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    A who's who of music industry execs, celebrities, luminaries and supporters of women in music, gathered on Fri., Jan. 23 in the Anaheim Hilton hotel’s Pacific Ballroom to celebrate the 2015 She Rocks Awards, an event paying tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry.

    Named one of Billboard magazine's "7 must-see events at NAMM," the sold-out She Rocks Awards were held by parent organization the Women's International Music Network (the WiMN), and were co-hosted by WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore and guitarist, solo artist and 2013 She Rocks Awards winner Orianthi.

    Honorees included Music Inc. editor, Katie Kailus; Vice President of Brand Marketing at Martin Guitar, Amani Duncan; multi-platinum artist, Colbie Caillat; Grammy Award nominated sax player, Mindi Abair; legendary band The Bangles; Vice President for Online Learning and Continuing Education/CEO for Berklee College of Music’s award-winning online continuing education program, Berklee Online, Debbie Cavalier; Vice President of iconic Capitol Studios, Paula Salvatore; Avedis Zildjian CEO, Craigie Zildjian; Beacock Music Co-Owner, Gayle Beacock; and owner of Robo Records, Rob Christie, the first-ever male to receive a She Rocks Awards.

    Mindi Abair Orianthi Photo by Kevin Graft.jpg

    “The 2015 She Rocks Awards brought together hundreds of powerful men and women in the music industry who filled the venue with a level of energy and excitement unlike any other She Rocks Awards we’ve held in the past. To know that this many people support our mission of advancing women in the music industry is extremely uplifting and reassuring. We set the bar high this year,” said WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore.

    Colbie Caillat photo by Kevin Graft.jpg

    The event featured electrifying performances by Orianthi with a surprise cameo by Richie Sambora; Mindi Abair; The Bangles; Colbie Caillat; SHEL; and the house band comprised of Zepparella members Gretchen Menn on guitar, Angeline Saris on bass, Clementine on drums, and guest keyboardist Jenna Paone.
    Highlights of the event include a stellar performance of Mindi Abair’s song “Kick Ass” with Orianthi stepping in for the guitar duties. A moving speech by Craigie Zildjian reflected on the company’s 400-year past and her role as the first female CEO in its history. And a grand finale closing performance of The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” as current and past award winners joined the rock icons on stage with Cleopatra-like poses.

    The Bangles at the She Rocks Awards photo by Getty Images for NAMM 2.jpg

    The She Rocks Awards was sponsored by The Gretsch Company, Guitar Center, Seymour Duncan, The Avedis Zildjian Company, Martin Guitar, Weber Mandolins, Fishman, 108 Rock Star Guitars, Casio, PRS Guitars, Yamaha, Berklee Online, Roland, Kind, LAWIM, International Musician, Making Music Magazine, 95.5 KLOS, OC Weekly, as well as NewBay Media, and their publications Guitar World, Guitar Player, Acoustic Nation, Bass Player, Electronic Musician and Keyboard Magazine.

    For more information, visit

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    Here’s a fun song from folk legend Tom Paxton. “The Battle of the Sexes” is from this artist’s Redemption Road album, out March 10.

    Chock full of clever lyrics and a rollicking fiddle-laden arrangement, “The Battle of the Sexes” celebrates with a tongue-in-cheek ride through historic male/female conflict. Fun, fun, fun!

    Paxton shares, “So, I was scribbling away in my notebook, writing pretty much whatever came to me while waiting for something to show up. as is my wont, when in the course of this idle exercise I found I had written, "Back in the Garden of Eden...". Hmmm, I thought, and almost immediately wrote, "That never needed weedin'" which, of course, it didn't. This brought to mind Mark Twain's pieces about Adam and Eve's diaries, which I had loved reading years ago. Let's play with that, I thought, and the first verse was done. Then, it was a case of finding Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Samson and Delilah and the Washingtons. The chorus was fun to write: rhyming "sexes" and "Texas" justified going out for lunch.”

    Like countless young adults who fell in love with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton headed to Greenwich Village in the early ’60s, just in time to join Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez and other troubadours who took over coffeehouse stages — and took on the world. Paxton has been raising his rich voice in song ever since, carrying on the folk tradition with passion, wit and grace.

