2016 Christmas Gifts for Guitarists

Fender Stratocater

Hohoho! It’s that time of year again, as a guitar player; I would like to know what popular 2016 Christmas gifts for guitarists are available.

Playing the guitar is an expensive hobby, but there are a lot of gifts out there that I never knew existed.

Here are a few gifts great for guitarists that I wouldn’t mind receiving:

front cover of Guitarist Magazine

 

A Magazine subscription to Guitarist or Guitar World

A magazine subscription to either Guitarist or Guitar World is the perfect choice for those who like a mixture of guitarist artist news, alongside lessons, album news, music videos, photos and reviews on guitars and equipment. You can get a 12-month print subscription of Guitarist Magazine for  £56 or a digital version for £27.

Logic Pro X interface

Logic Pro X software

My brother-in-law swears by this equipment and has used it to record his guitar tracks, during his music degree and still uses it. The Apple software is the most advanced version of Logic and can you can purchase it from the app store at £149.99.

Logic Pro X  is the best tool for songwriting, editing, and mixing and is built around a modern interface that’s designed to get creative results quickly and deliver more power whenever it’s needed.

Personalised guitar picks

Personalised guitar picks

One of the things that guitarists can’t do without are picks, and they are very easy to lose. I have lots of picks of all different sizes and have only recently started using them again. I personally prefer to pluck the guitar. However,  some songs, sound much better if you use a pick.

Personalised picks are a lovely idea for guitarists because it isn’t just another pick. Getting Personal sells silver engraved picks, which are much stronger than the plastic picks that go brittle and break, metal looks better and lasts longer. You can also Personalise your metal silver pick with a message in up to 45 characters.

An iTunes gift card

Are you unsure what to buy someone but you know that they own an iPod and that they enjoy listening to music? iTunes gift cards are great because you can purchase them online or in shops such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda. You can buy Apple iTune cards from £15 up to £100 so you can choose a gift where your loved ones can choose their own music.

Ultimate guitar app

I found this app by accident once when I was searching for chords for music to play by my favourite artists and when I clicked on show chords and lyrics the Ultimate Guitar app came up on my computer screen. I haven’t yet subscribed. However, you can subscribe and get a free trial before you purchase the app.

 1 month12 monthsLifetime
Local Access Web only£2.90£19.90£29.90
Full Access Web,  ios, Android£4.50£27.90Today only £29.90

 

A spare set of acoustic guitar strings

An extra set of string for my acoustic guitar always comes in handy, as strings can break so easily. Every guitarist would benefit from having an additional set of strings even professional guitarists. Especially, those who gig on a regular basis and many beginners also break a lot of strings when they first start playing the guitar.

Fender Guitar Cleaner

Fender Custom Shop 4-Step Cleaning Pack (4 Pack)

Until recently, My Fender Stratocaster hadn’t been cleaned for the best part of 20 years. A premium guitar cleaner kit would be ideal for many guitarists including myself. I could do with this kit to clean up my other guitars. You can purchase a Fender Custom Shop 4-step cleaning pack from Amazon for just £15.75, or there are other cleaning kits available from £3 – £30.

What would you buy a guitarist? Are there any 2016 Christmas gifts for guitarists that you feel should have been on this list? Please comment below, email admin@digitalclassic.co.uk or send a tweet @digitalclassic.

Blogmas and the Christmas Countdown

Blogmas 2016 sign with flying Reindeer

I was browsing through my twitter feed and noticed that lots of people were mentioning Blogmas so I thought I would write my first post in December around Blogmas and the Christmas countdown.

For those of you who don’t know what blogmas is, and I never knew myself until a few days ago. Blogmas is when a blogger writes daily blog posts throughout December up until the 25th. Some bloggers, decide to write for 12 days of Christmas and others blog for the full 31 days. Vloggers, also take part in “Vlogmas” where they post their videos for the first 25 days until Christmas.

Today is the 1st of December, the start of Blogmas and the Christmas countdown and I’m about to open my advent calendar. I thought I’d start my Blogmas post first because this is my first ever Blogmas write up and this blog has been going since June this Year.

Reflecting on 2016!

