Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Swart STR-Tweed Amp Review

Ever notice that it is hard to find reviews of Swart amps online?  Not the corporate ones.  I mean the user reviews. Well, here is one at least.

I recently bought one from a seller on and while Reverb often bugs me to write a review of gear I buy off their site, they have no button available to write a review of my Swart amp purchase.  Nor do they email requesting a review like they do for other purchases.  I see no other reason as to why this option would not be available.  Unless, it is because Swart produces amps of such poor sound quality for such a huge price that negative reviews might affect sales.

This $1,350 amp was almost a return.  First off, besides great build quality, these Swart amps are well known for outstanding, lush spring reverb. I had a hard time getting it to work.  My unit has a quirk where the volume control effects the amount of reverb that is produced.  At first I got reverb that was barely heard.  As an experiment, I cranked the volume knob up to max and then maxed out the reverb and what did I get?  No reverb!   I have owned a lot of amps over the years but never had one where increased volume output deceases the reverb output.  This amp acts like it was wired up by somebody that should be denied access to a soldering gun!

After fiddling with the knobs and Hi/Lo gain switch, I set it to Low and the volume knob set to low.  If I want louder tones I control that from the guitar.  Finally!  Lush tube driven spring reverb from a concert hall to the bottom of a mine shaft.  Too bad this amp, as simple as it is, took so much experimentation just to arrive at its major feature.  Nobody should have to have to go thru this nonsense.  

I am still researching the sound quality, trying different settings, pedals an guitars.  Often it sounds harsh and boxy and is in need of a compressor pedal to balance runaway frequencies.  Overall, it is crude.  Does run quiet enough for recording but hums badly at higher volume levels where tube breakup is supposed to be its other great feature.  In fact, I never got any tube distortion.  The reverb, once you figure out how it works, is the only redeeming value and there is no need to pay over $1,000 for that.

The amp came with no warranty documentation in the box.  Never saw any warranty information on the web site either.  Highly unprofessional to market a product at this price range and not provide the owner with warranty guarantee.  No amp cover either.

I would sell the Swart but I don't want anybody else to be stuck with it.

Ultimately, boutique amps are specialty audio equipment, hand built and wired and priced high to imply something "special" about them since they are built retro.  In this case, superb construction combined with weird features and crude audio hardly ranks as special.  At this price point, there are much better options in the $1,000 range.   

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yes, Barack Obama is a Muslim

Recent polls indicate a large number of Americans, 29% view president Barak Obama as a Muslim and not a Christian.  The mainstream media act appalled at this finding.  Maybe because of their constant support of Obama, the alleged Christian man.  Even callers to conservative talk shows, the very shows that feature Obama's biggest critics, don't last very long if the dare call Obama a Muslim.  They are instantly cut off.  In the end, all factions of the media in the United States treat Barak Obama's religious affiliations as unworthy of discussing.  It's about as toxic as the birth certificate issue and they seem to go to great lengths to dismiss any notion of Obama being a Muslim.

This was evidenced on CNN on the morning of September 18, as the host was discussing presidential candidate Donald Trump not correcting a man at a town hall meeting for (having the audacity) to call Obama a Muslim and a foreigner.  The host made sure Obama was referred to as, "our Christian president..."  CNN then featured a young female Islamic expert who wrote it all off as "Islamophobia."  That of course is the catchword of the day...Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia.  It's a word used to end a debate.  You disagree with me so you must be a hater.  Never mind that Europe has fought 10 major wars with Muslim armies from 711 AD till 1699, with the spectacular defeat of Islamic hordes at Vienna in 1683.  Russia has fought at least nine wars on their own.  Dozens of other wars were fought by other countries in the region, all started by Islamic belligerence. 

But is Barak Obama a Muslim?  Under Islamic law he is.  All one needs is to have one parent that is a Muslim and a child burn into such a family is considered a Muslim for life.  He is granted this thru his father, a Kenyan born Muslim.  The CNN Muslim expert should have known this but never mentioned a word regarding it. The whole thing is becoming  something that is not allowed to be uttered in public.  The mainstream press will have a hissy fit over this issue if anybody raises this issue.

The US media loves Obama.  They have a lot invested in his image which he has carefully crafted thru them.  The idea that he is a total fraud is abhorrent to them.  Hence, their fanaticism about squashing anyone who thinks he is.  

For a man that claims to be a "devout Christian" he doesn't act like one.  But as stated in Matthew, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them..."  Barak Obama is habitual liar and is consistently duplicitous in his actions.  He has little or nothing to do with the Christian faith.  Never attends church except for a media showing at Easter; criticizes Christianity at a prayer breakfast for the Crusades never mentioning the conflict was started by the Muslims; skips the National Prayer Breakfast one year so he could host an Islamic prayer breakfast instead and spends most of December on vacation during the Christmas holidays so as not to participate in them.

Obama is so comfortable with deception he employs almost every time he opens his mouth.  Regardless of what one believes, lying is unethical.  But Islam teaches Muslims that it's not a sin to lie to an "unbeliever" (i.e., non-Muslim). What true follower of Christ's teachings would behave like this?  A Muslim would.  When Christians are being ruthlessly persecuted around the world it's painfully apparent that Obama has little to say or do about it.  

