Articles on this Page
- 05/08/14--13:50: _Song Facts: The Bea...
- 05/08/14--14:28: _Video: Joe Bonamass...
- 05/09/14--07:59: _Kirk Hammett: Metal...
- 05/09/14--08:42: _Schecter Announces ...
- 05/09/14--09:14: _'In My Soul': Rober...
- 05/09/14--09:47: _Jazz Guitar Corner:...
- 05/09/14--11:24: _Video Exclusive: Uk...
- 05/09/14--11:29: _Jason Becker Tribut...
- 05/09/14--12:54: _Cigar Box: How to B...
- 05/09/14--13:28: _Tomás Doncker Band ...
- 05/09/14--14:02: _Railhammer Launches...
- 05/09/14--16:00: _Contest: Enter for ...
- 05/10/14--10:57: _Take a Dip in the "...
- 05/10/14--17:29: _Lesson: Sunday Stru...
- 05/10/14--19:24: _Jimmy Page Receives...
- 05/11/14--19:29: _Exclusive Preview: ...
- 05/12/14--05:55: _Guitar World DVD: M...
- 05/12/14--05:55: _Ax Men: Zakk Wylde ...
- 05/12/14--06:00: _Essential Listening...
- 05/12/14--07:37: _Interview: Billy Du...
- 05/08/14--13:50: Song Facts: The Beatles — "Let It Be" (Both Versions)
- 05/08/14--14:28: Video: Joe Bonamassa and Zakk Wylde Perform Cream's "Crossroads"
- 05/09/14--08:42: Schecter Announces Cheech and Chong Limited-Edition Guitars
- 05/09/14--11:24: Video Exclusive: Ukulele Master Jake Shimabukuro Performs Live
- 05/09/14--13:28: Tomás Doncker Band Cover Howlin' Wolf's "Evil"— Exclusive Premiere
- 05/09/14--14:02: Railhammer Launches Bob Balch Signature Pickups
- 05/10/14--17:29: Lesson: Sunday Strum – Episode 8: Right Hand Flow
- 05/11/14--19:29: Exclusive Preview: Stream Julian Fleisher’s New Album, ‘Finally’
- 05/12/14--05:55: Guitar World DVD: Master Heavy Metal Guitar with Metal Mike
- 05/12/14--06:00: Essential Listening: 10 Great Fuzz Guitar Songs
Attentive Beatles fans who purchased Let It Be when it came out in May 1970 noticed something very different about the album version of the title track: The guitar solo was markedly changed from what they'd heard on the "Let It Be" single released two months earlier.
The reason was down to the producers: the 45-rpm version was produced by George Martin; the album version was produced by Phil Spector. The track began life at Apple Studios on January 31, 1969, the last day of the Get Back sessions.
It originally featured McCartney on piano and lead vocals, Harrison playing his Stratocaster through his Leslie cabinet, Lennon on Fender Bass VI, Billy Preston on organ and Ringo on drums. Lennon and Harrison provided backing vocals. On April 30, Harrison wiped his Stratocaster part, recording over it using his rosewood Telecaster, also played through his Leslie.
Nothing more was done with the track until January 4, 1970. With Let It Be finally slated for release, McCartney, Harrison and Starr began to select tracks and fix numerous problems with the performances. On this day, George Martin had McCartney replace Lennon's clumsy bass work with a new bass track. He also added new harmony vocals from Harrison and McCartney, brass, cellos, additional drums and percussion, and a new and cutting guitar solo from Harrison, played on his Les Paul, nicknamed Lucy.
This new solo and the solo from April 30, 1969, existed side by side on the eight-track master tape. When Martin mixed the song for the single, he favored the April 30 solo (although the original Strat solo from January 31, while erased on April 30, can be heard buried in the mix, perhaps from having leaked onto the track of another instrument).
Martin also placed the cello and brass overdubs lower in his mix. His version of the song clocked in at 3:52. Phil Spector did precisely the opposite for the album version, raising the cello and brass in his mix and placing Harrison's Les Paul solo from January 4, 1970, in the spotlight. (The original Strat solo can again be heard, as on the Martin mix.) Spector also extended the song's length by splicing in a third chorus of the "Let it be, let it be ... " refrain, bringing his version of the song to 4:03.
RECORDED: January 31,1969, Apple Studios; April 30, 1969, Abbey Road Studio Three; January 4, 1970, Abbey Road Studio Two
As the headline implies, what we've got here is a fan-filmed video of Joe Bonamassa and Zakk Wylde performing Cream's "Crossroads."
The show took place in mid-December 2013 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Be sure to tell us what you think of their performance in the comments below or on Facebook!
And, of course, Cream's legendary 1968 live version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" is included in Guitar World's list of Eric Clapton's 50 Greatest Guitar Moments.
To see exactly where it landed on our list — and exactly what we said about it and the other 49 songs — head in this general direction.
Metallica fans were given a welcome surprise when the band debuted their new "Lords of Summer" demo in March.
But it seems the metal masses will have to wait a bit longer for the release of their new full-length, which will be the follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic.
"We totally want to make an album," says lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. "But we have all these other touring commitments, and we have families now. It’s gonna be summertime soon, and it’s hard to work because the kids are out of school."
"But we have a backlog of riffs in the riff bank," he continues. "Now it’s about picking riffs out, putting them together and moving along. Later, we’ll revisit it all and see where it goes. We’ve all said to each other that September is gonna be the time when we buckle down. I know I told everyone it was gonna be last January…but that’s just the way it goes! [laughs]"
While the band has stated that the "Lords of Summer" demo is representative of Metallica's current "creative headspace," Hammett points out that even that track is still being refined.
"Because of everything we had going on, I didn’t have time to work out the guitar solo in 'Lords of Summer'," says Hammett. "The solo that’s on the demo track was all we had time to do. I barely knew what I was gonna do and didn’t have time to really formulate anything. We told everyone that the song was a demo version…and the solo is really a demo version. [laughs] If you compare the solo in the demo version to what I’ve been playing live at those South American shows, it’s a lot better and more refined now."
Below, you can listen to the "Lords of Summer" Garage Demo and compare the solo to the updated version contained in their live performance of the new track:
Photo by Jimmy Hubbard
Schecter Guitar Research and Cheech and Chong are set to produce a limited number of graphic guitars to be created and sold under the Schecter Guitar brand.
The comedy and musical duo started entertaining audiences in the early Seventies with their pot-smoking comedy routines and parody tunes. They've produced albums and counterculture movies that centered on the comedic side of the marijuana culture — and a love of the rock lifestyle.
“There's no better time than now to create such a great line of collectable guitars; especially considering that 18 states have now legalized marijuana for medical use, and two for recreational purposes,” says Allen Steelgrave, director of marketing/artist relations for Schecter Guitars.
Look for the guitars to hit stores by mid-summer 2014. The first series will be available only through Sam Ash locations.
Widely recognized as one of the greatest blues guitarists of our time, Robert Cray has pretty much done it all in his four decades of making music. Cray has written songs or shared the stage with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Copeland and Eric Clapton.
For Cray’s 17th studio album, In My Soul (released April 1), the five-time Grammy winner once again reasserts himself as one of the great musical storytellers with an inspired collection of original blues/soul material as well as takes on songs by Otis Redding, Mable John and Bobby "Blue" Bland.
I recently spoke with Cray about his new album as well as some of the highlights from his 40 years in music.
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the new album, In My Soul?
Everybody knows we've been dabbling in the soul vein for the longest time, but I think this record has more soul on it than any record we've ever done. It's got a lot of different flavors of soul on it.
Tell me about a few of the recent personnel changes to the band.
In addition to our longtime bass player Richard Cousins, we recently added Dover Weinberg back to the lineup playing organ and piano. He used to be in the band in the late Seventies, and he rejoined us in late November just before we went into the studio. We also added Les Falconer on drums. He's been in the band for about a year.
What was it like working with producer Steve Jordan?
Fantastic. This was my third time working with Steve, and he's such a great organizer and gets everyone totally involved in the project. He treats every song as an individual and puts 100 percent-plus into every tune.
When you start a new album project, do you ever go in with an idea of what you want it to sound like ahead of time?
We never do. With this record, no one in the band even knew what the others were going to bring in until a week before we went into the studio. When we presented our material to each other as a band, everyone was pretty much on the same page: We had a lot of soul tunes. Steve also offered a few suggestions for songs — Otis Redding’s “Nobody's Fault But Mine” and the Mable John song, "Your Good Thing Is About to End," the one Lou Rawls made famous. We also decided to do a tribute to Bobby “Blue” Bland, "Deep in My Soul," because we just lost him last year.
Where did the idea for the song “You Move Me” come from?
