Blogs en Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Slash and More Play "The Star-Spangled Banner" — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Happy Independence Day, everyone!</p> <p>In honor of this week's holiday, I originally—and simply—wanted to share a grainy, vintage video of my all-time favorite guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in ancient times. </p> <p>But then I noticed Steve Vai's particularly awesome version of the song ... and Yngwie Malmsteen's recent version ... and Eric Johnson's version—and then I found versions by Slash and Dave Mustaine ... and, of course, there's the granddaddy of them all, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.</p> <p>So I figured the more, the merrier! I could've kept on going (There's always Cliff Burton's version, and a commenter mentioned Neal Schon), but I think eight versions of the same song gets the point across, and this represents a nice mix of styles. </p> <p>Feel free to complain, compare and contrast! Enjoy your holiday! </p> <p><strong>TED NUGENT</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>STEVE VAI</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>YNGWIE MALMSTEEN</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>SLASH</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>DAVE MUSTAINE</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>ERIC JOHNSON</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN</strong> </p> <p>Note: This video needs to be edited!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>JIMI HENDRIX</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World.</em></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="/ted-nugent">Ted Nugent</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/eric-johnson">Eric Johnson</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jimi-hendrix">Jimi Hendrix</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Damian Fanelli Dave Mustaine Eric Johnson Jimi Hendrix Slash Steve Vai Stevie Ray Vaughan Ted Nugent Zakk Wylde Blogs News Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:33:38 +0000 Damian Fanelli 11505 at Rututu App Brings Rare Stringed Instruments to Your iPad <!--paging_filter--><p>If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to make music with rare stringed instruments from around the world, you’re in for a treat.</p> <p>A new app coming from EarthMoments promises to dish out sound samples meticulously collected from an impressive variety of unique instruments that most of us will never lay a hand on.</p> <p>The app, named Rututu, collects these samples into libraries and inserts them into loops. Users can drag and drop these loops into Rututu’s cool “playground” where you can manipulate them in a variety of ways. The loops automatically sync, so things never sound off, making this a fun way for both kids and adults to get into music-making.</p> <p>One of the coolest aspects is the ability to mesh ancient instrument sounds with very current musical styles. Sitar hip-hop anyone? Go for it!</p> <p>The app currently has a Kickstarter campaign running for its completion. You can check it out and <a href="">join here>></a></p> <p>Check out some demos of the sounds and loops here:<br /> <iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> <p>The folks at EarthMoments have a track record for unique collections of high quality samples and a space to explore unique sounds and signatures from around the world. Their Zen Pad sample and loop libraries for Ableton are world-renowned. The EarthMoments team includes producers and engineers with over twenty years' experience, internationally acclaimed musicians and top industry professionals.

</p> <p>The EarthMoments studios utilize state-of-the-art analog and digital equipment combined with a passion for quality to produce the pristine quality samples.
EarthMoments is a division of EarthSync, a world music record label, and producer of award-winning audio and visual productions that brings together traditional and contemporary music in unique, high quality productions.</p> <p>Here’s a preview shot of Rututu:</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Ipad%20app%20620.jpg" width="620" height="454" alt="Ipad app 620.jpg" /></p> <p>Find out more at <a href=""></a>
 and check out the gallery of some of the instruments they sampled below!</p> Acoustic Nation EarthMoments Gear Blogs Blogs News Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:30:46 +0000 Acoustic Nation 24861 at Guitar Tricks: 11 Tricks to Singing and Playing Guitar at the Same Time <!--paging_filter--><p>Are you one of the many guitarists who struggle with coordinating their hands and vocals? You know, you can play the song. You can sing the song. But it all goes to pot when you try to do both simultaneously. </p> <p>Singing while playing guitar can be a daunting challenge for a beginner. A good sense of timing and rhythm and the ability to synthesize two different actions is necessary to pull it off. But like everything else you've learned to do on the guitar, it can be mastered. </p> <p>Here are 11 tips to help get you started: </p> <p><strong>01. Apples and…apples!</strong> Like a pianist who uses both hands to play two different rhythms concurrently, or a drummer who uses all four limbs working independently, you need to meld your strumming and singing rhythms so that they sound seamless. Playing and singing aren't two separate things.</p> <p><strong>02. Simple rhythms, simple rhymes.</strong> Don't complicate the task unnecessarily by choosing songs that exceed your skill level. This will only leave you feeling frustrated and defeated. Start off learning easy songs that you like and know well. Songs that only have a few chords, a simple strum pattern and lyrics you can easily remember, like "Happy Birthday." Or you might like to learn a song or two from <a href="">10 Famous Songs with Three Chords or Less.</a> </p> <p><strong>03. Know your guitar basics.</strong> Trying to remember how to finger a B7 chord while playing is going to make singing at the same time virtually impossible. Your guitar playing must be at a level where chord changes are effortless. You need to be so comfortable with your strumming that you don't even have to think about it. This will free you up to concentrate singing. </p> <p><strong>04. Practice strumming with a metronome.</strong> For better timing and rhythm, practice with a metronome. Although it will feel a bit restrictive at first, a metronome will make you a more consistent player. Spend 10 minutes a day practicing a simple strumming pattern with a metronome, and you'll notice significant improvements in your timing within a few weeks. </p> <p><strong>05. Know how to play the song.</strong> Play the music on your guitar until you have it memorized and can perform it fluently. One way to tell if you've mastered a song is to play it while reading aloud from a book lying open in front of you, or playing it flawlessly while watching television or carrying on a conversation. </p> <p><strong>06. Know how to sing the song.</strong> In addition to getting all chord changes down pat, you have to know the tune and lyrics. This may require putting the guitar down for a time in order to focus purely on the singing. Pick a song and memorize the words. Sing it out loud. Sing along with a recording. Sing it in the shower. Sing it to your cat. When you can sing the song without a hitch it's time to sync things up.