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    Here's something for all you guitarists who are looking to add a light show—of sorts—to your act.

    It's a new guitar-mountable module that contains six colored lasers. The beams, which shine toward your guitar’s headstock, are pretty much undetectable—until you move your fretting hand into their line of sight.

    That's when the lasers suddenly reflect onto your hand and glow on your fingertips. You can get an idea of what we're talking about in the video below.

    The device attaches with a gentle adhesive mounting, and it has a small battery pack with a switch that mounts onto the guitar. The module’s height and angle can be adjusted for optimum performance, and the modules come with red, green or blue lasers.

    Andrea Ettore and Bryan Davidson, creators of the device, are looking for funding as we speak. You can check out their Kickstarter page for more information.


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    As we all know by now, Internet dude Jarden Dines can always be counted on for a bit of mid-day, guitar-centric diversion.

    For instance, today we bring you one of his most recent videos, "12 String Metal Song."

    "I recorded all the guitar parts on the 12-string," he said. "For the tone, I ran one distortion channel and one clean channel."


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    New York songwriters George Usher and Lisa Burns return with the release of their song-cycle collaboration, The Last Day Of Winter just released last week by Near and Dear Music.

    Unable to use his hands or play any instruments for over two years due to the chemo treatments from his long battle with cancer, Usher composed 12 song lyrics full of reflection and reverie that Burns has put to music.

    The album features an eclectic set of folk-rock ("Wake Me When Tomorrow's Here", "More Than That I Cannot Say"), country ("Dark Blue Room" and stripped-down, intimate pop/folk("Depression Glass," Wasn't Born To Belong"). Musical guests include Capt. Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Sal Maida (Cracker, Roxy Music), and Dave Schramm (The Schramms).

    Check out the excellent retro-fresh track "The Ferryman's Name."

    Find out more at http://thelastdayofwinteralbum.com


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    Stone Sour have premiered their new cover of Metallica's "Creeping Death."

    Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.

    Stone Sour's latest EP, Meanwhile, in Burbank, is due out April 18 for Record Store Day via Roadrunner.

    Additional Content

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    We thought we'd glance back at the classic Mark II lineup of Deep Purple—Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (keyboards)—tearing it up, live in New York in 1973.

    The video's title calls it a "Full Concert." And while that's not quite accurate, the clip does represent 22-plus minutes of Deep Purple at the top of their game.

    They plow through "Strange Kind of Woman,""Smoke on the Water" and "Space Truckin'" before turning things over to Lord, who is eventually joined by Blackmore, who throws down and steps on his Strat, tosses it in the air, replaces it with another (out-of-tune) Strat and slips into smoke-machine nirvana.

    While we don't know much about the show's exact date or venue, we know it was filmed before July 1973, when singer David Coverdale stepped in for Gillan.

    The current version of Deep Purple features the same rhythm section seen in the video below—Glover and Paice—plus Gillan on vocals. Dixie Dregs axeman Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey round out the band's current lineup. Lord, who died last year, retired from the band in 2002. Blackmore quit in 1993.

    Additional Content

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    “Highway Star” is but one highlight of Machine Head, Deep Purple’s greatest triumph. Ironically, it almost never came to be. In early 1972, shortly after retreating to Montreaux, Switzerland, to record, the British band was beset by a wealth of problems.

    "First, the place they were staying, which overlooked Lake Geneva, burned down—inspiring them to write “Smoke on the Water.” Then, in response to a complaint about excessive noise, the police kicked the band out of the ballroom where they were recording.

    “We were stuck in Switzerland with nowhere to go, and a friend of ours who was the mayor of the town said that there was an empty hotel we could use,” recalls Ritchie Blackmore. “We gladly accepted and retreated to this lonely hotel in the mountains. We set up all the equipment in the corridor, with the drums and some amps tucked into alcoves.

    “We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window.

    "It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”

    But while the vibe may have been loose, Blackmore’s solo on ‘Highway Star’ was well planned. “I wrote that out note for note about a week before we recorded it,” says the guitarist. “And that is one of the only times I have ever done that. I wanted it to sound like someone driving in a fast car, for it to be one of those songs you would listen to while speeding. And I wanted a very definite Bach sound, which is why I wrote it out—and why I played those very rigid arpeggios across that very familiar Bach progression—Dm, Gm, Cmaj, Amaj. I believe that I was the first person to do that so obviously on the guitar, and I believe that that’s why it stood out and why people have enjoyed it so much.

    “[Keyboardist] Jon Lord worked his part out to mine. Initially, I was going to play my solo over the chords he had planned out. But I couldn’t get off on them, so I made up my own chords and we left the spot for him to write a melody. The keyboard solo is quite a bit more difficult than mine because of all those 16th notes.

    "Over the years, I’ve always played that solo note for note—again, one of the few where I’ve done that—but it just got faster and faster onstage because we would drink more and more whiskey. Jon would have to play his already difficult part faster and faster and he would get very annoyed about it.”

    Next: 14) "Layla"

    Additional Content

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    “Highway Star” is but one highlight of Machine Head, Deep Purple’s greatest triumph. Ironically, it almost never came to be. In early 1972, shortly after retreating to Montreaux, Switzerland, to record, the British band was beset by a wealth of problems.

    "First, the place they were staying, which overlooked Lake Geneva, burned down—inspiring them to write “Smoke on the Water.” Then, in response to a complaint about excessive noise, the police kicked the band out of the ballroom where they were recording.

    “We were stuck in Switzerland with nowhere to go, and a friend of ours who was the mayor of the town said that there was an empty hotel we could use,” recalls Ritchie Blackmore. “We gladly accepted and retreated to this lonely hotel in the mountains. We set up all the equipment in the corridor, with the drums and some amps tucked into alcoves.

    “We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window.

    "It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”

    But while the vibe may have been loose, Blackmore’s solo on ‘Highway Star’ was well planned. “I wrote that out note for note about a week before we recorded it,” says the guitarist. “And that is one of the only times I have ever done that. I wanted it to sound like someone driving in a fast car, for it to be one of those songs you would listen to while speeding. And I wanted a very definite Bach sound, which is why I wrote it out—and why I played those very rigid arpeggios across that very familiar Bach progression—Dm, Gm, Cmaj, Amaj. I believe that I was the first person to do that so obviously on the guitar, and I believe that that’s why it stood out and why people have enjoyed it so much.

    “[Keyboardist] Jon Lord worked his part out to mine. Initially, I was going to play my solo over the chords he had planned out. But I couldn’t get off on them, so I made up my own chords and we left the spot for him to write a melody. The keyboard solo is quite a bit more difficult than mine because of all those 16th notes.

    "Over the years, I’ve always played that solo note for note—again, one of the few where I’ve done that—but it just got faster and faster onstage because we would drink more and more whiskey. Jon would have to play his already difficult part faster and faster and he would get very annoyed about it.”