I remember I was standing outside of the hotel after a gig, waiting for the bus to come pick us up and take us to the next town, when I heard the groove and melody in my head. So I took out my iPhone and hummed the melody into the phone. That's how it started.
Where else do you find inspiration for songs?
I'm not the kind of guy who gets up in the morning, sits down and then tries to force out a tune. I just wait for the idea to come. Most of the ideas for songs come to me when I'm off the road at home and am able to pursue them as they come.
What inspired you to start playing?
I started playing guitar around 1965, right after I saw the Beatles play. I saw them on Ed Sullivan's show, just like everyone else did, and persuaded my mother to buy me a guitar. I wound up with a Harmony Sovereign acoustic to start off with and began taking lessons right away.
You had the pleasure of seeing Jimi Hendrix perform a few times. What was that experience like?
It was incredible. The first time I saw him was at the Seattle Center Coliseum. I remember I was really far away trying to take a picture and he looked like a little speck. The second time I saw him was the year he passed, 1970, when he played outdoors at a baseball stadium. I had already been playing for a few years when I heard him for the first time and out of all of the music I had been listening to up to that point, there was nothing like it.
What was it that first attracted you to the blues?
My parents had a great record collection, so there was always a lot of blues music at home. But it wasn't until I was in high school when everything changed. I had two friends, Bobby Murray, who went on to play with Etta James, and Richard Cousins, our bass player, who both grew up in the same area as me and played guitar. I remember Bobby had teamed up with another guy in town who was listening to a lot of B.B. King, Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf, and every day after school the three of us would go check out the music and buy all of these great Blues records. That's when I really got into it.
Can you tell me the origin of your 1986 hit, “Smoking Gun”?
It started out as a lyric by one of our producers, Bruce Bromberg. He came in with the lyrics and passed them to me and Richard and we took to putting the music to it. Bruce gave us some lyrics; I read the lyrics and the lyrics told us to play that music. That's how it came about.
What are some of the biggest highlights of your 40 years in music?
There have been a lot of them. As teenagers, we wanted to be blues men and bought all of those records and then got to meet many of the people we idolized. I got to sit in and perform with Muddy Waters; we got to play with John Lee Hooker and Albert Collins and make records with both of them. I played with Eric Clapton and got to be on his Journeyman record and wrote a song with him called "Old Love." There's a whole lot of amazing things that have happened over the years.
What makes the blues so special?
I like the emotion that's brought about in that type of music. The honesty and sincerity. For me, nothing is any more convincing than listening to Elmore James’ voice cracking in “The Sky Is Crying.” It’s so pure and so deep. It's that kind of raw emotion that makes the blues so special.
Photo: Jeff Katz
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metal head who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “How do I add chord extensions to my soloing ideas?” To help answer this question, in this lesson we’ll be looking at an easy, fun and effective way to bring extension notes into your jazz guitar solos — upper structure triads.
What Are Upper Structure Triads?
To begin, let’s take a look at what exactly upper structure triads are and how you can apply them to your jazz guitar soloing ideas. Upper structure triads are three-note chords — triads — that use the notes beyond the root-3-5-7 arpeggio structure of any chord.
This means they use the 9th, 11th and 13th notes of any chord, which are the 2nd, 4th and 6th notes, but up one octave to be placed above the underlying arpeggio shape.
Here is an example of a C major scale written out in scale form, first two bars, followed by the arpeggio and upper structure triad for that chord. When you build upper structure triads, you can label them as you would any triad.
This means that in the case of Cmaj7, you can play a Dm triad (D F A or 9 11 13) over a Cmaj7 chord to outline all of those sounds in your playing.
You can apply Upper Structure Triads to any chord that you are soloing over in a jazz context, not just the maj7 chord in the first example.
In this lesson we’ll be looking at applying upper structure triads to the I VI ii V chord progression. To help you understand the triads that work over each of these chords, here they are in the key of C to study and practice from a technical standpoint before moving on to the licks in the lesson below.
Or, to think of it as Roman numerals, in order to make things easily transposable to other keys, here are the numerals for each chord and upper triad.
A good exercise to get these sounds under your fingers is to play the original arpeggio followed by the upper structure triad for each of these chords in different parts of the fretboard, and in different keys as you solidify this concept in your ears and under your fingers in your practice routine.
Upper Structure Lick 1
Here's a sample lick that will help you hear and apply the sound of upper structure triads to a I VI ii V chord progression, which is commonly found in countless jazz tunes from the classic repertoire.
When you’ve worked this lick out on the neck, try writing out three to five licks of your own that use upper structure triads as the basis for your lines, moving on to applying these ideas to other progressions beyond I VI ii V as well in your woodshedding.
As is the case with any lick you learn, work this phase in the key of C before moving it around to the other 11 keys on the fretboard. Also, try soloing over a tune you know or are working out in the practice room and use this idea over various sections of that tune where the chords apply.
Lydian and Lydian Dominant Triads
When soloing in a jazz context, many players prefer the sound of a #11 to a natural 11 when playing over maj7 and 7th chords. This is due to the 3rd and 11th of those chords being a half-step apart, causing a bit of tension when playing the 11th over the 3rd in a soloing context.
To avoid this dissonance, you can use upper structure triads to build #11 sounds over both maj7 and 7th chords in your soloing phrases. Here is how you would do that over both a Cmaj7 and G7 chord.
Or, written as Roman numerals, these chords and upper triads would be:
Meaning that if you have a Imaj7 chord, you can play a major triad from the second note of that chord to produce the maj7#11 sound. Same goes for the V7 chord, where you play a major triad from the second note of that chord to produce a 7#11 sound.
Once you have worked out the theory behind these #11 sounds, try working them out on the fretboard, and then bringing them to your soloing phrases when improvising in order to expand upon them in your jazz guitar practice routine.
Upper Structure Lick 2
To help you get the maj7#11 and 7#11 sounds into your playing using upper structure triads, here is the same lick that you just learned in the previous section, with the 11ths being raised to #11s over the Cmaj7 and G7 chords.
Work this lick out in the woodshed, and then try and write out 3 to 5 licks of your own that use maj7#11 and 7#11 upper structure triads to build your lines.
Once you have this lick under your fingers in the key of C major, try taking it to other keys and applying it to tunes you know or are working on in the woodshed.
Upper structure triads are fairly simple to get under your fingers, as they’re based on three-note shapes, but as you can see, they can expand your soloing chops and provide new colors to your jazz guitar soloing lines and phrases.
Do you have a question about upper structure triads? Share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below!
Matt Warnock is the owner of mattwarnockguitar.com, a free website that provides hundreds of lessons and resources designed to help guitarists of all experience levels meet their practice and performance goals. Matt lives in the UK, where he is a lecturer in Popular Music Performance at the University of Chester and an examiner for the London College of Music (Registry of Guitar Tutors).
You might think that ukulele is just a simple instrument perfect for strumming little ditties. I did.
But Jake Shimabukuro proved me wrong!
Perhaps best known for his renditions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on ukulele, Shimabukuro can be described as no less than a master musician.
Recently he released a concert DVD, Grand Ukulele: Live in Boulder, that showcases his live performance prowess.
Recorded live at the Boulder Theater in Colorado, the DVD features material from Jake's 2012 album Grand Ukulele, which garnered praise for its “intricate originals and shrewdly arranged pop covers” (NY Times). I agree. After checking it out myself, I found it pretty fabulous.
We were lucky enough to spend some time with Jake recently in the Acoustic Nation studio, where we talked, he played and we even jammed for a minute or two!
Here, let Shimbukuro blow your mind with these incredible in studio live performances:
Here he plays his original, “Ukulele 5-0”
Check out his song “Dragon.” Here he uses some effects pedals and a looper. Incredible!
Shimabukuro is currently touring widely. Check out his tour schedule and more at http://jakeshimabukuro.com
Guitarist Chris Mike has posted a one-man performance video for his new song, "For Jason."
The track, which appears on Mike's new instrumental album, Not Just Lipstick On a Pig, is a tribute to Jason Becker.
Best of all, Becker has heard the track and seen the clip — and he approves! "Wow, this is absolutely fantastic," Becker said. "I love it and am honored he did it for me. It is so clean and creative. He is great!"
Hopefully, you've recovered from all the sawing and hours of sanding from last time!
Before we continue building our axe, I wanted to introduce you to Ben Prestage.
I'm a huge Ben Prestage fan. The first time I came across Ben was this clip (below) of him covering a Primus song.
I thought, “Primus on a CBG (cigar box guitar)? No way!" But he made me a believer. What is that guitar he is playing made out of? Two broom sticks, sewing machine bobbin pickups, a bass guitar and a three-string slide guitar? Awesome! (The guitar is called a Lowebow, named after its creator, John Lowe, who also is a master of the cigar box guitar and a great one-man-band performer).
