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AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

alternate (Tunings) Universe


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents 5 A Word from the Publisher

Where the spark for TrueFire’s RIFF came from

6 sweet little angel

David Hamburger sheds some light on B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel”

12 My Guitar Hero

Larry Carlton, recording artist, Grammy winner, session musician, guitar hero...

16 Small Town Girl Rocks World

Jennifer Batten’s crazy tale from small town girl to rock superstar

24 Organic Tone in a Digital World

Wathen Audiophiles, Don Thomas on the tube amp and today’s audio challenges

sweet little angel

David Hamburger gives us a history of B.B. King and the genealogy of “Sweet Little Angel”

30 Lesson: Let those Fingers Fly

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Ten tips by Susan Mazer to faster chord changes

32 Lesson: Spice Up Your Licks

Jeff Scheetz’s approach to using what you know to spark a new sound

34 Lesson: Cool Encounters with the 7#9

Chris Buono’s trio of clever ideas to shake up your next jam session

38 Lesson: Fingerstyle Warm Up

My Guitar Hero

TENACIOUS B

B for Bennett. Stephen Bennett. Word.

Pick up some tips from Richard Gilewitz on the quintessential warm up routine

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Larry Carlton, recording artist, Grammy winner, session musician, guitar hero...

40 Lesson: “Rondo” by Mozart

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Celentano’s Classical sounds finesse sweeppicking, tapping, pedal points and more

44 TechTalk: 5 Apps for Guitarists Guitar app round-up for musicians

46 StudioWire: Preserving the Magic: Home Studio Tutorial, Part 1

INTERACTIVE RIFF CONTENT

A three-part story on home-studio recording

Reading offline? Be sure to visit:

www.riffjournal.com/links-v1 for an easy link directory to all online assets

48 The Saxophonist’s Palette

Groove Master

Ben Lacy is one of the rare ones…an innovator

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Bill Evans’ language of improvisation and painting

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54 Atomic Soul

Get pied-pipered by Vicki Genfan’s acoustic mastery


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Organic tone in a digital world

Wathen Audiophiles, Don Thomas on the tube amp and today’s audio challenges

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60 For The Record

Matthieu Brandt on living the dream in today’s music economy

68 Tenacious B

B for Bennett. Stephen Bennett. Word.

74 Chasin’ The Boogie

Hard-driving boogie of Tim Sparks shrieks like a freight train howling in the night

78 Groove Master

Ben Lacy is one of the rare ones…an innovator

82 News from the ‘Fire

STUDIOWIRE

A three-part story on home-studio recording

Interview with TrueFire’s Next Top Guitar Instructor Winner 2013: Robert Renman

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83 Six-String Aficionado: Student spotlight A spotlight on TrueFire students

84 Riff Journal Artist Directory

Full listing and interactive links from the featured artists and educators

86 Riffage: Featured Album Compilation

Get your FREE download of featured music from Riff artists

88 Readers’ desk: Teacher’s Pet reviews

TrueFire students chime in on their favorite educators, courses and workshops

89 closing SNAPSHOTS

Tech Talk: 5 apps for guitarists Guitar app round-up for musicians

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Photos from backstage, behind-the-scenes and on the road RIFF 3


Riff band

Riff band

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” - Henry David Thoreau

Meet the Riff Band. We can’t wait to present our inaugural edition to you and share our passion with readers each quarter. In the meantime, shout out to us anytime online with feedback, questions and tasty tidbits. riffjournal@truefire.com

@riffjournal

Alison Hasbach Editor-in-Chief

Ali (a.k.a. prioress of the ‘Fire) is a founding partner and chief shooting & branding officer who likewise holds a M.B.A. (master of brewing administration) in Coffee Imbibement. She is fanatical about all things artistic (especially TrueFire Artists).

BRAD WENDKOS Publisher

Born in a cross-fire hurricane to itinerant Appalachian mountain people and then sold for a barrel of gunpowder to a wandering clan of Eastern European gypsies, Brad (thankfully) found his way home at TrueFire.

Tommy Jamin

Studio Department Editor

Tommy Jamin is a graduate of the Recording Arts program at Full Sail University and has been crafting top-quality video and audio content as a professional digital media producer over the last 14 years. In addition to being Director of Production at TrueFire, he’s also a singersongwriter, production gear & tech enthusiast and family man.

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facebook.com/riffjournal

AMBER ROPELIS

Creative Director Amber is a cat lovin’ coffee drinking graphic designer and the newest edition to the team. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design & Digital Media from the University of North Florida and is the Creative Director here at TrueFire.

Jeff Scheetz

Educational Department Editor

Jeff is the Director of Education at TrueFire, has released 8 music CDs, and 6 video instruction courses. He’s been a teacher for over 30 years and brings his own method and style to students from around the world. He has written guitar columns for many magazines and conducted workshops and clinics throughout the US, Europe and Mexico.

zach wendkos

Technology Department Editor

Zach holds a real M.B.A. and scavenges the planet for the latest and greatest in online marketing and technology applications. He leads the charge in honing the student online experience at TrueFire and dreaming up the new and cool.


a word from the publisher Photo by: Tanya Sharkey

H

oward Roberts sparked the idea for TrueFire back in the early 70’s when he was writing articles for Guitar Player magazine. I was living in NYC, playing in a funk-rock instrumental band we called Manhattan Eye & Ear. We managed to get a few gigs around town, but must have been pretty awful because our two horn players from Chicago made us swear to never use their real names. I never met Mr. Roberts, but read every single article he wrote over and over and over again. His Sonic Shapes lessons in particular fascinated me and I remember wishing there was a way to hear how those ‘sonic shapes’ were supposed to sound when played properly. Almost two decades later, there I was pitching Notes On Call to Guitar Player magazine and many other guitar publications. We produced audio versions of their print lessons, which readers could access, over an 800 number, using their telephone keypad to play, pause, rewind and fast-forward.

lessons over the “World Wide Web” and then migrated it all to video once we had enough bandwidth. We’re still rolling with video today, just with more tech bells and whistles. TrueFire’s technologies are cool, but that’s just icing on the cake. Pull back the curtain and the true wizards of TrueFire are revealed — 493 brilliant artists and educators. I still pinch myself every time I get to sit on the other side of the glass collaborating on an educational project with these inspiring people. RIFF celebrates TrueFire artists and educators. We’ll tell you stories about them, share exclusive lessons from them (even some of their scrapbook pics), and tickle your ears with their music. You’ll also be treated to a variety of music-centric features to stimulate your own creativity and musicality. Thank you Howard Roberts. And a million thanks to all of our fellow guitar-playing friends and students for your support and loyalty over all these years — this RIFF’s for you!

Over the next few years, we produced over 2,000 of those audio lessons and received almost a million calls from players just like me, who wanted to hear how the lesson was supposed to sound when played properly. Technology exploded in the 90’s and so we hung up the phone, changed our name to TrueFire and started streaming the audio

Brad Wendkos Head Smoke Jumper RIFF 5


Written By: David Hamburger

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Like many guitarists, I’ve listened more times than I can count to “Sweet Little Angel” from B.B. King’s 1964 classic Live at the Regal album. The hair still stands up on the back of my neck when the horns come in on the third verse, and the way he opens his solo, dodging and weaving between the major and minor pentatonic scale is still, to me, one of the most concisely thrilling encapsulations of call and response on the blues.

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You can’t really see what King did with this song just by looking backwards from now. In order to see what a hip, transformative job he did, you need to come at it from the opposite direction, starting with Lucille Bogan.

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s you might discern from the crowd’s ecstatic response that night, “Sweet Little Angel” was already an established part of King’s repertoire in 1964. He first cut the song in 1956, reaching a respectable #8 on the R&B charts with it that year. But if, like me, you’re more familiar with the Regal recording, when you first hear that 1950s version, you may think: what the heck? Guitar-wise, mid-fifties B.B. has more of the fleet T-Bone Walker sound he evolved from, brighter and busier, without the patient, sensuous gloss his playing had gained just eight years later. Compared to the Regal recording, the horns are relatively static, and the pianist, with his steady 12/8 comping, lacks the prodding, insistent commentary Duke Jethro brings to the live band.

B.B King - Sweet Little Angel

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B.B. King - Sweet Little Angel Live at the Regal

If B.B.’s studio take on “Sweet Little Angel” sounds like 50s rock ‘n’ roll, that’s because it is, more or less. Which, looking back with almost sixty years’ hindsight, may sound dated. At the time though, B.B.’s presentation of this particular song, in this particular way, was in fact emblematic of a lifelong effort to present the blues that he loved, to as wide an audience as possible, while still sounding like himself. You can’t really see what King did with this song just by looking backwards from now. In order to see what a hip, transformative job he did, you need to come at it from the opposite direction, starting with Lucille Bogan. Lucille who? No, not the lady B.B. named his guitar after. Lucille Bogan was a pre-war “classic blues singer,” that is, a female singer working with piano accompaniment, singing anything from actual blues songs to vaudeville and tin pan alley material, which may or may not have had the word “blues” in the title. Bogan, who wrote many of her own songs and came to specialize in the


most transparently suggestive material she could get away with, recorded a song called “Black Angel Blues” in 1930.

Lucille Bogan - Black Angel Blues

Sound vaguely familiar?

Recorded in 1949, Nighthawk’s version jumps out of the gate with a hotter, more electrified slide sound that owes a direct debt to Red’s 1934 track, now taking its name directly from the first line of the song, “Sweet Black Angel.” Nighthawk adopts Red’s opening slide line, now playing it in standard tuning.

Robert Nighthawk - Black Angel Blues

Tampa Red was a big influence on many guitarists, including Robert Nighthawk, and that influence is on full display on Nighthawk’s version of the song.

Not to be outdone by a protégé, Red revisited the song himself a year later with a full band and the title “Sweet Little Angel,” curiously setting aside his slide in favor of a standard, fretted electric guitar approach.

Tampa Red - Sweet Little Angel

Which brings us to B.B. King. Read any interview with him, and one thing that comes through loud and clear is a deep and passionate knowledge of

That would have been that, especially from a guitarist’s point of view, but then Tampa Red recorded “Black Angel Blues” in 1934. In the pre-war Chicago scene, Tampa Red was big news as an accompanist, solo artist, bandleader and all-around musician’s musician. Singing in a relaxed, urban vein and playing in open E tuning with faint piano accompaniment, Red’s version featured his clean fingerpicking and elegant slide licks throughout.

King is possessed of a connoisseur’s appreciation of what came before, the hippest kind of fandom.

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music. As befits a former D.J., King is possessed of a connoisseur’s appreciation of what came before, the hippest kind of fandom. He knows from not just T-Bone Walker and the country bluesmen, but also Charlie Christian, Lonnie Johnson and Django

Just a couple of years later, Duane and Gregg Allman recorded their “B.B. King Medley” as the Hour Glass, rolling through not just “Angel” but also “It’s My Own Fault” and “How Blue Can You Get,” showing direct inspiration from the Regal album.

Duane Allman - B.B.King Medley

‘Sweet Little Angel’ helped establish King as an R&B artist in the black community, but Live At The Regal had a lot to do connecting B.B. to a wider audience

Reinhardt. He sings “Caledonia” because he’s hip to Louis Jordan. He can reel off everybody who did “Every Day I Have The Blues” before him, up through the definitive version by Joe Williams and Count Basie. According to Blues Boy: The Life and Music of B.B. King, he got the idea to record “Sweet Little Angel” from hearing Robert Nighthawk. Tampa Red was hot, contemporary stuff in 1934; while Nighthawk updated Tampa Red with electric slide and Willie Dixon’s propulsive bass, his version also nodded to the postwar vogue for a rawer sound, one that harked back to, yet amplified - literally and figuratively - the sounds of the Delta. In decking out “Sweet Little Angel” with horns, prominent drums, and sophisticated, jazz-inflected guitar licks, King re-imagined the song as a hip R&B number that could make the charts alongside other proto-rock ‘n roll of the era. In hindsight, it seems like the next logical step, but it’s indicative of King’s combination of historical awareness and burning ambition that he took aim at the airwaves with such an archeological piece of songcraft. “Sweet Little Angel” helped establish King as an R&B artist in the black community, but Live At The Regal had a lot to do connecting B.B. to a wider audience and that show’s performance of the song is the one that’s had a lasting impact on subsequent artists.

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You can find versions by Otis Rush, Freddie King and Jimmy Johnson, R.L. Burnside (solo, with slide once again), Howlin’ Wolf (with Muddy on slide!), John Hammond, Jr., and versions titled “Black Angel” again by Corey Harris and Buddy Guy (with G.E. Smith). Speaking of Guy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the version of “Sweet Little Angel” on his 1968 Vanguard debut, A Man and The Blues. While you can hear aspects of B.B.’s vocal in Buddy’s singing, the guitar approach is entirely his own. Even more interesting, you can hear that same guitar approach at work three years earlier as Buddy backs up Big Mama Thornton on the same song on her In Europe recording.

