Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hello, Waldorf! The George Lynch Clinic at Hot Licks Guitar Shop

George Lynch came by the local guitar shop last night on his Hal Leonard Clinic Tour. It was cool.

Hot Licks Guitar Shop had been advertising this clinic for a few months, and I couldn't wait. They've had some great players there before, including Doyle Dykes, Michael Angelo Batio, David Ellifson, Greg Kotch, and Brian Bromberg. But this was gonna take the cake. I mean, c'mon, this is the guy who wrote Mr. Scary!

The chairs were set up, and so was the stage. George stepped up to applause, and started shredding. After three blistering numbers, he paused, and said "Well, I just wanted to prove I can still play." Overachiever!

His chops were, of course, top shelf, and they sounded refreshingly inspired. I would venture to say that some of his playing, especially when he was jamming on his ESP strat guitar, sounded like a heavy metal SRV. The tone was very open compared to some of his peers. But the best part was the organic vibe Mr. Lynch managed to convey.

Oftentimes, it seems that the original inspiration of electric guitar is lost through relentless pursuit of technique. It's as if the diamond is perfectly cut and polished, only to lose it's sparkle. George's playing yesterday, however, hadn't lost that spark. When I see guitar heroes rock out, oftentimes I feel overwhelmed, beaten about the ears, and I want to give up. This time, I wanted to run home to practice! It had soul.

George then started to take questions. Answering the queries, and also using them as a springboard, he would chat a bit about other aspects relating to the original question after answering the person. It was very informative. He advised the audience to get involved in all aspects of the music industry, and brought up one that had never occurred to me: designing gear. Later in the night, he looked over at the house amps he was playing through, and said "Hey, I helped design that one!"

Somebody asked him how to get the George Lynch tone, and after jokingly referring the asker to his signature pieces of gear for just about everything in the signal chain, George showed his teaching stripes by stating that tone is all in your head and hands, and not necessarily in your amp. Very wise, and a refreshing departure from the standard clinic fare of "well, I feel the triple reinforced truss rod of the XYZ guitar gives me the sustain I absolutely need, so I'd recommend buying this guitar."

Probably the most interesting response of his was when someone asked him what scale modes he used. "I'm not familiar with those" was his frank and polite answer. "I've learned some shapes years ago, and now I don't think about them." (Emphasis mine.)

Bingo - First Charlie Parker saying "learn the changes, and then forget them," and now George Lynch echoing that sentiment.

He said that he had the Ultimate Guitar Solo playing in his head, and he never manages to quite get there. "I hope I never do!" he joked. In watching him play, it was obvious that he used whatever he needed to get the job done in pursuit of that Epic Solo. He didn't say "OK, I'm going to tap a Phrygian run now, followed by a series of diminished arpeggios moving down the cycle of fourths..." Nope, he just conversed with his guitar, and most of all, seemed to have a blast doing so.

It was a inspirational and informative performance, and if you get a chance to attend one of his clinics, I highly recommend it!

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