Categories
Music

Can you make a cheap electric guitar good by switching the pickups for good ones? What else can you do to it to make it sound better?

Yes but there are a few upgrades that you can do to keep improving it. In order, I think these are the tone upgrades you should be looking for.

  1. Adjust your bridge saddles, pickup heights, action, and intonation – this costs 0$ and will improve the sound of your guitar greatly. Also if you have a strat, take off the back tremolo cover. This is a simple thing that Eric Johnson, John Mayer, SRV etc all did because it improves your tone and it takes like 1 minute to do.
  2. Pickup swap – pickups are the most significant guitar hardware upgrade you can do, and this can cost anywhere between $30 for GFS pickups to $1000+ for Seymour Duncan Zephyr, Abigail Ybarra or Tom Holmes pickups, pickups makers can really run the gamut and there’s a whole cottage industry out there. Also keep in mind you are using the correct pots and cap values, and with Fenders you should keep your volume and tone at full unless you have a treble bleed circuit or ‘Greasebucket’ circuit that correctly balances the treble/bass with the volume.
  3. Strings. Upgrade your strings, I’ve used Elixir coated strings for many years, but some people may prefer the traditional pure nickel strings, or nickel plated steel or some of Ernie Ball or D’addario’s or Dean Markley Blue Steel or DR Veritas new strings.
  4. Cables. If you are using a longer cable, try using a shorter one. The longer the cable length, the more highs you will lose from your tone.
  5. Pick. You can change out your picks, and Dunlop has virtually every pick type covered, different picks will produce different tone
  6. Tremolo / bridge / springs – you can swap out the bridge saddles for titanium ones (ie. KTS), add a brass sustain block (Schaller, KGC etc), and change out the springs (i.e Raw Vintage )
  7. Nut. You can change out the nut to get better tuning stability and a minor improvement in tone (i.e Graphtech)
  8. If you are using a few pedals, getting true bypass ones are fine but if you have many, make sure you put at least one buffered bypass pedal in your chain to offset the treble loss

There’s also other upgrades you can make to improve convenience and playability (locking tuners, different bridge types, neck radius, locking straps etc) but these won’t generally improve your tone.

Categories
General

Korean fashion style

One of the things I love most about Korean people is how much they care about fashion and how they dress. Their style is IMO much better looking than American or other Asian styles that I’ve seen so far. It seems almost every Korean girl cares about appearance and how they look. For guys, a lower percentage do, but still many guys do as well. So I want to write about what I’ve seen, since I care about appearance and I often notice how both guys and girls dress and look like here. Korea is also a very homogeneous country, and also very conformist so the same style of skirt or pants that you see on one person you might see several times a day. With that said lets move on to these different styles. I’ll start with guys since there’s less to talk about with them.

Men (20s-30s)
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Head / Face / Makeup

Common Korean hairstyle for men
Common Korean hairstyle for men
-Most Korean men don’t dye their hair (some do, but not as common as Korean girls do), keeping it black.
-They prefer to have the bangs go down over their forehead like the picture above.
-Medium length hair is very common (in contrast to Chinese guys who have very short spiky hair, and Japanese guys who sometimes have longer hair reaching down to their neck).
-Most Korean men don’t wear makeup (although some do, its definitely the minority).
-Maybe 50% or so of Korean men did lasik surgery or wear contacts, as Koreans in general do not like wearing glasses compared to other Asians.
-Korean men fully shave their facial hair (in contrast to other Asian men who may keep a stubble or facial hair of some sort).

Top clothing

Tight collar shirt, fully buttoned, with rolled up sleeves or exposed arms
Tight collar shirt, fully buttoned, with rolled up sleeves or exposed arms
-Koreans love tight clothing. One of the most common fashion styles for top-wear is to wear a collar shirt, fully buttoned, with either rolled up sleeves or exposing the arms. See above picture for example.

Striped shirts are very common, for both young boys and girls
Striped shirts are very common, for both young boys and girls
-Young Korean guys and girls, especially couples, love to wear striped shirts, as seen in the picture above. One reason is that they can match it easily to form couple clothing.

Tight Blazer for a fancy date
Tight Blazer for a fancy date
-For Older men and fancy occasions, a tight Blazer is a good choice for a fancy date or a good night out.
-Koreans tend not to wear ties outside of work.

