-room visceral and dynamic. I have a few more remasters, but I also have some pressings from classical label Angel's "sonic series", which presents large scale orchestral works such as "The Planets." The 45 rpm effect spreads the groove undulations over a longer area, much like professional studio tapes are recorded at 15 or 30 ips, rather than at 7.5 ips. The faster speed also means that many single-disc 33rpm albums are double albums at 45 rpm, and cost around $25 /per disc. I have a 3-disc album that came in at $75, but I bought it used from an audio buddy for $50. Still have it, won't let go of any of them. Angel's Sonic Series comes in cheaper because they're on the used or out -of-print market.
  2. At last I'm able to present my subjective impressions of new $34 AT-95VM with bonded conical stylus. I like it for a number of reasons: It has a rich, forward soloist range, whether vocal or instrumental, with a pleasing blend of the backing instruments. This makes it particularly engaging if you're listening to Sinatra accompanied by Nelson Riddle or Count Basie, or any number of pop/rock groups such as The Cars, Police, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, etc. The cartridge body has built-in mounting threads, making installtion siimpler and with no need for bolts to secure the cartridge. The supplied bolts fit the thread pitch in the cartridge, which may not work with bolts from other sources. If you have any mono LPs, you can switch between stereo and mono recordings without swapping (and re-balancing) between stereo and mono cartridges. My 2014 Beatles in Mono releases sound superb, even when compared to my moving coil mono cartridge (which requires rebalancing the tonearm and changing the gain and capacitance settings on my phono preamp. The mono cartridge is lower in noise because it's a true mono which tracks above accumulated dust i in the bottom of the groove, but the AT95-VMC comes very close. The conical stylus is a good match for LPs stamped before the mid-60s. Starting with the $34 AT95-VMC, you can upgrade economically to a nude and/or exotically shaped stylus for less the price of most all-in-one cartridges with a nude-mounted high end stylus. For example, I got Audio-Technica's flagship cartridge with nude Microlinear stylus, the At150MLX, for $259 in 2008 directly from Japan when import goods were cheaper; stateside they were $599. Currently the At150MLX has shot up to $770. The AT-95VMC ($34) plus the microlinar stylus ($169) totals at $203. Similarly, the same cartridge ($34) plus its upgrade nude shibata stylus ($199) comes to $233. By contrast, the shibata-equipped Ortofon Black cartridge weighs in at $699. Again, $233 is a steal. The microline stylus is shaped like the cutting head when mastering the LP. The shibata stylus was created to track 4-channel discrete LPs to groove oscillations up to 40Khz. They remain lush and unperturbed when tracking the inner part of an LP's groove where it's tight. I have been using the base AT-95VC on a wide variety of music: a capella vocal, the Beatles, power pop, '80s rock, small group jazz, big band, and even large scale orchestra, even my Balalaika Favorites, which is in mono. It sounds superb with this $34 cartridge, and I have been using the AT150MLX for13 years.
  3. I agree that the Babicz versions of the Tunamatic bridge and stoptail bridges on guitars are busy-looking. But Babicz's J-bass version is sheer elegance compared to Fender's bent sheet-metal plus adjustment screws. I'll take Babicz's ability to do a setup in 10 minutes any time over the fussy Fender design. And that's no slam on Leo, either, because he also designed the smooth and comfortable Saddle-Lock bridge designs at G&L: Having played the stock Fender J-bass with sheet metal bridge and owning a J-bass with the Babicz drop-in replacement plus a 1980s G&L Lynx bass with Saddle-Lock bridge, I'd estimate that the Babicz and G&L bridges add about 30% more tone quality, volume, and clarity over my experience with a J-bass's stock bridge.
  4. Friday update: I just wasted 2 hours writing a description of Audio-Technica's AT-95VM moving magnet series only to have a virus take over my screen with no escape but pressing the power-down button, thus wiping out everything I wrote. Now I need a nap. So here's the URL to Audio-Technica's well-illustrated description of their AT-95VM series: https://www.audio-technica.com/vm95seriescartridges/index.html I bought the entry-level model with the bonded conical stylus for $34. I've been playing a wide variety of records lately and will post my opinion of its performance later this afternoon.
  5. Audio Technica has a brilliantly conceived new line of moving magnet cartridges. More info to come Friday.
  6. Unlike the sharp and ratty Fender tailpiece, the Babicz cams are smooth and provide a comfortable place to rest your plucking hand.
