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A KIND OF PROGRESS...

On Monday I travelled to Leeds to pick up my Backlund 'Rockerbox' and Musicvox 'Space Cadet' guitars from Gordon White at Single Coil Guitar Repairs. Gordon had dressed the frets and filed their rough edges down, resulting in a very nice, playable feel. He also fitted a Duesenberg tremolo system to the guitar. I'm very pleased with the result.


The Backhand 'Rockerbox' had been taken to Gordon in the hope that he could fix the rotary pickup selector switch which was turning freely in the body of the guitar and not selecting the individual pickups. This proved to be a complicated job requiring the strings and the neck pickup to be removed to gain access to the interior of the guitar. Even with those items removed it was tricky getting inside via the small pickup hole but Gordon managed to tighten the nuts that secured the switch to the guitar's body and hopefully, it will hold. Ideally he would have like to fit a 'star' washer to the switch but the thickness of the wood of the instrument wouldn't allow enough room to fit one. I guess time will tell if will continue to work as it should, but if it fails again, the only solution is to fit a three way toggle switch instead of the rotary control.


Whilst picking up the two guitars from Gordon I also dropped off my Backlund Super 100 with him. As mentioned in my previous journal entry, the Duesenberg tremolo unit had broken after very little use. I'd contacted Mike Robinson at Eastwood guitars, (who make the instrument,) and Mike arranged to send me a replacement tremolo unit. Mike also contacted Duesenberg to tell them about the problem. They replied that they'd had several of the tremolos fail and, on investigation, found that it was a 'bad batch' that had been manufactured at Duesenberg's factory. There's no way of telling if the replacement Mike sent me is one of the 'bad' ones or not, so it's a matter of keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't break like the previous one. Anyway, the Super 100 is currently with Gordon who is going to swap the units over. I'll be collecting the guitar from him sometimes next week.


Different subject: Last week I had a hospital appointment to assess and measure my cataracts in preparation for a cataract operation later this year. I'd been given a booklet explaining the operation but hadn't read it. The night before the assessment I thought I'd better read it. The information it contained didn't exactly fill me with confidence. It seemed that there were various things that could go wrong, ranging from further deterioration of sight, blindness and even the loss of the eye itself. I have cataracts in both eyes so you can imagine how I felt about such possible negative outcomes.


I had to be at the hospital by 10:30 which required an early start to get into town, through the centre and out the other side to the hospital. Traffic can be horrendous at that time of day. Nevertheless, we arrived early, Emi accompanying me as I wouldn't be allowed to drive home after the assessment as I had to be treated with drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils for the examination.


The assessment took over two hours and involved an eye test, (which I failed dismally,) a close reading test, (ditto,) and various scans with different machines which required the aforementioned drops in my eyes.


Then there was a wait to see the specialist doctor. After some considerable time I was ushered into the doctors office. He seemed a nice guy and asked me how I felt about having a cataract operation. I didn't say anything but gave him a look which communicated my trepidation. He then asked who had referred me for the procedure. I explained that I was having eye injections every few weeks for diabetic related macular degeneration in a different department, and that one particular consultant I'd seen had put me down on the list for the op. Other consultants had thought that the cataracts were not particularly advanced enough to warrant an operation, so I was a bit confused.


The doctor then said that my cataracts were not really that bad...yet and that my macular degeneration problem was impacting my sight far more than the cataracts. He suggested me trying some prescription glasses to see if they might help a little but said that it might be a few years before the cataracts really required an operation. So, with a feeling of relief, I thanked him and Emi drove me home. My eyesight was even more blurred than usual due to the drops but by the following day they were back to normal. 'Normal' for me, of course, is not normal at all. I have great difficulty reading text and people's faces are a washed out blur until they are literally a foot away from me. It's incredibly frustrating. Anyway, next step is to go to an optician and get tested for glasses.


Different subject again: The first of the items I need to refurbish my recording system arrived yesterday: A Mackie MCU Pro 8 DAW control surface. I haven't taken it out from its protective plastic wrapping yet as it will be a few weeks before I switch my current system off for good and begin to install the new one. Tomorrow I'm expecting delivery of another component, the Zoom TAC-8 audio interface. I'm also about to order another interface to give me enough input channels.


The really big purchase will be the Apple Mac computer and monitor screen. I'll be dealing with those items soon, along with the DAW software and all the other bits and bobs I'll need to complete the setup. When it comes to changeover time, all my current equipment will need to be disconnected and carted out of the studio, which will be a big job in itself. God knows where I'm going to put it all.


Today, a new reissue album was made available as a digital download on my Bandcamp page. The album is 'Electric Atlas' which was originally released as a limited edition CD in 2015. It sold out in just five days and has been unavailable until today's re-release as a download only album. The album has been incredibly popular with fans and its vocal based tracks are quirky but melodic. I'd forgotten just how good this one is, if I may be forgiven for 'blowing my own trumpet,' (or should that be 'strumming my own guitar'?) 😉


In the meantime, I continue to work on the two albums I have on the drawing board at the moment. The album with the working title of 'Cathode Paintbox' is getting the most attention right now with a track almost completed bar for a little bit of percussion and then a final mix down. Might get it finished by tomorrow night.


So now, I'll sign off and get back to work...



A flyer for a possible future album, 'Tales Of Tomorrow' may be one of the first projects to get underway in my new studio, once it has been installed.

My new Mackie DAW control surface, photographed soon after I opened the box.



In the foreground, my Musicvox 'Space Cadet' guitar, now sporting the Duesenberg tremolo arm that Gordon White fitted for me. The gold sparkle guitar to the left is my Musicvox 'Mi6' which also has a Duesenberg trem. Both guitars are nestling amongst various decorative cushions on the sofa in our lounge.

© Bill Nelson 2020

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