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    I’ve noticed something about my soloing in the last couple of weeks.

    First, I’m not what you would consider a “lead guitarist.” I can hang, sure. But it’s not my area and I’ve never really been comfortable playing at higher speeds.

    That’s OK, because I make my musical living on the rhythm and layering side of the business. But I also noticed I had some consistent problem areas as I moved across the fretboard. I was messing up in the same spots over and over again.

    What are “problem areas?”

    For me, these were spots where I'd consistently fail to mute other strings, incur excess buzzing or make other noisy mistakes that took away the integrity of my solos. I could tell because I would hear a note that wasn’t supposed to be played or I would play a note that didn’t ring out like it should.

    Take this simple, three-note run.

    Tab_1.png

    I noticed that frequently, the last note in this sequence (highlighted in red) would ring out only partially when I played this run quickly — although it only happened when the run occurred on the third and fourth strings. I would pull off the fifth fret, ring out the note at the third fret and then hammer the fifth fret (G) on the fourth string. That last G just wasn’t ringing, for some reason. With this happening over and over again, a “problem area” I needed to work on was made evident.

    How I Fixed the Problem Areas

    I needed to target the specific movement on those strings and simply practice different ways of playing it, being careful to do the following three things:

    01. Make sure every note rang out like it should.

    I found this was usually a matter of playing too fast. If the goal is to get every note to come out clean, slowing down until that’s happening is a necessary first step before you start the next two.

    02. Use different picking and playing tactics to play through the sequence.

    As I've already mentioned, my approach was to use a pull-off and hammer-on. I continued to practice that, but I also practiced alternate picking every note, picking the first and last note and sliding through the sequence. I found that playing the run with pull-offs and hammer-ons wasn’t always the most optimal approach.

    03. Come up with exercises to promote the movement.

    For a pattern so simple, anything that involved moving a whole step between the third and fourth string could be considered an exercise. You can always come up with your own, but a good standard is to be sure that whatever you’re playing as an “exercise” is more difficult than playing the riff itself.

    Tab_2.png

    The exercises don’t have to be complex or vastly different from the movement itself. The point is to come up with a way to practice whatever you’re having trouble with and up the difficulty so that the original tab gets easier to handle.

    If you isolate the problem down to just a few notes, the exercises get pretty basic.

    Let’s try another example.

    Another transition that gave me trouble was getting to and from the four-note interval on the second string, to the three-note interval (major second) on the third string.

    Tab_3.png

    I approached the problem similarly by slowing down, picking each note and experimenting with a few different ways of playing the pattern.

    Once I got a little more comfortable with it, I ran through a few exercises to help strengthen the movement.

    Tab_4.png

    Once again, the solution and exercises are painfully simple, but the real key is being able to identify where you’re making the most mistakes and improving those areas.

    Recycling the Method

    Perhaps you’ve got other areas that you want to work on that the examples don’t address. The process is the same, no matter what part of the fretboard or what kind of movement you’re trying to improve.

    Here’s how to practically approach the method:

    01. Practice soloing for a while and pay attention to where you’re making mistakes.
    02. Jot down the tabs of those areas, isolating the problem to five or so notes.
    03. Practice that movement using different techniques and picking styles.
    04. Come up with exercises that allow you to intentionally strengthen that movement.

    If you give practice time to even just a few different spots where your solos are falling short, you should notice significant improvement in your lead playing after a week or two. It’s no different than the way an athlete works on different aspects and parts of his or her game.

    Be willing to critique yourself and to put in the boring practice time fixing the areas where you’re falling short. Getting good at the guitar (particularly soloing) means spending time working on mundane movement. There’s just no way around it.

    Agree, disagree? Think you have a better way to target problem areas in solos? Let me know in the comments below.

    Robert Kittleberger is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.


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    Jonathan and Susan Lipp, owners of Full Compass Systems, recently attended the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In in Washington, D.C.

    Here they joined celebrity musicians, researchers, congressional leaders and other NAMM members to press Congress on the importance of providing music education to all children.

    This year’s fly-in was the largest ever, with NAMM members and artists attending more than 100 meetings with Congress to urge the re-authorization and full funding of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to continue the designation of music as a core academic subject.

    “We want to make sure that kids have access to music in schools. That’s why I’ve been coming to Washington for nine years begging Congress to make music part of every child’s education,” Susan said. “I feel like what I’m doing here has meaning. It’s empowering. It makes you feel that what you say and do can make a difference in this country, which is a beautiful thing.”

    The Lipps are passionately committed to finding ways to facilitate funding for school music programs and to make high-quality music education accessible to students across the nation. They have also established scholarships at UW-Madison for theater and music majors and host several annual fundraisers and performance events to promote music education.

    Donations support local youth arts organizations and students in Madison, Wisconsin, where Full Compass Systems is headquartered.

    NAMM is a not-for-profit organization acting on behalf of the music products industry to ensure people of all ages have opportunities to experience the pleasures and benefits of making music. NAMM is also an invaluable resource for information about new, innovative technologies related to music performance and production. The organization was established in 1901 and is supported by more than 9,000 members from more than 100 countries.

    For more information, visit fullcompass.com and namm.org.


