Monday, April 10, 2017

I Can’t Hear You!

lead_960Sometime in the 1980’s at the Los Angeles Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention a group of university audiologists offered to administer free hearing tests to any of the few thousand audio “professionals” attending the convention. “Free” is a pretty enticing price to most of the economic class of people who make a living in professional audio and the audiologists got a decent sample from a variety of what passes for disciplines in the audio profession: recording technicians, producers, live sound technicians, electrical design engineers, company management, etc. What they found shouldn’t have been surprising, but it apparently was either surprising or aggravating. In that year’s AES Journal and in an audiologists’ academic journal, the group reported that the majority of the audio professionals from recording to live sound were either “functionally deaf” or close enough to deaf for rock and roll. You might imagine that information would have been both enlightening and startling, but you’d be overestimating the intelligence of human beings. The immediate effect of learning that sound professionals are hard-of-hearing was that the members voted to ban hearing testing from all future conventions. I guess “hear no evil” extends to all bad news?

It shouldn’t be surprising that the people who work in the least health-regulated, highest volume occupations in the world are hearing damaged. It would be amazing if they weren’t. The surprise is that their reaction to this information was to ignore it. I suppose, like most areas of human activity, economics is the motivator. If our hearing-damaged customers learned that the people they pay to deliver a reasonably high quality audio product couldn’t hear the difference between a Neuman U87 and a busted Shure SM58 or a high quality studio monitor and a well-used Yamaha NS-10, they might be inspired to pay even less for our already barely-valued “talents.” It doesn’t help that the most-deaf musicians of the last ten or twenty generations of humans, 1960’s and 70’s rock icons, like Neil Young, Peter Townshend, Eric Clapton, Jack White, etc. are all not only poster-children for a variety of hearing-impaired charities but loud and insistent advocates for every golden ear’d bullshit from analog recording to high-def digital standards. Most likely, if these guys can convince you to spend more money on “high quality” versions of their work, you also believe Goldman Sachs deserved bailing out in 2008. From the performers to the audio technicians to our audience, hearing damage is key to practically everything we do.

Access-Audiology-Sept2013-Figure-2The local performance theater is a great example. Red Wing, MN is a fairly typical small town (with a much larger town’s city budget thanks to a nearby nuclear power plant and its property taxes) with an aging population. The theater has “assistive listening devices available at no charge,” but like most such places you have to know this stuff is there to ask for it and, like most old and deaf people, the ones who need it the most are the ones who consistently shout “I can’t hear you!” at the dinner table. So, driven by the complaints of the deaf and dumber the production manager has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on sound reinforcement equipment for an 800 person capacity facility. No, that doesn’t make the place sound better; it’s just a whole lot louder. That means the few people in the audience who are capable of hearing full-range music are being sacrificed for the deaf audience, hearing-impaired musicians, and the quickly-going-deaf FOH tech. This is a whole new definition of “disabled access,” where the disabled are empowered to equally disable everyone else.

It’s possible that, someday, human evolution will catch up to birds and most vertebrates (like lizards, fish, and frogs) and we’ll develop a repair mechanism for hearing damage. It’s about as likely that we’ll find a cure for the Dunning-Kruger effect and humans will suddenly stop our mindless drive toward the Sixth Extinction . . . but we can always dream. Until then, the obvious and well-known cause for hearing damage—environmental noise exposure—will continue to make us deafer and dumber and that will drive live music louder and force sound quality lower. Pretty soon, audiologists will be banned from every mall and medical facility so they can’t remind us of what we’ve lost.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

More Me!

One of the great curses of being on the providing end of everything in audio from live sound to recording engineering is the “I need more of me syndrome.” Even in the recording studio, the concept of serving the music is a vanishing idea. Everyone who has a place at the table, regardless of how insignificant, feels the need to be treated like a star.

For example, out of the insanity of the moment I recent volunteered (for the third mindless time) to be “production manager” for a local college’s annual variety show. This isn’t even a music school, but a technical college that has one of the country’s rare and precious musical instrument and repair programs. While many of the students are extremely talented musicians and a few are even composers, arrangers, and one-time music program students, very few are planning any sort of career as performers. The show is a wild mix of everything from classical woodwind and horn groups to singer-songerwritters to large horn bands with a full rhythm section. There is about 3-5 minutes of setup time allowed between acts and often that will involve tearing down a set with a dozen chairs and music stands, moving a few large instruments (piano, drum kit), and setting up microphones. To put it mildly, there isn’t any time for either precision or fine tuning, either during the sound check/rehersal or the show. The performers have a couple of months to get their act together, but the crew sees everything for the first time the afternoon of the show.

