Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bring your guitar to work

Usually I go for a walk on my lunch break. But it's summer, so I sometimes get sweaty during my walk. And then I have to work the rest of the day all sticky; ugh.

And, we have two conference rooms at our disposal, which are only occasionally used. And I have a lockable drawer in my desk.

And at home I've been busy in the evenings of late, such that I go weeks without playing the guitar.

(Can you see where this is going...?) :)

In a lot of ways I think like an engineer: I lay out the goals of the project; the resources, limitations, constrains, and constraints; and then try to optimize the results within that framework.

In this instance, I needed to be able to play the guitar without bothering other folks; hear myself play; minimize the additional cost outlay; minimize the storage space required; and minimize the number of parts that I'd need to store or carry. I also wanted pieces that I was not particularly sentimental about, in case of theft. And I wanted to minimize the use of 9V batteries -- so, I'd like to run off A/C if possible.

-An acoustic guitar has minimal pieces to connect (just pick it up and play!). But the sound would be distracting to people (the conference rooms are not particularly soundproofed); and the guitar body would be thicker than an electric guitar, and thus harder to store.

-Thus, an electric guitar. I chose my Hannah Montana guitar because it's easily replaced, if stolen. (BTW: it's inexpensive, reasonably well-built (it's by Washburn), and has a shorter scale (if you have small hands). However, the output is lower than most electric guitars.)

-I needed a way of getting sound out of the electric guitar. You can't just plug headphones directly into the electric guitar, because the signal is too weak: you need some sort of amplifier.

-Although I have a small-ish practice amp at home, it would be too big for my drawer at work. So, that's no good.

-Then I thought about buying a super-small amplifier, about the size of a desk calendar. But I shopped around, and I could only find something for AU$40 -- and that didn't include the A/C adaptor, which would be another AU$15 or so. And I'm trying to minimize costs.

-Then I remembered a 1990s-ish multi-effects unit that I'd bought a few years ago, but never used. Perfect! It runs off A/C, and it has a headphone jack. And because I haven't really used it, I wouldn't miss it at home.

-I have an extra, 1970s-ish pair of headphones that I never use. Perfect!

-And, I needed a guitar tuner. My tuner at home only has a microphone, not a (working) input jack. At home I just put it in front of my guitar amp. I tried putting that tuner next to the headphones -- and it **kind of** works. But not well.

-But, I found an inexpensive, clip-on tuner -- the Snark SN-1. Works well! And only AU$15 or so, including shipping -- **much** cheaper than anything I could find locally.

Tried out the set-up at home. Worked well!

Brought it in to work -- to the amusement of my co-workers. Had the set-up at work for about two weeks. Due to having to run errands during my lunch break, I've only been able to use it three or four times. But, yeah -- it works!

**Really** nice to be able to play the guitar it work. It's a great change of pace -- more than reading.


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