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    Prog-rock legends Yes have announced they'll be releasing a new studio album, Heaven & Earth, July 22 through Frontiers Records.

    For Heaven & Earth, Yes teamed up with Grammy winner Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars, Guns N’ Roses, Foreigner, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice Cooper, etc.), who handled the production, and Billy Sherwood (Toto, Paul Rodgers, Air Supply, etc.), who mixed the album. Also on board is Roger Dean, who again brings his masterful artistic creativity to the album’s cover art and packaging.

    Tracklisting for Heaven & Earth:

    01. Believe Again
    02. The Game
    03. Step Beyond
    04. To Ascend
    05. In A World Of Our Own
    06. Light Of The Ages
    07. It Was All We Knew
    08. Subway Walls

    To coincide with the release the new album, Yes — Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes and new singer Jon Davison — announced they’ll launch a 35-date summer tour. As the tour's highlight, they'll perform their 1971 album, Fragile, for the first-time ever, followed by 1972's Close to the Edge and other hits.

    Yes on Tour 2014:

    Tue 7/8 Boston, MA Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
    Wed 7/9 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
    Fri 7/11 Wallingford, CT Toyota Oakdale Theatre
    Sat 7/12 Westbury, NY NYCB Theatre at Westbury
    Sun 7/13 Newport, RI Newport Yachting Center
    Tue 7/15 Washington, DC Warner Theatre
    Wed 7/16 Hampton, NH Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
    Fri 7/18 Salamanca, NY Seneca Allegany Casino
    Sat 7/19 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater
    Sun 7/20 Munhall, PA Carnegie Music Hall
    Tue 7/22 Rochester Hills, MI Meadow Brook
    Wed 7/23 Northfield, OH Hard Rock Live Northfield Park
    Fri 7/25 Madison, WI Overture Hall
    Sat 7/26 Chicago, IL Copernicus Center
    Mon 7/28 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
    Tue 7/29 Louisville, KY Louisville Palace
    Wed 7/30 Atlanta, GA Symphony Hall
    Fri 8/1 Hollywood, FL Seminole Hard Rock Live
    Sat 8/2 St. Petersburg, FL Mahaffey Theater
    Sun 8/3 Orlando, FL Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre
    Tue 8/5 Houston, TX Bayou Music Center
    Wed 8/6 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
    Thu 8/7 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland
    Sat 8/9 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
    Mon 8/11 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
    Tue 8/12 Mesa, AZ Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center
    Wed 8/13 Albuquerque, NM Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino
    Fri 8/15 Las Vegas, NV The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
    Sat 8/16 Anaheim, CA City National Grove of Anaheim
    Mon 8/18 San Diego, CA Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay
    Tue 8/19 San Jose, CA City National Civic
    Thu 8/21 Tulalip, WA Tulalip Amphitheatre
    Fri 8/22 Grand Ronde, OR Spirit Mountain Casino
    Sat 8/23 Lincoln, CA Thunder Valley Casino Resort
    Sun 8/24 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre

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    Today we’re happy to present the premiere of Kelley Mickwee’s “Take Me Home,” a track from her upcoming full length, You Used to Live Here.

    With a laid-back rhythm section and soaring pedal steel playing, the track highlights Mickwee’s pure, affecting vocal performance.

    She shares, "This song came out of a phone call I made to my husband from Nashville on a writing trip. I was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed and he told me simply, 'take those feelings and write a song about them!'"

    "I had an appointment later that afternoon with Phoebe Hunt. Turns out she was feeling some of the same things, so we wrote this one pretty quick. And just like that, my song was the medicine I needed."

    Take a listen to “Take Me Home” below, where Mickwee is playing George Reiff's 1979 sunburst Gibson J-45.

    Slated for release July 22, It’s easy to hear You Used to Live Here as the kind of record Kelley Mickwee was born to make.

    After more than a decade of fine-tuning her performance chops, first as half of the Tennessee-based folk duo Jed and Kelley and later as part of the all-girl Texas group the Trishas, Mickwee is releasing an official solo debut that plays like an all-pieces-falling-into-place mission statement of a seasoned artist who’s finally come into her own.

    But asked about the impetus for the album, she’ll straight-up tell you that it wasn’t so much carpe-diem moxie as it was, well, a kind of panic. “It’s scary, starting from what’s basically a blank slate, but it was totally out of necessity,” says the singer-songwriter, who in late 2013 found herself facing the question of “what next” when the Trishas decided to take an open-ended break after a five-year run as one of the most promising up-and-coming acts on the Americana music scene.

    For Mickwee, the prospect of “starting from scratch” as a solo act was initially more terrifying than thrilling. “But I realized I was basically going to be out of a job, so I needed to start getting self sufficient!”

    The truth is, Mickwee’s always been more than capable of looking out for herself — and others; they didn’t call her “Finance Trish” in her last band for nothing. Her DIY work ethic (not to mention her marketing degree from the University of Memphis) came in handy throughout her Trishas tenure as well as during the seven years she spent touring and recording as Jed and Kelley.