</p> <p><strong>07. Hum first.</strong> You may find it helpful to first hum the parts of the melody over your strumming pattern before actually singing them. This will allow you the chance to get used to any chord changes without having to concern yourself with lyrics straight off. Once you get used to humming different parts of the melodies, you'll gradually become comfortable singing it. </p> <p><strong>08. Slow down.</strong> It's far better to sing and play correctly, albeit slowly, than to be fudging rhythms at full speed. Go through the song measure by measure, line by line, until you can play and sing it all the way through without errors. Speed will come once you iron out all the kinks. </p> <p><strong>09. A note on fingerpicking.</strong> If you're playing a song that uses fingerpicking, you might find it helpful to take a few steps back to start. First, sing using a simple strum pattern to play the chords. Once you got the song down perfectly this way, move on to a more complex strum pattern, and then ultimately to the original picking pattern. </p> <p><strong>10. Changing key.</strong> If you find yourself straining to hit a song's notes, try changing the key so that the guitar's tones adapt to your voice. Move the chords up a fret or two. You can transpose a piece to either a lower or a higher pitch. Try singing again until you find a key that suits your voice. You can also change the key by using a capo. This allows you to keep the same fingering as the original.</p> <p><strong>11. Practice.</strong> Learning to incorporate vocals into your guitar playing takes practice. Even once you have acquired the basic skill, you will be adding more and more songs to your repertoire, some of which may contain awkward combinations of rhythms that can trip you up. When this happens, break the song down into parts and work through the problem areas just like you did when you first learned how to synchronize your playing with your vocals. </p> <p><em>Kathy Dickson writes for the online guitar lesson site <a href=""></a></em> </p> Acoustic Nation Guitar Tricks Kathy Dickson Blogs Blogs Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:08:25 +0000 Kathy Dickson 22733 at Willie Dixon at 100: 10 Essential Willie Dixon Covers — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Although you probably won't see too many "100 Years of Willie Dixon" celebrations online today, we felt we needed to say something about this incredibly important figure in Chicago blues and rock history.</p> <p>Dixon, who—as we've implied above—was born July 1, 1915, was primarily a bassist and singer (who also played guitar), but a bassist and singer who happened to write hundreds of incredible, often dark and eerie songs, several of which found their way into the catalogs of the biggest blues and rock artists of the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and beyond.</p> <p>These include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Cream (and Eric Clapton), the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Gary Moore, George Thorogood, Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor and Howlin’ Wolf—<a href="">to name just a few.</a></p> <p>Today we'd like to celebrate Dixon's would-be 100th birthday by pointing out 10 noteworthy covers of his songs. In fact, let's make it 11. I say noteworthy, as opposed to best, because there's simply a staggering amount of recordings to consider (live and studio). Let's just say you can't possibly go wrong with these 11.</p> <p>Note that we've tried to include live versions of the songs, because they're a hell of a lot more fun to watch than audio-only YouTube "videos." Dixon died in 1992 at age 76.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Beck, "I Ain't Superstitious"</strong></p> <p>Although Howlin' Wolf recorded this Dixon tune in 1961, most rock fans made its acquaintance when Jeff Beck covered it on his first solo album, <em>Truth,</em> in 1968. </p> <p>The song recounts various superstitions, including a black cat crossing the pathway, so Beck imitates the sound of a cat with his guitar and wah pedal. It's just one of a multitude of sounds Beck can coax out of a guitar. That said, if my cats sounded like this, I'd rush them to the all-night animal hospital ASAP.</p> <p>Here's a live version from 2009, 41 years after it appeared on <em>Truth</em>. Beck even got the original vocalist, Rod Stewart, to sing it. That's Tal Wilkenfeld on bass. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cream, "Spoonful"</strong></p> <p>Just as “Crossroads” introduced a new generation of music fans to the mystique of Robert Johnson, Cream’s “Spoonful” brought exposure to Dixon, who wrote the song, and Howlin’ Wolf, who originally recorded it in 1960.</p> <p>And while Howlin’ Wolf’s stark-and-dark version is haunting in its own right, Cream’s take on the song—driven by Clapton’s guitar and Jack Bruce’s heavy bass—moves it several steps further along.</p> <p>At Cream’s live shows, “Spoonful” gave the band members plenty of room to stretch out, as can be heard on the nearly 17-minute-long version on Cream’s <em>Wheels of Fire.</em> Below is another great live version, complete with pro-shot footage of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Bruce in action. And just like the second season of <em>F Troop,</em> this video is in color.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Muddy Waters, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”</strong></p> <p>Here's a live version of a powerful Dixon number that Muddy Waters made famous. This live version features Johnny Winter, Otis Blackwell, Eddie "Bluesman" Kirkland, Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards and Foghat, so you know it was filmed in the Seventies, which it was (1978). Let's not forget the Stones' sped-up version of this song, which is enjoyable in its own British way.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Doors, "Back Door Man"</strong></p> <p>"Back Door Man," a Chicago blues classic, was recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960 and released in 1961 by Chess Records as the B-side to Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle." The Doors got to it a few years later, including it on their eponymous debut album. Doors drummer John Densmore said "Back Door Man" is "deeply sexual and got everyone moving."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Eric Clapton, "Third Degree"</strong></p> <p>When Clapton recorded his intense <em>From the Cradle</em> album, which was hailed as his "return to the blues," he was sure to include several Dixon compositions, including this one, which was co-written by Eddie Boyd. The other two were "Hoochie Coochie Man" and the dramatic and greasy “Groaning the Blues.”</p> <p>Check out this fine mid-Nineties live version of "Third Degree" featuring Clapton playing a very nice Gibson. We wish he would play this guitar more often. OK, "we" is me.</p> <p>By the way, in a 2011 poll, <em>From the Cradle</em> was voted Clapton’s fourth-best guitar album, sandwiched between Cream’s <em>Wheels of Fire</em> (Number 5) and <em>Disraeli Gears</em> (Number 3). </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Muddy Waters, "Hoochie Coochie Man"</strong></p> <p>This song was recorded or performed by a huge list of name-brand artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Phish, the New York Dolls, Dixon himself, the Allman Brothers Band and more. But <em>the</em> version belongs to Muddy Waters, who initially recorded it in 1954. It became one of Waters' most popular and identifiable songs and helped secure Dixon's role as Chess Records' chief songwriter.