Friday, May 29, 2009

On and On and On and On, or "If you thought 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' was ironic, take a look at 'Die Young'"

I'm watching Heaven and Hell on VH1 Classic right now. For those who don't know, and who don't read I ♥ Guitar, Heaven and Hell is the new name for Black Sabbath, minus Ozzy and Bill Ward, plus Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio. Heaven and Hell-era early 80s Sabbath. Considering the revolving door on the vocalist slot since Mob Rules, the band has more claim to the Sabbath name than nearly any point in the last 25 years, occasional reunions with Ozzy like Live Aid to the contrary. Of course, any band that includes Tony Iommi with a detuned SG has the right and nearly the duty to call itself Sabbath. Which makes the H&H decision much more confusing to me. Maybe Tony's tired of "Paranoid" and "Iron Man".

But there is a big difference between Ozzy-led and Dio-led Sabbath, isn't there? Later Sabbath is more ambitious to my ears. I like Ozzy, really, but clearly Ronnie can sing circles around him.

But since the name has been left sitting around, I guess someone should pick it up. Seems it's Ozzy. This really puzzles me. By whatever name, Sabbath has been Iommi's band since before Ozzy joined in and now for 30 years after Ozzy was kicked out. I have problems understanding the grounds Ozzy thinks he has.

Oh well.

Crap Game Floats On....

Jack Pribek claimed it back and it's a tough one. Don't know where I'm going on that one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How To Not Suck, Chapter 18: Zero In

I follow Tom Hess on Twitter. Making musicians better and making music teachers better is pretty much his thing. And seeing that one of his free articles is calles An Analysis of "SUCK", it seems like that's a natural for this part of the blog to hit on it.

Here's two bullet points from Mr. Hess:
  • Do NOT compare yourself to your friend. Do not let your friend (or anyone else) set the standard for you to aspire to. One should have fixed in his/her mind the vision of the type of player one wants to become. Generally speaking, you don’t want your “next door neighbor” to be the definition of your ideal long term “vision”. If I could magically take your friend’s skills away would you feel better about yourself simply because he was not as good as you? Keep in mind that your skills would be the same as they are now, the only difference is that your friend’s skills were taken away or diminished. Your attitude about your own progress should be centered completely around where you are in the journey to realize your goals.

  • After you have reconciled your thoughts with the first piece of advice, you are ready for the second. In general, the greatest players are not great because they were naturally talented. In every case, truly great players become great (and make a lot of progress in relatively shorter periods of time) because their practice habits are EFFECTIVE. You see, they not only put in the time and effort as you do, but that time and effort is focused and effective. It appears that your practice habits have not been effective. I do not believe you lack the necessary potential to make significant progress. You just aren’t being effective. You seem to believe that you “CANNOT”. I propose that you can, but that you simply “HAVE NOT”. Certainly you are trying, but the efforts are bearing little fruit…

That is two pieces of great general advice: You suck or not on your own merits, not the relative merits of others, and greatness comes from effective practice. As I started out, "practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect".

He further goes to how of the practice, getting to a very specific piece of advice on the subject at hand. He had a student who had problems playing the intro to "Stairway to Heaven". Now, I personally cannot and do not want to learn the intro to "Stairway", but that's the facts of this case. The student played the intro from the beginning, but had the problem at the fourth chord, a D/F#. The solution for him was to stop hitting the parts he knew (the first three chords, in this example), and focus on the specific part that was the trouble.

Hitting the previous chapter, the video uses the example of Tiger Woods working on sand traps. He went to the sand trap and practiced that. He didn't start at the tee. If you have a problem point, don't use your practice time dawdling on the stuff you can do well, but jump directly to the part where you suck.

Look here for further reading.

Monday, May 25, 2009

There Was A Time When I'd Be All Over This

In 1977, Neil Young released Decade, meant to cover his work from 1966 to 1976. He's about to release the above collection. That's set to be 1963-1972. This leads to two observations. The first, he's stopping just before the death of Danny Whitten. The second, Neil has 10 discs of Blu-Ray goodness to fill, which puts it at half a terabyte. My goodness, that's a lot of space. It's known that he hates CDs, so big WAVs seem like the way, but it seems like he's covered this ground before. And yeah, it ends near Harvest, but really, CSNY to the contrary, it seems like the interesting era for Niel is post-Harvest. Considering how this is really Decade 2, or really Decade 2.0, it makes me wonder why he hit that ground again rather than hitting another part of his career.