    And of course she’s long since proven that she can sing, having taken formal voice lessons since she was 7 years old (after her piano teacher told her mother that, as a piano student, Kelley made a great singer.) After Jed and Kelley broke up and Mickwee moved to Texas, she continued singing onstage with famed songwriter Kevin Welch for a spell, and her sultry Southern drawl seasoned the Trishas’ trademark heavenly harmonies with smoke and earthy grit. She also played guitar and mandolin with the band and found her voice as a songwriter, co-writing seven songs on the Trishas’ 2012 album High, Wide and Handsome.

    Given that the Trishas initially came together to play what was supposed to be a one-off gig at a Welch tribute concert, it’s fitting that a song Mickwee later co-wrote with Welch — the gospel/soul infused “River Girl” — would play a key role in shaping her debut solo album. “I was watching that documentary about all of the music that came out of Muscle Shoals, and they kept using this term ‘river people,’ like people who grew up next to a big river,” says Mickwee, who, being a native of Memphis, naturally took the term to heart. “That gave me the idea to write something that was as close as I could get to Aretha. Of course I’ll never be anywhere near as cool she was, but I started writing it and then finished it with Kevin, because I knew he was the perfect guy to help me write a song like that.”

    Mickwee’s desire to get as close to Aretha and the spirit of the song as possible was a big part of what led her back home to Memphis to record the album. Because as much as she’s grown to love her adopted Austin and its own deep pool of musical talent over the last eight years, she knew the sounds she heard in her head could only be brought to life by the Memphis cats she grooved to all through high school and college.

    “There’s just something about the way those guys play, and it’s a sound that nobody [in Austin] really sounds like, you know?” she says. “It’s a totally different element, and I don’t know what it is, but it’s just like all these guys grew up playing in countless different bands together, and those Memphis boys just keep it loose! And I wanted it to sound like that. The engineer, Kevin Cubbins — he’s one of the best in Memphis, and he was in a few bands back in the day that I used to go see play all the time. All these guys are people that I’ve known since I sang my first note in public, so I knew I’d be really comfortable around them.”

    Mickwee (acoustic guitar and mandolin) and her dream band of mostly Memphis musicians — including her husband, organ and guitar player Tim Regan; pedal steel player Eric Lewis; drummer Paul Taylor; and bassist Mark Edgar Stuart — recorded the album’s seven tracks, all live, over a day and a half in a home studio set up in the living room of a mansion formerly owned by the late Civil War historian Shelby Foote, the author of Shiloh. “The house is old and weird and funky, sort of run down and full of holes, but the studio has all this vintage, antique gear in it,” says Mickwee. “And I mean, it was trippy! The whole experience was really cool."

    Find out more about Kelley Mickwee here.


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    Eric Clapton has released the animated lyric video for his new single, "Call Me the Breeze," and you can check it out below.

    The track is from The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, a new album attributed to Eric Clapton & Friends. It will be released July 29.

    In terms of friends, "Call Me the Breeze" features guitarist Albert Lee, who also famously joined Clapton on the popular live version of "Cocaine" from 1980's Just One Night album. That song was, of course, also written by Cale.

    Of course, more friends came along for the ride. The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale features 16 of Cale’s songs performed by Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Derek Trucks and Don White.

    Clapton has often called Cale one of the most important figures in rock history. He was a massive influence on Clapton, who covered several of Cale’s songs, including “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.”

    “I would like people to tap into what JJ Cale did,” Clapton says. “That’s the point. I’m just the messenger; I’ve always felt that that’s my job. I try to interpret things so that the public at large, or at least the people who listen to what I do, will become intrigued about where I got it from.”

    Cale died July 26, 2013, leaving behind a rich legacy of music and work. A singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right, he was an originator of the Tulsa Sound, a mix of blues, country, rockabilly and jazz stylings.

    He was unknown and nearly finished with the music business when Clapton cut “After Midnight” in 1970, helping to bring Cale to prominence. Over the following years, his songs were covered by everyone from Waylon Jennings and Bobby Bare to Kansas and Lynyrd Skynyrd, who had a hit with “Call Me the Breeze.”

    Look for our interview with Clapton in the upcoming September 2014 issue of Guitar World. For more about Albert Lee, check out the current July 2014 issue of Guitar World, which features a "Dear Guitar Hero" interview with the guitarist.

    Additional Content

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    Gibson has introduced its new ES-Les Paul guitar.

    From the company:

    The solidbody Les Paul Standard and semi-acoustic ES-335 are the two most influential electric guitars ever to hit their respective genres.

    Now Gibson brings them together in the ES-Les Paul, a stunning "meeting of minds" that blends the most important aspects of form and function from two immensely popular designs. Far more than merely a “chambered Les Paul” or an ES-335 "shaped like a single-cut", this entirely new guitar is the result of painstaking assessment of what makes each of these legendary models great, and a careful marriage of features by the skilled luthiers at Gibson Memphis.

    With its laminated maple top, back and sides in the semi-acoustic construction of the ES-335, and a solid mahogany center block for enhanced sustain and feedback reduction, the ES-Les Paul elegantly marries the major characteristics of these two great Gibson guitars.

    Take away the telltale f-holes and the look is pure Les Paul, as is the glued-in mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard and classic trapezoid inlays and LP-style headstock. Common to both—and carried through on the ES-Les Paul—are the traditional control section, toneful hardware, and dual humbucking pickups, a pair of MHS (Memphis Historic Spec) Humbuckers wound to accurately replicate the sonic glories of vintage PAFs.

