Usually, this is where I bitch about the horrible state of the music industry and what slim pickings there are for true guitar hounds … but this year was actually jolly good fun. A lot of veterans stepped up to the plate (Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Edward Van Halen), and so did a few new, impressive hot shots (Periphery, Gary Clark Jr., HAARP Machine).
I guess you could say this about any recent year, but 2012 often felt a lot like the late '70s. We got high-profile studio releases by Van Halen, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Neil Young, Carlos Santana, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Rush, Kiss, Joe Walsh, Asia, Ringo Starr, Alvin Lee, Jeff Lynne and two members of The Jam, plus a live Led Zeppelin album and a pair of new songs by The Rolling Stones.
For all the hullabaloo about the world coming to a fiery end, 2012 was a pretty mellow year for me. Most of the albums you'll find below fall somewhere in the indie/alternative spectrum, for which I offer no apology to the metal-hungry masses.
This amp is a favorite among reggae guitar players because of the crystal-clear response you can hear while using the clean channel. It was used by reggae jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin and Junior Marvin when he played with Bob Marley & The Wailers. It's a solid-state, combo amp and features two 60-watt speakers that sounds good in live-music venues and recording studios.
The first time I saw Trixie Whitley play live, she apologized for having a cold. It was at last year’s tour with Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub at the Fillmore, and man, she could have had the flu and still sounded amazing. Last night’s intimate showcase at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco just cemented how talented this petite firebrand is. Her solo performances introducing songs off her upcoming album, Fourth Corner, were full of her signature soul and angst.
If you’re a true pedal freak, chances are you have boutique effects that run at 18 volts, high-current digital units and maybe even a vintage germanium-transistor fuzz box (or an accurate replica of one). Putting all these effects on one pedal board can result in a tangled spaghetti of power cables and unsightly wall warts fighting for space on a bulky power strip. Battery power provides its own set of complications, especially if you like the “brown-out” tones of a fuzz pedal operating on a worn-down carbon nine-volt battery that’s putting out only seven volts or less.
The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” performed entirely by Paul McCartney using his Martin D-28, was released on the 1968 album The Beatles (commonly referred to as the White Album). From a guitar standpoint, the song’s roots and inspiration can be traced back to McCartney’s early experimentation with a well-known piece by J.S. Bach titled “Bourée in E Minor,” which he woodshedded in his youth.
If I’m explaining to you what tremolo is for the first time, I might play you CCR’s intro to “Born on the Bayou” or The Black Keys’ “Howlin For You," but hands down, a song you never want to hear while riding that spinning teacup ride at Disney World is “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and The Shondells. Tremolo shows up on the guitar, bass and vocals tracks.
Freedom One is the latest wireless unit/tuner pedal combo from Intellitouch. Unlike most wireless receivers that clutter up your stage rig, the Freedom One’s receiver is tucked nicely into a tuner pedal. The tuner can be used simultaneously with the wireless, or it can be used as a standalone pedal tuner, the same way you’d use any others.
As a guitar teacher, two of the most common questions I get from students are, “How do I break out of box patterns?” and “How can I learn the notes on the neck without just memorizing each fret?” Over the years, and after working with hundreds of students on these topics, I’ve come up with a few exercises that have proved to be very beneficial to players who find themselves asking these questions.