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    God bless roadies!

    As any guitarist can attest, roadies are indispensable members of any band's touring operation—as illustrated in this brief video featuring the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan and his roadie, Texas guitar whiz Rene Martinez.

    Vaughan, who can be seen performing "Look at Little Sister" for an Austin City Limits special in 1989, breaks his B string just a few seconds into the clip.

    At the 34-second mark, Vaughan motions to Martinez, who makes one of the smoothest Strat swaps we've ever seen.

    Granted, Vaughan and Martinez picked a perfect time to make the swap (The guitar solo was finished, etc.), but SRV misses only one or two low-E-zone double stops during the exchange. While singing!

    For more about Martinez, visit texasguitarwhiz.com.

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    Former Beatle Ringo Starr will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame this weekend.

    I figured I'd celebrate this most joyous of occasions by gathering up five songs that feature some of the best guitar work to be found on Ringo's solo albums.

    After all, from 1970's Sentimental Journey through 2015's Postcards from Paradise, Ringo's albums have featured guest appearances by several talented guitarists, including George Harrison, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Joe Walsh, Stephen Stills, John Lennon, Robert Randolph, Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Peter Frampton and former GuitarWorld.com blogger Laurence Juber.

    So, as promised, here are five solo Ringo Starr songs with guitar work that really stands out.

    05. PRIVATE PROPERTY, from Stop and Smell the Roses (1981)
    Guitarist: Laurence Juber

    This tune, which was written by Paul McCartney, is one of three songs McCartney and his crew (including his wife Linda, Wings guitarist Laurence Juber and pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Green) contributed to Ringo's Stop and Smell the Roses sessions.

    Juber's brief but brilliant solo is near the end of the song. NOTE: The song itself doesn't start until 1:04 in the video below.

    04. A DOSE OF ROCK 'N' ROLL, from Ringo's Rotogravure (1976)
    Guitarists: Peter Frampton, Jesse Ed Davis, Danny Kortchmar

    There's not much to say about the two-part guitar solo on this song (most likely played by Jesse Ed Davis and Peter Frampton), except that it's dang perfect, although a little too brief. Listen to how it starts off all friendly and happy and then heads off into a menacing place as it follows the solo's unique chord changes.

    I recently spoke to Frampton about this song, and here's how it went:

    ME: You’re credited with playing guitar on a Ringo Starr single from 1976, “A Dose of Rock ’N’ Roll,” from Ringo’s Rotogravure. But is that you playing the actual guitar solo?

    PETER FRAMPTON: I can't remember [laughs]. It was the Seventies, and I know I was sober for the session, but I'm not sure about right after. I'd have to listen to it again and see. People keep coming up to me, saying, "Is this you on this?" And I have to go listen to it to find out. I did more sessions than I remember doing. There were a lot of things in the Seventies that I played on that people keep reminding me about.

    [I play the song to him.]

    Yeah, the first part is me. I forgot all about that! That's me. And then, I forget who it is that comes in there, but that sounds like I'm playing my Gibson and then a Telecaster or a Strat comes in.

    ME: Well, Jesse Ed Davis is one of the other guitarists who plays on that track. [NOTE: Guitarist Danny Kortchmar also plays on the song.]

    Oh, yeah, Jesse Ed Davis. That's probably who it is.

    To read the rest of my conversation with Frampton, head here.

    03. NEVER WITHOUT YOU, from Ringo Rama (2003)
    Guitarist: Eric Clapton

    This song, a bright spot from Ringo's way-too-freaking-long Mark Hudson era (Hudson was Ringo's not-so-great producer), is Ringo's tribute to George Harrison, who had died of cancer only two years earlier.

    It features some great Eric Clapton riffs, from the solo through to the end of the song. That dude playing the Strat and miming the solo in the video is not Clapton, by the way. You might want to close your eyes during the solo to avoid distraction.

    02. $15 DRAW, from Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
    Guitarist: Jerry Reed

    This is one of the killer songs from Ringo's second solo album, 1970's Beaucoups of Blues, which he recorded in Nashville with some of the city's best studio musicians. Charlie Daniels is on this album, as are D.J. Fontana, Pete Drake and Sorrells Pickard, who wrote this song.

    Anyway, "$15 Draw" sums up Jerry Reed's playing style to a T. You can hear Reed explore this same sort of picking in his song "Guitar Man." He plays on his own version of the song and on Elvis Presley's version.

    I've always thought this song could be a hit for someone. It tells a great story, it takes you on an emotional roller coaster and it has a super-catchy guitar riff. It might be cool if a young female country artist were to record it. (Please credit me with the idea!)

    01. BACK OFF BOOGALOO, A-side of a 1972 Apple Records single; available on Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr
    Guitarist: George Harrison

    George Harrison's slide guitar playing is all over this Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) composition, the 1972 follow-up to Ringo's first hit single, "It Don't Come Easy," which also features a great solo by Harrison.

    The song also features some fine drumming by Ringo, bass playing by Klaus Voormann and piano tinkling by Gary Wright.

    Harrison played several great guitar solos on Ringo's records throughout the years, including "Early 1970,""Down and Out,""Wrack My Brain" and "King of Broken Hearts."

    Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. He performs every year at Abbey Road on the River, he's played on sessions and soundtracks in New York and Los Angeles, and he's tired of eating apples.

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  • 04/17/15--13:13: Top 10 Classic Shred Albums
  • Wow … had to dust off the ol’ cassette deck for this one! Sure, faster shredders may have been left off this list, but arpeggio for arpeggio, these 10 albums strike the finest balance between tasteful melody and, “No way did he just play that!”

    Note: For those of you born after 1985, a cassette is a small, flat plastic cartridge that contains a spool of 1/8-inch audiotape. Cassette players, although now nearly obsolete, are most commonly found in cheap rental cars.

    10. Greg Howe (Shrapnel, 1988)Greg Howe A funk-savvy speedster, Greg Howe injected the shred scene with some much-needed shake and soul. The funkdafied “Kick It All Over” kicks off the festivities, and the following track, “The Pepper Shake,” offers a spicy display of Howe’s legato and alternate-picking chops.

    09. Speed Metal Symphony (Shrapnel, 1987)CacophonySpeed Metal Symphony, a mighty opus featuring first-chair guitar virtuosos Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, uses “speed metal” rhythm beds and shifting time signatures to help break up the cacophonous onslaught of all-out shred.

    To see the rest of the list, check out the photo gallery below!

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    IK Multimedia, the leading player in mobile guitar tone technology, has just announced the release of AmpliTube UA.

    It's the first real-time guitar amp and effects processing app for all Android phones and tablets that gives musicians the freedom to rock out any time and anywhere with their favorite Android mobile device.

    The companion app to the soon-to-be-released iRig UA universal digital interface, AmpliTube UA gives musicians with Android devices—version 4.2 or higher and that support USB host mode/USB OTG—the ability to experience the flexibility and full tonal power of a portable customizable guitar rig complete with three stompbox effects, an amplifier, a cabinet and a microphone.

    Superior guitar tone on every Android smartphone

    In 2010, IK Multimedia pioneered the mobile music creation market with the introduction of the iRig interface and AmpliTube for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With more than 17 million downloads on mobile devices worldwide, AmpliTube is the leading guitar app—it's a global sensation that continues to inspire guitarists, bass players and other musicians with its ease-of-use, vast library of virtual gear and limitless tone sculpting possibilities.

    An industry first, AmpliTube UA now brings this famous creative ease to Android. It lets users build great sounding virtual guitar and bass rigs by selecting from 21 included gear models that include five amplifiers, nine stompbox effects, five cabinets and two positionable microphones. AmpliTube UA's flexible signal path lets players change the order of effects and amps, and even add effects "after" the amplifier in the signal chain to provide even more creative tonal options.

    An expandable amp and effects library of world-class brands

    Like all versions of AmpliTube, the base collection of gear can be expanded from within AmpliTube UA. There are currently 22 models available via in-app purchase. All are based on iconic pieces of gear from world-class official brands like Fender, Orange, Ampeg, Soldano and more. There's also exclusive content available from our artist's series like AmpliTube Slash and AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix collections.

    Universal Android processing

    To get the most out of AmpliTube UA, it needs to be paired with the forthcoming iRig UA digital audio interface (due out in May). The combination of iRig UA and AmpliTube UA delivers universal zero latency processing and high-quality sound on the Android platform. Together they give musicians the ability to play in real-time with no audible device processing delay, a market first for Android devices.

    This previously impossible feature is now a reality due to iRig UA's built-in high performance 32-bit DSP, 24-bit A/D converter, 44.1/48kHz sample rate, and low-noise instrument preamp. With its premium specifications, iRig UA is able to provide great sound, amazing playability and unprecedented cross-platform compatibility.

    AmpliTube UA functions in a "preview" mode when an iRig UA is not connected to the device. This lets musicians build, control and apply custom guitar rigs that can be used with the provided "dry" audio demo. iRig UA is required for audio-in and guitar processing functionality.

    iRig UA's on-board digital signal processor works in conjunction with AmpliTube UA app. As all of the processing is handled onboard iRig UA, and not on the Android device, it's able to provide consistent zero-latency performance (down to just 2ms round-trip total latency) independent of the make and model of the connected smartphone or tablet. Or, in other words, it offers the plug-and-play performance that mobile musicians with Android devices crave.

    The perfect pair

    The pairing of iRig UA and AmpliTube UA is perfect for on-the-go practice and performance. iRig UA features a 1/4" input for a guitar, bass or other line-level instrument, a micro-USB to OTG cable and a 1/8" stereo output with volume control for headphones or connection to a live sound speaker, amplifier or mixer. It also sports a 1/8" AUX input that lets musicians connect any sound source so that they can practice and jam along to their favorite tunes with the power of AmpliTube's tone.

    Pricing and availability

    AmpliTube UA can now be downloaded as a free app via the Google Play store. iRig UA is available for pre-order for $99.99/€99.99 (excluding taxes). iRig UA will ship May 2015 from music and electronics retailers worldwide, and from the IK online store.

    For more information, visit amplitube.com/ua or irigua.com.

