Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blah blah blah...

The optimum dynamic range of your guitar!

Wow! Sounds exciting.

Maybe I like vocabulary a bit too much, but hey, deal wit' it, bro!

Try this: Grab your guitar, pluck a note, starting out whisper quiet. Increase the volume until the string is rattling against the frets.

Did you notice how there's a particular volume where the note "blooms" nicely, has a big, lush sound, and is just cool?

No? Try it again.

Next, if you play electric guitar, plug into an amp set to a clean sound. Crank it up a bit, preferably with a tube amp. Repeat the experiment, and take a listen. Hear that picking intensity (usually at the softer end) where the note really breathes?
Now, the amp will also react a certain way with your guitar, so fiddle with that as well. Find the volume setting that reacts the nicest with that lush tone you just created. On some amps this is a very definite place.

We're finding the optimum dynamic range of the guitar! Snazzy. Fiddle around, and don't settle for a wimpy, bad tone. Get what you're lookin' for, bro!

Heyyyy, by the way, a neat thing finally occurred to me. I came up with a cool song idea the other day, but I didn't feel like hooking up the recorder to remember it. What to do? Call me behind the times, but it dawned on me...Use my cell phone! The video camera on my Razr isn't what you'd call a high quality recorder, but it worked....

Rock on!

Peavey ValveKing 112 Combo Amp

Peavey ValveKing 112 Combo Amp

At the heart of the
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that allows variable selection and combinations
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12AX7 preamp and 6L6GC power amp tubes;
a specially voiced 12" ValveKing speaker;
2 footswitchable channels with independent
3-band EQ and volume; footswitchable boost on
the lead channel (with optional footswitch);
global resonance, presence, and reverb controls;
a buffered effects loop; and
external speaker jack.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A nifty idea

Someone gave me a cool idea a few years ago.

One of my music teachers said that it's rumored that jazz guitarist Mike Stern carries a notebook of music paper with him where ever he goes. If he hears a piece of music he likes, he jots it down note-for-note.

I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it's a neat idea. I'm gonna try it. I'm sure I'll be bad at first, but I bet it's an awesome ear training idea.

Anyone else?

Here's your irreverent , but relevant, fun for today (but appropriate for the entire family):

Mr. Deity and The Really Big Favor

Rock on!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy smoke!

Hey Y'all!

Feeling a bit burnt out? Lacking inspiration? Or worse yet, like you've learned everything there is to learn?

Check out a few of these sickos. (In a good way, of course.)
Some guitar players who are really happenin'.

Get inspired! Get pumped up! Go create some music as great as this. Now's the time.

(By the way, you know the guys are good if all the nasty commenters can pick on is their hairstyle. It's usually Technique, followed by Tone, and hair is last.)

And for some laughs....

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Neat Guitar Synths


I haven't blogged much last week, so I'm playin' catch up today. Must be the leprechauns. (I can't believe I actually spelled that without spell checker!)

I recently acquired the Roland GR20 guitar synthesizer. It's da bomb. I'm using it in my solo act, as well as my band playing. In short, it's a special pickup that mounts between the bridge pickup and the bridge of a guitar. It's got a controller, a cable, and a floor module. The floorboard converts the signal to MIDI (if I'm not mistaken), and provides a wiz bang array of different instrument sounds. SO, I can make my guitar sound like a piano, or a drum, or even a voice! It's REALLY cool. I'll write more about it soon.

Also, if you're so inclined, check out this Amnistey International thingamajig. I feel, that in addition to jabbering about gear and innermost insights, that it's important to help
the world just a little.

Good Acoustics

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Everything is greening up. The trees, every one's outfits, and even the bagels in the bakery section of the grocery store. I sure wouldn't buy dyed bagels, though.

I had the privilege of attending a super duper guitar workshop yesterday. If you guys haven't heard of Al Petteway before, you should check him out.

An acoustic wizard, Al gave a very informative workshop aimed at all levels of musicians. As a music teacher, I know how difficult it can be to make sure there's something for everyone in a lesson. He pulled it off very nicely, and I, for one, got a lot out of the class.

