Baton Rouge AR11C/ACE

Until recently, I’ve almost completely forgotten about my New Guitar post which actually has already arrived and I’ve been using for the past few months. The AR11C/ACE from Baton Rouge arrived mid-June instead of March due to shipping issues, but I’ll still be writing about what I think of the guitar.

Previously I’d been using an El Degas guitar which is a company that makes Gibson replicas. It was a guitar my aunt had that she wasn’t using. I changed the strings with a set that she gave me with the guitar, but they still felt rusty and awkward. When I first used the AR11C/ACE the first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable it felt compared to the glossy finish of the El Degas guitar. The AR11C/ACE has a more natural finish and isn’t as sticky when you hold it. This makes the body feel better as well as makes it easier for me to move my hand up and down the neck.

The next thing I’d noticed were the Elixir strings. Almost all of Elixir’s strings have some sort of coating on them that is supposed to change the way they feel depending on the coating you get. When the guitar came it didn’t specify the coating. All I knew was that they felt really nice to play with and my fingers didn’t get stuck on them. When it came time to change strings I went to their website and found that the Polyweb coating best described what I felt with the strings when they first arrived. I decided to go with the 80/20 Bronze, Light/Medium Polyweb strings. They felt pretty much the same as when the guitar first came and I’ve really been enjoying them. I plan on staying with those strings for a while unless I have money to start experimenting with new strings.

The last most notable thing on the guitar for me was the BR-2P pickup system. The AR11C/ACE was my first time using an acoustic guitar that had a pickup system. A pickup system is basically a microphone inside the guitar that you can connect to an amplifier if you’d like. For me, the pickup is sometimes useful when I feel like plugging in or just being louder, but I think the most convenient thing for me is the tuner on the BR-2P. With a push of a button on the side of the guitar, it switches to tuner mode and it lets you know if a string is too “high” or “low”. What I find nice, is that it’s not restricted to the standard EADGBE so it can use open tunings as well. The reason why this is convenient is because sometimes I don’t really feel like pulling out the Fender Tuner on my phone. Sometimes I just want to quickly retune so I can play right away.

Overall, I think that the Baton Rouge AR11C/ACE is a great guitar and with the right strings can sound really good. I’d like to assume that the rest of the Baton Rouge guitars are also of the same quality, but since I’ve never tried any others I can’t say.

Writing Guitar Arrangements

For the past few months, I’ve greatly expanded my knowledge of music theory. In addition to now having Guitar Pro, I have a decent idea on how to arrange songs for the guitar.

For me, I make fingerstyle guitar arrangements which means playing the melody, bass line, and harmony on one guitar. From what I’ve been taught I’ll usually figure out the time signature, key, and tempo first. There isn’t really a particular order, it’s just whichever is easiest to find first. Depending on the song, it’s possible to just do a simple Google for piano sheets to get all that information. Most of the time, there will be piano sheets for popular songs, but sometimes there might not be any. Figuring out the time signature and tempo is easy to find just by listening to the song. However, my ability to identify chords isn’t that great, so usually, I just try to figure out the most played chord, or the scale that the melody fits into.

After figuring out those three things, I can get started on notating in Guitar Pro. I like to start with writing out the melody, then the bass line, then fill the in-betweens with harmony. Occasionally some songs have strange rhythms for the melody, but most of the time I can figure it out. For the bass, I like to just put the root note of the chord on the beat of a chord change. Later, I would decide if I want to change the bass line or leave it as one note. For harmony, I usually play the notes of the chord that’s currently in use whenever there’s space to be filled in.

Some things that I’ve found difficult throughout this process would definitely be chord identification, especially with non-open chords. The different places to play the chords in relation to where the melody is being played is also a factor.

There are still things I haven’t really gone into yet such as harmonics, percussion with the guitar, and different tunings. However, they are definitely things I’d like to utilize in my arrangments to make them more interesting than what I have right now.

Grandma’s 80th Birthday

Last weekend my family and I celebrated my grandma’s 80th birthday at Emperor Fine Chinese Cuisine. My dad had spent a couple of weeks planning the party and there were many relatives that came to celebrate.