    And the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner is far from ready to call it quits, though he is planning to leave the traveling life behind. But first, he’ll celebrate the March 10, 2015 release of his 62nd (or so) album, Redemption Road; launch a two-month tour with Janis Ian on March 4; and head to his hometown of Bristow, Okla., for his March 14 induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

    He’ll also run across the pond in May for several U.K. dates, and likely keep stage-hopping through 2015. And after that … well, after that, maybe he’ll finally get around to turning his “Back in the Day” website recollections into a book, or posting more “Short Shelf-life Songs,” or giving himself more opportunities to kick back with a midday movie, as he was doing one recent rainy afternoon before hitting “pause” to discuss his latest work.

    Paxton and producer Jim Rooney recorded Redemption Road (on Paxton’s Pax Records) at the Butcher Shop in Nashville, which made it easy to recruit a stellar gang of supporting players. The list includes Al Perkins on dobro, Tim Crouch on fiddle and mandolin, frequent collaborator Geoff Bartley on National steel guitar, Kirk “Jellyroll” Johnson on harmonica and executive producer Cathy Fink on banjo and harmonies. Janis Ian contributes harmony to the title tune; John Prine takes a verse on “Skeeters’ll Gitcha.”

    Like most folk musicians, Paxton loves a fun, “silly” song just as much as he loves a pointed political statement or a love song, and Redemption Road contains some of each, along with one traditional, the Celtic prayer, “The Parting Glass.”
    U.S. tour dates:
    Thu., Jan. 15 SEATTLE, WA The Triple Door; with Kate Power & Steve Einhorn
    Fri., Jan. 16 PORTLAND, OR Alberta Rose Theatre; with Kate Power & Steve Einhorn
    Sat., Jan. 17 FLORENCE, OR Winter Folk Festival
    Fri., Feb. 27 ALBANY, NY The Egg, Swyer Theater

    March-April dates with Janis Ian
    Wed., Mar. 4 SOUTH ORANGE, NJ South Orange Performing Arts Center
    Thu., Mar. 5 TARRYTOWN, NY Tarrytown Music Hall
    Fri., Mar. 6 NEW YORK, NY City Winery
    Sat., Mar. 7 PATCHOGUE, NY Patchogue Theatre
    Sun., Mar. 8 MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ Richard P. Marasco Center for the Performing Arts
    Wed.-Thu., Mar. 18-19 MINNEAPOLIS, MN The Dakota
    Fri., Mar. 20 STOUGHTON, WI Stoughton Opera House
    Sun., Mar. 22 CHICAGO, IL Old Town School of Folk Music
    hu., Apr. 9 PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
    Fri., Apr. 10 VERO BEACH, FL Emerson Center
    Sat., Apr. 11 FORT LAUDERDALE, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts
    Sun., Apr. 12 WEST PALM BEACH, FL Kravis Center -- Gosman Amphitheatre
    Mon., Apr. 13 CLEARWATER, FL Capitol Theatre
    Wed., Apr. 22 SANTA CRUZ, CA Rio Theatre
    Thu., Apr. 23 NAPA, CA City Winery
    Fri., Apr. 24 GRASS VALLEY, CA The Center for the Arts
    Sat., Apr. 25 BERKELEY, CA Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse

    Find out more at

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  • 01/28/15--07:57: Lesson: Tune Up Your Tempo
  • Timing in life, as they say, is everything. It’s obviously pretty important in music, too, so let’s talk tempo.

    As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.

    The hard, cold facts are these: Perform a great song too fast and you’ve lost the race. Play a great song too slow and the only animal left in the barn when you finish will be the turtle you rode in on. Your audience may never intellectualize your tempo miscalculations, but they will certainly feel them and sense something’s "off."

    Disclaimer: I have to admit I’m pretty horrible at picking the right tempos for my tunes. Conversely, I know a lot of songwriters who are just plain naturals at the process (hate them). If you’re one of the former, here are a few survival tactics I’ve developed over the years:


    Before you begin to record those new songs with your band, have all your tunes' tempos decided upon and documented via the BPM (beats per minute) standard of tempo measurement.

    Despite your drummer’s claims of his "killer" feel and his promises of an early departure from the bar the night before recording, the studio is a bad place to pick tempos. There's just too much going on.

    Every home Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) comes with a click track and BPM tempo controls. If you have one, use these tools and mess around with your tempos offline, on your own time. Even record yourself with just one instrument and a vocal at different tempos and listen back until you find the right tempo that works for each particular tune. Then write them down. Even if you don’t plan on recording to a click (aka fixed time) in the studio, your pre-selected tempos will make for a great reference/starting point.

