Disc Makers/Backstage is offering a prize package custom designed for serious musicians! Right now, you can enter to win the following <strong>CD Production Package</strong> ($795), <strong>Digital Distribution Package</strong> ($59) and an <strong>Epiphone Guitar Amp</strong> ($714). Total Prize Package Value: $1,568!
Disc Makers/Backstage is offering a special prize package custom designed for serious musicians!
Right now, you can enter to win the following:
• CD Production Package
o 300 CDs in Four-Panel Digipacks
o Value: $795
• Digital Distribution Package
o Music is distributed to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
o Value: $59
• Epiphone Guitar Amp
o Limited Edition Inspired by “1939” Century amplifier with foot pedal
o Value: $714
Total Prize Package Value: $1,568
More about the Epiphone “1939” Century amp:
This amp is an Epiphone classic for the 21st century! The Epiphone “1939” Century is a faithful replica of the classic 1930s-era cabinet design including bent rims, an all-metal handle, 6-point star screws and vintage style grill cloth but with newly designed all-tube electronics. With updated, modern electronics, the Century is an 18-watt all-tube, guitar amplifier with a 12” Electar speaker and includes three uniquely voiced inputs and an internal bias adjustment for further tone control. The Century is an Art Deco era masterpiece harkening back to Epiphone’s early days in Manhattan.
For even more about this amp, visit epiphone.com. You also can watch the demo video below.
Dwight Yoakam will release a new album, Second Hand Heart, April 14.
The album marks the multiple Grammy Award winner's return to the Warner family. Yoakam released a series of albums on Reprise Records beginning with his debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., in 1986.
Yoakam self-produced Second Hand Heart, which was mixed by engineer Chris Lord-Alge, who also co-produced three tracks with Yoakam ("She,""Believe" and "The Big Time"). The album features two covers, Anthony Crawford's "V's of Birds" and the traditional "Man of Constant Sorrow." Yoakam penned the other eight songs.
I know! It’s so hard to find just the perfect gift for that someone special.
That’s why we’re here to help.
This year, if your honey is into acoustic guitar, we’ve got some great ideas for a Valentine’s surprise.
You’ll be super thoughtful and no one needs to know you didn’t think of these awesome gifts yourself
We’ll never tell…
Kyser Handmade Straps
Remember when you were a kid and you created handmade valentines? Well, think of these lovely straps as a handmade alternative for grownup guitar-players.
These beautiful handmade guitar straps straps feature a front elastic/leather slip (the "capo-keeper") for secure storage of your Kyser Quick-Change capo when not in use. The "capo-keeper" can also easily and securely hold a slide or a harmonica.
Kyser guitar straps are made from recycled leather and their unique design features a padded 2” body that leads to an extra-long tail which can be adjusted from 45" in length to 55". There are 12 unique and completely custom designs. Match one with your favorite colored Kyser Quick-Change capo.
Kyser guitar straps and Quick-Change capos are 100% made in the USA.
MSRP for straps: $69.95 each
MSRP for Quick-Change capos: $24.95
What's more traditional than the gift of red roses on Valentine's day? And what cooler gift could there be than a guitar featuring a red rose that would never wilt and keep giving the gift of music and beauty for a lifetime?
Luna Guitars' Acoustic/Electric Rose embraces the sound hole and trails gracefully onto the lower bout. The red tinted abalone blossoms are stunning against the blonde quilt maple top. A remarkable instrument to give voice to one's own love and passion through music.
Want to really say, “You are special and unique?” Here’s a gift that they can’t help but notice!
This is the eighth incarnation of C. F. Martin IV’s “CEO’s Choice” series, with favored specifications selected by Chris Martin. Martin’s largest acoustic body size, the Grand Jumbo, delivers great value for all of the included features.
Each CEO-8 Special Edition comes with stage ready D-TAR Wave-length Multi-Source electronics and bears an interior label individually numbered in sequence and personally signed by C. F. Martin IV.
A gorgeous red cover reveals even more gorgeous photos inside.
The rich saturation of color in Lisa S. Johnson's ground-breaking photographic vision documents not only some of culture's most important rock star guitars, it also recounts how the instrument itself has become the essential symbol of rock. Johnson accompanies her images with text cultivated from her experiences and interviews that personify the musician who plays the instrument.
Here, the guitar is made exotic, sensuous, and evocative - it transforms from an instrument into an artwork. Some of the guitars included are those of Eric Clapton, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Rick Nielsen, Brian Setzer, Chrissie Hynde, Ace Frehley, Carlos Santana, Jack White and many others. Foreword by the late, legendary Les Paul.
For the guitar-lover on our list!
Includes padded-leatherette hardcover book, 16-page booklet describing inspiration behind project, a guitar pick printed with one of three holographic foil designs.
Got a banjo-loving honey? This gift is for you! Recording King's USA Custom 6 Banjo is the perfect combination of guitar-style playability with banjo appointments. RK takes a hand-selected maple resonator, and pairs it with a tube-and-plate 2-piece flange and dual coordinator rods.
It's guitar player-friendly, with a truss-rod-adjustable maple neck and 25.4” dreadnought scale. The 1-11/16" nut with allows for comfortable banjo picking, but is still narrow enough to fret chords comfortably. The bone nut and maple/ebony bridge help deliver the percussive sound banjo players love.
It's finished with a hand-inlaid Recording King peghead design, Tone Pros Kluson tuners, nickel-plated hardware and an electrifying candy apple red lacquer finish, perfect for your Valentine.
