2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

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Tipping points

Mike the Psych's Blog

New research from Austria suggests that playing either upbeat or sad music can increase the amount of tips serving staff receive.

Neutral piano music has no effect but “uplifting music makes people happy and the better mood someone is in the more they tip. Melancholic music nurtures people’s helping behaviour. The manipulated customers want to hep the serving staff with higher  tips than usual” says Annika Beer a psychologist at the University of Innsbruck.

The tipping effect applied particularly to older customers, perhaps because they listen to less music than younger people, or it could be that younger people have less disposable income.

The experiment was carried out in quite an upmarket restaurant where the average bill for two people was about £90 (the average tip was £3.50 more under the experimental condition).

There has been other research on tipping behaviour suggesting that waitresses who were red lipstick

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Mandolin and Bazouki. A bit of a challenge for a guitarist?

I bought this Italian mandolin a couple of years ago from a friend who’d inherited it. I’ve only just got round to cleaning it up and restringing it.

It is a beautiful traditional bowl-back one made by Gennaro Maglioni in Naples. It looks like a pine top but not sure of the wood that has been used on  the back.

I’m also not sure how old it is but I would say at least 50 years old.

The attention to detail is fantastic. I love the way the fretboard ends in that swirl and if you look carefully at the detail just below it you can actually see someone playing a mandolin.

At the end of the neck there is a decorative feature and even on the back you find detailed engraving.

The tracery continues around the edge of the instrument binding.

It came in a rather battered shaped wooden case which I’ve not yet got round to repairing.

It has 4 pairs of strings tuned in unison 5th intervals the same as as a violin i.e. G – D – A – E from low to high.

It’s not that big but the round back makes it a challenge to hold. But perfect for serenading at a wedding feast!

The Bazouki is also a handful. This belongs to a Ukrainian friend of mine who asked me to tune it for him.

I think it still had the original strings so a good clean-up before restringing it was called for!

The body has a pine top but a fibre glass and wood rounded bowl-shaped back which makes it tricky to hold.

There is a fancy pattern sealed on the top of the instrument.

There are 6-string and 8-string variants. This is an 8 string Greek-style bazouki.

It’s tuned like the top four strings of a guitar except a whole note lower i.e. C – F – A – D from low to high.

This makes it easy for a guitarist to play familiar shapes.

The bottom two pairs of strings are tuned an octave apart and the top two pairs in unison.

So effectively this is the same tuning as a twelve-string guitar’s top four strings.

Is that where the idea of 12 string guitars came rom in the mid-sixties? Or was there a Mexican influence as well?

I’ve not tried getting my he’d around the violin tuning on the mandolin but the Bazouki turning is straight-forward and a bit easier than my ukele – although if you can transpose in your head it’s not a problem.

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A fine pair of retro Squiers

I’ve slimmed down my guitar collection massively but still have a couple of Fender Squiers.

The first, the 1957 re-issue Stratocaster which I bought in 1985, is what I call my Buddy Holly guitar. It’s in sunburst and had a 3-way pickup sector switch (soon upgraded to a 5-way). It was assembled in japan with US pickups and has a lovely sound.

The second is the last of my Telecasters (Korean-made telecaster and Telecaster thin-line have gone to appreciative new owners). It’s a Cabronita vintage telecaster with a Bigsby. It has one tele pickup at the  bridge and a Gretsch-type pickup at the neck. This is a bad boy.


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Black and White Gretsch Guitars

The ad said “pick up a penguin” so I did, based on a great review in a guitar magazine. A Gretsch Penguin Rancher Parlour electro-acoustic guitar.

It has the triangular Rancher sound hole, a finish like the White Falcon, and a Fishman Isys pickup (probably why it sounds so good going through my Fishman acoustic amplifier)..

And a lovely thing it is. I feel like it’s come from Las Vegas with all the gold glitter

This goes alongside my black Gretsch Electromatic G5122 model. I bought this a few years ago in a kind of homage to my early heroes Duane Eddy and Eddie Cochran, not forgetting George Harrison. My friend bought the same model in orange.

A fine pair of very playable guitars I think you’d agree.

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Pendleside Hospice tea party

Two Shades of Grey were invited back to Pendleside Hospice in Burnley to entertain at a tea party.

They played a stripped back acoustic set 

My acoustic setup: Fishman Loudbox & Gretsch Penguin parlour guitar (+ a Boo Tremolo pedal)

featuring 19 songs from the artists below.

It’s always satisfying to support a good cause like this and the audience really got into the singing and talking about the songs.

Not everyone has the time or confidence to volunteer but you can support the hospice shops.

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2 Shades back for 44th Worsthorne Arts & Crafts fair

Monday saw the Millstone Folk Band entertain with acoustic tunes from across the British Isles.

Tuesday saw the Contempo choir raise the rafters.

Wednesday saw 2 Shades  of Grey back at this annual event, which was dedicated to the memory of Tony Cummings.

We played an eclectic mix kicking off with a song almost older than us, Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic “Sixteen Tons” (first written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1947). Then an Eva Cassidy take on “It doesn’t matter any more” –  better known as the 1958 posthumous Buddy Holly hit written by Paul Anka.

Then a medley of songs from one of our favourite bands the Drifters: “Under the Boardwalk”, “On Broadway” and “Save the last dance for me”. If you hear a reference to Rudy in one of the songs it’s because he was their lead singer who died the night before they were due to record “Boardwalk”.

We dedicated the Carole King song “Crying in the rain” to Tony as he’d sung Everly Brothers songs with us on several occasions and gave a nod to Elvis with the brilliant Marc Cohn song “Walking in Memphis”.

Then we finished with a Tex-mex medley comprising “Crazy”, “Tennessee Waltz”, South of the Border”, and the Maverick’s “Dance the Night away”, where we were assisted by Amy, the conductor of the Contempo choir on tambourine.

Thanks to Barrie’s wife for brief video clip. Enjoy!