    Don’t have a DAW set-up at home? Check this metronome app for iPhone or this free online metronome. These will help you get the job done. And if all else fails, get your hands on an old-fashioned metronome.

    Another tempo-finding hack I’ve employed goes like this: Think about your new song and try to recall a favorite tune from another artist that might have a similar vibe or feel. Dig out that artist’s track and try and figure out what tempo their song lives at. You can do this by using the "Tap" function in your DAW or app.

    Once you establish the model song’s tempo, apply that BPM to your tune. It may not be perfect, but it probably will be close. Adjust accordingly and quietly give thanks to super producer Jack Douglas for helping you pick out a tempo for your song via that old Aerosmith record.


    The same thoughts apply. Before leaving that dingy rehearsal room and stepping on stage, try and get your tempos in place. If your drummer is tempo-challenged (and a bunch of good drummers are, believe it or not), they make a lot of tempo-keeping gear for live application that can be used as an on-the-fly reference. If you can, use these tools. They will stop you from playing that 45-minute set in 15 (Been there, done that).

    Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder of intro.verse.chorus, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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    Bill Lloyd doesn't play music, he IS music.

    And good music at that!

    From founding The Long Players, the uber popular band in Nashville who play classic albums from beginning to end with famous guest singers to in Nashville to writing his own classic albums under his name and previously Foster & Lloyd (RCA), Bill understands songs inside and out both technically and emotionally.

    It was a great afternoon to strum guitars and dream out loud.

    Check him out at

    Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family.

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    Got a question for your favorite guitarist? Let us be your go-between. The concept is easy — you submit your queries and we pass them on to some of the world's greatest guitarists. Only the sharpest and funniest questions will be used.

    This month, we're giving you the chance to ask rock and soul guitarist John Oates of Eighties hit-makers Hall & Oates anything you want! From Philly soul and ruling the Eighties to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his famous mustache...nothing's off limits!

    Just email your questions to and put "John Oates" in the subject line. Remember to include your name in the email body, so you can get credited in the magazine, and impress and annoy your jealous friends!

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    Members of the Guitar World crew paid a visit to the Carvin Guitars/Kiesel Guitars booth at the 2015 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.

    As you can see in the new video below, we got the rundown on Kiesel Guitars' Vader headless model, which generated a lot of interest at the NAMM Show.

    For more about Carvin and Kiesel Guitars, visit

    For more NAMM 2015 coverage, visit's official NAMM 2015 Zone, get updates on Facebook and photos and more on Twitter and Instagram. It's like you're at the show!

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    Julian Lage is much more than just a jazz musician.

    While his musical foundation is rooted firmly in the world of bebop and swing, his playing encapsulates the full breadth of 20th-century American music.

    The ghosts of Eddie Lang, Skip James, Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotton haunt his vintage Martin 000-18, with which he creates a sound that is distinctly modern yet deeply indebted to the American folk music tradition.

    Growing up in Northern California, Lage was something of a guitar prodigy. Practically before he could read, he was sitting in on jam sessions with David Grisman and Bela Fleck; and by his early teens, he was touring with legendary jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton.

    In addition to leading his own ensembles, Lage has since performed with too many stellar musicians to recount. Whether playing fiddle tunes with Punch Brother’s guitarist Chris Eldridge or free jazz explorations with experimental guitar wizard Nels Cline, his stunning virtuosity and melodic intrepidness are always on display.

    Lage’s upcoming release, World’s Fair, is a solo guitar project he says was inspired by classical master Andres Segovia. Though he’s quick to describe himself as a jazz guitarist first and foremost, World’s Fair showcases a more orchestral approach to the instrument. For Lage, the guitar is its own tiny orchestra, and in his hands the musical possibilities seem endless.

    While driving north to a gig in Portland, Oregon, with Cline, Julian spoke with me about his approach to improvisation, playing with dynamics and performing solo on his upcoming album.

    GUITAR WORLD: You have such a strong melodic sense to your playing. Even when you’re playing these fast, complicated lines, they always sound very musical. As a guitarist, it’s so easy to get stuck in certain patterns and shapes while playing a solo, but you seem to embrace what’s cool about the linear nature of the guitar while always retaining a high level of musicality. How do you keep this balance while improvising?

    Well, thank you, first of all. I think it’s a fascination I have with the guitar as a mechanism. I love the design, the open strings, the way it’s tuned—it can be challenging, and you’re totally right, there are traps you can fall into; but it’s also one of the most lyrical instruments in the sense that you can play really simple things and they will sound kind of righteous.

