Thursday, July 30, 2009


Parents are in town, so I've been away from the computer a lot. I have, instead, been in the yard, taking down a lot of stuff I should've taken down a while ago, and trying to get my lawnmower working again.

But, we had practice for Sunday on Tuesday, and I'll be playing electric then, which I love. There's one funk-inspired song that really screamed out Nile Rodgers to me, so that's what I'm bringing to the table. And on Wednesday, our normal lead guitar stayed home and crashed (he wakes up for work at 4am or something) so I got to play lead. Or only -- when you're backing a singer, you're going to be playing more harmony and rhythm than taking on lead/melody lines yourself. I tried a double-stop harmonizing bit, as shown in a recent Arlen Roth lesson. I first read about it in one of his instructional books years ago. I'm not sure it sounded right, which makes me wish we could record these things. I might bring along my laptop and hook to a spare position with the in-ear and try to record some of this. That might be cool, but it certainly be instructive.

See you later@

Saturday, July 25, 2009

At least I was amused

The office goes to lunch on Fridays, and today we were talking about the Kindle. If you haven't been paying attention, there's a company that released a version of George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984. Amazon released it on the Kindle, but, as it turned out, had no rights for that. In the paper world, Amazon would probably pulp their remaining stock and pay a higher rate for the stuff they sold, but in the electronic world, they could tell your Kindle to delete it. (And credited your account for what you spent.)

It was decided that the big annoyance is the annotations. With the Kindle, you an evidently you can write notes and store them with the source, but whatever you had went away when they deleted it. And that thought inspired a line.

"I've found and elegant solution, but it is too large to fit in the buffer of my Kindle"

That's the joke. That's why I brought it up.

Sad, isn't it?

This evening, I started playing and I noticed that a scratchy, sitar-like tone was coming out when I hit the G on the low E string. Not of F#, not on G#, not on another string. So I poke, and I raise the saddle and reintonate. Problem didn't go away.

I was plugged in. My fretless acoustic was leaning on the side of my amp, but the strings were open. I was vibrating an open string.

How was your day?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Look at this cover.

So shapely. So natural. So right.

So beautiful.

And the player is talented, too.

Her name is Joyce Cooling, and evidently some blogs I read have known about her for a good long time. There's music samples on her website, you can find the pictured album on Amazon.

A maple Tele Thinline with with a Rickenbacker-style F-hole and acoustic bridge. That's interesting. I'm very curious about the electronics on that instrument.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Explain The Effect: Tremolo

Tremolo is one of my favorite effects. It is (a) tremulous effect produced by rapid repetition of a single tone. It's so cool that it's built into the best Fender amps, like the Vibrolux and the Twin Reverb. It is clear that Leo Fender didn't have great understanding of musical terms, calling tremolo vibrato and vice versa, but that's OK with me.

My tremolo is a Danelectro Cool Cat Tremolo. When I went looking for a trem, I tried a few more trems, including the EHX Stereo Pulsar, but I couldn't dial in what I considered to be a Fender tremolo on the the others, and that's what I really wanted.

You can get a generalized warble with 'em, which is where I normally go with it. You can kick the speed up to max and get a stuttering effect. All good things. But the thing I'm mostly trying to put together these days is kicking the speed back a little, hiding my fingerpicking in the quiet spots so you can't hear the attack. It can sound like an arpeggiated 70s synth a bit, although I don't know that I captured it here, with the acoustic sound of the guitar coming in too clear. I do know that I've captured the sound of my mic distorting. I was going over a couple of standard chord progressions, nothing clever, but I think I can put this into something.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Object Of My Effection

This is it. The instrument I want. That is the Nashville B-Bender Tele. It's got the reverse-wound Strat middle pickup, so you can get the "out-of-phase" Strat second and fourth position in addition to the neck/bridge/both standard Tele wiring. Plus, the B-Bender.

I have gone on about the B-Bender before, but in case you haven't heard it, here goes: by pulling down on the neck, you sharpen the B string up to C#. It's to get pedal steel bends on a normal guitar. Clarence White of the Byrds is the first B-Bender player, but you may have heard the instrument on Led Zeppelin's "All Of My Love" or Metallica's "Unforgiven II".