While watching this clip, I kept looking to see where the rest of his band was, but it’s just him. It's unbelievable how one person can make such a big sound.
Oh, and check out the Sharpie he's using for a capo. Bad ass!
Music is in Ben's blood. His great-grandmother was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson and participated in medicine shows. His late grandfather, a Mississippi sharecropper, turned Ben onto the sounds and culture of Mississippi and blues in general.
Ben is noted for his interesting approach to instrumentation (finger-style guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap steel, fiddle, resonator guitar, foot-drums and vocals) and his award-winning original songwriting (He's been named Most Unique Performer at the Songwriters Showcase of America). He also is nominated for an Independent Music Award and Blues Music Award.
Here's Ben in concert (below) at the Belgium Bluegrass Festival, showing his full range as a musician. I don't know what it is — the howl of his voice, maybe the growl of the guitar? — but I dig it!
At 32:00, he picks up the Lowebow and plays a song called "2:19." At 37:00, he introduces his “band." It blows my mind how someone can play a cigar box guitar, drums and sing and have it sound like a three- or four-piece band.
Now that you've been inspired, let’s get back to building that axe.
Tuning Pegs: There are some guides online on where to put your tuning pegs on a CBG, but I like to keep it simple. I set them on top of the headstock and make a mark where I want them to go. I make sure I place the tuning peg for the middle string in about 1/4 inch from the side so I won’t have to use a string tree. I use the 3/8-inch drill bit to drill the holes. Make sure you leave enough on the side so there's enough wood to hold the tuning peg in place.
At the tail end of the guitar we are going to make three holes for our tension pins to hold our strings in place. I use a 1/8-inch bit and drill three holes. One is in the center; the other two are 1/4 inch from the sides. Take a hammer and gently tap in each tension pin, making sure the open or cut side is toward the bottom of the guitar.
Now let’s apply some sealer to the neck. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Do not put sealer on the neck where the fret board will go or on the part of the neck that will be inside the box.
While that is drying, let’s find some spots for some sound holes. I like putting the sound holes near the corners of the box because we can’t put them in the center, since our neck is going to be glued to the lid. If you're using grommets, make sure you match up the size hole you will need to fit the grommet. They aren’t necessary, but they look cool. Use some super glue to hold them in place.
After a few coats of sealer and install your tuning pegs. It’s really starting to look like something now!
I’ve decided to build a second CBG to show you some of the cool things that are out there for cigar box guitars. I will unveil what I’ve been working on in our next post, but CB Gitty provided us with some cool gear to bling it up.
• Black Skull Sealed-Gear Guitar Tuners
• Red Skull on Black Speed Knobs
• Chrome and Black Biohazard 40mm Soundhole Cover
• 27mm Piezos with Leads
• Dimpled Chrome Ovoid Curved-Profile Jack Plates.
Here's your recon mission for next time:
• Soldering kit: Check out your local hardware store. Radio Shack also has them for pretty cheap.
• Pickup: Peizos are great for that lo-fi sound and are pretty cheap, but magnetic pickups work great too. They just require it to be grounded to the bridge and a off-set neck.
• 1/4-inch mono phone jack
• About 3 feet of hook-up wire
• Volume pot: It's not needed if you're doing the electric thing, but it's nice to have. You can pick them up for only a few bucks, so why not?
All of the electrical gear can be found on eBay or, you guessed it, at CB Gitty.
Original-Flatpup pickups are really cool, very thin handmade pickups. I've had my eye on these for some time now, and it's a pleasure to use one of them in our project. It might be small, but it packs a big punch.
Original-Flatpup pickups are hand-made by Elmar Zeilhofer in Vienna, Austria. He designed them to be thin enough to fit between the strings and the top of the box. He also makes one to replace a full-size humbucker if you want to add a little DIY to your standard guitar. He makes these as a single craftsman, which kinda adds exclusivity to buy one, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
It has a very full, bright sound that's like nothing you've heard before. Once I tried them out, I was hooked; humbuckers and P90s just aren't good enough anymore. We will be talking more about Original-Flatpup pickups in our next blog post, and we'll share a few clips of people trying them out.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss the next one!
Keep on playing ...
For more information on Ben Prestage, visit benprestagemusic.com.
For more information on Original-Flatpup pickups, visit original-flatpup.com.
Brian Saner owns Saner Cigar Box Guitars, which makes custom handmade guitars and amps using local dry-aged wood in every guitar. These guitars are handmade and might have imperfections, but that's what makes them unique. Once you hear the howl of a CBG, you might not want to play a Fender or Gibson again. Get one at sanercigarboxguitars.com, devildownrecords.com/guitars and Main Street Gallery. Check out his Facebook page.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of "Evil" by New York City soul icon Tomás Doncker.
The track is from Doncker's full-on Howlin' Wolf tribute album, Moanin' At Midnight, which will be released July 8. Be sure to tell us what you think of it in the comments or on Facebook!
You can check out the album's track list below.
For more about Doncker and the new album, follow the Tomás Doncker Band on Facebook.
Moanin' At Midnight Track List:
02. Killing Floor
03. Back Door Man
04. Moanin' At Midnight
06. Blind Melon Morpheus
08. I Ain't Superstitious
09. Smokestack Lightning
10. Moanin' At Midnight (Ras Jah Ames Dub Mix)
Railhammer has released a new pickup designed in collaboration with Bob Balch, riffmeister with stoner rock/fuzz metal progenitors Fu Manchu.
The Bob Balch Signature is based on the Chisel model, but features a brass cover and brass baseplate.
The brass slightly reduces output and treble while enhancing the overall mid-range. The result is a thick tone with excellent clarity that cuts through even with heavy fuzz and is warm and articulate in clean settings.
This pickup is designed for stoner rock, fuzz metal, post-Sabbath or for any player looking for a unique combination of clarity and warm mid-range. The neck version features reduced output for increased clarity and tone/volume balance with the bridge version.
Thin rails under the wound strings sense a narrow section of string, producing a tight, clear tone. Large poles under the plain strings sense a wide section of string, producing a fat, thick tone. This allows players to dial in a tight clear tone on the wound strings without the plain strings sounding thin or sterile. The result is improved clarity and tonal balance across all the strings.
Touch sensitivity, sustain and harmonic content are also enhanced by the extremely efficient magnetic structure, and the elimination of any moving parts. The strong magnetic field also prevents any dead spots when bending strings (including on the round pole side).
Other features include universal spacing, four-conductor wiring with independent ground and height tapered rails for consistent volume across all the strings.
For more information, visit railhammer.com.
Announcing Songwriter Sessions: Live! Enter for your chance to not only perform your song on the Acoustic Nation stage, but to also have it critiqued and discussed by #1 hit songwriter and Songtown USA founder, Clay Mills and Acoustic Nation editor, Laura B. Whitmore.
That's right! We're taking submissions for five singer/songwriters who will have the opportunity to perform live in front of the exclusive NAMM crowd of industry luminaries on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 12:00pm at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN.
But this isn't just about performance, it's about songwriting. And that's why multi-platinum songwriter Clay Mills and Acoustic Nation editor Laura B. Whitmore will also talk about why they selected the winning songs, tips on improving their composition and delivery.
They'll also take questions from the audience and the entire session will be taped live and shared on AcousticNation.com and GuitarWorld.com.
It's a chance for you to share your songs with a music industry crowd, and learn more about what makes great songs tick.
Three songs will be personally selected by Clay Mills and Laura B. Whitmore, and the other two will be voted on by fans and friends.
So submit your songs today! Submissions close June 6, 2014. Travel and lodging is the responsibility of the winner and is not provided. Winners will also receive a free pass for the 2014 Nashville NAMM show.
The late Jackie Lomax was born on this date (May 10) in 1944.
I'd like to celebrate this seemingly arbitrary milestone by discussing the most famous thing Lomax, a former member of a Liverpool band called the Undertakers, has ever been involved in — the recording of "Sour Milk Sea."
The song, which was recorded and released in 1968, is legendary because it is very nearly a Beatles recording.
Like a lot of Beatles songs, "Sour Milk Sea" was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Also like a lot of Beatles songs, it was written by George Harrison and features Harrison on lead guitar, Paul McCartney on bass and Ringo Starr on drums.
John Lennon didn't take part in the session. However, we get to hear the brilliance of Cream guitarist Eric Clapton (who played on the Beatles'"While My Guitar Gently Weeps") and ace session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins (who played on the Beatles'"Revolution") on piano.
That's Lomax on vocals.
