Embrace your inner rock star!

How to IMPROVE on your instrument with limited practice time

If you are a weekend warrior guitar player like me, you probably don’t have much time to play your instrument (guitar, piano, saxophone, whatever it might be), let alone to PRACTICE. Now playing and practicing are 2 different things, but that’s a topic for another post.

So with limited available time with your instrument (let’s say just a few hours a week on the whole) how can you still hope to make constant improvements?

In my experience, when faced with limited time, you will make more progress by dividing time with your instrument into lots of smaller chunks rather than just 1 or 2 big blocks.

For instance, rather than just playing/practicing for the whole afternoon on Sunday and then not touching the instrument again till the following weekend, it would be far better to spend just a little time each day (maybe 15-20 minutes) throughout the week, and forego the big Sunday session.

You will have to re-organize somethings in your life to make just a little time each day (or every other day for a start). And in return, you do on that Sunday afternoon those other little things that you put aside on the weekdays so you could have just a little regular time for your instrument.

Constant “touch” with your instrument, even in small chunks, is better than extended time in one block with large gaps in between where you don’t play at all.

A simple analogy (not perfect but you will get the idea) is exercise: Doing something a little a day, say a 15 minute walk each day, is obviously better than going for a 2 hour walk once a week and lying in bed the rest of the time! Same sort of idea. When you keep in constant touch with your instrument, you brain and body naturally figure out ways to get comfortable (and better) at it.


Eye Candy: Gibson L-5 Stained Glass Custom Acoustic Guitar

Today’s guitar eye candy comes courtesy of Gibson, which yesterday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (hee!). Just feast your eyes on this amazing work of art out of their Nashville custom shop:

The guitar features a Sitka spruce top, and fretboard and bridge made from Brazilian rosewood.

Only ahem… $40K for this beauty on Reverb.com. Hurry, deals like this won’t last long!


Why are there so many different types of guitar pedals but the guitar tones you hear are just those few?

A good question that I came across today on Quora (which I happened to answer there as well) was:

“Why are there so many different types of guitar pedals but the guitar tones you hear are just those few?”

In a nutshell my answer was guitar players are the only ones who obsess over their tone and think all the many subtle variations actually matter to the listener. In truth only a very small percentage of listeners in the grand scheme of things will notice any difference between the use of an original Ibanez Tubescreamer or say a Joyo overdrive pedal that cost $50 new.

So moral of the story is, let’s try to remember that and spend more of precious time just playing our instruments, and not too carried away with gear pursuits as we chase the mythical tone that we think will blow everyone away.


Eye Candy: Monson Guitars Palehorse #3 – Black Limba body and neck

Came across this “Palehorse #3” handbuilt in the US by Monson Guitars,  a (small-ish?) builder that makes really unique body shaped guitars such as today’s guitar eye candy offering:

Monson Guitars Palehorse Black Limba body

This one features a Black Limba neck and body with wenge and sapelle strips, topped off with a Ziricote fretboard. Not the sort of guitar style I would personally be seen playing live with, but definitely worthy of hanging on the wall as a work of art!

Check out the exquisite neck through body finish on the back:

Monson Guitars Neck Through black limba body

You can order this Palehorse #3 from Monson Guitars. They also make all sorts of other unique shapes, mostly appealing to heavy metal / death metal genre players. Hard to tell from pictures alone, but the quality of their instruments looks to be very very good.


Gear: DIY 2 way momentary switch for amps, effects etc – Only $10 in cost

For about $10 in materials cost, or less if you find cheaper suppliers or re-use stuff you might already have lying around, you can build your own 2-way / dual switch that can be used with many types of gear, including amps, modelling amps, effects pedals and the like.

Here’s what we are building:

DIY 2 way momentary switch

It’s a low-cost and sturdy alternative to commercially made switches such as the Boss FS-6 or the Kemper Profiler Switch 2 Way, both of which don’t come that cheaply.

I made one recently and thought I’d share the steps – it’s really simple.

Parts list:

– Enclosure
– 2 x momentary stomp switches
– 1 x 1/4″ stereo jack
– some thin gauge electrical wire, any colour, around 20cm is all you need

DIY switch parts required


– Soldering iron and some solder
– adjustable wrench (to tighten the nuts on the jacks and switches)
– drill to drill the holes for the jack and switches


1) Drill holes in enclosure

Drill holes in enclosure

2) Wire up and solder as shown below

Wiring and soldering for 2 way momentary switch

– colour of wires doesn’t matter
– in my switch, I used blue for the “ground/sleeve” terminal on the jack
– left switch goes to “ring” terminal (purple wire)
– right switch goes to “tip” terminal (other purple wire)
– you can reverse which is which if you want, doesn’t matter
– since NO AUDIO SIGNAL passes through the switch, you don’t even have to be too fussy about the quality of your solder connections, in case soldering isn’t your thing. Just so long as the connections don’t fall apart and don’t short out, it should work fine.

And that’s it!


Eye Candy: PRS Private Stock Custom 24 Semi-Hollow Body

Today’s guitar eye candy comes courtesy of this gorgeous Paul Reed Smith Private Stock Custom 24.

It’s a Semi-Hollow body, with a Brazilian Rosewood Neck and a stunning orange glow finish over what looks like a flame maple top (although the official listing description calls it a curly maple top…).

Check out the back view of the Brazilian rosewood neck – absolutely breathtaking!

Found this on reverb.com going for the not too shabby sum of $11,350! Oh it comes with a case too! 😉


Backing Track: Epic Rock Ballad Jam Track – in A minor

A backing/jam track I came up with in the key of A minor inspired by the solo section of “Within Cold Glass” by The Reasoning. Has just 2 chords (goes between Amin and Cmaj) so it’s a really nice one to focus on nailing those chord tones with the changes.

You can use A minor pentatonic throughout or the full A minor (aeolian) scale.

If you record yourself jamming over this track, please post it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Have fun!

*** GEAR USED ***

Suhr Classic Pro
Ibanez SGR Electric Bass

Kemper Profling Amp
Various profiles including dumble Style clean amp, Friedman style dirty amp, and others by Michael Britt

TC Electronic Spark Booster

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X


Recording: Become a Logic Pro X Ninja with This Amazing Masterclass

I came across this masterclass by the Guildhall School’s Electronic Music Department. It’s long (over 2 hours) and in 2 parts, but worth every single moment. Don’t be put off by the slightly “stuffy” looking announcer right at the beginning. Once the main presenter comes on stage, this kicks into high gear very quickly and is beautifully presented.

Even experienced Logic users are likely to pick up at least a few good tips and tricks from this masterclass. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:


Eye Candy: Fender 2004 Telecaster Thinline – Pine body with Leather Pickguard

For my very first guitar eye candy post I thought I’d feature this unique 2004 Fender thinline telecaster built by the renown luthier John English.

This one just screams cowboy boots and gallon hats! Totally unique in looks and a true work of art to behold.

You can snag this one on Reverb.com for just under $16k!