    Get it in a your choice of Black top w/ historic walnut stained back and sides finish, or Light Burst finish with figured maple top and historic walnut stained Back and sides.

    Check out the photos below. For more information, visit the guitar's page on Gibson.com.


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    Joe Satriani: Guitar Secrets is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Learn guitar tips, tricks and secrets with this collection of 41 private lessons from Satriani's famous columns from Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine.

    Host Dave Celentano covers: chords, scales and modes, tunings, theory, technique, harmonics, soloing and much more!

    Check it out now at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Additional Content

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    This is an excerpt from the July 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Ace Frehley, Albert Lee, "The Album that Changed My Life," the history of Taylor Guitars, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from Fender, ESP/LTD, Vox, Boss, Sterling by Music Man and more, check out the June 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

    GUITAR WORLD: The first three albums fuse elements of blues, progressive acoustic folk, hard rock and world music. What was the end game?

    You have all these colors on your pallet and now you can blend them to introduce new colors and textures people have not heard before. For example, playing something like “Black Mountain Side” with a tabla drummer had never been done. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” from the first album is another example. I had heard Joan Baez’s version, but if you compare ours to hers, most people would say, “How the hell did you come up with that?” They don’t really sound anything alike. The reason they are different is because we were able to fuse her acoustic approach with heavy guitars, which was something that hadn’t been done. Additionally, I was able to incorporate a flamenco-style guitar solo, as well.

    On the photo shoot for this issue, you specifically brought two acoustic guitars with you. Could you explain the significance of each?

    The Harmony guitar is quite special to me. It is what I used to write all the acoustic songs and many of the electric songs on the first three albums. I also used it to record all the acoustic tracks on the third album, and it’s the guitar I played on “Stairway to Heaven.” I pretty much used it until I started playing a Martin on Houses of the Holy.

    The second guitar is a mid-Sixties Gibson J-200, similar to the one I used to record all the acoustic parts on the first album. The J-200 used on Led Zeppelin I belonged to Mickey Most, the producer of the Yardbirds, and it was an amazing-sounding instrument. He graciously let me use it for the first album but didn’t let me use it for the second album, because, I think, by then he knew he wasn’t going to be the producer. [laughs]

    Mickey owned the acoustic and a great Fifties Strat with a maple neck, and he kept them in his studio. Unfortunately, many years later, someone stole them—they just took a walk. He told me, and I said, “Mickey, I’m so desperately sorry to hear that.” They were his instruments, man! That’s terrible.

    So, anyway, I thought it was fair to bring the Harmony and a J-200 to the shoot. The Gibson is, of course, not the original—I wasn’t the one who stole it! But I was talking with guitar collector Perry Margouleff about Mickey’s guitar and we were able to determine the model, because the one I played had a Tune-o-matic bridge, and there weren’t many of those made. Now that I’ve said that, they’ll probably triple in price! Perry recently found one and gave it to me for my 70th birthday, and I really thank him for that.

    The Harmony is a rather ordinary guitar. What did you like about it?

    What did I like about it? It helped me come up with all these amazing songs! [laughs] It encouraged me. It didn’t fight back, and it didn’t go out of tune. It would say to me, “Go on, man, give me more! C’mon!”

    The Paris show has some of the flashiest and fastest playing of your entire recorded career. But as your career went on, it seemed you became more concerned with note choice than raw speed. Was that conscious?

    I think I just got better. My playing and writing grew in leaps and bounds around that period. If you compare the initial attempt at the solo in “Heartbreaker” on the companion disc to how I’m playing it on the live Paris show, you’ll see why I had to go back and re-record it.

    I thought the bow solo on the live version of “Dazed” was beautiful—really quite different than the studio version.

    I was all right. Every night, I was trying to seek out something I never did before. I’d find new things and discard others until I arrived at something like the bow solo you hear on the live version on Song Remains the Same, which really holds up.

    Photo: Ross Halfin

    This is an excerpt from the July 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Ace Frehley, Albert Lee, "The Album that Changed My Life," the history of Taylor Guitars, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from Fender, ESP/LTD, Vox, Boss, Sterling by Music Man and more, check out the June 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Additional Content

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    Harman's DigiTech has announced the introduction of its Envelope Filter 440, the classic “auto-wah” effect that makes your guitar “speak” with vowel-like sounds.

    The new Envelope Filter retains the unmistakable voice and touch sensitivity of the sought-after original while adding improvements like true bypass, a 9-volt power adapter jack and a choice of Up or Down effect settings.

    “An envelope filter is one of the funkiest and most expressive sounds ever created for guitar, bass or even keyboards and our Envelope Filter 440 delivers all the ‘quack’ and swept filter tones of the original and then some. There’s really nothing else like it and once you’ve tried one, it’s hard not to resist the way it makes solos and rhythm guitar parts stand out and groove,” said Tom Cram, marketing coordinator, DigiTech.

    The DOD Envelope Filter 440’s Up setting delivers that classic quacking envelope filter “wah” effect, while the new Down setting emphasizes the lower frequency range — great for bassists who want to rock a room with huge, thundering dub bass. The Level knob adjusts the sensitivity of the envelope to tailor the response of the pedal based on pick or finger attack. With a higher sensitivity, a player won’t have to hit the strings as hard to trigger the effect and vice versa.