If not a Muslim he certainly has an affinity for their faith and customs.  In speeches he is constantly patronizing this religion, making up nonsense about how tolerant they are of other faiths.  What Christian man when swore in as president has to have not only a Bible to place his hand on, but a Koran as well?   He's upped the amount of Muslim refugees and immigrants entering the United States to around 200,000 a year.  How many Muslim immigrants is enough?  And he makes sure they are settled in heavily Christian and conservative politically areas of the country, i.e., the Red States. 

On September 25, 2012 Obama gave a speech at the United Nations.  Regarding religious issues he said, "The future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."  He then followed up similar words about Jesus but Christ (oddly, not the mentioning the faith in, but the images of Jesus instead) comes last.  Again, what Christian man does that?  As I was once told by a Muslim friend, in Islam, Jesus is regarded as the second highest prophet under Mohammed.  One can see Obama's order of placement of these two great religious figures.  He is telling us where his heart lies.

Here are more examples of Barak Obama being Muslim friendly:

  • Reportedly had told an Egyptian Foreign Minister that, “I am a Muslim.” (Nile TV)
  • Wears a Muslim ring that denies Christ.  Also, does not wear it during the month of Ramadan, per Muslim custom not to wear jewelry during this Muslim time of fasting.
  • Surrounds himself with Muslim advisors and appoints Muslims to top positions in the Federal government bureaucracy. 
  • Consistently refers to the Koran as the "Holy Koran."  He rarely refers to the Bible as holy.
  • Openly mocks Bible passages.  Never mocks any passage from Islamic scripture.
  • Refuses to admit that most international terrorism is spawned from the teachings of Islam.
  • Obama ordered the United States Postal Service to honor a Muslim holiday with a commemorative stamp.
  • Orders NASA to start a Muslim outreach, stating that it should be their "foremost mission."  Shouldn't space exploration be the Foremost Mission?
  • Obama gives speeches as Christian Universities and demands Christian symbols to be covered up.  He does not make the same demands at Islamic events.
  • Obama always hosts the Eid al-Fitr dinner to signal the end of the Muslim month of fasting called Ramadan.
  • Obama issues Asylum Decree rules that favors Muslims over Christians and makes it more difficult for persecuted Christians to enter the USA.
  • “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.”  Muslims refer to Islam as “revealed."
  • In front of a grouping of African leaders Obama used the Muslim "Shadada" hand sign, the upraised index finger with thumb resting on the middle finger.

Much more could be written here regarding Barack Obama and his Islamic sympathies and support.  All examples here show a man with a great connection to the Muslim faith.  He was certainly listed as one as a child when he lived in Indonesia under the name of Barry Soetoro.  It is unknown if he is a practicing Muslim, praying in the direction of  Mecca five times a day.  He may one day reveal his real faith at some later date.  The reader should get a closer understanding of Obama's affinity for Islam and how he helps them at every chance he gets.  To think of Obama as a Muslim is not a far-fetched idea.  In fact, Christianity gets no similar attention or support from him.

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them..." 

Gates of Vienna  (Excellent!)

Reasons why Obama is a Muslim

Obama, 2012 UN speech

Obama, 2014 UN speech

Muslim evidence in United Nation Speech

Obama Muslim ring...'THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH'

Obama's New Asylum Decree Favors Muslims Over Christians

Islam revealed...

Shadada hand sign...

Obama has a 72% approval rating amongst Muslims.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The State of Apocalyptic Literature

Nothing like impending doom and the destruction of civilization to make for entertaining reading, movies, video games and TV shows.  It's a popular brand of fiction that has been around a long time.  Probably the earliest example is Mary Shelley's The Last Man, published in 1824.  Since then there has been a steady stream of apocalyptic literature:  The Stand, Lucifer’s Hammer, A Canticle For Leibowitz, I Am Legend, On The Beach, One Year After, The Drowned World, Alas Babylon, The Postman, The Hunger Games, Divergent–the list is endless.

And why this fascination?  It's apparently a popular form of fiction as new novels on this subject are cranked out just about every year.  Rather than speculate about other readers I'll talk about my interest.  For me, it's interesting to see a different way of living.  Sort of a return to the old ways of life without indoor plumbing, electricity, speedy travel and communication, refrigeration, internet...all the things that enhance and add comfort to our lives.  It's observing how the good people maintain order without creating a police state.  It's also about scrutinizing human nature and seeing how quickly normal, law abiding people quickly turn to their baser instincts.  And it's not a myth–one can see the breakdown occurring at most natural disasters or the aftermath of war.  Most authors of the apocalypse generally get this right.  

Of course it's a world none of us would want to live in.  Unless you are a survivalist loner.  Constantly searching for food, or trying to harvest it from a poisoned landscape would indeed be a hard scrabble life and one not long lived.  Constantly looking over your shoulder for possible attacks or robberies; continually having do defend what you possess; dealing with health emergencies with little or no medical treatment available; burying family and friends as they die in the aftermath of total ruination.  My main interest is seeing how people cope with all of this hardship and get thru it.  I suspect that is the main interest of the authors writing such stories.  Let us all hope and pray it never happens. 