We were able to reserve half of the restaurant as well as their sound system and two projectors. My dad and I arrived earlier than everyone else to help set up at around 3:00. While my dad sorted out his projection system and photo slide show, I was putting name tags on the eleven different tables. After that, we checked to see if my guitar worked with the sound system for my performance later in the evening. Once we were finished setting up, I pretty much just sat around until all the people arrived and we took our seats.

Once everyone arrived, my dad said a few words about why everyone was there. After that, there was a lion dance followed by a Chinese dance until the food had arrived. The plan was that I’d play a Chinese song as well as another song I had memorized when ever I felt like it. I performed the Chinese song after I finished eating, and then the other song once I got bored. My mom unexpectedly asked me to play the Titanic theme “My Heart Will Go On” which I hadn’t played for a few months. I think that it went alright, but the cable for the guitar got in the way of the percussion.

For the rest of the party, people talked and danced. Later on, we all took group photos before people started to leave. I think that the party went well, I had fun and there was WiFi too which was great.

osu! After Three Months

Around two months ago, I wrote a post about a rhythm game called osu!. I wrote the post around a mere three days after I started the game and tomorrow will be around three months from when I started playing from July 6, 2018. In the past few months, I’ve learnt quite a few things which I’ll be writing about today.

If you don’t already know about the game osu! you can check the post I wrote in July. Basically, I just touched on the basics of the game and what my thoughts at the time. Back then, I was extremely new to the game and was really bad. In osu! there’s a ranking system and each player has their own number. When you start the game (at the time of this post) you’d be around rank 2-3 million. Currently, as of now, I am rank 148338 globally and rank 6171 in Canada. It’s pretty easy to get out of the seven-digit ranks. However, once you start getting to around the high six-digit ranks where I am, it’s pretty hard to climb up or even maintain your rank if you don’t play often. I only play on weekends, but I think that’s what makes me want to play the game. I can still enjoy the game and have fun, but I can also see my rank go back to what it used to be last weekend or even higher than that.

Generally, I’d say rank is a decent way of getting the grasp of a player’s skill, but it’s not always reliable. The way the ranking system works is based on how much “pp” or performance points you have. The current number one player in the world right now has around 14400 pp compared to myself having only 1800.

Performance points are awarded for playing maps and the amount you get from a single map is based on the difficulty of the map, how well you played it, and the mods used when playing the map. This would seem pretty fair considering harder songs gives you more pp, but there are some maps that are so-called “pp farming” maps. Pp farming maps are maps that usually give you more pp than they feel like they should. Most of the times they’re around one minute in length, but there are exceptions. You could play a one minute map really easily and get the same amount of pp as a more difficult longer map. Of course, everyone could be playing these pp farming maps, but they’re generally looked down upon in the community since the people that play them usually just want to get higher ranks. Personally, my top four pp plays are all pp farming maps which I’m particularly proud of. I generally try to stay away from these types of maps, but sometimes I don’t really have the time or feel like playing, so I’ll play a pp farming map. I’d pretty much be done for the week as far as maintaining my rank goes. Other time’s I might just really like the song so I’ll play it and it turns out to be a pp farming map.

That’s why you can’t always trust the rank as a measure of skill. There could be some really skilled player that doesn’t really play that much and has a low rank, and there could be a really bad player that just pp farms all day. I’d say that I myself am pretty inconsistent since I don’t play every day my aim feels different each week. I have trouble FCing (Full Comboing) maps, but I can occasionally pull out a good play every now and then. I’d like to see how using a tablet may affect my play since the computer I use when I’m not gaming has a lower sensitivity than my gaming computer. If I used a tablet that I’d only use for osu! it’d be consistent whenever I go back. For now, I’m still deciding whether or not I’d like to purchase one. Other than consistency issues, my streams (streams of single notes to be tapped in rapid succession) are quite bad as well as my jumps (notes far apart from each other). Pretty much I’m still bad at the game and have a lot to improve on.

For now, my goal for myself is to get to at least rank 99999 without playing too many pp farming maps by the end of this year. This would make me five-digits in rank and hopefully by then I’ll have improve overall.