    The Range knob controls the frequency range of the envelope’s sweep — turning it counter-clockwise sweeps more low frequencies and turning the knob clockwise sweeps more of the high frequencies. The Voice switch toggles between the Up and Down settings to choose which part of the frequency spectrum the player wants to emphasize.

    The new Envelope Filter 440 features true bypass operation, which keeps the tone of the instrument pristine when the effect is not in use — unlike the original, which would color the tone even with the effect switched off. The 9-volt DC power supply input makes the Envelope Filter 440 far more pedalboard-friendly and its bright blue LED indicator is easy to see even on outdoor stages in bright sunlight. And along with its singular sound, there’s no mistaking the pedal’s retro-cool graphics and bright green paint job.

    The DOD Envelope Filter will be available in June at a suggested retail price of $149.95.

    For more information, visit digitech.com and harman.com.


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    Mastodon have premiered the music video for their new single, “High Road.” Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.

    The track is from Once More 'Round the Sun, the band's sixth studio album, which will be released June 24 via Reprise.

    “I wrote ['High Road'] on a day off while we were on tour in Luxembourg,” guitarist Bill Kelliher said. “I was sitting in this rainy city on a Sunday, and nothing was open. I felt like I needed to write something to reflect how I was feeling. I started banging on a guitar. I was thinking Neurosis and the Melvins, low-tuned with a little more pop sensibility for the chorus.”

    “You can head-bang to that one for days,” drummer Brann Dailor added. “I love the simplicity of it."

    Additional Content

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    Me to Jimmie Vaughan:

    “I’ve been stealing one of your solos for years; it’s your solo on 'The Crawl' from [the Fabulous Thunderbirds' 1980 album] What’s The Word? I steal that from you about once a week.

    Jimmie to me:

    “Well, good. I can’t remember, but I think I stole that from Guitar Junior. So don’t feel bad!”

    Below, check out a — let's face it — pro-shot yet crappy-quality video of the Fabulous Thunderbirds performing "The Crawl" in what I call the good ol' days of Texas rock and blues (1984), with Jimmie's little brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, sitting in.

    What's particularly cool is that SRV is playing a Fender Telecaster in this clip — something I don't think I've ever seen before. Be sure to stick around for the extended solo at the end of the video!

    In case it isn't clear, that's Jimmie on the white Strat and Stevie Ray on the Tele. Kim Wilson sings. Note that both Jimmie and Stevie Ray play the guitar behind their head at various points. Ah, the good ol' days! Enjoy!

    Additional Content

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    Today, Harman’s DigiTech announced the introduction of Drop, a dedicated polyphonic drop-tune pedal that lets guitar and bass players instantly lower their tuning from one semitone all the way down to a full octave.

    From the company:

    With the Drop, guitarists can get down-tuned chunk without having to change guitars or re-tune between songs and bassists can delve into deep bass depths even lower than a five-string low B. Featuring polyphonic drop tune algorithms drawn directly from the legendary Whammy DT pedal, the Drop makes it easier than ever to get down.

    “Our new Drop pedal makes down-tuning and changing keys literally as easy as stepping on a switch,” said Tom Cram, marketing coordinator, DigiTech. “But the Drop also has cool dynamic performance capabilities by using the switch in momentary mode to add accents or trills with your feet.”

    One look at its bold red, black and white graphics and its clear the DigiTech Drop shares its DNA with the iconic Whammy DT. The Drop offers a choice of eight drop tune and pitch-shifting intervals from one semitone (half-step) to a full octave down, plus an Octave + Dry mode that blends the original signal with another note an octave down. The Drop incorporates the same polyphonic pitch-shifting algorithms as the Whammy DT, to perfectly track notes and chords for precise drop-tuning performance with no glitching or lag.

    The Drop features a Momentary/Latching switch to create dazzling hammer-on and pull-off type effects. Players can instantly get a drop in pitch of the notes they’re playing by stepping on and holding the footswitch — then releasing it to instantly go back up to pitch to add dramatic musical impact.

    The Drop features true bypass operation, which keeps the pure tone of the instrument intact when the effect is not engaged. Its metal chassis is built to withstand night after night of constant gigging and its red LED is easy to see. The compact Drop is operated via its 9-volt input and included power supply.

    The DigiTech Drop will be available in July at a suggested retail price of $249.95.

    For more info, check out digitech.com.

    DigiTech-Drop.jpg


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    Summer is finally here! And with that, the schedule of album releases slows a bit, letting everyone digest the musical offerings of spring.

    Although the year is still somewhat young, there have been some incredible releases already.

    Acoustically speaking, it has already been a year rife with innovation.

    This is a list of the six best acoustic tracks of 2014 so far, in my humble opinion. They’re a scattered group, a group of songs made by artists from different genres, generations and attitudes.

    Together, they show the incredible (and increasing) diversity in the world of acoustic music.

    6. Neil Young- “Girl From The North Country”

    What an anachronism, and what a treat, Neil Young’s cover album A Letter Home is.