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Rolling Stones, "Little Red Rooster"</strong></p> <p>Can you believe the Stones took this song to Number 1 on the U.K. singles charts in late 1964? I think it's the only time (ever) that a pure blues song has claimed the top spot on the U.K. charts.</p> <p>"[This] was [Brian Jones'] masterpiece, his inspired guitar howling like a hound, barking like a dog, crowing like a rooster," said Rolling Stones biographer Stephen Davis. As former Stones bassist Bill Wyman added, "I believe 'Rooster' provided Brian Jones with one of his finest hours."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, "Let Me Love You Baby"</strong></p> <p>This upbeat Dixon tune, a highlight of Vaughan's 1989 <em>In Step</em> album, also was covered by Buddy Guy in ancient times. Check out this fan-filmed live version from November 11, 1989, at New York City's Madison Square Garden. I was actually at this show. A drunk guy threw up directly behind me, but my brother and my friend didn't tell me. Good times!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Small Faces, "You Need Loving"</strong></p> <p>I love including the Small Faces on these lists, because in 2015, they just don't get the love they deserve. I also like what happens at exactly 3:35 in the YouTube player below. Be sure to head to that spot. Does it remind you of anything? Remember it was recorded in 1966.</p> <p>When Dixon wrote this tune, it was called "You Need Love." The song was, um, "borrowed" a few times after that.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Led Zeppelin, "I Can't Quit You Baby"</strong></p> <p>Here's the powerful, echo-filled <em>Coda</em> version of Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby" as performed by Led Zeppelin. This is actually one of my favorite officially released Led Zeppelin recordings of all time. I love how Jimmy Page intentionally jumps the gun on the turnaround chords <em>because he knew it would sound exciting if he did.</em> And it did.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Buddy Guy, "When My Left Eye Jumps"</strong></p> <p>Buddy Guy's version of this Dixon/Al Perkins tune features some great singing and guitar playing. It also includes the line: "When my left eye get to jumpin', and my flesh begin to crawl / I know you got some other mule, that's kickin' in my stall." Genius! </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="">Damian Fanelli</a> is the online managing editor at </em>Guitar World<em> and </em><a href="">Guitar Aficionado</a><em>. His New York-based band, <a href="">the Blue Meanies,</a> has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/rockabilly band <a href="">the Gas House Gorillas</a> and New York City surf-rock band <a href="">Mister Neutron,</a> writes's <a href="">The Next Bend,</a> a column dedicated to <a href="">B-benders.</a> His latest liner notes can be found in Legacy's </em><a href="">Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection.</a><em> Follow him on <a href="">Facebook,</a> <a href="">Twitter</a> and/or <a href="">Instagram.</a></em></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="/doors-0">The Doors</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jeff-beck">Jeff Beck</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eric-clapton">Eric Clapton</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/cream">Cream</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stevie-ray-vaughan">Stevie Ray Vaughan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/led-zeppelin">Led Zeppelin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buddy-guy">Buddy Guy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 10 Best Songs blues Buddy Guy Cream Damian Fanelli Eric Clapton Essential Listening Jeff Beck Stevie Ray Vaughan The Doors Top 10 Willie Dixon Guitar World Lists Videos Blogs News Features Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:11:07 +0000 Damian Fanelli 24855 at Beyond the Fretboard: The Double-Edged Sword of Guitar Idols, Part 1 <!--paging_filter--><p>Every guitarist (myself included) can likely point to one main source of inspiration that captured our ears' undivided attention during our formative years. </p> <p>This source might have even been the reason many of us picked up the guitar in the first place.</p> <p>Obviously, I'm talking about the guitar idol (or guitar god). Every generation has had a few. What is less discussed is the positive and negative consequences of having a singular icon for an entire generation of aspiring musicians.</p> <p>The first incarnation of the guitar idol in popular culture was probably Jimi Hendrix. He could be thought of as the archetype who set the standard to which all other guitar idols would be compared. </p> <p>What Hendrix brought to rock was multi-dimensional: He popularized a new tonal quality of the electric guitar (overdriven distortion), his signature blues/pentatonic lead playing helped usher in the current musical paradigm that all rock guitarists know and love. He also raised the bar on what it meant to have an exciting and unpredictable stage presence that could captivate any audience.</p> <p>Since Hendrix's untimely passing, there have been other noteworthy guitar gods who have carved their own path into rock and roll history, including Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai and Slash, among others.</p> <p>It's hard to imagine how rock or heavy metal would have evolved without this essential cast of characters. However, it's important to be objective and to look at both sides of the fence when evaluating the impact these players' fame and reputation have had on future guitarists as well as their own musical growth.</p> <p><strong>YOU CAN'T PUT A PRICE TAG ON INSPIRATION</strong></p> <p>It's hard to excel at anything in life if a person is underwhelmed by others who have come before them. Hendrix's legacy set off a domino effect of rock star culture that would last for the next 30 years. The YouTube sensations of today were inspired by the greats of the late Seventies and Eighties, who were inspired by Hendrix. </p> <p>Before we dive into the potential drawbacks of "guitar idol" status, we must not forget the endless amount of talented musicians who were drawn to the guitar over other instruments (Somewhere in a parallel universe, Eddie Van Halen might be playing classical piano at Carnegie Hall).</p> <p><strong>THE PITFALLS OF INSPIRATION</strong></p> <p>Many people are so awe-struck by their idols that when it's their time to shine, imitation can be an unfortunate result. You might not even realize it at first, but a "cult of personality" (Shout out to Living Colour!) is developed and sometimes engineered by the record label. This not only influences your guitar playing but also could alter lifestyle habits. How many guitarists started smoking cigarettes because they saw Keith Richards with one in his mouth at every show?</p> <p>Particularly on a musical level, if all you learn are Van Halen tapping licks, how do you think you're going to sound when you write your own music? Even worse, how many other players have also learned all the Van Halen licks just like you?