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    Once upon a time, the mere act of strapping on an electric guitar and cranking up an amplifier marked one as an outsider, a rebellious badass who refused to live by the laws of a "decent" society.

    But today's cookie-cutter rockers and forgettable pop janglers make studying for the priesthood seem like an edgier pursuit than playing guitar in a band.

    Guitar World thought it might be instructive to salute some genuine rock weirdos—25 individuals whose unique personalities and/or playing styles have been dictated not by popular trends, market research firms or knit-capped A&R guys, but by an all-consuming need to express themselves to the fullest.

    Some have crashed and burned, especially when LSD was involved, and you probably wouldn't want to invite most them to dinner. But they're all colorful characters whose flying freak flags have contributed much to rock's rich tapestry.

    Syd Barrett

    Numerous books have been written about the late Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's original leader and rock's first serious acid casualty. His madcap antics range from the amusing (fixing Pat Boone with a murderous stare during an interview on Boone's TV show; styling his hair with Brylcreem and crushed Mandrax tablets) to the psychotic (locking a girlfriend in a bedroom for days with nothing to eat but crackers).

    An incredibly inventive guitarist who combined an unorthodox slide technique with various echo units to create a truly "interstellar" sound, Syd unfortunately became synonymous with "losing one's shit entirely."


    Hasil Adkins

    The wildest one-man band in the history of recorded music, the late Hasil Adkins cranked out warped rockabilly paeans to sex, dancing and decapitation for many decades.

    A manic-depressive lover man whose diet consisted entirely of meat, nicotine and endless cups of coffee, the Haze liked to scare visitors to his rural Appalachian abode with his collection of mannequin heads, and had been known to send unsolicited copies of his new records to the White House.

    True connoisseurs of weirdness (including the Cramps, who covered Hasil's "She Said") worshiped his every primal clang and growl.


    Buckethead

    This reclusive, robotic guitarist (whose personal brand of shred encompasses the most out-there elements of art rock, heavy metal, hip-hop and free jazz) is never seen in public without a white mask on his face or a fried-chicken bucket on his head.

    According to legend, the latter helps him harness the spirits of all slain and martyred chickens, without which he is powerless.

    Buckethead has visited Disneyland hundreds of times (He even claims to have jammed with Haunted Mansion house band) and dreams of building his own surreal theme park, Bucketheadland. For more on that, head here.


    Roky Erickson

    Guitarist and founding member of the world's first psychedelic band, the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson has claimed at times to be from Mars, and his songs are filled with convincing references to aliens, demons and reincarnation.

    Busted for pot in 1969, he tried to beat the rap by pleading insanity. Although his habit of tripping four to five times a day might have already qualified Erickson for the nuthouse, the ensuing three-year incarceration (complete with Thorazine and shock treatments) in Texas' Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane certainly didn't help.

    Roky recorded prolifically in the Seventies and Eighties, but he currently spends most of his time at home.


    Roy Wood

    The very definition of "weird beard," Wood has always cut a uniquely hirsute figure in the world of English rock. A worrying number of his songs for Sixties psych-pop legends the Move dealt with paranoia, insanity and mental anguish and allegedly resulted from the band's manager instructing Wood to "write about what you know."

    An inventive guitarist capable of everything from shuddering power chords to delicate classical filigrees, Wood spent much of the Seventies cranking out Phil Spector-meets-Sha-Na-Na Fifties pastiches with Wizzard, doubtless scarring countless impressionable youngsters for life with his hideous glam-clown makeup.


    Ace Frehley

    Like the man himself, former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley's playing remains maddeningly unpredictable—to this day, he can sound like a teenager who's just picked up his first electric — but he always injected Kiss with a jolt of electricity.

    Ace's coked-out 1978 self-titled solo LP perfectly encapsulates his "life is one big joke" philosophy, but it's also one of the great bonehead rock albums of all time, right up there with the first Ramones record and Foghat Live.


    Glenn Ross Campbell

    The visionary behind Sixties garage-psych ravers the Misunderstood, Campbell could barely play a chord on a six-string guitar. But armed with a pedal steel and a fuzz box, he produced a mind-blowing squall that sounded like the missing link between Jeff Beck's work with the Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced.

    Inspired by his spiritually oriented mother, Campbell and his band toyed with the vibrational effects of feedback and light, sending unsuspecting audiences in to a communal trance with the sensory overload of their powerful performances. Sadly the Vietnam War draft destroyed the band after it had waxed only a handful of tracks.


    Zal Cleminson

    A visual cross between the Joker of Batman fame and Ronald McDonald, Cleminson was the musical lynchpin of Scottish glam terrorists the Sensation Alex Harvey Band.

    Cleminson's contorted, grease-painted mug, green Lurex body stocking and synchronized dance moves invariably provoked an avalanche of catcalls and projectiles from audiences who didn't appreciate the SAHB's theatrical bent—ditto the band's "talent show" routine, wherein Cleminson recited Shakespeare while tap-dancing.

    But his deft fretwork and monstrously fat sound endeared him to mid-Seventies rock fans with a taste for something beyond the usual arena fodder.


    Dave Davies

    Slashing his speakers to create that distorted "You Really Got Me" sound, Davies has clearly been thinking outside the box from the early Kinks days onward.

    In the late Seventies, Davies became deeply interested in telepathy and mental visualization, and claims to have used these concepts to energize or heal concert audiences many times since then. In 1982, he was telepathically contacted by "five distinct intelligences" from another dimension, who significantly enhanced his consciousness and taught him the principles of "etheric magnetism."

    Davies loves to scan the skies for UFOs, and extraterrestrial elements abound on Purusha and the Spiritual Planet, the techno/dance/New Age record he recorded in 1998 with his son Russell.


    Euronymous

    The mustachioed fret-mangler for Mayhem, Norway's original black metal band, Euronymous spent most of his downtime concocting explosive potions in his home laboratory, or presiding over pagan rituals and orgies in the basement of Hell, his Oslo record store.

    When Mayhem's lead singer blew his own brains out with a shotgun, the guitarist harvested the scattered grey matter from the suicide scene, then gleefully ate it in a stew of ham, vegetables and paprika. The accumulated bad karma finally caught up with Euronymous in 1993, when he was stabbed to death by Count Grishnackh of rival black metal purveyors Burzum.


    Link Wray

    An intimidating enigma in dark shades, greasy pompadour and a black leather jacket, Link waxed guitar instrumentals so pungently crude, one of 'em (the 1958 hit "Rumble") was even banned on numerous radio station for being "too suggestive."

    After losing a lung in his twenties to tuberculosis, Link let his cheap-ass guitars do most of the talking—or swearing, as the case may be. In the Fifties, he freaked out more than a few studio engineers with his primitive fuzz tone, achieved by punching holes in the speaker of his Premier amplifier.


