Articles on this Page
- 06/08/15--13:31: _‘Mad Max: Fury Road...
- 06/08/15--13:50: _Lamb of God Premier...
- 06/08/15--14:22: _Jennifer Batten Ann...
- 06/08/15--14:34: _Guitar Chalk Sessio...
- 06/08/15--14:36: _Mass Appeal: Guitar...
- 06/08/15--14:52: _Les Paul's Junior: ...
- 06/09/15--08:27: _Apogee Electronics ...
- 06/09/15--09:35: _Fast Lane: The Unde...
- 06/09/15--09:58: _Kelly Valleau’s Fin...
- 06/09/15--10:12: _Bent Out of Shape: ...
- 06/09/15--11:43: _Introducing Jack: B...
- 06/09/15--12:29: _Led Zeppelin Premie...
- 06/09/15--12:42: _Oceans Ate Alaska P...
- 06/09/15--13:29: _A Little Thunder P...
- 06/09/15--14:18: _B.B. King's Fingeri...
- 06/09/15--14:25: _Stevie Ray Vaughan ...
- 06/10/15--08:20: _Beyond Creation Pre...
- 06/10/15--09:19: _Steve Lukather Demo...
- 06/10/15--11:15: _A Critical Analysis...
- 06/10/15--11:49: _10 Questions with F...
- 06/08/15--13:50: Lamb of God Premiere New Song, "512"
- 06/08/15--14:22: Jennifer Batten Announces Summer 2015 Creative Seminar Tour Dates
- 06/09/15--09:35: Fast Lane: The Underappreciated Genius and Vision of Shawn Lane
- 06/09/15--11:43: Introducing Jack: Bringing Wi-Fi Into Your Setup — Video
- 06/10/15--08:20: Beyond Creation Premiere "L'exorde" Playthrough Video — Exclusive
- 06/10/15--11:15: A Critical Analysis of B.B. King's 10 Greatest Guitar Moments
- 06/10/15--11:49: 10 Questions with Full Devil Jacket Guitarist Paul Varnick
Everyone's been talking about the Doof Warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road.
He rides atop a rig loaded with speaker cabinets and plays a flame-throwing guitar.
It turns out one YouTube user figured out how to create a flame-throwing instrument, and he’s created a step-by-step video to demonstrate it.
In the video below, Caleb, a YouTube user with Make Magazine, shows how he built a flamethrower into a ukulele. OK, so it’s not a guitar, but a ukulele is a good and affordable piece place to start with project like this. You wouldn’t want to risk turning your favorite ax into a torch.
Besides, as Caleb explains in the video, “I don’t live in the post-apocalyptic desert. I live in the Midwest. So I had to take it down a notch.”
Caleb also talks about safety precautions to take when tackling a project like this. On that note, we should point out that we are presenting this video for entertainment purposes only. So kids, please, don’t try this at home!
Richmond, Virginia-based Lamb of God will release their seventh full-length album, VII: Sturm Und Drang, July 24 via Epic Records.
Today, the band has premiered a new song from the album, “512.” You can check it out below.
Stay tuned for the official music video for the track, which was directed by Jorge Torres-Torres.
Catch LAMB OF GOD on tour this summer with Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine and Motionless In White:
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR:
LAMB OF GOD W/ Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine & Motionless In White
7/24 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre
7/25 - Tampa, FL @ MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
7/26 - Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
7/28 - Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy MusicTheatre
7/29 - Darien Center, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
7/31 - Saratoga Springs, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center
8/1 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
8/2 - Hartford, CT @ XFINITY Theatre
8/4 - Boston, MA @ XFINITY Center
8/5 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
8/6 - Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion
8/8 - Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
8/9 - Montreal, QC @ Parc Jean-Drapeau - Heavy Montreal
8/11 - Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube Live
8/12 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach
8/14 - Indianapolis, IN @ Klipsch Music Center
8/15 - Chicago, IL @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
8/16 - St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
8/19 - Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
8/21 - Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
8/23 - Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheater
8/24 - Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
8/26 - Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion
8/28 - Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Resort Festival Grounds
8/29 - Phoenix, AZ @ AK-Chin Pavilion
8/30 - Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater
9/2 - Austin, TX @ Austin360 Amphitheater
9/4 - Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
9/5 - Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion
Guitarist Jennifer Batten (Jeff Beck, Michael Jackson) announces a series of U.S. dates for seminars this summer, which will teach musicians how to stay mentally centered and how to maintain creativity in a technology-driven world.
Keeping the constantly evolving nature of the music business in mind, Batten, along with co-host Jesse Solomon (founder of music school Academy of Guitar), will help harness audience members' inner focus.
Batten will provide insights from her 30-year career, including do’s and don’ts, lessons learned, and will give special attention to energizing the mind and body to their utmost potential. Each event concludes with giveaways and a mini concert by Batten and Solomon.
”Musicians are unaware of some of the newest powerful tools available to them to help skyrocket their progress as creative beings. I'm excited and eager to help attendees focus and energize, and to share knowledge on practices that have worked extremely well for me," said Batten.
This three-and-a-half-hour-long creative seminar was cultivated to enlighten the modern musician through Batten’s real-world stories, and will offer multimedia demos on the tools and information available to help support a creative life; how to create and boost their brand; and how to make the law of attraction work for them. Audience members will be educated on the latest science of how the brain works to help magnetize the elements of their dreams.
In this seminar, Batten will teach attendees:
• How their brain works and ways to optimally energize the mind and body
• New tools to help unlock creativity and optimize practice habits
• Practical information about domestic and foreign touring
• How to enhance their abilities to focus and learn time management skills with proven techniques
• Supportive techniques in building self-confidence and creating unstoppable motivation
• How to dig into the newest models of building a personal brand and enhanced income
• How to conquer powerful, intuitive, and life-enhancing free or cheap software
Beginning July 12, Batten will tour 18 locations throughout the United States, including many Sam Ash store locations:
7-12 - Seattle, WA - R.M.I.
7-13 - Portland, OR - Apple Music
7-14 - Eugene, OR - McKenzie River Music
7-17 - Los Altos Hills, CA - TBA
7-19 - Canoga Park, CA - Sam Ash
7-24 - Las Vegas, NV - Sam Ash
8-1 - Dallas, TX - Sam Ash
8-2 - Austin, TX - Mac’s Seminars
8-4 - San Antonio, TX - Sam Ash
8-16 - Margate, FL - Sam Ash
8-20 - Nashville, TN - Sam Ash
8-22 - Charlotte, N.C. - Sam Ash
8-23 - Raleigh, N.C. - Sam Ash
8-27 - King of Prussia, PA - Sam Ash
8-29 - Carle Place, NY - Sam Ash
8-30 - New Haven, CT - Sam Ash
9-5 - Indianapolis, IN - Sam Ash
9-6 - Lombard, IL - Sam Ash
Tickets for this life-altering experience are only $49 and space is limited. For more information and to sign up, visit www.jenniferbatten.com.
