Archive for January, 2016

Hands of Silver

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Steel Rusts

One of the nice things about cooperating with God and getting his power flowing in your life is that stuff that used to not work will start to work. Right now, I am having that experience with music.

Longtime readers with incredible memories will recall that I took up the guitar and quit because I developed strange knots on the finger joints on my left hand. Last year I started playing again.

I am not a hundred percent positive what caused the joint problems, but I do know that I was doing a highly questionable exercise routine at the time. It was called “Hands of Steel,” I think. I found it on an online teaching site. The motions were repetitious and stressful.

I thought I had repetitive-motion injuries.

I’m not so sure now. Last year I banged my right pinky on my compressor, and weeks later, a knot developed on one of the joints, just like the knots I had had on my left hand. I didn’t think I had injured myself. There was no real pain or bruising. But the knot rose up anyway, for no other apparent reason.

It’s almost gone now. I still don’t know that happened. You would think that if repetitive motion was the problem, my right hand would not have developed a knot, since I don’t do much of anything with the pinky on that hand.

I will definitely stay away from “Hands of Steel.” I think it’s a really stupid and dangerous method.

Last year I picked up the banjo again. There is something about the banjo that improves my playing on other instruments. When I play the banjo regularly, my musical memory improves a great deal. It’s also good preparation for the guitar. There is a lot of work for both hands, and none of it is strenuous.

I got back to the piano, and I started sight-reading practice again. Then I picked up the guitar.

After playing the banjo for several weeks without touching the guitar, I apparently changed my touch. I used to have a “death grip” issue with my fretting hand, but it appears to have gone away. Fretting too forcefully is bad for your playing, and it also leads to fatigue and injuries. It may be what made my joints hurt. Anyway, now the guitar is much easier.

Several of my guitars were messed up in one way or another. Two had pickups that were too shrill, and I had put off trying to figure that problem out. One, a Telecaster, needed a different neck pickup, and although I had bought one (Strat Texas Special), I hadn’t installed it.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve straightened the guitars out. I learned something interesting: piercing “icepick” tones from a guitar pickup can be caused by putting the pickup too far from the strings. Most people say it works the other way around, so if you listen to them and try to fix it, the problem gets worse, and then you give up. I moved the pickups on a couple of guitars and got better sound from them, and I went from a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates bridge pickup to a Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II on one instrument.

Today I moved the Strat pickup to the Telecaster. I had to get a special pickguard, because the Strat pickup is bigger than the original pickup. You can hack up the original pickguard, but it’s not a good solution. I bought a pickguard from Guitar Fetish. I now wish I had spent more and gone with Warmoth, because the Guitar Fetish pickguard required some filing and sanding to get it to fit. Anyway, it’s on the guitar.

I made myself a new pedalboard. I have a big Pedaltrain about two feet wide and 20″ deep (I guess), and it’s just too big. I took a piece of wood about 9″ across and 12″ long, and I cleaned it up and glued another piece of wood to it to prop up one side. I painted it with truck bed paint, and I screwed rubber feet to it. Then I added some velcro from Home Depot.

It’s really excellent. Storebought pedalboards start at about $35, and even small ones are big. And they don’t use solid wood the way I did. This one is perfect for three pedals. I have a daisy chain transformer that powers it. No fancy low-noise stuff. I’m not totally sure why people need those things, although I do have one on the Pedaltrain.

I tried to get my pedals in good shape. I fired up a Boss Blues Driver and a Way Huge Fat Sandwich. The Fat Sandwich has a magnificent tone, but it’s too distorted. At the lowest setting, it’s pretty crazy. I’m going to try to find out how to modify it.

I considered getting a Way Huge Red Llama, which is an overdrive pedal (less distorted than a distortion pedal), but then I remembered my old Tube Screamer TS-9.

I got this thing in about 1997, when I got the Strat I never play. I never liked this pedal. It had no edge, and it didn’t sound warm. I should have sold it.

I checked around and found out that there were some modifications that might make it better. The original Tube Screamer is the TS-808 (I think), and it had different resistors in the output. I found out the correct values and stuck them in there, and it sounded a little better.

Then I read that it was possible to warm it up by making the clipping asymmetrical.