    Deep Purple (with Ritchie Blackmore) play "Highway Star" in 1972:




    Chickenfoot (with Joe Satriani) play "Highway Star":




    Street musician Damian Salazar plays "Highway Star":




    Deep Purple (with Steve Morse) play "Highway Star" in 1999:




    Dream Theater play "Highway Star":




    Deep Purple, "Highway Star" isolated guitar track:

    Additional Content

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    Today we have something really special to share!

    It’s an acoustic session of the new song “Head In The Clouds” caught on camera with the fabulous Disco Fries and Nick Hexum of 311.

    The session took place as part of the recording process for the Disco Fries new mini-album Autonomous, which includes collaborations with a variety of artists in addition to Hexum, including Breathe Carolina, Our Lady Peace vocalist Raine Maida, and Hope Murphy.

    Fabulously intense and heartfelt, this acoustic interpretation of the song truly shines.

    The Disco Fries share this insight into how this collaboration came together, "Sometimes when we make a record, it is clearly meant to remain instrumental, and other times you can envision a singer on it immediately. It’s very rare that the singer that you envision on a track is accessible, inspired by your tune, and turns around a smash within the first week of digging in on writing.

    “We were lucky enough to have all this happen with ‘Head In The Clouds,’ and working with Nick Hexum has really been a dream come true. Growing up, 311 was always a staple in Nick's (of the Disco Fries) CD collection. The band's hybrid of reggae, rock and hip-hop was both super melodic, and had plenty of edge to appeal to a young teenager in the 90’s. The first concert he was allowed to go to with his friends was 311 and surely you can imagine the impression it made on a 13-year-old.

    “Fast-forward to last summer when we were sitting on a one minute clip of the origin of this track and Nick Hexum, 311’s lead singer, popped to the top of our wish-list to sing on the record. After connecting with his publisher (shout out to Jeremy at Downtown!), we sent over what we envisioned for the track, and his team let us know that Nick had just gotten off tour and was taking some time in the studio to dig in on electronic music.

    “The stars couldn’t have aligned any better. We happened to be one of the first acts that gave him a call to work on an electronic tune and the rest was history. We landed in LA a few weeks later, actually just a few days before we met up with Breathe Carolina, and took a drive up to his studio in the mountains. Everything clicked instantaneously and before we knew it ‘Head In The Clouds’ was born."

    We were lucky enough to have a chat with Nick Ditri and Danny Boselovic of the Disco Fries and the fabulous Nick Hexum, who used a Gibson Memphis Luther Dickinson ES-335 for the recording, to find out more about the song, the video and more! Check it out.

    What’s your writing process like? Do you jump in immediately with electronic beats and all or take a simpler approach?

    Danny: It really depends from project to project. Sometimes we get inspired by a chord progression we've come up with on piano, while other times it'll be a melody or even just a sound we're working on. We try to approach the songwriting process from all angles so we don't get stuck creatively. With “Head In The Clouds” it started with the main chords you hear on piano in the hook. We just kept adding elements, arranging the track out and once we had the basic structure down that's where Nick (Hexum) came in and brought it to life.

    Nick H: If I rely too much on production the song gets lost. The best tunes from me lately have been me walking around (usually outside!) with my acoustic guitar just humming along to chords until something cool comes out.

    I think it’s great that you combine some really strong songwriting with a great beat in your studio version of the song as well, which doesn’t always happen in EDM. Can you comment?

    Danny: We definitely tried to focus on the song for all the tracks on Autonomous and not get super lost in production. We feel like the emphasis over the past few years has been too much on the track or the drop and people are starting to get tired of the shock value aspect of EDM. So we wanted to focus on the music and keep the engineering/production secondary to that. I think a lot of producers will be moving this direction as the scene matures and there's already a ton of talented guys leading the way. It's been really amazing watching artists like Porter Robinson, Madeon, and Audien combine their production skills with real musicality and, in our own way, that's a bit of what we were hoping to accomplish with our project.

    Nick H: Those guys have a lot of cool instrumental drops in their tunes but it was nice on this one to have a sung chorus. Best of both worlds!

    Your first choice for this song was Nick Hexum. Have you written before with a singer in mind?

    Nick D: There have definitely been a few instances where we make a record and we immediately know who we want on it or at least the type of voice we want it. It’s super rare, actually almost never, that whoever we want on a record is available and down to jump on a song right then and there, but it worked out like this with Nick.

    Typically, we’ll go for a certain vibe with a track and talk to a few different vocalists, writers, and such, and then usually settle on the best fit to finish it. We’ve had a few instances where a label signs an instrumental and wants to get a top-line on the track later on, so they’ll go out and get about 10 different top-lines and then come back to us with their picks. Thats typically not what we chose to do as the best results for us have come from being in the room with the vocalists and part of the vocal writing and performance process.

    Nick, it seems the stars aligned for you to be part of this song. Were you struck by it right away?

    Nick H: I really was struck by it right away. I had the guys over to my studio to kick some ideas around and they played me the beginning of that track and I loved the chord changes. The intro was just piano and I knew that I could drop some surf-y guitar on there and make it really open up.

    Was there a give and take with elements that you contributed based on the original recording and input you received for the song?

    Nick H: It was an easy fit to blend our styles. The different influences created a unique sound I haven't heard in the electronic world. The whole thing was real painless. Nick Ditri says he “doesn’t sing” but he actually sent me an audio recording of him singing the hook which really helped me simplify the chorus. It was much catchier after his suggestion!

    Give us some insight into the inspiration behind the lyrics. They seem to be saying, don’t be so cynical and reach for the light...

    Nick H: Yeah, I think the lyrics are about not being cynical and reaching for the stars. Having faith that there are good things in the world that make life worth living can sometimes be a struggle with all the bad news in the world. But there is plenty of good in the world to focus on if one so chooses.

    What made you want to record a more stripped down version of the song?

    Nick Ditri: For us it's always about the songwriting, melody, arrangement, and how all of those things play off of each other at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, we love and can appreciate an impeccably designed sound or overly growly synth that isn’t necessarily the most musical thing you’ve ever heard but still can carry a record, and while we do use those in our full productions, there is always something to be said about a stripped down version of a track. That’s usually where you can see whats going on harmonically without the extra fluff. What was cool about recording the acoustic version of ‘Head in The Clouds’ after the fact and in the studio together, was that it allowed us improvise certain dynamics that weren’t in the original version.

    Nick H: I think the song itself was so strong that we wanted to have a version that wasn't relying on production see you could just experience the tune no-frills. A lot of times EDM guys can’t just play one of their tunes on the piano like Nick and Danny did. It was nice to find out these guys have a real musical background.

    You didn’t really record the video all sitting in the room together, did you?

    Nick D: We did! Being that we’re primarily dance music producers, and we don’t always get the chance to get in the room with other musicians to perform, it was a super refreshing experience for us. Greg Lassik shot the session on a multi-cam setup so he could capture all of us individually, and the entire room performing together. This acoustic session was actually the first time we had been in the room with Nick since we first started tossing ideas around about the direction of this track when we were at his studio in LA. The rest of our collaboration was purely via email and phone, which is the norm for us now, and it typically starts and ends there when we work on tunes with other artists. We’re incredibly grateful that our schedules aligned and we were able to make this video happen. Its a special one for us.