</p> <p>Arguably, no one's really immune to this phenomenon of imitation, especially at a young age (I wasn't). But if your long-term goal is to write your own music, then an attempt to minimize it (or diversify your influences) would be beneficial.</p> <p>I can remember my own experience with this when I'd read magazine articles by the late, great Dimebag Darrell. As some of you may know, he would regularly profess his ignorance toward the topic of music theory. He seemed to be so naturally in tune with the world of music that he just played by ear (claiming he only knew one or two scales).</p> <p>I was blown away by his comments because I was originally convinced he was a music theory buff simply by hearing his fluid and effortless mastery of the fretboard. The effects his comments had on me were good and bad.</p> <p>The positive effect was that I no longer saw music theory as a road block to my success. This helped me develop my natural ear for music as well as solidify my rhythm chops by constantly jamming to cover songs or with my brother, who plays drums.</p> <p>The downside was that, for many years (the first 10 years of my playing), I knew virtually nothing about even the basics of music theory. Sure, I intuitively understood the concepts of tonal center and the musical differences between major and minor chords, but I was completely incapable of articulating these topics to others. I figured, "If Dimebag succeeded without knowing theory, I probably don't need it either."</p> <p>But now that I'm quite comfortable with theory, I think it helped me grow beyond the creative box where I later found myself. I now have so many more options when it comes to creating and composing music. And there's also the obvious benefit of communicating this information to others when I'm teaching (which is something I've come to enjoy).</p> <p>For the record, this anecdote was not a sneaky attempt at promoting music theory. The opposite might have been the case; I could have been a diehard fan of John Petrucci and, while reading his interviews, decided I wanted to go to school for music. But what if I had the personality of a Dimebag Darrell? The potential drudgery of studying music in college might have tainted my passion.</p> <p>So there clearly are advantages and disadvantages to this paradigm.</p> <p>But we're not done just yet. There are a few more consequences of having guitar idols, which I'd like to discuss in the next installment of this column. Notably, the effect this "cult of personality" has on the musicians themselves. We'll also explore the future viability of guitar idols in the new internet landscape. To be continued ...</p> <p><em>Chris Breen is a New Jersey-based guitarist with 14 years of experience under his belt. He, along with his brother Jon (on drums) started the two-piece metal project known as <a href="">SCARSIC</a> in 2011. They've recently been joined by bassist Bill Loucas and have released an album, </em>A Tale of Two Worlds<em> (available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify). Chris also is part of an all-acoustic side project called <a href="">Eyes Turn Stone</a>. Chris teaches guitar lessons (in person or via Skype). For more information, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> Beyond the Fretboard Chris Breen Blogs Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:30:09 +0000 Chris Breen 20980 at Experiment: Does Down-Tuning Make Your Guitar Sound Heavier? — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Internet gent and multi-instrumentalist <a href="">Rob Scallon</a> recently posted a video called "The Down-Tuning Experiment."</p> <p>In it, he tests the theory that down-tuning makes your guitar, and your riffs, sound "heavier."</p> <p>To do so, he plays the same riff on the same guitar, but he keeps changing the strings and tuning lower and lower, from E to drop-D to drop-C# to "drop-Q."</p> <p>The cool thing is that, even when he's in what he calls drop-Q (Note: There is no drop-Q in real life; he's kidding), he's actually still playing the riff on these fat-ass bass strings that don't even fit into the guitar's nut.</p> <p>Please use Scallon's findings for good, not evil. Enjoy!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Rob Scallon WTF Videos Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:42:38 +0000 Damian Fanelli 23776 at Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan Perform "Jeff's Boogie" in 1984 — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>For this week's flashback video, we head to Honolulu, Hawaii.</p> <p>That's where, in 1984, Jeff Beck joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble on stage to play an impressive mini-set that included "Jeff's Boogie," an instrumental track from the Yardbirds' 1966 <em>Roger the Engineer</em> album.</p> <p>In the great-sounding video below, Beck and Vaughan take turns playing the solos in the Cliff Gallup-inspired tune. Jimmie Vaughan was also one of the featured performers that night (I know this because I have an old VHS of this show). </p> <p>If you're not familiar with the original Yardbirds version, be sure to check it out; it's pure vintage Beck.</p> <p>Note that this action took place five years before Beck and Vaughan's storied 1989 tour.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></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="/jeff-beck">Jeff Beck</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/stevie-ray-vaughan">Stevie Ray Vaughan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Jeff Beck Stevie Ray Vaughan The Yardbirds Videos Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:11:23 +0000 Damian Fanelli 18349 at Roy Clark Mesmerizes on 'The Odd Couple' — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm not gonna lie. I happened to watch an episode of <em>The Odd Couple</em> last night, and it reminded me of Roy Clark's sort-of-legendary appearance on that classic TV sitcom.</p> <p>During the show's Roy Clark episode, which originally aired February 14, 1975, Clark showed his range and virtuosity on guitar with a performance of “Malagueña,” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, as Tony Randall and Jack Klugman looked on, not really knowing how to react. </p> <p>The song was written in 1928 and was originally the sixth movement of Lecuona’s Suite Andalucia. It has been covered by countless guitarists over the decades, including Brian Setzer on his brilliant <em>Ignition!</em> album.</p> <p>Take a trip down memory lane and watch it again in the clip below. Clark turned 82 in April, BTW.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Acoustic Nation Roy Clark The Odd Couple Videos Blogs Videos Blogs Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:17:34 +0000 Damian Fanelli 24842 at Beyond the Fretboard: Visualizing Your Own Scales, Part 1 <!--paging_filter--><p>As guitar players, we sometimes get too comfortable with certain scale shapes because they can be easy to remember.</p> <p>For example, think about the minor pentatonic scale; almost immediately, the mental image of that familiar box shape is probably conjured in your mind's eye. The fact that we can instantly recall various patterns due to their spacial layout over the fretboard is a great thing. But what if we're relying too heavily on existing scale shapes?</p> <p>Scales are just pre-determined paths that get us from point A (root note) to point B (the octave). Some scales sound very musical, while others have a less-conventional harmonic architecture.