This story starts in 2018. That may seem like a long time ago—partially because it was—but when you realise that this is the second blog post I’ve added to my website this year, you’ll understand that I clearly don’t move quickly. I’m what many people may call an overthinker. This rarely results in me eventually creating anything ground breaking. It simply delays things I have a fear of finishing. Things like the video I finally created or this blog post to promote that video further. So let’s get to it!
Let me share the video first. I talk through a lot of the key points from this journey in the video’s introduction monologue. Look at me getting straight to it!
As mentioned in the video, I was gifted the FU-Tone humbucker pickup by the lovely Lisa (Lisaplaysguitar on Twitter) after she was announced as the winner of a competition that FU-Tone ran on Twitter. I was honoured and excited. I knew exactly which guitar to put the pickup in.
My Notcaster. I’ll write about that guitar in greater detail later. The quick version is that my Notcaster is a guitar I put together using all sorts of aftermarket parts. That made the guitar a logical choice for this FU-Tone pickup.
Upon receiving the pickup, I went down to the only real-world guitar store within a 30 kilometre radius. I left the guitar there so they could install this pickup—replacing the cheap pickup I’d had in the guitar for years. They also improved the string action for me. My attempts at putting bits and pieces together to create the Notcaster had not created the most player-friendly setup.
Once done, I couldn’t put this guitar down. Sure, I have fancier guitars and more expensive guitars, but this guitar was my own creation and with the FU-Tone pickup in place, the sound quality improved drastically. I’d also discovered a new guitar playing technique I’d rarely utilised before. That technique was to starting playing the guitar with the volume rolled back and then slowly rolling it up to full volume. It’s difficult to put into words, but this pickup has a real bite that sounds amazing when it gets close to and then hits 100%. The pickup sounds awesome on all volume levels, but distorted at 100% … this is why I prefer humbucker pickups. This one is an awesome example.
That volume roll feeling was actually one of the reasons it has taken me so long to complete an audio recording and matching video. I was trying to somehow capture that metal bite the pickup provides. Sadly, my song writing skills are not as great as my imagination is. I couldn’t put anything together that I felt justified what I was trying to capture effectively.
In the end, I decided to stick with the style and sound I can play decently enough to warrant a recording. I had a few attempts at that as well. In the end it was a new approach that got me to the place I eventually landed at. That approach was to start with some basic riff ideas and then use the Toontrack EZdrummer program to build a song structure I could build on. This approach allowed me to revisit some of my riffs that I thought were close, but not quite there. It was the first time I’d tried writing guitars to match the drums and it worked.
After that I just had to capture the video monologue and guitar play-through. It’s not a real playthrough though. The audio is captured on my PC. That’s not in a place you’d find visually appealing from a video perspective. So I played along to my own recording from my guitar room. It’s like a professional music video without the professionalism.
That’s the process in a nutshell.
At the end of the day, I can honestly say that I was pleasantly blown away to have received this pickup thanks to Lisa and her generosity. I was even more impressed with the quality of the pickup itself. This is one killer pickup and it has absolutely completed my own Frankenstein project in a way that elevated all of the other work I’d done on the guitar myself. I’d always wanted to piece my own guitar together. I just never thought it would sound as good as it now does.
It’s in no way related to anything at all, but I also wanted to share a clip from the movie Fired Up. This is what I think of every time I look at the FU-Tone pickup in my Notcaster. Enjoy!