    For all of its faults, it has some truly remarkable performances. None are greater than hearing Young, one of rock’s most unforgettable and familiar voices, tackle a classic from another one of rock’s most unforgettable and familiar voices.

    Recorded with 75-year-old technology, Young’s solo, acoustic cover sounds distant, like if you reach out to it, it’ll disappear from view.

    And in that, Young flawlessly captures the loneliness and melancholy of the original tune, while simultaneously making it, a song that was an early key in establishing the myth and legend of Dylan, his own.


    5. Fanfarlo-“Myth Of Myself (A Ruse To Exploit Our Weaknesses)”

    Aside from its slightly over-the-top title, this acoustic-driven thriller from this London-based band’s third record is gorgeous.

    Fluttering acoustic riffs open the song, giving it an air of importance, but not of pompousness.

    The acoustics soon give way to equally impressive horns and strings, but it’s the song’s opening riff that’s the tone-setter, one that allows the rest of the song to take off as well as it does.


    4. Beck- “Heart Is A Drum”

    Beck’s Morning Phase may not have been the perfect comeback album, but it showed an artist who still doesn’t have to try very hard to sound impressive.

    A sonic follow-up to 2002’s acoustic masterwork Sea Change, Morning Phase has within it some fantastic acoustic moments.

    “Heart Is A Drum”’s main riff sounds as if it is descending from the heavens, working its way beautifully around Beck’s angelic vocals.

    Beck has always been a great acoustic player, Sea Change to the bizarro, out of tune folk of his early career, and on “Heart Is A Drum,” he shows that his chops are definitely still intact.


    3. Damon Albarn- “Hostiles”

    Damon Albarn’s solo debut was a long-awaited, more personal look into the creative mind of one of rock’s most fascinating and enigmatic talents.

    Although Everyday Robots may have been slightly underwhelming at times, it sure had its moments of greatness.

    Sleepy but beautiful, and led by a perfectly simple acoustic riff, “Hostiles” is one of the album’s early highlights.

    Albarn perfectly evokes the grey, rainy locales of his childhood in this track, giving us an unprecedented glimpse into where he comes from.


    2. Marissa Nadler- “Dead City Emily”

    I listened to this song almost daily while immersing myself in the various novels I read for my dystopian literature class.

    That sort of reading material, coupled with the chilling New England winter, went hand in hand with “Dead City Emily.”

    This song’s central riff manages to be gorgeous, unsettling and richly technical all at once.

    The track sounds like it should be in the “Game Of Thrones” soundtrack, or scoring some other tragic, medieval tale filled with death and despair.

    It may not exactly be something you want to put on the stereo during your summer barbecue, but as a deeply personal, vibrant, acoustic examination of a darker character, its absolutely beautiful.


    1. Sun Kil Moon- “I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same”

    Everything else on this list is certainly worthy of praise, but this song’s hold at the top was never really much of a question.

    Singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek’s sixth album as Sun Kil Moon, Benji, is simply without parallel.

    “I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same” remains an absolutely staggering centerpiece to the album, and not only 2014’s best acoustic song, but its best song period.

    For nearly 11 minutes, over perfectly measured but rock-solid finger-picking, Kozelek paints a conflicted, elaborate picture of himself and his identity.

    He is blunt about his past actions, how they have affected him and how they’ll affect him in the future. Through the interweaving set of vignettes Kozelek lays out, he addresses death, aging, grief and friendship.

    Devastatingly intimate, it is simply a peerless example of acoustic songwriting.

    Jackson Maxwell is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is double majoring in history and journalism. He is an editorial assistant at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and has his own music blog entitled "Broken Drums." You can follow him here at http://broken--drums.tumblr.com/ or themotorcade.tumblr.com.


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    Steve Stine, highly sought-after guitar educator, teaches live online group and private classes at Lessonface.com. His live online advanced guitar course, "Soloing Mastery," starts Saturday, June 21. It's a great Father’s Day gift! For more info, head here.

    Hey, guys! Welcome back to the sixth installment of my current series, Absolute Fretboard Mastery!

    Today we’re going to simplify and understand an extremely important part of music theory: chord progressions. Like all the knowledge areas we’ve covered so far in this series (See RELATED CONTENT to the left), I’m going to explain this in the simplest of terms so you can achieve a thorough understanding and absolute mastery of this concept. This will, in turn, help you as you get deeper into music theory and start applying this knowledge in your own music.

    In last month’s lesson, we learned about expanding the pentatonic scale into a diatonic scale by adding two tones. In this month’s lesson, we’re going to learn the six functional chords that operate within the context of a diatonic scale. In simpler terms, if we were to play something in G major, we’re going to learn the six chords we can use to build various chord progressions within this key.

    Let’s start by talking about what is referred to as the I IV V chord progression in the key of G major. I want to start off with this particular key because it’s very common and used in a lot of country and rock music.

    If we were to take the key of G major, the first five tones that are in this key are G, A, B, C and D. So the I, IV and V chords are G, C and D.

    Before we get too deep into the musical theory behind this, I want you to familiarize yourself with how these three chords sound together. Go ahead and start playing around with them in different orders, familiarizing your ear with how these progressions sound. For starters, we’re going to keep things simple and first learn the I IV V chords for the following keys:

    I IV V
    A E D
    C F G
    D G A
    E A B
    G C D

    Again, when learning these basic I IV V chord progressions in these five keys, I want you to play them together in various orders to familiarize yourself with what they sound like.