What follows is a run down of some of the apocalyptic novels I read and my comments on them.  It's not meant to be a best of, and it is by no means final; I'll add more books to the collection in time.  So stop back in the future for updates.

The Stand by Stephen King
One Apocalyptic Novel to Rule Them All

Stephen King once remarked how dismayed he was that so many people told him how The Stand was their favorite novel, despite all of the best sellers he's churned out over the past  30 years.  Never the less, The Stand is epic story telling featuring the age old conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil in the aftermath of a weaponized flu outbreak and it never gets any better than this.  Featuring great characters such as the Godly Mother Abigail to the creepy demonic Randall Flagg, the narrative is as big as the landscape stretching from the northeastern area of the USA, across the rocky mountains, to the desert sands of Nevada.  It is to King's talent as a fiction author that he breathes so much life into his characters and the story itself.  He can make the supernatural, seem natural. 

It's King's biggest novel, at 1,200 pages and is good to the last drop. Published in 1978 it was updated with additional narrative in 1990.  If you have not read it I recommend the later version.  King has been criticized for unsatisfying endings.  He almost did it in The Stand but managed to pull it off at the end.  One thing that always interested me about the story is how the evil and seemingly undefeatable Randall Flagg gathers an army of misfits, losers, and social outcasts to his side but in the end, they are ultimately his undoing.  And how fitting is that?  

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Politically Correct Version of Apocalypse

This novel could also be dubbed the "chick-lit" version of the apocalypse as well. The story starts out promising enough about a troupe of post-apocalypse Shakespearean actors traveling to and fro among isolated communities presenting the plays of the great Bard.  It's a cool idea really, and an interesting take on this genre of fiction.  But ultimately, it bogs down on the weight of the author's own pretentious and misdirected thematic direction.

One of the characters, a famous actor, dies early on before the killer flu breaks out and his life is revisited in flash backs throughout the story.  Why, I have no idea since he must be one of the most boring literary figures to ever appear in print.  What a waste of paper! One of the characters keeps a scrap book of clippings on this man.  What on earth for?  Is the post-apocalyptic world this dull?  It is in this version of world's end.

The second issue is the title of the book, drawn from a graphic novel of the same name.  Oh how cool!  I kid.  Some of the characters obsess over it.  I never understood what was so special about this comic book or why any of the characters cared about it.  It seems to have no relevance to the plot and it's not a guide to where anybody needs to go.  When a central object is a ring, a sword, or whatever, it forms in the mind's eye more clearly and carries the weight and purpose of the narrative.  Describing printed graphics is off-putting and it's hard to visualize what the art really looks like and what impact it is supposed to have.

And finally all the agendas.  The females are strong, decisive, intelligent and virtuous.  The men are bunch of spineless sissies who blunder about like a bunch of dullards being outwitted and led by the highly intelligent and resourceful women.  What a poor specimen of manliness they all are.  They resemble a bunch of trendy metrosexuals.  The only remotely strong male figures are the bad guys but like the other men in the story the females outwit them.  Anyway, this is all part of the modernist writers and their rearranging of gender rolls in making women appear almost super human or god-like.  Strong female characters are great!  But come on, we need a reasonable balance here.  

Overall...promising but not enough post-apocalypse story telling that quickly fades into a bore of things better left alone.

One Second After by William R. Forstchen
EMP Apocalypse

One lady in this tome remarks, "Sometimes I feel like a character in a bad novel."  Sorry to inform you dear Character, but this is your eternal home!  Let that line be a good example of what you aspiring writers out there should never use in a story.  It might blow back on you!  While the highly educated William R. Forstchen may be well versed in the technology involving an EMP attack, which fries all electronics and sends the modern world back to the dark ages, fiction writing is apparently not his forte.  It's an example of how career flipping sometimes fails and one should stick to their chosen field of endeavor.  The story reads like a first novel (which it is not), the one you write to get some experience but have enough good sense to never publish.  His characters are bland–they don't live and breathe. Their dialogue comes off stilted and lacking in natural flow.  And speaking of that, in the tablet version, two characters have a conversation that lasts for around nineteen pages.  Oh my!  I skipped most of that blather and don't feel bad because of it.  

A good book to read about how an EMP works but the rest is typical post apocalyptic battle lore where the barbarians show up for your stuff and your women and you have to kill them all.

One side note...I was really annoyed how he treated my home state of Florida.  It got hurt the worse in the disaster with some sort of poisoning of the ocean.  Oh come on!  There are thousands of lakes, ponds, creeks and so on to fish out of not to mention a steady supply of wild game.  Really, we would survive far better than his characters located in the NC mountains.  Can you farm up there in the winter? No, and in fact, it’s hard to farm at all in the mountains.  Here, we can grow vegetables and fruit all year long.  Abundant game, livestock, fish in the’s the author’s biggest goof.

World War Z by Max Brooks
Zombie Apocalypse!