The Custom 6 is for guitar players who want something out of the ordinary, or for banjo players who want an instrument guaranteed to start a conversation.
Guitar strings can pull heartstrings! We’re talking strength, reliability, just want you want in a partner. Plus great tone, of course!
Developed over three years of engineering and innovating, NY Steel is a proprietary alloy with unprecedented pitch stability and remarkable strength. First presented to the public in D'Addario NYXL electric guitar strings, this technology has now been added to their coated acoustic sets for the ultimate in tone, strength, and reliability.
Wow, wow, wow. If this doesn’t say “Be My Valentine,” no guitar could.
You’ll immediately notice the fun, one-of-a-kind look of the Alkaline Trio Malibu™ acoustic guitar. The Chicago punk band has create one of the most distinctive Fender acoustic models ever made, with its immediately recognizable heart-shaped rosette and cool looking all-mahogany construction.
The Fender Malibu guitar style dates to the late ’60s and offers a comfortable folk-sized body with a sweet, articulate tone great for beach parties, unplugged gigs and much more.
And with its maple Stratocaster® neck with a comfortable “C” profile, the Alkaline Trio Malibu also feels great to electric guitarists.
Had your heart broken trying to learn how to play guitar? A great guitar should be easy to fall in love with. And easy to play.
Epiphone’s new PRO-1 Collection was designed by pros to make learning guitar easy. And when you're ready play live, the PRO-1 Ultra plugs into any PA or amp with the Shadow® Performer™ preamp and NanoFlex™ pickup system. The PRO-1 Ultra also features a Solid Spruce top for superior sound with beautiful 5-layer Ivory and Black binding along and all of the PRO Collection's breakthrough innovations.
Solid Spruce Top
Shadow® Performer™ preamp and NanoFlex™ pickup system
All the PRO-1 Collection’s Innovative Features
Beautiful Wine Red Finish
This year, make the Epiphone PRO-1 Ultra your Valentine!
A beautiful guitar in a gorgeous wood says, well, “You’re beautiful and gorgeous!” And this one is a limited edition stunner.
Hawaiian koa’s rich and earthy complexion brings an exotic look to one of Taylor’s most popular and portable guitars on this limited edition GS Mini.
The all-koa model features a pickguard-free top of solid Hawaiian koa, layered koa back and sides, plus an onboard ES-T pickup. The hardwood koa top will yield a focused response with a splash of extra top-end chime.
Other standard GS Mini appointments include an all-matte finish, 5mm dot fretboard inlays, a 3-ring rosette, and chrome tuners. The guitar ships in a GS Mini hard bag.
To celebrate the release of Jimmy Page’s new photo book, Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, the guitar legend appeared with Chris Cornell, guitarist and singer for Soundgarden, at the Theater at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for a relaxed question-and-answer session that spanned the entirety of Page’s 50-year career.
Sponsored by Genesis Publications, Gibson Custom, Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado, the hour-and-a-half event, which took place last November, enthralled a packed house of 1,400 fans as Cornell quizzed Page about the rare photos and memorabilia—many drawn from Page’s personal archives—which were projected on an enormous screen hovering above both men.
The 70-year-old Page, with his silver hair, scarf and black leather jacket, looked as sharp as a James Bond super villain, while Cornell, in thick-rimmed glasses, evoked a hipster newsman.
The subject matter ran the gamut from extremely light and frothy to the serious matter of drummer John Bonham’s untimely death, of which Page commented, “when we lost 25 percent of the band, we really lost the whole thing.”
Among the more humorous moments was when Cornell took note of a photo of Page wearing a bright—but very tight—red sweater emblazoned with his “Zoso” symbol. Page explained that a friend’s girlfriend had knit it for him, but when he sweated onstage, it immediately started to shrink.
Below, we present part 1 of this Guitar World video series. Be sure to check back every week for the next episode! Don't worry, we'll remind you.
YouTube is a never-ending source of historic archive footage, creative short films and, well, lots of videos of cats.
The clip below found its way into my email inbox by way of Guitar World Senior Music Editor Jimmy Brown. While not much of a video, the audio portion is what's really special; it's Cliff Burton's solo bass track from the Master of Puppets instrumental epic "Orion."
According to its YouTube page, the video was posted in 2009, and the track was almost certainly ripped from Guitar Hero: Metallica.
Old though it may be, it's still too cool a find not to share. Take it away, Cliff!
Guitar World and the Music Zoo invite you to the event of a lifetime.
Together, we’re granting you an all-access Master Class with Guthrie Govan.
Famed for his super-versatile ability to play just about any style under the sun and his impeccable improvisational skills, Govan is hailed as one of the most skilled guitarists of this generation.
Ever since his playthrough of his instrumental track “Fives” went viral around six years ago, Govan has remained in the spotlight among guitar players around the world and continues to push the boundaries of guitar music with his band, the Aristocrats.
At 6 p.m. February 23, Govan will appear at the Music Zoo in Roslyn (Long Island), New York (less than an hour outside of Manhattan), to host a Master Class followed by a clinic and gear demo. The night also will include a Q&A session moderated by Guitar World contributing editor and columnist Andy Aledort. The evening will culminate with a meet-and-greet for everyone in attendance.
This is one of very few Master Classes Govan has hosted in the U.S., so don’t miss this rare opportunity!