    Nick H: Yes, I wasn't sure if we were going to have an easy time recording the video and the audio at the same time but everyone was well prepared and we knocked it out the day I had a 311 show in Asbury park. My guitar tech, Cousin Eric, was nice enough to add backing vocals and written guitar.

    I actually really love the stripped down version, will you release it as a track too?

    Nick D: The acoustic is available as an album-only track on our new mini-album, Autonomous, which is up on iTunes now.

    Find out more at http://discofriesmusic.com/
    Buy Autonomous now:
    iTunes: http://bit.ly/AUTONOMOUS
    Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6mJTgfmrHZ9PtDxkk9fMQv


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    James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich—these are the men of Metallica.

    For 30 years, they have been the reigning kings of the heavy metal world, and deservedly so.

    With such landmark albums as Master of Puppets, ...And Justice for All, Metallica and Death Magnetic, Metallica steadily evolved, progressing beyond the limits of the thrash-metal barrier without ever wavering in their goal to be the best heavy metal outfit on earth.

    In Metallica: 30 Years of the World's Greatest Heavy Metal Band, you'll read about the storied band's rise to prominence in some of the most powerful articles ever published in the pages of Guitar World magazine.

    • Learn how Metallica coped with the accidental 1986 death of original bassist Cliff Burton.

    • Read about the writing and recording of such legendary albums as Kill 'Em All, Master of Puppets, the Black Album and Load.

    • Sit alongside guitarist Kirk Hammett as he reconnects with his guitar teacher, Joe Satriani.

    • Go behind the scenes of the making of the group's revealing documentary film, Some Kind of Monster.

    • The 100 Greatest Metallica Songs of All Time: Guitar World ranks them from first to worst.

    It's all right here, in Metallica: 30 Years of the World's Greatest Heavy Metal Band - the myths, the memories, the triumphs, the tragedies of America's foremost heavy metal team.

    It's available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $19.95.

    Additional Content

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    This interview with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple appeared in the February 1991 issue of Guitar World. To see the Blackmore cover—and all the GW covers from 1991—click here.

    It’s a cold, rainy night in Connecticut. Executive Editor Brad Tolinski and I are in the lobby of a fine hotel, waiting to meet Ritchie Blackmore.

    The veteran guitarist has, in his infinite mercy, granted us a rare interview. (Perhaps the imminent release of the new Deep Purple album, Slaves And Masters, featuring Purple's latest member, Joe Lynn Turner, has something to do with this.) At the moment, Blackmore is dining with some friends; he is to join us at the conclusion of his meal.

    Tolinski and I are a bit apprehensive. Blackmore's irascibility is legend, as is his antipathy toward the press. To make matters worse, even some of those close to the star have warned that he could become "troublesome." I feel like I'm about to meet Darth Vader.

    As I examine my tape recorder to ensure that everything is in working order (I'm always worried that it will break down), a grim scenario plays itself repeatedly in my brain: The interview has commenced. I ask my first question—"How does this version Deep Purple differ from past formations?" Blackmore stares at me, his features growing black with rage.

    “How dare you ask me that?” he barks. "Take that!" He bops me over the head with a white Strat, which falls all around me in splinters. The angry man rises and stalks out. End of interview.

    I return to an uneasy reality, but calm myself with the thought that my guitar hero can't possibly be such an ogre. Then I remember that as a youth, Blackmore had a penchant for throwing eggs, tomatoes and four-pound bags of flour from moving vehicles at passersby (with particular preference, presumably, for elderly women in wheelchairs.)

    At last, a member of Blackmore's entourage comes by to say that the great one is ready. We enter the dimly-lit dining area to the accompaniment of mellow piano music, diners' chattering and dishes clattering, and seat ourselves. After a few moments, we are joined by Ritchie Blackmore.

    He looks great—better than he did ten years ago, which is far more than can be said of most longtime rockers. As usual, he's dressed in black, except for a white ruffled shirt that makes him look like a French nobleman. He grasps our outstretched hands ("a good sign," I think) and we introduce ourselves. Blackmore seats himself, and orders a beer.

    "Are you ready?" I ask, and Blackmore nods his assent. But before I can ask the first question, he points at my tape recorder and in thick British tones says, "By the way, that's not on."

    "Oh no," I think. "The tape's busted!" My worst fears, realized. Tolinski stares at me, horror etched on his features. I examine the contraption, but it seems to be running smoothly. I turn to Blackmore, a bit befuddled, and insist, "It's moving. It's on.”

    "Just checking," he says slyly. And with that, the interview commences. Within a few dizzying moments he demonstrates that, his reputation notwithstanding, he is a hell of a nice guy, funny—a great dude to hang out with. He even performs a magic trick, changing a nickel into a quarter before our very appreciative eyes.

    Two hours pass. The restaurant 's proprietor stops by to announce, "Closing time." I wholeheartedly thank Ritchie for being so cooperative. "Thank you for being so attentive," says this amiable bane of rock journalists.

    GUITAR WORLD: How does this edition of Deep Purple differ from past formations?

    Musically, I would say the singer doesn't drink as much. [laughs] But seriously, the older I get, the more I want to hear melodies. We really worked hard on constructing good, memorable songs and interesting chord progressions. That 's what excites me at the moment.

    It also helped that our new singer, Joe Lynn Turner, writes and sings great melodies. With Joe, we didn't have to rely as much on heavy riffs. When I was 20, I didn't give a damn about song construction. I just wanted to make as much noise and play as fast and as loud as possible.

    As a guitarist, what were you looking to do differently on this new record? For instance, the solo on "King Of Dreams" has an exotic tinge that doesn't appear in any of your previous work.

    I wanted that solo to evoke a certain mood. It isn't meant to be a pointless exercise in speed; that's why it's very sparse. I was trying to make it an extension of the vocal melody and have it express something that was connected to the bloody song. I didn't want to just show off some trick I'd learned at the music store on Saturday morning.

    When writing, or when engaged in preproduction for an album, do you work solos out in advance?

    I never work out my leads. Everything I do is usually totally spontaneous. If someone says, "That was good; play that again," I'm not able to do it. The only solo I've committed to memory is "Highway Star" [from I972's Machine Head]. I like playing that semitone run in the middle.

    [Keyboardist] Jon Lord plays more textures, rather than actual lines, on this new album.

    Jon likes to see what I'm going to do and he enhances that. He's not a leader; he likes to follow.


    Is that why your relationship has lasted so long?

    Yes, because we don't tread on each other's toes.

    Let's go back to the beginning of Deep Purple. How did you and Jon meet?

