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My First Guitar

OK, it wasn’t really my first guitar. My first guitar was a Stella steel string acoustic my family borrowed from friends to see if I would actually stick with the guitar. Then I borrowed a classical guitar from a relative. and on it went… BUT, the first guitar I bought with my own money was a Gibson ES-335 TD that I bought in Fall 1966 from Fava Music in Detroit (where I studied with Joe Fava and Jack Montcrief).

me with my Stella in 1960

Me with the Stella in 1960

I bought the guitar for $325 in the Fall of 1966, at age 14 and it became my first true love. OK, that sounds a bit weird but those of you who know me will understand. For the next 10 years I would play that guitar more than any other, for many, many, many hours. It was a great guitar, block neck Gibson 335, sunburst with a trapieze tailpiece. I fiddled with that guitar day in and day out, adjusting it, practicing it, playing it…

In 1971 I was playing with a band called Dark Horse at the Detroit rock club “Devil’s Den” which was downstairs from the jazz club “Angel’s Hourglass.” I left the guitar in my car while we set up the amps, drums, and PA. It was cold, and when I brought the guitar in to get started with the sound check it was already hot under the lights on the club’s stage. After the gig, we went to eat at IHOP, and I left the guitar in my cold trunk, and even left it there when I went home afterwards. Big mistake. When I opened the case that next afternoon, the finish on my beloved guitar had completely cracked. Not just the traditional Gibson “nitrocellulose checking” that is considered part of having a vintage Gibson guitar, but really cracking.

I took the instrument to my friend’s store “Lenny’s Music” and he sent the instrument to a fellow that was supposedly an ex-Gibson luthier in Kalamazoo Michigan. He removed the finish and to his (and my) surprise, the guitar had a very nice grain – usually sunbursts were finished that way to cover up grains that had knots or other imperfections. So I had him finish it in a natural light walnut stain. Unfortunately, it was not the most professional job, but it looked way better than I had feared, given how bad the cracks had seemed. And it was really different from any Gibson 335 on the planet, which had only come in sunburst and cherry red finishes at that time.

Promo shot taken in 1976

Me with the guitar in 1976

Anyway, I continued to play and love that instrument until 1976, when a run in with a surgeon having a bad day mutilated my left hand and ended my guitar playing career. I continued to try to play for another year when a second surgery (by a different doctor) failed to help and I was told I would never play again. Looking for a way to continue making music, I decided to try synthesizer, since it was monophonic at that time, and you could play it with one hand on the keyboard, and I had enough use of my left hand to move sliders and knobs.

I sold all my guitars, except for the 335, in order to buy my first synthesizer – an ARP 2600 with a 16-step analog sequencer, and launched my new career as a synthesist (another very long story – but in short, that decision led to my eventually founding the Music Synthesis Department – now called Electronic Production and Design, at Berklee College of Music).

In 1978, my band Ictus started touring a bit more, and I needed a road case for my synthesizers. Reluctantly, I sold my beloved guitar for $350 to a student at Berklee to pay for the road case. I cried for days. But I couldn’t play it anyway, and I needed to get on with my life.

1978 Mash with ARP 2600

Me playing my ARP 2600 circa 1979/1980 at Ryles

And I did get on with it. I became somewhat known as a music technology expert, working with some of the great pioneers in that world. See my website at for more on that. But I never forgot that guitar. And in 1986, by a strange coincidence, I went to see that second surgeon, Dr. Lewis Millender, because of an accident that hurt my right hand. He said there was nothing major wrong with my right hand, and that he could probably fix my left hand. Advances in microsurgery had then made things possible that were not before possible.

I asked him, “Fix it so I’d no longer live in constant pain?” and he said “Yes, I think so.” I asked, “Fix it so I’d could move my fingers?” and he said “Yes, I think so.” So I asked, “Fix it so I could maybe play guitar again?” and he said “Yes, I think so.”

And he did! He took a vestigial tendon from my left arm and repaired my left hand with it. And my pain disappeared. And my fingers could move. And once again, I could start to play guitar again. Amazing!

