Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

All the best in 2009....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard Passes

Freddie Hubbard, widely regarded as the most gifted jazz trumpeter of the post-bebop '60s and '70s, died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 70.
about Freddie Hubbard...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tweak Your Guitar For Better Tone

There are ways to change/tweak or improve the sounds of your guitar.Here are a few...

* Lowering pickups into the body may sound better, but will produce less output. Experiment with pickup heights until you find your own "sweet spot."
* ALNICO rod pickups that are too close to the strings can "pull" the string out of tune, especially on the bass side of neck pickups.
* Bigger frets, heavier bodies and maple face plates can add to the highs and thin out the midrange, as do heavier nuts (brass) and bridges (locking tremelos).
* Shielding, on the other hand, reduces highs by raising the capacitance of the circuit. Shielding the coil has more of this effect than shielding the body cavity because it places the shielding closer to the coil itself. Therefore, we do not recommend shielding the coils or the inside of plastic covers because of potential damage and shorting out of the pickup.
* Volume pots put a small short across the pickup dampening highs so a larger value pot will make a guitar a little brighter and a smaller value pot will make it darker.
* A resistor can be added across the pickup (hot to ground) to achieve resistances between standard pot values. ( a 330k resistor added to a 250k pot gives a 145k short across the pickup).

To me,tweaking is fun and the fun never ends!

NAMM Show 2009

OK,another year is leaving soon and what does that mean?It's time for the 2009 NAMM Show in Anaheim,Ca.I will try and keep you somewhat informed,of the happenings,with links and news.I usually supply a link to Harmony Centrals coverage video,it is the best site i have found for this event!Here is a link to the floor plan,a list of music companies and their location... .
The dates and location are...Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802

Thursday, January 15 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday, January 16 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, January 17 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, January 18 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
(Hall E & the NAMM Idea Center open at 9:30 a.m. each day of the show)

If you have never been to a NAMM Show it is a musicians paradise/ultimate candy store!Any and every music manufacturer is there,along with all the major players hanging out and playing or doing private shows,a real treat to behold!Read my earlier post on the 2008 NAMM Show and just what the NAMM Show is about...
HarmonyCentral coverage...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Choosing The Right Single Coil Pick-Up

Seasons Greetings To All...
This is a link to a cool site.The site has sound clips of some single coil pick ups being used in different positions.The pick ups are per se based around a "vintage" sounding set.They are Lindy Fralin,Fender and Jason Lollar.So it is a good gauge for deciding upon what you might want to replace those stock pick ups with!The same guitarand amp, is used in all the sound bytes,and the clips range from Hendrix to Robbin Ford.I was surprised at the "plastic" tone of the Fenders,and the thinness of the Jason me,the Lindy Fralins won my ears...hands down!The others were either plastic or synthetic sounding or thin sounding.It's your preference though...right :-) !And every set of ears is different :-).
The site...hear clips of these various pickups on a level playing field, and this might help you make a more informed decision.This page is all about giving you the opportunity to hear various pickups recorded in a controlled environment. Since every guitar is different, a set of pickups can sound different in one guitar than they do in another, so we had the idea that if we recorded a bunch of pickups in the same guitar, using the same amp, same settings, same player, this would provide a level playing field, where the differences you hear in the sound clips would be the differences in the pickups themselves.
...You want to brighten up a dark guitar? Then you don't want output, because output adds midrange. You want lower output, not higher output.
...Want to warm up a guitar that is already too bright? Then output is what you want.
So here's the link...
And the Fralin pickup page with single coils...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hoping All Peace and a Merry Christmas...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Great Interview With Carl Verheyen

