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    Idyllic Tillamook County sits on the Oregon Coast. Its lime-green pastures are a popular waypoint for folks hoping to sample fresh cheese made from the delicate milk of celebrity dairy cows. But today, we’re foregoing cheese boards. We’re here in search of sustainable wood to build Bedell Guitars.

    Cyril Jacob greets us at his mill with a jar of homemade honey, stories about bears, advice on how to catch sea-run cutthroat trout “on ever cast” and lots of factoids on maple trees. We mill about the back of the dust-covered log yard. The wind swirls and there’s no refuge from a cyclone of wood particles. Cyril’s running a giant blade thru a magnificent maple log. “This one came from the Wilson River,” he hollers between passes. “There was a big fire up there and it burned so hot the ground turned to glass. The days looked like dusk during that fire. They said that land would never yield another tree.”

    The maple on the belt is gargantuan. Trees such this are often turned into wood chips, pulp, toilet paper or yard cover. Logging operations often leave what they perceive as less desirable specimens to rot on the forest floor. But for a guy like Cyril, every tree holds potential and value. Cyril identifies these gems and meticulously mills the wood, then finds the perfect application, whether for furniture, roofing, or instruments. Some of the sweetest guitars in the world would have been flushed were it not for Cyril’s discerning eye and ethic.

    We inspect the cuts and select a bigleaf maple for the Bedell Earthsong Series. We’re going to honor this beautiful native of the Northwest by turning it into musical instruments, not toilette paper or wood chips. Doing the right thing never sounded better.

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    Louisa Wendorff has been singing since she was seven years old.  In June of 2014 she released Arrow, which climbed to #2 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart, and #1 on Billboard’s HeatSeekers chart.

    However, you probably most recognize her for her YouTube mashup of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space/Style.”  Launched on December 23, 2014 it went viral when Taylor Swift shared it with one word, “OBSESSED.”  Now, with more than 21 million views, it earned Louisa and Devin Dawson a live spot on the E! News Red Carpet at this years Grammy’s.

    Bedell: Do you have one word to sum up the last six months?

    ​Louisa Wendorff: magic.

    ​Bedell: Your video “Blank Space/Style” has had amazing success and even got you a live performance on the Red Carpet at the Grammy’s!  How was that?

    LW: It was completely amazing! I was so grateful to have been apart of such an incredible day and am still in awe that that even happened!

    ​Bedell: How do you come up with the mashups you do?  Do you do the arrangements for them?

    LW: I get inspiration for each one in different ways, and yes I arrange them myself. If I feel like a mashup is close but hit a creative block, I have a few friends I reach out to for input.

    ​Bedell: When you launch an original like “Every Little Thing,” which is beautiful by the way, do you get nervous that people won’t respond as well to your original work as they do your covers?

    LW: Yes, that can be a huge fear of mine. My goal has always been to be an artist singing my own songs. While it’s been completely fabulous getting a fast pass to where I am now, I don’t want to be known as a cover artist. So I definitely get nervous that my fans will only like my covers.  But when it comes down to it, I’m not worried. I have an amazing team in place and have been working day in and out for as long as I can remember, so I’m just excited to see when it all goes from here. 

    ​Bedell: When did you pick up playing the guitar?

    LW: I started playing the guitar when I was a sophomore in high school, so a little over 4 years ago.

    ​Bedell: Parlors are gaining in popularity – why does that body shape appeal to you?

    LW: I am absolutely obsessed with the parlor shape.  It is small just like me so I truly feel like we are just made for each other. Its Louisa sized!

    ​Bedell: You spent quite a bit of time “stalking” the Earthsong Parlor.  What was it about that guitar that spoke to you?

    LW: Stalking is a very accurate word, haha. From the 1st to the 7th time I came to visit my beloved Earthsong, the tone, color of the wood, and size were the definition of perfection to me.  Every time I played it in the store and now wherever I go, it just feels right.  A sense of peace just comes over me when I play.   

    Bedell: And now it seems it’s taken a life of its own.  Many people name their guitars…yours is Baby B.  But it has it’s own Instagram page @BabyBedell?

    LW: Yes it does! Those who know me, know I’m a goof, and having a page for my guitar is so fun. I mean, why not! People make pages for their cats and dogs all the time. And Baby B has it’s own cute little personality so how I could I not? 

    ​Bedell: Any new videos on the horizon we can look forward to?

    LW: Yes! I am planning on releasing a new mashup sometime in April.

    Photo Credit: Blythe Thomas

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    We're so excited to give you an opportunity to enter to win this beautiful guitar from Bedell.

    The Bedell Earthsong Orchestra proves it is possible to create a guitar with incredible tone while honoring a complete commitment to forest stewardship.

    The Earthsong Orchestra is inspired by the beauty and wonder of the American landscape: the streams and deserts, swamps and forests, beaches and valleys, and all the natural wonders that grace this vast and diverse country, from shore to shore.

    The Bedell Earthsong Orchestra isn’t just sustainable, it is also built using only American harvested woods: a salvaged Sitka spruce soundboard, Western bigleaf maple back and sides, an Eastern hard rock maple neck, and a walnut fretboard, bridge and peghead overlay. Bedell craftsmen have achieved unparalleled tone and projection from these plentiful American woods for a truly planet-friendly guitar made from ethically harvested trees.

    The Bedell Earthsong features a nitrocellulose finish with a root-beer burst and includes a workshop-installed K&K DuoTone pickup. All Bedell Guitars come with a hardshell case.

    Find out more about this guitar at http://bedellguitars.com/guitars/earthsong-orchestra

    Bedell Earthsong Orchestrahoriz.jpg

    Enter now between July 1 and July 31, 2015. Offer good in the U.S. only.

    Fill out my online form.

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    Teaser Content: 

    We're so excited to give you an opportunity to enter to win this beautiful guitar from Bedell. The Bedell Earthsong Orchestra proves it is possible to create a guitar with incredible tone while honoring a complete commitment to forest stewardship. Enter now!

    Bedell Earthsong Orchestrahoriz.jpg

    We're so excited to give you an opportunity to enter to win this beautiful guitar from Bedell.

    The Bedell Earthsong Orchestra proves it is possible to create a guitar with incredible tone while honoring a complete commitment to forest stewardship.

    The Earthsong Orchestra is inspired by the beauty and wonder of the American landscape: the streams and deserts, swamps and forests, beaches and valleys, and all the natural wonders that grace this vast and diverse country, from shore to shore.