These are the three most common styles of fashion for top wear that I’ve seen on Korean men.

Bottom clothing

Skinny Jeans
Skinny Jeans

More tight pants
More tight pants
-Skinny Jeans or Tight Khakis. Those are the most common items that I’ve seen. Keep it tight, keep it simple.
-In the summer, tight cargo shorts are very common like in the striped shirts picture above.

Shoes

For more special occasions
For more special occasions

These are more similar to the everyday type that you can wear
These are more similar to the everyday type that you can wear
-Running shoes (Converse type), Loafers (like the pic above) are very common for everyday occasions.
-For fancy occasions, Oxford type or similar shoes can be worn.
-A lot of Korean guys, and me included, don’t wear socks with our shoes for casual occasions.

Accessories

Korean glasses style
Korean glasses style
-Usually Korean men do not wear any hats.
-Very few guys do tattoos or piercings.
-As mentioned before maybe half of all Korean guys wear glasses. They prefer to wear oversized frames, with the shape more roundish than square (Westerners often prefer wearing square frames to round frames).
-Korean guys like to wear watches. Invest in a good classy looking mechanical watch.

Women (20s-30s)
————————————————————–

This section is going be longer because women care about their appearance and fashion more, so I can’t say every kind of fashion but I will try to list the most common styles I’ve seen.

Head / Face / Makeup

Typical Korean hair, dyed brownish-red and reaches to the shoulder or past
Typical Korean hair, dyed brownish-red and reaches to the shoulder or past
-50% of Korean women dye their hair, usually to brown or reddish-brown tint.
-They don’t like to leave their hair up. Most Korean girls let their hair down.
-Hair is medium length (down to shoulders) or longer (down past the shoulders). There are very few girls who have short hair who are not in high school.
-Perm/Bleach is also fairly common.

Korean makeup; lots of eyeliner, lots of pale foundation, red lipstick
Korean makeup; lots of eyeliner, lots of pale foundation, red lipstick
-Almost every Korean girl wears makeup (in contrast to Chinese girls who don’t wear makeup). The typical Korean girl puts on lots of eyeliner, lots of foundation or BB Cream to make their skin look paler, slight blush on their cheeks and red lipstick, like in the picture above. They also wear fake eyelashes sometimes.

Another typical makeup example.
Another typical makeup example.
-Makeup is the single most important thing that changes a girls appearance. Most Korean girls who do plastic surgery do it to get double eyelids instead of single eyelids. But that doesn’t make as noticeable a difference as makeup does. Makeup literally makes their eyes look twice as big as before. The example above shows typical lots of eyeliner to make the eye look bigger, as well as lots of foundation and BB cream to make the skin look paler and cover up imperfections.
-Note that some girls even put makeup on other parts of their body like their legs to hide imperfections.
-Korean girls shave every part of their body, and this needs to be mentioned because some Asians like Chinese girls do NOT shave every part of their body. Yes this includes the upper lip area as well, and a lot of girls prefer to get things lasered instead, so they don’t have to deal with shaving.
-Most Korean girls paint their fingernails and/or toenails. Especially if they are wearing toe-open heels or shoes.
-Most Korean girls get braces for their teeth. (I have to mention this to contrast it to Japanese girls who are known for having crooked teeth).

Top clothing

-Young girls like to wear the striped shirt (as shown above)

Typical Korean blouse
Typical Korean blouse

Shoulderless shirt
Shoulderless shirt
-I cannot list all the types of blouses a Korean girl wears, but the above is an example of the type of blouse an older Korean girl would wear. They are usually very feminine and sometimes transparent to show off their arms or chest. The shoulderless shirt is another type of clothing older women wear a lot as well.

One type of one piece; this one is shoulderless
One type of one piece; this one is shoulderless

another one piece type with straight hem
another one piece type with straight hem
-This technically classifies as both top and bottom wear but, Korean girls love to wear dresses, and while I cannot list every single type of dress they wear, I’ve given three examples above of one piece dresses. They like to wear shoulderless types, semi-transparent types, frilly or flare bottoms, straight bottoms, etc.