    Even just playing a C major triad can be so satisfying! I would say as a directive, what I envision starts with the guitar’s design. I don’t really have to avoid certain things; I just end up doing what sounds obvious to me. A big part of what gives my playing a sense of melody is that it has an intervallic architecture. I think in terms of ratios, where I will play a bunch of notes really close together chromatically and then notes that are wide apart. I’m almost playing with—not deception or illusion—but implying this breathing organism that is at times really tight and at others really open. This intervallic approach is how you get a different sense of orchestration that wouldn’t typically be applied to the guitar.

    I love the way you utilize dynamics. It creates such an expressive style that is so unique to you. How conscious are you of playing with a sense of dynamics?

    I think it’s as simple as that I’m a sucker for as wide a dynamic range as you can have on the guitar. I love Django Reinhardt, for example, who is the most unbelievably dynamic, fluid and dramatic player. I’m drawn to players that have a sense of drama, ones that know how to drip you and make you feel like the end of their solo coincides with the end of the world! I think you’re either drawn to that style or you have other ways of achieving drama.

    I’ve always been fascinated with what the opposite of that style of playing would be, because if I know what the opposite is, I can work in the other direction. So the opposite of dramatic playing might be very monotone and lack variation within the intervallic structure. Instead, I might purposely play with dips in volume and incorporate a balance of staccato and legato lines. It’s conscious in the sense that I’m making an effort to do it, but I always feel like I could do more. I think, “Man I could have made it sound so much more like a voice if I didn’t play those five notes at the same volume.” It’s always a work in progress.

    The compositions on this album incorporate a wide range of genres of essentially American music. There’s jazz, folk, bluegrass, it reminds me a lot of what David Grisman did back in the Seventies. How did you go about cultivating this style?

    Grisman is totally one of my life heroes, so is Bela Fleck—these are guys I was around a lot as a young person.

    People always say, “You know Grisman invented Dawg Music,” but if you listen, it was really just music. He took his favorite aspects of everything. I think rock bands do this all the time and so do pop artists to a large degree, but maybe in jazz it’s still kind of novel. People say, “Wow, you would take that and put it with that!” I still consider what I do jazz, but I totally agree with you that what I’m doing is distinctly American in a way. There are certain aesthetics on this record that you’re more likely to find in contemporary acoustic chamber music, American classical music and old-time fiddle music.

    The same is true with the rhythmic propulsion on the record. I purposely stayed away from playing anything with a swing feel, because I didn’t think solo guitar was the format for me to play swing. Instead, I incorporated things like Travis-picking styles and doo-wop styles. That feel is also a big part of what gives the music a location. So it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I was around people who did that very naturally and maybe I took it for granted.

    Speaking of swing feel, I’d imagine a lot of people would except this album to be more of a Joe Pass solo guitar thing, but it’s really not. You’ve said Segovia was a big influence for this album. Can you speak to that?

    Yeah, good point. Segovia is my hero. He and Julian Bream are just the greatest. It’s funny; when I was younger, I thought I wasn’t smart enough to like him. I thought his playing was the ultimate in virtuosity. But then when I started listening to him, as I got older, I thought, “This is music I could just put on in my house and listen to all day.” There was no elitism; it was just such rich music. There was also a legitimacy that Segovia brought to the guitar as a concert instrument. He made it so it was no longer this weakling trying to fit in with an orchestra, but also not this bombastic thing.

    What he did was on par with someone sitting down at a Steinway piano. So that was the inspiration: I wanted to make a record that I would want to listen to in the background. I also wanted to keep it consistent with having three to four minute songs I could play for anybody and not have to say, “Oh, I wish you could hear this with a bass player.”

    Segovia’s probably the all-time greatest example of that. I don’t pretend to think I’m on his level, and I’m also coming at it from a very different angle, but I do think it’s worth striving for. As for the Joe Pass and Martin Taylor School of solo guitar, those guys are insane! They’re so good. I also have enough respect for them to realize I don’t do what they do; and that since it already exists at such a high level, I should do something different.

    You mentioned to me earlier you’re currently driving to a gig with Nels. You’ve played in a number of intriguing duos already in your career. How would you compare solo playing to playing in a duo?