    The Bedell Earthsong Orchestra isn’t just sustainable, it is also built using only American harvested woods: a salvaged Sitka spruce soundboard, Western bigleaf maple back and sides, an Eastern hard rock maple neck, and a walnut fretboard, bridge and peghead overlay. Bedell craftsmen have achieved unparalleled tone and projection from these plentiful American woods for a truly planet-friendly guitar made from ethically harvested trees.

    The Bedell Earthsong features a nitrocellulose finish with a root-beer burst and includes a workshop-installed K&K DuoTone pickup. All Bedell Guitars come with a hardshell case.

    Find out more about this guitar at http://bedellguitars.com/guitars/earthsong-orchestra

    Offer good in the U.S. only.

    Fill out my online form.
    All entries must be submitted by July 31, 2015.<p><a href="/official_contest_rules">Official Rules and Regulations</a>
    Yes, please add me to the Acoustic Nation mailing list.
    Yes, please share my info with the cool folks at Bedell Guitars.

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    Teaser Content: 

    Here's your chance to win a new Ibanez Gio guitar courtesy of We Came As Romans! Just fill out the entry form below. The band's new self-titled album will be released July 24 via Equal Vision Records. The album, which was produced by David Bendeth, is available for pre-order on <a href="http://merchnow.com/catalogs/we-came-as-romans">MerchNow</a> and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-came-as-romans/id990098479?app=itunes">iTunes.</a>

    Here's your chance to win a new Ibanez Gio GRG121DXBKN guitar courtesy of We Came As Romans! Just fill out the entry form at the very bottom of this story.

    For more about this guitar, visit its page on Ibanez's website.

    The band's new self-titled album will be released July 24 via Equal Vision Records. The album, which was produced by David Bendeth, is already available for pre-order on MerchNow and iTunes. For more about We Came As Romans, visit wecameasromans.com.

    We Came As Romans are on the main stage on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour all summer long! Check out the dates below.

    JULY 01 Nashville, TN – Tennessee State Fairgrounds
    JULY 02 Atlanta, GA – Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood
    JULY 03 St.Petersburg, FL – Vinoy Park
    JULY 04 Miami, FL - Coral Sky Amphitheatre at the South Florida Fairgrounds
    JULY 05 Orlando, FL - Tinker Field
    JULY 06 Jacksonville, FL - Morocco Shrine Auditorium And Grounds
    JULY 07 Charlotte, NC - PNC Music Pavilion
    JULY 08 Virginia Beach, VA - Farm Bureau Live
    JULY 09 Pittsburgh, PA - First Niagara Pavilion
    JULY 10 Philadelphia, PA - Susquehanna Bank Center
    JULY 11 New York, NY - Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheatre
    JULY 12 Hartford, CT - Xfinity Theatre
    JULY 14 Boston, MA - Xfinity Center
    JULY 15 Buffalo, NY - Darien Lake PAC
    JULY 16 Cincinnati, OH - Riverbend Music Center
    JULY 17 Toronto, ON - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
    JULY 18 Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion
    JULY 19 Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center
    JULY 21 Scranton, PA - The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
    JULY 23 Cleveland, OH - Blossom Music Center
    JULY 24 Detroit, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills Parking Lot
    JULY 25 Chicago, IL - First Midwest Bank Amphitheater
    JULY 26 Minneapolis, MN - Canterbury Park
    JULY 27 St. Louis, MO - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
    JULY 28 Milwaukee, WI - Marcus Amphitheatre
    JULY 29 Indianapolis, IN - Klipsch Music Center
    JULY 30 Kansas City, KS - Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
    AUGUST 01 Salt Lake City, UT - Utah State Fairpark
    AUGUST 02 Denver, CO - Pepsi Center Parking Lot
    AUGUST 05 San Diego, CA - Qualcomm Stadium Parking Lot
    AUGUST 07 Portland, OR - Portland Expo Center
    AUGUST 08 Seattle, WA- White River Amphitheater

    All entries must be submitted by July 15, 2015.<p><a href="/official_contest_rules">Official Rules and Regulations</a>
    Please send me the free Guitar World newsletter, with information about our family of magazines and websites, and musical instrument manufacturers.
    Please send me more information from your partners.

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    Although you probably won't see too many "100 Years of Willie Dixon" celebrations online today, we felt we needed to say something about this incredibly important figure in Chicago blues and rock history.

    Dixon, who—as we've implied above—was born July 1, 1915, was primarily a bassist and singer (who also played guitar), but a bassist and singer who happened to write hundreds of incredible, often dark and eerie songs, several of which found their way into the catalogs of the biggest blues and rock artists of the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and beyond.

    These include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Cream (and Eric Clapton), the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Gary Moore, George Thorogood, Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor and Howlin’ Wolf—to name just a few.

    Today we'd like to celebrate Dixon's would-be 100th birthday by pointing out 10 noteworthy covers of his songs. In fact, let's make it 11. I say noteworthy, as opposed to best, because there's simply a staggering amount of recordings to consider (live and studio). Let's just say you can't possibly go wrong with these 11.

    Note that we've tried to include live versions of the songs, because they're a hell of a lot more fun to watch than audio-only YouTube "videos." Dixon died in 1992 at age 76.

    Jeff Beck, "I Ain't Superstitious"

    Although Howlin' Wolf recorded this Dixon tune in 1961, most rock fans made its acquaintance when Jeff Beck covered it on his first solo album, Truth, in 1968.

    The song recounts various superstitions, including a black cat crossing the pathway, so Beck imitates the sound of a cat with his guitar and wah pedal. It's just one of a multitude of sounds Beck can coax out of a guitar. That said, if my cats sounded like this, I'd rush them to the all-night animal hospital ASAP.

    Here's a live version from 2009, 41 years after it appeared on Truth. Beck even got the original vocalist, Rod Stewart, to sing it. That's Tal Wilkenfeld on bass.

    Cream, "Spoonful"

    Just as “Crossroads” introduced a new generation of music fans to the mystique of Robert Johnson, Cream’s “Spoonful” brought exposure to Dixon, who wrote the song, and Howlin’ Wolf, who originally recorded it in 1960.

    And while Howlin’ Wolf’s stark-and-dark version is haunting in its own right, Cream’s take on the song—driven by Clapton’s guitar and Jack Bruce’s heavy bass—moves it several steps further along.

