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v o l . 4 9 , n o . 5 , M aY 2 0 1 5

Editor in chiEf

Managing Editor sEnior Editor associatE Editor los angElEs Editor

Michael Molenda mmolenda@nbmedia.com Kevin Owens kowens@nbmedia.com Art Thompson athompson@nbmedia.com Matt Blackett mblackett@nbmedia.com Jude Gold judegold@gmail.com

consulting Editors

Jim Campilongo, Jesse Gress, Henry Kaiser, Michael Ross, Leni Stern, David Torn

art dirEctor

Paul Haggard Elizabeth Ledgerwood Production ManagEr Beatrice Kim Music coPYist

PublishEr: Joe Perry jperry@nbmedia.com, 212.378.0464 advErtising dirEctor, EastErn rEgion, MidwEst & EuroPE: Jeff Donnenwerth jdonnenwerth@nbmedia.com, 212.378.0466 advErtising dirEctor, wEstErn rEgion & asia Mari Deetz mdeetz@nbmedia.com, 650.238.0344 advErtising salEs, EastErn accounts: Anna Blumenthal ablumenthal@nbmedia.com, 646.723.5404 sPEcialtY salEs advErtising: Jon Brudner jbrudner@nbmedia.com, 917.281.4721

thE nEwbaY Music grouP vicE PrEsidEnt, Publishing dirEctor: Bill Amstutz grouP PublishEr: Bob Ziltz Editorial dirEctor: Brad Tolinski sEnior financial analYst: Bob Jenkins Production dEPartMEnt ManagEr: Beatrice Kim grouP MarkEting dirEctor: Christopher Campana sEnior MarkEting ManagEr: Stacy Thomas consuMEr MarkEting dirEctor: Crystal Hudson consuMEr MarkEting coordinator: Dominique Rennell fulfillMEnt coordinator: Ulises Cabrera officEs sErvicEs coordinator: Mara Hampson

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for custoM rEPrints & E-Prints PlEasE contact our rEPrints Coordinator at Wright’s Media 877-652-5295 or NewBay@wrightsmedia.com list rEntal: 914-925-2449 or danny.grubert@lakegroupmedia.com PlEasE dirEct advErtising and Editorial inQuiriEs to: GUITAR PLAYER, 1111 BAYHILL DR., SUITE 440, SAN BRUNO, CA 94066; (650) 238-0300; FAX (650) 238-0261; guitplyr@nbmedia.com. PlEasE dirEct subscriPtion ordErs, inQuiriEs, and addrEss changes to GUITAR PLAYER, BOX 469073, Escondido, CA 92046-9073, or phone (800) 289-9839, or send an email to guitarplayer@pcspublink.com, or click to subscriber services at guitarplayer.com. back issuEs: Back Issues are available for $10 each by calling (800) 2899839 or by contacting guitarplayer@pcspublink.com. Guitar Player is a registered trademark of Newbay Media. All material published in Guitar Player is copyrighted © 2015 by Newbay Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Guitar Player is prohibited without written permission. Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts, photos, or artwork. All product information is subject to change; publisher assumes no responsibility for such changes. All listed model numbers and product names are manufacturers’ registered trademarks. follow Guitar Player online at:

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Contents M AY 2 0 1 5 | VoluMe 49, NuMber 5

GP COMMUNITY 16

We can all use a sense of community. Share your photos, gear and CD/DVD reviews, likes/dislikes, favorite amps and guitars, tone and technique tips, gig stories, and more with the Guitar Player reader community. Come on… join in!

OPENING SHOTS 18

We get up close and personal with

lESSONS

the gigs, the gear, the guts, and

82

A thorough examination of a particular style or

the coolest thing in the world.

player. This month: Jeff Beck Live in Tokyo.

RIFFS 20

90 94

riffs like Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy

COVER STORY Angus Young tells all about the band’s new album, what he needs in a guitar tone, what it’s like to record without his bro, and more. Bonus: Super producer Brendan O’Brien talks about capturing AC/DC in the studio.

FEATURES

You’re Playing It Wrong You might think you know how to play classic

the book on GP’s golden era, and more!

AC/DC

Rhythm Workshop If 6 Was 4

Check in with Miss May I, talk songcraft with John Oates, see an excerpt from

48

Under Investigation

the glory that make playing guitar

Blue Eyes.” Here’s the absolute real deal.

FRETS 63

Andy Powers

72

Michael Nicolella

78

Review Veillette Gryphon Avante 12

80

Vintage Excerpt Chet Atkins on Tremolo (from the December 1984 issue of Frets)

26

Richie Kotzen

GET SMART

32

Arlen Roth

124 Carl Verheyen on Performing

42

Laur Joamets

126 Craig Anderton on Technology

ClASSIC Ad

127

Jason Becker on Creativity

146 Plush Amplifiers (from the April 1970 issue of GP)

AC/DC

On the cover: Angus Young

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Guitar Player, Box 469073, Escondido, CA 92046. Guitar Player (ISSN 0017-5463) is published monthly with an extra issue in December by Newbay Media, LLC, 1111 Bayhill Drive, Suite 125, San Bruno, CA 94066. Periodicals postage paid at San Bruno, CA, and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.

14

G u I TA r P l A Y e r . C o M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


GEAR 97

Annual Guide to Signature Guitars

118

Fryette Power Station

120 Accessory File Guitar Strap Shifter 122 Classic Gear 1955 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody

MORE ONLINE! Expand your experience far beyond the pages of Guitar Player at guitarplayer.com

COOL STUFF 24/7! • Hear the new Dunlop pedals at guitarplayer.com/video • Learn all about the Carvin Jason Becker Numbers guitar at guitarplayer.com/gear • Explore the four levels of the blues at guitarplayer.com/lessons • Get tips from Steve Vai at guitarplayer.com/artists

JOIN THE GP COMMUNITY! Facebook Get news and post comments at facebook.com/guitarplayermag GP Forum Debate, shock, educate, and share with fellow readers at guitarplayer.com Twitter Follow daily tweets at twitter.com/guitarplayernow

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

15


GP Community N oi z e f ro m the ed ito r are almost non-existent. Most of

music are larger issues. We can

complicated issues in a short col-

the club owners I’ve talked to are

blame consumer culture and its

umn. I’m also aware that much

not greedy hucksters, either—they

enthusiasm for getting stuff for

of this is an old, boring story to

actually do care about live music

free, but I’m assuming a good

some of us. But that’s why I’m

and local bands. But here’s the rub—

amount of musicians are part of

concerned—it’s an old story that

sometimes, musicians don’t really

that public, as well. And that’s all

continues to rear up and compro-

deserve the efforts of the clubs.

kinds of messed up if a musician

mise musicians’ abilities to earn

Let’s face it—many bands lie

feels it’s okay to copy and distrib-

a decent living making music. As

about their draw, don’t effectively

ute the music of other musicians,

I said in a recent NAMM seminar

No oNe likes beiNg a

promote their shows, take gigs in

thereby denying those musicians

on music distribution: “If the next

scapegoat, but maybe we are to

the same area less than a month

any chance of being paid for their

generation runs the numbers and

blame for a few of the ills and frus-

before another scheduled show,

artistic “product.” But perhaps

discovers that being a successful

trations bedeviling our fine little

and cause drama by not acting

musicians are also to blame when

professional musician may garner

musical community. Let’s look at

professionally when they inter-

we don’t stand up for our rights

less than a middle-class wage, will

club gigs, for example. If you’re in an

act with the club staff. So when a

and demand to be paid fair-mar-

they choose to make the sacrifices

area where the live music scene is

venue closes—or stops promot-

ket value for our works. Or think

necessary to create music?”

boppin’ and prosperous, then I’m a

ing live music—is it because of

about this: Every time one of us

What are we going to do?

bit envious because much of Cal-

crap business management and/

gives away his or her music in return

Please send your thoughts to me

ifornia sucks. Venues have been

or bad luck, or is it because the

for “promotion” or “making a con-

at mmolenda@nbmedia.com.

closing, some places have gone

bands didn’t help get paying cus-

tact” or “getting a credit,” it likely

pay-to-play, and “entry-level” joints

tomers through the doors?

further devalues the worth of all

where new bands can start devel-

The current challenges with

oping an audience (and their act)

making money from selling your

of our creativity.

P e e r Co m m eN t they play the hell out of their guitars, but Guitar Player hardly mentions

I don’t mean to over simplify

FACTOID |

5 Top Auction Guitar Prices

them: John Jorgenson, brad Paisley, brent mason, Vince gill, Clay Cook—the list is endless. or maybe this is “Rock and Blues Guitar Player” magazine?

$965,000 bob dylan’s “Newport folk festival” fender stratocaster

—Linda StoneS MSibi (via Facebook)

$959,000 Well, we’ve had Brad Paisley on our cover twice, and GP has embraced all styles of music in its pages since the magazine was founded in 1967. However, if any reader feels we are not adequately recognizing certain players or styles, please alert me at mmolenda@nbmedia.com. And perhaps we don’t cover enough country players. What’s your view? —MichaeL MoLenda

OOPS!

After being so nice about letting us reprint his images of the early years of Guitar Player in our “Magic Time” article on pages 22 and 24 of the April 2015 issue, we went and forgot Jon Sievert’s photo

credit. Sievert was a huge part of this magazine’s glory years—as documented in Jim and Dara Crockett’s new book, Guitar Player: The Inside Story of the First Two Decades of the Most Successful Guitar Magazine Ever—and fumbling his photo

eric Clapton’s “blackie” fender stratocaster

$957,000 Jerry garcia’s custom “tiger” guitar

$567,000 george harrison’s Revolver gibson sg

$300,000 Jimi hendrix’s “Woodstock” fender stratocaster

credit is about as embarrassing as it can get. Our apologies, Jon! Source: inFoGraPhic Guide to MuSic, GrAHAm BettS [octoPuS BookS]

16

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


GOT A QUESTION FOR YOUR COMMUNITY? guitplyr@musicplayer.com

Interact!

Partner in Crime

Join the GP community! SOUND OFF! GET EXCLUSIVE NEWS. COMMENT. CRITIQUE. SHARE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES. SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-NEWSLETTER.

FACEBOOK.COM/GUITARPLAyERMAG TWITTER.COM/GUITARPLAyERNOW GUITARPLAyER.COM

Da n Ga m b l e of t h e b e e n t he r e Don e t hat Band wields this 2003 Epiphone Jorma Kaukonen Signature Riviera Deluxe that he customized with a Master Volume MicHaeL MoLenDa, Editor In Chief

control, a relocated selector switch, a kill button, an armrest,

mmolenda@musicplayer.com

and a Gibson ES-335-style pickguard.

Facebook court oF opinion

art tHoMpSon, Senior Editor athompson@musicplayer.com

What's your take on signature-model guitars? Do you have a favorite signature model? terry Liedel

None. A guitar isJoe a personal Lucasti extension of Chet Atkins theRoy player. and Clark.

Jonathan Morris bill McMillan

David Gilmore Strat!

Squier John 5 Tele. Reasonably priced.

Steven H Miller

It’s how it feels and sounds.

John runge

I bought a Jeff Beck Strat solely for the tone.

ryan thrash

An Ace Frehley Budokon— just to have around.

Matt bLackett, Associate Editor mblackett@musicplayer.com

kevin oWenS, Managing Editor kowens@musicplayer.com

Mike coffman

nick Yates

Geoff White

bill bain

David peterson

andrew pearce Webb

Sadly, they don’t make me play any better.

They can only lead to disappointment.

Rory Gallagher.

It would have to be something functional.

Just bought a G&L Cantrell Rampage.

Andy Timmons—a great working guitar.

pauL HaGGarD, Art Director phaggard@musicplayer.com

m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

17


Gear Opening Shots

J i m mars hall / Š Estat E of J im mars hal l

ROU N DUP

18

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


Sam Andrew, 1941-2015 Sam Andrew (second from left), founding member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, died February 12 as a result of complications from open heart surgery. Jim Marshall took this photograph of the band in May 1967 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco during the filming of the movie Petulia, directed by Richard Lester (whose credits also include The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night).

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

19


R ffs i

Justin aufdemkampe (left) and B.J. stead.

Rock the Nation By Mich a el Molenda i t ’s t e M p t i n g to co n s i d e r t h at

Miss May I’s 1.5 million Facebook Likes, 188,000 Twitter followers, and multi-million YouTube views are the sole product of big record company dollars spent to promote the Ohio metalcore act. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, Miss May I developed its rabid following with the old-school, “bring it on the road” method. The band members— vocalist Levi Benton, bassist Ryan Neff, drummer Jerod Boyd, and guitarists Justin Aufdemkampe and B.J. Stead—have toiled like obsessed workaholic demons, and they have performed more than 900 shows since 2009. As the group continues to work its latest album, Rise of the Lion [Rise], through

20

Miss May i’s Metalcore road rules

festivals, club gigs, arenas, and theaters, Aufdemkampe and Stead offered to detail some of the elements of their stagecraft. how did you develop your live presentation? stead: It happened slowly over time.

When we were in high school, our classmates would come to our shows on the weekends, and then talk about them during the week. That taught us something valuable about the power of word of mouth. So we put ourselves out there as much as we could—whether it was playing shows or promoting ourselves through social media—and we always listened to our fans and tried to give them the kind of concerts that would make them happy and spread the word about us. It was more or less controlled chaos, but we also had a calculated

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

plan to get out there and build an audience. is there a format for crafting a Miss May i set list? stead: The set list we play depends

mostly on the kind of people who are coming to the shows, and which bands we’re touring with. If we’re on, say, the Mayhem Festival with Five Finger Death Punch, we’re going to play some of our newer songs that are really drive-y and stomp-y—kind of more edgy radio-esque— because the fans are probably younger, and they may not be aware of our older material. However, if the audience is full of predominantly older fans of ours, we’ll do a fair amount of all the real fast songs with breakdowns that we played when we first started out. do you have to be careful about the


kinds of things you play for your metalcore fans? Are there stylistic sacred cows that you don’t dare twist around backwards? Aufdemkampe: It’s just having the

riff—the melodic riff—and those heavy breakdown parts. Literally, I could sum it up by just saying, “As I Lay Dying”— even though their newest albums are more metal than metalcore. Stead: You can’t change your style too drastically from your previous albums and expect everyone to stick around. But unless you want to put out the same album eight times in a row, you have to evolve, as well. We’re always going to play fast, heavy riffs, and we’re always going to have heavy breakdowns. These things are going to be incorporated into our music until the end of days. But that doesn’t mean we’re not ever going to experiment with slower, softer things. It just means we have to stick to our roots in some way. Speaking of metalcore essentials, what’s your approach for getting those breakdown punches and stops so tight and precise? Aufdemkampe: I try to find a real tight

sound, and I use my ISP Decimator to gate

some of that muddy, nasty low-end weirdness you can get from the strings. Like, when you pause or stop, you want it to be clean and tight with the band—no bass overruns or scratches or anything. I do palm mute, but we’re super loud onstage, so there are times when the sound is not going to be completed muted. Even with the Decimator, I have to be careful where I’m standing when we play stop and breakdowns. For example, I might be in front of the main house speakers, and I’ll get feedback that I don’t want. There’s a lot of stuff you have to be conscious of. This is why we use the Orange cabinets. They hold the low end better. It’s super tight and never fluttery. How about solos? Stead: My solo style is a weird combi-

nation of Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd. I like David Gilmour a lot, because he’s not all about speed. He’s always just about the feel of the note, the context of what’s around it, and the emotion you get from it. What’s your main gear for the road? Stead: I’ve been playing Fenders and

Jacksons for the last five years or so, but I just switched over to Ibanez. I still love playing my old guitars, but I just wanted to try

something new, and my friend Chris Rubey from The Devil Wears Prada introduced me to Ibanez. I use Prestige RGs for dropped-C tuning, and an ARZ for the songs in droppedA#. I use GHS strings—.011-.052 gauges without the wound third for dropped-C, and .013-.056 for lower tunings. I’ve been using Peavey 6505+ amps pretty much since day one when we were a local band, and I run them through Orange cabinets that have been customized with grey-vinyl coverings—kind of like what’s in a truck bed. It’s cool. My effects are pretty straightforward—a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, a Cry Baby wah, an Ibanez TS9, a TC Electronic Flashback X4, and an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano reverb—and I just use them to open things up or add punch. Aufdemkampe: I play Charvel San Dimas guitars and EVH 5150 heads through the Orange cabinets. Strings are GHS, .012.052 for dropped-C, and I go to .012-.056 for dropped-A#. My effects setup is pretty simple, as well. I use a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor or an ISP Decimator, a Boss delay, and a Maxon OD808 Overdrive. I’m a huge tone nerd, so I get pretty meticulous about sound—maybe too meticulous. g

Blast from GP’s Past Here’s an insight right from the pages of Jim and Dara Crockett’s new book, Guitar Player: The Inside Story of the First Two Decades of the Most Successful Guitar Magazine Ever [Backbeat/Hal Leonard]. Jim Crockett was publisher of GP from 1970-1989, and the book is a collection of oral histories from the editors, photographers, artists, and advertisers who were in the magazine’s orbit during that era.

“Fun Fact: To get started giving guitar lessons in Berkeley, California, I used to slip my own handwritten advertisements on 3x5 cards in Guitar Player magazines stacked at the local supermarket. I think it was Jas Obrecht who first contacted me about doing an interview. I was still giving guitar lessons at Second Hand Guitars in Berkeley, and recording solo-guitar music at night. The interview experience was so exciting, because the journalist asked all the cool questions. G Le n La Fe r Man

“When GP put me on the cover, and I had my new song, ‘The Crush of Love’ inside [the magazine] on the Soundpage, it had an enormously positive effect on my career. The song went on to become a radio hit for me, and GP can take the credit for ‘breaking it.’”

— J o e S at r i a n i

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

21


Riffs

John Oates

On his FOlk ROOts and aRRanging FOR twO guitaRs

GREG VOROBIOV

By Mich a el Ross The daRk-haiRed guy in hall &

Oates was playing guitar long before he wrote all those soulful hits. “I took my first guitar lesson at six, and I started by playing three-chord country music,” says John Oates. Like many guitarists coming of age during the ’60s folk revival, Oates learned the styles of Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, and Reverend Gary Davis. On his latest solo project, the DVD/CD combo, Another Good Road [Elektra Nashville], Oates’ performance of “Stagger Lee” recalls Hurt’s version without being a slavish imitation. “John Hurt did it in the key of D with a dropped D,” explains Oates. “I do it in a D shape in the key of E, and with a 5-string capo that leaves my E string open. It’s like dropped D, but other chord shapes—the A and the G—are normal. It allows me to have that low bottom string on the E chord.” In Hall & Oates, his electric playing reflects a Curtis Mayfield-inspired rhythm style that often overshadows his folk

22

leanings. His solo work, however, reverses the equation, with roots guitar dominating, bit still tinged with occasional touches of Philly soul. “To find my solo voice, I went back to my folk and blues roots,” he says. Oates plays few solos in Hall & Oates, as lead-guitar chores are farmed out to specialists, and this remains largely the case on his solo releases. Still, some tunes on the live DVD demonstrate his knack for a hooky single-note riff, and even feature the occasional Oates lead workout. “When it comes to the flashy stuff, I throw it to the guitarists in my band, Guthrie Trapp or Shane Theriot,” says Oates. “Sometimes, though, I tell them, ‘I’m going to take this one!’” Having worked with another guitarist for the bulk of his career, Oates has firm ideas about how to maximize the dualaxe combo. “First, I listen very closely, and I am always aware of what the other guitarist is playing,” he says. “I will watch his hands, and where he voices his chords. I might

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

suggest, ‘I’m going to stay in the first five frets, and play a lot of open strings. Why don’t you play the inversion on the fifth fret?’ I want to make sure the tonalities and the harmonies are not clashing.” Oates differentiates his sound with his gear choices, as well. “I use a James Trussart Steelcaster through a Swart amp, because I don’t want to step on Shane or Guthrie’s guitar sound,” he says. “My hollow, metal-bodied Trussart gives me a bright, ringing, almost Dobrolike tone, compared to Shane and Guthrie’s warmer and more traditional wooden solidbody sounds.” The guitarist had Xact Tone Solutions in Nashville build a pedalboard with a Vox wah, a Fulltone Full-Drive 2, a Durham Electronics Sex Drive (on at all times for boost), an MXR Carbon Copy (for long delays), a vintage MXR Phase 90, and an old Boss Chorus. “It’s even more important to be careful when you play with a keyboard—which covers so much harmonic territory,” he says. “I’ll ask keyboard players to play a two-finger chord, otherwise it’s too dense against the guitars. Or, I may go to simple two-note fifths or fourths, so I’m not in the way of the keyboard. It’s all about listening and knowing how to orchestrate the melodies and harmonies within the rhythm section.” g


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The Time Is Now

RIchIe KoTzeN Combines old and new on His latest by matt b l acke tt “On this recOrd i rea lly embraced the fact that i cOu ld d O

whatever the hell I wanted to do artistically,” says Richie Kotzen about his latest, Cannibals [Headroom-Inc]. “In the past, I always had that looming pressure of people at labels saying, ‘Everyone knows you as a guitar player. Make sure you have a lot of guitar on there and be sure to do a lot of solos.’ Well, I can’t really write music and worry about what the guitar is doing.” Fans of Kotzen’s amazing 6-string talents needn’t fear, however, because Cannibals has tons of great riffs and interesting solos. It’s just that Kotzen’s vocal melodies and lyrics are the focal points in tunes that span high-energy rock, old-school R&B, and introspective ballads. He covers stylistic ground that you wouldn’t necessarily expect on a Winery Dogs record, but his voice and guitar are so distinctive that you know it’s him right away. He’s clearly at a point in his career where he’s comfortable sounding like himself. “I might use some of the same chord progressions I’ve used before,” he says, “but I think that is partially what defines someone’s writing style. It’s what helps you recognize, say, a Hall & Oates tune or a Bob Seger tune. Those artists both use different chord changes than each other, but they both tend to reuse some of their chord progressions. You don’t even notice, though, because the songs are so powerful. Hopefully that’s what I’m doing.” Although Kotzen writes music almost constantly, he didn’t mind digging into the vault for some of the material on Cannibals. “There are some things on this record that I’ve had for a long time that I never really knew how to include on any of my previous records, but for some reason they seemed to fit on Cannibals. Somehow I thought now is the time to release them.” some things on Cannibals are a bit of a departure for you.