For those who might not be familiar with intervals, we’ll start by reviewing the core concept.
The term sounds kind of advanced, but an “interval” simply refers to the distance between two notes, while a harmonic interval is when you play two notes at the same time.
So to bring the simplicity home, a power chord is a harmonic interval, and most of us are pretty comfortable with power chords.
So when you’re playing a “perfect 5th power chord,” you’ll typically have two major components:
01. The root note (typically the lowest note)
02. The consonant interval.
For a power chord that has a root note on the sixth string, you can make it a perfect fifth by simply playing the fifth string two frets up. For example, a G5 power chord would look like this:
If you’ve been playing guitar (particularly electric guitar) for any length of time, you’ll know this chord is incredibly common and is even exclusively used in many songs.
So why does this matter?
Perfect fifths make it incredibly easy to find the consonant interval, which can be simply thought of as two notes that resolve or “sound good together” and don’t leave you wanting. The term “staple” is also used to describe a consonant chord or interval.
Additionally, perfect fifths make it easy for you to find octaves, assuming you’re playing your chord on either the fifth or sixth string.
Playing a power chord on the fourth or third string changes things a bit because of the tuning of the second string to B, which means you have to reach further for one of your consonant notes; three frets up instead of two. This is just something to keep in mind.
For this lesson, we’re just dealing with power chords played on the sixth and fifth strings.
So let’s recap — perfect fifth power chords give us easy access to:
01. A consonant note in an interval
02. The octave of our root note.
It pays to understand this concept whenever you want to start figuring out how to improvise because it gives you a starting point and provides some simple structural components to start out with.
You know now that any power chord with a root note on the sixth or fifth string will have a workable or “stable” note two frets and one string up. Additionally, you’ll have an octave of that note two frets and two strings up.
So, going with the G5 power chord:
Root Note on the Sixth String and Third Fret
• Consonant Note: 5th String and Fifth Fret
• Octave Note: 4th String and Fifth Fret
This gives you a bit of a skeleton to build your improvising off of, so the best way to get that anchored in your mind is to go through a few basic exercises that utilize the perfect fifth at several different spots on the fretboard:
Exercise 1: Perfect Fifths Power Chords (Sixth String Root)
Exercise 2: Dyad Chords (Fifth String)
Exercise 3: Perfect Fifths Power Chords (Fifth String Root)
Exercise 4: Combination
Exercise 5: Combination
Hearing the Consonant Notes and Octaves
Once you understand the concept, the challenge is to start to be able to hear the consonant and octave notes that correspond to your root note. As you develop familiarity with that system, your instincts as a guitar player will start to improve, and your ear will be able to pick up on more subtleties of the instrument.
You’ll know what a consonant and octave note sound like, even if you might not be thinking in those terms as it’s happening.
So in a sense, it’s really more about your ear than it is about what you see on a piece of paper. If you can hear what’s going on in these patterns and replicate it in other musical situations, then you’ve built a crucial foundational tool to help you become better at improvising and playing by ear.
Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation is excited to announce the lineup for the 2015 Make Music NY Mass Appeal: Guitars event, taking place in Union Square Park on Sunday, June 21, 2015, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The event is free of charge and open to players of all levels.
Hosted by Acoustic Nation and the New York City Guitar School, and sponsored by Martin Guitars, Ernie Ball Strings and Tech 21, Mass Appeal: Guitars kicks off at 4:00 p.m. with check-in and run-throughs of the play-along songs.
Guests will receive free Ernie Ball guitar strings while supplies last, and can also sign up for a chance to win a Martin LXM Little Martin guitar, which will be given away at the end of the event. The winner must be present.
The first featured performance begins at 4:45 p.m. with a special performance by one-man act, J. R., also known as The Bones of J.R. Jones. It’s through his live performances that The Bones of J.R. Jones has established himself as a spellbinding musical force, with J.R. playing several instruments – guitar, banjo, bass drum, high-hat – all at once, all by himself. Over several years performing, the traveling troubadour has refined his craft with the release of Dark Was The Yearling, his first, full-length effort. For more information, visit www.thebonesofjrjones.com.
The play-along begins at 5:30 p.m. with songs including Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” and many others. The songs will be led by players such as Acoustic Nation editor Laura B. Whitmore; NYC singer/songwriter Dorit, New York City singer-songwriters Craig Kierce and Melinda May; Brooklyn bands The Good Good and Bandits on the Run; New York City Guitar School instructors and students; and more.
The final featured performance will start at 6:00 p.m., featuring fiery blues-rock artist Danielia Cotton of Hopewell, N.J. Cotton’s natural gift of raw, searing vocal chops combined with a deep, buttery tone, draws from listening to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and grooving to Mavis Staples, Etta James, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Shortly after entering junior high school, Cotton received her first guitar from her mother and began writing songs hours at a time, an experience she said saved her. Cotton's latest release, The Real Book, was produced by Kevin Salem (Mercury Rev, Bad Brains, Lenka, Lisa Loeb). Learn more at www.danieliacotton.com.
The event will conclude with the announcement of giveaway winners and an electrifying final play-along of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” led by Cotton.
Attendees must bring their own guitar. To register for the event, and for more information, visit www.meetup.com/mass-appeal-guitars/events/222648141/.
Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation is also supporting Mass Appeal: Guitars events in other cities on June 21, 2015, with giveaways from Martin Guitar and Ernie Ball, songbooks and more:
Almost three decades ago, Guitar World writer Steven Rosen brought together Les Paul and Eddie Van Halen for a quick chat. It would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two great guitar innovators.
In the summer of 1986, Guitar Center opened a mammoth music store on Sunset Boulevard in the center of Hollywood. Eddie Van Halen and Les Paul were being honored along with several other musical giants, including Stevie Wonder and amp builder Jim Marshall, as part of the store’s opening celebration.
It seemed natural to take the opportunity to put Ed and Les together in the same room to talk about what they knew best—playing the guitar. The following is an excerpt from the story that originally appeared in the November 1986 edition of Guitar World.
EDDIE VAN HALEN When Leo Fender was doing his thing and you were doing yours, was there ever any competition?
LES PAUL No, not at all.
VAN HALEN Did you ever collaborate or talk about your ideas?
PAUL Absolutely. Leo Fender would come over, and so would his engineers. They saw the Log and some of the other guitars I had built. They saw it all happening. There was never any friction. It was just the opposite.
Here’s the story of how Leo really helped me: When I developed my first solid-body guitar in 1941, I took it to Gibson and they dismissed it. They called it that “broomstick with the pickups on it.” From 1941 to 1951, I couldn’t convince Gibson to do a damn thing about putting out a Les Paul guitar. Finally, Leo decided to come out with the Fender solid-body line, and immediately Gibson said, “Find the character with the broomstick with the pickups on it!”