    At Cream’s live shows, “Spoonful” gave the band members plenty of room to stretch out, as can be heard on the nearly 17-minute-long version on Cream’s Wheels of Fire. Below is another great live version, complete with pro-shot footage of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Bruce in action. And just like the second season of F Troop, this video is in color.

    Muddy Waters, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”

    Here's a live version of a powerful Dixon number that Muddy Waters made famous. This live version features Johnny Winter, Otis Blackwell, Eddie "Bluesman" Kirkland, Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards and Foghat, so you know it was filmed in the Seventies, which it was (1978). Let's not forget the Stones' sped-up version of this song, which is enjoyable in its own British way.

    The Doors, "Back Door Man"

    "Back Door Man," a Chicago blues classic, was recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960 and released in 1961 by Chess Records as the B-side to Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle." The Doors got to it a few years later, including it on their eponymous debut album. Doors drummer John Densmore said "Back Door Man" is "deeply sexual and got everyone moving."

    Eric Clapton, "Third Degree"

    When Clapton recorded his intense From the Cradle album, which was hailed as his "return to the blues," he was sure to include several Dixon compositions, including this one, which was co-written by Eddie Boyd. The other two were "Hoochie Coochie Man" and the dramatic and greasy “Groaning the Blues.”

    By the way, in a 2011 GuitarWorld.com poll, From the Cradle was voted Clapton’s fourth-best guitar album, sandwiched between Cream’s Wheels of Fire (Number 5) and Disraeli Gears (Number 3).

    Anyway, check out this fine mid-Nineties live version of "Third Degree" featuring Clapton playing a very nice Gibson. We wish he would play this guitar more often. OK, "we" is me.

    Muddy Waters, "Hoochie Coochie Man"

    This song was recorded or performed by a huge list of name-brand artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Phish, the New York Dolls, Dixon himself, the Allman Brothers Band and more. But the version belongs to Muddy Waters, who initially recorded it in 1954. It became one of Waters' most popular and identifiable songs and helped secure Dixon's role as Chess Records' chief songwriter.

    The Rolling Stones, "Little Red Rooster"

    Can you believe the Stones took this song to Number 1 on the U.K. singles charts in late 1964? I think it's the only time (ever) that a pure blues song has claimed the top spot on the U.K. charts.

    "[This] was [Brian Jones'] masterpiece, his inspired guitar howling like a hound, barking like a dog, crowing like a rooster," said Rolling Stones biographer Stephen Davis. As former Stones bassist Bill Wyman added, "I believe 'Rooster' provided Brian Jones with one of his finest hours."

    Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, "Let Me Love You Baby"

    This upbeat Dixon tune, a highlight of Vaughan's 1989 In Step album, also was covered by Buddy Guy in ancient times. Check out this fan-filmed live version from November 11, 1989, at New York City's Madison Square Garden. I was actually at this show. A drunk guy threw up directly behind me, but my brother and my friend didn't tell me. Good times!

    The Small Faces, "You Need Loving"

    I love including the Small Faces on these lists, because in 2015, they just don't get the love they deserve. I also like what happens at exactly 3:35 in the YouTube player below. Be sure to head to that spot. Does it remind you of anything? Remember it was recorded in 1966.

    When Dixon wrote this tune, it was called "You Need Love." The song was, um, "borrowed" a few times after that.

    Led Zeppelin, "I Can't Quit You Baby"

    Here's the powerful, echo-filled Coda version of Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby" as performed by Led Zeppelin. This is actually one of my favorite officially released Led Zeppelin recordings of all time. I love how Jimmy Page intentionally jumps the gun on the turnaround chords because he knew it would sound exciting if he did. And it did.

    Buddy Guy, "When My Left Eye Jumps"

    Buddy Guy's version of this Dixon/Al Perkins tune features some great singing and guitar playing. It also includes the line: "When my left eye get to jumpin', and my flesh begin to crawl / I know you got some other mule, that's kickin' in my stall." Genius!

    Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City surf-rock band Mister Neutron, writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend, a column dedicated to B-benders. His latest liner notes can be found in Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter and/or Instagram.

    Additional Content

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    Below, behold a video—published to YouTube June 3—that shows the ACPAD in action.

    The ACPAD is being billed as the world's first MIDI controller for acoustic guitars.

    And while we don't yet know a whole heck of a lot about this device, we know it's coming to Kickstarter soon.

    Here are some of its finer points, as finely pointed out by the makers of ACPAD:

    • It supports both Wireless MIDI and USB MIDI connections.
    • It is velocity sensitive with accurate triggering and no noticeable latency.
    • With its own internal rechargeable battery, ACPAD gives you complete freedom. For long studio sessions, it runs perfectly using USB.
    • With presets of two live loopers, effects and sounds using Ableton Live, you get unlimited sound effects.
    • Choose from wood grain, black and white designs. Customizable versions coming soon.

    For further reading, here's a bit of background from the official ACPAD website:

    ACPAD was born out of necessity. A need for flexibility, live stability and creative freedom. Berlin musician Robin Sukroso needed a piece of equipment that would allow him to bring his love of electronic and acoustic music together; that could withstand playing every night, that was easy and intuitive to play, and that could let him explore an entirely new world of sound.

    The ACPAD began as an idea and a desire. After three years of research, development and a lot of trials, the ACPAD is finally ready for the world. Sukroso, along with his partners at IIT Bombay, created a new 2-mm thick interface having no wires or screws, a stick-on wireless MIDI controller that is powered by a rechargeable battery. ACPAD is a device with true portability and tonal versatility.

    The ACPAD allows players to blend both acoustic and electronic sounds with FX and assignable tap pads. Create whatever sound you want with ACPAD. It is strong, flexible and offers a new world of creativity you have been looking for. ACPAD is an electronic orchestra in your hands!

    For more information, visit acpad.com and watch the video below. Stay tuned for more details as we get them!

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  • 07/01/15--08:35: The Top 10 Wedding Songs
  • As a member of a wedding band, you learn some valuable lessons, such as it's not always about you.

    You're on that stage to help fulfill the bride's ideal of a fairy-tale wedding. That means you'll likely be playing some pretty cheesy stuff.

    But that's all right. The job is to keep the guests on the dance floor and singing along to every tune.

    With the following set list in hand, everyone will live happily ever after—or at least until the bar runs dry.