A guitar signal is AC, which means it’s a voltage that goes up and down around some zero point. Most of what we call “distortion” is clipping. That means part of the voltage extremes gets cut off. Imagine an arch shape with the top sliced off. That’s what it’s like. The voltage ordinarily goes up, hits a round peak, and comes back down. When you clip, it goes up, hits a flat ceiling, and comes down.

The Tube Screamer has a couple diodes in it that affect the clipping. Because the factory diodes are identical, the clipping is the same regardless of which direction the signal is taking. If you change one diode, you get clipping which is different on one side of ground than the other.

For some reason, this makes clipping sound warmer. Look it up; I have not bothered to study it, so I can’t explain it. I could say something about “even harmonics,” but really, would that make it clearer? Doubtful. It would sound like an explanation without actually being an explanation.

I opened the Tube Screamer up again, pulled out a clipping diode, and replaced it with an LED. Then I put it together and tried it out.

It’s just about perfect now. The tone is warm and inviting. It responds well to the pick. It’s somewhat louder than it used to be. Now when I use the pedal, sometimes I just sit picking notes so I can enjoy the tone.

I have piles of guitars, and several are pretty nice, but I keep going back to the cheapest one: the $300 Epiphone P93 Riviera, from China. The action is a wonder to behold. It plays itself. The sound of the Lollar P90s is open, with an inviting edge that grabs you by the throat.

01 02 16 Rocketman Riviera and new Pedalboard in garage

It’s actually a little frustrating. I would like to get this kind of experience from my more expensive instruments, but it’s not happening. My Japanese Burny Les Paul clone is the closest competitor, and it’s only about 90% of the guitar the Riviera is.

I would like to have one more guitar I really enjoy using, because no matter now much you like a guitar, sometimes you want to play something else, and you don’t want to go from a perfect guitar to a really good guitar. You want to make a lateral move.

I keep watching my finger joints. They haven’t gotten sore or swollen, and I practice a lot these days. I speak defeat to the spirits that work against my flesh. I forbid my flesh to have joint problems. I use the tools I’ve been given. So far, no issues.

My playing is getting better very quickly, and I’m finding the way through doors that seemed closed in the past.

One big help: I found a good instructor. The guy I was using a couple of years ago was great in many ways, but he did not have a systematic approach, which I needed. This week I found Justin Sandercoe, and right now, he’s my teacher.

He’s a Tasmanian guitarist, and he created a website full of free videos. He goes step by step. He explains everything. He even creates practice lists.

He doesn’t teach people to fake it and flail, the way most teachers do. You have to learn proper technique, scales, and so on. He eventually goes into the CAGED system, which is something I would really like to conquer, even if I don’t rely on it much.

You can find him at Justin Guitar.

Things are breaking loose. I can do things I couldn’t do before. Suddenly, I am much better at writing blues licks. Instead of writing stuff that sounds like a white kid from Connecticut wrote it, I write stuff that sounds like the blues, and I do it easily. What a relief. And I actually play sometimes, instead of just practicing. Isn’t that really the point of all this work and expense? You can sink your life into music and never learn how to do anything but practice.

I’m thinking about making a slightly larger pedalboard and finishing up the two-speaker cabinet I never started, and I may put my Bassman clone in a different chassis, to kill the noise. I have parts for a few more amps. I should put them together. But mainly, I’m excited about the music.

I will let you know if things continue to improve. I has been great so far. I can’t tell you how great it is to wake up every morning and realize my hand doesn’t hurt. If you’ve ever been healed of anything, you know what I mean.

More Pages From the Lost Owner’s Manual

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Not Just Good News; Better News

Powerful stuff keeps coming to me all the time. This is what happens when you pray in tongues. Without it, you depend on other people to tell you about God, and a lot of what they tell you will be guesswork or lies.

The Bible tells us we are supposed to be the head and not the tail. That sounds pretty good. It sounds like it means we’re supposed to win instead of losing. We all want that.

Here is the fine print, though: the head has to lead. If you want to win, you also have to lead.

A leader will have to fight a lot more than a follower.

A follower does what everyone around him does, right or wrong. A follower will go to a prosperity church and kiss the pastor’s backside and swallow every fable he spouts.