"I wrote 'Sour Milk Sea' in Rishikesh, India," Harrison said. "I never actually recorded the song. It was done by Jackie Lomax on his album Is This What You Want? It's based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art. 'What is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere.' It's a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea — Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit. I used 'Sour Milk Sea' as the idea of — if you're in the shit, don't go around moaning about it: Do something about it."
"Sour Milk Sea" was released as a Jackie Lomax single in August 1968 on Apple Records.
"With Eric Clapton playing on it, it was on fire," Lomax said. "When the backing tape was played back, I thought it worked as an instrumental. 'You want me to sing on top of that?!' There I am in the studio and there are three Beatles in the control room watching me ... I guess I was nervous at first, but after a couple of takes I was into it."
Clapton's jamming guitar solo starts at 1:50; Harrison's melody-based guitar solo starts at 2:08. Enjoy!
In today’s episode of Sunday Strum, I show you a basic skill for making your right hand a little more fluid.
Keeping your hand in constant motion throughout a strumming pattern will facilitate better rhythm and thus a better performance.
I often see the common mistake of only moving the strumming hand when there is a rhythm to hit.
This can sound a bit robotic and forced.
In turn, it may lead to incorrect rhythms and playing out of time.
As usual, the technique I demonstrate in the video can be applied to any rhythms where alternate strumming is used.
Here’s a diagram of the strum pattern I use:
Justin Horenstein is a guitar instructor and musician in the Washington, DC metro area who graduated (cum laude) from the Berklee College of Music in 2006. He plays in Black Clouds, a 3-piece atmospheric/experimental band. Their debut album was recorded by J Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Justin’s 18 years of musical experience also includes touring the U.S., a record deal under Sony, starting his own teaching business, recording several albums, and playing club shows with national acts including Circa Survive, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Biffy Clyro, United Nations, Caspian, and more.
Earlier today, May 10, Jimmy Page delivered the commencement address to more than 4,000 guests at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Page, the former Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Firm guitarist, also received an honorary doctor of music degree along with Valerie Simpson, Geri Allen and Thara Memory.
Page, 70, told the audience he was overwhelmed by the performances of his songs at a concert that took place the previous night at Berklee's Agganis Arena. He also called his prepared speech "useless" before addressing the enthusiastic crowd.
“What a spirit there is here," Page told the crowd. "Music has so much power across so many avenues, to be in a position to do the thing you’re best at, which is making music, and bringing joy and pleasure to other people, it can’t be much better than that. I wish to pass that on to all of you. Congratulations with your degrees and lots of success in the future."
The annual commencement concert featured some of the college’s most accomplished students paying tribute to the honorees.
From his seat, Page beamed and nodded his head after renderings and rearrangements of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and "The Ocean" and a guitar medley that included solos and riffs from "How Many More Times,""Heartbreaker,""Dazed and Confused,""Whole Lotta Love" and "Stairway to Heaven," among others.
You can check out a photo gallery from the event, plus a video created by the Boston Herald, below.
Photo: Kelly Davidson
We’re delighted to preview Julian Fleisher’s new album, Finally, releasing May 13 on Modern Records.
Fleisher will be celebrating with an album release show at Joe's Pub on May 14, 2014.
This sweet collection of whimsical songs has a theatrical bent, perhaps if only because the story-telling is so well-crafted.
With a velvety voice reminiscent of Mel Torme and an ability to deliver like Sammy Davis, Jr, Fleisher’s performance abilities play as much of a star role as his songwriting.
But don’t mistake me, the songwriting is extremely strong. From the imaginative, cleverly fun lyrics of the title track, “Finally” to my tongue-twisting favorite, “What You Need,” to the endearing and lovely, "Nothing Worth Loving," the collection also includes some wonderful acoustic guitar and full-band accompaniments.
Fleisher also includes covers that showcase his passionate but intimate performance skills.
The 10-track album was written and produced by Fleisher and follows his critically acclaimed Rather Big album. Finally is a bit more understated, but still includes the Julian flair and voice that fans and critics love.
Hear the complete album stream exclusively here:
The album was recorded in New York and features Julian's longtime collaborators Tedd Firth, Nick Mancini, Pete Smith, Matt Clohesy, Chris Michael and Tom Murray. Finally takes listeners on a more intimate, personal journey on which the writing is the focus.
Shedding his usually brainy covers and full-tilt horn arrangements that so characterized Rather Big, this new album puts the focus on Julian as a writer, a craft he's been developing more and more over the last few years. That's not to say he doesn't give a nod to his well-known material on Finally. Just check out his incredibly fun cover of the classic "Tomorrow" from Annie, which closes out the album.
When asked how he felt about moving away from his well-known sound, Fleisher says, "No question, it feels like a rise to me." He goes on, "Naturally, I wonder what folks will make of a recording that's more intimate and less showy than my old stuff. But, the truth is, people have always responded intensely to my own tunes and many of them were written without my Rather Big Band in mind.”
He continues, “I've kept my rhythm section, of course. I mean, you would too if yours could play like mine does. But I asked them to tone down their insane virtuosity and to turn their talents to simpler gestures and more direct statements. The results, I think, are amazing. As is often the case, when you put restrictions on talent like that, you discover a world of new ideas that are as compelling as they are surprising."
Fleisher came to New York from his native Baltimore via New Haven. The son of world-renowned concert pianist Leon Fleisher, Julian was first heard as a boy soprano, a student of the classical repertoire at his hometown's prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music. After his four-year stint at Yale—where he sang in concerts, with á cappella singing group Redhot & Blue and on stage in roles ranging from The Threepenny Opera's Mack the Knife to Guys and Doll's Sky Masterson—Julian took on New York.
There, his love of singing unencumbered by the demands of playing a role led him out of the theater and into the nightclub, where his wide embrace of all corners of the pop songbook, his barn-burning Rather Big Band and a fresh and irreverent performance style garnered him rave reviews and comparisons to predecessors as diverse as Sammy Davis, Jr., Mel Torme and Lenny Bruce.
His regular gigs at such stalwart New York venues as Joe's Pub, BAM, Symphony Space, The 92nd St Y and The World Trade Center's Winter Garden led him to start writing his own songs and to collaborating with a host of partners both on and off the stage.
Between his concerts, the recording studio, the theater and his popular podcast Julian Fleisher's Guilty Pleasures, Julian has recently sung, written, gigged, produced or appeared with, among others, Kiki & Herb, Molly Ringwald, Martha Plimpton, Issac Mizrahi, Jennifer Holiday, Lauren Graham, Ana Gasteyer, Nellie McKay, Rufus Wainwright, Mo Rocca, Bridget Everett, Paul Schaefer, Keith Carradine, Joshua Malina, David Rakoff and even, Sally Field.
Find out more at julianfleisher.com
Laura B. Whitmore is the editor of Guitar World's Acoustic Nation. A singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area, she's also a veteran music industry marketer, and has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents Dean Markley, Peavey Electronics, SIR Entertainment Services, Music First, Guitar World and many more. Laura is the founder of the Women's International Music Network at thewimn.com, producer of the She Rocks Awards and the Women's Music Summit and co-hosts regular songwriter nights for the West Coast Songwriters Association. More at mad-sun.com.
The Metal For Life: Mastering Heavy Metal DVD is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for only $14.95.
Strap on your ax for an extreme-metal boot camp, as Metal Mike Chlasciak helps you hone your chops to perfection! You'll learn how to traverse the fretboard with ever-essential minor pentatonic scale, incorporate minor scales into riffs and rhythm parts, build power-chord variations for maximum sonic effect and much more.
Plus, you'll get a first-hand tutorial in playing black and death metal and creating licks in the styles of:
... and more!
Also, learn 10 essential metal licks every guitarist should know!
With over two hours of lessons, this DVD is perfect for any skill-level in the heavy metal genre.
A longtime contributor to Guitar World magazine with his "Metal for Life" instructional column, Metal Mike Chlasciak plays guitar for Halford and with his own band. His latest releases are The Metalworker and This is War, available from metalmike.net.
It’s difficult to imagine two human beings more different than Joe Satriani and Zakk Wylde, even just in terms of physical appearance.
Satriani is slight and slender, with a clean-shaven face and head. Wylde is big and hairy, with full beard and black-leather biker garb encasing his paunchy frame.
As the two men stand side by side before a white backdrop inside a San Francisco area photo studio, the contrast is even more dramatic. To a stranger viewing the scene, the guitars they’re holding would be the only clue to why the hell they’re posing together.
Not surprisingly, the inner man matches the outer in both cases. Satriani has always been an introspective guitar hero. He broods long and hard on the creative processes behind the records and concerts that have placed him at the vanguard of virtuoso rock guitar playing for the past three decades.
