I have to confess that I’m not very good with holidays. For some people sitting on a sandy beach doing nothing and getting cooked by the sun is their idea of heaven, but that doesn’t work for me. Sand just gets in your shoes and the shade is always the most attractive place to be when the weather is hot. I thought I was just being a ‘grumpy old man’ until I mentioned this to our Editorial Director, Dave Lockwood, and found that he felt much the same. His definition of a holiday went along the lines of ‘Being unwillingly separated from your stuff’, and you just know that Dave’s definition of stuff has to include a Telecaster somewhere along the line!
To help me cope with holidays I take a limited amount of ‘stuff’ with me, specifically a workable recording system so that I can sit in a shady bar and write or edit music. My old Macbook Pro running Logic X is a given as I also need it to whittle away at incoming emails so that I don’t come home to an overflowing in‑tray. In previous years I’ve also taken a nicely compact NI Guitar Rig Session interface and a Korg mini keyboard, and being a pragmatist I thought I’d better test it all before packing it away. And it is a good job I did as my upgrade to Mac OS Sierra (I’m still resisting High Sierra) rendered my NI interface obsolete as its driver software doesn’t work with Sierra and NI are no longer supporting it with updates. It doesn’t operate in class‑compliant mode so I’m left with an otherwise perfectly functional piece of hardware that is of absolutely no use to me.
Fortunately those kind people at Focusrite were able to bail me out by shipping me one of their dinky Solo interfaces at the last minute. That did the job perfectly as it can handle a guitar and a mic at the same time. A pocket flash recorder comes along too for capturing any interesting sound effect opportunities I come across. And a large‑capacity memory stick for backups, of course.
I already have a guitar stashed at my usual holiday destination, the Kilim hotel in Dalyan, Turkey, which is run by musicians. However, I thought it would be nice to take another ‘bitsa’ S‑type — which is easy to do with bolt‑on neck guitars as you can remove the neck and then put it in your suitcase. That still left space a little tight though, especially as I also needed to pack a microphone and a few spare parts, so I decided to leave the mini keyboard at home and instead rely on Jam Origin’s MIDI Guitar software to allow me to play my polyphonic virtual instruments from my guitar.
So, in a nutshell, that’s my guide to surviving holidays: take your music with you and find a hotel that has a tool kit and a soldering iron you can use if you need it.