To simplify a lot of the setup, the microphone system for the show is a pair of Earthworks cardioid condensers in X/Y configuration centered downstage and many of the acts are just positioned quickly around that microphone pair. Instruments like the piano, drum kit(s), guitar, electric bass, etc often are handled with a single well-placed (hopefully) microphone. There are no stage monitors for anyone. The house speaker system has about 170o of dispersion and the house speakers are angled toward the center of the facility (don’t ask) which provides about 100% coverage to around 10kHz to the front 15’ of the stage.

Did I mention that I do this gig for free?

The sound check is performed in reverse order so we can leave the first act’s setup on the stage at the end. This year’s show, and most years are the same, the final act (first up for the sound check) was a decent sized band: three trumpets, four saxes, four trombones, three saxes, piano, drums, bass, and guitar. They made a run through their song and one of the sax players said, “I need a monitor and a mic. Traditionally, everyone on stage would have his own mic and monitor.” My response was, “’Traditionally,’ I shouldn’t have to mic or reinforce a band this big.” There were some laughs from the adults in the room, some whining from the kiddies, and we moved on. I’m always tempted to turn moments like this into teaching opportunities, but I’m trying to learn that I am not the jackass whisperer.

Did I mention that I do this gig for free?

BroadwayBigBandStyle Band BestQualityThe show went fine, I survived it. Afterwards, when I was whining to my wife about having to put up with punk kids who think they are junior college rock stars, she said, “He’s probably confusing those music stands they used to put in front of the musicians for monitors.” I really wanted to tell her she was wrong, but I half-suspect she isn’t. Holy crap! Some dumb kid thinks every guy in Tommy Dorsey’s band had a mic and a monitor? Never underestimate the stupidity of your fellow Americans; it will cost you money.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

You Think You Know What It Sounds Like?

One of the many painful things about being “experienced” (read, “old”) and having a technical background is that not that much surprises me any more. That is not a good thing, it’s not something I can brag about, it’s not something I’m happy about, it’s just a fact. Being surprised, having my stereotypes burst, learning something new and interesting is one of the joys of living. One of the things I loved about teaching music technology to “kids” who were three decades younger than me was being forced to re-evaluate my own biases and experience in a different context. Being retired deprives me of that opportunity and being more than a little disengaged from the necessity of making a living has scraped away some of the desire and requirement to compromise my own standards in the interest of “getting the job done.” When the job isn’t worth doing well, I’d just as soon avoid it altogether. 

So, when I had the opportunity to experience the value of a high quality microphone on vocals I wrote about it on a Facebook group called Move the Mics!, “I was part of an educational experiment this weekend. I ran sound for a regional bluegrass band, The High 48's, who use an AT4050 as their primary vocal mic and a collection of small and large condensers for solo instrument mics. They also have the usual SM58 at one end of the stage for introductions and a few backup vocals. When the banjo player sang or talked into the 58, he was unremarkable. When he sang or spoke into the AT4050, he was a dead ringer for Geoff Muldaur. I should note that I have always disliked the sound of 90% of most vocals through SM58's, but this was just a killer demo of why 58's should only be used to drive nails and for crappy punk vocals.”

I’m exaggerating, of course, and expecting sound geeks to get either humor or comprehend an experiment in quality evaluation is always a mistake. But I was surprised at the “loyalty” and emotion the defenders of the overused, rarely understood, and very successful Shure SM57/58. For example, “There are plenty of other mics I like better, but in a live environment, a 58 on vocals is rarely the weakest link in the chain. It's got good rejection, low handling noise, does well in wind, and is pretty hard to kill. With a little EQ, it works for almost anyone. Better mics are generally less neutral and can be quite picky about which vocalists they sound good on. If I was doing a tour for a band, I'd make sure I had everyone matched up with a great mic, but for doing random shows where you're lucky to get a sound check, a 58 is a safe bet that a good engineer can use to make just about anyone sound decent (well, a decent version of themselves). I wouldn't normally use it for vocals in a studio, but numerous great studio vocal tracks have been made with a 58 over the years, either as scratch vocals that got kept or when a vocalist insisted on holding a mic.