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    Below, check out some pretty damn impressive footage of Dragonforce's Herman Li playing the guitar solo to “Through the Fire and the Flames” underwater.

    Well, first in the water, then underwater.

    This aquatic feat was part of the Full Metal Cruise, which came to an end Thursday, April 16, after six days of metal madness in the harbor of Palma de Mallorca in Spain.

    Besides Dragonforce, the Mein Schiff 1 cruise ship was rocked by Alestorm, Axxis, Bembers, Blaas of Glory, Beyond The Black, Blaze Bayley, Doro, Dragonforce, Endstille, J.B.O., Mambo Kurt, Onkel Tom, the Pressgeng, Hammerfall, Melissa van Fleet Russkaja, Saltatio Mortis, Sodom, Stormwarrior, Subway to Sally, Tankard and Uli Jon Roth.

    While we have you, be sure to check out this effortless performance of “Through the Fire and the Flames” by 15-year-old French shredder Tina S.

    On that note, enjoy!

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    Below, feast your eyes on some recently posted high-quality video of AC/DC performing "Baptism by Fire," a new track from 2014's Rock Or Bust, at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last weekend (April 10).

    The clip, which was posted by ACDC-Italia.com, merges two fan-filmed videos to create a full performance of the song.

    The live performance was the band's first full show in five years.

    "I hope you guys like rock and roll, because that's all we do," said frontman Brian Johnson early in the set.

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    The life of a musician can be tough, and as an artist, I'm always looking for new ways to keep the juices flowing. Here are my favorite sources of support and inspiration for your journey as a singer-songwriter.

    1. The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
    An engaging guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art ignites the soul. Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us creative types faces, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

    2. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
    The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living – and loving - the artist’s life.

    3. ASCAP Expo
    The ASCAP Expo is an annual music conference open to ALL songwriters, regardless of PRO affiliation (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or other). It’s a fantastic place to network with fellow writers and music business pros, as well as get inspired by performances by incredible artists – both established and up-and-coming.

    4. The Craft of Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis
    This must-have classic for lyricists uses successful songs to illustrate songwriting forms and discusses theme, repetition, wordplay, rhyme, rhythm, and how to avoid common songwriting mistakes.

    5. A Great Vocal Coach
    Finding your singing voice can be a difficult and emotional process (or was that just me?!). Studying with the right teacher can help increase your confidence, expand your vocal skills and perform songs you never thought possible. Ask your favorite singer friends for recommendations to their teachers, and don’t be shy about shopping around until you find the right teacher for you.

    6. Songwriting Organizations
    Connect with songwriting organizations, either in your town, or online. Attend their sponsored events and network with other singer-songwriters. Some good places to start: West Coast Songwriters, The Songwriting School of Los Angeles, Nashville Songwriters Association International, and more./>/>

    7. Your Own Personal Mentor
    Whether it’s a teacher, manager, fellow singer-songwriter you admire, or a music industry professional you can trust, try to connect with someone further along than you are for guidance, and keep your mind open to what you hear.

    8. Networking Strategies for the New Music Business by Dan Kimpel
    Dan Kimpel, who wrote the classic Networking In The Music Business, expands on his first book to help you develop the people skills necessary to achieve success. Engaging and filled with practical advice and real-world rock-star examples, this is a detailed guide to creating a career game plan./>

    9. Songwriters On Songwriting: Revised and Expanded by Paul Zollo
    In these pages, sixty-two of the greatest songwriters of our time go straight to the source of the magic of songwriting by offering their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on their art. Representing almost every genre of popular music, these writers give the reader rare insight into their musical lives and songwriting process.

    10. A Fuzzy Animal
    Seriously!! Whether cat, dog, hamster, or ferret, a fuzzy (or even non-fuzzy!) pet can be a wonderful source of support as your dependable, loving companion in this crazy life of an artist.

    Ali Handal, along with her husband and cats Pumpkin & Shen, lives in Los Angeles, where she writes, records, and performs her original music. Her songs have appeared in countless television shows & feature films (e.g., Sex in the City, Dawson’s Creek, iCarly, Victorious), as well as recorded by artists as far away as South Africa. Ali wrote the Hal Leonard guitar method book “Guitar For Girls” and is currently writing songs for her fourth studio album.

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    30 Hot Country Licks, Guitar World's exclusive new country-guitar lesson series, is now available through the Guitar World Lessons App and Webstore.

    It joins the ranks of the hundreds of lessons already available through Guitar World Lessons.

    To celebrate this new release, we're offering the first 30 Hot Country Licks lesson, "Hick-Pickin’ Country Riff in G," for free! Note that all 30 "Hot Country Licks" are available for only $9.99.

    Below, you can check out a video trailer of today's free lesson, "Hick-Pickin’ Country Riff in G," which features guitarist Peter Stroud.

    Selected from Guitar World's Lick of the Day vault, this collection of tasty country-style guitar licks and lessons is presented by an elite group of seasoned guitar pickers and teachers, including Jerry Donahue, Peter Stroud, Lyle Brewer, Guthrie Govan, Keith Wyatt, Dale Turner, Jimmy Brown, Andy Aledort and others.