On the other hand, it’s hard to conceive of Zakk Wylde ever experiencing anything like moments of introspection, let alone being familiar with the term. His abundant store of energy is direct outward, mostly in the frenzied flurry of rapid-fire guitar notes that have made him a metal guitar icon. His conversation is, oddly, like his guitar playing: it comes in nonstop verbal torrents heavily peppered with off-color jokes and personal references that only a Wylde fan could understand.
Riffing on his Catholicism, he rattles off the names of his guitar heroes as if they belonged to some ecclesiastical hierarchy—Saint Rhoads, Pope Page, Father Vai… And like all true rock and roller outsiders—especially one from New Jersey—Wylde is an advanced master of the fine art of inserting the f-word into every sentence whether it fits or not.
And while Satriani and Wylde seem so different as people, they are nonetheless brothers-in-shred and good friends of many years. So when Guitar World suggested that they meet up to share stories and insights from their many years of fretboard glory, they were happy to oblige. Wylde paused en route to a business meeting with iTunes to make the date, and Satriani valiantly rose from a sickbed, where he’d been battling an exceptionally nasty cold recently.
At the end of day, all agreed that it was well worth the effort to get together and compare notes on life at the pinnacle of rock guitar mastery.
Can you remember the first time you heard one another’s playing?
ZAKK WYLDE I’d just gotten my gig with Ozzy when I first heard Surfing with the Alien. And I thought, Wow…great melodies, great chops. Just awesome songs. Whenever I hear Joe playing, it kind of sounds like Billy Gibbons if Billy Gibbons had Al Di Meola’s fucking technique. ’Cause it grooves like Billy, but it’s got this insane technique. But aside from how ripping it is technically, there’s that blues in there all the time. And that’s what it’s like with a real player, like Joe. You know where they’re coming from, but they put their own unique spin on it and make it their own thing.
JOE SATRIANI I first heard Zakk probably around the same time, when he started playing with Ozzy. What a shock! The years between 1978 and 1987 were a decade of solid teaching and club work for me. So I was getting exposed to the next generation of guitar players who were starting at a higher level than I did. Higher expectations. Zakk was one of the first players I heard where I was like, “Wow, this bumps it up to a new level.” That was exciting, because the musicianship and the showmanship were both there. You have to have that, because it’s rock and roll.
And what a tough gig Zakk had! He had to follow the legend of Randy Rhoads and Ozzy’s history with Black Sabbath. Zakk’s a multi-instrumentalist as well, and his technique on electric guitar translates beautifully to acoustic. That’s a very important indicator of the power he has, which I noticed right away.
Joe mentioned teaching guitar, which you did as well, Zakk, right?
WYLDE Yeah, before I started playing with Ozzy. Teaching’s great, man. But I also had normal jobs like working in a gas station and in a [supermarket] produce department. I didn’t plan on doing that for the rest of my life, but I had no problems with it because I was doing it to save up for a Marshall amp or a Les Paul or some other piece of gear. But when I taught, it was definitely cool when there were students who would practice and had a passion for the instrument. Not all of them did. But when you had a student who’d come to a lesson and could play all the scales you taught them last time, it was really rewarding.
How did teaching feed into your own playing?
WYLDE It pushes you—especially with the advanced students. They learn all the shit and you gotta have something new to show them the next week. They know all the diatonics and all the pentatonics, so now we start breaking out the diminished scales.
SATRIANI And your job is to crystallize musical concepts—put them into a couple of sentences. ’Cause maybe the kid’s showing up for 30 minutes or something.
WYLDE But then, Jimmy Page always used to say, “The reason I love the guitar is because they didn’t teach it in school.” And I get that. But I always say, if you get a car with a stick shift, eventually you’re going to learn to drive it by yourself. But before you blow through about three transmissions, usually it would be pretty cool if somebody just showed you how to do it. Eventually, sure, you can learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven” by yourself. But you’ll learn it a lot quicker if somebody shows you where to put your fingers.
Apart from obvious names like Hendrix and Page, do you have any guitar heroes in common?
SATRIANI Pete Townshend is one of my heroes, because he’s another guy who brings it all. He can play great, write great songs, and he puts on an amazing show. Quite crazy. I was just reading Pete’s autobiography [2012’s Who I Am: A Memoir] and I learned something I never knew before, and that was that he used a G string that was the same gauge as his B string. So when he did his double-stop bends, both strings would move at the same degree. That hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s an old blues player’s trick, but no one had suggested it to me before.
Was Pete big for you too, Zakk, or too early?
WYLDE No, but I’m on a steady diet of that classic stuff. It started in the sixth grade, when I was into Elton John. But then my friend at school—we were in arts and crafts doing sculpture—made a skull with a lighting bolt going through it, and it said, “Black Sabbath 666.” I go, “What is that?” And he says, “Oh that’s a band my brother listens to. It’s a rock band.”
So the next thing I know, we’re at the mall and my mother says, “Well, you can get a record, but only one.” So I got [the Black Sabbath compilation] We Sold Our Soul for Rock ’n’ Roll. Because it was a double album, so it was like one record, but really it was two. I remember putting the record on and being terrified—and loving it! And Sabbath became a favorite band.
Actually I found Sabbath before I found Led Zeppelin. My friend Scott Smith was my age, and his brother was 44. And he was the one who turned us on to Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Bad Company, Skynyrd… The thing is, if you like Eddie Van Halen, then you should also look into the people who influenced him, like Eric Clapton. And if you like Clapton, you should look into whoever influenced him.
SATRIANI Yeah, and Jimmy Reed and all those blues guys.
WYLDE Exactly. You keep going further and further back. I’d hear Jimmy Page talking about all these blues guys he liked and I would go check them out. And when I joined Ozzy, I remember asking him about Tony Iommi and where he got all his stuff. And Tal Farlow was one of his main guys. I would never have heard about him otherwise.
SATRIANI Mentioning Tony Iommi and Tal Farlow, you remind me that I was really into Black Sabbath when I was a kid. And I took some be-bop lessons from Lenny Tristano. And for the lesson, he’d have me bring in a record and scat-sing the melody and solo, note for note. No playing, just singing. ’Cause his whole thing was getting the music inside of you. So I’d bring in all kind of records—Bird [i.e. Charlie Parker] and Coltrane, McLaughlin and Johnny Winter. And I remember also bringing in “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath. We played the whole album in my high school band, but that song was my favorite, ’cause it was just so weird. And where was that coming from? Jazz players like Tal Farlow.
WYLDE And Barney Kessel.
I believe you’re both big John McLaughlin fans as well.
WYLDE Yeah, without a doubt. When I was 15 years old and started playing, my friend’s band would come over and play covers from Inner Mounting Flame, along with Dixie Dregs songs. Instead of just playing like a Doors song, they were playing stuff note for note off Inner Mounting Flame. It was amazing, the way they were using pentatonic scales, which is something usually associated with crappy rock playing.
SATRIANI Oh, they’re all really cool, when it comes down to it. There’s no scale that’s more potent or powerful than another. It’s all in how it’s used. You have a couple of thousand years of amazing African music, all playing off three different pentatonic scales.
I think Inner Mounting Flame is cool, but for some reason I like Birds of Fire the best. Maybe because it sounded more like a rock record to me or something. Just the way they arranged the whole album.
WYLDE All the guys in that band were out of control, too.
SATRIANI Possibly the best show I ever saw in my life was a concert by the Mahavishnu Orchestra—the original band—at Hofstra University. It was one of those shows I could not believe. Just the musicianship. And I’d seen lots of rock shows. I’d seen the Allman Brothers on the last night of the Fillmore East. I’d seen a lot, but that Mahavishnu concert was something else. I realized, Yes, musicianship can really achieve something incredible.
I saw them in that era too, at the Nassau Coliseum.
SATRIANI Yeah, wow. I also saw them when they recorded their live album, in Central Park.
Something all three of us have in common is that we’re all East Coast guys—from Long Island and New Jersey. Have you ever thought about how coming up in the tri-state area shaped your development as a musician?
SATRIANI Well, you get exposed to everything. That’s the thing. Because the metropolitan area would bring in international music, southern rock and country music when I was growing up.
WYLDE New York City had it all.
SATRIANI You could go to the Nassau Coliseum, which I did. I saw Sabbath there, which is a whole story in itself. It was Lynyrd Skynyrd opening for Sabbath, and Sabbath didn’t come on for two hours. It was wintertime—festival seating on the floor. And for some reason we all started two bonfires. People just started burning coats, shoes, whatever. Then they turned the lights on. The fire marshalls came out and they hosed us down. And there were people throwing bottles…
What year was this? Early Seventies?