</p> <p>For some younger rock guitarists, the process of learning and memorizing existing scales might be the extent of their development when it comes to improvising.</p> <p>But what about arpeggios? Arpeggios seem to be an intimidating concept to beginners, intermediates and even some advanced players for a few reasons:</p> <p>01. The name seems "elitist" in nature and sounds like it should be reserved for classical music.</p> <p>It simply comes from the italian word "arpeggiare," which either translates to "play on a harp" or "broken chord." All this means is we're playing each note of a chord separately, without any of the notes ringing out simultaneously. On a theoretical level, arpeggios and chords are basically the same thing. The only difference is in their execution; one is monophonic (one note at a time), while the other is polyphonic (multiple notes at the same time).</p> <p>02. Arpeggios are viewed as being "synonymous with sweep picking."</p> <p>Not everyone wants to be a shredder. For this reason, some people tend to underestimate or even completely ignore arpeggios because they have been popularly linked with sweep picking. Yes, a lot of technically advanced axe-slingers love using arpeggios. But truth be told, you NEVER have to learn sweep picking in order to effectively use arpeggios.</p> <p>03. Some of the more popular arpeggio shapes seem difficult to play and memorize.</p> <p>Since arpeggios are 'broken chord' patterns, they're usually laid out over the fretboard in familiar chord shapes (derived from the CAGE system). But this brings us back to the previous problem. After all, the most economical way to execute a "C shape" minor arpeggio would be to sweep pick it (because that shape consists of a one-note-per-string sequence).</p> <p>So what's the best way to make arpeggios accessible to ALL guitarists? One way is to visualize them as if they are scales (the only difference is that they consist of chord tones).</p> <p>That sounds reasonable, but there are a few practical limitations to this proposal. First, the most basic arpeggio (triad) is comprised of a meager 3-note grouping. This makes it rather difficult to plot the notes on the fretboard in a 'boxed' format without invoking the sweep picking approach.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/diagram%201.png" width="620" height="855" alt="diagram 1.png" /></p> <p>As you can see, it's doable but challenging if you're not used to a wide shape, which involves tough hand stretching and some tricky finger rolling. But if you're up to the task, these patterns can definitely be useful.</p> <p>Let's try adding an additional note to the mix. The most obvious way to do this would be to experiment with 7th arpeggios (or 7th chords). These chords definitely have a unique harmonic texture that distinguishes itself from the more conventional-sounding triads.</p> <p>The quick theoretical explanation as to why they're called "7th chords" is pretty straightforward; both the major and minor scales each contain seven notes. Triads are simply the first, third and fifth notes of a particular scale played together (becoming a chord) or individually (becoming an arpeggio). If we add the seventh note in a scale to the existing triad, we arrive at a 7th chord (essentially, all of the odd-numbered notes in a 7-note scale played simultaneously; 1,3,5,7).</p> <p>So let's see how these guys help in our quest of creating visually friendly shapes on the fretboard without resorting to sweep picking. </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/diagram%202.png" width="620" height="858" alt="diagram 2.png" /></p> <p>(Note: the numbers inside the circles are suggestions for which fingers to use for each note. These are just suggestions, so feel free to use alternate fingering schemes and even slides in some instances) </p> <p>Not bad, but there's still some stretching involved and the shapes are a little too abstract. But at least we've started to look at arpeggios in a two-note-per-string context. Hopefully this is helpful for those of you who do not sweep pick and aren't interested in learning the technique anytime soon. </p> <p>In my next column, we'll dig deeper and try to arrive at some comfortable box shapes rooted in the concept of more extended arpeggios. We might even sprinkle in a few passing tones.</p> <p><em>Chris Breen is a New Jersey-based guitarist with 14 years of experience under his belt. He, along with his brother Jon (on drums) started the two-piece metal project known as <a href="">SCARSIC</a> in 2011. They've recently been joined by bassist Bill Loucas and have released an album, </em>A Tale of Two Worlds<em> (available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify). Chris also is part of an all-acoustic side project called <a href="">Eyes Turn Stone</a>. Chris teaches guitar lessons (in person or via Skype). For more information, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> Beyond the Fretboard Chris Breen Blogs Lessons Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:40:32 +0000 Chris Breen 21251 at In Deep: Stevie Ray Vaughan's Playing on "Couldn't Stand the Weather" <!--paging_filter--><p>Stevie Ray Vaughan’s distinctive playing style is earmarked by equal parts pure power, intensity of focus, razor-sharp precision and deeply emotional conviction. And then there’s his tone—probably the best Stratocaster-derived sound ever evoked from the instrument. </p> <p>Stevie tuned his guitar down one half step (low to high, Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb), a move inspired by one of his biggest influences, Jimi Hendrix. He also preferred heavy gauge strings: high to low, .013, .015, .019, .028, .038, .058, occasionally switching the high E string to either a .012 or .011. To facilitate the use of such heavy strings, Stevie’s guitars were re-fretted with large Dunlop 6100 or Stewart-MacDonald 150 fretwire.</p> <p>Let’s begin this lesson with a look at the title track from Stevie’s second album, <em>Couldn’t Stand the Weather</em>, transcribed in this issue (see page 110). The song begins in “free time” (no strict tempo). </p> <p>While brother Jimmie Vaughan tremolo-strums the opening chords—Bm-A7-G7-F#7—Stevie adds improvised solo lines (see transcription bars 1-8): over Bm, Stevie sticks with the B blues scale (B D E F F# A), over A7 he utilizes the A blues scale (A C D Eb E G) and over G7 he uses G blues (G Bb C Db D F). Strive to recreate Stevie’s precision when it comes to his articulation. </p> <p>Over Jimmie’s F#7 chord, Stevie plays a first inversion F#7#9, which places the third of the chord, A#, in the bass (as the lowest note). (Stevie employed this same unusual voicing for E7#9 in “Cold Shot.”) </p> <p>A four-bar, R&amp;B/soul-style single-note riff follows, doubled in octaves by guitar and bass (see bars 9-17). Played four times, two extra beats of rest are added the third time through. This is shown as a bar of 6/4 in bar 13 of the transcription.