Yeah, there are people who would spend $300 to get it. I think I'll just spin Arc again.

Red Eyed and Blue

If you saw I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, you know that much of the documentary is about the failing relationship between Jay Farrar and Jay Bennett, going to Bennett having a separate soundcheck from the rest of the band to complete separation.

Jay Bennett RIP

Whatever Happened I Apologize (Free Download)
The FrontLoader
Aquarium Drunkard
Addicted to Vinyl
My Old Kentucky Home
Chicago Sun-Times

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Night Cage Match/Fondue Party/Evolving Conversation/Dancing About Architecture/Floating Crap Game Volume 5

I have a thought about doing this about labels. We could have a round-robin:

Stax or Motown?

Sun or Chess?

Sub-Pop or SST?

Death Row or Def Jam?

The Elite Eight?

Maybe later.

I've gone with personalities so far. We'll go with something different.

D'Addario or Ernie Ball?

On Retaining Knowledge

In the end we retain from our studies only that which we practically apply.
-- Uli Latus

Since I've started talking about Gretsches...

See that guitar? Best shot I see is 16 seconds in.

Randy Bachman says it is his.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

John 5 Memory

Last post on John 5 at Sweetwater.

John was asked what kind of stuff he liked to listen to when he wasn't rocking out. He said that he was a big fan of older stuff, like CCR. He then started trying to do "Suzie Q".

There are many of you who know where I'm going with this at that mention.

"Suzie Q" is a cover. It was originally done by Dale Hawkins, with the lick done by James Burton. He's mentioned enough here that he probably deserves his own label. Which is about true for John 5 as well. John Fogerty is a good songwriter, good singer and all, but he is not anybody's idea of a technical guitarist. James Burton played with dead thumb on that, but John Fogerty just plays the notes James fingerpicked. It works, and everybody loves the song.

John 5 said CCR, but when he tried to play it, he tried to do the James Burton version. And, like me, he couldn't quite make it work. So he jumped ahead to something else.

Maybe John 5 should listen to some Joe Pass, too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Curious as to why Open G is called Spanish?

ETA: The first version I had heard.

Norman Blake, "Spanish Fandango"

The Slack Key people call "Spanish" "Taro Patch", and especially with Norman's 4/4 take, can't you just see it as a Slack Key piece?

More John 5

John 5, playing the National Anthem with his teeth, Hendrix-style. A shot I wish I got with a far better camera than I had. Thank you, Matthew Place

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Education on Lap-Style Guitar

On repertoire

"He always had a song for any kind of culture or any event, whether it was cowboys, Indians, prisoners, Christians, atheists. You name it, he had a song for it. Being prepared with a song and a story about it was a great lesson."
-- Marty Stuart, lessons learned from playing with Johnny Cash

Posted Without Comment

John 5 at Sweetwater

I know I have mentioned John 5 before. He's just about the only metal guy or shredder out there who rocks out on a Telecaster. I mean, I think I recall a guy in a band in the early 80s who might've played a modified one, but really, nobody else immediately comes to mind.

I don't think I have mentioned Sweetwater Sound. They're a catalog/website music store, where I got my Samson D/I box, with which I am very happy. They also have a storefront. And what a storefront it is. Or not. That is to say, they're trumped by far by the selection, acoustic and electric, of Dave's Guitar who I visited last summer. But Dave's Guitar, to my knowledge, does not have a studio. It also does not have a lecture hall/concert hall, much less a really nice one.

But wait. I'm ahead of myself.

John 5 came to Sweetwater, in the beautiful outskirts of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to shred and answer questions, and to show off the Squier take on his Fender signature model.

Let me first hit all the guitar geek points:
  • Fender Heavy picks
  • .009 "sissy girl strings". His word, not mine
  • Tuner, Noise Suppressor, OD pedal, Fender Frontman series practice amp. Pretty sure DSP. "You don't need a lot of money to get started", he says.
  • No brands other than Fender were mentioned, so I don't know which pedals.
  • The Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie live albums he's on were recorded 100% live with no overdubs, for which he is very proud.
  • He doesn't own a B-Bender, which he says he should talk to the Fender rep about.