    Learn how to “chicken pick,” play Western-swing-style phrases, bend strings, make your guitar “weep” like a pedal steel guitar and more!

    For more information about 30 Hot Country Licks, visit the Guitar World Lessons Webstore and download the App now.

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    In this video Ian Wong of Learn Guitar Fast Tips explains some core fingerstyle concepts.

    Even if you are not an absolute beginner, this is a great refresher.

    In this video he cover the following:
    1. Essential Chord Shapes
    2. Range of motion for fingers on the chord hand
    3. Bass note positions for essential chords
    4. Essential terms
    5. Finger positions for plucking hand
    6. A few other important things

    You will utilize many of the same skills, chords and finger positions in most of Ian's tutorials, so you will have a chance to get a lot of practice on fundamental functional skills that will allow you to play great sounding songs.

    A strong foundation in your basics is essential for fast progress, so stay focused and don't give up.

    See more of Ian's tutorials at http://learnguitarfasttips.com/

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    Inspired by this morning's post about Kirk Hammett and Michael Schenker's jam session on the April 18 edition of That Metal Show, we thought we'd share this clip of Zakk Wylde's recent visit to the VH1 show.

    In the video, which you can check out below, Wylde plays one of his new Wylde Audio guitars through one of his new Wylde Audio amps.

    Then, as part of Mark Strigl's "That Metal Gear" segment of the show, Wylde discusses his new company and gear in great detail. It turns out Wylde's company is not only building the amps—but he's also building the speakers and tubes that go inside the amps. To found out more, and to get a good look at Wylde's new gear, check out the video below.

    For more about Wylde Audio, visit wyldeaudio.com.

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    This past Saturday night, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Following John Mayer's induction speech, during which he called the late SRV “the ultimate guitar hero,” Mayer joined Gary Clark Jr., Jimmie Vaughan, lefty Doyle Bramhall II and Double Trouble—drummer Chris Layton, bassist Tommy Shannon and keyboard player Reese Wynans—for a performance of "Texas Flood," the title track from SRV's debut 1983 album.

    “Stevie used his guitar to lead him out of town,” Mayer said. “He gave me hope because heroes give you hope. While Jimi Hendrix came down from outer space, Stevie came up from below the ground.”

    You can check out some high-quality fan-filmed footage below.

    Other inductees Saturday night included former Beatle Ringo Starr (as a solo artist), Green Day, underground-icon Lou Reed, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the “5” Royales.

    HBO will broadcast the event May 30.

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    Band merch isn’t just an afterthought for me. It makes up a big portion of my income as a professional musician.

    I don’t have a merch stand. I have a traveling music store with shirts, CDs, cigar box guitars, guitar slides, beer can mics and more.

    I’ve read so many articles about band merch, and most of them seem to be written by people who don’t make part of their living by selling band merch.

    This series of articles is about things that have worked for me. These are real, quantifiable things that have worked—not just a shallow article telling you to order koozies with your band logo.

    If one or two of these ideas work for you, awesome. If you’ve got other ideas, add a comment below.

    My Number 1 seller is the $20 CD/shirt combo. I sell my T-shirts for $15 each and my CDs for $10. If somebody wants to buy one of each, the price is $20. When people see this value, they snap it up.

    I can afford to sell the combo so cheap because of my purchasing. I use cotton shirts with a one-sided print that costs me $4 per shirt. (I use the black T-shirt special from jakprints.com: 100 printed black shirts for $400 with free shipping.) CDs are printed at less than $2 each from Kunaki.com. I use them because I can order small quantities and I’m not sitting on huge stockpiles of CDs. I order as much as I need for a month’s worth of shows.

    At $6 total cost for the package, it puts my profit at $14. That looks small, but it adds up. I played a tiny gig yesterday, and we sold a dozen of these packages.

    I always have somebody running the merch stand while I perform because people buy more while the concert is going on. When I’m on stage, I’ll tell the audience what CD the next song is from. If the song connects with somebody, it’s easy for them to walk over to my merch stand and make an impulse purchase of that album.

    On the flipside, if I don’t have a merch guy and only vend during set breaks, I hardly sell anything.

    Having a credit card app on my cell phone is essential. About 60 percent of my sales are with credit cards. I use Square.com. (Credit card tip: I always take handwritten credit card receipts in case cell phone reception sucks. I’m not going to lose a sale just because I can’t swipe the card! I simply write all the info down, get their signature and enter it in when I get home.)

    We really push email list signups in order to sell more merch online. Emails aren’t just for gig announcements! I send out a weekly email to fans that includes a well-thought out message, upcoming shows and links to my merch page on my website. People get to see my newest handmade cigar box guitars (a big seller for me), and I also create special sales every so often.

    My email list has 5,000 names and averages a weekly 27 percent readership. I actually study email marketing in order to give them an entertaining email to read each week and keep them engaged.

    More merch ideas coming later this week with Part 2!

    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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    We know patience is a rare virtue these days, especially when it comes to watching online videos (for longer then three seconds), but we recommend that you watch this clip to the end.