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Gr eG VorobioV

I think the record is very consistent with where I left off on the previous one, 24 Hours, but there are things on this record that people haven’t heard me do before. One of the highlights for me is the song “You,” which was written by my daughter and myself. It was written in kind of a weird way. I remember many years ago, she must have been 14 or maybe even younger, she would always sit at the piano and play the three sections that are in that song. One day I asked her, “What is that?” And she told me, “It’s something that I made up.” I said, “That’s really good. I want to make sure you don’t forget that. Let’s record it.” She played for about seven minutes and did all three sections. She never finished it and kind of forgot about it. When I was looking through my files of older


Features R ICH I E KOTZEN

compositions, I found it and decided to finish it. We made a video for it that I released at the end of last year just because I was so excited that I had a song that my daughter wrote. The tune “Come On Free” has a really powerful and to-the-point guitar solo.

Obviously that’s an older solo. You can hear that I’m using a guitar pick, which nowadays I’ve abandoned for the most part. One of the things that makes it sound so deliberate is that when it comes in, it’s loud in the mix and it’s really the only instrument on the entire track that has that kind of tonality. It just comes out of left field, but in my opinion, it fits perfectly. Also there’s a flanger on it, which is something that you don’t often hear me use. I think those are the reasons why it sounds so deliberate. How did you play the fast, intricate nylonstring runs in “Time for the Payment”?

With a pick. That’s another song that was recorded during the Richie Kotzen guitarpick era, before I really started committing

to fingerstyle playing. I believe I played that on a Yamaha nylon-string. I definitely don’t claim to be a nylon-string player, but I wanted that tonality. That’s what I heard in my head and it worked for me, so I allowed that to live there. That song could have gone in a million directions, but that’s what I ended up doing.

and phrases that I can use in my music that I couldn’t do before because they can only be done with fingers. On the last record I did with the Winery Dogs, there are solos that are straight fingerstyle and stuff where I use a pick. But if you see me live, I won’t be using a guitar pick because I don’t want to take them with me.

Is there anything you miss about playing with a pick?

Talk about your signature Tech 21 pedal.

The beauty of it is, anytime I want, I can grab a guitar pick and still play. I didn’t forget how to play with a pick. As a matter of fact, when I do play with a pick, I actually pick better than I ever did. I don’t know why, but I do. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I love the fact that when I pack to go on tour, I don’t have to think about guitar picks. It’s one less thing for me to take. I love that more than anything. The other thing I love is that when I play with my fingers, I feel more connected to the instrument. And now I have a whole new vocabulary of lines

The whole thing stems from something I did that I showed the guys at Tech 21. I was doing a lot of dates that I would call fly gigs. I’d fly in and I’d be on some crazy amp that wasn’t necessarily my first choice. I’d also be with a local crew, so setting up or tearing down could be a bit of an issue. I wanted something that was easy to travel with and easy to set up. I took a two-stage overdrive, a Tech 21 delay pedal, and the switching mechanism from my Fender Twin, which was the amp I was using at the time. I took all of those components and put them in one crude-looking metal chassis. I showed that


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Features Ri ch i e Kotz en

to Andrew [Barta] from Tech 21. He found a way to make it way more professional, and that became the Fly Rig. We spent about six months working on the overdrive until it was right for me, and that’s my signature RK5 Fly Rig. It’s just such a practical idea. That’s what I’m using, plus this great little wah called the Fire Wah from Brazil and a Line 6 digital wireless that I really love. Do you typically get your distortion from the amp or from the pedal?

It depends on the amp. My go-to amp is a Marshall 100-watt plexi, and when I use that amp, most of my distortion comes from the pedal because the amp is so loud. To get the amp distortion, I would need to be in a much bigger room than I often find myself in. And even if I was in a bigger room, with the amp behind me I have to be careful with the volume because I’m singing. It’s trying to find a balance where I can hear myself sing but still get that kind of tone that guitar players like to get. With the 100-watt plexi, the

Make Great

first stage of the RK5’s overdrive is always on, and then I can get the full lead tone by turning up my guitar’s volume all the way. If I ever feel like I’m getting into trouble and I need just a little more distortion, I can hit the boost. That’s how I use the RK5 in that particular setup or through a Fender Twin. I also love this little 18-watt hand-wired Marshall combo, the 1974X. With that, I turn the amp up all the way and it just has a great natural distortion. Then I use the RK5 as more of a boost. That’s what’s cool about this pedal: you have options. From the outside looking in, it seems like you stay really busy. how do you manage all the various recording projects and tours that you do?

That’s a good question. 2011 was when I released my last solo record, 24 Hours, and I toured a lot on that record—more than a year all over the world if you add everything up. After that, my plan was to take a break and not do anything. And then suddenly the

Winery Dogs formed, so I wrote the Winery Dogs record and released it. We toured for a long time and I was exhausted. Then my label suggested that I put out a compilation record. I was picking songs that were already recorded so it wasn’t that much work. I had two new songs that would have been on a solo record, so I threw them on there. Then I put out Cannibals. I know it seems like I’m a work machine, but in order to do all this, I need balance. I just came off the road. I’m home, and I’m literally just not doing anything on purpose for two months. It’s crucial to get away from music and do something else, because otherwise you can start hating what you’re doing. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid and I would write and record 24 hours a day. As you get older and more experienced, that can change. I’m still excited about music, but I know if I don’t get away from it when I feel like I need to, I’ll start to hate it, and I don’t ever want to be mad at music. g

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


Slide Celebration

Arlen roth’s New RecoRd Assembles NiNe slippeRy GuitARists By M i c h a e l ross G e n e rat i o n s o f Gu i ta r i sts h av e l e a r n e d to p l ay s l i d e

from Arlen Roth’s books and Hot Licks videos. For Slide Guitar Summit [King Mojo/Garage Door], the educator/player assembled nine fellow guitarists—some of whom grew up on his tutorials—to demonstrate the art of moving metal across the strings. Johnny Winter, Sonny Landreth, David Lindley, Rick Vito, Jimmy Vivino, Jack Pearson, Lee Roy Parnell, Cindy Cashdollar, and Greg Martin duel with Roth on tracks that run the gamut from roadhouse shuffle (Winter on “Rocket 88”) to Hawaiian exotica (Vito on “Paradise Blues”). Roth’s tasteful playing—honed in session work for Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan, among many others—and choice of classy cohorts ensured against indulgent cutting sessions. On January 20, Vito, Pearson, Parnell, and Martin joined Roth in Nashville for the record release party for Summit and a “making of ” documentary screening. The previous day, we sat with the former GP columnist while he explained the fine points of slide guitar, and how this meeting of the masters came together. What was your original attraction to slide?

It was the first thing I did on the guitar. I would watch Alvino Rey or Santo and Johnny on TV. We had a two-string Stella in the house and I would pick up my mother’s lipstick holder and start to play slide with it. It seemed easy. I took a few classical lessons, which taught me to use three fingers and the thumb, as well as blocking and damping, so the minute I put on a slide I was able to get a clean sound. At 19, I met with Happy Traum, who asked me to do part of an instruction book for Oak Publications. I walked out of there with a three-book deal covering slide guitar, Nashville guitar, and blues guitar. That slide guitar book is still the standard for books of that type. how did you choose who would be on this record?

I had the idea, and two weeks later I was in the studio with Johnny Winter. It is one of his last recordings. A lot of folks were friends who had worked with me before. Greg Martin, from the Kentucky Headhunters, had done a video for Hot Licks years ago, as had Lee Roy Parnell. Rick Vito

m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

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Features A r l e n roth

and I had worked together with John Prine. Some, like Cindy Cashdollar, were mutual admiration societies. I had known of her, and we had played on albums together, but had never met. Jimmy Vivino was always a slide lover, so I called him. There were other people I tried to get, but it got to be too much. We ended up with nine players. how did you learn about Jack Pearson?

Some people were telling me, “You’ve got to get this guy Jack Pearson.” I have to admit I didn’t know much about him at that point—I didn’t know he had been in the Allman Brothers for a few years. I heard him play and spoke to him and he just seemed so nice. He had such a great song to contribute to the album: “Do What’s Right.” the record really seems to touch on a variety of different styles.

It covers all the styles. It surprised me that Jimmy Vivino, from up north, was the one that brought in the National Steel and wanted to play real Delta-style blues slide guitar. Other

than that, you’re dealing with Chicago style and a lot of southern rock, like doing “Dixie Chicken” as a tribute to Lowell George—Lee Roy just nailed it. Cindy Cashdollar brought the western swing lap-steel aspect. I wanted her to do “Stranger on the Shore,” the old Acker Bilk hit. It worked out great as a slide piece.

Sonny Landreth and I had worked together on the album I did with Levon Helm. He gets all that “train time” and percussive stuff going on, playing behind the slide and all that. I’m a little bit more traditional so we work well together. cont inu e D on pag e 38


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Features A r l e n roth

Slide SidekickS

So m e o f t h e gu eStS at t h e S l i d e Gu i ta r Su m m i t r e l eaS e pa rt y d i ScuSS h ow t h e y m et a r l e n a nd w hat gea r th e y uS e d o n th e recor d. GreG MArtin I grew up with Guitar Player; and I feel like I’ve known Arlen for years just from reading his columns in the magazine. Later, I did a Hot Licks video called Kentucky Fried Pickin’. I used my ’58 sunburst Les Paul in standard tuning through a 1968 plexi Marshall head and a basketweave 4x12 Marshall cabinet from the ’60s. The only pedals I’ve got are in my van: a gas pedal and a brake [laughs]. I have my signature slide by Rocky Mountain Slide on my ring finger. lee roy PArnell Arlen was doing the Hot Licks videos about the time I was getting rolling in Nashville. He took notice and asked me if I would like to do a video: The Art of Slide Guitar. For this record I used an oddball tobacco sunburst Les Paul made by Mike McGuire, who started Valley Arts Guitars in California. It weighs about six and a half pounds. He used Paulownia wood for the back and sides. It’s a little bit darker sounding. I have an affinity for 50-watt Marshall heads, and have always loved 4x10 cabinets. I wear the slide on my ring finger and play in open G. I was asked to do “Dust My Blues,” and said, “Arlen, it’s been done so many times—how about ‘Dixie Chicken?’ I think we did one take. JAck PeArson I know Arlen originally from the Hot Licks videos he did in the ’80s. I first met him when he asked me if I’d do a tune on this record. We did my tune, “Do What’s Right.” I used an old Silvertone in open D through a Fender Blues Junior. It was one take. I think Arlen did some of his fills later.

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Features A r l e n roth continu eD fro m page 3 4

how did you divide up the parts with each person?

I pointed: “You! Me!” In some cases it was discussed a little bit more. We might say, “You take the second verse, I’ll take the opening verses,” but mostly we just trusted each other. When it came time for Greg Martin to take it on “Amazing Grace,” it just felt right. He was the one that really wanted to do that song, so I set it up melodically and all of a sudden he comes in with that raw standard-tuning slide. Standard tuning is always going to present problems, but in his case it had that extra angst, so it just worked out. What kind of problems does standard tuning present?

I never been an advocate of standard-tuning slide, though I’ve seen some people do a great job with it, and I can too. You have to have incredible right-hand dampening techniques, because you don’t have the box position and chords that you get by tuning to an open chord. What you can play within two

to three frets in open E tuning takes seven frets to play in standard. You’ve got all kinds of overtones, so if you don’t hit the strings just right in standard, it’s going to ring out all these discordant notes. When Mick Taylor did a video for me years ago, I couldn’t believe that he was playing in standard tuning with a pick, and it was perfectly clean. The pick limits you as well, you can’t get the two or three notes at a time or the bass that you would with fingerpicking. Did you use the same amps in different studios?

I brought my own amps with me when I came to Nashville. It was always my Deluxe Reverb and a Louis Electric amp. Everything was isolated, so when I came back to New York I could repair a bunch of my parts. The important thing in Nashville was getting great takes from everybody else—not being overly concerned with mine. I kept some of what I did, but I wanted better tones. I used to be in the school of “We got that perfect, let’s not touch

that.” But you should give yourself the chance to get it even better, because this is recording. You can try different amps and guitars. In the studio, I come with 15 different instruments, maybe three or four different amps. I picture what I want for the songs and will finely home in on the sound I’m looking for. It sounds like three guitars on a lot of the tunes. Did you do the overdubs when you were doing the fixes?

Some of them—but some we cut with the rhythm track. For example, on “Peach Picking Time in Georgia,” it’s me and Greg Martin playing rhythm guitar, and then we overdubbed the higher slide leads answering each other. the David lindley track sounds like it was recorded live at a venue. Why did you take all the solos on that one?

You can’t really hear it on the tape, but in the club David had this larger than life sound. I’m playing this little Gibson lapsteel with the Charlie Christian pickup. I think if he had taken a solo the whole bottom


Features A r l e n rot h

would’ve dropped out. That could have been why he kept saying, “Take another one! Do it again!” We had a great time. I see you’ve got serious nails. Is that all you use, or do you use a pick and fingers on the slide?

how do you keep those nails? Are they real?

Well, these were done at a little nail place. I was getting so tired of them breaking

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Slide is thumb and three fingers—classical style. That way your thumb can be the

dampening tool. Playing standard guitar on a Telecaster, I’ll usually play pick and two fingers, but I’m starting to go back to all fingers on guitar.

right before a big gig. I can hear on recordings if it was the day my middle fingernail broke off. These are growing out so fast I have to keep on trimming them, but it’s more security. Do you notice how the nail on the first finger of my right hand is worn so far down? When I play rhythm, or when I’m playing gentle things, it’s fingernail down, pick up. It’s not all pick. I have the pick sort of canted at a slight angle where I can get both. It’s a little bit gentler and I’m less likely to lose the pick that way. If I want to play hard, I grip the pick and start digging in. Which finger do you put the slide on?

The pinky—and the slide’s got to be long enough so that the tip of the pinky can sense the end of it. If you have it bigger than your finger, you have to use visuals to make sure you have it right. I like brass most of all. Glass is next, but it’s a distant second. It decays earlier. You have to be really scratching at it to sustain it. Any other tips for playing slide properly?

You should realize that slide is a whole other instrument. It’s not just an appendage of guitar. It’s going to be a new thing. You’re changing your tuning, and dealing with different positions. Most of all try to get a clean sound. Use your fingers to block and damp. Only use as much of the slide as necessary. If you’re playing just the B and E strings, just use that much of the slide. I like heavy brass, because that way I don’t have to press hard. You might pick up my guitar and say, “No way is that going to work for slide. The action is too low.” If you use heavy brass and let the weight of the slide do the work, you’re fine—there’s no need to press down, so you don’t get fret noise. But, there’s lots of other ways of getting great slide sounds. When I was playing with Johnny Winter, he never straightened the slide out. He always held it at an angle, which will give you an intonation problem. But that’s how he held it and it worked for him. Final thoughts?

I think a lot of people don’t realize how much of what they hear on movie and television soundtracks or commercials is slide guitar. The guys who do that music write me and say, “I learned everything I’m doing on Duck Dynasty from you!” g

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


Country and Estonian

Laur JoamEts’ UniqUe Take On Twang By M I c h a e l ross “It’s pronounced ‘lour’ [lIke hour] wIth a rolled ‘r,’” says

Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets. He would explain how to pronounce his last name, but it is hopeless. “That’s why they call me Joe,” he says. “It is easier for everybody.” Estonia is right across the Gulf of Finland from Finland, but is considered part of the Balkans rather than Scandinavia. So how did a Balkan guitarist land the coveted gig with Sturgill Simpson—the hottest alt/trad-country artist in Nashville? Part of the answer is connections: Joamets’ rock band opened for the Rival Sons in Estonia, and he started hanging out and playing with the Sons’ drummer, Mike Miley. Miley suggested the guitarist move to Nashville and recommended him to Dave Cobb, who produced both the Sons and Simpson. Trans-Atlantic files were exchanged, and Joamets soon found himself in the studio with the producer and artist. The real answer, though, is talent, as indicated by the tasty fills, blistering but melodic solos, and pedal-steel-sounding slide parts Joamets inserts into Simpson’s record, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music [High Top Mountain/Thirty Tigers Records]. Further confirmation is available on videos of the young picker tearing it up with Simpson on tour and television shows such as Conan and Letterman. Like the record’s title, the guitarist’s story is a tale of tradition with a twist. Initially intimidated by the talent in Music City, Joamets relates how he triumphed through hard work and a unique voice. how did you start on guitar?

My father is a really good guitar player—one of my main influences. He started me with some chords, Chuck Berry licks, “Smoke on the Water,” and some blues turnarounds. After that, he pointed to the record shelf and said, “Alright, you have the means to start learning this.” Every time he heard something bad coming from my room, he would open the door and say, “Do something else; that’s no good.” That’s why I call him my “taste police.” did you play country when you lived in estonia?

Not really—it was just my hobby to learn from fascinating guitarists like Danny Gatton, Albert Lee, and Brian Setzer. I stole their licks from the Hot Licks video series, but didn’t have any place to put them. The cover bands I was in played a little bit of everything, including “On the Road Again,” “That’s Alright Mama,” or “Folsom Prison Blues.” That was the only time I could use those licks. when did you pick up slide guitar?

I started by trying to emulate Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin. After that it was Roy Rogers and Ry Cooder—he’s the man. There is this guy John Mooney, and he’s a slide guitar virtuoso. I also learned a bunch of stuff from Bonnie Raitt. I saw this really cool Finnish band, Honey Bee and the

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Features L au r J oa m ets

T-Bones, and that was the first time I saw anyone use fingers behind the slide, like Sonny Landreth. Shortly after we met online, Sturgill sent me an email saying he would be interested to see what I could do with the slide. At the first rehearsals I was trying to emulate Danny Gatton’s combination of volume knob and slide. That led me to listen to steel guitar— it is impossible not to listen to steel guitar in Nashville [laughs]. I would try to emulate simple things steel players do. After touring a while, I was having a hard time with the volume knob in the regular position on the Tele. I figured out if I turned the control plate around and switched the tone and volume knob positions, it would make my life easier. Was the telecaster your guitar of choice in estonia?

I have had the Fender Telecaster I play with Sturgill for almost ten years. It’s a beat up ’74. When I got it, it was in really bad shape; the frets were out of it. My father found it

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for me and put the frets back in. When you have a relationship with an instrument for so long it becomes your main guitar, but I also like Gibson ES-335s and the Firebird— it has a bright sound but retains the Gibson fatness. But, in country music it is hard not to play a Tele. Your tele is a natural finish but I’ve seen you playing a painted one as well.

That’s one Sturgill gave me. It’s an MJT body; they finish them with really thin nitrocellulose lacquer, which makes the wood breathe more. Do you use pedals?

I have a T.C. Electronic Hall of Fame reverb; a Destination Rotation by Option 5, which is a Leslie-style pedal; a CMAT Mods phaser; and a Zvex Distortron, which I use to just to boost the signal a bit. The ZVex is a great pedal because it doesn’t cut the low end. It works well for high or low gain. What amps do you use?

