News From The Recording Studio
If you've checked out this site lately you'll have noticed that I haven't been keeping it up to date very well. That's because I developed a rather rare neurological condition called focal dystonia. My variety is also called musicians dystonia. In my case that means that I can not use the fingers on my right hand to "finger-pick" the strings. If I use a flat pick to pick or strum the strings everything is fine. It's a very strange condition. There is no cure. Once you've got it that's it - you either stop playing or switch to left handed. Since this style used to be about two thirds of my solo show I've cut way back on my performing.

BUT, I've been working at the left handed thing and finally gotten back into the studio to do some recording for the first time in almost five years with my old friend, and recording engineer extraordinaire, Tom Durso of First Bass Audio in Macomb IL. It's been a blast. I thought it would be fun to share the very first take of the first left handed thing we tried. It's Star Of The County Down, and old Irish ballad written by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927).

Tom left it pretty much as it was recorded, just added a little reverb. There are some places where the strings buzz and I miss the first couple of high notes. You can also hear me humming, or whatever, under my breath to keep track of where I am between the verses and during the instrumental passage I put in for my music buddies to practice leads on. It's not good enough to use on a CD or anything but I was very happy with my first ever attempt at left handed recording and thought it might be interesting to let you hear it without doctoring it up.

The photo below is of me in the studio with my Martin working on some right handed stuff.

Tom Durso. Tom and I met back in 1999 when I was recording my first CD. He's a great guy - easy to work with, full of great ideas and unbelievably knowledgeable about recording, sound, sound equipment - you name it.

The recording console is an Amek TAC Scorpion. The mic preamps we were using are Joe Meek VC6Q British Channel, a vintage Altec 1567A [1960's all tube] and an Aphex 107 tube preamp.

Microphones on guitars were, Nady SCM 1000, FET large diaphragm mic, an AKG C451, and a Cascade Fat Head ribbon mic. The vocal mic was a Nady TCM 1150 tube mic.

The main recorder is an Alesis HD24 digital recorder, and we also used Pro Tools.

The audio clip on the site was a rough mix, recorded and mixed flat with no eq, compression, or effects. Essentially the headphone mix!

The guitar on the left is the $150.00 Takamine beginner's classical that I bought 4 years ago to re-string left handed so I could see if I had the patience to learn to play that way. It's a great little guitar and I can't believe how nice it sounds on Star Of The County Down. The other guitar is my 1980 Martin D25K (Koa back and sides) that I've played almost every day since 1985. I think the Koa, a wood fron the Hawaiian Islands, makes it sound kind of thin but it's been a nice guitar just the same. Never had any problems with it.

Click HERE to hear Star Of The County Down

Me, playing my Martin, right handed