“If the banjo player sounded like a different person through the 58, I would have been scowling at the FOH engineer, not the mic.”


The idea that an SM58 could be EQ’d to sound like a high quality condenser microphone should be ludicrous to anyone experienced with either type of microphone. The delusion that “a 58 on vocals is rarely the weakest link in the chain” demonstrates a severe misunderstanding of the “garbage in, garbage out” concept. A quick look at the basic characteristics of the Shure SM58 should point out more than a few flaws in that claim. Add transient repsonse, noise rejection, phase accuracy, and harmonic and intermodulation distortion to the comparison and the idea that you can “fix” the differences with EQ becomes depressingly familiar.

A comparison to the characteristics of the Audio Technica AT4050 should be enlightening to an experienced, educated audio technician. In it’s worst, least accurate configuration the AT4050 delivers dramatically better frequency response, polar response, and a massively improved proximity characteristic when used at a foot or greater distance. In a group setting, this alone should be eye-opening. One of the defenders of the SM58 went on to say he’d used an SM58 in a chorus performance and it had performed “superbly.” When I expressed both doubt in his hearing and technical competence and gratitude that I hadn’t been forced (ever in my life) to make that kind of sacrifice, his response was to whine that I was jumping to conclusions without having had the pleasure of hearing the mess he’d made out of the performance. I will confess to that “crime.” I’ve heard thousands of miserable amplified live music performances and do not need any more of that kind of experience.
http://studiospares.s3.amazonaws.com/prd/401820/at4050dia.jpg
Maslow's golden hammer rule explains, "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." When the only microphone you know well enough to “trust” is an SM57/58 (and they are not the same hammer), every sound source has the characteristics as a nail. When your only expectation from a microphone is excessive gain-before-feedback and indestructibility, concepts like distortion, transient response, intelligibility, and accuracy are insignificant details. This is one of many reasons why live music is too often a painful and depressing experience to the few remaining people in this country who love music, know what musical instruments sound like, and would like to continue their lives with their hearing undamaged. I wish there was a fix for stupid, but unlike ignorance stupid can not be fixed.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why Bands Don’t Last

Honestly, this is why most collections of human beings don’t stay together long; including marriages. I used to call this the “David Lee Roth Crowd IQ Estimator,” but I can’t find any evidence that he ever said this, so maybe it’s mine?

"Find the smartest guy in the crowd, divide his IQ by the number of people in the crowd, and . . . there you are."

That’s all there is to it. Humans are not a pack animal, but a herd animal; like buffalo or sheep. Only rarely does the product of a group exceed the sum of its parts. Usually, three of us are dumber than two and, most likely, only one of us in any given group is smart enough to accomplish anything useful. As a nation, we just scouted out the dumbest rich guy in human history and made him our timid, narcissistic, anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-reality President. If you need more evidence than that, you are the problem.

So, when your “greatest ever” rock band folds after a half-dozen practices and one or two dismal “gigs” (It’s not really a gig if you didn’t get paid for it.), don’t beat yourself up. You are just evidence of the rule, not the rare exception.

Monday, February 27, 2017

This Is Revenge?

On the way out of my local library last week, I spotted The Revenge of Analog by David Sax on the “new books” shelves. The sub-title is “Real Things and Why They Matter,” which is oddly confusing. I guess I had no idea that real things had ceased to matter or that analog was particularly “real.” Design Magazine did a brief review of this book a while back and I was entertained by the gushing over vinyl records, as I usually am. Revenge spends the first chapter raving about how and why vinyl records have made a big comeback. I think Sax has the how down pat, but is a little fuzzy on the why.

Jack White, the big proponent of vinyl who has yet to make a record that doesn’t sound like shit, has a quote in Revenge that seems to sum up his philosophy, “With vinyl, you’re down on your knees. You’re at the mercy of the needle. You watch the record spoin and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire. It’s hypnotic.” I have not problem imagining X-geners and Millenials wanting to be down “on their knees” to mediocre technology, but “romance” and messing with cleaning records and putting up with manufacturing defects and high prices don’t seem compatible to me. White, like his idol Neil Young, claims “the actual sound of analogue is ten times better than that of digital.” If that were true, Young would have made a second decent record and White would have made at least one.

