A reader and fellow songwriter recently asked if I could offer some basic thoughts on the nuts and bolts of creating and recording vocal harmonies for a song (a source of frustration for said reader). Harmony is certainly a lengthy and complex topic to distill down to a few paragraphs, but here goes something...
On March 22, more than 30 effect, guitar and amp manufacturers and retailers descended upon the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys, California, for the Third Annual Guitar Pedal Expo. Guitar World was on hand to check out all the gear. Yes, we left a little deafer and a little poorer, but we came back with a bone-shakingly awesome rig.
An automatic tuner that connects to your smartphone might sound gimmicky. Which is why it's surprising that Roadie is such a practical tool. The Roadie automatic guitar tuner, which was created by Seattle-based startup Band Industries, interfaces with your mobile device via Bluetooth and automatically tunes your guitar by physically rotating the guitar’s tuning pegs.
You don’t just have to practice when there’s a guitar in your hands. There’s plenty of time in the day being wasted that you can use to improve your playing. Whenever you have a spare few seconds to daydream or are zoning out in class or at a meeting or waiting in line at the DMV, etc., use the time to go inside your mind’s eye and ears and visualize yourself perfectly executing the lick, riff or song you’ve been working on.
The basic idea? You trill on a string with your fretting hand, then use your picking-hand pinky to catch harmonics. You can move your finger back and forth over the pickups, and you will catch different harmonics at different points along the sting. You have to be very gentle with your picking hand, otherwise you will "choke" the string and won't produce harmonics.
Great guitar solos are sometimes romanticized to the point of mythical proportions. It's one of the few areas where it's still considered acceptable to concede to yourself, "You can't teach that." While this might seem like a harmless idiom to utter when you're filled with a sense of awe, it can also be detrimental to your longterm growth as a musician.
For the uninitiated, a B-bender is a contraption (the perfect word for it) that lives in- or outside your guitar and allows you to pull—usually with some sort of arm, palm, shoulder or hip movement—your guitar's B string up a perfect whole step. So, a B note would suddenly become a C# (or a C, if you don't bend the string all the way).
Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, blah, blah, blah … We know those guys can play, but what about Speedy Haworth, who dazzled audiences in the Fifties with his appearances on ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee? Or how about the underrated, mustachioed Canadian guitar hero Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush?
While recording equipment and software has become increasingly more affordable and easy to use, mastering has remained an elusive and expensive final step in the recording process. To successfully master a track, you either need to download and learn how to use a pricey plug-in or bite the bullet and hire a professional.
Have you ever bought a guitar slide and had intentions of ripping new leads with it, only to discover when you get home that it’s damn near impossible to use? Yeah, I’ve been there, too. Playing slide guitar, well, takes a little dedication in practice, but also in the way you set up your gear, too.