I recently was reading an article over at Premier Guitar with guitarist Carl Verheyen.This guy is so cool sounding and apparently a major player in the recording industry as far as being requested for studio dates.His thoughts on playing,equipment and recording was very inspiring,so i thought i would share it with you.
Below are some highlights of the interview by Oscar Jordan.
Carl Verheyen is a guitar chameleon whose whose adaptability puts him in high demand has made him in high demand for everything from TV commercials to major recordings.
"We mic the amp, but we also mic the room. That’s the sound of the guitar and that’s what I want to hear. I’m not a home studio guy. I pretty much just do little demos for myself on an old hard drive recorder, and mic amps and mic acoustic guitars and work out parts, so I rarely have to use a real studio."
"I never use plug-ins, and I always mic an amp no matter what. I like to mic it through some of that old API gear that they have at Sunset Sound, but I’m paying two hundred bucks an hour (laughs) so it’s a little dangerous. You want to be able to listen to it five to ten years from now and say, “Man, this still holds up,” whereas that plug-in stuff may not. "
"I was listening to Greg Howe’s new record and thinking, “Oh man, this guy’s chops are insane!” There are a lot of people on a level that’s pretty high in terms of that. Now it becomes, how do you layer? How do you orchestrate? My concept has always been, “How do I pick who’s going to be Frank Sinatra? Which guy is going to have that main voice?” On those Frank Sinatra records the whole orchestra comes in and it’s beautiful. There’s this huge level of glorious sound. Then Frank comes in and it’s even more glorious!"
"It started to come together with an A/B system. I would say right around 1990 I started putting together that kind of clean and dirty rig. I remember talking to Allan Holdsworth and he said, “You don’t play clean and dirty out of the same speakers do you?” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “How can you do that? I want a real papery warm sound from my lead tone, like Celestions. From my clean sound I want something a little more bright and pingy.” Then I thought, “Well so do I!” That’s what kind of started me thinking down the road of having two separate rigs."
"When you really get down to it, blues, blues-rock, rock, country, country-rock, bluegrass, jazz, heavy metal, be-bop, all these different styles of music use the same twelve notes. The only difference between the jazz guys is how they ornament the style. They’ll play a certain feel so it’s a rhythmic ornamentation. They’ll play a certain choice of notes so it’s a harmonic thing and a sonic thing. You take that be-bop style of Charlie Parker—it’s really in many cases the mixolydian mode."
"You’ve got to separate your artistic career from your sideman career. Your sideman career is about you being a well-listened craftsman. I was called into a session once where they said, “I need that ZZ Top thing.” That’s Billy Gibbons playing a Les Paul, probably through a little tweed Fender amp. Pinch harmonics… a Texas shuffle is very different than a Chicago shuffle so the sound adjusts, the feel adjusts and here’s my impersonation of Billy Gibbons. That is being a well-listened craftsman, as opposed to an artist. I separate the two in order to make a living. When you are a sideman you’ve got somebody else’s musical vision that you’re trying to bring out. When I’m making my own records it’s my musical vision." on...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Concert Business Has Record Year

With the economy tanking,the concert business has a record year!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The stock market is in the tank, the plant is closing and the neighbor is losing his home ... the perfect time to go to a concert, by one measure.
The concert business grossed just under $4 billion worldwide in 2008, the most ever for a year and up almost 13 percent over last year, according to Billboard magazine....

Warner Music Group and YouTube Disagree

If you want to watch videos of Madonna, Led Zeppelin, Linkin Park, and countless others on YouTube, you better move fast. Citing the collapse of negotiations regarding compensation, Warner Music Group announced on Saturday (Dec. 20) that it would begin pulling its music from the popular video-sharing site....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songwriting Basics...Part 1

I'd like to talk a little about songwriting basics.For those guitarist who want to get started writing their own songs,maybe this will help some.
A song can come from many places.It can be inspired from a thought,an event,a guitar riff or lick or chord progression,a rhythm or beat or a melody you hear in your head or in a song.There are many avenues for starting a song.
Basically speaking,a song has form or sections.This goes back to Classical music.An AB form or 2 sections.The A section being one part and the B section being another,different part.And the movement going from A to B then B to A,etc.The A section being the main section or Chorus,or repeated over.Today's songs in pop music may have additional sections like an Intro and Bridge.So an example of this type form would be...
Intro:A short section of music played at the beginning of the song
: The verses in a song all have the same melody but different lyrics. The verse lyrics give us information about the situation, emotions, or people in the song.
Chorus: We may hear the chorus of a song three, four or more times. The lyric and melody remain the same each time it recurs.The chorus lyrics sums up the heart of the song. The title of the song almost always appears in the chorus section and may be repeated two or more times.
Bridge: The bridge has a different melody, lyrics, and chord progression from the verse or chorus. It provides a break from the repetition of verse and chorus. The lyric often provides an insight or revealing moment.
The above parts could be further enhanced by repetition.And you could call each part a section or A part,B part,C part,D part,etc.And other than the Intro,you could start with a Chorus,then the Verse.The order is up to you.The Bridge is usually the most difficult to come up with.It is the section that is the most different sounding in the song.The Chorus is usually similar to the Verse.And the Chorus states the theme or main melody of the song or what they call the "Hook".It is really the most important part!
So,a song can come from many sources.It has form,or sections.And these sections repeat themselves,with one of the sections being the main theme,the Hook,Chorus or Head(jazz).
This will conclude Part 1 of songwriting,i hope this helps you in your musical journeys.Songwriting can be a very rewarding thing.and next we will expound upon the "art" of songwriting a little more.Below are some links that may help you further your journey...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