    10. Kool & the Gang, "Celebration"

    This Toyotathon jingle is insipidly gleeful. But if there's "a party going on right here"—like, say, at a wedding reception—chances are good you'll be asked to perform it. Cheer up, though, it could be worse—the bride's mother could demand "The Chicken Dance."

    09. The Carpenters, "We've Only Just Begun"

    This lovely ballad actually started out as a jingle for a bank commercial before Richard Carpenter contacted songwriter Paul Williams and asked him to flesh it out for a single. With lines specifically about weddings ("white lace and promises," etc.), it's now money in the bank for wedding bands.

    08. Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

    Many brides want their wedding day to be an epic pageant, flawless in every detail. Leave it to Jim Steinman, the man behind Meat Loaf, to capture that operatic quality in a power ballad. Forever immortalized in the reception scene of Old School, nothing says "I fuckin' need you more than ever" like this Tyler hit.

    07. The Psychedelic Furs, "Pretty in Pink"

    Ever since John Hughes borrowed this song for his coming-of-age flick of the same name, most people associate it with romance and assume the chorus ("Pretty in pink, isn't she?") is literal. Which makes it fun for wedding bands, considering that the lyrics are actually about a party girl and "pink" is a metaphor for "nude."

    06. KC & the Sunshine Band, "Shake Your Booty"

    It hasn't been cool to like KC & the Sunshine Band since... well... ever. But break into this tune and every single wedding guest will bust out of the disco closet and onto the dance floor. Careful with that tempo, though- today's average booty is quite a bit larger than it was in KC's heyday.

    05. Outkast, "Hey Ya"

    Keep those bodies shake, shake, shakin' like a Polaroid picture with this four-chord wonder. And wear 'em out with a protracted version of the call-and-response section: "Don't make me break this thing down for nothing, ladies!"

    04. Aerosmith, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"

    This Diane Warren-penned power ballad, from 1998, was Steven Tyler and crew's biggest hit in years. It's not exactly rock 'n' roll, but if you're playing a conservative affair, it might be the closest you can get. Hey, if badass Joe Perry can suck it up night after night, so can you.

    03. The Rolling Stones, "Wild Horses"

    The authors of "Under My Thumb,""Stupid Girl" and "Bitch" probably aren't an obvious quarry of wedding material. But you can always give this one a shot: Mick and Keef's rare display of vulnerability will switch on the waterworks every time.

    02. Grand Funk Railroad, "Some Kind of Wonderful"

    A man professing his love for his woman can be a truly touching thing. Or it can be totally embarrassing. You can make it a manly proposition with this rousing R&B tune by Mark Farner and Grand Funk. Unlike Farner, however, you might want to leave your shirt on and forgo the headband.

    01. Neil Diamond, "Sweet Caroline"

    Neil Diamond rules. He wrote hits for the Monkees, perfected the sideburn comb-over, and, if you were born 40 or so years, probably soundtracked your conception—if not fathered you himself. And then there's this anthem, a slam dunk for any wedding band. "Sweet Caroline" will have guests actually believing that "good times never seemed so good." Well, "Sweet Caroline" and an open bar, anyway.

    Additional Content

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    Are you one of the many guitarists who struggle with coordinating their hands and vocals? You know, you can play the song. You can sing the song. But it all goes to pot when you try to do both simultaneously.

    Singing while playing guitar can be a daunting challenge for a beginner. A good sense of timing and rhythm and the ability to synthesize two different actions is necessary to pull it off. But like everything else you've learned to do on the guitar, it can be mastered.

    Here are 11 tips to help get you started:

    01. Apples and…apples! Like a pianist who uses both hands to play two different rhythms concurrently, or a drummer who uses all four limbs working independently, you need to meld your strumming and singing rhythms so that they sound seamless. Playing and singing aren't two separate things.

    02. Simple rhythms, simple rhymes. Don't complicate the task unnecessarily by choosing songs that exceed your skill level. This will only leave you feeling frustrated and defeated. Start off learning easy songs that you like and know well. Songs that only have a few chords, a simple strum pattern and lyrics you can easily remember, like "Happy Birthday." Or you might like to learn a song or two from 10 Famous Songs with Three Chords or Less.

    03. Know your guitar basics. Trying to remember how to finger a B7 chord while playing is going to make singing at the same time virtually impossible. Your guitar playing must be at a level where chord changes are effortless. You need to be so comfortable with your strumming that you don't even have to think about it. This will free you up to concentrate singing.

    04. Practice strumming with a metronome. For better timing and rhythm, practice with a metronome. Although it will feel a bit restrictive at first, a metronome will make you a more consistent player. Spend 10 minutes a day practicing a simple strumming pattern with a metronome, and you'll notice significant improvements in your timing within a few weeks.

    05. Know how to play the song. Play the music on your guitar until you have it memorized and can perform it fluently. One way to tell if you've mastered a song is to play it while reading aloud from a book lying open in front of you, or playing it flawlessly while watching television or carrying on a conversation.

    06. Know how to sing the song. In addition to getting all chord changes down pat, you have to know the tune and lyrics. This may require putting the guitar down for a time in order to focus purely on the singing. Pick a song and memorize the words. Sing it out loud. Sing along with a recording. Sing it in the shower. Sing it to your cat. When you can sing the song without a hitch it's time to sync things up.

    07. Hum first. You may find it helpful to first hum the parts of the melody over your strumming pattern before actually singing them. This will allow you the chance to get used to any chord changes without having to concern yourself with lyrics straight off. Once you get used to humming different parts of the melodies, you'll gradually become comfortable singing it.

    08. Slow down. It's far better to sing and play correctly, albeit slowly, than to be fudging rhythms at full speed. Go through the song measure by measure, line by line, until you can play and sing it all the way through without errors. Speed will come once you iron out all the kinks.

    09. A note on fingerpicking. If you're playing a song that uses fingerpicking, you might find it helpful to take a few steps back to start. First, sing using a simple strum pattern to play the chords. Once you got the song down perfectly this way, move on to a more complex strum pattern, and then ultimately to the original picking pattern.

    10. Changing key. If you find yourself straining to hit a song's notes, try changing the key so that the guitar's tones adapt to your voice. Move the chords up a fret or two. You can transpose a piece to either a lower or a higher pitch. Try singing again until you find a key that suits your voice. You can also change the key by using a capo. This allows you to keep the same fingering as the original.