    Playing in a duo is kind of the dream for me. Playing with Nels is the ultimate. Pretty much every duo I’ve been a part of is because I like the person and they happen to play music and then we happen to play together. It hasn’t been deliberate like, “The sound of two guitars is what I’m looking for.” Instead it’s just been because I love Nels or whomever else I’m playing with. We just both happen to play guitar. Solo playing is about learning how to be stronger in different ways.

    A lot of my musical life has been about responding and interacting, and with solo guitar I still have to do that but with myself. I have to be very resourceful when it’s just me and enjoy even the little stuff that I play. It can’t all be explosive, fast stuff; I need more mundane, beautiful things. It’s sort of a lesson in self-compassion, because if you start to hate what you’re playing it can be a very long night. And then when I come back to a duo, it’s like I’ve come back to a big band. I feel like the sound just quintupled! That all makes it pretty fun, they go well together.

    For more about Lage, visit

    Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.53.56 PM.png

    Ethan Varian is a freelance writer and guitarist based in San Francisco. He has performed with a number of rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass groups in the Bay Area and in Colorado. You can view his music blog here.

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    First, the purpose of this column is to help you do more with your power chord progressions.

    If you think it’s over-simplified or over-complicated, then please consider the possibility that it’s simply mismatched with your skill level, before you comment.

    We also must consider the context of the information. Power chords are fairly simple.

    So all we want to do is expand their usefulness.

    To begin, consider the most basic power chord form:


    What exactly is this? A power chord, yes, but what’s it made up of?

    01. Root Note
    02. Perfect Fifth (Interval)

    The note at the third fret is our root (G), and the note at the fifth fret is our interval (D). We won’t discuss perfect fifth intervals here, but you can always read a more thorough explanation.

    This chord can also be called a G5.

    So what can we do with this chord? What’s the application?

    Obvious to most is that we can move the shape, thus combining chords and creating progressions.

    But if we know just a little bit about the makeup of this chord and the notes around it, we can manipulate the shape to get additional sounds and musical pieces, that can be used, without even having to break from our root note.

    Let’s start simple.

    01. Move the interval note.

    Before you go moving the entire chord, the interval is moveable on its own. Try the following pattern:


    The notes on the fifth string become your melody and the root G holds as your bass note. If you want the entire pattern to function as a melody over a bass line in the key of G, move it to a higher register where your root note doesn’t change.

    For example:


    Now, instead of having a stagnant power chord, you’ve got a method for breaking in and out of a melody.

    In any situation where you’re playing a power chord, you can apply the same principle.

    02. Build a redacted major or minor chord.

    I don’t know if “redacted” is an official musical term, but what I mean is that you can use your power chord root with other intervals to create different chords.

    So instead of just holding onto the perfect fifth for dear life, try some of these dyadic variations:


    It’s just different intervals patched into your root note, but it’s simple and gives you some versatility to add in when you want a different flavor.

    03. Adjust to different power chords.

    The root and perfect fifth combo is the power chord in a sense, but it’s not the only one that can be useful.

    Here are a few more dynamic replacements.


    04. Build out some seventh chords.

    Seventh chords sound bluesy, but the seventh interval can add intrigue to any power chord progression, without regard to genre.

    Start with some simple major and minor seventh forms:


    05. Leave out the root note.

    If another instrument is handling the root note, like a bass or rhythm guitar, then you can free up that finger by omitting the root. Once you do, you can use it to add other tones and intervals to your chord.

    Take the following G11, for example:


    You can see that omitting the root G would make this chord much easier and would allow us to focus on adding more variety.


    Does it technically change some of the chord’s theoretical properties? Sure.

    But that’s not an issue if you understand what you’re doing and if your bass player has you covered.

    The same method can be applied to the following barre chord:


    Simply disregard the root G and just play the next three notes. You might have an easier time adding notes in the higher register, like the perfect fifth (D) that I highlighted in red.


    Your Thoughts

    My hope is that discussion about this material wouldn’t center on whether it’s too easy or too hard. It should be evident that such discrepancy is dependent on the skill of the individual and that this content isn’t challenging enough for some and too challenging for others.

    On the other hand, if you have additions, constructive criticism, corrections or potentially intriguing observations about this material, let me know in the comments below or via Guitar World’s social media outposts.

    Thanks for reading!

    Image courtesy of Guitar Chalk Media.

    Robert Kittleberger is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

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    Screaming Females' new album, Rose Mountain, will be released February 24 via Don Giovanni Records.

    It also marks the New Jersey punk trio's 10th anniversary together!