And so they asked me to design a guitar. I thank Leo for coming out with his Broadcaster, because it woke Gibson up. Gibson was asleep and Fender was not asleep. That’s the way it goes. Fender was the first to market, but I was way, way out front.
VAN HALEN It’s kind of like the car business—Toyota woke up GM.
PAUL Sure. Sometimes you gotta wake somebody up, and sometimes I need some help from my friends. And I consider Leo Fender a very dear friend. To me, I am a Gibson man, but that doesn’t make any difference, because I also know exactly what Fender is all about.
VAN HALEN With my guitars, I guess I’m trying to bring together what you and Leo have done. There are things I’ve always liked about Gibsons and things I’ve always liked about Fenders, but neither one did everything that I wanted, so I’ve created a combination of the two. My guitar is essentially a Strat body with Gibson humbucking pickups.
PAUL I can’t always get what I want out of a standard Gibson guitar either. There are so many times that I’ll go into Gibson battling to win a point and come out with a compromise. The world is a compromise and so this is what you have to do. It can cost millions of dollars to retool and move something a quarter of an inch. I understand that some of my ideas would cost a fortune.
Another thing that comes into the picture is the preoccupation with how something looks. I’ve had executives veto an improvement because their wives didn’t like the way it looked. They’re not thinking about the sound.
VAN HALEN I’ve had that problem with companies I’ve worked with. I’ve had difficulty getting something the way I wanted it, because they claimed that other people want it a different way.
PAUL Which may be right and may not be right.
VAN HALEN Yeah, yeah, but if they want my opinion, then I’m giving it to them. I’ve had to say, “I don’t want my name on it if it ain’t the way I want it.”
PAUL I had a case where they put out a guitar without my blessings and I tried to make ’em stop! The funny thing is they didn’t stop it, and it turned out to be their number-one seller. [laughs] So you can be wrong. Gibson put out an SG, and it wasn’t with my blessings at all. They put the pickup in the wrong place, they made the body too thin, and there were a lot of other things I didn’t like.
So I said, “Clean it up a little bit, will ya, before you put my name on it.” So they took my name off of it and continued to make it, and it’s their best-sellling solid-body guitar to date. Sure, it’s a cheap guitar and it doesn’t sound as good as the others, but it’s a different thing. And it turned out I shouldn’t have said what I said.
VAN HALEN When you design guitars, do you design them for sound or cosmetics?
PAUL Sound. But don’t get me wrong, design is important.
VAN HALEN It’s got to look cool, but it better sound good.
PAUL Exactly. It’s nice to have both elements. I wanted the Les Paul to look good. That’s why we put that finish on it and made it with a [sculpted] top, so you could have that clean, violin look to the guitar. It makes it look like a Stradivarius, and you associate it that way, too.
VAN HALEN When you pick up a guitar, which guitar do you pick up?
PAUL I like the feel of my 1975 Deluxe the best. It’s actually a reject.
VAN HALEN Those are the ones I love. Got any extras around? I’m serious.
PAUL Yeah, sure.
VAN HALEN I’m serious. If it’s a reject and you like it, I know I’ll like it.
PAUL Well, not necessarily, because everybody has their own feel.
VAN HALEN I can guarantee you…
PAUL Everybody has a certain thing in their head of what they want to do and how to do it and their own technique. Everything about them calls for certain requirements.
VAN HALEN I’m getting the feeling from you that you go for the same goddamned fucking thing that I go for. It’s not the appearance of the goddamned thing. I don’t care if it’s a flametop or whatever. It’s the feeling of it and the way it sounds.
NOTE: The November 1986 issue of Guitar World featured ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on the cover. The photo above shows a portion of our March 1983 cover. To see a photo gallery of every Guitar World cover from 1980 to 1986, head here.
Apogee Electronics has announced that its Duet, Quartet and Ensemble audio interfaces for Mac now include Waves plugin bundles.
Customers who purchase a new Apogee Duet for $649 from an authorized dealer on or after June 8 can register their product and receive a license for the Waves Silver plugin bundle.
Similarly, customers who buy Apogee Quartet for $1,495 or Ensemble Thunderbolt for $2,595 can receive a license for the Waves Gold plugin bundle.
Waves Silver bundle features 16 audio plugins for reverb, compression, equalization and more. Waves Gold includes 35 plugins that will help bring mastering power into any home studio. Waves plugins are CPU efficient, allowing you to harness the power of your Mac to run more plugins at lower buffer sizes while maintaining low latency monitoring through Apogee’s audio interfaces.
“We are very excited to partner with Waves,” said Betty Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Apogee. “Waves plugins together with Apogee Duet, Quartet and Ensemble deliver incredible value to anyone building or expanding their studio.”
For more information, visit apogeedigital.com.
It would have been easy for memories of Shawn Lane to fade away after his 2003 death.
He recorded only two solo albums. His best-distributed work, 1992’s Power of Ten, barely captured his heart and soul and didn’t make a ripple in the day’s shred-saturated market.
He spent years playing small clubs in his hometown of Memphis. He played only a handful of studio sessions for Johnny Cash, the Marshall Tucker Band’s Toy Caldwell and Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings’ The Highwaymen.
But in Lane’s last decade of life, he and Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg created an amazing body of mystical, mythical, improvisatory music. The magic they wove, often accompanied by master Indian musicians, garnered more notice in Europe than in the U.S., but it has continued to find audiences around the world.
More than a decade after his death, Lane is more popular than ever, with a steadily growing legion of admirers. Many of them are speed-obsessed guitarists who watch videos with slack-jawed awe.
Lane’s playing—his seemingly effortless virtuosity—is perfect for the YouTube age. When he was still a teenager, Lane’s playing was being dissected on bootleg cassettes by emerging guitar stars like Paul Gilbert. Even his most technical work was undergirded by soul and his work with Hellborg flows with grace and ease.
Hellborg now worries if Lane’s newfound fans are missing the essence of his late partner.
“A church of Shawn Lane is developing and people talk a lot of nonsense,” says Hellborg on the phone from his home in Venice, Italy. “There’s a lot of myth-making and people picking up on all the wrong things. There is a lot of fretboard pornography—a focus on how fast Shawn could play. Of course he did and it was fantastic but what made it fantastic is what he played.”
“Shawn’s technique was incredible, but he had this remarkable soul underlying everything,” says Jimmy Herring, guitarist for Widespread Panic and Col. Bruce Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit, with whom Lane often played. “If you could take all the technique away, you would still have this amazing, vulnerable person tapping into how he’s feeling emotionally and expressing it through his instrument. That’s a very rare thing.”
Hellborg and Herring are both master musicians themselves, and they talk about Lane with a childlike awe. Hellborg is driven by a fierce passion to tell the world about his collaborator, to see a fuller picture painted of this singular musical mind.