For The Curious

10(9) Useful Tips For Guitarist

There are 10(9) useful tips for guitarist over at the Premier Guitar site.Here are a few,but the 10th on the list...Throw away your tuner,i do not agree with,especially for gigging!The others are very useful though....
1. Maximize Tone and Clarity
Most of us love to have enough gain in our tone to feel “safe,” but it is most likely more gain than we need. Try this: dial in the amount of gain that gets you into the zone, then back it off until it gets uncomfortable to play. At that point add just enough to make it tolerable. Your tone will have more clarity and definition and you will project your sound

2. Sharpen Your Pick
When you wear down a pick or have jagged edges on it from too many pick scrapes, drag the pick across the carpet and you will literally melt the pick smooth. Of course, this only works with plastic picks and is best on industrial carpet, but it’s amazingly effective. Because of the way it melts, it’s like buffing the pick out and making it ultra smooth. Use it on both sides of the pick for a super sharp shredder attack!

3. Keep It Simple
Try unplugging all your pedals and go straight from your guitar to the amp. You may rediscover what it is about that direct relationship you came to love in the first place.....more at

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Danny Gatton Must Knows and Sees

This is a great link to an article about Danny Gatton and toys or should i say weapons of choice!From the playing techniques to his equipment.A BIG thanks goes to Ralph Heibutzki over at
Things You’ll Need: * Beer bottle (for slide guitar work) Charlie Christian guitar pickups Danny Gatton albums Danny Gatton instructional videos Echoplex unit Fender Dynamax strings (.010 to 0.46) Fender heavyweight picks Fender Tweed Twin amplifier Gibson L-5 Gibson Les Paul Gibson Les Paul Custom Hammond Leslie cabinet Joe Barden guitar pickups 1953 Fender Telecaster Vibrolux Reverb amplifier
This is really good reading!
***And did i mention Danny Gatton playing slide with a beer bottle then playing with a towel video :-)...
Danny Gatton - Strictly Rhythm Guitar ...$amp;sort=$amp;

Western Music And The Eastern Connection

I was recently reading about some Western artist and how some of their songs had Eastern influences.First to come to mind is Led Zeppelin,"Kashmir" and John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana collaborations,which,by the way,tells my age for even knowing about!And there are others mentioned in the article like Dick Dale,a famous surf guitarist,with the song "Miserlou".And others include,The Grateful Dead with "Blues For Allah",the Rolling Stones,"Paint It Black",and more.And even the music in the movie Pulp Fiction,"Miserlou".,To read more here is the link...
The Matrix Guitar...
The Quilted Top Les Paul...

Friday, December 12, 2008


Here is some useful info about tubes,and a link to a good site on amps and tubes,and also some cool videos
Tube Types And Usage

Tube amplifiers are based primarily on two types of tubes – preamplifier tubes and power
tubes. The tubes used in preamplifiers (12AX7, 12AU7, 12AT7, etc.) are smaller than the
power tubes. These tubes amplify the signal from your instrument and shape the sound. They
are inherently microphonic (they can mechanically pick up and transmit external noises). Since
these tubes are used in the critical first stages of a tube amplifier’s circuitry, it is very important
to use high-quality, low noise/low microphonic tubes for this application. Although tubes
of this quality may be difficult to find and typically cost more than “off-the-shelf” tubes, the
improvement in performance is worth the investment.
Preamplifier tubes are also used to drive the power tubes. When used in this application, a
12AX7 will produce a more distorted tone than a 12AT7, which produces a clearer, sweeter
sound. A 12AU7 is even cleaner and brighter than a 12AT7, giving more definition to the
sound. In some cases it is possible to change the sound by changing the type of preamp
and/or driver tubes.

