One way in which gigs on cruise ships are different from gigs on land is that you’ll have to travel far with your gear. If you take lots of it, you will almost certainly be charged big bucks by the airlines and you’ll run the risk that they’ll damage it. Regardless of the charges and the risks involved, you’ll also have to carry your gear and set it up. Who wants to break hauling gear around? Cruise lines do ask you to play in various lounges around the ship, so moving your gear happens quite often.
So, it goes without saying that taking as little gear as possible will save trouble and cash. more info
Just because you’re at sea doesn’t mean you have to stop being creative. If you’re planning to record some of your song ideas the minute they pop into your head, you need a flexible recording device with you. Korg just announced their “Sound on sound” multi-track recorder, that’s small enough to fit in any gig bag and it’s packed with some nice features.
The unit can record an unlimited amount of tracks (not that you need that but nice to see it could), it’s got 50 preset rhythm patterns on board, can record up to 200 songs, uses AA batteries and it’s even got a tuner built-in. It’s also got “sound stretch” built-in, which lets you speed up or slow down music without changing the pitch. This actually comes in handy when you want to learn a difficult passage of some lick.
Oh, and it’s also got 100 effects built-in for guitar, bass and vocals.
A big drawback is that it doesn’t have any XLR inputs, only a 1/4″ balanced phone jack and a 1/8″ stereo mini jack. The unit isn’t shipping yet so yo have to be patient, and the list price is a bit of a enigma since many sites show a different price. The “buy now” feature on the Korg site shows it as selling for $299.99 once it ships. Probably safe to say that you’ll be able to get it for less soon.
I’m always on the lookout for gear that either makes it easier or more fun to perform on the road, and I’ve come across a gadget that definitely delivers. TC Electronics has introduced it’s new guitar and bass tuner “PolyTune“. It’s called that because it let’s you strum all of your strings at once and it tells you which ones are out of tune. This is a huge time saver over the older tuners that made you tune the strings one by one. All you do is strum all of your strings at once and the device will display in green the strings that are in tune and in red the strings that needs to be tuned.
You may remember TC Electronics from a previous post on this blog about their Harmony G, a box that adds harmonies based on your voice. This company is coming out with really high quality products that enable you to keep your performances fresh and, now with the PolyTune, makes your life easier.
I assume you have an iPhone by now and that you’re looking to add some useful apps to it. Well, I can help out with a quick tip about an app that’s definitely going to be of use. Guitar Toolkit is a great app made by a company called Agile Partners. The toolkit is essentially a guitar tuner, a chord finder, a metronome and more. In other words it’ll allow you to leave a couple of gadgets at home and bring the iPhone instead.
Click on the pic below to view a screencast on their Web site.
The app is very stable which is a big part of why it’s so useful. It’s actually more reliable than some cheap metronomes and/or tuners. Like a lot of apps, it’s very simple in design and thus easy to use. It also looks pretty good. All in all, good job by Agile.
With the apps you can install on your iPhone, you can turn your phone into a flashlight, a metronome, a piano, an ocarina and even a radio. Today I’ll talk about the latter.
My favorite radio iPhone app is called “Tuner” by Nullriver.
The app is not free and compared to some of the other apps it may look expensive at $5.99 but I believe that the app is well worth the investment.
The app has four buttons, one of which is to bookmark your favorite radio station for quick access, a second lets you browse through the various genres of stations, a third lists the top 500 stations and the lets you search for a particular station.
Most importantly you can add new ones if you know the link to it.
I have found that the app is very reliable and the music doesn’t get interrupted at all, which is a feat given that the music is streamed as you go. So, if you’re getting sick of listening to the same stuff over and over, give this app a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Playing in time is one of the fundamental aspects of musical technique. When playing with others in a group, having a great sense of time is even more critical, especially if you are laying down the foundation of a band’s groove on the bass or the drums. Bands playing in certain genres with strict, regimented rhythms might actually even use a metronome while practicing in order to make sure that no one falls behind or gets too far ahead of themselves. more info
It’s happened to almost any professional musician – you plug in at a new venue and are treated to a wall of noise and hum from your amps and speakers. It’s frustrating, and of course the sound engineers on site are rarely willing to admit that their building is feeding you dirty power, no matter how often you tell them that this never occurs at home.
In fact, at smaller gigs the organizers might not be music professionals themselves, and might have the attitude that any power is good power. You never know whether your gear is sharing an electrical source with other equipment in the building like air conditioning, fans or kitchen appliances which not only interfere with the cleanliness of the power, but which could also cause spikes that put your equipment at risk of being damaged.