I have a Tele. I have two, as a matter of fact. But I need the B-Bender.

Hey, Stratoblogster!

Cover this Strato-Brother!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bleedin' Right Before The Lord

Eastwood Guitars make the cool stuff, the funky instruments that came out in the 50s and 60s and sometimes even 70s that showed up in Sears showrooms then on pawn shop walls and now are in the hands of collectors.

That's my take on it, at least. I have never held one in my hands. I'd love to have one, but I don't.

But they're having a contest. Play the riff to Jack Black White's most covered song, "Seven Nation Army", and put it on YouTube, and you can win their version of a '59 Airline Custom.

Makes me think there's trademark issues.

But they don't say it like that. They say Jack. They say E E/G E D C B. Having never tried to pick it up myself, I don't know for sure that's "Seven Nation Army", but it seems pretty close.

So good luck, tell me if you win, folks, and I'll put my "Seven Eastwood Army" video here once I made it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture

Booker T. and the Drive-By Truckers, playing a song by Andre 3000 which was inspired by the Strokes.

Lonely Tele

Lonely Tele
Originally uploaded by sturgeon_genral
Kinda a flickr test, but isn't that a great pic? With a Tele headstock at that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Sweep Picking Attempt

I will be watching, observing my lack of technique. Please do the same.

Sweep Picking and TinyLick

My TinyLick

I think it was IHeartGuitar that pointed me to TinyLick, and the TinyLick I made is from Tom Hess' sweep picking example.

And I have a netbook with a camera now, so I'll show how I fail at getting it down soon.

Stones, October 1973

"You Can't Always Get What You Want".

I think this is better than the one on Let It Bleed

In Case You're Sober

This is one of the classic guitar hacks: You can take the red rubber off the stopper of a Grolsch bottle and put it on the buttons of your guitar as a quick-and-easy strap lock.

That is, if you drink beer.

I do not.

Adam Levy has a series of lessons, and among them is ...
Lesson #5. Keep your guitar strap from falling off. Sure, you can buy hardware specifically designed to keep your strap locked on, but some such products can be a drag because you have to modify your guitar to install them. Thanks to guitar-tech extraordinaire Kelly Macaulay for suggesting a cheap, easy-to-use alternative that requires no alterations to your instrument: neoprene rubber faucet washers, available at any ol' hardware store for about 69 cents. The ones I use are made by the Danco Company of Concordville, Pennsylvania. The Danco stock number is 61805B - these are 1-1/4" in diameter, 1/6" thick, and have a 1/4" hole in the center. To get the washer over your strap button, use the first finger and thumb of each hand to grip it at the 9 o'clock position and 3 o'clock position, then pull in opposite directions. That'll open the hole just enough to get it onto your strap button. (Your strap should already be on the guitar first. The washers go over your strap ends.) Removal is even easier - grab the edge of the washer and pull it over the button and toward the opposite side, as if turning the page of a book.
My main Tele has Schaller straplocks. My backup is in the shop, waiting for me to pay for the new bone nut it sports, and because I can see wanting to swap straps between it and my main one, it will get Schallers, too. But my acoustic? That would really use these. Especially as that one sports my wonderful 25-year-old wide long and comfortable strap with the worn-out holes.

I'm on the skinny end of the month, so I won't be giving the Danco Company of Concordville, Pennsylvania any of my money right now, nor the Grolsch Brewery of the Netherlands. But yeah, that looks like a great idea.

Of course, you can just use a big metal washer if you aren't going to take the strap off the instrument, or an eye-bolt like Eddie Van Halen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Tele Crack'd

This guitar was built for Keith Urban by Yuriy Shishkov of the Fender Custom Shop. (FenderCustom on Twitter.) Inspired by Paul Stanley's shattered-glass Ibanez Iceman, this guitar is built slimmer and lighter to offset the added width and weight of the glass. The body is also arched, so that stage lights will reflect in all sorts of angles.

Look on the FenderCustom TwitPic page and you'll see other pictures, including what is truly the prettiest birds-eye maple neck I believe I have ever seen.