“He was a huge fan of musics from all corners of the world and was open to influences from the most obscure sources: avant garde composers, Indian music, Charlie Parker, Chinese tribal folk music,” says Hellborg. “He also had a tremendous interest and knowledge in art and film.”
Shawn Lane was a remarkably gifted musical talent who spent a lifetime seeking to harness his gift and find its truest, most pure musical expression. Even as life served him a series of setbacks, he seemed to be coming into his own as an expressive musician when he died of pulmonary complications on September 26, 2003, at the age of 40.
Lane, a native of Memphis, emerged as a teen guitar prodigy, joining a re-formed Black Oak Arkansas when he was 15 in 1978. He toured with the Southern boogie boys off and on for four years. Herring remembers first hearing these performances on tapes that were passed around Los Angeles’ Musician’s Institute like holy grails.
“I was in school with Paul Gilbert, who was just fanatical about Shawn,” recalls Herring. “A lot of guys looked at scales as three notes per string and if you had big hands, that became really easy; Paul had that in a headlock. Shawn was doing something different, unique and true to himself—and this was when he was 15, playing in Black Oak Arkansas! It was like, What planet is this guy from?”
Lane was self-educated, a voracious reader who became an expert in Indian music, cinema, piano playing and a wide range of other topics. Barry Bays, a longtime friend and musical collaborator of Lane’s, says that when he first met the guitarist in 1988, he was astounded on a trip to the Memphis library.
“He filled a cart and checked out 30 to 40 books,” says Bays. “The limit was five or six, but they would let him take whatever he wanted because they had known him since he was five. He would read five or 10 books at a time and have absolute recall on everything. He had an extraordinary mind.”
Bays says that he would fill notebooks at Lane’s house, taking notes of their conversations—“just like a college lecture.” Lane would discuss some of his favorite musicians, often Miles Davis or Frank Zappa, listing hundreds of recordings in chronological order and including all contributing musicians. Many of Lane’s friends have similar tales.
Col. Bruce Hampton, leader of the Aquarium Rescue Unit and something of a Southern Frank Zappa, says that on several visits to Lane’s house, he viewed “the greatest movies I had ever seen and never heard of.” Dickinson recalls countless hours spent watching obscure musical clips screened on a giant entertainment system.
“His VHS musical finds were mind blowing—and so were the big screen TV and sound system,” says North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson, a longtime friend and former student of Lane’s. “And Shawn knew everything about it all. He would be watching a movie, singing the score, rolling a joint, conducting the score and reciting the dialogue all at the same time.”
Dickinson was 16 when he met Lane. His father, the late producer Jim Dickinson, had used Lane on some sessions and wanted his son to learn from him. As soon as Dickinson got his driver’s license, he began driving up from his Mississippi home.
“I would pay him $50 and we’d play for an hour or two, then just hang out all day,” Dickinson recalls. “He turned me onto jazz greats like Art Tatum, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane; classical composers; authors—most significantly, Noam Chomsky; film scores; and Nusret Fateh Ali Khan, the great Pakistani singer. The education I received from him was incredible.
"And Shawn would always preach about Jimi Hendrix’s soulfulness, because it was fashionable in the shred world to be down on Hendrix. Shawn would play ‘Red House’ so intensely, as an example of how technically difficult Jimi’s playing was.”
But, Dickinson is quick to add, while his lessons from Lane almost always turned into extended hang sessions, they always started with very meaningful guitar sessions.
“The first thing he told me was, ‘If something is difficult, find an easier way to do it. Don't get hung up; use any means necessary to express yourself,’” says Dickisnon.
“He used the finger grouping of index, ring and pinkie as an example. He never used that combination, preferring the strength of using index, middle and pinkie stretching and utilizing the power of his first and middle fingers, à la Django and Hendrix.
"Shawn would play three notes per string in groups of two or three strings at a time using creative variations of string grouping patterns. He loved playing descending melodies while ascending up the strings, or visa versa in every inconceivable variation.
“When explaining his ‘sheets-of-sound’ speed style Shawn broke it down to the concept of one thought triggering three notes, leading to one thought triggering six or nine notes, 36 notes, 64 notes, etc.
Shawn would have one impulse and play an endless number of notes with bebop-esque syncopations and accents popping through. One-string diminished and augmented arpeggios [three notes per string] sounded amazing when he would move them around the fretboard.
He would play a pattern up and down the neck. He broke it all down to large groups that triggered each other. He would think in combinations not notes and fly around with these patterns, using both a short and long delay creating sheets of sound. Shawn would be hammering on and pulling off while using hybrid picking, plucking out accents among the flurry with his middle finger.”
Dickinson met Lane while the guitarist was recording Powers of Ten, his 1992 solo debut. He had written most of the music on piano at his home, where he also cut the entire album, playing every instrument. Lane used the advance from the label to outfit his home with recording gear, including an early Mac and buy himself that sweet TV and entertainment center.
“He was a musician first, then a guitarist,” says Souvik Dutta, a friend of Lane’s who eventually distributed much of his music through his Abstract Logix label. “Shawn was an incredible pianist and a heck of a drummer. His endless pursuit and quest of knowledge was amazing.”
Hampton was also astounded when Lane sat down and played piano for him at his house. “It was like Bach Tatum,” he says. “His piano playing was every bit as original, innovative and skilled as his guitar playing.”
Bays says that Lane never really touched a guitar or bass if he wasn’t recording or gigging, but he constantly played drums and piano. Bays was with Lane when he bought the computers and home recording equipment he recorded Powers of Ten on.
“Shawn had never used a computer before, and when the Mac came in, we just hooked everything up and went out,” Bays says. “We came back at 10:00, he started working on the computer when he got home, and by five or six the next morning, he had learned the software and recorded a song for Powers of Ten.”
Bays says that Lane often composed songs in his head, away from an instrument. “We’d be out and he’d say, ‘I have an idea’ and then go home and sit down and work 18 or 20 hours until a song was done. Watching him work was fascinating. Sometimes he would also get ideas and sit down on the grand piano in the middle of the Oak Court Mall and start working out incredible ideas. Of course, crowds would start gathering with this stunned look on their faces.”
Back in Memphis after touring behind Powers of Ten, Lane needed a band and hooked up with Dickinson. His former student was playing around town with DDT, featuring his brother Cody on drums and bassist Paul Taylor. They mostly played small local clubs in Memphis, putting on powerful performances for sometimes tiny audiences.
“I saw Shawn play mind-blowing shows with that outfit,” says Herring. “He’d have a keyboard onstage and walk over to it, with the guitar still around his neck, and play incredible lines that sounded exactly like his guitar phrasing, while scat singing along in an Indian style.”
In 1993, Lane met Hellborg, who would become his musical partner and collaborator for the rest of his life.