If you read Revenge, don’t expect technical competence. Statements like, “Digital music takes an analog sound wave and translates it into 1’s and 0’s, inevitably sacrificing chunks of information, and sound, in the process. Usually, digital files are compressed to a smaller size to make them easier to download and stream, and their volume levels are jacked up to compensate. But none of that really matters to the vast majority of music listneers, who aren’t really that concerned about sound quality.” You might think Sax would have passed something this stupid by someone who knows something about audio engineering, but you’d be wrong.

The book does make one solid point in the chapter on vinyl, though. In explaining why “digital data” is at fault for devaluing popular music,:the ease at which decent recordings can be made with digital technology put the lie to the idea that artists are a rare commodity. With 8 billion people on the planet, it’s pretty hard to imagine that world wouldn’t produce twenty to fifty million musical geniuses. With access to professional quality recording equipment available to most of those few hundred million musicians, the result is a flood of brilliant, original popular music (and hundreds of millions of dramatically lessor talents) and a swamped buying public.

Sax’s take on the studio recording process is even more open-mouthed baffled and impressed. He is so enamored with the past that he didn’t even bother to ask if analog tape and vinyl have any sonic drawbacks. Likewise, when he finally discovers live music, he writes, “a great live band is a bolt of lightning, and an iPod is a lightning bug.” Imagine what he would think if he were to attend an orchestra concert?

indexThe 2nd chapter is titled “The Revenge of Paper.” You’d think it would be about books and magazines, but it’s about a fashion accessory called the “Moleskine notebook.” There is a chapter for “The Revenge of Print,” but since I’m reading this book on my Android tablet it may not carry the appropriate clout, at least in my case.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Freight Train Is Derailed

I’ve been putting this off, along with sleep and anything resembling confidince that my country isn’t going down a fascist shithole, since late January. It’s probably no news to anyone what the Allman Brothers Band drummer, Butch Trucks, is dead. He used the Republican healthcare plan and shot himself on January 25th.

In the 70’s, the Allman Brothers band was the poster band for musical committment. Post-Dwayne, the band combined with a southern fusion jazz band, Sea Level, and the result was “Win, Lose, or Draw” and a terrific collection of additions to the Allman history. I was lucky (Thanks Mike!) to see the group perform in ‘75 and it made an impression on me that still sticks.

Like today, those were tough years. The Vietnam War turned the US into a deficit nation and we have never recovered. The resulting recession was beginning to close off opportunities and hope for the future. Music was about the only positive thing happening for many of my generation. The Midwest, in particular, was undergoing a change that would be relentlessly painful for the next 40 years. By 1983, that change was so complete that it drove me to move to southern California because technology jobs were no longer available anywhere else. Nixon escaped his criminal prosecution with a deal Ford made to become “president for a moment.” The right-left split that finally resulted in Trump and the likely end of the United States of America experiment went into full throttle.

The Allman Brothers Band was a standard of excellence and energy that could levitate listeners above all of that depressing reality for a few moments. Butch Trucks was the “freight train” that moved the band. “High Falls” might be the best example of how important Butch Trucks was to that large and talented ensemble. There are, as far as I can tell, no good video recordings of that band live.

About five years later, a greatly reduced (in talent, energy, and inspiration) version of the Allman Brothers played at the college in Lincoln, Nebraska. My company provided the stage monitors and I did the stage left monitor mix. Butch Trucks was almost close enough to touch throughout the show.

For the most part, it was Dickie Betts’ band and that was not a good thing. Greg Allman was a drug dazed shadow of himself and when he sang his keyboard playing stopped almost entirely from the effort required just to manage the lyrics of songs he’d been singing for two decades. He had to be led onto and off of the stage, like a brain damaged child. Dickie’s solos were interminable and boring. Getting to work with the band was something I’d looked forward to since the first time I saw them, but after the first couple of songs, I just wanted it to be over with so I could pack up our gear and go home.

rs-derek-trucks-butch-trucks-ff5aa0e1-2034-4848-9a46-2261f5ef26a7The only worthwhile bit in the gig was getting to help Butch Trucks setup and watch him play. Regardless of the band’s turmoil and dysfunction, Trucks just kept truckin’. He was a human freight train who propelled the band through their repertoire, in spite of themselves. Unlike the rest of the band members, Butch stuck around to help disassemble his kit and thanked us for our work on the show.

butchtrucksI’m sorry his last years weren’t happy enough to make him stick around to see how it all turns out. I understand, though. My wife says that age illustrates a person’s character in the lines of their face. I think you can see Butch’s character pretty clearly in this picture.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Where Did the Audience Go?