  7. I tend to agree. Some displays of virtuosity fit in with the music and raise the energy of the songs, but when overdone, it distracts from the song. I got a CD of Eric Johnson from the local library. I was interested in checking him out because he was touring with G3 and got a lot of good press here. But after slogging through his solo album, the pentatonic meedly-meedly got to me, leading me to conclude, "It's Still Wank 'n' Roll to me." To be fair, I think too much reliance on the pentatonic scale is getting to me. I recently played a British classical orchestral album of Ralph Vaughn Williams symphonies and tone poems. Vaughn Williams frequently adapted/rearranged orchestral works based on rural English folk songs. Being folk songs, these also relied heavily on the pentatonic scale (minus the meedly-meedly), and to my surprise I rapidly tired of the folk reliance of the pentatonic scale in spite of Vaughn Williams' lush orchestations.
  8. My stepson gave me this vol. 1&2 double vinyl remastered180-gramg repress for Christmas: This music evokes fond memories going back 58 years when I was 8 yrs old. This album shot to #1 in 1962 and the singles got lots of airplay on our local top 40 stations. To hear its biggest hit, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-YqaTDDCDM. I got a new phono cartridge and I was breaking it in on the Ray Charles, some gems from my jazz collection, and this amazing album: This is a meticulously mastered and 180g pressing from a 1963 recording. It was recorded by Mercury Records, using a Westrex cinema-based machines 35mm tape recorder. 35 mm film is about 2-1/2" wide and runs at 24 frames/sec, which means the sound was recorded on about 1-1/2"-wide tape running at about 24 inches per second. The recording clarity and musical quality is stunning. This recording was made at the height of the Cold War. To soften some of the tension, there was some USA/Soviet cultural interactions, and this recording was one of them. (Another was when Russian folk dancers appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show about the same time) The musicians were the Osipov Orchestra (Wiki article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osipov_State_Russian_Folk_Orchestra), and featuring a full-sized orchestra comprised of Russian folk instruments. The balalikas ranged from large bass ones (pictured) going all the way up to violin range. They also used accordions or concertinas, which add a lush color to the arrangements. The balalaika players are monster virtuosos. One of the songs is "Flight of the Bumble Bee" picked at full speed. Check it out at https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/11026/Vitaly_Gnutov-Balalaika_Favorites-180_Gram_Vinyl_Record. Hear the opening number here:
  9. Here's a web page about the 2230 at a website called "Classic Receivers."
  10. In the Wikipedia entry for FujiGen it says, "In 1981–82 FujiGen obtained the Fender Japan contract which lasted until 1996–97..." It was around 1997 when I saw the one in the music store, and Robben Ford was still endorsing it.
  11. Any love for the MIJ Fender Robben Ford Esprit model? I played one in a music store and it seemed really nice.
  12. Maybe juststrings.com stockpiled 'em, though they do have some gaps in their DM inventory: Blue Steel NickelSteel
  13. I just remembered a couple of other artists that I feel are in a class of their own. One is the late Dave Brubeck's late drummer, Joe Morello, who soloed/riffed on their 1959 crossover hit, Take 5. Joe was new to the 5/4 time signature, and for that one, Brubeck laid out a 5/4 pattern on the piano to keep Joe anchored. By 1961, the Brubeck Quartet came out with their follow-up album, Time Further Out, which explored time signatures in 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 74, 8/8, and 9/8. By this time Joe was had completely mastered 5/4 and played an extended solo (no riffs) on his own: The other artist is vibist Gary Burton. I started in on mallet percussion in 8th grade and I have never heard any vibist play like Gary Burton. He also has an ear for guitarists. His first quartet album, 1967's Duster, featured Larry Coryell and is also considered one of the very first jazz fusion albums, years ahead of Miles Davis. Later on his guitarists included John Scofield and Pat Metheny. My first Burton album was a collaboration with Keith Jarrett who brought in his guitarist, Sam Brown, who had a great raw sound on his Telecaster. Burton's virtuosity on the vibes sent me into sensory overload. There is an interlude of interplay between Burton and Jarrett at 3:08 which displays the virtuosity of these two. Burton always played with four or six mallets whereas other famous vibists--Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Dave Pike, Cal Tjader, etc.--generally played with two mallets, just one for each hand. And if they (rarely) played with four, it was not with Burton's speed and precision. Vibraphones are fixed pitch instruments, but somehow Burton figured out how to bend notes on the vibes, starting at 2:11 on this number:
  14. Wide, sueded, and padded Levy's guitar straps go a long way toward creating a comfortable guitar stance. The wide strap distributes the weight on your shoulder, the padding keeps it from cutting into your shoulder, the suede backing helps hold the guitar in place and minimizes neck dive. If you have back/neck problems, the right Levy's strap is easily worth the money. I have collapsed discs, thinning spinal fluid, and a 50-year-old shoulder separation, so I know how the Levy's straps can make 4-hour sets possible and virtually pain-free.