I have been using Fender amps. When I

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

first got here, I was using a late ’60s silverface Champ. We used that for at least half the record. If you want a really big sound in the studio, use a really small amplifier. When we were playing somewhere in Mississippi, a sound engineer saw me using the Champ and told me about the Musicmaster Bass amp, which is also fairly small. It has 6V6 tubes and a 12" speaker. It’s 12 watts, with just volume and tone. They were meant to be practice amps for bass players. They are a well-kept secret that I am ruining here. Fender has a history of guitar players stealing bass amps [laughs]. Lately, I’ve been using an amp built by a friend of my father, Urmas Anderson. It’s called the Charmer—a two 6V6, ten-watt combo with a 12" speaker and tremolo. It is like a modified Fender tweed amp. It’s the 21st century. We have in-ear monitors, wedges, and big PA systems. You don’t need 50-watt amplifiers anymore, or even 30-watt amplifiers. The singers want to hear themselves.


Features L au r J oa m ets

You don’t need to be so loud. that is a rare thing to hear from a guitarist.

Well, Sturgill has coached me [laughs]. that was my next question: How did sturgill help you adapt from blues-rock to fairly traditional country music?

Well, first he told me to play country music [laughs]. I made myself practice to remember all the country licks I had learned years ago, and get my right-hand technique going again. By right-hand technique do you mean hybrid picking?

Exactly—Danny Gatton style. When I concentrated too much on that, he told me to listen to Merle Haggard’s guitarist Roy Nichols and just get that vintage twang— you don’t have to be all over the place all the time. One of the most important things he taught me was about the interaction between us: When he sings, I should be quiet. When he ends a phrase, I need to fill

46

the space. That was hard, because country phrasing is strange when you have a blues and rock background. Jimi Hendrix was one of my idols. I still sometimes get too “rock” and Sturgill has to say, “Dude, keep it country.” When we recorded Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, the producer, Dave Cobb, had a lot to do with how I played. If I didn’t have a motif, or got lost, he would give me something to work with. Sturgill’s sound is very dynamic, not one level all the time. Dave helped the dynamics come from the players. You can fake it with automation later, but it is not the same. Do you improvise your solos?

The bluegrass tempos were too fast for me to improvise solos over, so I started composing them. I still do, because I think solos should be like melodies. A lot of players just noodle, which might sound good for one song, but after five starts getting old. I would rather have things thought out.

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

You sound great with him, but with a town full of country guitarists, why do you think sturgill brought you over from estonia?

That’s a good question—I would love to know the answer [laughs]. When I first got to Nashville, I went from bar to bar on Broadway checking out the guitarists and was in excruciating pain. I wondered, “What the hell am I doing here?” I’m a rock and roll and blues player—and I don’t even rate myself that highly in those genres. I didn’t ask Sturgill about it during the first tour, but what I got from the experience was that I should work on my country playing. But to try to answer the question: I sent Sturgill a lot of different stuff I had done over the years and he saw I was a fast learner. I know for a fact he wanted someone who sounded a little bit different and, coming from Estonia, I have a totally different perception of the genre. I think my blues and rock and roll influences give his music a different flavor. g


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For Those About to Rock—(left to right) Brian Johnson, Stevie Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams.

&

Unbroken At the risk of sounding like some tabloid-

press doomsayer, 2014 was pretty much an “annus horribilis” for AC/DC. Legend-

ary rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young—the

band’s founder, creative backbone, and

organizer—finally succumbed to dementia

after years of subtle (and not so subtle) warning signs, and permanently retired from the group before it was scheduled to record its 15th studio album. Then, on November 6, 2014, things turned reality-show

48

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


&

Victorious

AC/DC Aren’t Just Surviving—They’re Kicking Ass! By Michael Molenda M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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Cover Story AC /D C

crazy as drummer Phil Rudd was charged with attempting to procure a murder (later dropped for lack of evidence), threatening to kill, and possession of meth and cannabis. Rudd was set to stand trial in a Tauranga, New Zealand district court on April 21, 2015, and his legal woes have definitely fractured his tenure in the band. Although Rudd completed his drum tracks on AC/DC’s latest album, Rock or Bust [Columbia], his erratic behavior during the sessions (he reportedly showed up ten days late to the studio) likely made the other members uncomfortable about his future with the group—even before his troubles with the law. But with two members down, AC/DC simply soldiered on, much like they did after the death of lead singer Bon Scott in 1980. Nephew Stevie Young was tapped to play guitar in the studio and onstage, and former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade was brought back into the fold to replace Rudd on the band’s world tour. The rest of the band—guitarist Angus Young, vocalist Brian Johnson, and bassist Cliff Williams—would certainly have been forgiven if they had cashed in their chips last year. After all, since the band’s formation in 1973, they have sold hundreds of millions of records, penned a fair share of instantly recognizable hardrock anthems, and inspired scores of rabid fans both young and old to tattoo the AC/DC logo on their bodies. Yet, retirement probably seems like a very distant reality when you’re still feisty and relevant after more than 40 years in the rock biz. AC/DC has proven they are no nostalgia act nearing the end of their commercial tether. The band’s previous album, 2008’s Black Ice—which, like Rock or Bust, was produced by Brendan O’Brien—achieved double platinum status in the United States, hit number one in 29 countries, and was nominated for Grammy, Brit, and Juno awards. When Rock or Bust was released on November 28, 2014, it went gold in America, and reached number one or the top five in more than 20 countries— all before the band started its concert

50

tour. The debut video from the album, “Play Ball,” logged more than six million YouTube/Vevo views, the follow-up, “Rock or Bust,” was seen by more than seven million eyeballs, and the third, “Rock the Blues Away,” nabbed 160,000 views less than 24 hours after its release on March 10 (as I was writing this story). And who could forget the band blowing the doors off the 2015 Grammy Awards, as many of the hipsters and stars and business people in attendance proudly wore the devil horns passed out before the performance. Now, these stats probably would be drooled over by a young pop act with a beautifully stylized “brand” and 20 hit songwriters to guide their recordings. The fact they belong to a very mature rock group that plays guitars really loud at a time when raging guitars don’t exactly flash brightly across the cultural radar is almost miraculous. Well, except that none of this is really a miracle. It’s a celebration of hard work, believing in the basic rightness of who you are, and never ever giving up. Although Stevie wasn’t giving interviews at the time, I was able to talk with Angus and Cliff in a suite at New York’s posh Peninsula Hotel on a very brisk winter afternoon.

Solving the Mystery of Angus Young’s Classic Back In Black Tone I t ’ s n o t r e A l lY A “ g u I tA r I st ’ s version” of the detective game Clue, but it could be. In our game, we have a truly obsessed tone freak, an impassioned inventor, AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young, this very magazine, and a lost guitar sound. Let’s set up the crime scene…

You’ve been making records for more than 40 years. How does the band manage to keep getting juiced up to deliver impassioned and ballsy tracks every time you pop in the studio? Young: I guess it’s the fresh ideas.

The Inv e n Tor

That’s the only thing that really ever changes in AC/DC—the new songs. Other than that, I don’t know. We just always seem to sound like us, and sounding like us happens to have an element of excitement, I guess. Cliff will tell you, the first time with worked with Brendan on Black Ice and we set up to play in the studio, he was like, “Well, these guys have not played for a while…” Williams: He just pushed Record and said, “Okay, tape is running.” Young: And he immediately turned to [engineer] Mike Fraser, and said,

an ingenious paired compressor/expander

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

In 1975, Ken Schaffer released his SchafferVega Diversity System—a wireless device for guitar that was adopted by major concert acts— including, as we will soon learn more about, AC/DC. Schaffer’s analog circuitry included (called “companding”) that boosted the system’s dynamic range to more than 100dB, as well as adding some sonic voodoo to the processed guitar sound. Stricter FCC regulations for wireless systems and Schaffer’s own restless spirit caused the end of the SVDS in 1982, after approximately 1,000 units were produced.

The rock STar When AC/DC played the Palladium in New York City in 1977, Schaffer showed up to demonstrate his device to Angus Young.


Clockwise from left: Angus and Ken Schaffer in 1977; (left to right) Fil Olivieri, Angus, and Schaffer at Warehouse Studio in 2014; the pedal version of the Schaffer Replica.

precisely cop the guitarist’s clear, punchy, and articulate tone with silky

“I never got to demo it that day

The search was over. Well, kind of…

sustain were just not good enough.

Fun For a ll

because I was doing some interviews,” says Young. “So Malcolm said, ‘I’ll try

creating those sounds.”

Th e Clue

Olivieri didn’t stop with the realization of his

this thing out for you,’ and he used it during our

Finally, Olivieri came across an old Guitar Player—

guitar-tone dream. He went further, asking

soundcheck. He walked outside and all around

the February 1984 issue to be exact—that

Schaffer for permission to recreate the SVDS

the building, and he said the signal was stronger

included the article, “Angus Young: Seriously.”

circuitry for today’s players in a non-wireless

than using a cable. Malcolm never liked gadgets,

In the interview, Young is asked specifically if he

format that could be used by guitarists like

but he told me, ‘You’re going to love this, because

used any effects during the recording of Back In

any conventional preamp, processor, or boost

there’s a little bit of a boost. This thing is cool.’”

Black, and he name checks the Schaffer wire-

pedal. Utilizing a team of engineers in Rome

When AC/DC recorded Highway to Hell with

less as the only signal processor, stating, “Mal-

and Vienna, Olivieri produced The Schaffer

producer Mutt Lange in 1979, he had only seen

colm and I use the boost to push the front end

Replica in two versions: The Schaffer Replica

the band perform live before the sessions, and

of our amps.” Olivieri’s mind is blown. Now, he

Tower looks like the original vertical Schaf-

he wondered if there was something different

simply had to find out how to get his hands on

fer-Vega 63EX ($999 direct; a Gold Tag edi-

about the guitar sound.

that wireless.

tion of 100 units signed by Ken Schaffer was

“Mutt asked, ‘Are you using anything special

released in May 2014, and is completely sold

when you play live?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve got that

SuCC eSS!

out), and The Schaffer Replica Pedal ($349

Schaffer.’ So he told me to plug it in. There was

Happily, after being contacted by Olivieri—

direct) is just what it says it is—a compact

always a bit of what Malcolm used to call ‘that

and hearing of his decades-long dedication

guitar pedal designed for popping onto your

furnace going’ noise from it—a ‘shhhhhh’ when

to recreating the Back In Black guitar sound—

pedalboard, or tossing on the floor with your

you weren’t actually playing—but Mutt loved it

Schaffer was moved to send him the last two

other stompboxes.

and said he’d kill the noise later. He said, ‘Man,

SVDS units in his possession. It was a moment

we’ve got to use that!’”

of sublime truth for Olivieri as he plugged his

The Schaffer Replica Unit #1 was delivered

Gibson SG into the SVDS and out to a Marshall,

to Angus Young by Olivieri and Schaffer while

and it was “Instant Angus.”

AC/DC was recording Rock or Bust, and it’s all

Th e To ne F r eak

“It’s Angus in a box,” says Olivieri.

Over in Rome, Italy, Filippo Olivieri was running

“Finally getting the units was a dream come

over the album’s tracks. Olivieri likes to say,

a successful classic-rock tone blog (solodallas.

true for me,” says Olivieri, “as that sound had

“Angus got his sound back.” For those won-

com) and fanatically continuing his 30-year pur-

been haunting me almost all of my life. Once

dering if Olivieri’s “fairy tale come true” is pos-

suit to nail the guitar sounds on AC/DC’s Back In

the Schaffer-Vega was connected, there—for

sible, Guitar Player now has a Replica pedal,

Black album. He purchased every piece of gear

the first time in 30 years—were those pure tones.

and we will do a comprehensive review in the

Angus was known to use, but all attempts to

Schaffer’s system was the secret ingredient in

June 2015 issue.

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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Cover Story Ac /D c

Reader Questions for

AC/DC

Before I set off to New York to interview Angus Young and Cliff Williams about Rock or Bust, I posted a request on Facebook for reader questions to put to the AC/DC crew. Here are their answers to the three questions that popped up the most in your comments.

What is your oldest surviving Ac/Dc SG? Young: It’s the one I’ve always played—before the band even started. It was the first brand-name guitar I had gotten for myself, as well. Before that, it was hand-me-downs—a beatup acoustic, and a Hofner Clubman from Malcolm, who gave it to me after another one of our brothers gave it to him. I don’t know the SG’s year. Some people have said 1969, and some people have said it’s from the 1970s.

Does what Mutt Lange did on Highway to Hell and Back In Black continue to influence what you do in the studio? Young: There’s always a bit of that. I remember Mal saying to me that Mutt was really great about spreading out the vocals across the stereo field on choruses. He said, “It was a clever

“Sh*t! It sounds like AC/DC. It’s AC/DC!”

thing.” And we still try to do that today.

So what was it like working with Brendan again on Rock or Bust? Young: I’ll tell you the great thing—he’s

After all these years, do you still have any favorite songs to perform live? Williams: It’s “Thunderstruck” for me. It has this really powerful build, and it’s just a great song.

Young: One of my favorite tracks to play is “Back In Black,” because it’s a cool riff, and people get it immediately. You hear one or two notes, and—boom—you know it’s “Back In Black.” That’s probably the song Brian hates the most, though, because he has to hit his high notes.

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a fantastic musician himself. He knows his guitar, he knows his bass, he knows his drums—he knows various instruments. It’s always good when you have somebody that competent, and who also has an ear for what is commercial. So when he suggests something, you know it’s better for the album if you listen to him seriously. He’s not somebody who says, “There’s something not right there, but I don’t know what it is.” We’ve had that, too. It’s frustrating when a producer looks at you like, “I’m stumped.” But Brendan has the musical ability to know precisely what is right or wrong about a

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

performance, and that helps us relax and just play. He has our backs. How did the songwriting unfold for the new album? I notice that you and Malcolm are credited as the songwriters on all 11 tracks. Young: Mal kept doing what he could until

he couldn’t do it anymore, but I have all the material that he was working on. There were a lot of riffs, ideas, and bits of choruses. I’d fill things in to see if we had a song. Every album we’ve ever done has been that way. There was always a bit from the past, a bit from what we had that was brand new, and, sometimes, just an old idea that either Malcolm or myself had worked on but we never finished. The songwriting process didn’t really change, except for the fact that Mal wasn’t physically there. So when it came to writing


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Cover Story Ac /D c

and putting stuff together, I had Stevie there with me. You see, Malcolm was always a great organizer. He always kept track of the stuff we were writing together. He’d record it, date it, make notes. My records—if you can call them that—are always chaotic. So, this time, Stevie helped me organize a lot of what was there. Did you, or the band, or Brendan “rate” the material at some point to determine which songs would go on the album? Young: Basically, when we felt we had

all the material that would work and we felt good about it, we scheduled studio time and gave it all to Brendan to let him be the judge. He’d say things like, “Oh yeah—that’s cooking,” or “That’s kind of iffy.” A lot of Brendan’s input and approach was, “Look, I’m going to be the AC/DC fan, and I’m going to focus that way.” So when we played him the material, he’d go, “Do I want to hear AC/DC play that?” On that note, did you guys come up with

54

anything that Brendan kind of went, “I don’t want to hear Ac/Dc do that”? Young: Oh, yeah. We definitely got that.

He might say something like, “Well, it’s a clever thing but it’s not what you are.” That happens a fair amount with us. We’ll play something, and maybe I have a classical tune or something in my head, and I get a riff going based on that idea, and I’ll think, “Um, yeah, this is something.” Sometimes, we’ll even spend a bit of time on the idea, but, in the end, it’s just not something people will hear as AC/DC. We try to be careful—even before we get to the studio. I used to do it with Malcolm, and now I do the same with Stevie: I play something and say, “Tell me if you don’t hear it as AC/DC?” How do you come up with your vocal melodies? Young: If I’ve got a hook-y [vocal] line, I

just kind of talk it through. It’s a bit rough. But Mal would always get the best out of the idea—which was good for me, because I

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

never really paid that much attention to stuff like that. But Malcolm always did. A lot of people go, “Is there any melody in AC/DC?” Well, there is. We rough it up. It’s not a neat and tidy melody, but it’s there. How did Brendan approach the vocal tracks? Young: Brendan has his own kind of

approach to getting the best out of the vocals and melodies. He was insistent that the songs be in the best keys for Brian. We worked all of that out before we even started tracking. It’s no sense going for great tracks, and then having Brian say later on, “Oh sh*t, guys— this is too hard for me to sing.” Williams: If the song is too high for Brian, then the song simply doesn’t work at all. It doesn’t matter how great the music tracks might sound if he can’t get a good vocal down. So we played things through to make sure Brian was comfortable. Brendan was quite watchful there, and we did end up changing a few keys.


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Cover Story Ac /D c

cliff, as an Ac/Dc song has to have such a strong groove, how do you develop your bass parts? Williams: I just listen to the song, and

or the front.

I play with the other players. I don’t really know how to explain it any other way. There are no tricks. If it doesn’t feel right, I’ll know it. It comes from playing with the guys for a long time. You develop that sense of who you are in the band, and what you need to do. Basically, I just try to put the bass in the right spot.

bit of direction on “Rock & Roll Thunder.” Young: That’s a song that we pretty much put together in the studio. Williams: I had some ideas for the bass line, and Brendan kind of plucked them out himself and edited things. Then, he’d play something to me and say, “Try this and see if it works.” He wanted a certain movement to the bass on that track. Young: He wanted space. He liked the space, and playing in-between the beats. He didn’t want a straight pumping bass line. When he heard my demo of the song, he said, “I dig this and I dig this and I dig this.” And the stuff he didn’t dig kind of went away or was changed. When we got to the bass track, he seemed to know exactly what bits he wanted to hear.

Do you tend to listen to a particular part of the drum kit, or does it depend on the song? Williams: I tend to play with the kick,

but I listen to the snare and hi-hat, as well. Young: You know, what Cliff adds is drive, and you either have that, or you don’t. It’s the same with drummers. Sometimes, what’s missing is that little bit of excitement. But Cliff really knows how to give the groove a lift—whether he’s on the back of the beat,

56

cliff, did Brendan throw any new ideas into your pocket for the album? Williams: Not a lot, but he gave me a fair

Were there any adjustments necessary

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

during the sessions, now that Stevie Young has taken Malcolm’s place in the band? Young: Stevie grew up listening to his play-

ing, so he’s kind of like a younger version of Malcolm. Mal was distinct with his rhythm playing, and Stevie is the same—he plays that hard, solid rhythm. For me, I didn’t have to adapt. I concentrated on what I was doing, because I knew what I was hearing, and those parts were covered. Well, unless I looked around. Then, I went, “Oh, that’s not Mal.” Williams: Actually, Stevie is also very similar to Malcolm in personality, and that spilled into his playing. So that side of it was no different. He’s solid as Malcolm, and he was a very good fit. As a band, how do you evaluate your studio performances to know if a track is really working? Young: You put the track down, and

the proof is in the pudding when you go into the control room and listen. You can’t really hear the whole balance when


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Cover Story Ac /D c

you’re out there recording on headphones. Sometimes, I get in the control room and I go, “Oh, I can finally hear the drums in a proper mix.” Part of the problem is that I’ve never come across the perfect headphones, or even the perfect headphone mix. It’s like, “Hey, I don’t know what I’m hearing in here, but it ain’t what I want it to be.” I remember going back to Back In Black, we used to drive Mutt Lange a little crazy. We’d say, “Hey Mutt, what’s going on in these cans?” And he’d storm in and go, “Let me have a listen. Sh*t! Well, just do the best you can.” [Laughs.] Williams: You take that direction from your producer a lot—although none of us would accept anything that didn’t pass muster. Young: But even when we left the studio— even after the mixing session—the record wasn’t done. When we had the final mixes, Brendan said, “Don’t listen to them now. Listen to it fresh after a week or so, and if you

“If you can buy it, it’s too common.” - Angus Young on effects hear anything you’re not happy with, note it down, and we can always redo it. Nothing is written in stone until we’re all happy and we’re all in a good spot.” Williams: He said that to everyone. So did you end up giving Brendan a 17-page treatise on all the things you wanted to fix?

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Young: No, no, no. It was just things like having Cliff go out and do a bit of a backing vocal that we thought would improve a track, and then that would spark something in my head, and I’d say to Brendan, “I’ve got another idea that might also be good for that track.” And he would go, “Let me hear what you’ve got. We’ll try it and see if it works.”


PORTRAITS

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brings in the organic Class A-style distortion, but with a tighter, snappier response. It is designed to articulate every nuance of Richie’s dizzying playing style for all modes and moods, from clean to aggressive and from rhythmic chords to infinite sustain when it’s solo time.