In the last month, I’ve participated in two conversations about how difficult it is to find and maintain an audience: one with a bookstore owner who has struggled to find an audience for and participants in his store’s monthly “open mic” and the other with an “acoustic musician” who believes the US is no longer supportive of “good” live music. The one thing both of these men have in common is that they are unwilling to give up their addiction to their sound systems and unnecessary/excessive volume. I’ve written about this before, in “Killing Music Loudly,” and I’ll probably beat this horse again. However, these two conversations reminded me of an incident from 40 years ago that stuck with me because of its relevance to my own live musical history.

When Wirebender Audio was in its prime, there were two of us: Dan and me. Dan’s special interest was loudspeaker cabinet design. Between our dissatisfaction with commercially available speaker systems of the time (1976-1982) and his fascination with recent developments in loudspeaker and speaker cabinet theory, our company deviated from just being a user and vendor into system design and sales. Over a period of a couple years, Dan made one great sound system after another. We were on a Biamp craze, amplification and mixer-wise (Remember the Biamp 1642 and the TC-120 and TC-225’s? They needed a lot of mechanical engineering and some component replacement,for reliability, but they were well designed for their price-point.) and some of those systems were just huge audiophile rigs. Dan was particular enamored with front-loaded, non-horn, non-vented systems, which are notoriously inefficient, but very high-fidelity. Likewise, our systems were some of the cleanest, quickest sound systems I’ve yet experienced. Repeatedly, after Dan would wrap up a system and take it out the band he’d be working with would buy the whole system and he’d have to start over. Not a bad problem to have as a systems designer. Eventually, he built what became his “ultimate” system, using everything he’d learned in every area of system design. On a budget, I like to think a lot of what Dan ended up with resembles much of the Meyer Sound system designs.

Coincidentally, we were recording a power-pop band that he really liked and when their record was finished he did a few shows with the band at local Lincoln, NE clubs to showcase their music. In one of the more upscale clubs in town, Dan met his Waterloo. During the first set, when he’d dialed in everything beautifully and the band was cooking, the bartender kept coming back to the FOH position and telling Dan to “make it louder.” It was pretty loud in the first place, being an early 80’s rock band with the usual collection of Fender, Marshall, and Orange amps on the stage, but the bartender insisted it wasn’t loud enough. Dan brought it up incrementally, but knowing the limits of his system and trying to stick with his quality sound concept he didn’t bring it up nearly loud enough for the bartender.

During a break, the bartender and owner ganged up on Dan and explained their philosophy with words something like this, “When the music sounds good, the crowd is a bunch of music lovers. They don’t drink or tip much and we don’t make any money. Crank it up, drive those cheap bastards out and make room for the drunks. They don’t care what it sounds like, as long as it’s loud, and they’ll drink until they drop.” Dan did push the system a little harder, the music got crappier, the audience morphed into brainless drunks, and the night went on.

Afterwards, Dan lost interest in live music speaker system design. After a few really great non-rock gigs with the University of Minnesota orchestra and a couple of outdoor musical performances, he sold that last system and told me he’d had enough of what we were doing. He didn’t like the commercials we were making most of our money doing and he’d lost interest in sound system design and live sound engineering. We packed up the company, after selling the last 100 of our “Musician’s Preamp” product and finishing the recordings we’d committed to, and went our separate ways. Dan became a tech school electronics instructor and stayed as far from popular music as possible for the rest of his life. I moved to Omaha, built a small production studio for a friend and went to work for a company that owned Aarakis Systems, building broadcast consoles and A/V switching systems. A year later, I was in California working for QSC Audio Products, doing live sound for a 9-piece horn band, and hustling Wirebender as a backline supplier, studio equipment and electronic musical instrument repair service, and contract audio and industrial electronics design service.