I purchased the domain for this blog, back in December 2013 and decided to start the blog at the beginning of 2014. After writing a few posts, I became extremely busy with other freelance work. Unfortunately, I had so much work that I never had enough time off. I was working seven day weeks 8 am until 10 pm. My workload consisted of 60 -70 articles per month, looking after clients social media accounts and WordPress sites, two days PR for a client, half a day’s marketing and two days of PPC.

Finally, after suffering from exhaustion for most of 2015, I’m slowly getting myself back on my feet, and I started up Digital Classic again in June this year. I also changed hosts from 123 reg to e-host because their servers were running too slow.

I can’t  believe that its December already.Besides being my first ever Blogmas and the Christmas countdown, this month also marks the six month anniversary of Digital Classic. I just hope that readers can continue to enjoy the blog and that posts are of value to everyone who reads them or future readers. I have lots of plans for this blog as it grows, which I will reveal in my New Year blog post.

Throughout this month, I will be posting Christmas based posts which I hope you will all enjoy. Please feel free to comment on the posts and let me know if there is something that you would like me to write about or review.

I’m off to open the first door on my Malteser calendar, which my Dad brought for me. My Dad brought the whole family advent calendars, which was very thoughtful of him. He even got my sister and I our favourite advent calendars.

How to manage your social media for free during the festive holidays

Picture of a bird and some clouds in the sky and the word twitter is written underneath the bird.

Many people will be breaking up for the Christmas break in 5 weeks time, and with this, in mind, it’s important to stay in touch with clients and followers by remembering to update your social media accounts.

During the Christmas break, many of us like to look at funny festive pictures of people dressed in hideous jumpers, festive food and drink and videos of people singing and having a great time.

Here are some tips on how you can manage your social media during the festive break without uploading a thing, Leaving you to enjoy spending some much deserved time with family and friends drinking your mulled wine, eating mince pies, and watching Christmas movies.

Social Media weekly content planner in Excel

 Step 1: Write a social media plan in an Excel spreadsheet

I develop my social media plans in Excel. I have two blogs’s, so it’s important that I promote my content regularly on social media platforms. I’m using Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +. Most of my websites traffic also comes from social media. I have previously used Hootsuite. However, this comes at a cost, and I never really got to grips with this.

I am taking a social media course with Future Learn, and another member of the class suggested that I use TweetDeck because it’s free.

 

Twitter interface featuring Home,Notifications,messages and Activity

 

Step 2: Login into or open a TweetDeck account https://tweetdeck.twitter.com

Download and install on your computer, tablet or mobile device.

What is Tweetdeck and why should I register with them?

TweetDeck is a social media dashboard that you can connect multiple accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google Buzz.

You can also schedule your tweets to go out at days and times of your choice, and one of the best things about this platform is that it’s free to use. You don’t even have to go near a phone or computer screen so you can spend more time with family and friends during the festive holidays.

Step 3:  Connect your social media accounts

Once you have logged in, you will notice four default columns come up, the timeline, notifications, messages, and activity.

The Timeline on TweetDeck is the regular screen you see when you are following people on Twitter.

Notifications tell you who has liked your tweets and who has followed you.

Messages – This section shows who has sent you private messages that can’t be viewed by people who follow you.

Activity shows a stream of actions performed by users you follow, for example, if they follow someone, favorite a tweet or add someone to a list.

If you go to the search box in the top left-hand corner, you can also look for other Twitter accounts, or you can add people and groups to a list where it says “Lists” below the profile button.

How do I schedule my social media in TweetDeck?

How to schedule your tweets

To compose a tweet – click on “New Tweet” button at the top left-hand corner. Write your Tweet inside the tweet box.

Go to the image below and upload your image.

Click down on scheduled Tweet, and you will see the current date and time

Change the date and time to when you would like the Tweet to go out. For example, if you would like to send a Tweet out on Christmas day at 8 am, you can type on 25/12 December at 08.00am and then you can confirm and click send Tweet on 25th December.

Now you can leave the office, grab a glass or two of vino and go off on your festive break while waiting for TweetDeck to do all the hard work for you.

Are you struggling with your social media content?

If you are a business or an individual who is too busy to schedule your social media accounts, Why not employ a social media guru? Digital Classic can offer content and social media scheduling at unbeatable prices. Send an email to  admin@digitalclassic.co.uk for a price.