    The mesmerizing four-minute-long video, which was posted April 18 by a YouTube user named DeanSwirled (formerly MrDean2005; we've featured his videos on the site in the past), shows an Ibanez RG350 getting a custom swirl paint job.

    DeanSwirled, who we're pretty sure is from the U.K., posted the following information with the video:

    "[Here's] a before-and-after video of this Ibanez RG350. It is now completely finished, beautifully swirled and clear-coated to a very high standard. Totally refurbished, frets leveled and polished with the fretboard being lightly sanded and conditioned. Everything is original except new screws on the scratch plate and trem cover.

    "The clear coat is high-gloss polyurethane that has been sanded and polished to a very high level as one would expect from a much more expensive guitar. Swirled using three colors, it looks stunning and sounds awesome."

    It turns out this guitar is for sale. If you like what you see, write to deansands@btinternet.com. (Note: I don't know Dean, and I don't care if you buy this guitar; I'm just passing along the info.) Enjoy!

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    In this Monster Lick, I'm using the E minor pentatonic scale along with the diminished 7 arpeggio. The techniques I'm using here are arpeggio sweeps, legato and tapping.

    This lick is my favorite way to create chaos in a solo.

    We all know a guitar solo should be driven by melody, but every solo needs some craziness, too. The pentatonic scale is very melodic by nature, so even when playing fast licks or runs with this scale, there's still an underlying beauty to it (while the speed takes care of the extremeness needed to lift your soloing to new heights).

    I'm not saying you need to play like this in all of your solos, but if used tastefully, licks like this can really set your playing apart from others.

    Using these techniques with the pentatonic scale is not easy; the stretches and fingerings can prove very difficult. But it's well worth the effort. The pentatonic scale is easily the most recognizable scale in music; we use it in nearly every genre. This should be reason enough to want to study it as much as possible.

    It was my love of blues guitar that first drove me to this scale. What I found as my understanding grew was that it is adapted into all styles of music/guitar playing. I found that nearly every guitar player I loved based his/her playing around this scale, and this got me tremendously excited.

    This lick is an extreme example of a way to combine these techniques with the pentatonic and diminished 7th. For any guitar players out there who might be just beginning their journey as a player, don't be deterred by the complexity of this lick. Just let it inspire you to practice hard, knowing that the possibilities are really endless!

    Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 3.57.20 PM.png

    I hope you enjoy this Monster Lick Unleashed! Join me on YouTube right here! Contact me through glennproudfoot.com or my Facebook page.

    Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It's available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com. His brand-new instrumental album — Ineffable— is out now and is available through glennproudfoot.com and iTunes.

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    The guys at HiTone Guitars recently posted a useful and informative video on their YouTube channel—and we thought we'd share it. We're good like that!

    Check out the video—"How to Swirl Paint a Guitar"—below. As always, tell us what you think!

    There wasn't a lot of info posted with the clip, but there was this:

    "After a few different tests I finally swirled my first guitar. The colors were picked to go with the surf guitar theme and the walnut wood that would be surrounding the top."

    By the way, if you enjoy this video, you'll certainly appreciate:

    Video: Guitar Receives Custom Metallic Swirl Paint Job and Video: Guitar Headstock Receives Custom Metallic Swirl Paint Job.

    Swirl away!

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    Richard Williams. He’s played on every Kansas album since with the group’s self-titled 1974 debut. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…

    Why do you think the Seventies produced so many iconic bands? — Rich Fazio

    It was a time of unrestricted experimentation. In addition to pop-music groups, there were bands that stuck out of the box, and it was allowed by the record companies.

    But the music business squashed that a long time ago. Bands are still playing challenging stuff, but in the popular world of music most of them are never going to see the light of day. The Seventies bands were immediately identifiable, and each had its own stamp.

    Kansas sold out Madison Square Garden when they played there [June 28, 1978]. What do you remember about that show? — Carmine D’urso

    Three things pop into my head right away. First, riding to the show in a limousine. It was just another arena show for us, because we were so unaffected by our success. In hindsight, though, I thought, Holy shit, we just played the Garden, and it sold out! The second thing that stands out is that, on the way to the show, Jeff Glixman, our road manager then, got pissed off after seeing people on the side streets selling bootleg Kansas T-shirts.

    So he got out of the limo and told some guy to stop selling them, and the guy pointed a pistol at Jeff and told him to get out of his face. The third thing that comes to mind is we wanted to record our live album, Two for the Show, at the Garden. We had the mobile recording track with us at the venue that night, but the American Federation of Musicians wanted to charge us $50,000 to use it, so we told the union we weren’t paying that sum of money and recorded the album in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

    Although Kansas is best known for “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” to me those songs don’t accurately represent the group’s sound. Overall, on the majority of your catalog, Kansas sounds like an American counterpart to European progressive rock bands such as Yes and King Crimson. Would you agree? — Albert Morris

    The heart of Kansas is in that style of music, but we don’t sound like any of those groups. We’re a ballsy American rock band above all. But those bands were our heroes and made us realize that you could assemble songs in weird time signatures and didn’t have to format music in a traditional manner. Those are the types of influences that, collectively, brought the original members of Kansas together. Personally, I loved early Yes, early Genesis and Gentle Giant, and each of the bands from that genre were completely and uniquely different from each other.