SATRIANI’72? Somewhere around there. Then Ozzy came out, and his voice sounded all ragged. He apologized and said he was sick. And the audience just booed. The whole place reeked of fires that had been put out. And we were all covered in fire retardant and water. It was an incredibly exciting concert, I gotta say.
We walked home from there, which was, like, three miles or something, and we just thought it was the best thing ever. ’Cause not only did we get to see Black Sabbath, but it was an experience. I couldn’t hear everyone very well, but I remember that Geezer’s bass was the best thing I’d ever heard in my life. I just remember thinking, If this guitar thing doesn’t work out, I’m gonna be like that guy.
Both of you must have had some memorably cataclysmic gigs of your own.
WYLDE Oh yeah. I remember one time, with Ozzy. We were playing at Irvine Meadows. Ozzy screams at the audience, “All right, who wants to go crazy? Get up here and rock out with the Ozz! Come on…‘Crazy Train!’ ” We break into “Crazy Train” and the audience just rushed forward and started pouring onto the stage. Next thing you know there’s, like, 400 people onstage. We didn’t even get to the guitar solo in “Crazy Train.” Projection screens were breaking off, coming down. A couple of people broke their legs, got pretty banged up. Some of them were grabbing Ozzy. You’re not going to stop that many people rushing up on the stage. Randy [Castillo] stopped playing because they were taking the drums apart. They were stealing the microphones, the cymbals… I remember I got into a fucking brawl with a couple of guys who tried to grab my guitar.
They were taking the buckets of water that Ozzy had onstage and started throwing them around. Some of the water landed on the fucking monitor console. Five-foot flames are shooting out of the fucking monitor console! Complete fucking chaos. At the end of the show I remember them walking out with Ozzy’s TelePrompTer, which was this fucking giant TV screen. Walking right out with a 48-inch screen, monitors, drum sets… Everything was fucking missing. And it was a benefit show for Randy Rhoads—to have his mausoleum built and the whole nine yards. It was just chaos. The damage was ridiculous. Who knows what the lawsuits were.
Didn’t you have security?
WYLDE Not when you get 16,000 people rushing the stage. Sheer numbers, man. You could have the Dallas Cowboys offensive lineup there and they couldn’t have stopped this.
SATRIANI For me it’s gotta be a G3 gig in Kuala Lumpur a number of years ago. Eric Johnson and Steve Vai had done their sets. We were playing in a stadium. It was raining. And by the time they got us onstage, it was four in the morning. We started to play, and I think we played maybe 12 minutes. I remember I was in the middle of “Satch Boogie,” and Galen Henson, who at the time was our tour manager, was making funny hand signals at the side of the stage, like [“cut throat” sign], then the “gun to the head” gesture. I’m used to hand signals like “speed up,” “slow down” or “shorten this,” but this was something different.
Finally, he just comes walking out onstage, right in the middle of the show, and he says, “The army is here, and if we don’t get out of here they’re gonna kill us or put us in jail or something.” And as he’s talking to me, the army showed up on the stage—guys with their machine guns pointing at us. I stopped the band and said, “Everyone, just get into the cars and leave. Forget about the gear.”
I told my tech, Mike Manning, “Leave everything. Just go. Let’s all get out of here.” We were driven back to the hotel by the press agent’s boyfriend, who was a professional race car driver. I don’t know how fast we were going. I was in the back seat. I just kept thinking, It’s okay. I’m not dead. I’m not in jail. It’s gonna be all right.
What was going on? Political unrest?
SATRIANI I just think the army, or the local whoever they were, weren’t paid sufficiently enough to allow us to play so late. This was, like, a two-week festival. Jethro Tull played, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson had played. There were, like, 30 bands that day. By the time we got on it was too late, the situation was getting heavy, and I wasn’t sticking around. So we finally got out. It was about 6:30 in the morning. We’re in the hotel restaurant having beer and noodles. We were at the airport by eight, and we were on a plane and out of there.
WYLDE It was kinda like that Black Sabbath concert! Except for the walk home.
SATRIANI It was so frustrating because I wanted to play! I felt bad for all the people who had come out to hear us.
What recent piece of guitar gear are you finding indispensable these days?
WYLDE I’ve got my new Gibson Moderne going on now: the Moderne of Doom. I used that on my new record and I’m really digging it. And I’m working with the Dunlop guys on a new phase-shifter unit. But I’m not a crazy gearhound. I’ve been using a Marshall JCM800 since my first Ozzy record, and I still use it. I have friends who are constantly changing their gear all the time. And I go, “What did you use on that album? And why aren’t you using it anymore? Because that sounded really good.” So I’ve been using the same amps forever.
Well, yeah, but you do have your own signature model Marshall.
WYLDE Yeah, I actually use the stuff I fuckin’ endorse. So I’ve never understood when friends of mine complain about their endorsement deals. I say, “Why don’t you just ask them to make you what you want?”
And I know Joe really uses his own signature Marshalls. Joe, I remember you telling me how you used some of the custom features on your last album.
SATRIANI Yeah, it was nice. The Marshall thing kind of developed the way it should. It took a long time, which was great, because we could really dial things in. Because if you use a piece of gear on a record and you’re heading in a certain stylistic direction on that record, you think, Wow, this amp is perfect! But then you go out on the road and you’re doing material from your entire catalog, and you go, “Whoa, maybe this amp isn’t going to be able to handle it.”
We wound up doing two or three records and a few live DVDs, so by the time the amp went into production, it had been through so many interesting changes and prototypes. I could report from the road and the studio: “This is what happened.” I just think it’s cool when an artist can spend enough time developing a piece of gear before they put their name on it. It’s like an open set of doors instead of a closed set.
WYLDE And Joe’s signature model guitars: those are Ibanez’s Ferraris—top of the line! It’s the same with me and my guitars. You gotta love what you’re playing.
Which is good advice for any aspiring Zakk Wyldes or Joe Satrianis out there who might one day land an endorsement deal.
SATRIANI Absolutely. Make sure you get it in hand before you say, “Okay, put it on the market and let Guitar World run the ad.” The creative musical artist works in a different way than the creative people who design and build musical instruments.
Zakk and I might have a conversation while we’re having our picture taken that sends one of us off in some new musical direction. And because we’re performing artists, we want to share our ideas with the public right away. But that’s not how the industry of manufacturing instruments and amplifiers works. It can take two years to develop a product, and by then we may be off on three different artistic tangents.
And that’s where the problem lies. Sometimes the industry wants to say, “Yeah, but could you just sign off on this today?” I always say resist as long as you can until that thing is what you really like.
Where do each of you go for inspiration when you’re having a dry period, when it’s just not happening?
SATRIANI I like playing vintage instruments. That usually helps me out. Sometimes you pick up an old piece of gear that you wouldn’t normally play and then you have a limited range. Guys like Zakk and me play a very modern style of guitar. We need instruments that can withstand a lot of pressure.
We’re cooking like crazy onstage. But you go back in time and older instruments were sometimes designed for a simpler basket of techniques. So it’s interesting to sit there and struggle with something that was designed for a simpler playing style and see how it changes your perspective on your own approach to your own instrument.
Kind of like going into a different tuning.
SATRIANI I love that too. I do that all the time. None of it may ever work its way onto one of my records, but it’s just a new area for creativity. Create some inspiration. It feels like you’ve been somewhere else and you’ve collected some new information.
WYLDE Without a doubt, different tunings and different instruments can help. But inspiration is all around. You could be driving to the store and hear something like “Whole Lotta Love”—just how simple the structure is—and you think, It would be cool to do something with a simple riff like that. But then a creative guy like Joe will take that inspiration and he warps, twists, bends and changes it till it sounds nothing like “Whole Lotta Love.” So inspiration can come from that too—your favorite artists.
SATRIANI Speaking of “Whole Lotta Love,” I often think I have to find myself a [Vox] Super Beatle [amp], ’cause that’s what Jimmy Page used back then. I never would have guessed in a million years that the guy had a Super Beatle that he played on hundreds of other people’s songs as well as the first couple of Led Zeppelin records. A Super Beatle!
One of the English ones, though.
SATRIANI Yeah, I just think that’s so cool. That’s something I’d like to do sometime, plug a Les Paul into a Super Beatle and spend an afternoon making believe I’m Jimmy Page. Sitting there and being a wannabe for a few hours is kind of fun. Then you put it away, go back to your own rig, and you’ve gained a new perspective. You also acquire an amazing respect for, in this case, Jimmy Page and what he achieved with the gear that he had.
WYLDE It’s nice to have hundreds of crayons in the crayon box. But if you have just a few, you have to be creative. If you don’t have a pink crayon, then you have to take a red and a white, mix them together and you go, “Oh wow, red and white make pink!” Would Sgt. Pepper’s be as good if the Beatles had hundreds of tracks instead of just four? I don’t know.