Trent Reznor said:
Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of mouth is the only true marketing that matters....
This brought about a thought.

Nowadays, musicians develop the album, record the album and tour the album. They avoid any leaking of the album until the time the record hits the shelves. U2, to name one I can recall, has worked hard to keep leaked tracks off YouTube.

But that isn't the only way. I recently watched a documentary on the making of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and before the recording, when it was still called Eclipse, they toured on it. I am sure that certain people in the know had and played recordings of the songs before they were officially released. Certainly that familiarity with the material and audience reaction helped in recording and editing of what has proven to be one of the greatest selling albums of all time.

So, what happens if you develop the songs, the overarching suite, and never go into the studio and record it? Release the soundboard recording of this part when you think you have it down, then another piece from another when you like that. Maybe go back to the first one if you play it well again.

I dunno. I'm just spitballing. Does this make any sense?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Gatton Chord

This is from Danny Gatton's Telemaster! video.
E ---5---
B ---5---
G ---5---
D ---7---
A ---8---
E ---6---
Bass to treble, Bb F A C E A. But what is it? If you just take the high four, A C E A, and you got yourself an A minor. Add the F and you get an F major 7. But that Bb, in the root no less. What does it make it? Bb is the 4th. Normally people shove the 4th in high, not low.

But go play it. Give it a shot.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Strapped Redux

I have it. Sweetwater said "keep it". And it is longer than the previous strap. Happy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How To Not Suck, Chapter 19: Pardon the Transposition

A quick graph.

           1     2m    3m     4     5     6m     7

C Major : C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
D Major : D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim
E Major : E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim
F Major : F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim
G Major : G Am Bm C D Em F#dim
A Major : A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim
B Major : B C#m D#m E F# G#m A#dim
C# Major : C# D#m E#m F# G# A#m B#dim
Eb Major : Eb Fm Gm Ab Bb Cm Ddim
F# Major : F# G#m A#m B C# D#m E#dim
Ab Major : Ab Bbm Cm Db Eb Fm Gdim
Bb Major : Bb Cm Dm Eb F Gm Adim

Learn it. Know it. Live it.

You cannot capo a voice. Singers move songs higher if they can and lower if they must, and songs you've played for years in one key, you might have to play it in another.

Like I did this evening.

With chord sheets and no pen. Always trying to remember F Bb Dm7 C is now C F Am7 G, next to three other guys with no pens, trying to remember that it's now C F Am7 G too.

And United Isn't The Only One

United Breaks Guitars

To be fair, it's my understanding that it is O'Hare that breaks guitars, not specifically United Airlines.


Meet Johnny Depp.

I can't have that hair. I couldn't grow a goatee to save my life. I can't have a blackguard Tele. I suppose I can have the slightly post-grunge wardrobe, but on me, it'd look more like Tad than Depp. But I could have that strap. Which was one of my goals for going to Gearfest.

But, as I said in the post, they kinda accidentally sold that one out from under me. Which was OK, because the guy in the warehouse gave me this strap. Depp is 5'9" and skinny. I am 6'3" and rotund. The strap rides a little shorter than I would like, but I am happy enough with it. (And I am aware that the Planet Waves is about $10 more expensive, but I'm not going to make a big deal about that.)

But I got an email from Sweetwater. It says that they have sent me a Fender vintage-style strap.


It would be so easy for me to just be quiet and say "Free strap!" But that would be Wrong.

When I have the strap, when I'm sure it's not just a phantom weirdness, I will email Sweetwater and say "I have a strap."

Which should be this evening, by their tracking page.

ETA: I have emailed them. They are pondering. We'll see how it goes.

Divining Water Pt III, or a Reasonable Guide to Playing With Effects

Henry Kaiser


Tom Morello

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Honor of the release of the FRV-1

Boss Fender '63 Reverb.

I honestly didn't know that my favorite part of that was done on electric piano.