Buddy Guy - Sweet Little Angel

Big Mama Thornton w/ Buddy Guy - Sweet Little Angel - Live 1965

I’m sure B.B. King wasn’t thinking about any of this on that night fifty years ago when he blew the socks off of the audience at the Regal Theatre. And as much as I love hearing the likes of Tampa Red, Robert Nighthawk and Buddy Guy do this song, I imagine B.B.’s live version from 1964 will still be the definitive version to anyone digging the blues fifty years from now.

Written by David Hamburger


want more? view david’s courses on truefire

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ARTIST FEATURE

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they say never meet your heroes. I’m glad I didn’t listen...

Written By: Brad Wendkos

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T

hey say “don’t meet your heroes because they might disappoint.” That old adage ran through my head a thousand times the day I was finally going to meet my personal guitar hero, Larry Carlton.

Like most of us, I first tuned into Larry Carlton back in the 70’s when all that buzz erupted over the incredible Kid Charlemagne solo on Steely Dan’s Royal Scam record. I didn’t know it then, but I’d actually heard Larry’s guitar work hundreds of times before on all kinds of hit records because of his session work with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, The Four Tops, Christopher Cross, Barbra Streisand and so many other top recording artists (3,000 sessions worth!). Meanwhile, that Kid Charlemagne solo changed everything for me and I’ve been a major fan ever since. And it just kept getting better; Crusaders, Fourplay, 38 albums as a solo recording artist, 19 Grammy nominations, 4 Grammys, 3 Adlib Awards, Titan of Tone Award, a couple of Lifetime Achievement awards, and he even collaborated with Mike Post in the theme song for one of my favorite TV sh ows back in the day, Hill Street Blues. You’d be hard-pressed to name any other guitar player in history with a pedigree as diverse and distinguished as Larry Carlton’s.  For a 3-minute video tour of just a few of Larry’s accomplishments, check this Larry Carlton EPK video out:

Larry Carlton EPK

So there I was headed to an Italian restaurant in

Nashville where I was going to meet and have dinner with Mr. 335 for the very first time. I was hypernervous and as giddy as a 13-year old being brought backstage to meet John, Paul, George and Ringo. Fortunately I was not driving. Robert Williams, Larry’s business partner and manager had set up the dinner. My business partner, Ali had somehow charmed Robert into arranging the dinner for all of us to meet and explore doing some educational projects together. Today, I consider Robert a good friend and a mentor. Robert is scary smart, street-savvy and one of the few real visionaries in the music business. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s the first person I call when in need of business advice. Don’t ask me the name of the restaurant. I was in a daze and I don’t remember. Don’t ask me what I ordered to eat. I don’t remember. Don’t ask me what we talked about for two hours. I don’t remember. All I know is you couldn’t meet a sweeter, more humble, more genuine person than Larry Carlton. I also know that at some point during the dinner, Robert and Larry agreed to work with TrueFire. We’ve done many projects together since that night, and the courses that we’ve produced together represent some of our proudest work. I still have to pinch myself when I see Larry Carlton on the other side of our control room glass. And to see him do his thing in the studio is also remarkable — one-takes all the way, all of the solos always improvised on the spot, giant ears and always receptive to any direction I have the guts to suggest…the consummate pro. So yea, they say never meet your heroes. I’m glad I didn’t listen, because I met mine and my guitar hero is everything and more than I could have ever hoped for.

www.larrycarlton.com AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

You’d be hard-pressed to name any other guitar player in history with a pedigree as diverse and distinguished as Larry Carlton’s.


RIFF 15 want more? view Larry’s courses on truefire Photo By: Alison Hasbach


ARTIST FEATURE

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Photo By: Alison Hasbach


Written By: Brad Wendkos

SMALL TOWN GIRL ROCKS WORLD. We all have our own personal favorite guitar players. We love to listen to them, talk about them, see them perform, and cop as many of their licks and moves as we can.

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Photos Courtesy of Jennifer Batten

Her story reads like a Hollywood movie.

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e all have our own personal favorite guitar players. We love to listen to them, talk about them, see them perform, and cop as many of their licks and moves as we can. I keep a handwritten list of my own personal favorite guitar players, which I organize by style and technique. It’s also my wish list of artists that I’d love to work with here at TrueFire.

practices incessantly, thirsts for more knowledge, auditions for GIT in California, and fails that audition. Finds new teacher and sheds day and night for six months, nails second GIT audition (only girl amongst 60 other students), pushes through all the machismo crap, awarded most-improved-student at graduation. Gets first-ever live gig at 22 years old, phone starts ringing off hook, becomes sought-after player in six There are thousands of guitar hot LA bands, beats out 100 Every time I discover a players who have the chops and guitarists to go on Bad World new favorite, I add them Tour with Michael Jackson. experience to take on a gig of to one of the lists. I’ve Records her first Above, Below, that stature, yet Jeff chose edited those lists so and Beyond album to critical many times you’d need a Jennifer and that speaks volumes acclaim, tackles another MJ cryptologist to determine tour (Dangerous World Tour), about her professionalism, my current favorites including a Super Bowl halfwhat with the crosstime gig with MJ broadcast musicality and creativity. outs, exclamation points, to 500-million people in 80 underlines, annotations nations, finally joining MJ’s and replacements. There are two names on my rock band. They get together for 3 years on the CDs Who guitarist list that have more exclamation points and Else and You Had It Coming, which were both supported underlines than any of the others. One of those names by world tours. Second solo record (Tribal Rage: is Jennifer Batten. Momentum) ensues, followed up by third (and final) world MJ tour, HIStory. Next Jennifer teams up with Her story reads like a Hollywood movie. Young girl Jeff Beck to record two albums and tour with him and from small town in upstate NY, inspired by the Beatles his band for three years… to learn guitar, takes lessons from local teachers,

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Shooting the video for “Respect� (Above, Below, and Beyond CD) in Bali with the traditional Balinese Monkey Chanters in the background

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AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1 Photo By: Alison Hasbach

want more? view Jennifer’s courses on truefire


Jennifer loves to teach, is really gifted at it, rarely needs a second take, and puts her all in each performance just as if she were playing to a stadium audience.

If I were to pitch this story to Hollywood, I’d be stopped about halfway through and told that audiences would find it all too good to be true, even for a Hollywood movie. Rocky’s rise from meat packer to world boxing champion…believable. Small town girl to top of the game in the male-dominated world of rock guitar…ridiculous. Ridiculous maybe, but true nonetheless. Jennifer’s pedigree speaks for itself, but the one single credit that impresses me the most is the Jeff Beck connection. You’d be hard-pressed to find a guitar player who wouldn’t want to play with the Jeff Beck, let alone record and tour with him. There are thousands of guitar players who have the chops and experience to take on a gig of that stature, yet Jeff chose Jennifer and that speaks volumes about her professionalism, musicality and creativity. “A lot of my ‘aha’ moments on guitar came from the hundreds of hours I spent learning all of Jeff Beck’s music: really wicked harmonics between the frets, extra big bends beyond the whole and half step, pick squeals, whammy bar moves. God, he invented so much of that stuff for electric guitar,” Jennifer remembers. “I think I learned the most from two ballads, ‘Cause We Ended As Lovers’ and ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat.’ The tempo was slow enough so I could really zone in on what he was doing and dissect it.” We all look forward to having Jennifer in TrueFire’s studios. We’ve collaborated on several educational

projects and she’s always super-prepped and pumped for her sessions. Jennifer loves to teach, is really gifted at it, rarely needs a second take, and puts her all into every lesson performance just as if she were playing to a standing-room-only stadium audience. You can’t ask for more than that, but she gives it to us anyway. I asked Jennifer is she had any one single bit of advice that she’d like to pass on to students here in this RIFF article. True to form, she gave us two. The first has to do with generating fresh and creative ideas, “The joy of music doesn’t have to involve other people. You can get a lot of joy out of just jamming alone and seeing what you come up with. I do that for hours at a time and so many new ideas come directly out of that.” The second suggestion is one that was passed on to her back in her GIT days, “There are things I learned at GIT that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. This is one of those…when you’re soloing over a chord, the chord tones (the arpeggio notes of that chord) should light up bright red as you visualize the fretboard. The scale tones should likewise be lit up, but a little less bright. And the wrong tones, blacked out completely. When you’re soloing over changes and focused on those chord tones, the listener will be able to hear the changes without having to hear the actual chords being played.” Two great bits of advice from a small town girl who rocks the world.

www.jenniferbatten.com RIFF

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FEATURE

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE I met Don at Summer NAMM. He demonstrated some of his speakers for us and I can honestly say that I had not heard recorded music sound so clean, warm and genuine since listening to the $100k stereo system my audiophile-freak trust-funded buddy put together back in the early 70’s before everything in the audio world went to pot (Don’s amp and speaker cost a fraction of that). We got to talking and it was immediately clear that Don was the audiophile’s audiophile - he talked the talk and clearly walked the walk. As we were leaving the booth, he gave us a couple of his guitar amp tubes to try. We did try them and minds were blown for a second time. I’ll personally NEVER use another tube in any of my amps. I asked Don to contribute an article for this issue of RIFF and happily he generously complied. Prepare thyself for mind blowage in following said article. - Brad Wendkos

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AUTUMN 2014of|Walthen ISSUE 1Audio Photos Courtesy


Written By: Don Thomas

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fter many years of following a deep passion for creating awesome sound with a true love of listening to great musicians on the best equipment I could find, I came to realize that we’re all on an industry-driven technology ride.

If you look back at the past 50 years of the professional and consumer audio industry, you’ll see directions change with the development of new technologies. One might perceive these emerging technical changes as advancements, but in many cases, they were developed with the sole goal of cutting costs or simplifying manufacturing. These often translate into more competitive pricing, but they come with big unspoken tradeoffs in sound quality. I could write volumes of detailed accounts chronicling the changes and reasons, but what matters to the Musician and the Listener is actually organic in nature. For instance, an electric guitar that has a solid mahogany body with an oil-rubbed finish has a much different tonal characteristic of the same shaped guitar made from maple with a high-gloss painted finish. These differences are easily heard. Every truly great guitar player knows that tonal quality is as much the goal as technique and execution. In this increasingly digital world of electronics, achieving an ideal tone is more elusive than ever. The solution should be simple and the power of simple cannot be stressed enough. The key to a true audiophile listening experience is using the simplest high quality circuit possible as it yields wonderful dynamic sound with an expansive three-dimensional sound stage. Every additional digital or analog feature takes just a little more life out of the program material. My personal quest for that ideal seductive sound has lead me through more digital and solid-state devices than I want to admit. I had an eye-opening revelation when I discovered the subtle differences of using different tubes for different moods. I also realized that there are huge swings of overkill that happen when one applies a new effects pedal or device that often takes you further away from the ideal tone you’re seeking.

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If you’re an electric guitar player and find yourself wishing for something more organically dynamic and tonally alluring, try looking at simple things like the brand and gauge of strings you use. Differing metal compounds and heavier string weights can add tons of tone, bite and depth to your sound. Another option is to look at is the type of amplification you use. First and foremost, the solid-state transistor amplifier has to go. Virtually all respectable guitar amplifier makers utilize electron tubes for amplification because the complex tonal characteristics simply can’t be created by solid-state means. The tube guitar and bass amplifier manufacturing

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options are probably greater now than ever. Mesa Boogie, Fender, Carr Amplifiers, Hughes & Kettner and Orange Music are popular choices. There are also many small companies that offer purely tube guitar amplifiers with great tone like Zuecher amps. The choice of tubes used in an amplifier determines its organic tone quality, character, durability and consistency of tone. Prior to connecting signal processing and effects, look at the first stage tubes in your amplifier. Also known as preamp tubes. These tubes determine most of the tonal flavor a tube amplifier. These first stage tubes are usually designated as 12AX7, ECC83, 12AT7, 12AU7 or 6922.