But my music technology career was really in high gear at that time, so I didn’t pursue the guitar full time, but my passion had been re-kindled, and in the 90’s I started practicing a bit and bought a classical guitar and a Parker Fly electric guitar. And every time I went into a music store, I would wander through the used instruments in search of my first guitar. To no avail.

In 2000, I discovered the fine guitars of Robert Godin, which had 13-pin outputs and could be used to control synthesizers. I started playing guitar again to the exclusion of the keyboard, and used it for both the sound of the instrument as well as to play synthesized sounds. I became friends with Robert, and have built up a collection of his guitars, which I love. He has even built a special lightweight custom LGX-SA just for me!

But still I would look for my guitar. In 2007 I decided to buy a 335. At first I toyed with trying to find a real 1966 model, but realized that it would a) be real expensive and b) I probably wouldn’t play it, so I decided to go for a nice re-issue. I found this one at Music Unlimited:

My 2007 335

My 2007 335

But I never really play it anyway, and it doesn’t have the nostalgic value of being MY guitar.

Then a month ago, I was demonstrating the Berklee PULSE music method to Little Kids Rock executive director David Wish, and since he plays guitar, I took him to the guitar practice room. There were a bunch of new guitar “One-on-One” videos there (the team is always adding fresh content) and I clicked on one about the blues form by City Music teacher Colin Sapp.

And there, to my surprise, was Colin playing MY GUITAR. After all these years of searching and not finding. Right there on the PULSE! A Berklee City Music teacher playing my guitar.

I emailed Colin, and after a few exchanges, we decided it was very likely the same instrument. He had bought it a few years ago from the guitarist in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And today, 46 years after I first bought it, and 34 years after I sold it, Colin brought it to my office at Berklee and I got to hold and play it again!

My First Guitar

Reunited with my first guitar

With Colin Sapp

With Colin Sapp and the Instrument

Boy, its been through the mill, and grindstone. Literally. I recognized it immediately, but it has seen much better days. I wondered what it would feel like to see it again. Would I want to own it? What would I pay to get it back? But in all honesty I felt happy just to see and hold it again. And happy that it has an owner like Colin, who is restoring it to playability – it does play nicely and has a sweet sound!

What a great day to see my first guitar again!

Thanks for reading…


iPad Apps – What I’m Using Now…

After three full weeks of using the iPad and checking out a lot of apps, here are the ones I’m currently using, and why:


My absolute favorite music app is ProRemote from Far Out Labs. This app gives me a 32 channel control surface for Logic (it works with Pro Tools as well), as well as a transport control, and drum pads to boot! It works over WiFi, by running a server app on the Mac. The installation is simple and works incredibly well. At about a hundred dollars, it isn’t cheap, but a hardware version would cost at least 5 times as much. A less expensive alternative which also works well is the AC-7 Pro from Saitaro. This is a $10 emulation of a Mackie Control, with 8 channels of controls. The setup is fairly easy, but if you want integration with Logic’s track names you’ll need Midipipe on the Mac and a setup file.

StudioTrack is a multitrack audio recorder, complete with effects, eq, and compression per channel. From Sonoma Wireworks (who make the great Mac tools DrumCore, KitCore, and Riff Works) this is a great portable recording device. I’m hoping that someone makes a small USB audio interface that can plug into the dock port! I’m also waiting for the Blue Mikey for the iPad – these accessories would make Studio Track a must have!

For software instruments, I like the Pianist Pro (check out Chinese pianist Lang Lang playing Flight of the Bumblebee in San Francisco), Accordion, and the best so far is Korg’s iElectribe, a soft version of their popular hardware synth/DJ device.

Sheet Music let’s you bring in PDFs of music and it scales the pages to fit the iPad display and gives you options for how to turn pages as you play. Pretty cool, but large PDFs like the Real Book don’t transfer in. Too bad…

Shazam and Pandora Radio have both updated their iPhone apps to run full screen on the iPad, and they are must haves!

