Is this the right time to record the rock opera you've been putting off? Should you join that death-metal-bluegrass band that keeps inviting you to sit in? Check in every week with Margaret Santangelo's Rock Stars column.
In the last couple of years, I've started putting together my own guitars. I learned a lot about pickups and pots and caps and wood. And it helps me put together guitars that I know inside and out. So I know exactly what they can do, exactly how they "are," you might say. I like to start with raw-wood bodies and necks.
A good way to progress in playing and in life is to write down your goals. Something happens when you commit a dream or an idea to paper; it's reinforced, taken out of the realm of the mind and made real in the that of the physical. You can hold it, you can see it. I'd like to start by asking you a a question: What is your favorite genre of music? C'mon. If you can't narrow it down, pick one in particular that moves you. Got it? OK, now I want you to answer the question "Why?"
The lick I play here is something I'd actually use in a solo as a run; it's not an exercise. In every Sick Lick, I demonstrate ideas I would actually use -- or have used -- in solos. I'm not one for creating pointless exercises. I believe you're better off spending time practicing things you can actually use rather than playing through repetitious, unusable trills.
I'm on the plane. US Air, service Philly to Boston. I wrapped up my sold out, solo acoustic tour last night in Ocean City, Maryland and it's time I head home. I have to say I get a bit sad at the end of my tours these days. Trust me I'm ready to get some rest and family time but I sure miss my crew and I miss the road the minute I step up off of it. That's the truth. Music is my life and it's what I'm good at. It feels good to be on the road and to be the best you that you can be night in and night out.
If your lyrical snippets and song title ideas are worth getting down, shouldn’t your random musical ideas, riffs and chord patterns be worthy of the same treatment? Why not keep a sonic sketchbook? As discussed in a previous Songcraft post, today’s technology can make capturing song ideas easier than ever.
Summer means festivals. And those all-you-can-eat -- um, hear -- sonic explosions have more than enough sights and sounds to keep you entertained the entire day. But with 90 decibels of bass pounding into your chest, it can be difficult to remember some of the basics of survival.
There's nothing more exciting for guitarists than finding a good distortion pedal, especially one that sounds crushing and is affordable. Distortion is one of those mandatory pedals you’ll need as a glorious boost for rhythms, solos and — most importantly — to summon the gods of feedback.
For guitarists of any background or experience level, learning how to play jazz guitar means working through different types of standard tunes and forms, such as major blues, minor blues and rhythm changes. Though it is less common than its major and minor cousins, the Bird Blues chord progression, most notably demonstrated in the Charlie Parker tune “Blues for Alice,” is a tricky and important progression for any jazz guitarist to explore in the practice room.
This silky voiced ingénue isn’t afraid to get a little raw, and that’s what I like about her. La Havas deftly interweaves soulful, jazzy pop-friendly vocal melodies with jagged instrumental phrasing with a result that is extremely listenable and fresh. Yes, I need to hear it all again!