    Kansas’ level of musicianship is awesome, yet you’ve channeled that virtuosity into many catchy, memorable songs. What makes the band so versatile? — Mike Sabatino

    Coming out of Topeka, Kansas, there were a lot of guitarists I knew who were better than me. If music were all about virtuosity and chops, we’d all be listening to very high-brow jazz and the opera and symphonies. Individually, the members of Kansas are all pretty darn good, but collectively, the sum of the parts is incomparable.

    One of the great things about music is that you can sit down and play by yourself, but it’s far more joyful to hear the organic sound of people of like thought playing together. That’s what music is all about. The members of Kansas had a common direction. We were friends who stuck together and created something magical.

    I saw the promotional video for Kansas’ documentary, Miracles Out of Nowhere, online. I was happy to see artists as diverse as Brian May and Garth Brooks gush about the band. Why do you think Kansas’ music appeals to not just the public at large but big-name musicians as well? — John Dinapoli

    There’s an honesty to our music; all people can relate to it. We’re not contrived, we’re not an act, and we’ve never chased fame. We’ve always been a hard-working, blue-collar band. Kansas was the opening act for Queen’s first U.S. tour, and we bonded with those guys. Brian’s appreciation for us has always been heartfelt.

    I’ve known for years that Garth was one of our biggest fans. He’s been able to incorporate the rock-concert experience into country music, which I’m proud to say was partly inspired by Kansas and his admiration of us. Regarding the documentary, we just wanted to tell the story of the original band members coming from Topeka and climbing to the top of the mountain.

    When all the original members were in the band, Kansas could replicate its studio recordings with great clarity and precision onstage. How did you guys pull this off so effortlessly? — Vincent Macrino

    It was the mindset at the time. Onstage, we’d play our most demanding songs from our albums and pull them off. We’d record the songs as if we were playing them live.

    What was it like coming from Topeka to New York City to record Kansas’ first album at the Record Plant, where John Lennon and other famous artists also happened to be recording at the time? — Lauren Glaser

    It was quite an experience. I didn’t get to see John Lennon—I would’ve shit myself had I did—because we were on the graveyard shift in Studio C while the big acts were recording in a different part of the building. The studio was near Times Square, which was not cleaned up like it is today. There were drug dealers, hookers and porn everywhere. It wasn’t safe walking those streets at night.

    People would approach you and say, “Wanna buy some shit?” It was terrifying. As for our first album, it was recorded, mixed and completed in three weeks. I cowrote the opening track, “Can I Tell You,” which was the song that caught [manager/producer] Don Kirshner’s attention and landed us a record deal.

    Kerry Livgren was Kansas’ primary songwriter during the band’s heyday. How much input did you have on his songs? — Pete Bedrosian

    It varied. Some songs were written entirely by Kerry, while others were a group effort. He has the remarkable ability to compose songs in his head in an evening; then he’d present them to the band, tell us what to play, and we’d help him arrange the parts and offer our suggestions.

    Kerry was influenced by classical music, and it shows in his writing. Besides being a superb guitarist and keyboardist, Kerry is a songwriting genius. I mean, here’s a guy who was able to turn a fingerpicking exercise, “Dust in the Wind,” into one of the most popular songs of all time! There is and never has been a song like that on the radio.

    “Icarus (Borne on Wings of Steel)” is one of the heaviest yet most progressive songs I’ve ever heard. What inspired it? — Sid Rosenthal

    The song revolves around the whole concept of flight. Kerry was very inspired by aviation. Both he and his father flew planes. The lyrics are about the story of Icarus, and musically the song has many shifts in dynamics. Whenever a band member would bring in a song, it would go through the Kansas “meat grinder,” in that we would just chew it to pieces. Each member of the band would challenge one another. Dave [Hope, bass], in particular, was brutal. He would say things like, “That middle section sucks! Crank it up! We need something with more backbone there.” “Icarus” goes over great live. The crowd goes wild when we play it.

    Can you talk about the incident that led up to you losing your right eye one Fourth of July in your early teens when a homemade bomb blew up in your face? — Gary Deleo

    It was the summer between seventh and eighth grade. It was hotter than hell, and I had already blown up all my fireworks. So I took money out of my coin collection and got on my bicycle and rode to the outskirts of town to buy more fireworks. Then I went down to my basement and dumped all the powder from the firecrackers into a glass medicine bottle with a porcelain top with the intention of making a bomb that would make more of a statement than simply blowing up a bunch of firecrackers.

    But when I twisted the lid shut, the friction from the threading on the bottle sparked, and the whole thing exploded and ripped me to pieces, and my parents rushed me to the hospital. I wore a prosthetic eye for a while, but I got rid of it because it wasn’t very comfortable.

    What inspired you to play guitar, and who are your musical influences? — Jerry Egan

    Seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 inspired me to want to be in a band. I didn’t begin playing guitar then, but that’s when I wanted to start. The guitarists in the Yardbirds had a huge influence on me—Page, Clapton and Beck contributed greatly to the development of rock guitar. And John Mayall’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton was mind blowing. It was an album where guitar was not a background accompaniment; it hit you right in your face. That was “Guitar 101” to me.