7 tech bargains to look out for in the UK on Black Friday

Black Friday sign

Until a few years ago, Black Friday and Cyber Mondays didn’t even exist here in the UK; now we Brits have an opportunity to grab those early Christmas tech bargains the day after Thanksgiving.

Many people have already started browsing online with retailers like Amazon, Curry & PC World, and Argos offering huge savings on tech items such as laptops, tablets and games consoles.

With many retailers offering discounts on tech items are they a real bargain or are shoppers putting up the prices and bringing them down to look like a bargain in the sales?

Here are 7 tech bargains to look out for in the UK on Black Friday:

LaptopsHP Laptop

Do you need a new laptop? Now is an ideal time to purchase a laptop in time for the new year. The HP 15.6 inch silver laptop has a 33% saving if you buy this from Currys. You can get this lightweight model for £349, and it’s also small enough to fit into your rucksack. It also comes with a HD LED screen, making it great for streaming TV on demand, while its Intel Core i5 processor.This laptop would make an ideal Christmas present for a student or young professional.

 

 

 

 

 Apple Macs, iPhones, and watches

Apple watch receiving a call

There’s good news for Apple fans this Friday because the tech giants have announced that they are doing Black Friday this year after the company stopped giving Black Friday.

Apple has teased one-day discounts for the UK, Germany, France and Canada, so it’s not just the US who will benefit.

The company has posted a holiday gift guide, featuring a one-day shopping event happening this Friday. But so far, the company has remained tight-lipped on what the deals will be.

Whatever Apple decide to do they will want to boost their profits after reporting three straight quarters of iPhone sales that were lower year over year.

You can pick up the earliest Apple watches from Argos from £199 reduced from £249

If you are looking for a new iPhone, the best deals out there are on contract. Head into CarPhone Warehouse because they have a deal (save £200 on an iPhone 6 (32GB). The deal includes £59.99 for the phone with 500MB of data and a £28 per month contract on Vodafone. The iPhone 6s has a 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint security and is available in grey, silver, gold and rose gold.

If you can’t find a deal from Apple, other high street retailers like Argos, John Lewis and Amazon has cut prices on their iPads.

Play Stations

PS4 box

There’re plenty of fantastic deals out there for PlayStation PS4 fans. You can purchase the Sony PS4 Slim with Battlefield 1 or Titanfall 2 or FIFA 17 for £227.95 at Tesco Direct  or John Lewis or the 4K PS4 Pro with a copy of Dishonored 2 for just £349.99 at Argos.

 

Drones

Drones are becoming a lot more popular thanks to YouTubers who have been using them to film their Vlogs. Casey Neistat first introduced me to drones when he was testing them and ever since that moment I not only wanted to Vlog but also to Vlog using a drone.

If you want to treat yourself or a loved one for Christmas, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds Maplin has a 50% deal on a Cyclone Nano Quadcopter with a camera at just £24.99.

If you are looking for something under £100 but a little bit more upmarket, the Parrot Jumping Night Minidrone is now £99.99 reduced from £129.99 that’s a saving of 23%.

Maplin has a more expensive option for those who already have a drone and would like an upgrade. The RC EYE NovaX 350 ARF Quadcopter Drone is now £299.99 reduced from £399.99 that’s a saving of 25%.

 

Mobile phones

The LG G4 mobile phone

If you are looking for a smartphone, Carphone Warehouse has a great deal on the latest Samsung S7. You can save a whopping £200 on this phone, and it includes a £24 per month contract on Vodafone and 500MB data. The Samsung 7 is known for its great camera in low light and good battery life.

If you are looking for a sim free, pay as you go option check out the LG G4 smartphone from Argos is  £50 cheaper than anywhere else, it’s down to £249.95.

Do you need a new phone but are short of money? Argos has reduced the Sony’s Android by £100 so you can purchase this smartphone for  £99.95.

 

 

Xbox

xbox-one-s

For the gamers out there, you have a choice of Xbox deals and for those of you who already own an Xbox you can upgrade this to a slimmed down version called the Xbox One S.

This game console is 40% smaller than the original Xbox, and it has an integrated power supply and comes with a new textured controller with an improved range. You can also use the playback for 4k Ultra HD video.

At this moment the cheapest  Xbox is from Tesco, who is offering the Xbox One S 500GB and the Minecraft Console for £237.49, reduced from £249, giving you a (saving of £11.51).