</p> <p>In bars 18-23, Stevie adds a very Hendrix-y rhythm guitar part, played in 10th position and beginning on beat two with an F octave fretted on the G and high E strings, strummed in 16th notes. Stevie maintains the rhythmic push of steady 16ths through most of the riff by consistently strumming in a down-up-down-up “one-ee-and-a” pattern. </p> <p>At the end of bar 18, barre your middle finger across the top three strings at the 12th fret, and then bend and release the G and B strings one half step. As the notes are held into the next bar, add subtle finger vibrato. Keep your fret-hand thumb wrapped over the top of the fretboard throughout the riff, using it to fret the D root note on the low E string’s 10th fret. Stevie intersperses this low root note into the lick in a few essential spots, akin to Hendrix on his songs “Freedom” and “Izabella.” </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Stevie displays his true brilliance as an improviser when playing over a slow blues. All of the following examples are played in the key of G, utilizing the G blues scale (G Bb C Db D F) as a basis. Across the first two bars of <strong>FIGURE 1</strong>, I play two- and three-note chord figures against the low G and C root notes, fretted with the thumb. On beat three of both bars, I play a trill by barring the index finger across the D and G strings and then quickly hammering on and pulling off with the middle finger one fret higher on the G string. </p> <p>When playing bar 3, keep your index finger barred across the top two strings at the third fret while bending notes on the G and B strings. On beat two, quickly hammer on and pull off to the fourth fret on the high E string. This G-Ab-G hammer/pull is a staple for Stevie, used in myriad different and creative ways.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Another essential element of Stevie’s slow-blues lead playing approach is the use of Albert King–style multiple-string bends. As shown in <strong>FIGURE 2a</strong>, I bend the high E string up one whole step at the eighth fret using the ring finger (supported by the middle) and simultaneously catch the B string under the fingertip and bend it up a whole step as well so that it “goes along for the ride.” In <strong>FIGURE 2b</strong>, I catch the top three strings under the fingertip. It will take practice to build up the strength and “finger traction” to execute these bends properly.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>FIGURES 3a and 3b</strong> illustrate another way to add pull-offs on the high E string, this time fretting A and then pulling back from Ab to G. This is followed by repeated pull-offs on the B string, illustrated more clearly in <strong>FIGURE 3c. FIGURES 4a and 4b</strong> offer two more permutations of this idea.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Another nod to Albert is the use of fingerpicking to accent notes on the high E string. I use my middle finger to pick and snap the string back against the fretboard, as illustrated in <strong>FIGURES 5a–5f</strong>. Notice in <strong>FIGURES 5b, 5c and 5e</strong> the use of a half-step bend at the seventh fret on the high E string. Albert was a master of microtonal bending, a technique learned well by Stevie.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Stevie devised some unique position shifts, utilizing bends and slides on the G string. <strong>FIGURES 6a–c</strong> present three examples. </p> <p>The use of the notes A, Ab and G on the high E string allude to the V (five) chord, D, and the D blues scale (D F G Gb A C). <strong>FIGURE 8a</strong> illustrates the scale, and <strong>FIGURES 7 and 8b–d</strong> offer examples played over the V chord. Another staple of Stevie’s style is the use of slides on the G string, exemplified in <strong>FIGURES 9a–c</strong>.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></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="/stevie-ray-vaughan">Stevie Ray Vaughan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andy-aledort">Andy Aledort</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jimmie-vaughan">Jimmie Vaughan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> In Deep Jimmie Vaughan July 2010 Stevie Ray Vaughan Videos In Deep with Andy Aledort Blogs Lessons Magazine Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:27:20 +0000 Andy Aledort 17124 at How to Buy a Fuzz Box: A Guide for the First-Time Buyer <!--paging_filter--><p>Is there anything more luscious than a Big Muff? </p> <p>Who can resist those hairy, in-your-face mouthfuls of fuzz? It’s the box guitarists dream about plugging into all day and night. No wonder Electro-Harmonix named the Big Muff Pi distortion pedal after it. </p> <p>But the Pi ain’t the only box in town. In fact, there are probably more than 300 models of overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals in production today. How do you decide which one is right for you? Well, good readers, it’s time to practice your licks and get ready to blow some tweeters as we show you 10 things you should know before you buy a fuzz box.</p> <p><strong>01. What’s Your Flavor?</strong></p> <p>Distortion pedals generally come in one of three varieties: overdrive, distortion and fuzz. Overdrive provides a gain boost that pushes an amp harder and causes it to distort. Distortion processes the guitar’s signal and transforms it into a screaming, vicious beast before it hits the amp. And fuzz produces an extreme form of distortion called square-wave clipping: like a Sixties barbershop, everything that goes into it come out with a flat top. Note: Many manufacturers use these terms interchangeably, so don’t ignore overdrive or fuzz boxes when you want distortion and vice versa.</p> <p><strong>02. Fuzz Factors</strong></p> <p>When auditioning a pedal, make sure you play chords as well as single-note riffs and leads. As true fuzz pedals produce exaggerated distortion, they generally can’t handle chords other than a fifth diad, familiarly known as a power chord. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid fuzz altogether. The best fuzz boxes can make a single note sound like a 2,000- pound bee plugged into a wall of Marshalls, while the worst pedals will make your guitar sound like an elephant dropping a 2,000-pound load of dung.</p> <p><strong>03. No Gain, No Pain</strong></p> <p>If you plan on using a distortion box for playing lead, make sure that it also provides a good amount of gain boost, otherwise your guitar signal may disappear faster than Michael Jackson evading a summons. Extra gain can increase sustain, which is a good thing, but excessive gain may result in noise, feedback and hiss…which can also be a good thing. At the very least, the gain control should provide enough boost to match the guitar’s volume level when the effect is bypassed. Many players use overdrive pedals like the Ibanez Tube Screamer to boost the guitar’s gain for solos.</p> <p><strong>04. What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?</strong></p> <p>With the exception of a handful of overdrive pedals like the Klon Centaur, most distortion boxes boost or cut EQ frequencies and affect the guitar’s tone. Many pedals sound wicked when you’re playing by yourself, but their sound virtually vanishes when you use them with a band, and you end up looking like the world’s worst air guitarist. If the pedal you’re auditioning has tone controls, dial in a sound you like, then have a friend jam along with you. If the tone doesn’t cut through, you may want to consider another pedal.</p> <p><strong>05. Avoid the Idiot Setting</strong></p> <p>While many pedals sound great with every knob turned up to 11, some pedals, like the Z-Vex Fuzz Factory, generate such extreme distortion that they don’t produce any sound at all when everything is maxed. The best tones usually lurk in those elusive in-between settings, so take your time and tweak those knobs. Start with the knobs turned down and work your way up.