    Peter Green

    The tastiest guitarist to emerge from the British blues boom of the Sixties, Peter Green was also the most troubled.

    Originally a brash and arrogant player, the Fleetwood Mac founder decimated his ego with numerous LSD binges and became deeply uncomfortable with is modicum of fame and fortune. He gave most of his money and belonging away to charity—and unsuccessfully tried to convince his bandmates to do the same—and took to wearing flowing robes and crucifixes.

    Green left the band in 1970 and was later institutionalized, where his schizophrenia was only worsened by repeated shock treatments. Although he still records and performs, the psychic scars from his ordeal remain.


    Paul Leary

    Ever the straight man to Gibby Haynes' psychotic jester, Leary gave up his stockbroker ambitions to wreak sonic vengeance on the world as the Butthole Surfers' lead guitarist.

    With his permanently dilated pupils and Rockettes-style leg kicks—and, for a brief period, a hot-pink "sideways Mohawk"—Leary would have been the resident freak in any other band, but he was typically overshadowed by Haynes' lysergic meltdowns and the Buttholes' collection of surgical-training films.

    Still, there was no denying the potency of Leary's bad-trip guitar grind, or his propensity for smashing and setting fire to his instruments at the beginning of a show. As he explained to Guitar World in 1991, "Why wait for the end, you know?"


    Bryan Gregory

    No one who saw Bryan Gregory onstage with the Cramps will forget the arresting spectacle of the stick-thin guitarist coaxing scorching feedback from a polka-dot Flying V (several years before Randy Rhoads wielded one!) while wiggling his ass and flicking lit cigarettes into the crowd.

    With his pockmarked skin, viciously pointy fingernails and impossibly long bleached fringe, Gregory looked like a Times Square hooker returned from the dead, thus accomplishing the impressive feat of making bandmates Lux Interior and Poison Ivy seem positively normal.

    Gregory allegedly left the band to join a snake-handling cult, though the Cramps have always maintained that his exit was drug related.


    Wes Borland

    It's one thing to put on a mask or makeup when everybody else in your band is doing it; it's another thing entirely to dress up as a randy satyr or acid-crazed monkey when the rest of your bandmates are all backward-baseball cap-wearin' slobs.

    In Limp Bizkit, Borland's individualism extended not just to bizarre getups and mind-bending guitar noise but also to his very public discomfort with the band's dumbed-down shtick. Wes also has channeled his ADD-fueled energy into considerably more twisted projects like Goatslayer, Big Dumb Face and Eat the Day.


    Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

    Worried about American coming under missile attack from evildoers in faraway lands? No doubt you'll sleep easier knowing Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is counseling our elected officials on missile defense. That's right—the beret-wearing former Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan guitarist currently works for the U.S. Department of Defense as an adviser to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

    Baxter apparently immersed himself in defense manuals and technical weapons texts while his bandmates were out partying, and now peppers his interviews with anecdotes that begin, "When I was in Afghanistan—well, I can't tell you why I was in Afghanistan, but when I was in Afghanistan..."


    Robert Quine

    The unlikeliest guitar hero to emerge from the New York City punk scene, the bald, bearded and bespectacled Quine looked more like a lawyer than a lead guitarist—before joining Richard Hell & the Voidoids, he'd actually spent three years writing tax law for Prentice Hall Publishing.

    But Quine's musical presence was commanding as hell, and his ability to whip off the most mind-bendingly surreal solos without breaking a sweat won him work with such notorious hard-to-please figures as John Zorn, Tom Waits and Lou Reed.

    And on Reed's The Blue Mask, Quine did something no guitarist has accomplished before or since: get a killer tone out of Peavey Bandit amplifier.


    Tawl Ross

    A sorely underrated player in the annals of P-Funkdom, rhythm guitarist Lucius "Tawl" Ross turned on George Clinton to the high-energy sounds of fellow Detroiters and the Stooges and the MC5, and his distorted, protopunk riffs perfectly complimented Eddie Hazel's freaky leads on the first three Funkadelic albums.

    Tawl's voyage on the Mothership came to an abrupt ending 1971, following a tête-à-tête he'd had with his long-dead mother while tripping on a winning combination of raw speed and at least six hits of pure LSD. Though he briefly resurfaced int he Nineties, Tawl Ross essentially remains the Syd Barrett of funk.


    Skip Spence

    The West Coast psychedelic scene's answer to Syd Barrett, Alexander "Skip" Spence was a free spirit who took a serious wrong turn in 1968 during the recording of Moby Grape's second album: believing a bandmate to be possessed by Satan, Skip tried to "save" him with a fire ax.

    After a stint in New York City's Bellevue Hospital, he wrote and played everything on Oar, a thoroughly deranged amalgam of folk, blues and psychedelia that's since become a cult classic. Unfortunately, Oar marked his last period of prolonged semi-lucidity; doomed to battle schizophrenia and substance abuse issues, Skip was in and out of various institutions until his death from cancer in 1999.


    Ricky Wilson

    Everyone associates B-52's with Fred Schneider's campy bark and the bewigged antics of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, but these perennial new wave faces wouldn't have gone far without the twangy licks of Cindy's guitarist brother, Ricky.

    Heavily influenced by the disparate likes of Captain Beefheart and Joni Mitchell, Ricky (who allegedly learned guitar by playing along to TV commercials) used a variety of weird-ass tunings on his old Mosrite, dispensing with the D and G strings entirely.

    At a time when Dire Straits and Van Halen ruled the rock roost, Ricky's thrift shop, surf-meets-spaghetti western sound was a total revelation.


    Hound Dog Taylor

    Born with six fingers on each hand, Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor once drunkenly tried to remove his extra digits with a razor blade. Thankfully, he was only partially successful, leaving his left hand intact to execute his wild Elmore James-in-crystal meth slide runs.

    Despite his clownish stage persona, Hound Dog loved to fight with his bandmates, and even wounded HouseRockers guitarist Brewer Phillips with a handgun when one dissing session got out of hand. A devotee of $50 pawnshop guitars and busted amps, Hound Dog rarely practiced, and he never performed sober. "When I die," he sagely predicted, "they'll say, 'He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!'"


    Marc Bolan

    He claimed to know only five chords, but nobody ever whipped a Les Paul with as much effete elan as the T.Rex main man. The bisexual elf's Freudian fixation on guitar flagellation began during his stint with mod provocateurs John's Children (wherein he routinely beat his ax with chains during live shows) and continued long after he'd morphed from acoustic folkie to high-heeled glam warrior.

    Bolan's weirdo credentials were more confirmed by his impressive string of gibberish-laden hits—songs like "Metal Guru,""Hot Love" and "Telegram Sam" so brilliantly walked the line between genius and idiocy, no one is sure to this day which is which.


    Jim Martin

    "I'm from outer space and I'm here to kill you all," was a favorite between-song threat of the erstwhile Faith No More guitarist, and frankly it wasn't hard to believe him.