    Another thing you’ll start to notice at this point is that everyone from Van Halen to AC/DC to Van Morrison uses these basic I IV V chords in their tunes. And the cool thing about this is that just by learning these basic I IV V chords you’ll be able to jam along to a lot of simple songs.

    And if you’re ever in a situation where you’re asked to jam over an unknown piece of music, you’ll have a rough guideline on what to play. For example, if you know you’re jamming in G major, you’ll know you’ll most likely be playing a C and a D at some point.

    Next, we’re going to add the VI and II and III chords into these progressions. But before we get into that, there's a basic idea I want you to learn. Whenever we’re in a major scale, I IV and V chords are always major, and the II III and VI are always minor. This changes when we start talking about minor scales and modes, but that’s further down the line. So, for now, remember that whenever you play in a major key, the I IV and V chords are always major and the II III and VI chords are always minor.

    Let’s start off with the VI chord, which often is used prolifically in any chord progression. If we take the key of G major, we have C and D, which are our IV and V chords. And then we have E minor, which is our VI chord.

    Next, let’s consider the II and III chords, which are also minor. In the key of G major, the first six tones we have are G, A, B, C, D and E. So our II and III chords would be A minor and B minor.

    When we move into keys like F major, we start to come across flats and sharps, which can complicate our learning process. This is why I want you to start off with these five basic keys of A, C, D, E and G.

    The next thing I want to run you through is a little visualization technique involving your barre chords that will help you visualize these chord progressions across your fretboard.

    abs-mastery-chart-1-G.jpg

    So in effect, wherever your I chord is on the sixth string, your IV chord is underneath you on the next string and your V chord is simply two frets higher.

    What’s great about this visualization is that when you need to play in a different key, all you need to do is move the same pattern toward whichever key you need to play in. For example, if you need to play in the key of A major, all you’d have to do is move this pattern up a couple of frets.

    abs-mastery-chart-2-A.jpg

    And if you ever need to play in an awkward key like A flat major (when you might not know the IV and V chords), by learning this visual pattern, you’d still be able to play in this key and figure out what your IV and V chords are after actually playing them. Next, let’s add the VI, II and III chords into this same visualization.

    So if we were to go back to the key of G major, where our I IV and V chords are G, C and D, our VI chord, which is E minor, is simply two frets higher from the V chord.

    abs-mastery-chart-3.jpg

    Again, the only thing you’d need to play in a different key, say F major, for instance, is move this visual pattern to that position.

    abs-mastery-chart-4.jpg

    Last but not least we have the II and III chords, which in the case of G major are A minor and B minor. So our II chord is simply two frets higher from our I chord and our III chord is two frets higher again from the II chord.

    abs-mastery-chart-5.jpg

    Once we put this all together, we end up with a box-shaped visualization that can help us figure out the I, II, III, IV, V and VI chords in any major key.

    abs-mastery-chart-6.jpg

    By memorizing this pattern and remembering that the I IV and V chords are always major and the II III and VI chords are always minor, we can pretty much play in any major key we want while learning the exact chords in the key after actually playing them.

    The last thing I want you to do this month is to combine what we learned today with what we learned last week with the diatonic scales. Say we have a I (C), V (G), II (D minor), IV (F) chord progression in the key of C major that you want to solo over; you can meander over this chord progression using the C diatonic scale while paying attention to your phrasing and pausing, etc.

    So as always practice hard and work on internalizing everything we’ve learned so far. This way, as we move through the lessons for the next few months and get deeper into chordal and scalelular theory, you’ll be able to draw on this understanding and make more sense of the more advanced bodies of knowledge.

    Soloing Mastery with Steve Stine starts June 21, 2014. Click HERE for more information and to enroll.

    Steve Stine is a longtime and sought-after guitar teacher who is professor of Modern Guitar Studies at North Dakota State University. Over the last 27 years, he has taught thousands of students, including established touring musicians, and released numerous video guitar lesson courses via established publishers. A resident of Fargo, North Dakota, today he is more accessible than ever before through the convenience of live online guitar lessons at Lessonface.com.


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    This video has been played on YouTube more than 158 million times — but here it is again, just in case you've missed it!

    It's Canadian band Walk off the Earth — with singer Sarah Blackwood — playing a clever cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" using the same Epiphone acoustic guitar, all at once.

    Each performer is using a different part of the guitar to sound like something else (guitar, bass, drums, etc.) and takes turns singing.

    "I know who to ask for help with acoustic versions of 'Somebody': Walk Off The Earth. Hilarious and brilliant," tweeted Gotye, the Australian indie rocker. Singer Kimbra, whose part Blackwood handles on the cover, added on Facebook: "This is truly awesome! Now, THAT'S team work."


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    For many years — I guess before Eddie Van Halen and "Eruption" came along — Cream's "Crossroads" was THE song to pull out at parties to impress friends, girls, uncles, cousins, neighbors, animals, etc.

    Below, you can hear Van Halen play Eric Clapton's famous guitar solo — pretty much note for note, we might add — during an 1984 interview with Lisa Robinson for a show called The Inside Track. Legend has it the interview took place in Van Halen's hotel room, which is where he's sitting when he plays Clapton's parts.