How do the both of you relate to the current wave of extremely technical prog-metal guitar players-—the Tosin Abasi types?
SATRIANI Some of them are great. I flirted with seven-string. But basically I just don’t like the sound of it as an instrument as compared with a six-string. And then there’s guys playing eight-string. They really impress me—how they’ve built a world around this new instrument. It’s crazy. Charlie Hunter plays a 10-string, and that is the freakiest thing ever. He plays chords, bass lines and melody all at the same time.
WYLDE It’s crazy how Uli Jon Roth had a 35-fret guitar, the Sky Guitar. He was a big Strat guy, but he’s got this Sky Guitar now, and it’s just crazy. Even when he was playing a Strat it was out of control. You gotta remember, he was doing that wild stuff in 1974.
SATRIANI The Earthquake and Fire Wind records…amazing.
WYLDE He was killing it, even back then. The first explosion of guitars was Clapton, Hendrix and Page [in the mid Sixties]. But what people forget is that Allan Holdsworth was killing it in 1972. How he plays nowadays he was doing back in ’72.
SATRIANI A Small Stone phase shifter into a 100-watt Marshall.
WYLDE And you had John McLaughlin doing all that stuff back in 1970. It was just a massive explosion of insane guitar players that came out back then. And everyone’s technique was beyond insane.
So is it like that now with these new seven- and eight-string guys—a new plateau that’s going to change the rock guitar vocabulary? Or is it more just a small niche-market thing?
SATRIANI It’s hard to say. I think about a player like Don Felder; his playing is really amazing. The structure of his solos is mind blowing. So I don’t know if that’s going what’s going to happen, if we’re going to get another Don Felder out of the new generation—an accomplished player who also impacts the mainstream. Because what these young guys want to achieve with their music is different than what, let’s say, Felder was looking for with the Eagles.
And I like that fact. This new stuff doesn’t sound anything like what’s come before.
SATRIANI No, it’s brand new. And I never feel like it’s lacking anything when I put it on. If I listen to Animals As Leaders, I’m just taking it for what it is.
Well, I don’t find myself humming along.
SATRIANI Yeah, but there’s lots of music where you’re not supposed to be humming along.
WYLDE You don’t hear a lot of blues or vibrato in the younger players. They can play fast, but if you ask them to play “Red House,” the feel isn’t there. The licks aren’t there.
SATRIANI When I think about my early influences, like Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page, they just sound perfect to me. They had great phrasing. They never put technique in front of the music. I love that. And Don Felder is the same way. What he plays is pure music. There’s no extra stuff. So I’m looking over my own stuff a lot thinking, Make sure you clean out all that trendy shit. I think that’s what you want to do with your influences: you want to distill what is pure music. That way, you learn to admire the quality of those players and the foundations they built for you.
Once you get to where you’ve mastered reproducing the notes and the parts, you can get to another level with it and appreciate the pure musicality of it.
SATRIANI Exactly. And that’s what Zakk is talking about—beyond the finger movements. Way beyond that.
We have to constantly keep reminding the young beginners of that.
SATRIANI Yeah, but that kind of music—like that band Necrophagist—it’s just brutal-sounding music, but not in any way designed for blues expression. Which is fine. There are no rules. When I listen to stuff like that, the first thing I think is, Wow, that’s a crazy feeling this is giving me. But then the musician part of me kicks in and I think, I can’t play that! Maybe I’d work on it for an hour and give up. It’s just not me. But then I think, How are they remembering all that? It like listening to a good hip-hop artist and thinking, How is he remembering all those words? In an hour-and-a-half show, how many lyrics are they remembering?
WYLDE It’s like a phone book.
So, here in the digitized 21st century, does rock still matter?
SATRIANI Well, it does to me. And I guess whether the answer to your question is “yes” or “no,” does that change the way you feel about rock?
WYLDE When people say “Rock is dead,” I don’t think so. It just takes on a different form. It just keeps morphing—from Elvis Presley to the Beatles and Stones to Led Zeppelin. It’s the same thing with guitar solos. I remember talking to Dimebag, saying, “Guitar solos are dead?” That doesn’t change the way I feel when I hear Joe killing it on the guitar. That will never go out of style. Great is great. Whether it’s Joe, Al Di Meola or Dimebag, that will never go out of style. Like a great steak or Levis and a T-shirt, rock won’t go out of style.
Photo: Kevin Scanlon
Musicians can still be a little fuzzy when it comes to describing the sound of fuzz.
Some guitarists will tell you it sounds like a 2,000-pound bee trapped in a sturdy metal box — perhaps with a potentiometer installed somewhere behind the wings. And while many fuzz guitar tunes and tones did (and do) make the most of the original fuzz "buzz" sound, fuzz actually has many facets, many sides, many fuzz faces, if you will.
Here are 10 songs — compiled by several members of the Guitar World staff — that we feel represent a wide spectrum of fuzz sounds and cover a lot of stomping ground. These songs are presented in no particular order. I repeat: These songs are presented in no particular order!
If you want to track down any of these tracks, you'll find all 10 original album covers in the photo gallery below.
For more fuzz box info, check out Chris Gill's Guitar World feature on "How to Buy a Fuzz Box: A Guide for the First-Time Buyer." And if you've still got stompbox fever, check out our guide to "The Top 50 Stomp Boxes, Devices and Processors of All Time." Enjoy!
The Ventures, "The 2000 Pound Bee"
Let's start at the beginning, namely "The 2000 Pound Bee," a 1962 track by the Ventures, the best-selling instrumental band of all time. While no one (including us) wants to make the claim that this is the first song to feature intentional fuzz guitar (as in, fuzz as the result of an effect pedal, as opposed to a busted speaker cone), it is commonly accepted to be exactly that (Although we must mention that it's not necessarily true). The Ventures were always ahead of the curve when it came to weird effects, as best demonstrated by their very "out there" 1964 album, The Ventures In Space. That's Nokie Edwards playing the fun, fuzzy riff, by the way.
The Yardbirds, "Heart Full of Soul"
And to think these guys originally tried to play this classic guitar riff on a sitar! Seriously, why bother? Jeff Beck's tone on this mid-1965 hit single pretty much exemplifies the still-much-sought-after mid-'60s "fuzz" and/or "buzz" tone. Oddly enough, Beck used a fuzz box to recreate the tone of a sitar, the very instrument that didn't cut it in the first place. Beck is playing an MKI Tone Bender pedal on this track.
The Doors, "When the Music's Over"
Back to California we go, with the Doors' 11-minute-long "When the Music's Over," a standout track from 1967's Stange Days. "Fuzz distortion was all we had," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger has said in past interviews. "We didn't have overdrive on our amps." In a Guitar Player magazine interview, he added that the fuzz was created by recording direct and cranking the gain/overdriving tube input on the mixing board. Regardless of how he achieved the fuzz tone on this track, it is beautiful, bizarre and creepy all at once!
Iron Butterfly, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
Let's stay in the '60s a bit longer with an extended visit to the garden of life, aka "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" from Iron Butterfly's super-psycho 1968 album of the same bizarre name. Yes, that sentence was a mouthful — and this 17-minute-long track is an earful of pretty much every late-'60s psychedelic-rock cliche. You have the lengthy drum solo, the spooky church-organ-style keyboards, the arguably meaningless lyrics and, of course, the fuzz guitar. This time, the fuzz is courtesy of an original Mosrite Fuzzrite — and teenage guitarist Erik Braunn. For more about the Fuzzrite, check out this site.
The Guess Who, "American Woman"
Don't worry — we'll return to '60s (We have to; we haven't mentioned Jimi Hendrix and his Fuzz Face yet). However, let's take a brief detour to early 1970, and up north to lovely Canada, home of the Guess Who, a band that scored a major hit with this tune about women from "south of the border." The song is noteworthy for Randy Bachman's unique, creamy, sustaining, neck-pickup tone (or "cow tone," as Ozzy Osbourne might say). For more about Bachman's adjective-laden "American Woman" tone (and how it came to be that way), check out this website.
Jimi Hendrix, "Foxy Lady"
You knew this was coming! "Foxy Lady"— or pretty much any track from Jimi Hendrix's debut album, Are You Experienced?— is a prime example of Hendrix playing his Fender Strat through a germanium Fuzz Face pedal (a Fuzz Face using germanium transistors.) Most germanium pedals simply reflect the qualities of a vintage tube amp, but in super-cranked mode, providing a warm sound when the speaker breaks up. It's a "rounder" distortion, as heard on "Foxy Lady." It's not at all what you hear on the Yardbirds'"Heart Full of Soul" or "Over Under Sideways Down." These days, Jim Dunlop makes a faithful reproduction of a slightly-later Hendrix pedal — his 1969/'70 Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, which was built around a BC108 silicon transistor. For more about the new Hendrix Fuzz Face, head here.