</p> <p><strong>06. Talk Dirty to Me</strong></p> <p>A lot of distortion pedals sound best when the amp is dialed to a clean setting. But many stomp boxes, especially overdrive and fuzz effects, sound better when the amp has a dirty edge. Experiment with various amp distortion settings while you mess around with the pedal’s knobs. Get rough with that amp; no one will slap you or call you a perv.</p> <p><strong>07. Crashing by Design</strong></p> <p>They don’t call them stomp boxes for nothing. Look for a pedal that is built like a tank and will support your weight even if you should balloon to John Popper-like proportions. Control knobs should be easy to reach and see, but they shouldn’t be placed where you can mistakenly step on them and disrupt your carefully dialed-in settings. The bypass switch should engage with a noticeable click, or the pedal should have an LED that lets you know when the effect is on.</p> <p><strong>08. Battery Aggravations</strong></p> <p>Trust me—James Hetfield wasn’t singing about the Duracells in Kirk Hammett’s Boss distortion in “Battery.” You may think your pedal is going to last all night because you put the Energizer Bunny in it, but remember that rabbits have a habit of dying when it’s least convenient for you. If you plan to use your pedal onstage, buy one that can be powered with AC. You may need to shell out a few extra bucks for an AC adapter, but in the long run it’s a lot cheaper than what you’ll spend replacing batteries.</p> <p><strong>09. Drastic Bypass</strong></p> <p>Look for pedals that offer true-bypass circuitry. This feature removes the pedal’s electronic circuit when the effect is switched off, letting your guitar signal pass through the pedal without affecting its tone or gain. Effects without true bypass bogart tone like your bass player sharing his stash, and when you chain several of these pedals together your tone will be as mighty as an outfielder on steroids. If someone offers you a triple bypass, leave the store immediately—you probably walked into Surgery Center by mistake.</p> <p><strong>10. Ignore the Tone Snobs</strong></p> <p>Tube-amp elitists may declare that everything solid-state is crap, yet they exalt the tones of players like Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, each of whom relied heavily on solid-state Rat, Fuzz Face and Tube Screamer pedals, respectively, to create their signature sounds. Fuzz fanatics argue at length about the virtues of germanium versus silicon transistors. Don’t obsess about minute electronic circuitry details; let your ears be your guide. There’s nothing wrong with using a pedal with an integrated- circuit design if it sounds sweeter to you than an expensive tube-equipped stomp box.</p> fuzz Effects Blogs News Features Gear Magazine Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:10:04 +0000 Chris Gill 10906 at Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds at the Boston Opera House — Show Review <!--paging_filter--><p>There's a reason <em>NME</em> awarded Noel Gallagher the Godlike Genius Award, and it was on full display at the Opera House in Boston on June 6. </p> <p>At first it seemed pretty much business as usual. Gallagher and his band of High Flying Birds walked out, pickup their gear and tore into “Do the Damage.” </p> <p>But throughout the show, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gallagher gets the credit he deserves for rocking as hard as he does. So many casual fans think merely of “Wonderwall” and a few other Oasis slow-burners, but that night, Gallagher delivered an unbelievably hard-charging show. His latest album, <em><a href="">Chasing Yesterday</a></em>, perfectly sets the stage for his up-tempo style of live performance. </p> <p>The night was a fantastic mix of solo tracks and Oasis favorites. I hate to call them covers, considering the man who was singing them was the man who wrote them. </p> <p>Having seen Oasis on nearly all of their U.S. tours, it's easy to say this show was more memorable. Part of the reason was its intimacy. I saw my last Oasis show with 20,000 other people. In contrast, there were a mere 2,600 fans at the Opera House, and their voices echoed throughout the venue as they sang along. </p> <p>I remember—from that Oasis show—the arrogant Liam standing at the front of the stage while his brother worked his ass off behind him, moving things along like a true bandleader. Noel gives it his heart and soul; perhaps that's the residual effect of being the songwriter and not just the guy singing someone else’s words. </p> <p><a href="">Best of all was Noel’s banter with the audience.</a> A young man was trying to get Noel’s attention between songs by holding up his own band's CD. When he finally got Noel’s attention, the audience got their best entertainment.</p> <p>CD in hand, Noel walked to the microphone with a confused look on his face. </p> <p>“Listen, young people here, when you are giving away CDs with your shit, there’s not even a fucking name of who it is or what it is called or a phone number, nothin,’ ” he said. He asked the young man if his band is called the Invisible Band. It turns out it's called the Memo. </p> <p>As quick as lightning, Noel replied, “The Memo—do you fucking get the irony of that? A CD with nothing written on it by somebody called the Memo. Fucking hell. Can somebody put that on YouTube? Please put that on YouTube. That’s got to be one of the funniest things I ever fucking heard.” </p> <p>It turns out someone did:</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>It was obvious that several attendees showed up because they love Oasis and wanted to hear their hits, and along came “Champagne Supernova” and “Whatever.” The audience included a wide range of age groups—everyone from high schoolers to folks who could've been their grandparents. </p> <p>But in the end, it didn’t matter; all were united as we sang along to hit after hit, culminating in a brilliant climax—"Don’t Look Back in Anger.” As always, Noel allowed the audience to own the song just as much as he does.</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="/oasis">Oasis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Noel Gallagher Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Oasis Videos Blogs Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:17:31 +0000 Charlie Craine 24830 at The GAS Man: Does Your Nitro Finish Matter? Maybe Not <!--paging_filter--><p>It’s such a nice day out, it seems a shame to ruin it by offending as many readers as possible. But here goes anyways …</p> <p>On a solid body electric, I don’t think a good nitrocellulose finish sounds any better than a good poly one. </p> <p>Many guitarists, particularly those who love vintage instruments, believe everything affects the sound of those great old guitars we love so much. One longstanding claim in particular is that the finish affects the tone, with nitro finishes being at the top of the tone heap and poly finishes at the bottom because of their supposed blanketing effect.</p> <p>But the real problem for tone on a solid body is not whether it’s nitro or poly, but how well it’s applied. The incredibly thick poly coatings from the Sixties and Seventies that are still used on many budget guitars is heavy enough to affect resonance and have given these finishes a bad reputation. But quality modern poly finishes can be applied much more thinly, like traditional nitro.