    Robinson starts things off by saying, "You can play many different styles of guitar, can't you? You were telling me before you can play 'Crossroads' note for note."

    Van Halen takes it from there.

    Not that you need to be reminded of how brilliant Clapton was during his Cream years, but be sure to pay attention to the phrasing of the solo as you hear Van Halen play it without bass and drums.

    P.S.: You also can hear it here!

    Additional Content

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    The new Talkin' Blues DVD is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $14.99!

    With more than 90 minutes of instruction, Talkin' Blues provides you with 10 in-depth video lessons on essential blues musical elements and guitar-playing techniques.

    Keith Wyatt's Talkin' Blues DVD will teach you:

    • Precision string bending
    • Low-register phrasing for musical effect
    • How to use fills effectively
    • Chicken-pickin' phrases for a funky feel
    • How to bring your licks to life with accented notes
    • Jazz-blues techniques:extensions, alterations and substitutions
    • How to make licks groove with swinging eighth notes

    ... and much more to build your blues chops!

    Your instructor: For more than 35 years, Keith Wyatt (who also happens to be a Guitar World columnist) has been active as a guitarist and educator specializing in American music. He is a prolific author of books, instructional videos and columns on subjects ranging from theory and ear training to beginning guitar methods and blues and "roots" styles.

    Since 1978, Keith has been an instructor at the world-famous Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, where he also serves as Director of Curriculum. Since 1996, he has been touring internationally and recording with LA's legendary Blasters.

    Head to the Guitar World Online Store now!


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    For this month’s column, we’re going to focus on a Steel Panther song that is so great and so hooky, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine that it even exists. “Community Property,” from our 2009 album, Feel the Steel, contains a grand total of four chords, which, to me, is a good thing. Simplicity can be great.

    For example, I want all of my girlfriends to only have one vagina. That’s enough for me.

    FIGURE 1 illustrates the song’s opening chord sequence. The coolest thing about these chords is that they all incorporate the open top two strings, and I only have to move one finger to switch from one chord to the next. When I go from Asus2 to C#m7, I add the ring finger at the fourth fret on the A string. To switch from C#m7 to Bsus4, the index finger moves down to the A string’s second fret while the ring finger moves up to the fourth fret on the D string.

    Simple! The quick shifts between Bsus4 and E5 are made by lifting the ring finger while simultaneously barring the index finger across the A and D strings at the second fret. Even simpler!

    The chorus section uses the same chords, as shown in FIGURE 2. The song is in the key of E major, so this progression is known as a basic I-IV–V (“one-four-five”) in E. Notice that the E note on the D string and the B note on the G string never move; they stay in the same position for all of the chords. Brilliant, right? I know, because it cost a lot of money to hire the team of songwriters that wrote the song.

    Even the bridge section uses the same chords (see FIGURE 3), and this progression is the one I solo on. I’ve gotten more girls on my jock from this one song than you’ve had in your life—and I don’t even know how old you are! FIGURE 4 illustrates the solo, which, overall, is very melodic and is based on the notes of the E major scale (E F# G# A B C# D#).

    I end the solo, however, with a very fast tapping phrase. On the top two strings, I use my middle finger to tap at the 19th fret while pulling off between the 16th, 14th and 12th frets. The tap then moves down to the 18th fret, and the lowest fret-hand note moves up to the 13th fret.

    Practice this lick slowly and build up the speed because it’s, like, bitchin’ly hard to do. This is the last installment of Man of Steel. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve learned nearly as much as I have over the course of these lessons. See you on the road, bitches!

    PART ONE



    PART TWO



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    Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.01.51 PM.png


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    This past week, Jack White has been on a publicity blitz for his just-released solo album, Lazaretto.

    Earlier this week, he stopped by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon for the second time in a month to perform two cuts off the new album.

    Last night, White's late-night-TV tour continued with an interview and performance on Conan. He performed "Temporary Ground" and "Alone in My Home" after discussing the ubiquity of the White Stripes'"Seven Nation Army"— and why he doesn't want cellphones at his concerts.

    Check out clips of the interview (bottom) and his two performances (top) below. We're sorry in advance for the commercials you have to watch before the videos start!

    "Temporary Ground":

    "Alone In My Home":

    Interview, Part 1:

    Interview, Part 2:


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    Epiphone has introduced two new guitars, the Les Paul Classic-T and the FT-350SCE Acoustic/Electric, both of which come with the company's Min-ETune system. The company refers to the models as the world's first affordable self-tuning guitars.

    From Epiphone:

    The Min-ETune system is the proven system to keep your guitar tuned to standard pitch as well as alternate tunings quickly and accurately. A guitar with Min-ETune feels the same, looks the same (the unit mounts onto the back of your guitar’s headstock) and plays the same.

    Most importantly, it sounds the same since Min-ETune works by tuning the actual strings, not by digital trickery that degrades your tone. Save time and money in the studio, keep the flow going on-stage, enhance your creativity with new tunings, and more. You take care of the playing—we’ll handle the tuning.

    For more about the new models, click on the individual links above or head HERE. For more about Min-ETune, be sure to watch the video below.


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