Jeff Beck, "Beck's Bolero"
Yes, it's Jeff Beck again, this time as a solo act, still fuzzing away. "Beck's Bolero"— released in March 1967 — was the B-side of Beck's first single, "Hi Ho Silver Lining" (which features the mop-topped guitarist on vocals — a true rarity). The brief but powerful instrumental features Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar (Beck on lead, of course), John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Keith Moon on drums. It was recorded in mid-1966, before there was a Led Zeppelin — and before Beck had even left the Yardbirds. Although we'll try to verify this the next time we speak to Beck, it is widely believed he used a Mk.II/Supa Fuzz pedal on this song.
Smashing Pumpkins, "Cherub Rock"
We haven't mentioned the Big Muff yet! Enter "Cherub Rock" by Smashing Pumpkins, a killer song in general and a perfect example of the sound of an early Big Muff. The rest of the Billy Corgan's recording chain is most likely a Strat and a Marshall amp; but the Big Muff is doing the talking here.
Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"
Here's a curve ball for you, direct from New York City! It's "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys, which makes this list on the merits of its fuzz bass sound, which is absolutely killer — and nearly as cool as the song's mustache-heavy music video. As heard in other fuzz-bass-centric tunes, including the Beatles'"Think for Yourself," the bottom end gets a bit lost, but the gains (no pun intended) are many. The bass was played through a Black Cat Superfuzz unit, which was based (again, no pun ...) on a 1970s Univox Superfuzz. Like its inspiration, the Black Cat truly pounces and shrieks! Insert your own cat-related puns here.
The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
We'll wrap things up with a classic from 1965: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. The famous fuzz riff with the almost-trombone-like tone is played by the maestro, Keith Richards, who happens to be playing through a Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1, a pedal made by Gibson/Norlin. The Maestro, which had a tone and fuzz potentiometer, plus a push on/off footswitch, was probably the best-known early commercial distortion circuit. The massive success of "Satisfaction" led to increased interest in fuzz pedals and sound research — not to mention stories like the one you're just finishing reading now.
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. Here he is playing a Tele through a Tone Bender clone on the Blue Meanies' version of "Heart Full of Soul."
Below, guitarist Billy Duffy of The Cult answers a series of questions from Guitar World readers.
As the only constant members of the Cult, you and [singer] Ian [Astbury] are the heart and soul of the band. What is that partnership like? How does Ian complement your creativity? — Kelly Youngblood
We’re both the same birth sign, and there are a lot of similarities between us. We provide each other with the creative tension we need to create better art than if we were working independently. We have a special creative nature that was revealed when we first got together in a small apartment in Brixton, London, in 1983.
One example of how our relationship works is illustrated in how the song “The Wolf” came together. It was a particularly difficult song to bring together. I had the main riff even before the last Cult album, but Ian didn’t want to work on it; he wouldn’t even touch it, so I let it lie. But I brought it back, because I knew it was good.
This time out, Ian and the rest of the guys were really patient with my obsession to work it out, and we were able to. I’m very happy with the results, possibly because of its difficult upbringing.
I heard the single “Lucifer” from Choice of Weapon, and I love it! Judging from the album name and cover art, it seems like you’re exploring some dark subject matter. What can you tell us about the album’s themes? — Francis Soyer
“Lucifer” is certainly about hedonism, but that song isn’t indicative of the whole album. It’s more of a teaser track than a single. But most of our records are kind of dark, and that’s Ian’s deal. If I could sum up Choice of Weapon, I’d say it’s about urban shamanism. The album was written in New York and Los Angeles but also in the California desert. It’s trying to connect the dichotomy of living in urban areas but realizing that outside of those areas is where our food and water comes from.
You can have all the technology you want, but if you don’t have clean air to breathe, it’s game over. That said, I’m a guitar player and not the lyricist, so I’m just talking about what I’m observing coming from the singer of our band. But those have always been reoccurring themes for the Cult: love and appreciation of nature but also appreciation of an urban society’s vibe, violence and sexuality.
I love the Gretsch White Falcon. Are you using it or the Les Paul on the new record? And I’m also wondering what’s your trick to prevent the Gretsch from feeding back in live situations? — Dave Belknap
I’ve always used the Les Paul and Gretsch White Falcon, and they’re both heavily featured on the new album. Regarding the second part, that’s a very pragmatic question. One thing I’ve done with the White Falcon is put things in the body — little bits of T-shirts or whatever — to help stop some of the feedback.
But don’t overfill it or the guitar will sound dead. You also have to be conscious of where you’re playing onstage. We spend a lot of time soundchecking at every Cult gig, trying to remove the frequencies that create that real deep, low-mid feedback. And finally, I’ve always put high-output, hot pickups in my Gretsches. My original pickups in the Seventies were so puny that you’d have to run the amp really loud, and it would create horrible feedback problems. I’ve used Seymour Duncan and TV Jones pickups, and they work really well. They keep the Gretsch tone and chime but prevent feedback from the amp.
The transitions in your songs from chorus to verse are so seamless. Do you have to really focus and work these out, or do you simply write in a linear way? — Arnon Wiggond
It used to be very linear, out of necessity. Then Pro Tools came along, and it’s changed how people construct songs. When Bob Rock came in to finish the production on the new album, he helped us with the arrangements. We laid everything down organically, and then changed and moved sections around with Pro Tools. So it can be a really useful tool, if you make sure to keep an organic feel to it.
Reality TV shows like Gene Simmons Family Jewels and The Osbournes have been a way for rockers to show another side of themselves. In retrospect, do you think your participation in Married to Rock was a positive thing, or do you wish you had taken a pass? — Jessie Chadwick
I’m happy that I participated in that show. I think I was comfortable with the legitimacy of the other band guys involved: Duff [McKagan] with Guns N’ Roses, Perry [Farrell] with Jane’s Addiction and Steve Stevens with Billy Idol. I didn’t hear the sound of a barrel being scraped, if you know what I mean.
The show was about the women, and some of the guys were in it more than others. For me, it was kind of interesting. I never want to be the kind of person that says no to everything. I wanted to participate in a contemporary experience like reality TV and see how it impacted me. It was also good because it got the Cult out there to an audience of millions during a time when the band didn’t have an album out.
In interviews over the years, you’ve mentioned you witnessed a lot of special gigs as a teenager in Manchester. Was there one that topped the list for you and made you say, “I wanna do this for a living”? — Steve Wood
Yeah, there were two gigs: one that made me think, Yes, I wanna do this for a living, and another that made me realize, Yes, it’s possible for me to do this for a living. The former was Queen. They were touring the Sheer Heart Attack album, and I was blown away. I will take to my grave the image of Queen opening before a 2,000-seat hall with “Now I’m Here.”
It was a black stage, the guitar was chugging a D chord, which I’ve ripped off a million times, and Freddie Mercury appeared in some window with just his face visible. Then, when the song kicked in, every light on the stage lit up. The entire band was dressed in white, and Brian May had a cape.
That experience, which is utterly indelibly printed in my mind, made me realize I wanted to do that for a living. The gig that made me realize it was possible was the Sex Pistols. I saw their second show in Manchester in June 1976. There were, like, 300 people there. It was heavy, violent, and there was a fight, and a lot of people left. It was also the Buzzcocks’ debut show. That show blew my mind. At that point, the idea of playing music for a living changed from being a fantasy to a reality.
Which of your songs ranks as your defining “guitar” moment? — Filipe Dias
“She Sells Sanctuary.” There’s a guitar sound on that record [Love] that I’ve heard no one create before or since. It’s a combination of feel and the music itself, which keeps it fresh even to this day. It was just in the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial with the Flo Rida mash-up, and it sounded great. The guitars still jump out of the speakers.
I saw a YouTube clip of Matthew McConaughey playing bongos with the Cult during your recent South by Southwest performance. What’s the story behind his guest appearance? — Russ Ziskey
Matthew is a longtime Cult fan. You’re more likely to find him in the pit banging it out with the fans than find him backstage. So we were going to South by Southwest to promote the new record, and Matthew wanted to come to one of the gigs. My manager actually pointed out that Matthew really likes to participate and had the idea of asking him to play congas on a couple songs, including the new one, “Lucifer,” and an old one, “Spiritwalker.”
Matthew was into it, so he came out to the big gig and played with us in front of 25,000 people. It was a lot of fun, but it was also about raising awareness for the new record in this media-saturated world. So with Matthew McConaughey and the Cult, it was like “two plus two equals seven.”
Photo: Travis Shinn