As I was learning and discovering the guitar, the pentatonic scale was the tonality I could most relate to. It's no great secret that most blues and rock solos are based around this scale, but I really had to discover this for myself through years of hard work and practice. It's easy to be told or read what to do, but it's practice alone that will give you the ultimate understanding.
When learning how to play jazz guitar chords, one of the first voicings many of us explore are three- and four-note 4th chords. Built by stacking 4th intervals, these chords have a modern, “open” sound that has been a favorite of players such as Lenny Breau, Mike Stern and Kurt Rosenwinkel, helping to define their chordal approach to jazz comping and chord soloing.
With a majority of today’s songwriters having powerful recording tools at their disposal, just a laptop’s click away, and the line between home and studio recordings blurring daily, writers/artists are now finding themselves, more and more, in the role of de facto producer when looking to capture their latest creations.
This month, I'd like to talk about a cool, useful technique I sometimes use called “double picking,” which involves repeating each note in a melody twice using alternate (down-up) picking. A good example of this technique can be found in the first solo I play in “An Infinite Regression,” from Animals as Leaders’ latest release, Weightless.
Take heart, lonely grandmothers. Quebec-based indie rockers Les Trois Accords have plenty of hugs 'n' kisses to go around. They've even named their new album J'aime ta grand-mère (I love your grandmother). "I think we'll open a door for every grandmother who doesn't have a husband anymore so they can find love with a younger person," says lead guitarist Alexandre Parr. "But not grandfathers. Only grandmothers."
So I was watching High Fidelity last night, and when Dick (the bald guy who works at John Cusack's record store) mentioned the trailblazing Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers in a scene, I decided to hit the interwebs and see what ol' Bruce Foxton is up to these days. Foxton was one third of The Jam before becoming Stiff Little Fingers' bassist for 15 years.
There are a lot of scary-looking guitars out there -- some intentionally scary, some not -- but in the spirit of the occasion, we thought we'd point out the perfect Halloween guitar, in case your marauding demon rock star costume needs that finishing touch. It's Cort Guitars' Gene Simmons Axe Guitar, which we spotted at this year's Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California.
Halloween is here. Who are you going to be this year? With the economy not doing so hot and that Harry Potter costume from last year still sporting the aftermath of a cheese dip incident, it's time to come up with a cheap plan B. Luckily for fans of garage rock, cheap is well respected in the genre, and some of its biggest figures dress like an auto mechanic or a 19th-century vampire on a daily basis. Strange for them, great for you.
Ah, Halloween. A time to share videos of my favorite masked band covering the theme song from my favorite monster-themed 1960s sitcom. Yes, it's Los Straitjackets performing "The Munsters Theme." Here's a version from a 2009 show at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas.