November 2012 http://www.guitarworld.com/taxonomy/term/2842/all en Pickin' & Grinnin': 20 Tasty Country Guitar Licks http://www.guitarworld.com/pickin-grinnin-20-tasty-country-guitar-licks <!--paging_filter--><p>Exploring the world of country guitar is a diverse and exciting journey, one from which a guitarist of any background can benefit, while having fun. </p> <p>Modern country guitar is an amalgam of traditional and not-so-traditional playing approaches borrowed from several related homegrown American styles. As such, it includes elements of blues, bluegrass, rock and roll, and even jazz, and it offers a tasty mix of expressive and challenging playing techniques. </p> <p>The key musical building blocks that form country guitar’s foundational vocabulary are the major and minor pentatonic scales, the major scale and the Mixolydian mode, major and minor chords and their corresponding arpeggios, dominant sevenths and ninths, and the judicious use of chromatic passing tones. </p> <p>Mainstay country guitar-playing techniques include flatpicking, fingerpicking and hybrid picking (pick-and-fingers technique); the exploitation of open strings and licks played in the “open position,” which have a characteristic “twangy” tone; and lots of string bends and finger slides. </p> <p><strong>[[ <a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-may-13-brad-paisley/?&amp;utm_source=homepage&amp;utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=PickGrin">For an interview with GW's King of Country Guitar, Brad Paisley, check out the May 2013 issue of Guitar World. The issue also includes features on the 10 Essential Country Shred Guitar Songs, 10 Pieces of Gear Essential to Modern Country Guitar Tone and more! </a><a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-may-13-brad-paisley/?&amp;utm_source=homepage&amp;utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=BradExcerpt">Check out the issue at the Guitar World Online Store. ]]</a></strong> </p> <p>The go-to ax for most country pickers is a solidbody electric guitar, particularly a Telecaster-style design, equipped with single-coil pickups and fairly light-gauge strings (.009s or .010s). More-traditional country guitarists, such as the legendary Chet Atkins, came of age playing a semi-hollowbody guitar equipped with humbuckers, and country-rock players, like the Kentucky Headhunters’ Greg Martin, prefer Gibson-style, humbucker-equipped solidbodies. </p> <p>Classic American-style tube amps, such as vintage Fenders, are the rig of choice for many country guitarists. Most players eschew the use of high-tech, high-gain amps or psychedelic effects and opt instead for a more “honest”-sounding bright-clean and/or “organically” overdriven tone with some spring reverb and compression. </p> <p>Interestingly, country guitarists tend to approach soloing in a way similar to jazz musicians, often crafting licks that either melodically describe the underlying chord changes via arpeggio-based ideas or emphasize chord tones. (By comparison, the rock-oriented approach to soloing involves finding a scale or mode that “agrees with” a chord and playing licks and patterns based on that scale.) </p> <p>Country guitarists will often strive to emulate the signature licks of fiddle, banjo or pedal-steel players, cleverly borrowing a variety of techniques and musical approaches from these instruments and adapting them to the guitar. As is the case with any style, the best way to get a grasp of country guitar is to listen to its most celebrated pickers past and present and learn some of their signature licks and playing approaches. Check out old-school country guitarists such as Atkins, Merle Travis, Hank Garland and Jerry Reed, acoustic bluegrass flatpickers like Doc Watson and Tony Rice, and modern electric country players such as Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley, Johnny Hiland, Keith Urban, Jerry Donanue and Vince Gill, to name a few. </p> <p>In this lesson, <em>Guitar World</em> presents 20 country licks designed to teach you how to play authentic country guitar. Each lick incorporates techniques and stylistic elements that are characteristic of either a specific artist or a subgenre of the greater country guitar style. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks1_2.jpg" /> </p> <p>FIGURE 1, based on the A Mixolydian mode (A B Cs D E Fs G), with the minor third, C, added for a bluesy twist, is played in second position and utilizes lots of double and single pull-offs to open strings, which create an instant country-twang vibe. You’ll want a good, strong attack on the picked notes, as this will give you plenty of momentum to make the pull-offs and hammer-ons as loud and clear as possible. When pulling off, be sure to pull the string in toward the palm as you release it. </p> <p>The bend toward the end of the lick can be tricky to perform. Because it’s on the A string, you’ll want to bend the string downward, pulling it in toward your palm, as opposed to pushing it away from the palm. (This is a good general rule of thumb when bending on the bottom two strings.) Make sure you’re bending the B note up a half step, to C, as indicated. You can check your pitch by comparing it to that of the unbent C note at the third fret. Use this lick as an ending to a solo or song. </p> <p>Performed with hybrid picking, FIGURE 2 cascades down the C major pentatonic scale (C D E G A) in four-note groups, with pull-offs used at every opportunity. The right hand alternates between plucked upstrokes with the middle finger and downstrokes with the pick. When plucking, really snap the string so that it smacks against the fretboard, producing a sharp accent, which will create that signature country guitar “spank.” </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks3.jpg" /> This bluesy lick sounds great over an E or E7 chord. It incorporates double-stops (two notes played together), hybrid picking and the use of the f3 from the minor pentatonic scale, in this case, the note G in E minor pentatonic (E G A B D). Another way to reckon the f3 is as the s9, which is a very bluesy/jazzy-sounding altered-tension tone. Begin this lick on the upbeat of beat one, plucking the G and B strings together with your pick hand’s middle and ring fingers. Barre your fret-hand ring finger across these strings at the 14th fret and pull it off to an index-finger barre at the 12th fret. Alternatively, you could fret the 14th-fret notes with the tips of your ring finger and pinkie. At the end of bar 2, bend the G string at the 12th fret up a quarter step by pulling the index-finger barre slightly downward, in toward the palm. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks4.jpg" /> </p> <p>This lick is commonly found in what could be referred to as a modern “country cha-cha” groove. Try to make all the notes in the first bar very staccato (short and detached) by releasing your fret-hand grip on each note immediately after you play it. The easiest way to perform the picking in this bar is to attack the D string with the pick and the G string with the middle finger. To sound the double-stops in bar 2, pluck the B-string notes with your middle finger while simultaneously picking the G string with the pick. You can alternatively pluck the two strings with your middle and ring fingers. The challenging part is at the end, where you’ll want to keep the fifth-fret E note on the B string ringing while bending and releasing the Cs note on the G string’s fifth fret. Try to get a good pick-hand attack on the bend, as this will give the notes momentum to clearly ring through the release. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks5.jpg" /> </p> <p>This is a common bluegrass-style run in the key of G, played in first position and flat-picked throughout, with the brief exception of a grace-note finger slide in bar 2. The second note, Df is the flat five of the key, which is known as a “blue note.” Notice how the B and the Bf notes (the major and minor third, respectively) ring together in bar 1, producing a fleeting dissonance. This combined ringing of picked notes—called a floatie by bluegrass players—is a clever move that emulates the ringing licks that banjo and fiddle players like to play. The slide in bar 2 is best performed with the middle finger. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks6.jpg" /></p> <p>This flat-picked single-note lick outlines a C chord on the lower strings in first position. The line’s dancing contour and use of open strings, hammer-ons and pull-offs give it a nice rolling, swinging feel. The f3, Ef, is added in a couple of places for a bluesy feel, and the move from F to Ef to E on beat three of bar 1 (4-f3-3) is a classic “hillbilly blues” move. Bar 2 jumps over to the G string with a bluesy tumble back down to the C root note. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks7.jpg" /> This banjo-style lick is played with hybrid picking to better emulate the rolling sound of that instrument and facilitate the nearly continuous string crossing. The key here is to allow as many notes as possible to ring together, so be careful to not inadvertently mute the open G string with the sides of your fretting fingers. You may find it helpful to practice the lick in four-note segments, then put them all together. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks8.jpg" /> </p> <p>Incorporating open strings into ascending or descending scales to create a harp-like effect is a common country guitar “trick.” This lick is designed so that, wherever possible, an open note replaces a fretted note. To get that harplike effect, try to keep as many notes ringing together as you can, at the same volume. Notice how the pattern moves across the strings in three-note “waves.” There are a couple of wide stretches involved, so make sure your fret hand is limbered up before attempting the lick, and ease into the stretches, angling your wrist as you see fit to optimize your reach. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks9.jpg" /> </p> <p>This lick draws upon common elements of jazz guitar single-note phrasing, such as a swing rhythm, alternate picking and use of chromatic “neighbor tones.” The f3 (Bf) and f7 (F) are used as passing tones over a G7 chord to create a bluesy feel. The position shifts in the middle of the lick might take a bit practice, but they provide the most practical fingering scheme. </p> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks10.jpg" /> </p> <p>This lick is a repeating phrase that uses hammer-ons, repeated notes and palm muting to create a percussive sound. The initial four-note pattern repeats three times in bar 1, followed by a quick pull-down bend at the third fret, best performed with the middle finger supported by the index. Bar 2 switches from hammer-ons to double pull-offs, resolving on an open D5 power chord. Use alternate picking for the palm-muted notes, and make sure your hammer-ons and pull-offs are strong and clear.&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks11.jpg" /> This sweet, pedal steel–like lick is built around sixth intervals played on nonadjacent strings and features lots of slippery-sounding ascending and descending finger slides.&nbsp;Notice the half-step approaches going into the A and E chords. The challenge here is to get all the notes to ring as close to the same volume as possible. You’re looking for a seamless transition from chord to chord, so practice it slowly at first and strive for a smooth flow of notes. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks12_13.jpg" /> This bouncy single-note line [FIGURE 12] dances around chord tones with “upper and lower neighbors” and is perfect as a fill or for ending a tune. Take note of the position shifts involved, especially in bar 2. Use whichever fingering feels right and doesn’t tie your fingers in knots. FIGURE 13 is a first-position bluegrass lick that sounds equally good on acoustic or electric guitar. Flat-pick all the notes that are not hammered-on or pulled-off, and strive for a seemless flow of notes. If you’re having trouble connecting the whole phrase, try practicing bars 1 and 2 separately, and then put them together. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks14.jpg" /> Demonstrating an approach often used by many of today’s most skilled country guitarists, this lick emulates the celebrated “weeping” sound of a pedal steel, with lots of oblique bends (a technique in which one note is bent while another, unbent note is sounded on another string). Use your pinkie to bend the B string in bar 1, supported by the ring finger, and use your ring and middle fingers for the G-string bends. The final bend is a tricky half-step bend with the middle finger. You’ll want the notes on the D and G strings to continue ringing while you bend the A string upward with the middle finger. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks15.jpg" /> An essential technique for country lead guitar, chicken pickin’ is an application of aggressive hybrid picking and left- and right-hand muting techniques that creates a hen-like clucking sound.&nbsp;Begin this lick by fretting the G string’s seventh-fret D note with your ring finger, then pick the string and bend it up a whole step with the assistance of the middle finger. Hold the bend and pluck the same note with the ring finger of your pick hand while muting the string with your fret hand. This should produce a pitchless snapping sound (indicated in the notation by an X) as the muted string ricochets off the fretboard. The second half of the lick consists of a roll across the top three strings with a held bend on the G string. Let all the notes ring together here until you pick the final note, the A root.&nbsp; <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks16.jpg" /> This traditional Western-swing pedal steel–like chord phrase features a series of shifting triads with chromatic approaches from a half step below. A good way to practice this lick is to first learn each chord shape and then add the slides. Pick each three-string group with the pick and your middle and ring fingers to achieve a simultaneous note attack. It’s important that the slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs ring clearly. The C13 shape at the beginning of the final bar requires a bit of a stretch. You might find this chord shape easier to finger with your thumb rotated further down the neck to give you a little more reach.&nbsp; <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks17.jpg" /> This country-rock lick incorporates a mix of double-stops and bends similar to what Keith Urban uses in a lot of his solos. Play the opening bends with your ring finger, supported by the middle. There is a quick position shift on beat three of bar 1, at which point you barre your index finger across the top two strings at the 10th fret. This part of the lick has a very percussive, yet flowing, fiddle-like vibe, with oblique hammer-ons and pull-offs on the high E string sounded together with alternate-picked 16th notes on the B string. End the lick in the same place it began, in seventh position, with a bend-release on the G string’s ninth fret followed by the D root note at the seventh fret. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks18.jpg" /> &nbsp; This lick is a hybrid-picked, “reverse-roll” pattern with pull-offs that moves down the neck chromatically across two chords. A good way to practice it is by playing one beat, or four 16th notes, at a time. Your index finger will barre across the top two strings in each position. Even though the lick is played over the chords G and D, there is a different implied dominant-seven chord substitution in each eight-note sequence (G7 C7 F7 Bf7) that will add color to any solo. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks19.jpg" /> Inspired by Nashville “hired-gun” studio legend Brent Mason, this slick, challenging lick combines the use of hybrid picking, double-stops, hammer-ons, open strings and single and double pull-offs. Played over an A chord, bar 1 is built around the fifth-position A blues scale “box” pattern. Bar 2 has you moving down to second position with some open-string usage. Break this lick into pieces and slowly work it up to speed. <img src="http://dl.guitarworld.com/tabs/countrylicks20.jpg" /> This is a flashy lick that combines the third-position G minor pentatonic box pattern with open strings that serve to double notes played at the fifth fret, creating a slinky feel and unusual melodic pattern with repeating notes. The pick hand pits the middle finger plucking the G string in opposition to picked downstrokes on the D and A strings, creating a lightning-fast wall of notes. At the end of bar 2, the rhythm speeds up to 16th-note triplets, facilitated by the use of double pull-offs to open strings. The final note is a half-step bend from Fs on the D string’s fourth fret up to the G root note, which may be performed by either pushing or pulling the string with the middle finger (supported by the index). <strong><a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-may-13-brad-paisley/?&amp;utm_source=homepage&amp;utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=PickGrin">For an interview with GW's King of Country Guitar, Brad Paisley, check out the May 2013 issue of Guitar World. Also includes features on the 10 Essential Country Shred Guitar Songs, 10 Pieces of Gear Essential to Modern Country Guitar Tone and more! </a><a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-may-13-brad-paisley/?&amp;utm_source=homepage&amp;utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=BradExcerpt">Check out the issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></strong></p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><p><script src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js" type="text/javascript"></script><object id="myExperience1836188634001" class="BrightcoveExperience"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1836188634001" /></object></p> <!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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His original signature Cry Baby wah combined these two effects into one pedal, which made it somewhat difficult to nail the ideal combination of dirt and wah. </p> <p>Slash’s new approach separates these effects into an entirely revoiced signature SC95 Dunlop Cry Baby Classic wah pedal and a signature SF01 MXR Octave Fuzz. Both feature true-bypass circuitry, a distressed hot-rod finish, battery or external power options, and the trademark Slash-and-crossbones logo. </p> <p><strong>Slash SC95 Cry Baby Classic Signature</strong></p> <p>Most wah pedals have one sweet spot in their treadle’s travel where the filtered, vocal wah occurs. Amazingly, Slash’s SC95 signature pedal has three, thanks to a custom-wound inductor paired with a silky-smooth pot, which allows players to create wah effects that are baritone, soprano or treble. Moving the rocker forward slightly adds a taut and warm bass-centered wah, while traditional midrange wah tones happen midway through the travel, and upper-midrange/treble wah effects occur right before the switch is activated with the rocker fully forward. The most detailed overtones are experienced when paired with single-coil pickups or light-to-medium output humbuckers, and its multipersonality nuances are as balanced with a clean amp as with a dirty one. Blue LEDs light on both sides of the pedal, so you’ll know when it’s on regardless of where you are onstage. </p> <p><strong>MXR SF01 Slash signature Octave Fuzz</strong></p> <p>Fuzz pedals, especially those with an octave feature, are notorious for overtaking the guitar and amp’s tone. Slash’s signature Octave Fuzz, however, produces vintage-style fuzz that blends with your sound at a lower volume than the original signal. The left switch activates the suboctave effect, while the mini top-panel button engages the fuzz with the suboctave. The pedal can be used as a standalone fuzz by activating the left switch with the mini top-panel button engaged and turning down the suboctave knob. </p> <p>Stomping the right footswitch adds the upper-octave fuzz circuit. Although extreme settings are possible, the Slash SF01 shines when used to thicken the signal and create a wider soundstage of pitch and depth variations. I can see everyone from detuned hardcore shredders to traditional blues wailers becoming addicted to this pedal’s refined octave/fuzz grind and attack-preserving tonal integrity. </p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>The finely tuned Dunlop SC95 Cry Baby Classic Slash signature wah is capable of producing three distinct wah voices, while the MXR SF01 Slash signature octave fuzz beautifully maintains the original signal’s purity. </p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1834589421001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1834589421001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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For more about Friedman, check out his <a href="http://www.martyfriedman.com/">official website.</a> </p> <p><strong>I was excited to find out that two of your solo albums, <em>Bad D.N.A.</em> and <em>Future Addict</em>, are finally going to be released in the U.S. Will there be any bonus tracks included, and do you have any plans for a CD of new material any time soon? — Ronnie Dryden</strong></p> <p>I’m busted on the first question! [laughs] I know the European version of <em>Bad D.N.A.</em> has a bonus track [a guitar karaoke version of the title track], but I can’t really say if the American version will have one. As far as the second question, I’m planning a release specifically for America in the early part of next year. When I do, it’s gonna be something really special. I haven’t been to the U.S. in a long time, so I’m really looking forward to the release as well as coming over to play some shows.</p> <p><strong>I recently saw the video you did with [Japanese pop group] the Fanta Band for the song “Fantastic Love.” What’s the story behind that project? — George Evans</strong></p> <p>Wow. I didn’t know anybody in America knew that song! The Fanta Band is like a living version of the Archies, if that reference isn’t dating me too badly. [laughs] Fanta is this soft drink that’s really popular in Japan, and I was part of the Fanta Band commercial advertising campaign for two years. The band was made up of five people whose names spelled Fanta. It was me and four other people, who are all major celebrities in Japan. It was a wonderful campaign, and we did a lot of TV commercials and special appearances. </p> <p>The whole thing became, “What kind of music would this imaginary band make?” because we were doing all these appearances for a year without ever putting out any music. Four of us were musicians [bassist Ayancozey, vocalist Nana Tanimura, guitarist Takamizawa] who play completely different styles, and the fifth guy, Akebono, is a champion sumo wrestler. So then we ended up doing one song together, “Fantastic Love,” which I love. It’s a total J-pop song with lots of guitars and lots of good, fun, upbeat energy. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/6w0rf10nPm0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong> What was it like for you when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011? — John<strong></strong></strong></p> <p>It was by far the most frightening experience I’ve ever gone through. I wasn’t in Fukushima when it happened; I was in Tokyo with my band in our rehearsal space, and the whole building rocked hard. Luckily all the cabs and PA equipment were really huge, so no little things were falling from the ceiling. It was unbelievable. Everyone evacuated outside. Then, along with all of the nuclear stuff that was going on, the aftershocks were serious, too. You’d turn on the news and the newscasters would be wearing helmets, and their cameras were shaking. </p> <p>It was the saddest thing to see, because you knew all the people that were suffering were just regular folks like you and me. One minute they were in school or wherever, and the next they were washed up in the ocean. It was horrible. Now, obviously everything has settled down. But there’s still been aftershocks every day, and you just never know when, or if, something like that is going to happen again. You just have to appreciate what you have when you have it. </p> <p>Back when it happened, I felt so helpless, and I just had to think of a way to do something. So I sold all my Megadeth-era guitars, amps and effects to try and help. The least thing I could do was bring some attention to the situation and contribute some money to help. It ended up being a cathartic experience. It felt good and took the edge off for me. It was also a good closure to [get rid of] all the equipment, which had been sitting in a locker. It was all in pristine condition and hadn’t been touched for years. It can’t bring back the people who are gone, but hopefully it helped a little bit for the people who are left here.</p> <p><strong>What’s your secret for achieving such insanely powerful vibrato? — Angel Noel Herrera</strong></p> <p>There’s no secret to anything! It’s not rocket science! If you do anything for two days, it’s better than doing it for one day. If you do it for three days, it’s better than two days. I never once thought, This is how I’m going to work on my vibrato. I just played, and eventually my vibrato evolved naturally. You shape your music around the sound you want to put out. </p> <p>Obviously, during the first six months you’re playing guitar the cool stuff in your head is not gonna come out of your hands. But the longer you do it, you start to figure out how to manipulate that piece of wood so that the sounds in your head come out of it. Then this wonderful thing happens when the things in your head become cooler, and then you have to continue to play to catch up with the sounds that are in your head. It’s a constant subconscious race.</p> <p><strong>What is your favorite memory of playing with Jason Becker in Cacophony? And what’s your relationship with him like at the moment? — Blaz Lenarcic</strong></p> <p>I loved jamming with that guy. It’d be hard to pick out a specific memory, but I always remember going to his house and hanging out with his family. They would treat me so nice and have food ready and make it real comfortable for us to play guitar all day. And what’s better than that? I really enjoyed playing with him on all levels. </p> <p>He and I have been best of friends since then. We’re still in contact, and you would never know he’s going through the things he’s going through if you were to peek into our correspondence. [Becker has been paralyzed due to the effects of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.] It’s exactly the same as it was before. He’s a wonderful inspiration. Any time I start to feel lazy, he inspires me and I just start to kick ass.</p> <p><strong> Of all the guitars that you’ve played, what is your favorite model, and why? — Matthew Husnik</strong></p> <p>I could really honestly give a shit. [laughs] All the guitars I’ve played have been good. As long as it stays in tune and sounds good, I’m happy with it. If a company consistently makes good guitars, then it’s a wonderful company. I think it’s kinda silly to say, “This is the best guitar above all other guitars.” </p> <p>There’s so much good gear out there. I’ve been playing PRS guitars recently, and they’re wonderful. I was in the studio recording and the engineer busted out one of those [Fractal Audio] Axe-Fx [preamp/effect processors] for the last track. I was like, “This thing is amazing!” So I redid a bunch of tracks, and I never redo anything in the studio, ever. But some of the sounds that the Axe-Fx had were just too deep for words. I also play Engl amps and they’ve never let me down. </p> <p><strong>Considering that you’ve now had an extensive career both in the U.S. and Japan, I was wondering if you could describe the differences between the U.S. and Japanese music scenes. — Mathias Togsverd</strong></p> <p>The biggest one is the absence of gangster rap here in Japan. When rap happens here the lyrical messages are very positive and uplifting. Another thing is that music here is a whole lot more melody based than that in America. America seems to be really focused on the American Idol way of singing, which is singing half the song regularly, and then singing the rest like Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey or Kelly Clarkson. It’s all about strong women screaming. In Japan, it’s more like, “You can never be too cute or happy.” It’s so sickeningly sweet that it can give you a toothache, but if you can dig that, then you’ll be in paradise. </p> <p>One last difference is that in Japan you can have sickeningly sweet pop music chock full of very cool guitar. I love that. In America, if there’s ever guitar in pop music it’s usually throwaway bullshit guitar. But over here, people tend to like the sound of a distorted guitar even if they’re not a heavy metal or rock fan. In Japan, a distorted guitar fits in adult-oriented traditional music, dance music and even pop songs. It’s really a trip.</p> <p><strong>What artists would you suggest for someone who's just getting into J-Pop. — Anna McPherson</strong></p> <p>There are too many to list, but I'll give suggestions on both ends of the spectrum. If you like amazing pop music I would start with the girl groups Perfume and AKB48. Or better yet check out Momoiro Clover Zl I played guitar on their most recent single. None of those are heavy rock music, but if you're indo that, I'd suggest Maximum the Hormone. They're an awesome band and will totally blow your mind.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/megadeth">Megadeth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/marty-friedman">Marty Friedman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-marty-friedman-answers-readers-questions-about-gear-japan-jason-becker-and-more#comments Dear Guitar Hero Marty Friedman Megadeth November 2012 2012 Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 05 Apr 2013 17:09:00 +0000 Brad Angle http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17276 Review: Peavey Triple XXX II Amp http://www.guitarworld.com/review-peavey-triple-xxx-ii-amp <!--paging_filter--><p>Since introducing the VTM Series in the mid Eighties, Peavey has earned a reputation for building fine high-gain amps. The company has rolled out an impressive variety of high-gain models over the years, like the 5150/6505, Triple XXX and JSX. Peavey recently shuffled its amp line around, rebadging the JSX as the Triple XXX II and giving it a significant cosmetic makeover with an arguably cooler V-shaped grille and an undeniably welcome lower price. The Triple XXX II is worth a second look from any guitarist who needs a versatile high-gain amp for the stage and studio.</p> <p><strong>FEATURES</strong></p> <p>The Triple XXX II is a 120-watt amp with four EL34s in the power section (6L6 tubes can be installed instead with a bias adjustment) and four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section. The amp lives up to its name by providing three fully independent channels: Clean, Rhythm and Lead. The Clean channel is exactly that, providing plenty of headroom without even a hint of overdrive. The Rhythm and Lead channels are both high-gain, fire-breathing beasts that start off with aggressive distortion before diving deep into super-saturated sizzle. Each channel has its own volume and set of treble, mid and bass EQ controls (active EQ on the Rhythm and Lead channels), with the Rhythm and Lead channels adding independent gain knobs and fat switches. The Rhythm and Lead channels are routed together through a noise gate, and all of the channels are affected by the presence, resonance and master volume controls. </p> <p>The amp’s rear panel offers a variety of useful, pro-quality features, including a mono effect loop with independent send and return level controls, bias test terminals, a 1/4-inch line-out jack with its own level control, and a seven-pin DIN connector jack for the included three-switch foot controller that lets you select channels and activate the effect loop. A pair of parallel 1/4-inch speaker output jacks and a four-/eight-/16-ohm impedance switch round out the rear panel’s features.</p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>With its three independent channels, the Triple XXX II is a powerful live performance amp that delivers an impressive variety of clean and distorted tones. The amp tends to skip overdrive, going straight from clean to high-gain distortion, but this is easily remedied by using an overdrive pedal on the Clean channel, a simple solution that allows the Triple XXX II to perform like a four-channel amp. The Clean channel and effect loop offer a solid sonic foundation for any pedal board setup, delivering thick, rich tone and plenty of output volume.</p> <p>The Rhythm and Lead channels don’t need any additional overdrive or distortion boost, providing more than enough gain for even the most extreme metal and djent tones. The EQ section produces a surprisingly wide variety of tones, from dark-and-dense dirt to razor-sharp sizzle. The fully adjustable noise gate for both channels removes hiss quite well without adversely affecting attack or decay. The Lead channel is perfectly voiced for soloing, providing a smooth, compressed midrange that sings sweetly with seemingly infinite sustain and a dominant voice that cuts through even the densest layers of distorted rhythm guitars.</p> <p>Particularly admirable is the fact that Peavey manufactures this amp in the United States with the high level of quality control expected for a domestic product. What’s really impressive is that the Triple XXX II is priced lower than many comparable amps produced in China and Vietnam, proving that the U.S. can still produce a high-quality, high-value amp here at home. Competing amp companies should take note of how Peavey managed to do this.</p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>With its expressive midrange and incredible ability to cut through a mix, the Triple XXX II is a powerful high-gain amp that’s perfect for soloists as well as players who need versatile tones onstage.</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1834589388001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1834589388001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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If you wish to have the player instantiated only after the rest of the HTML is processed and the page load is complete, remove the line. --><script type="text/javascript">brightcove.createExperiences();</script><!-- End of Brightcove Player --><!-- End of Brightcove Player --> http://www.guitarworld.com/review-peavey-triple-xxx-ii-amp#comments November 2012 Peavey 2012 Amps News Gear Magazine Tue, 19 Mar 2013 14:32:38 +0000 Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario http://www.guitarworld.com/article/16751 Review: Dean Custom 550 Floyd http://www.guitarworld.com/review-dean-custom-550-floyd <!--paging_filter--><p>Dean Guitars may be best known for its angular Razorback, ML, V and Z models, but since the Eighties the company has also produced a wide variety of curvaceous Superstrat models, like the Bel Aire and Signature. The Custom 550 Floyd is the latest addition to the Dean legacy, featuring the timeless and popular offset double-cutaway contoured body shape, a pair of powerful EMG active humbuckers and a Floyd Rose 1000 bridge. Providing the playability and aggressive tones that have made Dean guitars the choice of guitarists like Rusty Cooley, Dave Mustaine, Vinnie Moore and Michael Schenker, the Custom 550 Floyd is ideal for players who are attracted to the Dean mojo but prefer a traditional guitar shape. It’s also perfect for Superstrat aficionados who are looking for a high-performance shred machine.</p> <p><strong>FEATURES</strong></p> <p>Although the Custom 550 is made from separate components that include a maple through-body neck, an elegantly arched mahogany top and a comfortably contoured mahogany body, it feels like one continuous, solid piece of wood, thanks to its smooth neck-to-body transition and glossy Classic Black or Metallic White finish. Expertly crafted in Korea, the Custom 550 features a 24-fret neck with a 25 1/2–inch scale, 1 11/16–inch nut width, slim C-shaped profile and ebony fingerboard with pearl dot inlays and a stylized pearl V at the 12th fret. Single-layer white ivoroid binding surrounds the fingerboard, while the headstock features five-layer multi-ply white-and-black binding. </p> <p>All of the 550’s hardware is finished in black, including the Grover mini tuners, master volume and master tone knobs, and Floyd Rose 1000 vibrato bridge/locking nut, providing “none more black” styling with the Classic Black finish and attractive two-tone contrast with the Metallic White finish. The pickups are the time-honored and true combination of an EMG 81 bridge humbucker and EMG 85 neck humbucker. Controls are as simple and straightforward as it gets, with a three-position blade pickup-selector switch and no push/pull coil tapping, phase switches or other shenanigans. The output jack is mounted on the side, keeping the guitar cord out of harm’s way. </p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>The combination of active EMG humbucking pickups, maple neck-through-body design and mahogany “wings” gives the Custom 550 an attractive balance of aggressive attack, tight bass, and warm, sustaining midrange. While its note definition is quite articulate, the guitar’s tone never gets harsh or shrill. This 550 really thrives when played through an amp set to extremely high levels of gain, where chords retain character and single-note lines cut through as if a mixing engineer were riding the faders in your favor. But it also delivers sweet, robust clean tones and delightfully raunchy overdrive textures with plenty of balls and bite.</p> <p>The Dean arrived in perfect tuning and stayed in tune even after the Floyd was subjected to 15 minutes of dive bombs and flutter flicks. The relatively flat medium jumbo frets provide a “fretless wonder” feel but with enough meat to dig into when bending notes without losing sustain, and the deep, contoured cutaways provide comfortable access all the way up the neck to the 24th fret. The easy-access compartment for the EMG pickups’ single nine-volt battery pops open with a flick of the finger, allowing you to change batteries in seconds, with no tools.</p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>With its simple, streamlined electronics, outstanding construction and playability and attractive tones, the Dean Custom 550 Floyd deserves recognition as a new class of guitar—the Superbstrat</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1834612733001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1834612733001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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Renowned for their incredible accuracy, Peterson strobe tuners are the preferred choice of pro guitarists and guitar techs who demand the most accurate tuning available. The Peterson Stomp Classic Strobotuner is a compact and affordable stomp box that combines the familiar look and performance of the vintage Conn ST-11 Strobotuner with numerous features found on Peterson’s modern high-end strobe tuners.</p> <p><strong>FEATURES</strong></p> <p>The heart of the Stomp Classic is its large, half-circle backlit LED, which provides exceptionally accurate and easy-to-use “spinning wheel” tuning feedback, even in darkness or direct sunlight. Like Peterson’s high-end units, the Stomp Classic is accurate within 0.1 cents, making it five to 10 times more accurate than other pedal tuners (most of which are accurate to .5 or 1 cents) . Reference pitch can be calibrated from A=390 to A=490 (compared to the A=435-445 range of most competitors), which makes it ideal for the growing number of guitarists who prefer A=432 over A=440. It also offers 25 “sweetened” tuning presets optimized for electric, acoustic, alternate-tuned, 12-string, resonator, bass and guitars that feature the Buzz Feiten tuning system, plus it has space for your own custom tunings. Construction is solid and professional quality, and the pedal has metal screw lugs that let you fasten it securely to a pedal board, a feature that should be standard on all stomp boxes these days.</p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>If you’ve never tuned your guitar with a Peterson strobe tuner, you’ve probably never actually heard it truly in tune. Because the tuner is very sensitive, it works best with a light touch both when plucking strings and adjusting tuning pegs, but once you learn how to get the wheel to come to a complete stop you are rewarded with dead-accurate tuning. The “sweetened” presets can make a guitar sound more musical and harmonious than you ever imagined it could.</p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>Fitting the accurate performance and versatile features of a high-end strobe tuner into a stomp box, the Peterson Stomp Classic Strobotuner is essential for guitarists who want the best tuning capabilities available.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/review-peterson-stomp-classic-strobotuner#comments November 2012 Accessories Gear Fri, 09 Nov 2012 18:37:11 +0000 Chris Gill http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17119 Review: Line 6 Relay G30, G50, and G90 Digital Wireless Guitar Systems http://www.guitarworld.com/review-line-6-relay-g30-g50-and-g90-digital-wireless-guitar-systems <!--paging_filter--><p>Playing onstage with a wireless system without having to worry about getting tangled in cables is one of the most liberating experiences for a guitarist. The problem with many wireless systems is that they can compromise the integrity of a guitar’s tone by rolling off high- and low-end frequencies and compressing the signal somewhat. Line 6’s new Relay Series Digital Wireless Systems are designed to eliminate those problems, providing the same crystal-clear tone and dynamic feel as using a high-end guitar cable along with reliable, dropout- and static-free wireless performance in the most demanding onstage environments.</p> <p><strong>FEATURES</strong></p> <p>Line 6 currently offers three Relay wireless systems—the G90, G50 and G30—which primarily differ in the amount of channels (six for the G30, 12 for the G50 and G90) and range (G30: 100 feet; G50: 200 feet; G90: 300 feet) they offer. The G90 also has a rack-mountable receiver while the G50 and G30 come with compact, stomp box–style receivers. Receiver outputs include 1/4-inch (all), tuner pass-through (G50 and G90) and XLR (G90 only). The G50’s RXs12 receiver has multisegment LEDs for battery life and signal strength, while the G90’s RXR12 receiver provides an LCD for viewing channel number and battery-life data. The G30 system includes the TBP06 transmitter with a 1/4-inch unbalanced input jack, while the G50 and G90 offer the TBP12 transmitter with TA4F connectors (similar to an XLR connector but with four pins) and LCD display.</p> <p>All three systems provide 2.4GHz RF carrier frequencies, 10Hz–20kHz frequency response and transmitter life of up to eight hours using two AA alkaline batteries. The receivers all include a Cable Tone Simulator feature with settings that emulate the tone of 15- or 30-foot cables or bypass the cable simulation section.</p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>The G30 and G50’s receivers are designed for mounting on a pedal board or on top of an amp, and they can be powered with a nine-volt DC adapter or multi-unit power supply. Setting up the system is very easy—simply match the transmitter’s channel number with receiver’s channel number and you’re good to go once you’ve pinpointed the channel with the strongest, most reliable signal. The Cable Tone Simulator’s 15- and 30-foot settings roll off just a hint of brightness, providing warm tones similar to longer cable runs. The range is better than the spec sheet specifies, and the sound and dynamics are actually better than many guitar cables.</p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>Line 6’s Relay Series wireless systems truly deliver the tone and dynamic response of playing with a guitar cable while eliminating the biggest hassles of using a wireless system onstage.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/review-line-6-relay-g30-g50-and-g90-digital-wireless-guitar-systems#comments November 2012 Gear Fri, 09 Nov 2012 18:35:17 +0000 Chris GIll http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17118 Interview: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong on '¡Uno!,' '¡Dos!' and '¡Tre!' http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-green-days-billie-joe-armstrong-uno-dos-and-tre <!--paging_filter--><p>If there’s any overriding theme for <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> — Green Day’s monumental forthcoming trio of albums—that’s it: the weird phantom zone between having a grownup’s responsibilities and wanting to spend your whole life getting your teenage rocks off. The 36-song set is heavily loaded with some of the most adolescent, loud, fast and obscene pop-punk that Green Day have churned out since their 1994 breakthrough album, Dookie, or even their earlier indie-punk releases, like 39/Smooth and Kerplunk. </p> <p>But nestled among the tracks are some of Billie Joe Armstrong’s most mature songs to date, the reflections of a 40-year-old man who ignited the mid-Nineties pop-punk revolution, forged the sacrificial bridge between punk and the classic rock opera in 2004, penned some definitive anthems of the American Apocalypse, acted in a hit Broadway show and sold millions of records. Now, as then, he continues to record and perform with his two best pals from his teenage years, and remains married to the girl he fell in love with when he was 19. </p> <p>“I just think, Holy shit, I’ve been documenting my feelings in songs since I was 16 years old,” he says. “And I’ve gone through 20-something years just documenting how some of those feelings have changed and how you evolve from a kid to an ex-kid, to a man-child, or whatever you want to call it. You realize how juvenile, maybe, some of your feelings still are. And sometimes you see how you evolved as an individual.” </p> <p>But fear not! This is still very much the same guy who named his band’s major-label debut album after excrement. And he says Green Day had a blast all the way through the making of <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em>. “It was a good feeling the whole time,” Armstrong says. “There was never any feeling of pressure. No bad feelings. There was no struggle to make it.” </p> <p>Armstrong is kicking back in a lounge at a massive rehearsal studio outside L.A. He’s dressed in standard-issue street-punk gear: red Converse, black jeans and a T-shirt. His hair is messy, Beatles-esque and, following another one of his weird blond periods, once again jet black. Out in the hallway, bassist Mike Dirnt is trying on a succession of slim-cut, boldly striped trousers for a photo shoot to promote the new discs, pulling the garments from gigantic wardrobe cases that clutter the corridor. He’s still in his own blond hair phase. When I commend him and the band on coughing up 36 killer tracks, with nary a stinker or dog in the bunch, he shrugs and says, “Well, it wasn’t that hard. We wrote over 80 tunes for this thing!”</p> <p><em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> were the result of a tremendous burst of creativity on Green Day’s part. It was fueled by several things. For one, they made a firm decision to abandon the narrative, rock opera format of their two previous studio releases, <em>American Idiot</em> and <em>21st Century Breakdown</em>. Armstrong found it liberating not to have to write songs to fit a plot or conceptual brief. “We definitely wanted to get away from that,” he says. “Closing the chapter on 21st Century Breakdown and that era gave me the freedom as a songwriter just to start getting into the fun of playing music again and changing things up. If anything, there was a conscious effort to get back to basics and just treat each song individually.” </p> <p>Armstrong also had plenty of time and inspiration to write new songs while he was appearing in the Broadway production of <em>American Idiot</em> in 2010 and 2011. “Being in New York for that long a period of time,” he says, “I fell into this routine where I would get up in the morning, have my coffee, go for a walk, come back to my apartment, write a song and then do the show at night. I set up a small studio in my apartment where I could get my ideas down. Then I’d shoot over to the theater and act like a madman onstage. And being around all the actors, surrounded by all that constant creativity, I just couldn’t help it; I started writing songs.”</p> <p>Back at their headquarters in Oakland, California, Green Day started arranging and structuring the new material. “Next thing we knew, we ended up with something like 30 songs. So it was like, ‘What do we do with this? Is this a double album? Are we doing <em>Sandinista!</em> here?’” Armstrong says, referring to the Clash’s 1980 triple-album. “So we said, ‘Let’s do three discs and release one record at a time, and wouldn’t it be funny if we called it <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em>? It’s almost like Volume One, Volume Two…in the way of <em>Van Halen I</em> and <em>II</em> or <em>Led Zeppelin I</em> and <em>II</em>. Only we have three of them, and we put one of our faces on each album’s cover.”</p> <p>The joke gets an extra lift from the fact that Green Day drummer Tré Cool adorns the cover of <em>¡Tré!</em>. Billie is Uno, as befits Green Day’s main songwriter, lead singer and guitarist. But one isn’t sure how Dirnt feels about being stuck with Numero Dos. “At first it started out as a joke,” says Armstrong, who admits to being the one who came up with the names and the whole idea in the first place. “But the more we talked about it, the more we said, ‘You know, it’s pretty catchy.’” </p> <p>The band, its label and its management also came up with the idea to release the three discs in succession rather than put them out all at once or as a set. <em>¡Uno!</em> comes out September 25, <em>¡Dos!</em> hits on November 13, and <em>¡Tré!</em> will be released on January 15, 2013. </p> <p>It’s an unconventional move, but one that’s perhaps more attuned to the short-attention-span digital era. Even at the height of the record biz, double and triple albums were a tough sell. And with so much attention on single song downloads these days, even a single-album release is risky business. But then again, the idea of a punk band doing a rock opera seemed pretty crazy back in 2004. </p> <p>Each of the new discs has its own stylistic character, more or less. Classic Green Day predominates on <em>¡Uno!</em> whereas <em>¡Dos!</em> is more in the raunchy garage-rock mode of Green Day’s 2008 side project, the Foxboro Hot Tubs. “It’s a real Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas kind of death-trip vibe,” Armstrong says, “like a party out of control.” <em>¡Tré!</em> is more of a mixed bag. It contains some of the set’s more reflective songs and some of the most epic arrangements, complete with string and brass orchestrations. </p> <p>Armstrong says that the pop-punk material is what came pouring out of him first. “Just because I’ve been doing it for so long and I love that kind of music,” he says. “It’s just in my DNA at this point. On the last record I veered away from it so much, to the point where I sort of drove myself crazy. But the last record did have a song called ‘Murder City,’ which is a straight-up Green Day punk-rock song, and it ended up becoming my favorite song on that album. </p> <p>"So with the new stuff, that kind of thing just came naturally. I think that the first songs that were written were ‘Stay the Night,’ ‘Nuclear Family’ and ‘Carpe Diem.’ So there was this power-pop thing happening. Then it became, like, ‘Guys, no ballads. Let’s just write rock and roll!’ But all of a sudden ‘Oh Love’ came out. It’s not really a ballad, but it’s not a power-pop song either. It’s powerful, but it’s slower and it’s got a groove to it. It’s kind of something we haven’t really done before, and at the same time it’s pretty epic.”</p> <hr /> <p>As it turns out, the song makes a great 12th-track album closer for <em>¡Uno!</em> — a graceful counterpoint to the pop-punk mayhem that has come before and a musical marker that points the way to some of the material on the two subsequent discs. To complement the stylistic thrust of ¡Uno!, Armstrong also had a clear sense of the guitar sound he wanted and the overall production approach he wished to pursue.</p> <p>“I really wanted the record to be a classic Green Day sound,” he says, “but I also wanted to introduce new elements of different guitar sounds—cleaner tones—and to mic the room so you can get the real power of the speakers moving the air to give it more of a live sound. It’s a bit of an AC/DC type of guitar sound, where it’s really powerful but what you’re actually listening to is a clean guitar tone.”</p> <p>This live-in-the-studio approach was also facilitated by the fact that Green Day rehearsed the songs at the same facility in which they recorded them—their own place, Jingletown, in Oakland. It was formerly called Studio 880 but has since been endowed with a new name and new Neve mixing console. For the sessions, the band also drafted its longtime live guitarist, Jason White. </p> <p>“He was in the room with us the whole time,” Armstrong says. “He’s been playing with us for over 10 years now, so we figured, ‘Let’s bring him in and he’ll be the fourth member. He can be Cuatro.’ So for all the rhythm tracks, he’s in the right speaker and I’m in the left. He added a really great element because he’s got a really smooth kind of style to him, whereas I’m more percussive. He matches what I’m doing but adds a vibe to it.” </p> <p>Longtime Green Day producer Rob Cavallo also encouraged the band’s live-in-the-studio approach to the recordings. “When Rob came and watched us jam,” Armstrong recounts, “he was, like, ‘This is what the record should sound like. It should sound like you guys jamming in this room.’” </p> <p>Cavallo was Green Day’s producer from <em>Dookie</em> onward (although his involvement in 2000’s <em>Warning</em> was minimal). But he fell away from the fold for 21st Century Breakdown, which was produced by Butch Vig. So how did Cavallo get back in the picture? </p> <p>“By apologizing,” Armstrong deadpans before dissolving into laughter. “He just wanted to mend things. We had sort of a strained relationship after American Idiot. I don’t really know why. I don’t think he even knows why. It just turned ugly for a while. But we started having talks together again, and he said how much he really wanted to do the record. I started getting into playing him demos again, and he started champing at the bit to produce. So it was just a slow process of rebuilding the friendship and the relationship again.”</p> <p>One other thing helped put Green Day back in pop-punk mode: they started playing songs from their first two albums, <em>39/Smooth</em> and <em>Kerplunk</em>, while touring for <em>21st Century Breakdown</em>. </p> <p>“On our last tour, we were playing a lot of old songs, like ‘Who Wrote Holden Caufield?’ and ‘One for the Razorbacks,’” Armstrong says. “It was really fun. And sometimes when you’re in the middle of playing the song you start to realize, Oh, god, I remember who this song was about. I remember what I was feeling at that time. How is it relevant to me now? You almost get lost in all that, and you’re performing it in front of 10,000 people or whatever. It’s a trip going back like that. I think we were reluctant to do that before the last tour, but then we just started bringing those songs in. We’ve always wanted to write songs that we could play 20 years later, like the Rolling Stones are able to play ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ and stuff like that.” </p> <p><em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> are certainly awash in songs that reference Armstrong’s punk-rock past as a kid growing up in Berkeley, California’s highly politicized, hardcore Gilman Street scene. The new albums’ overall mood of adolescent pop abandon is tempered by a wistful note of nostalgia that creeps into many tunes, some of the most frankly autobiographical songs that Armstrong has ever written. </p> <p>“X-Kid” from <em>¡Tré!</em> deals with the suicide of a close friend of Armstrong’s. “I don’t really want to get into it,” he says. “It’s too heavy.” And “Carpe Diem” from <em>¡Uno!</em> is also haunted by intimations of mortality. That song’s about living in the moment,” he says. “I think the older you get, you have to appreciate your time on this planet.”</p> <p>On a more cheerful note, “Sweet 16” is an unabashed love song to Armstrong’s wife, Adrienne, written as a gift to her for the couple’s 16th anniversary. They met during an early Green Day van tour while she was studying sociology at the University of Minnesota. At the time Armstrong was 18 and she was 20. It was pretty much love at first sight, although it took them both a little while to realize it fully. </p> <p>“‘Sweet 16’ is about being in a relationship for a really long time,” Armstrong says. “The first verse is about my relationship with Adrienne when we first met. And the second verse is more about our relationship now. And just how time passes and just kinda, ‘Wow, we’re still here and still together.’” </p> <p>Perhaps more surprising is the song “Amanda” on <em>¡Tré!</em>. It references Armstrong’s brief relationship with a militant feminist punk-rock girl, actually named Amanda, during the Gilman Street days. She broke up with him and has haunted Green Day’s body of work ever since, although usually in veiled or fictionalized form. She was the inspiration for Green Day’s mega-hit “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and also formed the basis for the character Whatsername in <em>21st Century Breakdown</em>.</p> <p>“Yeah, she’s in that,” Armstrong acknowledges, “and all the way back to a song like ‘Stuart and the Avenue’ [from <em>Insomniac</em>]. She’s an old friend who goes back to a long time ago—kind of like a recurring dream. She’s shown up in different songs here and there that are bitter or bittersweet. I wrote the song ‘Amanda’ from a perspective of, ‘Okay, now that we’re grown-ups…’ She’s got her kids and her husband, and I’ve got my family. And it’s just asking the question, ‘How are you? What’s life like for you? This is what I’m up to.’ We had a chance to reconnect and talk a little bit. And that was that.”</p> <hr /> <p>Gilman Street memories of a different sort pop up on “Rusty James” from <em>¡Uno!</em>. “The song title is from the name of a character in the book Rumble Fish,” Armstrong explains. “And the song itself is about my old punk-rock scene and the survivors of it—the initial starters of that scene and how some of them didn’t really live up to their promises and just became finger pointers a little bit. And then they disappeared. And just the feeling that…Green Day, we’re still here. Where are you? What happened to all the values that you were bringing to the table? Now you’re gone. All the things you were telling people to fight for, you’re not fighting for them anymore. So that’s probably one of the more bitter songs I’ve written.” </p> <p>Armstrong is certainly still fighting, having written the two most politically astute rock albums of the new century’s first decade with American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. And while <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> are certainly less overtly political, the song “99 Revolutions” on the latter album celebrates the Occupy movement. </p> <p>“My idea of the Occupy movement goes beyond just left-wing radicals,” he says. “I think 99 percenters go all the way from that to cops, firefighters, nurses, teachers and lots of people in my own family. My mom’s worked at a diner her whole life. My dad was a truck driver. My brother works as a plumber. So I think there’s a really broad idea of what the 99 percent is. I’m just tapping into my working-class background in that song and then thinking about what is fair and what is not fair. And how the one percent should be taxed more, and how corporations should be taxed more, and how we should have things like free health care and building an infrastructure of schools and bridges and fixing roads. And by doing that, giving people more work.</p> <p>“And it’s interesting to see some of the Tea Party people. It’s like, You don’t understand: you are a part of that. This directly affects you. With free health care you’re able to start your own independent business. You don’t have to worry about paying certain bills if you get sick, or having to deal with some fucked-up corrupt insurance company. You can be more independent and you can have that load lifted off you and your family a little more.” </p> <p>While Armstrong supports the Occupy movement in general, some of the protests in his hometown of Oakland got pretty vociferous, and he’s critical of the militant fringe who smashed the windows of small local businesses. “It’s like, You’re bashing store fronts in Oakland?” he says. “Doesn’t Oakland have enough problems as it is? But the core of the movement…there are some smart people who are pushing it in the right direction.”</p> <p>At the other end of the songwriting spectrum, <em>¡Dos!</em> serves up raunchy, socially irresponsible rockers, like “Fuck Time.” There’s no mistaking what’s on Armstrong’s mind when the song’s grinding rock and roll chorus slams in with the line, “Oh, baby, baby, it’s fuck time!’ </p> <p>“That was originally going to be a Foxboro Hot Tubs song,” he says. “But we liked it so much that we said, ‘Why waste it?’ It’s just a big, fun, stupid song. It doesn’t imply anything; it comes out and says it. A lot of old rock and roll songs like Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” or some of Elvis’ old songs imply sex. Or just the term rock and roll: rockin’ and rollin’—well, that means fucking. So why not say it? Just go there.” </p> <p>Among their other virtues, <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> certainly set the record for the largest number of obscenities per song on any Green Day album. “You’re not the first one to point that out,” Armstrong says, laughing. “It was totally by accident.”</p> <p>The only things raunchier than some of the lyrics on the three discs are Armstrong’s wild guitar solos. There is hardly a tune on which he doesn’t bust out some frenetic six-string moves. </p> <p>“Yeah, I haven’t pulled that shit out since 1991, since <em>Kerplunk</em>, ” he says. “When I did guitar solos on the last two albums, I wanted to do things that were more tasteful. But this time I just wanted to throw the book out on that, do whatever the song called for, rock out and create a party atmosphere. Might as well show off what I can do and just go for it.” </p> <p>Armstrong’s guitar solo in the song “Make Out Party,” from <em>¡Dos!</em>, attains a degree of adolescent shreddiness not heard since the days of early indie-punk proto Green Day tracks like “Dry Ice” from their 1990 EP, <em>1,000 Hours</em>. “That one’s channeling Jimmy Page a bit,” Armstrong says of the “Make Out Party” solo. “Page has a way of playing guitar solos that, when he goes into fast stuff, it almost sounds sloppy, like some of the guitar solos on Led Zeppelin II. So I was just going for that kind of thing—making it dirty, slightly bluesy but also kind of out there at the same time.” </p> <p>This kind of guitar work didn’t come easily to Armstrong at first. “It was difficult to re-enter that mode,” he says. But then I just started doing it more. And Mike was really, like, ‘Fuckin’ go for it man! Just go!’” </p> <hr /> <p>For all of Armstrong’s precociousness as a songwriter and spokesman, Green Day remain very much a band and an equal partnership. The egalitarian Gilman Street power structure lives on in the band’s internal dynamic. Armstrong defers to his bandmates on most musical matters. He’ll even hesitate to play a new song for his wife before running it past Dirnt and Tré first. </p> <p>“I don’t want to piss off the band,” he says. “They’d be, like, ‘Why are you playing the song for someone else before we get to listen to it?’”<br /> One wonders how it’s possible to get any kind of serious musical comment out of the irrepressible Tré Cool, who always seems to be in full-on prankster mode. </p> <p>“Yeah, Tré does a lot of clowning around and says a lot of crazy stuff,” Armstrong allows. “I love him for that, and that’s part of him. But when he’s behind the drum set, he’s completely focused and completely in his element. I think he’s one of the best drummers out there. His character comes out in his drumming. It’s like some singers, where their speaking voice sounds like their singing voice. It’s authentic. </p> <p>“And I think Mike is the same way as a bass player. Mike is really focused too. And I love his kind of melodies on the bass. He’s kind of the secret weapon on these records in a lot of ways, ’cause the sound of the guitars make room for his bass playing to come out a little bit more.” </p> <p>Dirnt was the catalyst for another expletive-studded, standout track, “Kill the DJ” from <em>¡Uno!</em>. “Mike wanted me to write something four-on-the-floor,” Armstrong says. “Something like Gang of Four or Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass,’ almost a disco kind of song. I didn’t really have any references for that kind of thing, outside of maybe the Clash. So I wrote that song and I just like the irony of writing a dance song that’s saying ‘kill the DJ.’” </p> <p>But Armstrong denies that the song is any kind of comment on the contemporary music scene and the ascendancy of superstar DJs like Skrillex and Deadmau$. “No, not at all,” he says. “I hope some of those people take that track and remix it! I think the line ‘Kill the DJ’ is more a take on all these opinions you get when you watch television these days—anything from Bill Maher to Bill O’Reilly: culture wars and all that; the static noise that keeps coming at you. And there’s that moment when you just say, ‘Shut the fuck up!’ That’s my take on it: ‘Just give me fuckin’ peace.’ Also, the song has the vibe of a party that’s gone gross—the feeling that everyone’s in the bathroom at the same time doing cocaine together.” </p> <p>The second disc’s closing track stands in stark contrast to the “party out of control” vibe of the preceding songs. Titled “Amy,” it’s a posthumous homage to Amy Winehouse. “I saw a video of her singing and playing guitar,” Armstrong says. “I didn’t realize how great a guitar player she was. And that inspired me to write that song, kind of sending my condolences.” </p> <p>And “Amy,” Armstrong says, served as a catalyst for the opening track on <em>¡Tré!</em> “Brutal Love” is a searing R&amp;B ballad in the style of the late Otis Redding. It’s a song that demonstrates Green Day’s remarkable range. Few, if any, of their pop-punk peers could pull off anything remotely like this, complete with a horn chart right out of the Stax Records heyday, no less. </p> <p>“In the past, whenever we did horns or strings, the person who was doing the orchestration had to fit the arrangement inside the melody and all the guitars and try to get it heard,” Armstrong says. “But this time I talked to Tom Kitt, who did the all the arrangements, and I said, ‘I’m gonna leave it wide open so you can do whatever you want.’ So he wrote all the arrangements to just a bare-bones vocal and guitar track. That let him build that tension on ‘Brutal Love’ and give it that Otis Redding kind of feel.” </p> <p>If ¡Uno! is the disc that will appeal most to <em>Dookie</em> fans, <em>¡Tré!</em> is the one most likely to win approval from those who prefer the Green Day of <em>American Idiot</em> and <em>21st Century Breakdown</em>. The final disc of the new trilogy closes with “The Forgotten,” a piano ballad embellished with lavish strings. </p> <p>Certainly, it’s not every day that a band records three albums of new music. To commemorate the occasion, Green Day are preparing a documentary film on the making of the discs. “I really like certain surf documentaries, like <em>Sprout</em>, <em>Seedling</em> and <em>One California Day</em>,” Armstrong explains. “We wanted to do a film like that, capturing the spirit and lifestyle of the band. We didn’t want to do something where you just sit down and talk and it’s just your face on the screen. So there’s not really a narrative behind our film; it’s just more about what went on while we were making the album. We had a pirate radio station and we built a skateboard ramp. There’s surfing and us jamming, of course, playing throughout the whole thing. We wanted to make something that looks really good, almost like an art documentary in a lot of ways.” </p> <p>Meanwhile, the world awaits another new film release, the American Idiot movie, which is likely to include a screen role for Armstrong. “It’s all in the works right now,” he says. “It’s just about that long process of movie making. I think I might play Saint Jimmy for the movie. There are talks about that. The great thing was to be able to do it onstage first and not be in front of the camera right away. But I got the acting bug a little bit, and I’m kind of easing my way into it. I want to learn more about it and learn from my friends who are actors. That’s kind of where I’m at with it now, just asking questions. I’ll start getting into it more and more after we do this wild run.” </p> <p>The “wild run” in question is the marathon Green Day tour behind <em>¡Uno!</em> <em>¡Dos!</em> and <em>¡Tré!</em> which kicked off in August. “We’re touring our asses off,” Armstrong confirms. “We’re looking at anything from playing festivals and arenas to clubs and theaters. The idea is to design our production to be able to fit into all those different kinds of buildings. I can’t wait. You get to the point where you’re just talking about your new record, and now I just wanna get out there and play the new stuff.” </p> <p>But he does have one last thing to say about Green Day, the Gilman Street punk band that became one of the most significant rock and roll bands of the 21st century. “It’s weird when people ask me, ‘Are you still a punk band?’” Armstong says. “I don’t know! I don’t know if we were ever really a punk band to begin with, because we’ve always loved melody. We’ve never really been like Minor Threat. I love Minor Threat, but I never wanted to be that. My favorite stuff was the Undertones, Generation X and the Ramones. The Ramones wrote melodies like the Beach Boys. So is that punk? And some of the later Clash records—do you consider that punk? A song like ‘Bankrobber’: Is that a punk song? It’s backward reggae! I’ve always loved power pop and I’ve just tried to push it forward, see how far I could take it and make it even more powerful. I just feel like we’ve continued this tradition of rock and roll and punk rock and made it better. I mean I’m slightly biased, but…”</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/green-day">Green Day</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-green-days-billie-joe-armstrong-uno-dos-and-tre#comments Billie Joe Armstrong Green Day November 2012 2012 Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 09 Nov 2012 17:09:57 +0000 Alan Di Perna, Photo by Ross Halfin http://www.guitarworld.com/article/16755 Tune-Up: The Gaslight Anthem on Their New Album, 'Handwritten' http://www.guitarworld.com/tune-gaslight-anthem-their-new-album-handwritten <!--paging_filter--><p>The Gaslight Anthem have been compared to Bruce Springsteen so many times that it almost seemed an inevitability when the Boss hopped onstage with the New Jersey quartet at England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2009. Their 2010 album, <em>American Slang<em>, was essentially <em>Born to Run</em> remade by four snot-nosed punks.