Haven't we had our fill of zombies?  Not by a long shot!  Zombies have come to possess our fears of future ruination  with a touch of horrible bizarreness.  They pop up all over the place in popular culture from movies, TV shows, comic books, video games, to an unending publication of novels.  Like a wave of shuffling zombies it just keeps on coming.

Max Brooks's account of a zombie apocalypse is quite original with a novel that reads basically as a series of after action reports.  No set of characters reappear throughout the story so each report is different.  Brooks documents the ebb and flow of a world wide bizarro zombie conflict in such a realistic manner you have to remind yourself this is fiction, not a history of a real event.  The zombie war features patient zero outbreak, techniques and survival of individuals, military tactics to stave off the undead hordes, the psychological effects on the survivors, and all manner of interesting lore. 

Ultimately, a great entry in the apocalypse genre.

And the movie.  It's just okay.  Stick to the book.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Shooting, Flying and Fornicating in the Post-Apocalypse!

This version of the post-apocalypse comes down to a bunch of gunning, flying and sexing.  The lead character survives the end of the world to fly around in a single engine plane in Colorado with his dog.  How cute!  Dog characters rarely survive in stories like this so shed your tears now.  The lone survivor sets up sniper nests to shoot the bad people when they come up to his house with the porch light on.  Bang!  How is that for the cowardly dispatching of the bad guys?  His ex-army buddy on the other side aides in shooting them too.  The violence charges on with little sympathy for the victims, or guilty conscience among the shooters.  Eventually the sole survivor meets up with a hottie living on the mountainside with her daddy.  Nothing like love among the ruins though you can hardly call this book a post-apocalypse romance novel.  It all ends rather abruptly with the good people surviving at the end but with nowhere to go.  There is no there, there.  Where is the character development?  Where is the big plot reveal?  Who are these people anyway?  I was left wanting more and not getting it.

One thing I did find disappointing, and a bit annoying, is that in the book's Reading Group Guide is a list for other Apocalypse novels to read.  The Stand is not on the list.  That's an offense.  Oh well, all interested readers in this type of fiction know and have most likely read The Stand by now.  At least somebody can write a classic of the form, something that alludes Mr. Heller.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Post Apocalypse Doom and Gloom

Probably the most depressing of apocalypse novels listed here.  The end of the world as we know it doesn't get any darker and grittier than this.  The story involves the travels of a father and his son.  Together, they travel thru a ruined landscape of gloomy skies, distant rumblings, bad people, cannibals, and a constant scavenging for food.  McCarthy never tells the reader what the names of the two characters are what caused the end to come.  Despite being the darling of the lit critics, and a hipster of modern prose, McCarthy forgoes quotation marks for his dialogue. How's that for hip prose writing?  It's up to you to suss out who is talking to who.  I guess the old way of doing it is for the throwbacks that still love pecking away at their manual Underwoods.  I'm suspecting that Cormac McCarthy fancies himself some kind of cool dude.  Only too cool for school since he isn't going by the normal literary rules of serve and volley.  Despite all of that independence, he actually won a literary award for his dark story.  

Having said all of that, this novel is high up in the cannon of  apocalyptic fiction.  The movie is a very accurate portrayal of the book.  God help us if any of this ever comes true.  

Swan Song by Robert M. McCammon
The Supernatural Apocalypse Mixed with Mad Max

Often compared to King's The Stand and deservedly so.  Also often said, if you like The Stand you'll like this too.  I sure did.  Robert M. McCammon's version of the apocalypse features interesting characters dealing with episodes of supernatural and magical events, warring armies of survivors, and mixed with great hardship for all.  Yes, Swan is a special little girl with supernatural powers to guide them all thru the holocaust. (Mmm...I wonder where McCammon got that character sketch from?)  The main plot revolves around three bands of survivors: A shape shifting Randall Flagg type entity in pursuit of a homeless woman with a magical jewel; a former soldier with a whiz kid; and a giant pro wrestler teamed up with Swan.

Robert M. McCammon demonstrates his skill as a very good fiction writer.  His dialogue and pacing is well focused and his characters are fully realized with noticeable personality types, each with their own speech patterns.  He chronicles concise backgrounds on his characters, but not long, rambling bios.  Because of this, the narrative isn't bogged down and the story takes flight at a good pace.  His handling of a nuked out world with adverse weather, bizarre lighting, endless destruction, and dangerous people and animals is very well rendered.  

Highly recommended.

The End by G. Michael Hoff
EMP Apocalypse...Again!

Now there is an appropriate title for an apocalyptic story.  They could all be named that. What G. Michael Hopf does in The End is make One Second After look good. Which also means it's that bad.  

Authors have learned that when approaching a subject of this scale to concentrate their energies on a hand full of survivors.  Robert M. McCammon did in Swan Song and so Hopf does here concentrating on his main character, a former Marine with his family; his brother in the Marines overseas; and lastly, a Speaker of the House drafted to be president since DC has gotten nuked and the real president and vice president have been vaporized.  And off the story goes running, with the usual mayhem of societal breakdown after the EMP occurs and modern life comes to a grinding halt.