</p> <p>At that point, the differences between finishes are more about cost, environmental safety, durability, feel and aesthetics, not sound.</p> <p>A lot of our preferences have to do with tradition. “Nitro” lacquer finishes come to us via the world of classical stringed instruments. There, the low mass, thinness and hardness of a nitro finish matches well with the light, thin, stiff spruce tops of violins and cellos. </p> <p>Because they are built so delicately, on classical stringed instruments and acoustic guitars, the finish represents a substantial proportion of the soundboard’s mass and stiffness. So historically it makes sense that nitro was (literally) applied to acoustic guitars as well, since they share a lot of physical similarities to violins. </p> <p>But finishes don’t do nearly as much to the vibration of a roughly 2-inch thick Strat or Les Paul as they do to the 1/10” thick soundboard of spruce on a Martin. There just isn’t enough in a thin finish for it to matter whether it is poly or nitro when it comes to the way the electric’s body vibrates. </p> <p>Besides which, the sound of a solid body electric is created by the pickups sensing the strings’ motion, which is then passed to the amplifier—not by the vibrating top acting like a speaker cone as on an acoustic guitar. So again, the finish is a less critical aspect of the sound. </p> <p> “Aha!,” you say, “But the body vibrates and this vibrates the pickups, adding to the tone!” </p> <p>It’s true enough that the pickups themselves vibrate. But it’s miniscule compared to the vibration of the strings—as you can see for yourself when you play a chord. The strings flap all over the place, but (hopefully) not the pickups.</p> <p>Moreover, the pickups are not exactly held in a sound-enhancing material. In a Strat-style electric, for instance, they’re suspended by rubber tubing or springs screwed into a plastic pickguard.</p> <p>If the pickup’s vibrations are so important, we should really be arguing about whether vintage bakelite, single-ply or multi-ply plastic pickguards sound best. Or better yet, we should demand hand-carved, tap-tuned spruce pickguards finished in nitro.*</p> <p>Nitrocellulose lacquer (commonly called “nitro” or simply just “lacquer”) finishes are great, don’t get me wrong. If you think they look beautiful, I agree. If you dig their majestic “mojo” and the way they wear over time, awesome. If you’re restoring a vintage instrument to its original finish, I think you’re doing the right thing. But don’t count on nitro to change, let alone improve the sound of a solid body electric in any way you can hear compared to a well-applied poly finish.</p> <p>Still not convinced? Determined that you can hear the difference between these two well-applied but different finishes on a solid body? </p> <p>Then let me share a little thought experiment with you. Imagine yourself playing the guitar. Which do you think has the biggest effect on the sound:</p> <p>A. A millimeter-thick coating of nitro.</p> <p>B. A millimeter-thick coating of poly.</p> <p>or</p> <p>C. Sandwiching your electric guitar between eight pounds of sweaty forearm and 200 pounds of flannel-covered beer belly.</p> <p>If you believe the type of thin finish on a thick guitar makes a noticeable difference to the sound, then the same reasoning says that holding the guitar against your body as you play makes hundreds or even thousands of times more difference. Contact with your body is going to substantially muffle and alter a solid body electric’s sound orders of magnitude more than any sonic benefit you might get from coating the guitar in nitro, poly or waffle syrup. </p> <p>There's more point in debating what material your shirt is made of. </p> <p>And no, that’s not an argument for wearing polyester.</p> <p><em>* Patent pending. Just in case.</em></p> <p><em>William Baeck is a writer, photographer and hack guitarist living in London. You can check out his webpage at <a href=""></a> and reach him on <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Twitter.</a></em></p> The GAS Man William Baeck Blogs Thu, 25 Jun 2015 21:47:24 +0000 William Baeck 20829 at Playing Tips: Joe Satriani on Improving Your Legato Technique <!--paging_filter--><p>In this bite-sized lesson, Joe Satriani provides some useful exercises for improving your legato technique. </p> <p>From Satch: </p> <p>"Here’s a great exercise that’s cool because it’s a repeated symmetrical pattern that has nothing to do with any specific key signature [<strong>FIGURE 17</strong>]. </p> <p>"I play three notes per string, picking each string only once and then sounding the next two notes with hammer-ons. Then you can change the fingering to this [<strong>FIGURE 18</strong>] or this chromatic pattern [<strong>FIGURE 18,</strong> the last pattern]. You will find that every note that you play on every fret will require a slightly different attack with the fretting fingertip."</p> <p>For more from this lesson, consider our <em>Play Like a Guitar Wizard</em> special issue—which also includes lessons from Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Michael Angelo Batio and more—in our <a href="">online store</a>.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/satchlegato.jpg" width="620" height="261" /></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="/joe-satriani">Joe Satriani</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Joe Satriani Playing Tips Blogs Lessons Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:41:16 +0000 Guitar World Staff 17432 at Guitar Gallery: A Look at Sugizo’s One-of-a-Kind Instruments <!--paging_filter--><p>The final show of Luna Sea’s 20th Anniversary World Tour, “Reboot to the New Moon,” was at Kobe Arena on New Year’s Eve 2010. </p> <p>I traveled to Kobe from Tokyo via bullet train; the landscape outside my window, complete with an awesome view of Mount Fuji, served as the perfect prelude to a concert by one of the most influential bands of Japan’s Visual Kei movement. </p> <p>Sugizo is famous for playing in a variety of bands (Luna Sea, X Japan, Juno Reactor, S.K.I.N.), for being a notable guitarist and violinist, and for his environmental and political activism. </p> <p>With his artistic vision and diversity, to say nothing of his passion, he inspires millions. Check out a gallery of his guitars below!</p> <p>Here’s a little more background on this incredible experience: </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>Here's the man himself performing with his ESP Eclipse S-VIII:</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>About the Photographer, Lisa S. Johnson:</strong></p> <p><em>Armed with a macro lens, an incredible eye for detail and a truly ground breaking vision, Lisa Johnson’s guitar art, is taking the world of fine art photography on a rock and roll ride. Far from still life, Lisa’s work conjures the abstract, yet also possesses a very sensual and ethereal feel that intentionally illustrates the intimate wear and tear details of the instrument. Her unique presentation undoubtedly personifies the musician and captures their true spirit in these wooden extensions of their own iconic flesh.</em></p> <p><em>Her debut book, </em><a href="">108 Rock Star Guitars,</a><em> was released in hardcover in October 2013. A softcover edition was released by Hal Leonard in November 2014—complete with a forward by Les Paul.</em></p> 108 Rock Star Guitars Sugizo Blogs Thu, 25 Jun 2015 11:10:00 +0000 Lisa S. Johnson 24794 at