Business Work:

As I mention in a previous post, I find the Apple iWork apps very useful and easy to use. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote all do the job syncing files between the computer and iPad, translating Microsoft Office files in both directions.

For PDF viewing, I like PDF Reader Pro and Good Reader. Both do a good job at bringing in PSF files and rendering them accurately. If you’re a musician, PDF Reader Pro brought in the big Real Book PDFs that Sheet Music could not. I think that if your music is already well scaled for the screen size of the iPad, PDF Reader Pro could do the job as a music stand application.

Dragon Dictation is AMAZING. It is very accurate, and if you want to do a lot of writing and don’t mind talking into the machine, this is a great tool!

SoundPaper is a great note-taking tool. You can type and record audio at the same time, and the audio is synced to the text! I have been using a PULSE smart pen to take notes during meetings, but this looks like it could replace that tool, and then you have text rather than handwriting…

For Reading, the Amazon Kindle software works great and if you have been a Kindle user, you’ll be able to download all your books to the iPad. You’ll enjoy how fast the pages turn, and how crisp the text looks. The Apple iBook reader is great, and the Apple eBook store with all the Gutenberg project books for free is an amazing tool!

I like the way the NY TIMES works, but would like to have the full data, not just the editors choices. The USA Today app is great, if you like that paper. SkyGrid is a great way to keep up with trends on the net, and Early Edition is a great RSS reader.

For Social Media I am liking Twitterific, but wish FaceBook and LinkedIn would update their apps – of course you can still use Safari to access these sites.

For getting things done, I really like Things. It syncs well with the Mac, has a great UI, and also syncs with iPhones and Touches. Of all the GTD apps I have seen, this has the most intuitive interface.

Evernote has an iPad app, and it is great for notes, and syncing with the Mac and iPhone via the Evernote web site.

Wolfram Alpha is one of the coolest apps I’ve seen. If you do math, get this app…


SketchBook Pro is a great app for doodling and making drawings. It really feels good to draw with this program.

The ABC player gives great TV shows for watching on the iPad, and the Netflix app is a great way to watch movies from your Netflix account. I like Mondo Solitaire, Labyrinth 2 HD, Sudoku Tablet, and Crosswords for having a little fun…

Well that’s a quick run down of my current apps, at least the ones I’m actually using regularly. There are lots more coming as iPhone developers rework their apps to take advantage of the added screen real estate the iPad provides. The ones I’m really waiting for are SplashID, TravelTracker Pro, Todo+Cal, and Indigo Touch.

Blog on…



iPad for content production

It’s three weeks since I got my iPad, and it sure has garnered a lot of my time and attention during this time. I don’t think anyone doubts this is a game changing device for many applications: email; casual web browsing (as long as you avoid sites with heavy Flash use); reading books, newspapers, and magazines; listening to music; playing games; looking at pictures; and doing most data consumption types of activities. Considering the price, form factor, and great user experience, the iPad is really unparalleled among mobile computing devices. But what about those of us that are not just consumers of data, how does the iPad hold up as a device for the creation/production of data? So that’s what I’ve been looking at this last week or so.

For my day job as vice president for technology and education outreach at Berklee College of Music, I spend most of my time on email, calendar, reading and writing reports and proposals, looking at budgets, and creating and giving presentations. I also look at lots of technology, watch for trends, analyze and predict where things may be headed. I also make music: I compose, record, perform, and produce music using technology (synthesizers, sequencers, digital audio workstations, etc.) and play guitar, both acoustic and electric.

I use a 13″ MacBook Pro at my desk at Berklee and when traveling, and have a Mac Pro with tons of external devices attached in my home studio. I was wondering how much of my work could really be done on the iPad. After all, it’s small, lightweight, and wireless, so it sure would save my body some stress if I could transfer more of my work to this thing, and leave all the other stuff behind.