</em></em></p> <p>But when talking about the group’s latest album, <em>Handwritten</em>, frontman Brian Fallon singles out a different guitar hero as his latest lodestar. “For me right now it’s all about Keith Richards,” he says of the Rolling Stones legend. “The way he plays—not quite lead and not quite rhythm—that’s a big part of this record.” </p> <p>He’s not kidding. Throughout this powerful 11-track disc, Fallon and guitarist Alex Rosamilia deliver their intertwined riffs with a rootsy swagger that recalls classic Keef. It’s the band’s most polished effort yet, but it also feels newly relaxed and unhurried.</p> <p>The Gaslight Anthem traveled to Nashville to record <em>Handwritten</em>, their major-label debut, with producer Brendan O’Brien, well known from his work with Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam and, not coincidentally, Springsteen. “He shows you that you don’t just have to use four chords,” Fallon says of O’Brien. “You can change things up and experiment.” (The frontman wrote one cut, “Here Comes My Man,” on a 12-string guitar, an instrument he’d never before put his hands on.)</p> <p>Rosamilia adds that O’Brien taught him about restraint—“to play a little more sparsely than I might have wanted to.” The hook-infested result may well move the Gaslights into the hard-rock mainstream. Even if it doesn’t, Fallon already considers it a success. “This is the album we’ve always been aiming to make,” he says. “We just didn’t have the skills to do it till now.”</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/tune-gaslight-anthem-their-new-album-handwritten#comments November 2012 The Gaslight Anthem Interviews Features Wed, 07 Nov 2012 19:42:15 +0000 Mikael Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17352 Interview: Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington Discusses 'Last of a Dyin' Breed' http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-lynyrd-skynyrds-gary-rossington-discusses-last-dyin-breed <!--paging_filter--><p>"You’ll have to speak up a bit,” Gary Rossington says, practically shouting into the phone. The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and co-founder is speaking to Guitar World from “out in the mountains” in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and cell service is sketchy. Which is fine by him—Rossington is taking advantage of a short break in the band’s schedule for some quiet time with his wife and grandkids. </p> <p>And he’ll need the rest. Skynyrd are currently gearing up for the release of their new and 13th studio album, <em>Last of a Dyin’ Breed</em>, as well as a cross-country tour in support of it. Rossington says he’s particularly looking forward to playing the new material onstage. “We’ve already tried out a few songs, like the title track, and they’ve gone over great,” he says. Which is not surprising. In contrast to the country leanings and more politicized tone of the band’s previous album, 2009’s God &amp; Guns, the new effort is a straight up shit-kickin’ southern hard-rock record in the grand tradition of, well, Lynyrd Skynyrd. </p> <p>“I think that <em>God &amp; Guns</em> turned out a little more ‘country’ than we wanted it to be,” Rossington admits. “But that was more of the thing a few years ago. This one we feel is more like how we did it in the old days. Simple songs with good riffs, good choruses and a little bit of guitar solo. Just get in and get out and have a good time doing it.” </p> <p>Indeed, <em>Last of a Dyin’ Breed</em> Breed is infused with a vibrancy that belies the fact that Skynyrd—which in addition to Rossington, the group’s sole remaining original member, also includes guitarists Rickey Medlocke and Mark “Sparky” Matejka, singer Johnny Van Zant, drummer Michael Cartellone, pianist Peter Keys and new bassist (and former Black Crowes member) Johnny Colt—have now been releasing records for just under 40 years. The album stands as another rock-solid entry in their legendary canon, with midtempo southern stompers like “One Day at a Time” and “Homegrown,” soaring ballads like “Ready to Fly” and “Start Livin’ Life Again,” and rollicking, slide-guitar-infused statements of purpose like the title track. </p> <p>And, according to Rossington, Skynyrd are far from done. “As long as the fans keep wanting to hear new records from us every few years, we’ll keep making them,” he says. </p> <p>In fact, today, at 60, Rossington says that he loves playing as much as he ever has—if not more. “Back in the day, it was hard to appreciate it sometimes,” he says. “We were young and crazy and not really keeping up with what was going on. We were too busy just doing it. Now I’m more laid-back and a little older and more experienced, and I’m kinda digging it. I feel like I have more time to enjoy everything.”</p> <p><strong>Given the name of the new album, do you feel that, musically speaking, Lynyrd Skynyrd is in fact the “last of a dying breed”?</strong></p> <p>I do. But it’s not just us; it’s all the bands that were around in the Seventies and Sixties, and even the Eighties. There were a lot of bands touring on the club circuit and the concert scene with great guitar players, and that’s a dying breed. Now it’s more singles-oriented acts and pop musicians and hip-hop guys. It’s not really blues-based guitar players getting the band together and touring. So it’s changed. The old bands like us are few and far between.</p> <p><strong>On your current tour you’re playing shows with both the Allman Brothers and ZZ Top. As far as southern rock is concerned, you three might comprise the entire breed right there. </strong></p> <p>[laughs] Yeah, right. That’s about it! Almost everybody else is gone, unfortunately, or just not playing anymore.</p> <p><strong>It’s been reported that you took a “live-in-the-studio” approach to recording the new album. </strong></p> <p>We did. Everybody had their parts and we’d just go in and play it together, so to speak. The only things we overdubbed were vocals and a few guitar leads. Otherwise we had bass, drums, keyboards and three guitars all going at once in a big room in Nashville. It gives the album a real band feel. We just miked up and went for it. It was really fun.</p> <p><strong>Is that how you used to do it back in the day?</strong></p> <p>That’s the way we always recorded back in the Seventies. Maybe we’d fix something up later or play it a few times to get the right feel. But that was it. And that was the way bands did it in general. There wasn’t so much technology around. There wasn’t wireless or digital or anything like that. So you had to really play. [laughs]</p> <p><strong>What gear did you use on the record?</strong></p> <p>My main guitars were my Les Paul ’59 reissues. Those are my babies. For amps I used my old Peavey Mace that I’ve had since the early days, and also an old Marshall 100-watt that I got back in the Seventies in England. It’s the real deal. Otherwise, I don’t use a lot of pedals and gadgets. Maybe a little compression or wah on a couple songs. But generally I just go straight in.</p> <p><strong>From a guitar standpoint, how would you describe the roles that you, Rickey and Sparky each play in the band?</strong></p> <p>Well, it’s like how in the original band there was always a bit of a different style between myself and [deceased co-founding guitarist] Allen Collins. That’s the way it is with me and Rickey. Live, Rickey plays all of Allen’s parts, and on the new stuff he still plays a little like him. Because we all grew up playing together; Rickey was in the very first version of the band [Medlocke played drums in an early incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd]. So he saw how we were playing and he was playing right along with us. And then Sparky adds the Steve Gaines or Ed King part to it—that faster style of playing on a Strat. With the old stuff he’ll cover those parts, and on the new stuff he’s so good he can do anything. </p> <p><strong>He’s a pretty amazing player.</strong></p> <p>I’d say he’s one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen. We actually have to kind of tell him to slow down here and there. He plays so much hat you gotta kind of put him in his place. But he’s a freak. He plays every style, and he’s a really good picker. Little bastard. [laughs]</p> <p><strong>Speaking of amazing guitarists, you also had John 5 help out on the record. </strong></p> <p>He wrote a bit with [producer] Bob Marlette out in California. And he plays on the song “Start Livin’ Life Again.” It’s a blues tune with just two guitarists—the other is Jerry Douglass, who plays Dobro. And he’s probably the best Dobro and slide lap player in the world. </p> <p><strong>John’s an interesting character. The way he plays is not what you would expect from looking at him.</strong></p> <p>[laughs] Oh yeah. The first time we met him, he was coming off a photo shoot with Marilyn Manson. He had his eyebrows shaved and these big stacked shoes on and all this crazy-looking stuff. But he’s very down to earth and a sweet little kid. And he’s so good. He’s like Sparky. He can play anything.</p> <p><strong>Skynyrd has so many huge hits. Do you find it difficult to find space for new songs in the set list when you go out on tour?</strong></p> <p>Oh yeah. We still love playing all the old stuff, but even there, we try to change a song or two every tour to keep things fresh. And we like to add in as many of the newer ones as we can just for a change of pace. The crowds seem to like it, too.</p> <p><strong>Do you ever feel in competition with your back catalog?</strong></p> <p>Not really, because we don’t think like that. We just try to make sure that people know what the band’s about. We’re songwriters and creatives, and that never stops. It just keeps coming. And every now and then we try to get it out of us and let the people hear it. And hopefully they’ll like the new stuff just like they do the old.</p> <p><strong>Those old songs continue to endure. I read somewhere that “Sweet Home Alabama” has registered something like two million ringtone downloads.</strong></p> <p>I can’t believe people still love it so much. I’m so touched and honored by that. It’s great. It’s really special, not just for me but all the members of the band, past and present, whether they’re with us or not. It goes to show that the music is still around. I just want to keep the name out and keep it going and let people hear it as long as I can.</p> <p><strong>For all the achievements you’ve had over your career, I’m sure selling millions of ringtone downloads is not one you could have ever imagined.</strong></p> <p>[laughs] It blows my mind. It really does. Back when we wrote the song there wasn’t cell phones or the internet or any of that. There wasn’t really much in the way of computers, even. I don’t even think we had Pac-Man yet.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-lynyrd-skynyrds-gary-rossington-discusses-last-dyin-breed#comments Lynyrd Skynyrd November 2012 Interviews Features Wed, 07 Nov 2012 19:40:28 +0000 Richard Bienstock, Photo by Clay Patrick McBride http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17351 Metal For Life: Crushing Thrash Metal Rhythm Parts http://www.guitarworld.com/metal-life-crushing-thrash-metal-rhythm-parts <!--paging_filter--><p><em>The following content is related to the November 2012 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our <a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/products/guitar-world-nov-12-green-day/?&amp;utm_source=guitarworld.com&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=metalforlife">online store</a>.</em></p> <p>One of my favorite things about heavy metal music is the brutal rhythm guitar parts that have been devised by the genre's greatest bands, such as Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and mothers. In this month's column, I'd like to show you some of the effective techniques for developing cool-sounding and very metal rhythm guitar parts.