The power tubes are the largest tubes used in an amplifier. These tubes convert the low-level,
conditioned signal from the preamplifier into a level that is sufficient to drive the speakers.
There are several types of power tubes available, each of which offers a different performance/
sound characteristic. For example, the EL34 power tube produces a great classic rock
sound. When an EL34 is driven into distortion, it produces a unique sound (“crunch”). When
compared to the 6L6, the EL34 distorts more quickly, exhibits a “looser” low-end response
and produces more harmonics at mid and high frequencies (“creamier” sound). These differences
become more noticeable at higher volumes.
The EL84(my Favorite) is similar to the EL34 but produces less output power. It can be easily driven into
distortion and is characterized by a smooth, sweet tone with excellent touch sensitivity.
6L6 tubes produce a big low-end thump and have a very good dynamic range. They offer a
more traditional “American Rock” sound. The 6V6 tubes produce a creamy sound with nice
distortion. On the other hand, the KT88 produces a big low-end but sounds more like an EL34
in the mid and high frequencies.
6550 power tubes are more rugged and stay cleaner-sounding even at full power. When they
do distort, the sound produced is more solid and has a tighter low end; more of a “heavy
metal” type distortion with lots of power.
Some tubes are available in matched sets. These tubes have been extensively tested for optimum performance and longevity.
***Update... Premier Guitar article on Preamp tubes...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guitar Speaker Replacements

This is a link to a site with a good list of guitar speakers.Check it out,and of course,i still favor the Celestion Vintage 30... :-)....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

5th String Root Bar Chord

This is a continuation of the 5th string root bar chord,that was recently posted(below).And,i talked about the 5th string Major shape bar chord.This will include the Major and minor bars.Go below to earlier post to get suggestions that will help in playing the new shapes.The main thing to know is that the minor 5th string root bar is really just an extension of the open minor shape.In this case the A minor.You simply move the shape up to the 12th fret,and bar with the first finger.In all keys the name of the chord will be the note played on the 5th string,hence,5th string root!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Premier Guitar...Vintage Guitar Road Show

Thursday, December 4, 2008

5th String Root Bar Chord

Let's talk about the 5th String Root Bar Chord.It includes 5 strings/5,4,3,2 and 1.The 6th string or the biggest string is not played,normally.This chord,the Major,is barred with fingers 1 and 3.The 1 finger barring five strings and the 3 finger barring three strings.It comes from the A Major shape Open chord.You simply move the A bar up and bar 5 strings 2 frets behind the 3 string it!Just check out the diagram below!Bar chords are "movable"chords.They can be moved up and down the fretboard,unlike the open chords.You would need a capo to move them otherwise.Also,using bar chords means you can now play in all 12 major and minor keys.
The best way to practice is to play it up and down the fret board to the 12th fret and back down. (You may not be able to do this on some guitars. In this case, just go as far as you can. Say, to the 10th fret.) And remember, repeat the name of the chord out loud as you play it. You'll have to do this over and over so you can remember the name and what fret it is played on.
Use sharps going up and flats coming down.

* Going up - A(open)-Bb-B-C-Db-D-Eb-E-F-Gb-G-Ab
* Coming down - A(barred/12th fret)-G#-G-F#-F-E-D#-D-C#-C-B-A#

Remember, this bar chord is based on the open A shape.
remember...the 6th string is normally...not played.And 1st finger is barring 6 strings while the 3rd finger is barring strings 4,3 and 2.Try and pull your wrist down and out while playing this shape,it will help get the bar to work,and lays the fingers down on the fretboard!Also,slant your hand to the left!And most important is....PATIENCE
We will talk about the 5th string minor bar shape next.