Hardware effects have ruled the guitar universe for a very long time. Since the late 60’s, guitarists have been experimenting with devices that promise to alter the signal coming from their instrument into something wonderful and unique – or at least, loud and obnoxious. This has lead to an entire industry devoted to producing stomp boxes, rack units and pedal boards which can slice, dice and re-assemble a musician’s tone into a variety of reverbs, delays, distortions and just plain bizarre sounds. more info
Anyone who has every performed a live gig knows how much of a beating equipment can take, especially if you are playing night after night. Most musicians consider their instruments to be precious extensions of their own bodies, and treat them almost like children – wiping them down after use, wrapping them in soft cloth and protecting them in velvet-lined hard protective cases. However, in the heat of the moment on-stage, many instruments suffer from superficial and sometimes more serious damage from accidental drops, bumping into other equipment, or the actions of those who might be more wrapped up in the music than in what their bodies are doing.
Input and output jacks are particularly at risk. A quarter-inch patch cable is usually snapped in pretty tight, sometimes even wrapped around the guitar strap or taped to the top of the amp. This means that should that cable get caught on something, or should the singer or another musician step or trip on it while you are playing, the cable could be wrenched out of the jack at an awkward angle. This can seriously damage not only the jack itself, both internally and externally, but also in extreme cases crack the wood of the instrument or amplifier, not to mention your eardrum that suffers from the loud pop that can result from this accident.
Belkin has developed a neat little gadget that is designed to prevent this scenario from ever happening again. Called the BreakFree connector, it consists of a socket and plug in the same shape as a quarter-inch TRS plug.
However, while the socket does snap into your instrument or amp, the plug itself slides into the socket almost silently and is held by a strong magnetic force. This means that if for whatever reason the cable is tugged hard in any direction, the plug will detach without any dramatic snapping or tearing.
Not only does this help to protect equipment from becoming damaged, but the nifty gadget also facilitates quick and quiet instrument changes, since the cable can be detached without the standard crack or pop that forces players to zero out their amps before making the switch. At a price of around $20, the BreakFree connector is cheap insurance for the gigging musician.
Recording yourself can reveal some glaring deficiencies in your playing and it is without a doubt one of the best tools to take inventory of where you are in your quest for excellency and where you should be headed.
Back in the days, people were satisfied with simply hitting the play and record buttons on their portable cassette boom box, but those in the know had to truck around a few good microphones, a 4-track recorder or at the very least a high-quality tape unit to gigs, practices and jam sessions with other musicians in order to get something of decent quality.
Fortunately, the advent of digital technology has pushed those days far behind us into the dark reaches of time. It is now possible to slip a high-quality recording device into the front pocket of your jacket – microphone included – and capture an good snapshot of whatever you choose to aim it at.
One of the most popular devices for portable recording currently available on the market is the Zoom H4, made by Samson. The H4 can sample up to 24 bit sound at 96 kHz – an excellent resolution for preserving a wide variety of performances. The Zoom H4 is a small, rectangular-shaped recorder which uses two angled condenser mics located at one end to capture a decent stereo field. The H4’s small size makes it easy to place anywhere in a room in order to take advantage of good acoustics. It is also easy to transport or keep in a gig bag, which helps when you want to record an idea that came to you suddenly while jamming with friends.
The Zoom unit has an extra dimension which sets it apart from a standard portable digital or micro-tape recorder that you would use in a classroom setting or as a reporter. In addition to the two stereo mics, it also features two XLR ports complete with phantom power so that you can plug in individual mics in order to extend the device’s range or record individual instruments with better separation. The recorder can also interface with a computer through USB in order to transfer the digital recording files or even serve as an audio interface for direct recording to the computer itself.
The Zoom H4 is obviously not intended for serious studio use, but it is an excellent portable compromise for those who want to be able to capture ideas or sounds no matter where they might present themselves. In a pinch, it can also serve as a mini-studio for slapping together a few demos, as it even includes built-in 4-track ability and guitar amp modeling. The Zoom is worth a look from any traveling musician.
We are currently looking for quality bands with high energy and character. Lead vocalists should have charisma and the ability to engage a crowd.
Bands should not only play great music with a fresh new sound, but should also be visually appealing and be able to create a fun atmosphere.
Go here and click on Party Bands to find out more.
Updated February 7, 2013
-Guitar & Piano/Vocalists Needed-
We are currently looking for young, highly skilled guitar/vocalists and piano/vocalists for work on cruise ships. Visit our jobs & auditions page to learn more about the jobs and the audition procedures. Contact information is