Articles on this Page
- 07/02/15--09:09: _Smooth Jazz Version...
- 07/02/15--09:33: _Stevie Ray Vaughan,...
- 07/02/15--10:23: _Jerry Garcia’s Tige...
- 07/02/15--11:22: _Pettyjohn Electroni...
- 07/05/15--08:43: _Hole Notes: The Aco...
- 07/05/15--08:58: _Tab Book: Learn the...
- 07/05/15--08:59: _With 'Workingman’s ...
- 07/05/15--09:21: _Touch of Grey: Grat...
- 07/06/15--08:15: _'SNL' Guitarist Jar...
- 07/06/15--08:17: _Exclusive Studio To...
- 07/06/15--10:15: _Not Fade Away: Grat...
- 07/06/15--11:31: _"Battle of the Best...
- 07/06/15--11:44: _Eddie Van Halen on ...
- 07/06/15--12:07: _Orange Amplificatio...
- 07/06/15--13:12: _Martin Guitar to In...
- 07/06/15--13:26: _Metallica's Kirk Ha...
- 07/06/15--13:54: _Talkin’ Blues with ...
- 07/06/15--14:16: _Classical Cellist T...
- 07/07/15--09:14: _Mark Tremonti Lesso...
- 07/07/15--10:11: _The GAS Man: How to...
- 07/02/15--09:09: Smooth Jazz Version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman"— Video
- 07/05/15--08:58: Tab Book: Learn the 'Best of Scorpions,' Note for Note
- 07/06/15--11:31: "Battle of the Best Female Guitarists in the World"— Video
- 07/06/15--13:12: Martin Guitar to Introduce Four New Models at 2015 Summer NAMM
- 07/06/15--14:16: Classical Cellist Tina Guo Covers Slayer's "Raining Blood"— Video
- 07/07/15--09:14: Mark Tremonti Lesson: How to Play “Another Heart” — Video
- 07/07/15--10:11: The GAS Man: How to Upgrade Your Rig for 25 Cents
Today we bring you a very well-done smooth jazz version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman."
The video, which was created and posted a few Februarys ago, is the handiwork of YouTube user Andy Rehfeldt, who adds:
"All instruments were arranged, played and recorded by me. YouTube doesn't pay me anything, so please Buy me a Beer!
Whether or not you buy Rehfeldt a drink, be sure to check out this video!
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
In honor of this week's holiday, I originally—and simply—wanted to share a grainy, vintage video of my all-time favorite guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in ancient times.
But then I noticed Steve Vai's particularly awesome version of the song ... and Yngwie Malmsteen's recent version ... and Eric Johnson's version—and then I found versions by Slash and Dave Mustaine ... and, of course, there's the granddaddy of them all, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.
So I figured the more, the merrier! I could've kept on going (There's always Cliff Burton's version, and a commenter mentioned Neal Schon), but I think eight versions of the same song gets the point across, and this represents a nice mix of styles.
Feel free to complain, compare and contrast! Enjoy your holiday!
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
Note: This video needs to be edited!
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World.
This weekend, the Grateful Dead will reunite for what is being billed as their final concerts.
From July 3 through 5, guitarists Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, and drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart will reunite, along with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, for three shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the site of the band’s last concert with legendary Dead cofounder Jerry Garcia on July 9, 1995.
With Grateful Dead’s last stand on the horizon, we thought this was a good time to celebrate the genius of Garcia, that band’s heart and soul.
We could talk about Jerry’s playing, but instead we want to look at a pair of instruments that were near and dear to him: the Doug Irwin creations Tiger and Rosebud. These were the last two guitars Garcia played onstage, when he made what would be his final performance 20 years ago at Soldier Field.
In 1972, Garcia began a long association with Irwin when he purchased a guitar called Eagle from the luthier. Garcia liked the guitar so much that he placed a custom order with Irwin. That guitar—dubbed Wolf, for the cartoon wolf sticker Garcia had originally applied below its bridge—was completed in 1973. When Garcia went to pick it up, he was so impressed by it that he placed an order for another custom guitar before leaving.
Wolf became Garcia’s main instrument for the next four years, during which time he asked Irwin to make several modifications, including a buffered effect loop that let him wire his effect pedals to the guitar and bypass them with a switch. Eventually, though, Wolf was replaced by the guitar that Garcia had ordered back in 1973, when he’d received Wolf. That guitar was Tiger, which he received in July 1979.
Garcia had given Irwin total freedom with Tiger, and he was not disappointed. The guitar was beautiful, with contrasting layers of tone woods, including cocobolo, maple and vermillion. Detailed pearl inlays on the body’s back and fretboard heightened the guitar’s status as a work of art.
But Tiger was also a testament to Irwin’s technical innovation. The guitar’s coil-tap switches, five-position pickup selector, unity gain buffer, effect loop and other controls gave Garcia the freedom to craft a broad range of tones from the DiMarzio pickups, which included Dual Sound humbuckers in the middle and bridge positions and an SDS-1 in the neck (the Dual Sounds were replaced in 1982 with DiMarzio Super IIs).
“There are 12 discrete possible voices that are all pretty different,” Garcia said of Tiger’s electronics. That tonal power is the reason Tiger was his main guitar for the next 11 years, a continuous run longer than that of any other guitar Garcia played.
Rosebud was Tiger’s replacement, and Garcia considered it to be Irwin’s masterpiece. While it bore similarities to Tiger, it featured a very different complement of electronic components. These included three humbuckers and a Roland GK-2 hexaphonic guitar synth pickup. Irwin mounted the GK-2’s MIDI and synth controls on the guitar for ease of use. The guitar also had hollow body cavities that reduced its weight by two pounds.
Rosebud’s MIDI features were key to its versatility. Garcia had begun using guitar synths in the Eighties when he installed a Roland hexaphonic pickup on his Wolf guitar. In Rosebud, Garcia finally had one instrument with all the features he’d sought, allowing him to play a broad range of guitar tones as well as external sounds via MIDI.
Rosebud was eventually succeeded by a replica of Tiger called Lightning Bolt, built by luthier Stephen Cripe. The guitar takes its name from the Grateful Dead lightning bolt, which adorns the cover plate below the bridge. But when it came time for the Dead to play Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995—Garcia’s last gig with the group—Lightning Bolt was in the shop for repairs. In its place was Rosebud. When the guitar began to suffer technical problems midway through the show, Garcia pulled out Tiger, playing his last notes onstage with the guitar that had been with him longer than any other instrument.
Pettyjohn Electronics has announced the PettyDrive Deluxe, a studio-grade dual-channel analog overdrive pedal that's engineered to deliver the powerful tone and dynamic feel of boutique tube amps pushed to the edge of breakup.
The two fully independent channels are uniquely voiced to compliment each other and provide a wide range of sounds that range from thick, saturated American iron and growl to harmonically rich British-like chime.
Only the highest-possible quality audiophile components are used to ensure the lowest noise, years of reliability and the most articulate tone possible. The PettyDrive is a serious tool for tone, built for the modern working guitarist in mind with a balance of advanced tone shaping features, general ease-of-use and tone that truly inspires.
MSRP: $399 (Deluxe, pictured), $317 (Standard)
• Hot-Rodded Chrome Knobs
• Professional Studio-Grade Discrete Opamp Input Buffer Chip
• Channel 2 is equipped with all Burr-Brown chips for maximum clarity and transparency.
• Silver Nameplate
• Two Fully Independent, Stackable Overdrive Circuits
• Channel 1/2 Order Flip
• Unique Parallel Effects Loop on Channel 2 for New Pedal Combinations
• Available with Standard or Deluxe Chip Set
• Built with Highest Possible Quality, Audiophile Components for Excellent Reliability and Performance
• Symmetrical Control Layout
• Always-On Studio Grade Input Buffer for Zero-Loss Bypassed Tone
• Internal True-Bypass Switching
• Internal Charge Pump for Extra High Headroom
• Easily Powered by Standard Pedal Power 9v-15v DC (-)
• Current Draw: 100 mA
• Cool Red Jewel Light Indicators
• Made in the USA
• Channel 1: Chime Drive
• A unique preamp circuit that can be configured as a Boost or Low Gain Drive
• Tilt EQ tone knob with Orange Drop Filter Caps for Sweet Tone Shaping
• 3-Way Clipping/Headroom Mini-Toggle
• 3-Way Low Cut Mini-Toggle
• Use Independently or Stack with Channel 2
• Channel 2: Iron Drive
• Low to Medium Gain Overdrive voiced for Thick, Smoothly Saturated Tone
• Clean Mix Knob for Enhanced Feel and Dynamics
• Parallel Effects Loop for Combining Other Pedals in Totally New Ways!!