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Cover Story Ac/ D c

Are there any gear surprises on Rock or Bust? Williams: No. I used my same stuff—the

Ampeg SVT-4 Pro, an Avalon direct box, and my old Music Man bass. It’s always pretty simple for me, and there’s a lot of warmth in those things. I don’t know if I ended up with mostly amp, or mostly direct, or a blend of

both on the tracks. You’d have to ask [Rock or Bust recording engineer] Mike Fraser, as that’s his side of it. He gets a good sound. Young: I brought my fingers. Awesome tone in those digits, then... Young: Pretty much [laughs]. Actually, I

used the same old Marshalls. A few spares. Maybe we tried some other amps. I can’t

Brendan O’Brien on Producing Rock or Bust Super proDucer BrenDAn o’Brien

were doing the

is so talented that it’s almost unfair to the rest of

right thing. It’s

us mortals. In addition to being a brilliant record-

their record, of

ing fanatic who can operate pretty much every

course, but it

piece of gear in the studio, he’s a multi-instru-

wasn’t very difficult to push them in that direc-

mentalist who often plays as well or better than

tion. They know what they sound like, and they

the musicians he is producing. (He’d never say

know what’s good.

so himself, of course, but enough of the players

Angus would bring in demos, and he was very

he has worked with will admit it for him.) His

open to changing the arrangements to make

commercial acumen has been dead on, as he

them better. He expected me to do that. I think

has produced 14 number-one albums to date.

they’ve always worked that way with produc-

All of this creative firepower certainly worked

ers. If they weren’t open to suggestions, then

for AC/DC in 2008, when O’Brien helmed their

that would have made the job harder, and we’d

tremendously successful Black Ice album with

be locked in to a certain thing. But they’re very

engineer Mike Fraser. Small wonder that the duo

smart about that stuff. With them, it was, “Here

was back for Rock or Bust when the band began

are our songs, here are our ideas—do your thing.”

recording at Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, Canada, from May to July 2014. Wouldn’t you bet on these guys again? Here, O’Brien gives us a view into his production process during the Rock or Bust sessions.

Given that they’re such a great concert act, did the band track live in the studio? With most of the bands I work with, we track everything live, because otherwise I can’t tell what we have. I have to be able to hear the whole thing through the studio monitors, and say, “That’s

60

What was the basic production concept for

everything doing its job properly.” Now, we may

the album?

keep one or two things, or we may keep a lot of

Every record is different and every artist is

it. I also edit between takes and things like that.

different. I try not to have a plan until I’m in the

But I want all the parts worked out and in the

studio with the band, and I can see where it’s all

arrangement while the band is tracking. In this

going, and what needs to be done. Then, I can

case, playing live is what AC/DC does best. It’s

come up with a plan—not before.

what they are, and they’re used to recording that

With AC/DC, I’m a big fan, and I like certain

way, so why try to break the mold? I don’t even

records of theirs a lot, so I wanted to make sure

know how you’d record AC/DC by doing it piece

that if I listened to it, would I enjoy it? Would it

by piece, and overdub by overdub.

satisfy everything that someone who loved AC/DC

Both Angus and cliff said that, as you can

would like? I do know that if you kind of hit those

play so many instruments, you’d sometimes

marks, you are going to satisfy a lot of people,

show them a part you wanted them to try.

and that’s a big part of making a record. So if I

Generally, I would say, “Hey, let me see the

was happy with it from that perspective, I felt we

guitar real quick, and let me show you this thing

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


remember. I played my Gibson SGs, because they’re the animals I know best. So, still no effects? Young: No. The only thing is Brendan

might mess around with the EQ on the board while I’m playing something. I’ve tried different things over the years—going direct into the board, or putting a speaker in the

toilet, and such—but no pedalboards or anything like that. I’ve always thought that if you work at it a bit, you can make your own little wah-wah sound or whatever. I’ll fiddle and faddle around. If somebody says, “Try to get a gun sound on your guitar,” I’ll figure out a way of playing it. I think if you can buy it, it’s too common. g

I have in mind. And then, you make it your own.”

producer] Arif Mardin, where he talked about how

Musicians usually like it very much if you can be

he makes a record. He said, “Well, first we get the

direct with them. If you have to describe some-

right tempo and the right key for the singer.” And

thing without being able to either play it or be

I went, “Ah sh*t—really? God, that makes sense!”

specific about it, it can become frustrating for

Until then, if an artist was struggling with some-

everyone. I think I communicate best with musi-

thing, I’d assume he or she just couldn’t sing. But

cians and singers on a musical level. That’s

maybe it was in the wrong key for them. Eureka!

where my strength is. People generally appre-

So then I knew [laughs].

ciate it when I play things for them, rather than get weird about it.

Typically, guitar players write a song in a particular key because it’s easy to play in that key, or

You worked with Malcolm on Black Ice, and

the riff comes up that way. You know, it’s G or A.

his nephew Stevie on this album. Were there

But, sometimes, it should be in G# or F#, or down

any challenges to having such a critical per-

a whole-step to help the singer. AC/DC were very

sonnel shift in the guitar playing?

open to all of that, and a fair amount of the songs

For the most part, Stevie had a good instinct

we did in different keys than the demos—mainly

of what to do, and, in general, he kind of plays

because we looked for Brian’s sweet spot, and

like Malcolm. I think there were times when he

went from there. Believe me, it’s no fun for any-

had to find his stride. It just took a minute or so

body if you try to force a singer to work in a key

to get him confident in it and feeling good about

they can’t manage.

it. Once he got to that spot, he kind of cruised

Both Angus and Cliff also mentioned that

along. He definitely assumed the role. There’s

even when the so-called final mixes were com-

already a template there for what’s supposed to

pleted, you left it open for them to change any-

happen sonically and rhythmically. For me, after

thing they didn’t like.

hearing their other records, I was aware there’s a

We left Vancouver with a pretty well-devel-

very distinctive left speaker/right speaker thing

oped, finished, and great record, but after we were

going on with the guitars. We had to make sure

done, Angus wanted to change a few things. We

we had that, and if it wasn’t working, we had to

probably worked on three or four of the songs

go back and make it work. Sometimes, that took

again—changing arrangements to make them

a little more time than others.

better, and recording a few more parts.

How did you feel about The Schaffer Replica making the scene?

I like to give artists an opportunity to revisit things, because I tend to work very quickly. Now,

I showed up one day and it was there. It

there’s a difference between working quickly and

seemed like a pretty nice little boost, and we

being rushed. Working quickly creates momen-

used it from time to time—especially on solos. It

tum and gets everybody focused. You work a lot

sounded good and Angus liked it, and the com-

of long hours, and you haul ass. But what hap-

bination of that was a good thing.

pens is, you go through this whirlwind, and then

One of the other things Angus mentioned

you’re done. And the artist might say, “Gosh.

was that you really worked diligently to ensure

Wow. That was fast. Did we get everything?” So

the songs were in the most comfortable keys

being able to take a breath, sit with the record

for Brian to sing.

for a while, and assess what you like and don’t

It’s funny, man. When I started making records,

like is kind of critical. I learned early on that if

I didn’t know about tempo and key. Years ago, I

the artist is not happy with their record, no one

read an interview with [legendary Atlantic Records

is served by that.

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

61


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cov e r sto ry

Finding a successor has to be a b i g hurdl e For

anyone who has built a hugely respected company, and as Taylor Guitars reached its 35th anniversary several years ago, Bob Taylor faced precisely that dilemma when thinking about someone who could take the reins and create inspiring instruments for decades to come. Bob called it his “dear god” letter, in which he wrote out a list of qualities such a person would have. As Taylor recounts, it went something like this: “I need a guitar maker who’s a better builder than I am, a pro player, is self taught, has 20 years of experience, is in his 30s, and can make a lifetime commitment.” A wishful list for sure, and one that Bob says he put away for a year or so until a chain of events led him to spending an afternoon with an extraordinarily talented builder and guitarist in the San Diego area named Andy Powers. Coincidentally, it wasn’t the first time the two had met. Years earlier, at an acoustic concert in San Diego, a then 15-year-old Powers showed Taylor a ukulele he had built. Impressed by its quality, Taylor told Powers to look him up if he ever needed a job. That didn’t happen, but approximately 20 years later Andy was playing at the NAMM Show with Jason Mraz when he had the opportunity to reintroduce himself to Bob and recount the story of their previous meeting. A few months later, Bob says he was at a stoplight when he started thinking about his “dear god” letter and began checking off the list of qualities that Andy met. He decided to give him a call, and, as if by divine intervention, Powers truly did answer Bob’s dream list to a tee—his middle name is even Taylor for god’s sake! Some meetings ensued, and following a two-week long “classical guitar building camp,” where Taylor, Powers, and luthier Pepe Romero Jr. got together to build some nylon-string instruments, Bob had a heart-to-heart talk with Andy and asked him if he could make a lifetime commitment to building guitars—adding that he always wants Taylor to be a company driven by building and craftsmanship, not decisions made in a boardroom. Andy agreed, and in 2011 he signed on to head-up guitar design for the El Cajon-based company. To date, Powers’ list of accomplishments for Taylor include creating the Grand Orchestra model, redesigning the 800 and 600 Series (we reviewed the new 614ce in the March 2015 issue), and bringing numerous appointments and upgrades to other models in the line. As far as what the future holds,

64

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

“i need a guitar maker who’s a better builder than i am, a pro player, is self taught, has 20 years of experience, is in his 30s, and can make a lifetime commitment.” —Bob Taylor

Heir to tHe tHrone

Andy Powers Guides the Future oF Guitar desiGn at taylor by a rt t h om pso n


Bob Taylor (left) and Powers.

Powers brings a combination of building skills and musical prowess to the table that is nothing short of mindbending. His influence on evolution of Taylor guitars is bound to have a far reaching effect for decades to come on the company and the players who adore its guitars. How did you get your start in music? My parents were both huge music fans. My dad played mandolin, Dobro, and some guitar, and my mom was mostly piano and guitar. They decided early on that they wanted to live by the beach and let music and surfing be a big part of their lifestyle, and so I grew up in this household where there were instruments around and a ton of music. My dad’s a carpenter and his friends were carpenters, surfers, fishermen, and musicians—everybody played something to some degree. So, from the time I can remember, I figured this is what everyone does. I got into guitars mainly because I liked how they looked, but I actually started on piano first. I took lessons from this wonderful teacher, and she did a really fine job of making music approachable for me. More and more, though, I got into playing guitar because I had an affinity for it. We had a little small-bodied Gibson acoustic that I played for a while, and then my parents found me a Stratocaster in the local classifieds. I was super into the Ventures at the time. One of the first things I learned on guitar was “Walk Don’t Run.”

Did building guitars come early for you too? I was always around woodworking tools and scraps of wood that my dad would bring home from his jobs. One day he brought home a piece of wood that I thought was big enough to make a guitar out of, and that was my first attempt. It was the right shape mostly, but I had no idea what I was doing, and even had to beg a local guitar shop to give me six mismatched tuning keys. I put set of strings on it and watched it blow up as I tried to tune it up to pitch. I was maybe eight years old at the time and having it blow up was probably as much fun as if it had actually worked. But from then I was hooked, and soon as I found another piece of wood I tried it again. That one blew up too. Those experiments taught you about bracing I assume? Yeah, after the first one I took the Gibson off the wall and started looking inside, and saw all these sticks that I figured must be there to make it stronger. But on my second attempt, I put them just about everywhere they shouldn’t have gone. You met Bob Taylor when you were a teen. How did that happen? I was building ukes as well as guitars, and while they weren’t amazing instruments, they were working pretty good because I’d figured out a lot of mechanics, as far as how to make a top or a back or a neck, how to put frets in, and how to do binding and finishes. I was about 15 when

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

65


A ndy Powers

Bob and I ended up sitting next to each other at a Harvey Reid concert. I had this uke with me that I had brought to show Harvey, and so Bob ended up seeing it and goes, “Wow, you’re 15 years old and you built this, huh? If you ever need a job come look me up.” The point is I’d gotten pretty good at building by that time, but I’d also gotten into repairing and restoring instruments, and that’s really when my guitars and ukes started getting better. I was getting jobs from professional musicians as well as from some of the local guitar shops who didn’t have much woodworking capability, or even any interest in doing repairs. So I started working on all kind of guitars that would come my way. I’d fix them, and it was a huge education for me because I got to see everything from the inside out. It started from

66

simple things like setting guitars up and fixing bad fret jobs to people bringing in pre-war Martins that were in paper bags because they were completely broken. So by taking that experience and applying it to the new guitars I was building, my stuff started to get a lot better. Did that experience lead you to making archtops and other more advanced instruments? Yeah, because as guitar player I couldn’t ever seem to have enough guitars. I guess I had musical ADD, because I got into so many different styles of music and so many different types of guitars, and I never really focused on any one of them exclusively. I got deep into Django Reinhardt and started loving the Selmer/ Maccaferri style guitars, and at the same time I was into Wes Montgomery, Charlie

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Christian, Tal Farlow, and all these monster jazz players. I would look at pictures of archtops, and I got into building them and working on the old ones that came in to be repaired. Bob Benedetto is a magnificent archtop builder, and he wrote a book on archtop guitar making that I thought was so cool. I learned a lot out of that, and I tried building some guitars just like the styles he would build. So I took that as a sort of starting point, and then developed more of my own tastes in archtops. To this day the archtop is still my favorite type of guitar to build. Did the styles of music you were playing at the time help you to evolve as a builder? Yes, and that happened with all sorts of instruments. I got into mandolin building because I like bluegrass music, and I got into Telecasters because I was listening to groups like the Hellecasters and really trying to absorb as much of that as I could. So all of these different styles of music and influences were kind of cross-pollinating each other. In fact, I can’t really separate the guitar building because it was always tied to the music and instruments I was playing. I’d go to a gig and I’d be looking at the guitar I was holding and thinking about how I might adjust the action or do this or that. So it was sort of a continuous feedback loop of being immersed in instruments of all kinds, doing shows and playing on records, and building all these different instruments. Was there a point when you were considering playing music for a living? At a certain point I realized that I had three big loves in my life: building guitars, playing music, and surfing. I knew if I turned into a touring musician most of my time would be away from my workshop and away from the ocean. But if I built guitars, I could do the two things I love and still play music. So that’s the option I chose. There were times when most of my income came from music—I did scoring for some video games, I did shows, and I played on records and things like that—but all the while I couldn’t quit building guitars. How did you get into studio work? There were a couple of recording studios in San Diego, and I’d get to know


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A ndy Powers

Taylor’s 800 series acoustics have also been redesigned by Powers.

someone or they’d hear me play, and they’d say, “Hey, we’re going to make a record and you should come and play on it.” When I was younger, though, I was really fortunate to fall in with John Jorgenson. He was playing at a local club that I wasn’t old enough to go to, but I knew he was doing an on-air interview, so I just went down to the radio station and introduced myself. John was immensely kind to me. After I got to know him, he took me around to see how things worked in studios. He was living in L.A. at the time, and he’d call my parents and ask them to bring me there so I could hang out in the control room and watch him lay down parts, see how the musicians interacted, and learn how they would go about making a record. So when it came time to have opportunities to record with people, I already had a working knowledge of how to make a record. I could go into a studio and bring a couple of guitars, a mandolin, a Dobro, or whatever, and sit down and say, “Okay, what are we playing today?” And I could contribute some good notes to those parts. So I have done quite a bit of session work. It was one of those fun facets to put into my musical experience. But again, I

68

couldn’t separate it from the building process. For example, I got into hand-rubbed finishes because I noticed that in the studio a shiny guitar would have a tendency to squeak in my hands or where my right arm touched it. So the next handful of guitars I built had a finish that wasn’t as shiny, and that would help me record a cleaner part. How much does your ability to focus on small details like that inform the way you design and build? I’ve always relied on my ability to hear things, both as a player and a builder, and it makes me wonder how some folks who build incredible instruments—but aren’t necessarily musicians—can make guitars without listening as they go? When I play a finished guitar I know instantly what is doing what, because I can listen to it as a player and a builder. It’s like a musician who has perfect pitch can listen to a note and know exactly what it is, but the musician who really has the advantage is the one who can listen that way, but also has a good sense of relative pitch, because then they can hear the relationships between notes. How did you first approach the design processes at Taylor in order to advance

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

some of their models? My interactions with Taylor guitars started when I was doing repairs and restoration, because a lot of players had them. I was working for a lot of touring musicians and session guys, as well as the local guitar shops, so I saw many Taylors come in that were built during different eras. When Bob and I decided to work together, I set up shop at the factory and went about learning more intimately what Taylor guitars were about. Bob and I also spent quite a bit of time playing together, and I’d listen to way he approaches a guitar and watch the way he played it and think, “Okay that makes sense as to why this guitar would be made this way.” Once I had that level of understanding, I’d think about it as a player—like what am I hoping to get out of this guitar that is a bit more than what I’m getting right now?” Whether it’s sustain or balance or volume, I would start with areas like that and go, “Okay, I’m going to alter this bracing pattern, or I’m going to change the thickness of the neck or whatever component needs to be changed in order to get more out of that guitar and shape it into something I wanted.


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A ndy Powers

Can you talk about a specific model that benefitted from that approach? Bob had been building a pretty traditional jumbo guitar since his beginnings as guitar maker, and we decided that while it’s a neat guitar, if I were to reimagine an instrument this size, what kind of guitar would I make? So we drew some different lines and came up with the Grand Orchestra model, which has a personality that’s distinctly Taylor, yet in a more modern and useable context. I see a lot of fingerstyle players gravitating toward bigger guitars because they want that power, but a lot of them are too bulky to have the touch sensitivity that fingerstylists need. So I designed the Grand Orchestra from the ground up, drawing a new shape and giving it a bracing pattern that would work well for a lot of different styles. Taylors have long been known for having necks that are very accommodating to electric players. Is that element essential to maintain? You know, I don’t care what a guitar sounds like if I can’t play it. Much of Bob’s guitar-building energy has been put into making a neck that plays good, and that meant a slimmer prolife to fit the playing styles of the time. If you look at a lot of early electric guitars, they’ve had necks that were very much like their acoustic counterparts. Real deep, thick profiles, and lots of times they were V shaped—which is a hangover from the mandolin tradition. But as players’ styles became more fluid and pyrotechnic, you saw more electric-guitar influence starting to happen with acoustics because people wanted them to play like a Strat or a Les Paul. I can appreciate a big, thick neck, but the reality is that, as a player, I’m most comfortable on something that is fairly slim. In fact, most of my guitar making decisions can be brought down to a pretty simple process: I ask, “What makes the best music?” The instrument itself might sound best if the action is really high and it has big strings. However, the musician’s ability to play that guitar is going to be hugely hampered, and the music won’t sound as good. The flipside would be a musician who has amazing dexterity on a guitar with tiny strings and super low action, but the instrument doesn’t sound all that great. Again, the music suffers. So there’s a perfect harmony

70

that you’re looking for where an instrument plays well, the neck is comfortably shaped, and the guitar has a voice that enables the musician to do what they want to do. That’s where the magic happens. You’ve played a lot over the years with Jason Mraz and you’ve also built guitars for him. How did that association come about? I met him initially through some mutual friends at a coffee shop in San Diego called Java Joe’s. Jason had seen some instruments I had built for other folks, so we started spending some time together talking about guitars and ukes, and he also expressed an interest in learning how to surf. He was living in Oceanside [California] and my workshop wasn’t far from his place, so being an avid surfer, I said, “Sure, I’ll take you surfing.” And so we started to go surfing together and it became a real enjoyable friendship. I also built some instruments for him and we started playing more music together. He’d be out touring the world, and when he came back to town he’d play different kinds of shows to contribute to the musical community. We still play together at those events, which can range from a coffee house to a big theater. We even put together a cover band to play at my younger sister’s wedding! On his latest album Yes! I was fortunate to be able to contribute some parts on all sorts of different instruments—acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, and pedal-steel. That record was a long time coming, and I was really thrilled to be part of it. What are Jason’s go-to guitars now? Most of what he takes on tour are Taylor branded instruments that I have built. I get to use him as one of my road testers, so I’ll have something I’ve been playing for a little while and I’ll give it to him to live with for a couple of months. The guitars in his quiver have a tendency to change every couple of months based on what I’ve come up with. He also has a pretty traditional guitar made by a small company in Virginia called Rockbridge that’s a neat instrument, and I built a solidbody electric for him, which is loosely based around a ’65 Fender Jaguar that he owns. It’s a really cool guitar in a custom color, and he was using it on tour. He’d bring it back to me every couple of months to fix up, and one day I said, “You should leave this one in your studio; it’s got

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

some years on it, and it’s getting a lot more years on it really quick going on tour.” So I built him something with a little longer scale length and some different things. I recall you saying once that Elvis Costello had one of your pre-Taylor instruments. Yes, when I was 18 or 19 I took a uke I had built with me to a festival in Hawaii, and I left it there at a shop that sold high-end ukes. A couple of months later, I was looking through Rolling Stone and there was a story on Elvis Costello, who had just made a record called The Delivery Man, and he’s holding that uke I had built. I heard the tune he’d recorded with Emmylou Harris, and I remember thinking, “I built and played that uke, but I don’t remember it ever sounding like that.” He really pulled some cool stuff out of that instrument. When you set about reinventing the 600 series guitars to be made out of maple, what sort of challenge did that present? It can be a challenge, but in my case I have a background of building instruments out of those woods in the archtops, mandolins, and other things I’ve made. Speaking to the new 600s, Bob had built guitars with curly maple for quite some time, and like most builders, he would take the design he came up with and just change the back and sides to maple. But woods all have their own personalities, so what I tried to do is accommodate the personality of maple, and then see if I could shape it to fit what I wanted to achieve. In certain scenarios maple might dictate a really bright sounding stage guitar, but in the case of the 600s I wanted a more broadly gratifying kind of playing experience for a wider range of players. So what that translates to is a guitar that’s a little warmer sounding, has longer sustain, and is more rich and enveloping. Has the transition from running a oneman shop to directing guitar design for Taylor been an easy adjustment for you? You know, I love building guitars and playing music, and those two things are all I’ve ever really done. So I’m in a privileged environment here where I get to continue doing what makes me come alive. It’s so remarkable to have been able to partner up with Bob and be looking forward to the next 40 years. Building great guitars and putting them in the hands of musicians is what I want to do, and I’m loving every minute of it. g


a rt i st

Welcome Bach

Michael Nicolella iNterprets the Master’s cello suites By M att Bl ac k e tt Michael Nicolella isN’t just a

world-class classical guitarist who is constantly pushing the boundaries of what the instrument is capable of as a performer. He is also a composer, who has had his works performed by symphonies, with him accompanying on classical as well as electric guitar. He is an instructor at Cornish College of Arts, shepherding the next generation of classical players. Not only that, he was in the Mike Varney Spotlight in the February 1987 issue of GP, and is a rock dude who saw Queen on the News of the World tour and can talk Van Halen with the same authority as he can Segovia. He is that guy. Nicolella’s latest undertaking, Complete Bach Cello Suites [Gale], is a twoplus hour opus of his arrangements and interpretations of the work of a guy named Johann from the Baroque period. It is an astounding collection of beautiful melodies and counterpoint, all expertly rendered

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by Nicolella. The deep love and respect for Bach’s genius is apparent throughout, never overshadowed by Nicolella’s incredible technique, which combines a deft touch, gorgeous tone, and such amazing independence of parts that it has tricked some writers [Ed. Note: me] into believing that at times there were two guitarists playing. Although Nicolella’s chops and fearlessness have led some to call him the future of classical guitar, he spoke to GP about the past and present of the instrument from his home in Seattle. In a nutshell, why did you want to do this?