    11. Practice. Learning to incorporate vocals into your guitar playing takes practice. Even once you have acquired the basic skill, you will be adding more and more songs to your repertoire, some of which may contain awkward combinations of rhythms that can trip you up. When this happens, break the song down into parts and work through the problem areas just like you did when you first learned how to synchronize your playing with your vocals.

    Kathy Dickson writes for the online guitar lesson site GuitarTricks.com.

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    Check out a brand-new Joe Satriani song, "If There Is No Heaven," below.

    The song is from Satriani's forthcoming album, and 15th solo disc, Shockwave Supernova.

    Though the song is an instrumental, Satch says there is an emotional subtext embedded in the music.

    "This is about doubting, doubting everything, including life after death," he told WSJ.com."The intro and outro are soundtracks to feeling lost and adrift. The body of the song reflects how one would struggle to accept such an idea that we are all here; for just a short time and then gone."

    For more about Satriani and the new album, visit satriani.com.

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

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

    And they dress up as maids!

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

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

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

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    Mastering Arpeggios Part 2, an impressive compilation of nine instructional video lessons and tabs by Jimmy Brown, is now available through the Guitar World Lessons Webstore and App.

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

    To celebrate this new release, Guitar World is offering the first Mastering Arpeggios Part 2 lesson, "G Major Seven Arpeggios in Positions," as a FREE download! Note that all nine Mastering Arpeggios, Part 2 lessons are available—as a package—for only $14.99.

    You can watch the trailer for Mastering Arpeggios Part 2 below.

    This new collection is the 90-minute-plus follow-up to Mastering Arpeggios. It introduces and covers everything you need to know about the five essential seventh-chord arpeggio qualities: major seven, dominant seven, minor seven, minor-seven flat-five and diminished seven.

    Again focusing on the popular guitar key of G, your instructor, longtime GW Senior Music Editor Jimmy Brown, presents all possible fretboard positions and two-octave fingering patterns for these arpeggios and shows you ways to transpose them to any other key, either by progressing through the cycle of fourths/fifths or taking each shape you’ve learned and moving up or down the fretboard chromatically (in one-fret increments).

    Jimmy then shows you extended two-notes-per-string “monster” patterns that move diagonally up and across the neck, spanning three octaves. Also covered are the seven diatonic seventh-chord arpeggios that live in the key of G major, demonstrated in all positions, and interval patterns of fourths, fifths, sixths and sevenths applied to the arpeggios. The lesson product concludes with an entertaining performance of an original interpretation and tab arrangement of “Presto” from “Sonata 1 For Solo Violin” by Johann Sebastian Bach, which serves as an effective and musically satisfying practice piece.

    Mastering Arpeggios Part 2 includes:

    Chapter 1 (Part 1): G Major Seven Arpeggios in Positions his first part of Chapter 1 begins with a quick review of the G major scale and G major triad arpeggio, played up and down one string for purposes of illustration. Jimmy then demonstrates all of the fixed-position two-octave fingerings for a G major seven arpeggio between fourth and seventh positions, along the way showing you a bunch of useful “alternate picking shred cells” and a neat application for improvisation—playing Gmaj7 over an E bass note or Em or Em7 chord to create a cool, jazzy Em9 sound.

    Chapter 1 (Part 2): G Major Seven Arpeggios in Positions (continued) This conclusion of Chapter 1 demonstrates all the remaining possible fretboard positions and fingerings for playing G major-seven arpeggios across two octaves, with additional “speed picking cells” presented along the way that reside within the larger patterns. Also covered are patterns in first and second position that combine open strings with fretted notes.

    Chapter 2: G Dominant Seven and Minor Seven Arpeggios in Positions Using all the two-octave G major-seven shapes shown in the previous segment, this chapter shows you how to convert them to G dominant- and minor-seven shapes, by “flatting” the seventh and third. Necessary fingering adjustments are covered, as the shapes morph from major-seven to dominant-seven to minor-seven.

    Chapter 3: G Minor Seven Flat-five and Diminished Seven Arpeggios in Positions Working off of all the G minor-seven shapes presented in the previous chapter, this lesson shows you how to go from minor-seven to minor-seven flat-five to fully diminished-seven, including any necessary fingering adjustments that need to be made to accommodate the lowering of certain notes by one fret.

    Chapter 4: The Circle of Fifths/Fourths and Practicing Drills Before continuing with extended arpeggio shapes and applications, this chapter presents a concise review of what is called the “circle of fifths,” or “circle of fourths,” and demonstrates a couple of easy ways to visually remember the cycle on the fretboard and ways to use it to practice all arpeggio shapes learned thus far in all 12 keys.

    Chapter 5: Two-notes-per-string Patterns This chapter shows you how to take the five seventh-chord arpeggio qualities covered in the previous chapters and expand them into extended “monster” runs that span three octaves by moving diagonally across the fretboard using two notes per string with quick position shifts. Different “launching points” are presented, starting on the root, third, fifth and seventh of any given arpeggio.

    Chapter 6: Diatonic Seventh-chord Arpeggios in G This lesson offers some practical, useful music theory and technical studies by presenting a set of seven different seventh-chord arpeggios that live within the key of G major, consisting of Gmaj7, Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7, Em7 and F#m7b5.

    Chapter 7: Interval Patterns This chapter takes the two-octave shapes for the seven diatonic seventh-chord arpeggios from the previous lesson and shows you how to “scramble” the notes by playing them in melodic patterns of fourth and fifth intervals that have you continually crossing strings, which makes for a great alternate picking workout, as well as some neat sounds.

    Chapter 8: “Presto,” from “Sonata 1 For Solo Violin” by Johann Sebastian Bach This final chapter presents a performance of Jimmy’s own guitar adaptation and fingering arrangement of a beautiful violin piece by legendary classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach called “Presto,” from “Sonata 1 for Solo Violin.”

    For more information, visit the Guitar World Lessons Webstore and download the App now.

    Additional Content

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    It's time for another edition of Betcha Can't Play This!

    Welcome a new Betcha Can't Play This guitarist—Elliott Klein—and his first lick, a bit of Eric Johnson-inspired blues shred in A minor.

    As with the other new "Betcha Can't Play This" videos, this is an expanded version of the usually brief "Betcha" videos on GuitarWorld.com.

    Also, note that there are no tabs, since Klein explains key left- and right-hand techniques in the clip.