Probably the worst part novel is the main character, Gordon Van Zandt.  The ex-Marine starts out as a tender family man only to quickly turn into a cold blooded killer, shooting unarmed men and then robbing them.  The hero is sociopath with no remorse where the ends justifying the means.  Van Zandt at one point gets a man to surrender by telling him he won't hurt him.  Then shoots him anyway.  How can the reader root for a monster like this?

All writers have their quirks in their writing.  With Hopf, he has the habit of mentioning a character's height when introducing them and most of them are tall.  The men mainly and the women rarely.  It borders on being obsessive and after a while, hilarious.  Apparently the author considers the short characters somehow disadvantaged as if they lost life's lottery on tallness.  However, the author notes that they make up for it with "colorful" personalities, as if the shorties need some kind of redemption.  With every new person introduced I waited for the height report and Hopf never failed to deliver.  Frankly, this displays a tad of amateurism on the author's part.  Too much repetition.  A no-no for professionals.

G. Michael Hopf could easily be the character in the Beatles's tune, Paperback Writer. He has a pot-boiler writing style and one could almost envision him at his Underwood cranking them out. And in fact, he does, since The End (apparently not really the end...) is the first book in the four-book, New America Series.  These are self-published books and this first volume features poor editing, awkward and redundant sentence construction, amateurish dialogue, and minimal character development.  One can hope he got an editor for the following volumes.  A language arts teacher would do nicely as I discovered for my self-published novel. 

I would avoid this one.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Vampire Apocalypse!

Author Richard Matheson proves himself an able writer of prose.  In this account of civilization’s end, a bacterium causes humanity to convert to the classic vampire meme. Matheson creates a plausible vampirism biology which his lead character investigates for a cure.

The hero of the story Robert Neville, must withstand nightly attacks in his fortified house while resisting the urge to give up. Neville is haunted by the loss of his wife and daughter and often turns to drink. This novel is a classic study in isolation and Matheson accurately relates Neville’s loss, pain, and loneliness as he questions his desire to go on amid the chaos of the bizarre world he is cast in.

Once again, the movie starring Will Smith is nothing like the novel.  Hollywood just uses the title. Too bad as the story presented here is so much better than the one they invented for the movie.  Plus, the novel's ending explains what I Am Legend means.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Femdom Dystopia!

It's seems fiction of late with strong female leads just can get any balance.  Just like Ocean Eleven's modern feminist agenda, Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy suffers the same fate.  The strong main character, Katniss, is so dominating she could just be called Super Girl with a bow and be done with it.  As per the script, the females are virtuous and brave and the men are either villainous or spineless wimps and cut outs.  The archetype here is: A strong man is an evil man. 

In this post apocalyptic world where what is left of civilization is divided into districts ruled by a central government.  Since food is in short supply a competition is devised to have children and teens fight each other to the death in a nationally televised event to win food for their district.  It's all heavily hyped to the population at large, like a bizarre dystopian version of a Super Bowl game.  The kids, picked by lottery and treated as pampered stars, are trained in combat and weapons and how to murder one another. 

And this trilogy of books is marked as a children's book series!   A totally creepy idea.

The heroine of the story, Katniss, does what nobody else can do–beat a rigged system and out wit its software and special effects.  She not only wins but saves a boy she's partnered with, Peeta, who like other spineless males, needs her help to get thru it all.  She then goes on to become the leader of a resistance movement.  More bloodshed follows.  Is Suzanne Collins is trying to show kids that violence solves problems?  It does in this dark dystopian tale.

Never the less, this best selling trilogy has won critical acclaim from the usual typists in the mainstream media who typically review fiction like this with little regard to moral considerations or the message being sent to young people–a story of morbidity, of torture, and of killing people, even the most innocent, to feed your family.

Really, it reads like End Times fiction until our own real-life End Times dawns on us.

Stay tuned...more to come...

All books mentioned in this piece are available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes iBooks, and Kindle. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

DiPinto Guitars And The Fender-Gibson Hegemony

DiPinto Galaxie 2s

When I saw my first DiPinto guitar I thought...this is the guitar the Jetsons would play.  A guitar with a really funky design with graceful curves and rounded horns.  The oversized headstock added to a cartoon look and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  Just cool and different.  I then started searching the Net looking for everything I could find on DiPinto guitars.  The model I first saw and would later buy, was the DiPinto Galaxie 2s in green sparkle finish.

The DiPinto story is an interesting one based on typical American ingenuity and innovation.  A young guitar player, Chris DiPinto, is a lefty and had a hard time getting left handed instruments.  He also had a love of offbeat guitar design. The kind of guitars found pawn shops with obscure names, odd designs, and more knobs and switches than they should have had.  The solution?  Make your own.  Soon others starting seeing his guitars in performance and wanted one too.  As Chris said in an interview, all he wanted to do was make guitars and own a guitar factory.  His dream came true.

Galaxie 2s signature headstock.

Overall, quite good for an Asian made guitar.  Really, we need to stop looking down our noses at guitars built over there.  My Squire 50’s Classic Vibe Telecaster is built in Fender’s facility in China and it’s the best Telly I’ve ever owned.  DiPinto guitars are built in South Korea and with Chris and his American luthiers doing the final set-up.  Each guitar is checked out by Chris and an inspection card comes in the box with guitar.