Tickets are available here. Each ticket allows one person to enter the event, so please buy one ticket per attendee. The event will take place at the Haute/Durvo event space within the Music Zoo complex. For more information, visit themusiczoo.com.
Remember the time Slash overstayed his welcome during a live appearance with Michael Jackson?
We didn't either—until we stumbled upon this wacky video!
In the clip, which you can check out below, it seems as though Slash reeeeally doesn't wasn't to get off the stage—and doesn't want his guitar solo to end.
Meanwhile, an "outraged" Jackson keeps dancing, hoping Slash will take the hint ... but he doesn't. Jackson even sidles up to the guitarist and tells him (OK, screams at him!) to stop playing ... to no avail. Next, Jackson's crew gets involved, and Slash fights them off!
Obviously, this event was staged—a total fake. We all know Slash is a humble guy and one of the nicest personalities in rock. Either way, the clip is enjoyable in its own deranged way.
Thoughts? If you have anything to add, let us know in the comments or on Facebook!
Seymour Duncan has introduced the Studio Bass Compressor pedal.
From the company:
The Studio Bass Compressor is a studio-grade soft-knee compressor designed for bassists who want to take control of the dynamics of their sound, from a subtle smoothing-out of peaks and valleys to the most squished and pinched extremes and everywhere in between.
It's extremely low noise and has an easy-to-use control format: The Blend knob allows you to adjust the amount of wet signal so you can bring natural snap back into your individual notes. The Volume knob lets you control the output (or you can push it up and lower the Compression for a great clean boost).
The Attack knob regulates how quickly the compressor reacts to your initial pick attack—cranking it up will give a late attack that allows your pick or finger dynamics to come through before the compression kicks in. The Compressor knob is the heart of the pedal and allows you to easily control the dynamic range.
The Studio Bass Compressor combines features not normally seen, like the Low/Full/Mid switch that can restore some of the dynamic range lost in compression and it allows you to choose to be frequency selective or dial it in full range. It also fattens up the compressed signal for thick and heavy reggae sounds. Or you can use it to simply make sure your effected sound remains consistent with your bypassed bass tone.
Other features not commonly seen are the Automatic Gain Compensation, which compensates for input gain loss as the compression and attack controls are adjusted. The pedal will also automatically increase the compression ratio as the signal approaches the threshold. This allows it to function more like a limiter if needed.
Unlike most compressors with hard-knee thresholds, the SD Studio Bass compressor gradually enters into compression at a lower ratio prior to the signal reaching the threshold. This slower onset of compression provides a more natural, transparent sound, especially at low compression levels.
The Studio Bass Compressor is incredibly versatile: you can easily go from a subtle compression that gently smoothes things out all the way to a high compression that balances the dynamics in slap-style playing to keep each note from being too harsh or overbearing. Rock players can effortlessly summon powerful midrange punch while maintaining a fat bottom end. Bassists who prefer a more vintage sound can dial in a nice even mixture of top, mid and bottom frequencies.
The Studio Bass Compressor is assembled at the Seymour Duncan factory in Santa Barbara, California, and like all Seymour Duncan effect pedals is 100 percent true-bypass.
Buffalo, NY based solo acoustic artist Casey Bolles released a new music video for "Inside Voices" off of his latest EP, Freshman, along with announcing a limited cassette release of the EP.
This will be the only pressing available for Casey’s spring touring schedule. The purchase of a cassette comes with a free download of the record. Purchase here.
With music geared towards pulling the heartstrings of any listener, Casey’s songwriting is a passionate blend of anger and sadness that is brutally honest and unapologetic.
His newest EP, 'Freshman', has turned heads of listeners since its release on December 30th, 2014.
Watch the video for "Inside Voices" here:
Casey plans to spend 2015 on the road, starting with a northeast run with A Will Away this spring.
3/20/2015 Freehold, NJ with Casey Bolles Game Changer
3/21/2015 Worcester, MA with Casey Bolles The Raven
3/22/2015 Buffalo, NY with Casey Bolles Studio @ Waiting Room
3/23/2015 Rochester, NY with Casey Bolles The Vineyard
3/24/2015 Toronto, ON with Casey Bolles Smiling Buddha
3/25/2015 Erie, PA with Casey Bolles Basement Transmissions
3/26/2015 Columbus, OH with Casey Bolles Donatos Basement
3/27/2015 Nashville, TN Exponent Manor
3/28/2015 Atlanta, GA Swayze's
3/30/2015 Tampa, FL The Goat House
3/31/2015 North Miami, FL Anonymous Guitars
4/1/2015 Orlando, FL Backbooth
4/2/2015 Charleston, SC Big Gun Burger
4/3/2015 Columbia, SC House Show
4/4/2015 Richmond, VA House Show
4/7/2015 Baltimore, MD Sidebar
4/8/2015 Philadelphia, PA The Fire
4/9/2015 Naugatuck, CT The Factory
4/10/2015 Amityville, NY Amityville Music Hall
4/12/2015 Brooklyn, NY Coco 66
The D’Addario Foundation is very pleased to announce that it will be offering a full scholarship covering all expenses for one guitar student to attend the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival at the end of this summer — a week of guitar heaven!
Ideally they are looking for a student that would not be able to afford this opportunity otherwise and who would greatly benefit from this experience.
The weeklong event includes 6 days of workshops in blues, rock. jazz, classical, acoustic, singer-songwriter, bass & beginner, workshops in jamming and nightly concerts.