    For other recent Betcha Can't Play This columns, check out Betcha Can't Play This: Guitarist Ethan Brosh Lays Down the Challenge and Betcha Can't Play This: Diminished Madness with Guitarist Ethan Brosh. You'll find more under RELATED CONTENT, below the photo.

    For more from Klein, check out his lessons on guitarworld.com.

    As always, good luck! We have more on the way!

    Additional Content

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    This month our former fearless leader Brad Tolinski is conducting a career-spanning live interview with Joe Satriani in front of a studio audience.

    And now you can enter to win a pair of tickets to be present at this epic live event.

    Produced by BackStory, this exclusive interview event takes place in New York at AOL Studios on the launch date of Satriani’s new album, Shockwave Supernova. Attendees will get to meet Joe and will each get an autographed CD.

    Complimentary beverages will be provided by Lagunitas Brewery and more.

    Enter before July 8 to win a pair of tickets here>

    And check out a sneak peek from Satriani’s Shockwave Supernova below.

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    Save big for Independence Day!

    Take 35 percent off everything at the Guitar World Online Store!

    Just be sure to use code 35FOURTH15 at checkout.

    Once again, that's 35FOURTH15.

    This sale ends 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 5, 2015, so head to the Guitar World Online Store now!

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    In the Eighties, radical fingerstylists like Michael Hedges and Preston Reed pioneered an acoustic guitar style based on an alternate-tuned, percussion-heavy, new age–tinged sound.

    Kaki King explored it further in the new millennium beginning with her 2002 debut, Everybody Loves You.

    Some people have dubbed the style “progressive acoustic guitar,” while others prefer “modern fingerstyle.”

    Jon Gomm, one of its latest (and most popular) exponents, has even heard it referred to as banging, due to its practitioners’ tendency to rap, slap and knock their hands against the body of an acoustic guitar for percussive effect.

    Whatever you call it, there’s no doubt that this genre of acoustic guitar–based music is experiencing a major resurgence, thanks to the internet. In 2006, an unassuming-looking acoustic guitar teacher from Topeka, Kansas, named Andy McKee uploaded to YouTube a handful of videos of himself playing some original and incredibly complex instrumental acoustic guitar compositions.

    Among the many techniques he employed in these performances was the use of unique alternate tunings, percussive knocks, two-handed tapping, over-the-fretboard playing, partial capos and natural and artificial harmonics. One video in particular, for a propulsive yet ethereal tune called “Drifting,” became one of YouTube’s first viral sensations—likely because it was both melodically appealing and visually stunning—and racked up millions of views on the then-new site.

    McKee has since become the figurehead of this style of playing, and scores of exceptionally talented guitarists have followed in his wake. Many of them, such as French-Canadian fingerstylist Antoine Dufour and British picker Mike Dawes, have recorded for the Wisconsin-based independent imprint CandyRat Records, which has become known as the leading purveyor of this music.

    Like McKee, Dufour and Dawes have found much success online, partly through elaborate solo reimaginings of full-band songs, in which they recreate rhythm, lead and vocal parts on acoustic guitar. (Dawes’ version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Dufour’s take on Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” have respectively registered 2.8 and 1.5 million YouTube views.)

    One of the newest and brightest entries in this realm is Daryl Kellie [pictured above], who created an online stir with an elegantly arranged version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

    Then there is Britain’s Jon Gomm, who employs a dizzying combination of extended techniques that explore the outermost reaches of the acoustic guitar. Gomm tends to play in a fluid, eight-finger, above-the-fretboard manner, and seemingly manipulates every bit of his instrument, knocking his hand against the guitar’s top, back, sides and the fretboard, scratching his nails across bridge pins, twisting tuning pegs mid-song, and using an assortment of pickups and pedals.

    Like many of his peers, he has found his greatest success on YouTube, after his signature song, “Passionflower,” went viral in 2012.

    That the online world has proved to be a vital forum for these artists is understandable, given that there is an uncharacteristically prominent visual component to what they do. Each musician’s playing style is a marvel of not only creativity and ability but also coordination. “There’s a pretty interesting visual aspect to it, with all the wild techniques,” McKee says, “which is one of the reasons I think YouTube has been such a great arena to showcase the music.”

    Guitar World recently caught up individually with McKee, Gomm and Kellie to discuss their unique approaches to the acoustic guitar, as well as how each cultivated his impressive technique and style. Interestingly, they all share not only a love for Michael Hedges and his ilk but also a background in heavy-metal guitar. Says Gomm, “This new acoustic movement is almost like the unplugged version of shred.”

    Adds McKee, “I think what ties the two together is the complexity of the music. When all of us guys were first getting into the guitar and wanting to learn these different techniques, metal music was the place to go, because you had guitarists doing unbelievable things on their instruments. In a way, we’ve now transferred some of that over to the acoustic.”

    Andy McKee

    Perhaps no musician better represents the new progressive acoustic guitar movement than Andy McKee. The 34-year-old is so much the face of the scene that some call this form of music “ ‘Drifting’-style guitar,” a reference to his most famous composition, which has notched almost 50 million YouTube views since its 2006 debut.

    At the time, McKee was giving guitar lessons around his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, and recording for CandyRat. “[CandyRat label head] Rob Poland had this idea to shoot some performance videos for this new web site called YouTube,” he recalls. “He thought, Maybe we’ll get a few new fans. So we filmed, like, eight videos in one day and put them up.”

    One of them, “Drifting,” went viral after being featured on YouTube’s homepage, and McKee became an online phenomenon. Soon, he was accepting offers to tour with Tommy Emmanuel and record with Josh Groban.

    “I went from teaching guitar in Kansas to playing guitar all over the planet,” he says. “Which is what I always wanted to do.”

    Amazingly, “Drifting” is the first song McKee ever wrote in the style with which he has become so closely associated. He composed it when he was 18, just two years after hearing the percussive-heavy instrumental acoustic guitar work of Preston Reed.

    “When I was 16, my cousin took me to see Preston at a guitar workshop here in Kansas,” he recalls. “At the time, I was playing electric guitar and was way into Pantera and Dream Theater and Iron Maiden. Then I saw Preston and he was doing all these amazing things with just one acoustic. It blew my mind. I wanted to figure out how he was able to cover melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas all at once.”

    McKee also cites fingerstylists like Don Ross, Billy McLaughlin and Michael Hedges as primary influences. Of all his acoustic contemporaries, McKee’s style most closely mirrors that of Hedges, in both his use of the guitar’s body to add percussive elements and his tendency to create lush, harmonically rich soundscapes using altered tunings and droning open strings. On occasion, he plays a double-neck harp guitar, an instrument popularized by, and closely associated with, Hedges.