    With his Furry Freak Brother beard and man—the latter gradually turning into an unsightly "reverse Mohawk," thanks to pattern baldness—his penchant for wearing several pairs of sunglasses at once and his unapologetic love for classic rock, "Big Sick Ugly Jim" always seemed the odd man out in the groundbreaking funk-metal band.

    Since parting ways with FNM in 1994, the reclusive Martin as lent his searing tones to a handful of projects but his main interest seems to be growing giant pumpkins that tip the scales at well over 800 pounds.


    Bobby Beausoleil

    The pretty boy of the Manson Family (Charles, not Marilyn), Beausoleil was a talented musician who played rhythm guitar in Arthur Lee's Love, back when they were still known as the Grass Roots. In 1967, Beausoleil landed a gig playing guitar and sitar for the Magick Powerhouse of Oz, an 11-piece rock band formed by filmmaker Kenneth Anger to provide soundtrack to his occult film Lucifer Rising.

    After a headed argument, Beausoleil stole Anger's car, camera equipment and 1,600 feet of his film—the latter of which he gave to Manson, who buried it in the desert and demanded $10,000 in ransom. While in prison, Beausoleil has built a wide array of electronic instruments, including the Syntar, a stringless, digital, touch-controlled guitar.


    Angus Young

    Angus is such an established member of the rock pantheon, most of us don't even flinch when AC/DC's diminutive lead axman duck-walks across the stage in full schoolboy drag, despite the fact the dude is several decades past his 16th birthday.

    But how's this for a job description: not only do you sport a velvet jacket-shorts-and-cap look on a nightly basis but you do it while playing impossibly loud blues licks, punctuating each performance with a striptease and a full moon of the audience. If that isn't a weird way to make your living for 40-plus years, we don't know what is.

    Additional Content

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    Ornette Coleman, a saxophonist, composer and legend of free jazz, died Thursday in New York City. He was 85.

    The cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to a family representative.

    Coleman's work as a saxophonist and composer was hugely influential in the jazz world and beyond.

    "Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course," wrote The New York Times today. "Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early Sixties, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm while gaining more distance from the American songbook repertoire.

    "His own music, then and later, embodied a new type of folk song: providing deceptively simple melodies for small groups with an intuitive, collective musical language and a strategy for playing without preconceived chord sequences. In 2007, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his album Sound Grammar."

    Coleman collaborated with jazz veterans including Charlie Haden and Don Cherry—but he also worked with pop artists, including Lou Reed, Yoko Ono and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia.

    Below, you can hear two full sets Coleman performed with the Grateful Dead in 1993. Take note of how his free-range playing traveled effortlessly across genres.

    To hear individual tracks from these two shows, head here.

    Grateful Dead Live at Oakland (Alameda County Coliseum), 1993-02-23

    Grateful Dead Live at Los Angeles Sports Arena, 1993-12-09

    Additional Content

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    JD McPherson has unveiled the music video for "Head Over Heels," the latest single from his new album, Let the Good Times Roll.

    “We set up our equipment in a roller rink in South Oklahoma City, invited a bunch of folks who skate there regularly, and tried to channel the Sonics," McPherson said. "It was a fun shoot.”

    McPherson and his longtime band—Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keys) and Doug Corcoran (saxophone, guitar, keys)—are in the midst of an extensive tour, including a just-added date at New York City's Webster Hall on October 9. See below for complete details.

    For more about McPherson, visit jdmcpherson.com.

    JD McPherson Tour Dates:

    June 16 /// London, United Kingdom /// KOKO
    June 17 /// Manchester, United Kingdom /// Academy 2
    June 18 /// Brighton, United Kingdom /// Concorde2
    June 19 /// Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain /// Azkena Rock Festival
    June 21 /// Minneapolis, MN /// Rock the Garden Festival
    June 24 /// Nottingham, United Kingdom /// Nottingham Rescue Rooms
    June 26 /// Somerset, United Kingdom /// Glastonbury Festival
    June 27 /// Amersterdam, Netherlands /// Down the Rabbit Hole
    July 2 /// Berwyn, IL /// FitzGerald’s American Music Festival
    July 4 /// St. Paul, MN /// Macalester College
    July 22 /// Baltimore, MD /// Baltimore Soundstage
    July 23 /// Dewey Beach, DE /// Bottle & Cork
    July 24 /// Camden, NJ /// WXPN’s XPoNential Festival
    July 25 /// Millvale, PA /// Mr. Smalls
    July 26 /// Columbus, OH /// Park Street Saloon
    July 30 /// Santa Monica, CA /// Santa Monica Pier
    July 31 /// San Francisco, CA /// Great American Music Hall
    August 1 /// Happy Valley, OR /// PICKATHON
    August 2 /// Happy Valley, OR /// PICKATHON
    August 28 /// Fayetteville, AR /// Fayetteville Roots Festival
    August 30 /// Florence, MA /// Amourasaurus
    October 9 /// New York City, NY /// Webster Hall


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    We've already taken a look at the albums that defined 1985, so let's turn back the clocks a decade.

    Nineteen hundred and seventy-five was a year of ambition and introspection.

    Confident in the wake of their incredible critical and commercial success, Led Zeppelin crafted their grandest work yet—the sprawling, masterful Physical Graffiti—while Queen put hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention months of work, into A Night at the Opera, which is best known for "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    But while some were looking to increase the scope of their music, some turned inward for inspiration. Pink Floyd reflected on their troubled founder, Syd Barrett, and created a harrowing, profoundly moving tribute in Wish You Were Here. Pete Townshend struggled with alcoholism and writer's block and turned his struggles into The Who By Numbers, one of the most under-appreciated pieces of the band's discography.

    Bob Dylan, who had mostly been treading water with uneven releases for the previous six years, turned his disintegrating marriage into Blood On the Tracks, a bleak, staggering masterpiece that stands as possibly the best of his career. Neil Young released two incredible albums, the ghostly Tonight's the Night and the powerful, solo-heavy Zuma.

    The guitar was being pushed in entirely new directions by artists of all kinds.

    Jeff Beck released his meticulous, hugely influential Blow By Blow, while Lou Reed released his hugely controversial—and unpopular—experiment in guitar feedback, Metal Machine Music. Kiss brought simplicity and pure fun into the picture with their breakthrough concert document, Alive!, and Ritchie Blackmore explored new, post-Deep Purple avenues with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.

    Nineteen hundred and seventy-five was a year of ambition, introspection and innovation. And consequently, it brought some truly unforgettable albums. Enjoy the photo gallery below. Remember you can click on each photo to take a closer look!

    NOTE: This list is presented purely in alphabetical order, not an order of worst to best or best to worst. So there's no order of preference. Also, we decided to include a few bonus albums. Enjoy!