This is an intimate setting that provides a unique opportunity for camaraderie and interaction among all participants, faculty and artists in residence.
Student Applicant Profile considered for a D’Addario Scholarship: • Between 16 – 25 years old • Highly accomplished guitarist, committed to pursuing the guitar as a career • Open to all genres of music • Well rounded, collaborative, positive and upbeat individual who has a proven strong work ethic • Can positively represent the D’Addario Foundation • Candidate must be comfortable being photographed and filmed. • Open to U.S. Residents only.
What They Need From Applicants: • Name, age, address, email, phone, website, social sites or other relevant information. • A detailed description explaining why someone is a good candidate, what their level of need is, where they are in their practice and studies that makes the timing of this good. • A short video or photo of the student, if possible.
Please submit information to the D’Addario Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. They will make a final decision by the end of February 2015.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the premiere of "Bad Child," a new song by Bachman, Randy Bachman's new band.
The song, which is from Bachman's new album, Heavy Blues, features Joe Bonamassa on guitar. You can check it out below.
Heavy Blues will be released April 14.
Bachman, the force behind classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive tunes like “Takin’ Care of Business,"“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and “American Woman," is a major fan of classic Sixties blues rock, and that is evident on Heavy Blues.
“I went back and I simplified so many songs,” Bachman said. “I had written so many songs, and Kevin Shirley would say to me, ‘This is really great, but it’s got 12 chords. Take out 10 of them and make it a two-chord song.’
"And I go, ‘Wow, yeah, but it’s going to change the whole song and the melody line,’ and he’d say, ‘Yeah, so be it. Go and change it.’ So I’d go and change it, and it’d become more of a Bo Diddley thing, like in ‘Confessin’ to the Devil.’”
Bonamassa, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Robert Randolph, Scott Holiday (Rival Sons), Luke Doucet and the late Jeff Healey contributed their unique guitar licks to various tracks, all of which were written by Bachman.
“They’ve all been heroes, and they’ve all been friends,” Bachman said.
One of the Great White North’s favorite musical sons, Bachman co-founded the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, earning more than 120 gold and platinum albums/singles as a performer and producer and amassing more than 40 million in record sales. He’s also no stranger to garnering Number 1 spots on radio playlists, having done so in more than 20 countries.
For more information, visit randybachman.com. Check out "Bad Child" below, plus an EPK for the new album!
They've had Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in their ranks—and let's not forget the late Gypie Mayo and Hellecasters guitarist Jerry Donahue.
Now the Yardbirds are back in action, with a set of tour dates and a new lineup that features the group's pre-Clapton lead guitarist, Top Topham. He joins founding member and drummer Jim McCarty, keeper of the band's flame.
In addition to Topham and McCarty, the group's lineup now includes bassist Kenny Aaronson, Myke Scavone on blues harp, vocals and percussion and lead guitarist/singer John Idan, who performed on the Yardbirds' 2003 album, Birdland.
Of course, it is the Yardbirds' Sixties output for which the group remains famous. McCarty cofounded the band in London in 1963 with singer Keith Relf, rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and Topham. The band went through a series of names—the Metropolitan Blues Quartet and then the Blue-Sounds—before settling on the Yardbirds as a tribute to jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker and the freight-train vagabonds who hung around the London train yards.
Topham was just a lad when the Yardbirds formed. When his parents disapproved of his music career, he left the band and continued his studies, watching from the sidelines while the Yardbirds found fame during the British Invasion.
His spot was filled by a young electric blues protege—Clapton. Soon after, the band began to turn away from blues and toward the more lucrative opportunities presented by pop music. Unhappy with the band's new direction, Clapton departed and was replaced by Beck. Jimmy Page joined the lineup as a bass player, but when Beck went off to start his own group, Page assumed lead guitar duties. Eventually, he found himself leading the group, which then morphed into the New Yardbirds before becoming Led Zeppelin.
McCarty, Dreja and Samwell-Smith regrouped for a 25th anniversary show in 1985 and went on to form the band Box of Frogs, which occasionally included Beck and Page. The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and reformed later in the Nineties.
The group's tour itinerary is below. More dates will be announced shortly.
2015 Yardbirds Tour Dates
April 03 - Norfolk, CT - Infinity Hall
April 04 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun
April 06 - New York, NY - BB King Blues Club & Grill
April 09 - Bethlehem, PA - Musikfest Cafe
April 10 - Beverley, MA - Larcom Theatre
April 11 - Plymouth, NH – The Flying Monkey
April 12 - Newton, NJ – The Newton Theatre
The guitar, which is listed as "REAL METAL guitar for sale—$400 (Union Square)," is an Ibanez DT350.
"It's the X series, so it's serious as shit," the New York City-based guitar seller writes. "[It's] not for wimp rock or doom metal. It's only for serious riffs and metal.
"It's from 1984 (most likely older than you or your favorite shitty bands). It plays Eighties metal perfectly—Kreator, Motorhead, maybe some Venom, Judas Priest, Randy Rhoads (but if you want to play Randy Rhoads, you should buy a Randy Rhoads, you scum).
"This guitar can also play Motley Crue and Megadeth. This guitar will be perfect for playing in a Motley Crue cover band (but you don't, though, because you don't have the chops).
