It’s been an incredibly hectic week on all fronts, and I feel like I’ve been sprinting to keep up!
I’ve been writing up my listening impressions for the Positive Feedback review of the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge from Peter Ledermann, and you should see that review published in the next week or two. Another great cartridge by Peter Ledermann!
I’ve migrated the artisanal Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier into my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre based system, and it’s a nice match and sounding mighty fine!
The Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier is next in my review queue after I finish up the review of the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge.
The Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier is one fine artisanal amplifier at a very fair price!
This was quite an eventful week on the guitar front.
Joan LaChapelle – wife of John LaChapelle, a legendary Pacific Northwest jazz guitarist, who is sadly no longer with us – recommended David Gitlen to me for continuing my studies in jazz guitar.
The photo below is of me, John LaChapelle, and Larry Coryell after their concert some years ago.
As you might imagine, Joan’s bar is very high when it comes to jazz guitarists, and she really knows her stuff, so I contacted David after Joan’s recommendation to find out if he had an opening for a new student.
David took me on as a student! I had my first lesson on Tuesday with David, and I’m really, really, excited to be studying jazz guitar again.
David trained under Joe Pass and Jim Hall and is an amazing jazz guitarist, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be studying with him.
David pretty much blew me away playing “Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington, and made it look so easy (it’s not!).
See Joe Pass playing “Satin Doll” in the YouTube clip below.
In my own feeble but diligent way I’m working hard at improving my jazz guitar playing. I’ve been practicing “Satin Doll” this week, as well as learning all kinds of new stuff from David, and loving it!
When David saw my Collings he asked me if I just bought it, and I told him that I just bought it from Joe in Seattle at Archtop.com.
David laughed and told me that he saw the Collings on Joe’s website. David and his wife were vacationing in Ellensburg over the weekend, and they were going to drive over to Seattle to check out the Collings when Joe opened on Monday, and buy it if he liked it. But then David saw that it was sold – I beat him to it by a few days – we both laughed about it!
David really liked the Collings and made it sing playing “Satin Doll”!
I had a terrific day today with my buddy Ron Barbee and his wife Sumi. Guitars, guitar amps, audio, music, and Sumi fixed us an absolutely amazing lunch that was a celebration of wonderful flavors – thank you so much for such a great day, Ron & Sumi! I felt like I was taking part in a wonderful celebration of life & music, and the time went by so fast!
You’ve read about Ron before here at Jeff’s Place, and he is an amazing talent both in audio and the guitar.
My buddy Doc Leo loaned me his Eico HF-81 so I could give it a listen, but when I hooked it up to my Altec 832A Corona’s and powered it up it gave me a nasty shock as my arm brushed against it.
It’s always a bit of a thrill when you feel AC going through your body, so I shut it off real quick and lived to tell about it.
Ron tells me that happens with those old Eico’s occasionally, and he’s going to take a look at it to see what’s going on with it.
When I first got the ’65 Fender Princeton Reverb it sounded a little rough, but it really smoothed out and got sounding really good as it got some more run-in time on it.
Ron and I pulled apart my ’65 Fender Princeton Reverb guitar amp to take a look inside at the tube complement, and it turns out that all the tubes in it are Russian tubes produced for Groove Tube, and they actually sound really good. I don’t know what Russian brand they are … maybe Sovtek’s?
Ron had a nice selection of vintage 12AX7 tubes: Telefunken’s, Sylvania’s, Mullard’s, and others. We listened to the Fender with the stock tube, a Sylvania, and a Mullard, in V1 position.
It turned out that all three of them sounded really nice in the Fender, and Ron advised me to run the stock tubes until they start getting ragged and then replace them all with some nice NOS tubes.
The Sylvania 12AX7WA was a mellow and laid back sounding tube overall, but still had a lot of clarity in 1st through 3rd strings, with a really smooth presentation in the bass strings, but perhaps a little too smooth in combination with the CannaRex speaker.
The Mullard 12AX7 had rich textured tones in the bass strings, and a pure bell-like presentation in the treble strings. I liked it a lot.
The real surprise was the stock Russian Groove Tube 12AX7, which was kind of in between the Sylvania and Mullard in voicing, but was hard to fault for its jazzy tone. I liked it a lot too.
I’m going to take Ron’s advice and just hang with the stock tubes until they need changing, then I’ll round up some nice NOS tube choices to replace them.
Unfortunately, I’ve got some bad news to share. My Mom’s recent CT scan showed lung cancer that has spread to both lungs, accompanied by enlarged lymph nodes. Not operable, and probably not treatable. She’s never been a smoker so it was a surprise.
Mom’s 93, and was very stoic about the news, and seems to be in relatively good spirits, but is not feeling all that great lately. Mom has elected not to treat it even if it were possible, as at age 93 she doesn’t want her remaining time to be miserable from treatments.
I think Mom’s handling the news better than I am. I support her in whatever she chooses to do, of course, but it’s a rough go, and I hope things go as good as possible for her.
As you might imagine, the pace of my audio writing may slow down a bit as I focus on my Mom and making sure things are as good for her as possible.
Anyways, all the best to you, and thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!