Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Basement guitared

So, this Thursday at lunchtime I finally did it.

A month or two ago I had the idea that I would bring in an extra guitar and guitar amp to work, and rock out during my lunch break.  Not every day -- just now and again.

I did some reconnisance.  Initially I had thought that I might play guitar at the first (top-most) level of the parking garage under our building.  But it turns out that a security person is posted there, to monitor the cars coming in and out.  And I didn't want to bother them.

So I decided to do it on the bottom-most level:  B3.  I looked around, and, yes -- some of the concrete pillars have electrical outlets.

And I found a location that was among a "zoned-off" area, where people park their bikes:  there were metal railings around this area, so I could set up there and be safe from cars.

But -- the international G20 meeting was coming up -- hosted downtown, near where I work -- so I didn't want to freak out the building security by doing things that were "unexpected".  So, I waited until it passed.

In the mean time, I ferried in the various components of my kit:  an electric guitar; a (very) small amplifier; an effects pedal or two, with their power adaptors; a guitar tuner; guitar cables; and an extension cord.  Also a GFI (see the postscript).

And then I waited a few days after the G20, because each lunch break I had an errand to attend to, instead of playing guitar.

But finally!  This last Thursday:  I loaded up; a co-worker (Lego Architect) was inspired to snap a photo (see above); and I headed down.

I stopped by the security person that monitored the entrance to the parking garage, to let her know what I was doing.  She didn't say "No".

Setting up only took a few minutes.  To emphasize the natural reverb, I pointed the amp away from me -- so that I'd get proportionately more "reflected" sound than "direct" sound.  And I cranked up the amp more than I usually do at home -- but then stood as far away as I could, given the length of my guitar cable.

And it sounded goooood...  :)

I rocked out for about a half hour, then packed up.  During the time that I was playing, a building maintenance guy stopped by and we chatted.  And he didn't say "No".  He was more intrigued than anything.

Once I packed up, I stopped by the security person at the entrance.  The shifts must have changed, because it was a different person.  And she didn't say "No".  In fact, she complimented me on my playing:  she said that she could hear it from where she was, and it sounded good.  She welcomed me back any time -- and she said that more people should do "random, individualistic" things.

So, yes:  I'll do this again.  :)


P.S.  For what it's worth:  used a no-name Flying V with humbuckers, into a $30 Aldi "Overdrive" pedal (which sounds much better than a $30 pedal).  

Used both the overdrive and some gain to further overdrive the solid-state "Falcon" brand amp which naturally overdrives from the get-go (no "Pre-" or "Gain" knob, just "Volume".  

The Falcon amp is oddly loud for such a small amp, and oddly full-range given the small speaker (although the cabinet is closed-back).

P.P.S. For safety, I used a Ground Fault Interruptor (GFI) -- what Aussies seem to call a "Residual Current Device" -- between my extension cord and the power outlet. 

A GFI differs from a circuit breaker (e.g. what's in most power strips):  a circuit breaker cuts off the electricity only when the current is past a certain threshhold -- that is, after you've already been electrocuted for a while.  In contrast, a GFI cuts the power when it senses that its losing power to ground (or "to 'earth' ", for the Australians) -- regardless of the amount.  So, a GFI is much safer. 

A lot of building codes now require GFIs in bathrooms -- for when people drop their hair driers into the sink.

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