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New gear: Roland Cube Lite

Roland Cube Lite

I got some new gear for my guitars! I bought the Roland Cube Lite to have a portable amp to play on when in the living room. Some cool features of it are that you can hook up your iPod Touch and play along with your favorite songs all through the same speaker. And if you use toe iOS app you can even record yourself playing along a song. Another nice feature of the app is that you can mark a section of a song to loop over.

There are three amp models included: JC Clean, Crunch and Extreme. For effects there is the choice of Chorus or Reverb. There’s also a knob for Drive, Volume, Bass and Treble. For your input audio device there’s also a volume knob.

Quick impression of Rocksmith 2014

A little bit over a year ago I purchased the first Rocksmith on PC to get back into regular guitar playing. In the end I’ve only spent about 13 hours playing it. Not nearly enough to really get through some songs though I did master a couple of them. The reasons I didn’t invest more time in it were due to sound lag issues, the confusing interface (the fretboard is displayed with a slightly angled view), practicing a song was difficult, bad detection (power chords always failed for some reason) and having to play the songs that the game decided was a pain as well.

So I was a little weary of buying the latest Rocksmith 2014 game. For good reasons if I say so myself. But the stuff they showed at E3 such as the session mode and riff repeater made me decide to get it anyway. One very nice thing is that all the DLC you bought for the first Rocksmith can be used in the 2014 edition.

I’m liking Rocksmith 2014 a lot more than the first game. The riff repeater is a great tool that helps you master a riff. You can adapt difficulty and speed so you can gradually master a riff. I’ve done this before with Guitar Pro using the loop-feature and tweaking the speed. But with the variable difficulty setting Rocksmith 2014 makes you learn core notes of a riff first and every time you have a perfect run it increases the difficulty which adds more notes. With difficult parts what helps for me is to turn down the speed to around 80-85% with difficulty at 100%. Then after a couple of runs I crank it all up to 100% and try that.

When playing a new song it starts at an easy level and it gradually increases the difficulty if you’re doing well. This feature was available in the first Rocksmith as well but as far as I can tell all I could do is change the difficulty back to very easy to the highest level. Not really great when trying to learn the song.

I’m only 4 hours in and have almost mastered Bring Me To Life by Evanescence (I’m at 99.7% or something). And with Wheels by Foo Fighters I’ve already been able to master a part of the solo and some other parts. With the first Rocksmith I couldn’t really get anywhere with it.

In the few hours I’ve played I’m liking Rocksmith 2014 a lot more than the first game and will try to play more frequent (daily?) now. I try to play the guitar at least 3 times a week, but never learn anything new. With Rocksmith 2014 I’m finally learning new stuff again. Such as pinch harmonics, which so far have proven to be challenging :-).

Hook up your guitar to GarageBand on iPad with your Rocksmith Real Tone Cable

Do you own an iPad? Have you got GarageBand installed on it? And do you per change own the game Rocksmith (for PC, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3) with the included Real Tone Cable? Yes? Good!

Now go get yourself a (cheap) USB adapter for your iPad so you can hook up your Real Tone Cable to it. These adapters can be bought cheap online from DealExtreme. Yes, you can use the official adapter by Apple which is of better quality but also a lot more expensive.

With your guitar connected to your iPad you can start recording with GarageBand. GarageBand also comes with a lot of guitar amplifiers and stomp boxes for added effects. Don’t quite like the result of your recording? Simply modify the amp settings or change the amp all together.

Using GarageBand with your guitar is a lot of fun as it opens up a lot of possibilities to try things out and just have fun. For one you can record a solo, duplicate the track and change some amp settings and et voilà you’ve got a double guitar solo going on!

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this for the past two weeks. I could also connect my acoustic guitar and even with the non-clean amp stacks it still sounded really nice. And with the Smart Guitar, Smart Bass and Drumkit you can quickly create a backing track to which you can jam on.

The Real Tone Cable has been in my possession since the Dutch/European release of Rocksmith and I only wished I had gotten this USB adapter for my iPad sooner.

I got a new guitar: Hondo II HDLP-2B

Today my mom brought home a Hondo II HDLP-2B, a Les Paul model. I’ve always wanted a Les Paul and am happy I finally own one now. It’s not in a usable state at the moment and as you can see from the picture it’s extremely dirty. I’ve never really seen a guitar that dirty really. Dirt can be cleaned, but dirt isn’t the biggest issue with this guitar. The pickups and screws are rusted and the electronics don’t work anymore either as well.

I do however plan to restore it. This will be a first time for me, but I’m excited about it. I have a little bit of material about replacing components on a guitar and I’ve had an education in electricity and wiring. Luckily I’ve still got my soldering iron!

First steps will be to clean the guitar and figure out what exactly needs to be replaced. I also need to do some research on guitar pickups. I don’t need a hard rock or metal guitar. My ESP LTD Viper 200-FM is suited for that. I hope to make a guitar out of this one that’s suitable for blues.

Another thing I’m excited about is that the guitar is quite old (to my standards). I believe it was build somewhere in the 1970-1980’s. It definitely shows that this guitar has been used and I’m rather curious about its life story! One can only guess…

Update: The guitar has been dated to 1977. Thanks Wietse!

It only took about 4 months

I’m talking about my guitar mountings for on the wall! I’ve had them since early august but only now have I (well, my brother :-)) been able to attach them to the wall.

This clears up some room on the floor as well.

From the left to the right are: Richwood RE-50 Strat., ESP LTD Viper 200-FM and my Nashville Western steel string.