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    Guitarist James Bay has always tried to find the perfect balance between providing tasty guitar work and writing organic songs that are real and honest.

    Whether he’s performing in a pub basement in London or opening for the Rolling Stones, it’s something that’s firmly engrained into him as an artist—and a permanent part of his sound.

    Bay’s critically acclaimed debut album, Chaos and the Calm, debuted at Number 1 in Bay’s native U.K. and in Ireland and Switzerland. Powered by the infectious single, “Hold Back the River” and songs like “Craving” and “When We Were on Fire,” Bay is fast becoming a musical force to be reckoned with.

    I recently spoke with Bay about Chaos and the Calm, his gear and more.

    GUITAR WORLD: What’s your songwriting process like?

    It usually starts musically as opposed to lyrically, and 99 percent of it starts with me just dabbling with the guitar. I’ll sort of move around and play and not think too hard about it. Then all of a sudden something will comes to life. I keep a little radar in the back of my head that’s always searching for something that sounds good, different and interesting. Musically, I wander and see what catches my ear.

    Let’s discuss a few tracks from Chaos and the Calm, starting with "Hold Back the River."

    That song initially came out of a sentiment I had. I remember the night before I wrote it I had just done my first headline show to about 100 people in the basement of a pub in London. Most of those people were my family and friends. I had been so busy leading up to that night that it started to feel like I was losing touch with them. I really wanted to say something about that.

    Of course, when you want to say something directly and sit down and write a song about it, it can become one of the most difficult things to achieve. I spent most of the day trying to hash things out and find something interesting but nothing happened. It wasn’t until I sat down with my red 1966 Epiphone Century that my fingers just fell into position and that little riff came out. That’s when the song really started to come to life.

    "Craving"

    "Craving" started with the opening riff and chorus melody. I had been on a strong Kings of Leon kick at the time. I was inspired by them and wanted to write about something that was freeing. The lyric is about wanting to escape, but the melody and music makes you feel a certain way.

    When We Were on Fire"

    I was trying to write a song about how I had been through a difficult patch in a relationship. I wanted to see if we could stitch it up and fix it and take things back to where they were. Back to when things were great. That was the inspiration for that song.

    What can you tell me about your touring plans?

    We’ve just finished a truly incredible tour here in Los Angeles. The crowds have been amazing and after every show, there are usually 50 to 100 people waiting just to say hi, which has been absolutely incredible. We’ll be back in he States at the end of July and part of August.

    Most established artists consider opening for the Rolling Stones one of the pinnacle moments of their career, and you’ve already achieved that. What was that like?

    It was mind-blowing. It was amazing to see posters around London with their name emblazoned across the top—and then my name there on the bottom. To have that association with them for just that moment in time was incredible. But as excited as I was, the greatest thing about that day was that I got to see them play live. I’ve followed the Rolling Stones in my own time and generation from the Sixties and Seventies through now. They’re just an incredible band, and it was the perfect day.

    When did you become obsessed with guitar?

    I remember being 11 when I heard “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos. That Eric Clapton riff just blew my mind, and that was it. That was the catalyst that really got me going. I started playing and have never looked back.

    Who are some of your influences?

    The classics: Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer are also inspirations. Then there are guys like Ben Howard and John Martyn, singer/songwriters with a great approach to guitar playing.

    What’s your current setup like?

    I’ve shied away from having too much gear. I’ve always wanted to be a one-amp and no-pedals kind of guy. Much like another big influence of mine, Derek Trucks, who to this day is minimal in the things he uses. Right now, I’m rocking a Tone King Sky King amp, which is made by a guy named Mark Bartel in Baltimore. It’s an incredible-sounding amp. I’ve paired that with a brand-new Victory, which is a U.K.-made amp. My keyboard player, who also plays guitar, knows the guys there and introduced me to it. It’s another incredible amplifier with a really clear voice.

    For guitars, I’m all about P-90s. My Gibson ES 330 and Epiphone Century have gorgeous ones in them. But having said that, the new D’Angelico I use is my first foray into humbuckers. It’s a hollow body guitar and I like to hear the air breathing through it when I play.

    Are you working on any new music?

    Of course! As my guitar sound develops I’m always thinking about new songs. I’ve really grown with the band this past year. Nothing complete yet but things are developing all the time.

    What excites you about performing?

    It has to be the response I get now that people are starting to know the music. It’s a pleasure seeing people turn up and go crazy not just for a single, but for all of the songs. We also get to jam out a bit during the set and people just love it. It’s those kind of moments that really make this a dream come true!

    James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.


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    American Opera, the brainchild of NYC singer-songwriter John Bee, has posted the latest installment in his ongoing series of cover songs, “Warped Wednesday with American Opera.”

    This week is a cover of The Wonder Years'"There, There."

    American Opera will be out on Vans Warped Tour's Acoustic Basement Stage all summer.

    Every Wednesday, American Opera will post a new cover of a song from a fellow 2015 Vans Warped Tour act.

    Bee explains, "This summer I’ll be on the Acoustic Basement stage, and in the spirit of that stage and camaraderie amongst artists, I figured I would try to pay homage while putting my spin on the songs.”

    He continues, “I’m a newcomer to the Vans Warped Tour so I wasn’t too familiar with a lot of the artists, but after checking out the talent I am even more excited to be a part of the tour.”

    Watch the cover below:

    American Opera has performed well over 200 shows (both solo and full band) spanning the U.S. and Canada, including dates with The Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter, Cursive, Murder By Death, Owen, and William Elliott Whitmore, as well as featured performances at SXSW and the Vans Warped Tour.

    Find out more at www.americanopera.net.


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    Steve Morse's almost mythical musical capabilities need no introduction.

    Marrying blazing chops to a singular sense of hook writing creativity, his distinctive brand of rootsy American virtuosity has inspired generations of players to think outside of the pentatonic box.

    Morse is renowned for reeling off what he calls "un-guitaristic" lines of seemingly impossible complexity. These keyboard- and fiddle-inspired trademark phrases often consist of no more than a single note on any given string.

    This kind of one-note-per-string arpeggio picking is typically regarded as the domain of fingerpickers, not flatpickers. Yet the effortlessness with which Morse nails these gymnastic routines is the obvious clue that something mechanically magical is happening under the hood.

    I was fortunate enough to interview Morse for the Cracking the Code documentary project, and the high-speed camera provides a rare look at the mechanical magic of his arpeggio picking technique.

    Morse has written on a number of musical topics right here at Guitar World under the "Morse Code" banner. Now it's time to take a crack at identifying the elusive ingredients of his arpeggio code.



    Getting into the Swing

    The most important of those ingredients is rotation. Morse moves the pick with a highly unique rotational method that's immediately apparent under the camera:



    six.png

    This smooth, graceful swing serves dual purposes. The most obvious is simply as a way of generating the alternate picking movement itself. In Cracking the Code terminology, we call this the "motion mechanic." Morse's smoothly swinging motion mechanic is very beautiful and quite different from what we see when we look at most other hyperspeed pickers.

    For example, Morse contemporaries like John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola utilize wrist-based movements, which move the pick back and forth in a mostly flat plane:

    dimeola-deviation.jpg

    Anatomically, this type of side-to-side, "clock face" movement of the wrist is what we'd call "radial-ulnar deviation"—or simply wrist deviation, if you like. Along with rotational movements of the forearm, wrist deviation is probably one of the most common motion mechanics in guitar picking.

    But how do you take a flat movement like deviation and, somehow, jump over to a new string? We've already seen in this column how Eric Johnson and Yngwie Malmsteen get around this problem, and the solution is pickslanting.

    In the pickslanting world, the plane of the picking motion is angled so that every other pickstroke lifts above, or "escapes" the strings. This can happen on all the upstrokes, like it does in Malmsteen and Johnson's approach. Or it can happen on all the downstrokes, as in the McLaughlin and Di Meola approach. Either way, it requires at least two notes on a string in order to work.

    Rotation to the Rescue

    But in Morse's arpeggios, we have to switch strings after every single note. And for that, we're going to need more than pickslanting. And this is where the second purpose of the motion mechanic reveals itself. The gentle arc of the picking motion allows the pick to rise above the strings with every pickstroke. So it's not just a motion mechanic—it's also a string-switch mechanic. And to achieve this effect, rather than using small movements, we actually have to go big:

    curvemath.jpg

    With the help of a little high school trigonometry (SOHCAHTOA, anyone?), we can see that the flattest possible swing is paradoxically achieved, not by using the smallest possible picking movements, but actually by using the largest.

    If we use anywhere from 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch of pick on the string, which is variable "y" in our graphical example, we can achieve a maximum pickstroke swing, which is radius "R," of anywhere from 1 to 2 inches without hitting any of the surrounding strings. And when we look at Morse's playing under the camera, this is exactly what we see:

    pickstroke-timelapse.jpg

    The pickstroke that hits this note on the D string actually begins its travel way up above the low E string and finishes its travel way down above the B string. That's a four-string spread, or approximately an inch and a half. Incredible. The arc is so wide and flat, that when viewed from a few feet away, as I did when I interviewed Morse, it's almost entirely invisible. This flatness is where the speed comes from.

    On the Right Track

    One challenge of performing Morse's swinging rotation is keeping it centered above the string you're playing. That's a process we call "string tracking" in Cracking the Code, and it is commonly achieved several different ways:



    If you hard anchor the wrist to the bridge, you can use wrist deviation as the string tracking mechanic, tracing out the clock face movement we've already looked at. If you loosely anchor the wrist, you can use an elbow and shoulder method of string tracking that looks almost like sawing, where the entire forearm slides across the strings. Or you can blend the two, as many players tend to do naturally without thinking too much about it.

    The point here is that if you have only one note on every string, you'll need to cover a lot of territory quickly, and string tracking is what allows you to do that. You may need to vary the speed of it, or perhaps vary the particular method you choose to achieve it, but timing it exactly right is what helps keep the swing of the pickstrokes from hitting the surrounding strings.

    Pickslanting

    The third and perhaps most unexpected ingredient of Morse's arpeggio picking technique is one we're already familiar with: pickslanting. In addition to generating the swinging pickstroke, and tracking it across the strings, it turns out Morse also simultaneously slants his pick slightly in the direction the lick is moving:

    pickslant.jpg

    The reason this works is mechanically complex, and involves making sure all the "inside" string changes are effortless. But in actual practice, we can forget about the theory somewhat because doing it turns out to be pretty natural. If you think about the gentle directional slant that is present in most strumming movements, and also in sweep picking, this is the exact same thing.

    What's amazing and unexpected here is that Morse is actually doing it during alternate picking, which is not something we're used to thinking about.

    The Three Ingredients

    So now we've got all three ingredients in our mixing bowl. We've established the swing, we're tracking it across the strings, and we're slanting the pick ever so slightly in the direction of our movement. And when we get the blend just right, cool things begin to happen:



    morse style arp.png

    Rotation, string tracking and pickslanting are an incredibly powerful mixture, and they aren't just the three pillars of Morse's arpeggio technique. It turns out they also are the foundation of all single-note arpeggio picking. Because of this, you will also see them mixed together in varying amounts in other styles of music, like bluegrass, that rely on flatpicked arpeggios.

    The incredible mechanical engineering of Morse's technique is beautiful to look at under the camera, but it's also a vastly powerful musical tool. Because of the tricky design of the guitar itself, players have historically had to make all sorts of compromises to create lines they could actually play.

    So if learning to navigate the strings the Morse way helps us generate musical ideas we might not have even considered possible, well that's the greatest gift he could have given us.

    Watch my complete Steve Morse interview in Masters in Mechanics, a monthly series brought to you by the Cracking the Code project, which explores an even wider array of fascinating topics at the intersection of mechanics and music.

    Troy Grady is the creator of Cracking the Code, a documentary series with a unique analytical approach to understanding guitar technique. Melding archival footage, in-depth interviews, painstakingly crafted animation and custom soundtrack, it’s a pop-science investigation of an age-old mystery: Why are some players seemingly super-powered?

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    Foo Fighters have cancelled two tour dates after frontman Dave Grohl fractured in his leg during the band's Friday-night show in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    The band was due to perform at the Pinkpop Festival last night in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, and at the AFG Arena in St. Gallen, Switerzland, today.

    Foo Fighters were playing the second song of their set—“Monkey Wrench”—when Grohl accidentally plunged into the security pit. However, dedicated performer that he is, Grohl returned to the stage not too long after and proceeded to play a full two-and-a-half hour set with his leg in a cast.

    Grohl was spotted in London yesterday—on crutches—but very much out and about.



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    Here's a video we found on Plectone's Facebook page over the weekend.

    It shows—in glorious slow motion—what guitar strings really look like—as you're plucking them.

    As you know, there have been several iPhone videos showing guitar strings in slow motion, but they usually generate a horde of negative comments, most of which point out glitches in iPhone cameras. Several of these videos also have been called fakes.

    Unfortunately, the only added info posted along with this new clip (posted June 12) is the fact that it contains "raw footage." When we find out more, we will update this story.


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    If you've read this story's headline, you already know what lies ahead.

    Ergo, we hope you enjoy this video of a 2-year-old kid playing Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade" on Guitar Hero.

    The clip, which was posted to YouTube June 12, is nearing the 4 million-views mark as we speak.

    Not that this kid would care, but "Bulls on Parade" came in at Number 23 on Guitar World's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time Time.

    "That's me playing a solo by flicking the toggle switch band and forth," Tom Morello once told us about his solo on the track. "The story behind that sound starts with me going over to Ibanez one day. They were making a guitar for a guy in another band, and it had a special feature on it that they wanted me to try out. So I tried it, and it didn't really seem to do much that was anything different from a normal guitar.