</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1828304197001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1828304197001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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If you wish to have the player instantiated only after the rest of the HTML is processed and the page load is complete, remove the line. --><script type="text/javascript">brightcove.createExperiences();</script><!-- End of Brightcove Player --><!-- End of Brightcove Player --> http://www.guitarworld.com/metal-life-crushing-thrash-metal-rhythm-parts#comments Metal For Life Metal Mike November 2012 Lessons Tue, 09 Oct 2012 14:13:44 +0000 Metal Mike Chlasciak http://www.guitarworld.com/article/16743 Interview: Deftones on Their New Album, 'Koi Yo Nokan' http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-deftones-their-new-album-koi-yo-nokan <!--paging_filter--><p>“There was really no magic to it,” Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter says about the writing process behind his band’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up to 2010’s <em>Diamond Eyes</em>. “We pretty much did what we always do. If I were to describe a day of writing songs, it would start off by saying hello to everyone, rolling a couple joints, getting real high, jamming out for a little bit, stopping, smoking some more and then playing again.” </p> <p>Carpenter may have a relaxed attitude toward the creative process, but as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And for close to 20 years, the Deftones—which also includes singer Chino Moreno, drummer Abe Cunningham and keyboardist and turntablist Frank Delgado (former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega has been filling in for original member Chi Cheng, who has been incapacitated since a 2008 car accident)—have been crafting some of the most expansive and inventive music in the metal world. </p> <p>It’s an approach that looks to be continued on the new, and as of press time, still-untitled effort. Though the album is in the mixing stages, the band recently performed two of its cuts at a private show in L.A. One song with the working title “Roller Derby” featured aggressive, odd-metered verses that roll into lush and textured choruses. The other, a slow-burning number called “Rosemary,” opened with watery guitars and piled on instrumentation that grew to a crescendo. </p> <p>Among the tracks the band has yet to unveil onstage, Carpenter points to one, tentatively titled “Dazzle,” as a standout. “I finger tap the entire time on that one,” he says. “I don’t use a pick at all, and I’ve never done something like that before.” He credits progressive-metal acts like Animals as Leaders and Periphery for inspiring his approach on the song. “It’s not like I wasn’t aware of tapping before,” he says. “I’ve been listening to Meshuggah for over a decade, and Fredrik Thordendal has always done it. My favorite guitar player is Eddie Van Halen, and he’s a fingertapping genius. But watching a guy like [Animals as Leader’s] Tosin Abasi, I just fell in love with that shit all over again, and beyond the level that I’ve always loved it.”</p> <p>Regarding the song’s title, he laughs. “It will probably change, but it came from when we were writing it. I was telling the other guys, ‘I need some fucking dazzle in my style! I don’t play with no dazzle!’ And I figured fingertapping is some dazzling shit.”</p> <p>According to Carpenter, the Deftones plan to have the new record out by the end of October, at which time they’ll embark on a headlining tour in support of it (the band recently completed a short coheadlining run with System of a Down). As for whether he has any last words to satiate fans champing at the bit to hear the new material, he is characteristically vague: “I would just say that it’s going to be like any other record we’ve put out in that it’s not going to sound like the last one or any of the other ones. But it will sound just like us.”</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-deftones-their-new-album-koi-yo-nokan#comments Deftones November 2012 Interviews Features Sun, 07 Oct 2012 19:44:46 +0000 Richard Bienstock, Photo by Jimmy Hubbard http://www.guitarworld.com/article/17353 Review: G&L Tribute Series Fiorano GTS and Ascari GTS http://www.guitarworld.com/review-gl-tribute-series-fiorano-gts-and-ascari-gts <!--paging_filter--><p>Streamlined, dual-cutaway axes with three-on-a-side tuners are among the most popular of today’s guitar styles and considered by many to be the modern archetype of rock and metal guitar construction. As it happens, the basics of this design may have originated in the mind of the late, great Leo Fender. A 1980 drawing, recently discovered in Leo’s preserved laboratory, details just such a guitar design as rendered by Leo and G&amp;L cofounder George Fullerton. Dubbed the G-100, the guitar was never developed. </p> <p>To bring this guitar to life, G&amp;L enlisted the assistance of metal guitar guru, Grover Jackson. He and G&amp;L vice president of engineering Paul Gagon transformed the original sketch into fraternal twins of sorts: the more traditional Ascari GTS and the somewhat sleeker, metal-esque Fiorano. Although Leo drew the G-100 with a bolt-on neck in mind, Gagon and Grover decided to update the two instruments to set-neck construction. Grover’s specific influence is further evident in the sharp visual lines and the low-strung action that beckons players to fly across the relatively flat 12-inch radiused fretboards. Best of all, these new classics are part of G&amp;L’s Tribute Series, making their unique tones and historic pedigree available to guitarists on a budget. </p> <p><strong>FIORANO GTS</strong></p> <p>The Fiorano is aptly named after the famous Italian proving grounds where exotic Italian sports cars are pushed to their limits. The guitar’s wide, deep cutaways are both striking and functional, allowing the hand and forearm unfettered access to the screaming top registers. The mahogany neck features G&amp;L’s slim C profile (it feels like a rounded D shape) and a 25 1/2–inch scale, allowing maximum string punch and power as well as space for the 24-fret fingerboard. The broad neck shape makes for ergonomic chording, but speed players will also appreciate how their thumb sits on the neck’s flat hill. </p> <p>The carved, flamed-maple top ensures that the Gagon-designed humbuckers are elevated to the ideal height, while the remainder of the mahogany body is properly thin. The scorching pickups are intended for players who prefer heinous levels of gain and may want to detune into the bowels of metal’s wicked abyss. A three-way switch selects the pickups, the tone pot can be pulled to tap the pickups’ output, and the volume knob is easily reached for swells. TonePros’ famous bridge maintains superior string balance, even with heavy strings. </p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>Aside from its beautifully loud acoustic response, the Fiorano generates a midrange-forward tone that’s essential for players who want to cut through a heavy mix. The leveled neck hill, acoustic volume and large frets make the guitar incredibly responsive for pile-driving hammer-ons and crisp legato runs. While the pickups clean up well, they shine brightest when asked to sustain long bends, scream out pinch harmonics and define heavily distorted chords. </p> <p><strong>ASCARI GTS </strong></p> <p>The Ascari is only slightly more subdued than its shred-happy sister ax, but several details endow it with a sweeter tonal personality and a slinkier feel. First, it’s built on a 24 3/4–inch scale and topped with 22 frets. This shorter scale warms the highs and lows while it reduces overall string tension. Its traditional-style length also means cutaways on the maple-capped mahogany body are less deep, yet you still have the great upper-fret access. As on the Fiorano, the slim C neck profile allows speed and thumb-over-board comfort.<br /> The pair of covered, Gagon-designed pickups are voiced for rock, country and blues, genres that require full-bodied tones with clean and dirty amp settings. The tone pot pulls up to tap the pickups’ output, and the volume knob is positioned behind the three-position pickup switch so that it doesn’t interfere with strumming. The TonePros bridge assembly adds considerably to the string stability and overtones. </p> <p><strong>PERFORMANCE</strong></p> <p>Like the Fiorano, the Ascari is incredibly loud when strummed acoustically. It has the more scooped midrange that you’d expect from a 24 3/4–inch-scale plank and a more relaxed presence across the spectrum. The pickups do a fine job of translating this openness to an amp, maintaining the huge dynamic potentials and touch sensitivity. Through a crunchy amp, the tones are best described as vocal and raucous, singing with a raspy upper midrange, transient lows and pleasantly bright highs.</p> <p><strong>THE BOTTOM LINE</strong></p> <p>Whether you want the traditional beauty and smoother tones of the short-scale Ascari GTS or the hot power and speed of the Fiorano GTS, these lightweight and responsive guitars are fitting tributes to an almost-lost Leo Fender design.</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1834612724001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1834612724001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our <a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/products/guitar-world-nov-12-green-day/?&amp;utm_source=guitarworld.com&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=tosin">online store</a>.</em></p> <p>"Earth Departure" is one of the most adventurous tunes on the new Animals As Leaders album, <em>Weightless</em>. The song features some very intense, complex figures that require extremely tight band interplay. </p> <p>To my way of thinking, much of the song is in straight 4/4 time, but it doesn't sound like it because many of the rhythms are based on unusual 16-note syncopations and odd-length phrases. In this month's column, I'll analyze the song's outro guitar solo, which is one of my favorite solos on the record.</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1828388633001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1828388633001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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If you wish to have the player instantiated only after the rest of the HTML is processed and the page load is complete, remove the line. --><script type="text/javascript">brightcove.createExperiences();</script><!-- End of Brightcove Player --><!-- End of Brightcove Player --> http://www.guitarworld.com/prog-nosis-using-unusual-16th-note-syncopations-and-odd-length-phrases#comments Animals As Leaders November 2012 Tosin Abasi 2012 Lessons Magazine Mon, 01 Oct 2012 15:44:14 +0000 Tosin Abasi http://www.guitarworld.com/article/16741 All That Jazz: Concepts for Expanding on Funk Rhythm Guitar http://www.guitarworld.com/all-jazz-concepts-expanding-funk-rhythm-guitar <!--paging_filter--><p><em>The following content is related to the November 2012 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our <a href="http://store.guitarworld.com/products/guitar-world-nov-12-green-day/?&amp;utm_source=guitarworld.com&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=allthatjazz">online store</a>.</em></p> <p>Over my past two columns, I've been investigating different approaches to improvisation on the guitar, specifically addressing ways to combine chordal and single-note-line ideas effectively to create rhythm parts that are both harmonically and rhythmically interesting and inspired.</p> <p>The most important part of this process is to find a way to do this as instantly and spontaneously as possible, and this is true for anything this is truly improvisational.</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/. --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="http://admin.brightcove.com/js/BrightcoveExperiences.js"></script><object id="myExperience1828314270001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="348" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1828314270001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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