“In the late Eighties, I was working with Anders and Jens Johansson, who were the drummer and keyboardist for Yngwie Malmsteen, and they told me they had met the most incredible guitar player while doing laundry in Memphis,” Hellborg recalls. “The laundromat was next to a music store so they walked in to kill time and were playing the UK song ‘Presto Vivace and Reprise,’ and this young guy comes over with his guitar and asks if he can jam, then starts playing this very complicated Allan Holdsworth song note-for-note. Then he played some Zappa. I needed to meet this guy, but it took several years.”
Bays recalls Lane’s excitement when he got a call from Hellborg, whose work with John McLaughlin he greatly admired, and his horror when he accidentally deleted a voicemail message and had to wait for the bassist to call again. They finally collaborated in 1993 on Abstract Logic, recorded with Kofi Baker on drums. Wanting a different drummer for some dates, Lane said he knew just the guy: Jeff Sipe from Hampton and Herring’s Aquarium Rescue Unit. When Hellborg, Lane and Sipe started playing together, they began with the bassist’s radical concept: pure improvisation, no compositions.
“He was a bit scared at first, but felt liberated by the fact that it was my group,” Hellborg says. “If it failed, it would be on me. He didn’t have to be the frontman or have any responsibility except playing. I gave him the freedom to do anything, but not try to play in a preconceived way to satisfy expectations of virtuosic brilliance. I said, ‘Just focus on the music and be free.’ ”
Lane’s playing blossomed. Hellborg, Lane and Sipe recorded four albums and performed many concerts from 1995–97. Already deeply interested in Indian and Pakistani classical music, Lane became obsessed with it, with a nudge from Hellborg.
“Shawn became incredibly well versed and expert in Indian music,” says Dutta. “And he did it on his own. In the Seventies John McLaughlin became fascinated with Indian music and traveled to India and studied with Ravi Shankar. Shawn sat in his house in Memphis and bought cassettes and listened voraciously and digested it all.”
“He was such a consumer of so much different music,” says Hellborg. “He could play just about anybody you could think of, from Allan Holdsworth to John McLaughlin to Billy Gibbons. They all had an influence on his playing, but he was his own unique voice.”
In 1998, the remarkable Indian percussionist V. Selvaganesh replaced Sipe and as the primary third musician in the Hellborg/Lane trio. The three often collaborated with Selvaganesh's brothers V. Umashankar and V.
Umamahesh as well as other Indian musicians. Lane’s playing continued to evolve and grow as his immersion in Indian classical music grew ever deeper.
“He was playing notes that aren’t notes, which is the sign of a truly great musician,” says Herring. “It was about music and emotion, not notes or technique. You’re just talking about somebody who’s touched by the hand of God. You can’t even fathom it, or ask why or how and I gave up trying. You just have to admire the brilliance. It’s like watching Michael Jordan play basketball—someone who had a natural gift and then dedicated their life to nurturing it.”
“What made Shawn’s speed special was his heart, soul and intellect,” says Dickinson. “It was emotionally moving to witness a virtuosic experience. The last time I saw Shawn he picked up my Tele, turned up my Deluxe and played a 10-minute improv using only his middle finger to fret the guitar, sliding around like Derek Trucks! Afterward, he laughed and said he rarely played guitar but had enjoyed that moment. This helped teach me to cherish every time you play the guitar and to give it your all every time. Play every note like it's your last because one of them will be. I never try to play speed guitar but I try to play from my heart in the moment; this is what I learned from Shawn in the end.”
Lane suffered from psoriatic arthritis, which grew more debilitating. He gained weight, oddly started smoking despite having breathing problems and a previous aversion to smoke and smokers, and struggled with addictions. None of it impeded his progress as a musician.
“There was no one alive who sounded like him and he just kept going up,” says Herring. “Some people say you can’t play really deeply until you’ve suffered. I don’t put much stock in that but Shawn was getting better and I know he was suffering, too. I think he had tapped into the rare ability to be a pure conduit from emotions to sounds. He could do the impossible and play his insides.”
Lane died of lung failure in a Memphis hospital on September 26, 2003, at the age of 40.
“People have taken liberties to discuss Shawn’s medical conditions which I believe should remain a private matter,” says Hellborg. “Yes, he passed on early and that is a tragedy, but what matters now is his contribution to music and guitar playing. He was a fine dude and he continues to touch people with his playing more than 10 years later.”
Photo: William Hames
We just had to post this beautiful acoustic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve shared the talents of masterful player Kelly Vallaeu. In fact, here he is offering his take on Metallica’s “Fade to Black.”
Today, however, is all about The Floyd. "Hey You" appears on the band’s 1979 album, The Wall, and kicks off the second disc of this double album.
The sound is killer, and we love the multi-cam effect Vallaeu used to create this video.
Vallaeu also offers a lesson and tab for his rendition, which you can check out at kellyvalleau.com.
For now, enjoy this gorgeous cover, and let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Facebook!
Whether you're a professional guitarist or a hobbyist, finding time to practice can be difficult.
We all have busy lives and responsibilities that distract us from our playing. For this reason, I've developed a quick, intensive guitar "workout" that can be completed in 30 minutes. You can use this by itself as a quick practice when time is limited or incorporate it into a longer practice session. Either way, this workout will help develop your playing in a number of important areas.
The workout involves playing a diatonic scale with specific sequences chosen to improve important areas of your playing. You will improve your knowledge/theory of the scale across the whole fretboard and also improve the speed/accuracy of your picking technique. For this workout, you are going to need a metronome.
For my examples, I am using the A minor scale. You will play each of these sequences to a metronome; when completed, you will increase the tempo and repeat all of the sequences again. You want to begin at a slow tempo, around 80 bpm, and after completion increase by 10 bpm (90, 100, 110, 120, etc.).
The sequences are of varying difficulty, and as soon as one becomes too difficult, you should drop that sequence and continue with the rest. You should make a note of the highest tempo reached for each sequence so you can chart your progress over time. I have included target bpm's for each sequence. If you start at 80 bpm and take each sequence to its target, you should complete the workout in around 30 minutes. Of course, if you are an advanced player, you might be able take each sequence much higher than the target tempos.
For each sequence, I've given you the tab and an audio example playing the sequence at 80 bpm and then at the target bpm.
Linear Sequences (Target: 160 bpm)
These sequences focus on playing the diatonic scale as "four-notes per sting" instead of the usual "three-notes per string." The idea is to use all four fingers when fretting the scale, as highlighted in the first sequence.
Interval Sequences (Target 120 bpm)
These focus on playing the diatonic scale in intervals across three octaves. For this workout, we are using 3rd's, 4th's and 5th's. Note: Advanced players also will be able to play the scale in 6th's and 7th's.