It’s nice to be a follower. Everyone loves a follower. A follower doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable. A follower confirms the garbage you already believe. He never tells you you’re wrong. He never demands that you wake up and change your beliefs. He never tells you to give anything up.

A leader does that which is right. He will always be among the first people to turn and go in a new direction. Followers will fight him. They will sabotage him. Followers cruficied Jesus and killed the prophets. You have to have a backbone if you want to be a leader.

Watch the idiots on TBN some time. They sit in a circle and confirm each other’s Satanic, materialistic lies. They pat each other on the back. They circle the wagons and heap vituperation and slander on anyone who disagrees with them. They accuse dissenters of serving Satan, just as the Jews who knew Jesus called him a sorcerer and a demoniac.

They are followers. Benny Hinn and T.D. Jakes are followers. Joyce Meyer is a follower. The devil made their lives easy, so they don’t rock the boat. They say and do whatever he tells them.

As a result, they have no real power or revelation. T.D. Jakes can’t even control his obesity, which is caused by gluttony. His flesh rules him, but he teaches people how to be Spirit-led?

A lot of these people will be in hell soon. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. A number of them are actually atheists and psychopaths. They just talk nonsense in order to get money. From time to time, one comes forward and admits he was always a fake.

God will make you the head, but you will have to repeat what he tells you and do as he says. You will have to be willing to stand against man every day, because almost all human beings, Christians included, serve the devil.

If you refuse to lead, spirits won’t respect you. Why would a demon respect an obese preacher or a greedy televangelist or a teacher who sneaks around with sluts? If that’s you, you’re not above a demon. You are his COWORKER. In fact, you’re lower in the hierarchy than he is.

When you try to cast a spirit out, unless it’s very weak, it will just laugh at you. Your prayers won’t be answered. You will not be taken seriously in the supernatural realm.

This is why we can’t heal anyone or deliver anyone from iniquity. This is why gays die gay. We have nothing to offer them except criticism and unsatisfying sex lives.

Right now, you serve demons. They get to do things to your body. They erode your self-control and make you the slave of bad habits and evil thoughts. You are a child of Adam, and Adam gave away his inherited authority. His servitude is now your inheritance. To get back on top, you have to align yourself with God, drive out the spirits you serve, and receive the inheritance of Jesus, who has never lost his authority.

When you start praying in the Spirit daily and taking charge of your heart and mind, you will start to gain authority. Things will get better. How much better they get depends largely on how willing you are to submit to God and die to the flesh. If you’re determined to hang onto your earthly desires and let them rule you, don’t expect much from God.

Here’s another thing God showed me: you are not your flesh.

The secular world has an obsession with coercing us to embrace our disgusting weaknesses. If you’re gay, it’s normal! Accept it! The notion of two animals who can’t possibly procreate, having sex, makes complete sense! If you’re fat, you’re fine! The world is wrong because it “shames” you! If you’re sexually filthy, great! Sluts aren’t the problem. “Slut-shaming” is!

In choosing this mindset, the world has made defeated people even more subordinate to demons.

Centuries ago, many people believed in a concept called “dualism,” and the basic idea was that the mind and the flesh are not the same. In modern universities, which are run by confused, neurotic, unhappy people, they tell kids that dualism is quaint and outmoded. But it’s correct.

You are immortal. Whether you are accepted into heaven or not, you will persist. Your flesh will not. It will die soon. It should be obvious to us that we are not our flesh.

Your flesh is an animal into which you have been inserted. It carries you around. It’s supposed to serve you and do whatever you tell it to do, but in this world, authority is inverted, so we let the animal call the shots.

The flesh is very stupid. It has poor judgment. For example, it told Esau a bowl of soup was a better prize than Israel, and he bought it!

The flesh tells us thirty seconds of pleasure without a condom is worth eighteen years of child support or a long period of suffering with a disgusting, disfiguring venereal disease. It will tell a stupid man that the pleasure of punching his wife is worth jail time and forced unemployment. It tells women nice shoes are more important than good credit.

The flesh tells addicts all sorts of ridiculous things, and they believe them right up to the moment they die. They probably continue believing a lot of it in hell.

The flesh has no business running anything, but it has tremendous control over us, and it messes up our lives. It gets sick and refuses to get well. It drives bad decisions. It craves destructive things.