The most common power tubes are 6L6, KT66, 6V6, EL34, EL84, KT88 and KT90. Although upgrades and changes of the standard power tubes play a role in the organic sound and touch of an amplifier, it’s the first stage that determines most of the tone and drive properties. Most amplifier companies equip their amplifiers with standard or generic tubes, usually JJ tubes from Slovakia, Groove tubes from Russia, which are also Electro Harmonix and various Chinese tubes. Most of these tubes are tested from bulk purchases as either good or bad, and then used or sold as replacements. Wathen Audiophile has CryoTone tubes. Wathen understood that the Audiophile listeners were buying up all of the remaining NOS (New Old Stock) tubes that have exceptional organic sound. With that in mind, Wathen developed a carefully selected collection from all of the current tube manufacturers of virtually all of the available tube types. The difference is Wathen only purchase tubes that laboratory test within the higher percentage of good tubes and then supplies those results with each serialized tube. Every Wathen CryoTone tube then undergoes an extreme proprietary Cryogenic treatment process that changes the molecular structure of the metals within the each tube. Those molecular changes normalize bend stresses, inconsistencies and welds in the tube. The end results are tubes that have an exceptional organic sound, extended tube life, and consistent tonal quality from tube to tube.

cryogenics The field of cryogenics advanced during World War II when scientists found that metals frozen to low temperatures showed more resistance to wear. Many of the early discoveries were more fully explored by NASA engineers who were trying to understand what would happen to metals when subjected to the extreme temperatures of space.

What it does Cryogenic treatment modifies the molecular structure in critical electronic components by reducing or eliminating voids and imperfections in the material. The process relieves stresses and normalizes (or stabilizes) welded and soldered areas. The changes caused by Wathen’s extreme cryogenic process produces tubes that compete or surpass even the most soughtafter antique tubes.

After achieving what you consider to be the ideal organic tone from your tube amp, record the amp’s settings and then start to experiment with your desired effects, making notes on those settings as well. Remember that a little effect goes a long way and it’s very easy to go too far. Consider this; the Stradivarius violin is priceless because the complex sweet organic sound is undeniable to the human ear. Your ideal tone is likewise priceless and its sweet complex organic qualities stem from the guitar and its amplification, not your effects.

Written by Don Thomas, CEO Wathen Audiophile, LLC

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Lessons Lessons

SKILL LEVEL - BEGINNER

Written By: Susan Mazer

Let those fingers fly!

beginner CHORD

10 tips to faster chord changes

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ithout fail, beginner students ask me about ways to make their chord changes smoother and faster. Rather than give them the stock answer “practice,” I offer ten practical tips to speeding up those transitions. 1.

Keep Common Tones Down.

Think before you make a chord change. Review your progressions and look at what notes are common between chords and what fingers pivot around them. For example, when moving from C Major to A Minor, only the third finger moves. When going from E Major to A Minor, the whole chord moves as a unit, one string group higher in pitch. 2.

Use the Least Amount of Movement for the Greatest Output.

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PRACTICE

fingerboard ever so slightly. Be sure not to exaggerate any movement. 3.

Monitor Your Technique.

Police yourself now and then to make sure that you are using the proper technique. Keep your palm relaxed and away from the neck. If you are grabbing the neck, you are creating tension and it makes it very difficult for your fingers to move freely. Remember to keep your thumb stable behind the neck - it’s your home base. Keep your left hand nails short so you can play on your fingertips. This not only makes the chords sound clearer, but it will make the transitions smoother. A guitar strap will also help to keep the instrument in a stable position. If you are not holding on for dear life, your fingers will move more easily. 4.

Your fingers actually have to move very little between chords. Even when there are no common tones between chords, your fingertips move away from the

tips

Build Your Muscle Memory.

When we learn a sport, we practice the same baseball swing or volleyball serve over and over until we find the


“sweet spot” for getting the desired results. Learning the guitar is no different. Your fingers remember where to go by practicing the identical movement repeatedly. Try moving between chords with no right hand strum and creating no sound. Just practice the movement focusing on the position, not the technique. 5.

Head and Hand are Connected.

8.

When you play the guitar, your hand is simply following what your brain tells it to do. To clarify where your fingers are supposed to be, you can try closing your eyes and visualizing the chord. You can also challenge yourself to write out the chord box without looking at your hand. Finally, saying out loud where the placement of each finger belongs helps to solidify the finger position. 6.

Check That Instrument.

Not all guitars are created equal. The “action” refers to the distance between the strings and the fingerboard. If the action is too high, it can be difficult to press down the strings. This can also muddy the sound and make changing between chords more difficult. It may be worth a trip to your local music store to make sure that your action is set correctly. Thinner strings also make your guitar easier to play. 7.

isn’t down yet. You’d be surprised how much faster your fingers can move when they have to. If you hear a mistake keep the right hand moving and make your corrections while keeping time. Playing along with a recording is also a good way to force yourself to stay in time.

Try Two Types of Practice Sessions.

Divide your practice time between two types of sessions. First, play for accuracy and stop when you hear a mistake. Go back and repeat those transitions that are slow over and over. For the next session, pretend that you are performing and force yourself to keep the right hand patterns going, even if the chord

Fingering Matters.

Often, simply changing the fingering of a chord can make the changes quicker. If you are using printed music, check the tab or chord boxes first. If a fingering isn’t given, experiment with different combinations. Using the wrong fingering can sometimes make it impossible to make the chord changes in time. 9.

Memorize.

When you are not using your eyes, your hearing becomes more acute. When your brain knows where you are going and you don’t have to look ahead in the music, your ears can take over. To memorize a piece, try practicing in sections. We are always taught to go back to the beginning when practicing. However, you need to have a solid understanding of sections, patterns, and progressions that occur in the music. 10.

Don’t Think So Much.

This may sound funny, but after following all these steps, it’s time to let your fingers take over. The best thing you can do is just enjoy the music and the process. After a while, the less you focus on building speed, the more you will let the music flow.

about the educator Suzan Mazer

Susan is a well-respected educator, author, and performer known especially for her intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. She studied with Benji Aronoff, a protégé of Doc Watson, and received her Bachelor of Music degree at Hartt School of Music and Masters in Music at Boston University. Susan was the first female guitar instructor to teach at the National Guitar Workshop and currently teaches for the Crown of the Continent festival and workshop. Susan has been performing for the last 20 years and now plays with the Keith and Mazer Trio.

View Susan’s course library

RIFF

31


Lessons Lessons Written By: Jeff Scheetz

SKILL LEVEL - INTERMEDIATE

Use What You Know: Spice up your licks! When looking for new licks or ideas, I think the best place to start is with what you already know

F

eeling like you have to learn a whole new thing can be daunting, but just feeling like you are taking something you know and modifying it a bit seems more manageable.

So with that in mind, let’s look at our old friend (and/or nemesis) the minor pentatonic scale. I often hear students say they are bored with the pentatonics and need to learn “new scales.” Before we jump completely to the new scale scenario, lets take the minor pentatonic and see what additional notes we can drop in there. For this lick we are going to add the Major 6th to the minor pentatonic scale. The minor pentatonic is of course built from the 1, b3, 4, 5, and b7. Sometimes we can actually replace the b7 with the 6 – but in this case we are just adding the 6 and keeping the b7 in there. Why this Major 6th is so killer when used in a blues over the IV chord is because it is also the Major 3rd of the IV chord! Confusing? Not really, lets take a look. This lick is using our G minor pentatonic scale consisting of the notes G, Bb, C, D, and F. Then we add the Major 6th in there which is the E note. When we go to the IV chord in a G blues, C9, that chord has the notes C, E, G, Bb, and D in it. So you can see that the E note is that Major 6th we added to the G minor pentatonic scale. This note works over the G chord as well – but is especially poignant when played as the chords change to the C9 because it becomes the sweet sounding Major 3rd of the C9 making the lick very melodic. The first example is just the G minor pentatonic scale with the 6th added in. Then in the lick example, you can start on the downbeat of the I chord (G7), and you will end the lick with the last note on the downbeat of the IV chord (C9) giving you that chord’s Major 3rd. Play this lick slowly and then gradually speed it up, and eventually move it to different spots on the neck. This is where really knowing your fretboard is a huge help as you don’t have to learn a bunch of different patterns, you just need to know the regular G minor pentatonic and then know where the E notes are around that to add in the 6th. Have fun with this one – you can really create some interesting sounds with it!

soloing Blues

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licks phrasing


minor Pentatonic pentatonic Scale G GMinor Scalewith With6th 6th Standard tuning

Standard tuning

= 120 Example 1

E-Gt

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about the educator Jeff Scheetz Jeff is the Director of Education at TrueFire. He has released 8 CDs of original music. His name has been on the Ernie Ball Super Slinky string package. He has authored 6 video courses for TrueFire and written a guitar instructional book and CD.He has toured the US, Europe and Mexico, and performed over 300 guitar clinics worldwide for Yamaha guitars. He has been featured in Guitar, Guitar Player, Guitar School, and Guitar World magazines, as well as numerous magazines in Japan and Europe

View Jeff’s course library

RIFF

33


Lessons Lessons Written by: Chris Buono

SKILL LEVEL - ADVANCED

Cool Encounters with the 7 G 9 A trio of clever ideas that are all about the 7#9 and will sound great in your next jam session

H

ello from Toms River, NJ! In this lesson I’m going to share with you some very cool encounters I had recently that involved the infamous 7#9 (AKA the Jimi Hendrix chord) with newly Grammy-crowned guitarist Bob Lanzetti of Snarky Puppy, jamband rock star Rob Compa of Dopapod and the great Oz Noy. After this lesson you’re sure to come away with a whole new take on what the 7#9 can do for your music. To make sure we’re all on the same page, we’ll first take a quick look at what makes the 7#9 what it is. Then I’ll hip you to a trio of clever ideas that are all about the 7#9 and will sound great in your next jam session.

The 7#9 seen in Fig. 1 – in this case an E7#9 – is a dominant chord at heart. Looking at the bottom three notes starting from the 5th string, 7th fret you’ll see an E7 (no 5th) spelled E, G#, D, which in chord tones from the E root is 1, 3, b7 respectively. That chord alone is of great value to us serving myriad functions in rock, blues, funk and jazz among other styles. But, the real magic happens when you add the #9 tension (G) as seen here on the 2nd string, 8th fret. Now you have a sinister, yet completely cool sounding chord that’s surprisingly versatile. What makes the 7#9 function so effectively and sound so good is a three-part equation: AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

improvisation rock

blues

FIG. 1

theory funk


1.

First, within this dominant-based chord are both major and minor 3rds against the root. While the aforementioned G in the E7#9 is rightfully a #9 due to the distance from the root, it is also a compound minor 3rd. This is great stuff for an improviser who likes to construct lines that employ both 3’s and b3’s, while still providing a fresh harmonic backdrop for a more straight minor pentatonic approach.

2.

With regards to this go-to voicing of 7#9, omitting the root creates an instance of stacked 4ths or quartal harmony, which is always a great inside or outside sounding platform. From the 3rd you have a stack of augmented 4th (G#-D) and perfect 4th (D-G) intervals giving you a maj7sus#4 sound. Speaking of major 7 sounds…

3.

That’s right: The interval between the 3 and #9 is a major 7th – not what you thought you would see coming within a dom7 chord that’s meant to propel the sound of a b7! The sophisticated nature of the major 7 interval plays an ironic role in the raucous character of the 7#9 making it a very intriguing chord. Now that you have some background on the 7#9 let’s check out some riffage… I was recently part of a fundraising event for my dear friend John Clarizio where I put together a group of fantastic musicians that included Bob Lanzetti of Snarky Puppy who is a mutual former student of ours. While waiting to take the stage, Bob and I were considering some vamps to play where we can trade some licks. One was this sneaky four bar Fm vamp (Ex. 1) lifted from a Snarky Puppy tune called “Young Stuff” from their groundUP release where a 7#9 was used to masterfully bridge two diatonic chords in a progression that follows the stellar bass solo played by leader and principal composer, Michael League.

YOUNG STUFF

EX. 1

Snarky Puppy Young Stuff

Standard tuning

Music By Michael League

Following the tonic Fm (i-7) harmony in bar 1 you’ll notice a D7#9 (bII7#9 or V7alt.) in bar 2. This aptly sets up the Dbmaj7 (bVImaj7) in bar 3, which smoothly flows into Bbmin7 (iv-7) in bar 4 making for a great set of changes. The function of D7#9 in this case is a tritone sub of Ab7 that resolves to Dbmaj7 providing a nice flow of tight voice-led chords ala Steely Dan.

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Just a few weeks ago another former student, Rob Compa of Dopapod, was rolling through Asbury Park on tour, when I was invited to sit in with them. Example 2 is an excerpt from one of the tunes I played called “Roid Rage” from the album Drawn Onward where the guitar lays down some sizzling licks over a driving groove that’s followed by a tantalizing descending progression of 7#9 chords creating an addictive call & response between the melody and chord riff your ear just can’t enough of. Following the pentatonic ideas in bars 1-2 you’ll see a progression of four 7#9 chords! Stating with A7#9

Roid Rage

EX. 2

Dopapod Drawn Onward

Standard tuning

Music by Eli Winderman

the chords embark on a descending minor 3rd journey to F#7#9 and Eb7#9 that shifts gears to a half step descending movement ending on D7#9 making for curveball of a turnaround back to the tonic tonality. You’d be hard pressed to find another chord that can pull this off. The final example ups the ante in both syncopation and fretboard movement in this two bar riff from an Oz Noy tune called “Schizophrenic” from his album of the same name. We played this tune together along with Keith Carlock and Steve Jenkins (my rhythm section for an upcoming TrueFire course). Once again the 7#9 is on the case and doing what it does best as seen in Example 3.