"THIS GUITAR WILL NOT PLAY DOOM METAL. This guitar needs to play GOOD RIFFS and not BORING doom riffs. If your favorite band is Black Sabbath, I can't sell this guitar to you. If you own a Fender or Gibson and want to upgrade, I can't sell this to you (Ibanez Japanese guitars are the PRIME of guitar craftsmanship crafted by the ancient Japanese wizards—if you think otherwise, you haven't played one of these HEAVY METAL BATTLE TANKS.)
"If you want to play REAL GUITAR RIFFS, this guitar is for you! If you have a Marshall full-stack in your bedroom, THIS GUITAR IS FOR YOU. If you say you are ready to buy this guitar and show up to buy it wearing a Mastodon shirt, I can't sell it to you. I MEAN RIFFS, not some banjo jangle pentatonic shit. If you own an HM2, this guitar is perfect. You can get the perfect chainsaw distortion with these HOT HIGH GAIN RAIL PICKUPS. Real riffs only.
"If you want me to travel to you, throw in a pack of smokes. If you want me to travel to Brooklyn, throw in smokes and another 5 bucks for subway fare (total $405 and a pack of cigs)."
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of a new song—and lyric video—by the Answer.
The track, "Long Live the Renegades," is from the Irish band's new album, Raise a Little Hell, which will be released March 17 via Napalm Records.
The song is "a bit of a rocker," the band said in a press release. "We tried a slightly different production technique on this track by keeping it very dry.
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality. This is our fifth album, and we’ve gone back to our earlier blues and roots style with what we think are harder rockin’ grooves. Hope you like it as much as we do!"
Raise a Little Hell was produced by Guillermo Will Maya and mixed by Chris Sheldon. It's a collection of hard-hitting anthems that point to the spirit of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy.
Producer/guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage appeared on the long-running CBS game show The Price is Right yesterday—as a contestant.
And he won. He won big!
In fact, he won a new truck, a new car and lots of other awesome stuff. In all, it was more than $50,000 in prizes. The band teased the guitarist's appearance on their Facebook page Monday, writing, "Watch the 'The Price Is Right' tomorrow morning, and watch AdamD do what he does?!".
Dutkiewicz first won a Honda Fit while playing the "Money Game," in which contestants must correctly guess four of the five digits in the price of a car. After advancing to the program's "Showcase Showdown"—in which contestants must estimate the value of a package of prizes—Dutkiewicz bested his competitor, winning a trip to California's Borrego Springs Resort, a camping trailer and a Nissan Frontier pickup truck.
Below, you can check out The Price Is Right's official video of Dutkiewicz's big moment. Keep your eyes peeled for Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan windmilling in the audience!
Round out your Fender wine collection and entertain with style using the Fender Collector's Cheese Board, an instrument-inspired cheese board, guaranteed conversation starter and a must-have touch of rock and roll refinement for any gathering.
Shaped like iconic Stratocaster guitars and crafted from recycled wood from Fender's guitar factory, Fender cheese boards contribute standout elements of class and personality to any occasion in ways that only Fender instruments can.
Regarded by many as the three most vital purveyors of pure hard rock/heavy metal sonic evil, AC/DC’s Angus Young, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi have each forged a distinct, instantly recognizable guitar style and sound.
After decades of dedicated service, all three players continue to influence countless up-and-coming metalheads the world over, and an in-depth study of each guitarist’s distinct musical personality is mandatory for any aspiring hard rock player.
Young, Page and Iommi share a few similarities in their respective crafts.
All three have relied on Gibson solidbody/dual-humbucker-style guitars for the majority of their careers, inspiring signature models of their respective axes: Angus Young has favored Gibson SG-type guitars and has his own Gibson signature model; Jimmy Page is most closely associated with the 1959 sunburst Les Paul, replicated in limited quantity by Gibson (with a retail price of more than $20,000); and Tony Iommi’s long association with the ’61 SG led to the creation of the similarly designed Gibson Tony Iommi model (as well as the custom-made SG-type Patrick Eggle and JayDee models that Iommi also uses). When soloing, all three guitarists most often use the bridge pickup.
Armed with their respective axes, the three defined the sound of metal in the late Sixties and early Seventies by relying on specific amplification: Jimmy Page favors Marshall SLP-1959 100-watt amps modified with KT-88 tubes, while also employing Voxes, Hiwatts, Fender Super Reverbs and Orange amps.
Angus Young has generally used Marshall 100-watt “Plexi” models along with JTM-45 “Plexis.” Iommi is also known for his use of Marshall and Orange gear and has long been a fan of Laney amplification; he even has his own Laney 100-watt signature amplifier.
Another commonality among the three guitar gods is their choice of scale for soloing. In the spirit of their American blues guitar heroes, all three rely most heavily on the minor pentatonic scale. FIGURE 1a shows the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) played in fifth position; FIGURE 1b shows the same scale as played in an extended pattern that traverses the neck from the third fret to the 12th. The root notes are circled in each figure; once you have become familiar with these fingering patterns, be sure to move them to all other keys.
Let’s now look at these two patterns one octave and 12 frets higher: FIGURE 2a depicts A minor pentatonic played in 17th position while FIGURE 2b shows an extended pattern that spans the 15th–22nd frets, ending with a whole step bend from D to E. Young, Page and Iommi all cover the highest reaches of the neck in many of their solos, so be sure to practice the minor pentatonic scales in every key and all over the fretboard.
With his comedic school-boy outfit and hyperenergetic stage antics, Angus Young has been both celebrated and reviled for his over-the-top persona. But in truth, he is simply one of the greatest rock soloists ever. His intense, exciting playing style is equal parts adrenaline, blues rock fire, and precision, all of it spiked with a crash-and-burn attitude. In other words, it’s hard rock at its absolute best.