    Photo: Neil Zlozower/Atlas Icons

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    Hello again, Guitar World readers. It’s nice to be back! I’d like to begin this new series of columns by talking about getting started with sweep picking, which is a very useful and exciting technique that I often use to perform fast arpeggio-based licks and runs.

    Let’s get started with the basic mechanics of sweep picking, and then I’ll move on to more complex applications of the technique.

    An arpeggio is the notes of a chord played individually and in succession. In FIGURE 1, I’m fretting a first-position Am chord and, starting on the open A string, picking each note one at a time, moving to the first string and then back down to the fifth string. The idea is that the notes of the chord are played melodically, as opposed to being strummed together.

    Sweep picking entails dragging the pick across several adjacent strings in a single stroke, either moving from low to high, or from high to low, which is often called a “reverse sweep.”

    The technique allows a guitarist to perform what I think of as keyboard-style runs, as long, extended-range arpeggios played up and down a keyboard are typically featured in classical piano pieces. When I was first learning this technique, I often heard it referred to as raking, as the movement is not unlike pulling a rake along the ground in one unbroken movement and direction.

    In FIGURE 2, I fret a fifth-position Am barre chord and initially sound each note in succession from low to high by dragging the pick in a single downward motion across all six strings. After the high E string is sounded, I then reverse the process and drag the pick in a single upward motion across all six strings, moving from the highest to the lowest. Notice also that I’m using a slight amount of palm muting, as this helps shorten the decay of each note after it is picked, making each individual note sound distinct and clear and not part of a strummed chord.

    The next step is to expand upon this idea by incorporating hammer-ons and pull-offs into the shape, as demonstrated in FIGURE 3. While still fretting the Am barre chord, I strike the low A note and then hammer-on with my pinkie to C at the eighth fret. At the top of the shape, I use the pinkie again to fret a high C note at the eighth fret on the high E string, then pull-off back to A and descend across the lower five strings.

    Now that you understand the concept, let me show you how most sweep-picked licks are typically played. As illustrated in FIGURE 4, I’ve moved the first-position A minor shape up 12 frets, to 12th position, and the idea here is not to barre across any strings but rather to “get off of” each note after it is picked and move quickly from one string to the next, fretting and then releasing the finger pressure so that each note will sound by itself, without the previous note ringing, or “bleeding,” into it. Fret-hand muting is key here.

    We can move the idea down to another position, as demonstrated in FIGURES 5–8. FIGURES 5 and 6 present the basic idea, and FIGURE 7 shows how I would play the lick repeatedly in a continuous loop. FIGURE 8 offers a slight twist, in that the lowest and highest notes are sounded twice. Play through all of these shapes slowly and then gradually increase the tempo.

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    A favorite compositional technique of mine in the songs I record and perform with Revocation is to incorporate the use of odd and shifting meters in the writing of primary riffs.

    Another cool approach I often take is to combine straight 4/4 time with odd meters to create some interesting and unique amalgamations.

    For the song “Madness Opus,” I set the main figure, which is phrased in a rhythm of steady eighth-note triplets, in 3/4 meter, as shown in FIGURE 1. If we think of the initial note, F, as the tonic, or root, the chord that is alluded to is Fm-maj7b5.

    The use of pull-offs on the sixth string is essential to the proper articulation and sound of this riff. The one-bar pattern is played three times, after which I transpose it down a step and a half, or a minor third, so that the initial note is D, at which point the chordal allusion is Dm-maj7b5. Regarding the pick-hand, I pretty much stick with alternate (down-up) picking throughout, starting with two downstrokes on the low F notes and then switch to alternate picking for the notes that are consecutively picked.

    On the recording, after this phrase cycles through a few times, I bring in an overdubbed guitar part, illustrated in FIGURE 2, that plays the same riff but transposed up a minor third, or a step and a half. This results in a harmonized line known as a parallel harmony, for which every fretted note is a minor third above the melodic line.

    Given that the line itself is very dissonant sounding, the harmony of a minor third above it pushes the musical effect even further into “alien” territory. I love to harmonize riffs using different intervallic distances like this, and playing a line a minor third above always works well.

    Another great example of the incorporation of odd meter is the primary riff to “Witch Trials,” shown in FIGURE 3. The majority of this phrase is played in 5/4 time, after which I shift very unexpectedly to 3/4. The figure is played in straight 16th notes but phrased in five-note groups, so that the initial note, the open low E, steadily shifts one 16th note later in the bar through each five-note group. The very nature of the phrasing of the melody creates the 5/4 meter in that it takes five beats of the pattern before the open low E will once again fall squarely on beat one. At the end of the phrase, I play a very atonal chord that my be analyzed as C#(b9)/E#.

    For our final example, also from “Witch Trials,” (see FIGURE 4), I begin in 4/4 but then wrap up the idea in 3/4. I think of the riff as being in A natural minor (A B C D E F G) with pairs of intervals placed against the low A pedal tone. I begin with a pair of notes—E and B, a fourth apart— followed by F and C, a fifth apart, then by A and F, an augmented (sharped) fifth apart. When I shift to 3/4, I simply bring the open low A pedal tone back in after playing the phrase across three quarter notes.

