So what is intonation exactly?  Intonation in regards to your guitar has to do with the notes being truly in tune up and down the fretboard.  For example: the low E string should still read as close to E as possible when fretted at the 12th fret of the guitar neck.  If the reading comes back as sharp or flat you can adjust your saddles to compensate for the difference.  Having your intonation set correctly will play a major role in how good your guitar sounds.  You definitely don’t want to be out of tune as you play higher and higher up the neck.  

Checking radius of fretboard

Checking radius of fretboard

Saddles set to correct radius

Saddles set to correct radius

Setting intonation on the guitar is the final step in the setup of any guitar.  The first thing you want to do when setting your intonation is to make sure you have a fresh set of strings on your guitar.  Set the radius of the saddles on your guitar to match the radius of your fretboard.  Tune the guitar to pitch and check the neck bow (we will cover this in another entry if you are unfamiliar with how to do this).  After you have completed the steps above you will be ready to set the intonation on your guitar.  

Saddles and adjustment screws

Saddles and adjustment screws

Most electric guitars nowadays have individual saddles you can adjust forward and backwards.  This is a fairly easy process if you understand what you’re doing.  I have heard a lot of people say that the way they check their intonation is to play the note open and then hit the harmonic at the 12th fret.  This isn’t totally accurate.  You still need to fret the guitar at the 12th fret to hear how far off the note is.  The harmonic is just a way to gauge whether or not the intonation is off bad.  When you press the string down to the fret you are bending the string slightly.  This bending makes the note sharp.  So the further you go up the neck the sharper it will become because the string gets further and further off of the fret board as you get closer to the bridge.  

Get a good tuner and get every string as perfectly in tune as you can.  Do this a couple of times because if your guitar is way off the neck will move (bow slightly forward) and by the time you get to the higher strings the lower strings have dropped pitch.  You may need to stretch your strings a couple of times and retune.  Getting the guitar perfectly in tune is critical.

Now go one string at a time and check the tune at the 12th fret.  Start with the low E open and then check it at the 12th fret.  Literally fret the guitar at the 12th fret, no harmonics here.  If the tuner says it’s still in tune move on to the A.  If it is sharp you need to lengthen your string.  To do this tighten the saddle which will pull it back thus lengthening the string.  If your reading comes back flat you will need to shorten the string.  To do this loosen that saddle.  This will shorten the string because the saddle will move forward.  You don’t want to turn the screw in the saddle much at all.  Small adjustments go a long way.  I would adjust about a quarter of a turn per reading.    

After you have turned the screw whichever way it needs to turn, go check your tuning again.  The open string will now be out of tune so tune it first.  Then you will need to fret the guitar again at the 12th fret of the string you’re working on and check the tuning there.  If it is still off go back to the previous step and adjust a little more.  This is a bit of trial and error but you will get better at judging how much to adjust every time you do it.  

You will begin to notice that the saddles will form a certain pattern pretty much every time you set the intonation correctly.  Once you have done this several times you will be able to get the saddles pretty close to the position that they need to be before you ever do anything in regards to setting the intonation.  Good luck and if you have issues come see me. 


Go Somewhere

Typically I wake up to Jack hollering “Mama.”  I drag myself out from under the covers and try to get presentable for the day.  Jack pretty much destroys the bathroom on a daily basis as I get ready to go to work.  He feels the need to empty every drawer in the bathroom as if he may find something new this time.  I finish that up and move on to coffee.  While the coffee is making, I play a little guitar as Jack runs around getting into anything he sees.  The guitar thing gets old for Jack pretty quick so we always end up rocking on the front porch listening to some tunes until Cindy’s folks get there to watch the little dude.  Tomorrow morning will be different for me.  I have my bike loaded down with only the things I have to have, ready to head out for a long weekend trip to the mountains with my brother and Big Al.  

I usually get a little uptight right before we leave for our little adventures because of all the unforeseen things that may or may not happen along the way.  The distance seems so far until you get going.  Like anything else in life the first mile is the hardest to get under your belt.  Once you get on down the road a piece you begin to settle in to the sound of the wind and the bumps in the road.  You realize everything will not only be okay but will be something worth living.  

The reason I tell you this is that I think we all need to get away with our guy friends (girl friends if you're of the female variety).  The fact of the matter is males and females are different.  Guys will act different when it is just other guys around.  I’m sure girls are the same.  You build tighter bonds with your friends when you go somewhere different for a few days.  There will be memories that you create that will last you forever.  Going away also makes you appreciate home and the people back there that miss you when you're gone.  So pick you something to do, get some people together and go be as ridiculous as you want to be.  