Well, what I have found – much to my amazement, is that for most of my work and travel (except where music is involved), the iPad really does provide me acceptable, and even enjoyable tools. As a word processing device, it works admirably. Ok I admit, I’m not a touch typist, I hunt and peck. But I am typing this entire blog on the onscreen keyboard, and am writing just as fast as I do on my laptop. Would I want to write a really long proposal or report on this, probably not. But in the usual short chunks of writing I am able to fit in between meetings and presentations, this is just fine.

Pages works great for moving files between my laptop and the iPad, so I can work on one device, sync, and continue working on the other. Some issues that bug me: the iPad is missing most of the fonts I regularly use, including the official fonts that Berklee uses. I assume this will change, there’s no real technical limitation here, especially with the larger memory models. Moving files to and from the device using iTunes works seamlessly if not sluggishly. I hate that iTunes wants to sync the iPad every time you do anything, rather than letting you cue up a bunch of files, and then press sync to do it all at once. An iTunes software rev will no doubt fix this in the near future.

Numbers works great for working on spreadsheets, and both Pages and Numbers do a great job at translating between their desktop counterparts, and Microsoft Office documents as well. I have to admit I spend most of my time looking at and editing spreadsheets, and not actually creating them, but I worked through Numbers’ features and it does a pretty good job at most routine tasks.

Keynote works well at playing slide shows, be they from Keynote Mac or from PowerPoint. But I don’t see myself building presentations from scratch on the iPad. I use a lot of graphics, downloading pics from the web, editing them, before bringing them into my slides, and without multitasking this would be too painful a process for me. But OS 4 is on it’s way, we have a beta installed on an iPhone for our development work, and this will eventually make it to the iPad. But for now, I’ll leave the creation of new slide shows to my laptop and desktop machines. But for carrying to a meeting and presenting, the iPad fits the bill nicely, even with big shows with video and audio.

Making music at a professional level, is just not possible on the iPad alone right now, but there is great software for controlling DAW software on my macs, so the iPad already has a home in my studio and I will be trying it on stage for my next gig.

So at least for my work, the iPad is a winner! I can do about 95% of my business work on it, and have already made one business trip without a laptop, and am planning another next week. I will trade up for the 3G model (it should arrive next week) so that I’ll have Internet access at all times. WiFi is still spotty at best. It only AT&T would let you share 3G and GPS from the iPhone! Tethering would be great! Some day, please?!?!

I am hoping that a few music production packages like Reason, Record, GarageBand, and maybe even a Logic Player might show up sometime. Seems that with the power available with the A4 processor and the OSX underpinnings of the iPhone/iPad OS, it should be possible to run some of these apps on the iPad. Now that would be cool. I understand there is a problem with getting data in and out in realtime, but since the iPad still assumes a Mac as the hub of our digital lifestyle, it would be great to be able to work and sync between devices as we can right now with office apps.

Next topic: 3 weeks of iPad app testing. What’s cool, what’s hot, and what’s not…




Hello, I’m David Mash, and this is my first stab at blogging. I’m writing this using WordPress for iPad, and deciding just how much to write for this blog! I’m going to focus on the iPad for a while, but I’ll also write about music and technology, and about education. My personal website is at so please check out my site, and listen to some of my music while you’re there.

About me: I’m a guitarist, composer, synthesist, author, and teacher. I am vice president for technology and education outreach at Berklee College of Music, where I have been working for almost 35 years. It’s a great place – talented faculty and students, amazing energy, and creative people from all over the globe. My role at Berklee is overseeing all the technology at the college, setting a vision for how technology will support the teaching and learning processes at the school, and helping to build a national network of after-school music programs called “the Berklee City Music Network.” Currently the network consists of 22 sites across the country, but we expect to be in 30 cities by summer. For more info, check out the Berklee City Music Network

At the heart of this network is a contemporary music method called the Berklee PULSE (Pre-University Learning System Experience), which is an online experience for teachers and students designed to maximize the effectiveness of their time together after school. For teachers there are lesson plans, materials, sheet music, and access to their students progress reports, and for students there is a host of materials for immersive learning experiences. Check it out at Berklee PULSE

So welcome to my new blog, I’ll be writing again soon!

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