    I met him in a transvestite bar in '68, in Hamburg, Germany. [laughs] Back in the late Sixties, there were few organists who could play like Jon. We shared the same taste in music. We loved Vanilla Fudge—they were our heroes. They used to play London's Speakeasy and all the hippies used to go there to hang out—Clapton, the Beatles—everybody went there to pose. According to legend, the talk of the town during that period was Jimi Hendrix, but that's not true. It was Vanilla Fudge. They played eight-minute songs, with dynamics. People said, "What the hell's going on here? How come it's not three minutes?" Timmy Bogert, their bassist, was amazing. The whole group was way ahead of its time.

    So, initially we wanted to be a Vanilla Fudge clone. But our singer, Ian, wanted to be Edgar Winter. He'd say, "I want to scream like that, like Edgar Winter." So that's what we were—Vanilla Fudge with Edgar Winter!

    After your breakthrough record, Concerto For Group And Orchestra [1970] with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, your playing took a more aggressive turn. In Rock [1970] almost became the blueprint for all subsequent Purple records.

    I became tired of playing with orchestras. In Rock was my way of rebelling against a certain classical element in the band. Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and I wanted to be a hard rock band—we wanted to play rock and roll only. So off we went in that direction.

    I felt that the whole orchestra thing was a bit tame. I mean, you're playing in the Royal Albert Hall, and the audience sits there with folded arms, and you're standing there playing next to a violinist who holds his ears every time you take a solo. It doesn't make you feel particularly inspired.

    You started using the vibrato bar extensively on In Rock.

    Yes, that's right. I'd seen the James Cotton Blues Band at the Fillmore East, and the guitarist in the band played with the vibrato bar. He got the most amazing sounds. Right after seeing him, I started using the bar. Hendrix inspired me, too.

    You used to give the whammy bar a real workout.

    I went crazy with it. I used to have quarter-inch bars made for me because I'd keep snapping the normal kind. My repairman would look at me strangely and say, "What are you doing to these tremolo bars?" Finally, he gave me this gigantic tremolo arm made of half-an-inch of solid iron and said, "Here. If you break this thing, I don't wanna know about it!"

    About three weeks later I went back to the shop. He looked at me and said, "No—you haven't." And I said, "Yes, I have." In graphic detail, I explained to him how I would twirl the guitar around by the bar, throw it to the floor, put my foot on it and pull the bar off with two hands. He was a bit of a purist, so he wasn't amused.

    There is a lot of unusual noise during the final solo of "Hard Lovin' Man" [In Rock]. Is that you, throwing your guitar around in the studio?

    If I remember right, I was knocking my guitar up and down against a door in the control room. The engineer looked at me oddly. He was one of your typical, old-school engineers. Like my repairman, he wasn't amused, either.

    Did you ever try a locking-nut tremolo system?

    No. I don't use the twang bar anymore. It's become too popular.

    Between In Rock and Fireball [1971], you switched from Gibsons to Fender Strats. How did that affect your playing style?

    It was difficult, because it's much easier to flow across the strings on a Gibson. Fenders have more tension, so you have to fight them a little bit. I had a hell of a time. But I stuck with the Fenders because I was so taken with their sound, especially when they were paired with a wah-wah.

    Around Fireball and Machine Head [1972], your playing took on a blues and funk edge. Did Hendrix have anything to do with that?

    I was impressed by Hendrix. Not so much by his playing, as his attitude—he wasn't a great player, but everything else about him was brilliant. Even the way he walked was amazing. His guitar playing, though, was always a little bit weird. Hendrix inspired me, but I was still more into Wes Montgomery. I was also into the Allman Brothers around the time of those albums.

    What do you think of Stevie Ray Vaughan?

    I knew that question was coming. His death was very tragic, but I'm surprised that everybody thinks he was such a brilliant player when there are people like Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Peter Green and Mick Taylor; Johnny Winter, who is one of the best blues players in the world, is also very underrated. His vibrato is incredible.

    Stevie Ray Vaughan was very intense. Maybe that's what caught everybody's attention. As a player, he didn't do anything amazing.

    How did you develop your own unique finger vibrato style?

    In my early days, I never used finger vibrato at all. I originally carved my reputation as one of the "fast" guitar players. Than I heard Eric Clapton. I remember saying to him, "You have a strange style. Do you play with that vibrato stuff?" Really an idiotic question. But he was a nice guy about it. Right after that I started working on my vibrato. It took about two or three years for me to develop any technique. Around '68 or '69 you suddenly hear it in my playing.

    I've noticed that your rhythm parts aren't always played with a pick.

    That's from being lazy. It's like Jeff Beck—when he can't find a pick, he just plays with his fingers. You know how it is. You're watching television and you can't find a pick, so you just play with your fingers. Even on something as simple as the riff to "Smoke On The Water," you 'd be surprised at how many people play that with down strokes, as though it were chords. I pluck the riff, which makes a world of difference. Otherwise, you're just hitting the tonic before the fifth.

    Why do you think that, of all your work, "Smoke On The Water" is so enduring? The riff is the rock equivalent to the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

    Simplicity is the key. And it is simple—you can still hear people playing it at music stores. I never had the courage to write until I heard "I Can't Explain" and "My Generation." Those riffs were so straightforward that I thought, "All right, if Pete Townshend can get away with that, then I can, too!"

    What did you think of Tommy Bolin when he took your place in Deep Purple, following your '74 departure?

    I originally heard him on Billy Cobham's Spectrum album, and thought, "Who is this guy?" Then I saw him on television and he looked incredible—like Elvis Presley. I knew he was gonna be big.

    When I heard that Purple hired him I thought it was great. He was always so humble. I remember he would always invite me out to his house in Hollywood to see his guitar. One day I went to his place. I walked in and tried to find him, but no one was around. There were no furnishings—nothing. I stayed there for ten minutes before he finally appeared. He showed me his guitar, and the strings must have had a quarter-inch of grime on them, as though he hadn't changed them in four years. I asked him when was the last time he'd changed strings, and he said very seriously, "Gee, I don't know. Do you think I should change them?"


    Following your departure from Purple, you drifted back to a slightly classical direction in Rainbow.

    I was never sure what I wanted to be. I found the blues too limiting, too confining. I'd always thought -- with all due respect to B.B. King—that you couldn't just play four notes. Classical, on the other hand, was always too disciplined. I was always playing between the two, stuck in a musical no-man's land.

    Did you ever toy with the idea of playing strictly classical music?

    Yes. I would love to go back to the 1520s, the time of my favorite music. A few of my friends in Germany have a very authentic four-piece, and they play medieval music. I've always wanted to play with them, but it hasn't panned out yet. But in general, I'm not good enough, technically, to be a classical musician. I lack discipline. When you're dealing with classical music, you have to be rigid. I'm not a rigid player. I like to improvise.

    The song "Stargazer," from the second Rainbow album [Rainbows Rising, 1976], has a strong classical feel. How did you come up with that one?