Headphones

Boss Soundtrue II Headphones

Curry’s are offering a huge discount on Boss Soundtrue  II  Headphones. These are currently priced at £139.95 and are now just £79. That’s a whole saving of £60.89.

These headphones allow you to experience a stunning audio spectrum presented in a comfortable, stylish package. The Boss Soundtrue headphones are ideal for listening to your favourite tunes on your iPod or iPhoneor watching a movie on the bus or train on your iPad.

Britain was previously known for its January sales, however, more British retailers like Next, Superdry and FatFace are now reducing their seasonal stock online on Christmas day in time for the Boxing day sales at 5am.

Soon we could be celebrating Thanksgiving like our US counterparts. Christmas and New Year sales could become a thing of the past, especially with many retailers opening throughout Christmas and the New Year.

Will you be looking for a tech bargain this year? Let us know what you are planning to buy ? in the comments below or tweet @digitalclassic.

5 Musicians and how they inspire themselves creatively

Someone writing music

 Writing music is a complicated process, which is why this blog post looks at five musicians and how they inspire themselves creatively when they are working on their music and song lyrics.

Leonard Cohen

Over the last 12 months, we have lost lots of talented musicians like Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and now Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen who was known for his dark poetic,  songwriting. Last week the 82-year old passed away despite working right up until recently and releasing his latest album last month.

Cohen talks about how he inspires himself creatively when songwriting in a 2014 interview with the Brain Pickings website.

When asked about where his songwriting ideas came from, he addressed the questions by quoting “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery.

Cohen also admits that it takes him a long time to write songs and that songwriting doesn’t come easily to him as he touched on how he fights boredom by putting in a lot of hard work and perseverance.

He added: “My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise, I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.”

Kurt Cobain

The legendary Nirvana singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain is well known for his dark lyrics and melodic rifts even though it’s been 22 years since his death. His former band member, bass player Krist Novoselic, spoke to Rolling Stone Magazine about Kurt’s songwriting process during the reissue of “In Utero” 20 years after it was released back in 2013.

Here’s what Krist had to say about his former friend and bandmate: “There were songs that Kurt would woodshed. He would come in with it, and we would work it out, build it up. Some songs were made up on the spot, coming out of jams, which took a few rehearsals to come together. But, they would find form. That was another thing with Kurt – he could have a riff, but then he was so good at vocal phrasing. He would usually write the lyrics at the last minute. But Kurt was so good at vocal phrasing [in rehearsals]. And, voilà – you have a song.”

Johnny Cash

The singer-songwriter and actor who was known as “The man in black,” sold over 90 million records worldwide throughout his career. Many of Cash’s music contained lyrics that expressed sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption.

The musician was taught to play the guitar by his mother, and he began playing and writing songs at the age of twelve. When Cash was young, he had a high tenor voice, before becoming a bass-baritone.

 In high school, he sang on a local radio station; and years later, he released an album of traditional gospel songs, called My Mother’s Hymn Book. Cash was influenced by traditional Irish music that he every week by Dennis Day on the Jack Benny radio program.

When Cash was younger, his family farm would often get flooded, which later inspired him to write the song “Five Feet High and Rising.”.

Bob Dylan

The American folk singer-songwriter was discovered by the late Johnny Cash who helped him get signed to Columbia Records.

When Dylan is composing, he says, he’ll take a song he knows and play it in his head. “That’s the way I meditate. A lot of people will look at a crack on the wall and meditate, or count sheep or angels or money or something, and it’s a proven fact that it’ll help them relax,” Dylan says. “I don’t meditate on any of that stuff. I meditate on a song … At a certain point, some of the words will change, and I’ll start writing a song.”

In a 1991 SongTalk interview with Paul Zollo, Dylan spoke more about his songwriting in detail. “Feelings really aren’t my thing,” Dylan says.

Songwriting is about craftsmanship, perspective, lyrical meter, simple melodies, having something to say, and a “pure-hearted motivation” for writing.

A songwriter should be able to sort and identify different types of thoughts, Dylan says, and be able to define them as good or evil. He also is open to ideas offered by his subconscious and unconscious mind and is concerned about over analyzing, which can stifle creativity. “Your primary impulse is going to take you so far,” Dylan says. “But then you might think … is this one of these things where it’s all just going to come? And then all of a sudden you start thinking… and my mind starts to get into it; that’s trouble right away.”