68' Ducati 250 single (part 1)

Every year Barber puts on a vintage bike festival.  I’ve been going the past few years and love every second of it.  This is basically where people of all different ages from all over the country come together to camp out and bring their old motorcycles to show, ride, talk about, race, and just enjoy the bikes.  They have a swap meet with tons of old motorcycle parts for sale or trade.  They have motorcycle races all weekend.  Watching these guys fly around the track is reason enough to check it out.  There are motorcycles everywhere.  You’ll see cafe racers, bobbers, old motocross bikes, and even some Harley’s.  You can hear the guys on the two-stroke motors well before you see them coming.  There are motorcycles lined up and down the road for what seems like forever.  I usually wind up eating fish tacos at some point from this Mexican food truck that is always there.  Not to mention the track itself.  The place is surrounded by bright green, well manicured grass.  Trees put in just the right place to catch some shade from the Alabama heat.  And, for some reason, the sky just seems bluer at Barber.  


They have a part of the track specifically set up for cafe racer type bikes to congregate that they call Ace Corner.  Up at the top of the hill you can see turn 17 as the old bikes fly by screaming like they still have something to prove.  There is no way for me to accurately describe to you how cool this is.  You really need to go see for yourself.  Last year I’m sitting up there with Pops and I ask him “man, don’t you just want to do that so bad?”  He replied, “no, not really.”  My brain can’t understand that for some reason.  


So after sitting a while we decide to check out the swap meet area where my buddy Ray is working trying to sell some stuff.  Ray is probably the best mechanic I will ever know.  He works on anything from Ferrari’s to old Triumph’s.  I met Ray through Bill Mitchell of Mitchell Classics.  Bill always had about 3 vintage Ducati race bikes he kept that Ray raced.  I am a pretty big fan of Ducati and a bit of an old soul so naturally I always wanted one of the bikes.  Lo and behold Ray has one with a blown motor for sale.  It would have probably have been in my best interest to leave it be.  I sometimes do things that aren’t in my best interest.    


I mulled the idea over for a few days but eventually gave in to the fact that the bike would be my next purchase.  The bike is so light weight Caleb (my brother) and I loaded it up in the back of the Green Bean (Honda Element).  Ray told us that the bike would run but made a sound that made him think something was wrong with the crank.  He suggested I try to get it to run to hear it for  myself.  So that was the plan.  I took it home and drained all of the old gas out of it, got the battery charged up, fixed the clutch cable, and few other little things.  You have to push start the bike because of it being a race bike- the kickstarter was removed.  We decided that the hill at the top of my neighborhood was a good place to get the bike rolling.  So, we loaded the bike up and pushed it down the hill.  We would get a rumble and a sputter from the exhaust occasionally but that’s about it.  This was still enough to keep us pushing.  We were pouring sweat, like Strickland’s do, trying to get this thing to pull its own weight.  After several attempts I finally felt it pull.  We were convinced that the next try was it.  Little did we know the engine had just completely locked up.  We decided that pulling the bike behind the car was a lot easier way to get it running.  After dragging the thing around the neighborhood I realized that the back tire was not going to move.


The following Monday I called Ray to give him the news.  He gave me a couple of numbers of some guys to contact.  I also called a few of my buddies that I thought may have some insight.  The problem with an old bevel driven Ducati race bike is that there aren’t many people that know much about them and the ones that do are not cheap.  At this point I was kind of clueless as to my next move.  Fortunately for me, Ray called me and told me that he had decided he was going to help me rebuild the bike from top to bottom.  With Ray this involves going through every nut and bolt.  Needless to say I was excited to get this news.  My next step was to completely tear the bike down.

This is how it started.

New Website, New Perspective

Somewhere on the Blueridge Parkway Summer 2014

Somewhere on the Blueridge Parkway Summer 2014

"Playing guitar really isn't a whole lot different than riding a motorcycle."

My garage on a hot Alabama day with Dylan playing in the background while working on a motorcycle - one of my favorite places to be.  There's no better feeling than a sweaty shirt and scrubbing off grease from the task accomplished at the end of the day.  Sunday afternoons riding motorbikes with friends down roads only locals use to get to town.  Getting together with my bandmates and working on a new tune that seems to be there but somehow needs our help to be brought into an audible existence.  That moment at the end of the night into the fourth set when my amp and guitar come alive and seem to play me. These are the moments in time that I try to collect. 


Playing guitar really isn't a whole lot different than riding a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle isn't much different than working in that garage.  These things that we do are just a lifestyle.  We need to be free of marketing, politics, judgement from others, and ourselves. The aforementioned activities are an escape for a moment. These lifestyle choices, to an extent, determine how we dress, spend money, time, and the people we interact with.

The world is dying for something real.  We all need an escape from the constant demand for our attention.  We are bombarded with advertisements everywhere we turn.  This demand for our attention is very overwhelming.  It seems to suck the very life out of everything that I cherish, i.e. music, family, quality of life and goods.  We all have our escapes, yours may differ from mine but isn't it really the same?

 So here I am, a businessman preaching to you about "The Man."  I assure you I am anything but that.  I just want to create a community of people that are all on the same team.  I want you to walk into my store and not feel intimidated or out of place.  I want you to feel at home and a part.  I want to help you make music.