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Reviews Archives – Mar-Schell's Music

Drum Tuning – Part One – Snare and Toms.

The number one rule is….. If your drums sound good to you… That’s all that matters!  That being said you will need some understanding of a few basic principles. Drummers frequently change the “Batter Side” on any given drum.  It is common to replace the Snare Drum head more than any other.  You want to change the heads when you notice significant play wear in the middle of the drum. Drum heads stretch! Especially if your a heavy hitter. If a drum head is over stretched it will require more tension to keep it tight in the “impact area”. This extra tension can warp a shell or CHOKE a drum and result in loss of  resonance. Once you have identified the drum needing work. You will need to do the following.

#1. Pick your new drumhead (a topic I will expand on in a later blog)

#2. Remove the old head

#3. Clean and lubricate parts

#4. Reassemble and Tune                                                                        .

When changing a drumhead it is the perfect time for “Maintenance” of your drum. Clean the surface of the shell.  Check lug casings make sure all screws are snug. Check the Tom mount Hardware and make sure the bolts are snug. Take some WD40 or oil with a tak rag and clean the threading on the tension rods. Once everything is cleaned you are ready to put it back together. Put the new head on the drum, Place the hoop back over the head. Now take each tension rod and put grease on the tip prior to putting them back. Your tension rods (all of them!) should move free and smooth.  Once in place begin re-threading the tension rods, I do two at a time. Pick one directly across from the other and wind them down Finger tight only.  Once this is done you now can take your drum key and begin tuning. Pick a #1 Tension Rod. Start with a quarter turn, Move across to another rod and do the same. Then move to the next tension rod beside the one you just did, then go across and so on till you have done all of them.

Note: You will hear a cracking sound as you tighten the new drum head. This is normal as the drum head “seats”. Use pattern tuning, do not go around in a circle as this will tighten and stretch the head unevenly. The goal is to get equal pitch at each tension rod point. That can be measured by tapping with your finger on the head about one inch inward from the hoop. The amount of turns per tension rod you use will determine the feel/rebound of the head and of course the pitch of the drum. This is where personal taste comes into play, Do what represents your style.

Thanks for reading……..Dan

When shopping for a guitar, there are many important considerations that need to be made. In all honesty, finding a good sounding or good looking guitar is only about half the battle. A new guitar should feel great, above all other considerations. After all, you aren’t going to play a guitar that doesn’t feel right in your hands or strapped over your shoulder. Thankfully the Epiphone Les Paul Studio covers all the bases; a great guitar that looks, sounds and feels great.

The Low Down

The Studio in contrast to the Custom and Standard type offerings is a low frills to thrills kind of guitar. It has a matte finish, open-coil Alnico humbuckers and dot inlays. The controls are laid out in the traditional Les Paul fashion, a volume and tone pot for each pickup, and a 3 way switch on the upper bout. The body and neck are made from what feels like a medium weight Mahogany, the fingerboard is Rosewood, and it has a relatively standard Tune-O-Matic bridge setup.

Fit and Finish

The example I tested was finished in matte cherry, with chrome hardware. The finish was rich and blemish free, and the color had exceptional depth for an unpolished finish.

A common area of weakness with these stripped down style guitars is that the manufacturer seem to use the lower price point and plain appearance of these instruments as an excuse to cut corners in the building stage.  thankfully Epiphone is not one of these manufacturers.

The fret edges are smooth and even from nut to heel, the crowns of the frets are finished to the same standard. The glued neck joint feels very sturdy, and actually looks cleaner than that on my own Norlin-Era Gibson.

The nut is a relatively standard offering, but is well formed and made for pleasant tone and smooth and stable tuning.

How does it sound?

It sounds how a Les Paul is supposed to sound. That may sound like overly enthusiastic, or like some reviewer’s cliché, but it’s the truth. Chords are full, and are well-articulated, single notes are punchy and well defined, and the overall tone is very well balanced. A big beef that many players have with Les Paul style guitars is that the combination of humbuckers, mahogany, and a shorter 24.75” scale tend to leave the guitar erring on the side of dark and muddy in tone. Basically the lack of string tension and the use of a softer/warmer sounding wood can make the guitar sound bloated. This was not my experience with the Epiphone Les Paul Studio, at all levels of gain, the guitar’s tone remained balanced and bouncy, with little to no trace of muddiness.


Grover Kidney Tuners tuners have long been one of the most common upgrades that Les Paul players make to their instruments, and Epiphone having done their homework have included these tuners are standard issue on their Les Paul Studio. One of the biggest surprises for me was the real world usability of the guitars Volume and Tone controls. Using the volume knob did not kill my treble response, and the tone control had a nice feel over its whole travel.

Who’s it for?

This guitar is great for anyone who wants the Les Paul experience without having to shell out thousands of dollars to have it, and really for anyone in need of a high-quality, good performing dual humbucker guitar.

I’d like to open by saying that this is actually the first digital pedal that I have ever spent a meaningful amount of time with, and it was a pleasure. Harmonizers are not really new technology, though in the past, units were bulky and their actual capabilities were somewhat limited. The Harmony Man on the other hand is pedal board friendly, and is really using modern technology to its full advantage.

What does it do?

The Harmony Man is a pedal that uses digital sampling to create rich and accurate harmonies. It can operate in several different modes, including triad, scalic, chromatic, and detune. You have the capability as the user to choose 2 different intervals as harmonies to generate which can be switched in and out at will. One of the most fascinating features of the pedal is called musicIQ. This permits a rhythm guitar players signal to be routed to the pedal, from which the processor within the unit analyzes chords and progressions to come up with harmonies that sound great and are in key with the song you are playing. It has a footswitch for presets and another to toggle harmonies on and off. Knobs to select each voicing and buttons to access musicIQ and preset features.

How does it sound?

To my ears, the Digitech Harmony Man is a great pedal. The Harmonies generated are rich and clear, and if dialed in properly sound relaxed and natural. Leaving the harmonies high in the mix can be cool, but especially with distortion it takes on a synthy edge.

This pedal has a distortion loop which you can place your favorite dirt box. Distortion is extra frequencies that the processor within the pedal will be confused by, this little loop allows a clean guitar signal to be sampled before being altered and distorted.

Being as much of a vintage junky as I am, I placed an MJM London Fuzz in the distortion loop and started playing with different settings. Thirds, Fourths and Fifths were all serviceable and provided cool textures, and sounded great with the fuzz somewhat subdued. My favorite setting was to do one octave down and one up with the fuzz pretty well cranked. It took on a very aggressive synth like sound, somewhat reminiscent of the Black Keys.

Who is it for?

I would say that this one is for a player who is looking to add a different dimension to their playing and songwriting. The included instructions provide a great start for getting it working with your setup, and it can be used in many different ways.