Just take the whole thing and change key, keeping the same melody. And see if that brings you any place. More times than not that will take you down the road.”

When inspiration and execution collide, Dylan suggests changing key. “Just take the whole thing and change key, keeping the same melody. And see if that brings you any place. More times than not that will take you down the road,” Dylan says.

John Lennon

In 1968, just before the Beatles split, musician,  John Lennon, opened up about his songwriting process and how he inspires himself creatively in an interview with Rolling Stone.

John said: “He used to write a book or stories on one hand and write songs on the other. He will be writing completely free form in a book or just on a bit of paper, but when he started to write a song he’s thinking dee duh dee duh do doo do de do de doo.”

Lennon said that he was musically influenced by  Bob Dylan and Little Richard.

Lennon also reveals information about his trip to India with the rest of the Beatles. Most of this session he had written his music on guitar and not the piano because the band only took their guitars out. John said “I missed the piano a bit because you just write differently. My piano playing is even worse than me guitar. I hardly know what the chords are, so it’s good to have a slightly limited palette, heh heh.”

Are you a musician? Would you like to share how you inspire yourself creatively to write music? Comment below or send me a tweet @digitalclassic.

 

Affordable ways to clean your vinyl records

Cleanng s vinyl record with tea towel

If you are a vinyl fan who has dug out, those dusty LP’S these affordable ways to you clean your vinyl records will light up your day.

There’s no need to throw them away or go out and replace them because you can now purchase affordable vinyl record machine cleaners and washers.

Here are some affordable ways under £100, so you can clean up your vinyl records in a spin and start playing them again:

 

Using tap water and soap is the cheapest way to clean your vinyl records

 

Yes, that’s right you can clean your vinyl records by using just soap and water. This might sound a little crazy, but it works. Over time, residue and lime can get into the record grooves, and this isn’t good for the record or the sound.

Make sure the record is completely dry before putting it into the player or handle the record grooves otherwise you may damage the vinyl permanently.

disco-antistat packaging

Knosti Disco Antistat Record Cleaning Unit

£47.50 from Juno Records

What is it?

The Knosti Disco Antistat cleaning unit comes with a soft goat’s hair brush, one litre of cleaning fluid and a molded plastic trough which you put your records through.

How to use the vinyl record cleaning kit

Start by filling up your sink with warm water from the kettle and add some cleaning fluid to the knosti.

Layout your vinyls onto a clear table and make sure that you have a clean tea towel nearby. Tighten the central boss, insert the record and spin the record five times each way.

Remove the vinyl and carry on with the others.  Make sure you drain the record, so it’s completely dry before you play it and remember that this vinyl cleaner will only work for dusty and dirty record grooves, not scratched records. However, product reviewers have reported that the sound of that crackly vinyls has improved after using this machine.

What do others say?

Amazon reviewers who have purchased the machine have said that records that were previously unplayable due to the amount of dust and grime in between the record grooves are now as good as new thanks to the vinyl record cleaner Knosti Disco Antistat.

Spin Clean Vinyl Record Washer MKII Record Cleaning System

£74.95 from Amazon.co.uk

The best thing about this record cleaner is that it removes dust, fingerprints, and static from your vinyl records.  There are cheaper ways to clean up your vinyl records, however, sometimes you only get what you pay for. Having looked at many options on how to clean up your vinyl records for this blog post, I would purchase this, because it has excellent reviews, it doesn’t cost a fortune, and it’s  quick and easy to use.

Spin Clean Vinyl Record Washer MKII Record Cleaning System

How does the Spin Clean Vinyl Record Washer MKII Record Cleaning System work?

The Spin Clean Vinyl Record Washer consists of a 4oz bottle of cleaning fluid, lint-free drying cloths, a pair of brushes, a pair of rollers and an instruction manual so there are no excuses for not being able to use this.

The brushes scrub both sides of the record simultaneously, and the rollers in the tank will keep your Vinyls safe from damage, and the fluid pulls dirt off the record So there’s no reason why your vinyl shouldn’t scrub up well.

What do others say?

This Vinyl record cleaner is also a GROUP TEST WINNER (Hi-Fi Choice Magazine September 2011).  Hi-Fi News is the oldest hi-fi magazine in the world. The magazine features 140 pages of the latest music reviews, in-depth features, and vintage celebrations.