Arpeggio Sequences (Target 120 bpm)
You've probably seen the previous sequences before, but here's something I came up with that's fairly unique. These sequences involve playing the scale across two octaves as arpeggios. The first sequence is played as triad arpeggios (I-III-V). The second sequence is played as 7th arpeggios (I-III-V-VII).
These sequences could be applied to any diatonic scale in any key. After mastering A minor, try experimenting with different scale. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment. Good luck!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.
Ever wondered how much easier life would be without the headaches that sometimes spring from guitar cables?
That thought has certainly crossed the mind of John Crawford.
To address the issue, he has introduced a patent-pending piece of gear called Jack, a Wi-Fi device that replaces your guitar cable with a “studio-quality 24-bit connection," according to Crawford. Unlike existing wireless devices, it doesn’t use Bluetooth or radio technology, which are slow and cause a loss in fidelity.
Ingenious Audio, Crawford’s small company, is Scotland-based and has funded Jack through a Kickstarter campaign. The company plans to sells the devices packaged as pairs—one for your guitar, one for your amp—and is looking at creating strap-mounted versions.
Jack is designed to fit all guitars, including those with recessed jacks. The body articulates and can be positioned so that it doesn’t touch your guitar.
Check out a video demo of the product below.
For more information, visit wifi-guitar.com.
Led Zeppelin are still in the process of opening their vaults and issuing previously unheard material.
For their third and final wave of reissues, the band will release deluxe versions of 1976's Presence, 1979's In Through the Out Door and 1982's Coda (which, itself, was a collection of vintage, previously unreleased Led Zep material).
Today you can check out "Sugar Mama," a bonus track on the new version of Coda.
The group recorded the track in October 1968 at London's Olympic Studios with the intention of including it on their 1969 debut, Led Zeppelin.
Although it has been available on bootlegs for years, it's finally getting its day in the sun July 31, when the deluxe edition of Coda is released.
Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook!
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents an exclusive playthrough video of "Floorboards" by Oceans Ate Alaska.
The song is from the band's debut album, Lost Isles, which was released February 24 via Fearless Records. You can order the album right here.
Hailing from Birmingham, U.K., Oceans Ate Alaska features James Harrison (vocals), James Kennedy (guitar), Adam Zytkiewicz (guitar), Mike Stanton (bass) and Chris Turner (drums). The band offers a progressive strain of experimental modern metalcore that has gotten them noticed as one of metal's most exciting and fresh young names.
For more about Oceans Ate Alaska, follow them on Facebook.
A Little Thunder pickups are shipping now.
You might remember GuitarWorld.com's recent coverage of these new pickups, which were designed by guitarist Andy Alt. The pickups allow guitarists to play guitar and bass simultaneously.
The addition of the bass feature requires no physical modifications to the guitar: no drilling, routing or adding strings. Nor will guitarists need to replace 9-volt batteries or use MIDI. They just need to remove their existing humbucker, and—with about five minutes of installation time—they'll have the ability to push a button to activate A Little Thunder.
"As timing would have it, today is Les Paul's 100th birthday," Alt says. "We're sending our gratitude for his many contributions to the world of guitar."
Each shipment includes: A Little Thunder, "Quick Start" installation instructions, user guide, smart jack, USB cable, U.S. and metric size pickup ring adjustment screws and support info. The shipping schedule also will be posted this week.
In the meantime, Alt recommends this cable—the Hosa Cable STP203 TRS—for splitting the guitar and bass signals to different amps.
"Thank you for your support and patience," Alt adds. "The end result is very exciting to us; now it's the world's turn to open the jungle book. You may never play guitar the same again."
For more about A Little Thunder, visit alittlethunder.com.
Although we lost the legendary B.B. King just a few weeks ago, his legacy as a guitar player will live forever.
Through videos like this one—an incendiary, up-close-and-personal video of King performing "Blues Boys Tune" at the 1993 Montreux Jazz Festival—we can still marvel at his incredible ability as a player.
This video is unique in that it, on numerous occasions, shows King's fingering and technique up close; it's a fascinating lesson for any blues guitarist.
Check it out below.
I know, I know. Die-hard Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan fans—myself included—have already seen this video 43.677777 times.
However, that doesn't make it any less appealing. And, since it wound up in my crowded inbox this morning, I thought I'd share it with the masses!
The clip, which was shot aboard the S.S. Presidente in New Orleans in February 1987, shows Stevie Ray and his big brother, then-Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie, playing a double-neck guitar—at the same time.
They start with an upbeat I-IV-V tune along the lines of Stevie Ray's "Rude Mood" before shifting into "Pipeline," the Chantays' 1962 surf-rock classic, at the 3:16 mark. They also switch necks along the way!
The guitar, which was built by Robin Guitars of Houston, had two maple necks, each with a different-scale length and a pointy "drooped"-style reversed headstock with locking machine heads. It also had (or has, assuming it's still around) Rio Grande single-coil pickups.
This guitar was dubbed the "Family Guitar," which foreshadowed the title of the Vaughan Brothers' only album as a bona-fide duo, 1990's Family Style.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents an exclusive playthrough video of "L'exorde" by Beyond Creation.
The song is from the band's second album, Earthborn Evolution, which was released October 28, 2014, via Seasons of Mist. You can order the album right here.
Hailing from Montréal, this quintet is comprised of Simon Girard (vocals/guitar), Kevin Chartré (guitars),
Hugo Doyon-Karout (bass) and Philippe Boucher (drums). The band blends death-metal chops with progressive structures, constantly looking to blaze a new trail for death metal.
For more about Beyond Creation, follow them on Facebook.
In this new video, guitarist Steve Lukather walks you through his signature Luke model electric guitar from Ernie Ball Music Man.
For more about this guitar, check out the specs below and visit its page on music-man.com.
Size: 12-3/16" wide, 1-3/4" thick, 36-7/16" long (31.0 cm wide, 4.5 cm thick, 92.6 cm long)
Weight: 7 lbs, 7 oz (3.37 kg) - varies slightly
Body Wood: Alder
Body Finish: High gloss polyester
Bridge: Standard - Music Man floating vintage tremolo of chrome plated, hardened steel with bent steel saddles; Optional - Piezo bridge with solid steel saddles
Scale Length: 25-1/2" (64.8 cm)
Neck Radius: 12" (30.5 cm)
Headstock Size: Only 5-7/8" (14.9 cm) long
Frets: 22 - Low profile, wide
Neck Width: 1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut, 2-3/16" (55.6 mm) at last fret
Neck Wood: Select maple neck
Neck Finish: Gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend
Neck Colors: Standard - Natural; Optional - Matching painted headstock
Tuning Machines: Schaller M6-IND locking
Truss Rod: Adjustable - no component or string removal
Neck Attachment: 5 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting; Sculpted neck joint allows smooth access to higher frets
Electronic Shielding: Graphite acrylic resin coated body cavity and aluminum lined control cover
Controls: 25kohm volume and tone - .10µF tone capacitor
Switching: 5-way lever pickup selector; Piezo volume (when applicable)
Pickups: HSS - 1 Active EMG model 85 humbucking; 2 Active EMG SLV custom single coil
Strings: 9p-11p-16p-24w-32w-42w (RPS 9 Slinkys #2239)
Blues guitarist and noted instructor Andy Aledort pays tribute to the late, great B.B. King in the all-new August 2015 issue of Guitar World.