    Since the success of “Drifting,” McKee has become a force in the acoustic world. A few years back he created a tour called Guitar Masters, a sort of G3 for the acoustic set. He also performs upward of 100 dates each year on his own, and sometimes in front of enormous audiences, such as when John Petrucci invited him to open some arena gigs for Dream Theater in the U.S., Mexico and the Far East.

    Equally thrilling, and even more unexpected, in 2012 McKee received an offer to join Prince for a series of shows in Australia.

    “He watched some of my videos, and one in particular, ‘Rylynn,’ [See the video above] really stood out to him,” McKee says. “He invited me to Minneapolis to jam with him and his band, and from there he brought me out on tour. And it was amazing. I would start the shows with an acoustic arrangement of ‘Purple Rain,’ and during Prince’s set I’d sit in with him and his band and we’d do a medley of his songs.”

    As for his own music, McKee has released a series of well-received albums, including his most recent, 2010’s Joyride. He also continues to seek out new avenues to explore with his own music.

    To that end, his new Razor & Tie–issued EP, Mythmaker, features not only his distinct acoustic guitar playing but also a solo piano piece and an electric guitar–and-synth composition. “I’m trying some different things out and letting inspiration take me wherever it does,” McKee says. “I don’t feel like I have to write the next amazing acoustic-guitar song necessarily—I just want to write the next amazing piece of music.”

    Andy McKee Axology
    GUITARS Michael Greenfield G4.2 (fanned fret), Michael Greenfield G2B and G4B.2 (fanned fret) baritone, Michael Greenfield HG1.2 harp guitar
    PICKUPS K&K Pure Mini
    EFFECTS None
    CAPOS Shubb S1 and S5 Deluxe (banjo)
    PREAMP D-TAR Solstice

    Jon Gomm

    A few years back, Leeds, England–based singer-songwriter Jon Gomm was just another guitarist—albeit one with a devastatingly advanced extended technique—trying to carve out a musical career by gigging extensively across Europe.

    Then his life was changed by a single word: in early 2012, British actor and comedian Stephen Fry sent out a tweet consisting of “Wow” and a link to a video of Gomm playing his song “Passionflower” live.

    Today, that video has close to 6 million views, and Gomm has become one of the most talked-about players in the acoustic guitar scene, with fans ranging from David Crosby to Steve Vai to Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe.

    One look at any of Gomm’s many videos makes it easy to see why his playing has caused such waves. On the main melody of “Passionflower,” for example, he builds an entrancing and hypnotic rhythm pattern by, among other things, scratching, banging and knocking the body of his guitar, a Lowden he calls Wilma.

    He sounds notes, including harp harmonics, exclusively using eight-finger tapping and with both hands positioned over the fretboard, and he continually reaches behind the headstock to retune his two highest strings as they ring out, to create a synth-like effect. To top it off, he sings over the whole thing.

    But despite the practically acrobatic nature of his playing, Gomm insists that his music is not a gimmick. “Every song has to have a meaning and connect with people emotionally,” says the 36-year-old guitarist, who actually composes his lyrics first and adds instrumentation afterward. “And you can’t make that connection just by doing gymnastics.” He adds that his favorite thing about playing in this style is that “there are no boundaries. I can think in any genre I want and try to put that into the music.”

    Gomm has played many genres over the years. Early on, he schooled himself using Steve Vai’s instructional book Shred Extravaganza and later studied at the Guitar Institute in London and earned a jazz degree from the Leeds College of Music.

    Thanks to his father’s career as a record and concert reviewer for a British newspaper, he received first-hand tips and pointers as a teenager from a famous players, including B.B. King, bluesman Walter Trout and the late steel-guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman, whom he credits with turning him onto the idea of using the guitar as a percussion instrument.

    “He would flip his guitar over and play drum solos on the back of the body, which was mind blowing to me,” Gomm says. “I also had a guitar teacher who was great at flamenco, and percussive playing is a big part of that style. So while a guy like Michael Hedges was huge for me, it was probably less for the percussion thing and more for his amazing way with altered tunings.”

    Altered tunings are a big part of Gomm’s style as well. For him, it serves as a way to further unleash his creativity. “I went to guitar school, and I learned a million scales,” he says. “But if I take the guitar and just twist a few pegs, all of a sudden everything is new. Sometimes the most creative thing you can do is tune your guitar wrong and let your ears, rather than your brain, do the work.”

    Gomm also pushes his creative boundaries by using banjo pegs on his B and high E strings. The pegs can be set to toggle between two notes, allowing players to loosen and tighten a string’s tension to hit distinct pitches at will.

    The effect, as demonstrated by Gomm on songs like “Passionflower” and “Telepathy” (both of which appear on Secrets Nobody Keeps), is similar to bending a note on an electric guitar or playing with a synthesizer’s pitch wheel. On another composition, “Hey Child,” which features an overdrive-laced shredding solo, he uses the banjo pegs to create dive-bomb-like whammy-bar effects.

    “You can get really creative with them and bring your sound into so many different worlds,” Gomm says.

    Which, essentially, is how he feels about this acoustic guitar style. “There’s just so much you can do,” he says. “When I pick up an electric guitar now, it feels like a toy. The acoustic feels so much more powerful and free to me. It’s a beast of an instrument.”

    Jon Gomm Axology
    GUITAR Lowden O12-C (“Wilma”)
    PICKUPS Fishman Rare Earth Blend, Fishman Acoustic Matrix
    STRINGS Newtone signature super-heavy gauge (.014–.068)
    EFFECTS Three Boss PQ-3B Bass Parametric Equalizers, Boss OC-3 Super Octave, Boss DD-7 Digital Delay, Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb, Tech 21 SansAmp Character Series Blond, Line 6 Verbzilla, Line 6 Echo Park
    AMP Trace Elliot TA 200

    Daryl Kellie

    In contrast to many of his contemporaries in the progressive fingerstyle world, Daryl Kellie’s musical proclivities and background lean more toward jazz and classical forms rather than the ethereal, percussive-heavy approach of Hedges and Reed.

    Which, in a sense, made Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” an ideal showcase for the 30-year-old’s abilities as a solo guitar arranger and performer.