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Schizophrenic

EX. 3

Oz Noy Schizophrenic

Standard tuning

Music by Oz Noy

After the twists and turns Oz’s tune takes in true Oz Noy fashion, you hear this deceptive resolution point at the end of the head preceding the solos that sounds epic to say the least. Notice similar intervallic movements with Ex. 2, this time with half steps starting it off as the chords go up and down between G7#9 and Ab7#9 only to drop down a minor 3rd to E7#9. After making the jump down a 4th to B7#9 you make a final upward minor 3rd jump to D7#9 where the tune exercises a moment of space before the improvisation starts. Considering the virile nature of the soloing that this tune influences this progression of 7#9 chords serves up the perfect segue. While the 7#9 is usually viewed as a staple for one chord funk jams as well as the quintessential Hendrix harmonic device in more than a few of his classics, you can now see it’s much more than that. Jam with these ideas and then be sure to compose your own 7#9-laced ideas. Use these three examples as catalysts and explore how you can make the 7#9 serve as a cool substitute, a hip-sounding response idea or a menacing two bar vamp that takes over your listeners ears.

about the educator Chris Buono Chris Buono has been called many things: arcane improviser, sound diabolist, fearless composer, content junkie, video stunt guitarist, crazed educator and the list goes on. If you’re looking for simpler terms you can go with recording artist (Lava/Atlantic, Lion Music, RKM/Kindred and more), sideman (Karsh Kale, Bumblefoot, Graham Haynes and many more), educator (TrueFire, Berklee College of Music), music journalist/columnist (Guitar Player, Guitar One, Just Jazz Guitar to name a few), and author (Hal Leonard, Alfred, Cengage Learning). Call him what you want, but one thing is certain this cat is bad-ass and busy. Chris Buono infiltrates the modern world of guitar from all directions and shows no signs of slowing down.

View Chris’ course library RIFF

37


advanced

Lessons Lessons Written by: Richard Gilewitz

Fingerstyle Warm Up

SKILL LEVEL - LATE BEGINNER

acoustic fingerpicking

interactive

exercises

Right-handed techniques

Your go-to warm up exercise

A

frequent question I’ve been asked during guitar workshops, clinics, or private sessions has been related to what warm up exercises do I use. I always replied with somewhat of a varied manner because I didn’t have a specific one as I warm up in many different ways depending on the setting – anything from a live television or radio appearance, a concert, a recording situation, or a solo practice session. The variations include some slide guitar on the 12 string, a fragment of a tune that poses a challenge or requires attention, or a mental practice prior to a performance as I plan what I might start with along with the couple of follow up tunes with my usual chatter. But it recently occurred to me that there has always been one particular exercise I have used in every situation; a natural warm up so commonly done by me that it must have flown under my consciousness radar. It’s one of the E minor arpeggio studies by Dionisio Aguado, which is a bit more in depth in its full form than what I require for this warm up exercise. For now, I will provide a shorter portion of the study with the first eight bars to illustrate what allows me to navigate to the spot where I need to be before any performing or practice session. With this exercise, the metronome is crucial and here is what I suggest when indulging in this effort. Play exactly four notes of the first bar which includes strings 6, 3, 2 and 1 with your picking fingers thumb, index, middle and ring (known as p, i, m, and a). Set your metronome click on 64 (or slower if you need to) and listen for the thumb to strike on the first click and the ring finger (a) to strike on the 2nd click. Notice there will be two notes played between the first two clicks (i and m). After this, allow for two clicks to occur on the metronome before repeating the exercise.

1.

Play the first bar in its entirety followed by only the first note of the 2nd bar, which is string 6, fret 3 and played with the 4th or pinky finger. Listen for the click as in exercise 1 on the bass string and the first string and then again now on the bass string with that 4th finger down. Now allow for only one click before repeating the effort.

2.

Add bars to your practice sessions, adjust the metronome slightly up and down, play with your eyes closed, follow your breathing, accent your thumb to sometimes strike harder or softer to develop independent finger control for more dynamic attacks and most importantly, make this a daily effort and treat it almost as a meditative session to prepare and tune your body as it gets ready to play.

3.

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Minor Pentatonic Lick With 6th arpeggio exercise fragment ArpeggioDionisio Exercise - Fragment Aguago for TrueFire Aug 2014

Standard tuning

Dionisio Aguado

Standard tuning

Tab Edited by Richard Gilewitz

TablEdited by Richard Gilewitz

= 70

      1   E-Gt   E minor

T A B

    





   3 

left hand fingers above 4

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     

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continue picking pattern

i

                          1

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about the educator Richard Gilewitz For over three decades guitarist Richard Gilewitz has charmed audiences with road tales and right-hand wizardry, creating a sparkle of mood mastery and wonderment. Fondly noted as one of the strangest men in acoustic music, Richard lives up to this depiction with rousing shows filled with hot chops, humor, and guitar history from blues to folk, traditional to classical. He fascinates listeners with 6 and 12-string finger gymnastics and spins enchanting yarns of a seasoned raconteur while his signature style delivers technical diversity of banjo style patterns and classical arpeggios with a rhythmic percussive approach.

View Richard’s course library RIFF

39


Lessons Lessons Written by: Dave Celentano

SKILL LEVEL - LATE INTERMEDIATE

hammer-ons

harmonic minor

alternate picking

mozart

“Rondo” by Mozart Mozart meets rock-n-roll

I

nevitably every guitarist hits a plateau or feels stuck in a rut with his or her playing. One sure way to give your playing a boost in these times is to learn something outside of your chosen musical genre and playing style. When this happens to me, I’ll dig into the vast library of classical music and find a piece that grabs my ear, then transcribe it and work out comfortable and efficient fingerings that are playable on electric guitar. In fact, my TrueFire course, Classical Concepts For Rock Guitar, uses several familiar classical tunes to help develop sweep picking, tapping, hybrid picking, pedal points and other essential techniques and concepts. Electric guitarists have been quoting classical themes for decades. For instance, in the late ‘60’s the band Jethro Tull did a progressive rock arrangement of

AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

J.S. Bach’s “Bourree” in E minor and Procol Harum used the melody from Bach’s “Air on the G String” for their hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” In the ‘70’s Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore and the Scorpions Uli Roth raised the bar by incorporating classical themes in their solo improvisations, but it was guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhodes, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, Vinnie Moore, and Tony Macalpine in the ‘80’s who pushed the envelope through the roof, defining a new genre called “NeoClassical.” Today bands like Symphony X and Trans Siberian Orchestra carry on the tradition. For this lesson I’ve chosen an excerpt from “Rondo” by Mozart (not included on my Classical Concepts For Rock Guitar course). Rondo is a lively piece originally written for piano and this version features the right


hand part arranged for electric guitar. I give this piece to my students to work on their alternate picking, hammerons, and pull-offs. It’s also a great study using the harmonic minor scale in the key of A. In this tune we’ll explore an efficient way of playing fast sixteenth notes by combining alternate picking with hammer-ons and pull-offs (the first five notes illustrate this basic concept). The tricky “grace notes” in bars 4-6 are played very fast using hammer-ons with the middle and pinkie fingers, and played just ahead of the beat so

"Rondo"by M ozart rondo

transcribed forelectricguitarby DaveCelentano Standard tuning

Standard tuning

Transcribed for Electric Guitar by Dave Celentano

= 136

1

E-Gt

16

14

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that the 19th fret note lands square on the down of beat “one.” For the super fast trill in the final bar you’ll need to rapidly hammer-on and pull-off with index and middle fingers as fast and evenly as possible for one beat before resolving to the final “A.” Practice tip - break down the tune into small chunks and learn one at a time, then begin connecting the sections. Start by connecting the first two chunks and work on developing a smooth transition. You may have to rehearse this move fifty times or more before you see results. Do not add a third section until the first two can be performed flawlessly! And one more thing…practice this with a metronome at a slow enough tempo to ensure accuracy and clarity for all notes. Until next time, keep those fingers flying!

Are you thirsty for more? Check out Niccolo Paganini’s “24 Caprices” for violin, J.S. Bach’s “Works For Violin,” “The Well-Tempered Clavier” for piano, and “Two-Part Inventions” for piano. These recommendations contain a wealth of music that can be adapted for guitar and are great for working on sight-reading music.

“Canon” by Pachelbel

“Flight of the Bumble Bee”

“Toccata and Fugue”

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16

14

13

14

"Rondo"by M ozart

7

transcribed forelectricguitarby DaveCelentano Standard tuning 20

17

20

Standard tuning

20 18 17

= 136

(rondo continued)

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Dave 17 18Celentano 20 17

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13 15 19 Dave Celentano has written over fifty guitar instruction/music transcription books, CDs, DVDs, and internet tutorials for Hal Leonard Corporation, Music Sales, Cherry Lane Music, Centerstream Publications, TrueFire.com, and Star Licks, and teaches private and group guitar lessons in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, Dave has three solo CDs: “Guitar Stew”, “Wicked Music Box”, and “Desert Storm” that can by heard/purchased on iTunes, iHeart Radio, CDBaby and Spotify. Currently, Dave is playing guitar with the Los Angeles based blues/rock band ‘Soul Core’. 13 17View 17Dave’s

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TECH TALK

MUST HAVE APPS FOR GUITARISTS Written By Zach Wendkos

T AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

he music industry as we know it is being revolutionized constantly by technology, and the old (or is it new?) adage “there’s an app for that” certainly applies to pretty much everything in the guitar world, whether it be recording a song, learning a new lick or trick, using pedal effects, or even playing the instrument itself. But just because you can pretty much become a one-man band with nothing but an iPhone in your hands doesn’t necessarily mean you should put your ‘60 Gibson Les Paul up for sale on eBay just yet. Instead, check out these 5 guitar apps, pick up that ol’ trusty axe, and combine their powers to become a Renaissance man of modern music-making.


Lick of the Day - Free

Lick of the Day is a must-have iOS app for guitar players who want to continuously improve their skills and broaden their repertoire in a fun and engaging way. Lick of the Day delivers an immersive learning experience, combining video lessons from skilled instructors with matching interactive tab/notation, text narrative and backing tracks.

GuitarToolKit - $9.99

GuitarToolkit is a collection of essential guitar tools for your iOS device. An extremely accurate tuner, a precision metronome, more than two million chords, scales and arpeggios -- GuitarToolkit has it all and tons more. It’s so good, Apple inducted GuitarToolkit in the App Store Hall of Fame. Wow.

Ultimate Guitar Tabs - $2.99

Ultimate Guitar Tabs is an easy and convenient applicatixon for viewing guitar tabs on your iPhone or iPod Touch. This is the only mobile application giving you unlimited access to the world’s largest database of tabs from UltimateGuitar.com. Use this intuitive viewer to browse the collection of over 400,000 Tabs and then learn or practice your favorite songs wherever you are!

AmpKit - $19.99

AmpKit transforms your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch into a powerful guitar amp and effects studio! It is by far the most intuitive, easy-to-use app of its kind, for beginner and expert alike. The app offers the broadest range of available gear via its in-app Gear Store - a total of 114 available amp channels, cabinets, pedals and mics. No other app can match the ease of use, tone quality or gear selection that you’ll find in AmpKit.