The glossy green sparkle finish is condensed with only close inspection revealing it.  The maple neck is finished in satin, my personal preference for necks.  Nice and smooth, thin and fast.  

Another of my preferences is smooth fret ends and Galaxie 2s has fret ends are properly tapered and dressed.  You won’t get scraped up traveling up and down the neck playing this guitar.  On the green Galaxie model, the body is mahogany with a dark rosewood fretboard.  The guitar itself has some heft but not boat anchor heavy.  The action was good right out of the box. 

The parts are all nicely finished of quality materials especially the tremolo assembly.  I did notice that the bridge pickup is not sitting level with a light tilt up towards the treble side.  The neck pickup sets level.  Since these guitars are examined and set up before shipping to dealers I found this to be a bit peculiar but I’ve left it alone for now.  There seems to be no lasting effect in regards to tone.  It may have gotten out of whack in the shopping.  It was shipped in a thin cardboard box, which the dealer didn’t seem fit to double box.  (I always do in selling a used guitar, without a case, and they always arrive safely.)

Close up of Galaxie body shape.

The Sound
My first thoughts after plugging it in was how reminiscent the sound was of a Telecaster. But not really.  Using two DiPinto branded single coil pickups, its sound is not as bright as a Tele and there is no twang.  The pickup selections are similar to a Telecaster with a neck, bridge, and then both selected.  So far, my favorite selections are the neck, or the bridge, selected separately, with the neck being my favorite of the two.  For some reason, the neck pickup sounds louder.  On the other hand, the bridge pickup features some nice spank, only to my ear, cleaner without being rawboned.  Both pickups together sound a bit too diffused.
Overall, just simple, clean bright tone designed for surf music but I think it can find a home with many different music styles.  I like older stuff like Bluebell and Mr. Sandman and the Galaxie sounds perfect on those tunes.  I’m not a surf music guy but with the clean tones, I’m already getting ideas for all kinds of musical exploration.  

For me, the Galaxie 2s is real keeper and a pleasant surprise in feel, playability and great tone.  Would love to add another DiPinto in the future if they are going to be this nice.  I hope someday to see a Galaxie 2s in red.  Currently, they are in cream and sunburst finish. 

And if the Galaxie 2s is not your thing, their site offers a dozen different guitars with at least three basses and note that DiPinto guitars are very lefty friendly.  

Maybe to some people DiPinto guitars are deemed to niche instruments.  As with Taylor, all they need is some well known musicians (or soon to be well known) to play these instruments and off they will go.  I do like the fact that it’s a small company that produces these instruments and takes a great deal of care to make sure their guitars go out set up correctly.

Overall, DiPinto guitars offer a great alternative to the Fender/Gibson nexus in regards to affordability, style, and sound.  I hope they can break on thru and be the next great American electric guitar.


The Site

Interview with Chris DiPinto at NAMM 2010.

2013 interview with Chris DiPinto.

Latest interview 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nice Guys Finish Last on Dating Sites

Some of the charming ladies found on dating sites.
Just enter “online dating sucks” in Google and you will get over three million hits.  Very telling, right?  I remember the early days as the Internet took off in popularity, it was real easy to meet women online, back back then (1996) the meeting place was either Usenet newsgroups or pen pal sites.  In fact, most of my internet based relationships (and hence, long distance) were thru a pen pal site, a Christian based one.  It didn’t take long for dating web sites to appear.  

I’ve read that women are so barraged with emails that they can be selective with whom they respond with.  That must be true because I rarely get an email answered.  I realize I am not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s getting to be a total blackout.  I’ve read this is a major complaint from men regarding online dating and the complaint is reflected in their profiles. These days I just sit back and wait for somebody to write me.  I don’t mind waiting weeks for that to happen.  Sending polite messages to women who I think I have a lot in common with and getting nothing but a profile view is gotten to be so frustrating, why bother? 

To back this up, a while back OkCupid listed on profiles what a person’s response rate was.  I was on the site one day and over 20 profiles were listed as, “rarely responds” with just a few women listed as responding back.  They dumped that feature.  Obviously, it’s going to be hard to get paying customers for the upper tier features if they know the response rate is that bad. (See Cupid on Trial below for more on this.) 

Getting a response back is rare it’s a delight when one comes!  You are supposed to write people that you have similar interests with so you can have a conversation starter. Sounds good in theory but in real-world application, forget about it.  It often doesn’t work.  I’ve had women list me in their “favorites” list on PoF which I assume is a sign of interest.  When I’ve written them a nice return message, nothing.  This has happened twice.  What is this, a hobby?  I’ve had women write me and if I was not interested I would send them a polite “not interested” email and I’ve never had a woman do that for me in return.  In my age group they are mostly divorced, mostly aging badly, and in an age group where men are not standing in line for them.  And with all of that, they are unmoved and picky as when they were 21 and considerably more attractive.