The flesh loves demons. It welcomes them. They offer it food, sex, power, and so on. It takes the bait. They move in, and then they take control. They invite friends. First thing you know, you’re just one tiny voice in a crowd of demons, and if they vote against you, you do what they want.

Demons are the gods of the flesh.

If you’re a smug Christian and you can’t be tempted by obvious sins like fornication or theft, demons will get you with sins like gluttony, gossip, or pride. There are a lot of sins we have stamped with the church’s seal of approval, and they are still very destructive.

If you want to be the head, you have to control your flesh and drive the demons out. This is why Jesus went into the desert and fasted. He was establishing his domination over the spirits that wanted to rule him. He did such a great job with the little spirits, Satan himself had to show up and try to save the situation. The most powerful evil spirit in existence showed up, because Jesus was such a problem. And that spirit lost.

After that, Jesus was able to command spirits. He was able to command flesh. He was even able to command inanimate objects. His authority was absolute. He was the head, because he stood up and decided to lead.

God also showed me that you don’t have to fight everyone. You just have to fight your flesh and the weaklings who are closest to you.

Satan uses your flesh and the weak people around you to get at you. You don’t have to defeat Satan directly in order to win. If you defeat your flesh and the weak, he won’t have access to you.

Think of the old joke about the bear. Two hikers saw a bear coming their way, and one took off running. The other said, “You idiot; you can’t outrun a bear.” The other one said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

That’s how it works. If you can shut the doors in your flesh and defeat the weak people Satan sends to manipulate you, you will have outrun the bear’s lunch. Satan may still get your friends, but you’ll be okay.

I have a drug addict in my life. This is a person who is a walking demon collection. She doesn’t care. She likes it. Evil pleases her. She loves humiliating people and causing them pain.

When this person has a problem, she tries to make it roll downhill onto me. The demons drive her flesh, her flesh makes bad decisions, the bad decisions cause problems, and she starts looking around for an innocent person to take the punishment and make it go away. These people are called “enablers.”

I can’t free this person from addiction or demonic influence. She likes those things. She clings to them.

God gave her the ability to make that choice. He won’t interfere. He doesn’t enslave people. He told me to quit praying for her, because it’s a quagmire where I will make no progress.

I can’t free her from her controlling spirits, but if I defeat her, and I defeat my own flesh when it wants to give in to the manipulation, then I win. I keep my peace and safety.

It’s not an ideal situation, but then most people go to hell. There are some burdens I was never meant to carry. I can’t carry every wicked person I know. If I choose to try, then I choose to share in their defeat. If I do that, can I seriously expect God to answer when I ask him to get me out of the mess?

You can speak defeat to other people and to spirits. You can say, “I speak defeat to Bob and the filthy spirits that use him against me, in the name of Jesus.” If you have the faith that comes from a habit of prayer in tongues, and if you’re not submitted to demons, it will work.

I’ve known that for a while. I use it all the time, many times a day. It is an extremely powerful tool. But it was only recently that I learned I can treat my own flesh the same way. I can speak defeat to it.

This stuff will sound crazy to many Christians. I do not care. That’s the cost of being the head. I see it coming. I expect it. I accept it.

Be mad. Foam at the mouth. Call me a heretic. Wet your pants and roll on the floor. Throw me out of your church. Block me on Facebook. Cite scriptures you misunderstand and claim victory. Knock yourself out. I’m not budging.

Leadership is my inheritance. You’re not going to deprive me of it, even if you go to hell. Sorry to tell you this, but you’re not worth it.

If you apply this stuff, you will see results. Your authority will increase, and so will your obedience. Things you couldn’t make yourself stop doing will start to fall away. You will become more intimate with God, too.

I suppose the worst part of this is watching other people fail as you succeed, but it could be worse. Noah had to listen to his friends, whom he had known for centuries, claw on the hull of the Ark.

You’ll lose people, but on the whole, you’ll save more than you would have, had you continued in weakness and rebellion. That will have to be your comfort.

Give this stuff a try. Lead, don’t follow. Submit to God. Kick the daylights out of your uppity flesh.

When it works for you, tell someone else about it.

I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

No; better.