Blog

About Quantum Prana, my logo and particle cosmology

My logo certainly carries my initials, however there’s a bit more meaning in it.

As you know from my Home page, I am a theoretical physicist, and I got my PhD at the University of Helsinki in 2010. More specifically, my field was particle cosmology with topic supersymmetric dark matter and supergravity. My papers and theses are found here.

Since I am a certified nerd, it is now clear why I use the name Quantum Prana: quantum physics, though still controversial, provides the basics for most of the physics of the last 100 years. Prana is the Sanskrit word for “life force”, which can be thought as “energy”. Thus Quantum Prana is the quantum energy which “surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” (cit.)

This is also the reason why I am called the Dark Matter Guitar 🙂

Related to that, my logo carries the q and p letters in lower case: in mathematics, they are the action-angle coordinates upon which ALL of quantum mechanics (and by extension, quantum field theory) is founded. In fact, by using Hamiltonian mechanics the pair (q,p) describes the quantum states, where q(t) is the position and p(t) is the momentum of the particle.

Starting from q and p, you get all the theory, including cool stuff like the Heisenberg indetermination principle, the Pauli exclusion principle, Schrödinger’s cats and so on.

And on top of that, I also think the symmetry of q p looks cool! 😀

Martial application of the kata Bassai Dai

Tesi Bassai Dai

I include here my theory assignment for the I Dan exam, back in 2005 when I was practicing karate. It contains my own descriptions and explanations of the various actions used in the form (“kata” in Japanese) Bassai Dai. This is one of the most famous kata in the Shotokan style (read my essay in the page Martial Arts for my concept of karate “styles”).

This is the original version in Italian, so those who are not familiar with my mother language can request an English translation by replying to this post 🙂

String height from the body, or why also Steve Vai put a pad on his Green Meanie

It has now been a while since I felt some guitars sort of uncomfortable to play for my right hand. So much that I had to make and install a plastic pad on my seven string Ibanez S7420 (perhaps you can see the pad in some of my stage pictures).

I thought it was just a matter of body shape: since I anchor my right wrist to the body a lot, I believed that the Saber shape was increasing the angle between my picking hand and the strings too much. But today I noticed that, even though my RG 1520A and my LTD GL-256 have both a flat body, I feel much more comfortable with the LTD (which is basically equivalent to a Fender Strat). On the contrary, with the RG I have the same weird S7420 feeling.

Long story short, today I understood that the key factor is the string height from the body: all my Ibbies have a fairly low action, yet the distance string-body ranges from 10mm to 13mm. The LTD instead, having a vintage tremolo and a pickguard, has distance ca 7mm.

Interestingly, I found that already in the 80s Steve Vai used a similar pad on his Green Meanie (a Charvel SoCal) for the exact same reason. This happened because he passed from a Fender Strat to a Floyd Rose guitar. He also anchored his right wrist on the body much more than now.

I hope that these info can be useful to some other people who find that some guitars feel sort of “wrong” to them. Also because the right hand is overlooked very often…remember that “the left hand is the steering wheel, but the right hand is the engine” (unless you play only legatos 😀 ) !

Is it always necessary to replace the stock pickups in a guitar?

I am writing this first post to share some thoughts about a rather hot topic for guitar players.

I own an ESP LTD GL-256 (one of the George Lynch signature models), and I am really happy with it. It feels great, and it is a very resonant instrument when played unplugged.

When plugged into just a pedal board, or into a 100W tube amp, it sounds *amazing*. I really mean it: tons of sustain, good definition and clarity. Both with the bridge humbucker and the neck single coil (the bridge single coil still sounds a bit meh). And now comes the funny part: this is a Vietnamese instrument, with no SD Pearly Gates as the ESP GL-56 but mounting the stock pickups LH-150 and LS-120.

Usually people bash these poor tools claiming that they are “lifeless, useless pickups with no personality” etc etc. Now, I played my axe side by side with my Ibanez RG with SD Full Shred, through my Laney VH100R…and guess what? No substantial differences. Just some nuances (like the almost “vocal” sound of the Full Shred on the high notes), but nothing so important to justify a pickup replacement.

Though I changed plenty of pickups in my instruments during the years, I still believe that the tone is made by your fingers and by your amp. And that replacing an unbranded stock pickup with a Duncan or a Dimarzio or a Bare Knuckle is mostly a matter of personal taste, not of necessity.

I believe that in general, the stock pickups in decently made guitars like my GL-256 are totally honest and useful pieces of equipment. Those who replace them with 80 euros pickups without even testing the instrument as it comes stock, should really work more on their chops and on equalizing correctly their amps.

It is not the pickups ot have personality, it is not the guitar, it is the musician. My bridge humbucker has a metal cover, and I’m pretty sure that these people would tell me “ah, sounds so good…did you put an SD Custom here?” 😀

EDIT: the other evening, after our weekly Dokken practice, my friend asked me if my bridge pick up was an SD Pearly Gates. QED 🙂