Another type of one piece
Another type of one piece with frilly hem and top covered with a jacket

typical long coat used to cover their top
typical long coat used to cover their top
-Because Korean girls think showing top or their chest is considered more sexy than showing bottom, they often cover the top of their body with a long coat or or jacket while wearing a one piece or skirt underneath.

Bottom clothing

-As I said, Korean girls love to show wear dresses and generally like to show their legs since its (for some reason) not considered sexy at all to show legs in Korea. Thus Korean girls love to wear short skirts and short shorts as well in addition to dresses.

Typical short skirt in Korea (yes this is typical)
Typical short skirt in Korea (yes this is quite common!)

A flare skirt, so named because the hem flares out
A flare skirt, so named because the hem flares out

A typical A-line skirt or Pencil skirt as many office girls would wear
A typical A-line skirt or Pencil skirt as many office girls would wear
-Once again I’m not going to list all the different types of skirts that I’ve seen, there’s too many, but there’s some common ones above. Young girls tend to wear flare skirts (or tennis skirt), while older girls wear pencil skirts or A line skirts, sometimes with slits cut in the back.

A transparent dress worn over a short skirt
A transparent dress worn over a short skirt
-Though not as common as the other types of dresses, sometimes Korean girls wear these transparent types of dresses with a short skirt of shorts underneath.

Typical hot pants
Typical hot pants

typical jean shorts
typical jean shorts
-Since Korean girls love to wear anything that shows their legs off, the shortest pants imaginable are called “hot pants” and often worn in the summer or going clubbing, though some girls wear them day to day. Young girls sometimes wear short exercise shorts or jean shorts. No they don’t exercise in them, they just wear it because it shows a lot of leg.

-Skinny jeans. Though they are in the minority compared to the dresses/skirts.

koreans like to wear stockings in the winter
koreans like to wear stockings in the winter
-While in the summer Korean girls bare their legs, in the colder months they tend to wear stockings in lieu of pants (again because they like to show their legs), either nude/transparent pantyhose or black stockings. I don’t have a picture of transparent pantyhose because, well, they just look like skin from a distance since they “skin colored”.

Shoes

Typical platforms a young Korean girl would wear
Typical platforms a young Korean girl would wear

Platform sandals or runners
Platform sandals or runners
-Young Korean girls prefer to wear either high heeled sandals, platform shoes or running shoes (Converse or Vans is popular as several photos above attest)

typical High heels
typical High heels

typical black high heeled shoes
typical black high heeled shoes
-Older Korean girls wear platform shoes, high heeled shoes or stilettos (sometimes very high)

Accessories

-No glasses. 90% of Korean girls don’t wear glasses (in contrast to other Asians who often do). They do lasik surgery or wear contacts instead.
-Very few girls do tattoos or non ear piercings.
-Earrings are common, but not on every girl. Some wear them, some don’t. I’ve seen about 50/50 on this.
-Necklaces also common, and also a 50/50.
-Watches also common (in contrast to Westerners who don’t commonly wear watches anymore). I’ve seen more Korean girls wear watches than not, though not as commonly as Korean men do.

Ankle bracelet
Ankle bracelet
-A peculiar feature of Korean fashion is the ankle bracelet. Because so many girls show their legs in Korea, they like to “spice up” their look by wearing these on their leg.

So yeah… that’s about it for now. Since Koreans care so much about appearance, I felt compelled to make this post about Korean fashion 🙂 The overall theme of Korean fashion seems to be “Neat and Clean” style and I think it looks way better than fashion in other parts of the world IMO.

Categories
General

Financial troubles and Youtube troubles

Well, I blinked an eye and its October already. My best friend in Korea left already so now I’m even more lonely than before… what can I do. Moving back to SF isn’t an option thanks to insane housing prices there and moving back to Canada is just more depressing. Looks like staying in Korea is still the way to go.

Some updates – I’ve been calculating my net worth since Aug 2009 – and my net worth this year is actually the same as in Nov 2013. Which means that I’ve lost net worth despite making money last year and this year. What happened? Well, the short answer is, excessive buying/selling, collecting vintage electronics, paying back owed taxes, bedbug issue, excessive rent in Korea/SF, excessive cellphone bills, alot of travelling, and a bad stock market this year.