• 3-Way Clipping Mini-Toggle gives access to Asymmetrical Silicone, LED and MOSFET clipping sections, Chosen for Their Unique Tonal Qualities.
• 3-Way Low Cut Mini-Toggle
• High-Cut Tone Knob for Taming Harsh High Frequencies
Jerry Garcia is best known as the lead guitar player and primary singer/songwriter of the Grateful Dead.
Though they are regarded as pioneers of the “jam band” genre that rose to prominence in the late Sixties, the Grateful Dead, unlike many of their counterculture contemporaries, never faltered with the changing times.
Up until Garcia’s passing in 1995, they toured tirelessly, followed on the road by their loyal Deadhead fans for months—or years—on end.
The Dead (as the surviving members rechristened themselves in 2003) still thrive, honoring Garcia’s memory with shows that feature superpickers like Jimmy Herring and/or Warren Haynes playing in Garcia’s place.
This month, I want to honor Jerry with an examination of his funky bluegrass- and folk-tinged acoustic passages, all of which take place in open position.
Garcia’s bluegrass influences—he was a huge fan of Doc Watson and Arthur Smith—inform his tasty picking on “Ripple” (American Beauty), which inspires FIGURE 1, a passage comprising melody (notes coinciding with accent marks, “>”) and strums of fragmented open G, C and D chords.
Garcia really cut his teeth on this style in the early-to-mid Sixties with Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions (the latter of which morphed into the Grateful Dead in 1965). In this example, as you hold each chord shape, alternate-pick swing eighth notes, hitting the strings in the prescribed rhythm. The majority of non-open-string melody notes can be fretted with the middle finger.
In 1972, Jerry released his first solo album, Garcia. Many of the album’s tracks, including “Bird Song,” which informs FIGURE 2, found a permanent home in the Grateful Dead’s set lists. “Bird Song” showcases Garcia’s funky, syncopated approach to playing, as its groovy strums (bars 1 and 3) and single-note riffs (bars 2 and 4) indicate. (Note that most of these riffs are derived from arpeggiated C, G and D chords.)
To cop the intended feel of this passage, play with a “bouncy” 16th-note swing feel, and be sure to heed the 16th-note rests (don’t play each time you see the symbol that first appears during beat three in bar 1).
Though the traditional blues “Deep Elem Blues,” similar to what’s shown in FIGURE 3, had been a Grateful Dead concert staple since 1966, they never recorded it until their live acoustic release, Reckoning, in 1981. Played on the bottom three strings, this riff is essentially a supercharged blues boogie pattern—a guitaristic adaptation of “boogie-woogie” blues piano accompaniment, coupling a root-fifth power chord with additional tones (usually the sixth and flat-seventh).
These are played on higher strings in alternation with the chord’s fifth. Garcia takes this framework and funks up the joint with a slinky 16th-note groove, squeezing out numerous variations as the form unfolds (refer to the original recording). For another classic “Jerry” interpretation of this track (and “Ripple”), check out Almost Acoustic, the first of a pair of releases by the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band.
A new tab book, Best of Scorpions, is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.
The book features note-for-note transcriptions with tab for 14 favorites from these Hanover hard rockers.
It includes their mega-hit “Rock You like a Hurricane” plus:
• Big City Nights
• Coming Home
• I Can't Explain
• Loving You Sunday Morning
• No One like You
• Passion Rules the Game
• Rhythm of Love
• Send Me an Angel
• Still Loving You
• Wind of Change
• The Zoo
What a difference a year makes. In February 1969, the Grateful Dead recorded a series of shows at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West in the hope of finally capturing on tape the psychedelic alchemy of their already legendary onstage interplay.
The double album Live Dead, released in November that year, showcased the Dead at their adventurous and exploratory acid-peak best and cemented their reputation as the premier jamming band of the era.
Yet exactly one year later, in February 1970, the group ambled into a recording studio and, in a single week, cut an album that was Live Dead’s polar opposite.
With its concise songs, bright harmonies and folk and country trimmings, Workingman’s Dead felt almost like the work of a completely different band—a stylistic shift as radical as when the Beatles followed Rubber Soul with Revolver.
It was made with little overt commercial intent, but Workingman’s Dead instantly became the best-selling album of the Dead’s five-year career, and it set the band on a course that would eventually make it one of the most popular acts America ever produced, with a devoted fan base second to none.
Until Workingman’s Dead, the Grateful Dead’s studio output had been largely ignored by the record-buying public. That album’s immediate predecessor, Aoxomoxoa, released in June 1969, was a carefully crafted effort full of intricately arranged songs brimming with playful, colorful and at times impenetrable lyrics dense with hallucinatory imagery.
The recording sessions were long and expensive, and though the album contained a few future Dead classics—most notably “St. Stephen” and “China Cat Sunflower”—in the end it never really found a wide audience. Compared to the group’s live performances, it felt stiff and mannered.
Live Dead addressed that dilemma beautifully and was still picking up steam in the winter and spring of 1970, winning new converts to the Dead’s uniquely trippy mélange, when suddenly a completely different-sounding Grateful Dead started popping out of a million radios. The song was “Uncle John’s Band,” and instead of molten electric guitars and bass in epic flight over the crashing and cracking drums and cymbals of two percussion powerhouses, the song had a warm and intimate acoustic glow.
The voices of guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh rose in bright harmony, and lyricist Robert Hunter’s words exuded a gentle homespun wisdom: “Well, the first days are the hardest days/Don’t you worry any more/’Cause when life looks like easy street/There is danger at your door…”
Could this really be the notoriously off-key-singing and lyrically opaque Grateful Dead?
It was, and much of the rest of the album that “Uncle John’s Band” kicked off, Workingman’s Dead, reinforced the group’s apparent transformation from blazing psychedelic astronauts to rootsy troubadours steeped in folk and country music. The infectious country-rock anthem “Casey Jones”— famous for its daring chorus: “Driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed”—would follow “Uncle John’s Band” as an FM radio hit that year, and both the rollicking country-bluegrass-rock fusion “Cumberland Blues” and the simmering rocker “New Speedway Boogie” were also popular radio numbers. After years of fringe success, the Dead had truly entered the rock mainstream.
It was not, however, an overnight change in direction for the band.
For one thing, the Dead already had strong roots in folk and country. In his pre-Dead days, Garcia had been in a succession of acoustic groups that played old-time country, bluegrass and traditional folk music, and Weir had been a fan of the popular folkies of the early Sixties, like the Kingston Trio and Joan Baez, and also learned to play some country blues.
Their first group together, in 1964, Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, drew from those worlds and added a dash of acoustic rock and roll, while Ron “Pigpen” McKernan brought in a cool blues sensibility. When those three started an electric band, the Warlocks, in the spring of 1965—adding Bill Kreutzmann on drums and, fairly quickly, Lesh on bass—some of the old folk/country repertoire came with them, including “Cold Rain and Snow,” “I Know You Rider,” “Stealin’ ” and “Don’t Ease Me In.”
Those types of songs stayed in the Dead’s repertoire during the group’s halcyon days in the San Francisco ballrooms. But as they developed their songwriting chops during the second half of 1967 and through 1968, their sound increasingly moved away from their original influences and toward more complex structures, unusual time signatures and open-ended jamming that drew more from Indian music (partly the influence of drummer Mickey Hart, who joined in the fall of 1967) and jazz.
Short songs were few and far between as the Dead developed and perfected their uncanny ability to stitch songs and jams together with what sometimes seemed to be magic Day-Glo thread. The fall of 1968 through the spring of 1969 marks the Dead’s fiercest, most confident and accomplished psychedelic playing, reaching its apex around the time that Live Dead was recorded at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West.
But changes were on the way. Perhaps the harbinger of the future direction was a song on Aoxomoxoa called “Dupree’s Diamond Blues,” Hunter and Garcia’s clever recasting of a popular story-song that originated in the early Twenties. It’s a relatively straight narrative song with roots in blues and early 20th century pop tunes, driven by acoustic guitars.
