Saturday, April 25, 2015

What's a Stratocaster?

The Strat is probably the most iconic electric guitar. If you see a rock band, there is likely to be a Strat or a Strat clone. They sell from $50 or sixty dollars up to tens of thousands for a custom made or classic model.

Basically the Fender Stratocaster features three pickups and a floating spring tension tremelo system. It was the first guitar in this configuration. It was the first Fender with a contoured body. The  "Comfort Contour Body" is less slab like than the tele.

Starting in 1954, the Stratocaster was offered with a solid, deeply contoured ash body, a 21-fret one-piece maple neck with black dot inlays and Kluson tuning heads.

Strats come in a variety of finishes and colors. I bought mine because I fell in love with the color, agave blue. It has a great neck and I've replaced the pickguard from plain white to a pearlized white like my thinline tele. Mine has a maple neck and maple fingerboard. I love these fender maple fingerboards. They are hard and smooth to the touch.

The Stratocaster features three single coil pickups, with the output originally selected by a 3-way switch. Guitarists soon discovered that by jamming the switch in between the 1st and 2nd position, both the bridge and middle pickups could be selected, and similarly, the middle and neck pickups could be selected between the 2nd and 3rd position. Mine has a more modern 5 position switch.

I love the sound and the feel but I've made three "mods" I added a spring to the floating tremolo so that it is not a floating tremolo anymore. Its what is often called a "hardtail" I don't use wammy's and this stabilized the tuning an feel. I added a new pickguard as mentioned above and finally, I replaced the stamped metal bridge pieces with solid chrome. This was to improve sustain but I noticed little difference.

What's a Thinline?

I have a Fender Thinline guitar. Its one of my favorites. It is actually a regular Telecaster that has been hollowed out at the top bout and has an "F" hole signifying that it is partially acoustic. 

The guitar has a wonderfully thin neck with a hard maple fingerboard and very wide low frets. It is a joy to play and has a very woody tone. It also has a tele "twang" when using the bridge pickup and that balances well with the sweet sounds of the neck pickup. Alone the neck pickup is very mellow and downright jazzy.

Designed by luthier Roger Rossmeisl in 1968 and  introduced in 1969 with humbucking pickups.My 1969 version has two standard Telecaster pickups and a mahogany body. Mike was made in Mexico while a more expensive USA made model is still available. I like the color of my Mexican model. 

I originally bought a Squire version of this guitar. Squire is Fender's lower priced line. I liked it so much that I traded up to the Mexican Fender. I like the color too. 

The guitar is remarkably light and easy to play.

(Paraphrased below from Wikipedia)

The Fender Telecaster was developed by Leo Fender in California in 1950. Solid body guitars had been around for about two decades but did not make much of an impact on the industry.
Fender had an electronics repair shop called Fender's Radio Service where he first repaired, then designed, amps and pickups for musicians. 
Leo built a prototype, a white guitar that had most of the features of what would become the Telecaster. It was a wooden guitar with a bolt-on neck.
The initial single-pickup production model appeared in 1950, and was called the Esquire. Fewer than fifty guitars were originally produced under that name, and most were replaced under warranty because of early manufacturing problems.  Later in 1950 a two-pickup model was renamed the Broadcaster. From this point onwards all Fender necks incorporated truss rods.
The so-called Nocaster was a short-lived variant of Telecaster. Produced in early to mid-1951, it was the result of legal action from the Gretsch company over the guitar's previous name, the Broadcaster (Gretsch already had the "Broadkaster" name registered for a line of drums). In the interim, before Fender had come up with an alternate name and printed appropriately revised headstock decals, factory workers simply snipped the "Broadcaster" name from its existing stock of decals, so guitars with these decals are identified simply as "Fender", without any model name.
In 1951 the guitar was officially renamed as the Telecaster and has been known as such ever since.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Counting the Omer Again....

As a child, holidays came and went. Each had its own rituals and foods. Some I didn't even notice, others were pretty much good for a day off from school. Now that I am older, and have time to think about these things, I spend a little more time wondering what it is all about.

When my dear daughter asked me to write her an Omer counter I had to look it up to find out what it was. I find the idea interesting for many reasons. Most of which it makes the counter, if you choose to be one, congnizant of the passage of time and the season more than ever. It gives us a chance to prepare for the holiday that celebrates G-d giving us the Torah.

The Torah, everything you need to know about life in one easy to handle scroll, is an amazing gift and however you believe it came to be, it certainly has had a profound impact on Jews and non-Jews alike.

I found a couple of interesting articles on Counting the Omer. The first is from the blog PunkTorah regarding the counting:

So, what does this all mean to us now? Well, it can mean many things. Counting the Omer can be used as a tool of self reflection. We can take this time to recognize the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt, from the gift of our freedom. The Sages tell us that G-d freed us from slavery in order to give us the Torah on Shavu’ot, so this should be a time of preparation. Counting the Omer gives us the time to learn from the gift of freedom G-d has given us and incorporate it into our lives, to grow one day at a time, taking a spiritual accounting, to make sure that we are heading in the right direction, to look at what we are doing that is right or wrong and to try to make ourselves ready to receive the honor of the Torah.
Counting the days is another way of directing our mindfulness to the passage of time. Be aware of the days as they pass, count them, give them meaning. We have been freed from slavery, rejecting the confusion and idolatry (philosophically, literally, and spiritually) of our own Egypt’s and are being made ready to re-focus our lives.
I guess a good take-away from all of this is that one must make each day count. Make each day worth living for you and the people you love. 

(This is a repeat of a post from a few years ago)