Interesting point: He doesn't smoke or drink. I don't know why I was surprised by that, but I was. I was also very glad that my son, who I brought along, got to hear that. One time, on tour, Dimebag made him take a shot and he hated it.

There were, of course, freebies raffled off at the end. I didn't get anything, but seeing as I got my Soul of Tone t-shirt literally right before we left.

There was a signing table after the show, while the line went through, Niel and I went to look at the guitars. As a word of warning, I would mention that the electric room after a shred seminar is like Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon times 10. I mentioned that entering the electric room was a mistake to the sales guy. He looked at me and said "I can't hear you!" I said "Exactly!" But I did see some things that are absolutely great. There was a Hot Rod '52 Tele that was nice to play, and another, a Highway One, I think, that had a Greasebucket tone circuit, which I think I need to know more about. And I tried a Gretsch. I'm not sure if you really need a neck volume, bridge volume and master volume, but it sounded great. I very much want one.

Not to mention the amp. I plugged into a Hot Rod Deluxe in Python! That would be too much for my next church gig. In a good way. I think.

Incidently, I am now convinced that I am well and truly bald. I am considering going Kojak.

Anyway, eventually, we joined the end of the line. I went out, grabbed my #1 and had him sign the back of the headstock.

I figure a blast of clearcoat should keep that reasonably preserved. And I guess my #1 is now my #5. And I need a better digital camera.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Blog Does Not Endorse The Use of Alcohol

Nor, really, the use of recreational chemicals, premarital sex or the objectification of women. Yet when the mix tape from a decade ago that he shoved into the tapedeck of the Cosmik Debris the other day contained the Gourds playing "Gin and Juice", he turned it up, despite the presence of all the kids for that trip to the library.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Night Cage Match/Fondue Party/Evolving Conversation/Dancing About Architecture/Floating Crap Game Volume 3

First, a reminder, you must must must MUST MUST MUST claim responsibility with your response should you want to host the cage match. That's important.

Second, it seems that I overreached a little, picking the two giants of jazz trumpet and asking who was taller. Nobody today can even see that high, I suppose. Today, I will set my sights a little lower, a little more approachable.

First, a little context.

Do we all have that? Do we know what the core of this is?

Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page

Health Warning

Teles = Death

Which is what makes 'em cool.

I suppose I should properly label my guitar....

Picture from Adirondack Guitar

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Crossing Over

At about 3:10, you'll hear Jake E. Lee dive bomb the low E on his Charvel.

Jake E. Lee.

Doesn't really have a Floyd Rose on that Charvel of his, does he? Do they even make Charvel guitars without Floyd Rose bridges?

And where does a guy get that idea? A raging shredder, holding the spot on Ozzy's stage that Randy Rhoads held before and Zakk Wylde would soon take. Where might he get such a thing?


(I would've used a Buck Trent video, one showing off the P90-loaded banjo he has that sounds like a Telecaster should, but I couldn't find one that was embeddable. So, J.D. Crowe gets the nod.)

Now that's pretty specific tuning, isn't it? Right on. Jake has said in interviews that it was not a sure thing that he'd tune that E right on return, but by the end of the tour, he'd get it right most of the time. J. D. Crowe did it, over and over again.

He had help. Either Bill Keith's tuners or the knock offs. You set two screws, which lock an uptuned and downtuned position.

(I bet he's going to bring up Clarence White about now. That's about how he goes.)

Clarence White put a set on his guitar, on the E and A. This would let him go to Drop D (DADGBE) or pretty close to Open G (DGDGBE). (Theory is, I understand, that you keep your high solo strings the same but can drone on the low strings. Marty, as you see, has them set on the E strings, which allows him to drop both to D (DADGBD).

Are there other ways to do it? Yeah.

But with Scruggs tuners, you can put 'em on all six strings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How To Not Suck, Chapter 17: Push It Real Good

Talent is overrated, he says. You take that talent and you push it. You can play this fast, but can you get faster? You can grab the seventh with your pinky while playing a jazz chord, but can you hit the ninth? You can play 3/4, but can you do 5/4?

They call it woodshedding, the time you spend with your instrument. Why? Because when you pick up the instrument, when you are practicing, you are taking something that you know sucks, and working out how to make it not suck. You are, in essence, sucking big time and annoying everyone around you, which, in the woodshed, should just be you, your instrument, your firewood, and the bugs you're supposed to not move your firewood because of. You are taking this opportunity to suck wildly, with abandon.