    "But I noticed that when you set the toggle between the two pickup settings, there was a really peculiar, high-pitched noise, and you could manipulate the tone of it dramatically when you turned the tone knob. I asked them what the noise was, and they said it was just incidental, that the guitar had an internal pickup and it was picking up this weird noise that they were trying to get rid of.

    "I said, 'Oh no, no, come here with that one.' [laughs] I gave them an idea of what I thought was possible with that noise, and they were kind enough to custom build a guitar for me with that feature in it."

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    Friday night, the Who's Roger Daltrey and Oasis' Liam Gallagher joined forces for a performance of the Who's 1965 classic "My Generation."

    The duo got together for a special celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the British TV show TFI Friday. Daltrey and Gallagher were joined by former Oasis drummer (and son of Ringo Starr) Zak Starkey and former Oasis guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs.

    Check out the performance below. Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook!

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    We interrupt our regular top nut series to bring you a request. I’ve had a lot of you asking for a guide to balancing your guitar’s vibrato unit. Well, here it is.

    The good news is that the whole balancing process is the same for most locking and non-locking vibrato units; i.e. any unit that’s based on the classic Stratocaster spring vs. string tension design.

    The first step is to decide how you want your vibrato to sit. Here are the main three options:

    1. Strat vibrato, flat on the body: I would hazard a guess that most Strat players (or owners of those guitars that, ahem, pay tribute to Leo Fender’s original design) prefer their vibrato to lay firmly on the guitar’s body. In other words, it can only be pushed forward to loosen the strings; not pulled back. Option 1 also applies to those locking vibrato-equipped guitars (like my Fender Standard Stratocaster HSS) that don’t have a recess to allow you to pull the vibrato unit up.

    2. Strat vibrato, with some pull-up: This setup allows you to get some of that Jeff Beck-style warble. Some surf guitarists like to set their Strat vibratos with a bit of pull-up; wobbling the arm sounds great with your reverb whacked all the way up.

    3. Locking vibrato, balanced. This is for locking vibrato loaded guitars that have a recess in the body (think the Ibanez JEM and its Lion’s Claw) to allow the arm to be pulled up, raising the pitch of the strings. The vibrato should be set so that it sits parallel to the guitar’s body, not on it.

    BALANCING THE VIBRATO

    Before you begin the process of balancing your vibrato (or any setup task for that matter), you have to make sure that the guitar’s strings are properly stretched. Tune the strings, give 'em a good ol' stretch, then re-tune. It can take a while for the tuning to settle, so keep on stretching and retuning until you don’t need to anymore.

    Take a look at the angle of the vibrato from the side (See photo 1 in the gallery below). Is it sitting at your preferred angle? If not, remove the plastic plate on the back of the guitar. With the backplate removed (and the screws stored somewhere safe), you’ll see two large screws holding a steel "claw" and some vibrato springs (See photo 2).

    You can alter the vibrato's angle by adjusting the two large screws with the correct-sized screwdriver. Why do I always say "correct-sized" when it comes to tools? Well, the bolts and screws fitted to some guitars can be quite soft. The wrong-sized screwdriver can damage the heads on these vulnerable parts.

    If the vibrato angles toward the body, turn the screws anti-clockwise to release tension on the vibrato springs; and clockwise if it's angled away from the body to increase tension on the springs. Each time you turn the screws a half turn, retune the guitar and check the new angle of the vibrato. Repeat the process until you get the angle you want. It really is that easy.

    The eventual result is that the tension between the screws and the strings will be balanced and the vibrato unit will stay exactly where you want it to. If you have a locking top nut, you can now bolt it down (See photo 3).

    There’s a part two to this guide which, will be with you shortly. Until then, please try to stay balanced.

    And since we're on the topic, here's part 2!

    If you simply can't get enough of Ed and his Shed, click here!


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    When learning how to play jazz guitar, or any style of guitar for that matter, we often spend a lot of time working on pentatonic, blues, major and melodic minor scales and patterns on the guitar and then practice bringing these sounds into our solos.

    While learning the aforementioned scales is essential for any improvising guitarist, there is also another group of scales that are worth spending time on in the woodshed and bringing into our solos on the bandstand: symmetrical scales.

    Symmetrical scales are so named because they are built using one or more repeated interval patterns, and often contain six to eight notes, one more or less than what you would find in the Major and Melodic Minor Scale modes.

    In this short primer on these important sounds, we’ll explore five different symmetrical scales, learn how they are constructed, how you can use them in your solos and check out sample fingerings for further practice.

    To explore these and many other scales further, check out my Essential Jazz Guitar Scales page for more information about fingerings, usage and improvisational techniques.

    Whole Tone Scale

    The whole tone scale is made up of six notes, which is smaller than the major scale modes but is bigger than the pentatonic scale, and it actually fits fairly easily under the fingers on the fretboard. The scale is built by using one interval, a tone, between each note.

    So to build any whole tone scale, you simply start on the root and go up in tones until you hit the top of the octave. The whole tone scale is made up of the following intervals when you run from the root to the root, and is normally used to solo over a 7#5 chord, which will also have a #11 in it as you can see below.

    Intervals – R 2 3 #4(#11) #5 b7 R
    Key of C – C D E F# G# A#(Bb) C

    Try out the fingering below to get a sense of how this scale sits on the neck and sounds on the guitar. Then put on a 7th chord vamp or backing track and use this scale to create your soloing ideas to hear how it sounds in a musical situation.

    Whole Tone Scale JPG.jpg

    Half Whole Diminished Scale

    This is the first of two diminished scales we will explore in this article, and as the name suggests, it is built by alternating half steps and whole steps.

    To build any half whole diminished scale, you start on the root and then move up by a half step, then a whole step, then a half step, then a whole step etc. until you reach the top of the octave. This scale is used to improvise over a 13b9 chord, which will also bring the #9 and #11 colors to the table as you can see below.

    Here is how the half whole diminished scale looks from an intervallic standpoint as well as in the key of C.

    Intervals – R b2(b9) b3(#9) 3 #4(#11) 5 6 b7 R
    Key of C – C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C

    Run through the example fingering below to get started with this scale on the guitar. Then put on a 7 chord vamp or backing track and solo using the half whole diminished scale in order to get a sense for how it sounds in a musical situation.

    Half Whole Diminished Scale JPG.jpg

    Whole Half Diminished Scale

    The second diminished scale we’ll look at is the whole half diminished scale, and as the name suggests, it is built by alternating whole steps and half steps as you build the scale up from the root. As you can see, both of the diminished scales contain eight notes, so one more than any major scale mode.

    This makes the scale stand out against the modes, but it can also make it a bit tricky to finger on the guitar. Try the example below and then work on finding other easy to play fingerings that feel comfortable for you and your hands with this scale.