TabToolkit - $3.99

TabToolkit for iOS is a powerful tab and music notation viewer with multi-track audio playback. The app includes an audio synthesis engine that lets you listen to and control the audio for individual instrument tracks. TabToolkit makes learning how to play your favorite songs on guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and other instruments easier and more fun. RIFF

45


STUDIOWIRE

Preserving the Magic: Home Studio Tutorial Part 1 A Three-Part Story on Home-Studio Recording Written By: Tommy Jamin

W

ith the explosion of affordable digital recording equipment in the mid- to late-90s, the audio-tech industry ushered in a new era of music producers and creators: the weekend warriors, the college dorm-room engineers and the GarageBand gurus. It was the dawn of a new Renaissance for young music creators. For the cost of a decent home computer, digital audio workstation software and a microphone or two, we were buying “pro” recording gear and the dream of self-publishing our own music...heck, we could even burn our own demo CDs! Things have come a long way since those days, but the home-based production studio is here to stay. Most every commercial artist has their own place to work at home to cut demos and scratch out song ideas. For aspiring or hobbyist musicians and singersongwriters, it’s a simple matter of economics, and these days, some of us are even giving commercial studios a run for their money. Anyone remember Cubase VST recording software? I picked up a copy of Version 4 at Sam Ash Music and installed it on my computer, a first-generation Power Macintosh G4 in 1999. I was off to the races, but even in those days, my ears could hear the inherent rubbish in the audio I was capturing. I was running my guitars and basses straight into the sound card, and of course it was coloring the sound…alot - like the way my 4 year-old daughter colors things. I’m not knocking Cubase software at all (it had nothing to do with the software), but the approach I took toward recording was amateurish all the way, and no matter how amazing my tunes may have been, I definitely didn’t impress anyone with the sound quality on those early CDs. Ever heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out?” Exactly. Here are solutions that function great in today’s environment and which help enhance the quality of the final product:

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3 Top Digital Audio Workstations for Home Producers There are many different options available these days. Pricing will range anywhere from free, to tens of thousands of dollars depending on how elaborate a system you go with. Like with any creative tools though, you’ll likely want to interface with other producers somewhere along the way, so sticking with one of the industry standards is always a good way to go. Most DAWs offer either a demo or some sort of limited, inexpensive version too, so try before you buy. The key thing is to get a dedicated audio interface along with the software:

Avid’s Pro Tools with M-Box Pro Interface | $999

For those who are willing to spend a bit more, this is your gateway to a professional recording package. Pro Tools is the industry standard for a lot of reasons, but its biggest advantage is the ability to easily transition sessions from your home studio to just about any pro studio in the world for further production and back again. This package includes not only software, but also an audio interface to get the best out of your instruments and mics. Want a little extra value? Do a little searching and you might find a package that includes a slightly limited version of the software in exchange for some powered monitors, microphones and more all for around this same price…

Apple’s Logic Pro | $199

You’ll need to snag an interface to go along, but this is a great option especially if you’ve already spent time playing with Apple’s bundled DAW GarageBand, and are ready for the next step towards a fullfeatured software studio. Logic has long been a favorite of keyboardbased producers because of its excellent selection of software synths and instruments, but it also offers an excellent recording/production alternative for those who are especially keen on Apple’s intuitive approach to pro-level creative software.

Ableton Live | $799

Again, you’ll still need an interface, but Ableton has always been designed with live performance functionality in the forefront of its interface. You’ll find everything that you need to tweak plugins, sequence and mix will all fit easily on a single laptop screen. If you’re interested in incorporating some pre-produced elements in your live shows, but also want a reputable DAW to produce your tunes with, Ableton might be the right pick for you.

Next time we’ll have a look at 3 Plug-ins That (when applied with taste) Won’t Trash Your Tracks

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ARTIST FEATURE

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Written By: Brad Wendkos

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AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

want more? view Bill’s courses on truefire

Art by Bill Evans Photos Courtesy of: www.billevanssax.com


I

spent hours and hours Googling Bill Evans before my first call with him. We were scheduled to discuss his TrueFire session and I wanted to learn as much about him as I could for a couple of reasons. First off, we’ve never worked with a saxophone player before and the instrument was well out of my scope of expertise. But I also wanted to learn more about Bill himself, and the deeper I dug, the more curious I became.

charming, funny and ultra cool person (great golfer too!). Plus, he was majorly excited to do a course for guitar players because he’s played with so many of them and felt he had much to pass along. And pass along he did…The Language of Improvisation, Bill’s first TrueFire course, went platinum here with a bullet and students say they learned as much, if not more, about improvisation from this master saxophone player than any of our other guitar-centric courses on the topic.

Wherever Google led me chronologically, I found credits and accolades that blew me away. Go back to the 80’s and you’ll find Bill playing with Miles Davis for three years, followed by a stint with John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. Google up more current activities and you’ll find Bill on stage with the Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks, Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGee, or co-leading European tours with Robben Ford or Randy Brecker.

The guitar player was one of my first drawings...I’m not sure of what he was playing, sorry. Search a date range anywhere in between and you’ll see pages filled with glowing reviews and Grammy nods for Bill’s own recordings (almost 20 albums to date!) and projects with Michael Franks, Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Les McCann, Mark Egan, Danny Gottlieb, Ian Anderson, Randy Brecker and Medeski, Martin, and Wood. So, I’ll admit I was a little nervous before our first call. I knew next to nothing about the saxophone and this guy actually started his career playing with Miles Davis and then continued to progress up the ladder of musical accomplishments ever since. What interest would he have messing around with an eager bunch of guitar students?! It took less than 60 seconds on the phone to allay all of my apprehensions. Search all gazillion pages of Google and you won’t find a more friendly, humble,

Guitar players have been copping lines from sax players forever. Bill gave us a ton to work with and of course we transcribed them all just to make it easier for all of us. I asked Bill what we should focus on in this article; so many possibilities across his notable musical career. We could talk about his music, some of the great players he’s worked with, some of his road stories — so many options. True to his inimitable improvisational form, Bill took a left turn…”that’s easy,” he said. “Let’s talk about painting.”

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BE - “I’ve been going to Japan every year since 1981. A friend of mine (bassist Mark Egan) told me that Chris Parker (drummer and watercolor artist) goes to Japan and sells a lot of watercolors at his gigs there. So, I thought, “I can do that too!” Well, I’ve never painted before, but I had 6 weeks to learn before my annual tour of Japan and I thought I could come up with something that people might buy as a souvenir. I tried painting everything I could think of and failed miserably. I tried to paint landscapes, rural country scenes, portraits, you name it, and it all looked like bad abstract art, or something a child would paint in art class. I then started to paint caricatures of musicians, and all of a sudden, the paintings started looking pretty good…lots of color and action. I painted guitar players, trumpet players, drummers, all kinds of players. I had no training whatsoever and so you could say it was a “fresh” look. <laughs out loud> I also painted some collages of saxophones, guitars and abstracts. I sold all 75 paintings that I brought with me! And they were not cheap! Following that experience, I became passionately interested in really learning how to paint. I couldn’t stop. I would spend hours some days, painting and painting and painting. I found something really special that connected with the same part of my brain that music does. And now I’m hooked for life! I painted the dragonfly picture on my Dragonfly CD cover, and I painted an abstract for my new live CD coming out in October called Soulgrass Live in Moscow.  A great painter named Lien Zhen showed me a technique of painting that was really expressive and free flowing that just blew me away, like hearing a great piece of music. I feel the same passion for painting as I do when writing new songs.  Try it — you just might also find a new passion in your life!”

During lunch on Friday (after a round of golf with the boys), Bill got a last-minute call to join the Allman Brothers in concert the following night. Pretty impressive. Even more impressive was the photo he sent us after the concert of him wearing a TrueFire t-shirt on stage at the concert. How cool is that?! Bill, we owe ya another round of golf for that one!

www.billevanssax.com

AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1


I always wanted to see what a pile of colored saxophones would look like...so I drew them. Now I know.


ARTIST FEATURE

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Written By Brad Wendkos

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A

lot of people complain about having to attend or work the NAMM show. I can certainly sympathize if you have to work a booth and schmooze dealers for five long days under an ear-splitting cacophony of instruments being sampled and demonstrated simultaneously. Fortunately, TrueFire doesn’t exhibit because we don’t market our products through dealers or distributors, only direct to students anywhere and everywhere in the world. So we get to mosey around the show floor to our heart’s delight and when the noise gets too heavy, we slip outside for some fresh California air or an afternoon beach-bike ride in Santa Monica.  I love exploring NAMM’s exhibit halls — it’s a Disneyland for musicians. Hall E is my personal favorite, because that’s where the smaller and newer companies exhibit, and that’s where the best stuff is found: master luthiers galore, innovative pedal makers, boutique amps, and all kinds of cool accessories. It’s also a lot quieter down there!

My personal best find? I met Vicki Genfan there in Hall E. She was playing at a small booth along the end wall of the hall. I heard her from two aisles over and she “Pied Pipered” me directly to her with her irresistibly funky percussive tap/slap magic. As I got closer, I recognized her from one of the promo photos we were using for Muriel Anderson’s All Star Guitar Night, a benefit concert we produce at every NAMM show and which show Vicki was going to be performing at two nights later. Muriel was featuring seven world-class female guitar players at the show, all of whom were representing La Guitara (www.pattylarkin.com/laguitara), a project sparked by Patty Larkin. Vicki, Patty and Muriel were performing along with Kaki King, Mimi Fox, Jennifer Batten and Ellen Mcllwain. The artistry and virtuosity of these seven women triggered out-of-body experiences for every member of that standing-roomonly concert (treat yourself to a front row seat of that show here:

Vicki Genfan: ASGN Live 2006

Back to Hall E and Vicki…we introduced ourselves, made the All Star connection, and without further ado, I dropped to my knees and begged her to do a project with us (yes, I am not too proud to beg). She said she’d think about it and that was good enough for me at the moment. A couple of nights later at the show, Vicki performed one of her signature tunes, “Atomic Reshuffle” and the room went berserk. Backstage I begged her again to do a project with us. She said she’d think about it and that was good enough for me at the moment. A year or so later, Vicki entered Guitar Player magazine’s Guitar Superstar competition and performed “Atomic Reshuffle” in the final round. Celebrity judges included Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Elliott Easton, Brendan Smalls and George Lynch. The only female player amongst ten very gifted finalists, Vicki won the whole enchilada. 

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Photos By: Alison Hasbach

Vicki mesmerized the audience and the judges â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not just with her stunning technique, but also with her musicality and charisma. Even though she wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t playing an electric guitar plugged into a raging amplifier, she still managed to capture the unmistakable vibe of a true guitar star.

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Guitar Player’s editor-in-chief Michael Molenda is also a big fan, “Vicki mesmerized the audience and the judges — not just with her stunning technique, but also with her musicality and charisma. Even though she wasn’t playing an electric guitar plugged into a raging amplifier, she still managed to capture the unmistakable vibe of a true guitar star.” I called Vicki to congratulate her on the big win and again begged her to do a TrueFire project. She said she’d think about it and that was good enough for me at the moment. Now don’t get me wrong, Vicki wasn’t being elusive or playing hard to get. Quite the contrary. Anything and everything Vicki does is thought out and planned with exacting precision. Vicki just wanted to be sure that she had the curriculum fully mapped out before committing. Ultimately my begging led to Vicki mapping out

3D Acoustic Guitar, her first TrueFire course and a masterful instructional of her extraordinary technique. My favorite video in the course is the performance of her magnificent “Atomic Reshuffle” — check it out here:

Vicki Genfan: Atomic Reshuffle

Vicki’s musicality and inimitable guitar prowess is welldocumented with hundreds of accolades in the media and tons of amazing videos on YouTube. What you won’t discover there is why we love her as much as we do. That’s why I’d like to share the attached video that we shot together interview style in the studio after the work was done. They’ll give you a glimpse of the person behind the artist and the soul behind the music.

www.vickigenfan.com AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1


want more? view Vickiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s courses on truefire

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AUTUMN || ISSUE I


Written By: Matthieu Brandt RIFF

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want more? view Mattâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s courses on truefire


For The Record

M

aking music for a living is the dream of many ambitious young adults with a mild case of talent, some time on their hands and with the dream of fame and fortune as the engine. Do some gigs, record albums, sell them and engulf yourself in the adulation that is rightfully yours. Not easy, but worth a shot if you’re ambitious enough. Central was always the record. Every band, every artist needed one. It was the vehicle on the road to stardom.

But nowadays record sales have plummeted to all time lows. Spotify, YouTube and illegal downloads have made making money off of cd’s hard if not impossible .The haystack of available music through Internet and Itunes is bound to obscure your beautiful and expensive needle. The very few ‘lucky’ bands and artists that do get signed, only get a 360 degree contract. Their biggest money maker is t-shirts and other forms of merchandising; not records. Musicians have to rethink why they are doing what they’re doing. Does making records still make sense?