“Hunter and I always had this thing where we liked to muddy the folk tradition by adding our versions of songs to the tradition,” Garcia told me in 1989. “We had our ‘Casey Jones’ song [on Workingman’s Dead]. We had our ‘Stagger Lee’ song [on Shakedown Street, 1978]. ‘Dupree’s Diamond Blues’ is another of those. It’s the thing of taking a well-founded tradition and putting in something that’s totally looped.” Musically, he added, “it has a kind of carnival or medicine show kind of feel, and also a ragtime feel.”
By February 1969, Garcia and Weir occasionally broke out acoustic guitars onstage to perform “Dupree’s,” followed by another Aoxomoxoa tune based around acoustic guitar, “Mountain of the Moon.” But leave it to Garcia and the Dead to then figure a way to segue that second acoustic number right into the trans-galactic flow of that era’s grandest improvisational piece, “Dark Star.”
For his part, Hunter, who also had a deep background in older folk music styles, found himself being increasingly drawn to the Band. Their brilliant first two albums, 1968’s Music from Big Pink and 1969’s The Band (a.k.a. The Brown Album) had drawn from a multitude of early American music styles and fused them into an utterly distinctive and original rock amalgamation.
As Hunter noted in an interview I did with him in 1988, “The direction [leader/songwriter Robbie Robertson] went with the Band was one of the things that made me think of conceiving Workingman’s Dead. I was very much impressed with the area Robertson was working in. I took it and moved it to the West, which is an area I’m familiar with…regional but not the South, because everyone was going back to the South for inspiration at that time.”
It’s unclear to what degree the Dead’s turn in a country direction might have been influenced by their move out of San Francisco’s crumbling Haight-Ashbury district in mid 1968 to more rustic Marin County, north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Mickey Hart settled on a Novato ranch that had a barn and horses, and the others spread out in nearby towns.
Hunter and Garcia (with his lady love, Mountain Girl) rented a large but modest house in the southern Marin town of Larkspur, and over the course of about a year, churned out one fantastic song after another. Hunter often typed lyrics day and night and fed them to Garcia, who would quickly set them to music, sometimes within hours of their delivery. This is where the songs for Workingman’s Dead were born—“glorious days,” as Hunter said.
Country flavors had been creeping into rock and roll in general for quite some time. Buffalo Springfield had a strong country and folk undercurrent in some of their material, as did the Byrds, Moby Grape and, by 1968, the Rolling Stones on Beggar’s Banquet. That same year, Dylan went back to acoustic music on John Wesley Harding, followed in 1969 by the more overtly country Nashville Skyline. Meanwhile, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco had helped put country-rock on the map.
Even though the Dead were playing some of their most challenging and adventurous psychedelic music during this period, offstage Garcia and Weir were listening to country music mostly. Garcia was increasingly being influenced by guitarists from the “Bakersfield school” of country music, such as Roy Nichols (of Merle Haggard’s group, the Strangers) and Don Rich (of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos), both tasteful and soulful string-benders. In March 1969, at the end of a tour, Garcia bought a Zane Beck pedal-steel guitar at a music store in Colorado, and it wasn’t long before he brought the pedal steel onto the stage.
At first, Garcia backed a country music–loving singer and songwriter named John “Marmaduke” Dawson in a tiny club south of San Francisco. Then, the fearless Garcia played it occasionally with the Dead on a range of country songs.
A few months later, Marmaduke and Garcia formed the country-rock New Riders of the Purple Sage, with Garcia on steel for the first year-plus. (Incidentally, with the Dead in this era, Garcia mostly played a mid-Sixties red Gibson SG—that’s his Live Dead ax—through his trusty Fender Twin Reverb amps, but also occasionally employed a sunburst Stratocaster. Weir favored a Gibson 335 or 345 through a pair of Twins.)
In June ’69, the first three Hunter-Garcia songs that would eventually find a home on Workingman’s Dead were introduced. “Dire Wolf” came first, a dark but whimsical tale about a man who invites a wolf into his desolate cabin in the woods for a game of cards, possibly to determine whether the wolf will eat him or not. “Don’t murder me,” the storyteller begs, but the cards are clearly not falling his way. Musically, it’s a simple folk song, and some of the early live versions were sung by Weir, with Garcia adding steel accompaniment.
Soon, though, Garcia reclaimed it, and on occasion in 1969 he would suggest that the crowd sing along on the chorus. “Casey Jones” was the next new tune to emerge from the Larkspur songwriting sessions, and though Garcia’s original acoustic guitar-voice demo from early June is strikingly similar to the way it ended up on Workingman’s Dead, the first several Grateful Dead versions in early summer ’69 have a different vibe. The main rhythm has an almost Motown feel to it (think “I Second That Emotion”), and there are a couple of fairly lengthy guitar extrapolations. It wouldn’t be too long, however, before the song found its finished form.
A day after the debut of “Casey Jones” came “High Time,” a gorgeous bittersweet ballad that easily could have come from George Jones, Merle Haggard or any number of other country greats. Garcia once complained that he felt could never quite do the song justice as a singer, but from mid 1969 through mid 1970, it became an important cornerstone of the band’s repertoire, often serving as a nice, grounding contrast to spacey songs such “Dark Star” and “That’s It for the Other One,” or the spunky combo of “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider.”
The Pigpen-sung “Easy Wind,” written by Hunter alone, started turning up in August 1969. Pig is convincing as a hard-workin’, hard-drinkin’ road laborer “chippin’ them rocks from dawn ’til doom/While my rider hide my bottle in the other room.” From the outset, the song featured slashing guitar counterpoint lines from Weir and Garcia and a funky R&B feel. It’s a perfect vehicle for Pig, who during this period mostly sang cover tunes, from Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” to the Olympics’ “Good Lovin’ ” to “Lovelight.”
The final burst of new Workingman’s Dead songs arrived in November and December 1969, ironically, right after the release of Live Dead, which had virtually no overt country and folk textures.
Musically, Garcia described the spry and speedy “Cumberland Blues” (which he co-wrote with Phil Lesh) as a blend of Bakersfield country and up-tempo bluegrass. Lyrically, Hunter paints a picture of a coal miner’s woes in and out of the mines. Like the other new songs, it took the Dead’s fans to some completely new places that, miraculously, fit in with all the other, stranger spaces their earlier material occupied.
“Black Peter” was a dire Hunter-Garcia folk blues about a man on his deathbed, while “Uncle John’s Band” was an upbeat anthem that became an instant favorite of everyone who heard it. The influence of Crosby, Stills & Nash—friends of the Dead’s whose harmony-filled first album had been ubiquitous since the summer of 1969—was obvious, and though the Dead weren’t at that level as singers, they had an undeniable vocal chemistry, and that song, in particular, had a reassuring glow that drew listeners in, made them feel that they too were maybe part of “Uncle John’s Band.”
The last Workingman’s song to be born was “New Speedway Boogie,” Hunter’s somewhat enigmatic commentary on the early December 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Festival. The event—a West Coast version of Woodstock—was marred by violence, including the death of concertgoer Meredith Hunter by a member of the Hells Angels, who were there to provide security.
“New Speedway Boogie” rumbles along ominously—a modified shuffle/boogie—as Garcia sings in broad metaphorical terms about harsh realities, lessons learned (or not) and the broader takeaway: “One way or another, this darkness got to give…”
By the time “Speedway” was introduced, the Dead had already decided to make an album in the winter of 1970, cutting at Pacific High Recording, a relatively new addition to the San Francisco recording landscape. They had spent many months and more than $100,000 of Warner Bros.’ money making Aoxomoxoa, so this time they were determined to take their relatively simple and straightforward new songs and record them as live as possible in the studio.
“Workingman’s Dead was done very quickly,” producer/engineer Bob Matthews told me in 2004. (Matthews’ familiarity with the band extended all the way back to the Mother McCree’s days with Garcia, Weir and Pigpen.) “We went into the studio first and spent a couple of days rehearsing—performing—all the tunes, recording them onto two-track. When that was done, I sat down and spliced together the tunes—beginning of side one to end of side one, beginning of side two to end of side two. I got that idea from [the Beatles’] Sgt Pepper’s: ‘Before we even start, let’s have a concept of what the end product is going to feel like, sequencing-wise.’
They rehearsed some more in their rehearsal studio, and then they came in and recorded [on one of Ampex’s new 16-track machines]. But at all times there was the perspective of where we were in the album.” The Dead had further honed their chops by playing a series of acoustic sets during the winter of 1969–1970, mixing versions of their new songs among folk and country covers.