    To celebrate, Screaming Females have partnered with Guitar World and some of the biggest names in the industry to give one lucky player the same set-up as the band's guitarist, Marissa Paternoster.

    The prize pack includes a copy of Rose Mountain, a G&L Tribute Series S-500 guitar, a TSVG Hard Stuff Boost pedal, an Earthbound Audio Super Collider fuzz pedal, a 12-pack of GHS guitar strings and a Hip Strap guitar strap from Slinger Straps.

    For more information, and everything you need to enter the contest, HEAD HERE.

    To check out Screaming Females' new album, Rose Mountain, on iTunes, step right this way!


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    This is an excerpt from the all-new March 2015 issue of Guitar World, which features an interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. For the rest of this interview, plus our guide to the 30 greatest classic Black Sabbath songs, plus gear views, tabs, lessons and more, check out the March 2015 issue of GW at the Guitar World Online Store.

    It’s rare that a band emerges and, with one inspired release, simultaneously launches and perfects a genre of music.

    Such is the singular case of Black Sabbath. Their 1970 self-titled debut, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, took the heavy blues and hard-rock idioms that came before and infused them with anthemic tritone riffs, doom-laden drum tempos, maniacal vocals and diabolical lyrics.

    Black Sabbath’s pioneering sound would later be christened heavy metal, and in many people’s minds that album still reigns supreme as the best representation of the genre. Many influential bands in their own right have come along and made contributions to heavy music, but all of them—from Judas Priest and Van Halen to Metallica and Soundgarden—hail the supremacy of Black Sabbath.

    Below, enjoy an excerpt from Guitar World's new interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Interestingly enough, Butler—who was arrested in California this past Tuesday for assault and vandalism—discussed fighting, including a brawl with skinheads that took place several decades ago.

    GUITAR WORLD: Geezer, you’ve mentioned before that “Fairies Wear Boots,” [from 1970’s Paranoid] was inspired by a confrontation you guys had with skinheads. Being a longhair yourself, did you run into a lot of problems in England back then?

    GEEZER BUTLER There used to be fighting all the time. I used to be a football [soccer] fan—well, I still am—and I’d go down to watch the [Aston] Villa [Football Club]. I had long hair at the time.

    Then this one day, the skinheads, or hooligans, turned on the people with long hair, even though we were fans too. So after that I couldn’t go down there. This other time we did this gig in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare [in North Somerset, England], and we had a fight with all these skinheads. I think that’s where the lyrics for “Fairies Wear Boots” came from.

    Do you remember what kicked off the fight?

    BUTLER We didn’t get paid! [laughs] I was the one that used to go collect the check. We’d had this problem where we’d go collect our money and the guy would go, “Oh no, we sent the check in the post [mail].” We were promised that we’d get the money on the night, so I went to the promoter to get it. And he said, “Oh, I already sent it to your manager.”

    I went outside to the telephone to make a call to the manager and I got surrounded by all these bloody skinheads, going, “Kill him! Kill him!” So I had to time it right so I could throw the phone at them and leg it back into the gig. [laughs] I told Tony, and of course he said, “Come on, let’s go.” And he grabs a microphone stand and we went out for a battle with them. Fucking nuts.

    Parental groups and decency nags always bemoan the satanic and occult allusions in Black Sabbath lyrics. But Geezer, you were also writing about current social issues, too, on the track “War Pigs.” Were you following the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement and political unrest going on at the time in the United States?

    It was actually being covered more [in the press] in England than in America. They had this program on in England, and it showed all the stuff that wasn’t being told to the American people. Stuff like how the president [Lyndon Johnson]’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, had this road-building company. The Americans would go in and bomb all these roads [in Vietnam]. Then her company would go in and rebuild them and get the money. They weren’t saying all that in America. We wrote “War Pigs” because many American bands were frightened to mention anything about the war. So we thought we’d tell it like it is.

    In 1971, you released Master of Reality, which saw the band experimenting a bit more with tracks like “Solitude” and the acoustic instrumental “Orchid.” Tony, had you always played acoustic or did you pick it up around that time?

    TONY IOMMI No, I never played acoustic that much at all really. I don’t even remember where we did that track, to be honest. I think the idea on the album was to have a bit of light and shade and relax it from the heavier stuff.

    Speaking of heavier stuff, what were you coughing on during that intro to “Sweet Leaf”?

    IOMMI [laughs] I choked me bloody self! It wasn’t intended to happen, and it wasn’t supposed to be on the track. We were in the studio tracking that song, and Ozzy gave me a joint and I nearly choked myself. The tape was on, so of course they wanted to use it to begin the track.