A Brief History We sometimes forget that making money with music is a relatively recent development, meaning only about a century old. In the Western World before the 20th century, earning your keep with music was the prerogative of a very small elite class (classical music) or the hobo outcast (folk music). To perform music was the only way to make money for musicians, aside from distributing compositions on paper. Because of this music was primarily “local.” If you wanted to hear music you went to the local juke joint or to church on Sunday. If you wanted to learn how to play yourself, your teacher was the local stable hand with a beat up six string or the preacher. Your reach as a performing musician was limited to where you could travel. Radio and records changed all of that. Radio has only been around since the early 20th century and records were invented around 1920. Both had a huge impact on the availability of music. Radio was a new way to sell washing powder door to door, interrupted by Presidential speeches, Opera and easy to digest Louis Armstrong. Records made it possible to hear music without the actual orchestra, band or artist being present. Records also made it easier to learn about music from other areas of the country and music from other cultures. The ‘local’ aspect was removed, which also made it easier to study non-local music styles and learn how to play them. Contrary to the tall tale of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil, he probably learned to play from records; just like we do nowadays. The tale is just plain old marketing savvy. Records became an almost overnight hit. Blues and other forms of folk music are largely responsible for the success of the 78 record. Through 78’s it was possible to hear music that was not mainstream. Many up-to-then obscure local artists “profited” RIFF

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For The Record

ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V1

from this new mass medium. That is: the record companies and producers profited. Most artists remained poor until the recording ban of the mid 40’s. Artists went on strike to get their fair share in the shape of royalties, i.e. a percentage of sales. Putting musicians on stage and rewarding them for their ability to entertain us is a thing of all times. Records and royalties provided a new business model for aspiring musicians, promoters and retailers. Recording an album became a way to capitalize on “live” success for the mildly popular artist. The rise of the middle class in the last century gave birth to a another new phenomenon: spare time. Time that’s not needed for hunting and gathering. Time we can devote to plucking strings, blowing horns and yodeling. Compliments of family members and the odd filling of the tip jar would suggest that there are fortunes to be made and fame to be had. Why not give it a shot? Why not record an album?

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For a short period of time getting a record deal looked like the way to go for a musician in search of a career. The music industry actually became a somewhat viable career option from the mid 50’s to end of the 90’s. For a musician this meant making lp’s/cd’s and selling them to pay your bills.The gig became a means to support and promote the sales of records. The advent of the internet, downloading and the sheer mass of bands and artists that produce records (spare time!) has killed this business model. Aside from niche music and middle of the road sing-along’s there is no money in selling records anymore, whatever form they may have (LP, CD, MP3). Music as reverberating air is going the way of regular air. It’s everywhere, so it’s gotta be free, right? If nobody pays you and you’re invisible, you don’t have a career. Or… you adjust to the new reality and make it work for you.

So now what There is no use crying over spilt milk. The rapid developments in the music business force an artist to


For The Record

go with the flow and be creative with challenges and opportunities. Records (as in CD’s) have now become a marketing tool or a piece of l’art pour l’art. And this development is not a bad thing per sé. Many artists and bands taking aim at our wallets have found out the hard way that easy money is a thing of the past. Many sacrificed artistry and avoided originality all for the mighty buck and “look-at-me-look-at-me.” They let their creative output be influenced by record producers and managers. They sold out. When you take out the middle man and produce and distribute directly to your fan base you can shape the product in any way you want it to.Taking money out of the music creation process means you have your freedom back to do just that. Which puts the focus back on where it needs to be: writing, playing and recording good music. For many musicians these new developments mean going back to “local”; just for family & friends at the corner bar. Others will reach their own niche, through Soundcloud, Facebook, and YouTube friends

scattered across the globe. A creative use of new tools like a band website, email-marketing and Twitter can widen your audience by targeting groups of people that are open to your style of music; not just the general market. There are tons of specialised internet radio stations, you can create Podcasts and quirky music videos on Vimeo to support your music, there are loads of internet music magazines, etc. And if the bass player gets married and gets off the road, well then, it’s easier to find a replacement by searching the net.

Written by Matthieu Brandt

Leaves the question: why still make records? READ WHY

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1 2 3 4

To get the gig Nobody will hire a band or a solo artist unheard. When you go to the corner bar to do some person-to-person sales, there is no replacement for immediacy. You hand the booker the CD, he pops it in and you can make your pitch. Other forms of selling are less direct and require more technology (YouTube, Spotify, download cards, mp3 through website, etc.).

To become a better player There is NO substitute to recording yourself and listen back to what/how you played. You have listened to tens of thousands of hours of music and know what sounds good and what sounds s#!77y, or well…not so good. Finishing it off into a piece of hardware, labeling it and putting a wrapper around it forces you to say “I’m done, this is it, this is who I am at this particular point of time”.

To make money Think small! CD-R’s have become dirt cheap, you can print your own labels and sleeves Nowadays you can buy excellent recording equipement and mics for a song and a dance. Mixing and mastering is not rocket science and can be learned through YouTube instructionals. With some standard computer hardware at home you can create a CD for less than $3 including sleeve.

To interact with your audience Selling a physical CD at the gig gives fans a great way to interact with you. It gives them a reason to come and talk to you, share their enthousiasm and give you well meant tips. Follow-up gigs are easier to nail down with a CD in hand.


5 6 7 8 9 10

Higher fidelity An mp3 is compressed audio. Although most streaming services, iTunes et al have recently raised the quality of the mp3’s (less compression, bigger files), there is nothing like the real thing. Most listeners will barely notice the difference when music is played back through small earbuds. But in a car- or home stereo system you will hear the better quality of a physical CD.

For the liner notes Mp3’s don’t have a sleeve or a cover. There’s no room for credits, liner notes, dedications, back ground stories, lyrics, art work or thank-you’s.

For the whole story An album has roughly the duration of one set; somewhere between 10 and 15 songs, lasting between 40 minutes and an hour. Most musicians stories last longer than one song. There’s buildup- songs, there’s the climax, the hit and the cooldown tunes

To have a buisiness card By having a physical CD you show your audience, bookers, promoters and radio dj’s that you took the effort. It ligitimizes your business and shows you are committed to your music and take it seriously.

To create a snapshot diary of your musical life Only people at the gig remember the gig. Over time that memory will fade. You will forget the fun, the disasters, your stellar solo, the time you quieted the rough and beer throwing crowd with the sensitive ballad, the long and exhausting trip back home in the back of the van, the time you…Your prize cabinet needs to be filled with records and recordings. Don’t forget to take pictures and videos too.

To share and be heard This is your life, leave a footprint! When you record and send it out into the world you will be heard. I’m sure your music will be found by someone who’s day you’ve just made a little lighter.


ARTIST FEATURE

AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1


Written By: Brad Wendkos

B for Bennett. Stephen Bennett — the Tenacious B. I’ll explain the “tenacious” thing in a moment, but first let me set the stage. I attended my first Chet Atkin’s convention years ago. The Sheraton Music City hotel in Nashville was brimming with fingerstyle guitarists young and old, pro and amateur, teachers and students alike. Five or six meeting rooms featured a daily schedule of performances and workshops while the lobby and hotel suites accommodated groups of players jamming and sharing their favorite licks, tricks and fingerpicks. In the evening, they opened the dividers between the smaller meeting rooms to form a large concert hall where top world-class artists performed for everyone in attendance. All of it celebrated the life and music of Chet Atkins, the godfather of fingerstyle guitar and everyone’s primal source of inspiration.

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Photos Courtesy of Stephen Bennett

I’m not a fingerstyle guitarist (working on it though!), but I remember feeling like Indiana Jones discovering riches beyond his wildest dreams. Everywhere you turned someone was doing something so incredible on guitar that your eyes and ears couldn’t process quick enough what they were seeing or hearing. There was one particular artist that stopped me in my tracks and put me into a catatonic state of wonder. His music drew me in from the hall. He was playing this strange looking instrument with two necks and, God knows, how many strings going this way and that… looked like something from the Byzantine age. But the music he was making tweaked every emotional sensor in my being. I’d never heard anything like it and won’t even try to categorize it by style (the artist can’t even do that himself). I can tell you that his music literally intoxicated me then and continues to do so to this day. The artist’s name? Stephen Bennett. The instrument he was playing? Harp guitar. His music? Pure magic. I introduced myself to Stephen after the show. We both had big heads of silver hair with matching beards and that helped break the ice. Not that the ice had to be broken because Stephen couldn’t be cooler, easier to talk to, and more genuine. I took to him immediately and begged him to do a project with us. He said yes! We did several projects together including two on harp guitar. Consummate pro in the studio, such a pleasure to work with, and we had tons of laughs and deep discussions about the universe at large along the way. OK, lets get to the “tenacious” part… Although he rarely flatpicks today, Stephen was the National Flatpicking champion many years ago. You can only imagine what it takes to get your chops to that level, and why I would consider that “tenacious.” He then taught himself how to play fingerstyle guitar and today is not only a master fingerstyle player, he’s also a prolific and highly acclaimed fingerstyle composer and recording artist. Tenacious.

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He inherited his great grandfather’s harp guitar and then taught himself how to play, compose and perform on that instrument as well. Today, Stephen is highly respected as one of very few world-class harp guitar masters. Tenacious. Since 1988, Stephen’s recorded dozens of albums over the years…easily twice the number of any of his peers. All of his albums explore various musical interests and themes (two of my very favorites are IN-A-GADDA-DASTEPHEN and TEN, but please don’t start or stop there!). Tenacious. Speaking of albums, Stephen recently recorded the entire Nutcracker Ballet, performed by a guitar orchestra comprised of seventeen different acoustic and electric guitars, all of which he played himself. He spent two and half years working with the conductor’s score to perform and record everything you hear the orchestra play. Tenacious. Stephen’s had four major operations in the last 6 years: both kidneys were removed; he received a kidney transplant; he had major back surgery; and major hand surgery. During those six years, Stephen composed and

His style is very pure – just him with the guitar and a mic in front of him. He doesn’t need any more than that. - Tommy emmanuel

recorded eight new albums and filmed three monster interactive instructionals. Tenacious indeed. I had planned to focus this article on Stephen’s Nutcracker Ballet project, but shifted gears along the way because I’d rather turn you on to an artist that I consider to be a bona fide genius and remarkable human being. If you play guitar, Stephen Bennett deserves a permanent location on your radar screen.

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I am not the only member of the Tenacious B Fan Club. Tommy Emmanuel was asked to name what he consider to be “essential acoustic guitar albums” and naturally, Stephen’s name popped up… “I love what he does on this album (TEN). The playing is great, everything is beautifully recorded, and Stephen’s compositions are tremendous. His style is very pure – just him with the guitar and a mic in front of him. He doesn’t need any more than that. If you listen to this record, it’s another lesson in making melodies and chords work together. There are some great subtleties in his playing, and I love the silence in his left hand – he’s very quiet when he plays. There are a couple of songs on this album that, every time I listen to them, I repeat them three or four times – they’re that spectacular.” Before you rush off to check out Stephen’s website and pick up a couple of his albums, I want to share one more reason why I respect Stephen as much as I do. I asked Stephen how he would define success… He replies, “For me, success is not about selling millions of records. If money was important, I would have picked a commercial niche and stuck to it. Success for me is being able to play the music I like to play, to earn the respect of my peers as someone who plays the instrument well and composes well, and most importantly, for being able to be a big part of my son’s life. By that definition, I could retire right now.” In 2012, Stephen’s “peers” – a veritable Who’s Who of acoustic guitar – surprised him with a tribute CD presented at the 10th Annual Harp Guitar Gathering. It was comprised of tunes written expressly for Stephen, cover versions of favorite Bennett tunes and special dedicated selections – with a grand finale featuring nearly sixty SB fans playing (mostly harp guitars) along with one of Stephen’s original recordings from 1999. Yes Stephen, you could retire right now. But you won’t and we all thank you for that.

www.harpguitar.com AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1


For me, success is not about selling millions of records. If money was important, I would have picked a commercial niche and stuck to it. Success for me is being able to play the music I like to play, to earn the respect of my peers as someone who plays the instrument well and composes well, and most importantly, for being able to be a big part of my sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life. By that definition, I could retire right now.

want more? view stephenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s courses on truefire RIFF

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ARTIST FEATURE

Written By: Brad Wendkos The moment Tim walked into TrueFire studios, I knew there was something extraordinary about him. Big guy, crazy unruly hair, very softspoken, extremely polite, but there was something else there that told me his waters ran deepâ&#x20AC;Śvery deep..

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Photo By: Alison Hasbach


BW - There wasn’t a lot of pre-session chit-chat, he got right down to business and it

was during those first ROOTS, RAGS & BLUES sessions that I realized what was so special about him. Tim’s musical intellect is astounding, if not savant-like. His knowledge base and enlightened understanding of the music he plays and composes surpasses anyone I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Tim is also super eclectic. As a child, he taught himself to play country blues and gospel by ear and today has a monster repertoire of roots music, country blues and rags. He studied classical guitar under Segovia protégé Jesus Silva. He’s adapted compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin and Fats Waller to the guitar. He’s proficient in a wide variety of jazz styles from Brazilian to Bebop. He won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas in 1993. He’s creating arrangements for solo guitar of 20th century Russian masters Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. His work on Masada Guitars for John Zorn explored playing atonally with Klezmer modes and using jazz and blues riffs. Like I said…Tim’s waters run very, very deep. It’s impossible to find any one aspect of Tim’s musicality to call out and focus on because they all deserve attention. So, I asked Tim to pick one out himself and he chose Chasin’ the Boogie, the title tune of his latest CD (currently if not permanently in my car’s CD player)…

AUTUMN 2014view | ISSUE want more? tim’s1 courses on truefire


Fifty years ago I set out to capture that hard-driving boogie groove that blends chugging bass and blues which shrieks like a freight train howling through the night. I THINK I’VE FINALLY NAILED IT HERE.

