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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Modding My N2

My made-in-USA Padauk Washburn N4 guitar is my main workhorse for dropped-tuning songs. Because that mean monster is expensive & rare over here, I bought a cheaper made-in-Indonesia N2 signed by my Guitar Hero Nuno Bettencourt (which is miles better than my previous made-in-China N2) for my regular dropped-tuning practice sessions while my N4 is reserved for serious performance & recording works to minimize wear & tear on it. For standard-tuning songs or anything requiring 24 frets (the N2 & N4 have 22), I use my standard-tuned Ibanez RG Prestige.

The playability of my coil-splitted N2 is heavenly because of the neck profile but its Washburn neck pickup is meh & the licensed Floyd Rose tremolo is absolutely atrocious since the tremolo bar can become looser than my grip on sanity everytime I pull up or push down on it.

Sure, I'm using my N2 as just a practice guitar but a call for some mods is in order, me thinks, since I do not wish to live with the thought that I could have improved things on that axe even for just practices but I did nothing about it.

Besides improving the hardware, the idea is also to mod my N2 so that it can sound as close as possible to my N4 even though an N2 made of alder wood can never sound exactly the same as an N4 made of padauk wood (which I've installed the coil-split mod). But hey, being as close as one could get is better than having no cigar.

And I'll bet you can figure out why I've named my N2 'Little Storm' while I gave the name 'Abysmal Gale' to my N4; Storm's big sister.

So I made an appointment with Zen Guitar at Peninsula Plaza because they carry made-in-Japan Gotoh Floyds which I know will fit into my N2 without the need for any routing. Lucky eh? Gotohs are the business.

Reaching the shop at the appointed time, I found it closed. Thinking that perhaps the shopkeeper is out for a break, I started to hang around outside the shop until it gets on my nerves that I've been waiting here long enough to grow a bit of mold on my patience. Luckily, the guy in the clothing store opposite told me I can check with Maestro Guitars, which is Zen Guitar's subsidiary shop just round the corner.

So I popped over slinging my N2 and managed to find the guy by the name of 'Ren' whom I have spoken to on the phone. So here he is in Maestro, playing an acoustic and I'm like WTF since we have an appointment. Perhaps he wanted to escape the hassle of changing Flyods but whatever.

Anyway, we both made our way back to Zen and after choosing my Floyd, I made my way over to Davis Guitar to purchase a $130 Seymour Duncan '59 neck pickup for Ren to install on my N2. Might as well let him install that for me along the way too since he's installing the Gotoh Floyd for me.

Back at Zen, I begin chatting with Ren as well as some of the customers who walked in. So this guy comes into the shop to buy a new nut to replace the cracked one on his acoustic. Answering his question that the guitar I've brought over to mod is a Washburn N2, his expression is that of 'Washburn? Must be some Ho-hum axe' as he mutters a long "Ooohhh..".

Ha, being more on a non-mainstream lower profile here, the dude just doesn't know that the Washburn N-series guitars can hold their own against the rest of the other packs here. And then some.

Doraemon Guitars At Davis Guitar Shop
Now that Ren has finished installing the Gotoh & the Seymour Duncan and it's gonna be closing time soon, we begin to test the newly modded N2 and we both think it sounds quite weird and out of phase. But because all that testing has gone past closing time, I decided to take my axe back home to try it on my own amp since I'm thinking it could just be his amp in the shop. What denial?

(Accounting Time in SGD: The Seymour Duncan '59 neck pickup cost me $130 and the Gotoh Floyd along with the installation fees for everything cost me around $300).

So when I got home and tested my N2 on my Peavey Viper amp and things still sounded funny & out of phase even after I've flipped the new neck pickup around, I brought the N2 to another shop at Peninsula Plaza on another day and got everything fixed.

The idea of using my N2 solely as my practice guitar for dropped-tuning songs went out the window after the mods. Even though it's still humbled by my N4, I think my N2 has reached a performance-worthy level and I know I can now use it too for the more serious recording & performance works.

Stoked!!! Can't be helped.

- De Lion Speaks

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Polling Day

Today is polling day. And this time round, it's not just any usual General Election which is just basically a series of walkovers. This time, it's a watershed election where every constituency except for Mr Lee's Tanjong Pagar GRC is being contested. This is a full-scale nation-wide battle and the opposition is seeing their biggest opportunity to gain more grounds for the first time ever.

The current ground sentiment seems to be a brewing cauldron of discontent and it seems that the voices speaking out have gotten much much more braver and vocal as lots of folks are hurling comments of discontent and anger (and to some extent, even hatred) against a certain party.

I actually find that to be quite shocking, especially the no-holds barred comments sections of political articles on the big bad Net. It seems like the shackles of silent fears of reprisals, real or imagined, which have existed for generations since our independence are being broken. In the past, voices of discontent were hushed and kept at a low profile within cautious whispering circles and behind closed doors. This time though, it's like a sudden massive jailbreak.