    That was a good tune. I wrote that on the cello. I had given up on the guitar between '75 and '78. I completely lost interest. I was sick of hearing other guitar players and I was tired of my tunes. What I really wanted to be was Jacqueline DuPrey on cello. So I started playing cello.

    Did you ever record with a cello?

    Yes, just on a small backing track—I can't remember on what. But you have to give your whole life to a cello. When I realized that, I went back to the guitar and just turned the volume up a bit louder.

    Was there anything you learned from the cello that you applied to the guitar?

    Not really. The cello is such a melancholy instrument, such an isolated, miserable instrument.... But it was an appropriate choice for me at the time, because my girlfriend had left me and I was going through this miserable phase.

    What do you think of Yngwie Malmsteen? He's often credited you as an influence.

    He's always been very nice to me, and I always get on very well with him. I don't understand him, though -- his playing, what he wears. His movements are also a bit creepy. Normally you say, "Well, the guy's just an idiot." But, when you hear him play you think, "This guy's no idiot. He knows what he's doing." He's got to calm down. He's not Paganini—though he thinks he is. When Yngwie can break all of his strings but one, and play the same piece on one string, then I'll be impressed. In three or four years, we'll probably hear some good stuff from him.

    What do you think of tapping?

    Thank goodness it's come to an end. The first person I saw doing that hammer-on stuff was Harvey Mandel, at the Whisky A Go-Go in '68. I thought "What the hell is he doing?" It was so funny [laughs], Jim Morrison was carried out because he was shouting abuse at the band. Jimi Hendrix was there. We were all getting drunk. Then Harvey Mandel starts doing this stuff [mimes tapping]. "What's he doing?" everybody was saying. Even the audience stopped dancing. Obviously, Eddie Van Halen must have picked up a few of those things.

    What do you think of him?

    It depends on my mood. He is probably the most influential player in the last 15 years 'cause everybody's gone out and bought one of those, what does he play, Charvel, Carvel ...

    Kramer, with the locking nut.

    Yes, with the locking nut! And everyone's gone hammer-on crazy! So he's obviously done something. He's a great guitar player, but I'm more impressed by his recent songwriting and keyboard work. I think he's going to be remembered -- he could be the next Cole Porter.

    How do you feel about your own guitar hero status?

    It's funny to find myself in that position, because when I first came to America I thought, "Why go to America when they have these fantastic players?" I was brought up on [pedal steel great] Speedy West and [country guitarist] Jimmy Bryant, people like that. When I was 13 years old, I couldn't believe how good they were. I thought, "When I go to America, I'm going to get killed."

    Everything changed when we had a hit with "Hush." I found people saying, "Oh, you play guitar really well." I'd say, "How can you say that when you've got these guys in Nashville who just tear me apart?" I still say it. If you tune into Hee Haw you'll see these guys who are absolutely amazing. Jeff Beck once told me that he went to Nashville to do a record. While he was in the studio, this guy who was sweeping up asked him, "Can I borrow your guitar for a second?" Jeff said, "Oh, of course." The guy started playing and completely blew Jeff away. He left soon after that. Thank goodness all those amazing players stay in Nashville!

    Has your approach to sound processing changed? Have you checked out any of these multi-effects racks?

    I don't put myself on Jeff Beck's level, but I can relate to him when he says he'd rather be working on his car collection than playing the guitar. I'm enjoying other things in life, but when I do pick up the guitar, I want to simply plug into a loud amplifier, and that's it. Maybe if I were 20, I'd pay more attention to equipment trends; at 45, you start to go in other directions. I get turned on by soccer shoes; I listen to Renaissance music—those are the things that really stir my soul.

    There are so many effects and new guitar players. I can't comprehend it all. When you hear them, you suddenly realize that they all sound the same—like Eddie Van Halen, speeded up.

    Do you have a home studio?

    No, I don't. It's gotten out of hand—everybody has their own studio. I'd rather write something on the spur of the moment, while doing a formal recording. I believe in inspiration.

    What does the future hold for you?

    I'm very moved by Renaissance music, but I still love to play hard rock—though only if it's sophisticated and has some thought behind it. I don't want to throw myself on a stage and act silly, 'cause I see so many bands doing that today. There's a lot going on today that disturbs me—so much derivative music. Where are the progressive bands like Cream, Procul Harum, Jethro Tull or the Experience? I could go on, but we have to live with it.

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    Two of the most freakish guitars in my extremely weird guitar collection were made by Tone-A-Cane Copper Pipe Guitars and Pete Regan’s Metal Guitars.

    Both were crafted using metal for body and necks. And both are so damn heavy, you could win bar fights with them.

    The Tone-A-Cane Guitar is the brainchild of Worcester, Massachusetts, artist Timothy Dlugasz, and—with the exception of the wood fretboard—is made completely of copper pipes. In the case of my Tone-A-Cane (an early version, serial Number 03), the body is mostly non-existent, with small shrimp-fork wings coming out of the sides. More recent Tone-A-Canes have a Les Paul-ish body outline made from copper for better ergonomics.

    I appreciate a baseball-bat neck, and the Tone-A-Cane has the fattest, most massive neck I’ve ever seen. The neck consists of three copper pipes that run the length of the body. Two smaller pipes flank the sides while a thicker pipe goes up the middle. A wooden fretboard is glued to them (The intonation is perfect, by the way) and the headstock is formed from the two outside pipes joined with a few elbow connectors.

    The humbucking pickup delivers a surprisingly warm jazz tone when plugged into my 30-watt Musicvox MVX-30 amp. I’ve used the Tone-A-Cane at several shows, and it’s always a crowd pleaser, causing cellphones to pop up for pictures and videos.

    Tone-A-Cane Guitars are sold through copperguitars.com. You also can see the newer Ghost Body versions at the website.

    Pete Regan Guitars look like modernist sculptures that should be hanging in an art gallery. Huntsville, Alabama, based Regan uses hunks of scrap iron, rebars and welding joints to create super-heavy Mad Max guitar/weapons that have sustain for days.

    The Pete Regan guitar in my collection is a two-string slide instrument inspired by cigar box guitars. Regan started with a narrow rectangle body crafted from rebar and flat metal, adding disappearing circle “sound holes” and loading an EMG single coil. He added a bottom hunk of rebar to rest on your lap when sitting, providing enough weight to cut off circulation to leg.

    The neck is simply two hunks of salvaged rebar with a nut also made of rebar. There’s no warping here!

    I’ve tried several string combinations with the Pete Regan. One incarnation was to use the low and high E strings from a standard pack of electric strings and tune it E to E'. Here’s a quick demo:

    In addition to making the scrap iron guitars, Regan has invented a percussion instrument that gives the sound of prisoners hammering railroad spikes with their chains clanging. The pedal (which I call the "John Henry") is simply an old ball-peen hammer with chain links attached to the back, mounted to a lever pedal. At the top of it is an actual railroad spike. When you stomp on it, the hammer slams the rail spike and then crashes back with a shattering rattle of chains.