    BUTLER You couldn’t have gotten anything more appropriate for a song called “Sweet Leaf.” [laughs]

    That’s the truth. But the title “Sweet Leaf” was actually inspired by a different type of smoke, right?

    BUTLER Yeah the name “Sweet Leaf” came from the [Irish brand of] cigarettes called Sweet Afton. I’d just come back from Dublin. Everyone smoked back then, so I’d be offering them all cigarettes. You’d open the top of the package and it said something like, “It’s the sweet leaf.” I thought, Hmmm, That’s a good title.

    The following year, Sabbath headed to Los Angeles’ Record Plant Studios to track Vol. 4, on which you broke new ground with “Changes.” It’s a piano ballad, and the lyrics are quite touching, which makes it a very unusual track for Sabbath.

    IOMMI It was a sad track as well. We were staying in this house and there was a ballroom with a piano in it. It was back in the days of doing a bit of blow and staying up late. And I just started playing and coming up with this idea. We had a Mellotron and Geez started to play the orchestrations. It fit well and came about pretty quickly, considering we’d never done anything like that before.

    Photo: Ross Halfin

    This is an excerpt from the all-new March 2015 issue of Guitar World, which features an interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. For the rest of this interview, plus our guide to the 30 greatest classic Black Sabbath songs, plus gear views, tabs, lessons and more, check out the March 2015 issue of GW at the Guitar World Online Store.

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    Hello, gang!

    Today I have a video blog for you.

    Since this is the "Session Guitar" column, I thought you might be interested in seeing and hearing some of the thought process involved in a song production breakdown!

    What you will be watching is a screen shot of the session files for a song called "Getting Out of My Own Way." You'll see each individual track played or programmed in creating a successful production. The song was recorded in 2012. The singer/songwriter is Jennifer Vazquez, a very talented vocalist and writer from Da Bronx, NY.

    The song ultimately found its way into the movie Sleeping with the Fishes on HBO and won several awards along the way. The movie was written and directed by Nicole Gomez Fisher and stars Gina Rodriguez from Jane the Virgin.

    Lesson here: You never know where your work will be heard, so always do the best you can!

    I played, recorded, arranged and mixed the song entirely "in the box" using Nuendo and several choice plugins, especially the Universal Audio Powered Plugs.

    Here's the production video:

    There's also a second video of the actual song and video. This is where you want to go to hear the actual final mix. Check it out below:

    Thanks again and enjoy the vids!

    Ron Zabrocki is a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. Says Ron: "I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just thought everyone started that way. I could sight read anything within a few years, and that helped me become a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could find and had some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played several jingle sessions (and have written a few along the way). I’ve “ghosted” for a few people who shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I get the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    When going to an open jam, it’s important to be prepared to improvise over any one of the dozens of standard blues-type songs that are routinely played at jams all over the world.

    Along with the typical 12-bar and eight-bar blues forms, there are a few specific songs that feature their own distinct patterns and forms.

    One of these tunes is the Albert King classic, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” a track covered brilliantly by Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker on the essential Cream album, Wheels of Fire.

    Cream played the song in the key of G, but it was originally recorded by King in the key of C#. The following examples are played in the song’s original key of C#.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    In the Holiday 2014 and January 2015 installments of Metal for Life, I talked about the advantages of using drop-D tuning (low to high, D A D G B E) and demonstrated some cool things you can do with it.

    This month I’d like to revisit this topic and show you some additional metal-style riffs played in this tuning, with an emphasis on unusual melodic intervals.

    As I mentioned previously, drop-D tuning is great for metal because, along with the extended low range and resulting additional “heaviness” provided by the detuned sixth string, it enables one to conveniently fret power chords on the bottom two or three strings by simply barring one finger across the strings at any given fret.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    This month I’d like to tell you about a Steel Panther song called “Weenie Ride,” from our multi-maxi-selling 2012 album, Balls Out.

    “Weenie Ride” was our very first piano ballad. Our first album, Feel the Steel, was a huge hit in Asian countries, and everyone knows that they love piano over there, so we decided to include a piano ballad on our next record. Pretty smart, right?

    Also, when I go to Disneyland I usually see a lot of Asians, and there are a lot of rides at Disneyland, most of them with long lines. So I put two and two together and wrote “Weenie Ride,” which, by the way, has a much shorter line! Just jump right on!