First and foremost because I just love playing Bach. I’ve always viewed the cello suites as one really large, epic, two-hour piece. The fifth cello suite exists as a version for lute, and I played that as a teenager in the key that most everybody plays it in, which is A minor. The piece was originally written in C minor for cello and then

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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M ich ael Nico lel la

Bach arranged it in G minor for the lute. Guitarists usually play everything either in A, E, or D. I went back and tried playing it in G minor and that sparked this idea to do all the cello suites with a “What would Bach do?” kind of mentality. So, what would Bach do?

Changing the keys in the same way is what Bach would do, so I raised everything up a fifth as he did with Suite No. 5, with the exception of the sixth suite. When it came to the question of how much to add to the pieces, I used what he did with the fifth suite as a template: what bass notes to add, how to complement the harmonies, and how to realize the implied counterpoint that’s there and turn it into a piece that was more fitting for the guitar. That even extended to the idea of ornamenting—doing these little improvisational ornaments on the repeats, which is very fitting to Bach’s time. Talk about the reasoning behind the key choices and your tunings.

Some people actually do them in the same exact key as the cello, and you can, but then you have the problem of if you

74

play it as the same pitch as the cello, you’re unable to add bass lines below that because you’re close to the bottom pitches of the guitar. If you bring them up an octave, then everything’s up in the stratosphere and it sounds kind of plinky. So by bringing it up a fifth you get it into a register where the melody can sit for the most part on the top three strings of the guitar and you have the bottom three strings to work with bass lines. I started with No. 5 in G minor. Most guitarists do it in A minor because of the open A and E strings. I circumvented that by dropping the two low strings down a whole-step to G and D. The third suite is in G major and has the same tuning as the fifth. The sixth and the first are both in droppedD. The second one is in A minor, so that works in standard tuning. The third and the fifth have the two bottom strings dropped down a whole-step. The fourth one is in Bb, so the A is tuned up to Bb and the E is tuned up to F. Did you chart everything out for this?

Yes, I did. Other guitarists have done this in the past, so in some cases I cheated

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

a bit and found a version that was in the key that I wanted to play it in, and then basically just whited out the stuff that wasn’t the original cello and started from scratch from there. For the other ones I actually painstakingly typed them into Finale from the get-go. That seems like an amazing undertaking. Do you have any idea how many pages of music this was?

No, I don’t, but it’s a lot. It’s two hours and ten minutes of music. Were you reading charts for the recording?

For the most part no. I memorized and played them in concert from memory. This was a long project. Some of these I recorded in the same sessions for my last album. My general process was I would make an arrangement of a suite, I’d learn it, and then I’d play it for about six months in concert while I was starting on the next one. I didn’t memorize the second suite, because that one was an experiment in trying to actually improvise the ornaments live in concert. For most of these, while there’s some improvisation involved, I would kind of improvise in the


M ich ael Nico lel la practice room and then I would decide that I liked an ornament. I might tweak it a little bit in concert here or there, but basically I was working within a framework. For the second suite, I experimented with playing it in concert actually trying to completely improvise the ornaments. For that, it’s really helpful to have the music in front of you and not try to improvise while you’re playing from memory. The other one that I played from a chart was the fourth suite, and I’ve never actually played that in concert, although I’ve played it for friends and colleagues. The reason for that was the tuning really kind of threw me off. That’s the one in Bb, so the A and the E strings were tuned up a halfstep. I find that really difficult because it’s not a tuning I ever use and it messes with my head in terms of memory because the pitches aren’t where you think they are. Dropped-D I’m used to. Even droppedG-and-D—I’ve done enough stuff in those

tunings that I’m kind of used to them. But having everything up a half-step on the bottom two strings was kind of tough. So I read the piece, and even then it’s difficult because you have to remember as you’re reading it that those pitches are up a halfstep. But I still found I was more successful doing that than trying to do it from memory. So those are the only two that in the studio—actually it’s a church that I record in—I read sheet music for. How did the recordings go? How many takes would you do on these?

My general process for recording is I do three takes. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes do more, but I keep three. I try not to keep more than three because when I go to edit, it just becomes a nightmare of having to listen through everything. Then I’ll edit when necessary. By editing, are you comping tracks? I’m assuming there are no punches on this.

No, there are no punches at all. I record

complete performances and then I edit in Pro Tools. For a while I had some guilt issues about editing, but I think pretty much any classical musician edits quite a bit, so now I don’t worry about it. I look at like this: When I’m playing in a concert it’s like a play, and when I’m in the studio it’s like a movie. And just like with a movie, you don’t care how many takes it requires to get it right or how many cuts and edits you have to do. Sometimes I’ll listen back, though, and decide that none of the takes are really good enough, and then I’ll go back in and record it again. Is there a reason you decided to play the same guitar on all of these suites?

The main reason was that when I started this recording, I had one concert guitar: a cedar top Robert Ruck. And because I was thinking of this as one big piece, I wanted as similar a sound as possible, so I didn’t change the mic placement, the room, or the guitar. I also really like the way that

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5 9/10/13 3:04 PM


particular guitar records. Since then I have been performing in concert with guitars made by a talented young builder named Tim Harris. I string all these guitars with RC Titanium Carbon strings. RC is a Spanish company that specializes in classical and flamenco guitar strings. How did you mic it?

With two large condenser mics—Audio Technica 4033s—in an equilateral triangle. They were about six feet apart and six feet away from the guitar. You get so many different timbres from the same guitar, same mic placement, and same room. I’m struck by how noticeably the tonality changes when you go from the first to the second suite. You’re going from a bright major key to a darker minor key, but there’s a lot more contributing to that mood shift. How do you go from a bright and lively vibe to a dark and melancholy vibe, in terms of where you pick on the string and how you attack it?

That’s one of the great things of classical guitar. As an electric guitarist, everyone knows the equipment is only so much. The tone is in your hands. With classical guitar, I think that’s even more exaggerated. Obviously where you pluck the string matters. Just like with the pickups on a Strat, the closer you get to the bridge, the brighter the sound; the closer you get to the fingerboard, the warmer the sound. But I find more and more that I’m relying on the angle of the attack of the nail against the string to change the tone. It’s amazing how much coming straight across the string will get a brighter sound and then going more obliquely—kind of slicing the string at an angle—will give a warmer sound. Then on top of that you have how much you’re pushing the string towards the face of the guitar or how much you’re pulling it away from the top of the guitar. I always say to my students that a good sound has to do with activating the string towards the face of the guitar. But sometimes you almost go for a “bad” sound by plucking up on the strings to get a brighter tone. Coupling that with the angle of the attack and placement of where along the string you are, you have a limitless supply of tones that you can get. In classes I do this fun thing where I can make it almost sound like a flanger

by the way that I’m changing the angle of the attack of my nails. When you’re working these up, how do you practice? Do you slow them down? Do you play along with recordings?

I never play along with a recording. In fact, I try not to listen to recordings at all when I’m practicing because I don’t want it to influence what I’m doing from an interpretive or arrangement standpoint. I try to use as many different strategies as possible. Slow playing is one of them. I also break them up into little phrases and practice backwards. I practice the last phrase and then the second to last phrase into the last phrase, third to last phrase, and so on—all from memory. It’s a good way to secure the memory. I go through the pieces in my head, trying to visualize what they look like on the fingerboard and how I’ll play them. Another thing I’ll do is go through a piece and play everything with the left hand, but with my right hand I’ll just play the bass line or just the top line. I’m trying to develop this incredible independence between the two voices, like it’s a conversation between two people, or the old cliché of “It sounds like two guitarists at once.” It’s one thing to just play the bass line by itself, but when your left hand is having to play another line at the time, you tend to kind of fudge things in the bass. This way, I can listen and hear if that bass line really has the clarity and the shape that I want. Is each note speaking the way I want it to from one to another? Is it nerve-wracking to tackle a project of this size and to interpret a composer of Bach’s stature?

Sure. In some ways you feel this kind of responsibility to Bach in a way. It’s amazing how much time I’ve spent playing Bach’s music. Sometimes I have to laugh to myself when I think that he probably knocked out one of these suites in an afternoon and I’ve worked on some of these things off and on for over 30 years. There’s so much depth emotionally and you feel this sense of responsibility. But what tempers it for me is this feeling of thankfulness and luck that we have this incredible music. That offsets the responsibility in some ways, that sense of gratitude. I just feel so fortunate to be able to play his music on guitar. g M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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Review

Veillette Gryphon AVAnte 12 tested by Art thompson T h e y e a R n i n g T o c R e aT e m o R e

chiming textures has traditionally led many guitarists straight to the mandolin. But the obvious hurdle to making the transition from guitar to mando is that fact that the latter is tuned in fifths (like a violin) instead of (mostly) fourths, like a guitar. It’s a whole new thing, and when you throw in the mandolin’s four courses (8 strings), narrow neck, and tight fret spacing, the transition gets even tougher. Some years back, Joe Veillette introduced an acoustic-electric instrument called the Gryphon that was designed to deliver some of that mando-style magic, but in a form that would be way easier for guitar players to grok. A compact

78

12-string with a wide neck and an 18.5” scale fretboard, the Gryphon was tuned like a guitar, but with the outside pairs pitched D to D. It totally did the hightuned sonic trick, while feeling very familiar to the fingers, and the only downside was its $4,000-plus price tag—a show stopper for a lot of players. Fast forward to 2015, and the Gryphon Avante hits the scene to change all that. Built in Korea to Veillette’s exacting standards, the Avante features solid mahogany back and sides and a solid spruce top. The 18.5"-scale mahogany bolt-on neck plays well thanks to its generous width and expert setup. And with a zero fret assisting the intonation, the Avante sounds tuneful throughout its

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

short fretboard, making for sweet sounding chords anywhere you finger them. Cosmetically the Avante is fairly austere, but its gloss-finished body is trimmed in black binding and there are inlaid black stripes at the front of the cutaway and the tail. The neck wears a smooth satin finish and the peghead has a gloss black overlay. The smoked chrome tuners with black buttons are a nice touch, and the only position markers are on the side of the rosewood fretboard. The electronics consist of an undersaddle piezo pickup that feeds a preamp with Volume and Tone controls, which are mounted just inside the upper soundhole. Power is supplied by a 9-volt battery that resides in a quick-release holder located


Gryphon Avante 12 below the endpin jack. Despite its compact dimensions (32.5" long x 12" wide x 3" deep), the Gryphon Avante 12 delivers a robust acoustic sound and has no problem being heard alongside full-sized flat-tops and other stringed instruments. It’s inviting to play, and its high chiming tone is instantly inspiring, making it ideal for Americana, folk, and other styles where alternative instruments are de rigueur. The Avante’s electronics enhance its flexibility when performing live, and help to make this unique instrument a real boon for guitarists who occasionally need to take the instrumental high road in their band, as well as anyone else who seeks an easy way to twang in the mando zone. g

CONTACT

veilletteguitars.com

PRICE

$1,495 street

NUT WIDTH

1.94"

NECK

Mahogany, bolt-on

FRETBOARD

Rosewood, 18.5" scale

FRETS

21, not incuding zero fret

TUNERS

Die-cast

BODY

Solid mahogany back and sides, solid spruce top

BRIDGE

Rosewood w/compensated saddle

Electronics

Piezo pickup and active preamp

CONTROLS

Volume and Tone

FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario Phosphor Bronze, .008-.042 WEIGHT

3.72 lbs

BUILT

Korea

KUDOS

Excellent quality. Plays well. Makes it easy for guitarists to play mandolin-sounding parts.

CONCERNS

Prickly fret ends could use a bit of filing.

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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V intag e e xcerpt

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

From the original Frets, December 1984


Lessons Under Investigation

Jeff Beck Live in Tokyo

By J esse g ress

I t’s h I g h t Im e t h at gu Itar I sts u n I te an d e xpose Jeff Beck for exactly what he I s— one of t he gr e at est

singers of all time! It’s true. While the rest of us mere mortals struggle daily with the cumbersome mechanics of guitar playing and amp tones, Beck has longsince transcended that process—he simply hears what he wants to play and voilà, out it comes, just like the greatest vocalists, the only difference being that his notes are channeled directly through fingers instead of vocal cords. It’s a divine talent every player aspires to, but few ever achieve. Though well known for unpredictable riffing and incendiary soloing, it’s Beck’s uncanny instinct for beautiful melodies that sets him far ahead of the pack, and nowhere is this more evident than on the 2014 DVD/Blu-Ray release Jeff Beck Live in Tokyo [Eagle Vision]. Passionately performed by his killer new band—Jonathan Joseph (drums), Nicolas Meier (guitars and synth), and Rhonda Smith (bass)—the set establishes a new high-water mark in Beck’s career, with devastating and often flawless performances of classics and staples, from “’Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” “Angel (Footsteps),” and “Where Were You,” to a hefty helping of new material, including “Loaded,” “Yemin,” “Danny Boy,” “Why Give It Away,” plus a lovely cover of Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Foregoing the usual “hot licks” approach, this month’s investigation focuses instead on Beck’s unique “vocalizations” (and sometimes simultaneous accompaniment) with excerpts from three distinctively different musical environments. But first, let’s check out the players and what they’re playing.

DO N’ T B E PIC KY There’s so much to be gained by scrutinizing Beck’s right-hand “embouchure,” and Live in Tokyo offers many close-up opportunities to do so. Watch closely and you’ll notice that most of the time Beck plays melodic lines with his thumb, while resting his index finger on top of the whammy bar (for downward bends), curling his middle finger under the bar (for upward bends), and leaving his ring and pinky fingers free for on-the-fly, nearly constant manipulation of the Volume and Tone controls. Beck’s palm is generally positioned near his floating bridge, at the ready for some impromptu palm-muting or signature manual bridge vibrato, a fluttering pitch effect he achieves by rapidly pounding on the rear part of the floating bridge plate. For

82

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

fingerpicking, Beck lets go of the bar and resorts to free thumb-, index-, middle-, and ring-finger strokes, while fast, alternate-picked runs are accomplished by pinching the thumb and index finger together, as if holding a pick. Try to follow these guidelines throughout all of the upcoming examples. Beck’s pedalboard has grown a bit for this gig, most notably with the addition of a genuine vintage (and real-estate-sucking) Maestro Ring Modulator, but in addition to two pedals I couldn’t identify (we only get fleeting glimpses throughout the disc), little else has changed. The Klon Centaur is still front and center, along with the Snarling Dogs Whine-O Wah, Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere, Way Huge Aqua-Puss and MXR Carbon Copy analog delays, and Lehle Little Dual


A/B/Y amp selector, all of which have resided in Beck’s rig for several years. Guitar-wise, the set’s opening number, “Loaded,� finds Beck torturing a Tele (tuned down a whole-step), but the rest of the show features Jeff’s signature white Stratocaster tricked-out with custom pickups by John Suhr. But Beck’s not alone here.

G ET A W I NG MA N Swiss-born Nicolas Meier is an accomplished solo artist, and virtuosic fingerstylist and plectrum player equally well versed in a multitude of styles, including classical, flamenco, blues, rock, jazz, and world music, who now resides in the U.K.. He joined Beck’s band in 2013 and has since been responsible for providing electric and acoustic sounds, as well as synth pads and textures on three tours. His arsenal includes four Godin guitars—two LGXTs, a nylon-string Multiac, and an A12 12-string—plus a Roland GR55 and “many pedals.� As you’ll discover in our first two selections, Beck couldn’t have chosen a better wingman.

“HA MMER HEA D � A tip-of-the-hat to Jan Hammer, the opening riff to “Hammerhead� was born from a figure devised by keyboardist Jason Rebello for an intro to the long-time Beck albatross “Hi-Ho Silver Lining,� as performed at the Royal Albert Hall with David Gilmour on July 4th, 2009. Here, the song begins with Meier’s clean, fingerpicked D5-D7/5-Dsus2D7/5 arpeggios, as depicted in Ex. 1. Six repeats, plus a sustained, barand-a-quarter Dsus2 set up Beck’s entrance, the absolutely devastating ensemble pickup and two-bar, D-blues-based rhythm figure notated in Ex. 2. (Meier switches to overdrive and uses a different, fifth-position fingering for this riff.) We’re only illustrating two bars here, and Beck never plays it the same way twice, but you can home in on all





of his phrasing nuances—the finger slide and microtonal bend in the pickup, the bar- (or finger-) bend in bar 1 capped with a staccato quarter-step bend on the downbeat of bar 2, and the re-phrasing of the pickup with a b3-to-3 hammer-on in bar 2—and run with them. Note

Ex. 1 = ca. 118

Play six times

D5

D7/5

Dsus2

D7/5

Dsus2

     128                       5  7   57 5 5 7 7 7 7  75 5 5 5 5 4

1

1

3

i

1

3

1

m

1 4 3 1

1

p

m

i

p

a

i

p

m

i

p

let ring throughout

a m i

Hammerhead By Jeff Beck and Jason Rebello Š Administered by Deuce Music Limited and Mute Song. All Rights Reserved.

T A B





Ex. 2 = ca. 118

end Rhy. Fig. 1

Rhy. Fig. 1





12                       ( )      8             1

3

1

1

1

3

3

w/p throughout

T A B

B1/4

5

7

5

7 5 3

3 5





w/bar

(5)

1

1

3

5

1

3

1

3 5

3

5

w/bar - - - - * B R

B1/4

3 (4) 3

(3)

*w/ or w/out bar

1

1

2



B1/4

5 7

5

7

5

3

4

3

3

5



m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

83


Lessons

J Ef f B Eck

Ex. 3 = ca. 118 = ca. 118 w/Rhy. Fig. 1 (4 times) w/Rhy. Fig. 1 (4 times) 3 Gtr. 1 (J.B.) 3 Gtr. 1 (J.B.) 1 1

12 12 88

1

( )( ) ( ) ( ) ( )( ) ( ) (1 ) 3

w/bar w/bar

T 5 7 A T 5 7 B A B Bass plays Rhy. Fig. 1 Bass plays Rhy. Fig. 1 Dsus4 **Gtr. synth **Gtr. XDsus4 X synth X XX

7

128 128

Gtr. 2 (N.M.)

(9) 7 (9)

X

X

5

VIII

XXX

34 1 1

(5) (5)

5

Csus4/D XCsus4/D X VIII

31 4

34 1 1

( )

1 w/bar w/bar

Dsus4add9 Dsus4add9 XXX

X

Gtr. 2 (N.M.)