    Since prison chants and field hollers provided the continuing concept of my latest album, Holler!, we used this stomper everywhere. Here’s just one example, “Big Leg Woman/Swing the Hammer.”

    Pete Regan doesn’t have a standard website. (I don’t even think that’s his real name!) However, if you want to see more of his instruments or contact him about building you an iron battle axe guitar, you can find him on Facebook.

    Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at ShaneSpeal.com. Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C.B. Gitty Records.


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    Those of us who keep a fairly close eye on social-media trends (and stuff like that) can't help but notice that a new girl band from Japan has been showing up more and more. And for good reason.

    They're called Band-Maid, they rock pretty convincingly—and play their own instruments (unlike at least one other Japanese girl band of note).

    And they dress up as maids!

    Below, you can check out the music video to one of their 2014 tracks, "Thrill," which is available on an EP called Ai to Jounetsu no Matadore. It was released last August.

    To pick up some of their music, including "Thrill,"head here.

    For more about Band-Maid, follow them on Facebook.


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    After many years of performing in a multitude of configurations, Jack White is announcing that he will be taking a break from performing live for a long period of time.

    To cap off an incredible run of shows promoting his latest album Lazaretto, and following what is shaping up to be a rollicking and fiery pair of headlining performances at this year's Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Jack will embark on a short acoustic tour of the only five states left in the US that he has yet to play.

    The states these shows are occurring in will be unannounced until the day of the performance. Joining Jack on his jaunt across these locations will be musicians making up an acoustic quartet, including Fats Kaplin, Lillie Mae Rische and Dominic Davis.

    The shows will be totally acoustic and amplified only with ribbon microphones to the audience as well. These shows will be the very first totally acoustic full concerts Jack White has ever done.

    Each special acoustic performance will be announced day of show at 8am local time. Tickets for these engagements are priced at $3 per ticket and will be limited to one ticket per person. All tickets will be sold at the venue door starting at 12pm on the day of the show – first come, first served and cash only.

    For more information and show announcements, stay tuned to jackwhiteiii.com.

    Watch Mr. White perform acoustically at SXSW in 2011:


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    Anyone who watched the beautiful trailer announcing The Tallest Man On Earth’s new album and first since 2012, Dark Bird Is Home, was offered a glimpse of the title track and what is sure to be an album favorite of many.

    Today, following the release of debut single, “Sagres,” The Tallest Man (aka Swedish artist Kristian Matsson) shares with the world the title track in its entirety.

    “Suddenly the day gets you down // but this is not the end // no, this is fine.” What starts as an intimate, comforting solo number – just Matsson and guitar, builds into a powerful full band performance. It’s the perfect way to close out The Tallest Man On Earth’s most personal and direct album to date.

    The Tallest Man On Earth’s Dark Bird Is Home is out May 12 on Dead Oceans and available for pre-order now. All iTunes and SC Distribution pre-orders come with instant free downloads of “Sagres” and “Dark Bird Is Home.” The Tallest Man On Earth will kick off his first ever full band tour on May 13. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear and Hiss Golden Messenger will support. All dates are below.

    Listen to The Tallest Man On Earth’s “Dark Bird Is Home”:

    Listen to “Sagres”:

    Dark Bird Is Home album trailer:

    The Tallest Man On Earth Tour Dates:
    Wed. May 13 - Northampton, MA @ Calvin Theatre *
    Thu. May 14 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre *
    Sat. May 16 - Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre *
    Mon. May 18 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern #
    Tue. May 19 - Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory #
    Thu. May 21 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater #
    Fri. May 22 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst #
    Tue. May 26 - Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre *
    Wed. May 27 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium *
    Thu. May 28 - Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel *
    Fri. May 29 - Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center *
    Sun. May 31 - Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre – SOLD OUT *
    Mon. June 1 - Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre *
    Wed. June 3 - New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre #
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Scheessel, De @ Hurricane Festival
    Fri. June 19-Sun. June 21 - Munich, DE @ Southside Festival
    Tue. June 23 - London, UK @ Koko – SOLD OUT
    Wed. June 24 - Antwerp, BE @ Openlucht Theater
    Thu. June 25 - Paris, FR @ Divan Du Monde – SOLD OUT
    Sun. June 28 - Stockholm, SE @ Göta Lejon – SOLD OUT
    Mon. June 29 - Stockholm, SE @ Göta Lejon – SOLD OUT
    Tue. June 30 - Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller – SOLD OUT
    Thu. July 2 - Goteborg, SE @ Pustervik – SOLD OUT
    Sat. June 27–Sat. July 4 - Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival
    Fri. July 17-Sun. July19 - Louisville, KY @ Forecastle
    Fri. July 17 – Sat. July 18 - Eaux Claire, WI @ Eaux Claires Festival
    Fri. July 31 – Sun. Aug. 2 - Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
    Sat. Oct. 3 - Oslo, NO @ Opera House ^
    Sun. Oct. 4 - Göteborg, SE @ Konserthuset ^
    Mon. Oct. 5 - Stockholm, SE @ Cirkus ^
    Tue. Oct. 6 - Umea, SE @ Idun ^
    Thu. Oct. 8 - Linköping, SE @ Crusell ^
    Fri. Oct. 9 - Falun, SE @ Magasinet ^
    Sat. Oct. 10 - Arhus, DK @ Voxhall ^
    Mon. Oct. 12 - Cologne, DK @ E-Werk ^
    Tue. Oct 13 - Berlin, DE @ Huxley’s ^
    Wed. Oct. 14 - Vienna, AT @ Arena ^
    Thu. Oct. 15 - Milan, IT @ Alcatraz ^
    Fri. Oct. 16 - Zürich, CH @ Volkshaus ^
    Sat. Oct. 17 - Paris, FR @ La Cigal ^
    Mon. Oct. 19 - London, UK @ Roundhouse ^
    Tue. Oct. 20 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC ^
    Wed. Oct. 21 – Dublin, IE @ Vicar Street ^
    Fri. Oct. 23 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall ^
    Sat. Oct. 24 – Bexhill, UK @ De La Warr ^
    Sun. Oct. 25 - Brussels, BE @ AB ^
    Tue. Oct. 27 - Copenhagen, DK @ Vega ^

    * with Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear
    # with Hiss Golden Messenger
    ^ with Phil Cook

    The Tallest Man On Earth online: www.thetallestmanonearth.com.


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    C. F. Martin & Co. announces new X Series and Road Series models, which are set to be unveiled at Musikmesse 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany April 15-18.

    The contemporary X Series new models to be showcased include the 00X1AE and GPX1AE and GPCRSGT new Road Series model.

    Additionally, on display will be the second Signature Artist Edition Guitar, Ed Sheeran X Signature Edition, which was designed in collaboration with multi-platinum selling artist Ed Sheeran.

    Sheeran is once again donating 100% of his royalties from the sales of each guitar to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (www.each.org.uk), a UK-based charity in his hometown. The organization, whose Royal Patron is The Duchess of Cambridge, supports families and cares for young people with life-threatening conditions and provides services across several UK counties, including Suffolk, where Sheeran was raised.