The entire album was recorded and mixed in about 10 days. Overdubs included Garcia’s pedal-steel parts, Pigpen’s harmonica, various acoustic and electric guitar parts and, of course, the vocals, which were certainly at a level the Dead had never achieved before. The noted San Francisco poster artist Stanley Mouse and his partner Alton Kelley conceived of the now-iconic front cover: the band and Hunter in workingman’s duds standing on a nondescript street corner. When Warner Bros. boss Joe Smith first heard the finished record, he announced to all within earshot that, unbelievable as it might seem, the Dead had made a hit record.
Smith was right. The album immediately took the Dead to a new level of popularity, and when they followed up Workingman’s Dead with the tonally similar and equally momentous American Beauty (“Ripple,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Truckin’ ”) just a few months later, they solidified their place among the great bands to survive the Sixties.
The Dead never stopped playing long, jamming tunes, even as they continued to carve out one slice of distinctive Americana after another through the early Seventies. But Workingman’s Dead turned the Dead into a song band, and it was the launch pad for everything that came after it. It was a big gamble, a radical change in direction, but it paid off like a royal flush.
Here's an interview with The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia from the December 1987 issue of Guitar World, which featured Joe Perry on the cover. The original story by John Swenson started on page 34 and ran with the headline, "Back From the Dead: A little grey around the edges but still as out there as ever, Dead Head Jerry Garcia is pickin’ his way to prosperity."
Jerry Garcia looked around the Grateful Dead’s rehearsal studio in San Rafael, California, and smiled. “It’s good to not die,” said Garcia, who suffered a nearly fatal diabetic coma in July of ’86.
The legendary guitarist whose mercurial improvisations are the life’s blood of the Grateful Dead’s music has made a miraculous recovery from an illness that at first left him incapable of walking, speaking clearly or playing.
“I remember the moment in the hospital when he was recuperating,” said Dead drummer Mickey Hart. “Once he came out of his coma, you could see that he has life back in him,” The first thing he asked for was his acoustic guitar. He must play, he’s an animal. He’s like a thirsty animal, like a shark, always eating, always playing. If he can breathe, he’ll play.”
Garcia insisted that he was never aware of being seriously ill. “For me it wasn’t one of those near-death experiences,” he explained. “It was very weird, it had a sort of science-fiction quality to it. But it wasn’t painful, it was cerebral. The weird part of it was that it took a while for me to get to the point where I was understood. I had to fish for everything.
"It was like everything was in random access, I know all the words, but I can’t get it out of myself. So for the first few days it was mostly sort of Joycean inversions of language, and then after a while I started to remember how it worked. But I had to do that with everything. They had to teach me how to walk again, and playing the guitar, I had to do that stuff all over again. But it was all there. I mean the bits and pieces where all there, but I didn’t have ready access to all of them.”
Within three months Garcia was writing songs and playing with his solo group, the Jerry Garcia Band. In mid-December the Dead returned to the stage, opening with “Touch of Grey,” the celebration of aging that Garcia wrote a few years ago with lyricist Robert Hunter.
The concert was a triumph. Instead of falling apart after Garcia’s illness, the Dead re-emerged with new energy. The group went back on the road, finished a concert film they’d been working on for years, then recorded In The Dark, their first album in seven years, and possibly their most commercially successful one yet.
To simulate live conditions, the band recorded the album in a Marin County theater. “That’s how the energy got into it,” said Garcia. “It’s a nice little theater and it has great sound. We rented it, moved out stuff in and set it up just as though we were playing live. We didn’t have an audience, but it was that same mood. We did the tracks as though we were performing full out, so on some of those tunes I didn’t replace any solos.”
Garcia and Dead soundman John Cutler produced the album, and the results are astonishing.
The compression of the guitars sounds on the recording is unlike anything they’ve managed in the studio over the years. “The arrangements are read,” said Garcia. “The mix is my understanding about how Grateful Dead music works. A lot of the producers we’ve worked with haven’t understood how Grateful Dead music works. There’s real structure to it, there’s real architecture to it and there’s real conversation, like in a string quartet, to it
“The instruments speak to each other. But unless you mix it so that that’s intelligible, then it’s nonsense. That’s the sense of the music, it’s something I can’t communicate to a producer, but I can hear it.
“One of the things the Grateful Dead can do is provide that energy,” said Garcia. “The music is mostly pretty minimalist, it’s just what’s in the band—rhythm guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and lead guitar. It’s classic rock ‘n’ roll in configuration, but the style is all Grateful Dead. We get that stuff from everywhere, and that urgency is what the band can do. That’s what we’ve tried to get on record all these years and failed miserably at.”
The other band members agree that In the Dark is their first truly representative recording. “I’m really impressed with it,” said Hart. “I can listen to it, and normally I can’t listen to Grateful Dead records. We were able to capture the spirit of the band for the first time.”
Bob Weir confirmed that the group’s relief over Garcia’s recovery spurred them on. “He bounces off his little brush with death,” said Weir, “and the momentum that he picked up carried through to the recording.”
That crystal-clear guitar tone did not come from any specific recording technique. “The difference is intent,” he explained. “Usually on a record I do my solos toward the end of the record, but I have this problem with my own playing. I can play okay but I can’t judge myself. When I function as a producer I’m a pair of ears and I can do that pretty well. As a performer I can perform pretty well, but I can’t do them both at the same time. So I’ve always had problems judging my own work.
“Classically, I say, ‘Ah, it’s good enough,’ I’ll do however many takes and say, ‘Ah, that’ll do.’ Then later on it turns out to be a little lame, maybe, not as good as it could have been, not what I really wanted it to be. It’s like an afterthought because it’s the thing that I end up caring the least about from a producer’s point of view.
“The thing about a guitar solo is, the guitar’s register is right in the human ear space, it’s like the human voice, you can almost not bury it. It penetrates through every cut. The smaller the speakers get, the louder the guitar gets. And so it’s not a problem to mix, never a problem to get on the tape, it’s one of the easiest things in the world to record. Everything else can be a problem.
“The guitar solos on Grateful Dead records have suffered from neglect, especially, just because it was me responsible for them. That’s just the way I worked. But on this record, part of it I was able to overcome because we played live, and I actually played the solos when he laid down the tracks, so they had the energy they needed. On things where I replaced them and did them again or did a different sort of solo or left a hole for a solo, I was more concerned with making the solo concise and intelligent and work well, so I spent more time. This is me conquering the problem.”
Garcia admitted to finding himself playing things on In The Dark that surprised him. “But I always used to do that,” he quickly added. “I remember that much about my own playing. I don’t invent that much of it, a lot of it invents itself. It all comes from spending hours with an instrument, you have to put in the time, and the more time you in the more access you have to the whole file of guitar possibilities, because all music is a collection of possibilities.”
Garcia and the band had several years to play much of the new material live and develop its arrangements before making the record.
Garcia pointed out that he never played “Touch of Grey” the same way twice before it was recorded. When asked if the recoded version represents his idea of the ideal guitar sounds, he answered, “It has enough contrast with the other elements in the mix so that it comes through on its own.
I selected the sound based on what it does with the other things, so it sort of fits in, it has sort of a bell-like top and that fits in with the bells and metal-like top end on the track. The process of selecting the tone on the guitar is an aesthetic process like any other, so you try a lot of different things. Most of the things I’ve tried I’ve tried in live performances, so selecting this tone was not a problem; and the band has gotten very, very good. On a great night, sometimes miraculous things happen. But for a record, it’s an okay record.” What a long, strange trip it’s been … but of course, the Dead is more a live band than anything else, so you have to see this statement in context.
As usual, Garcia played his customized guitar on In The Dark.“I have one custom guitar which I play almost exclusively,” Garcia said. “I have others—sometimes you want a little texture, kind of a different sound or something My guitar is a mutation between a classic Fender Stratocaster guitar, which I played for years, and a Gibson solid-body like an SG or a Les Paul. It contains all sounds of the basic classic rock ‘n’ roll guitars. It does what I want it to do,” he smiles.
“It’s not really me—I don’t design guitars or any of that kind of stuff, since I don’t have that kind of mind. The guy that made this guitar, Doug Irwin, is a luthier, a guitar-builder. His guitars all have great hands. My hand falls upon one of them and it says ‘play me,’ and it’s one of those things not all guitars do. Some guitars definitely don’t do it, but his guitars do that and it’s just a special thing.