And the head honcho of the ruling party actually issued threats to the people of Aljunied GRC which quickly got turned into jokes regarding repentance and brought out defiance from the Aljunied folks instead of submission. Quite a mess but an inevitable one, me thinks; something born out of the new media; a defiant yearning for changes to the status quo and more concrete and audible say against the current policies.

And new 'heroes' like Nicole Rebecca Seah from the NSP and Chen Show Mao from The Workers' Party are winning the hearts & minds of the people with their humility and down-to-earth perspectives (though some may not agree of course, but that's alright).

People are pissed about the seemingly uncontrolled influx of foreign workers caused by seemingly too-loose open-door and labour policies that allow for any Tom, Dick & Harry to come in willy-nilly and some local folks are saying their rice bowls have been taken away from them and given to the foreigners.

And on that note, I just want to mention here that I have nothing against the foreigners, since given an opportunity for better living and earnings, anyone would be attracted to carve a better life for oneself in more promising pastures. If anything is to be blamed for this which has also given rise to overcrowding on this island-state, it's the policies, in my humble opinion.

Afterall, if the gatekeepers didn't open the gates so damn wide, it's not like the foreigners would batter their way in.

There are also other factors like the mega losses of taxpayers' monies by TH, the CPF issue as well as the obscenely inflated prices of HDB flats which are supposed to provide affordable housing for the true-blue citizens. So lots of folks are expecting the opposition parties to gain more grounds this GE.

So I have up till 1900pm to cast my vote at the polling station assigned to my block, which is just a minute's walk away at this multi-purpose hall area.

Even though it's the weekend, the absolutely worst time to go to the polling station is during the morning, since majority of the people here seem to be inflicted with the societal disease to must be first in every fucking thing they do, even if it doesn't give them any discernible or concrete advantage (my Lioness and her mum had to go in the morning and she confirmed with me regarding the huge crowd and long queue).

What, cast your vote in the afternoon and it will automatically become void?

Disclaimer: The statements above are only directed at the inconsiderate folks who don't have to work today and have no reason to rush but do so anyway for no other reason than to be the first in line, causing people who have to rush to work more time inconveniences.

So I took my own sweet time and got up in the afternoon, had a nice cup of coffee and a shower before heading to the polling station at past 1600pm. And when I got there, there was no crowd; I got to the ballot box less than a minute or so upon arrival and there was only a woman ahead of me in the queue I was in.

The Polling Station with the red-tiled roof

That night, the polling results were finalized live on national TV and the ruling party garnered 60.1% of the votes - their all-time historical low. Lots of comments were posted on Facebook as each constituency's result was announced and most of the posted comments were frustrated and cynical. I posted pieces of my mind all over the place too. And oh, they lost a GRC to the opposition for the very first time - Aljunied GRC. I wonder why.

Can I take my tongue out of my cheek now?

So who did I vote for? No telling, our votes are secret. Whoever you have voted for, irregardless if it was the ruling party or the opposition, I hope you are happy about it. If not, blame either your misjudgment or your cowardice, whichever is the case.

Correction: if you think you have casted your vote wrongly based on misjudgment, don't blame yourself too much. Just be more informed and exercise more prudence during the next election in 2016.

And open your eyes wide and look around you while you're at it.

If you have voted out of cowardice because you were too afraid to follow what you thought was right for the nation as a collective whole, rather than just your constituency, you have the next 5 years to repent.

And go grow a fucking spine while you're at it.

- De Lion Speaks

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Open Letter To The Cosmic Powers That Be At 1° North of The Equator

O' thou blasted & cruel tropical weather, what can I do to move thy conscience? How should I beseech thee so that thou wilt be willing to turn thy ear towards me and listen to my desperate cries? (note that I'm only requesting for just one ear here, is that too much to ask?)

When I raise my fist in thy face in protest, thou art unmoved. When I beg of thee to give us a moment of respite from thy murderous humidity and scorching rays from that orange blob in the Big Blue which surely rivals the heat of Hades, thou heedeth me not.Thou returneth my pleas with thy continued jeers and it's not funny, for thou art pushing us all to the brink of heatstroke and to the edge of dehydrated collapse.

In the name of Vanity Beauty, hearken unto me as I petition on behalf of our poor facial pores too which thou art causing extensive and accelerated damage to.

Verily, I saith unto thee: if thou were human, I would surely have taken orgasmic pleasure in strangling thee to death with my very own bare hands, for thou art a murderer to everything 25℃ and below.. and traveling sales reps.

There, that made me feel BETTER.

Rant over. Drink lots of water & stay cool. Pun-intended.

~The Half-Baked Lion~

Monday, May 2, 2011

House Rules Guidelines

Think I should get this & hang it at the foyer of my house and make anyone who wants to enter my home read it aloud twice before they can come in.

- De Lion Speaks