TS - “’Chasin’ the Boogie’ is a guitar instrumental that’s been a very long time in the making. The roots of this song

formed fifty years ago on the back steps of a farmhouse in North Carolina where I first worked out Doc Watson and Lightnin’ Hopkins licks in the cool of the evening. Then came the study of classical guitar and the orchestral magic of Segovia’s arrangements of Bach and Albeniz. I was always entranced by the spell of solo guitar counterpoint and the resonance of entwining melodies in a flat top box. There are many masters of this special craft: Agustin Barrios, Joseph Spence, Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau, Ry Cooder, Laurindo Almeida, Pat Donahue, Duck Baker, Sabicas, Joe Pass — each has a unique way to juggle melodies, chords and bass lines and make the guitar sound like a piano or miniature orchestra. This song is an accumulation of the blues and boogie riffs that I acquired over my 40 years of working bar gigs and honkytonks. I assembled my favorites, like a jig saw puzzle, into Chasin’ the Boogie and I’m very pleased with the results. I’ve written Chasin’ the Boogie in the key of D, which is what makes it work so well. I’ve taken E blues riffs and transposed them to the key of D where tuning the sixth string down to D offers voicing possibilities that free up a lot of fingers in cool places where they can do interesting things. The voicings of Chasin’ the Boogie morph through different variations. Sometimes there is a call and response between blues licks and boogie woogie bass riffs, and at other moments, the groove is carried by string bends over a thumb pulse. To make all of this work and hang together, the rhythm has to always be prominent in whatever shape the arrangement is taking. I was down in Mexico a couple of years ago when I first began to put this piece together. Sitting next to the ocean under a palm tree can be very inspiring! The song really took shape last summer when I was performing in a blues review organized by Daryl Davis, who has played piano with Chuck Berry for many years. Fifty years ago I set out to capture that hard-driving boogie groove that blends chugging bass and blues which shrieks like a freight train howling through the night. I think I’ve finally nailed it here.” Thankfully for me, one does not need a large or even medium-sized musical intellect to appreciate Tim’s music. Just hit play and let it take you away.

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Photos By: Alison Hasbach

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Written By: Brad Wendkos

Across the entire history of music, there are very, very few guitar players who we can point to as true innovators of a new style or technique of guitar. Not just truly gifted players, (so many of those!) but players who crafted an entirely new and fresh approach to the instrument, which in turn, became a staple influence for years and years to come. How many can you name? Charlie Christian, Robert Johnson, Django, Chet Atkins, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Jim Hall would make that list. More contemporary players like Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Yngwie Malmsteen, Van Halen, SRV and Jeff Beck would likewise qualify (IMO).Â

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Now don’t freak…I know I’m leaving many innovators off this list (we’d love to hear your nominations), just trying to make the point that true innovation on the guitar is quite rare. However, there is one true innovator that I’d like to add to everybody’s list…Ben Lacy.

witnessed a lot of crazy, amazing techniques on guitar, but I’ve never (ever) seen or heard anything quite like that. I am not alone. Another amazing virtuoso musician, Steve Adelson (monster stick player and also a TrueFire artist) wrote an article about Ben for 20th Century Guitar. Here’s an excerpt…

Ben will likely cringe when he sees that I’ve mentioned his name alongside so many giants of guitar. Ben’s a bit shy, super humble and he’s certainly not out there seeking fame and fortune. Besides being a great husband to his lovely wife, Ben’s sole mission in life is to explore the full potential of the gift he’s been given, and to use that gift to excite the ears and put smiles on the faces of his audience.

“About once a decade, a new guitar talent comes along that knocks this writer out. It was like that when I first saw and heard Michael Hedges. So musical, so unique. Same with Stanley Jordan. Four years ago, I met the newest killer guitarist at a California NAMM Show. My first encounter with Ben Lacy was literally thrilling. He was incorporating multiple techniques into a truly musical blend. There were chords with bass lines. There was melody and horn lines. All done simultaneously and above all, there was a rhythmic sense few have attained. A constant groooooove that propelled the music. And I was blown away when he added the drum solos...ON GUITAR STRINGS? Ben Lacy has done what few guitarists have done in history. Not just digest the styles of the past. Ben has raised the bar a notch. Maybe two.”

Several years ago, while wandering the aisles of the NAMM show in Anaheim, we encountered a major gridlock of people blocking all intersecting aisles

...After the show a woman came up to me [Ben] and said, ‘Your music made my husband cry.’ That’s when you know you’ve done something. It’s not the size of a paycheck or anything like that for me. If you can move somebody that much, that’s real success. (not unusual when a superstar dignitary makes an appearance at a booth on the show floor). This is also occurs when a bevy of bikini-clad booth hostesses are giving swag away. Either way, my curiosity was piqued, and so I pushed my way forward. As I got closer, I could hear a group of musicians playing a very cool cover of Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen.” A couple more steps and I caught my very first peek of Ben Lacy. Eyes closed, head bobbing to the groove, fingers slapping/tapping/plucking at the strings along to the rhythm track. Wait a minute…no rhythm track? Nope. Ben was playing all of the drum, horn, bass, rhythm and melody parts solo on his electric guitar. I was hearing, but my eyes did not believe. I’ve

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Very well said Steve, but I’d suggest we’re talking more than just a couple of notches. He doesn’t just incorporate percussive parts into his music, he’s innovated a technique for electric guitar so that he can play actual drum parts (bass drum, snare, hi-hat, etc.) in his arrangements. He’s also crafted a special technique for inserting horn parts. Then somehow, he’s able to complete the ensemble with bass, rhythm and melody parts. And he does it all with such soul and groove you’d think Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown and the Funk Brothers possessed his fingertips. I spent several days in the studio filming Ben’s TrueFire course, Two-Hand Groove Guitar. Ben demonstrates all of the techniques he uses to create each of the individual drum, horn, rhythm, bass and melody parts. My eyes still have a hard time processing what my ears hear, but it’s real and we have it all on film, with close-ups and multiple angles. I can only hope that one hundred years from now, musicologists will consider this footage priceless. We get email all the time thanking us for producing the course, many of them from people who don’t even play guitar, which blows my mind on the one hand, and makes perfect sense on the other.  


Ben is an artist in every traditional sense of the word. He eats, sleeps and breathes for the music. He’s fiercely driven to practice his craft and take it as far as he can. It doesn’t matter how many records he sells, how much money he makes, where he plays or how many people are in his audience — all that matters is whether or not his music touches someone. “I just played a show a couple of weeks ago. After the show a woman came up to me [Ben] and said, ‘Your music made my husband cry.’ That’s when you know you’ve done something. It’s not the size of a paycheck or anything like that for me. If you can move somebody that much, that’s real success.” So yea, Ben is on my list of all-time guitar innovators and if you haven’t yet tuned in to him, then please do so. Then grab a pencil because you’ll want to add him to your list too. www.benlacy.com

want more? view ben’s courses on truefire

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Lessons

house news Interview By Zach Wendkos

T

rueFire’s 2nd Annual Next Top Guitar Instructor is underway! They are looking for instructors who possess that extra-special ability to communicate musical concepts and techniques to students in an engaging, highly accessible and effective manner. Meet Robert Renman, last year’s winner. He auditioned, was nominated by staff and voted as the winner by the public after reviewing his submitted 5-week lesson series.

me feel like a king, and the service, support and encouragement was incredible. You can’t help but feel a bit nervous going into the studio, but hey, that’s part of the exciting thing about being in the hot seat. I learned so much during this studio shoot, I can’t wait to do it again! It was a very positive and empowering experience.

TF: How did it feel to win TNTGI?

Robert: I’m teaching guitar both in person and on my own website www.masterguitaracademy.com, and I’m in the planning stages for a new TrueFire course. I play in a local band too, which is a nice opportunity to get to perform some of the things I teach. I have also been working on some ideas for my own, first album, although that will probably take quite a while to finish. Still, I’m excited about the idea of getting my own music out there.

Robert: It was completely fantastic! I didn’t expect I would go very far, since there were so many great instructors in the contest. It was both nerve-racking and exciting to see the standings each week!

TF: Have you gotten a lot of good feedback since you won the contest?

Robert: Yes, people have been emailing me and saying they voted for me, and that they are happy I won. I have also been getting positive emails about the course I did, Blues Booster, so I’m very happy about all of this.

TF: What would you say to anyone thinking about sending their videos in this year?

Robert: I would say, go for it! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. As an instructor, you will reach a lot of guitar students, regardless of if you win or not. I would also recommend making each contest video very focused, and I highly recommend tying together all of the lessons with a theme. I think that gives students the message that you have the ability to create focused and well-structured lessons, which is important for creating good guitar lesson courses.

TF: What was it like going to Florida and recording in the TrueFire studios?

Robert: It was very exciting! The TrueFire team made AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

TF: What else do you have going on in your musical career?

TF: What motivated you to enter the competition?

Robert: I had followed TrueFire for some time, and I wanted to see if I could be involved as an instructor for TrueFire. Then when the contest came up, that was perfect timing. Entering the competition made me work extra hard on the contest videos, and it was a lot of fun to be in such a situation. I am very thankful to TrueFire for all they have done for me - it’s an amazing company. I am also very thankful to all who voted in the contest, and not just the ones who voted for me, those that participated. I think it’s a great way to discover new guitar instructor talents, and I think in the end, we all benefit from that! You can never have too many great guitar lessons! To learn more visit: truefire.com/next-top-guitarinstructor-2014 where the contest rules and process, as well as the cool prize package including prizes from our awesome sponsors Yamaha Guitars, GHS Strings and Rocktron are listed. You could be TrueFire’s Next Top Guitar Instructor!


Six-string aficionados: Gadlaw Student Profile

The life-blood of TrueFire’s student population is the lifelong student of guitar. Each issue we’ll get to know one of these passionistas of guitar.

TF: Why do you think music is important to someone’s

TF: Finish this sentence, ”If everyone on the planet

GADLAW: Music speaks to our hearts; it expresses

GADLAW: ...there would be guitar tree farms and no

life?

what we can’t always verbalize and allows us to share that with others. It binds us together and makes us human.

TF: If you could learn to play any one thing, what would

it be?

GADLAW: Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot on a 12-string guitar.

TF: Who is your favorite guitarist and why? GADLAW: My favorite guitarist is George Benson.

When I first really discovered music, it was from a Jazz radio station in Sacramento, California and they played a lot of George Benson. His Weekend in LA double album was out and he was touring and that was the first concert I attended. I saw George Benson in his white leisure suit outfit right in front of me playing On Broadway big as life. It was amazing.

played guitar….”

shortage of rosewood, walnut, ebony and every other great wood for guitars. Also world peace.

TF: Describe your biggest “aha” moment on guitar. GADLAW: My biggest “aha” moment was in deciding

to learn to play the guitar. I was taking my youngest son to piano lessons at a very nice music store and looking at all the beautiful guitars. I said to myself that I’d like to learn to play, but that I was too old. Then it hit me that I had said that exact same thing ten years before when taking my oldest son to piano lessons in another nice music store. Then I realized you’re never too old to learn and found a guitar instructor right then at the store.

TF: What musician would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)?

GADLAW: Trent Reznor from NIN. TF: If you were stranded on a desert island, what one guitar would you like to have with you (assuming you’d have electricity)? GADLAW: I would have my Guild GAD 30R Acoustic. She’s been with me from my first chords. TF: If you could be in any band (current or past) which band would you like to be in? GADLAW: I’d be in The Tannahill Weavers. They play traditional Scottish music, lots of great instruments and great heartfelt music.