You can be listening to your record’s within minutes of using this, all you need to do is fill the sink with cleaning fluid,  spin the record a few times and dry them with the Lint free cloths provided. All that remains is to put your favourite vinyl record into your player and watch that needle drop.

If you have old vinyl records that need a cleanup, treat yourself or loved one to one of the cleaning machines I have mentioned above or try out the soap and water method.

Contact us with your suggestions or with other ways in which can clean up your vinyl records comment below and subscribe to my blog. You can also start up a discussion on a digital or musical topic of your choice on Twitter@DigitalClassic. Alternatively feel free to email admin@digitalclassic.co.uk

5 Things that caused the death of Vine

Death of Vine written on a gravestone

 

Social networking channel Twitter has announced the death of Vine.

The online video platform was supposed to be fighting for top spot with Instagram? But instead, four years later, Twitter announced that their video sharing app Vine is shutting down.

Vine founder, Rus Yusupov reacted to the news, appearing to express regret at having sold the business to Twitter quoting “Don’t sell you company!”

rus

What is Vine?

Vine is short form video service where users can share six-second video clips.Twitter brought the social networking platform in October 2012, just before its official launch. Users’ videos are published through Vine’s social network and are shared on other services such as Facebook and Twitter.

When is Vine shutting down?

Twitter announced on Wednesday that it would be discontinuing its Vine app. However, the good news is that users can still view and download the app, but they will no longer be able to post.

What caused the death of Vine?

Here are five reasons why the video sharing app is shutting down:

1:  A decline in users

The numbers of Vine users have decreased since it was first introduced back in June 2012, with lots of its users abandoning the service and shifting their focus to other services like Facebook video, Instagram, and Snapchat. While Twitter has integrated, video sharing directly into its main mobile apps and experience it’s putting resources into live video with Periscope.

2: Lack of money?

The same day as Twitter announced the death of Vine it also revealed that the business was axing 350 employees, 9% of its workforce and is redirecting its focus from driving growth to delivering profits.

The popular social networking channel currently has a sinking share price and serious concerns about its long-term viability as a public company. The 4-year-old interactive app never stood a chance due to its declining in users. Shutting it down was the quickest way to remove the problem.

3: Twitter already had decided to develop Periscope

Has Twitter scraped its six second app to improve Periscope? It certainly looks that way.

What exactly is Periscope?

Periscope is a video streaming platform which is embedded in tweets. Periscope is owned by Twitter which means that it’s automatically linked to your account when you log in. Embedding Periscope works the same way as embedding a Tweet. Just copy and paste the URL  to a CMS or add a tweet to a page.

Twitter’s new video streaming app was launched last year as a news reporting app. One of the best things about Periscope is that it’s interactive, which means you can get people liking your video and asking you questions while you are live.


Periscope shows three way features launchiing

4: There are too many online video platforms?

US website eBizMBA conducted an online survey from search engines, Complete, Quantcast, and Vine came 10th out of 15 with estimated monthly visitors of 42,000,000, behind leaders YouTube who has an estimated 1,000,000,000 monthly visitors, Netflix, 150,000,000 monthly visitors, and Vimeo has 130,000,000 estimated monthly visits.

5: Maybe there isn’t a place in the market for Vine

With Snapchat working its way up on the popularity stakes this year, maybe Vine just didn’t serve a purpose anymore. Nothing lasts forever, and people have moved on from 6-second videos to longer videos about people’s lifestyles, people playing jokes and pranks on each other, how to videos to teaching people how to play guitar to how to paint walls.

The world has moved on since the six-second platform was first released and sadly, Twitter wasn’t unable to come up with any updates in the last four years.

Do you agree with the reasons that caused the death of Vine? If you disagree or would like to add other explanations, let me know? Have you ever used Vine yes or no? Why? Feel free to comment below or email admin@digitalclassic.co.uk. Join in the discussion on Twitter @digitalclassic

My first trip to Project Music in Exeter (Review)

Project music logo with guitar brands

I’m currently living in Cornwall, so I’ve been waiting for a while to visit Project Music in Exeter as my brother-in-law is always raving on about them being good and stocking lots of beautiful guitars.

My favourite guitars are Fenders and Gibsons, and I visited the store in the hope of purchasing the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff pedal.

