Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Zen books, new article, and turbocharging your amp

Happy Wednesday!

You wanna know where I get all these crazy music philosophy ideas? Well, granted, I think of a lot of 'em, but I've also managed to get my hands on some really nifty books. I love 'em, and you might, too. (Then again, you might not.) But here's some of my favorite books that have shaped the way I view and play music.

Zen Guitar - Philip Toshio Sudo

A thought provoking way to examine the world of music. If you dig Zen philosophy, you'll like this book.

Effortless Mastery - Kenny Werner

I like this book a lot. It offers a refreshingly alternative view on the mystique of the masters, and invites the reader to discover the master musician within. Mr. Werner is a wise man, and I think highly of his book.

The Music Lesson - Victor L. Wooten

Victor Wooten, besides being a top notch musician, and a super nice guy, has a lot of insights to share in this book. Vaguely reminescent of a Carlos Castenada or Dan Millman book, it's out there, but I love it. In this particular piece of literature, Mr. Wooten describes his studies with a most unusual teacher of music, and of life. One of my favorite things about Victor and his music is his fearlessness of incorporating "deep stuff" with bob-your-head funky soul music.

And for those of you that have heard me talk about the "Two through Ten" principle, this is where it comes from.

Available from:

Enjoy your reading!


Hey! Check out my new article on the art of listening!


Turbocharging your Amp - Ideas to wreak sonic mayhem on your audience,
or your neighbors

My ideas of music are always changing. . I'm into blues, jazz, and funk, mostly. And this is mostly to the chagrin of my Heavy Metal students. However, I still have that nasty leaden streak in me - that evil twin that enjoys churning out lethal doses of rip-your-face off heavy metal mayhem. (My upper lip is almost in the shape of a pretzel as I'm writing this, I'm so into it and ANGRY sounding!)

And when in one of these states of mind, the last thing I want to hear is "less is more" or "oh, I just want a hint of tube distortion." My "logic" is - when I'm in a heavy metal mindset - less is less, more is more, and that gain control had better go to 15!

The last thing I would look to for distortion domination would be...An overdrive pedal!

I used to think these quaint boxes of mild distortion were reserved for the legions of old fogies that enjoyed hearing guitars "sing" instead of guitars that revolted, broke chains, and bludgeoned people to death (sonically, that is.)

And when I had my long hair, I was more into bludgeoning than singing (sonically, that is!)

However, I've stumbled across something that can help you in your quest to conquer the world and send Jack Johnson and his breathy acoustic guitar pop cronies straight to a fiery...picnic. (sonically, that is!)

It's an overdrive pedal.

Yep. You've got it.

When used properly, an overdrive pedal can "turbocharge" an already overdriven amplifier.

I employ several pedals for this purpose, an Ibanez TS9 Reissue Tubescreamer overdrive among them. The way cool sickly green box kicks my distorted amp into further overdrive. Since the signal coming into the amp is "hotter" (higher level, and distorted anyway), it will cause even MORE distortion than your amp is providing. Since it smacks the "front end" (preamp stage) of your amplifier with a
much hotter signal, a cool sound is the result. Of course, when you introduce another variable in your signal chain, you'll want to fiddle with the amp distortion, pedal distortion, volume, etc. Fiddle, my friend, fiddle!

I also notice that using an overdrive in this way gives me a fuller sound. However, don't take my word for it - be sure you try before you buy.

For your information, I also use a Jekyll and Hyde Ultimate Overdrive by Visual Sound. I like it better than the Ibanez TS9.

And a last thought - try backing the gain DOWN, and turning the amp UP. If you're using a tube amp, you'll get power tube distortion. (As opposed to preamp distortion.) More on this later, but put simply, it'll sound great.

Rock on!

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