3 w/bar w/bar B B

1

XX

( )

w/bar w/bar B

B

R

VII

G7/D G7/D

XXX

VII

XXX

4 21 1

4 21

4 21 1

31 4

R

4 (2) 4 4 (2) 4

4 21

**String sound w/vol. swell

**String sound w/vol. swell 6

1

6

1( w/bar

w/bar T A B T A B

)( ) ( )( )

(

(

)

)

1

1

w/bar

w/bar

B w/bar

w/bar

B

(5)

4

4

2 (2)

(5)

2 (2)

D7sus4 VII

Dsus4

XXX

VII

D7sus4

X

XXX

1 22

how Beck plays this entire figure with his thumb—at least this time around! Ex. 3 is framed by bassist Rhonda Smith holding down Rhy. Fig. 1, while Beck’s spacious Miles-Davis-like melody (Gtr. 1) sings over Meier’s atmospheric, stringy synth swells (Gtr. 2). Rhythmically, Beck’s bar-inflected root-9-b7-6-b7-5 melody hits fall where you’d least expect them—on the third eighth-note of beats four (in the pickup, and bars 4 and 8)

XX

Dsus4

X

1 22

84

( ) ( )

XX

34 1 1

34 1 1

and beats three (in bars 2 and 6), and the third eighth of beat two (in bars 3 and 7). Meanwhile, Meier’s ethereal synth pad swells into each beautifully voiced chord a beat later. Play Ex. 3 twice, hold the last note, and segue directly back to Ex. 2 for a re-intro into Beck’s second round of the melody, which he plays one octave higher using the same fingering, but, as always, drastically different phrasing. Following the 8va melody, Beck moves

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

5

7 5

7






Ex. 4 = ca. 118











 (  )                ( )       ()     ()       128  ( )      Gtr. 1 (J.B.)

3

1

(

)

( )

( )

3:2

w/bar pre-B R B R B

B

17(18)

T A B

14

Gm6

X

X



w/bar

R

(16)17(16)17(16)17

Gm7 X

3

1

w/bar



grad. B

(14)

A

X ()

IX

w/bar - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - B R B R

15

18 (19)

18(20) 18

Gm

X

X

w/Rhy. Fig. 1

17(18)17

15

Gm7

X

X

(15)

D5

X

XXX

X

 128            (1) 3 1 2 4

1 31 24

Gtr. 2 (N.M.)

4 31 21

1 34 21

1 31 21

144

Synth off

Ex. 5

 = ca. 66

Nylon-string acous.

Gsus4 G5

4                                   4                                     1

4

3

2 p i m a a p a let ring throughout

T A B

0 3

0

1 3 3

3 3

m p a m i

3

0 3

0

p a m i

3 0

0

3

to the bridge melody ( Ex. 4), where he finesses key chord tones resident in Meier’s Gm7-Gm6-A-Gm-Gm7 accompaniment with a combination of manual bends (bars 1 and 4), and whammified grace-note dips and melodic upward bends and releases (bars 2, 5, and 6). This adjourns to two rounds of Rhy. Fig. 1 (from Ex. 2) minus the pickup, which completes the form and adds yet another element of coolness as the riff seems to turn itself around.

p

sim.

0

0

3

3

0

1 3 3

3

3 3

4 4

0 3

3

4

4

1 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 3

3

“YEMIN� This beautiful Eastern-flavored Nicolas Meier composition proved to be right up Beck’s alley—after all, he’s been flirting with exotic melodies and instrumental techniques since his earliest days with the Yardbirds. Featuring the kind of everbuilding melody that Beck seems drawn to, the tune begins with Meier’s astounding extended free-time nylon-string solo intro, which he concludes with a four-bar fingerstyle rhythm figure (Ex. 5.) that defines the

3 3

0

3 0 3

0

0 3

1 3

1

0 3

0 3 3

“Yemin� By Nicolas Meier Š 2006 Meier Group Music. Administered by SUISA. All Rights Reserved.

m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

85


Lessons

J Ef f B Eck

groove and sets the stage for the melody. Basing his moves on a G-minor tonality, Meier decorates an open-G5 shape with Cs, Ebs, and a lone Bb (the 4, b6, and b3

of G minor, respectively). Ex. 6 marks the entrance of the melody, which is based on a repetitive, one-bar rhythmic motif and variations of the Cs, Ds, and Ebs (plus a

few Fs) from Meier’s intro in Ex. 5. Here, Beck embellishes each phrase with hammer-ons and grace-note slides, and/or upward or downward bar-generated bends and vibrato, while Meier supports with a rhythm figure that adapts the chords and partial picking pattern from Ex. 5 to the melody from Ex. 6. (Meier actually plays the figure much more sparsely than written, so try omitting a few sixteenthnotes between the downbeats.) This segues directly to second half of the melody, which is presented in Ex. 7 as a D.I.Y. affair. Below chord grids depicting Meier’s voicings, you are given a skeleton of Beck’s melody notes. Your mission is to apply the rhythm motif from Ex. 6 to each one-bar melodic phrase, adding as many Beck-isms as you see fit along the way, and to adapt Meier’s chords to his picking pattern from the same example. (Tip: Refer to the video.) The return to G5 and Beck’s G melody note in the last bar coincide with Meier’s four-bar re-intro, which is similar, but not identical to Ex. 5. This is followed by Beck’s 8va melody— Ex. 6 and Ex. 7 played an octave higher with different amazing phrasing—which segues directly to an eight-bar bridge, the first half of which is portrayed in Ex. 8. On his first pass, Beck utilizes a combination of manual and bi-directional bar bends to manipulate key chord tones from Meier’s Am7-Emadd9-Cm7-B7sus4B7 accompaniment. The second pass is identical, except for the last two beats of bar 4, where Meier transposes his B7sus4B7 moves up a minor third to D7sus4-D7

Ex. 6

 = ca. 68

Gtr. 1 (J.B.).





  4                   ()      4  1

1 2

1

3



3



w/bar

T A B

3 3

5

1

2



w/bar

3

3 3 4

5

1

1

w/bar

w/bar

5

5

4 4

4



w/bar

B R

4 4 (6)4 3

3

Gtr. 2 (N.M.). Rhy. Fig. 2

1 4

4

3 end Rhy. Fig. 2

4                       4                   3

1

3 4

1

2

2

let ring throughout

1 3 3 0

T A B

3

3

3 3 4 1

0

3

1

3

1

3

0

1 4 4 0

0 3

3

4

3

1

4 4

0

3

3

3

0

3

0 3

w/Rhy. Fig. 2 Gtr. 1



               ()        (  )    3

2



T A B

5 (5)

3 3

3

1

w/bar - - - - - - - - - preB R B R

w/bar

B1/4

1 3

1

3 3 4

5

4 4

(4) 5

(3) 4



w/bar

4 4 4 6 3

3

Ex. 7

 = ca. 68



 

A maj9(E /A ) X

X

III

E/G X

IV



X

Bmadd9 X

VII

G/B X

X

VIII

Cmaj9(G/C) X

X

VII



A /C X

VIII

X



E m7 VI

X

X

D/F XX



E/G IV

XX



G5 X

X

()

  44                                    2

86

41 3

1

31 2

1 34 1 1

1

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

31 2

2

41 3

1

31 2

1 31 21 (4)

31 21

31 21

2

3


the timeless “Danny Boy� in the key of D. Beck’s free-time, chord-melody intro is absolutely sublime, and Ex. 9, though rhythmically subjective, shows my best attempt to capture its beauty in print. Here’s the play-by-play. A three-note pickup prefaces Beck’s perfectly executed steely oblique bend (Ouch!) in the first half of bar 1, and his thumb-fretted broken D13 voicing in the second half. The melodic bar bend and

and Beck responds with a 22nd-fret high D (not notated). Meier’s four-bar re-intro follows before he and Beck embark on an improvised two-guitar dialogue that must be seen to be believed.

“DA NNY B OY � Beck has reimagined quite a few chestnuts over the years, from “Old Man River� to “Over the Rainbow,� and most recently, he unveiled a wonderful rendition of

release starting on the and of beat four serves as a pickup to the broken thumbon-6 G and G/A IV- and V-chords in bar 2. Four sixteenth-notes on beat four lead back to a fifth position I chord (D) at the top of bar 3, while the next two sixteenths accommodate a shift up to seventh position, where Beck breaks up the VI chord (Bm7) in Jimi-like fashion (beat three), and then adds an effortless bar bend-and-release topped with a staccato

Ex. 8

 = ca. 68

     (  )         44    Gtr. 1 (J.B.) 1

4

3

1

B

19

19



T A B

4

1

 

w/bar - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - pre-B R B R

grad. R

(20)

( )

( )

17

(17)

(19)20 (19)20

Am7

19

17

Emadd9

X

2

14

13

2

4     4    Gtr. 2 (N.M.)

    () ()   (   )      3

2

3

1

w/bar

B

17

w/bar - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - grad. B



grad. R

(18)

T A B

17

16

(16)

Cm7

18



(20)

(20)

B7sus4

X

X

() 1 31 21 (4)

X

1 31 4

B7 X

X

1 31 4

B7sus4 B7

B7sus4

    Gtr. 2 (N.M.)

3

m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

87


Lessons

Je f f B eck

ex. 9

 == ca. ca. 62 62



          (())       4     ((  )) (())        (())                      4         D D

Slowly and and freely freely Slowly 22

1 1

11

33

D13 D13

22 11

11

11

44 33

w/bar w/bar

B B

T T A A B B

99

11 12 12 11

99 (11) (11) 12 12 12 12

11

44

th th



let let ring ring



G G

22

33

w/bar w/bar



(11) (11) 9 9 (12) (12) (12) (12)

11 11 10 10

10 10

B B R R

(14)12 (14) 12

12 12

10 10



D D

22 3 3

11

22 3 3

l.r. l.r. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

12 10 10 12

G/A G/A



w/bar w/bar th th th th l.r. l.r. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- --

 4545  33

33

(3) (3) (4) (4) (5) (5)

4 4 4 4 4 4 1 1

3 3

4 4 11 1 33 1



77 77 77 55

33 33 33 55

55

1 1

3 3

1 1

th th

w/bar w/bar

44 55

(3) (3)

33

1 1

Bm7 Bm7



10 10

77

w/bar w/bar -- -- -- -- -- --

l.r. -- -- -- -- -- -l.r.

   77

10 77 10 77 77 99

B B R R

9 9 (11) (11)

99 7 7

                          (()) ( ) (( ))  ( )           (( ))        3      33  (( )) 33 33 3 33 33 Em7 Em7

4 4

A A

11

33

11 11 33

11

11 11

33

11

33

11

33

T T A A B B

12 12

G

14 14

12 12

 

G dim7





11

44

14 14

12 12 14 16 16 14

14 14

14 14

a a tempo tempo

14 14



14 14

33

22 l.r. l.r. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -hold hold B B

17 17

11 12 12 11

99

99 (11) (11)

A

11

22 11

D/F





22

33

w/bar w/bar -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

R R

11  11 (10) 11 (9) (9) 10 10  101110 (10)  1010 (9) (9) 10 10

Em7

11

44

th th

99 12 12

G

D13 D13

w/bar w/bar B B

10 10



D7 D7

11

11

11

w/bar w/bar

D/A



33

22

rit. rit. l.r. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -l.r.

th l.r. l.r. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -th

12 12 12 12 12 12 14 12 12 14 14 12 12 12 14 12

11

11

D D

Slower Slower

10 10

12 12 10 10

B B

11 11 (9) (9)

12 12



D

                (( ))   ( )  ()           (   )                ()         3  6

2 3



1 2 1

w/bar

th

T A B

l.r. - - - -

4  53 

th

3



w/bar

3 4 3

4

2

4 4 4

3

3 1



6 7

th

5

5

 

w/bar

 777   (5)

pull-off. I went back and forth many times between notating bar 4’s Hendrixy II-V (Em7-to-A) moves in the seventh or twelfth position—the camera work offered no clues—before finally deciding on the latter. Why? To me, that first note has the unmistakable tone of a fat sixth string. Use your thumb to slide into the twelfth-position Em7 shape, add the beautiful filigrees on the first two beats, and then slide up a whole-step to arpeggiate the A/C# chord as shown. Half way through the intro, Beck

88

4

8

th l.r. - - - - - - -

7 5

1 2 3

1

3 1 2

B R

5

BR

5 3

th rit.

th

3 4 5 3

3 2 4 2

pauses, restates his opening pickup, and then enters bar 5 with another E-to-F# bend sustained over the delayed D root, reminiscent of the move in bar 1, but a lot easier to play. A D-to-E pickup precedes the ultra-cool half-step whammy dip and release of the D7 chord on beat three before Beck adds the 6/13 (B) and finishes out the measure with a slinky faux-slide lick. In bar 6, he lands back on the G voicing from bar 2, but this time follows up with a broken G#dim7 chord that creates tension that is only partially

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

4 4 4 1

4

1

w/bar - - - - - - - - -

5 (6) 5 (6)

6

2 1 3

w/bar

3 0 0 2 0

7 7 7 5



B

R

(6) (6) (6) (4)

7 7 7 5

resolved by the D/A in bar 7 (due to the 5 in the bass). Beck suspends and then resolves the 3 of D, before morphing into a reverse A arpeggio on beat three, and adding a few unexpected half-step bar tugs and releases from E to F that lead into a slide to the tonic D in bar 8. Lastly, Beck ices the cake with a descending gospel turnaround—G-D/F#-Em7-D—and embellishes the last chord with a sultry half-step bar dip, release, and subsequent vibrato. Glorious! Cheers, Jeff! (Special thanks to Nicolas Meier for his input.) g


Lessons

Rhythm Workshop If 6 Was 4 by Jesse gress

We begin at 120 bpm (nice and slow for now) with the repetitive bar of 6/4 quarter-notes depicted in ex. 1. This sets the eighth-notes, played two to the beat, at 240 bpm. When we maintain the same tempo and subdivide the same eighth-notes into sustained groups of three, we get the 12/8 dotted quarter-notes in ex. 2, which now equal one-third of the eighth-notes, or 80 bpm This three-against-four polyrhythm is essential to the riff and its transformation from 6/4 to 12/8 to 4/4 and back. Use any single note or chord to drill both rhythms until you can comfortably alternate between them for one bar each. The first stave in ex. 3 establishes the riff’s repetitive 6/4 rhythm  ( = 80 ) motif—nine consecutive eighth-notes, an eighth-rest, plus two more eighths. The second stave transitions to 12/8, where the same eighthnotes are now grouped in threes. Stave 1 uses straight eighth-notes, and stave 2 has a shuffle feel, but both rhythms co-exist simultaneously. Stave 3 re-designates the dotted-quarter-note pulse as quarter-notes in 4/4 with each beat divided into an eighth-note triplet. (Though written differently, this sounds identical to stave 2.) This shuffle feel accommodates the fourth stave’s pair of rhythmic “hiccupsâ€? that occur on beats three and four. Next, in stave 5, we lose the triplet feel and transition to a straight-eighth/sixteenth groove with a muted “chick-aâ€? in each of the first two beats, a sixteenth-based hiccup on beat three, and two staccato eighths on beat four. (Tip: You can morph back to the original 6/4 figure by retracing your steps, i.e., playing staves 5 through 1.) Now, let’s up the tempo and apply some groovy notes and chords to the previous rhythms. ex. 4 superimposes the 5, b7, and root in the key of E over the straight-eighth 6/4 rhythm from the first stave of Ex. 3, while ex. 5 shows the 12/8 shuffle conversion Ă la stave 2. (Tip: For total authenticity, sub a 4th-string/5th-fret G for that low E during every other repeat.) ex. 6 features the same riff in 4/4. Repeat bar 1 three (or more) times, and then cut the riff short with a stop on beat three and use the F9 chord hit on beat four of bar 4 to transition to the stop-and-start shuffle feel in ex. 7. (Note how bar 2 of this figure is identical to stave 4 in Ex. 3.) Finally, we make the transition to straight eighths and sixteenths in 4/4 via the funky chordal figure shown in ex. 8. This also provides the perfect platform for a blazing solo—try improvising E blues/rock lines on the first two beats and answering them with the chord hits on beats three and four. Keep in mind that all of these rhythms are interchangeable and you can always work your way back to your starting point. Find yourself a savvy drummer and have a ball! g

A f e w m o n t h s Ago, A f t e r w e b egA n i n v est i gAt i n g

shuffle rhythms, one particular riff—reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell’s “Jam Back at the House� (a.k.a. “Beginnings�)—has repeatedly invaded my subconscious. It’s an insistent, one-bar 6/4 figure that straddles the line and crosses over into 12/8 and 4/4, and fits right into our ongoing rhythmic explorations. ex. 1

 = 120 ( = 240 )

6  4   ex. 2

 = 240 ( 



= 80

)

12      8   ex. 3

 = 120 ( = 240)

   6  4         128            44       = 80

=

(

= 80)

  4     4        3 3 3       4     4    3

90

3

3

3

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

 = 240



12      8  

cont inue D on pag e 92


Lessons

R h y t h m Wo Rksho p

Ex. 5

Ex. 4

 = 165 ( = 330)

 = 330

12    8            

6    4                 3

1

T A B

7 7

3

5 7 7

5 7

5

0

7



(  = 110)



T A B

5

7

7 5

7

7 5

7 5

0

7

Ex. 6



   3   3 3 3 3 3     44                             3 

=



(

 = 110)

F9

Play three times



T A B

7 7

E9

3 3 3 1 2

5 7 7

5 7

5

0

7

5

3 3 3 1 2

etc.



7

7 5

7

8 8 8 7 8

7 5 7

7 7 7 6 7

Ex. 7

                     44                   

 = 110

T A B

E9



3

7 7 7 6 7

3

7 7 7

7 7 7 6 7

3

7 7 7

7 7 7 6 7

Ex. 8

 = 110

           44                            T A B

92

E9

 777 6 7

X X X X X

X X X X X

7 7 7 6 7

X X X X X

X X X X X

7 7 7 6 7

F9

G9 F9

8 8 8 7 8

10 10 10 9 10

8 8 8 7 8



G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

7 7 7

7 7 7 6 7

F9

G9 F9

3 8 8 8 7 8

10 10 10 9 10

3 8 8 8 7 8



7 7 7

5




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Lessons

You’re Playing It Wrong “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes� by Crosby, Stills & Nash By Jesse G ress

bars 3 and 4 required only a single fretted note (C# on the second string/second fret), while the verses used one-fingered A and B chords barred across all six strings, all of which could be suspended simply by raising the third string one fret. Or so I thought. As it turns out, I was loud, proud, and wrong! Well, not by much, but it’s those tiny details that make all the difference. I had the right fingerings (for the intro at least) but

Back in the day when i played this

song in a band called Joe’s Bar & Grill (our singers totally nailed it), I reckoned I had Stephen Stills’ guitar part down pat. I simply tuned my 1963 Gibson Firebird I (God, I miss that guitar!) to an open E chord—E-B-E-G#B-E, low to high—and flailed away on the intro’s descending third intervals, played on the top two strings along with the remaining open strings. The open-position E6 chord in

 = ca. 152

the wrong tuning—by one note. In reality, Stills employed a modal E5 tuning (E-B-E-E-B-E, the same one Joni Mitchell used for “I Had a King� on her 1968 debut, Song to a Seagull), which simply entails the same open-E tuning with the open-G string dropped down one-and-a-half steps to E, versus tuning it up a half-step to G#. This eliminates the 3 (G#) from the equation, and produces a subtle, but distinctively

ex. 1

E5 tuning: E,B,E,E,B,E (low-to-high)

 = ca. 152

E

               4                                                                            4  (                            )          4           ()   4  (())                                                       () 4 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 5 5 2 0 2 0 5 2 0 2 0 7   (790 ) 790 790 790 790 790 790 790 790 680 570 450 450 570 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 5 4 4 5 4 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 5 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 7 5 5 7 5 2 0 2 0 5 2 0 2 0 7  (0) (0)  (0) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 E5 tuning: E,B,E,E,B,E (low-to-high) 3 E 1 3

1 3

1 3

1 2

1 3

1 3

1 3

1 2

1 3

1.

1 3

1 2 1. 1 2

1 3

2

2

sim.

E B E E E B B E E E B E

sim.

T A B

T A B

(0) (0)

                         ()            ()           ()   ( 4 0 0 0 0 4 5 2 0 2 0 5 450 )  121212  0 0 0 0 0 0 0  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 4 0 0 0 0 4 4  12 (0) 5 2 0 2 0 5 5 (0)   1212 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12  (0) (0) ex. 2  1212 2.

1 2

2.