Below, he breaks down the legendary guitarist's 10 greatest guitar moments.
Be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or on Facebook!
10. “Why I Sing the Blues”
B.B. King & Friends—A Blues Session
In 1987, B.B. assembled the top blues, R&B and rock musicians of the day for a Showtime television special that was released soon after on VHS and later reissued on DVD under various titles.
Along with consistently powerful playing and singing from B.B. on many of his classic songs such as “The Thrill Is Gone” and “Let the Good Times Roll,” the event featured inspired performances by luminaries such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Etta James and Gladys Knight, along with Phil Collins, Chaka Chan and Billy Ocean.
On this track, we get to see the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration of Eric, Stevie, Albert, Paul and B.B. trading licks and tearing it up, pushing each other to play their absolute best. Upon its release, this show was dedicated to Paul Butterfield, founder of the hugely influential Paul Butterfield Blues Band, who sadly passed away on May 4, 1987.
9. “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now”
My Kind of Blues
As the opening track on B.B.’s sixth studio album, 1961’s My Kind of Blues, B.B. gets things moving with a free-time chorus of brilliant unaccompanied guitar during which he reveals his incorporation of the jazz influence of Lonnie Johnson and Johnny Moore, the brother of Nat King Cole guitarist Oscar Moore, combined with his own distinct approach to single-string soloing that is purely his own.
After another half chorus of guitar and voice, the band drops in with a slow, hard-swinging feel over which he effortlessly floats expertly executed and deeply emotional solo blues guitar lines.
8. “Everyday I Have the Blues”
B.B. King and Bobby Bland: Together Again…Live
Blues titans B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland, touring compatriots throughout the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, joined forces to release the stellar set Together for the First Time…Live in 1974.
As a genre, blues music was experiencing the beginnings of a long decline at the time, but strong releases such as this, and its equally powerful follow-up, 1976’s Bobby Bland and B.B. King Together Again…Live, helped to keep both artists relevant and successful.
“Everyday I Have the Blues” was an old blues nugget when Memphis Slim released his hugely successful version of the song in 1949, and a little later in 1955, B.B. King recorded his version, replete with a swinging horn arrangement built from B.B.’s guitar lines, and he soon viewed it as his theme song. This slightly slower hard-swinging version places Bland as the featured vocalist as B.B. is free to add his signature stinging guitar lines throughout. This is live big-band style blues at its finest.
7. “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman”
Spotlight on Lucille (and The Best of B.B. King Vol. 1)
Over B.B.’s long and illustrious career, there have been many compilation albums released on a variety of labels with recordings dating from virtually every era. With his move to ABC Records in 1962 and subsequent artistic success, many of his previous Modern/Kent recordings were released or re-released in a variety of “best of” type packages.
Today, these compilations offer listeners the chance to hear B.B. in many different settings, and Spotlight on Lucille compiles a dozen great instrumentals, many of which are played in a swinging jazz-like style, of which this is a perfect example.
“Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” originally recorded as a vocal tune in 1946 by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five, was a huge hit upon its release, reaching Number One on the R&B charts and Number 17 on the pop charts. When B.B. first cut it in 1960, he presented it as a barn-burning instrumental; his unaccompanied intro solo clearly illustrates his mastery as a player and dedication to the swing-style guitar of T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian. B.B. revisited the tune, complete with vocals, for his 1999 Let the Good Times Roll album.
6. “King’s Special”
Indianola Mississippi Seeds
In 1969, B.B. joined forces with rock record producer Bill Szymczyk (the Eagles, Joe Walsh, Elvin Bishop) and the fruits of their collaboration were immediate, first with the incendiary Live & Well, and followed by Completely Well, which included the hit track, “The Thrill Is Gone.”
This, their third collaboration and released in October 1970, pushed B.B.’s sound in more of a rock direction and placed him in the company of such notable musicians as Leon Russell, Joe Walsh, Carole King, Jerry Jemmott, Hugh McCrackin and Russ Kunkel (drummer for Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jackson Browne, among others). Indianola Mississippi Seeds is often included with Live at the Regal and Singin’ the Blues as among the top three B.B. King albums of all time.
“King’s Special” is a five-minute instrumental played with a very “early Seventies” mid-tempo funk/blues/rock feel, over which B.B. stretches out with great range stylistically and emotionally.
5. “Worry, Worry, Worry”
Live in Cook County Jail
Even as B.B.’s blossoming success with studio albums and singles was on the steady incline, he continued his grueling road schedule, performing an average of an incredible 200–250 dates a year (in 1956 alone, B.B. performed 342 one-nighters).
A great passion of his was to perform for prison inmates; by 1990 he had played at over 50 different prisons across the country. This set, recorded at Cook County Jail in Chicago in 1971, was his first such performance to be recorded and released, and he delivers an incredible set overflowing with deep emotional power, the centerpiece of which is the nearly 10-minute “Worry, Worry, Worry,” replete with chorus after chorus of some of the greatest soloing B.B. ever recorded.
B.B. told me in an interview that the experience of playing for prison inmates was, “Mixed, somewhat, because each time you play, you look at the faces of these people, and you know that’s it’s very possible that you could have been there yourself.”
A year after this recording, in 1972, B.B. founded FAIRR (The Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation) with legendary criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, designed to improve the quality of life of inmates everywhere.
4. “Three O’ Clock Blues”
Singin’ the Blues
Also known as “3 O’Clock Blues,” this song was written by blues guitarist/singer Lowell Fulson and upon its original release in 1948 kicked off a highly successful career for Fulson.
B.B. King covered the song for one of his earliest singles, released in 1951 by RPM Records, and it too became a smash hit, effectively serving to launch B.B.’s career as a new blues guitar/vocal star. Recorded on sub-standard equipment at a Memphis YMCA, the track nonetheless garnered nationwide acclaim on the strength of the interplay between B.B.’s impassioned vocals and beautifully emotive improvised guitar work.
As is his standard approach, B.B. sings a lyric of the song and then answers his vocal with a counter-balanced guitar lick, utilizing a technique soon recognized as “call and response.” B.B.’s version is played in the key of Bb, with a vocal and guitar style not unlike that of one of his greatest influences, T-Bone Walker, albeit with greater rhythmic freedom and his signature vibrato in evidence.