    Details on the products featured at Musikmesse are below.

    Ed Sheeran X Signature Edition: The second Signature Artist Edition features an LX body size with Ed’s signature “X” (multiply) album logo on the headplate and fretboard in fluorescent green. The multi-platinum-selling album’s logo is inlaid in solid koa on a solid Sitka spruce top. The C.F. Martin & Co. logo is also displayed in fluorescent green on the black High Pressure Laminate (HPL) headplate. The model comes stage-ready, equipped with Fishman Isys T electronics, SP Lifespan Martin strings and a padded gig bag. (MSRP $699.00)

    Road Series GPCRSGT: This GPCRSGT Grand Performance, 14-fret cutaway model features a gloss top, Sapele back and sides and Fishman Sonitone electronics with USB. It is one of the first Grand Performance body sizes in the Road Series. Equipped with SP Lifespan strings and a hardshell case. This model has the look and sound of a cherished Martin guitar at an affordable price. (MSRP $1,299.00)

    X Series Models:

    00X1AE: The 00-14 fret, non-cutaway, acoustic electric model features a Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate mahogany-grained back and sides. It is equipped with SP Lifespan strings and Fishman Sonitone electronics with USB. The 00X1AE is sure to please players of all levels with its ease of playability and great tone whether playing at home or on the stage.
    (MSRP $749.00)

    GPX1AE: A Grand Performance-14 fret, non-cutaway, acoustic-electric model that features a Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate mahogany-grained back and sides. The rust colored laminate neck complements the rich hue of the back and sides, making this an aesthetic beauty. Equipped with Fishman Sonitone electronics with USB for a great dynamic sound. (MSRP $749.00)

    Find out more at www.martinguitar.com.


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    As much as he might try to deny it, Eric Johnson is a member of that small group of players sometimes referred to as "guitarists' guitarists."

    Players—like Jeff Beck, for instance—whose skills are (secretly, perhaps) the envy of his peers.

    Johnson is, however, well aware of the dual trademarks that are likely to become his legacy: instantly recognizable tone and a painstaking pursuit of perfection.

    "I've realized I've always been pretty hypocritical," Johnson told Guitar World in 2000. "My favorite albums have always had mistakes on them, but I can't stand to have mistakes on mine."

    Today, for your listening and viewing pleasure, we've gathered 10 of Johnson's greatest songs—tracks that we feel come pretty damn close to perfection. Although we've tried to make it a career-spanning list, we couldn't help but put a bit of extra emphasis on his 1990 masterpiece, Ah Via Musicom.

    We also couldn't help but include live clips of all 10 songs. After all, there are a hell of a lot of high-quality YouTube videos of Johnson in action.

    So sit back and enjoy some of the finest guitar playing you'll hear—and see—today! And even if you don't agree with nine of these 10 choices (no one's making an Eric Johnson best-of list without "Cliffs of Dover"), it's pretty much impossible to fault the playing in these 10 clips. Enjoy! — Damian Fanelli


    "Benny Man’s Blues"
    Eclectic, Eric Johnson and Mike Stern (2014)

    "Mike [Stern] was saying we should have an up-tempo blues piece for [Eclectic], which I thought was a cool idea," Johnson told Guitar World last year. "While I was figuring out what to do, I started thinking about some of those old Benny Goodman records where there’s just a couple of chord changes, but it still has that blues vibe."

    "That's a really cool track with a Texas-swing feel to it," Stern added. "I originally didn't know how Eric wanted to do it, but once [drummer] Anton [Fig] started playing the back beat, I immediately got where he was coming from."




    "Austin"
    Up Close (2010)

    On the gutsy, blues-rock stomper “Austin,” Johnson fills the verses with glassy, jazzy chords before letting loose with a jaw dropper of a solo in which notes seemingly somersault over one another.

    “I really love that song,” Johnson told Guitar World in 2011. “I’m a born-and-bred Texan, and I wanted to write something about the town I remember as a kid. Austin’s still a great place to live, but it’s changed in some ways environmentally that I’m not pleased about.”




    "S.R.V."
    Venus Isle (1996)

    And speaking of Austin, “S.R.V.,” from Johnson‘s Venus Isle album, was written as a tribute to fellow Austin-based guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died in 1990.

    The studio version of the track features a guest solo by SRV's big brother, Jimmie Vaughan, who also appears on "Texas" from Johnson's Up Close album (The track also features fellow Texan Steve Miller).




    "Fatdaddy"
    Up Close (2010)

    “This song was kicking around for a few years, and I could never figure out what to do with it," Johnson recently told Music Radar.

    "Sometimes it takes a while for a number to find a home. And the funny thing is, this was the last track that I cut for the album, the one that I had in my back pocket for so long.

    “I didn’t plan on recording it for the record, but right as I was finishing, I thought I was lacking an uptempo instrumental song, something that kind of rocks in a no-nonsense way. So I cut 'Fatdaddy' at the last moment. To me, the riff is a little Jan Hammerish, and I definitely had that in mind for years. The solo, though, is completely improvised, which is why it sounds pretty fresh, I think.”




    "Trail of Tears"
    Tones (1986)

    As "Trail of Tears" proves, there's nothing quite like the sound of a '54 Fender Strat going through a 100-watt Marshall head. Especially when Johnson is playing it.




    "Desert Rose"
    Ah Via Musicom (1990)

    Here's a touch of jangly Eighties pop made glorious by its guitar solos. In this particular video, Johnson's guitar is way too low in the mix during the first solo (although we have no problem at all hearing that snare drum); the problem is repaired in time for the second guitar solo.




    "Trademark"
    Ah Via Musicom (1990)

    Here's "Trademark," one of the lesser-known Ah Via Musicom instrumentals, which has a definite Eighties vibe to it, often even bringing the Police's Andy Summers to mind. It's another fine example of the magic Johnson can conjure with a Strat.




    "Zap"
    Tones (1986)

    "I guess 'Zap' is the only one we cut head on," said Johnson of the exciting, Grammy-nominated exciting fusion-rocker from Tones. "We recorded that as a three-piece, and I added just a very little bit of overdubs."




    "Manhattan"
    Venus Isle (1996)

    Here's this list's official smooth jazz entry, "Manhattan," from Venus Isle.




    "Cliffs of Dover"
    Ah Via Musicom (1990)

    “I don’t even know if I can take credit for writing ‘Cliffs of Dover,’ ” says Eric Johnson of his best-known composition.

    “It was just there for me one day. There are songs I have spent months writing, and I literally wrote this one in five minutes. The melody was there in one minute and the other parts came together in another four. I think a lot of the stuff just comes through us like that. It’s kind of a gift from a higher place that all of us are eligible for. We just have to listen for it and be available to receive it.”

    While it is true that he wrote the song in a blessed instant, the fact is that Johnson, a notoriously slow worker, took his time polishing it up to form. “It took me a while to achieve the facility to play it right,” he says. “I was trying to work out the fingerings and how I wanted particular notes to hang over other notes.”