One of Young’s greatest solos is the one he recorded in the AC/DC classic, “You Shook Me All Night Long” (Back in Black). FIGURE 3 presents a solo played in this style: it’s played over a repeating I-IV-V-IV chord progression in the key of G—G-C-D-C—and is based primarily on the G minor pentatonic scale (G Bf C D F); bars 1–4 are played in third position, and then the next phrase shifts one octave higher to 15th position in bars 5–8.
The figure begins with a whole-step bend from C to D on the G string that is sustained and played with vibrato for three beats. Use your ring finger to fret the note and both your ring and middle fingers to push the string, with the middle finger one fret behind the ring finger. This two-finger bending technique is known as reinforced fingering and is used extensively by Young as well as Page and Iommi.
The first note in FIGURE 3 is a prime example of Young’s signature bend vibrato: upon bending the string with the ring and middle fingers (the index finger may also be used to help push the string for additional strength and support), the bend is then repeatedly released partially—somewhere between a quarter step and a half step—and restored to a whole step (“full”) in quick, even rhythm.
When executing this type of bend vibrato, you’ll find that it helps to push your fret-hand thumb against the top side of the neck, as this provides leverage for the fingers that are pushing and releasing the string. Young’s vibrato is relatively fast and not very wide and will require practice and keen listening to emulate authentically.
The C-to-D bend is followed with an index-finger barre across the top two strings at the third fret, and in bar 2 the pinkie frets F (second string/sixth fret), followed by the same reinforced ring-finger bend and release on C (third string/fifth fret). At the end of bar 2, after fretting the G note, roll the tip of the ring finger from the fourth string over to the fifth string and then back. This “finger roll” may take some practice to get used to, but it’s a very useful technique that is worth learning.
What makes a solo like this great is its simplicity and melodic quality. Each idea is balanced against the next in an effortless way, and the overall result is a memorable solo that one could easily sing—an earmark of every great hard rock guitar solo.
Beginning in bar 5 of FIGURE 3, the second half of the solo relates to the first half in that it also leads off with a sustained bend, this time from a high F, the flatted seventh, to G, the root note, which is played vibrato in a similar manner. When playing minor pentatonic licks like these in high positions, many blues, blues/rock and hard rock players adopt a three-finger approach—index-middle-ring—for the majority of their licks, presumably because of the closeness of the frets. Young, however, chooses to use his pinkie in many of his licks, regardless of his fretboard position.
I wrap the solo up in bar 8 by switching to a riff based on G major pentatonic (G A B D E). A staple of blues soloing is to alternate between the “sweet” sound of major pentatonic and the darker sound of minor pentatonic, and Young does just this in many of his solos.
Another great example of Young’s masterful soloing can be heard on the title track to Back in Black. FIGURE 4 shows a solo played in a similar style. This example is played over a simple repeating chord progression in the key of E: E-D-A (I-fVII-IV). The majority of the solo is based on the E minor pentatonic scale (E G A B D), although I begin with a phrase that incorporates notes from the E Dorian mode (E Fs G A B Cs D) by including the sixth, Cs. The placement of this pitch is critical in relation to the accompanying chord progression, as it lands on the A chord, and Cs is the major third of A.
Like FIGURE 3, the goal with this example is to illustrate Young’s clear sense of melody and melodic development: FIGURE 4 begins with a “hooky” phrase that is developed by descending the G string in a similar manner across the first two bars. At bar 3, I jump up to the 12th-position E minor pentatonic “box” pattern, beginning with a high D-to-E bend and vibrato that is sustained through the first two beats of the bar, followed by a fast phrase based on descending 16th-note triplets.
The solo then stays rooted in 12th position through the remainder of bar 3, all the way to the end of bar 7. As with the high-position pentatonic licks in the previous example, the majority of these licks may be played comfortably with three fingers.
Particularly noteworthy is the classic lightning-fast blues/rock/metal run that spans bar 7 of FIGURE 4: based entirely on descending 16th-note triplets, the run begins with a pull-off from a high G (first string/15th fret) to E (12th fret) followed by D (second string/15th fret). The next 16th-note triplet starts one note lower, on E, and is followed by a pull-off from D to B (15th fret to12th fret). The pattern of starting one note lower with each subsequent 16th-note triplet and using pull-offs wherever possible is repeated throughout the run.
As the solo develops, analyze each beat and notice how the progression of the lines contributes to the overall phrase. Young is a master of “phrase-ology,” a skill/gift that lends an almost effortless quality to his solos and the feeling of constantly pushing the music forward and telling a story.
Jimmy Page was inspired by many of the same American blues guitar heroes as his British blues/rock contemporaries Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green. These heroes include the three Kings—Albert, B.B. and Freddie—as well as T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush.
Page was also equally influenced by the fiery intensity of rockabilly guitarists Cliff Gallup (Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps) and Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), as well as the futuristic daring of Les Paul. A student of many different styles of guitar playing, Page always combines in his solos a well-balanced structure and sense of melodic development with true depth of feeling. His progressive approach to soloing has pushed the nature of blues/rock guitar to previously unimagined territory.
FIGURE 5 is an eight-bar solo representative of Page’s improvisation style. It’s played in the key of A minor over a repeating Am-G-F (i-fVII-fVI) chord progression. The majority of the solo is based on A minor pentatonic (A C D E G), beginning in fifth position with a D-to-E bend on the G string. This note is bent and shaken using the same reinforced fingering and thumb leveraging techniques described earlier in reference to FIGURE 3.