  15. When I was in fifth grade (9 going on 10), I started taking drum lessons in elementary school. So when I finished elementary school in 6th grade I'd taken drum lessons for 2 years. This was mostly drum-only simple exercisess. For Christmas in 6th grade, I got a beginner's 3-piece drum set with one cymbal (no hi-hat). Then when I finished 6th grade it was 1965 and my older sister sent me a Gene Krupa album for having "graduated" from elementary school. There are two numbers on that album that really captivated me. The first one was "Drummin' Man," a featured song of Krupa's big band. I was astounded that he could play rim shots as accents in his solo when I could practice for an hour just to land ONE rim shot. Krupa's solo starts at 2:18. Also on that record was a song called "China Boy," harkening back to when Gene was the drummer for Benny Goodman. This song and his solo was wild and fast like I'd never heard up to then. Solo starts at 0:57:
  16. Especially with Caddy's departure. RIP. Glad you're still here, GtrDaddy.
  17. The best deals are discoveries of sheer luck. I was in a mom'n'pop music store, and on my way out, there was a basket of strings on the checkout counter. It was filled with Elixir guitar strings at $2.00/set (Elixirs retail at around $10.69 - $12.59/set today0. I grabbed a hand full and checked out. These were 11-49s and were absolute magic with my new Newport. It turns out that the slightly thicker strings put more downforce on the bridge and archtop, and really opened up the sound. With their polyweb coating, they lasted a long time and I gladly ponied up $8.50 for replacement strings from then on. Anymore, I tend to shop at juststrings.com. Staggering selection, goood prices, prompt and free shipping. What's not to like?
  18. I just finished watching all 8 episodes of Ken Burns' documentary, "Country Music." In one segment, Dwight Yoakam was on-camera describing what a spot-on, poignant lyricist Merle Haggard was. The thought of Merle's lyrics (and, I suppose, his passing in 2016) got Dwight so choked up he could hardly make it through the segment.
  19. I played this CD in my car a few days ago. I'd had the LP version since my sister gave it to me for my birthday in 1969. I was quite taken by the high energy chart, "The St. Petersburg Race" from the film, "Run Sunward" That film has the distinction of having no entry in imdb.com I found out that it was a film about offshore high-speed boat racing. It turns out one of the major figures in this film is Don Aranow, who was a great boat pilot and also founded Magnum, Cary, Cigarette, Donzi, and Formula speedboats. There are a couple of bio-dramas about him including "Thunder Man" and "Speed Kills." His boats were popular with organized crime because his boats were plenty fast for smuggling. The Cigarette boats made 500 hp and could top out at around 90 mph. His shady side caught up with him and he was gunned down in a classic mob hit in 1987. Anyway, I justs discovered that I don't need to order a $40 DVD of "Run Sunward" from this website; it turns out I can watch the whole thing on YouTube, and I'm really glad I didn't spend the money as the film really shows its age. If they really want to keep it around, they should rewrite and re-record the narration. It turns out that "The St. Petersburg Race" in the soundtrack refers to an open-water race from St. Petersburg, FL to Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island off the east coast of Florida. The film also showed a 440-mile offshore race from Long Beach to San Francisco, CA.
  20. I have an Al Hirt Greatest hits, which includes "The Best Man," a duet he did with Ann-Margret on this album. The band leader (and my first drum teacher) at my elementary school in Cincinnati, was John Hirt, Al Hirt's cousin. They came to Cincinnati from New Orleans and studied at Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music together.
  21. Players spend a lot more money seeking better tone, intonation, clarity, musicality, and responsiveness. My perceptions may be based on my purchase in 2011, at which time it was easy to comparison shop for Babicz products and land a sweet deal. That's what I managed to do eight years ago for about 40% less than the going rate.
  22. How about setting spot-on intonation and ideal action in a few seconds? The Babicz bridges make Tun-a-matics look like they were designed by amateurs. You pay more money for the Babicz, but you'll more than make it up in the time you save on setup and the improvement you get on response and tone quality. The tone transfer you get from a Babicz is awsome. I bought a drop-in replacement for a Squier fretless Jazz bass and the resulting clarity and massive tone that came from that $199 used bass more than justified the purchase price. What's your time worth calculated over the time you own the guitar or bass?
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