    This scale is used to solo over a Dim or Dim7 chord, and here is how it looks from an intervallic standpoint as well as what the notes are for this scale in the key of C.

    Intervals – R 2 b3 4 #4 #5 6 7 R
    Key of C – C D Eb F F# G# A B C

    After you’ve gotten this scale under your fingers and have an idea of how it sounds on the guitar as well as how it sounds compared to the half whole diminished scale, put on a dim7 chord vamp or backing track and take this sound to a musical situation as you build your solo with the whole half diminished scale over that chord.

    Whole Half Diminished Scale JPG.jpg

    Augmented Scale

    A lesser used scale as compared to the previous three symmetrical scales, the augmented scale is built by combining two augmented triads a minor 3rd apart.

    You can see this in the example below, in the key of C, where the scale is built by combining C and Eb augmented triads to build the scale over two octaves. Here is how the scale looks from an intervallic standpoint as well as all the notes for this scale in the key of C.

    Intervals – R b3(#9) 3 5 #5 7 R
    Key of C – C Eb E G G# B C

    Since the scale has all the notes of a maj#5 arpeggio, it can be used to create tension in your solos over a maj7 chord as you bring this scale into your playing.

    After you’ve explored the fingering below, put on a Maj7 or Maj7#5 vamp and then solo over those chords using the augmented scale to hear how it sounds when applied to a soloing situation.

    Augmented Scale JPG.jpg

    Tritone Scale

    The last scale that we’ll check out in this short primer on symmetrical scales is the tritone scale. As the name suggests, this scale is built by combing the notes from the root triad and the triad a tritone away from the root.

    You can see this in the example below where the scale is built by combining the C and Gb triads, the tonic triad and the triad a tritone away from the root. Here is how the scale looks from an intervallic standpoint as well as when written out in the key of C.

    Intervals – R b2(b9) 3 b5(#11) 5 b7 R
    Key of C – C Db E Gb G Bb C

    As you can see, this chord produces a 7(#11,b9) sound you can use when soloing over 7th chords to bring some tension to your lines.

    After you’ve explored the fingering below, put on a 7th chord or 7(#11,b9) chord vamp, and practice soloing over those sounds using the Tritone Scale to hear how it fits over these chords in a musical situation.

    Tritone Scale JPG.jpg

    There you have it, a short primer and introduction to five symmetrical scales on the guitar. After you’ve played through each scale and improvised with it a bit, pick one or two to focus on this week in the practice room and then learn more fingerings for those scales, take them to common chord progressions as well as tunes you are working on in order to dig deeper into these sounds in the woodshed.

    What do you think of these scales, and how do you use them in your solos? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

    Matt Warnock is the owner of mattwarnockguitar.com, a free website that provides hundreds of lessons and resources designed to help guitarists of all experience levels meet their practice and performance goals. Matt lives in the UK, where he is a senior lecturer at the Leeds College of Music and an examiner for the London College of Music (Registry of Guitar Tutors).


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    Ever wonder what the theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would've sounded like if Will Smith came from the Mississippi Delta?

    Someone named Samuraiguitarist and his singing friend, Jeff Gagne, did.

    They even covered the tune—blues-style—and posted their video to YouTube on June 8.

    Check it out below; there's even a suit at the end of the video, which is a little weird. Whatever.


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    This past Friday night, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai hosted "A Benefit for Cliff III," a benefit show in support of their good friend, music-industry veteran Cliff Cultreri.

    The show, which took place at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, featured performances by Satriani, Vai and Animals As Leaders, and also featured Dethklok's Brendon Small.

    Cultreri is the A&R executive who "discovered" Satriani, Vai and many other artists while working at Relativity Records and Koch Entertainment. Cultreri is suffering from a host of auto-immune and connective-tissue disorders that are simultaneously attacking his immune system, a 1-in-100 million occurrence that causes severe pain and physical debilitations.

    He served as A&R for Allan Holdsworth, Billy Sheehan and Talas, Peter Frampton, Megadeth, Corrosion Of Conformity, Exodus, Anthrax, Death, Venom, Slash's Snakepit, My Bloody Valentine, the Cure, Modern English, Gene Loves Jezebel, Fat Joe, Common, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, 3-6 Mafia, KRS1, Beatnuts, C Murder, Kurupt, Soulja Slim, RZA and many others.

    Satriani and Vai hosted benefit shows for Cultreri in 2006 and 2011.

    Check out this photo gallery by Andy Alt.

    Photo: Andy Alt

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    “This is rock-and-fucking-roll, man! Grab your guitars and let’s rock!,” exclaims Jeff George, guitarist for L.A.-based four-piece We Are Harlot.

    With his long blond locks, perennial shit-eating grin and always-amped personality, George is, in a sense, the human embodiment of We Are Harlot’s sound.

    The band’s self-titled Roadrunner debut explodes with high-energy, good-time, heavy rock and roll songs that recall Seventies and Eighties greats like Van Halen, Kiss and Guns N’ Roses, which George then carpet-bombs with his fiery soloing, coming on like the spawn of a five-way love child between Ace Frehley, Angus Young, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads and Dimebag Darrell.

    It’s a sound that manages to sound classic and yet also incredibly fresh—mostly due to the fact that there aren’t many young bands today doing what We Are Harlot does, and certainly not doing it as well. “Rock and roll has become so much about depressing, angry stuff,” George says.

    “Everybody’s so bummed out. But our songs are fun. You listen to this record and it’s about partying and sex and going out and playing music. It’s a good time. That’s what rock and roll used to be.”

    And, indeed, We Are Harlot tracks like “Denial” (“For that solo I was thinking about what Randy Rhoads did on [Ozzy Osbourne’s] ‘S.A.T.O.,’ ” says George) and first single “Dancing on Nails” (“the lead is straight-up Ace Frehley”) are blistering, no-holds-barred rockers that combine high-octane riffs and freight-train rhythms with huge melodies and hooky, sing-along choruses.

    While We Are Harlot—which also includes drummer Bruno Agra and Silvertide bassist Brian Weaver—have been building a following on the rock circuit for the past year, until recently they’ve been mostly known as Asking Alexandria singer Danny Worsnop’s other band. But this past January, Worsnop parted ways—amicably, he has claimed—with the popular British metalcore act, and since then, George says, it’s been full steam ahead for the Harlot boys.

    “We want to take our music to everyone. So we’re going to hit it hard this year for sure. And for me, there’s nothing better than getting up onstage with these three dudes. To look over at my friends and see them laughing and enjoying themselves, and then looking out at the crowd and watching them go crazy…it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s a blast. And that’s what this band is all about.”