If we break down the spending on Mint.com, I can see that for last 12 months:

-36% ($35,205) was spent on shopping. This doesn’t mean I bought this many items; I bought and sold alot of things, and including eBay and UPS shipping fees, I lost alot of money here as well. I also spent alot collecting my vintage PDAs/UMPCs/gadgets, video games, Magic cards, etc so thats why this category is so high.
-19% ($19,181) was spent on mortgage and condo management fees. This is valid, since there’s no way to avoid this.
-7% ($6,843) was spent on travelling. Since I go back to USA every few months, this can’t be helped as well. I already went back to US twice this year and Toronto once. I will travel to Europe next week, go back to US again, and then back to Korea. And then later this year I’m going back to Toronto again. That’s 2 trips to Toronto and 3 trips to San Francisco and 1 trip to Europe all in one year.
-7% ($6,419) was spent on food. This is valid, since eating with friends is pretty important.
-$6,450 was spent paying back owed taxes for 2013. Turbotax must have made an error 2 years ago or something. This really impacted my finances alot.
-4% ($4,264) on entertainment. This would bars, lounges, clubs and Steam games. Probably could be avoided.
-3% ($3,408) on Bills. Yeah, yeah I know.. I’m spending way too much on my cellphone bill. I need to figure out a way to bring this down, I think my AT&T contract for my iPad which I’m not using expires in Nov so I can at least get rid of that.
-3% ($3,500) on getting rid of bedbugs. Yeah, not only did last years bedbug problem give me permanent scars, I also had to pay up the arse to get rid of them.

So, I’ve figured out some ways to increase my revenue and reduce spending, which I will be serious about starting next year. Here’s my plan:
-Sell all the excessive electronics and other things which I don’t use or need that often. This includes my unused PS3/PS4 games (sadly, Steam games and Playstation Network / Nintendo eStore games can’t be sold), unplayed Magic cards, unplayed records/LPs, gadgets (UMPCs,computers,PDAs,speakers,headphones,etc) that I feel are useless, unnecessary or not worthy to collect, extra guitar gear (Traynor amp and Gretsch white penguin), extra audio and video equipment like my microphone and extra tripods. All this is worth probably at least $7,000.
-Increase rent. As a landlord, its my duty to increase my rent to reflect local prices and I’ve been undercharging my SF apartment for it. This should be some nice extra cash.
-Move to a cheaper place in Korea. I’ve been living in one of the most expensive places in Korea and I can cut the rent in half by moving just a few stations away.
-Migrate this website to my own server hosted on my Synology DS. Yes, so I won’t need to renew the $300+ hosting fee with Bluehost every year
-File my scooter as PNO – I’m not operating my scooter anymore so no longer need to pay insurance or renewal fee, this is already done.
-Consolidate my electronics. I just got a nice Creative T4W 2.1 system which has bluetooth and optical in, which should mean that I can sell the following with no loss of functionality: Samsung soundbar, Polk Audio hampden, Klipsch KMC 3, Audyssey Wireless Speakers, Marshall Acton. That’s 5 speakers replaced by one! I can use the same system for my PS4/PS3/Mac Mini/Asus/TV that’s great consolidation.
-Be satisfied with what I have. I have an incessant need to upgrade equipment and I should stop doing it. I still use my iPhone5S. That’s a good thing. I should do that with my other electronics. Use it until it breaks.

I also would like to make some money off of Youtube (I have over 1500+ subscribers) but here’s the problem: My current account is associated with an invalid or suspended Adsense account and there’s no way I can get that fixed. So I tried creating a new youtube account with a valid Adsense account and started uploading some videos – Youtube flags all of them as requiring some proof of copyright! Even if its something as recording some DOS games or my own guitar music! That’s not in violation of any copyright! Other youtubers like PewDiePie record games all the time so why can’t I do it? So I deleted that account because I thought its useless since I can’t monetize but it doesn’t delete my subchannels underneath it… and I need to be logged in to delete my subchannels so now I have some extra youtube accounts floating around that I can’t delete!
Get your act together Youtube! Why aren’t the subchannels deleted along with your main account? And why won’t you let small time people like me monetize videos? Seems like a big middle finger from Youtube for me as far as that revenue stream is concerned. Blah.

Anyways, In other news I’m going to Czech, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Turkey in a week. I’ll write back after I get back from my vacation :).