"It’s not entirely a matter of balance, it’s not a matter of dimensions, of measurable stuff, it’s something indefinable, but my hand loves it. There’s almost like a physical attraction. The man’s work is museum quality, the workmanship and the detail—it’s a beautiful instrument. But even the aesthetics of it are not what make me like them, it’s just the way it feels in my hand. I don’t know what it is, he doesn’t even know what it is, but he just builds them the way he thinks I would like them, and it works perfectly.”
Garcia found Irwin by the same process of serendipity that he uses to explain a lot of the fortuitous coincidences he’s experienced. “He was working for a friend of mine, I picked up a guitar that he had built the neck for at a guitar store and said ‘Wow! Where did this come from? I gotta have this guitar.’ I bought the guitar, and that’s the first guitar I’d gotten where he built the neck and then I said, ‘Who’s the guy who made this neck?’ and the friends of mine that he was working for said, ‘This guy over here.’ I commissioned him to build me a guitar, and he did, and I played that guitar for most of the seventies.
"When he delivered it to me, I said, ‘Now I want you to build me what you think would be the ultimate guitar. I don’t care when you deliver it, I don’t care how much it’s gonna cost or anything else.’ A couple of months later he told me it would cost about three grand, which at the time was a lot for a guitar, since it was the early Seventies. He delivered the guitar to me in ’78, eight years later. I’d forgotten I’d paid for it.
“Whatever the guitar says to me, I play.”
The Dead Play Dylan
Most bands who’ve survived the near-fatal illness of their lead guitarist, then gone on to make their first record in seven years would pat themselves on the back and call it a day. But not the Grateful Dead. They decided to go out on a mind-bending mini-tour of the nation’s biggest stadiums with Bob Dylan. “It’s serendipity,” said the Dead’s lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia.
“Of course, it has to do with everybody being willing and wanting to do this.
"The thing of where you almost lose a guy, whatever it was that anybody might have been reluctant to do before, it’s like, ‘we may never get a chance to do something like this again, let’s go for it.’ There is a certain opening up, loosening of that kind of spirit of adventure.”
Dylan, dubbed “Spike” because “we already have one Bob in the band,” was an ethereal presence in breaks during rehearsals at “Club Dead,” the band’s funky Marin County office-studio complex. As soon as the band set up to play, though, he crackled with a kind of musical electricity, his body coiled and radiating pure energy.
Once they start playing, the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan are such a natural combination that you wonder why it took them this long to get together. In fact, the Dead have been playing Dylan songs for years, and the feeling is that these sessions recall Dylan’s momentous Basement Tapes, recordings with the Band in the late Sixties.
“His approach is very much like ours,” said Bob Weir. “He’s loose and we just rattle around from song to song.”
“It’s hard to describe,” said Mickey Hart. “He’s a great musician, one of the most important poets of the century. He brings this whole feeling with him, his smell, musically. We’re playing all kinds of songs. We treat it all like Grateful Dead music.”
Together they cover a staggering range of material—folk, blues, rock, jug band music. Dylan’s ragged, insistent guitar strumming lays a new rhythmic foundation for the Dead, creating wonderful, surprising results on songs as varied as “Tangled Up in Blue,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Serve Somebody,” “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” and “Chimes of Freedom.” For encores, Dylan joins the Dead on “Touch of Grey.”
“A lot of the songs I know,” said Garcia, “but his versions of them now are sometimes very different from the ones I know. It’s a lot of fun. You get three or four of those serious Dylan rushes every day, that’s the fun part, and it’s authentic, it’s the real thing.”
Garcia realized that there was a certain amount of rick to going out with Dylan. “Every band’s got its chemistry, got its special mojo, adding one new element to it can sometimes really screw up what’s there. Sometimes it can help, though, if you know enough about the music and you’re familiar enough with the guys that are playing.”
Playing with Dylan, Garcia also tried a little steel guitar and banjo, instruments he hasn’t “really touched” for the last 10 years. “We’re doing this voluntarily,” concluded Garcia.
“We’re doing this consciously by way of an experiment. We know that it’s only gonna last so long, and maybe be an opening for future possibilities, too. There’s no simple way to characterize what’s going on here, because Bob’s got his own weight, there’s too much to him to find out about in a few weeks. He’s packing 20 years of stuff all by himself.”
In it, Scharff adds lots and lots of tasteful shredding to songs that are devoid of shredding—if not devoid of guitars, period.
In his first video, posted to the interwebs July 1, Scharff adds some unnecessary shredding to "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX.
"I love the melody and production so much," Scharff writes. "As soon as I heard this I feel in love with the song. I'm a sucker for big pop melodies with a big beat.
"I played a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top with an original Digitech Whammy 1 through a vintage Sixties Vox AC30."
Opinions 'n' such?
In this exclusive Guitar World video, Buckcherry's Josh Todd and Keith Nelson take you on an exclusive tour of their studio.
Check it out below and tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook!
Buckcherry will release their seventh studio album, Rock ‘n’ Roll August 21 via F-Bomb Records/Caroline.
Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Los Angeles quintet—Josh Todd (vocals), Keith Nelson (guitar), Stevie D. (guitar), Xavier Muriel (drums) and Kelly LeMieux (bass)—uphold the commandments of rock music with an arsenal of new anthems primed to explode on impact and teeming with riotous energy, sexy swagger and primal chops intact.
“There’s been so much talk about how rock ‘n’ roll is dead and all of this bullshit,” Todd says. “The funny thing is, that’s been going on since we put out our first record in 1999. We wanted to call the new album Rock ‘n’ Roll because this is what we’ve been doing our whole lives. We focused on making a record that encompasses all of what we are. You get every flavor of Buckcherry.”
Catch Buckcherry live this summer on their North American tour. Additional dates for July through September will be announced soon. Follow the band on Facebook.
2015 Buckcherry Tour Dates:
July 18 - El Paso, TX - Texas Showdown Festival
July 25 - Royalton, MN - Halfway Jam
July 31 - Kansas City, MO - KC Live!
Aug 1 - Maryland Heights, MO - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Aug 6 - Sturgis, SD - Buffalo Chip
Aug 15 - Longview, TX - Ink Life Tattoo Convention
Sep 19 - Menomonie, WI - Stout Ale House
Rock ‘n’ Roll Track List:
01. "Bring It On Back"
02. "Tight Pants"
03. "Wish to Carry On"
04. "The Feeling Never Dies"
06. "The Madness"
08. "Rain’s Falling"
09. "Sex Appeal"
10. "Get With It"
Last night’s final Fare Thee Well show; the final joint appearance, ever, by the Grateful Dead’s "core four" of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann—if you take them at their word—began and ended the same way: with a group bow and a huge roar from a giant crowd.
It was that kind of night: emotionally heightened, with cheers and tears around every corner for the highly amped fans.
The good vibes were palpable throughout Chicago's Soldier Field and inseparable from the music.
Spending three days in record crowds of up to 71,000 (last night’s released number) was an overwhelming experience. As my friend said, there was as much community feeling as in any crowd ever. No one paid for me to be here. I bought my tickets, paid for my travel and joined the masses entering and exiting like rats in a maze. And like everyone else there, I was invested on many levels. None of us walked out feeling cheated.
After the bow and crowd roar, the first set started out strong with “China Cat Sunflower” >“I Know You Rider,” songs people have been waiting for every day. It all clicked, with Phish's Trey Anastasio stepping to the fore and Weir smiling like the Cheshire Cat as he stepped to the mic to sing his part of the “I Know You Rider” chorus harmony. During an excellent “Estimated Prophet” that followed, Weir was jumping around as he engaged Anastasio.
The strong, in-sync playing continued throughout the first set. Anastasio has established great rapport with keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, with the three often engaging in call and response, harmony and counterpoint.
“Built to Last” was nicely played, but remains a rather slight song in my estimation. “Samson and Delilah” was strong. “Mountains of the Moon” was musically excellent, but Lesh’s lead vocal flattened the melody and… well, it was neither the first nor last time a song was musically superb but vocally lacking.
It was also, I believe, the first time that song had been played since 1969. I understand that pulling something like that off is part of the Dead ethos, but on the final night, I’d have taken something like Bruce Hornsby singing “Loser,” whether or not they played it last week in Santa Clara. Emphasizing not repeating a song in a five-night run makes no sense to me at a time like this.