    AXOLOGY:

    GUITARS: ESP Jeff George Signature, Vintage and LTD Xtone; Taylor 614ce; Martin 12-string
    AMPS: Marshall JVM410, JCM800 and 1971 Super Lead (modified by Jose Arredondo); EVH 5150 III; Sixties Fender Deluxe Reverb
    EFFECTS: Maxon OD-808 Overdrive and FL-9 Flanger; Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive and NS-2 Noise Suppressor; Dunlop MXR Phase 90
    STRINGS: GHS (various gauges)
    PICKS: Dunlop Jazz III

    Photo: Sean Murphy


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    “Every Gang of Four record sounds different from the last one,” says Gang of Four guitarist and co-founder Andy Gill.

    “The thing that’s always consistent is that obsession with rhythm and groove, and the way the instruments interlock like a Swiss watch!”

    While all of Gang of Four’s albums—from 1979’s groundbreaking Entertainment! up through 2011’s Content—have indeed varied markedly in terms of sound and approach, the new What Happens Next represents truly uncharted territory for the legendary English post-punk outfit.

    It’s their first full-length outing without vocalist and co-founder Jon King, who left the band in 2012. (New member John “Gaoler” Sterry handles most of the album’s lead vocals, though the Kills’ Alison Mosshart guests on two tracks.) And it’s also the first Gang of Four album to be recorded entirely without guitar amplifiers.

    “I was like, ‘Amps just get in the way—let me plug straight into the computer,’ ” laughs Gill, “I mostly used iZotope Trash, which is great fun, and some very cool things that Manny Marroquin designed for Waves. I combined all these different types of distortion, until it sounded like the last breath of a dying guitar. It was like, ‘God, that sounds so horrible, it’s brilliant!’”

    Gill, whose aggressive, angular playing has been cited as a major influence by the disparate likes of Tom Morello, Tool’s Adam Jones, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sleater-Kinney, did use real guitars for What Happens Next, most notably a Lace Sensors–loaded Stratocaster he obtained from the Fender warehouse back in the late Eighties.

    “That Strat has been my main guitar for nearly 30 years,” he says.

    “Before it, I destroyed so many fantastic guitars doing things like banging ’em on the amp to get feedback, dropping ’em on the floor, and stamping on them. It was so stupid, and so expensive. I finally woke up one day and thought, Uh, maybe I should just not do that any more!”

    Photo by Jeremy Danger


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    If you've been to a few rock concerts in your day, the sight of cups of alcohol flying in every which direction is a familiar one.

    But the sight of a flying cup of beer didn't phase David Achter de Molen, lead singer of Dutch band John Coffey.

    While crowdsurfing, de Molen spotted the alcoholic projectile, caught it, and drank it in one fairly fluid motion.

    How's that for hand-eye coordination?

    Check it out below, and let us know what you think in the comments and on Facebook! The video also includes a low-motion version of the grab-and-gulp!


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    PRS Guitars is now offering a small batch of guitars with a new inlay pattern: the 30th Anniversary Vine.

    Inspired in part by the PRS Tree of Life inlay designs, the 30th Anniversary Vine inlay is made from Mother of Pearl, Paua and Paua Heart. This inlay is being offered on two electric models: the Custom 22 and the newly reintroduced McCarty.

    “The limited-edition Vine models are where visionary art, superior tonewoods and master craftsmanship meet,” said Jack Higginbotham, president of PRS Guitars.

    “The stunning vine inlay pattern combined with the playability of the Custom 22 and the McCarty make them drop-dead gorgeous, performance-ready tools that no doubt will be popular with guitarists and guitar aficionados alike.”

    The “Vine” Custom 22 features an artist-grade-figured maple top, mahogany back, a 22-fret, 25-inch scale length ‘Pattern’ figured maple neck with rosewood fretboard, Mother of Pearl 30th Anniversary bird inlays with Paua/Paua Heart Vine, Phase III locking tuners and PRS patented tremolo bridge (hybrid hardware). This model comes loaded with 57/08 treble and bass pickups, which provide clarity with a distinctive, warm midrange. The control layout features one volume and one tone control and a PRS five-way blade pickup selector.

    The “Vine” McCarty features an artist grade figured maple top, thick mahogany back for increased resonance, a 22-fret, 25-inch scale length ‘Pattern’ figured maple neck with rosewood fretboard, Mother of Pearl 30th Anniversary bird inlays with Paua/Paua Heart Vine, Phase III locking tuners and PRS stoptail with brass inserts (hybrid hardware). McCarty models feature 58/15 treble and bass pickups paired with one volume and one push/pull tone control and a PRS three-way toggle pickup selector. 58/15 pickups provide a vintage style sound with exceptional clarity and a focused midrange.

    Both “Vine” models are available in the following finishes, all of which include stained maple necks: Faded Whale Blue, Black Gold Burst, Fire Red Burst, Charcoal, Blood Orange, Trampas Green, Makena Blue and Violet Smokeburst.

    The Vine guitars were introduced to PRS dealers and enthusiasts at the company’s 30th Anniversary factory event. No more than 120 30th Anniversary “Vine” guitars will be made, all of which were sold to dealers on the day they were announced.

    For more information, visit the 30th Anniversary “Vine” Custom 22 and 30th Anniversary “Vine” McCarty on prsguitars.com.


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    When Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks announced their intentions to leave the Allman Brothers Band in early 2014, it seemed to most people that the two guitarists were stepping down independently of the rest of the band.

    But as Warren Haynes reveals in the July 2015 issue of Guitar Player, what happened behind the scenes was much more complicated.

    As he told GP's Jimmy Leslie:

    “The way that actually went down is very confusing. During several meetings over about a three-year span, the band decided to call it quits after the 45th anniversary. As it got closer and closer to fruition, at least one band member started getting cold feet—but keeping it together wasn’t a possibility for Derek or I. We had already made plans well beyond the next year or two.

    “It all came about when [Allman Brothers drummer] Butch [Trucks] ‘accidentally on purpose’ told a small group of people on a Jam Cruise that Derek was leaving the band, which was not true. Writers from Relix and Rolling Stone were on the boat. They called ABB manager Bert Holman, who claimed he didn’t know anything about it.

    “ ‘We’ll give you a few days to sort it out,’ they said, ‘but we’re going to have to write something.’

    “ ‘I feel like I’ve got to make a statement either way,’ Derek told me on the phone.

    “ ‘For five or six years we’ve been saying that if one of us left the band, then we would both leave, because neither wants to be there without the other,’ I responded.

    “So we decided to make a joint statement, even though it convoluted the truth that it was a group decision to stop in 2014. It turned into an interpretation that he and I made that decision. People eventually saw so many different statements that nobody knew what to believe.”

    For more of this interview with Haynes—including a discussion of his gear, setups, new solo album Ashes and Dust, the Sco-Mule archival release of a 1999 Gov’t Mule performance with John Scofield and his legacy with the Allmans—check out the July 2015 issue of Guitar Player.

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