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    Last month, I presented the intriguingly exotic C Lydian hexatonic scale, which is formed by combining C and D triads (C E G + D F# A = C D E F# G A).

    Now, as we had done with E minor and D major hexatonic in the preceding lesson (April 2015 issue), I’d like to reveal the flip side of the musical coin and introduce an appealing mode of C Lydian hexatonic, D Mixolydian hexatonic, which has a bright and playful quality and is comprised of the very same six notes, only reoriented around a D root—D E F# G A C (see FIGURE 1).

    As I will demonstrate, this modal relationship between the two scales is very convenient and useful for crafting sweet-sounding melodies over a C-to-D or D-to-C chord vamp. But first, some more helpful insight into D Mixolydian hexatonic.

    Another way to think of this scale is to take the seven-note D Mixolydian mode (D E F# G A B C) and omit the sixth, B, which creates a wide, minor-pentatonic-like gap—a minor third interval, between the fifth, A and the minor, or “flat” seventh, C (see FIGURE 2).

    As I pointed out with C Lydian hexatonic versus the full C Lydian mode last month, D Mixolydian hexatonic retains the signature notes of D Mixolydian, in this case the minor seventh, C, and the major third, F#, in a way that sounds slightly less dense and more “open” and arpeggio-like, while offering more useful rhythmic phrasing options, due to the lesser and even number of notes (six instead of seven).

    You could also think of D Mixolydian hexatonic as being nearly identical to D major hexatonic (D E F# G A B), the only difference being the inclusion of the minor seventh, C, instead of the sixth, B, which subtly changes the scale’s character and flavor (see FIGURE 3). To me, this distinction makes D Mixolydian hexatonic sound more “Celtic” than “country.” Speaking of which, FIGURE 4 is a sprightly, Irish fiddle–style melody in 6/8 meter that’s based on alternating D and C major arpeggios and makes me think of leprechauns.

    FIGURE 5 is a slippery legato run played across the top three strings that alternates between C Lydian hexatonic and D Mixolydian hexatonic and ascends the fretboard through higher “inversions” of each scale, using finger slides to shift positions and create a seamless flow of notes. Try applying this same type of pattern to other string groups.

    Inspired by Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani and Warren Haynes, FIGURE 6 is a tumbling lead phrase that descends the fretboard diagonally and exploits a quick, decorative half-step bend and release from F# to G in three different octaves to create a noodle-y, sitar-like effect.

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    In my quest to raise my guitar-playing game to the highest level, I find it essential to devise practice techniques that will push my pick- and fret-hand abilities as far as possible.

    A great way to go about this is to combine the focus on these technical issues with the creative endeavor of writing original riffs and patterns that will hopefully spark new song ideas.

    FIGURE 1 is a 19-bar etude—a musical exercise that sounds like a mini-composition—I came up with that effectively addresses several fret- and pick-hand techniques that I consider crucial to mastering the art of metal guitar playing.

    In bars 1–4, I alternate a series of two-note power chords on the A and D strings against the palm-muted open low E string, which functions as a pedal tone. Notice that the E note on the A string’s seventh fret is common to each of the two-note chord shapes as the higher note on the D string ascends chromatically (one fret at a time).

    In this way, I’ve incorporated a melodic idea into a hard-driving rhythm part. At the end of bar 2, the note on the D string descends in order to set up the restatement of the pattern in a musically satisfying way.

    In bars 5 and 6, I initially accentuate an E5 power chord on the downbeat of beat one, and then repeatedly accent this chord every three 16th notes. The twist here is that, after the initial attack on each E5 chord, I hammer on from B to C on the A string, which creates a subtle grind that makes the riff sound heavy.

    Then, in bars 7 and 8, I switch to a single-note figure played in straight 16th notes across the bottom two strings, palm-muting the low E virtually the entire time in order to enhance the idea’s rhythmic power. In bars 9–12, I bring back the rhythmic approach from bar 1 but with different chords: here, a low E5 power chord is followed by C, Cs and D voicings on the A, D and G strings. Once again, I employ quick hammer-ons as I shift from chord to chord.

    The idea then wraps up in the final seven bars, starting in bars 13–15 with a lick played in steady 16th notes and built around consecutive pull-offs that are performed quickly while rapidly moving across the bottom three strings. I use a different fretting finger on each string—index on the low E, middle on the A and ring on the D—and it will take some practice to master this lick and get it up to the desired brisk tempo.

    The aggression culminates in bar 16 with a fast descending run that also moves across the bottom three strings, starting with 16th-note-triplet double pull-offs that incorporate a four-fret stretch as I move from the pinkie to the middle finger to the index finger. At the end of the pattern—bar 16, beat four—I shift up the neck slightly and switch the fretting fingers to pinkie, ring and index.

    All in all, this is a fun and challenging etude. Be sure to work it up to tempo gradually with attention paid to clear and precise articulation.

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