The set closed strongly with “Throwing Stones,” with the “Ashes, Ashes” chorus a giant sing-along each time through and a very nice jam in the middle, involving everyone.
"China Cat Sunflower">"I Know You Rider" | "Estimated Prophet" | "Built to Last" | "Samson and Delilah" | "Mountains of the Moon">"Throwing Stones"
The second set—and perhaps the final in the Dead’s 50-year history—began with fireworks. Literally, a gorgeous, extended display over the stadium that made clear again that this was not a normal night. And after a nice, swirly intro, the band kicked into “Truckin’,” a song that just HAD to be repeated, and it was a great, hard-driving version.
“What a long strange trip it’s been” was greeted with roars and mass sing-alongs every time through.
The song wound down into a little jam that segued beautifully into “Cassidy,” which featured another stellar extended jam, highlighted by some nifty harmony playing by Weir and Anastasio and sweet interplay between Trey and Hornsby. The jam went a bit atonal, before Lesh took the lead pumping it back up and leading straight back into another, final verse. The strong start continued right into “Althea.” This aggregation does slinky really well and showed it again here. Trey sang the song beautifully and Hornsby helped it swing.
As the band came down, some familiar piano notes tinkled and the crowd roared: “Terrapin Station” was under way. Lesh took the first verses, Weir the latter. And while neither made anyone forget about Jerry Garcia, it all worked. The whole suite was beautifully rendered, superbly played and emotionally resonant.
Next up was a Space > Drums segment that was highly entertaining. I gladly squatted on the floor, taking a load off my legs, and looked up away from the stage watching Bill and Mickey do their mad scientist thing on the enormous Jumbotron on the stadium’s far side. That was quite the first half of a set.
And then, of course, things got a little weird. Because the Dead need to get weird; they have a perverse sense of equilibrium. It’s just part of their DNA.
They came out of Space and landed on “Unbroken Chain,” another Phil lead vocal. The song was strong, but as the tension seemed to build to a resolution that could only be a hard rocker, the group went into the molasses-slow “Days Between,” one of Garcia and Robert Hunter’s final compositions. Again, this was not on most people’s list of essential Dead listening, but players gonna play.
We finally got the hard-rocking resolution next with “Not Fade Away,” which had the whole stadium singing along and jumping up and down. I looked up and saw the entire upper concrete structure bouncing, a site I will never forget. As the band walked off stage, the crowd continued the rhythmic five-beat clapping rhythm and kept singing the “Not Fade Away” chorus.
Finally, Lesh returned for his donor rap and everyone returned for “Touch of Grey” that felt inevitable, as retrospective photos flashed on the screen and the audience cheered every shot of Jerry. Trey took the first vocals, then Weir took over.
The band returned with Weir on acoustic and the rest of the frontline sans instrument for a quiet, guitar and piano “Attics of My Life” as the retrospective photos rolled through. Photos of deceased members and associates flashed by: Ken Kesey, Keith Godchaux (and the very much alive but absent donna), Brent Mydland (to great cheers), Vince Welnick… and then onto new Jay Blakesberg portraits of the current members, in this order: Phil, Bill, Chimenti, Hornsby, Mickey, Trey and Bob. God knows what went into choosing the order; I’ll let someone else sort that out.
And then, finally, it was over and we were back where we started: a full stadium stomping, hooting and hollering as the band stood in the middle of the stage alternating hugs and bows.
The masses filed out, shoulder to shoulder, a giant crowd moving with purpose and total peace through a maze.
In a tunnel near the final exit, someone started a rhythmic five-note clap and everyone picked up and we all sang together: “Not, not, not fade away.”
"Truckin'" | "Cassidy" | "Althea" | "Terrapin Station" | "Space > Drums" | "Unbroken Chain" | "Days Between" | "Not Fade Away" | Encore:"Touch of Grey" | "Attics of My Life"
Photos: Jay Blakesberg
Alan Paul is the author of the Ebook Reckoning: Conversations with the Grateful Dead and the Top 10 New York Times bestseller One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band.
Someone (or something?) named Alizee Defan runs a YouTube channel dedicated to incredible female musicians.
At her YouTube homepage, which you can check out here, you'll find videos lauding great female drummers, singers and—of course—guitarists.
Alizee Defan recently created two videos dubbed "Battle of the Best Female Guitarists in the World," and you can check them out below.
True to their titles, the clips certainly do feature some fine fretwork courtesy of a host of guitarists, including Jessica Gardlund (pictured above) and, well, lots of other people whose names we can't seem to locate in the clips (although Nita Strauss and Courtney Cox make an appearance, as does French guitarist Tina S. You'll also see bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who is not a guitarist).
Below, we've included both videos. The top video is "Battle of the Best Female Guitarists in the World, Part 1." Below that is "Battle of the Best Female Guitarists in the World, Round 2."
As always, enjoy! And feel free to comment ... (and remember we didn't make these videos).
One of the questions asked was, “Which player do you associate the most with the MXR brand?” The respondents chose Eddie Van Halen more than 60 percent of the time. Notably, the runner-up received fewer than half as many mentions.
That result is, in part, due to MXR’s EVH Signature Series pedals, the EVH90 Phase 90 and the EVH117 Flanger, which became perennial best-selling MXR products upon their introductions in 2004 and 2007, respectively. But MXR pedals have remained an essential element of Van Halen’s sound since his band’s debut album was released in 1978.
The swirling textures of a Phase 90 are heard on classic tunes like “Eruption,” “Atomic Punk,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love,” “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Drop Dead Legs” as well as new songs like “Outta Space” and “Stay Frosty,” and Van Halen’s distinctive and innovative use of the Flanger made an indelible impression on guitarists through songs like “Unchained,” “And the Cradle Will Rock…” and “Hear About It Later.”
In addition to those two tone-enhancing mainstays, Ed has also relied upon pro-quality MXR tools like the Six-Band Graphic Equalizer and Smart Gate to keep his onstage tone full, aggressive and noise-free. His current onstage pedal board even includes an MXR Analog Chorus, which he uses for songs like “Pretty Woman” and “Little Guitars.”
In celebration of MXR’s 40th anniversary milestone, it made perfect sense for Guitar World to talk with the company’s most influential player about how his MXR pedals have influenced him throughout the last four decades.
GUITAR WORLD: Did you use any pedals when you were a kid and learning to play?
A wah-wah was probably the first pedal that I ever tried. I probably borrowed it from a buddy. But I was from the school of plugging the guitar straight into the amp, so I didn’t use any pedals at first.
How did you discover MXR pedals?
A really good friend of mine named Terry Kilgore and I were the so-called gunslingers in Pasadena back in the mid Seventies. We jammed together and would trade licks and have a lot of fun. We weren’t competitive at all. I went to one of his band rehearsals once, and that was when I first saw a Phase 90.
He used to play a lot of Robin Trower stuff. He used the Phase 90 with the speed control set around the 2 o’clock setting to get more of that fast, swirling sound. I decided to pick one up for myself. I was into Robin Trower too, but we didn’t play any of his songs, so I used it with the control set between 9 and 10 o’clock. I still use it the same way today. I just locked into that one setting, and I’ve used it ever since.
Why do you prefer the slower speed setting?
I thought it sounded unique. I never heard that before. It didn’t sound like the phase shifters made by other companies, where the phase sweep is more heavy and pronounced, almost more like a flanger. The Phase 90 produces a very light change of the sound. It’s not an over-the-top effect. It’s very subtle.
You tended to kick on the Phase 90 during your solos.
I did that in the early days because it would make the solo pop. Suddenly it became a different sound, which helped me stand out in the mix, because back then, in the club days, we usually had lousy P.A. systems and lousy sound guys. It didn’t boost the signal, but it made it pop out so the solo was more audible. It enhanced the tone.
What led you to the MXR Flanger?
Obviously, I liked the Phase 90, so when MXR came out with the Flanger, I said, What the hell? I loved their stuff. Their pedals are built like a brick shit house, and they make great sounds, so I started putzing around with the Flanger too. I always use the same setting for everything, from the intro to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” to “Unchained,” with the exception of the setting I used on the intro to “Outta Love Again” and “Bullethead.”
I set the three knobs on the left between 11 o’clock or 11:30, and the last knob on the right [regeneration] is all the way up. I might fine-tune the speed a little to match it to the tempo of the song, like on “Unchained” where the sweep goes perfectly with the riff. I was just goofing off and experimenting. It wouldn’t have sounded good to use the flanger all the way through. The riff just needed a little bit here and there. It’s a cool, tasty little tidbit that I threw in there to draw attention to the riff.