(Niel, this means you don't bring your guitar to the table and noodle during dinner. Never let 'em see you suck.)

Monday, May 4, 2009


Pearl dots made me think of pearl buttons.

Pearl buttons made me think of pearl buttons.

The tentative name for the beast is "Satellite". The instrument I am leaning toward emulating with this one on has two banjo tuners on it, to get a quick and easy transition to D and G. At least when Clarence played it. Now that Marty has it, he has them on the E strings and just goes to drop-D.

Pearl dots? $7 for 10, plus shipping.

Pearl buttoned tuners? $25 for a set.

Pearl buttoned banjo tuners? $80 for a set of 2.

Plus of course $200 or so for the Hipshot B-Bender that I'll need to catch the flavor.

I won't hit this all at once, but by Crom, I shall have it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Diving into the Deep End

I almost forgot. My son asked to get .012s for his guitar. He got some, and I strung it up, and dang, there wasn't nearly enough spring tension to hold the bridge down. It's a standard Fender-style, and it was already nearly fully out. There was no down left. So I down-tuned, cut out a wood block, and blocked off his trem. We'll work something out in the future. Maybe drop-tuning to D standard. Maybe when we replace the trem with one with a complete, non-broken block, we'll add 2 more springs. Maybe we'll drop down to .011 or .010. But right now, he's a bridge-cable player and I am so proud.

No Pictures Today

The non-orange of the maple is apparent now. The first four buttons are now totally gone. I went to Hobby Lobby today, hoping to find the right kind of dowel to fit in there and replace the buttons, but guess what? Hobby Lobby is closed on Sunday. I also need them for the logo.

StewMac also has buttons. Lots and lots and lots of buttons. I don't know if pearl or abalone buttons will show up on a maple neck that well, but that's how I'm leaning.

I showed the neck to a friend who works with wood on occasion, and he suggested hitting the fretboard (and the fretboard only) with another blast of stripper, because there's filler or something fairly thick on there.

It's worth it to order a set of StewMac buttons, I think, because I'll have to end up getting a new nut anyway, and that'll just add $7 to the order.

Cat Power and the Raconteurs on WFYI's feed of Austin City Limits this evening. It makes crazy sense to me for the Raconteurs to play ACL, as there's a lot of Jack Black (Correction: Jack White) stuff that sounds to me like it could easily be 13th Floor Elevators.

The worship leader is leading a band for National Day of Prayer, and has asked me to play at noon. I'm unsure, as I'll be working at noon. I can probably arrange something. The biggest amp I have is a Frontman 25R, which is not big enough to play out with. Most of the time, I play going DI. But I think I'd enjoy it, and should I really say no when people give me a chance to play out. So, I'll see.

And tomorrow, I will try to first saw up and second take pictures of the thing I hope/plan to make into my first home-made instrument. Well, it'll still be homemade if I order the pickups from Guitar Fetish or something, right?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Do Guitar Necks Grow On Trees?

For those considering getting an SX from Rondo and using it as a modification platform, I have a few words of warning.

The stripper will not take off the SX label.

The stripper will do a number on the nut, so pull that first, or expect to replace it with a bone nut or something at a later date.

And the stripper will do a number on your position dots. A couple of mine are now about half-gone.

But it looks good, doesn't it? Now it'll air out some, then it'll get sanded down some, then I'll go with tru-oil or tung oil. Don't really know which at the moment. But it's coming together.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Night Cage Match/Fondue Party/Evolving Conversation/Dancing About Architecture/Floating Crap Game Volume 2

I've been thinking all week about this. I have ideas, but I am just a bit stuck. I've gone through some ideas: Nitro or Poly the Texas Playboys or the Andrews Sisters? None really sang.

Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis?

First to claim it hosts the next Cage Match, unless Jack calls it back home.

The Man With The Blue Shiny Post-Modern Bowling-Ball Curly-Maple-Necked with a Batman Headstock Guitar

... sold it on Ebay.

Body was finished in "bowling ball" process... very durable! Which can be useful in some situations.

Is This Too Clever?

I want to make/mod a guitar. Butterscotch blonde. Blackguard. Esquire.

With this, or something like it, stuck to the top.

It's be my "Wile E. Coyote" Esquire.

And, of course, I order the wiring harness and pickup from Acme.