The greatest mystery to me is why do some of these women stay on these sites for years on end.  Some women have been sites such as Plenty of Fish for over 6 years with the same profile and with often the same pictures on display.  If this is not working, why stay on a dating site this long?

So the word is out.  Woman basically do not respond to messages sent to them.  

(I should note of late, women are getting picky about who the respond to on pen pal sites as well.  And it’s just platonic friends!)

Farmer’s Only
I have to mention them specifically because they are one of the worst dating sites I’ve ever experienced.  Supposedly set up for isolated rural singles many women don't appear to be that country.  The rural dating site with the down-home TV ads, Farmer’s Only allows for free generic messages to be sent called “flirts.”  I got one once from a CherryB that featured the message, “You email me and I’ll email you back.”  Boy, was I duped!  I paid my $21.95 (now six dollars more) and sent a regular intro message to this lady and waited.  And waited some more.  Never got a response.  I emailed her one more time, a polite message to see what happened, and no more response from her.  True, she may have had a change of heart, but I kept feeling it was a fake message sent to spur me into buying a membership.  It’s quite possible this woman had no interest in me and site’s code generated the flirt message to inspire me to pay up.  If so, it worked.  But it will never happen again.  (Of note, CherryB’s profile is still on there after over a year with the same picture on display.  It’s unclear if this is a real profile or not.  In January of this year the site was showing she viewed my profile on a day when I visited the site and never saw the visit posted then, or many days afterward.  The view has since disappeared and then showed her again viewing my profile at around 2 AM in February.  Then disappeared again.  Wonky code at work.)

I got off the site seven months ago but recently got back on to see any new trends on the site (oh, and your profile is never deleted once you leave, it’s stored on their server forever).  Nothing has changed except it’s more expensive.  The site design is as cruddy and minimally featured as usual.  The coding seems to be in a state of decay as information will disappear and then reappear a few days later.  I had one person’s visit to my profile, email notice, and “like” notice disappear.  She may have left the site.  People will be listed as having viewed your profile on days when you were on and never noticed them, or they might disappear, the end result of a poorly coded database of what is going on regarding your profile on the web site. Or, just coded for false traffic.  Also, many of the members that were there over a year ago were still there with the same pictures on display (this is true on other sites too--some women on Plenty of Fish have the same pictures up from 6-7 years ago).  Other members appear to live on the site 24 hours a day or are shown to be on the site at odd times of the day when they should be at work.  

Many people complain of being ripped off by Farmer’s Only, being billed for memberships they don’t want and not getting a refund when requested.  What is really happening is that if you pay for one month of membership it’s turned on thereafter.  A user has to go the “Manage your Subscription” section under the Account Settings and turn it off.  Or else, your card will be billed  in perpetuity.  So watch the fine print. 

(Also, foreign ISP’s are blocked. So don’t try to access the site during international travel.) 

UPDATE:  Farmer’s Only now blurs over profiles of everybody that views your profile, ‘like’ messages, or sends an email.  Where is the incentive to being a paying member to see who is checking you out or sending a message?  Another authoritarian move from this outfit.  My account there is

Cupid On Trial
Jon Millward’s blog posted a revealing article in June of 2012 regarding a test he conducted, using dummy profiles on OkCupid to test the success that men and women might receive there (click HERE).  Photos were selected of five women and five men all of differing degrees of attractiveness.  All were caucasian.  At least a few were overweight.  All of the profiles had generic information posted about each person.  No messages sent to the dummy accounts were ever answered. 
The results were interesting.  Women got a (not surprising) far larger response.  In 24 hours, the women got a total of 90 hits.  The men got 2 hits and those went to one man only.  Ouch!  After 7 days the women’s responses outnumbered the men 17 to 1.  And at least three of the men received no messages at all.  One of the women got 236 emails.  The second highest was 128. 

So there you have it gentlemen, this little experiment confirms the sum of our fears regarding dating sites.  They rarely write back if you write them.  There are no minorities in the test so it’s unknown how different the results might be if they were included.  

However, their summery of the data doesn’t make sense.  As stated:  “In the end men and women probably do have it about equal, it’s just a bit different for each.”

That statement contradicts the data presented.  A 17 to 1 ratio and it’s about equal?  I think not.  Obviously, women have it much easier getting contacts from men, at least on OkCupid.  The data presented, if accurate, should scare off any man from being a paying member.  

I cannot comment in regards to men’s profiles on dating sites so I don’t know what women go thru except for reading about dishonest, nutty, or over-sexed men contacting them.  

Many women are setting themselves up for failure.  Some profiles are written up to show a nice person there, even if that sweet heart is filled with romantic notions she should have discarded after getting past the age of thirty or the first divorce.  Others are Nurse Ratchets, bitter and bossy.  The Nurse Ratchets demand that a man chew his food with his mouth closed; bath more than once a week; not lick his fingers at the table; brush his teeth often and so on.  As if the only available men just emerged from the stone age.  Yes, computer literate cave men.