    Kellie’s interpretation of the song is remarkably evocative of the original, with the guitarist employing complex chords, tapping, hammer-ons and plenty of harmonics (both natural and artificial), to great effect.

    Explains Kellie, “I’ve always come at this from a jazz-fingerstyle guitar angle, and the classical guitar thing is something I’ve always kept up as well. With that in mind, something like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is in a way similar to the kind of very dense arrangements you often find in classical guitar music. So arranging the song came pretty naturally to me.”

    In general, most any style of playing seems to come naturally to Kellie, who began his guitar life as a hard rock and metal fan.

    Growing up in Hampshire, England, he was an avowed acolyte of shredders like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Eddie Van Halen (“I actually snapped the whammy bar off my Fender Squier trying to learn ‘Eruption,’ ” he says), and in his late teens he toured Britain as the lead guitarist in a “proggy, gothy” metal band named Season’s End.

    At the same time, he began cultivating an interest in jazz and classical solo guitar, studying the playing of everyone from Joe Pass to Lenny Breau (from whom he cultivated his skillful harp-harmonic technique) to Martin Taylor, who also served as his guitar teacher for a time.

    Then, in his early twenties, Kellie’s older brother gave him a copy of Andy McKee’s 2005 CandyRat effort, Art of Motion, which includes the songs “Drifting” and “Rylynn.” Recalls Kellie, “I thought it was amazing. I was already getting into the solo guitar thing through my jazz studies, so to see what Andy and some of the other CandyRat artists were doing, with the percussive element and all the interesting techniques, it felt like the next frontier. It was a style of guitar that seemed to be all encompassing, like you could go anywhere with it.”

    Kellie threw himself wholeheartedly into this new style, and in 2010 he self-released his first EP, Don’t Expect Much and You Won’t Be Disappointed. But it is his growing online catalog of inventively arranged cover songs that has been garnering him the most attention.

    Exclusive Video Lesson: "Bohemian Rhapsody" Tutorial by Daryl Kellie

    A quick search on YouTube brings up videos of Kellie tackling songs in a variety of genres, from rock classics like the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” and the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” to Tetris and Super Mario Bros video-game music and pop hits like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” which appears, along with “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Kellie’s new, self-released full-length effort, Wintersong.

    “I like the idea of doing something that’s unexpected,” he explains. “If it’s the first time someone’s been to one of my gigs, they might be like, ‘Is that freakin’ Beyoncé that he’s playing?’ And I also want to show that these are great songs and there’s some interesting things going on in them.”

    The success of his “Bohemian Rhapsody” arrangement has inspired Kellie to create more covers. “I’ve been considering some Nirvana arrangements, using lots of artificial harmonics and that type of thing,” he says. “And it’d be fun to do something really ‘outside,’ like a Megadeth song, perhaps.”

    Ultimately, his goal is to keep pushing his acoustic-guitar technique into new realms. “I want to continue to learn and try new things,” he says. “I would love to incorporate techniques like tapping and harp harmonics into jazz and jazz improvisation pieces, which I don’t feel is done very much, particularly on the acoustic. I think that would be really interesting.”

    Daryl Kellie Axology
    GUITARS Gibson L-50, Taylor 810 custom, 110ce and 310ce
    PICKUPS Fishman Rare Earth Blend
    EFFECTS Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb Nano, Boss RC-30 Loop Station
    PREAMP BBE Acoustimax

    Photo (Daryl Kellie): Alex Flahive

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    Well, we've come to the halfway point of the year—and then some.

    It's time to look back at what has, so far, been a strong year for music, one in which the guitar has been pushed to new creative peaks on new albums in an array of genres.

    From Sleater-Kinney's nervy punk to JD McPherson's fierce roots rock to Periphery's always-impressive technical metal, the guitar has had quite a year already. And forget we have another six months of releases coming our way. You'll find those in our year-end-wrap-up stories in December.

    On that note, let's have a look at 30 of the year's best albums (so far).

    NOTE: This list is presented in alphabetical order, not from worst to best or best to worst. So there's no order of preference. Enjoy!

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    Here's a brand-new edition of Betcha Can't Play This featuring Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss, who recently visited Guitar World HQ.

    Last time, she played a Descending Legato Lick. This time, she demonstrates a lick from her solo spotlight section from her shows with Cooper.

    As with the other new "Betcha Can't Play This" videos, this is an expanded version of the usually brief "Betcha" videos on GuitarWorld.com.

    Also, note that there are no tabs, since Strauss explains key left- and right-hand techniques in the clip.

    For other recent Betcha Can't Play This columns, check out Betcha Can't Play This: Guitarist Ethan Brosh Lays Down the Challenge and Betcha Can't Play This: Diminished Madness with Guitarist Ethan Brosh.

    As always, good luck! We have more on the way!

    Additional Content

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    In this new edition of Betcha Can't Play This, guitarist Ethan Brosh demonstrates his way of playing cascading harmonics.

    You'll notice this video is much longer than the typical Betcha Can't Play This video, since it goes into greater left- and right-hand detail—and into greater detail across the board. You'll also notice there's no tab included (Again, the longer video explains the fret positions and a whole lot more).

    For two other Betcha Can't Play This columns by Brosh, check out Betcha Can't Play This: Guitarist Ethan Brosh Lays Down the Challenge and Betcha Can't Play This: Diminished Madness with Guitarist Ethan Brosh. You'll find a third one under RELATED CONTENT, below the photo.

    For more about Brosh, visit ethanbrosh.com.

    As always, good luck! We have more on the way!

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    Drew Holcomb has had a busy year since the release of his latest album Medicine, but we were lucky enough catch up with the Nashville native between tour dates for this live session.

    Finding a shady spot under a tree to escape the simmering late June sun, here he performs one of the album's standout tracks, “Tightrope.”

    Recorded after a decade of touring with this band, The Neighbors, Holcomb calls Medicine“by far the best music we have ever made.”

    He continues, “Music has always had a medicinal quality to me, and that’s why I started writing songs and touring in the first place.”

    “Tightrope” is a perfect example of a Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors track – there’s a familiar warmth that pulls you in, like a song you’ve always known.

    “Our music is simple and heartfelt, built to inhabit people’s day to day lives, like so many of the records I have loved over the long haul in my own life,” Holcomb says.

    Check out “Tightrope” below, and find out more at www.drewholcomb.com. Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors hit the road with NeedtoBreathe this July and August.

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