How did you decide to place the Flanger in front of the Phase 90 in your signal chain?
I have no idea! I think I just liked having the Phase 90 in the middle between the Flanger and the microphone on the stage.
How did these pedals influence your songwriting?
One good example is “And the Cradle Will Rock…” I had written that intro riff on the electric piano, and the guys thought that it needed something. I just hooked up the Flanger and pounded on the low keys. It was a great sound, and it worked. There wasn’t any rocket science to it. Even the Flanger on “Unchained” was totally by accident.
For some reason I just thought that the Flanger sounded good there. The way it goes from the sweep up to the sweep down wasn’t planned. My normal setting just happened to fit the tempo of the song. I kicked it in and out, and when I heard the way the Flanger swept up and then down, I thought it sounded cool. Nothing I’ve ever done is really all that thought out. I’d just wing stuff, and if it sounded cool I would do it again.
Do you remember how you came up with the intro to “Atomic Punk”?
That basic idea for that sound originally came from “Light Up the Sky,” which I had written before “Atomic Punk,” even though “Light Up the Sky” appeared on our second record. After the guitar solo there is a drum break, and you can hear me rubbing my palm on the low E string. One day I decided to try that with the Phase 90. It was an interesting sound, and it turned into a cool song. I’ve never really ever heard that sound from anyone else, neither before nor after I did that. After the solo, I actually also used the Flanger for a quick bit.
How did those pedals become an essential part of your sound?
They enhance the sound of what I’m playing. In certain spots I would use them if I needed them. It wasn’t a set thing; I’d just wing it, and nine times out of 10 it would work. I have to have an idea for a song first, then I’ll putz around and add or take away things. It’s like making a steak: you have to have the steak first, then you can make it better by adding a little seasoning, but not too much because you want to taste the steak, not the seasoning.
With the exception of your tape echo units, you used only MXR effects during the band’s early days. What inspired that brand loyalty?
I love the way that my MXR pedals sound, and I’ve never broken one. I tried a few stomp boxes by other companies back then, but most of them were cheaply made, the sound quality wasn’t consistent, and they’d break when you stepped on them. MXR pedals are very solidly built. They always do what they’re supposed to do, and they never falter. I’m pretty brutal on my gear. If I can’t break it, no one can!
Did you modify your pedals in any way?
I wouldn’t even know how to modify a pedal. I never had a reason to do that. A pedal does what it does. There are a lot of variables involved in trying to get the same sound as mine. First, you have a guitar. Then there are cables in between that and the type of amp you’re using. Then there are the settings on the amp’s controls. But the most important part is the player. I’ve said this often before: you could put nine guys in the studio playing through my rig set exactly the same and they’ll all sound different. The only modification to my pedals was the player! [laughs] It sounds that way because it’s me playing.
Have you ever plugged your stomp boxes into an amp’s effect loop or in between a preamp and power amp?
I’ve always plugged them straight into the amp’s input. It just sounds better that way.
How did your MXR EVH signature pedals develop?
The ICs [integrated circuits] that MXR used in the Seventies were no longer available. The factories were closed and the technology had changed. The challenge was making pedals that sounded the same as the originals using different parts. That took a while.
The Phase 90 was pretty easy to duplicate, but the Flanger took a lot longer. We worked through a series of prototypes with Bob Cedro of MXR. Our yardstick was the “Unchained” setting. We had my original Seventies Flanger, and we would compare the prototypes to that. Bob would take notes, work on the circuit for another three weeks, and bring it back. We kept narrowing the gap until we got it. It took about nine months of going back and forth. I know exactly what I want, and I won’t stop until I get it.
Who came up with the preset button for the EVH Flanger?
It was a collaborative effort. Since there is one main setting that I use, we decided to make it easy for people to duplicate that. I could also use it to switch between my “Unchained” setting and the one I use on “Outta Love Again,” even though I never actually do that. [laughs] I still like to adjust the knobs myself instead of flipping a button.
Your most recent rig has an MXR Analog Chorus and Smart Gate. Why have you continued to stick with MXR pedals?
I would not be able to use my rig the way I play at that volume on channel three on my 5150 IIIS amp without the Smart Gate. They make great stuff. I have never, ever broken an MXR pedal. They deliver a product that does what it’s supposed to do. It’s that simple.
You seem to be exceptionally loyal to MXR pedals.
I established a great working relationship with Jimmy Dunlop and everyone at the company a long time ago. I’ll toss around ideas with them, and they’re really receptive to my input. I’m very close with them, and they take great care of me.
Photo: Neil Zlozower/atlasicons.com
Orange Amplification will be opening the doors of its new showroom in Nashville during the Summer NAMM Show, which kicks off July 9 in Nashville.
The new showroom is at 1310 Clinton St., Suite 105, Nashville, TN 37203, less than 3 miles from the Nashville Music Center and a few doors down from the Antique Archaeology showroom as featured in American Pickers.
Adrian Emsley, Orange Amplifications’ technical director, will be on hand to demonstrate the latest and existing products. He also will be available for video demonstrations and interviews. New products will include the Bax Bangeetar Pre-EQ Pedal, Rockerverb 50 & 100 MKIII, OB1-500, the new Crush Amps, plus the Dual Dark 50.
Joining him will be artist relations’ veteran Pat Foley, who will be running the Nashville showroom as part of his Artist Solutions Network. Pat brings to Orange more than 15 years experience and a wide knowledge of musical instruments having previously worked as a record producer, engineer, production and artist relations’ manager.
After Summer NAMM, showroom visits will be by appointment only.
For more about Orange Amplification, visit orangeamps.com.
Today C. F. Martin & Co. announced the notable new models to be presented at the 2015 Summer NAMM show in Nashville July 9 through July 12.
The iconic 182-year-old guitar manufacturer will unveil the 00-15E Retro and the LE-Cowboy-2015 alongside four other distinctive guitars.
The addition of the 00-15E Retro to the successful Retro Series is the first 00-14 fret instrument in the product family.
The LE-Cowboy-2015 features a design on the body of the guitar by famed watercolorist William Matthews.
More details on all of the products featured at the showcase can be found below, and complete product specs can be found at martinguitar.com/new.
It’s definitely true that Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my all-time favorite guitarists.
Ironically, I was never really into Stevie while he was alive.
Then, shortly after he died, I got hold of a video of him playing a live show and was just totally blown away by his timing, his tone, his feel, his vibrato, his phrasing—everything. Some people are just born to play guitar, and Stevie was definitely one of them.
The VH1 Behind the Music program on Stevie showed some old footage of him playing guitar when he was a little kid—he was so good it made me want to cry.
It’s difficult to emulate SRV’s tone because his hands and soul had so much to do with it. Having said that, in my opinion, if there’s a player whose sound you really admire, you might be able to emulate his tone by investigating the gear he used.
For example, if you really want to get a sound similar to Stevie Ray’s, then buying a Les Paul and a high-gain Marshall stack definitely isn’t the way to go, because that’s not even close to what he used.
However, you might get close if you buy a Strat—and probably even closer if you buy a vintage Strat [Fender offers an SRV signature model Strat that’s based on his legendary “Number 1” guitar, which was a 1959 body with a 1962 Rosewood neck and a left-hand tremolo unit—GW Ed.]. You’ll get even closer if you get a vintage Strat and a vintage Fender amp, because that’s what he used. I also know that Stevie used an old Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Vox Wah, too.
Another real big factor in Stevie’s killer tone was the gauge of his strings and how hard he used to play. A lot of people try to do the SRV thing using a set of .009s, and you just can’t do what he did with slinky strings like that. Stevie used real heavy strings—.013 (high E) to .058 or even .060 (low E). So, to get even close you need to start with at least a set of .011s.
In addition to using heavy strings, you also really need to attack the guitar if you want to get that big, percussive sound Stevie had. He was a super-aggressive player, and he didn’t really pick from his wrist—he picked with his entire arm!
If you watch video footage of him, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Stevie also used a lot of downstrokes and a lot of that “string raking” thing too (more about this technique in a moment), which really added to the unique rhythm and lead sound that he got. Of the newer blues players out there, Kenny Wayne Shepherd definitely has that heavy string, high action, percussive attack thing happening—and he does it really well, in my opinion.