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artist Lessons directory

ARTIST DIRECTORY Artists Featured in this Edition of Riff

jennifer batten Recording artist and guitarist Jennifer Batten’s work has spanned the globe. She was Michael Jackson’s guitarist for 3 World Tours including a NFL Half-Time performance, which aired to a record 1.5 billion viewers in 80 nations during Super Bowl XXVII. She signed on as Jeff Beck’s guitarist for 2 World Tours. She’s an avid educator and does clinics and interactive engagements the world over.

stephen bennett Stephen Bennett is an extraordinary musician, an acknowledged master of the harp guitar, a challenging teacher, a gifted composer, and a performer of astounding sensitivity. The Toronto Fingerstyle Guitar Association referred to him as “the Jedi Master of Fingerstyle Guitar”…

Matthieu Brandt Matthieu Brandt is a guitarist, songwriter, recording artist, Appalachian-style banjo player and educator based in Haarlem, The Netherlands. He started out as a fingerstyle blues guitar player and later played in a string of electric blues bands. In the last 15 years he’s ventured into ‘Americana’ and is about to release his fourth solo album, featuring the open back 5 string banjo.

chris buono Chris Buono has been called many things: arcane improviser, sound diabolist, fearless composer, and the list goes on. If you’re looking for something simpler you can go with recording artist, sideman, educator, music journalist/columnist, and author. Call him what you want, but one thing is certain this cat is bad-ass and busy.

larry carlton 19-time Grammy nominee, 4-time Grammy winner and all time guitar great, Larry Carlton’s studio credits include musicians like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and dozens of others. With 30 albums to his credit and having performed on over 100 albums that have gone Gold or Platinum, he has set a standard for artistry that spans three decades.

dave celentano Dave Celentano has written over fifty guitar instruction/music transcription books, CDs, DVDs, and tutorials for Hal Leonard, Music Sales, Cherry Lane Music, Centerstream Publications, TrueFire, and Star Licks. Additionally, Dave has three solo CDs: “Guitar Stew”, “Wicked Music Box”, and “Desert Storm.” Currently, Dave is playing guitar with the Los Angeles based blues/rock band ‘Soul Core.’

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| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V1


bill evans Throughout his more than 20-year career as a solo artist, saxophonist Bill Evans has explored a variety of musical settings that go well beyond the confines of traditional jazz, including rock, hip-hop, jam, fusion, reggae, Brazilian and slamming funk. He has recorded 19 solo CDs, including his latest, Dragonfly, and received two Grammy nominations for his solo releases, one for Soul Insider and the other for Soulgrass.

vicki genfan Virtuoso guitarist, singer and composer Vicki Genfan draws from folk, jazz, pop, soul and world music, with a mastery of the acoustic guitar that borders on pure alchemy. Using 29 alternate tunings and the percussive technique she calls ‘slap-tap’, you’ll find the addition of her pure, expressive vocals that dig deep and stir the heart to be the perfect accompaniment on many of her songs.

richard gilewitz Guitarist Richard Gilewitz has charmed audiences with road tales and right-hand wizardry, creating a sparkle of mood mastery and wonderment. He fascinates listeners with 6 and 12-string finger gymnastics and spins enchanting yarns of a seasoned raconteur while his signature style delivers technical diversity of banjo style patterns and classical arpeggios with a rhythmic percussive approach.

david hamburger David Hamburger is a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and the author of nearly two dozen instructional books and videos for TrueFire, Homespun Tapes, String Letter Publishing, Hal Leonard and Alfred. He is currently at work on a trio recording to be released in early 2015. David lives in Austin, Texas where he composes music for film, television and advertising.

ben lacy A true guitar innovator, Ben Lacy has performed in venues across North America and Europe, playing with and opening for such musical greats as Al DiMeola, Larry Coryell, George Duke, Dominic Miller, Joey DeFrancesco, Phil Keaggy, Frank Gambale and Tommy Emmanuel. Guitar Player Magazine named Ben as one of the Top 100 Unsung Guitar Heroes.

susan mazer Susan is a well-respected educator, author, and performer known especially for her intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. She studied with Benji Aronoff, a protégé of Doc Watson, and received her Bachelor of Music degree at Hartt School of Music and Masters in Music at Boston University. Susan taught for seventeen years at The Hartford Conservatory and is currently an instructor at Sacred Heart University.

jeff scheetz Jeff is the Director of Education at TrueFire. He has released 8 CDs of original music. His name has been on the Ernie Ball Super Slinky string package. He has toured the US, Europe and Mexico, and performed over 300 guitar clinics worldwide for Yamaha guitars. He has been featured in Guitar, Guitar Player, Guitar School, and Guitar World magazines, as well as numerous magazines in Japan and Europe.

tim sparks Guitar Player Magazine has called Tim Sparks’ music, “fresh, exotic, and totally cool,” Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls it “rich and sensuous,” and guitarist Leo Kottke simply says, “He’s really one of the best musicians I know.” From the early traditional country blues and gospel music he learned in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Jazz, Bebop, classical and world music from his varied career across the globe.

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V1

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compilation Lessons album

Riffage: Volume 1 Here ye, here ye! Audiophiles, guitar aficionados and enlightened children of the ‘Fire — prepare thy ears and hearts for magical music from the artists and educators featured in this edition of RIFF. Click the download button below for your personal copy of RIFFAGE Volume 1…

Ya Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Fast Car - Jennifer Batten Mother Gigogone and the Clowns - Stephen Bennett Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Larry Carlton Toccata and Fugue - Dave Celentano Kings and Queens - Bill Evans Longest Night - Vicki Genfan Wazamataz - Richard Gilewitz Kansas City Lowdown - David Hamburger Layercake - Ben Lacy Windy and Warm - Susan Mazer Beggars, Rogues and Thieves - Jeff Scheetz Chasin’ the Boogie - Tim Sparks

Download the FREE Album AUTUMN 2014 | ISSUE 1

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V1


BEHIND THE MIX We can’t say it enough — the not-so-secret ingredients of TrueFire are the artists and educators that we are privileged to collaborate with. Not just amazingly talented educators, they are also brilliant composers, arrangers and recording artists in their own right. Enjoy their music and please visit their websites and social media networks.

Ya Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Fast Car - Jennifer Batten “I was working with producer Michael Sembello when he got an offer to submit a song for a race car movie that sounded ZZ Top-ish. I wrote this for that. It’s kind of like ZZ Top on crack.”

Wazamataz - Richard Gilewitz “Wazamataz” was written with the intention that it should be played with a feeling as happy and spirited as possible - almost like a cheerful dance on the edge. It is played in Standard Tuning, key of E with the capo on the 2nd fret. GillaZilla Music BMI

Mother Gigogone and the Clowns - Stephen Bennet “I approached the entire score for the Suite using 18 different instruments, electric and acoustic for this version. It’s a truly amazing musical composition and I’ve treated it with love and respect…it’s a true labor of love!”

Kansas City Lowdown - David Hamburger “The Kansas City Lowdown” is a fingerstyle blues in open C tuning (CGCGCE) that I recorded for my solo guitar CD David Hamburger Plays Blues, Ballads and a Pop Song. I think I swiped the chord changes at the start of the third chorus from Duke Ellington’s “Piano Improvisation No. 3.”

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Larry Carlton Treat your ears to a sneak-listen to a cut off Larry Carlton’s yet-to-be-released album of holiday songs. Don’t let the holiday theme fool you, Larry’s guitar work is as outstanding and soulful as you would expect from Mr. 335.

Layercake - Ben Lacy Ben is a one-man band, providing his own bass and percussive parts while simultaneously laying down rhythmic chords and melodies. Lacy’s “Layercake” incorporates his signature variety of slapping, thumping, and hammer-on techniques.

Toccata and Fugue - Dave Celentano “I like giving traditional classical tunes a rock/ metal twist and ‘Toccata and Fugue’ is a great example. I always felt that Bach could write heavy classical music that was way ahead of his time and ‘Toccata and Fugue’ is one of those pieces.”

Windy and Warm - Susan Mazer “This is my version of John D. Loudermilk’s tune ‘Windy and Warm.’ Chet Atkins and Doc Watson both covered it. I studied in Philadelphia with Benji Aronoff, a friend of Doc’s, and learned it from him. It’s one of my favorites!”

Kings and Queens - Bill Evans “Kings and Queens” a bluesy track from Evans’ album Dragonfly (2012), an eclectic fusion of tunes. Bill plays the tenor sax in this song and says about the album, “I find this to be a very addictive CD that best captures our current band’s live vibe.”

Beggars, Rogues and Thieves - Jeff Scheetz “This song is the title track from the Jeff Scheetz Band’s CD “Beggars, Rogues & Thieves”. This blues rock release was described by one magazine as ‘A cross between Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and King’s X’.”

Longest Night - Vicki Genfan “This is called ‘Longest Night’ and was written on December 21st, which is actually the longest night of the year. It is a heartfelt, instrumental ballad, a musical journey meant to bring light to the darkness. I believe it was given to me as a gift from my grandfather-in-law (who passed many years ago, and whom I never met).”

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V1

Chasin’ the Boogie - Tim Sparks “Chasin’ the Boogie” is a guitar instrumental, and title track of Tim’s latest CD, that’s been a very long time in the making. The roots of this song formed fifty years ago on the back steps of a farmhouse in North Carolina.

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Readers’ desk

REaders’ Desk: Teachers pet Reviews

As part of our Back to School promotion this past August, we asked TrueFire Students to put their creative writing skills to work and be a “Teacher’s Pet” by writing a few reviews about their favorite Course, Educator, Workshop, or Classroom. Choosing the four winners, each of whom received a brand new Apple iPad Mini for their efforts, was no easy task, but after careful deliberation amongst the TrueFire Staff, we were able to narrow it down. Check out the winning reviews:

Student Review of the Course 50 Modal Licks (Submitted by John Staley) “Robbie Calvo’s 50 Modal Licks You Must Know has turned out to be one of the most important contributory factors in my personal advancement, reflecting broadly in my professional style as a career musician. Other guitarists are always wanting to know what it is that I’m doing because the modal sound sets my leadwork apart from everyone else’s. They regularly make comments like, ‘I’ve heard that sound before but could never figure out how to do it’, etc. You can study modes theoretically (and you should; Robbie has other great courses on that) but you really need to internalize the way these examples interact across the backingtracks. It’s important to make these modal sounds your own and to combine them; taking little snippets apart and rearranging them at will. This course will give you the vocabulary you need to put your modal phrases together Robbie gives you licks for each of the seven diatonic modes (no melodic minor modes; waiting for Robbie’s 50 Licks on that!), played across a modal chord progression; then breaks each move down very explicitly; and then you can practice it to the backing track until you get good at it and have it internalized. Now the fun really begins: you take them out into the world and start applying them. This is where you begin to discover just how powerful this modal thing is. You may discover, like I did, that your style will change forever. Robbie is one of those special educators that you will enjoy learning from.”

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Student Review of Educator Brad Carlton (Submitted by Mark Connelly) “Brad Carlton is not, as TrueFire would have you believe, a human being. He is a cyborg sent back from the year 2269 to raise an unholy army of shredders, rockers, blues benders, boppers and jazzers. With the air of sports fanatic casually relaying a crucial play in a game, Brad unlocks the mysteries and secrets of the fretboard and puts them directly into musical application. He is one of the great ones. Fear Him!”

Student Review of the Workshop Guitar Interactives: Rhythm (Submitted by Kristen Hart) “Robbie Calvo’s teaching has changed the trajectory of my playing chops! His clear, precise instructional methods with incredible backing tracks, have helped me become a better musician in every way! The Guitar Interactives: Rhythm Workshop helped me not only become a better ‘jammer’ in a variety of genres, but a better soloist. By learning how to play a variety of more time signatures and percussive styles, I’m able to solo within and around the groove. Thanks, Robbie.”

Student Review of Classroom Guitar Babylon (Submitted by Dwane Woodard) “I have hired and fired A LOT of guitar instructors. Signing up for Rob Garland’s Guitar Babylon Classroom was, in my opinion, going to be another waste of time where the instructor had this long drawn out method designed to impact your wallet more than your playing skill. The TrueFire risk-free guarantee made me at least want to try it. Within the first two lessons, I was hooked. Rob is taking a two-pronged approach - rhythm and lead. The first rhythm question began to tighten up my comping and understanding of rhythm, while the approach to playing lead has helped me develop my style. At the end of the day, I don’t sound like Rob, I sound like the player I want to be. Rob’s responses always incorporate what I’m trying to do, and some ideas on how to get there. I highly recommend this Classroom. Rob’s passion for music, desire to teach, and encouraging attitude has really helped me grow in a short time...I can’t wait to see where I will be a year from now!”


SNAPSHOTs

T he T rue Fire gan g (and T ay Genfan’s Hoyle!) at the end of V live gig icki

Stephen Bennett and his “brother” Brad Wendkos

Brad ph otobomb ing recordin David Hambur g sessio ger’s n

Bill Evan s on s sporting tage with Carlos his T rueF S ire shirt antana

Bill Evans and Carlos Santana hanging backstage

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www.riffjournal.com AUTUMN || ISSUE I

© 2014

Riff Journal | Autumn 2014 | Issue 1  

Give your guitar a rest for a few minutes and come RIFF with us. From the day we opened our doors here at TrueFire, we knew that our succe...