The point that struck me was this: Al said he tries to make everything as simple and easy as possible. You shredders out there might be raising your eyebrows, but you haven't heard Al play. He really rips, sings, and talks with his guitar. So what's the point I'm getting at? (Actually, that Al was getting at?)

Now, I can always twist things around, so Al, please accept my apologies if I've got this all wrong. However, I'm pretty excited about applying this next point to my playing.

If you've ever watched a great pool player, they never have any difficult shots. Why? Because they set themselves up nicely. They know how to play position. That's where their magic is. They can run hundreds of shots, and make it look so effortless...Because they're on such a high level, they always can leave themselves a great shot.

I had known this about pool, but I had never thought about it with guitar. By playing something the most effortless way, it allows the greatness to shine through. Note, this doesn't mean playing easy stuff. It means playing a piece the easiest way. In other words, if we're mountaineers, let's take the shortest path up Mt. Everest. No point to climb it walking backwards!

I'm looking forward to applying that lesson I learned from Mr. Petteway to my playing. No need to make things extra complicated!

By the way, for all my philosophical talk, I still believe that there's a fiercely competitive musician inside of each of us. When they're not competing, they're comparing. And comparing Al's workshop to the Doyle Dykes clinic I attended in August...Al's playing blows the doors of Doyle's! It just sounds so much better. Check him out!

PS. Drive safe tonight, please. I can't stand the irresponsibility folks of driving drunk, so give a buddy the keys, and do the best thing for your music career - live!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I had it...but I forgot

I was traveling home last night, piloting the camaro along the dark roads when...It hit me.

The meaning of music.

I was just writing out a set list for a show this Friday, and I remembered my insight. I ran to tell my mom.

"Mom! Mom! I figured out what the meaning of music is!"

And then I forgot what it was. Drat. Man, I hate it when that happens. But here's what I foggily recall.

Perhaps it's less of a communication, and more of a physical embodiment of an ethereal idea. The notes, chords, melody and harmony (or lack of it, in some of my favorite music), is a small bit of what's really behind it. The wind ruffles the water, and we observe ruffles, but we do not observe the wind directly. Perhaps it's the same with music.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Mind games

Wow, this week has gone by fast!

I've been preparing for a few gigs. And the topic that's really jumped out at me this week is the importance of confidence.

In other words, I need to rely on my mind. Uh oh!

A vintage tube amp as a great tone. A '57 strat has a great tone. But the best tone of all is the one of confidence and comfort. It's the missing ingredient in the sonic stew that many of us are seeking.

For guitar players, it's helpful. For vocalists, it appears to be even more important. Man, when I'm practicing my singing, my "tone" (or lack of it!) appears to be directly affected by if I think it sounds pathetic or really happenin'.

Getting in a good mindset, for me, is very important. As strange as it sounds, doing push ups before a show can really help! (Just make sure you don't throw out your wrists.) Secondly, acting with confidence can be the catalyst for inspiring it. If you don't feel it, act like it anyway. Oftentimes it will appear.

Let the audience get you pumped up. A scene that's burned in my brain is of David Lee Roth viewing a packed Verizon Center at a Van Halen show and hollering "Look at all the people!"
If there's not a packed house, go inward, summon an image of your favorite rock star, or similarly confident person, and draw on those influences.

Practicing confidence and stage presence is a super duper good thing to do. And you know what? As scary as it can be's fun!

Aim to burn the stage down. Incinerate it. (Just not literally.)

Rock on!

(Hey, check back in a few days, 'cause my Roland Guitar Synth is due to arrive today! Woohoo!)

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Why be normal?

Why be normal? The world is filled with mundane, average, typical people.

Why not aim to be exceptional? To play at the cutting edge of your ability, and then to push that constantly. To learn everything you possibly can about music, and then come back for more. To listen with care.

And this certainly shouldn't stop at guitar. No sir! There is so much the world has to offer, and if we aim for average, we miss the boat.

It doesn't matter if you end up average. And as a matter of fact, average can't be measured in worldly things. I know some exceedingly average folks with the wealth of kings, and then there's my neighbor...Who, living in a modest little house with a modest little yard, could arguably be an alien. He's just that amazing.

Again, it's the journey, and how you travel. Aim high....and go practice!

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