1 2

E B E E E B B E E E B E

1 2

or

1 2

or

T A B

T A B

Asus2 X

V

2

E

Bsus4

IV

3

X

VII

21

2

Asus2 X

V

3

2

) ) ) )

( ( ( (

A7sus4

III

3

TT

11

“suite: Judy Blue eyes� By Stephen Stills Š Gold Hill Music ℅ Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved

94

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

(0)

different root+5-only, open-string drone. ex. 1 illustrates the intro in its proper tuning,

plus some optional 12th-fret harmonics in the second ending. (Raise the third string to G# to hear my incorrect version.) The E5 modal tuning also renders my interpretation of the verse chord fingerings useless. ex. 2 shows Stills’ Spartan fingerings for the Asus2, E, Bsus4, and unique A7sus4 voicings found in each verse. It’s also notable that the last chord in the intro serves as a pickup to a seven-bar verse progression, but only on the first verse—the second verse is eight bars long and begins with a bar of E. It’s also notable that for the past few decades Stills has been playing the song tuned down a half-step. Enlist three worthy singers and unleash your inner Woodstock! g


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Gear 17 Sensational Signature Models Want to Celebrate Your Favorite Guitarist? buY his Guitar! By Mich a e l M olen da lov e i s a B o u t as s u B j e c t i v e a s

wish list. If the planets align, that guitar may

models debuted at the January NAMM show,

anything can get. After all, like those Geico com-

also possess some of the vibe, funk, and feel

and we’ve selected 17 guitars to spotlight in this

mercials, everyone knows the old adage, “Beauty

that attracted the guitarist to a specific model

guide. The instruments here hit budgets from

is in the eye of the beholder.”

in the first place. And all of this is probably what

$350 to nearly $12,000, and all were crafted to

The intangibles of attraction aside, however,

most people look for in a well-considered sig-

embrace their namesake’s desires. None of these

most guitarists can detail the elements they

nature model—an instrument that can get you

models appear to be a stock guitar with some-

desire in an instrument that make it a tonal and

close to the machinery deployed by your favor-

one’s name slapped on the headstock. So, if you

creative muse for them. With that information in

ite guitarist to conjure all the sounds and licks

want a smattering of mojo from any of the fine

hand, a manufacturer can construct a guitar that

that inspire you.

players honored here with signature models, just

veers extremely close to a particular guitarist’s

This year, a pretty bountiful class of signature

put one of “their” babies in your hands.

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

97


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Aero3 StuArt Smith SignAture “I was looking for a guitar that would have all the characteristics of my favorite Strat neck, but be lighter than a standard Fender Stratocaster, and with more sustain,” says Heaven & Earth’s Stuart Smith. “The woods Aero3 Guitars have used on my signature model—along with the aerospace technology—makes this guitar incredibly light at just over six pounds, and the sustain is out of this world. This guitar is the best-sounding and easiest guitar to play that I have ever held in my hands.”

INFO ContaCt

aero3guitars.com

PriCe

$3,000 street

nut Width

1 11/16", Graph Tech

neCk

25.5"-scale, one-piece flamed maple, bolt-on

.

Fretboard

One-piece maple, scalloped

Frets

21 jumbo

tuners

Sperzel Locking, chrome

body

Alder mixed with aerospace technology

bridge

Fender American Series Tremolo with Graph Tech saddles

PiCkuPs

DiMarzio Chopper (bridge) and DiMarzio Fast Track 1 (neck)

Controls

Master Volume, Two Tone, 3-way selector

FaCtory strings Dean Markley Blue Steel

Regular, .010-.046

98

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

6.2 lbs

built

USA


Bourgeois Limited edition Bryan sutton aged tone dreadnought “The Bryan Sutton Dreadnought is limited to 30 instruments, and it is based on his 1997 Bourgeois D-150,” says luthier Dana Bourgeois. “To say that the original is well-played is something of an understatement. The idea behind the Limited Edition is to get as close as possible to that elusive, broken-in sound. The new version will still require some playing to achieve the fullness, immediacy, and ‘old friend’ feel of the original, but we are convinced it will not require 17 years of playing by a picker as prolific as Bryan.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

bourgeoisguitars.com

PriCe

$11,645 street

nut Width

1 23/32"

neCk

25.5"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Ebony

Frets

20 Dunlop 6190

tuners

Waverly Gold

body

Aged Tone (torrefied) Adirondack top with Premium Brazilian rosewood back and sides

bridge

Ebony

FaCtory strings D’Addario EXP17 Coated Phos-

phor Bronze Medium, .013-.056 Weight

N/A

built

USA

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

99


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Carvin JB24 Jason BeCker numBers TriBuTe “I wanted to build something that was a modern version of Jason’s original Numbers guitar and still stay true to the core things that made this model so good,” says Carvin vice president Jeff Kiesel. “My dad, Mark, worked with Jason on our first Jason Becker tribute model, the JB200C, and while this was my first project with Jason, he was always amazing to work with over the seven months it took to design and build the JB24. I was also able to work with the crew at Seymour Duncan, and they were great. It was nice to see how much they care about Jason. This model is very special to me, because with every sale, we give part of the proceeds to the Jason Becker Special Needs Foundation, which goes to help Jason’s high medical costs.”

INFO ContaCt

carvinguitars.com

PriCe

$1,599 direct

nut Width

1.68"

neCk

25.5"-scale, maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Maple with special colored inlays

.

Frets

24 medium-jumbo

tuners

Carvin locking

body

Swamp ash

bridge

Original Floyd Rose with locking nut

PiCkuPs

Two multi-colored Seymour Duncan humbuckers (Jason Becker’s signature Perpetual Burn in the bridge) and one Seymour Duncan colored single-coil (center)

Controls

Master Volume, 5-way selector

FaCtory strings Elixir, .010-.046

100

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

7.5 lbs

built

USA


Cordoba F7 PaCo On the heels of legendary guitarist Paco De Lucia’s tragic passing, the Cordoba F7 Paco is inspired by various instruments in De Lucia’s arsenal. The F7 Paco features non-traditional body woods for a flamenco guitar. Built with a solid Canadian cedar top and Indian rosewood back and sides, this guitar has a warmer, darker sound than traditional flamencos, which are typically built with brighter woods such as spruce and cypress.

INFO ContaCt

cordobaguitars.com

PriCe

$529 street

nut Width

52mm

neCk

25.6"-scale, mahogany, set (Spanish heel neck joint)

.

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

19 (12 to body)

tuners

Black and gold floral

body

Solid Canadian cedar top, Indian rosewood back and sides

bridge

Indian rosewood

FaCtory strings Savarez Cristal Corum

500CJ High Tension Weight

3.5 lbs

built

China

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Cort MBC-1 Matthew BellaMy Signature “It took three years of development to bring this guitar to market,” says Hugh Manson of Manson Guitar Works, co-designer of the MBC-1. “There was a lot of refining of pickups and Matt trying out various things until he was happy. The neck shape is exactly as Matt has it, and we opted to go without string trees—none of Matt’s guitars have string trees, in fact—because we believe the sound is more alive and resonant without them. The matte black finish looks simple, but it took a long time to develop, in order to ensure that it’s resilient and won’t come up shiny after years of use. Matt is very happy with this guitar.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

cortguitars.com

PriCe

$699 street

nut Width

43mm

neCk

25.5"-scale, maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

22 medium jumbo

tuners

Cort die-cast locking

body

Basswood

bridge

Adjustable with stop tailpiece

PiCkuPs

Manson single-coil (neck), Manson humbucker (bridge)

Controls

Master Volume, Master Tone, kill switch, 3-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .010 set

102

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

7.7 lbs

built

Indonesia


EpiphonE LimitEd Edition Gary CLark Jr. “BLak & BLu” Casino “I pretty much knew from day one that I needed a few things for my arsenal,” says Gary Clark Jr., “and the Epiphone Casino is the one that always stood out. Getting my first Casino changed my life.” When Clark got together with Epiphone luthiers to design his first signature guitar, his goal was simple: Produce a great, classic Epiphone Casino like he would have found in stores in the 1960s, right down to the Gibson P-90s loved by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Magic Sam, and others. The “Blak & Blu” finish was in honor of Clark’s Grammy-winning 2012 album, Blak and Blu.

INFO ContaCt

epiphone.com

PriCe

$799 street (trapeze); $849 street (Bigsby)

.

nut Width

1.68"

neCk

24.75"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

22 medium-jumbo

tuners

Grover Rotomatics, 18:1 ratio

body

Laminated, 5-ply maple/birch

bridge

Trapeze or Bigsby B70 Vibrato

PiCkuPs

Two Gibson USA P-90s

Controls

Two Volume, two Tone, 3-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .010-.046 Weight

6.6 lbs (trapeze); 7 lbs (Bigsby)

built

China

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

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Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

ESP Gary Holt SiGnaturE SEriES ltD GH-600 “The core of Gary’s signature models was to take a traditional aesthetic, and then add a Floyd Rose and modern accessibility to the higher frets,” says ESP Director of Artist Relations Chris Cannella. “To begin the design process, Gary tried all of the Eclipse and EC Series guitars in the ESP and LTD lines. His favorite was actually the LTD Deluxe EC-1000, which we then used as a starting point for his signature guitar. He wanted the guitar to have some weight—he likes the instrument to feel substantial. We chose the red and black color themes because Gary has consistently used that on his guitars going back to the 1980s. We have three tiers of Gary Holt signature models. The GH-200 is a high-quality ‘everyday’ guitar. The GH-600 is meant for professional touring and recording players. The ESP Gary Holt—which is hand made in the ESP Custom Shop—has the strongest appeal for collectors. All three are great guitars that really encapsulate Gary’s vibe, and the process of working with him on the designs has been nothing but excellent.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

espguitars.com

PriCe

$999 street

nut Width

42mm

neCk

24.75"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Ebony

Frets

22 extra jumbo

tuners

Grover

body

Mahogany

bridge

Floyd Rose

PiCkuPs

EMG 89R Red (neck), EMG 81 Red (bridge)

Controls

Two Volume (Volume 2 with pushpull coil split), 3-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .009-.046

104

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

N/A

built

Korea


Fender dave Murray CaliFornia SerieS StratoCaSter “We have two maple fretboard Fender Stratocasters which have the same configuration as Dave’s main Strat—a Floyd Rose locking trem, and Seymour Duncan Hot Rails and JB Jr. pickups,” says Colin Price, Dave Murray’s tech. “These both sound fantastic, and they have been out on the road for over ten years constantly, but it’s the tobacco burst California Series Stratocaster which has that special feel and sound that made it the number one choice for the new signature guitar. The Dave Murray California Series Strat was modified from a standard rosewood California series, and fitted with the Floyd Rose and Seymour Duncan Hot Rails to keep the look of a classic Strat, which was a change from the humbucker/single-coil/humbucker setup, which had been in use since Dave’s original, black Paul Kossoff Strat in the early ’80s. The Hot Rails give us a huge output, but without losing the clarity, and the look of the pearl pickguard gave it a cool look. We changed the center Hot Rail for a JB Jr. a couple of years ago as an experiment, as it gives us a lower output which works really well during the quieter sections of songs.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

fender.com

PriCe

$999 street

nut Width

1.6875"

neCk

25.5"-scale, maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

21 medium-jumbo

tuners

Vintage-style chrome

body

Alder

bridge

Floyd Rose R3 Locking

PiCkuPs

Two Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbuckers (neck/bridge) and one Seymour Duncan JB Jr. humbucker (middle)

Controls

Master Volume, Two Tone (for neck and middle pickups), 5-way selector

FaCtory strings Fender USA 250L, .009-.042 Weight

N/A

built

Mexico

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

105


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Fender Tim ArmsTrong signATure “We chose to do a limited run of the popular Tim Armstrong Hellcat in a matte-white finish that Tim coined ‘Ghost White’,” says Michael Schulz, artist relations manager at Fender. “We all wanted to give guitar fans the option to get a great-sounding, quality acoustic that looks very unique. We sat down with Tim to go over the details, and we all said kind of the same thing: ‘If it ain’t broken, why fix it?’ So we decided to leave the Hellcat stock, other than the finish. Tim said to us, ‘A flat-white finish would look awesome—subtle, but classic looking.’”

INFO

.

ContaCt

fender.com

PriCe

$349 street

nut Width

1.69"

neCk

25.3"-scale, maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

19 vintage-style

tuners

Vintage-style with aged white plastic buttons

body

Mahogany top, back, and sides

bridge

Rosewood with compensated Graph Tech Nubone saddle

PiCkuP

Fishman Isys III with onboard preamp and tuner

FaCtory strings Fender Dura-Tone

880L, .012-.052

106

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

N/A

built

China


Framus Phil XG siGnature “Basically, there were three things that I wanted in my guitars,” says Phil X, who replaced Richie Sambora in Bon Jovi two years ago. “First, I wanted a sweetness to the high end with no harshness or abrasiveness. Second, I was looking for a super-fat neck—kind of like a Gibson SG, but fatter, wider, and more contoured. Finally, I wanted “awesomeness,” and this dream-cometrue guitar has a lot of it. It’s a rock and roll guitar for a rock and roll guy.”

INFO ContaCt

warwick.de

PriCe

$6,499 retail

nut Width

1.69"

neCk

24.75"-scale, mahogany, neck-through

.

Fretboard

Rosewood (inlays optional)

Frets

24 small, high nickel-silver

tuners

Graph Tech Ratio Locking with wooden knobs

body

Mahogany

bridge

Tonepros stoptail or Bigsby

PiCkuPs

Two Arcane PX8 or PX90

Controls

Master Volume/Tone switch (serial/single-coil/parallel) or Master Volume and Master Tone

FaCtory strings Cleartone, .010-.046 Weight

8 lbs

built

Germany

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

107


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Ibanez PS120 Paul Stanley SIgnature “Renewing my collaboration with Ibanez feels like going home to where it all started,” says Stanley. “Since 1977, you’ve heard the guitar I created on countless platinum albums, and you’ve seen it rattle coliseums from Texas to Tokyo. Now, I’m making sure that my weapon of choice can also be yours.” When Ibanez sat down with Paul Stanley in 1977 to collaborate on a signature guitar, they thought they would produce a totally unique design. However, while flipping through the Ibanez catalog, the Kiss frontman became intrigued by the asymmetrical shape and unusual body of the Artist 2663—not exactly a popular model at the time. Stanley chose this style—later to be known as the “Iceman”—as the template for his signature instrument. Now, for the first time since 1996, Stanley and Ibanez have reunited to introduce three exciting new Paul Stanley signature models.

INFO

.

ContaCt

ibanez.com

PriCe

$899 street

nut Width

43mm

neCk

24.75"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Ebony

Frets

22 medium

tuners

Die cast machine heads

body

Mahogany with maple top

bridge

ART-1 Full Tune III

PiCkuPs

Seymour Duncan SH-1n ’59 (neck), Seymour Duncan SH-14 Custom 5 (bridge)

Controls

Two Volume, Master Tone, 3-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .010-.046

108

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

10 lbs

built

China


Kiesel lPM7 lee McKinney signature “My favorite thing about my new signature models is the versatility they have,” says Lee McKinney, guitarist for the band Born of Osiris. “I can get all the tones and sounds I need for any recording project that comes my way, as I write and record all types of music, ranging from extreme metal to clean jazz. Aesthetics are important, and the attention to detail in these models is beyond other custom guitars I have seen or played.”

INFO ContaCt

carvinguitars.com

PriCe

$1,299 direct

nut Width

1.69"

neCk

25.5"-scale, hardrock maple, set

.

Fretboard

Ebony

Frets

24 medium-jumbo

tuners

Carvin locking

body

Mahogany

bridge

Floyd Rose with locking nut

PiCkuPs

Two Kiesel K14 passive humbuckers, Graph Tech piezo saddles

Controls

Master Volume, Master Tone, 5-way selector, Acoustic Volume, Mini-toggle for acoustic/electric modes

FaCtory strings Elixir, .010-.056 Weight

7.5 lbs

built

USA

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

109


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Knaggs steve stevens ss2 “Steve was looking for a more traditional-sounding instrument in the SS2, as compared to his SS1,” says Knaggs Guitars’ Peter Wolf. “He had specific ideas on weight, shape, headstock angle, neck specs, feel, and sound. It has been a pleasure working with him. Both Steve and our team couldn’t be happier about this collaboration and its outcome.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

knaggsguitars.com

PriCe

$4,800 street

nut Width

1 11/16"

neCk

24.75"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

22 medium

tuners

Grover, mother-of-pearl buttons (or nickel or gold)

body

One-piece mahogany with maple cap

bridge

TonePros

PiCkuPs

Bare Knuckle Steve Stevens Signature

Controls

Two Volume, Two Tone, 3-way selector

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

FaCtory

Strings D’Addario, .010-.048

Weight

8.6 lbs

built

USA


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

PRS SE AlEx lifESon ThinlinE “I was very pleased when PRS presented me with my SE Angelus acoustic—a beautiful guitar of stunning quality,” says Alex Lifeson. “It was a challenge to build a guitar that shared the integrity and attention to detail that the Alex Lifeson Private Stock Angelus possesses in a package more broadly accessible, and the SE Alex Lifeson Thinline is that model. Carefully selected materials, expert craftsmanship, and a smart approach to concept resulted in a guitar that is beautiful to look at and rewarding to play.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

prsguitars.com

PriCe

$799 street

nut Width

1 21/32", bone

neCk

25.35"-scale, mahogany, set

Fretboard

Rosewood

Frets

20

tuners

PRS Designed

body

Solid spruce top, dao back and sides

bridge

Rosewood, bone saddle

PiCkuP

PRS undersaddle (Volume and Tone controls accessible through soundhole)

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .012-.053

112

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

Weight

4.8 lbs

built

Korea


ReveRend BoB Balch SignatuRe “Bob wanted a straightforward, clean looking, reliable guitar with increased resonance and clarity,” says Reverend’s Joe Naylor. “We added a chamber under the pickguard, which makes the guitar more flexible and resonant, allowing Bob to easily summon controlled feedback. We also designed a signature set of Railhammer pickups with medium output and enhanced midrange, which improves clarity when used with high-gain fuzz.”

INFO

.

ContaCt

reverendguitars.com

PriCe

$949 street

nut Width

1 11/16", graphite

neCk

24.75"-scale, korina

Fretboard

Rosewood, 12" radius

Frets

22 medium-jumbo

tuners

Reverend Pin-Lock

body

Korina

bridge

Tune-o-matic with stoptail

PiCkuPs

Two Railhammer Bob Balch Signature

Controls

Master Volume, Master Tone, Bass Contour, 3-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario XL, .010-.046 Weight

7.5 lbs

built

Korea

M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

113


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Rock N Roll Relics Gilby claRke Model “Being a big fan of vintage guitars, I love the look and feel of a worn-in looking guitar,” says Gilby Clarke. “This is a great playing and sounding guitar. I’m able to stay clean for a Stones vibe, but hit the bridge pickup for some pure rock and roll gain. I’ve been playing the sh*t out of it.”

INFO ContaCt

rocknrollrelics.net

PriCe

$2,895 direct (rebel-guitars.com)

.

nut Width

1 5/8", hand-cut bone

neCk

25.5"-scale, maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Maple, 9.5" radius

Frets

21 Jescar stainless steel

tuners

Gotoh Vintage

body

Ash

bridge

Gotoh with brass compensated saddles

PiCkuPs

Two David Allen Specials.

Controls

Master Volume, Master

single-coils Tone, 3-way selector FaCtory strings Dunlop Nickel, .010-.046

114

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Weight

7 lbs

built

USA


GARYHOLT S IGNAT URE

S ERIES

GARY HOLT

My new ESP and LTD signature guitars are exactly what I've dreamed of for my entire playing life! Tone, shredding playability and stunning looks! And did I mention CRUSHING tone!? All around badass in every way, designed for delivering riffs and solos like a kick to the head!

LEARN MORE AT:

espguitars.com

RED BY

POWE

GH-600


Gear s ignat ur e m o d els

Warren Guitars arlen roth siGnature “When I met Arlen, he had a number of other luthiers wanting to work with him making his signature edition,” says builder Don Warren. “I promised him I could build a guitar that would play and sound like his beloved vintage Telecaster, but with a variety of other tones that would capture the fat singing tone of a Les Paul and convincing Strat tones, as well. Though it looks like typical three-pickup models, the pickups are voiced and spaced exactly where I need them to create the guitar’s tonal complexity. A major part of my tone is in how I dry the woods. This is something I stumbled upon, and, while time consuming, it is so worth it. I won’t say what it is, and nobody has guessed it yet!”