There aren’t many music stores in Cornwall with the main ones being Truro City Music and Modern Music, also in Truro, half an hours drive from where I’m living. These stores are fairly small, so I was hoping to go to a bigger store with a larger range of equipment.

The first impression on walking into the shop was that they sold a lot of well-known electric guitars like Fenders, Epiphones and Gretch guitars alongside some colourful, expensive PRS electric guitars which I have never seen or heard much about before this trip.

They had a good range of decent acoustic guitars as well. However, I never had the chance to try any out, maybe next time I will film the whole experience and Vlog about it.

When looking through the two glass cabinets for pedals, the choice wasn’t fantastic as they didn’t have any pedals on my wish list that I saw on their website. I was after the Electro Harmonix Big Muff PI Classic because I wanted to compare it to the reissue Little Muff Pi. However, I was disappointed to hear that they were not only out of both pedals they were also out of the other Electro Harmonix Chorus pedals that I wanted to try out and possibly purchase, the  Neo Clone, Small Clone, and Polychorus.

I asked the gentleman at the desk if he had any of those pedals in the back or if he had any alternative ideas for the Nirvana-style grunge sound I want to achieve. He pulled out the Pro Co Rat 2 distortion pedal that was used in Nirvana’s In Utero album and is used by other musical influences of mine like Graham Coxon from Blur.

TC Electronic pedals

The gentleman gave me a small green TC Electronic Corona Mini Chorus. I had never seen one of these before, but once I tried it for sound, playing a Black Fender Standard Stratocaster HSH, Rosewood Fingerboard, through a BlackStar amplifier. We spend a good 10 minutes of so playing around with the settings on the pedal before dialing in on the exact sound that Kurt Cobain achieved in the song “Come as you are.”

I then asked to try out the Kurt Cobain Fender Jaguar, which has the exact sound I want, however with a price tag of £1,299 I’m not yet in a financial position to buy this beauty.  I’ve always wanted a red and white Gibson Les Paul guitar, so I’m hoping to buy one of these next, and after that, it’s a toss up between a Fender Jagstang or a Jaguar. I may even buy a Squire Mustang guitar and convert it so that it has Dimarzio distortion pickups and silver guitar push-pull pots. The reason for this is because Squire guitars are made by Fender and are a lot cheaper.

 

 RAT guitar pedal

 

Decision time

When it came to making that all important decision I decided to purchase the Pro Rat 2 because it has a punchy distortion kick, with a Planet Waves guitar lead, some Fender pedal cables, and a 9V power lead. I would have purchased the TC Chorus if I could afford it, as its a great small pedal and you can download sounds from the computer. Although I liked the TC Chorus pedal, I thought it was a little bit expensive, so I have decided to stick with the Electro Harmonix Small Clone at the moment because it’s cheaper and its a reissue of the original pedal that Kurt Cobain used on Nirvana’s album “Nevermind.”

Would I shop in Exeter’s project music again?

The staff were friendly, and the prices were ok, however, some of the items are slightly cheaper online. One of the advantages of going into a shop to buy music equipment is that you can try things out before purchasing. I would like to see them stock more of a guitar range like Gibson guitars and a wider range of pedals.  I was disappointed with the lack of guitar pedals in store.

Why not share your good and bad experiences of music shops near you? Maybe you can recommend a guitar or pedal I can try out on the blog? If you would like me to visit and review your products or store, Email admin@digitalclassic.co.uk or tweet @DigitalClassic with your suggestions. If you would

The Blackstar LT-Dual distortion guitar pedal review

Green Blackstar Distortion guitar pedal

 This week on the blog, Exeter-based musician Phil Oberheinrich reviews the Blackstar LT-Dual distortion guitar pedal released at the end of 2015.

 

  • Solid-state overdrive/distortion pedal
  • Two channels
  • Gain x2
  • Level x2
  • Tone
  • ISF (“Infinite Shape Feature”)

 

 

Following the success of their valve-powered HT range of distortion, overdrive and boost pedals, Blackstar last year released a series of solid-state pedals designed to offer the same tonal flexibility and quality for the more frugal guitarist. According to Blackstar, the LT-Dual, which features the same controls as its big brother, the HT-Dual, “will transform a single channel amp into a three channel tone machine.” This is quite a bold claim, that should fill most guitarists with a mix of excitement and scepticism, considering a quick Google search reveals that one of these pedals can be had for only £75, almost £100 less than the tube-powered HT-Dual.