    “Weenie Ride” is built around a piano part in the key of A minor. There is, of course, a bitchin’ guitar solo in the song, which I am going to show you in this column. A note about the guitar tuning: I always tune down one half step, like Eddie Van Halen. But when we recorded “Weenie Ride,” I played the solo on a standard-tuned guitar.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Last month, I demonstrated some effective ways to incorporate the techniques of sweep picking and fretboard tapping into a single arpeggio-based run.

    As you recall, we started out using minor seven arpeggios and then mutated them into minor seven flat-five.

    This month, I’d like to apply these same concepts to other arpeggio types, or qualities, namely major seven, major seven sharp 11 and major seven sharp five.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Note: Due to the timing of the 2015 Winter NAMM Show, a touch of inclement weather in New York City (The storm wasn't so terrible in NYC, but several flights were canceled) and a few other invariables, several videos pertaining to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World are still "coming soon." We'll add them to this file as soon as they're available. We're sorry about the delay!

    Lesson Videos

    In Deep with Andy Aledort: Jamming Rhythm and Lead Guitar Over a Classic Blues-Type Form — Video
    Metal for Life with Metal Mike: Exploring Drop-D Tuning’s Unique Melodic Possibilities — Video
    Man of Steel with Steel Panther's Satchel: Using Classical-Style Arpeggios, and How to Play the Solo in “Weenie Ride” — Video
    Thrash Course with Dave Davidson: More Melodic Options for Combining Sweeping and Tapping Techniques — Video

    Audio Lesson Files

    Coming soon!

    Gear Review Videos

    Coming soon!

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.


    Used extensively by DJs, the Korg Kaoss pad is a touchpad MIDI controller that allows real-time manipulation of its internal effects engine for line-in signals or audio samples.

    Despite its intended audience, the Kaoss has made its way into the rigs of some noteworthy guitarists, including Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Nels Cline of Wilco, and Muse’s Matt Bellamy, who had one built into his custom guitar so he could manually trigger synthesized sounds.

    The innovative folks at Ibanez have taken this to the next level with the RG Kaoss RGKP6, an affordable guitar that integrates Korg’s mini kaoss pad 2S to give players a great way to manipulate effects, samples and loops in real time.

    For the rest of this review, including FEATURES, PERFORMANCE, the BOTTOM LINE and more, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.


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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.


    Way back in 1979, Maxon developed the first 808 overdrive pedal (which was marketed in the United States as the Ibanez Tube Screamer).

    Over the past 20 years, the 808 has become one of the most widely coveted, copied and modified pedal circuits of all time. As great as the original 808 pedal is, there are many who feel that it could be improved, especially players with more modern tastes in tone.

    Who better to improve the 808 than the folks at Maxon themselves? The new Maxon OD808X is faithful in spirit to the original green overdrive, but it offers increased output, wider frequency response and much more aggressive gain characteristics to satisfy the needs of today’s players.

    For the rest of this review, including FEATURES, PERFORMANCE, the BOTTOM LINE and more, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.


    Thanks to the inconsistent quality control of the original Fuzz Face pedals, Jimi Hendrix carried six different Fuzz Face pedals with him when he was on tour and chose the one that was behaving the best before that night’s gig.

    Eventually, he settled on an unusual (and possibly custom) red Fuzz Face pedal with white control knobs. He was seen using this unit onstage during his legendary Woodstock and Fillmore East/Band of Gypsys gigs.

    That pedal vanished long ago, but the mad sound scientists at Jim Dunlop have duplicated the exact same sizzling, aggressive character of Jimi’s red box. Even better, they’ve packed it in the ultra-compact Fuzz Face Mini package that is much more compatible with today’s pedal boards.

    For the rest of this review, including FEATURES, PERFORMANCE, the BOTTOM LINE and more, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the March 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    One of my favorite scales for rock lead playing and creating harmonized melodies is minor hexatonic.

    As the name implies, it’s a six-note scale, and it is theoretically formed by adding the three notes of a minor triad to the three notes of a major triad rooted one whole step below.

    For example, combining E minor (E G B) and D major (D F# A) gives you E minor hexatonic (E F# G A B D). The scale has a dark, serious quality that is intriguing and effective for creating a pensive musical mood.

    This month, I’d like to show you some cool things you can do with the minor hexatonic scale, which we will then use as a reference point in subsequent columns for exploring other differently shaded but equally appealing hexatonics.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the March 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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