INFO ContaCt

warrenguitars.com

PriCe

$2,495 direct

nut Width

1 11/16", Bone (also available, Tusq

neCk

25.5"-scale, rock maple, bolt-on

Fretboard

Maple, 10" radius

Frets

22 vintage

tuners

Vintage Kluson

body

Swamp ash

or graphite)

.

bridge

Vintage Tele-style

PiCkuPs

Three Lollar or Lindy Fralin/ Warren Guitars custom-design single-coils

Controls

Master Volume (custom pushpull pot), Master Tone (custom push-pull pot), multi-function 5-way selector

FaCtory strings D’Addario, .010-.046

116

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Weight

6 lbs and up

built

USA


First launched in 1990, the Pacifica Series was driven by the California session scene X where versatility and performance were key. Inspired by those original custom-shop guitars, the Pacifica 611, 510 and 311 models are the embodiment of the original vision. These new Pacificas boast pro-level hardware and electronics, solid tone-wood construction and the essence of uncompromising performance.

Š2015 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.

4wrd.it/pacificagp2


Gear

t est D r i V e

Fryette Power Station Integrated Reactance Amplifier t este D by DaVe hu n t er Many players will luMp this box

a loud amp in smaller club or studio situa-

low-watt tube amp. Along with all this, the

into the “output attenuator” category, but the

tions; do the latter to add headroom or big-

Power Station provides a handy post-output-

Power Station is really grounded in Fryette’s

amp punching power to your sweet-sounding

stage effects loop (great for adding effects to

reputation for building bold, transparent tube power amplifiers. Put it all together, and this thing performs a lot of tricks. Connect the speaker out from your tube amp of choice to the Power Station’s Amp In jack, and it hits a reactive load that will handle up to 150 watts, tapping it off to a line-level signal that feeds the unit’s own dual-6L6 power amp. The result lets you crank your master amp to achieve fully saturated output-tube tone, then either reduce the overall level at the Power Station’s Volume control, or boost the level to the PS’s maximum 50 watts. Do the former to rein in

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G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


amps that lack a loop, or for setting up a wet/

extreme reductions it wasn’t dead on, the Pres-

bean instantly giggable. The only thing I’d like

dry rig), a Line In to use it as a power amp for

ence and Depth controls and the EQ switches

to see is the inclusion of a separate “bypass”

guitar preamps or amp-modeling units, and a

made it a breeze to dial things in pretty darn

switch, rather than having the Standby auto-

Line Out for direct recording or mic-less sound

close—while providing powerful tone-crafting

matically route the Amp In to the Speaker Out

support. In short, the Power Station does a lot,

at higher volumes, too.

when in standby mode. That small point aside,

and should prove an extremely flexible perfor-

The effects loop worked beautifully (what a

the Power Station is a versatile performance

mance tool to countless guitarists as a result.

boon that is!), and the unit proved a great host

aid, and a deserving recipient of an Editors’

How does it sound? For all of the above

to my Line 6 POD HD, too, making that kidney

Pick Award. g

applications, I found it superb. I hooked up a tweed Fender Pro, a Komet Aero 33, and a little single-ended DIY 4-watter, among others—all

summer 2015

to a range of cabs—and the Power Station not only sounded better at cutting the bigger amps’ full-bore output than any of the quality attenuators I have on hand here, it added outstanding performance flexibility to the rig, as well. On average (although it varied with master amp and gain settings), I found unity gain between master

guitar bass drums keyboards vocals

amp and Power Station output at around nine o’clock on the PS’s Volume control. That doesn’t leave a lot of travel on the volume-reduction

SAN DIEGO, CA JUNE 21-26, 2015

side of the dial, but enough to achieve whisper volume. I was immediately impressed with how

TORONTO, ON SESSION 1: JULY 19-24, 2015 SESSION 2: JULY 26-31, 2015

accurately the Power Station’s output represented the master amp’s natural tone, and if at

MODEL

Power Station CONTACT

Fryette.com

PRICE

$599 street

Paul Gilbert

Andy Timmons

S P E C I f I C AT I O n S CHANNELS

1

CONTROLS

Volume, Presence, Depth; mini

Gary Hoey

toggles for Flat/Brite/Edge and

Mike Stern

Flat/Warm/Deep.

.

POWER

50 watts

TUBES

One 12AX7 phase inverter, two Amp In jack with 4/8/16Ω switch. Dual Speaker Outs with 4/8/16Ω switch. Line In/Out

Rhonda Smith

Duke Robillard

Muriel Anderson

Stuart Hamm

jacks. Effects loop w/Hi/Lo level switch. Ground Lift switch. WEIGHT

15 lbs

BUILT

USA

KUDOS

An extremely clever and useful product. Retains the tone of your master amp well, while offering superb flexibility.

CONCERNS

Classes For All Levels Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced All Ages Welcome 12–Adult On Or Off Campus Tuition

6L6 output tubes EXTRAS

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Would like to see a “bypass” switch that’s separate from the Standby switch.

For a FREE brochure or to register please call 905.567.8000 or visit us online guitarworkshopplus.com

Tony McManus / Dave Langguth / Paul Reed Smith Jon Finn / Dave Martone AND MORE! rock

blues

jazz

acoustic

classical

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M A Y 2 0 1 5 / G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M

119


Gear accesso ry Fil e

With a click, the guitar strap shifter lets you go Johnny ramone

Guitar Strap Shifter

low or tom morello high.

teste d By micha el m olenda Back in the ’80s, i Bought a gimmicky,

with a less-than-tenacious hold on your instru-

super-stretch guitar strap by a long-forgotten

ment may send it floor bound.

plan to make the Strap Shifter a part of your act. Construction-wise, the hard-plastic Strap

manufacturer. I used it with my Les Paul, and I

Then, there’s the operation of reaching behind

Shifter is well made, road tough, and the latches

had all kinds of dumb fun pulling the guitar down

you to operate the Strap Shifter, and whether

and swing joints are near bulletproof. I’m will-

to my knees and letting it snap back up to my

you’re nimble enough to get your guitar in the

ing to assume you’ll get years of wear and tear

waiting hands. And then, at one show, my Les

preferred position quickly in order to perform a

out of the device with no problems. I dropped

Paul shot up and clocked me under the chin,

desired musical passage. I was never consis-

the Strap Shifter onto the street outside of a

knocking me silly and spraying the blood from

tently as fast as the chap who demonstrated

rehearsal space and tossed it across a tile floor

a severely bitten lip all over my shirt, the stage,

the product in the company’s YouTube video,

with no ill effects.

and a horrified bass player. I immediately retired

but I could usually make the transition between

The Strap Shifter definitely makes for a

elastic gear from my rig.

my band’s solo and rhythm sections and back

decent element of a stage show, as the audi-

without much of a hiccup. However, the oper-

ence watches you snap your strap up and down.

ation went super smoothly only if I was wear-

At $45, it’s a fairly expensive accessory, due to its

me—is offered by the Guitar Strap Shifter ($45

ing a t-shirt (like the guitarist in the demo). For

custom parts—especially factoring in the added

direct). The handmade-in-the-USA device can

the shows with my punked-up Monkees tribute

cost of a strap and perhaps strap locks. As such,

be easily affixed to any 2" nylon strap, and with

band, I wear an unbuttoned ’60s-style jacket

the Guitar Strap Shifter may be an acquired taste

a snap of its handle, you can adjust your guitar’s

over a mod dress shirt, and the jacket tended

for some, but if you buy into the concept, it cer-

position from, say, punk-rock low to jazz-player

to get in the way of my swiftly hitting the Strap

tainly delivers on its promise.

high. The Guitar Strap Shifter absolutely does

Shifter’s handle. In some cases, the Strap Shifter

what it’s supposed to, but how easily it does it

got hung up in the folds of the jacket, making for

kudos Extremely rugged and durable.

depends on your style and stage wear. First, I

either a bit of nervous fumbling or a quick deci-

concerns Pricey. Seamless operation compro-

recommend using the Shifter with some type

sion to play with the strap as it was. It appears

mised by frilly shirts, jackets, and most anything

of strap-lock system, as your guitar is being

that t-shirts or smooth and completely buttoned

besides a t-shirt.

briskly raised and lowered, and a cheap strap

dress shirts are the best fashion choices if you

contact guitarstrapshifter.com g

120

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

J o hnny Ramo ne : Ian D Ic kson /R e X Usa

A much safer method to change the length of your strap—at least if you’re clumsy like


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Gear Qu i c k h i sto ries o f th e roots of Gui tar lust

The 1955 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody By dav e hunt er acoustically than the laminated creations from

Eddie Cochran and Duane Eddy brought the

top models of the early ’50s primarily at the jazz

Kalamazoo, but that only further distinguished

6120 to the nation’s attention before the end of

market, with the country scene a close second.

their sound once amped up. Rather than the

the ’50s, and it has remained a rockabilly staple

Soon after landing its first star endorsement

deep, rich, and potentially boomy tone of the

ever since. It’s the choice of retro stylists like Rev-

from Chet Atkins, however, it all took a twist in

average jazz box, the 6120 was bright and cut-

erend Horton Heat and Brian Setzer (although

a surprising direction. While Fender’s Telecaster

ting. This sound was further accentuated by

each prefers their twang via the Filter’Tron hum-

and Stratocaster and Gibson’s Les Paul seemed

the DeArmond Model 200 single-coil pickups

buckers that arrived in 1957). But the 6120 has

tailor-made for the new music that was brew-

(called “Dynasonics” in the Gretsch catalog)

proven itself more than a retro accessory. For

ing in the mid ’50s, Gretsch hollowbodies were

used on the guitar for the first few years of pro-

example, Pete Townshend recorded many of

arguably the most influential guitars on the

duction. With individual and adjustable alnico

The Who’s most bombastic tracks with a 1959

rock-and-roll scene, and the 6120 Chet Atkins

rod-magnet polepieces in a complex “monkey

Gretsch 6120 through a tweed Fender Band-

Hollowbody was, for a time, king of the heap.

on a stick” arrangement, these clear-sounding

master combo (both of which were given to him

pickups could also drive an amp pretty hard,

by Joe Walsh), and Neil Young often used a ’59

eliciting a juicy, fat, yet articulate tone.

6120 in the Buffalo Springfield and for wilder

It makes sense. After all, rock and roll was born out of the confluence of slick and speedy licks being played by jazz and western swing

The “G” firebrand and cattle-themed western

adventures after. Various related Gretsch models

artists such as Charlie Christian and Junior

cosmetics that adorned the early guitars were

were central to the British invasion of the ’60s,

Barnard—all of whom did their thing on the elec-

extremely kitschy—and drew enough objec-

and the 6120 and its brethren made a big come-

tric archtops of the day, as did Scotty Moore in

tions from Chet himself to eventually get them

back during the indie and alternative scenes in

making his transition from country to backing

removed—but these appointments make for

both Britain and the U.S. in the ’80s and ’90s. g

the most influential early rock and roller of all,

an extremely collectible vintage guitar today.

Elvis Presley.

The look that followed, still with the “roundup

EssEnTIAL InGREdIEnTs

In developing the 6120 in 1954, and officially

orange” finish, but with new hump-back fret-

releasing it in 1955, Gretsch followed Gibson’s

board inlays and an absence of cowboy para-

• Fully hollow archtop body

lead in constructing the guitar with laminated-

phernalia, practically screamed rock and

• Laminated-maple body construction

maple tops and backs with press-formed arches—

roll. And, although not all 6120s were vibrato-

• Glued-in neck with bound rose-

as used on the ES-175 of 1949—reasoning that

equipped, it really does seem like Gretsch and

the added rigidity of laminates over more res-

the Bigsby tailpiece were made for each other—

onant solid-wood construction would benefit

especially as the gentle rollercoaster dip of the

a guitar that was intended to be amplified. The

Bigsby became a major ingredient of the rock-

results from Gretsch’s factory were even deader

abilly sound.

122

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

.

wood fingerboard • Floating Melita bridge • Dual single-coil DeArmond Model 200 (a.k.a. Dynasonic) pickups

Cou rt esy of N igel os bor N e/ou t liNe Press

Gretsch aimed its electric-arch-


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GetSmart Carl Verheyen on Performance the “What Goes Around Comes Around” theorem

Ah, the “refrigerator racks” of yore. You won’t fit these monsters in the trunk of a Honda, but for certain tones, you can’t beat ’em. As I’ve mentIoned In

previous columns, when it comes to gear, my number one maxim is this: “If it sounds good, don’t sell it.” Guitarists often sell a greatsounding amplifier to get a different one, and then regret they ever sold it in the first place. But not me, and this would explain why I have more than 50 guitar amps here in Los Angeles, and another eight (with 220-volt transformers) for touring Europe. They all sound good! Back in the ’80s, all of the studio guys put together big

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racks of outboard gear with rack-mounted preamps and power amps. It was the sound of the times—very processed and effected. Guitar tones had gotten about as far away from Are You Experienced or the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East as they possibly could. I was rig builder Bob Bradshaw’s second customer, and I rode the rack wave for around seven years. Then, one day I woke up and realized my old seafoam green 1961 Stratocaster through a blackface Fender Princeton Reverb amp had more tone than

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

$30,000 worth of rack gear. I liked hearing the marriage of wood and tubes instead of chorus and delays. At that point, I quit using the mega rig, and turned to my old pals Vox, Marshall, Fender, Hiwatt, Jim Kelley, and a handful of pedals. But I didn’t sell the racks. Fast forward about 15 years, and, although I’d fired up the rack rig on occasion to get sounds on my own CDs, film dates, and sessions for TV’s Futurama, it was, for the most part, moth balled. Then, I got a call specifically for “that big rack sound.” John

Williams’ music for the newly updated Star Tours ride at Disneyland was being redone with a large orchestral session at the Fox scoring stage. I plugged in my rack gear to find a horrible buzz, so I secretly played the entire session with amps and pedals—though with all those blinking lights on the rack keeping my broke down rig a secret. Last week, I was asked to play on an all day session for a single song. The call was for a 10 a.m. downbeat, with a “Don’t book anything afterwards” out time. I was told the session had an “epic, eight-page chart” with an extended guitar solo, and that I’d be tracking live with Chad Wackerman on drums, Trey Henry on bass, David Witham on keys, Luis Conte on percussion, and Eric Marienthal on saxophone. So would I bring a few guitars, an amp, and a pedalboard to a session like this? Having no idea, I decided to bring the big rack. I was glad I brought it for all of its sonic options—especially when I was in the studio for 11 hours doing many overdubs after the band was dismissed. And, again, I was so happy I didn’t sell that stuff back in 1989! Carl Verheyen is a crtically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer, clinician, educator, and tone master with 12 CDs, two live DVDs, and two books released worldwide. g


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GetSmart Craig Anderton on Technology the 96khz amp sim solution RegaRdless of whetheR

you think playing back audio at 96kHz sounds better than 44.1kHz, recording at 96kHz can improve some amp sims’ sound—specifically, those without an oversampling option. This is because the harmonics generated by distortion can interact with a digital system’s clock frequency and create audible artifacts that usually add a “wooliness” to the sound. Higher sampling rates, however, can produce a clearer sound. But recording at a higher sample rate isn’t always practical, because it stresses your computer more. This can cause reduced track counts, or less stable operation. Fortunately, the workaround may be simple. Some amp sims have an internal oversampling option. Essentially, the sim itself runs at a higher sample rate than the project hosting it. So check the sim’s preferences for an Oversampling, High Resolution, or Higher CPU Consumption setting. (Avoid power-saving “eco” options. For more information, see “Checked Your Sim Preferences Lately?” in the July 2014 Guitar Player). If your sim doesn’t have these options, there’s a workaround. • Record your guitar track as you normally would in the 44.1kHz project, using your amp sim and preset of choice. • After recording your part, save the amp sim preset.

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fig. 1—the site src.infinitewave.ca shows sample rate conversion quality for all major programs. Closer to a single curved line is better (top, Cakewalk soNaR X3; bottom, apple Quicktime Pro 7.6.6).

• Regardless of where you started recording your guitar part, extend its beginning— even if it’s silence—to the project start. This may require dragging the clip start to the beginning, or inserting silence. • Export the dry guitar track without processing by the sim

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5

at 96kHz, assuming your host program has quality samplerate conversion (Fig. 1). Otherwise, export at 44.1 kHz. • Open a new project set to 96kHz, and import your guitar part starting at the project beginning. If you couldn’t export at 96kHz, some hosts

will convert when importing. Otherwise, do sample-rate conversion in a separate program (such as Audacity) prior to importing. • Load the amp sim and its preset. • Render (bounce) the file with the amp sim sound, and then export the processed file at 44.1kHz. Now, you have a 44.1kHz file to import into your 44.1kHz project, starting at the project beginning. It’s counterintuitive that you’ll retain the 96kHz project’s higher quality at 44.1kHz, but you’ve “freezedried” the higher-quality sound as audio that can be reproduced at a 44.1kHz sample rate. You’re no longer using an amp sim to create the audio. Please note that I’m not a “cork-sniffer” audio guy who insists on cables made from unobtainium. Depending on the amp sim, the effect will be sufficiently obvious that anyone will notice it. It’s not subtle. So, at least when recording, higher sample rates can be useful (this same technique can also apply to virtual instruments and some dynamics processors). But do they make a difference on playback? I’ll let others argue about that one... Craig Anderton has played on or produced more than 20 major label releases, mastered hundreds of tracks, and written dozens of books. Check out some of his latest music at youtube.com/thecraiganderton. g


GetSmart Jason Becker on Creativity inspiration, Part 2 Last time i wrote about

my fingers and attitude. I also wanted to be able to get slow and gentle if I felt like it, and if my pickup had too much distortion, I couldn’t do that. We designed my Seymour Duncan Perpetual Burn pickup to have a bit more output, however, so that my fans wouldn’t be bummed. Guitar solos have obviously always been a huge source of inspiration for me. Man, there are so many I hardly know where to begin. It all started with Clapton and Robbie Robertson on “Further On Up the Road” from The Last Waltz. After that, some of the solos that hit me on a deep level were

“Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers,” “People Get Ready,” and “The Final Piece,” by Jeff Beck; Roy Buchanan’s “The Messiah Will Come Again;” “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix; “Lenny” by SRV; “Eruption;” “Black Star” by Yngwie; “The Sky Is Crying” by Albert King; “Comfortably Numb” with Gilmour; and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” with that great harmonized solo by Trevor Rabin. Later on, after I was making albums, I discovered one of the most beautiful solos: “Why?” by Uli Jon Roth on Electric Sun’s Beyond the Astral Skies album. The beauty of the note choices over the sweet chords

and how he pauses just a little bit before playing some of the notes actually brings tears to my eyes almost every time I listen to it. Another song that I heard later on was Satriani’s “Always with Me, Always with You.” One of the prettiest melodies ever! Don’t always think about what you can do on guitar. Think about what you can make people—including yourself—feel. Jason Becker is a composer and guitarist whose work can be heard on his solo albums, and with Cacophony and David Lee Roth. Check out this sexy man’s story in the awardwinning documentary Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet. g

Robe Rt e lsdal e

some things that inspire me as a musician, both guitar- and nonguitar-related. I really find nice melodies to be inspiring. So many players have great technique, but they don’t do anything that is enjoyable to listen to. I’m drawn to nice chord changes that can tug at people’s emotions. I like listening to musicians that don’t do stuff that others have already done. We all occasionally repeat ourselves or imitate things we’ve heard, but it’s so cool when people use different flavors. Great guitar tones can also be really inspiring. For me, an early one was Clapton’s tone on the two Derek and the Dominos albums. I really liked how it cut and sounded badass. Then I got into Roy Buchanan and his squeals, especially on “The Messiah Will Come Again.” Then Stevie Ray Vaughan and his beautiful, smooth Strat tone, particularly on songs like “Lenny” and “Say What!” Eddie’s tone killed me, like it did most players at that time. From the first time I heard him, the brown sound has always been the ideal starting point for my own tone—not for every one of my songs, but generally I want that aggressive part to be there. Of course I know that most of the tone comes out of the fingers. My pickups have always had a slightly lower output than most people would expect from me. Seymour Duncan was very surprised at how low my output was. Most of my aggression and feel in my playing came from

Have sky Guitar, will travel—uli Jon roth knows how to take listeners on an emotional journey. m a y 2 0 1 5 / G U I Ta R P L a y E R . C O m

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—Mi CHA el M O len DA

G U I TA R P L A Y E R . C O M / M A Y 2 0 1 5


In the decade before PRS Guitars opened its doors, founder Paul Reed Smith made a living as a repairman and custom luthier working tirelessly on creating a guitar that he felt worthy of taking to market. 30 years after founding the company, Paul maintains the passion to discover and experiment with new theories, concepts and designs that continually make our products better. To commemorate our 30th Anniversary, we have created four electric guitars with a special “birds in flight” inlay pattern only available for 2015. www.prsguitars.com/30

© 2014 PRS Guitars / guitar photos by Marc Quigley

Private Stock Custom 24 30th

Custom 24 30th

S2 Custom 24 30th

SE Custom 24 30th

30 years of innovation, quality and the obsessive pursuit of tone.

Guitar Player may 2015  

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