Like all great players, Stevie’s style contained a bunch of cool nuances—some of which are really hard to nail. Take the intro riff to “Scuttle Buttin’ ” [Couldn’t Stand the Weather] for example. I’ve been messing around with it for years but I still can’t play it with Stevie’s feel. There’s a weird slide he does near the beginning that I just can’t get exactly right, no matter how hard I try. I can play the riff note-for-note, but there’s that little nuance that I just can’t get, and I’ve been chasing it for a long time.
As I just mentioned, SRV often used a technique called string raking, which is a relatively easy way to spice up your lead playing. As you’re about to discover, it’s kind of like percussive sweep picking. FIGURE 1 shows a simple C minor blues lick that starts with a string rake.
To play this, mute the A, D and G strings by lightly resting your left-hand index finger across them, then quickly rake your pick across them using a single, smooth downstroke that ends with the half-step bend at the 10th fret on the B string. Adding this simple move to the lick definitely adds extra emotion, attitude and emphasis to the lick—try playing it without the rake and you’ll hear what I mean.
Another SRV move that definitely adds both bite and a nice bluesy tension to a solo is to bend certain notes just a tad so they end up sitting right between two notes. FIGURE 2 is an A minor run that features this technique. As you can see, the second-to-last note you play, the C note at the 5th fret on the G string, is bent up a quarter step so that it sits right between C and C#.
Great blues players do this kind of thing all the time, and Stevie was especially good at it—hell, he’d even add a quarter note bend to notes he’d already bent up by one or even two steps. FIGURE 3 is a Stevie Ray style, bluesy, E minor lick that utilizes both of the techniques we’ve just discussed—string raking and quarter-tone bends.
Being able to shake a note in a way that compliments both the song and the mood of the solo is a highly expressive art that Stevie Ray Vaughan definitely perfected. I especially love his vibrato because it is so damned wide and muscular.
Unfortunately, this technique is almost as difficult to describe as it is to do. So, to learn more about this, I recommend that you listen closely to his albums and also watch videos of him in action, zoning in on what he does with his left hand. Check out SRV’s Live at the El Mocambo video (below)—it’s a jaw-dropping experience and, if you watch closely, you’ll learn a lot.
For guitarists accustomed to channel switching and distortion pedals, the thought of being forced to plug straight into a clean amp can be a nightmare. But the big, bad guitar sounds of classic blues are all “straight in,” so how do players turn this apparent handicap to an advantage? The secret is to attack.
Your sound begins at the point of impact between the pick and the string. Modern rock technique, particularly shred, minimizes the range of pick motion to maximize speed. The initial sound is small, but electronic effects, such as distortion and compression, magnify the result after the fact.
In blues, the idea is to shape your tone before it leaves the guitar. A big sound requires a big attack, so you don’t pick the strings—you slap them. Since this means hitting several strings at once, you must also train your fretting hand to mute the strings on either side of the desired note.
FIGURE 1 illustrates fret-hand muting applied to an A minor pentatonic scale (Xs indicate muted notes). Fret each note just behind the tip of your first or third finger. From the A string up, let your fingertip rest against the adjacent lower string, and on all but the high E string let the fleshy underside of the finger mute the adjacent upper string.
Drape your thumb over the top of the neck to mute the lowest strings while your index finger lies lightly across the highest ones. Slap across the strings aggressively with the pick. If your muting technique is accurate, you will hear the single fretted note surrounded by the percussive thwack of the muted strings (on the B and high E strings, aim the pick more carefully to avoid hitting the unmuted middle strings).
FIGURE 2 applies slapping to a phrase similar to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Cold Shot.” On the upbeats, strum the open strings with upstrokes, then immediately mute them with your fret hand. In FIGURE 3, we apply the same fretting technique to a Hendrix-style riff on the blues classic “Rock Me Baby.”
A related technique is the rake, a stylistic trademark of B.B. King, which is demonstrated in FIGURE 4. Lay the heel of your pick hand lightly across the lower strings—what is known as palm muting (P.M.)—and drag the pick across them before striking the highest note loud and clear with an emphatic “pop.” When you respond to a clean tone with a dynamic attack, your sound becomes more present and the details of your touch shine through. Cleanliness is a virtue, after all.
Classical cellist Tina Guo will release a new album, Cello Metal, August 4.
The album is noteworthy because it features covers of five heavy metal classics—each featuring a renowned guitarist.
These include Black Sabbath's “Iron Maiden” featuring John 5, Metallica's “Sanitarium” featuring Al Di Meola, Iron Maiden's “The Trooper” featuring Nita Strauss, Slayer's “Raining Blood” featuring Wes Borland and Pantera's “Cowboys from Hell” featuring John Huldt. You can check out “Raining Blood” below.
The album also features five original compositions, including “Child of Genesis,” “The God Particle,” “Eternal Night,” “Forbidden City” and “Queen Bee,” which can be heard (and seen) in the bottom video below.
iTunes Pre-orders will start July 7 and will include an early download of “Iron Man.” You also can preorder the album here.
For more information, visit tinaguo.com.
In the video below, Mark Tremonti shows you how to play “Another Heart,” the latest single from the new Tremonti album, Cauterize.
Note that Tremonti's tuning for this lesson is C# G# C# F# A# D#.
Cauterize, which was released last month, is available now via iTunes.
For another Cauterize lesson video featuring Tremonti, head here.
Here’s how the average guitarist’s brain functions in response to being unhappy with tone …
Problem: Weedy tone.
Guitarist’s brain says: “Buy a Les Paul.”
Problem: Wooly tone.
Guitarist’s brain says: “Buy a Strat. No—a Tele. No, wait … buy both. And a new amp, just in case.”
One simple problem. One $2,500 solution.
Neurologists understand the reason for this kind of thinking. The brain is seated directly behind the eyes, where it is easily stimulated by bright and shiny things. Simultaneously, the brain is a financially insensitive organ, precisely because it’s located at the point on the human body farthest from the wallet.
This is science.
So let’s be financially sensitive and find the cheapest way to get better tone. I know, that doesn’t sound very rock and roll. It sounds like your dad complaining about the price of hamburger between naps on the Barcalounger.
But no one has to know except you and me. Just try a 25-cent experiment. Try a different guitar pick.
Even if you own half a dozen guitars, twice that many pedals and several amps, you probably use the same Fender Medium pick on each guitar, from acoustic to electric, whether you play folk or metal. That pick is a great, classic, middle-of-the-road, dad-approved choice. But music is about shaking things up, trying new things.*
So this time, buy a different pick instead of a different guitar. That little divided wooden box on the counter of every guitar store on the planet contains a potent selection of plectrums for changing your sound and even the playability of your instrument.
That’s because picks come in a variety of materials, from felt, to plastic, to wood, steel, and stone. They can be thick or thin, big or small, round or sharp, and all shapes in between.
And what a difference something as simple as a pick can make.
On my acoustic guitar I recently changed from playing solo with lots of airy open tunings to jamming with Cajun musicians who want me to play loud, chunky cowboy chords. My first time with them I was lost in the mix. The next day I did just what my guitarist brain suggested, and went to half a dozen music stores auditioning jumbo-bodied guitars.
They were great fun to explore, but something was still missing in my sound. It was too plinky, not up-front enough. Then I thought about the box full of dozens of different kinds of guitar picks I’ve bought over the years. After I got home I tried each kind to see the effect it might make.
In the end, I switched from my usual oversized, thin, pointy-tipped nylon pick to a very rounded, stubby, hard plastic one. The result was a big change in sound. Most obvious was the leap in volume. It was easily as different as switching from my OM to a dreadnought. The tone was rounder and more direct, without any accompanying “click” from the pick—an altogether smoother, even sound, great for pounding out straight four-to-the-bar and waltz rhythms.
The surprise was that it also affected my right-hand playing technique. No more having to carefully lift up the pick from one string and locate it onto the next. The stubbier pick just glided from string to string, letting me brush chords more easily and slide in bass runs here and there. A side benefit was that by being so smooth and producing more volume, I didn’t have to work as hard to get the sound out, saving wear and tear on my wrist—an important consideration after strumming unamplified for three hours non-stop in a noisy pub.
Give it a try. In fact, seeing how cheap picks are, give it lots of tries. And don’t worry, you can get a bright and shiny rock and roll one—and even carry it in your wallet, far from your brain.
*Legal Disclaimer: Fender Corporation makes absolutely amazing picks. And guitars and amps. You have the address I sent you guys, right?