3. “Rock Me Baby”
The Best of B.B. King Vol. 2
Upon its release in 1964, B.B.’s original studio recording of “Rock Me Baby” was an immediate hit, earning recognition as his first Top 40 hit and in short order becoming a blues standard. It is one of the most covered blues songs of all time, reworked to brilliant effect by the Jimi Hendrix Experience for their timeless 1967 Monterey Pop Festival performance. Based originally on Lil’ Son Jackson’s 1950 single, “Rockin’ and Rollin’,” the song’s deep roots can be traced back to Curtis Jones (1939’s “Roll Me Mama”), Big Bill Broonzy (1940’s “Rocking Chair Blues”), Arthur Crudup (1944’s “Rock Me Mama”) and Muddy Waters (1956’s “Rock Me”).
Most likely recorded for Kent Records in the late Fifties/early Sixties, the track is earmarked by a taught, rock-solid piano-driven arrangement with brilliantly succinct solo lines added by B.B.; one listen and the influence of this track on the soloing styles of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix is obvious.
King later re-recorded the song with Clapton for his excellent 1997 Deuces Wild album, and other notable artists who effectively covered the song include Otis Redding, the Animals, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Deep Purple, the Rolling Stones, Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny Winter, Robin Trower and Jeff Beck.
2. “The Thrill Is Gone”
Originally released in 1951 and a Top 10 single for the song’s composer, Roy Hawkins, “The Thrill Is Gone” is widely regarded as B.B. King’s most recognized signature song.
When B.B. recorded his version in late 1969 for his Bluesway/ABC Records album Completely Well (a follow-up to the hugely successful Live & Well album), it represented a marked departure from his past recordings via the pop-style high production values and inclusion of a lush string arrangement.
An instant smash, the song shot to Number Three on the R&B chart and Number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, and in 1970 earned him a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. It remained a staple of B.B.’s live performances throughout his long career; stellar live versions of the song can be found on Live at Cook County Jail, Bobby Bland and B.B. King Together Again…Live and Live at San Quentin.
At five and a half minutes, the song is nearly twice as long as the typical singles of the day. As a performance, B.B.’s vocals and guitar lines are nothing less than absolute perfection. In the first two bars alone—roughly 10 seconds—B.B. says more musically and evokes more emotion than most guitarists do in a lifetime. His phrasing, vibrato, melodic sense and impassioned delivery combine to present a stunning musicality that is undeniable. For the last two minutes of the recording, B.B. offers a master class in blues soloing of the highest order.
1. “Sweet Little Angel”
Live at the Regal
For those unfamiliar with the work of B.B. King, Live at the Regal is a pure classic, an absolute gem and an essential cornerstone in the history of the blues.
Over the course of his nearly 70-year recording career that began with the 1949 single, “Miss Martha King” b/w “Got the Blues,” the Mississippi-born guitarist released over 80 studio albums and an incredible 150 singles. But the one album mentioned more often than any other in King’s canon is 1965’s Live at the Regal, recorded on November 21, 1964, at the Regal Theater in Chicago. This 35-minute powerhouse live set kicks off with possibly the greatest live medley ever recorded, as B.B. segues through the hard-driving, horn-infused opener, “Everyday I Have the Blues,” to “Sweet Little Angel,” “It’s My Own Fault” and “How Blue Can You Get?”
Blues-rock titans such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mark Knopfler, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks have all pointed to Live at the Regal as an album so influential that it changed their lives. In a recent eulogy to B.B., Clapton stated, “If you are not familiar with his work, I would encourage you to go out and find an album called B.B. King: Live at the Regal, which is where it all really started for me as a young player.”
While discussing essential blues albums with Jeff Beck bassist Ronnie Wood back in 1968, Jimi Hendrix gave Ronnie a copy of Live at the Regal as a gift. Regarding this release, B.B. said, “It’s considered by some to be the best recording I’ve ever had. On that particular day in Chicago, everything came together.”
“Sweet Little Angel” [transcribed on page 122 of the August 2015 Guitar World] is played in the key of Db and begins with B.B.’s timeless guitar intro, built from a combination of Db minor and major pentatonic scales. As he solos through the intro, he rides the volume control of his guitar, transitioning brilliantly from a thin, biting tone to a fuller, sustaining sound, performing lines that owe as much to his guitar influences T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian as they do to classic R&B horn figures.
His guitar solo, though only one chorus in length, is the epitome of blues perfection, as inspired improvised lines are exquisitely melodic, punctuated by his floating “butterfly” style vibrato.
It went a little something like this.
GUITAR WORLD: Full Devil Jacket just released their new album, Valley of Bones. How has the fan reaction been so far?
Outstanding! Fans old and new are really digging the new album. It's awesome to see them singing along with the new songs when we play them live.
There was 15 years between this album and the last. What was the biggest difference in the recording process this time around?
The biggest difference would be the gigantic leap in technology. Analog is cool and natural and all that, but digital is much more versatile.
What kind of gear did you use on Valley of Bones?
Justin Rimer at CrossTrax Studio had a wide variety of amps for us to use, including a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Bogner Uberschall, 3rd Power and Orange amps—plus a few others. We had multiple guest players contribute to the record, and everyone has their personal preferences. Guitars used were basically everything from my Kramer Assaults and Gibson Les Pauls to Michael Kelly baritones.
How does your gear change from the studio to the stage?
In the studio there are really no limits on which gear is available, so it’s wide open. The road setup is kept very simple. A pair of Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifiers for amplification, and my pedal board is kept simple as well—volume pedal, classic wah, delay and tuner.
What's the first song you learned on guitar?
I guess the cliché answer is "Smoke on the Water," and that is partially true. That was the first riff I learned, but the first song I learned was Black Sabbath's "Paranoid."
Is there a particular style of music or any guitarists who inspired the way you play on the record?
I draw my influence from many different guitar players and styles, including Black Sabbath, Pantera, Alice in Chains and many more.
There are plenty of heavy riffs and solos on the new record. What's your favorite song to play and why?
I love all of the songs on the record. My current favorite song to play is our single, "Valley of Bones." It's a blast to play, and the crowds enjoy singing along with us.
The band is known for its DIY work ethic. How has this influenced your guitar setup and the way you play?
I go all out on whatever it is I decide to do. Dedication, consistency and practice...practice and some more practice. That’s my approach to anything I want to find success in.
If you could have any guitarist, dead or alive, join you on stage for a shred session, who would it be and why?
Dimebag Darrell. He's a legend and one of my favorite players.
Full Devil Jacket is heading out on the road with Hinder soon. What are you looking forward to the most?
It’s great touring and hanging out with Hinder; they are all a bunch of great guys with an impressive history and following, but what I look forward to the most is sharing our music with new fans. It's a great feeling when we see the crowd taking in and enjoying our new music. Awesome!