The lesson learned that would, today, apply to those two conversations that inspired this trip down Memory Lane is that the problem may be that you have both misidentified your audience. The bookstore isn’t trying to attract drunks and the acoustic musician isn’t trying to appeal to people who shout “Freebird” at every pause in the music. However, the quality of your sound system is exactly aimed at that audience. The bookstore, for example, isn’t large enough to warrant a sound system at all. Most of the people who used to attend the bookstore’s open mic have been punished enough by kids who imagine that more volume hides imperfections. They’ve decided that suffering through the loud awful stuff for the occasional loud decent stuff isn’t worth the effort. The acoustic musician isn’t acoustic at all. I’ve check out his YouTube performances and he is always surrounded by at least two stage wedges and he’s highly electrified. Yeah, he plays a beat up hipster’s acoustic guitar, but it’s plugged-in and so is he. With those monitor demands, the FOH has to be painfully loud for any bandwidth to exist out front. Again, he’s misunderstanding his target audience. He imagines himself to be a weird combination of Leo Kottke and Eric Clapton, but he’s neither and the audience he is best suited for would be more Kottke and no Clapton. Volume is the enemy of both of these guys, but they don’t know it, won’t accept it, and it will continue to defeat their objectives until they figure it out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reflections on Guitar Building

When I started actively looking at moving, I stopped at Southeast Community Technical College to get a feel for the possibilities (for me) in that program if we moved to Red Wing. Luckily, I hit a day when David Vincent was working on course preparation and he spent a couple hours with me showing me the facilities, talking about my experiences at McNally Smith, and my experience with tools, shop equipment, and guitar repairs.

David also described the first year of classes and when he told me about “GTRB 1400 Intro to Tools,” I admit that I balked at having to take a basic hand and power tools class after a lifetime of tool-using. Since I wouldn’t be able to get in to the program for about a year, David recommended that I consider the cabinet-making class in Winona just to get my woodworking skills up a bit. So, I did. That was a pretty awful class, but it did show me how much I didn’t know about power tools I thought I was fairly familiar with.  I really didn’t want to take “Intro to Tools.” David made it clear that skipping that class wasn’t an option.

So, I signed up for all but one of the classes a first year student takes in the fall of 2015. I didn’t take the Electric Guitar Design class my first year because I wasn’t yet convinced I wanted to build an electric guitar. After three weeks of “Intro to Tools” I wasn’t convinced I was going to be building any sort of guitar. David’s class was kicking my ass. It turns out that my personal quality standards weren’t even close to good enough for a luthier.

To start, we all had a list of fairly expensive tools to buy. Four Canadian-made chisels for about $120 for the set, were on the list. You’d think that if you paid that kind of cash for a couple of pounds of steel they would come sharpened by the manufacturer. You’d be wrong. There was also a 4” plane on the list. It cost about $70 and it also needed sharpening. We spent about a week (it felt like a month) learning how to properly sharpen these tools. In the end, I was able to create an edge that would easily shave the hair off of my arm. The factory edge was far from that sort of edge.

IMG_7887For example, this sanding stick. It’s about 10” long, with a prescribed taper, different on both sides, and two different radiused sides, also prescribed by Mr. Vincent. I worked on that stick for days and, after three weeks, didn’t feel I was any closer to getting it right (+/-0.002” for all specified dimensions) than I was when I started. Everyday, for a couple of weeks, I wrestled with myself and my failure to be able to do the work to David’s standards. I was not that far from the edge of saying, “Screw this. I’m retired and I don’t need eight hours a day of failure.” Then, I got it. All of a sudden, I was not only getting the assignments but I was bringing in work from  home and doing it to my new workmanship standards.

2016 SETC Guitar Show (8)In the end, I did pretty well. I made the Dean’s list and, even more importantly, I made this guitar. Yeah, I know it’s a long ways from a Gibson Hummingbird, but it is exactly what I wanted to build, including a fairly individual semi-V shaped neck that I LOVE.

Also, I have a trio of super-sharp planes—from a 6” 1950’s Stanley to a 24” Stanley/Bailey that found in a Red Wing garage sale for $10 (with two new 7” saw blades tossed in for good measure) that I turned into a terrific manual joiner.

Occasionally, in my 68 years, I have learned things that if I’d have had them in hand when I was young would have made a world of difference in my life. This first year at Southeast Community Technical College was full of that kind of experience. I’m not kidding when I say that I think every kid who doesn’t know what he or she wants to post-high school ought to seriously consider the Southeast Tech Guitar Bulding and Repair Program. You will not be the same person after you’ve experienced the high standards this school and these instructors set for you.

Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.