    Even allowing for Johnson’s perfectionism, it took an extraordinarily long time for him to record a song that “came to him” in five minutes. That epiphany occurred in 1982, and within two years “Cliffs of Dover” was a popular staple of his live shows. He planned to include the song on his solo debut, Tones (Capitol, 1986), but, ironically, it didn’t make the cut. “It was ousted by the people who were doing the record with me,” Johnson explains. “I think they thought the melody was too straight or something.”

    Luckily, wiser heads prevailed on Ah Via Musicom. Though he had been playing “Cliffs of Dover” live for four or five years by then, it still took Johnson multiple takes to nail the song to his satisfaction—and he was never pleased with any version.

    “The whole solo is actually a composite of many guitar parts,” Johnson says. “I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound—almost regal—and though I had versions that were close, none quite nailed it, so I kept playing around with different permutations of the many versions I had recorded until I got it just right.

    “As a result, I actually ended up using two different-sounding guitars. Almost all of the song is a Gibson 335 through a Marshall, with an Echoplex and a tube driver. But in the middle of the solo there’s 20 or 30 seconds played on a Strat. It really does sound different if you listen closely and at first I didn’t think it could work, but I really liked this string of licks so we just decided to keep it. It basically just sounds like I’m hitting a preamp box or switching amps."

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    This is fun.

    What starts out as a charming ukulele cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” morphs into a full on metal assault.

    Behind it all are the guys from Timeless Skies from Tucson, AZ.

    Jonathon Lytwynczuk on Guitars/Bass/Ukulele, vocalist Mike Clark, and drummer Tyler Zuern go all out for an entertaining ukulele start to a kick ass metal version of this chart topper.

    They share, "It all started with a few strums of the ukulele playing along to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." From there, Jonathon Lytwynczuk and Mike Clark created an invigorating rendition with a balance of both melodically heavy riffs and clean choruses that will allow you to groove the night away!"

    Check it out:


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    The Blues Guitar Handbook: A Complete Course in Techniques & Styles by Adam St. James is the latest entry in Backbeat's bestselling handbook series.

    It starts by exploring the humble beginnings of blues guitar through the early decades of the 20th century, including profiles of such players as Robert Johnson, Charley Patton and Son House. As the story moves into the '40s and '50s, and blues players migrate to major urban centers, St. James follows the evolution of the music at the hands of such electric blues kingpins as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.

    Then it's the blues-rockers of the '60s, '70s, and '80s (including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan) before the story comes up to date, with blues flame-keepers such as Keb Mo' or Duke Robillard, and some not-quite-traditionalists, such as Robben Ford or Derek Trucks.

    A comprehensive section for mastering electric and acoustic blues follows this historic overview. Starting from the very basics, it leads you into more advanced rhythm and lead techniques before examining four key styles: acoustic blues, classic electric blues, blues rock and jazz blues.

    The many exercises in the book are supported by specially recorded audio tracks on the accompanying CD.

    The book is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $29.99.


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    Remember back in February when we shared the Louisville Leopard Percussionists' xylophone-and-marimba cover of Led Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song,” “The Ocean” and “Kashmir”?

    Well, they're back—this time with their version of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."

    Jimmy Page thought their Led Zeppelin cover was “too good not to share,” so he shared it on his Facebook page.

    Let's see if Ozzy feels the same way!

    The Louisville Leopard Percussionists began in 1993. They’re a performing ensemble of approximately 55 student musicians living in and around Louisville, Kentucky. Each student learns and acquires proficiency on several instruments, including marimbas, xylophone, vibraphone, drum set, timbales, congas, bongos and piano. Enjoy!

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    Hello! Geoff Unger here from the band Symptom 7.

    In this blog, I'm going to write about and show you many different concepts of playing the guitar while also trying to help instill confidence in you as a player, all while getting your fingers working in the practice room and then out of the practice room and into the real world of live playing.

    It's two different ball games, believe it or not. I'll give you real-world examples that I incorporate live and in my practice and songs that you can hopefully apply to your playing. I'll be running the gamut of techniques and mind sets. And it doesn't matter what style of music you play. It's all how you interpret it and apply it.

    Already play live in a band or can add or expand to these concepts I present? Great! There's always something to learn, so please share in the comments section with all of the readers. I encourage feedback and interaction between all of us.

    Let's get started. First, I'd like to discuss a very important topic: warming up.

    I find it extremely important to warm up, because this will aid in avoiding player injuries. When we play our guitars, we are putting stress on our muscles and tendons, just like athletes.

    Several years back, when I was at music school, I had the bad habit of not taking the time to warm up. In turn, because of my, for lack of a better word, stupidity, I obtained a very painful ganglion cyst in my left wrist. It got to a point where it really began to hinder my playing. My finger stretch became very limited, and eventually my pinky finger was pretty much useless and nearly immobile. I continued without resting it. I had to wrap that wrist in support bandages just to do shows. The show must go on, right?

    I finally went to a doctor and was told I had two choices to cure the cyst. Surgery, which at the time, I was told, wasn't a guarantee that I'd ever have full mobility again; or use a book. A book? Yes. I won’t go into details about that "procedure." But I did opt for the book. No more cyst. No harm done.

    Since then, I like to warm up before practicing or playing a gig. I don't have a specific routine and to be honest, if I did, that would get old quick. One constant, though, is I like to warm up for one hour.

    I typically start doing hammer-ons and pull-offs with limited picking, which, in turn, does a couple of things: loosen you up and build left-hand strength. Particularly your pinky.

    Here are three exercises I use at the moment to warm up:

    warm up 1_0.png

    warm up 2.png

    warm up 3.png

    Once loosened up, I'll do some string skipping with some tapping. I came up with this sequence (below) using two-note-per-string minor and major seventh-string skipping to aide in getting some minor stretching in to rehabilitate my hand. Eventually, I came up with a sequence I liked:

    warm up 4_0.png

    I also added some tapping to that same sequence. Years later, I incorporated it into part of a solo section in a song called "Trip":

    warm up 5.png

    By the time I'm done with those exercises, my left hand is generally ready to go. I then eventually go into picking exercises to warm up my picking hand.

    Definitely find your own means of warming up by creating exercises you like. Make up different patterns to keep your warmup interesting. You might just come across something you can add to one of your songs. Most importantly, stay uninjured! I have a lot more to show you!

    Geoff Unger is the guitar player and vocalist for three piece, NYC based, metal band Symptom 7. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Geoff studied jazz arranging and composition while under the tutelage of Jon Finn. Geoff also has appeared in Mike Varney's Hometown Heroes. A multi-styled guitar player, Geoff regularly performs live with Symptom 7 and as a hired live/studio guitar player. Symptom 7 will be in the studio this fall recording the followup to their 2007 debut, Symptom 7 - Vol. 1. Check out Symptom 7 on Facebook.


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