This initial bend is followed by a stream of cascading 16th notes played across the next four beats on the top three strings, with notes quickly alternating between either the fifth and seventh frets or the fifth and eighth frets. Through the majority of this solo, a balance of eighth and 16th notes is achieved, giving the solo a forward-leaning quality as each phrase flows seamlessly into the next.
Over an F chord in bars 2, 4, 6 and 8, I occasionally incorporate an F note into the A minor pentatonic-derived lines in order to clearly relate the solo line to the backing chord progression; this approach is a Page trademark. Adding this one note also serves to broaden the solo beyond the strict blues territory while also strengthening the melodic quality of the licks.
Bar 5 begins with a descending run wherein a stream of 16th notes are phrased in two six-note groups that form an interesting melodic contour. A similar phrasing approach is used in bar 6 with successive four-note descending groups. The solo develops interestingly and builds to a climax in bars 7 and 8 with a repeated melodic “shape” that ascends the A minor pentatonic scale in seven-note phrases, starting from either the root note or the fifth each time.
While this may sound overly analyzed, in truth it is the application of these melodic phrasing techniques that gives the solo its clear sense of structure, which is a hallmark of all of Page’s best lead work.
As the progenitor of the heaviest of heavy metal, Tony Iommi set high standards for the writing of demonic-sounding riffs while he simultaneously created the template for the heavy metal soloing of future generations.
As a teenager, Iommi, a left-handed player, was the victim of an unfortunate accident in which he lost the tips of his right hand’s middle and ring fingers while working in a sheet metal factory. Discouraged but not defeated, the resourceful guitarist devised plastic covers made from bottle caps to wear over those fingertips.
In later years, he would wear custom–fitted leather finger protectors. Iommi also switched to using super light-gauge strings: .008, .008, .011, .018w, .024 and .032, which are much easier to fret and bend than a standard set of .009s or 010s.
In its earliest days, Black Sabbath tuned to concert pitch, but soon after Iommi began tuning his strings down one half step (low to high: Ef Af Df Gf Bf Ef) and subsequently tuned down even further by one and a half steps (low to high: Cs Fs B E Gs Cs), all the while continuing to use very light strings.
A signature element in the characteristically dark vibe of Iommi’s solos is the incorporation of minor modes. In his outro solo for “War Pigs” (Paranoid), Iommi utilizes the E Aeolian mode (E Fs G A B C D) along with E minor pentatonic (E G A B D). FIGURE 6 illustrates a solo played with a similar approach.
Within the key of E minor, the chord progression simply alternates between Em and D, and in his solo, Iommi’s ties his licks squarely to the chord progression with the use of chord tones that relate to each specific chord. Bars 1–4 of FIGURE 6 demonstrate this approach by favoring the notes E and G, the root note and minor third, respectively, over Em, and the notes D and Fs, the root and major third, respectively, over D. The additional notes and overall phrasing serve to fill in the space and effectively set up the incorporation of these shifting chord tones (also known as guide tones).
Another key aspect of Iommi’s soloing style that FIGURE 6 demonstrates is the intensity of both the pick attack and vibrato. Iommi’s playing is well-loved for its aggressive power, so lean into the lines with both hands, and listen closely to his recorded works to get a clear picture of and feel for his playing style.
Beginning on beat two of bar 5, I repeatedly bend E, third string/ninth fret, up one and one half steps (the equivalent of three frets) to G. When performing “overbends” like this, it’s even more important to harness the strength of at least two fingers, the ring and middle, if not three (the ring, middle and index). This is followed in bar 6 by fast whole-step bends that alternate with hammer-on/pull-of combinations between the seventh and ninth frets on the G string. This is a challenging lick that will take a bit of slow practice to master.
In the second half of bar 7, I borrow a signature phrasing technique of Iommi’s, with a 16th-note run that descends the E Aeolian mode in three-note groups on a single string, using pull-offs and finger slides. This type of line serves to add both rhythmic and melodic interest to a pentatonic- or mode-based solo.
FIGURE 7 offers another example of soloing in Iommi’s style, this time incorporating the detuning of one and one half steps. (All notes and chords sound in the key of C# minor, one and one half steps lower than written.) This example demonstrates Iommi’s penchant for using fast hammer-ons and pull-offs within repeated short phrases, as he does on his solo in “Supernaut” (Vol. 4).
The solo is based entirely on the E minor pentatonic scale, played in 12th position, and begins with a repeated phrase that starts with a quick hammer/pull on the first string from the 12th fret to the 15th, followed by D, second string/15th fret. This sequence is played four times through bar 1, and bar 2 consists entirely of trills in 12th position. (A trill is executed by quickly alternating between two notes, usually using hammer-ons and pull-offs in combination.)
Bars 3 and 4 are similar in that both feature fast phrases based on 16th-note triplets; in bar 3, note bursts are performed with hammer/pulls on the D string, and in bar 4 the hammers occur on the G string. Bars 5 and 6 offer an example of the “threes on fours” concept—16th notes phrased in groups of three—and bars 7 and 8 wrap up the solo with fast hammer/pulls, played in 16th-nopte triplets, that traverse the strings, moving from high to low.
In all of their solos, Young, Page and Iommi combine well-structured melodic ideas, solid execution and spirited performance—essential factors in any great, memorable guitar solo that you should strive to achieve in your own solos.