Some women are hung up about looks.  Remember where you have landed ladies...on a dating site on the internet.  Your chances of meeting a real, live man in real life, is dim.  Men are deemed shallow if they discount a woman in regards to her appearance, in particular weight (and let it be noted that women are the harshest judges of beauty of other women).  Yet woman are very comfortable in their shallow view of men.  They hate beards, baldness, weight, height (a biggie), and a whole host of other physical features.  

Other women narrow the field of available men by demanding they have similar interests.  Such as golfing, horse riding, motorcycle riding, jogging and so on.  Nurse Ratchet will say, “If you don’t golf, don’t bother emailing me.”  I certainly hope they don’t complain later about not being able to meet men online if only golfers are in the running.  The act as if they want a male copy of themselves.  Nothing better than me, than another me!

Cherry Blossoms is a site where there is a lot of action for men.  The only catch is the women are mostly Filipinas and they are mostly impoverished, and they are all too far away.  They tend to be aggressive and sent out emails to anybody of any age group.  Even 18-year-old girls throw themselves at men of any age.  If you are in your 50s or 60s and want a teenage child-bride there is the place to go.  As opposed to American women, these girls will mostly answer emails so most men should have no trouble getting in contact with women there.  Just remember what you are getting into.

I’ve heard the Filipinas make good wives but one has to precede with caution with Asian women.  Many are ready to hook up with any man of any age to get out of the grinding poverty in the Philippines.  A man will need to get a passport, travel over there, and then pay and apply for a fiancee visa.  And wait it out.

The Chinese women are quite beautiful, mostly well educated and seem to have good English skills.  They are friendly and will generally answer emails. But I noticed that most of their profile photos are all professionally done.  Being a photographer I know professional lighting and backdrops when I see them.  I suspect this is a red flag.  There is a huge male to female ratio in China so I wonder why they would be on a dating site, unless they have a preference for western men.  Seriously, it would be a good avenue to send agents over here to gather information.  Don’t laugh...intelligence agencies employ all kinds of data gathering assets.

So There You Have It
Good luck!  It’s a jungle out there with false profiles, false traffic to trick you into to paying up, women who don’t for a multitude of reasons don’t or won’t reply to emails, to women who do and the whole thing runs out of steam before you can even meet them.  I just basically try to write up a good profile that attracts interest and let them write me.  They do in time.

To be fair, online dating isn’t good for men or women.  I’ve read lots of stories about women dealing with sex obsessed males that hit women up for a romp only, which is a total turn off.  Many men have severe personal issues from criminal backgrounds to drug abuse and lie to cover up a shady past.  Some men have issues with women and go on these sites to take cheap shots at them.  

Most men should understand when trying to contact women on these sites that you are not going to be everybody’s cup of tea.  It’s only after a while that you realize that you are nobody’s cup of tea!

So, precede with caution.  You might get lucky.

Update  4.2.15
Ended my accounts on Plenty of Fish, Okcupid, and Farmer's only.  What a good feeling!  I have found it's easier to meet women on pen pal sites.  None local but they are as a group, much friendlier than women on dating sites.  You can actually meet somebody to have a conversation with.  Maybe that is because they are not Americans?

Update  4.2.15
Though I had decided to not to get on these single sites again, low and behold, I was tempted to try Our Time after seeing the ads.  I found quickly, it's the same old song and dance.  The same flood of apparently false traffic, local users viewing my profile at odd hours of the night (two local women at 3 AM?  Please...), added to lots of favorite lists, and other nonsense.  Badly coded site as well, though not as bad as Farmer's Only.  Every time I login I'm told I have 9 minutes to sign up now.  Got back in an hour and the same countdown start all over again.  Pressure to pay up?  Not like that. That should play once for one login, not off and on all day.

See a detailed review of the site and user experiences HERE.  I've never seen so many negative comments for a dating web site.


Cupid On Trial

Why I’m Quitting Online Dating

Online Dating Sucks For Men Because Of Women Like Me

Our Time review and user comments

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Icon For Tyranny

The America those of us were born and raised in is apparently over.  The London Guardian (link below) reports of a "black site" for "off-the-books interrogation" at Homan Square in Chicago.  People have reportedly died there.  People report being shackled to a wall for hours on end.  Due process rights, Miranda rights, civil rights, all ignored.  

Interesting that it too the foreign press to reveal this.  Once again, America's mainstream press has let down the public.

'Gestapo' tactics at US police 'black site' ring alarm from Chicago to Washington

Monday, January 19, 2015

What’s Wrong With the Teeth?

On the night of November 20, 2014 President Barak Obama gave his much anticipated speech regarding immigration.  However, as I watched the the speech I noticed something didn’t seem right with the President’s teeth.  Those perfect pearly whites were different.  There were gaps, some teeth seemed crooked.  I got out my my digital SLR and started shooting pictures right off the screen.  I have no DVR to record the speech.  On display here is the results of these photos.  The bottom image is the standard Obama smile.

The TV I have is a plasma Samsung 43”.  I shot directly off the screen.  A plasma TV has a heavy contrast which results in inky black shadows with little shadow detail.  That may be the case here.  None of the video’s of Network feeds on YouTube show the deformities in the President’s teeth.

However, if these are his real teeth then it makes no sense not to wear temporary caps for such an important event.