 

The LT-Dual is a solid, reassuringly heavy item that was clearly designed for on-stage use. The tough metal casing is on this model finished in a very familiar looking shade of green that promises the sort of tonal goodness that few solid-state overdrives can deliver. The pedal features two foot-switches, which allow the user to switch between two overdrive channels and bypass. Each of the pedal’s two channels has its own gain and level, control and there is a shared tone control and another shared control labelled “ISF”. This “Infinite Shape Feature” is designed to manipulate the distortion characteristics to blend seamlessly from a USA to a UK tone and effectively provide the user with a Mesa and a Marshall in a green 4”x 5”x 2” box. The size and spacing of the controls and their smooth travel are perfect for those who like to perform bare-footed and adjust settings with their toes.

 

Plugging an Agile Interceptor Pro 727, a mahogany-bodied 7-string guitar with active EMG707 pickups into a Diezel Einstein 100W head running into a 1×12 with a Celestion V30, what is immediately noticeable is a drop in volume when the LT-Dual is activated with the level at 12 o’clock. It seems odd to have to turn the level up to 3 o’clock to match the level of the clean sound, but there is plenty of volume there and at maximum volume, the overdrive is too loud for most purposes. It should be noted that the EMG707 is a high output pickup and therefore produces a much louder clean sound than you would get from a PAF-style humbucker or most single-coils, but high-output pickups are becoming more common and one would think that Blackstar would take this into account when designing a modern distortion pedal.

 

Anyhow, what is far more important than this small niggle is the sound – and it certainly has plenty of that. Channel 1 is the “low-gain” channel in the sense that it can produce anything from a clean boost to a huge, heavy rock tone and channel 2 isn’t quite as suitable for cleaning and has more gain. Those attracted by the green colour and expecting a classic Tubescreamer-esque blend of clean and overdrive might be a tad disappointed, because this pedal essentially does what Ibanez were trying to achieve when they made the Tubescreamer; it produces a convincing valve-like overdrive that flatters the player while preserving the tone of the guitar and the amplifier. It does work very well as a clean boost, but unlike a Tubescreamer it excels at producing its own overdrive tone independently from the guitar amp. At volumes the average neighbour will tolerate, it is difficult to distinguish between the LT-Dual’s channel 1 and the Diezel Einstein’s Mode 2 overdrive setting. Only at higher volumes does it become noticeable that the pedal isn’t quite as dynamic as a 100W valve amp worth £1,500.

The LT-Dual’s Channel 2 offers more gain and a bit more low end, but complements channel 1 perfectly as either a 2nd rhythm, sound or lead channel, allowing the user to produce tones that fill the room while still letting every pinch harmonic squeal like a stuck pig. This is an achievement that is not to be sniffed at; there are plenty of overdrives and distortions that can do one or the other, but the combination of tonal transparency, dynamics, depth, smoothness and beef the LT-Dual delivers make this a truly addictive piece of equipment. The ISF control does precisely what Blackstar claim and allows the user to tailor their very own blend of UK and USA tones with arguably German tones in between. Whereas some distortion pedals have a tone control that allows you to find a sweet spot between two opposing types of awful, the LT-Dual’s tone control can brighten up the sound of a cheap humbucker or tame a low-output single coil but doesn’t range from muddy to ear-splitting like that orange thing you probably have lying about somewhere.

Overall, the BlackStar LT Dual Pedal, despite the peculiarity of the illogically calibrated level controls, is probably the best thing you can buy for £75. Even if you are one of the many unfortunate people in this country working for minimum wage, you can get this pedal by asking your boss for ten hours of overtime, which will lead to many years of guitar playing pleasure. The improvement it makes to a cheap amplifiers’ tone and the flexibility it adds to single-channel amps means that this is not a pedal you’ll be replacing in a hurry.

 

Sound                            *****

Construction             *****

Usability                      ****

Value for money      *****

 

Overall rating: 4.9/5

 

Pros: Unbelievable value for money for a pedal that delivers authentic valve-like overdrive. Rock solid metal construction.

 

Cons: Level controls calibrated rather low for modern high-output pickups.