Dave Mason’s name is synonymous with Traffic, a legendary British band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
These days, the guitarist can be found doing shows from coast to coast with his “Traffic Jam” project.
But Mason also is known for his solo work and his countless collaborations with a veritable who’s who of rock, including members of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix.
We recently sat down with Mason to discuss the current state of the music industry and his work with Hendrix.
GUITAR WORLD: Since you started in the music industry, so much has changed. You see a lot of artists forgoing new material. What drew you back into doing a new studio album, 2014's Future's Past?
I play around just for my own amusement at home. Economically, it's just a waste of time. Unfortunately, everyone is stealing everything. And it's not just music; it’s literature and anything that can be turned into 0’s and 1’s. That whole part of the artists’ revenue stream and the copyrights, which if you hang onto are the things you pass down to your kids, is getting devalued.
It would be fine if classic rock radio would embrace the fact that there artists doing great new music, and if stations would play and promote them. Even if they'd take the time to say that something new is available on an artist’s website and let it be heard. It has obviously changed with everyone taking this and taking that, but an artist’s reach is not there now with FM radio being so formatted. You can get pissed off or angry, but it is what it is. So now it's back to where it began, where we're back on the road going door to door.
You have to feel bad for new artists since they don’t have the benefit of radio to help turn music lovers onto an unknown “Dear Mr. Fantasy."
There used to be someone there, a disc jockey, to play the latest from an artist and give variety. It’s a shame. It’s the way it is, and thank God I can still get my ass on stage and play because I’m not sure what I’d be doing.
How much fun is it going out doing the tours at this stage of your career?
It’s a lot more fun on the basis that I’m consistently coherent as opposed to certain episodes of my misspent youth. I have a great band of guys that love to play and they are cool guys. We are a small unit. We have Tony Patler on keyboards, and he plays bass with his left hand. He’s really damn good. We have Johnne Sambataro as the other guitar player and Alvino Bennett on drums, so there's just the four of us, but there's a lot going on.
On this tour, are you focusing on Traffic's catalog?
Yes. I have this thing out there, Traffic Jam, that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I wasn’t sure if it would be accepted. We visit some early songs from the first two albums. I do my own arrangement of "Low Spark," and then we take a break and I do material from my solo career. There are visual aspects of it and I bullshit some. It’s fun. I have to be out there doing something. I couldn’t just set at home.
Looking at your resume, it is almost mind-blowing to consider the artists you've worked with, including the bulk of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Winwood, Fleetwood Mac and others. Is there a “greatest” achievement in your career, or would you prefer not to think of it in those terms?
To me, I’m just another guy who picked up the guitar and went out to make music. Fortunately, I started writing things that resonated with people. I was basically writing for myself, and I still do. I have my own studio and I go in there and fool around. Something pops up and I spend a month or two creating a song or a record. At some point, I’ll put something else out, but that’d probably be through the website or live shows.
With your current tour, you are doing intimate shows? Do you prefer that connection with the audience?
In the Seventies and Eighties, before there was Unplugged, I was out there with just myself and a guitar player. I just try to keep it fun.
Are there any particular guitars in your collection that you really prize?
My custom Tele that Fender put together for me is great. I’ve been playing a version of that for a while. It has a contoured body and a humbucker on the bridge and two Lace Sensors. Gibson built me a guitar that's a Les Paul shape with the thinner, contoured body. It has a tremolo on it. It’s a really cool guitar.
Acoustic-wise, I have an Alvarez-Yairi that they made for me at least 30 years ago. I went and hand-picked all the wood and they made me this 12-string. I used to have a matched set of D-45's in the Traffic days, but a PA stack fell on them. The Alvarez is superb. I have a Taylor that I got when I was in Fleetwood Mac. I also have a tenor-strung guitar that must've been made for David Lindley because his name is on the bridge. I use Alvarez acoustic-electrics on the road. I don’t take the acoustics with me.
Looking at your body of work, working with Hendrix really jumps off the page. How did you end up at the session that let to Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's “All Along the Watchtower”?
I’d known Jimi for a little while. It was a Saturday or Sunday and we were in London and we got together somewhere. We were invited over to this girl’s apartment. There were a lot of people there, and we just dropped by. She had the first copy of John Wesley Harding, the new Bob Dylan album, and we had to hear it. So we put the album on, and Jimi heard “Watchtower” and wanted to go to the studio and cut it.
There was talk at the time of my playing bass with them. Jimi played bass on pretty much all of Electric Ladyland. It was going to happen, but the manager kind of put a stop to it for some reason. Maybe it was an image thing. But I got to spend some cool time with him. I did some other stuff with him playing bass. I have no idea where those tracks went. I've never heard them.
It seems more and more of Jimi’s material keeps getting unearthed, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed. When and where did you first meet Jimi?
I was fortunate to play with so many people back then. In England everyone finished up in London. It wasn’t like the States where there were different music cities. I saw him in a semi-private club that was an after-hours place in a room that wasn’t 15 feet by 15 feet. Chas [Chandler, of the Animals] took him around to these clubs when he first brought him to London. There was always a band playing. This guy got up, and I didn’t know who the hell he was, and when he started playing, I started thinking I should look into a different instrument [laughs]. He was truly unique.
For more about Mason, including his current touring schedule, visit davemasonmusic.com. His latest album is Future’s Past, which also is available at his website.