Up Close And Personal With Slash

Let us go back to the 1980s. On the one hand, you have Hair Metal. Ratt and Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi, who could be cool, going on to Poison and Winger and on and on, further and further from cool. It was all an act, and they just about told you it was all the act. Watch Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years and see Bret Michaels talking about it as a business, and you will have more respect for Bret as a person with a brain and a plan and less and less respect for Poison as a musical entity. On the other hand, you have Thrash. Metallica and Megadeth and Slayer and Anthrax and duggeda-duggeda-dunk dunk-dunk-dunk. Good stuff, but fast and intricate. Switching time signatures in unison. It just didn't swing.

Listen to the Rolling Stones. Especially post-Brian Stones. It's good because it swung. It certainly isn't hard. Once you convince a new guitarist that C# is a key he is able to play in, there is nearly nothing in "Gimme Shelter" that is beyond that new player. Playing it well may take some time, but playing it recognizably is easy.

Then came Guns 'n Roses.

There was a lot of Hair Metal to them, but they departed from script a lot. There's hard stuff — hang around a guitar store and one of the sounds you hear is young guitarists trying and failing to nail the intro to "Sweet Child" on the store's guitars and amps — but the band was more about making a song than making a composition. GnR was the first rock that really rocked hard and really swung since before the Stones released "Miss You", at least to my ears.

This is why, while he's a Les Paul guy and I'm partial to the Tele, I will always be a Slash backer.

Popdose has tapes of Steven Rosen talking to Slash.

Guitar Center has an interview/seminar with Slash on their Youtube channel.

Truth or Bullsh*t

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tears and Blow on my mind....

Hitchhiked back from Blue Earth

When I was attending college in South Dakota, just about everyone I knew had the Jayhawks' Hollywood Town Hall, and most everyone also had their Twin/Tone release, Blue Earth. They came to that school once, after I graduated, but I was in the area before I moved on to Indiana, so I saw them there. Truly, the first lick I stole off an album was the opening to "Take Me With You (When You Go)". A favored band, especially their early work.

They're on the cusp of releasing a best-of/rarities comp, Music From The North Country. Also, there's a following reissue of their albums on Sony. Just like their contemporaries, Uncle Tupelo.

Thing is, I am an owner of all the CDs from Blue Earth to Smile (and I might have some of the Bunkhouse LP tracks....) and I don't really want to buy albums again to get the bonus tracks. I have better things to do with my money.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Let's Go Trippin'

In Indianapolis, the best places I know to go guitar shopping are around the Castleton area, where you have Guitar Center, Sam Ash and IRC Music. If there is a better acoustic room in Indy than Guitar Center, I need to know now.

However, if they have ever had a musician come in and give a seminar at the Castleton Guitar Center, I've never heard about it.

Evidently, they have such things at the Hollywood Guitar Center. This is Dick Dale.

Part 1 of 12. See the whole set.

Friday, July 3, 2009

By the way, Happy Independence Day - 1!

Last night, I played at practice. Lots of B in the new songs. I'll have to go over some things to get them right. We play the first songs fast, man, and I do not have the changes down.

But that's not why I'm posting today.

I have the Danny Gatton Telemaster! video on VHS. Yeah, kickin' it old school here. I play it every couple of years, mostly without a guitar in hand, and just have my mind blown. I tell you now that there's much stuff on that tape I will never be able to play.

And there's stuff I'm getting closer on.

I had my acoustic out. I was at the "Sugarfoot Rag" section, not the organ-faking section, but I started trying to play along. "Sugarfoot Rag" is something I've played at learning for too long — if I spent some time focusing on it, I'd have it down but have no place to play it — so I was trying to hit it. And it sounded odd. In fact, I think I've always thought there was something odd with that tape, but I didn't get it until right then.

Danny isn't in 440. He's flat about halfway to Eb. He's tuned to himself, but not to standard. And you know, now that I know that, it doesn't sound weird anymore.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Telecaster Culture

But as far as a specific guitar culture goes, it’s hard to find anything more hard core than Telecaster culture. Those Tele cats have a jihad thing goin’ on. You don’t even wanna mess with a Tele geek. They assemble at the TDPRI Compound for gorilla strategies and hard drinkin’. Nice bunch of folks, but don’t ever cross ‘em!
— Stratoblogster

Deep Thoughts with Greg Koch